Tudor had always been a wanderer, and with facile wit and quick vivid description he leaped from episode and place to episode and place, relating his experiences seemingly not because they were his, but for the sake of their bizarreness and uniqueness, for the unusual incident or the laughable situation. He had gone through South American revolutions, been a Rough Rider in Cuba, a scout in South Africa, a war correspondent in the Russo-Japanese war. He had mushed dogs in the Klondike, washed gold from the sands of Nome, and edited a newspaper in San Francisco. The President of the United States was his friend. He was equally at home in the clubs of London and the Continent, the Grand Hotel at Yokohama, and the selector’s shanties in the Never-Never country. He had shot big game in Siam, pearled in the Paumotus, visited Tolstoy, seen the Passion Play, and crossed the Andes on mule-back; while he was a living directory of the fever holes of West Africa.
Sheldon leaned back in his chair on the veranda, sipping his coffee and listening. In spite of himself he felt touched by the charm of the man who had led so varied a life. And yet Sheldon was not comfortable. It seemed to him that the man addressed himself particularly to Joan. His words and smiles were directed impartially toward both of them, yet Sheldon was certain, had the two men of them been alone, that the conversation would have been along different lines. Tudor had seen the effect on Joan and deliberately continued the flow of reminiscence, netting her in the glamour of romance. Sheldon watched her rapt attention, listened to her spontaneous laughter, quick questions, and passing judgments, and felt grow within him the dawning consciousness that he loved her.
So he was very quiet and almost sad, though at times he was aware of a distinct irritation against his guest, and he even speculated as to what percentage of Tudor’s tale was true and how any of it could be proved or disproved. In this connection, as if the scene had been prepared by a clever playwright, Utami came upon the veranda to report to Joan the capture of a crocodile in the trap they had made for her.
Tudor’s face, illuminated by the match with which he was lighting his cigarette, caught Utami’s eye, and Utami forgot to report to his mistress.
“Hello, Tudor,” he said, with a familiarity that startled Sheldon.
The Polynesian’s hand went out, and Tudor, shaking it, was staring into his face.
“Who is it?” he asked. “I can’t see you.”
“And who the dickens is Utami? Where did I ever meet you, my man?”
“You no forget the Huahine?” Utami chided. “Last time Huahine sail?”
Tudor gripped the Tahitian’s hand a second time and shook it with genuine heartiness.
“There was only one kanaka who came out of the Huahine that last voyage, and that kanaka was Joe. The deuce take it, man, I’m glad to see you, though I never heard your new name before.”