'Say a word to her
'Say a word to her,' Dr Macphail whispered to his wife. 'She's all alone here, and it seems rather unkind to ignore her.'
Mrs. Macphail was shy, but she was in the habit of doing what her husband bade her.
'I think we're fellow lodgers here,' she said, rather foolishly.
'Terrible, ain't it, bein' cooped up in a one-horse burg like this?' answered Miss Thompson. 'And they tell me I'm lucky to have gotten a room. I don't see myself livin' in a native house, and that's what some have to do. I don't know why they don't have a hotel.'
They exchanged a few more words. Miss Thompson, loud-voiced and garrulous, was evidently quite willing to gossip, but Mrs. Macphail had a poor stock of small talk and presently she said:
'Well, I think we must go upstairs.'
In the evening when they sat down to their high tea, Davidson on coming in said:
'I see that woman downstairs has a couple of sailors sitting there. I wonder how she's gotten acquainted with them.'
'She can't be very particular,' said Mrs. Davidson.
They were all rather tired after the idle, aimless day.
' If there's going to be a fortnight of this I don't know what we shall feel like at the end of it,' said Dr Macphail.
'The only thing to do is to portion out the day to different activities,' answered the missionary. 'I shall set aside a certain number of hours to study and a certain number to exercise, rain or fine-in the wet season you can't afford to pay any attention to the rain-and a certain number to recreation.'
Dr Macphail looked at his companion with misgiving. Davidson's programme oppressed him. They were eating Hamburger steak again. It seemed the only dish the cook knew how to make. Then below the gramophone began. Davidson started nervously when he heard it, but said nothing. Men's voices floated up. Miss Thompson's guests were joining in a well-known song and presently they heard her voice too, hoarse and loud. There was a good deal of shouting and laughing. The four people upstairs, trying to make conversation, listened despite themselves to the clink of glasses and the scrape of chairs. More people had evidently come. Miss Thompson was giving a party.
'I wonder how she gets them all in,' said Mrs. Macphail suddenly breaking into a medical conversation between the missionary and her husband.
It showed whither her thoughts were wandering. The twitch of Davidson's face proved that, though he spoke of scientific things, his mind was busy in the same direction. Suddenly, while the doctor was giving some experience of practice on the Flanders front, rather prosily, he sprang to his feet with a cry. 'What's the matter, Alfred?' asked Mrs. Davidson. 'Of course! It never occurred to me. She's out of Iwelei.'
'She can't be.'
'She came on board at Honolulu. It's obvious. And she's carrying on her trade here. Here.'
He uttered the last word with a passion of indignation. 'What's Iwelei?' asked Mrs. Macphail.
He turned his gloomy eyes on her and his voice trembled with horror. 'The plague spot of Honolulu. The Red Light district. It was a blot on our civilization.'
Iwelei was on the edge of the city. You went down side streets by the harbour, in the darkness, across a rickety bridge, till you came to a deserted road, all ruts and holes, and then suddenly you came out into the light. There was parking room for motors on each side of the road, and there were saloons, tawdry and bright, each one noisy with its mechanical piano, and there were barbers' shops and tobacconists. There was a stir in the air and a sense of expectant gaiety. You turned down a narrow alley, either to the right or to the left, for the road divided Iwelei into two parts, and you found yourself in the district. There were rows of little bungalows, trim and neatly painted in green, and the pathway between them was broad and straight. It was laid out like a garden-city. In its respectable regularity, its order and spruceness, it gave an impression of sardonic horror; for never can the search for love have been so systematized and ordered. The pathways were lit by a rare lamp, but they would have been dark except for the lights that came from the open windows of the bungalows. Men wandered about, looking at the women who sat at their windows, reading or sewing, for the most part taking no notice of the passers-by; and like the women they were of all nationalities. There were Americans, sailors from the ships in port, enlisted men off the gunboats, somberly drunk, and soldiers from the regiments, white and black, quartered on the island; there were Japanese, walking in twos and threes; Hawaiians, Chinese in long robes, and Filipinos in preposterous hats. They were silent and as it were oppressed. Desire is sad.