Ula put the finger up to her own mouth, and sucked the wound gently. Her medicine stanched it. Then she took a thin leaf of the paper mulberry, soft, cool, and soothing, and bound it round the place with a strip of the lace-like inner bark, as deftly as any hospital nurse in London would have done it. These savage women are capital hands in sickness. Tu-Kila-Kila sat and sulked meanwhile, like a disappointed child. When Ula had finished, she nodded her head and glided softly away. She knew her chance of learning the secret was gone for the moment, and she had too much of the guile of the savage woman to spoil her chances by loitering about unnecessarily while her lord was in his present ungracious humor.
As she stole from the hut, Tu-Kila-Kila, looking ruefully at his wounded hand, and then at that light and supple retreating figure, muttered sulkily to himself, with a very bad grace, “the woman knows too much. She nearly wormed my secret out of me. She knows that Tu-Kila-Kila’s life and soul are bound up in the tree. She knows that I bled, and that the parrot bit me. If she blabs, as women will do, mischief may come of it. I am a great god, a very great god—keen, bloodthirsty, cruel. And I like that woman. But it would be wiser and safer, perhaps, after all, to forego my affection and to make a great feast of her.”
And Ula, looking back with a smile and a nod, and holding up her own bitten and bleeding hand with a farewell shake, as if to remind her divine husband of her promise to show it to Fire and Water, murmured low to herself as she went, “He is a very great god; a very great god, no doubt; but I hate him, I hate him! He would eat me to-morrow if I didn’t coax him and wheedle him and keep him in a good temper. You want to be sharp, indeed, to be the wife of a god. I got off to-day with the skin of my teeth. He might have turned and killed me. If only I could find out the Great Taboo, I would tell it to the stranger, the King of the Rain; and then, perhaps, Tu-Kila-Kila would die. And the stranger would become Tu-Kila-Kila in turn, and I would be one of his wives; and Toko, who is his Shadow, would return again to the service of Tu-Kila-Kila’s temple.”
But Fire, as she passed, was saying to Water, “We are getting tired in Boupari of Lavita, the son of Sami. If the luck of the island is not to change, it is high time, I think, we should have a new Tu-Kila-Kila.”
COUNCIL OF WAR.
That same afternoon Muriel had a visitor. M. Jules Peyron, formerly of the College de France, no longer a mere Polynesian god, but a French gentleman of the Boulevards in voice and manner, came to pay his respects, as in duty bound, to Mademoiselle Ellis. M. Peyron had performed his toilet under trying circumstances, to the best of his ability. The remnants of his European clothes, much patched and overhung with squares