Joan took hold
of the household with no uncertain
things till Sheldon hardly recognized
the place. For the first time
the bungalow was clean and orderly.
No longer the house-boys loafed
and did as little as they could;
cook complained that "head belong him walk about too much," from the strenuous
course in cookery which she put him through. Nor did Sheldon escape being roundly
lectured for his laziness in eating nothing but tinned provisions. She called
him a muddler and a slouch, and other invidious names, for his slackness and
disregard of healthful food.
She sent her whale-boat down
the coast twenty miles for limes
and oranges, and wanted to know
scathingly why said fruits had
not long since been planted at
Berande, while he was beneath
contempt because there was no
kitchen garden. Mummy apples,
which he had regarded as weeds,
under her guidance appeared as
appetizing breakfast fruit, and,
at dinner, were metamorphosed
into puddings that elicited his
unqualified admiration. Bananas,
foraged from the bush, were served,
cooked and raw, a dozen different
ways, each one of which he declared
was better than any other. She
or her sailors dynamited fish
daily, while the Balesuna natives
were paid tobacco for bringing
in oysters from the mangrove
swamps. Her achievements with
cocoanuts were a revelation.
She taught the cook how to make
yeast from the milk, that, in
turn, raised light and airy bread.
From the tip-top heart of the
tree she concocted a delicious
salad. From the milk and the
meat of the nut she made various
sauces and dressings, sweet and
sour, that were served, according
to preparation, with dishes that
ranged from fish to pudding.
She taught Sheldon the superiority
of cocoanut cream over condensed
cream, for use in coffee. From
the old and sprouting nuts she
took the solid, spongy centres
and turned them into salads.
Her forte seemed to be salads,
and she astonished him with the
deliciousness of a salad made
from young bamboo shoots. Wild
tomatoes, which had gone to seed
or been remorselessly hoed out
from the beginning of Berande,
were foraged for salads, soups,
and sauces. The chickens, which
had always gone into the bush
and hidden their eggs, were given
laying-bins, and Joan went out
herself to shoot wild duck and
wild pigeons for the table.
"Not that I like to do this
sort of work," she explained,
in reference to the cookery; "but
because I can't get away from
Among other things, she burned
the pestilential hospital, quarrelled
with Sheldon over the dead, and,
in anger, set her own men to
work building a new, and what
she called a decent, hospital.
She robbed the windows of their
lawn and muslin curtains, replacing
them with gaudy calico from the
trade-store, and made herself
several gowns. When she wrote
out a list of goods and clothing
for herself, to be sent down
to Sydney by the first steamer,
Sheldon wondered how long she
had made up her mind to stay.
She was certainly unlike any
woman he had ever known or dreamed
of. So far as he was concerned
she was not a woman at all. She
neither languished nor blandished.
No feminine lures were wasted
on him. He might have been her
brother, or she his brother,
for all sex had to do with the
strange situation. Any mere polite
gallantry on his part was ignored
or snubbed, and he had very early
given up offering his hand to
her in getting into a boat or
climbing over a log, and he had
to acknowledge to himself that
she was eminently fitted to take
care of herself. Despite his
warnings about crocodiles and
sharks, she persisted in swimming
in deep water off the beach;
nor could he persuade her, when
she was in the boat, to let one
of the sailors throw the dynamite
when shooting fish. She argued
that she was at least a little
bit more intelligent than they,
and that, therefore, there was
less liability of an accident
if she did the shooting. She
was to him the most masculine
and at the same time the most
feminine woman he had ever met.
A source of continual trouble
between them was the disagreement
over methods of handling the
black boys. She ruled by stern
kindness, rarely rewarding, never
punishing, and he had to confess
that her own sailors worshipped
her, while the house-boys were
her slaves, and did three times
as much work for her as he had
ever got out of them. She quickly
saw the unrest of the contract
labourers, and was not blind
to the danger, always imminent,
that both she and Sheldon ran.
Neither of them ever ventured
out without a revolver, and the
sailors who stood the night watches
by Joan's grass house were armed
with rifles. But Joan insisted
that this reign of terror had
been caused by the reign of fear
practised by the white men. She
had been brought up with the
gentle Hawaiians, who never were
ill-treated nor roughly handled,
and she generalized that the
Solomon Islanders, under kind
treatment, would grow gentle.
One evening a terrific uproar
arose in the barracks, and Sheldon,
aided by Joan's sailors, succeeded
in rescuing two women whom the
blacks were beating to death.
To save them from the vengeance
of the blacks, they were guarded
in the cook-house for the night.
They were the two women who did
the cooking for the labourers,
and their offence had consisted
of one of them taking a bath
in the big cauldron in which
the potatoes were boiled. The
blacks were not outraged from
the standpoint of cleanliness;
they often took baths in the
cauldrons themselves. The trouble
lay in that the bather had been
a low, degraded, wretched female;
for to the Solomon Islander all
females are low, degraded, and
Next morning, Joan and Sheldon,
at breakfast, were aroused by
a swelling murmur of angry voices.
The first rule of Berande had
been broken. The compound had
been entered without permission
or command, and all the two hundred
labourers, with the exception
of the boss-boys, were guilty
of the offence. They crowded
up, threatening and shouting,
close under the front veranda.
Sheldon leaned over the veranda
railing, looking down upon them,
while Joan stood slightly back.
When the uproar was stilled,
two brothers stood forth. They
were large men, splendidly muscled,
and with faces unusually ferocious,
even for Solomon Islanders. One
was Carin-Jama, otherwise The
Silent; and the other was Bellin-Jama,
The Boaster. Both had served
on the Queensland plantations
in the old days, and they were
known as evil characters wherever
white men met and gammed.
"We fella boy we want 'm them
dam two black fella Mary," said
"What you do along black fella
Mary?" Sheldon asked.
"Kill 'm," said
"What name you fella boy talk
along me?" Sheldon demanded,
with a show of rising anger. "Big
bell he ring. You no belong along
here. You belong along field.
Bime by, big fella bell he ring,
you stop along kai-kai, you come
talk along me about two fella
Mary. Now all you boy get along
out of here."
The gang waited to see what
Bellin-Jama would do, and Bellin-Jama
"Me no go," he
"You watch out, Bellin-Jama," Sheldon
said sharply, "or I send you
along Tulagi one big fella lashing.
My word, you catch 'm strong
Bellin-Jama glared up belligerently.
"You want 'm fight," he
said, putting up his fists
Now, in the Solomons, where
whites are few and blacks are
many, and where the whites do
the ruling, such an offer to
fight is the deadliest insult.
Blacks are not supposed to dare
so highly as to offer to fight
a white man. At the best, all
they can look for is to be beaten
by the white man.
A murmur of admiration at Bellin-Jama's
bravery went up from the listening
blacks. But Bellin-Jama's voice
was still ringing in the air,
and the murmuring was just beginning,
when Sheldon cleared the rail,
leaping straight downward. From
the top of the railing to the
ground it was fifteen feet, and
Bellin-Jama was directly beneath.
Sheldon's flying body struck
him and crushed him to earth.
No blows were needed to be struck.
The black had been knocked helpless.
Joan, startled by the unexpected
leap, saw Carin-Jama, The Silent,
reach out and seize Sheldon by
the throat as he was half-way
to his feet, while the five-score
blacks surged forward for the
killing. Her revolver was out,
and Carin-Jama let go his grip,
reeling backward with a bullet
in his shoulder. In that fleeting
instant of action she had thought
to shoot him in the arm, which,
at that short distance, might
reasonably have been achieved.
But the wave of savages leaping
forward had changed her shot
to the shoulder. It was a moment
when not the slightest chance
could be taken.
The instant his throat was
released, Sheldon struck out
with his fist, and Carin-Jama
joined his brother on the ground.
The mutiny was quelled, and five
minutes more saw the brothers
being carried to the hospital,
and the mutineers, marshalled
by the gang-bosses, on the way
to the fields.
When Sheldon came up on the
veranda, he found Joan collapsed
on the steamer-chair and in tears.
The sight unnerved him as the
row just over could not possibly
have done. A woman in tears was
to him an embarrassing situation;
and when that woman was Joan
Lackland, from whom he had grown
to expect anything unexpected,
he was really frightened. He
glanced down at her helplessly,
and moistened his lips.
"I want to thank you," he began. "There
isn't a doubt but what you saved
my life, and I must say--"
She abruptly removed her hands,
showing a wrathful and tear-stained
"You brute! You coward!" she
cried. "You have made me shoot
a man, and I never shot a man
in my life before."
"It's only a flesh-wound, and
he isn't going to die," Sheldon
managed to interpolate.
"What of that?
I shot him just the same. There
was no need for
you to jump down there that way.
It was brutal and cowardly."
"Oh, now I say--" he
"Go away. Don't
you see I hate you! hate you!
Oh, won't you
Sheldon was white with anger.
"Then why in the name of common
sense did you shoot?" he demanded.
"Be-be-because you were a white
man," she sobbed. "And Dad would
never have left any white man
in the lurch. But it was your
fault. You had no right to get
yourself in such a position.
Besides, it wasn't necessary."
"I am afraid I don't understand," he
said shortly, turning away. "We
will talk it over later on."
"Look how I get on with the
boys," she said, while he paused
in the doorway, stiffly polite,
to listen. "There's those two
sick boys I am nursing. They
will do anything for me when
they get well, and I won't have
to keep them in fear of their
life all the time. It is not
necessary, I tell you, all this
harshness and brutality. What
if they are cannibals? They are
human beings, just like you and
me, and they are amenable to
reason. That is what distinguishes
all of us from the lower animals."
He nodded and went out.
"I suppose I've been unforgivably
foolish," was her greeting, when
he returned several hours later
from a round of the plantation. "I've
been to the hospital, and the
man is getting along all right.
It is not a serious hurt."
Sheldon felt unaccountably
pleased and happy at the changed
aspect of her mood.
"You see, you don't understand
the situation," he began. "In
the first place, the blacks have
to be ruled sternly. Kindness
is all very well, but you can't
rule them by kindness only. I
accept all that you say about
the Hawaiians and the Tahitians.
You say that they can be handled
that way, and I believe you.
I have had no experience with
them. But you have had no experience
with the blacks, and I ask you
to believe me. They are different
from your natives. You are used
to Polynesians. These boys are
Melanesians. They're blacks.
They're niggers--look at their
kinky hair. And they're a whole
lot lower than the African niggers.
Really, you know, there is a
no gratitude, no sympathy,
no kindliness. If
you are kind to them, they think
you are a fool. If you are gentle
with them they think you are
afraid. And when they think you
are afraid, watch out, for they
will get you. Just to show you,
let me state the one invariable
process in a black man's brain
when, on his native heath, he
encounters a stranger. His first
thought is one of fear. Will
the stranger kill him? His next
thought, seeing that he is not
killed, is: Can he kill the stranger?
There was Packard, a Colonial
trader, some twelve miles down
the coast. He boasted that he
ruled by kindness and never struck
a blow. The result was that he
did not rule at all. He used
to come down in his whale-boat
to visit Hughie and me. When
his boat's crew decided to go
home, he had to cut his visit
short to accompany them. I remember
one Sunday afternoon when Packard
had accepted our invitation to
stop to dinner. The soup was
just served, when Hughie saw
a nigger peering in through the
door. He went out to him, for
it was a violation of Berande
custom. Any nigger has to send
in word by the house-boys, and
to keep outside the compound.
This man, who was one of Packard's
boat's-crew, was on the veranda.
And he knew better, too. 'What
name?' said Hughie. 'You tell
'm white man close up we fella
boat's-crew go along. He no come
now, we fella boy no wait. We
go.' And just then Hughie fetched
him a clout that knocked him
clean down the stairs and off
"But it was needlessly cruel," Joan
objected. "You wouldn't treat
a white man that way."
just the point. He wasn't a
white man. He was
a low black nigger, and he was
deliberately insulting, not alone
his own white master, but every
white master in the Solomons.
He insulted me. He insulted Hughie.
He insulted Berande."
according to your lights, to
your formula of the
rule of the strong--"
"Yes," Sheldon interrupted, "but
it was according to the formula
of the rule of the weak that
Packard ruled. And what was the
result? I am still alive. Packard
is dead. He was unswervingly
kind and gentle to his boys,
and his boys waited till one
day he was down with fever. His
head is over on Malaita now.
They carried away two whale-boats
as well, filled with the loot
of the store. Then there was
Captain Mackenzie of the ketch
Minota. He believed in kindness.
He also contended that better
confidence was established by
carrying no weapons. On his second
trip to Malaita, recruiting,
he ran into Bina, which is near
Langa Langa. The rifles with
which the boat's-crew should
have been armed, were locked
up in his cabin. When the whale-boat
went ashore after recruits, he
paraded around the deck without
even a revolver on him. He was
tomahawked. His head remains
in Malaita. It was suicide. So
was Packard's finish suicide."
"I grant that precaution is
necessary in dealing with them," Joan
agreed; "but I believe that more
satisfactory results can be obtained
by treating them with discreet
kindness and gentleness."
I agree with YOU, but you must
understand one thing.
Berande, bar none, is by far
the worst plantation in the Solomons
so far as the labour is concerned.
And how it came to be so proves
your point. The previous owners
of Berande were not discreetly
kind. They were a pair of unadulterated
brutes. One was a down- east
Yankee, as I believe they are
called, and the other was a guzzling
German. They were slave-drivers.
To begin with, they bought their
labour from Johnny Be-blowed,
the most notorious recruiter
in the Solomons. He is working
out a ten years' sentence in
Fiji now, for the wanton killing
of a black boy. During his last
days here he had made himself
so obnoxious that the natives
on Malaita would have nothing
to do with him. The only way
he could get recruits was by
hurrying to the spot whenever
a murder or series of murders
occurred. The murderers were
usually only too willing to sign
on and get away to escape vengeance.
Down here they call such escapes,
'pier-head jumps.' There is suddenly
a roar from the beach, and a
nigger runs down to the water
pursued by clouds of spears and
arrows. Of course, Johnny Be-blowed's
whale- boat is lying ready to
pick him up. In his last days
Johnny got nothing but pier-head
"And the first
owners of Berande bought his
gang of murderers. They were
all five-year boys. You see,
the recruiter has the advantage
over a boy when he makes a pier-head
jump. He could sign him on for
ten years did the law permit.
Well, that's the gang of murderers
we've got on our hands now. Of
course some are dead, some have
been killed, and there are others
serving sentences at Tulagi.
Very little clearing did those
first owners do, and less planting.
It was war all the time. They
had one manager killed. One of
the partners had his shoulder
slashed nearly off by a cane-knife.
The other was speared on two
different occasions. Both were
bullies, wherefore there was
a streak of cowardice in them,
and in the end they had to give
up. They were chased away--literally
chased away--by their own niggers.
And along came poor Hughie and
me, two new chums, to take hold
of that hard-bitten gang. We
did not know the situation, and
we had bought Berande, and there
was nothing to do but hang on
and muddle through somehow.
"At first we
made the mistake of indiscreet
kindness. We tried
to rule by persuasion and fair
treatment. The niggers concluded
that we were afraid. I blush
to think of what fools we were
in those first days. We were
imposed on, and threatened and
insulted; and we put up with
it, hoping our square-dealing
would soon mend things. Instead
of which everything went from
bad to worse. Then came the day
when Hughie reprimanded one of
the boys and was nearly killed
by the gang. The only thing that
saved him was the number on top
of him, which enabled me to reach
the spot in time.
the rule of the strong hand.
It was either that
or quit, and we had sunk about
all our money into the venture,
and we could not quit. And besides,
our pride was involved. We had
started out to do something,
and we were so made that we just
had to go on with it. It has
been a hard fight, for we were,
and are to this day, considered
the worst plantation in the Solomons
from the standpoint of labour.
Do you know, we have been unable
to get white men in. We've offered
the managership to half a dozen.
I won't say they were afraid,
for they were not. But they did
not consider it healthy--at least
that is the way it was put by
the last one who declined our
offer. So Hughie and I did the
"And when he died you were
prepared to go on all alone!" Joan
cried, with shining eyes.
I'd muddle through. And now,
Miss Lackland, please
be charitable when I seem harsh,
and remember that the situation
is unparalleled down here. We've
got a bad crowd, and we're making
them work. You've been over the
plantation and you ought to know.
And I assure you that there are
no better three-and-four-years-old
trees on any other plantation
in the Solomons. We have worked
steadily to change matters for
the better. We've been slowly
getting in new labour. That is
why we bought the Jessie. We
wanted to select our own labour.
In another year the time will
be up for most of the original
gang. You see, they were recruited
during the first year of Berande,
and their contracts expire on
different months. Naturally,
they have contaminated the new
boys to a certain extent; but
that can soon be remedied, and
then Berande will be a respectable
Joan nodded but remained silent.
She was too occupied in glimpsing
the vision of the one lone white
man as she had first seen him,
helpless from fever, a collapsed
wraith in a steamer-chair, who,
up to the last heart-beat, by
some strange alchemy of race,
was pledged to mastery.
"It is a pity," she said. "But
the white man has to rule, I
"I don't like it," Sheldon
assured her. "To save my life
I can't imagine how I ever came
here. But here I am, and I can't
"Blind destiny of race," she
said, faintly smiling. "We whites
have been land robbers and sea
robbers from remotest time. It
is in our blood, I guess, and
we can't get away from it."
"I never thought about it so
abstractly," he confessed. "I've
been too busy puzzling over why
I came here."