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A Message From Boucher
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"What name?" she asked sharply. "What name belong you?"
"Me Aroa," he said.
She remembered him as one of the two sick boys she had nursed at the hospital. The other one had died.
"Me take 'm plenty fella medicine too much," Aroa was saying.
"Well, and you all right now," she answered.
"Me want 'm tobacco, plenty fella tobacco; me want 'm calico; me want 'm porpoise teeth; me want 'm one fella belt."
She looked at him humorously, expecting to see a smile, or at least a grin, on his face. Instead, his face was expressionless. Save for a narrow breech-clout, a pair of ear-plugs, and about his kinky hair a chaplet of white cowrie-shells, he was naked. His body was fresh-oiled and shiny, and his eyes glistened in the starlight like some wild animal's. The rest of the boys had crowded up at his back in a solid wall. Some one of them giggled, but the remainder regarded her in morose and intense silence.
"Well?" she said. "What for you want plenty fella things?"
"Me take 'm medicine," quoth Aroa. "You pay me."
And this was a sample of their gratitude, she thought. It looked as if Sheldon had been right after all. Aroa waited stolidly. A leaping fish splashed far out on the water. A tiny wavelet murmured sleepily on the beach. The shadow of a flying-fox drifted by in velvet silence overhead. A light air fanned coolly on her cheek; it was the land-breeze beginning to blow.
"You go along quarters," she said, starting to turn on her heel to enter the gate.
"You pay me," said the boy.
"Aroa, you all the same one big fool. I no pay you. Now you go."
But the black was unmoved. She felt that he was regarding her almost insolently as he repeated:
"I take 'm medicine. You pay me. You pay me now."
Then it was that she lost her temper and cuffed his ears so soundly as to drive him back among his fellows. But they did not break up. Another boy stepped forward.
"You pay me," he said.
His eyes had the querulous, troubled look such as she had noticed in monkeys; but while he was patently uncomfortable under her scrutiny, his thick lips were drawn firmly in an effort at sullen determination.
"What for?" she asked.
"Me Gogoomy," he said. "Bawo brother belong me."
Bawo, she remembered, was the sick boy who had died.
"Go on," she commanded.
"Bawo take 'm medicine. Bawo finish. Bawo my brother. You pay me. Father belong me one big fella chief along Port Adams. You pay me."
"Gogoomy, you just the same as Aroa, one big fool. My word, who pay me for medicine?"
She dismissed the matter by passing through the gate and closing it. But Gogoomy pressed up against it and said impudently:
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