The next day Sheldon was left
all alone. Joan had gone exploring
Pari-Sulay, and was not to be
expected back until the late
afternoon. Sheldon was vaguely
oppressed by his loneliness,
and several heavy squalls during
the afternoon brought him frequently
on to the veranda, telescope
in hand, to scan the sea anxiously
for the whale-boat. Betweenwhiles
he scowled over the plantation
account-books, made rough estimates,
added and balanced, and scowled
the harder. The loss of the Jessie
had hit Berande severely. Not
alone was his capital depleted
by the amount of her value, but
her earnings were no longer to
be reckoned on, and it was her
earnings that largely paid the
running expenses of the
"Poor old Hughie," he muttered
aloud, once. "I'm glad you didn't
live to see it, old man. What
a cropper, what a cropper!"
Between squalls the Flibberty-Gibbet
ran in to anchorage, and her
skipper, Pete Oleson (brother
to the Oleson of the Jessie),
ancient, grizzled, wild-eyed,
emaciated by fever, dragged his
weary frame up the veranda steps
and collapsed in a steamer-chair.
Whisky and soda kept him going
while he made report and turned
in his accounts.
"You're rotten with fever," Sheldon
said. "Why don't you run down
to Sydney for a blow of decent
The old skipper shook his head.
"I can't. I've
ben in the islands too long.
I'd die. The fever
comes out worse down there."
"Kill or cure," Sheldon
kill for me. I tried it three
years ago. The
cool weather put me on my back
before I landed. They carried
me ashore and into hospital.
I was unconscious one stretch
for two weeks. After that the
doctors sent me back to the islands--said
it was the only thing that would
save me. Well, I'm still alive;
but I'm too soaked with fever.
A month in Australia would finish
"But what are you going to
do?" Sheldon queried. "You can't
stay here until you die."
that's left to me. I'd like
to go back to the
old country, but I couldn't stand
it. I'll last longer here, and
here I'll stay until I peg out;
but I wish to God I'd never seen
the Solomons, that's all."
He declined to sleep ashore,
took his orders, and went back
on board the cutter. A lurid
sunset was blotted out by the
heaviest squall of the day, and
Sheldon watched the whale-boat
arrive in the thick of it. As
the spritsail was taken in and
the boat headed on to the beach,
he was aware of a distinct hurt
at sight of Joan at the steering-oar,
standing erect and swaying her
strength to it as she resisted
the pressures that tended to
throw the craft broadside in
the surf. Her Tahitians leaped
out and rushed the boat high
up the beach, and she led her
bizarre following through the
gate of the compound.
The first drops of rain were
driving like hail-stones, the
tall cocoanut palms were bending
and writhing in the grip of the
wind, while the thick cloud-mass
of the squall turned the brief
tropic twilight abruptly to night.
Quite unconsciously the brooding
anxiety of the afternoon slipped
from Sheldon, and he felt strangely
cheered at the sight of her running
up the steps laughing, face flushed,
hair flying, her breast heaving
from the violence of her late
"Lovely, perfectly lovely--Pari-Sulay," she
panted. "I shall buy it. I'll
write to the Commissioner to-night.
And the site for the bungalow--I've
selected it already--is wonderful.
You must come over some day and
advise me. You won't mind my
staying here until I can get
settled? Wasn't that squall beautiful?
And I suppose I'm late for dinner.
I'll run and get clean, and be
with you in a minute."
And in the brief interval of
her absence he found himself
walking about the big living-room
and impatiently and with anticipation
awaiting her coming.
"Do you know, I'm never going
to squabble with you again," he
announced when they were seated.
"Squabble!" was the retort. "It's
such a sordid word. It sounds
cheap and nasty. I think it's
much nicer to quarrel."
"Call it what you please, but
we won't do it any more, will
we?" He cleared his throat nervously,
for her eyes advertised the immediate
beginning of hostilities. "I
beg your pardon," he hurried
on. "I should have spoken for
myself. What I mean is that I
refuse to quarrel. You have the
most horrible way, without uttering
a word, of making me play the
fool. Why, I began with the kindest
intentions, and here I am now--"
"Making nasty remarks," she
completed for him.
"It's the way you have of catching
me up," he complained.
"Why, I never
said a word. I was merely sitting
sweetly lured on by promises
of peace on earth and all the
rest of it, when suddenly you
began to call me names."
I am sure."
said I was horrible, or that
I had a horrible way
about me, which is the same thing.
I wish my bungalow were up. I'd
But her twitching lips belied
her words, and the next moment
the man was more uncomfortable
than ever, being made so by her
"I was only teasing you. Honest
Injun. And if you don't laugh
I'll suspect you of being in
a temper with me. That's right,
laugh. But don't--" she added
in alarm, "don't if it hurts
you. You look as though you had
a toothache. There, there--don't
say it. You know you promised
not to quarrel, while I have
the privilege of going on being
as hateful as I please. And to
begin with, there's the Flibberty-Gibbet.
I didn't know she was so large
a cutter; but she's in disgraceful
condition. Her rigging is something
queer, and the next sharp squall
will bring her head-gear all
about the shop. I watched Noa
Noah's face as we sailed past.
He didn't say anything. He just
sneered. And I don't blame him."
"Her skipper's rotten bad with
fever," Sheldon explained. "And
he had to drop his mate off to
take hold of things at Ugi--that's
where I lost Oscar, my trader.
And you know what sort of sailors
the niggers are."
She nodded her head judicially,
and while she seemed to debate
a weighty judgment he asked for
a second helping of tinned beef--not
because he was hungry, but because
he wanted to watch her slim,
firm fingers, naked of jewels
and banded metals, while his
eyes pleasured in the swell of
the forearm, appearing from under
the sleeve and losing identity
in the smooth, round wrist undisfigured
by the netted veins that come
to youth when youth is gone.
The fingers were brown with tan
and looked exceedingly boyish.
Then, and without effort, the
concept came to him. Yes, that
was it. He had stumbled upon
the clue to her tantalizing personality.
Her fingers, sunburned and boyish,
told the story. No wonder she
had exasperated him so frequently.
He had tried to treat with her
as a woman, when she was not
a woman. She was a mere girl--and
a boyish girl at that--with sunburned
fingers that delighted in doing
what boys' fingers did; with
a body and muscles that liked
swimming and violent endeavour
of all sorts; with a mind that
was daring, but that dared no
farther than boys' adventures,
and that delighted in rifles
and revolvers, Stetson hats,
and a sexless camaraderie with
Somehow, as he pondered and
watched her, it seemed as if
he sat in church at home listening
to the choir-boys chanting. She
reminded him of those boys, or
their voices, rather. The same
sexless quality was there. In
the body of her she was woman;
in the mind of her she had not
grown up. She had not been exposed
to ripening influences of that
sort. She had had no mother.
Von, her father, native servants,
and rough island life had constituted
her training. Horses and rifles
had been her toys, camp and trail
her nursery. From what she had
told him, her seminary days had
been an exile, devoted to study
and to ceaseless longing for
the wild riding and swimming
of Hawaii. A boy's training,
and a boy's point of view! That
explained her chafe at petticoats,
her revolt at what was only decently
conventional. Some day she would
grow up, but as yet she was only
in the process.
Well, there was only one thing
for him to do. He must meet her
on her own basis of boyhood,
and not make the mistake of treating
her as a woman. He wondered if
he could love the woman she would
be when her nature awoke; and
he wondered if he could love
her just as she was and himself
wake her up. After all, whatever
it was, she had come to fill
quite a large place in his life,
as he had discovered that afternoon
while scanning the sea between
the squalls. Then he remembered
the accounts of Berande, and
the cropper that was coming,
He became aware that she was
"I beg pardon," he said. "What's
that you were saying?"
"You weren't listening to a
word--I knew it," she chided. "I
was saying that the condition
of the Flibberty-Gibbet was disgraceful,
and that to-morrow, when you've
told the skipper and not hurt
his feelings, I am going to take
my men out and give her an overhauling.
We'll scrub her bottom, too.
Why, there's whiskers on her
copper four inches long. I saw
it when she rolled. Don't forget,
I'm going cruising on the Flibberty
some day, even if I have to run
away with her."
While at their coffee on the
veranda, Satan raised a commotion
in the compound near the beach
gate, and Sheldon finally rescued
a mauled and frightened black
and dragged him on the porch
"What fella marster you belong?" he
demanded. "What name you come
along this fella place sun he
Boucher. Too many boy belong
along Port Adams stop
along my fella marster. Too much
The black drew a scrap of notepaper
from under his belt and passed
it over. Sheldon scanned it hurriedly.
"It's from Boucher," he explained, "the
fellow who took Packard's place.
Packard was the one I told you
about who was killed by his boat's-crew.
He says the Port Adams crowd
is out--fifty of them, in big
canoes--and camping on his beach.
They've killed half a dozen of
his pigs already, and seem to
be looking for trouble. And he's
afraid they may connect with
the fifteen runaways from Lunga."
"In which case?" she
"In which case
Billy Pape will be compelled
to send Boucher's
successor. It's Pape's station,
you know. I wish I knew what
to do. I don't like to leave
you here alone."
"Take me along
He smiled and shook his head.
"Then you'd better take my
men along," she advised. "They're
good shots, and they're not afraid
of anything--except Utami, and
he's afraid of ghosts."
The big bell was rung, and
fifty black boys carried the
whale-boat down to the water.
The regular boat's-crew manned
her, and Matauare and three other
Tahitians, belted with cartridges
and armed with rifles, sat in
the stern-sheets where Sheldon
stood at the steering-oar.
"My, I wish I could go with
you," Joan said wistfully, as
the boat shoved off.
Sheldon shook his head.
"I'm as good as a man," she
"You really are needed here," he
Lunga crowd; they might reach
the coast right
here, and with both of us absent
rush the plantation. Good-bye.
We'll get back in the morning
some time. It's only twelve miles."
When Joan started to return
to the house, she was compelled
to pass among the boat-carriers,
who lingered on the beach to
chatter in queer, ape-like fashion
about the events of the night.
They made way for her, but there
came to her, as she was in the
midst of them, a feeling of her
own helplessness. There were
so many of them. What was to
prevent them from dragging her
down if they so willed? Then
she remembered that one cry of
hers would fetch Noa Noah and
her remaining sailors, each one
of whom was worth a dozen blacks
in a struggle. As she opened
the gate, one of the boys stepped
up to her. In the darkness she
could not make him out.
"What name?" she asked sharply. "What
name belong you?"
"Me Aroa," he
She remembered him as one of
the two sick boys she had nursed
at the hospital. The other one
"Me take 'm plenty fella medicine
too much," Aroa was saying.
"Well, and you all right now," she
"Me want 'm
tobacco, plenty fella tobacco;
me want 'm calico;
me want 'm porpoise teeth; me
want 'm one fella belt."
She looked at him humorously,
expecting to see a smile, or
at least a grin, on his face.
Instead, his face was expressionless.
Save for a narrow breech-clout,
a pair of ear-plugs, and about
his kinky hair a chaplet of white
cowrie-shells, he was naked.
His body was fresh-oiled and
shiny, and his eyes glistened
in the starlight like some wild
animal's. The rest of the boys
had crowded up at his back in
a solid wall. Some one of them
giggled, but the remainder regarded
her in morose and intense silence.
"Well?" she said. "What
for you want plenty fella things?"
"Me take 'm medicine," quoth
Aroa. "You pay me."
And this was a sample of their
gratitude, she thought. It looked
as if Sheldon had been right
after all. Aroa waited stolidly.
A leaping fish splashed far out
on the water. A tiny wavelet
murmured sleepily on the beach.
The shadow of a flying-fox drifted
by in velvet silence overhead.
A light air fanned coolly on
her cheek; it was the land-breeze
beginning to blow.
"You go along quarters," she
said, starting to turn on her
heel to enter the gate.
"You pay me," said
all the same one big fool.
I no pay you. Now you
But the black was unmoved.
She felt that he was regarding
her almost insolently as he repeated:
"I take 'm
medicine. You pay me. You pay
Then it was that she lost her
temper and cuffed his ears so
soundly as to drive him back
among his fellows. But they did
not break up. Another boy stepped
"You pay me," he
His eyes had the querulous,
troubled look such as she had
noticed in monkeys; but while
he was patently uncomfortable
under her scrutiny, his thick
lips were drawn firmly in an
effort at sullen determination.
"What for?" she
"Me Gogoomy," he said. "Bawo
brother belong me."
Bawo, she remembered, was the
sick boy who had died.
"Go on," she
'm medicine. Bawo finish. Bawo
my brother. You
pay me. Father belong me one
big fella chief along Port Adams.
You pay me."
just the same as Aroa, one
big fool. My word,
who pay me for medicine?"
She dismissed the matter by
passing through the gate and
closing it. But Gogoomy pressed
up against it and said impudently:
me one big fella chief. You
no bang 'm head belong
me. My word, you fright too much."
"Me fright?" she
demanded, while anger tingled
"Too much fright bang 'm head
belong me," Gogoomy said proudly.
And then she reached for him
across the gate and got him.
It was a sweeping, broad-handed
slap, so heavy that he staggered
sideways and nearly fell. He
sprang for the gate as if to
force it open, while the crowd
surged forward against the fence.
Joan thought rapidly. Her revolver
was hanging on the wall of her
grass house. Yet one cry would
bring her sailors, and she knew
she was safe. So she did not
cry for help. Instead, she whistled
for Satan, at the same time calling
him by name. She knew he was
shut up in the living room, but
the blacks did not wait to see.
They fled with wild yells through
the darkness, followed reluctantly
by Gogoomy; while she entered
the bungalow, laughing at first,
but finally vexed to the verge
of tears by what had taken place.
She had sat up a whole night
with the boy who had died, and
yet his brother demanded to be
paid for his life.
"Ugh! the ungrateful beast!" she
muttered, while she debated whether
or not she would confess the
incident to Sheldon.