THE OCEAN TRAMPS
III. Way of a Maid With a Man
H. deVERE STACPOOLE
HAVE you ever tried to manage a South Sea canoe, a thing not much wider than a skiff, with mast and sail out of all proportion to the beam, yet made possible because of the outrigger?
The outrigger, a long skate-shaped piece of wood, is supposed to stabilize the affair; it is always fixed to port and is connected to the canoe proper in two chief ways, either by a pole fore and aft or by a central bridge of six curved lengths of wood to which the mast stays are fixed; there are subsidiary forms with three outrigger poles, with two outrigger poles and a bridge, but it was in a canoe of the pure bridge type that Bud David and William Harman found themselves
afloat in the Pacific, making west with an unreliable compass, a dozen and a half drinking nuts, a beaker of water and food for a fortnight. They had been shot out of a
lagoon by the rightful owner and robbed of two e handfuls of pearls which they had collected in his ce. Given the offer of a canoe to go to the devil in nest work at two dollars a day with board and ig free, they had chosen the canoe. ty could work; they had worked like beavers for hs and months collecting those pearls, but they i't going to work for wages. "No,sir,"said Harman, t't come down to that yet. Billy Harman’s done ' on to be sweated like a gun mule and hove in the - when he’s old bones; the beach is good ehough for f it comes to bed-rock. He aint workin’ for others.” ¡ad certainly come to bed-rock this glorious morning, two out and steering into the face purple west, the great sun behind them just risen and leaning his chin on the sea line.
Harman was at the steering paddle. Davis forward; they' had breakfasted on cold water and bananas, and Harman was explaining to Davis exactly the sort of fools they had been, not in refusing work and good grub and pay, but in having failed to scrag Mandelbaum, the pearl man.
"Oh. shut up.’’ said Davis,
“you’re always going back on things and you haven’t it in y'ou to scrag a chicken, anyhow; always serving out that parson’s dope about it not paying to run crooked."
"Nor it don’t,” said the moralist.
“There ain’t enough mugs in the world as I’ve told you more than twice. I don’t say' there ain’t enough, but they’re too spread about. Now if you could get them all congeriated into one place, I wouldn't be behind you in waltzing in with a clear conscience an’ takin’ their hides—but there ain’t such a place—'Nother thing that queers the pitch is the way sharps let on to be mugs. Look at Clay ton.”
"What about Clayton?”
“Well, look at him. In we sails to that pearl shop and there we finds him on the beach. Looked like the king of the mug3, didn’t he, with his big round face and them bluegooseberry eyes. ‘Here’s a sealed lagoon for you,’ says he, ‘I’m done with it, got all the pearls I want and am only wishful to get away; take it for nix, I only want your ship in exchange.’ and we fall to the deal and off he goes.
“We didn’t know he’d sailed off with ail his pardner’s pearls, did we?
And when his pardner Mandelbaum turns up and collars our takin’s. and kicks us out in this durned canoe after we’d been workin’ months and months, our pitch wasn’t queered—wasn’t it? And all by a sharp got up to look like a sucker and be d—d to him. Well,
I hopes he’ll fry in blazes if he ain’t drowned before he cashes them pearls. I ain’t given to cursin’ but I could curse a hole in this dished canoe when I thinks of the hand we give him by tailin’ into his trap and the trick he served U3 by settin’ it.”
“Mivd!" yelled Davis.
Harman, in his mental upset had neglected his steering and the canoe paying off before the wind nearly flogged the mast out as Davis let go the sheet.
There are two sure ways of capsizing a South-Sea canoe—letting the outrigger run under too deep and letting it tip into the air. They nearly upset her both ways before matters were righted, then pursuing again the path of the flying fish the little canoe retook the wind, tepid and sea-scented and blowing out of the blue north-west.
AN HOUR after sunrise next morning Davis on the ■ look-out, saw a golden point in the sky away to the south of west. It was the cloud turban of Motul. A moment later Harman saw it too.
“Lord! it’s a high island,” cried he. “I thought there was nuthin’ but low islands in these parts. Where have we been driftin’ to?”
“I don’t know,” replied Davies. “Mind your steering;
it’s land, that’s all I want.”
“Oh, I ain’t grumblin’,” said Harman. He got her a point closer to the wind and steered, keeping the far-off speck on the port bow. The breeze freshened and the stays of the mast, fastened to the outrigger grating, twanged whilst the spray came in-board now and then in dashes from the humps of the swell, yet not a white cap was to be seen in all the vast expanse of water, the great sea running with a heave in the line of Humboldts current from south to north, but without a foam gout to break the ruffled blue.
At noon Motul had lost its turban of cloud, but now it stood clear on the blue, able to speak for itself and requiring no adventitious aid to attract the eye of mariner, a great lumping island moulded out of mountains, scarred with gulleys down which burst forests and rainbow falls, for Motul was green with the recent rains and its perfume met them ten miles across the sea.
There seemed no encircling reef, just a line of reef here and there beyond which lay topaz and aquamarine sheets of water bathing the feet of the great black cliffs of Motul.
“Ain’t a place I’d choose for a lee shore,” said Harman, “but this canoe don’t draw more than a pie-dish and I reckon we can get her in most anywhere across the reefs. Question is where do them cliffs break?”
They kept a bit more to the south and there sure enough was the big break where the cliffs seem smashed with an axe and where the deep water comes in, piercing the land so that you might anchor a battleship so close that the wild cliff hanging convolvulus could brush its track and fighting tops.
“We must make it before dark,” said Harman.
“Don’t matter,” said Davis.
It didn’t; although the moon had not risen, the stars lit Motul and the great dark harbour that pierces the land like a sword.
The breeze had almost fallen dead as they came in. Nothing but the sea spoke, breaking on the rocks and lipping up the cliffs where screw pines clung and the great convolvulus trumpets blew in the silver light.
Then as they stole across the water of the harbour, the dying breeze laying glittering fans before them, they saw right ahead on the shore where the great cliffs drew away, lights twinkling and dancing like fireflies, lights standing and moveless, lights crawling like glowworms. It was Amaho, the chief village of Motul, and the lights were the lights of the houses, the fish spearers, the lovers and the wayfarers of the chief town of Paradise.
FOR Motul is Paradise in all things that relate to the senses of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch, and its people are part of their environment. Here there are no ugly women and few1 old people; here bathing is perpetual as summer, and summer is never oppressive; here everything grows that is of any use in the tropics.
The pineapples of Motul are as white inside as sawn deal, yet you can almost eat them with a spoon, and their flavour beats that of the Brazilian pineapple, the English hothouse and the pine of Bourbon; they have fig bananas with a delicate golden stripe unobtainable elsewhere, and passion fruit with a vanilla flavour only to be found at Motul. Also there are girls.
Harman and his companion, faced with the lights of the town, determined not to land till morning. They dropped their stone killick in six fathom water, ate the last of their bananas, turned on their sides and went asleep to be awakened by the dawn, a dawn of many colours standing against the far
horizon on a carpet of rose and fire. Then, all of a smdden, tripping across the sea she pulled up a curtain and the sun hit Amaho, the bay, the beach, and the anchored canoes, including the stranger canoe that had arrived during the night.
“Look,” said Harman, “they’ve spotted us.” He pointed to the beach where a crowd was gathering, a crowd with faces all turned seaward. Children were running along the sands calling their elders out of houses to come and look, and now heads of swimmers began to dot the water and girls with flowers in their dark hair came towards the canoe swimming with the effortless ease of fish; girls, young men, and boys, the whole population of Amaho, seemed to have taken to the sea and with them Davis held converse in broken beche de mer, whilst Harman gloomily considered the “skirts.”
I think Harman’s dislike of womenfolk had less to do with misogyny pure and simple, than with a feeling born from experience, that women tend to crab deals and interfere with the progress of prosperity, just as it is coming along to you by devious, not to say crooked paths.
There was nothing in the way of any possible deal looming before them this morning. All the same the ingenuous Harman did not relax or unbend in the least before this vision of friendly mermaids, one of whom was grasping the starboard gunnel with a wet hand whilst another, to port, was engaged in putting a leg over the outrigger.
“They’re a friendly lot,” said Davis over his shoulder to the other. “Ain’t much to be done here as fár as I can see, no shell nor turtle, and they’re too lazy to make copra, but it’s a good place to rest in and refit.”
“It’ll be a good place to drown in if that piece don’t get off the outrigger,” said Harman.
“Well, what’s your opinion? Shall we shove her in?”
“Ay, shove her in,” said Davis, and getting up the anchor, they took to the paddles making for the beach with an escort of swimmers ahead to port, to starboard and astern.
TT WAS the girl on the outrigger that did the business, -*■ a wild-eyed elfish-looking yet beautiful individual divorced from the humdrum civilized scheme of thipgs as Pan or Puck. She only wanted horns and a little fur trimming or a small addition of wings to have done for either.
As it was, she nearly did for Mr. Harman. In some miraculous way an affinity exhibited itself between these two; an attraction drew one towards the other so that at the end of a week if you had seen Billy anywhere about by himself, sitting on the beach or lying in the shade of the trees, you would ten to one have found Kinie, that was her name, not far off.
She had attached herself like a dog to the man, and Billy after a while and towards the end of the first week, found himself drifting far from his old moorings.
He and Davis had built themselves a house in fortyeight hours and food was on every hand, they had no cares or worries, no taxes, eternal summer and the best fishing south of California, bathing, boating, yet they were not happy; at least Davis was not. It seemed to him that there was nothing to be done there. He would have felt the same maybe if he had suddenly been transported to Heaven.
Civilization, like savagery, breeds hunters and your hunter is not happy when he is idle; there was nothing to be shot at here in the way of money, so Davis was not happy. Harman, dead to the beauty around him, might have shared the discontent of the other, only for Kinie. She gave him something to think about.
Drowsing one day under a Jack fruit tree, a squashy fruit like a custard apple fell on his head, and looking up, he saw Kinie among the leaves looking down at him. Next moment she was gone. Jack fruit trees don’t grow apples like that, she must have carried it there to drop it on him, a fact which having bored itself into Mr. Harman’s intelligence, produced a certain complacency. He had been in her thoughts. An hour or two later, sitting by the edge of the beach, she came and sat near him, dumb with admiration and engaged in stringing colored pieces of coral together—anything coloured on string seemed to fascinate her—and there they sat saying nothing, but seemingly content till
Davis hove in sight and Kinie, gathering up her treasures, scampered off.
“You and that gal seem mighty thick,” said Davis. “Blest if you aren’t a contradiction, always grumbling about petticoats and saying they bring you bad luck, and set you ashore—and look at you.”
“I give you to understand, Bud Davis, I won’t be called no names, not by no man,” replied the other, “It ain’t my fault if the girl comes round, and there ain’t no harm in her cornin’.”
“Well, you’ve picked the prettiest of the lot, anyhow,”
said Davis. “Don’t go telling me, girls are girls and men are men—but we’ll leave it there, it’s no affair of mine—I’m not grumbling.”
On he walked leaving the outraged Harman on the sands, speechless because unable to explain, unable to explain even to himself the something between himself and the wildly beautiful, charming yet not quite there Kinie.
The fascination he exercised upon her would have been even more difficult to explain. Davis was younger and better looking, Davis had made advances to her which Harman had never done, yet she avoided Davis, never dropped custard apples on his head or sat by him stringing bits of coral or followed him at a distance through the woods.
Nor did she ever try to steal Davis’s pocket handkerchief.
Harman possessed a blazing parti-coloured bandana handkerchief. It was silk and had cost him half a dollar at Mixon’s at the foot of Third Street which adjoins Long Wharf. It was his main possession, he used it not as handkerchiefs are used, but as an adjunct to conversation as your old French Marquis used his snuff box. Stumped for words or in perplexity, out would come the handkerchief to be mopped across his brow. Kinie from the first had been fascinated by this handkerchief. She wanted it. One day he lost it, and an hour later she flashed across his vision with it bound around her head; he chased her, recaptured it, reduced her to sulks for twenty-four hours, and a few days later she boldly tried to steal it again. Then she seemed to forget all about it—but do women ever forget?
/"\NE morning some two months after they had landed, Davis coming out of the house found the beach in turmoil, girls were shading their eyes towards the sea and young fellows getting canoes in order for launching whilst children raced along the sands screaming the news or stood fascinated like the girls, and like them gazing far to sea.
A ship had been sighted, and there she was on the far-rippled blue, the tepid wind blowing her to life and growth, the sun lighting her sails and turning them to a single triangular pearl.
Nothing could be more beautiful than the far ship on the far sea with the near sea all broken to flashing sapphire, the whole picture framed between the verdurous cliffs of the harbour entrance and lit by the entrancing light of morning.
But Davis had no eye for the beauty of the picture; he turned, ran back to thê house and fetched out Harman.
“Fore and aft rig, maybe a hundred an’ fifty ton, maybe a bit less,” said Harman, “makin’ dead for
the beach. Say, Bud, we been fools; here’s a ship and never a plan to meet her with, nor a story to tell her.” “Well, what’s the odds?” said Davis. “We’re shipwrecked, or if you like it better, we skipped from a whaler—what are you bothering about? We’ve nothing to hide, only the Douro, and we’ve got rid of her. You’ve never thought of that, B.H. You’ve always been going on about Clayton getting the better of us by skipping off with those pearls in exchange for the Douro-, hasn’t it ever got into your thick head that since we as good as stole the hooker, he did us a good turn by taking her. There’s not a port he could bring her into without being had and I’ll bet my back teeth he’s jugged by this, him and his pearls.”
“If he is,” said Harman, “I’ll never say a word against the law again.”
Then they hung silent and the ship grew. The wind held steady, then it faded, great smoke blue spaces shewing on the sea; then it freshened, blowing from a new quarter and the stranger shifting her helm payed off on the starboard tack. She shewed now to be ketch rigged.
“I’ve always been agin’ the law,” went on Mr. Harman, “but if the law puts that blighter in chokee, I’ll take the first lawyer I meet by the fist. I will so—I’ll say to him, you’re a man an’ brother, law or no law—•”
“Oh, damn the law,” cried Davis, whose face had turned purple, and whose eyes were straining at the ship. “Look at her, can’t you see what she is —she’s tbe Douro!”
Harman’s hand flew up to shade his eyes, he stood for twenty seconds, then he gave a whoop and made'as if to run to the sea edge where the canoes were preparing to put out.
Davis caught him by the arm and pulled him back. “Who are you holdin’?” cried Harman. “Let me get at the blighter. Leave me loose or I’ll give you the bashin’ I have in me fist for him. Leave me loose, you--”
BUT Davis, undaunted and deaf to all protests, drove him steadily back amongst the trees and then made him sit down to hear reason.
“That chap would wipe the deck with you,” said Davis. “There’s more ways of killing a dog than by kicking him. What we’ve got to do is lay low and wait our chance, get him ashore off his ship and leave the rest to me.”
“Well, if I can get my fists on him, that’s all I want,” said Harman. “I don’t want more than that.”
“I do,” replied the other. “I want those pearls—nowskip down to the house and fetch up all the grub you can find; we’ve got to keep hid till things develop; that’s our strong point, him not knowing w-e’re here.
“And do you mean to say the Kanakas -won't tell him?” asked Harman.
“Well, suppose they do, suppose they say there are two white men on the island, how’s he to know it’s us? The Kanakas don’t knowour names or what we’ve come from. Now skip.”
Harman went off and returned laden. They made their camp under an aoa by a spring, covering the food over with bread fruit leaves to keep the robber crabs from getting at it, then they settled themselves dow-n to w-atch and listen.
They heard the anchor go dow-n and Harman w-ho climbed the aoa to a point w-here a view of the harbour could be glimpsed betw-een the leaves, reported that the "Douro” w-as at anchor tw-o cable lengths from the shore and sw-inging to the tide, that the canoes w-ere all round her and that a chap in white was leaning over her rail.
“Looks like Clayton,” said he, “nowhe’s left the rail, and they’re swinging out a boat. He’s cornin’ ashore. Now he’s in the boat; yes, that’s him sure enough, know him anywhere by the way he carries himself, crawled over into the boat like a cat, he did. Yes, it’s him, I can see his face now, all but his b’iled gooseberry eyes. Cornin’ ashore, are you? Well, I’ll be there to meet you.”
He came swarming dow-n only to be received into the arms of Davis, that is to say Reason.
“Coming on for night I don’t say no,” said Davis. “We may be able to take the ship and get out w-ith her, but there’s no use in a free fight on the beach in the broad light of day w-ith all his boat crew to back him. I’ve got an idea, it’s coming into my head bit by bit.
and it's this, the crew know us if they aro the same.” "Well, they ought to since we captained them once,” «aid Harman. "But what about it?”
“Just this, you know what Kanakas are. If we can knock Clayton on the head sudden to-night and get off without too much fuss, we've only got to step on board and drop the anchor chain and put out. The Kanakas won’t object. Seeing us come on board again and taking over the ship, they’ll think it’s all in the day’s work and done by arrangement with Clayton.” "That ain’t a bad idea if we can do it.” said Harman, ,‘we’tl have to scrag him so that he don’t squeal and do it without rittin’ him out for a mortuary. 1 ain’t a particular man but I’ve an objection to corpses.”
"Oh, rot,” said Davis, "you’ve got to stow that bilge if you want to make out in this business. You’ll be going about next with flowers in your hair like those [ Kanaka girls. I ain’t going to hit to kill; if 1 get hanee of hitting at alt. I’m going to put him to
t~'L~" I! h~ \%.L~~~S th~' v~r1d vi11 rs~ ` hats t hat
IT WAS Kinie. Her face shewed peeping at them through the branches which her little brown hands were holding back.
"Scat!’' cried Harman, shaken out of all other conaiderations but the thought that she had discovered their whereabouts and might give them away. “Off with you and back to the village—-and if you let a word out of you—”
Before he coutd finish, the branches swayed and Kin;* was gone.
"After her.” cried Davis, "get hold of her and tell her to spy on the chap, and give us news of what’s going on. Hump yourself. You can get her to do it.” Harman, getting on his feet, started off in pursuit, and Davis found himself alone. He could hear the wash of the beach and the far-off voices of the village and as he sat putting things together in his mind, the main question that kept recurring was whether Clayton would put out after taking on fruit and water, or whether he would stay.
After that came the question of the pearls. It was six months now since the day he sailed from the atoll, and he was still tinkering about amongst the lesser islands; what had he done with the pearls?
He had evidently been to no port of importance where he might have sold them, and if there was reason in anything, there was reason in the supposition that they were on board the Douro.
Davis chuckled to himself at the thought. The thing was so simple.
Once Clayton was put out of count nothing could be easier than to row off. seize the ketch and put out with her. The Kanaka crew knew both him and his companion.
Davis chuckled at the thought that these same Kanakas had been through the same process before when he and Harman had “nicked” the A ray a.
"And I bet you,” he said to himself as he lay listening to the sounds of the beach and village,
“I bet you they don’t know they’ve been as good as stolen twice, or that me and Billy aren’t part owners in the show turning up now and then to take command and give the other chaps a rest.”
He chuckled at the thought and then Harman came back through the trees, having interviewed Kinie.
The wayward one had shewn surprising grip of the situation and readiness to assist. Yes, she would watch the white man with the red face and find out whether he was taking water on board that day and if not how long he was likely to stay; promising this she had
"And she’ll do it,” said Harman.
They had some food and smoked &r.d drowsed in the warm dark hot-h ruse atmosphere of the woods
Then somewhere about two o’clock the branches parted and the charming sprite-like face of the girl looked in upon their slumbers.
SHE had brought news. The big canoe was not taking water that day nor fruit. It might stay many days, also the big man had been bidden to a banquet by the village and the feast was to take place on the edge of dark. They were preparing the palm toddy now and killing chickens and two pigs. Listen! She held up a finger and they could hear the far-off clucking of chickens being chased only to be choked. The pigs, clubbed senseless, had uttered no complaint. Then the branches swayed and she was gone.
"This is good,” said Davis. “That chap is sure to get drunk on the palm toddy and so we’ll be saved the bother of knocking him out.”
"Seems like Providence, don’t it?” said Mr. Harman. “If you tell me there ain’t such a thing, I tell you that there is—flat. Look at us, brought here and landed as careful as baskets of eggs, and look at Clayton sent after us to be skinned. Ain’t that Providence?”
“Oh, close up,” said Davis, “you get arguing when a chap ought to be thinking, wait till he is skinned before you talk of Providence. We haven’t got the hide yet.”
"No, but we will,” replied the other, settling himself for a snooze.
Towards dark, awakened by Davis, he went off through the trees to prospect.
Then blackness came as if turned on with a switch, blackness that gradually died to starlight as the eyes grew accustomed to the change. Starlight that filled the woods with the eeriest forms made of foliage and shadow, whilst here and there stars and constellations hung themselves amidst the branches—the Cross in a tamarisk tree and Canopus on the top bough of a screw pine.
To Davis watching and meditating suddenly appeared Harman breathless.
“We’re dished,” cried the latter, “dished lovely. The Douro crowd are ashore down to the ship’s cat and they’re all stuffin’ themselves and fillin’ up with the drink.”
“Haven’t they left an anchor watch on her?”
“Devil a one,” said Harman. “She’s watching herself. Well, what do you say to that?”
Davis said nothing for a moment.
It was impossible to take the ketch away without the crew. Of course, he and Harman could have taken her out, but he knew better than ever to dream of facing the Pacific in a vessel of that tonnage with only another pair of hands to help him. He had been through the experience years ago; he knew what it was for two men to take on a ten-man job. No, the canoe was better than that—infinitely.
“Billy,” said he suddenly, “buck up, we aren’t done. Can’t you see, the chap is so certain sure there’s no one here to harm or meddle with him, he’s let all his crew come ashore. Well as sure as he’s done that he’s left the pearls on board.”
Harman fell to the idea at once.
“You mean us to skip in the canoe with them?”
“Yep,” said the other.
Harman considered for a while in silence, whilst the sounds of the festival on the beach came on the new risen wind from the sea.
He had sworn never to enter a canoe again, the prospect was hateful, yet there was one bright spot in it, a spot as big as a sun: Clayton’s face on waking next morning to find the pearls gone.
He sprang to his feet.
“Kim on,” said he, “we’ve gotta get water, grub and nuts aboard her. The beaker’s lying back of the house. I’ll attend to the water, you bring this stuff down and c’llect all you can from the houses, b’nanas and such like, hump yourself.”
' I 'HEIR canoe lay on the beach to the right of the village. It was fit and seaworthy for the very good reason that the native boys had been using it for sailing and fishing and when Davis came on to the beach he found Harman stowing the water beaker, the only figure visible, for the whole village was congregated where the great feast was going on on the break amidst the trees.
They reckoned Clermont Tonnerre, the Eastern outlier of the Paumotas, to be only some two hundred mile.s to the north west, but they were running no risks. They wanted food for a fortnight and they took it, took it from the deserted houses and from the trees where the pandanus drupes hung in the starlight and the great banana clusters stood like golden candelabra waiting to be lit.
Then they pushed off and the harbour took them and the night against which stood the Douro swinging to the out-going tide on a taut anchor chain.
The ladder was down and as they came alongside, Harman, who was to commit the burglary, clutched it, sprang on deck and lowering the anchor light vanished with it down the cabin companion way.
Davis, with his hand on the ladder and rocked by the almost imperceptible swell, contemplated the night and the far beach. He could see the glow of the fire amidst the trees and now just as the moon rose above the sea line sending its silver across the harbour, his keen eye caught a form moving amongst the beached canoes. A moment later something ruffled the water—a canoe had put off. He saw the flash of a paddle, and for a second the idea that Clayton had sensed danger and was on the pounce crossed his mind, only to be instantly dismissed. It was Kinie. He knew it instinctively and at once. Kinie who never drank palm toddy and who looked as though her food was mushrooms and moonbeams had
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discovered their canoe gone. Very likely had been watching them getting it away and was coming out to prospect.
At that moment the light reappeared on deck and Harman at the rail.
“Bud,’ cried Harman, “she’s bustin’ with trade, cabin full, and I’ll bet the hold’s full to the hatches. That blighter must have been peddlin’ his pearls for trade goods, but I’ve got the balance, a dozen big uns. I broke his locker open and there they were, got ’em in me pocket. Steady the blistered canoe while I get in.”
He dropped into the canoe, and they pushed off. Then he sighted Kinie who was coming up fast, so close now that the water drops shewed flashing from her paddle.
“It’s that girl,” said Davis, “confound her, we only wanted this to kibosh us. I swear by the big horn spoon I’ll flatten her out with a paddle if she squeals or gives the show away. I will, b’gosh.”
BUT Kinie shewed no signs of any desire to give the show away. She manoeuvred her canoe so that it came gently beside theirs, stern towards stern, so that her outrigger did not prevent her from clasping their gunnel. Kinie. had come to say good-bye. She had watched their provisioning without knowing exactly why they were doing so; then they had put off and she had recognized that they were leaving for good.
Seeing them hanging on to the ship she had taken heart and put off herself and now, patting Harman on the shoulder with her little hand, she was looking at him with the eyes of a dog. He, slipping one huge arm round her, kissed her and put her back in her canoe, with a whispered warning that she should be a good girl and get back to the shore quick.
“Aroya manu, Kinie—we’re off—we’re goin’ away—see you again maybe, soon. There, don’t be holdin’ me—well you’re askin’ for it.”
“Oh, close up or you’ll be capsizing the canoe,” cried Davis. “Shove her off —Now paddle for all you’re worth. Mind! the outrigger is lifting.”
The canoes parted and the moonlit waving water came between them like a river, then driven by tide and paddle, they passed the shadows of the cliffs at
the harbour mouth and Harman looking back saw the glow of the festival fire like a topaz beyond the silver-satin of the harbour water and against the glow the canoe of Kinie making for the shore.
Outside they ran up the sail whilst astern Motul with its hills and dark forests lay like a cloud on the water visible all night, dwindling to a speck in the dawn, destroyed utterly by the sun as he rose beyond it flooding the sea with fire.
“Well, here’s another blessed day,” said Harman, as he took his trick with the steering paddle, “and that chap will be wakin’ just now with a palm toddy head on him to find we’ve done him, but he won’t, never know it’s us, worse luck. Anyhow he’ll have his headache. There ain’t nothin’ to beat a palm toddy head unless maybe samshu, but, samshu or palm toddy, drink don’t pay, nor Bourbon, nor Champagne—it don’t pay. I’m not sayin’ if a chap could get drunk and stay drunk I wouldn’t be the first to jine in, but it’s the wakin’ up—Oh, d—n petticoats!”
He had put his hand in his pocket for the handkerchief at that moment flaunting itself on Motul beach around the brows of its proud possessor.
“Mind your steering!” cried Davis. “What ails you? Mind your paddle or we’ll be over.”
“Me handkerchief’s gone,” cried the distracted Harman. “She’s took it. Twice she nicked it from me before, and I ought to ha’ known—she’ll have flung them away, for it’s only the rag she wanted—buzzed them into the harbour most like. They were tied in the corner of it and she’d ha’ thought them stones —ten thousand dollars’ worth of—”
“Pearls!” cried Davis, “you aren’t talking of the pearls!”
Towards sunset steering into the golden remote and unknown West, the dejected Harman breaking an all-day silence, perked up a bit and became almost cheerfully philosophic.
“The only good p’int about all this business,” said he, “the one bright p’int—•”
“Oh, shut up,” said Davis, “you and your p’ints.”
(The third adventure will appear in the next issue).