You heard him yourself ask to see it. I had not told him. He knew. Somebody else told him. And I owed him the money." "Mapuhi is a fool," mimicked Ngakura. She was twelve years old and did not know any better. Mapuhi relieved his feelings by sending her reeling from a box on the ear; while Tefara and Nauri burst into tears and continued to upbraid him after the manner of women.
And when she told of Levy, and dropped the pearl into Tefara's hand, even she was reconciled to the reality of her mother-in-law. "In the morning," said Tefara, "you will sell the pearl to Raoul for five thousand French." "The house?" objected Nauri. "He will build the house," Tefara answered. "He ways it will cost four thousand French.
Travelling quickly, with but few delays, we crossed the Busanga country, mainly covered by dense, dark forest and unhealthy marshes, where the odour of decayed vegetable matter was sickening, until we came to a great mountain rearing its snowy crest into the clouds, which Omar told me was called the Nauri.
On the yet restless edge of the lagoon, Mapuhi saw the broken bodies of those that had failed in the landing. Undoubtedly Tefara and Nauri were among them. He went along the beach examining them, and came upon his wife, lying half in and half out of the water. He sat down and wept, making harsh animal noises after the manner of primitive grief. Then she stirred uneasily, and groaned.
A few days' march from the mystic mountain of Nauri we approached a little town called Imigu, but found it had been sacked and burned, evidently by Arab slave-raiders, who, Omar said, were constantly descending upon the towns and villages on the border of his land.
And you must build the house on my island, which is Fakarava." "Is that all?" Raoul asked incredulously. "There must be a sewing machine," spoke up Tefara, Mapuhi's wife. "Not forgetting the octagon-drop-clock," added Nauri, Mapuhi's mother. "Yes, that is all," said Mapuhi. Young Raoul laughed. He laughed long and heartily. But while he laughed he secretly performed problems in mental arithmetic.
"I am coming in," said the voice of Nauri. One end of the matting lifted. Tefara tried to dive under the blankets, but Mapuhi held on to her. He had to hold on to something. Together, struggling with each other, with shivering bodies and chattering teeth, they gazed with protruding eyes at the lifting mat. They saw Nauri, dripping with sea water, without her ahu, creep in.
In the meantime, Nauri, torn from her family by the hurricane, had been swept away on an adventure of her own. Clinging to a rough plank that wounded and bruised her and that filled her body with splinters, she was thrown clear over the atoll and carried away to sea. Here, under the amazing buffets of mountains of water, she lost her plank.
A hand fumbled against the mat that served for a door. "Who is there?" Mapuhi cried. "Nauri," came the answer. "Can you tell me where is my son, Mapuhi?" Tefara screamed and gripped her husband's arm. "A ghost!" she chattered. "A ghost!" Mapuhi's face was a ghastly yellow. He clung weakly to his wife. "Good woman," he said in faltering tones, striving to disguise his vice, "I know your son well.
Mapuhi folded his arms in sorrow and sat with bowed head. He had been robbed of his pearl. In place of the house, he had paid a debt. There was nothing to show for the pearl. "You are a fool," said Tefara. "You are a fool," said Nauri, his mother. "Why did you let the pearl into his hand?" "What was I to do?" Mapuhi protested. "I owed him the money. He knew I had the pearl.