“Why are you so late? Dinner has been waiting for an hour.”
“Pshaw! And the cocoanuts are cold again,” he cried with mock concern. She took his arm and they trudged happily through the deep grass on which the never-failing dew was already settling. “But we have finished the fortifications. By George, if those Ooloozers get through that valley they’ll be fit to try conclusions with England and America combined. With four hundred men I can defend the pass against four thousand. To-morrow I’ll take you over to see the defences. They’re great, Tennys.”
She dampened his enthusiasm somewhat.
“Won’t it be an awful joke if the enemy doesn’t come?”
“Joke! It will be a calamity! I’d be tempted to organize a fleet and go over after them. By the way, I have something fine for you.”
“A letter from home?” she cried laughingly. “One would think so from the important way in which you announce it. What is it?”
“A pet—a wonder of a pet,” he said. “Hey! Jing-a-ling, or whatever your name is, bring that thing up here.” A native came running up from the rear bearing in his arms, a small, ugly cub, its eyes scarcely opened. She gave vent to a little shriek and drew back.
“Ugh! The horrid thing! What is it?”
“A baby leopard. He’s to be our house cat.”
“Never! I never saw an uglier creature in my life. What a ponderous head, what mammoth feet, and what a miserably small body! Where are the spots?”
“He gets ’em later, just as we get gray hairs—sign of old age, you know. And he outgrows the exaggerated extremities. In a few months he’ll be the prettiest thing you ever saw. You must teach him to stand on his head, jump through a hoop, tell fortunes and pick out the prettiest lady in the audience, and I’ll get you a position with a circus when we go to America. You’d be known on the bills as the Royal Izor of the Foofops and her trained leopard, the Only One in Captivity.”
“You mean the only leopard, I presume,” she smiled.
“Certainly not the only lady, for there are millions of them in that state.”
They had their dinner by torchlight and then took their customary stroll through the village.
“There seems to be no one in the world but you and I,” she said, a sudden loneliness coming over her.
“What a paradise this would be for the lover who vows that very thing to the girl he loves.”
“Do lovers mean all that they say?” she asked laughingly.
“Very few know just what they say until it is too late. A test on an uncivilized island would bring reason to the doughtiest lover. There’s no sentiment in cold facts.”
“I don’t see why two people, if they loved as you say they can love, should not be perfectly happy to live apart from the world. Do they not live only for each other?”
“That’s before the test, you see.”
“I have not found existence on this island altogether unendurable,” she went on. “I am not in love, I’m cure, yet I am surprised to find myself contented here with you. Then why should not lovers find this a real paradise, as you say?”