“I suppose you will go back to Von, now?” Sheldon queried.
“Nothing of the sort. Dad planned to go to the Solomons. I shall look about for some land and start a small plantation. Do you know any good land around here? Cheap?”
“By George, you Yankees are remarkable, really remarkable,” said Sheldon. “I should never have dreamed of such a venture.”
“Adventure,” Joan corrected him.
“That’s right—adventure it is. And if you’d gone ashore on Malaita instead of Guadalcanar you’d have been kai-kai’d long ago, along with your noble Tahitian sailors.”
“To tell the truth,” she confessed, “we were very much afraid to land on Guadalcanar. I read in the ‘Sailing Directions’ that the natives were treacherous and hostile. Some day I should like to go to Malaita. Are there any plantations there?”
“Not one. Not a white trader even.”
“Then I shall go over on a recruiting vessel some time.”
“Impossible!” Sheldon cried. “It is no place for a woman.”
“I shall go just the same,” she repeated.
“But no self-respecting woman—”
“Be careful,” she warned him. “I shall go some day, and then you may be sorry for the names you have called me.”
It was the first time Sheldon had been at close quarters with an American girl, and he would have wondered if all American girls were like Joan Lackland had he not had wit enough to realize that she was not at all typical. Her quick mind and changing moods bewildered him, while her outlook on life was so different from what he conceived a woman’s outlook should be, that he was more often than not at sixes and sevens with her. He could never anticipate what she would say or do next. Of only one thing was he sure, and that was that whatever she said or did was bound to be unexpected and unsuspected. There seemed, too, something almost hysterical in her make-up. Her temper was quick and stormy, and she relied too much on herself and too little on him, which did not approximate at all to his ideal of woman’s conduct when a man was around. Her assumption of equality with him was disconcerting, and at times he half-consciously resented the impudence and bizarreness of her intrusion upon him—rising out of the sea in a howling nor’wester, fresh from poking her revolver under Ericson’s nose, protected by her gang of huge Polynesian sailors, and settling down in Berande like any shipwrecked sailor. It was all on a par with her Baden-Powell and the long 38 Colt’s.