Nation c'est une jolie histoire de 2 personnages seuls sur une île du Pacifique. Mau, seul survivant de sa tribu après un raz de marée, et Ermintrude, seule survivante du naufrage de son navire sur cette île. Mais ce n'est pas du tout Paul et Virginie...
Ermintrude sat very still, firstly out of shock and then because she was remembering her father's advice. In one of his letters to her, he had said that when she joined him in Government House she would be his First Lady, and would be able to meet all kinds of people who might act in ways she found strange at first, and perhaps would even misunderstand. And so she would have to be gracious and make allowances.
Very well. This was about the time the boy would be here. What had she expected him to do when he got here? Even on a boat that isn't wrecked, it's hard to find a doorbell. Perhaps throwing a spear means: Look, I've thrown away my spear! I'm not armed! Yes, that sounds right. It's just like shaking hands, after all, to show you are not holding a sword. Well, I'm glad that's one little mystery solved, she thought.
For the first time since the spear had hissed across the cabin, she breathed out.
Outside, Mau was beginning to wonder if something had gone wrong when there were some wooden noises and the ghost girl's head appeared over the side of the big canoe.
"So kind of you to be punctual," she said, trying to smile, "and thank you very much for breaking the window, it was getting very stuffy in here!"
He didn't understand, but she was very nearly smiling and that was a good thing. She wanted him to come into the wreck, too. He did so, very cautiously. The Sweet Judy had keeled over a bit when the wave had dropped her at ground level, so everything sloped.
Inside was just a mess, made of many different messes all jumbled up. Everything stank of mud and stale water. But the girl led him into another space, which looked at least as though someone had tried to clean things up a bit, even if they had failed.
"I'm afraid the chairs all got smashed," said the girl, "but I'm sure you will find poor Captain Roberts's sea chest an adequate substitute."
Mau, who had never sat on anything but the ground or a hut floor when he ate, edged on to a wooden box.
"I thought it would be nice to get properly acquainted, since we haven't been introduced," said the ghost girl. "Obviously the fact that we cannot understand one another will be something of a drawback . . ."
While this gibberish was going on, Mau stared at the fire in its little cave. Steam was coming out of a round black pipe. Next to it was a flat round thing. Pale things on it looked like some kind of bread. This is a Woman's Place, he thought, and I don't know the rules . . . I must be careful. She might do anything to me.
"...and the butter had gone runny, but I threw away the flour that had gone really green. Would you like some tea? I expect you don't take milk?"
He watched as a brown liquid was poured into a blue and white bowl. Mau watched it carefully, while the girl went on talking, faster and faster. How do you know what's right and wrong? he wondered. What are the rules when you are all alone with a ghost girl?
He'd not been alone on the Boys' Island. Oh, there hadn't been anyone else there, but he'd felt the Nation around him. He was doing the right thing. But now? What were the right things? The Grandfathers bellowed and complained and ordered him about and didn't listen.
He couldn't find the silver thread either, or the picture of the future. There was no picture now. There was just him and this girl, and no rules to fight the darkness ahead.
Now she had taken the bready things off the fire, and put them on another of the round metal things which he tried to balance on his knees.
"Most of the crockery got smashed in the wreck," said the girl sadly. "It's a miracle I could find two cups. Will you have a scone?" She pointed at the bready things.
Mau took one. It was hot, which was good, but on the other hand it tasted like a piece of slightly rotten wood.
She was watching anxiously as he moved the mouthful around in his mouth, looking for something to do with it.
"I've done it wrong, haven't I?" she said. "I thought the flour was too damp. Poor Captain Roberts used to keep a lobster in the flour barrel to eat the weevils, and I'm sure that can't be right. I'm sorry, I won't mind if you spit it out."
And she started to cry.
Mau hadn't understood a word, but some things don't need language. She weeps because the bread is awful. She should not cry. He swallowed, and took another bite. She started, and sniffed, not certain if it was too early to stop crying.
"Very nice food," said Mau. He swallowed the thing with a fight and was sure he felt it hit the bottom of his stomach. And then he ate the other one.
The girl dabbed at her eyes with a cloth.
"Very good," Mau insisted, trying not to taste rotted lobster.
"I'm sorry, I can't understand you," she said. "Oh, dear, and I completely forgot to lay out the napkin rings. What must you think of me..."
"I don't know the words you say," said Mau.
There was a long helpless pause, and Mau felt the two lumps of bad, dreadful bread sitting in his stomach planning their escape.