He had found her by the same agency her father had: native talk, which flew from isle to isle as fast as proas could carry it. She was a lone white woman, therefore marked.
What was it in her heart or mind or soul that went out to this man? Music—was that it? Was he powerless to stir her without the gift? But hadn’t he fascinated her by his talk, gentle and winning? Ah, but that had been after he had played for her.
She had gone into Morgan’s one afternoon for a bag of salt. One hour later she had gone back to the mission—without the salt. For the first time in her life she had heard music; the door to enchanted sounds had been flung wide. For hours after she had not been sensible to life, only to exquisite echoes.
Of course she had often heard sailors hammering out their ditties. Sometimes ships would stop three or four days for water and repairs; and the men would carouse in the back room at Morgan’s.
Day after day—five, to be exact—she had returned to Morgan’s; and each time the man would understand what had drawn her, and with a kindly smile would sit down at the piano and play. Sometimes the music would be tender and dreamy, like a native mother’s crooning to her young; sometimes it would be so gay that the flesh tingled and the feet were urged to dance; again, it would be like the storms crashing, thunderous.
On the fifth day he had ventured speech with her. He told her something about music, the great world outside. Then he had gone away. But two weeks later he returned. Again he played for her; and again the eruption of the strange senses that lay hidden in her soul. He talked with his manner gentle and kindly. Shy, grateful in her loneliness for this unexpected attention, she had listened. She had even confided to him how lonely it was in the island. He had promised her some books, for she had voiced her hunger for stories. On his third visit to the island she had surprised him, that is, she had glanced up suddenly and caught the look of the beast in his eyes.
And it had not shocked her! It was this appalling absence of indignation that had put terror into her heart. The same look she had often seen in the eyes of the drunken beachcombers her father had brought home, and it had not filled her with horror. And now she comprehended that the man (she had never known him by any name) knew she had surprised the look and had not resented it.
Still, thereafter she had avoided Morgan’s; partly out of fear and partly because of her father’s mandate. Yet the thing hidden within her called and called.
Traps, set with peculiar cunning; she had encountered them everywhere. By following her he had discovered her secret nook in the rocks. Here she would find candy awaiting her, bits of ribbon, books. She wondered even at this late day how she had been able to hold her maddening curiosity in check. Books! She knew now what had saved her—her mother’s hand, reaching down from heaven, had set the giver’s flaming eyes upon the covers of these books. One day she had thrown all the gifts into the lagoon, and visited the secret nook no more.