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It's Too Soon! Part One.
It's Too Soon! Part One.
I entered the cool, dark interior of the Seaside Garden Club and made my way to the large table at the rear. Looking through the window, I saw my ship anchored out in the oil-smeared, dirty harbour. It was hot out there, and a pall of diesel exhaust hung in the still air.
I was feeling in a good mood... I had just returned from Penrhyn Island, after completing a contract for the New Zealand Government. I had been chartered to pump out the fuel-oil from a wrecked Korean long-liner before it leaked from her tanks and polluted the crystal, turquoise waters of the lagoon.
I sat down in my chair and looked around the bar as I listened to the conversation of my friends seated at the table. It was a ramshackled single-story clapboard and tin building on the waterfront of Pago Pago, that last saw a coat of paint many years before.
A new waitress approached the table and asked me for my order. She was tall, and slim for an islander, and was dressed in a T-shirts with Samoa printed over her left breast. She had on a pair of brown denim jeans, with a multi-coloured belt. Her dark eyes were large, and her lips were full. Her black glossy hair cascaded in wavy curls down to the arch of her back.
I never saw any of these things at the time, but was struck dumb... pole-axed... and felt like I'd been kicked in the groin. I had never in my wildest dreams even thought it was true... that such things happened... let alone would happen to me. I had fallen in love at first sight... I had met my mate at last. Here, before me, stood the woman I would worship for the rest of my life... my dream... the girl I would share my life with.
I sucked in my breath and stood, then took her hand and kissed it. "I want you," I replied to her enquiry about my drinks order.
It was her first day as a waitress at the bar, and she'd only turned eighteen the day before. She was very shy and spoke only a little English. The other waitresses were watching her, and had purposely put her on the papalagi table to tease her.
The yachties thought I was acting the fool... kidding her along by doing a Shakespearean sketch. They jived me and catcalled as I spoke with her.
"What's your name?" I asked, still holding on to her hand.
"Mariana." She looked down and giggled.
I kissed her hand again. "Thank you, Mariana. Could I have a large Vailima, please... and would you allow me to buy you a drink?"
"Thank you... I'll have a Coke." She left to collect my order, blushing shyly as she went.
I sat down to collect my wits, and try to work out what had just happened to me. I was a mess inside, and felt my heart pounding.
She gave me my drink, along with my change, then went to collect another order. I followed her with my eyes, and knew that somehow I had to have her. She smiled at me when she went across to the bar.
The other two waitresses started making fun of her. They had told her all about me... the crazy captain of the crazy ship anchored just outside the rear of the bar.
Over the next two days, I was very courteous to Mariana. I didn't make fun of her like I did with Upu and Sia. These two girls could see a change in me, and just knew that something was going on. They teased her unmercifully. The yachties gave me a good joshing, and I took it with my usual banter, but when they started on Mariana I saw red. I threatened to sink their yachts by gunfire if the teased her again.
She wouldn't go out on a date with me, but had agreed to come and look around my ship the following Sunday with some of her family. She told me she came from a small village in Western Samoa, on the south side of Upolu Island. She explained that she was staying with her married sister at Satala village, on the other side of the harbour near Star Kist Cannery.
She told me she would meet me at 10 o'clock on Sunday morning at a concrete outfall, that had steps they could use to board my launch. She had smiled her sweet smile and told me not to be late.
I was pushing thirty six, and it was a shock to my system having to court a shy teenager only half my age. I was on my best behaviour as Mariana introduced me to her sisters, Faaesea and Ina, and her aunties and cousins. I took them out to my ship and gave them a conducted tour around. Tea and cookies were served by Siggy... my black steward from Grenada... and all her family were fascinated by my pet bear.
Just before she boarded my launch for a trip around the harbour, she allowed me to take her in my arms and kiss her. I told her that I was in love with her, and wanted her for my girlfriend. She smiled and giggled at my woods... she wasn't used to papalagi sea captains making declarations of love to her.
I was a completely changed man. At 10 o'clock in the morning, I would go straight to the Seaside Garden Club to be with her. Whenever she could, she would come to my table and talk with me. I would go to the Post Office, then return straight to the bar to be near her again. I stopped using the Bamboo Room, and spent every hour I could in her company.
She worked from eight in the morning until ten at night, so there was no chance for me to date her during the week. By the time she'd finished her work for the day and caught her bus home, she was all in.
The other yachties could plainly see that I was besotted with this new girl, but kept their opinions to themselves. Another middle-aged white man throwing himself at a pretty native girl. 'There's no fool like an old fool,' they said amongst themselves.
The white women hated to see things like this happening. It unsettled them because the couldn't compete with these young native girls, and it made them feel insecure. There were always plenty of sharp tongues and vicious gossip about a white man who fell under the spell of an islander. And I had really fallen! I had gone in head over heels for Mariana.
For most of the following week, I was away with my ship on a salvage operation, to recover a stranded ferry on the reef in the Manu'a Islands. I was therefore in high spirits when I found Mariana waiting for me at the steps with only Faaesea as a token chaperon.
She asked me to fetch my photograph album, so her sister could look through it with Siggy, while she went with me to my cabin. She wasn't shy anymore... she had made up her mind... I was hers, and she was going to have me. Today, she was going to give me her body and claim me for her own.
I was at the steps at nine the next Sunday morning to collect Mariana, and took her straight to my cabin. She wore a light cotton dress to make it easier for me when I undressed her. I looked down at her lovely brown skin and at her smooth stomach as I enjoyed the warm moistness of her body. She was absolutely gorgeous... my own Polynesian princess.
She smiled up at me. "Am I nice for you?" she asked.
"You're so lovely. I love you very much."
"I love you, darling."
"Mariana, will you marry me! Will you become my wife?"
"You want to marry me, Dick?"
"I knew the day I first met you." I looked at her. "Will you?"
She blushed and clung to me. "Yes." Her breath was coming in pants at the pleasure she was feeling inside. "But I'll have to ask my mother's approval first."
I hugged her and stopped moving for a moment. "Thank you, sweetheart. When can you ask her?"
"Tonight. Our village only has one phone. It's a call-box, and when someone answers the phone, they can go and fetch her."
"Sounds a crazy way to know if you can marry me, but it will have to do, I suppose."
"I've already given you my own promise." She smiled at me and pulled me down on top of her to kiss her.
When I walked into the Seaside Garden Club, she put down her tray and rushed into my arms. "Yes! She said yes."
I picked her off the floor and spun her around.
She looked at me and smiled. "She told me I was a good girl, and could marry you whenever I liked."
With Mariana working every hour there was at the Seaside Garden Club, things began to get a little strained between us. I could only be alone with her during the weekend, and being with her in a crowded bar-room was no substitute for the privacy of my own cabin. In the end, I'd had enough and caused a scene over another girl in the bar. As a result of all the shouting and bad language used between us, Mariana got the sack.
After spending the night with me to make up, she went in town by herself to see her sister, while I stayed in the Seaside Garden Club drinking with my mates. I was in full voice with one of my stories about the sea and ships, when Mariana came back in the bar.
She kissed me and sat down. "I've got a new job," she announced to me.
I looked at her, surprized.
"I start Monday afternoon at two... its at The Sweet Shop with Ina. Now I can save up my own money for my wedding clothes, and still have lots of time to be with you. I only have to work eight hours a day, either in the morning till two, or in the afternoon till ten."
"All right, honey. If you really want a job until we marry, at least it's better than the bar. I can see you more often, and you won't have those drunken pigs pawing you at night."
She beamed at me. "I'll have a counter in front of me for protection!"
"I still wish you'd come and live with me on the ship... you don't need to work for the small wages they pay you. I can afford to keep you, you know."
"Just for a little while, darling." She smiled at me. "How much did you get for that last job you went on, when you salvaged the Manu'a ferry?"
"Seven and a half thousand," I told her.
"Dollars! For only two days work!" She was shocked.
"It should have been ten, but the bastards at the Harbour Office cheated me. It costs money to run a ship, you know, even while just sitting in the port. The trip before that I earned twenty nine thousand dollars, when I went to Penrhyn Island."
"It's a fortune, compared to the little I make!"
"I keep telling you, but you won't listen. You'd be more help to me, living with me on board Debut, than working at some lousy job. Let's get married tomorrow, and make it legal?"
"Tomorrow, but it's Sunday!"
"Monday, then. I want you for my wife, honey."
"It's too soon!" She shook her head. "All the family want to meet you, and my mother will want to make my dress... it's kind of special for her. Don't let's rush things, darling. You can have me whenever you want, from now on. Let all my family enjoy the day we marry."
"Okay." I looked at her. "When?"
"After Christmas... in January."
I looked at her. "You choose a day in January."
"On your birthday... the twentieth. You'll be thirty six, and I'll be eighteen... exactly half your age."
"Yes, that will be the day!" I beamed.
"But I still want to earn my own money to buy the material for my dress, and my other nice things."
To be continued. All the best, Cpt Dick Brooks.
Last edited by Cpt Dick Brooks; 12th October 2015 at 14:31.. Reason: spelling correction.
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