chapter  I
22 Pages

A South Sea Bridal

When these two trade1's eame ahoard I was pleased with the looks of them at onee, 01', rather, with the looks of both, and the speech of one. I was siek for wbit,e neighbours after my foul' years at the ' line, which I always counted years of prison; getting tabooed, and going down to the Speak House to see and get it taken ofF; buying gin and going on a break, and then repenting; sitting in the house at night with the lamp for company; 01' walking on the beach tLDd wondering what kind of a fool to call myself for being wherc I was. rrhere were no other whites upon my island, and wIten I sailed to the next, rough customel'S made the most 01' the society. N ow to sec these two when they came aboard was a pleasul'e. One was a negro, to be sure; but they were hoth l'igged out smart in st.riped pyjamas and straw hats, and. Oase would

have passed muster in a city. He was yellow and smallish, had a hawk's nosr to his face, pale eyes, and his beard trimmed with Hcissol's. No man knew his country, heyond he ~was of English speech; anel it was clear he came of a good family aud was splendidly eclucated. He was accomplished too; playrd t,he accordion nrstrate; and give him a piece of string or a cork or a pack of cards; anel he could show you tricks equal to any professional. He could speak, when he chose, fit for a dra wing-room; and 'when he chose he rould blaspheme worse than a Yankee boatswain, and t:tlk smart to sick(,ll :t Tütnaka. Theway he thong'ht would pay hest at the moment, that was Case's wa'y, allel it always seemeel to e0111(, natural, anel like as if he was born to it. IIe ltacl thc courage of a 1ion and the cunning of a rat; and if he's l'10t in hell today, there's no such place. I know hut one good point to the man: tImt he was fond of his wife, and kind to her. She was a Samoa woman, and dyed her hair red, Samoa style; aud when he carne to die (as I have to tell of) they found one strange thing-t,hat he had made a will, like a Christian, and the wi(low got the lot: al1 his, they said, and all Blaek .J ack's, and the most of Billy Ranelall's in the bargain, for it was Oase

But of all this on that first morning I knew no more than a fly. Oase used me like agentIeman and like a friend, made me welcome to Falesa, and put his services at my disposal, which was the more helpful from my ignorance of the native. All the bettel' part of the day we sat drinking bettel' acquaintance in the cabin, and I never heard a man talk more to the point. There was uo smarteL' tl'adel', and none dodgier, in tbe islands. I thought Falesa seemed to be tbe right kind of a place; aud the more I drank the lighter my hem't. Our last trader had Red tbc place at half an hour's notice, taking a chance passage in a labour ship from up west. The captain,. whcn he came, had found the station closed, thc keys left with the native pastor, and a letter from the runaway, confessing he was fairly frightened of his life. Since then the firm had not been represented, and of course there was no cargo. The wind, besides, was fair, the captain hoped he could make his next island by dawn, with a good tide, and the businflss of landing my trade was gone about lively. There was no call for me to fool with it,

Case saic1; nobody would touch my things, everyone was honest in Falesa, only about chickens or an odd knife 01' an odd stick of tobacco; and the best I could do was to ~it quiet till the vessel left, then come straight to his house, see 01c1 Captain RandalI, the father of the beach, take pot-Iuck, and go home to sleep when it got dark. So it. was high noon, anel tlw schoonel' was nnder way bpfol'p I set my foot on shore at Falpsa.