'It was the most crying scandal of the Pacific'
It was the most crying scandal of the Pacific,' exclaimed Davidson vehemently. 'The missionaries had been agitating against it for years, and at last the local press took it up. The police refused to stir. You know their argument. They say that vice is inevitable and consequently the best thing is to localize and control it. The truth is, they were paid. Paid. They were paid by the saloon-keepers, paid by the bullies, paid by the women themselves. At last they were forced to move.'
'I read about it in the papers that came on board in Honolulu,' said Dr Macphail.
'Iwelei, with its sin and shame, ceased to exist on the very day we arrived. The whole population was brought before the justices. I don't know why I didn't understand at once what that woman was.'
'Now you come to speak of it,' said Mrs. Macphail, 'I remember seeing her come on board only a few minutes before the boat sailed. I remember thinking at the time she was cutting it rather fine.'
'How dare she come here!' cried Davidson indignantly. 'I'm not going to allow it.'
He strode towards the door.
'What are you going to do?' asked Macphail.
'What do you expect me to? I'm going to stop it. I'm not going to have this house turned into-into . . .'
He sought for a word that should not offend the ladies' ears. His eyes were flashing and his pale face was paler still in his emotion.
'It sounds as though there were three or four men down there,' said the doctor. 'Don't you think it's rather rash to go in just now?'
The missionary gave him a contemptuous look and without a word flung out of the room.
'You know Mr. Davidson very little if you think the fear of personal danger can stop him in the performance of his duty,' said his wife.
She sat with her hands nervously clasped, a spot of colour on her high cheek¬bones, listening to what was about to happen below. They all listened. They heard him clatter down the wooden stairs and throw open the door. The singing stopped suddenly, but the gramophone continued to bray out its vulgar tune. They heard Davidson's voice and then the noise of something heavy falling. The music stopped. He had hurled the gramophone on the floor. Then again they heard Davidson's voice, they could not make out the words, then Miss Thompson's, loud and shrill, then a confused clamour as though several people were shouting together at the top of their lungs. Mrs. Davidson gave a little gasp, and she clenched her hands more tightly. Dr Macphail looked uncertainly from her to his wife. He did not want to go down, but he wondered if they expected him to. Then there was something that sounded like a scuffle. The noise now was more distinct. It might be that Davidson was being thrown out of the room. The door was slammed. There was a moment's silence and they heard Davidson come up the stairs again. He went to his room.
'I think I'll go to him,' said Mrs. Davidson.
She got up and went out.
'If you want me, just call,' said Mrs. Macphail, and then when the other was gone: 'I hope he isn't hurt.'
'Why couldn't he mind his own business?' said Dr Macphail.
They sat in silence for a minute or two and then they both started, for the gramophone began to play once more, defiantly, and mocking voices shouted hoarsely the words of an obscene song.
Next day Mrs. Davidson was pale and tired. She complained of headache, and she looked old and wizened. She told Mrs. Macphail that the missionary had not slept at all; he had passed the night in a state of frightful agitation and at five had got up and gone out. A glass of beer had been thrown over him and his clothes were stained and stinking. But a sombre fire glowed in Mrs. Davidson's eyes when she spoke of Miss Thompson.
'She'll bitterly rue the day when she flouted Mr. Davidson,' she said. 'Mr. Davidson has a wonderful heart and no one who is in trouble has ever gone to him without being comforted, but he has no mercy for sin, and when his righteous wrath is excited he's terrible.'