“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 crocodiles.”
“Jack Hanley was killed at Marovo Lagoon two months ago,” Young announced in his mild voice. “The news just came down on the Apostle.”
“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 Brothers’ plantation.”