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The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii

THE HOUSE OF PRIDE AND OTHER TALES
OF HAWAII
JACK LONDON
THE HOUSE OF PRIDE
Percival Ford wondered why he had come. He did not dance. He did
not care muc h for army people. Yet he knew them all–gliding and
revolving there on the broad lanai of the Se aside, the ocers in
their fresh-starched uniforms of white, the civilians in white and
black, and the women bare of shoulders and arms. After two years in
Honolulu the Twentieth was departing to its new station in Alaska,
and Percival Ford, as one of the big men of the Islands, could not
help knowing the ocers and their women.
But between knowing and liking was a vast gulf. The army women
frightened him just a little. They were in ways quite dierent
from the women he liked best–the elderly women, the spinsters and
the bespectacled maidens, and the very serious women of all ages
whom he met on church and library and kindergarten committees, who
came meekly to him for contributions and advice. He ruled those
women by virtue of his superior mentality, his great wealt h, and the
high place he occupied in the commercial baronage of Hawaii. And he
was not afraid of them in the least. Sex, with them, was not
obtrusive. Yes, that was it. There was in them somet hing else, or
more, than the assertive grossness of life. He was fastidious; he
acknowledged that to himself; and these army women, with their bare
shoulders and naked arms, their straight-looking eyes, their
vitality and challenging femaleness, jarred upon his sensibilities.
Nor did he get on better wit h the army men, who took life lightly,
drinking and smoking and swearing their way through life and
asserting the essential grossness of flesh no less shamelessly than
their women. He was always uncomfortable in the company of the army
men. They seemed uncomfort able, too. And he felt, always, that
they were laughing at him up their sleeves, or pitying him, or
tolerating him. Then, too, they seemed, by mere contiguity, to
emphasize a lack in him, to call attention to that in them whic h he
did not possess and which he thanked God he did not possess. Faugh!
They were like their women!
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In fact, Percival Ford was no more a woman’s man than he was a man’s
man. A glance at him told the reason. He had a good constitution,
never was on intimate terms with sickness, nor even mild disorders;
but he lacked vitality. His was a negative organism. No blood with
a ferment in it could have nouris hed and shaped that long and narrow
face, those thin lips, lean cheeks, and the small, sharp ey es. The
thatch of hair, dust-coloured, straight and sparse, advertised the
niggard soil, as did the nose, thin, delicately mo delled, and just
hinting the suggestion of a beak. His meagre blood had denied him
much of life, and permitted him to be an extremist in one thing
only, which thing was righteousness. Over right conduct he pondered
and agonized, and that he should do right was as necessary to his
nature as loving and being loved were necessary to commoner clay.
He was sitting under the algaroba trees between the lanai and the
beach. His eyes wandered over the dancers and he turned his head
away and gazed seaward ac ross the mellow-sounding surf to the
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