CHAPTER X  AN ISLAND HONEYMOON

    One day Dick climbed on to the tree above the house, and, driving Madame Koko off the nest upon which she was sitting, peeped in. There were several pale green eggs in it. He did not disturb them, but climbed down again, and the bird resumed her seat as if nothing had happened. Such an occurrence would have terrified a bird used to the ways of men, but here the birds were so fearless and so full of confidence that often they would follow Emmeline in the wood, flying from branch to branch, peering at her through the leaves, lighting quite close to her--once, even, on her shoulder.

    The days passed. Dick had lost his restlessness: his wish to wander had vanished. He had no reason to wander; perhaps that was the reason why. In all the broad earth he could not have found anything more desirable than what he had.

    Instead now of finding a half-naked savage followed dog like by his mate, you would have found of an evening a pair of lovers wandering on the reef. They had in a pathetic sort of way attempted to adorn the house with a blue flowering creeper taken from the wood and trained over the entrance.

    Emmeline, up to this, had mostly done the cooking, such as it was; Dick helped her now, always. He talked to her no longer in short sentences flung out as if to a dog; and she, almost losing the strange reserve that had clung to her from childhood, half showed him her mind. It was a curious mind: the mind of a dreamer, almost the mind of a poet. The Cluricaunes dwelt there, and vague shapes born of things she had heard about or dreamt of: she had thoughts about the sea and stars, the flowers and birds.

    Dick would listen to her as she talked, as a man might listen to the sound of a rivulet. His practical mind could take no share in the dreams of his other half, but her conversation pleased him.

    He would look at her for a long time together, absorbed in thought. He was admiring her.

    Her hair, blue-black and glossy, tangled him in its meshes; he would stroke it, so to speak, with his eyes, and then pull her close to him and bury his face in it; the smell of it was intoxicating. He breathed her as one does the perfume of a rose.

    Her ears were small, and like little white shells. He would take one between finger and thumb and play with it as if it were a toy, pulling at the lobe of it, or trying to flatten out the curved part. Her breasts, her shoulders, her knees, her little feet, every bit of her, he would examine and play with and kiss. She would lie and let him, seeming absorbed in some far-away thought, of which he was the object, then all at once her arms would go round him. All this used to go on in the broad light of day, under the shadow of the artu leaves, with no one to watch except the bright-eyed birds in the leaves above.

    Not all their time would be spent in this fashion. Dick was just as keen after the fish. He dug up with a spade-- improvised from one of the boards of the dinghy--a space of soft earth near the taro patch and planted the seeds of melons he found in the wood; he rethatched the house. They were, in short, as busy as they could be in such a climate, but love-making would come on them in fits, and then everything would be forgotten. Just as one revisits some spot to renew the memory of a painful or pleasant experience received there, they would return to the valley of the idol and spend a whole afternoon in its shade. The absolute happiness of wandering through the woods together, discovering new flowers, getting lost, and finding their way again, was a thing beyond expression.

    Dick had suddenly stumbled upon Love. His courtship had lasted only some twenty minutes; it was being gone over again now, and extended.

    One day, hearing a curious noise from the tree above the house, he climbed it. The noise came from the nest, which had been temporarily left by the mother bird. It was a gasping, wheezing sound, and it came from four wide-open beaks, so anxious to be fed that one could almost see into the very crops of the owners. They were Koko's children. In another year each of those ugly downy things would, if permitted to live, be a beautiful sapphire-coloured bird with a few dove-coloured tail feathers, coral beak, and bright, intelligent eyes. A few days ago each of these things was imprisoned in a pale green egg. A month ago they were nowhere.

    Something hit Dick on the cheek. It was the mother bird returned with food for the young ones. Dick drew his head aside, and she proceeded without more ado to fill their crops.


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