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Title: South-Sea Idyls
Author: Stoddard, Charles Warren, 1843-1909
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SOUTH-SEA IDYLS.

by

CHARLES WARREN STODDARD.



[Illustration: (Printer's logo)]

Boston:
James R. Osgood and Company,
Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co.
1873.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873,
by Charles Warren Stoddard,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

University Press: Welch, Bigelow, & Co.,
Cambridge.



[Decoration]

CONTENTS.


                                                    PAGE

        IN THE CRADLE OF THE DEEP                      7

        CHUMMING WITH A SAVAGE.

            I. KÁNA-ANÁ                               25

            II. HOW I CONVERTED MY CANNIBAL           43

            III. BARBARIAN DAYS                       57

        TABOO.--A FÊTE-DAY IN TAHITI                  80

        JOE OF LAHAINA                               112

        THE NIGHT-DANCERS OF WAIPIO                  128

        PEARL-HUNTING IN THE POMOTOUS                146

        THE LAST OF THE GREAT NAVIGATOR              169

        A CANOE-CRUISE IN THE CORAL SEA              184

        UNDER A GRASS ROOF                           197

        MY SOUTH-SEA SHOW                            202

        THE HOUSE OF THE SUN                         221

        THE CHAPEL OF THE PALMS                      240

        KAHÉLE                                       259

        LOVE-LIFE IN A LANAI                         283

        IN A TRANSPORT                               300

        A PRODIGAL IN TAHITI                         324

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

_TO MY DEAR FRIEND ANTON ROMAN._

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

THE COCOA-TREE.


    Cast on the water by a careless hand,
        Day after day the winds persuaded me:
        Onward I drifted till a coral tree
    Stayed me among its branches, where the sand
        Gathered about me, and I slowly grew,
        Fed by the constant sun and the inconstant dew.

    The sea-birds build their nests against my root,
        And eye my slender body's horny case.
        Widowed within this solitary place
    Into the thankless sea I cast my fruit;
        Joyless I thrive, for no man may partake
        Of all the store I bear and harvest for his sake.

    No more I heed the kisses of the morn;
        The harsh winds rob me of the life they gave;
        I watch my tattered shadow in the wave,
    And hourly droop and nod my crest forlorn,
        While all my fibres stiffen and grow numb
        Beck'ning the tardy ships, the ships that never come!

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

SOUTH-SEA IDYLS.

IN THE CRADLE OF THE DEEP.


Forty days in the great desert of the sea,--forty nights camped under
cloud-canopies, with the salt dust of the waves drifting over us.
Sometimes a Bedouin sail flashed for an hour upon the distant horizon,
and then faded, and we were alone again; sometimes the west, at sunset,
looked like a city with towers, and we bore down upon its glorified
walls, seeking a haven; but a cold gray morning dispelled the illusion,
and our hearts sank back into the illimitable sea, breathing a long
prayer for deliverance.

Once a green oasis blossomed before us,--a garden in perfect bloom,
girded about with creaming waves; within its coral cincture pendulous
boughs trailed in the glassy waters; from its hidden bowers spiced airs
stole down upon us; above all, the triumphant palm-trees clashed their
melodious branches like a chorus with cymbals; yet from the very gates
of this paradise a changeful current swept us onward, and the happy
isle was buried in night and distance.

In many volumes of adventure I had read of sea-perils: I was at last to
learn the full interpretation of their picturesque horrors. Our little
craft, the Petrel, had buffeted the boisterous waves for five long
weeks. Fortunately, the bulk of her cargo was edible: we feared neither
famine nor thirst. Moreover, in spite of the continuous gale that swept
us out of our reckoning, the Petrel was in excellent condition, and, as
far as we could judge, we had no reason to lose confidence in her. It
was the gray weather that tried our patience and found us wanting; it
was the unparalleled pitching of the ninety-ton schooner that
disheartened and almost dismembered us. And then it was wasting time at
sea. Why were we not long before at our journey's end? Why were we not
threading the vales of some savage island, and reaping our rich reward
of ferns and shells and gorgeous butterflies?

The sea rang its monotonous changes,--fair weather and foul, days like
death itself, followed by days full of the revelations of new life, but
mostly days of deadly dulness, when the sea was as unpoetical as an
eternity of cold suds and blueing.

I cannot always understand the logical fitness of things, or, rather, I
am at a loss to know why some things in life are so unfit and illogical.
Of course, in our darkest hour, when we were gathered in the confines
of the Petrel's diminutive cabin, it was our duty to sing psalms of hope
and cheer, but we didn't. It was a time for mutual encouragement: very
few of us were self-sustaining, and what was to be gained by our
combining in unanimous despair?

Our weather-beaten skipper,--a thing of clay that seemed utterly
incapable of any expression whatever, save in the slight facial
contortion consequent to the mechanical movement of his lower jaw,--the
skipper sat, with barometer in hand, eying the fatal finger that pointed
to our doom; the rest of us were lashed to the legs of the centre-table,
glad of any object to fix our eyes upon, and nervously awaiting a turn
in the state of affairs, that was then by no means encouraging.

I happened to remember that there were some sealed letters to be read
from time to time on the passage out, and it occurred to me that one of
the times had come--perhaps the last and only--wherein I might break the
remaining seals and receive a sort of parting visit from the fortunate
friends on shore.

I opened one letter and read these prophetic lines: "Dear child,"--she
was twice my age, and privileged to make a pet of me,--"dear child, I
have a presentiment that we shall never meet again in the flesh."

That dear girl's intuition came near to being the death of me. I
shuddered where I sat, overcome with remorse. It was enough that I had
turned my back on her and sought consolation in the treacherous bosom of
the ocean; that, having failed to find the spring of immortal life in
human affection, I had packed up and emigrated, content to fly the ills
I had in search of change; but that parting shot, below the water-line
as it were,--that was more than I asked for, and something more than I
could stomach. I returned to watch with the rest of our little company,
who clung about the table with a pitiful sense of momentary security,
and an expression of pathetic condolence on every countenance, as though
each was sitting out the last hours of the others.

Our particular bane that night was a crusty old sea-dog whose memory of
wrecks and marine disasters of every conceivable nature was as complete
as an encyclopædia. This "old man of the sea" spun his tempestuous yarn
with fascinating composure, and the whole company was awed into silence
with the haggard realism of his narrative. The cabin must have been
air-tight,--it was as close as possible,--yet we heard the shrieking of
the wind as it tore through the rigging, and the long hiss of the waves
rushing past us with lightning speed. Sometimes an avalanche of foam
buried us for a moment, and the Petrel trembled like a living thing
stricken with sudden fear; we seemed to be hanging on the crust of a
great bubble that was, sooner or later, certain to burst, and let us
drop into its vast, black chasm, where, in Cimmerian darkness, we should
be entombed forever.

The scenic effect, as I then considered, was unnecessarily vivid; as I
now recall it, it seems to me strictly in keeping and thoroughly
dramatic. At any rate, you might have told us a dreadful story with
almost fatal success.

I had still one letter left, one bearing this suggestive legend: "To be
read in the saddest hour." Now, if there is a sadder hour in all time
than the hour of hopeless and friendless death, I care not to know of
it. I broke the seal of my letter, feeling that something charitable and
cheering would give me strength. A few dried leaves were stored within
it. The faint fragrance of summer bowers reassured me: somewhere in the
blank world of waters there was land, and there Nature was kind and
fruitful; out over the fearful deluge this leaf was born to me in the
return of the invisible dove my heart had sent forth in its extremity. A
song was written therein, perhaps a song of triumph. I could now silence
the clamorous tongue of our sea-monster, who was glutting us with tales
of horror, for a jubilee was at hand, and here was the first note of its
trumpets.

I read:--

    "Beyond the parting and the meeting
          I shall be soon;
    Beyond the farewell and the greeting,
    Beyond the pulse's fever-beating,
        I shall be soon."

I paused. A night black with croaking ravens, brooding over a slimy
hulk, through whose warped timbers the sea oozed,--that was the sort of
picture that rose before me. I looked further for a crumb of comfort:--

    "Beyond the gathering and the strewing,
          I shall be soon;
    Beyond the ebbing and the flowing,
    Beyond the coming and the going,
          I shall be soon."

A tide of ice-water seemed rippling up and down my spinal column; the
marrow congealed within my bones. But I recovered. When a man has supped
full of horror and there is no immediate climax, he can collect himself
and be comparatively brave. A reaction restored my soul.

Once more the melancholy chronicler of the ill-fated Petrel resumed his
lugubrious narrative. I resolved to listen, while the skipper eyed the
barometer, and we all rocked back and forth in search of the centre of
gravity, looking like a troupe of mechanical blockheads nodding in
idiotic unison. All this time the little craft drifted helplessly, "hove
to" in the teeth of the gale.

The sea-dog's yarn was something like this: He once knew a lonesome man
who floated about in a waterlogged hulk for three months; who saw all
his comrades starve and die, one after another, and at last kept watch
alone, craving and beseeching death. It was the stanch French brig
Mouette, bound south into the equatorial seas. She had seen rough
weather from the first: day after day the winds increased, and finally a
cyclone burst upon her with insupportable fury. The brig was thrown upon
her beam-ends, and began to fill rapidly. With much difficulty her masts
were cut away, she righted, and lay in the trough of the sea rolling
like a log. Gradually the gale subsided, but the hull of the brig was
swept continually by the tremendous swell, and the men were driven into
the foretop cross-trees, where they rigged a tent for shelter and
gathered what few stores were left them from the wreck. A dozen wretched
souls lay in their stormy nest for three whole days in silence and
despair. By this time their scanty stores were exhausted, and not a drop
of water remained; then their tongues were loosened, and they railed at
the Almighty. Some wept like children, some cursed their fate. One man
alone was speechless,--a Spaniard, with a wicked light in his eye, and a
repulsive manner that had made trouble in the forecastle more than once.

When hunger had driven them nearly to madness they were fed in an almost
miraculous manner. Several enormous sharks had been swimming about the
brig for some hours, and the hungry sailors were planning various
projects for the capture of them. Tough as a shark is, they would
willingly have risked life for a few raw mouthfuls of the same.
Somehow, though the sea was still and the wind light, the brig gave a
sudden lurch and dipped up one of the monsters, who was quite secure in
the shallow aquarium between the gunwales. He was soon despatched, and
divided equally among the crew. Some ate a little, and reserved the rest
for another day; some ate till they were sick, and had little left for
the next meal. The Spaniard with the evil eye greedily devoured his
portion, and then grew moody again, refusing to speak with the others,
who were striving to be cheerful, though it was sad enough work.

When the food was all gone save a few mouthfuls that one meagre eater
had hoarded to the last, the Spaniard resolved to secure a morsel at the
risk of his life. It had been a point of honor with the men to observe
sacredly the right of ownership, and any breach of confidence would have
been considered unpardonable. At night, when the watch was sleeping, the
Spaniard cautiously removed the last mouthful of shark hidden in the
pocket of his mate, but was immediately detected and accused of theft.
He at once grew desperate, struck at the poor wretch whom he had robbed,
missed his blow, and fell headlong from the narrow platform in the
foretop, and was lost in the sea. It was the first scene in the mournful
tragedy about to be enacted on that limited stage.

There was less disturbance after the disappearance of the Spaniard. The
spirits of the doomed sailors seemed broken; in fact, the captain was
the only one whose courage was noteworthy, and it was his indomitable
will that ultimately saved him.

One by one the minds of the miserable men gave way; they became peevish
or delirious, and then died horribly. Two, who had been mates for many
voyages in the seas north and south, vanished mysteriously in the night;
no one could tell where they went or in what manner, though they seemed
to have gone together.

Somehow, these famishing sailors seemed to feel assured that their
captain would be saved; they were as confident of their own doom, and to
him they intrusted a thousand messages of love. They would lie around
him,--for few of them had strength to assume a sitting posture,--and
reveal to him the story of their lives. It was most pitiful to hear the
confessions of these dying men. One said: "I wronged my friend; I was
unkind to this one or to that one; I deserve the heaviest punishment God
can inflict upon me"; and then he paused, overcome with emotion. But
another took up the refrain: "I could have done much good, but I would
not, and now it is too late." And a third cried out in his despair, "I
have committed unpardonable sins, and there is no hope for me. Lord
Jesus, have mercy!" The youngest of these perishing souls was a mere
lad; he, too, accused himself bitterly. He began his story at the
beginning, and continued it from time to time as the spirit of
revelation moved him; scarcely an incident, however insignificant,
escaped him in his pitiless retrospect. O, the keen agony of that boy's
recital! more cruel than hunger or thirst, and in comparison with which
physical torture would have seemed merciful and any death a blessing.

While the luckless Mouette drifted aimlessly about, driven slowly onward
by varying winds under a cheerless sky, sickness visited them. Some were
stricken with scurvy; some had lost the use of their limbs and lay
helpless, moaning and weeping hour after hour; vermin devoured them; and
when their garments were removed, and cleansed in the salt water, there
was scarcely sunshine enough to dry them before night, and they were put
on again, damp, stiffened with salt, and shrunken so as to cripple the
wearers, who were all blistered and covered with boils. The nights were
bitter cold: sometimes the icy moon looked down upon them; sometimes the
bosom of an electric cloud burst over them, and they were enveloped for
a moment in a sheet of flame. Sharks lingered about them, waiting to
feed upon the unhappy ones who fell into the sea overcome with physical
exhaustion, or who cast themselves from that dizzy scaffold, unable
longer to endure the horrors of lingering death. Flocks of sea-fowl
hovered over them; the hull of the Mouette was crusted with barnacles;
long skeins of sea-grass knotted themselves in her gaping seams; myriads
of fish darted in and out among the clinging weeds, sporting gleefully;
schools of porpoises leaped about them, lashing the sea into foam;
sometimes a whale blew his long breath close under them. Everywhere was
the stir of jubilant life,--everywhere but under the tattered awning
stretched in the foretop of the Mouette.

Days and weeks dragged on. When the captain would waken from his
sleep,--which was not always at night, however, for the nights were
miserably cold and sleepless,--when he wakened he would call the roll.
Perhaps some one made no answer; then he would reach forth and touch the
speechless body and find it dead. He had not strength now to bury the
corpses in the sea's sepulchre; he had not strength even to partake of
the unholy feast of the inanimate flesh. He lay there in the midst of
pestilence; and at night, under the merciful veil of darkness, the fowls
of the air gathered about him and bore away their trophy of corruption.

By and by there were but two left of all that suffering crew,--the
captain and the boy,--and these two clung together like ghosts, defying
mortality. They strove to be patient and hopeful: if they could not eat,
they could drink, for the nights were dewy, and sometimes a mist covered
them,--a mist so dense it seemed almost to drip from the rags that
poorly sheltered them. A cord was attached to the shrouds, the end of it
carefully laid in the mouth of a bottle slung in the rigging. Down the
thin cord slid occasional drops; one by one they stole into the bottle,
and by morning there was a spoonful of water to moisten those parched
lips,--sweet, crystal drops, more blessed than tears, for _they_ are
salt; more precious than pearls. A thousand prayers of gratitude seemed
hardly to quiet the souls of the lingering ones for that great charity
of Heaven.

There came a day when the hearts of God's angels must have bled for the
suffering ones. The breeze was fresh and fair; the sea tossed gayly its
foam-crested waves; sea-birds soared in wider circles; and the clouds
shook out their fleecy folds, through which the sunlight streamed in
grateful warmth. The two ghosts were talking, as ever, of home, of
earth, of land. Land,--land anywhere, so that it were solid and broad.
O, to pace again a whole league without turning! O, to pause in the
shadow of some living tree! To drink of some stream whose waters flowed
continually; flowed, though you drank of them with the awful thirst of
one who has been denied water for weeks and and weeks and weeks, for
three whole months,--an eternity, as it seemed to them.

Then they pictured life as it might be if God permitted them to return
to earth once more. They would pace K---- Street at noon, and revisit
that capital restaurant where many a time they had feasted, though in
those days they were unknown to one another; they would call for coffee,
and this dish and that dish, and a whole bill of fare, the thought of
which made their feverish palates grow moist again. They would meet
friends whom they had never loved as they now loved them; they would
reconcile old feuds and forgive everybody everything; they held
imaginary conversations, and found life very beautiful and greatly to be
desired; and somehow they would get back to the little _café_ and there
begin eating again, and with a relish that brought the savory tastes and
smells vividly before them, and their lips would move and the impalpable
morsels roll sweetly over their tongues.

It had become a second nature to scour the horizon with jealous eyes;
never for a moment during their long martyrdom had their covetous sight
fixed upon a stationary object. But it came at last. Out of a cloud a
sail burst like a flickering flame. What an age it was a coming! how it
budded and blossomed like a glorious white flower, that was transformed
suddenly into a bark bearing down upon them! Almost within hail it
stayed its course, the canvas fluttered in the wind; the dark hull
slowly rose and fell upon the water; figures moved to and fro,--men,
living and breathing men! Then the ghosts staggered to their feet and
cried to God for mercy. Then they waved their arms, and beat their
breasts, and lifted up their imploring voices, beseeching deliverance
out of that horrible bondage. Tears coursed down their hollow cheeks,
their limbs quaked, their breath failed them; they sank back in despair,
speechless and forsaken.

Why did they faint in the hour of deliverance when that narrow chasm was
all that separated them from renewed life? Because the bark spread out
her great white wings and soared away, hearing not the faint voices,
seeing not the thin shadows that haunted that drifting wreck. The
forsaken ones looked out from their eyrie, and watched the lessening
sail until sight failed them; and then the lad, with one wild cry,
leaped toward the speeding bark, and was swallowed up in the sea.

Alone in a wilderness of waters. Alone, without compass or rudder, borne
on by relentless winds into the lonesome, dreary, shoreless ocean of
despair, within whose blank and forbidding sphere no voyager ventures;
across whose desolate waste dawn sends no signal and night brings no
reprieve; but whose sun is cold, and whose moon is clouded, and whose
stars withdraw into space, and where the insufferable silence of vacancy
shall not be broken for all time.

O pitiless Nature! thy irrevocable laws argue sore sacrifice in the
waste places of God's universe!...

The Petrel gave a tremendous lurch, that sent two or three of us into
the lee corners of the cabin; a sea broke over us, bursting in the
companion-hatch, and half filling our small and insecure retreat. The
swinging lamp was thrown from its socket and extinguished; we were
enveloped in pitch darkness, up to our knees in salt water. There was a
moment of awful silence; we could not tell whether the light of day
would ever visit us again; we thought perhaps it wouldn't. But the
Petrel rose once more upon the watery hill-tops and shook herself free
of the cumbersome deluge; and at that point, when she seemed to be
riding more easily than usual, some one broke the silence: "Well, did
the captain of the Mouette live to tell the tale?"

Yes, he did. God sent a messenger into the lonesome deep, where the
miserable man was found insensible, with eyes wide open against the
sunlight, and lips shrunken apart,--a hideous, breathing corpse. When he
was lifted in the arms of the brave fellows who had gone to his rescue,
he cried, "Great God! am I saved?" as though he couldn't believe it when
it was true; then he fainted, and was nursed through a long delirium,
and was at last restored to health and home and happiness.

Our cabin-boy managed to fish up the lamp, and after a little we were
illuminated; the agile swab soon sponged out the cabin, and we resumed
our tedious watch for dawn and fairer weather.

Somehow, my mind brooded over the solitary wreck that was drifting about
the sea. I could fancy the rotten timbers of the Mouette clinging
together, by a miracle, until the Ancient Mariner was taken away from
her, and then, when she was alone again, with nothing whatever in sight
but blank blue sea and blank blue sky, she lay for an hour or so,
bearded with shaggy sea-moss and looking about a thousand years old.
Suddenly it occurred to her that her time had come,--that she had
outlived her usefulness, and might as well go to pieces at once. So she
yawned in all her timbers, and the sea reached up over her, and laid
hold of her masts, and seemed to be slowly drawing her down into its
bosom. There was not an audible sound, and scarcely a ripple upon the
water; but when the waves had climbed into the foretop, there was a
clamor of affrighted birds, and a myriad bubbles shot up to the surface,
where a few waifs floated and whirled about for a moment. It was all
that marked the spot where the Mouette went down to her eternal rest.

"Ha, ha!" cried our skipper, with something almost like a change of
expression on his mahogany countenance, "the barometer is rising!" and
sure enough it was. In two hours the Petrel acted like a different craft
entirely, and by and by came daybreak, and after that the sea went down,
down, down, into a deep, dead calm, when all the elements seemed to have
gone to sleep after their furious warfare. Like half-drowned flies we
crawled out of the close, ill-smelling cabin to dry ourselves in the
sun: there, on the steaming deck of the schooner, we found new life, and
in the hope that dawned with it we grew lusty and jovial.

Such a flat, oily sea as it was then! So transparent that we saw great
fish swimming about, full fathom five under us. A monstrous shark
drifted lazily past, his dorsal fin now and then cutting the surface
like a knife and glistening like polished steel, his brace of pilot-fish
darting hither and thither, striped like little one-legged harlequins.

Flat-headed gonies sat high on the water, piping their querulous note as
they tugged at something edible, a dozen of them entering into the
domestic difficulty: one after another would desert the cause, run a
little way over the sea to get a good start, leap heavily into the air,
sail about for a few minutes, and then drop back on the sea,
feet-foremost, and skate for a yard or two, making a white mark and a
pleasant sound as it slid over the water.

The exquisite nautilus floated past us, with its gauzy sail set, looking
like a thin slice out of a soap-bubble; the strange anemone laid its
pale, sensitive petals on the lips of the wave and panted in ecstasy;
the Petrel rocked softly, swinging her idle canvas in the sun; we heard
the click of the anchor-chain in the forecastle, the blessedest
seasound I wot of; a sailor sang while he hung in the ratlines and
tarred down the salt-stained shrouds. The afternoon waned; the man at
the wheel struck two bells,--it was the delectable dog-watch. Down went
the swarthy sun into his tent of clouds; the waves were of amber; the
fervid sky was flushed; it looked as though something splendid were
about to happen up there, and that it could hardly keep the secret much
longer. Then came the purplest twilight; and then the sky blossomed all
over with the biggest, ripest, goldenest stars,--such stars as hang like
fruits in sun-fed orchards; such stars as lay a track of fire in the
sea; such stars as rise and set over mountains and beyond low green
capes, like young moons, every one of them; and I conjured up my spells
of savage enchantment, my blessed islands, my reefs baptized with silver
spray; I saw the broad fan-leaves of the banana droop in the motionless
air, and through the tropical night the palms aspired heavenward, while
I lay dreaming my sea-dream in the cradle of the deep.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

CHUMMING WITH A SAVAGE.


PART I.

KÁNA-ANÁ.

There was a little brown rain-cloud, that blew over in about three
minutes; and Bolabola's thatched hut was dry as a haystack in less than
half that time. Those tropical sprays are not much, anyhow; so I lounged
down into the banana-patch, for I thought I saw something white there,
something white and fluttering, moving about. I knew pretty well what it
was, and didn't go after it on an uncertainty.

The Doctor looked savage. Whenever he slung those saddle-bags over his
left shoulder, and swung his right arm clean out from his body, like the
regulator of a steam-engine, you might know that his steam was pretty
well up. I turned to look back, as he was strapping up his beast of
burden till the poor animal's body was positively waspish; then he
climbed into his saddle, and sullenly plunged down the trail toward the
precipice, and never said "Good by," or "God bless you," or any of those
harmless tags that come in so well when you don't know how to cut off
your last words.

I solemnly declare, and this without malice, the Doctor was perfectly
savage.

Now, do you know what demoralized that Doctor? how we came to a
misunderstanding? or why we parted company? It was simply because here
was a glorious valley, inhabited by a mild, half-civilized people, who
seemed to love me at first sight. I don't believe I disliked them,
either. Well! they asked me to stop with them, and I felt just like it.
I wanted to stop and be natural; but the Doctor thought otherwise of my
intentions; and that was the origin of the row.

The next thing I knew, the Doctor had got up the great precipice, and I
was quite alone with two hundred dusky fellows, only two of whom could
speak a syllable of English, and I the sole representative of the
superior white within twenty miles. Alone with cannibals,--perhaps they
were cannibals. They had magnificent teeth, at any rate, and could bite
through an inch and a half sugar-cane, and not break a jaw.

For the first time that summer I began to moralize a little. Was it best
to have kicked against the Doctor's judgment? Perhaps not! But it is
best to be careful how you begin to moralize too early; you deprive
yourself of a great deal of fun in that way. If you want to do anything
particularly, I should advise you to do it, and then be sufficiently
sorry to make it all square.

I'm not so sure that I was wrong, after all. Fate, or the Doctor, or
something else, brought me first to this loveliest of valleys, so shut
out from everything but itself that there were no temptations which
might not be satisfied. Well! here, as I was looking about at the
singular loveliness of the place,--you know this was my first glimpse of
its abrupt walls, hung with tapestries of fern and clambering
convolvulus; at one end two exquisite waterfalls, rivalling one another
in whiteness and airiness, at the other the sea, the real South Sea,
breaking and foaming over a genuine reef, and even rippling the placid
current of the river that slipped quietly down to its embracing tide
from the deep basins at these waterfalls,--right in the midst of all
this, before I had been ten minutes in the valley, I saw a straw hat,
bound with wreaths of fern and _maile_; under it a snow-white garment,
rather short all around, low in the neck, and with no sleeves whatever.

There was no sex to that garment; it was the spontaneous offspring of a
scant material and a large necessity. I'd seen plenty of that sort of
thing, but never upon a model like this, so entirely tropical,--almost
Oriental. As this singular phenomenon made directly for me, and, having
come within reach, there stopped and stayed, I asked its name, using one
of my seven stock phrases for the purpose; I found it was called
Kána-aná. Down it went into my note-book; for I knew I was to have an
experience with this young scion of a race of chiefs. Sure enough, I
have had it. He continued to regard me steadily, without embarrassment.
He seated himself before me; I felt myself at the mercy of one whose
calm analysis was questioning every motive of my soul. This sage
inquirer was, perhaps, sixteen years of age. His eye was so earnest and
so honest, I could return his look. I saw a round, full, rather girlish
face; lips ripe and expressive, not quite so sensual as those of
most of his race; not a bad nose, by any means; eyes perfectly
glorious,--regular almonds,--with the mythical lashes "that sweep,"
etc., etc. The smile which presently transfigured his face was of the
nature that flatters you into submission against your will.

Having weighed me in his balance,--and you may be sure his instincts
didn't cheat him; they don't do that sort of thing,--he placed his two
hands on my two knees, and declared, "I was his best friend, as he was
mine; I must come at once to his house, and there live always with him."
What could I do but go? He pointed me to his lodge across the river,
saying, "There was his home and mine." By this time, my _native_ without
a master was quite exhausted. I wonder what would have happened if some
one hadn't come to my rescue, just at that moment of trial, with a fresh
vocabulary? As it was, we settled the matter at once. This was our
little plan,--an entirely private arrangement between Kána-aná and
myself: I was to leave with the Doctor in an hour; but, at the
expiration of a week we should both return hither; then I would stop
with him, and the Doctor could go his way.

There was an immense amount of secrecy, and many vows, and I was almost
crying, when the Doctor hurried me up that terrible precipice, and we
lost sight of the beautiful valley. Kána-aná swore he would watch
continually for my return, and I vowed I'd hurry back; and so we parted.
Looking down from the heights, I thought I could distinguish his white
garment; at any rate, I knew the little fellow was somewhere about,
feeling as miserably as I felt,--and nobody has any business to feel
worse. How many times I thought of him through the week! I was always
wondering if he still thought of me. I had found those natives to be
impulsive, demonstrative, and, I feared, inconstant. Yet why should he
forget me, having so little to remember in his idle life, while I could
still think of him, and put aside a hundred pleasant memories for his
sake? The whole island was a delight to me. I often wondered if I should
ever again behold such a series of valleys, hills, and highlands in so
small a compass. That land is a world in miniature, the dearest spot of
which, to me, was that secluded valley; for there was a young soul
watching for my return.

That was rather a slow week for me, but it ended finally; and just at
sunset, on the day appointed, the Doctor and I found ourselves back on
the edge of the valley. I looked all up and down its green expanse,
regarding every living creature, in the hope of discovering Kána-aná in
the attitude of the watcher. I let the Doctor ride ahead of me on the
trail to Bolabola's hut, and it was quite in the twilight when I heard
the approach of a swift horseman. I turned, and at that moment there was
a collision of two constitutions that were just fitted for one another;
and all the doubts and apprehensions of the week just over were
indignantly dismissed, for Kána-aná and I were one and inseparable,
which was perfectly satisfactory to both parties!

The plot, which had been thickening all the week, culminated then, much
to the disgust of the Doctor, who had kept his watchful eye upon me all
these days--to my advantage, as he supposed. There was no disguising our
project any longer, so I out with it as mildly as possible. "There was a
dear fellow here," I said, "who loved me, and wanted me to live with
him; all his people wanted me to stop, also; his mother and his
grandmother had specially desired it. They didn't care for money; they
had much love for me, and therefore implored me to stay a little. Then
the valley was most beautiful; I was tired; after our hard riding, I
needed rest; his mother and his grandmother assured me that I needed
rest. Now, why not let me rest here awhile?"

The Doctor looked very grave. I knew that he misunderstood me,--placed a
wrong interpretation upon my motives; the worse for him, I say. He tried
to talk me over to the paths of virtue and propriety; but I wouldn't be
talked over. Then the final blast was blown; war was declared at once.
The Doctor never spoke again, but to abuse me; and off he rode in high
dudgeon, and the sun kept going down on his wrath. Thereupon I renounced
all the follies of this world, actually hating civilization, and feeling
entirely above the formalities of society. I resolved on the spot to be
a barbarian, and, perhaps, dwell for ever and ever in this secluded
spot. And here I am back to the beginning of this story, just after the
shower at Bolabola's hut, as the Doctor rode off alone and in anger.

That resolution was considerable for me to make. I found, by the time
the Doctor was out of sight and I was quite alone, with the natives
regarding me so curiously, that I was very tired indeed. So Kána-aná
brought up his horse, got me on to it in some way or other, and mounted
behind me to pilot the animal and sustain me in my first bareback act.
Over the sand we went, and through the river to his hut, where I was
taken in, fed, and petted in every possible way, and finally put to bed,
where Kána-aná monopolized me, growling in true savage fashion if any
one came near me. I didn't sleep much, after all. I think I must have
been excited. I thought how strangely I was situated: alone in a
wilderness, among barbarians; my bosom friend, who was hugging me like a
young bear, not able to speak one syllable of English, and I very shaky
on a few bad phrases in his tongue. We two lay upon an enormous
old-fashioned bed with high posts,--very high they seemed to me in the
dim rushlight. The natives always burn a small light after dark; some
superstition or other prompts it. The bed, well stocked with pillows, or
cushions, of various sizes, covered with bright-colored chintz, was hung
about with numerous shawls, so that I might be dreadfully modest behind
them. It was quite a grand affair, gotten up expressly for my benefit.
The rest of the house--all in one room, as usual--was covered with mats,
on which various recumbent forms and several individual snores betrayed
the proximity of Kána-aná's relatives. How queer the whole atmosphere of
the place was! The heavy beams of the house were of some rare wood,
which, being polished, looked like colossal sticks of peanut candy.
Slender canes were bound across this framework, and the soft, dried
grass of the meadows was braided over it,--all completing our tenement,
and making it as fresh and sweet as new-mown hay.

The natives have a passion for perfumes. Little bunches of
sweet-smelling herbs hung in the peak of the roof, and wreaths of
fragrant berries were strung in various parts of the house. I found our
bedposts festooned with them in the morning. O, that bed! It might have
come from England in the Elizabethan era and been wrecked off the coast;
hence the mystery of its presence. It was big enough for a Mormon. There
was a little opening in the room opposite our bed; you might call it a
window, I suppose. The sun, shining through it, made our tent of shawls
perfectly gorgeous in crimson light, barred and starred with gold. I
lifted our bed-curtain, and watched the rocks through this window,--the
shining rocks, with the sea leaping above them in the sun. There were
cocoa-palms so slender they seemed to cast no shadow, while their
fringed leaves glistened like frost-work as the sun glanced over them. A
bit of cliff, also, remote and misty, running far into the sea, was just
visible from my pyramid of pillows. I wondered what more I could ask for
to delight the eye. Kána-aná was still asleep, but he never let loose
his hold on me, as though he feared his pale-faced friend would fade
away from him. He lay close by me. His sleek figure, supple and graceful
in repose, was the embodiment of free, untrammelled youth. You who are
brought up under cover know nothing of its luxuriousness. How I longed
to take him over the sea with me, and show him something of life as we
find it. Thinking upon it, I dropped off into one of those delicious
morning naps. I awoke again presently; my companion-in-arms was the
occasion this time. He had awakened, stolen softly away, resumed his
single garment,--said garment and all others he considered superfluous
after dark,--and had prepared for me, with his own hands, a breakfast,
which he now declared to me, in violent and suggestive pantomime, was
all ready to be eaten. It was not a bad bill of fare,--fresh fish, taro,
poe, and goat's milk. I ate as well as I could, under the circumstances.
I found that Robinson Crusoe must have had some tedious rehearsals
before he acquired that perfect resignation to Providence which delights
us in book form. There was a veritable and most unexpected table-cloth
for me alone. I do not presume to question the nature of its miraculous
appearance. Dishes there were,--dishes, if you're not particular as to
shape or completeness; forks, with a prong or two,--a bent and
abbreviated prong or two; knives that had survived their handles; and
one solitary spoon. All these were tributes of the too generous people,
who, for the first time in their lives, were at the inconvenience of
entertaining a distinguished stranger. Hence this reckless display of
tableware. I ate as well as I could, but surely not enough to satisfy my
crony; for, when I had finished eating, he sat about two hours in deep
and depressing silence, at the expiration of which time he suddenly
darted off on his bareback steed and was gone till dark, when he
returned with a fat mutton slung over his animal. Now, mutton
doesn't grow wild thereabout, neither were his relatives shepherds;
consequently, in eating, I asked no questions for conscience' sake.

The series of entertainments offered me were such as the little valley
had not known for years: canoe-rides up and down the winding stream;
bathings in the sea and in the river, and in every possible bit of
water, at all possible hours; expeditions into the recesses of the
mountains, to the waterfalls that plunged into cool basins of fern and
cresses, and to the orange grove through acres and acres of guava
orchards; some climbings up the precipices; goat hunting, once or twice,
as far as a solitary cavern, said to be haunted,--these tramps always by
daylight; then a new course of bathings and sailings, interspersed with
monotonous singing and occasional smokes under the eaves of the hut at
evening.

If it is a question how long a man may withstand the seductions of
nature, and the consolations and conveniences of the state of nature, I
have solved it in one case; for I was as natural as possible in about
three days.

I wonder if I was growing to feel more at home, or more hungry, that I
found an appetite at last equal to any table that was offered me!
Chicken was added to my already bountiful rations, nicely cooked by
being swathed in a broad, succulent leaf, and roasted or steeped in hot
ashes. I ate it with my fingers, using the leaf for a platter.

Almost every day something new was offered at the door for my
edification. Now, a net full of large guavas or mangoes, or a sack of
leaves crammed with most delicious oranges from the mountains, that
seemed to have absorbed the very dew of heaven, they were so fresh and
sweet. Immense lemons perfumed the house, waiting to make me a capital
drink. Those superb citrons, with their rough, golden crusts, refreshed
me. Cocoa-nuts were heaped at the door; and yams, grown miles away, were
sent for, so that I might be satisfied. All these additions to my table
were the result of long and vigorous arguments between the respective
heads of the house. I detected trouble and anxiety in their expressive
faces. I picked out a word, here and there, which betrayed their secret
sorrow. No assertions, no remonstrances on my part, had the slightest
effect upon the poor souls, who believed I was starving. Eat I must, at
all hours and in all places; and eat, moreover, before they would touch
a mouthful. So Nature teaches her children a hospitality which all the
arts of the capital cannot affect.

I wonder what it was that finally made me restless and eager to see new
faces! Perhaps my unhappy disposition, that urged me thither, and then
lured me back to the pride of life and the glory of the world. Certain I
am that Kána-aná never wearied me with his attentions, though they were
incessant. Day and night he was by me. When he was silent, I knew he was
conceiving some surprise in the shape of a new fruit, or a new view to
beguile me. I was, indeed, beguiled; I was growing to like the little
heathen altogether too well. What should I do when I was at last
compelled to return out of my seclusion, and find no soul so faithful
and loving in all the earth beside? Day by day this thought grew upon
me, and with it I realized the necessity of a speedy departure.

There were those in the world I could still remember with that
exquisitely painful pleasure that is the secret of true love. Those
still voices seemed incessantly calling me, and something in my heart
answered them of its own accord. How strangely idle the days had grown!
We used to lie by the hour--Kána-aná and I--watching a strip of sand on
which a wild poppy was nodding in the wind. This poppy seemed to me
typical of their life in the quiet valley. Living only to occupy so much
space in the universe, it buds, blossoms, goes to seed, dies, and is
forgotten.

These natives do not even distinguish the memory of their great dead, if
they ever had any. It was the legend of some mythical god that Kána-aná
told me, and of which I could not understand a twentieth part; a god
whose triumphs were achieved in an age beyond the comprehension of the
very people who are delivering its story, by word of mouth, from
generation to generation. Watching the sea was a great source of
amusement with us. I discovered in our long watches that there is a very
complicated and magnificent rhythm in its solemn song. This wave that
breaks upon the shore is the heaviest of a series that preceded it; and
these are greater and less, alternately, every fifteen or twenty
minutes. Over this dual impulse the tides prevail, while through the
year there is a variation in their rise and fall. What an intricate and
wonderful mechanism regulates and repairs all this!

There was an entertainment in watching a particular cliff, in a peculiar
light, at a certain hour, and finding soon enough that change visited
even that hidden quarter of the globe. The exquisite perfection of this
moment, for instance, is not again repeated on to-morrow, or the day
after, but in its stead appears some new tint or picture, which,
perhaps, does not satisfy like this. That was the most distressing
disappointment that came upon us there. I used to spend half an hour in
idly observing the splendid curtains of our bed swing in the light air
from the sea; and I have speculated for days upon the probable destiny
awaiting one of those superb spiders, with a tremendous stomach and a
striped waistcoat, looking a century old, as he clung tenaciously to the
fringes of our canopy.

We had fitful spells of conversation upon some trivial theme, after
long intervals of intense silence. We began to develop symptoms of
imbecility. There was laughter at the least occurrence, though quite
barren of humor; also, eating and drinking to pass the time; bathing to
make one's self cool, after the heat and drowsiness of the day. So life
flowed out in an unruffled current, and so the prodigal lived riotously
and wasted his substance. There came a day when we promised ourselves an
actual occurrence in our Crusoe life. Some one had seen a floating
object far out at sea. It might be a boat adrift; and, in truth, it
looked very like a boat. Two or three canoes darted off through the surf
to the rescue, while we gathered on the rocks, watching and ruminating.
It was long before the rescuers returned, and then they came
empty-handed. It was only a log after all, drifted, probably, from
America. We talked it all over, there by the shore, and went home to
renew the subject; it lasted us a week or more, and we kept harping upon
it till that log--drifting slowly, O how slowly! from the far mainland
to our island--seemed almost to overpower me with a sense of the
unutterable loneliness of its voyage. I used to lie and think about it,
and get very solemn, indeed; then Kána-aná would think of some fresh
appetizer or other, and try to make me merry with good feeding. Again
and again he would come with a delicious banana to the bed where I was
lying, and insist upon my gorging myself, when I had but barely
recovered from a late orgie of fruit, flesh, or fowl. He would mesmerize
me into a most refreshing sleep with a prolonged and pleasing
manipulation. It was a reminiscence of the baths of Stamboul not to be
withstood. From this sleep I would presently be wakened by Kána-aná's
performance upon a rude sort of harp, that gave out a weird and
eccentric music. The mouth being applied to the instrument, words were
pronounced in a guttural voice, while the fingers twanged the strings in
measure. It was a flow of monotones, shaped into legends and lyrics. I
liked it amazingly; all the better, perhaps, that it was as good as
Greek to me, for I understood it as little as I understood the strange
and persuasive silence of that beloved place, which seemed slowly but
surely weaving a spell of enchantment about me. I resolved to desert
peremptorily, and managed to hire a canoe and a couple of natives, to
cross the channel with me. There were other reasons for this prompt
action.

Hour by hour I was beginning to realize one of the inevitable results of
Time. My boots were giving out; their best sides were the uppers, and
their soles had about left them. As I walked, I could no longer disguise
this pitiful fact. It was getting hard on me, especially in the gravel.
Yet, regularly each morning, my pieces of boot were carefully oiled;
then rubbed, or petted, or coaxed into some sort of a polish, which was
a labor of love. O Kána-aná! how could you wring my soul with those
touching offices of friendship!---those kindnesses unfailing,
unsurpassed!

Having resolved to sail early in the morning, before the drowsy citizens
of the valley had fairly shaken the dew out of their forelocks, all that
day--my last with Kána-aná--I breathed about me silent benedictions and
farewells. I could not begin to do enough for Kána-aná, who was, more
than ever, devoted to me. He almost seemed to suspect our sudden
separation, for he clung to me with a sort of subdued desperation. That
was the day he took from his head his hat--a very neat one, plaited by
his mother--insisting that I should wear it (mine was quite in tatters),
while he went bareheaded in the sun. That hat hangs in my room now, the
only tangible relic of my prodigal days. My plan was to steal off at
dawn, while he slept; to awaken my native crew, and escape to sea before
my absence was detected. I dared not trust a parting with him, before
the eyes of the valley. Well, I managed to wake and rouse my sailor
boys. To tell the truth, I didn't sleep a wink that night. We launched
the canoe, entered, put off, and had safely mounted the second big
roller just as it broke under us with terrific power, when I heard a
shrill cry above the roar of the waters. I knew the voice and its
import. There was Kána-aná rushing madly toward us; he had discovered
all, and couldn't even wait for that white garment, but ran after us
like one gone daft, and plunged into the cold sea, calling my name, over
and over, as he fought the breakers. I urged the natives forward. I knew
if he overtook us, I should never be able to escape again. We fairly
flew over the water. I saw him rise and fall with the swell, looking
like a seal; for it was his second nature, this surf-swimming. I believe
in my heart I wished the paddles would break or the canoe split on the
reef, though all the time I was urging the rascals forward; and they,
like stupids, took me at my word. They couldn't break a paddle, or get
on the reef, or have any sort of an accident. Presently we rounded the
headland,--the same hazy point I used to watch from the grass house,
through the little window, of a sunshiny morning. There we lost sight of
the valley and the grass house, and everything that was associated with
the past,--but that was nothing. We lost sight of the little sea-god,
Kána-aná, shaking the spray from his forehead like a porpoise; and this
was all in all. I didn't care for anything else after that, or anybody
else, either. I went straight home and got civilized again, or partly
so, at least. I've never seen the Doctor since, and never want to. He
had no business to take me there, or leave me there. I couldn't make up
my mind to stay; yet I'm always dying to go back again.

So I grew tired over my husks. I arose and went unto my father. I
wanted to finish up the Prodigal business. I ran and fell upon his neck
and kissed him, and said unto him, "Father, _if_ I have sinned against
Heaven and in thy sight, I'm afraid I don't care much. Don't kill
anything. I don't want any calf. Take back the ring, I don't deserve it;
for I'd give more this minute to see that dear, little, velvet-skinned,
coffee-colored Kána-aná, than anything else in the wide world,--because
he hates business, and so do I. He's a regular brick, father, moulded of
the purest clay, and baked in God's sunshine. He's about half sunshine
himself; and, above all others, and more than any one else ever can, he
loved your Prodigal."


PART II.

HOW I CONVERTED MY CANNIBAL.

When people began asking me queer questions about my chum Kána-aná, some
of them even hinting that "he might possibly have been a girl all the
time," I resolved to send down for him, and settle the matter at once. I
knew he was not a girl, and I thought I should like to show him some
American hospitality, and perhaps convert him before I sent him back
again.

I could teach him to dress, you know; to say a very good thing to your
face, and a very bad one at your back; to sleep well in church, and
rejoice duly when the preacher got at last to the "Amen." I might do all
this for his soul's sake; but I wanted more to see how the little fellow
was getting on. I missed him so terribly,--his honest way of showing
likes and dislikes; his confidence in his intuitions and fidelity to his
friends; and those quaint manners of his, so different from anything in
vogue this side of the waters.

That is what I remarked when I got home again, and found myself growing
as practical and prosy as ever. I awoke no kindred chord in the family
bosom. On the contrary, they all said, "It was no use to think of it: no
good could come out of Nazareth." The idea of a heathen and his
abominable idolatry being countenanced in the sanctity of a Christian
home was too dreadful for anything. But I believed some good might come
out of Nazareth, and I believed that, when it did come, it was the
genuine article, worth hunting for, surely. I thought it all over
soberly, finally resolving to do a little missionary work on my own
account. So I wrote to the Colonel of the Royal Guards, who knows
everybody and has immense influence everywhere, begging him to catch
Kána-aná, when his folks weren't looking, and send him to my address,
marked C. O. D., for I was just dying to see him. That was how I
trapped my little heathen and began to be a missionary, all by myself.

I informed the Colonel it was a case of life and death, and he seemed to
realize it, for he managed to get Kána-aná away from his distressed
relatives (their name is legion, and they live all over the island), fit
him out in _real_ clothing,--the poor little wretch had to be dressed,
you know; we all do it in this country,--then he packed him up and
shipped him, care of the captain of the bark S----. When he arrived, I
took him right to my room and began my missionary work. I tried to make
all the people love him, but I'm afraid they found it hard work. He
wasn't half so interesting up here anyhow! I seemed to have been
regarding him through chromatic glasses, which glasses being suddenly
removed, I found a little, dark-skinned savage, whose clothes fitted him
horribly, and appeared to have no business there. Boots about twice too
long, the toes being heavily charged with wadding; in fact, he looked
perfectly miserable, and I've no doubt he felt so. How he had been
studying English on the voyage up! He wanted to be a great linguist, and
had begun in good earnest. He said "good mornin'" as boldly as possible
about seven P. M., and invariably spoke of the women of America as
"him." He had an insane desire to spell, and started spelling-matches
with everybody, at the most inappropriate hours and inconvenient places.
He invariably spelled God d-o-g; when duly corrected,--thus, G-o-d,--he
would triumphantly shout, _dog_. He jumped at these irreverent
conclusions about twenty times a day.

What an experience I had, educating my little savage! Walking him in the
street by the hour; answering questions on all possible topics; spelling
up and down the blocks; spelling from the centre of the city to the
suburbs and back again, and around it; spelling one another at
spelling,--two latter-day peripatetics on dress parade, passing to and
fro in high and serene strata of philosophy, alike unconscious of the
rudely gazing and insolent citizens, or the tedious calls of labor. A
spell was over us: we ran into all sorts of people, and trod on many a
corn, loafing about in this way. Some of the victims objected in harsh
and sinful language. I found Kána-aná had so far advanced in the
acquirement of our mellifluous tongue as to be very successful in
returning their salutes. I had the greatest difficulty in convincing him
of the enormity of his error. The little convert thought it was our mode
of greeting strangers, equivalent to their more graceful and poetic
password, _Aloha_, "Love to you."

My little cannibal wasn't easily accustomed to his new restraints, such
as clothes, manners, and forbidden water-privileges. He several times
started on his daily pilgrimage without his hat; once or twice, to save
time, put his coat on next his skin; and though I finally so far
conquered him as to be sure that his shirt would be worn on the inside
instead of the outside of his trousers (this he considered a great waste
of material), I was in constant terror of his suddenly disrobing in the
street and plunging into the first water we came to,--which barbarous
act would have insured his immediate arrest, perhaps confinement; and
that would have been the next thing to death in his case.

So we perambulated the streets and the suburbs, daily growing into each
other's grace; and I was thinking of the propriety of instituting a
series of more extended excursions, when I began to realize that my
guest was losing interest in our wonderful city and the possible
magnitude of her future.

He grew silent and melancholy; he quit spelling entirely, or only
indulged in rare and fitful (I am pained to add, fruitless) attempts at
spelling God in the orthodox fashion. It seemed almost as though I had
missed my calling; certainly, I was hardly successful as a missionary.

The circus failed to revive him; the beauty of our young women he
regarded without interest. He was less devout than at first, when he
used to insist upon entering every church we came to and sitting a few
moments, though frequently we were the sole occupants of the building.
He would steal away into remote corners of the house, and be gone for
hours. Twice or three times I discovered him in a dark closet, _in puris
naturalibus_, toying with a singular shell strung upon a feather chain.
The feathers of the chain I recognized as those of a strange bird held
as sacred among his people. I began to suspect the occasion of his
malady: he believed himself bewitched or accursed of some one,--a common
superstition with the dark races. This revelation filled me with alarm;
for he would think nothing of lying down to die under the impression
that it was his fate, and no medicine under the heaven could touch him
further.

I began telling him of my discovery, begging his secret from him. In
vain I besought him. "It was his trouble; he must go back!" I told him
he should go back as soon as possible; that we would look for ourselves,
and see when a vessel was to sail again. I took him among the wharves,
visiting, in turn, nearly all the shipping moored there. How he lingered
about them, letting his eyes wander over the still bay into the mellow
hazes that sometimes visit our brown and dusty hills!

His nature seemed to find an affinity in the tranquil tides, the
far-sweeping distances, the alluring outlines of the coast, where it was
blended with the sea-line in the ever-mysterious horizon. After these
visitations, he seemed loath to return again among houses and people;
they oppressed and suffocated him.

One day, as we were wending our way to the city front, we passed
a specimen of grotesque carving, in front of a tobacconist's
establishment. Kána-aná stood eying the painted model for a moment, and
then, to the amazement and amusement of the tobacconist and one or two
bystanders, fell upon his knees before it, and was for a few moments
lost in prayer. It seemed to do him a deal of good, as he was more
cheerful after his invocation,--for that day, at least; and we could
never start upon any subsequent excursion without first visiting this
wooden Indian, which he evidently mistook for a god.

He began presently to bring tributes, in the shape of small
cobble-stones, which he surreptitiously deposited at the feet of his
new-found deity, and passed on, rejoicing. His small altar grew from day
to day, and his spirits were lighter as he beheld it unmolested, thanks
to the indifference of the tobacconist and the street contractors.

His greatest trials were within the confines of the bath-tub. He who had
been born to the Pacific, and reared among its foam and breakers, now
doomed to a seven-by-three zinc box and ten inches of water! He would
splash about like a trout in a saucer, bemoaning his fate. Pilgrimages
to the beach were his greatest delight; divings into the sea, so far
from town that no one could possibly be shocked, even with the
assistance of an opera-glass. He used to implore a daily repetition of
these cautious and inoffensive recreations, though, once in the chilly
current, he soon came out of it, shivering and miserable. Where were his
warm sea-waves, and the shining beach, with the cocoa-palms quivering in
the intense fires of the tropical day? How he missed them and mourned
for them, crooning a little chant in their praises, much to the
disparagement of our dry hills, cold water, and careful people!

In one of our singular walks, when he had been unusually silent, and I
had sought in vain to lift away the gloom that darkened his soul, I was
startled by a quick cry of joy from the lips of the young exile,--a cry
that was soon turned into a sharp, prolonged, and pitiful wail of sorrow
and despair. We had unconsciously approached an art-gallery, the deep
windows of which were beautified with a few choice landscapes in oil.
Kána-aná's restless and searching eye, doubtless attracted by the
brilliant coloring of one of the pictures, seemed in a moment to
comprehend and assume the rich and fervent spirit with which the artist
had so successfully imbued his canvas.

It was the subject which had at first delighted Kána-aná,--the splendid
charm of its manipulation which so affected him, holding him there
wailing in the bitterness of a natural and incontrollable sorrow. The
painting was illuminated with the mellowness of a tropical sunset. A
transparent light seemed to transfigure the sea and sky. The artist had
wrought a miracle in his inspiration. It was a warm, hazy, silent sunset
forever. The outline of a high, projecting cliff was barely visible in
the flood of misty glory that spread over the face of it,--a cliff whose
delicate tints of green and crimson pictured in the mind a pyramid of
leaves and flowers. A valley opened its shadowy depths through the
sparkling atmosphere, and in the centre of this veiled chasm the pale
threads of two waterfalls seemed to appear and disappear, so exquisitely
was the distance imitated. Gilded breakers reeled upon a palm-fringed
shore; and the whole was hallowed by the perpetual peace of an unbroken
solitude.

I at once detected the occasion of Kána-aná's agitation. Here was the
valley of his birth,--the cliff, the waterfall, the sea, copied
faithfully, at that crowning hour when they are indeed supernaturally
lovely. At that moment, the promise to him of a return would have been
mockery. He was there in spirit, pacing the beach, and greeting his
companions with that liberal exchange of love peculiar to them. Again he
sought our old haunt by the river, watching the sun go down. Again he
waited listlessly the coming of night.

It was a wonder that the police did not march us both off to the
station-house; for the little refugee was howling at the top of his
lungs, while I endeavored to quiet him by bursting a sort of vocal
tornado about his ears. I then saw my error. I said to myself, "I have
transplanted a flower from the hot sand of the Orient to the hard clay
of our more material world,--a flower too fragile to be handled, if
never so kindly. Day after day it has been fed, watered, and nourished
by Nature. Every element of life has ministered to its development in
the most natural way. Its attributes are God's and Nature's own. I bring
it hither, set it in our tough soil, and endeavor to train its sensitive
tendrils in one direction. There is no room for spreading them here,
where we are overcrowded already. It finds no succulence in its cramped
bed, no warmth in our practical and selfish atmosphere. It withers from
the root upward; its blossoms are falling; it will die!" I resolved it
should not die. Unfortunately, there was no bark announced to sail for
his island home within several weeks. I could only devote my energies to
keeping life in that famishing soul until it had found rest in the
luxurious clime of its nativity.

At last the bark arrived. We went at once to see her; and I could hardly
persuade the little homesick soul to come back with me at night. He who
was the fire of hospitality and obliging to the uttermost, at home, came
very near to mutiny just then.

It was this civilization that had wounded him, till the thought of his
easy and pleasurable life among the barbarians stung him to madness.
Should he ever see them again, his lovers? ever climb with the
goat-hunters among the clouds yonder? or bathe, ride, sport, as he used
to, till the day was spent and the night come?

Those little booths near the wharves, where shells, corals, and
gold-fish are on sale, were Kána-aná's favorite haunts during the last
few days he spent here. I would leave him seated on a box or barrel by
one of those epitomes of Oceanica, and return two hours later, to find
him seated as I had left him, and singing some weird _méle_,--some
legend of his home. These musical diversions were a part of his nature,
and a very grave and sweet part of it, too. A few words, chanted on a
low note, began the song, when the voice would suddenly soar upward with
a single syllable of exceeding sweetness, and there hang trembling in
bird-like melody till it died away with the breath of the singer.

Poor, longing soul! I would you had never left the life best suited to
you,--that liberty which alone could give expression to your wonderful
capacities. Not many are so rich in instincts to read Nature, to
translate her revelations, to speak of her as an orator endowed with her
surpassing eloquence.

It will always be a sad effort, thinking of that last night together.
There are hours when the experiences of a lifetime seem compressed and
crowded together. One grows a head taller in his soul at such times,
and perhaps gets suddenly gray, as with a fright, also.

Kána-aná talked and talked in his pretty, broken English, telling me of
a thousand charming secrets; expressing all the natural graces that at
first attracted me to him, and imploring me over and over to return with
him and dwell in the antipodes. How near I came to resolving, then and
there, that I _would go_, and take the consequences,--how very near I
came to it! He passed the night in coaxing, promising, entreating; and
was never more interesting or lovable. It took just about all the moral
courage allotted me to keep on this side of barbarism on that eventful
occasion; and in the morning Kána-aná sailed, with a face all over
tears, and agony, and dust.

I begged him to select something for a remembrancer; and of all that
ingenuity can invent and art achieve he chose a metallic chain for his
neck,--chose it, probably, because it glittered superbly, and was good
to string charms upon. He gave me the greater part of his wardrobe,
though it can never be of any earthly use to me, save as a memorial of a
passing joy in a life where joys seem to have little else to do than be
brief and palatable.

He said he "should never want them again"; and he said it as one might
say something of the same sort in putting by some instrument of
degradation,--conscious of renewed manhood, but remembering his late
humiliation, and bowing to that remembrance.

So Kána-aná, and the bark, and all that I ever knew of genuine,
spontaneous, and unfettered love sailed into the west, and went down
with the sun in a glory of air, sea, and sky, trebly glorious that
evening. I shall never meet the sea when it is bluest without thinking
of one who is its child and master. I shall never see mangoes and
bananas without thinking of him who is their brother, born and brought
up with them. I shall never smell cassia, or clove, or jessamine, but a
thought of Kána-aná will be borne upon their breath. A flying skiff,
land in the far distance rising slowly, drifting sea-grasses, a clear
voice burdened with melody,--all belong to him, and are a part of him.

I resign my office. I think that, perhaps, instead of my having
converted the little cannibal, he may have converted me. I am sure, at
least, that if we two should begin a missionary work upon one another, I
should be the first to experience the great change. I sent my convert
home, feeling he wasn't quite so good as when I first got him; and I
truly wish him as he was.

       *       *       *       *       *

I can see you, my beloved,--sleeping, naked, in the twilight of the
west. The winds kiss you with pure and fragrant lips. The sensuous waves
invite you to their embrace. Earth again offers you her varied store.
Partake of her offering, and be satisfied. Return, O troubled soul! to
your first and natural joys: they were given you by the Divine hand
that can do no ill. In the smoke of the sacrifice ascends the prayer of
your race. As the incense fadeth and is scattered upon the winds of
heaven, so shall your people separate, nevermore to assemble among the
nations. So perish your superstitions, your necromancies, your ancient
arts of war, and the unwritten epics of your kings.

Alas, Kána-aná! As the foam of the sea you love, as the fragrance of the
flower you worship, shall your precious body be wasted, and your
untrammelled soul pass to the realms of your fathers.

Our day of communion is over. Behold how Night extends her wings to
cover you from my sight! She may, indeed, hide your presence; she may
withhold from me the mystery of your future: but she cannot take from me
that which I have; she cannot rob me of the rich influences of your
past.

Dear comrade, pardon and absolve your spiritual adviser, for seeking to
remould so delicate and original a soul as yours; and, though neither
prophet nor priest, I yet give you the kiss of peace at parting, and the
benediction of unceasing love.


PART III.

BARBARIAN DAYS.

We had been watching intently the faint, shadowy outline along the
horizon, and wondering whether it were really land, or but a cloudy
similitude of it; while we bore down upon it all the afternoon in fine
style, and the breeze freshened as evening came on. It was all clear
sailing, and we were in pretty good spirits,--which is not always the
case with landsmen at sea.

Sitting there on the after-deck, I had asked myself, more than once, If
life were made up of placid days like this, how long would life be
sweet? I gave it up every time; for one is not inclined to consider so
curiously as to press any problem to a solution in those indolent
latitudes.

Perhaps it was Captain Kidd who told me he had sailed out of a
twelve-knot breeze on a sudden,--slipping off the edges of it, as it
were,--and found his sails all aback as he slid into a dead calm. There,
rocking in still weather, he saw another bark, almost within hail, blown
into the west and out of sight, like a bird in a March gale.

I wonder what caused me to think of Kidd's experiences just then? I
can't imagine, unless it was some prescient shadow floating in my
neighborhood,--the precursor of the little event that followed. Such
things do happen, and when we least expect it; though, fortunately, they
don't worry us as a general thing. I didn't worry at all, but sat there
by myself, while some of my fellow-passengers took a regular
"constitutional" up and down the deck, and over and over it, until the
nervous woman below in the cabin "blessed her stars," and wished herself
ashore.

I preferred sitting and pondering over the cloud that seemed slowly to
rise from the sea, assuming definite and undeniable appearances of land.

I knew very well what land it must be: one of a group of islands every
inch of which I had traversed with the zeal of youthful enthusiasm; but
which of them, was a question I almost feared to have answered. Yet,
what difference could it make to me! The land was providentially in our
course, but not on our way-bill. If we were within gunshot of its
loveliest portion, we must needs pass on as frigidly as though it were
Charybdis, or something equally dreadful; and I began to think it might
be something of the sort, because of its besetting temptations.

There was not the slightest doubt as to the certainty of its being land,
when we went down to supper; and at sunset we knew the dark spots were
valleys, and the bright ones hills. I fancied a hundred bronze-hued
faces were turned toward us, as we seemed to twinkle away off in their
sunset sea like a fallen star, or something of that sort. I thought I
could almost hear the sea beating upon the crusts of the reef in the
twilight; but perhaps I didn't, for the land was miles away, and night
hid it presently, while the old solitude of the ocean impressed us all
as though we were again in the midst of its unbroken, circular wastes.
Then they played whist in the cabin,--all but me. I hung over the ship's
side, resolved to watch all night for the lights on shore,--the
flickering watch-fires in the mountain camps; for I knew I should see
them, as we were bound to pass the island before morning.

The night was intensely dark; clouds muffled the stars, and not a spark
of light was visible in any direction over the waters. A shower could
easily have quenched the beacons I was seeking, and my vigil soon became
tedious; so presently I followed the others and turned in, rather
disconsolate and disgusted.

Toward midnight the wind fell rapidly, and within half an hour we found
ourselves in a dead calm, when the moan of the breakers was quite
audible on our starboard quarter. The Captain was nervous and watchful;
the currents in the channel were strong, and he saw, by the variation in
the compass, that the vessel was being whirled in a great circle around
a point of the island.

Fortunately it began to get light before the danger grew imminent. At
three o'clock we were within soundings, and shortly after we plumped the
anchor into the rough coral at the bottom of a pretty little harbor,
where, the Captain informed us, we must ride all day and get out with
the land-breeze, that would probably come down at night. I rushed up in
the gray dawn, and bent my gaze upon the shore. I think I must have
turned pale, or trembled a little, or done something sensational and
appropriate, though no one observed it; whereat I was rather glad, on
the whole, for they could not have understood it if I had done my best
to explain,--which I had not the least idea of doing, however, for it
was none of their affair.

I knew that place the moment I saw it,--the very spot of all I most
desired to see; and I resolved, in my secret soul, to go ashore, there
and then; amicably if I might, forcibly if I must.

The Captain was not over-genial that morning, either; he hated
detention, and was a trifle nervous about being tied up under the lee of
the land for twelve or twenty hours. So he growled if any one approached
him all that day, and positively refused to allow the ship's boat to be
touched, unless we drifted upon the rocks, broadside,--which, he seemed
to think, was not entirely out of the question. I was sure there would
be a canoe--perhaps several--alongside by sunrise; so I said nothing,
but waited in silence, determined to desert when the time came; and the
Captain might whistle me back if he could.

Presently the time came. We were rocking easily on the swell, directly
to the eastward of a deep valley. The sky was ruddy; the air fresh and
invigorating, but soft as the gales of Paradise. We were in the tropics.
You would have known it with your eyes shut; the whole wonderful
atmosphere confessed it. But, with your eyes open, those white birds,
sailing like snow-flakes through the immaculate blue heavens, with
tail-feathers like our pennant; the floating gardens of the sea, through
which we had been ruthlessly ploughing for a couple of days back; the
gorgeous sunrises and sunsets,--all were proofs positive of our
latitude.

What a sunrise it was on that morning! Yet I stood with my back to it,
looking west; for there I saw, firstly, the foam on the reef--as crimson
as blood--falling over the wine-stained waves; then it changed as the
sun ascended, like clouds of golden powder, indescribably magnificent,
shaken and scattered upon the silver snow-drifts of the coral reef,
dazzling to behold, and continually changing.

Beyond it, in the still water, was reflected a long, narrow strip of
beach; above it, green pastures and umbrageous groves, with native huts,
like great bird's-nests, half hidden among them; and the weird, slender
cocoa-palms were there,--those exclamation-points in the poetry of
tropic landscape. All this lay slumbering securely between high walls of
verdure; while at the upper end, where the valley was like a niche set
in the green and glorious mountains, two waterfalls floated downward
like smoke-columns on a heavy morning. Angels and ministers of grace! do
you, in your airy perambulations, visit haunts more lovely than
this?--as lovely as that undiscovered country from whose bourn the
traveller would rather not look back, premising that the traveller were
as singularly constituted as I am; which is, per-adventure, not
probable.

They knew it was morning almost as soon as we did, though they lived a
few furlongs farther west, and had no notion of the immediate proximity
of a strange craft,--by no means rakish in her rig, however; only a
simple merchantman, bound for Auckland from San Francisco, but the
victim of circumstances, and, in consequence, tied to the bottom of the
sea when half-way over.

They knew it was morning. I saw them swarming out of their grassy nests,
brown, sleek-limbed, and naked. They regarded with amazement our
floating home. The news spread, and the groves were suddenly peopled
with my dear barbarians, who hate civilization almost as much as I do,
and are certainly quite as idolatrous and indolent as I ever aspire to
be.

I turned my palms outward toward them; I lifted up my voice, and cried,
"Hail, my brothers! We hasten with the morning; we follow after the sun.
Greetings to you, dwellers in the West!"

Nobody heard me. I looked again. Down they came upon the shore, wading
into the sea. Then such a carnival as they celebrated in the shallow
water was a novelty for some of my cabin friends; but I knew all about
it. I'd done the same thing often enough myself, when I was young, and
free, and innocent, and savage. I knew they were asking themselves a
thousand questions as to our sudden appearance in their seas, and would
rather like to know who we were, and where we were going, but scorned to
ask us. They had once or twice been visited by the same sort of
whitish-looking people, and they had found those colorless faces
uncivil, and the bleached-out skins by no means to be trusted with those
whom they considered their inferiors. They didn't know that it is one of
the Thirty-nine Articles of Civilization to bully one's way through the
world. Then I prayed that they might be moved to send out a canoe, so
that I could debark and go inland for the day. I prayed very earnestly,
and out she came,--one of their tiny, fragile canoes, looking like a
deserted chrysalis, with the invisible wings of the spiritual, tutelary
butterfly wafting it over the waves. In this chrysalis dug-out sat a
tough little body, with a curly head, which I recognized in a minute as
belonging to a once friend and comrade in my delightful exile, when I
was a successful prodigal, and wasted my substance in the most startling
and effectual manner, and enjoyed it a great deal better than if I had
kept it in the bank, as they advised me to do. On he came, beating the
sea with his broad paddle, alternately by either side of the canoe, and
regarding us with a commendable degree of suspicion. I greeted him in
his peculiar dialect. The gift of tongues seemed suddenly to have
descended upon me, for I found little difficulty in saying everything I
wanted to say, in a remarkably brief space of time.

"Hail, little friend!" said I; "great love to you. How is it on shore
now?"

He replied that it was decidedly nice on shore now, and that his love
for me was as much as mine for him, and more too, and that consequently
he was prepared to conduct me thither, regardless of expense.

I went with that lovely boy on shore. The Captain could not resist my
persuasive appeals for a short leave of absence, and so I went. Perhaps
it would not have been advisable for him to have suppressed me; and he
made a courteous virtue of necessity.

I had leave to stop till evening, unless I heard a signal-gun, upon
hearing which I was to return immediately on board, or suffer the
consequences.

Now, I am free to confess, that the consequences didn't appall me as we
swung off from the vessel, where I had been an uneasy prisoner for many
days; and I fell to chatting with Niga, my dusky friend, in a sort of
desperate joy.

Niga was a regular trump. He had more than once piled on horseback
behind me, in the sweet days when we used to ride double,--yea, and even
treble, if necessary. There was usually a great deal more boy than horse
on the premises; hence this questionable economy in our cavalry
regulations. Niga told me many things as we drew near the reef: he
talked of nearly everybody and everything; but of all that he told me,
he said nothing of the one I most longed to hear about. Yet, somehow or
other, I could not quite bring myself to ask him, out and out, this
question. You know, sometimes it is hard to shape words just as you want
them shaped, and the question is never asked in consequence.

The reef was growling tremendously. We were drawing nearer to it
every moment. I thought the chances were against us; but Niga was
self-possessed, and, as he had crossed it once that morning,--and in the
more dangerous direction of the two, that is, against the grain of the
waves,--I concluded there was no special need of my making a scene; and
in the next moment we were poised on a terrific cataract of glittering
and rushing breakers, snatched up and held trembling in mid-air, with
the canoe half filled with water, and I perfectly blind with spray.

It was a memorable moment in a very short voyage; and the general
verdict on board ship, where they were watching us with some interest,
was, that it served me right.

When my eyes were once more free of the water, I found myself in the
midst of the natives, who had been waiting just inside of the reef to
receive us; and, as they recognized me, they laid a hand on the canoe,
as many as could crowd about it, fairly lifting it out of the water on
our way to the shore, all the while wailing at the top of their voices
their mournful and desolate wail.

It was impossible for me to decide whether that chant of theirs was an
expression of joy, or sorrow: the nature of it is precisely the same, in
either case.

So we went on shore in our little triumphal procession, and there I was
embraced in a very emphatic manner by savages of every conceivable sex,
age, and color. Having mutely submitted to their genuine expressions of
love, I was conducted--a willing and bewildered captive--along the
beach, around the little point that separates the river from the sea,
and thence by the river-bank to the house I knew so well. I believe I
looked at every dusky face in that assemblage, two or three times over,
but saw not the one I sought.

What could it mean? Was he hunting in the mountains, or fishing beyond
the headland, or sick, or in prison, that he came not to greet me?
Surely, something had befallen him,--something serious and unusual,--or
he would have been the first to welcome me home to barbarism!

A strange dread clouded my mind: it increased and multiplied as we
passed on toward the house that had been home to me. Then, having led me
to the outer door, the people all sat there upon the ground, and began
wailing piteously.

I hastily crossed the narrow outer room, lifted the plaited curtain, and
entered the inner chamber, where I had spent my strange, wild holiday
long months before. I looked earnestly about me, while my eyes gradually
became familiar with the dull light. Nothing seemed changed. I could
point at once to almost every article in the room. It seemed but
yesterday that I had stolen away from them in the gray dawn, and
repented my desertion too late.

I soon grew accustomed to the sombre light of the room. I saw sitting
about me, in the corners, bowed figures, with their faces hidden in
grief. There was no longer any doubt as to the nature of their emotion.
It was grief that had stricken the household, and the grief that death
alone occasions. I counted every figure in the room; I recognized each,
the same that I had known when I dwelt among them: he alone was absent.

I don't know what possessed me at that moment. I felt an almost
uncontrollable desire to laugh, as though it were some _masque_ gotten
up for my amusement. Then I wished they would cease their masking, for
I felt too miserable to laugh. Then I was utterly at a loss to know what
to do; so I walked to the old-fashioned bed--our old-fashioned bed--in
the corner, looking just as it used to. I think the same old spider was
there still, clinging to the canopy; the very same old fellow, in his
harlequin tights, that we used to watch, and talk about, and wonder what
he was thinking of, to stop so still, day after day, and week after
week, up there on the canopy. I threw myself upon the edge of the bed,
my feet resting upon the floor; and there I tried to think of everything
but that one dreadful reality that would assert itself, in spite of my
efforts to deny it.

Where was my friend? Where could he be, that these, his friends, were so
bowed with sorrow? The question involved a revelation, already
anticipated in my mind. That revelation I dreaded as I would dread my
own death-sentence. But it came at last. A woman who had been humbling
herself in the dust moved toward me from the shadow that half concealed
her. She did not rise to her feet; she was half reclining on the mats of
the floor, her features veiled in the long, black hair of her race. One
hand was extended toward me, then the other; the body followed; and so
she moved, slowly and painfully, toward the bedside.

It was his mother. I knew her intuitively. Close to the bed she came,
and crouched by me, upon the floor. There, with one hand clasped close
over mine, the other flooded with her copious tears, and her forehead
bowed almost to the floor, she poured forth the measure of her woe. The
moment her voice was heard, those out of the house ceased wailing, and
seemed to be listening to the elegy of the bereaved.

Her voice was husky with grief; broken again and again with sobs. I
seemed to understand perfectly the nature of her story, though my
knowledge of the dialect was very deficient.

The mother's soul was quickened with her pathetic theme. The frenzy of
the poet inspired her lips. It was an epic she was chanting, celebrating
the career of her boy-hero. She told of his birth, and wonderful
childhood; of his beautiful strength; of his sublime affection, and the
friend it had brought him from over the water.

She referred frequently to our former associations, and seemed to
delight in dwelling upon them. Then came the story of his death,--the
saddest canto of the melancholy whole.

How shall I ever forgive myself the selfish pleasure I took in striving
to remodel an immortal soul? What business had I to touch so sensitive
an organism; susceptible of infinite impressions, but incapable, in its
prodigality, of separating and dismissing the evil, and retaining only
the good,--therefore fit only to increase and develop in the suitable
atmosphere with which the Creator had surrounded it?

Why did I not foresee the climax?

I might have known that one reared in the nursery of Nature, as free to
speak and act as the very winds of heaven to blow whither they list,
could ill support the manacles of our modern proprieties. Of what use to
him could be a knowledge of the artifices of society? Simply a
temptation and a snare!

What was the story of his fate? That he came safely home, rejoicing in
his natural freedom; that he could not express his delight at finding
home so pleasant; that his days were spent in telling of the wonderful
things he had seen: more sects than the gods of the South Seas; more
doubters than believers; contradictions, and insults, and suspicions,
everywhere. They laughed again, when they thought of us, and pitied us
all the while.

But his exhilaration wore off, after a time. Then came the reaction. A
restlessness; an undefined, unsatisfied longing. Life became a burden.
The seed of dissension had fallen in fresh and fallow soil: it was a
souvenir of his sojourn among us. He, the child of Nature, must now
follow out the artificial and hollow life of the world, or die
unsatisfied; for he could not return to his original sphere of trust and
contentment. He had learned to doubt all things, as naturally as any of
us.

For days he moaned in spirit, and was troubled; nothing consoled him;
his soul was broken of its rest; he grew desperate and melancholy.

I believe he was distracted with the problem of society, and I cannot
wonder at it. One day, when his condition had become no longer
endurable, he stole off to sea in his canoe, thinking, perhaps, that he
could reach this continent, or some other; possibly hoping never again
to meet human faces, for he could not trust them.

It was his heroic exit from a life that no longer interested him. Great
was the astonishment of the Islanders, who looked upon him as one
possessed of the Evil Spirit, and special sacrifices were offered in his
behalf; but the gods were inexorable; and, after several days upon the
solitary sea, a shadow, a mote, drifted toward the valley,--a canoe,
with a famishing and delirious voyager, that was presently tossed and
broken in the surges; then, a dark body glistened for a moment, wet with
spray, and sank forever, while the shining coral reef was stained with
the blood of the first-born.

I heard it all in the desolate wail of the mother, yet could not weep;
my eyes burned like fire.

Little Niga came for me presently, and led me into the great grove of
_kamane_-trees, up the valley. He insisted upon holding me by the hand:
it was all he could do to comfort me, and he did that with his whole
soul.

In silence we pressed on to one of the largest of the trees. I
recognized it at once. Niga and I, one day, went thither, and I cut a
name upon the soft bark of the tree.

When we reached it we paused. Niga pointed with his finger; I looked. It
was there yet,--a simple name, carved in the rudest fashion. I read the
letters, which had since become an epitaph. They were these:--

        "KÁNA-ANÁ, _Æt. 16 yrs._"

Under them were three initials,--my own,--cut by the hand of Kána-aná,
after his return from America.

We sat down in the gloomy grove. "Tell me," I said, "tell me, Niga,
where has his spirit gone?"

"He is here, now," said Niga; "he can see us. Perhaps, some day, we
shall see him."

"You have more faith than our philosophers, for they have reasoned
themselves out of everything. Would you like to be a philosopher, Niga?"
I asked.

Niga thought, if they were going to die, body and soul, that he wouldn't
like to be anything of the sort, and that he had rather be a first-class
savage than a fourth-rate Christian, any day.

I interrupted him at this alarming assertion. "The philosophers would
call your faith a superstition, Niga; they do not realize that there is
no true faith unmixed with superstition, since faith implies a belief in
something unseen, and is, therefore, itself a superstition. Blessed is
the man who believes blindly,--call it what you please,--for peace shall
dwell in his soul. But, Niga," I continued, "where is God?"

"Here, and here, and here," said Niga, pointing me to a grotesque
carving in the sacred grove, to a monument upon the distant precipice,
and to a heap of rocks in the sea; and the smile of recognition with
which the little votary greeted his idols was a solemn proof of his
sincerity.

"Niga," I said, "we call you and your kind heathens. It is a harmless
anathema, which cannot, in the least, affect you personally. Ask us if
we love God! Of course we do. Do we love him above all things, animate
or inanimate? Undoubtedly! Undoubtedly is easily said, and let us give
ourselves credit for some honesty. We believe that we do love God, above
all; that we have no other gods before him; yet, who of us will give up
wealth, home, friends, and follow him? Not one! The God we love is a
very vague, invisible, forbearing essence. He can afford to be lenient
with us while we are debating whether our neighbor is serving him in the
right fashion, or not. We'd rather not have other gods before him: one
is as many as we find it convenient to serve. The lover kisses
passionately a miniature. It is not, however, an image of his Creator,
nor any memorial of his Redeemer's passion, but only a portrait of his
mistress. Do you blame us, Niga? It is the strongest instinct of our
nature to worship something. Man is a born idolater, and not one of us
is exempted by reason of any scruples under the sun. You see it daily
and hourly: each one has his idols."

Little Niga, who sympathized deeply with me, seemed to have gotten some
knowledge of our peculiarly mixed theories concerning God and the future
state, from conversations overheard after the return of Kána-aná. He
tried to console me with the assurance that Kána-aná died a devoted and
unshaken adherent to the faith of his fathers.

I couldn't but feel that his blood was off my hands when I learned this;
and I believe I gave Niga a regular hug in that moment of joy.

Then we walked here and there, through the valley, and visited the old
haunts, made memorable by many incidents in that romantic and chivalrous
life of the South. Every one we met had some word to add concerning the
Pride of the Valley, dead in his glorious youth.

Over and over, they assured me of his fidelity to me, his white brother,
adding that Kána-aná had, more than once, expressed the deepest regret
at not having brought me back with him.

He even meditated sending for me, in the same manner that I had sent
for him; and, if he had done so, it was his purpose to see that I was at
once made familiar with their Articles of Faith; for he anticipated a
willing convert in me, and it was the desire of his heart that I should
know that perfect trust, peculiar to his people, and which is begotten
of the brief gospel, so often quoted out of place: namely, that "seeing
is believing."

It was a kind thought of his, and I wish he had carried it into
execution, for then he might have lived. It was his susceptible nature
that had come in contact with the great world, and received its
death-wound. Had I been there to help him, I would have planned
something to divert his mind until he had recovered himself, and was
willing to submit to the monotony of life over yonder. Had he not done
as much for me? Had he not striven, day after day, to charm me with his
barbarism, and come very near to success? I should say he had. Dear
little martyr! was he not the only boy I ever truly loved,--dead now in
his blossoming prime!

O Kána-aná! Little Niga and I sat talking of you, down by the sea, and
we wept for you at last; for the tears came by and by, when I began to
fully realize the greatness of my loss. All your youth, and beauty, and
freshness, in destruction, and your body swallowed up in the graves of
the sea!

The meridian sun blazed overhead, but it made little difference to us.
Afternoon passed, and evening was coming on almost unheeded; for our
thoughts were buried with him, under the waves, and life was nothing to
us, then.

I no longer cared to observe the lights and shadows on the cliffs, nor
the poppy nodding in the wind, nor the seaward prospect: that was
spoiled by our vessel,--the seclusion was broken in upon. I cared for
nothing any longer, for I missed everywhere his step, patient and
faithful as a dog's, and his marvellous face, that could look steadily
at the sun without winking, and deluge itself with laughter all the
while, for there was nothing hidden or corrupting in it.

Presently I returned into the sacred grove, touching the three letters
he had carved there, and calling on his spirit to regard me as
respecting his dumb idols, which were nothing but the representatives of
his jealous gods,--dear to him as the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of
Olives, and the shining summits of Calvary to us. Then down I ran to the
bathing-pools, and from place to place I wandered in a hurried and
nervous tour, for it was growing dark. I saw the ship's lights
flickering over the water, while the first cool whispers of the
night-wind came down from the hills, filling me with warnings; in the
midst of which there was a flash of flame and a sudden, thunderous
report,--enough to awaken the dead of the valley,--and I turned to go.
I believe, if dear Kána-aná had been there, as I prayed he might be, I
would have laughed at that signal, and hastened inland to avoid
discovery; for I was sick of the world. I might have had reason to
regret it afterward, because friendship is not elastic, and the best of
friends cannot long submit to being bored by the best of fellows.
Perhaps it was just as it should be: I had no time to consider the
matter there. I hurried to his mother, and she clung to me; others came
about me, and laid hold of me: so that I feared I should be held captive
until it was too late to board the vessel. Her sails were even then
shaking in the wind; and I heard the faint click of the capstan tugging
at the anchor-chains.

With a quick impulse I broke away from them, and ran to the beach, where
Niga and I entered his canoe, and slid off from the sloping sands. Down
we drifted toward the open sea, while the natives renewed their wailing,
and I was half crazed with sorrow. It is impossible to resist the
persuasive eloquence of their chants. Think, then, with what a troubled
spirit I heard them, as we floated on between the calm stars in the
heavens and the whirling stars in the sea.

We went out to the ship's side, and little Niga was as noisy as any of
them when I pressed upon him a practical memorial of my visit; and away
he drifted into the night, with his boyish babble pitched high and
shrill; and the Present speedily became the Past, and grew old in a
moment.

Then I looked for the last time upon that faint and cloudy picture, and
seemed almost to see the spirit of the departed beckoning to me with
waving arms and imploring looks; and I longed for him with the old
longing, that will never release me from my willing bondage. I blessed
him in his new life, and I rejoiced with exceeding great joy that he was
freed at last from the tyranny of life,--released from the unsolvable
riddles of the ages. The night-wind was laden with music, and sweet with
the odors of ginger and cassia; the spume of the reef was pale as the
milk of the cocoa-nuts, and the blazing embers on shore glowed like old
sacrificial fires.

Then I heard a voice crying out of the shadow,--an ancient and eloquent
voice,--saying: "Behold my fated race! Our days are numbered. Long have
we feasted in the rich presence of a revealed deity. We sat in ashes
under the mute gods of Baal; we fled before the wrath of Moloch, the
destroyer; we were as mighty as the four winds of heaven: but the
profane hand of the Iconoclast has desecrated our temples, and humbled
our majesty in the dust. O impious breakers of idols! Why will ye put
your new wines into these old bottles, that were shaped for spring
waters only, and not for wine at all! Lo! ye have broken them, and the
wine is wasted. Be satisfied, and depart!"

So that spirit of air sang the death-song of his tribe, and the sad
music of his voice rang over the waters like a lullaby.

Then I heard no more, and I said, "My asylum is the great world; my
refuge is in oblivion"; and I turned my face seaward, never again to
dream fondly of my island home; never again to know it as I have known
it; never again to look upon its serene and melancholy beauty: for the
soul of the beloved is transmitted to the vales of rest, and his ashes
are sown in the watery furrows of the deep sea!

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

TABOO.--A FÊTE-DAY IN TAHITI.


It was on one of those vagabond pilgrimages to nowhere in particular,
such as every stranger is bound to make in a strange land, that I first
stumbled upon my royal Jester, better known in Tahiti as Taboo.

Great Jove! what a night it was! A wild ravine full of banyan and
pandanus trees, and of parasite climbers, and the thousand nameless
leafing and blossoming creatures that intermarry to such an alarming
extent in the free-loving tropics, had tempted me to pasture there for a
little while. I was wandering on among roots and trailing branches, and
under ropes upon ropes of flowers that seemed to swing suddenly across
my path on purpose to keep me from finding too easily the secret heart
of the mountain. I felt it was right that I should be made to realize
how sacred a spot that sanctuary of Nature was, but I fretted somewhat
at the persistency of those speechless sentinels who guarded its outer
door so faithfully. There was a waterfall within, that I had prayed to
see,--one of those mysterious waterfalls that descend noiselessly from
the bosom of a cloud, stealing over cushions of moss, like a ray of
light in a dream, or something else equally intangible.

You never find this sort of waterfall in the common way. No one can
exactly point it out to you; but you must search for it yourself, and
listen for its voice,--and usually listen in vain,--till, suddenly, you
come upon it in a moment, almost as if by accident; and its whole
quivering length glitters and glistens with jewels, where it hangs, like
a necklace, on the bosom of a great cliff. It is the only visible chain
that binds earth to heaven; and no wonder you gaze at it with
questioning eyes!

Well, while I was looking about me, expecting every moment to feel the
damp breath of the waterfall upon my forehead, night came down. Where
was I? In the midst of a pathless forest; between cliffs whose sleek,
mossy walls were so steep as to forbid even the goat's sharp hoof. Down
the hollow of the ravine, among round, slippery rocks, and between
trellises of giant roots, tumbled a mountain torrent. No human form
visible, probably none to be looked for on that side of the inaccessible
dome of the mountain; yet fearlessly I toiled on, knowing that food and
shelter were on every side, and that no hand, whose clasp was as fervent
as the clasp of the vine itself, would be raised against me; and, thank
Heaven! outsiders were scarce.

In the midst of the narrowing chasm, with the night thickening, and the
wood growing more and more objectionable, I heard a sound as of
stumbling feet before me. My first thought was of _color_! I would
scarcely trust a White Man in that predicament. What well-disposed White
would be prowling, like a wild animal, alone in a forest at night? It
occurred to me that I was white, or had passed as such; but I know
and have always known that, inwardly, I am purple-blooded, and
supple-limbed, and invisibly tattooed after the manner of my lost tribe!
I was startled at the sound, and slackened my pace to listen: the
footsteps paused with mine. I plunged forward, accusing the Echoes of
playing me false. Again the mysterious one rushed awkwardly on before
me, with footfalls that were not like mine, nor like any that I could
trace: they were neither brute nor human, but fell clumsily among the
roots and stones, out of time with me; therefore, no echo, and beyond my
reckoning entirely.

At this hour the moon, of a favorable size, looked over the cliff,
flooding the chasm with her soft light. I rejoiced at it, and hoped for
a revelation of the Unknown, whose tottering steps had mocked mine for
half an hour.

We were in the midst of a dense grove of breadfruit-trees. Scarcely a
ray of light penetrated their thick-woven branches; but, against the
faint light of the open distance, I marked the weird outline of one who
might once have been human, but was no longer a tolerable image of his
Maker. The figure was like the opposite halves of two men bodily joined
together in an amateur attempt at human grafting. The trunk was curved
the wrong way; a great shoulder bullied a little shoulder, and kept it
decidedly under; a long leg walked right around a short leg that was
perpetually sitting itself down on invisible seats, or swinging itself
for the mere pleasure of it. One arm clutched a ten-foot bamboo about
three inches in diameter, and wielded it as though it were a bishop's
crook, and something to be proud of; the other arm--it must have
belonged to a child when it stopped growing--was hooked up over one ear,
looking as though it had been badly wired by some medical student, and
was worn as a lasting reproach to him. A shaggy head was set on the
down-slope of the big shoulder, and seemed to be continually looking
over the little shoulder and under the little arm for some one always
expected, but who was very long in coming.

Upon this startling discovery I turned to flee, but the figure
immediately followed. It was evidently too late to escape an interview,
and, taking heart, I walked toward it, when, to my amazement, it hastily
staggered away from me, looking always over its shoulder, quickening its
pace with mine, slackening its speed with me, and keeping, or seeking to
keep, within a certain distance of me all the while. My curiosity was
excited, and, as I saw it bore me no ill-will, I made a quick plunge
forward, hoping to capture it. With an energetic effort it strove to
escape me; but, with the head turned the wrong way, it stumbled blindly
into a bit of jungle, where it lay whining piteously. I assisted it to
its feet, with what caution and tenderness I could, and, finding it
still wary, walked on slowly, leading the way to the edge of the grove,
where the moonlight was almost as radiant as the dawn. It followed me
like a dog, and was evidently grateful for my company. I walked slowly
that it might not stumble, and, as we emerged from the shadow of the
breadfruits, I manoeuvered so as to bring its face toward the moonlight,
and I saw--a hideous visage, with all its features sliding to one
corner; and nothing but the two soft, sleepy-looking eyes saved me from
yielding to the disgust that its whole presence awakened. As it was, I
involuntarily started back with a shudder, and a slight exclamation that
attracted its attention. "Taboo! Taboo!" moaned the poor creature, half
in introduction, half in apology and explanation.

He was well named the "forbidden one": set apart from all his fellows;
incapable of utterance; maimed in body; an outcast among his own people;
homeless, yet at home everywhere; friendless, though welcomed by all for
his entertaining and ludicrous simplicity; feeding, like the birds, from
Nature's lap, and, like the birds, left to the winds and waters for
companionship.

Somehow I felt that Taboo could lead me at once to the waterfall; and I
tried to seek out the small door to his brain, and impress him with my
anxiety to reach the place. O, what darkness was there, and what doubts
and fears seemed to cloud the hidden portals of his soul! He made an
uncouth noise for me. Perhaps he meant it as music: it was frightful to
hear it up there in the mountain solitudes. He got me fruits and a
little water in the palm of his hand, which he expected me to drink with
a relish. He lay down at my feet in a broken heap of limbs, crooning
complacently. He was playful and thoughtful alternately; at least, he
lost himself in long silences from time to time, while his eyes glowed
with a deep inward light, that almost made me hope to startle his reason
from its dreadful sleep; but a single word broke the spell, and set him
to laughing as though he would go all to pieces; and his joy was more
pitiful than his sorrow.

In one of his silent moods he suddenly staggered to his feet, and
shambled into a narrow trail to one side of the gorge. I wondered at his
unexpected impulse, and feared that he had grown tired of me already,
preferring the society of his feathered comrades, a few of whom sounded
their challenge-note, that soared like silver arrows in the profound
stillness of the ravine. It seemed not, however: in a few moments he
returned, and signalled me with his expressive grunt, and I followed
him. Through thickets of fern, arching high over our heads, down spongy
dells, and over rims of rock jutting from the base of the mountain,
Taboo and I clambered in the warm moonlight. Anon we came upon a
barricade of bamboos, growing like pickets set one against another. I
know not how broad the thicket might have been,--possibly as broad as
the ravine itself,--but into the thick of it Taboo edged himself; and
close upon his heels I followed. In a few moments we had crushed our way
through the midst of the bamboos, that clashed together after us so that
a bird might not have tracked us, and lo! a crystal pool in the heart of
a wonderful garden; and to it, silently, from heaven itself descended
that mysterious waterfall, whose actual existence I had seriously begun
to question. It lay close against the breast of the mountain, strangely
pale in the full glow of the moon, while, like a vein of fire, it seemed
to throb from end to end; or like a shining thread with great pearls
slipping slowly down its full length, taking the faint hues of the
rainbow as they fell, playing at prisms, until my eyes, weary of
watching, closed of their own accord. I sank down by Taboo, who was
sleeping soundly in the hollow of a great tree; and the one cover for
both of us was the impenetrable shadow that is never lifted from that
silent sanctuary of the Most High.

The sky was as saffron when we woke from our out-of-door sleep, and the
whole atmosphere was less poetical and impressive than on the night
previous. Stranger than all else, there was no visible trace of the
mysterious waterfall. I even began to question my own senses, and
thought it possible that I had been dreaming. Yet there sat Taboo in his
frightful imperfection, as happy and indifferent as possible. Of course,
he could tell me nothing of the magical waters. He had doubtless already
forgotten the episode of the hour previous. He lived for the solitary
moment, and his mind seemed unable to grasp the secrets of ten seconds
on either side of his narrow present. In fact, he was playing with
a splendid lizard when I returned from my brief and fruitless
reconnoissance; and as I came up he wondered at me, as he never ceased
to wonder, with fresh bewilderment, whenever I came back to him, after
never so brief an absence.

I soon learned to play upon Taboo's one stop; to point a finger at him,
and bore imaginary auger-holes right into him anywhere; for he always
winced and whined, like a very baby, and yielded at once to my
pantomimic suggestion. But what a wreck was here! A delicate instrument,
full of rifts and breakages, with that single key readily answerable to
the slightest touch of my will. I have often wished that it had been a
note more deep, profound, or sympathetic. It was simply merry and
shrill, and incapable of any modulation whatever. Point a finger at
him, make a few coils in the air that grow to a focus as they draw
nearer to him, and he would run over with uncontrollable jollity that
was at times a little painful in its boisterousness.

I knew well enough that I had sucked the honey from that particular cell
in the mountain, and that I might as well resume my pilgrimage. There
was to be a _Fête Napoléon_ in Papeete. We hadn't heard, up to that
hour, of the wreck of the great Empire, and, being in a loyal French
colony, it behooved us to have the very best time possible. Said I to
myself, "Taboo will find sufficient food for merriment in our mode of
_fêting_ an Emperor; therefore Taboo shall go with me to town and enjoy
himself." I suggested an immediate adjournment to Papeete with the tip
of my forefinger, whereat Taboo doubled up, as usual, and, in his own
fashion, implored me to stop being so funny. We at once started;
returning through the bamboo-brakes, fording the stream in some awkward
way, and slowly working our passage back to town.

The Tahitians have but one annual holiday. As this, however, is
seventy-two hours in length, while everything relating to it is broad in
proportion, it is about as much as they can conscientiously ask for.

Taboo and I entered the town on the eve of the first day, together with
multitudes from the neighboring districts, flocking thither in their
best clothes. The lovely bay of Papeete was covered with fleets of
canoes, hailing from all the seaside villages on the island, and many of
them from Moorea, and islands even more distant. No sea is too broad to
be compassed by an ambitious Kanack, who scents a festival from afar.

Along the crescent shores of the bay, the canoes were heaped, tier upon
tier. It was as though a whole South Sea navy had been stranded, for the
town was crowded with canoe-boys and all manner of natives, in gala
dress. The incessant rolling of drums, the piping of bamboo-flutes, and
the choruses of wandering singers began early in the dawn of the 14th
August, and were expected to continue, uninterruptedly, to the evening
of the 16th. Taboo regarded it all with singular indifference. Everybody
seemed to know him, and to take particular delight in greeting him. His
sleepy disregard of them was considered extremely laughable, and they
went their way roaring with merriment, that contrasted strongly with the
grave, listless face of the simple one, who was apparently oblivious of
everything.

The morning after we appeared in Papeete was Sunday, according to the
calendar. The little cathedral, with banana-leaves rustling in the open
windows, was thronged with worshippers of all colors, doubly devout in
the excessive heat. Various choirs relieved one another during Mass,
and some diminutive fellows, under ten years of age, chanted Latin hymns
in a pleasingly plaintive voice, led by a friar in long clothes and a
choker. Taboo crouched by the open door during service, raking the
gravel-walk with his crooked fingers, and hitching about with
indefatigable industry. After the last gospel, we all went into the
middle of the street--for there were no sidewalks--and got our boots
very dusty. Little knots of friends seemed to sit down in the way
wherever they pleased, and to talk as long as they liked; while
everybody else accommodatingly turned out for them, or paused, and
listened to the conversation, without embarrassment on either side.
Liquor was imbibed on the sly; some eyes were beginning to swim
perceptibly, and some tongues to wag faster and looser than ever. The
Admiral's flagship was one pyramid of gorgeous bunting, and his band
delighted a great audience, gathered upon the shore, with a _matinée_
gratis. At sunset the imperial batteries belched their sulphurous
thunder, that came as near to breaking the sabbath as possible. In the
evening more music, up at the Governor's garden,--waltzes, polkas, and
quadrilles, so brilliantly executed that the listeners were half mad
with delight; and you couldn't for the life of you tell what day it had
been, nor what night it was, but Sunday was positively set down against
it in the calendar. At ten P. M. a signal-gun says "Good-night" to the
citizens of Papeete, and it behooves all those who are dark-skinned to
retire instantly, on pain of arrest and a straw-heap in the calaboose.

In the midst of our Sunday festival, while yet the streets were
hilarious, slap-bang went this impudent piece of ordnance, and at once
the crowd began to disperse in the greatest confusion. Taboo, who had
been an inanimate spectator during the day's diversions, seemed to
comprehend the necessity of hasty flight to some quarter or other; and,
with a confusion of ideas peculiar to him, he began careering in great
circles through the swaying multitudes, and continued to revolve around
an uncertain centre, until I seized him and sought to pilot him to some
convenient place of shelter. I thought of the great market, that, like
those ancient cities of refuge, was always open to the benighted
wanderer; and thither we hastened. A lofty roof, covering a good part of
a block, kept the rain from a vast enclosure, stored with stalls,
tables, and benches. It was simply shelter of the barest kind, but
sufficient for all needs in that charitable climate. There was a buzzing
of turbulent throngs as we edged our way toward the centre of the
market-place; you would think that all the bees of Tahiti were swarming
in unison, from the noise thereof. The commotion was long in quieting.
It had to subside like the sea at flood-tide. Every little while a brace
of _gendarmes_ strutted past the premises, feeling mighty fine in their
broad white pants, like a ship with studding-sails out, and with those
comical bobtails sprouting out of the small of their backs. I know that
Taboo and I, having laid ourselves on somebody's counter, listened and
nudged each other for two or three hours, and that it began to feel like
morning before there was sleep enough to go entirely around the
establishment.

The man who is the first to wake in Papeete lights his lamp and goes to
market. As soon as he makes his untimely appearance, the community
begins to stir; a great clatter of drowsy voices and dozens of yawns are
the symptoms of returning day; and in ten minutes the market is declared
open, though it is still deep and tranquil starlight overhead, with not
a trace of dawn as yet visible.

When the market opens before 3 A. M.--and the hour happens to be the
blackest of the four-and-twenty--it is highly inconvenient for any
foreigner and his royal jester who may be surreptitiously passing the
night upon one of the fruit counters, but there is no help for them:
sleepy heads give way to fresh-gathered bread-fruits and nets of
fragrant oranges; bananas are swung up within tempting reach of
everybody; all sorts of natives come in from the four quarters of the
Papeetean globe, with back-loads of miscellaneous viands, a mat under
one arm, and a flaming torch in hand. Rows upon rows of girls sell
fruits and flowers to the highest bidder; withering old women haggle
over the prices of their perfumed and juicy wares; solitary men offer
their solitary strings of fish for a _real_ each, and refuse to be
beaten down by any wretch of a fellow who dares to insinuate that the
fish are a trifle too scaly; boys sit demurely over their meagre array
of temptations in the shape of six tomatoes, three eggs, a dozen or so
of guavas, and one cucumber. These youngsters usually sit with a
passionless countenance that forbids any hope of a bargain at reduced
prices, and they pass an hour or two with scarce a suggestion of custom;
but it is suddenly discovered that they have something desirable, and a
dozen purchasers begin quarrelling for it, during which time some one
else quietly makes his purchase from one corner of the boy's mat; and,
having closed out his stock in less than ten minutes, he quietly pockets
his _reales_, and departs without having uttered a syllable.

Taboo and I went from one mat to another, eying the good things for
breakfast. I offered him the best that the market afforded; and I could
easily do so, for in no land is the article cheaper or better. Taboo,
having made the circuit of the entire establishment, upon mature
deliberation concluded to take nothing. At every point he was greeted
uproariously by the noisy and good-natured people, who were willing to
give him anything he might choose to take. They, probably, felt that it
was worth more than the price of the article to see the sublime scorn on
the poor fellow's face as he declined their limes, _feis_, mangoes, or
whatever delicious morsel it might have been. As for me, I couldn't
resist those seductions. I made my little purchases and withdrew to the
seaside, where I could break my fast by sunrise, and enjoy comparative
quiet. Taboo grinned in the market-place till he was weary of the
applause showered upon him by the ungodly, who made light of his
irreparable misfortune and took pleasure in his misery. He hunted me up,
or, rather, stumbled upon me again, and stayed by me, amusing himself
with pelting the fish that sported, like sunbeams and prisms, in the sea
close at our feet.

It was _fête_-day in Tahiti. I sat, at sunrise, by the tideless margin
of a South Sea lagoon, bristling with coral and glittering with gem-like
fish; in either hand I held a mango and banana. I raised the mango to my
lips. What a marvel it was! A plump vegetable egg, full of delusion, and
stuffed with a horny seed nearly as large as itself. It had a fragrance
as of oils and sirups; it purged sweet-scented and resinous gums. Its
hide was, perhaps, too tough for convenience, but its inner lusciousness
tempted me to persevere in the consumption of it. With much difficulty I
broke the skin. Honey of Hymettus! It seemed as though the very marrow
of the tropics were about to intoxicate my palate. Alas, for the hopes
of youthful inexperience! What was so fair to see proved but a meagre
mouthful of saturated wool; that colossal and horny seed asserted itself
everywhere. The more I strove to handle it with caution, the more
slippery and unmanageable it became. It shot into my beard, it leaped
lightly into my shirt-bosom, and skated over the palms of both hands.
Small rivulets of liquor trickled down my sleeves, making disagreeable
puddles at both elbows. My fingers were webbed together in a glutinous
mass. My whole front was in a shocking state of smear. My teeth grew
weary of combing out the beguiling threads of the fruit. The thing
seemed, to my imagination, a small, flat head, covered with short, blond
hair, profusely saturated with some sweet sort of ointment, that I had
despaired of feasting on; and I was not sorry when the slippery stone
sprang out of my grasp, and peppered itself with sea-sand.

I knew that there still remained to me a morsel that was of itself fit
food for the gods. I poised aloft, with satisfaction, the rare-ripe
banana, beautiful to the eye as a nugget of purest gold. The pliant
petals were pouting at the top of the fruit. I readily turned them back,
forming an unique and convenient gilded salver for the column of flaky
manna that was, as yet, swathed in lace like folds. These gauzy ribbons
fell from it almost of their own accord, and hung in fleecy festoons
about it.

Here was a repast of singularly appropriate mould, being about the size
of a respectable mouth, and containing just enough mouthfuls to
temporarily satisfy the appetite. Not a morsel of it but was full of
mellowness, and sweet flavor, and fragrance. Not an atom of it was
wasted; for, no sooner had I thrown aside the cool, clean, flesh-like
case, than it was made way with by a fowl, that had, no doubt, been
patiently awaiting that abundant feast.

Mangoes and bananas! Their very names smack of shady gardens, that know
no harsher premonition of death than the indolent and natural decay of
all things. The nostril is excited with the thought of them; the palate
grows moist and yearns for them; and the soul feasts itself, for a
moment, with a memory of mangoes and bananas past, whose perfection was
but another proof of immortality, since it is impossible ever to forget
them individually. Mangoes and bananas! the prime favorites at Nature's
most bountiful board; the realization of a dream of the orchards of the
Hesperides; alike excellent, yet so vastly dissimilar in their
excellences, it seems almost incredible that the same beneficent
Providence can have created the two fruits!

It was the memorable 15th of August, 1870; but I have reason to believe
the bananas were no better on that particular occasion than almost
always in their own latitude. The 15th of August, --where was the
Emperor then? I forget; I know that we rejoiced in the blissful
confidence that we were to have a grand time at all hazards. There were
guns at sunrise from ship and shore; a grand national procession of
French and Tahitians to High Mass at 10.30; guns--twenty-one of
them--together with the ringing of bells, and a salute of flags, at the
elevation of the Host, so that you would have known the supreme moment
had you been miles away. Then came a sumptuous public breakfast for the
Frenchmen; and for the natives, games of several sorts.

Taboo and I, having properly observed the more solemn ceremonials of the
day, gave ourselves up to the full enjoyment of these latter diversions.
There was a greased pole, with shining cups; and flowing prints, both
useful and ornamental, hung at the top of it. Several naked and superbly
built fellows shinned up it with infinite difficulty, and were so
fatigued when they got there, they were only too willing to clutch the
first article within reach, which was, of course, the least desirable,
and scarcely worth the trouble of getting. O, such magnificent grouping
at the foot of the pole, as the athletes shouldered one another in a
sort of co-operative experiment at getting up sooner; such struggles to
rise a little above the heads of the impatient climbers beneath as made
the aspiring Kanack quite pale,--that is, greenish yellow; such losing
of grips, and fainting of hearts, and slidings back to earth in the
midst of taunts and jeers, but all in the best of humors and the hottest
of suns! such novelties as these were a very great delight to Taboo and
myself. He, however, didn't deign to laugh heartily: he merely smiled in
a superior manner that seemed to imply that he knew of something that
was twice as much fun and not half the trouble, but he didn't choose to
disclose it. He nearly always seemed to know as much as any ten of us;
and it was like an assumption of innocence, that queer, vacant
expression of his face. I'm not sure that he was not possessed of some
rare instinct beyond our comprehension, which was to him an abundant
compensation for the fragmentary body he was obliged to trundle about.

Early in the afternoon, there were fresh arrivals in the bay: two
mammoth double war-canoes, of fifty paddles each, came in from a remote
sea-district; they were the very sort of water-monsters that went out to
greet my illustrious predecessor, Captain Cook, nearly a century ago.
Taboo and I were only too glad to sit meekly among the ten thousand
spectators that blackened the great sweep of the shore, while these
savages matched their prowess. With one vigorous plunge of the paddles
the canoes sprang from the beach into the watery arena. How strange they
looked! Long, low sides, scarce eight inches above water, and stained
like fish-scales; big, yawning jaws in their snakelike heads, and the
tail of a dragon in their wakes; every man of the hundred stripped to
the skin and bareheaded; their brawny bodies glistening in the sun as
though they had been oiled, while, with mechanical accuracy, the crews
beat the water with their paddles, and chanted their guttural chants,
with the sea flashing and foaming under them. The race was a tie;
perhaps it was fortunate that it proved so. I fear if one crew had
beaten the other crew the breadth of a paddle, that other would have
lain to and eaten that one right under our very eyes. They had their
songs of triumph, both sounding the chorus, during which they drummed
with their paddles on the sides of their canoes, till the frail things
shivered and groaned in genuine misery. Then they renewed the race,
because they couldn't possibly be still for a moment; and they looked
like a brace of mastodon-centipedes trying to get out of the water, with
death hissing in their throats.

The evening of the great day was drawing to a close. Taboo and I again
went out into the narrow, green lanes of Papeete, seeking what we might
devour with all our eyes and ears. They were very charming, those long
arbors of densely leaved trees, with little tropical vignettes set in
the farther end of them. It was almost like getting a squint through the
wrong end of a telescope, pointed toward some fairy-land or other. As it
grew dark, a thousand ready hands began illuminating the avenues that
lead to the Governor's house. Up and down its deep veranda swung ropes
of lanterns; and as the guards at the garden-gate presented arms at the
approach of the Admiral, or some distinguished and decorated foreigner,
the strains of Strauss, deliciously played, filled the illuminated grove
with an air of romance that was very Oriental in its mellowness, and
quickened every foot that was so happy as to touch the soil of Tahiti in
so fortunate an hour. On every part of the public lawns the revels were
conducted after the native fashion. Bands of singers and dancers sang
and danced in the streets, and were frequently rewarded with liberal
potations. Taboo looked on as amiably as usual, and for some time as
passively also; but there was something intoxicating in the air, and it
began to have a visible effect upon him. It was not long before he
strove to emulate the singers. St. Cecilia! what a song was his! I could
scarcely endure to hear that royal Jester striving to tune his
inharmonious voice to the glib, though monotonous Tahitian madrigals. I
walked away by myself, or rather went into another part of the village,
and sought a change of scene; for there was no seclusion to be hoped for
on a _fête_-night.

From the Governor's halls came the entrancing harmony of flutes and
harps; from every lane and alley the piping of nose-fifes and the
droning of nasal chorals; from the sea rolled in the deep, hoarse
booming of the reef, the rhythmical plash of oars, or the clear,
prolonged cry of some one in the watery distance hailing some one close
at hand. Even so savage and picturesque a spectacle as this grew
wearisome after a time, and I turned my steps toward a place of shelter,
and suggested to myself sleep.

In one lane was a throng of natives, wilder in their demonstrations of
joy than all the others. My curiosity was excited, and I hastened to
join them. Having with some difficulty wedged my way into the front row
of spectators, I beheld the subject of their riotous applause. In the
centre of a small ring was an ungainly figure, writhing in grotesque
contortions; tom-toms were being beaten with diabolical energy and
wildness; flutes and shrill voices were chiming in rapid and bewildering
chromatics; the audience--the half-crazed and utterly inhuman
audience--gloated over the shocking spectacle with devilish delight. In
one moment I comprehended all: Taboo, overcome by the general and
unusual excitement, had succumbed to its depraving influences; and,
unable longer to control himself, he was broadly burlesquing, in his
helplessness, one of the national dances. Music had at last reached his
impenetrable soul, awakened his long-slumbering sympathies, and found
him her willing slave. A pity that some diviner strain had not first led
him captive, that he might have been spared this disgrace!

I saw his unhappy body ambling to the shame of all. I saw those pitiful,
unshapen shoulders undulating in vain attempts at passional expression;
the helpless arm waving at every movement of the body, while the
withered hand spun like a whirligig above his ears; his eyes, having
lost their accustomed mild light, stared distractedly about, seeking
rescue and protection, as I thought. In a few moments I attracted his
notice, though he seemed but partly to recognize me. There was his usual
uncertain recognition grown more doubtful,--nay, even hopeless,--as his
face betrayed. Again I caught his eye: I felt that but one course was
left me, and at once I aimed my finger at him. He winced in his
delirious dance. I coiled it round and round, weaving airy circle within
circle; quicker and quicker I wove my spell, and at last shot the whole
hand at him, as though I would run him through. He doubled, like one
struck with a fatal blow, and went to the ground all of a senseless
heap. There was a disturbance in the audience. Some of them thought I
had bewitched Taboo; and it behooved me to go at once, rather than seek
to make explanation of the singular result of my presence there. I went,
and spent a dull night, accusing myself of being the possible spiritual
murderer of Taboo. I had no business to bring him to the metropolis at
that unfortunate season; I had no right to leave him with his traducers:
and that was the whole statement of the case.

The last day of the _fête_ was, of course, less joyous to me. A score of
nameless nags were to be ridden by light weights in breech-cloths; and I
sought consolation in the prospect of seeing some bewitching
horsemanship. The track, in use but once every twelvemonth, and yielding
annually a young orchard of guava-trees, presented to the astonished
gaze of the foreign sporting-gentleman who happened to be on the
ground--if, indeed, there was such a one present--a half-mile course,
with numerous stones and hollows relieving its surface, while the rope
that enclosed it kept giving way every few moments, letting in a mixed
multitude among the half-broken horses.

The Queen was present at the races,--Pomare, whose life has been one
long, sorrowful romance; the Admiral was also there; and many a petty
officer, with abundant gilt and tinsel. At a signal from the trumpeter
the horses were entered unannounced, and everybody betted wildly. One
little African jockey, mounted upon the cleverest piece of flesh and
blood in the field, called for the larger stakes; and he would certainly
have won, but for an unavoidable accident: the little African was
pressing in on the home-stretch, and everything looked lovely for the
winning mare, when, unluckily, she put her nigh leg in a crab-hole, and
snapped her shin-bone square off. The undaunted little African tried his
best to finish the heat on his own responsibility, and went off into the
air in fine style, but missed his calculation, and burrowed about three
lengths from the goal. His neck was driven in nearly up to the ears, and
the mare had to be shot; but the races went mercilessly on until a
tremendous thunder-storm flooded the track and washed the population
back to town. Dance after dance consumed the afternoon hours; and song
upon song, eternally reiterated, finally failed to create any special
enthusiasm.

I saw no further traces of Taboo. Again and again I followed knots of
the curious into the larger native houses, where the lascivious dances
were given with the utmost _abandon_; thither--I suspected--Taboo would
most likely be impelled, for the music was wilder and the applause more
boisterous and unrestrained.

The evening of the last day of the _fête_ was darkening; most people
were growing a little weary of the long-drawn festivities; many had
succumbed to their fatigue, and slept by the wayside, or, it may be,
they had known too well the nature of the Tahitian juices, such as no
man may drink and not fall!

The palace of Pomare--a great, hollow, incomplete shell, whose windows
have never been glazed, and whose doors have never been hung--was the
scene of the concluding ceremonials of the season. The long verandas
were thickly hung with numberless paper-lanterns, swinging continually
in the soft night-winds that stole down from the star-lit slopes of
Fautahua; the broad lawns in front of the palace were blocked out in
squares, like the map of a liliputian city. Each one of these plats was
set apart for a band of singers, and there were as many bands as
districts in Tahiti and Moorea, together with delegations from islands
more remote. Soon the choruses began to assemble. Choirs of fifty voices
each, male and female, led by tight-headed drums and screaming fifes,
drew toward the palace-gardens, and were formally admitted by the proper
authorities, who were very much swollen with the pomp of office and,
perhaps, a little sprinkle of the exhilarating accompaniments of the
season. One after another the white-robed processions approached,--each
fresh arrival looking more like the chorus in "Norma" than the last,
though it then seemed impossible that any Druid could presume to appear
more gracefully ghostlike. Each singer wore a plume of cocoa-leaves,
whose feathers were more lovely than the downy wands of the ostrich.
They were made of knots of long, slender ribbons, softer than satin,
veined like clouded silver, as transparent as the clearest isinglass,
and as delicate as the airiest gauze.

Out of the core of the palm-tree, in the midst of its rich, dark mass of
foliage, springs a tuft of leaves as tender as the first sprouts of a
lily-bulb. These budding leaves are carefully removed, split edgewise,
and the enamelled sheets laid open to the sun; then, with the
thumb-nail, passed skilfully over the inner surface, a filmy membrane is
separated, and spread in the air to dry. A single tree yields but a
small cluster of these pale, cloud-like leaves, scarcely a handful in
all, yet the tree withers when they pluck the heart of it. It is the
very soul of the Southern palm, with every leaf spiritualized, and
looking vapory as tangible moonlight.

The leader of the concert having challenged the choruses from the
veranda of the palace, at once twenty choirs struck into their
particular anthem with the utmost zeal. A discord about six acres in
extent was the result. It seemed as though each choir was seeking whom
it might drown out with superior vocal compass and volume. With much
difficulty the several bands of singers were persuaded to await their
turn for a _solo_ effort that might be listened to with no small degree
of pleasure. From time to time, during the entire evening, some
obstreperous chorus would break loose, spite of every precaution; and it
had always to sing itself out before order could be restored. Taboo
would have thoroughly enjoyed those two thousand singers, each singing
his or her favorite roundelay, independent of all laws of time and
melody. He might have been there, as it was, offering his inharmonious
chant with the mob of contestants.

By the time the series of prize-songs had been sung, the sky grew
cloudy, and the torches began to flicker in the increasing wind; a few
great drops of rain spat down in the midst of the singers, and the reef
moaned loudly, like the baying of signal-guns. It was ominous of coming
storms. At the climax of a choral revolution, in which every man's voice
seemed raised against his neighbor's, a roar as of approaching armies
was heard, mingled with the accompanying crash of artillery. A sudden
puff of wind extinguished the major part of the torches, and wrecked
many of the lanterns in the palace porch. It was simply a tropical
shower in all its magnificence; but it was enough! The _fête_ concluded
then and there, in the promptest manner. The narrow streets of Papeete
were clogged with retreating hosts, who continually shouted a sort of
general adieu to everybody, as they gathered their skirts about them,
and, with shoes in hand, turned their bare feet homeward.

Since the end had at last come, and I had no further claims upon the
people, nor the people upon me,--if, indeed, either of us were ever
anything in particular to one another,--I drifted with the majority, and
soon found myself in the suburban wilderness that girdles the small
capital of the queendom. I wandered on till the noise of the revellers
grew more and more indistinct. They were scattering themselves over the
length and breadth of the island, carrying their songs with them. Now
and then a fresh gust of wind bore down to me an echo of a refrain that
had grown familiar during the days of the _fête_, and will not soon be
forgotten; but the past was rapidly fading, and the necessities of the
future began to present themselves with unusual boldness. Instinctively
I turned into the winding trail that once before had led me toward that
mysterious mountain sacristy, over whose font fell the spiritual and
dreamlike rivulet whose baptismal virtues Taboo and I had sought
together. I felt certain that I could find it without guidance; for the
broken clouds let slip such floods of moonlight as made day of darkness,
and rendered the smallest landmark easily distinguishable.

I paused for rest in the breadfruit grove where first I met with
my weird companion. Presently I resumed my pilgrimage, wending my
way toward the slender path that led through fern, forest, and
bamboo-jungle, to the crystal lake and waterfall. In vain I sought it;
the slightest traces of the trail seemed obliterated. I wandered up and
down the winding way, till I was in despair of finding the slightest
clew to the mystery. I sat down and thought how a slight accident of
forgetfulness was lending a sense of enchantment to the whole valley,
when I heard a stumbling step, too marked to be soon forgotten. I crept
into a shadow, and awaited the approach of the solitary wanderer. How he
tottered as he drew near! He seemed to have lost part of his small skill
since I last saw him. He was laughing quietly to himself while he
journeyed: perhaps some memory of the _fête_ still pleased him. He
passed me, unconscious of my presence. I ran cautiously, and followed
him at a safe distance. We threaded the old path, by stream and cliff
and brake, and, after a little, reached the secluded and silent borders
of the lake. Once or twice he had heard me as I brushed past the bamboos
or a twig snapped under foot, but those forest-sounds scarcely
disconcerted him; he was too well used to them. He paused at the margin
of the lake, stooped awkwardly and drank of it, went a little to one
side where an outlet fed the torrent we had forded some distance down
the valley, and there he bathed. Having started once or twice, as though
with some remembered and definite purpose, he paused a moment or two,
looked about him helplessly, and returned to the foot of the great tree
where we slept the first night of our acquaintance.

There was a faint suggestion of the fall across the sombre breast of the
cliff opposite, but whether it were real or a delusion, I could scarcely
determine. Taboo was soon asleep among the roots of the banyan; and I,
weary of seeking some revelation of the island mysteries, lay down near
him, and gradually sank into unconsciousness. Once in the night I awoke:
the clouds had blown over, and the moon was more resplendent than I ever
remember to have seen it. Out on the mossy rim of the lake stood Taboo,
gazing wistfully upon the mountains. Instinctively my eyes followed his,
and there I beheld the waterfall in all its glory, leaping, like a ray
of light, from the bosom of the sky. I could scarcely determine whether
or no it really fell into the lake, for the foliage about its shores was
too profuse. It flashed like handfuls of diamond-dust thrown into the
light, and descended as noiselessly and airily as vapor.

The clouds soon gathered again. I slept, overcome with weariness; and
when I awoke at dawn, Taboo was missing, as well as all traces of the
fall. This, however, scarcely surprised me, for I had grown to look upon
it as some lunar effect that came and went with the increasing or
decreasing splendor of the moon; or it might have been the short-lived
offspring of the showers that sweep over the island at uncertain
intervals. It was probably the only dramatic result to be looked for in
the career of Taboo. You never can depend upon one of those veering
minds, whose north-star has burned out in oblivion. I believe it was his
destiny to disappear with that rainbow, and, perhaps, return with it
when the fall should noiselessly steal down the mountain once more.

He may have had an object in secreting himself for a season; perhaps he
was renewing his youthful innocence in some more solitary spot. He may
have gone apart to laugh by the hour at the folly of the foreigners who
_fête_ a disgraced emperor; or was he making his queer noises to hear
the queerer echoes that came back to him, and all the while caring no
more for life or death than a parrot or a magpie, or even a poor,
half-shapen soul,--one of those sacred idiots that have found
worshippers before now, and never yet failed to awaken a chord of
sympathy in the heart that is fashioned after the Divine pattern of the
Son of God?

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

JOE OF LAHAINA.


I.

I was stormed in at Lahaina. Now, Lahaina is a little slice of
civilization, beached on the shore of barbarism. One can easily stand
that little of it, for brown and brawny heathendom becomes more
wonderful and captivating by contrast. So I was glad of dear, drowsy,
little Lahaina; and was glad, also, that she had but one broad street,
which possibly led to destruction, and yet looked lovely in the
distance. It didn't matter to me that the one broad street had but one
side to it; for the sea lapped over the sloping sands on its lower edge,
and the sun used to set right in the face of every solitary citizen of
Lahaina, just as he went to supper.

I was waiting to catch a passage in a passing schooner, and that's why I
came there; but the schooner flashed by us in a great gale from the
south, and so I was stormed in indefinitely.

It was Holy Week, and I concluded to go to housekeeping, because it
would be so nice to have my frugal meals in private, to go to mass and
vespers daily, and then to come back and feel quite at home. My villa
was suburban,--built of dried grasses on the model of a haystack, dug
out in the middle, with doors and windows let into the four sides
thereof. It was planted in the midst of a vineyard, with avenues
stretching in all directions, under a network of stems and tendrils.

    "Her breath is sweeter than the sweet winds
    That breathe over the grape-blossoms of Lahaina."

So the song said; and I began to think upon the surpassing sweetness of
that breath, as I inhaled the sweet winds of Lahaina, while the
wilderness of its vineyards blossomed like the rose. I used to sit in my
veranda and turn to Joe (Joe was my private and confidential servant),
and I would say to Joe, while we scented the odor of grape, and saw the
great banana-leaves waving their cambric sails, and heard the sea
moaning in the melancholy distance,--I would say to him, "Joe,
housekeeping _is_ good fun, isn't it?" Whereupon Joe would utter a sort
of unanimous Yes, with his whole body and soul; so that question was
carried triumphantly, and we would relapse into a comfortable silence,
while the voices of the wily singers down on the city front would
whisper to us, and cause us to wonder what they could possibly be doing
at that moment in the broad way that led to destruction. Then we would
take a drink of cocoa-milk, and finish our bananas, and go to bed,
because we had nothing else to do.

This is the way that we began our co-operative housekeeping: One night,
when there was a riotous sort of a festival off in a retired valley, I
saw, in the excited throng of natives who were going mad over their
national dance, a young face that seemed to embody a whole tropical
romance. On another night, when a lot of us were bathing in the
moonlight, I saw a figure so fresh and joyous that I began to realize
how the old Greeks could worship mere physical beauty and forget its
higher forms. Then I discovered that face on this body,--a rare enough
combination,--and the whole constituted Joe, a young scapegrace who was
schooling at Lahaina, under the eye--not a very sharp one--of his uncle.
When I got stormed in, and resolved on housekeeping for a season, I took
Joe, bribing his uncle to keep the peace, which he promised to do,
provided I gave bonds for Joe's irreproachable conduct while with me. I
willingly gave bonds--verbal ones--for this was just what I wanted of
Joe: namely, to instil into his youthful mind those counsels which, if
rigorously followed, must result in his becoming a true and unterrified
American. This compact settled, Joe took up his bed,--a roll of
mats,--and down we marched to my villa, and began housekeeping in good
earnest.

We soon got settled, and began to enjoy life, though we were not
without occasional domestic infelicities. For instance, Joe would wake
up in the middle of the night, declaring to me that it _was_ morning,
and thereupon insist upon sweeping out at once, and in the most vigorous
manner. Having filled the air with dust, he would rush off to the
baker's for our hot rolls and a pat of breakfast butter, leaving me,
meantime, to recover as I might. Having settled myself for a comfortable
hour's reading, bolstered up in a luxurious fashion, Joe would enter
with breakfast, and orders to the effect that it be eaten at once and
without delay. It was useless for me to remonstrate with him: he was
tyrannical.

He got me into all sorts of trouble. It was Holy Week, and I had
resolved upon going to mass and vespers daily. I went. The soft
night-winds floated in through the latticed windows of the chapel, and
made the candles flicker upon the altar. The little throng of natives
bowed in the impressive silence, and were deeply moved. It was rest for
the soul to be there; yet, in the midst of it, while the Father, with
his pale, sad face, gave his instructions, to which we listened as
attentively as possible,--for there was something in his manner and his
voice that made us better creatures,--while we listened, in the midst of
it I heard a shrill little whistle, a sort of chirp, that I knew
perfectly well. It was Joe, sitting on a cocoa-stump in the garden
adjoining, and beseeching me to come out, right off. When service was
over, I remonstrated with him for his irreverence. "Joe," I said, "if
you have no respect for religion yourself, respect those who are more
fortunate than you." But Joe was dressed in his best, and quite wild at
the entrancing loveliness of the night. "Let's walk a little," said Joe,
covered with fragrant wreaths, and redolent of cocoanut-oil. What could
I do? If I had tried to do anything to the contrary, he might have taken
me and thrown me away somewhere into a well, or a jungle, and then I
could no longer hope to touch the chord of remorse,--which chord I
sought vainly, and which I have since concluded was not in Joe's
physical corporation at all. So we walked a little. In vain I strove to
break Joe of the shocking habit of whistling me out of vespers. He would
persist in doing it. Moreover, during the day he would collect crusts of
bread and banana-skins, station himself in ambush behind the curtain of
the window next the lane, and, as some solitary creature strode solemnly
past, Joe would discharge a volley of ammunition over him, and then
laugh immoderately at his indignation and surprise. Joe was my pet
elephant, and I was obliged to play with him very cautiously.

One morning he disappeared. I was without the consolations of a
breakfast, even. I made my toilet, went to my portmanteau for my
purse,--for I had decided upon a visit to the baker,--when lo! part of
my slender means had mysteriously disappeared. Joe was gone, and the
money also. All day I thought about it. In the morning, after a very
long and miserable night, I woke up, and when I opened my eyes, there,
in the doorway, stood Joe, in a brand-new suit of clothes, including
boots and hat. He was gorgeous beyond description, and seemed overjoyed
to see me, and as merry as though nothing unusual had happened. I was
quite startled at this apparition. "Joseph!" I said in my severest tone,
and then turned over and looked away from him. Joe evaded the subject in
the most delicate manner, and was never so interesting as at that
moment. He sang his specialties, and played clumsily upon his bamboo
flute,--to soothe me, I suppose,--and wanted me to eat a whole flat pie
which he had brought home as a peace-offering, buttoned tightly under
his jacket. I saw I must strike at once, if I struck at all; so I said,
"Joe, what on earth did you do with that money?" Joe said he had
replenished his wardrobe, and bought the flat pie especially for me.
"Joseph," I said, with great dignity, "do you know that you have been
stealing, and that it is highly sinful to steal, and may result in
something unpleasant in the world to come?" Joe said, "Yes," pleasantly,
though I hardly think he meant it; and then he added, mildly, "that he
couldn't lie,"--which was a glaring falsehood,--"but wanted me to be
sure that he took the money, and so had come back to tell me."

"Joseph," I said, "you remind me of our noble Washington"; and, to my
amazement, Joe was mortified. He didn't, of course, know who Washington
was, but he suspected that I was ridiculing him. He came to the bed and
haughtily insisted upon my taking the little change he had received from
his costumers, but I implored him to keep it, as I had no use at all for
it, and, as I assured him, I much preferred hearing it jingle in his
pocket.

The next day I sailed out of Lahaina, and Joe came to the beach with his
new trousers tucked into his new boots, while he waved his new hat
violently in a final adieu, much to the envy and admiration of a score
of hatless urchins, who looked upon Joe as the glass of fashion, and but
little lower than the angels. When I entered the boat to set sail, a
tear stood in Joe's bright eye, and I think he was really sorry to part
with me; and I don't wonder at it, because our housekeeping experiences
were new to him,--and, I may add, not unprofitable.


II.

Some months of mellow and beautiful weather found me wandering here and
there among the islands, when the gales came on again, and I was driven
about homeless, and sometimes friendless, until, by and by, I heard of
an opportunity to visit Molokai,--an island seldom visited by the
tourist,--where, perhaps, I could get a close view of a singularly sad
and interesting colony of lepers.

The whole island is green, but lonely. As you ride over its excellent
turnpike, you see the ruins of a nation that is passing, like a shadow,
out of sight. Deserted garden-patches, crumbling walls, and roofs
tumbled into the one state-chamber of the house, while knots of long
grass wave at halfmast in the chinks and crannies. A land of great
traditions, of magic, and witchcraft, and spirits. A fertile and
fragrant solitude. How I enjoyed it; and yet how it was all telling upon
me, in its own way! One cannot help feeling sad there, for he seems to
be living and moving in a long revery, out of which he dreads to awaken
to a less pathetic life. I rode a day or two among the solemn and
reproachful ruins with inexpressible complacence, and, having finally
climbed a series of verdant and downy hills, and ridden for twenty
minutes in a brisk shower, came suddenly upon the brink of a great
precipice, three thousand feet in the air. My horse instinctively braced
himself, and I nervously jerked the bridle square up to my breastbone,
as I found we were poised between heaven and earth, upon a trembling
pinnacle of rock. A broad peninsula was stretched below me, covered
with grassy hills; here and there clusters of brown huts were visible,
and to the right, the white dots of houses to which I was hastening, for
that was the leper village. To that spot were the wandering and
afflicted tribes brought home to die. Once descending the narrow stairs
in the cliff under me, never again could they hope to strike their tents
and resume their pilgrimage; for the curse was on them, and necessity
had narrowed down their sphere of action to this compass,--a solitary
slope between sea and land, with the invisible sentinels of Fear and
Fate forever watching its borders.

I seemed to be looking into a fiery furnace, wherein walked the living
bodies of those whom Death had already set his seal upon. What a mockery
it seemed to be climbing down that crag,--through wreaths of vine, and
under leafy cataracts breaking into a foam of blossoms a thousand feet
below me; swinging aside the hanging parasites that obstructed the
narrow way,--entering the valley of death, and the very mouth of hell,
by these floral avenues!

A brisk ride of a couple of miles across the breadth of the peninsula
brought me to the gate of the keeper of the settlement, and there I
dismounted, and hastened into the house, to be rid of the curious crowd
that had gathered to receive me. The little cottage was very
comfortable, my host and hostess friends of precious memory; and with
them I felt at once at home, and began the new life that every one
begins when the earth seems to have been suddenly transformed into some
better or worse world, and he alone survives the transformation.

Have you never had such an experience? Then go into the midst of a
community of lepers; have ever before your eyes their Gorgon-like faces;
see the horrors, hardly to be recognized as human, that grope about you;
listen in vain for the voices that have been hushed forever by decay;
breathe the tainted atmosphere; and bear ever in mind that, while they
hover about you,--forbidden to touch you, yet longing to clasp once more
a hand that is perfect and pure,--the insidious seeds of the malady may
be generating in your vitals, and your heart, even then, be drunk with
death!

I might as well confess that I slept indifferently the first night; that
I was not entirely free from nervousness the next day, as I passed
through the various wards assigned to patients in every stage of
decomposition. But I recovered myself in time to observe the admirable
system adopted by the Hawaiian government for the protection of its
unfortunate people. I used to sit by the window and see the processions
of the less afflicted come for little measures of milk, morning and
evening. Then there was a continuous raid upon the ointment-pot, with
the contents of which they delighted to anoint themselves. Trifling
disturbances sometimes brought the plaintiff and defendant to the front
gate, for final judgment at the hands of their beloved keeper. And it
was a constant entertainment to watch the progress of events in that
singular little world of doomed spirits. They were not unhappy. I used
to hear them singing every evening: their souls were singing while their
bodies were falling rapidly to dust. They continued to play their games,
as well as they could play them with the loss of a finger-joint or a
toe, from week to week: it is thus gradually and thus slowly that they
died, feeling their voices growing fainter and their strength less, as
the idle days passed over them and swept them to the tomb.

Sitting at the window on the second evening, as the patients came up for
milk, I observed one of them watching me intently, and apparently trying
to make me understand something or other, but what that something was I
could not guess. He rushed to the keeper and talked excitedly with him
for a moment, and then withdrew to one side of the gate and waited till
the others were served with their milk, still watching me all the while.
Then the keeper entered and told me how I had a friend out there who
wished to speak with me,--some one who had seen me somewhere, he
supposed, but whom I would hardly remember. It was their way never to
forget a face they had once become familiar with. Out I went. There was
a face I could not have recognized as anything friendly or human. Knots
of flesh stood out upon it; scar upon scar disfigured it. The expression
was like that of a mummy, stony and withered. The outlines of a youthful
figure were preserved, but the hands and feet were pitiful to look at.
What was this ogre that knew me and loved me still?

He soon told me who he had once been, but was no longer. Our little,
unfortunate "Joe," my Lahaina charge. In his case the disease had spread
with fearful rapidity: the keeper thought he could hardly survive the
year. Many linger year after year, and cannot die; but Joe was more
fortunate. His life had been brief and passionate, and death was now
hastening him to his dissolution.

Joe was forbidden to come near me, so he crouched down by the fence, and
pressing his hands between the pickets sifted the dust at my feet, while
he wailed in a low voice, and called me, over and over, "dear friend,"
"good friend," and "master." I wish I had never seen him so humbled. To
think of my disreputable little _protégé_, who was wont to lord it over
me as though he had been a born chief,--to think of Joe as being there
in his extremity, grovelling in the dust at my feet; forbidden to climb
the great wall of flowers that towered between him and his beautiful
world, while the rough sea lashed the coast about him, and his only
companions were such hideous foes as would frighten one out of a dream!

How I wanted to get close to him! but I dared not; so we sat there with
the slats of the fence between us, while we talked very long in the
twilight; and I was glad when it grew so dark that I could no longer see
his face,--his terrible face, that came to kill the memory of his former
beauty.

And Joe wondered whether I still remembered how we used to walk in the
night, and go home, at last, to our little house when Lahaina was as
still as death, and you could almost hear the great stars throbbing in
the clear sky! How well I remembered it, and the day when we went a long
way down the beach, and, looking back, saw a wide curve of the land
cutting the sea like a sickle, and turning up a white and shining swath!
Then, in another place, a grove of cocoa-palms and a melancholy,
monastic-looking building, with splendid palm-branches in its broad
windows; for it was just after Palm Sunday, and the building belonged to
a Sisterhood. And I remembered how the clouds fell and the rain drove us
into a sudden shelter, and we ate tamarind-jam, spread thick on thin
slices of bread, and were supremely happy. In this connection, I could
not forget how Joe became very unruly about that time, and I got
mortified, and found great difficulty in getting him home at all; and
yet the memory of it would have been perfect but for this fate. O Joe!
my poor, dear, terrible cobra! to think that I should ever be afraid to
look into your face in my life!

Joe wanted to call to my mind one other reminiscence,--a night when we
two walked to the old wharf, and went out to the end of it, and sat
there looking inland, watching the inky waves slide up and down the
beach, while the full moon rose over the superb mountains where the
clouds were heaped like wool, and the very air seemed full of utterances
that you could almost hear and understand but for something that made
them all a mystery. I tried then, if ever I tried in my life, to make
Joe a little less bad than he was naturally, and he seemed nearly
inclined to be better, and would, I think, have been so, but for the
thousand temptations that gravitated to him when we got on solid earth
again. He forgot my precepts then, and I'm afraid I forgot them myself.
Joe remembered that night vividly. I was touched to hear him confess it;
and I pray earnestly that that one moment may plead for him in the last
day, if, indeed, he needs any special plea other than that Nature has
published for her own.

"Sing for me, Joe," said I; and Joe, still crouching on the other side
of the lattice, sang some of his old songs. One of them, a popular
melody, was echoed through the little settlement, where faint voices
caught up the chorus, and the night was wildly and weirdly musical. We
walked by the sea the next day, and the day following that, Joe taking
pains to stay on the leeward side of me,--he was so careful to keep the
knowledge of his fate uppermost in his mind: how could I dismiss it
from my own, when it was branded in his countenance? The desolated
beauty of his face plead for measureless pity, and I gave it, out of my
prodigality, yet felt that I could not begin to give sufficient.

Link by link he was casting off his hold on life; he was no longer a
complete being; his soul was prostrated in the miry clay, and waited, in
agony, its long deliverance.

In leaving the leper village, I had concluded to say nothing to Joe,
other than the usual "_aloha_" at night, when I could ride off, in the
darkness, and, sleeping at the foot of the cliff, ascend it in the first
light of morning, and get well on my journey before the heat of the day.
We took a last walk by the rocks on the shore; heard the sea breathing
its long breath under the hollow cones of lava, with a noise like a
giant leper in his asthmatic agony. Joe heard it, and laughed a little,
and then grew silent; and finally said he wanted to leave the place,--he
hated it; he loved Lahaina dearly: how was everybody in Lahaina?--a
question he had asked me hourly since my arrival.

When night came I asked Joe to sing, as usual; so he gathered his mates
about him, and they sang the songs I liked best. The voices rang,
sweeter than ever, up from the group of singers congregated a few rods
off, in the darkness; and while they sang, my horse was saddled, and I
quietly bade adieu to my dear friends, the keepers, and mounting, walked
the horse slowly up the grass-grown road. I shall never see little Joe
again, with his pitiful face, growing gradually as dreadful as a
cobra's, and almost as fascinating in its hideousness. I waited, a
little way off, in the darkness,--waited and listened, till the last
song was ended, and I knew he would be looking for me, to say _Good
night_. But he didn't find me; and he will never again find me in this
life, for I left him sitting in the dark door of his sepulchre,--sitting
and singing in the mouth of his grave,--clothed all in death.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

THE NIGHT-DANCERS OF WAIPIO.


The afternoon sun was tinting the snowy crest of Mauna Kea, and folds of
shadow were draping the sea-washed eastern cliffs of Hawaii, as Felix
and I endeavored to persuade our fagged steeds that they must go and
live, or stay and die in the middle of a lava-trail by no means
inviting. As we rode, we thought of the scandal that had so recently
regaled our too willing ears: here it is, in a mild solution, to be
taken with three parts of disbelief.

Two venerable and warm-hearted missionaries, whose good works seemed to
have found dissimilar expression, equally effective, I trust, proved
their specialties to be church-building.

Rev. Mr. A seemed to think the more the merrier, and his pretty little
meeting-houses looked as though they had been baked in the lot, like a
sheet of biscuits; while Rev. Mr. B condensed his efforts into the
consummation of one resplendent edifice. Mr. A was always wondering why
Mr. B should waste his money in a single church, while Mr. B was
nonplussed at seeing Mr. A break out in a rash of diminutive chapels.
Well, Felix and I were riding northward up the coast, over dozens and
dozens of lovely ridges; through scores of deep gullies cushioned with
ferns as high as our pommels, and fording numberless streams, white with
froth and hurry, eagerly seeking the most exquisite valley in the
Pacific, as some call it. We rode till we were tired out twenty times
over; again and again we looked forward to the bit of Mardi-life we were
about to experience in the vale of the Waipio, while now and then we
passed one of Mr. A's pretty little churches. Once we were impatient
enough to make inquiry of a native who was watching our progress with
considerable emotion: there is always some one to watch you when you are
wishing yourself at the North Pole. Our single spectator affected an air
of gravity, and seemed quite interested as he said, "Go six or seven
churches farther on that trail, and you'll come to Waipio." On we went
with renewed spirits, for the churches were frequent, almost within
sight of each other. But we faltered presently and lost our reckoning,
they were so much alike. Again we asked our way of a solitary watcher on
a hill-top, who had had his eye upon us ever since we rose above the rim
of the third ridge back: he revealed to us the glad fact that we were
only two churches from Paradise! How we tore over the rest of that
straight and narrow way with the little life left to us, and came in
finally all of a foam, fairly jumping the last mite of a chapel that
hung upon the brink of the beautiful valley like a swallow's nest!
And down we dropped into fifty fathoms of the sweetest twilight
imaginable,--so sweet it seemed to have been born of a wilderness of the
night-blooming cereus and fed forever on jasmine buds.

There were shelter and refreshment for two hungry souls, and we slid out
of our saddles as though we had been boned expressly for a cannibal
feast.

By this time the rosy flush on Mauna Kea had faded, and its superb brow
was pale with an unearthly pallor. "Come in," said the host; and he led
us under the thatched gable, that was fragrant as new-mown hay. There we
sat, "in," as he called it, though there was never a side to the concern
thicker than a shadow.

A stream flowed noiselessly at our feet. Canoes drifted by us, with
dusky and nude forms bowed over the paddles. Each occupant greeted
us, being guests in the valley, just lifting their slumberous
eyelids,--masked batteries, that made Felix forget his danger; they
seldom paused, but called back to us from the gathering darkness with
inexpressibly tender, contralto voices.

Thereupon we were summoned to dinner in another apartment, screened with
vines. The faint flicker of the tapers suggested that what breath of air
might be stirring came from the mountain, and it brought with it a
message from the orangery up the valley. "How will you take your
oranges?" queried Felix; "in pulp, liquid, or perfume?"--and such a
dense odor swept past us at the moment, I thought I had taken them in
the triple forms. "You are just in time," said our host. "Why, what's
up?" asked I. "The moon will be up presently, and after moonrise you
shall see the _hula-hula_."

Felix desired to be enlightened as to the nature of the
what-you-call-it, and was assured that it was worth seeing, and would
require no explanatory chorus when its hour came.

It was at least a mile to the scene of action; a tortuous stream wound
thither, navigable in spots, but from time to time the canoe would have
to take to the banks for a short cut into deeper water.

"I can never get there," growled Felix; "I'm full of needles and pins";
to which the host responded by excusing himself for a few moments,
leaving Felix and me alone. It was deathly still in the valley, though a
thousand crickets sang, and the fish smacked their round mouths at the
top of the water. Evening comes slowly in those beloved tropics, but it
comes so satisfactorily that there is nothing left out.

A moonlight night is a continuous festival. The natives sing and dance
till daybreak, making it all up by sleeping till the next twilight.
Nothing is lost by this ingenious and admirable arrangement. Why should
they sleep, when a night there has the very essence of five nights
anywhere else, extracted and enriched with spices till it is so
inspiring that the soul cries out in triumph, and the eyes couldn't
sleep if they would?

At this period, enter to us the host, with several young native girls,
who seat themselves at our feet, clasping each a boot-leg encasing the
extremities of Felix and myself.

Felix kicked violently, and left the room with some embarrassment, and I
appealed to the hospitable gentleman of the house, who was smiling
somewhat audibly at our perplexity.

He assured me that if I would throw myself upon the mats in the corner,
two of these maids would speedily relieve me of any bodily pain I might
at that moment be suffering with.

I did so: the two proceeded as set down in the verbal prospectus; and
whatever bodily pain I may have possessed at the beginning of the
process speedily dwindled into insignificance by comparison with the
tortures of my novel cure. Every limb had to be unjointed and set over
again. Places were made for new joints, and I think the new joints were
temporarily set in, for my arms and legs went into angles I had never
before seen them in, nor have I since been able to assume those
startling attitudes. The stomach was then kneaded like dough. The
ribs were crushed down against the spine, and then forced out by
well-directed blows in the back. The spinal column was undoubtedly
abstracted, and some mechanical substitute now does its best to help me
through the world. The arms were tied in bow-knots behind, and the skull
cracked like the shell of a hard-boiled egg, worked into shape again,
and left to heal.

By this time I was unconscious, and for an hour my sleep promised to be
eternal. I must have lain flat on the matting, without a curve in me,
when Nature, taking pity, gradually let me rise and assume my own
proportions, as though a little leaven had been mixed in my making over.

The awakening was like coming from a bath of the elements. I breathed to
the tips of my toes. Perfumes penetrated me till I was saturated with
them. I felt a thousand years younger; and as I looked back upon the old
life I seemed to have risen from, I thought of it much as a butterfly
must think of his grub-hood, and was in the act of expanding my wings,
when I saw Felix, just recovering, a few feet from me, apparently as
ecstatic as myself. I never dared to ask him how he was reduced to
submission, for I little imagined he could so far forget himself. There
are some sudden and inexplicable revolutions in the affairs of humanity
that should not be looked into too closely, because a chaotic chasm
yawns between the old man and the new, which no one has ever yet
explored. Felix sprang to his feet like Prometheus unbound, and embraced
me with fervor, as one might after a hair-breadth escape, exclaiming,
"Did you ever see anything like it, Old Boy?" to which the Old Boy, thus
familiarly addressed (O. B. is a pet monogram of mine, designed and
frequently executed by Felix), responded, "There wasn't much to see, but
my feelings were past expression." "What's its name?" asked Felix. "I
think they call it _lomi-lomi_," said I. "Pass _lomi-lomi_!" shouted
Felix; and then we both roared again, which summoned the host, who
congratulated us and invited us to his canoe.

Felix again endeavored to fathom the mysteries of the _hula-hula_. Was
it something to eat?--did they keep it tied in the daytime?--what was
its color? etc., till the amused gentleman who was conducting us to an
exhibition of the great Unknown nearly capsized our absurdly narrow
canoe in the very deepest part of the creek. Bands of fishermen and
women passed us, wading breast-high in the water, beating it into a foam
before them, and singing at the top of their voices as they drove the
fish down stream into a broad net a few rods below. Grass-houses, half
buried in foliage, lined the mossy banks; while the dusky groups of
women and children, clustering about the smouldering flames that
betokened the preparation of the evening meal, added not a little to the
poetry of twilight in the tropics.

Felix thought he would like to turn Kanaka on the spot; so we beached
the canoe, and approached the fire, built on a hollow stone under a
tamarind-tree, and were at once offered the cleanest mat to sit on, and
a calabash of _poi_ for our refreshment. How to eat paste without a
spoon was the next question. The whole family volunteered to show us;
drew up around the calabash in a hungry circle, and dipped in with a
vengeance. Six right hands spread their first and second fingers like
sign-boards pointing to a focus in the very centre of that _poi_-paste;
six fists dove simultaneously, and were buried in the luscious mass.
There was a spasmodic working in the elbows, an effort to come to the
top, and in a moment the hands were lifted aloft in triumph, and seemed
to be tracing half a dozen capital O's in the transparent air, during
which manoeuvre the mass of _poi_ adhering to the fingers assumed fair
proportions, resembling, to a remarkable degree, large, white swellings;
whereupon they were immediately conveyed to the several mouths,
instinctively getting into the right one, and, having discharged
freight, reappeared as good as ever, if not better than before.

"Disgusting!" gasped Felix, as he returned to the water-side. I thought
him unreasonable in his harsh judgment, assuring him that our own flour
was fingered as often before it came, at last, to our lips in the form
of bread. "Moreover," I added, "this _poi_ is glutinous: the moment a
finger enters it, a thin coating adheres to the skin, and that finger
may wander about the calabash all day without touching another particle
of the substance. Therefore, six or sixteen fellows fingering in one
dish for dinner are in reality safer than we, who eat steaks that have
been mesmerized under the hands of the butcher and the cook."

Felix scorned to reply, but breathed a faint prayer for a safe return to
Chicago, as we slid into the middle of the stream, and resumed our
course.

The boughs of densely leaved trees reached out to one another across the
water. We proceeded with more caution as the channel grew narrow; and
pressing through a submerged thicket of reeds, we routed a flock of
water-fowls that wheeled overhead on heavy wings, filling the valley
with their clamor.

Two or three dogs barked sleepily off somewhere in the darkness, and the
voice of some one calling floated to us as clear as a bird's note,
though we knew it must be far away. We strode through a cane-field, its
smoky plumes just tipped with moonlight, and saw the pinnacle of Mauna
Kea, as spacious and splendid as the fairy pavilion that Nourgihan
brought to Pari-Banou, illuminated as for a festival. To the left, a
stream fell from the cliff, a ribbon of gauze fluttering noiselessly in
the wind.

"O, look!" said Felix, who had yielded again to the influences of
Nature. Looking, I saw the moon resting upon the water for a moment,
while the dew seemed actually to drip from her burnished disk. Again
Felix exclaimed, or was on the point of exclaiming, when he checked
himself in awe. I ran to him, and was silent with him, while we two
stood worshipping one stately palm that rested its glorious head upon
the glowing bosom of the moon, like the Virgin in the radiant aureola.

"Well," said our host, "supposing we get along!" We got along, by land
and water, into a village in an orange-grove. There was a subdued murmur
of many voices. I think the whole community would have burst out into a
song of some sort at the slightest provocation. On we paced, in Indian
file, through narrow lanes, under the shining leaves. Pale blossoms
rained down upon us, and the air was oppressively sweet. Groups of
natives sat in the lanes, smoking and laughing. Lovers made love in the
face of heaven, utterly unconscious of any human presence. Felix grew
nervous, and proposed withdrawing; but whither, O Felix, in all these
islands, wouldst thou hope to find love unrequited, or lovers shamefaced
withal? Much Chicago hath made thee mad!

Through a wicket we passed, where a sentinel kept ward. Within the
bamboo paling, a swarm of natives gathered about us, first questioning
the nature of our visit, which having proved entirely satisfactory, we
were welcomed in real earnest, and offered a mat in an inner room of a
large house, rather superior to the average, and a disagreeable
liquor,--brewed of oranges, very intoxicating when not diluted, and
therefore popular.

We were evidently the lions of the hour, for we sat in the centre of the
first row of spectators who were gathered to witness the _hula-hula_. We
reclined as gracefully as possible upon our mats, supported by plump
pillows, stuffed with dried ferns. Slender rushes--strung with
_kukui_-nuts, about the size of chestnuts, and very oily--were planted
before us like foot-lights, which, being lighted at the top, burned
slowly downward, till the whole were consumed, giving a good flame for
several hours.

The great mat upon the floor before us was the stage. On one side of it
a half-dozen muscular fellows were squatted, with large calabashes
headed with tightly drawn goat-skins. These were the drummers and
singers, who could beat nimbly with their fingers, and sing the epics of
their country, to the unceasing joy of all listeners. "It's an opera!"
shouted Felix, in a frenzy of delight at his discovery. A dozen
performers entered, sitting in two lines, face to face,--six women and
six men. Each bore a long joint of bamboo, slit at one end like a broom.
Then began a singularly intricate exercise, called _pi-ulu_. Taking a
bamboo in one hand, they struck it in the palm of the other, on the
shoulder, on the floor in front, to left and right; thrust it out before
them, and were parried by the partners opposite; crossed it over and
back, and turned in a thousand ways to a thousand metres, varied with
chants and pauses. "Then it's a pantomime," added Felix, getting
interested in the unusual skill displayed. For half an hour or more the
thrashing of the bamboos was prolonged, while we were hopelessly
confused in our endeavors to follow the barbarous harmony, which was
never broken nor disturbed by the expert and tireless performers.

During the first rest, liquor was served in gourds. Part of the company
withdrew to smoke, and the conversation became general and noisy. Felix
was enthusiastic, and drank the health of some of the younger members of
the _troupe_ who had offered him the gourd.

A rival company then repeated the _pi-ulu_, with some additions; the
gourds were again filled and emptied. "Now for the _hula-hula_," said
the host, who had imbibed with Felix, though he reserved his enthusiasm
for something less childish than _pi-ulu_. It is the national dance,
taught to all children by their parents, but so difficult to excel in
that the few who perfect themselves can afford to travel on this one
specialty.

There was a murmur of impatience, speedily checked, and followed by a
burst of applause, as a band of beautiful girls, covered with wreaths of
flowers and vines, entered and seated themselves before us. While the
musicians beat an introductory overture upon the tom-toms, the dancers
proceeded to bind shawls and scarfs about their waists, turban-fashion.
They sat in a line, facing us, a foot or two apart. The loose sleeves of
their dresses were caught up at the shoulder, exposing arms of almost
perfect symmetry, while their bare throats were scarcely hidden by the
necklaces of jasmines that coiled about them.

Then the leader of the band, who sat, gray-headed and wrinkled, at one
end of the room, throwing back his head, uttered a long, wild, and
shrill guttural,--a sort of invocation to the goddess of the
_hula-hula_. There had, no doubt, been some sort of sacrifice offered in
the early part of the evening,--such as a pig or a fowl,--for the dance
has a religious significance, and is attended by its appropriate
ceremonies. When this clarion cry had ended, the dance began, all
joining in with wonderfully accurate rhythm, the body swaying slowly
backward and forward, to left and right; the arms tossing, or rather
waving, in the air above the head, now beckoning some spirit of light,
so tender and seductive were the emotions of the dancers, so graceful
and free the movements of the wrists; now, in violence and fear, they
seemed to repulse a host of devils that hovered invisibly about them.

The spectators watched and listened breathlessly, fascinated by the
terrible wildness of the song and the monotonous thrumming of the
accompaniment. Presently the excitement increased. Swifter and more
wildly the bare arms beat the air, embracing, as it were, the airy forms
that haunted the dancers, who rose to their knees, and, with astonishing
agility, caused the clumsy turbans about their loins to quiver with an
undulatory motion, increasing or decreasing with the sentiment of the
song and the enthusiasm of the spectators.

Felix wanted to know "how long they could keep that up and live?"

Till daybreak, as we found! There was a little resting-spell--a very
little resting-spell, now and then--for the gourd's sake, or three
whiffs at a pipe that would poison a White Man in ten minutes; and
before we half expected it, or had a thought of urging the unflagging
dancers to renew their marvellous gyrations, they were at it in terrible
earnest.

From the floor to their knees, from their knees to their feet, now
facing us, now turning from us, they spun and ambled, till the ear was
deafened with cheers and boisterous, half-drunken, wholly passionate
laughter.

The room whirled with the reeling dancers, who seemed encircled with
living serpents in the act of swallowing big lumps of something from
their throats clear to the tips of their tails, and the convulsions
continued till the hysterical dancers staggered and fell to the floor,
overcome by unutterable fatigue.

The sympathetic Felix fell with them, his head sinking under one of the
rush candles, that must have burned into his brain had he been suffered
to immolate himself at that inappropriate and unholy time and place.
This was the seductive dance still practised in secret, though the law
forbids it; and to the Hawaiian it is more beautiful, because more
sensuous, than anything else in the world.

I proposed departing at this stage of the festival, but Felix said it
was not practicable. He felt unwell, and suggested the efficacy of
another attack of _lomi-lomi_.

A slight variation in the order of the dances followed. A young lover,
seated in the centre of the room, beat a tattoo upon his calabash and
sang a song of love. In a moment he was answered. Out of the darkness
rose the sweet, shrill voice of the loved one. Nearer and nearer it
approached; the voice rang clear and high, melodiously swelling upon the
air. It must have been heard far off in the valley, it was so plaintive
and penetrating. Secreted at first behind shawls hung in the corner of
the room, some dramatic effect was produced by her entrance at the right
moment. She enacted her part with graceful energy. To the regular and
melancholy thrumming of the calabash, she sang her song of love.
Yielding to her emotion, she did not hesitate to betray all, neither was
he of the calabash slow to respond; and, scorning the charms of
goat-skin and gourd, he sprang toward her in the madness of his soul,
when she, having reached the climax of desperation, was hurried from the
scene of her conquest amid whirlwinds of applause.

"It's a dance, that's what it is!" muttered Felix, as the audience began
slowly to disperse. Leading him back to the canoe, we had the whole
night's orgie reported to us in a very mixed and reiterative manner, as
well as several attempts at illustrating the peculiarities of the
performance, which came near resulting in a watery grave for three, or
an upset canoe, at any rate. Our host, to excuse any impropriety, for
which he felt more or less responsible, said "it was so natural for them
to be jolly under all circumstances that when they have concluded to die
they make their P. P. C.'s with infinite grace, and then die on time."

Of course they are jolly; and to prove it, I told Felix how the lepers,
who had been banished to one little corner of the kingdom, and forbidden
to leave there in the flesh, were as merry as the merriest, and once
upon a time those decaying remnants of humanity actually gave a grand
ball in their hospital. There was a general clearing out of disabled
patients, and a brushing up of old finery, while the ball itself was
_the_ topic of conversation. Two or three young fellows, who had a few
fingers left (they unjoint and drop off as the disease progresses),
began to pick up a tune or two on bamboo flutes. Old, young, and
middle-aged took a sly turn in some dark corner, getting their stiffened
joints limber again.

Night came at last. The lamps flamed in the death-chamber of the
lazar-house. Many a rejoicing soul had fled from that foul spot, to
flash its white wings in the eternal sunshine.

At an early hour the strange company assembled. The wheezing of voices
no longer musical, the shuffling of half-paralyzed limbs over the bare
floor, the melancholy droning of those bamboo flutes, and the wild sea
moaning in the wild night were the sweetest sounds that greeted them.
And while the flutes piped dolorously to this unlovely spectacle, there
was a rushing to and fro of unlovely figures; a bleeding, half-blind
leper, seizing another of the accursed beings,--snatching her, as it
were, from the grave, in all her loathsome clay,--dragged her into the
bewildering maelstrom of the waltz.

Naturally excitable, heated with exertion, drunk with the very odors of
death that pervaded the hall of revels, that mad crowd reeled through
the hours of the _fête_. Satiated, at last, in the very bitterness of
their unnatural gayety, they called for the _hula-hula_ as a fitting
close.

In that reeking atmosphere, heavy with the smoke of half-extinguished
lamps, they fed on the voluptuous _abandon_ of the dancers till passion
itself fainted with exhaustion.

"That was a dance of death, was it not, Felix?" Felix lay on his mat,
sleeping heavily, and evidently unmindful of a single word I had
uttered.

Our time was up at daybreak, and, with an endless deal of persuasion,
Felix followed me out of the valley to the little chapel on the cliff.
Our horses took a breath there, and so did we, bird's-eying the scene of
the last night's orgie.

Who says it isn't a delicious spot,--that deep, narrow, and secluded
vale, walled by almost perpendicular cliffs, hung with green tapestries
of ferns and vines; that slender stream, like a thread of silver,
embroidering a carpet of Nature's richest pattern; that torrent, leaping
from the cliff into a garden of citrons; the sea sobbing at its mouth,
while wary mariners, coasting in summer afternoons, catch glimpses of
the tranquil and forbidden paradise, yet are heedless of all its beauty,
and reck not the rustling of the cane-fields, nor the voices of the
charmers, because--because these things are so common in that latitude
that one grows naturally indifferent?

As for Felix, who talks in his sleep of the _hula-hula_, and insists
that only by the _lomi-lomi_ he shall be saved, he points a moral,
though at present he is scarcely in a condition to adorn any tale
whatever; and said moral I shall be glad to furnish, on application, to
any sympathetic soul who has witnessed by proxy the unlawful revels of
those night-dancers of Waipio.



[Decoration]

PEARL-HUNTING IN THE POMOTOUS.


The Great Western ducked in the heavy swell, shipping her regular
deck-load of salt-water every six minutes. Now the Great Western was
nothing more nor less than a seventeen-ton schooner, two hours out from
Tahiti. She was built like an old shoe, and shovelled in a head sea as
though it was her business.

It was something like sea life, wading along her submerged deck from
morning till night, with a piece of raw junk in one hand and a briny
biscuit in the other; we never _could_ keep a fire in _that_ galley, and
as for hard tack, the sooner it got soaked through the sooner it was off
our minds, for we knew to this complexion it must shortly come.

Two hours out from Tahiti we settled our course, wafting a theatrical
kiss or two toward the gloriously green pyramid we were turning our
backs on, as it slowly vanished in the blue desert of the sea.

A thousand palm-crowned and foam-girdled reefs spangle the ocean to the
north and east of Tahiti. This train of lovely satellites is known as
the Dangerous Archipelago, or, more commonly in that latitude, the
Pomotou Islands. It's the very hot-bed of cocoa-nut oil, pearls,
half-famished Kanakas, shells, and shipwrecks. The currents are rapid
and variable; the winds short, sharp, and equally unreliable. If you
would have adventure, the real article and plenty of it, make your will,
bid farewell to home and friends, and embark for the Pomotous. I started
on this principle, and repented knee-deep in the deck-breakers, as we
butted our way through the billows, bound for one of the Pomotous on a
pearl hunt.

Three days I sat in sackcloth and salt water. Three nights I swashed in
my greasy bunk, like a solitary sardine in a box with the side knocked
out. In my heart of hearts I prayed for deliverance: you see there is no
backing out of a schooner, unless you crave death in fifty fathoms of
phosphorescent liquid and a grave in a shark's maw. Therefore I prayed
for more wind from the right quarter, for a sea like a boundless
mill-pond; in short, for speedy deliverance on the easiest terms
possible. Notwithstanding, we continued to bang away at the great waves
that crooked their backs under us and hissed frightfully as they
enveloped the Great Western with spray until the fourth night out, when
the moon gladdened us and promised much while we held our breath in
anxiety.

We were looking for land. We'd been looking for three hours, scarcely
speaking all that time. It's a serious matter raising a Pomotou by
moonlight.

"Land!" squeaked a weak voice about six feet above us. A lank fellow,
with his legs corkscrewed around the shrouds, and his long neck
stretched to windward, where it veered like a weather-cock in a
nor'wester, chuckled as he sung out "Land!" and felt himself a little
lower than Christopher Columbus thereafter. "Where away?" bellowed our
chunky little captain, as important as if he were commanding a grown-up
ship. "Two points on the weather-bow!" piped the lookout, with the voice
of one soaring in space, but unhappily choked in the last word by a
sudden lurch of the schooner that brought him speedily to the deck,
where he lost his identity and became a proper noun, second person,
singular, for the rest of the cruise.

Now, "two points" is an indefinite term that embraces any obstacle ahead
of anything; but the "weather-bow" has been the salvation of many a
craft in her distress; so we gave three cheers for the "weather-bow,"
and proceeded to sweep the horizon with unwinking gaze. We could
scarcely tell how near the land might lie; fancied we could already hear
the roar of surf-beaten reefs, and every wave that reared before us
seemed the rounded outline of an island. Of course we shortened sail,
not knowing at what moment we might find ourselves close upon some low
sea-garden nestling under the rim of breakers that fenced it in, and
being morally averse to running it down without warning.

It was scarcely midnight; the moon was radiant; we were silently
watching, wrapped in the deep mystery that hung over the weather-bow.

The wind suddenly abated; it was as though it sifted through trees and
came to us subdued with a whisper of fluttering leaves and a breath of
spice. We knew what it meant, and our hearts leaped within us as over
the bow loomed the wave-like outline of shadow that sank not again like
the other waves, neither floated off cloud-like, but seemed to be
bearing steadily down upon us,--a great whale hungry for a modern Jonah.

What a night it was! We heard the howl of waters now; saw the palm
boughs glisten in the moonlight, and the glitter and the flash of foam
that fringed the edges of the half-drowned islet.

It looked for all the world like a grove of cocoa-trees that had waded
out of sight of land, and didn't know which way to turn next. This was
the Ultima Thule of the Great Western's voyage, and she seemed to know
it, for she behaved splendidly at last, laying off and on till morning
in fine style, evidently as proud as a ship-of-line.

I went below and dozed, with the low roar of the reef quite audible; a
fellow gets used to such dream-music, and sleeps well to its
accompaniment.

At daybreak we began beating up against wind and tide, hoping to work
into smooth water by sunrise, which we did easily enough, shaking hands
all around over a cup of thick coffee and molasses as three fathoms of
chain whizzed overboard after a tough little anchor that buried itself
in a dim wilderness of corals and sea-grass.

Then and there I looked about me with delighted eyes. The Great Western
rode at anchor in a shallow lake, whose crystal depths seemed never to
have been agitated by any harsher breath than at that moment kissed
without ruffling its surface. Around us swept an amphitheatre of hills,
covered with a dense growth of tropical foliage and cushioned to the hem
of the beach with thick sod of exquisite tint and freshness. The narrow
rim of beach that sloped suddenly to the tideless margin of the lake was
littered with numberless slender canoes drawn out of the water like so
many fish, as though they would navigate themselves in their natural
element, and they were, therefore, not to be trusted alone too near it.
Around the shore, across the hills, and along the higher ridges waved
innumerable cocoa-palms, planted like a legion of lances about the
encampment of some barbaric prince.

As for the very blue sky and the very white scud that shot across it,
they looked windy enough; moreover we could all hear the incoherent
booming of the sea upon the reef that encircled our nest. But we forgot
the wind and the waves in the inexpressible repose of that armful of
tropical seclusion. It was a drop of water in a tuft of moss, on a very
big scale; that's just what it was.

In a few moments, as with one impulse, the canoes took to water with a
savage or two in each, all gravitating to the schooner, which was for
the time being the head-centre of their local commerce; and for an hour
or more we did a big business in the exchange of fish-hooks and fresh
fruit.

The proportion of canoes at Motu Hilo (Crescent Island) to the natives
of said fragment of Eden was as one to several; but the canoeless could
not resist the superior attraction of a foreign invader, therefore the
rest of the inhabitants went head-first into the lake, and struck out
for the middle, where we peacefully swung at anchor.

The place was sharky, but a heavy dirk full twenty inches tall was held
between the teeth of the swimmers; and if the smoke-colored dorsal of
any devil of a shark had dared to cut the placid surface of the water
that morning, he would speedily have had more blades in him than a
farrier's knife. A few vigorous strokes of the arms and legs in the
neighborhood, a fatal lunge or two, a vermilion cloud in a sea churned
to a cream, and a dance over the gaping corpse of some monster who has
sucked human blood more than once, probably, does the business in that
country.

It was a sensation for unaccustomed eyes, that inland sea covered,
littered, I might say, with woolly heads, as though a cargo of
cocoa-nuts had been thrown overboard in a stress of weather. They
gathered about as thick as flies at a honey-pot, all talking, laughing,
and spouting mouthfuls of water into the air like those impossible
creatures that do that sort of thing by the half-dozen in all high-toned
and classical fountains.

Out of this amphibious mob one gigantic youth, big enough to eat half
our ship's crew, threw up an arm like Jove's, clinched the deck-rail
with lithe fingers, and took a rest, swinging there with the utmost
satisfaction.

I asked him aboard, but he scorned to forsake his natural element: water
_is_ as natural as air to those natives. Probably he would have suffered
financially had he attempted boarding us, for his thick back hair was
netted with a kind of spacious nest and filled with eggs on sale. It was
quite astonishing to see the ease with which he navigated under his
heavy deck-load.

This colossal youth having observed that I was an amateur humanitarian,
virtue received its instant reward (which it doesn't in all climates),
for he at once offered me three of his eggs in a very winning and
patronizing manner.

I took the eggs because I like eggs, and then I was anxious to get his
head above water if possible; therefore I unhesitatingly took the eggs,
offering him in return a fish-hook, a tenpenny nail, and a dilapidated
key-ring.

These tempting _curios_ he spurned, at the same moment reaching me
another handful of eggs. His generosity both pleased and alarmed me. I
saw with joy that his chin was quite out of water in consequence of his
charity, even when he dropped back into the sea, floating for a few
moments so as to let the blood circulate in his arm again; but whether
this was his magnanimous gift, or merely a trap to involve me in
hopeless debt, I was quite at a loss to know, and I paused with my hands
full of eggs, saying to myself, There is an end to fish-hooks in the
South Pacific, and dilapidated key-rings are not my staple product!

In the midst of my alarm he began making vows of eternal friendship.
This was by no means disagreeable to me. He was big enough to whip any
two of his fellows, and one likes to be on the best side of the stronger
party in a strange land.

I reciprocated!

I leaned over the stern-rail of the Great Western in the attitude of
Juliet in the balcony scene, assuring that egg-boy that my heart was his
if he was willing to take it at second-hand.

He liked my sentiments, and proposed touching noses at once (a barbarous
greeting still observed in the most civilized countries with even
greater license, since with Christians it is allowable to touch
mouths).

We touched noses, though I was in danger of sliding headlong into the
sea. After this ceremonial he consented to board the Great Western,
which having accomplished with my help, he deposited his eggs at my
feet, offered me his nose once more, and communicated to me his name,
asking in the same breath for mine.

He was known as Hua Manu, or Bird's Egg. Every native in the South Sea
gets named by accident. I knew a fellow whose name was "Cock-eye"; he
was a standing advertisement of his physical deformity. A fellow that
knew me rejoiced in the singular cognomen of "Thrown from a horse."
Fortunately he doesn't spell it with so many letters in his tongue. His
christening happened in this wise: A bosom friend of his mother was
thrown from a horse and killed the day of his birth. Therefore the
bereaved mother reared that child, an animated memorial, who in after
years clove to me, and was as jolly as though his earthly mission wasn't
simply to keep green the memory of his mother's bosom friend sailing
through the air with a dislocated neck.

I turned to my new-found friend. "Hua Manu," said I, "for my sake you
have made a bird's-nest of your back hair. You have freely given me your
young affection and your eggs. Receive the sincere thanks of yours
truly, together with these fish-hooks, these tenpenny nails, this
key-ring." Hua Manu smiled and accepted, burying the fish-hooks in his
matted forelock, and inserting a tenpenny nail and a key-ring in either
ear, thereby making himself the envy of the entire population of Motu
Hilo, and feeling himself as grand as the best chief in the archipelago.

So we sat together on the deck of the Great Western, quite dry for a
wonder, exchanging sheep's-eyes and confidences, mutually happy in each
other's society. Meanwhile the captain was arranging his plans for an
immediate purchase of such pearls as he might find in possession of the
natives, and for a fresh search for pearl oysters at the earliest
possible hour. There were no pearls on hand. What are pearls to a man
who has as many wives, children, and cocoa-nuts as he can dispose of?
Pearls are small and colorless. Give them a handful of gorgeous glass
beads, a stick of sealing-wax, or some spotted beans, and keep your pale
sea-tears, milky and frozen and apt to grow sickly yellow and die if
they are not cared for.

Motu Hilo is independent. No man has squatted there to levy tax or toll.
We were each one of us privileged to hunt for pearls and keep our stores
separate. I said to Hua Manu, "Let's invest in a canoe, explore the
lagoon for fresh oyster-beds, and fill innumerable cocoa-nut shells with
these little white seeds. It will be both pleasant and profitable,
particularly for me." We were scarcely five minutes bargaining for our
outfit, and we embarked at once, having agreed to return in a couple of
days for news concerning the success of the Great Western and her
probable date of sailing.

Seizing a paddle, Hua Manu propelled our canoe with incredible rapidity
out of the noisy fleet in the centre of the lake, toward a green point
that bounded it, one of the horns of the crescent. He knew a spot where
the oyster yawned in profusion, a secret cave for shelter, a forest
garden of fruits, a never-failing spring, etc. Thither we would fly and
domesticate ourselves. The long, curved point of land soon hid the inner
waters from view. We rose and sank on the swell between the great reef
and the outer rim of the island, while the sun glowed fiercely overhead
and the reef howled in our ears. Still on we skimmed, the water hissing
along the smooth sides of the canoe, that trembled at every fierce
stroke of Hua Manu's industrious paddle. No chart, no compass, no
rudder, no exchange of references, no letter of introduction, yet I
trusted that wild Hercules who was hurrying me away, I knew not whither,
with an earnestness that forced the sweat from his naked body in living
streams.

At last we turned our prow and shot through a low arch in a cliff, so
low we both ducked our heads instinctively, letting the vines and
parasites trail over our shoulders and down our backs.

It was a dark passage into an inner cave lit from below,--a cave filled
with an eternal and sunless twilight that was very soothing to our eyes
as we came in from the glare of sea and sky.

"Look!" said Hua Manu. Overhead rose a compressed dome of earth, a thick
matting of roots, coil within coil. At the side innumerable ledges,
shelves and seams lined with nests, and never a nest without its egg,
often two or more together. Below us, in two fathoms of crystal, sunlit
and luminous bowers of coral, and many an oyster asleep with its mouth
open, and many a prismatic fish poising itself with palpitating gills,
and gauzy fins fanning the water incessantly.

"Hua Manu!" I exclaimed in rapture, "permit me to congratulate you. In
you I behold a regular South Sea Monte Christo, and no less magnificent
title can do you justice." Thereat Hua Manu laughed immoderately, which
laugh having run out we both sat in our canoe and silently sucked eggs
for some moments.

A canoe-length from where we floated, a clear rill stole noiselessly
from above, mingling its sweet waters with the sea; on the roof of our
cavern fruits flourished, and we were wholly satisfied. After such a
lunch as ours it behooved us to cease idling and dive for pearls. So Hua
Manu knotted his long hair tightly about his forehead, cautiously
transferred himself from the canoe to the water, floated a moment,
inhaling a wonderfully long breath, and plunged under. How he struggled
to get down to the gaping oysters, literally climbing down head-first!
I saw his dark form wrestling with the elements that strove to force him
back to the surface, crowding him out into the air again. He seized one
of the shells, but it shut immediately, and he tugged and jerked and
wrenched at it like a young demon till it gave way, when he struck out
and up for air. All this seemed an age to me. I took full twenty breaths
while he was down. Reaching the canoe, he dropped the great,
ugly-looking thing into it, and hung over the outrigger gasping for
breath like a man half hanged. He was pale about the mouth, his eyes
were suffused with blood, blood oozed from his ears and nostrils; his
limbs, gashed with the sharp corals, bled also. The veins of his
forehead looked ready to burst, and as he tightened the cords of hair
across them it seemed his only salvation.

I urged him to desist, seeing his condition and fearing a repetition of
his first experience; but he would go once more; perhaps there was no
pearl in that shell; he wanted to get me a pearl. He sank again and
renewed his efforts at the bottom of the sea. I scarcely dared to count
the minutes now, nor the bubbles that came up to me like little balloons
with a death-message in each. Suppose he were to send his last breath in
one of those transparent globes, and I look down and see his body snared
in the antlers of coral, stained with his blood? Well, he came up all
right, and I postponed the rest of my emotion for a later experience.

Some divers remain three minutes under water, but two or three descents
are as many as they can make in a day. The ravages of such a life are
something frightful.

No more pearl-hunting after the second dive that day; nor the next,
because we went out into the air for a stroll on shore to gather fruit
and stretch our legs. There was a high wind and a heavy sea that looked
threatening enough, and we were glad to return after an hour's tramp.
The next day was darker, and the next after that, when a gale came down
upon us that seemed likely to swamp Motu Hilo. A swell rolled over the
windward reef and made our quarters in the grotto by no means safe or
agreeable. It was advisable for us to think of embarking upon that
tempestuous sea, or get brained against the roof of our retreat.

Hua Manu looked troubled, and my heart sank. I wished the pearl oysters
at the bottom of the sea, the Great Western back at Tahiti, and I
loafing under the green groves of Papeete, never more to be deluded
abroad.

I observed no visible changes in the weather after I had been wishing
for an hour and a half. The swell rather increased; our frail canoe was
tossed from side to side in imminent danger of upsetting.

Now and then a heavy roller entirely filled the mouth of our cavern,
quite blinding us with spray; having spent its fury it subsided with a
concussion that nearly deafened us, and dragged us with fearful velocity
toward the narrow mouth of the cave, where we saved ourselves from being
swept into the sea by grasping the roots overhead and within reach.

"Could I swim?" asked Hua Manu. Alas, no! That we must seek new shelter
at any risk was but too evident. "Let us go on the next wave," said Hua,
as he seized a large shell and began clearing the canoe of the water
that had accumulated. Then he bound his long hair in a knot to keep it
from his eyes, and gave me some hasty directions as to my deportment in
the emergency.

The great wave came. We were again momentarily corked up in an air-tight
compartment. I wonder the roof was not burst open with the intense
pressure that nearly forced the eyes out of my head and made me faint
and giddy. Recovering from the shock, with a cry of warning from Hua,
and a prayer scarcely articulated, we shot like a bomb from a mortar
into the very teeth of a frightful gale.

Nothing more was said, nothing seen. The air was black with flying
spray, the roar of the elements more awful than anything I had ever
heard before. Sheets of water swept over us with such velocity that they
hummed like circular saws in motion.

We were crouched as low as possible in the canoe, yet now and then one
of these, the very _blade_ of the wave, struck us on the head or
shoulders, cutting us like knives. I could scarcely distinguish Hua's
outline, the spray was so dense, and as for him, what could he do?
Nothing, indeed, but send up a sort of death-wail, a few notes of which
tinkled in my ear from time to time, assuring me how utterly without
hope we were.

One of those big rollers must have lifted us clean over the reef, for we
crossed it and were blown into the open sea, where the canoe spun for a
second in the trough of the waves, and was cut into slivers by an
avalanche of water that carried us all down into the depths.

       *       *       *       *       *

I suppose I filled at once, but came up in spite of it (almost every one
has that privilege), when I was clutched by Hua Manu and made fast to
his utilitarian back-hair. I had the usual round of experiences allotted
to all half-drowned people: a panoramic view of my poor life crammed
with sin and sorrow and regret; a complete biography written and read
through inside of ten seconds. I was half strangled, call it two thirds,
for that comes nearer the truth; heard the water singing in my ears,
which was _not_ sweeter than symphonies, nor beguiling, nor in the least
agreeable. I deny it! In the face of every corpse that ever was drowned
I emphatically deny it!

Hua had nearly stripped me with one or two tugs at my thin clothing,
because he didn't think that worth towing off to some other island, and
he was willing to float me for a day or two, and run the risk of saving
me.

When I began to realize anything, I congratulated myself that the gale
was over. The sky was clear, the white caps scarce, but the swell still
sufficient to make me dizzy as we climbed one big, green hill, and slid
off the top of it into a deep and bubbling abyss.

I found Hua leisurely feeling his way through the water, perfectly
self-possessed and apparently unconscious that he had a deck passenger
nearly as big as himself. My hands were twisted into his hair in such a
way that I could rest my chin upon my arms, and thus easily keep my
mouth above water most of the time.

My emotions were peculiar. I wasn't accustomed to travelling in that
fashion. I knew it had been done before. Even there I thought with
infinite satisfaction of the Hawaiian woman who swam for forty hours in
such a sea, with an aged and helpless husband upon her back. Reaching
land at last she tenderly drew her burden to shore and found him--dead!
The fact is historical, and but one of several equally marvellous.

We floated on and on, cheering each other hour after hour; the wind
continuing, the sea falling, and anon night coming like an ill
omen,--night, that buried us alive in darkness and despair.

I think I must have dozed, or fainted, or died several times during the
night, for it began to grow light long before I dared to look for it,
and then came sunrise,--a sort of intermittent sunrise that gilded Hua's
shoulder whenever we got to the top of a high wave, and went out again
as soon as we settled into the hollows.

Hua Manu's eyes were much better than mine; he seemed to see with all
his five senses, and the five told him that _there was sand not far
off_! I wouldn't believe him; I think I was excusable for questioning
his infallibility then and there. The minute he cried out "Land!" I gave
up and went to sleep or to death, for I thought he was daft, and it was
discouraging business, and I wished I could die for good. Hua Manu, what
a good egg you were, though it's the bad that usually keep atop of the
water, they tell me!

       *       *       *       *       *

Hua Manu was right! he walked out of the sea an hour later and stood on
a mound of coarse sand in the middle of the ocean, with my miserable,
water-logged body lying in a heap at his feet.

The place was as smooth and shiny and desolate as anybody's bald head.
That's a nice spot to be merry in, isn't it? Yet he tried to make me
open my eyes and be glad.

He said he knew the Great Western would be coming down that way shortly;
she'd pick us off the shoal, and water and feed us.

Perhaps she might! Meantime we hungered and thirsted as many a poor
castaway had before us. That was a good hour for Christian fortitude:
beached in the middle of the ocean; shelterless under a sun that
blistered Hua's tough skin; eyes blinded with the glare of sun and sea;
the sand glowing like brass and burning into flesh already irritated
with salt water; a tongue of leather cleaving to the roof of the mouth,
and no food within reach, nor so much as a drop of fresh water for
Christ's sake!

Down went my face into the burning sand that made the very air _hop_
above it.... Another night, cool and grateful; a bird or two flapped
wearily overhead, looking like spirits in the moonlight. Hua scanned
earnestly our narrow horizon, noting every inflection in the voices of
the wind and waves,--voices audible to him, but worse than dumb to
me,--mocking monotones reiterated through an agonizing eternity.

A wise monitor was Hua Manu, shaming me to silence in our cursed
banishment. Toward the morning after our arrival at the shoal, an owl
fluttered out of the sky and fell at our feet quite exhausted. It might
have been blown from Motu Hilo, and seemed ominous of something, I
scarcely knew what. When it had recovered from its fatigue, it sat
regarding us curiously. I wanted to wring its short, thick neck, and eat
it, feathers and all. Hua objected; there was a superstition that gave
that bland bird its life. It might continue to ogle us with one eye as
long as it liked. How the lopsided thing smirked! how that stupid
owl-face, like a rosette with three buttons in it, haunted me! It was
enough to craze any one; and, having duly cursed him and his race, I
went stark mad and hoped I was dying forever....

There are plenty of stars in this narrative. Stars, and plenty of them,
cannot account for the oblivious intervals, suspended animation, or
whatever it was, that came to my relief from time to time. I cannot
account for them myself. Perhaps Hua Manu might; he seemed always awake,
always on the lookout, and ever so patient and painful. A dream came to
me after that owl had stared me into stone,--a dream of an island in a
sea of glass; soft ripples lapping on the silver shores; sweet airs
sighing in a star-lit grove; some one gathering me in his arms, hugging
me close with infinite tenderness; I was consumed with thirst,
speechless with hunger; like an infant I lay in the embrace of my
deliverer, who moistened my parched lips and burning throat with
delicious and copious draughts. It was an elixir of life; I drank health
and strength in every drop; sweeter than mother's milk flowed the warm
tide unchecked, till I was satisfied and sank into a deep and dreamless
sleep....

The Great Western was plunging in her old style, and I swashed in my
bunk as of yore. The captain sat by me with a bottle in his hand and
anxiety in his countenance.

"Where are we?" I asked.

"Two hours out from Tahiti, inward bound."

"How! What! When!" etc.; and my mind ran up and down the record of the
last fortnight, finding many blots and some blanks.

"As soon as I got into my right mind I could hear all about it"; and the
captain shook his bottle, and held on to the side of my bunk to save
himself from total wreck in the lee-corners of the cabin.

"Why, wasn't I right-minded? I could tell a hawk from a hernshaw; and,
speaking of hawks, where was that cursed owl?"

The captain concluded I was bettering, and put the physic into the
locker, so as to give his whole attention to keeping right side up.
Well, this is how it happened, as I afterward learned: The Great Western
suffered somewhat from the gale at Motu Hilo, though she was
comparatively sheltered in that inner sea. Having repaired, and given me
up as a deserter, she sailed for Tahiti. The first day out, in a light
breeze, they all saw a man apparently wading up to his middle in the
sea. The fellow hailed the Great Western, but as she could hardly stand
up against the rapid current in so light a wind, the captain let her
drift past the man in the sea, who suddenly disappeared. A consultation
of officers followed. Evidently some one was cast away and ought to be
looked after; resolved to beat up to the rock, big turtle, or whatever
it might be that kept that fellow afloat, provided the wind freshened
sufficiently; wind immediately freshened; Great Western put about and
made for the spot where Hua Manu had been seen hailing the schooner. But
when that schooner passed he threw himself upon the sand beside me and
gave up hoping at last, and was seen no more.

What did he then? I must have asked for drink. He gave it me from an
artery in his wrist, severed by the finest teeth you ever saw. That's
what saved me. On came the little schooner, beating up against the wind
and tide, while I had my lips sealed to that fountain of life.

The skipper kept banging away with an old blunderbuss that had been left
over in his bargains with the savages, and one of these explosions
caught the ears of Hua. He tore my lips from his wrist, staggered to his
feet, and found help close at hand. Too late they gathered us up out of
the deep and strove to renew our strength. They transported us to the
little cabin of the schooner, Hua Manu, myself, and that mincing owl,
and swung off into the old course. Probably the Great Western never did
better sailing since she came from the stocks than that hour or two of
beating that brought her up to the shoal. She seemed to be emulating it
in the home run, for we went bellowing through the sea in a stiff
breeze and the usual flood-tide on deck.

I lived to tell the tale. I should think it mighty mean of me not to
live after such a sacrifice. Hua Manu sank rapidly. I must have nearly
drained his veins, but I don't believe he regretted it. The captain said
when he was dying, his faithful eyes were fixed on me. Unconsciously I
moved a little; he smiled, and the soul went out of him in that smile,
perfectly satisfied. At that moment the owl fled from the cabin, passed
through the hatchway, and disappeared.

Hua Manu lay on the deck, stretched under a sail, while I heard this. I
wondered if a whole cargo of pearls could make me indifferent to his
loss. I wondered if there were many truer and braver than he in
Christian lands. They call him a heathen. It _was_ heathenish to offer
up his life vicariously. He might have taken mine so easily, and perhaps
have breasted the waves back to his own people, and been fêted and sung
of as the hero he truly was.

Well, if he is a heathen, out of my heart I would make a parable, its
rubric bright with his sacrificial blood, its theme this glowing text:
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for a
friend."



[Decoration]

THE LAST OF THE GREAT NAVIGATOR.


Think of a sea and sky of such even and utter blueness, that any visible
horizon is out of the question. In the midst of this pellucid sphere the
smallest of propellers trailing two plumes of sea-foam, like the
tail-feathers of a bird of paradise, and over it all a league of
floating crape,--for so seem the heavy folds of smoke that hang above
us.

Thus we pass out of our long hours of idleness in that grove of eight
thousand cocoa-palms by the sea-shore,--the artist and I seeking to
renew our _dolce far niente_ in some new forest of palms by any shore
whatever. Enough that it is sea-washed, and hath a voice and an eternal
song.

Now turn to the stone-quarry darkened with the groups of the few
faithful friends and many islanders. They are so ready to kill time in
the simplest manner; why not in staring our awkward little steamer out
of sight?

One glimpse of the white handkerchiefs, fluttering like a low flight of
doves, and then with all the sublime resignation of the confessed
lounger, we await the approach of twilight and the later hours that
shall presently pass silver-footed over this tropic sea.

Four, P. M., and the roar of the reef lost to us voyagers. The sun
an hour high. The steams of dinner appealing to us through the
yawning hatches,--everything yawning in this latitude, animate and
inanimate,--and the world as hot as Tophet. We lie upon our mattresses,
brought out of the foul cabin into the sweet air, and pass the night
half intoxicated with romance and cigarettes. The natives cover the deck
of our little craft in lazy and laughing flocks. Some of them regard us
tenderly; they are apt to love at sight, though Heaven knows there is
little in our untrimmed exteriors to attract any one under the stars.

We hear, now and then, the sharp click of flint and steel, and after it
see the flame, and close to the flame a dark face, grotesque it may be,
like an antique water-spout with dust in its jaws. But some are
beautiful, with glorious eyes that shine wonderfully in the excitement
of lighting the pipe anew.

Voices arise at intervals from among the groups of younger voyagers. We
hear the songs of our own land worded in oddly and rather prettily
broken English. "Annie Laurie," "When the Cruel War is over," and other
equally ambitious and proportionately popular ballads ring in good time
and tune from the lips of the young bloods, but the girls seldom join
to any advantage. How strange it all seems, and how we listen!

With the first and deepest purple of the dawn, the dim outlines of
Molokai arise before us. It is an island of cliffs and cañons, much
haunted of the King, but usually out of the tourist's guide-book.

It is hinted one may turn back this modern page of island civilization,
and with it the half-christianized and wholly bewildered natures of the
uncomprehending natives, and here find all of the old superstitions in
their original significance, the temples, and the shark-god, and the
_hula-hula_ girls, beside whose weird and maddening undulations your
_can-can_ dancers are mere jumping-jacks.

Listen for faint music of the wandering minstrels! No, we are too far
out from shore: then it is the wrong end of the day for such festivals.

A brief siesta under the opening eyelids of the morn, and at sunrise we
dip our colors abreast charming little Lahaina, drowsy and indolent,
with its two or three long, long avenues overhung with a green roof of
leaves, and its odd summer-houses and hammocks pitched close upon the
white edge of the shore.

We wander up and down these shady paths an hour or two, eat of the
fruits, luscious and plentiful, and drink of its liquors, vile and
fortunately scarce, and get us hats plaited of the coarsest straw and of
unbounded rim, making ourselves still more hideous, if indeed we have
not already reached the acme of the unpicturesque.

Now for hours and hours we hug the shore, slowly progressing under the
insufficient shadow of the palms, getting now and then glimpses of
valleys folded inland, said to be lovely and mystical. Then there are
mites of villages always half-grown and half-starved looking, and always
close to the sea. These islanders are amphibious. The little bronze
babies float like corks before they can walk half the length of a
bamboo-mat.

Another night at sea, in the rough channel this time, and less enjoyable
for the rather stiff breeze on our quarter, and some very sour-looking
clouds overhead. All well by six, however, when we hear the Angelus rung
from the low tower of a long coral church in another sea-wedded hamlet.
Think of the great barn-like churches, once too small for the throngs
that gathered about them, now full of echoes, and whose doors, if they
still hang to their hinges, will soon swing only to the curious winds!

In and out by this strange land, marking all its curvatures with the
fidelity of those shadow lines in the atlas, and so lingering on till
the evening of the second day, when, just at sunset, we turn suddenly
into the bay that saw the last of Captain Cook, and here swing at anchor
in eight fathoms of liquid crystal over a floor of shining white coral,
and clouds of waving sea-moss. From the deck behold the amphitheatre
wherein was enacted the tragedy of "The Great Navigator, or the
Vulnerable god." The story is brief and has its moral.

The approach of Captain Cook was mystical. For generations the islanders
had been looking with calm eyes of faith for the promised return of a
certain god. Where should they look but to the sea, whence came all
mysteries and whither retreated the being they called divine?

So the white wings of the Resolution swept down upon the life-long
quietude of Hawaii like a messenger from heaven, and the signal gun sent
the first echoes to the startled mountains of the little kingdom.

They received this Jupiter, who carried his thunders with him and
kindled fires in his mouth. He was the first smoker they had seen,
though they are now his most devout apostles. Showing him all due
reverence, he failed to regard their customs and traditions, which was
surely ungodlike, and it rather weakened the faith of their sages.

A plot was devised to test the divinity of the presuming captain.

While engaged in conversation, one of the chiefs was to rush at Cook
with a weapon; should he cry out or attempt to run, he was no god, for
the gods are fearless; and if he was no god, he deserved death for his
deception. But if a god, no harm could come of it, for the gods are
immortal.

So they argued, and completed their plans. It came to pass in the
consummation of them that Cook did run, and thereupon received a stab
in the back. Being close by the shore he fell face downward in the water
and died a half-bloody, half-watery, and wholly inglorious death. His
companions escaped to the ship and peppered the villages by the harbor,
till the inhabitants, half frantic, were driven into the hills.

Then they put to sea, leaving the body of their commander in the hands
of the enemy, and with flag at half-mast were blown sullenly back to
England, there to inaugurate the season of poems, dirges, and pageants
in honor of the Great Navigator.

His bones were stripped of flesh, afterwards bound with _kapa_, the
native cloth, and laid in one of the hundred natural cells that
perforate the cliff in front of us, and under whose shadow we now float.
Which of the hundred is the one so honored is quite uncertain. What does
it matter, so long as the whole mountain is a catacomb of kings? No
commoners are buried there. It was a kind and worthy impulse that could
still venerate so far the mummy of an idol of such palpable clay as his.

Many of these singular caverns are almost inaccessible. One must climb
down by ropes from the cliff above. Rude bars of wood are laid across
the mouths of some of them. It is the old _tabu_ never yet broken. But a
few years back it was braving death to attempt to remove them.

Cook's flesh was most likely burned. It was then a custom. But his heart
was left untouched of the flames of this sacrifice. What a salamander
the heart is that can withstand the fires of a judgment!

The story of this heart is the one shocking page in this history: some
children discovered it afterward, and, thinking it the offal of an
animal, devoured it. Whoever affirms that the "Sandwich-Islanders eat
each other," has at least this ground for his affirmation. Natives of
the South Sea Islands have been driven as far north as this in their
frail canoes. They were cannibals, and no doubt were hungry, and may
have eaten in their fashion, but it is said to have been an acquired
taste, and was not at all popular in this region. Dramatic justice
required some tragic sort of revenge, and this was surely equal to the
emergency.

Our advance guard, in the shape of a month-earlier tourist, gave us the
notes for doing this historical nook in the Pacific. A turned-down page,
it is perhaps a little too dog-eared to be read over again, but we all
like to compare notes. So we noted the items of the advance guard, and
they read in this fashion:--

       OBJECTS OF INTEREST RELATING TO CAPTAIN COOK.

      Item   I. The tree where Cook was struck.
        "   II. The rock where Cook fell.
        "  III. The altar on the hill-top.
        "   IV. The riven palms.
        "    V. The sole survivor,--the boy that ran.
        "   VI. A specimen sepulchre in the cliff.

Until dark the native children have been playing about us in the sea,
diving for very smooth "rials," and looking much as frogs must look to
wandering lilliputians. The artist cares less for these wild and
graceful creatures than one would suppose, for he confesses them equal
in physical beauty to the Italian models. All sentiment seemed to have
been dragged out of him by much travel. At night we sit together on the
threshold of our grass house, and not twenty feet from the rock--under
water only at high tide--where Cook died. We sit talking far into the
night, with the impressive silence broken only by the plash of the sea
at our very door.

By and by the moon looks down upon us from the sepulchre of the kings.
We are half clad, having adopted the native costume as the twilight
deepened and our modesty permitted. The heat is still excessive. All
this low land was made to God's order some few centuries ago. We wonder
if He ever changes his mind; this came down red-hot from the hills
yonder, and cooled at high-water mark. It holds the heat like an
oven-brick, and we find it almost impossible to walk upon it at
noontime, even our sole-leather barely preserving our feet from its
blistering surface. The natives manage to hop over it now and then; they
are about half leather, anyhow, and the other half appetite.

We come first upon No. II. in the list of historic haunts.

Let us pass down to the rock, and cool ourselves in the damp moss that
drapes it. It is almost as large as a dinner-table, and as level. You
can wade all around it, count a hundred little crabs running up and down
over the top of it. So much for one object of interest, and the artist
draws his pencil through it. At ten, P. M., we are still chatting, and
have added a hissing pot of coffee over some live coals to our
housekeeping. Now down a little pathway at our right comes a native
woman, with a plump and tough sort of pillow under each arm. These she
implores us to receive and be comfortable. We refuse to be comforted in
this fashion, we despise luxuries, and in true cosmopolitan independence
hang our heads over our new saddle-trees, and sleep heavily in an
atmosphere rank with the odor of fresh leather; but not till we have
seen our humane visitor part of the way home. Back by the steep and
winding path we three pass in silence. She pauses a moment in the
moonlight at what seems a hitching-post cased in copper. It is as high
as our hip, and has some rude lettering apparently scratched with a nail
upon it. We decipher with some difficulty this legend:--

                 +
           Near this spot
                fell
    ~CAPTAIN JAMES COOK, R. N.,~
                the
     Renowned Circumnavigator,
                who
     discovered these islands,
            A. D. 1778.

         His Majesty's Ship
              Imogene,
           Oct. 17, 1837.

So No. I. of our list is checked off, and no lives lost.

"_Aloha!_" cries a soft voice in the distance. Our native woman has left
us in our pursuit of knowledge under difficulties, and now there is no
visible trace of her and her pillows,--only that voice out of the
darkness crying, "Love to you!" She lives in memory,--this warm-hearted
_Waihine_; so do her pillows.

Returning to our lodgings, we discover a square heap of broken lava
rocks. It seems to be the foundation for some building; and such it is,
for here the palace of Kamehameha I. stood,--a palace of grass like this
one we are sleeping in. Nothing but the foundation remains now. Half a
dozen rude stairs invite the ghosts of the departed courtiers to this
desolate ruin.

They are all Samaritans in this kingdom. By sunrise a boy with fresh
coffee and a pail of muffins rides swiftly to our door. He came from
over the hill. Our arrival had been reported, and we are summoned to a
late breakfast in the manner of the Christians. We are glad of it. Our
fruit diet of yesterday, the horrors of a night in the saddle--a safe
and pretty certain mode of dislocating the neck--make us yearn for a
good old-fashioned meal. Horses are at our service. We mount after
taking our muffins and coffee in the centre of a large and enthusiastic
gathering of villagers. They came to see us eat, and to fumble the
artist's sketches, and wonder at his amazing skill.

Up the high hill with the jolliest sun shining full in our eyes,
brushing the heavy and dew-filled foliage on both sides of the trail,
and under the thick webs spun in the upper branches, looking like silver
laces this glorious morning,--on, till we reach the hill-top.

Here the guide pauses and points his horse's nose toward a rude
_corral_. The horses seem to regard it from habit,--we scarcely with
curiosity. A wall half in ruins in the centre, rising from a heap of
stones tumbled together, a black, weather-stained cross, higher than our
heads as we sit in the saddle. It is the altar of sacrifice. It is here
that the heart of the great navigator survived the flames.

No. III. scored off. At this rate we shall finish by noon easily. The
sequel of an adventurous life is soon told.

After breakfast, to horse again, and back to the little village by the
sea. We ride into a cluster of palms, our guide leading the way, and
find two together, each with a smooth and perfectly round hole through
its body, about three feet from the roots, made by the shot of Cook's
avengers. A lady could barely thrust her hand through them; they
indicate rather light calibre for defence nowadays, but enough to
terrify these little villages, when Cook's men sent the balls hissing
over the water to bite through the grit and sap of these slender shafts.
They still live to tell the tale in their way. So much for No. IV.

We pause again in the queer little straggling alleys of the village,
planned, I should think, after some spider's web. They are about as
regular in their irregularity. It is No. V. this time. A bit of withered
humanity doubled up in the sun, as though some one had set him up on
that wall to bake. He is drawn all together; his chin sunk in between
his knees, his knees hooped together with his dreadfully slim arms, a
round head, sleek and shining as an oiled gourd; _sans_ teeth; eyes like
the last drops in desert wells; the skeleton sharply protruding; no
motion; apparently no life beyond the quick and incessant blinking of
the eyelids,--the curtains fluttering in the half-shut windows of the
soul. _Is_ it a man and a brother? Yes, verily! When the uncaptured
crew of the Resolution poured their iron shot into the tents of the
adversary, this flickering life was young and vigorous, and he ran like
a good fellow. Better to have died in his fiery youth than to have
slowly withered away in this fashion. For here is the philosophy of
mammon left to itself: when you get to be an old native, it is your
business to die; if you don't know your business, you are left to find
it out: what are you good for but to bury?

Let us slip over the smooth bay, for we must look into one of these
caverns. Cross in this canoe, so narrow that we cannot get into it at
all, but balance ourself on its rim and hold our breath for fear of
upsetting. These odd-looking out-riggers are honest enough in theory,
but treacherous in practice; and a shark has his eye on us back
yonder. Sharks are mesmeric in their motions through the water, and
corpse-colored.

A new guide helps us to the most easily reached cave, and with the lad
and his smoking torch we climb into the dusky mouth.

There is dust everywhere and cobwebs as thick as cloth, hanging in
tatters. An almost interminable series of small cells, just high enough
to straighten one's back in, leads us farther and farther into the
mountain of bones. This cave has been pillaged too often to be very
ghostly now. We find a little parcel of bones here. It might have been a
hand and an arm once, cunning and dexterous. It is nothing now but a
litter. Here is an infant's skull, but broken, thin and delicate as a
sea-shell, and full of dust. Here is a tougher one, whole and solid; the
teeth well set and very white; no sign of decay in any one of these
molars. Perhaps it is because so little of their food is even warm when
they eat it. This rattles as we lift it. The brain and the crumbs of
earth are inseparably wedded. Come with us, skull. You look scholarly,
and shall lie upon our desk,--a solemn epistle to the living. But the
cave is filled with the vile smoke of our torch, and we are choked with
the heat and dust. Let us out as soon as possible. The Great Navigator's
skeleton cannot be hidden in this tomb. Down we scramble into the sand
and shadow by the water, and talk of departing out of this place of
relics.

We are to cross the lava southward where it is frescoed with a
wilderness of palm-trees: for when the mountain came down to the sea,
flowing red-hot, but cooling almost instantly, it mowed down the forests
of palms, and the trunks were not consumed, but lay half buried in the
cooling lava, and now you can mark every delicate fibre of the bark in
the lava, as firm as granite.

Still farther south lies the green slope that was so soon to be shaken
to its foundations. I wonder if we could discover any of the peculiar
loveliness that bewitched us the evening we crossed it in silence. There
was something in the air that said, "Peace, peace"; and we passed over
the fatal spot without speaking. But the sea spoke under the cliffs
below us, and the mountain has since replied.

This place is named prettily, _Kealekakua_. You see that mountain? There
are paths leading to it. Thither the gods journeyed in the days of old.
So the land is called "the path of the gods."

It is a cool, green spot up yonder; the rain descends upon it in
continual baptism. The natives love these mountains and the sea. They
are the cardinal points of their compass. Every direction given you is
either toward the mountain or toward the sea.

There is much truth in the Arabian tale, and it is time to acknowledge
it. Mountains are magnetic. The secret of their magnetism may lie in the
immobility of their countenances. Praise them to their face, and they
are not flattered; forget them for a moment: but turn again, and see
their steadfast gaze! You feel their earnestness. It is imposing, and
you cannot think lightly of it. Who forgets the mountains he has once
seen? It is quite probable the mountain cares little for your
individuality: but it has given part of itself to the modelling of your
character; it has touched you with the wand of its enchantment; you are
under the spell. Somewhere in the recesses of this mountain are locked
the bones of the Great Navigator, but these mountains have kept the
secret.



[Decoration]

A CANOE-CRUISE IN THE CORAL SEA.


If you can buy a canoe for two calico shirts, what will your annual
expenses in Tahiti amount to? This was a mental problem I concluded to
solve, and, having invested my two shirts, I began the solution in this
wise: My slender little treasure lay with half its length on shore, and,
being quite big enough for two, I looked about me, seeking some one to
sit in the bows, for company and ballast.

Up and down the shady beach of Papeete I wandered, with this
advertisement written all over my anxious face:----

    "WANTED--A crew about ten years of age; of a mild disposition,
    and with no special fondness for human flesh; not particular as
    to sex! Apply immediately, at the new canoe, under the
    breadfruit-tree, Papeete, South Pacific."

Some young things were pitching French coppers so earnestly they didn't
read my face; some were not seafaring, at that moment; while most of
them evidently ate more than was good for them, which might result
disastrously in a canoe-cruise, and I set my heart against them. The
afternoon was waning, and my ill-luck seemed to urge upon me the
necessity of my constituting a temporary press-gang for the kidnapping
of the required article.

"Who is anxious to go to sea with me?" I bawled, returning through the
crowds of young gamblers, all intently disinterested in everything but
"pitch and toss." Not far away a group of wandering minstrels--such as
make musical the shores of Tahiti--sat in the middle of the street,
chanting. One youth played with considerable skill upon a joint of
bamboo, of the flute species, but breathed into from the nostrils,
instead of the lips. Three or four minor notes were piped at uncertain
intervals, playing an impromptu variation upon the air of the singers.
Drawing near, the music was suspended, and I proposed shipping one of
the melodious vagabonds, whereupon the entire chorus expressed a
willingness to accompany me, in any capacity whatever, remarking, at the
same time, that "they were a body bound, so to speak, by chords of
harmony, and any proposal to disband them would, by it, be regarded as
highly absurd." Then I led the solemn procession of volunteers to my
canoe, and we regarded it in silence; it was something larger than a
pea-pod, to be sure, but about the shape of one. After a moment of
deliberation, during which a great throng of curious spectators had
assembled, the orchestra declared itself in readiness to ship before the
paddle for the trifling consideration of $17. I knew the vague notion
that money is money, call it dollar or dime, generally entertained by
the innocent children of Nature; and, dazzling the unaccustomed eyes of
the flutist with a new two-franc piece, he immediately embarked. The
bereaved singers sat on the shore and lifted up their voices in
resounding discord, as the canoe slid off into the still waters, and my
crew, with commendable fortitude, laid down the nose-flute, took up the
paddle, and we began our canoe-cruise.

The frail thing glided over the waves as though invisible currents were
sweeping her into the hereafter; the shore seemed to recede, drawing the
low, thatched houses into deeper shadow; other canoes skimmed over the
sea, like great water-bugs, while the sun set beyond the sharp outlines
of beautiful Morea, glorifying it and us.

There was a small islet not far away,--an islet as fair and fragrant as
a bouquet,--looking, just then, like a mote in a sheet of flame. Thither
I directed the reformed flutist, and then let myself relapse into the
all-embracing quietness that succeeds nearly every vexation that flesh
is heir to.

There was something soothing in the nature of my crew. He sat with his
back to me,--a brown back, that glistened in the sun, and arched itself,
from time to time, cat-like, as though it was very good to be brown and
bare and shiny. From the waist to the feet fell the resplendent folds
of a _pareu_, worn by all Tahitians, of every possible age and sex, and
consisted, in this case, of a thin breadth of cloth, stamped with a deep
blue firmament, in which supernaturally yellow suns were perpetually
setting in several spots. A round head topped his chubby shoulders, and
was shaven from the neck to the crown, with a matted forelock of the
blackness of darkness falling to the eyes and keeping the sun out of
them. One ear was enlivened with a crescent of beaten gold, which
decoration, having been won at "pitch and toss," will probably never
again, in the course of human events, meet with its proper mate. On the
whole, he looked just a little bit like a fan-tail pigeon with its wings
plucked.

At this point my crew suddenly rose in the bows of the canoe, making
several outlandish flourishes with his broad paddle. I was about to
demand the occasion of his sudden insanity, when we began to grate over
some crumbling substance that materially impeded our progress and
suggested all sorts of disagreeable sensations,--such as knife-grinding
in the next yard, saw-filing round the corner, etc. It was as though we
were careering madly over a multitude of fine-tooth combs. With that
caution which is inseparable from canoe-cruising in every part of the
known world, I leaned over the side of my personal property and
penetrated the bewildering depths of the coral sea.

Were we, I asked myself, suspended about two feet above a garden of
variegated cauliflowers? Or were the elements wafting us over a minute
winter-forest, whose fragile boughs were loaded with prismatic crystals?

The scene was constantly changing: now it seemed a disordered bed of
roses,--pink, and white, and orange; presently we were floating in the
air, looking down upon a thousand-domed mosque, pale in the glamour of
the Oriental moon; and then a wilderness of bowers presented
itself,--bowers whose fixed leaves still seemed to quiver in the slight
ripple of the sea,--blossoming for a moment in showers of buds, purple,
and green, and gold, but fading almost as soon as born. I could scarcely
believe my eyes, when these tiny, though marvellously brilliant fish
shot suddenly out from some lace-like structure, each having the lurid
and flame-like beauty of sulphurous fire, and all turning instantly, in
sudden consternation at finding us so near, and secreting themselves in
the coral pavilion that amply sheltered them. Among the delicate anatomy
of these frozen ferns our light canoe was crashing on its way. I saw the
fragile structures overwhelmed with a single blow from the young savage,
who stood erect, propelling us onward amid the general ruins. With my
thumb and finger I annihilated the laborious monuments of centuries, and
saw havoc and desolation in our wake.

There, in one of God's reef-walled and cliff-sheltered _aquaria_, we
drifted, while the sky and sea were glowing with the final, triumphant
gush of sunset radiance. Fefe at last broke the silence, with an
interrogation: "Well, how you feel?" "Fefe," I replied, "I feel as
though I were some good and faithful bee, sinking into a sphere of
amber, for a sleep of a thousand years." Fefe gave a deep-mouthed and
expressive grunt, as he laid his brown profile against the sunset sky,
thereby displaying his solitary ear-ring to the best advantage, and with
evident personal satisfaction. "And how do you feel, Fefe?" I asked. He
was mum for a moment; arched his back like any wholesome animal when the
sun has struck clean through it; ejaculated an ejaculation with his
tongue and teeth that cannot possibly be spelled in English, and
thereupon his nostril quivered spasmodically, and was only comforted by
the immediate application of his nose-flute, through which dulcet organ
he confessed his deep and otherwise unutterable joy. I blessed him for
it, though there were but three notes, all told, and those minors and a
trifle flat.

Fefe's impassioned soul having subsided, we both looked over to
beautiful Morea, nine miles away. How her peaks shone like steel, and
her valleys looked full of sleep! while here and there one golden ray
lingered for a moment to put the final touch to a fruit it was ripening
or a flower it was painting,--for they each have their perfect work
allotted to them, and they don't leave it half completed.

It was just the hour that harmonizes everything in nature, and when
there is no possible discord in all the universe. The fishes were
baptizing themselves by immersion in space, and kept leaping into the
air, like momentary inches of chain-lightning. Our islet swam before us,
spiritualized,--suspended, as it were, above the sea,--ready at any
moment to fade away. The waves had ceased beating upon the reef; the
clear, low notes of a bell vibrating from the shore called us to prayer.
Fefe knew it, and was ready,--so was I; and with bare heads and souls
utterly at peace we gave our hearts to God--for the time being!

Then came the hum of voices and the rustle of renewed life. On we
pressed towards our islet, under the increasing shadows of the dusk. A
sloping beach received us; the young cocoa-palms embraced one another
with fringed branches. Through green and endless corridors we saw the
broad disk of the full moon hanging above the hill.

Fefe at once chose a palm, and having ascended to its summit cast down
its fruit. Descending, he planted a stake in the earth, and striking a
nut against its sharpened top soon laid open the fibrous husk, with
which a fire was kindled.

Taking two peeled nuts in his hands, he struck one against the other and
laid open the skull of it,--a clear sort of scalping that aroused me to
enthusiasm. There is one end of a cocoa-nut's skull as delicate as a
baby's, and a well-directed tap does the business; possibly the same
result would follow with those of infants of the right age,--twins, for
instance. Fefe agrees with me in this theory, now first given to the
public.

Then followed much talk, on many topics, over our tropical
supper,--said supper consisting of sea-weed salad, patent self-stuffing
banana-sausages, and cocoa-nut hash. We argued somewhat, also, but in
South Pacific fashion,--which would surely spoil, if imported; I only
remember, and will record, that Fefe regarded the nose-flute as a
triumph of art, and considered himself no novice in musical science, as
applicable to nose-flutes in a land where there is scarcely a nose
without its particular flute, and many a flute is silent forever,
because its special nose is laid among the dust.

Having eaten, I proposed sleeping on the spot, and continuing the cruise
at dawn. "Why should we return to the world and its cares, when the sea
invites us to its isles? Nature will feed us. In that blest land,
clothing has not yet been discovered. Let us away!" I cried. At this
juncture, voices came over the sea to us,--voices chanting like sirens
upon the shore. Instinctively Fefe's nose-flute resumed its _tremolo_,
and I knew the day was lost. "Come!" said the little rascal, as though
he were captain and I the crew, and he dragged me toward the skiff. With
terrific emphasis, I commanded him to desist. "Don't imagine," I said,
"that this is a modern _Bounty_, and that it is your duty to rise up in
mutiny for the sake of dramatic justice. Nature never repeats herself,
therefore come back to camp!"

But he wouldn't come. I knew I should lose my canoe unless I followed,
or should have to paddle back alone,--no easy task for one unaccustomed
to it. So I moodily embarked with him; and having pushed off into deep
water, he sounded a note of triumph that was greeted with shouts on
shore, and I felt that my fate was sealed.

It had been my life-dream to bid adieu to the human family, with one or
two exceptions; to sever every tie that bound me to anything under the
sun; to live close to Nature, trusting her, and getting trusted by her.

I explained all this to the young "Kanack," who was in a complete state
of insurrection, but failed to subdue him. Overhead the air was flooded
with hazy moonlight; the sea looked like one immeasurable drop of
quicksilver, and upon the summit of this luminous sphere our shallop was
mysteriously poised. A faint wind was breathing over the ocean; Fefe
erected his paddle in the bows, placed against it a broad mat that
constituted part of my outfit for that new life of which I was
defrauded, and on we sped like a belated sea-bird seeking its mossy
nest.

Beneath us slept the infinite creations of another world, gleaming from
the dark bosom of the sea with an unearthly pallor, and seeming to
reveal something of the forbidden mysteries that lie beyond the grave.
"La Petite Pologne," whispered Fefe, as he arched his back for the last
time, and stepped on shore at the foot of this singular rendezvous,--a
narrow lane threading the groves of Papeete, bordered by wine-shops,
bakeries, and a convent-wall, lit at night by smoky lanterns hanging
motionless in the dead air of the town, and thronged from 7 P. M. till
10 P. M. by people from all quarters of the globe.

Fefe having resumed his profession as soon as his bare foot was on his
native heath again, the minstrels moved in a hollow square through the
centre of La Petite Pologne. They were rendering some Tahitian
madrigal,--a three-part song, the solo, or first part, of which being
got safely through with,--a single stanza,--it was repeated as a duo,
and so re-repeated through simple addition with a gradually-increasing
chorus; the nose-flute meantime getting delirious, and sounding its
_finale_ in an ecstasy prolonged to the point of strangulation, when the
whole unceremoniously terminated, and everybody took a rest and a fresh
start. During these performances, the audience was dense and
demonstrative. Fefe was in his element, sitting with his best side to
the public, and flaunting his ear-ring mightily. A dance followed: a
dance always follows in that land of light hearts, and as one after
another was ushered into the arena and gave his or her body to the
interpretation of such songs as would startle Christian ears,--albeit
there be some Christian hearts less tender, and Christian lips less
true,--to my surprise, Fefe abandoned his piping and danced before me,
and then came a flash of intuition,--rather late, it is true, but still
useful as an explanatory supplement to my previous vexations. "Fefe!" I
gasped (Fefe is the Tahitian for _Elephantiasis_), and my Fefe raised
his or her skirts, and danced with a shocking leg. I really can't tell
you _what_ Fefe was. You never can tell by the name. He might have been
a boy, or she might have been a girl, all the time. I don't know that it
makes any particular difference to me what it was, but I cannot
encourage elephantiasis in anything, and therefore I concluded my naval
engagement with Fefe, and solemnly walked toward my chamber, scarcely a
block off. The music followed me to my door with a song of some kind or
other, but the real nature of which I was too sensitive to definitely
ascertain.

Gazelle-eyed damsels, with star-flowers dangling from their ears,
obstructed the way. The _gendarmes_ regarded me with an eye single to
France and French principles. Mariners arrayed in the blue of their own
sea and the white of their own breakers bore down upon us with more than
belonged to them. Men of all colors went to and fro, like mad
creatures; women followed; children careered hither and thither. Wild
shouts rent the air; there was an intoxicating element that enveloped
all things. The street was by no means straight, though it could
scarcely have been narrower; the waves staggered up the beach, and
reeled back again; the moon leered at us, looking blear-eyed as she
leaned against a cloud; and half-nude bodies lay here and there in dark
corners, steeped to the toes in rum. Out of this human maelstrom, whose
fatal tide was beginning to sweep me on with it, I made a plunge for my
door-knob and caught it. Twenty besetting sins sought to follow me,
covered with wreaths and fragrant with sandalwood oil; twenty besetting
sins rather pleasant to have around one, because by no means as
disagreeable as they should be. Fefe was there also, and I turned to
address him a parting word,--a word calculated to do its work in a soil
particularly mellow.

"Fefe," I said, "how can I help regarding it as a dispensation of
Providence that your one leg is considerably bigger than your other? How
can I expect you, with your assorted legs, to walk in that straight and
narrow way wherein I have frequently found it inconvenient to walk
myself, to say nothing of the symmetry of my own extremities? Therefore,
adieu, child of the South, with your one ear-ring and your piano-forte
leg; adieu--forever."

With that I closed my door upon the scene, and strove to bury myself in
oblivion behind the white window-shade. In vain: the shadow with the
mustache and goatee still pursued the shadow with the flowing locks that
fled too slowly. Voices faint, though audible, indulged in allusions
more or less profane, and with a success which would be considered
highly improper in any latitude.

Thus sinking into an unquiet sleep, with a dream of canoe-cruising in a
coral sea, whose pellucid waves sang sadly upon the remote shores of an
ideal sphere, across the window loomed the gigantic shadow of some brown
beauty, whose vast proportions suggested nothing more lovely than a new
Sphinx, with a cabbage in either ear.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

UNDER A GRASS ROOF.

A LEAF TORN AT RANDOM FROM A TROPICAL NOTEBOOK.


At Kahakuloa, under a terrific hill and close upon a frothing tongue of
the sea, I draw rein. The act is simply a formality of mine; probably
the animal would have paused here of his own free will, for he has been
rehearsing his stops a whole hour back, during which time he limped
somewhat and reaped determinedly the few tufts of dry grass that Nature
had provided him by the trail-side. The clouds are falling; the cliffs
are festooned with damp gauze; the air is moist and cool; a grass hut of
uncommon purity stands invitingly by. A moon-faced youth, whose spotless
garments appealed to me as he overtook our caravan a mile back, says,
"Will you eat and sleep?" I am but human, and a hungry and sleepy human
at that; so I tip off from my mule's back with gratitude and alacrity.
In a moment the fine linen of mine host is hung upon its peg, and a good
study of the Nude returns to me for further orders. I am literally
famishing, and the mule is already up to his ears in water-cress; but
then I have ridden and he has carried me. How just, O Mother Nature, are
thy judgments!

With the superb poses of a trained athlete, the Nude swings a fowl by
the neck, and shortly it is plucked and potted, together with certain
vegetables of the proper affinities. Then he swathes a fish in succulent
leaves, and buries it in hot ashes; and then he smokes his peace-pipe.
Pipe no sooner lighted than mouths mysteriously gather: five, ten, a
dozen of them magically assemble at the smell of smoke and take their
turn at the curled shell, with a hollow stalk for a mouth-piece. Dinner
at last. O, fish, fruit, and fowl on a mat on a floor in a grass hut at
evening! How excellent are these--amen! Night--supper over--some one
twanging upon a stringed instrument of rude native origin. Gossip
lags,--darkness and silence, and a cigarette. The Nude rises haughtily
and lights a lamp that looks very like a diminutive coffee-pot with a
great flame in the nose of it. He hangs it against a beam already
blackened with smoke to the peak of the roof. Again the peace-pipe
sweeps the home-circle, and is passed out to the mouths of the
neighborhood.

Guests drop down upon us and fill the one aperture of the hut with rows
of curious, welcoming faces; assorted dogs press through the door in
turn, receive a slap from each member of the family, and retreat with
invisible tails; sudden impulses set all tongues wagging in unison;
impulses, equally sudden and unaccountable, enjoin protracted intervals
of silence. The sea breathes heavily; there is a noise of rain-drops
sliding down the thatch. Guests disperse with a kind "_aloha_." We are
alone with the night. The spirit of repose descends upon us; one by one
the dusky members of mine host's household roll themselves into mummies
and lie in a solemn row along the side of the room, sleeping. I, also,
will sleep. A great bark-cloth (_kapa_) that rattles as though it had
received seven starchings, is all mine for covering,--a royal _kapa_
this, of exceeding stiffness. I lie with my eyes to the roof, and count
the beams that look like an arbor. What is it, as large as my thumb,
cased in brown armor? A roach!--a melancholy procession of roaches
passing from one side of the hut, over the roof, with their backs
downward, and descending on the other side by the beams,--a hundred of
them, perhaps, or a thousand: the cry is, "Still they come!" There is a
noise of tiny feet upon the roof, and it isn't rain; there is a sound as
of falling objects that escape before I can catch them. My hand rests
upon a cool, moist creature that writhes under it,--an animated spinal
column with four legs at one end of it. Away, thou slimy newt!
Something runs over the matting, making a still, small clatter as it
goes,--something looking like a toy train of dirt-cars. Ha! the
venomous and wily centipede! Put out the coffee-pot, for these sights
are horrible!

Now I will sleep with my face under the _kapa_,--silence, serene
silence, and darkness profound; the sea beating in agony at the foot of
the big hill,--a time for lofty and sublime revery. More rain outside
the hut; gusts of wind, wailing as they rush past us. Thanks for this
shelter. My pillow saturated with cocoa-nut oil--ah, what savage dreams
may have disturbed these sleepers! No matter. Will get a wink of sleep
before daybreak. Sleep, at last,--how refreshing art thou!

Hello! the coffee-pot in a blaze again; the Nude smoking his
peace-pipe; children eating and making merry. Daybreak? No; midnight,
perchance,--darkness without, darkness once more (by request) within.
"Come again, bright dream." Horror! the house shaken as by an
earthquake,--gnashing of teeth distinctly audible; the mule undoubtedly
eating up the side of the grass hut! Anon, quiet restored. A suggestion
of moonlight through the open door; the twanging of the stringed affair;
a responsive twang in the distance. Some one steals cautiously forth
into the starlight. All is not well in Kahakuloa. Rain over; mule
vegetating elsewhere; roaches subdued; sea comparatively quiet. Welcome,
kind Nature's sweet restorer!... Humming of voices; rolling of dogs
about the house; ditto of children ditto; broad daylight, and breakfast
waiting. Mule saddled, and, with a mouthful of roses, looking fresh and
happy. Mule-boy eager for the fray. Time up. Adieu, adieu--O beautiful
Kahakuloa! I must away,

Above the terrible hill hang clouds and shadows; fringes of rain obscure
the trail as it climbs persistently to heaven; but up that trail, into
and through those clouds and shadows, I pursue my solitary pilgrimage.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

MY SOUTH-SEA SHOW.


High in her lady's-chamber sat Gail, looking with calm eyes through the
budding maples across the hills of spring. Her letter was but half
finished, and the village post was even then ready; so she woke out of
her revery, and ended the writing as follows:


            "SPRING, ----.

    "I know not where you may be at this moment,--living with what
    South-Sea Island god, drinking the milk of cocoa-nut, and
    eating bread-fruit,--but wherever you are, forget not your
    promise to come home again, bringing your sheaves with you."


Anon she sealed it and mailed it, and it was hurried away, over land and
sea, till, after many days, it found me drinking my cocoa-milk and
refreshing myself with bread-fruits.

Anon I replied to her, not on the green enamel of a broad leaf, with a
thorn stylet, but upon the blank margins of Gail's letter, with my last
half-inch of pencil. I said to her:--


            "SUMMER, ----.

    "By and by I will come to you, when the evenings are very long,
    and the valley is still. I will cross the lawn in silence, and
    stand knocking at the south entry. Deborah will open the door
    to me with fear and trembling, for I shall be sunburnt and
    brawny, with a baby cannibal under each arm. Then at a word a
    tattooed youngster shall reach her a Tahitian pearl, and I will
    cry, 'Give it to Mistress Gail'; whereat Deborah will willingly
    withdraw, leaving me motionless in the dead leaves by the south
    entry. You will take the token, dear Gail, and know it as the
    symbol of my return. You will come and greet us, and lead us to
    the best chamber, and we will feast with you as long as you
    like,--I and my cannibals."

I was never quite sure of what Gail said to my letter, but I knew her
for a true soul; so I gathered my cannibals under my metaphorical wings,
and journeyed unto the village, and came into it at sunset, while it was
autumn. We passed over the lawn in silence, and stood knocking at the
south entry, in real earnest. Deborah came at last, and the little
striped fellow bore aloft his pearl of Tahitian beauty, while I gave my
message, and Deborah was terrified and thought she was dreaming. But she
took the pearl and went, and we stood in the keen air of autumn, and my
South Sea babies were very cold and moaned pitifully under my arms, and
the little pearl-bearer shivered in all his stripes, and capered in the
dead leaves like an imp of darkness.

Then Gail came to us and let us in, and we camped by the great fire in
the sitting-room, whither Deborah brought bowls of new milk for the
little ones, and was wonderfully amazed at their quaintness and beauty,
but quite failed to affiliate with my striped pearl-bearer.

So I said, "Sit you down, Deborah, and hear the true story of my Zebra."
Gail had already captured the bronze babies, and was helping them with
their bowls of milk as they nestled at her feet, and I took my striped
beauty between my knees and stroked his soft wool, and told how he saved
me from a watery death, and again from the fiery stake, and was doubly
dear to me forevermore:--

"We were at the island of Pottobokee, getting water and fruit; had
stacked the last sack of mangoes and limes in the boat, and were off for
the ship, glad to escape with our scalps, when a wave took us amidships
on the reef, and we swamped in the dreadful spume. Some were drowned;
some clung to the boat, though it was stove badly, while relief came
from the vessel as quickly as possible, and the fragments were gathered
out of the waves and taken aboard.

"They thought themselves lucky to escape with the remnants, for they
knew the natives for cannibals, and the shore was black and noisy within
ten minutes after the accident. It looked stormy in that neighborhood:
hence the caution and haste of the relief-crew, who left me for
drowned, I suppose, as they never came after me, but spread everything,
and went out of sight before dark that evening.

"I was no swimmer at all, but I kicked well, and was about diving the
fatal dive,--last of three warnings that seem providentially allotted
the luckless soul in its extremity: I was just upon the third sinking,
when a tough little arm gripped me under the breast, and I hung over it
limp and senseless, knowing nothing further of my deliverance, until I
found myself a captive in Kabala-kum,--a heathenish sort of paradise, a
little way back from the sea-coast.

"The natives had given up all hope of feasting upon me, for there wasn't
a respectable steak in my whole carcass, nor was my appetite promising;
so they resolved to make a bonfire of me, to get me out of the way. But
that tough little arm that saved me from an early grave in the water was
husband to a tough little heart, that resolved I shouldn't be burnt. I
was his private and personal property; he had fished me out of the sea;
he would cook me in his own style when he got ready, and no one else was
to have a word in the matter.

"There he showed his royal blood, Deborah, for he was the King's son:
this marvellous tattooing proclaims his rank. Only the noble and brave
are permitted to brand these rainbows into their brown skins.

"I was almost frightened when I first returned to consciousness, and saw
this little fellow pawing me in his tender and affectionate way. He was
lithe as a panther, and striped all over with brilliant and changeless
stripes; so I called him my boy Zebra, and I suppose he called me his
white mouse, or something of that sort.

"Well, he saved me at all events; and having heard something of you and
Gail from me, he wanted to see you very much, and we made our escape
together, though he had to sacrifice all his bone-jewelry, and lots of
skulls and scalps: and here he is, and you must like him, Deborah,
because he is a little heathen, and doesn't go to sabbath school, as a
general thing, and worships idols very badly."

Deborah did me the compliment to absorb a tear in the broad hem of her
apron, at the conclusion of my episode, whereat my beautiful Zebra
regarded her in utter amazement, then turned his queer face--ringed,
streaked, and striped--up to mine, and laughed his barbaric laugh. He
was wonderful to see, with his breast like a pigeon; his round, supple,
almost voluptuous limbs, peculiar to his amphibious tribe; his head
crowned with a turban of thick wool, so fine and flossy, it looked as
though it had been carded: it stood two inches deep at a tangent from
his oval pate.

From his woolly crown to the soles of his feet, my Zebra was frescoed in
the most brilliant and artistic fashion. Every color under the sun
seemed pricked into his skin (there he discounted the zebras, who are
limited in their combinations of light and shade): this, together with
the multiplicity of figures therein wrought, was a never-failing joy to
me. O my Zebra! how did you ever grow so splendid off yonder in the
South Seas?

We chatted that evening by Gail's fire, till my Zebra's woolly head went
clean to the floor, and he looked like some prostrate idol about to be
immolated on that Christian hearth; and the baby cannibals were as funny
as two little brown rabbits, with their ears clipped, nestling at Gail's
patient feet.

It was fully nine o'clock by this time, so Deborah got the Bible,
smoothed out her apron, and opened it thereon, while she read a chapter.
We sat by the fire and listened. I heard the earnest voice of the
reader, while the autumn winds rose in gusts, and puffed out the
curtains now and then. I thought of the chilly nights and frosty
mornings we were to endure,--we exiles of the South. I thought of the
snows that were to follow, and of the little idolaters sleeping through
the gospel, with deaf ears, while their hearts panted high in some dream
of savage joy.

There was a big bed made up on the floor of my room,--the best chamber
at Gail's,--and there I laid out my little pets, tucking them in with
infinite concern; for they looked so like three diminutive mummies, as
they lay there, that I didn't know whether they would think it worth
while to wake up again into life; and what would I be worth then,
without my wild boys?--I, who was born, by some mischance, out of my
tropical element, and whose birthright is Polynesia! Gail laughed when
she saw me fretting so, and she patted the curly heads of the babies,
and stroked the Zebra's shaggy pate, and said "Good night" to us, as her
step measured the hall, and a door closed in the distance; whereupon,
instead of freezing in the icy linen of the spare bed at the other end
of the room, I crept softly into the nest of cannibals, and we slept
like kittens until morning.

At a seasonable hour the next day, I got my jewels--my little inhuman
jewels--into their thick, winter clothes again, and we trotted down to
breakfast, as hungry as bears. Deborah was good enough to embrace both
the little ones, but she gave the Zebra a wide berth, and was not
entirely satisfied at leaving him loose in the house.

He was rather odd-looking, I confess. He used to curl up under the table
and go to sleep, at all hours of the day,--I think it was the cold
weather that encouraged him in it,--stretching himself, now and then,
like a spaniel, and showing his sharp saw-teeth in a queer way, when he
laughed in his dreams. Presently Gail came in, and we sat at table,
and came near to eating her out of house and home. Deborah said
grace,--rather a long one, considering we were so hungry,--a grace in
which my babies were not forgotten, and the Zebra was made the subject
of a special prayer. To my horror, Zebra was helping himself
surreptitiously to the nearest dish, the while. It was a merry meal. I
rose in the midst of it, and laid before Gail an enormous placard,
printed in as many colors as even the Zebra could boast, and Gail read
it out to Deborah:--

                            =JENKINS' HALL.=
                         ~IMMENSE ATTRACTION!~
                         _FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY!_
                             HOKY AND POKY,
          A BRACE OF SOUTH-SEA BABIES, FROM THE ANCIENT RIVERS
                             OF KABALA-KUM,

                                --AND--

                          ~THE WONDERFUL BOY~
                                 ZEBRA,
        A CANNIBAL PRINCE, FROM THE PALMY PLAINS OF POTTOBOKEE,
                   =IN THEIR GRAND MORAL DIVERSION=.

      [hand pointing right] The first and only opportunity is now
        afforded the great public to observe with safety how the
        heathen, in his blindness, bows down to wood and stone.

     [hand pointing right] These are the only original and genuine
     representatives of the Kabalakumists and Pottobokees that ever
                        left their coral strand.

                 ADMISSION, ----. CHILDREN, HALF PRICE.

Deborah was awed into silence, and Gail was apparently thinking over the
possible result of this strange advertisement, for she said nothing, but
took deliberate sips of coffee, and broke the dry toast between her
fingers, while she looked at all four of us savages in a peculiar and
ominous manner. Nothing was said, however, to disparage any further
announcement of the entertainment; and, having appeased our hunger, we
adjourned to the reading of another chapter, during which the South Sea
babies _would_ play cat's-cradles under Gail's writing-table, and the
Zebra put his foot into the middle of her work-basket, and was very
miserable indeed.

My hands were full of business. As an _impressario_ I had to rush about
all day, mustering the Great Public for the evening. Out I went, full of
it, while the bronze midgets were left in charge of Gail and Deborah,
and the Zebra was locked in an upper room, with plenty to eat, and no
facilities for getting into mischief. I saw the leading men in town: the
preacher, who was deeply interested, proposing to take up a collection
on the next sabbath, for our benefit,--which proposition I received with
a graceful acquiescence peculiarly my own; the professor, at the
Seminary, who was less affable, but whose pupils were radiant at the
prospect of getting into the cannibals at reduced rates; and the
editor, who desired to print full biographies of myself and cannibals,
with portraits and fac-simile of autographs. He strongly urged
the plausibility of this new method of winning the heart of the
Great Public, and was willing to take my note for thirty days, in
consideration of his personal friendship for me, and his sympathy, as a
public man and a member of the press, with the show business.

Everything worked so nicely that it really seemed quite providential
that I had come, as I had, like anything in the night,--noiseless and
unheralded. Everything was in good order, and, after our late dinner, I
went out again, to finish for the evening,--portioning off my charges,
as before, and returning, at the last moment, to bring them up to the
hall for their _début_. But judge of my horror at finding my Zebra
stretched upon the floor of his room, quite insensible; and all this
time, Jenkins's Hall was thronged with the Great Public, who had come to
see us bow down to wood and stone.

I was greatly alarmed. What could this sudden attack mean? He was not
subject to disorders of that nature,--at least, I had never seen him in
a similar condition. The little fellows began to cry, in their peculiar
fashion, which is simply raising the voice to the highest and shrillest
pitch, and then shaking to an unlimited degree. Gail was by no means
charmed at these new developments, and Deborah fled from the room. In a
moment the cause of our trouble was disclosed. Gail's cologne bottles
were exhumed from under the bed--but quite empty. Their contents had
been imbibed by the Zebra in an extemporaneous bacchanalian festival,
tendered to himself by himself, in honor of the occasion.

It was useless to borrow further trouble, so I prepared my apology: "The
sudden indisposition peculiar to young cannibals during the early
stages of a public and Christian career had quite prostrated the
representative from many a palmy plain; and the South Sea babies would
endeavor to fill the vacancy caused by his absence with several new and
interesting features not set down in the bills."

I was most cordially received by the audiences and the little midgets
danced their weird and fantastic dances, in the least possible clothing
imaginable, and sang their love-lyrics, and chanted their passionate
war-chants, and gave the funeral wail in a manner that reflected the
highest credit upon their respective South-Sea papas and mammas. I
considered it an entire success, and pocketed the proceeds with
considerable satisfaction.

But to return to my poor little Zebra. His cologne-spree had been quite
too much for him. He was mentally and physically demoralized, and could
be of no use to me, professionally, for a week, at least. I at once saw
this, and as I had two or three engagements during that time, I begged
Gail to allow him to remain with her during his convalescence, while I
went on with the babes and fulfilled my engagements. She consented.
Deborah also promised to be very good to him. I think she took a deeper
interest in him when she found how very human he was,--a fact she did
not fully realize until he took to drinking.

On we went, through three little villages, in three little valleys, with
crowded houses every evening. Delighted and enthusiastic audiences
wanted the midgets passed around, just as we passed the bone fish-hooks
and shark's-teeth combs, for inspection.

About this time I received a short and decisive epistle from Gail,--an
immediate summons home. The Zebra, in an unwatched moment, had got into
the kerosene, and was considered no longer a welcome guest at Gail's.
Deborah was praying with him daily, which didn't seem to have the
desired effect, for he was growing worse and worse every hour.

There were at least seven towns anxiously awaiting my South-Sea Lecture,
with the "heathen in his blindness" attachment. Yet it was out of the
question to think of pressing on in my tour, thereby sacrificing my poor
Zebra, and possibly Gail as well. I feared it was already too late to
save him, for I knew the nature of his ailment, and foresaw the almost
inevitable result. When we returned, Gail met us with tears in her eyes
and furrows of care foreshadowed in her face. I felt how great a
responsibility I had shifted upon her shoulders, and accused myself
roundly for such selfishness. The babes rushed into her arms with the
first impulse of love, and refused to allow her out of their sight again
for some hours.

Deborah was, even then, wrestling with the angels up in Zebra's room,
and I waited until she came down, with her eyes red and swollen,--a
bottle of physic in one hand and a Bible in the other; then I went in
to my poor, thin, shadowy little Zebra, who was wild-eyed and nervous,
and scarcely knew me at first, but went off into hysterics the moment he
found me out, to make up for it. He had had no opportunity of speaking
to any one, save in his broken English, for several days, and he rushed
into a torrent of ejaculations so violent and confusing that I was
thoroughly alarmed at his condition. Presently he grew quieter, from
sheer exhaustion, and then I learned how he had taken Deborah's
well-intended efforts toward his spiritual conversion. _He believed her
praying him to death!_ Deborah knew nothing of the sensitive organism of
these islanders. When moved by a spirit of revenge, they threaten one
another with prayers. Incantations are performed and sacrifices offered,
under which fearful spells the unhappy victim of revenge cannot think of
surviving. So he lies down and dies, without pain, or any effort on his
part; and all your physic is like so much water, administer it in what
proportions you choose.

I went into the garden, where I saw Gail under the maples,--the very
maples that were budding in pink and white when she wrote me the letter
bidding me come out of the South, bringing my sheaves with me. The
animated sheaves were even then swinging on the clothes-lines, and
taking life easily. "Gail," I said, "O Gail, the Zebra is a dead boy!"
Gail was shocked, and silent. I told her how useless, how hopeless it
was to think of saving him. All the doctors and all the medicines in the
world were a fallacy where the soul was overshadowed with a malediction.
"Gail," I said, "that Zebra says he wants to be an angel, and he
couldn't possibly have decided upon anything more unreasonable than
this. What shall I do without my Zebra?" And I walked off by myself, and
felt desperately, while Gail was wrapped in thought, and the babes
continued to do inexpressible things on the clothes-lines, to the
intense admiration of three small boys on the other side of the
garden-fence.

The doctor had already been called, and the physic that Deborah carried
about with her was a legitimate draught prescribed by him. Little did he
know of the death-angel that walks hand-in-hand with a superstition as
antique as Mount Ararat. So day by day the little Zebra grew more and
more slender, till his frail, striped skeleton stretched itself in a
hollow of the bed, and great gleaming eyes watched me as they would
devour me with deathless and passionate love.

Sometimes his soul seemed to steal out of his withering body and make
mysterious pilgrimages into its native clime. I heard him murmuring and
muttering in a language unfamiliar to me. I remembered that the chiefs
had a dialect of their own,--a vocabulary so sacred and secret that no
commoner ever dared to study out its meaning. This I took to be his
classical and royal tongue, for he was of the best blood of the kingdom,
and a King's heir.

Deborah, at the delicate suggestion of Gail, discontinued her
visitations to his chamber, as it seemed to excite him so sadly; but her
earnest soul never rested from prayer in his behalf till his last breath
was spent, and his splendid stripes grew livid for a moment, and seemed
to change like the dolphin's before their waning glories were faded out
in the lifeless flesh.

One twilight I took the midgets into the darkened room. They scarcely
knew the thin, drawn face, with the slender, wiry fingers locked over
it, but they recognized the death-stroke with prophetic instinct, and,
crouching at the foot of the bed, rocked their dusky bodies to and fro,
to and fro, wailing the death-wail for Zebra.

Then I longed for wings to fly away with my savage brood,--away, over
seas and mountains, till the palms waved again their phantom crests in
the mellow starlight, and the sea moaned upon the reef, and the rivulet
leaped from crag to crag through silence and shadow: where death seemed
but a grateful sleep; for the soul that dawned in that quiet life had
never known the wear and tear of this one, but was patient, and
peaceful, and ready at any hour of summons.

Dear Gail strove to comfort me in my tribulation; but the Great Public
went its way, and knew nothing of the young soul that was passing in
speedy death. Yet the Great Public was my guide, philosopher, and
friend. I could do nothing without its sanction and co-operation. I
basked in its smiles. I trembled at the thought of its displeasure; and
now death was robbing me of my hard-earned riches, and annihilating my
best attraction. No wonder I fretted myself, and berated my ill-fortune.
Poor Gail had her hands full to keep me within bounds. I rushed to the
Zebra's room, and vowed to him that if he wouldn't die just yet, I would
take him home at once to his kingdom, and we'd always live there, and
die there, by and by, when we were full of years.

Alas, it was too late! "I want to be an angel," reiterated my Zebra, his
thin face brightening with an unearthly light; "to be an angel,"
whispered that faint and failing voice, while his humid eyes glowed like
twin moons sinking in the far, mystical horizon of the new life he was
about to enter upon. I struggled with him no longer. I bowed down by his
pillow, and pressed the shadowy form of my once beautiful Zebra. "Well,
be an angel, little prince," said I; "be anything you please, now, for I
have done my best to save you, and failed utterly."

So he passed hence to his destiny; and his nation wept not, neither wore
they ashes upon their foreheads, nor burned seams in their flesh; for
they knew not of his fate. But there was a small grave digged in the
orchard, and at dusk I carried the coffin in my arms thither: how light
it was! he could have borne me upon his brawny shoulders once,--strong
as a lion's. Gail cried, and Deborah cried; and I was quite beside
myself. The mites of cannibals ate earth and ashes, and came nearly
naked to the obsequies, refusing to wear their jackets, though the air
was frosty and the night promised snow. We knelt there, to cover Zebra
for the last time, crying and shivering, and feeling very, _very_
miserable.

I took a little rest from business after that; seeing, meantime, a stone
cut in this manner:--

              Here lies,
          In this far land,
    A PRINCE OF THE SAVAGE SOUTH,
      And the Last of his Tribe.

But life called me into the arena again. A showman has little time to
waste in mourning over his losses, however serious they may be.

One frosty evening I got my brace of cannibals into the lumbering
ambulance that constituted my caravan, with our boxes of war-clubs and
carved whale's-teeth lashed on behind us; plenty of buffalo-robes around
us, and a layer of hot bricks underfoot, and so we started for our next
scene of action. The inexorable calls of the profession forbade our
lingering longer under Gail's hospitable roof; and it was not without
pangs of inexpressible sorrow that we turned from her door, and knew
not if we were ever again to enjoy the pure influences of her household.

My heart warmed toward poor, disconsolate Deborah in that moment, and I
forgave her all, which was the most Christian act I ever yet performed.
As we rode down the lane, I caught a glimpse of the low mound in the
orchard, and I buried my little barbarians under my great-coat, so as to
spare them a fresh sorrow, while I thought how, spring after spring,
that small grave would be covered with drifts of pale apple-blossoms,
and in the long winters it would be hidden under the paler drifts of
snow,--when it should be strewn with sea-shells, and laid away under a
cactus-hedge, in a dense and fragrant shade; and I gathered my little
ones closer to me, and said in my soul: "O, if the August Public could
only know them as I know them, it would doubt us less, and love us more!
The Zebra is gone, indeed, but my babes are here, fresh souls in perfect
bodies, like rareripe fruits, untouched as yet, with the nap and the dew
upon them." The stars sparkled and flashed in the cloudless sky, as we
hurried over the crisp ground,--a little, bereaved, benighted company of
South-Sea strollers, who ask your charity, and give their best in return
for it.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have told you of my South-Sea show. You may yet have an opportunity of
judging how you like it, provided my baby heathens don't insist upon
turning into angels before their time, after the manner of the lamented
Zebra. In the mean time, the dread of this not improbable curbing of my
high career is but one of the sorrows of a South-Sea showman.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

THE HOUSE OF THE SUN.


My Hawaiian oracle, Kahéle, having posed himself in compact and chubby
grace, awaited his golden opportunity, which was not long a coming. I
sat on the steps of L----'s veranda, and yawned frightfully, because
life was growing tedious, and I did not know exactly what to do next.
L----'s house was set in the nicest kind of climate, at the foot of a
great mountain, just at that altitude where the hot air stopped dancing,
though it was never cool enough to shut a door, or to think of wearing a
hat for any other purpose than to keep the sun out of one's eyes.
L----'s veranda ran out into vacancy as blank as cloudless sky and
shadowless sea could make it; in fact, all that the eye found to rest
upon was the low hill jutting off from one corner of the house beyond a
jasmine in blossom; and under the hill a flat-sailed schooner rocking in
a calm. I think there was nothing else down the slope of the mountain
but tangled yellow grass, that grew brown and scant as it crept into
the torrid zone, a thousand feet below us, and there it had not the
courage to come out of the earth at all; so the picture ended in a
blazing beach, with warm waves sliding up and down it, backed by
blue-watery and blue-airy space for thousands and thousands of miles.

Why should not a fellow yawn over the situation? especially as L---- was
busy and could not talk much, and L----'s books were as old as the hills
and a good deal drier.

Having yawned, I turned toward Kahéle, and gnashed my teeth. The little
rascal looked knowing; his hour had come. He fired off in broken
English, and the effect was something like this:--

"Suppose we sleep in House of the Sun,--we make plenty good sceneries?"

"And where is that?" quoth I.

Kahéle's little lump of a nose was jerked up toward the great mountain
at the back of L----'s house. "Haleakala!"[A] cried he, triumphantly,
for he saw he had resurrected my interest in life, and he felt that he
had a thing or two worth showing, a glimpse of which might content me
with this world, dull as I found it just then. "Haleakala--the House of
the Sun--up before us," said Kahéle.

        [A] Haleakala, an extinct crater in the Sandwich Islands,
            supposed to be the largest in the world.

"And to get into the Sun's House?"

"Make a good climb up, and go in from the top!"

Ha! to creep up the roof and drop in at the skylight: this were indeed a
royal adventure. "How long would it take?"

Kahéle waxed eloquent. That night we should sleep a little up on the
slope of the mountain, lodging with the _haolis_ (foreigners) among the
first clouds; in the morning we should surprise the sun in the turrets
of his temple; then down--down--down into the crater, that had been
strewn with ashes for a thousand years. After that, out on the other
side, toward the sea, where the trade-winds blew, and the country was
fresh and fruitful. The youngster sweated with enthusiasm while he
strove to make me comprehend the full extent of the delights pertaining
to this journey; and, as he finished, he made a rapid flank movement
toward the animals, staked a few rods away.

It was not necessary that I should consent to undertake this expedition.
He was eager to go, and he would see that I enjoyed myself when I went;
but go I must, now that he had made up my mind for me. I confess, I was
as wax in that climate. Yet, why not take this promising and uncommon
tour? The charm of travel is to break new paths. I ceased to yawn any
further over life. Kahéle went to the beasts, and began saddling them.
L----'s hospitality culminated in a bottle of cold, black coffee, and a
hamper of delicious sandwiches, such as Mrs. L---- excels in. I had
nothing to do but to go. It did look like a conspiracy; but, as I never
had the moral courage to fight against anything of that sort, I got into
the saddle and went.

Turning for a moment toward the brute's tail, overcome with conflicting
emotions, I said:--

"Adieu, dear L----, thou picture of boisterous industry! Adieu, Mrs.
L----, whose light is hid under the bushel of thy lord; but, as it warms
him, it is all right, I suppose, and thy reward shall come to thee some
day, I trust! By-by, multitudes of little L----s, tumbling recklessly in
the back-yard, crowned with youth and robust health and plenty of flaxen
curls! Away, Kahéle! for it is toward evening, and the clouds are
skating along the roof of the House of the Sun. Sit not upon the order
of your going, but strike spurs at once,--and away!"

It was thus that I relieved myself. The prospect of fresh adventure
intoxicated me. I do not believe I could have been bought off after that
enlivening farewell. The air of the highlands was charged with
electricity. I bristled all over with new life. I wanted to stand up in
my saddle and fly.

It seemed the boy had engaged a special guide for the crater,--one
accustomed to feeling his way through the bleak hollow, where any
unpractised feet must have surely gone astray. Kahéle offered him a
tempting bonus to head our little caravan at once, though it goes
sorely against the Hawaiian grain to make up a mind inside of three
days. Kahéle managed the financial department, whenever he had the
opportunity, with a liberality worthy of a purse ten times as weighty as
mine; but as he afterward assured me, that guide was a fine man, and a
friend of his whom it was a pleasure and a privilege to serve.

Of course, it was all right, since I couldn't help myself; and we three
pulled up the long slopes of Haleakala, while the clouds multiplied, as
the sun sank, and the evening grew awfully still. Somewhere up among the
low-hanging mist there was a house full of _haolis_, and there we
proposed to spend the night. We were looking for this shelter with all
our six eyes, while we rode slowly onward, having scarcely uttered a
syllable for the last half-hour. You know there are some impressive
sorts of solitude, that seal up a fellow's lips; he can only look about
him in quiet wonderment, tempered with a fearless and refreshing trust
in that Providence who has enjoined silence. Well, this was one of those
times; and right in the midst of it Kahéle sighted a smoke-wreath in the
distance. To me it looked very like a cloud, and I ventured to declare
it such; but the youngster frowned me down, and appealed to the special
guide for further testimony. The guide declined to commit himself in the
matter of smoke or mist, as he ever did on all succeeding occasions,
being a wise guide, who knew his own fallibility. It was smoke!--a
thin, blue ribbon of it, uncoiling itself from among the branches of the
overhanging trees, floating up and up and tying itself into double-bow
knots, and then trying to untie itself, but perishing in the attempt.

In the edge of the grove we saw the little white cottage of the
_haolis_; and, not far away, a camp-fire, with bright, red flames
dancing around a kettle, swung under three stakes with their three heads
together. Tall figures were moving about the camp, looking almost like
ghosts, in the uncertain glow of the fire; and toward these lights and
shadows we jogged with satisfaction, scenting supper from afar.

"Halloo!" said we, with voices that did not sound very loud, up in that
thin atmosphere.

"Halloo!" said they, with the deepest unconcern, as though they had been
through the whole range of human experience, and there was positively
nothing left for them to get excited over.

Some of their animals whinnied in a fashion that drew a response from
ours. A dog barked savagely, until he was spoken to, and then was
obliged to content himself with an occasional whine. Some animal--a
sheep, perhaps--rose up in the trail before us, and plunged into the
bush, sending our beasts back on their haunches with fright. A
field-cricket lifted up his voice and sang; and then a hundred joined
him; and then ten thousand times ten thousand swelled the chorus, till
the mountains were alive with singing crickets.

"Halloo, stranger! Come in and stop a bit, won't you?" That was our
welcome from the chief of the camp, who came a step or two forward, as
soon as we had ridden within range of the camp-fire.

And we went in unto them, and ate of their bread, and drank of their
coffee, and slept in their blankets,--or tried to sleep,--and had a
mighty good time generally.

The mountaineers proved to be a company of California miners, who had
somehow drifted over the sea, and, once on that side, they naturally
enough went into the mountains to cut wood, break trails, and make
themselves useful in a rough, out-of-door fashion. They had for
companions and assistants a few natives, who, no doubt, did the best
they could, though the Californians expressed considerable contempt for
the "lazy devils, who were fit for nothing but to fiddle on a
jew's-harp."

We ate of a thin, hot cake, baked in a frying-pan over that camp-fire;
gnawed a boiled bone fished out of the kettle swung under the three
sticks; drank big bowls of coffee, sweetened with coarse brown sugar and
guiltless of milk; and sat on the floor all the while, with our legs
crossed, like so many Turks and tailors. We went to our blankets as soon
as the camp-fire had smothered itself in ashes, though meanwhile Jack,
chief of the camp, gathered himself to windward of the flames, with his
hips on his heels and his chin on his knees, smoking a stubby pipe and
talking of flush times in California. He was one of those men who could
and would part with his last quarter, relying upon Nature for his bed
and board. He said to me, "If you can rough it, hang on a while,--what's
to drive you off?" I could rough it: the fire was out, the night chilly;
so we turned in under blue blankets with a fuzz on them like moss, and,
having puffed out the candle,--that lived long enough to avenge its
death in a houseful of villanous smoke,--we turned over two or three
times apiece, and, one after another, fell asleep. At the farther side
of the house lay the natives, as thick as sheep in a pen, one of them a
glossy black fellow, as sleek as a eunuch, born in the West Indies, but
whose sands of life had been scattered on various shores. This sooty
fellow twanged a quaint instrument of native workmanship, and twanged
with uncommon skill. His art was the life of that savage community at
the other end of the house. Again and again, during the night, I awoke
and heard the tinkle of his primitive harp, mingled with the
ejaculations of delight wrung from the hearts of his dusky and sleepless
listeners.

Once only was that midnight festival interrupted. We all awoke suddenly
and simultaneously, though we scarcely knew why; then the dog began to
mouth horribly. My blanket-fellows--beds we had none--knew there was
mischief brewing, and rushed out with their guns cocked. Presently the
dog came in from the brush, complaining bitterly, and one of the miners
shot at a rag fluttering among the bushes. In the morning we found a
horse gone, and a couple of bullet-holes in a shirt spread out to dry.
As soon as the excitement was over, we returned to the blankets and the
floor. The eunuch tuned his harp anew and, after a long while, dawn
looked in at the uncurtained window, with a pale, gray face, freckled
with stars.

Kahéle saw it as soon as I did, and was up betimes. I fancy he slept
little or none that night, for he was fond of music, and especially fond
of such music as had made the last few hours more or less hideous.
Everybody rose with the break of day, and there was something to eat
long before sunrise, after which our caravan, with new vigor, headed for
the summit.

Wonderful clouds swept by us; sometimes we were lost for a moment in
their icy depths. I could scarcely see the tall ears of my mule when we
rode into those opaque billows of vapor that swept noiselessly along the
awful heights we were scaling. It was a momentary but severe
bereavement, the loss of those ears and the head that went with them,
because I cared not to ride saddles that seemed to be floating in the
air. What was Prince Firouz Schah to me, or what was I to the Princess
of Bengal, that I should do this thing!

There are pleasanter sensations than that of going to heaven on
horseback; and we wondered if we should ever reach the point where we
could begin to descend again to our natural level, and talk with people
infinitely below us just then. Ten thousand perpendicular feet in the
air; our breath short; our animals weak in the knees; the ocean rising
about us like a wall of sapphire, on the top of which the sky rested
like a cover,--we felt as though we were shut in an exhausted receiver,
the victims of some scientific experiment for the delectation of the
angels. We were at the very top of the earth. There was nothing on our
side of it nearer to Saturn than the crown of our heads. It was deuced
solemn, and a trifle embarrassing. It was as though we were personally
responsible for the planet during the second we happened to be uppermost
in the universe. I felt unequal to the occasion in that thin, relaxing
atmosphere. The special guide, I knew, would shirk this august
investiture, as he shirked everything else, save only the watchful care
of my collapsing _porte-monnaie_. Kahéle, perhaps, would represent us to
the best of his ability,--which was not much beyond an amazing capacity
for food and sleep, coupled with cheek for at least two of his size.
There is danger in delay, saith the copy-book; and while we crept
slowly onward toward the rim of the crater, the sun rose, and we forgot
all else save his glory. We had reached the mouth of the chasm. Below us
yawned a gulf whose farther walls seemed the outlines of some distant
island, within whose depths a sea of cloud was satisfied to ebb and
flow, whose billows broke noiselessly at the base of the sombre walls
among whose battlements we clung like insects. I wonder that we were not
dragged into that awful sea, for strange and sudden gusts of wind swept
past us, coming from various quarters, and rushing like heralds to the
four corners of the heavens. We were far above the currents that girdle
the lower earth, and seemed in a measure cut off from the life that was
past. We lived and breathed in cloud-land. All our pictures were of
vapor; our surroundings changed continually. Forests laced with frost;
silvery, silent seas; shores of agate and of pearl; blue, shadowy
caverns; mountains of light, dissolving and rising again transfigured in
glorious resurrection, the sun tingeing them with infinite color. A
flood of radiance swept over the mysterious picture,--a deluge of
blood-red glory that came and went like a blush; and then the mists
faded and fled away, and gradually we saw the deep bed of the crater,
blackened, scarred, distorted,--a desert of ashes and cinders shut in by
sooty walls; no tinge of green, no suggestion of life, no sound to
relieve the imposing silence of that literal death of Nature. We were
about to enter the guest-chamber of the House of the Sun. If we had been
spirited away to the enchanted cavern of some genie, we could not have
been more bewildered. The cloud-world had come to an untimely end, and
we were left alone among its blackened and charred ruins. That magician,
the sun, hearing the approach of spies, had transformed his fairy palace
into a bare and uninviting wilderness. But we were destined to explore
it, notwithstanding; and our next move was to dismount and drive our
unwilling animals over into the abyss. The angle of our descent was too
near the perpendicular to sound like truth, in print. I will not venture
to give it; but I remember that our particular guide and his beast were
under foot, while Kahéle and his beast were overhead, and I and my
beast, sandwiched between, managed to survive the double horror of being
buried in the _débris_ that rained upon us from the tail-end of the
caravan, and slaying the unfortunate leaders ahead with the multitude of
rocks we sent thundering down the cliff. A moving avalanche of stones
and dust gradually brought us to the bed of the crater, where we offered
thanks in the midst of an ascending cloud of cinders, every soul of us
panting with exhaustion, and oozing like a saturated sponge. The heat
was terrific; shelter there was none; L----'s coffee was all that saved
us from despair. Before us stretched miles and miles of lava, looking
like scorched pie-crust; two thousand feet above us hung heavy masses of
baked masonry, unrelieved by any tinge of verdure. To the windward there
was a gap in the walls, through which forked tongues of mist ran in, but
curled up and over the ragged cliffs, as though the prospect were too
uninviting to lure them farther. It behooved us to get on apace, for
life in the deserted House of the Sun was, indeed, a burden, and
moreover there was some danger of our being locked in. The wind might
veer a little, in which case an ocean of mist would deluge the crater,
shutting out light and heat, and bewildering the pilgrim so that escape
were impossible. The loadstone bewitched the compass in that fixed sea,
and there were no beacons and no sounding signals to steer by. Across
the smooth, hard lava occasional traces of a trail were visible, like
scratches upon glass. Close to the edges of this perilous path yawned
chasms. Sometimes the narrow way led over a ridge between two sandy
hollows, out of which it was almost impossible to return, if one false
step should plunge you into its yielding vortex. There was a long pull
toward afternoon, and a sweltering camp about three P. M., where we
finished L----'s lunch, and were not half satisfied. Even the consoling
weed barely sustained our fainting spirits, for we knew that the more
tedious portion of the journey was yet to come.

The windward vestibule wound down toward the sea, a wild gorge through
which the molten lava had poured its destructive flood. There it lay, a
broad, uneven pass of dead, black coals,--clinkers, as ragged and sharp
as broken glass,--threaded by one beaten track a few inches in breadth.
To lose this trail were to tear the hoofs from your suffering beasts in
an hour or two, and to lacerate your own feet in half the time. Having
refreshed ourselves on next to nothing, we pressed forward. Already the
shadows were creeping into the House of the Sun, and as yet we had
scarcely gained the mouth of the pass. As we rode out from the shelter
of a bluff, a cold draught struck us like a wave of the sea. Down the
bleak, winding chasm we saw clouds approaching, pale messengers that
travel with the trade-wind and find lodgment in the House of the Sun.
They were hastening home betimes, and had surprised us in the passage.
It was an unwelcome meeting. Our particular guide ventured to assume
an expression of concern, and cautiously remarked that we were
_pilikia_,--that is, in trouble! For once he was equal to an emergency;
he knew of a dry well close at hand; we could drop into it and pass the
night, since it was impossible to feel our way out of the crater through
clouds almost as dense as cotton. Had we matches? No. Had we dry sticks?
Yes, in the well, perhaps. Kahéle could make fire without phosphorus,
and we could keep warm till morning, and then escape from the crater as
early as possible. After much groping about, in and out of clouds, we
found the dusty well and dropped into it. Ferns--a few of them--grew
about its sides; a dwarfed tree, rejoicing in four angular branches, as
full of mossy elbows as possible, stood in the centre of our retreat,
and at the roots of this miserable recluse the Kanakas contrived to
grind out a flame by boring into a bit of decayed wood with a dry stick
twirled rapidly between their palms. Dead leaves, dried moss, and a few
twigs made a short-lived and feeble fire for us. Darkness had come upon
the place. We watched the flaming daggers stab the air fitfully, and
finally sheathe themselves for good. We filled our shallow cave with
smoke that drove us into the mouth of it, from time to time, to keep
from strangulation. We saw our wretched beasts shaking with cold; we saw
the swift, belated clouds hurrying onward in ghostly procession; we
could do nothing but shudder and return to our dismal bed. No cheerful
cricket blew his shrill pipe, like a policeman's whistle; the sea sang
not for us with its deep, resounding voice; the Hawaiian harp was
hushed. A stone, loosened by some restless lizard, rattled down the
cliff; a goat, complaining of the cold, bleated once or twice. The wind
soughed; the dry branches of our withering tree sawed across each other:
these were our comforters during that almost endless night.

Once the heavens were opened to us. Through the rent in the clouds we
saw a great shoulder of the cliff above us, bathed in moonlight. A
thousand grotesque shadows played over the face of it. Pictures came and
went,--a palimpsest of mysteries. Gargoyles leered at us from under the
threatening brows of the bluff; and a white spectre, shining like a
star, stood on the uppermost peak, voiceless and motionless,--some
living creature lost in admiration of the moon. Then the sky fell on us,
and we were routed to our solitary cave.

There is a solitude of the sea that swallows up hope; the despairing
spirit hangs over a threatening abyss of death; yet above it and below
it there are forms of life rejoicing in their natural element. But there
is a solitude of the earth that is more awful; in it Death taunts you
with his presence, yet delays to strike. At sea, one step, and the
spirit is set at liberty,--the body is entombed forever. But alas!
within the deserts of the earth no sepulchre awaits the ashes of him who
has suffered, and nought but the winds or the foul-feeding vultures
shall cleanse that bleaching skeleton where it lies.

We tried to sleep on our stony pillows. Kahéle woke and found the guide
and me dozing; later, the guide roused himself to the discovery that
Kahéle and I were wrapped in virtuous unconsciousness. Anon I sat up
among the rocks, listened to the two natives breathing heavily, and
heard the wind sighing over the yawning mouth of our cavern. I heard the
beasts stamping among the clinkers, and covered my head again with the
damp blanket, and besieged sleep. Then we all three started from our
unrefreshing dreams, and lo! the clouds were rising and fleeing away,
and a faint, rosy light over the summit-peaks looked like sunrise; so we
rose and saddled the caravan, and searched about us for the lost trail.
Hour after hour we drew nearer to the mouth of the crater. Our progress
was snail-like; each one of us struck out for himself, having lost
confidence in the cunning of the other. From small elevations we took
our reckoning, and he who got the farthest toward the sea lifted up his
voice in triumph, and was speedily joined by the rest of the party.

At last we came upon the bluffs that overhang the green shores of the
island. We were safely out of the Sun's Tabernacle, but not yet free to
pass into the lowly vales of the earth. Again and again we rode to the
edges of the cliffs, whose precipitous walls forbade our descent.
Sometimes we clung to the bare ribs of the mountain, where a single
misstep might have sent us headlong into the hereafter. Frequently we
rejoiced in a discovery that promised well; but anon a sheltered chasm
unveiled its hideous depths, or an indigo-jungle laid hold of us and cut
us off in that direction.

Below us lay the verdant slopes of Kaupo. From their dried-grass houses
flocked the natives, looking like ants and their hills. They watched us
for hours with amused interest. Now and then they called to us with
faint and far-off voices,--suggestions that were lost to us, since they
sounded like so many bird-notes floating in the wind. All day we saw the
little village lying under us temptingly peaceful and lazy. Clouds still
hung below us: some of them swept by, pouring copious drops, that drove
our audience within doors for a few moments; but the rain was soon over,
the sun shone brighter than ever, the people returned to watch us, and
the day waned. We surprised flock upon flock of goats in their rocky
retreats; but they dispersed in all directions like quicksilver, and we
passed on. About dusk we got into the grassy land, and thanked God for
deliverance.

Here Kahéle's heart rejoiced. Here, close by the little chapel of Kaupo,
he discovered one whom he proclaimed his grandfather; though, judging
from the years of the man, he could scarcely have been anything beyond
an uncle. I was put to rest in a little stone cell, where the priests
sleep when they are on their mission to Kaupo. A narrow bed, with a
crucifix at the foot of it, a small window in the thick wall, with a jug
of water in the corner thereof, and a chair with a game-leg, constituted
the furnishment of the quaint lodging. Kahéle rushed about to see old
friends,--who wept over him,--and was very long absent, whereat I waxed
wroth, and berated him roundly; but the poor fellow was so charmingly
repentant that I forgave him all, and more too, for I promised him I
would stay three days, at least, with his uncle-grandfather, and give
him his universal liberty for the time being.

From the open doorway I saw the long sweep of the mountains, looking
cool and purple in the twilight. The ghostly procession of the mists
stole in at the windward gap; the after-glow of the evening suffused the
front of the chapel with a warm light, and the statue of the Virgin
above the chapel-door,--a little faded with the suns of that endless
summer, a little mildewed with the frequent rains,--the statue looked
down upon us with a smile of welcome. Some youngsters, as naked as
day-old nest-birds, tossed a ball into the air; and when it at last
lodged in the niche of the Virgin, they clapped their hands, half in
merriment and half in awe, and the games of the evening ended. Then the
full moon rose; a cock crew in the peak of the chapel, thinking it
daybreak, and the little fellows slept, with their spines curved like
young kittens. By and by the moon hung, round and mellow, beyond the
chapel-cross, and threw a long shadow in the grass; and then I went to
my cell and folded my hands to rest, with a sense of blessed and
unutterable peace.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

THE CHAPEL OF THE PALMS.


Oh, the long suffering of him who threads a narrow trail over the brown
crust of a hill where the short grass lies flat in tropical sunshine! On
one side sleeps the blue, monotonous sea; on the other, crags clothe
themselves in cool mist and look dreamy and solemn.

The boy Kahéle, who has no ambition beyond the bit of his foot-sore
mustang, lags behind, taking all the dust with commendable resignation.

As for me, I am wet through with the last shower; I steam in the fierce
noonday heat. I spur Hoké the mule into the shadow of a great cloud that
drifts lazily overhead, and am grateful for this unsatisfying shade as
long as it lasts. I watch the sea, swinging my whip by its threadbare
lash like a pendulum,--the sea, where a very black rock is being drowned
over and over by the tremendous swell that covers it for a moment; but
somehow the rock comes to the surface again, and seems to gasp horribly
in a deluge of breakers. That rock has been drowning for centuries, yet
its struggle for life is as real as ever.

I watch the mountains, cleft with green, fern-cushioned chasms, where an
occasional stream silently distills. Far up on a sun-swept ledge a
white, scattering drift, looking like a rose-garden after a high wind, I
know to be a flock of goats feeding. But the wind-dried and sunburnt
grass under foot, the intangible dust that pervades the air, the
rain-cloud in the distance, trailing its banners of crape in the sea as
it bears down upon us,--these are what fret me a little, and make life a
burden for the time being; so I spur my faithless Hoké up a new ascent
as forbidding as any that we have yet come upon, and slowly and with
many pauses creep to the summit.

Kahéle, "the goer," belies his name, for he loiters everywhere and
always; yet I am not sorry. I have the first glimpse of Wailua all to
myself. I am not obliged to betray my emotion, which is a bore of the
worst sort.

Wailua lies at my feet,--a valley full of bees, butterflies, and
blossoms, the sea fawning at the mouth of it, the clouds melting over
it; waterfalls gushing from numerous green corners; silver-white
phaëtons floating in mid-air, at a loss to choose between earth and
heaven, though evidently a little inclined earthward, for they no sooner
drift out of the bewildering bowers of Wailua than they return again
with noticeable haste.

Down I plunge into the depths of the valley, with the first drops of a
heavy shower pelting me in the back; and under a great tree, that seems
yearning to shelter somebody, I pause till the rain is over.

Anon the slow-footed Kahéle arrives, leaking all over, and bringing a
peace-offering of ohias, the native apple, as juicy and sweet as the
forbidden fruits of Paradise. As for these apples, they have solitary
seed, like a nutmeg, a pulp as white as wax, a juice flavored with
roses, and their skin as red as a peony and as glossy as varnish. These
we munch and munch while the forest reels under the impetuous avalanches
of big rain-drops, and our animals tear great tufts of sweet grass from
the upper roadside.

Is it far to the chapel, I wonder. Kahéle thinks not,--perhaps a pari or
two distant. But a pari, a cliff, has many antecedents, and I feel that
some dozen or so of climbs, each more or less fatiguing, still separate
me from the rest I am seeking, and hope not to find until I reach the
abode of Père Fidelis, at the foot of the cross, as one might say.

The rain ceases. Hoké once more nerves himself for fresh assaults upon
the everlasting hills. Kahéle drops behind as usual, and the afternoon
wanes.

How fresh seems the memory of this journey! yet its place is with the
archives of the past. I seem to breathe the incense of orange-flowers
and to hear the whisper of distant waterfalls as I write.

It must have been toward sunset,--we were threading the eastern coast,
and a great mountain filled the west,--but I felt that it was the hour
when day ends and night begins. The heavy clouds looked as though they
were still brimful of sunlight, yet no ray escaped to gladden our side
of the world.

Finally, on the brow of what seemed to be the last hill in this life, I
saw a cross,--a cross among the palms. Hoké saw it, and quickened his
pace: he was not so great an ass but he knew that there was provender in
the green pastures of Père Fidelis, and his heart freshened within him.

A few paces from the grove of palms I heard a bell swing jubilantly. Out
over the solemn sea, up and down that foam-crested shore, rang the sweet
Angelus. One may pray with some fervor when one's journey is at an end.
When the prayer was over I walked to the gate of the chapel-yard,
leading the willing Hoké, and at that moment a slender figure, clad all
in black, his long robes flowing gracefully about him, his boyish face
heightening the effect of his grave and serene demeanor, his thin,
sensitive hands held forth in hearty welcome,--a welcome that was almost
like a benediction, so spiritual was the love which it expressed,--came
out, and I found myself in the arms of Père Fidelis, feeling like one
who has at least been permitted to kneel upon the threshold of his
Mecca.

Why do our hearts sing _jubilate_ when we meet a friend for the first
time? What is it within us that with its life-long yearning comes
suddenly upon the all-sufficient one, and in a moment is crowned and
satisfied? I could not tell whether I was at last waking from a sleep or
just sinking into a dream. I could have sat there at his feet contented;
I could have put off my worldly cares, resigned ambition, forgotten the
past, and, in the blessed tranquillity of that hour, have dwelt joyfully
under the palms with him, seeking only to follow in his patient
footsteps until the end should come.

Perhaps it was the realization of an ideal that plunged me into a
luxurious revery, out of which I was summoned by _mon père_, who hinted
that I must be hungry. Prophetic father! hungry I was indeed.

_Mon père_ led me to his little house with three rooms, and installed me
host, himself being my ever-watchful attendant. Then he spoke: "The lads
were at the sea, fishing: would I excuse him for a moment?"

Alone in the little house, with a glass of claret and a hard biscuit for
refreshment, I looked about me. The central room, in which I sat, was
bare to nakedness: a few devotional books, a small clock high up on the
wall, with a short wagging pendulum, two or three paintings, betraying
more sentiment than merit, a table, a wooden form against the window,
and a crucifix, complete its inventory. A high window was at my back; a
door in front opening upon a veranda shaded with a passion-vine; beyond
it a green, undulating country running down into the sea; on either hand
a little cell containing nothing but a narrow bed, a saint's picture,
and a rosary. Kahéle, having distributed the animals in good pasturage,
lay on the veranda at full length, supremely happy as he jingled his
spurs over the edge of the steps and hummed a native air in subdued
falsetto, like a mosquito.

Again I sank into a revery. Enter _mon père_ with apologies and a plate
of smoking cakes made of eggs and batter, his own handiwork; enter the
lads from the sea with excellent fish, knotted in long wisps of grass;
enter Kahéle, lazily sniffing the savory odors of our repast with
evident relish; and then supper in good earnest.

How happy we were, having such talks in several sorts of tongues, such
polyglot efforts toward sociability,--French, English, and native in
equal parts, but each broken and spliced to suit our dire necessity! The
candle flamed and flickered in the land-breeze that swept through the
house,--unctuous waxen stalactites decorated it almost past recognition;
the crickets sang lustily at the doorway; the little natives grew
sleepy and curled up on their mats in the corner; Kahéle slept in his
spurs like a born muleteer. And now a sudden conviction seized us that
it was bedtime in very truth; so _mon père_ led me to one of the cells,
saying, "Will you sleep in the room of Père Amabilis?" Yea, verily, with
all humility; and there I slept after the benediction, during which the
young priest's face looked almost like an angel's in its youthful
holiness, and I was afraid I might wake in the morning and find him
gone, transported to some other and more lovely world.

But I didn't. Père Fidelis was up before daybreak. It was his hand that
clashed the joyful Angelus at sunrise that woke me from my happy dream;
it was his hand that prepared the frugal but appetizing meal; he made
the coffee, such rich, black, aromatic coffee as Frenchmen alone have
the faculty of producing. He had an eye to the welfare of the animals
also, and seemed to be commander-in-chief of affairs secular as well as
ecclesiastical; yet he was so young!

There was a day of brief incursions mountain-ward, with the happiest
results. There were welcomes showered upon me for his sake; he was ever
ministering to my temporal wants, and puzzling me with dissertations in
assorted languages.

By happy fortune a Sunday followed when the Chapel of the Palms was
thronged with dusky worshippers; not a white face present but the
father's and mine own, yet a common trust in the blessedness of the
life to come struck the key-note of universal harmony, and we sang the
_Magnificat_ with one voice. There was something that fretted me in all
this admirable experience: Père Fidelis could touch neither bread nor
water until after the last mass. Hour by hour he grew paler and fainter,
spite of the heroic fortitude that sustained his famishing body.

"_Mon père_," said I, "you must eat, or go to heaven betimes." He would
not. "You must end with an earlier mass," I persisted. It was
impossible: many parishioners came from miles away; some of these
started at daybreak, as it was, and they would be unable to arrive in
season for an earlier mass. Excellent martyr! thought I, to offer thy
body a living sacrifice for the edification of these savage Christians!
At last he ate, but not until appetite itself had perished. Then troops
of children gathered about him clamoring to kiss the hand of the
priestly youth; old men and women passed him with heads uncovered,
amazed at the devotion of one they could not hope to emulate.

Whenever I referred to his life, he at once led me to admire his
fellow-apostle, who was continually in his thoughts. Père Amabilis was
miles away, repairing a chapel that had suffered somewhat in a late
gale; Père Amabilis would be so glad to see me; I must not fail to visit
him; and for fear of some mischance, Père Fidelis would himself conduct
me to him.

The way was hard,--deep chasms to penetrate, swift streams to be forded,
narrow and slippery trails to be threaded through forest, swamp, and
wilderness. These obstacles separated the devoted friends, but not for
long seasons. Père Fidelis would go to him whom he had not laid eyes on
for a fortnight at least.

The boy Kahéle was glad of companionship; one of the small fishers, an
acolyte of the chapel, would accompany us, and together they could lag
behind, eating ohias and dabbling in every stream.

A long day's journey followed. We wended our way through jungles of
lauhala, with slim roots in the air and long branches trailing about
them like vines; they were like great cages of roots and branches in a
woven snarl. We saw a rocky point jutting far into the sea. "Père
Amabilis dwells just beyond that cape," said my companion, fondly; and
it seemed not very far distant; but our pace was slow and wearisome, and
the hours were sure to distance us. We fathomed dark ravines whose
farther walls were but a stone's throw from us, but in whose profound
depths a swift torrent rushed madly to the sea, threatening to carry us
to our destruction,--green, precipitous troughs, where the tide of
mountain-rain was lashed into fury, and with its death-song drowned our
voices and filled our animals with terror.

Now and then we paused to breathe, man and beast panting with fatigue;
sometimes the rain drove us into the thick wood for shelter; sometimes a
brief deluge, the offspring of a rent cloud at the head of the ravine,
stayed our progress for half an hour, until its volume was somewhat
spent and the stream was again fordable. Here we talked of the daily
miracles in nature. Again and again the young fathers are called forth
into the wilderness to attend on the sick and dying. Little chapels are
hidden away among the mountains and through the valleys; all these must
be visited in turn. Their life is an actual pilgrimage from chapel to
chapel, which nothing but physical inability may interrupt.

At one spot I saw a tree under which Père Fidelis once passed a
tempestuous night. On either side yawned a ravine swept by an impassable
flood. There were no houses within reach. On the soaked earth, with a
pitiless gale sweeping over the land, from sunset to sunrise he lay
without the consolation of one companion. Food was frequently scarce: a
few limpets, about as palatable as parboiled shoe-leather, a paste of
roast yams and water, a lime perhaps, and nothing besides but lumpy salt
from the sea-shore.

While we were riding, a herald met us bearing a letter for _mon père_.
It was a greeting from Père Amabilis, who announced the chapel as
rapidly nearing its complete restoration. Père Fidelis fairly wept for
joy at this intelligence, and burst into a panegyric upon the unrivalled
ingenuity of his spiritual associate. We were sure to surprise him at
work, and this trifling episode seemed to be an event of some importance
in the isolated life they led.

At sunset we passed into the open vale of Wai-luanui, and saw the chapel
looking fresh and tidy on the slope of the hill toward the sea. Two
waterfalls that fell against the sunset flashed like falling flame, and
a soft haze tinged the slumberous solitudes of wood and pasture with the
dreamlike loveliness of a picture. There seemed to be but one sound
audible,--the quick, sharp blows of a hammer. Père Fidelis listened with
eyes sparkling, and then rode rapidly onward.

Behold! from the chapel wall, high up on a scaffolding of boughs, his
robes gathered about him, his head uncovered and hammer in hand, Père
Amabilis leaned forth to welcome us. The hammer fell to the earth. Père
Amabilis loosened his skirts and clasped his hands in unaffected
rapture. We were three satisfied souls, asking for nothing beyond the
hem of that lonely valley in the Pacific.

Of course there was the smallest possible house that could be lived in,
for our sole accommodation, because but one priest needed to visit the
district at a time, and a very young priest at that. A tiny bed in one
corner of the room was thought sufficient, together with two plates,
two cups, and a single spoon. Luxuries were unknown and unregretted.

"Well, father, what have you at this hotel?" said Père Fidelis as we
came to the door of the cubby-house.

"Water," replied our host with a grave tone that had an undercurrent of
truth in it.

But we were better provided for. Within an hour's time a reception took
place: native parishioners came forth to welcome Père Fidelis and the
stranger, each bringing some voluntary tribute,--a fish, a fowl lean
enough to quiet the conscience of Père Fidelis, an egg or two, or a
bunch of taro.

Long talks followed; the news of the last month was discussed with much
enthusiasm, and some few who had no opportunity of joining in the debate
gave expression to their sentiments through such speaking eyes as
savages usually are possessed of.

The welcome supper-hour approached. Willing hands dressed a fowl; swift
feet plied between the spring and the kettle swung over the open
camp-fire; children danced for very joy before the door of the chapel,
under the statue of the Virgin, whose head was adorned with a garland of
living flowers. The shadows deepened; stars seemed to cluster over the
valley and glow with unusual fervor; the crickets sang mightily,--they
are always singing mightily over yonder; supper came to the bare table
with its meagre array of dishes; and, since I was forced to have a whole
plate and a bowl, as well as the solitary spoon, for my sole use, the
two young priests ate together from the same dish and drank from the
same cup, and were as grateful and happy as the birds of the air under
similar circumstances.

A merry meal, that! For us no weak tea, that satirical consoler, nor tea
whose strength is bitterness, an abomination to the faithful, but _mon
père's_ own coffee, the very aroma of which was invigorating; and then
our friendly pipes out under the starlight, where we sat chatting
amicably, with our three heads turbaned in an aromatic Virginian cloud.

I learned something of the life of these two friends during that social
evening. Born in the same city in the north of France, reared in the
same schools, graduated from the same university, each fond of life and
acquainted with its follies, each in turn stricken with an illness that
threatened death, together they came out of the dark valley with their
future consecrated to the work that now absorbs them, the friendship of
their childhood increasing with their years and sustaining them in a
remote land, where their vow of poverty seems almost like a sarcasm,
since circumstance deprives them of all luxuries.

"Do you never long for home? do you never regret your vow?" I asked.

"Never!" they answered; and I believe them. "These old people are as
parents to us; these younger ones are as brothers and sisters; these
children we love as dearly as though they were our own. What more can we
ask?"

What more, indeed? With the rain beating down upon your unsheltered
heads, and the torrents threatening to ingulf you; faint with
journeyings; anhungered often; weak with fastings; pallid with
prayer,--what more _can_ you ask in the same line? say I.

Père Fidelis coughed a little, and was somewhat feverish. I could see
that his life was not elastic: his strength was even then failing him.

"Père Amabilis is an artisan: he built this house, and it is small
enough; but some day he will build a house for me but six feet long and
_so_ broad," said Père Fidelis, shrugging his shoulders; whereat Père
Amabilis, who looked like a German student with his long hair and
spectacles, turned aside to wipe the moisture from the lenses, and said
nothing, but laid his hand significantly upon the shoulder of his
friend, as if imploring silence. Alas for him when those lips are silent
forever!

I wondered if they had no recreation.

"O yes. The poor pictures at the Chapel of the Palms are ours, but we
have not studied art. And then we are sometimes summoned to the farther
side of the island, where we meet new faces. It is a great change."

For a year before the arrival of Père Amabilis, who was not sooner able
to follow his friend, Père Fidelis was accustomed to go once a month to
a confessional many miles away. That his absence might be as brief as
possible, he was obliged to travel night and day. Sometimes he would
reach the house of his confessor at midnight, when all were sleeping:
thereupon would follow this singular colloquy in true native fashion. A
rap at the door at midnight, the confessor waking from his sleep.

_Confessor._ "Who's there?"

_Père Fidelis._ "It is I!"

_Conf._ "Who is I?"

_Père F._ "Fidelis!"

_Conf._ "Fidelis who?"

_Père F._ "Fidelis kahuna pule!" (Fidelis the priest.)

_Conf._ "Aweh!" (An expression of the greatest surprise.) "_Entre_,
Fidelis kahuna pule."

Then he would rise, and the communion that followed must have been most
cheering to both, for _mon père_ even now is merry when he recalls it.

These pilgrimages are at an end, for the two priests confess to one
another: conceive of the fellowship that hides away no secret, however
mortifying!

The whole population must have been long asleep before we thought of
retiring that night, and then arose an argument concerning the fittest
occupant of the solitary bed. It fell to me, for both were against me,
and each was my superior. When I protested, they held up their fingers
and said, "Remember, we are your fathers and must be obeyed." Thus I was
driven to the bed, while mine hosts lay on the bare floor with saddles
for pillows.

It was this self-sacrificing hospitality that hastened my departure. I
felt earth could offer me no nobler fellowship,--that all acts to come,
however gracious, would bear a tinge of selfishness in comparison with
the reception I had met where least expected.

I am thankful that I had not the heart to sleep well, for I think I
could never have forgiven myself had I done so. When I woke in the early
part of the night, I saw the young priests bowed over their breviaries,
for I had delayed the accustomed offices of devotion, and they were
fulfilling them in peace at last, having me so well bestowed that it was
utterly impossible to do aught else for my entertainment.

Once more the morning came. I woke to find Père Amabilis at work, hammer
in hand, sending his nails home with accurate strokes that spoke well
for his trained muscle. Père Fidelis was concocting coffee and directing
the volunteer cooks, who were seeking to surpass themselves upon this
last meal we were to take together. In an hour _mon père_ was to start
for the Chapel of the Palms, while I wended my way onward through a new
country, bearing with me the consoling memory of my precious friends. I
can forgive a slight and forget the person who slights me, but little
kindnesses probe me to the quick. I wonder why the twin fathers were so
very careful of me that morning? They could not do enough to satisfy
themselves, and that made me miserable; they stabbed me with tender
words, and tried to be cheerful with such evident effort that I couldn't
eat half my breakfast, though, as it was, I ate more than they did--God
forgive me!--and altogether it was a solemn and a memorable meal.

A group of natives gathered about us seated upon the floor; it was
impossible for Père Fidelis to move without being stroked by the
affectionate creatures who deplored his departure. Père Amabilis
insisted upon adjusting our saddles, during which ceremony he slyly hid
a morsel of cold fowl in our saddle-bags.

That parting was as cruel as death. We shall probably never see one
another again; if we do, we shall be older and more practical and more
worldly, and the exquisite confidence we have in one another will have
grown blunt with time. I felt it then as I know it now,--our brief idyl
can never be lived over in this life.

Well, we departed: the corners of our blessed triangle were spread
frightfully. Père Fidelis was paler than ever; he caught his breath as
though there wasn't much of it, and the little there was wouldn't last
long; Père Amabilis wiped his spectacles and looked utterly forsaken;
the natives stood about in awkward, silent groups, coming forward, one
by one, to shake hands, and then falling back like so many automatons.
Somehow, genuine grief is never graceful: it forgets to pose itself; its
muscles are perfectly slack and unreliable.

The sea looked gray and forbidding as it shook its shaggy breakers under
the cliff: life was dismal enough. The animals were unusually wayward,
and once or twice I paused in despair under the prickly sunshine, half
inclined to go back and begin over again, hoping to renew the past; but
just then Hoké felt like staggering onward, and I began to realize that
there are some brief, perfect experiences in life that pass from us like
a dream, and this was one of them.

In the proem to this idyl I seem to see two shadowy figures passing up
and down over a lonesome land. Fever and famine do not stay them: the
elements alone have power to check their pilgrimage. Their advent is
hailed with joyful bells: tears fall when they depart. Their paths are
peace. Fearlessly they battle with contagion, and are at hand to close
the pestilential lips of unclean death. They have lifted my soul above
things earthly, and held it secure for a moment. From beyond the waters
my heart returns to them. Again at twilight, over the still sea, floats
the sweet Angelus; again I approach the chapel falling to slow decay:
there are fresh mounds in the churchyard, and the voice of wailing is
heard for a passing soul. By and by, if there is work to do, it shall be
done, and the hands shall be folded, for the young apostles will have
followed in the silent footsteps of their flock. Here endeth the lesson
of the Chapel of the Palms.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

KAHÉLE.


From a bluff, whose bald forehead jutted a thousand feet into the air,
and under whose chin the sea shrugged its great shoulders, Kahéle, my
boy,--that delightful contradiction, who was always plausible, yet never
right,--Kahéle and I looked timidly over into the sunset valley of Méha.
The "Valley of Solitude" it was called; albeit, at that moment, and with
half an eye, we counted the thirty grass-lodges of the village, and
heard the liquid tongues of a trio of waterfalls, that dived head-first
into the groves at the farther end of the valley, where the mountain
seemed to have opened its heart wide enough to let a rivulet escape into
the sea. But the spot was a palpable and living dream, and no fond
rivulet would go too hastily through it; so there was a glittering sort
of monogram writ in water, and about it the village lodges were
clustered in a very pleasing disorder.

The trail dropped down the cliff below us in long, swinging zigzags, and
wound lazily through the village; crossed the stream at the ford;
dipped off toward the sea, as though the beach, shining like coarse
gold, were a trifle too lovely to be passed without recognition, and
then it climbed laboriously up the opposite cliff, and struck off into
space. In ten seconds a bird might have spanned the deep ravine, and
caught as much of its loveliness as we; but we weren't birds, and,
moreover, we had six legs apiece to look after, so we tipped off from
the dizzy ridge that overhung the valley of Méha to the north, and
gradually descended into the heat and silence of the place, that seemed
to make a picture of itself when we first looked down upon it from our
eyry.

We found the floor of the valley very solemn and very lovely, when we at
last got down into it. Three youngsters, as brown as berries, and
without any leaves upon them, broke loose from a banana-orchard and
leaped into a low _hou_-tree as we approached. They were a little shy of
my color, pale-faces being rare in that vicinity. Two women who were
washing at the ford--and washing the very garments they should have had
upon their backs--discovered us, and plunged into the stream with a
refreshing splash, and a laugh apiece that was worth hearing, it was so
genuine and hearty. Another youngster hurried off from a stone-wall like
a startled lizard, and struck on his head, but didn't cry much, for he
was too frightened. A large woman lay at full length on a broad mat,
spread under a _pandanus_, and slept like a turtle. I began to think
there were nothing but women and children in the solitary valley, but
Kahéle had kept an eye on the reef, and, with an air of superior
intelligence, he assured me that there were many men living about there,
and they, with most of the women and children, were then out in the
surf, fishing.

"To the beach, by all means!" cried I; and to the beach we hastened,
where, indeed, we found heaps of cast-off raiment, and a hundred
footprints in the sand. What would Mr. Robinson Crusoe have said to
that, I wonder! Across the level water, heads, hands, and shoulders, and
sometimes half-bodies, were floating about, like the _amphibia_. We were
at once greeted with a shout of welcome, which came faintly to us above
the roar of the surf, as it broke heavily on the reef, a half-mile out
from shore. It was drawing toward the hour when the fishers came to
land, and we had not long to wait, before, one after another, they came
out of the sea like so many mermen and mermaids. They were refreshingly
innocent of etiquette,--at least, of our translation of it; and, with a
freedom that was amusing as well as a little embarrassing, I was
deliberately fingered, fondled, and fussed with by nearly every dusky
soul in turn. "At last," thought I, "fate has led me beyond the pale of
civilization; for this begins to look like the genuine article."

With uncommon slowness, the mermaids donned more or less of their
apparel, a few preferring to carry their robes over their arms; for the
air was delicious, and ropes of sea-weed are accounted full dress in
that delectable latitude. Down on the sand the mermen heaped their scaly
spoils,--fish of all shapes and sizes, fish of every color; some of them
throwing somersaults in the sand, like young athletes; some of them
making wry faces, in their last agony; some of them lying still and
clammy, with big, round eyes like smoked-pearl vest-buttons set in the
middle of their cheeks; all of them smelling fishlike, and none of them
looking very tempting. Small boys laid hold on small fry, bit their
heads off, and held the silver-coated morsels between their teeth, like
animated sticks of candy. There was a Fridayish and Lent-like atmosphere
hovering over the spot, and I turned away to watch some youths who were
riding surf-boards not far distant,--agile, narrow-hipped youths, with
tremendous biceps and proud, impudent heads set on broad shoulders, like
young gods. These were the flower and chivalry of the Méha blood, and
they swam like young porpoises, every one of them.

There was a break in the reef before us; the sea knew it, and seemed to
take special delight in rushing upon the shore as though it were about
to devour sand, savages, and everything. Kahéle and I watched the
surf-swimmers for some time, charmed with the spectacle. Such buoyancy
of material matter I had never dreamed of. Kahéle, though much in the
flesh, could not long resist the temptation to exhibit his prowess, and
having been offered a surf-board that would have made a good lid to his
coffin, and was itself as light as cork and as smooth as glass, suddenly
threw off his last claim to respectability, seized his sea-sled, and
dived with it under the first roller which was then about to break above
his head, not three feet from him. Beyond it, a second roller reared its
awful front, but he swam under that with ease; at the sound of his "open
sesame," its emerald gates parted and closed after him. He seemed some
triton, playing with the elements, and dreadfully "at home" in that very
wet place. The third and mightiest of the waves was gathering its
strength for a charge upon the shore. Having reached its outer ripple,
again Kahéle dived and reappeared on the other side of the watery hill,
balanced for a moment in the glassy hollow, turned suddenly, and,
mounting the towering monster, he lay at full length on his fragile
raft, using his arms as a bird its pinions,--in fact, soaring for a
moment with the wave under him. As it rose, he climbed to the top of it,
and there, in the midst of foam seething like champagne, on the crest of
a rushing sea-avalanche about to crumble and dissolve beneath him, his
surf-board hidden in spume, on the very top bubble of all, Kahéle
danced like a shadow. He leaped to his feet and swam in the air, another
Mercury, tiptoeing a heaven-kissing hill, buoyant as vapor, and with a
suggestion of invisible wings about him,--Kahéle transformed for a
moment, and for a moment only; the next second my daring sea-skater
leaped ashore, with a howling breaker swashing at his heels. It was
something glorious and almost incredible; but I saw it with my own eyes,
and I wanted to double his salary on the spot.

Sunset in the valley of Méha. The air full of floating particles, that
twinkled like diamond-dust; the great green chasm at the head of the
valley illuminated by one broad bar of light shot obliquely through it,
tipped at the end with a shower of white rockets that fringed a
waterfall, and a fragment of rainbow like a torn banner. That deep,
shadowy ravine seemed, for a moment, some mystery about to be divulged;
but the light faded too soon, and I never learned the truth of it. The
sea quieter than usual; very little sound save the rhythmical vibration
of the air, that suggested flowing waters and quivering leaves; the
lights shifted along the upper cliffs; a silver-white tropic-bird sailed
from cloud to cloud, swiftly and noiselessly, like a shooting-star. A
delicious moment, but a brief one; soon the sun was down, and the
deepening shadows and gathering coolness set all the valley astir.

Camp-fires were kindled throughout the village; column after column of
thin blue smoke ascended in waving spirals, separating at the top in
leaf-shaped clouds. It was like the spiritual resurrection of some
ancient palm-grove; and when the moon rose, a little later, flooding the
Vale of Solitude with her vague light, the illusion was perfected; and a
group of savages, scenting the savory progress of their supper, sat,
hungry and talkative, under every ghostly palm. Clear voices ascended in
monotonous and weird recitative; they chanted a monody on the death of
some loved one, prompted, perhaps, by the funereal solemnity of the
hour; or sang an ode to the moonrise, the still-flowing river, or the
valley of Méha, so solitary in one sense, though by no means alone in
its loneliness.

Kahéle patronized me extensively. I was introduced to camp after camp,
and in rapid succession repeated the experiences of a traveller who has
much to answer for in the way of color, and the peculiar cut of his
garments. I felt as though I was some natural curiosity, in charge of
the robustious Kahéle, who waxed more and more officious every hour of
his engagement; and his tongue ran riot as he descanted upon my
characteristics, to the joy of the curious audiences we attracted.

Some hours must have passed before we thought of sleep. How could we
think of it, when every soul was wide awake, and time alone seemed to
pass us by unconsciously? But Kahéle finally led me to a chief's house,
where, under coverlets of _kapa_, spiced with herbs, and in the midst of
numerous members of the household, I was advised to compose my soul in
peace, and patiently await daylight. I did so, for the drowsy sense that
best illustrates the tail-end of a day's journey possessed me, and I was
finally overcome by the low, monotonous drone of a language that I found
about as intelligible as the cooing of the multitudinous pigeon. The boy
sat near me, still descanting upon our late experiences, our possible
future, and the thousand trivial occurrences that make the recollections
of travel forever charming. The familiar pipe, smoked at about the rate
of three whiffs apiece, circulated freely, and kept the air mildly
flavored with tobacco; and night, with all that pertains to it, bowed
over me, as, in an unguarded moment, I surrendered to its narcotizing
touch.

There was another valley in my sleep, like unto the one I had closed my
eyes upon, and I saw it thronged with ancients. No white face had yet
filled those savage and sensuous hearts with a sense of disgust, which,
I believe, all dark races feel when they first behold a bleached skin.
Again the breathless heralds announced the approach of a king, and the
multitudes gathered to receive him. I heard the beating of the tom-toms,
and saw the dancers ambling and posing before his august majesty, who
reclined in the midst of a retinue of obsequious retainers. The
spearsmen hurled their spears, and the strong men swung their clubs; the
stone-throwers threw skilfully, and the sweetest singers sang long
_méles_ in praise of their royal guest. A cry of fear rent the air as a
stricken one fled toward the city of refuge; the priests passed by me in
solemn procession, their robes spotted with sacrificial blood.
War-canoes drew in from the sea, and death fell upon the valley. I heard
the wail for the slaughtered, and saw the grim idols borne forth in the
arms of the triumphant; then I awoke in the midst of that dream-pageant
of savage and barbaric splendor.

It was still night; the sea was again moaning; the cool air of the
mountain rustled in the long thatch at the doorway; a ripe bread-fruit
fell to the earth with a low thud. I rose from my mat and looked about
me. The room was nearly deserted; some one lay swathed like a mummy in a
dark corner of the lodge, but of what sex I knew not,--probably one who
had outlived all sensations, and perhaps all desires; a rush, strung
full of oily _kukui_ nuts, flamed in the centre of the room, and a
thread of black smoke climbed almost to the peak of the roof; but,
falling in with a current of fresh air, it was spirited away in a
moment.

I looked out of the low door: the hour was such a one as tinges the
stoutest heart with superstition; the landscape was complete in two
colors,--a moist, transparent gray, and a thin, feathery silver, that
seemed almost palpable to the touch. Out on the slopes near the stream
reclined groups of natives, chatting, singing, smoking, or silently
regarding the moon. I passed them unnoticed; dim paths led me through
guava jungles, under orange-groves, and beside clusters of jasmine,
overpowering in their fragrance. Against the low eaves of the several
lodges sat singers, players upon the rude instruments of the land, and
glib talkers, who waxed eloquent, and gesticulated with exceeding grace.
Footsteps rustled before and behind me; I stole into the thicket, and
saw lovers wandering together, locked in each other's embrace, and saw
friends go hand-in-hand conversing in low tones, or perhaps mute, with
an impressive air of the most complete tranquillity. The night-blooming
cereus laid its ivory urn open to the moonlight, and a myriad of
crickets chirped in one continuous jubilee. Voices of merriment were
wafted down to me; and, stealing onward toward the great meadow by the
stream, where the sleepless inhabitants of the valley held high
carnival, I saw the most dignified chiefs of Méha sporting like
children, while the children capered like imps, and the whole community
seemed bewitched with the glorious atmosphere of that particular night.

Who was the gayest of the gay, and the most lawless of the unlawful? My
boy, Kahéle, in whom I had placed my trust, and whom, until this hour at
least, I had regarded as a most promising specimen of the reorganized
barbarians.

Perhaps it was all right; perhaps I had been counting his steps with too
much confidence; they might have been simply a creditable performance,
the result of careful training on the part of his tutors. I am inclined
to think they were! At any rate, Kahéle went clean back to barbarism
that night, and seemed to take to it amazingly. I said nothing; I
thought it wiser to seem to hold the reins, though I held them loosely,
than to try to check the career of my half-tamed domestic, and to find
him beyond my control; therefore I sat on one side taking notes, and
found it rather jolly on the whole.

The river looked like an inky flood with a broken silver crust; canoes
floated upon its sluggish tide like long feathers; swimmers plied up and
down it, now and then "blowing," whale-fashion, but slipping through the
water as noiselessly as trout. I could scarcely tell which was the more
attractive,--Nature, so fragrant and so voluptuous, or man, who had
become a part of Nature for the hour, and was very unlike man as I had
been taught to accept him.

Not till dawn did the dance or the song cease; not till everybody was
gray and fagged, and tongues had stopped wagging from sheer exhaustion.
I returned to my mats long ere that, to revolve in my mind plans for the
following day.

It was evident that Kahéle must at once quit the place, or go back to
barbarism and stick there. I didn't care to take the responsibility of
his return to first principles, and so ordered the animals saddled by
sunrise. At that delicious moment, the youngster lay like one of the
Seven Sleepers, whom nothing could awaken. Everybody in the village
seemed to be making up his lost sleep, and I was forced to await the
return of life before pressing my claims any further.

The scorching noon drew on; a few of the sleepers awoke, bathed, ate of
their cold repast, and slept again. Kahéle followed suit; in the midst
of his refreshment, I suggested the advisability of instant departure;
he hesitated. I enlarged upon the topic, and drew an enticing picture of
the home-stretch, with all the endearing associations clustering about
its farther end; he agreed to everything with a sweet and passive grace
that seemed to compensate me for the vexations of the morning.

I went to the river to bathe while the beasts were being saddled, and
returned anon to find Kahéle sound asleep, and as persistent in his
slumbers as ever. The afternoon waned; I began to see the fitness of the
name that had at first seemed to me inappropriate to the valley:
everybody slept or lazed during the hot hours of the day, and a
census-taker might easily have imagined the place a solitude. At sunset,
there was more fishing and more surf-swimming. It seemed to me the fish
smelt stronger, and the swimmers swam less skilfully than on the evening
previous; possibly it was quite as pretty a spectacle as the one that
first charmed me, but blessings are bores when they come out of season.

Night drew on apace; the moon rose, and the inhabitants pretended to
rest, but were shortly magnetized out of their houses, where they danced
till daybreak. The sweets of that sort of thing began to cloy, and I
resolved upon immediate action. Kahéle was taken by the ears at the very
next sunrise, and ordered to get up the mules at once. He was gone
nearly all day, and came in at last with a pitiful air of disappointment
that quite unmanned me; his voice, too, was sympathetic, and there was
something like a tear in his eye when he assured me that the creatures
had gone astray, but might be found shortly,--perhaps even then they
were approaching; and the young scamp rose to reconnoitre, glad, no
doubt, of an excuse for escaping from my natural but ludicrous
discomfiture. It is likely that my boy Kahéle would have danced till
doomsday, had I not shown spleen. It is as likely, also, that the chief
and all his people would have helped him out in it, had I not offered
such reward as I thought sufficient to tempt their greed; but, thank
Heaven, there is an end to everything!

On the morning of the fourth day, two travellers might have been seen
struggling up the face of the great cliff that walls in the valley of
Méha to the south. The one a pale-face, paler than usual, urging on the
other, a dark-face, darker than was its wont. Never did animals so
puzzle their wits to know whether they were indeed desired to hasten
forward, or to turn back at the very next crook in the trail. We were
at big odds, Kahéle and I; for another idol of mine had suddenly turned
to clay, and, though I am used to that sort of thing, I am never
able to bear it with decent composure. On we journeyed, working at
cross-purposes, and getting nearer to the sky all the while, and finally
losing sight of the bewitching valley that had demoralized and so nearly
divorced us; getting wet in the damp grasses on the highlands, and
sometimes losing ourselves for a moment in the clouds that lie late on
the mountains; seeing lovely, narrow, and profound vales, wherein the
rain fell with a roar like hail; where the streams swelled suddenly like
veins, and where often there was no living creature discernible, not
even a bird; where silence brooded, and the world seemed empty.

A very long day's journey brought us out of the green and fertile land
that lies with its face to the trade-wind; there the clouds gather and
shed their rains; but all of the earth lying in the lee of the great
central peak of the island is as dust and ashes,--unwatered, unfruitful,
and uninteresting, save as a picture of deep and dreadful desolation. No
wonder that Kahéle longed to tarry in the small Eden of Méha, knowing
that we were about to journey into the deserts that lie beyond it. No
wonder that the shining shores of the valley beguiled him, when he knew
that henceforth the sea would break upon long reaches of black lava, as
unpicturesque as a coal-heap, the path along which was pain, and the
waysides anguish of spirit; where fruit was scarce, and water brackish,
and every edible dried and deceitful.

Having slept the sleep of the just,--for I felt that I had done what I
could to reclaim my backsliding Kahéle,--I awoke on a sabbath morning
that presented a singular spectacle. Its chief features were a
glittering, metallic-tinted sea, and a smoking plain backed by naked
sand-hills. The low brush, scattered thinly over the earth, tried hard
to look green, but seldom got nearer to it than a dusty gray. Evidently
there was no sap in those charred twigs, for they snapped like coral
when you tested their pliancy. A few huts, dust-colored and ragged, were
scattered along the trail; they had apparently lost all hope, and paused
by the wayside, to end their days in despair.

The _halé-pulé_, or prayer-house, chief of the forlorn huts, by virtue
of extraordinary hollowness and a ventilation that was only exceeded by
all out-of-doors,--this prayer-house, or church, was thrown open to the
public, and, to my amazement, Kahéle suggested the propriety of our
attending worship, even before the first conch had been blown from the
rude door by the deacon himself.

We went along the chalky path that led to the front of the house, and
sat in the shelter of the eaves for an hour or more. Seven times that
conch was blown, and on each occasion the neighborhood responded, though
stingily; a few worshippers would issue out of the wilderness and draw
slowly toward us. One or two men came on horseback, and were happy in
their mood, exhibiting the qualities of their animals on the flats
before us. Some came on foot, with their shoes in hand; the shoes were
carefully put on at the church door, but put off again a few moments
after entering the rustic pews. Dogs came, about one for every human;
these lay all over the floor, or mounted the seats, or were held in the
arms of the congregation, as the case might be. Children came and played
a savage version of leap-frog in the lee of the church, but they were
bleak-looking youngsters, not at all like the little human vegetables
that flourished in the genial atmosphere of the valley of Méha.

The conch was blown again; the most melancholy sound that ever issued
from windy cavity floated up and down that disconsolate land, and
seemed to be saying, in pathetic gusts, "Come to meeting! Come to
meeting!" Probably every one that could come had come; at any rate no
one else followed, and, after a decent pause, the services of the
morning were begun. The brief interval of ominous silence that preceded
the opening was enlivened by the caprices of a fractious horse, and at
least two stampedes of the canine persuasion, at which time the dogs
seemed possessed of devils, and were running down in a body toward the
sea, but thought better of it, and stole noiselessly back again, one
after the other, just in season for the opening prayer, to which they
entered with a low-comedy cast of countenance, and a depressed tail.

That prayer bubbled out of the savage throat like a clear fountain of
vowels. The dignity of the man was impressive, and his face the picture
of devotion; his deportment, likewise, was all that could be desired in
any one, under the circumstances. Either he was a rare specimen of the
very desirable convert from barbarism, or he was a consummate actor; I
dare not guess which of the two beguiled me with his grave and
euphonious prayer.

I regret to state that, during the energetic expounding of the
Scriptures, a few of the congregation forgot themselves and slept
audibly; a few arose and went under the eaves to smoke; children went
down on all-fours, and crawled under the pews in chase of pups as
restless and incorrigible as themselves. At a later period, some one
announced an approaching schooner, and the body of the house was
unceremoniously cleared, for a schooner was as rare a visitor to that
part of the island as an angel to any quarter of the globe. Further
ceremony was out of the question, at least until the excitement had
subsided; the parson, with philosophical composure, precipitated his
doxology, and we all walked out into the dreary afternoon to watch the
schooner blowing in toward shore.

The wind was rising; white clouds scudded over us; transparent shadows
slid under us; the whole earth seemed unstable, and life scarcely worth
the living. Along the dead shore leaped the sea, in a careless,
dare-devil fashion; hollow rocks spouted great mouthfuls of spray
contemptuously into the air; columns of red dust climbed into the sky,
reeling to and fro as they passed over the bleak desert toward the sea
on the opposite side of the island. These dust-chimneys were continually
moving over the land so long as the wind prevailed, which was for the
rest of that afternoon, to my certain knowledge. In fact, the gale
increased every hour; sheets of spray leaped over the rocky barriers of
the shore, and matted the dry grass, that hissed like straw whenever a
fresh gust struck it.

One tattered cocoa-palm, steadfast in its mission, though the living
emblem of a forlorn hope, wrestled with the tempest that threw all its
crisp and rattling leaves over its head like a pompon, and fretted it
till its slender neck twisted as though it were being throttled. The
thatched house seemed about to go to pieces, and every timber creaked in
agony; yet we gathered in its lee, and awaited the slow approach of the
schooner. Near shore she put about, and seemed upon the point of
scudding off to sea again. For a moment our hearts were in our throats;
we were in danger of missing the sensation of the season: new faces, new
topics of conversation, and, perhaps, something good to eat, sent
thither by Providence, who seldom forgets his children in the waste
places, though I wonder that he lets them lose themselves so often.

The schooner rocked on the big rollers for half an hour; a small boat
put off from her, with some dark objects seated in it; out on the great
rollers the little shallop rocked, sometimes hidden from view by an
intervening wave, sometimes thrown partly out of the water as it
balanced for a moment on the crest of a breaker, but gradually drawing
in toward a bit of beach, where there was a possible chance of landing,
in some shape or other. A few rods from shore, three dusky creatures
deliberately plunged overboard and swam toward us. We rushed in a body
to welcome them,--two women, old residents of the place, who came out
of the sea wailing for joy at their safe return to a home no more
inviting than the one whose prominent features I have sought to
reproduce. Down they sat, not three feet from the water, that bubbled
and hissed along the coarse sand, and lifted up their voices in pitiful
and impressive monotones, as they recounted in a savagely poetic chant
their various adventures since they last looked upon the beloved picture
of desolation that lay about them.

The third passenger--a youngster--came to land when he had got tired of
swimming for the fun of it, and, once more upon his native heath, he
seemed at a loss to know what to do next, but suffered himself to be
vigorously embraced by nearly everybody in sight, after which he joined
his companions with placid satisfaction, and capered about as naturally
as though nothing unusual had happened.

Off into the windy sea sped the small schooner, bending to the breeze as
though it were a perpetual miracle that brought her right-side-up every
once in a while. Back to the deserted prayer-house our straggling
community wended its way; everything that had been said before was said
again, with some embellishments. It was beginning to grow tiresome. I
longed to plunge into the desert that stretched around, seeking some
possible oasis where the fainting spirit might reassure itself that
earth was beautiful and life a boon.

Kahéle agreed with me that this sort of thing was growing tiresome. He
knew of a good place not many miles away; we could go there and sleep.
It presented a church and a good priest, and other inducements of an
exceedingly proper and unexceptionable character. The prospect, though
uninviting, was sufficient to revive me for the moment, and during that
moment we mounted, and were blown away on horseback. The wind howled in
our ears; sand-clouds peppered us heavily; small pebbles and grit cut
our faces; heavier gusts than usual changed earth, sea, and sky into
temporary chaos. The day waned, so did our spirits, so did the life of
our poor beasts. In the distance, the church of Kahéle's prophecy stood
out like a small rock in a land than which no land I wot of can be
wearier. The sun fell toward the sea; the wind subsided, though it was
still lusty and disagreeable.

We entered the church, having turned our disheartened beasts into
paddock, and found a meagre and late afternoon session, seated upon mats
that covered the earthen floor. A priest strove to kindle a flame of
religious enthusiasm in our unnatural hearts, but I fear he sought in
vain. The truth was, we were tired to death; we needed wholesome soup,
savory meats, and steaming vegetables, to humanize us. I didn't want to
be a Christian on an empty stomach. The wind began to sigh, after its
passion was somewhat spent; sand sifted over the matting with a low
hiss; and the dull red curtains, that stretched across the lower half of
the windows, flapped dolefully. Overhead, the wasps had hung their
mud-baskets, and the gray atmosphere of everything was depressing in the
extreme. Service was soon over; the people departed across the windy
moors, with much fluttering of gay garments. A horse stood at pasture,
with his head down, his back to the wind, and his tail glued to his
side,--a picture of sublime resignation. A high mound, with a sandstone
sepulchre built in the face of it, cut off half of the very red sunset,
while a cactus-hedge, starred with pale pink blossoms, ran up a low
hill, and made silhouette pictures against the sky.

I turned to watch a large butterfly, blown over in the late
gale,--stranded, as it were, at the church-porch, and too far gone to
set sail again; a white sea-bird wheeled over me in big circles, and
screamed faintly; something fell in the church with a loud echo,--a
prayer-book, probably; and then the priest came out, fastened the door
of the deserted sanctuary, and the day's duties were done. We had
nothing to do but follow him to his small frame dwelling, where the one
little window to the west seemed to be set with four panes of burnished
gold, and some homely household shrubs in his garden-plat shivered, and
blossomed while they shivered, but looked like so many widows and
orphans, the whole of them.

At the hospitable board life began afresh. Another day, and we should
again approach the borders of the earthly paradise that glorified the
opposite side of the island. Kahéle's eyes sparkled; my heart leaped
within me; I felt that there was a charm in living, after all; and the
moment was a critical one, for had the lad begged me to return with him
to the beguilements of barbarism, I think it possible that I might have
consented. But he didn't! He was the pink of propriety, and an honor to
his progenitors. He said a brief grace before eating, prayed audibly
before retiring, was patient to the pitch of stupidity, and amiable to
the verge of idiocy.

At last, I began to see through him. Another four-and-twenty hours, and
he would be restored to the arms of his guardians; the sweet lanes of
Lahaina would again blossom before him; and all that he thought to be
excellent in life would know him as it had known him only a few weeks
before. It was time that he had again begun to walk the strait path, and
he knew it. He was Kahéle, the two-sided; Kahéle, the chameleon, whose
character and disposition partook of the color of his surroundings; who
was pious to the tune of the church-bell, yet agile as any dancer of the
lascivious _hula_ at the thump of the tom-tom. He was a representative
worthy of some consideration; a typical Hawaiian whose versatility was
only excelled by the plausibility with which he developed new phases of
his kaleidoscopic character. He was very charming, and as diverting in
one _rôle_ as another. He was, moreover, worthy of much praise for his
skill in playing each part so perfectly that to this hour I am not sure
which of his dispositions he excelled in, nor in which he was most at
home.

Kahéle, adieu! I might have upbraided thee for thy inconstancy, had I
not been accused of that same myself. I might have felt some modicum of
contempt for thee, had thy skin been white; but under the cover of thy
darkness sin hid her ugliness, and thy rich blood leaped to many
generous actions that a white-livered sycophant might not aspire to. I
can but forgive all, and sometimes long a little to live over the two
sides of you,--extremes that met in your precious corporosity, and made
me contented with a changeful and sometimes cheerless pilgrimage; for I
knew, boy, that if I went astray you would meet me upon the highest
moral grounds; and, though I could not rely upon you, somehow you came
to time when least expected, and filled me with admiration and
surprise,--a sentiment which time and absence only threaten to
perpetuate.



[Decoration]

LOVE-LIFE IN A LANAI.


It was the witching hour of sunset, and we sat at dinner with tearful
eyes over the Commodore's curry. You see the Commodore prided himself on
the strength of this identical dish, and kept a mahogany-tinted
East-Indian steward for the sole sake of his skill in concocting the
same.

We dined, as usual, in the Commodore's unrivalled _Lanai_,--the very
thought of which is a kind of spiritual feast to this hour,--and while
we sat at his board we heard for the twentieth time the monotonous
recital of his adventures by flood and field. Like most sea-stories, his
narratives were ever fresh, as though they had been stowed away in
brine, were fished out of the vasty deep expressly for the occasion, and
put to soak again in their natural element as soon as we had tasted
their quality.

The Commodore was a roaring old sea-dog, who had been cast ashore
somewhere in the early part of the century; and finding himself in
quarters more comfortable than his wildest fancy dared to paint, he
resolved to end his amphibious days on that strip of shining beach, and
nevermore lose sight of land until he should slip his cable for the last
time, and sail into undiscovered seas. Meanwhile, he entertained his
friends at Wai-ki-ki, a kind of tropical Long Branch a few miles out of
Honolulu; and the grace with which he introduced Jack-ashore to the
dreamy twilight of his _Lanai_ is one of Jack's deathless memories. We
met the Commodore in the interesting character of Jack-ashore, and with
uncovered heads and hearts full of emotion entered the _Lanai_.

And now for a word to the uninitiated concerning the _Lanai_ in
question. Off there in the Pacific, under the vertical sun, all shadow
is held at a premium. There are stationary caravans of cocoa-trees, that
seem to be looking for their desert-home,--weird, slender trees, with
tattered plumes, and a hopeless air about them, as though they were born
to sorrow, but meant to make the best of it. Still, these fine old palms
cast a thin shadow, about the size and shape of a colossal spider, and
there is no comfort in trying to sit in it. Of course, there are other
trees with more foliage, and vines that run riot and blossom themselves
to death; but somehow the sharp arrows of sunshine dart in and sting a
fellow in an unpleasant fashion, and nothing short of a good thatch is
to be relied upon. So out from the low eaves of the Commodore's
cottage, on the seaward side, there was a dense roof of leaves and
grass, that ran clear to the edge of the sea, and looked as though it
wanted to go farther; but the Commodore knew it was useless to attempt
to roof over that institution. There was a leafy tapestry hanging two
feet below the roof on the three sides thereof, and from the floor of
the inclosure rose a sort of trellis of woven rushes that hedged us in
to the waist. There was a wicker-gate, and an open space between the
leafy stalactite and stalagmite barricade for ventilation and view, and
everywhere there was a kind of semi-twilight that seemed crammed full of
dreams and delicious indolence,--and this is the Hawaiian _Lanai_!

Of course, the Commodore always dined in his _Lanai_. It was like taking
curry on the quarter-deck of the _Whatyoucallher_, in the dead calm
of the Indian seas; and when that mahogany steward entered with
turban and mock-turtle,--he always looked to me like a full-blooded
snake-charmer,--I had the greatest difficulty in restraining myself, for
it seemed to me incredible that any Jack-ashore could dine in a _Lanai_
with his Excellency, and not rise between each savory course to make a
dozen profound _salaams_ to the fattish gentleman at the head of the
table, who was literally covered with invisible naval buttons,--and the
hallucination increased as the dinner-courses multiplied.

At this stage;--just as the snake-charmer was entering with something
that seemed to have come to an untimely end in wine-sauce,--at this
stage the Commodore turned to us as though he were about to give some
order that we might disregard at the peril of our lives,--these sea-dogs
never quite outgrow that sort of thing. "Gentlemen," said he, casting a
watchful and suspicious eye over the weather-bow, "there is to be a
_Luou_--a native feast--in the adjoining premises. Will you do me the
honor to accompany me thither after we have lighted our cigars?"

I forget what answer we made; but then dinner was well on toward
dessert, and our answer was immaterial. We had our orders, couched in
courteous language, and we were thankful for this consideration;
moreover, we were wild to see a native feast! There is a peculiar charm
in obeying our superiors, when we happen, by some dispensation of Divine
Providence, to be exactly of the same mind.

Black coffee was offered us, in cups of the pattern of gull's-eggs. By
this time all the sky was saffron, all the sea a shadow of saffron, and
in the golden haze that lay between, a schooner with a piratical slant
to her masts swam by, beyond the foam that hissed along the reef.
It was a wonderful picture, but it came in between the courses of
the Commodore's dinner as though it were nothing better than a
panel-painting in the after-cabin of the _Whatyoucallher_. However, as
she swung in toward the mouth of the harbor, and passed a bottle of
Burgundy in safety, but seemed in imminent danger of missing stays
abreast of an enormous pyramid of fruit,--from the Commodore's point of
sight, you know,--the old gentleman lost his temper and gave an order in
such peremptory terms that I cheerfully refrain from reproducing it on
this occasion. To cover our confusion, we immediately adjourned to the
native feast.

Hawaiian feast-days are not set down in the calendar. Somebody's child
has a birthday, or there is a new house that needs christening; or
perhaps a church is in want, and the feast can net a hundred or two
dollars for it,--since all the eatables in such cases are donated, and
the eaters enter to the feast with the payment of one dollar per head.
Our feast was not sanctified; a chief of the best blood was in the humor
to entertain his friends, countrymen, and lovers. We belonged to the
first order; or, rather, the Commodore was his friend, and we speedily
became as friendly as possible. As we entered the premises, it appeared
to us that half the island was under cover; for limitless _Lanais_
seemed to run on to the end of time in bewitching vistas. Numberless
lanterns swung softly in the evening gale. A multitude of white-robed
native girls passed to and fro, with that inimitable grace which I have
always supposed Eve copied from the serpent and imparted to her
daughters, who still affect the modern Edens of the earth. Young
Hawaiian bloods, clad in snow-white trousers and ballet-shirts, with
wreaths of _mailné_ around their necks and ginger-flowers in their hair,
grouped themselves along the evergreen corridors, and looked unutterable
things without any noticeable effort on their part.

Through the central corridor, under a long line of lanterns, was spread
the corporeal feast, and on either side of it, in two ravenous lines,
sat, tailor-fashion, the hungry and the thirsty. It is useless to
attempt an idealization of the Hawaiian eater. He simply devours
whatever suits his palate, as though he were a packing-case that needed
filling, and the sooner filled the more creditable the performance. But
the amount of filling that he is equal to is the marvel; and the patient
perseverance of the man, so long as there is a crumb left, is something
that I despair of reconciling with any known system of physiology. The
mastication began early in the afternoon. It was eight P. M. when we
looked in upon the orgie, and the bones were not all picked, though they
seemed likely to be before midnight.

"Will you eat?" said the host. It was not etiquette to decline, and we
sat at the end of the _Lanai_, with nameless dishes strewn about us in
hopeless confusion. We dipped a finger into pink _poi_, and took a pinch
of baked dog. We had limpets with rock-salt; kukui-nuts roasted and
pulverized; and the pale, quivering bits of fish-flesh, not an hour
dead, and still cool with the native coolness of the sea. It was a
fishful feast, any way; and not even the fruits or the flowers could
entirely alleviate the inward agony consequent upon a morsel of raw
fish, swallowed to please our host.

There was music at the farther end of the palm-leaf pavilion, and
thither we wended our way. The inner court was festooned with flags, and
covered with a large mat. Upon the mat sat, or reclined, several
chiefesses. I am never able to account for the audacious grace of these
women, who throw themselves upon the floor and stretch their supple
limbs like tigresses, with a kind of imperial scorn for your one-horse
proprieties. Their voluminous light garments scarcely concealed the
ample curves of their bodies, and the marvellous creatures seemed to be
breathing to slow music, while their slumberous eyes regarded us with a
gentle indifference that was more tantalizing than any other species of
coquetry that I have knowledge of.

At one side of the enclosure sat a group of musicians, twanging upon
native harps, and beating the national calabash. Song after song was
sung, pipe after pipe was smoked, and bits of easy and playful
conversation filled the intervals. The evening waned. The eaters and
drinkers were still unsatisfied, because the eatables and drinkables
were not exhausted; but the moon was high and full, and the reef moaned
most musically, and seemed to invite us to the shore.

The great charm of a native feast is the entire absence of all
formality. Every man is privileged to seek whom his heart may most
desire, and every woman may receive him or reject him as her spirit
prompts. We noticed that the Commodore was uneasy. He was as plump as a
seal, and the crowd oppressed him. We resolved to get the old gentleman
out of his misery, and proposed an immediate adjournment to the beach.
The inner court was soon deserted, and our little party--which now
embraced, figuratively, several magnificent chiefesses, as well as the
primitive Hawaiian orchestra--moved in silence toward the sea. The long,
curving beach glistened and sparkled in the moonlight. The sea, within
the reef, was like a tideless river, from whose pellucid depths, where
the coral spread its wilderness of branches, an unearthly radiance was
reflected. A fleet of slender canoes floated to and fro upon the water,
and beyond them the creaming reef flashed like a girdle of silver,
belting us in from all the world.

The crowning luxury of savage life is the multitudinous bondsman who
anticipates your every wish, and makes you blush at your own poverty of
invention by his suggestions of unimagined joys. Mats--broad, sweet, and
clean--lay under foot, and served our purpose better than Persian
carpets. The sea itself fawned at our feet, and all the air was shining
and soft as though the moon had dissolved in an ecstasy, and nothing but
a snap of cold weather could congeal her again. Wherever we lay, pillows
were mysteriously slipped under our heads, and the willingest hands in
the world began an involuntary performance of the _lomi-lomi_. Let me
not think upon the _lomi-lomi_, for there is none of it within reach;
but I may say of it, that, before the skilful and magnetic hands of the
manipulator are folded, every nerve in the body is seized with an
intense little spasm of recognition, and dies happy. A dreamless sleep
succeeds, and this is followed by an awakening into new life, full of
proud possibilities.

We were _lomi-lomied_ to the murmurs of the reef, and during the
intervals of consciousness saw an impromptu rehearsal of the "Naiad
Queen," in operatic form. The dancing-girls, being somewhat heated, had
plunged into the sea, and were complaining to the moon in a chorus of
fine harmonies. History does not record how long their sea-song rang
across the waters. I know that we dozed, and woke to watch a silver sail
wafted along the vague and shadowy distance like a phantom. We slept
again, and woke to a sense of silence broken only by the unceasing
monody of the reef; slept and woke yet again in the waning light, for
the moon had sunk to the ragged rim of an old crater, and seemed to have
a large piece bitten out of her glorious disk. Then we broke camp by
the shore,--for the air was a trifle chilly,--and withdrew into the
seclusion of the Commodore's _Lanai_, where we threw ourselves into
hammocks and swung until daybreak.

In those days we fed on lotus-flowers. Jack-ashore lives for the hour
only, and the very air of such a latitude breathes enchantment. I
believe we bathed before sunrise, and then went regularly to bed and
slept till noon. Such were the Commodore's orders, and this is our
apology. There was a breakfast about one P. M., at which we were
permitted to appear in undress. The Commodore set the example by
inviting us to the table in an extraordinary suit of cream-colored silk,
that was suggestive of _panjamas_, but might have been some Oriental
regalia especially designed for morning wear. He looked like a ship
under full sail, rocking good-naturedly in a dead calm. The Commodore
was excessively formal at first sight,--that is, just before
breakfast,--but his heart warmed toward mankind in general, and his
guests in particular, as the meal progressed. Some people never are
themselves until they have broken their fast; they are so cranky, and
seem to lack ballast.

The snaky steward sloughed his clothes twice a day. He was a slim,
noiseless, gliding fellow at breakfast, but he was positively gorgeous
at dinner. Of course, the Commodore had ordered this nice distinction in
the temporal affairs of his servant, for he kept everything about the
place in ship-shape, even to the flying of his private signal from
sunrise to sunset at the top of a tall staff, that rivalled the royal
ensign floating from a similar altitude not a quarter of a mile distant.
His Majesty has a summer palace in Wai-ki-ki, and it has been whispered
that the Commodore refused to recognize him, and never dipped his colors
as the King cantered by in a light buggy drawn by a span of spanking
bays.

After breakfast, the cribbage-board was produced, and for three mortal
hours the Commodore kept his peg on the steady march. At cribbage the
old gentleman was expected to lose his temper. He stormed with the
arrogance of a veteran card-player, than whom no man is supposed to make
himself more disagreeable on short notice. Lieutenant Blank was usually
the victim, but he deserved it. The true story of Lieutenant Blank--his
name is suppressed out of consideration for his family--is so common in
tropical seaports that I do not hope in this epitome to offer anything
novel. The Lieutenant was a typical Jack-ashore. He had twice the mail
that came to the rest of us, and he read his love-letters to the mess
with a gusto. He boasted fresh victims in every port, and gloried in his
lack of principle. It did not surprise me at all that the Lieutenant had
_shaken_ his mother. In fact, under the circumstances, I think his
mother would have been justified in shaking him, if she could have got
her hands on him. In the love-light of the Commodore's _Lanai_, life
was very precious to this particular Jack-ashore. To him a _Lanai_ was a
city of refuge, provided by an all-wise Commodore for those fascinating
lieutenants who were pursued by the chief women of the tribe; yet he
loved to loiter without the walls, during the off-hours from cribbage.
No man so relished the _lomi-lomi_; no man, except the native-born, so
clamored for the _hula-hula_; and no man, not even the least of these,
forgot himself to the same alarming extent whenever there was the
slightest provocation.

Of course, he met a chiefess and surrendered; of course, he meant in
time to crush the heart that pulsated with the blood-royal. He simpered
and tried to turn semi-savage, and was simply ridiculous. He made silly
speeches in the worst possible Hawaiian, and afforded unlimited
amusement to the women, who are wiser in their dark skins than the
children of light. He tried to eat _poi_, and ruined his linen. He
suffered himself to be wreathed and garlanded, until he was the picture
of a sacrificial calf. He gave gifts, and babbled in his sleep. But in
the hour when his triumph seemed inevitable he was beautifully snubbed
by his supposed victim. The syrens of Scylla are a match for any mariner
who sails with unwadded ears. The Lieutenant cannot hope to hear the
last of that adventure, though the subject is never broached by
himself.

If we had dwelt a thousand years with the Commodore, and sipped the
elixir of life from the gourd that hung by the door of the wine-closet,
I suppose we should have had the same daily and nightly experiences to
go through with, barring a slight variation in the little matter of
moonshine. But there were orders superior to the Commodore's, since he
was off active duty, and these orders demanded our reappearance on
shipboard at an early hour of the day following. There was a farewell
round of everything that had been introduced during our brief stay at
Wai-ki-ki,--dances, songs, sea-baths, and flirtations. The moon rose
later, and was but a shadow of her former self; but the stars burned
brightly, and we could still trace the noiseless flight of the solitary
sail that passed like a spirit over the dusky sea.

I know that in after years, whenever I come within sound of surf under
the prickly sunshine, my fancy will conjure up a picture of that grass
cottage on the slope of a dazzling beach, and the portly form of the old
Commodore stowed snugly in the spacious hollow of a bamboo settee, drawn
up on the stocks, as it were, for repairs, with a bandanna spread over
his face and a dark-eyed crouching figure beside him, fighting
mosquitoes with a tuft of parrot-feathers. No wonder that a body-guard
of some kind was necessary, for I believe that the old Commodore's veins
ran nothing but wine, and mosquitoes are good tasters.

The picture would not be complete without the attendant houris, and with
their image comes an echo of barbarous chants and the monotonous thump
of the tom-tom; of swaying figures; of supple wrists; of slender,
lascivious hands tossed skilfully in the air, seeking to interpret their
pantomimic dances, and doing it with remarkable freedom and grace. I
shall hear that one song, like an echo eternally repeated,--the song
that was sung by all the lips that had skill to sing, in every valley
under the Hawaiian sun. I remember it as a refrain that was first raised
in Honolulu, but for the copyright of which the respective residents of
Hawaii and Nihau would willingly lay down their lives with the last
words of the song rattling in their throats.

"_Poli-anu_," or "Cool-bosom," is a fair specimen of the ballad
literature of Hawaii, and the following free translation will perhaps
give a suggestion of the theme. "_Poli-anu_" is sung by the old and
decrepid, the lame, the halt, and the blind, as well as by the merest
children. I have heard it carolled by a solitary boy tending goats upon
the breezy heights of Kaupo. I have listened to it in the market-place,
where a chorus of a dozen voices held the customer entranced. In the
high winds of the middle channel the song is raised, as the schooner
lays over at a perilous angle, and ships water enough to dampen the
ardor of most singers. It is sung in the church-porch, by the brackish
well in the desert, under the moonlit palms, and everywhere else. It
cheers the midnight vigil of the prisoner, and makes glad the heart of
the sorrowful. It is altogether useful as well as ornamental, and the
Hawaiian who does not number among his accomplishments the ability to
sing "_Poli-anu_" tolerably well, is unworthy of the name.

            POLI-ANU.

    Bosom, here is love for you,
      O bosom cool as night!
    How you refresh me as with dew,--
      Your coolness gives delight.

    Rain is cold upon the hill,
      And water in the pool,
    Yet all my frame is colder still
      For you, O bosom cool.

    Face to face beneath a bough
      I may not you embrace,
    But feel a spell on breast and brow
      While sitting face to face.

    Thoughts in absence send a thrill
      Like touch of sweeter air:
    I sought you, and I seek you still,
      O bosom cool and fair!

That is all of it; but your Hawaiian turns back and begins over again,
until he has enough.

I suppose it is no breach of confidence on my part to state that the
gorgeous old Commodore is dead. There was nothing in his _Lanai_ life to
die of, except an accident, and in course of time he met with one. I
forget the nature of it, but it finished him. There was wailing for
three mortal days in the solemn shadow of the _Lanai_; and then one of
the large, motherly-looking creatures, with numberless gauzy folds in a
dress that fell straight from her broad shoulders, moved in. After three
days of feasting, all vestiges of the Commodore's atmosphere had
disappeared from the premises. I fancy she always felt at home there,
although she was never known to open her lips in the presence of the
Commodore's guests. Life was a little more intense after that. The snaky
steward disappeared, without any sort of warning. I have always believed
that he crawled under some rock, and laid himself away in a coil; that
he will sleep for a century or so, then come out in his real character,
and astonish the inhabitants with his length and his slimness.

Lieutenant Blank survives, and sails the stormy seas on a moderate
salary, the major portion of which he turns into naval buttons. I hear
from him once in a dog's age. He is first at Callao, with a daily jaunt
into Lima; then at one of the South Sea paradises; next at Australia, or
in the China Sea; and in the future--heaven knows where! He vibrates
between the two hemispheres, working out his time, and believing himself
supremely happy. I doubt not that he is happy, being about as selfish as
men are made.

As for myself, I am a landsman. After all that is said, the sea is
rather a bore, you know; but I do not forget the dreamy days of calm in
the flowering equatorial waters, nor the troubled days of storm. There
are a thousand-and-one trifling events in the fragmentary experiences of
the seafarer that are of more importance than this stray leaf, but
perhaps none that will serve my purpose better. For this yarn is as
fine-drawn as the episodes in an out-of-the-way port,--with nothing but
the faint odor of its fruits a little overripe, of its flowers a little
overblown, and a general sense of uncomfortable warmth, to give it
individuality. I have found these experiences excellent memories; for
though the dull "waits" between the acts and the sluggishness of the
action at best are a little dreary at times, they are forgotten,
together with most disagreeable matter. I'll warrant you, Lieutenant
Blank, strutting his little hour between-decks, or in the fleeting
moments of the delectable "dog-watch," muses upon the past. When he has
aroused the fever in his blood, and can no longer hold his tongue, he
heaves an ominous sigh, knits his brows, and, in a voice that quivers
with unaffected emotion, he whispers to the marines the beguiling
romance of his _Love-life in a Lanai_.

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

IN A TRANSPORT.


A little French _aspirant de marine_, with an incipient mustache, said
to me, confidentially, "Where you see the French flag you see France!"
We were pacing to and fro on the deck of a transport that swung at
anchor off San Francisco, and, as I looked shoreward for almost the last
time,--we were to sail at daybreak for a southern cruise--I hugged my
Ollendorf in despair, as I dreamed of "French in six easy lessons,"
without a master, or a tolerable accent, or anything, save a suggestion
of Babel and a confusion of tongues at sea.

Thanaron, the aspirant in question, embraced me when I boarded the
transport with my baggage, treated me like a long-lost brother all that
afternoon, and again embraced me when I went ashore toward evening to
take leave of my household. There was something so impulsive and boyish
in his manner that I immediately returned his salute, and with
considerable fervor, feeling that kind Heaven had thrown me into the
arms of the exceptional foreigner who would, to a certain extent,
console me for the loss of my whole family. The mystery that hangs over
the departure of any craft that goes by wind is calculated to appall the
landsman; and when the date of sailing is fixed the best thing he can do
is to go aboard in season and compose his soul in peace. To be sure, he
may swing at anchor for a day or two, in full sight of the domestic
circle that he has shattered, but he is spared the repetition of those
last agonies, and cuts short the unravelling hours just prior to a
separation, which are probably the most unsatisfactory in life.

Under cover of darkness a fellow can do almost anything, and I concluded
to go on board. There was a late dinner and a parting toast at home, and
those ominous silences in the midst of a conversation that was as
spasmodic and disconnected and unnatural as possible. There was
something on our minds, and we relapsed in turn and forgot ourselves in
the fathomless abysses of speculation. Some one saw me off that
night,--some one who will never again follow me to the sea, and welcome
me on my return to earth after my wandering. We sauntered down the dark
streets along the city front, and tried to disguise our motives, but it
was hard work. Presently we heard the slow swing of the tide under us,
and the musty odor of the docks regaled us; one or two shadows seemed to
be groping about in the neighborhood, making more noise than a shadow
has any right to make.

Then came the myriad-masted shipping, the twinkling lights in the
harbor, and a sense of ceaseless motion in waters that never can be
still. We did not tarry there long. The boat was bumping her bow against
a pair of slippery stairs that led down to the water, and I entered the
tottering thing that half sunk under me, dropped into my seat in the
stern, and tried to call out something or other as we shot away from the
place, with a cloud over my eyes that was darker than night itself, and
a cloud over my heart that was as heavy as lead. After that there was
nothing to do but climb up one watery swell and slide down on the other
side of it, to count the shadow-ships that shaped themselves out of
chaos as we drew near them, and dissolved again when we had passed;
while the oars seemed to grunt in the row-locks, and the two jolly tars
in uniform--they might have been mutes, for all I know--swung to and
fro, to and fro, dragging me over the water to my "ocean bride,"--I
think that is what they call a ship, when the mood is on them!

She did look pretty as we swam up under her. She looked like a great
_silhouette_ against the steel-gray sky; but within was the sound of
revelry, and I hastened on board to find our little cabin blue with
smoke, which, however, was scarcely dense enough to muffle the martial
strains of the _Marseillaise_, as shouted by the whole mess.

Thanaron--my Thanaron--was in the centre of the table, with his curly
head out of the transom,--not that he was by any means a giant, but we
were all a little cramped between-decks,--and he was leading the chorus
with a sabre in one hand and the head of the Doctor in the other.
Without the support of the faculty, he would probably not have ended his
song of triumph as successfully as he ultimately did, when Nature
herself had fainted from exhaustion. It was the last night in port, a
few friends from shore had come to dine, and black coffee and cognac at
a late hour had finished the business.

If there is one thing in this world that astonishes me more than
another, it is the rapidity with which some people talk in French.
Thanaron's French, when he once got started, sounded to me like the
well-executed trill of a _prima-donna_, and quite as intelligible. The
joke of it was, that Frenchmen seemed to find no difficulty in
understanding him at his highest speed. On the whole, perhaps, this fact
astonishes me more than the other.

Dinner was as far over as it could get without beginning again and
calling itself breakfast; so the party broke up in a whirlwind of
patriotic songs, and, one by one, we dropped our guests over the side of
the vessel until there was none left, and then we waved them a thousand
adieus, and kept up the last words as long as we could catch the
faintest syllable of a reply. There were streaks of dull red in the east
by this time, and the outlines of the city were again becoming visible.
This I dreaded a little; and, when our boat had returned and everything
was put in ship-shape, I deliberately dropped a tear in the presence of
my messmates, who were overcome with emotion at the spectacle; and,
having all embraced, we went below, where I threw myself, with some
caution, into my hammock, and slept until broad daylight.

I did not venture on deck again until after our first breakfast,--an
informal one, that set uneasily on the table, and seemed inclined to
make its escape from one side or the other. Of course, we were well
under way by this time. I was assured of the fact by the reckless
rolling of the vessel and the strange and unfamiliar feeling in my
stomach, as though it were some other fellow's stomach, and not my own.
My legs were a trifle uncertain; my head was queer. Everybody was
rushing everywhere and doing things that had to be undone or done over
again in the course of the next ten minutes. I concluded to pace the
deck, which is probably the correct thing for a man to do when he goes
down to the sea in ships, and does business--you could hardly call it
pleasure--on great waters.

I went up the steep companion-way, and found a deck-load of ropes, and
the entire crew--dressed in blue flannel, with broad collars--skipping
about in the most fantastic manner. It was like a ballet scene in
_L'Africaine_, and highly diverting--for a few minutes! From my
stronghold on the top stair of the companion-way, I cast my eye
shoreward. The long coast ran down the horizon under a broadside of
breakers that threatened to ingulf the continent; the air was gray with
scattering mist; the sea was much disturbed, and of that ugly,
yellowish-green tint that signifies soundings. Overhead, a few sea-birds
whirled in disorder, shrieking as though their hearts would break. It
looked ominous, yet I felt it my duty, as an American under the shadow
of the tricolor, to keep a stiff upper lip,--and I flatter myself that I
did so. Figuratively speaking, I balanced myself in the mouth of the
companion-way, with a bottle of claret in one pocket and a French roll
in the other, while I brushed the fog from my eyes with the sleeve of my
monkey-jacket, and exclaimed with the bard, "My native land, good
night."

It was morning at the time, but I did not seem to care much. In fact,
time is not of the slightest consequence on shipboard. So I withdrew to
my hammock, and having climbed into it in safety ended the day after a
miserable fashion that I have deplored a thousand times since, during
the prouder moments of my life.

A week passed by--I suppose it was a week, for I could reckon only seven
days, and seven nights of about twice the length of the days--during
that interval; yet I should, in the innocence of my heart, have called
it a month, without a moment's hesitation. We arose late in the
morning,--those of us who had a watch below; ate a delightfully long and
narrow breakfast, consisting of an interminable procession of dishes in
single file; paced the deck and canvassed the weather; went below to
read, but talked instead; dined as we had breakfasted, only in a far
more elaborate and protracted manner, while a gentle undercurrent of
side-dishes lent interest to the occasion. There was a perpetual stream
of conversation playing over the table, from the moment that heralded
the soup until the last drop of black coffee was sopped up with a bit of
dry bread. By the time we had come to cheese, everybody felt called upon
to say his say, in the face of everybody else. I alone kept my place,
and held it because the heaviest English I knew fell feebly to the floor
before the thunders of those five prime Frenchmen, who were flushed with
enthusiasm and good wine. I dreamed of home over my cigarette, and tried
to look as though I were still interested in life, when, Heaven knows,
my face was more like a half-obliterated cameo of despair than anything
human. Thanaron, my foreign affinity, now and then threw me a
semi-English nut to crack, but by the time I had recovered myself,--it
is rather embarrassing to be assaulted even in the most friendly manner
with a batch of broken English,--by the time I had framed an
intelligible response, Thanaron was in the heat of a fresh argument, and
keeping up a running fire of small shot that nearly floored the mess.

But there is an end even to a French dinner, and we ultimately adjourned
to the deck, where, about sunset, everybody took his station while the
_Angelus_ was said. Then twilight, with a subdued kind of skylarking
in the forecastle, and genteel merriment amidships, while _Monsieur
le Capitaine_ paced the high quarter-deck with the shadow of a
smile crouching between the fierce jungles of his intensely black
side-whiskers. Ah, sir, it was something to be at sea in a French
transport with the tricolor flaunting at the peak; to have four guns
with their mouths gagged, and oilcloth capes lashed snugly over them; to
see everybody in uniform, each having the profoundest respect for those
who ranked a notch above him, and having, also, an ill-disguised
contempt for the unlucky fellow beneath him! This spirit was observable
from one end of the ship to the other, and, sirs, we had a little world
of our own revolving on a wabbling axis between the stanch ribs of the
old transport _Chevert_.

We were bound for Tahiti, God willing and the winds favorable; and the
common hope of ultimately finding port in that paradise is all that
held us together through thick and thin. We might wrangle at dinner, and
come to breakfast next morning with bitterness in our hearts; we might
sink into the bottomless pit of despond; we might revile _Monsieur le
Capitaine_ and _Monsieur le Cuisinier_, including in our anathemas the
elements and some other things; they (the Frenchmen) might laugh to
scorn the great American people,--and they did it, two or three
times--and I, in my turn, might feel a secret contempt for Paris,
without having the power to express the same in tolerable French, so I
felt it and held my tongue. Even Thanaron gave me a French shrug now and
then that sent the cold shivers through me; but there was sure to come a
sunset like a sea of fire, at which golden hour we were marshalled
amidships, and stood with uncovered heads and the soft light playing
over us, while the littlest French boy in the crew said the evening
prayer with exceeding sweetness,--being the youngest, he was the most
worthy of saying it,--and then we all crossed ourselves, and our hearts
melted within us.

There was something in the delicious atmosphere, growing warmer every
day, and something in the delicious sea, that was beginning to rock her
floating gardens of blooming weed under our bows, and something in the
aspect of _Monsieur le Capitaine_, with his cap off and a shadow of
prayer softening his hard, proud face, that unmanned us; so we rushed
to our own little cabin and hugged one another, lest we should forget
how when we were restored to our sisters and our sweethearts, and
everything was forgiven and forgotten in one intense moment of French
remorse.

Who took me in his arms and carried me the length of the cabin in three
paces, at the imminent peril of my life? Thanaron! Who admired
Thanaron's gush of nature, and nearly squeezed the life out of him in
the vain hope of making their joy known to him? Everybody else in the
mess! Who looked on in bewilderment, and was half glad and half sorry,
though more glad than sorry by half, and wondered all the while what was
coming next? Bless you, it was I! And we kept doing that sort of thing
until I got very used to it, and by the time we sighted the green
summits of Tahiti, my range of experience was so great that nothing
could touch me further. It may be that we were not governed by the laws
of ordinary seafarers. The _Chevert_ was shaped a little like a
bath-tub, with a bow like a duck's breast, and a high, old-fashioned
quarter-deck, resembling a Chinese junk with a reef in her stern. Forty
bold sailor-boys, who looked as though they had been built on precisely
the same model and dealt out to the government by the dozen, managed to
keep the decks very clean and tidy, and the brass-work in a state of
dazzling brightness. The ship was wonderfully well ordered. I could tell
you by the sounds on deck, while I swung in the comfortable seclusion
of my hammock, just the hour of the day or night, but that was after I
had once learned the order of events. There was the Sunday morning
inspection, the Wednesday sham naval battle, the prayers night and
morning, and the order to shorten sail each evening. Between times the
decks were scrubbed and the whole ship renovated; sometimes the rigging
was darkened with drying clothes, and sometimes we felt like ancient
mariners, the sea was so oily and the air so hot and still. There was
nothing stirring save the sea-birds, who paddled about like tame ducks,
and the faint, thin thread of smoke that ascended noiselessly from the
dainty rolls of tobacco in the fingers of the entire ship's crew. In
fact, when we moved at all in these calm waters, we seemed to be
propelled by forty-cigarette power, for there was not a breath of air
stirring.

It was at such times that we fought our bloodless battles. The hours
were ominous; breakfast did not seem half a breakfast, because we
hurried through it with the dreadful knowledge that a conflict was
pending, and possibly--though not probably--we might never gather at
that board again, for a naval engagement is something terrible, and life
is uncertain in the fairest weather. Breakfast is scarcely over when the
alarm is given, and with the utmost speed every Frenchman flies to his
post. Already the horizon is darkened with the Prussian navy, yet our
confidence in the stanch old _Chevert_, in each particular soul on
board, and in our undaunted leader,--_Monsieur le Capitaine_, who is
even now scouring the sea with an enormous marine glass that of itself
is enough to strike terror to the Prussian heart,--our implicit
confidence in ourselves is such that we smilingly await the approach of
the doomed fleet. At last they come within range of our guns, and the
conflict begins. I am unfortunately compelled to stay beneath the
hatches. A sham battle is no sight for an inexperienced landsman to
witness, and, moreover, I would doubtless get in the way of the frantic
crew, who seem resolved to shed the last drop of French blood in behalf
of _la belle France_.

Marine engagements are, as a general thing, a great bore. The noise is
something terrific; ammunition is continually passed up through the
transom over our dinner-table, and a thousand feet are rushing over the
deck with a noise as of theatrical thunder. The engagement lasts for an
hour or two. Once or twice we are enveloped in sheets of flame. We are
speedily deluged with water, and the conflict is renewed with the
greatest enthusiasm. Again, and again, and again, we pour a broadside
into the enemy's fleet, and always with terrific effect. We invariably
do ourselves the greatest credit, for, by the time our supplies are
about exhausted, not a vestige of the once glorious navy of Prussia
remains to tell the tale. The sea is, of course, blood-stained for
miles around. The few persistent Prussians who attempt to board us are
speedily despatched, and allowed to drop back into the remorseless
waves. A shout of triumph rings up from our triumphant crew, and the
play is over.

Once more the hatches are removed; once more I breathe the sweet air of
heaven, for not a grain of powder has been burned through all this
fearful conflict; once more my messmates rush into our little cabin and
regale themselves with copious draughts of absinthe, and I am pressed to
the proud bosom of Thanaron, who is restored to me without a scar to
disfigure his handsome little body. I grew used to these weekly wars,
and before we came in sight of our green haven, there was not a Prussian
left in the Pacific. It is impossible that any nation, though they be
schooled to hardships, could hope to survive such a succession of
disastrous conflicts. On the whole, I like sham battles; they are deuced
exciting, and they don't hurt.

How different, how very different those sleepy days when we were
drifting on toward the Marquesas Islands! The silvery phaëtons darted
overhead like day-stars shooting from their spheres. The sea-weed grew
denser, and a thousand floating things,--broken branches with a few
small leaves attached, the husk of a cocoa-nut, or straws such as any
dove from any ark would be glad to seize upon,--these gave us ample
food for speculation. "Piloted by the slow, unwilling winds," we came
close to the star-lit Nouka Hiva, and shortened sail right under its
fragrant shadow. It was a glorious night. There was the subtile odor of
earth in the warm, faint air, and before us that impenetrable shadow
that we knew to be an island, yet whose outlines were traceable only by
the obliterated stars.

At sunrise we were on deck, and, looking westward, saw the mists melt
away like a veil swept from before the face of a dusky Venus just rising
from the waves. The island seemed to give out a kind of magnetic heat
that made our blood tingle. We gravitated toward it with an almost
irresistible impulse. Something had to be done before we yielded to the
fascinations of this savage enchantress. Our course lay to the windward
of the southeastern point of the land; but, finding that we could not
weather it, we went off before the light wind and drifted down the
northern coast, swinging an hour or more under the lee of some parched
rocks, eying the "Needles,"--the slender and symmetrical peaks, so
called,--and then we managed to work our way out into the open sea
again, and were saved.

Valleys lay here and there, running back from the shore with green and
inviting vistas; slim waterfalls made one desperate leap from the clouds
and buried themselves in the forests hundreds of feet below, where they
were lost forever. Rain-clouds hung over the mountains, throwing deep
shadows across the slopes that but for this relief would have been too
bright for the sentimental beauty that usually identifies a tropical
island.

I happened to know something about the place, and marked every inch of
the scorching soil as we floated past groves of rose-wood, sandal-wood,
and a hundred sorts of new and strange trees, looking dark and velvety
in the distance; past strips of beach that shone like brass, while
beyond them the cocoa-palms that towered above the low, brown huts of
the natives seemed to reel and nod in the intense meridian heat. A moist
cloud, far up the mountain, hung above a serene and sacred haunt, and
under its shelter was hidden a deep valley, whose secret has been
carried to the ends of the earth; for Herman Melville has plucked out
the heart of its mystery, and beautiful and barbarous Typee lies naked
and forsaken.

I was rather glad we could not get any nearer to it, for fear of
dispelling the ideal that has so long charmed me. Catching the wind
again, late in the afternoon, we lost the last outline of Nouka Hiva in
the soft twilight, and said our prayers that evening as much at sea as
ever. Back we dropped into the solemn round of uneventful days. Even the
sham-battles no longer thrilled us. In fact, the whole affair was a
little too theatrical to bear frequent repetition. There was but one of
our mess who could muster an episode whenever we became too stagnant for
our health's good, and this was our first officer,--a tall, slim fellow,
with a warlike beard, and very soft, dark eyes, whose pupils seemed to
be floating aimlessly about under the shelter of long lashes. His face
was in a perpetual dispute with itself, and I never knew which was the
right or the wrong side of him. B---- was the happy possessor of a tight
little African, known as Nero, although I always looked upon him as so
much Jamaica ginger. Nero was as handsome a specimen of tangible
darkness as you will sight in a summer's cruise. B---- loved with the
ardor of his vacillating eyes, yet governed with the rigor of his beard.
Nero was consequently prepared for any change in the weather, no matter
how sudden or uncalled for. In the equatorial seas, while we sailed to
the measure of the Ancient Mariner, B---- summoned Nero to the
sacrifice, and, having tortured him to the extent of his wits, there was
a reconciliation more ludicrous than any other scene in the farce. It
was at such moments that B----'s eyes literally swam, when even his
beard wilted, while he told of the thousand pathetic eras in Nero's
life, when he might have had his liberty, but found the service of his
master more beguiling; of the adventures by flood and field, where B----
was distinguishing himself, yet at his side, through thick and thin,
struggled the faithful Nero. Thus B---- warmed himself at the fire his
own enthusiasm had kindled on the altar of self-love, and every moment
added to his fervor. It was the yellow-fever, and the cholera, and the
small-pox, that were powerless to separate that faithful slave from the
agonizing bedside of his master. It was shipwreck, and famine, and the
smallest visible salary, that seemed only to strengthen the ties that
bound them the one to the other. Death--cruel death--alone could
separate them; and B---- took Nero by the throat and kissed him
passionately upon his sooty cheek, and the floating eyes came to a
stand-still with an expression of virtuous defiance that was calculated
to put all conventionalities to the blush. We were awed by the
magnanimity of such conduct, until we got thoroughly used to it, and
then we were simply entertained. We kept looking forward to the
conclusion of the scene, which usually followed in the course of half an
hour. B---- having fondled Nero to his heart's content, and Nero having
become somewhat bored, there was sure to arise some mild disturbance,
aggravated by both parties, and B----, believing he had endured as much
as any Frenchman and first officer is expected to endure without
resentment, suddenly rises, and, seizing Nero by the short, wiry moss of
his scalp, kicks him deliberately from the cabin, and returns to us
bursting with indignation. This domestic equinox we soon grew fond of,
and, having become familiar with all its signals of approach, we watched
with agreeable interest the inevitable climax. It was well for Nero that
Nature had provided against any change of color in his skin, for he must
have borne the sensation of his chastisement for some hours, though he
was unable to give visible expression of it. By and by came B----'s own
private birthday. Nothing had been said of it at table, and, in fact,
nothing elsewhere, that I remember; but Nero, who had survived several
of those anniversaries, bore it in mind, and our dinner was something
gorgeous--to look at! Unhappily, certain necessary ingredients had been
unavoidably omitted in the concocting of the dessert, ornamental pastry
not being set down in our regular bill of fare; but B---- ate of pies
that were built of chips, and of puddings that were stuffed with
sawdust, until I feared we should be called upon to mourn the loss of a
first officer before morning.

Moreover, B---- insisted that everything was unsurpassed; and, Heaven be
thanked! I believe the pastry could easily lay claim to that
distinction. At any rate, never before or since have I laid teeth to
such a Dead Sea dessert. At this point, B---- naturally called Nero to
him and thanked him, with moist and truthful eyes, and the ingenuous
little Jamaican dropped a couple of colorless tears that would easily
have passed for anybody's anywhere. For this mutual exhibition of
sentiment every one of us was duly grateful, and we never afterward
scorned B---- for his eccentricities, since we knew him to be capable of
genuine feeling. Moreover, he nearly died of his birthday feast, yet did
not once complain of the unsuspecting cause of all his woe, who was at
his side night and day, anticipating all his wishes, and deploring the
unaccountable misfortunes of his master.

So the winds blew us into the warm south latitudes. I was getting
restless. Perhaps we had talked ourselves out of legitimate topics of
conversation, and were forcing the social element. It was tedious beyond
expression, passing day after day within sound of the same voices, and
being utterly unable to flee into never so small a solitude, for there
was not an inch of it on board. Swinging at night in my hammock between
decks, wakefully dreaming of the future and of the past, again and again
I have stolen up on deck, where the watch lay in the moonlight, droning
their interminable yarns and smoking their perpetual cigarettes,--for
French sailors have privileges, and improve them with considerable
grace.

It was at such times that the wind sung in the rigging, with a sound as
of a thousand swaying branches full of quivering leaves,--just as the
soft gale in the garden groves suggests pleasant nights at sea, the
vibration of the taut stays, and the rush of waters along the smooth
sides of the vessel. A ship's rigging is a kind of sea-harp, played
upon by the four winds of heaven.

The sails were half in moonlight and half in shadow. Every object was
well defined, and on the high quarter-deck paced Thanaron, his boyish
figure looking strangely picturesque, for he showed in every motion how
deeply he felt the responsibility of his office. There was usually a
faint light in the apartments of _Monsieur le Capitaine_, and I thought
of him in his gold lace and dignity, poring over a French novel, or
cursing the light winds. I used to sit upon the neck of a gun,--one of
our four dummies, that were never known to speak louder than a
whisper,--lay my head against the moist bulwarks, and listen to the
half-savage chants of the Tahitian sailors who helped to swell our crew.
As we drew down toward the enchanted islands they seemed fairly
bewitched, and it was with the utmost difficulty that they could keep
their mouths shut until evening, when they were sure to begin intoning
an epic that usually lasted through the watch. Sometimes a fish leaped
into the moonlight, and came down with a splash; or a whale heaved a
great sigh close to us, and as I looked over the bulwarks, I would catch
a glimpse of the old fellow just going down, like a submerged island.
Occasionally a flying-fish--a kind of tangible moonbeam--fell upon deck,
and was secured by one of the sailors; or a bird, sailing about with an
eye to roosting on one of our yards, gave a plaintive, ominous cry,
that was echoed in falsetto by two or three voices, and rung in with the
Tahitian cantata of island delights. Even this sort of thing lost its
charm after a little. Thanaron could not speak to me, because Thanaron
was officer of the deck at that moment, and Thanaron himself had said to
me, "Order, Monsieur, order is the first law of France!" I had always
supposed that Heaven had a finger in the making of that law,--but it is
all the same to a Frenchman.

Most sea-days have a tedious family resemblance, their chief
characteristic being the almost total absence of any distinguishing
feature. Fair weather and foul; sunlight, moonlight, and starlight;
moments of confidence; oaths of eternal fidelity; plans for the future
long enough to crowd a century uncomfortably; relapses, rows,
recoveries; then, after many days, the water subsided, and we saw land
at last.

Land, God bless it! Long, low coral reefs, with a strip of garden
glorifying them; rocks towering out of the sea, palm-crowned,
foam-fringed; wreaths of verdure cast upon the bosom of the ocean,
forever fragrant in their imperishable beauty; and, beyond and above
them all, gorgeous and glorious Tahiti.

On the morning of the thirty-third day out, there came a revelation to
the whole ship's company. A faint blue peak was seen struggling with
the billows; presently it seemed to get the better of them, growing
broader and taller, but taking hours to do so. The wind was stiff, and
the sea covered with foam; we rolled frightfully all day. Our French
dinner lost its identity. Soup was out of the question; we had hard work
to keep meat and vegetables from total wreck, while we hung on to the
legs of the table with all our strength. How the old _Chevert_ "bucked,"
that day, as though conscious that for months to come she would swing in
still waters by the edge of green pastures, where any such conduct would
be highly inappropriate.

Every hour the island grew more and more beautiful, as though it were
some lovely fruit or flower, swiftly and magically coming to maturity. A
central peak, with a tiara of rocky points, crowns it with majesty, and
a neighboring island of great beauty seems its faithful attendant. I do
not wonder that the crew of the Bounty mutinied when they were ordered
to make sail and turn their backs on Tahiti; nor am I surprised that
they put the captain and one or two other objectionable features into a
small boat, and advised them to continue their voyage if they were
anxious to do so: but as for them, give them Tahiti, or give them worse
than death,--and, if convenient, give them Tahiti straight, and keep all
the rest for the next party that came along.

As soon as we were within hailing distance, the pilot came out and took
us under his wing. We kissed the hand of a citizen of the new world,
and, for the first time since losing sight of the dear California coast,
dismissed it from our minds. There was very little wind right under the
great green mountains, so the frigate Astrea sent a dozen boats to tow
us through the opening in the reef to our most welcome anchorage. No
Doge of Venice ever cruised more majestically than we, and our
sea-pageant was the sensation of the day.

"Click-click" went the anchor-chains through the hawse-holes, down into
a deep, sheltered bowl of the sea, whose waters have never yet been
ruffled by the storms that beat upon the coral wall around it. Along the
crescent shores trees dropped their yellow leaves into the water, and
tried their best to bury the slim canoes drawn up among their roots.
Beyond this barricade of verdure the eye caught glimpses of every sort
of tropical habitation imaginable, together with the high roofs and
ponderous white walls of the French government buildings. The foliage
broke over the little town like a green sea, and every possibility of a
good view of it was lost in the inundation. Above it towered the sublime
crest of the mountain, with a strip of cloud about its middle in true
savage fashion. Perpetual harvest lay in its lap, and it basked in the
smile of God.

Twilight, fragrant and cool; a fruity flavor in the air, a flower-like
tint in sea and sky, the ship's boat waiting to convey us shoreward....
O Thanaron, my Thanaron, with your arms about my neck, and B----'s arms
about you, and Nero clinging to his master's knees,--in fact, with
everybody felicitating every other body, because it was such an evening
as descends only upon the chosen places of the earth, and because,
having completed our voyage in safety, we were all literally in a
transport!

[Decoration]



[Decoration]

A PRODIGAL IN TAHITI.


Let this confession be topped with a vignette done in broad, shadowless
lines and few of them,--something like this:--

A little, flyblown room, smelling of garlic; I cooling my elbows on the
oily slab of a table (breakfast for one), and looking through a window
at a glaring, whitewashed fence high enough to shut out the universe
from my point of sight. Yet it hid not all, since it brought into relief
a panting cock (with one leg in a string), which had so strained to
compress itself into a doubtful inch of shade that its suspended claw
clutched the air in real agony.

Having dazzled my eyes with this prospect, I turned gratefully to the
vanities of life that may be had for two francs in Tahiti. _Vide_ bill
of fare: One fried egg, like the eye of some gigantic Albino; potatoes
hollowed out bombshell fashion, primed with liver-sausage, very
ingenious and palatable; the naked corpse of a fowl that cared not to
live longer, from appearances, yet looked not happy in death.

Item: Wonder if there _is_ a more ghastly spectacle than a chicken
cooked in the French style; its knees drawn up on its breast like an
Indian mummy, while its blue-back, parboiled, and melancholy visage
tearfully surveys its own unshrouded remains. After a brief season of
meditation I said, and I trust I meant it, "I thank the Lord for all
these blessings." Then I gave the corpse of the chicken Christian burial
under a fold of the window curtain, disposed of the fried eye of the
Albino, and transformed myself into a mortar for the time being, taking
potato-bombshells according to my calibre.

There was claret all the while and plenty of butterless roll, a shaving
of cheese, a banana, black coffee and cognac, when I turned again to
dazzle myself with the white fence, and saw with infinite pity,--a
sentiment perhaps not unmixed with a suspicion of cognac or some other
temporary humanizing element,--I saw for a fact that the poor cock had
wilted, and lay flat in the sun like a last year's duster. That was too
much for me. I wheeled towards the door where gleamed the bay with its
lovely ridges of light; canoes drifting over it drew the eye after them
irresistibly; I heard the ship-calkers on the beach making their
monotonous clatter, and the drone of the bareheaded fruitsellers
squatted in rows chatting indolently, with their eyes half shut. I
could think of nothing but bees humming over their own sweet wares.

About this time a young fellow at the next table, who had scarcely a
mouthful of English at his command, implored me to take beer with him;
implying that we might, if desirable, become as tight as two bricks. I
declined, much to his admiration, he regarding my refusal as a clear
case of moral courage, whereas it arose simply and solely from my utter
inability to see his treat and go him one better.

A grown person in Tahiti has an eating hour allotted to him twice a day,
at 10 A. M. and 5 P. M. My time being up, I returned to the store in an
indifferent frame of mind, and upon entering the presence of my
employer, who had arrived a moment before me, I was immediately covered
with the deep humiliation of servitude and withdrew to an obscure
corner, while Monsieur and some naval guests took absinthe unblushingly,
which was, of course, proper enough in them. Call it by what name you
will, you cannot sweeten servility to my taste. Then why was I there and
in bondage? The spirit of adventure that keeps life in us, yet comes
near to worrying it out of us now and then, lured me with my handful of
dollars to the Garden of the Pacific. "You can easily get work," said
some one who had been there and didn't want it. If work I must, why not
better there than here? thought I; and the less money I take with me the
surer am I to seek that which might not attract me under other
circumstances. A few letters which proved almost valueless; an abiding
trust in Providence, afterward somewhat shaken I am sorry to state,
which convinces me that I can no longer hope to travel as a shorn lamb;
considerable confidence in the good feeling of my fellow-men, together
with the few dollars above referred to,--comprised my all when I set
foot on the leaf-strewn and shady beach of Papeete.

Before the day was over I saw my case was almost hopeless; I was one too
many in a very meagre congregation of foreigners. In a week I was
desperate, with poverty and disgrace brooding like evil spirits on
either hand. Every ten minutes some one suggested something which was
almost immediately suppressed by the next man I met, to whom I applied
for further information. Teach, said one: there wasn't a pupil to be had
in the dominion. Clerkships were out of the question likewise. I might
keep store, if I could get anything to put in it; or go farther, as some
one suggested, if I had money enough to get there. I thought it wiser to
endure the ills I had than fly to others that I knew not of. In this
state I perambulated the green lanes of Papeete, conscious that I was
drawing down tons of immaterial sympathy from hearts of various
nationalities, beating to the music of regular salaries in hard cash,
and the inevitable ringing of their daily dinner-bell; and I continued
to perambulate under the same depressing avalanches for a fortnight or
more,--a warning to the generation of the inexperienced that persists in
sowing itself broadcast upon the edges of the earth, and learns too late
how hard a thing it is to take root under the circumstances.

One gloomy day I was seized in the market-place and led before a French
gentleman who offered me a bed and board for such manual compensation as
I might be able to give him in his office during the usual business
hours, namely, from daybreak to some time in the afternoon, unless it
rained, when business was suspended, and I was dropped until fair
weather should set that little world wagging again.

I was invited to enter into the bosom of his family, in fact, to be
_one_ of them, and no single man could ask to be more; to sit at his
table and hope for better days, in which diversion he proposed to join
me with all his soul.

With an emotion of gratitude and a pang at being thus early a subject of
charity, I began business in Papeete, and learned within the hour how
sharper than most sharps it is to know only your own mother-tongue when
you're away from home.

Nightly I walked two hot and dusty miles through groves of bread-fruit
and colonnades of palms to my new master's. I skirted, with loitering
steps, a placid sea whose crystalline depths sheltered leagues and
leagues of sun-painted corals, where a myriad fish, dyed like the
rainbow, sported unceasingly. Springs gushed from the mountain, singing
their song of joy; the winds sang in the dark locks of the sycamore,
while the palm-boughs clashed like cymbals in rhythmical accompaniment;
glad children chanted their choruses, and I alone couldn't sing, nor
hum, nor whistle, because it doesn't pay to work for your board, and
settle for little necessities out of your own pocket, in any latitude
that I ever heard of.

We lived in a grove of ten thousand cocoa-palms crowning a hill-slope to
the west. How all-sufficient it sounds as I write it now, but how little
I cared then, for many reasons! My cottage had prior tenants, who
disputed possession with me,--winged tenants who sought admission at
every cranny and frequently obtained it in spite of me; these were not
angels, but hens. My cottage had been a granary until it got too poor a
receptacle for grains, and a better shelter left it open to the
barn-fowls until I arrived. They hated me, these hungry chickens; they
used to sit in rows on the window-sill and stare me out of countenance.
A wide bedstead, corded with thongs, did its best to furnish my
apartment. A narrow, a very narrow and thin ship's mattress, that had
been a bed of torture for many a sea-sick soul before it descended to
me; a flat pillow like a pancake; a condemned horse-blanket contributed
by a good-natured Kanack who raked it from a heap of refuse in the yard,
together with two sacks of rice, the despair of those hens in the
window, were all I could boast of. With this inventory I strove (by
particular request) to be one of those who were comfortable enough in
the château adjoining. Summoned peremptorily to dinner, I entered a
little latticed saloon connected with the château by a covered walk,
discovered Monsieur seated at table and already served with soup and
claret; the remainder of the company helped themselves as they best
could; and I saw plainly enough that the family bosom was so crowded
already, that I might seek in vain to wedge myself into any corner of
it, at least until some vacancy occurred.

After dinner, sat on a sack of rice in my room while it grew dark and
Monsieur received calls; wandered down to the beach at the foot of the
hill and lay a long time on a bed of leaves, while the tide was out and
the crabs clattered along shore and were very sociable. Natives began to
kindle their evening fires of cocoa-nut husks; smoke, sweet as incense,
climbed up to the plumes of the palm-trees and was lost among the stars.
Morsels of fish and bread-fruit were offered me by the untutored savage,
who welcomed me to his frugal meal and desired that I should at least
taste before he broke his fast. Canoes shot out from dense, shadowy
points, fishers standing in the bows with a poised spear in one hand; a
blazing palm-branch held aloft in the other shed a warm glow of light
over their superb nakedness. Bathed by the sea, in a fresh, cool spring,
and returned to my little coop, which was illuminated by the glare of
fifty floating beacons; looking back from the door I could see the dark
outlines of the torch-bearers and hear their signal calls above the low
growl of the reef a half-mile farther out from shore. It was a blessing
to lie awake in my little room and watch the flicker of those fires; to
think how Tahiti must look on a cloudless night from some heavenly
altitude,--the ocean still as death, the procession of fishermen
sweeping from point to point within the reef, till the island, flooded
with starlight and torchlight, lies like a green sea-garden in a girdle
of flame.

A shrill bell called me from my bed at dawn. I was not unwilling to
rise, for half the night I lay like a saint on the tough thongs, having
turned over in sleep, thereby missing the mattress entirely. Made my
toilet at a spring on the way into town; saw a glorious sunrise that was
as good as breakfast, and found the whole earth and sea and all that in
them is singing again while I listened and gave thanks for that
privilege. At 10 A. M. I went to breakfast in the small restaurant where
I have sketched myself at the top of this chronicle, and whither we may
return and begin over again if it please you.

I was about to remark that probably most melancholy and homesickness may
be cured or alleviated by a wholesome meal of victuals; but I think I
won't, for, on referring to my note-book, I find that within an hour
after my return to the store I was as heart-sick as ever and wasn't
afraid to say so. It is scarcely to be wondered at: the sky was dark;
aboard a schooner some sailors were making that doleful whine peculiar
to them, as they hauled in to shore and tied up to a tree in a sifting
rain; then everything was ominously still as though something
disagreeable were about to happen; thereupon I doubled myself over the
counter like a half-shut jack-knife, and burying my face in my hands
said to myself, "O, to be alone with Nature! her silence is religion and
her sounds sweet music." After which the rain blew over, and I was sent
with a hand-cart and one underfed Kanack to a wharf half a mile away to
drag back several loads of potatoes. We two hungry creatures struggled
heroically to do our duty. Starting with a multitude of sacks it was
quite impossible to proceed with, we grew weaker the farther we went, so
that the load had to be reduced from time to time, and I believe the
amount of potatoes deposited by the way considerably exceeded the amount
we subsequently arrived at the store with. Finding life a burden, and
seeing the legs of the young fellow in harness with me bend under him
in his frantic efforts to get our cart out of a rut without emptying it
entirely, I resolved to hire a substitute at my own expense, and save my
remaining strength for a new line of business. Thus I was enabled to sit
on the wharf the rest of the afternoon and enjoy myself devising new
means of subsistence and watching the natives swim.

Some one before me found a modicum of sweets in his cup of bitterness,
and in a complacent hour set the good against the evil in single entry,
summing up the same to his advantage. I concluded to do it myself, and
did it, thus:--

              EVIL.                             GOOD.

  I find myself in a foreign       But I may do as I please in
  land with no one to love and     consequence, and it is nobody's
  none to love me.                 business save my own.

  I am working for my board        But I may quit as soon as I
  and lodging (no extras), and     feel like it, and shall have no
  find it very unprofitable.       occasion to dun my employer for
                                   back salary so long as I stop
                                   with him.

  My clothes are in rags. I        But the weather is mild and the
  shall soon be without a          fig-tree flourisheth. Moreover
  stitch to my back.               many a good savage has gone
                                   naked before me.

  I get hungry before breakfast    But fasting is saintly. Day by
  and feel faint after dinner.     day I grow more spiritual, and
  What are two meals a day to      shall shortly be a fit subject
  a man of my appetite?            for translation to that better
                                   world which is doubtless the
                                   envy of all those who have lost
                                   it by over eating and drinking.

Nothing can exceed the satisfaction with which I read and re-read this
philosophical summary, but I had relapses every few minutes so long as I
lived in Tahiti. I remember one Sunday morning, a day I had all to
myself, when I cried out of the depths and felt better after it. It was
a real Sunday. The fowls confessed it by the indifference with which
they picked up a grain of rice now and then as though they weren't
hungry. The family were moving about in an unnatural way; some people
are never themselves on the Lord's day. The canoes lay asleep off upon
the water, evidently conscious of the long hours of rest they were sure
of having. To sum it all, it seemed as though the cover had been taken
off from the earth, and the angels were sitting in big circles looking
at us. Our clock had run down, and I found myself half an hour too early
at mass. Some diminutive native children talked together with infinite
gesticulation, like little old men. At every lag in the conversation,
two or three of them would steal away to the fence that surrounded the
church and begin diligently counting the pickets thereof. They were
evidently amazed at what they considered a singular coincidence, namely,
that the number of pickets, beginning at the front gate and counting to
the right, tallied exactly with the do. do. beginning at the do. do. and
counting to the left; while they were making repeated efforts to get at
the heart of this mystery, the priest rode up on horseback, dismounted
in our midst, and we all followed him into chapel to mass.

A young Frenchman offered me holy-water on the tips of his fingers, and
I immediately decided to confide in him to an unlimited extent if he
gave me the opportunity. It was a serious disappointment when I found
later, that we didn't know six words in any common tongue. Concluded to
be independent and walked off by myself. Got very lonesome immediately.
Tried to be meditative, philosophical, botanical, conchological, and in
less than an hour gave it up,--homesick again, by Jove!

Strolled to the beach and sat a long time on a bit of wreck partly
imbedded in the sand; consoled by the surpassing radiance of sunset,
wondered how I could ever have repined, but proceeded to do it again as
soon as it grew dark. Some natives drew near, greeting me kindly. They
were evidently lovers; talked in low tones, deeply interested in the
most trivial things, such as a leaf falling into the sea at our feet and
floating stem up, like a bowsprit; he probably made some poetic allusion
to it, may have proposed braving the seas with her in a shallop as
fairy-like, for both fell a dreaming and were silent for some time, he
worshipping her with fascinated eyes, while she, woman-like, pretended
to be all unconscious of his admiration.

Silently we sat looking over the sea at Moorea, just visible in the
light of the young moon, like a spirit brooding upon the waters, till I
broke the spell by saying "Good night," which was repeated in a chorus
as I withdrew to my coop and found my feathered guests had beaten in the
temporary barricade erected in the broken window, entered and made
themselves at home during my absence,--a fact that scarcely endeared the
spot to me. Next morning I was unusually merry; couldn't tell why, but
tried to sing as I made my toilet at the spring; laughed nearly all the
way into town, saying my prayers, and blessing God, when I came suddenly
upon a horse-shoe in the middle of the road. Took it as an omen and a
keepsake; horse-shoes aren't shed everywhere nor for everybody. I
thought it the prophecy of a change, and at once cancelled my engagement
with my employer without having set foot into his house farther than the
dining-room, or made any apparent impression upon the adamantine bosom
of his family.

After formally expressing my gratitude to Monsieur for his renewed
offers of hospitality, I turned myself into the street, and was once
more adrift in the world. For the space of three minutes I was wild with
joy at the thought of my perfect liberty. Then I grew nervous, began to
feel unhappy, nay, even guilty, as though I had thrown up a good thing.
Concluded it was rash of me to leave a situation where I got two meals
and a mattress, with the privilege of washing at my own expense. Am not
sure that it wasn't unwise, for I had no dinner that afternoon; and
having no bed either, I crept into the veranda of a house to let and
dozed till daybreak.

There was but one thing to live for now, namely, to see as much of
Tahiti as possible, and at my earliest convenience return like the
prodigal son to that father who would doubtless feel like killing
something appropriate as soon as he saw me coming. I said as much to a
couple of Frenchmen, brothers, who are living a dream-life over yonder,
and whose wildest species of dissipation for the last seven years has
been to rise at intervals from their settees in the arbor, go
deliberately to the farther end of the garden and eat several mangoes in
cold blood.

To comprehend Tahiti, a man must lose himself in forests whose resinous
boughs are knotted with ribbons of sea-grass; there, overcome by the
music of sibilant waters sifting through the antlers of the coral, he is
supposed to sink upon drifts of orange-blossoms only to be resuscitated
by the spray of an approaching shower crashing through the green
solitudes like an army with chariots,--so those brothers said, with a
mango poised in each hand; and they added that I should have an official
document addressed to the best blood in the kingdom, namely, Forty
Chiefs of Tahiti, who would undoubtedly entertain me with true
barbarian hospitality, better the world knows not. There was a delay for
some reason; I, rather impatient, and scarcely hoping to receive so
graceful a compliment from head-quarters, trudged on alone with a light
purse and an infinitesimal bundle of necessities, caring nothing for the
weather nor the number of miles cleared per day, since I laid no plans
save the one, to see as much as I might with the best grace possible,
keeping an eye on the road for horse-shoes. Through leagues of verdure I
wandered, feasting my five senses and finding life a holiday at last.
There were numberless streams to be crossed, where I loafed for hours on
the bridges, satisfying myself with sunshine. Not a savage in the land
was freer than I. No man could say to me, "Why stand ye here idle?" for
I could continue to stand as long as I liked and as idly as it pleased
me in spite of him! There were bridgeless streams to be forded; but the
Tahitian is a nomad continually wandering from one edge of his fruitful
world to the other; moreover, he is the soul of peace towards men of
goodwill: I was invariably picked up by some bare-backed Hercules, who
volunteered to take me over the water on his brawny brown shoulders, and
could have easily taken two like me. It was good to be up there while he
strode through the swift current, for I felt that he was perfectly able
to carry me to the ends of the earth without stopping, and that sense
of reliance helped to reassure my faith in humanity.

As I wandered, from most native houses came the invitation to enter and
eat. Night after night I found my bed in the corner of some dwelling
whither I had been led by the master of it, with unaffected grace. It
wasn't simply showing me to a spare room, but rather unrolling the best
mat and turning everything to my account so long as it pleased me to
tarry. Sometimes the sea talked in its sleep not a rod from the house;
frequently the mosquitoes accepted me as a delicacy and did their best
to dispose of me. Once I awoke with a headache, the air was so dense
with the odor of orange-blossoms.

There was frequently a strip of blue bay that ebbed and flowed languidly
and had to be lunched with; or a very deep and melodious spring, asking
for an interview, and, I may add, it always got it. I remember one
miniature castle built in the midst of a grassy Venice by the shore. Its
moats, shining with gold-fish, were spanned with slender bridges; toy
fences of bamboo enclosed the rarer clumps of foliage; and there was
such an air of tranquillity pervading it I thought I must belong there.
Something seemed to say, "Come in." I went in, but left very soon; the
place was so fairy-like, I felt as though I were liable to step through
it and come out on some other side, and I wasn't anxious for such a
change.

I ate when I got hungry, a very good sort of a meal, consisting usually
of a tiny piglet cooked in the native fashion, swathed in succulent
leaves and laid between hot stones till ready for eating; bread-fruit,
like mashed potato, but a great deal better; orange-tea and cocoa-milk,
surely enough for two or three francs. Took a sleep whenever sleep came
along, resting always till the clouds or a shadow from the mountain
covered me so as to keep cool and comfortable. Natives passed me with
salutations. A white man now and then went by barely nodding, or more
frequently eying me with suspicion and giving me as much of his dust as
he found convenient. In the wider fellowship of nature, I forswore all
blood relations and blushed for those representatives of my own color as
I footed it right royally. Therefore, I was enabled to scorn the fellow
who scorned me while he flashed the steel hoofs of his charger in my
face and dashed on to the village we were both approaching with the
dusk.

What a spot it was! A long lane as green as a spring meadow, lying
between wall-like masses of foliage whose deep arcades were frescoed
with blossoms and festooned with vines. It seemed a pathway leading to
infinity, for the blood-red bars of sunset glared at its farther end as
though Providence had placed them there to keep out the unregenerated.
Not a house visible all this time, nor a human, though I was in the
heart of the hamlet. Passing up the turf-cushioned road I beheld on
either hand, through a screen of leaves, a log spanning a rivulet that
was softly singing its monody; at the end of each log the summer-house
of some Tahitian, who sat in his door smoking complacently. It was a
picture of still life with a suggestion of possible motion; a village to
put into a greenhouse, water, and keep fresh forever. Let me picture it
once more,--one mossy street between two babbling brooks, and every
house thereof set each in its own moated wilderness. This was Papeali.

Like rows of cages full of chirping birds those bamboo huts were
distributed up and down the street. As I walked I knew something would
cause me to turn at the right time and find a new friend ready to
receive me, for it always does. So I walked slowly and without
hesitation or impatience until I turned and met him coming out of his
cage, crossing the rill by his log and holding out his hand to me in
welcome. Back we went together, and I ate and slept there as though it
had been arranged a thousand years ago; perhaps it was! There was a
racket up at the farther end of the lane, by the chief's house; songs
and nose-flutings upon the night air; moreover, a bonfire and doubtless
much nectar,--too much, as usual, for I heard such cheers as the soul
gives when it is careless of consequences, and caught a glimpse of the
joys of barbarism such as even we poor Christians cannot wholly
withstand, but turning our backs think we are safe enough. Commend me to
him who has known temptation and not shunned it, but actually withstood
it!

It was the dance, as ever it is the dance where all the aspirations of
the soul find expression in the body; those bodies that are incarnate
souls or those souls that are spiritualized bodies, inseparable,
whatever they are, for the time being. The fire glowed fervently;
bananas hung out their tattered banners like decorations; palms rustled
their silver plumes aloft in the moonlight; the sea panted upon its
sandy bed in heavy sleep; the night-blooming cereus opened its waxen
chambers and gave forth its treasured sweets. Circle after circle of
swart savage faces were turned upon the flame-lit arena where the
dancers posed for a moment with their light drapery gathered about them
and held carelessly in one hand. Anon the music chimed forth,--a
reiteration of chords caught from the birds' treble and the wind's bass;
full and resounding syllables, richly poetical, telling of orgies and of
the mysteries of the forbidden revels in the charmed valleys of the
gods, hearing which it were impossible not to be wrought to madness; and
the dancers thereat went mad, dancing with infinite gesticulation,
dancing to whirlwinds of applause till the undulation of their bodies
was serpentine, and at last in frenzy they shrieked with joy, threw off
their garments, and were naked as the moon. So much for a vision that
kept me awake till morning, when I plodded on in the damp grass and
tried to forget it, but couldn't exactly and never have to this hour.
Went on and on over more bridges spanning still-flowing streams of
silver, past springs that lay like great crystals framed in moss under
dripping, fern-clad cliffs that the sun never reaches. Came at last to a
shining, whitewashed fort, on an eminence that commands the isthmus
connecting the two hemispheres of Tahiti, where down I dropped into a
narrow valley full of wind and discord and a kind of dreary neglect that
made me sick for any other place. More refreshment for the wayfarer, but
to be paid for by the dish, and therefore limited. Was obliged to hate a
noisy fellow with too much bushy black beard and a freckled nose, and to
like another who eyed me kindly over his absinthe, having first mixed a
glass for me. A native asked me where I was going; being unable to give
any satisfactory answer, he conducted me to his canoe, about a mile
distant, where he cut a sapling for a mast, another for a gaff, twisted,
in a few moments, a cord of its fibrous bark, rigged a sail of his
sleeping-blanket, and we were shortly wafted onward before a light
breeze between the reef and shore.

Three of us with a bull-pup in the bows dozed under the afternoon sun.
He of the paddle awoke now and then to shift sail, beat the sea
impetuously for a few seconds, and fall asleep again. Voices roused me
occasionally, greetings from colonies of indolent Kanacks on shore,
whose business it was to sit there till they got hungry, laughing
weariness to scorn.

Close upon our larboard-bow lay one of the islands that had bewitched me
as I paced the shore but a few days previous; under us the measureless
gardens of the sea unmasked a myriad imperishable blossoms, centuries
old some of them, but as fair and fresh as though born within the hour.
All that afternoon we drifted between sea and shore, and beached at
sunset in a new land. Foot-sore and weary, I approached a stable from
which thrice a week stages were despatched to Papeete.

A modern pilgrim finds his scrip cumbersome, if he has any, and deems it
more profitable to pay his coachman than his cobbler.

I climbed to my seat by the jolly French driver, who was continually
chatting with three merry nuns sitting just back of us, returning to the
convent in Papeete after a vacation retreat among the hills. How they
enjoyed the ride, as three children might! and were quite wild with
delight at meeting a corpulent _père_, who smiled amiably from his
saddle and offered to show them the interior of the pretty chapel at
Faaa (only three _a_'s in that word),--the very one I grew melancholy in
when I was a man of business.

So they hurled themselves madly from the high seat, one after the other,
scorning to touch anything so contaminating as a man's hand, though it
looked suicidal, as the driver and I agreed while the three were at
prayers by the altar. Whipping up over the road townward, I could almost
recognize my own footprints left since the time I used to take the dust
in my face three mornings a week from the wheels of that very vehicle as
I footed it in to business. Passing the spring, my toilet of other days,
drawing to the edge of the town, we stopped being jolly and were as
proper as befitted travellers. We looked over the wall of the convent
garden as we drove up to the gate, and saw the mother-superior hurrying
down to us with a cumbersome chair for the relief of the nuns, but
before she reached us they had cast themselves to earth again in the
face of destiny, and there was kissing, crying, and commotion as they
withdrew under the gateway like so many doves seeking shelter. When the
gate closed after them, I heard them all _cooing_ at once, but the world
knows nothing further.

Where would I be dropped? asked the driver. In the middle of the street,
please you, and take half my little whole for your ride, sir! He took
it, dropped me where we stood, and drove away, I pretending to be very
much at my ease. God help me and all poor hypocrites!

I sought a place of shelter, or rather retirement, for the air is balm
in that country. There was an old house in the middle of a grassy lawn
on a by-street; two of its rooms were furnished with a few papers and
books, and certain gentlemen who contribute to its support lounge in
when they have leisure for reading or a chat. I grew to know the place
familiarly. I stole a night's lodging on its veranda in the shadow of a
passion-vine; but, for fear of embarrassing some early student in
pursuit of knowledge, I passed the second night on the floor of the
dilapidated cook-house, where the ants covered me. I endured the
tortures of one who bares his body to an unceasing shower of sparks; but
I survived.

There was, in this very cook-house, a sink six feet in length and as
wide as a coffin; the third night I lay like a galvanized corpse with
his lid off till a rat sought to devour me, when I took to the streets
and walked till morning. By this time the president of the club, whose
acquaintance I had the honor of, tendered me the free use of any portion
of the premises that might not be otherwise engaged. With a gleam of
hope I began my explorations. Up a narrow and winding stair I found a
spacious loft. It was like a mammoth tent, a solitary centre-pole its
only ornament. Creeping into it on all-fours, I found a fragment of
matting, a dry crust, an empty soda-bottle,--footprints on the sands of
time.

"Poor soul!" I gasped, "where did _you_ come from? What _did_ you come
for? Whither, O, whither, have you flown?"

I might have added, How did you manage to get there? But the present was
so important a consideration, I had no heart to look beyond it. The next
ten nights I passed in the silent and airy apartment of my anonymous
predecessor. Ten nights I crossed the unswept floor that threatened at
every step to precipitate me into the reading-room below. With a faint
heart and hollow stomach I threw myself upon my elbow and strove to
sleep. I lay till my heart stopped beating, my joints were wooden, and
my four limbs corky beyond all hope of reanimation. There the mosquito
revelled, and it was a promising place for centipedes.

At either end of the building an open window admitted the tip of a
banana-leaf; up their green ribs the sprightly mouse careered. I broke
the backbones of these banana-leaves, though they were the joy of my
soul and would have adorned the choicest conservatory in the land. Day
was equally unprofitable to me. My best friends said, "Why not return to
California?" Every one I met invited me to leave the country at my
earliest convenience. The American consul secured me a passage, to be
settled for at home, and my career in that latitude was evidently at an
end. In my superfluous confidence in humanity, I had announced myself as
a correspondent for the press. It was quite necessary that I should
give some plausible reason for making my appearance in Tahiti friendless
and poor. Therefore, I said plainly, "I am a correspondent, friendless
and poor," believing that any one would see truth in the face of it,
with half an eye. "Prove it," said one who knew more of the world than
I. Then flashed upon me the alarming fact that I couldn't prove it,
having nothing whatever in my possession referring to it in the
slightest degree. It was a fatal mistake that might easily have been
avoided, but was too well established to be rectified.

In my chagrin I looked to the good old bishop for consolation.
Approaching the Mission House through sunlit cloisters of palms, I was
greeted most tenderly. I would have gladly taken any amount of holy
orders for the privilege of ending my troublous days in the sweet
seclusion of the Mission House.

As it was, I received a blessing, an autograph and a "God speed" to some
other part of creation. Added to this I learned how the address to the
Forty Chiefs of Tahiti in behalf of the foreign traveller, my poor self,
had been despatched to me by a special courier, who found me not; and
doubtless the _fêtes_ I heard of and was forever missing marked the
march of that messenger, my proxy, in his triumphal progress. In my
innocent degradation it was still necessary to nourish the inner man.

There is a market in Papeete where, under one broad roof, threescore
hucksters of both sexes congregate long before daylight, and, while a
few candles illumine their wares, patiently await custom. A half-dozen
coolies with an eye to business serve hot coffee and chocolate at a dime
per cup to any who choose to ask for it. By 7 A. M. the market is so
nearly sold out that only the more plentiful fruits of the country are
to be obtained at any price. A prodigal cannot long survive on husks,
unless he have coffee to wash them down. I took my cup of it, with two
spoonfuls of sugar and ants dipped out of a cigar-box, and a crust of
bread into the bargain, sitting on a bench in the market-place, with a
coolie and a Kanack on either hand.

It was not the coffee nor the sugared ants that I gave my dime for, but
rather the privilege of sitting in the midst of men and women who were
willing to accept me as a friend and helpmate without questioning my
ancestry, and any one of whom would go me halves in the most
disinterested manner. Then there was sure to be some superb fellow close
at hand, with a sensuous lip curled under his nostril, a glimpse of
which gave me a dime's worth of satisfaction and more too. Having
secreted a French roll, five cents, all hot, under my coat, and gathered
the bananas that would fall in the yard so seasonably, I made my day as
brief and comfortable as possible by filling up with water from time to
time.

The man who has passed a grimy chop-house, wherein a frowzy fellow sat
at his cheap spread, without envying the frowzy fellow his cheap spread,
cannot truly sympathize with me.

The man who has not felt a great hollow in his stomach which he found
necessary to fill at the first fountain he came to, or go over on his
beam ends for lack of ballast, cannot fall upon my neck and call me
brother.

At daybreak I haunted those street fountains, waiting my turn while
French cooks filled almost fathomless kegs, and coolies filled
potbellied jars, and Kanacks filled their hollow bamboos that seemed
fully a quarter of a mile in length. There I meekly made my toilet, took
my first course of breakfast, rinsed out my handkerchiefs and stockings,
and went my way. The whole performance was embarrassing, because I was a
novice and a dozen people watched me in curious silence. I had also a
boot with a suction in the toe; there is dust in Papeete; while I walked
that boot loaded and discharged itself in a manner that amazed and
amused a small mob of little natives who followed me in my free
exhibition, advertising my shooting-boot gratuitously.

I was altogether shabby in my outward appearance, and cannot honestly
upbraid any resident of the town for his neglect of me. I know that I
suffered the agony of shame and the pangs of hunger; but they were
nothing to the utter loneliness I felt as I wandered about with my
heart on my sleeve, and never a bite from so much as a daw.

Did you ever question the possibility of a man's temporary
transformation under certain mental, moral, or physical conditions?
There are seasons when he certainly isn't what he was, yet may be more
and better than he has been, if you give him time enough.

I began to think I had either suffered this transformation or been
maliciously misinformed as to my personality. Was I truly what I
represented myself to be, or had I been a living deception all my days?
No longer able to identify myself as any one in particular, it occurred
to me that it would be well to address a few lines to the gentleman I
had been in the habit of calling "father," asking for some particulars
concerning his absent son. I immediately drew up this document ready for
mailing:--

            MOSQUITO HALL,
                CENTIPEDE AVENUE, PAPEETE.

    DEAR SIR: A nondescript awaits identification at this office.
    Answers to the names at the foot of this page, believes himself
    to be your son, to have been your son, or about to be something
    equally near and dear to you. He can repeat several chapters of
    the New Testament at the shortest notice; recites most of the
    Catechism and Commandments; thinks he would recognize two
    sisters and three brothers at sight, and know his mother with
    his eyes shut.

    He likewise confesses to the usual strawberry-mark in fast
    colors. If you will kindly send by return mail a few dollars,
    he will clothe, feed, and water himself and return immediately
    to those arms which, if his memory does not belie him, have
    more than once sheltered his unworthy frame. I have, dear sir,
    the singular fortune to be the article above described.

The six months which would elapse before I could hope for an answer
would probably have found me past all recognition, so I ceased crying to
the compassionate bowels of Tom, Dick, and Harry, waiting with haggard
patience the departure of the vessel that was to bear me home with a
palpable C. O. D. tacked on to me. Those last hours were brightened by
the delicate attentions of a few good souls who learned, too late, the
shocking state of my case. Thanks to them, I slept well thereafter in a
real bed, and was sure of dinners that wouldn't rattle in me like a
withered kernel in an old nutshell.

I had but to walk to the beach, wave my lily hand, heavily tanned about
that time, when lo! a boat was immediately despatched from the plump
little corvette _Cheveret_, where the tricolor waved triumphantly from
sunrise to sunset, all the year round.

Such capital French dinners as I had there, such offers of bed and board
and boundless sympathy as were made me by those dear fellows who wore
the gold-lace and had a piratical-looking cabin all to themselves, were
enough to wring a heart that had been nearly wrung out in its battle
with life in Tahiti.

No longer I walked the streets as one smitten with the plague, or
revolved in envious circles about the market-place, where I could have
got my fill for a half-dollar, but had neither the one nor the other. No
longer I went at daybreak to swell the procession at the water-spout, or
sat on the shore the picture of despair, waiting sunrise, finding it my
sole happiness to watch a canoe-load of children drifting out upon the
bay, singing like a railful of larks; nor walked solitarily through the
night up and down the narrow streets wherein the _gendarmes_ had learned
to pass me unnoticed, with my hat under my arm and my heart in my
throat. Those delicious moons always seduced me from my natural sleep,
and I sauntered through the cocoa-groves whose boughs glistened like row
after row of crystals, whose shadows were as mosaics wrought in blocks
of silver.

I used to nod at the low, whitewashed "calabooses" fairly steaming in
the sun, wherein Herman Melville got some chapters of "Omoo."

Over and over again I tracked the ground of that delicious story, saying
to the bread-fruit trees that had sheltered him, "Shelter me also, and
whoever shall follow after, so long as your branches quiver in the
wind!"

O reader of "Omoo," think of "Motoo-Otoo," actually looking warlike in
these sad days, with a row of new cannons around its edge, and pyramids
of balls as big as cocoa-nuts covering its shady centre.

Walking alone in those splendid nights I used to hear a dry, ominous
coughing in the huts of the natives. I felt as though I were treading
upon the brinks of half-dug graves, and I longed to bring a respite to
the doomed race.

One windy afternoon we cut our stern hawser in a fair wind and sailed
out of the harbor; I felt a sense of relief, and moralized for five
minutes without stopping. Then I turned away from all listeners and saw
those glorious green peaks growing dim in the distance; the clouds
embraced them in their profound secrecy; like a lovely mirage Tahiti
floated upon the bosom of the sea. Between sea and sky was swallowed up
vale, garden, and waterfall; point after point crowded with palms; peak
above peak in that eternal crown of beauty; and with them the nation of
warriors and lovers falling like the leaf, but, unlike it, with no
followers in the new season.

[Decoration]


    Cambridge: Electrotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

"[Decoration]" indicates that the original book contained a decorative
headpiece (at the beginning of a chapter) or tailpiece (at the end of a
chapter).

Page 43, first sentence after "HOW I CONVERTED MY CANNIBAL", before
"chum": duplicate "my" removed; it does not occur in other editions.





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