"I wish I knew whether you are
merely headstrong, or whether
you really intend to be a Solomon
planter," Sheldon said in the
morning, at breakfast.
"I wish you were more adaptable," Joan
retorted. "You have more preconceived
notions than any man I ever met.
Why in the name of common sense,
in the name of . . . fair play,
can't you get it into your head
that I am different from the
women you have known, and treat
me accordingly? You surely ought
to know I am different. I sailed
my own schooner here--skipper,
if you please. I came here to
make my living. You know that;
I've told you often enough. It
was Dad's plan, and I'm carrying
it out, just as you are trying
to carry out your Hughie's plan.
Dad started to sail and sail
until he could find the proper
islands for planting. He died,
and I sailed and sailed until
I arrived here. Well,"--she shrugged
her shoulders--"the schooner
is at the bottom of the sea.
I can't sail any farther, therefore
I remain here. And a planter
I shall certainly be."
"You see--" he
"I haven't got to the point," she
interrupted. "Looking back on
my conduct from the moment I
first set foot on your beach,
I can see no false pretence that
I have made about myself or my
intentions. I was my natural
self to you from the first. I
told you my plans; and yet you
sit there and calmly tell me
that you don't know whether I
really intend to become a planter,
or whether it is all obstinacy
and pretence. Now let me assure
you, for the last time, that
I really and truly shall become
a planter, thanks to you, or
in spite of you. Do you want
me for a partner?"
"But do you realize that I
would be looked upon as the most
foolish jackanapes in the South
Seas if I took a young girl like
you in with me here on Berande?" he
not. But there you are again,
what idiots and the generally
evil-minded will think of you.
I should have thought you had
learned self-reliance on Berande,
instead of needing to lean upon
the moral support of every whisky-guzzling
worthless South Sea vagabond."
He smiled, and said, -
is the worst of it. You are
is the logic of youth, and no
man can answer that. The facts
of life can, but they have no
place in the logic of youth.
Youth must try to live according
to its logic. That is the only
way to learn better."
"There is no harm in trying?" she
is. That is the very point.
The facts always
smash youth's logic, and they
usually smash youth's heart,
too. It's like platonic friendships
and . . . and all such things;
they are all right in theory,
but they won't work in practice.
I used to believe in such things
once. That is why I am here in
the Solomons at present."
Joan was impatient. He saw
that she could not understand.
Life was too clearly simple to
her. It was only the youth who
was arguing with him, the youth
with youth's pure-minded and
invincible reasoning. Hers was
only the boy's soul in a woman's
body. He looked at her flushed,
eager face, at the great ropes
of hair coiled on the small head,
at the rounded lines of the figure
showing plainly through the home-made
gown, and at the eyes--boy's
eyes, under cool, level brows--and
he wondered why a being that
was so much beautiful woman should
be no woman at all. Why in the
deuce was she not carroty-haired,
or cross-eyed, or hare-lipped?
"Suppose we do become partners
on Berande," he said, at the
same time experiencing a feeling
of fright at the prospect that
was tangled with a contradictory
feeling of charm, "either I'll
fall in love with you, or you
with me. Propinquity is dangerous,
you know. In fact, it is propinquity
that usually gives the facer
to the logic of youth."
"If you think I came to the
Solomons to get married--" she
began wrathfully. "Well, there
are better men in Hawaii, that's
all. Really, you know, the way
you harp on that one string would
lead an unprejudiced listener
to conclude that you are prurient-minded--"
She stopped, appalled. His
face had gone red and white with
such abruptness as to startle
her. He was patently very angry.
She sipped the last of her coffee,
and arose, saying, -
until you are in a better temper
up the discussion again. That
is what's the matter with you.
You get angry too easily. Will
you come swimming? The tide is
"If she were a man I'd bundle
her off the plantation root and
crop, whale-boat, Tahitian sailors,
sovereigns, and all," he muttered
to himself after she had left
But that was the trouble. She
was not a man, and where would
she go, and what would happen
He got to his feet, lighted
a cigarette, and her Stetson
hat, hanging on the wall over
her revolver-belt, caught his
eye. That was the devil of it,
too. He did not want her to go.
After all, she had not grown
up yet. That was why her logic
hurt. It was only the logic of
youth, but it could hurt damnably
at times. At any rate, he would
resolve upon one thing: never
again would he lose his temper
with her. She was a child; he
must remember that. He sighed
heavily. But why in reasonableness
had such a child been incorporated
in such a woman's form?
And as he continued to stare
at her hat and think, the hurt
he had received passed away,
and he found himself cudgelling
his brains for some way out of
the muddle--for some method by
which she could remain on Berande.
A chaperone! Why not? He could
send to Sydney on the first steamer
for one. He could -
Her trilling laughter smote
upon his reverie, and he stepped
to the screen-door, through which
he could see her running down
the path to the beach. At her
heels ran two of her sailors,
Papehara and Mahameme, in scarlet
lava-lavas, with naked sheath-knives
gleaming in their belts. It was
another sample of her wilfulness.
Despite entreaties and commands,
and warnings of the danger from
sharks, she persisted in swimming
at any and all times, and by
special preference, it seemed
to him, immediately after eating.
He watched her take the water,
diving cleanly, like a boy, from
the end of the little pier; and
he watched her strike out with
single overhand stroke, her henchmen
swimming a dozen feet on either
side. He did not have much faith
in their ability to beat off
a hungry man-eater, though he
did believe, implicitly, that
their lives would go bravely
before hers in case of an attack.
Straight out they swam, their
heads growing smaller and smaller.
There was a slight, restless
heave to the sea, and soon the
three heads were disappearing
behind it with greater frequency.
He strained his eyes to keep
them in sight, and finally fetched
the telescope on to the veranda.
A squall was making over from
the direction of Florida; but
then, she and her men laughed
at squalls and the white choppy
sea at such times. She certainly
could swim, he had long since
concluded. That came of her training
in Hawaii. But sharks were sharks,
and he had known of more than
one good swimmer drowned in a
The squall blackened the sky,
beat the ocean white where he
had last seen the three heads,
and then blotted out sea and
sky and everything with its deluge
of rain. It passed on, and Berande
emerged in the bright sunshine
as the three swimmers emerged
from the sea. Sheldon slipped
inside with the telescope, and
through the screen-door watched
her run up the path, shaking
down her hair as she ran, to
the fresh-water shower under
On the veranda that afternoon
he broached the proposition of
a chaperone as delicately as
he could, explaining the necessity
at Berande for such a body, a
housekeeper to run the boys and
the storeroom, and perform divers
other useful functions. When
he had finished, he waited anxiously
for what Joan would say.
"Then you don't like the way
I've been managing the house?" was
her first objection. And next,
brushing his attempted explanations
aside, "One of two things would
happen. Either I should cancel
our partnership agreement and
go away, leaving you to get another
chaperone to chaperone your chaperone;
or else I'd take the old hen
out in the whale-boat and drown
her. Do you imagine for one moment
that I sailed my schooner down
here to this raw edge of the
earth in order to put myself
under a chaperone?"
"But really . . . er . . .
you know a chaperone is a necessary
evil," he objected.
along very nicely so far without
one. Did I have
one on the Miele? And yet I was
the only woman on board. There
are only three things I am afraid
of--bumble-bees, scarlet fever,
and chaperones. Ugh! the clucking,
evil-minded monsters, finding
wrong in everything, seeing sin
in the most innocent actions,
and suggesting sin--yes, causing
sin--by their diseased imaginings."
leaned back from the table
in mock fear.
"You needn't worry about your
bread and butter," he ventured. "If
you fail at planting, you would
be sure to succeed as a writer--
novels with a purpose, you know."
"I didn't think there were
persons in the Solomons who needed
such books," she retaliated. "But
you are certainly one--you and
your custodians of virtue."
He winced, but Joan rattled
on with the platitudinous originality
"As if anything
good were worth while when
it has to be guarded
and put in leg-irons and handcuffs
in order to keep it good. Your
desire for a chaperone as much
as implies that I am that sort
of creature. I prefer to be good
because it is good to be good,
rather than because I can't be
bad because some argus-eyed old
frump won't let me have a chance
to be bad."
"But it--it is not that," he
put in. "It is what others will
"Let them think,
the nasty-minded wretches!
It is because men like
you are afraid of the nasty-minded
that you allow their opinions
to rule you."
"I am afraid you are a female
Shelley," he replied; "and as
such, you really drive me to
become your partner in order
to protect you."
"If you take
me as a partner in order to
protect me . . .
I . . . I shan't be your partner,
that's all. You'll drive me into
buying Pari-Sulay yet."
"All the more reason--" he
"Do you know what I'll do?" she
demanded. "I'll find some man
in the Solomons who won't want
to protect me."
Sheldon could not conceal the
shock her words gave him.
"You don't mean that, you know," he
"I do; I really
do. I am sick and tired of
dodge. Don't forget for a moment
that I am perfectly able to take
care of myself. Besides, I have
eight of the best protectors
in the world- -my sailors."
"You should have lived a thousand
years ago," he laughed, "or a
thousand years hence. You are
very primitive, and equally super-
modern. The twentieth century
is no place for you."
"But the Solomon
Islands are. You were living
like a savage
when I came along and found you--eating
nothing but tinned meat and scones
that would have ruined the digestion
of a camel. Anyway, I've remedied
that; and since we are to be
partners, it will stay remedied.
You won't die of malnutrition,
be sure of that."
"If we enter into partnership," he
announced, "it must be thoroughly
understood that you are not allowed
to run the schooner. You can
go down to Sydney and buy her,
but a skipper we must have-- "
"At so much
additional expense, and most
likely a whisky-drinking,
irresponsible, and incapable
man to boot. Besides, I'd have
the business more at heart than
any man we could hire. As for
capability, I tell you I can
sail all around the average broken
captain or promoted able seaman
you find in the South Seas. And
you know I am a navigator."
"But being my partner," he
said coolly, "makes you none
the less a lady."
for telling me that my contemplated
conduct is unladylike."
She arose, tears of anger and
mortification in her eyes, and
went over to the phonograph.
"I wonder if all men are as
ridiculous as you?" she said.
He shrugged his shoulders and
smiled. Discussion was useless--he
had learned that; and he was
resolved to keep his temper.
And before the day was out she
capitulated. She was to go to
Sydney on the first steamer,
purchase the schooner, and sail
back with an island skipper on
board. And then she inveigled
Sheldon into agreeing that she
could take occasional cruises
in the islands, though he was
adamant when it came to a recruiting
trip on Malaita. That was the
one thing barred.
And after it was all over,
and a terse and business-like
agreement (by her urging) drawn
up and signed, Sheldon paced
up and down for a full hour,
meditating upon how many different
kinds of a fool he had made of
himself. It was an impossible
situation, and yet no more impossible
than the previous one, and no
more impossible than the one
that would have obtained had
she gone off on her own and bought
Pari-Sulay. He had never seen
a more independent woman who
stood more in need of a protector
than this boy-minded girl who
had landed on his beach with
eight picturesque savages, a
long- barrelled revolver, a bag
of gold, and a gaudy merchandise
of imagined romance and adventure.
He had never read of anything
to compare with it. The fictionists,
as usual, were exceeded by fact.
The whole thing was too preposterous
to be true. He gnawed his moustache
and smoked cigarette after cigarette.
Satan, back from a prowl around
the compound, ran up to him and
touched his hand with a cold,
damp nose. Sheldon caressed the
animal's ears, then threw himself
into a chair and laughed heartily.
What would the Commissioner of
the Solomons think? What would
his people at home think? And
in the one breath he was glad
that the partnership had been
effected and sorry that Joan
Lackland had ever come to the
Solomons. Then he went inside
and looked at himself in a hand-mirror.
He studied the reflection long
and thoughtfully and wonderingly.