The two young fools laughed until they cried. They were drenched with water and suds. Their laughter, together with the agonized yowling of the dog, drew a circle of wondering natives; and at length McClintock himself came over to see what the racket was about. When he saw, his roars could be heard across the lagoon.
“You two will have this island by the ears,” he said, wiping his eyes. “Those boys out there think this is some new religious rite and that you are skinning the dog alive to eat him!”
The shock of this information loosened Spurlock’s grip on the dog, who bolted out of the kitchen and out of the house, maintaining his mile-a-minute gait until he reached the jungle muck, where he proceeded to neutralize the poison with which he had been lathered by rolling in the muck.
But they found him on the veranda when they returned from McClintock’s that evening. He had forgiven everybody. From then on he was Ruth’s dog.
Nothing else so quickly establishes the condition of comradeship as the sharing of a laughable incident. Certain reserves went down on both sides. Spurlock discussed the affairs of the island and Ruth gave him in exchange her adventures with the native girl who was to be their servant.
This getting up at dawn—real dawn—and working until seven was a distinct novelty. From then until four in the afternoon there was nothing to do—the whole island went to sleep. Even the chattering monkeys, parrots, and parrakeets departed the fruit groves for the smelly dark of the jungle. If, around noon, a coconut proa landed, the boys made no effort to unload. They hunted up shady nooks and went to sleep; but promptly at four they would be at the office, ready for barter.
Spurlock had found the typewriter, oiled and cleaned it, and began to practise on it in the night. He would never be able to compose upon it, but it would serve to produce the finished work. Above the work-table was a drop-light—kerosene. The odour of kerosene permeated the bungalow; but Ruth mitigated the nuisance to some extent by burning native punk in brass jars.
He was keen to get to work, but the inspiration would not come. He started a dozen stories, but they all ended in the waste-basket. Then, one night, he glanced up to behold Ruth and Rollo in the doorway. She crooked her finger.
“What is it?”
“The night,” she answered. “Come and see the lagoon in the moonlight.”
He drew down the lamp and blew it out, and followed her into the night, more lovely than he had ever imagined night to be. There was only one sound—the fall of the sea upon the main beach, and even that said: “Hush! Hush! Hus-s-sh!” Not a leaf stirred, not a shadow moved. The great gray boles of the palms reminded him of some fabulous Grecian temple.
“Let us sit here,” she said, indicating the white sand bordering the lagoon; “and in a minute or two you will see something quite wonderful . . . . There!”