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On the Makaloa Mat/Island Tales by Jack London

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man had been eaten by them. And of the young men who dared dive
for lobsters, one was eaten, and one lost an arm, and another lost
one hand and one foot.

"But there was Keikiwai, the Water Baby, only eleven years old, but
half fish himself and talking the language of fishes. To his
father the head men came, begging him to send the Water Baby to get
lobsters to fill the king's belly and divert his anger.

"Now this what happened was known and observed. For the fishermen,
and their women, and the taro-growers and the bird-catchers, and
the head men, and all Waihee, came down and stood back from the
edge of the rock where the Water Baby stood and looked down at the
lobsters far beneath on the bottom.

"And a shark, looking up with its cat's eyes, observed him, and
sent out the shark-call of 'fresh meat' to assemble all the sharks
in the lagoon. For the sharks work thus together, which is why
they are strong. And the sharks answered the call till there were
forty of them, long ones and short ones and lean ones and round
ones, forty of them by count; and they talked to one another,
saying: 'Look at that titbit of a child, that morsel delicious of
human-flesh sweetness without the salt of the sea in it, of which
salt we have too much, savoury and good to eat, melting to delight
under our hearts as our bellies embrace it and extract from it its

"Much more they said, saying: 'He has come for the lobsters. When
he dives in he is for one of us. Not like the old man we ate
yesterday, tough to dryness with age, nor like the young men whose
members were too hard-muscled, but tender, so tender that he will
melt in our gullets ere our bellies receive him. When he dives in,
we will all rush for him, and the lucky one of us will get him,
and, gulp, he will be gone, one bite and one swallow, into the
belly of the luckiest one of us.'

"And Keikiwai, the Water Baby, heard the conspiracy, knowing the
shark language; and he addressed a prayer, in the shark language,
to the shark god Moku-halii, and the sharks heard and waved their
tails to one another and winked their cat's eyes in token that they
understood his talk. And then he said: 'I shall now dive for a
lobster for the king. And no hurt shall befall me, because the
shark with the shortest tail is my friend and will protect me.

"And, so saying, he picked up a chunk of lava-rock and tossed it
into the water, with a big splash, twenty feet to one side. The
forty sharks rushed for the splash, while he dived, and by the time
they discovered they had missed him, he had gone to bottom and come
back and climbed out, within his hand a fat lobster, a wahine
lobster, full of eggs, for the king.

"'Ha!' said the sharks, very angry. 'There is among us a traitor.
The titbit of a child, the morsel of sweetness, has spoken, and has
exposed the one among us who has saved him. Let us now measure the
lengths of our tails!

"Which they did, in a long row, side by side, the shorter-tailed
ones cheating and stretching to gain length on themselves, the
longer-tailed ones cheating and stretching in order not to be out-
cheated and out-stretched. They were very angry with the one with
the shortest tail, and him they rushed upon from every side and
devoured till nothing was left of him.

"Again they listened while they waited for the Water Baby to dive
in. And again the Water Baby made his prayer in the shark language
to Moku-halii, and said: 'The shark with the shortest tail is my
friend and will protect me.' And again the Water Baby tossed in a
chunk of lava, this time twenty feet away off to the other side.
The sharks rushed for the splash, and in their haste ran into one
another, and splashed with their tails till the water was all foam,
and they could see nothing, each thinking some other was swallowing
the titbit. And the Water Baby came up and climbed out with
another fat lobster for the king.

"And the thirty-nine sharks measured tails, devoting the one with
the shortest tail, so that there were only thirty-eight sharks.
And the Water Baby continued to do what I have said, and the sharks
to do what I have told you, while for each shark that was eaten by
his brothers there was another fat lobster laid on the rock for the
king. Of course, there was much quarrelling and argument among the
sharks when it came to measuring tails; but in the end it worked
out in rightness and justice, for, when only two sharks were left,
they were the two biggest of the original forty.

"And the Water Baby again claimed the shark with the shortest tail
was his friend, fooled the two sharks with another lava-chunk, and
brought up another lobster. The two sharks each claimed the other
had the shorter tail, and each fought to eat the other, and the one
with the longer tail won--"

"Hold, O Kohokumu!" I interrupted. "Remember that that shark had

"I know just what you are going to say," he snatched his recital
back from me. "And you are right. It took him so long to eat the
thirty-ninth shark, for inside the thirty-ninth shark were already
the nineteen other sharks he had eaten, and inside the fortieth
shark were already the nineteen other sharks he had eaten, and he
did not have the appetite he had started with. But do not forget
he was a very big shark to begin with.

"It took him so long to eat the other shark, and the nineteen
sharks inside the other shark, that he was still eating when
darkness fell, and the people of Waihee went away home with all the
lobsters for the king. And didn't they find the last shark on the
beach next morning dead, and burst wide open with all he had

Kohokumu fetched a full stop and held my eyes with his own shrewd

"Hold, O Lakana!" he checked the speech that rushed to my tongue.
"I know what next you would say. You would say that with my own
eyes I did not see this, and therefore that I do not know what I
have been telling you. But I do know, and I can prove it. My
father's father knew the grandson of the Water Baby's father's
uncle. Also, there, on the rocky point to which I point my finger
now, is where the Water Baby stood and dived. I have dived for
lobsters there myself. It is a great place for lobsters. Also,
and often, have I seen sharks there. And there, on the bottom, as
I should know, for I have seen and counted them, are the thirty-
nine lava-rocks thrown in by the Water Baby as I have described."

"But--" I began.

"Ha!" he baffled me. "Look! While we have talked the fish have
begun again to bite."

He pointed to three of the bamboo poles erect and devil-dancing in
token that fish were hooked and struggling on the lines beneath.
As he bent to his paddle, he muttered, for my benefit:

"Of course I know. The thirty-nine lava rocks are still there.
You can count them any day for yourself. Of course I know, and I
know for a fact."

October 2, 1916.


There was a great noise and racket, but no scandal, in Honolulu's
Chinatown. Those within hearing distance merely shrugged their
shoulders and smiled tolerantly at the disturbance as an affair of
accustomed usualness. "What is it?" asked Chin Mo, down with a
sharp pleurisy, of his wife, who had paused for a second at the
open window to listen.

"Only Ah Kim," was her reply. "His mother is beating him again."

The fracas was taking place in the garden, behind the living rooms
that were at the back of the store that fronted on the street with
the proud sign above: AH KIM COMPANY, GENERAL MERCHANDISE. The
garden was a miniature domain, twenty feet square, that somehow
cunningly seduced the eye into a sense and seeming of illimitable
vastness. There were forests of dwarf pines and oaks, centuries
old yet two or three feet in height, and imported at enormous care
and expense. A tiny bridge, a pace across, arched over a miniature
river that flowed with rapids and cataracts from a miniature lake
stocked with myriad-finned, orange-miracled goldfish that in
proportion to the lake and landscape were whales. On every side
the many windows of the several-storied shack-buildings looked
down. In the centre of the garden, on the narrow gravelled walk
close beside the lake Ah Kim was noisily receiving his beating.

No Chinese lad of tender and beatable years was Ah Kim. His was
the store of Ah Kim Company, and his was the achievement of
building it up through the long years from the shoestring of
savings of a contract coolie labourer to a bank account in four
figures and a credit that was gilt edged. An even half-century of
summers and winters had passed over his head, and, in the passing,
fattened him comfortably and snugly. Short of stature, his full
front was as rotund as a water-melon seed. His face was moon-
faced. His garb was dignified and silken, and his black-silk
skull-cap with the red button atop, now, alas! fallen on the
ground, was the skull-cap worn by the successful and dignified
merchants of his race.

But his appearance, in this moment of the present, was anything but
dignified. Dodging and ducking under a rain of blows from a bamboo
cane, he was crouched over in a half-doubled posture. When he was
rapped on the knuckles and elbows, with which he shielded his face
and head, his winces were genuine and involuntary. From the many
surrounding windows the neighbourhood looked down with placid

And she who wielded the stick so shrewdly from long practice!
Seventy-four years old, she looked every minute of her time. Her
thin legs were encased in straight-lined pants of linen stiff-
textured and shiny-black. Her scraggly grey hair was drawn
unrelentingly and flatly back from a narrow, unrelenting forehead.
Eyebrows she had none, having long since shed them. Her eyes, of
pin-hole tininess, were blackest black. She was shockingly
cadaverous. Her shrivelled forearm, exposed by the loose sleeve,
possessed no more of muscle than several taut bowstrings stretched
across meagre bone under yellow, parchment-like skin. Along this
mummy arm jade bracelets shot up and down and clashed with every

"Ah!" she cried out, rhythmically accenting her blows in series of
three to each shrill observation. "I forbade you to talk to Li
Faa. To-day you stopped on the street with her. Not an hour ago.
Half an hour by the clock you talked.--What is that?"

"It was the thrice-accursed telephone," Ah Kim muttered, while she
suspended the stick to catch what he said. "Mrs. Chang Lucy told
you. I know she did. I saw her see me. I shall have the
telephone taken out. It is of the devil."

"It is a device of all the devils," Mrs. Tai Fu agreed, taking a
fresh grip on the stick. "Yet shall the telephone remain. I like
to talk with Mrs. Chang Lucy over the telephone."

"She has the eyes of ten thousand cats," quoth Ah Kim, ducking and
receiving the stick stinging on his knuckles. "And the tongues of
ten thousand toads," he supplemented ere his next duck.

"She is an impudent-faced and evil-mannered hussy," Mrs. Tai Fu

"Mrs. Chang Lucy was ever that," Ah Kim murmured like the dutiful
son he was.

"I speak of Li Faa," his mother corrected with stick emphasis.
"She is only half Chinese, as you know. Her mother was a shameless
kanaka. She wears skirts like the degraded haole women--also
corsets, as I have seen for myself. Where are her children? Yet
has she buried two husbands."

"The one was drowned, the other kicked by a horse," Ah Kim

"A year of her, unworthy son of a noble father, and you would
gladly be going out to get drowned or be kicked by a horse."

Subdued chucklings and laughter from the window audience applauded
her point.

"You buried two husbands yourself, revered mother," Ah Kim was
stung to retort.

"I had the good taste not to marry a third. Besides, my two
husbands died honourably in their beds. They were not kicked by
horses nor drowned at sea. What business is it of our neighbours
that you should inform them I have had two husbands, or ten, or
none? You have made a scandal of me, before all our neighbours,
and for that I shall now give you a real beating."

Ah Kim endured the staccato rain of blows, and said when his mother
paused, breathless and weary:

"Always have I insisted and pleaded, honourable mother, that you
beat me in the house, with the windows and doors closed tight, and
not in the open street or the garden open behind the house.

"You have called this unthinkable Li Faa the Silvery Moon Blossom,"
Mrs. Tai Fu rejoined, quite illogically and femininely, but with
utmost success in so far as she deflected her son from continuance
of the thrust he had so swiftly driven home.

"Mrs. Chang Lucy told you," he charged.

"I was told over the telephone," his mother evaded. "I do not know
all voices that speak to me over that contrivance of all the

Strangely, Ah Kim made no effort to run away from his mother, which
he could easily have done. She, on the other hand, found fresh
cause for more stick blows.

"Ah! Stubborn one! Why do you not cry? Mule that shameth its
ancestors! Never have I made you cry. From the time you were a
little boy I have never made you cry. Answer me! Why do you not

Weak and breathless from her exertions, she dropped the stick and
panted and shook as if with a nervous palsy.

"I do not know, except that it is my way," Ah Kim replied, gazing
solicitously at his mother. "I shall bring you a chair now, and
you will sit down and rest and feel better."

But she flung away from him with a snort and tottered agedly across
the garden into the house. Meanwhile recovering his skull-cap and
smoothing his disordered attire, Ah Kim rubbed his hurts and gazed
after her with eyes of devotion. He even smiled, and almost might
it appear that he had enjoyed the beating.

Ah Kim had been so beaten ever since he was a boy, when he lived on
the high banks of the eleventh cataract of the Yangtse river. Here
his father had been born and toiled all his days from young manhood
as a towing coolie. When he died, Ah Kim, in his own young
manhood, took up the same honourable profession. Farther back than
all remembered annals of the family, had the males of it been
towing coolies. At the time of Christ his direct ancestors had
been doing the same thing, meeting the precisely similarly modelled
junks below the white water at the foot of the canyon, bending the
half-mile of rope to each junk, and, according to size, tailing on
from a hundred to two hundred coolies of them and by sheer, two-
legged man-power, bowed forward and down till their hands touched
the ground and their faces were sometimes within a foot of it,
dragging the junk up through the white water to the head of the

Apparently, down all the intervening centuries, the payment of the
trade had not picked up. His father, his father's father, and
himself, Ah Kim, had received the same invariable remuneration--per
junk one-fourteenth of a cent, at the rate he had since learned
money was valued in Hawaii. On long lucky summer days when the
waters were easy, the junks many, the hours of daylight sixteen,
sixteen hours of such heroic toil would earn over a cent. But in a
whole year a towing coolie did not earn more than a dollar and a
half. People could and did live on such an income. There were
women servants who received a yearly wage of a dollar. The net-
makers of Ti Wi earned between a dollar and two dollars a year.
They lived on such wages, or, at least, they did not die on them.
But for the towing coolies there were pickings, which were what
made the profession honourable and the guild a close and hereditary
corporation or labour union. One junk in five that was dragged up
through the rapids or lowered down was wrecked. One junk in every
ten was a total loss. The coolies of the towing guild knew the
freaks and whims of the currents, and grappled, and raked, and
netted a wet harvest from the river. They of the guild were looked
up to by lesser coolies, for they could afford to drink brick tea
and eat number four rice every day.

And Ah Kim had been contented and proud, until, one bitter spring
day of driving sleet and hail, he dragged ashore a drowning
Cantonese sailor. It was this wanderer, thawing out by his fire,
who first named the magic name Hawaii to him. He had himself never
been to that labourer's paradise, said the sailor; but many Chinese
had gone there from Canton, and he had heard the talk of their
letters written back. In Hawaii was never frost nor famine. The
very pigs, never fed, were ever fat of the generous offal disdained
by man. A Cantonese or Yangtse family could live on the waste of
an Hawaii coolie. And wages! In gold dollars, ten a month, or, in
trade dollars, two a month, was what the contract Chinese coolie
received from the white-devil sugar kings. In a year the coolie
received the prodigious sum of two hundred and forty trade dollars-
-more than a hundred times what a coolie, toiling ten times as
hard, received on the eleventh cataract of the Yangtse. In short,
all things considered, an Hawaii coolie was one hundred times
better off, and, when the amount of labour was estimated, a
thousand times better off. In addition was the wonderful climate.

When Ah Kim was twenty-four, despite his mother's pleadings and
beatings, he resigned from the ancient and honourable guild of the
eleventh cataract towing coolies, left his mother to go into a boss
coolie's household as a servant for a dollar a year, and an annual
dress to cost not less than thirty cents, and himself departed down
the Yangtse to the great sea. Many were his adventures and severe
his toils and hardships ere, as a salt-sea junk-sailor, he won to
Canton. When he was twenty-six he signed five years of his life
and labour away to the Hawaii sugar kings and departed, one of
eight hundred contract coolies, for that far island land, on a
festering steamer run by a crazy captain and drunken officers and
rejected of Lloyds.

Honourable, among labourers, had Ah Kim's rating been as a towing
coolie. In Hawaii, receiving a hundred times more pay, he found
himself looked down upon as the lowest of the low--a plantation
coolie, than which could be nothing lower. But a coolie whose
ancestors had towed junks up the eleventh cataract of the Yangtse
since before the birth of Christ inevitably inherits one character
in large degree, namely, the character of patience. This patience
was Ah Kim's. At the end of five years, his compulsory servitude
over, thin as ever in body, in bank account he lacked just ten
trade dollars of possessing a thousand trade dollars.

On this sum he could have gone back to the Yangtse and retired for
life a really wealthy man. He would have possessed a larger sum,
had he not, on occasion, conservatively played che fa and fan tan,
and had he not, for a twelve-month, toiled among the centipedes and
scorpions of the stifling cane-fields in the semi-dream of a
continuous opium debauch. Why he had not toiled the whole five
years under the spell of opium was the expensiveness of the habit.
He had had no moral scruples. The drug had cost too much.

But Ah Kim did not return to China. He had observed the business
life of Hawaii and developed a vaulting ambition. For six months,
in order to learn business and English at the bottom, he clerked in
the plantation store. At the end of this time he knew more about
that particular store than did ever plantation manager know about
any plantation store. When he resigned his position he was
receiving forty gold a month, or eighty trade, and he was beginning
to put on flesh. Also, his attitude toward mere contract coolies
had become distinctively aristocratic. The manager offered to
raise him to sixty fold, which, by the year, would constitute a
fabulous fourteen hundred and forty trade, or seven hundred times
his annual earning on the Yangtse as a two-legged horse at one-
fourteenth of a gold cent per junk.

Instead of accepting, Ah Kim departed to Honolulu, and in the big
general merchandise store of Fong & Chow Fong began at the bottom
for fifteen gold per month. He worked a year and a half, and
resigned when he was thirty-three, despite the seventy-five gold
per month his Chinese employers were paying him. Then it was that
he put up his own sign: AH KIM COMPANY, GENERAL MERCHANDISE.
Also, better fed, there was about his less meagre figure a
foreshadowing of the melon-seed rotundity that was to attach to him
in future years.

With the years he prospered increasingly, so that, when he was
thirty-six, the promise of his figure was fulfilling rapidly, and,
himself a member of the exclusive and powerful Hai Gum Tong, and of
the Chinese Merchants' Association, he was accustomed to sitting as
host at dinners that cost him as much as thirty years of towing on
the eleventh cataract would have earned him. Two things he missed:
a wife, and his mother to lay the stick on him as of yore.

When he was thirty-seven he consulted his bank balance. It stood
him three thousand gold. For twenty-five hundred down and an easy
mortgage he could buy the three-story shack-building, and the
ground in fee simple on which it stood. But to do this, left only
five hundred for a wife. Fu Yee Po had a marriageable, properly
small-footed daughter whom he was willing to import from China, and
sell to him for eight hundred gold, plus the costs of importation.
Further, Fu Yee Po was even willing to take five hundred down and
the remainder on note at 6 per cent.

Ah Kim, thirty-seven years of age, fat and a bachelor, really did
want a wife, especially a small-footed wife; for, China born and
reared, the immemorial small-footed female had been deeply
impressed into his fantasy of woman. But more, even more and far
more than a small-footed wife, did he want his mother and his
mother's delectable beatings. So he declined Fu Yee Po's easy
terms, and at much less cost imported his own mother from servant
in a boss coolie's house at a yearly wage of a dollar and a thirty-
cent dress to be mistress of his Honolulu three-story shack
building with two household servants, three clerks, and a porter of
all work under her, to say nothing of ten thousand dollars' worth
of dress goods on the shelves that ranged from the cheapest cotton
crepes to the most expensive hand-embroidered silks. For be it
known that even in that early day Ah Kim's emporium was beginning
to cater to the tourist trade from the States.

For thirteen years Ah Kim had lived tolerably happily with his
mother, and by her been methodically beaten for causes just or
unjust, real or fancied; and at the end of it all he knew as
strongly as ever the ache of his heart and head for a wife, and of
his loins for sons to live after him, and carry on the dynasty of
Ah Kim Company. Such the dream that has ever vexed men, from those
early ones who first usurped a hunting right, monopolized a sandbar
for a fish-trap, or stormed a village and put the males thereof to
the sword. Kings, millionaires, and Chinese merchants of Honolulu
have this in common, despite that they may praise God for having
made them differently and in self-likable images.

And the ideal of woman that Ah Kim at fifty ached for had changed
from his ideal at thirty-seven. No small-footed wife did he want
now, but a free, natural, out-stepping normal-footed woman that,
somehow, appeared to him in his day dreams and haunted his night
visions in the form of Li Faa, the Silvery Moon Blossom. What if
she were twice widowed, the daughter of a kanaka mother, the wearer
of white-devil skirts and corsets and high-heeled slippers! He
wanted her. It seemed it was written that she should be joint
ancestor with him of the line that would continue the ownership and
management through the generations, of Ah Kim Company, General

"I will have no half-pake daughter-in-law," his mother often
reiterated to Ah Kim, pake being the Hawaiian word for Chinese.
"All pake must my daughter-in-law be, even as you, my son, and as
I, your mother. And she must wear trousers, my son, as all the
women of our family before her. No woman, in she-devil skirts and
corsets, can pay due reverence to our ancestors. Corsets and
reverence do not go together. Such a one is this shameless Li Faa.
She is impudent and independent, and will be neither obedient to
her husband nor her husband's mother. This brazen-faced Li Faa
would believe herself the source of life and the first ancestor,
recognizing no ancestors before her. She laughs at our joss-
sticks, and paper prayers, and family gods, as I have been well

"Mrs. Chang Lucy," Ah Kim groaned.

"Not alone Mrs. Chang Lucy, O son. I have inquired. At least a
dozen have heard her say of our joss house that it is all monkey
foolishness. The words are hers--she, who eats raw fish, raw
squid, and baked dog. Ours is the foolishness of monkeys. Yet
would she marry you, a monkey, because of your store that is a
palace and of the wealth that makes you a great man. And she would
put shame on me, and on your father before you long honourably

And there was no discussing the matter. As things were, Ah Kim
knew his mother was right. Not for nothing had Li Faa been born
forty years before of a Chinese father, renegade to all tradition,
and of a kanaka mother whose immediate forebears had broken the
taboos, cast down their own Polynesian gods, and weak-heartedly
listened to the preaching about the remote and unimageable god of
the Christian missionaries. Li Faa, educated, who could read and
write English and Hawaiian and a fair measure of Chinese, claimed
to believe in nothing, although in her secret heart she feared the
kahunas (Hawaiian witch-doctors), who she was certain could charm
away ill luck or pray one to death. Li Faa would never come into
Ah Kim's house, as he thoroughly knew, and kow-tow to his mother
and be slave to her in the immemorial Chinese way. Li Faa, from
the Chinese angle, was a new woman, a feminist, who rode horseback
astride, disported immodestly garbed at Waikiki on the surf-boards,
and at more than one luau (feast) had been known to dance the hula
with the worst and in excess of the worst, to the scandalous
delight of all.

Ah Kim himself, a generation younger than his mother, had been
bitten by the acid of modernity. The old order held, in so far as
he still felt in his subtlest crypts of being the dusty hand of the
past resting on him, residing in him; yet he subscribed to heavy
policies of fire and life insurance, acted as treasurer for the
local Chinese revolutionises that were for turning the Celestial
Empire into a republic, contributed to the funds of the Hawaii-born
Chinese baseball nine that excelled the Yankee nines at their own
game, talked theosophy with Katso Suguri, the Japanese Buddhist and
silk importer, fell for police graft, played and paid his insidious
share in the democratic politics of annexed Hawaii, and was
thinking of buying an automobile. Ah Kim never dared bare himself
to himself and thrash out and winnow out how much of the old he had
ceased to believe in. His mother was of the old, yet he revered
her and was happy under her bamboo stick. Li Faa, the Silvery Moon
Blossom, was of the new, yet he could never be quite completely
happy without her.

For he loved Li Faa. Moon-faced, rotund as a water-melon seed,
canny business man, wise with half a century of living--
nevertheless Ah Kim became an artist when he thought of her. He
thought of her in poems of names, as woman transmuted into flower-
terms of beauty and philosophic abstractions of achievement and
easement. She was, to him, and alone to him of all men in the
world, his Plum Blossom, his Tranquillity of Woman, his Flower of
Serenity, his Moon Lily, and his Perfect Rest. And as he murmured
these love endearments of namings, it seemed to him that in them
were the ripplings of running waters, the tinklings of silver wind-
bells, and the scents of the oleander and the jasmine. She was his
poem of woman, a lyric delight, a three-dimensions of flesh and
spirit delicious, a fate and a good fortune written, ere the first
man and woman were, by the gods whose whim had been to make all men
and women for sorrow and for joy.

But his mother put into his hand the ink-brush and placed under it,
on the table, the writing tablet.

"Paint," said she, "the ideograph of TO MARRY."

He obeyed, scarcely wondering, with the deft artistry of his race
and training painting the symbolic hieroglyphic.

"Resolve it," commanded his mother.

Ah Kim looked at her, curious, willing to please, unaware of the
drift of her intent.

"Of what is it composed?" she persisted. "What are the three
originals, the sum of which is it: to marry, marriage, the coming
together and wedding of a man and a woman? Paint them, paint them
apart, the three originals, unrelated, so that we may know how the
wise men of old wisely built up the ideograph of to marry."

And Ah Kim, obeying and painting, saw that what he had painted were
three picture-signs--the picture-signs of a hand, an ear, and a

"Name them," said his mother; and he named them.

"It is true," said she. "It is a great tale. It is the stuff of
the painted pictures of marriage. Such marriage was in the
beginning; such shall it always be in my house. The hand of the
man takes the woman's ear, and by it leads her away to his house,
where she is to be obedient to him and to his mother. I was taken
by the ear, so, by your long honourably dead father. I have looked
at your hand. It is not like his hand. Also have I looked at the
ear of Li Faa. Never will you lead her by the ear. She has not
that kind of an ear. I shall live a long time yet, and I will be
mistress in my son's house, after our ancient way, until I die."

"But she is my revered ancestress," Ah Kim explained to Li Faa.

He was timidly unhappy; for Li Faa, having ascertained that Mrs.
Tai Fu was at the temple of the Chinese AEsculapius making a food
offering of dried duck and prayers for her declining health, had
taken advantage of the opportunity to call upon him in his store.

Li Faa pursed her insolent, unpainted lips into the form of a half-
opened rosebud, and replied:

"That will do for China. I do not know China. This is Hawaii, and
in Hawaii the customs of all foreigners change."

"She is nevertheless my ancestress," Ah Kim protested, "the mother
who gave me birth, whether I am in China or Hawaii, O Silvery Moon
Blossom that I want for wife."

"I have had two husbands," Li Faa stated placidly. "One was a
pake, one was a Portuguese. I learned much from both. Also am I
educated. I have been to High School, and I have played the piano
in public. And I learned from my two husbands much. The pake
makes the best husband. Never again will I marry anything but a
pake. But he must not take me by the ear--"

"How do you know of that?" he broke in suspiciously.

"Mrs. Chang Lucy," was the reply. "Mrs. Chang Lucy tells me
everything that your mother tells her, and your mother tells her
much. So let me tell you that mine is not that kind of an ear."

"Which is what my honoured mother has told me," Ah Kim groaned.

"Which is what your honoured mother told Mrs. Chang Lucy, which is
what Mrs. Chang Lucy told me," Li Faa completed equably. "And I
now tell you, O Third Husband To Be, that the man is not born who
will lead me by the ear. It is not the way in Hawaii. I will go
only hand in hand with my man, side by side, fifty-fifty as is the
haole slang just now. My Portuguese husband thought different. He
tried to beat me. I landed him three times in the police court and
each time he worked out his sentence on the reef. After that he
got drowned."

"My mother has been my mother for fifty years," Ah Kim declared

"And for fifty years has she beaten you," Li Faa giggled. "How my
father used to laugh at Yap Ten Shin! Like you, Yap Ten Shin had
been born in China, and had brought the China customs with him.
His old father was for ever beating him with a stick. He loved his
father. But his father beat him harder than ever when he became a
missionary pake. Every time he went to the missionary services,
his father beat him. And every time the missionary heard of it he
was harsh in his language to Yap Ten Shin for allowing his father
to beat him. And my father laughed and laughed, for my father was
a very liberal pake, who had changed his customs quicker than most
foreigners. And all the trouble was because Yap Ten Shin had a
loving heart. He loved his honourable father. He loved the God of
Love of the Christian missionary. But in the end, in me, he found
the greatest love of all, which is the love of woman. In me he
forgot his love for his father and his love for the loving Christ.

"And he offered my father six hundred gold, for me--the price was
small because my feet were not small. But I was half kanaka. I
said that I was not a slave-woman, and that I would be sold to no
man. My high-school teacher was a haole old maid who said love of
woman was so beyond price that it must never be sold. Perhaps that
is why she was an old maid. She was not beautiful. She could not
give herself away. My kanaka mother said it was not the kanaka way
to sell their daughters for a money price. They gave their
daughters for love, and she would listen to reason if Yap Ten Shin
provided luaus in quantity and quality. My pake father, as I have
told you, was liberal. He asked me if I wanted Yap Ten Shin for my
husband. And I said yes; and freely, of myself, I went to him. He
it was who was kicked by a horse; but he was a very good husband
before he was kicked by the horse.

"As for you, Ah Kim, you shall always be honourable and lovable for
me, and some day, when it is not necessary for you to take me by
the ear, I shall marry you and come here and be with you always,
and you will be the happiest pake in all Hawaii; for I have had two
husbands, and gone to high school, and am most wise in making a
husband happy. But that will be when your mother has ceased to
beat you. Mrs. Chang Lucy tells me that she beats you very hard."

"She does," Ah Kim affirmed. "Behold! He thrust back his loose
sleeves, exposing to the elbow his smooth and cherubic forearms.
They were mantled with black and blue marks that advertised the
weight and number of blows so shielded from his head and face.

"But she has never made me cry," Ah Kim disclaimed hastily.
"Never, from the time I was a little boy, has she made me cry."

"So Mrs. Chang Lucy says," Li Faa observed. "She says that your
honourable mother often complains to her that she has never made
you cry."

A sibilant warning from one of his clerks was too late. Having
regained the house by way of the back alley, Mrs. Tai Fu emerged
right upon them from out of the living apartments. Never had Ah
Kim seen his mother's eyes so blazing furious. She ignored Li Faa,
as she screamed at him:

"Now will I make you cry. As never before shall I beat you until
you do cry."

"Then let us go into the back rooms, honourable mother," Ah Kim
suggested. "We will close the windows and the doors, and there may
you beat me."

"No. Here shall you be beaten before all the world and this
shameless woman who would, with her own hand, take you by the ear
and call such sacrilege marriage! Stay, shameless woman."

"I am going to stay anyway," said Li Faa. She favoured the clerks
with a truculent stare. "And I'd like to see anything less than
the police put me out of here."

"You will never be my daughter-in-law," Mrs. Tai Fu snapped.

Li Faa nodded her head in agreement.

"But just the same," she added, "shall your son be my third

"You mean when I am dead?" the old mother screamed.

"The sun rises each morning," Li Faa said enigmatically. "All my
life have I seen it rise--"

"You are forty, and you wear corsets."

"But I do not dye my hair--that will come later," Li Faa calmly
retorted. "As to my age, you are right. I shall be forty-one next
Kamehameha Day. For forty years I have seen the sun rise. My
father was an old man. Before he died he told me that he had
observed no difference in the rising of the sun since when he was a
little boy. The world is round. Confucius did not know that, but
you will find it in all the geography books. The world is round.
Ever it turns over on itself, over and over and around and around.
And the times and seasons of weather and life turn with it. What
is, has been before. What has been, will be again. The time of
the breadfruit and the mango ever recurs, and man and woman repeat
themselves. The robins nest, and in the springtime the plovers
come from the north. Every spring is followed by another spring.
The coconut palm rises into the air, ripens its fruit, and departs.
But always are there more coconut palms. This is not all my own
smart talk. Much of it my father told me. Proceed, honourable
Mrs. Tai Fu, and beat your son who is my Third Husband To Be. But
I shall laugh. I warn you I shall laugh."

Ah Kim dropped down on his knees so as to give his mother every
advantage. And while she rained blows upon him with the bamboo
stick, Li Faa smiled and giggled, and finally burst into laughter.

"Harder, O honourable Mrs. Tai Fu!" Li Faa urged between paroxysms
of mirth.

Mrs. Tai Fu did her best, which was notably weak, until she
observed what made her drop the stick by her side in amazement. Ah
Kim was crying. Down both cheeks great round tears were coursing.
Li Faa was amazed. So were the gaping clerks. Most amazed of all
was Ah Kim, yet he could not help himself; and, although no further
blows fell, he cried steadily on.

"But why did you cry?" Li Faa demanded often of Ah Kim. "It was so
perfectly foolish a thing to do. She was not even hurting you."

"Wait until we are married," was Ah Kim's invariable reply, "and
then, O Moon Lily, will I tell you."

Two years later, one afternoon, more like a water-melon seed in
configuration than ever, Ah Kim returned home from a meeting of the
Chinese Protective Association, to find his mother dead on her
couch. Narrower and more unrelenting than ever were the forehead
and the brushed-back hair. But on her face was a withered smile.
The gods had been kind. She had passed without pain.

He telephoned first of all to Li Faa's number but did not find her
until he called up Mrs. Chang Lucy. The news given, the marriage
was dated ahead with ten times the brevity of the old-line Chinese
custom. And if there be anything analogous to a bridesmaid in a
Chinese wedding, Mrs. Chang Lucy was just that.

"Why," Li Faa asked Ah Kim when alone with him on their wedding
night, "why did you cry when your mother beat you that day in the
store? You were so foolish. She was not even hurting you."

"That is why I cried," answered Ah Kim.

Li Faa looked up at him without understanding.

"I cried," he explained, "because I suddenly knew that my mother
was nearing her end. There was no weight, no hurt, in her blows.
ME. That is why I cried, my Flower of Serenity, my Perfect Rest.
That is the only reason why I cried."

June 16, 1916.


The tourist women, under the hau tree arbour that lines the Moana
hotel beach, gasped when Lee Barton and his wife Ida emerged from
the bath-house. And as the pair walked past them and down to the
sand, they continued to gasp. Not that there was anything about
Lee Barton provocative of gasps. The tourist women were not of the
sort to gasp at sight of a mere man's swimming-suited body, no
matter with what swelling splendour of line and muscle such body
was invested. Nevertheless, trainers and conditioners of men would
have drawn deep breaths of satisfaction at contemplation of the
physical spectacle of him. But they would not have gasped in the
way the women did, whose gasps were indicative of moral shock.

Ida Barton was the cause of their perturbation and disapproval.
They disapproved, seriously so, at the first instant's glimpse of
her. They thought--such ardent self-deceivers were they--that they
were shocked by her swimming suit. But Freud has pointed out how
persons, where sex is involved, are prone sincerely to substitute
one thing for another thing, and to agonize over the substituted
thing as strenuously as if it were the real thing.

Ida Barton's swimming suit was a very nice one, as women's suits
go. Of thinnest of firm-woven black wool, with white trimmings and
a white belt-line, it was high-throated, short-sleeved, and brief-
skirted. Brief as was the skirt, the leg-tights were no less
brief. Yet on the beach in front of the adjacent Outrigger Club,
and entering and leaving the water, a score of women, not provoking
gasping notice, were more daringly garbed. Their men's suits, as
brief of leg-tights and skirts, fitted them as snugly, but were
sleeveless after the way of men's suits, the arm-holes deeply low-
cut and in-cut, and, by the exposed armpits, advertiseful that the
wearers were accustomed to 1916 decollete.

So it was not Ida Barton's suit, although the women deceived
themselves into thinking it was. It was, first of all, say her
legs; or, first of all, say the totality of her, the sweet and
brilliant jewel of her femininity bursting upon them. Dowager,
matron, and maid, conserving their soft-fat muscles or protecting
their hot-house complexions in the shade of the hau-tree arbour,
felt the immediate challenge of her. She was menace as well, an
affront of superiority in their own chosen and variously successful
game of life.

But they did not say it. They did not permit themselves to think
it. They thought it was the suit, and said so to one another,
ignoring the twenty women more daringly clad but less perilously
beautiful. Could one have winnowed out of the souls of these
disapproving ones what lay at bottom of their condemnation of her
suit, it would have been found to be the sex-jealous thought: THAT
BEAUTY. It was not fair to them. What chance had they in the
conquering of males with so dangerous a rival in the foreground?

They were justified. As Stanley Patterson said to his wife, where
the two of them lolled wet in the sand by the tiny fresh-water
stream that the Bartons waded in order to gain the Outrigger Club

"Lord god of models and marvels, behold them! My dear, did you
ever see two such legs on one small woman! Look at the roundness
and taperingness. They're boy's legs. I've seen featherweights go
into the ring with legs like those. And they're all-woman's legs,
too. Never mistake them in the world. The arc of the front line
of that upper leg! And the balanced adequate fullness at the back!
And the way the opposing curves slender in to the knee that IS a
knee! Makes my fingers itch. Wish I had some clay right now."

"It's a true human knee," his wife concurred, no less breathlessly;
for, like her husband, she was a sculptor. "Look at the joint of
it working under the skin. It's got form, and blessedly is not
covered by a bag of fat." She paused to sigh, thinking of her own
knees. "It's correct, and beautiful, and dainty. Charm! If ever
I beheld the charm of flesh, it is now. I wonder who she is."

Stanley Patterson, gazing ardently, took up his half of the chorus.

"Notice that the round muscle-pads on the inner sides that make
most women appear knock-kneed are missing. They're boy's legs,
firm and sure--"

"And sweet woman's legs, soft and round," his wife hastened to
balance. "And look, Stanley! See how she walks on the balls of
her feet. It makes her seem light as swan's down. Each step seems
just a little above the earth, and each other step seems just a
little higher above until you get the impression she is flying, or
just about to rise and begin flying . . . "

So Stanley and Mrs. Patterson. But they were artists, with eyes
therefore unlike the next batteries of human eyes Ida Barton was
compelled to run, and that laired on the Outrigger lanais
(verandas) and in the hau-tree shade of the closely adjoining
seaside. The majority of the Outrigger audience was composed, not
of tourist guests, but of club members and old-timers in Hawaii.
And even the old-times women gasped.

"It's positively indecent," said Mrs. Hanley Black to her husband,
herself a too-stout-in-the-middle matron of forty-five, who had
been born in the Hawaiian islands, and who had never heard of

Hanley Black surveyed his wife's criminal shapelessness and
voluminousness of antediluvian, New-England swimming dress with a
withering, contemplative eye. They had been married a sufficient
number of years for him frankly to utter his judgment.

"That strange woman's suit makes your own look indecent. You
appear as a creature shameful, under a grotesqueness of apparel
striving to hide some secret awfulness."

"She carries her body like a Spanish dancer," Mrs. Patterson said
to her husband, for the pair of them had waded the little stream in
pursuit of the vision.

"By George, she does," Stanley Patterson concurred. "Reminds me of
Estrellita. Torso just well enough forward, slender waist, not too
lean in the stomach, and with muscles like some lad boxer's
armouring that stomach to fearlessness. She has to have them to
carry herself that way and to balance the back muscles. See that
muscled curve of the back! It's Estrellita's."

"How tall would you say?" his wife queried.

"There she deceives," was the appraised answer. "She might be
five-feet-one, or five-feet-three or four. It's that way she has
of walking that you described as almost about to fly."

"Yes, that's it," Mrs. Patterson concurred. "It's her energy, her
seemingness of being on tip toe with rising vitality."

Stanley Patterson considered for a space.

"That's it," he enounced. "She IS a little thing. I'll give her
five-two in her stockings. And I'll weigh her a mere one hundred
and ten, or eight, or fifteen at the outside."

"She won't weigh a hundred and ten," his wife declared with

"And with her clothes on, plus her carriage (which is builded of
her vitality and will), I'll wager she'd never impress any one with
her smallness."

"I know her type," his wife nodded. "You meet her out, and you
have the sense that, while not exactly a fine large woman, she's a
whole lot larger than the average. And now, age?"

"I'll give you best there," he parried.

"She might be twenty-five, she might be twenty-eight . . . "

But Stanley Patterson had impolitely forgotten to listen.

"It's not her legs alone," he cried on enthusiastically. "It's the
all of her. Look at the delicacy of that forearm. And the swell
of line to the shoulder. And that biceps! It's alive. Dollars to
drowned kittens she can flex a respectable knot of it . . . "

No woman, much less an Ida Barton, could have been unconscious of
the effect she was producing along Waikiki Beach. Instead of
making her happy in the small vanity way, it irritated her.

"The cats," she laughed to her husband. "And to think I was born
here an almost even third of a century ago! But they weren't nasty
then. Maybe because there weren't any tourists. Why, Lee, I
learned to swim right here on this beach in front of the Outrigger.
We used to come out with daddy for vacations and for week-ends and
sort of camp out in a grass house that stood right where the
Outrigger ladies serve tea now. And centipedes fell out of the
thatch on us, while we slept, and we all ate poi and opihis and raw
aku, and nobody wore much of anything for the swimming and
squidding, and there was no real road to town. I remember times of
big rain when it was so flooded we had to go in by canoe, out
through the reef and in by Honolulu Harbour."

"Remember," Lee Barton added, "it was just about that time that the
youngster that became me arrived here for a few weeks' stay on our
way around. I must have seen you on the beach at that very time--
one of the kiddies that swam like fishes. Why, merciful me, the
women here were all riding cross-saddle, and that was long before
the rest of the social female world outgrew its immodesty and came
around to sitting simultaneously on both sides of a horse. I
learned to swim on the beach here at that time myself. You and I
may even have tried body-surfing on the same waves, or I may have
splashed a handful of water into your mouth and been rewarded by
your sticking out your tongue at me--"

Interrupted by an audible gasp of shock from a spinster-appearing
female sunning herself hard by and angularly in the sand in a
swimming suit monstrously unbeautiful, Lee Barton was aware of an
involuntary and almost perceptible stiffening on the part of his

"I smile with pleasure," he told her. "It serves only to make your
valiant little shoulders the more valiant. It may make you self-
conscious, but it likewise makes you absurdly self-confident."

For, be it known in advance, Lee Barton was a super-man and Ida
Barton a super-woman--or at least they were personalities so
designated by the cub book-reviewers, flat-floor men and women, and
scholastically emasculated critics, who from across the dreary
levels of their living can descry no glorious humans over-topping
their horizons. These dreary folk, echoes of the dead past and
importunate and self-elected pall-bearers for the present and
future, proxy-livers of life and vicarious sensualists that they
are in a eunuch sort of way, insist, since their own selves,
environments, and narrow agitations of the quick are mediocre and
commonplace, that no man or woman can rise above the mediocre and

Lacking gloriousness in themselves, they deny gloriousness to all
mankind; too cowardly for whimsy and derring-do, they assert whimsy
and derring-do ceased at the very latest no later than the middle
ages; flickering little tapers themselves, their feeble eyes are
dazzled to unseeingness of the flaming conflagrations of other
souls that illumine their skies. Possessing power in no greater
quantity than is the just due of pygmies, they cannot conceive of
power greater in others than in themselves. In those days there
were giants; but, as their mouldy books tell them, the giants are
long since passed, and only the bones of them remain. Never having
seen the mountains, there are no mountains.

In the mud of their complacently perpetuated barnyard pond, they
assert that no bright-browed, bright-apparelled shining figures can
be outside of fairy books, old histories, and ancient
superstitions. Never having seen the stars, they deny the stars.
Never having glimpsed the shining ways nor the mortals that tread
them, they deny the existence of the shinning ways as well as the
existence of the high-bright mortals who adventure along the
shining ways. The narrow pupils of their eyes the centre of the
universe, they image the universe in terms of themselves, of their
meagre personalities make pitiful yardsticks with which to measure
the high-bright souls, saying: "Thus long are all souls, and no
longer; it is impossible that there should exist greater-statured
souls than we are, and our gods know that we are great of stature."

But all, or nearly all on the beach, forgave Ida Barton her suit
and form when she took the water. A touch of her hand on her
husband's arm, indication and challenge in her laughing face, and
the two ran as one for half a dozen paces and leapt as one from the
hard-wet sand of the beach, their bodies describing flat arches of
flight ere the water was entered.

There are two surfs at Waikiki: the big, bearded man surf that
roars far out beyond the diving-stage; the smaller, gentler,
wahine, or woman, surf that breaks upon the shore itself. Here is
a great shallowness, where one may wade a hundred or several
hundred feet to get beyond depth. Yet, with a good surf on
outside, the wahine surf can break three or four feet, so that,
close in against the shore, the hard-sand bottom may be three feet
or three inches under the welter of surface foam. To dive from the
beach into this, to fly into the air off racing feet, turn in mid-
flight so that heels are up and head is down, and, so to enter the
water head-first, requires wisdom of waves, timing of waves, and a
trained deftness in entering such unstable depths of water with
pretty, unapprehensive, head-first cleavage, while at the same time
making the shallowest possible of dives.

It is a sweet, and pretty, and daring trick, not learned in a day,
nor learned at all without many a milder bump on the bottom or
close shave of fractured skull or broken neck. Here, on the spot
where the Bartons so beautifully dived, two days before a Stanford
track athlete had broken his neck. His had been an error in timing
the rise and subsidence of a wahine wave.

"A professional," Mrs. Hanley Black sneered to her husband at Ida
Barton's feat.

"Some vaudeville tank girl," was one of the similar remarks with
which the women in the shade complacently reassured one another--
finding, by way of the weird mental processes of self-illusion, a
great satisfaction in the money caste-distinction between one who
worked for what she ate and themselves who did not work for what
they ate.

It was a day of heavy surf on Waikiki. In the wahine surf it was
boisterous enough for good swimmers. But out beyond, in the
kanaka, or man, surf, no one ventured. Not that the score or more
of young surf-riders loafing on the beach could not venture there,
or were afraid to venture there; but because their biggest
outrigger canoes would have been swamped, and their surf-boards
would have been overwhelmed in the too-immense over-topple and
down-fall of the thundering monsters. They themselves, most of
them, could have swum, for man can swim through breakers which
canoes and surf-boards cannot surmount; but to ride the backs of
the waves, rise out of the foam to stand full length in the air
above, and with heels winged with the swiftness of horses to fly
shoreward, was what made sport for them and brought them out from
Honolulu to Waikiki.

The captain of Number Nine canoe, himself a charter member of the
Outrigger and a many-times medallist in long-distance swimming, had
missed seeing the Bartons take the water, and first glimpsed them
beyond the last festoon of bathers clinging to the life-lines.
From then on, from his vantage of the upstairs lanai, he kept his
eyes on them. When they continued out past the steel diving-stage
where a few of the hardiest divers disported, he muttered vexedly
under his breath "damned malahinis!"

Now malahini means new-comer, tender-foot; and, despite the
prettiness of their stroke, he knew that none except malahinis
would venture into the racing channel beyond the diving-stage.
Hence the vexation of the captain of Number Nine. He descended to
the beach, with a low word here and there picked a crew of the
strongest surfers, and returned to the lanai with a pair of
binoculars. Quite casually, the crew, six of them, carried Number
Nine to the water's edge, saw paddles and everything in order for a
quick launching, and lolled about carelessly on the sand. They
were guilty of not advertising that anything untoward was afoot,
although they did steal glances up to their captain straining
through the binoculars.

What made the channel was the fresh-water stream. Coral cannot
abide fresh water. What made the channel race was the immense
shoreward surf-fling of the sea. Unable to remain flung up on the
beach, pounded ever back toward the beach by the perpetual
shoreward rush of the kanaka surf, the up-piled water escaped to
the sea by way of the channel and in the form of under-tow along
the bottom under the breakers. Even in the channel the waves broke
big, but not with the magnificent bigness of terror as to right and
left. So it was that a canoe or a comparatively strong swimmer
could dare the channel. But the swimmer must be a strong swimmer
indeed, who could successfully buck the current in. Wherefore the
captain of Number Nine continued his vigil and his muttered
damnation of malahinis, disgustedly sure that these two malahinis
would compel him to launch Number Nine and go after them when they
found the current too strong to swim in against. As for himself,
caught in their predicament, he would have veered to the left
toward Diamond Head and come in on the shoreward fling of the
kanaka surf. But then, he was no one other than himself, a bronze.
Hercules of twenty-two, the whitest blond man ever burned to
mahogany brown by a sub-tropic sun, with body and lines and muscles
very much resembling the wonderful ones of Duke Kahanamoku. In a
hundred yards the world champion could invariably beat him a second
flat; but over a distance of miles he could swim circles around the

No one of the many hundreds on the beach, with the exception of
till captain and his crew, knew that the Bartons had passed beyond
the diving-stage. All who had watched them start to swim out had
taken for granted that they had joined the others on the stage.

The captain suddenly sprang upon the railing of the lanai, held on
to a pillar with one hand, and again picked up the two specks of
heads through the glasses. His surprise was verified. The two
fools had veered out of the channel toward Diamond Head, and were
directly seaward of the kanaka surf. Worse, as he looked, they
were starting to come in through the kanaka surf.

He glanced down quickly to the canoe, and even as he glanced, and
as the apparently loafing members quietly arose and took their
places by the canoe for the launching, he achieved judgment.
Before the canoe could get abreast in the channel, all would be
over with the man and woman. And, granted that it could get
abreast of them, the moment it ventured into the kanaka surf it
would be swamped, and a sorry chance would the strongest swimmer of
them have of rescuing a person pounding to pulp on the bottom under
the smashes of the great bearded ones.

The captain saw the first kanaka wave, large of itself, but small
among its fellows, lift seaward behind the two speck-swimmers.
Then he saw them strike a crawl-stroke, side by side, faces
downward, full-lengths out-stretched on surface, their feet
sculling like propellers and their arms flailing in rapid over-hand
strokes, as they spurted speed to approximate the speed of the
overtaking wave, so that, when overtaken, they would become part of
the wave, and travel with it instead of being left behind it.
Thus, if they were coolly skilled enough to ride outstretched on
the surface and the forward face of the crest instead of being
flung and crumpled or driven head-first to bottom, they would dash
shoreward, not propelled by their own energy, but by the energy of
the wave into which they had become incorporated.

And they did it! "SOME swimmers!" the captain of Number Nine made
announcement to himself under his breath. He continued to gaze
eagerly. The best of swimmers could hold such a wave for several
hundred feet. But could they? If they did, they would be a third
of the way through the perils they had challenged. But, not
unexpected by him, the woman failed first, her body not presenting
the larger surfaces that her husband's did. At the end of seventy
feet she was overwhelmed, being driven downward and out of sight by
the tons of water in the over-topple. Her husband followed and
both appeared swimming beyond the wave they had lost.

The captain saw the next wave first. "If they try to body-surf on
that, good night," he muttered; for he knew the swimmer did not
live who would tackle it. Beardless itself, it was father of all
bearded ones, a mile long, rising up far out beyond where the
others rose, towering its solid bulk higher and higher till it
blotted out the horizon, and was a giant among its fellows ere its
beard began to grow as it thinned its crest to the over-curl.

But it was evident that the man and woman knew big water. No
racing stroke did they make in advance of the wave. The captain
inwardly applauded as he saw them turn and face the wave and wait
for it. It was a picture that of all on the beach he alone saw,
wonderfully distinct and vivid in the magnification of the
binoculars. The wall of the wave was truly a wall, mounting, ever
mounting, and thinning, far up, to a transparency of the colours of
the setting sun shooting athwart all the green and blue of it. The
green thinned to lighter green that merged blue even as he looked.
But it was a blue gem-brilliant with innumerable sparkle-points of
rose and gold flashed through it by the sun. On and up, to the
sprouting beard of growing crest, the colour orgy increased until
it was a kaleidoscopic effervescence of transfusing rainbows.

Against the face of the wave showed the heads of the man and woman
like two sheer specks. Specks they were, of the quick, adventuring
among the blind elemental forces, daring the titanic buffets of the
sea. The weight of the down-fall of that father of waves, even
then imminent above their heads, could stun a man or break the
fragile bones of a woman. The captain of Number Nine was
unconscious that he was holding his breath. He was oblivious of
the man. It was the woman. Did she lose her head or courage, or
misplay her muscular part for a moment, she could be hurled a
hundred feet by that giant buffet and left wrenched, helpless, and
breathless to be pulped on the coral bottom and sucked out by the
undertow to be battened on by the fish-sharks too cowardly to take
their human meat alive.

Why didn't they dive deep, and with plenty of time, the captain
wanted to know, instead of waiting till the last tick of safety and
the first tick of peril were one? He saw the woman turn her head
and laugh to the man, and his head turn in response. Above them,
overhanging them, as they mounted the body of the wave, the beard,
creaming white, then frothing into rose and gold, tossed upward
into a spray of jewels. The crisp off-shore trade-wind caught the
beard's fringes and blew them backward and upward yards and yards
into the air. It was then, side by side, and six feet apart, that
they dived straight under the over-curl even then disintegrating to
chaos and falling. Like insects disappearing into the convolutions
of some gorgeous gigantic orchid, so they disappeared, as beard and
crest and spray and jewels, in many tons, crashed and thundered
down just where they had disappeared the moment before, but where
they were no longer.

Beyond the wave they had gone through, they finally showed, side by
side, still six feet apart, swimming shoreward with a steady stroke
until the next wave should make them body-surf it or face and
pierce it. The captain of Number Nine waved his hand to his crew
in dismissal, and sat down on the lanai railing, feeling vaguely
tired and still watching the swimmers through his glasses.

"Whoever and whatever they are," he murmured, "they aren't
malahinis. They simply can't be malahinis."

Not all days, and only on rare days, is the surf heavy at Waikiki;
and, in the days that followed, Ida and Lee Barton, much in
evidence on the beach and in the water, continued to arouse
disparaging interest in the breasts of the tourist ladies, although
the Outrigger captains ceased from worrying about them in the
water. They would watch the pair swim out and disappear in the
blue distance, and they might, or might not, chance to see them
return hours afterward. The point was that the captains did not
bother about their returning, because they knew they would return.

The reason for this was that they were not malahinis. They
belonged. In other words, or, rather, in the potent Islands-word,
they were kamaaina. Kamaaina men and women of forty remembered Lee
Barton from their childhood days, when, in truth, he had been a
malahini, though a very young specimen. Since that time, in the
course of various long stays, he had earned the kamaaina

As for Ida Barton, young matrons of her own age (privily wondering
how she managed to keep her figure) met her with arms around and
hearty Hawaiian kisses. Grandmothers must have her to tea and
reminiscence in old gardens of forgotten houses which the tourist
never sees. Less than a week after her arrival, the aged Queen
Liliuokalani must send for her and chide her for neglect. And old
men, on cool and balmy lanais, toothlessly maundered to her about
Grandpa Captain Wilton, of before their time, but whose wild and
lusty deeds and pranks, told them by their fathers, they remembered
with gusto--Grandpa Captain Wilton, or David Wilton, or "All Hands"
as the Hawaiians of that remote day had affectionately renamed him.
All Hands, ex-Northwest trader, the godless, beach-combing,
clipper-shipless and ship-wrecked skipper who had stood on the
beach at Kailua and welcomed the very first of missionaries, off
the brig Thaddeus, in the year 1820, and who, not many years later,
made a scandalous runaway marriage with one of their daughters,
quieted down and served the Kamehamehas long and conservatively as
Minister of the Treasury and Chief of the Customs, and acted as
intercessor and mediator between the missionaries on one side and
the beach-combing crowd, the trading crowd, and the Hawaiian chiefs
on the variously shifting other side.

Nor was Lee Barton neglected. In the midst of the dinners and
lunches, the luaus (Hawaiian feasts) and poi-suppers, and swims and
dances in aloha (love) to both of them, his time and inclination
were claimed by the crowd of lively youngsters of old Kohala days
who had come to know that they possessed digestions and various
other internal functions, and who had settled down to somewhat of
sedateness, who roistered less, and who played bridge much, and
went to baseball often. Also, similarly oriented, was the old
poker crowd of Lee Barton's younger days, which crowd played for
more consistent stakes and limits, while it drank mineral water and
orange juice and timed the final round of "Jacks" never later than

Appeared, through all the rout of entertainment, Sonny Grandison,
Hawaii-born, Hawaii-prominent, who, despite his youthful forty-one
years, had declined the proffered governorship of the Territory.
Also, he had ducked Ida Barton in the surf at Waikiki a quarter of
a century before, and, still earlier, vacationing on his father's
great Lakanaii cattle ranch, had hair-raisingly initiated her, and
various other tender tots of five to seven years of age, into his
boys' band, "The Cannibal Head-Hunters" or "The Terrors of
Lakanaii." Still farther, his Grandpa Grandison and her Grandpa
Wilton had been business and political comrades in the old days.

Educated at Harvard, he had become for a time a world-wandering
scientist and social favourite. After serving in the Philippines,
he had accompanied various expeditions through Malaysia, South
America, and Africa in the post of official entomologist. At
forty-one he still retained his travelling commission from the
Smithsonian Institution, while his friends insisted that he knew
more about sugar "bugs" than the expert entomologists employed by
him and his fellow sugar planters in the Experiment Station.
Bulking large at home, he was the best-known representative of
Hawaii abroad. It was the axiom among travelled Hawaii folk, that
wherever over the world they might mention they were from Hawaii,
the invariable first question asked of them was: "And do you know
Sonny Grandison?"

In brief, he was a wealthy man's son who had made good. His
father's million he inherited he had increased to ten millions, at
the same time keeping up his father's benefactions and endowments
and overshadowing them with his own.

But there was still more to him. A ten years' widower, without
issue, he was the most eligible and most pathetically sought-after
marriageable man in all Hawaii. A clean-and-strong-featured
brunette, tall, slenderly graceful, with the lean runner's stomach,
always fit as a fiddle, a distinguished figure in any group, the
greying of hair over his temples (in juxtaposition to his young-
textured skin and bright vital eyes) made him appear even more
distinguished. Despite the social demands upon his time, and
despite his many committee meetings, and meetings of boards of
directors and political conferences, he yet found time and space to
captain the Lakanaii polo team to more than occasional victory, and
on his own island of Lakanaii vied with the Baldwins of Maui in the
breeding and importing of polo ponies.

Given a markedly strong and vital man and woman, when a second
equally markedly strong and vital man enters the scene, the peril
of a markedly strong and vital triangle of tragedy becomes
imminent. Indeed, such a triangle of tragedy may be described, in
the terminology of the flat-floor folk, as "super" and
"impossible." Perhaps, since within himself originated the desire
and the daring, it was Sonny Grandison who first was conscious of
the situation, although he had to be quick to anticipate the
sensing intuition of a woman like Ida Barton. At any rate, and
undebatable, the last of the three to attain awareness was Lee
Barton, who promptly laughed away what was impossible to laugh

His first awareness, he quickly saw, was so belated that half his
hosts and hostesses were already aware. Casting back, he realized
that for some time any affair to which he and his wife were invited
found Sonny Grandison likewise invited. Wherever the two had been,
the three had been. To Kahuku or to Haleiwa, to Ahuimanu, or to
Kaneohe for the coral gardens, or to Koko Head for a picnicking and
a swimming, somehow it invariably happened that Ida rode in Sonny's
car or that both rode in somebody's car. Dances, luaus, dinners,
and outings were all one; the three of them were there.

Having become aware, Lee Barton could not fail to register Ida's
note of happiness ever rising when in the same company with Sonny
Grandison, and her willingness to ride in the same cars with him,
to dance with him, or to sit out dances with him. Most convincing
of all, was Sonny Grandison himself. Forty-one, strong,
experienced, his face could no more conceal what he felt than could
be concealed a lad of twenty's ordinary lad's love. Despite the
control and restraint of forty years, he could no more mask his
soul with his face than could Lee Barton, of equal years, fail to
read that soul through so transparent a face. And often, to other
women, talking, when the topic of Sonny came up, Lee Barton heard
Ida express her fondness for Sonny, or her almost too-eloquent
appreciation of his polo-playing, his work in the world, and his
general all-rightness of achievement.

About Sonny's state of mind and heart Lee had no doubt. It was
patent enough for the world to read. But how about Ida, his own
dozen-years' wife of a glorious love-match? He knew that woman,
ever the mysterious sex, was capable any time of unguessed mystery.
Did her frank comradeliness with Grandison token merely frank
comradeliness and childhood contacts continued and recrudesced into
adult years? or did it hide, in woman's subtler and more secretive
ways, a beat of heart and return of feeling that might even out-
balance what Sonny's face advertised?

Lee Barton was not happy. A dozen years of utmost and post-nuptial
possession of his wife had proved to him, so far as he was
concerned, that she was his one woman in the world, and that the
woman was unborn, much less unglimpsed, who could for a moment
compete with her in his heart, his soul, and his brain. Impossible
of existence was the woman who could lure him away from her, much
less over-bid her in the myriad, continual satisfactions she
rendered him.

Was this, then, he asked himself, the dreaded contingency of all
fond Benedicts, to be her first "affair?" He tormented himself
with the ever iterant query, and, to the astonishment of the
reformed Kohala poker crowd of wise and middle-aged youngsters as
well as to the reward of the keen scrutiny of the dinner-giving and
dinner-attending women, he began to drink King William instead of
orange juice, to bully up the poker limit, to drive of nights his
own car more than rather recklessly over the Pali and Diamond Head
roads, and, ere dinner or lunch or after, to take more than an
average man's due of old-fashioned cocktails and Scotch highs.

All the years of their marriage she had been ever complaisant
toward him in his card-playing. This complaisance, to him, had
become habitual. But now that doubt had arisen, it seemed to him
that he noted an eagerness in her countenancing of his poker
parties. Another point he could not avoid noting was that Sonny
Grandison was missed by the poker and bridge crowds. He seemed to
be too busy. Now where was Sonny, while he, Lee Barton, was
playing? Surely not always at committee and boards of directors
meetings. Lee Barton made sure of this. He easily learned that at
such times Sonny was more than usually wherever Ida chanced to be--
at dances, or dinners, or moonlight swimming parties, or, the very
afternoon he had flatly pleaded rush of affairs as an excuse not to
join Lee and Langhorne Jones and Jack Holstein in a bridge battle
at the Pacific Club--that afternoon he had played bridge at Dora
Niles' home with three women, one of whom was Ida.

Returning, once, from an afternoon's inspection of the great dry-
dock building at Pearl Harbour, Lee Barton, driving his machine
against time, in order to have time to dress for dinner, passed
Sonny's car; and Sonny's one passenger, whom he was taking home,
was Ida. One night, a week later, during which interval he had
played no cards, he came home at eleven from a stag dinner at the
University Club, just preceding Ida's return from the Alstone poi
supper and dance. And Sonny had driven her home. Major Fanklin
and his wife had first been dropped off by them, they mentioned, at
Fort Shafter, on the other side of town and miles away from the

Lee Barton, after all mere human man, as a human man unfailingly
meeting Sonny in all friendliness, suffered poignantly in secret.
Not even Ida dreamed that he suffered; and she went her merry,
careless, laughing way, secure in her own heart, although a trifle
perplexed at her husband's increase in number of pre-dinner

Apparently, as always, she had access to almost all of him; but now
she did not have access to his unguessable torment, nor to the long
parallel columns of mental book-keeping running their totalling
balances from moment to moment, day and night, in his brain. In
one column were her undoubtable spontaneous expressions of her
usual love and care for him, her many acts of comfort-serving and
of advice-asking and advice-obeying. In another column, in which
the items increasingly were entered, were her expressions and acts
which he could not but classify as dubious. Were they what they
seemed? Or were they of duplicity compounded, whether deliberately
or unconsciously? The third column, longest of all, totalling most
in human heart-appraisements, was filled with items relating
directly or indirectly to her and Sonny Grandison. Lee Barton did
not deliberately do this book-keeping. He could not help it. He
would have liked to avoid it. But in his fairly ordered mind the
items of entry, of themselves and quite beyond will on his part,
took their places automatically in their respective columns.

In his distortion of vision, magnifying apparently trivial detail
which half the time he felt he magnified, he had recourse to
MacIlwaine, to whom he had once rendered a very considerable
service. MacIlwaine was chief of detectives. "Is Sonny Grandison
a womaning man?" Barton had demanded. MacIlwaine had said nothing.
"Then he is a womaning man," had been Barton's declaration. And
still the chief of detectives had said nothing.

Briefly afterward, ere he destroyed it as so much dynamite, Lee
Barton went over the written report. Not bad, not really bad, was
the summarization; but not too good after the death of his wife ten
years before. That had been a love-match almost notorious in
Honolulu society, because of the completeness of infatuation, not
only before, but after marriage, and up to her tragic death when
her horse fell with her a thousand feet off Nahiku Trail. And not
for a long time afterward, MacIlwaine stated, had Grandison been
guilty of interest in any woman. And whatever it was, it had been
unvaryingly decent. Never a hint of gossip or scandal; and the
entire community had come to accept that he was a one-woman man,
and would never marry again. What small affairs MacIlwaine had
jotted down he insisted that Sonny Grandison did not dream were
known by another person outside the principals themselves.

Barton glanced hurriedly, almost shamedly, at the several names and
incidents, and knew surprise ere he committed the document to the
flames. At any rate, Sonny had been most discreet. As he stared
at the ashes, Barton pondered how much of his own younger life,
from his bachelor days, resided in old MacIlwaine's keeping. Next,
Barton found himself blushing, to himself, at himself. If
MacIlwaine knew so much of the private lives of community figures,
then had not he, her husband and protector and shielder, planted in
MacIlwaine's brain a suspicion of Ida?

"Anything on your mind?" Lee asked his wife that evening, as he
stood holding her wrap while she put the last touches to her

This was in line with their old and successful compact of
frankness, and he wondered, while he waited her answer, why he had
refrained so long from asking her.

"No," she smiled. "Nothing particular. Afterwards . . . perhaps .
. . "

She became absorbed in gazing at herself in the mirror, while she
dabbed some powder on her nose and dabbed it off again.

"You know my way, Lee," she added, after the pause. "It takes me
time to gather things together in my own way--when there are things
to gather; but when I do, you always get them. And often there's
nothing in them after all, I find, and so you are saved the
nuisance of them."

She held out her arms for him to place the wrap about her--her
valiant little arms that were so wise and steel-like in battling
with the breakers, and that yet were such just mere-woman's arms,
round and warm and white, delicious as a woman's arms should be,
with the canny muscles, masking under soft-roundness of contour and
fine smooth skin, capable of being flexed at will by the will of

He pondered her, with a grievous hurt and yearning of appreciation-
-so delicate she seemed, so porcelain-fragile that a strong man
could snap her in the crook of his arm.

"We must hurry!" she cried, as he lingered in the adjustment of the
flimsy wrap over her flimsy-prettiness of gown. "We'll be late.
And if it showers up Nuuanu, putting the curtains up will make us
miss the second dance."

He made a note to observe with whom she danced that second dance,
as she preceded him across the room to the door; while at the same
time he pleasured his eye in what he had so often named to himself
as the spirit-proud flesh-proud walk of her.

"You don't feel I'm neglecting you in my too-much poker?" he tried
again, by indirection.

"Mercy, no! You know I just love you to have your card orgies.
They're tonic for you. And you're so much nicer about them, so
much more middle-aged. Why, it's almost years since you sat up
later than one."

It did not shower up Nuuanu, and every overhead star was out in a
clear trade-wind sky. In time at the Inchkeeps' for the second
dance, Lee Barton observed that his wife danced it with Grandison--
which, of itself, was nothing unusual, but which became immediately
a registered item in Barton's mental books.

An hour later, depressed and restless, declining to make one of a
bridge foursome in the library and escaping from a few young
matrons, he strolled out into the generous grounds. Across the
lawn, at the far edge, he came upon the hedge of night-blooming
cereus. To each flower, opening after dark and fading, wilting,
perishing with the dawn, this was its one night of life. The
great, cream-white blooms, a foot in diameter and more, lily-like
and wax-like, white beacons of attraction in the dark, penetrating
and seducing the night with their perfume, were busy and beautiful
with their brief glory of living.

But the way along the hedge was populous with humans, two by two,
male and female, stealing out between the dances or strolling the
dances out, while they talked in low soft voices and gazed upon the
wonder of flower-love. From the lanai drifted the love-caressing
strains of "Hanalei" sung by the singing boys. Vaguely Lee Barton
remembered--perhaps it was from some Maupassant story--the abbe,
obsessed by the theory that behind all things were the purposes of
God and perplexed so to interpret the night, who discovered at the
last that the night was ordained for love.

The unanimity of the night as betrayed by flowers and humans was a
hurt to Barton. He circled back toward the house along a winding
path that skirted within the edge of shadow of the monkey-pods and
algaroba trees. In the obscurity, where his path curved away into
the open again, he looked across a space of a few feet where, on
another path in the shadow, stood a pair in each other's arms. The
impassioned low tones of the man had caught his ear and drawn his
eyes, and at the moment of his glance, aware of his presence, the
voice ceased, and the two remained immobile, furtive, in each
other's arms.

He continued his walk, sombred by the thought that in the gloom of
the trees was the next progression from the openness of the sky
over those who strolled the night-flower hedge. Oh, he knew the
game when of old no shadow was too deep, no ruse of concealment too
furtive, to veil a love moment. After all, humans were like
flowers, he meditated. Under the radiance from the lighted lanai,
ere entering the irritating movement of life again to which he
belonged, he paused to stare, scarcely seeing, at a flaunt of
display of scarlet double-hibiscus blooms. And abruptly all that
he was suffering, all that he had just observed, from the night-
blooming hedge and the two-by-two love-murmuring humans to the pair
like thieves in each other's arms, crystallized into a parable of
life enunciated by the day-blooming hibiscus upon which he gazed,
now at the end of its day. Bursting into its bloom after the dawn,
snow-white, warming to pink under the hours of sun, and quickening
to scarlet with the dark from which its beauty and its being would
never emerge, it seemed to him that it epitomized man's life and

What further connotations he might have drawn he was never to know;
for from behind, in the direction of the algarobas and monkey-pods,
came Ida's unmistakable serene and merry laugh. He did not look,
being too afraid of what he knew he would see, but retreated
hastily, almost stumbling, up the steps to the lanai. Despite that
he knew what he was to see, when he did turn his head and beheld
his wife and Sonny, the pair he had seen thieving in the dark, he
went suddenly dizzy, and paused, supporting himself with a hand
against a pillar, and smiling vacuously at the grouped singing boys
who were pulsing the sensuous night into richer sensuousness with
their honi kaua wiki-wiki refrain.

The next moment he had wet his lips with his tongue, controlled his
face and flesh, and was bantering with Mrs. Inchkeep. But he could
not waste time, or he would have to encounter the pair he could
hear coming up the steps behind him.

"I feel as if I had just crossed the Great Thirst," he told his
hostess, "and that nothing less than a high-ball will preserve me."

She smiled permission and nodded toward the smoking lanai, where
they found him talking sugar politics with the oldsters when the
dance began to break up.

Quite a party of half a dozen machines were starting for Waikiki,
and he found himself billeted to drive the Leslies and Burnstons
home, though he did not fail to note that Ida sat in the driver's
seat with Sonny in Sonny's car. Thus, she was home ahead of him
and brushing her hair when he arrived. The parting of bed-going
was usual, on the face of it, although he was almost rigid in his
successful effort for casualness as he remembered whose lips had
pressed hers last before his.

Was, then, woman the utterly unmoral creature as depicted by the
German pessimists? he asked himself, as he tossed under his reading
lamp, unable to sleep or read. At the end of an hour he was out of
bed, and into his medicine case. Five grains of opium he took
straight. An hour later, afraid of his thoughts and the prospect
of a sleepless night, he took another grain. At one-hour intervals
he twice repeated the grain dosage. But so slow was the action of
the drug that dawn had broken ere his eyes closed.

At seven he was awake again, dry-mouthed, feeling stupid and
drowsy, yet incapable of dozing off for more than several minutes
at a time. He abandoned the idea of sleep, ate breakfast in bed,
and devoted himself to the morning papers and the magazines. But
the drug effect held, and he continued briefly to doze through his
eating and reading. It was the same when he showered and dressed,
and, though the drug had brought him little forgetfulness during
the night, he felt grateful for the dreaming lethargy with which it
possessed him through the morning.

It was when his wife arose, her serene and usual self, and came in
to him, smiling and roguish, delectable in her kimono, that the
whim-madness of the opium in his system seized upon him. When she
had clearly and simply shown that she had nothing to tell him under
their ancient compact of frankness, he began building his opium
lie. Asked how he had slept, he replied:

"Miserably. Twice I was routed wide awake with cramps in my feet.
I was almost too afraid to sleep again. But they didn't come back,
though my feet are sorer than blazes."

"Last year you had them," she reminded him.

"Maybe it's going to become a seasonal affliction," he smiled.
"They're not serious, but they're horrible to wake up to. They
won't come again till to-night, if they come at all, but in the
meantime I feel as if I had been bastinadoed."

In the afternoon of the same day, Lee and Ida Barton made their
shallow dive from the Outrigger beach, and went on, at a steady
stroke, past the diving-stage to the big water beyond the Kanaka
Surf. So quiet was the sea that when, after a couple of hours,
they turned and lazily started shoreward through the Kanaka Surf
they had it all to themselves. The breakers were not large enough
to be exciting, and the last languid surf-boarders and canoeists
had gone in to shore. Suddenly, Lee turned over on his back.

"What is it?" Ida called from twenty feet away.

"My foot--cramp," he answered calmly, though the words were twisted
out through clenched jaws of control.

The opium still had its dreamy way with him, and he was without
excitement. He watched her swimming toward him with so steady and
unperturbed a stroke that he admired her own self-control, although
at the same time doubt stabbed him with the thought that it was
because she cared so little for him, or, rather, so much
immediately more for Grandison.

"Which foot?" she asked, as she dropped her legs down and began
treading water beside him.

"The left one--ouch! Now it's both of them."

He doubled his knees, as if involuntarily raised his head and chest
forward out of the water, and sank out of sight in the down-wash of
a scarcely cresting breaker. Under no more than a brief several
seconds, he emerged spluttering and stretched out on his back

Almost he grinned, although he managed to turn the grin into a
pain-grimace, for his simulated cramp had become real. At least in
one foot it had, and the muscles convulsed painfully.

"The right is the worst," he muttered, as she evinced her intention
of laying hands on his cramp and rubbing it out. "But you'd better
keep away. I've had cramps before, and I know I'm liable to grab
you if these get any worse."

Instead, she laid her hands on the hard-knotted muscles, and began
to rub and press and bend.

"Please," he gritted through his teeth. "You must keep away. Just
let me lie out here--I'll bend the ankle and toe-joints in the
opposite ways and make it pass. I've done it before and know how
to work it."

She released him, remaining close beside him and easily treading
water, her eyes upon his face to judge the progress of his own
attempt at remedy. But Lee Barton deliberately bent joints and
tensed muscles in the directions that would increase the cramp. In
his bout the preceding year with the affliction, he had learned,
lying in bed and reading when seized, to relax and bend the cramps
away without even disturbing his reading. But now he did the thing
in reverse, intensifying the cramp, and, to his startled delight,
causing it to leap into his right calf. He cried out with anguish,
apparently lost control of himself, attempted to sit up, and was
washed under by the next wave.

He came up, spluttered, spread-eagled on the surface, and had his
knotted calf gripped by the strong fingers of both Ida's small

"It's all right," she said, while she worked. "No cramp like this
lasts very long."

"I didn't know it could be so savage," he groaned. "If only it
doesn't go higher! It makes one feel so helpless."

He gripped the biceps of both her arms in a sudden spasm,
attempting to climb out upon her as a drowning man might try to
climb out on an oar and sinking her down under him. In the
struggle under water, before he permitted her to wrench clear, her
rubber cap was torn off, and her hairpins pulled out, so that she
came up gasping for air and half-blinded by her wet-clinging hair.
Also, he was certain he had surprised her into taking in a quantity
of water.

"Keep away!" he warned, as he spread-eagled with acted

But her fingers were deep into the honest pain-wrack of his calf,
and in her he could observe no reluctance of fear.

"It's creeping up," he grunted through tight teeth, the grunt
itself a half-controlled groan.

He stiffened his whole right leg, as with another spasm, hurting
his real minor cramps, but flexing the muscles of his upper leg
into the seeming hardness of cramp.

The opium still worked in his brain, so that he could play-act
cruelly, while at the same time he appraised and appreciated her
stress of control and will that showed in her drawn face, and the
terror of death in her eyes, with beyond it and behind it, in her
eyes and through her eyes, the something more of the spirit of
courage, and higher thought, and resolution.

Still further, she did not enunciate so cheap a surrender as, "I'll
die with you." Instead, provoking his admiration, she did say,
quietly: "Relax. Sink until only your lips are out. I'll support
your head. There must be a limit to cramp. No man ever died of
cramp on land. Then in the water no strong swimmer should die of
cramp. It's bound to reach its worst and pass. We're both strong
swimmers and cool-headed--"

He distorted his face and deliberately dragged her under. But when
they emerged, still beside him, supporting his head as she
continued to tread water, she was saying:

"Relax. Take it easy. I'll hold your head up. Endure it. Live
through it. Don't fight it. Make yourself slack--slack in your
mind; and your body will slack. Yield. Remember how you taught me
to yield to the undertow."

An unusually large breaker for so mild a surf curled overhead, and
he climbed out on her again, sinking both of them under as the
wave-crest over-fell and smashed down.

"Forgive me," he mumbled through pain clenched teeth, as they drew
in their first air again. "And leave me." He spoke jerkily, with
pain-filled pauses between his sentences. "There is no need for
both of us to drown. I've got to go. It will be in my stomach, at
any moment, and then I'll drag you under, and be unable to let go
of you. Please, please, dear, keep away. One of us is enough.
You've plenty to live for."

She looked at him in reproach so deep that the last vestige of the
terror of death was gone from her eyes. It was as if she had said,
and more than if she had said: "I have only you to live for."

Then Sonny did not count with her as much as he did!--was Barton's
exultant conclusion. But he remembered her in Sonny's arms under
the monkey-pods and determined on further cruelty. Besides, it was
the lingering opium in him that suggested this cruelty. Since he
had undertaken this acid test, urged the poppy juice, then let it
be a real acid test.

He doubled up and went down, emerged, and apparently strove
frantically to stretch out in the floating position. And she did
not keep away from him.

"It's too much!" he groaned, almost screamed. "I'm losing my grip.
I've got to go. You can't save me. Keep away and save yourself."

But she was to him, striving to float his mouth clear of the salt,
saying: "It's all right. It's all right. The worst is right now.
Just endure it a minute more, and it will begin to ease."

He screamed out, doubled, seized her, and took her down with him.
And he nearly did drown her, so well did he play-act his own
drowning. But never did she lose her head nor succumb to the fear
of death so dreadfully imminent. Always, when she got her head
out, she strove to support him while she panted and gasped
encouragement in terms of: "Relax . . . Relax . . . Slack . . .
Slack out . . . At any time . . . now . . . you'll pass . . . the
worst . . . No matter how much it hurts . . . it will pass . . .
You're easier now . . . aren't you?"

And then he would put her down again, going from bad to worse--in
his ill-treatment of her; making her swallow pints of salt water,
secure in the knowledge that it would not definitely hurt her.
Sometimes they came up for brief emergences, for gasping seconds in
the sunshine on the surface, and then were under again, dragged
under by him, rolled and tumbled under by the curling breakers.

Although she struggled and tore herself from his grips, in the
times he permitted her freedom she did not attempt to swim away
from him, but, with fading strength and reeling consciousness,
invariably came to him to try to save him. When it was enough, in
his judgment, and more than enough, he grew quieter, left her
released, and stretched out on the surface.

"A-a-h," he sighed long, almost luxuriously, and spoke with pauses
for breath. "It is passing. It seems like heaven. My dear, I'm
water-logged, yet the mere absence of that frightful agony makes my
present state sheerest bliss."

She tried to gasp a reply, but could not.

"I'm all right," he assured her. "Let us float and rest up.
Stretch out, yourself, and get your wind back."

And for half an hour, side by side, on their backs, they floated in
the fairly placid Kanaka Surf. Ida Barton was the first to
announce recovery by speaking first.

"And how do you feel now, man of mine?" she asked.

"I feel as if I'd been run over by a steam-roller," he replied.
"And you, poor darling?"

"I feel I'm the happiest woman in the world. I'm so happy I could
almost cry, but I'm too happy even for that. You had me horribly
frightened for a time. I thought I was to lose you."

Lee Barton's heart pounded up. Never a mention of losing herself.
This, then, was love, and all real love, proved true--the great
love that forgot self in the loved one.

"And I'm the proudest man in the world," he told her; "because my
wife is the bravest woman in the world."

"Brave!" she repudiated. "I love you. I never knew how much, how
really much, I loved you as when I was losing you. And now let's
work for shore. I want you all alone with me, your arms around me,
while I tell you all you are to me and shall always be to me."

In another half-hour, swimming strong and steadily, they landed on
the beach and walked up the hard wet sand among the sand-loafers
and sun-baskers.

"What were the two of you doing out there?" queried one of the
Outrigger captains. "Cutting up?"

"Cutting up," Ida Barton answered with a smile.

"We're the village cut-ups, you know," was Lee Barton's assurance.

That evening, the evening's engagement cancelled, found the two, in
a big chair, in each other's arms.

"Sonny sails to-morrow noon," she announced casually and irrelevant
to anything in the conversation. "He's going out to the Malay
Coast to inspect what's been done with that lumber and rubber
company of his."

"First I've heard of his leaving us," Lee managed to say, despite
his surprise.

"I was the first to hear of it," she added. "He told me only last

"At the dance?"

She nodded.

"Rather sudden, wasn't it?"

"Very sudden." Ida withdrew herself from her husband's arms and
sat up. "And I want to talk to you about Sonny. I've never had a
real secret from you before. I didn't intend ever to tell you.
But it came to me to-day, out in the Kanaka Surf, that if we passed
out, it would be something left behind us unsaid."

She paused, and Lee, half-anticipating what was coming, did nothing
to help her, save to girdle and press her hand in his.

"Sonny rather lost his . . . his head over me," she faltered. "Of
course, you must have noticed it. And . . . and last night, he
wanted me to run away with him. Which isn't my confession at all .
. . "

Still Lee Barton waited.

"My confession," she resumed, "is that I wasn't the least bit angry
with him--only sorrowful and regretful. My confession is that I
rather slightly, only rather more than slightly, lost my own head.
That was why I was kind and gentle to him last night. I am no
fool. I knew it was due. And--oh, I know, I'm just a feeble
female of vanity compounded--I was proud to have such a man swept
off his feet by me, by little me. I encouraged him. I have no
excuse. Last night would not have happened had I not encouraged
him. And I, and not he, was the sinner last night when he asked
me. And I told him no, impossible, as you should know why without
my repeating it to you. And I was maternal to him, very much
maternal. I let him take me in his arms, let myself rest against
him, and, for the first time because it was to be the for-ever last
time, let him kiss me and let myself kiss him. You . . . I know
you understand . . . it was his renunciation. And I didn't love
Sonny. I don't love him. I have loved you, and you only, all the

She waited, and felt her husband's arm pass around her shoulder and
under her own arm, and yielded to his drawing down of her to him.

"You did have me worried more than a bit," he admitted, "until I
was afraid I was going to lose you. And . . . " He broke off in
patent embarrassment, then gripped the idea courageously. "Oh,
well, you know you're my one woman. Enough said."

She fumbled the match-box from his pocket and struck a match to
enable him to light his long-extinct cigar.

"Well," he said, as the smoke curled about them, "knowing you as I
know you, and ALL of you, all I can say is that I'm sorry for Sonny
for what he's missed--awfully sorry for him, but equally glad for
me. And . . . one other thing: five years hence I've something to
tell you, something rich, something ridiculously rich, and all
about me and the foolishness of me over you. Five years. Is it a

"I shall keep it if it is fifty years," she sighed, as she nestled
closer to him.

August 17, 1916.


{1} See Dibble's "A History of the Sandwich Islands."

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