With a lean brown hand limp as a rag, Drenton Denn helped himself to
quinine enough to blow the roof off the head of an ordinary man.
"A blight upon the man who lured me to Madagascar!" he said, with
his teeth clenched "You get me here as a war correspondent when there
is no war to speak of and no facilities for getting my 'copy' away in
any case. And how that I am down with the fever you calmly tell me
that you have orders to send me back to the seaboard!"
Captain Le Boeuf quivered uneasily. He it was who had lured Drenton
Denn from Paris with specious promises of what might happen in the
way of graphic things to describe at Tamatave.
"It is only a hundred miles," Le Boeuf said, tentatively.
"But what a hundred miles!" Drenton groaned, "Even if I get over
this fever I shall be good for nothing for days to come. It is
impossible for me to return the way we came. And how a handful of
Kanaka boys are going to get me down to Tara I can't understand!"
"But, my dear Denn, you can't stay here."
"Of course I can't. I must do my best to get back to the coast,
and that right through an unfriendly tribe. Is there any truth in
the rumour that the Hamas are led by a woman who wears Paris gowns
and imports her own champagne?"
Le Boeuf showed his teeth in a dazzling smile.
"There is something in it," he said. "Do you remember that
magnificent Hama girl--Sabina, they called her--who performed those
marvellous snake and bird tricks at the Moulin Rouge two years ago?"
Denn nodded. He recollected the girl perfectly well and the
sensation she had created at the him. The handsome chieftainess had
taken to Denn somewhat, and quite a Platonic friendship had sprung up
between them. Denn flushed slightly as he called this to his mind. He
had touched the heart of the dusky Hama, and he had deemed it best to
retire gracefully from Paris before anything foolish transpired.