“But do you realize that I would be looked upon as the most foolish jackanapes in the South Seas if I took a young girl like you in with me here on Berande?” he asked.
“No; decidedly not. But there you are again, worrying about what idiots and the generally evil-minded will think of you. I should have thought you had learned self-reliance on Berande, instead of needing to lean upon the moral support of every whisky-guzzling worthless South Sea vagabond.”
He smiled, and said,—
“Yes, that is the worst of it. You are unanswerable. Yours is the logic of youth, and no man can answer that. The facts of life can, but they have no place in the logic of youth. Youth must try to live according to its logic. That is the only way to learn better.”
“There is no harm in trying?” she interjected.
“But there is. That is the very point. The facts always smash youth’s logic, and they usually smash youth’s heart, too. It’s like platonic friendships and . . . and all such things; they are all right in theory, but they won’t work in practice. I used to believe in such things once. That is why I am here in the Solomons at present.”
Joan was impatient. He saw that she could not understand. Life was too clearly simple to her. It was only the youth who was arguing with him, the youth with youth’s pure-minded and invincible reasoning. Hers was only the boy’s soul in a woman’s body. He looked at her flushed, eager face, at the great ropes of hair coiled on the small head, at the rounded lines of the figure showing plainly through the home-made gown, and at the eyes—boy’s eyes, under cool, level brows—and he wondered why a being that was so much beautiful woman should be no woman at all. Why in the deuce was she not carroty-haired, or cross-eyed, or hare-lipped?
“Suppose we do become partners on Berande,” he said, at the same time experiencing a feeling of fright at the prospect that was tangled with a contradictory feeling of charm, “either I’ll fall in love with you, or you with me. Propinquity is dangerous, you know. In fact, it is propinquity that usually gives the facer to the logic of youth.”
“If you think I came to the Solomons to get married—” she began wrathfully. “Well, there are better men in Hawaii, that’s all. Really, you know, the way you harp on that one string would lead an unprejudiced listener to conclude that you are prurient-minded—”
She stopped, appalled. His face had gone red and white with such abruptness as to startle her. He was patently very angry. She sipped the last of her coffee, and arose, saying,—
“I’ll wait until you are in a better temper before taking up the discussion again. That is what’s the matter with you. You get angry too easily. Will you come swimming? The tide is just right.”
“If she were a man I’d bundle her off the plantation root and crop, whale-boat, Tahitian sailors, sovereigns, and all,” he muttered to himself after she had left the room.