The Missionary

Cover of book The Missionary
Categories: Fiction » Literature

From Content: "Oh-Eny!" "Well, you needn't be angry, Vane. I kissed you this morning, you know." "That's no reason why you should kiss that chap, too! You're my sweetheart." "Is she? Well, she won't b


e much longer, because I'm going to have her." "Are you? Shut up, or I'll punch your head." "You can't-and, anyhow, you daren't." Smack! It was a good swinging blow with the open hand across the cheek, and it left a vivid flush behind it on the somewhat sallow skin. "Oh, if you're going to fight I shall go away, and I shan't be friends with either of you." But as the two lads closed, the blue-eyed, golden-haired little beauty only shrank back a little nearer to the after-wheelhouse of the homeward bound P. and O. liner whose deck was the scene of this first act of the tragedy of three lives. A bright flush came into her cheeks, and a new light began to dance in her eyes as the first look of fright died out of them. The breath came and [Pg 2]went more quickly between the half-opened lips with a low sibilant sound. They were pretty, well-cut lips, the upper short and exquisitely curved, and the lower full with the promise of a sensuous maturity. She was only seven, but she was woman enough already to know that these two lads were fighting for her-for the favour of her smiles and the right to her kisses-and so she stayed. She had heard in India how the tigers fought for their mates, and, with the precocity of the Anglo-Indian child, she recognised now the likeness between tigers and men-and boys. She was being fought for. These two lads, albeit they had neither of them seen their eleventh birthday, were using all their strength against each other, hammering each other's faces with their fists, wrestling and writhing, now upstanding and now on the deck at her feet, were not unlike the tigers she had heard her father tell her mother about. She saw the hatred in their eyes, red and swollen by the impact of well-planted blows. She watched the gleam of their teeth between their cut and bleeding lips. They hated each other because they loved her-or, in their boyish way, most firmly believed they did. Their lips were cut and bleeding because she had kissed them. The fascination of the fight grew upon her. The hot young blood began to dance in her veins. She found herself encouraging now one and then the other-always the one who was getting the worst of it for the time being-and when at last the younger and slighter but more wiry and active of them, the one who had caught the other kissing her, took adroit advantage of a roll of the ship and pitched his antagonist backwards so heavily against the wheelhouse that he dropped half-[Pg 3]stunned to the deck, she looked proudly at the panting, bleeding victor, and gasped: "Oh, Vane, I'm so glad you've won. You haven't quite killed him, have you? I suppose the captain would hang you if you did. I'm so sorry it was all about me. I'll never let any one else but you kiss me again. Really I won't. You may kiss me now if you like. Take my handkerchief. Oh, I don't mind the cuts. You did it for me. There! It was brave of you, for he's bigger than you. Poor Reggie, let's help him up. I suppose you'll both have to go to the doctor."

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