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The Fall of Edward Barnard by William Somerset Maugham

Polynesia and its people are deeply fasinating, but of almost equal interest is the deep attraction Eurpeans feel for Polynesia. Maugham's does a very good job in capturing the affect of Polynesia has on the romantic soul; the white searcher who looks to the Pacific for an existance closer to the natural world, so removed from a materialistic world. Somerset Maughams estimate of himself as an author was that he was a first rate writer of the second rank. This is very true but even taking into account Maughams sometimes ponderous style, he still managed to capture the flavour of the Pacific. In 1916, he travelled there to research his novel The Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin and the resulting book The Trembling of a Leaf contains several stort stories on Europeans attracted to the Pacific for different reasons. The Fall of Edward Barnard contains a good description of sort of allure of that Polynesia still exerts on

Polynesia and its people are deeply fasinating, but of almost equal interest is the deep attraction Eurpeans feel for Polynesia. Maugham's does a very good job in capturing the affect of Polynesia has on the romantic soul; the white searcher who looks to the Pacific for an existance closer to the natural world, so removed from a materialistic world. Somerset Maughams estimate of himself as an author was that he was a first rate writer of the second rank. This is very true but even taking into account Maughams sometimes ponderous style, he still managed to capture the flavour of the Pacific. In 1916, he travelled there to research his novel The Moon and Sixpence, based on the life of Paul Gauguin and the resulting book The Trembling of a Leaf contains several stort stories on Europeans attracted to the Pacific for different reasons. The Fall of Edward Barnard contains a good description of sort of allure of that Polynesia still exerts on

Bateman Hunter slept badly. For a fortnight on the boat that brought himfrom Tahiti to San Francisco he had been thinking of the story he had totell, and for three days on the train he had repeated to himself thewords in which he meant to tell it. But in a few hours now he would bein Chicago, and doubts assailed him. His conscience, always verysensitive, was not at ease. He was uncertain that he had done all thatwas possible, it was on his honour to do much more than the possible,and the thought was disturbing that, in a matter which so nearly touchedhis own interest, he had allowed his interest to prevail over hisquixotry. Self-sacrifice appealed so keenly to his imagination that theinability to exercise it gave him a sense of disillusion. He was likethe philanthropist who with altruistic motives builds model dwellingsfor the poor and finds that he has made a lucrative investment. Hecannot prevent the satisfaction he feels in the ten per cent whichrewards the bread he had cast upon the waters, but he has an awkwardfeeling that it detracts somewhat from the savour of his virtue. BatemanHunter knew that his heart was pure, but he was not quite sure howsteadfastly, when he told her his story, he would endure the scrutinyof Isabel Longstaffe's cool grey eyes. They were far-seeing and wise.She measured the standards of others by her own meticulous uprightnessand there could be no greater censure than the cold silence with whichshe expressed her disapproval of a conduct that did not satisfy herexacting code. There was no appeal from her judgment, for, having madeup her mind, she never changed it. But Bateman would not have had herdifferent. He loved not only the beauty of her person, slim andstraight, with the proud carriage of her head, but still more the beautyof her soul. With her truthfulness, her rigid sense of honour, herfearless outlook, she seemed to him to collect in herself all that wasmost admirable in his countrywomen. But he saw in her something morethan the perfect type of the American girl, he felt that herexquisiteness was peculiar in a way to her environment, and he wasassured that no city in the world could have produced her but Chicago. Apang seized him when he remembered that he must deal so bitter a blow toher pride, and anger flamed up in his heart when he thought of Edward Barnard.

But at last the train steamed in to Chicago and he exulted when he sawthe long streets of grey houses. He could hardly bear his impatience atthe thought of State and Wabash with their crowded pavements, theirhustling traffic, and their noise. He was at home. And he was glad thathe had been born in the most important city in the United States. SanFrancisco was provincial, New York was effete; the future of Americalay in the development of its economic possibilities, and Chicago, byits position and by the energy of its citizens, was destined to becomethe real capital of the country.

"I guess I shall live long enough to see it the biggest city in theworld," Bateman said to himself as he stepped down to the platform.

His father had come to meet him, and after a hearty handshake, the pairof them, tall, slender, and well-made, with the same fine, asceticfeatures and thin lips, walked out of the station. Mr Hunter'sautomobile was waiting for them and they got in. Mr Hunter caught hisson's proud and happy glance as he looked at the street.

"Glad to be back, son?" he asked.

"I should just think I was," said Bateman.

His eyes devoured the restless scene.

"I guess there's a bit more traffic here than in your South Sea island,"laughed Mr Hunter. "Did you like it there?"

"Give me Chicago, dad," answered Bateman.

"You haven't brought Edward Barnard back with you."

"No."

"How was he?"

Bateman was silent for a moment, and his handsome, sensitive facedarkened.

"I'd sooner not speak about him, dad," he said at last.

"That's all right, my son. I guess your mother will be a happy womantoday."

They passed out of the crowded streets in the Loop and drove along thelake till they came to the imposing house, an exact copy of a château onthe Loire, which Mr Hunter had built himself some years before. As soonas Bateman was alone in his room he asked for a number on the telephone.His heart leaped when he heard the voice that answered him.

"Good-morning, Isabel," he said gaily.

"Good-morning, Bateman."

"How did you recognise my voice?"

"It is not so long since I heard it last. Besides, I was expecting you."

"When may I see you?"

"Unless you have anything better to do perhaps you'll dine with usto-night."

"You know very well that I couldn't possibly have anything better todo."

"I suppose that you're full of news?"

He thought he detected in her voice a note of apprehension.

"Yes," he answered.

"Well, you must tell me to-night. Good-bye."

She rang off. It was characteristic of her that she should be able towait so many unnecessary hours to know what so immensely concerned her.To Bateman there was an admirable fortitude in her restraint.

At dinner, at which beside himself and Isabel no one was present but herfather and mother, he watched her guide the conversation into thechannels of an urbane small-talk, and it occurred to him that in justsuch a manner would a marquise under the shadow of the guillotine toywith the affairs of a day that would know no morrow. Her delicatefeatures, the aristocratic shortness of her upper lip, and her wealth offair hair suggested the marquise again, and it must have been obvious,even if it were not notorious, that in her veins flowed the best bloodin Chicago. The dining-room was a fitting frame to her fragile beauty,for Isabel had caused the house, a replica of a palace on the GrandCanal at Venice, to be furnished by an English expert in the style ofLouis XV; and the graceful decoration linked with the name of thatamorous monarch enhanced her loveliness and at the same time acquiredfrom it a more profound significance. For Isabel's mind was richlystored, and her conversation, however light, was never flippant. Shespoke now of the Musical to which she and her mother had been in theafternoon, of the lectures which an English poet was giving at theAuditorium, of the political situation, and of the Old Master which herfather had recently bought for fifty thousand dollars in New York. Itcomforted Bateman to hear her. He felt that he was once more in thecivilised world, at the centre of culture and distinction; and certainvoices, troubling and yet against his will refusing to still theirclamour, were at last silent in his heart.

"Gee, but it's good to be back in Chicago," he said.

At last dinner was over, and when they went out of the dining-roomIsabel said to her mother:

"I'm going to take Bateman along to my den. We have various things totalk about."

"Very well, my dear," said Mrs Longstaffe. "You'll find your father andme in the Madame du Barry room when you're through."

Isabel led the young man upstairs and showed him into the room of whichhe had so many charming memories. Though he knew it so well he could notrepress the exclamation of delight which it always wrung from him. Shelooked round with a smile.

"I think it's a success," she said. "The main thing is that it's right.There's not even an ashtray that isn't of the period."

"I suppose that's what makes it so wonderful. Like all you do it's sosuperlatively right."

They sat down in front of a log fire and Isabel looked at him with calmgrave eyes.

"Now what have you to say to me?" she asked.

"I hardly know how to begin."

"Is Edward Barnard coming back?"

"No."

There was a long silence before Bateman spoke again, and with each ofthem it was filled with many thoughts. It was a difficult story he hadto tell, for there were things in it which were so offensive to hersensitive ears that he could not bear to tell them, and yet in justiceto her, no less than in justice to himself, he must tell her the wholetruth.

It had all begun long ago when he and Edward Barnard, still at college,had met Isabel Longstaffe at the tea-party given to introduce her tosociety. They had both known her when she was a child and theylong-legged boys, but for two years she had been in Europe to finish hereducation and it was with a surprised delight that they renewedacquaintance with the lovely girl who returned. Both of them felldesperately in love with her, but Bateman saw quickly that she had eyesonly for Edward, and, devoted to his friend, he resigned himself to therole of confidant. He passed bitter moments, but he could not deny thatEdward was worthy of his good fortune, and, anxious that nothing shouldimpair the friendship he so greatly valued, he took care never by a hintto disclose his own feelings. In six months the young couple wereengaged. But they were very young and Isabel's father decided that theyshould not marry at least till Edward graduated. They had to wait ayear. Bateman remembered the winter at the end of which Isabel andEdward were to be married, a winter of dances and theatre-parties and ofinformal gaieties at which he, the constant third, was always present.He loved her no less because she would shortly be his friend's wife; hersmile, a gay word she flung him, the confidence of her affection, neverceased to delight him; and he congratulated himself, somewhatcomplacently, because he did not envy them their happiness. Then anaccident happened. A great bank failed, there was a panic on theexchange, and Edward Barnard's father found himself a ruined man. Hecame home one night, told his wife that he was penniless, and afterdinner, going into his study, shot himself.

A week later, Edward Barnard, with a tired, white face, went to Isabeland asked her to release him. Her only answer was to throw her armsround his neck and burst into tears.

"Don't make it harder for me, sweet," he said.

"Do you think I can let you go now? I love you."

"How can I ask you to marry me? The whole thing's hopeless. Your fatherwould never let you. I haven't a cent."

"What do I care? I love you."

He told her his plans. He had to earn money at once, and GeorgeBraunschmidt, an old friend of his family, had offered to take him intohis own business. He was a South Sea merchant, and he had agencies inmany of the islands of the Pacific. He had suggested that Edward shouldgo to Tahiti for a year or two, where under the best of his managers hecould learn the details of that varied trade, and at the end of thattime he promised the young man a position in Chicago. It was a wonderfulopportunity, and when he had finished his explanations Isabel was oncemore all smiles.

"You foolish boy, why have you been trying to make me miserable?"

His face lit up at her words and his eyes flashed.

"Isabel, you don't mean to say you'll wait for me?"

"Don't you think you're worth it?" she smiled.

"Ah, don't laugh at me now. I beseech you to be serious. It may be fortwo years."

"Have no fear. I love you, Edward. When you come back I will marryyou."

Edward's employer was a man who did not like delay and he had told himthat if he took the post he offered he must sail that day week from SanFrancisco. Edward spent his last evening with Isabel. It was afterdinner that Mr Longstaffe, saying he wanted a word with Edward, took himinto the smoking-room. Mr Longstaffe had accepted good-naturedly thearrangement which his daughter had told him of and Edward could notimagine what mysterious communication he had now to make. He was not alittle perplexed to see that his host was embarrassed. He faltered. Hetalked of trivial things. At last he blurted it out.

"I guess you've heard of Arnold Jackson," he said, looking at Edwardwith a frown.

Edward hesitated. His natural truthfulness obliged him to admit aknowledge he would gladly have been able to deny.

"Yes, I have. But it's a long time ago. I guess I didn't pay very muchattention."

"There are not many people in Chicago who haven't heard of ArnoldJackson," said Mr Longstaffe bitterly, "and if there are they'll have nodifficulty in finding someone who'll be glad to tell them. Did you knowhe was Mrs Longstaffe's brother?"

"Yes, I knew that."

"Of course we've had no communication with him for many years. He leftthe country as soon as he was able to, and I guess the country wasn'tsorry to see the last of him. We understand he lives in Tahiti. Myadvice to you is to give him a wide berth, but if you do hear anythingabout him Mrs Longstaffe and I would be very glad if you'd let us know."

"Sure."

"That was all I wanted to say to you. Now I daresay you'd like to jointhe ladies."

There are few families that have not among their members one whom, iftheir neighbours permitted, they would willingly forget, and they arefortunate when the lapse of a generation or two has invested hisvagaries with a romantic glamour. But when he is actually alive, if hispeculiarities are not of the kind that can be condoned by the phrase,"he is nobody's enemy but his own," a safe one when the culprit has noworse to answer for than alcoholism or wandering affections, the onlypossible course is silence. And it was this which the Longstaffes hadadopted towards Arnold Jackson. They never talked of him. They would noteven pass through the street in which he had lived. Too kind to make hiswife and children suffer for his misdeeds, they had supported them foryears, but on the understanding that they should live in Europe. Theydid everything they could to blot out all recollection of Arnold Jacksonand yet were conscious that the story was as fresh in the public mind aswhen first the scandal burst upon a gaping world. Arnold Jackson was asblack a sheep as any family could suffer from. A wealthy banker,prominent in his church, a philanthropist, a man respected by all, notonly for his connections (in his veins ran the blue blood of Chicago),but also for his upright character, he was arrested one day on a chargeof fraud; and the dishonesty which the trial brought to light was not ofthe sort which could be explained by a sudden temptation; it wasdeliberate and systematic. Arnold Jackson was a rogue. When he was sentto the penitentiary for seven years there were few who did not think hehad escaped lightly.

When at the end of this last evening the lovers separated it was withmany protestations of devotion. Isabel, all tears, was consoled a littleby her certainty of Edward's passionate love. It was a strange feelingthat she had. It made her wretched to part from him and yet she washappy because he adored her.

This was more than two years ago.

He had written to her by every mail since then, twenty-four letters inall, for the mail went but once a month, and his letters had been allthat a lover's letters should be. They were intimate and charming,humorous sometimes, especially of late, and tender. At first theysuggested that he was homesick, they were full of his desire to get backto Chicago and Isabel; and, a little anxiously, she wrote begging him topersevere. She was afraid that he might throw up his opportunity andcome racing back. She did not want her lover to lack endurance and shequoted to him the lines:

"I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honour more."

But presently he seemed to settle down and it made Isabel very happy toobserve his growing enthusiasm to introduce American methods into thatforgotten corner of the world. But she knew him, and at the end of theyear, which was the shortest time he could possibly stay in Tahiti, sheexpected to have to use all her influence to dissuade him from cominghome. It was much better that he should learn the business thoroughly,and if they had been able to wait a year there seemed no reason why theyshould not wait another. She talked it over with Bateman Hunter, alwaysthe most generous of friends (during those first few days after Edwardwent she did not know what she would have done without him), and theydecided that Edward's future must stand before everything. It was withrelief that she found as the time passed that he made no suggestion ofreturning.

"He's splendid, isn't he?" she exclaimed to Bateman.

"He's white, through and through."

"Reading between the lines of his letter I know he hates it over there,but he's sticking it out because...."

She blushed a little and Bateman, with the grave smile which was soattractive in him, finished the sentence for her.

"Because he loves you."

"It makes me feel so humble," she said.

"You're wonderful, Isabel, you're perfectly wonderful."

But the second year passed and every month Isabel continued to receive aletter from Edward, and presently it began to seem a little strangethat he did not speak of coming back. He wrote as though he weresettled definitely in Tahiti, and what was more, comfortably settled.She was surprised. Then she read his letters again, all of them, severaltimes; and now, reading between the lines indeed, she was puzzled tonotice a change which had escaped her. The later letters were as tenderand as delightful as the first, but the tone was different. She wasvaguely suspicious of their humour, she had the instinctive mistrust ofher sex for that unaccountable quality, and she discerned in them now aflippancy which perplexed her. She was not quite certain that the Edwardwho wrote to her now was the same Edward that she had known. Oneafternoon, the day after a mail had arrived from Tahiti, when she wasdriving with Bateman he said to her:

"Did Edward tell you when he was sailing?"

"No, he didn't mention it. I thought he might have said something to youabout it."

"Not a word."

"You know what Edward is," she laughed in reply, "he has no sense oftime. If it occurs to you next time you write you might ask him whenhe's thinking of coming."

Her manner was so unconcerned that only Bateman's acute sensitivenesscould have discerned in her request a very urgent desire. He laughedlightly.

"Yes. I'll ask him. I can't imagine what he's thinking about."

A few days later, meeting him again, she noticed that something troubledhim. They had been much together since Edward left Chicago; they wereboth devoted to him and each in his desire to talk of the absent onefound a willing listener; the consequence was that Isabel knew everyexpression of Bateman's face, and his denials now were useless againsther keen instinct. Something told her that his harassed look had to dowith Edward and she did not rest till she had made him confess.

"The fact is," he said at last, "I heard in a round-about way thatEdward was no longer working for Braunschmidt and Co., and yesterday Itook the opportunity to ask Mr Braunschmidt himself."

"Well?"

"Edward left his employment with them nearly a year ago."

"How strange he should have said nothing about it!"

Bateman hesitated, but he had gone so far now that he was obliged totell the rest. It made him feel dreadfully embarrassed.

"He was fired."

"In heaven's name what for?"

"It appears they warned him once or twice, and at last they told him toget out. They say he was lazy and incompetent."

"Edward?"

They were silent for a while, and then he saw that Isabel was crying.Instinctively he seized her hand.

"Oh, my dear, don't, don't," he said. "I can't bear to see it."

She was so unstrung that she let her hand rest in his. He tried toconsole her.

"It's incomprehensible, isn't it? It's so unlike Edward. I can't helpfeeling there must be some mistake."

She did not say anything for a while, and when she spoke it washesitatingly.

"Has it struck you that there was anything queer in his letters lately?"she asked, looking away, her eyes all bright with tears.

He did not quite know how to answer.

"I have noticed a change in them," he admitted. "He seems to have lostthat high seriousness which I admired so much in him. One would almostthink that the things that matter - well, don't matter."

Isabel did not reply. She was vaguely uneasy.

"Perhaps in his answer to your letter he'll say when he's coming home.All we can do is to wait for that."

Another letter came from Edward for each of them, and still he made nomention of his return; but when he wrote he could not have receivedBateman's enquiry. The next mail would bring them an answer to that. Thenext mail came, and Bateman brought Isabel the letter he had justreceived; but the first glance of his face was enough to tell her thathe was disconcerted. She read it through carefully and then, withslightly tightened lips, read it again.

"It's a very strange letter," she said. "I don't quite understand it."

"One might almost think that he was joshing me," said Bateman, flushing.

"It reads like that, but it must be unintentional. That's so unlikeEdward."

"He says nothing about coming back."

"If I weren't so confident of his love I should think.... I hardly knowwhat I should think."

It was then that Bateman had broached the scheme which during theafternoon had formed itself in his brain. The firm, founded by hisfather, in which he was now a partner, a firm which manufactured allmanner of motor vehicles, was about to establish agencies in Honolulu,Sydney, and Wellington; and Bateman proposed that himself should goinstead of the manager who had been suggested. He could return byTahiti; in fact, travelling from Wellington, it was inevitable to do so;and he could see Edward.

"There's some mystery and I'm going to clear it up. That's the only wayto do it."

"Oh, Bateman, how can you be so good and kind?" she exclaimed.

"You know there's nothing in the world I want more than your happiness,Isabel."

She looked at him and she gave him her hands.

"You're wonderful, Bateman. I didn't know there was anyone in the worldlike you. How can I ever thank you?"

"I don't want your thanks. I only want to be allowed to help you."

She dropped her eyes and flushed a little. She was so used to him thatshe had forgotten how handsome he was. He was as tall as Edwardand as well made, but he was dark and pale of face, while Edward wasruddy. Of course she knew he loved her. It touched her. She felt verytenderly towards him.

It was from this journey that Bateman Hunter was now returned.

The business part of it took him somewhat longer than he expected and hehad much time to think of his two friends. He had come to the conclusionthat it could be nothing serious that prevented Edward from coming home,a pride, perhaps, which made him determined to make good before heclaimed the bride he adored; but it was a pride that must be reasonedwith. Isabel was unhappy. Edward must come back to Chicago with him andmarry her at once. A position could be found for him in the works of theHunter Motor Traction and Automobile Company. Bateman, with a bleedingheart, exulted at the prospect of giving happiness to the two persons heloved best in the world at the cost of his own. He would never marry. Hewould be godfather to the children of Edward and Isabel, and many yearslater when they were both dead he would tell Isabel's daughter how long,long ago he had loved her mother. Bateman's eyes were veiled with tearswhen he pictured this scene to himself.

Meaning to take Edward by surprise he had not cabled to announce hisarrival, and when at last he landed at Tahiti he allowed a youth, whosaid he was the son of the house, to lead him to the Hotel de la Fleur.He chuckled when he thought of his friend's amazement on seeing him,the most unexpected of visitors, walk into his office.

"By the way," he asked, as they went along, "can you tell me where Ishall find Mr. Edward Barnard?"

"Barnard?" said the youth. "I seem to know the name."

"He's an American. A tall fellow with light brown hair and blue eyes.He's been here over two years."

"Of course. Now I know who you mean. You mean Mr Jackson's nephew."

"Whose nephew?"

"Mr Arnold Jackson."

"I don't think we're speaking of the same person," answered Bateman,frigidly.

He was startled. It was queer that Arnold Jackson, known apparently toall and sundry, should live here under the disgraceful name in which hehad been convicted. But Bateman could not imagine whom it was that hepassed off as his nephew. Mrs Longstaffe was his only sister and he hadnever had a brother. The young man by his side talked volubly in anEnglish that had something in it of the intonation of a foreign tongue,and Bateman, with a sidelong glance, saw, what he had not noticedbefore, that there was in him a good deal of native blood. A touch ofhauteur involuntarily entered into his manner. They reached the hotel.When he had arranged about his room Bateman asked to be directed to thepremises of Braunschmidt & Co. They were on the front, facing thelagoon, and, glad to feel the solid earth under his feet after eightdays at sea, he sauntered down the sunny road to the water's edge.Having found the place he sought, Bateman sent in his card to themanager and was led through a lofty barn-like room, half store and halfwarehouse, to an office in which sat a stout, spectacled, bald-headedman.

"Can you tell me where I shall find Mr Edward Barnard? I understand hewas in this office for some time."

"That is so. I don't know just where he is."

"But I thought he came here with a particular recommendation from MrBraunschmidt. I know Mr Braunschmidt very well."

The fat man looked at Bateman with shrewd, suspicious eyes. He called toone of the boys in the warehouse.

"Say, Henry, where's Barnard now, d'you know?"

"He's working at Cameron's, I think," came the answer from someone whodid not trouble to move.

The fat man nodded.

"If you turn to your left when you get out of here you'll come toCameron's in about three minutes."

Bateman hesitated.

"I think I should tell you that Edward Barnard is my greatest friend. Iwas very much surprised when I heard he'd left Braunschmidt & Co."

The fat man's eyes contracted till they seemed like pin-points, andtheir scrutiny made Bateman so uncomfortable that he felt himselfblushing.

"I guess Braunschmidt & Co. and Edward Barnard didn't see eye to eye oncertain matters," he replied.

Bateman did not quite like the fellow's manner, so he got up, notwithout dignity, and with an apology for troubling him bade himgood-day. He left the place with a singular feeling that the man he hadjust interviewed had much to tell him, but no intention of telling it.He walked in the direction indicated and soon found himself atCameron's. It was a trader's store, such as he had passed half a dozenof on his way, and when he entered the first person he saw, in his shirtsleeves, measuring out a length of trade cotton, was Edward. It gave hima start to see him engaged in so humble an occupation. But he hadscarcely appeared when Edward, looking up, caught sight of him, and gavea joyful cry of surprise.

"Bateman! Who ever thought of seeing you here?"

He stretched his arm across the counter and wrung Bateman's hand. Therewas no self-consciousness in his manner and the embarrassment was all onBateman's side.

"Just wait till I've wrapped this package."

With perfect assurance he ran his scissors across the stuff, folded it,made it into a parcel, and handed it to the dark-skinned customer.

"Pay at the desk, please."

Then, smiling, with bright eyes, he turned to Bateman.

"How did you show up here? Gee, I am delighted to see you. Sit down,old man. Make yourself at home."

"We can't talk here. Come along to my hotel. I suppose you can getaway?"

This he added with some apprehension.

"Of course I can get away. We're not so businesslike as all that inTahiti." He called out to a Chinese who was standing behind the oppositecounter. "Ah-Ling, when the boss comes tell him a friend of mine's justarrived from America and I've gone out to have a drain with him."

"All-light," said the Chinese, with a grin.

Edward slipped on a coat and, putting on his hat, accompanied Batemanout of the store. Bateman attempted to put the matter facetiously.

"I didn't expect to find you selling three and a half yards of rottencotton to a greasy nigger," he laughed.

"Braunschmidt fired me, you know, and I thought that would do as well asanything else."

Edward's candour seemed to Bateman very surprising, but he thought itindiscreet to pursue the subject.

"I guess you won't make a fortune where you are," he answered, somewhatdryly.

"I guess not. But I earn enough to keep body and soul together, and I'mquite satisfied with that."

"You wouldn't have been two years ago."

"We grow wiser as we grow older," retorted Edward, gaily.

Bateman took a glance at him. Edward was dressed in a suit of shabbywhite ducks, none too clean, and a large straw hat of native make. Hewas thinner than he had been, deeply burned by the sun, and he wascertainly better looking than ever. But there was something in hisappearance that disconcerted Bateman. He walked with a new jauntiness;there was a carelessness in his demeanour, a gaiety about nothing inparticular, which Bateman could not precisely blame, but whichexceedingly puzzled him.

"I'm blest if I can see what he's got to be so darned cheerful about,"he said to himself.

They arrived at the hotel and sat on the terrace. A Chinese boy broughtthem cocktails. Edward was most anxious to hear all the news of Chicagoand bombarded his friend with eager questions. His interest was naturaland sincere. But the odd thing was that it seemed equally divided amonga multitude of subjects. He was as eager to know how Bateman's fatherwas as what Isabel was doing. He talked of her without a shade ofembarrassment, but she might just as well have been his sister as hispromised wife; and before Bateman had done analysing the exact meaningof Edward's remarks he found that the conversation had drifted to hisown work and the buildings his father had lately erected. He wasdetermined to bring the conversation back to Isabel and was looking forthe occasion when he saw Edward wave his hand cordially. A man wasadvancing towards them on the terrace, but Bateman's back was turned tohim and he could not see him.

"Come and sit down," said Edward gaily.

The new-comer approached. He was a very tall, thin man, in white ducks,with a fine head of curly white hair. His face was thin too, long, witha large, hooked nose and a beautiful, expressive mouth.

"This is my old friend Bateman Hunter. I've told you about him," saidEdward, his constant smile breaking on his lips.

"I'm pleased to meet you, Mr Hunter. I used to know your father."

The stranger held out his hand and took the young man's in a strong,friendly grasp. It was not till then that Edward mentioned the other'sname.

"Mr Arnold Jackson."

Bateman turned white and he felt his hands grow cold. This was theforger, the convict, this was Isabel's uncle. He did not know what tosay. He tried to conceal his confusion. Arnold Jackson looked at himwith twinkling eyes.

"I daresay my name is familiar to you."

Bateman did not know whether to say yes or no, and what made it moreawkward was that both Jackson and Edward seemed to be amused. It was badenough to have forced on him the acquaintance of the one man on theisland he would rather have avoided, but worse to discern that he wasbeing made a fool of. Perhaps, however, he had reached this conclusiontoo quickly, for Jackson, without a pause, added:

"I understand you're very friendly with the Longstaffes. Mary Longstaffeis my sister."

Now Bateman asked himself if Arnold Jackson could think him ignorant ofthe most terrible scandal that Chicago had ever known. But Jackson puthis hand on Edward's shoulder.

"I can't sit down, Teddie," he said. "I'm busy. But you two boys hadbetter come up and dine to-night."

"That'll be fine," said Edward.

"It's very kind of you, Mr Jackson," said Bateman, frigidly, "but I'mhere for so short a time; my boat sails to-morrow, you know; I think ifyou'll forgive me, I won't come."

"Oh, nonsense. I'll give you a native dinner. My wife's a wonderfulcook. Teddie will show you the way. Come early so as to see the sunset.I can give you both a shake-down if you like."

"Of course we'll come," said Edward. "There's always the devil of a rowin the hotel on the night a boat arrives and we can have a good yarn upat the bungalow."

"I can't let you off, Mr Hunter," Jackson continued with the utmostcordiality. "I want to hear all about Chicago and Mary."

He nodded and walked away before Bateman could say another word.

"We don't take refusals in Tahiti," laughed Edward. "Besides, you'll getthe best dinner on the island."

"What did he mean by saying his wife was a good cook? I happen to knowhis wife's in Geneva."

"That's a long way off for a wife, isn't it?" said Edward. "And it's along time since he saw her. I guess it's another wife he's talkingabout."

For some time Bateman was silent. His face was set in grave lines. Butlooking up he caught the amused look in Edward's eyes, and he flusheddarkly.

"Arnold Jackson is a despicable rogue," he said.

"I greatly fear he is," answered Edward, smiling.

"I don't see how any decent man can have anything to do with him."

"Perhaps I'm not a decent man."

"Do you see much of him, Edward?"

"Yes, quite a lot. He's adopted me as his nephew."

Bateman leaned forward and fixed Edward with his searching eyes.

"Do you like him?"

"Very much."

"But don't you know, doesn't everyone here know, that he's a forger andthat he's been a convict? He ought to be hounded out of civilisedsociety."

Edward watched a ring of smoke that floated from his cigar into thestill, scented air.

"I suppose he is a pretty unmitigated rascal," he said at last. "And Ican't flatter myself that any repentance for his misdeeds offers one anexcuse for condoning them. He was a swindler and a hypocrite. You can'tget away from it. I never met a more agreeable companion. He's taught meeverything I know."

"What has he taught you?" cried Bateman in amazement.

"How to live."

Bateman broke into ironical laughter.

"A fine master. Is it owing to his lessons that you lost the chance ofmaking a fortune and earn your living now by serving behind a counter ina ten cent store?"

"He has a wonderful personality," said Edward, smiling good-naturedly."Perhaps you'll see what I mean to-night."

"I'm not going to dine with him if that's what you mean. Nothing wouldinduce me to set foot within that man's house."

"Come to oblige me, Bateman. We've been friends for so many years, youwon't refuse me a favour when I ask it."

Edward's tone had in it a quality new to Bateman. Its gentleness wassingularly persuasive.

"If you put it like that, Edward, I'm bound to come," he smiled.

Bateman reflected, moreover, that it would be as well to learn what hecould about Arnold Jackson. It was plain that he had a great ascendencyover Edward, and if it was to be combated it was necessary to discoverin what exactly it consisted. The more he talked with Edward the moreconscious he became that a change had taken place in him. He had aninstinct that it behooved him to walk warily, and he made up his mindnot to broach the real purport of his visit till he saw his way moreclearly. He began to talk of one thing and another, of his journey andwhat he had achieved by it, of politics in Chicago, of this commonfriend and that, of their days together at college.

At last Edward said he must get back to his work and proposed that heshould fetch Bateman at five so that they could drive out together toArnold Jackson's house.

"By the way, I rather thought you'd be living at this hotel," saidBateman, as he strolled out of the garden with Edward. "I understandit's the only decent one here."

"Not I," laughed Edward. "It's a deal too grand for me. I rent a roomjust outside the town. It's cheap and clean."

"If I remember right those weren't the points that seemed most importantto you when you lived in Chicago."

"Chicago!"

"I don't know what you mean by that, Edward. It's the greatest city inthe world."

"I know," said Edward.

Bateman glanced at him quickly, but his face was inscrutable.

"When are you coming back to it?"

"I often wonder," smiled Edward.

This answer, and the manner of it, staggered Bateman, but before hecould ask for an explanation Edward waved to a half-caste who wasdriving a passing motor.

"Give us a ride down, Charlie," he said.

He nodded to Bateman, and ran after the machine that had pulled up a fewyards in front. Bateman was left to piece together a mass of perplexingimpressions.

Edward called for him in a rickety trap drawn by an old mare, and theydrove along a road that ran by the sea. On each side of it wereplantations, coconut and vanilla; and now and then they saw a greatmango, its fruit yellow and red and purple among the massy green of theleaves; now and then they had a glimpse of the lagoon, smooth and blue,with here and there a tiny islet graceful with tall palms. ArnoldJackson's house stood on a little hill and only a path led to it, sothey unharnessed the mare and tied her to a tree, leaving the trap bythe side of the road. To Bateman it seemed a happy-go-lucky way of doingthings. But when they went up to the house they were met by a tall,handsome native woman, no longer young, with whom Edward cordially shookhands. He introduced Bateman to her.

"This is my friend Mr Hunter. We're going to dine with you, Lavina."

"All right," she said, with a quick smile. "Arnold ain't back yet."

"We'll go down and bathe. Let us have a couple of pareos."

The woman nodded and went into the house.

"Who is that?" asked Bateman.

"Oh, that's Lavina. She's Arnold's wife."

Bateman tightened his lips, but said nothing. In a moment the womanreturned with a bundle, which she gave to Edward; and the two men,scrambling down a steep path, made their way to a grove of coconut treeson the beach. They undressed and Edward showed his friend how to makethe strip of red trade cotton which is called a pareo into a very neatpair of bathing-drawers. Soon they were splashing in the warm, shallowwater. Edward was in great spirits. He laughed and shouted and sang. Hemight have been fifteen. Bateman had never seen him so gay, andafterwards when they lay on the beach, smoking cigarettes, in the limpidair, there was such an irresistible light-heartedness in him thatBateman was taken aback.

"You seem to find life mighty pleasant," said he.

"I do."

They heard a soft movement and looking round saw that Arnold Jackson wascoming towards them.

"I thought I'd come down and fetch you two boys back," he said. "Did youenjoy your bath, Mr Hunter?"

"Very much," said Bateman.

Arnold Jackson, no longer in spruce ducks, wore nothing but a pareoround his loins and walked barefoot. His body was deeply browned by thesun. With his long, curling white hair and his ascetic face he made afantastic figure in the native dress, but he bore himself without atrace of self-consciousness.

"If you're ready we'll go right up," said Jackson.

"I'll just put on my clothes," said Bateman.

"Why, Teddie, didn't you bring a pareo for your friend?"

"I guess he'd rather wear clothes," smiled Edward.

"I certainly would," answered Bateman, grimly, as he saw Edward girdhimself in the loincloth and stand ready to start before he himself hadgot his shirt on.

"Won't you find it rough walking without your shoes?" he asked Edward."It struck me the path was a trifle rocky."

"Oh, I'm used to it."

"It's a comfort to get into a pareo when one gets back from town,"said Jackson. "If you were going to stay here I should stronglyrecommend you to adopt it. It's one of the most sensible costumes I haveever come across. It's cool, convenient, and inexpensive."

They walked up to the house, and Jackson took them into a large roomwith white-washed walls and an open ceiling in which a table was laidfor dinner. Bateman noticed that it was set for five.

"Eva, come and show yourself to Teddie's friend, and then shake us acocktail," called Jackson.

Then he led Bateman to a long low window.

"Look at that," he said, with a dramatic gesture. "Look well."

Below them coconut trees tumbled down steeply to the lagoon, and thelagoon in the evening light had the colour, tender and varied, of adove's breast. On a creek, at a little distance, were the clustered hutsof a native village, and towards the reef was a canoe, sharplysilhouetted, in which were a couple of natives fishing. Then, beyond,you saw the vast calmness of the Pacific and twenty miles away, airy andunsubstantial like the fabric of a poet's fancy, the unimaginable beautyof the island which is called Murea. It was all so lovely that Batemanstood abashed.

"I've never seen anything like it," he said at last.

Arnold Jackson stood staring in front of him, and in his eyes was adreamy softness. His thin, thoughtful face was very grave. Bateman,glancing at it, was once more conscious of its intense spirituality.

"Beauty," murmured Arnold Jackson. "You seldom see beauty face to face.Look at it well, Mr Hunter, for what you see now you will never seeagain, since the moment is transitory, but it will be an imperishablememory in your heart. You touch eternity."

His voice was deep and resonant. He seemed to breathe forth the purestidealism, and Bateman had to urge himself to remember that the man whospoke was a criminal and a cruel cheat. But Edward, as though he heard asound, turned round quickly.

"Here is my daughter, Mr Hunter."

Bateman shook hands with her. She had dark, splendid eyes and a redmouth tremulous with laughter; but her skin was brown, and her curlinghair, rippling down her-shoulders, was coal black. She wore but onegarment, a Mother Hubbard of pink cotton, her feet were bare, and shewas crowned with a wreath of white scented flowers. She was a lovelycreature. She was like a goddess of the Polynesian spring.

She was a little shy, but not more shy than Bateman, to whom the wholesituation was highly embarrassing, and it did not put him at his ease tosee this sylph-like thing take a shaker and with a practised hand mixthree cocktails.

"Let us have a kick in them, child," said Jackson.

She poured them out and smiling delightfully handed one to each of themen. Bateman flattered himself on his skill in the subtle art of shakingcocktails and he was not a little astonished, on tasting this one, tofind that it was excellent. Jackson laughed proudly when he saw hisguest's involuntary look of appreciation.

"Not bad, is it? I taught the child myself, and in the old days inChicago I considered that there wasn't a bar-tender in the city thatcould hold a candle to me. When I had nothing better to do in thepenitentiary I used to amuse myself by thinking out new cocktails, butwhen you come down to brass-tacks there's nothing to beat a dryMartini."

Bateman felt as though someone had given him a violent blow on thefunny-bone and he was conscious that he turned red and then white. Butbefore he could think of anything to say a native boy brought in a greatbowl of soup and the whole party sat down to dinner. Arnold Jackson'sremark seemed to have aroused in him a train of recollections, for hebegan to talk of his prison days. He talked quite naturally, withoutmalice, as though he were relating his experiences at a foreignuniversity. He addressed himself to Bateman and Bateman was confused andthen confounded. He saw Edward's eyes fixed on him and there was in thema flicker of amusement. He blushed scarlet, for it struck him thatJackson was making a fool of him, and then because he felt absurd--andknew there was no reason why he should - he grew angry. Arnold Jacksonwas impudent - there was no other word for it - and his callousness,whether assumed or not, was outrageous. The dinner proceeded. Batemanwas asked to eat sundry messes, raw fish and he knew not what, whichonly his civility induced him to swallow, but which he was amazed tofind very good eating. Then an incident happened which to Bateman wasthe most mortifying experience of the evening. There was a littlecirclet of flowers in front of him, and for the sake of conversation hehazarded a remark about it.

"It's a wreath that Eva made for you," said Jackson, "but I guess shewas too shy to give it you."

Bateman took it up in his hand and made a polite little speech of thanksto the girl.

"You must put it on," she said, with a smile and a blush.

"I? I don't think I'll do that."

"It's the charming custom of the country," said Arnold Jackson.

There was one in front of him and he placed it on his hair. Edward didthe same.

"I guess I'm not dressed for the part," said Bateman, uneasily.

"Would you like a pareo?" said Eva quickly. "I'll get you one in aminute."

"No, thank you. I'm quite comfortable as I am."

"Show him how to put it on, Eva," said Edward.

At that moment Bateman hated his greatest friend. Eva got up from thetable and with much laughter placed the wreath on his black hair.

"It suits you very well," said Mrs Jackson. "Don't it suit him, Arnold?"

"Of course it does."

Bateman sweated at every pore.

"Isn't it a pity it's dark?" said Eva. "We could photograph you allthree together."

Bateman thanked his stars it was. He felt that he must look prodigiouslyfoolish in his blue serge suit and high collar--very neat andgentlemanly - with that ridiculous wreath of flowers on his head. He wasseething with indignation, and he had never in his life exercised moreself-control than now when he presented an affable exterior. He wasfurious with that old man, sitting at the head of the table, half-naked,with his saintly face and the flowers on his handsome white locks. Thewhole position was monstrous.

Then dinner came to an end, and Eva and her mother remained to clearaway while the three men sat on the verandah. It was very warm and theair was scented with the white flowers of the night. The full moon,sailing across an unclouded sky, made a pathway on the broad sea thatled to the boundless realms of Forever. Arnold Jackson began to talk.His voice was rich and musical. He talked now of the natives and of theold legends of the country. He told strange stories of the past, storiesof hazardous expeditions into the unknown, of love and death, of hatredand revenge. He told of the adventurers who had discovered those distantislands, of the sailors who, settling in them, had married the daughtersof great chieftains, and of the beach-combers who had led their variedlives on those silvery shores. Bateman, mortified and exasperated, atfirst listened sullenly, but presently some magic in the words possessedhim and he sat entranced. The mirage of romance obscured the light ofcommon day. Had he forgotten that Arnold Jackson had a tongue of silver,a tongue by which he had charmed vast sums out of the credulous public,a tongue which very nearly enabled him to escape the penalty of hiscrimes? No one had a sweeter eloquence, and no one had a more acutesense of climax. Suddenly he rose.

"Well, you two boys haven't seen one another for a long time. I shallleave you to have a yarn. Teddie will show you your quarters when youwant to go to bed."

"Oh, but I wasn't thinking of spending the night, Mr Jackson," saidBateman.

"You'll find it more comfortable. We'll see that you're called in goodtime."

Then with a courteous shake of the hand, stately as though he were abishop in canonicals, Arnold Jackson took leave of his guest.

"Of course I'll drive you back to Papeete if you like," said Edward,"but I advise you to stay. It's bully driving in the early morning."

For a few minutes neither of them spoke. Bateman wondered how he shouldbegin on the conversation which all the events of the day made himthink more urgent.

"When are you coming back to Chicago?" he asked, suddenly.

For a moment Edward did not answer. Then he turned rather lazily to lookat his friend and smiled.

"I don't know. Perhaps never."

"What in heaven's name do you mean?" cried Bateman.

"I'm very happy here. Wouldn't it be folly to make a change?"

"Man alive, you can't live here all your life. This is no life for aman. It's a living death. Oh, Edward, come away at once, before it's toolate. I've felt that something was wrong. You're infatuated with theplace, you've succumbed to evil influences, but it only requires awrench, and when you're free from these surroundings you'll thank allthe gods there be. You'll be like a dope-fiend when he's broken from hisdrug. You'll see then that for two years you've been breathing poisonedair. You can't imagine what a relief it will be when you fill your lungsonce more with the fresh, pure air of your native country."

He spoke quickly, the words tumbling over one another in his excitement,and there was in his voice sincere and affectionate emotion. Edward wastouched.

"It is good of you to care so much, old friend."

"Come with me to-morrow, Edward. It was a mistake that you ever came tothis place. This is no life for you."

"You talk of this sort of life and that. How do you think a man gets thebest out of life?"

"Why, I should have thought there could be no two answers to that. Bydoing his duty, by hard work, by meeting all the obligations of hisstate and station."

"And what is his reward?"

"His reward is the consciousness of having achieved what he set out todo."

"It all sounds a little portentous to me," said Edward, and in thelightness of the night Bateman could see that he was smiling. "I'mafraid you'll think I've degenerated sadly. There are several things Ithink now which I daresay would have seemed outrageous to me three yearsago."

"Have you learnt them from Arnold Jackson?" asked Bateman, scornfully.

"You don't like him? Perhaps you couldn't be expected to. I didn't whenI first came. I had just the same prejudice as you. He's a veryextraordinary man. You saw for yourself that he makes no secret of thefact that he was in a penitentiary. I do not know that he regrets it orthe crimes that led him there. The only complaint he ever made in myhearing was that when he came out his health was impaired. I think hedoes not know what remorse is. He is completely unmoral. He acceptseverything and he accepts himself as well. He's generous and kind."

"He always was," interrupted Bateman, "on other people's money."

"I've found him a very good friend. Is it unnatural that I should takea man as I find him?"

"The result is that you lose the distinction between right and wrong."

"No, they remain just as clearly divided in my mind as before, but whathas become a little confused in me is the distinction between the badman and the good one. Is Arnold Jackson a bad man who does good thingsor a good man who does bad things? It's a difficult question to answer.Perhaps we make too much of the difference between one man and another.Perhaps even the best of us are sinners and the worst of us are saints.Who knows?"

"You will never persuade me that white is black and that black iswhite," said Bateman.

"I'm sure I shan't, Bateman."

Bateman could not understand why the flicker of a smile crossed Edward'slips when he thus agreed with him. Edward was silent for a minute.

"When I saw you this morning, Bateman," he said then, "I seemed to seemyself as I was two years ago. The same collar, and the same shoes, thesame blue suit, the same energy. The same determination. By God, I wasenergetic. The sleepy methods of this place made my blood tingle. I wentabout and everywhere I saw possibilities for development and enterprise.There were fortunes to be made here. It seemed to me absurd that thecopra should be taken away from here in sacks and the oil extracted inAmerica. It would be far more economical to do all that on the spot,with cheap labour, and save freight, and I saw already the vastfactories springing up on the island. Then the way they extracted itfrom the coconut seemed to me hopelessly inadequate, and I invented amachine which divided the nut and scooped out the meat at the rate oftwo hundred and forty an hour. The harbour was not large enough. I madeplans to enlarge it, then to form a syndicate to buy land, put up two orthree large hotels, and bungalows for occasional residents; I had ascheme for improving the steamer service in order to attract visitorsfrom California. In twenty years, instead of this half French, lazylittle town of Papeete I saw a great American city with ten-storybuildings and street-cars, a theatre and an opera house, a stockexchange and a mayor."

"But go ahead, Edward," cried Bateman, springing up from the chair inexcitement. "You've got the ideas and the capacity. Why, you'll becomethe richest man between Australia and the States."

Edward chuckled softly.

"But I don't want to," he said.

"Do you mean to say you don't want money, big money, money running intomillions? Do you know what you can do with it? Do you know the power itbrings? And if you don't care about it for yourself think what you cando, opening new channels for human enterprise, giving occupation tothousands. My brain reels at the visions your words have conjured up."

"Sit down, then, my dear Bateman," laughed Edward. "My machine forcutting the coconuts will always remain unused, and so far as I'mconcerned street-cars shall never run in the idle streets of Papeete."

Bateman sank heavily into his chair.

"I don't understand you," he said.

"It came upon me little by little. I came to like the life here, withits ease and its leisure, and the people, with their good-nature andtheir happy smiling faces. I began to think. I'd never had time to dothat before. I began to read."

"You always read."

"I read for examinations. I read in order to be able to hold my own inconversation. I read for instruction. Here I learned to read forpleasure. I learned to talk. Do you know that conversation is one of thegreatest pleasures in life? But it wants leisure. I'd always been toobusy before. And gradually all the life that had seemed so important tome began to seem rather trivial and vulgar. What is the use of all thishustle and this constant striving? I think of Chicago now and I see adark, grey city, all stone--it is like a prison--and a ceaselessturmoil. And what does all that activity amount to? Does one get therethe best out of life? Is that what we come into the world for, to hurryto an office, and work hour after hour till night, then hurry home anddine and go to a theatre? Is that how I must spend my youth? Youth lastsso short a time, Bateman. And when I am old, what have I to look forwardto? To hurry from my home in the morning to my office and work hourafter hour till night, and then hurry home again, and dine and go to atheatre? That may be worth while if you make a fortune; I don't know, itdepends on your nature; but if you don't, is it worth while then? I wantto make more out of my life than that, Bateman."

"What do you value in life then?"

"I'm afraid you'll laugh at me. Beauty, truth, and goodness."

"Don't you think you can have those in Chicago?"

"Some men can, perhaps, but not I." Edward sprang up now. "I tell youwhen I think of the life I led in the old days I am filled with horror,"he cried violently. "I tremble with fear when I think of the danger Ihave escaped. I never knew I had a soul till I found it here. If I hadremained a rich man I might have lost it for good and all."

"I don't know how you can say that," cried Bateman indignantly. "Weoften used to have discussions about it."

"Yes, I know. They were about as effectual as the discussions of deafmutes about harmony. I shall never come back to Chicago, Bateman."

"And what about Isabel?"

Edward walked to the edge of the verandah and leaning over lookedintently at the blue magic of the night. There was a slight smile on hisface when he turned back to Bateman.

"Isabel is infinitely too good for me. I admire her more than any womanI have ever known. She has a wonderful brain and she's as good as she'sbeautiful. I respect her energy and her ambition. She was born to make asuccess of life. I am entirely unworthy of her."

"She doesn't think so."

"But you must tell her so, Bateman."

"I?" cried Bateman. "I'm the last person who could ever do that."

Edward had his back to the vivid light of the moon and his face couldnot be seen. Is it possible that he smiled again?

"It's no good your trying to conceal anything from her, Bateman. Withher quick intelligence she'll turn you inside out in five minutes. You'dbetter make a clean breast of it right away."

"I don't know what you mean. Of course I shall tell her I've seen you."Bateman spoke in some agitation. "Honestly I don't know what to say toher."

"Tell her that I haven't made good. Tell her that I'm not only poor, butthat I'm content to be poor. Tell her I was fired from my job because Iwas idle and inattentive. Tell her all you've seen to-night and all I'vetold you."

The idea which on a sudden flashed through Bateman's brain brought himto his feet and in uncontrollable perturbation he faced Edward.

"Man alive, don't you want to marry her?"

Edward looked at him gravely.

"I can never ask her to release me. If she wishes to hold me to my wordI will do my best to make her a good and loving husband."

"Do you wish me to give her that message, Edward? Oh, I can't. It'sterrible. It's never dawned on her for a moment that you don't want tomarry her. She loves you. How can I inflict such a mortification onher?"

Edward smiled again.

"Why don't you marry her yourself, Bateman? You've been in love with herfor ages. You're perfectly suited to one another. You'll make her veryhappy."

"Don't talk to me like that. I can't bear it."

"I resign in your favour, Bateman. You are the better man."

There was something in Edward's tone that made Bateman look up quickly,but Edward's eyes were grave and unsmiling. Bateman did not know what tosay. He was disconcerted. He wondered whether Edward could possiblysuspect that he had come to Tahiti on a special errand. And though heknew it was horrible he could not prevent the exultation in his heart.

"What will you do if Isabel writes and puts an end to her engagementwith you?" he said, slowly.

"Survive," said Edward.

Bateman was so agitated that he did not hear the answer.

"I wish you had ordinary clothes on," he said, somewhat irritably. "It'ssuch a tremendously serious decision you're taking. That fantasticcostume of yours makes it seem terribly casual."

"I assure you, I can be just as solemn in a pareo and a wreath ofroses, as in a high hat and a cut-away coat."

Then another thought struck Bateman.

"Edward, it's not for my sake you're doing this? I don't know, butperhaps this is going to make a tremendous difference to my future.You're not sacrificing yourself for me? I couldn't stand for that, youknow."

"No, Bateman, I have learnt not to be silly and sentimental here. Ishould like you and Isabel to be happy, but I have not the least wish tobe unhappy myself."

The answer somewhat chilled Bateman. It seemed to him a little cynical.He would not have been sorry to act a noble part.

"Do you mean to say you're content to waste your life here? It's nothingless than suicide. When I think of the great hopes you had when we leftcollege it seems terrible that you should be content to be no more thana salesman in a cheap-John store."

"Oh, I'm only doing that for the present, and I'm gaining a great dealof valuable experience. I have another plan in my head. Arnold Jacksonhas a small island in the Paumotas, about a thousand miles from here, aring of land round a lagoon. He's planted coconut there. He's offered togive it me."

"Why should he do that?" asked Bateman.

"Because if Isabel releases me I shall marry his daughter."

"You?" Bateman was thunderstruck. "You can't marry a half-caste. Youwouldn't be so crazy as that."

"She's a good girl, and she has a sweet and gentle nature. I think shewould make me very happy."

"Are you in love with her?"

"I don't know," answered Edward reflectively. "I'm not in love with heras I was in love with Isabel. I worshipped Isabel. I thought she was themost wonderful creature I had ever seen. I was not half good enough forher. I don't feel like that with Eva. She's like a beautiful exoticflower that must be sheltered from bitter winds. I want to protect her.No one ever thought of protecting Isabel. I think she loves me formyself and not for what I may become. Whatever happens to me I shallnever disappoint her. She suits me."

Bateman was silent.

"We must turn out early in the morning," said Edward at last. "It'sreally about time we went to bed."

Then Bateman spoke and his voice had in it a genuine distress.

"I'm so bewildered, I don't know what to say. I came here because Ithought something was wrong. I thought you hadn't succeeded in what youset out to do and were ashamed to come back when you'd failed. I neverguessed I should be faced with this. I'm so desperately sorry, Edward.I'm so disappointed. I hoped you would do great things. It's almost morethan I can bear to think of you wasting your talents and your youth andyour chance in this lamentable way."

"Don't be grieved, old friend," said Edward. "I haven't failed. I'vesucceeded. You can't think with what zest I look forward to life, howfull it seems to me and how significant. Sometimes, when you are marriedto Isabel, you will think of me. I shall build myself a house on mycoral island and I shall live there, looking after my trees - getting thefruit out of the nuts in the same old way that they have done forunnumbered years--I shall grow all sorts of things in my garden, and Ishall fish. There will be enough work to keep me busy and not enough tomake me dull. I shall have my books and Eva, children, I hope, and aboveall, the infinite variety of the sea and the sky, the freshness of thedawn and the beauty of the sunset, and the rich magnificence of thenight. I shall make a garden out of what so short a while ago was awilderness. I shall have created something. The years will passinsensibly, and when I am an old man I hope that I shall be able to lookback on a happy, simple, peaceful life. In my small way I too shall havelived in beauty. Do you think it is so little to have enjoyedcontentment? We know that it will profit a man little if he gain thewhole world and lose his soul. I think I have won mine."

Edward led him to a room in which there were two beds and he threwhimself on one of them. In ten minutes Bateman knew by his regularbreathing, peaceful as a child's, that Edward was asleep. But for hispart he had no rest, he was disturbed in mind, and it was not till thedawn crept into the room, ghostlike and silent, that he fell asleep.

Bateman finished telling Isabel his long story. He had hidden nothingfrom her except what he thought would wound her or what made himselfridiculous. He did not tell her that he had been forced to sit at dinnerwith a wreath of flowers round his head and he did not tell her thatEdward was prepared to marry her uncle's half-caste daughter the momentshe set him free. But perhaps Isabel had keener intuitions than he knew,for as he went on with his tale her eyes grew colder and her lips closedupon one another more tightly. Now and then she looked at him closely,and if he had been less intent on his narrative he might have wonderedat her expression.

"What was this girl like?" she asked when he finished. "Uncle Arnold'sdaughter. Would you say there was any resemblance between her and me?"

Bateman was surprised at the question.

"It never struck me. You know I've never had eyes for anyone but you andI could never think that anyone was like you. Who could resemble you?"

"Was she pretty?" said Isabel, smiling slightly at his words.

"I suppose so. I daresay some men would say she was very beautiful."

"Well, it's of no consequence. I don't think we need give her any moreof our attention."

"What are you going to do, Isabel?" he asked then.

Isabel looked down at the hand which still bore the ring Edward hadgiven her on their betrothal.

"I wouldn't let Edward break our engagement because I thought it wouldbe an incentive to him. I wanted to be an inspiration to him. I thoughtif anything could enable him to achieve success it was the thought thatI loved him. I have done all I could. It's hopeless. It would only beweakness on my part not to recognise the facts. Poor Edward, he'snobody's enemy but his own. He was a dear, nice fellow, but there wassomething lacking in him, I suppose it was backbone. I hope he'll behappy."

She slipped the ring off her finger and placed it on the table. Batemanwatched her with a heart beating so rapidly that he could hardlybreathe.

"You're wonderful, Isabel, you're simply wonderful."

She smiled, and, standing up, held out her hand to him.

"How can I ever thank you for what you've done for me?" she said."You've done me a great service. I knew I could trust you."

He took her hand and held it. She had never looked more beautiful.

"Oh, Isabel, I would do so much more for you than that. You know that Ionly ask to be allowed to love and serve you."

"You're so strong, Bateman," she sighed. "It gives me such a deliciousfeeling of confidence."

"Isabel, I adore you."

He hardly knew how the inspiration had come to him, but suddenly heclasped her in his arms, and she, all unresisting, smiled into his eyes.

"Isabel, you know I wanted to marry you the very first day I saw you,"he cried passionately.

"Then why on earth didn't you ask me?" she replied.

She loved him. He could hardly believe it was true. She gave him herlovely lips to kiss. And as he held her in his arms he had a vision ofthe works of the Hunter Motor Traction and Automobile Company growing insize and importance till they covered a hundred acres, and of themillions of motors they would turn out, and of the great collection ofpictures he would form which should beat anything they had in New York.He would wear horn spectacles. And she, with the delicious pressure ofhis arms about her, sighed with happiness, for she thought of theexquisite house she would have, full of antique furniture, and of theconcerts she would give, and of the _thés dansants_, and the dinners towhich only the most cultured people would come. Bateman should wear hornspectacles.

"Poor Edward," she sighed.

 

When his home island of Raiatea was raided by invaders from Bora Bora, he fled to Tahiti, where he became the chief priest of Purea. Banks described ‘Tubia’ as ‘certainly a most proper man, well born, chief Tahowa or preist of this Island’.Tupaia met his first Europeans in 1767 when the English ship HMS Dolphin under Captain Samuel Wallis anchored in Matavai Bay, Tahiti, on a voyage around the world. The Endeavour anchored in this tropical paradise to observe the transit of Venus across the sun due on 3 June 1769 and thus calculate the sun’s distance from the earth.

 

When this mission was accomplished, Cook had secret orders from the Admiralty to search for the supposed southern ‘Continent or Land of great extent’. It was Banks who prevailed on Cook to allow Tupaia and his boy servant Taiata to come aboard Endeavour to accompany him back to England. ‘Thank heaven I have a sufficiency,’wrote Banks famously in his journal, ‘and I do not know why I may not keep him as a curiosity, as well as some of my neighbours do lions and tygers at a larger expence than he will probably ever put me to’

When Endeavour left Fort Venus in Matavai Bay on 13 July 1769, Tupaia guided Cook through the neighbouring islands, later named the Society Islands. A chart was drawn from Tupaia’s description of 72 islands centred on Tahiti. In New Zealand, he acted as an interpreter and go-between with the Maori, who understood his language and revered him as a priest and ambassador from their spiritual home. When the ship’s boats landed on the coast of Australia, he could not understand the language of the natives on the beach at Kurnell, who spoke Dharawal, an Aboriginal language, rather than Polynesian. Watching from the Endeavour as she sailed into Botany Bay on 29 April 1770, Banks observed a fishing party of four men under the south headland, each in his own small canoe holding a fishing spear. The wide-eyed, intent expression on the faces of the three men painted by Tupaia echoes the thoughts Banks entered in his journal. ‘These people seemed to be totally engag’d in what they were about,’ he wrote. ‘The ship passd within a quarter of a mile of them and yet they scarce lifted their eyes from their employment; I was almost inclind to think that attentive to their business and deafned by the noise of the surf they neither saw nor heard her go past them’.

Evidence of the identity of the unknown painter was first revealed in April 1997 when Banks’s biographer Harold B. Carter drew attention to the transcript of a letter written by Banks in 1812 to Dawson Turner, a Fellow of the Royal Society. Banks recalled a friendly exchange with a Maori at Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, on the first voyage of HMS Endeavour: “Tupaia the Indian who came with me from Otaheite learnt to draw in a way not quite unintelligible. The genius for caricature which all wild people possess led him to caricature me and he drew me with a nail in my hand delivering it to an Indian who sold me a Lobster but with my other hand I had a firm fist on the Lobster determined not to quit the nail till I had delivery and seizing of the art.”

 

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