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´╗┐Title: The Cruise of the Kawa: Wanderings in the South Seas
Author: Chappell, George S. (George Shepard), 1877-1946
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Cruise of the Kawa: Wanderings in the South Seas" ***

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[Illustration: The Author and His Island Bride]


THE CRUISE OF THE KAWA

WANDERINGS IN THE SOUTH SEAS

BY

WALTER E. TRAPROCK, F.R.S.S.E.U.


WITH SEVENTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS AND A MAP


1921



DEDICATION

TO THE GIRLS WE LEFT BEHIND--

KIPPIPUTUONA
(DAUGHTER OF PEARL AND CORAL)

LUPOBA-TILAANA
(MIST ON THE MOUNTAIN)

BABAI-ALOVA-BABAI
(ESSENCE OF ALOVA)

THIS VOLUME IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED



PUBLISHER'S NOTE

Of late the lure of the South Seas has laid its gentle spell rather
overwhelmingly upon American readers. To be unread in Polynesiana is
to be intellectually _declasse_.... In the face of this avid
appetite for tropic-scented literature, one may well imagine the
satisfaction of a publisher when offered opportunity of association
with such an expedition as that of the Kawa, an association
involving the exclusive privilege of publishing the manuscript of
Walter E. Traprock himself.

The public, we feel, is entitled to a frank word regarding the inception
of this volume. Now at last it is possible to withdraw the veil of
secrecy which has shrouded the undertaking almost until the date of
publication. _Almost_, we say, because some inklings of information
found their way into the newspapers early this summer. The leak, we
have reason to be believe, is traceable to a Marquesan valet who was
shipped at Papeete to fill the place left vacant by William Henry
Thomas, the strange facts surrounding whose desertion are recorded in
the pages which follow.

    "Filbert Islands" Found
    by South Seas Explorers

    _Special to The Evening Telegram._

    SAN FRANCISCO. Friday.--Returning
    from an extensive exploring trip in the
    South Seas, the auxiliary yacht Kawa,
    which reached this port today, reports
    the discovery of a new group of Polynesian
    Islands. The new archipelago
    has been named the Filbert Islands, because
    of the extraordinary quantity of
    nuts of that name found there, according
    to the ship's company.

    The Kawa is owned by Walter E.
    Traprock. of Derby, Conn., head of the
    expedition. Traprock leaves for Washington
    today, where he will lay before
    the National Geographic Society data
    concerning his explorations.

The telltale newspaper item, reproduced above, outlines the story
behind this volume. What is not made clear is the fact that the entire
expedition was painstakingly planned many months ago, the publishers
themselves making it financially possible by contracting with Dr.
Traprock for his literary output. Provision was also made for recording
every phase of experience and discovery. With this in view, Dr.
Traprock's literary attainments were complemented by securing as his
companions the distinguished American artist, Herman Swank, and Reginald
K. Whinney, the scientist. By this characteristic bit of foresight was
the inclusive and authoritative character of the expedition's findings
assured.

How well we recall our parting with Traprock.

"Any further instructions?" queried the intrepid explorer from the
shadow of that ingenious yardarm.

"None," I replied. "You understand perfectly. Get the goods. See South
Sea life as it actually is. Write of it without restraint. Paint it.
Photograph it. Spare nothing. Record your scientific discoveries
faithfully. Be frank, be full...."

"Trust us!" came back Traprock's cheery cry, as the sturdy little
Kawa bore them toward their great adventures.

Herein are recorded many of their experiences and discoveries,
contributions of far-reaching significance and appeal.

Uninfluenced by professional self-interest, unshaken by our genuine
admiration for its predecessors, and despite our inherent inclination
toward modest conservatism, we unhesitatingly record the conviction
that "The Cruise of the Kawa" stands preeminent in the literature
of modern exploration--a supreme, superlative epic of the South Seas.

G.P.P.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

We get under way. Polynesia's busiest corner. Our ship's company. A
patriotic celebration rudely interrupted. In the grip of the elements.
Necessary repairs. A night vigil. Land ho!

CHAPTER II

A real discovery. Polynesia analyzed. The astounding nature of the
Filberts. Their curious sound, and its reason. We make a landing. Our
first glimpse of the natives. The value of vaudeville.

CHAPTER III

Our handsome hosts. En route to the interior. Native flora and fauna.
We arrive at the capital. A lecture on Filbertine architecture. A
strange taboo. The serenade.

CHAPTER IV

A few of our native companions. Filbertine diet. Physiological
observations. We make a tour of the island. A call on the ladies.
Baahaabaa gives a feast. The embarrassments of hospitality. An alcoholic
escape.

CHAPTER V

A frank statement. We vote on the question of matrimony. A triple
wedding. An epithalmic verse. We remember the Kawa. An interview
with William Henry Thomas. Triplett's strategy. Safe within the atoll.

CHAPTER VI

Marital memories. A pillow-fight on the beach. A deep-sea devil. The
opening in the atoll. Swank paints a portrait. The _fatu-liva_ bird and
its curious gift. My adventure with the _wak-wak_. Saved!

CHAPTER VII

Excursions beyond the outer reef. Our aquatic wives. Premonitions. A
picnic on the mountain. Hearts and flowers. Whinney delivers a
geological dissertation. Babai finds a _fatu-liva_ nest. The strange
flower in my wife's hair.

CHAPTER VIII

Swank's popularity on the Island. Whinney's jealousy. An artistic duel.
Whinney's deplorable condition. An assembly of the Archipelago.
Water-sports on the reef. The Judgment.

CHAPTER IX

More premonitions. Triplett's curious behavior. A call from Baahaabaa.
We visit William Henry Thomas. His bride. The christening. A hideous
discovery. Pros and Cons. Out heart-breaking decision. A stirrup-cup
of lava-lava.

CHAPTER X

Once more the Kawa foots the sea. Triplett's observations and
our assistance. The death of the compass-plant. Lost! An orgy of
desperation. Oblivion and excess. The Kawa brings us home. Our
reception in Papeete. A celebration at the Tiare.



ILLUSTRATIONS


THE AUTHOR AND HIS ISLAND BRIDE

CAPTAIN EZRA TRIPLETT

A BEWILDERED BOTANIST

THE W.E. TRAPROCK EXPEDITION

BABAI AND HER TAA-TAA

WALTER E. TRAPROCK, F.R.S.S.E.U

GATHERING DEW-FISH ON THE OUTER REEF

HERMAN SWANK

LUPOBA-TILAANA, MIST ON THE MOUNTAIN

WATCHFUL WAITING

GOLDEN HARMONIES

WILLIAM HENRY THOMAS

THE LAGOON AT DAWN (WHINNEY'S VERSION)

THE LAGOON AT DAWN (SWANK'S VERSION)

THE NEST OF A FATU-LIVA

A FLEDGLING FATU-LIVA

BAAHAABAA MOURNING THE DEPARTURE OF HIS FRIENDS



CHAPTER I

We get under way. Polynesia's busiest corner. Our ship's company. A
patriotic celebration rudely interrupted. In the grip of the elements.
Necessary repairs. A night vigil. Land ho!


"Is she tight?" asked Captain Ezra Triplett. (We were speaking of my
yawl, the Kawa).

"As tight as a corset," was my reply.

"Good. I'll go."

In this short interview I obtained my captain for what was to prove
the most momentous voyage of my life.

The papers were signed forthwith in the parlor of Hop Long's
Pearl-of-the-Orient Cafeteria and dawn of the following day saw us
beyond the Golden Gate.

I will omit the narration of the eventful but ordinary occurrences
which enlivened the first six months of our trip and ask my reader to
transport himself with me to a corner with which he is doubtless already
familiar, namely, that formed by the intersection of the equator with
the 180th meridian.

This particular angle bears the same relation to the Southern Pacific
that the corner of Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue does to the
Atlantic Seaboard. More explorers pass a given point in a given time
at this corner than at any other on the globe. [Footnote: See L. Kluck.
_Traffic Conditions in the South Seas_, Chap. IV., pp. 83-92.]

It was precisely noon, daylight-saving time, on July 4th, 1921, when
I stood on the corner referred to and, strange to say, found it
practically deserted. To be more accurate, I stood on the deck of my
auxiliary yawl, the Kawa, and she, the Kawa, wallowed on the corner
mentioned. To all intents and purposes our ship's company was alone. We
had the comforting knowledge that on our right, as one faced the bow,
were the Gilbert and Marshall groups (including the Sandwiches), on our
left the Society, Friendly and Loyalty Archipelagoes, back of us the
Marquesas and Paumotus and, directly on our course, the Carolines and
Solomons, celebrated for their beautiful women. [Footnote: See "Song of
Solomon," King James Version.] But we were becalmed and the geographic
items mentioned were, for the time being, hull-down. Thus we were free
to proceed with the business at hand, namely, the celebration of our
national holiday.

This we had been doing for several hours, with frequent toasts,
speeches, firecrackers and an occasional rocket aimed directly at the
eye of the tropical sun. Captain Triplett, being a stickler for marine
etiquette, had conditioned that there should be no liquor consumed
except when the sun was over the yard-arm. To this end he had fitted
a yard-arm to our cross-trees with a universal joint, thus enabling
us to keep the spar directly under the sun at any hour of the day or
night. Consequently our celebration was proceeding merrily.

While in this happy and isolated condition let me say a few words of
our ship's company. Having already mentioned the Captain I will dispose
of him first. Captain Ezra Triplett was a hard-bitten mariner. In fact,
he was, I think, the hardest-bitten mariner I have ever seen. He had
been bitten, according to his own tell, man-and-boy, for fifty-two
years, by every sort of insect, rodent and crustacean in existence.
He had had smallpox and three touches of scurvy, each of these blights
leaving its autograph. He had lost one eye in the Australian bush
where, naturally, it was impossible to find it. This had been replaced
by a blue marble of the size known, technically, as an eighteen-er,
giving him an alert appearance which had first attracted me. By nature
taciturn, he was always willing to sit up all night as long as the gin
was handy, an excellent trait in a navigator. About his neck he wore
a felt bag containing ten or a dozen assorted marbles with which he
furnished his vacant socket according to his fancy, and the effect of
his frequent changes was both unusual and diverting.

[Illustration: Captain Ezra Triplett]

[Illustration Note: CAPTAIN EZRA TRIPLETT

The annals of maritime history will never be complete until the name
of Captain Ezra Triplett of New Bedford, Massachusetts, receives the
recognition which is justly its. For more than ten generations the
forebears of this hard-bitten mariner have followed the sea in its
various ramifications.

The first Triplett was one of the companions of Goswold who, in 1609,
wintered on Cuttyhunk Island in Buzzard's Bay. From then on the members
of this hardy New England family have earned positions of trust and
honor. By courage and perseverance the subject of this portrait has
worked himself up from cabin boy on the sound steamer _Puritan_ (wrecked
on Bartlett's Reef, 1898) to his present position of commander of the
Kawa.

Of his important part in connection with the historic cruise described
in these pages, the Kawa's owner, Dr. Traprock, has no hesitancy in
saying, "Frankly, without Triplett the thing never could have been
done." The accompanying photograph was taken just after the captain
had been hauled out of the surf in Papeete. It will be remarked that
he still maintains an indomitable front and holds his trusty Colt in
readiness for immediate action.]

But sail! Lord bless you, how Triplett could sail! It was wizardry,
sheer wizardry; "devil-work," the natives used to call it. Triplett,
blindfolded, could find the inlet to a hermetically sealed atoll. When
there wasn't any inlet he would wait for a seventh wave--which is
always extra large--and take her over on the crest, disregarding the
ragged coral below. The Kawa was a tight little craft, built
for rough work. She stood up nobly under the punishment her skipper
gave her.

Triplett's assistant was an individual named William Henry Thomas, a
retired Connecticut farmer who had chosen to end his days at sea. This,
it should be remarked, is the reverse of the usual order. The back-lots
of Connecticut are peopled by retired sea-captains who have gone back
to the land, which accounts in large measure for the condition of
agriculture in these communities. William Henry Thomas had appeared
as Triplett's selection. Once aboard ship his land habits stood him
in good stead in his various duties as cook, foremost-hand, butler and
valet, for it must not be supposed that the Kawa, tight though
she might be, was without a jaunty style of her own.

Our first-class cabin passengers were three, Reginald K. Whinney,
scientific man, world wanderer, data-demon and a devil when roused;
Herman Swank, bohemian, artist, and vagabond, forever in search of new
sensations, and myself, Walter E. Traprock, of Derby, Connecticut,
editor, war correspondent, and author, jack-of-all-trades, mostly
literary and none lucrative.

Our object? What, indeed, but life itself!

I had known my companions for years. We had been class-mates at New
Haven when our fathers were working our way through college. How far
away it all seemed on that torrid Fourth of July as we sat on the
Kawa's deck singing "Oralee", to which we had taught Triplett the bass.

    "Like a blackbird in the spring,
    Chanting Ora-lee...."

"Very un-sanitary," said Whinney, "a blackbird ... in the spring ...
very un-sanitary."

We laughed feebly.

Suddenly, as they do in the tropics, an extraordinary thing happened.
A simoon, a monsoon and a typhoon met, head on, at the exact corner
of the equator and the 180th meridian. We hadn't noticed one of
them,--they had given us no warning or signal of any kind. Before we
knew it they were upon us!

I have been in any one of the three separately many a time. In '95 off
the Blue Canary Islands I was caught in an octoroon, one of those
eight-sided storms, that spun our ship around like a top, and killed
all the canaries for miles about--the sea was strewn with their bodies.
But this!

"Below," bellowed Captain Triplett, and we made a dive for the hatch.
William Henry Thomas was the last in, having been in the bow setting
off a pinwheel, when the blow hit us. We dragged him in. My last memory
is of Triplett driving a nail back of the hatch-cover to keep it from
sliding.

How long we were whirled in that devil's grip of the elements I cannot
say. It may have been a day--it may have been a week. We were all
below, battened down ... tight. At times we lost consciousness--at
times we were sick--at times, both. I remember standing on Triplett's
face and peering out through a salt-glazed port-hole at a world of
waterspouts, as thick as forest trees, dancing, melting, crashing upon
us. I sank back. _This was the end_ ...

[Illustration: A Bewildered Botanist]

[Illustration Note: A BEWILDERED BOTANIST Here, against the background
of a closely woven hedge of southern hornbeam (_Carpinus Tropicalis_),
we see that eminent scientist, Reginald Whinney, in the act of
discovering, for the first time in any country, a magnificent specimen
of wild modesty (_Tiarella nuda_), which grows in great profusion
throughout the Filbert Islands. This tiny floweret is distantly related,
by marriage, to the European sensitive plant (_Plantus pudica_) but is
infinitely more sensitive and reticent. An illustration of this amazing
quality is found in the fact that its snowy blossoms blush a deep
crimson under the gaze of the human eye. At the touch of the human hand
the flowers turn inside-out and shrink to minute proportions. Dr.
Whinney attempted in vain to transplant specimens of this fragile
creation to our old-world botanical gardens but found the conditions of
modern plant life an insuperable barrier. The seeds of wild modesty
absolutely refuse to germinate in either Europe or America.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Calm. Peace and sun! The beneficence of a warm, golden finger that
reached gently through the port-hole and rested on my eye. What had
happened? Oh--yes. "Like a blackbird in the spring." Slowly I fought
my way back to consciousness. Triplett was sitting in a corner still
clutching the hammer. On the floor lay Whinney and William Henry Thomas,
their twisted legs horribly suggestive of death.

"Air," I gasped.

Triplett feebly wrenched out the nail and we managed to pull the hatch
far enough back to squeeze through. Enlivened by the fresh air the
others crawled slowly after, except poor William Henry Thomas who still
lay inert.

"He's all right," said Whinney. "The gin bottle broke and dripped into
his mouth. He'll come to presently." He added in an undertone, "The
wages of gin..." Whinney was always quoting.

Minus our factotum we stood and silently surveyed what once had been
the Kawa. The leathern features of Captain Triplett twisted into a grin.
"Bald's a badger!" he murmured.

Everything had gone by the board. Mast, jigger, bow-sprit and running
gear. Not a trace of block or tackle rested on the surrounding sea.
We were clean-shaven. Of the chart, which had hung in a frame near the
binnacle, not a line remained. All our navigating instruments, quadrant,
sextant, and hydrant, with which we had amused ourselves making foolish
observations during that morning of the glorious Fourth, our chronometer
and speedometer,--all had absolutely disappeared.

"And there we are!" said Swank.

Triplett coughed apologetically and pulled his forelock.

"If you don't mind, sir, night'll be comin' on soon and I think we'd
better make sail."

"Make sail?" I murmured blankly. "How?"

"The bedding, sir," said Triplett.

"Of course!" I cried. "All hands abaft to make sail."

How we knotted our sheets and blankets together to fashion a rough
main-sail would be a tedious recital, for it was slow work. Our combined
efforts made, I should say, about eight knots an hour but half of them
pulled out at the least provocation. We persevered, however, and finally
completed our task. Nor were we an instant too soon, for just as we
had succeeded in getting the oars to stand upright and were anxiously
watching our well-worn army blankets belly out with the steady trade
wind, the sun, which for the last hour had hung above the horizon,
suddenly fell into the sea and night was upon us.

"There's that," said Whinney quietly.

Thus we slid through the velvet night with the Double Cross hanging
low, sou'west by south.

It must have been about an hour before dawn that a shiver of expectancy
thrilled us unanimously.

"Did you hear that, sir?" said Captain Triplett in a low tone.

"No ... what was it?"

"A sea-robin ... we must be near land ... there it is again."

I heard it that time ... the faint, sweet note of the male sea-robin.

Shortly afterward we heard the mewing of a sea-puss, evidently chasing
the robin.

"Sure enough, sir," said Triplett. "It'll be land." Somehow we felt
sure of it.

In calm elation and tired expectancy we strained our eyes through the
slow crescendo of the day's birth. Suddenly, the sun leaped over the
horizon and the long crimson rays flashed forward to where, dead ahead,
we could see a faint swelling on the skyline. "Land-ho!" we cried in
voices of strangled joy.

"Boys," said Captain Triplett, apologetically ... "we ain't got no
yard-arm, but the sun's up and there's land dead ahead, and I
reckon..."

He paused. Through the hatchway came William Henry Thomas bearing a
tray with four lily cups.

"Fair as a lily..." said Whinney (I knew he would).

Two minutes later we had fallen into heavy slumber while the Kawa
steered by the faithful Triplett, moved steadily toward our unknown
haven.



CHAPTER II

A real discovery. Polynesia analyzed. The astounding nature of the
Filberts. Their curious sound, and its reason. We make a landing. Our
first glimpse of the natives. The value of vaudeville.


There is nothing better, after a hurricane, than six hours' sleep. It
was high noon when we were awakened by William Henry Thomas and the
odor of coffee, which drew us to the quarter-deck. There, for the first
time, we were able to make an accurate survey of our surroundings and
realize the magnitude and importance of what had befallen us. While
we slept Captain Triplett had warped the denuded Kawa through
a labyrinth of coral and we now lay peacefully at anchor with the
island lying close in-board.

Its appearance, to put it mildly, was astonishing. Let me remind the
reader that for the previous four months we had been prowling through
the Southern Pacific meeting everywhere with disappointment and
disillusionment. We had inspected every island in every group noted
on every map from Mercator to Rand-McNally without finding any variation
in type from, "A," the low lying coral-atoll of the well-known broken
doughnut formation, to, "B," the high-browed, mansard design popularized
by F. O'Brien. [Footnote: This is the type "E". of Melville's overrated
classification--_Ed._] In a few of the outlying suburbs of
Melanesia and the lower half of Amnesia, we had found a few designs
which showed sketchy promise of originality: coral reefs in quaint
forms had been begun, outlining a scheme of decoration in contrast
with the austere mountains and valleys. But everywhere these had been
abandoned. Either the appropriation had given out, or the polyps had
gotten to squabbling among themselves and left their work to be slowly
worn away by the erosive action of sea and shipwrecked bottoms.
[Footnote: In Micronesia it was even worse, the islands offering a
dead-level of mediocrity which I have never seen equalled except in
the workingmen's cottages of Ampere, New Jersey, the home of the General
Electric Company.] Add to the geographic sameness the universal blight
of white civilization with its picture post-cards, professional hula
and ooh-la dancers, souvenir and gift shops, automat restaurants,
movie-palaces, tourists, artists and explorers, and you have some idea
of the boredom which had settled down over the Kawa and her
inmates.

Only a few days before Whinney, usually so philosophical, had burst
out petulantly with: "To hell with these islands. Give me a good mirage,
any time." Swank and I had heartily agreed with him, and it was in
that despondent spirit that we had begun our Fourth of July celebration.

As we sat cozily on deck, sipping our coffee, it slowly dawned on us
that we had made the amazing discovery of an absolutely new type of
island!--something so evidently virgin and unvisited that we could
only gaze in awe-struck silence.

"Do you know," whispered Swank, "I think this is the first time I have
ever seen a virgin"--he choked for an instant on a crumb--"island."

We could well believe it.

The islands lay before us in echelon formation. The one in our immediate
foreground was typical of the others. Its ground-floor plan was that
of a circle of beach and palm enclosing an inner sea from the center
of which rose an elaborate mountain to a sheer height of two thousand,
perhaps ten thousand, feet. The general effect was that of a pastry
masterpiece on a gigantic scale. [Footnote: Oddly enough the scene
struck me as strangely familiar but it was not until weeks afterward
that I recalled its prototype in the memory of a decoration worn by
General Grosdenovitch, Minister very-extraordinary to America from
Montenegro just before the little mountain kingdom blew up with a faint
pop and became absorbed by Jugo-Slovakia (sic).] We could only stare
in open-mouthed amazement, thrilled with the thought that we were
actually discoverers. A gorgeous feature of our find, in addition to
its satisfactory shape, was its color. Sand and vegetation were of the
conventional hues, but where the flanks of the rock rose from the
enclosed pool we observed that they were of the pure elementary colors,
red, blue and yellow, fresh and untarnished as in the latest masterpiece
from the brush of the Master of All Painters. Here before our eyes was
an unspoiled sample of what the world must have looked like on
varnishing day.

Swank, who is ultra-modern in his tendencies, was in ecstasies over
the naive simplicity of the color scheme. "Look at that red!" he
shouted. "Look at that blue!! Look at that yaller!!!" He dove below
and I heard rattling of tubes and brushes that told me he was about
to commit landscape. This time I knew he couldn't possibly make the
colors too violent.

Fringing the exquisitely tinted coral strand were outlying reefs,
alternately concave and convex, which gave the shore edge a scalloped,
almost rococo finish, which I have heard decorators call the
Chinese-Chippendale "effect." Borne to our nostrils by an occasional
reflex of the zooming trades came, ever and anon, entrancing whiffs
of a brand new odor.

It is always embarrassing to attempt to describe a new smell, for,
such is our inexperience in the nasal field, that a new smell must
invariably be described in terms of _other_ smells, and by reason of a
curious, inherited prudery this province has been left severely alone by
English writers. I know of but one man, M. Sentant, the governor of
Battambang, Cambodia, who frankly makes a specialty of odors. [Footnote:
See _Journal des Debats_, '09, "Le nez triomphant" de Lucien Sentant.]

"J'aime les odeurs!" he said to me one day as we sat sipping a siem-bok
on the piazza, of the residency.

"Mais il y en a des mauvaises," I deprecated.

"_Meme_ les mauvaises," he insisted, "Oui, _surtout les_ mauvaises!"

But Sentant is unique. I can only say that as I sat sniffing on the
deck of the Kawa there was about us a _soupcon_ of the _je-ne-sais-quoi
tropicale_, half nostalgie, half diablerie. It was ... but what's the
use? You will have to go out there some time and smell it for yourself.

[Illustration: The W.E. Traprock Expedition]

[Illustration Note: THE W.E. TRAPROCK EXPEDITION It is doubtful if a
camera's eye ever recorded the presence of a more remarkable group
than that presented on the opposite page. Here we see the ship's company
of the yawl Kawa, assembled under the shade of the broad
panjandrus leaves which fringe the Filbert Islands. They are, reading
from left to right, William Henry Thomas, the crew; Herman Swank,
Walter E. Traprock, Reginald Whinney. At their feet lies Kippiputuona
(Daughter of Pearl and Coral). The black and white of photography can
give no idea of the magnificent tropical coloring, nor of the exquisite
sounds and odors which permeate every inch of the island paradise. At
the moment of taking this picture, which was obligingly snapped by
Captain Triplett, the entire party was listening to the thrilling cry
of the fatu-liva bird. Captain Triplett had just requested the group
to "listen to the little birdie" when the distant wood-notes were
heard, the coincidence falling in most happily with the photographer's
attempts to secure the absolute attention of his subjects.]

I have mentioned the contour, color and fragrance of our island. I now
come to the strangest feature of all. I refer to its sound. I had for
some time noticed a queer, dripping noise which I had foreborne to
mention fearing it might be inside my own head--a devilish legacy of
our recent buffeting. You can imagine my relief when Whinney asked
apologetically, "Do you fellows hear anything?"

"I do!" was my rejoinder, seconded by Swank who had come up for air.

We all listened intently.

Though the sky was cloudless, a distinct pattering sound as of a light
rain reached us.

"Nuts..." said Captain Triplett suddenly, spitting on the nose of a
fish that had made a face at him. A glance through our mercifully
preserved field-glasses corroborated the Captain's vision.

"For the love of Pete!" I gasped. "Take a squint at those trees." They
were literally crawling with nuts and tropical fruits of every
description. In the shadow of the broad panjandrus leaves we could see
whole loaves of breadfruits falling unassisted to the ground while
between the heavier thuds of cocoanuts and grapefruit we heard the
incessant patter of light showers of thousands of assorted nutlets,
singing the everlasting burden and refrain of these audible isles. It
was this predominant feature--though I anticipate our actual
decision--which ultimately settled our choice of a name for the new
archipelago,--the Filbert Islands, now famous wherever the names of
Whinney, Swank and Traprock are known.

It was now about half-past two bells and an excellent time to make a
landing, preparations for which were forthwith set in motion. Now, if
ever, we had occasion to bless the tightness of the Kawa, for
in the confusion below, somewhat ameliorated by the labors of William
Henry Thomas, we found most of our duffle in good order, an occasional
stethoscope broken or a cork loose, but nothing to amount to much. Our
rifles, side-arms, cartridges, camera and my bundles of rejected
manuscript were as dry as ever. I was thankful as I had counted on
writing on the other side of them. A tube of vermilion had run amuck
among Swank's underclothes but, in the main, we were intact.

After some delay in getting our folding-dory stretched on its frame,
due to Whinney's contention that the bow and stern sections belonged
on the same end, we finally shoved off, leaving William Henry Thomas
to answer the door in case of callers.

In the brief interval of our passage, I could not help noticing the
remarkable submarine flora over which we passed. The water, perfectly
clear to a depth of four-hundred and eighty-two feet, showed a
remarkable picture of aquatic forestry. Under our keel spread limeaceous
trees of myriad hues in whose branches perched variegated fish nibbling
the coral buds or thoughtfully scratching their backs on the roseate
bark. Pearls the size of onions rolled aimlessly on ocean's floor. But
of these later; for the nonce our tale leads landward.

As our canvas scraped the shingle we leaped out, tossing the dory
lightly beyond the reach of the waves, and fell into the agreed-upon
formation. Triplett in the van, then Whinney, Swank and myself, in the
order named. Beyond the beach was a luxuriant growth of _haro_.
[Footnote: Similar to the photographer's grass; is used in the
foreground of early Sarony full lengths. I have seen a similar form
of vegetation just off the fairway of the third hole at Garden City.]
Into this we proceeded gingerly, intrepid and alert, but ready to bolt
at the slightest alarm.

The nut noises became constantly more ominous and menacing, but still
we saw no sign of human life. Near the edge of the forest we came to
a halt. Plainly it would be unwise to venture within range of the
arboreal hailstones without protection, for though our pith-helmets
were of the best quality they were, after all, but pith, and a cocoanut
is a cocoanut, the world over. While we were debating this point and
seeking a possible way into the jungle which was not overarched by
trees I heard a low bird-call, as I supposed, the even-song of the
cross-billed cuttywink. On the instant a towering circle of dark forms
sprang from the haro and at a glance I saw that we were completely
surrounded by gigantic Filbertines!

Darting a look over my shoulder I noted to my dismay an enormous
land-crab towing our dory seaward. It was a harrowing moment. As agreed
upon, we waited for Triplett to take the initiative and in the interim
I took a hasty inventory of our reception committee. The general
impression was that of great beauty and physique entirely unadorned
except for a narrow, beaded water-line and pendent apron (_rigolo_
in the Filbertine language) consisting of a seven-year-old clam shell
decorated with brightly colored papoo-reeds. The men's faces were calm,
almost benign, and as far as I could see unarmed except for long,
sharply pointed bundles of leaves which they carried under their arms.
Their tattooing was the finest I have ever seen.

At this moment, however, my observations were concluded by Triplett's
suddenly wheeling and saying sharply, "Traprock! ... target practice!"
This was a stunt we had often performed for the amusement and
mystification of kindly cannibals in the Solomons. I had seen it in
vaudeville and taught it to Triplett. As was my custom, I had in the
pocket of my singlet a number of ship biscuit. Plucking out one of
these I placed it on my forehead and nose, holding it in place with
the index finger. Triplett leveled his Colt a good yard above my head
and fired, I on the instant pressing the biscuit so that it fell in
pieces to the ground.

The effect on the Filbertines was marvelous.

They were too simple to be afraid. Their one emotion was wonder. Then
Swank, grinning broadly, uttered the one word, "Cinch!"

To a nation which had never heard a word ending in a consonant, this
was apparently intensely humorous. They burst into loud guffaws,
supplemented with resounding slaps of their cupped hands on their
stomachs, at the same time raising an imitative cry of "Sink-ka!
Sink-ka!"

This was our welcome to the Filbert Islands, and also the beginning
of the formation of that new tongue, Filbertese or nut-talk, which in
the ensuing months was to mean so much to our small but absolutely
intrepid band.



CHAPTER III

Our handsome hosts. En route to the interior. Native flora and fauna. We
arrive at the capitol. A lecture on Filbertine architecture. A strange
taboo. The serenade.


With the first burst of laughter it seemed that all embarrassment on
the part of the natives had been dissipated. Those nearest us insisted
on patting our stomachs gently, at the same time uttering a soft,
crooning "soo-soo," [Footnote: This same sound is used by the natives
of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, when calming their horses.] which it was
obviously the proper thing to return, which we did to the delight of
the bronze warriors about us.

After a few moments of this friendly massage, the most ornamental of
the savages, whom I judged to be the chief, uttered dissyllabic command
of "Oo-a," and slapped his right thigh smartly with his left hand, a
feat more easily described than accomplished. Coincident with this
signal came a cheerful riffling sound as the Filbertines broke out
their large umbrellas of panjandrus leaves which we had first mistaken
for weapons. This implement, (known technically as a _naa-naa_ or
_taa-taa_, depending on whether it was open or closed), was in reality
notonly a useful and necessary protection against the continuous
nut-showers but also a weapon of both of- and de-fensive warfare.
[Footnote: This primitive people we soon found to be profoundly
pacifistic, a natural condition in a race who, since the dawn of time,
had known no influence other than that of the Pacific Ocean. Warfare
with its cruel attributes had never penetrated their isolation. With
nations as with people, it takes two to make a quarrel. Here was but
one.]

We stood thus, in open formation, among the luxurious haro until in
response to another signal from the chief, a resounding slap on the
left shank, they escorted us ceremoniously along a winding path which
led toward the interior of the island. It was for all the world as if
we were being taken out to dinner, a thought which suggested for an
instant the reflection that we might turn out to be not _guests_ but
_courses_ at the banquet, in which case I promised myself I should be a
_piece-de-resistance_ of the most violent character.

But these solemn thoughts were not proof against the gaiety of our
surroundings, the soft patter of the constantly dropping nuts bounding
from the protective _taa-taas_, and the squawks and screeches of
countless cuttywinks and _fatu-liva_ birds, those queens of the tropics
whose gorgeous plumage swept across our path.

For Whinney and Swank as well as myself the promenade was a memorable
one, the former feasting his cool eyes on the hundreds of new scientific
items which he was later to classify, the bulbous _oo-pa_, a sort of
vegetable cream-puff, the succulent _tuki-taki_, pale-green with red
dots, a natural cross between the banana and the cocoanut, having the
taste of neither, and the numerous crawling things, the whistling-ants
and shy, lamp-eyed lily-bugs (_anchoridae flamens_) who flashed their
signals as we passed.

Swank revelled in the rainbow colors about us, the flaming nabiscus
blossoms and the unearthly saffron of the _alova_ blooms, one inhale of
which, we were to learn, contained the kick of three old-fashioned
mint-juleps. Only Triplett's hard-boiled countenance reflected no
interest whatever in his surroundings.

It was doubtless this unintelligent dignity on our Captain's part,
coupled with what was left of his brass buttons and visor cap on which
the legend "Kawa" still glimmered faintly, which prompted the aborigines
to select him as our chief, an error which I at first thought of
correcting by some sort of dramatic tableau such as having Triplett
lie down and letting me place my foot on his Adam's apple, of which
he had a splendid specimen. On second thought, however, I decided that
it would be more modest to allow him any honors he might receive
together with the responsibilities attendant upon his position. It is
the invariable habit of South Sea Islanders, in the event of trouble,
to capture and hold as hostages the chief men of a tribe. Their heads,
with or without the original bodies, seem to have a peculiar value.

[Illustration: Babai and Her Taa-Taa]

[Illustration Note: BABAI AND HER TAA-TAA

In this picture the joyous island queen Babai-Alova-Babai is seen
carrying her taa-taa, the curious implement which serves so many
purposes in the Filbert Group. It is in turn a protection against the
sun, the rain and the constant showers of falling nuts, and also, when
occasion demands, a most effective weapon of defensive warfare. The
taa-taa is made of closely laced panjandrus leaves on a frame of the
tough eva-eva. When closed, which is seldom, it is known as a naa-naa.
In addition to its other uses it is most evidently a charming background
for a splendid example of Filbertine youth and beauty.]

Soon the trail widened, and we were called upon to hurdle several low
barriers of _papoo-reeds_, designed to confine the activities of the
countless Alice-blue wart-hogs which whined plaintively about our feet.
At a majestic gesture from the chief the _taa-taas_ were furled
(becoming _naa-naas_), and we halted in a bright clearing about sixty
feet in diameter, plainly the public square, or, to be exact, circle.

My first impression was that of complete isolation in an unbroken
forest. Peer as I would, I could discern no sign of human habitation.
We had arrived, but where? My question was soon answered. By most
gracious gestures, soft sounds and a series of fluttering finger
exercises on the abdominal walls we were led to one side of the circle
where, as our guides pointed upward, white eyes for the first time in
history rested on a Filbertine dwelling!

The houses were in the trees!

Architecture is said to express deeply the inner characteristics of
a people, a statement I am glad to corroborate. But never had it struck
me so forcibly as now. Gazing up at a dim picture of informal
construction, interlaced and blended with the trunks, boughs and foliage
of the overarching palms I saw at a glance the key-note of the life
of this simple people--_absence of labor_.

The houses,--nests, were the better word--were formed by a most naive
adaptation of natural surroundings to natural needs. The curving fronds
of the towering coco-palms and panjandrus had been interlaced; and
nature did the rest, the gigantic leaves interweaving, blending,
over-lapping, meeting in a passionate and successful desire to form
a roof, proof alike against sun and rain. Some ten feet below this and
an equal distance from the ground the tendrils of the _eva-eva_ vine had
been led from tree to tree, the subordinate fibres and palpitating
feelers quickly knitting themselves into a floor with all the hygienic
properties and tensile strength of linen-mesh.

Access to these apartments was something of a puzzle until, to instruct
us, a tall Filbert, who was evidently to be our neighbor, approached
a nearby dwelling and, seizing a pendent halyard of _eva-eva_, gently
but firmly pulled down the floor to a convenient level, vaulted into the
hammock-like depression and was immediately snapped into privacy. From
below we could see the imprint of his form rolling toward the center of
his living-room and then the depressions of his feet as he proceeded to
lurch about his dwelling.

It was now mid-afternoon; we were hot, tired, and, though we did not
know it, mildly intoxicated by the inhalations of alova which we had
absorbed during our journey. I looked forward eagerly to getting
up-stairs, so to speak, and taking a sound nap. One thing only deterred
me; I was thirsty.

[Illustration: Walter E. Traprock, F.R.S.S.E.U.]

[Illustration Note: WALTER E. TRAPROCK, F.R.S.S.E.U.

This striking likeness of Dr. Traprock, the author of the present
volume, admirably expresses the intensity, alertness and intrepidity
which have carried this remarkable personage through so many harrowing
experiences. A certain bold defiance, which is one of Dr. Traprock's
characteristics, has here been caught to the life. With just this
matchless courage we know that he must have faced death a thousand
times even though, as now, he had not a cartridge in his belt. That
Dr. Traprock knows no fear is evidenced by the fact that he has not
only explored every quarter of the globe, but that he has also written
a number of books of travel, plays, musical comedies and one cook-book.
The background of this picture shows the densely matted bush of the
Filbert Islands in their interior portion, a jungle growth which might
well baffle any but the most skillful threader of the trackless wilds.
The gun carried by Dr. Traprock is a museum-piece, having been presented
to the author's great-grandfather by Israel Putnam immediately after
the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga. Thanks to constant upkeep it is in as
good condition as ever. This is also true of Dr. Traprock.]

On the edge of the clearing I heard the tinkling of a brook. Walking
to its edge, I knelt and dipped my hot wrists in the cold stream,
wetting my hands, face and matted locks, while the natives eyed me
solemnly but with, I thought, looks of anxiety. And then a strange
thing happened. As I took off my duck's-back fishing hat, filled it
to the brim and raised it to my lips, a cry of horror burst from the
throats of those swarthy giants. The chief strode forward and dashed
the cap from my hand, at the same time thundering the word "Bapoo!"

In an instant it flashed upon me that this was Filbertese for _tapu_ or
_taboo_, that strange, sacred kibosh which is laid on certain acts,
objects or localities throughout these far-flung islands. Water it
appeared was for drinking purposes--_bapoo_. I then did what I think was
exactly the right thing under the circumstances, namely, to wring out
the offending head-covering and throw it as far from me as possible, an
act which was greeted with a hearty burst of applause.

It was not necessary for me to indicate further that I was thirsty.
Two henchmen almost immediately appeared with a large nut-shell of
unfamiliar appearance,--it was about the size of a half watermelon and
bright red on the outside,--full of a pale pink liquid. The chief,
one or two of the leading men, and the rest of my party were similarly
equipped. Raising his shell the chief and nobles said simultaneously
"Wha-e-a" and we drank.

Two minutes afterward I had a faint sensation of being borne away by
the trade wind. Swank was beside me and I heard him murmur, "I'm glad
I don't have to sleep with Triplett."

The rest was silence, and the silence was rest....

We awoke many hours later. It was moonlight and we were lying in a
complicated knot in the exact center of our domicile. Unraveling
ourselves we tested our heads with gentle oscillations.

Suddenly, in the distance, we heard a sound which sent a chill thrill
running up and down our spines, the sound of singing, a faint far-off
chorus of the loveliest voices that ever fell on mortal ears. The tone
had that marvelous silver clang of the woodland thrush with yet a
deeper, human poignancy, a note of passionate longing and endearment,
shy but assertive, wild, but oh! so alluring. We chinned ourselves
expectantly on the edge of our floor and waited, panting.

"A serenade," whispered Swank, and Whinney shush-ed him savagely.

Through the forest glades we could see the choir approaching, the dusky
flash of brown bodies swaying, palpitating to the intoxicating rhythm
of the song. Slowly and with great dignity they entered the clearing
and stood, a score of slender creatures, in the full blaze of the moon,
their lithe-limbed bodies clad only in delicate mother-of-pearl
_rigolos_.

Thus standing, they again burst into the melody of their national
love-song. I transcribe the original words which for simple, primitive
beauty are without rival.

    A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a
    E-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e

    I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i
    O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
    U-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u

and sometimes

    W-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w

And

    Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y

The music is indescribable, I can only say that it is as beautiful as
the words.[Footnote: "The peculiarly liquid quality of Polynesian
phonetics is impossible for foreigners to acquire. Europeans who attempt
a mastery of these sounds invariably suffer from what etymologists
call metabelia, or vowel complaint."--_Prof. C.H. Towne, Nyack
University_.]

On the third encore they turned and slowly but surely filed out of the
clearing into the forest. Long after they had disappeared our eyes
still hung over the edge of our apartment and we could hear in our
memories the sweet refrain--

    W-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w
    Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y

As we lay there like men in a trance I saw a dull red glow on the
horizon and then, far off a rocket split the velvet night, burst into
stars and disappeared.

It was William Henry Thomas, aboard the Kawa--a signal of
distress! Poor goof! We had completely forgotten him.

I had a vague sense, shared, I think, by the others, that I ought to
worry a bit about him. But it was no use. One by one we lowered
ourselves into the pit of our arboreal home and drifted into delicious
languorous reveries, not of William Henry Thomas. We had other things
to think about.



CHAPTER IV

A few of our native companions. Filbertine diet. Physiological
observations. We make a tour of the island. A call on the ladies.
Baahaabaa gives a feast. The embarrassments of hospitality. An alcoholic
escape.


"We really must do something about William Henry Thomas," I said on
the day following our serenade.

My companions agreed, and we really meant it. But alas, how easy it
is to put things off. Day after day slipped by and we thought less and
less of our boat-tending sailorman and more and more of what a
magnificent time we were having.

The chief's name was Baahaabaa, meaning in Filbertese "Durable Drinker."
Among his companions were several who soon became our
intimates--Hitoia-Upa (Cocoanut That Never Falls) and Abluluti (Big
Wind Constantly Blowing).

In every case reference in names was to simple, natural beauties. How
much more interesting than our own meaningless nomenclature.

We soon found that these simple folk had evolved an admirable standard
day in which there was no labor whatever, no cooking, even. Imagine
a civilization, and I use the word advisedly, in which the question
of having or not having a cook is eliminated. We were two weeks on the
island before any one of us realized that we had seen no fire. The
matches which we used to light our pipes were thought to be marvelous
flowers that blossomed and immediately disappeared.

Nature, all bountiful, supplied a menu of amazing variety. Fruits,
vegetables, combinations of the two, edible flowers and, above all,
the thousand and one kinds of nuts from which the islands receive their
name, were at hand for the plucking. Our breakfast grew on the ceiling
of our bedroom and dropped beside us with charming punctuality at the
first shiver of the rising trade.

It must not be supposed that we were strict vegetarians. Many varieties
of fish and crustacea, as well as certain insects and some of the
smaller birds were eaten raw. European and American civilizations alike
are hopelessly backward in this regard. True, we eat with avidity
oysters and clams (except in the Bapoo-period), knowing that they are
not only raw but also alive. In the Filberts it was but a slight step
forward to pop into one's mouth a wriggling _limpataa_ (a kind of marine
lizard), whose antics after he is swallowed are both pleasant and novel.
The hors d'oeuvre course of a Filbert Island banquet is one roar of
laughter caused by the interior tickling of the agile food. This of
course promotes good feeling and leads to many lasting friendships.

With one's meals thus always ready-to-serve, with no cook glowering
at the clock, no cheese souffle ready to collapse, no dishes to wash
or frying-pans to scour, life is one long gastronomic song.

In physical stature and beauty the Filbertines are far above the
average. The men are six feet in height and upwards, and proportionately
wide. By a combination of equable climatic and economic conditions
this altitude has become standardized and there is little variation
from it. A sort of rough control is exercised in this regard. When a
young male Filbertine has got his growth he is measured with a bamboo
yardstick to see if he comes up to requirements.

If not, he simply disappears. Little is said about it, but the fact
is that the physical failures are moored at low tide to a lump of coral
on one of the outer reefs. Sharks, octopi and the man-eating _Wak-waks_
do the rest. This, as I say, is a rough sort of control but effective.

[Illustration: Gathering Dew-Fish on the Outer Reef]

[Illustration Note: GATHERING DEW-FISH ON THE OUTER REEF

There is no pleasanter sight in the world than that of the stalwart
young Filbertine youths gathering dew-fish in the early dawn of a
perfect tropical day. It is only at this time that these edible little
creatures can be caught. Just as the sun's rays flash across the horizon
they rise to the surface of the water in vast numbers, turning the entire
ocean to a pulsating mirror of silver. For five minutes they lie thus,
then suddenly sink simultaneously. Their work for the day, so far as
we know it, is done. The natives fill their cheeks--which are very
elastic--with hundreds of these tiny fish which they afterwards eject
on the shore. Here we see Hitoia-Upa and Ablutiluti gathering dew-fish
for the great feast given in honor of Dr. Traprock and his companions.]

In facial character the tribe is regular and well proportioned,
presenting no traces of negroid antecedents. Noses are slender and
slightly retroussed, lips clean-cut, chins modestly assertive with
lower jaws superbly adapted to cracking cocoanuts and oysters, foreheads
low with sufficient projection at the eye-line for shade purposes. All
in all, they are entitled to an A-plus in beauty and reminded me less
of Polynesians than of a hand-picked selection of Caucasians who had
been coated with a flat-bronze radiator paint.

Beards, moustaches, imperials, goatees, side-whiskers and Galways are
unknown, a fact which was to me strange considering the luxuriance of
other vegetation until I learned that, from infancy, it is the custom
of the Filbertine mother to scour her offspring's face with powdered
coral which discourages the facial follicles. These eventually give
up and, turning inward and upward, result in a veritable crown of glory
on the top of the head, the place, after all, where the hair ought to
grow. Their teeth, as with most gramnivora, are sound, regular,
brilliantly white and exceptionally large, the average size being that
of the double-blank domino.

So much for the men, and far too much, if you ask me, when you think
that we still have the adorable women to speak of.

Ever since our first nocturnal glimpse of the charming creatures you
can imagine that my companions and I were most eager to see more of
them. During the entire next day not one of "les belles sauvages" was
visible. It was next to impossible to make inquiries, but Swank, the
irrepressible, resolved to try and plied Baahaabaa with questions in
French, English, German and beche-de-mer, which only resulted in loud
laughter on the part of our host. Swank next tried pantomime, using
the French gesture for beauty, a circular motion of the hands about
his face accompanied by sickening smiles. Baahaabaa watched him
intently, slapped his hip sharply, uttering a melodious command and
shortly afterward Hitoia-Upa presented Swank with a beautifully made
wreath of elecampane blossoms (_inula helenion_) exactly matching his
beard. This was all very well but got us nowhere.

On the day following, however, our difficulties were unexpectedly
solved. Abluluti and a companion of his, Moolitonu
(Bull-lost-in-a-Thunder-Storm), indicated by certain large gestures
that if we liked they would be glad to make a tour of the island, a
proposition we gladly accepted. Moolitonu was our official map. On his
broad back in the most exquisite azure tattooing was a diagram of the
island showing all main-routes, good and bad trails and points of
interest. Moolitonu was, in fact, a human Blue-book.

Equipped with individual _taa-taas_ and quart cocoanut shells of
_hoopa_, a delicious twenty-seven per cent. milk, we set out along
a well-traveled trail, stopping ever and anon to enjoy the tranquil
beauty of the outer sea or the more spectacular glimpses of the inner
lagoon dominated by the mountain. We had made the circuit of
approximately three-fourths of the island, when suddenly, without a
word of warning, we stumbled into the _Hativa-faui_, or ladies'
dressing-room. Instantly we were surrounded by a bevy of captivating
beauties. Our guides had evidently counted on our surprise for they
laughed uproariously, their mirth being joyously echoed by the graceful
women who crowded about us, patting, petting and bidding us unmistakable
welcome to their compound. I have never seen a more charming sylvan
retreat.

[Illustration: Herman Swank]

[Illustration Note: HERMAN SWANK

Since the exhibition of Herman Swank's South Sea Studies in the Graham
Galleries, New York City, it is hardly necessary to introduce by name
the illustrious artist who has justly earned the title of "Premier
Painter of Polynesia." A whole school of painters have attempted to
reproduce the exotic color and charm of these entrancing isles. It
remained for Herman Swank, by his now famous method of diagrammatic
symbolism, to bring the truth fully home. This he accomplished by
living, to the limit, the native life of the Filbertese. Clad only in
the light lamitu, or afternoon wrap of the islands, it was the artist's
custom to spend entire days inhaling the perfume of the fragment alova
flower, a practice which undoubtedly accounts for the far-away, dreamy
expression so evident in the photograph. He is also wearing the paloota,
or wedding crown, the gift of his lovely island bride.]

Let me briefly outline the Filbertine domestic arrangements as they
were gradually unfolded to us. To begin with, make no mistake, marriage
in the Filbert Islands is a distinct success. This is accomplished by
the almost complete separation of the husband from his wives. During
the day these joyous maids and matrons lead their own lives in their
own community, rehearsing their songs, weaving chaplets of flowers,
stringing pearls for their simple costumes, playing games and exchanging
the badinage and gossip which are the life-breath of womanhood the
world over. They are inordinately proud of their hair, as well they
may be, and spend hours at a time dressing and undressing it.

The men, on their side, are equally free. The result is that a meeting
with their wives is an event. Happiness, love and the elation of
celebration are the harmonious notes of this beautiful domestic
diapason.

Feast-days, banquets, picnics, swimming parties--the Filbertines adore
salt water, which is not potable but thirst-producing--these are the
occasions of a frank and joyous mingling of the sexes.

Before we left the clearing we were treated to a most graceful
spectacle, a performance of the _Ataboi_, a dance descriptive of the
growth and blossoming of the _alova_ flower. This was performed by seven
beautiful girls to an accompaniment of song and clapping. The plaintive
love-motif was unmistakably introduced by a deep-chested dame who played
on the _bazoola_, a primitive instrument fashioned from the stalk of the
figwort (_Scrophulariaceae_). It may interest music lovers to know that
the Filbertines employ the diatetic scale exclusively, four notes in the
ascent and five on the recoil.

At the close of the performance we were shown the nursery compound,
an enclosure teeming with beautiful children, screened by hedges where
the little ones could be heard but not seen.

Two days subsequent to our amble we were invited to a grand banquet
which led to disturbing problems and momentous decision on our part.
This feast was our formal welcome; the keys of the islands, so to
speak, were presented to us. There were ladies present--and everything.

It was served in a special clearing lighted by the moon and countless
_anchoridae_ tied by their legs in festoons, a procedure which causes
them to open and shut their lambent eyes very rapidly, and gave a quaint
cinema effect to the scene. After counting the courses up to
twenty-seven I lost as each was accompanied by a new brand of island
potion. Fortunately we were seated on the ground.

Triplett was in his glory. If I have failed to mention recently our
hard-bitten old navigator it is only because we had seen comparatively
little of him. Resting on his titular dignity as chief he seldom
appeared in public, spending most of his time up his tree snoozing or
reading an old copy of the New Bedford "Argus," which he was never
without. Tonight, however, he blazed forth in full regalia, wearing
his best blue marble, his visor-cap wreathed with nabiscus blossoms,
his case-hardened countenance lighted with conviviality. Following an
interminable period of eating and drinking came a long speech by
Baahaabaa which, like most after-dinner speeches, meant nothing to me.
Captain Triplett replied. The gist of Triplett's remarks, memorized
from the "Argus," were taken from the 1916 report of the New Bedford
Board of Trade. When he proclaimed that "besides cotton goods, 100,000
pianos were turned out yearly and 8,500 derby hats every day," his
audience, set off by Whinney, burst into uproarious applause. The
climax was reached when he lowered his voice dramatically and said,
"And keep always in mind, O Baahaabaa and friends, that the New England
Fur Company uses daily 35,000 rabbit pelts! Gentlemen, I thank you."

Pandemonium broke loose. Triplett was showered with congratulations.
Music and dancing followed, among others an amazing performance by a
sturdy youth, Zambao-Zambino (Young-Man-Proud-of-His-Waist-Line) who
rendered a solo by striking his distended anatomy with his clenched
fist, varying the tone by relaxing or tightening the abdominal muscles.
Whinney sang a very dreary arrangement of "Mandalay"--his one parlor
trick; Swank did an imitation of Elsie Janis's imitation of Ethel
Barrymore and I sang "The Wreck of the Julie Plante," an amusing ballad
describing the loss by drowning of an entire ship's company.

But the climax was yet to come.

There was a vague sort of commotion among the banqueters and Baahaabaa
rose with amazing steadiness and made another speech, short this time,
but aimed point-blank at us, after which, through the center of a sort
of kick-off formation I saw approaching four of the most exquisite
women in the world. When ten feet away they fell on all fours and,
using the Australian crawl-stroke, crept slowly toward us, exhaling
sounds of passionate endearment mingled with the heart-stopping
fragrance of _alova_. Beyond the glimmering lights, an unseen choir
burst into the "a-a-a" of the national love-song.

It was a critical not to say embarrassing moment. These lovely ladies
were very evidently presents, banquet-favors so to speak, which we
were expected to take home with us. To refuse them meant certain
offense, perhaps death. Triplett was plainly non-plussed. Swank and
Whinney were too far gone to be of any assistance. Summoning all my
reserve strength I rose and faced the whirling assembly.

"Gentlemen," I said solemnly, "one final toast, to the President of
the United States,"--at the same time draining a huge shell of _hoopa_.
My companions followed suit and we fell simultaneously.

For the next twenty-four hours we were safe. After that, who knew?



CHAPTER V

A frank statement. We vote on the question of matrimony. A triple
wedding. An epithalmic verse. We remember the "Kawa." An interview
with William Henry Thomas. Triplett's strategy. Safe within the atoll.


In most volumes on the South Seas the chapter which I am about to write
would be omitted. I mean to say that we have reached a point in my
narrative in which the status of our relations with the Filbertine
women, as such, must either be discussed frankly and openly, or treated
in the usual tongue-in-cheek fashion which seems to be the proper thing
with English and American writers.

I have looked them all over carefully (the writers, I mean), and find
them divided into two categories, those who take their wives along as
a guarantee of virtue, or those who are by nature Galahads, Parsifals
and St. Anthonys. This latter group is to me particularly trying. They
revel in descriptions of desirous damsels with burning eyes who crave
companionship, but when an artfully devised encounter throws one of
these passionate persons across the path of the man behind the pen,
does he falter or swerve or make a misstep? Never. Right there is where
the blood of the Galahads tells. Supremely he rises above temptation!
Gracefully he sidesteps! Innocently he falls asleep!

I don't believe a word of it. I think it's just a case of literary men
sticking together.

Two days after the Grand Banquet described in the last chapter, Whinney,
Swank and I awoke with a sigh of simultaneous satisfaction, completely
rested and restored. Ten minutes later we were engaged in a brisk
debate in which the question before the house was, stated boldly,
Should we or should we not "go native?" In other words, should we hold
ourselves aloof, live contrary to the customs of the country and
mortally offend our hosts,--to say nothing of our hostesses,--or
should we fulfil our destinies, take unto ourselves island brides and
eat our equatorial fruit, core and all?

For the purpose of discussion Whinney was designated to uphold the
negative, and for an hour we argued the matter pro and con. Whinney
advanced a number of arguments, the difference in our nationalities,
our standing in our home communities (which I thought an especially
weak point), our lack of a common language, and several other trivial
objections, all of which Swank and I demolished until Whinney got
peevish and insisted that he and I change sides.

I spoke very seriously of the lack of precedent for the step which we
were considering and of what my people in Derby, Conn., would say when
they learned that a Traprock had married a Filbert. Swank replied with
some heat that he didn't believe that anything could be said in Derby
that hadn't been said already and Whinney was much more eloquent on
the affirmative than he had been on the negative. Finally when I thought
we had talked enough I said--

"Well, gentlemen, are you ready for a ballot?"

"We are," said Swank and Whinney.

"Remember," I warned, "The green nuts are for the affirmative,--the
black ones for the negative. Secret ballots, of course."

Wrapping our votes in _metani_ leaves we dropped them in the ballot
shell. Whinney was teller. It was an anxious moment until he looked up
and said with a hysterical quiver in his voice:

"Unanimously green."

"Let's go!" shouted Swank, but I stopped him.

"Hold on," I said. "Triplett is in on this. We agreed that it must be
unanimous."

My companions' faces lengthened like barrel-staves.

"Damn," muttered Whinney. "I hadn't thought of him."

You can imagine our disgust when we interviewed the Captain.

"Not on your life!" he said decidedly. "Why, boys, I got two a 'em
a-ready, one in Noo Bedford--she's my lawful,--and one--a sort of
'erdeependence, in Sausalito. But boys, I don't go for to commit
trigonometry, no sir!"

Thunder rested on our brows but the Captain continued,--

"But you--you boys, you ain't married, leastways if you are I don't
know about it, and if you ain't"--he looked at us severely,--"if you
ain't, it's high time you was. And what's more, if you want to be, I
kin do it for you." "What do you mean?" we gasped.

"Justice of the peace," he said proudly, "dooly signed and registered
in Dartmouth County, Mass."

We were overwhelmed. This was more than we dared hope for,--more than
we had even dreamed of!

"Now, boys," said the Captain in a fatherly tone, "lemme tell you
something. While I've been a-roostin' up here in my perch, I've been
a-watchin' you boys; a-watchin' an' a-worryin'. What have you been
a-doin'? You've been a-raisin' hell, you have. Son, you ain't a rote
a word, have yer? An' you, Whinney--boy, you ain't ketched a bug nor
a beetle, have yer? And you, ole Swanko-panko, you ain't drawed a line,
have yer?"

We hung our heads like schoolboys before the master. Of course if
Triplett put it that way, on moral grounds, so to speak, there was no
more to be said.

"Well, what's the answer?" he continued. "It's time you got married
an' settled down, ain't it? When is it to be?"

       *       *       *

It was a triple wedding, the first and probably the last in the Filbert
Islands, and one of the most charming affairs I have ever seen. We
left the selection of our brides to Baahaabaa and, believe me, he
showed himself a master-picker. The ceremony took place on the beach
at high midnight, the fashionable island hour.

How happy we all were! Triplett's qualifications had completely cleared
the atmosphere of any moral misgivings which might have clouded the
beauty of the gorgeous tropical night. The Captain read a service of
his own composition full of legal whereases and aforesaids and
containing one reference to the laws of the Commonwealth of the State
of Massachusetts which struck me as rather far-fetched but which under
the circumstances I decided to let pass.

Mrs. Traprock, of whom I can even now write only with deep emotion,
was an exquisite creature, constructed in accordance with the best
South Sea specifications in every particular. Swank and Whinney were
equally fortunate. We would not have traded wives for ten tons of copra
though Moolitonu, who was my best man, explained that this was perfectly
possible in case we were not satisfied.

The gayest of wedding breakfasts followed at which all the ushers
behaved in the orthodox manner after which we were conducted to our
individual trees with appropriate processional and epithalamic chorals.
The ladies' singing society had composed for the occasion a special
ode which ran as follows:

    Hooio-hoaio uku kai unio,
    Kipiputuonaa aaa titi huti,
    O tefi tapu, O eio hoki
    Hoio-hooio ona haasi tui.

This was set to a slow five-eighths rhythm. A crude translation of the
words, lacking entirely the onomatopoetic quality of the original goes
something like this:

    Stay, O stay, Moon in your ascending!
    Daughter of Pearl and Coral to the Moon up-goes,
    Stay, O stay, Moon with light unending,
    Coral, Pearl and Moonlight, guard them from falling cocoanuts.

I should stand convicted of ingratitude if I did not here and now pay
tribute to the sound common-sense of Captain Triplett at whose
instigation we had embarked upon this our great adventure. As Triplett
had predicted, ere a few days had passed we found awakening within us
the fires of ambition which had sunk lower and lower in our breasts
during our two weeks of carousing. We were now responsible married
men. We wanted to do something to take our places in the community.

I began to scribble furtively on the back of an old manuscript--the
book of an operetta I had once written, a musical version of _Les
Miserables_ called "Jumping Jean," in reference to which one of the
New York producers, Dillingham, I think, wrote me: "You have out-Hugo-ed
Hugo; this is more miserable than _Les Miserables_ itself!" I noticed
also that Swank began to use his atelier jargon of "tonal values" and
"integrity of line," while Whinney showed up one morning in the village
circle with a splendid blossom of the bladder-campion (_Silene
latifolia_) pinned to the center of his helmet.

It was doubtless this renaissance of mental activity that reminded us
of the Kawa and of William Henry Thomas. Great heavens, what
would he think of us? Here nearly a month had elapsed, we were mostly
married and had never given him a thought. We were filled with
compunction. On top of this Triplett came to us with the announcement
that Baahaabaa had informed him that we might expect a big wind about
this time. Remembering what we had been through the Captain was worried
about our tight little craft.

"He allows," said Triplett, jerking his thumb at the chief, "that we
orter git the Tree-with-Wings in out'er the wet. The question is,
where be she?"

I explained our anxieties to Ablutiluti who, after a glance at
Moolitonu's diagrammatic shoulder blades, immediately set out along
a winding path to the shore. I was surprised at the shortness of the
distance. A half-hour's walk brought us to the beach and there lay the
Kawa as handy as you please. She had been considerably tidied
up since our departure. Our blanket-sail had been stowed and between
the dingey-oars, which were rigged fore-and-aft, stretched a rope of
_eva-eva_ from which, to our surprise, hung an undershirt and a dainty
feminine _rigolo_. But no sign of William Henry Thomas. In vain we
shouted, "Kawa ahoy!" and hurled lumps of coral. All was mysteriously
quiet.

Triplett finally pulled out his Colt and, being a dead shot, drilled
the undershirt through the second button. This had the desired effect.
Our crew almost immediately appeared on deck and shouted peevishly,
"Hey there, quit it."

I will not repeat what we said in reply as this is a book for the home,
but it had a surprising result.

"Is _that_ so?" yelled William Henry Thomas and proceeded to step
jauntily over the rail and _walk_ in our direction. I knew he couldn't
swim a stroke and yet here he was, performing an apparent miracle right
in our faces. Then it suddenly dawned on me--he was walking on the coral
branches!

It was not a particularly pleasant interview.

[Illustration: Lupoba-Tilaana, Mist on the Mountain]

[Illustration Note: LUPOBA-TILAANA. MIST ON THE MOUNTAIN

Readers of the text may have noticed that animal life plays a very
unimportant part in the life of the Filbertines. Exception must be
made in the case of a magnificent ooka-snake, the only one on the
islands, which was the proudest possession of lovely Lupoba, who later
became the wife of Herman Swank. The ooka-snake lives entirely upon
cocoanut milk which gives him a gentle disposition admirably adapted
for petting. Mr. Swank has confessed that his wife's fondness for the
creature stirred in him a very real jealousy which, in view of the
charming testimony of her portrait, we can well understand. A painting
of Mrs. Swank by her husband has recently been purchased by the Corcoran
Art Gallery of Washington, D.C.]

After apologizing for our absence, which we attributed to illness, we
broke the news as gently as possible that we were married.

"Well," said William Henry Thomas, "so be I ... the lady's on board."

"You old land-crab!" blazed Whinney. "Who married you?"

"She did," he replied.

"But who performed the ceremony?" asked Swank.

"Me," answered William Henry.

In vain we tried to explain the necessity of proper rites. His only
rejoinder was, "You're too late."

But what made our sailor-man maddest was the information that the yawl
had to be moved.

"Here I be as snug as a bug in a rug," he stormed, "an' you go
gallivantin' round marrying an' what all, an' now you show up an boost
me out. Its e-viction, that's what it is, e-viction."

This was a long speech for William Henry Thomas; fortunately it was
his last. While he was delivering it I heard a slight splash and turned
just in time to see a seal-like form slip over the Kawa's counter and
disappear. I watched in vain for her reappearance. Doubtless like all
Filbertines she could stay under water for hours at a time. After that
Thomas sullenly did Triplett's bidding and half-heartedly assisted in
the work of getting the Kawa into the atoll.

It was an arduous task. For four days we labored, working our vessel
close in shore opposite a clearing in the forest, where the outer
island was not more than quarter of a mile wide and free from trees.
Instructed by Triplett, we paved the highway to the lagoon with
cocoanuts. Our wives and friends thinking it was a game, assisted us.
If they had known it was work they would, of course, have knocked off
immediately. And then the promised storm broke and I saw Triplett's
plan.

It was such a storm as this, undoubtedly, that had struck us on July
4th. This time, crouched in the shelter of the near-by trees, clinging
to the matted _haro_, we were free to watch a stupendous spectacle.
Triplett alone went aboard and lashed himself to the improvised steering
post. Our sail had been stretched and rigged with hundreds of yards
of _eva-eva_, in addition to which four large _taa-taas_ were lashed
along the scuppers.

In less time than it takes to tell, the wind had risen to
super-hurricane force. Suddenly Baa-haabaa let out a yell of warning
and pointed seaward. Rushing toward us at lightning speed was a wall
of white water, sixty feet high! In a trice we were all in the treetops,
my wife hauling me after her with praiseworthy devotion. All, did I
say? All but Triplett. He was sublime. Then for the first time I knew
that he was, in truth, our chief. Waving his free arm at the advancing
maelstrom, he yelled defiance. Then this towering seawall hit him
square in the stern.

I caught one fleeting glimpse of the Kawa gallantly riding the
foam. An instant later she was flung with a tremendous crash far down
the leafy lane. Fully half the distance she must have gone in that
first onslaught. The last eighth-of-a-mile she ground her way through
a torrent of sea and cocoanuts. The forest rang with the bellowing
wind, the snapping coral branches and the screams of the whistling-trout
fighting vainly against the current. What a plan was Triplett's! The
cocoanuts, being movable, rolled with the flood and actually acted as
ball bearings. Without them our craft must certainly have burst asunder.

The storm passed as quickly as it had come and by the time we had
clambered to the ground and rushed across the atoll there lay our tight
little darling, peacefully at anchor in the still waters of the lagoon,
with Triplett on her quarter-deck immersed in the New Bedford "Argus."



CHAPTER VI

Marital memories. A pillow-fight on the beach. A deep-sea devil.
The opening in the atoll. Swank paints a portrait. The fatu-liva bird
and its curious gift. My adventure with the wak-wak. Saved!


I shall never forget a day when my bride and I sat on the edge of the
lagoon after our matinal dip in its pellucid waters. It was a perfect
September morn. So was she.

"My dear," I said suddenly, "Hatiaa Kappa eppe taue."

It sounds like a college fraternity but really means, "My woodlark,
what is your name?"

I had been married over a week and I did not know my wife's name.

"Kippiputuonaa," she murmured musically.

"Taro ititi aa moieha ephaa lihaha?" I questioned, which, freely
translated, is "What?"

"Kippiputuonaa."

Then, throwing back her head with its superb aureole of hair she softly
crooned the words and music of the choral which the community chorus
had sung on our wedding night.

    Hooio-hooio uku hai unio
    Kippiputunonaa aaa titi huti
    O tefi tapu, O eio hoki
    Hooio-hooio, one naani-tui

How it all came back to me! Leaning towards her, I gently pressed the
lobe of her ear with my chin, the native method of expressing deep
affection. Her dusky cheeks flushed and with infinite shyness she
lifted her left foot and placed it on my knee. Tattooed the length of
the roseleaf sole in the graceful ideographic lettering of the islands
I read--

"Kippiputuonaa," (Daughter of Pearl and Coral).

"What an exquisite name!" I murmured, "and so unusual!"

I was awed. I felt as if this superb creature, my mate, had revealed
to me the last, the most hidden of her secrets. I had heard of Mother
of Pearl,--but of the Daughter--never...and I was married to her!

"And you," she whispered, "are Naani-Tui, Face-of-the-Moon!"

I liked that. Frankly I was a bit set up about it. It sounded so much
better than Moon-face. I thrust out my left foot, bare of any
inscription, and she tickled it playfully with a blade of _haro_.
Radiant Kippiputuonaa--whom I soon called "Kippy" for short--your name
shall ever remain a blessed memory, the deepest and dearest wound in
my heart.

Kippy proposed that I should be marked for identification in the usual
manner, but I shuddered at the thought. I was far too ticklish; I
should have died under the needle!

What days of joyous romping we had! One morning a little crowd of us,
just the Swanks, Whinneys and ourselves, met on the beach for a
pillow-fight. It was a rare sport, and, as the pillows were
eighteen-inch logs of _rapiti-wood_, not without its element of danger.
A half-hour of this and we lay bruised and panting on the beach
listening to the hoarse bellowing of the _wak-waks_.

The _wak-wak_ is without exception the most outrageous creature that
ploughs the deep in fishy guise. For man-eating qualities he had the
shark skinned a nautical mile.

Whinney made a true remark to me one night,--one of the few he ever
made. The ocean was particularly audible that evening.

[Illustration: Watchful Waiting]

[Illustration Note: WATCHFUL WAITING

There was something about the unfamiliar appearance of Dr. Traprock's
yawl, the Kawa, which filled the beautiful native women with a wonder
not unmixed with apprehension. This was particularly true of the lovely
creatures who married the three intrepid explorers. The strange object
which had brought to the islands these wonderful white men might some
day carry them away again! In view of the tragic subsequent events there
is something infinitely pathetic in this charming beach-study where
Kippiputuonaa is seen anxiously watching "the tree-with-wings" (as she
naively called the yawl), where her husband, Dr. Traprock, is at work
rigging a new yard-arm. The Kawa, unfortunately, is just out of the
picture.]

"Listen to that surf," I remarked. "I never heard it grumble like that
before."

"You'd grumble, if you were full of _wak-waks_," he said.

The _wak-wak_ has a mouth like a subway entrance and I was told that so
great was his appetite for human flesh that when, as occasionally
happened, some unfortunate swimmer had been eaten by a shark, a
_wak-wak_ was sure to come rushing up and bolt shark, man and all.
Consequently I did most of my swimming in the lagoon.

Speaking of the lagoon reminds me of an absurd bit of information I
picked up from Kippy that made me feel as flat as a pressed fern. We
were wandering along the shore one morning and she suddenly pointed
to the Kawa and said laughingly.

"Why Tippi-litti (Triplett) bring Tree-with-Wings over _Hoopoi_
(cocoanuts)?"

"Why not swim?" she asked. "Look see. Big hole."

I looked and saw. A whole section of the atoll near where we were
standing was movable! Kippy jumped up and down on it and it rocked
like a raft. At the edges I saw that it was lashed to the near-by trees
with vines! Cheap? You could have bought me for a bad clam. As I thought
of the days we had sweated over those damned cocoanuts, of Triplett's
peril, of the danger to the yawl, while our very families looked on
and laughed, thinking it was a game, and we might have slipped out the
movable lock-gate and simply eased through--well, for the first time
in my married life I was mad. Kippy was all tenderness in an instant.

"Face-of-Moon, no rain," she begged, "Daughter of Pearl and Coral eat
clouds."

She chinned my ear passionately, and I was disarmed in an instant.

I hated to tell Triplett--it seemed to dim his glory, but I needn't
have worried.

"Good business," he exclaimed. "We can get her out inter the open an'
have some sailin' parties. I'd like to catch one of them _wak-waks_."

That was the sort Triplett was. He'd done his trick and there was an
end of it. The next day he had William Henry Thomas busy re-rigging
the Kawa. William Henry Thomas, by the way, insisted on living
on board in happy but unholy wedlock, and Whinney, Swank and I felt
that it was better so. Somehow we considered him the village scandal.

During these peaceful days I wrote a great deal, posting up my diary
as far as we had gone and jotting down a lot of valuable material.
Swank had got his impediments off the boat and began daubing furiously,
landscapes, seascapes, monotypes, ideographs, everything. Most of them
were hideously funny, but he did one thing,--inspired by love, I
suppose--a portrait of his wife that was a hummer. She was a lovely
little thing with a lovely name, Lupoba-Tilaana, "Mist-on-the-Mountain."

"Swank," I said, "that's a ten-strike. The mountain is a little out
of focus but the mist is immense!"

He squirted me with yellow ochre.

Whinney was in his element. Ornithology, botany, ethulology, he took
them all on single-handed.

"Listen to that," he said to me one night as we were strolling back
from a friendly game of _Kahooti_ with Baahaabaa and some of our
friends.

I listened. It was the most unearthly and at the same time the most
beautiful bird-song I have ever heard.

"What is it?" I asked, as the cry resounded again, a piercing screech
of pain ending in a long yowl of joy.

"It is the motherhood cry of the _fatu-liva_," he said. "She has just
laid an egg."

"But why the note of suffering?" I queried.

"The eggs of the _fatu-liva_ are square," said Whinney, and I was
silenced.

Motherhood is indeed the great mystery. Little did I realize that night
how much I was to owe to the _fatu-liva_ and her strange maternal gift
which saved my life in one of the weirdest adventures that has ever
befallen mortal man.

It was a placid day on the sea and Kippy and I were returning from a
ten-mile swim to a neighboring island whither I had been taken to be
shown off to some relatives.

"_Wak-wak,_" I had said when she first proposed the expedition, but she
had laughed gaily and nodded her head to indicate that there was not the
slightest danger, and, shamed into it, we had set forth and made an
excellent crossing.

On the return trip, midway between the two islands, I was floating
lazily, supported by a girdle of inflated dew-fish bladders and towed
by Kippy. She had propped over my head her verdant _taa-taa_
without which the natives never swim for fear of the tropical sun, and
I think I must have dozed off for I was suddenly roused by a hoarse
Klaxon-bellow "Kaaraschaa-gha!" which told me all too plainly that I
was in the most hideous peril.

_"Wak-wak!"_ I barked, and all my past life began to unfold before me.

It was a horrid sight--the _wak-wak,_ I mean. He was swimming on the
surface, and at ten feet I saw his great jaws open, lined with row
upon row of teeth that stretched back into his interior as far as the
eye could reach and farther. Mixed up with this dreadful reality were
visions of my past. I seemed to be peering into one of those vast,
empty auditoriums that had greeted my opera, "Jumping Jean," when it
was finally produced, privately.

"Help! Help!" I screamed, reverting to English.

Suddenly Kippy seized the _taa-taa_ from my nerveless grasp. Half
closing it, she swam directly toward the monster into whose widening
throat she thrust the sharp-pointed instrument, in, in, until I thought
she herself would follow it. And then, as she had intended, the point
pierced the _wak-wak's_ tonsil.

With a shriek of pain his jaws began to close and, on the instant,
Kippy yanked the handle with all her might, opening the _taa-taa_ to its
full extent in the beast's very narrows.

Choked though he was, unable for the moment to bite or expel the outer
air and submerge, the brute was still dangerous. Kippy was towing me
shoreward at a speed which caused the sea to foam about my bladders but
the _wak-wak_ still pursued us. A second time my dauntless mate
rose to the occasion.

With amazing buoyancy she lifted herself to a half-seated position on
the surface of the water and poured forth the most astounding imitation
of the motherhood cry of the _fatu-liva_.

"Biloo-ow-ow-ow-ow-zing-aaa!"

Again, and yet again, it rang across the waters, and in the distance,
flying at incredible speed, I saw the rainbow host of _fatu-livas_
coming towards us!

Gallant fowl! Shall I ever forget how they circled about us. One of
their clan, as they supposed, was in dire danger and they functioned
as only a _fatu-liva_ can. Flying at an immense height, in battle
formation, they began laying eggs with marvelous precision. The first
two struck the _wak-wak_ square on the nose and he screamed with
pain. The third, landing corner-wise, put out his right eye and he
began to thrash in helpless circles. The fourth was a direct hit on
my left temple. "Face-of-the-Moon" passed over the horizon into oblivion
whence he emerged to find himself in a tree, his brow eased with an
_alova-leaf_ poultice, his heart comforted by Daughter of Pearl and
Coral.



CHAPTER VII

Excursions beyond the outer reef. Our aquatic wives. Premonitions.
A picnic on the mountain. Hearts and flowers. Whinney delivers a
geological dissertation. Babai finds a fatu-liva nest. The strange
flower in my wife's hair.


As I look back on the months which followed I can truthfully say that
they were the happiest of my existence. The semi-detachment of our
island domesticity was a charm against tedium; our family reunions
were joys.

Often we organized picnics to distant points. With hold-alls of
_panjandrus_ leaves packed with a supply of breadfruit sandwiches,
sun-baked cuttywink eggs and a gallon or two of _hoopa,_ we would
go to one of the lovely retreats with which our wives were familiar.

Occasionally we sailed in the Kawa, at which times the intrepid
Triplett accompanied us. Remembering those happy times I now realize
that his presence cast the only shadow across the bright sunlight of
our days. Why this was I could not have said,--indeed I should have
probably denied that it was so, yet the fact remains that on some of
our excursions to neighboring islands, when, having pulled back the
terrestrial cork of the atoll, we had eased our tight little craft
into the outer waters, I experienced a distinct dorsal chill.

Both Kippiputuonaa and Lupoba-Tilaana felt this to a marked degree,
but most of all was it apparent in its affect on Mrs. Whinney whose
maiden name, Babai-Alova-babai (Triple extract of Alova), only faintly
describes the intoxicating fragrance of her beauty.

"Tiplette, naue aata b'nau boti!" she used to cry. "Do not let Triplett
go in the boat."

The old man was insistent. He had worked William Henry Thomas to
exhaustion rerigging the craft and then thrust him out, bag and baggage.
But I must admit that between them they had done a good job. William
Henry and his bride took up lodgings in a tall tree near the lagoon
whence they used mournfully to regard the floating home in which they
had spent their unhallowed honeymoon. When we actually began to sail
her the William Henry Thomases disappeared from view as if the sight
were too much for them, and we seldom saw them thereafter.

Triplett's ingenuity was responsible for the bamboo mast, woven
_paa-paa_ sail and the new yard-arm, which, in the absence of a
universal joint was cleverly fashioned of braided _eva-eva_.

On our cruises our wives spent a large part of their time overboard,
sporting about the ship like porpoises, ever and anon diving deep under
our counter only to appear on the other side decked with polyp buds
as if crowned by Neptune himself. At this game Babai-Alova-Babai
excelled. Never shall I forget the day she suddenly popped up close
alongside and playfully tossed a magnificent pearl into Triplett's lap.

But, as I say, I did not feel at ease. Perhaps it was my experience
with the _wak-waks_,--perhaps,--however, I anticipate.

Our merriest jaunts were nearer home. Most memorable of all was our
first trip to the mountain, that gorgeous pile on the center of the
lagoon.

It was early morning when we set out, disdaining our trim
"Tree-with-Wings" from the deck of which Triplett watched our short
three-mile swim across the still water. At every stroke flocks of
iridescent dew-fish rose about us uttering their brittle note,
"Klicketty-inkle! Klicketty-inkle!" [Footnote: One of the pleasantest
sights imaginable is that of the natives gathering these little
creatures as they rise to the surface at dawn. The dew-fish or
_kali-loa_ are similar to our white-bait, but much whiter. W.E.T.]

[Illustration: Golden Harmonies]

[Illustration Note: GOLDEN HARMONIES

This was the sort of thing that greeted the intrepid explorers of the
Kawa when they made their first tour of the island and were
entertained by the entrancing inhabitants of the women's compound. The
two performers are respectively Lupoba-Tilaana and Baibai-Alova-Baibai.
It was only after much persuasion that they agreed to be photographed
but, when finally posed to Mr. Whinney's satisfaction, they entered
into the spirit of the occasion by bursting into the national anthem
of Love, which is described in Chapter II. The instruments are the
bombi, a hollow section of rapiti-wood covered with fish membrane,
and the lonkila, a stringed instrument of most plaintive and persuasive
tone. These two instruments, with the addition of the bazoota, a
wood-wind affair made from papoo reeds, make up the simple orchestral
equipment of the Filberts.]

We were all wearing the native costume and Swank, I remember, caught
his _rigolo_ on a coral branch and delayed us five minutes. But we were
soon on the inner beach laughing over the incident while Babai made
repairs.

The path up the mountain led through a paradise of tropical wonders.
On this trip Whinney was easily the star, his scientific knowledge
enabling him to point out countless marvels which we might not otherwise
have seen. As he talked I made rapid notes.

"Look," he said, holding up an exquisite rose-colored reptile. "The
_tritulus annularis_ or pink garter snake! Almost unheard of in the
tropics."

Kippy insisted on tying it around her shapely limb. Then, of course,
Babai must have one, too, and great were our exertions before we bagged
an additional pair for our loved ones.

Thus sporting on our way, crowned with _alova_ and girdled with
_tontoni_ (a gorgeous type of flannel-mouthed snapdragon which kept all
manner of insects at bay), we wound toward the summit, stopping ever and
anon to admire the cliffs of mother-of-pearl, sheer pages of colorful
history thrown up long ago by some primeval illness of mother earth.

Swank was so intoxicated by it all that I made almost the only break
of our island experience.

"You've been drinking," I accused.

"You lie," he answered hotly, "it's these colors! Wow-wow! Osky-wow-wow!
Skinny wow-wow Illinois!"

"Oh, shut up!" I remonstrated, when I saw Tilaana advancing toward me,
fluttering her _taa-taa_ in the same menacing way in which Kippy had
attacked the _wak-wak_.

"I beg your pardon," I said. "I was wrong. I apologize."

We stood in a circle and chinned each other until peace was restored.

The view from the summit was, as authors say, indescribable.
Nevertheless I shall describe it, or rather I shall quote Whinney who
at this moment reached his highest point. We were then about three
thousand feet above sea-level.

I wish I could give his address as it was delivered, in Filbertese,
but I fear that my readers would skip, a form of literary exercise
which I detest.

Try for a moment to hold the picture; our little group standing on the
very crest of the mountain as if about to sing the final chorus of the
Creation to an audience of islands. Far-flung they stretched, these
jeweled confections, while below, almost at our very feet, we could
see the Kawa and Triplett, a tiny speck, frantically waving his
yard-arm! Even at three thousand feet he gave me a chill.... But let
Whinney speak.

"It is plain," he said, "that the basalt monadnock on which we stand
is a carboniferous upthrust of metamorphosed schists, shales and
conglomerate, probably Mesozoic or at least early Silurian."

At this point our wives burst into laughter. In fact, their attitude
throughout was trying but Whinney bravely proceeded.

"You doubtless noticed on the shore that the deep-lying metamorphic
crystals have been exposed by erosion, leaving on the upper levels
faulted strata of tilted lava-sheets interstratified with
pudding-stone."

"We have!" shouted Swank.

"Evidently then," continued the professor, "the atoll is simply an
annular terminal moraine of detritus shed alluvially into the sea,
thus leaving a geosyncline of volcanic ash embedded with an occasional
trilobite and the fragments of scoria, upon which we now stand."

[Illustration: William Henry Thomas]

[Illustration Note: WILLIAM HENRY THOMAS

Of all the members of the now famous cruise of the Kawa into hitherto
uncharted waters it is doubtful if any one entered so fully into the
spirit of adventure as the silent fore-mast hand whose portrait faces
this text. It was he who first adopted native costume. The day after
landing in the Filberts he was photographed as we see him wearing a
native wreath of nabiscus blooms and having discarded shoes. Every day
he discarded some article of raiment. It was he who first took unto
himself an island mate. It was he who ultimately abandoned all hope
of ever seeing his home and country again, electing rather to remain
among his new-found people with his new-found love and his new-found
name, Fatakahala (Flower of Darkness). Truly, strange flowers of fancy
blossom in the depths of the New England character. It is reported
that he has lately been elected King of the Filberts.]

We gave Whinney a long cheer with nine Yales at the close to cover the
laughter of the women, for the discourse was really superb. In English
its melodic charm is lost, but you must admit that for an indescribable
thing it is a very fine description.

After several days of idyllic life in our mountain paradise we felt
the returning urge of our various ambitions.

"Kippy, my dear," I said, "I think we ought to be going."

Sweet soul that she was! that they all were, these beautiful women of
ours! Anything we proposed was agreeable to them. As we trooped down
the mountain singing, our merry chorus shook the forest glades and
literally brought down the cocoanuts.

Whinney was not alone in his scientific discoveries for on the return
trip Babai suddenly gave a cry of delight and the next instant had
climbed with amazing agility to the top of a towering palm whence she
returned bearing a semi-spheric bowl of closely woven grass in which
lay four snow-white, polka-dotted cubes, the marvelous square eggs of
the _fatu-liva_!

"Kopaa kopitaa aue!" she cried. "Hide them. Quickly, away!"

I knew the danger, of which my temple still bore the scar. Concealing
our find under our _taa-taa_ we scraped and slid over the faulted
and tilted strata to which Whinney had referred until we reached the
beach. High above us I could hear the anguished cry of the mother
_fatu-liva_ vainly seeking her ravished home and potential family.

The marking of the eggs is most curious and Whinney took a photograph
of them (see [Illustration: THE NEST OF A FATU-LIVA]) when we reached
the yawl. It is an excellent picture though Whinney, with the
raptiousness of the scientist, claims that one of the eggs moved.

Just before we left the mountain beach my own radiant Daughter of Pearl
and Coral made a discovery which in the light of after events was
destined to play an important part in our adventures. Kippiputuona,
my own true mate, there is something ironically tragic in the thought
that the simple blue flower which you plucked so carelessly from the
cliff edge and thrust into your hair would some day--but again, I
anticipate.

We had reached the yawl, which we made a sort of half-way house and
were chatting with Captain Triplett. Whinney was repeating parts of
his talk and I noticed that Triplett's attention was wandering. His
eye was firmly fixed on the flower in Kippy's hair. That called my
attention to it and I saw that whenever my wife turned her head the
blossom of the flower slowly turned in the opposite direction.

Suddenly Triplett interrupted Whinney to say in a rather shaky voice,
"Mrs. Traprock, if you please, would you mind facin' a-stern."

I motioned to Kippy to obey, which she would have done anyway.

"An' now," said the Captain, "kindly face forrard."

Same business.

The flower slowly turned on Kippy's head!

Stretching forth a trembling hand, Triplett plucked the blossom from
Kippy's hair!

You can only imagine the commotion which ensued when I tell you that,
in the Filberts, for a man to pluck a flower from a woman's hair means
only one thing. Poor Kippy was torn between love of me and what she
thought was duty to my chief. I had a most difficult time explaining
to her that Triplett meant absolutely nothing by his action, a statement
which he corroborated by all sorts of absurd "I don't care,"
gestures--but he clung to the flower.

An hour later when we had escorted the ladies safely to their compound,
I paddled back to the yawl. Peering through the port-hole I could see
Triplett by the light of a phosphorous dip working on a rude diagram;
at his elbow was the blue flower in a _puta-shell_ of water.

"Triplett," I asked sternly, as I stood beside him an instant later,
"_what is that flower?_"

"That," said Triplett, "is a compass-plant."

"And what is a compass-plant?"

"A compass-plant," said Triplett, "is---," but for the third and last
time, I anticipate.

I _must_ get over that habit.



CHAPTER VIII

Swank's popularity on the island. Whinney's jealousy. An artistic
duel. Whinney's deplorable condition. An assembly of the Archipelago.
Water-sports on the reef. The Judgment.


Whinney and I were surprised to find that the islanders took Swank
more seriously than they did either of us. Of course, since the Kawa's
forcible entry into the atoll premier honors were Triplett's, but Swank
was easily second.

The curious reason was that his pictures appealed. I think I have
indicated that Swank was ultramodern in his tendencies. "Artless art,"
was his formula, often expressed by his slogan--_"A bas l'objectif!
Vive le subjonctif."_ Whatever that means, he scored with the
Filbertines who would gather in immense numbers wherever he set up his
easel.

This was due in part to his habit of standing with his back to the
scene which he proposed to paint and, bending over until his head
almost touched the ground, peering at the landscape between his
outspread legs.

"It intensifies the color," he explained. "Try it."

Baahaabaa bestowed a title on our artist--"Maimaue Ahiiahi"--"Tattooer
of Rainbows"--by which he was loudly acclaimed. Whinney and I used
to sing, "He's always tattooing rainbows!" but artistic vanity was
proof against such _bourgeoisie_.

Baahaabaa was tireless in suggesting new subjects for him to paint.
One day it would be a performance of the _Ataboi_, the languorously
sensuous dance which we had first seen in the women's compound; again
he would stage a scene of feasting, at which the men passed foaming
shells of _hoopa_ from hand to hand. A difficulty was that of
preventing the artist from quitting work and joining his models which
Swank always justified by saying that the greatest art resulted from
submerging oneself with one's subject.

"Look at Gaugin!" he used to say.

"But I don't like to look at Gaugin," I remonstrated.

Whinney foolishly tried to compete with Swank by means of his
camera--foolishly, I say, though the result was one of the finest
spectacles I have ever witnessed.

For days Whinney had been stalking Swank, photographing everything he
painted. In a darkroom of closely woven _panjandrus_ leaves the
films were developed and a proof rushed off to Baahaabaa long before
the artist had finished his picture.

This naturally irritated Swank and he finally challenged the scientist
to mortal combat, an artistic duel, camera against brush, lens against
eye.

When the details were explained to Baahaabaa, he was in a frenzy of
excitement. As judge, his decision was to be final, which should have
warned Whinney, who, as the challenged party, had the right to select
the subject. His choice was distinctly artful.

"I think I've got him!" he confided. "We're to do the 'lagoon at dawn.'
You know what that means? Everything's gray and I can beat him a mile
on gray; secondly, there won't be a gang of people around, and, thirdly,
Swank simply loathes getting up early. They're all alike, these artists;
any effort before noon is torture!"

"All right," said Swank, when I explained the conditions, "I won't go
to bed at all."

[Illustration: The Lagoon at Dawn (Whinney's Version)]

[Illustration Note: THE LAGOON AT DAWN

(Whinney's Version)

What the camera can do in interpreting the subtle values of a delicate
color scheme is here shown in the prize photograph submitted by Reginald
Whinney in the great competition presided over by Chief Baahaabaa. It
is rare indeed to find a beach in the Filbert Islands so deserted. An
hour after this photograph was taken more than three thousand natives
were assembled to witness the judging of the exhibits. In the small
hours of night, the entire strand is covered with pita-oolas, or giant
land-crabs, about the size of manhole covers, who crawl inland to cut
down the palm trees with which they build their nests. An examination
of the picture with a powerful microscope will reveal the presence on
the surface of the water of millions of dew-fish enjoying their brief
interval of day and dew.]

When the rivals showed up on the beach at the appointed time I regret
to say that Swank was not himself. He had spent the night with Baahaabaa
and Hitoia-Upa, who supported him on either side, and balanced him
precariously on his sketching-stool where he promptly fell asleep. In
the meantime Whinney was dodging about with his camera, squinting in
the finder, without finding anything--one never does--peering at the
brightening sky, holding his thumb at arm's length, [Footnote: In
Southern Peru the same gesture used to signify contempt and derision.]
in a word going through all the artistic motions which should have
been Swank's. The latter finally aroused himself and laboriously got
onto all fours, looking like a dromedary about to lie down, from which
position he contemplated the sunrise for several minutes and then began
to fumble in his painting box.

"Ver' funny--ver' funny," he crooned, "forgot my brushes."

"Let me get them for you," I suggested.

He waived me aside. "Gimme air."

Whinney's shutter was now clicking industriously. He had decided to
use an entire film, and submit the picture which came out best. Swank
was gradually covering his canvas by squeezing the paint directly from
the tubes, a method which has since been copied by many others--the
"Tubistes" so called. Every few moments he would lurch forward and
press his nose against the canvas, once falling flat on his masterpiece,
most of which was transferred to his chest. But he persevered.

Whinney by this time had retired to his darkroom; Baahaabaa and
Hitoia-Upa snored; Swank worked and I, from a near-by knoll, watched
the miracle of a tropical dawn.

It was a scene of infinite calm, low in color-key, peaceful in
composition, the curve of purple and lavender beach unbroken, the crest
of dark palms unmoved, "like a Turk verse along a scimitar." The waters
of the lagoon, a mirror of molten amber, reflected the soft hues of
the sky from which the trailing garments of night were gradually
withdrawn before his majesty, the Day.

Swank only allowed himself the use of the three primary
colors--consequently his rendering of the opalescent beauty of this
particular dawn was somewhat beyond me.

Where I saw the glowing promise of color rather than color itself,
Swank saw red. Where I felt the hushed presence of dawn "like a pilgrim
clad," Swank vibrated to the harmonies of pure pigment, the full brass
of a tonal orchestra.

Of a sudden his color hypnotism transported him.

"Eee--yow!" he howled, brandishing a handful of Naples yellow mixed
with coral which he hurled at the canvas. "Zow! Bam! Ooh, la la!" His
shrieks roused his escorts and brought a rapidly swelling crowd to the
dune, where, to the sound of his own ravings and the plaudits of the
spectators, he finished his masterpiece.

Late afternoon of the same day was the hour agreed upon for the
Judgment. Baahaabaa had sent invitations by express swimmers to all
the near-by islands. He invited the entire archipelago.

The picture of their approach was interesting. Kippy haled me to the
top of a tall tree whence we watched the convergent argosies, hundreds
of tiny specks each bearing an outspread _taa-taa_ of gleaming leaves.
It was as if Birnam Wood had gone yachting.

"Tapa nui ekilana lohoo-a" chanted my mate.

Following her outstretched hand I discerned a group of _taa-taas,_
arranged in wedge formation, the enclosing sides being formed by
swimmers carrying a web of woven _haro_, in the center of which
reposed a visiting chief with three or four of his wives.

[Illustration: The Lagoon at Dawn (Swank's Version)]

[Illustration Note: THE LAGOON AT DAWN

(Swank's Version)

An interesting example of the way in which the mind of a painter works
will be found in this reproduction of the masterpiece created by Herman
Swank in competition with the photograph of the same title. Both
camera and painter were to reproduce the same subject, yet how
differently they reacted to it. In the beauty of nature about him it
is evident that the great artist felt only the dominant feature of
island life, the glorious, untrammeled womanhood of the South Seas.
The wild abandon, the primitive gesture of modesty, the eyes of
adoration--symbolically expressed as detached entities floating about
the loved one--all are present in this remarkable picture. Thus
expressed, too, we may find the ever-present ocean, the waving palms
and, if we seek carefully, the Kawa herself, scudding before
the trade wind. Truly may this be called, as the artist prefers, the
Venus of Polynesia.]

By four o'clock the beach was thronged with thousands of gleaming
bodies. Festivity and rejoicing were in every eye. Shouts of welcome,
bursts of laughter, and the resounding slap of friendly hand on visiting
hip or shoulder, the dignified welcome of the chiefs, cries of children,
dances and games, myriad details of social amity--all presented a
picture of unspoiled Polynesia such as is found in the Filberts alone.
When I forget it, may I be forgot.

Of course Swank, Whinney and I were objects of much curiosity--and
admiration. Hundreds of times my radiant Daughter of Pearl and Coral
repeated:

"Ahoa tarumea--Kapatooi Naani-Tui"--"I should like to make you
acquainted with my husband, Face-of-the-Moon."

Hundreds of times did I press my chin against soft ears and submit to
the same gentle greeting. Hundreds of times did I raise the welcoming
hoopa-shell with the usual salutation--"Lomi-lomi,"--"May you live
for a thousand years and grow to enormous size."

In a rest period Kippy and I swam to the reef where the younger set
were sporting among the coral, diving for pearls which rolled on the
purple floor. As I think now of the value of those milky globes, the
size of gooseberries, I marvel that not a thought of covetousness
crossed my mind. What were pearls to us?

"Catch!" cried Kippy, and threw a fish-skin beauty in my direction.
I admired its lustre for an instant and its perfect roundness
acquiredfrom the incessant rolling of the tides--then carelessly tossed
it back. It slipped between Kippy's fingers.

"I'll get it," I cried, making ready to dive, but she shouted a warning.

"Arani electi. Oki Kutiaa!"-"Look out! The snapping oysters!"

Gazing down through the crystal depths into which our bauble had fallen
I saw a great gaping _kutiaa_, the fiercest of crustacea, its shelly
mouth slightly ajar, waiting for the careless hand or foot that might
come within its grasp. We let the pearl go and amused ourselves by
sucking the eggs of the _liho_, a bland-faced bird which makes its nest
in the surface coral branches. [Footnote: The _liho_ is in many respects
the most remarkable fowl in existence. It is of the _gallinaris_ or
hen-family crossed with the male shad which causes the bird to produce
eggs in unheard of quantity.] Here, too, we laughed over the ridiculous
_ratatia_, that grotesque amphibian who is built like a ferry-boat, with
a head at either end and swivel fins so that however he may move he is
always going forward.

From these diversions the sound of singing summoned us. The Judgment
was about to take place. At top speed we swam ashore and joined the
crowd. For once I was glad that literature had no place in the
competition, so that Kippy and I were free to watch the proceedings.

Years ago I saw the ceremonial by which the British Government conferred
on the Bahia of Persia the title of "The Bab of Babs," but it was
nothing compared to what I now gazed upon.

As far as the eye could reach stretched the crowd. Under a gorgeous
dais of _panjandrus_ leaves respondent with _alova_ blossoms sat
Baahaabaa, on his right Captain Triplett, on his left Hanuhonu, the
ranking visitor, and all about retinues of nobles, with their superb
families, groups of dancers, slim and straight as golden birches,
singers, orators and athletes. It was grand opera on a titanic scale,
with the added distinction of really meaning something.

Baahaabaa spoke first--in fact I think I may say that he spoke first,
last and all the time. I can conscientiously claim that he is the
champion long-distance orator of the world. Ever and anon he gave way
to a guest but only for a moment.

"We are met," he said--I translate freely--"we are met to witness the
emulation of friends." Could anything be more delicate?

"We have with us tonight, in this corner, Wanooa-Potonopoa (Whinney),
the Man with his Eye in a Box" (this was plainly a reference to
Whinney's camera)--"while in this corner, we have Mainaue Ahiiahi,
Tattooer-of-Rainbows. Both boys are members of this island."

The applause was enormous but Swank had the grace to rise and kiss his
finger-tips toward the audience which immediately put him on a friendly
footing.

After a few more speeches by Baahaabaa the exhibits were unveiled. Of
course, the result was foregone. I must admit that Whinney's was not
hung to advantage. The two pictures were placed against tufts of _haro_
at forty yards distance where, naturally, the detail of the photograph
lost something of its effectiveness. Swank's picture on the contrary
blazed like a pin-wheel. The further you got from it the better it
looked.

A characteristic point in the competition was that Swank had introduced
figures into his composition where no figures had existed. "What do
I care?" he said to my objection. "I was there, wasn't I? And you were
there? There may have been others."

A mighty roar followed the unveiling, a shout of such force that tons
of breadfruit and thousands of cocoanuts fell from the adjacent trees.
But it was plain to see whom the shouting was for. Then Baahaabaa made
the awards and--the prizes were identical--two royal _rigolos_ of
mother-of-pearl, elaborately trimmed with corals and pendants of
limpid aquamarine. What tact, what grace and charm in these identical
rewards!

I am fortunate in being able to reproduce both masterpieces, so that
my readers may form their own decision. Personally, Whinney's photograph
seems to me to reproduce more completely my memories of "The Lagoon
at Dawn." But I may be wrong. Modern artists will probably back up the
popular judgment and on that memorable day in the Filberts I would
certainly have been in the minority.



CHAPTER IX

More premonitions. Triplett's curious behavior. A call from
Baahaabaa. We visit William Henry Thomas. His bride. The christening.
A hideous discovery. Pros and cons. Our heart-breaking decision. A
stirrup-cup of lava-lava.


It was two weeks after the great Competition before the celebrations
which followed it terminated, the tumult and the shouting died, and
the last of our amiable visitors paddled homeward, some being towed
by new-found wives, while not a few remained in our own community,
infusing our society with the novelty and fresh gossip of their islands.
Little by little we settled back into domestic quiet.

A blithe incident enlivened that peaceful period, preceding tragic
events which must be told in their proper place.

On the fairest of tropical mornings Kippy and I heard a gentle tapping
at the trunk of our tree and, peering over the floor, saw below
Baahaabaa, his face shining with happiness.

"Katia?" we questioned, but he was mysterious and led us quietly to
the trees occupied by the Swanks, the Whinneys and finally Triplett,
all of whom he roused as he had us.

"Katia?" we repeated.

"Hoko," he answered, and to our surprise, again motioned us forward.
For twenty minutes we threaded a forest trail in which still lurked
the shadows of night. At a giant palm tree our leader again tapped
gently.

Who should look over the edge of the densely screened dwelling but
William Henry Thomas!

At first glimpse of us he hastily drew back and I heard the muttered
sound of old-fashioned, New England cursing. Reassured by Baahaabaa,
however, he slid down to join us, followed by his wife.

It was the first time I had ever really seen her and I must say that
I was completely bowled over by the sight. Plainly not of the same
social class as the beautiful women whom Baahaabaa had selected for
us, she yet possessed an eerie charm of her own which instantly stirred
strange emotions in my breast. I heard Swank gasp and Whinney's face
was white and drawn, his favorite expression when deeply moved. She
stood close to her husband, half-twined about him with the grace and
strength of an _eva-eva_ vine while her kindling eyes burned
questioningly, her lithe body tense and protective. "He is to be
christened," said Baahaabaa, with a magnificent gesture toward William
Henry Thomas.

We could only look our astonishment.

"Yes," continued the chief, smiling benignly, "first among you all is
he to have his name recorded in our ancient fashion."

As he pronounced these words Baahaabaa lifted his left foot solemnly
and pointed to his own royal appellation tattooed on the sole. Our
wives did likewise.

"What is his name?" Whinney asked.

William Henry Thomas's head rose proudly as his wife replied in
thrilling, woodland tones, "Fatakahala."

"Fatakahala!" repeated Baahaabaa, "Flower of Darkness," and William
Henry Thomas raised his head as high as it would go.

"When does the ceremony take place?" asked Whinney. Baahaabaa pointed
to the distant peak of the mountain.

"Tonight. Maka, the Tattooer, is ready; the fishbones are sharpened;
the juice of the tupa-berries fills the holy shell. We go."

All that day we strung ceremonial garlands about the base of the
mountain, which, with its circumference of a mile and three-quarters,
was no small task. But sunset found it completed. We supped on the
beach and at nine, under a rising moon, climbed toward the summit. The
peak was reserved for William Henry Thomas, Maka and her four attendants
who bore the utensils and long ropes of _eva-eva_--"to tie him with,"
whispered Baahaabaa.

[Illustration: The Nest of a Fatu-Liva]

[Illustration Note: THE NEST OF A FATU-LIVA

This is without question the most extraordinary picture which has ever
been taken of any natural history subject. It corroborates in most
convincing manner the author's claim to the discovery of the wonderful
fatu-liva bird with its unique gift of laying square eggs. Here we see
the eggs themselves in all the beauty of their cubical form and quaint
marking; here we see the nest itself, made of delicately woven haro
and brought carefully from the tree's summit by its discoverer,
Babai-Alova-Babai. An extremely interesting feature of the picture is
the presence in the nest of lapa or signal-feather. By close
observation, Mr. Whinney, the scientist of the expedition, discovered
that whenever the mother-bird left the nest in search of food she
always decorated her home with one of her wing feathers which served
as a signal to her mate that she would return shortly, which she
invariably did. Skeptics have said that it would be impossible to lay
a square egg. To which the author is justly entitled to say: "The
camera never lies."]

At exactly ten, by the shadow of the mountain on the atoll, William
Henry Thomas stepped forth into the moonlight to face his ordeal--alone.

In the darkness we waited, Kippy clinging close to me. Then came a
sound at which I could but shudder. It was a giggle, the voice plainly
that of William Henry Thomas. This was followed by a hysterical sob
of laughter.

"The christening has begun," murmured Kippy.

You can not imagine anything more horrible. _Never_ before to my
knowledge had William Henry Thomas laughed. Now, wilder and yet more
wild rang his uncontrollable mirth, rising at times to demoniac screams,
anon sinking to convulsive chuckles. The worst of it was that it was
infectious.

Conscious though we were of the poor wretch's suffering, we could not
help joining his vocal expression of it, and thus we sat, in the
darkness, our peals of laughter bursting forth at every fresh paroxysm.
Tears of distress rolled down Swank's cheeks.

An hour later the vines parted and a recumbent form was borne gently
down the mountain; William Henry Thomas, that was, his new name wrapped
in soft leaves over which his wife sobbed in tender ecstasy.

On the day following a bolt fell from the blue.

Swank and I were spending the afternoon with Triplett on board the
Kawa where the captain was explaining the workings of various
home-made navigating instruments which he had manufactured.

"This here is a astrolabe," he said, "jackass quadrant, I call it."
He displayed a sort of rudimentary crossbow. "An' this here is a
perspective-glass, kind of a telescope, see? Made'er bamboo. The
lenses ain't very good; had to use fish-skin. Got my compass-plant
nicely rooted in sand, see--she's doin' fine."

"What's this all for?" asked Swank.

Triplett smiled malevolently.

"Don't you want to know where you be? I've got it all figgered out.
Got a chart, too."

He unrolled a broad leaf on which he had drawn a rough sketch of the
island, probable north and possible latitude and longitude.

Again the chill of dismay and apprehension which I had felt before in
Triplett's presence ran up and down my spine. It was beginning to dawn
upon me that Triplett was planning a get-away. "My God!" I cried, "take
that thing away! What you trying to do, Triplett? Hook us up to
civilization with all its deviltry and disease and damned conventions?
Don't you appreciate the beauty of getting outside of the covers of
a geography?"

The old devil only grinned, his very leer seeming to say, "I've got
a trump card up my sleeve, young man."

What might have been a bitter scene was interrupted by something much
more serious.

We saw Whinney running along the edge of the lagoon into which he
presently plunged and began swimming madly in our direction. As he
drew near I saw that he was deathly white. When we dragged him over
the rail he collapsed in the scuppers and burst into tears.

"What is it?" we questioned.

He jerked out his answer in hoarse, broken fragments, while our blood
froze.

"It's come.... I was afraid of it.... from the first... it's here...
we've done it... we've got to get out... it is not fair..."

"For heaven's sake," I shouted. "What's here? What have we done?"

"Disease!" he panted. "Disease! You know ... how the other islands...
Marquesas... Solomons... Tongas... dying, all dying."

His voice sank and he covered his face with his hands, shoulders
shaking.

"What... what is it? Who has it?"

It was then that Whinney made the supreme call on his nerve, stiffened
visibly and answered in a dead voice, "My wife, Babai-Alova-Babai, has
prickly-heat!"

It seemed to me in that moment that the entire atoll revolved rapidly
in one direction while the mountain twirled in the other. Through my
brain crashed a sequence of sickening pictures, the lepers of Molokai
with their hideous affliction imported from China, the gaunt, coughing
wrecks of Papeete, the scarecrows of Samoa--and now this!

And Whinney was right. _We_ had done it; who individually, I know
not, nor cared, but collectively we were guilty. Into this Eden, this
Paradise in which I had never seen or heard of the slightest ailment,
we, the prideful whites, had brought this deadly thing!

Should we remain, I dared not face the consequences.

"Is it... bad?" I managed to ask.

"Pretty," moaned poor Whinney. "Left knee, small of back... spreading."

"I'm going home," I said. "We'll meet here tomorrow afternoon at the
same tune. If this thing develops" ...

I finished my sentence by diving overboard.

Early next morning I knew the worst. Daughter of Pearl and Coral was
restless during the night. When the sun rose a single glance at her
polished shoulders and my heart broke, never to be repaired. Folding
her gently in my arms, I trembled in a paroxysm of grief.

We spent the entire day together, I in an agony of soul which I could
not quite conceal and which my beloved tried to dispel by the tenderest
tributes of her consuming love. I cannot speak more of what lies too
deeply in my heart.

[Illustration: A Fledgling Fatu-Liva]

[Illustration Note: A FLEDGLING FATU-LIVA

It was by the rarest good fortune that Dr. Traprock was able to secure
what is probably the only living specimen now in captivity of the
hitherto unknown fatu-liva bird. Immediately upon his arrival at Papeete
efforts were made to secure a mother bird of any kind which would hatch
out the four fatu-liva eggs then in the explorer's possession. Owing
to their angular and uncomfortable shape it was found impossible to
keep a bird brooding for more than three minutes at a time. After much
effort one egg was finally hatched from which was derived the handsome
specimen shown in the illustration. The youngster is now doing finely
in the Bronx aviary. Unfortunately he is a male, so that his hope of
posterity rests entirely upon the success of another expedition to the
Filbert Islands.]

It was a tragic trio which reassembled on the Kawa's deck as the late
afternoon sun spread its golden hand across the lagoon. The purple
shadow of the Mountain rested on our tiny craft but a shadow yet deeper
shrouded our hearts. Each of us carried the consciousness of a terrible
duty. We ought to leave the Filberts.

Broken-heartedly we talked over the situation.

"Getting worse," was Whinney's report. "Saw Baahaabaa scratching his
leg this morning--probably got it."

Poor Baahaabaa, how my heart ached for him.

"We ought to leave," I said.

It was the first time any of us had dared state the hideous truth in
plain words. They fell like lead on our spirits. Swank's sensitive
soul was perhaps the most harrowed of all.

He sat moaning on the taffrail taking little or no part in the
discussion. All at once he sprang up with blazing eyes.

"I can't do it!" he shouted. "I can't--and I won't. Blessed little
Lupoba,--my Mist-on-the-Mountain. How can I desert you? How can we any
of us desert our wives--let us stay, let us live, and, if we must, let
us die. Love is more than life."

It was a powerful appeal. Overwrought as I was, I nearly succumbed to
the false reasoning which was but the expression of my desire. And
then once more the vision of those deadly inroads of disease rose
before me.

"Whinney," I asked, "is there no cure for this awful thing? No
antitoxin?"

He shook his head sadly.

"We have been studying it for years. The only hope is in their complete
isolation. If we stay here ... and a second epidemic breaks out....
"; he shrugged hopelessly and Swank buried his face in the bilge-sponge.

"Enough!" I said sternly. "Triplett, when can we leave?"

"Tonight, sir," he answered with his old subservience. "I've got her
completely stored, watered and ready."

"Come on," I said shortly. "We must get William Henry Thomas."

We swam ashore dejectedly, each, I know, contemplating suicide. For
an hour we visited our friends. For them it was but a friendly call,
for us the agony of parting.

Gentle, dignified Baahaabaa, shall I ever forget you as you stood with
your hands resting on my shoulder, confidently expecting to see me on
the morrow!--Merry Hitoia-Upa, kindly Ablutiluti, and Moolitonu, oh!
that I might send some message across the waste of waters to tell your
loving hearts of the love which still kindles in mine.

We did not dare visit our wives.

At dusk, that our conference might be unnoticed, we found our way to
the William Henry Thomas family tree.

He came down instantly. All his old deference was gone. Something in
the straight look of his eye told me that his christening had worked
a tremendous moral change in the man, but I was not prepared for its
extent.

"Not me," he said briefly, when we explained the necessity of our
departure. "Not by a damn sight."

In vain we reasoned, urged and argued.

"Don't you want to go back to your own people?" asked Swank weakly.

A mocking laugh was the reply.

"My own people! Who was I among my own people? Just a bunch of first
names--no last name at all. William Henry Thomas! That's a hell of a
bunch of names. Who am I here? Fatakahala--Flower of Darkness--I guess
that'll be about all. Good night, gentlemen."

With the agility of a monkey he bounded up his tree and disappeared.
I stood at the foot of the tree and tried to argue further with him.
"Remember Henry James," I shouted. "Think of Charles Henry George."
It was in vain.

Swank started after him, but as he reached the floor-level a large
_hola-nut_ struck him squarely on the top of the head and he fell back,
stunned.

Still further depressed we made our way back to the Kawa, our
hearts aching as with the hurt of burns, a dull, throbbing torture.

"Drink?" said Captain Triplett in his most treacly manner. He held out
a cup of _lava-lava_, the most deadly beverage of the islands. It is
mixed with phosphorus and glows and tastes like hell-fire. I saw his
plan and for once was grateful. We took the bowl from his hands and
filed into the tiny cabin--each picking out a corner to fall in.

In silence we filled our shells and raised them to our lips, the last
thought of each of us for our lost loved ones!

Hours--perhaps days--later I was dimly aware of a soft sobbing sound
near my ear. Was it Swank crying? And then I realized that it was the
chuckling of water under the Kawa's counter as manned by the intrepid
Triplett she merrily footed it over the wrinkled sea.



CHAPTEK X

Once more the "Kawa" foots the sea. Triplett's observations and our
assistance. The death of the compass-plant. Lost! An orgy of
desperation. Oblivion and excess. The "Kawa" brings us home. Our
reception in Papeete. A celebration at the Tiare.


That Triplett's refitting of the Kawa had been thorough and
seamanlike was amply proven by the speed with which she traveled under
the favoring trades. When our saddened but still intrepid ship's company
reassembled on our limited quarterdeck there was no sign of land visible
in any direction. The horizon stretched about our collective heads
like an enormous wire halo. It was as if the Filberts had never existed.

The captain alone was cheerful. Joy bubbled from that calloused heart
of his in striking contrast to the gloom of his companions. Most of
the time he was our helmsman, his eye cocked aloft at the taut halyards
of _eva-eva_, occasionally glancing from the sun to the compass-plant
which bloomed in a shell of fresh water lashed to an improvised
binnacle.

At regular intervals he took observations, figured the results, and
jotted down our probable course on his chart. This document we could
scarcely bear to look at for upon it our beloved island figured
prominently. But the course of the Kawa interested us. It was
a contradictory course and even Triplett seemed puzzled by the results
of his calculations.

"Can't quite figger it out," he would mutter, lowering the astrolabe
from its aim at the sun--"accordin' to this here jackass-quadrant we
orter be dee-creesing our latitude--but the answer comes out different."

"Too much jackass and too little quadrant," snapped Swank, whose nerves
were still like E strings.

Little by little, however, the calm of the great ocean invaded our
souls and that well-known influence (mentioned in so many letters of
consolation), "the hand of time," soothed the pain in our hearts. I
think it was the quiet, self-contained Whinney who brought the most
reasoned philosophy to bear on the situation.

"They will forget," he said one evening, as we sat watching the Double
Cross slowly revolve about its axis. "We must remember that they are
a race of children. They have no written records of the past, no
anticipations of the future. They live for the present. Childlike,
they will grieve deeply, for a day maybe; then another sun will rise,
Baahaabaa will give another picnic--" he sighed deeply.

"The tragedy of it is that their memories should be so short and ours
so long," I commented.

"Yes," agreed Swank, "but I suppose we ought to be thankful. They were
a wonderful people, it was a wonderful experience. And no matter what
art-juries of the future may do to me, my pictures were a success in
the Filberts."

Blessed old Swank, he always looked on the bright side of things!

Day by day matters mended--and our spirits rose. We began to think
more and more of getting in touch with civilization. What a tale we
should have to tell. How we should put it over the other explorers
with their trite Solomons and threadbare Marquesas!

"Where do you think we'll land, Captain?" I asked Triplett.

"Hard to say," he answered, "accordin' to compass-plant I'm steerin'
a straight course for anywhere, but accordin' to the jackass (he had
dropped the word "quadrant" since Swank's thrust) we're spinnin' a web
round these seas from where we started to nowhere via where we be."

[Illustration: Baahaabaa Mourning the Departure of His Friends]

[Illustration Note: BAAHAABAA MOURNING THE DEPARTURE OF HIS FRIENDS

In all the history of great friendships there is nothing more touching
and more noble than the beautiful bond which existed between Baahaabaa,
the simple, primitive chief of the Filbertines and the white men who
spent the happiest months of their lives on his island and then so
strangely vanished. For several days after their departure he spoke
no word. But every evening at sunset he took his place opposite an
opening in the reef where the Kawa had first made her appearance
and there he sat until darkness covered him. "Whom are you awaiting?"
his chieftains asked him. He shook his head mournfully; memories in
the Filberts are mercifully short. Then placing his hand over his heart
he said, "I know not who it is, but something is gone--from here."

Three weeks later when this photograph was taken he was still keeping
up his lonely vigil.]

We tried to help him. While the Captain pointed his astrolabe sunward
and announced the figures Whinney and I, like tailors' assistants,
took them down, Whinney doing the adding, I the subtracting and Swank
the charting. The results were confusion worse confounded.

And then a dreadful thing happened.

The compass-plant sickened and died.

Whether some sea-water splashed into the shell or whether it was just
change of environment, I do not know. But day by day it drooped and
faded.

I shall never forget the night she breathed her last. With white faces
we sat about the tiny brown bowl in which lay our hope of orientation.
In Triplett's great rough paw was a fountain-pen filler of fresh water
which he gently dropped on the flowerlet's unturned face. At exactly
one-thirty, solar time, the tiny petals fluttered faintly and closed.

"She's gone," groaned Triplett, and dashed a tear, the size of a robin's
egg, from his furrowed cheek. In that ghastly light we stared at each
other.

We were lost!

From then on we gave up all attempts at navigation and went in for
plain sailing. Taking an approximate north from sun and stars we simply
headed our tight little craft on her way and let her pound.

A sort of desperate feeling, the panic which always comes to those who
are lost, led us to wild outbursts of gaiety and certain excesses in
the matter of use of our supplies. Every evening we opened fresh gourds
of _hoopa_ and made large inroads into our stores of _pai_, pickled
_gobangs_ and raw crawfish.

How long this kept up I cannot say, for we had given up time reckoning
along with other forms of arithmetic. But I well remember that it was
the Captain who had to intervene at last.

"Look here, boys," he said. "Do you realize that you're eatin' an'
drinkin' yourselves outer house an' home? We got jest a week's grub
in our lockers, if we go on short rations. Beyond that,"--he waved his
arm toward the ocean, as if to say "overboard for ours."

"Look here!" cried Swank excitedly, "do you suppose I want to go in
for one of these slow starvation stunts, perishing miserably on half
a biscuit a day! O man! that's old stuff. Every explorer that ever
wrote has done that, you know--falling insensible in the boat, drifting
around for weeks, being towed into port, sunbaked, like mummies. Not
on your life! What I propose is one final party--let's eat the whole
outfit tonight, hook, line and sinker."

We carried the proposition by acclamation, except Triplett who spat
sourly to windward, a thing few men can do. And we were as good as our
word.

Late into the night we roared our sea-songs over the indifferent ocean,
pledging our lost ones, singing, laughing and weeping with the abandon
of lost sheep. With Triplett it was a case of forcible feeding for he
kept trying to secrete his share of the menu in various parts of his
person, slipping fistsful of crawfish in his shirt-bosom and pouring
his cup of _hoopa_ into an old fire-extinguisher which rolled in the
ship's waist. Pinioning his arms we squirted the fiery liquid between
his set jaws, after which he too gave himself up to unrestrained
celebration.

Our supplies lasted for two days, and for two days our wild orgy
continued.

We have all read of the hunter lost in trackless forest wilds who
finally falls exhausted on his pommel and is brought safely home by
his loose-reined mustang.

That is exactly what happened to us. I know I am departing from literary
custom when I abandon the picture of slow starvation, with its
attractive episodes of shoe-eating, sea-drinking, madness, cannibalism
and suicide which make up the final scene of most tales of adventure.
But I must tell the truth.

While we caroused, our helm was free, the tiller banging, sail flapping,
boom gibing, blocks rattling. It was as if we had thrown the reins of
guidance on the neck of our staunch little seahorse and she, superbly
sturdy creature, proceeded to bring us home. On we went across the
waters, steered only by fate.

In the midst of a rousing rendering of "Hail, hail, the gang's all
here," we were startled by a grinding crash that threw us in a heap
on the floor. Down the companion way burst a flood of green water
through which we struggled to the steeply slanting deck, where on
ourport bow I glimpsed the picture of a pleasant sandy beach, trees,
ships, docks, a large white hotel and hundreds of people--white and
brown, in bathing! In one thundering burst of amazement the truth swept
over me; we were in the harbor of Papeete! In the next instant strong
arms seized me and I was borne through the breakers and up the beach.

Well, they were all there! O'Brien--dear old Fred, and Martin Johnson,
just in from the Solomons with miles of fresh film; McFee, stopping
over night on his way to the West Indies; Bill Beebe, with his pocket
full of ants; Safroni, "Mac" MacQuarrie, Freeman, "Cap" Bligh--thinner
than when I last saw him in Penang--and, greatest surprise of all, a
bluff, harris-tweeded person who peered over the footboard of my bed
and roared in rough sea-tones:

"Well, as I live and breathe, Walter Traprock!"

It was Joe Conrad.

I told my story that night in the dining-room of the Tiare, or, at
least, I told just enough of it to completely knock my audience off
their seats. For many good reasons I avoided exact details of latitude,
longitude, and the like.

No island is sacred among explorers.

"Gentlemen," I said, rather neatly, "I cannot give you the Filberts'
latitude or longitude. But I will say that their pulchritude is 100!"

The place was in an uproar. They plied me with questions, and Dr.
Funk's! It was a night of rejoicing and triumph which I shall never
forget, and which only Fred O'Brien can describe.

The later results are too well known to need recital, Swank's success,
Whinney's position in the Academy of Sciences, my own recognition by
the Royal Geographic Society.

The tight little Kawa still rides the seas, Triplett in command.
She is kept fully stocked, ready to sail at a moment's notice. Soon,
perhaps, the wanderlust will seize us again and, throwing down our
lightly won honors, we will once more head for the trackless trail.

But we will not make for the Filberts. Too tender are the memories
which wreathe those opal isles, too irrevocable the changes which must
have taken place. Rather let us preserve their undimmed beauty in our
hearts.

On our next trip we have agreed, all of us, that by far the best plan
will be to leave the choice of our route, destination and return (if
any) to the Kawa herself.



OTHER BOOKS BY WALTER E. TRAPROCK

Who's Hula in Hawaii                           1899
Dances, Near-dances and No-dances of the
  Far East                                     1902
Through Borneo on a Bicycle                    1904
Curry-Dishes for Moderate Incomes              1907
Sobs from the South Seas-Poems                 1912
Around Russia on Roller Skates                 1917
Crazy With Tahiti-Translations from Native
  Folklore                                     1918
How to Explore, and What                       1919

NOTE:--Most of the above are out of print. The author still has a few
copies of "Curry-Dishes for Moderate Incomes" which may be had at the
publication price, $200.



SEE THE SOUTH SEAS

S. S. _Love-Nest_, sailing from San Francisco, June 1st, Sept. 3rd,
Dec 2nd and March 7th. Three months' cruise.

See the cute cannibals. Excursion rates for round trip with stops at all
important islands. Everybody's doing it. Don't be a back number.





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