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0105_001E Adventure Jack London

The Girl Who Had Not Grown Up

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"But may I not see you safely across?" Tudor asked, a pleading note in his voice that rasped on Sheldon's nerves.

"No, no, and again no," she cried. "You've all got your work to do, and so have I. I came to the Solomons to work, not to be escorted about like a doll. For that matter, here's my escort, and there are seven more like him."

Adamu Adam stood beside her, towering above her, as he towered above the three white men. The clinging cotton undershirt he wore could not hide the bulge of his tremendous muscles.

"Look at his fist," said Tudor. "I'd hate to receive a punch from it."

"I don't blame you." Joan laughed reminiscently. "I saw him hit the captain of a Swedish bark on the beach at Levuka, in the Fijis. It was the captain's fault. I saw it all myself, and it was splendid. Adamu only hit him once, and he broke the man's arm. You remember, Adamu?"

The big Tahitian smiled and nodded, his black eyes, soft and deer-like, seeming to give the lie to so belligerent a nature.

"We start in an hour in the whale-boat for Guvutu, big brother," Joan said to him. "Tell your brothers, all of them, so that they can get ready. We catch the Upolu for Sydney. You will all come along, and sail back to the Solomons in the new schooner. Take your extra shirts and dungarees along. Plenty cold weather down there. Now run along, and tell them to hurry. Leave the guns behind. Turn them over to Mr. Sheldon. We won't need them."

"If you are really bent upon going--" Sheldon began.

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"That's settled long ago," she answered shortly. "I'm going to pack now. But I'll tell you what you can do for me--issue some tobacco and other stuff they want to my men."

An hour later the three men had shaken hands with Joan down on the beach. She gave the signal, and the boat shoved off, six men at the oars, the seventh man for'ard, and Adamu Adam at the steering-sweep. Joan was standing up in the stern-sheets, reiterating her good-byes--a slim figure of a woman in the tight-fitting jacket she had worn ashore from the wreck, the long-barrelled Colt's revolver hanging from the loose belt around her waist, her clear-cut face like a boy's under the Stetson hat that failed to conceal the heavy masses of hair beneath.

"You'd better get into shelter," she called to them. "There's a big squall coming. And I hope you've got plenty of chain out, Captain Young. Good-bye! Good-bye, everybody!"

Her last words came out of the darkness, which wrapped itself solidly about the boat. Yet they continued to stare into the blackness in the direction in which the boat had disappeared, listening to the steady click of the oars in the rowlocks until it faded away and ceased.

"She is only a girl," Christian Young said with slow solemnity. The discovery seemed to have been made on the spur of the moment. "She is only a girl," he repeated with greater solemnity.

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