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At sunset a small ketch fanned in to anchorage, and a little later
the skipper came ashore. He was a soft-spoken, gentle-voiced young
fellow of twenty, but he won Joan's admiration in advance when
Sheldon told her that he ran the ketch all alone with a black crew
from Malaita. And Romance lured and beckoned before Joan's eyes
when she learned he was Christian Young, a Norfolk Islander, but a
direct descendant of John Young, one of the original Bounty
mutineers. The blended Tahitian and English blood showed in his
soft eyes and tawny skin; but the English hardness seemed to have
disappeared. Yet the hardness was there, and it was what enabled
him to run his ketch single-handed and to wring a livelihood out of
the fighting Solomons.
Joan's unexpected presence embarrassed him, until she herself put
him at his ease by a frank, comradely manner that offended
Sheldon's sense of the fitness of things feminine. News from the
world Young had not, but he was filled with news of the Solomons.
Fifteen boys had stolen rifles and run away into the bush from
Lunga plantation, which was farther east on the Guadalcanar coast.
And from the bush they had sent word that they were coming back to
wipe out the three white men in charge, while two of the three
white men, in turn, were hunting them through the bush. There was
a strong possibility, Young volunteered, that if they were not
caught they might circle around and tap the coast at Berande in
order to steal or capture a whale-boat.
"I forgot to tell you that your trader at Ugi has been murdered,"
he said to Sheldon. "Five big canoes came down from Port Adams.
They landed in the night-time, and caught Oscar asleep. What they
didn't steal they burned. The Flibberty-Gibbet got the news at
Mboli Pass, and ran down to Ugi. I was at Mboli when the news
"I think I'll have to abandon Ugi," Sheldon remarked.
"It's the second trader you've lost there in a year," Young
concurred. "To make it safe there ought to be two white men at
least. Those Malaita canoes are always raiding down that way, and
you know what that Port Adams lot is. I've got a dog for you.
Tommy Jones sent it up from Neal Island. He said he'd promised it
to you. It's a first-class nigger-chaser. Hadn't been on board
two minutes when he had my whole boat's-crew in the rigging. Tommy
calls him Satan."
"I've wondered several times why you had no dogs here," Joan said.
"The trouble is to keep them. They're always eaten by the
"Jack Hanley was killed at Marovo Lagoon two months ago," Young
announced in his mild voice. "The news just came down on the
"Where is Marovo Lagoon?" Joan asked.
"New Georgia, a couple of hundred miles to the westward," Sheldon
answered. "Bougainville lies just beyond."
"His own house-boys did it," Young went on; "but they were put up
to it by the Marovo natives. His Santa Cruz boat's-crew escaped in
the whale-boat to Choiseul, and Mather, in the Lily, sailed over to
Marovo. He burned a village, and got Hanley's head back. He found
it in one of the houses, where the niggers had it drying. And
that's all the news I've got, except that there's a lot of new Lee-
Enfields loose on the eastern end of Ysabel. Nobody knows how the
natives got them. The government ought to investigate. And--oh
yes, a war vessel's in the group, the Cambrian. She burned three
villages at Bina--on account of the Minota, you know--and shelled
the bush. Then she went to Sio to straighten out things there."
The conversation became general, and just before Young left to go
on board Joan asked, -
"How can you manage all alone, Mr. Young?"
His large, almost girlish eyes rested on her for a moment before he
replied, and then it was in the softest and gentlest of voices.
"Oh, I get along pretty well with them. Of course, there is a bit
of trouble once in a while, but that must be expected. You must
never let them think you are afraid. I've been afraid plenty of
times, but they never knew it."
"You would think he wouldn't strike a mosquito that was biting
him," Sheldon said when Young had gone on board. "All the Norfolk
Islanders that have descended from the Bounty crowd are that way.
But look at Young. Only three years ago, when he first got the
Minerva, he was lying in Suu, on Malaita. There are a lot of
returned Queenslanders there--a rough crowd. They planned to get
his head. The son of their chief, old One-Eyed Billy, had
recruited on Lunga and died of dysentery. That meant that a white
man's head was owing to Suu--any white man, it didn't matter who so
long as they got the head. And Young was only a lad, and they made
sure to get his easily. They decoyed his whale-boat ashore with a
promise of recruits, and killed all hands. At the same instant,
the Suu gang that was on board the Minerva jumped Young. He was
just preparing a dynamite stick for fish, and he lighted it and
tossed it in amongst them. One can't get him to talk about it, but
the fuse was short, the survivors leaped overboard, while he
slipped his anchor and got away. They've got one hundred fathoms
of shell money on his head now, which is worth one hundred pounds
sterling. Yet he goes into Suu regularly. He was there a short
time ago, returning thirty boys from Cape Marsh--that's the Fulcrum
"At any rate, his news to-night has given me a better insight into
the life down here," Joan said. "And it is colourful life, to say
the least. The Solomons ought to be printed red on the charts--and
yellow, too, for the diseases."
"The Solomons are not always like this," Sheldon answered. "Of
course, Berande is the worst plantation, and everything it gets is
the worst. I doubt if ever there was a worse run of sickness than
we were just getting over when you arrived. Just as luck would
have it, the Jessie caught the contagion as well. Berande has been
very unfortunate. All the old-timers shake their heads at it.
They say it has what you Americans call a hoodoo on it."
"Berande will succeed," Joan said stoutly. "I like to laugh at
superstition. You'll pull through and come out the big end of the
horn. The ill luck can't last for ever. I am afraid, though, the
Solomons is not a white man's climate."
"It will be, though. Give us fifty years, and when all the bush is
cleared off back to the mountains, fever will be stamped out;
everything will be far healthier. There will be cities and towns
here, for there's an immense amount of good land going to waste."
"But it will never become a white man's climate, in spite of all
that," Joan reiterated. "The white man will always be unable to
perform the manual labour."
"That is true."
"It will mean slavery," she dashed on.
"Yes, like all the tropics. The black, the brown, and the yellow
will have to do the work, managed by the white men. The black
labour is too wasteful, however, and in time Chinese or Indian
coolies will be imported. The planters are already considering the
matter. I, for one, am heartily sick of black labour."
"Then the blacks will die off?"
Sheldon shrugged his shoulders, and retorted, -
"Yes, like the North American Indian, who was a far nobler type
than the Melanesian. The world is only so large, you know, and it
is filling up--"
"And the unfit must perish?"
"Precisely so. The unfit must perish."
In the morning Joan was roused by a great row and hullabaloo. Her
first act was to reach for her revolver, but when she heard Noa
Noah, who was on guard, laughing outside, she knew there was no
danger, and went out to see the fun. Captain Young had landed
Satan at the moment when the bridge-building gang had started along
the beach. Satan was big and black, short-haired and muscular, and
weighed fully seventy pounds. He did not love the blacks. Tommy
Jones had trained him well, tying him up daily for several hours
and telling off one or two black boys at a time to tease him. So
Satan had it in for the whole black race, and the second after he
landed on the beach the bridge-building gang was stampeding over
the compound fence and swarming up the cocoanut palms.
"Good morning," Sheldon called from the veranda. "And what do you
think of the nigger-chaser?"
"I'm thinking we have a task before us to train him in to the
house-boys," she called back.
"And to your Tahitians, too. Look out, Noah! Run for it!"
Satan, having satisfied himself that the tree-perches were
unassailable, was charging straight for the big Tahitian.
But Noah stood his ground, though somewhat irresolutely, and Satan,
to every one's surprise, danced and frisked about him with laughing
eyes and wagging tail.
"Now, that is what I might call a proper dog," was Joan's comment.
"He is at least wiser than you, Mr. Sheldon. He didn't require any
teaching to recognize the difference between a Tahitian and a black
boy. What do you think, Noah? Why don't he bite you? He savvee
you Tahitian eh?"
Noa Noah shook his head and grinned.
"He no savvee me Tahitian," he explained. "He savvee me wear pants
all the same white man."
"You'll have to give him a course in 'Sartor Resartus,'" Sheldon
laughed, as he came down and began to make friends with Satan.
It chanced just then that Adamu Adam and Matauare, two of Joan's
sailors, entered the compound from the far side-gate. They had
been down to the Balesuna making an alligator trap, and, instead of
trousers, were clad in lava-lavas that flapped gracefully about
their stalwart limbs. Satan saw them, and advertised his find by
breaking away from Sheldon's hands and charging.
"No got pants," Noah announced with a grin that broadened as Adamu
Adam took to flight.
He climbed up the platform that supported the galvanized iron tanks
which held the water collected from the roof. Foiled here, Satan
turned and charged back on Matauare.
"Run, Matauare! Run!" Joan called.
But he held his ground and waited the dog.
"He is the Fearless One--that is what his name means," Joan
explained to Sheldon.
The Tahitian watched Satan coolly, and when that sanguine-mouthed
creature lifted into the air in the final leap, the man's hand shot
out. It was a fair grip on the lower jaw, and Satan described a
half circle and was flung to the rear, turning over in the air and
falling heavily on his back. Three times he leaped, and three
times that grip on his jaw flung him to defeat. Then he contented
himself with trotting at Matauare's heels, eyeing him and sniffing
"It's all right, Satan; it's all right," Sheldon assured him.
"That good fella belong along me."
But Satan dogged the Tahitian's movements for a full hour before he
made up his mind that the man was an appurtenance of the place.
Then he turned his attention to the three house-boys, cornering
Ornfiri in the kitchen and rushing him against the hot stove,
stripping the lava-lava from Lalaperu when that excited youth
climbed a veranda-post, and following Viaburi on top the billiard-
table, where the battle raged until Joan managed a rescue.
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