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The story opens with Arthur Delcourt, an American millionaire business man, who, with his wife and three-year-old son, have chartered a yacht and are enjoying a much delayed honeymoon cruise. Following a tropical storm, the yacht strikes a derelict and is wrecked. Arthur Delcourt meets his death when the boats are taken to, but his wife and little son are more fortunate, for they manage to clamber aboard a bit of wreckage. The following day the woman sights a beautiful island; but when the bit of wreckage is gripped by the surf, the woman is devoured by a shark. The child, however, is more fortunate, for he reaches the shore in safety. He, a mere child of three, is the survivor of the fittest! And thus begins a new life for the little waif, for he is found and adopted by Beneiro, the chief of the native village, who believes the child is an answer to recent prayers to the village god, Tsara. The child is named Bantan, meaning white child of the sea of unknown parents.