It was the first time Sheldon
had been at close quarters with
an American girl, and he would
have wondered if all American
girls were like Joan Lackland
had he not had wit enough to
realize that she was not at all
typical. Her quick mind and changing
moods bewildered him, while her
outlook on life was so different
from what he conceived a woman's
outlook should be, that he was
more often than not at sixes
and sevens with her. He could
never anticipate what she would
say or do next. Of only one thing
was he sure, and that was that
whatever she said or did was
bound to be unexpected and unsuspected.
There seemed, too, something
almost hysterical in her make-up.
Her temper was quick and stormy,
and she relied too much on herself
and too little on him, which
did not approximate at all to
his ideal of woman's conduct
when a man was around. Her assumption
of equality with him was disconcerting,
and at times he half-consciously
resented the impudence and bizarreness
of her intrusion upon him--rising
out of the sea in a howling nor'wester,
fresh from poking her revolver
under Ericson's nose, protected
by her gang of huge Polynesian
sailors, and settling down in
Berande like any shipwrecked
sailor. It was all on a par with
her Baden-Powell and the long
At any rate, she did not look
the part. And that was what he
could not forgive. Had she been
short-haired, heavy-jawed, large-
muscled, hard-bitten, and utterly
unlovely in every way, all would
have been well. Instead of which
she was hopelessly and deliciously
feminine. Her hair worried him,
it was so generously beautiful.
And she was so slenderly and
prettily the woman--the girl,
rather--that it cut him like
a knife to see her, with quick,
comprehensive eyes and sharply
imperative voice, superintend
the launching of the whale-boat
through the surf. In imagination
he could see her roping a horse,
and it always made him shudder.
Then, too, she was so many-sided.
Her knowledge of literature and
art surprised him, while deep
down was the feeling that a girl
who knew such things had no right
to know how to rig tackles, heave
up anchors, and sail schooners
around the South Seas. Such things
in her brain were like so many
oaths on her lips. While for
such a girl to insist that she
was going on a recruiting cruise
around Malaita was positive self-sacrilege.
He always perturbedly harked
back to her feminineness. She
could play the piano far better
than his sisters at home, and
with far finer appreciation--the
piano that poor Hughie had so
heroically laboured over to keep
in condition. And when she strummed
the guitar and sang liquid, velvety
Hawaiian hulas, he sat entranced.
Then she was all woman, and the
magic of sex kidnapped the irritations
of the day and made him forget
the big revolver, the Baden-Powell,
and all the rest. But what right,
the next thought in his brain
would whisper, had such a girl
to swagger around like a man
and exult that adventure was
not dead? Woman that adventured
were adventuresses, and the connotation
was not nice. Besides, he was
not enamoured of adventure. Not
since he was a boy had it appealed
to him--though it would have
driven him hard to explain what
had brought him from England
to the Solomons if it had not
Sheldon certainly was not happy.
The unconventional state of affairs
was too much for his conservative
disposition and training. Berande,
inhabited by one lone white man,
was no place for Joan Lackland.
Yet he racked his brain for a
way out, and even talked it over
with her. In the first place,
the steamer from Australia was
not due for three weeks.
"One thing is evident: you
don't want me here," she said. "I'll
man the whale-boat to-morrow
and go over to Tulagi."
"But as I told you before,
that is impossible," he cried. "There
is no one there. The Resident
Commissioner is away in Australia.
Them is only one white man, a
third assistant understrapper
and ex- sailor--a common sailor.
He is in charge of the government
of the Solomons, to say nothing
of a hundred or so niggers--prisoners.
Besides, he is such a fool that
he would fine you five pounds
for not having entered at Tulagi,
which is the port of entry, you
know. He is not a nice man, and,
I repeat, it is impossible."
"There is Guvutu," she
He shook his head.
there but fever and five white
are drinking themselves to death.
I couldn't permit it."
"Oh thank you," she said quietly. "I
guess I'll start to-day.-- Viaburi!
You go along Noa Noah, speak
'm come along me."
Noa Noah was her head sailor,
who had been boatswain of the
"Where are you going?" Sheldon
asked in surprise.--"Vlaburi!
"To Guvutu--immediately," was
"But I won't
"That is why
I am going. You said it once
before, and it is
something I cannot brook."
"What?" He was bewildered by
her sudden anger. "If I have
offended in any way--"
"Viaburi, you fetch 'm one
fella Noa Noah along me," she
The black boy started to obey.
no stop I break 'm head belong
you. And now,
Miss Lackland, I insist--you
must explain. What have I said
or done to merit this?"
"You have presumed,
you have dared--"
She choked and swallowed, and
could not go on.
Sheldon looked the picture
"I confess my head is going
around with it all," he said. "If
you could only be explicit."
as you were when you told me
that you would not
permit me to go to Guvutu?"
wrong with that?"
"But you have
no right--no man has the right--to
what he will permit or not permit.
I'm too old to have a guardian,
nor did I sail all the way to
the Solomons to find one."
is every woman's guardian."
not every woman--that's all.
Will you kindly allow me
to send your boy for Noa Noah?
I wish him to launch the whale-
boat. Or shall I go myself for
Both were now on their feet,
she with flushed cheeks and angry
eyes, he, puzzled, vexed, and
alarmed. The black boy stood
like a statue--a plum-black statue--taking
no interest in the transactions
of these incomprehensible whites,
but dreaming with calm eyes of
a certain bush village high on
the jungle slopes of Malaita,
with blue smoke curling up from
the grass houses against the
gray background of an oncoming
"But you won't do anything
so foolish--" he began.
"There you go again," she
"I didn't mean it that way,
and you know I didn't." He was
speaking slowly and gravely. "And
that other thing, that not permitting--it
is only a manner of speaking.
Of course I am not your guardian.
You know you can go to Guvutu
if you want to"--"or to the devil," he
was almost tempted to add. "Only,
I should deeply regret it, that
is all. And I am very sorry that
I should have said anything that
hurt you. Remember, I am an Englishman."
Joan smiled and sat down again.
"Perhaps I have been hasty," she
admitted. "You see, I am intolerant
of restraint. If you only knew
how I have been compelled to
fight for my freedom. It is a
sore point with me, this being
told what I am to do or not do
by you self-constituted lords
of creation.-Viaburi I You stop
along kitchen. No bring 'm Noa
Noah.--And now, Mr. Sheldon,
what am I to do? You don't want
me here, and there doesn't seem
to be any place for me to go."
"That is unfair.
Your being wrecked here has
been a godsend
to me. I was very lonely and
very sick. I really am not certain
whether or not I should have
pulled through had you not happened
along. But that is not the point.
Personally, purely selfishly
personally, I should be sorry
to see you go. But I am not considering
myself. I am considering you.
It--it is hardly the proper thing,
you know. If I were married--if
there were some woman of your
own race here--but as it is--"
She threw up her hands in mock
"I cannot follow you," she
said. "In one breath you tell
me I must go, and in the next
breath you tell me there is no
place to go and that you will
not permit me to go. What is
a poor girl to do?"
"That's the trouble," he
"And the situation
"Only for your
"Then let me
save your feelings by telling
you that it does not
annoy me at all--except for the
row you are making about it.
I never allow what can't be changed
to annoy me. There is no use
in fighting the inevitable. Here
is the situation. You are here.
I am here. I can't go elsewhere,
by your own account. You certainly
can't go elsewhere and leave
me here alone with a whole plantation
and two hundred woolly cannibals
on my hands. Therefore you stay,
and I stay. It is very simple.
Also, it is adventure. And furthermore,
you needn't worry for yourself.
I am not matrimonially inclined.
I came to the Solomons for a
plantation, not a husband."
Sheldon flushed, but remained
"I know what you are thinking," she
laughed gaily. "That if I were
a man you'd wring my neck for
me. And I deserve it, too. I'm
so sorry. I ought not to keep
on hurting your feelings."
"I'm afraid I rather invite
it," he said, relieved by the
signs of the tempest subsiding.
"I have it," she announced. "Lend
me a gang of your boys for to-
day. I'll build a grass house
for myself over in the far corner
of the compound--on piles, of
course. I can move in to-night.
I'll be comfortable and safe.
The Tahitians can keep an anchor
watch just as aboard ship. And
then I'll study cocoanut planting.
In return, I'll run the kitchen
end of your household and give
you some decent food to eat.
And finally, I won't listen to
any of your protests. I know
all that you are going to say
and offer-- your giving the bungalow
up to me and building a grass
house for yourself. And I won't
have it. You may as well consider
everything settled. On the other
hand, if you don't agree, I will
go across the river, beyond your
jurisdiction, and build a village
for myself and my sailors, whom
I shall send in the whale-boat
to Guvutu for provisions. And
now I want you to teach me billiards."