“Perhaps I have been hasty,” she admitted. “You see, I am intolerant of restraint. If you only knew how I have been compelled to fight for my freedom. It is a sore point with me, this being told what I am to do or not do by you self-constituted lords of creation.-Viaburi I You stop along kitchen. No bring ’m Noa Noah.—And now, Mr. Sheldon, what am I to do? You don’t want me here, and there doesn’t seem to be any place for me to go.”
“That is unfair. Your being wrecked here has been a godsend to me. I was very lonely and very sick. I really am not certain whether or not I should have pulled through had you not happened along. But that is not the point. Personally, purely selfishly personally, I should be sorry to see you go. But I am not considering myself. I am considering you. It—it is hardly the proper thing, you know. If I were married—if there were some woman of your own race here—but as it is—”
She threw up her hands in mock despair.
“I cannot follow you,” she said. “In one breath you tell me I must go, and in the next breath you tell me there is no place to go and that you will not permit me to go. What is a poor girl to do?”
“That’s the trouble,” he said helplessly.
“And the situation annoys you.”
“Only for your sake.”
“Then let me save your feelings by telling you that it does not annoy me at all—except for the row you are making about it. I never allow what can’t be changed to annoy me. There is no use in fighting the inevitable. Here is the situation. You are here. I am here. I can’t go elsewhere, by your own account. You certainly can’t go elsewhere and leave me here alone with a whole plantation and two hundred woolly cannibals on my hands. Therefore you stay, and I stay. It is very simple. Also, it is adventure. And furthermore, you needn’t worry for yourself. I am not matrimonially inclined. I came to the Solomons for a plantation, not a husband.”
Sheldon flushed, but remained silent.
“I know what you are thinking,” she laughed gaily. “That if I were a man you’d wring my neck for me. And I deserve it, too. I’m so sorry. I ought not to keep on hurting your feelings.”
“I’m afraid I rather invite it,” he said, relieved by the signs of the tempest subsiding.
“I have it,” she announced. “Lend me a gang of your boys for to-day. I’ll build a grass house for myself over in the far corner of the compound—on piles, of course. I can move in to-night. I’ll be comfortable and safe. The Tahitians can keep an anchor watch just as aboard ship. And then I’ll study cocoanut planting. In return, I’ll run the kitchen end of your household and give you some decent food to eat. And finally, I won’t listen to any of your protests. I know all that you are going to say and offer—your giving the bungalow up to me and building a grass house for yourself. And I won’t have it. You may as well consider everything settled. On the other hand, if you don’t agree, I will go across the river, beyond your jurisdiction, and build a village for myself and my sailors, whom I shall send in the whale-boat to Guvutu for provisions. And now I want you to teach me billiards.”