“Yes, everybody speak me Joe along the Huahine. Utami my name all the time, just the same.”
“But what are you doing here?” Tudor asked, releasing the sailor’s hand and leaning eagerly forward.
“Me sail along Missie Lackalanna her schooner Miele. We go Tahiti, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora-Bora, Manua, Tutuila, Apia, Savaii, and Fiji Islands—plenty Fiji Islands. Me stop along Missie Lackalanna in Solomons. Very soon she catch other schooner.”
“He and I were the two survivors of the wreck of the Huahine,” Tudor explained to the others. “Fifty-seven all told on board when we sailed from Huapa, and Joe and I were the only two that ever set foot on land again. Hurricane, you know, in the Paumotus. That was when I was after pearls.”
“And you never told me, Utami, that you’d been wrecked in a hurricane,” Joan said reproachfully.
The big Tahitian shifted his weight and flashed his teeth in a conciliating smile.
“Me no t’ink nothing ’t all,” he said.
He half-turned, as if to depart, by his manner indicating that he considered it time to go while yet he desired to remain.
“All right, Utami,” Tudor said. “I’ll see you in the morning and have a yarn.”
“He saved my life, the beggar,” Tudor explained, as the Tahitian strode away and with heavy softness of foot went down the steps. “Swim! I never met a better swimmer.”
And thereat, solicited by Joan, Tudor narrated the wreck of the Huahine; while Sheldon smoked and pondered, and decided that whatever the man’s shortcomings were, he was at least not a liar.
The days passed, and Tudor seemed loath to leave the hospitality of Berande. Everything was ready for the start, but he lingered on, spending much time in Joan’s company and thereby increasing the dislike Sheldon had taken to him. He went swimming with her, in point of rashness exceeding her; and dynamited fish with her, diving among the hungry ground-sharks and contesting with them for possession of the stunned prey, until he earned the approval of the whole Tahitian crew. Arahu challenged him to tear a fish from a shark’s jaws, leaving half to the shark and bringing the other half himself to the surface; and Tudor performed the feat, a flip from the sandpaper hide of the astonished shark scraping several inches of skin from his shoulder. And Joan was delighted, while Sheldon, looking on, realized that here was the hero of her adventure-dreams coming true. She did not care for love, but he felt that if ever she did love it would be that sort of a man—“a man who exhibited,” was his way of putting it.