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Adventure Jack London

The Martha

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"And who the dickens is Utami? Where did I ever meet you, my man?"

"You no forget the Huahine?" Utami chided. "Last time Huahine sail?"

Tudor gripped the Tahitian's hand a second time and shook it with genuine heartiness.

"There was only one kanaka who came out of the Huahine that last voyage, and that kanaka was Joe. The deuce take it, man, I'm glad to see you, though I never heard your new name before."

"Yes, everybody speak me Joe along the Huahine. Utami my name all the time, just the same."

"But what are you doing here?" Tudor asked, releasing the sailor's hand and leaning eagerly forward.

"Me sail along Missie Lackalanna her schooner Miele. We go Tahiti, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora-Bora, Manua, Tutuila, Apia, Savaii, and Fiji Islands--plenty Fiji Islands. Me stop along Missie Lackalanna in Solomons. Very soon she catch other schooner."

"He and I were the two survivors of the wreck of the Huahine," Tudor explained to the others. "Fifty-seven all told on board when we sailed from Huapa, and Joe and I were the only two that ever set foot on land again. Hurricane, you know, in the Paumotus. That was when I was after pearls."

"And you never told me, Utami, that you'd been wrecked in a hurricane," Joan said reproachfully.

The big Tahitian shifted his weight and flashed his teeth in a conciliating smile.

"Me no t'ink nothing 't all," he said.

He half-turned, as if to depart, by his manner indicating that he considered it time to go while yet he desired to remain.

"All right, Utami," Tudor said. "I'll see you in the morning and have a yarn."

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"He saved my life, the beggar," Tudor explained, as the Tahitian strode away and with heavy softness of foot went down the steps. "Swim! I never met a better swimmer."

And thereat, solicited by Joan, Tudor narrated the wreck of the Huahine; while Sheldon smoked and pondered, and decided that whatever the man's shortcomings were, he was at least not a liar.

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