A History of Hideaway Island

by Justin Clavet

Inspired by the story and the magic of Disney’s Jungle Cruise attraction.

They say that everything the Imagineers create begins with a story.  What follows is is the complete story to be told by Disney’s Jungle Hideaway Resort and Spa, an imagined resort hotel of my own design, featured in the book, A History of Hideaway Island: Storytelling Through Backyard Imagineering.  The exclusive afterword, analyzing the story of Admiral Edward Riles and detailing the resort on Hideaway Island, can be found only in the book.  Purchase your copy today at Amazon.com for only $6.95.

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Note: The images included within the story below are for illustrative purposes only, were not originally created to depict any elements of this story and do not necessarily accurately represent these story elements as imagined by the author.  These historical photographs and illustrations are taken out of their original context, and are represented here with fictitious captions.  The images included this story are in the public domain and were retrieved from the collections of Wikimedia Commons, and the British Library via Flickr.  Click on any image below to be directed to the source it was retrieved from.  For more information, see notices at bottom of page.

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PART ONE: Edward Riles

The ships of the River Thames—a sight of romance and wonder for the young Edward Riles.



Edward Theodore Riles was born in London, England on 17 July 1768.  He was raised by loving, affluent parents who nurtured his early love for adventure.  As a child, Edward wandered the city, discovering new things he had never seen before, often attracted to the river.  He frequently played near the docks, watching ships come and go and people arriving and departing from exotic places all around the world—places he wanted to see himself.  When he was through exploring all he could at home, he decided to take to the sea, and enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of fifteen, on 30 July 1783.

There is no doubt Riles was a terrific seaman.  However, nobody paid much attention to him at the beginning of his career.  Nevertheless, he managed to rise through the ranks in the navy.  Being born blessed with a vivid imagination, he had an astounding ability to tell marvellous tales, dazzling his mates and impressing them to no end.  He used this talent to draw attention to his great feats and heroic actions, which otherwise went unnoticed.  His stories became legendary in the Royal Navy.  He was always willing to tell a tale, and men were always eager to listen.

Over time, his stories began drawing impressive audiences, and whilst on shore leave, Edward would fill taverns anywhere with bewildered seamen listening in awe.  In this way, he made friends with many tavern-keepers, who were always overjoyed when he entered their establishments—and thirsty listeners followed.  On occasion, he was lucky enough to have a superior officer amidst the crowd.  He would never fail to stupefy them—and they would never fail to promote him.

Riles was tall—nearly seven feet—and had an appearance that was both handsome and commanding.  But it was more than his looks that would prove to be notable.  Riles was a born leader.  When he was honoured with a promotion, he took advantage of all the opportunities that came with his new title.  As the Royal Navy’s finest navigator, he and his men were often assigned the most difficult exploration missions.  Agile and quick thinking in times of distress, Riles was also quite accomplished in battle at sea.

His men had come to learn that it was wisest to follow his orders without questioning his judgment, for he had never let them down before.  His cunning had saved them from tragedy on more than one occasion.  They had their fair share of run-ins with pirates, terrible storms, enemies of the Crown, and countless other dangers, but Riles had dominated every conflict without concern.

After forty-five years of service, Riles retired with the honourable title of Admiral on 30 July 1828.


Life with Elizabeth

When he returned home, Edward sought his childhood friend, Elizabeth.  During his service, they had never stopped exchanging letters, and had come to love each other dearly.  He proposed to her, and they were married in an intimate ceremony a few days later, on 4 October 1828.

They moved into Edward’s childhood home, the beautiful London mansion his parents had willed to him.  In their advanced age, Elizabeth and Edward never had the opportunity to have any children, and with no living family members of their own, they were each other’s only company.

They travelled all over the globe together, visiting exotic locations, from the plains of Africa to the streets of Shanghai.  But, after only a decade of their adventures together, Elizabeth grew too tired to travel any longer.  And so, they returned to London and moved from their home there to Edward’s estate in the countryside.  A few months later, Elizabeth became tragically afflicted with pneumonia, and the sickness took her life on 20 January 1839, at the age of seventy.


Life Alone

After Elizabeth’s passing, Edward spent most of his days at home, often in his map room or library.  The map room stored the vast collection of charts, globes, and maps he had acquired during his naval service.  They depicted locales few people even knew existed, some of them discovered by Riles himself and first mapped by his hand.  He would pore over them for hours, trying to learn from them everything they could teach him.  The library was filled with his parents’ collections, in addition to the volumes he had gathered on his travels.  Some of these were written in foreign tongues, but during his service, he had become quite fluent in the French, Italian, German, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese languages.  He read anything and everything, with the exception of the newspaper—he wanted nothing to do with current events.  He was especially fond of books telling stories of exotic explorations and discoveries, and enjoyed the journals and diaries of sailors and explorers.  The generous inheritance from his parents allowed him to live quite comfortably in that home.

Edward only ever left his estate on Sundays to visit the church and on Saturdays for relaxing at the tavern and doing his shopping.  He was never fond of the complexity of society, and business and politics offended him.  He much preferred the simplicity of nature.  In spite of this, he was not naive to the civilised world outside his estate—he had a deep understanding of the workings of society, a knowledge that only contributed to his disdain for it.

Edward was frustrated and perplexed by the entanglements of social relationships.  Elizabeth had been the only person to whom Edward ever opened his heart.  Once a revered and decorated hero, he had since been forgotten by his countrymen.  He had but a few friends, and drinking and storytelling formed the extent of their relationships.  He never met them outside the village tavern.  No person was ever invited inside his home.  Edward was a loner by every definition of the word.

PART TWO: The Elizabeth

Go to file page on Wikimedia Commons.

The Elizabeth on its maiden journey.


One Last Adventure

In 1848, Riles was nearing his eightieth birthday.  The past few months of his life had been consumed by his obsessive preparations for his final adventure.  He had nothing more to do in England, no family to keep him at home.  And so, he decided to make one last adventure for himself.  He wanted to visit a place even he had not seen.  It did not take him very long at all to select his destination.  He had always dreamed of exploring the Amazon River and its dangerous and mysterious jungles, but neither his naval expeditions nor his travels with Elizabeth had ever brought him to its waters.  Having been to nearly every corner of the globe, it was one of the few places he left unexplored.

He spent months researching for the journey, examining maps and charts of the Amazon, planning his route.  He made himself an expert on the place, becoming familiar with its flora and fauna, its dangers and beauties.

Edward crated up the entire contents of his library and map room and had it shipped to London, along with his clothing and other provisions that would be required on the adventure.  He locked and boarded up his home, and went to the church to pray for God’s guidance and protection.  He then visited the cemetery to say goodbye to Elizabeth and lay flowers at her grave.

His last stop before London would be the tavern, to tell his mates of his intentions and to say goodbye.  They were shocked.  Riles was an elderly man, who, to the room of men much younger than him, looked incapable of taking on such an expedition.  Some laughed, some wept, but most just urged him not to go.  After they found him to be unshakeable, they implored Riles to permit them to accompany him, if not to assist him, to insure themselves of his well-being.  He protested, but after their incessant pleading, he eventually allowed them to come, however reluctantly.  After hearing about Riles’s adventures at sea through his stories, many of the men were excited to be going, and hoped to make a story of their own.

Riles refused to delay his departure to allow them any time to make preparations for the trip, and so, only the single men and widowers were able to join him.  Those that did only had time to collect some clothes from their homes.

When they arrived in London, he retrieved the possessions he had shipped to the warehouses near the docks where he played as a child.  His friends were puzzled by the large quantity of cargo he was taking along, but he explained that his library would keep him from becoming bored on the long trip to the Amazon.  He went into town and purchased food and provisions to accommodate the additional passengers.  When he returned to the warehouses, he was not surprised to see that the men had purchased numerous barrels of ale, which they claimed to be their own answer to boredom.

Riles made his way to the shipyard and approached the finest, grandest, largest clipper in port.  He had commissioned this ship to be built especially for this expedition.  Riles paid the shipbuilder for the clipper and also purchased an excessively large quantity of timber from them.  When his mates asked why he was bringing along so much timber, he explained to them that it would be used as ballast aboard the ship, to keep it stabilised.  The shipwrights helped Riles and the other men load the cargo and provisions.  Riles Christened the ship and named her Elizabeth.  Words could not describe her beauty.  She made Riles the envy of every sailor who witnessed her glide down the River Thames.

The Elizabeth left London on 17 July 1848 with Admiral Riles and thirty-five of his friends on board.  They departed to little fanfare, something to which Riles was not accustomed.  He was, however, relieved by this, as this was not another one of his military campaigns.  He wanted to go away unnoticed.

Their Atlantic voyage was relatively uneventful, as the Elizabeth’s remarkable speed allowed them to traverse the mighty ocean with ease.  However, nobody but Riles had ever stepped foot on a boat before, and so, everybody but Riles became violently ill.  Their seasickness did not allow them to leave their bunks below decks until they reached the Amazon.  Riles was appreciative of this, as he had feared their incompetence would slow him down, one reason he had urged the men not to come in the first place.

Riles hadn’t realised how much he missed the sea, and with no help, he took up every responsibility aboard the ship.  This was a challenge, but not impossible for Riles.  Simply being aboard the Elizabeth rejuvenated the old man.


In the Amazon

The Elizabeth reached the mouth of the Amazon River fifteen days after leaving London, on 1 August 1848.  Riles slowed the ship, and the others were able to return from below decks as their seasickness subsided.  They could not believe their eyes.  The Amazon was unalike anything they had ever seen before.  The lush jungles along the riverbanks were eerie and uninviting, filled with sounds made by creatures they had never known existed.  For Riles, it was everything he had ever dreamed it would be—and more.

For four days, they travelled up the river whilst Riles charted its winding path.  After their fear of the place faded, the others found themselves very bored.  Some played with the draughts and cards that Riles had brought along, and others just peered into the jungle and watched the river’s waters pass them by.  At night, the Elizabeth came alive as the men broke open a barrel of ale and listened to Riles tell them about one of his adventures.  Other than at these times, Riles seemed even more quiet and lonely than usual.  He didn’t join them in a drink, and he retired to his cabin early.

Late that fourth night, on 4 August, after the revelry had ceased, Riles awoke from the sound of lightning.  He checked below decks and saw that the others were all sound asleep or passed out.  Strong gusts of wind were blowing down the river, as mighty storms covered the Amazon.  The thunder and lightning seemed ceaseless as rain poured down like a waterfall.  The Elizabeth rocked in the turbulent waters as Riles struggled to get control of the ship.  In the darkness of the night, Riles lost his way and steered the ship into a large cove.  He saw the island ahead too late, and the Elizabeth crashed into the boulders on its shore.  Edward went back to bed.

The Elizabeth struggles in the Amazonian storm that brought Edward Riles to the shores of Hideaway Island.

The Elizabeth struggles in the Amazonian storm that brought Edward Riles to the shores of Hideaway Island.

When the others awoke in the morning, they were not aware of the events of the previous night.  They did not know of the storm, of Riles’s struggle, or of the shipwreck.  But before they even came up from below decks, they knew something was amiss—the Elizabeth was still, and the jungle sounded closer.  When they went above and saw that Riles had not left his room, they knew that something was very wrong—Riles was always out of bed at this hour.

They were shocked when they arrived on the main deck.  Dread instantly sank into their hearts as they saw the damage caused by the rocks.  They went clamouring to Edward’s door and woke him up.  After he told them of the storm and what happened, they immediately understood the gravity of their situation.  However, they were surprised.  Edward had told them about each one of his adventures, and in forty-five years of service to the Royal Navy, Riles had never lost control of a ship.  Most of the men believed he had merely lost his touch in his old age.

The men left the Elizabeth and went ashore.  After examining the damage, many thought that it could be easily repaired with the timber that Riles had brought along, but Edward insisted that the ship was irreparable.  He said that, even if they did manage to mend the ship, it would likely spring a leak on the voyage back to London, dooming them all.

They were waiting for Riles to tell them of his solution—of how they would get home.  Edward had no solution—they would not be going home.  They were stranded here, on this island, in this cove, in the middle of this endless Amazon jungle, on this vast alien continent, thousands of miles from home, with no way to return.  This would be their new home, Edward said.

They would live here for the rest of their days.  Life here would not be that bad, Edward insisted, but the men were devastated and heartbroken.



That night, the men slept on the Elizabeth.  Tomorrow, they would venture onto the island and find a suitable place to make dwellings for themselves.

One man, Samuel Rush, quickly became suspicious of Riles.  Edward was too content with their situation.  Rush found Edward’s lack of ambition to return home alarming.  And, parts of his story were not adding up.  Edward Riles did not get lost.  Edward Riles did not surrender control to a feeble storm.  Edward Riles did not crash ships.  He began to think that Edward had to be lying to all of them.  Edward crashed the Elizabeth on this island on purpose, he thought.

Rush believed the wreck could not have been a mistake.  There was no storm that Riles could not beat.  Riles had to have known that cove was there—even if no one else did.  He brought crates of charts on the ship with him, and he looked at them all day long.  He knew the island was ahead, and he steered right towards it.

Rush realised that Riles’s suspicious behaviour had begun before they even left London.  At the tavern, he insisted no one join him so that he would not doom anybody else with him.  He brought all of his possessions with him on the adventure—not because he feared boredom on the long voyage, but because he would never be returning.  The timber was not for ballast, but to build a new home here for himself on the island.  He did not want to try to fix the ship because he did not want the ship to be fixed.  This is exactly what Riles had come here for.  But why, Samuel did not know.

Most of the other men thought Rush was mad.  Homesick and desperate, he was scrambling for someone to blame, and he had found his scapegoat in an old man.  They called him a mutinous liar and dragged him up to see Edward.

A sympathetic Edward embraced Rush and tried to console him.  He explained to him that these thoughts he was having were merely delusions that would pass once they got settled onto the island.  He apologised for what happened, but assured him that he never had intended for any of this to occur.  After Edward told him that everything would be all right, Rush went into a rage.

He screamed at Edward, calling him a liar, whilst the other men held him back.  He began rambling like a crazy man, describing his plans to get home.  He would swim across the cove and trek through the jungle until he reached civilisation.  This piqued the interest of a few other men—Charles Leonard, David Adams, Matthew Cook, and Benjamin Tanner—who had been staying quiet and did not restrain Rush during his several tantrums that evening.  Rush stormed out of Edward’s cabin, and the four dissenters followed him.  They gathered their few possessions and left the Elizabeth.  Edward and the other men watched as Rush and his followers swam the cove and disappeared into the dark of the night, into the wilderness of the jungle.  No person ever saw them again.  Neither Riles nor the remaining men ever spoke of them again.

PART THREE: Hideaway Island

The exotic and untamed jungle interior of Hideaway Island.

The exotic and untamed jungle interior of Hideaway Island.


The Grand Tour

Edward stepped off the wreck of the Elizabeth on 5 August 1848 and went forth to explore the island.  The men followed him, afraid of being alone in the jungle without him.  Being away from the ship and in the jungle terrified the other men, but Edward’s unwavering strength gave them hope.  He led the men along the beach from the wreck to the northern tip of the island, a place he seemed to take a particular liking to, and decided that this is where he would build his home, even before seeing the rest of the island.  The other men suspected he wanted to be close to Elizabeth.

When they entered the jungle, they stumbled upon something even Edward had never expected—remnants of a civilisation long gone.  Scattered throughout the island were large piles of stone blocks—all that remained of the many buildings that had been constructed by those lost people.  A small city of indigenous peoples had once thrived on this small island in this cove.  If they could manage to, Edward Riles certainly could.  However, it was not the circumstances of their survival that interested Edward—it was the circumstances of their demise.

There was but one stone structure left standing when Edward and his men arrived on the island.  Situated across a stream, accessible only by a bridge, was a building that was determined by Edward to be an ancient temple or palace.  It was overrun by vines and was crumbling and collapsing in several places, but the men were still impressed by its beauty.

The stream outside the ruins flowed from the cove on the northeast side, through the centre of the island, and then turned south and emptied into the cove on the southwest side.  The men found this stream to be an exceptional source of clean fresh water.

From the temple, the men travelled south along the beach and found this area to be their favourite on the island.  It seemed to the men to be the quietest and most serene place.  Here, the jungle was the least dense, and the canopy thinned out, allowing the sun to enter through the trees.  It was the sunlight that convinced many of the men that this is where they wanted to build their homes.  After seeing the jungle, this spot frightened them least, and served as a bit of repose from the alien world they had entered.

The next day, the men would begin to construct their new permanent homes on the island.  They would continue to sleep aboard the Elizabeth until the construction of their dwellings had been completed.  But late that evening, after all the other men had gone to sleep, Edward left the Elizabeth and went back into the jungle—alone.

Whilst exploring the island with the men earlier that day, Edward had heard a loud, incessant roar in the southwest corner of the island—a sound familiar to him, but one the other men would have never heard before, and one that they would never have been able to identify through the sounds of the jungle.  It was the sound of a waterfall.  That night, Edward followed the sound to the southwest corner once more, and came to a thicket beyond which the sound originated.  Edward carefully made his way through the dense vegetation, and when he saw the beauty of what laid before him, he stopped.

Edward's mystical hidden retreat on Hideaway Island, The Springs.

Edward’s mystical hidden retreat on Hideaway Island, The Springs.

Here was a grand waterfall that cascaded into a pristine pool of crystal-clear water.  The waterfall stood more than five times as tall as Edward, and appeared to be fed by a spring.  In the darkness, the moon and stars sparkled on the water and the harmonious roar of the falls masked all of the sounds of the jungle.  This place, which Edward called the Springs, was perfectly hidden from the rest of the island.  It was the most beautiful place Edward had ever seen, throughout all of his expeditions and travels.  This would become his hideaway, he thought.  And so it would.  Edward would come here every day for the rest of life, and none of the other men would ever discover the Springs.


On the Island in the Cove

The jungle was certainly teeming with life—the men quickly discovered that the island was home to many thousands of birds of all sorts.  The beautiful birds seemed immediately and almost magically attracted to Edward.  They would follow him and perch on his shoulders, and Edward became quite fond of them.  The other men found the birds on the island to be rays of hope providing a splash of colour among the endless greens, and cheerful sounds among the endless cacophony of the insects.

The birds of Hideaway Island quickly bonded with Edward.

The birds of Hideaway Island quickly bonded with Edward.

Besides being home to the thousands of birds, the men did not find many large mammals on the island.  There were some small monkeys, and they may have stumbled upon a snake occasionally, but they did not come across any animals that posed a major threat.  Bugs and mosquitoes filled the air, becoming quite a nuisance, but most seemed harmless.  The plant life of the island was far more interesting.  The men had never seen any of the plants on the island before.  They came in all shapes and sizes, each one different from the next.  Exotic trees towered over the men, forming a thick canopy above.  In some places, the canopy allowed almost no sunlight to reach the ground below.  Nevertheless, the men would still be plagued by the Amazon’s intense heat and humidity.  The rains seemed to penetrate all areas of the island, making it inescapable.

This place was by no means a paradise—many of the men would come to find it a terrible nightmare.  But not Edward.  For him, the island provided virgin land and the chance to begin a new life—an opportunity which he relished.  Here, he had finally found a place he felt comfortable to call home—a place where he could finally settle down, in a setting that would eternally quench his insatiable thirst for adventure.  He would come to call it Hideaway Island—a place where he would not be bothered by the troublesome real world he had left behind in England.  The name puzzled the other men, but they accepted it, having nothing else to call their new home.

Edward constructed his home in the place at the northern tip of the island that he had selected near the wreck of the Elizabeth.  He built it using the timber that had been used as ballast aboard the ship.  Edward had brought along plenty of tools and hardware to make routine repairs to Elizabeth during the journey, but those could be used now to construct their homes on the island.

His home was a staggering fourteen storeys high, extending far above the jungle canopy.  The ground floor and first storey were twice as tall as the others were.  The home’s unassuming entryway opened up into a soaring atrium.  In the centre of the atrium was a large stone fountain, whose dancing waters both relaxed and amused Edward.  Behind the fountain was a grand staircase leading to the first floor.  Just beyond the staircase on the first floor was Edward’s modest bedroom.  At the rear of the atrium on the ground floor was a set of doors leading to the beach behind Edward’s home on the shore of the island.  The other thirteen floors extended around the perimeter of his home.  Large pillars supported the floors that overlooked the atrium and were enclosed by wooden railings.  These floors had outside balconies that wrapped all the way around the home and offered views looking over all of Hideaway Island and deep into the Amazon.

Edward built a small room above the top floor.  This would become his new library and map room, and he would spend more time here than any other place in his home.  Edward even built a lift to take him from the ground floor to the library.  The room did not overlook the atrium, but offered unimpeded panoramic views of the Amazon.  This was the best viewpoint on the island.

It took Edward a few months to complete the construction of his home, but he was able to move out of the Elizabeth and into it in only a few weeks.  It was a mystery to the other men why Edward built such a tall home.  Even whilst it was still being constructed, they began to refer to it as Riles Tower amongst themselves.  But Edward had built such a lofty home so that it could accommodate his avian friends—the atrium would be an aviary.  After moving into Riles Tower, he opened up his home to Hideaway Island’s bird population, and hundreds immediately moved in.  They would become Edward’s only true companions on the island—like in England, none of his friends would ever be invited into his home.  Edward would forge a special bond with one bird in particular, a blue hyacinth macaw that would travel with Edward everyday to the Springs, and would rarely leave his shoulder.

The other men built their homes on the southeast shore of the island, as they had decided.  At first, they were going to construct one building for the thirty of them to live in.  But, after seeing the grand scale of Edward’s home, these plans no longer pleased them.  And so, they chose to build four large buildings instead.  These buildings had a slightly smaller footprint than Edward’s and were nearly half as tall.  They used what was left of the timber from the Elizabeth after Edward was through constructing his home, but they ran out after constructing only one building.  When Edward refused to allow them to take apart the Elizabeth for its wood, they decided to use the wood from the trees that they had cleared to make room for their homes.

The buildings, which the men called lodges, were built in a row along the shore.  The men named each lodge after a bird on the island.  They were, from north to south, Toucan, Finch, Macaw, and Parakeet.  Toucan, Finch, and Parakeet Lodge each housed eight men, whilst Macaw housed six.  Each lodge was identical to all of the others and had only one floor and one room.  At one end were the bunks where the men slept, and at the other end was the kitchen and dining area.  In the centre was a living area with a table and a few chairs for the men to relax and perhaps play cards.  But, even though the men had all of this space in their lodges, they rarely did much of anything else but sleep in their homes.


A New Life

Everyone on the island found that they were enjoying themselves far more than they had thought they would.  All of the men had a grand time making the island into a home.  Edward had spent so much time at the Springs, that he decided to build a large hut nearby to give him some shelter from the sun during the day.  There would be some days when he felt so content at the Springs, he did not return to his home and stayed the night in the hut.

The men found the ruins in the northeast corner of the island very appealing.  Even though Edward had warned them to keep out of the ruins, fearing they might collapse with them inside, the men decided to make it their hangout.  As Edward found peace at the Springs, so too did the men find their peace at the ruins.  They spent most of their days there, but only after they renovated it and made it structurally sound.

One of the first things the men did when they learned that they would have to remain in the cove was to gather all of the stone blocks and rubble strewn across the island into one place.  Edward was impressed by this and suggested they use the stone to make foundations for their homes.  When the men realised all of the other potential uses for the stone, they began to search for its natural source on the island, but it was never found.

Two of the men who had come with Edward—Raymond Engel and Joseph Gilbert—had been skilled carpenters in England, and four others—Aidan Bennett, Alexander Winters, Robert Taylor, and Roy Carver—were masons.  Together, these men, led by Raymond Engel, worked to restore the ruins and the bridge to their former grandeur.  However, it was the men’s preference to leave the vines, which had draped the ruins for so many years, undisturbed.  When they were finished, the men had a retreat fit for kings.

In the ruins, the men ate, played, and occasionally slept, but they mostly drank.  However, after a few months on the island, they knew their store of ale could not last much longer.  And so, George Blitzer, who had emigrated from Germany to England when he was a young man and became the proprietor of Edward’s favourite tavern back home, set out to create a beer that could be made from the plants found on the island.  Whilst he was unsuccessful at finding ingredients suited for a beer, after a few months of experimentation with the island’s fruits and plants, he successfully developed a method for making wine from the fruit of the açaí, just days before the ale ran out.  The men were not used to wine, but the drink satisfied them.  Blitzer’s açaí wine was very popular, and several men undertook the responsibility of cultivating the plant to ensure its presence in the cove.

All of the men on the island ate fish that they caught in the cove.  Edward fished from the beach behind his home, and the other men fished on the southern shore of the island, just below their lodges.  Edward, having explored the island more than the other men, had found some fruit that supplemented his diet of fish, but the other men only saw potential for the island’s fruit in their drink.  Edward drank from the Springs, whilst the men, when they drank water, drank it from the stream that ran through the island—the same stream that they bathed in.

The men built a dock on the southern shore from which to fish.  They used what was left from the gathering of stone to pave a cobblestone walkway that connected all of their lodges to each other and to the southern shore and the dock there.  They also cleared some trees through the centre of the island up to Riles Tower and then paved a path—a street, really—through the jungle and built a bridge that crossed the stream.  They thought that Edward would appreciate this and might utilise the pathway to access the good fishing spot at the southern end of the cove.  Edward objected to their clearing of the trees, but appreciated the gesture.  He still preferred, however, to fish from the northern shore nearest his home.

Soon after, Edward asked a very surprised and honoured Roy Carver to construct an enlarged version of the fountain that graced his atrium, outside his home, near the start of the path the men had constructed for him.  He also asked him to extend the path right up to the entrance of the tower.  Carver gladly accepted, and after Edward drew up the plans, he had the project completed in only a few weeks.  Edward was impressed by the work and greatly admired the fountain’s beauty.  When he was not at the Springs, he would bathe in this fountain.

Edward found that he was quite adept at fashioning fine furniture woven from plants he gathered in the jungle.  He used these to furnish his home and hut with grand beds, chairs, tables, and lounges.  Edward enjoyed this newfound activity so much, he also made furniture for the men, for the ruins and their lodges—gifts which the men gratefully accepted.

With the exception of these few instances, the men and Edward had limited interactions with each other.  As none of the men had ever gone into Edward’s home, he never entered the lodges or the ruins.  After the first year or so, when all were settled into their new lives, there were no more interactions between Edward and the men.


The Final Years

Two years after arriving on the island, a man named Horace Goldwater, who lived in the Macaw Lodge, observed that the water in the cove had risen several inches one week.  He became paranoid with the possibility of the cove flooding, and potentially, wreaking havoc on their homes.  And so, he decided build a small house for himself upon a bluff in the centre of the island, adjacent to the path that ran through the jungle.  He packed up his things, left the Macaw Lodge, and never returned.  A few months after he moved into his house, he died of the yellow fever.  The flood never came.

Many of the men would go that way—falling victim to one of the tropical diseases that plague the Amazon.  There were no doctors among them, and these illnesses were unfamiliar to them.  The men did all that they could to care for each other when one was sick, but eventually, all those inflicted by disease succumbed to their sicknesses.  The leading cause of death among the men was the yellow fever, taking twelve lives.  Eight men died of malaria, and the snail fever killed just one.  Six of the men had the good fortune to die peacefully of old age.

The islanders also had their share of run-ins with the cove’s wildlife.  These would tragically result in three grisly deaths.  One man, Phillip Cooper, decided one day, on 13 October 1851, to venture into the cove’s waters on the southern shore to take a bath.  After only wading a few feet into the water, a pack of vicious piranhas attacked Cooper and within seconds, reduced him to a mere skeleton.  The other men watched in horror, being able to do nothing to help their friend.  Nobody ever again tried to bathe in the cove.

Very early on the morning of 4 February 1856, Alfred Henry wandered from his lodge to fetch some water after a long night of revelry at the ruins.  He got lost in the dark and ended up deep in the jungle.  When the men noticed in the morning that he had gone missing, they set out to search for him.  They found him just west of Horace Goldwater’s old house.  He had been attacked and killed by a jaguar in the night.

That was not the only time on the island when a drunken trek through the jungle would end in one of the men’s untimely death.  John Christopher was hungry on the night of 30 November 1864, so he headed for the dock on the southern shore to go fishing, but was tripped by a tree that had fallen on the path.  Christopher tried to get back up, but the tree grabbed hold of him and swallowed him alive.  The tree turned out to be an anaconda.  The next day, the other men discovered his hat lying on the path, but were unable to find Christopher anywhere.  A few months later, the anaconda showed up again, but this time, the men slew the serpent.

By 1868, all of the men who had been passengers on the Elizabeth during its maiden voyage had passed.  Edward was the only remaining soul on Hideaway Island.  By some miracle, he had managed to outlive all of the other men.  Before joining Riles on his adventure, the men had not known that he had more strength, drive, and energy than any of them.  Even though he was nearly twice the age of most of the men, Edward had shown more resilience and courage in the face of hardship than any person they had ever known.  He showed them a spirit of unceasing faith, hope, and optimism.  And, even though Edward had withdrawn himself from the men after coming to the island, they each looked up to him as a father.  None of the men died with any regrets about coming with Edward to live on this island, in this cove.

After all of the men were gone, Edward lived alone on the island for the next sixteen years.  He was not certain, but Edward credited his exceptionally long life to the Springs.  He believed that drinking from and swimming in its waters every day since his arrival on the island had rejuvenated him—and somehow restored his youth.

On 21 January 1884, Edward Theodore Riles passed away peacefully in his slumber, beside the lapping waters of the Springs.  He was one-hundred and fifteen years old.

PART FOUR: Discovered Anew

Brahmaputra Bonnie, as depicted in this watercolor painting by Skipper Mark, 1916.

Brahmaputra Bonnie, as depicted in this watercolor painting by Skipper Mark, 1916.


Lost and Found

In 1852, the Jungle Navigation Company was established in London, England to provide daring travellers the opportunity to explore the world’s most exotic waters.  In 1875, the firm instituted an outpost on the shores of the Amazon River.  They began offering two and three-week cruises on the river, aboard their fleet of elegant tramp steamers, guided by experienced and knowledgeable skippers.  In little time, the cruises became the most popular offered by the company.

Thirty-four years after the first Amazon cruise launched, Skipper Mark of the Brahmaputra Bonnie, still in his training, departed from the Amazon outpost for a two-week tour carrying ten passengers, on 1 August 1909.  It was not long before the skipper got lost.  The Amazon’s countless tributaries and branches had confused him and made him lose his bearings.  Four days into the cruise, on 4 August, Mark unknowingly piloted the boat into a cove whose entrance was almost completely shrouded by vegetation and overgrowth, believing that it was an offshoot that could lead him back to the main stream.

After the boat entered the cove, Mark was too busy worrying about how he was going to return to the outpost to notice the rocks straight ahead.  It was not until he observed the bewildered and astonished expressions on the faces of his passengers that he turned around to see the one thing he had never expected to come across in this desolate jungle—the wreck of the renowned Elizabeth.

Mark had heard the stories.  His parents had told him about Admiral Riles and his majestic ship.  The story of the Admiral’s career in service to his country and his final adventure shrouded in mystery had been some of the boy’s favourite bedtime tales.  He had seen the drawings and even the famed photograph.  The sight of the Elizabeth had been burned into his mind since before he could walk.  It was unmistakable.  In England, the Elizabeth had become a symbol of national pride, representing what it meant to possess courage and bravery.  He had read the news reports.  His grandparents had saved the clippings from all of the papers, telling all that they knew about Riles and his departure.  For Mark, seeing the ship in person was like a dream.

Little did Mark know, Riles did not want to be famous.  Following his retirement from the Royal Navy, the admiral had tried his hardest to disappear, to live unnoticed.  He went to great lengths to protect his privacy and keep his name unknown.  But, try as he did, he could not manage to escape notoriety—even in death.

A ship as big and beautiful as the Elizabeth could not sail out of London and never return without drawing attention.  Thousands of people had witnessed the Elizabeth leave port.  One man had found the sight so extraordinary that he captured it with the latest newfound innovation—the daguerreotype.  Within the month, the photograph had made it onto the front page of ever paper in Britain.  People wanted to know whose ship it was and where it was going.  When they dug for answers, what they discovered was a forgotten national hero.  A true man of renown.  The life story of Riles had amazed and shocked all who heard it.  So many were surprised that they had heard nothing of him before.  Seemingly overnight, Riles had come from nowhere and entered the homes, conversations, thoughts, and prayers of every person in England.

His unparalleled service and adventurous spirit had silently benefited the nation for decades.  His countrymen had decided that, when the Elizabeth returned to London, Riles would finally receive the recognition and honour that they believed he so greatly deserved.  His mother country would give him a homecoming fit for royalty.  Plans were even made for his knighthood.  For over a year, England waited for the Elizabeth to come home.  And, to their surprise, it never would.  But, Riles’s mysterious disappearance and unknown final destination had made him all the more famous.  Everyone wanted to know: Where was Admiral Riles?  By now, his name had become known around the English-speaking world.  Countless expeditions were launched in search of the Elizabeth.  But, they all returned with the same news—Riles had vanished without a trace.  He was the most famous man in the world, and he did not even know it.

His passengers were screaming now.  With just inches to spare, Mark averted the rocks and kept the Brahmaputra Bonnie from suffering the same fate as the Elizabeth.  Mark navigated the boat around the island, and came to the southern dock.  Still in shock, and now, surprised by the presence of a dock in such an obscure locale, Mark moored Bonnie and helped his passengers unload.  With caution and weariness, one by one, they proceeded onto the island, onto paved streets, in the middle of the jungle.


Another Tour

It was dark, raining, and muggy.  The sun was setting, but the party was able to make out a towering structure, standing in the distance, like an ominous overseer.  They looked to their right, and saw four massive buildings.  They could not believe it.  Where are we? they wondered.  As Mark travelled, birds began to approach him, flying towards him.  Some perched upon his shoulders, whilst others followed at his feet.  One blue parrot in particular seemed to cling tightly to Mark and did not leave him.

They proceeded north, towards the tower.  When they got closer, they saw the Elizabeth.  They all rushed over—sprinted—towards the ship.  It was so much more than they had ever thought it was.  The ship was quite a sight—more beautiful than the photograph or any painting.  They climbed aboard, to find the insides completely empty.  After all had a chance to truly grasp the glory of what they were witnessing, they continued to the tower.

When they opened the heavy doors of the tower, they saw hundreds of birds, swooping among vines above a beautiful fountain, just like the one they had seen outside.  Across the floor was a grand staircase leading to a room on the first floor.  In front of the staircase, was a lift, extending to the top of the building.  They all explored the tower.  Mark went into the room on the first floor and discovered a bedroom.  There was a desk, a chair, a bed, and a lounge.  Upon the desk, there was a leather-bound journal.  Mark picked it up.  On the cover was written in gold, “Edward Theodore Riles”.  This was the journal of Admiral Riles.  He took it and ran into the atrium.

Mark saw some of the cruisers walking around some of the other floors, some were outside on the balconies, and others were in the lift on their way to the top of the tower.  One man rushed down the stairs from the room at the top and came out with a pile of books in his arms, explaining that he had discovered what Mark already knew—that this building was the home of Admiral Riles.  Mark took the lift to the top room and found that it was a library.  Thousands of volumes filled the room, many in languages Mark did not recognise.  He came to the centre of the room and saw a large collection of maps.  Laid out on a table was a godsend—a complete chart of the Amazon and its tributaries.  And, on the map, was a cove with an island in the centre, marked “Hideaway Island”.  Mark knew where he was.  He knew how to get back to the outpost.

Edward's map of the Amazon River, as discovered in the map room at the top of his Riles Tower estate by Skipper Mark.

Edward’s map of the Amazon River, as discovered in the map room at the top of his Riles Tower estate by Skipper Mark.

Mark took the map and told the cruisers to look for any more journals like the ones he and the other man had found.  They gathered over one hundred journals and placed them in a crate.  Mark thought that they would be able to learn more about the Elizabeth and its final journey from the accounts in the journals.  They loaded them onto the lift and went back downstairs.  After exiting the tower, the party split up.  Mark led a group of five back down the path towards the southern shore and another group of five went towards a stone bridge they saw just southwest of the tower.

Mark’s party passed a small house obscured by some trees upon a hill that they had not noticed before.  They went inside and discovered the remains of a man, lying in bed.  They found a few journals upon a table in the corner, marked “Horace Goldwater”.  There were others with Riles aboard the Elizabeth.  People had suspected that Riles did not make his final journey alone, but this proved that theory.  They took them, exited the house and continued down the path.  They came upon a fork in the path, one way continuing towards the shore, and another moving towards the four buildings they had spotted earlier along the south-western shore.  They took the second path.

The first building they approached was marked with the name “Toucan Lodge” over the entrance.  Inside, they found one large room.  There were eight bunk beds and eight sets of journals.  It seemed that every man who had come to the island with Riles had kept journals.  These would prove to hold invaluable information.  They took them and continued to the next building, marked “Finch Lodge”, where they found an interior eerily identical to the Toucan Lodge, and eight more sets of journals.

The next lodge was the Macaw Lodge, but this one was different from the others.  Inside were six beds, five sets of journals, and one set of human remains.  But, on the back wall, something caught Mark’s eye.  It was a painting.  Framed and hanging high above the bunks was a portrait of a man and a bird.  Mark fell to his knees.  He knew that the man he saw on that wall could only be one man—Admiral Riles.

Because Riles was relatively unknown before the appearance of the Elizabeth, nobody really knew what he looked like.  Until now, there were no portraits of the man known to exist—and certainly no photograph.  But the man that Mark peered at now exuded a certain spirit of strength and power.  His dark eyes focused, yet showing signs of tiredness and weariness.  A coarse beard adorning his face, with signs of age showing years of wisdom.  He was dressed nicely, in a fine suit and bow tie.  Upon his head was a top hat with a blue ribbon.  And on his shoulder, a blue bird.

Mark looked to his own shoulder and saw—the same bird.  The same exact markings.  Mark was shocked—this couldn’t possibly be the same bird.  The painting had to be at least fifty years old.  And yet, it must be the same bird.  Mark felt the same spirit of wisdom and experience that he saw in Riles’s eyes from the bird on his shoulder.  The others came over to the portrait, and saw the same thing Mark had.  Their faces were now marked with fear.  Something about this island was not right, it shouldn’t exist.  None of this seemed possible.  The mysteries kept building.

Mark took the portrait from the wall and the party proceeded to the final lodge, the Parakeet Lodge.  This one was just like the first two they saw—eight beds and eight sets of journals.  Altogether, the group had collected thirty-one sets of journals, leading them to believe that there were thirty-one men aboard the Elizabeth when it crashed on the island.

The second group that had gone towards the bridge near the tower had come upon a striking stone structure in the jungle just beside a stream.  It looked like an ancient palace of some sort and was overgrown with vines.  They went inside and found great splendour.  Along the perimeter of the interior was a two-level stream fed by fountainheads.  At the rear of the room was a grand waterfall.  Pillars supporting the ceiling were spread throughout the room.  Carved upon their surface were symbols they did not understand.  The light from their lamps danced upon the waters and was reflected about the room.  They left the palace, as they referred to it, and met the other party by the fountain just outside the tower, as they had agreed upon earlier.  They reported to each other what they found, and then decided what to do next.  The cruisers split up into two groups, with one staying the night in Toucan Lodge, and the other in Finch Lodge.  Mark stayed by himself in Macaw Lodge.

Mark did not sleep that night.  He stayed up and began to read Edward’s journals by the light of his lamp.  He started with the earliest volume, from when Riles entered the navy at the age of fifteen in 1783.  Between dusk and dawn that evening, Mark read every entry in the Admiral’s journals, from the earliest, up to the year 1850.  He soaked up every detail with reverence.  By sunrise, Mark was the world’s leading expert on Edward Riles, and he was only getting started.


The World is Watching

In the morning, a very tired Mark and his passengers packed up their things, and returned to the Brahmaputra Bonnie.  The blue parrot that had found a home on Mark’s shoulder remained with him.  They brought along all of the journals they had found on the island, as well as the portrait of Riles.  With the map Mark had taken from the library at the top of the tower, he now knew how to return to the outpost.  Mark apologised to the cruisers for his getting lost and not giving them the expedition they had booked, but they insisted the adventure they had was better than one any itinerary could have given them.

It was then that the skipper got an idea that would change the history of Hideaway Island forever.  If the Jungle Navigation Company were to open a resort and hotel on Hideaway Island, cruise passengers and travellers would be able to get away in a true paradise, hidden in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.  If his passengers had enjoyed their stay, wouldn’t others?

Mark returned to the outpost aboard the Brahmaputra Bonnie with a feeling of triumph.  The skipper felt like Bonnie was carrying all of the world’s gold.  Upon their return, the passengers remained quiet about what they had witnessed.  This was due in part to their respect for the Admiral, and part to their desire to not become celebrities.  Mark, however, retold his accounts to the lead agent at the Office of the Interior, the man in charge of the Jungle Navigation Company’s Amazon operations.  He also told him of his plans for the island.

The agent loved Mark’s idea, and booked him passage on the next ocean liner travelling from Rio de Janeiro to London.  There, he would report directly to the managing director of the Jungle Navigation Company and sell him his idea for the resort.  Mark brought with him to London all of the journals from the island, the portrait, and the map.  During his journey to London, Mark finished reading all of Edward’s journals.  But the story of the Admiral did not yet have an ending—Mark did not have the last journal in his possession.  It must still be on the island, he thought.

The managing director was startled when a ragged skipper walked into his office with a parrot on his shoulder.  And then, the skipper began to tell him a story about a sailor.  Mark soon had every ounce of the director’s attention.  When Mark was done, the director was astonished.  He showed the director the portrait, further heightening his interest.  It did not take much to convince him that the resort was a good idea.  The director named Mark head of the company’s Hideaway Island operations, and leader of the restoration and construction efforts on the island.

Within days, the whole world knew the truth about Admiral Riles and the Elizabeth.  Images of the portrait were published in newspapers everywhere.  Mark became almost as famous as Riles, known as the discoverer of the Elizabeth.  News of the resort that the Jungle Navigation Company planned to open on the island had spread rapidly.  Amazon cruises for the next five years were booked full in a few weeks.  Hideaway Island had become the destination every traveller and adventurer sought to visit.

Mark finished reading the journals of every Hideaway Island inhabitant.  Knowing all of the accounts of everyone who had lived on the island, he now possessed a more comprehensive understanding of what exactly had happened there than any person ever had.  He had learned the stories of the thirty-five—not thirty—passengers on the Elizabeth.  He knew that the portrait of Riles was painted by his friend Harper Ryman in 1854.  Although Harper and the other men had lost contact with Riles by this point, he painted him from afar, every day for a month, whilst Riles went on his daily walk through the jungle, without Riles ever noticing him.  The men of Macaw Lodge showcased it in their home, as a reminder of the man who had done so much for them.  Mark learned of all the places on the island, and what the men called them.  He learned of its dangers and beauties.  But, he still had not learned of Edward’s final fate.  However, he knew from the Admiral’s journals that he spent most of his time on the island at a place he called the Springs.  Mark knew this had to be where the last journal was.


Final Rest

After plans for the resort were developed by Mark and the managing director, Mark left for South America.  When he returned to the Amazon outpost, he boarded the Brahmaputra Bonnie, which the Jungle Navigation Company had given to him as part of his promotion.  He returned to Hideaway Island for the first time, alone.  On 21 January 1910, he reached the island at dusk, but was determined to locate the Springs.  After searching for hours in the dark, Mark heard the roaring sound of a waterfall.  He came to a thicket beyond which the sound originated.  Mark carefully made his way through the dense vegetation, and when he saw the beauty of what laid before him, he stopped.  This was paradise, he thought.

He spotted Edward’s hut, and ran towards it.  Inside, Mark was startled when he saw Edward’s skeleton lying in his bed, clutching a leather-bound journal against his chest.  Mark removed the journal from Edward’s hands, and carried his remains to the Elizabeth, where he gave Edward a proper burial at sea.  That night, he slept in the hut by the Springs.  The skipper would never mark Edward’s grave, as he believed the Admiral would have wanted.

In the morning, Mark read Edward’s final accounts, and then went for a swim in the Springs.

The last journal revealed what Edward had called the blue parrot that had still not left Mark’s side.  Edward and Elizabeth always wished they could have children, and they wanted to name their son Joseph.  And so, in the final hours before his death, Edward had given the bird who had been his closest companion on the island for thirty-six years a name—Joseph.

That day, Mark gave burials at sea to Horace Goldwater, who died in his house by the street, and Harper Ryman, who died in Macaw Lodge.  Mark knew from the journals that those men who survived on the island did the same for those who died before them.  It so happened that Horace had isolated himself from the other men and they were unaware of his death, and Harper was the last of the men to die.

In a few days, crews of workers would arrive on the shores of Hideaway Island to begin preparing for the opening of the resort that was planned for less than a year away.  Until then, Mark would make himself feel at home on the island.

PART FIVE: A Jungle Resort

A Jungle Navigation Co. steamship transporting guests to their destination at the resort on Hideaway Island.

A Jungle Navigation Co. steamship transporting guests to their destination at the resort on Hideaway Island.


The Grand Opening

On 1 January 1911, the resort on Hideaway Island opened.  Thousands of people were in attendance at the opening ceremony.  At midnight, fireworks exploded over Riles Tower and lit up the Amazonian sky as Mark and the managing director of the Jungle Navigation Company cut the ribbon at the entrance and officially opened the island to guests.

Every Amazon cruise included a stay on Hideaway Island, but even more resort guests came only for the island, without booking a cruise.  People came from all over the world to stay at the resort and see the final resting place of the Elizabeth.

Intense amounts of work had taken place in a very short amount of time in order for the resort to open to guests on the New Year’s date.  All efforts were overseen by Mark.  Nearly one thousand men had worked on the project.  Shipments of supplies and building materials were carried down the Amazon by the Jungle Navigation Company daily.

The first thing to be done was for the southern dock to be replaced by a much larger one, in order to receive the shipments.  The whole island was cleaned.  Vines and overgrowth that had appeared on and around the island’s buildings were removed, except for those at the ruins.  The cobblestone streets were polished and repaired where necessary.  Radios were installed all over the island in an attempt to cover up the sometimes-frightening sounds of the jungle with the more enjoyable sounds of popular music.

The most notable changes were to the island’s buildings.  Riles Tower and the lodges underwent significant remodelling and expansion.  All of the items that belonged to Edward and the other men, including the contents of Edward’s map room and library, were shipped to London, to be displayed in the British Museum.  Mark, however, kept the journals, the Amazon maps, and the portrait for himself.

The lodges were completely transformed.  Five floors were placed inside each of the single large rooms.  Altogether, the lodges now housed several hundred guest rooms, each accessible from a porch that wrapped around the exterior of every floor.

Riles Tower was greatly expanded.  A portico was built over the front entrance.  Mark named the plaza just outside the tower, which featured the larger fountain, Riles Circle.  Two curved wings were added to both the east and west sides of the tower, greatly expanding its capacity.  Each wing was ten storeys tall, and together, contained several hundred more guest rooms.  Each room was given a private exterior balcony.  Inside the tower itself, guest rooms were built on each floor above the first, and each of these also had a private exterior balcony.

The birds were allowed to stay in the atrium—Mark did not want to take away the home they had lived in for so long, and he believed that guests would love to see such beautiful creatures when they looked outside their rooms.  The entire tower was properly decorated and elegantly furnished.  The atrium was the centrepiece of the tower, with the fountain showcased more prominently than ever before.

A dining area named Tower Market was established at the rear of the ground level of Riles Tower, which opens up onto the beach on the northern shore.  On the first level, the Piranha Lounge was opened.  The lounge serves refreshments and hosts the day’s best jazz bands.

The room that formerly housed Riles’s library and map room, at the top of Riles Tower, was converted into a lounge and restaurant named Top of the Jungle.  The restaurant offers the very best food and the very best views in the Amazon River basin.  The Jungle Navigation Company hired some of the best chefs of the Mediterranean region to come to Hideaway Island and craft the restaurant’s menu.  They incorporated the native flavours of the rainforest with dishes from their homeland and created their finest meals.

In the East Wing, on the ground level, a fine restaurant was opened called The Emerald Room, featuring a buffet and a stage where live bands perform for the entertainment of diners.  Also in the East Wing is a gift store called Tower Mercantile, which sells souvenirs and other items.  In the West Wing, a clothing store named Courageous Clothiers was opened.

The ruins had not seen too much change.  A kitchen was added to the rear and it was converted into another restaurant, aptly named Ruins.  The restaurant serves seafood, both caught locally and imported.  Its speciality and most popular dish among adventurous diners is grilled piranha.

During Mark’s readings, he discovered George Blitzer’s process for making açaí wine in his journals.  Mark had the wine produced in great quantities and made sure it was served in Hideaway Island’s restaurants and drinking establishments.  It was a big hit among the resort guests.

Horace Goldwater’s house was turned into a restaurant named Tropical Treats, serving frozen treats and other refreshments, as well as fresh fruit from the jungle.  A covered outside dining area was added to the house so guests could enjoy their food outdoors.

Along the street, several new buildings were constructed.  Mark named this area the Village.  One of these new shops was the Rainy Forest Fine Arts Gallery.  A marketplace named Amazon Imports was built adjacent to the Lodges.  Here, various house wares and furnishings are sold, allowing guests to take a little bit of the Amazon home with them.  Hidden Cove Amusements was also established in the Village.  Inside is a video arcade and cinema where the latest motion pictures are screened.

When constructing all of the new buildings and additions, Mark made sure to preserve as much of the island’s jungle as was possible.  Only a few trees had to be removed in order to make way for the new developments.  In this way, Hideaway Island remained a lush rainforest paradise.

Mark tried to keep the Springs a secret.  He had been staying in Edward’s hut, but with so many workers on the island preparing for the grand opening, one had noticed Mark entering and leaving the area frequently and got curious.  The worker did a little exploring and found the Springs.  Soon, every worker on the island had found out, and in turn, the managing director.  The managing director pushed to make the Springs a resort attraction, opening up the pools to guests, instead of constructing a swimming pool elsewhere on the island.  Mark protested, but could not convince the director otherwise.  The Springs opened to guests one month after opening.  Edward’s hut was converted into a poolside bar named Edward’s Hideout, serving refreshments to guests.  Mark and Joseph moved into a suite in Riles Tower.

Guests had no complaints about any of the resort’s facilities.  The service provided by the staff of the Jungle Navigation Company was immaculate.  The variety and the quality of the resort’s dining, shopping, and entertainment offerings, as well as the beautiful accommodation, gave the resort a reputation for excellence—one that it rightfully deserved.



The resort on Hideaway Island was very successful and wildly popular.  The hotel never had any vacancies.  Guests never left the resort dissatisfied or unhappy.  Some were already calling the Jungle Navigation Company’s investment in the previously unheard of Amazonian island the most ingenious and revolutionary business strategy of the twentieth century.  And just when business couldn’t get any better, tragedy struck the globe.

On 28 July 1914, the world was catapulted into war, and Britain with it.  Soon, Hideaway Island was vacant—the Jungle Navigation Company was charged with providing water transport for Allied troops, forcing them to suspend all leisure travel operations.  Mark’s military service was deferred to allow him to stay on Hideaway Island and make sure that the Elizabeth and the other historical structures there did not fall victim to the war.  And so, he stayed, spending most of his time maintaining the resort facilities.

When Mark heard on the radio of the rising popularity of aircraft during the war, he decided it best to remove the flagpole at the top of Riles Tower and erect an aircraft warning beacon in its place, so that no pilot should have the misfortune of colliding with the soaring structure during the night.

Alone on the island, Mark got bored, and so, he undertook a few projects.  The first was to restore the Elizabeth to its former glory.  The clipper remained on the rocks, but Mark fashioned some new sails for the ship, fixed its rigging, repaired any damaged fixtures, cleaned it up, and gave it a fresh coat of paint.  Soon, Elizabeth looked just as she had in the famous photograph.

The second project Mark took on was the establishment of the Hideaway Island Historical Society, dedicated to the preservation of Hideaway Island’s historical treasures.  Mark was growing increasingly concerned, as he noticed the popularity of the island itself had begun to eclipse the notoriety of Admiral Riles.  To make sure Edward’s heroic story was not lost to time, he began to write a comprehensive historical account of the island, but never had the time to complete it.

The war came to an end on 11 November 1918.  When Mark heard the news, he rejoiced with the world.


A Triumphant Return

After the Jungle Navigation Company had restored its fleet and made it capable of transporting civilian travellers once more, the resort on Hideaway Island reopened on 1 January 1920.  Following the end of the war and before the reopening, the resort was re-staffed and a spa and health club was built in the Village.  To Mark’s delight, the war had brought about a renewed public interest in bygone war heroes, and Admiral Riles topped that list.  The resort was just as popular—if not more—than it had been before the war.

The prestigious Society of Explorers and Adventurers, or S.E.A., had approached Mark and asked to build the clubhouse for their newly founded Amazonian chapter right on Hideaway Island.  Mark gladly accepted their offer.  He himself was inducted into the S.E.A. when the clubhouse opened on 16 February 1922.  Mark was unanimously elected to the position of chapter president.  It was soon decided that, when not hosting meetings of the society, the clubhouse would open to the public and serve international cuisine to resort guests.

The popularity of the Hideaway Island destination grew to such an extent that a second outpost needed to be built in the Amazon in order to accommodate the added operations staff.  This new Booking Office opened across the cove, just off the southern shore of the island.  A bridge was built to connect the southern shore to the other side of the cove, making it easier for travellers and supplies to reach the island.  A second bridge would later be built, connecting the eastern shore to the land across the cove, allowing the resort to receive deliveries without disturbing guests travelling on and off the island by means of the southern bridge.

The Jungle Navigation Company recognised the demand for tours of the resort, and so they began offering brief cruises aboard tramp steamers around the cove and on the stream that ran through the island.  The cruises departed frequently from a pier adjacent to the S.E.A. clubhouse.

Hideaway Island had become the place to go to truly escape and experience adventure.  It hosted countless guests in its early years, and people continued to come to the island in even greater numbers.  With everything the island had to offer guests, it became one of the most visited destinations in the world, and it seemed like it would continue to be for years to come.


A Bright Future

Although Mark was the only member at the time of the Hideaway Island Historical Society’s founding, following the war, membership grew significantly.  And, although most guests visited the resort only for a getaway, many had not forgotten about Admiral Riles.  Mark realised that there were those who cared as much as he did about the island—to preserve its history, to be caretakers of its story, and guardians of its wonder.

People would come and go on the island, but Mark—and the blue parrot that remained on his shoulder—felt assured that Edward’s presence would remain forever.  And, for as long as people were enjoying the island’s everlasting peace and beauty, Edward was satisfied.

* * *

Published on this web page 20 March 2014.

Updated on 23 March 2014.

Text copyright © 2013 Justin Clavet. Published in print April 2013 by AWOL Airwaves Press. Originally published on the World Wide Web in five web-log entries dating from 28 January 2013 to 19 March 2013 at awolairwaves.com. All rights reserved.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, institutions, places, locations, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, actual entities, or actual events is entirely coincidental.
Neither this work nor its author are affiliated in any way with The Walt Disney Company or its subsidiaries. The use of the Disney name or the mention of Disney properties is not intended to imply any such affiliation or infringe on any existing copyrights or registered trademarks held by The Walt Disney Company but are used in context for educational purposes.
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