"Do you know there is not another white woman within a hundred-mile
radius ?" they asked; and the Maluka pointed out that it was not all
disadvantage for a woman to be alone in a world of men. "The men who form
her world are generally better and truer men, because the woman in their
midst is dependent on them alone, for companionship, and love, and
protecting care," he assured them.
"Men are selfish brutes," the opposition declared, rather irrelevantly,
looking pointedly at the Maluka.
He smiled with as much deference as he could command. "Also," he said, "a
woman alone in a world of men rarely complains of their selfishness"; and
I hastened to his assistance. "Particularly when those men are
chivalrous bushmen," I began, then hesitated, for, since reading the
telegrams, my ideas of bush chivalry needed readjustment.
"Particularly when those men are chivalrous bushmen," the Maluka agreed,
with the merry twinkle in his eyes; for he perfectly understood the cause
of the sudden breakdown. Then he added gravely: "For the average bushman
will face fire, and flood, hunger, and even death itself, to help the
frail or weak ones who come into his life; although he'll strive to the
utmost to keep the Unknown Woman out of his environments particularly
when those environments are a hundred miles from anywhere."
The opposition looked incredulous.