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And on the instant speech rushed to Sheldon's lips.
"I hope you won't attempt anything like it again, that's all-- except that I shall be only too happy any time to extend to you the courtesy of my whale-boat. It will land you in Tulagi in a few hours."
"As if that would settle it," was the retort.
"I don't understand," Sheldon said simply.
"Then it is because you don't wish to understand."
"Still I don't understand," Sheldon said in steady, level tones. "All that is clear to me is that you are exaggerating your own blunder into something serious."
Tudor grinned maliciously and replied, -
"It would seem that you are doing the exaggerating, inviting me to leave in your whale-boat. It is telling me that Berande is not big enough for the pair of us. Now let me tell you that the Solomon Islands is not big enough for the pair of us. This thing's got to be settled between us, and it may as well be settled right here and now."
"I can understand your fire-eating manners as being natural to you," Sheldon went on wearily, "but why you should try them on me is what I can't comprehend. You surely don't want to quarrel with me."
"I certainly do."
"But what in heaven's name for?"
Tudor surveyed him with withering disgust.
"You haven't the soul of a louse. I suppose any man could make love to your wife--"
"But I have no wife," Sheldon interrupted.
"Then you ought to have. The situation is outrageous. You might at least marry her, as I am honourably willing to do."
For the first time Sheldon's rising anger boiled over.
"You--" he began violently, then abruptly caught control of himself and went on soothingly, "you'd better take a drink and think it over. That's my advice to you. Of course, when you do get cool, after talking to me in this fashion you won't want to stay on any longer, so while you're getting that drink I'll call the boat'screw and launch a boat. You'll be in Tulagi by eight this evening."
He turned toward the door, as if to put his words into execution, but the other caught him by the shoulder and twirled him around.
"Look here, Sheldon, I told you the Solomons were too small for the pair of us, and I meant it."
"Is that an offer to buy Berande, lock, stock, and barrel?" Sheldon queried.
"No, it isn't. It's an invitation to fight."
"But what the devil do you want to fight with me for?" Sheldon's irritation was growing at the other's persistence. "I've no quarrel with you. And what quarrel can you have with me? I have never interfered with you. You were my guest. Miss Lackland is my partner. If you saw fit to make love to her, and somehow failed to succeed, why should you want to fight with me? This is the twentieth century, my dear fellow, and duelling went out of fashion before you and I were born."
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