I move to the Annexe—Description of building—The baroness and her baby—Evoa and poia—The corals of the lagoon—The Chinese shrine—The Tahitian sky.
Lovaina suggested, since I liked to be about the lagoon, that I move to the Annexe, a rooming-house she owned and conducted as an adjunct to the Tiare. I moved there, and regretted that I had stayed so long in the animal-yard. And yet I should have missed knowing Lovaina intimately, the hour-to-hour incidents of her curious menage, the close contact with the girls and the guests, the El Dorado heroes, the Dummy, and others.
The Annexe fronted the lagoon. It was a two-story building, with broad verandas in front and rear, and stood back a few feet from the Broom Road. It had a very large garden behind, with tall cocoanut trees, and the finest rose-bushes in Tahiti. Vava, the Dummy, put all the sweepings from his stable on the flower beds, and Lovaina cut the roses for the tables at the Tiare Hotel and for presents to friends and prosperous tourists. Vava was often about the garden, and drove Lovaina to and fro in her old chaise.
When he brought me and my belongings from the Tiare, Lovaina came with us. She signed to him to go to the glacerie, the ice- and soda-water factory, to buy ice for the hotel. The Dummy was intensely jealous of new-comers whom Lovaina liked. He left on foot, but merely took a walk, and, returning, answered her question by opening his hands and shaking his head, conveying perfectly the statement that the glacerie had refused Lovaina credit because of her debt to it of two hundred francs, and that cash was demanded. He intimated that the proprietor had ridiculed her.
“That dam’ lie,” said Lovaina to him and to me,—she always supplemented her gestures to him with words,—and she made a sign that she had paid the bill. He uttered a choking sound of anger, accompanied by a dreadful grimace, and after a little while came back with a large piece of ice, which he placed in the carriage. Lovaina told him to break off a lump for my room. He became indignant, and in pantomime vividly described the suffering of guests at the Tiare with the ice exhausted, and Lovaina’s plight if she could sell no more drinks.
Lovaina persisted, and when I went to take the ice myself, he struck me with his horsewhip. Temanu, who had come with Lovaina, rushed out shrieking, and the Dummy, seeing his advantage, began to threaten all who came at the noise. Afa, a half-white, who lives in a cottage in the garden, and who alone could control him, slapped his face. The wretched mute sat down and wept bitterly until Lovaina rubbed his back, and informed him that he was again in her good graces. I, too, smiled upon him, and he became a happy child for a moment.