Within the Tides HTML version
The Planter Of Malata
In the private editorial office of the principal newspaper in a great colonial city two men
were talking. They were both young. The stouter of the two, fair, and with more of an
urban look about him, was the editor and part-owner of the important newspaper.
The other's name was Renouard. That he was exercised in his mind about something was
evident on his fine bronzed face. He was a lean, lounging, active man. The journalist
continued the conversation.
"And so you were dining yesterday at old Dunster's."
He used the word old not in the endearing sense in which it is sometimes applied to
intimates, but as a matter of sober fact. The Dunster in question was old. He had been an
eminent colonial statesman, but had now retired from active politics after a tour in
Europe and a lengthy stay in England, during which he had had a very good press indeed.
The colony was proud of him.
"Yes. I dined there," said Renouard. "Young Dunster asked me just as I was going out of
his office. It seemed to be like a sudden thought. And yet I can't help suspecting some
purpose behind it. He was very pressing. He swore that his uncle would be very pleased
to see me. Said his uncle had mentioned lately that the granting to me of the Malata
concession was the last act of his official life."
"Very touching. The old boy sentimentalises over the past now and then."
"I really don't know why I accepted," continued the other. "Sentiment does not move me
very easily. Old Dunster was civil to me of course, but he did not even inquire how I was
getting on with my silk plants. Forgot there was such a thing probably. I must say there
were more people there than I expected to meet. Quite a big party."
"I was asked," remarked the newspaper man. "Only I couldn't go. But when did you
arrive from Malata?"
"I arrived yesterday at daylight. I am anchored out there in the bay--off Garden Point. I
was in Dunster's office before he had finished reading his letters. Have you ever seen
young Dunster reading his letters? I had a glimpse of him through the open door. He
holds the paper in both hands, hunches his shoulders up to his ugly ears, and brings his
long nose and his thick lips on to it like a sucking apparatus. A commercial monster."
"Here we don't consider him a monster," said the newspaper man looking at his visitor