Sheldon mended rapidly. The
fever had burned out, and there
was nothing for him to do but
gather strength. Joan had taken
the cook in hand, and for the
first time, as Sheldon remarked,
the chop at Berande was white
man's chop. With her own hands
Joan prepared the sick man's
food, and between that and the
cheer she brought him, he was
able, after two days, to totter
feebly out upon the veranda.
The situation struck him as strange,
and stranger still was the fact
that it did not seem strange
to the girl at all. She had settled
down and taken charge of the
household as a matter of course,
as if he were her father, or
brother, or as if she were a
man like himself.
"It is just too delightful
for anything," she assured him. "It
is like a page out of some romance.
Here I come along out of the
sea and find a sick man all alone
with two hundred slaves--"
"Recruits," he corrected. "Contract
labourers. They serve only three
years, and they are free agents
when they enter upon their contracts."
"Yes, yes," she hurried on. "--A
sick man alone with two hundred
recruits on a cannibal island--they
are cannibals, aren't they? Or
is it all talk?"
"Talk!" he said, with a smile. "It's
a trifle more than that. Most
of my boys are from the bush,
and every bushman is a cannibal."
"But not after
they become recruits? Surely,
the boys you
have here wouldn't be guilty."
you if the chance afforded."
"Are you just saying so, on
theory, or do you really know?" she
makes you think so? Your own
"Yes, my own
men here, the very house-boys,
the cook that
at the present moment is making
such delicious rolls, thanks
to you. Not more than three months
ago eleven of them sneaked a
whale-boat and ran for Malaita.
Nine of them belonged to Malaita.
Two were bushmen from San Cristoval.
They were fools--the two from
San Cristoval, I mean; so would
any two Malaita men be who trusted
themselves in a boat with nine
from San Cristoval."
"Yes?" she asked eagerly. "Then
"The nine Malaita
men ate the two from San Cristoval,
the heads, which are too valuable
for mere eating. They stowed
them away in the stern-locker
till they landed. And those two
heads are now in some bush village
back of Langa Langa."
her hands and her eyes sparkled. "They
are really and truly cannibals!
think, this is the twentieth
century! And I thought romance
and adventure were fossilized!"
He looked at her with mild
"What is the matter now?" she
only I don't fancy being eaten
by a lot of
filthy niggers is the least bit
"No, of course not," she admitted. "But
to be among them, controlling
them, directing them, two hundred
of them, and to escape being
eaten by them--that, at least,
if it isn't romantic, is certainly
the quintessence of adventure.
And adventure and romance are
allied, you know."
"By the same token, to go into
a nigger's stomach should be
the quintessence of adventure," he
"I don't think you have any
romance in you," she exclaimed. "You're
just dull and sombre and sordid
like the business men at home.
I don't know why you're here
at all. You should be at home
placidly vegetating as a banker's
assistant, thank you."
What under the sun are you
on the edge of things?"
bread and butter, trying to
get on in the world."
"'By the bitter road the younger
son must tread, Ere he win to
hearth and saddle of his own,'" she
quoted. "Why, if that isn't romantic,
then nothing is romantic. Think
of all the younger sons out over
the world, on a myriad of adventures
winning to those same hearths
and saddles. And here you are
in the thick of it, doing it,
and here am I in the thick of
it, doing it."
"I--I beg pardon," he
"Well, I'm a younger daughter,
then," she amended; "and I have
no hearth nor saddle--I haven't
anybody or anything--and I'm
just as far on the edge of things
as you are."
"In your case, then, I'll admit
there is a bit of romance," he
He could not help but think
of the preceding nights, and
of her sleeping in the hammock
on the veranda, under mosquito
curtains, her bodyguard of Tahitian
sailors stretched out at the
far corner of the veranda within
call. He had been too helpless
to resist, but now he resolved
she should have his couch inside
while he would take the hammock.
"You see, I had read and dreamed
about romance all my life," she
was saying, "but I never, in
my wildest fancies, thought that
I should live it. It was all
so unexpected. Two years ago
I thought there was nothing left
to me but. . . ." She faltered,
and made a moue of distaste. "Well,
the only thing that remained,
it seemed to me, was marriage."
"And you preferred a cannibal
isle and a cartridge-belt?" he
"I didn't think
of the cannibal isle, but the
"You wouldn't dare use the
revolver if you were compelled
to. Or," noting the glint in
her eyes, "if you did use it,
to--well, to hit anything."
She started up suddenly to
enter the house. He knew she
was going for her revolver.
"Never mind," he said, "here's
mine. What can you do with it?"
block off your flag-halyards."
He smiled his unbelief.
"I don't know the gun," she
"It's a light
trigger and you don't have
to hold down. Draw
"Yes, yes," she spoke impatiently. "I
know automatics--they jam when
they get hot--only I don't know
yours." She looked at it a moment. "It's
cocked. Is there a cartridge
in the chamber?"
She fired, and the block remained
"It's a long shot," he
said, with the intention of
But she bit her lip and fired
again. The bullet emitted a sharp
shriek as it ricochetted into
space. The metal block rattled
back and forth. Again and again
she fired, till the clip was
emptied of its eight cartridges.
Six of them were hits. The block
still swayed at the gaff-end,
but it was battered out of all
usefulness. Sheldon was astonished.
It was better than he or even
Hughie Drummond could have done.
The women he had known, when
they sporadically fired a rifle
or revolver, usually shrieked,
shut their eyes, and blazed away
"That's really good shooting
. . . for a woman," he said. "You
only missed it twice, and it
was a strange weapon."
"But I can't make out the two
misses," she complained. "The
gun worked beautifully, too.
Give me another clip and I'll
hit it eight times for anything
"I don't doubt
it. Now I'll have to get a
new block. Viaburi!
Here you fella, catch one fella
block along store-room."
"I'll wager you can't do it
eight out of eight . . . anything
you wish," she challenged.
"No fear of my taking it on," was
his answer. "Who taught you to
"Oh, my father,
at first, and then Von, and
his cowboys. He
was a shot--Dad, I mean, though
Von was splendid, too."
Sheldon wondered secretly who
Von was, and he speculated as
to whether it was Von who two
years previously had led her
to believe that nothing remained
for her but matrimony.
"What part of the United States
is your home?" he asked. "Chicago
or Wyoming? or somewhere out
there? You know you haven't told
me a thing about yourself. All
that I know is that you are Miss
Joan Lackland from anywhere."
to go farther west to find
my stamping grounds."
"Ah, let me
She shook her head.
"It can't be,
or else I've forgotten my geography."
"It's your politics," she laughed. "Don't
you remember 'Annexation'?"
"The Philippines!" he
I was born there. It is a beautiful
land. My, I'm
almost homesick for it already.
Not that I haven't been away.
I was in New York when the crash
came. But I do think it is the
sweetest spot on earth--Hawaii,
"Then what under the sun are
you doing down here in this God-
forsaken place?" he asked. "Only
fools come here," he added bitterly.
"Nielsen wasn't a fool, was
he?" she queried. "As I understand,
he made three millions here."
"Only too true,
and that fact is responsible
for my being here."
"And for me, too," she said. "Dad
heard about him in the Marquesas,
and so we started. Only poor
Dad didn't get here."
"He--your father--died?" he
She nodded, and her eyes grew
soft and moist.
"I might as well begin at the
beginning." She lifted her head
with a proud air of dismissing
sadness, after, the manner of
a woman qualified to wear a Baden-Powell
and a long-barrelled Colt's. "I
was born at Hilo. That's on the
island of Hawaii--the biggest
and best in the whole group.
I was brought up the way most
girls in Hawaii are brought up.
They live in the open, and they
know how to ride and swim before
they know what six-times-six
is. As for me, I can't remember
when I first got on a horse nor
when I learned to swim. That
came before my A B C's. Dad owned
cattle ranches on Hawaii and
Maui--big ones, for the islands.
Hokuna had two hundred thousand
acres alone. It extended in between
Mauna Koa and Mauna Loa, and
it was there I learned to shoot
goats and wild cattle. On Molokai
they have big spotted deer. Von
was the manager of Hokuna. He
had two daughters about my own
age, and I always spent the hot
season there, and, once, a whole
year. The three of us were like
Indians. Not that we ran wild,
exactly, but that we were wild
to run wild. There were always
the governesses, you know, and
lessons, and sewing, and housekeeping;
but I'm afraid we were too often
bribed to our tasks with promises
of horses or of cattle drives.
"Von had been
in the army, and Dad was an
old sea-dog, and
they were both stern disciplinarians;
only the two girls had no mother,
and neither had I, and they were
two men after all. They spoiled
us terribly. You see, they didn't
have any wives, and they made
chums out of us--when our tasks
were done. We had to learn to
do everything about the house
twice as well as the native servants
did it--that was so that we should
know how to manage some day.
And we always made the cocktails,
which was too holy a rite for
any servant. Then, too, we were
never allowed anything we could
not take care of ourselves. Of
course the cowboys always roped
and saddled our horses, but we
had to be able ourselves to go
out in the paddock and rope our
"What do you mean by ROPE?" Sheldon
them, to lasso them. And Dad
and Von timed us in the
saddling and made a most rigid
examination of the result. It
was the same way with our revolvers
and rifles. The house-boys always
cleaned them and greased them;
but we had to learn how in order
to see that they did it properly.
More than once, at first, one
or the other of us had our rifles
taken away for a week just because
of a tiny speck of rust. We had
to know how to build fires in
the driving rain, too, out of
wet wood, when we camped out,
which was the hardest thing of
all--except grammar, I do believe.
We learned more from Dad and
Von than from the governesses;
Dad taught us French and Von
German. We learned both languages
passably well, and we learned
them wholly in the saddle or
"In the cool
season the girls used to come
down and visit me
in Hilo, where Dad had two houses,
one at the beach, or the three
of us used to go down to our
place in Puna, and that meant
canoes and boats and fishing
and swimming. Then, too, Dad
belonged to the Royal Hawaiian
Yacht Club, and took us racing
and cruising. Dad could never
get away from the sea, you know.
When I was fourteen I was Dad's
actual housekeeper, with entire
power over the servants, and
I am very proud of that period
of my life. And when I was sixteen
we three girls were all sent
up to California to Mills Seminary,
which was quite fashionable and
stifling. How we used to long
for home! We didn't chum with
the other girls, who called us
little cannibals, just because
we came from the Sandwich Islands,
and who made invidious remarks
about our ancestors banqueting
on Captain Cook--which was historically
untrue, and, besides, our ancestors
hadn't lived in Hawaii.
"I was three
years at Mills Seminary, with
trips home, of
course, and two years in New
York; and then Dad went smash
in a sugar plantation on Maui.
The report of the engineers had
not been right. Then Dad had
built a railroad that was called
'Lackland's Folly,'--it will
pay ultimately, though. But it
contributed to the smash. The
Pelaulau Ditch was the finishing
blow. And nothing would have
happened anyway, if it hadn't
been for that big money panic
in Wall Street. Dear good Dad!
He never let me know. But I read
about the crash in a newspaper,
and hurried home. It was before
that, though, that people had
been dinging into my ears that
marriage was all any woman could
get out of life, and good-bye
to romance. Instead of which,
with Dad's failure, I fell right
"How long ago was that?" Sheldon
year of the panic."
"Let me see," Sheldon pondered
with an air of gravity. "Sixteen
plus five, plus one, equals twenty-two.
You were born in 1887?"
"Yes; but it
is not nice of you."
"I am really sorry," he said, "but
the problem was so obvious."
"Can't you ever say nice things?
Or is it the way you English
have?" There was a snap in her
gray eyes, and her lips quivered
suspiciously for a moment. "I
should recommend, Mr. Sheldon,
that you read Gertrude Atherton's
'American Wives and English Husbands.'"
"Thank you, I have. It's over
there." He pointed at the generously
filled bookshelves. "But I am
afraid it is rather partisan."
"Anything un-English is bound
to be," she retorted. "I never
have liked the English anyway.
The last one I knew was an overseer.
Dad was compelled to discharge
doesn't make a summer."
"But that Englishman
made lots of trouble--there!
And now please
don't make me any more absurd
than I already am."
"Oh, for that matter--" She
tossed her head, opened her mouth
to complete the retort, then
changed her mind. "I shall go
on with my history. Dad had practically
nothing left, and he decided
to return to the sea. He'd always
loved it, and I half believe
that he was glad things had happened
as they did. He was like a boy
again, busy with plans and preparations
from morning till night. He used
to sit up half the night talking
things over with me. That was
after I had shown him that I
was really resolved to go along.
"He had made
his start, you know, in the
and pearl shell--and he was sure
that more fortunes, in trove
of one sort and another, were
to be picked up. Cocoanut-planting
was his particular idea, with
trading, and maybe pearling,
along with other things, until
the plantation should come into
bearing. He traded off his yacht
for a schooner, the Miele, and
away we went. I took care of
him and studied navigation. He
was his own skipper. We had a
Danish mate, Mr. Ericson, and
a mixed crew of Japanese and
Hawaiians. We went up and down
the Line Islands, first, until
Dad was heartsick. Everything
was changed. They had been annexed
and divided by one power or another,
while big companies had stepped
in and gobbled land, trading
rights, fishing rights, everything.
"Next we sailed
for the Marquesas. They were
beautiful, but the
natives were nearly extinct.
Dad was cut up when he learned
that the French charged an export
duty on copra--he called it medieval--
but he liked the land. There
was a valley of fifteen thousand
acres on Nuka-hiva, half inclosing
a perfect anchorage, which he
fell in love with and bought
for twelve hundred Chili dollars.
But the French taxation was outrageous
(that was why the land was so
cheap), and, worst of all, we
could obtain no labour. What
kanakas there were wouldn't work,
and the officials seemed to sit
up nights thinking out new obstacles
to put in our way.
was enough for Dad. The situation
'We'll go to the Solomons,' he
said, 'and get a whiff of English
rule. And if there are no openings
there we'll go on to the Bismarck
Archipelago. I'll wager the Admiraltys
are not yet civilized.' All preparations
were made, things packed on board,
and a new crew of Marquesans
and Tahitians shipped. We were
just ready to start to Tahiti,
where a lot of repairs and refitting
for the Miele were necessary,
when poor Dad came down sick
"And you were
left all alone?"
alone. I had no brothers nor
sisters, and all
Dad's people were drowned in
a Kansas cloud-burst. That happened
when he was a little boy. Of
course, I could go back to Von.
There's always a home there waiting
for me. But why should I go?
Besides, there were Dad's plans,
and I felt that it devolved upon
me to carry them out. It seemed
a fine thing to do. Also, I wanted
to carry them out. And . . .
here I am.
"Take my advice
and never go to Tahiti. It
is a lovely place,
and so are the natives. But the
white people! Now Barabbas lived
in Tahiti. Thieves, robbers,
and lairs--that is what they
are. The honest men wouldn't
require the fingers of one hand
to count. The fact that I was
a woman only simplified matters
with them. They robbed me on
every pretext, and they lied
without pretext or need. Poor
Mr. Ericson was corrupted. He
joined the robbers, and O.K.'d
all their demands even up to
a thousand per cent. If they
robbed me of ten francs, his
share was three. One bill of
fifteen hundred francs I paid,
netted him five hundred francs.
All this, of course, I learned
afterward. But the Miele was
old, the repairs had to be made,
and I was charged, not three
prices, but seven prices.
"I never shall
know how much Ericson got out
of it. He lived
ashore in a nicely furnished
house. The shipwrights were giving
it to him rent-free. Fruit, vegetables,
fish, meat, and ice came to this
house every day, and he paid
for none of it. It was part of
his graft from the various merchants.
And all the while, with tears
in his eyes, he bemoaned the
vile treatment I was receiving
from the gang. No, I did not
fall among thieves. I went to
"But when the
robbers fell to cheating one
another, I got
my first clues to the state of
affairs. One of the robbed robbers
came to me after dark, with facts,
figures, and assertions. I knew
I was ruined if I went to law.
The judges were corrupt like
everything else. But I did do
one thing. In the dead of night
I went to Ericson's house. I
had the same revolver I've got
now, and I made him stay in bed
while I overhauled things. Nineteen
hundred and odd francs was what
I carried away with me. He never
complained to the police, and
he never came back on board.
As for the rest of the gang,
they laughed and snapped their
fingers at me. There were two
Americans in the place, and they
warned me to leave the law alone
unless I wanted to leave the
Miele behind as well.
"Then I sent
to New Zealand and got a German
mate. He had
a master's certificate, and was
on the ship's papers as captain,
but I was a better navigator
than he, and I was really captain
myself. I lost her, too, but
it's no reflection on my seamanship.
We were drifting four days outside
there in dead calms. Then the
nor'wester caught us and drove
us on the lee shore. We made
sail and tried to clew off, when
the rotten work of the Tahiti
shipwrights became manifest.
Our jib-boom and all our head-stays
carried away. Our only chance
was to turn and run through the
passage between Florida and Ysabel.
And when we were safely through,
in the twilight, where the chart
shows fourteen fathoms as the
shoalest water, we smashed on
a coral patch. The poor old Miele
struck only once, and then went
clear; but it was too much for
her, and we just had time to
clear away in the boat when she
went down. The German mate was
drowned. We lay all night to
a sea-drag, and next morning
sighted your place here."
"I suppose you will go back
to Von, now?" Sheldon queried.
the sort. Dad planned to go
to the Solomons. I shall
look about for some land and
start a small plantation. Do
you know any good land around
"By George, you Yankees are
remarkable, really remarkable," said
Sheldon. "I should never have
dreamed of such a venture."
it is. And if you'd gone ashore
on Malaita instead of Guadalcanar
you'd have been kai-kai'd long
ago, along with your noble Tahitian
"To tell the truth," she confessed, "we
were very much afraid to land
on Guadalcanar. I read in the
'Sailing Directions' that the
natives were treacherous and
hostile. Some day I should like
to go to Malaita. Are there any
"Not one. Not
a white trader even."
"Then I shall
go over on a recruiting vessel
"Impossible!" Sheldon cried. "It
is no place for a woman."
"I shall go just the same," she
"But no self-respecting
"Be careful," she warned him. "I
shall go some day, and then you
may be sorry for the names you
have called me."