Jerry of the Islands
Part 4 out of 4
salt-water tribes, which Somo, behind her walls, could easily fend
off, divined that it was the long-expected punitive man-of-war.
Despite his three-score years, he had never experienced a village
shelling. He had heard vague talk of what had happened in the
matter of shell-fire in other villages, but he had no conception of
it save that it must be, bullets on a larger scale than Snider
bullets that could be fired correspondingly longer distances through
But it was given to him to know shell-fire before he died. Bashti,
who had long waited the cruiser that was to avenge the destruction
of the Arangi and the taking of the heads of the two white men, and
who had long calculated the damage to be wrought, had given the
command to his people to flee to the mountains. First in the
vanguard, borne by a dozen young men, went his mat-wrapped parcels
of heads. The last slow trailers in the rear of the exodus were
just passing, and Nalasu, his bow and his eighty arrows clutched to
him, Jerry at his heels, made his first step to follow, when the air
above him was rent by a prodigiousness of sound.
Nalasu sat down abruptly. It was his first shell, and it was a
thousand times more terrible than he had imagined. It was a rip-
snorting, sky-splitting sound as of a cosmic fabric being torn
asunder between the hands of some powerful god. For all the world
it was like the roughest tearing across of sheets that were thick as
blankets, that were broad as the earth and wide as the sky.
Not only did he sit down just outside his door, but he crouched his
head to his knees and shielded it with the arch of his arms. And
Jerry, who had never heard shell-fire, much less imagined what it
was like, was impressed with the awfulness of it. It was to him a
natural catastrophe such as had happened to the Arangi when she was
flung down reeling on her side by the shouting wind. But, true to
his nature, he did not crouch down under the shriek of that first
shell. On the contrary, he bristled his hair and snarled up with
menacing teeth at whatever the thing was which was so enormously
present and yet invisible to his eyes.
Nalasu crouched closer when the shell burst beyond, and Jerry
snarled and rippled his hair afresh. Each repeated his actions with
each fresh shell, for, while they screamed no more loudly, they
burst in the jungle more closely. And Nalasu, who had lived a long
life most bravely in the midst of perils he had known, was destined
to die a coward out of his fear of the thing unknown, the chemically
propelled missile of the white masters. As the dropping shells
burst nearer and nearer, what final self-control he possessed left
him. Such was his utter panic that he might well have bitten his
veins and howled. With a lunatic scream, he sprang to his feet and
rushed inside the house as if forsooth its grass thatch could
protect his head from such huge projectiles. He collided with the
door-jamb, and, ere Jerry could follow him, whirled around in a part
circle into the centre of the floor just in time to receive the next
shell squarely upon his head.
Jerry had just gained the doorway when the shell exploded. The
house went into flying fragments, and Nalasu flew into fragments
with it. Jerry, in the doorway, caught in the out-draught of the
explosion, was flung a score of feet away. All in the same fraction
of an instant, earthquake, tidal wave, volcanic eruption, the
thunder of the heavens and the fire-flashing of an electric bolt
from the sky smote him and smote consciousness out of him.
He had no conception of how long he lay. Five minutes passed before
his legs made their first spasmodic movements, and, as he stumbled
to his feet and rocked giddily, he had no thought of the passage of
time. He had no thought about time at all. As a matter of course,
his own idea, on which he proceeded to act without being aware of
it, was that, a part of a second before, he had been struck a
terrific blow magnified incalculable times beyond the blow of a
stick at a nigger's hands.
His throat and lungs filled with the pungent stifling smoke of
powder, his nostrils with earth and dust, he frantically wheezed and
sneezed, leaping about, falling drunkenly, leaping into the air
again, staggering on his hind-legs, dabbing with his forepaws at his
nose head-downward between his forelegs, and even rubbing his nose
into the ground. He had no thought for anything save to remove the
biting pain from his nose and mouth, the suffocation from his lungs.
By a miracle he had escaped being struck by the flying splinters of
iron, and, thanks to his strong heart, had escaped being killed by
the shock of the explosion. Not until the end of five minutes of
mad struggling, in which he behaved for all the world like a
beheaded chicken, did he find life tolerable again. The maximum of
stifling and of agony passed, and, although he was still weak and
giddy, he tottered in the direction of the house and of Nalasu. And
there was no house and no Nalasu--only a debris intermingled of
While the shells continued to shriek and explode, now near, now far,
Jerry investigated the happening. As surely as the house was gone,
just as surely was Nalasu gone. Upon both had descended the
ultimate nothingness. All the immediate world seemed doomed to
nothingness. Life promised only somewhere else, in the high hills
and remote bush whither the tribe had already fled. Loyal he was to
his salt, to the master whom he had obeyed so long, nigger that he
was, who so long had fed him, and for whom he had entertained a true
affection. But this master no longer was.
Retreat Jerry did, but he was not hasty in retreat. For a time he
snarled at every shell-scream in the air and every shell-burst in
the bush. But after a time, while the awareness of them continued
uncomfortably with him, the hair on his neck remained laid down and
he neither uttered a snarl nor bared his teeth.
And when he parted from what had been and which had ceased to be,
not like the bush dogs did he whimper and run. Instead, he trotted
along the path at a regular and dignified pace. When he emerged
upon the main path, he found it deserted. The last refugee had
passed. The path, always travelled from daylight to dark, and which
he had so recently seen glutted with humans, now in its emptiness
affected him profoundly with the impression of the endingness of all
things in a perishing world. So it was that he did not sit down
under the banyan tree, but trotted along at the far rear of the
With his nose he read the narrative of the flight. Only once did he
encounter what advertised its terror. It was an entire group
annihilated by a shell. There were: an old man of fifty, with a
crutch because of the leg which had been slashed off by a shark when
he was a young boy; a dead Mary with a dead babe at her breast and a
dead child of three clutching her hand; and two dead pigs, huge and
fat, which the woman had been herding to safety.
And Jerry's nose told him of how the stream of the fugitives had
split and flooded past on each side and flowed together again
beyond. Incidents of the flight he did encounter: a part-chewed
joint of sugar-cane some child had dropped; a clay pipe, the stem
short from successive breakages; a single feather from some young
man's hair, and a calabash, full of cooked yams and sweet potatoes,
deposited carefully beside the trail by some Mary for whom its
weight had proved too great.
The shell-fire ceased as Jerry trotted along; next he heard the
rifle-fire from the landing-party, as it shot down the domestic pigs
on Somo's streets. He did not hear, however, the chopping down of
the coconut trees, any more than did he ever return to behold what
damage the axes had wrought.
For right here occurred with Jerry a wonderful thing that thinkers
of the world have not explained. He manifested in his dog's brain
the free agency of life, by which all the generations of
metaphysicians have postulated God, and by which all the
deterministic philosophers have been led by the nose despite their
clear denouncement of it as sheer illusion. What Jerry did he did.
He did not know how or why he did it any more than does the
philosopher know how or why he decides on mush and cream for
breakfast instead of two soft-boiled eggs.
What Jerry did was to yield in action to a brain impulse to do, not
what seemed the easier and more usual thing, but to do what seemed
the harder and more unusual thing. Since it is easier to endure the
known than to fly to the unknown; since both misery and fear love
company; the apparent easiest thing for Jerry to have done would
have been to follow the tribe of Somo into its fastnesses. Yet what
Jerry did was to diverge from the line of retreat and to start
northward, across the bounds of Somo, and continue northward into a
strange land of the unknown.
Had Nalasu not been struck down by the ultimate nothingness, Jerry
would have remained. This is true, and this, perhaps, to the one
who considers his action, might have been the way he reasoned. But
he did not reason it, did not reason at all; he acted on impulse.
He could count five objects, and pronounce them by name and number,
but he was incapable of reasoning that he would remain in Somo if
Nalasu lived, depart from Somo if Nalasu died. He merely departed
from Somo because Nalasu was dead, and the terrible shell-fire
passed quickly into the past of his consciousness, while the present
became vivid after the way of the present. Almost on his toes did
he tread the wild bushmen's trails, tense with apprehension of the
lurking death he know infested such paths, his ears cocked alertly
for jungle sounds, his eyes following his ears to discern what made
No more doughty nor daring was Columbus, venturing all that he was
to the unknown, than was Jerry in venturing this jungle-darkness of
black Malaita. And this wonderful thing, this seeming great deed of
free will, he performed in much the same way that the itching of
feet and tickle of fancy have led the feet of men over all the
Though Jerry never laid eyes on Somo again, Bashti returned with his
tribe the same day, grinning and chuckling as he appraised the
damage. Only a few grass houses had been damaged by the shells.
Only a few coconuts had been chopped down. And as for the slain
pigs, lest they spoil, he made of their carcasses a great feast.
One shell had knocked a hole through his sea-wall. He enlarged it
for a launching-ways, faced the sides of it with dry-fitted coral
rock, and gave orders for the building of an additional canoe-house.
The only vexation he suffered was the death of Nalasu and the
disappearance of Jerry--his two experiments in primitive eugenics.
A week Jerry spent in the bush, deterred always from penetrating to
the mountains by the bushmen who ever guarded the runways. And it
would have gone hard with him in the matter of food, had he not, on
the second day, encountered a lone small pig, evidently lost from
its litter. It was his first hunting adventure for a living, and it
prevented him from travelling farther, for, true to his instinct, he
remained by his kill until it was nearly devoured.
True, he ranged widely about the neighbourhood, finding no other
food he could capture. But always, until it was gone, he returned
to the slain pig. Yet he was not happy in his freedom. He was too
domesticated, too civilized. Too many thousands of years had
elapsed since his ancestors had run freely wild. He was lonely. He
could not get along without man. Too long had he, and the
generations before him, lived in intimate relationship with the two-
legged gods. Too long had his kind loved man, served him for love,
endured for love, died for love, and, in return, been partly
appreciated, less understood, and roughly loved.
So great was Jerry's loneliness that even a two-legged black-god was
desirable, since white-gods had long since faded into the limbo of
the past. For all he might have known, had he been capable of
conjecturing, the only white-gods in existence had perished. Acting
on the assumption that a black-god was better than no god, when he
had quite finished the little pig, he deflected his course to the
left, down-hill, toward the sea. He did this, again without
reasoning, merely because, in the subtle processes of his brain,
experience worked. His experience had been to live always close by
the sea; humans he had always encountered close by the sea; and
down-hill had invariably led to the sea.
He came out upon the shore of the reef-sheltered lagoon where ruined
grass houses told him men had lived. The jungle ran riot through
the place. Six-inch trees, throated with rotten remnants of
thatched roofs through which they had aspired toward the sun, rose
about him. Quick-growing trees had shadowed the kingposts so that
the idols and totems, seated in carved shark jaws, grinned greenly
and monstrously at the futility of man through a rime of moss and
mottled fungus. A poor little sea-wall, never much at its best,
sprawled in ruin from the coconut roots to the placid sea. Bananas,
plantains, and breadfruit lay rotting on the ground. Bones lay
about, human bones, and Jerry nosed them out, knowing them for what
they were, emblems of the nothingness of life. Skulls he did not
encounter, for the skulls that belonged to the scattered bones
ornamented the devil devil houses in the upland bush villages.
The salt tang of the sea gladdened his nostrils, and he snorted with
the pleasure of the stench of the mangrove swamp. But, another
Crusoe chancing upon the footprint of another man Friday, his nose,
not his eyes, shocked him electrically alert as he smelled the fresh
contact of a living man's foot with the ground. It was a nigger's
foot, but it was alive, it was immediate; and, as he traced it a
score of yards, he came upon another foot-scent, indubitably a white
Had there been an onlooker, he would have thought Jerry had gone
suddenly mad. He rushed frantically about, turning and twisting his
course, now his nose to the ground, now up in the air, whining as
frantically as he rushed, leaping abruptly at right angles as new
scents reached him, scurrying here and there and everywhere as if in
a game of tag with some invisible playfellow.
But he was reading the full report which many men had written on the
ground. A white man had been there, he learned, and a number of
blacks. Here a black had climbed a coconut tree and cast down the
nuts. There a banana tree had been despoiled of its clustered
fruit; and, beyond, it was evident that a similar event had happened
to a breadfruit tree. One thing, however, puzzled him--a scent new
to him that was neither black man's nor white man's. Had he had the
necessary knowledge and the wit of eye-observance, he would have
noted that the footprint was smaller than a man's and that the
toeprints were different from a Mary's in that they were close
together and did not press deeply into the earth. What bothered him
in his smelling was his ignorance of talcum powder. Pungent it was
in his nostrils, but never, since first he had smelled out the
footprints of man, had he encountered such a scent. And with this
were combined other and fainter scents that were equally strange to
Not long did he interest himself in such mystery. A white man's
footprints he had smelled, and through the maze of all the other
prints he followed the one print down through a breach of sea-wall
to the sea-pounded coral sand lapped by the sea. Here the latest
freshness of many feet drew together where the nose of a boat had
rested on the beach and where men had disembarked and embarked
again. He smelled up all the story, and, his forelegs in the water
till it touched his shoulders, he gazed out across the lagoon where
the disappearing trail was lost to his nose.
Had he been half an hour sooner he would have seen a boat, without
oars, gasoline-propelled, shooting across the quiet water. What he
did see was an Arangi. True, it was far larger than the Arangi he
had known, but it was white, it was long, it had masts, and it
floated on the surface of the sea. It had three masts, sky-lofty
and all of a size; but his observation was not trained to note the
difference between them and the one long and the one short mast of
the Arangi. The one floating world he had known was the white-
painted Arangi. And, since, without a quiver of doubt, this was the
Arangi, then, on board, would be his beloved Skipper. If Arangis
could resurrect, then could Skippers resurrect, and in utter faith
that the head of nothingness he had last seen on Bashti's knees he
would find again rejoined to its body and its two legs on the deck
of the white-painted floating world, he waded out to his depth, and,
swimming dared the sea.
He greatly dared, for in venturing the water he broke one of the
greatest and earliest taboos he had learned. In his vocabulary was
no word for "crocodile"; yet in his thought, as potent as any
utterable word, was an image of dreadful import--an image of a log
awash that was not a log and that was alive, that could swim upon
the surface, under the surface, and haul out across the dry land,
that was huge-toothed, mighty-mawed, and certain death to a swimming
But he continued the breaking of the taboo without fear. Unlike a
man who can be simultaneously conscious of two states of mind, and
who, swimming, would have known both the fear and the high courage
with which he overrode the fear, Jerry, as he swam, knew only one
state of mind, which was that he was swimming to the Arangi and to
Skipper. At the moment preceding the first stroke of his paws in
the water out of his depth, he had known all the terribleness of the
taboo he deliberately broke. But, launched out, the decision made,
the line of least resistance taken, he knew, single-thoughted,
single-hearted, only that he was going to Skipper.
Little practised as he was in swimming, he swam with all his
strength, whimpering in a sort of chant his eager love for Skipper
who indubitably must be aboard the white yacht half a mile away.
His little song of love, fraught with keenness of anxiety, came to
the ears of a man and woman lounging in deck-chairs under the
awning; and it was the quick-eyed woman who first saw the golden
head of Jerry and cried out what she saw.
"Lower a boat, Husband-Man," she commanded. "It's a little dog. He
"Dogs don't drown that easily," was "Husband-Man's" reply. "He'll
make it all right. But what under the sun a dog's doing out here .
. . " He lifted his marine glasses to his eyes and stared a moment.
"And a white man's dog at that!"
Jerry beat the water with his paws and moved steadily along,
straining his eyes at the growing yacht until suddenly warned by a
sensing of immediate danger. The taboo smote him. This that moved
toward him was the log awash that was not a log but a live thing of
peril. Part of it he saw above the surface moving sluggishly, and
ere that projecting part sank, he had an awareness that somehow it
was different from a log awash.
Next, something brushed past him, and he encountered it with a snarl
and a splashing of his forepaws. He was half-whirled about in the
vortex of the thing's passage caused by the alarmed flirt of its
tail. Shark it was, and not crocodile, and not so timidly would it
have sheered clear but for the fact that it was fairly full with a
recent feed of a huge sea turtle too feeble with age to escape.
Although he could not see it, Jerry sensed that the thing, the
instrument of nothingness, lurked about him. Nor did he see the
dorsal fin break surface and approach him from the rear. From the
yacht he heard rifle-shots in quick succession. From the rear a
panic splash came to his ears. That was all. The peril passed and
was forgotten. Nor did he connect the rifle-shots with the passing
of the peril. He did not know, and he was never to know, that one,
known to men as Harley Kennan, but known as "Husband-Man" by the
woman he called "Wife-Woman," who owned the three-topmast schooner
yacht Ariel, had saved his life by sending a thirty-thirty Marlin
bullet through the base of a shark's fin.
But Jerry was to know Harley Kennan, and quickly, for it was Harley
Kennan, a bowline around his body under his arm-pits, lowered by a
couple of seamen down the generous freeboard of the Ariel, who
gathered in by the nape of the neck the smooth-coated Irish terrier
that, treading water perpendicularly, had no eyes for him so eagerly
did he gaze at the line of faces along the rail in quest of the one
No pause for thanks did he make when he was dropped down upon the
deck. Instead, shaking himself instinctively as he ran, he scurried
along the deck for Skipper. The man and his wife laughed at the
"He acts as if he were demented with delight at being rescued," Mrs.
And Mr. Kennan: "It's not that. He must have a screw loose
somewhere. Perhaps he's one of those creatures who've slipped the
ratchet off the motion cog. Maybe he can't stop running till he
In the meantime Jerry continued to run, up port side and down
starboard side, from stern to bow and back again, wagging his stump
tail and laughing friendliness to the many two-legged gods he
encountered. Had he been able to think to such abstraction he would
have been astounded at the number of white-gods. Thirty there were
at least of them, not counting other gods that were neither black
nor white, but that still, two-legged, upright and garmented, were
beyond all peradventure gods. Likewise, had he been capable of such
generalization, he would have decided that the white-gods had not
yet all of them passed into the nothingness. As it was, he realized
all this without being aware that he realized it.
But there was no Skipper. He sniffed down the forecastle hatch,
sniffed into the galley where two Chinese cooks jabbered
unintelligibly to him, sniffed down the cabin companionway, sniffed
down the engine-room skylight and for the first time knew gasoline
and engine oil; but sniff as he would, wherever he ran, no scent did
he catch of Skipper.
Aft, at the wheel, he would have sat down and howled his heartbreak
of disappointment, had not a white-god, evidently of command, in
gold-decorated white duck cap and uniform, spoken to him.
Instantly, always a gentleman, Jerry smiled with flattened ears of
courtesy, wagged his tail, and approached. The hand of this high
god had almost caressed his head when the woman's voice came down
the deck in speech that Jerry did not understand. The words and
terms of it were beyond him. But he sensed power of command in it,
which was verified by the quick withdrawal of the hand of the god in
white and gold who had almost caressed him. This god, stiffened
electrically and pointed Jerry along the deck, and, with mouth
encouragements and urgings the import of which Jerry could only
guess, directed him toward the one who so commanded by saying:
"Send him, please, along to me, Captain Winters."
Jerry wriggled his body in delight of obeying, and would loyally
have presented his head to her outreaching caress of hand, had not
the strangeness and difference of her deterred him. He broke off in
mid-approach and with a show of teeth snarled himself back and away
from the windblown skirt of her. The only human females he had
known were naked Marys. This skirt, flapping in the wind like a
sail, reminded him of the menacing mainsail of the Arangi when it
had jarred and crashed and swooped above his head. The noises her
mouth made were gentle and ingratiating, but the fearsome skirt
still flapped in the breeze.
"You ridiculous dog!" she laughed. "I'm not going to bite you."
But her husband thrust out a rough, sure hand and drew Jerry in to
him. And Jerry wriggled in ecstasy under the god's caress, kissing
the hand with a red flicker of tongue. Next, Harley Kennan directed
him toward the woman sitting up in the deck-chair and bending
forward, with hovering hands of greeting. Jerry obeyed. He
advanced with flattened ears and laughing mouth: but, just ere she
could touch him, the wind fluttered the skirt again and he backed
away with a snarl.
"It's not you that he's afraid of, Villa," he said. "But of your
skirt. Perhaps he's never seen a skirt before."
"You mean," Villa Kennan challenged, "that these head-hunting
cannibals ashore here keep records of pedigrees and maintain
kennels; for surely this absurd adventurer of a dog is as proper an
Irish terrier as the Ariel is an Oregon-pine-planked schooner."
Harley Kennan laughed in acknowledgment. Villa Kennan laughed too;
and Jerry knew that these were a pair of happy gods, and himself
laughed with them.
Of his own initiative, he approached the lady god again, attracted
by the talcum powder and other minor fragrances he had already
identified as the strange scents encountered on the beach. But the
unfortunate trade wind again fluttered her skirt, and again he
backed away--not so far, this time, with much less of a bristle of
his neck and shoulder hair, and with no more of a snarl than a mere
half-baring of his fangs.
"He's afraid of your skirt," Harley insisted. "Look at him! He
wants to come to you, but the skirt keeps him away. Tuck it under
you so that it won't flutter, and see what happens."
Villa Kennan carried out the suggestion, and Jerry came
circumspectly, bent his head to her hand and writhed his back under
it, the while he sniffed her feet, stocking-clad and shoe-covered,
and knew them as the feet which had trod uncovered the ruined ways
of the village ashore.
"No doubt of it," Harley agreed. "He's white-man selected, white-
man bred and born. He has a history. He knows adventure from the
ground-roots up. If he could tell his story, we'd sit listening
entranced for days. Depend on it, he's not known blacks all his
life. Let's try him on Johnny."
Johnny, whom Kennan beckoned up to him, was a loan from the Resident
Commissioner of the British Solomons at Tulagi, who had come along
as pilot and guide to Kennan rather than as philosopher and friend.
Johnny approached grinning, and Jerry's demeanour immediately
changed. His body stiffened under Villa Kennan's hand as he drew
away from her and stalked stiff-legged to the black. Jerry's ears
did not flatten, nor did he laugh fellowship with his mouth, as he
inspected Johnny and smelt his calves for future reference.
Cavalier he was to the extreme, and, after the briefest of
inspection, he turned back to Villa Kennan.
"What did I say?" her husband exulted. "He knows the colour line.
He's a white man's dog that has been trained to it."
"My word," spoke up Johnny. "Me know 'm that fella dog. Me know 'm
papa and mamma belong along him. Big fella white marster Mister
Haggin stop along Meringe, mamma and papa stop along him that fella
Harley Kennan uttered a sharp exclamation.
"Of course," he cried. "The Commissioner told me all about it. The
Arangi, that the Somo people captured, sailed last from Meringe
Plantation. Johnny recognizes the dog as the same breed as the pair
Haggin, of Meringe, must possess. But that was a long time ago. He
must have been a little puppy. Of course he's a white man's dog."
"And yet you've overlooked the crowning proof of it," Villa Kennan
teased. "The dog carries the evidence around with him."
Harley looked Jerry over carefully.
"Indisputable evidence," she insisted.
After another prolonged scrutiny, Kennan shook his head.
"Blamed if I can see anything so indisputable as to leave conjecture
"The tail," his wife gurgled. "Surely the natives do not bob the
tails of their dogs.--Do they, Johnny? Do black man stop along
Malaita chop 'm off tail along dog."
"No chop 'm off," Johnny agreed. "Mister Haggin along Meringe he
chop 'm off. My word, he chop 'm that fella tail, you bet."
"Then he's the sole survivor of the Arangi," Villa Kennan concluded.
"Don't you agree, Mr. Sherlock Holmes Kennan?"
"I salute you, Mrs. S. Holmes," her husband acknowledged gallantly.
"And all that remains is for you to lead me directly to the head of
La Perouse himself. The sailing directions record that he left it
somewhere in these islands."
Little did they guess that Jerry had lived on intimate terms with
one Bashti, not many miles away along the shore, who, in Somo, at
that very moment, sat in his grass house pondering over a head on
his withered knees that had once been the head of the great
navigator, the history of which had been forgotten by the sons of
the chief who had taken it.
The fine, three-topmast schooner Ariel, on a cruise around the
world, had already been out a year from San Francisco when Jerry
boarded her. As a world, and as a white-god world, she was to him
beyond compare. She was not small like the Arangi, nor was she
cluttered fore and aft, on deck and below, with a spawn of niggers.
The only black Jerry found on her was Johnny; while her spaciousness
was filled principally with two-legged white-gods.
He met them everywhere, at the wheel, on lookout, washing decks,
polishing brass-work, running aloft, or tailing on to sheets and
tackles half a dozen at a time. But there was a difference. There
were gods and gods, and Jerry was not long in learning that in the
hierarchy of the heaven of these white-gods on the Ariel, the
sailorizing, ship-working ones were far beneath the captain and his
two white-and-gold-clad officers. These, in turn, were less than
Harley Kennan and Villa Kennan; for them, it came quickly to him,
Harley Kennan commanded. Nevertheless, there was one thing he did
not learn and was destined never to learn, namely, the supreme god
over all on the Ariel. Although he never tried to know, being
unable to think to such a distance, he never came to know whether it
was Harley Kennan who commanded Villa, or Villa Kennan who commanded
Harley. In a way, without vexing himself with the problem, he
accepted their over-lordship of the world as dual. Neither out-
ranked the other. They seemed to rule co-equal, while all others
bowed before them.
It is not true that to feed a dog is to win a dog's heart. Never
did Harley or Villa feed Jerry; yet it was to them he elected to
belong, them he elected to love and serve rather than to the
Japanese steward who regularly fed him. For that matter, Jerry,
like any dog, was able to differentiate between the mere direct
food-giver and the food source. That is, subconsciously, he was
aware that not alone his own food, but the food of all on board
found its source in the man and woman. They it was who fed all and
ruled all. Captain Winters might give orders to the sailors, but
Captain Winters took orders from Harley Kennan. Jerry knew this as
indubitably as he acted upon it, although all the while it never
entered his head as an item of conscious knowledge.
And, as he had been accustomed, all his life, as with Mister Haggin,
Skipper, and even with Bashti and the chief devil devil doctor of
Somo, he attached himself to the high gods themselves, and from the
gods under them received deference accordingly. As Skipper, on the
Arangi, and Bashti in Somo, had promulgated taboos, so the man and
the woman on the Ariel protected Jerry with taboos. From Sano, the
Japanese steward, and from him alone, did Jerry receive food. Not
from any sailor in whaleboat or launch could he accept, or would he
be offered, a bit of biscuit or an invitation to go ashore for a
run. Nor did they offer it. Nor were they permitted to become
intimate, to the extent of romping and playing with him, nor even of
whistling to him along the deck.
By nature a "one-man" dog, all this was very acceptable to Jerry.
Differences of degree there were, of course; but no one more
delicately and definitely knew those differences than did Jerry
himself. Thus, it was permissible for the two officers to greet him
with a "Hello," or a "Good morning," and even to touch a hand in a
brief and friendly pat to his head. With Captain Winters, however,
greater familiarity obtained. Captain Winters could rub his ears,
shake hands with his, scratch his back, and even roughly catch him
by the jowls. But Captain Winters invariably surrendered him up
when the one man and the one woman appeared on deck.
When it came to liberties, delicious, wanton liberties, Jerry alone
of all on board could take them with the man and woman, and, on the
other hand, they were the only two to whom he permitted liberties.
Any indignity that Villa Kennan chose to inflict upon him he was
throbbingly glad to receive, such as doubling his ears inside out
till they stuck, at the same time making him sit upright, with
helpless forefeet paddling the air for equilibrium, while she blew
roguishly in his face and nostrils. As bad was Harley Kennan's
trick of catching him gloriously asleep on an edge of Villa's skirt
and of tickling the hair between his toes and making him kick
involuntarily in his sleep, until he kicked himself awake to hearing
of gurgles and snickers of laughter at his expense.
In turn, at night on deck, wriggling her toes at him under a rug to
simulate some strange and crawling creature of an invader, he would
dare to simulate his own befoolment and quite disrupt Villa's bed
with his frantic ferocious attack on the thing that he knew was only
her toes. In gales of laughter, intermingled with half-genuine
cries of alarm as almost his teeth caught her toes, she always
concluded by gathering him into her arms and laughing the last of
her laughter away into his flattened ears of joy and love. Who
else, of all on board the Ariel, would have dared such devilishness
with the lady-god's bed? This question it never entered his mind to
ask himself; yet he was fully aware of how exclusively favoured he
Another of his deliberate tricks was one discovered by accident.
Thrusting his muzzle to meet her in love, he chanced to encounter
her face with his soft-hard little nose with such force as to make
her recoil and cry out. When, another time, in all innocence this
happened again, he became conscious of it and of its effect upon
her; and thereafter, when she grew too wildly wild, too wantonly
facetious in her teasing playful love of him, he would thrust his
muzzle at her face and make her throw her head back to escape him.
After a time, learning that if he persisted, she would settle the
situation by gathering him into her arms and gurgling into his ears,
he made it a point to act his part until such delectable surrender
and joyful culmination were achieved.
Never, by accident, in this deliberate game, did he hurt her chin or
cheek so severely as he hurt his own tender nose, but in the hurt
itself he found more of delight than pain. All of fun it was, all
through, and, in addition, it was love fun. Such hurt was more than
fun. Such pain was heart-pleasure.
All dogs are god-worshippers. More fortunate than most dogs, Jerry
won to a pair of gods that, no matter how much they commanded, loved
more. Although his nose might threaten grievously to hurt the cheek
of his adored god, rather than have it really hurt he would have
spilled out all the love-tide of his heart that constituted the life
of him. He did not live for food, for shelter, for a comfortable
place between the darknesses that rounded existence. He lived for
love. And as surely as he gladly lived for love, would he have died
gladly for love.
Not quickly, in Somo, had Jerry's memory of Skipper and Mister
Haggin faded. Life in the cannibal village had been too
unsatisfying. There had been too little love. Only love can erase
the memory of love, or rather, the hurt of lost love. And on board
the Ariel such erasement occurred quickly. Jerry did not forget
Skipper and Mister Haggin. But at the moments he remembered them
the yearning that accompanied the memory grew less pronounced and
painful. The intervals between the moments widened, nor did Skipper
and Mister Haggin take form and reality so frequently in his dreams;
for, after the manner of dogs, he dreamed much and vividly.
Northward, along the leeward coast of Malaita, the Ariel worked her
leisurely way, threading the colour-riotous lagoon that lay between
the shore-reefs and outer-reefs, daring passages so narrow and
coral-patched that Captain Winters averred each day added a thousand
grey hairs to his head, and dropping anchor off every walled inlet
of the outer reef and every mangrove swamp of the mainland that
looked promising of cannibal life. For Harley and Villa Kennan were
in no hurry. So long as the way was interesting, they dared not how
long it proved from anywhere to anywhere.
During this time Jerry learned a new name for himself--or, rather,
an entire series of names for himself. This was because of an
aversion on Harley Kennan's part against renaming a named thing.
"A name he must have had," he argued to Villa. "Haggin must have
named him before he sailed on the Arangi. Therefore, nameless he
must be until we get back to Tulagi and find out his real name."
"What's in a name?" Villa had begun to tease.
"Everything," her husband retorted. "Think of yourself,
shipwrecked, called by your rescuers 'Mrs. Riggs,' or 'Mademoiselle
de Maupin,' or just plain 'Topsy.' And think of me being called
'Benedict Arnold,' or ' Judas,' or . . . or . . . 'Haman.' No, keep
him nameless, until we find out his original name."
"Must call him something," she objected. "Can't think of him
without thinking something."
"Then call him many names, but never the same name twice. Call him
'Dog' to-day, and 'Mister Dog' to-morrow, and the next day something
So it was, more by tone and emphasis and context of situation than
by anything else, that Jerry came hazily to identify himself with
names such as: Dog, Mister Dog, Adventurer, Strong Useful One, Sing
Song Silly, Noname, and Quivering Love-Heart. These were a few of
the many names lavished on him by Villa. Harley, in turn, addressed
him as: Man-Dog, Incorruptible One, Brass Tacks, Then Some, Sin of
Gold, South Sea Satrap, Nimrod, Young Nick, and Lion-Slayer. In
brief, the man and woman competed with each other to name him most
without naming him ever the same. And Jerry, less by sound and
syllable than by what of their hearts vibrated in their throats,
soon learned to know himself by any name they chose to address to
him. He no longer thought of himself as Jerry, but, instead, as any
sound that sounded nice or was love-sounded.
His great disappointment (if "disappointment" may be considered to
describe an unconsciousness of failure to realize the expected) was
in the matter of language. No one on board, not even Harley and
Villa, talked Nalasu's talk. All Jerry's large vocabulary, all his
proficiency in the use of it, which would have set him apart as a
marvel beyond all other dogs in the mastery of speech, was wasted on
those of the Ariel. They did not speak, much less guess, the
existence of the whiff-whuff shorthand language which Nalasu had
taught him, and which, Nalasu dead, Jerry alone knew of all living
creatures in the world.
In vain Jerry tried it on the lady-god. Sitting squatted on his
haunches, his head bowed forward and held between her hands, he
would talk and talk and elicit never a responsive word from her.
With tiny whines and thin whimperings, with whiffs and whuffs and
growly sorts of noises down in his throat, he would try to tell her
somewhat of his tale. She was all meltingness of sympathy; she
would hold her ear so near to the articulate mouth of him as almost
to drown him in the flowing fragrance of her hair; and yet her brain
told her nothing of what he uttered, although her heart surely
sensed his intent.
"Bless me, Husband-Man!" she would cry out. "The Dog is talking. I
know he is talking. He is telling me all about himself. The story
of his life is mine, could I but understand. It's right here
pouring into my miserable inadequate ears, only I can't catch it."
Harley was sceptical, but her woman's intuition guessed aright.
"I know it!" she would assure her husband. "I tell you he could
tell the tale of all his adventures if only we had understanding.
No other dog has ever talked this way to me. There's a tale there.
I feel its touches. Sometimes almost do I know he is telling of
joy, of love, of high elation, and combat. Again, it is
indignation, hurt of outrage, despair and sadness."
"Naturally," Harley agreed quietly. "A white man's dog, adrift
among the anthropophagi of Malaita, would experience all such
sensations and, just as naturally, a white man's woman, a Wife-
Woman, a dear, delightful Villa Kennan woman, can of herself imagine
such a dog's experiences and deem his silly noises a recital of
them, failing to recognize them as projections of her own delicious,
sensitive, sympathetic self. The song of the sea from the lips of
the shell--Pshaw! The song oneself makes of the sea and puts into
"Just the same--"
"Always the same," he gallantly cut her off. "Always right,
especially when most wrong. Not in navigation, of course, nor in
affairs such as the multiplication table, where the brass tacks of
reality stud the way of one's ship among the rocks and shoals of the
sea; but right, truth beyond truth to truth higher than truth,
namely, intuitional truth."
"Now you are laughing at me with your superior man-wisdom," she
retorted. "But I know--" she paused for the strength of words she
needed, and words forsook her, so that her quick sweeping gesture of
hand-touch to heart named authority that overrode all speech.
"We agree--I salute," he laughed gaily. "It was just precisely what
I was saying. Our hearts can talk our heads down almost any time,
and, best all, our hearts are always right despite the statistic
that they are mostly wrong."
Harley Kennan did not believe, and never did believe, his wife's
report of the tales Jerry told. And through all his days to the
last one of them, he considered the whole matter a pleasant fancy,
all poesy of sentiment, on Villa's part.
But Jerry, four-legged, smooth-coated, Irish terrier that he was,
had the gift of tongues. If he could not teach languages, at least
he could learn languages. Without effort, and quickly, practically
with no teaching, he began picking up the language of the Ariel.
Unfortunately, it was not a whiff-whuff, dog-possible language such
as Nalasu had invented. While Jerry came to understand much that
was spoken on the Ariel, he could speak none of it. Three names, at
least, he had for the lady-god: "Villa," "Wife-Woman," "Missis
Kennan," for so he heard her variously called. But he could not so
call her. This was god-language entire, which only gods could talk.
It was unlike the language of Nalasu's devising, which had been a
compromise between god-talk and dog-talk, so that a god and a dog
could talk in the common medium.
In the same way he learned many names for the one-man god: "Mister
Kennan," "Harley," "Captain Kennan," and "Skipper." Only in the
intimacy of the three of them alone did Jerry hear him called:
"Husband-Man," "My Man," "Patient One," "Dear Man," "Lover," and
"This Woman's Delight." But in no way could Jerry utter these names
in address of the one-man nor the many names in address of the one-
woman. Yet on a quiet night with no wind among the trees, often and
often had he whispered to Nalasu, by whiff-whuff of name, from a
hundred feet away.
One day, bending over him, her hair (drying from a salt-water swim)
flying about him, the one-woman, her two hands holding his head and
jowls so that his ribbon of kissing tongue just missed her nose in
the empty air, sang to him: "'Don't know what to call him, but he's
mighty lak' a rose!'"
On another day she repeated this, at the same time singing most of
the song to him softly in his ear. In the midst of it Jerry
surprised her. Equally true might be the statement that he
surprised himself. Never, had he consciously done such a thing
before. And he did it without volition. He never intended to do
it. For that matter, the very thing he did was what mastered him
into doing it. No more than could he refrain from shaking the water
from his back after a swim, or from kicking in his sleep when his
feet were tickled, could he have avoided doing this imperative
As her voice, in the song, made soft vibrations in his ears, it
seemed to him that she grew dim and vague before him, and that
somehow, under the soft searching prod of her song, he was
otherwhere. So much was he otherwhere that he did the surprising
thing. He sat down abruptly, almost cataleptically, drew his head
away from the clutch of her hands and out of the entanglement of her
hair, and, his nose thrust upward at an angle of forty-five degrees,
he began to quiver and to breathe audibly in rhythm to the rhythm of
her singing. With a quick jerk, cataleptically, his nose pointed to
the zenith, his mouth opened, and a flood of sound poured forth,
running swiftly upward in crescendo and slowly falling as it died
This howl was the beginning, and it led to the calling him "Sing
Song Silly." For Villa Kennan was quick to seize upon the howling
her singing induced and to develop it. Never did he hang back when
she sat down, extended her welcoming hands to him, and invited:
"Come on, Sing Song Silly." He would come to her, sit down with the
loved fragrance of her hair in his nostrils, lay the side of his
head against hers, point his nose past her ear, and almost
immediately follow her when she began her low singing. Minor
strains were especially provocative in getting him started, and,
once started, he would sing with her as long as she wished.
Singing it truly was. Apt in all ways of speech, he quickly learned
to soften and subdue his howl till it was mellow and golden. Even
could he manage it to die away almost to a whisper, and to rise and
fall, accelerate and retard, in obedience to her own voice and in
accord with it.
Jerry enjoyed the singing much in the same way the opium eater
enjoys his dreams. For dream he did, vaguely and indistinctly, eyes
wide open and awake, the lady-god's hair in a faint-scented cloud
about him, her voice mourning with his, his consciousness drowning
in the dreams of otherwhereness that came to him of the singing and
that was the singing. Memories of pain were his, but of pain so
long forgotten that it was no longer pain. Rather did it permeate
him with a delicious sadness, and lift him away and out of the Ariel
(lying at anchor in some coral lagoon) to that unreal place of
For visions were his at such times. In the cold bleakness of night,
it would seem he sat on a bare hill and raised his howl to the
stars, while out of the dark, from far away, would drift to him an
answering howl. And other howls, near and far, would drift along
until the night was vocal with his kind. His kind it was. Without
knowing it he knew it, this camaraderie of the land of Otherwhere.
Nalasu, in teaching him the whiff-whuff language, deliberately had
gone into the intelligence of him; but Villa, unwitting of what she
was doing, went into the heart of him, and into the heart of his
heredity, touching the profoundest chords of ancient memories and
making them respond.
As instance: dim shapes and shadowy forms would sometimes appear to
him out of the night, and as they flitted spectrally past he would
hear, as in a dream, the hunting cries of the pack; and, as his
pulse quickened, his own hunting instinct would rouse until his
controlled soft-howling in the song broke into eager whinings. His
head would lower out of the entanglement of the woman's hair; his
feet would begin making restless, spasmodic movements as if running;
and Presto, in a flash, he would be out and away, across the face of
time, out of reality and into the dream, himself running in the
midst of those shadowy forms in the hunting fellowship of the pack.
And as men have ever desired the dust of the poppy and the juice of
the hemp, so Jerry desired the joys that were his when Villa Kennan
opened her arms to him, embraced him with her hair, and sang him
across time and space into the dream of his ancient kind.
Not always, however, were such experiences his when they sang
together. Usually, unaccompanied by visions, he knew no more than
vaguenesses of sensations, sadly sweet, ghosts of memories that they
were. At other times, incited by such sadness, images of Skipper
and Mister Haggin would throng his mind; images, too, of Terrence,
and Biddy, and Michael, and the rest of the long-vanished life at
"My dear," Harley said to Villa at the conclusion of one such
singing, "it's fortunate for him that you are not an animal trainer,
or, rather, I suppose, it would be better called 'trained animal
show-woman'; for you'd be topping the bill in all the music-halls
and vaudeville houses of the world."
"If I did," she replied, "I know he'd just love to do it with me--"
"Which would make it a very unusual turn," Harley caught her up.
"You mean . . .?"
"That in about one turn in a hundred does the animal love its work
or is the animal loved by its trainer."
"I thought all the cruelty had been done away with long ago," she
"So the audience thinks, and the audience is ninety-nine times
Villa heaved a great sigh of renunciation as she said, "Then I
suppose I must abandon such promising and lucrative career right now
in the very moment you have discovered it for me. Just the same the
billboards would look splendid with my name in the hugest letters--"
"Villa Kennan the Thrush-throated Songstress, and Sing Song Silly
the Irish-Terrier Tenor," her husband pictured the head-lines for
And with dancing eyes and lolling tongue Jerry joined in the
laughter, not because he knew what it was about, but because it
tokened they were happy and his love prompted him to be happy with
For Jerry had found, and in the uttermost, what his nature craved--
the love of a god. Recognizing the duality of their lordship over
the Ariel, he loved the pair of them; yet, somehow, perhaps because
she had penetrated deepest into his heart with her magic voice that
transported him to the land of Otherwhere, he loved the lady-god
beyond all love he had ever known, not even excluding his love for
One thing Jerry learned early on the Ariel, namely, that nigger-
chasing was not permitted. Eager to please and serve his new gods,
he took advantage of the first opportunity to worry a canoe-load of
blacks who came visiting on board. The quick chiding of Villa and
the command of Harley made him pause in amazement. Fully believing
he had been mistaken, he resumed his ragging of the particular black
he had picked upon. This time Harley's voice was peremptory, and
Jerry came to him, his wagging tail and wriggling body all eagerness
of apology, as was his rose-strip of tongue that kissed the hand of
forgiveness with which Harley patted him.
Next, Villa called him to her. Holding him close to her with her
hands on his jowls, eye to eye and nose to nose, she talked to him
earnestly about the sin of nigger-chasing. She told him that he was
no common bush-dog, but a blooded Irish gentleman, and that no dog
that was a gentleman ever did such things as chase unoffending black
men. To all of which he listened with unblinking serious eyes,
understanding little of what she said, yet comprehending all.
"Naughty" was a word in the Ariel language he had already learned,
and she used it several times. "Naughty," to him, meant "must not,"
and was by way of expressing a taboo.
Since it was their way and their will, who was he, he might well
have asked himself, to disobey their rule or question it? If
niggers were not to be chased, then chase them he would not, despite
the fact that Skipper had encouraged him to chase them. Not in such
set terms did Jerry consider the matter; but in his own way he
accepted the conclusions.
Love of a god, with him, implied service. It pleased him to please
with service. And the foundation-stone of service, in his case, was
obedience. Yet it strained him sore for a time to refrain from
snarl and snap when the legs of strange and presumptuous blacks
passed near him along the Ariel's white deck.
But there were times and times, as he was to learn, and the time
came when Villa Kennan wanted a bath, a real bath in fresh, rain-
descended, running water, and when Johnny, the black pilot from
Tulagi, made a mistake. The chart showed a mile of the Suli river
where it emptied into the sea. Why it showed only a mile was
because no white man had ever explored it farther. When Villa
proposed the bath, her husband advised with Johnny. Johnny shook
"No fella boy stop 'm along that place," he said. "No make 'm
trouble along you. Bush fella boy stop 'm long way too much."
So it was that the launch went ashore, and, while its crew lolled in
the shade of the beach coconuts, Villa, Harley, and Jerry followed
the river inland a quarter of a mile to the first likely pool.
"One can never be too sure," Harley said, taking his automatic
pistol from its holster and placing it on top his heap of clothes.
"A stray bunch of blacks might just happen to surprise us."
Villa stepped into the water to her knees, looked up at the dark
jungle roof high overhead through which only occasional shafts of
sunlight penetrated, and shuddered.
"An appropriate setting for a dark deed," she smiled, then scooped a
handful of chill water against her husband, who plunged in in
For a time Jerry sat by their clothes and watched the frolic. Then
the drifting shadow of a huge butterfly attracted his attention, and
soon he was nosing through the jungle on the trail of a wood-rat.
It was not a very fresh trail. He knew that well enough; but in the
deeps of him were all his instincts of ancient training--instincts
to hunt, to prowl, to pursue living things, in short, to play the
game of getting his own meat though for ages man had got the meat
for him and his kind.
So it was, exercising faculties that were no longer necessary, but
that were still alive in him and clamorous for exercise, he followed
the long-since passed wood-rat with all the soft-footed crouching
craft of the meat-pursuer and with utmost fineness of reading the
scent. The trail crossed a fresh trail, a trail very fresh, very
immediately fresh. As if a rope had been attached to it, his head
was jerked abruptly to right angles with his body. The unmistakable
smell of a black was in his nostrils. Further, it was a strange
black, for he did not identify it with the many he possessed filed
away in the pigeon-holes of his brain.
Forgotten was the stale wood-rat as he followed the new trail.
Curiosity and play impelled him. He had no thought of apprehension
for Villa and Harley--not even when he reached the spot where the
black, evidently startled by bearing their voices, had stood and
debated, and so left a very strong scent. From this point the trail
swerved off toward the pool. Nervously alert, strung to extreme
tension, but without alarm, still playing at the game of tracking,
From the pool came occasional cries and laughter, and each time they
reached his ears Jerry experienced glad little thrills. Had he been
asked, and had he been able to express the sensations of emotion in
terms of thought, he would have said that the sweetest sound in the
world was any sound of Villa Kennan's voice, and that, next
sweetest, was any sound of Harley Kennan's voice. Their voices
thrilled him, always, reminding him of his love for them and that he
was beloved of them.
With the first sight of the strange black, which occurred close to
the pool, Jerry's suspicions were aroused. He was not conducting
himself as an ordinary black, not on evil intent, should conduct
himself. Instead, he betrayed all the actions of one who lurked in
the perpetration of harm. He crouched on the jungle floor, peering
around a great root of a board tree. Jerry bristled and himself
crouched as he watched.
Once, the black raised his rifle half-way to his shoulder; but, with
an outburst of splashing and laughter, his unconscious victims
evidently removed themselves from his field of vision. His rifle
was no old-fashioned Snider, but a modern, repeating Winchester; and
he showed habituation to firing it from his shoulder rather than
from the hip after the manner of most Malaitans.
Not satisfied with his position by the board tree, he lowered his
gun to his side and crept closer to the pool. Jerry crouched low
and followed. So low did he crouch that his head, extended
horizontally forward, was much lower than his shoulders which were
humped up queerly and composed the highest part of him. When the
black paused, Jerry paused, as if instantly frozen. When the black
moved, he moved, but more swiftly, cutting down the distance between
them. And all the while the hair of his neck and shoulders bristled
in recurrent waves of ferocity and wrath. No golden dog this, ears
flattened and tongue laughing in the arms of the lady-god, no Sing
Song Silly chanting ancient memories in the cloud-entanglement of
her hair; but a four-legged creature of battle, a fanged killer ripe
to rend and destroy.
Jerry intended to attack as soon as he had crept sufficiently near.
He was unaware of the Ariel taboo against nigger-chasing. At that
moment it had no place in his consciousness. All he knew was that
harm threatened the man and woman and that this nigger intended this
So much had Jerry gained on his quarry, that when again the black
squatted for his shot, Jerry deemed he was near enough to rush. The
rifle was coming to shoulder when he sprang forward. Swiftly as he
sprang, he made no sound, and his victim's first warning was when
Jerry's body, launched like a projectile, smote the black squarely
between the shoulders. At the same moment his teeth entered the
back of the neck, but too near the base in the lumpy shoulder
muscles to permit the fangs to penetrate to the spinal cord.
In the first fright of surprise, the black's finger pulled the
trigger and his throat loosed an unearthly yell. Knocked forward on
his face, he rolled over and grappled with Jerry, who slashed cheek-
bone and cheek and ribboned an ear; for it is the way of an Irish
terrier to bite repeatedly and quickly rather than to hold a bulldog
When Harley Kennan, automatic in hand and naked as Adam, reached the
spot, he found dog and man locked together and tearing up the forest
mould in their struggle. The black, his face streaming blood, was
throttling Jerry with both hands around his neck; and Jerry,
snorting, choking, snarling, was scratching for dear life with the
claws of his hind feet. No puppy claws were they, but the stout
claws of a mature dog that were stiffened by a backing of hard
muscles. And they ripped naked chest and abdomen full length again
and again until the whole front of the man was streaming red.
Harley Kennan did not dare chance a shot, so closely were the
combatants locked. Instead, stepping in close; he smashed down the
butt of his automatic upon the side of the man's head. Released by
the relaxing of the stunned black's hands, Jerry flung himself in a
flash upon the exposed throat, and only Harley's hand on his neck
and Harley's sharp command made him cease and stand clear. He
trembled with rage and continued to snarl ferociously, although he
would desist long enough to glance up with his eyes, flatten his
ears, and wag his tail each time Harley uttered "Good boy."
"Good boy" he knew for praise; and he knew beyond any doubt, by
Harley's repetition of it, that he had served him and served him
"Do you know the beggar intended to bush-whack us," Harley told
Villa, who, half-dressed and still dressing, had joined him. "It
wasn't fifty feet and he couldn't have missed. Look at the
Winchester. No old smooth bore. And a fellow with a gun like that
would know how to use it."
"But why didn't he?" she queried.
Her husband pointed to Jerry.
Villa's eyes brightened with quick comprehension. "You mean . . .
?" she began.
He nodded. "Just that. Sing Song Silly beat him to it." He bent,
rolled the man over, and discovered the lacerated back of the neck.
"That's where he landed on him first, and he must have had his
finger on the trigger, drawing down on you and me, most likely me
first, when Sing Song Silly broke up his calculations."
Villa was only half hearing, for she had Jerry in her arms and was
calling him "Blessed Dog," the while she stilled his snarling and
soothed down the last bristling hair.
But Jerry snarled again and was for leaping upon the black when he
stirred restlessly and dizzily sat up. Harley removed a knife from
between the bare skin and a belt.
"What name belong you?" he demanded.
But the black had eyes only for Jerry, staring at him in wondering
amaze until he pieced the situation together in his growing clarity
of brain and realized that such a small chunky animal had spoiled
"My word," he grinned to Harley, "that fella dog put 'm crimp along
me any amount."
He felt out the wounds of his neck and face, while his eyes embraced
the fact that the white master was in possession of his rifle.
"You give 'm musket belong me," he said impudently.
"I give 'm you bang alongside head," was Harley's answer.
"He doesn't seem to me to be a regular Malaitan," he told Villa.
"In the first place, where would he get a rifle like that? Then
think of his nerve. He must have seen us drop anchor, and he must
have known our launch was on the beach. Yet he played to take our
heads and get away with them back into the bush--"
"What name belong you?" he again demanded.
But not until Johnny and the launch crew arrived breathless from
their run, did he learn. Johnny's eyes gloated when he beheld the
prisoner, and he addressed Kennan in evident excitement.
"You give 'm me that fella boy," he begged. "Eh? You give 'm me
that fella boy."
"What name you want 'm?"
Not for some time would Johnny answer this question, and then only
when Kennan told him that there was no harm done and that he
intended to let the black go. At this Johnny protested vehemently.
"Maybe you fetch 'm that fella boy along Government House, Tulagi,
Government House give 'm you twenty pounds. Him plenty bad fella
boy too much. Makawao he name stop along him. Bad fella boy too
much. Him Queensland boy--"
"What name Queensland?" Kennan interrupted. "He belong that fella
Johnny shook his head.
"Him belong along Malaita first time. Long time before too much he
recruit 'm along schooner go work along Queensland."
"He's a return Queenslander," Harley interpreted to Villa. "You
know, when Australia went 'all white,' the Queensland plantations
had to send all the black birds back. This Makawao is evidently one
of them, and a hard case as well, if there's anything in Johnny's
gammon about twenty pounds reward for him. That's a big price for a
Johnny continued his explanation which, reduced to flat and sober
English, was to the effect that Makawao had always borne a bad
character. In Queensland he had served a total of four years in
jail for thefts, robberies, and attempted murder. Returned to the
Solomons by the Australian government, he had recruited on Buli
Plantation for the purpose--as was afterwards proved--of getting
arms and ammunition. For an attempt to kill the manager he had
received fifty lashes at Tulagi and served a year. Returned to Buli
Plantation to finish his labour service, he had contrived to kill
the owner in the manager's absence and to escape in a whaleboat.
In the whaleboat with him he had taken all the weapons and
ammunition of the plantation, the owner's head, ten Malaita
recruits, and two recruits from San Cristobal--the two last because
they were salt-water men and could handle the whaleboat. Himself
and the ten Malaitans, being bushmen, were too ignorant of the sea
to dare the long passage from Guadalcanar.
On the way, he had raided the little islet of Ugi, sacked the store,
and taken the head of the solitary trader, a gentle-souled half-
caste from Norfolk Island who traced back directly to a Pitcairn
ancestry straight from the loins of McCoy of the Bounty. Arrived
safely at Malaita, he and his fellows, no longer having any use for
the two San Cristobal boys, had taken their heads and eaten their
"My word, him bad fella boy any amount," Johnny finished his tale.
"Government House, Tulagi, damn glad give 'm twenty pounds along
"You blessed Sing Song Silly," Villa, murmured in Jerry's ears. "If
it hadn't been for you--"
"Your head and mine would even now be galumping through the bush as
Makawao hit the high places for home," Harley concluded for her.
"My word, some fella dog that, any amount," he added lightly. "And
I gave him merry Ned just the other day for nigger-chasing, and he
knew his business better than I did all the time."
"If anybody tries to claim him--" Villa threatened.
Harley confirmed her muttered sentiment with a nod.
"Any way," he said, with a smile, "there would have been one
consolation if your head had gone up into the bush."
"Consolation!" she cried, throaty with indignation.
"Why, yes; because in that case my head would have gone along."
"You dear and blessed Husband-Man," she murmured, a quick cloudiness
of moisture in her eyes, as with her eyes she embraced him, her arms
still around Jerry, who, sensing the ecstasy of the moment, kissed
her fragrant cheek with his ribbon-tongue of love.
When the Ariel cleared from Malu, on the north-west coast of
Malaita, Malaita sank down beneath the sea-rim astern and, so far as
Jerry's life was concerned, remained sunk for ever--another vanished
world, that, in his consciousness, partook of the ultimate
nothingness that had befallen Skipper. For all Jerry might have
known, though he pondered it not, Malaita was a universe, beheaded
and resting on the knees of some brooding lesser god, himself vastly
mightier than Bashti whose knees bore the brooding weight of
Skipper's sun-dried, smoke-cured head, this lesser god vexed and
questing, feeling and guessing at the dual twin-mysteries of time
and space and of motion and matter, above, beneath, around, and
Only, in Jerry's case, there was no pondering of the problem, no
awareness of the existence of such mysteries. He merely accepted
Malaita as another world that had ceased to be. He remembered it as
he remembered dreams. Himself a live thing, solid and substantial,
possessed of weight and dimension, a reality incontrovertible, he
moved through the space and place of being, concrete, hard, quick,
convincing, an absoluteness of something surrounded by the shades
and shadows of the fluxing phantasmagoria of nothing.
He took his worlds one by one. One by one his worlds evaporated,
rose beyond his vision as vapours in the hot alembic of the sun,
sank for ever beneath sea-levels, themselves unreal and passing as
the phantoms of a dream. The totality of the minute, simple world
of the humans, microscopic and negligible as it was in the siderial
universe, was as far beyond his guessing as is the siderial universe
beyond the starriest guesses and most abysmal imaginings of man.
Jerry was never to see the dark island of savagery again, although
often in his sleeping dreams it was to return to him in vivid
illusion, as he relived his days upon it, from the destruction of
the Arangi and the man-eating orgy on the beach to his flight from
the shell-scattered house and flesh of Nalasu. These dream episodes
constituted for him another land of Otherwhere, mysterious, unreal,
and evanescent as clouds drifting across the sky or bubbles taking
iridescent form and bursting on the surface of the sea. Froth and
foam it was, quick-vanishing as he awoke, non-existent as Skipper,
Skipper's head on the withered knees of Bashti in the lofty grass
house. Malaita the real, Malaita the concrete and ponderable,
vanished and vanished for ever, as Meringe had vanished, as Skipper
had vanished, into the nothingness.
From Malaita the Ariel steered west of north to Ongtong Java and to
Tasman--great atolls that sweltered under the Line not quite awash
in the vast waste of the West South Pacific. After Tasman was
another wide sea-stretch to the high island of Bougainville.
Thence, bearing generally south-east and making slow progress in the
dead beat to windward, the Ariel dropped anchor in nearly every
harbour of the Solomons, from Choiseul and Ronongo islands, to the
islands of Kulambangra, Vangunu, Pavuvu, and New Georgia. Even did
she ride to anchor, desolately lonely, in the Bay of a Thousand
Last of all, so far as concerned the Solomons, her anchor rumbled
down and bit into the coral-sanded bottom of the harbour of Tulagi,
where, ashore on Florida Island, lived and ruled the Resident
To the Commissioner, Harley Kennan duly turned over Makawao, who was
committed to a grass-house jail, well guarded, to sit in leg-irons
against the time of trial for his many crimes. And Johnny, the
pilot, ere he returned to the service of the Commissioner, received
a fair portion of the twenty pounds of head money that Kennan
divided among the members of the launch crew who had raced through
the jungle to the rescue the day Jerry had taken Makawao by the back
of the neck and startled him into pulling the trigger of his unaimed
"I'll tell you his name," the Commissioner said, as they sat on the
wide veranda of his bungalow. "It's one of Haggin's terriers--
Haggin of Meringe Lagoon. The dog's father is Terrence, the mother
is Biddy. The dog's own name is Jerry, for I was present at the
christening before ever his eyes were open. Better yet, I'll show
you his brother. His brother's name is Michael. He's nigger-chaser
on the Eugenie, the two-topmast schooner that rides abreast of you.
Captain Kellar is the skipper. I'll have him bring Michael ashore.
Beyond all doubt, this Jerry is the sole survivor of the Arangi."
"When I get the time, and a sufficient margin of funds, I shall pay
a visit to Chief Bashti--oh, no British cruiser program. I'll
charter a couple of trading ketches, take my own black police force
and as many white men as I cannot prevent from volunteering. There
won't be any shelling of grass houses. I'll land my shore party
down the coast and cut in and come down upon Somo from the rear,
timing my vessels to arrive on Somo's sea-front at the same time."
"You will answer slaughter with slaughter?" Villa Kennan objected.
"I will answer slaughter with law," the Commissioner replied. "I
will teach Somo law. I hope that no accidents will occur. I hope
that no life will be lost on either side. I know, however, that I
shall recover Captain Van Horn's head, and his mate Borckman's, and
bring them back to Tulagi for Christian burial. I know that I shall
get old Bashti by the scruff of the neck and sit him down while I
pump law and square-dealing into him. Of course . . . "
The Commissioner, ascetic-looking, an Oxford graduate, narrow-
shouldered and elderly, tired-eyed and bespectacled like the scholar
he was, like the scientist he was, shrugged his shoulders. "Of
course, if they are not amenable to reason, there may be trouble,
and some of them and some of us will get hurt. But, one way or the
other, the conclusion will be the same. Old Bashti will learn that
it is expedient to maintain white men's heads on their shoulders."
"But how will he learn?" Villa Kennan asked. "If he is shrewd
enough not to fight you, and merely sits and listens to your English
law, it will be no more than a huge joke to him. He will no more
than pay the price of listening to a lecture for any atrocity he
"On the contrary, my dear Mrs. Kennan. If he listens peaceably to
the lecture, I shall fine him only a hundred thousand coconuts, five
tons of ivory nut, one hundred fathoms of shell money, and twenty
fat pigs. If he refuses to listen to the lecture and goes on the
war path, then, unpleasantly for me, I assure you, I shall be
compelled to thrash him and his village, first: and, next, I shall
triple the fine he must pay and lecture the law into him a trifle
"Suppose he doesn't fight, stops his ears to the lecture, and
declines to pay?" Villa Kennan persisted.
"Then he shall be my guest, here in Tulagi, until he changes his
mind and heart, and does pay, and listens to an entire course of
So it was that Jerry came to hear his old-time name on the lips of
Villa and Harley, and saw once again his full-brother Michael.
"Say nothing," Harley muttered to Villa, as they made out, peering
over the bow of the shore-coming whaleboat, the rough coat, red-
wheaten in colour, of Michael. "We won't know anything about
anything, and we won't even let on we're watching what they do."
Jerry, feigning interest in digging a hole in the sand as if he were
on a fresh scent, was unaware of Michael's nearness. In fact, so
well had Jerry feigned that he had forgotten it was all a game, and
his interest was very real as he sniffed and snorted joyously in the
bottom of the hole he had dug. So deep was it, that all he showed
of himself was his hind-legs, his rump, and an intelligent and
stiffly erect stump of a tail.
Little wonder that he and Michael failed to see each other. And
Michael, spilling over with unused vitality from the cramped space
of the Eugenie's deck, scampered down the beach in a hurly-burly of
joy, scenting a thousand intimate land-scents as he ran, and
describing a jerky and eccentric course as he made short dashes and
good-natured snaps at the coconut crabs that scuttled across his
path to the safety of the water or reared up and menaced him with
formidable claws and a spluttering and foaming of the shell-lids of
The beach was only so long. The end of it reached where rose the
rugged wall of a headland, and while the Commissioner introduced
Captain Kellar to Mr. and Mrs. Kennan, Michael came tearing back
across the wet-hard sand. So interested was he in everything that
he failed to notice the small rear-end portion of Jerry that was
visible above the level surface of the beach. Jerry's ears had
given him warning, and, the precise instant that he backed hurriedly
up and out of the hole, Michael collided with him. As Jerry was
rolled, and as Michael fell clear over him, both erupted into
ferocious snarls and growls. They regained their legs, bristled and
showed teeth at each other, and stalked stiff-leggedly, in a stately
and dignified sort of way, as they drew intimidating semi-circles
about each other.
But they were fooling all the while, and were more than a trifle
embarrassed. For in each of their brains were bright identification
pictures of the plantation house and compound and beach of Meringe.
They knew, but they were reticent of recognition. No longer
puppies, vaguely proud of the sedateness of maturity, they strove to
be proud and sedate while all their impulse was to rush together in
a frantic ecstasy.
Michael it was, less travelled in the world than Jerry, by nature
not so self-controlled, who threw the play-acting of dignity to the
wind, and, with shrill whinings of emotion, with body-wrigglings of
delight, flashed out his tongue of love and shouldered his brother
roughly in eagerness to get near to him.
Jerry responded as eagerly with kiss of tongue and contact of
shoulder; then both, springing apart, looked at each other, alert
and querying, almost in half challenge, Jerry's ears pricked into
living interrogations, Michael's one good ear similarly questioning,
his withered ear retaining its permanent queer and crinkly cock in
the tip of it. As one, they sprang away in a wild scurry down the
beach, side by side, laughing to each other and occasionally
striking their shoulders together as they ran.
"No doubt of it," said the Commissioner. "The very way their father
and mother run. I have watched them often."
But, after ten days of comradeship, came the parting. It was
Michael's first visit on the Ariel, and he and Jerry had spent a
frolicking half-hour on her white deck amid the sound and commotion
of hoisting in boats, making sail, and heaving out anchor. As the
Ariel began to move through the water and heeled to the filling of
her canvas by the brisk trade-wind, the Commissioner and Captain
Kellar shook last farewells and scrambled down the gang-plank to
their waiting whaleboats. At the last moment Captain Kellar had
caught Michael up, tucked him under an arm, and with him dropped
into the, sternsheets of his whaleboat.
Painters were cast off, and in the sternsheets of each boat solitary
white men were standing up, heads bared in graciousness of conduct
to the furnace-stab of the tropic sun, as they waved additional and
final farewells. And Michael, swept by the contagion of excitement,
barked and barked again, as if it were a festival of the gods being
"Say good-bye to your brother, Jerry," Villa Kennan prompted in
Jerry's ear, as she held him, his quivering flanks between her two
palms, on the rail where she had lifted him.
And Jerry, not understanding her speech, torn about with conflicting
desires, acknowledged her speech with wriggling body, a quick back-
toss of head, and a red flash of kissing tongue, and, the next
moment, his head over the rail and lowered to see the swiftly
diminishing Michael, was mouthing grief and woe very much akin to
the grief and woe his mother, Biddy, had mouthed in the long ago, on
the beach of Meringe, when he had sailed away with Skipper.
For Jerry had learned partings, and beyond all peradventure this was
a parting, though little he dreamed that he would again meet Michael
across the years and across the world, in a fabled valley of far
California, where they would live out their days in the hearts and
arms of the beloved gods.
Michael, his forefeet on the gunwale, barked to him in a puzzled,
questioning sort of way, and Jerry whimpered back incommunicable
understanding. The lady-god pressed his two flanks together
reassuringly, and he turned to her, his cool nose touched
questioningly to her cheek. She gathered his body close against her
breast in one encircling arm, her free hand resting on the rail,
half-closed, a pink-and-white heart of flower, fragrant and
seducing. Jerry's nose quested the way of it. The aperture
invited. With snuggling, budging, and nudging-movements he spread
the fingers slightly wider as his nose penetrated into the sheer
delight and loveliness of her hand.
He came to rest, his golden muzzle soft-enfolded to the eyes, and
was very still, all forgetful of the Ariel showing her copper to the
sun under the press of the wind, all forgetful of Michael growing
small in the distance as the whaleboat grew small astern. No less
still was Villa. Both were playing the game, although to her it was
As long as he could possibly contain himself, Jerry maintained his
stiffness. And then, his love bursting beyond the control of him,
he gave a sniff--as prodigious a one as he had sniffed into the
tunnel of Skipper's hand in the long ago on the deck of the Arangi.
And, as Skipper had relaxed into the laughter of love, so did the
lady-god now. She gurgled gleefully. Her fingers tightened, in a
caress that almost hurt, on Jerry's muzzle. Her other hand and arm
crushed him against her till he gasped. Yet all the while his stump
of tail valiantly bobbed back and forth, and, when released from
such blissful contact, his silky ears flattened back and down as,
with first a scarlet slash of tongue to cheek, he seized her hand
between his teeth and dented the soft skin with a love bite that did
And so, for Jerry, vanished Tulagi, its Commissioner's bungalow on
top of the hill, its vessels riding to anchor in the harbour, and
Michael, his full blood-brother. He had grown accustomed to such
vanishments. In such way had vanished as in the mirage of a dream,
Meringe, Somo, and the Arangi. In such way had vanished all the worlds
and harbours and roadsteads and atoll lagoons where the Ariel had
had lifted her laid anchor and gone on across and over the erasing sea-rim.
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