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Adventure Jack London

The Girl Who Had Not Grown Up

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"A dashed pretty one, and a good traveller," Tudor laughed. "She certainly has spunk, eh, Sheldon?"

"Yes, she is brave," was the reluctant answer for Sheldon did not feel disposed to talk about her.

"That's the American of it," Tudor went on. "Push, and go, and energy, and independence. What do you think, skipper?"

"I think she is young, very young, only a girl," replied the captain of the Minerva, continuing to stare into the blackness that hid the sea.

The blackness seemed suddenly to increase in density, and they stumbled up the beach, feeling their way to the gate.

"Watch out for nuts," Sheldon warned, as the first blast of the squall shrieked through the palms. They joined hands and staggered up the path, with the ripe cocoanuts thudding in a monstrous rain all around them. They gained the veranda, where they sat in silence over their whisky, each man staring straight out to sea, where the wildly swinging riding-light of the Minerva could be seen in the lulls of the driving rain.

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Somewhere out there, Sheldon reflected, was Joan Lackland, the girl who had not grown up, the woman good to look upon, with only a boy's mind and a boy's desires, leaving Berande amid storm and conflict in much the same manner that she had first arrived, in the stern-sheets of her whale-boat, Adamu Adam steering, her savage crew bending to the oars. And she was taking her Stetson hat with her, along with the cartridge-belt and the long-barrelled revolver. He suddenly discovered an immense affection for those fripperies of hers at which he had secretly laughed when first he saw them. He became aware of the sentimental direction in which his fancy was leading him, and felt inclined to laugh. But he did not laugh. The next moment he was busy visioning the hat, and belt, and revolver. Undoubtedly this was love, he thought, and he felt a tiny glow of pride in him in that the Solomons had not succeeded in killing all his sentiment.

An hour later, Christian Young stood up, knocked out his pipe, and prepared to go aboard and get under way.

"She's all right," he said, apropos of nothing spoken, and yet distinctly relevant to what was in each of their minds. "She's got a good boat's-crew, and she's a sailor herself. Good-night, Mr. Sheldon. Anything I can do for you down Marau-way?" He turned and pointed to a widening space of starry sky. "It's going to be a fine night after all. With this favouring bit of breeze she has sail on already, and she'll make Guvutu by daylight. Good-night."

"I guess I'll turn in, old man," Tudor said, rising and placing his glass on the table. "I'll start the first thing in the morning. It's been disgraceful the way I've been hanging on here. Good-night." Sheldon, sitting on alone, wondered if the other man would have decided to pull out in the morning had Joan not sailed away. Well, there was one bit of consolation in it: Joan had certainly lingered at Berande for no man, not even Tudor. "I start in an hour"--her words rang in his brain, and under his eyelids he could see her as she stood up and uttered them. He smiled. The instant she heard the news she had made up her mind to go. It was not very flattering to man, but what could any man count in her eyes when a schooner waiting to be bought in Sydney was in the wind? What a creature! What a creature!

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