“You pay me,” he said.
His eyes had the querulous, troubled look such as she had noticed in monkeys; but while he was patently uncomfortable under her scrutiny, his thick lips were drawn firmly in an effort at sullen determination.
“What for?” she asked.
“Me Gogoomy,” he said. “Bawo brother belong me.”
Bawo, she remembered, was the sick boy who had died.
“Go on,” she commanded.
“Bawo take ’m medicine. Bawo finish. Bawo my brother. You pay me. Father belong me one big fella chief along Port Adams. You pay me.”
“Gogoomy, you just the same as Aroa, one big fool. My word, who pay me for medicine?”
She dismissed the matter by passing through the gate and closing it. But Gogoomy pressed up against it and said impudently:
“Father belong me one big fella chief. You no bang ’m head belong me. My word, you fright too much.”
“Me fright?” she demanded, while anger tingled all through her.
“Too much fright bang ’m head belong me,” Gogoomy said proudly.
And then she reached for him across the gate and got him. It was a sweeping, broad-handed slap, so heavy that he staggered sideways and nearly fell. He sprang for the gate as if to force it open, while the crowd surged forward against the fence. Joan thought rapidly. Her revolver was hanging on the wall of her grass house. Yet one cry would bring her sailors, and she knew she was safe. So she did not cry for help. Instead, she whistled for Satan, at the same time calling him by name. She knew he was shut up in the living room, but the blacks did not wait to see. They fled with wild yells through the darkness, followed reluctantly by Gogoomy; while she entered the bungalow, laughing at first, but finally vexed to the verge of tears by what had taken place. She had sat up a whole night with the boy who had died, and yet his brother demanded to be paid for his life.
“Ugh! the ungrateful beast!” she muttered, while she debated whether or not she would confess the incident to Sheldon.
“And so it was all settled easily enough,” Sheldon was saying. He was on the veranda, drinking coffee. The whale-boat was being carried into its shed. “Boucher was a bit timid at first to carry off the situation with a strong hand, but he did very well once we got started. We made a play at holding a court, and Telepasse, the old scoundrel, accepted the findings. He’s a Port Adams chief, a filthy beggar. We fined him ten times the value of the pigs, and made him move on with his mob. Oh, they’re a sweet lot, I must say, at least sixty of them, in five big canoes, and out for trouble. They’ve got a dozen Sniders that ought to be confiscated.”
“Why didn’t you?” Joan asked.
“And have a row on my hands with the Commissioner? He’s terribly touchy about his black wards, as he calls them. Well, we started them along their way, though they went in on the beach to kai-kai several miles back. They ought to pass here some time to-day.”