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Title: White Shadows in the South Seas

Author: Frederick O'Brien

Release date: December 20, 2004 [eBook #14384]
Most recently updated: December 18, 2020

Language: English



E-text prepared by Brendan Lane, Robert Prince,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team



Village of Atuona, showing peak of Temetiu
The author's house is the small white speck in the center







T. Werner Laurie, Ltd.






There is in the nature of every man, I firmly believe, a longing to see and know the strange places of the world. Life imprisons us all in its coil of circumstance, and the dreams of romance that color boyhood are forgotten, but they do not die. They stir at the sight of a white-sailed ship beating out to the wide sea; the smell of tarred rope on a blackened wharf, or the touch of the cool little breeze that rises when the stars come out will waken them again. Somewhere over the rim of the world lies romance, and every heart yearns to go and find it.

It is not given to every man to start on the quest of the rainbow's end. Such fantastic pursuit is not for him who is bound by ties of home and duty and fortune-to-make. He has other adventure at his own door, sterner fights to wage, and, perhaps, higher rewards to gain. Still, the ledgers close sometimes on a sigh, and by the cosiest fireside one will see in the coals pictures that have nothing to do with wedding rings or balances at the bank.

It is for those who stay at home yet dream of foreign places that I have written this book, a record of one happy year spent among the simple, friendly cannibals of Atuona valley, on the island of Hiva-oa in the Marquesas. In its pages there is little of profound research, nothing, I fear, to startle the anthropologist or to revise encyclopedias; such expectation was far from my thoughts when I sailed from Papeite on the Morning Star. I went to see what I should see, and to learn whatever should be taught me by the days as they came. What I saw and what I learned the reader will see and learn, and no more.

Days, like people, give more when they are approached in not too stern a spirit. So I traveled lightly, without the heavy baggage of the ponderous-minded scholar, and the reader who embarks with me on the “long cruise” need bring with him only an open mind and a love for the strange and picturesque. He will come back, I hope, as I did, with some glimpses into the primitive customs of the long-forgotten ancestors of the white race, a deeper wonder at the mysteries of the world, and a memory of sun-steeped days on white beaches, of palms and orchids and the childlike savage peoples who live in the bread-fruit groves of “Bloody Hiva-oa.”

The author desires to express here his thanks to Rose Wilder Lane, to whose editorial assistance the publication of this book is very largely due.



Farewell to Papeite beach; at sea in the Morning Star; Darwin's theory of the continent that sank beneath the waters of the South Seas


The trade-room of the Morning Star; Lying Bill Pincher; M. L'Hermier des Plantes, future governor of the Marquesas; story of McHenry and the little native boy, His Dog


Thirty-seven days at sea; life of the sea-birds; strange phosphorescence; first sight of Fatu-hiva; history of the islands; chant of the Raiateans


Anchorage of Taha-Uka; Exploding Eggs, and his engagement as valet; inauguration of the new governor; dance on the palace lawn


First night in Atuona valley; sensational arrival of the Golden Bed; Titihuti's tattooed legs


Visit of Chief Seventh Man Who is So Angry He Wallows in the Mire; journey to Vait-hua on Tahuata island; fight with the devil-fish; story of a cannibal feast and the two who escaped


Idyllic valley of Vait-hua; the beauty of Vanquished Often; bathing on the beach; an unexpected proposal of marriage


Communal life; sport in the waves; fight of the sharks and the mother whale; a day in the mountains; death of Le Capitaine Halley; return to Atuona


The Marquesans at ten o'clock mass; a remarkable conversation about religions and Joan of Arc in which Great Fern gives his idea of the devil


The marriage of Malicious Gossip; matrimonial customs of the simple natives; the domestic difficulties of Haabuani


Filling the popoi pits in the season of the breadfruit; legend of the mei; the secret festival in a hidden valley


A walk in the jungle; the old woman in the breadfruit tree; a night in a native hut on the mountain


The household of Lam Kai Oo; copra making; marvels of the cocoanut-groves; the sagacity of pigs; and a crab that knows the laws of gravitation


Visit of Le Moine; the story of Paul Gauguin; his house, and a search for his grave beneath the white cross of Calvary


Death of Aumia; funeral chant and burial customs; causes for the death of a race


A savage dance, a drama of the sea, of danger and feasting; the rape of the lettuce


A walk to the Forbidden Place; Hot Tears, the hunchback; the story of Behold the Servant of the Priest, told by Malicious Gossip in the cave of Enamoa


A search for rubber-trees on the plateau of Ahoa; a fight with the wild white dogs; story of an ancient migration, told by the wild cattle hunters in the Cave of the Spine of the Chinaman


A feast to the men of Motopu; the making of kava, and its drinking; the story of the Girl Who Lost Her Strength


A journey to Taaoa; Kahuiti, the cannibal chief, and his story of an old war caused by an unfaithful woman


The crime of Huahine for love of Weaver of Mats; story of Tahia's white man who was eaten; the disaster that befell Honi, the white man who used his harpoon against his friends


The memorable game for the matches in the cocoanut-grove of Lam Kai Oo


Mademoiselle N——


A journey to Nuka-hiva; story of the celebration of the fête of Joan of Arc, and the miracles of the white horse and the girl


America's claim to the Marquesas; adventures of Captain Porter in 1812; war between Haapa and Tai-o-hae, and the conquest of Typee valley


A visit to Typee; story of the old man who returned too late


Journey on the Roberta; the winged cockroaches; arrival at a Swiss paradise in the valley of Oomoa


Labor in the South Seas; some random thoughts on the “survival of the fittest”


The white man who danced in Oomoa valley; a wild-boar hunt in the hills; the feast of the triumphant hunters and a dance in honor of Grelet


A visit to Hanavave; Père Olivier at home; the story of the last battle between Hanahouua and Oi, told by the sole survivor; the making of tapa cloth, and the ancient garments of the Marquesans


Fishing in Hanavave; a deep-sea battle with a shark; Red Chicken shows how to tie ropes to sharks' tails; night-fishing for dolphins, and the monster sword-fish that overturned the canoe; the native doctor dresses Red Chicken's wounds and discourses on medicine


A journey over the roof of the world to Oomoa; an encounter with a wild woman of the hills


Return in a canoe to Atuona; Tetuahunahuna relates the story of the girl who rode the white horse in the celebration of the fête of Joan of Arc in Tai-o-hae; Proof that sharks hate women; steering by the stars to Atuona beach


Sea sports; curious sea-foods found at low tide; the peculiarities of sea-centipedes and how to cook and eat them


Court day in Atuona; the case of Daughter of the Pigeon and the sewing-machine; the story of the perfidy of Drink of Beer and the death of Earth Worm who tried to kill the governor


The madman Great Moth of the Night; story of the famine and the one family that ate pig


A visit to the hermit of Taha-Uka valley; the vengeance that made the Scallamera lepers; and the hatred of Mohuto


Last days in Atuona; My Darling Hope's letter from her son


The chants of departure; night falls on the Land of the War Fleet


Village of Atuona, showing peak of Temetiu

Beach at Viataphiha-Tahiti

Where the belles of Tahiti lived in the shade to whiten their complexions

Lieutenant L'Hermier des Plantes, Governor of the Marquesas Islands

Entrance to a Marquesan Bay

The ironbound coast of the Marquesas

A road in Nuka-Hiva

Harbor of Tai-o-hae

Schooner Fetia Taiao in the Bay of Traitors

André Bauda, Commissaire

The public dance in the garden

Antoinette, a Marquesan dancing girl

Marquesans in Sunday clothes

Vai Etienne

The pool by the Queen's house

Idling away the sunny hours

Nothing to do but rest all day

Catholic Church at Atuona

A native spearing fish from a rock

A volunteer cocoanut grove, with trees of all ages

Climbing for cocoanuts

Splitting cocoanut husks in copra making process

Cutting the meat from cocoanuts to make copra

A Marquesan home on a paepae

Isle of Barking Dogs

The haka, the Marquesan national dance

Hot Tears with Vai Etienne

The old cannibal of Taipi Valley

Enacting a human sacrifice of the Marquesans

Interior of Island of Fatu-hiva, where the author walked over the mountains

The plateau of Ahoa

Kivi, the kava drinker with the hetairae of the valley

A pool in the jungle

The Pekia, or Place of Sacrifice, at Atuona

Marquesan cannibals, wearing dress of human hair

Tepu, a Marquesan girl of the hills, and her sister

A tattooed Marquesan with carved canoe paddle

A chieftess in tapa garments with tapa parasol

Launching the whale-boat

Père Simeon Delmas' church at Tai-o-hae

Gathering the feis in the mountains

Near the Mission at Hanavave

Starting from Hanavave for Oomoa

Feis, or mountain bananas

Where river and bay meet at Oomoa, Island of Fatu-hiva

Sacred banyan tree at Oomoa

Elephantiasis of the legs

Removing the pig cooked in the umu, or native oven

The Koina Kai, or feast in Oomoa

Beach at Oomoa

Putting the canoe in the water

Pascual, the giant Paumotan pilot and his friends

A pearl diver's sweetheart

Spearing fish in Marquesas Islands

Pearl shell divers at work

Catholic Church at Hanavave

A canoe in the surf at Oomoa

The gates of the Valley of Hanavave

A fisherman's house of bamboo and cocoanut leaves

Double canoes

Harbor sports

Tahaiupehe, Daughter of the Pigeon, of Taaoa

Nataro Puelleray and wife

Author's Note. Foreign words in a book are like rocks in a path. There are two ways of meeting the difficulty; the reader may leap over them, or use them as stepping stones. I have written this book so that they may easily be leaped over by the hasty, but he will lose much enjoyment by doing so; I would urge him to pronounce them as he goes. Marquesan words have a flavor all their own; much of the simple poetry of the islands is in them. The rules for pronouncing them are simple; consonants have the sounds usual in English, vowels have the Latin value, that is, a is ah, e is ay, i is ee, o is oh, and u is oo. Every letter is pronounced, and there are no accents. The Marquesans had no written language, and their spoken tongue was reproduced as simply as possible by the missionaries.





Farewell to Papeite beach; at sea in the Morning Star; Darwin's theory of the continent that sank beneath the waters of the South Seas.

By the white coral wall of Papeite beach the schooner Fetia Taiao (Morning Star) lay ready to put to sea. Beneath the skyward-sweeping green heights of Tahiti the narrow shore was a mass of colored gowns, dark faces, slender waving arms. All Papeite, flower-crowned and weeping, was gathered beside the blue lagoon.

Lamentation and wailing followed the brown sailors as they came over the side and slowly began to cast the moorings that held the Morning Star. Few are the ships that sail many seasons among the Dangerous Islands. They lay their bones on rock or reef or sink in the deep, and the lovers, sons and husbands of the women who weep on the beach return no more to the huts in the cocoanut groves. So, at each sailing on the “long course” the anguish is keen.

Ia ora na i te Atua! Farewell and God keep you!” the women cried as they stood beside the half-buried cannon that serve to make fast the ships by the coral bank. From the deck of the nearby Hinano came the music of an accordeon and a chorus of familiar words:

I teie nie mahana Ne tere no oe e Hati Na te Moana!

“Let us sing and make merry, For we journey over the sea!”

It was the Himene Tatou Arearea. Kelly, the wandering I.W.W., self-acclaimed delegate of the mythical Union of Beach-combers and Stowaways, was at the valves of the accordeon, and about him squatted a ring of joyous natives. “Wela ka hao! Hot stuff!” they shouted.

Suddenly Caroline of the Marquesas and Mamoe of Moorea, most beautiful dancers of the quays, flung themselves into the upaupahura, the singing dance of love. Kelly began “Tome! Tome!” a Hawaiian hula. Men unloading cargo on the many schooners dropped their burdens and began to dance. Rude squareheads of the fo'c'sles beat time with pannikins. Clerks in the traders' stores and even Marechel, the barber, were swept from counters and chairs by the sensuous melody, and bareheaded in the white sun they danced beneath the crowded balconies of the Cercle Bougainville, the club by the lagoon. The harbor of Papeite knew ten minutes of unrestrained merriment, tears forgotten, while from the warehouse of the navy to the Poodle Stew café the hula reigned.

Beach at Viataphiha-Tahiti

Where the belles of Tahiti lived in the shade to whiten their complexions.

Under the gorgeous flamboyant trees that paved their shade with red-gold blossoms a group of white men sang:

“Well, ah fare you well, we can stay no more with you, my love, Down, set down your liquor and the girl from off your knee, For the wind has come to say ‘You must take me while you may, If you'd go to Mother Carey!’ (Walk her down to Mother Carey!) Oh, we're bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!”

The anchor was up, the lines let go, and suddenly from the sea came a wind with rain.

The girls from the Cocoanut House, a flutter of brilliant scarlet and pink gowns, fled for shelter, tossing blossoms of the sweet tiati Tahiti toward their sailor lovers as they ran. Marao, the haughty queen, drove rapidly away in her old chaise, the Princess Boots leaning out to wave a slender hand. Prince Hinoi, the fat spendthrift who might have been a king, leaned from the balcony of the club, glass in hand, and shouted, “Aroha i te revaraa!” across the deserted beach.

So we left Papeite, the gay Tahitian capital, while a slashing downpour drowned the gay flamboyant blossoms, our masts and rigging creaking in the gale, and sea breaking white on the coral reef.

Like the weeping women, who doubtless had already dried their tears, the sky began to smile before we reached the treacherous pass in the outer reef. Beyond Moto Utu, the tiny islet in the harbor that had been harem and fort in kingly days, we saw the surf foaming on the coral, and soon were through the narrow channel.

We had lifted no canvas in the lagoon, using only our engine to escape the coral traps. Past the ever-present danger, with the wind now half a gale and the rain falling again in sheets—the intermittent deluge of the season—the Morning Star, under reefed foresail, mainsail and staysail, pointed her delicate nose toward the Dangerous Islands and hit hard the open sea.

She rode the endlessly-tossing waves like a sea-gull, carrying her head with a care-free air and dipping to the waves in jaunty fashion. Her lines were very fine, tapering and beautiful, even to the eye of a land-lubber.

A hundred and six feet from stem to stern, twenty-three feet of beam and ten feet of depth, she was loaded to water's edge with cargo for the islands to which we were bound. Lumber lay in the narrow lanes between cabin-house and rails; even the lifeboats were piled with cargo. Those who reckon dangers do not laugh much in these seas. There was barely room to move about on the deck of the Morning Star; merely a few steps were possible abaft the wheel amid the play of main-sheet boom and traveler. Here, while my three fellow-passengers went below, I stood gazing at the rain-whipped illimitable waters ahead.

Where is the boy who has not dreamed of the cannibal isles, those strange, fantastic places over the rim of the world, where naked brown men move like shadows through unimagined jungles, and horrid feasts are celebrated to the “boom, boom, boom!” of the twelve-foot drums?

Years bring knowledge, paid for with the dreams of youth. The wide, vague world becomes familiar, becomes even common-place. London, Paris, Venice, many-colored Cairo, the desecrated crypts of the pyramids, the crumbling villages of Palestine, no longer glimmer before me in the iridescent glamor of fancy, for I have seen them. But something of the boyish thrill that filled me when I pored over the pages of Melville long ago returned while I stood on the deck of the Morning Star, plunging through the surging Pacific in the driving tropic rain.

Many leagues before us lay Les Isles Dangereux, the Low Archipelago, first stopping-point on our journey to the far cannibal islands yet another thousand miles away across the empty seas. Before we saw the green banners of Tahiti's cocoanut palms again we would travel not only forward over leagues of tossing water but backward across centuries of time. For in those islands isolated from the world for eons there remains a living fragment of the childhood of our Caucasian race.

Darwin's theory is that these islands are the tops of a submerged continent, or land bridge, which stretches its crippled body along the floor of the Pacific for thousands of leagues. A lost land, whose epic awaits the singer; a mystery perhaps forever to be unsolved. There are great monuments, graven objects, hieroglyphics, customs and languages, island peoples with suggestive legends—all, perhaps, remnants of a migration from Asia or Africa a hundred thousand years ago.

Over this land bridge, mayhap, ventured the Caucasian people, the dominant blood in Polynesia to-day, and when the continent fell from the sight of sun and stars save in those spots now the mountainous islands like Tahiti and the Marquesas, the survivors were isolated for untold centuries.

Here in these islands the brothers of our long-forgotten ancestors have lived and bred since the Stone Age, cut off from the main stream of mankind's development. Here they have kept the childhood customs of our white race, savage and wild, amid their primitive and savage life. Here, three centuries ago, they were discovered by the peoples of the great world, and, rudely encountering a civilization they did not build, they are dying here. With their passing vanishes the last living link with our own pre-historic past. And I was to see it, before it disappears forever.




The trade-room of the Morning Star; Lying Bill Pincher; M. L'Hermier des Plantes, future governor of the Marquesas; story of McHenry and the little native boy, His Dog.

“Come 'ave a drink!” Captain Pincher called from the cabin, and leaving the spray-swept deck where the rain drummed on the canvas awning I went down the four steps into the narrow cabin-house.

The cabin, about twenty feet long, had a tiny semi-private room for Captain Pincher, and four berths ranged about a table. Here, grouped around a demijohn of rum, I found Captain Pincher with my three fellow-passengers; McHenry and Gedge, the traders, and M. L'Hermier des Plantes, a young officer of the French colonial army, bound to the Marquesas to be their governor.

The captain was telling the story of the wreck in which he had lost his former ship. He had tied up to a reef for a game of cards with a like-minded skipper, who berthed beside him. The wind changed while they slept. Captain Pincher awoke to find his schooner breaking her backs on the coral rocks.

“Oo can say wot the blooming wind will do?” he said, thumping the table with his glass. “There was Willy's schooner tied up next to me, and 'e got a slant and slid away, while my boat busts 'er sides open on the reef, The 'ole blooming atoll was 'eaped with the blooming cargo. Willy 'ad luck; I 'ad 'ell. It's all an 'azard.”

He had not found his aitches since he left Liverpool, thirty years earlier, nor dropped his silly expletives. A gray-haired, red-faced, laughing man, stockily built, mild mannered, he proved, as the afternoon wore on, to be a man from whom Münchausen might have gained a story or two.

“They call me Lying Bill,” he said to me. “You can't believe wot I say.”

“He's straight as a mango tree, Bill Pincher is,” McHenry asserted loudly. “He's a terrible liar about stories, but he's the best seaman that comes to T'yti, and square as a biscuit tin. You know how, when that schooner was stole that he was mate on, and the rotten thief run away with her and a woman, Bill he went after 'em, and brought the schooner back from Chile. Bill, he's whatever he says he is, all right—but he can sail a schooner, buy copra and shell cheap, sell goods to the bloody natives, and bring back the money to the owners. That's what I call an honest man.”

Lying Bill received these hearty words with something less than his usual good-humor. There was no friendliness in his eye as he looked at McHenry, whose empty glass remained empty until he himself refilled it. Bullet-headed, beady-eyed, a chunk of rank flesh shaped by a hundred sordid adventures, McHenry clutched at equality with these men, and it eluded him. Lying Bill, making no reply to his enthusiastic commendation, retired to his bunk with a paper-covered novel, and to cover the rebuff McHenry turned to talk of trade with Gedge, who spoke little.

The traderoom of the Morning Star, opening from the cabin, was to me the door to romance. When I was a boy there was more flavor in traderooms than in war. To have seen one would have been as a glimpse of the Holy Grail to a sworn knight. Those traderooms of my youthful imagination smelt of rum and gun-powder, and beside them were racks of rifles to repel the dusky figures coming over the bulwarks.

The traderoom of the Morning Star was odorous, too. It had no window, and when one opened the door all was obscure at first, while smells of rank Tahiti tobacco, cheap cotton prints, a broken bottle of perfume and scented soaps struggled for supremacy. Gradually the eye discovered shelves and bins and goods heaped from floor to ceiling; pins and anchors, harpoons and pens, crackers and jewelry, cloth, shoes, medicine and tomahawks, socks and writing paper.

Trade business, McHenry's monologue explained, is not what it was. When these petty merchants dared not trust themselves ashore their guns guarded against too eager customers. But now almost every inhabited island has its little store, and the trader has to pursue his buyers, who die so fast that he must move from island to island in search of population.

“Booze is boss,” said McHenry. “I have two thousand pounds in bank in Australia, all made by selling liquor to the natives. It's against French law to sell or trade or give 'em a drop, but we all do it. If you don't have it, you can't get cargo. In the diving season it's the only damn thing that'll pass. The divers'll dig up from five to fifteen dollars a bottle for it, depending on the French being on the job or not. Ain't that so, Gedge?”

C'est vrai,” Gedge assented. He spoke in French, ostensibly for the benefit of M. L'Hermier des Plantes. That young governor of the Marquesas was not given to saying much, his chief interest in life appearing to be an ample black whisker, to which he devoted incessant tender care. After a few words of broken English he had turned a negligent attention to the pages of a Marquesan dictionary, in preparation for his future labors among the natives. Gedge, however, continued to talk in the language of courts.

It was obvious that McHenry's twenty-five years in French possessions had not taught him the white man's language. He demanded brusquely, “What are you oui-oui-ing for?” and occasionally interjected a few words of bastard French in an attempt to be jovial. To this Gedge paid little attention.

Gedge was chief of the commercial part of the expedition, and his manner proclaimed it. Thin-lipped, cunning-eyed, but strong and self-reliant, he was absorbed in the chances of trade. He had been twenty years in the Marquesas islands. A shrewd man among kanakas, unscrupulous by his own account, he had prospered. Now, after selling his business, he was paying a last visit to his long-time home to settle accounts.

“'Is old woman is a barefoot girl among the cannibals,” Lying Bill said to me later. “'E 'as given a 'ole army of ostriches to fortune, 'e 'as.”

One of Captain Pincher's own sons was assistant to the engineer, Ducat, and helped in the cargo work. The lad lived forward with the crew, so that we saw nothing of him socially, and his father never spoke to him save to give an order or a reprimand. Native mothers mourn often the lack of fatherly affection in their white mates. Illegitimate children are held cheap by the whites.

Lieutenant L'Hermier des Plantes, Governor of the Marquesas Islands

Entrance to a Marquesan bay

For two days at sea after leaving Papeite we did not see the sun. This was the rainy and hot season, a time of calms and hurricanes, of sudden squalls and maddening quietudes, when all signs fail and the sailor must stand by for the whims of the wind if he would save himself and his ship. For hours we raced along at seven or eight knots, with a strong breeze on the quarter and the seas ruffling about our prow. For still longer hours we pushed through a windless calm by motor power. Showers fell incessantly.

We lived in pajamas, barefooted, unshaven and unwashed. Fresh water was limited, as it would be impossible to replenish our casks for many weeks. McHenry said it was not difficult to accustom one's self to lack of water, both externally and internally.

There was a demijohn of strong Tahitian rum always on tap in the cabin. Here we sat to eat and remained to drink and read and smoke. There was Bordeaux wine at luncheon and dinner, Martinique and Tahitian rum and absinthe between meals. The ship's bell was struck by the steersman every half hour, and McHenry made it the knell of an ounce.

Captain Pincher took a jorum every hour or two and retired to his berth and novels, leaving the navigation of the Morning Star to the under-officers. Ducat, the third officer, a Breton, joined us at meals. He was a decent, clever fellow in his late twenties, ambitious and clear-headed, but youthfully impressed by McHenry's self-proclaimed wickedness.

One night after dinner he and McHenry were bantering each other after a few drinks of rum. McHenry said, “Say, how's your kanaka woman?”

Ducat's fingers tightened on his glass. Then, speaking English and very precisely, he asked, “Do you mean my wife?”

“I mean your old woman. What's this wife business?”

“She is my wife, and we have two children.”

McHenry grinned. “I know all that. Didn't I know her before you? She was mine first.”

Ducat got up. We all got up. The air became tense, and in the silence there seemed no motion of ship or wave. I said to myself, “This is murder.”

Ducat, very pale, an inscrutable look on his face, his black eyes narrowed, said quietly, “Monsieur, do you mean that?”

“Why, sure I do? Why shouldn't I mean it? It's true.”

None of us moved, but it was as if each of us stepped back, leaving the two men facing each other. In this circle no one would interfere. It was not our affair. Our detachment isolated the two—McHenry quite drunk, in full command of his senses but with no controlling intelligence; Ducat not at all drunk, studying the situation, considering in his rage and humiliation what would best revenge him on this man.

Ducat spoke, “McHenry, come out of this cabin with me.”

“What for?”

“Come with me.”

“Oh, all right, all right,” McHenry said.

We stepped back as they passed us. They went up the steps to the deck. Ducat paused at the break of the poop and stood there, speaking to McHenry. We could not hear his words. The schooner tossed idly, a faint creaking of the rigging came down to us in the cabin. The same question was in every eye. Then Ducat turned on his heel, and McHenry was left alone.

Our question was destined to remain unanswered. Whatever Ducat had said, it was something that hushed McHenry forever. He never mentioned the subject again, nor did any of us. But McHenry's attitude had subtly changed. Ducat's words had destroyed that last secret refuge of the soul in which every man keeps the vestiges of self-justification and self-respect.

McHenry sought me out that night while I sat on the cabin-house gazing at the great stars of the Southern Cross, and began to talk.

“Now take me,” he said, “I'm not so bad. I'm as good as most people. As a matter of fact, I ain't done anything more in my life than anybody'd've done, if they had the chance. Look at me—I had a singlet an' a pair of dungarees when I landed on the beach in T'yti, an' look at me now! I ain't done so bad!”

He must have felt the unconvincing ring of his tone, lacking the full and complacent self-assurance usual to it, for as if groping for something to make good the lack he sought backward through his memories and unfolded bit by bit the tale of his experiences. Scotch born of drunken parents, he had been reared in the slums of American cities and the forecastles of American ships. A waif, newsboy, loafer, gang-fighter and water-front pirate, he had come into the South Seas twenty-five years earlier, shanghaied when drunk in San Francisco. He looked back proudly on a quarter of a century of trading, thieving, selling contraband rum and opium, pearl-buying and gambling.

But this pride on which he had so long depended failed him now. Successful fights that he had waged, profitable crimes committed, grew pale upon his tongue. Listening in the darkness while the engine drove us through a black sea and the canvas awning flapped overhead, I felt the baffled groping behind his words.

“So I don't take nothing from no man!” he boasted, and fell into uneasy silence. “The folks in these islands know me, all right!” he asserted, and again was dumb.

“Now there was a kid, a little Penryn boy,” he said suddenly. “When I was a trader on Penryn he was there, and he used to come around my store. That kid liked me. Why, that kid, he was crazy about me! It's a fact, he was crazy about me, that kid was.”

His voice was fumbling back toward its old assurance, but there was wonder in it, as though he was incredulous of this foothold he had stumbled upon. He repeated, “That kid was crazy about me!

“He used to hang around, and help me with the canned goods, and he'd go fishing with me, and shooting. He was a regular—what do you call 'em? These dogs that go after things for you? He'd go under the water and bring in the big fish for me. And he liked to do it. You never saw anything like the way that kid was.

“I used to let him come into the store and hang around, you know. Not that I cared anything for the kid myself; I ain't that kind. But I'd just give him some tinned biscuits now and then, the way you'd do. He didn't have no father or mother. His father had been eaten by a shark, and his mother was dead. The kid didn't have any name because his mother had died so young he hadn't got any name, and his father hadn't called him anything but boy. He give himself a name to me, and that was ‘Your Dog.’

“He called himself my dog, you see. But his name for it was Your Dog, and that was because he fetched and carried for me, like as if he was one. He was that kind of kid. Not that I paid much attention to him.

“You know there's a leper settlement on Penryn, off across the lagoon. I ain't afraid of leprosy y'understand, because I've dealt with 'em for years, ate with 'em an' slept with 'em, an' all that, like everybody down here. But all the same I don't want to have 'em right around me all the time. So one day the doctor come to look over the natives, and he come an' told me the little kid, My Dog, was a leper.

“Now I wasn't attached to the kid. I ain't attached to nobody. I ain't that kind of a man. But the kid was sort of used to me, and I was used to havin' him around. He used to come in through the window. He'd just come in, nights, and sit there an' never say a word. When I was goin' to bed he'd say, ‘McHenry, Your Dog is goin' now, but can't Your Dog sleep here?’ Well, I used to let him sleep on the floor, no harm in that. But if he was a leper he'd got to go to the settlement, so I told him so.

“He made such a fuss, cryin' around—By God, I had to boot him out of the place. I said: ‘Get out. I don't want you snivelin' around me.’ So he went.

“It's a rotten, God-forsaken place, I guess. I don't know. The government takes care of 'em. It ain't my affair. I guess for a leper colony it ain't so bad.

“Anyway, I was goin' to sell out an' leave Penryn. The diving season was over. One night I had the door locked an' was goin' over my accounts to see if I couldn't collect some more dough from the natives. I heard a noise, and By God! there comin' through the window was My Dog. He come up to me, and I said: ‘Stand away, there!’ I ain't afraid of leprosy, but there's no use takin' chances. You never know.

“Well sir, that kid threw himself down on the floor, and he said, ‘McHenry, I knowed you was goin' away and I had to come to see you.’ That's what he said in his Kanaka lingo.

“He was cryin', and he looked pretty bad. He said he couldn't stand the settlement. He said, ‘I don't never see you there. Can't I live here an' be Your Dog again?’

“I said, ‘You got to go to the settlement.’ I wasn't goin' to get into trouble on account of no Kanaka kid.

“Now, that kid had swum about five miles in the night, with sharks all around him—the very place where his father had gone into a shark. That kid thought a lot of me. Well, I made him go back. ‘If you don't go, the doctor will come, an' then you got to go,’ I said. ‘You better get out. I'm goin' away, anyhow,’ I said. I was figuring on my accounts, an' I didn't want to be bothered with no fool kid.

“Well, he hung around awhile, makin' a fuss, till I opened the door an' told him to git. Then he went quiet enough. He went right down the beach into the water an' swum away, back to the settlement. Now look here, that kid liked me. He knowed me well, too—he was around my store pretty near all the time I was in Penryn. He was a fool kid. My Dog, that was the name he give himself. An' while I was in T'yti, here, I get a letter from the trader that took over my store, and he sent me a letter from that kid. It was wrote in Kanaka. He couldn't write much, but a little. Here, I'll show you the letter. You'll see what that kid thought of me.”

In the light from the open cabin window I read the letter, painfully written on cheap, blue-lined paper.

“Greetings to you, McHenry, in Tahiti, from Your Dog. It is hard to live without you. It is long since I have seen you. It is hard. I go to join my father. I give myself to the mako. To you, McHenry, from Your Dog, greetings and farewell.”

Across the bottom of the letter was written in English: “The kid disappeared from the leper settlement. They think he drowned himself.”




Thirty-seven days at sea; life of the sea-birds; strange phosphorescence; first sight of Fatu-hiva; history of the islands; chant of the Raiateans.

Thirty-seven days at sea brought us to the eve of our landing in Hiva-oa in the Marquesas. Thirty-seven monotonous days, varied only by rain-squalls and sun, by calm or threatening seas, by the changing sky. Rarely a passing schooner lifted its sail above the far circle of the horizon. It was as though we journeyed through space to another world.

Yet all around us there was life—life in a thousand varying forms, filling the sea and the air. On calm mornings the swelling waves were splashed by myriads of leaping fish, the sky was the playground of innumerable birds, soaring, diving, following their accustomed ways through their own strange world oblivious of the human creatures imprisoned on a bit of wood below them. Surrounded by a universe filled with pulsing, sentient life clothed in such multitudinous forms, man learns humility. He shrinks to a speck on an illimitable ocean.

I spent long afternoons lying on the cabin-house, watching the frigates, the tropics, gulls, boobys, and other sea-birds that sported through the sky in great numbers. The frigate-birds were called by the sailors the man-of-war bird, and also the sea-hawk. They are marvelous flyers, owing to the size of the pectoral muscles, which compared with those of other birds are extraordinarily large. They cannot rest on the water, but must sustain their flights from land to land, yet here they were in mid-ocean.

The ironbound coast of the Marquesas

A road in Nuka-Hiva

My eyes would follow one higher and higher till he became a mere dot in the blue, though but a few minutes earlier he had risen from his pursuit of fish in the water. He spread his wings fully and did not move them as he climbed from air-level to air-level, but his long forked tail expanded and closed continuously.

Sighting a school of flying-fish, which had been driven to frantic leaps from the sea by pursuing bonito, he begins to descend. First his coming down is like that of an aeroplane, in spirals, but a thousand feet from his prey he volplanes; he falls like a rocket, and seizing a fish in the air, he wings his way again to the clouds.

If he cannot find flying-fish, he stops gannets and terns in mid-air and makes them disgorge their catch, which he seizes as it falls. Refusal to give up the food is punished by blows on the head, but the gannets and terns so fear the frigate that they seldom have the courage to disobey. I think a better name for the frigate would be pirate, for he is a veritable pirate of the air. Yet no law restrains him.

I observed that the male frigate has a red pouch under the throat which he puffs up with air when he flies far. It must have some other purpose, for the female lacks it, and she needs wind-power more than the male. It is she who seeks the food when, having laid her one egg on the sand, she goes abroad, leaving her husband to keep the egg warm.

The tropic-bird, often called the boatswain, or phaëton, also climbs to great heights, and is seldom found out of these latitudes. He is a beautiful bird, white, or rose-colored with long carmine tail-feathers. In the sun these roseate birds are brilliant objects as they fly jerkily against the bright blue sky, or skim over the sea, rising and falling in their search for fish. I have seen them many times with the frigates, with whom they are great friends. It would appear that there is a bond between them; I have never seen the frigate rob his beautiful companion.

In such idle observations and the vague wonders that arose from them, the days passed. An interminable game of cards progressed in the cabin, in which I occasionally took a hand. Gedge and Lying Bill exchanged reminiscences. McHenry drank steadily. The future governor of the Marquesas added a galon to his sleeves, marking his advance to a first lieutenancy in the French colonial army. He was a very soft, sleek man, a little worn already, his black hair a trifle thin, but he was plump, his skin white as milk, and his jetty beard and mustache elaborately cared for. He was much before the mirror, combing and brushing and plucking. Compared to us unkempt wretches, he was as a dandy to a tramp.

The ice, which was packed in boxes of sawdust on deck, afforded one cold drink in which to toast the gallant future governor, and that was the last of it. At night the Tahitian sailors helped themselves, and we bade farewell to ice until once more we saw Papeite.

It was no refreshment to reflect that had we dredging apparatus long enough we could procure from the sea-bottom buckets of ooze that would have cooled our drinks almost to the freezing point. Scientists have done this. Lying Bill was loth to believe the story and the explanation, that an icy stream flows from the Antarctic through a deep valley in the sea-depths.

“It's contrar-iry to nature,” he affirmed. “The depper you go the 'otter it is. In mines the 'eat is worse the farther down. And 'ow about 'ell?”

I slept on the deck. It was sickeningly hot below. The squalls had passed, and as we neared Hiva-oa the sea became glassy smooth, but the leagues-long, lazy roll of it rocked the schooner like a cradle.

The night before the islands were to come into view the sea was lit by phosphorescence so magnificently that even my shipmates, absorbed in écarté below, called to one another to view it. The engine took us along at about six knots, and every gentle wave that broke was a lamp of loveliness. The wake of the Morning Star was a milky path lit with trembling fragments of brilliancy, and below the surface, beside the rudder, was a strip of green light from which a billion sparks of fire shot to the air. Far behind, until the horizon closed upon the ocean, our wake was curiously remindful of the boulevard of a great city seen through a mist, the lights fading in the dim distance, but sparkling still.

I went forward and stood by the cathead. The blue water stirred by the bow was wonderfully bright, a mass of coruscating phosphorescence that lighted the prow like a lamp. It was as if lightning played beneath the waves, so luminous, so scintillating the water and its reflection upon the ship.

The living organisms of the sea were en fete that night, as though to celebrate my coming to the islands of which I had so long dreamed. I smiled at the fancy, well knowing that the minute pyrocistis, having come to the surface during the calm that followed the storms, were showing in that glorious fire the panic caused among them by the cataclysm of our passing. But the individual is ever an egoist. It seems to man that the universe is a circle about him and his affairs. It may as well seem the same to the pyrocistis.

Far about the ship the waves twinkled in green fire, disturbed even by the ruffling breeze. I drew up a bucketful of the water. In the darkness of the cabin it gave no light until I passed my hand through it. That was like opening a door into a room flooded by electricity; the table, the edges of the bunks, the uninterested faces of my shipmates, leaped from the shadows. Marvels do not seem marvelous to men to live among them.

I lay long awake on deck, watching the eerily lighted sea and the great stars that hung low in the sky, and to my fancy it seemed that the air had changed, that some breath from the isles before us had softened the salty tang of the sea-breeze.

Land loomed at daybreak, dark, gloomy, and inhospitable. Rain fell drearily as we passed Fatu-hiva, the first of the Marquesas Islands sighted from the south. We had climbed from Tahiti, seventeen degrees south of the equator, to between eleven and ten degrees south, and we had made a westward of ten degrees. The Marquesas Islands lay before us, dull spots of dark rock upon the gray water.

They are not large, any of these islands; sixty or seventy miles is the greatest circumference. Some of the eleven are quite small, and have no people now. On the map of the world they are the tiniest pin-pricks. Few dwellers in Europe or America know anything about them. Most travelers have never heard of them. No liners touch them; no wire or wireless connects them with the world. No tourists visit them. Their people perish. Their trade languishes. In Tahiti, whence they draw almost all their sustenance, where their laws are made, and to which they look at the capital of the world, only a few men, who traded here, could tell me anything about the Marquesas. These men had only the vague, exaggerated ideas of the sailor, who goes ashore once or twice a year and knows nothing of the native life.

Seven hundred and fifty miles as the frigate flies separates these islands from Tahiti, but no distance can measure the difference between the happiness of Tahiti, the sparkling, brilliant loveliness of that flower-decked island, and the stern, forbidding aspect of the Marquesas lifting from the sea as we neared them. Gone were the laughing vales, the pale-green hills, the luring, feminine guise of nature, the soft-lapping waves upon a peaceful, shining shore. The spirit that rides the thunder had claimed these bleak and desolate islands for his own.

While the schooner made her way cautiously past the grim and rocky headlands of Fatu-hiva I was overwhelmed with a feeling of solemnity, of sadness; such a feeling as I have known to sweep over an army the night before a battle, when letters are written to loved ones and comrades entrusted with messages.

That gaunt, dark shore itself recalls that the history of the Marquesas is written in blood, a black spot on the white race. It is a history of evil wrought by civilization, of curses heaped on a strange, simple people by men who sought to exploit them or to mold them to another pattern, who destroyed their customs and their happiness and left them to die, apathetic, wretched, hardly knowing their own miserable plight.

The French have had their flag over the Marquesas since 1842. In 1521 Magellan must have passed between the Marquesas and Paumotas, but he does not mention them. Seventy-three years later a Spanish flotilla sent from Callao by Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, viceroy of Peru, found this island of Fatu-hiva, and its commander, Mendaña, named the group for the viceroy's lady, Las Islas Marquesas de Mendoza.

One hundred and eighty years passed, and Captain Cook again discovered the islands, and a Frenchman, Etienne Marchand, discovered the northern group. The fires of liberty were blazing high in his home land, and Marchand named his group the Isles of the Revolution, in celebration of the victories of the French people. A year earlier an American, Ingraham, had sighted this same group and given it the name of his own beloved hero, Washington.

Had not Captain Porter failed to establish American rule in 1813 in the island of Nuka-hiva, which he called Madison, the Marquesas might have been American. Porter's name, like that of Mendaña, is linked with deeds of cruelty. The Spaniard was without pity; the American may plead that his killings were reprisals or measures of safety for himself. Murder of Polynesians was little thought of. Schooners trained their guns on islands for pleasure or practice, and destroyed villages with all their inhabitants.

“To put the fear of God in the nigger's hearts,” were the words of many a sanguinary captain and crew. They did not, of course, mean that literally. They meant the fear of themselves, and of all whites. They used the name of God in vain, for after a century and more of such intermittent effort the Polynesians have small fear or faith for the God of Christians, despite continuous labors of missionaries. God seems to have forgotten them.

The French made the islands their political possessions with little difficulty. The Marquesans had no king or single chief. There were many tribes and clans, and it was easy to persuade or compel petty chiefs to sign declarations and treaties. But it was not easy to kill the independence of the people, and France virtually abandoned and retook the islands several times, her rule fluctuating with political conditions at home.

There were wars, horrible, bloody scenes, when the clansmen slew the whites and ate them, and the bones of many a gallant French officer and sea-captain have moldered where they were heaped after the orgy following victory. But, as always, the white slew his hundreds to the natives' one, and in time he drove the devil of liberty and defense of native land from the heart of the Marquesan.

Before the French achieved this, however, the white had sowed a crop of deadly evils among the Marquesans that cut them down faster than war, and left them desolate, dying, passing to extinction.

As I looked from the deck of the Morning Star I was struck by the fittingness of the scene. Fatu-hiva had been left behind and Hiva-oa, our destination, was before us, bleak and threatening. To my eyes it appeared as it had been in the eyes of the gentler Polynesians of old time, the abode of demons and of a race of terrible warriors. Hence descended the Marquesans, Vikings of the Pacific, in giant canoes, and sprang upon the fighting men of the Tahitians, the Raiateans and the Paumotans, slaughtering their hundreds and carrying away scores to feast upon in the High Places.

Mauri i te popoi a ee i te au marere i hiti tovau. Ia tari a oe. Tari a rutu mai i hea? A rutu mai i toerau i hitia! O te au marere i hiti atu a Vaua a ratu i reira A rutu i toerau roa! Areare te hai o Nu'u-hiva roa. I te are e huti te tai a Vavea.

“The spirit of the morning rides the flying vapor that rises salt from the sea. Bear on! Bear on! And strike—where? Strike to the northeast! The vapor flies to the far rim of the Sea of Atolls. Strike there! Strike far north! The sea casts up distant Nuka-Hiva, Land of the War Fleet, where the waves are towering billows.”

This was the ancient chant of the Raiateans, sung in the old days before the whites came, when they thought of the deeds that were done by the more-than-human men who lived on these desolate islands.

Harbor of Tai-o-hae

Schooner Fetia Taiao in the Bay of Traitors.
The little isle behind the schooner is Hanake




Anchorage of Taha-Uka; Exploding Eggs, and his engagement as valet; inauguration of the new governor; dance on the palace lawn.

As we approached Hiva-oa the giant height of Temetiu slowly lifted four thousand feet above the sea, swathed in blackest clouds. Below, purple-black valleys came one by one into view, murky caverns of dank vegetation. Towering precipices, seamed and riven, rose above the vast welter of the gray sea.

Slowly we crept into the wide Bay of Traitors and felt our way into the anchorage of Taha-Uka, a long and narrow passage between frowning cliffs, spray-dashed walls of granite lashed fiercely by the sea. All along the bluffs were cocoanut-palms, magnificent, waving their green fronds in the breeze. Darker green, the mountains towered above them, and far on the higher slopes we saw wild goats leaping from crag to crag and wild horses running in the upper valleys.

A score or more of white ribbons depended from the lofty heights, and through the binoculars I saw them to be waterfalls. They were like silver cords swaying in the wind, and when brought nearer by the glasses, I saw that some of them were heavy torrents while others, gauzy as wisps of chiffon, hardly veiled the black walls behind them.

The whole island dripped. The air was saturated, the decks were wet, and along the shelves of basalt that jutted from the cliffs a hundred blow-holes spouted and roared. In ages of endeavor the ocean had made chambers in the rock and cut passages to the top, through which, at every surge of the pounding waves, the water rushed and rose high in the air.

Iron-bound, the mariner calls this coast, and the word makes one see the powerful, severe mold of it. Molten rock fused in subterranean fires and cast above the sea cooled into these ominous ridges, and stern unyielding walls.

There upon the deck I determined not to leave until I had lived for a time amid these wild scenes. My intention had been to voyage with the Morning Star, returning with her to Tahiti, but a mysterious voice called to me from the dusky valleys. I could not leave without penetrating into those abrupt and melancholy depths of forest, without endeavoring, though ever so feebly, to stir the cold brew of legend and tale fast disappearing in stupor and forgetfulness.

Lying Bill protested volubly; he liked company and would regret my contribution to the expense account. Gedge joined him in serious opposition to the plan, urging that I would not be able to find a place to live, that there was no hotel, club, lodging, or food for a stranger. But I was determined to stay, though I must sleep under a breadfruit-tree. As I was a mere roamer, with no calendar or even a watch, I had but to fetch my few belongings ashore and be a Marquesan. These belongings I gathered together, and finding me obdurate, Lying Bill reluctantly agreed to set them on the beach.

On either side of Taha-Uka inlet are landing-places, one in front of a store, the other leading only to the forest. These are stairways cut in the basaltic wall of the cliffs, and against them the waves pound continuously. The beach of Taha-Uka was a mile from where we lay and not available for traffic, but around a shoulder of the bluffs was hidden the tiny bay of Atuona, where goods could be landed.

While we discussed this, around those jutting rocks shot a small out-rigger canoe, frail and hardly large enough to hold the body of a slender Marquesan boy who paddled it. About his middle he wore a red and yellow pareu, and his naked body was like a small and perfect statue as he handled his tiny craft. When he came over the side I saw that he was about thirteen years old and very handsome, tawny in complexion, with regular features and an engaging smile.

His name, he said, was Nakohu, which means Exploding Eggs. This last touch was all that was needed; without further ado I at once engaged him as valet for the period of my stay in the Marquesas. His duties would be to help in conveying my luggage ashore, to aid me in the mysteries of cooking breadfruit and such other edibles as I might discover, and to converse with me in Marquesan. In return, he was to profit by the honor of being attached to my person, by an option on such small articles as I might leave behind on my departure, and by the munificent salary of about five cents a day. His gratitude and delight knew no bounds.

Hardly had the arrangement been made, when a whaleboat rowed by Marquesans followed in the wake of the canoe, and a tall, rangy Frenchman climbed aboard the Morning Star. He was Monsieur André Bauda, agent special, commissaire, postmaster; a beau sabreur, veteran of many campaigns in Africa, dressed in khaki, medals on his chest, full of gay words and fierce words, drinking his rum neat, and the pink of courtesy. He had come to examine the ship's papers, and to receive the new governor.

A look of blank amazement appeared upon the round face of M. L'Hermier des Plantes when it was conveyed to him that this solitary whaleboat had brought a solitary white to welcome him to his seat of government. He had been assiduously preparing for his reception for many hours and was immaculately dressed in white duck, his legs in high, brightly-polished boots, his two stripes in velvet on his sleeve, and his military cap shining. He knew no more about the Marquesas than I, having come directly via Tahiti from France, and he was plainly dumfounded and dismayed. Was all that tender care of his whiskers to be wasted on scenery?

However, after a drink or two he resignedly took his belongings, and dropping into the wet and dirty boat with Bauda, he lifted an umbrella over his gaudy cap and disappeared in the rain.

“'E's got a bloomin' nice place to live in,” remarked Lying Bill. “Now, if 'e 'd a-been 'ere when I come 'e 'd a-seen something! I come 'ere thirty-five years ago when I was a young kid. I come with a skipper and I was the only crew. Me and him, and I was eighteen, and the boat was the Victor. I lived 'ere and about for ten years. Them was the days for a little excitement. There was a chief, Mohuho, who'd a-killed me if I 'adn't been tapu'd by Vaekehu, the queen, wot took a liking to me, me being a kid, and white. I've seen Mohuho shoot three natives from cocoanut-trees just to try a new gun. 'E was a bad 'un, 'e was. There was something doing every day, them days. God, wot it is to be young!”

A little later Lying Bill, Ducat, and I, with my new valet's canoe in the wake of our boat, rounded the cliffs that had shut off our view of Atuona Valley. It lay before us, a long and narrow stretch of sand behind a foaming and heavy surf; beyond, a few scattered wooden buildings among palm and banian-trees, and above, the ribbed gaunt mountains shutting in a deep and gloomy ravine. It was a lonely, beautiful place, ominous, melancholy, yet majestic.

“Bloody Hiva-oa,” this island was called. Long after the French had subdued by terror the other isles of the group, Hiva-oa remained obdurate, separate, and untamed. It was the last stronghold of brutishness, of cruel chiefs and fierce feuds, of primitive and terrible customs. And of “the man-eating isle of Hiva-oa” Atuona Valley was the capital.

We landed on the beach dry-shod, through the skill of the boat-steerer and the strength of the Tahitian sailors, who carried us through the surf and set my luggage among the thick green vines that met the tide. We were dressed to call upon the governor, whose inauguration was to take place that afternoon, and leaving my belongings in care of the faithful Exploding Eggs, we set off up the valley.

The rough road, seven or eight feet wide, was raised on rocks above the jungle and was bordered by giant banana plants and cocoanuts. At this season all was a swamp below us, the orchard palms standing many feet deep in water and mud, but their long green fronds and the darker tangle of wild growth on the steep mountain-sides were beautiful.

The government house was set half a mile farther on in the narrowing ravine, and on the way we passed a desolate dwelling, squalid, set in the marsh, its battered verandas and open doors disclosing a wretched mingling of native bareness with poverty-stricken European fittings. On the tottering veranda sat a ragged Frenchman, bearded and shaggy-haired, and beside him three girls as blonde as German Mädchens. Their white delicate faces and blue eyes, in such surroundings, struck one like a blow. The eldest was a girl of eighteen years, melancholy, though pretty, wearing like the others a dirty gown and no shoes or stockings. The man was in soiled overalls, and reeling drunk.

“That is Baufré,” said Ducat. “He is always drunk. He married the daughter of an Irish trader, a former officer in the British Indian Light Cavalry. Baufré was a sous-officier in the French forces here. There is no native blood in those girls. What will become of them, I wonder?”

A few hundred yards further on was the palace. It was a wooden house of four or five rooms, with an ample veranda, surrounded by an acre of ground fenced in. The sward was the brilliantly green, luxuriant wild growth that in these islands covers every foot of earth surface. Cocoanuts and mango-trees rose from this volunteer lawn, and under them a dozen rosebushes, thick with excessively fragrant bloom. Pineapples grew against the palings, and a bed of lettuce flourished in the rear beside a tiny pharmacy, a kitchen, and a shelter for servants.

On the spontaneous verdure before the veranda three score Marquesans stood or squatted, the men in shirts and overalls and the women in tunics. Their skins, not brown nor red nor yellow, but tawny like that of the white man deeply tanned by the sun, reminded me again that these people may trace back their ancestry to the Caucasian cradle. The hair of the women was adorned with gay flowers or the leaves of the false coffee bush. Their single garments of gorgeous colors clung to their straight, rounded bodies, their dark eyes were soft and full of light as the eyes of deer, and their features, clean-cut and severe, were of classic lines.

The men, tall and massive, seemed awkwardly constricted in ill-fitting, blue cotton overalls such as American laborers wear over street-clothes. Their huge bodies seemed about to break through the flimsy bindings, and the carriage of their striking heads made the garments ridiculous. Most of them had fairly regular features on a large scale, their mouths wide, and their lips full and sensual. They wore no hats or ornaments, though it has ever been the custom of all Polynesians to put flowers and wreaths upon their heads.

Men and women were waiting with a kind of apathetic resignation; melancholy and unresisting despair seemed the only spirit left to them.

On the veranda with the governor and Bauda were several whites, one a French woman to whom we were presented. Madame Bapp, fat and red-faced, in a tight silk gown over corsets, was twice the size of her husband, a dapper, small man with huge mustaches, a paper collar to his ears, and a fiery, red-velvet cravat.

On a table were bottles of absinthe and champagne, and several demijohns of red wine stood on the floor. All our company attacked the table freight and drank the warm champagne.

A seamy-visaged Frenchman, Pierre Guillitoue, the village butcher—a philosopher and anarchist, he told me—rapped with a bottle on the veranda railing. The governor, in every inch of gold lace possible, made a gallant figure as he rose and faced the people. His whiskers were aglow with dressing. The ceremony began with an address by a native, Haabunai.

Intrepreted by Guillitoue, Haabunai said that the Marquesans were glad to have a new governor, a wise man who would cure their ills, a just ruler, and a friend; then speaking directly to his own people, he praised extravagantly the newcomer, so that Guillitoue choked in his translation, and ceased, and mixed himself a glass of absinthe and water.

The governor replied briefly in French. He said that he had come in their interest; that he would not cheat them or betray them; that he would make them well if they were sick. The French flag was their flag; the French people loved them. The Marquesans listened without interest, as if he spoke of some one in Tibet who wanted to sell a green elephant.

In the South Seas a meeting out-of-doors means a dance. The Polynesians have ever made this universal human expression of the rhythmic principle of motion the chief evidence of emotion, and particularly of elation. Civilization has all but stifled it in many islands. Christianity has made it a sin. It dies hard, for it is the basic outlet of strong natural feeling, and the great group entertainment of these peoples.

André Bauda, Commissaire

The public dance in the garden

The speeches done, the governor suggested that the national spirit be interpreted to him in pantomine.

“They must be enlivened with alcohol or they will not move,” said Guillitoue.

Mon dieu!” he replied. “It is the ‘Folies Bergère’ over again! Give them wine!”

Bauda ordered Flag, the native gendarme, and Song of the Nightingale, a prisoner, to carry a demijohn of Bordeaux wine to the garden. With two glasses they circulated the claret until each Marquesan had a pint or so. Song of the Nightingale was a middle-aged savage, with a wicked, leering face, and whiskers from his ears to the corners of his mouth, surely a strange product of the Marquesan race, none of whose men will permit any hair to grow on lip or cheek. While Song circulated the wine M. Bauda enlightened me as to the crime that had made him prisoner. He was serving eighteen months for selling cocoanut brandy.

When the cask was emptied the people began the dance. Three rows were formed, one of women between two of men, in Indian file facing the veranda. Haabunai and Song of the Nightingale brought forth the drums. These were about four feet high, barbaric instruments of skin stretched over hollow logs, and the “Boom-Boom” that came from them when they were struck by the hands of the two strong men was thrilling and strange.

The dance was formal, slow, and melancholy. Haabunai gave the order of it, shouting at the top of his voice. The women, with blue and scarlet Chinese shawls of silk tied about their hips, moved stiffly, without interest or spontaneous spirit, as though constrained and indifferent. Though the dances were licentious, they conveyed no meaning and expressed no emotion. The men gestured by rote, appealing mutely to the spectators, so that one might fancy them orators whose voices failed to reach one. There was no laughter, not even a smile.

“Give them another demijohn!” said the governor.

The juice of the grape dissolved melancholy. When the last of it had flowed the dance was resumed. The women began a spirited danse du ventre. Their eyes now sparkled, their bodies were lithe and graceful. McHenry rushed on to the lawn and taking his place among them copied their motions in antics that set them roaring with the hearty roars of the conquered at the asininity of the conquerors. They tried to continue the dance, but could not for merriment.

One of the dancers advanced toward the veranda and in a ceremonious way kissed the governor upon the lips. That young executive was much surprised, but returned the salute and squeezed her tiny waist. All the company laughed at this, except Madame Bapp, who glared angrily and exclaimed, “Coquine!” which means hussy.

The Marquesans have no kisses in their native love-making, but smell one or rub noses, as do the Eskimo. Whites, however, have taught kisses in all their variety.

The governor had the girl drink a glass of champagne. She was perhaps sixteen years old, a charming girl, smiling, simple, and lovely. Her skin, like that of all Marquesans, was olive, not brown like the Hawaiians' or yellow like the Chinese, but like that of whites grown dark in the sun. She had black, streaming hair, sloe eyes, and an arch expression. Her manner was artlessly ingratiating, and her sweetness of disposition was not marked by hauteur. When I noticed that her arm was tattoed, she slipped off her dress and sat naked to the waist to show all her adornment.

There was an inscription of three lines stretching from her shoulder to her wrist, the letters nearly an inch in length, crowded together in careless inartistry. The legend was as follows:


These were the names given her at birth, and tattooed in her childhood. She was called, she said, Tahiakeana, Weaver of Mats.

Seeing her success among us and noting the champagne, her companions began to thrust forward on to the veranda to share her luck. This angered the governor, who thought his dignity assailed. At Bauda's order, the gendarme and Song of the Nightingale dismissed the visitors, put McHenry to sleep under a tree, and escorted the new executive and me to Bauda's home on the beach.

There in his board shanty, six by ten feet, we ate our first dinner in the islands, while the wind surged through swishing palm-leaves outside, and nuts fell now and then upon the iron roof with the resounding crash of bombs. It was a plain, but plentiful, meal of canned foods, served by the tawny gendarme and the wicked Song, whose term of punishment for distributing brandy seemed curiously suited to his crime.

At midnight I accompanied a happy governor to his palace, which had one spare bedroom, sketchily furnished. During the night the slats of my bed gave way with a dreadful din, and I woke to find the governor in pajamas of rose-colored silk, with pistol in hand, shedding electric rays upon me from a battery lamp. There was anxiety in his manner as he said:

“You never can tell. A chief's son tried to kill my predecessor. I do not know these Marquesans. We are few whites here. And, mon dieu! the guardian of the palace is himself a native!”

Antoinette, a Marquesan dancing girl

Marquesans in Sunday clothes
The daughter of Titihuti, chieftess of Hiva-Oa. On the left her husband, Pierre Pradorat, on the right, his brother




First night in Atuona valley; sensational arrival of the Golden Bed; Titi-huti's tattooed legs.

It was necessary to find at once a residence for my contemplated stay in Atuona, for the schooner sailed on the morrow, and my brief glimpse of the Marquesans had whetted my desire to live among them. I would not accept the courteous invitation of the governor to stay at the palace, for officialdom never knows its surroundings, and grandeur makes for no confidence from the lowly.

Lam Kai Oo, an aged Chinaman whom I encountered at the trader's store, came eagerly to my rescue with an offered lease of his deserted store and bakeshop. From Canton he had been brought in his youth by the labor bosses of western America to help build the transcontinental railway, and later another agency had set him down in Taha-Uka to grow cotton for John Hart. He saw the destruction of that plantation, escaped the plague of opium, and with his scant savings made himself a petty merchant in Atuona. Now he was old and had retired up the valley to the home he had long established there beside his copra furnace and his shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

He led me to the abandoned shack, a long room, tumbledown, moist, festooned with cobwebs, the counters and benches black with reminiscences of twenty thousand tradings and Chinese meals. The windows were but half a dozen bars, and the heavy vapors of a cruel past hung about the sombre walls. Though opium had long been contraband, its acrid odor permeated the worn furnishings. Here with some misgivings I prepared to spend my second night in Hiva-oa.

I left the palace late, and found the shack by its location next the river on the main road. Midnight had come, no creature stirred as I opened the door. The few stars in the black velvet pall of the sky seemed to ray out positive darkness, and the spirit of Po, the Marquesan god of evil, breathed from the unseen, shuddering forest. I tried to damn my mood, but found no profanity utterable. Rain began to fall, and I pushed into the den.

A glimpse of the dismal interior did not cheer me. I locked the door with the great iron key, spread my mat, and blew out the lantern. Soon from out the huge brick oven where for decades Lam Kai Oo had baked his bread there stole scratching, whispering forms that slid along the slippery floor and leaped about the seats where many long since dead had sat. I lay quiet with a will to sleep, but the hair stirred on my scalp.

The darkness was incredible, burdensome, like a weight. The sound of the wind and the rain in the breadfruit forest and the low roar of the torrent became only part of the silence in which those invisible presences crept and rustled. Try as I would I could recall no good deed of mine to shine for me in that shrouded confine. The Celtic vision of my forefathers, that strange mixture of the terrors of Druid and soggarth, danced on the creaking floor, and witch-lights gleamed on ceiling and timbers. I thought to dissolve it all with a match, but whether all awake or partly asleep, I had no strength to reach it.

Then something clammily touched my face, and with a bound I had the lantern going. No living thing moved in the circle of its rays. My flesh crawled on my bones, and sitting upright on my mat I chanted aloud from the Bible in French with Tahitian parallels. The glow of a pipe and the solace of tobacco aided the rhythm of the prophets in dispelling the ghosts of the gloom, but never shipwrecked mariner greeted the dawn with greater joy than I.

In its pale light I peered through the barred windows—the windows of the Chinese the world over—and saw four men who had set down a coffin to rest themselves and smoke a cigarette. They sat on the rude box covered with a black cloth and passed the pandanus-wrapped tobacco about. Naked, except for loin-cloths, their tawny skins gleaming wet in the gray light, rings of tattooing about their eyes, they made a strange picture against the jungle growth.

They were without fire for they had got into a deep place crossing the stream and had wet their matches. I handed a box through the bars, and by reckless use of the few words of Marquesan I recalled, and bits of French they knew, helped out by scraps of Spanish one had gained from the Chilean murderer who milked the cows for the German trader, I learned that the corpse was that of a woman of sixty years, whose agonies had been soothed by the ritual of the Catholic church. The bearers were taking her to Calvary cemetery on the hill.

Their cigarettes smoked, they rose and took up the long poles on which the coffin was swung. Moving with the tread of panthers, firm, noiseless, and graceful, they disappeared into the forest and I was left alone with the morning sun and the glistening leaves of the rain-wet breadfruit-trees.

On the beach an hour later I met Gedge, who asked me with a quizzical eye how I had enjoyed my first night among the Kanakas. I replied that I had seldom passed such a night, spoke glowingly of the forest and the stream, and said that I was still determined to remain behind when the schooner sailed.

“Well, if you will stay,” said he, and the trader's look came into his eye, “I've got just the thing you want. You don't want to lie on a mat where the thousand-legs can get you—and if they get you, you die. You want to live right. Now listen to me; I got the best brass bed ever a king slept on. Double thickness, heavy brass bed, looks like solid gold. Springs that would hold the schooner, double-thick mattress, sheets and pillows all embroidered like it belonged to a duchess. Fellow was going to be married that I brought it for, but now he's lying up there in Calvary in a bed they dug for him. I'll let you have it cheap—three hundred francs. It's worth double. What do you say?”

A brass bed, a golden bed in the cannibal islands!

“It's a go,” I said.

On the deck of the Morning Star I beheld the packing-cases brought up from the hold, and my new purchase with all its parts and appurtenances loaded in a ship's boat, with the iron box that held my gold. So I arrived in Atuona for the second time, high astride the sewed-up mattress on top of the metal parts, and so deftly did the Tahitians handle the oars that, though we rode the surf right up to the creeping jungle flowers that met the tide on Atuona beach, I was not wet except by spray.

Vai Etienne

The pool by the Queen's house

Our arrival was watched by a score of Marquesan chiefs who had been summoned by Bauda for the purpose, as he told me, of being urged to thrash the tax-tree more vigorously. The meeting adjourned instantly, and they hastened down from the frame building that housed the government offices. Their curiosity could not be restrained. A score of eager hands stripped the coverings from the brass bed, and exposed the glittering head and foot pieces in the brilliant sunlight. Exclamations of amazement and delight greeted the marvel. This was another wonder from the white men's isles, indicative of wealth and royal taste.

From all sides other natives came hastening. My brass bed and I were the center of a gesticulating circle, dark eyes rolled with excitement and naked shoulder jostled shoulder. Three chiefs, tattooed and haughty, personally erected the bed, and when I disclosed the purpose of the mattress, placed it in position. Every woman present now pushed forward and begged the favor of being allowed to bounce upon it. It became a diversion attended with high honor. Controversies meantime raged about the bed. Many voices estimated the number of mats that would be necessary to equal the thickness of the mattress, but none found a comparison worthy of its softness and elasticity.

In the midst of this mêlée one woman, whose eyes and facial contour betrayed Chinese blood, but who was very comely and neat, pushed forward and pointing to the glittering center of attraction repeated over and over.

Kisskisskissa? Kisskisskissa?

For awhile I was disposed to credit her with a sudden affection for me, but soon resolved her query into the French “Qu'est-ce que c'est que ca? What is that?”

She was Apporo, wife of Puhei, Great Fern, she said, and she owned a house in which her father, a Chinaman, had recently died. This house she earnestly desired to give me in exchange for the golden bed, and we struck a bargain. I was to live in the house of Apporo and, on departing, to leave her the bed. Great Fern, her husband, was called to seal the compact. He was a giant in stature, dark skinned, with a serene countenance and crisp hair. They agreed to clean the house thoroughly and to give me possession at once.

They were really mad to have the bed, in all its shiny golden beauty, and once the arrangement was made they could hardly give over examining it, crawling beneath it, smoothing the mattress and fingering the springs. They shook it, poked it, patted it, and finally Apporo, filled with feminine pride, arrogated to herself the sole privilege of bouncing upon it.

Lam Kai Oo wailed his loss of a tenant.

“You savee thlat house belong lep',” he argued earnestly. “My sto'e littee dirty, but I fixum. You go thlat lep' house, bimeby flinger dlop, toe dlop, nose he go.” He grimaced frightfully, and indicated in pantomime the ravages of leprosy upon the human form.

His appeal was in vain. The Golden Bed, upraised on the shoulders of four stalwart chiefs, began its triumphal progress up the valley road. Behind it officiously walked Exploding Eggs, puffed up with importance, regarded on all sides with respect as Tueni Oki Kiki, Keeper of the Golden Bed, but jostled for position by Apporo, envied of women. Behind them up the rough road hastened the rest of the village, eager to see the installation of the marvel in its new quarters, and I followed the barbaric procession leisurely.

My new residence was a mile from the beach, and off the main thoroughfare, though this mattered little. The roads built decades ago by the French are so ruined and neglected that not a thousand feet of them remain in all the islands. No wheel supports a vehicle, not even a wheelbarrow. Trails thread the valleys and climb the hills, and traffic is by horse and human.

My Golden Bed, lurching precariously in the narrow path, led me through tangled jungle growth to the first sight of my new home, a small house painted bright blue and roofed with corrugated iron. Set in the midst of the forest, it was raised from the ground on a paepae, a great platform made of basalt stones, black, smooth and big, the very flesh of the Marquesas Islands. Every house built by a native since their time began has been set on a paepae, and mine had been erected in days beyond the memory of any living man. It was fifty feet broad and as long, raised eight feet from the earth, which was reached by worn steps.

Above the small blue-walled house the rocky peak of Temetiu rose steeply, four thousand feet into the air, its lower reaches clothed in jungle-vines, and trees, its summit dark green under a clear sky, but black when the sun was hidden. Most of the hours of the day it was but a dim shadow above a belt of white clouds, but up to its mysterious heights a broken ridge climbed sheer from the valley, and upon it browsed the wild boar and the crag-loving goat.

Beside the house the river brawled through a greenwood of bread-fruit-, cocoanut-, vi-apple-, mango- and lime-trees. The tropical heat distilled from their leaves a drowsy woodland odor which filled the two small whitewashed rooms, and the shadows of the trees, falling through the wide unglassed windows, made a sun-flecked pattern on the black stone floor. This was the House of Lepers, now rechristened the House of the Golden Bed, which was to be my home through the unknown days before me.

The next day I watched the Morning Star lift her sails and move slowly out of the Bay of Traitors into the open sea, with less regret than I have ever felt in that moment of wistfulness which attends the departure of a sailing-ship. Exploding Eggs, at my side, read correctly my returning eyes. “Kaoha!” he said, with a wide smile of welcome, and with him and Vai, my next-door neighbor, I returned gladly to my paepae.

Vai, or in English, Water, was a youth of twenty years, a dandy; on ordinary occasions naked, except for the pareu about his loins, but on Sundays or when courting rejoicing in the gayest of Europeanized clothes. He lived near me in a small house on the river-bank with his mother and sister. All were of a long line of chiefs, and all marvelously large and handsome.

The mother, Titihuti, would have been beloved of the ancient artists who might have drawn her for an Amazon. I have never seen another woman of such superb carriage. Her hair was blood-red, her brow lofty, and an indescribable air of majesty and pride spoke eloquently of her descent from fathers and mothers of power. She had wonderful legs, statuesque in mold, and tattooed from ankles to thigh in most amazing patterns. To a Marquesan of her generation the tattooed legs of a shapely woman were the highest reach of art.

Titihuti was very proud of her legs. Though she was devout Catholic and well aware of the contempt of the church for such vanities, religion could not entirely efface her pride. During the first few days she passed and repassed my cabin in her walks about her household duties, lifting her tunic each day a little higher. Her vanity would no doubt have continued this gradual course, but that one day I came upon her in the river entirely nude. Her gratification was unconcealed; naively she displayed the innumerable whirls and arabesques of her adornment for my compliments, and thereafter she wore only a pareu when at home, entirely dropping alien standards of modesty and her gown.

She said that people came from far valleys to see her legs, and I could readily believe it. It was so with the leg of the late Queen Vaekehu, a leg so perfect in mold and so elaborately and artistically inked that it distinguished her even more than her rank. Casual whites, especially, considered it a curiosity, and offended her majesty by laying democratic hands upon the masterpiece. I had known a man or two who had seen the queen at home, and who testified warmly to the harmonious blending of flesh color with the candle-nut soot. Among my effects in the House of the Golden Bed I had a photograph showing the multiplicity and fine execution of the designs upon Vaekehu's leg, yet comparing it with the two realities of Titihuti I could not yield the palm to the queen.

The legs of Titihuti were tattooed from toes to ankles with a net-like pattern, and from the ankles to the waistline, where the design terminated in a handsome girdle, there were curves, circles and filigree, all in accord, all part of a harmonious whole, and most pleasing to the eye. The pattern upon her feet was much like that of sandals or high mocassins, indicating a former use of leg-coverings in a cold climate. Titihuti herself, after an anxious inch-for-inch matching of picture and living form, said complacently that her legs were meitai ae, which meant that she would not have hesitated to enter her own decorations in beauty competition with those of Vaekehu.

Kake, her daughter, had been christened for her mother's greatest charm, for her name means Tattooed to the Loins, though there was not a tattoo mark upon her. She was a beautiful, stately girl of nineteen or twenty, married to a devoted native, to whom, shortly after my arrival, she presented his own living miniature. I was the startled witness of the birth of this babe, the delight of his father's heart.

My neighbors and I had the same bathing hour, soon after daylight, and usually chose the same pool in the clear river. Kake was lying on a mat on their paepae when I passed one morning, and when I said “Kaoha” to her she did not reply. Her silence caused me to mount the stairway, and at that moment the child was born.

Half an hour later she joined me in the river, and laughing back at me over her shoulder as she plunged through the water, called that she would give the child my name. That afternoon she was sitting on my paepae, a bewitching sight as she held the suckling to her breast and crooned of his forefather's deeds before the white had gripped them.




Visit of Chief Seventh Man Who is So Angry He Wallows in the Mire; journey to Vait-hua on Tahuata island; fight with the devil-fish; story of a cannibal feast and the two who escaped.

“The Iron Fingers That Make Words,” the Marquesans called my typewriter. Such a wonder had never before been beheld in the islands, and its fame spread far. From other valleys and even from distant islands the curious came in threes and fours. They watched the strange thing write their names and carefully carried away the bits of paper.

“Aue!” they cried as I showed them my speed, which would be a shame to a typist.

Chiefs especially were my visitors, thinking it proper to their estate and to mine that they should call upon me and invite me to their seats of government.

So it happened that one morning as I sat on my paepae eating a breakfast of roasted breadfruit prepared for me by Exploding Eggs, my naked skin enjoying the warmth of the sun and my ears filled with the bubbling laughter of the brook, I beheld two stately visitors approaching. Exploding Eggs named them to me as they came up the trail.

Both were leading chiefs of the islands. Katu, Piece of Tattooing, of Hekeani, led the way. His severe and dignified face was a dark blue in color. His eyes alone were free from imbedded indigo ink. They gleamed like white clouds in a blue sky, but their glance was mild and kindly. Sixty years of age, he still walked with upright grace, only the softened contours of his face betraying that he was well in his manhood when his valley was still given over to tribal warfares, orgies, and cannibalism.

Behind him came Neo Afitu Atrien, of Vait-hua, a stocky brown man with a lined face, stubby mustache, and brilliant, intelligent eyes. He mounted the steps, shook hands heartily, and poured out his informed soul in English.

“Johnny, I spik Ingrish. You Iris'man. You got ‘O,’ before name. I know you got tipwrite can make machine do pen. I know Panama Canal. How is Teddy and Gotali?”

I assured the chief that both Roosevelt and Goethals were well at last account, and he veered to other topics.

“Before time, come prenty whaleship my place,” he said. “I know geograffy, mappee, grammal. I know Egyptee, Indee, all country; I know Bufflobillee. Before time, whaleship come America for take water and wood. Stay two, t'ree week. Every night sailor come ashore catchee girls take ship. Prenty rum, biskit, molassi, good American tobbacee. Now all finish. Whaleship no more. That is not good.”

His name means The Seventh Man Who Is So Angry He Wallows In The Mire. “Neo” means all but the number, and for so short a word to be translated by so detailed a statement would indicate that there were many Marquesans whose anger tripped them. Else such a word had hardly been born.

I showed the chiefs the marvels of my typewriter, displayed to their respectful gaze the Golden Bed, and otherwise did the honors. As they departed, Neo said earnestly,

“You come see me you have my house. You like, you bring prenty rum, keep warm if rain.”

“A wicked man,” said Exploding Eggs in Marquesan when the trail lay empty before us. “One time he drink much rum, French gendarme go to arrest him, he bite—” With an eloquent gesture my valet indicated that Neo's teeth had removed in its entirety the nose of the valiant defender of morals. “No good go see him,” he added with finality.

However, the prospect intrigued my fancy, and finding a few days later that Ika Vaikoki, whose discerning parents had named him Ugh! Dried-up Stream! was voyaging toward Vait-hua in a whaleboat, I offered him ten francs and two litres of rum to take me. Remembering Neo's suggestion, I took also two other bottles of rum.

While our whaleboat shot across the Bordelaise Channel pursued by a brisk breeze, Ugh! a wisp of a man of fifty, held the helm. He was for all the world like a Malay pirate; I have seen his double steering a proa off the Borneo coast, slim, high-cheeked, with a sashful of saw-like knives. Ugh! had no weapon, but his eye was a small flaming coal that made me thankful cannibalism is a thing of the past. He had been carried through the surf to his perch upon the stern because one of his legs was useless for walking, but once he grasped the tiller, he was a seaman of skill.

The oarsmen wore turbans of pink, blue, and white muslin to protect their heads from the straight rays of the white sun. Bright-colored pareus were about their loins, and several wore elastic sleeve-holders as ornaments on tawny arms and legs, while one, the son of Ugh! sported earrings, great hoops of gold that flashed in the sunshine. With their dark skins, gleaming eyes, and white teeth, they were a brilliant picture against the dazzling blue of the sea. Straight across the channel we steered for Hana Hevane, a little bay and valley guarded by sunken coral rocks over which the water foamed in white warning. Two of the men leaped out into the waves and hunted on these rocks for squids, while we beached the boat on a shore uninhabited by any living creature but rats, lizards, and centipedes. Several small octopi were soon brought in, and one of the men placed them on some boulders where the tide had left pools of water, and cleaned them of their poison. He rubbed them on the stone exactly as a washerwoman handles a flannel garment, and out of them came a lather as though he had soaped them. Suds, bubbles, and froth—one would have said a laundress had been at work there. He dipped them often in a pool of salt water, and not until they would yield no more suds did he give each a final rinsing and throw it on the fire made on the beach. Suddenly a shout broke my absorption in this task. The son of Ugh! with the gold earrings, waving his arms from amidst the surf on the reef, called to me to come and see a big feke. As his companions were dancing about and yelling madly, I left the laundrying of the small sea-devils and splashed two hundred yards through the lagoon to the scene of excitement. Four of the crew had attacked a giant devil-fish, which was hidden in a cave in the rocks. From the gloom it darted out its long arms and tried to seize the strange creatures that menaced it. The naked boatsmen, dancing just out of reach of the writhing tentacles, struck at them with long knives. As they cut off pieces of the curling, groping gristle, I thought I heard a horrible groan from the cave, almost like the voice of a human in agony. I stayed six feet away, for I had no knife and no relish for the game.

Four of the long arms had been severed at the ends when suddenly the octopus came out of his den to fight for his life. He was a reddish-purple globe of horrid flesh, horned all over, with a head not unlike an elephant's, but with large, demoniacal eyes, bitter, hating eyes that roved from one to another of us as if selecting his prey. Eight arms, some shorn of their suckers, stretched out ten feet toward us.

The Marquesans retreated precipitately, and I led them, laughing nervously, but not joyously. The son of Ugh! stopped first.

Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta!” he cried. “Are we afraid of that ugly beast? I have killed many. Pakeka! We will eat him, too!”

He turned with the others and advanced toward the feke, shouting scornful names at him, threatening him with death and being eaten, warning him that the sooner he gave up, the quicker ended his agony. But the devilfish was not afraid. His courage shamed mine. I was behind the barrier of the boatsmen, but once in the throes of the fight a slimy arm passed between two of them and wound itself around my leg. I screamed out, for it was icy cold and sent a sickening weakness all through me, so that I could not have swum a dozen feet with it upon me. One of the natives cut it off, and still it clung to my bloodless skin until I plucked it away.

The son of Ugh! had two of the great arms about him at one time, but his companions hacked at them until he was free. Then, regardless of the struggles of the maimed devil, they closed in on him and stabbed his head and body until he died. During these last moments I was amazed and sickened to hear the octopus growling and moaning in its fury and suffering. His voice had a curious timbre. I once heard a man dying of hydrophobia make such sounds, half animal, half human.

“That feke would have killed and eaten any one of us,” said the son of Ugh! “Not many are so big as he, but here in Hana Hevane, where seldom any one fished, they are the biggest in the world. They lie in these holes in the rocks and catch fish and crabs as they swim by. My cousin was taken by one while fishing, and was dragged down into the hidden caverns. He was last seen standing on a ledge, and the next day his bones were found picked clean. A shark is easier to fight than such a devil who has so many arms.”

The boatsmen gathered up the remnants of the foe and brought them to the beach, where the elder Ugh! was tending the fire. Crabs were broiling upon it, and the pieces of the feke were flung beside them and the smaller octopi.

When they were cooked, a trough of popoi and one of feikai, or roasted breadfruit mixed with a cocoanut-milk sauce, were placed on the sand, and all squatted to dine. For a quarter of an hour the only sounds were the plup of fingers withdrawn from mouths filled with popoi, and the faint creaming of waves on the beach. Marquesans feel that eating is serious business. The devil-fish and crabs were the delicacies, and served as dessert. Blackened by the fire, squid and crustacean were eaten without condiment, the tentacles being devoured as one eats celery. I was soon satisfied, and while they lingered over their food and smoked I strolled up the valley a little way, still feeling the pressure of that severed arm.

Hana Hevane had its people one time. They vanished as from a hundred other valleys, before the march of progress. The kindly green of the jungle had hidden the marks of human habitations, where once they had lived and loved and died.

Only the bones of La Corse, the schooner Jerome Capriata had sailed many years, lay rotting under a grotesque and dark banian, never more to feel the foot of man upon the deck or to toss upon the sea. A consoling wave lapped the empty pintles and gave the decaying craft a caress by the element whose mistress she so long had been. Her mast was still stepped, but a hundred centipedes crawled over the hull.

When I returned to the fire, the boatmen were talking. Ugh! Dried-up Stream! his stomach full and smoke in his mouth, bethought himself of a tale, an incident of this very spot. In a sardonic manner he began:

“The men of this island, Tahuata, in the old days descended on Fatu-hiva to hunt the man-meat. After the battle, they brought their captives to Hana Hevane to rest, to build a fire and to eat one of their catch. This they did, and departed again. But when they were in their canoes, they found they had forgotten a girl whom they had thrown on the sand, and they returned for her. The sea was rough, and they had to stay here on the beach for the night.

“As was the custom, they erected a gibbet, two posts and a horizontal bar, and on the bar they hung the living prisoners, with a cord of parau bark passed through the scalp and tied around the hair. Their arms were tied behind them, and they swung in the breeze.

“In the night, when the Tahuata men slept from their gluttony, one of them arose silently and unbound a prisoner who was his friend, and told him to run to the mountains. He then lay down and slept, and in the darkness this man who had been freed returned stealthily in the darkness, and unloosed a girl, the same who had been forgotten on the sand. In the morning the other captives were dead, but those who escaped were months in the fastness of the heights, living on roots and on birds they snared. In the end they went to Motopu. They were well received, for the Tahuata warriors thought a god had aided them, and they and their children lived long there.”

Ugh! smiled reminiscently as if his thoughts were returning from pleasant things, and clapped his hands as a signal for reembarking.

The bowls of food remaining were tied in baskets of leaves and hung in the banian tree to await the boatsmen's return for the night, the steersman was carried to his place, and the boat pushed through the surf.

A gaunt shark swam close to the reefs as we rowed out, a hungry, ill-looking monster. One of the bottles of rum the oarsmen had drunk on the way to Hana Hevane, the other was stored for their return, and to gain a third the son of Ugh! offered to go overboard and tie a rope to the shark's tail, which is the way natives often catch them. A shark was not worth a liter of rum, I said, being in no mind to risk the limbs of a man in such a sport. Besides, I had no more to give away. I could imagine the rage of Seventh Man Who Wallows should he learn of my wasting in such foolishness what would keep us both warm if it rained.

As we caught the wind a flock of koio came close to us in their search for fish. The black birds were like a cloud; there must have been fifty thousand of them, and flying over us they completely cut off the sunlight, like a dark storm. If they had taken a fancy to settle on us they must have smothered us under a feathered avalanche. Ugh! was startled and amazed that the birds should come so close, and all raised an uproar of voices and waved arms and oars in the air, to frighten them off. They passed, the sun shone upon us again, and in a sparkling sea we made our way past Iva Iva Iti and Iva Iva Nui, rounding a high green shore into the bay of Vait-hua.

The mountains above the valley loomed like castellated summits of Italy, so like huge stone fortresses that one might mistake them for such from the sea. The tiny settlement reaching from the beach half a mile up the glen was screened by its many trees.

The whaleboat slid up to a rocky ledge, and my luggage and I were put ashore. Exploding Eggs, who had insisted on accompanying me, took it into his charge, and with it balanced on his shoulders we sauntered along the road to the village where the French gendarme had lost his nose to the mad namu-drinker.




Idyllic valley of Vait-hua; the beauty of Vanquished Often; bathing on the beach; an unexpected proposal of marriage.

The beach followed the semi-circle of the small bay, and was hemmed in on both sides by massive black rocks, above which rose steep mountains covered with verdure. The narrow valley itself sloped upward on either hand to a sheer wall of cliffs. In the couple of miles from the water's edge to the jungle tangle of the high hills were thousands upon thousands of cocoanut-palms, breadfruit-, mango-, banana-, and lime-trees, all speaking of the throng of people that formerly inhabited this lovely spot, now so deserted. The tiny settlement remaining, with its scattered few habitations, was beautiful beyond comparison. A score or so of houses, small, but neat and comfortable, wreathed with morning-glory vines and shaded by trees, clustered along the bank of a limpid stream crossed at intervals by white stepping-stones. Naked children, whose heads were wreathed with flowers, splashed in sheltered pools, or fled like moving brown shadows into the sun-flecked depths of the glade as we approached.

We were met beneath a giant banian-tree by the chief, who greeted us with simple dignity and led us at once to his house. The most pretentious in the village, it consisted of two rooms, built of redwood boards from California, white-washed, clean, and bare, opening through wide doors upon the broad paepae. This house, the chief insisted, was to be my home while I remained his guest in Vait-hua. My polite protestations he waved away with a courtly gesture and an obdurate smile. I was an American, and his guest.

My visit was obviously a great event in the eyes of Mrs. Seventh Man Who Is So Angry He Wallows In The Mire. A laughing Juno of thirty years, large and rounded as a breadfruit-tree, more than six feet in height, with a mass of blue-black hair and teeth that flashed white as a fresh-opened cocoanut, she rose from her mat on the paepae and rubbed my nose ceremoniously with hers. Clothed in a necklace of false pearls and a brilliantly scarlet loincloth, she was truly a barbaric figure, yet in her eye I beheld that instant preoccupation with household matters that greets the unexpected guest the world over.

While the chief and I reclined upon mats and Exploding Eggs sat vigilant at my side, she vanished into the house, and shortly returned to set before us a bowl of popoi and several cocoanuts. These we ate while Neo discoursed sadly upon the evil times that had befallen his reign.

“Me very busy when prenty ship come,” he mourned. “Me fix for wood; get seven dollar load. Me fix for girl for captain and mate. Me stay ship, eat hard-tackee, salt horsee, chew tobacco, drink rum. Good time he all dead.”

The repast ended, we set out to view the depleted village with its few inhabitants, the remainder after Europe had subtracted native habits and native health.

The gorge that parted the valley was wide and deep for the silver stream that sang its way to the bay. When the rain fell in cascades the channel hardly contained the mad torrent that raced from the heights, a torrent that had destroyed the road built years before when whaler's ships by the dozens came each year. Now the natives made their way as of old, up and down rocky trails and over the stepping-stones.

Near the beach we came upon a group of tumbledown shanties, remnants of the seat of government. Only a thatched schoolhouse and a tiny cabin for the teacher were habitable. Here the single artist of the islands, Monsieur Charles Le Moine, had taught the three “R's” to Vait-hua's adolescents for years. He was away now, Neo said, but we found his cabin open and littered with canvases, sketches, paint-tubes, and worn household articles.

“He got litt'ee broomee, an' sweep paint out litt'ee pipe on thing make ship's sails,” Neo explained. Surely a description of a broad modern style.

On the wall or leaning against it on the floor were a dozen drawings and oils of a young girl of startling beauty. Laughing, clear-eyed, she seemed almost to speak from the canvas, filling the room with charm. Here she leaned against a palm-trunk, her bare brown body warm against its gray; there she stood on a white beach, a crimson pareu about her loins and hibiscus flowers in her hair.

“That Hinatini,” said Seventh Man Who Wallows, speaking always in what he supposed to be English. “She some pumkin, eh? Le Moine like more better make tiki like this than say book. She my niece.”

The rich colors of the pictures sang like bugle-notes among the shabby odds and ends of the studio. A cot, a broken chair or two, a table smeared with paints, an old shoe, a pipe, and a sketch of the Seine, gave me La Moine in his European birthright, but the absence of any European comforts, the lack even of dishes and a lamp, told me that Montmartre would not know him again. The eyes of the girl who lived on the canvases said that Le Moine was claimed by the Land of the War Fleet.

Turning from the dingy interior of his cabin, I saw in the sunlight beyond the door his model in the life. Le Moine had not the brush to do her justice. Vanquished Often, as Hinatini means, was perhaps thirteen years old, with a grace of carriage, a beauty and perfection of features, a rich coloring no canvas could depict. Her skin was of warm olive hue, with tinges of red in the cheeks and the lips cherry-ripe. Her eyes were dark brown, large, melting, childishly introspective. Her hands were shapely, and her little bare feet, arched, rosy-nailed, were like flowers on the sand. She wore the thinnest of sheer white cotton tunics, and there were flamboyant flowers in the shining dark hair that tumbled to her waist.

She greeted me with the eager artlessness of the child that she was. She was on her way to the vai puna, the spring by the beach, she said. Would I accompany her thither? And would I tell her of the women of my people in the strange islands of the Memke? They were very far away, were they not, those islands? Farther even than Tahiti? How deep beneath the sea could their women dive?

I answered these, and other questions, while we walked down the beach, and I marveled at the unconscious grace of her movements. The chief wonder of all these Marquesans is the beauty and erectness of their standing and walking postures. Their chests are broad and deep, their bosoms, even in girls of Vanquished Often's age, rounded, superb, and their limbs have an ease of motion, an animal-like litheness unknown to our clothed and dress-bound women.

Vanquished Often was the most perfect type of all these physical perfections, a survival of those wondrous Marquesan women who addled the wits of the whites a century ago. There was no blemish on her, nor any feature one would alter.

Half a dozen of her comrades were lounging upon the sand when we reached the via puna. Here an iron pipe in the mountain-side tapped subterranean waters, and a hollowed cocoanut-tree gave them exit upon the sand where salt waves flowed up to meet them. Long lean curving cocoanuts arched above, and beneath their ribbons of shade lay an old canoe, upon which sat those who waited their turn to bathe, to fill calabashes, or merely to gossip.

For all time, they said, this had been the center of life in Vait-hua. Old wives' tales had been told here for generations. The whalers filled their casks at this spring, working every hour of the twenty-four because the flow was small. Famous harpooners, steersmen who winked no eye when the wounded whale drew their boat through a smother of foam, shanghaied gentlemen, sweepings of harbors, Nantucket deacons, pirates, and the whole breed of sailors and fighting fellows, congregated here to bathe and to fill their water-casks. Near this crystal rivulet they slashed each other in their quarrels over Vait-hua's fairest, and exchanged their slop-chest luxuries and grog for the favors of the island chiefs.

It was Standard Oil, sending around the world its tipoti, or tin cans, filled with illuminating fluid cheaper than that of the whale, that ended the days of the ships in Vait-hua, and they sailed away for the last time, leaving an island so depopulated that its few remaining people could slip back into the life of the days before the whites came.

Alice Snow las' whaleship come Vait-hua six years before,” said the Seventh Man Who Wallows. “Before that, one ship, California name, Captain Andrew Hicks. Charlie, he sailmaker, run away from Andrew Hicks. One Vait-hua girl look good to him. She hide him in hills till captain make finish chase him. That him children.”

Indeed, most of the faces turned toward me from the group about the spring were European, either by recent heredity or tribal nature. I could see the Saxon, the Latin, and the Viking, and one girl was all Japanese, a reference to which caused her to weep. “Iapona” was to her pretty ears the meanest word in Vait-hua's vocabulary, and her playmates held it in reserve for important disagreements.

Vanquished Often, slipping from her white tunic, stepped beneath the stream of crystal water and laughed at the cool delight of it on her smooth skin. It was a picture of which artist's dream, the naked girl laughing in the torrents of transparent water, the wet crimson blossoms washing from her drowned hair, and beneath the striped shade of the palm-trunks her simple, savage companions waiting their turn, squatting on the sand or crowded on the canoe, their loins wrapped in crimson and blue and yellow pareus. Behind them all the mountains rose steeply, a mass of brilliant green jungle growth, and before them, across the rim of shining white sand, spread the wide blue sea.

Courtesy suggested that I should be next to feel the refreshing torrent. We let slip the garment of timorous covering very easily when nudity is commonplace. Vait-hua was to teach me to be modest without pother, to chat with those about me during my ablutions without concern for the false vanities of screens or even the shelter of rocks as in the river in Atuona. In such scenes one perceives that immodesty is in the false shame that makes one cling to clothes, rather than in the simple virtues that walk naked and unashamed.

Tacitus recites that chastity was a controlling virtue among the Teutons, ranking among women as bravery among men, yet all Teutons bathed in the streams together. In Japan both sexes bathe in public in natural hot pools, and that without diffidence. The Japanese, though a people of many clothes, regard nudity with indifference, but use garments to conceal the contour of the human form, while we are horrified by nakedness and yet use dress to enhance the form, especially to emphasize the difference between sexes. Our women's accentuated hips and waistlines shock the Japanese, whose loose clothing is the same for men and women, the broader belt and double fold upon the small of the back, the obi, being the only differentiation.

Mohammedan women surprised in bathing cover their faces first; the Chinese, the feet. Good Erasmus, that Dutch theologian, said that “angels abhor nakedness.” Devout Europeans of his day never saw their own bodies; if they bathed, they wore a garment covering them from head to feet. Thus standards of clothing vary from age to age and from country to country.

Missionaries bewilder the savage mind by imposing their own standards of the moment and calling them modesty. The African negro, struggling to harmonize these two ideas, wore a tall silk hat and a pair of slippers as his only garments when he obeyed Livingstone's exhortations to clothe himself in the presence of white women.

Vait-hua was all savage; whatever bewilderments the missionaries had brought had faded when dwindling population left the isle to its own people. In the minds of my happy companions at the vai puna, modesty had no more to do with clothing than, among us, it had to do with food. The standards of the individual are everywhere formed by the mass-opinion of those about him; I came from my bath, replaced my garments, and felt myself Marquesan.

The sensation was false. Savage peoples can never understand our philosophy, our complex springs of action. They may ape our manners, wear our ornaments, and seek our company, but their souls remain indifferent. They laugh when we are stolid. They weep when we are unmoved. Their gods and devils are not ours.

From our side, too, the abyss is impassable. Civilization with its refinements and complexities has stripped us of the power of complete surrender to simple impulses. The white who would become like a natural savage succeeds only in becoming a beast. “Plus sauvage que les kanakas,” is a proverb in the islands. Its implications I had occasion to heed ere the evening was ended.

Wrapped only in a gorgeous red pareu, I sat on the paepae of the chief's house, now become mine. I was the especial care of Mrs. Seventh Man Who Wallows, who all afternoon long had sat on her haunches over a cocoanut husk fire stirring savory foods for me. Fish, chickens, pigs, eggs, and native delicacies of all kinds she had cooked and sauced so appetizingly that I conferred on her the title of “Chefess” de Cuisine, and voiced my suspicions that some deserting cook from a flagship had traded his lore for her kisses. Her laughter was spiced with pride, and the chief himself smilingly nodded and gestured to assure me that I had guessed right.

Now in the quiet of the evening, empty bowls removed, pandanus-leaf cigarettes lighted, and pipe passing from hand to hand, we sat rejoicing in the sweet odors of the forest, the murmur of the stream, and the ease of contentment. Many elders of the village had come to meet the stranger, to discuss the world and its wonders, and to marvel at the ways of the whites. The glow of the pipe lighted shriveled yet still handsome countenances scrolled with tattooing, and caught gleams from rolling eyes or sparkles from necklace and earring. Above the mountains a full moon rose, flooding the valley with light and fading the brilliant colors of leaf and flower to pale pastel tints.

Vanquished Often sat beside me, her dark hair falling over my knee, and listened respectfully to the conversation of her elders, who discussed the gods of the stranger.

They wondered what curious motive had impelled the Jews, the Aati-Ietu, to kill Ieto Kirito the Savior of the world. They discussed the strange madness that had possessed Iuda Iskalota, that he had first bought land with his forty pieces of silver and then hanged himself to a purau tree. Was it cocoanut land? they asked. Was it not good land?

Often across the worn stones of the paepae stole a vei, a centipede, upon which a bare foot quickly stamped. The chief said casually, “If he bite you, you no die; you have hell of a time.” They were not natives of the Marquesas originally, he said; they came in the coal of ships. His patriotism outran his knowledge, for the first discoverers bitterly berated these poisonous creatures, though no more warmly than Neo, who drew heavily upon his stock of English curses to tell his opinion of them.

When the time came for saying apae kaoha my kindly hosts sought to confer upon me the last proof of their friendliness. They proposed that I marry Vanquished Often.

My refusal was incomprehensible to them, and Vanquished Often's happy smile in the moonlight quickly faded to a look of pain and humiliation. They had offered me their highest and most revered expression of hospitality. To refuse it was as uncustomary and as rude as to refuse the Alaskan miner who offers a drink at a public bar.

Menike,” pleaded the chief, “that Hinatini more better marry white man, friend of Teddy, from number one island. She some punkins for be good wife. Suppose may be you like Vait-hua you stay long time; suppose you go soon, make never mind!”

The fair chieftess shook her earrings and smiled archly. “Bonne filly pooh voo, Menike,” she urged in her Marquesan French. “Good wife for you. It is my pleasure that you are happy. She is beautiful and good. You will be the son of our people while you are here.”

Vanquished Often, who had a vague notion of the greatness of her uncle's Menike friends, Teddy and Gotali, and of the desirability of an alliance with one of their tribe, approached me softly and rubbed my back in a circle the while she crooned a broken song of the whaling days, concerning the “rolling Mississippi” and the “Black Ball line.” Seventh Man Who Wallows in the Mire himself began to make concentric circles on my breast with his heavy hand, so that I was beset fore and aft by the most tender and friendly advances of the Marquesan race. Never was hapless guest in more unfortunate plight.

She was but a child, I said; Americans did not mate with children. They smiled as at a pleasantry, and again extolled her charms. Desperately I harked back to the ten commandments in an endeavor to support my refusal by other reasons than distaste or discourtesy, but laughter met my text. “White man does not follow white man's tapus,” said my hostess, gently placing my hand in that of Vanquished Often. The slender fingers clung timorously to mine. Unhappy Hinatini feared that she was about to be disgraced before her people by the white man's scorn of her beauty.

I was fain to invent a romance upon the spot. I was madly enamoured of an Atuona belle, I said. She waited for me upon my own paepae; she was a mighty woman and swift to anger. She would wreak vengeance upon me, and upon Vanquished Often. I would adopt Vanquished Often as my sister. In token of this I pressed my lips upon her forehead and kissed her hands. She smiled bewitchingly, pleased by the novel honor.

My hosts and their friends departed with her, half pleased, half puzzled at this latest whimsy of the strange white, and I lay down upon the mats of the chief's house, with Exploding Eggs lying across the doorway at my feet.

The night brought fitful dreams, and in the darkest hour I woke to feel a frightening thing upon my leg. By the light of the dimly burning lantern I saw a thousand-leg, reddish brown and ten inches long, halting perhaps for breath midway between my knee and waist. It seemed indeed to have a thousand legs, and each separate foot made impresses of terror on my mind, while each toe and claw clutched my bare flesh with threatening touch.

The brave man of the tale who saves himself from cobra or rattler by letting the serpent crawl its slow way over his perfectly controlled body might have withheld even a quiver of the flesh, but I am no Spartan. At my convulsive shudder each horrid claw gripped a death-hold. In one swift motion I seized a corkscrew that lay nearby, pried loose with a quick jerk every single pede and threw the odious thing a dozen yards. A trail of red, inflamed spots rose where it had stood and remained painful and swollen for days.

Idling away the sunny hours

Nothing to do but rest all day

Whether it was because this experience became mixed with my first dreams in beautiful Vait-hua, or whether my Celtic blood sees portents where they do not exist, certain it is that as the stealthy charm of that idyllic place grew upon me through the days something within me resisted it. I was ever aware that its beauty concealed a menace deadly to the white man who listened too long to the rustle of its palms and the murmur of its stream.




Communal life; sport in the waves; fight of the sharks and the mother whale; a day in the mountains; death of Le Capitaine Halley; return to Atuona.

Life in Vait-hua was idyllic. The whites, having desolated and depopulated this once thronged valley, had gone, leaving the remnant of its people to return to their native virtue and quietude. Here, perhaps more than in any other spot in all the isles, the Marquesan lived as his forefathers had before the whites came.

Doing nothing sweetly was an art in Vait-hua. Pleasure is nature's sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment. The people of this quiet valley did not crave excitement. The bustle and nervous energy of the white wearied them excessively. Time was never wasted, to their minds, for leisure was the measure of its value.

Domestic details, the preparation of food, the care of children, the nursing of the sick, were the tasks of all the household. Husband and wife, or the mates unmarried, labored together in delightful unity. Often the woman accompanied her man into the forests, assisting in the gathering of nuts and breadfruit, in the fishing and the building. When these duties did not occupy them, or when they were not together bathing in the river or at the via puna, they sat side by side on their paepaes in meditation. They might discuss the events of the day, they might receive the visits of others, or go abroad for conversation; but for hours they often were wrapped in their thoughts, in a silence broken only by the rolling of their pandanus cigarettes or the lighting of the mutual pipe.

“Of what are you thinking?” I said often to my neighbors when breaking in upon their meditation.

“Of the world. Of those stars,” they replied.

They would sympathize with that Chinese traveler who, visiting America and being hurried from carriage to train, smiled at our idea of catching the fleeting moment.

“We save ten minutes by catching this train,” said his guide, enthusiastically.

“And what will you do with that ten minutes?” demanded the Chinese.

To be busy about anything not necessary to living is, in Marquesan wisdom, to be idle.

Swimming in the surf, lolling at the via puna, angling from rock or canoe or fishing with line and spear outside the bay, searching for shell-fish, and riding or walking over the hills to other valleys, filled their peaceful, pleasant days. A dream-like, care-free life, lived by a people sweet to know, handsome and generous and loving.

That he never saw or heard of the slightest quarrel between individuals was the statement a century ago of Captain Porter, the American. Then as now the most perfect harmony prevailed among them. They lived like affectionate brothers of one family, he said, the authority of the chiefs being only that of fathers among children. They had no mode of punishment for there were no offenders. Theft was unknown, and all property was left unguarded. So Porter, who, with his ship's company, killed so many Marquesans, was fully aware of their civic virtues, their kindness, gentleness and generosity.

It is so to-day, in Vait-hua where the whites are not. I have had my trousers lifted from my second-story room in a Manila hotel by the eyed and fingered bamboo of the Tagalog ladron, while I washed my face, and stood aghast at the mystery of their disappearance with door locked, until looking from my lofty window I beheld them moving rapidly down an estero in a banca. I have given over my watch to a gendarme in Cairo to forfend arrest for having beaten an Arab who tripped me to pick my pocket, and I have surrendered to the rapacity of a major-general-uniformed official in Italy, who would incarcerate me for not having a tail-light lit. In San Francisco, when robbed upon the public street, I have listened while the police suggested that I offer a fee to the “king of the dips” and a reward to certain saloonkeepers to intercede with the unknown-to-me highwaymen for the return of an heirloom.

Yet through the darkest nights in Vait-hua I slept serenely, surrounded by all the possessions so desirable in the eyes of my neighbors, in a house the doors of which were never fastened. There was not a lock in all the village, or anything that answered the purpose of one. The people of this isolated valley, forgetting their brief encounter with the European idea of money and of the accumulation of property, had reverted to the ways of their fathers.

Before interference with their natural customs the Marquesans were communists to a large degree. Their only private property consisted of houses, weapons, ornaments, and clothing, for the personal use of the owner himself. All large works, such as the erection of houses, the building of large canoes, and, in ancient days, the raising of paepaes and temples, were done by mutual cooperation; though each family provided its own food and made provision for the future by storing breadfruit in the popoi pits. Neo, like the long line of chiefs before him, had gathered a little more of the good things of life than had the majority, but he was in no sense a dictator, except as personality won obedience. In the old days a chief was often relegated to the ranks for failure in war, and always for an overbearing attitude toward the commoners. Such arrogant fellows were kicked out of the seat of power unceremoniously.

“Our pure republican policy approaches so near their own,” said the American naval captain, Porter, a hundred years ago.

Men were honored for their artistry, highest place being given to the tattooers, the carvers, the designers, and builders of canoes, the architects, doctors, and warriors. Men and women rose to influence and chiefly rank only by deeds that won popular admiration. These people were hero-worshippers, and in the bloodiest of the old days those of fine soul who had a message of entertainment or instruction were tapu to all tribes, so that they could travel anywhere in safety and were welcome guests in all homes.

It is true that in Hawaii and Tonga conquerors made themselves kings, but not there or in Samoa, Tahiti, or the Marquesas were kings supreme rulers until the whites established them for their own trade purposes and sold them firearms by which to maintain their power.

That day of the whites had passed in Vait-hua. The chief now maintained his authority by the fondness of his people alone. Generous he was, and gentle, yet I minded that he had bitten off the nose of Severin, the French gendarme, when the namu had made him mad. Now whether guided by pride in his discipline or by memory of evil-doing repented, he was strict in his enforcement of the prohibition of cocoanut toddy, and sobriety made the days and nights peaceful.

Early in the mornings I called “Kaoha!” from my paepae to Mrs. Seventh Man, who came each day from her bath in the via puna attired in her earrings only.

Sauntering along the bank of the brook still dripping from the spring, her wet black hair clinging to her shapely back and her tawny skin glistening in flickering light and shade, she was for all the world my conception of Mother Eve before even leaves were modesty. Her nudity was a custom only at this time, for when she reappeared to aid Exploding Eggs in preparing my breakfast she always wore a scarlet pareu and her hair was done like Bernhardt's.

Vanquished Often appeared with her aunt, carefully dressed in spotless, diaphanous tunic, fresh flowers in her hair, a treasured pink silk garter clasping her rounded arm. “Big White Brother,” she called me with pride, though often I saw a sad wonder in her great eyes as she squatted near, silently watching me. Her possessive ways were pretty to see as she walked close by my side on the trail from my cabin to the beach, while Exploding Eggs regarded her jealously, insisting on his prerogative as Tueni Oki Kiki, Keeper of the Golden Bed, the glittering magnificence of which he described minutely to her.

We arrived at a merry scene upon the beach. Women and children were in the surf, or on rocks under the cliffs, fishing for popo, the young of uua. With bamboo poles twenty feet long and lines of even greater length, we stood up to our necks in the sea and threw out the hook baited with a morsel of shrimp. The breakers tumbled us about, the lines became tangled, amid gales of laughter and a medley of joyous shouts. Tiring of fishing, Vanquished Often and I would breast the creaming waves side by side, to turn far out and dash in on the breakers, overturning all but the wary. Or a group of us, climbing high on the cliffs, would fling ourselves again and again into the sea, turning in mid-air, life and delight quickening every muscle.

Wearying of this sport, we embarked in canoes, fishing or sailing, and many small adventures we had, for the younger and more daring spirits delighted in scaring me into expostulation or the silence of the condemned and then saving my life by a hair's-breadth.

We had gone one morning about the southern cape, and were harpooning swordfish and the gigantic sunfish when a commotion a thousand feet away brought shouts of warning from my companions. We saw two whales, one with a baby at her breast. The other we took to be the father whale. Huge black beasts they were. Upon this mated pair a band of sharks had flung themselves to seize the infant.

There were at least twenty-five sharks in the mad mob, great white monsters thirty feet in length, man-eaters by blood-taste, tigers in disposition. Though they could not compare with their prey in size or power, they had heads as large as barrels, and mouths that would drag a man through their terrible gaps. That their hunger was past all bounds was evident, for the whale is not often attacked by such inferior-sized fish. Storms had raged on the sea for days, and maybe had cheated the sharks of their usual food.

They swam around and around the mountainous pair, darting in and out, evidently with some plan of drawing off the male. Both the whales struck out incessantly with their mammoth flukes; their great tails, crashing upon the sea-surface, lashed it to mountains of foam. Our boats tossed as in a gale.

Carried away by the pity and terror of the scene, we shouted threats and curses at the monsters, calling down on them in Marquesan the wrath of the sea-gods. Frenziedly handling tiller and sails, we circled the battle, impotent to aid the poor woman-beast and her baby. The sharks harried them as hounds a fox. Desperately the parents fought, more than one shark sank wounded to the depths and one, turning its white belly to the sun, floated dead upon the waves. Another was flung high in air by a blow of the mother's tail. But it was an uneven contest. At last we saw the nursling drawn from her breast, and the mother herself sank, still struggling. She may have risen, of course, far away, but she seemed disabled.

We did not wait about that bloody spot when the sharks had fallen upon their prey, for our canoe was low in the water, and with such a sight to warn us, we did not doubt that the loathly monsters would attack us.

From such a sight it was a relief to turn to the mountains. Along the steep trails I roamed far with Vanquished Often and Exploding Eggs. We played at being alone with nature, foregoing in living all that the white man had brought. I left the house of the chief naked save for a loin-cloth of native make, and I wore no shoes or hat. Vanquished Often and my valet were attired as I, and thus we shouted “Kaoha!” to the chieftess and started toward adventure.

Seventh Man was dubious about my setting off without some prepared food, popoi or canned fish or biscuits, and without sleeping-mats. “You ketchee hungery by an' soon,” he protested. “No got Gold Bed in mountains.”

Vanquished Often laughed merrily, and the chief looked like a father whose child has thrown a stone at the bogie-man. I rubbed his nose with mine in farewell, and we began our journey, barehanded as Crusoe, yet more fortunate than he since we were in the best of company and I had the comforting knowledge that Marquesan youth would not go hungry or permit me to do so.

Our way led up heights of marvelous beauty, along the edges of deep defiles that opened below our feet like valleys of Paradise. The candlenut, the ama, with its lilac bloom, the hibiscus and pandanus, green and glossy, the petavii, a kind of banana the curving fronds of which spread high in air, the snake-plant, makomako, a yellow-flowered shrub, and many others none of us could name, carpeted the farther mountain-sides with brilliant colors. Everywhere were cocoanuts, guavas, and mangos. In the tree-tops over our heads the bindweed shook its feathery seed-pods, the parasite kouna dripped its deeply serrated leaves and crimson umbels, and thousands of orchids hung like butterflies.

“It is beautiful in your islands, is it not?” Vanquished Often said wistfully. “Tell us more of the marvels there! Are the girls of your valleys very lovely, and do they all sleep in golden beds?”

All daughters of chiefs slept in golden beds, I told her. Often they wore golden slippers on their feet. When they wished to go over the mountains they did not walk, or ride on donkeys, but went in seats covered with velvet, a kind of cloth more soft than the silk ribbon of her pink garter-armlet, and these seats were drawn at incredible speed by a snorting thing made of iron, not living, but stronger than a hundred donkeys.

“How do they make that cloth?” said Vanquished Often, eagerly. They did not make it, I explained. It was made for them by girls who were not daughters of chiefs, and therefore had no golden beds.

Her eyes clouded with bewilderment, but Exploding Eggs listened breathlessly, and demanded more tales. I told them of wireless telegraphy. This they believed as they believed the tales of magic told by old sorcerers, but they scoffed at my description of an elevator, perceiving that I was loosing the reins of my fancy and soaring to impossibilities.

“The girls in your island must always be happy,” said Vanquished Often, sighing. All daughters of chiefs were happy, I said. “What is the manner of their fishing?” asked Exploding Eggs.

In such conversation we proceeded, walking for miles through a fairyland in which we were the only living creatures, save for the small scurrying things that slipped across the trail, and the bright-colored birds that fluttered through the tree-tops.

At noon we paused for luncheon. Vanquished Often disappeared in the forest, to return shortly with her gathered-up tunic filled with mangos and guavas, four cocoanuts slung in a neatly plaited basket of leaves on her bare shoulders. Exploding Eggs, cutting two sticks of dry wood from the underbrush, whirled them upon each other with such speed and dexterity that soon a small fire, fed by shreds of cocoanut fiber, blazed on a rock, with plantains heaped about it to roast.

While we rested after the feast Vanquished Often, squatted by my side, made for my comfort a wide-brimmed hat of thick leaves pinned together with thorns, a shelter from the sun's rays that was grateful to my tender scalp. Resuming our way, we met upon the trail a handsome small wild donkey, fearful of our kind, yet longing for company.

Pureekee!” said Exploding Eggs, meaning bourrique, the French for donkey. And Vanquished Often related that once hundreds of these beasts roamed through the jungle, descendants of a pair of asses escaped from a ship decades before, but that most of them had starved to death in dry periods, or been eaten by hungry natives.

Farther on we passed acres of the sensitive plant, called by the Marquesans teita hakaina, the Modest Herb. A wide glade in a curve of the mountains was filled with a sea of it, and my companions delighted in dashing through its curiously nervous leafage, that shuddered and folded its feathery sprays together at their touch. If shocked further it opened its leaflets as if to say, “What's the use? I'm shy, but I can't stay under cover forever.”

In such artless amusements the day passed, a day that remains forever an idyl of simple loveliness to me, such as any man is the richer for having known. When darkness overtook us, we made for ourselves the softest of ferny beds, and slept serenely, untroubled by anything, under the light of the stars.

As we returned next day to the village in the valley, we found upon a hill far from the beach the tombs of the sailors who first raised the standard of France in these islands. The eternal jungle had so housed in their monuments that we had hot work to break through the jealous lantana and pandanus to see the stones. Neither Vanquished Often nor Exploding Eggs had ever cast eyes on them, and neither had but a legendary memory of how these men of the conquering race had met their death.

A great slab of native basalt eroded by seventy years of sun and rain bore the barely discernible epitaph:

“Ci Git
 Edouard Michel Halley
  Capitaine de Corvette
   Officier de la Légion d'honneur
    Fondateur de la colonie de Vait-hua
     Mort au champ d'honneur
      Le 17 ——bre, 1842”

I read it to my friends. They pressed their hands to their brows to conjure up a vision of this dead man whom their grandfathers had fought and slain, as I told them the story of his death in the jungle at our feet.

It was at Vait-hua that the French first took possession of the Marquesas. Here already were missionaries and beach-combers of many nationalities, ardent spirits all, fighting each other for the souls of the natives; gin and the commandments at odds, ritual and exploitation contending. Unable to subdue the forces that threatened the peace of his people, Iotete, Vait-hua's chief, sent a message asking the help of the French admiral. It came at once; a garrison was established on the beach, and the tricolor rose.

Whatever the cause, it had been upraised barely two months when chief and people in a body deserted their homes and fled to the hills. Commander Halley, having vainly exhorted and commanded them to return, declared war on them in punishment for their disobedience, and marshaling his forces in three columns set out to seek them.

Ladebat led the van, armed with a fowling-piece. Halley himself walked at the head of the middle column, a youthful, debonair Frenchman, carrying only a cane, which he swung jauntily as he followed the jungle trail. When the soldiers arrived at a few feet from the main body of the natives, Iotete advanced and cried out, “Tapu!

Ladebat instantly fired his shot-gun at the chief, and instantly two balls from native guns pierced his brain.

“Halley,” runs the old chronicle, “advanced from the shelter of a cocoanut-tree to give orders to his men, but fell on his knees as if in prayer, embracing the tree, three paces from the corpse of Ladebat. Five of his men dropped mortally wounded beside him. Third Officer Laferriere had the retreat sounded.”

Here, but a few feet from the spot where the gay young Frenchman fell, the jungle had covered his tomb. Fifty thousand Marquesans have died to bring peace to the soul of that corvette commander who so jauntily flourished his cane in the faces of the wondering savages. Iotete would better have endured the pranks of brutal sea-adventurers, perhaps. This mausoleum was the seal of French occupancy.

Farther down the hill we came upon the first church built in the Marquesas. It was a small wooden edifice bearing a weatherbeaten sign in French, “The Church of the Mother of God.” Above the shattered doors were two carven hearts, a red dagger through one and a red flame issuing from the other. A black cross was fixed above these symbols, which Vanquished Often and Exploding Eggs regarded with respect. To the Marquesan these are all tiki, or charms, which have superseded their own.

Beside the decaying church stood a refectory far gone in ruin, that once had housed a dozen friars. Breadfruit-, mango- and orange-trees grew in the tangled tall grass, and the garden where the priests had read their breviaries was a wilderness of tiger-lilies. Among them we found empty bottles of a “Medical Discovery,” a patent medicine dispensed from Boston, favored in these islands where liquor is tabooed by government.

Seventh Man, coming up the trail to meet us, found us looking at them. He lifted one and sniffed it regretfully.

“Prenty strong,” he said. “Make drunkee. Call him Kennedee. He cost much. Drinkee two piece you sick three day.” He smiled reminiscently, and once more I thought of that day when the unfortunate gendarme had surprised the orgiasts in the forest and lost his nose. The chief accompanied us down the trail.

“My brother of grandfather have first gun in Marquesas,” he said with meaning when I spoke of the days of Halley. “One chief Iotete have prenty trouble Menike whaleman. He send for French admiral help him. Captiane Halley come with sailor. Frenchman he never go 'way.” Again his teeth gleamed in a smile. “My brother of grandfather have gun long time in hills,” he added cryptically.

Too soon the time came when I must return to my own paepae in Atuona. Vanquished Often wept at my decision, and Mrs. Seventh Man rubbed my nose long with hers as she entreated me to remain in the home she had given over to me. The chief, finding remonstrance useless, volunteered to accompany me on my return, and one midnight woke me to be ready when the wind was right.

We went down the trail through wind and darkness, the chief blowing a conch-shell for the crew. In the straw shanty where my hosts had spread their mats that I might have the full occupancy of their comfortable home, we found Mrs. Seventh Man making tea for me. Vanquished Often sat apart in the shadow, her face averted, but when my cocoanut-shell was filled with the streaming brew she sprang forward passionately and would let no hand but hers present it to me.

All day it had been raining, and the downpour rushed from the eaves with a melancholy sound as we sat in the lantern-lighted dimness drinking from the shells. The crew came in one by one, their naked bodies running water, their eyes eager for a draught of the tea, into which I put a little rum, the last of the two litres. Squall followed squall, shaking the hut. At half-past two, in a little lull which Neo guessed might last, we went out to the rain-soaked beach, launched the canoe, and paddled away.

My last sight of Vait-hua was the dim line of surf on the sand, and beyond it the slender figure of Vanquished Often holding aloft a lantern whose rays faintly illumined against the darkness her windblown white tunic and blurred face.

The storm had lured us by, a brief cessation. We had hardly left the beach before the heavens opened and deluged us with rain. Water sluiced our bare backs and ran in streams down the brawny arms bending to the oars. We paddled an hour before the wind was favorable, and a dreary hour it was. The canoe had an out-rigger, but was so narrow that none could sit except on the sharp side. I fell asleep even upon it, and woke in the sea, with the chief, who had flung himself to my rescue, clutching my hair.

Morning found our canoe close to the rocky coast of Hiva-oa. As is their custom, instead of making a beeline for our destination or sailing to it close-hauled as the winds permitted, the Marquesans had steered for the nearest shore, following along it to port. This method is attended with danger, for off the threatening cliffs a heavy sea was running, great waves dashing on the rocks, and we were perforce in the trough as we skirted the land.

Catholic Church at Atuona
Described by Stevenson in The South Seas

A native spearing fish from a rock

We quit the sail for oars, and it took every ounce of strength and skill on the part of the rowers and Seventh Man to avoid shipwreck. Each breaker as it passed tossed the frail craft skyward, and we fell into the abysses as a rock into a bottomless pit. Every instant it seemed that we must capsize. While we fought thus, in a frenzied effort to keep off the rocks, the sun rose, and every curl of water turned to clearest emerald, while the hollows of the leaping waves were purple as dark amethysts.

Suddenly, as we slid breathlessly downward, a great wall of water rose beside us, higher and higher until it seemed to touch the sky, clear and solid-looking as a sheet of green glass, a sight so stupendous that amazement took the place of fear. For an instant it remained poised above us, then crashed down with the shock of an earthquake.

Stunned, I emerged from a smother of water to find our canoe completely under the waves, kept afloat solely by grace of the outrigger. All hands were overside, clinging to the edge of the submerged craft, while Exploding Eggs and I bailed for our lives. Strong swimmers, they held us off-shore until we had so lowered the water that they could resume the oars.

For two hours we tossed about, while the chief held the steering-oar and his men paddled through a welter of jeweled color that threatened momentarily to toss us on the rocks. If we smashed on them we were dead men, for even had we been able to climb them the high tide would have drowned us against the wall of the cliffs. No man showed the slightest fear, though they pulled like giants and obeyed instantly each order of the chief.

Battling in this fashion, we rounded at last Point Teaehoa and won the protection of the Bay of Traitors. I, at least, felt immeasurable relief, that quickly turned to exhilaration as we hoisted sail and drove at a glorious speed straight through the breakers to the welcoming beach of Atuona.




The Marquesans at ten o'clock mass; a remarkable conversation about religions and Joan of Arc in which Great Fern gives his idea of the devil.

I was surprised to note that the few natives within view when we landed were dressed in the stiff and awkward clothes of the European; some fête must have been arranged during my absence, I thought. Then with a shock I realized that the day was Sunday. In the lovely, timeless valley of Vait-hua the calendar had dropped below the horizon of memory as my native land had dropped below the rim of the sea. Here in Atuona, whose life was colored by the presence of whites, the days must take up their constricted regular march again.

Already through the crystal air of a morning after rain the mission bells were ringing clear, and Chief Neo, forgetting the night of toil and danger past, was eager to accompany me to church. It would be an honor befitting his chiefly rank to sit with the distinguished white man in the house of worship, and I, remembering his perfect hospitality, was glad to do him honor in my own valley.

We hastened to my cabin, Exploding Eggs running before us up the trail with my luggage balanced on his shoulders. Cocoanuts and popoi, coffee and tinned biscuits, were waiting when we arrived. We ate hastily and then donned proper garments, Exploding Eggs rejoicing in a stiff collar and a worn sailor-hat once mine. They sat oddly upon him, being several sizes too large, but he bore himself with pride as we set out toward the church.

In the avenue of bananas leading to the mission I lingered to observe the beauty of the flakes upon the ground. They are the outside layers of the pendulum of that graceful plant, the purple flower-cone that hangs at the end of the fruit cluster with its volute and royal-hued stem. The banana-plants, which we call trees, lined the road and stood twenty feet high, their long slender leaves blowing in the light wind like banners from a castle wall.

The flakes that had dropped upon the ground were lovely. Large as a lady's veil, ribbed satin, rose and purple, pink and scarlet, the filmy edges curled delicately, they hinted the elegance and luxury of a pretty woman's boudoir. And, like all such dainty trifles, the charming flower that hangs like a colored lamp in the green chapel of the banana-grove it is useless after it has served its brief purpose. The fruit grows better when it is cut off.

Opposite the spacious mission grounds the worshippers were gathering beneath two gnarled banian-trees, giant-like in height and spread. Behind them a long hedge of bananas bordered the cocoanut plantation of the church, and across the narrow road rose the chapel, the priests' residence and the nuns' house, with several school buildings now empty because of the French anti-clerical law.

Exploding Eggs in his new finery and the visiting chief from Vait-hua found welcome among the waiting natives, while Titihuti of the tattooed legs took her seat beside me. She had combed her Titian tresses and anointed them with oil till they shone like the kelp beds of Monterey. Her tunic was of scarlet calico, and she carried in her hand a straw hat with a red ribbon, to put on when she entered the church. “Kaoha!” I said to her, and she smiled, displaying her even, white teeth.

Suddenly, looking past her at the church, my eye caught a sight that transfixed me. In the misty light I saw the Christ upon the cross as on Calvary. The sublime figure was in the agony of expiration, and at the foot of the cross stood the ever faithful mother and the loving John in attitudes of amazement and grief. The reality was startling; for the moment I forgot all about me.

But Titihuti coughed, and I saw her tattooed legs and felt the rough roots of the banian under me, and I was back in the courtyard. The spectacle of the Crucifixion was raised on a basalt platform fully twenty feet long. The figures were of golden bronze, and the cross was painted white. Over it hung the branches of a lofty breadfruit-tree, a congruous canopy for such a group. The Bread of Life, in truth.

A tablet on the cross bore the inscription:

Le Christ Dieu Homme
Christo Redemptori
Jubilé 1901

“The tiki of the true god,” said Titihuti, observing my gaze, and crossed herself with the fervor of the believer in a new charm.

On the roof a score of doves were cooing as we filed into the church. There were bas-reliefs of cherubim and seraphim over the doorway, fat, distorted bodies with wings a-wry, yet with a celestial vision showing through the crude workmanship. A loop-holed buttress on either side of the facade spoke of the days when the forethought of the builders planned for defence in case a reaction of paganism caused the congregation to attack the Christian fathers.

Inside the doorway a French nun in blue robes tugged at a rope depending from the belfry, and above us the bells rang out from two tiny towers. She looked curiously at me and my savage companion, her pale peasant's face hard, homely, unhealthy; then she kicked at a big dog who was trying to drink the holy water from the clam-shell beside the door. “Allez, Satan!” she said.

The benetier, large enough to immerse an infant, was fixed to a board, a fascinating, blackened old bracket, carved with the instruments of torture, the nails, the spear, the scourge, and thorns. Ivory and pearl, stained by a century or more, were inlaid. As I dipped my hand in the shell a huge lizard that made his nest in the hollow of the bracket ran across my knuckles.

Within, there were seats with kneeling-planks, hewed out of hard wood and still bearing the marks of the adze. Upon them the congregation soon assembled, the women on one side, the men on the other. The women wore hats, native weaves in semi-sailor style, decorated with Chinese silk shawls or bright-colored handkerchiefs. All were barefooted except the pale and sickly daughters of Baufré, who wore clumsy and painful shoes. Many Daughters, the little, lovely leper, came with Flower, of the red-gold hair, the Weaver of Mats, who had her names tattooed on her arm. They dipped in the font and genuflected, then bowed in prayer.

Many familiar faces I recognized. Ah Yu, the Chinaman who owned the little store beyond the banian-tree and had murder upon his soul; Lam Kai Oo, my erstwhile landlord; Flag, the gendarme; Water, in all the glory of European trousers; Kake, with my small namesake on her arm. The old women were tattooed on the ears and neck in scrolls, and their lips were marked in faint stripes. The old men, their eyes ringed with tattooing, wore earrings and necklaces of whale's teeth.

The church was painted white inside, with frescoes and dados of gaudy hues, and windows of brilliantly colored glass. The altar, as also the statues of Joseph and Mary, had a reredos handsomely carved. Outside the railing was a charming Child in the Manger, lying on real straw, surrounded by the Virgin, Joseph, the Magi, the shepherds, and the kings, all in bright-hued robes, and pleasant-looking cows and asses with red eyes and green tails.

The singing began before the priest came from the sacristy. The men sang alone and the women followed, in an alternating chant that at times rose into a wail and again had the nasal sound of a bag-pipe. The Catholic chants sung thus in Marquesan took on a wild, barbaric rhythm that thrilled the blood and made the hair tingle on the scalp.

Bishop David le Cadre appeared in elegant vestments, his eyes grave above a foot-long beard, and the mass began. The acolyte was very agile in a short red cassock, below which his naked legs, and bare feet showed. The people responded often through the mass, rising, sitting down, and kneeling obediently. Baufré sat on a chair in the vestibule and added accounts.

Ah Kee Au was the sole communicant at the rail. No cloth was spread, but the bell announced the mystery of transubstantiation, and all bowed their heads while Ah Kee Au reverently offered his communion to the welfare of Napoleon, his grandson who had accidentally shot himself.

The service over, the people poured from the church into the brilliant sunshine of the road, and Ah Kee Au said to me, “You savee thlat communio' blead b'long my place. My son makee for pliest.” Lam Kai Oo, pressing forward, offered the communicant a draught of fiery rum he had obtained by the governor's permission. He had been told that to give a glass of water to a communicant, who must of course have fasted and abstained from any liquid since midnight according to the law of the Church, was a holy act which brought the giver a blessing, and so the subtle Chinese thought to make his blessing greater by offering a drink better than water.

Ah Kee Au drank with fervor. “My makee holee thliss morn',” he said gladly. “Makee Napoleon more happy.” Sincerity is not a matter of broken English or a drink of rum; the poor old grandfather of the Little Corporal's namesake believed earnestly that Napoleon would improve by his sacramental offering. He, like most Marquesans, took the white man's religion with little understanding. It is new magic to them, a comfort, an occupation, and an entertainment. But who knows the human heart, or understands the soul?

That afternoon while Neo and I lay on my paepae awaiting the favoring wind which should carry him back to his own isle, my neighbors gathered from far and near to lounge the sunny hours away in conversation. Squatted on the mats, they engaged in serious discussion of the puzzles of religion, appealing to me often to settle vexing questions which they had long wearied of asking their better-informed instructors in religious mysteries.

Their native tongue has no word for religion. Bishop Dordillon had been obliged to translate it, “Te mea e hakatika me te mea e hana mea koaha toitoi i te Etua” which might be rendered, “Belief in the works and love of a just God.” Etua, often spelled Atua, was the name of divinity among all Maori peoples, but religion was so associated with natural things, the phenomena of nature, of living things, and of the heavens and sea, that it was part of daily life and needed no word to distinguish it.

Never were people less able to comprehend the creeds and formulas in which the religious beliefs of the white men are clothed. Marquesans are not deep thinkers. In fact, they have a word, tahoa, which means, “a headache from thinking.” Ten years of ardent and nobly self-sacrificing work by missionaries left the islands still without a single soul converted. It was not until the chiefs began to set the seal of their approval on the new outlandish faiths that the people flocked to the standard of the cross. And when they did begin to meditate the doctrines preached to them as necessary beliefs in order to win salvation, their heads ached indeed.

Even after years of faithful church-going many of my friends still struggled with their doubts, and when these were propounded to me I was fain to wrinkle my own brow and ponder deeply.

The burning question as to the color of Adam and Eve had long been settled. Adam and Eve were brown, like themselves. But if, as the priests said was most probable, Adam and Eve had received pardon and were in heaven, why had their guilt stained all mankind?

Also, would Satan have been able to tempt Eve if God had not made the tree of knowledge tapu? Was not knowledge a good thing? What motive had led the Maker and Knower of all things to do this deed?

What made the angels fall? Pride, said the priests. Then how did it get into heaven? demanded the perplexed.

The resurrection of the body at the last judgment horrified them. This fact, said the husband of Kake, had led to the abandonment of the old manner of burying corpses in a sitting posture, with the face between the knees and the hands under the thighs, the whole bound round with cords. Obviously, a man buried in such a position would rise deformed. Their dead in the cemetery on the heights slept now in long coffins of wood, their limbs at ease. But other and less premeditated interments still befell the unwary islander.

What would God do in cases where sharks had eaten a Marquesan? And what, when the same shark had been killed and eaten by other Marquesans? And in the case of the early Christian forefathers, who were eaten by men of other tribes, and afterward the cannibals eaten in retaliation, and then the last feaster eaten by sharks? Aue! There was a headache query!

At this point in the discussion an aged stranger from the valley of Taaoa, a withered man whose whole naked chest was covered with intricate tattooing, laid down his pipe and artlessly revealed his idea of the communion service. It was, he thought, a religious cannibalism, no more. And he was puzzled that his people should be told that it was wrong to feed on the flesh of a fellow human creature when they were urged to “eat the body and drink the blood” of Ietu Kirito himself.

It was long afterward, in that far-away America so incomprehensible to my simple savage friends, that I read beneath the light of an electric lamp a paragraph in “Folkways,” by William Graham Summer, of Yale:

“Language used in communion about eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ refers to nothing in our mores and appeals to nothing in our experience. It comes down from very remote ages; very probably from cannibalism.”

The printed page vanished, and before my eyes rose a vision of my paepae among the breadfruit- and cocoanut-trees, the ring of squatting dusky figures in flickering sunlit leaf-shade, Kake in her red tunic with the babe at her breast, Exploding Eggs standing by with a half-eaten cocoanut, and the many dark eyes in their circles of ink fixed upon the shriveled face of the reformed cannibal whose head ached with the mysteries of the white man's religion.

None too soon for me, the talk turned about history, the tales of which were confused in my guests' minds with those of the saints. Great Fern insisted that if the English roasted Joan of Arc they ate her, because no man would apply live coals, which pain exceedingly, to any living person, and fire was never placed upon a human body save to cook it for consumption. This theory seemed reasonable to most of the listeners, for since such cruelty as the Marquesans practiced in their native state was thoughtless and never intentional, the idea of torture was incomprehensible to their simple minds.

Malicious Gossip, a comely savage of twenty-five with false-coffee leaves in her hair, declared, however, that the governor had told her the English roasted Joan alive because she was a heretic. The statement was received with startled protests by those present who had themselves incurred that charge when they deserted Catholicism for Protestantism some time earlier.

“Exploding Eggs,” said I hastily, “make tea for all.” Every shade vanished from shining eyes when I produced the bottle of rum and added a spoonful of flavor to each brimming shellful. All perplexing questions were forgotten, and simple social pleasure reigned again on my paepae, while Great Fern explained to all his idea of the Christian devil.

The Marquesan deity of darkness was Po, a vague and elemental spirit. But the kuhane anera maaa of the new religion had definite and fearful attributes explained by the priests. So Great Fern conceived him as a kind of cross between a man and a boar, with a tail like that of a shark, running through the forests with a bunch of lighted candlenuts and setting fire to the houses of the wicked.

And the wicked? Morals as we know them had nothing to do with their sin in his mind. The wicked were the unkind, those who were cruel to children, wives who made bad popoi, and whites with rum privileges who forgot hospitality.

Non-Christians may grin at the efforts of missionaries among heathens. But the missionaries are the only influence for good in the islands, the only white men seeking to mitigate the misery and ruin brought by the white man's system of trade. The extension of civilized commerce has crushed every natural impulse of brotherliness, kindness, and generosity, destroyed every good and clean custom of these children of nature. Traders and sailors, whalers and soldiers, have been their enemies.

Whatever the errors of the men of God, they have given their lives day by day in unremitting, self-sacrificing toil, suffering much to share with these despoiled people the light of their own faith in a better world hereafter. In so far as they have failed, they have failed because they have lacked what proselytizing religion has always lacked—a joy in life that seeks to make this mundane existence more endurable, a grace of humor, and a broad simplicity.

Polynesians have always been respecters of authority. Under their own rule, where priest and king equally rose to rank because of admired deeds, the tapus of the priests had the same force as those of chiefs, and life was conducted by few and simple rules. Now, when sect fights sect; when priests assure the people that France is a Catholic nation and the Governor says the statement is false; where the Protestant pastor teaches that Sunday is a day of solemnity and prayer, and the Frenchmen make it a day of merriment as in France; where salvation depends on many beliefs bewildering and incompatible, the puzzled Marquesan scratches his head and swings from creed to creed, while his secret heart clings to the old gods.

The Marquesan had a joyful religion, full of humor and abandon, dances and chants, and exaltation of nature, of the greatness of their tribe or race, a worship that was, despite its ghastly rites of human sacrifice, a stimulus to life.

The efforts of missionaries have killed the joy of living as they have crushed out the old barbarities, uprooting together everything, good and bad, that religion meant to the native. They have given him instead rites that mystify him, dogmas he can only dimly understand, and a little comfort in the miseries brought upon him by trade.

I have seen a leper alone on his paepae, deep in the Scriptures, and when I asked him if he got comfort from them I was answered, “They are strong words for a weak man, and better than pig.” But only a St. Francis Xavier or a Livingstone, a great moral force, could lift the people now from the slough of despond in which they expire.

Upon this people, sparkingly alive, spirited as wild horses, not depressed as were their conquerors by a heritage of thousands of years of metes and bounds, religion as forced upon them has been not only a narcotic, but a death potion.




The marriage of Malicious Gossip; matrimonial customs of the simple natives; the domestic difficulties of Haabuani.

Mouth of God and his wife, Malicious Gossip, soon became intimates of my paepae. Coming first to see the marvelous Golden Bed and to listen to the click-click of the Iron Fingers That Make Words, they remained to talk, and I found them both charming.

Both were in their early twenties, ingenuous, generous, clever, and devoted to each other and to their friends. Malicious Gossip was beautiful, with soft dark eyes, clear-cut features, and a grace and lovely line of figure that in New York would make all heads whirl. She was all Marquesan, but her husband, Mouth of God, had white blood in him. Whose it was, he did not know, for his mother's consort had been an islander. His mother, a large, stern, and Calvinistic cannibal, believed in predestination, and spent her days in fear that she would be among the lost. Her Bible was ever near, and often, passing their house, I saw her climb with it into a breadfruit-tree and read a chapter in the high branches where she could avoid distraction.

They lived in a spacious house set in three acres of breadfruit and cocoanuts, an ancient grove long in their family. Often I squatted on their mats, dipping a gingerly finger in their popoi bowl and drinking the sweet wine of the half-ripe cocoanut, the while Mouth of God's mother spoke long and earnestly on the abode of the damned and the necessity for seeking salvation. In return, Malicious Gossip spent hours on my paepae telling me of the customs of her people new and old.

“When I was thirteen,” she said, “the whalers still came to Vait-hua, my valley. There came a young Menike man, straight and bright-eyed, a passenger on a whaling-ship seeking adventure. I sighed the first time in my life when I looked on him. He was handsome, and not like other men on your ships.

“The kiss you white men give he taught me to like. He was generous and gentle and good. Months we dwelt together in a house by the stream in the valley. When he sailed away at last, as all white men do who are worth wanting to stay, he tore out my heart. My milk turned to poison and killed our little child.

“I met long after with Mouth of God. He took me to his house in the breadfruit-grove. He was good and gentle, but I was long in learning to love him. It was the governor who made me know that I was his woman. It came about in this manner:

“That governor was one whom all hated for his coldness and cruelty. Mouth of God worked for him in the house where medicines are made, having learned to mix the medicines in a bowl and to wrap cloths about the wounds of those who were sick. One day, according to the custom of white men who rule, the governor said to Mouth of God that he must send me to the palace that night.

“When he came home to the house where we lived together, Mouth of God gave me his word. He said: ‘Go to the river and bathe. Put on your crimson tunic and flowers in your hair and go to the palace. The governor gives a feast to-night, and you are to dance and to sleep in the governor's bed.’”

Malicious Gossip shuddered, and rocked herself to and fro upon the mats. “Then I would have killed him! I cried out to him and said: ‘I will not go to the governor! He is a devil. My heart hates him. I am a Marquesan. What have I to do with a man I hate?’”

“‘Go!’ said Mouth of God, and his eyes were hard as the black stones of the High Place. ‘The governor asks for you. He is the government. Since when have Marquesan women said no to the command of the adminstrateur?’

“I wept, but I took my brightest kahu ropa from the sandalwood chest my Menike man had given me, and I went down the path to the stream. As I went I wept, but my heart was black, and I thought to take a keen-edged knife beneath my tunic when I went to the palace. But my feet were not yet wet in the edge of the water when Mouth of God called to me.

“‘Do not go,’ he said.

“I answered: ‘I will go. You told me to go. I am on my way.’ My tears were salt in my mouth.

“‘No!’ said Mouth of God. He ran, and he came to me in the pool where I had flung myself. There in the water he held me, and his arms crushed the breath from my ribs. ‘You will not go!’ he said. ‘I spoke those words to know if you would go to the governor. If you had gone quickly, if you had not wept, I would kill you. You are my woman. No other shall have you.’

“Then I knew that I was his woman, and I forgot my Menike lover.

“You see,” she said to me after a pause, “I would have gone to the palace. But I would never have come back to the house of Mouth of God. That was the beginning of our love. He would yield me to nobody. He told the governor that I would not come, and he waited to kill the governor if he must. But the governor laughed, and said there were many others. Mouth of God and I were married then by Monsieur Vernier, in the church of his mother.

“That was the manner of my marriage. The same as that of the girls in your own island, is it not?”

It was much the same, I said. It differed only in some slight matters of custom. She listened fascinated while I described to her our complicated conventions of courtship, our calling upon young ladies for months and even years, our gifts, our entertainments, our giving of rings, our setting of the marriage months far in the future, our orange wreaths and veils and bridesmaids. She found these things almost incredible.

“Marriage here,” she said, “may come to a young man when he does not seek or even expect it. No Marquesan can marry without the consent of his mother, and often she marries him to a girl without his even thinking of such a thing.

“A young man may bring home a girl he does not know, perhaps a girl he has seen on the beach in the moonlight, to stay with him that night in his mother's house. It may be that her beauty and charm will so please his mother that she will call a family council after the two have gone to bed. If the family thinks as the mother does, they determine to marry the young man to that girl, and they do so after this fashion:

“Early in the morning, just at dawn, before the young couple awake, all the women of the household arouse them with shrieks. They beat their breasts, cut themselves with shells, crying loudly, Aue! Aue! Neighbors rush in to see who has died. The youth and the girl run forth in terror. Then the mother, the grandmother and all other women of the house chant the praises of the girl, singing her beauty, and wailing that they cannot let her go. They demand with anger that the son shall not let her go. All the neighbors cry with them, Aue! Aue! and beat their breasts, until the son, covered with shame, asks the girl to stay.

“Then her parents are sent the word, and if they do not object, the girl remains in his house. That is often the manner of Marquesan marriage.”

Yet often, of course, she explained, marriage was not the outcome of a night's wooing. The young Marquesan frequently brought home a girl who did not instantly win his mother's affection. In that case she went her way next morning after breakfast, and that was all. Our regard for chastity was incomprehensible to Malicious Gossip, instructed though she was in all the codes of the church. It was to her a creed preached to others by the whites, like wearing shoes or making the Sabbath a day of gloom, and though she had been told that violation of this code meant roasting forever as in a cannibal pit whose fires were never extinguished, her mind could perceive no reason for it. She could attach no blame to an act that seemed to her an innocent, natural, and harmless amusement.

The truth is that no value was, or is, attached to maidenhood in all Polynesia, the young woman being left to her own whims without blame or care. Only deep and sincere attachment holds her at last to the man she has chosen, and she then follows his wishes in matters of fidelity, though still to a large extent remaining mistress of herself.

The Marquesan woman, however, often denies her husband the freedom she herself openly enjoys. This custom persists as a striking survival of polyandry, in which fidelity under pain of dismissal from the roof-tree was imposed by the wife on all who shared her affections.

This was exactly the status of a household not far from my cabin. Haabuani, master of ceremonies at the dances, the best carver and drum-beater of all Atuona, who was of pure Marquesan blood, but spoke French fluently and earnestly defended the doctrine of the Pope's infallibility,—even coming to actual blows with a defiant Protestant upon my very paepae—explained his attitude.

“If I have a friend and he temporarily desires my wife, Toho, I am glad if she is willing. But my enemy shall not have that privilege with my consent. I would be glad to have you look upon her with favor. You are kind to me. You have treated me as a chief and you have bought my kava bowl. But, écoutez, Monsieur, Toho does what she pleases, yet if I toss but a pebble in another pool she is furious. See, I have the bruises still of her beating.”

With a tearful whine he showed the black-and-blue imprints of Toho's anger, and made it known to us that the three piastres he had of me for the kava bowl had been traced by his wife to the till of Le Brunnec's store, where Flower, the daughter of Lam Kai Oo, had spent them for ribbons. Toho in her fury had beaten him so that for a day and a night he lay groaning upon the mats.

“That is as it should be,” said Malicious Gossip, sternly, while her curving lips set in straight lines. Sex morality means conformity to sex tapus, the world over.

Free polyandry still exists in many countries I have seen, and in others its dying out leaves these fragmentary survivals. I have visited the tribe of Subanos, in the west and north of the island of Mindanao in the Philippine archipelago, where the rich men are polygamists, and the poor still submit to polyandry. Economic conditions there bring about the same relations, under a different guise, as in Europe or America, where wealthy rakes keep up several establishments, and many wage-earners support but one prostitute.

Polyandry is found almost exclusively in poor countries, where there is always a scarcity of females. Thus we have polyandry founded on a surplus of males caused by poverty of sustenance. The female is, in fact, supposed to be the result of a surplus of nutrition; more boys than girls are born in the country districts because the city diet is richer, especially in meat and sugar. It is notable that the families of the pioneers of western America bore a surprising majority of males.

In the Marquesas, where living was always difficult and the diet poor, there were always more men than women despite the frequent wars in which men were victims. Another reason was that male children were saved often when females were killed in the practice of infanticide, also forced by famine. The overplus of men made them amenable to the commands of the women, who often dominated in permanent alliances, demanding lavishment of wealth and attention from their husbands.

Yet—and this is a most significant fact—the father-right in the child remained the basis of the social system.

Throughout all Australia, Melanesia, and Papuasis on the east, and America on the west, the mother-right prevailed among primitive peoples. Children followed the mother, took their name from her, and inherited property through her. I have known a Hawaiian nobleman who, commenting on this fact, said that the system had merit in that no child could be called a bastard, and that the woman, who suffered most, was rewarded by pride of posterity. He himself, he said, was the son of a chieftess, but his father, a king, was the son of a negro cobbler.

The father-right, so familiar to our minds that it seems to-day almost the only natural or existing social system, was in fact developed very lately among all races except the Caucasian and some tribes of the Mongols. Yet in the Marquesas, these islands cut off from all other peoples through ages of history, the father-right prevailed in spite of all the difficulties that attended its survival in polyandry.

Each woman had many husbands, whom she ruled. The true paternity of her children it was impossible to ascertain. Yet so tenaciously did the Marquesans cling to the father-right in the child, that even this fact could not break it down. One husband was legally the father of all her children, ostensibly at least the owner of the household and of such small personal property as belonged to it under communism. The man remained, though in name only, the head of the polyandrous family.

I seemed to see in this curious fact another proof of the ancient kinship between the first men of my own race and the prehistoric grandfathers of Malicious Gossip and Haabunai. My savage friends, with their clear features, their large straight eyes and olive skins, showed still the traces of their Caucasian blood. Their forefathers and mine may have hunted the great winged lizards together through primeval wildernesses, until, driven by who knows what urge of wanderlust or necessity, certain tribes set out in that drive through Europe and Asia toward America that ended at last, when a continent sunk beneath their feet, on these islands in the southern seas.

It was a far flight for fancy to take, from my paepae in the jungle at the foot of Temetiu, but looking at the beauty and grace of Malicious Gossip as she sat on my mats in her crimson pareu, I liked to think that it was so.

“We are cousins,” I said to her, handing her a freshly-opened cocoanut which Exploding Eggs brought.

“You are a great chief, but we love you as a blood-brother,” she answered gravely, and lifted the shell bowl to her lips.




Filling the popoi pits in the season of the breadfruit; legend of the mei; the secret festival in a hidden valley.

On the road to the beach one morning I came upon Great Fern, my landlord. Garbed in brilliant yellow pareu, he bore on his shoulders an immense kooka, or basket of cocoanut fiber, filled with quite two hundred pounds of breadfruit. The superb muscles stood out on his perfect body, wet with perspiration as though he had come from the river.

“Kaoha, Great Fern!” I said. “Where do you go with the mei?”

“It is Meinui, the season of the breadfruit,” he replied. “We fill the popoi pit beside my house.”

There is a word on the Marquesan tongue vividly picturing the terrors of famine. It means, “one who is burned to drive away a drought.” In these islands cut off from the world the very life of the people depends on the grace of rain. Though the skies had been kind for several years, not a day passing without a gentle downpour, there had been in the past dry periods when even the hardiest vegetation all but perished. So it came about that the Marquesan was obliged to improvise a method of keeping breadfruit for a long time, and becoming habituated to sour food he learned to like it, as many Americans relish ill-smelling cheese and fish and meat, or drink with pleasure absinthe, bitters, and other gagging beverages.

In this season of plenteous breadfruit, therefore, Great Fern had opened his popoi pit, and was replenishing its supply. A half-dozen who ate from it were helping him. Only the enthusiasm of the traveler for a strange sight held me within radius of its odor.

It was sunk in the earth, four feet deep and perhaps five in diameter, and was only a dozen years old, which made it a comparatively small and recently acquired household possession in the eyes of my savage friends. Mouth of God and Malicious Gossip owned a popoi pit dug by his grandfather, who was eaten by the men of Taaoa, and near the house of Vaikehu, a descendant of the only Marquesan queen, there was a uuama tehito, or ancient hole, the origin of which was lost in the dimness of centuries. It was fifty feet long and said to be even deeper, though no living Marquesan had ever tasted its stores, or never would unless dire famine compelled. It was tapu to the memory of the dead.

All over the valley the filling of the pits for reserve against need was in progress. Up and down the trails the men were hastening, bearing the kookas filled with the ripe fruit, large as Edam cheeses and pitted on the surface like a golf-ball. A breadfruit weighs from two to eight pounds, and giants like Great Fern or Haabuani carried in the kookas two or three hundred pounds for miles on the steep and rocky trails.

In the banana-groves or among thickets of ti the women were gathering leaves for lining and covering the pits, while around the center of interest naked children ran about, hindering and thinking they were helping, after the manner of children in all lands when future feasts are in preparation.

There was a time when each grove of breadfruit had its owners, who guarded it for their own use, and even each tree had its allotted proprietor, or perhaps several. Density of population everywhere causes each mouthful of food to be counted. I have known in Ceylon an English judge who was called upon to decide the legal ownership of one 2520th part of ten cocoanut-trees. But my friends who were filling the popoi pits now might gather from any tree they pleased. There was plenty of breadfruit now that there were few people.

Great Fern was culling from a grove on the mountain-side above my house. Taking his stand beneath one of the stately trees whose freakish branches and large, glossy, dark-green leaves spread perhaps ninety feet above his head, he reached the nearer boughs with an omei, a very long stick with a forked end to which was attached a small net of cocoanut fiber. Deftly twisting a fruit from its stem by a dexterous jerk of the cleft tip, he caught it in the net, and lowered it to the kooka on the ground by his side.

When the best of the fruit within reach was gathered, he climbed the tree, carrying the omei. Each brown toe clasped the boughs like a finger, nimble and independent of its fellows through long use in grasping limbs and rocks. This is remarkable of the Marquesans; each toe in the old and industrious is often separated a half inch from the others, and I have seen the big toe opposed from the other four like a thumb. My neighbors picked up small things easily with their toes, and bent them back out of sight, like a fist, when squatting.

Gripping a branch firmly with these hand-like feet, Great Fern wielded the omei, bringing down other breadfruit one by one, taking great care not to bruise them. The cocoanut one may throw eighty feet, with a twisting motion that lands it upon one end so that it does not break. But the mei is delicate, and spoils if roughly handled.

Working in this fashion, Great Fern and his neighbors carried down to the popoi pit perhaps four hundred breadfruit daily, piling them there to be prepared by the women. Apporo and her companions busied themselves in piercing each fruit with a sharp stick and spreading them on the ground to ferment over night.

In the morning, squatted on their haunches and chanting as they worked, the women scraped the rind from the fermented mei with cowry shells, and grated the fruit into the pit which they had lined with banana leaves. From time to time they stood in the pit and tramped down the mass of pulp, or thumped it with wooden clubs.

For two weeks or more the work continued. In the ancient days much ceremoniousness attended this provision against future famine, but to-day in Atuona only one rule was observed, that forbidding sexual intercourse by those engaged in filling the pits.

“To break that tapu,” said Great Fern, “would mean sickness and disaster. Any one who ate such popoi would vomit. The forbidden food cannot be retained by the stomach.”

To vomit during the fortnight occupied in the task of conserving the breadfruit brought grave suspicion that the unfortunate had broken the tapu. When their own savage laws governed them, that unhappy person often died from fear of discovery and the wrath of the gods. To guard against such a fate those who were not strong and well took no part in the task.

This curious connection between sex and the preparation of food applied in many other cases. A woman making oil from dried cocoanuts was tapu as to sexual relations for four or five days, and believed that if did she sin, her labor would produce no oil. A man cooking in an oven at night obeyed the same tapu. I do not know, and was unable to discover, the origin of these prohibitions. Like many of our own customs, it has been lost in the mist of ages.

A Tahitian legend of the origin of the breadfruit recounts that in ancient times the people subsisted on araea, red earth. A couple had a sickly son, their only child, who day by day slowly grew weaker on the diet of earth, until the father begged the gods to accept him as an offering and let him become food for the boy. From the darkness of the temple the gods at last spoke to him, granting his prayer. He returned to his wife and prepared for death, instructing her to bury his head, heart and stomach at different spots in the forest.

“When you shall hear in the night a sound like that of a leaf, then of a flower, afterward of an unripe fruit, and then of a ripe, round fruit falling on the ground, know that it is I who am become food for our son,” he said, and died.

She obeyed him, and on the second night she heard the sounds. In the morning she and her son found a huge and wonderful tree where the stomach had been buried. The Tahitians believe that the cocoanut, chestnut, and yam miraculously grew from other parts of a man's corpse.

Breadfruit, according to Percy Smith, was brought into these islands from Java by the ancestors of the Polynesians, who left India several centuries before Christ. They had come to Indonesia rice-eaters, but there found the breadfruit, “which they took with them in their great migration into these Pacific islands two centuries and more after the beginning of this era.”

Smith finds in the Tahitian legend proof of this contention. In the Polynesian language araea, the “red earth” of the tale, is the same as vari, and in Indonesia there were the words fare or pare, in Malay padi or peri, and in Malagasy vari, all meaning rice. A Rarotongan legend relates that in Hawaiki two new fruits were found, and the vari discarded. These fruits were the breadfruit and the horse-chestnut, neither of which is a native of Polynesia.

I related these stories of the mei to Great Fern, who replied: “Aue! It may be. The old gods were great, and all the world is a wonder. As for me, I am a Christian. The breadfruit ripens, and I fill the popoi pit.”

Great Fern was my friend, and, as he said, a Christian, yet I fear that he did not tell me all he knew of the ancient customs. There was an innocence too innocent in his manner when he spoke of them, like that of a child who would like one to believe that the cat ate the jam. And on the night when the popoi pits were filled, pressed down and running over, when they had been covered with banana leaves and weighed with heavy stones, and the season's task was finished, something occurred that filled my mind with many vague surmises.

I had been awakened at midnight by the crashing fall of a cocoanut on the iron roof above my head. Often during the rainy nights I was startled by this sound of the incessantly falling nuts, that banged and rattled like round shot over my head. But on this night, as I composed myself to slumber again, my drowsy ears were uneasy with another thing, less a sound than an almost noiseless, thrumming vibration, faint, but disturbing.

I sat up in my Golden Bed, and listened. Exploding Eggs was gone from his mat. The little house was silent and empty. Straining my ears I heard it unmistakably through the rustling noises of the forest and the dripping of rain from the eaves. It was the far, dim, almost inaudible beating of a drum.

Old tales stirred my hair as I stood on my paepae listening to it. At times I thought it a fancy, again I heard it and knew that I heard it. At last, wrapping a pareu about me, I went down my trail to the valley road. The sound was drowned here by the splashing chuckle of the stream, but as I stood undecided in the pool of darkness beneath a dripping banana I saw a dark figure slip silently past me, going up toward the High Place. It was followed by another, moving through the night like a denser shadow. I went back to my cabin, scouted my urgent desire to shut and barricade the door, and went to bed. After a long time I slept.

When I awoke next morning Exploding Eggs was preparing my breakfast as usual, the sunlight streamed over breadfruit and palm, and the night seemed a dream. But there were rumors in the village of a strange dance held by the inhabitants of Nuka-hiva, on another island, in celebration of the harvest of the mei. Weird observances were hinted, rites participated in only by men who danced stark naked, praising the old gods.

This was a custom of the old days, said Great Fern, with those too-innocent eyes opened artlessly upon me. It has ever been the ceremony of Thanks-giving to the ancient gods, for a bountiful harvest, a propitiation, and a begging of their continued favor. As for him, he was a Christian. Such rites were held no more in Atuona.

I asked no more questions. Thanks-giving to an omnipotent ruler for the fruits of the harvest season is almost universal. We have put in a proclamation and in church services and the slaughter of turkeys what these children do in dancing, as did Saul of old.

The season's task completed, Great Fern and Apporo sat back well content, having provided excellently for the future. Certain of their neighbors, however, filled with ambition and spurred on by the fact that there was plenty of mei for all with no suspicion of greediness incurred by excessive possessions, continued to work until they had filled three pits. These men were regarded with admiration and some envy, having gained great honor. “He has three popoi pits,” they said, as we would speak of a man who owned a superb jewel or a Velasquez.

A volunteer cocoanut grove, with trees of all ages

Climbing for cocoanuts

The grated breadfruit in the holes was called ma, and bore the same relation to popoi as dough bears to bread. When the ma was sufficiently soured Apporo opened the pit each morning and took out enough for the day's provision, replacing the stones on the banana leaves afterward. The intrusion of insects and lizards was not considered to injure the flavor.

I often sat on her paepae and watched her prepare the day's dinner. Putting the rancid mass of ma into a long wooden trough hollowed out from a tree-trunk, she added water and mixed it into a paste of the consistency of custard. This paste she wrapped in purua leaves and set to bake in a native oven of rocks that stood near the pit.

Apporo smoked cigarettes while it baked, perhaps to measure the time. Marquesans mark off the minutes by cigarettes, saying, “I will do so-and-so in three cigarettes,” or, “It is two cigarettes from my house to his.”

When the cigarettes were consumed, or when her housewifely instinct told Apporo that the dish was properly cooked, back it went into the trough again, and was mashed with the keatukipopoi, the Phallic pounder of stone known to all primitive peoples. A pahake, or wooden bowl about eighteen inches in diameter, received it next, and the last step of the process followed.

Taking a fistful of the mass, Apporo placed it in another pahake, and kneaded it for a long time with her fingers, using oil from crushed cocoanuts as a lubricant. And at last, proudly smiling, she set before me a dish of popoi kaoi, the very best popoi that can possibly be made.

It is a dish to set before a sorcerer. I would as lief eat bill-poster's paste a year old. It tastes like a sour, acid custard. Yet white men learn to eat it, even to yearn for it. Captain Capriata, of the schooner Roberta, which occasionally made port in Atuona Bay, could digest little else. Give him a bowl of popoi and a stewed or roasted cat, and his Corsican heart warmed to the giver.

As bread or meat are to us, so was popoi to my tawny friends. They ate it every day, sometimes three or four times a day, and consumed enormous quantities at a squatting. As the peasant of certain districts of Europe depends on black bread and cheese, the poor Irish on potatoes or stirabout, the Scotch on oatmeal, so the Marquesan satisfies himself with popoi, and likes it really better than anything else.

Many times, when unable to evade the hospitality of my neighbors, I squatted with them about the brimming pahake set on their paepae, and dipped a finger with them, though they marveled at my lack of appetite. In the silence considered proper to the serious business of eating, each dipped index and second finger into the bowl, and neatly conveyed a portion of the sticky mass to his mouth, returning the fingers to the bowl cleansed of the last particle. Little children, beginning to eat popoi ere they were fairly weaned, put their whole hands into the dish, and often the lean and mangy curs that dragged out a wretched dog's existence about the paepaes were not deprived of their turn.

If one accept the germ theory, one may find in the popoi bowl a cause for the rapid spread of epidemics since the whites brought disease to the islands.




A walk in the jungle; the old woman in the breadfruit tree; a night in a native hut on the mountain.

Atuona Valley was dozing, as was its wont in the afternoons, when the governor, accompanied by the guardian of the palace, each carrying a shot-gun, invited me to go up the mountain to shoot kukus for dinner. The kuku is a small green turtle-dove, very common in the islands, and called also u'u and kukupa. Under any of these names the green-feathered morsel is excellent eating when broiled or fried.

I did not take a gun, as, unless hunger demands it, I do not like to kill. We started out together, climbing the trail in single file, but the enthusiasm of the chase soon led my companions into the deeper brush where the little doves lured them, and only the sharp crack of an occasional shot wakening the echoes of the cliffs disturbed my solitude.

The dark stillness of the deep valley, where the shadows of the mountains fell upon groves of cocoanuts and miles of tangled bush, recalled to me a cañon in New York City, in the center of the world of finance, gloomy even at noon, the sky-touching buildings darkening the street and the spirits of the dwellers like mountains. There, when at an unsual moment I had come from the artificially-lighted cage of a thousand slaves to money-getting, and found the street for a second deserted, no figure of animal or human in its sombre sweep, I had the same sensation of solitude and awe as in this jungle. Suddenly a multitude of people had debouched from many points, and shattered the impression.

But here, in Atuona Valley, the hoot of the owl, the kouku, which in Malay is the ghost-bird, the burong-hantu, seemed to deepen the silence. Does not that word hantu, meaning in Malay an evil spirit, have some obscure connection with our American negro “hant,” a goblin or ghost? Certainly the bird's long and dismal “Hoo-oo-oo” wailing through the shuddering forest evoked dim and chilling memories of tales told by candlelight when I was a child in Maryland.

Here on the lower levels I was still among the cocoanut-groves. The trail passed through acres of them, their tall gray columns rising like cathedral arches eighty feet above a green mat of creeping vines. Again it dipped into the woods, where one or two palms struggled upward from a clutching jungle. Everywhere I saw the nuts tied by their natural stems in clumps of forty or fifty and fastened to limbs which had been cut and lashed between trees. These had been gathered by climbers and left thus to be collected for drying into copra.

Constantly the ripe nuts not yet gathered fell about me. These heavy missiles, many six or seven pounds in weight, fell from heights of fifty to one hundred feet and struck the earth with a dull sound. The roads and trails were littered with them. They fall every hour of the day in the tropics, yet I have never seen any one hurt by them. Narrow escapes I had myself, and I have heard of one or two who were severely injured or even killed by them, but the accidents are entirely out of proportion to the shots fired by the trees. One becomes an expert at dodging, and an instinct draws one's eyes to the branch about to shed a mei, or the palm intending to launch a cocoanut.

As I made my way up the trail, pausing now and then to look about me, I came upon an old woman leaning feebly on a tall staff. Although it was the hour of afternoon sleep, she was abroad for some reason, and I stopped to say “Kaoha,” to her. A figure of wretchedness she was, bent almost double, her withered, decrepit limbs clad in a ragged pareu and her lean arms clutching the stick that bore her weight. She was so aged that she appeared unable to hear my greeting, and replied only mutteringly, while her bleary eyes gleamed up at me between fallen lids.

Such miserable age appealed to pity, but as she appeared to wish no aid, I left her leaning on her staff, and moved farther along the trail, stopping again to gaze at the shadowed valley below while I mused on the centuries it had seen and the brief moment of a man's life. Standing thus, I was like to lose my own, for suddenly I heard a whirr like that of a shrapnel shell on its murderous errand, and at my feet fell a projectile.

I saw that it was a breadfruit and that I was under the greatest tree of that variety I had ever seen, a hundred feet high and spreading like a giant oak. In the topmost branches was the tottering beldame I had saluted, and in both her hands the staff, a dozen feet long. She was threshing the fruit from the tree with astounding energy and agility, her scanty rags blown by the wind, and her emaciated, naked figure in its arboreal surroundings like that of an aged ape.

How she held on was a mystery, for she seemed to lean out from a limb at a right angle, yet she had but a toe-hold upon it. No part of her body but her feet touched the branch, nor had she any other support but that, yet she banged the staff about actively and sent more six-pounders down, so that I fled without further reflection.

The score of houses strung along the upper reaches of Atuona Valley were silent at this hour, and everywhere native houses were decaying, their falling walls and sunken roofs remembering the thousands who once had their homes here. Occasionally in our own country we see houses untenanted and falling to ruin, bearing unmistakable evidences of death or desertion, and I have followed armies that devastated a countryside and slew its people or hunted them to the hills, but the first is a solitary case, and the second, though full of horror, has at least the element of activity, of moving and struggling life. The rotting homes of the Marquesan people speak more eloquently of death than do sunken graves.

In these vales, which each held a thousand or several thousand when the blight of the white man came, the abandoned paepaes are solemn and shrouded witnesses of the death of a race. The jungle runs over them, and only remnants remain of the houses that sat upon them. Their owners have died, leaving no posterity to inhabit their homes; neighbors have removed their few chattels, and the wilderness has claimed its own. In every valley these dark monuments to the benefits of civilization hide themselves in the thickets.

None treads the stones that held the houses of the dead. They are tapu; about them flit the veinahae, the matiahae, and the etuahae, dread vampires and ghosts that have charge of the corpse and wait to seize the living. Well have these ghoulish phantoms feasted; whole islands are theirs, and soon they will sit upon the paepae of the last Marquesan.

I reached the top of the gulch and paused to gaze at its extent. The great hills rose sheer and rugged a mile away; the cocoanuts ceased at a lower level, and where I stood the precipices were a mass of wild trees, bushes, and creepers. From black to lightest green the colors ran, from smoky crests and gloomy ravines to the stream singing its way a hundred feet below the trail.

A hundred varieties of flowers poured forth their perfume upon the lonely scene. The frangipani, the red jasmine of delicious odor, and tropical gardenias, weighted the warm air with their heavy scents.

Beside the trail grew the hutu-tree with crimson-tasseled flowers among broad leaves, and fruit prickly and pear-shaped. It is a fruit not to be eaten by man, but immemorally used by lazy fishermen to insure miraculous draughts. Streams are dammed up and the pears thrown in. Soon the fish become stupified and float upon the surface to the gaping nets of the poisoners. They are not hurt in flavor or edibility.

The keoho, a thorny shrub, caught at my clothes as I left the trail. Its weapons of defence serve often as pins for the native, who in the forest improvises for himself a hat or umbrella of leaves. Beside me, too, was the putara, a broad-leaved bush and the lemon hibiscus, with its big, yellow flower, black-centered, was twisted through these shrubs and wound about the trunk of the giant aea, in whose branches the kuku murmured to its mate. Often the flowering vine stopped my progress. I struggled to free myself from its clutch as I fought through the mass of vegetation, and pausing perforce to let my panting lungs gulp the air, I saw around me ever new and stranger growths—orchids, giant creepers, the noni enata, a small bush with crimson pears upon it, the toa, or ironwood, which gave deadly clubs in war-time, but now spread its boughs peacefully amidst the prodigal foliage of its neighbors.

The umbrella fern, mana-mana-hine, was all about. The ama, the candlenut-tree, shed its oily nuts on the earth. The puu-epu, the paper mulberry, with yellow blossoms and cottony, round leaves, jostled pandanus and hibiscus; the ena-vao, a wild ginger with edible, but spicy, cones, and the lacebark-tree, the faufee, which furnishes cordage from its bark, contested for footing in the rich earth and fought for the sun that even on the brightest day never reached their roots.

I staggered through the bush, falling over rotten trees and struggling in the mass of shrubs and tangled vines.

Away up here, hidden in the depths of the forest, there were three or four houses; not the blue-painted or whitewashed cabins of the settlement, but half-open native cots, with smoke rising from the fire made in a circle of stones on the paepaes. The hour of sleep had passed, and squatted before the troughs men and women mashed the ma for the popoi, or idled on the platform in red and yellow pareus, watching the roasting breadfruit. There must be poverty-stricken folk indeed, for I saw that the houses showed no sign whatever of the ugliness that the Marquesan has aped from the whites. Yet neither were they the wretched huts of straw and thatch which I had seen in the valley and supposed to be the only remnants of the native architecture.

As I drew nearer, I saw that I had stumbled upon such a house as the Marquesan had known in the days of his strength, when pride of artistry had created wonderful and beautiful structures of native wood adorned in elegant and curious patterns.

It was erected upon a paepae about ten feet high, reached by a broad and smooth stairway of similar massive black rocks. The house, long and narrow, covered all of the paepae but a veranda in front, the edge of which was fenced with bamboo ingeniously formed into patterns of squares. A friendly call of “Kaoha!” in response to mine, summoned me to the family meeting-place, and I mounted the steps with eagerness.

I was met by a stalwart and handsome savage, in earrings and necklace and scarlet pareu, who rubbed my nose with his and smelled me ceremoniously, welcoming me as an honored guest. Several women followed his example, while naked children ran forward curiously to look at the stranger.

Learning the interest and admiration I felt for his house, my host displayed it with ill-concealed pride. Its frame was of the largest-sized bamboos standing upright, and faced with hibiscus strips, all lashed handsomely and strongly with faufee cordage. Upon this framework were set the walls, constructed of canes arranged in a delicate pattern, the fastenings being of purau or other rattan-like creepers, all tied neatly and regularly. As the residence was only about a dozen feet deep, through three times that length, these walls were not only attractive but eminently serviceable, the canes shading the interior, and the interstices between them admitting ample light and air.

We entered through a low opening and found the one long chamber spacious, cool, and perfumed with the forest odors. There were no furnishings save two large and brilliantly polished cocoanut-tree trunks running the whole length of the interior, and between them piles of mats of many designs and of every bright hue that roots and herbs will yield.

While I admired these, noting their rich colors and soft, yet firm, texture, a murmurous rustle on the palm-thatched roof announced the coming of the rain. It was unthinkable to my host that a stranger should leave his house at nightfall, and in a downpour that might become a deluge before morning. To have refused his invitation had been to leave a pained and bewildered household.

Popoi bowls and wooden platters of the roasted breadfruit were brought within shelter, and while the hissing rain put out the fires on the paepae the candlenuts were lighted and all squatted for the evening meal. Breadfruit and yams, with a draught of cocoanut milk, satisfied the hunger created by my arduous climb. Then the women carried away the empty bowls while my host and I lay upon the mats and smoked, watching the gray slant of the rain through the darkening twilight.

Few houses like his remained on Hiva-Oe, he said in reply to my compliments. The people loved the ways of the whites and longed for homes of redwood planks and roofs of iron. For himself, he loved the ways of his fathers, and though yielding as he must to the payments of taxes and the authority of new laws, he would not toil in the copra-groves or work on traders' ships. His father had been a warrior of renown. The u'u was wielded no more, being replaced by the guns of the whites. The old songs were forgotten. But he, who had traveled far, who had seen the capital of the world, Tahiti, and had learned much of the ways of the foreigner, would have none of them. He would live as his fathers had lived, and die as they had died.

“It is not long. We vanish like the small fish before the hunger of the mako. The High Places are broken, and the pahue covers our paepaes. It does not matter. E tupu te fau; e toro to farero, e mou te taata. The hibiscus shall grow, the coral shall spread, and man shall cease. There is sleep on your eyelids, and the mats are ready.”

His hospitality would give me the place of honor, despite my protests, and soon I found myself lying between my host and his wife, while the other members of the household lay in serried rank beyond her on the mats that filled the hollow between the palm-trunks. All slept with the backs of their heads upon one timber, and the backs of their knees over the other, but I found comfort on the soft pile between them. My companions slumbered peacefully, as I have remarked that men do in all countries where the people live near, and much in, the sea. There was no snoring or groaning, no convulsive movement of arms or legs, no grimaces or frowns such as mark the fitful sleep of most city dwellers and of all of us who worry or burn the candle at both ends.

I lay listening for some time to their quiet breathing and the sound of rain drumming on the thatch, but at last my eyes closed, and only the dawn awoke me.

Splitting cocoanut husks in copra making process

Cutting the meat from cocoanuts to make copra




The household of Lam Kai Oo; copra making; marvels of the cocoanut-groves; the sagacity of pigs; and a crab that knows the laws of gravitation.

Next morning, after bidding farewell to my hosts, I set out down the mountain in the early freshness of a sunny, rain-washed morning. I followed a trail new to me, a path steep as a stairway, walled in by the water-jeweled jungle pressing so close upon me that at times I saw the sky only through the interlacing fronds of the tree-ferns above my head.

I had gone perhaps a mile without seeing any sign of human habitation, hearing only the conversation of the birds and the multitudinous murmuring of leaves, when a heavy shower began to fall. Pressing on, hampered by my clinging garments and slipping in the path that had instantly become a miniature torrent, I came upon a little clearing in which stood a dirty, dark shanty, like a hovel in the outskirts of Canton, not raised on a paepae but squat in an acre of mud and the filth of years.

Two children, three or four years old, played naked in the muck, and Flower, of the red-gold hair, reputed the wickedest woman in the Marquesas, ironed her gowns on the floor of the porch. Raising her head, she called to me to come in.

This was the house of Lam Kai Oo, the adopted father of Flower. Seventy-one years old, Lam Kai Oo had made this his home since he left the employ of Captain Hart, the unfortunate American cotton planter, and here he had buried three native wives. His fourth, a woman of twenty years, sat in the shelter of a copra shed nursing a six-months' infant. Her breasts were dark blue, almost black, a characteristic of nursing mothers here.

Both the mother and Flower argued with me that I should make Many Daughters my wife during my stay in Atuona, and if not the leper lass, then another friend they had chosen for me. Flower herself had done me the honor of proposing a temporary alliance, but I had persuaded her that I was not worthy of her beauty and talents. Any plea that it was not according to my code, of even that it was un-Christian, provoked peals of laughter from all who heard it; sooth to say, the whites laughed loudest.

Beneath a thatch of palm-leaves Lam Kai Oo was drying cocoanuts. His withered yellow body straddled a kind of bench, to which was fixed a sharp-pointed stick of iron-wood. Seizing each nut in his claw-like hands, he pushed it against this point, turning and twisting it as he ripped off the thick and fibrous husk. Then he cracked each nut in half with a well-directed blow of a heavy knife. For the best copra-making, the half-nuts should be placed in the sun, concave side up. As the meats begin to dry, they shrink away from the shell and are readily removed, being then copra, the foundation of the many toilet preparations, soaps and creams, that are made from cocoa-oil.

As it rains much in the Marquesas, the drying is often done in ovens, though sun-dried copra commands a higher price. Lam Kai Oo was operating such an oven, a simple affair of stones cemented with mud, over which had been erected a shed of palm-trunks and thatch. The halved cocoanuts were placed in cups made of mud and laid on wooden racks above the oven. With the doors closed, a fire was built in the stone furnace and fed from the outside with cocoa-husks and brush. Such an oven does not dry the nuts uniformly. The smoke turns them dark, and oil made from them contains undesirable creosote. Hot-water pipes are the best source of heat, except the sun, but Lam Kai Oo was paying again for his poverty, as the poor man must do the world over.

Forty-four years earlier he had left California, after having given seven years of his life to building American railways. The smoke of the Civil War had hardly cleared away when Captain Hart had persuaded him, Ah Yu and other California Chinese to come to Hiva-oa, and put their labor into his cotton plantations. Cannibalism was common at that date. I asked the old man if he had witnessed it.

“My see plenty fella eatee,” he replied. “Kanaka no likee Chineeman. Him speak bad meatee.”

He told me how on one occasion the Lord had saved him from drowning. With a lay brother of the Catholic Mission, he had been en route to Vait-hua in a canoe with many natives. There was to be a church feast, and Lam Kai Oo was carrying six hundred Chile piastres to back his skill against the natives in gambling; Lam, of course, to operate the wheel of supposed chance.

The boat capsized in deep water. The lay brother could not swim, but was lifted to the keel of the upturned boat, while the others clung to its edges. He prayed for hours, while the others, lifting their faces above the storming waves, cried hearty amens to his supplications. Finally the waves washed them into shallow water. The brother gave earnest thanks for deliverance, but Lam thought that the same magic should give him back the six hundred pieces of silver that had gone into the sea.

“My savee plenty Lord helpee you,” said he. “Allee samee, him hell to live when poor. Him Lord catchee Chile money, my givee fitty dolla churchee.”

He sighed despairingly, and fed more cocoa-husks to his make-shift oven. The shower had passed, moving in a gray curtain down the valley, and picking my way through the mire of the yard, I followed it in the sunshine.

My way led now through the cocoanut-groves that day and night make the island murmurous with their rustling. They are good company, these lofty, graceful palms, and I had grown to feel a real affection for them, such as a man has for his dog. Like myself, they can not live and flourish long unless they see the ocean. Their habit has more tangible reason than mine; they are dependent on air and water for life. The greater the column of water that flows daily up their stems and evaporates from the leaves, the greater the growth and productivity.

Evaporation being in large measure dependent on free circulation of air, the best sites for cocoanut plantations are on the seashore, exposed to the winds. They love the sea and will grow with their boles dipped at high tide in the salt water.

These trunks, three feet in diameter at the base and tapering smoothly and perfectly to perhaps twelve inches at the top, are in reality no more than pipes for conveying the water to the thirsty fronds. Cut them open, and one finds a vast number of hollow reeds, held together by a resinous pitch and guarded by a bark both thick and exceedingly hard. There is no branch or leaf except at the very tip of the trunk, where a symmetrical and gigantic bouquet of leaves appears, having plumes a dozen feet long or more, that nod with every zephyr and in storms sway and lash the tree as if they were living things.

I used to wonder why these great leaves, the sport of the idlest breeze as well as the fiercest gale, were not torn from the tree, but when I learned to know the cocoanut palm as a dear friend I found that nature had provided for its survival on the wind-swept beaches with the same exquisite attention to individual need that is shown in the electric batteries and lights of certain fishes, or in the caprification of the fig. A very fine, but strong, matting, attached to the bark beneath the stalk, fastened half way around the tree and reaching three feet up the leaf, fixes it firmly to the trunk but gives it ample freedom to move. It is a natural brace, pliable and elastic.

There is scarcely a need of the islander not supplied by these amiable trees. Their wood makes the best spars, furnishes rafters and pillars for native houses, the knee- and head-rests of their beds, rollers for the big canoes or whale-boats, fences against wild pig, and fuel. The leaves make screens and roofs of dwellings, baskets, and coverings, and in the pagan temples of Tahiti were the rosaries or prayer-counters, while on their stiff stalks the candlenuts are strung to give light for feasts or for feasting. When the tree is young the network that holds the leaves is a beautiful silver, as fine as India paper and glossy; narrow strips of it are used as hair ornaments and contrast charmingly with the black and shining locks of the girls. When older, this matting has every appearance of coarse cotton cloth, and is used to wrap food, or is made into bags and even rough garments, specially for fishermen.

The white flowers are small and grow along a branching stalk, protected by a sheath, and just above the commencement of the leaf. From them is made the cocoanut-brandy that enables the native to forget his sorrows. Flowers and nuts in every stage of development are on the same tree, a year elapsing between the first blossom and the ripe nut. Long before it is ripe, but after full size has been attained, the nut contains a pint or even a quart of delicious juice, called milk, water, or wine, in different languages. It is clear as spring water, of a delicate acidity, yet sweet, and no idea of its taste can be formed from the half-rancid fluid in the ripe nuts sold in Europe or America. It must be drunk soon after being taken from the tree to know its full delights, and must have been gathered at the stage of growth called koie, when there is no pulp within the shell.

Not long after this time the pulp, white as snow, of the consistency and appearance of the white of a soft-boiled egg, forms in a thin layer about the walls of the nut. This is a delicious food, and from it are made many dishes, puddings, and cakes. It is no more like the shredded cocoanut of commerce than the peach plucked from the tree is like the tinned fruit.

The pulp hardens and thickens as time goes on, and finally is an inch in thickness. Occasionally the meat when hard and ripe is broiled and eaten. I like it fairly well served in this fashion.

If left on the tree, the nut will in time fall, and in due course there begins in it a marvelous process of germination. A sweet, whitish sponge forms in the interior, starting from the inner end of the seed enclosed in the kernel, opposite one of the three eyes in the smaller end of the nut. This sponge drinks up all the liquid, and, filling the inside, melts the hard meat, absorbs it, and turns it into a cellular substance, while a white bud, hard and powerful, pushes its way through one of the eyes of the shell, bores through several inches of husk, and reaches the air and light.

This bud now unfolds green leaves, and at the same period two other buds, beginning at the same point, find their way to the two other eyes and pierce them, turning down instead of up, and forcing their way through the former husk outside the shell, enter the ground. Though no knife could cut the shell, the life within bursts it open, and husk and shell decay and fertilize the soil beside the new roots, which, within five or six years, have raised a tree eight or nine feet high, itself bearing nuts to reproduce their kind again.

All about me on the fertile soil, among decaying leaves and luxuriant vines, I saw these nuts, carrying on their mysterious and powerful life in the unheeded forest depths. Here and there a half-domestic pig was harrying one with thrusting snout. These pigs, which we think stupid, know well that the sun will the sooner cause a sprouting nut to break open, and they roll the fallen nut into the sunlight to hasten their stomachs' gratification, though with sufficient labor they can get to the meat with their teeth.

There is a crab here, too, that could teach even the wisest, sun-employing pig some tricks in economics. He is the last word in adaptation to environment, with an uncanny knowledge that makes the uninformed look askance at the tale-teller. These crabs climb cocoanut-trees to procure their favorite food. They dote on cocoanuts, the ripe, full-meated sort. They are able to enjoy them by various endeavors demanding strength, cleverness, an apparent understanding of the effect of striking an object against a harder one, and of the velocity caused by gravity. Nuts that resist their attempts to open them, they carry to great heights, to drop them and thus break their shells.

These crabs are called by the scientists Birgos latro, by the Marquesans tupa, by the Paumotans kaveu, and by the Tahitians, ua vahi haari. It was a never-failing entertainment on my walks in the Paumotas to observe these great creatures, light-brown or reddish in color, more than two feet in length, stalking about with their bodies a foot from the ground, supported by two pairs of central legs. They can exist at least twenty-four hours without visiting the water, of which they carry a supply in reservoirs on both sides of the cephalothorax, keeping their gills moist.

A Marquesan home on a paepae

Isle of Barking Dogs

They live in large deep burrows in the cocoanut-groves, which they fill with husks, so that the natives often rob them to procure a quick supply of fuel. These dens are contrived for speedy entry when pursued. Terrifying as they appear when surprised on land, they scuttle for safety either to a hole or to the sea, with an agility astounding in a creature so awkward in appearance. Though they may be seen about at all hours of the day, they make forays upon the cocoanuts only at night.

Darwin first saw these creatures in the Indian Ocean, and said that they seek the sea every night to moisten their branchiae. The young are hatched and live for some time on the sea-coast, venturing far from water only as they grow older. Darwin said that their feat in entering the cocoanut “is as curious a case of instinct as was ever heard of, and likewise of adaptation in structure between two objects apparently so remote from each other in the scheme of nature, as a crab and a cocoanut-tree.”

When darkness descends and all is quiet, the robber crab ascends the tree by gripping the bark with his claws. The rays of my electric flash-light have often caught him high over my head against the gray palm. Height does not daunt him. He will go up till he reaches the nuts, if it be a hundred feet. With his powerful nippers he severs the stem, choosing always a nut that is big and ripe. Descending the palm, he tears off the fibrous husk, which, at first thought, it would seem impossible for him to do. He tears it fiber by fiber, and always from that end under which the three eye-holes are situated. With these exposed, he begins hammering on one of them until he has enlarged the opening so that he can insert one of the sharp points of his claw into it. By turning his claw backward and forward he scoops out the meat and regales himself luxuriously.

This is his simplest method, along the line of least resistance, but let the nut be refractory, and he seizes it by the point of a claw and beats it against a rock until he smashes it. This plan failing, he will carry the stubborn nut to the top of the tree again and hurl it to the earth to crack it. And if at first he does not succeed, he will make other trips aloft with the husked nut, dropping it again and again until at last it is shattered and lies open to his claws.

It is said that if a drop of oil be placed on the long and delicate antennae of these crabs they die almost instantly. We have a somewhat similar rumor with respect to salt and a bird's tail. Seldom does a robber crab linger to be oiled, and so other means of destroying him, or, at least, of guarding against his depredations, are sought. With the rat, who bites the flower and gnaws the young nuts, this crab is the principal enemy of the planter. The tree owner who can afford it, nails sheets of tin or zinc around the tree a dozen feet from the earth. Neither rat nor crab can pass this slippery band, which gives no claw-hold. Thousands of trees are thus protected, but usually these are in possession of white men, for tin is costly and the native is poor.

The ingenious native, however, employs another means of saving the fruit of his groves. He climbs the palm-trunk in the daytime, and forty feet above the ground encircles it with dirt and leaves. On his mat for the night's slumber, he smiles to think of the revenge he shall have. For the crab ascends and passes the puny barrier to select and fell his nuts, but when in his backward way he descends, he forgets the curious bunker he went over and, striking it again, thinks he has reached the ground. He lets go, and smashes on the rocks his crafty foe has piled below.




Visit of Le Moine; the story of Paul Gauguin; his house, and a search for his grave beneath the white cross of Calvary.

I rose one morning from my Golden Bed to find a stranger quietly smoking a cigarette on my paepae. Against the jungle background he was a strangely incongruous figure; a Frenchman, small, thin, meticulously neat in garments of faded blue denim and shining high boots. His blue eyes twinkled above a carefully trimmed beard, and as he rose to meet me, I observed that the fingers on the cigarette were long, slender, and nervous.

This was Monsieur Charles le Moine, the painter from Vait-hua, whose studio I had invaded in his absence from that delightful isle. We sat long over breakfast coffee and cigarettes, I, charmed by his conversation, he, eager to hear news of the world he had forsaken. He had studied in Paris, been governor of the Gambier Islands, and at last had made his final home among the palms and orchids of these forgotten isles. His life had narrowed to his canvases, on which he sought to interpret Marquesan atmosphere and character, its beauty and savage lure.

I said to him that it was a pity many great painters did not come here to put on canvas the fading glamor and charm of the Marquesas.

“Our craft is too poor,” he replied with a sigh. “A society built on money does not give its artists and singers the freedom they had in the old days in these islands, my friend. We are bound to a wheel that turns relentlessly. Who can come from France and live here without money? Me, I must work as gendarme and school-teacher to be able to paint even here. One great painter did live in this valley, and died here—Paul Gauguin. He was a master, my friend!”

“Paul Gauguin lived here?” I exclaimed. I had known, of course, that the great modernist had died in the Marquesas, but I had never heard in which valley, and no one in Atuona had spoken of him. In Florence I had met an artist who possessed two glass doors taken from Madame Charbonnier's house and said to have been painted by Gauguin in payment for rent. I had been in Paris when all artistic France was shuddering or going into ecstacies over Gauguin's blazing tropic work, when his massive, crude figures done in violent tones, filled with sinister power, had been the conversation of galleries and saloons.

Strindberg wrote of Gauguin's first exhibition and expressed dislike for the artist's prepossession with form, and for the savage models he chose. Gauguin's reply was:

“Your civilization is your disease; my barbarism is my restoration to health. I am a savage. Every human work is a revelation of the individual. All I have learned from others has been an impediment to me. I know little, but what I do know is my own.”

Now I learned from the lips of Le Moine that this man had lived and died in my own valley of Atuona, had perhaps sat on this paepae where we were breakfasting. Imagination kindled at the thought. “I will take you to his house,” said Le Moine.

We walked down the road past the governor's palace until opposite Baufré's depressing abode, where, several hundred yards back from a stone wall, sunk in the mire of the swamp, had for ten years been Gauguin's home and studio. Nothing remained of it but a few faint traces rapidly disappearing beneath the jungle growth.

While we stood in the shade of a cocoanut-palm, gazing at these, we were joined by Baufré, the shaggy and drink-ruined Frenchman, in his torn and dirty overalls.

“This weather is devilish,” said Baufré, with a curse. “It is not as it used to be. The world goes to the devil. There were seven hundred people in Atuona when I came here. They are all dead but two hundred, and there is nobody to help me in my plantation. If I pay three francs a day, they will not work. If I pay five francs, they will not work. Suppose I give them rum? They will work hard for that, for it means forgetting, but when they drink rum they cannot work at all.”

“But you are a philosopher, and absinthe or rum will cure you,” said Le Moine.

Mon dieu! I am not a philosopher!” retorted Baufré. “Of what good is that? Gauguin was a philosopher, and he is dead and buried on Calvary. You know how he suffered? His feet and legs were very bad. Every day he had to tie them up. He could not wear shoes, but he painted, and drank absinthe, and injected the morphine into his belly, and painted.

Sapristi! He was a brave one! Am I not here over thirty years, and have I met a man like Gauguin? He never worried. He painted. The dealer in Paris sent him five hundred francs a month, and he gave away everything. He cared only for paint. And now he is gone. Regardez, here is where his house stood.”

We walked through the matted grass that sketched upon the fertile soil the shape of that house where Gauguin had painted.

It had been raised from the marsh six feet on trunks of trees, and was about forty-five feet long and twenty wide. The floor was of planks, and one climbed a stairway to reach the veranda. The frame of the house was of wood, but the sides all of split bamboo, with a row of windows of glass and a roof of cocoanut thatch. The light entered from the north, and except for a small chamber for sleeping and a closet for provisions, the entire house was a studio, a lofty, breeze-swept hall, the windows high up admitting light, but not the hot sunshine, and the expanse of bamboo filtering the winds in their eternal drift from south to north and north to south.

Below the floor, on the ground, was a room for work in sculpture, in which medium Gauguin took much interest, using clay and wood, the latter both for bas-relief and full relief, Gauguin being hampered, Baufré said, by lack of plasticity in the native clay. Next to this workroom was a shelter for the horse and cart, for Gauguin had the only wheeled vehicle in the Marquesas.

Baufré exhausted all his rhetoric and used four sheets of foolscap in his endeavor to make me see these surroundings of the artist, whom he evidently considered a great man.

“Five hundred francs a month, mon ami, whether he painted or not! But he was a worker. Drunk or sober, he would paint. Oui, I have seen him with a bottle of absinthe in him, and still he would paint. Early in the morning he was at work at his easel in the studio or under the trees, and every day he painted till the light was gone. His only use for the cart was to carry him and his easel and chair to scenes he would paint. He would shoot that accursed morphine into his belly when the pain was too bad, and he would drink wine and talk and paint.

“He had no wife or woman, but he took one in the way of the white man here now and then. He lived alone, save for a half-Chinese boy who cooked and cleaned for him. He never said he was sick. There was no doctor on this island, for the government was then at Nuka-hiva, and he had no time to go there. He suffered terribly, but he never complained. ‘Life is short,’ he would say, ‘and there is not long to paint.’

“He would not talk politics, but after the light was gone he would sit at the organ in his studio and make one cry with his music. When at home he wore only a pareu, but he would put on trousers when he went out. He worked and drank and injected his morphine, and one morning when the boy came he found him dead, and he was smiling.

“The government hated him because he cursed it for not letting the natives keep their customs. The church hated him because he ridiculed it. Still, they buried him in the Catholic cemetery. I went with the body, and four Marquesans carried it up the trail.

“The government sold his house to Gedge, and Gedge sold it to a native, who tore it down for the materials. It was of no use to any one, for it was built for an artist.

Vous savez; mon garçon, I am not acquainted with pictures, and have never seen any but his, but I felt that they were good. They made one feel the sun. There was in them the soul of these islands. And you know that Polonaise, with the one eye-glass, that lives in Papeite, that Krajewsky? Eh bien! he was here to buy these stone images of gods, and he said that in Paris they were paying tens of thousands of francs for those things of Gauguin's he would have given me for the asking. Ah well! he had the head and he was a philosopher, but he lies up there in Calvary.”

“Perhaps,” said Le Moine.

Mon ami,” said the shaggy man, “I go to church, and you and I and Gauguin are the same kind of Catholic. We don't do what we pray for. That man was smarter than you or me, and the good God will forgive him whatever he did. He paid everybody, and Chassognal of Papeite found seven hundred francs in a book where he had carelessly laid it. If he drank, he shared it, and he paid his women.”

“He was an atheist,” persisted Le Moine.

“Atheist!” echoed Baufré. “He believed in making beautiful pictures, and he was not afraid of God or of the mission. How do you know what God likes? Mathieu Scallamera built the church here and the mission houses, and he is dead, and all his family are lepers. Did God do that? Non! Non! You and I know nothing about that. You like to drink. Your woman is tattooed, and we are both men and bad. Come and have a drink?”

We left him beside the road and walked slowly beneath the arch of trees toward the mountain whose summit was crowned by the white cross of Calvary graveyard.

“He drank too much, he took morphine, he was mortally ill, and yet he painted. Those chaps who have to have leisure and sandal-wood censors might learn from that man,” said Le Moine. “He was a pagan and he saw nature with the eyes of a pagan god, and he painted it as he saw it.”

I reminded him of James Huneker's words about Gauguin: “He is yet for the majority, though he may be the Paint God of the Twentieth century. Paint was his passion. With all his realism, he was a symbolist, a master of decoration.”

Past the governor's mansion, we turned sharply up the hill. Apart from all other dwellings, on a knoll, stood a Marquesan house. As we followed the steep trail past it, I called, “Kaoha!

I hea?” said a woman, “Karavario? Where do you go? To Calvary?”

There was a sad astonishment in her tone, that we should make the arduous climb to the cemetery where no dead of ours lay interred.

A fairly broad trail wound about the hill, the trail over which the dead and the mourners go, and the way was through a vast cocoanut-orchard, the trees planted with absolute regularity lifting their waving fronds seventy or eighty feet above the earth. There was no underbrush between the tall gray columns of the palms, only a twisted vegetation covered the ground, and the red volcanic soil of the trail, cutting through the green, was like a smear of blood.

The road was long and hot. Halting near the summit, we looked upward, and I was struck with emotion as when in the courtyard I saw the group of the crucifixion. A cross forty feet high, with a Christ nailed upon it, all snow-white, stood up against the deep blue sky. It was like a note of organ music in the great gray cathedral of the palms.

Another forty minutes climbing brought us to the foot of the white symbol. A half-acre within white-washed palings, like any country graveyard, lay on the summit of the mountain.

To find Gauguin's grave we began at the entrance and searched row by row. The graves were those of natives, mounds marked by small stones along the sides, with crosses of rusted iron filigree showing skulls and other symbols of death, and a name painted in white, mildewing away. Farther on were tombs of stone and cement, primitive and massive, defying the elements. Upon one was graven, “Ci Git Daniel Vaimai, Kata-Kita, 1867–1907. R.I.P.” The grave of a catechist, a native assistant to the priests. Beneath another lay “August Jorss,” he who had ordered the Golden Bed in which I slept. Most conspicuous of all was a mausoleum surrounded by a high, black, iron railing brought from France. On this I climbed to read while perched on the points:

Ici repose Mg. Illustrissime et Reverendissime Rog. Jh. Martin,” and much more in Latin and French. It was the imposing grave of the Bishop of Uranopolis, vicar-apostolic to the Marquesas, predecessor to Bishop le Cadre, who had no pride and whom all called plain Father David.

Suddenly rain poured down upon us, and looking about to find a shelter we saw a straw penthouse over a new and empty grave lined with stones. We huddled beneath it, our faces toward the sea, and while the heavy rain splashed above our heads and water rushed down the slope, we gazed in silence at the magnificent panorama below.

We were directly above the Bay of Traitors, that arm of the sea which curved into the little bays of Taka-Uka and Atuona. At one side, a mere pinnacle through the vapor about his throat, rose the rugged head of Temetiu, and ranged below him the black fastnesses of the valleys he commands. In the foreground the cocoas, from the rocky headlands to the gate of Calvary, stood like an army bearing palms of victory. In rows and circles, plats and masses, the gray trunks followed one another from sea to mountain, yielding themselves to the storm, swaying gently, and by some trick of wind and rain seeming to march toward the cross-crowned summit.

The flimsy thatch under which we crouched, put up only to keep the sun from the grave-digger, bent to north and south, and threatened to wing away. But suddenly the shower ran away in a minute, as if it had an engagement elsewhere, and the sun shone more brightly in the rain-washed air.

We continued our search, but uselessly. Hohine and Mupui had advertisement of their last mortal residence, but not Gauguin. We found an earring on one little tomb where a mother had laid her child, and on several those couronnes des perles, stiff, ugly wreaths brought from France, with “Sincere Regrets” in raised beads, speaking pityfully of the longing of the simple islanders to do honor to the memory of their loved ones. But the grave of Gauguin, the great painter, was unmarked. If a board had been placed at its head when he was buried, it had rotted away, and nothing was left to indicate where he was lying.

The hibiscus was blood-red on the sunken graves, and cocoanuts sprouted in the tangled grass. Palms shut out from the half-acre had dropped their nuts within it, and the soil, rich in the ashes of man, was endeavoring to bring forth fairer fruit than headstones and iron crosses. The pahue, a lovely, long, creeping vine that wanders on the beaches to the edge of the tides, had crawled over many graves, and its flowers, like morning-glories, hung their purple bells on the humbler spots that no hand sought to clear.

Perhaps under these is the dust of the painter who, more than any other man, made the Marquesas known to the world of Europe.




Death of Aumia; funeral chant and burial customs; causes for the death of a race.

On the paepae of a poor cabin near my own lived two women, Aumia and Taipi, in the last stages of consumption. Aumia had been, only a few months earlier, the beauty of the island.

“She was one of the gayest,” said Haabunai, “but the pokoko has taken her.”

She was pitifully thin when I first saw her, lying all day on a heap of mats, with Taipi beside her, both coughing, coughing. An epidemic of colds had seized Atuona, brought, most probably, by the schooner Papeite, for no other had arrived since the Morning Star. Aumia coughed at night, her neighbor took it up, and then, like laughter in a school, it became impossible to resist, and down to the beach and up to the heights the valley echoed with the distressing sounds. So, a breadfruit season ago, had Aumia coughed for the first time, and the way she was going would be followed by many of my neighbors.

I stopped every day to chat a moment with Aumia, and to bring her the jam or marmalade she liked, and was too poor to buy from the trader's store. She asked me this day if I had seen her grave. She had heard I had visited the cemetery, and I must describe it to her. It was the grave over which Le Moine and I had crouched from the storm.

Aumia's husband and Haabunai, with Great Fern, had dug it and paved it a couple of days ago, and her husband had given the others a pig for their work, slaughtering it on the tomb of the Bishop of Uranopolis. No thought of profanation had entered their minds; it was convenient to lay the pig over the imposing monument, with a man on either side holding the beast and the butcher free-handed. The carcass had been denuded of hair in a pail of hot water and buried underground with fire below and above him. When the meat was well done, I had a portion of it, and Sister Serapoline, who had come in her black nun's habit to console Aumia with the promises of the church, ate with us, and accepted a haunch for the nun's house.

“Aumia is able to eat pig, and yet they have made her grave,” I said.

“Oh, c'est ça!” replied the nun, holding the haunch carefully. “That is the custom. Always they used to dig them near the house, so that the sick person might see the grave, and in its digging the sick had much to say, and enjoyed it. Now, grâce à dieu! if Catholics, they are buried in consecrated ground where the body may rest serene until the trumpet sounds the final judgment. Death is terrible, but these Marquesans make no more of it than of a journey to another island, and much less than of a voyage to Tahiti. They die as peacefully as a good Catholic who is sure of his crown in Heaven. And as they are children, only children, the wisest or the worst of them, the Good God will know how to count their sins. It is those who scandalize them who shall pay dear, those wicked whites who have forsaken God, or who worship him in false temples.”

The coffin of Aumia was then beside the house, turned over so that rain might not make it unpresentable. She had asked for it weeks before. To the Marquesan his coffin is as important as, to us, the house the newly-married pair are to live in. These people know that almost every foot of their land holds the bones or dust of a corpse, and this remnant of a race, overwhelmed by tragedy, can look on death only as a relief from the oppression of alien and unsympathetic white men. They go to the land of the tupapaus as calmly as to sleep.

“I have never seen a Marquesan afraid to die,” said Sister Serapoline. “I have been at the side of many in their last moments. It is a terrible thing to die, but they have no fear at all.”

The husband of Aumia, a jolly fellow of thirty, was practising on a drum for the entertainment of his wife. He said that the corpse of his grandfather, a chief, had been oiled and kept about the house until it became mummified. This, he said, had been quite the custom. The body was washed very thoroughly, and rubbed with cocoanut-oil. It was laid in the sun, and members of the family appointed to turn it many times a day, so that all parts might be subjected to an even heat. The anointing with oil was repeated several times daily. Weeks or months of this process reduced the corpse to a mummified condition, and if it were the body of a chief it was then put in his canoe and kept for years in a ceremonial way. But no mark was ever placed to show where the dead were buried, and there were no funeral ceremonies. Better that none knew where the body was laid and that the chosen friends who carried it to the sepulchre forgot the spot.

In the very old days the Marquesans interred the dead secretly in the night at the foot of great trees. Or they carried the bodies to the mountains and in a rocky hole shaded by trees covered them over and made the grave as much as possible like the surrounding soil. The secret of the burial-place was kept inviolate. Aumia's husband related an instance of a man who in the darkest night climbed a supposedly inaccessible precipice carrying the body of his young wife lashed to his back, to place it carefully on a lofty shelf and descend safely.

These precautions came probably from a fear of profanation of the dead, perhaps of their being eaten by a victorious enemy. To devastate the cemeteries and temples of the foe was an aim of every invading tribe. It was considered that mutilating a corpse injured the soul that had fled from it.

Afraid of no living enemy nor of the sea, meeting the shark in his own element and worsting him, fearlessly enduring the thrust of the fatal spear when an accident of battle left him defenseless, the Marquesan warrior, as much as the youngest child, had an unutterable horror of their own dead and of burial-places, as of the demons who hovered about them.

Christianity has made no change in this, for it, too, is encumbered with such fears. Who of us but dreads to pass a graveyard at night, though even to ourselves we deny the fear? Banshees, werwolves and devils, the blessed candles lit to keep away the Evil One, or even to guard against wandering souls on certain feasts of the dead, were all part of my childhood. So to the Marquesan are the goblins that cause him to refuse to go into silent places alone at night, and often make him cower in fear on his own mats, a pareu over his head, in terror of the unknown.

But death when it comes to him now is nothing, or it is a going to sleep at the end of a sad day. Aumia, eating her burial meats and looking with pleasure at her coffin, carefully and beautifully built by her husband's hands, smiled at me as serenely as a child. But the melancholy sound of her coughing followed me up the trail to the House of the Golden Bed.

It was barely daylight next morning when I awoke, a soft, delicious air stirring the breadfruit leaves. I plunged into the river, and returning to my house was about to dress—that is, to put on my pareu—when a shriek arose from the forest. It was sudden, sharp, and agonizing.

Aumia mate i havaii” said Exploding Eggs, approaching to build the fire. Literally he said, “Aumia is dead and gone below,” for the Marquesans locate the spirit world below the earth's surface, as they do the soul below the belt.

The wailing was accompanied shortly by a sound of hammering on boards.

“The corpse goes into the coffin,” said Exploding Eggs. The first nail had been driven but a moment after Aumia's last breath.

All day the neighborhood was melancholy with the cries from the house. All the lamentations were in a certain tone, as if struck from the same instrument by the hand of sorrow. Each visitor to the house shrieked in the same manner, and all present accompanied her, so that for ten minutes after each new mourner arrived a chorus of loud wails and moans assailed my ears. I had never known such a heart-rending exhibition of grief.

But the sorrow of these friends of Aumia was not genuine. It could not be; it was too dramatic. When they left the house the mourners laughed and lit cigarettes and pipes. If no new visitor came they fell to chatting and smoking, but the sight of a fresh and unharrowed person started them off again in their mechanical, though nerve-racking, cry.

I had known Aumia well, and at noon, desiring to observe the proprieties, I stepped upon the paepae of her home.

“She loved the Menike!” shouted the old women in chorus, and they threw themselves upon me and smelt me and made as if I had been one of the dead's husbands. The followed me up the trail to my cabin and sat on my paepae wailing and shrieking. It was some time before I realized that their poignant sorrow should force consolation from me. There was not a moan as the rum went round.

I had puzzled at the exact repetition of their plaint. Harrowing as it was, the sounds were almost like a recitation of the alphabet. A woman who had adopted me as her nephew said they called it the “Ue haaneinei” That, literally, is “to make a weeping on the side.” The etiquette of it was intricate and precise. Each vowel was memorized with exactness. It ran, as my adopted aunt repeated it over her shell of consolation, thus:

“Ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke! A a a a a a a a a a a a a a! E e e e e e e e e e e e e e e! I i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i! O o o o o o o o o o o o o o o! U u u u u u u u u u u u u u u!”

To omit a vowel, to say too many, or to mix their order, would be disrespect to the spirit of the dead, and a reflection on the mourner. Nine times the “ke,” fourteen “a's,” fifteen “e's,” eighteen “i's” and fifteen “o's” and “u's.”

Aumia was carried to Calvary in the afternoon and put in the grave for which the pig had been paid. So strongly did the old feeling still prevail that only three or four of her friends could be persuaded by the nuns to accompany the coffin up the trail.

Exploding Egg's consignment of Aumia to Havaii, the underworld, spoke strongly of the clinging of his people to their old beliefs in the destiny of the spirit after death. They share with the Ainos of Japan—a people to which they have many likenesses, being of the same division of man—a faith in a subterranean future.

Does not Socrates, in the dialogues of Plato, often speak of “going to the world below,” where he hopes to find real wisdom?

Havaii or Havaiki is, of course, the fabled place whence came the Polynesians, as it is also the name of that underworld to which their spirits return after death. One might read into this fact a dim groping of the Marquesan mind toward “From dust he came, to dust returneth,” or, more likely, a longing of the exiled people for the old home they had abandoned. Ethnologists believe that the name refers to Java, the tarrying-point of the great migration of Caucasians from South Asia toward Polynesia and New Zealand, or to Savaii, a Samoan island whence the emigrants later dispersed.

Whatever the origin of the word, to-day it conveys to the Marquesan mind only that vague region where the dead go. In it there is no suffering, either for good or bad souls. It is simply the place where the dead go. It is ruled by Po, the Darkness.

There is, however, a paradise in an island in the clouds, where beautiful girls and great bowls of kava, with pigs roasted to a turn, await the good and brave. The old priests claimed to be able to help one from Po to this happy abode, but the living relatives of the departed spirit had to pay a heavy price for their services. The Christianized Marquesan fancies that he finds these old beliefs revived when Père David tells him of purgatory, from which prayers and certain good acts help one's friends, or may be laid up in advance against the day when one must himself descend to that middle state of souls.

All Marquesans live in the shadow of that day. They see it without fear, but with a melancholy so tragic and deep that the sorrow of it is indescribable.

“I have seen many go as Aumia has gone,” said Father David to me. “All these lovable races are dying. All Polynesia is passing. Some day the whites here will be left alone amid the ruins of plantations and houses, unless they bring in an alien race to take the places of the dead.”

A hundred years ago there were a hundred and sixty thousand Marquesans in these islands. Twenty years ago there were four thousand. To-day I am convinced that there remain not twenty-one hundred.

A century ago an American naval captain reckoned nineteen thousand fighting men on the island of Nuka-hiva alone. In a valley where three thousand warriors opposed him, there are to-day four adults. I visited Hanamate, an hour from Atuona, where fifty years ago hundreds of natives lived. Not one survived to greet me.

Consumption came first to Hanavave, on the island of Fatu-hiva. One of the tribe of merciless American whaling captains having sent ashore a sailor dying of tuberculosis, the tattooed cannibals received him in a Christ-like manner, soothed his last hours, and breathed the germs that have carried off more than four-fifths of their race, and to-day are killing the remnant.

The white man brought the Chinese, and with them leprosy. The Chinese were imported to aid the white in stealing the native land of the Marquesan, and to keep the Chinese contented, opium was brought with him. Finding it eagerly craved by the ignorant native, the foolish white fastened this vice also upon his other desired slave. The French Government, for forty thousand francs, licensed an opium farmer to sell the drug still faster, and not until alarmed by the results and shamed by the outcry in Europe, did it forbid the devastating narcotic. Too late!

Smallpox came with a Peruvian slave-ship that stole thousands of the islanders and carried them off to work out their lives for the white in his own country. This ship left another more dread disease, which raged in the islands as a virulent epidemic, instead of running the slow chronic course it does nowadays when all the world has been poisoned by it.

The healthy Marquesans had no anti-toxins in their pure blood to overcome the diseases which with us, hardened Europeans and descendants of Europeans, are not deadly. Here they raged and destroyed hundreds in a few days or weeks.

The survivors of these pestilences, seeing their homes and villages desolated, their friends dying, their people perishing, supposed that these curses were inflicted upon them by the God of the foreigners and by the missionaries, who said that they were his servant. In their misery, they not only refused to listen to the gospels, but accused the missionaries in prayer before their own god, begging to be saved from them. Often when the missionaries appeared to speak to the people, the deformed and dying were brought out and laid in rows before them, as evidences of the evilness and cruelty of their white god.

But after one has advanced all tangible reasons and causes for the depopulation of the Marquesas, there remains another, mysterious, intangible, but it may be, more potent than the others. The coming of the white has been deadly to all copper-colored races everywhere in the world. The black, the yellow, the Malay, the Asiatic and the negro flourish beside the white; the Polynesian and the red races of America perished or are going fast. The numbers of those dead from war and epidemics leave still lacking the full explanation of the fearful facts. Seek as far as you will, pile up figures and causes and prove them correct; there still remains to take into account the shadow of the white on the red.

Prescott says:

The American Indian has something peculiarly sensitive in his nature. He shrinks instinctively from the rude touch of a foreign hand. Even when this foreign influence comes in the form of civilization, he seems to sink and pine under it. It has been so with the Mexicans. Under the Spanish domination their numbers have silently melted away. Their energies are broken. They live under a better system of laws, a more assured tranquillity, a purer faith. But all does not avail. Their civilization was of the hardy character that belongs to the wilderness. Their hardy virtues were all their own. They refused to submit to European culture—to be engrafted on a foreign stock.

Free! Understand that well, it is the deep commandment, dimmer or clearer, of our whole being, to be free. Freedom is the one purpose, wisely aimed at or unwisely, of all man's struggles, toilings, and sufferings, in this earth.

I am persuaded that the Polynesians, from Hawaii to Tahiti, are dying because of the suppression of the play-instinct, an instinct that had its expression in most of their customs and occupations. Their dancing, their tattooing, their chanting, their religious rites, and even their warfare, had very visible elements of humor and joyousness. They were essentially a happy people, full of dramatic feeling, emotional, and with a keen sense of the ridiculous. The rule of the trader crushed all these native feelings.

To this restraint was added the burden of the effort to live. With the entire Marquesan economic and social system disrupted, food was not so easily procurable, and they were driven to work by commands, taxes, fines, and the novel and killing incentives of rum and opium. The whites taught the men to sell their lives, and the women to sell their charms.

Happiness and health were destroyed because the white man came here only to gratify his cupidity. The priests could bring no inspiration sufficient to overcome the degradation caused by the traders. The Marquesan saw that Jesus had small influence over their rulers. Civilization lost its opportunity because it gave precept, but no example.

Even to-day, one white man in a valley sets the standard of sobriety, of kindness, and honor. Jensen, the frank and handsome Dane who works for the Germans at Taka-Uka who was in the breadline in New York and swears he will never return to civilization, told me that when he kept a store in Hanamenu, near Atuona, to serve the bare handful of unexterminated tribesmen there, the people imitated him in everything, his clothes, his gestures, his least-studied actions.

“I was the only white. I planted a fern in a box. Every one came to my store and, feigning other reasons, asked for boxes. Soon every paepae had its box of ferns. I asked a man to snare four or five goats for me in the hills. They were the first goats tethered or enclosed in the valley. Within a week the mountains were harried for goats, and the village was noisy with their bleating. I ate my goats; they ate theirs. Not one was left. When I forsook Hanamenu, the whole population moved with me. Sure, I was decent to them, that was all.

“I never want to see the white man's country again. I have starved in the big cities, and worked like a dog for the banana trust in the West Indies. I have begged a cup of coffee in San Francisco, and been fanned by a cop's club. Here I make almost nothing, I have many friends and no superiors, and I am happy.”

Had these lovable savages had a few fine souls to lead them, to shield them from the dregs of civilization heaped on them for a century, they might have developed into a wonder race to set a pace in beauty, courage, and natural power that would have surprised and helped Europe.

They needed no physical regeneration. They were better born into health and purity—bloody as were some of their customs—than most of us. Their bodies had not become a burden on the soul, but, light and strong and unrestrained, were a part of it. They did not know that they had bodies; they only leaped, danced, flung themselves in and out of the sea, part of a large, happy, and harmonious universe.

If to that superb, almost perfect, physical base that nature had given these Marquesans, to that sweetness simplicity, generosity, and trust acknowledged by all who know them, there could have been added a knowledge of the things we have learned; if by example and kindness they could have been given rounded and informed intelligence, what living there would have been in these islands!

All they needed was a brother who walked in the sunlight and showed the way.




A savage dance, a drama of the sea, of danger and feasting; the rape of the lettuce.

Drums were beating all the morning, thrilling the valley and mountain-sides with their barbaric boom-boom. The savage beat of them quickened the blood, stirring memories older than mankind, waking wild and primitive instincts. Toho's eyes gleamed, and her toes curled and uncurled like those of a cat, while she told me that the afternoon would see an old dance, a drama of the sea, of war, and feasting such as the islands had known before the whites came.

The air thrummed with the resonance of the drums. All morning I sat alone on my paepae, hearing them beat. The sound carried one back to the days when men first tied the skins of animals about hollow tree-trunks and thumped them to call the naked tribes together under the oaks of England. Those great drums beaten by the hands of Haabunai and Song of the Nightingale made one want to be a savage, to throw a spear, to dance in the moonlight.

Erase thirty years, and hear it in Atuona when the “long pig that speaks” was being carried through the jungle to the dark High Place! Then it was the thunder of the heavens, the voice of the old gods hungry for the flesh of their enemies.

We who have become refined and diverse in our musical expression, using a dozen or scores of instruments to interpret our subtle emotions, cannot know the primitive and savage exaltation that surges through the veins when the war-drum beats. To the Marquesans it has ever been a summons to action, an inspiration to daring and bloody deeds, the call of the war-gods, the frenzy of the dance. Born of the thunder, speaking with the voice of the storm and the cataract, it rouses in man the beast with quivering nostrils and lashing tail who was part of the forest and the night.

Music is ever an expression of the moods and morals of its time. The bugle and the fife share with the drum the rousing of martial spirit in our armies to-day, but to our savage ancestors the drum was supreme. Primitive man expressed his harmony with nature by imitating its sounds. He struck his own body or a hollow log covered with skin. Uncivilized peoples crack their fingers, snap their thighs, or strike the ground with their feet to furnish music for impromptu dancing. In Tonga they crack their fingers; in Tahiti they pound the earth with the soles of their feet; here in Atuona they clap hands. The Marquesans have, too, bamboo drums, long sections of the hollow reed, slit, and beaten with sticks. For calling boats and for signaling they use the conch-shell, the same that sounded when “the Tritons blew their wreathed horn.” They also have the jew's-harp, an instrument common to all Polynesia; sometimes a strip of bark held between the teeth, sometimes a bow of wood strung with gut.

The haka, the Marquesan national dance

Hot Tears (on the left) with Vai Etienne

Civilization is a process of making life more complex and subtle. We have the piano, the violin, the orchestra. Yet we also have rag-time, which is a reaction from the nervous tension of American commercial life, a swinging back to the old days when man, though a brute, was free. There is release and exhilaration in the barbaric, syncopated songs and in the animal-like motions of the jazz dances with their wild and passionate attitudes, their unrestrained rhythms, and their direct appeal to sex. These rag-time melodies, coming straight from the jungles of Africa through the negro, call to impulses in man that are stifled in big cities, in factory and slum and the nerve-wearing struggle of business.

So in the dance my Marquesan neighbors returned to the old ways and expressed emotions dying under the rule of an alien people. With the making light of their reverenced tapus, the proving that their gods were powerless, and the ending of their tribal life, the dance degraded. They did not care to dance now that their joy in life was gone. But the new and jolly governor, craving amusement, sought to revive it for his pleasure. So the drums were beating on the palace lawn, and afternoon found the trails gay with pareus and brilliant shawls as the natives came down from their paepaes to the seat of government.

Chief Kekela Avaua, adopted son of the old Kekela, and head man of the Paamau district, called for me. He was a dignified and important man of forty-five years, with handsome patterns in tattooing on his legs, and Dundreary whiskers. He was quite modishly dressed in brown linen, beneath which showed his bare, prehensile-toed feet.

Kirio Patuhamane, a marvelous specimen of scrolled ink-marks from head to foot, who sported Burnside whiskers, an English cricket cap, and a scarlet loin-cloth, accompanied us down the road.

A hundred natives were squatting in the garden of the palace, and rum and wine were being handed out when we arrived. Haabunai and Song of the Nightingale, the man under sentence for making palm brandy, were once more the distributors, and took a glass often. The people had thawed since the dance at the governor's inauguration. As Kirio Patuhamane explained, they had waited to observe the disposition of their new ruler, the last having been severe, dispensing no rum save for his own selfish gain, and having a wife who despised them.

My tawny feminine friends resented keenly white women's airs of superiority, and many were the cold glances cast by Malicious Gossip, Apporo, and Flower at the stiffly gowned Madame Bapp, who sat on the veranda drinking absinthe. They scorned her, because she beat her husband if he but looked at one of them, though he owned a store and desired their custom. Poor Madame Bapp! She thought her little man very attractive, and she lived in misery because of the openly-displayed charms of his customers. She loved him, and when jealous she sought the absinthe bottle and soon was busy with whip and broom on the miserable Bapp, who sought to flee. It was useless; she had looked to doors and windows, and he must take a painful punishment, the while the crockery smashed and all Atuona Valley listened on its paepaes, laughing and well knowing that the little man had given no cause for jealousy.

She greeted me with cold politeness when I mounted to the veranda, and the governor dispensed glasses of “Dr. Funk,” a drink known to all the South Seas. Its secret is merely the mixing of a stiff drink of absinthe with lemonade or limeade. The learned man who added this death-dealing potion to the pleasures of the thirsty was Stevenson's friend, and attended him in his last illness. I do not know whether Dr. Funk ever mixed his favorite drink for R.L.S., but his own fame has spread, not as a healer, but as a dram-decocter, from Samoa to Tahiti. “Dr. Funk!” one hears in every club and bar. Its particular merits are claimed by experts to be a stiffening of the spine when one is all in; an imparting of courage to live to men worn out by doing nothing.

The governor in gala attire was again the urban host, assisted by André Bauda, now his close friend and confidant. Bauda himself had been in the island only a few months, and knew no more Marquesan speech than the governor. Both these officials were truly hospitable, embarrassingly so, considering my inability to keep up with them in their toasts.

Soon the demijohn of rum had been emptied into the glasses passing from hand to hand in the garden; Haabunai and Song of the Nightingale again evoked the thrumming beat of the great drums, and the dance began. This was a tragedy of the sea, a pantomine of danger and conflict and celebration. For centuries past the ancestors of these dancers had played it on the Forbidden Height. Even the language in which they chanted was archaic to this generation, its words and their meanings forgotten.

The women sat upon the grass in a row, and first, in dumb show, they lifted and carried from its house to the beach a long canoe. The straining muscles of their arms, the sway of their bodies, imitated the raising of the great boat, and the walking with its weight, the launching, the waiting for the breakers and the undertow that would enable them to pass the surf line, and then the paddling in rough water.

Meantime at a distance the men chanted in chorus, giving rhythmic time to the motions of the dancers and telling in the long-disused words the story of the drama. And the drums beat till their rolling thunder resounded far up the valley.

After the canoe was moving swiftly through the water the women rested. It seemed to me that the low continued chant of the men expressed a longing for freedom, for a return to nature, and a melancholy comment on the days of power and liberty gone forever. Though no person present understood the ancient language of the song, there was no need of words to interpret the exact meaning of the dance. Though no word had been uttered, the motions of the women would have clearly told the tale.

When they began again, the sea grew more agitated. Now the wail of the men reproduced the sound of waves beating on the canoe, and the whistling of the wind. The canoe was tossed high by the pounding sea; it slid dizzily down into the troughs of waves and rocked as the oarsmen fought to hold it steady. The squall had grown into a gale, roaring upon them while they tried to hold it steady. The canoe began to fill with water, it sank deeper and deeper, and in another moment the boatsmen were flung into the ocean. There they struggled with the great seas; they swam; they regained the canoe; they righted it, climbed into it. The storm subsided, the seas went down.

Again the women rested, their arms and bodies shining with perspiration. All this time they had remained immobile from the waist downward; their naked legs folded under them like those of statues. The chant of the men was quieter now, expressing a memory of the old gaiety now crushed by the inhibitions of the whites, by ridicule of island legends, and by the stern denunciations of priests and preachers. Yet it was full of suggestion of days gone by and the people who had once sailed the seas among these islands.

Again the dancers raised their arms, and the canoe sailed over sunny waters. At length it touched at an isle, it was carried through the breakers to a resting place on the sand. Its oarsmen rejoiced, they danced a dance of thanksgiving to their gods, and wreathed the ti leaves in their hair.

At this moment Haabunai, master of ceremonies, gave a cry of dismay and ceased to beat his drum. With an anguished glance at the assembled spectators, he dashed around the corner of the house, to reappear in an instant with his hands full of green leaves.

Mon dieu!” cried the governor. “Mon salade! Mon salade!

Haabunai, busied with his duties, had forgotten to provide the real and sacred ti. In despair at the last moment he had raided and utterly destroyed the governor's prized lettuce bed, the sole provision for salad-making in Atuona. He hastily divided the precious leaves among the dancers, and with wilting lettuce enwreathed in their tresses the oarsmen launched the canoe once more in the waves and returned to their own isle, praising the gods.

All relaxed now, to receive the praises of the governor and the brimming glasses once more offered by the diligent Haabunai and Song, aided by the gendarme.

A gruesome cannibal chant followed, accompanied by the booming of the drums, and then, warmed by the liquor that fired their brains, the dancers began the haka, the sexual dance. Inflamed by the rum, they flung themselves into it with such abandon as I have never seen, and I saw a kamaaina in Hawaii and have seen Caroline, Miri, and Mamoe, most skilled dancers of the Hawaiian Islands. With the continued passing of the cup, the hurahura soon became general. The men and women who had begun dancing in rows, in an organized way, now broke ranks and danced freely all over the lawn. Men sought out the women they liked, and women the men, challenging each other in frenzied and startling exposition of the ancient ways.

The ceaseless booming of the drums added incitement to the frenzy; the grounds of the governor's palace were a chaos of twisting brown bodies and agitated pareus, while from all sides rose cries, shouts, hysterical laughter, and the sound of clapping hands and thumping feet. Here and there dancers fell exhausted, until by elimination the dance resolved itself into a duet, all yielding the turf to Many Daughters, the little, lovely leper, and Kekela Avaua, chief of Paumau. These left the lawn and advanced to the veranda, where so contagious had become the enthusiasm that the governor was doing the hurahura opposite Bauda, and Ah Yu danced with Apporo, while Song, the prisoner, and Flag, the gendarme, madly emulated the star performers.

Kekela, who led the rout, was a figure at which to marvel. A very big man, perhaps six feet four inches in height, and all muscle, his contortions and the frenzied movements of his muscles exceeded all anatomical laws. Many Daughters, her big eyes shining, her red lips parted, followed and matched his every motion. Her entire trunk seemed to revolve on the pivot of her waist, her hips twisting in almost a spiral, and her arms akimbo accentuating and balancing her lascivious mobility.

The governor and the commissionaire, Ah Yu and Apporo, Monsieur Bapp with Song of the Nightingale and Flag, made the palace tremble while the thrum of the great drums maddened their blood.

Exhausted at last, they lay panting on the boards. Song was telling me that the liquor of the governor's giving surpassed all his illicit make, and that when his sentence expired he would remain at the palace as cook. Ah Yu, in broken English, sang a ditty he had heard forty years earlier in California, “Shoo-fle-fly-doan-bodder-me.” Apporo, overcome by the rum and the dance, was lying among the rose-bushes. Many others were flung on the sward, and more rose again to the dance, singing and shouting and demanding more rum. The girls came forward to be kissed, as was the custom, and Madame Bapp drove them away with sharp words.

Soon the hullabaloo became too great for the dignity of the governor. He gave orders to clear the grounds, and Bauda issued commands from the veranda while Song and Flag lugged away the drums and drove the excited mob out of the garden and across the bridge. All in all, this Sunday was typical of Atuona under the new régime.

After a quiet bath in the pool below my cabin I got my own dinner, unassisted by Exploding Eggs, and went early to bed to forestall visitors. The crash of a falling cocoanut awakened me at midnight, and I saw on my paepae Apporo, Flower, Water, and Chief Kekela Avaua, asleep. The chief had hung his trousers over the railing, and was in his pareu, his pictured legs showing, while the others lay naked on my mats. There was no need to disturb them, for it is the good and honored custom of these hospitable islands to sleep wherever slumber overtakes one.

The night was fine, the stars looked down through the breadfruit-trees, and Temetiu, the giant mountain, was dark and handsome in the blue and gold sky. Two sheep were huddled together by my trail window, the horses were lying down in the brush, and a nightingale lilted a gay love song in the cocoanut-palms above the House of the Golden Bed.

Next morning all Atuona had a tight handkerchief bound over its forehead. I met twenty men and women with this sign of repentance upon their brows. Watercress, the chief of Atuona, who guards the governor's house, was by the roadside.

“You have drunk too much,” I remarked, as I spied the rag about his head.

“Not too much, but a great deal,” he rejoined.

Faufau,” I said further, which means that it is a bad thing.

Hana paopao” he said sadly. “It is disagreeable to work. One likes to forget many things.”

There was bitterness and sorrow in his tone. His father was a warrior, under the protection of Toatahu, the god of the chiefs, and led many a victorious foray when Watercress was a child. The son remembers the old days and feels deeply the degradation and ruin brought by the whites upon his people. A distinguished-looking man, dignified and haughty, he was one of half a dozen who were working out taxes by repairing the roads, and he was one of the few who worked steadily, saying little and seldom smiling.




A walk to the Forbidden Place; Hot Tears, the hunchback; the story of Behold the Servant of the Priest, told by Malicious Gossip in the cave of Enamoa.

It was a drowsy afternoon, and coming up the jungle trail to my cabin I saw Le Brunnec, the trader, accompanied by Mouth of God and Tahiapii, half-sister to Malicious Gossip.

Le Brunnec, a Breton, intelligent, honest, and light-hearted, owned the store below the governor's palace on the road to Atuona beach. He lived above it, alone save for a boy who cooked for him, and all the Marquesans were his friends. He had come this afternoon to take me for a walk up Atuona valley, and on the main road below my house Le Moine, Jimmy Kekela, Hot Tears, the hunchback, and Malicious Gossip awaited us.

We waded the river and found a trail that wandered along it crossed it now and then and hung in places on the high banks above it. The trail had been washed by freshets often and was rough and stony, overhung with trees and vines. Along it, a hundred feet or so from the river, were houses sparsely scattered in the almost continuous forest of cocoanut and breadfruit. Oranges and bananas, mangoes and limes, surrounded the cabins, most of which were built of rough planks and roofed with iron. Here and there I saw a native house of straw matting thatched with palm leaves, a sign of a poverty that could not reach the hideous, but admired, standard of the whites.

Many people sitting on their paepaes called to us, and one woman pointed to me and said that she wished to take my name and give me her own. This is their custom with one to whom they are attracted, but I affected not to understand. I did not want, so early in my residence in Atuona, to lose a name that had served me well for many years, and besides, if I took another I would have to abide by whatever it might be and be known by it. It would be pleasant to be called “Blue Sky” or “Killer of Sharks,” but how about “Drowned in the Sea” or “Noise Inside”?

“Keep your name to yourself, mon ami,” said Le Moine. “They expect much from you if you give them yours. They will give you heaps of useless presents, but you alone have the right to buy rum.”

Following a curve in the stream, we came upon Teata (Miss Theater), the acknowledged beauty of Atuona, waist-deep in a pool, washing her gowns. She was a vision of loveliness, large-eyed, tawny, her hair a dark cascade about her fair face and bare shoulders, the crystal water lapping her slender thighs and curling into ripples about her, the heavy jungle growth on the banks making an emerald background to her beauty.

“They are like the ancient Greeks,” said Le Moine, “with the grace of accustomed nudity and the poise of the barefooted. You must not judge them by the present standards of Europe, but by the statues of Greece or Egypt. M'a'mselle Theater there in the brook would have been renowned in the Golden Age of Pericles. I must paint her before she is older. They are good models, for they have no nerves and will sit all day in a pose, though they dislike standing, and must have their pipe or cigarette. You have seen Vanquished Often, in my own valley of Vait-hua, whom I have painted so much. Ah, there is beauty! One will not find her like in all the world. Paris knows nothing like her.”

Teata waved her hand at us from the brook, and flung her heavy hair backward over her shoulder as she went on with her task. Looking back at her before the trail wound again into the forest, I saw that her features in repose were hard and semi-savage, the lines still beautiful, but cast in a severe and forbidding mold.

We climbed steadily, jumping from rock to rock and clinging to the bushes. A mile up the valley we came suddenly upon a plateau, and saw before us the remains of an ancient Pekia, or High Place, a grim and grisly monument of the days of evil gods and man-eating.

This, in the old days, was the paepae tapu, or Forbidden Height, the abode of dark and terrible spirits. Upon it once stood the temple and about it in the depths of night were enacted the rites of mystery, when the priests and elders fed on the “long pig that speaks,” when the drums beat till dawn and wild dances maddened the blood.

When it was built, no man can say. Centuries have looked upon these black stones, grim as the ruins of Karnak, created by a mysterious genius, consecrated to something now gone out of the world forever. For ages hidden in the gloom of the forest, it was swept and polished by hands long since dust; it was held in reverence and dread. It was tapu, devoted to terrible deities, and none but the priests or the chiefs might approach it except on nights of ghastly feasting.

The old cannibal of Taipi Valley

Enacting a human sacrifice of the Marquesans

It stood in a grove of shadowy trees, which even at mid-afternoon cast a gloom upon the ponderous black rocks of the platform and the high seats where chiefs and wizards once sat devouring the corpses of their foes. Above them writhed and twisted the distorted limbs of a huge banian-tree, and below, among the gnarled roots, there was a deep, dark pit.

We paused in a clear space of green turf delicately shaded by mango-trees walled in with ferns and grass and flowering bushes, and gazed into the gloom. This was forbidden ground until the French came. No road led to it then; only a narrow and dusky trail, guarded by demons of Po and trod by humans only in the whispering darkness of the jungle night, brought the warriors with the burdens of living meat to the place of the gods. But the French, as if to mock the sacred things of the conquered, made two roads converge in this very spot, from which one wound its way over the mountains to Hanamenu and the other followed the river to an impasse in the hills.

“My forefathers and mothers ate their fill of 'long pig' here and danced away the night,” said Hot Tears, the hunchback, as he lighted a cigarette and sat upon the stone pulpit that once had been a wizard's. His heavy face, crushed down upon his crooked chest, showed not the slightest trace of fear; a pale imp danced in each of his narrowed eyes as he looked up at me.

“That banian-tree, my grandfather said, held the toua, the cord of cocoanut fiber that held the living meat suspended above the baking pit. There, you see, among the roots—that was the oven, above which the prisoners hung. Here stood the great drums, and the servants of the priests beat them, till the darkness was filled with sound and all the valleys heard.

Aue!” The hunchback leaped to the edge of the pit. He raised his thin arms in the air, and I seemed to see, amidst the contorted limbs of the aged banian, fifty feet above, the quivering bodies swaying. “The toua breaks! They fall. Here on the rocks. They are killed with blows of the u'u, thus! And thus the meat is cut, and wrapped in the meika aa. Light the fire! Pile in the wood! It roasts!”

His ghoulish laughter rose in the dark stillness of the jungle, and the hair stirred on my scalp. To my vision the high black seats were filled with shadowy figures, the light of candlenut torches fell on tattooed faces and gleaming eyes. When the hunchback moved from the tree of death, feigning to carry a platter, first to the great seats of the chiefs, then to the wide platform below, the flesh crawled on my bones.

Ai! They dance! Ai! Ai! Ai! They danced, and they loved! All night the drums beat. The drums! The drums! The drums!” He flung his twisted body on the green and laughed madly, till the old banian itself answered him. For a moment he writhed in a silence even more ghastly than his laughter, then lay still.

Au!” he said, turning over on his back. “My grandfather believed this Pekia to be the abode of demons.” He paused. “As for me, I believe in none of them, or in any other gods.” And he blew out his breath contemptuously.

Le Moine surveyed the scene critically.

“What a picture at night, with torches flickering, and the seats filled with men in red pareus! Mais, c'est terrible!

He got off a hundred feet and squinted through a roll of paper.

“I wish I could paint it,” he said. “It must be a big canvas, and all dark but the torches and a few faces. Mon dieu! Magnificent!”

Is cannibalism in the Marquesas a thing of the past? Do those grim warriors who survive the new régime ever relapse? Who can say? It is not probable, for the population of the valleys is so small and the movements of the people so limited that absence is quickly detected. Yet every once in awhile some one is missing.

Haa mate. He has leaped into the sea. He was paopao. Life was too long.”

Or, if the disappearance was in crossing from one valley to another, it is said that a rock or a fall of earth had swept the absent one over a cliff. These are reasonable explanations, yet there persist whispers of foul appetitites craving gratification and of old rites revived by the moke, the hermits who hide in the mountains.

Two such dissappearances had occurred during my brief stay in Atuona, and I had made little of the whispers. But now, with the hideous laughter of the hunchback still ringing in my ears, they slipped darkly through my mind, and I never felt the sunshine sweeter or tasted the mountain air with more delight than when we left that unholy place and were out on the trail again.

Our destination was a waterfall, with a pool in which we might bathe, and after leaving the Pekia we followed the stream, climbing higher and higher from the sea. In the Marquesas all the rivers begin in the high mountains, where from the precipices leap the torrents in times of rain. As the valleys are mere ravines at their heads, the waters collect in their depths and roll to the ocean, rippling gently on sunny days, but after a downpour raging, rolling huge boulders over and over and tearing away cliffs.

These streams are the life of the people in the upper valleys. In the old days of warfare many of these mountain dwellers never knew the sea; they were prevented from reaching it by the beach clansmen who claimed the fishing for their own and made it death for the hill people to venture down to the shore. All the people of a single valley, six or perhaps a dozen clans, united to war against other valleys, its people risking their lives if they trespassed beyond the hills. Yet under a wise and powerful chief a whole valley lived in amity and knew no class or clan divisions.

“We are going to Vaihae, The Waters of the Great Desire,” said Malicious Gossip. “It was a sacred place once upon a time.”

We climbed painfully, Le Moine and I suffering keenly from the sharp edges of the stones that cut even through the thick soles of our shoes. The others, who were barefooted, made nothing of them, walking as easily and lithely as panthers on the jagged trail. Soon we heard the crash of the Vaihae, and sliding down the mountain-side a hundred feet we came into a depths of a gorge a yard or two wide, a mere crack in the rocks, filled with the boom and roar of rushing water. The rain-swollen stream, cramped in the narrow passage, flung itself foaming high on the spray-wet cliffs, and dashed in a mighty torrent into a deep howl riven out of the solid granite twenty feet below.

We put off our clothes and leaped into the pool, enjoying intensely the coolness of the swirling water after the sweat of our climb. Malicious Gossip and her sister would not go in at first, but when I had climbed the face of a slippery rock twenty feet high to dive, and remained there gazing at the melancholy grandeur of the scene, Malicious Gossip put off her tunic and swam through the race, bringing me my camera untouched by the water. She was a naiad of the old mythologies as she slipped through the green current, her hair streaming over her shoulders and her body moving effortlessly as a fish. Once wetted, she remained in the water with us, and she told me there was a cave behind the waterfall, hidden by the glassy sheet of water.

“It is called Enamoa (Behold the Servant of the Priest) and it has a terrible history,” said Malicious Gossip. “Follow me and we will enter it.”

She swam across the pool and turning lithely in the water curved out of sight beneath the surface of the vortex. Kekela followed her, and I made several attempts, but each time was flung back, bruised and breathless. It was not until Kekela, finding a long stick in the cave, thrust it through the white foam, that by catching its end in the whirling water I was able to fight through the roaring and smashing deluge.

The cave was obscure and damp, its only light filtering through the moving curtain of green water. Black and crawling things squirmed at our feet, and darkness filled the recesses of the cavern. Malicious Gossip's body was a blur in the dimness, and her low soft voice was like an overtone of the deep organ notes of the torrent.

“The tale of the cave of Enamoa is not a legend,” she said, “for it is more. It was a happening known to our grandfathers. There were two warriors who coveted a woman, and she was tapu to them. She was a taua vehine, a priestess of the old gods. But they coveted her, and they were friends, who shared their wives as they divided their popoi.”

Panalua,” said Kekela. “That is 'dear friend custom.' We had it in Hawaii. Brothers shared their wives, and sisters their husbands.”

“These two were name-brothers, and loved as though they were brothers by blood,” said Malicious Gossip. “And their hearts were consumed with flame when they looked on this girl. It was evil of them, for it was against the will of the gods. She was of their own clan, and the priests had made her tapu until she had reached a certain age. Her brother was the servant of the priests, and she was consecrated to the gods. She was guarded by most sacred custom. It was forbidden to touch her or her food.

“Yet these warriors, toa they were, and renowned in battle, coveted her with a desire that ate their sleep. And at last when they had drunk the fiery namu enata till their brains were filled with flames, they lay in wait for her.

“She came down to this pool to bathe. The pool itself was tapu save for those consecrated to the gods, yet this wretched pair crept through the lantana there on the bank, and watched her. She stood on the rock above the pool and put off her pae, her cap of gauze, her long robe, and her pareu, all of finest tree-cloth, for in those days before the whites came our people were properly clothed. All naked then in the sunlight, she lifted her arms toward the sky and laughed, and sat down on a rock to bathe her feet.

“Suddenly the lustful warriors sprang upon her, and stopping her cries with her own pae they swam with her into this cave. Thought and breath had left her; she lay as one dead, and before they had attained their will they heard a sound of one approaching and singing on the rocks. They had no time to kill her, as they had intended, that she might not bring death to them. They left her and fled along the cliffs, barely escaping before the other man came.

“He had seen from the corner of his eye a sight of some one fleeing from the cave. He was curious, and swam to it. It was late in the day, for the priestess had come for the evening bath. The sun had hidden himself behind Temetiu and the cave was dark. The man came, then, stepping with care, and his feet found in the darkness a living body, warm and soft and perfumed with flowers.

“Then in the darkness, finding her very sweet, he yielded to the demon. But when he brought her at last through the falling water to the evening light, he cried aloud. He was the moa, the servant of the high priest, and this was his sister whom he loved.

“He screamed thrice, so that all the valley heard him, and then he flung her into the pool to drown. The people saw him fleeing to the heights. He never returned to them. He became a moke, a sorcerer, who lived alone in the forest, dreaded by all. He was heard shrieking in the night, and then the storms came. His eyes were seen through the leaves on jungle trails, and he who saw died.

“Then the people gave the cave a name, the name of Enamoa, Behold the Servant of the Priest. It was much larger then than now, as large as a grove. But one night the people heard the noise of the falling of great rocks, and in the morning the cave was small as now. The moke was never seen again. He had brought down the walls of the cave upon himself, because it had seen his sin.”

Malicious Gossip, having finished her tale, slipped again beneath the green curtain of the waterfall. When I had fought through the blinding, crashing waters and floated with aching lungs on the surface of the pool, she was donning her tunic on the rocks above it, and soon, with our clothes over our wet bodies, we strolled back to Atuona, Tahiapii smoking Kekela's pipe.

Interior of Island of Fatu-hiva, where the author walked over the mountains

The plateau of Ahoa




A search for rubber-trees on the plateau of Ahoa; a fight with the wild white dogs; story of an ancient migration, told by the wild cattle hunters in the Cave of the Spine of the Chinaman.

I went one day with Le Brunnec, the French trader, in search of rubber trees on the plateau of Ahao, above Hanamenu, on the other side of Hiva-oa Island.

Mounted on small, but sturdy, mountain ponies, we followed the trail across the river and up the steep mountain-side clad with impenetrable jungle, climbing ever higher and higher above deep gorges and dizzying precipices, until at noon we crossed the loftiest range and dipped downward to the wide plateau.

A thousand feet above the valley, level as a prairie, and indescribably wild and deserted, the plain stretched before us. At some distance to our right a long and narrow mound rose five hundred feet from the plateau, a hill that did not mar the vast level expanse, but seemed instead a great earthwork piled upon it by man. Its green terrace was a wild garden of flowers and fruit growing in luxuriant confusion, watered by a stream that leaped sparkling among tall ferns.

There was no breadfruit, for it will live only where man is there to tend it, and in all the extent of the tableland there was no human being or sign of habitation. Wild cattle and boars moved in droves among the scattered trees, or stood in the shallow stream watching us with curiosity as we passed. Thousands of guinea-pigs scampered before our horses' feet, and the free descendants of house-trained cats from the cities of Europe and America perched upon lofty branches to gaze down at our cavalcade.

I have seen the Garden of Allah, and the Garden of Eden,—if I can believe the Arab sheik whose camel I bought for the journey,—I have been in Nikko at its best, and known Johore and Kandy en fête, but for the hours in which I looked upon it this plateau of Ahao was the most exquisite spot upon the earth. The wilderness of its tropic beauty, the green of its leafage, the rich profusion and splendor of its flowers, the pale colors that shimmered along its far horizon, and the desolate grandeur of Temetiu's distant summit wrapped in thunderous clouds, gave it an aspect primitive, mysterious, and sublime.

Upon the trees hundreds of orchids hung like jewels, and vines were swung in garlands. Flowers of every hue spread a brilliant carpet beneath the horses' hoofs; the hart's-tongue, the manamana-o-hina, the papa-mako and the parasol-plant, with mosses of every description and myriads of ferns, covered the sward. Some were the giant tree-ferns, tall as trees, others uncurled snaky stems from masses of rusty-colored matting, and everywhere was spread the delicate lace of the uu-fenua, a maiden-hair beside which the florist's offering is clumsy and insignificant.

We made our own way through the tall grass and tangles of flowering shrubs, for there were no trails save those made by the great herds of wild cattle that wandered across the plain. Three thousand head at least I saw grazing on the luxuriant herbage, or pausing with lifted heads before they fled at our approach.

“They are descendants of a few left by shipmasters decades ago,” said Le Brunnec. “Twenty years ago they roamed in immense herds all over the islands. I have chased them out of the trail to Hanamenu with a stick. Like the goats left by the American captain, Porter, on Nuka-hiva, they thrived and multiplied, but like the goats they are being massacred.

“Both cattle and goats were past reckoning when, with peace fully established and the population dwindling, the French permitted the Marquesans to buy guns. The natives hunt in gangs. Fifteen or twenty men, each with rifle or shot-gun, go on horseback to the grazing grounds. The beasts at the sound of the explosions rush to the highest point of the hills. Knowing their habits, the natives post themselves along the ridges and kill all they can. They eat or take away three or four, but they kill thirty or forty. They die in the brush, and their bones strew the ground.”

I told him of the buffalo, antelope, and deer that formerly filled our woods and covered our prairies; of Alexander Wilson, who in Kentucky in 1811 estimated one flight of wild carrier pigeons as two thousand millions, and of there being not one of those birds now left in the world so far as is known.

Le Brunnec sighed, for he was a true sportsman, and would not kill even a pig if he could not consume most of its carcass. Often he half-lifted the shot-gun that lay across the pommel, but let it drop again, saying, “We will have a wild bird for supper.”

We pitched our tent as the moon hung her lantern over the brow of the hill. Never was tent raised in a spot lonelier or lovelier. We chose for our camp the shelter of a moto tree, one of the most lordly of all the growths of these islands. Not ten of them were left in all the Marquesas, said Le Brunnec as I admired its towering column and magnificent spread of foliage. “The whites who used the axe in these isles would have made firewood of the ark of the covenant.”

We made a fire before our tent and cooked a wild chicken he had shot, which, with pilot-biscuit and Bordeaux wine, made an excellent dinner. Darkness closed around us while we ate, the wide plateau stretched about us, mysterious in the light of the moon, and the night was cool and pleasant. We lay in lazy comfort, enjoying the fresh light air of that altitude and smoking “John's” mixture from Los Angeles, till sleepiness spilled the tobacco. Our numbed senses scarcely let us drag our mats into the tent before unconsciousness claimed us.

I was wakened by the blood-chilling howls of a wolf-pack in full cry, and a shout from Le Brunnec, “The dogs!”

He stood by the open flap of the tent, a black silhouette of man and gun. When I had clutched my own rifle and reached his side I saw in the moonlight a score of huge white beasts, some tangled in a snarling heap over the remains of our supper, others crouching on their haunches in a ring, facing us. One of them sprang as Le Brunnec fired, and its hot breath fanned my face before my own finger pressed the trigger.

The two wounded brutes struggled on the ground until a second shot finished them, and the rest made off to a little distance, where Le Brunnec kept them with an occasional shot while I brought up the terrified ponies, snorting and plunging. More wood thrown on the coals spread a circle of firelight about us, and Le Brunnec and I took turns in standing guard until morning, while the white dogs sat like sheeted ghosts around us and made the night hideous with howls. One or the other of us must have dozed, for during the night the beasts dragged away the two dead and picked their bones.

These, Le Brunnec said, were the sons and daughters of dogs once friendly to humanity, and like the wild cats we had seen, they bore mute testimony to the numbers of people who once lived on this plateau.

When dawn came the mountain rats were scurrying about the meadows, but the dogs had gone afar, leaving only the two heaps of bones and the wreckage of all outside the tent to tell of their foray. The sun flooded the mesa, disclosing myriad fern-fronds and mosses and colored petals waving in the light breeze as Le Brunnec and I went down to the stream to bathe.

Alas! I lolled there on the bank, thinking to gaze my fill at all this loveliness, and sat upon the puke, a feathery plant exquisite to the eye, but a veritable bunch of gadflies for pricking meanness. It is a sensitive shrub, retreating at man's approach, its petioles folding from sight, but with all its modesty it left me a stinging reminder that I had failed to respect its privacy.

At noon we came to the hill that rises from the plateau, and found at its base a cistern, the sole token we had seen of the domain of man, except the dogs and cats that had returned to the primitive. It was a basin cut in the solid rock, and doubtless had been the water supply of the tribes that dwelt here hemmed in by enemies. There was about it the vague semblance of an altar, and in the brush near it we saw the black remains of a mighty paepae like that giant Marai of Papara in Tahiti, which itself seemed kin to the great pyramid temple of Borobodo in Java. Melancholy memorials these of man, who is so like the gods, but who passes like a leaf in the wind.

Lolling in the stream that overflowed the edge of the ancient cistern, we discussed our plans. Le Brunnec was convinced that the eva, which we had found in considerable numbers, was a rubber-tree. He said that rubber was obtained from many trees, vines, roots, and plants, and that the sap of the eva, when dried and treated, had all the necessary bouncing qualities. We were to estimate the number of eva trees on the plateau and size up the value of the land for a plantation. Thus we might turn into gold that poison tree whose reddish-purple, alluring fruit has given so many Marquesans escape from life's bitterness, whose juice wounded or mutilated warriors drank to avoid pain or contempt.

Idling thus in the limpid water, we heard a voice and started up surprised. A group of natives looked down upon us from the hill above, and their leader was asking who were the strange haoe who had come to their valley.

Le Brunnec shouted his name—Proneka, in the native tongue—and after council they shouted down an invitation to breakfast. We had no guns, or, indeed, any other clothing than a towel, our horses being tethered at some distance, but we climbed the hill. Half way up the steep ascent we were confronted by a wild sow with eight piglets. Le Brunnec said that one of them would be appreciated by our hosts, but the mother, surmising his intention, put her litter behind her and stood at bay. To attempt the rape of the pork, naked, afoot, and unarmed, would have meant grievous wounds from those gnashing tusks, so we abandoned the gift and approached our hosts empty-handed.

We found them waiting for us in the Grotto of the Spine of the Chinaman, a shallow cave in the side of the hill. There were seven of them, naked as ourselves, thick-lipped, their eyes ringed with the blue ama-ink and their bodies scrolled with it. They had killed a bull the day before and had cooked the meat in bamboo tubes, steaming it in the earth until it was tender and tasty. We gorged upon it, and then rested in the cool cave while we smoked. They were curious to know why we were there, and asked if we were after beef. I disclaimed this intention, and said that I was wondering if Ahao had not held many people once.

“Ai! E mea tiatohu hoi! Do you not know of the Piina of Fiti-nui? Of the people that once were here? Aoe? Then I will tell you.”

While the pipe went from mouth to mouth, Kitu, the leader of the hunters, related the following:

“The Piina of Fiti-nui had always lived here on the plateau of Ahao. The wise men chronicled a hundred and twenty generations since the clan began. That would be before Iholomoni built the temple in Iudea, that the priests of the new white gods tell us of. The High Place of the Piina of Fiti-nui was old before Iholomoni was born.

“But, old as was the clan, there came a time when it grew small in number. For longer than old remembered they had been at war with the Piina of Hana-uaua, who lived in the next valley below this plateau. These two peoples were kinsman, but the hate between them was bitter. The enemy gave the Piina of Fiti-nui no rest. Their popoi pits were opened and emptied, their women were stolen, and their men seized and eaten. Month after month and year after year the clan lost its strength.

“They had almost ceased to tattoo their bodies, for they asked what it served them when they were so soon to bake in the ovens of the Hana-uaua people. They could not defeat the Hana-uaua, for they were small in number and the Hana-uaua were great. The best fighters were dead. The gods only could save the last of the tribe from the veinahae, the vampire who seizes the dead.

“The taua went into the High Place and besought the gods, but they were deaf. They made no answer. Then in despair the chief, Atituahuei, set a time when, if the gods gave no counsel, he would lead every man of the tribe against the foe, and die while the war-clubs sang.

“Atituahuei went with the taua to the giant rock, Meae-Topaiho, the sacred stone shaped like a spear that stood between the lands of the warring peoples, and there he said this vow to the gods. And the people waited.

“They waited for the space of the waxing and waning of the moon, and the gods said nothing. Then the warriors made ready their u'u of polished ironwood, and filled their baskets with stones, and made ready the spears. On the darkest night of the moon the Piina of Fiti-nui was to go forth to fight and be killed by the Hana-uaua.

“But before the moon had gone, the taua came down from the High Place, and said that the gods had spoken. They commanded the people to depart from Ahao, and to sail beyond the Isle of Barking Dogs until they came to a new land. The gods would protect them from the waves. The gods had shown the taua a hidden valley, which ran to the beach, in which to build the canoes.

“For many months the Piina of Fiti-nui labored in secret in the hidden valley. They built five canoes, giant, double canoes, with high platforms and houses on them, the kind that are built no more. In these canoes they placed the women and children and the aged, and when all was ready, the men raided the village of the Piina of Hana-uaua, and in the darkness brought all their food to the canoes.

“At daybreak the Fiti-nui embarked in four of the canoes, but one they must leave behind for the daughter of the chief, who expected to be delivered of a child at any hour, and for the women of her family, who would not leave her. The hidden valley was filled with the sound of lamentation at the parting, but the gods had spoken, and they must go.

“When the four canoes were in the sea beyond the village of Hana-uaua, all their people beat their war-drums and blew the trumpets of shell. The people of Hana-uaua heard the noise, and said that strangers had come, but whether for a fight or a feast they did not know. They rushed to the shore, and there they saw on the sea the people of the Fiti-nui, who called to them and said that they were going far away.

“Then the Hana-uaua tribe wept. For they remembered that they were brothers, and though they had fought long, the warriors of Fiti-nui had been good fighters and brave. Also many Fiti-nui women had been taken by the men of Hana-uaua, and captured youths had been adopted, and the tribes were kin by many ties.

“The two tribes talked together across the waves, and the tribe of Hana-uaua begged their brothers not to go. They said that they would fight no more, that the prisoners who had not been eaten should be returned to their own valley, that the two clans would live forever in friendship.

“Then the people of Fiti-nui wept again, but they said that the gods had ordered them to sail away, and they must go.

“‘But,’ said the chief of the Fiti-nui, ‘you will know that we have reached a new land safely when the Meae-Topaiho falls, when the great spear is broken by the gods, you will know that your brothers are in a new home.’

“Then they departed, the four canoes, but the daughter of the chief did not go, for her child was long in being born. She lived with the people of Hana-uaua in peace and comfort. And when the season of the breadfruit had come and gone, one night when the rain and the wind made the earth tremble and slip, the people of Hana-uaua heard a roaring and a crashing.

“‘The gods are angry,’ they said. But the daughter of the chief said, ‘My people have found their home.’ And in the morning they found that the Meae-Topaiho had fallen, the blade of the spear was broken, and the prophecy fulfilled.

“That was four generations ago, and ever since that time the people of Hana-uaua have looked for some sign from their brothers who went away. Their names were kept in the memories of the tribe. Ten years ago many men were brought here to work on the plantations, from Puka-Puka and Na-Puka in the Paumotas, and they talked with the people.

Aue! They were the children's children of the Piina of Fiti-nui. In those low islands to which their fathers and mothers went, they kept the words and the names of old. They had kept the memory of the journey. And one old man was brought by his son, and he remembered all that his father had told him, and his father was the son of the chief, Atituahuei.

“These people did not look like our men. The many years had made them different. But they knew of the spear rock, and of the prophecy, and they were in truth the lost brothers of the Hana-uaua people.

“But the Hana-uaua people, too, were dying now. None was left of the blood of the chief's daughter. No man was left alive on the plateau of Ahao.

“Their popoi pits are the wallows of the wild boar; on their paepaes sit the wild white dogs. The horned cattle wander where they walked. Hee i te fenua ke! They are gone, and the stranger shall have their graves.”




A feast to the men of Motopu; the making of kava, and its drinking; the story of the Girl Who Lost Her Strength.

The Vagabond, Kivi, who lived near the High Place, came down to my paepae one evening to bid me come to a feast given in Atuona Valley to the men of Motopu, who had been marvelously favored by the god of the sea.

Months of storms, said Kivi, had felled many a stately palm of Taka-Uka and washed thousands of ripe cocoanuts into the bay, whence the current that runs swift across the channel had swept the fruitage of the winds straight to the inlet of Motopu, on the island of Tahuata. The men of that village, with little effort to themselves, had reaped richly.

Now they were come, bringing back the copra dried and sacked. Seven hundred francs they had received for a ton of it from Kriech, the German merchant of Taka-Uka, from whose own groves it had been stolen by the storms.

On the morrow, their canoes laden with his goods, they would sail homeward. One day they had tarried to raft redwood planks of California from the schooner in the bay to the site of Kivi's new house. So that night in gratitude he would make merry for them. There would be much to eat, and there would be kava in plenty. He prayed that I would join them in this feast, which would bring back the good days of the kava-drinking, which were now almost forgotten.

Kivi, the kava drinker with the hetairae of the valley

A pool in the jungle

I rose gladly from the palm-shaded mat on which I had lain vainly hoping for a breath of coolness in the close heat of the day, and girded the red pareu more neatly about my loins. Often I had heard of the kava-drinking days before the missionaries had insisted on outlawing that drink beloved of the natives. The traders had added their power to the virtuous protests of the priests, for kava cost the islanders nothing, while rum, absinthe, and opium could be sold them for profit. So kava-drinking had been suppressed, and after decades of knowing more powerful stimulants and narcotics, the natives had lost their taste for the gentler beverage of their forefathers.

The French law prohibited selling, exchanging, or giving to any Marquesan any alcoholic beverage. But the law was a dead letter, for only with rum and wine could work be urged upon the Marquesans, and I failed to reprove them even in my mind for their love of drink. One who has not seen a dying race cannot conceive of the prostration of spirit in which these people are perishing. That they are courteous and hospitable—and that to the white who has ruined them—shows faintly their former joy in life and their abounding generosity. Now that no hope is left them and their only future is death, one cannot blame them for seizing a few moment's forgetfulness.

Some years earlier, in the first bitterness of hopeless subjugation, whole populations were given over to drunkenness. In many valleys the chiefs lead in the making of the illicit namu enata, or cocoanut-brandy. In the Philippines, where millions of gallons of cocoanut-brandy are made, it is called tuba, but usually its name is arrack throughout tropical Asia. Fresh from the flower spathes of the cocoanut-tree, namu tastes like a very light, creamy beer or mead. It is delicious and refreshing, and only slightly intoxicating. Allowed to ferment and become sour, it is all gall. Its drinking then is divided into two episodes—swallowing and intoxication. There is no interval. “Forty-rod” whiskey is mild compared to it.

I had seen the preparation of namu, which is very simple. The native mounts the tree and makes incisions in the flowers, of which each palm bears from three to six. He attaches a calabash under them and lets the juice drip all day and night. The process is slow, as the juice falls drop by drop. This operation may be repeated indefinitely with no injury to the tree. In countries where the liquor is gathered to sell in large quantities, the natives tie bamboo poles from tree to tree, so that an agile man will run through the forest tending the calabashes, emptying them into larger receptacles, and lowering these to the ground, all without descending from his lofty height.

The namu when stale causes the Marquesans to revert to wickedest savagery, and has incited many murders. Under the eye of the gendarme its making ceases, but a hundred valleys have no white policemen, and the half score of people remaining amid their hundreds of ruined paepaes give themselves over to intoxication. I have seen a valley immersed in it, men and women madly dancing the ancient nude dances in indescribable orgies of abandonment and bestiality.

Namu enata means literally “man booze.” The Persian-Arabic word, nam, or narm-keffi, means “the liquid from the palm flower.” From this one might think that Asia had taught the Marquesans the art of making namu during their prehistoric pilgrimage to the islands, but the discoverers and early white residents in Polynesia saw no drunkenness save that of the kava-drinking. It was the European, or the Asiatic brought by the white, who introduced comparatively recently the more vicious cocoanut-brandy, as well as rum and opium, and it is these drinks that have been a potent factor in killing the natives.

It has ever been thus with men of other races subjugated by the whites. Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography tells that when he was a commissioner to the Indians at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he and his fellow-commissioners agreed that they would allow the Indians no rum until the treaty they earnestly sought was concluded, and that then they should have plenty.

He pictures an all-night debauch of the red men after they had signed the treaty, and concludes: “And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.”

It was not for me to speculate upon the designs of Providence with respect to the Marquesans. Kava had been the drink ordained by the old gods before the white men came. Its making was now almost a lost art; I knew no white man who had ever drunk from the kava-bowl. So it was with some eagerness that I followed Kivi down the trail.

Broken Plate, a sturdy savage in English cloth cap and whale's-teeth earrings, stood waiting for us in the road below the House of the Golden Bed, and together the three of us went in search of the kava bush. While we followed the narrow trail up the mountain-side, peering through masses of tangled vines and shrubs for the large, heart-shaped leaves and jointed stalks we sought, Kivi spoke with passion of the degenerate days in which he lived.

Let others secretly make incisions in the flower of the cocoanut and hang calabashes to catch the juice, said he. Or let them crook the hinges of the knee that rum might follow fawning on the whites. Not he! The drink of his fathers, the drink of his youth, was good enough for him! Agilely he caught aside a leafy branch overhanging the trail, and in the flecks of sunshine and shade his naked, strong brown limbs were like the smooth stems of an aged manzanita tree.

He had not the scaly skin or the bloodshot eyes of the kava debauchee, whose excesses paint upon their victim their own vivid signs. I remembered a figure caught by the rays of my flashlight one might on a dark trail—a withered creature whose whole face and body had turned a dull green, and at the memory of that grisly phantom I shuddered. But Broken Plate, on the trail ahead, called back to us that he had found a goodly bush, and without more words we clambered to it.

The kava, a variety of the pepper-plant, grows to more than six feet in height, and the specimen we had found thrust above our heads its many jointed branches rustling with large, flat leaves. The decoction, Kivi explained, comes from the root, and we set to work to dig it.

It was huge, like a gigantic yam, and after we had torn it from the stubborn soil it taxed the strength and agility of two of us to carry it to the paepae of Broken Plate, where the feast was to be. A dozen older women, skilled in grating the breadfruit for popoi making, awaited us there, squatting in a ring on the low platform. The root, well washed in the river, was laid on the stones, and the women attacked it with cowry-shells, scraping it into particles like slaw. It was of the hardness of ginger, and filled a large tanoa, or wooden trough of ironwood.

The scraping had hardly well begun, while Broken Plate and I rested from our labors, smoking pandanus-leaf cigarettes in the shade, when up the road came half a dozen of the most beautiful young girls of the village, clothed in all their finery.

Teata, with all the arrogance of the acclaimed beauty, walked first, wearing a tight-fitting gown with insertions of fishnet, evidently copied from some stray fashion-book. She wore it as her only garment, and through the wide meshes of the novel lace appeared her skin, of the tint of the fresh-cooked breadfruit. She passed us with a coquettish toss of her shapely head and took her place among her envious companions.

They sat on mats around the iron-wood trough and chewed the grated root, which, after thorough mastication, they spat out into banana-leaf cups. This chewing of the Aram-root is the very being of kava as a beverage, for it is a ferment in the saliva that separates alkaloid and sugar and liberates the narcotic principle. Only the healthiest and loveliest of the girls are chosen to munch the root, that delectable and honored privilege being refused to those whose teeth are not perfect and upon whose cheeks the roses do not bloom.

Nevertheless, as I smoked at ease in my pareu upon the paepae of my simple hosts I felt some misgivings rise in me. Yet why cavil at the vehicle by which one arrives at Nirvana? Had I not tasted the chicha beer of the Andes, and found it good? And vague analogies and surmises floated before me in the curls of smoke that rose in the clear evening light.

What hidden clue to the remotest beginnings of the human race lies in the fact that two peoples, so far apart as the Marquesans and the South American Indians, use the same method of making their native beverage? In the Andes corn takes the place of the kava root, and young girls, descendants of the ancient Incas, chew the grains, sitting in a circle and with a certain ceremoniousness, as among these Marquesans. The Marquesas Islands are on the same parallel of latitude as Peru. Were these two peoples once one race, living on that long-sunken continent in which Darwin believed?

Dusk fell slowly while I pondered on the mysteries in which our life is rooted, and on the unknown beginnings and forgotten significances of all human customs. The iron-wood trough was filled with the masticated root, and in groups and in couples the girls slipped away to bathe in the river. There they were met by arriving guests, and the sound of laughter and splashing came up to us as darkness closed upon the paepae and the torches were lit.

Lights were coming out like stars up the dark valley as each household made its vesper fire to roast breadfruit or broil fish, and lanterns were hung upon the bamboo palisades that marked the limits of property or confined favorite pigs. A cool breeze rose and rustled the fronds of cocoanut and bamboo, bringing from forest depths a clean, earthy odor.

The last bather came from the brook, refreshed by the cooling waters and adorned with flowers. All were in a merry mood for food and fun. Half a dozen flaring torches illuminated their happy, tattooed faces and dusky bodies, and caught color from the vivid blossoms in their hair. The ring of light made blacker the rustling cocoanut grove, the lofty trees of which closed in upon us on every side.

Under the gaze of many sparkling eyes Kivi pierced green cocoanuts brought him fresh from the climbing, and poured the cool wine of them over the masticated kava. He mixed it thoroughly and then with his hands formed balls of the oozy mass, from which he squeezed the juice into another tanoa glazed a deep, rich blue by its frequent saturation in kava. When this trough was quite full of a muddy liquid, he deftly clarified it by sweeping through it a net of cocoanut fiber. All the while he chanted in a deep resonant voice the ancient song of the ceremony.

U haanoho ia te kai, a tapapa ia te kai!” he called with solemnity when the last rite was performed. “Come to supper; all is ready.”

Menike,” he said to me, “You know that to drink kava you must be of empty stomach. After eating, kava will make you sick. If you do not eat as soon as you have drunk it, you will not enjoy it. Take it now, and then eat, quickly.”

He dipped a shell in the trough, tossed a few drops over his shoulder to propitiate the god of the kava-drinking, and placed the shell in my hands.

Ugh! The liquor tasted like earth and water, sweetish for a moment and then acrid and pungent. It was hard to get down, but all the men took theirs at a gulp, and when Kivi gave me another shellful, I followed their pattern.

Kai! Kai. Eat! Eat!” Kivi shouted then. The women hurried forward with the food, and we fell to with a will. Pig and popoi, shark sweetbreads, roasted breadfruit and sweet potatoes, fruits and cocoanut-milk leaped from the broad leaf platters to wide-open mouths. Hardly a word was spoken. The business of eating proceeded rapidly, in silence, save for the night-rustling of the palms and the soft sound of the women's hastening bare feet.

Only, as he saw any slackening, Kivi repeated vigorously, “Kai! Kai!

I sat with my back against the wall of the house of Broken Plate, as I ate quickly at the mandate of my host, and soon I felt the need of this support. The feast finished, the guests reclined upon the mats. Women and children were devouring the remnants left upon the leaf platters. The torches had been extinguished, all but one. Its flickering gleam fell upon the aged face of Kivi, and the whites of his eyes caught and reflected the light. The tattooing that framed them appeared like black holes from which the sparks glinted uncannily, and the kava mounting to his brain or to mine gave those sparks a ghastliness that fascinated me in my keen, somnolent state.

From the shadows where the women crouched the face of Teata rose like an eerie flower. She had adorned the two long black plaits of her hair with the brilliant phosphorescence of Ear of the Ghost Woman, the strange fungus found on old trees, a favored evening adornment of the island belles. The handsome flowers glowed about her bodiless head like giant butterflies, congruous jewels for such a temptress of such a frolic. The mysterious light added a gleam to her velvet cheek and neck that made her seem like the ghost-woman of old legend, created to lead the unwary to intoxicated death.

The palaver came to me out of the darkness, like voices from a phonograph-horn, thin and far away. One told the tale of Tahiapepae, the Girl Who Lost Her Strength.

Famine had come upon Atuona Valley. Children died of hunger on the paepaes, and the breasts of mothers shrunk so that they gave forth no milk. Therefore the warriors set forth in the great canoes for Motopu. Meat was the cry, and there was no other meat than puaa oa, the “long pig.”

Then in the darkness the hungry fighting men of Atuona silently beached their canoes and crept upon the sleeping village of Motopu. Seven were killed before they could fly to the hills, and one was captured alive, a slender, beautiful girl of ten years, whom they tied hands and feet and threw into the canoe with the slain ones.

Back they came from their triumph, and landed on the shore here, within spear's-throw from the paepae of Broken Plate. Their people met them with drum-beating and with chanting, bringing rose-wood poles for carrying the meat. The living girl was slung over the shoulder of the leader, still bound and weeping, and in single file heroes and their people marched up the trail past the Catholic mission. Tohoaa, Great Sea Slug, chief of Atuona and grandfather of Flag, the gendarme, was foremost, and over his massive shoulder hung the Girl Who Had Lost Her Strength.

Then from the mission came Père Orens, crucifix in hand. Tall he stood in his garment of black, facing the Great Sea Slug, and lifting on high his hand with the crucifix in it. Père Orens had been made tapu by Great Sea Slug, to whom he had explained the wonders of the world, and given many presents. To touch him was death, for Great Sea Slug had given him a feast and put upon him the white tapa, emblem of sacredness.

Powerful was the god of Père Orens, and could work magic. In his pocket he carried always a small god, that day and night said “Mika! Mika!” and moved tiny arms around and around a plate of white metal. This man stood now before the Great Sea Slug, and the chief paused, while his hungry people came closer that they might hear what befell.

“Where are you going?” said Père Orens.

“To Pekia, the High Place, to cook and eat,” said Great Sea Slug. Then for a space Père Orens remained silent, holding high the crucifix, and the chief heard from his pocket the voice of the small god speaking.

“Give to me that small piece of living meat,” said Père Orens then.

Me mamai oe. If it is your pleasure, take it,” said Great Sea Slug. “It is a trifle. We have enough, and there is more in Motopu.”

With these words he placed his burden upon the shoulder of the priest, and heading his band again led them past the mission, over the river and to the High Place, where all night long the drums beat at the feasting.

But The Girl Who Lost Her Strength remained in the house of Père Orens, who cut her bonds, fed her, and nursed her to strength again. Baptized and instructed in the religion of her savior, she was secretly returned to her surviving relatives. There she lived to a good age, and died four years ago, grateful always to the God that had preserved her from the oven.

He who spoke was her son, and here at the kava bowl together were the men of Motopu and the men of Atuona, enemies no longer.

The voice of the Motopu man died away. A ringing came in my ears as when one puts a seashell to them and hears the drowsy murmur of the tides. My cigarette fell from my fingers. A sirocco blew upon me, hot, stifling. Kivi laughed, and dimly I heard his inquiry:

Veavea? Is it hot?”

E, mahanahana. I am very warm,” I struggled to reply.

My voice sounded as that of another. I leaned harder against the wall and closed my eyes.

“He goes fast,” said Broken Plate, gladly.

A peace passing the understanding of the kava-ignorant was upon me. Life was a slumbrous calm; not dull inertia, but a separated activity, as if the spirit roamed in a garden of beauty, and the body, all suffering, all feeling past, resigned itself to quietude.

I heard faintly the chants of the men as they began improvising the after-feasting entertainment. I was perfectly aware of being lifted by several women to within the house, and of being laid upon mats that were as soft to my body as the waters of a quiet sea. It was as if angels bore me on a cloud. All toil, all effort was over; I should never return to care and duty. Dimly I saw a peri waving a fan, making a breeze scented with ineffable fragrance.

I was then a giant, prone in an endless ease, who stretched from the waterfall at the topmost point of the valley to the shore of the sea, and about me ran in many futile excitements the natives of Atuona, small creatures whose concerns were naught to me.

That vision melted after eons, and I was in the Oti dance in the Paumotas, where those old women who pose and move by the music of the drums, in the light of the burning cocoanut husks, leap into the air and remain so long that the white man thinks he sees the law of gravitation overcome, remaining fixed in space three or four feet from the ground while one's heart beats madly and one's brain throbs in bewilderment. I was among these aged women; I surpassed them all, and floated at will upon the ether in an eternal witches' dance of more than human delight.

The orchestra of nature began a symphony of celestial sounds. The rustling of the palm-leaves, the purling of the brook, and the song of the komoko, nightingale of the Marquesas, mingled in music sweeter to my kava-ravished ears than ever the harp of Apollo upon Mount Olympus. The chants of the natives were a choir of voices melodious beyond human imaginings. Life was good to its innermost core; there was no struggle, no pain, only an eternal harmony of joy.

I slept eight hours, and when I awoke I saw, in the bright oblong of sunlight outside the open door, Kivi squeezing some of the root of evil for a hair of the hound that had bitten him.

The Pekia, or Place of Sacrifice, at Atuona

Marquesan cannibals, wearing dress of human hair




A journey to Taaoa; Kahuiti, the cannibal chief, and his story of an old war caused by an unfaithful woman.

It was a chance remark from Mouth of God that led me to take a journey over the hills to the valley of Taaoa, south of Atuona. Malicious Gossip and her husband, squatting one evening on my mats in the light of the stars, spoke of the Marquesan custom in naming children.

“When a babe is born,” said Mouth of God, “all the intimates of his parents, their relatives and friends, bestow a name upon the infant. All these names refer to experiences of the child's ancestors, or of the namers, or of their ancestors. My wife's names—a few of them—are Tavahi Teikimoetetua Tehaupiimouna. These words are separate, having no relation one to another, and they mean Malicious Gossip, She Sleeps with God, The Golden Dews of the Mountain.

“My first three names are Vahatetua Heeafia Timeteo. Vahatetua is Mouth of God; Heeafia, One Who Looks About, and Timeteo is Marquesan for Timothee, the Bible writer.

“My uncle, the Catechist, is Tioakoekoe, Man Whose Entrails Were Roasted on a Stick, and his brother is called Pootuhatuha, meaning Sliced and Distributed. That is because their father, Tufetu, was killed at the Stinking Springs in Taaoa, and was cooked and sent all over that valley. You should see that man who killed him, Kahuiti! He is a great man, and strong still, though old. He likes the 'long pig' still, also. It is not long since he dug up the corpse of one buried, and ate it in the forest.”

When I said that I should indeed like to see that man, Mouth of God said that he would send a word of introduction that should insure for me the friendliness of the chief who had devoured his grandfather. Mouth of God bore the diner no ill-will. The eating was a thing accomplished in the past; the teachings of that stern Calvinist, his mother, forbade that he should eat Kahuiti in retaliation, therefore their relations were amicable.

The following morning, attended by the faithful Exploding Eggs, I set out toward Taaoa Valley. The way was all up and down, five miles, wading through marshy places and streams, parting the jungle, caught by the thorns and dripping with sweat. Miles of it was through cocoanut forests owned by the mission.

The road followed the sea and climbed over a lofty little cape, Otupoto, from which the coast of Hiva-oa, as it curves eastward, was unrolled, the valleys mysterious caverns in the torn, convulsed panorama, gloomy gullies suggestive of the old bloody days. Above them the mountains caught the light and shone green or black under the cloudless blue sky. Seven valleys we counted, the distant ones mere faint shadows in the expanse of varied green, divided by the rocky headlands. To the right, as we faced the sea, was the point of Teaehoa jutting out into the great blue plain of the ocean, and landward we looked down on the Valley of Taaoa.

This was the middle place, the scene of Tufetu's violent end. A great splotch of red gleamed as a blot of blood on the green floor of the hollow.

Vai piau!” said Exploding Eggs. He made a sign of lifting water in his hands, of tasting and spitting it out. The Stinking Springs where Tufetu was slain!

They were in a fantastic gorge, through which ran a road blasted from solid rock, stained brown and blue by the minerals in the water that bubbled there and had carved the stone in eccentric patterns. Bicarbonate of soda and sulphur thickened the heavy air and encrusted the edges of the spring with yellow scum. A fitting scene for a deadly battle, amid smells of sulphur and brimstone! But it was no place in which to linger on a tropic day.

Taaoa Valley was narrow and deep, buried in perpetual gloom by the shadows of the mountains. Perhaps thirty houses lined the banks of a swift and rocky torrent. As we approached them we were met by a sturdy Taaoan, bare save for the pareu and handsomely tattooed. His name, he said, was Strong in Battle, and I, a stranger, must see first of all a tree of wonder that lay in the forest nearby.

Through brush and swamp we searched for it, past scores of ruined paepaes, homes of the long-dead thousands. We found it at length, a mighty tree felled to the earth and lying half-buried in vine and shrub.

“This tree is older than our people,” said Strong in Battle, mournfully regarding its prostrate length. “No man ever remembered its beginning. It was like a house upon a hill, so high and big. Our forefathers worshipped their gods under it. The white men cut it to make planks. That was fifty years ago, but the wood never dies. There is no wood like it in the Marquesas. The wise men say that it will endure till the last of our race is gone.”

I felt the end of the great trunk, where the marks of the axe and saw still showed, and struck it with my fist. The wood did indeed seem hard as iron, though it seemed not to be petrified. So far as I could ascertain from the fallen trunk, it was of a species I had never seen.

“Twenty years ago I brought a man of Peretane (England) here to see this tree, and he cut off a piece to take away. No white man has looked on it since that time,” said Strong in Battle. He brought an axe from a man who was dubbing out a canoe from a breadfruit log, and hacked away a chip for me.

We returned to the village and entered an enclosure in which a group of women were squatting around a popoi bowl.

“What does the Menike seek?” they asked.

“He wants to see the footprint of Hoouiti,” said my guide.

On one of the stones of the paepae was a footprint, perfect from heel to toe, and evidently not artificially made.

“Hoouiti stood here when he hurled his spear across the island,” said Strong in Battle. “He was not a big man, as you see by his foot's mark.”

“Fifteen kilometers! A long hurling of a spear,” said I.

Aue! he was very strong. He lived on this paepae. These whom you see are his children's children. Would you like to meet my wife's father-in-law, Kahuiti? He has eaten many people. He talks well.”

Eo! Would I! I vowed that I would be honored by the acquaintance of any of the relatives of my host, and specially I desired to converse with old, wise men of good taste.

“That man, Kahauiti, has seen life,” said Strong in Battle. “I am married to the sister of Great Night Moth, who was a very brave and active man, but now foolish. But Kahauiti! O! O! O! Ai! Ai! Ai! There he is.”

I never solved the puzzle of my informant's relation to the man who was his wife's father-in-law, for suddenly I saw the man himself, and knew that I was meeting a personage. Kahauiti was on the veranda of a small hut, sitting Turk fashion, and chatting with another old man. Both of them were striking-looking, but, all in all, I thought Kahauiti the most distinguished man in appearance that I had seen, be it in New York or Cairo, London or Pekin.

He had that indefinable, yet certain, air of superiority, of assured position and knowledge, that stamps a few men in the world—a Yuan Shih Kai, Rabindranath Tagore, Sitting Bull, and Porfirio Diaz. He wore only a pareu, and was tattooed from toenails to hair-roots. A solid mass of coloring extended from his neck to the hip on the left side, as though he wore half of a blue shirt. The tahuna who had done the work seemed to have drawn outlines and then blocked in the half of his torso. But remembering that every pin-point of color had meant the thrust of a bone needle propelled by the blow of a mallet, I realized that Kahauiti had endured much for his decorations. No iron or Victoria Cross could cost more suffering.

The bare half of his bosom, cooperish-red, contrasted with this cobalt, and his face was striped alternately with this natural color and with blue. Two inches of the ama ink ran across the eyes from ear to ear, covering every inch of lid and eyebrow, and from this seeming bandage his eyes gleamed with quick and alert intelligence. Other stripes crossed the face from temple to chin, the lowest joining the field of blue that stretched to his waist.

His beard, long, heavy, and snow-white, swept downward over the indigo flesh and was gathered into a knot on his massive chest. It was the beard of a prophet or a seer, and when Kahauiti rose to his full height, six feet and a half, he was as majestic as a man in diadem and royal robes. He had a giant form, like one of Buonarroti's ancients, muscular and supple, graceful and erect.

When I was presented as a Menike who loved the Marquesans and who, having heard of Kahauiti, would drink of his fountain of recollections, the old man looked at me intently. His eyes twinkled and he opened his mouth in a broad smile, showing all his teeth, sound and white. His smile was kindly, disarming, of a real sweetness that conquered me immediately, so that, foolishly perhaps, I would have trusted him if he had suggested a stroll in the jungle.

He took my extended hand, but did not shake it. So new is handshaking and so foreign to their ideas of greeting, that they merely touch fingers, with the pressure a rich man gives a poor relation, or a king, a commoner. His affability was that of a monarch to a courtier, but when he began to talk he soon became simple and merry.

Motioning me to a seat on the mat before him, he squatted again in a dignified manner, and resumed his task of plaiting a rope of faufee bark, a rope an inch thick and perfectly made.

“Mouth of God, of the family of Sliced and Distributed and Man Whose Entrails Were Roasted On A Stick, has told me of the slaying of Tufetu, their ancestor,” I ventured, to steer our bark of conversation into the channel I sought.

At the names of the first three, Kahauiti smiled, but when Tufetu was mentioned, he broke into a roar. I had evidently recalled proud memories. On his haunches, he slid nearer to me.

Afu! Afu! Afu!” he said, the sound that in his tongue means the groan of the dying. “You came by the Fatueki?”.

“I tasted the water and smelled the smell,” I answered.

“It was there that Tufetu died,” he observed. “I struck the blow, and I ate his arm, his right arm, for he was brave and strong. That was a war!”

“What caused that war?” I asked the merry cannibal.

“A woman, haa teketeka, an unfaithful woman, as always,” replied Kahauiti. “Do you have trouble over women in your island? Yes. It is the same the world over. There was peace between Atuona and Taaoa before this trouble. When I was a boy we were good friends. We visited across the hills. Many children were adopted, and Taaoa men took women from Atuona, and Atuona men from here. Some of these women had two or three or five men. One husband was the father of her children in title and pride, though he might be no father at all. The others shared the mat with her at her will, but had no possession or happiness in the offspring.

Tepu, a Marquesan girl of the hills, and her sister
Her ancestry is tattooed on her arms

A tattooed Marquesan with carved canoe paddle

“Now Pepehi (Beaten to Death) was of Taaoa, but lived in Atuona with a woman. He had followed her over the hills and lived in her house. He was father to her children. There was a man of Atuona, Kaheutahi, who was husband to her, but of lower rank. He was not father to her children. Therefore one night he swung his war-club upon the head of Beaten to Death, and later invited a number of friends to the feast.”

Kahuiti smiled gently upon me. Take off his tattooing, make him white, and clothe him! With his masterful carriage, his soft, cultivated voice, and his attitude of absolutism, he might have been Leopold, King of the Belgians, a great ambassador, a man of power in finance. Nevertheless, I thought of the death by the Stinking Springs. How could one explain his benign, open-souled deportment and his cheery laugh, with such damnable appetites and actions? Yet generals send ten thousand men to certain and agonized death to gain a point toward a goal; that is the custom of generals, by which they gain honor among their people.

“Killed by the war-club of Kaheutahi and eaten by his friends, Beaten to Death was but a ghost, and Kaheutahi took his place and became father of the children of the house. He said they were his in fact, but men were ever boastful.”

The other old man, who said nothing, but was all attention, lit a pipe and passed it to Kahuiti, who puffed it a moment and passed it to Strong in Battle. The tale lapsed for a smoking spell.

“Beaten to Death perished by the club? He was well named,” said I. “His father was a prophet.”

Kahuiti began to chant in a weird monotone.

Va! Va! A tahi a ta! Va! A tahi va! A ua va! A tou va!” was his chant. “Thus said the war-club as it crashed on the skull of Beaten to Death. That is the speech of the war-club when it strikes. The bones of Beaten to Death were fishhooks before we knew of his death. All Taaoa was angry. The family of Beaten to Death demanded vengeance. The priest went into the High Place, and when he came out he ran all day up and down the valley, until he fell foaming. War was the cry of the gods, war against Atuona.

“But there was too much peace between us, too many men with Atuona women, too many Atuona children adopted by Taaoa women. The peace was happy, and there was no great warrior to urge.”

“You had brave men and strong men then,” I said, with a sigh for the things I had missed by coming late.

Tuitui! You put weeds in my mouth!” exclaimed Kahuiti. “I cannot talk with your words. Ue te etau! By the great god of the dead! I am born before the French beached a canoe in the Marquesas. Our gods were gods then, but they turned to wood and stone when the tree-guns of the Farani roared and threw iron balls and fire into our valleys. The Christian god was greater than our gods, and a bigger killer of men.”

“But Beaten to Death—?” I urged.

“Beaten to Death was in the stomachs of the men of Atuona, and they laughed at us. Our High Priest said that the Euututuki, the most private god of the priests, commanded us to avenge the eating of Beaten to Death. But the season of preserving the mei in pits was upon us. Also the women of Atuona among us said that there should be peace, and the women of Taaoa who had taken as their own many children from Atuona. Therefore we begged the most high gods to excuse us.”

“Women had much power then,” I said.

Kahuiti chuckled.

“The French god and the priests of the Farani have taken it from them,” he commented. “I have known the day when women ruled. She had her husbands,—two, four, five. She commanded. She would send two to the fishing, one to gathering cocoanuts or wood, one she would keep to amuse her. They came and went as she said. That was mea pe! Sickening! Pee! There are not enough men to make a woman happy. Many brave men have died to please their woman, but—” He blew out his breath in contempt.

Strong in Battle said aside, in French:

“He was never second in the house. Kahauiti despised such men. He was first always.”

“So the slaying of Beaten to Death was unavenged?” I asked.

Epo! Do not drink the cocoanut till you have descended the tree! I have said the warriors were withheld by the women, and there was no great man to lead. Yet the drums beat at night, and the fighting men came. You know how the drums speak?”

His face clouded, and his eyes flashed against their foil of tattooing.

“'Ohe te pepe! Ohe te pepe! Ohe te pepe!' said the drum called Peepee. 'Titiutiuti! Titiutiuti!' said the drum called Umi. Aue! Then the warriors came! They stood in the High Place at the head of the valley. Mehitete, the chief, spoke to them. He said that they should go to Atuona, and bring back bodies for feasting. Many nights the drums beat, and the chief talked much, but there was no war.

“The High Priest went to the Pekia again, and when he came away he ran without stopping for two days and a night, till he fell without breath, as one dead, and foam was on his mouth. The gods were angry. Still there was no war.

“Then came Tomefitu from Vait-hua. He was chief of that valley, having been adopted by a woman of Vait-hua, but his father and his mother were of Taaoa. He had heard of the slaying of Beaten to Death, his kinsman, and he was hot in the bowels. Aue! The thunder of the heavens was as the voice of Tomefitu when angered. The earth groaned where he walked. He knew the Farani and their tricks. He had guns from the whalers, and he was afraid of nothing save the Ghost Woman of the Night. Again the warriors came to the High Place, and now there were many drums.”

Kahuiti sprang to his feet. He struck the corner post of the hut with his fist. His eyes burned.

“‘Kaputuhe! Kaputuhe! Kaputuhe!
 Teputuhe! Teputuhe! Teputuhe!
 Tuti! Tuti! Tutuituiti!’”

“That was what the war drums said. The sound of them rolled from the Pekia, and every man who could throw a spear or hold a war-club came to their call.”

Kahuiti's soul was rapt in the story. His voice had the deep tone of the violoncello, powerful, vibrant, and colorful. He had lived in that strange past, and the things he recalled were precious memories.

The sound of the drums, as he echoed them in the curious tone-words of Marquesan, thrilled me through. I heard the booming of the ten-foot war-drums, their profound and far-reaching call like the roaring of lions in the jungle. I saw the warriors with their spears of cocoanut-wood and their deadly clubs of ironwood carved and shining with oil, their baskets of polished stones slung about their waists, and their slings of fiber, dancing in the sacred grove of the Pekia, its shadows lighted by the blaze of the flickering candlenuts and the scented sandalwood.

“‘I am The Wind That Lays Low The Mighty Tree. I am The Wave That Fills The Canoe and Delivers The People To The Sharks!’ said Tomefitu. ‘The flesh of my kinsman fills the bellies of the men of Atuona, and the gods say war!

“‘There is war!’ said Tomefitu. ‘We must bring offerings to the gods. Five men will go with me to Otoputo and bring back the gifts. I will bring back to you the bodies of six of the Atuona pigs. Prepare! When we have eaten, the chiefs of Atuona will come to Taaoa, and then you will fight!

“‘Make ready with dancing. Polish spears and gather stones for the slings. Koe, who is my man, will be obeyed while I am gone. I have spoken,’ said Tomefitu. That night Tomefitu and I, with four others, went silently to Otoputo, the dividing rock that looks down on the right into the valley of Taaoa and on the left into Atuona. There we lay among rocks and bushes and spied upon the feet of the enemy. That man who separated himself from others and came our way to seek food, or to visit at the house of a friend, him we secretly fell upon, and slew.

“Thus we did to the six named by Tomefitu, and as we killed them, we sent them back by others to the High Place. There the warriors feasted upon them and gained strength for battle.

“Then, missing so many of their clan, the head men of Atuona came to Otoputo, and shouted to us to give word of the absent. We shouted back, saying that those men had been roasted upon the fire and eaten, and that thus we would do to all men of Atuona. And we laughed at them.”

Kahuiti emitted a hearty guffaw at thought of the trick played upon those devoured enemies.

“But Tufetu, the grandfather of my friend Mouth of God?” I persisted.

Epo! There was war. The men of Atuona gathered at Otupoto, and rushed down upon us. We met them at the Stinking Springs, and there I killed Tufetu, uncle of Sliced and Distributed and Man Whose Entrails Were Roasted On A Stick. I pierced him through with my spear at a cocoanut-tree's length away. I was the best spear-thrower of Taaoa. We drove the Atuonans through the gorge of the Stinking Springs and over the divide, and I ate the right arm of Tufetu that had wielded the war-club. That gives a man the strength of his enemy.”

He turned again to plaiting the rope of faufee.

O ia aneihe, I have finished,” he said. “Will you drink kava?”

“No, I will not drink kava,” I said sternly. “Kahuiti, is it not good that the eating of men is stopped?”

The majestic chief looked at me, his deep brown eyes looking child-like in their band of blue ink. For ten seconds he stared at me fixedly, and then smiled uncertainly, as may have Peter the fisherman when he was chided for cutting off the ear of one of Judas' soldiers. He was of the old order, and the new had left him unchanged. He did not reply to my question, but sipped his bowl of kava.




The crime of Huahine for love of Weaver of Mats; story of Tahia's white man who was eaten; the disaster that befell Honi, the white man who used his harpoon against his friends.

During my absence in Taaoa there had been crime and scandal in my own valley. André Bauda met me on the beach road as I returned and told me the tale. The giant Tahitian sailor of the schooner Papeite, Huahine, was in the local jail, charged with desertion; a serious offense, to which his plea was love of a woman, and that woman Weaver of Mats, who had her four names tattooed on her right arm.

Huahine, seeing her upon the beach, had felt a flame of love that nerved him to risk hungry shark and battering surf. Carried from her even in the moment of meeting, he had resisted temptation until the schooner was sailing outside the Bay of Traitors, running before a breeze to the port of Tai-o-hae, and then he had flung himself naked into the sea and taken the straight course back to Atuona, reaching his sweetheart after a seven-hour's struggle with current and breaker. Flag, the gendarme, found him in her hut, and brought him to the calaboose.

The following morning I attended his trial. He came before his judge elegantly dressed, for, besides a red pareu about his middle, he wore a pink silk shawl over his shoulders. Both were the gift of Weaver of Mats, as he had come to her without scrip or scrap. He needed little clothing, as his skin was very brown and his strong body magnificent.

He was an acceptable prisoner to Bauda, who had charge of the making and repair of roads and bridges, so Huahine was quickly sentenced and put to work with others who were paying their taxes by labor. Weaver of Mats moved with him to the prison, where they lived together happily, cooking their food in the garden and sleeping on mats beneath the palms.

On all the paepaes it was said that Huahine would probably be sent to Tahiti, as there are strict laws against deserting ships and against vagabondage in the Marquesas. Meantime the prisoner was happy. Many a Tahitian and white sailor gazes toward these islands as a haven from trouble, and in Huahine's exploit I read the story of many a poor white who in the early days cast away home and friends and arduous toil to dwell here in a breadfruity harem.

“There is a tale told long ago by a man of Hanamenu to a traveler named Christian,” I said to Haabunai, the carver, while we sat rolling pandanus cigarettes in the cool of the evening. “It runs thus:

“Some thirty years ago a sailor from a trading schooner that had put into the bay for sandalwood was badly treated by his skipper, who refused him shore-leave. So, his bowels hot with anger, this sailor determined to desert his hard and unthanked toil, wed some island heiress, and live happy ever after. Therefore one evening he swam ashore, found a maid to his liking, and was hidden by her until the ship departed.

“Now Tahia was a good wife, and loved her beautiful white man; all that a wife could do she did, cooking his food, bathing his feet, rolling cigarettes for him all day long as he lay upon the mats. But her father in time became troubled, and there was grumbling among the people, for the white man would not work.

“He would not climb the palm to bring down the nuts; he lay and laughed on his paepae in the Meinui, the season of breadfruit, when all were busy; and when they brought him rusty old muskets to care for, he turned his back upon them. Sometimes he fished, going out in a canoe that Tahia paddled, and making her fix the bait on the hook, but he caught few fish.

“‘Aue te hanahana, aua ho'i te kaikai,’ said his father-in-law. ‘He who will not labor, neither shall he eat.’ But the white man laughed and ate and labored not.

“A season passed and another, and there came a time of little rain. The bananas were few, and the breadfruit were not plentiful. One evening, therefore, the old men met in conference, and this was their decision: ‘Rats are becoming a nuisance, and we will abate them.’

“Next morning the father sent Tahia on an errand to another valley. Then men began to dig a large oven in the earth before Tahia's house, where the white man lay on the mats at ease. Presently he looked and wondered and looked again. And at length he rose and came down to the oven, saying, ‘What's up?’

“‘Plenty kaikai. Big pig come by and by,’ they said.

“So he stood waiting while they dug, and no pig came. Then he said, ‘Where is the pig?’ And at that moment the u'u crashed upon his skull, so that he fell without life and lay in the oven. Wood was piled about him, and he was baked, and there was feasting in Hanamenu.

“In the twilight Tahia came over the hills, weary and hungry, and asked for her white man. ‘He has gone to the beach,’ they said.

“He will return soon, therefore sit and eat, my daughter,” said her father, and gave her the meat wrapped in leaves. So she ate heartily, and waited for her husband. And all the feasters laughed at her, so that little by little she learned the truth. She said nothing, but went away in the darkness.

“And it is written, Haabunai, that searchers for the mei came upon her next day in the upper valley, and she was hanging from a tall palm-tree with a rope of purau about her neck.”

“That may be a true story,” said Haabunai. “Though it is the custom here to eat the eva when one is made sick by life. And very few white men were ever eaten in the islands, because they knew too much and were claimed by some woman of power.” He paused for a moment to puff his cigarette.

“Now there was a sailor whom my grandfather ate, and he was white. But there was ample cause for that, for never was a man so provoking.

“He was a harpooner on a whale-ship, a man who made much money, but he liked rum, and when his ship left he stayed behind. They sent two boats ashore and searched for him, but my grandfather sent my father with him into the hills, and after three days the captain thought he had been drowned, and sailed away without him.

“My grandfather gave him my father's sister to wife, and like that man of whom you told, he was much loved by her, though he would do nothing but make namu enata and drink it and dance and sleep. Grandfather said that he could dance strange dances of the sailor that made them all laugh until their ribs were sore.

“This man, whose name was Honi—”

“Honi?” said I. “I do not know that word.”

“Nor I. It is not Marquesan. It was his name, that he bore on the ship.”

“Honi?” I repeated incredulously, and then light broke. “You mean Jones?”

“It may be. I do not know. Honi was his name, as my grandfather said it. And this Honi had brought from the whale-ship a gun and a harpoon. This harpoon had a head of iron and was fixed on a spear, with a long rope tied to the head, so that when it was thrust into the whale he was fastened to the boat that pursued him through the water. There was no weapon like it on the island, and it was much admired.

“Honi fought with us when our tribe, the Papuaei, went to war with the Tiu of Taaoa. He used his gun, and with it he won many battles, until he had killed so many of the enemy that they asked for peace. Honi was praised by our tribe, and a fine house was built for him near the river, in the place where eels and shrimp were best.

“In this large house he drank more than in the other smaller one. He used his gun to kill pigs and even birds. My grandfather reproved him for wasting the powder, when pigs could easily be killed with spears. But Honi would not listen, and he continued to kill until he had no more powder. Then he quarreled with my grandfather, and one day, being drunk, he tried to kill him, and then fled to the Kau-i-te-oho, the tribe of redheaded people at Hanahupe.

“Learning that Honi was no longer with us, the Tiu tribe of Taaoa declared war again, and the red-headed tribe had an alliance with them through their chief's families intermarrying, so that Honi fought with them. His gun being without powder, he took his harpoon, and he came with the Tui and the Kau-i-te-oho to the dividing-line between the valleys where we used to fight.

“Where the precipices reared their middle points between the valleys, the tribes met and reviled one another.

“‘You people with hair like cooked shrimp! Are you ready for the ovens of our valley?’ cried my grandfather's warriors.

“‘You little men, who run so fast, we have now your white warrior with us, and you shall die by the hundreds!’ yelled our enemies.”

This picture of the scene at the line was characteristic of Polynesian warfare. It is almost exactly like the meeting of armies long ago in Palestine and Syria, and before the walls of Troy. Goliath slanged David grossly, threatening to give his body to the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field, and David retorted in kind. So, when Ulysses launched his spear at Soccus, he cried:

“Ah, wretch, no father shall they corpse compose, Thy dying eye no tender mother close; But hungry birds shall tear those balls away, And hungry vultures scream around their prey.”

“For a quarter of an hour,” said Haabunai, “my grandfather's people and the warriors of the enemy called thus to each other upon the top of the cliffs, and then Honi and the brother of my grandfather, head men of either side, advanced to battle.

“The first time Honi threw his harpoon, he hooked my great-uncle. He hooked him through the middle, and before he could be saved, a half dozen of the Tiu men pulled on the rope and dragged him over the line to be killed and eaten.

“Two more of our tribe Honi snared with this devilish spear, and it was not so much death as being pulled over to them and roasted that galled us. All day the battle raged, except when both sides stopped by agreement to eat popoi and rest, but late in the afternoon a strange thing happened.

“Honi had thrown his harpoon, and by bad aim it entered a tree. The end of the line he had about his left arm, and as he tried to pull out the spear-head from the wood, his legs became entangled in the rope, and my grandfather, who was very strong, seized the rope near the tree, dragged the white man over the line, and killed him with a rock.

“The enemy ran away then, and that night our people ate Honi. Grandfather said his flesh was so tough they had to boil it. There were no tipoti (Standard-oil cans) in those days, but our people took banana leaves and formed a big cup that would hold a couple of quarts of water, and into these they put red-hot stones, and the water boiled. Grandfather said they cut Honi into small pieces and boiled him in many of these cups. Still he was tough, but nevertheless they ate him.

“Honi was tattooed. Not like Marquesans, but like some white sailors, he had certain marks on him. Grandfather saved these marks, and wore them as a tiki, or amulet, until he died, when he gave it to me. He had preserved the skin so that it did not spoil.”

Haabunai yawned and said his mouth was parched from much talking, but when a shell of rum was set before him and he had drunk, he fetched from his house the tiki. It was as large as my hand, dark and withered, but with a magnifying glass I could see a rude cross and three letters, I H S in blue.

“Grandfather became a Christian and was no longer an enata Ttaikaia, an eater of men, but he kept the tiki always about his neck, because he thought it gave him strength,” said my guest.

I handed him back the gruesome relic, though he began advances to make it my property. For the full demijohn he would have parted with the tiki that had been his grandfather's, but I had no fancy for it. One can buy in Paris purses of human skin for not much more than one of alligator hide.

“Honi must have been very tough,” I said.

“He must have been,” Haabunai said regretfully. “Grandfather had his teeth to the last. He would never eat a child. Like all warriors he preferred for vengeance's sake the meat of another fighter.”

He had not yet sprung the grim jest of almost all cannibalistic narratives. I did not ask if Honi's wife had eaten of him, as had Tahia of her white man. It is probable that she did, and that they deceived her. It was the practical joke of those days.

I had seen Apporo, my landlady, staggering homeward a few days earlier in a pitiful state of intoxication. Some one had given her a glass of mixed absinthe, vermuth, and rum, and with confidence in the giver she had tossed it down. That is the kind of joke that in other days would have been the deluding of some one into partaking of the flesh of a lover or friend.

Reasoning from our standpoint, it is easy to assume that cannibalism is a form of depravity practised by few peoples, but this error is dispelled by the researches of ethnologists, who inform us that it was one of the most ancient customs of man and began when he was close brother to the ape. Livingstone, when he came upon it on the Dark continent, concluded that the negroes came to that horrible desire from their liking for the meat of gorillas, which so nearly approach man in appearance. Herodatus, writing twenty-five hundred years ago, mentions the Massagetae who boiled the flesh of their old folks with that of cattle, both killed for the occasion. Cannibalism marked the life of all peoples in days of savagery.

Plutarch says that Cataline's associates gave proof of their loyalty to that agitator and to one another by sacrificing and eating a man. Achilles expressed his wish that he might devour Hector. The Kafirs ate their own children in the famine of 1857, and the Germans ate one another when starvation maddened them, long after Maryland and Massachusetts had become thriving settlements in the New World. There is a historic instance of a party of American pioneers lost in the mountains of California in the nineteenth century, who in their last extremity of hunger ate several of the party.

To devour dead relatives, to kill and eat the elders, to feast upon slaves and captives, even for mothers to eat their children, were religious and tribal rites for many tens of thousands of years. We have records of these customs spread over the widest areas of the world.

Undoubtedly cannibalism began as a question of food supply. In early times when man, emerging from the purely animal stage, was without agricultural skill, and lived in caves or trees, his fellow was his easiest prey. The great beasts were too fierce and powerful for his feeble weapons except when luck favored him, and the clan or family, or even the single brave hunter, sought the man-meat by stealth or combat, or in tunes of stress ate those nearest and dearest.

Specially among peoples whose principal diet is heavy, starchy food, such as the breadfruit, the demand for meat is keen. I saw Marquesan women eating insects, worms, and other repellant bits of flesh out of sheer instinct and stomachic need. When salt is not to be had, the desire for meat is most intense. In these valleys the upper tribes, whose enemies shut them off from the sea with its salt and fish, were the most persistent cannibals, and the same condition exists in Africa to-day, where the interior tribes eat any corpse, while none of the coast tribes are guilty.

As the passion for cannibalistic feasts grew,—and it became a passion akin to the opium habit in some,—the supply of other meat had little to do with its continuance. In New Britain human bodies were sold in the shops; in the Solomon Islands victims were fattened like cattle, and on the upper Congo an organized traffic is carried on in these empty tenements of the human soul.

Although cannibalism originated in a bodily need, man soon gave it an emotional and spiritual meaning, as he has given them to all customs that have their root in his physical being. Two forms of cannibalism seem to have existed among the first historic peoples. One was concerned with the eating of relatives and intimates, for friendship's sake or to gain some good quality they possessed. Thus when babies died, the Chavante mothers, on the Uruguay, ate them to regain their souls. Russians ate their fathers, and the Irish, if Strabo is to be credited, thought it good to eat both deceased parents. The Lhopa of Sikkim, in Tibet, eat the bride's mother at the wedding feast.

But Maori cannibalism, with its best exposition in the Marquesas, was due to a desire for revenge, cooking and eating being the greatest of insults. It was an expression of jingoism, a hatred for all outside the tribe or valley, and it made the feud between valleys almost incessant.

It was in no way immoral, for morals are the best traditions and ways of each race, and here the eating of enemies was authorized by every teaching of priest and leader, by time-honored custom and the strongest dictates of nature.

White men and Chinese, in fact, all foreigners, were seldom eaten here. There were exceptions when vengeance impelled, such at that of Honi or Jones, whom Haabunai's grandfather ate, but as a rule they were spared and indeed cherished, as strange visitors who might teach the people useful things. Only their own depravity brought them to the oven.

At such times, the feast was even a disagreeable rite. It is a fact that the Marquesan disliked the flesh of a white man. They said he was too salty. Hundreds of years ago the Aztecs, according to Bernal Diaz, who was there, complained that “the flesh of the Spaniards failed to afford even nourishment, since it was intolerably bitter.” This, though the Indians were dying of starvation by hundreds of thousands in the merciless siege of Mexico City.

Standards of barbarity vary. Horrible and revolting as the very mention of cannibalism is to us, it should be remembered that it rested upon an attitude toward the foreigner and the slave that in some degree still persists everywhere in the world. Outside the tribe, the savage recognized no kindred humanity. Members of every clan save his own were regarded as strange and contemptible beings, outlandish and barbarous in manners and customs, not to be regarded as sharers of a common birthright. This attitude toward the stranger did not at all prevent the cannibal from being, within his own tribe, a gentle, merry, and kindly individual.

Even toward the stranger the Marquesan was never guilty of torture of any kind. Though they slew and ate, they had none of the refinements of cruelty of the Romans, not even scalping enemies as did the Scythians, Visigoths, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons. In their most bloody wars they often paused in battle to give the enemy time to eat and to rest, and there is no record of their ever ringing a valley about with armed warriors and starving to death the women and children within. Victims for the gods were struck down without warning, so that they might not suffer even the pangs of anticipation. The thumb-screw and rack of Christendom struck with horror those of my cannibal friends to whom I mentioned them.




The memorable game for the matches in the cocoanut-grove of Lam Kai Oo.

Parables are commonly found in books. In a few words on a printed page one sees a universal problem made small and clear, freed from those large uncertainties and whimsies of chance that make life in the whole so confusing to the vision. It was my fortune to see, in the valley of Atuona on Hiva-oa, a series of incidents which were at the time a whirl of unbelievable merriment, yet which slowly clarified themselves into a parable, while I sat later considering them on the leaf-shaded paepae of the House of the Golden Bed.

They began one afternoon when I dropped down to the palace to have a smoke with M. L'Hermier des Plantes, the governor. As I mounted the steps I beheld on the veranda the governor, stern, though perspiring, in his white ducks, confronting a yellowish stranger on crutches who pleaded in every tone of anguish for some boon denied him.

Non! No! Ned!” said the governor, poly-linguistically emphatic. “It cannot be done!” He dropped into a chair and poured himself an inch of Pernod, as the defeated suitor turned to me in despair.

He was short and of a jaundiced hue, his soft brown eyes set slightly aslant. Although lame, he had an alertness and poise unusual in the sea's spawn of these beaches. In Tahitian, Marquesan, and French, with now and then an English word, he explained that he, a Tahitian marooned on Hiva-oa from a schooner because of a broken leg, wished to pass the tedium of his exile in an innocent game of cards.

“I desire a mere permission to buy two packs of cards at the Chinaman's,” he begged. “I would teach my neighbors here the jeu de pokaree. I have learned it on a voyage to San Francisco. It is Americaine. It is like life, not altogether luck. One must think well to play it. I doubt not that you know that game.”

Now gambling is forbidden in these isles. It is told that throughout the southern oceans such a madness possessed the people to play the white men's games of chance that in order to prevent constant bloodshed in quarrels a strict interdiction was made by the conquerors. Of course whites here are always excepted from such sin-stopping rules, and merchants keep a small stock of cards for their indulgence.

“But why two packs?” I asked the agitated Tahitian.

Mais, Monsieur, that is the way I was taught. We played with ten or fourteen in the circle, and as it is merely pour passer le temps, more of my poor brother Kanakas can enjoy it with two packs.”

He was positively abased, for no Tahitian says “Kanaka” of himself. It is a term of contempt. He might call his fellow so, but only as an American negro says “nigger.”

I looked at him closely. Some gesture, the suggested slant of his brows, the thin lips, reminded me of a certain “son of Ah Cum” who guided me into disaster in Canton, saying, “Mis'r Rud Kippeling he go one time befo'.”

“Your name?” I asked in hope of confirmation.

“O Lalala,” he replied, while the smile that started in his eyes was killed by his tightening lips. “I am French, for my grandfather was of Annam under the tri-color, and my mother of Tahiti-iti.”

Now fourteen-handed poker, with O Lalala as instructor to those ignorant of the game, the code of which was written by a United States diplomat, appealed to me as more than a passing of the time. It would be an episode in the valley. My patriotism was stimulated. I called the governor aside.

“This poker,” I said, “is not like écarté or baccarat. It is a study of character, a matching of minds, a thing we call bluff, we Americans. These poor Marquesans must have some fun. Let him do it! No harm can come of it. It is far to Paris, where the laws are made.”

The governor turned to O Lalala.

“No stakes!” he said.

Mais, non! Not a sou!” the lame man promised. “We will use only matches for counters. Merci, merci, Monsieur l'Administrateur! You are very good. Please, will you give me now the note to Ah You?”

As he limped away with it, the governor poured me an inch of absinthe.

Sapristi!” he exclaimed. “O Lalala! O, la, la, la!” He burst into laughter. “He will play ze bloff?”

I spent that evening with Kriech, the German trader of Taka-Uka. Over our Hellaby beef and Munich beer we talked of copra and the beautiful girls of Buda-Pesth, of the contemplated effort of the French government to monopolize the island trade by subsidizing a corporation, and of the incident of the afternoon.

“The Herr Doktor is new,” said Kriech, with a wag of his head. “That O Lalala! I have heard that that poker iss very dansherous. That Prince Hanoi of Papeite lose his tam headt to a Chinaman. Something comes of this foolishnesses!”

At midnight I had again gained the House of the Golden Bed and had lain down to sleep when on the breeze from up the valley there came a strangely familiar sound to my upper ear. I sat up, listening. In the dark silence, with no wind to rustle the breadfruit and cocoanut-trees, and only the brook faintly murmuring below, I heard a low babble of voices. No word was distinguishable, not even the language, yet curiously the sound had a rhythm that I knew.

I have heard from a distance preaching in many languages. Though only the cadences, the pauses, and rhythm reached me, I had no difficulty in knowing their origin and meaning. Thought casts the mold of all speech. Now my drowsy mind harked back to American days, to scenes in homes and clubs.

I rose, and wrapping the loin-cloth about me, set out with a lantern in search of that sound. It led me down the trail, across the brook, and up the slope into the dense green growth of the mountain-side. Beyond I saw lights in the cocoanut-grove of Lam Kai Oo.

My bare feet made no noise, and through the undergrowth I peered upon as odd a sight as ever pleased a lover of the bizarre. A blaze of torches lighted a cleared space among the tall palm columns, and in the flickering red glow a score of naked, tattooed figures crouched about a shining mat of sugar-cane. About them great piles of yellow-boxed Swedish matches caught the light, and on the cane mat shone the red and white and black of the cards.

O Lalala sat facing me, absorbed in the game. At his back the yellow boxes were piled high, his crutch propped against them, and continually he speeded the play by calling out, “Passy, calley or makum bigger!” “Comely center!” or, “Ante uppy!”

These were the sounds that had swept my memory back to civilization and drawn me from my Golden Bed. O Lalala had all the slang of poker—the poker of the waterfronts of San Francisco and of Shanghai—and evidently he had already taught his eager pupils that patois.

They crouched about the mat, bent forward in their eagerness, and the flickering light caught twisting mouths and eyes ringed with tattooing. Over their heads the torches flared, held by breathless onlookers. The candlenuts, threaded on long spines of cocoanut-leaves, blazed only a few seconds, but each dying one lit the one beneath as it sputtered out, and the scores of strings shed a continuous though wavering light upon the shining mat and the cards.

The midnight darkness of the enclosing grove and the vague columns of the palms, upholding the rustling canopy that hid the sky, hinted at some monstrous cathedral where heathen rites were celebrated.

I pushed through the fringe of onlookers, none of whom heeded me, and found Apporo and Exploding Eggs holding torches. The madness of play was upon them. The sad placidity of every day was gone; as in the throes of the dance they kept their gleaming eyes upon the fluctuations of fortune before them. Twice I spoke sharply before they heard me, and then in a frenzy of supplication Apporo threw herself upon me.

Would I not give her matches—the packets of matches that were under the Golden Bed? She and her husband, Great Fern, had spent but an hour in the magic circle ere they were denuded of their every match. Couriers were even now scouring the valley for more matches. Quick, hasten! Even now it might be that the packets under the Golden Bed were gone!

“Surely, then, come,” I said, struck by an incredible possibility. Could it be that the crafty O Lalala—absurd! But Apporo, hurrying before me down the lantern-lighted trail, confirmed my suspicions.

O Lalala had stated and put into effect the prohibition of any other stakes other than the innocent matches—mere counters—which he had mentioned to the governor. But swift messengers had heralded throughout the valley that there would be gambling—authorized par gouvernement—in Lam Kai Go's plantation, and already the cards had been shuffled for seven or eight hours. Throughout all Atuona matches had been given an extraordinary and superlative value. To the farthest huts on the rim of the valley the cry was “Matches!” And as fast as they arrived, O Lalala won them.

We hastened into my cabin, and Apporo was beneath the Golden Bed ere the rays of my lantern fell upon the floor. The packets had disappeared.

“Exploding Eggs!” cried Apporo, her dark eyes tolling in rage.

“But—he is honest,” I objected.

In such a crisis, she muttered, all standards were naught. Exploding Eggs had been one of the first squatters at the sugar-cane mat. “The Bishop himself would trade the holy-water fonts for matches, were he as thirsty to play as I am!”

There were no more matches in the valleys of Atuona or Taka-Uka, she said. Every dealer had sold out. Every house had been invaded. The losers had begged, borrowed, or given articles of great value for matches. The accursed Tahitian had them all but a few now being waged. Defeated players were even now racing over the mountains in the darkness, ransacking each hut for more.

The reputation of Hiva-oa, of the island itself, was at stake. A foreigner had dishonored their people, or would if they did not win back what he had gained from them. She was half Chinese; her father's soul was concerned. He had died in this very room. To save his face in death she would give back even her interest in the Golden Bed, she would pledge all that Great Fern possessed, if I would give her only a few matches.

Her pleas could only be hopeless. There was not a match in the cabin.

Together we returned to the cocoanut-grove. O Lalala still sat calmly winning the matches, the supply of which was from time to time replenished by panting newcomers. He swept the mat clean at every valuable pot.

His only apparent advantage was that he made the rules whenever questions arose. He was patient in all disputes, yielding in small matters, but he was as the granite rocks of the mountain above him when many matches were at stake. With solemnity he invoked the name of Hoy-lee, the mysterious person who had fixed immutably the tapus of pokaree. He made an occult sign with his thumb against his nose, and that settled it. If any one persisted in challenging this tiki he added his other thumb to the little finger of his first symbol, and said, “Got-am-to-hellee!” As a last recourse, he would raise his crutch and with public opinion supporting him would threaten to invoke the law against gambling and stop the game if disputation did not cease.

Steadily the pile of Swedish toendstikkers grew behind him. All through the night the game raged beneath the light of the candlenuts, in a silence broken only by the hoarse breathing of the crouching brown men, the sandy-sounding rustle of the palm-fronds overhead, and cries of “Ante uppy!” or “Comely center!” When dawn came grayly through the aisles of the grove, they halted briefly to eat a bowl of popoi and to drink the milk of freshly gathered nuts. O Lalala, relaxing against the heap of his winnings, lifted a shell to his lips and over its rim gave me one enigmatic look.

Whistling softly, I went down to the House of the Golden Bed, breakfasted there without the aid of Exploding Eggs, and then sought the governor. He had gone by the whale-boat of Special Agent Bauda to an adjoining deserted island to shoot kuku. Hiva-oa was without a government.

All day the madness raged in the cocoanut-grove. In the afternoon the vicar apostolic of the Roman Catholic Church, supported by the faithful Deacon Fariuu, himself toiled up the slope to stop the game. The bishop was received in sullen silence by regular communicants. A catechist whom he had found squat before the mat paid no attention to his objurgations, save to ask the bishop not to stand behind him, as O Lalala had said that was bad luck. The churchmen retired in a haughty silence that was unheeded by the absorbed players.

Later the deacon returned, bringing with him the very matches that had been kept in the church to light the lamps at night service. These he stacked on the sugarcane mat. The vicar bishop followed him to call down the anathema maranatha of high heaven upon this renegade who had robbed the cathedral and the priests' house of every toendstikker they had held, and when he had again retired, the deacon, dropping his last box on the woven table, elevated his hands toward the skies and fervently asked the Giver of All Good Things to aid his draw. But he received a third ace, only to see O Lalala put down four of the damnable bits of paper with three spots on each one.

At three o'clock next morning the game lapsed because the Tahitian had all the counters. These he sent to his house, where they were guarded by a friend. For a day he sat waiting by the sugar-cane mat, and the Monte Carlo was not deserted. O Lalala would not budge to the demands of a hundred losers that he sell back packages of matches for cocoanuts or French francs or any other currency. Pigs, fish, canned goods, and all the contents of the stores he spurned as breaking faith with the kindly governor, who would recognize that while matches were not gambling stakes, all other commodities were.

On the fourth day the canoes that had paddled and sailed to every other island of the archipelago began to return. Some brought fifty packets, some less. Dealers had tossed their prices sky-ward when asked to sell their entire stocks.

A chieftess in tapa garments with tapa parasol

Launching the whale-boat

Now the game began again with the fierceness of the typhoon after the center has passed. Men and women stood in line for the chance to redeem their fortunes, to slake their rage, to gain applause. Once they thought they had conquered the Tahitian. He began to lose, and before his streak of trouble ended, he had sent more than thirty packages from his hut to the grove. But this was the merest breath of misfortune; his star rose again, and the contents of the canoes were his.

On the fifth day it became known that the Shan-Shan syndicate of Cantonese had a remaining case of toendstikkers. They claimed that until now they had overlooked this case. It held a hundred packages, or twelve hundred boxes. It was priceless as the sole possible barrier against the absolute ending of the game.

The Shan-Shan people were without heart. They demanded for the case five francs a packet. Many of the younger Marquesans counselled giving the Cantonese a taste of the ancient u'u, the war-club of a previous generation. Desperate as was the plight of the older gamesters, they dared not consent. The governor would return, the law would take its course, and they would go to Noumea to work out their lives for crime. No, they would buy the case for francs, but they would not risk dividing it among many, who would be devoured piecemeal by the diabolical O Lalala.

“Kivi, the Vagabond, the Drinker of kava, is the chief to lead our cause,” said Great Fern. “He has never gone to the Christian church. He believes still in the old gods of the High Place, and he is tattooed with the shark.”

Kivi was the one man who had not played. He cared nothing for the pleasures of the Farani, the foolish whites. After palaver, his neighbors waited on him in a body. They reasoned with him, they begged him. He consented to their plan only after they had wept at their humbling. Then they began to instruct him.

They told him of the different kinds of combinations, of straights and of flushes, and of a certain occasional period when the Tahitian would introduce a mad novelty by which the cards with one fruit on them would “runnee wil'ee.” They warned him against times when without reason the demon would put many matches on the mat, and after frightening out every one would in the end show that he had no cards of merit.

Immediately after sunset, when the popoi and fish had been eaten, and all had bathed in the brook, when the women had perfumed their bodies and put the scarlet hibiscus in their hair, and after Kivi had drunk thrice of kava, the game began. The valley was deserted, the paepaes empty. No fires twinkled from the mountainsides. Only in the cocoanut-grove the candlenuts were lit as the stars peeped through the roof of the world.

A throng surrounded the pair of combatants. The worn cards had been oiled and dried, and though the ominous faces of the tiki upon them shone bravely, doubtless they were weary of strife. The pipe was made to smoke; Kivi puffed it and so did all who had joined in the purchase of the case from the thieves of Cantonese. Then the cards were dealt by Kivi, who had won the cut.

O Lalala and he eyed each other like Japanese wrestlers before the grapple. Their eyes were slits as they put up the ante of five packets each. O Lalala opened the pot for five packets and Kivi, nudged by his backers, feverishly balanced them. He took three cards, O Lalala but one. Standing behind the Tahitian, I saw that he had no cards of value, but coolly he threw thirty packets upon the mat. The others shuddered, for Kivi had drawn deuces to a pair of kings. They made the pipe glow again. They puffed it; they spat; they put their heads together, and he threw down his cards.

Then calmly the Tahitian laid down his own, and they saw that they could have beaten him. They shouted in dismay, and withdrew Kivi, who after some palaver went away with them into the darkness.

One or two candlenut torches dimly illumined the figures of the squatting women who remained. Upon the sugar-cane mat O Lalala stretched himself at ease, closing his eyes. A silence broken only by the stealthy noises of the forest closed upon us. Teata, her dark eyes wide, looked fearfully over her shoulder and crept close to me. In a low voice she said that the absent players had thrown earth over their shoulders, stamped, and called upon Po, the Marquesan deity of darkness, yet it had not availed them. Now they went to make magic to those at whose very mention she shuddered, not naming them.

We waited, while the torches sputtered lower, and a dank breath of the forest crept between the trees. O Lalala appeared to sleep, though when Apporo attempted to withdraw a card he pinned it with his crutch.

It was half an hour before the players returned. Kivi crouched to his place without a word, and the others arranged themselves behind him in fixed array, as though they had a cabalistic number-formation in mind.

Fresh torches were made, and many disputed the privilege of holding them, as they controlled one's view of the mat. O Lalala sat imperturbable, waiting. At last all was ready. The light fell upon the giant limbs and huge torsos of the men, picking out arabesques of tattooing and catching ruddy gleams from red pareus. The women, in crimson gowns caught up to the waist, their luxuriant hair adorned with flowers and phosphorescent fungus, their necks hung with the pink peppers of Chile, squatted in a close ring about the players.

The lame man took up the pack, shuffled it, and handed it to Kivi to cut. Then Kivi solemnly stacked before him the eighty-five packets of matches, all that remained in the islands. Five packs went upon the mat for ante, and Kivi very slowly picked up his cards.

He surveyed them, and a grim smile of incredulity and delight spread over his ink-decorated countenance. He opened for ten packets. O Lalala quickly put down as many, and thirty more.

Kivi chuckled as one who has his enemy in his hand, but stifles his feelings to hide his triumph. He then carefully counted his remaining wealth, and with a gesture of invitation slid the entire seventy packets about his knees. They were a great bulk, quite 840 boxes of matches, and they almost obscured the curving palms of blue tattooed on his mighty thighs.

Again he chuckled and this time put his knuckles over his mouth. “Patty!” said Great Fern for him, and made a gesture disdaining more cards.

O Lalala scrutinized his face as the sailor the heavens in a storm, and then studied the visages of all his backers. He closed his eyes a moment. Then, “My cally!” he said, as he pushed a great heap of toendstikkers onto the cane mat. The kava-drinkers grew black with excitement.

Kivi hesitated, and then, amid the most frightful curses of his company, laid down only a pair of kings, a six, a nine, and a jack. O Lalala, without a smile, disclosed a pair of aces and three meaningless companions.

The game was over. The men of Hiva-oa had thrown their last spear. Magic had been unavailing; the demon foreigner could read through the cards. Kivi fell back helpless, grief and kava prostrating him. The torches died down as the winner picked up his spoils and prepared to retire.

At this moment a man dashed madly through the grove, displaying two boxes and a handful of separate matches. O Lalala at first refused to play for this trifling stake, but in a storm of menacing cries consented to cut the pack for double or nothing, and in a twinkling extinguished the last hope.

The last comer had looted the governor's palace. The ultimate match in the Marquesas had been lost to the Tahitian. He now had the absolute monopoly of light and of cooking.

Soberly the rest of the valley dwellers went home to unlighted huts.

Next morning, after a cold breakfast, I was early afoot in the valley. On the way to the trader's store I beheld the complacent winner in his cabin. Through the open door I saw that every inch of the walls was covered with stacked boxes of matches, yellow fronts exposed. On his mat in the middle of this golden treasury O Lalala reclined, smoking at his leisure, and smiling the happy smile of Midas. Outside a cold wind swept down from Calvary Peak, and a gray sky hid the sun.

I paused in the reek of those innumerable matches, which tainted the air a hundred feet away, and exchanged morning greetings with their owner, inquiring about his plans. He said that he would make a three days' vigil of thanks, and upon the fourth day he would sell matches at a franc a small box. I bade him farewell, and passed on.

The valley people were coming and going about their affairs, but sadly and even morosely. There was no match to light the fire for roasting breadfruit, or to kindle the solacing tobacco. O Lalala would not give one away, or sell one at any price. Neither would he let a light be taken from his own fire or pipe.

The next schooner was not expected for two months, as the last was but a fortnight gone. Le Brunnec had not a match, nor Kriech. The governor had not returned. The only alternatives were to go lightless and smokeless or to assault the heartless oppressor. Many dark threats were muttered on the cheerless paepaes and in the dark huts, but in variety of councils there was no unity, and none dared assault alone the yellow-walled hut in which O Lalala smiled among his gains.

On the second day there was a growing tension in the atmosphere of the valley. I observed that there were no young men to be seen on the beach or at the traders' stores. There were rumors, hints hardly spoken, of a meeting in the hills. The traders looked to their guns, whistling thoughtfully. There was not a spark of fire set in all Atuona, save by O Lalala, and that for himself alone.

So matters stood until the second night. Then old Kahuiti, that handsomest of cannibals, who lived in the valley of Taaoa, strolled into Atuona and made it known that he would hold a meeting in the High Place where of old many of his tribe had been eaten by Atuona men.

Exploding Eggs, Malicious Gossip, and I climbed the mountain early. The population of the valley, eager for counsel, was gathered on the old stone benches where half a century earlier their sorcerers had sat. In the twilight Kahuiti stood before us, his long white beard tied in a Psyche knot on his broad, tattooed chest. His voice was stern.

We were fools, he said, to be denied food and smoke by the foreigner. What of matches before the French came? Had he known matches in his youth? Aue! The peoples of the islands must return to the ways of their fathers!

He leaped from the top of the Pekia, and seizing his long knife, he cut a five-foot piece of parua-wood and shaped it to four inches in width. With our fascinated gaze upon him, he whittled sharp a foot-long piece of the same wood, and straddled the longer stick. Holding it firmly between his two bare knees he rubbed the shorter, pointed piece swiftly up and down a space of six inches upon his mount. Gradually a groove formed, in which the dust collected at one end.

Soon the wood was smoking hot, and then the old man's hands moved so rapidly that for several moments I could not follow them with the eye. The smoke became thicker, and suddenly a gleam of flame arose, caught the dust, and was fed with twigs and cocoanut-husks by scores of trembling brown hands. In a few minutes a roaring fire was blazing on the sward.

Pipes sprang from loin-cloths or from behind ears, and the incense of tobacco lifted on the still air of the evening. Brands were improvised and hurried home to light the fires for breadfruit-roasting, while Kahuiti laughed scornfully.

“A hundred of this tribe I have eaten, and no wonder!” he said as he strode away toward Taaoa.

The monopoly of O Lalala was no more. Atuona Valley had turned back the clock of time a hundred years, to destroy the perfect world in which he sat alone. He heard the news with amazement and consternation. For a day he sat disconsolate, unable to credit the disaster that had befallen his carefully made plans. Then he offered the matches at usual traders' prices, and the people mocked him. All over the island the fire-ploughs, oldest of fire-making tools in the world, were being driven to heat the stones for the mei. Atuona had no need of matches.

The governor on his return heard the roars of derision, gathered the story from a score of mirthful tongues, seized and sold the matches, and appropriated the funds for a barrel of Bordeaux. And for many weeks the unhappy O Lalala sat mournfully on the beach, gazing at the empty sea and longing for a schooner to carry him away.




Mademoiselle N——.

The Jeanne d'Arc, a beautiful, long, curving craft manned by twelve oarsmen, came like a white bird over the blue waters of the Bay of Traitors one Saturday afternoon, bringing Père Victorien to Atuona. He was from Hatiheu, on the island of Nuka-hiva, seventy miles to the north. A day and a night he had spent on the open sea, making a slow voyage by wind and oar, but like all these priests he made nothing of the hardships. They come to the islands to stay until they die, and death means a crown the brighter for martyrdom.

He looked a tortured man in his heavy and smothering vestments when I met him before the mission walls next morning. His face and hands were covered with pustules as if from smallpox.

“The nonos (sand-flies) are so furious the last month,” he said with a patient smile. “I have not slept but an hour at a time. I was afraid I would go mad.”

News of his coming brought all the valley Catholics to eight o'clock mass. The banana-shaded road and the roots of the old banian were crowded with worshippers in all their finery, and when they poured into the mission the few rude benches were well filled. I found a chair in the rear, next to that of Baufré, the shaggy drunkard, and as the chanting began, I observed an empty prie-dieu, specially prepared and placed for some person of importance.

“Mademoiselle N——” said Baufré, noticing the direction of my glance. “She is the richest woman in all the Marquesas.”

At the Gospel she came in, walking slowly down the aisle and taking her place as though unaware of the hundred covert glances that followed her. Wealth is comparative, and Mademoiselle N——, with perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars in cash and cocoanut-grove, stood to the island people as Rockefeller to us. Money and lands were not all her possessions, for though she had never traveled from her birthplace, she was very different in carriage and costume from the girls about her.

She wore a black lace gown, clinging, and becoming her slender figure and delicately charming face. Her features were exquisite, her eyes lustrous black pools of passion, her mouth a scarlet line of pride and disdain. A large leghorn hat of fine black straw, with chiffon, was on her graceful head, and her tiny feet were in silk stockings and patent leather. She held a gold and ivory prayer-book in gloved hands, and a jeweled watch hung upon her breast.

She might have passed for a Creole or for one of those beautiful Filipino mestizas, daughters of Spanish fathers and Filipino mothers. I suppose coquetry in woman was born with the fig-leaf. This dainty, fetching heiress, born of a French father and a savage mother, had all the airs and graces of a ballroom belle. Where had she gained these fashions and desires of the women of cities, of Europe?

I had but to look over the church to feel her loneliness. Teata, Many Daughters, Weaver of Mats, and Flower, savagely handsome, gaudily dressed, were the only companions of her own age. Flower, of the red-gold hair, was striking in a scarlet gown of sateen, a wreath of pink peppers, and a necklace of brass. She had been ornamented by the oarsmen of the Jeanne d'Arc, fortunately without Père Victorien's knowledge. Teata, in her tight gown with its insertions of fishnet revealing her smooth, tawny skin, a red scarf about her waist, straw hat trimmed with a bright blue Chinese shawl perched on her high-piled hair, was still a picture of primitive and savage grace. They were handsome, these girls, but they were wild flowers. Mlle. N—— had the poise and delicacy of the hothouse blossom.

Her father had spent thirty years on Hiva-oa, laboring to wring a fortune from the toil of the natives, and dying, he had left it all to this daughter, who, with her laces and jewels, her elegant, slim form and haughty manner, was in this wild abode of barefooted, half-naked people like a pearl in a gutter. She was free now to do what she liked with herself and her fortune. What would she do?

It was the question on every tongue and in every eye when, after mass, she passed down the lane respectfully widened for her in the throng on the steps and with a black-garbed sister at her side, walked to the nuns' house.

“If only she had a religious vocation,” sighed Sister Serapoline. “That would solve all difficulties, and save her soul and happiness.”

Vainly the nuns and priests had tried during the dozen years of her tutelage in their hands to direct her aspirations toward this goal, but one had only to look into her burning eyes or see the supple movement of her body, to know that she sought her joy on earth.

Liha-Liha, the natives called her father, which means corporal, and that they had hated and yet feared him when Hiva-oa was still given over to cannibalism outlined his character. He had lived and died in his house near the Stinking Springs on the road to Taaoa. The sole white man in that valley, he had lorded it over the natives more sternly than had their old chiefs. He had fought down the wilderness, planted great cocoanut-plantations, forced the unwilling islanders to work for him, and dollar by dollar, with an iron will, he had wrung from their labor the fortune now left in the dainty hands of his half-savage daughter.

Song of the Nightingale, the convict cook of the governor, gave me light on the man.

“I loved his woman, Piiheana (Climber of Trees Who Was Killed and Eaten), who was the mother of Mademoiselle N——,” said Song of the Nightingale. “One night he found me with her on his paepae. He shot me; then he had me condemned as a robber, and I spent five years in the prison at Tai-o-hae.”

“And Climber of Trees Who Was Killed and Eaten?”

“He beat her till her bones were broken, and sent her from him. Then he took Daughter of a Piece of Tattooing, to whom he left in his will thirty-five thousand francs. It was she who brought up Mademoiselle.”

Mademoiselle herself walked daintily down to the road, where her horse was tied, and I was presented to her. She gave me her hand with the air of a princess, her scarlet lips quivering into a faint smile and her smouldering, unsatisfied eyes sweeping my face. With a, conciliating, yet imperious, air, she suggested that I ride over the hills with her.

Picking up her lace skirt and frilled petticoat, she vaulted into the man's saddle without more ado, and took the heavy reins in her small gloved hands. Her horse was scrubby, but she rode well, as do all Marquesans, her supple body following his least movement and her slim, silk-stockinged legs clinging as though she were riding bareback. When the swollen river threatened to wet her varnished slippers, she perched herself on the saddle, feet and all, and made a dry ford.

Over the hills she led the way at a gallop, despite wretched trail and tripping bushes. Down we went through the jungle, walled in by a hundred kinds of trees and ferns and vines. Now and then we came into a cleared space, a native plantation, a hut surrounded by breadfruit-, mango- and cocoanut-, orange- and lime-trees. No one called “Kaoho!” and Mademoiselle N—— did not slacken her pace. We swept into the jungle again without a word, my horse following her mount's flying feet, and I ducking and dodging branches and noose-like vines.

In a marshy place, where patches of taro spread its magnificent leaves over the earth, we slowed to a walk. The jungle tangle was all about us; a thousand bright flowers, scarlet, yellow, purple, crimson, splashed with color the masses of green; tall ferns uncurled their fronds; giant creepers coiled like snakes through the boughs, and the sluggish air was heavy with innumerable delicious scents. I said to Mademoiselle N—— that the beauty of the islands was like that of a fantastic dream, an Arabian Night's tale.

“Yes?” she said, with a note of weariness and irony. The feet of the horses made a sucking sound on the oozy ground. “I am half white,” she said after a moment, and as the horses' hoofs struck the rocky trail again, she whipped up her mount and we galloped up the slope.

After a time the trail widened into a road and I saw before us a queer enclosure. At first sight I thought it a wild-animal park. There were small houses like cages and a big, box-like structure in the center, all enclosed in a wire fence, a couple of acres in all. Drawing nearer, I saw that the houses were cabins painted in gaudy colors, and that the white box was a marble tomb of great size. Each slab of marble was rimmed with scarlet cement, and the top of the tomb, under a corrugated iron roof, was covered with those abominable bead-wreaths from Paris.

Like the humbler Marquesans who have their coffins made and graves dug before their passing, Mademoiselle N——'s father had seen to it that this last resting-place was prepared while he lived, and he had placed it here in the center of his plantation, before the house that had been his home for thirty years. With something of his own crude strength and barbaric taste, it stood there, the grim reminder of her white father to the girl in whose veins his own blood mingled with that of the savage.

She looked at it without emotion, and after I had surveyed it, we dismounted and she led me into her house. It was a neat and showily-furnished cottage, whose Nottingham-lace curtains, varnished golden-oak chairs and ingrain carpet spoke of attempts at mail-order beautification. Sitting on a horse-hair sofa, hard and slippery, I drank wine and ate mangoes, while opposite me Mademoiselle N——'s mother sat in stiff misery on a chair. She was a withered Marquesan woman, barefooted and ugly, dressed in a red cotton garment of the hideous night-gown pattern introduced by the missionaries, and her eyes were tragedies of bewilderment and suffering, while her toothless mouth essayed a smile and she struggled with a few words of bad French.

Though Mademoiselle N—— was most hospitable, she was not at ease, and I knew it was because of the appearance of her mother, this woman whom her father had discarded years before, but to whom the daughter had shown kindness since his death. The mother appeared more at ease with her successor, a somewhat younger Marquesan woman, who waited on us as a servant, and seemed contented enough. Doubtless the two who had endured the moods of Liha-Liha had many confidences now that he was gone.

I had to describe America to Mademoiselle N——, and the inventions and social customs of which she had read. She would not want to live in such a big country, she said, but Tahiti seemed to combine comfort with the atmosphere of her birthplace. Perhaps she might go to Tahiti to live.

As I took my hat to leave, she said:

“I have been told that they are separating the lepers in Tahiti and confining them outside Papeite in a kind of prison. Is that so?”

“Not a prison,” I replied. “The government has built cottages for them in a little valley. Don't you think it wise to segregate them?”

She did not reply, and I rode away.

A week later I met her one evening at Otupoto, that dividing place between the valleys of Taaoa and Atuona, where Kahuiti and his fellow warriors had trapped the human meat. I had walked there to sit on the edge of the precipice and watch the sun set in the sea. She came on horseback from her home toward the village, to spend Sunday with the nuns. She got off her horse when she saw me, and lit a cigarette.

“What do you do here all alone?” she asked in French. She never used a word of Marquesan to me. I replied that I was trying to imagine myself there fifty years earlier, when the meddlesome white sang very low in the concert of the island powers.

“The people were happier then, I suppose,” she said meditatively, as she handed me her burning cigarette in the courteous way of her mother's people. “But it does not attract me. I would like to see the world I read of.”

She sat beside me on the rock, her delicately-modeled chin on her pink palm, and gazed at the colors fading from vivid gold and rose to yellow and mauve on the sky and the sea. The quietness of the scene, the gathering twilight, perhaps, too, something in the fact that I was a white man and a stranger, broke down her reserve.

“But with whom can I see that world?” she said with sudden passion. “Money—I have it. I don't want it. I want to be loved. I want a man. What shall I do? I cannot marry a native, for they do not think as I do. I—I dread to marry a Frenchman. You know le droit du mari? A French wife has no freedom.”

I cited Madame Bapp, who chastised her spouse.

“He is no man, that criquet!” she said scornfully.

“I would be better off not to marry, if I had a real man who loved me, and who would take me across the sea! What am I saying? The nuns would be shocked. I do not know—oh, I do not know what it is that tears at me! But I want to see the world, and I want a man to love me.”

“Your islands here are more beautiful than any of the developed countries,” I said. “There are many thieves there, too, to take your money.”

“I have read that,” she answered, “and I am not afraid. I am afraid of nothing. I want to know a different life than here. I will at least go to Tahiti. I am tired of the convent. The nuns talk always of religion, and I am young, and I am half French. We die young, most of us, and I have had no pleasure.”

I saw her black eyes, as she puffed her cigarette, shining with her vision. Some man would put tears in them soon, I thought, if she chose that path.

Would she be happy in Tahiti? If she could find one of her own kind, a half-caste, a paragon of kindness and fidelity, she might be. With the white she would know only torture. There is but one American that I know who has made a native girl happy. Lovina, who keeps the Tiare Hotel in Papeite and who knows the gossip of all the South Seas, told me the story one day after he had come to the hotel to fetch two dinners to his home. He had a handsome motor-car, and the man himself was so clean-looking, so precise in every word and motion, that I spoke of the contrast to the skippers, officials, and tourists who lounged about Lovina's bar.

“He is a strange one, that man,” said Lovina. “Two years ago I have nice girl here, wait on bar, look sweet, and I make her jus' so my daughter. I go America for visit, and when I come back that girl ruin'. That American take her 'way, and he come tell me straight he couldn't help it. He jus' love her—mad. He build her fine house, get automobile. She never work. Every day he come here get meals take home.”

That tall, straight chap, his hair prematurely gray, his face sad, had made the barmaid the jewel of a golden setting. He devoted himself and his income solely to her. Stranger still, he had made her his legal wife.

But she is an exception rare as rain in Aden. These native girls of mixed blood, living tragedies sprung from the uncaring selfishness of the whites, struggle desperately to lift themselves above the mire in which the native is sinking. They throw themselves away on worthless adventurers, who waste their little patrimony, break their hearts, and either desert them after the first flush of passion passes, or themselves sink into a life of lazy slovenliness worse than that of the native.

All these things I pondered when Mlle. N—— spoke of her hope of finding happiness in Tahiti. I was sure that, with her wealth, she would have many suitors,—but what of a tender heart?

“It is love I want,” she said. “Love and freedom. We women are used to having our own way. I know the nuns would be horrified, but I shall bind myself to no man.”

The last colors of the sunset faded slowly on the sea, and the world was a soft gray filled with the radiance of the rising moon. I rose and when Mile. N—— had mounted I strolled ahead of her horse in the moonlight. I was wearing a tuberose over my ear, and she remarked it.

“You know what that signifies? If a man seeks a woman, he wears a white flower over his ear, and if his love grows ardent, he wears a red rose or hibiscus. But if he tires, he puts some green thing in their place. Bon dieu! That is the depth of ignominy for the woman scorned. I remember one girl who was made light of that way in church. She stayed a day hidden in the hills weeping, and then she threw herself from a cliff.”

There was in her manner a melancholy and a longing.

“Tahitians wear flowers all the day,” I said. “They are gay, and life is pleasant upon their island. There are automobiles by the score, cinemas, singing, and dancing every evening, and many Europeans and Americans. With money you could have everything.”

“It is not singing and dancing I desire!” she exclaimed. “Pas de tout! I must know more people, and not people like priests and these copra dealers. I have read in novels of men who are like gods, who are bold and strong, but who make their women happy. Do you know an officer of the Zelee, with hair like a ripe banana? He is tall and plays the banjo. I saw him one time long ago when the warship was here. He was on the governor's veranda. Oh, that was long ago, but such a young man would be the man that I want.”

Her Marquesan blood was speaking in that cry of the heart, unrestrained and passionate. They are not the cold, chaste women of other climes, these women of the Marquesas; with blood at fever heat and hearts beating like wild things against bars, they listen when love or its counterfeit pours into their ears those soft words with nothing in them that make a song. They have no barriers of reserve or haughtiness; they make no bargains; they go where the heart goes, careless of certified vows.

Mon dieu!” Mademoiselle N—— exclaimed and put her tiny hand to her red lips. “What if the good sisters heard me? I am bad. I know. Eh bien! I am Marquesan after all.”

We were about to cross the stream by my cabin, and I mounted the horse behind her to save a wetting. She turned impulsively and looked at me, her lovely face close to mine, her dark eyes burning, and her hot breath on my cheek.

“Write to me when you are in Tahiti, and tell me if you think I would be happy there?” she said imploringly. “I have no friends here, except the nuns. I need so much to go away. I am dying here.”

Coming up my trail a few days later, I found on my paepae a shabbily dressed little bag-of-bones of a white man, with a dirty gray beard and a harsh voice like that of Baufré. He had a note to me from Le Brunnec, introducing M. Lemoal, born in Brest, a naturalized American. The note was sealed, and I put it carefully away before turning to my visitor. It read:


“I send you a specimen of the Marquesan beaches, so that you can have a little fun. This fellow have a very tremendous life. He is an old sailor, pirate, gold-miner, Chinese-hanger, thief, robber, honest-man, baker, trader; in a word, an interesting type. With the aid of several glasses of wine I have put him in the mood to talk delightfully.”

A low-browed man was Lemoal, sapped and ruthless, but certainly he had adventured.

Was the Bella Union Theater still there in Frisco? Did they still fight in Bottle Meyers, and was his friend Tasset on the police force yet? His memories of San Francisco ante-dated mine. He had been a hoodlum there, and had helped to hang Chinese. He had gone to Tahiti in 1870 and made a hundred thousand francs keeping a bakery. That fortune had lasted him during two years' tour of the world.

“Now I'm bust,” he said bitterly. “Now I got no woman, no children, no friends, and I don't want none. I am by myself and damn everybody!”

I soothed his misanthropy with two fingers of rum, and he mellowed into advice.

“I saw you with that daughter of Liha-Liha,” he said, using the native name of the dead millionaire. “You be careful. One time I baked bread in Taaoa. My oven was near his plantation. I saw that girl come into the woods and take off her dress. She had a mirror to see her back, and I looked, and the sun shone bright. What she saw, I saw—a patch of white. She is a leper, that rich girl.”

His eyes were full of hate.

“You don't like her,” I said. “Why?”

“Why? Why?” he screamed. “Because her father was an accursed villian. He was always kissing the dirty hands of the priests. He used to give his workmen opium to make them work faster, and then he would go to church. He made his money, yes. He was damn hypocrite. And now his daughter, with all that rotten money, is a leper. I tell everybody what I saw. Everybody here knows it but you. Everybody will know it in Tahiti if she goes there.”

The man was like a snake to me. I threw away the glass he had drunk from. And yet—was it idle curiosity, or was it fear of being shut away in the valley outside Papeite by the quarantine officers, that made her ask me that question about the segregation of lepers?

Liha-Liha had spent thirty years making money. He had coined the sweat and blood and lives of a thousand Marquesans into a golden fortune, and he had left behind him that fortune, a marble tomb, and Mlle. N——.




A journey to Nuka-hiva; story of the celebration of the fête of Joan of Arc, and the miracles of the white horse and the girl.

Père Victorien said that I must not leave the Marquesas before I visited the island of Nuka-hiva seventy miles to the northward and saw there in Tai-o-hae, the capital of the northern group of islands, a real saint.

“A wonderful servant of Christ,” he said, “Père Simeon Delmas. He is very old, and has been there since the days of strife. He has not been away from the islands for fifty years, but God preserves him for His honor and service. Père Simeon would be one of the first in our order were he in Europe, but he is a martyr and wishes to earn his crown in these islands and die among his charges. He is a saint, as truly as the blessed ones of old.

“It was he who planned the magnificent celebration of the feast of Joan of Arc some years ago, and as to miracles, I truly believe that the keeping safe of the white horse during the terrible storm and perhaps even the preservation of a maiden worthy to appear in the armor of the Maid, are miracles as veritable as the apparition at Lourdes. Pour moi, I am convinced that Joan is one of the most glorious saints in heaven, and that Père Simeon himself is of the band of blessed martyrs.”

“Ah, Père Victorien, I would like nothing better than to meet that good man,” I said, “but I am at a loss to get to Tai-o-hae. The Roberta, Capriata's steamer, will not be here for many weeks, and there is no other in the archipelago just now.”

“You shall return with me in the Jeanne d'Arc,” he replied quickly. “It may be an arduous voyage for you, but you will be well repaid.”

A fortnight later his steersman came running to my cabin to tell me to be ready at one o'clock in the morning.

The night was a myriad of stars on a vast ebon canopy. One could see only shadows in denser shadows, and the serene sure movements of the men as they lifted the whale-boat from Bauda's shed and carried it lightly to the water were mysterious to me. Their eyes saw where mine were blind. Père Victorien and I were seated in the boat, and they shoved off, breast-deep in the turmoil of the breakers, running alongside the bobbing craft until it was in the welter of foam and, then with a chorus, in unison, lifting themselves over the sides and seizing the oars before the boat could turn broadside to the shore.

“He-ee Nuka-hiva!” they sang in a soft monotone, while they pulled hard for the mouth of the bay. The priest and I were fairly comfortable in the stern, the steersman perched behind us on the very edge of the combing, balancing himself to the rise and fall of the boat as an acrobat on a rope. I laid my head on my bag and fell asleep before the sea had been reached. The last sound in my ears was the voice of Père Victorien reciting his rosary.

I awoke to find a breeze careening our sail and the Jeanne d'Arc rushing through a pale blue world—pale blue water, pale blue sky, and, it seemed, pale blue air. No single solid thing but the boat was to be seen in the indefinite immensity. Sprawling on its bottom in every attitude of limp relaxation, the oarsmen lay asleep; only Père Victorien was awake, his hands on the tiller and his eyes gazing toward the east.

Bonjour!” said he. “You have slept well. Your angel guardian thinks well of you. The dawn comes.”

I asked him if I might relieve him of tiller and sheet, and he, with an injunction to keep the sail full and far, unpocketed his breviary, and was instantly absorbed in its contents.

Our tack was toward the eastern distance, and no glimpse of land or cloud made us aught but solitary travelers in illimitable space. The sun was beneath the deep, but in the hush of the pale light one felt the awe of its coming. Slowly a faint glow began to gild a line that circled the farthest east. Gold it was at first, like a segment of a marriage ring, then a bolt of copper shot from the level waters to the zenith and a thousand vivid colors were emptied upon the sky and the sea. Roses were strewn on the glowing waste, rose and gold and purple curtained the horizon, and suddenly, without warning, abrupt as lightning, the sun beamed hot above the edge of the world.

The Marquesans stirred, their bodies stretched and their lungs expanded in the throes of returning consciousness. Then one sat up and called loudly, “A titahi a atu! Another day!” The others rose, and immediately began to uncover the popoi bowl. They had canned fish and bread, too, and ate steadily, without a word, for ten minutes. The steersman, who had joined them, returned to the helm, and the priest and I enjoyed the bananas and canned beef with water from the jug, and cigarettes.

All day the Jeanne d'Arc held steadily on the several tacks we steered, and all day no living thing but bird or fish disturbed the loneliness of the great empty sea. Père Victorien read his breviary or told his beads in abstracted contemplation, and I, lying on the bottom of the boat with my hat shielding my eyes from the beating rays of the sun, pondered on what I knew of Tai-o-hae, the port on the island of Nuka-hiva, to which we were bound.

For two hundred years after the discovery of the southern group—the islands we had left behind us—the northern group was still unknown to the world. Captain Ingraham, of Boston, found Nuka-hiva in 1791, and called the seven small islets the Washington Islands. Twenty years later, during the war of 1812, Porter refitted his ships there to prey upon the British, and but for the perfidy,—or, from another view, the patriotism,—of an Englishman in his command, Porter might have succeeded in making the Marquesas American possessions.

Tai-o-hae became the seat of power of the whites in the islands; it waxed in importance, saw admirals, governors, and bishops sitting in state on the broad verandas of government buildings, witnessed that new thing, the making of a king and queen, knew the stolid march of convicts, white and brown, images of saints carried in processions, and schools opened to regenerate the race of idol-worshippers.

Tai-o-hae saw all the plans of grandeur wane, saw saloons and opium, vice and disease, fastened upon the natives, and saw the converted, the old gods overthrown, the new God reigning, cut down like trees when the fire runs wild in the forest.

The dream of minting the strength and happiness of the giant men of the islands into gold for the white labor-kings dissolved into a nightmare as the giants perished. It was hard to make the free peoples toil as slaves for foreign masters, so the foreign masters brought opium. To get this “Cause of Wonder Sleep,” of more delight than kava, the Marquesan was taught to hoe and garner cotton, to gather copra and even to become the servant of the white man. The hopes of the invaders were rosy. They faded quickly. The Marquesans faded faster. The saloons of Tai-o-hae were gutters of drunkenness. The paepaes were wailing-places for the dead. No government arrested vice or stopped the traffic in death-dealing drugs until too late. Then, with no people left to exploit, the colonial ministers in Paris forgot the Marquesas.

In the lifetime of a man, Tai-o-hae swelled from a simple native village with thousands of healthy, happy people, to the capital of an archipelago, with warships, troops, prisons, churches, schools, and plantations, and reverted to a deserted, melancholy beach, with decaying, uninhabited buildings testifying to catastrophe. Since Kahuiti, my man-eating friend of Taaoa, was born, the cycle had been completed.

I was on my way now to see, in Tai-o-hae, a man who was giving his life to bring the white man's religion to the few dying natives who remained.

At dusk the wind died, and we put out the oars. Hour after hour the rowers pulled, chanting at times ancient lays of the war-canoes, of the fierce fights of their fathers when hundreds fed the sharks after the destruction of their vessels by the conquerors, and of the old gods who had reigned before the white men came. Père Victorien listened musingly.

“They should be singing of the Blessed Mother or of Joan,” he said with sorrow. “But when they pull so well I cannot deny them a thread of that old pagan warp. Those devils whom they once worshipped wait about incessantly for a word of praise. They hate the idea that we are hurrying to the mission, and they would like well to delay us.”

Whatever the desires of those devils, they were balked, for the wind came fair during the second night, and when the second dawning came we were in the bay of Tai-o-hae.

It was a basin of motionless green water, held in the curve of a shore shaped like a horseshoe, with two huge headlands of rock for the calks. The beach was a rim of white between the azure of the water and the dark green of the hills that rose steeply from it. Above them the clouds hung in varying shapes, here lit by the sun to snowy fleece, there black and lowering. On the lower slopes a few houses peeped from the embowering parau trees, and on a small hill, near the dismantled fort, the flag of France drooped above the gendarme's cabin.

By eight o'clock in the morning, when we reached the shore, the beach was shimmering in the sunlight, the sand gleaming under the intense rays as if reflecting the beams of gigantic mirrors. Heat-waves quivered in the moist air.

This was the beach that had witnessed the strange career of John Howard, a Yankee sailor who had fled a Yankee ship fifty years before and made his bed for good and all in the Marquesas. Lying Bill Pincher had told me the story. Howard, known to the natives as T'yonny, had been welcomed by them in their generous way, and the tahuna had decorated him from head to foot in the very highest style of the period. In a few years, what with this tattooing and with sunburn, one would have sworn him to be a Polynesian. He was ambitious, and by alliances acquired an entire valley, which he left to his son, T'yonny Junior. Mr. Howard, senior, garbed himself like the natives and was like them in many ways, but he retained a deep love for his country and its flag, and when he saw an American man-of-war entering the harbor, he went aboard with his many tawny relatives-in-law.

The captain was amazed to hear him talking with the sailors.

“'E was blooming well knocked off 'is pins,” said Lying Bill. “‘Blow me!’ 'e sez, ‘if that blooming cannibal don't talk the King's English as if 'e was born in New York!’ 'E 'ad 'im down in the cabin to 'ave a drink, thinking 'e was a big chief. 'Oward took a cigar and smoked it and drank 'is whiskey with a gulp and a wry face like all Americans.

“‘I must say,’ sez the captain, ‘you're the most intelligent 'eathen I've seen in the 'ole blooming run.’

“‘'Eathen?’ sez 'Oward. ‘Me a 'eathen! I was born in Iowa, and I'm a blooming good American.’”

“‘What, you an American citizen?’ sez the captain. ‘Born in my own state, and painted up like Sitting Bull on the warpath? Get off this ship,’ sez 'e, wild, ‘get off this ship, or I'll put you in irons and take you back to the blooming jail you escaped from!’

“'Oward leaped over the side and swum ashore.”

An avenue ran the length of the beach, shaded by trees, and crossing a gentle stream. Along this avenue was all the life and commerce of Tai-o-hae. Two traders' shops, empty offices, a gendarme, a handful of motley half-castes lounging under the trees—this was all that was left of former greatness. Only nature had not changed. It flung over the broken remnants of the glory and the dream its lovely cloak of verdure and of flower. Man had almost ceased to be a figure in the scene he had dominated for untold centuries.

Crossing the stepping-stones of the brook we met a darkish, stout man in overalls.

“Good morn',” he said pleasantly. I looked at him and guessed his name at once.

“Good-morning,” I answered. “You are the son of T'yonny.”

“My father, Mist' Howard, dead,” he said. “You Menike like him?”

Before I could answer something entered my ear and something my nose. These somethings buzzed and bit fearsomely. I coughed and sputtered. An old woman on the bank was sitting in the smudge of a fire of cocoanut husks. She was scratching her arms and legs, covered with angry red blotches.

“The nonos never stop biting,” she said in French. These nonos are the dread sand-flies that Père Victorien had run from to get some sleep in Atuona. They are a kind of gadfly, red-hot needles on wings.

We sauntered along the road, tormented by the buzzing pests at which we constantly slapped and, crossing a tiny bridge over the brook, approached the Mission of Tai-o-hae, that once pompous and powerful center of the diffusion of the faith throughout the Marquesas. The road was lined with guavas, mangos, cocoanuts, and tamarinds, all planted with precision and care. The ambitious fathers who had begun these plantings scores of years before had provided the choicest fruits for their table. All over the world the members of the great religious orders of Europe have carried the seeds of the best varieties of fruits and flowers, of trees and shrubs and vegetables; more than organized science they deserve the credit for introducing non-native species into all climes.

About the mission grounds was a stone wall, stout and fairly high, which had assured protection when orgies of indulgence in rum had made the natives brutal. The clergy must survive if souls are to be saved. Within the wall stood the church, the school, and a rambling rectory, all made beautiful by age and the artistry of tropical nature. Mosses and lichens, mosaics of many shades of green, faint touches of red and yellow mould, covered the old walls which were fast decaying and falling to pieces.

By the half-unhinged door stood an old man of venerable figure, his long beard still dark, though his hair was quite white. He wore a soiled soutane down to the ankles of his rusty shoes, a sweaty, stained, smothering gown of black broadcloth, which rose and fell with his hurried respiration. His eyes of deepest brown, large and lustrous, were the eyes of an old child, shining with simple enthusiasms and lit with a hundred memories of worthy accomplishments or efforts.

Père Simeon Delmas' church at Tai-o-hae

Gathering the feis in the mountains

Père Victorien presented me, saying that I was a lover of the Marquesas, and specially interested in Joan of Arc. Père Simeon seized me by the hand and, drawing me toward him, gave me the accolade as if I were a reunited brother. Then he presented me to a Marquesan man at his side, “Le chef de l'isle de Huapu,” who was waiting to escort him to that island that he might say mass and hear confession. The chief was for leaving at once, and Père Simeon lamented that he had no time in which to talk to me.

I said I had heard it bruited in my island of Hiva-oa that the celebration of the fete of Joan of Arc had been marked by extraordinary events indicating a special appreciation by the heavenly hosts.

Tears came into the eyes of the old priest. He dismissed the chief at once, and after saying farewell to Père Victorien, who was embarking immediately for his own island of Haitheu, Père Simeon and I entered his study, a pitifully shabby room where rickety furniture, quaking floor, tattered wall-coverings, and cracked plates and goblets spelled the story of the passing of an institution once possessing grandeur and force. Seated in the only two sound chairs, with wine and cigarettes before us, we took up the subject so dear to Père Simeon's heart.

“I am glad if you cannot be a Frenchman that at least you are not an Englishman,” he said fervently. “God has punished England for the murder of Jeanne d'Arc. That day at Rouen when they burned my beloved patroness ended England. Now the English are but merchants, and they have a heretical church.

“You should have seen the honors we paid the Maid here. Mais, Monsieur, she has done much for these islands. The natives love her. She is a saint. She should be canonized. But the opposition will not down. There is reason to believe that the devil, Satan himself, or at least important aides of his, are laboring against the doing of justice to the Maid. She is powerful now, and doubtless has great influence with the Holy Virgin in Heaven, but as a true saint she would be invincible.” The old priest's eyes shone with his faith.

“You do not doubt her miraculous intercession?” I asked.

Père Simeon lit another cigarette, watered his wine, and lifted from a shelf a sheaf of pamphlets. They were hectographed, not printed from type, for he is the human printing-press of all this region, and all were in his clear and exquisite writing. He held them and referred to them as he went on.

“She was born five hundred years ago on the day of the procession in Tai-o-hae. That itself is a marvel. Such an anniversary occurs but twice in a millennium. After all my humble services in these islands that I should be permitted to be here on such a wonderful day proves to me the everlasting mercy of God. Here is the account I have written in Marquesan of her life, and here the record of the fête upon the anniversary.”

As he showed me the brochures written beautifully in purple and red inks, recording the history of the Maid of Orleans, with many canticles in her praise, learned dissertations upon her career and holiness, maps showing her march and starred at Oleane, Kopiegne, and Rua to indicate that great things had occurred at Orleans, Compiègne, and Rouen, Père Simeon pointed out to me that it was of supreme importance that the Marquesan people should be given a proper understanding of the historical and geographical conditions of England and France in Joan's time.

He had spent months, even years, in preparing for the celebration of her fête-day.

“And Monsieur, by the blessed grace of Joan, only the whites got drunk. Not a Marquesan was far gone in liquor throughout the three days of the feast. There was temptation in plenty, for though I gave only the chiefs and a few intimates any wine, several of the Europeans in their enthusiasm for our dear patroness distributed absinthe and rum to those who had the price. There was a moment when it seemed touch and go between the devil and Joan. But, oh, how she came to our rescue! I reproached the whites, locked up the rum, and Joan did the rest. It was a three-days' feast of innocence.”

“But there are not many whites here?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “There are one hundred and twenty people in Tai-o-hae now, and but a few are whites. Alas, mon ami, they do not set a good example. They mean well; they are brave men, but they do not keep the commandments. Here is a chart I drew showing the rise of the church since Peter. It is divided into twenty periods, and I have allotted the fifteenth to Joan. She well merits a period.”

My mind continually harked back to the prompting of Père Victorien concerning the horse and the girl of the jubilee.

“There were signs at the commemoration?” I interposed.

Père Simeon glanced at me eagerly. His naivete was not of ignorance of men and their motives. He had confessed royalty, cannibals, pirates, and nuns. The souls of men were naked under his scrutiny. But his faith burned like a lambent flame, and to win to the standard of the Maid of Orleans one who would listen was a duty owed her, and a rare chance to aid a fellow mortal.

He rose and brushed the cigarette ashes down the front of his frayed cassock as an old native woman responded to his call and brought another bottle of Bordeaux. The nonos were incessantly active. I slapped at them constantly and sucked at the wounds they made. But he paid no attention to them at all except when they attacked him under his soutane; then he struck convulsively at the spot.

“God sends us such trials to brighten our crown,” he said comfortingly. “I have seen white men dead from the nonos. They were not here in the old days, but since the jungle has overrun us because of depopulation, they are frightful. During the mass, when the priest cannot defend himself, they are worst, as if sent by the devil who hates the holy sacrifice. But, mon vieux, you were asking about those signs. Alors, I will give the facts to you, and you can judge.”

He poured me a goblet of the wine; I removed my cotton coat, covered my hands with it, against the gadflies, and prepared to listen.

“Seven years before the great anniversary,” said Père Simeon, sipping his wine, “I thought out my plan. There would be masses, vespers, benedictions, litanies, and choirs. But my mind was set upon a representation of the Maid as she rode into Rheims to crown the king after her victories. She was, you will remember, clothed all in white armor and rode a white horse, both the emblems of purity. That was the note I would sound, for I believe too much had been made of Joan the warrior, Joan the heroine, and not enough of Joan the saint. Oh, Monsieur, there have been evil forces at work there!”

He clasped his thigh with both hands and groaned, and I knew that though a nono had bitten him there, his anguish was more of soul than body. I lighted his cigarette, as he proceeded:

“Two things were needful above all; a handsome white horse and a Marquesan girl of virtue. Three years before the jubilee I was enabled, through a gift inspired by Joan, to buy a horse of that kind in Hiva-oa. I had this mare pastured on that island until the time came for bringing her here.

“Now as to the girl, I found in the nun's school a child who was beautiful, strong, and good. Her father was the captain of a foreign vessel and had dwelt here for a time; he was of your country. Of the mother I will not speak. The girl was everything to be desired. But this was seven years before the day of the fête. That was a difficulty.

“I stressed to the good sisters the absolute necessity of bringing up the child in the perfect path of sanctity. I had her dedicated to Joan, and special prayers were said by me and by the nuns that the evil one would not trap her into the sins of other Marquesan girls. Also she was observed diligently. For seven years we watched and prayed, and Monsieur, we succeeded. I will not say that it was a miracle, but it was a very striking triumph for Joan.

“That for the human; now for the beast. A month before the fête I commissioned Captain Capriata to bring the mare to Tai-o-hae in his schooner. The animal came safely to the harbor. She was still on deck when a storm arose, and Capriata thought it best for him to lift his anchor and go to the open sea. The wind was driving hard toward the shore, and there was danger of shipwreck.”

The old priest stood up and, leading me to a window, pointed to the extreme end of the horseshoe circle of the bay.

“See that point,” he said. “Right there, just as Capriata swung his vessel to head for the sea, the mare broke loose from her halter, and in a bound reached the rail of the schooner and leaped into the waves. Capriata could do nothing. The schooner was in peril, and he, with his hand upon the wheel and his men at the sails, could only utter an oath. He confesses he did that, and you will find no man more convinced of the miracle than he.”

The aged missionary paused, his eyes glowing. The nonos that settled in a swarm on his swollen, poisoned hands were nothing to him in the rapture of that memory.

“This happened at night. Throughout the darkness the schooner stayed outside the bay, returning only at daylight. Immediately after anchoring, the captain hastened to inform me of the misfortune, and found me saying mass. It was one of the few times he had ever been in the sacred edifice.”

Père Simeon smiled, and held up one finger to emphasize my attention. “As soon as mass was finished, Capriata told me of what had happened, and his certainty that the mare was drowned. I fell on my knees and said a despairing prayer to Joan. That instant we heard a neigh outside, and rushing out of the church, we saw, cropping the grass in the mission enclosure, the white mare that was destined to bear the figure of Joan in the celebration of her fete.”

I could not restrain an exclamation of amazement. “Vraiment?

Absolument,” answered Père Simeon. “Unbelievers might explain that waves swept the mare ashore, and that through some instinct she found her way along the beach or over the hills. But that she should come to the mission grounds, to the very spot where her home was to be, though she had never seen the islands before—no, my friend, not even the materialist could explain that as less than supernatural. I have sent the proofs to our order in Belgium. They will form part of the evidence that will one day be offered to bring about the canonization of Joan.”

“And the procession, was it successful?” I inquired.

Mais oui! It was magnificent. When it started there was a grand fanfare of trumpets, drums, fireworks, and guns. Never was there such a noise here since the days of battle between the whites and the natives. There were four choirs of fifty voices each, the natives from all these nearby islands, each with a common chant in French and particular himines in Marquesan. I walked first with the Blessed Sacrament; then came Captain Capriata with the banner of the mission, and then, proceeded by a choir, came the virgin on the white horse.

“She was all in silver armor, as was the mare. Two years before I had sent to France for the pasteboard and the silver paper, and had made the armor. The helmet was the pièce de résistance. The girl wore it as the Maid herself, and sat the horse without faltering, despite the nonos and the heat. It was a wonderful day for Joan and for the Marquesas.”

He sat for a moment lost in the vision.

“So it was all as you had planned?”

Mon ami, it was not I, but Joan herself, to whom all honor belongs. There was a moment—Captain Capriata had taken absinthe with his morning popoi, and was unsteady. He stumbled. I called to him to breathe a prayer to his patron saint—he is of Ajaccio in Corsica—and to call upon Joan for aid. He straightened up at once, after one fall, and bore the white banner of the Maid in good style from the mission to the deserted inn by the leper-house.

“We had three superb feasts, one on each day of the fête. We had speeches and songs, three masses a day to accommodate all, four first communicants, and two marriages. I will tell you, though it may be denied by the commercial missionaries, that five protestants attended and recanted.”

Père Simeon's eyes flashed as he recalled those memorable days. He fell into a reverie, scratching his legs after the nonos and letting his cigarette go out.

I arose to depart. He must go to Huapu with the chief, who was again at the door,

“And did the fête help the parish?” I asked with that bromidic zeal to please that so often discloses the fly just when the ointment's smell is sweetest.

“Alas!” he replied, with a sorrowful shake of his beard. “Even the girl who had worn the white armor leaped from the mast of a ship to escape infamy and was drowned. Yet there was grandeur of sacrifice in that. But for the others, they die fast, too. Some day the priest will be alone here without a flock.”

He picked up a garment or two, placed the Holy Sacrament with pious care in his breast, and we walked together through the mournful and decaying village, passing a few melancholy natives.

I said to Père Simeon as he stepped into the canoe, “You are like a shepherd who pursues his sheep wherever they may wander, to gather them into the fold at last.”

C'est vrai,” he smiled sadly. “The bishop himself had to go to Hiva-oa from here, because there were really not enough people left alive for the seat of his bishopric. At least, there will be some here when I die, for I am old. Ah, thirty years ago, when I came here, there were souls to be saved! Thousands of them. But I love the last one. There are still a hundred left on Huapu. There is work yet, for the devil grows more active yearly.”




America's claim to the Marquesas; adventures of Captain Porter in 1812; war between Haapa and Tai-o-hae, and the conquest of Typee valley.

America might have been responsible for the death of the Marquesan race had not the young nation been engaged in a deadly struggle with Great Britain when an American naval captain, David Porter, seized Nuka-hiva. A hundred years ago the Stars and Stripes floated over the little hill above the bay, and American cannon upon it commanded the village of Tai-o-hae. Beneath the verdure is still buried the proclamation of Porter, with coins of the young republic, unless the natives dug up the bottle after the destruction of the last of Porter's forces. They witnessed the ceremony of its planting, which must have appeared to them a ritual to please the powerful gods of the whites. Unless respect for the tapu placed on the bottle by “Opotee” restrained them, they probably brought it to the light and examined the magic under its cork.

The adventures of Porter here were as strange and romantic as those of any of the hundreds of the gypsies of the sea who sailed this tropic and spilled the blood of a people unused to their ways and ignorant of their inventions and weapons of power.

Porter had left the United States in command of the frigate Essex, to destroy British shipping, capture British ships, and British sailors. Porter, son and nephew of American naval officers, destined to be foster-father of Farragut, the first American admiral, and father of the great Admiral Porter, was then in his early thirties and loved a fight. He harried the British in the Atlantic, doubled Cape Horn without orders, and did them evil on the high seas, and at last, with many prisoners and with prize crews aboard his captures, he made for the Marquesas to refresh his men, repair his ships, and get water, food, and wood for the voyage home.

In Tai-o-hae Bay he moored his fleet, and was met by flocks of friendly canoes and great numbers of the beautiful island women, who swam out to meet the strangers. Among them he found Wilson, an Englishman who had long been here and who was tattooed from head to foot. On first seeing this man Porter was strongly prejudiced against him, but found him extremely useful as an interpreter, and concluded that he was an inoffensive fellow whose only failing was a strong attachment to rum. With Wilson's eagerly offered help, Porter made friends with the people of Tai-o-hae, established a camp on shore, and set about revictualing his fleet.

The tribes of Tai-o-hae, or Tieuhoy, as Porter called it, were annoyed by the combative Hapaa tribe, or collection of tribes, which dwelt in a nearby valley, and these doughty warriors came within half a mile of the American camp, cut down the breadfruit trees, and made hideous gestures of derision at the white men. In response, Porter landed a six-pound gun, tremendously heavy, and said that if the Tai-o-hae tribe would carry it to the top of a high mountain overlooking the Hapaa valley, he would drive the Hapaas from the hills where they stood and threatened to descend.

To Porter's amazement, the Tai-o-hae men, surmounting incredible difficulties, laid the gun in position, and as the Hapaas scorned the futile-looking contrivance and declared that they would not make peace with the whites, Porter sent his first assistant with forty men, armed with muskets and accompanied by natives carrying these weapons and ammunition for the cannon.

The battle began with a great roar of exploding gunpowder, and from the ships the Americans saw their men driving from height to height the Hapaas, who fought as they retreated, daring the enemy to follow them. A friendly native bore the American flag and waved it in triumph as he skipped from crag to crag, well in the rear of the white men who pursued the fleeing enemy.

In the afternoon the victorious forces descended, carrying five dead. The Hapaas, fighting with stones flung from slings and with spears, had taken refuge, to the number of four or five thousand, in a fortress on the brow of a hill. Not one of them had been wounded, and from their impassable heights they threw down jeers and showers of stones upon the retiring Tai-o-haes and their white allies.

This was intolerable. On the second day, with augmented forces, the Americans stormed the height and took the fort, killing many Hapaas, who, knowing nothing of the effect of musket bullets, fought till dead. The wounded were dispatched with war-clubs by the Tai-o-haes, who dipped their spears in the blood. Wilson said the Tai-o-haes would eat the corpses. Porter, horrified, interrogated his allies, who denied any such horrid appetite, so that Porter was not sure what to believe.

The Hapaas were now become lovers of the whites, and sent a deputation to complain that the Taipis (Typees), in another valley, harrassed them and, being their traditional enemies, were contemplating raiding Hapaa Valley. The Typees were the most terrible of all the Nuka-hivans, with four thousand fighting men, with strongest fortifications and the most resolute hearts.

The Typees were informed that they must be peaceful, also that they must send many presents as proof of friendliness, or the white men would drive them from their valley. The Typees replied that if Porter were strong enough, he could come and take them. They said the Americans were white lizards; they could not climb the mountains without Marquesans to carry their guns, and yet they talked of chastising the Typees, who had never fled before an enemy and whose gods were unbeatable. They dared the white men to come among them.

At this juncture Porter faced treachery in his own camp. He had many English prisoners captured from British ships, and these made a plot to escape by poisoning the rum of the Americans. Porter learned of this, and finding an American sentry asleep he shot him with his own hand, and ordered every Englishman put in irons. He was also troubled by mutinies among his own men, who were loth to face any more battles, being contented as they were with plenty of drink, the best of food, and the passionate devotion of the native women, who thronged the camp day and night. With no light hand Porter put down revolt and mutiny, and prepared to begin war on the Typees.

First he built a strong fort, assisted by the Tai-o-haes and Hapaas, and there he took possession of the Marquesas in the name of the United States. On November 19, 1813, the American flag was run up over the fort, a salute of seventeen guns was fired from the artillery mounted there and answered from the ships in the bay. Rum was freely distributed, and standing in a great concourse of wondering natives, with the Englishman, Wilson, at his side interpreting his words, Porter read the following proclamation:

It is hereby made known to the world that I, David Porter, a captain in the navy of the United States of America, now in command of the United States frigate Essex, have, on the part of the United States, taken possession of the island called by the natives Nooaheevah, generally known by the name of Sir Henry Martin's Island, but now called Madison's Island. That by the request and assistance of the friendly tribes residing in the valley of Tieuhoy, as well as of the tribes residing on the mountains, whom we have conquered and rendered tributary to our flag, I have caused the village of Madison to be built, consisting of six convenient houses, a rope-walk, bakery, and other appurtenances, and for the protection of the same, as well as for that of the friendly natives, I have constructed a fort calculated for mounting sixteen guns, whereon I have mounted four, and called the same Fort Madison.

Our rights to this island being founded on Priority of discovery, conquest, and possession, cannot be disputed. But the natives, to secure to themselves that friendly protection which their defenseless situation so much required, have requested to be admitted into the great American family, whose pure republican policy approaches so near their own. And in order to encourage these views to their own interest and happiness, as well as to render secure our claim to an island valuable on many considerations, I have taken on myself to promise them that they shall be so adopted; that our chief shall be their chief; and they have given assurances that such of their brethren as may hereafter visit them from the United States shall enjoy a welcome and hospitable reception among them and be furnished with whatever refreshments and supplies the island may afford; that they will protect them against all their enemies and as far as lies in their power prevent the subjects of Great Britain from coming among them until peace shall take place between the two nations.

There followed a list of the tribes from whom Porter had received presents, to the number of thirty-one tribes, and the document continued:

Influenced by considerations of humanity, which promise speedy civilization to a race of men who enjoy every mental and bodily endowment which nature can bestow, and which requires only art to perfect, as well as by views of policy, which secure to my country a fruitful and populous island possessing every advantage of security and supplies for ships, and which of all others is most happily situated as respects climate and local position, I do declare that I have, in the most solemn manner, under the American flag displayed in Fort Madison and in the presence of numerous witnesses, taken possession of the said island for the use of the United States.

To the guileless natives, made happy with rum, listening to the necessarily imperfect translation of these words, the ceremony may well have been a strange magic to unknown gods, but it is not difficult to imagine the feelings of Wilson, the tattooed Englishman, as he translated this proclamation giving the rich and happy islands to a country at war with his own. He listened and repeated, however, with patriotic protests unuttered, and prepared to assist Porter in his contemplated war against the Typees.

A week later one of the warships, with five boats and ten war-canoes, sailed for the Typee beach. Ten canoes of Hapaas joined them there. The tops of all the neighboring mountains were thronged with friendly warriors armed with clubs, spears, and slings, and altogether not less than five thousand men were in the forces under Porter, among them thirty-five Americans with guns, which he thought enough.

The Typees pelted them with stones as they sat at breakfast, and Porter sent a native ambassador, offering peace at the price of submission. He came back, running madly and bruised by his reception. Porter then ordered the advance.

The company advanced into the bushes, and were received by a veritable rain of stones and spears. Not an enemy was in sight. On all sides they heard the snapping sound of the slings, the whistling of the stones, the sibilant hiss of the spears that at every step fell in increasing numbers, but they could not see whence they came, and no whisper or rustle of underbrush revealed the lurking Typees.

They pushed on, hoping to get through the thicket, which Wilson had assured them was of no great extent. Lieutenant Down's leg was shattered by a stone, and Porter had to send a party with him to the rear. This left but twenty-four white men. The native allies did no fighting, but merely looked on. They were not going to make bitterer enemies of the Typees if the godlike whites could not whip them. The situation was desperate.

However, Porter chose to go on. They crossed a river, and in a jungle had to crawl on their hands and knees to make progress. They thought themselves happy to make their way through this, but immediately found themselves confronted by a high wall of rock, beyond which the enemy took their stand and showered down stones. The cartridges were almost exhausted. Porter sent four men to the ship for more, and, with three men knocked senseless by stones, was reduced to sixteen men.

There was nothing to do but run for safety, and pursued by the sneering foe, they gained the beach. Thence he sent another messenger to the Typees offering them another chance to surrender and pay tribute.

The Typees returned word that they “had driven the whites before them, that their guns missed fire often, that bullets were not as painful as stones or spears, that they had plenty of men to spare and the whites had not. They had counted the boats, knew the number they would carry, and laughed at the whites.”

The Hapaas and other allies came down from the hills and began to discuss the victory of the Typees, with fear in their voices and a certain disdain of the whites. Porter ordered his men into the boats to return to the ship, but scarcely had they reached it when the Typees rushed on the Hapaas and drove them into the water. Porter returned to Tai-o-hae.

There he saw no alternative but to whip the Typees soundly. This time he determined to lack no force, and to go without allies. He selected two hundred men from his ships and prizes, and, with guides, upon a moonlight evening started to march overland to Typee Valley.

At midnight they heard the drums beating in Typee Valley. They had had a fearful march over mountain and dale and around yawning precipices. Silently they had struggled on, so as to give no hint of their intention to Typee sentinels or even to a Hapaa village. Numbers of the Tai-o-hae had followed them, but quietly, and these now told Porter that the songs floating up from the Typee settlements were rejoicings at their victory over the Whites and prayers to the gods to send rain to spoil the guns.

Porter was for descending at once, but the Tai-o-haes warned him that the path was so steep and dangerous that even in daylight it would take all their skill to go down it. To attempt it at night would be inviting death.

The Americans lay down to rest on this height, which commanded Typee Valley, and shortly rain began to fall in torrents. Cries of joy and praise to their gods arose from the Typees. Porter and his men, huddled in puddles, unable to find shelter, and fearful that every blast of the storm might hurl them from their slippery height, tried in vain to keep muskets and powder dry.

At daybreak they found half the ammunition useless, and themselves wearied, while the steepness of the track to the valley, and its treacherous condition after the rain made it wise to seek the Hapaas for rest and food. But, first, they fired a volley to let friendly tribes know they still had serviceable weapons, and as threat and warning to the Typees. They heard the echo in the blowing of war-conches, shouts of defiance, and the squealings of the pigs which the Typees began to catch for removal to the rear.

The Hapaas were none too pleasant to the whites, and had to be forced by threats to bringing and cooking hogs and breadfruit. All day the Americans rested and prepared their arms, at night they slept, and at the next daybreak they stood again to view the scene of their approaching battle.

The valley lay far below them, about nine miles in length and three in width, surrounded on every side, except at the beach, by lofty mountains. The upper part was bounded by a precipice many hundred feet in height, from which a handsome waterfall dropped and formed a meandering stream that found its outlet in the sea. Villages were scattered here and there, in the shade of luxuriant cocoanut- and breadfruit-groves; plantations were laid out in good order, enclosed within stone walls and carefully cultivated; roads hedged with bananas cut across the spread of green; everything spoke of industry, abundance, and happiness.

A large force of Typee warriors, gathered beside the river that glided near the foot of the mountain, dared the invaders to descend. In their rear was a fortified village, secured by strong stone walls. Nevertheless, the whites started down, and in a shower of stones captured the village, killed the chief Typee warrior, and chasing his men from wall to wall, slew all who did not escape. Few fled, however; they charged repeatedly, even to the very barrels of the muskets and pistols.

Porter realized that he would have to fight his way over every foot of the valley. He cautioned conservation of cartridges, and leaving two small parties behind to guard the wounded, he, with the main body, marched onward, followed by hordes of Tai-o-hae and Hapaa men, who dispatched the wounded Typees with stones and spears. They burned and destroyed ten villages one by one as they were reached, until the head of the valley was reached.

At the foot of the waterfall they turned and began the nine-mile tramp to the bay. Again they had to meet spear and stone as they burned temples and homes, great canoes, and wooden gods. Finally Porter attained the fort that had stopped him during the first fight, and found it a magnificent piece of construction, of great basaltic slabs, impregnable from the beach side. He saw that if he had tried that entrance to the valley again, he would have failed as before. Only heavy artillery could have conquered that mighty stronghold.

From the beach the Americans climbed by an easier ascent into the mountains, leaving a desolated valley behind them, and after feasting with the Hapaas, they marched back to Tai-o-hae almost dead with fatigue.

The Typees sued for peace, and when asked for four hundred hogs sent so many that Porter released five hundred after branding them. He had made peace between all the tribes; war was at an end; and with the island subdued, Porter sailed again to make war on British shipping.

He left behind him three captured ships in charge of three officers and twenty men, with six prisoners of war, ordering them to remain five months and then go to Chile if no word came from him. Within a few days the natives began again to show the spirit of resistance and were brought to courtesy by a show of force. Then another difficulty arose. All but eight of the crew joined with the English prisoners in seizing the officers, and put Lieutenant Gamble, the commander, with four loyal seamen, adrift in a small boat, while the mutineers went to sea in one of the English ships.

The five men reached another of the ships in the bay, where they learned that Wilson had instigated the mutiny. The worst had not come, for very soon the natives, perhaps also urged on by the Englishman, murdered all the others but Gamble, one seaman, one midshipman, and five wounded men. Of the eight survivors, only one was acquainted with the management of a ship, and all were sufferings from wounds or disease. With these men Lieutenant Gamble put to sea.

After incredible hardship, he succeeded in reaching Hawaii, only to be captured by a British frigate which a few weeks earlier had assisted in the capture of the Essex and Captain Porter. The United States never ratified Porter's occupation of Nuka-hiva, and it was left for the French thirty years later to seize the group. At about the same time Herman Melville, an American sailor, ventured overland into Typee Valley, and was captured and treated as a royal guest by the Typee people. He lived there many months, and heard no whisper of the havoc wrought by his countrymen a little time before. The Typees had forgiven and forgotten it; he found them a happy, healthy, beautiful race, living peacefully and comfortably in their communistic society, coveting nothing from each other as there was plenty for all, eager to do honor to a strange guest who, they hoped, would teach them many useful things.




A visit to Typee; story of the old man who returned too late.

I said, of course, that I must visit Typee, the scene of Porter's bloody raid and Herman Melville's exploits, and while I was making arrangements to get a horse in Tai-o-hae I met Haus Ramqe, supercargo of the schooner Moana, who related a story concerning the valley.

“I was working in the store of the Socéité Comerciale de l'Ocean in Tai-o-hae when the Tropic Bird, a San Francisco mail-schooner, arrived. That was ten years ago. An old man, an American, came into our place and asked the way to Typee.

“‘Ah,’ I said, ‘you have been reading that book by Melville.’ He made no reply, but asked me to escort him to the valley. We set out on horseback, and though he had not said that he had ever been in these islands before, I saw that he was strangely interested in the scenes we passed. He was rather feeble with age, and he grew so excited as we neared the valley that I asked him what he expected to see there.

“He stopped his horse, and hesitated in his reply. He was terribly agitated.

“‘I lived in Typee once upon a time,’ he said slowly. ‘Could there by chance be a woman living there named Manu? That was a long time ago, and I was young. Still, I am here, and she may be, too.’

“I looked at him and could not tell him the truth. It was evident he had made no confidant of the captain or crew of the Tropic Bird, for they could have told him of the desolation in Typee. I hated, though, to have him plump right into the facts.

“‘How many people were there in your day?’ I asked him. He replied that there were many thousands.

“‘I lived there three years,’ he said. ‘I had a sweetheart named Manu, and I married her in the Marquesan way. I was a runaway sailor, and one night on the beach I was captured and taken away on a ship. I have been captain of a great American liner for years, always meaning to come back, and putting it off from year to year. All my people are dead, and I thought I would come now and perhaps find her here and end my days. I have plenty of money.’

“He seemed childish to me—perhaps he really had lost mental poise by age. I hadn't the courage to tell him the truth. We came on it soon enough. You must see Typee to realize what people mean to a place.

“The nonos were simply hell, but as I had lived a good many years in Tai-o-hae I was hardened to them. The old man slapped at them occasionally, but made no complaint. He hardly seemed to feel them, or to realize what their numbers meant. It was when we pushed up the trail through the valley, and he saw only deserted paepaes, that he began to look frightened.

“‘Are they all gone?’ he inquired weakly.

“‘No,’ I said, ‘there are fifteen or twenty here.’ We came to a clearing and there found the remnant of the Typees. I questioned them, but none had ever heard of him. There had been many Manus,—the word means bird,—but as they were the last of the tribe, she must have been dead before they were born, and they no longer kept in their memories the names of the dead, since there were so many, and all would be dead soon.

“The American still understood enough Marquesan to understand their answers, and taking me by the arm he left the horses and led me up the valley till he came to a spot where there were fragments of an old paepae, buried in vines and torn apart by their roots.

“‘We lived here,’ he said, and then he sat on the forsaken stones and cried. He said that they had had two children, and he had been sure that at least he would find them alive. His misery made me feel bad, and the damned nonos, too, and I cried—I don't know how damn sentimental it was, but that was the way it affected me. The old chap seemed so alone in the world.

“‘It is three miles from here to the beach,’ he said, ‘and I have seen men coming with their presents for the chief, walking a yard apart, and yet the line stretched all the way to the beach.’

“He could hardly ride back to Tai-o-hae, and he departed with the Tropic Bird without saying another word to any one.”

Typee, they told me, was half way to Atiheu and a good four miles by horse. The road had been good when the people were many, and was still the main road of the island, leading through the Valley of Hapaa. My steed was borrowed of T'yonny Howard, who, though he owned a valley, poured cement for day's wages.

“What I do?” he asked, as if I held the answer. “Nobody to help me work there. I cannot make copra alone. Even here they bring men from other place do work. Marquesan die too fast.”

If T'yonny revered his father's countrymen, his horse did not. These island horses are unhappy-looking skates, though good climbers and sliders.

“You don't need person go with you,” said the son of the former living picture. “That horsey know. You stay by him.”

The saddle must have been strange to the horsey, for uneasiness communicated itself from him to me as we set out, an uneasiness augmented to me by the incessant vicious pricks of the ever-present nonos.

The way led ever higher above the emerald bay of Tai-o-hae set in the jade of the forest, and valley after valley opened below as the trail edged upward on the face of sheer cliffs or crossed the little plateaus of their summits. Hapaa lay bathed in a purple mist that hid from me the mute tokens of depopulation; Hapaa that had given Porter its thousands of naked warriors, and that now was devoid of human beings.

Dipping slightly downward again, the trail lay on the rim of a deep declivity, a sunless gulf in which the tree-tops fell away in rank below rank into dim depths of mistiness. There was no sign of human passing on the vine-grown trail, a vague track through a melancholy wilderness that seemed to breathe death and decay. A spirit of gloom seemed to rise from the shadowed declivity, from the silence of the mournful wood and the damp darkness of the leaf-hidden earth.

I had given myself over to musing upon the past, but suddenly in the narrowest part of the trail the beast I rode turned and took my canvas-covered toes in his yellow teeth. A vague momentary flash of horror came over me. Did I bestride a metempsychosized man-eater, a revenant from the bloody days of Nuka-hiva? In those wicked eyes I saw reflected the tales of transmigatory vengeance, from the wolf of Little Red Riding Hood to the ass that one becomes who kills a Brahman. I gave vent at the same second to a shriek of anguish and struck the animal upon the nose, the tenderest part of his anatomy within reach. He released my foot, whirled, cavorted, and, as I seized a tree fern on the bank, went heels over head over the cliff.

T'yonny had said to “stay by horsey,” but he could not have foreseen the road he would take. I was sorry for him as I heard the reverberations of his crashing fall. No living thing could escape death in such a drop, for though the cliff down which he had disappeared was not absolutely perpendicular, it was nearly so. Peering over it, I could not see his corpse, for fern and tree-top hid all below. At least, I thought, he had surcease of all ills now. And so I descended the steep trail on foot—mostly on one foot—until I reached the vale of Typee.

I found myself in a loneliness indescribable and terrible. No sound but that of a waterfall at a distance parted the somber silence. The trail was through a thicket of ferns, trees, and wild flowers. The perfume of Hinano, of the vaovao, with its delicate blue flowers, and the vaipuhao, whose leaves are scented like violets, filled the heavy air, and I passed acres of kokou, which looks like tobacco, but has a yellow fruit of delicious odor. It was such a garden as the prince who woke the Sleeping Beauty penetrated to reach the palace where she lay entranced, and something of the same sense of dread magic lay upon it. Humanity was not so much absent as gone, and a feeling of doom and death was in the motionless air, which lay like a weight upon leaf and flower.

The thin, sharp buzzing of the nonos was incessant. They had come when man departed; there were none when Porter devastated the valley, nor when Melville spent his happy months here thirty years later. One must move briskly to escape them now, and I was pushing through the bushes that strove to obliterate the trail when I came upon a native.

He was so old that he must have been a youth in the valley when it was visited by the American-liner captain as a boy. He was quite nude save for a ragged cincture, and his body had shrunk and puckered, and his skin had folded and discolored until he looked as if life had ebbed away from him and left him high and dry between the past and the hereafter. A ragged chin beard, ashen in hue, hung below his gaping, empty mouth. But there was a spirit in his bosom still, for upon his head he wore a circle of bright flowers to supplement the sparse locks.

His eyes were barely openable, and his face, indeed, his whole body, was a coppery green, the soot of the candlenut, black itself, but blue upon the flesh, having turned by age to a mottled and hideous color. Only the striking patterns, where they branched from the biceps to the chest, were plain.

That he had been one of the great of Nuka-hiva was certain; the fact was stamped indelibly upon his person, and though worn and faded to the ghastly green of old copper, it remained to proclaim his lineage and his rank.

Kaoha te iki!” said this ancient, as he stood in the path.

Kaoha e!” I saluted him.

Puaka piki enata” he said further, and pointed down the trail.

What could he mean? Puaka is pig, piki is to mount or climb, and enata is man. A great white light beat about my brow. “The pig men climb?” Could he mean Rozinante, the steed to whom T'yonny had entrusted me, and who had so basely deserted his trust over a cliff?

I hurried on incredulous, and, in a clearing where there were three or four horses, beheld the suicide grazing upon the luscious grass. He had lost much cuticle, and the saddle was in shreds, but the puaka piki enata was evidently in fairly good health.

The old man had slowly followed me down the trail, and he stood within the doorway of a rude hut, blinking in the sun as he watched my movements. In the houses were altogether fewer than a dozen people. They sat by cocoanut-husk fires, the acrid smoke of which daunted the nonos.

The reason any human beings endure such tortures to remain in this gloomy, deserted spot can only be the affection the Marquesan has for his home. Not until epidemics have carried off all but one or two inhabitants in a valley can those remaining be persuaded to leave it.

This dozen of the Taipi clan are the remainder of the twenty Ramqe saw with the heartbroken American. They have clung to their lonely paepaes despite their poverty of numbers and the ferocity of the nonos. They had clearings with cocoanuts and breadfruit, but they cared no longer to cultivate them, preferring rather to sit sadly in the curling fumes and dream of the past. One old man read aloud the “Gospel of St. John” in Marquesan, and the others listlessly listened, seeming to drink in little comfort from the verses, which he recited in the chanting monotone of their uta.

Nine miles in length is Typee, from a glorious cataract that leaps over the dark buttress wall where the mountain bounds the valley, to the blazing beach. And in all this extent of marvelously rich land, the one-time fondly cherished abode of the most valiant clan of the Marquesas, of thousands of men and women whose bodies were as beautiful as the models for the statues the Greeks made, whose hearts were generous, and whose minds were eager to learn all good things, there are now this wretched dozen too old or listless to gather their own food. In the ruins of a broken and abandoned paepae, in the shadow of an acre-covering banian, I smoked and asked myself what a Christ would think of the havoc wrought by men calling themselves Christians.




Journey on the Roberta; the winged cockroaches; arrival at a Swiss paradise in the valley of Oomoa.

I sailed from Tai-o-hae for an unknown port, carried by the schooner Roberta, which had brought the white mare from Atuona and whose skipper had bore so well the white banner of Joan in the procession that did her honor. The Roberta was the only vessel in those waters and, sailing as she did at the whim of her captain and the necessities of trade, none knew when she might return to Nuka-hiva, so I could but accept the opportunity she offered of reaching the southern group of islands again, and trust to fortune or favor to return me to my own island of Hiva-oa.

The Roberta lay low in the water, not so heavily sparred as the Morning Star, or with her under-cut stern, but old and battered, built for the business of a thief-catcher, and with a history as scarred as her hull and as slippery as her decks. Was she not once the Herman, and before that something else, and yet earlier something else, built for the Russians to capture the artful poachers of the Smoky Sea? And later a poacher herself, and still later stealing men, a black-birder, seizing the unoffending natives of these South Seas and selling them into slavery of mine or plantation, of guano-heap and sickening alien clime. Her decks have run blood, and heard the wailing of the gentle savage torn from his beloved home and lashed or clubbed into submission by the superior white. Name and color and rig had changed time and again, owners and masters had gone to Davy Jones's locker; the old brass cannon on her deck had raked the villages of the Marquesans and witnessed a thousand deeds of murder and rapine.

I pulled myself aboard by a topping-lift, climbed upon the low cabin-house, and jumped down to the tiny poop where Jerome Capriata held the helm.

This Corsican, with his more than sixty years, most of them in these waters, was a Marquesan in his intuitive skill in handling his schooner in all weather, for knowing these islands by a glimpse of rock or tree, for landing and taking cargo in all seas. Old and worn, like the Roberta, he was known to all who ranged the southern ocean. What romances he had lived and seen were hidden in his grizzled bosom, for he said little, and nothing of himself.

The supercargo, Henry Lee, a Norwegian of twenty-five years, six of which he had passed among the islands, set out the rum and wine and a clay bottle of water. He introduced me to Père Olivier, a priest of the mission, whose charge was in the island of Fatu-hiva. From him I learned that the Roberta was bound for Oomoa, a port of that Island.

That I had not been given the vaguest idea what our first landfall would be was indicative of the secrecy maintained by these traders in the competition for copra. The supply being limited, often it is the first vessel on the spot after a harvest that is able to buy it, and captains of schooners guard their movements as an army its own during a campaign. The traders trust one another as a cat with a mouse trusts another cat.

The priest was sitting on a ledge below the taffrail, and I spoke to him in Spanish, as I had heard it was his tongue. His buenos dias in reply was hearty, and his voice soft and rich. A handsome man was Padre Olivier, though in sad disorder. His black soutane, cut like the woolen gown of our grandmothers, was soaking wet, and his low rough shoes were muddy. A soiled bandana was about his head. His finely chiseled features, benign and intelligent, were framed by a snow-white beard, and his eyes, large and limpid, looked benevolence itself. He was all affability, and eager to talk about everything in the world.

The rain, which all day had been falling at intervals, began again, and as the Roberta entered the open sea, she began to kick up her heels. Our conversation languished. When the supercargo called us below for dinner, pride and not appetite made me go. The priest answered with a groan. Padre Olivier was prostrate on the deck, his noble head on a pillow, his one piece of luggage, embroidered with the monogram of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the needlework of the nuns of Atuona.

“I am seasick if I wade in the surf,” said the priest, in mournful jest.

The Roberta's cabin was a dark and noisome hole, filled with demijohns and merchandise, with two or three untidy bunks in corners, the air soaked with the smells of thirty years of bilge-water, sealskins, copra, and the cargoes of island traffic. Capriata, Harry Lee, and I sat on boxes at a rough table, which we clutched as the Roberta pitched and rolled.

Near the Mission at Hanavave

Starting from Hanavave for Oomoa

When the ragged cook brought the first dish, unmistakably a cat swimming in a liquid I could have sworn by my nose to be drippings from an ammonia tank, I protested a lack of hunger for any food. My ruse passed for the moment, but was exposed by a flock or swarm of cockroaches, which, scenting a favorite food, suddenly sprang upon the table and upon us, leaping and flying into the plates and drawing Corsican curses from Capriata and Norwegian maledictions from Lee. I did not wait to see them throwing the invaders from the battlements of the table into the moat of salt water and spilt wine below, but quickly, though feebly, climbed to the deck and laid myself beside Père Olivier, nor could cries that the enemy had been defeated and that “only a few” were flying about, summon me below again.

Père Olivier and I stayed prone all night in alternate pelting rain and flooding moonlight, as a fair wind bowled us along at six knots an hour. Padre Olivier, between naps, recited his rosary to take his mind from his woes. I could tell when he finished a decade by his involuntary start as he began a new one. I had no such comfort as beads and prayers, and the flight of those schooner griffins had struck me in the solar plexus of imagination.

“Accept them as stations of the cross,” said the priest. “This life is but a step to heaven.”

I replied with some comments indicating my belief that cockroaches belonged on a still lower rung, and going in an opposite direction.

“I know those blattes, those saligauds,” he said with sympathy. “They are sent by Satan to provoke us to blasphemy. I never go below.”

Those pests of insects can hardly be estimated at their true dreadfulness by persons unacquainted with the infamous habits of the nocturnal beetle of the tropics. Sluggish creatures in the temperate zone, in warm countries they develop the power of flying, and obstacles successfully interposed to their progress in countries where they merely crawl are ineffectual here. They had entire possession of the Roberta.

The supercargo, Lee, was not to be blamed, for he told me that once he had taken time in port to capture by poisonous lures a number he calculated at eight thousand, and that within a month those who had escaped had repopulated the old schooner as before. Then he despaired, and let them have sway. To sleep or eat among them was not possible to me, and the voyage was a nightmare not relieved by an incident of the second night.

Capriata, whose feet were calloused from going bare for years, awoke from a deep slumber that had been aided by rum, to find that the cockroaches in his berth had eaten through the half inch or more of hard skin and had begun to devour his flesh. With blasphemous and blood-chilling yells he bounded on deck, where he sat treating the wounds and cursing unrestrainedly for some time before joining Père Olivier and me in democratic slumber on the bare boards. Several weeks later his feet had not recovered from their envenomed sores.

When eight bells sounded the hour of four, I got upon my feet and in the mellow dawn saw a panorama of peak and precipice, dark and threatening, the coast of Fatu-hiva and the entrance to Oomoa Bay, the southernmost island of the Marquesas, and the harbor in which the first white men who saw the islands anchored over three hundred years ago.

Those Spaniards, on whose ships the cross was seen in cabin and forecastle, on gun and halberd, murdered many Marquesans at Oomoa to glut their taste for blood. The standard of death the white flew then has never been lowered. Oomoa and Hanavave, the adjacent bay and village, were resorts for whalers, who brought a plague of ills that reduced the population of Fatu-hiva from many thousands to less than three hundred. Consumption was first brought to the islands by one of these whalers, and made such alarming inroads on the people of Hanavave that most of the remainder forsook their homes and crossed to the island of Tahuata, to escape the devil the white man had let loose among them.

We sailed on very slowly after the mountains had robbed us of the breeze, and when daylight succeeded the false dawn, we dropped our mud hooks a thousand feet from the beach. On it we could see a little wooden church and two dwellings, dwarfed to miniature by the grim pinnacles of rock, crude replicas of the towers of the Alhambra, slender minarets beside the giant cliffs, which were clothed with creeping plants in places and in places bare as the sides of a living volcano.

The fantastic and majestic assemblage of rock shapes on the shores of Fatu-hiva appeared as if some Herculean sculptor with disordered brain and mighty hand had labored to reproduce the fearful chimeras of his dreams.

The priest and I, with the supercargo, went ashore in a boat at six o'clock, and reached a beach as smooth and inviting as that of Atuona. A canoe was waiting for Père Olivier; he climbed into it at once, his black wet robe clinging to him, and called “Adios!” as his men paddled rapidly for Hanavave, where he was to say mass and hear confessions.

Lee and I took a road lined with a wall of rocks, and passing many sorts of trees and plants entered an enclosure through a gate.

After a considerable walk through a thrifty plantation, we were in front of a European house which gave signs of comfort and taste. At the head of a flight of stairs on the broad veranda was a man in gold-rimmed eye-glasses and a red breechclout. His well-shaped, bald head and punctilious manner would have commanded attention in any attire.

I was introduced to Monsieur François Grelet, a Swiss, who had lived here for more than twenty years, and who during that time had never been farther away than a few miles. Not even Tahiti had drawn him to it. Since he arrived, at the age of twenty-four years, he had dwelt contentedly in Oomoa.

After we had chatted for a few moments he invited me to be his guest. I thought of the Roberta and those two kinds of cockroaches, the Blatta orientalis and the Blatta germanica, who raid by night and by day respectively; I looked at Grelet's surroundings, and I accepted. While the Roberta gathered what copra she could and flitted, I became a resident of Oomoa until such time as chance should give me passage to my own island.

Twenty years before my host had planted the trees that embowered his home. With the Swiss farmer's love of order, he had neglected nothing to make neat, as nature had made beautiful, his surroundings.

“I learned agriculture and dairying on my father's farm in Switzerland,” said Grelet. “At school I learned more of their theory, and when I had seen the gay cities of Europe, I went to the new world to live. I was first at Pecos City, New Mexico, where I had several hundred acres' of government land. I brought grape-vines from Fresno, in California, but the water was insufficient for the sterile soil, and I was forced to give up my land. From San Francisco I sailed on the brig Galilee for Tahiti. I have never finished the journey, for when the brig arrived at Tai-o-hae I left her and installed myself on the Eunice, a small trading-schooner, and for a year I remained aboard her, visiting all the islands of the Marquesas and becoming so attached to them that I bought land and settled down here.”

Grelet looked about him and smiled.

“It isn't bad, hein?”

It was not. From the little cove where his boat-house stood a road swept windingly to his house through a garden of luxuriant verdure. Mango and limes, breadfruit and cocoanut, pomme de Cythère, orange and papaws, banana and alligator-pear, candlenut and chestnut, mulberry and sandalwood, tou, the bastard ebony, and rosewood, the rose-apple with purple tasseled flowers and delicious fruit, the pistachio and the badamier, scores of shrubs and bushes and magnificent tree-ferns, all on a tangled sward of white spider-lilies, great, sweet-smelling plants, an acre of them, and with them other ferns of many kinds, and mosses, the nodding taro leaves and the ti, the leaves which the Fatu-hivans make into girdles and wreaths; all grew luxuriantly, friendly neighbors to the Swiss, set there by him or volunteering for service in the generous way of the tropics.

The lilies, oranges, and pandanus trees yielded food for the bees, whose thatched homes stood thick on the hillside above the house. Grelet was a skilled apiarist, and replenished his melliferous flocks by wild swarms enticed from the forests. The honey he strained and bottled, and it was sought of him by messengers from all the islands.

Orchard and garden beyond the house gave us Valencia and Mandarin oranges, lemons, feis, Guinea cherries, pineapples, Barbadoes cherries, sugar-cane, sweet-potatoes, watermelons, cantaloups, Chile peppers, and pumpkins. Watercress came fresh from the river.

Cows and goats browsed about the garden, but Grelet banned pigs to a secluded valley to run wild. One of the cows was twenty-two years old, but daily gave brimming buckets of milk for our refreshment. Beef and fish, breadfruit and taro, good bread from American flour, rum, and wine both red and white, with bowls of milk and green cocoanuts, were always on the table, a box of cigars, packages of the veritable Scaferlati Supérieur tobacco, and the Job papers, and a dozen pipes. No king could fare more royally than this Swiss, who during twenty years had never left the forgotten little island of Fatu-hiva.

His house, set in this bower of greenery, of flowers and perfumes, was airy and neat, whitewashed both inside and out, with a broad veranda painted black. Two bedrooms, a storeroom in which he sold his merchandise, and a workroom, sufficed for all his needs. The veranda was living-room and dining-room; raised ten feet from the earth on breadfruit-tree pillars placed on stone, it provided a roof for his forge, for his saddle-and-bridle room, and for the small kitchen.

The ceilings in the house were of wood, but on the veranda he had cleverly hung a canvas a foot below the roof. The air circulated above it, bellying it out like a sail and making the atmosphere cool. Under this was his dining-table, near a very handsome buffet, both made by Grelet of the false ebony, for he was a good carpenter as he was a crack boatsman, farmer, cowboy, and hunter. Here we sat over pipe and cigarette after dinner, wine at our elbows, the garden before us, and discussed many things.

Grelet had innumerable books in French and German, all the great authors old and modern; he took the important reviews of Germany and France, and several newspapers. He knew much more than I of history past and present, of the happenings in the great world, art and music and invention, finances and politics. He could name the cabinets of Europe, the characters and records of their members, or discuss the quality of Caruso's voice as compared with Jean de Reszke's, though he had heard neither. Twenty-two years ago he had left everything called civilization, he had never been out of the Marquesas since that time; he lived in a lonely valley in which there was no other man of his tastes and education, and he was content.

“I have everything I want; I grow it or I make it. My horses and cattle roam the hills; if I want meat, beef or goat or pig, I go or I send a man to kill an animal and bring it to me. Fish are in the river and the bay; there is honey in the hives; fruit and vegetables in the garden, wood for my furniture, bark for the tanning of hides. I cure the leather for saddles or chair-seats with the bark of the rose-wood. Do you know why it is called rose-wood? I will show you. Its bark has the odor of roses when freshly cut. Yes, I have all that I want. What do I need from the great cities?”

He tamped down the tobacco in his pipe and puffed it meditatively.

“A man lives only a little while, hein? He should ask himself what he wants from life. He should look at the world as it is. These traders want money, buying and selling and cheating to get it. What is money compared to life? Their life goes in buying and selling and cheating. Life is made to be lived pleasantly. Me, I do what I want to do with mine, and I do it in a pleasant place.”

His pipe went out while he gazed at the garden murmurous in the twilight. He knocked out the dottle, refilled the bowl and lighted the tobacco.

“You should have seen this island when I came. These natives die too fast. Ah, if I could only get labor, I could make this valley produce enough for ten thousand people. I could load the ships with copra and cotton and coffee.”

He was twenty-two years and many thousands of miles from the great cities of Europe, but he voiced the wail of the successful man the world over. If he could get labor, he could turn it into building his dreams to reality, into filling his ships with his goods for his profit. But he had not the labor, for the fruits of a commercial civilization had killed the islanders who had had their own dreams, their own ships, and their own pleasures and profits in life.




Labor in the South Seas; some random thoughts on the “survival of the fittest.”

“I pictured myself cultivating many hundreds of acres when I first came here,” said Grelet. “I laid out several plantations, and once shipped much coffee, as good, too, as any in the world. I gather enough now for my own use, and sell none. I grew cotton and cocoanuts on a large scale. I raise only a little now.

“There were hundreds of able-bodied men here then. I used to buy opium from the Chinese labor-contractors and from smugglers, and give it to my working people. A pill once a day would make the Marquesans hustle. But the government stopped it. They say that the book written by the Englishman, Stevenson, did it. We must find labor elsewhere soon, Chinese, perhaps. Those two Paumotans brought by Begole are a godsend to me. I wish some one would bring me a hundred.”

The two Paumotan youths, Tennonoku and Kedeko-lio, lay motionless on the floor of the veranda twenty feet away. They had been sold to Grelet for a small sum by Begole, captain of a trading-schooner. In passing the Paumotan Islands, many hundred miles to the south, Begole had forgotten to leave at Pukatuhu, a small atoll, a few bags of flour he had promised to bring the chief on his next voyage, and the chief, seeing the schooner a mile away, had ordered these boys to swim to it and remind the skipper of his promise. Begole meanwhile had caught a wind, and the first he knew of the message was when the boys climbed aboard the schooner many miles to sea. He did not trouble to land them, but brought them on to the Marquesas and sold them to Grelet.

They spoke no Marquesan, and Grelet had difficulty in making them understand that they must labor for him, and in enforcing his orders, which they could not comprehend. There was little copra being made in the rainy weather, and they lay about the veranda or squatted on the paepae of the laborers' cookhouse, making a fire of cocoanut-husks twice a day to roast their breadfruit. Their savage hearts were ever in their own atoll, the home to which the native clings so passionately, and their eyes were dark with hopeless longing. No doubt they would die soon, as so many do when exiled, but Grelet's copra crop would profit first.

The dire lack of labor for copra-making, tree-planting, or any form of profitable activity is lamented by all white men in these depopulated islands. Average wages were sixty cents a day, but even a dollar failed to bring adequate relief. The Marquesan detests labor, which to him has ever been an unprofitable expenditure of life and did not gain in his eyes even when his toil might enrich white owners of plantations. Since every man had a piece of land that yielded copra enough for his simple needs, and breadfruit and fish were his for the taking, he could not be forced to work except for the government in payment for taxes.

The white men in the islands, like exploiters of weaker races everywhere in the world, were unwilling to share their profits with the native. They were reduced to pleading with or intoxicating the Marquesan to procure a modicum of labor. They saw fortunes to be made if they could but whip a multitude of backs to bending for them, but they either could not or would not perceive the situation from the native's point of view.

In America I often heard men who were out of employment, particularly in bad seasons, in big cities or in mining camps, argue the right to work. They could not enforce this alleged natural right, and in their misery talked of the duty of society or the state in this direction. But they were obliged to content themselves with the thin alleviation of soup-kitchens, charity wood-yards, and other easers of hard times, and with threats of sabotage or other violence.

Here in the islands, where work is offered to unwilling natives, the employers curse their lack of power to drive them to the copra forests, the kilns and boats. Thus, as in highly civilized countries we maintain that a man has no inherent or legal right to work, in these islands the employer has no weapon by which to enforce toil. But had the whites the power to order all to do their bidding, they would create a system of peonage as in Mexico.

An acquaintance of mine in these seas took part in, and profited largely by, the removal to a distant place of the entire population of an island on which the people had led the usual life of the Polynesian. He and his associates sold three hundred men to plantation labor, which they hated and to which they were unaccustomed. Within a year two hundred and fifty of them had died as fast as disease could sap their grief-stricken bodies. Their former home, which they died longing to see again, was made a feeding-place for sheep. The merchants reaped a double toll. They were paid well for delivering the owners of the land to the plantations, and in addition they got the land.

Now, my acquaintance is a man of university education, a quoter of Haeckel and Darwin, with “survival of the fittest” as his guiding motto since his Jena days. Says he, quoting a Scotchman:

“Tone it down as you will, the fact remains that Darwinism regards animals as going up-stairs, in a struggle for individual ends, often on the corpses of their fellows, often by a blood-and-iron competition, often by a strange mixture of blood and cunning, in which each looks out for himself and extinction besets the hindmost.”

Further says my stern acquaintance, specially when in his cups:

“The whole system of life-development is that of the lower providing food for the higher in ever-expanding circles of organic existence, from protozoea to steers, from the black African to the educated and employing man. We build on the ribs of the steers, and on the backs of the lower grade of human.”

Scientific books have taken the place of the Bible as a quotation-treasury of proof for whatever their reader most desires to prove. Now I am no scientist and take, indeed, only the casual interest of the average man in the facts and theories of science. But it appears to me that in his theory of the survival of the fittest my acquaintance curiously overlooks the question of man's own survival as a species.

If we are to base our actions upon this cold-blooded and inhuman view of the universe, let us consider that universe as in fact inhuman, and having no concern for man except as a species of animal very possibly doomed to extinction, as many other species of animal have been doomed in the past, unless he proves his fitness to survive not as an individual, but as a species.

Now man is a gregarious animal; he lives in herds. The characteristic of the herd is that within it the law of survival of the fittest almost ceases to operate. The value of a herd is that its members protect each other instead of preying upon each other. Nor, in what we are pleased to call the animal kingdom, do herds of the same species prey upon each other. They rather unite for the protection of their weaker members.

So far as I am informed, mankind is the only herd of which this is not true. Cattle and horses unite in protecting the young and feeble; sheep huddle together against cold and wolves; bees and ants work only for the welfare of the swarm, which is the welfare of all. This, we are told, is the reason these forms of life have survived. But ship officers beat sailors because sailors have no firearms and fear charges of mutiny. Policemen club prisoners who are poorly dressed. Employees make profits from the toil of children. Strong nations prey on weak peoples, and the white man kills the white man and the black and brown and yellow man in mine, plantation, and forest the world over.

He defends this murder of his own kind by the pat phrase “survival of the fittest.” But man is not a solitary animal, he is a herd animal, and within the herd nature's definition of fitness does not apply. The herd is a refuge against the law of tooth and fang. Importing within the herd his own interpretation of that law, man is destroying the strength of his shelter. By so much as one man preys upon or debases another man, he weakens the strength of the man-herd. And for man it is the herd, not the individual, that must meet that stern law of “the survival of the fittest” on the vast impersonal arena of the universe.

“Bully 'Ayes was the man to make the Kanakas work!” said Lying Bill Pincher. “I used to be on Penryn Island and that was 'is old 'ang-out. 'Ayes was a pleasant man to meet. 'E was 'orspitable as a 'ungry shark to a swimming missionary. Bald he was as a bloomin' crab, stout and smiling.

“'E 'ad two white wives a-setting in his cabin on the schooner, and they called it the parlor. Smart wimmen they was, and saved 'is life for 'im more 'n once. 'E 'd get a couple of chiefs on board by deceiving 'em with rum, and hold 'em until 'is bloomin' schooner was chock-a-block with copra. The 'ole island would be working itself to death to free the chiefs. Then when 'e 'ad got the copra, 'e 'd steal a 'undred or two Kanakas and sell 'em in South America.

“'E was smart, and yet 'e got 'is'n. 'Is mate seen him coming over the side with blood in his eye, and batted 'im on 'is conch as 'is leg swung over the schooner's bul'ark. 'Ayes dropped with 'is knife between 'is teeth and 'is pistols in both 'ands.

“'E'd murdered 'undreds of white and brown and black men, and 'e was smart, and 'e got away with it. But 'e made the mistake of not having made a friend of 'is right 'and man.”




The white man who danced in Oomoa Valley; a wild-boar hunt in the hills; the feast of the triumphant hunters and a dance in honor of Grelet.

Grelet had gone in a whale-boat to Oia, a dozen miles away, to collect copra, and I was left with an empty day to fill as I chose. The house, the garden, and the unexplored recesses of Oomoa Valley were mine, with whatever they might afford of entertainment or adventure. Every new day, wherever spent, is an adventure, but when to the enigmatic morning is added the zest of a strange place, it must be a dull man who does not thrill to it.

I began the day by bathing in the river with the year-old Tamaiti, Grelet's child. Her mother was Hinatiaiani, a laughing, beautiful girl of sixteen years, and the two were cared for by Pae, a woman of forty, ugly and childless. Hinatiaiani was her adopted daughter, and Pae had been sorely angered when Grelet, whose companion she had been for eighteen years, took the girl. But with the birth of Tamaiti, Pae became reconciled, and looked after the welfare of the infant more than the volatile young mother.

Tamaiti had never had a garment upon her sturdy small body, and looked a plump cherub as she played about the veranda, crawling in the puddles when the rain drove across the floor.

“The infant has never been sick,” Grelet had said. “One afternoon I was starting for the river to bathe, when that girl was making herself a bed of cocoanut-leaves under the house. She said she expected the baby, as, when she climbed a cocoanut-tree a moment earlier, she had felt a movement. She would not lie in a bed, but, like her mother before her, must make her a nest of cocoanut-leaves. When I returned from my bath, Tamaiti was born. She was chopping wood next day—the mother, I mean.”

Though scarcely a twelve-month old, the baby swam like a frog in the clear water of the river, gurgling at intervals scraps of what must have been Marquesan baby-talk, unintelligible to me, but showing plainly her enjoyment. Something of European caution, however, still remained with me and, perhaps unnecessarily, I picked up the dripping little body and carried her up the garden path to the house when I returned for breakfast. Pae received her with no concern, and gave her a piece of cocoanut to suck. I saw the infant, clutching it in one hand, toddling and stumbling river-ward again when after breakfast I set out for a walk up Oomoa Valley.

Oomoa was far wilder than Atuona, more lonely, with hundreds of vacant paepaes. Miles of land, once cultivated, had been taken again by the jungle, as estates lapsed to nature after thousands of years of man. Still, even far from the houses, delicate trees had preserved themselves in some mysterious way, and oranges and limes offered themselves to me in the thickets.

The river that emptied into the bay below Grelet's plantation flowed down the valley from the heights, and beside it ran the trail, a road for half a mile, then a track growing fainter with every mile, hardly distinguishable from the tangle of trees and bushes on either side. Here and there I saw a native house built of bamboo and matting, very simple shelters with an open space for a doorway, but wholesome, clean, and, to me, beautiful. I met no one, and most of the huts were on the other side of the river, but from one nearer the track a voice called to me, “Kaoha! Manihii, a tata mai! Greeting, stranger, come to us!”

The hut, which, by measurement, was ten feet by six, held six women and girls, all lying at ease on piles of mats. It was a rendezvous of gossips, a place for siestas and scandal. One had seen and hailed me, and when I came to their paepae, they all filed out and surrounded me, gently and politely, but curiously. Obviously they had seen few whites.

The six were from thirteen to twenty years of age, four of them strikingly beautiful, with the grace of wild animals and the bright, soft eyes of children. Smiling and eager to be better acquainted with me, they examined my puttees of spiral wool, my pongee shirt, and khaki riding-breeches, the heavy seams of which they felt and discussed. They discovered a tiny rip, and the eldest insisted that I take off the breeches while she sewed it.

As this was my one chance to prevent the rip growing into a gulf that would ultimately swallow the trousers, I permitted the stitch in time, and having nothing in my pockets for reward, I danced a jig. I cannot dance a step or sing a note correctly, but in this archipelago I had won inter-island fame as a dancer of strange and amusing measures, and a singer of the queer songs of the whites.

Recalling the cake-walks, sand-sifting, pigeon-winging, and Juba-patting of the south, the sailor's hornpipe, the sword-dance of the Scotch, and the metropolitan version of the tango, I did my best, while the thrilled air of Oomoa Valley echoed these words, yelled to my fullest lung capacity:

“There was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg, And he had no tobacco, so tobacco did he beg. Said the soldier to the sailor, ‘Will you give me a chew?’ Said the sailor to the soldier, ‘I'll be damned if I do! Keep your mind on your number and your finger on your rocks, And you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box.’”

Dancing and singing thus on the flat stones of the paepae of the six Fatu-hiva ladies, I gave back a thousand-fold their aid to my disordered trousers. They laughed till they fell back on the rocks, they lifted the ends of their pareus to wipe their eyes, and they demanded an encore, which I obligingly gave them in a song I had kept in mind since boyhood. It was about a young man who took his girl to a fancy ball, and afterward to a restaurant, and though he had but fifty cents and she said she was not hungry, she ate the menu from raw oysters to pousse-café, and turned it over for more.

It went with a Kerry jig that my grandfather used to do, and if grandfather, with his rare ability, ever drew more uproarious applause than I, it must have been a red-letter day for him, even in Ireland. My hearers screamed in an agony of delight, and others dwelling far away, or passing laden with breadfruit and bananas, gathered while I chortled and leaped, and made the mountain-side ring with Marquesan bravos.

With difficulty I made my escape, but my success pursued me. “Menike haka!” came the cry from each house I passed, for the news had been called over the distance, and to the farthest reaches of the valley it was known that an American, the American who had come on the Roberta, with a box that wrote, was dancing along the route.

As in the old days of war or other crisis, the cry had been raised, and was echoed from all directions, and from hut to cocoanut-tree to crag the call was heard, growing fainter and more feeble, dying gradually from point to point, echoing farther and yet farther in the distance. This was the ancient telegraph-system of the islanders, by which an item of information sped in a moment to the most remote edges of the valley. Unwittingly, in my gratitude, I had raised it, and now I pursued my way in the glare of a pitiless publicity.

I was met almost immediately by a score of men and women who had left the gathering of fruit or the duties of the household to greet me. Fafo, the leader, besought me earnestly to accompany them to a neighboring paepae and dance for them.

He had the finest eyes I have ever seen in a man's head, dark brown, almond-shaped, large and lustrous, wells of melancholy. There was something exquisite about the young man, his lemon-colored skin, his delicate hands and feet, his slender, though strong, body, and his regular, brilliant teeth. Some Spanish don had bred him, or some moody Italian with music in his soul, for he was a Latin in face and figure. His eyes had that wistfulness as they sought mine which the Tahitians have put well in one of their picture-words, ano-ano'uri, “the yearning, sorrowful gaze of a dog watching his master at dinner.”

A belated shrinking from renown, however, made me reject his pleas, and perceiving a pool near at hand, I softened refusal by a suggestion that we bathe. The pool, I learned, was famous in the valley, for one could swim forty feet in it, and on the other side the hill rose straight, with banana-trees overhanging the water forty feet above. We climbed this rocky face and dived into the water again and again, rejoicing in its coolness and in that sheer pagan delight of the dive, when in the air man becomes all animal, freed from every restraint and denied every safeguard save the strength of his own muscle and nerve.

We saw at last, on the edge of the bank, one of Grelet's dogs, whining for attention. He was badly wounded in two places, blood dripped on the rocks from open cuts three inches long, and one paw hung helpless, while with eager cries and beseeching looks he urged us to avenge him in his private feud with a boar. Assured of our interest, he stayed not to be comforted or cured, but hobbled eagerly up the trail, begging us with whines to accompany him.

Five men and several other dogs followed the wounded hound, and I went with them. The Marquesans had war-clubs and long knives like undersized machetes. Every Islander carries such a knife for cutting underbrush or cocoanut-stems, and usually it is his only tool for building native houses, so that he becomes very expert with it, as the Filipino with his bolo or the Cuban with his machete.

For several hours we climbed the slopes, until we came upon a narrow trail cut in the side of a cliff, a path perhaps two feet wide, with sheer wall of rock above and abrupt precipice below. On this the chief hunter stationed himself and two men while the others scouted below. This leader was a man of sixty, tattooed from toes to scalp on one side only, so that he was queerly parti-colored, and capping this odd figure, he wore a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles. He motioned to me to take my place in a niche of the cliff, where I could stand and sweep the trail with my eyes, secure from assault. He had given directions to the others and intended to provide for me a rare sight, and to gain for himself a trifle of the glory that had been his as a young man in wars against neighboring valleys.

For an hour we waited and smoked, hearing from time to time the clamor of men and dogs in the thickets below. The common way of hunting boars, said the chief, was to chase them through the woods and kill them by throwing tomahawks at them. This method allows the hunter to have a tree always within a short run, and about these trees he dodges when pursued, or if too closely pressed, climbs one. It is dangerous sport, as only a cool and experienced man can drive a knife into a vital part of a boar in full career, and no wound in non-vital parts will cause the desperate beast even to falter.

Gradually the cries of the men and the barking of the dogs grew nearer, and suddenly, bursting from the bushes some distance down the trail, we saw ten bristling hogs. They had been driven upward until they reached the artificial shelf, and behind them hounds and hunters cut off all escape.

Apau! Aia oe a!” shouted the rear-guard as the boars took the trail. “Lo! Prepare to strike!”

The three slayers gripped their clubs and braced their feet. I was above the chief, who was the last of the trio. Where he planted his feet, the path was most narrow, so that two could not pass. His knife was in his pareu, which, to leave his legs unhampered, he had rolled and tucked in until it was no more than a G-string. His muscles were like the cordage of the faufee—the vine that strangles—and his chest like a great buckler, half blue and half copper.

Peo! Pepo! Huepe! Huope!” yelled the scouts, in the “tally-ho!” cry of Marquesan, and the boars struck the trail with hatred hot in their eyes and with gnashing tusks.

The three slayers were five hundred feet apart. The first struck at all ten, as singly they rushed past him. Three he stopped. The second man laid prostrate four. The three remaining were, naturally, the fittest. They were huge, hideous, snarling beasts, bared teeth gleaming in a slather of foam, eyes bloodshot and vicious. The old chief saw them coming; he saw, too, that I had shrunk to a plaster on the wall while he faced the danger like a warrior in the spear-test of their old warfare.

Aia! Aia!” he said to encourage me. His club of ironwood, its edge sharp and toothed, he grasped with both hands; he widened his foothold and threw his body forward to withstand a shock. He calculated to an inch the arrival of the first boar, and swung his u'u on its head with precision. The boar crumpled up and fell down the hillside. The second he struck as unerringly, but the third he chose to kill with his knife.

Feis, or mountain bananas
Man in pareu, native loin cloth

Where river and bay meet at Oomoa, Island of Fatu-hiva

He laid down the u'u and drew the knife with one motion, and as the powerful brute rushed at him, stepped aside in the split second between his gauge of its position and its leap. His knife was thrust straight out. It met the boar with perfect and delicate accuracy. The beast fell, quivered a moment, and lay still.

It was a perfection of butchery, for one slash of those tusks, ripping the chief's legs, and he would have been down, crashing over the cliff, and dead. I was almost in chants of admiration for his nerve and accuracy.

“Ah, if this had been war, and these had been enemies!”

The dead boars were slung on poles, but a half dozen had to be left on branches of trees for the morrow, and it was late in the day when we reached Grelet's house for the feast.

Pae, the elder woman of the household, received us joyously. In the master's absence she had become a different being from the sulky, contrary one I had seen while he was at home. Usually she and Hinatiaiani, the mother of the baby, ate their food squatting beside the cook-house; they rarely came upon the veranda, never sat upon a chair, and never were asked to our table. Now they were in complete possession of the house and Pae was transformed into a jolly soul, her kinsfolk about her on the veranda and the bottles emptying fast. She celebrated our arrival with the boars by bringing out two quarts of crème de menthe and a bottle of absinthe, so that the mice with the big cat away played an uncorking air right merrily.

All was now a bustle of preparation for the feast. While many prepared the earth-oven for the pig, the head cook made fire in their primitive way, using the fire-plough of purau-wood braced against a pillar of the veranda. Meantime the oven was dug, sides and bottom lined with stones, and sticks piled within it for the fire. A top layer of stones was placed on the flames and when it had grown red-hot, the pig was pulled and hauled over it until the bristles were removed. The carcass was then carried to the river, the intestines removed, and inside and outside thoroughly washed in a place where the current was strong.

The oven was made ready for its reception by removing the upper layer of stones and the fire, and placing banana-leaves all about the bottom and sides, in which the pig, his own interior filled with hot stones wrapped in leaves, was placed, with native sweet-potatoes and yams beside him. More leaves covered all, and another layer of red hot stones. A surface of dirt sealed the oven.

A young dog was also part of the fare, and was cooked in the same manner as the pig. The Marquesans are fond of dogs. This particular one had been brought to this valley from another and was not on friendly terms with any of his butchers. In fact, his death was due more to revenge than to hunger for his flesh. He had bitten the leg of a man who lived in the upper part of Oomoa, and when this man came limping to the banquet, he brought the biter as his contribution.

Those who would turn up their noses at Towser must hear Captain Cook, who was himself slain and dismembered in Hawaii:

“The flesh of the South Sea Dog is a meat not to be despised. It is next to our English Lamb.”

Personally I am willing to let it be next to lamb at every meal, and I shall always take its neighbor, but it argues a narrow taste not to concede that the dishes of our foreign friends may have a relish all their own. Dog has been a Maori tidbit for thousands of years. It was introduced into New Zealand from these islands. The aborigines had a fierce, undomesticated dog, which they hunted for its flesh. It was a sort of fox, but disappeared before the Polynesians reached the islands.

All Polynesians have liked dogs, liked them as pets, as they do to-day, and liked them as grub. If one asks how one can pet Fido Monday and eat him Tuesday, I will reply that we, the highest types of civilization, pet calves and lambs, chickens and rabbits, and find them not a whit the less toothsome. The Marquesan loves his pig as we love our dog, cuddles him, calls him fond names, believes that he goes to heaven,—and nevertheless roasts him for dinner.

The yams, potatoes, breadfruit, and other accompaniments of the dog, pig, and chicken were all ready at six o'clock, when cries of delight summoned us idlers. The earth had been cleared from the oven, the leaves removed, and the pig was lifted into the air, cooked to a turn, succulent, steaming, delicious. The feast was spread in a clearing, so that the sun, sinking slowly in the west, might filter his rays through the lofty trees and leave us brightened by his presence, but cool in the shadows. For me a Roman couch of mats was spread, while the natives squatted in the comfort of men whose legs are natural.

The women waited upon us, passing all the food in leaves, in cleanly fashion. Pae herself, though hostess, could not eat till all the men were satisfied, for the tapu still holds, though without authority. Knives nor forks hindered our free onslaught upon the edibles, and there were cocoanut-shells beside each of us for washing our hands between courses, a usual custom.

Piahi, the native chestnuts shelled and cooked in cocoanut-milk, were an appetizer, followed by small fish, which we ate raw after soaking them in lime juice. There is no dish that the white man so soon learns to crave and so long remembers when departed. Some of the guests did not like the sauce, but took their small fish by the tail, dripping with salt water, and ate it as one might eat celery, bones, and all.

With the main course were served dried squid and porpoise, and fresh flying-fish and bonito and shrimp. The feast was complete with mangoes, oranges, and pineapples, also bananas ripened in the expeditious way of the Marquesas. They bury them in a deep hole lined with cracked candlenuts and grass and cover all with earth. In several days—and they know the right time to an hour—the bananas are dug up, yellow and sweet.

Sacred banyan tree at Oomoa

Elephantiasis of the legs

Pae furnished a limited quantity of rum for the fete, and a cocoanut-shell filled with namu was passed about. Every one was already enthusiastic, and after several drinks of the powerful sugar-distillation pipes were lit and palaver began. I had to tell stories of my strange country, of the things called cities, large villages without a river through them, so big that they held tini tini tini tini mano mano mano mano people, with single houses in which more people worked than there were in all the islands. Such a house might be higher than three or four cocoanut trees stood one on the other, and no one walked up-stairs, but rode in boxes lifted by ropes.

“How many men to a rope?” asked Pae.

The old men told me about their battles, much as at a reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic the veterans fight again the Civil war. One man, whose tattooing striped his body like the blue bands of a convict's suit, said that it was the custom on Fatu-hiva for the leader or chief on each side to challenge the enemy champion.

“Our army stood thirty or forty feet away from the other army,” said he, “and our chief stood still while the other threw his spear. If it struck our chief, at once the warriors rushed into battle; if it missed, our chief had the right to go close to the other and thrust a spear through his heart. The other stood firm and proud. He smiled with scorn. He looked on the spear when it was raised, and he did not tremble. But sometimes he was saved by his courage, for our chief after looking at him with terrible eyes, said, ‘O man of heart, go your way, and never dare again to fight such a great warrior as I!’

“That ended the war. The other chief was ashamed, and led his men down to their own valley. But if our chief had killed him, then there was war; at once we struck with the u'u and ran forward with our spears. These battles gave many names to children, names remembering the death or wounding of the glorious deeds of the warriors. To await calmly the spear of the other chief, the head raised, the eyes never winking, to look at the spear as at a welcome gift—that was what our chiefs must do. Death was not so terrible, but to leave one's body in the hands of the foe, to be eaten, to know that one's skull would be hung in a tree, and one's bones made into tattoo needles or fish-hooks—! Toomanu!

“We are not the men we were. We do not eat the ‘Long Pig’ any more, but we have not the courage, the skill, or the strength. When the spears were thrown, and each man had but one, then the fight was with the u'u, hand to hand and eye to eye. That was a fight of men! The gun is the weapon of cowards. It is the gun that fights, not the man.

“Our last fight we brought back four bodies. Meat spoils quickly. We had our feast right here where we sit now.”

Excited barking of the dogs announced the arrival of Grelet with several men. They had rowed all the way to Oia and had sailed back, arriving by chance in time to share the abundance of our feast. After the twelve-mile pull in the blazing sun and the toilsome journey back by night this feast was their reward, and all their pay.

Pae, reduced once more to sullen servitude, poured the rum, generous portions of it in cocoanut-shells, which the newcomers emptied as they ate, hastening soon to join the other guests on the broad veranda, where late at night a chant began.

Half a dozen men, tattooed from toes to waist and some to the roots of their hair, sat on a mat on the floor, all naked except for their pareus, the red and yellow of which shone in the light of the oil-lamps in brightening contrast to brown skins and dark blue ink. One was far gone with fefe, his legs almost as large as those of an elephant. He was a grotesque in hideous green. The blue of the candlenut-ink, in bizzare designs upon body and legs, had turned a scaly greenish hue from age and kava excesses. Revealed in the yellow light, he was like a ghastly bronze monstrosity that had known the weathering of a century.

He was the leader of the chant and, like all the others, had drunk plenty of Grelet's rum. The pipe was passing, and Grelet took his pull at it in the circle. The chant was of the adventures of the day. The hunters and specially Namu Ou Mio, the slayer of the three boars, told of the deed of prowess on the cliff-side, while the others sang of their journey and the sea. Squatting on the mat, they bent and swayed in pantomime, telling the tales, lifting their voices in praises of their own deeds and of the virtues of Grelet.

That thrifty Swiss, in red breech-clout and spectacles, the lamplight shining on his bald head, sat in the midst of them, familiar by a score of years with their chants. Pae filled the pipe and the bowls and joined in the chorus, while the Paumotan boys, in a shadowy recess, sipped their rum and rolled their eyes in astonished appreciation of the first joviality of their lives. When the leader began the ancient cannibal chant, the song of war and of feasting at the High Place, the tattooed men forgot even the rum. The nights of riot after return from the battle, the fighting qualities of their fathers, the cheer of the fires, the heat of the ovens, and the baking of the “Long Pig,” and the hours when the most beautiful girls danced naked to win the acclaim of the multitude and to honor their parents; all these they celebrated. The leader gave the first line in a dramatic tone, and the others chanted the chorus. Most of the verses they knew by rote, but there were improvisations that brought applause from all.

At midnight the man with the elephantiasis removed his pareu to free his enormous legs for dancing, and he and the others, their hands joined, moved ponderously in a tripping circle before the couch on which I lay. The chant was now a recital of my merits, the chief of which was that I was a friend of Grelet, that mighty man wiser than Iholomoni (Solomon), with more wives than that great king, and stronger heart to chase the wild bull. He steers a whale-boat with a finger, but no wave can tear the helm from his grasp. Long has he been in Oomoa, just and brave and generous has he been, and his rum is the best that is made in the far island of Tahiti.

So passed the night and the rum, in a pandemonium of voices, gyrating tattooed bodies, flashes of red and yellow and blue pareus, rolling eyes, curls of smoke drifting under the gently moving canvas ceiling, while from the garden came the scent of innumerable dewy flowers; and at intervals in the chanting I heard from the darkness of the bay the sound of a conch-shell blown on some wayfaring boat.

I dozed, and wakened to see Grelet asleep. Pae was still filling the emptied cocoanut-shells, and the swollen green man postured before me like some horrid figment of a dream. I roused myself again. Pae had locked up the song-maker, and all the tattooed men slumbered where they sat, the Paumotan boys with sunbonnets tied about their heads lay in their corner, dreaming, perhaps, of their loved home on Pukaruha. I woke again to find the garden green and still in the gray morning, and the veranda vacant.

The Marquesans were all in the river, lying down among the boulders to cool their aching heads. The fefe sufferer stood like a slime-covered rock in the stream. His swollen legs hurt him dreadfully. Rum is not good for fefe.

“Guddammee!” he said to me in his one attempt at our cultured language, and put his body deep in a pool.




A visit to Hanavave; Père Olivier at home; the story of the last battle between Hanahouua and Oi, told by the sole survivor; the making of tapa cloth, and the ancient garments of the Marquesans.

Grelet said that the conch I had heard at night sounding off Oomoa must have been in a canoe or whale-boat bound for Hanavave, a valley a dozen miles away over the mountains, but only an hour or so by sea. It might have brought a message of interest, or perhaps would be a conveyance to my own valley, so in mid-forenoon we launched Grelet's whale-boat for a journey to Hanavave.

Eight men carried the large boat from its shelter to the water, slung on two short thick poles by loops of rope through holes in prow and stern. It was as graceful as a swan, floating in the edge of the breakers. Driving it through the surf was cautious, skilful work, at which Grelet was a master. Haupupuu, who built the boat, a young man with the features of Bonaparte and a blase expression, was at the bow, and three other Marquesans, with the two Paumotan boys, handled the oars. There was no wind and they rowed all the way, spurting often for love of excitement.

We skirted a coast of almost vertical cliffs crowned by cocoas, the faces of the rock black or covered above the waterline with vines and plants, green and luxuriant. Long stretches of white curtains and huge pictures in curious outlines were painted on the sable cliffs by encrusted salt. The sea surged in leaping fountains through a thousand blow-holes carved from the black basalt, and the ceaseless wash of the waves had cut the base of the precipices into paniho, or teeth, as the Marquesans say.

There were half a dozen indentations in the bleak and rugged coast, each a little valley guarded by cliffs on both sides, the natural obstacle to neighborliness that made enemies of the clans. Inhabitants of plains are usually friendly. Mountains make feuds.

We passed the valley of Hana Ui, inhabited when Grelet came, and full of rich cotton-fields, now a waste with never a soul in it. We passed Eue, Utea, Tetio, Nanifapoto, Hana Puaea and Mata Utuoa, all empty of the living; graveyards and deserted paepaes. Thousands made merry in them when the missionaries first recorded their numbers. Death hung like a cloud over the desolate wilderness of these valleys, over the stern and gloomy cliffs, black and forbidding, carved into monstrous shapes and rimmed with the fantastic patterns made by the unresting sea.

Near Matu Utuoa was a great natural bridge, under which the ocean rushed in swirling currents, foam, and spray. Turning a shoulder of the cliff, we entered the Bay of Virgins and were confronted with the titanic architecture of Hanavave, Alps in ruins, once coral reefs and now thrust up ten thousand feet above the sea. Fantastic headlands, massive towers, obelisks, pyramids, and needles were an extravaganza in rock, monstrous and portentous. Towering structures hewn by water and wind from the basalt mass of the island rose like colossi along the entrance to the bay; beyond, a glimpse of great black battlements framed a huge crater.

A dangerous bay in the lee wind with a bad holding-ground. We manoeuvered for ten minutes to land, but the shelving beach of black stone with no rim of sand proved a puzzle even to Grelet. We reached the stones again and again, only to be torn away by the racing tide. At last we all jumped into the surf and swam ashore, except one man who anchored the whale-boat before following us.

The canoe that had sounded the conch off Oomoa was lying on the shale, and those who had come in it were on the stones cooking breadfruit. The village, half a dozen rude straw shacks, stretched along a rocky stream. Beyond it, in a few acres enclosed by a fence, were a tiny church, two wretched wooden cabins, a tumbling kiosk, five or six old men and women squatting on the ground amid a flock of dogs and cats. This was the Catholic mission, tumbledown and decayed, unpainted for years, overgrown by weeds, marshy and muddy, passing to oblivion like the race to which it ministered.

Grelet and I found Père Olivier sweeping out the church, cheerful, humming a cradle-song of the French peasants. He was glad to see us, though my companion was avowedly a pagan. Dwelling alone here with his dying charges, the good priest could not but feel a common bond with any white man, whoever he might be.

The kiosk, to which he took us, proved to be Père Olivier's eating-place, dingy, tottering, and poverty-stricken, furnished with a few cracked and broken dishes and rusty knives and forks, the equipment of a miner or sheep-herder. Père Olivier apologized for the meager fare, but we did well enough, with soup and a tin of boiled beef, breadfruit, and feis. The soup was of a red vegetable, not appetizing, and I could not make out the native name for it, hue arahi, until Grelet cried, “Ah, j'ai trouvé le mot anglais! Ponkeen, ponkeen!” It was a red pumpkin.

Removing the pig cooked in the umu, or native oven

The Koina Kai or feast in Oomoa

La soupe maigre de missionaire,” murmured the priest.

I led the talk to the work of the mission.

“We have been here thirty-five years,” said Père Olivier, “and I, thirty. Our order first tried to establish a church at Oomoa, but failed. You have seen there a stone foundation that supports the wild vanilla vines? Frère Fesal built that, with a Raratonga islander who was a good mason. The two cut the stones and shaped them. The valley of Oomoa was drunk. Rum was everywhere, the palm namu was being made all the time, and few people were ever sober. There was a Hawaiian Protestant missionary there, and he was not good friends with Frère Fesal. There was no French authority at Oomoa, and the strongest man was the law. The whalers were worse than the natives, and hated the missionaries. One day when the valley was crazed, a native killed the Raratonga man. You will find the murderer living on Tahuata now. Frère Fesal buried his assistant, and fled here.

“That date was about the last Hanavave suffered from cannibalism and extreme sorcery. The taua, the pagan priest, was still powerful, however, and his gods demanded victims. The men here conspired with the men of Hanahouua to descend on Oi, a little village by the sea between here and Oomoa. They had guns of a sort, for the whalers had brought old and rusty guns to trade with the Marquesans for wood, fruit, and fish. Frère Fesal learned of the conspiracy, but the men were drinking rum, and he was helpless. The warriors went stealthily over the mountains and at night lowered themselves from the cliffs with ropes made of the fau. There were only thirty people left in Oi, and the enemy came upon them in the dark like the wolf. Only one man escaped— There he is now, entering the mission. We will ask him to tell the story.”

He stood in the rickety doorway and called, “Tutaiei, come here!” An old and withered man approached, one-eyed, the wrinkles of his face and body abscuring the blue patterns of tattooing, a shrunken, but hideous, scar making a hairless patch on one side of his head.

“I was on the beach pulling up my canoe and taking out the fish I had speared,” said this wreck of a man. “Half the night was spent, and every one was asleep except me. We were a little company, for they had killed and eaten most of us, and others had died of the white man's curse. In the night I heard the cries of the Hanavave and Hanahouua men who had lowered themselves down the precipice and were using their war-clubs on the sleeping.

“I was one man. I could do nothing but die, and I was full of life. In the darkness I smashed with a rock all the canoes on the beach save mine. In my ears were the groans of the dying, and the war-cries. I saw the torches coming. I put the fish back in my canoe, and pushed out.

“They were but a moment late, for I have a hole in my head into which they shot a nail, and I have this crack in my head upon which they flung a stone. They could not follow me, for there were no canoes left. I paddled to Oomoa after a day, during which I did what I have no memory of.”

“They had guns?” I asked him.

“They had a few guns, but they used in them nails or stones, having no balls of metal. Their slings were worse. I could sling a stone as big as a mango and kill a man, striking him fair on the head, at the distance those guns would shoot. We made our slings of the bark of the cocoanut-tree, and the stones, polished by rubbing against each other, we carried in a net about the waist.”

“But if that stone broke your head, why did you not die?”

“A tatihi fixed my head. The nail in my leg he took out with a loop of hair, and cured the wound.”

“Did you not lie in wait for those murderers?”

Tutaiei hemmed and cast down his eye.

“The French came then with soldiers and made it so that if I killed any one, they killed me; the law, they call it. They did nothing to those warriors because the deed was done before the French came. I waited and thought. I bought a gun from a whaler. But the time never came.

“All my people had died at their hands. Six heads they carried back to feast on the brains. They ate the brains of my wife. I kept the names of those that I should kill. There was Kiihakia, who slew Moariniu, the blind man; Nakahania, who killed Hakaie, husband of Tepeiu; Niana, who cut off the head of Tahukea, who was their daughter and my woman; Veatetau should die for Tahiahokaani, who was young and beautiful, who was the sister of my woman. I waited too long, for time took them all, and I alone survive of the people of Oi, or of those who killed them.”

“The vendetta between valleys—called umuhuke, or the Vengeance of the Oven,—thus wiped out the people of Oi,” commented Père Olivier. “The skulls were kept in banian-trees, or in the houses. Frère Fesal started the mission here and built that little church. There were plenty of people to work among. But now, after thirty years I have been here, they are nearly finished. They have no courage to go on, that is all. C'est un pays sans l'avenir. The family of the dying never weep. They gather to eat the feast of the dead, and the crying is a rite, no more. These people are tired of life.”

It was Stevenson who though that “the ending of the most healthful, if not the most humane, of field sports—hedge warfare—” had much to do with depopulation. Either horn of the dilemma is dangerous to touch. It is unthinkable, perhaps, that white conquerors should have allowed the Marquesans to follow their own customs of warfare. But changes in the customs of every race must come from within that race or they will destroy it. The essence of life is freedom.

Any one who has read their past and knows them now must admit that the Marquesans have not been improved in morality by their contact with the whites. Alien customs have been forced upon them. And they are dying for lack of expression, nationally and individually. Disease, of course, is the weapon that kills them, but it finds its victims unguarded by hope or desire to live, willing to meet death half way, the grave a haven.

Beach at Oomoa

Putting the canoe in the water

In the old days this island of Fatu-hiva was the art center of the Marquesas. The fame of its tattooers, carvers in wood and stone, makers of canoes, paddles, and war-clubs, had resounded through the archipelago for centuries. Now it is one of the few places where even a feeble survival of those industries give the newcomers a glimpse of their methods and ideals now sinking, like their originators, in the mire of wretchedness.

Outside the mission gates, in the edge of the jungle, Père Olivier and I came upon two old women making tapa cloth. Shrunken with age, toothless, decrepit, their only covering the ragged and faded pareus that spoke of poverty, they sat in the shade of a banian-tree, beating the fibrous inner bark of the breadfruit-tree. Over the hollow log that resounded with the blows of their wooden mallets the cloth moved slowly, doubling on the ground into a heap of silken texture, firm, thin, and soft.

This paper-cloth was once made throughout all the South Sea Islands. Breadfruit, banian, mulberry, and other barks furnished the fiber. The outer rough bark was scraped off with a shell, and the inner rind slightly beaten and allowed to ferment. It was then beaten over a tree-trunk with mallets of iron-wood about eighteen inches long, grooved coarsely on one side and more finely on the other. The fibers were so closely interwoven by this beating that in the finished cloth one could not guess the process of making. When finished, the fabric was bleached in the sun to a dazzling white, and from it the Marquesans of old wrought wondrous garments.

For their caps they made remarkably fine textures, open-meshed, filmy as gauze, which confined their abundant black hair, and to which were added flowers, either natural or beautifully preserved in wax. Their principal garment, the cahu, was a long and flowing piece of the paper-cloth, of firmer texture, dyed in brilliant colors, or of white adorned with tasteful patterns. This hung from the shoulders, where it was knotted on one shoulder, leaving one arm and part of the breast exposed. Much individual taste was expressed in the wearing of this garment; sometimes the knot was on one shoulder, sometimes on the other, or it might be brought low on the chest, leaving the shoulders and arms bare, or thrown behind to expose the charms of a well-formed back or a slender waist. Beneath it they wore a pareu, which passed twice around the waist and hung to the calves of the legs.

Clean and neat as these garments always were, shining in the sun, leaving the body free to know the joys of sun and air and swift, easy motion, it would be difficult to imagine a more graceful, beautiful, modest, and comfortable manner of dressing.

For dyeing these garments in all the hues that fancy dictated, the women used the juices of herb and tree. Candlenut-bark gave a rich chocolate hue; scarlet was obtained from the mati-berries mixed with the leaves of the tou. Yellow came from the inner bark of the root of the morinda citrifolia. Hibiscus flowers or delicate ferns were dipped in these colors and impressed on the tapas in elegant designs.

The garments were virtually indestructible. Did a dress need repairing, the edges of the rent were moistened and beaten together, or a handful of fiber was beaten in as a patch. Often for fishermen the tapas were made water-proof by added thicknesses and the employment of gums, and waterproof cloth for wrappings was made thick and impervious to rain as the oilcloth it resembled.

Hardly one of these garments survives in the Marquesas to-day. They have been driven out by the gaudy prints of Germany and England brought by the traders, and by the ideas of dress which the missionaries imported together with the barrels of hideous night-gown garments contributed by worthy ladies of American villages.

The disappearance of these native garments brought two things, idleness and the rapid spread of tuberculosis. The tapa cloth could not be worn in the water or the rain, as it disintegrated. Marquesans therefore left their robes in the house when they went abroad in stormy weather or bathed in the sea. But in their new calicos and ginghams they walked in the rain, bathed in the rivers, and returned to sleep huddled in the wet folds, ignorant of the danger.

As the tapa disappeared, so did the beautiful carvings of canoes and paddles and clubs, superseded by the cheaper, machine-made articles of the whites. Little was left to occupy the hands or minds of the islanders, who, their old merrymakings stopped, their wars forbidden, their industry taken from them, could only sit on their paepaes yawning like children in jail and waiting for the death that soon came.

The Marquesans never made a pot. They had clay in their soil, as Gauguin proved by using it for his modeling, but they had no need of pottery, using exclusively the gourds from the vines, wooden vessels hollowed out, and temporary cups of leaves.

This absence of pottery is another proof of the lengthy isolation of the islands. The Tongans had earthen ware which they learned to make from the Fijians, but the Polynesians had left the mainland before the beginning of this art. Thus they remained a people who were, despite their startling advances in many lines, the least encumbered by useful inventions of any race in the world.

Until hardly more than a hundred years ago the natives were like our forefathers who lived millenniums ago in Europe. But being in a gentler climate, they were gentler, happier, merrier, and far cleaner. One can hardly dwell in a spirit of filial devotion upon the relation of our forefathers to soap and water, but these Marquesans bathed several times daily in dulcet streams and found soap and emollients to hand.

It was curious to me to reflect, while Père Olivier and I stood watching the two aged crones beating out the tapa cloth, upon what slender chance hung the difference between us. Far in the remote mists of time, when a tribe set out upon its wanderings from the home land, one man, perhaps, hesitated, dimly felt the dangers and uncertainties before it, weighed the advantages of remaining behind, and did not go. Had he gone, I or any one of Caucasian blood in the world to-day, might have been a Marquesan.

It would be interesting, I thought, to consider what the hundred thousand years that have passed since that day have given us of joy, of wealth of mind and soul and body, of real value in customs and manners and attitude toward life, compared to what would have been our portion in the islands of the South Seas before his white cousin fell upon the Marquesan.




Fishing in Hanavave; a deep-sea battle with a shark; Red Chicken shows how to tie ropes to shark's tails; night-fishing for dolphins, and the monster sword-fish that overturned the canoe; the native doctor dresses Red Chicken's wounds and discourses on medicine.

Grelet returned to Oomoa in the whale-boat, but I remained in Hanavave for the fishing. My presence had stimulated the waning interest of the few remaining Marquesans, and the handful of young men and women went with me often to the sea outside the Bay of Virgins, where we lay in the blazing sunshine having great sport with spear or hook and line.

We speared a dozen kinds of fish, specially the cuttlefish and sunfish, the latter more for fun and practice than food. They are huge masses, these pig-like, tailless clowns among the graceful families of the ocean, with their small mouths and clumsy-looking bodies, but they made a fine target at which to launch harpoon or spear from the dancing bow of a canoe. Keeping one's balance is the finest art of the Marquesan fisherman, and he will stand firm while the boat rises and falls, rolls and pitches, his body swaying and balancing with the nice adjustment that is second nature to him. It is an art that should be learned in childhood. Many were the splashes into the salt sea that fell to my lot as I practised it, one moment standing alert with poised spear in the sunlight, the next overwhelmed with the green water, and striking out on the surface again amid the joyous, unridiculing laughter of my merry companions.

Wearying of the spear, we trolled for swordfish with hook and line, or used the baitless hook to entice the sportful albicore, or dolphin, whose curving black bodies splashed the sea about us. A piece of mother-of-pearl about six inches long and three-quarters of an inch wide was the lure for him. Carefully cut and polished to resemble the body of a fish, there was attached to it on the concave side a barb of shell or bone about an inch or an inch and a half in length, fastened by faufee fiber, with a few hog's bristles inserted. The line was drove through the hole where the barb was fastened and, being braided along the inner side of the pearl shank, was tied again at the top, forming a chord to the arch. Thus when the beguiled dolphin took the hook and strained the line, he secured himself more firmly on the barb.

This is the best fish-hook, as it is perhaps the oldest, ever invented, and I have found it in many parts of the South Seas, but never more artfully made than here on Hanavave. It needs no bait, and is a fascinating sight for the big fish, who hardly ever discover the fraud until too late.

The line was attached to a bamboo cane about fifteen feet long, and standing in the stern of the canoe, I handled this rod, allowing the hook to touch the water, but not to sink. Behind me my companions, in their red and yellow pareus, pushed the boat through the water with gentle strokes of their oars. When I saw a fish approaching, they became active, the canoe raced across the sparkling sea, and the hook, as it skimmed along the surface, looked for all the world like a flying fish, the bristles simulating the tail. Soon the hastening dolphin fell upon it, and then became the tug-of-war, bamboo pole straining and bending, the line now taut, now relaxing, as the fish lunged, and the paddlers watching with cries of excitement until he was hauled over the side, wet and flopping, a feast for half a dozen.

One never-to-be-forgotten afternoon we ran unexpectedly upon a whole school of dolphins a few miles outside the bay, and before the sun sank I had brought from the sea twenty-six large fish. Some of these were magnificent food-fish, weighing 150 to 200 pounds. We had to send for two canoes to help bring in this miraculous draught, and all the population of the valley rejoiced in the supply of fresh and appetizing food.

The Marquesan methods of fishing are not so varied to-day as when their valleys were filled with a happy people delighting in all forms of exercise and prowess and needing the fish to supplement a scanty diet. For many weeks before I came, they said, no man had gone fishing. There were so few natives that the trees supplied them all with enough to eat, and the melancholy Marquesan preferred to sit and meditate upon his paepae rather than to fish, except when appetite demanded it. There is a Polynesian word that means “hungry for fish,” and to-day it is only when this word rises to their tongues or thoughts that they go eagerly to the sea or to the tooth-like base of the cliffs.

Often we took large quantities of fish among these caves and rocks by capturing them in bags, using a wooden fan as a weapon. The sport called for a cool head, marvelous lungs, and skill. It was extremely dangerous, as the sharks were numerous where fish were plentiful, and the angler must needs be under the water, in the shark's own domain.

Pascual, the giant Paumotan pilot and his friends

A pearl diver's sweetheart

The best hand and head for this sport in all Hanavave was a girl, Kikaaki, a name which means Miss Impossibility. She was not handsome, save with the beauty of youth and abounding health, but her wide mouth and bright eyes were intelligent and laughter-loving.

Starting early in the morning, we would go to the edge of the bay, where the coral rises from the ocean floor in fantastic shapes and builds strange grottoes and cells at the feet of the basalt rocks. While I held the canoe, Miss Impossibility would remove her shapeless calico wrapper, and attired only in scarlet pareu, her hair piled high on her head and tied with the white filet of the cocoanut-palm, she would go overboard in one curving dive, a dozen feet or more beneath the sea.

When the water was quiet and shadowed by the cliffs, I could see her through its green translucence, swimming to the coral lairs of the fish that gleamed in the reflected, penetrating sunlight. Walking on the sandy bottom, a hand net of straw in one hand, and a stick shaped like a fan in the other, she would cover a crevice with the net and with the fan urge the fish into it.

Foolish as was their conduct, the fish appeared to be deceived by the lure, or made helpless by fear, for they streamed into the receptacle as Miss Impossibility beat the water or the coral. She would have seemed to me well named had I never seen her at the sport.

She would usually stay beneath the water a couple of minutes, rising with her catch to rest for a moment or two with her hand on the edge of the boat, breathing deeply, before she went down again. Losing sight of her among the under-water caves one day, I waited for what seemed an eternity. I cannot say how long she was gone, for as the time lengthened seconds became minutes and hours, while I was torn between diving after her and remaining ready for emergency in the boat. When at last she came to the surface, she was nearly dead with exhaustion, and I had to lift her into the canoe. She said her hair had been caught in the branching coral, and that she had been barely able to wrench it free before her strength was gone.

I went down with her several times, but could not master the art of entrapping the fish, and was overcome with fear when I had entered one of the dark caves and heard a terrible splashing nearby, as if a shark had struck the coral in attempting to enter my hazardous refuge.

Even Miss Impossibility had not the courage to face a shark; yet every time she dived she risked meeting one. Red Chicken had killed one at this very spot a few weeks earlier. The danger even to a man armed with a knife was that the shark would obstruct from a cave, or come upon him suddenly from behind.

Often we had with us in the fishing a Paumotan, Pascual, the pilot of the ship Zelee, who was in Hanavave visiting a relative. He was the very highest physical and mental type of the Paumotan, a honey-comb of good-nature, a well of laughter, and a seaman beyond compare. To be a pilot in the Isles of the Labyrinth demands many strong qualities, but to be the pilot of the only warship in this sea was the very summit of pilotry. He had an accurate knowledge of forty harbors and anchorages, and spoke English fluently, French, Paumotan, Tahitian, Marquesan, and other Polynesian tongues. From boyhood until he took up pilotage he was a diver in the lagoons for shell and in harbors for the repair of ships.

“I have killed many sharks,” he said, “and have all but fed them more than once. I had gone one morning a hundred feet. The water is always colder below the surface, and I shivered as I pulled at a pair of big shells under a ledge. It was dark in the cavern, and I was both busy and cold, so that as I stooped I did not see a shark that came from behind, until he plumped into my spine.

“I turned as he made his reverse to bite me, and passed under him, out to better light. I knew I had but a second or two to fight. I seized his tail quickly, and as he swept around to free himself I had time to draw the knife from my pareu and stab him. He passed over me again, and this time his teeth entered my shoulder, here—” He opened his shirt and showed me a long, livid scar, serrated, the hall-mark of a fighter of mako.

“But by fortune—you may be sure I called on God—I got my knife home again, and sprang up for the air, feeling him in the water behind me. Twice I drove the blade into him on the way, for he would not let me go. My friend in the canoe, who saw the struggle, jumped down to my aid, and being fresh from the air, he cut that devil to pieces. I was not too strong when I reached the outrigger and hung my weight upon it. We ate the liver of that mako, and damned him as we ate. I had fought him from the ledge upward at least eighty feet of the hundred.”

Aue!” said Red Chicken, hearing me exclaim at the tale. “You have never seen a man fight the mako? Epo! To-morrow we shall show you.”

On the following day when the sun was shining brightly, several of us went in a canoe to a place beneath the cliffs haunted by the sharks, and there prepared to snare one. A rope of hibiscus was made fast to a jagged crag, and a noose at the other end was held by Red Chicken, who stood on the edge of a great boulder eagerly watching while others strewed pig's entrails in the water to entice a victim from the dark caves.

At length a long gray shape slid from the shadows and wavered below our feet. Instantly Red Chicken slipped from the rock, slid noiselessly beneath the water, and slipped the noose over the shark's tail before it knew that he was nearby. The others, whose hands were on the rope, tightened it on the instant, and with a yell of triumph hauled the lashing, fighting demon upon the rocks, where he struggled gasping until he died.

There was still another way of catching sharks, Red Chicken said, and being now excited with the sport and eager to show his skill, he insisted upon displaying it for my benefit, though I, who find small pleasure in vicarious danger, would have dissuaded him. For this exploit we must row to the coral caves, where the man-eating fish stay often lying lazily in the grottoes, only their heads protruding into the sun-lit water.

Here we maneuvered until the long, evil-looking snout was seen; then Red Chicken went quietly over the side of the canoe, descended beside the shark and tapped him sharply on the head. The fish turned swiftly to see what teased him, and in the same split-second of time, over his fluke went the noose, and Red Chicken was up and away, while his companions on a nearby cliff pulled in the rope and killed the shark with spears in shallow water. Red Chicken said that he had learned this art from a Samoan, whose people were cleverer killers of sharks than the Marquesans. It could be done only when the shark was full-fed, satisfied, and lazy.

I had seen the impossible, but I was to hear a thing positively incredible. While Red Chicken sat breathing deeply in the canoe, filled with pride at my praises, and the others were contriving means of carrying home the shark meat, I observed a number of fish swimming around and through the coral caves, and jumped to the conclusion that from their presence Red Chicken had deduced the well-filled stomachs and thoroughly satisfied appetite of the shark. Red Chicken replied, however, that they were a fish never eaten by sharks, and offered an explanation to which I listened politely, but with absolute unbelief. Imagine with what surprise I found Red Chicken's tale repeated in a book that I read some time later when I had returned to libraries.

There is a fish, the Diodon antennatus, that gets the better of the shark in a curious manner. He can blow himself up by taking in air and water, until he becomes a bloated wretch instead of the fairly decent thing he is in his normal moments. He can bite, he can make a noise with his jaws, and can eject water from his mouth to some distance. Besides all this, he erects papillae on his skin like thorns, and secretes in the skin of his belly a carmine fluid that makes a permanent stain. Despite all these defences, if the shark is fool enough to heed no warning and to eat Diodon, the latter puffs himself up and eats his way clean through the shark to liberty, leaving the shark riddled and leaky, and, indeed, dead.

Should this still be doubted, my new authority is Charles Darwin.

After his display of skill and daring—and, as I thought, vivid imagination—Red Chicken became my special friend and guide, and on one occasion it was our being together, perhaps, saved his life, and afforded me one of the most thrilling moments of my own.

He and I had gone in a canoe after nightfall to spear fish outside the Bay of Virgins. Night fishing has its attractions in these tropics, if only for the freedom from severe heat, the glory of the moonlight or starlight, and the waking dreams that come to one upon the sea, when the canoe rests tranquil, the torch blazes, and the fish swim to meet the harpoon. The night was moonless, but the sea was covered with phosphorescence, sometimes a glittering expanse of light, and again black as velvet except where our canoe moved gently through a soft and glamorous surface of sparkling jewels. A night for a lover, a lady, and a lute.

Our torch of cocoanut-husks and reeds, seven feet high, was fixed at the prow, so that it could be lifted up when needed to attract the fish or better to light the canoe. Red Chicken, in a scarlet pareu fastened tightly about his loins, stood at the prow when we had reached his favorite spot off a point of land, while I, with a paddle, noiselessly kept the canoe as stationary as possible.

Light is a lure for many creatures of land and sea and sky. The moth and the bat whirl about a flame; the sea-bird dashes its body against the bright glass of the lonely tower; wild deer come to see what has disturbed the dark of the forest, and fish of different kinds leap at a torch. Red Chicken put a match to ours when we were all in readiness. The brilliant gleam cleft the darkness and sent across the blackness of the water a beam that was a challenge to the curiosity of the dozing fish. They hastened toward us, and Red Chicken made meat of those who came within the radius of his harpoon, so that within an hour or two our canoe was heaped with half a dozen kinds.

Far off in the path of the flambeau rays I saw the swordfish leaping as they pursued small fish or gamboled for sheer joy in the luminous air. They seemed to be in pairs. I watched them lazily, with academic interest in their movements, until suddenly one rose a hundred feet away, and in his idle caper in the air I saw a bulk so immense and a sword of such amazing size that the thought of danger struck me dumb.

He was twenty-five feet in length, and had a dorsal fin that stood up like the sail of a small boat. But even these dimensions cannot convey the feeling of alarm his presence gave me. His next leap brought him within forty feet of us. I recalled a score of accidents I had seen, read, and heard of; fishermen stabbed, boats rent, steel-clad ships pierced through and through.

Red Chicken held the torch to observe him better, and shouted:

Apau! Look out! Paddle fast away!”

I needed no urging. I dug into the glowing water madly, and the sound of my paddle on the side of the canoe might have been heard half a mile away. It served no purpose. Suddenly half a dozen of the swordfish began jumping about us, as if stirred to anger by our torch. I called to Red Chicken to extinguish, it.

He had seized it to obey when I heard a splash and the canoe received a terrific shock. A tremendous bulk fell upon it. With a sudden swing I was hurled into the air and fell twenty feet away. In the water I heard a swish, and glimpsed the giant espadon as he leaped again.

I was unhurt, but feared for Red Chicken. He had cried out as the canoe went under, but I found him by the outrigger, trying to right the craft. Together we succeeded, and when I had ousted some of the water, Red Chicken crawled in.

Papaoufaa! I am wounded slightly,” he said, as I assisted him. “The Spear of the Sea has thrust me through.”

The torch was lost, but I felt a big hole in the calf of his right leg. Blood was pouring from the wound. I made a tourniquet of a strip of my pareu and, with a small harpoon, twisted it until the flow of blood was stopped. Then, guided by him, I paddled as fast as I could to the beach, on which there was little trouble in landing as the bay was smooth.

Red Chicken did not utter a complaint from the moment of his first outcry, and when I roused others and he was carried to his house, he took the pipe handed him and smoked quietly.

“The Aavehie was against him,” said an old man. Aavehie is the god of fishermen, who was always propitiated by intending anglers in the polytheistic days, and who still had power.

Spearing fish in Marquesas Islands

Pearl shell divers at work

There was no white doctor on the island, nor had there been one for many years. There was nothing to do but call the tatihi, or native doctor, an aged and shriveled man whose whole body was an intricate pattern of tattooing and wrinkles. He came at once, and with his claw-like hands cleverly drew together the edges of Red Chicken's wound and gummed them in place with the juice of the ape, a bulbous plant like the edible taro. Red Chicken must have suffered keenly, for the ape juice is exceedingly caustic, but he made no protest, continuing to puff the pipe. Over the wound the tatihi applied a leaf, and bound the whole very carefully with a bandage of tapa cloth folded in surgical fashion.

About the mat on which Red Chicken lay the elders of the village congregated in the morning to discuss the accident and tell tales while the pipe circulated. One had seen his friend pierced through the chest by a sword-fish and instantly killed. Numerous incidents of their canoes being sunk by these savage Spears of the Sea were recited by the wise men who, with no books to bother them or written records to dull their memories, preserved the most minute recollections of important events of the past.

For my part, on the subject of the demoniacal work of the swordfish, I regaled them with accounts of damage wrought to big ships; of how a bony sword had penetrated the hull of the Fortune, of Plymouth, cutting through copper, an inch of under-sheathing, a three-inch plank of hard wood, twelve inches of solid, white-oak timber, two and a half inches of hard oak ceiling, and the head of an oil cask; of the sloop Morning Star, which had to be convoyed to port with a leak through a hole in eight and a half inches of white oak; of the United States Fish Commission sloop, Red Hot, rammed and sunk; of the British dreadnaught, which was pumped to Colombo where the leak made by the fish was found, and 15,000 francs insurance paid.

“Our fathers never went fishing until they had implored the favor of the gods,” said Red Chicken. “I am a Catholic, but it may be the sea is so old, older than Christ, that the devils there obey the old gods we used to worship. If that largest Spear of the Sea that we saw had attacked me or our boat, he would have killed us and sunk the canoe, for he was four fathoms long, and his weapon was as tall as I am.”

The tatihi nodded his head gravely. His soul was still in the keeping of the gods of his fathers, and-he saw in Red Chicken's wound the vengeance of the un-appeased Aavehie.

I was amazed to find that Red Chicken had no fever, and was recovering rapidly. Without modern medicine or knowledge of it, the tatihi had healed the sufferer, and I drew him on to talk of his skill.

His surgical knowledge was excellent; he knew the location of the vital organs quite accurately from frequent cutting up of bodies for eating. He had treated successfully broken bones, spear-wounds through the body, holes knocked in skulls by the vicious, egg-sized sling-stones. If the skull was merely cracked, with no smashing of the bone, he drilled holes at the end of each crack to prevent further cleavage and, replacing the skin he had folded back, bound the head with cooling leaves and left nature to cure the break. If there was pressure on the brain or a part of the skull was in bits, his custom was to remove all these and, trimming the edges of the hole in the brainpan, to fit over it a neat disk of cocoanut-shell, return the scalp, and nurse the patient to health.

He had known of cases when injured brain matter was replaced with pig-brains, but admitted that the patient in such cases became first violently angry and then died. Lancing boils and abscesses with thorns had been his former habit, but he favored a nail for the purpose nowadays.

Fearing lest fever should attack Red Chicken, he had prepared a decoction from the hollow joints of the bamboo, which he administered in frequent doses from a cocoanut-shell. It was milk-white, and became translucent in water, like that beautiful variety of opal, the hydrophane. There was a legend, said the tatihi, that the knowledge of this medicine had been gleaned from a dark man who had come on a ship many years before, and with this clue I recognized it as tabasheer, a febrifuge long known in India.

A fire had been built outside the straw hovel in which Red Chicken lay, and stones were heating in it, so that if milder medicine did not avail the patient might be laid on a pile of blazing stones covered with protecting leaves, and swathed in cloths until perspiration conquered fever. The patient would then be rushed to the sea or river and plunged into cold water.

But this procedure was not necessary. Red Chicken got well rapidly, and in a few days was walking about as usual, though with a thoughtful look in his eye that promised a soul-struggle with Père Olivier, whose new gods had not protected the fisherman against the gods of the sea.




A journey over the roof of the world to Oomoa; an encounter with a wild woman of the hills.

Père Olivier tried to dissuade me from walking back to Oomoa, and offered me his horse, but I determined to go afoot and let Orivie, a native youth, be my mounted guide. Orivie is named for Père Olivier; there being no “l” in the Marquesan language, the good priest's name is pronounced as if spelled in English Oreeveeay.

The horse, the usual small, tough mountain-pony, was caught, and upon him we strapped the saddle with cow-skin stirrups, hairy and big, and a rope bridle. Orivie, handsomely dressed in wrinkled denim trousers, a yellow pareu and an aged straw hat, mounted the beast, and bidding farewell to the friends I had made, we began to climb the trail through the village.

At each of the dozen houses we passed I had to stop and say Kaoha to the occupants. In these islands there is none of that coldness toward the casual passer-by which is common in America, where one may walk through the tiniest village and receive no salutation unless the village constable sees a fee in arresting the wayfarer for not having money or a job. All the elders were tattooed, and as every island and even every valley differed in its style of skin decoration, these people had new patterns and pictures of interest to me. I made it a point to linger a little before each house, praising the appearance of these tattooed old people, both because it pleased them and because it is a pity that this national art expression should die out at the whim of whites who substitute nothing for it. By this deprivation, as by a dozen others, the Marquesans have been robbed of racial pride and clan distinction, and their social life destroyed.

Despite this delay, Orivie and I were soon past the houses. As population has decreased in all the valleys the people have moved down from the upper heights to districts nearer the sea, for neighborliness and convenience. Only a few in some places have remained in the further glens, and these are the non-conformists, who retain yet their native ways of thought and living and their ancient customs. This I knew, but I pursued my way behind the climbing little horse, enjoying the many sights and perfumes of the jungle, in happy ignorance of an experience soon to befall me with one of these residents of the heights. It fell upon me suddenly, the most embarrassing of several experiences that have divided me between fear and laughter.

Perhaps a mile above the village, in a wilderness of shrubbery, trees, and giant ferns, we came upon a cross-trail, a thin line of travel hardly breaking the dense growth, and saw a woman appear from among the leaves. She was large, perhaps five feet, ten inches, tall; a Juno figure, handsome and lithe. Such a woman of her age, about twenty-two years, does the work of a man, makes copra, fells trees, lifts heavy stones, and is a match for the average man in strength. She was dark, as are all Marquesans who live a hardy and vigorous life unsheltered from sun and wind, and in the half shadow of the forest she seemed like an animal, wild and savage. Her scarlet pareu and necklace of red peppers added color to a picture that struck me at once as bizarre and memorable.

The horse had passed her, and turning about in the saddle Orivie replied to her greeting, while I added a courteous “Kaoha!” She looked at me with extraordinary attention, which I ascribed to my white ducks and traveling cap, while she asked who I was. Orivie replied that I was a stranger on my way over the mountains. She advanced into the main trail then, letting slip from her shoulders a weight of packages, tea, and other groceries, and suddenly embraced me, smelling my face and picking me up in a bear hug that, startled as I was, nearly choked me.

“Take care!” cried Orivie, in a tone between alarm and amusement. I backed hastily away, and sought to take refuge beside a boulder, but she vaulted after me, and seizing me again, resumed her passionate attack.

“She is a woman of the mountains! She will take you away to her paepae!” my excited guide yelled warningly.

That was her intention. There was no doubt about it. She seized me by the arm and tried to drag me away from the boulder to which I clung. For several moments I was engaged in a struggle more sincere than chivalrous on my part and ardently demonstrative on hers. But as I absolutely would not accede to her desire to give me a home in the hills, she was forced to give up hope after a final embrace, which I ended rudely, but scientifically. Rising to her feet again, she picked up her burden, which must have weighed fully a hundred pounds, and went her way.

“She is a hinenao pu,” said Orivie. That means literally a coquette without reason. I did not seek for double meaning in the remark, but expressed my opinion of all hinenaos as I replaced my cap and readjusted my garments.

“These women of the heights are all like that,” said my guide. “They have no sense and no shame. If they see a stranger near their home, they will seize him, as men do women. If they are in the mood, they will not take no for an answer. It has always been their custom, as that of the hill men capturing the valley women. It is shameful, but it has never changed. She would give you food and treat you with kindness as a man does his bride. You know, in the old days the strong women had more than one husband; sometimes four or five, and they chose them in this way. If you were nearer where Tepu lives, she would make you a prisoner. They have often done that.”

“Do we go near her home?” said I.

“No; we see no more paepaes,” replied Orivie.

“Then,” I said, “let us hasten onward.”

We mounted at every foot, and soon were above the cocoanuts. The trail was a stream interspersed with rocks, for in these steep accents the path, worn lower than its borders, becomes in the rainy season the natural bed of the trickle or torrent that runs to the valley. The horse leaped from rock to rock, planting his back feet and springing upward to a perch, upon which he hung until he got balance for another leap. I followed the animal, knowing him wiser in such matters than I. From time to time Orivie urged me to ride and when I refused gave me the knowing look bestowed upon the witless, the glance of the asylum-keeper upon the lunatic who thinks himself a billiard ball.

We were soon so high that I saw below only a big basin, in which was a natural temple, the vast ruin of a gigantic minster, it seemed, and across the basin a rugged, saw-like profile of the mountain-top. Eons ago the upper valley was a volcano, when the island of Fatu-hiva was under the sea. Once the fire burst through the crater side toward the present beach, and after the explosion there was left a massive gateway of rock, through which we had come from the village. Towering so high that they were hardly perceptible when we had been beside them, they showed from this height their whole formation, like the wrecked walls of a stupendous basilica.

Up and up we went. The way was steeper than any mountain I have ever climbed, except the sheer sides of chasms where ropes are necessary, or the chimneys of narrow defiles. I have climbed on foot Vesuvius, Halaakela, Kilauea, Fuji, and Mayon, and the mountains of America, Asia, and South America, though I know nothing by trial of the terrors of the Alps. However, the horse could and did go up the steep, though it taxed him to the utmost, and these horses are like mountain-goats, for there is hardly any level land in the Marquesas.

Catholic Church at Hanavave
Frère Fesal on left, Père Olivier on right

A canoe in the surf at Oomoa

Unexpectedly, the sea came in view, with the Catholic church and its white belfry, but in another turn it disappeared. I fell again and again; the horse floundered among the stones in the trough and fell, too, Orivie seizing trees or bushes that lined the banks to save himself. Rocks as large as hundred-ton vessels were on the mountainside above, held from falling only by small rocks interposed, feeble obstacles to an avalanche. Beetling precipices overhung the village. I thought they might fall at any moment, and the Marquesans recount many such happenings. In Tai-o-hae three hundred natives were entombed forever by a landslide, and Orivie pointed out the tracks of such slides, and immense masses of rock in the far depths below, beside strips of soft soil brought down by the rains.

The wild guava and the thorny keoho, the taro, the pandanus and the banian, all the familiar and useful trees and plants were left behind. We toiled onward in a wilderness of stone.

I climbed around the edge of a precipice, and stood above the sea. The blue ocean, as I looked downward, was directly under my eyes, and I could see the fishing canoes like chips on the water. It was a thousand feet straight down; the standing-place was but three feet wide, wet and slippery. The mighty trade-wind swept around the crags and threatened to dislodge me.

That demoniacal impulse to throw oneself from a height took possession of me. Almost a physical urging of the body, as if some hidden Mephistopheles not only poured into the soul his hellish advice to end your life, but pushed you to the brink. As never before the evil desire to fall from that terrible height attacked me, and the world became a black dizziness. Struggling, I threw out my hand; the unconscious grip upon a stunted fern, itself no barrier against falling, gave me a mental grip upon myself, and the crisis was passed.

On hands and knees I crept around the ledge, for the wind was a gale, and a slip of a foot might mean a drop of a fifth of a mile.

The next valley, Tapaatea, came in view, and Hanavave a cleft in the mountains, the stream a silver cord. A cascade gleamed on the opposite side against the Namana hills. It is Vaieelui, the youth Orivie informed me, as we went higher, still on the dangerous ledge that binds the seaward precipice. All the valleys converged to a point, and nothing below was distinct.

Higher we went, and were level with the jagged ridge of the Faeone mountains toward the north, and could look through the pierced mountain, Laputa; through the hole, tehavaiinenao, that is like a round window to the sky, framed in black, about which legends are raised. Orivie smiled indulgently as I explained to him that that hole was made by sea-currents when Laputa was under the ocean. He knew that a certain warrior, half god and half man, threw his spear through the mountain once upon a time.

We came then to the veriest pitch of the journey, like the roof of the world, and it was necessary to crawl about another ledge that permitted a perpendicular view of 2500 feet, so desperate in its attraction that had I known the name of that saint who is the patron of alpenstock buyers I would have offered him an ave. This was the apex. Once safely past it, the trail went downward to a plateau.

I caught up with Orivie and the horse, and my muscles so rejoiced at the change of motion in descent that almost involuntarily I took a few steps of a jig and uttered the first verses of “I Only Had Fifty Cents.” Mosses and ferns by the billion covered every foot of the small plateau. There were no trees. The trail was a foot deep in water, like an irrigation ditch. One still might easily break one's neck. And I reflected that Père Olivier crosses many times a year between Oomoa and Hanavave, in his black soutan and on his weary horse, in all weathers, alone; it is a fact to treasure for recalling when one hears all missionaries included in the accusation of selfishness that springs so often to the lips of many men.

We reached the plane of cocoanuts, and I asked Orivie to fetch down a couple, after essaying to perform that feat myself and failing dismally besides scratching my nose and hands. Bare feet are a requisite—bare and tough as leather. The Marquesans cut notches in the trees after they reach maturity, to make the climbing easier, a custom they have in many parts of Asia, but not in Tahiti. These footholds are made every three feet on opposite sides. They are cut shallowly, inclining downward and outward, in order not to wound the wood of the tree or to form pockets in which water would collect and rot it. With these aids they climb with ease, using a rope of purau bark tied about the wrists, and by these they pull themselves from notch.

I have seen a child of six years reach the top of a sixty-foot tree in a minute or so, and I have seen a man or woman stop on the way, fifty feet from the earth, and light a cigarette. Slim, fat, chiefs or commoners, all learn this knack in infancy. Men who puff along the road because of their bulk will attain the branches of a palm with the agility of monkeys.

Orivie had no notches to assist him, but tied his ankles together with a piece of tough vine, leaving about ten inches of play, and with this band, pressed tightly against the tree, giving firm support while his arms, clasping the trunk above, drew him upward a yard at a time, he was at the crest of a fifty-foot tree in a minute, and threw down two drinking nuts. They were as big as foot-balls and weighed about five pounds each. We had no knife, but broke in the tops with stones, and holding up the shining green nuts, let the wine flow down our throats. Never was a better thirst-quencher or heartener! The hottest noon on the hottest beach, when the coral burns the feet, this nectar is cool. After the most arduous climb, when lungs and muscles ache with weariness, it freshens strength and lifts the spirit.

By the cocoanut-grove ran a level stream shaded with pandanus, and following it, we commenced again to mount on a pathway arched by small trees, down which the stream coursed. The cocoanuts fell away as we went up the ridge and emerged upon a tableland covered with ferns, some green and some dead and dry, carpeting the flat expanse as far as eye could see with a mat of lavender, the green and the brown melting into that soft color.

We were further on the broad roof on the mountains, in the middle now and not on the edge, so we ran and galloped and shouted. Wild horses fled from us, and we heard the grunt of boar in the fern thickets. The fan-palms, dwarfs, but graceful, intermingled with magnificent tree-ferns, while above them curved the huetu, the immense mountain plantain, called fei in Tahiti, where they are the bread of the people; they have ribbed, emerald leaves, as big as a man. Feeders of dark people in many lands for thousands of years, theirs is the same golden fruit I had eaten at breakfast with Père Olivier, three thousand feet below. They grow only in the mountains, and the men who bring them into the villages have feet shaped like a hand spread out to its widest, with toes twisted curiously by climbing rocks and grasping roots for support.

The rain began to fall again, and the wind came stronger, but now we were going down in earnest. The sea shone again, but it was on the Oomoa side. We passed under trees hung with marvelous orchids, the puaauetaha, Orivie said, parasitic vines related to the vanilla as the lion is related to the kitten, cousins, but with little family likeness.

The trail became very dangerous at this point, a rocky slide, with steps a foot or two apart like uneven stairs, and all a foot, or sometimes two, under running water. I jumped and slid and slipped, following the unhappy plunging horse. Darkness came on quickly with the blinding rain, and the descent was often at an angle of forty-five degrees, over rocks, eroded hills, along the edge of a precipice. I fell here, and saved myself by catching a root in the trail and pulling myself up again. I would have dropped upon the roof of the gendarme's house a thousand feet below.

We heard the sound of the surf, and letting the horse go, Orivie led me, by that sense we surrender for the comforts of civilization, down the bed of a cascade to the River of Oomoa, which we waded, and then arrived at Grelet's house. We had come thirteen miles. I was tired, but Orivie made nothing of the journey.

Covered with mud as I was, I went to the river and bathed in the rain and, returning to the house, looked after my health. A half ounce of rum, a pint of cocoanut-milk from a very young nut, the juice of half a lime just from the tree, two lumps of sugar, and I had an invigorating draught, long enough for a golf player after thirty-six holes, and delicate enough for a debutante after her first cotillion. The Paumotan boys and Pae looked on in horror, saying that I was spoiling good rum.




Return in a canoe to Atuona; Tetuahunahuna relates the story of the girl who rode the white horse in the celebration of the féte of Joan of Arc in Tai-o-hae; Proof that sharks hate women; steering by the stars to Atuona beach.

The canoe we had followed to Hanavave stopped in Oomoa on its way to Hiva-oa, my home, for I had bargained with Tetuahunahuna, its owner, for my conveyance to Atuona. Grelet would eventually have transported me, but so great was his aversion to leaving Fatu-hiva that I felt it would be asking too much of him. He reminded me that Kant, the great metaphysician, had lived eighty years in his birthplace and never stirred more than seven miles from it.

The canoe had come to Hanavave to bring back two young women. One was dark, a voluptuous figure in a pink satin gown over a lace petticoat. A leghorn hat, trimmed with shells and dried nuts, sat coquettishly upon her masses of raven hair. Upon her neck, rounded as a young cocoanut-tree, was a necklace of pearls that an empress might have envied her, had they been real and not the synthetic gift of some trader. Small and shapely feet, bare, peeped from under her filmy frills. Her eyes were the large, limpid orbs of the typical Marquesan, like sepia, long-lashed; her nose straight and perfect, her mouth sensuous and demanding. Ghost Girl, her name signified, and she flitted about the islands like a sprite.

“She levies tribute on all whom she likes,” said Grelet. “Her devotions are rum and tobacco.” On meeting me she squatted and spat through her fingers to show her thirst, as do all Marquesans whose manners have not been corrupted by strangers.

The other girl, younger, in a scarlet tunic with a wreath of hibiscus flowers on her head, startled me by appearing with all her body that I could see colored a brilliant yellow. She had decked herself for the journey with a covering of ena-paste, perfumed with saffron, a favorite cosmetic of island beauties.

The sun was white on Oomoa beach as we came down to it from the grateful shade of Grelet's plantation. Against the blinding glimmer of it the half-naked boatsmen, bearing bunches of bananas, dozens of drinking nuts, bread, and wine, the gifts of my host, were dark silhouettes outlined against the blue sea.

Behind them walked Tetuahunahuna. Calm, unburdened, and without a tattoo mark on his straight brown body, he looked the commander of men that he was, a man whose word none would think to question or to doubt. Indifferent alike to the dizzying heat and to the admiring glances of the women, he set at once to ordering the loading of the boat that lay upon the sands beyond the reach of the breakers.

A dozen women lounged in the ancient public place beneath the banian tree, a mighty platform of black stone on which the island women had sat for centuries to watch their men come and go in canoes to the fishing or to raids on neighboring bays, and where for decades they have awaited the landing of their white sailor lovers.

Tai, menino! A pacific sea!” they called to us as we passed them, and their eyes followed with envy the progress of Ghost Girl and Sister of Anna.

The boat was already well loaded when I reached it. The fermented breadfruit wrapped in banana-leaves, the pig dug from the pit that morning and packed in sections of bamboo, the calabashes of river water, the bananas and drinking nuts, were all in place. With difficulty my luggage was added to the cargo, and we found cramped places for ourselves and bade farewell to Grelet, while the oarsmen held the boat steady at the edge of the lapping waves. Tetuahunahuna, watching the breakers, gave a quick word of command, and we plunged through the foam.

The boat leaped and pitched in the flying spray. The oarsmen, leaping to their places, struck out with the oars. A sharp “Haie!” of alarm rose behind me, and I saw that an oar had snapped. But Tetuahunahuna, waist-deep in the water at our stern, gave a mighty push, and we were safely afloat as he clambered over the edge and stood dripping on the steersman's tiny perch, while the men, holding the boat head-on to the rolling waves, drove us safely through to open water.

Outside the bay they put by their oars and we waited for a breeze to give the signal for hoisting mast and sail. The beach lay behind us, a narrow line of white beyond the whiter curve of surf. The blue sky burned above us, and to the far shimmering horizon stretched the blue calm of a windless sea.

We rolled idly, the sun scorching us. In an hour I was so hot that I began to wonder if I could endure the torment. The buckle on my trousers burned my flesh, and I could not touch my clothes without pain. The Marquesans lay comfortably on the seats and bundles, enjoying their pandanus-leaf cigarettes. Every few moments the bow-oar skillfully rolled one, took a few puffs and handed it to the next man, who, after taking his turn, passed it down the waiting line.

From time to time Tetuahunahuna, squatting in the stern, made a sign, and a fresh cigarette passed untouched through eight hands to his. He smoked serenely, gazing at the smooth swells of water and waiting with inexhaustible patience for the wind. At his feet the fifteen-year-old girl, Sister of Anne, disposed her saffron-colored body upon oars laid across the thwarts and slept. Ghost Girl, beside me, laid her glossy head in my lap to doze more comfortably.

Jammed against the unyielding thwarts, I passed miserable hours, unable to move more than a few inches in the narrow space. At noon, with the vertical eye of the evil sun staring down upon us, my clothes were so hot that I had to hold them off my body. I meditated leaping into the ocean and swimming awhile. Ghost Girl saw my intention when I stirred, and pulled me back beside her.

Mako!” she cried. “Puaa hae!” She pointed to starboard. A gray fin moved slowly through the water twenty feet away. “A shark, and a wicked beast he is!” She reached to pick up an opened cocoanut and tossed some of the milk over her shoulder to appease the demon. “Mako!” she repeated. “Puaa hae!

Requin!” echoed Tetuahunahuna in French. “The devil of the Marquesas!”

“But you are not afraid of them. You swim where they are,” said I.

“Few of us are bitten by sharks,” said Tetuahunahuna, sizing up a puff of wind that brought a faint hope. It died, and he continued. “We are often in the sea, and do not fear the mako enough to make us weak against him. I have killed many with a knife. I have tied ropes about their bellies and made them feel silly as we pulled them in. I have tickled their bellies with the point of the knife that slit them later. They are awkward, they must turn over to bite, and they are afraid of a man swimming. But they are devils, and hate women. They do not like men, but women they will go far to kill.”

He took the cigarette Ghost Girl handed him and, squatting on the rudder deck, looked at me to see if I were interested. Wretched as I felt, I returned his glance, and said “Tiatohoa?” which means, “Is that so?” and showed that I was attentive.

“It is so,” he replied. “There are reasons for this. In times before the memory of man a shark-god was deceived by a woman. In his anger he overturned an island, but this did not appease his hate. Since that time all sharks have preyed on women.”

Sister of Anne moved restlessly in her sleep and put her ena-covered feet across my knees, feet as hot as an iron pump-handle on a July noon.

Hakaia!” exclaimed Ghost Girl, and hung the feet over the side.

“Sharks will let men live to kill women,” Tetuahunahuna resumed. “There are many proofs of this, but most convincing is a happening that every one in Tai-o-hae and Nuka-hiva knows, because it happened only a few years ago. I saw that happening.”

I looked at him with attention, and after a few puffs of smoke he continued.

“You may think, you who use the Iron Fingers That Make Words, that the shark does not know the difference between men and women. I have seen it, and I will tell you honestly. I have thought often of it, for all who live in Tai-o-hae know that woman, and her foster-sister sits there with the ena upon her. She does not lie in the cemetery, this girl of whom I speak, nor is her body beside that of her fathers in the ua tupapau. Her name was Anna, a name for your country, fenua Menike, for her father was captain of a vessel with three masts that came from Newbeddifordimass, a place where all the Menike ships that hunt the whale came from. Her mother was O Take Oho, of the valley of Hapaa, whose father was eaten by the men of Tai-o-hae in the war with that white captain, Otopotee.

Ue! Those big ships that hunt the whale come no more. The paaoa spouts with none to strike him. Standireili makes the lanterns burn in Menike land, and they send it here in tipoti, the big cans. The old days are gone.

“The father of Anna saw her first when she was one year old and could barely swim. He came in his ship from Newbeddifordimass, and he said that it was for the last time, for the whaling was done. He was a young man, strong and a user of strong words, but he looked with pride on the little Anna, and kept her with her with her mother on his ship for many weeks, while the men of the ship danced with the girls. He would bathe on the beach in the bay of Tai-o-hae, and the little Anna would swim to him through the deep water. He gave her a small silver box with a silver chain, for the tiki of Bernadette, on the day that he sailed away.

“He did not come again to Tai-o-hae, nor Atuona, nor Hanavave. We heard that he traded with Tahiti, and had given up the chase of the paaoa. I have never been in Tahiti. They say that it is beautiful and that the people are joyous. They have all the namu they can drink. The government is good to them.” Tetuahunahuna sighed, and looked at my bag, in which was the bottle of rum Grelet had given me.

I poured a drink into the cocoanut-shell Ghost Girl had emptied, and gave it to him. “Kaoha!” he said and, having swallowed the rum, went on.

“When Anna had fourteen years she was mot kanahua, as beautiful as a great pearl. She was tall for her age as are the daughters of the great. Her hair was of red and of gold, like that of Titihuti of Autuona. Her eyes were the color of the mio, the rosewood when freshly cut, and her breasts like the milk-cocoanut husked for drinking.

“Many young men, Marquesan men and all the white men, and George Washington, the black American, tried to capture Anna, but Père Simeon, the priest, had given her to the blessed Maria Peato, and the Sisters guarded her carefully. From the time she played naked on the beach she wore the tiki of Bernadette in the silver box given her by her father, and she said the prayers Père Simeon taught her from the book. She wore a blue pareu, and that was strange, for only old people, and few of them, wear any but the red or yellow loin-cloth. But blue, said little Anna, is the color of Maria Peato, mother of Christ.”

The others were listening curiously. Ghost Girl crossed herself and muttered, “Kaoha, Maria Peato!”

“When she had fourteen years, then, Anna was different from all other girls on these beaches. All men sighed for her, but she was one who would not follow the custom of our girls since always. She was made different by her mother, by the prayers of Père Simeon, and by something strange in her kuhane—what do you say? Soul. She cared nothing for drink or pipi, the trinkets girls adore. She spoke of herself always as the daughter of a Menike captain, a father who would come for her and take her away. Her mother had kept this always in her mind, and Anna never joined the dances.

“Her mother, who lived on the beach and waited for the sailors, saw her seldom, for Père Simeon had taken Anna away, and kept her in the nuns' house, and they guarded her. He had put a tapu upon her.”

I sat up suddenly, struck by a memory. “It was she who rode the white horse, and bore the armor of Joan in the great parade?”

“It was she. The nuns would have had her live in the nun's house forever, and become one of them. But Anna told me on the beach when she came hiding to see her mother, that she would live in the nuns' house only until her Menike father came to take her away. She kept the tiki of Bernadette in its silver box upon her neck, and it was her god to whom she said her prayers.”

Epo!” I said, sitting up, dumfounded. “Go on, Tetuahunahuna. Tell me more.”

“There came the great day of the blessed Joan,” said Tetuahunahuna, after tasting a fresh cigarette. “There were drums and chants, and rum for all. Père Simeon took away the rum, alas! and only the Menike sailors on the ships could have enough. Anna wore a garment that shone like the sun on the waves, and sat upon a white horse, riding from the mission to the House of Lepers on the beach. Père Simeon walked before her carrying the tiki of the Sacrament, and there were banners white as the new web of the cocoanut. Anna did not look to right or to left as she sat upon the horse, but when she stood on the sand by the House of Lepers, she looked long at a new ship in the bay.

“Anna said that this ship might be that of her white father, but the name was different, and this ship was not from Newbeddifordimass. She said she would swim to this ship to see her father, but her mother said no. Her mother told her that the waters were full of sharks, and that not even a tiki of Bernadette would save her. Then came the nuns, and took Anna away. Anna wept as she went with them, for she desired to stay and look at the ship.

“That night the boats of the ship could not land on the beach of Tai-o-hae, for the sea was too great, so that they came and went from Peikua, the staircase in the rocks. The sailors had leave to do what they wished and they had plenty of rum given them by the captain who was born that day forty years before. I went then to the ship to drink the captain's rum and to buy tobacco. I am of Hiva-oa, and the ship was large, and new to me.”

Tetuahunahuna's gesture brought quickly to him a fresh cigarette, and he savored its rank smoke with satisfaction. The slender canoe swung like a hammock in the long, sluggish rollers. The sun blazed pitilessly upon us, and no slightest ruffle of white broke the surface of the calm, unrelenting sea that held us prisoner.

“At night there was nobody on the ship not drunk. Some of the men had seized several women on the road that leads to Tai-o-hae, and had forced them to the boat and carried them aboard. Among these women was Anna, who had fled from the nuns to seek word of her father. She fought like a wild woman of the hills when they held her in jest to make her swallow the rum, but the strong ship men conquered her, and the sound of their laughter and her cries was so great that the captain himself came forward. When he saw her he claimed her as the youngest, as is the custom.

“She went with him weeping. When they came to his cabin, we heard her crying aloud to Maria Peato. We heard the shouts of the captain, enraged, subduing her with blows. There was much rum, and the women were dancing. There was much noise, but I had drunk little, having just come to the ship, and I heard the crying and weeping of Anna.”

“After a time came Anna, running across the deck. It was a large vessel, and it was a dark night. The captain pursued her. She climbed the rigging, and the captain ordered two men to go aloft and bring her to him.

The gates of the Valley of Hanavave

A fisherman's house of bamboo and cocoanut leaves

“Every one came to look, with yells and with songs. The sailors climbed after her, and she went higher and higher, until near the top of that tall mast, taller than the greatest cocoanut-tree in Atuona. There she held to the wood, calling upon Maria Peato. The captain was like a man mad with namu. He called to the sailors to climb higher. But when one reached to take her by the foot, she threw herself into the air and fell a great distance into the water.

“The captain cried that he would give four litres of rum to the man that brought her back. Some ran to get the boat, others dived after her. I was one of these.

“I have said that it was a black night. When in the water we could get no sight of her. Then on the ship one turned a bright lantern on the sea, and all of us saw her arm as it was raised to swim. She was a hundred feet before us, and swimming with great swiftness. The sailors meantime had set out in the boat, but they had drunk much rum, and rowed around and around. We three men swimming in the beams of the lantern came closer to her at every stroke.

“Almost my hand was upon her, when the largest shark I have ever seen rose beside her. You know it is at night that these devils look for their prey. Anna saw the mako at the same moment, and made a great splashing. I heard her call out the name of Bernadette the Blessed.

“The men with me turned about, but I kept on. I cried to the boat to hurry to us. I could see the mako turn in the water, as he must do to take anything into his mouth. I kicked him and I struck him, and I cursed him by the name of Manu-Aiata, the shark god. If I had had a knife I could have killed him easily.

“But, Menike, I could do nothing. He did not want me. The boat came, but not in time. I saw the devil take her in his jaws as the wild boar takes a bird that is helpless, and I felt him descend into the depths of the sea. I could do nothing.”

A cat's-paw stole across the sea from the southeast, the boat rolled hard, and Tetuahunahuna sprang erect.

A toi te ka! Make sail!” he said.

They raised the slender mast, a rose-wood tree, roughly shaped in the forest, and fastened it to either thwart with three ropes. Through a ring at its head was passed the lift, and the sail of mats, old and worn, was set, men and women all fastening the strings to the boom. Two sheets were used, one cleated about five feet from the rudder, the other at the disposition of the steersman, who let out the boom according to the wind.

The breeze sprang up and died, and sprang up again. At last the deathly calm, the sickening heat, were over, and we sped across the freshening waves.

Mast and sail out of the way, we stretched ourselves in the boat with more comfort, enjoying the cooling current of air. Tetuahunahuna, the sheet in his hand, squatted again on his narrow perch.

“You returned to that ship when the boat picked you up?” I asked.

Aue!” he replied. “The captain was crazed with anger. He cursed me, and said that the girl has swum ashore.”

“‘No, the shark has taken Anna,’ I said. ‘She will look for her white father no more.’

“The captain had a glass of rum at his mouth, but he put it down. He would have me tell him again her name. When I did so, he shook as if with cold, and he swallowed the rum quickly.

“‘Where was she born?’ he said next.

“‘At Hapaa. Her mother is O Take Oho, whose father was eaten by the men of Tai-o-hae,’ I said, and looking at his face I saw that his eyes were the color of the mio, the rosewood when freshly cut.

“The captain went to his cabin, and soon he leaped up the stairs, falling over the thing they look at to steer the ship, and there, lying on the deck, he cried again and again that I had done wrong not to tell him earlier.

“He held in his hand the tiki, the silver box that Anna had always worn about her neck, that her father had given her.

“He was like a wild bull in the hills, that ship's captain, when he arose, roaring and cursing me. I feared that he would shoot me, for he had a revolver in his hand and said that he would kill himself. But he did not.

“A Marquesan who was as hateful to himself would have eaten the eva, but this man had not the courage, with all his cries. I swam ashore when he became maddened as a kava drinker who does not eat. The mother of Atuona, whom I told in Tai-o-hae, went to see him, but he did not know her, and she took the tiki from his cabin when she found him praying to it. He was paea, his stomach empty of thought. When the ship left, he was tied with the irons they have for sailors, and the second chief sailed the vessel.”

The Ghost Girl shook the ena-covered maiden.

Oi vii!” she said petulantly. “Take in your feet. Do you want the mako to eat them? Do you not remember your sister?”

The shark still moved a few fathoms away.

We were now in the open sea, with forty miles to go to the Bay of Traitors. The boat lay over at an angle, the boom hissed through the water when close-hauled, and when full-winged, its heel bounced and splashed on the surface, as we made our six knots. There was twice too much weight in the canoe, but these islanders think nothing of loads, and for hours the company sat to windward or on the thwart while we took advantage of every puff of wind that blew. The six oarsmen took turns in bailing, using a heavy carved wooden scoop, but in the frequent flurries the waves poured over the side.

The island of Fatu-hiva faded behind us, and raised Moho-Tani, the Isle of Barking Dogs, a small, but beautifully regular, islet, like a long emerald. No soul dwells there. The Moi-Atiu clan peopled it before a sorcerer dried up the water sources. A curse is upon it, and while the cocoanuts flourish and all is fair to the eye, it remains a shunned and haunted spot.

Tahuata, that lovely isle of the valley of Vait-hua, rose on our left, with the cape Te hope e te keko, a purple coast miles away, which as the dusk descended grew darker and was lost. The shadowy silhouettes of the mountains of Hiva-oa projected themselves on the horizon.

Night fell like a wall, and nothing was to be seen but the glow of the pipe that passed as if by spirit hands around our huddled group. The head of Ghost Girl was on my knees, and among the sons and daughters of cannibals peace enveloped me as at twilight in a grove. More in tune with the moods of nature, the rhythm of sea and sky, the breath of the salt breeze, than we who have sold our birthright for arts, these savages sat silent for a little while as if the spirit of the hour possessed their souls.

Then the stars began to take their places in heaven to do their duty toward the poor of earth, and I saw the bright and inspiring faces of many I knew. The wind shifted and freshened, the sail was drawn nearer, and our speed became perilous. The waves grew, but Tetuahunahuna, seeing nothing, but feeling with sheet and helm the temper of changing air and water, kept the canoe's prow steady, and the men, in emergencies, threw themselves half over the starboard gunwale. I was on the edge of the steersman's perch, enjoying the mist of the flying spray and watching the stars appear one by one.

Tetuahunahuna pointed toward the northern sky.

Miope! I steer by the star the color of the rosewood tree,” he said. There was our own Mars, redder than the sunsets over Mariveles. Northwest he was, this god of war and fertility, and our bow beacon. Turning and gazing toward Fatu-hiva I saw the Southern Cross, low in the sky, brilliant, and splendid.

Mataike fetu!” Ghost Girl named the constellation. “The Small Eyes.”

“Miope has rivers like Taka-Uku and Atuona,” I said, relying on the alleged canals of Mars to save my soul. “I have seen through a karahi mea tiohi i te fetu, the Mirror Thing Through Which One Looks At The Stars, long as a tree and big around as a pig. Miope has people upon it.”

“Are they Marquesans?”

“They must be Marquesans for there are islands,” I replied.

“And popoi and pigs?” demanded the ena-perfumed one.

Namu? Have they rum?” whispered the Ghost Girl, and nestled closer, remembering that soon we would be at my own house.

I had confidence in Tetuahunahuna's stars. The Polynesians have always had an excellent working knowledge of the heavens and were deeply interested in astronomy. They knew the relative positions of the stars, their changes and phases. They predicted weather changes accurately, and kept in their memories periodicity charts so that they are able to form estimates of what will be, by considering what has been. They had a wonderful art of navigation, considering that they had no compass, sextant, or other instrument, and that their vessels were always comparatively small. The handling of canoes, like swimming, is instinctive with them, and no white ever compares with them in skill.

Our boat doubled Point Teachoa, and we were in the Bay of Traitors. The wind suddenly fell flat, and we rowed several miles to the beach. A score of lights moved about on the dark waters of the bay, and fishermen shouted to us to come to them. We found Great Fern, my landlord, with Apporo, Broken Plate with the Vagabond, and they had several canoes full of fish. They were delighted at my return, and rubbed noses with me over the gunwales.

Getting ashore at the stone steps of Taka-Uka was a task worthy of such boatsmen, in the darkness, the sea beating madly against the cliffs. Tetuahunahuna listened to the smashing waves and peered for the blacker outlines of the stairway and the faint gleam of the foam. The boat approached; the sea leaped to break it against the rocks. The steersman held it a second, and in that second you had to leap. It is touch and go, and heaven help you! If you miss, you fall into the sea, or the boat crushes you against the rocks. The swell sweeps the place you land on, and you must ascend quickly to safety or find hold against the suck of the retiring water.

Tetuahunahuna ran to the nearest house for a lantern and poles, and while two remained in the boat to hold it off the rocks, the others carried my luggage to Atuona. I took the lead in a drizzling rain, carrying the light, mighty glad to stretch my legs after more than a dozen hours of cramp. Passing the house of the chief-of-police, I heard laughter and the clink of glasses. Bauda halted me with a leveled revolver, thinking we were a rum-smuggling gang. That brave African soldier was ever dramatic, and D'Artagnan could not have struck a finer attitude as he thrust the gun in my face and called out, “Halte là!”

Ah, c'est le Yahnk' Doodl'. Mais tonnerre de dieu, you have been away a long time!”




Sea sports; curious sea-foods found at low tide; the peculiarities of sea-centipedes and how to cook and eat them.

With what delight I returned to lazy days in Atuona Valley, lounging on the black paepae of my own small blue cabin in the shadow of Temiteu, idling on the sun-warm sands of the familiar beach, walking the remembered road between banana hedges heavy with yellowing fruit! The heart of man puts down roots wherever it rests; it is perhaps this sense of home that gives the zest to wandering, for new experiences gain their value from contrast with the old, and one must have felt the bondage, however light, of emotion and habit before he can know the joy of freedom from it. Still a man leaves part of himself in every home he makes, and the wanderer, free of the one strong cord that would hold him to one place, feels always the urge of a thousand slender ties pulling him back to the thousand temporary homes he has made everywhere on the world.

So the old routine closed around me pleasantly; mornings in the shade of my palms and breadfruit, eating the breakfasts prepared for me by Exploding Eggs over the fire of cocoanut husks, baths in the clear pool of the river with my neighbors, afternoons spent in the cocoanut-groves or with merry companions on the beach. Exploding Eggs directed the surf board with a sure hand, lying flat, kneeling or even standing on the long plank as he came in on the crest of the breakers. I had now and again succeeded in being carried along while flat on my stomach on the board, but failed many times oftener than I succeeded. Now I set myself in earnest to learn the art of mastering the surf.

Three or four o'clock in the afternoon was the time I usually chose for the sport, and once I had made it a practice, all the boys and girls of the village accompanied me, or waited for me at the shore, sure of hilarious hours. I must make children my companions, here, for my older friends were so oppressed by the gloom of race extinction that save for Malicious Gossip and one or two others, there was no capacity for joyousness left in them. Exploding Eggs was my chum, paid as forager and firemaker, but giving from friendliness his services as a wise and admirable teacher of the unknown to one unmade by civilization.

The bay of Atuona, narrow between high cliffs covered with cocoanut-trees, was the scene of my lessons. The tide came booming into this cove from the Bay of Traitors, often with bewildering force, and a day or two a month as gently as the waves at Waikiki. The river spread a broad mouth to drink the brine, and the white sand was over-run by the flowered vines that crept seaward to taste the salt. No house was in sight, no man-made structure to mar the primitive, as our merry crew of boys and girls sported naked in the surf, fished from the rocks, or lay upon the shining beach.

For my first essay I used the lid of a box that had enclosed an ornate coffin ordered from Tahiti by a chief who anticipated dying. It was large, and weighty to drag or push through the surf to the proper distance. Laboring valiantly with it, I reached some distance from the shore, and prepared a triumphal return. The waves were big, curving above me in sheets of clearest emerald crested with spray, breaking into foam and rising again, endlessly reshaping, repeating themselves.

Awaiting my opportunity, I chose one as it rose behind me, and flung myself upon it. Up and up and still higher I went, carried by resistless momentum, and suddenly like a chip in a hurricane I was flung forward at a fearsome speed, through rushing chaos of wind and water, seeing the beach dashing toward me, shouting with exultation.

At the next instant my trusty board turned traitor. Its prow sank, the end beneath me rose, and like a stone discharged from a sling I was thrown under the waves, head over heels, banging my head and body on the sand, leaped upon by following waves that piled me into shallow water, rolling me over and over, striking me a blow with the coffin-lid at every roll.

I lay high and dry, panting and aching, while from all the beach rose shouts of laughter. Exploding Eggs rolled on the sand in his delight, holding his gasping sides, scarcely able to remind me of the necessity, which in my excitement I had forgotten, of keeping the prow of the board pointed upward as I rode.

Often as I repeated this instruction in my mind, firmly as I determined to remember it while I toiled sea-ward again with the coffin-lid, the result was always the same. A moment of rest in the unresting waves, a quick, agile spring, a moment of mad, intoxicating joy, and then—disaster. I became a mass of bruises, the skin scraped inch by inch from my chest by contact with the rough wood. I would not give up until I had to, and then for a week I was convalescing.

One stiff ache from head to foot, I lay ignominiously on the sand, and watched Exploding Eggs, with a piece of box not bigger than a fat man's shirt-front, take wave after wave, standing on the board, dashing far across the breakers to the shore, with never a failure, while Gedge's little half-breed daughter, a beautiful fairy-like creature, darted upon the sea as a butterfly upon a zephyr.

After several weeks of effort and mishap, one day the secret came to me like a flash, and the trick was learned. I had been using the great board and was weary. I exchanged with Exploding Eggs for a plank three feet long and fourteen inches wide. Almost exhausted, I waited as usual with the butt of the board against my stomach for the incoming breaker to be just behind and above me, and then leaped forward to kick out vigorously, the board pressed against me and my hands extended along its sides, to get in time with the wave.

But the wave was upon me before I had thought to execute these instructions, I straightened myself out rigidly, and lo! I shot in like a torpedo on the very top of the billow, holding the point of the board up, yelling like a Comanche Indian. So fast, so straight did I go, that it was all I could do to swerve in the shallow water and not be hurled with force on the sand.

Metai! Me metai!” cried my friends in excited congratulation, while like all men who succeed by accident, I stood proudly, taking the plaudits as my due.

From that afternoon I had most exhilarating sport, and indeed, this is the very king of amusements for fun and exercise. Skeeing, tobogganing, skating, all land sports fade before the thrills of this; nor will anything give such abounding health and joy in living as surf-riding in sunny seas.

A hundred afternoons on Atuona Bay I spent in this exhilarating pastime. To it we added embellishments, multiplying excitements. A score of us would start at the same moment from the same line and race to shore; we would carry two on a board; we would stand and kneel and direct our course so that we could touch a marked spot on the beach or curve about and swerve and jostle each other. Exploding Eggs was the king of us all, and Teata was queen. She advanced as effortlessly as a mermaid, her superb figure shining on the shining water, tossing her long black hair, and shrieking with delight.

Occasionally we varied these sports by a much more dangerous and arduous game. We would push our boards far out in the bay, half a mile or more, diving under each wave we faced, until after tremendous effort we reached the farthest sea-ward line of breakers. Often while I swam, clinging to the board and struggling with the waves for its possession, I saw in the emerald water curling above me the shadowy shapes of large fish, carried on the crests of the combers, transfigured clearly against the sky, fins and heads and tails outlined with light.

Once in smoother water we waited for the proper moment, counting the foam-crests as they passed. Waves go in multiples of three, the third being longer and going farther than the two before it, and the ninth, or third third, being strongest of all. This ninth wave we waited for. Choosing any other meant being spilled in tumbling water when it broke far from land, and falling prey to the succeeding ones, which bruised unmercifully.

Double canoes

Harbor sports

But taking the ninth monster at its start, we rode marvelously, staying at its summit as it mounted higher and higher, shouting above the lesser rollers, until it dashed upon the smooth sand half a mile away. Exultation kept the heart in the throat, the pulses beating wildly, as the breaker tore its way over the foaming rollers, I on the roof of the swell, lying almost over its front wall, holding like death to my plank while the wind sang in my ears and sky and sea mingled in rushing blueness.

To take such a ride twice in an afternoon taxed my strength, but the Marquesan boys and girls were never wearied, and laughed at my violent breathing.

The Romans ranked swimming with letters, saying of an uneducated man, “Nec literas didicit nec natare.” He had neither learned to read nor to swim. The sea is the book of the South Sea Islanders. They swim as they walk, beginning as babies to dive and to frolic in the water. Their mothers place them on the river bank at a day old, and in a few months they are swimming in shallow water. At two and three years they play in the surf, swimming with the easy motion of a frog. They have no fear of the water to overcome, for they are accustomed to the element from birth, and it is to them as natural as land.

It should be so with all, for human locomotion in water is no more tiresome or difficult than on the earth. One element is as suitable to man as the other for transportation of himself, when habitude give natural movement, strength, and fearlessness. A Marquesan who cannot swim is unknown, and they carry objects through the water as easily as through a grove. I have seen a woman with an infant at her breast leap from a canoe and swim through a quarter of a mile of breakers to the shore, merely to save a somewhat longer walk.

One's hours at the beach were not all spent in the water. Many were the curious and delicious morsels we found on the rocks that were uncovered at low tide, stranded fish, crabs, and small crawling shell-fish. One of our favorites was the sea-urchin, called hatuke, fetuke, or matuke. Round, as big as a Bartlett pear, with greenish spines five or six inches long, they were as hideous to see as they were pleasant to eat. In the last quarter of the moon they were specially good, though what the moon has to do with their flavor neither the Marquesans nor I know. It is so; the Marquesans have always known it, and I have proved it.

The spines of these sea-urchins make slate-pencils in some of the islands, and are excellent for hastily writing on a nearby cliff a message to a friend who is following tardily. The creatures are poisonous when alive, however, and revenge a blow of careless hand or foot by wounds that are long in healing.

We found lobsters among the rocks, too, and on some beaches a strange kind of lobsterish delicacy called in Tahiti varo, a kind of mantis-shrimp that looks like a superlatively villainous centipede. They grow from six to twelve inches long and a couple of inches wide, with legs or feelers all along their sides, like the teeth of a pocket-comb. Their shells are translucent yellow with black markings; the female wears a red stripe down her back and carries red eggs beneath her. Both she and her mate, with their thousand crawling legs, their hideous heads and tails, have a most repulsive appearance. If one did not know they are excellent food and most innocent in their habits, one would flee precipitately at sight of them.

Catching the varo is a delicate and skilful art. They live in the shallows near the beach, digging their holes in the sand under two or three feet of water. When the wind ruffles the surface, it is impossible to see the holes, but on calm days we waded knee-deep in the clear water, stepping carefully and peering intently for the homes of the sea-centipede. Finding one, we cautiously lowered into the hole a spool fitted with a dozen hooks.

A pair of the creatures inhabits the same den. If the male was at home, he seized the grapnel and was quickly lifted and captured, the hooks being lowered again for the female. But if the female emerged first, it was a sure sign that her mate was absent.

I pondered as to this habit of the varo, and would have liked to persuade me that the male, being a courteous shrimp, combatted the invading hooks first in an effort to protect his mate. But the grapnel is baited with fish, and though masculine pride could wish that chivalry urged the creature to defend his domestic shrine, it appears regrettably certain that he is merely after the bait, to which he clings with such selfish obstinacy that he sacrifices his liberty and his life. However, the lady soon shows the same grasping tendency, and their deserted tenement is filled by the shifting sands.

Catching varo calls for much patience and dexterity. I never succeeded in landing one, but Teata would often skip back to the sands of the beach with a string of them. Six would make a good meal, with bread and wine, and they are most enjoyable hot, though also most dangerous.

“Begin their eating by sucking one cold,” warned Exploding Eggs when presiding over my first feast upon the twelve-inch centipedes. “If he does not grip you inwardly, you may then eat them hot and in great numbers.”

Many white men can not eat the varo. Some lose appetite at its appearance, its likeness to a gigantic thousand-leg, and others find that it rests uneasy within them, as though each claw, or tooth of the comb, viciously stabbed their interiors. I found them excellent when wrapped in leaves of the hotu-tree and fried in brown butter, and they were very good when broiled over a fire on the beach. One takes the beastie in his fingers and sucks out the meat. Beginners should keep their eyes closed during this operation.




Court day in Atuona; the case of Daughter of the Pigeon and the sewing-machine; the story of the perfidy of Drink of Beer and the death of Earth Worm who tried to kill the governor.

The Marquesan was guaranteed his day in court. There was one judge in the archipelago and one doctor, and they were the same, being united in the august person of M. L'Hermier des Plantes, who was also the pharmacist. The jolly governor, in his twenties, with medical experience in an African army post and in barracks in France, was irked by his judicial and administrative duties, though little troubled by his medical functions, since he had few drugs and knew that unless these were swallowed by the patient in his presence they would be tried upon the pigs or worn as an amulet around the neck. Faithful to his orders, however, the judge sat upon the woolsack Saturdays, unless it was raining or he wished to shoot kuku.

One Saturday morning, being invited to breakfast at the palace, I strolled down to observe the workings of justice. Court was called to order in the archives room of the governor's house. The judge sat at a large table, resplendent in army blue and gold, with cavalry boots and spurs, his whiskers shining, his demeanor grave and stern. Bauda, clerk of the court, sat at his right, and Peterano, a native catechist, stood opposite him attired in blue overalls and a necklace of small green nuts, ready to act as interpreter.

Each defendant, plaintiff, prisoner, and witness was sworn impressively, though no Bible was used; which reminded me that in Hongkong I saw a defendant refuse to handle a Bible in court, and when the irate English judge demanded his reasons, calmly replied that the witness who had just laid down the book had the plague, and it was so proved.

The first case was that of a Chinese, member of the Shan-Shan syndicate which owned a store in Atuona. He was charged with shooting kukus without a license. There were not many of these small green doves left in the islands, and the governor, whose favorite sport and delicacy they were, was righteously angered at the Chinaman's infraction of the law. He fined the culprit twenty dollars, and confiscated to the realm the murderous rifle which had aided the crime.

The Shan-Shan man was stunned, and expostulated so long that he was led out by Flag, the gendarme, after being informed that he might appeal to Tahiti. He was forcibly put off the veranda, struggling to explain that he had not shot the gun, but had merely carried it as a reserve weapon in case he should meet a Chinese with whom he had a feud.

A sailor of the schooner Roberta, who had stolen a case of absinthe from Captain Capriata's storeroom aboard and destroyed the peace of a valley to which he took it as a present to a feminine friend, was fined five dollars and sentenced to four months' work on the roads.

The criminal docket done, civil cases were called. The barefooted bailiff, Flag, stole out on the veranda occasionally to take a cigarette from the inhabitants of the valley of Taaoa, who crowded the lawn around the veranda steps. All save Kahuiti, they had come over the mountains to attend in a body a trial in which two of them figured—the case of Santos vs. Tahiaupehe (Daughter of the Pigeon).

Santos was a small man, born in Guam, and had been ten years in Taaoa, having deserted from a ship. He and I talked on the veranda in Spanish, and he explained the desperate plight into which love had dragged him. He adored Tahaiupehe, the belle of Taaoa. For months he had poured at her feet all his earnings, and faithfully he had labored at copra-making to gain money for her. He had lavished upon her all his material wealth and the fierce passion of his Malay heart, only to find her disdainful, untrue, and, at last, a runaway. While he was in the forest, he said, climbing cocoanut-trees to provide her with luxuries, she had fled his hut, carrying with her a certain “Singaire” and a trunk. He was in court to regain this property.

Ben Santos me Tahaiupehe mave! A mai i nei!” cried Flag, pompously. The pair entered the court, but all others were excluded except me. As a distinguished visitor, waiting to breakfast with the judge and the clerk, I had a seat.

The Daughter of the Pigeon, comely and voluptuous, wore an expression of brazen bitterness such as I have seen on the faces of few women. A procuress in Whitechapel and a woman in America who had poisoned half a dozen of her kin had that same look; sneering, desperate, contemptuous, altogether evil. I wondered what experiences had written those lines on the handsome face of Daughter of the Pigeon.

Ben Santos was sworn. Through the interpreter he told his sad tale of devotion and desertion and asked for his property. The Singaire had been bought of the German store. He had bought it that Daughter of the Pigeon might mend his garments, since she had refused to do so without it. He had not given it to her at all, but allowed her the use of it in consideration of “love and affection” he swore.

Daughter of the Pigeon glared at the unhappy little man with an intensity of hatred that alarmed me for his life. She took the stand, malevolently handsome in finery of pink tunic, gold ear-rings, and necklace of red peppers, barefooted, bare-armed, barbaric. She spat out her words.

“This man made love to me and lived with me. He gave me the sewing-machine and the trunk. He is a runt and a pig, and I am tired of him. I left his hut and went to the house of my father. I took my Singaire and my trunk.”

“Ben Santos,” inquired the judge, with a critical glance at Daughter of the Pigeon, “What return did you make to this woman for keeping your house?”

“I provided her food and her dresses,” stammered the little man.

“Food hangs from trees, and dresses are a few yards of stuff,” said the surgical Solomon. “The fair ones of the Marquesas do not give themselves to men of your plainness for popoi and muslin robes. You are a foreigner. You expect too much. The preponderance of probability, added to the weight of testimony, causes the court to believe that this woman is the real owner of the sewing-machine and the trunk. It is so adjudged.”

La mujer es una diabola, pero me gusto mucho,” said Santos to me, and sighed deeply. “The woman is a devil, but I like her very much.”

Tahaiupehe, Daughter of the Pigeon, of Taaoa

Nataro Puelleray and wife
He is the most learned Marquesan and the only one who knows the language and legends thoroughly

The unfortunate Malay got upon his horse and, his soul deep in the swamp of jealousy, departed to resume his copra-making.

Court adjourned. The judge, the clerk, and the interpreter, Daughter of the Pigeon, and I toasted the blind goddess in rum, the sun being very hot on the iron roof. Bauda and I stayed to breakfast at eleven o'clock, and the governor permitted me to look through the dossier of Daughter of the Pigeon. This record is kept of all Marquesans or others resident in the islands; each governor adds his facts and prejudices and each newcoming official finds the history and reputation of each of his charges set down for his perusal. In this record of Daughter of the Pigeon I found the reason for the malevolent character depicted by her face.

The men of the hills have a terrible custom of capturing any woman of another valley who goes alone in their district. Grelet's first companion was caught one night by forty, who for punishment built the ten kilometres of road between Haniapa and Atuona. Many Daughters, the beautiful little leper, when thirteen years old was a victim of seventeen men, some of whom were imprisoned. Daughter of the Pigeon had had a fearful experience of this kind. It had seared her soul, and Santos was paying for his sex.

In feud times this custom was a form of retaliation, as the slaying of men and eating them. It has survived as a sport. Lest horror should spend itself upon these natives of the islands, I mention that in every state in our union similar records blacken our history. War's pages from the first glimmerings to the last foul moment reek with this deviltry. British and French at Badajoz and Tarragona, in Spain, left fearful memories. Occident and Orient alike are guilty. This crime smutches the chronicle of every invasion. It is part of the degradation of slums in all our cities, a sport of hoodlum gangs everywhere. In the Marquesas it is a recognized, though forbidden, game, and has its retaliatory side. Time was when troops of women have revenged it in strange, savage ways.

This unsubmissive and aggressive attitude of Marquesan women was brought home to me this very afternoon after the trial, when Daughter of the Pigeon came galloping up to my cabin. She reined in her horse like a cowboy who had lassoed a steer and, throwing the bridle over the branch of an orange-tree, tripped into my living-room, where I was writing.

Without a word she put her arms around me, and in a moment I was enacting the part of Joseph when he fled from Potiphar's wife. With some muscular exertion I got her out of the house at the cost of my shirt. Puafaufe (Drink of Beer), a chief of Taaoa, appeared at this moment, while I was still struggling with her upon my paepae.

Makimaki okioki i te! An ungovernable creature!” he commented, shaking his head, and looking on with interest as she again attacked me vigorously, to the danger of my remaining shreds of garments. Chivalry is not a primitive emotion, but it dies hard in the civilized brain, and I was attempting the impossible. Fending her off as best I could, I conjured the chief by the red stripe on the sleeve of his white jacket, his badge of office, to rescue me, for Madame Bapp was now on her paepae, craning her fat neck, and I had no mind to be laughed at by my own tint.

The chief, however, maintained the impartial attitude of the bystander at a street fight. Smothered in the embraces of Daughter of the Pigeon, covered with embarrassment, I struggled and cursed, and had desperately decided to fling her bodily over the eight-foot wall of the paepae into the jungle, when another arrival dashed up the trail. This was the brother of Daughter of the Pigeon.

It was evident that my cabin had been appointed as a rendezvous, though I had no acquaintance with any of my three visitors. A suspicion was born in my dull brain. To make it surety, I grasped my feminine wooer by wrists and throat and thrust her into the arms of the chief with a stern injunction to hold her. Then, without hint of my intention, I hastened into the house and brought forth the demijohn and cocoanut-shells.

The amorous fury of Daughter of the Pigeon melted into gratitude, and after two drinks apiece the company galloped away, leaving me to repair tattered garments and thank my stars for my supply of namu.

But the end of court-day was not yet. I had barely fallen into my first slumber that night when I was awakened by the disconsolate Shan-Shan man, who came humbly to present me with a half-pound doughnut of his own making, and to beg my intercession with the governor for the return of his gun. He reiterated tearfully that he had not meant to shoot kukus with it, that he had not done so, that he desired it only in order to be able to take a pot-shot at the offending countryman in the village. He urged desperately that the other Chinese still possessed a gun well oiled and loaded. He asserted even with tears that he had all respect and admiration for the white man's law. But he wanted his gun, and he wanted it quickly.

I calmed him with the twice-convenient namu, and after promising to explain the situation to the governor, I sat for some time on my paepae in the moonlight, talking with the unhappy convict. Without prompting he divulged to me that my suspicions had been correct; Drink of Beer had himself instigated the raid of the bold Daughter of the Pigeon upon my rum. Drink of Beer, it appeared, was known in the islands for many feats of successful duplicity. One had nearly cost the life of Jean Richard, a young Frenchman who worked for the German trader in Taka-Uka.

“Earth Worm was a man of Taaoa,” said my guest, sitting cross-legged on my mats, his long-nailed, yellow fingers folded in his lap. “He was nephew of Pohue-toa, eater of many men. Earth Worm was arrested by Drink of Beer and brought before the former governor, Lailheugue, known as Little Pig.

“Drink of Beer said that Earth Worm had made namu enata, the juice of the flower of the palm that makes men mad. Earth Worm swore that he had done no wrong. He swore that Drink of Beer had allowed him, for a price, to make the namu enata, and that Drink of Beer had said this was according to the law. But when he failed to pay again, Drink of Beer had arrested him.

“Drink of Beer said this not true. He wore the red stripe on his sleeve; therefore the governor Little Pig said that Earth Worm lied, and sent him to prison for a year.

“Now Earth Worm was an informed man, a son of many chiefs, and himself resolved in his ways. He said that he would speak before the courts of Tahiti, and he would not go in shame to the prison. At this time that governor was finished with his work here and was departing on a ship to Tahiti, and Earth Worm with hate in his heart, embarked on that ship, saying nothing, but thinking much.

“He lived forward with the crew, and said nothing, but thought. Others spoke to him, saying that he would not profit by the journey to Tahiti where the word of the governor was powerful, but he did not reply. The men of the crew wished Earth Worm to kill the governor, for every Marquesan hated him, and he had done a terrible thing for which he deserved death.

“There had been an aged gendarme who fell ill because of a curse laid on him by a tahuna. He was dying. This governor took from his box in the house of medicines a sharp small knife, and with it he cut the veins of a Marquesan who had done some small wrong against the law and lay in jail. He bound this man by the arm to the gendarme who was dying, and through the cut the blood ran into the gendarme's veins. His heart sucked the blood from the body of the Marquesan like a vampire bat of the forest, and he lay bound, feeling the blood go from him. The village knew that this was being done, and could do nothing but hate and fear, for it was the governor who had done it.

“The gendarme died, and you may yet see on the beach sometimes that man who was a strong and brave Marquesan. He trembles now like hotu leaves in the wind, for he never forgets the terrible magic done upon him by that governor. He remembers the hours when he lay bound to that man who was dying, and the dying man sucked his blood from him.

“Now this governor was on the ship going away, and he had not been killed. This made all Marquesans sad, and those in the crew talked to Earth Worm, who had also been wronged, and urged him to rise and strike. But he said nothing.

“The ship came to the Paumotas, and the governor sat all day long on a stool on the deck, watching the islands as they passed. Earth Worm sat in his place, watching the governor. One night at dark he rose, and taking an iron rod laid beside him by one of the crew he crept along the deck and stood behind the man on the stool. He raised the iron rod and brought it down with fury upon the head of that man, who fell covered with blood. Then he leaped into the sea.

“But the governor had gone below, and it was Jean Richard who sat on the stool in the darkness. He was found bleeding upon the deck, and the bones of his head were cut and lifted and patched, so that to-day he lives, as well as ever. Earth Worm was never found. A boat with a lantern was lowered, but it found nothing but the fins of sharks.

“That was the work of Drink of Beer, who had hated Earth Worm because he was a brave and strong man of Taaoa. When this was told to Drink of Beer, he smiled and said, ‘Earth Worm is safer where he is.’

“I have talked too much. Your rum is very good. I thank you for your kindness. You will not forget to deign to speak to the governor concerning the matter of the gun?”

I promised that I would not forget, and after a prolonged leavetaking the Shan-Shan man slipped silently down the trail and vanished in the moon-lit forest.




The madman Great Moth of the Night; story of the famine and the one family that ate pig.

Le Brunnec, the trader, was opening a roll of Tahiti tobacco five feet long, five inches in diameter at the center, and tapering toward the ends. It was bound, as is all Tahiti tobacco, in a purau rope, which had to be unwound and which weighed two pounds. The eleven pounds of tobacco were hard as wood, the leaves cemented by moisture. Le Brunnec hacked it with an axe into suitable portions to sell for three francs a pound, the profit on which is a franc.

The immediate customer was Tavatini (Many Pieces of Tattooing), a rich man of Taaoa, in his fifties. His face was grilled with ama ink. One streak of the natural skin alone remained. Beside him on the counter sat a commanding-looking man, whose eyes, shining from a blue background of tattooing, were signals to make one step aside did one meet him on the trail. They had madness in them, but they were a revelation of wickedness.

Some men, without a word or gesture, make you think intently. There is that in their appearance which starts a train of ideas, of wonder, of guesses at their past, of horror at what is written upon their faces. This man's visage was seamed and wrinkled in a network of lines that said more plainly than words that he was a monster whose villainies would chill imagination. The brain was a spoiled machine, but it had been all for evil.

“That man,” said Le Brunnec, “is the worst devil in the Marquesas.” Between blows of the axe, the trader told me something of his history:

The madman was Mohuho, whose name means Great Moth of the Night. He is the chief whom Lying Bill saw shoot three men in Tahuata for sheer wantonness. He was then chief of Tahuata, and the power in that island, in Hiva-oa and Fatu-hiva. He slew every one who opposed him. He was the scourge of the islands. He harried valley after valley for lust of blood and the terrible pride of the destroyer. It was his boast that he had killed sixty people by his own hand, otherwise than in battle.

He was a man of ceaseless energy, a builder of roads, of houses, and canoes. At Hapatone he had constructed several miles of excellent road with the enforced labor of every man in the valley for a year. It is all lined with temanu trees, is almost solid stone, and endures. Its blocks are cemented with blood, for Great Moth of the Night drove men to the work with bullets.

His arsenal was stocked by the French, whose ally he was, and to whom he was very useful in furnishing men for work and in upholding French supremacy. In Hapatone he was virtually a king, and the fear of him extended throughout the southern Marquesas.

One day he came as a guest to a feast in Taaoa. There was a blind man, a poor, harmless fellow, who was eating the pig and popoi and saying nothing. Great Night Moth had a new gun, which he laid beside him while he drank plentifully of the namu enata, until he became quite drunk.

At last the blind man, scared by his threats, started to walk away in the slow, halting way of the sightless, and attracted Great Night Moth's attention. He picked up his new gun and while all were petrified with fear of being the target, he shot the blind man so that his body fell into the oven in which the pig had been baked. The people could only laugh loudly, if not heartily, as if pleased by the joke.

In Hana-teio a man in a cocoanut-tree gathering nuts was ordered to come down by Great Night Moth who was passing on a boar hunt. The man became confused. His limbs did not cling to the tree as usual. He was fearful and could make no motion.

Poponohoo! Ve mai! A haa tata! Come down quickly!” yelled the chief.

The poor wretch could not obey. He saw the gun and knew the chief. Great Night Moth brought him down a corpse.

There was no punishment for him. The French held him accountable only for deeds against their sovereignty. A superstition that he was protected by the gods, combined with his strength and desperate courage, made him immune from vengeance by the islanders.

These were incidents Le Brunnec knew from witnesses, but it was Many Pieces of Tattooing who told the ancestry of Great Night Moth.

“Pohue-toa (Male Package) uncle of Earth Worm, was prince of Taaoa and father of this man,” said Many Pieces. “He was one of the biggest men of these islands, and the strongest in Taaoa. He lived for a while in Hana-menu.

“There was no war then between the valley of Atuona and that of Hana-menu; the people of both crossed the mountains and visited one another. But it was discovered in Atuona that a number of the people were missing. Some had gone to Hana-menu and never reached there, others had disappeared on their way home. The chief of Atuona sent a messenger who was tapu in all valleys, to count the people of this valley who were in Hana-menu and to warn them to return in a band, armed with spears. Meanwhile the priest went to the High Place and spoke to the gods, and after two days and nights he returned and said that the danger was at the pass between the valleys; that a demon had seized the people there.

“The demon was Male Package. You know the precipice there is near the sky, and at the very height is a puta faiti, a narrow place. There Male Package lay in wait, armed with his spear and club, and hidden in the grass. He was hungry for meat, for Long Pig, and when he saw some one he fancied, he threw his spear or struck them down with the u'u. He took the corpse on his back and carried it to his hut in the upper valley of Hana-menu as I would carry a sack of copra. There he ate what he would, alone.

“Oh, there were those who knew, but they were afraid to tell. After it became known to the people of Atuona, to the kin of those who had been eaten, they did nothing. Male Package was like Great Night Moth later—a man whom the gods fought for.”

Great Night Moth sat smoking, listening to what was said in the listless way that lunatics listen, unable to focus his attention, but gathering in his addled brain that he was being discussed. I watched him as one does a caged tiger, guessing at the beast's thoughts and thankful that it can prey no more.

Many Pieces of Tattooing had no tone of horror or regret in his voice while he recounted the bloody deeds of Mohuho and Pohue-toa, but smiled, as if he would say that they had occurred under a different dispensation and were not blameful.

“Was Great Night Moth the real son of Male Package?” I asked.

“Ah, that is to be told,” said Many Pieces. “He was his son, yes. Shall I tell you the tale of how he escaped death at the hands of his father? Ea! I remember the time well. Menike, you have seen the rivers big and the cocoanut-trees felled by the flood, but you have not seen the ave one, the time of no food, when the ground is as dry as the center of a dead tree, and hunger is in the valleys like the ghost-women that move as mist. There have been many such periods for the island peoples.

“That two years it did not rain. The breadfruit would not yield. The grass and plants died. There were no nuts on the palms. The pigs had no food, and fell in the forest. The banana-trees withered. The people ate the popoi from the deepest pits, and day and night they fished. Soon the pits were empty and the people ate roots, bark, anything. There were fish, but it is hard to live on fish alone.

“Some lay in their canoes and ate the eva and died. The stomachs of some became empty of thought, and they threw themselves into the sea. The father of Great Night Moth sent all his children to the hills. There is always more rain there, and there was some food to be found. His wife he kept at the fishing, day and night, till she slept at the paddle, and he himself went to the high plateaus to hunt for pig.

“For many days he came down weak, having found none. But at last she came to find baked meat ready for her, and she wept and ate and thanked him. He had found a certain green spot, he said, where there were more.

“Many times he brought the meat to her, and she said that the children should come back to share the food, but he said, ‘No. Eat! They have plenty.’

“She came from the fishing one day with empty baskets. The sea had been rough, and there were no fish. Her husband had become a surly man, and cruel; he beat her. She said, ‘Is there no pig?’

“‘Pig, you fool!’ said her husband. ‘You have eaten no pig. You have eaten your children. They are all dead.’

“Great Night Moth had escaped because he had been adopted by the chief of Taaoa, while his father was hunting the children in the forest.”

“That is horrible, horrible!” said Le Brunnec. “Maybe this Great Night Moth could not but be bad with such a father. All these chiefs, the hereditary ones, are rotten. Their children are often insane. They have degenerated. After the whalers came and gave them whiskey, and the traders absinthe and drugs, they learned the vices of the white man, which are worse for them than for us.”

“Do you think the eating of men began by the ave one, the famine?” I put the question to Many Pieces of Tattooing, who was about to leave the store with Great Night Moth.

Ae, tiatohu! It is so,” he answered. “Our legends say that often in the many centuries we have remembered there have been years when food failed. It was in those times that they began to eat one another, and when food was plenty, they continued for revenge. They learned to like it. Human meat is good.”

“Ask the gentleman if he has himself enjoyed such feasts,” I urged Le Brunnec.

“I will not!” said the Frenchman, hastily. “Tavatini is a good customer. He has money on deposit with me. He eats biscuits and beef. He might be offended and buy of the Germans.”

Many Pieces of Tattooing nudged Great Night Moth, and they advanced to their horses, which were tied to the store building. The madman mounted with the ease of a cowboy, and they rode off at speed.




A visit to the hermit of Taha-Uka valley; the vengeance that made the Scallamera lepers; and the hatred of Mohuto.

Le Verogose, a Breton planter who lived in Taka-Uka Valley, was full of camaraderie, esteeming friendship a genuine tie, and given to many friendly impulses. He had a two-room cabin set high on the slope of the river bank, unadorned, but clean, and though his busy, hardworking days gave him little time for social intercourse, he occasionally invited me there to dinner with him and his wife.

One Sunday he dined me handsomely on eels stewed in white wine, tame duck, and codfish balls, and after the dance, in which his wife, Ghost Girl, Malicious Gossip, Water, and the host joined, we sat for some time singing “Malbrouck se va t'en guerre,” “La Carmagnole,” and other songs of France. Stirred by the memories of home, these melodies awakened, Le Vergose remembered a countryman who lived nearby.

“There is a hermit who lives a thousand feet up the valley,” said he. “We might take him half a litre of rum. He is a Breton of Brest who has been here many years. He eats nothing but bananas, for he lives in a banana grove, and he is able only to totter to the river for water. He never moves from his little hut except to pick a few bananas. He lives alone. Hardly any one sees him from year to year. I think he would be glad to have a visitor.”

A wet and slippery trail through the forest along the river bank led toward the hermit's grove. Toiling up it, sliding and clutching the boughs that overhung and almost obliterated it, we passed a small native house of straw, almost hidden by the trees, and were hailed by the voice of a woman.

I hea? Where do you go?” The words were sharp, with a tone almost of anxiety, of fear.

“We go to see Hemeury Francois,” replied Le Vergose.

The woman who had spoken came half-way down the worn and dirty steps of her paepae. She was old, but with an age more of bitter and devastating emotion than of years. Her haggard face, drawn and seamed with cruel lines, showed still the traces of a beauty that had been hard and handsome rather than lovely. She said nothing more, but stood watching our progress, her tall figure absolutely motionless in its dark tunic, her eyes curiously intent upon us. I felt relief when the thick curtains of leaves shut us from her view.

“That is Mohuto,” said Le Vergose. “She is a solitary, too. All her people have died, and she has become hard and bitter. That is a strange thing, for an islander. But she was beautiful once. Perhaps she broods upon that.”

We entered the banana-grove, an acre or two of huge plants, thirty feet high, so close together that the sun could not touch the soil. The earth was dank and dark, almost a swamp, and the trees were like yellowish-green ghosts in the gloom. Their great soft leaves shut out the sky, and from their limp edges there was a ceaseless drip of moisture. A horde of mosquitos, black and small, emerged from the shadows, thousands upon thousands, and smote us upon every exposed part. In a few minutes our faces were smeared with blood from their killing. Curses in Breton, in Marquesan, and American rent the stillness.

In this dismal, noisome spot was a wretched hut built of purau saplings, as crude a dwelling as the shelter a trapper builds for a few days' habitation. It was ten feet long and four wide, shaky and rotten. Inside it was like the lair of a wild beast, a bed of moldy leaves. A line stretched just below the thatched roof held a few discolored newspapers.

On the heap of leaves sat the remnant of a man, a crooked skeleton in dirty rags, his face a parchment of wrinkles framed by a mass of whitening hair. He looked ages old, his eyes small holes, red rimmed, his hands, in which he held a shaking piece of paper, foul claws. His flesh, through his rags, was the deadly white of the morgue. He looked a Thing no soul should animate.

“Ah! Hemeury Francois,” said Le Vergose in the Breton dialect that recalled their childhood home, “I have brought an American to see you. You can talk your English to him.”

“By damn, yes,” croaked the hermit, in the voice of a raven loosed from a deserted house. But he made no movement until Le Vergose held before his bone-like nose a pint of strong Tahiti rum. Far back in his eyes, away beyond the visible organs, there came a gleam of greater consciousness, a realization of life around him. His mouth, like a rent in an old, battered purse, gaped, and though no teeth were there, the vacuity seemed to smile feebly.

He felt about the litter of paper and leaves and found a dirty cocoanut-shell and a calabash of water. Shaking and gasping, he poured the bottle of rum into the shell, mixed water with it and lifted the precious elixir tremblingly to his lips. He made two choking swallows, and dropped the shell—empty.

His eyes, that had been lost in their raw sockets, scanned me. Then in mixed French and English he began to talk of himself. From his rags he produced a rude diary blocked off on scraps of paper, a minute record of the river and the weather, covering many years.

“Torrent, torrent, torrent.” That word was repeated many tunes. Hause appeared often, signifying that the brook had risen. Every day he had noted its state. The river had become his god. Alone among those shadowing, dripping banana-plants, with no human companionship, he had made his study of the moods of the stream a worship. Pages and pages were inscribed with lines upon its state.

“Bacchus,” I saw repeated on the dates July 13, 14, 15.

“Another god on the altar then?” I asked. “Mais, oui,” he answered in his rusty voice. “The Fall of the Bastile. Le Vergose sent me a bottle of rum to honor the Republic.”

What he had just drunk was seething in him. Little by little he commanded that long disused throat, he recalled from the depths of his uncertain mind words and phrases. In short, jerky sentences, mostly French, he spun his tale.

“Brest is my home, in Finnistere. I have been many years in these seas. I forget how many. How many years—? Sacré! I was on the Mongol. She was two thousand tons, clipper, and with skysails. The captain was Freeman. We brought coals from Boston to San Francisco. That was long ago. I was young. I was young and handsome. And strong. Yes, I was strong and young.

“That was it—the Mongol. A clipper-ship from Boston, two thousand tons, and with skysails. Around the Horn it almost blew the sticks out of that Mongol. We froze; we worked day and night. It was terrible. The seas almost drowned us. Ah, how we cursed! Tonnerre de dieu! Had we known it we were in Paradise. The inferno—we were coming to the inferno.”

It took him long to tell it. He wanted to talk, but weakness overcame him often, and the words were almost hushed by his breath that came short and wheezing.

“One day we opened the hatches to get coal for the galley. The smell of gas arose. The coal was making gas. No fire. Just gas. If there was fire we never knew it. We felt no heat. We could find no fire. But every day the gas got worse.

“It filled the ship. The watch below could not sleep because of it. If we went aloft, still we smelled it. The food tasted of gas. Our lungs were pressed down by it. Day after day we sailed, and the gas sailed with us.

“The bo'sn fell in a fit. A man on the t'gallant yard fell to the deck and was killed. Three did not awake one morning. We threw their bodies over the side. The mate spat blood and called on God as he leaped into the sea. The smell of the gas never left us.

“The captain called us by the poop-rail, and said we must abandon the ship any time.

“We were twenty men all told. We had four whale-boats and a yawl. Plenty for all of us. We provisioned and watered the boats. But we stayed by the Mongol. We were far from any port and we dared not go adrift in open boats.

“Then came a calm. The gas could not lift. It settled down on us. It lay on us like a weight. It never left us for a moment. Men lay in the scuppers and vomited. Food went untouched. No man could walk without staggering. At last we took to the boats. Two thousand miles from the Marquesas. We lit a fuse, and pushed off. Half a mile away the Mongol blew up.

“We suffered. Mon dieu, how we suffered in those boats! But the gas was gone. We struck Vait-hua on the island of Tahuata. It was heaven. Rivers and trees and women. Women! Sacré! How I loved them!

“I came to Taha-Uka with Mathieu Scallamera. We worked for Captain Hart in the cotton, driving the Chinese and natives. Bill Pincher was a boy, and he worked there, too. In the moonlight on the beach there were dances. The women danced naked on the beaches in the moonlight. And there was rum. Mohuto danced. Ah, she was beautiful, beautiful! She was a devil.

“Scallamera and I built a house, and put on the door a lock of wood. It was a big lock, but it had no key. The natives stole everything. We could keep nothing. Scallamera was angry. One day he hid in the house while I went to work. When a hand was thrust through the opening to undo the lock, Scallamera took his brush knife and cut it off. He threw it through the hole and said, ‘That will steal no more.’”

The hermit laughed, a laugh like the snarl of a toothless old tiger.

“That was a joke. Scallamera laughed. By gar! But that without a hand lived long. He gave back all that he had taken. He smiled at Scallamera, and laughed, too. He worked without pay for Scallamera. He became a friend to the man who had cut off his hand. A year went by and two years and three and that man gave Scallamera a piece of land by Vai-ae. He helped Scallamera to build a house upon it.

“Land from hell it was, land cursed seven times. Did not Scallamera become a leper and die of it horribly? And all his twelve children by that Henriette? It was the ground. It had been leprous since the Chinese came. Oh, it was a fine return for the cut-off hand!”

Gasping and choking, the ghastly creature paused for breath, and in the shuddering silence the banana-leaves ceaselessly dripped, and the hum of innumerable mosquito-wings was sharp and thin.

“I did not become a leper. I was young and strong. I was never sick. I worked all day, and at night I was with the women. Ah, the beautiful, beautiful women! With souls of fiends from hell. Mohuto is not dead yet. She lives too long. She lives and sits on the path below, and watches. She should be killed, but I have no strength.

“I was young and strong, and loved too many women. How could I know the devil behind her eyes when she came wooing me again? I had left her. She was with child, and ugly. I loved beautiful women. But she was beautiful again when the child was dead. I was with another. What was her name? I have forgotten her name. Is there no more rum? I remember when I have rum.

“So I went again to Mohuto. The devil from hell! There was poison in her embraces. Why does she not die? She knew too much. She was too wise. It was I who died. No, I did not die. I became old before my time, but I am living yet. The Catholic mission gave me this land. I planted bananas. I have never been away. How long ago? Je ne sais pas. Twenty years? Forty? I do not see any one. But I know that Mohuto sits on the path below and waits. I will live long yet.”

He was like a two-days' old corpse. He rose to his feet, staggered, and lay down on the heap of soggy leaves. The mosquitos circled in swarms above him. They were devouring us, but the hermit they never lighted on. Le Vergose and I fled from the hut and the grove.

“He is an example like those in Balzac or the religious books,” said the Breton, crossing himself. “I have been here many years, and never before did I come here, and again. Jamais de la vie! I must begin to go to church again.”

We said nothing more as we slid and slipped downward on the wet trail, but when we came again to the straw hut hidden in the trees Mohuto was still on the paepae, watching us, and I paused to speak to her.

“You knew Hemeury Francois when he was young?”

She put her hand over her eyes, and spat.

“He was my first lover. I had a child by him. He was handsome once.” Her eyes, full of malevolence, turned to the dark grove. “He dies very slowly.”

The memory of her face was with me when at midnight I went alone to my valley. On my pillows I heard again the cracked voice of the hermit, and saw the blue-white skin upon his shaking bones. He could not believe in Po, the Marquesan god of Darkness, or in the Veinehae, the Ghost-Woman who watches the dying; nor did I believe in them or in Satan, but about me in my Golden Bed until midnight was long past the spirits that hate the light moaned and creaked the hut.




Last days in Atuona; My Darling Hope's letter from her son.

Exploding Eggs was building my fire of cocoanut-husks as usual in the morning to cook my coffee and eggs, when a whistle split the sultry air. Far from the bay it came, shrill and demanding; my call to civilization.

Long expected, the first liner was in the Isles of the Cannibals. France had begun to make good her promise to expand her trade in Oceania, and the isolation of the dying Marquesans and empty valleys was ended. The steamship Saint François, from Bordeaux by way of Tahiti, had come to visit this group and pick up cargo for Papeite and French ports.

Strange was the sight of her in Taha-Uka Bay where never her like had been, but stranger still, two aboard her, the only two not French, were known to me. Here thousands of miles from where I had seen them, unconnected in any way with each other, were a pair of human beings I had known, one in China, and the other in the United States, both American citizens, and sent by fate to replace me as objects of interest to the natives.

They came up from the beach together, one a small black man, the other tall and golden brown, led by Malicious Gossip to see the American who lived in these far-away islands. The black lingered to talk at a distance, but the golden-brown one advanced.

His figure was the bulky one of the trained athlete, stocky and tremendously powerful, his hide that of an extreme blond burned by months of a tropic sun upon salt water. His hair was an aureole, yellow as a sunflower, a bush of it on a bullet-head. And, incredible almost—as if made of putty by a joker—his nose stuck out like the first joint of a thumb, the oddest nose ever on a man. His little eyes were blue and bright. Barefooted, bare-headed, in the sleeveless shirt and short trousers of a life-guard, with an embroidered V on the front of the upper garment, he was radiantly healthy and happy, a civilized being returned to nature's ways.

Though he did not recognize me, I knew him instantly for a trainer and beach-patrol of Southern California, a diver for planted shells at Catalina Island, whom I had first seen plunging from the rafters of a swimming-tank, and I remembered that he had flattened his nose by striking the bottom, and that a skilful surgeon had saved him its remnant.

He had with him a bundle in a towel, and setting it down on my paepae, introduced himself nonchalantly as Broken Bronck, “Late manager of the stable of native fighters of the Count de M—— of the island of Tahaa, near Tahiti.”

“I'm here to stay,” he said carelessly. “I have a few francs, and I hear they're pretty hospitable in the Markeesies. I came on the deck of the Saint François, and I've brung my things ashore.”

He undid the towel, and there rolled out another bathing-suit and a set of boxing gloves. These were his sole possessions, he said.

“I hear they're nutty on prizefighting like in Tahiti, and I'll teach 'em boxing,” he explained.

The Marquesan ladies who speedily assembled could not take their eyes from him. They asked me a score of questions about him, and were not surprised that I knew him, or even that I called the negro by name when he sauntered up. We must all be from the same valley, or at least from the same island, they thought, for were we not all Americans?

I kept Broken Bronck to luncheon, and gave him what few household furnishings I had not promised to Exploding Eggs or to Apporo, who with the promise of the Golden Bed about to be realized—for I announced my going—camped upon it, hardly believing that at last she was to own the coveted marvel. Some keepsakes I gave to Malicious Gossip, Mouth of God, Many Daughters, Water, Titihuti, and others, and drank a last shell of namu with these friends.

News of my packing reached far and wide. I had not estimated so optimistically the esteem in which they held me, these companions of many months, but they trooped from the farthest hills to say farewell. Good-byes even to the sons and daughters of cannibals are sorrowful. I had come to think much of these simple, savage neighbors. Some of them I shall never forget.

Mauitetai, a middle-aged woman with a kindly face, was long on my paepae. Her name would be in English My Darling Hope, and it well fitted her mood, for she was all aglow with wonder and joy at receiving a letter from her son, who three years before had gone upon a ship and disappeared from her ken. The letter had come upon the Saint François, and it brought My Darling Hope into intimate relations with me, for I uncovered to her that her wandering boy had become a resident of my own country, and revealed some of the mysteries of our polity.

The letter was in Marquesan, which I translate into English, seeking to keep the flavor of the original, though poorly succeeding:

“I write to you, me, Pahorai Calizte, and put on this paper greetings to you, my mother, Mauitetai, who are in Atuona.

Kaoha nui tuu kui, Mauitetai, mother of me. Great love to you.

“I have found in Philadelphia work for me; good work.

“I have found a woman for me. She is Jeanette, an artist, a maker of tattooings on cloth. I am very happy. I have found a house to live in. I am happy I have this woman. She is rich. I am poor. It is for that I write to you, to make it known to you that she is rich, and I am poor. By this paper you will know that I have pledged my word to this woman. I found her and I won her by my work and by my strength and my endeavor.

“She is moi kanahau; as beautiful as the flowers of the hutu in my own beloved valley of Atuona. She is not of America. She is of Chile. She has paid many piasters for the coming here. She has paid forty piasters. She has been at home in Las Palmas, in the islands of small golden birds.

“I will write you more in this paper. I seek your permission to marry Jeanette. She asks it, as I do. Send me your word by the government that carries words on paper.

“It is three years since I have known of you. That is long.

“Give me that word I ask for this woman. I cannot go to marry in Atuona. That is what my heart wants, but it is far and the money is great. The woman would pay and would come with me. I say no. I am proud. I have shame. I am a Marquesan.

“I live with that woman now. I am not married. It is forbidden. The American mutoi (policeman) may take hold of me. Five months I am with this woman of mine. The mutoi has a war-club that is hard as stone.

“Give me quickly the paper to marry her. I await your word.

“My word is done. I am at Philadelphia, New York Hotel. A.P.A. Dieu. Coot pae, mama.”

Mauitetai had read the letter many times. It was wonderful to hear from her son after three years and pleasant to know he had found a woman. She must be a haoe, a white woman. Were the women of that island, Chile, white?

I said that they ran the color scale, from blond to brown, from European to Indian, but that this Jeanette who was a tattooer, a maker of pictures on canvas, no doubt an artist of merit, must be pale as a moonbeam. Those red peppers that were hot on the tongue came from Chile, I said, and there were heaps of gold there in the mountains.

My Darling Hope would know what kind of a valley was Philadelphia.

It was the Valley of Brotherly Love. It was a very big valley, with two streams, and a bay. No, it was not near Tahiti. It was a breadfruit season away from Atuona, at the very least.

What could a hotel be? The New York hotel in which her poor son lived?

I did not know that hotel, I told her, but a hotel was a house in which many persons paid to live, and some hotels had more rooms than there were houses in all the Marquesas.

What! In one house, under one roof? By my tribe, it was true.

Did I know this woman? I was from that island and I had been in that valley. I must have seen her.

I replied that I knew a Jeanette who answered the description beautiful, but that she was not from Chile.

Now, My Darling Hope knit her brow. Why would the mutoi take hold of her son, as he feared?

I soothed her anxiety. The mutoi walked up and down in front of the hotel, but he would not bother her son as long as her son could get a few piasters now and then to hand to him. The woman was rich, and would not miss a trifling sum, five or ten piasters a month for the mutoi.

But why was it forbidden for her son to live with Jeanette, being not married to her?

That was our law, but it was seldom enforced. The mutois were fat men who carried war-clubs and struck the poor with them, but her son was tapu because of Jeanette's money.

She was at ease now, she said. Her son could not marry without her permission. No Marquesan had ever done so. She would send the word by the next schooner, or I might take it with me to my own island and hand it to her son. He could then marry.

I had done her a great kindness, but one thing more. Neither she nor Titihuti nor Water could make out what Pahorai Calizte meant by “Coot Pae, Mama.” “A.P.A. Dieu.” was his commendation of her to God, but Coot Pae was not Marquesan, neither was it French. She pronounced the words in the Marquesan way, and I knew at once. Coot pae is pronounced Coot Pye, and Coot Pye was Pahorai Calizte's way of imitating the American for Apae Kaoha. “Good-by, mama,” was his quite Philadelphia closing of his letter to his mother.

I addressed an envelop to her son with The Iron Fingers That Make Words, and gave it to My Darling Hope. A tear came in her eye. She rubbed my bare back affectionately and caressed my nose with hers as she smelled me solemnly. Then she went up the valley to enlighten the hill people.




The chants of departure; night falls on the Land of the War Fleet.

On the eve of my going all the youth and beauty of Atuona crowded my paepae. Water brought his ukulele, a Hawaiian taro-patch guitar, and sang his repertoire of ballads of Hawaii—“Aloha Oe,” “Hawaii Ponoi,” and “One, Two, Three, Four.” Urged by all, I gave them for the last time my vocal masterpiece, “All Night Long He Calls Her Snooky-Ukums!” and was rewarded by a clamor of applauding cries. Marquesans think our singing strange—and no wonder! Theirs is a prolonged chant, a monotone without tune, with no high notes and little variance. But loving distraction, they listened with deep amusement to my rendering of American airs, as we might listen to Chinese falsettos.

They repaid me by reciting legends of their clans, and Titihuti chanted her genealogy, a record kept by memory in all families. Water, her son, who had learned to write, set it down on paper for me. It named the ancestors in pairs, father and mother, and Titihuti remembered thirty-eight generations, which covered perhaps a thousand years.

We sat in a respectful circle about her while she chanted it. An Amazon in height and weight, nearly six feet tall, body and head cast in heroic mold, she stood erect, her scarlet tunic gathered to display her symmetrical legs, tattooed in thought-kindling patterns, the feet and ankles as if encased in elegant Oriental sandals. Her red-gold hair, a flame in the flickering light of the torches, was wreathed with bright-green, glossy leaves, necklaces of peppers and small colored nuts rose and fell with her deep breathing.

Her voice was melodious, pitched low, and vibrating with the peculiar tone of the chant, a tone impossible of imitation to one who has not learned it as a child. Her eyes were kindled with pride of ancestry as she called the roll of experiences and achievements of the line that had bred her, and her clear-cut Greek features mirrored every emotion she felt, emotions of glory and pride, of sorrow and abasement at the fall of her race, of stoic fortitude in the dull present and hopeless future of her people. With one shapely arm upraised, she uttered the names, trumpet-calls to memory and imagination:

Enata (Men) Vehine (Women)
Na tupa efitu Metui te vehine
Tupa oa ia fai Puha Momoo
O tupa haaituani O haiko
O nuku Oui aei
O hutu Moeakau
O oko Oinu vaa
O moota O niniauo
O tiu Moafitu otemau
Fekei O mauniua
O tuoa Hotaei
O meae Oa tua hae
O tehu eo Kei pana
O ahunia Tui haa
O taa tini Kei pana
Nohea Tou mata
Tua kina Papa ohe
Tepiu Punoa
Tui feaa Tuhina
Naani Eiva Eio Hoki
Teani nui nei O tapu ohi
Ani hetiti Opu tini
O kou aehitini O take oho
O taupo O te heva
Tui pahu Otiu hoku
O hupe Oahu tupua
O papuaei O honu feti
Pepene tona Honu tona
Haheinutu O taoho
Kotio nui Taihaupu
Motu haa Mu eiamau
Hope taupo Tuhi pahu
Taupo tini Anitia fitu
Ana tete Pa efitu
Kihiputona Tahio paha oho
Taua kahiepo Honu tona
Mahea tete Titihuti
Aino tete tika Tua vahiane
Kui motua Titihuti

Loud sang the names themselves, proclaiming the merits of their bearers or their fathers in heraldic words, in titles like banners on castle walls, flying the standard of ideals and attainments of men and women long since dust.

Masters of Sea and Land, Commander of the Stars, Orderers of the Waxing and Waning of the Moon, Ten Thousand Ocean Tides, Man of Fair Countenance, Caller to Myriads, Climber to the Ninth Heaven, Man of Understanding, Player of the Game of Life, Doer of Deeds of Daring, Ten Thousand Cocoanut Leaves, The Enclosure of the Whale's Tooth, Man of the Forbidden Place, The Whole Blue Sky, Player of the War Drum, The Long Stayer; these were the names that called down the centuries, bringing back to Titihuti and to us who sat at her feet in the glow of the torches the fame and glory of her people through ages past.

How compare such names with John Smith or Henry Wilson? Yet we ourselves, did we remember it, have come from ancestors bearing names as resonant. Nero was Ahenobarbus, the Red-Bearded, to his contemporaries of Rome, at the time when Titihuti's forefathers were brave and great beneath the cocoanut-palms of Atuona. Our lists of early European kings carry names as full of meaning as theirs; Charles the Hammer, Edward the Confessor, Charles the Bold, Richard the Lion-Hearted, Hereward the Wake.

Titihuti, having gravely finished her chant, stood for a moment in silence. Then, “Aue!” she said with a sigh. “No one will remember when I am gone. Water, my son, nor Keke, my daughter, have learned these names of their forefathers and mothers who were noble and renowned. What does it matter? We will all be gone soon, and the cocoanut-groves of our islands will know us no more. We come, we do not know whence, and we go, we do not know where. Only the sea endures, and it does not remember.”

She sat on the mat beside me, and pressed my hand. I had been adopted as her son, and she was sorry to see me departing to the unknown island from which I had come, and from which, she knew, I would never return. She was mournful; she said that her heart was heavy. But I praised lavishly her beautifully tattooed legs, and complimented the decoration of her hair until she smiled again, and when from the shadowy edges of the ring of torch-light voices began an old chant of feasting, she took it up with the others.

There were Marquesans who could recite one hundred and forty-five generations of their families, covering more than thirty-six hundred years. Enough to make family trees that go back to the Norman conquest appear insignificant. I had known an old Maori priest who traced his ancestry to Rangi and Papa, through one hundred and eighty-two generations, 4,550 years. The Easter Islanders spoke of fifty-seven generations, and in Raratonga ninety pairs of ancestors are recited. The pride of the white man melts before such records.

Such incidents as the sack of Jerusalem, the Crusades, or Cassar's assassination, are recent events compared to the beginnings of some of these families, whose last descendants have died or are dying to-day.

I took Titihuti's words with me as I went down the trail from my little blue cabin at the foot of Temetiu for the last time: “We come, we do not know whence, and we go, we do not know where. Only the sea endures, and it does not remember.”

Great Fern, Haabuani, Exploding Eggs, and Water carried my bags and boxes to the shore, while I said adieux to the governor, Bauda, and Le Brunnec. When I reached the beach all the people of the valley were gathered there. They sat upon the sand, men and women and children, and intoned my farewell ode—my pae me io te:

“Apae! Kaoha! te Menike! Mau oti oe anao nei i te apua Kahito o a'Tahiti. Ei e tihe to metao iau e hoa iriti oei an ote vei mata to taua. E avei atu.”

“O, farewell to you, American! You go to far-distant Tahiti! There you will stay, but you will weep for me. Ever I shall be here, and the tears fall like the river flows. O friend and lover, the time has come. Farewell!”

The sky was ominous and the boats of the Saint François were running a heavy surf. I waded waist-deep through the breakers to climb into one. Malicious Gossip, Ghost Girl and the little leper lass, Many Daughters, were sobbing, their dresses lifted to their eyes.

Hee poihoo!” cried the steersman. The men in the breakers shoved hard, and leaped in, and we were gone.

My last hour in the Marquesas had come. I should never return. The beauty, the depressingness of these islands is overwhelming. Why could not this idyllic, fierce, laughter-loving people have stayed savage and strong, wicked and clean? The artists alone have known the flower destroyed here, the possible growth into greatness and purity that was choked in the smoke of white lust and greed.

At eight o'clock at night we were ready to depart.

The bell in the engine-room rang, the captain shouted orders from the bridge, the anchors were hoisted aboard. The propeller began to turn. The searchlight of the Saint François played upon the rocky stairway of Taha-Uka, penciled for a moment the dark line of the cliffs, swept the half circle into Atuona Inlet, and lingered on the white cross of Calvary where Gauguin lies.

The gentle rain in the shaft of light looked like quicksilver. The smoke from the funnel mixed in the heavy air with the mist and the light, and formed a fantastic beam of vapor from the ship to the shore. Up this stream of quivering, scintillating irradiation, as brilliant as flashing water in the sun, flew from the land thousands of gauze-winged insects, the great moths of the night, wondrous, shimmering bits of life, seeming all fire in the strange atmosphere. Drawn from their homes in the dark groves by this marvelous illumination, they climbed higher and higher in the dazzling splendor until they reached its source, where they crumpled and died. They seemed the souls of the island folk.

They pass mute, falling like the breadfruit in their dark groves. Soon none will be left to tell their departed glories. Their skulls perhaps shall speak to the stranger who comes a few decades hence, of a manly people, once magnificently perfect in body, masters of their seas, unexcelled in the record of humanity in beauty, vigor, and valor.

To-day, insignificant in numbers, unsung in history, they go to the abode of their dark spirits, calmly and without protest. A race goes out in wretchedness, a race worth saving, a race superb in manhood when the whites came. Nothing will remain of them but their ruined monuments, the relics of their temples and High Places, remnants of the mysterious past of one of the strangest people of time.

The Saint François surged past the Roberta, the old sea-wolf, worn and patched, but sturdy in the gleam of the searchlight. Capriata, the old Corsican, stood on his deck watching us go.

I walked aft and took my last view of the Marquesas. The tops of the mountains were jagged shadows against the sky, dark and mournful. The arc-light swung to shine upon the mouth of the bay, and the Land of the War Fleet was blotted out in the black night.

Some day when deeper poverty falls on Asia or the fortunes of war give all the South Seas to the Samurai, these islands will again be peopled. But never again will they know such beautiful children of nature, passionate and brave, as have been destroyed here. They shall have passed as did the old Greeks, but they will have left no written record save the feeble and misunderstanding observations of a few alien visitors.

Apai! Kaoha e!