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Title: The Cruise of the Snark
Author: London, Jack, 1876-1916
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the Mills and Boon “War Price” edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                            THE CRUISE OF THE

                                * * * * *

                               JACK LONDON

                      “MUTINY OF THE ELSINORE,” ETC.

                                * * * * *

    “Yes have heard the beat of the offshore wind,
    And the thresh of the deep-sea rain;
    You have heard the song—how long! how long!
    Pull out on the trail again!”

                                * * * * *

                          MILLS & BOON, LIMITED
                             49 RUPERT STREET
                               LONDON, W.1

                                * * * * *

   _Copyright in the United States of America_ by THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

                                * * * * *

                         THE MATE OF THE “SNARK”

                    WHO TOOK THE WHEEL, NIGHT OR DAY,
                              WHEN ENTERING
                                 WHO WEPT
                         VOYAGE WAS DISCONTINUED


CHAPTER                                          PAGE
        I.  FOREWORD                               13
      III.  ADVENTURE                              47
       IV.  FINDING ONE’S WAY ABOUT                58
        V.  THE FIRST LANDFALL                     72
       VI.  A ROYAL SPORT                          82
      VII.  THE LEPERS OF MOLOKAI                  97
     VIII.  THE HOUSE OF THE SUN                  116
       IX.  A PACIFIC TRAVERSE                    134
        X.  TYPEE                                 156
       XI.  THE NATURE MAN                        175
      XII.  THE HIGH SEAT OF ABUNDANCE            193
      XIV.  THE AMATEUR NAVIGATOR                 223
       XV.  CRUISING IN THE SOLOMONS              244
      XVI.  BÊCHE DE MER ENGLISH                  270
     XVII.  THE AMATEUR M.D.                      280
BACKWORD                                          303


IT began in the swimming pool at Glen Ellen.  Between swims it was our
wont to come out and lie in the sand and let our skins breathe the warm
air and soak in the sunshine.  Roscoe was a yachtsman.  I had followed
the sea a bit.  It was inevitable that we should talk about boats.  We
talked about small boats, and the seaworthiness of small boats.  We
instanced Captain Slocum and his three years’ voyage around the world in
the _Spray_.

We asserted that we were not afraid to go around the world in a small
boat, say forty feet long.  We asserted furthermore that we would like to
do it.  We asserted finally that there was nothing in this world we’d
like better than a chance to do it.

“Let us do it,” we said . . . in fun.

Then I asked Charmian privily if she’d really care to do it, and she said
that it was too good to be true.

The next time we breathed our skins in the sand by the swimming pool I
said to Roscoe, “Let us do it.”

I was in earnest, and so was he, for he said:

“When shall we start?”

I had a house to build on the ranch, also an orchard, a vineyard, and
several hedges to plant, and a number of other things to do.  We thought
we would start in four or five years.  Then the lure of the adventure
began to grip us.  Why not start at once?  We’d never be younger, any of
us.  Let the orchard, vineyard, and hedges be growing up while we were
away.  When we came back, they would be ready for us, and we could live
in the barn while we built the house.

So the trip was decided upon, and the building of the _Snark_ began.  We
named her the _Snark_ because we could not think of any other name—this
information is given for the benefit of those who otherwise might think
there is something occult in the name.

Our friends cannot understand why we make this voyage.  They shudder, and
moan, and raise their hands.  No amount of explanation can make them
comprehend that we are moving along the line of least resistance; that it
is easier for us to go down to the sea in a small ship than to remain on
dry land, just as it is easier for them to remain on dry land than to go
down to the sea in the small ship.  This state of mind comes of an undue
prominence of the ego.  They cannot get away from themselves.  They
cannot come out of themselves long enough to see that their line of least
resistance is not necessarily everybody else’s line of least resistance.
They make of their own bundle of desires, likes, and dislikes a yardstick
wherewith to measure the desires, likes, and dislikes of all creatures.
This is unfair.  I tell them so.  But they cannot get away from their own
miserable egos long enough to hear me.  They think I am crazy.  In
return, I am sympathetic.  It is a state of mind familiar to me.  We are
all prone to think there is something wrong with the mental processes of
the man who disagrees with us.

The ultimate word is I LIKE.  It lies beneath philosophy, and is twined
about the heart of life.  When philosophy has maundered ponderously for a
month, telling the individual what he must do, the individual says, in an
instant, “I LIKE,” and does something else, and philosophy goes
glimmering.  It is I LIKE that makes the drunkard drink and the martyr
wear a hair shirt; that makes one man a reveller and another man an
anchorite; that makes one man pursue fame, another gold, another love,
and another God.  Philosophy is very often a man’s way of explaining his
own I LIKE.

But to return to the _Snark_, and why I, for one, want to journey in her
around the world.  The things I like constitute my set of values.  The
thing I like most of all is personal achievement—not achievement for the
world’s applause, but achievement for my own delight.  It is the old “I
did it!  I did it!  With my own hands I did it!”  But personal
achievement, with me, must be concrete.  I’d rather win a water-fight in
the swimming pool, or remain astride a horse that is trying to get out
from under me, than write the great American novel.  Each man to his
liking.  Some other fellow would prefer writing the great American novel
to winning the water-fight or mastering the horse.

Possibly the proudest achievement of my life, my moment of highest
living, occurred when I was seventeen.  I was in a three-masted schooner
off the coast of Japan.  We were in a typhoon.  All hands had been on
deck most of the night.  I was called from my bunk at seven in the
morning to take the wheel.  Not a stitch of canvas was set.  We were
running before it under bare poles, yet the schooner fairly tore along.
The seas were all of an eighth of a mile apart, and the wind snatched the
whitecaps from their summits, filling.  The air so thick with driving
spray that it was impossible to see more than two waves at a time.  The
schooner was almost unmanageable, rolling her rail under to starboard and
to port, veering and yawing anywhere between south-east and south-west,
and threatening, when the huge seas lifted under her quarter, to broach
to.  Had she broached to, she would ultimately have been reported lost
with all hands and no tidings.

I took the wheel.  The sailing-master watched me for a space.  He was
afraid of my youth, feared that I lacked the strength and the nerve.  But
when he saw me successfully wrestle the schooner through several bouts,
he went below to breakfast.  Fore and aft, all hands were below at
breakfast.  Had she broached to, not one of them would ever have reached
the deck.  For forty minutes I stood there alone at the wheel, in my
grasp the wildly careering schooner and the lives of twenty-two men.
Once we were pooped.  I saw it coming, and, half-drowned, with tons of
water crushing me, I checked the schooner’s rush to broach to.  At the
end of the hour, sweating and played out, I was relieved.  But I had done
it!  With my own hands I had done my trick at the wheel and guided a
hundred tons of wood and iron through a few million tons of wind and

My delight was in that I had done it—not in the fact that twenty-two men
knew I had done it.  Within the year over half of them were dead and
gone, yet my pride in the thing performed was not diminished by half.  I
am willing to confess, however, that I do like a small audience.  But it
must be a very small audience, composed of those who love me and whom I
love.  When I then accomplish personal achievement, I have a feeling that
I am justifying their love for me.  But this is quite apart from the
delight of the achievement itself.  This delight is peculiarly my own and
does not depend upon witnesses.  When I have done some such thing, I am
exalted.  I glow all over.  I am aware of a pride in myself that is mine,
and mine alone.  It is organic.  Every fibre of me is thrilling with it.
It is very natural.  It is a mere matter of satisfaction at adjustment to
environment.  It is success.

Life that lives is life successful, and success is the breath of its
nostrils.  The achievement of a difficult feat is successful adjustment
to a sternly exacting environment.  The more difficult the feat, the
greater the satisfaction at its accomplishment.  Thus it is with the man
who leaps forward from the springboard, out over the swimming pool, and
with a backward half-revolution of the body, enters the water head first.
Once he leaves the springboard his environment becomes immediately
savage, and savage the penalty it will exact should he fail and strike
the water flat.  Of course, the man does not have to run the risk of the
penalty.  He could remain on the bank in a sweet and placid environment
of summer air, sunshine, and stability.  Only he is not made that way.
In that swift mid-air moment he lives as he could never live on the bank.

As for myself, I’d rather be that man than the fellows who sit on the
bank and watch him.  That is why I am building the _Snark_.  I am so
made.  I like, that is all.  The trip around the world means big moments
of living.  Bear with me a moment and look at it.  Here am I, a little
animal called a man—a bit of vitalized matter, one hundred and sixty-five
pounds of meat and blood, nerve, sinew, bones, and brain,—all of it soft
and tender, susceptible to hurt, fallible, and frail.  I strike a light
back-handed blow on the nose of an obstreperous horse, and a bone in my
hand is broken.  I put my head under the water for five minutes, and I am
drowned.  I fall twenty feet through the air, and I am smashed.  I am a
creature of temperature.  A few degrees one way, and my fingers and ears
and toes blacken and drop off.  A few degrees the other way, and my skin
blisters and shrivels away from the raw, quivering flesh.  A few
additional degrees either way, and the life and the light in me go out.
A drop of poison injected into my body from a snake, and I cease to
move—for ever I cease to move.  A splinter of lead from a rifle enters my
head, and I am wrapped around in the eternal blackness.

Fallible and frail, a bit of pulsating, jelly-like life—it is all I am.
About me are the great natural forces—colossal menaces, Titans of
destruction, unsentimental monsters that have less concern for me than I
have for the grain of sand I crush under my foot.  They have no concern
at all for me.  They do not know me.  They are unconscious, unmerciful,
and unmoral.  They are the cyclones and tornadoes, lightning flashes and
cloud-bursts, tide-rips and tidal waves, undertows and waterspouts, great
whirls and sucks and eddies, earthquakes and volcanoes, surfs that
thunder on rock-ribbed coasts and seas that leap aboard the largest
crafts that float, crushing humans to pulp or licking them off into the
sea and to death—and these insensate monsters do not know that tiny
sensitive creature, all nerves and weaknesses, whom men call Jack London,
and who himself thinks he is all right and quite a superior being.

In the maze and chaos of the conflict of these vast and draughty Titans,
it is for me to thread my precarious way.  The bit of life that is I will
exult over them.  The bit of life that is I, in so far as it succeeds in
baffling them or in bitting them to its service, will imagine that it is
godlike.  It is good to ride the tempest and feel godlike.  I dare to
assert that for a finite speck of pulsating jelly to feel godlike is a
far more glorious feeling than for a god to feel godlike.

Here is the sea, the wind, and the wave.  Here are the seas, the winds,
and the waves of all the world.  Here is ferocious environment.  And here
is difficult adjustment, the achievement of which is delight to the small
quivering vanity that is I.  I like.  I am so made.  It is my own
particular form of vanity, that is all.

There is also another side to the voyage of the _Snark_.  Being alive, I
want to see, and all the world is a bigger thing to see than one small
town or valley.  We have done little outlining of the voyage.  Only one
thing is definite, and that is that our first port of call will be
Honolulu.  Beyond a few general ideas, we have no thought of our next
port after Hawaii.  We shall make up our minds as we get nearer, in a
general way we know that we shall wander through the South Seas, take in
Samoa, New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia, New Guinea, Borneo, and Sumatra,
and go on up through the Philippines to Japan.  Then will come Korea,
China, India, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean.  After that the voyage
becomes too vague to describe, though we know a number of things we shall
surely do, and we expect to spend from one to several months in every
country in Europe.

The _Snark_ is to be sailed.  There will be a gasolene engine on board,
but it will be used only in case of emergency, such as in bad water among
reefs and shoals, where a sudden calm in a swift current leaves a
sailing-boat helpless.  The rig of the _Snark_ is to be what is called
the “ketch.”  The ketch rig is a compromise between the yawl and the
schooner.  Of late years the yawl rig has proved the best for cruising.
The ketch retains the cruising virtues of the yawl, and in addition
manages to embrace a few of the sailing virtues of the schooner.  The
foregoing must be taken with a pinch of salt.  It is all theory in my
head.  I’ve never sailed a ketch, nor even seen one.  The theory commends
itself to me.  Wait till I get out on the ocean, then I’ll be able to
tell more about the cruising and sailing qualities of the ketch.

As originally planned, the _Snark_ was to be forty feet long on the
water-line.  But we discovered there was no space for a bath-room, and
for that reason we have increased her length to forty-five feet.  Her
greatest beam is fifteen feet.  She has no house and no hold.  There is
six feet of headroom, and the deck is unbroken save for two companionways
and a hatch for’ard.  The fact that there is no house to break the
strength of the deck will make us feel safer in case great seas thunder
their tons of water down on board.  A large and roomy cockpit, sunk
beneath the deck, with high rail and self-bailing, will make our
rough-weather days and nights more comfortable.

There will be no crew.  Or, rather, Charmian, Roscoe, and I are the crew.
We are going to do the thing with our own hands.  With our own hands
we’re going to circumnavigate the globe.  Sail her or sink her, with our
own hands we’ll do it.  Of course there will be a cook and a cabin-boy.
Why should we stew over a stove, wash dishes, and set the table?  We
could stay on land if we wanted to do those things.  Besides, we’ve got
to stand watch and work the ship.  And also, I’ve got to work at my trade
of writing in order to feed us and to get new sails and tackle and keep
the _Snark_ in efficient working order.  And then there’s the ranch; I’ve
got to keep the vineyard, orchard, and hedges growing.

When we increased the length of the _Snark_ in order to get space for a
bath-room, we found that all the space was not required by the bath-room.
Because of this, we increased the size of the engine.  Seventy
horse-power our engine is, and since we expect it to drive us along at a
nine-knot clip, we do not know the name of a river with a current swift
enough to defy us.

We expect to do a lot of inland work.  The smallness of the _Snark_ makes
this possible.  When we enter the land, out go the masts and on goes the
engine.  There are the canals of China, and the Yang-tse River.  We shall
spend months on them if we can get permission from the government.  That
will be the one obstacle to our inland voyaging—governmental permission.
But if we can get that permission, there is scarcely a limit to the
inland voyaging we can do.

When we come to the Nile, why we can go up the Nile.  We can go up the
Danube to Vienna, up the Thames to London, and we can go up the Seine to
Paris and moor opposite the Latin Quarter with a bow-line out to Notre
Dame and a stern-line fast to the Morgue.  We can leave the Mediterranean
and go up the Rhône to Lyons, there enter the Saône, cross from the Saône
to the Maine through the Canal de Bourgogne, and from the Marne enter the
Seine and go out the Seine at Havre.  When we cross the Atlantic to the
United States, we can go up the Hudson, pass through the Erie Canal,
cross the Great Lakes, leave Lake Michigan at Chicago, gain the
Mississippi by way of the Illinois River and the connecting canal, and go
down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.  And then there are the great
rivers of South America.  We’ll know something about geography when we
get back to California.

People that build houses are often sore perplexed; but if they enjoy the
strain of it, I’ll advise them to build a boat like the _Snark_.  Just
consider, for a moment, the strain of detail.  Take the engine.  What is
the best kind of engine—the two cycle? three cycle? four cycle?  My lips
are mutilated with all kinds of strange jargon, my mind is mutilated with
still stranger ideas and is foot-sore and weary from travelling in new
and rocky realms of thought.—Ignition methods; shall it be make-and-break
or jump-spark?  Shall dry cells or storage batteries be used?  A storage
battery commends itself, but it requires a dynamo.  How powerful a
dynamo?  And when we have installed a dynamo and a storage battery, it is
simply ridiculous not to light the boat with electricity.  Then comes the
discussion of how many lights and how many candle-power.  It is a
splendid idea.  But electric lights will demand a more powerful storage
battery, which, in turn, demands a more powerful dynamo.

And now that we’ve gone in for it, why not have a searchlight?  It would
be tremendously useful.  But the searchlight needs so much electricity
that when it runs it will put all the other lights out of commission.
Again we travel the weary road in the quest after more power for storage
battery and dynamo.  And then, when it is finally solved, some one asks,
“What if the engine breaks down?”  And we collapse.  There are the
sidelights, the binnacle light, and the anchor light.  Our very lives
depend upon them.  So we have to fit the boat throughout with oil lamps
as well.

But we are not done with that engine yet.  The engine is powerful.  We
are two small men and a small woman.  It will break our hearts and our
backs to hoist anchor by hand.  Let the engine do it.  And then comes the
problem of how to convey power for’ard from the engine to the winch.  And
by the time all this is settled, we redistribute the allotments of space
to the engine-room, galley, bath-room, state-rooms, and cabin, and begin
all over again.  And when we have shifted the engine, I send off a
telegram of gibberish to its makers at New York, something like this:
_Toggle-joint abandoned change thrust-bearing accordingly distance from
forward side of flywheel to face of stern post sixteen feet six inches_.

Just potter around in quest of the best steering gear, or try to decide
whether you will set up your rigging with old-fashioned lanyards or with
turnbuckles, if you want strain of detail.  Shall the binnacle be located
in front of the wheel in the centre of the beam, or shall it be located
to one side in front of the wheel?—there’s room right there for a library
of sea-dog controversy.  Then there’s the problem of gasolene, fifteen
hundred gallons of it—what are the safest ways to tank it and pipe it?
and which is the best fire-extinguisher for a gasolene fire?  Then there
is the pretty problem of the life-boat and the stowage of the same.  And
when that is finished, come the cook and cabin-boy to confront one with
nightmare possibilities.  It is a small boat, and we’ll be packed close
together.  The servant-girl problem of landsmen pales to insignificance.
We did select one cabin-boy, and by that much were our troubles eased.
And then the cabin-boy fell in love and resigned.

And in the meanwhile how is a fellow to find time to study
navigation—when he is divided between these problems and the earning of
the money wherewith to settle the problems?  Neither Roscoe nor I know
anything about navigation, and the summer is gone, and we are about to
start, and the problems are thicker than ever, and the treasury is
stuffed with emptiness.  Well, anyway, it takes years to learn
seamanship, and both of us are seamen.  If we don’t find the time, we’ll
lay in the books and instruments and teach ourselves navigation on the
ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii.

There is one unfortunate and perplexing phase of the voyage of the
_Snark_.  Roscoe, who is to be my co-navigator, is a follower of one,
Cyrus R. Teed.  Now Cyrus R. Teed has a different cosmology from the one
generally accepted, and Roscoe shares his views.  Wherefore Roscoe
believes that the surface of the earth is concave and that we live on the
inside of a hollow sphere.  Thus, though we shall sail on the one boat,
the _Snark_, Roscoe will journey around the world on the inside, while I
shall journey around on the outside.  But of this, more anon.  We
threaten to be of the one mind before the voyage is completed.  I am
confident that I shall convert him into making the journey on the
outside, while he is equally confident that before we arrive back in San
Francisco I shall be on the inside of the earth.  How he is going to get
me through the crust I don’t know, but Roscoe is ay a masterful man.

                                * * * * *

P.S.—That engine!  While we’ve got it, and the dynamo, and the storage
battery, why not have an ice-machine?  Ice in the tropics!  It is more
necessary than bread.  Here goes for the ice-machine!  Now I am plunged
into chemistry, and my lips hurt, and my mind hurts, and how am I ever to
find the time to study navigation?


“SPARE no money,” I said to Roscoe.  “Let everything on the _Snark_ be of
the best.  And never mind decoration.  Plain pine boards is good enough
finishing for me.  But put the money into the construction.  Let the
_Snark_ be as staunch and strong as any boat afloat.  Never mind what it
costs to make her staunch and strong; you see that she is made staunch
and strong, and I’ll go on writing and earning the money to pay for it.”

And I did . . . as well as I could; for the _Snark_ ate up money faster
than I could earn it.  In fact, every little while I had to borrow money
with which to supplement my earnings.  Now I borrowed one thousand
dollars, now I borrowed two thousand dollars, and now I borrowed five
thousand dollars.  And all the time I went on working every day and
sinking the earnings in the venture.  I worked Sundays as well, and I
took no holidays.  But it was worth it.  Every time I thought of the
_Snark_ I knew she was worth it.

For know, gentle reader, the staunchness of the _Snark_.  She is
forty-five feet long on the waterline.  Her garboard strake is three
inches thick; her planking two and one-half inches thick; her
deck-planking two inches thick and in all her planking there are no
butts.  I know, for I ordered that planking especially from Puget Sound.
Then the _Snark_ has four water-tight compartments, which is to say that
her length is broken by three water-tight bulkheads.  Thus, no matter how
large a leak the _Snark_ may spring, Only one compartment can fill with
water.  The other three compartments will keep her afloat, anyway, and,
besides, will enable us to mend the leak.  There is another virtue in
these bulkheads.  The last compartment of all, in the very stern,
contains six tanks that carry over one thousand gallons of gasolene.  Now
gasolene is a very dangerous article to carry in bulk on a small craft
far out on the wide ocean.  But when the six tanks that do not leak are
themselves contained in a compartment hermetically sealed off from the
rest of the boat, the danger will be seen to be very small indeed.

The _Snark_ is a sail-boat.  She was built primarily to sail.  But
incidentally, as an auxiliary, a seventy-horse-power engine was
installed.  This is a good, strong engine.  I ought to know.  I paid for
it to come out all the way from New York City.  Then, on deck, above the
engine, is a windlass.  It is a magnificent affair.  It weighs several
hundred pounds and takes up no end of deck-room.  You see, it is
ridiculous to hoist up anchor by hand-power when there is a
seventy-horse-power engine on board.  So we installed the windlass,
transmitting power to it from the engine by means of a gear and castings
specially made in a San Francisco foundry.

The _Snark_ was made for comfort, and no expense was spared in this
regard.  There is the bath-room, for instance, small and compact, it is
true, but containing all the conveniences of any bath-room upon land.
The bath-room is a beautiful dream of schemes and devices, pumps, and
levers, and sea-valves.  Why, in the course of its building, I used to
lie awake nights thinking about that bath-room.  And next to the
bath-room come the life-boat and the launch.  They are carried on deck,
and they take up what little space might have been left us for exercise.
But then, they beat life insurance; and the prudent man, even if he has
built as staunch and strong a craft as the _Snark_, will see to it that
he has a good life-boat as well.  And ours is a good one.  It is a dandy.
It was stipulated to cost one hundred and fifty dollars, and when I came
to pay the bill, it turned out to be three hundred and ninety-five
dollars.  That shows how good a life-boat it is.

I could go on at great length relating the various virtues and
excellences of the _Snark_, but I refrain.  I have bragged enough as it
is, and I have bragged to a purpose, as will be seen before my tale is
ended.  And please remember its title, “The Inconceivable and Monstrous.”
It was planned that the _Snark_ should sail on October 1, 1906.  That she
did not so sail was inconceivable and monstrous.  There was no valid
reason for not sailing except that she was not ready to sail, and there
was no conceivable reason why she was not ready.  She was promised on
November first, on November fifteenth, on December first; and yet she was
never ready.  On December first Charmian and I left the sweet, clean
Sonoma country and came down to live in the stifling city—but not for
long, oh, no, only for two weeks, for we would sail on December
fifteenth.  And I guess we ought to know, for Roscoe said so, and it was
on his advice that we came to the city to stay two weeks.  Alas, the two
weeks went by, four weeks went by, six weeks went by, eight weeks went
by, and we were farther away from sailing than ever.  Explain it?
Who?—me?  I can’t.  It is the one thing in all my life that I have backed
down on.  There is no explaining it; if there were, I’d do it.  I, who am
an artisan of speech, confess my inability to explain why the _Snark_ was
not ready.  As I have said, and as I must repeat, it was inconceivable
and monstrous.

The eight weeks became sixteen weeks, and then, one day, Roscoe cheered
us up by saying: “If we don’t sail before April first, you can use my
head for a football.”

Two weeks later he said, “I’m getting my head in training for that

“Never mind,” Charmian and I said to each other; “think of the wonderful
boat it is going to be when it is completed.”

Whereat we would rehearse for our mutual encouragement the manifold
virtues and excellences of the _Snark_.  Also, I would borrow more money,
and I would get down closer to my desk and write harder, and I refused
heroically to take a Sunday off and go out into the hills with my
friends.  I was building a boat, and by the eternal it was going to be a
boat, and a boat spelled out all in capitals—B—O—A—T; and no matter what
it cost I didn’t care.  So long as it was a B O A T.

And, oh, there is one other excellence of the _Snark_, upon which I must
brag, namely, her bow.  No sea could ever come over it.  It laughs at the
sea, that bow does; it challenges the sea; it snorts defiance at the sea.
And withal it is a beautiful bow; the lines of it are dreamlike; I doubt
if ever a boat was blessed with a more beautiful and at the same time a
more capable bow.  It was made to punch storms.  To touch that bow is to
rest one’s hand on the cosmic nose of things.  To look at it is to
realize that expense cut no figure where it was concerned.  And every
time our sailing was delayed, or a new expense was tacked on, we thought
of that wonderful bow and were content.

The _Snark_ is a small boat.  When I figured seven thousand dollars as
her generous cost, I was both generous and correct.  I have built barns
and houses, and I know the peculiar trait such things have of running
past their estimated cost.  This knowledge was mine, was already mine,
when I estimated the probable cost of the building of the _Snark_ at
seven thousand dollars.  Well, she cost thirty thousand.  Now don’t ask
me, please.  It is the truth.  I signed the cheques and I raised the
money.  Of course there is no explaining it, inconceivable and monstrous
is what it is, as you will agree, I know, ere my tale is done.

Then there was the matter of delay.  I dealt with forty-seven different
kinds of union men and with one hundred and fifteen different firms.  And
not one union man and not one firm of all the union men and all the firms
ever delivered anything at the time agreed upon, nor ever was on time for
anything except pay-day and bill-collection.  Men pledged me their
immortal souls that they would deliver a certain thing on a certain date;
as a rule, after such pledging, they rarely exceeded being three months
late in delivery.  And so it went, and Charmian and I consoled each other
by saying what a splendid boat the _Snark_ was, so staunch and strong;
also, we would get into the small boat and row around the _Snark_, and
gloat over her unbelievably wonderful bow.

“Think,” I would say to Charmian, “of a gale off the China coast, and of
the _Snark_ hove to, that splendid bow of hers driving into the storm.
Not a drop will come over that bow.  She’ll be as dry as a feather, and
we’ll be all below playing whist while the gale howls.”

And Charmian would press my hand enthusiastically and exclaim: “It’s
worth every bit of it—the delay, and expense, and worry, and all the
rest.  Oh, what a truly wonderful boat!”

Whenever I looked at the bow of the _Snark_ or thought of her water-tight
compartments, I was encouraged.  Nobody else, however, was encouraged.
My friends began to make bets against the various sailing dates of the
_Snark_.  Mr. Wiget, who was left behind in charge of our Sonoma ranch
was the first to cash his bet.  He collected on New Year’s Day, 1907.
After that the bets came fast and furious.  My friends surrounded me like
a gang of harpies, making bets against every sailing date I set.  I was
rash, and I was stubborn.  I bet, and I bet, and I continued to bet; and
I paid them all.  Why, the women-kind of my friends grew so brave that
those among them who never bet before began to bet with me.  And I paid
them, too.

“Never mind,” said Charmian to me; “just think of that bow and of being
hove to on the China Seas.”

“You see,” I said to my friends, when I paid the latest bunch of wagers,
“neither trouble nor cash is being spared in making the _Snark_ the most
seaworthy craft that ever sailed out through the Golden Gate—that is what
causes all the delay.”

In the meantime editors and publishers with whom I had contracts pestered
me with demands for explanations.  But how could I explain to them, when
I was unable to explain to myself, or when there was nobody, not even
Roscoe, to explain to me?  The newspapers began to laugh at me, and to
publish rhymes anent the _Snark’s_ departure with refrains like, “Not
yet, but soon.”  And Charmian cheered me up by reminding me of the bow,
and I went to a banker and borrowed five thousand more.  There was one
recompense for the delay, however.  A friend of mine, who happens to be a
critic, wrote a roast of me, of all I had done, and of all I ever was
going to do; and he planned to have it published after I was out on the
ocean.  I was still on shore when it came out, and he has been busy
explaining ever since.

And the time continued to go by.  One thing was becoming apparent,
namely, that it was impossible to finish the _Snark_ in San Francisco.
She had been so long in the building that she was beginning to break down
and wear out.  In fact, she had reached the stage where she was breaking
down faster than she could be repaired.  She had become a joke.  Nobody
took her seriously; least of all the men who worked on her.  I said we
would sail just as she was and finish building her in Honolulu.  Promptly
she sprang a leak that had to be attended to before we could sail.  I
started her for the boat-ways.  Before she got to them she was caught
between two huge barges and received a vigorous crushing.  We got her on
the ways, and, part way along, the ways spread and dropped her through,
stern-first, into the mud.

It was a pretty tangle, a job for wreckers, not boat-builders.  There are
two high tides every twenty-four hours, and at every high tide, night and
day, for a week, there were two steam tugs pulling and hauling on the
_Snark_.  There she was, stuck, fallen between the ways and standing on
her stern.  Next, and while still in that predicament, we started to use
the gears and castings made in the local foundry whereby power was
conveyed from the engine to the windlass.  It was the first time we ever
tried to use that windlass.  The castings had flaws; they shattered
asunder, the gears ground together, and the windlass was out of
commission.  Following upon that, the seventy-horse-power engine went out
of commission.  This engine came from New York; so did its bed-plate;
there was a flaw in the bed-plate; there were a lot of flaws in the
bed-plate; and the seventy-horse-power engine broke away from its
shattered foundations, reared up in the air, smashed all connections and
fastenings, and fell over on its side.  And the _Snark_ continued to
stick between the spread ways, and the two tugs continued to haul vainly
upon her.

“Never mind,” said Charmian, “think of what a staunch, strong boat she

“Yes,” said I, “and of that beautiful bow.”

So we took heart and went at it again.  The ruined engine was lashed down
on its rotten foundation; the smashed castings and cogs of the power
transmission were taken down and stored away—all for the purpose of
taking them to Honolulu where repairs and new castings could be made.
Somewhere in the dim past the _Snark_ had received on the outside one
coat of white paint.  The intention of the colour was still evident,
however, when one got it in the right light.  The _Snark_ had never
received any paint on the inside.  On the contrary, she was coated inches
thick with the grease and tobacco-juice of the multitudinous mechanics
who had toiled upon her.  Never mind, we said; the grease and filth could
be planed off, and later, when we fetched Honolulu, the _Snark_ could be
painted at the same time as she was being rebuilt.

By main strength and sweat we dragged the _Snark_ off from the wrecked
ways and laid her alongside the Oakland City Wharf.  The drays brought
all the outfit from home, the books and blankets and personal luggage.
Along with this, everything else came on board in a torrent of
confusion—wood and coal, water and water-tanks, vegetables, provisions,
oil, the life-boat and the launch, all our friends, all the friends of
our friends and those who claimed to be their friends, to say nothing of
some of the friends of the friends of the friends of our crew.  Also
there were reporters, and photographers, and strangers, and cranks, and
finally, and over all, clouds of coal-dust from the wharf.

We were to sail Sunday at eleven, and Saturday afternoon had arrived.
The crowd on the wharf and the coal-dust were thicker than ever.  In one
pocket I carried a cheque-book, a fountain-pen, a dater, and a blotter;
in another pocket I carried between one and two thousand dollars in paper
money and gold.  I was ready for the creditors, cash for the small ones
and cheques for the large ones, and was waiting only for Roscoe to arrive
with the balances of the accounts of the hundred and fifteen firms who
had delayed me so many months.  And then—

And then the inconceivable and monstrous happened once more.  Before
Roscoe could arrive there arrived another man.  He was a United States
marshal.  He tacked a notice on the _Snark’s_ brave mast so that all on
the wharf could read that the _Snark_ had been libelled for debt.  The
marshal left a little old man in charge of the _Snark_, and himself went
away.  I had no longer any control of the _Snark_, nor of her wonderful
bow.  The little old man was now her lord and master, and I learned that
I was paying him three dollars a day for being lord and master.  Also, I
learned the name of the man who had libelled the _Snark_.  It was
Sellers; the debt was two hundred and thirty-two dollars; and the deed
was no more than was to be expected from the possessor of such a name.
Sellers!  Ye gods!  Sellers!

But who under the sun was Sellers?  I looked in my cheque-book and saw
that two weeks before I had made him out a cheque for five hundred
dollars.  Other cheque-books showed me that during the many months of the
building of the _Snark_ I had paid him several thousand dollars.  Then
why in the name of common decency hadn’t he tried to collect his
miserable little balance instead of libelling the _Snark_?  I thrust my
hands into my pockets, and in one pocket encountered the cheque-hook and
the dater and the pen, and in the other pocket the gold money and the
paper money.  There was the wherewithal to settle his pitiful account a
few score of times and over—why hadn’t he given me a chance?  There was
no explanation; it was merely the inconceivable and monstrous.

To make the matter worse, the _Snark_ had been libelled late Saturday
afternoon; and though I sent lawyers and agents all over Oakland and San
Francisco, neither United States judge, nor United States marshal, nor
Mr. Sellers, nor Mr. Sellers’ attorney, nor anybody could be found.  They
were all out of town for the weekend.  And so the _Snark_ did not sail
Sunday morning at eleven.  The little old man was still in charge, and he
said no.  And Charmian and I walked out on an opposite wharf and took
consolation in the _Snark’s_ wonderful bow and thought of all the gales
and typhoons it would proudly punch.

“A bourgeois trick,” I said to Charmian, speaking of Mr. Sellers and his
libel; “a petty trader’s panic.  But never mind; our troubles will cease
when once we are away from this and out on the wide ocean.”

And in the end we sailed away, on Tuesday morning, April 23, 1907.  We
started rather lame, I confess.  We had to hoist anchor by hand, because
the power transmission was a wreck.  Also, what remained of our
seventy-horse-power engine was lashed down for ballast on the bottom of
the _Snark_.  But what of such things?  They could be fixed in Honolulu,
and in the meantime think of the magnificent rest of the boat!  It is
true, the engine in the launch wouldn’t run, and the life-boat leaked
like a sieve; but then they weren’t the _Snark_; they were mere
appurtenances.  The things that counted were the water-tight bulkheads,
the solid planking without butts, the bath-room devices—they were the
_Snark_.  And then there was, greatest of all, that noble, wind-punching

We sailed out through the Golden Gate and set our course south toward
that part of the Pacific where we could hope to pick up with the
north-east trades.  And right away things began to happen.  I had
calculated that youth was the stuff for a voyage like that of the
_Snark_, and I had taken three youths—the engineer, the cook, and the
cabin-boy.  My calculation was only two-thirds _off_; I had forgotten to
calculate on seasick youth, and I had two of them, the cook and the cabin
boy.  They immediately took to their bunks, and that was the end of their
usefulness for a week to come.  It will be understood, from the
foregoing, that we did not have the hot meals we might have had, nor were
things kept clean and orderly down below.  But it did not matter very
much anyway, for we quickly discovered that our box of oranges had at
some time been frozen; that our box of apples was mushy and spoiling;
that the crate of cabbages, spoiled before it was ever delivered to us,
had to go overboard instanter; that kerosene had been spilled on the
carrots, and that the turnips were woody and the beets rotten, while the
kindling was dead wood that wouldn’t burn, and the coal, delivered in
rotten potato-sacks, had spilled all over the deck and was washing
through the scuppers.

But what did it matter?  Such things were mere accessories.  There was
the boat—she was all right, wasn’t she?  I strolled along the deck and in
one minute counted fourteen butts in the beautiful planking ordered
specially from Puget Sound in order that there should be no butts in it.
Also, that deck leaked, and it leaked badly.  It drowned Roscoe out of
his bunk and ruined the tools in the engine-room, to say nothing of the
provisions it ruined in the galley.  Also, the sides of the _Snark_
leaked, and the bottom leaked, and we had to pump her every day to keep
her afloat.  The floor of the galley is a couple of feet above the inside
bottom of the _Snark_; and yet I have stood on the floor of the galley,
trying to snatch a cold bite, and been wet to the knees by the water
churning around inside four hours after the last pumping.

Then those magnificent water-tight compartments that cost so much time
and money—well, they weren’t water-tight after all.  The water moved free
as the air from one compartment to another; furthermore, a strong smell
of gasolene from the after compartment leads me to suspect that some one
or more of the half-dozen tanks there stored have sprung a leak.  The
tanks leak, and they are not hermetically sealed in their compartment.
Then there was the bath-room with its pumps and levers and sea-valves—it
went out of commission inside the first twenty hours.  Powerful iron
levers broke off short in one’s hand when one tried to pump with them.
The bath-room was the swiftest wreck of any portion of the _Snark_.

And the iron-work on the _Snark_, no matter what its source, proved to be
mush.  For instance, the bed-plate of the engine came from New York, and
it was mush; so were the casting and gears for the windlass that came
from San Francisco.  And finally, there was the wrought iron used in the
rigging, that carried away in all directions when the first strains were
put upon it.  Wrought iron, mind you, and it snapped like macaroni.

A gooseneck on the gaff of the mainsail broke short off.  We replaced it
with the gooseneck from the gaff of the storm trysail, and the second
gooseneck broke short off inside fifteen minutes of use, and, mind you,
it had been taken from the gaff of the storm trysail, upon which we would
have depended in time of storm.  At the present moment the _Snark_ trails
her mainsail like a broken wing, the gooseneck being replaced by a rough
lashing.  We’ll see if we can get honest iron in Honolulu.

Man had betrayed us and sent us to sea in a sieve, but the Lord must have
loved us, for we had calm weather in which to learn that we must pump
every day in order to keep afloat, and that more trust could be placed in
a wooden toothpick than in the most massive piece of iron to be found
aboard.  As the staunchness and the strength of the _Snark_ went
glimmering, Charmian and I pinned our faith more and more to the
_Snark’s_ wonderful bow.  There was nothing else left to pin to.  It was
all inconceivable and monstrous, we knew, but that bow, at least, was
rational.  And then, one evening, we started to heave to.

How shall I describe it?  First of all, for the benefit of the tyro, let
me explain that heaving to is that sea manœuvre which, by means of short
and balanced canvas, compels a vessel to ride bow-on to wind and sea.
When the wind is too strong, or the sea is too high, a vessel of the size
of the _Snark_ can heave to with ease, whereupon there is no more work to
do on deck.  Nobody needs to steer.  The lookout is superfluous.  All
hands can go below and sleep or play whist.

Well, it was blowing half of a small summer gale, when I told Roscoe we’d
heave to.  Night was coming on.  I had been steering nearly all day, and
all hands on deck (Roscoe and Bert and Charmian) were tired, while all
hands below were seasick.  It happened that we had already put two reefs
in the big mainsail.  The flying-jib and the jib were taken in, and a
reef put in the fore-staysail.  The mizzen was also taken in.  About this
time the flying jib-boom buried itself in a sea and broke short off.  I
started to put the wheel down in order to heave to.  The _Snark_ at the
moment was rolling in the trough.  She continued rolling in the trough.
I put the spokes down harder and harder.  She never budged from the
trough.  (The trough, gentle reader, is the most dangerous position all
in which to lay a vessel.)  I put the wheel hard down, and still the
_Snark_ rolled in the trough.  Eight points was the nearest I could get
her to the wind.  I had Roscoe and Bert come in on the main-sheet.  The
_Snark_ rolled on in the trough, now putting her rail under on one side
and now under on the other side.

Again the inconceivable and monstrous was showing its grizzly head.  It
was grotesque, impossible.  I refused to believe it.  Under double-reefed
mainsail and single-reefed staysail the _Snark_ refused to heave to.  We
flattened the mainsail down.  It did not alter the _Snark’s_ course a
tenth of a degree.  We slacked the mainsail off with no more result.  We
set a storm trysail on the mizzen, and took in the mainsail.  No change.
The _Snark_ roiled on in the trough.  That beautiful bow of hers refused
to come up and face the wind.

Next we took in the reefed staysail.  Thus, the only bit of canvas left
on her was the storm trysail on the mizzen.  If anything would bring her
bow up to the wind, that would.  Maybe you won’t believe me when I say it
failed, but I do say it failed.  And I say it failed because I saw it
fail, and not because I believe it failed.  I don’t believe it did fail.
It is unbelievable, and I am not telling you what I believe; I am telling
you what I saw.

Now, gentle reader, what would you do if you were on a small boat,
rolling in the trough of the sea, a trysail on that small boat’s stern
that was unable to swing the bow up into the wind?  Get out the
sea-anchor.  It’s just what we did.  We had a patent one, made to order
and warranted not to dive.  Imagine a hoop of steel that serves to keep
open the mouth of a large, conical, canvas bag, and you have a
sea-anchor.  Well, we made a line fast to the sea-anchor and to the bow
of the _Snark_, and then dropped the sea-anchor overboard.  It promptly
dived.  We had a tripping line on it, so we tripped the sea-anchor and
hauled it in.  We attached a big timber as a float, and dropped the
sea-anchor over again.  This time it floated.  The line to the bow grew
taut.  The trysail on the mizzen tended to swing the bow into the wind,
but, in spite of this tendency, the _Snark_ calmly took that sea-anchor
in her teeth, and went on ahead, dragging it after her, still in the
trough of the sea.  And there you are.  We even took in the trysail,
hoisted the full mizzen in its place, and hauled the full mizzen down
flat, and the _Snark_ wallowed in the trough and dragged the sea-anchor
behind her.  Don’t believe me.  I don’t believe it myself.  I am merely
telling you what I saw.

Now I leave it to you.  Who ever heard of a sailing-boat that wouldn’t
heave to?—that wouldn’t heave to with a sea-anchor to help it?  Out of my
brief experience with boats I know I never did.  And I stood on deck and
looked on the naked face of the inconceivable and monstrous—the _Snark_
that wouldn’t heave to.  A stormy night with broken moonlight had come
on.  There was a splash of wet in the air, and up to windward there was a
promise of rain-squalls; and then there was the trough of the sea, cold
and cruel in the moonlight, in which the _Snark_ complacently rolled.
And then we took in the sea-anchor and the mizzen, hoisted the reefed
staysail, ran the _Snark_ off before it, and went below—not to the hot
meal that should have awaited us, but to skate across the slush and slime
on the cabin floor, where cook and cabin-boy lay like dead men in their
bunks, and to lie down in our own bunks, with our clothes on ready for a
call, and to listen to the bilge-water spouting knee-high on the galley

In the Bohemian Club of San Francisco there are some crack sailors.  I
know, because I heard them pass judgment on the _Snark_ during the
process of her building.  They found only one vital thing the matter with
her, and on this they were all agreed, namely, that she could not run.
She was all right in every particular, they said, except that I’d never
be able to run her before it in a stiff wind and sea.  “Her lines,” they
explained enigmatically, “it is the fault of her lines.  She simply
cannot be made to run, that is all.”  Well, I wish I’d only had those
crack sailors of the Bohemian Club on board the _Snark_ the other night
for them to see for themselves their one, vital, unanimous judgment
absolutely reversed.  Run?  It is the one thing the _Snark_ does to
perfection.  Run?  She ran with a sea-anchor fast for’ard and a full
mizzen flattened down aft.  Run?  At the present moment, as I write this,
we are bowling along before it, at a six-knot clip, in the north-east
trades.  Quite a tidy bit of sea is running.  There is nobody at the
wheel, the wheel is not even lashed and is set over a half-spoke weather
helm.  To be precise, the wind is north-east; the _Snark’s_ mizzen is
furled, her mainsail is over to starboard, her head-sheets are hauled
flat: and the _Snark’s_ course is south-south-west.  And yet there are
men who have sailed the seas for forty years and who hold that no boat
can run before it without being steered.  They’ll call me a liar when
they read this; it’s what they called Captain Slocum when he said the
same of his _Spray_.

As regards the future of the _Snark_ I’m all at sea.  I don’t know.  If I
had the money or the credit, I’d build another _Snark_ that _would_ heave
to.  But I am at the end of my resources.  I’ve got to put up with the
present _Snark_ or quit—and I can’t quit.  So I guess I’ll have to try to
get along with heaving the _Snark_ to stern first.  I am waiting for the
next gale to see how it will work.  I think it can be done.  It all
depends on how her stern takes the seas.  And who knows but that some
wild morning on the China Sea, some gray-beard skipper will stare, rub
his incredulous eyes and stare again, at the spectacle of a weird, small
craft very much like the _Snark_, hove to stern-first and riding out the

P.S.  On my return to California after the voyage, I learned that the
_Snark_ was forty-three feet on the water-line instead of forty-five.
This was due to the fact that the builder was not on speaking terms with
the tape-line or two-foot rule.


NO, adventure is not dead, and in spite of the steam engine and of Thomas
Cook & Son.  When the announcement of the contemplated voyage of the
_Snark_ was made, young men of “roving disposition” proved to be legion,
and young women as well—to say nothing of the elderly men and women who
volunteered for the voyage.  Why, among my personal friends there were at
least half a dozen who regretted their recent or imminent marriages; and
there was one marriage I know of that almost failed to come off because
of the _Snark_.

                                * * * * *

Every mail to me was burdened with the letters of applicants who were
suffocating in the “man-stifled towns,” and it soon dawned upon me that a
twentieth century Ulysses required a corps of stenographers to clear his
correspondence before setting sail.  No, adventure is certainly not
dead—not while one receives letters that begin:

“There is no doubt that when you read this soul-plea from a female
stranger in New York City,” etc.; and wherein one learns, a little
farther on, that this female stranger weighs only ninety pounds, wants to
be cabin-boy, and “yearns to see the countries of the world.”

The possession of a “passionate fondness for geography,” was the way one
applicant expressed the wander-lust that was in him; while another wrote,
“I am cursed with an eternal yearning to be always on the move,
consequently this letter to you.”  But best of all was the fellow who
said he wanted to come because his feet itched.

There were a few who wrote anonymously, suggesting names of friends and
giving said friends’ qualifications; but to me there was a hint of
something sinister in such proceedings, and I went no further in the

With two or three exceptions, all the hundreds that volunteered for my
crew were very much in earnest.  Many of them sent their photographs.
Ninety per cent. offered to work in any capacity, and ninety-nine per
cent. offered to work without salary.  “Contemplating your voyage on the
_Snark_,” said one, “and notwithstanding its attendant dangers, to
accompany you (in any capacity whatever) would be the climax of my
ambitions.”  Which reminds me of the young fellow who was “seventeen
years old and ambicious,” and who, at the end of his letter, earnestly
requested “but please do not let this git into the papers or magazines.”
Quite different was the one who said, “I would be willing to work like
hell and not demand pay.”  Almost all of them wanted me to telegraph, at
their expense, my acceptance of their services; and quite a number
offered to put up a bond to guarantee their appearance on sailing date.

Some were rather vague in their own minds concerning the work to be done
on the _Snark_; as, for instance, the one who wrote: “I am taking the
liberty of writing you this note to find out if there would be any
possibility of my going with you as one of the crew of your boat to make
sketches and illustrations.”  Several, unaware of the needful work on a
small craft like the _Snark_, offered to serve, as one of them phrased
it, “as assistant in filing materials collected for books and novels.”
That’s what one gets for being prolific.

“Let me give my qualifications for the job,” wrote one.  “I am an orphan
living with my uncle, who is a hot revolutionary socialist and who says a
man without the red blood of adventure is an animated dish-rag.”  Said
another: “I can swim some, though I don’t know any of the new strokes.
But what is more important than strokes, the water is a friend of mine.”
“If I was put alone in a sail-boat, I could get her anywhere I wanted to
go,” was the qualification of a third—and a better qualification than the
one that follows, “I have also watched the fish-boats unload.”  But
possibly the prize should go to this one, who very subtly conveys his
deep knowledge of the world and life by saying: “My age, in years, is

Then there were the simple straight-out, homely, and unadorned letters of
young boys, lacking in the felicities of expression, it is true, but
desiring greatly to make the voyage.  These were the hardest of all to
decline, and each time I declined one it seemed as if I had struck Youth
a slap in the face.  They were so earnest, these boys, they wanted so
much to go.  “I am sixteen but large for my age,” said one; and another,
“Seventeen but large and healthy.”  “I am as strong at least as the
average boy of my size,” said an evident weakling.  “Not afraid of any
kind of work,” was what many said, while one in particular, to lure me no
doubt by inexpensiveness, wrote: “I can pay my way to the Pacific coast,
so that part would probably be acceptable to you.”  “Going around the
world is _the one thing_ I want to do,” said one, and it seemed to be the
one thing that a few hundred wanted to do.  “I have no one who cares
whether I go or not,” was the pathetic note sounded by another.  One had
sent his photograph, and speaking of it, said, “I’m a homely-looking sort
of a chap, but looks don’t always count.”  And I am confident that the
lad who wrote the following would have turned out all right: “My age is
19 years, but I am rather small and consequently won’t take up much room,
but I’m tough as the devil.”  And there was one thirteen-year-old
applicant that Charmian and I fell in love with, and it nearly broke our
hearts to refuse him.

But it must not be imagined that most of my volunteers were boys; on the
contrary, boys constituted a very small proportion.  There were men and
women from every walk in life.  Physicians, surgeons, and dentists
offered in large numbers to come along, and, like all the professional
men, offered to come without pay, to serve in any capacity, and to pay,
even, for the privilege of so serving.

There was no end of compositors and reporters who wanted to come, to say
nothing of experienced valets, chefs, and stewards.  Civil engineers were
keen on the voyage; “lady” companions galore cropped up for Charmian;
while I was deluged with the applications of would-be private
secretaries.  Many high school and university students yearned for the
voyage, and every trade in the working class developed a few applicants,
the machinists, electricians, and engineers being especially strong on
the trip.  I was surprised at the number, who, in musty law offices,
heard the call of adventure; and I was more than surprised by the number
of elderly and retired sea captains who were still thralls to the sea.
Several young fellows, with millions coming to them later on, were wild
for the adventure, as were also several county superintendents of

Fathers and sons wanted to come, and many men with their wives, to say
nothing of the young woman stenographer who wrote: “Write immediately if
you need me.  I shall bring my typewriter on the first train.”  But the
best of all is the following—observe the delicate way in which he worked
in his wife: “I thought I would drop you a line of inquiry as to the
possibility of making the trip with you, am 24 years of age, married and
broke, and a trip of that kind would be just what we are looking for.”

Come to think of it, for the average man it must be fairly difficult to
write an honest letter of self-recommendation.  One of my correspondents
was so stumped that he began his letter with the words, “This is a hard
task”; and, after vainly trying to describe his good points, he wound up
with, “It is a hard job writing about one’s self.”  Nevertheless, there
was one who gave himself a most glowing and lengthy character, and in
conclusion stated that he had greatly enjoyed writing it.

“But suppose this: your cabin-boy could run your engine, could repair it
when out of order.  Suppose he could take his turn at the wheel, could do
any carpenter or machinist work.  Suppose he is strong, healthy, and
willing to work.  Would you not rather have him than a kid that gets
seasick and can’t do anything but wash dishes?”  It was letters of this
sort that I hated to decline.  The writer of it, self-taught in English,
had been only two years in the United States, and, as he said, “I am not
wishing to go with you to earn my living, but I wish to learn and see.”
At the time of writing to me he was a designer for one of the big motor
manufacturing companies; he had been to sea quite a bit, and had been
used all his life to the handling of small boats.

“I have a good position, but it matters not so with me as I prefer
travelling,” wrote another.  “As to salary, look at me, and if I am worth
a dollar or two, all right, and if I am not, nothing said.  As to my
honesty and character, I shall be pleased to show you my employers.
Never drink, no tobacco, but to be honest, I myself, after a little more
experience, want to do a little writing.”

“I can assure you that I am eminently respectable, but find other
respectable people tiresome.”  The man who wrote the foregoing certainly
had me guessing, and I am still wondering whether or not he’d have found
me tiresome, or what the deuce he did mean.

“I have seen better days than what I am passing through to-day,” wrote an
old salt, “but I have seen them a great deal worse also.”

But the willingness to sacrifice on the part of the man who wrote the
following was so touching that I could not accept: “I have a father, a
mother, brothers and sisters, dear friends and a lucrative position, and
yet I will sacrifice all to become one of your crew.”

Another volunteer I could never have accepted was the finicky young
fellow who, to show me how necessary it was that I should give him a
chance, pointed out that “to go in the ordinary boat, be it schooner or
steamer, would be impracticable, for I would have to mix among and live
with the ordinary type of seamen, which as a rule is not a clean sort of

Then there was the young fellow of twenty-six, who had “run through the
gamut of human emotions,” and had “done everything from cooking to
attending Stanford University,” and who, at the present writing, was “A
vaquero on a fifty-five-thousand-acre range.”  Quite in contrast was the
modesty of the one who said, “I am not aware of possessing any particular
qualities that would be likely to recommend me to your consideration.
But should you be impressed, you might consider it worth a few minutes’
time to answer.  Otherwise, there’s always work at the trade.  Not
expecting, but hoping, I remain, etc.”

But I have held my head in both my hands ever since, trying to figure out
the intellectual kinship between myself and the one who wrote: “Long
before I knew of you, I had mixed political economy and history and
deducted therefrom many of your conclusions in concrete.”

Here, in its way, is one of the best, as it is the briefest, that I
received: “If any of the present company signed on for cruise happens to
get cold feet and you need one more who understands boating, engines,
etc., would like to hear from you, etc.”  Here is another brief one:
“Point blank, would like to have the job of cabin-boy on your trip around
the world, or any other job on board.  Am nineteen years old, weigh one
hundred and forty pounds, and am an American.”

And here is a good one from a man a “little over five feet long”: “When I
read about your manly plan of sailing around the world in a small boat
with Mrs. London, I was so much rejoiced that I felt I was planning it
myself, and I thought to write you about filling either position of cook
or cabin-boy myself, but for some reason I did not do it, and I came to
Denver from Oakland to join my friend’s business last month, but
everything is worse and unfavourable.  But fortunately you have postponed
your departure on account of the great earthquake, so I finally decided
to propose you to let me fill either of the positions.  I am not very
strong, being a man of a little over five feet long, although I am of
sound health and capability.”

“I think I can add to your outfit an additional method of utilizing the
power of the wind,” wrote a well-wisher, “which, while not interfering
with ordinary sails in light breezes, will enable you to use the whole
force of the wind in its mightiest blows, so that even when its force is
so great that you may have to take in every inch of canvas used in the
ordinary way, you may carry the fullest spread with my method.  With my
attachment your craft could not be UPSET.”

The foregoing letter was written in San Francisco under the date of April
16, 1906.  And two days later, on April 18, came the Great Earthquake.
And that’s why I’ve got it in for that earthquake, for it made a refugee
out of the man who wrote the letter, and prevented us from ever getting

Many of my brother socialists objected to my making the cruise, of which
the following is typical: “The Socialist Cause and the millions of
oppressed victims of Capitalism has a right and claim upon your life and
services.  If, however, you persist, then, when you swallow the last
mouthful of salt chuck you can hold before sinking, remember that we at
least protested.”

One wanderer over the world who “could, if opportunity afforded, recount
many unusual scenes and events,” spent several pages ardently trying to
get to the point of his letter, and at last achieved the following:
“Still I am neglecting the point I set out to write you about.  So will
say at once that it has been stated in print that you and one or two
others are going to take a cruize around the world a little fifty- or
sixty-foot boat.  I therefore cannot get myself to think that a man of
your attainments and experience would attempt such a proceeding, which is
nothing less than courting death in that way.  And even if you were to
escape for some time, your whole Person, and those with you would be
bruised from the ceaseless motion of a craft of the above size, even if
she were padded, a thing not usual at sea.”  Thank you, kind friend,
thank you for that qualification, “a thing not usual at sea.”  Nor is
this friend ignorant of the sea.  As he says of himself, “I am not a
land-lubber, and I have sailed every sea and ocean.”  And he winds up his
letter with: “Although not wishing to offend, it would be madness to take
any woman outside the bay even, in such a craft.”

And yet, at the moment of writing this, Charmian is in her state-room at
the typewriter, Martin is cooking dinner, Tochigi is setting the table,
Roscoe and Bert are caulking the deck, and the _Snark_ is steering
herself some five knots an hour in a rattling good sea—and the _Snark_ is
not padded, either.

“Seeing a piece in the paper about your intended trip, would like to know
if you would like a good crew, as there is six of us boys all good sailor
men, with good discharges from the Navy and Merchant Service, all true
Americans, all between the ages of 20 and 22, and at present are employed
as riggers at the Union Iron Works, and would like very much to sail with
you.”—It was letters like this that made me regret the boat was not

And here writes the one woman in all the world—outside of Charmian—for
the cruise: “If you have not succeeded in getting a cook I would like
very much to take the trip in that capacity.  I am a woman of fifty,
healthy and capable, and can do the work for the small company that
compose the crew of the _Snark_.  I am a very good cook and a very good
sailor and something of a traveller, and the length of the voyage, if of
ten years’ duration, would suit me better than one.  References, etc.”

Some day, when I have made a lot of money, I’m going to build a big ship,
with room in it for a thousand volunteers.  They will have to do all the
work of navigating that boat around the world, or they’ll stay at home.
I believe that they’ll work the boat around the world, for I know that
Adventure is not dead.  I know Adventure is not dead because I have had a
long and intimate correspondence with Adventure.


“BUT,” our friends objected, “how dare you go to sea without a navigator
on board?  You’re not a navigator, are you?”

I had to confess that I was not a navigator, that I had never looked
through a sextant in my life, and that I doubted if I could tell a
sextant from a nautical almanac.  And when they asked if Roscoe was a
navigator, I shook my head.  Roscoe resented this.  He had glanced at the
“Epitome,” bought for our voyage, knew how to use logarithm tables, had
seen a sextant at some time, and, what of this and of his seafaring
ancestry, he concluded that he did know navigation.  But Roscoe was
wrong, I still insist.  When a young boy he came from Maine to California
by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and that was the only time in his life
that he was out of sight of land.  He had never gone to a school of
navigation, nor passed an examination in the same; nor had he sailed the
deep sea and learned the art from some other navigator.  He was a San
Francisco Bay yachtsman, where land is always only several miles away and
the art of navigation is never employed.

So the _Snark_ started on her long voyage without a navigator.  We beat
through the Golden Gate on April 23, and headed for the Hawaiian Islands,
twenty-one hundred sea-miles away as the gull flies.  And the outcome was
our justification.  We arrived.  And we arrived, furthermore, without any
trouble, as you shall see; that is, without any trouble to amount to
anything.  To begin with, Roscoe tackled the navigating.  He had the
theory all right, but it was the first time he had ever applied it, as
was evidenced by the erratic behaviour of the _Snark_.  Not but what the
_Snark_ was perfectly steady on the sea; the pranks she cut were on the
chart.  On a day with a light breeze she would make a jump on the chart
that advertised “a wet sail and a flowing sheet,” and on a day when she
just raced over the ocean, she scarcely changed her position on the
chart.  Now when one’s boat has logged six knots for twenty-four
consecutive hours, it is incontestable that she has covered one hundred
and forty-four miles of ocean.  The ocean was all right, and so was the
patent log; as for speed, one saw it with his own eyes.  Therefore the
thing that was not all right was the figuring that refused to boost the
_Snark_ along over the chart.  Not that this happened every day, but that
it did happen.  And it was perfectly proper and no more than was to be
expected from a first attempt at applying a theory.

The acquisition of the knowledge of navigation has a strange effect on
the minds of men.  The average navigator speaks of navigation with deep
respect.  To the layman navigation is a deed and awful mystery, which
feeling has been generated in him by the deep and awful respect for
navigation that the layman has seen displayed by navigators.  I have
known frank, ingenuous, and modest young men, open as the day, to learn
navigation and at once betray secretiveness, reserve, and self-importance
as if they had achieved some tremendous intellectual attainment.  The
average navigator impresses the layman as a priest of some holy rite.
With bated breath, the amateur yachtsman navigator invites one in to look
at his chronometer.  And so it was that our friends suffered such
apprehension at our sailing without a navigator.

During the building of the _Snark_, Roscoe and I had an agreement,
something like this: “I’ll furnish the books and instruments,” I said,
“and do you study up navigation now.  I’ll be too busy to do any
studying.  Then, when we get to sea, you can teach me what you have
learned.”  Roscoe was delighted.  Furthermore, Roscoe was as frank and
ingenuous and modest as the young men I have described.  But when we got
out to sea and he began to practise the holy rite, while I looked on
admiringly, a change, subtle and distinctive, marked his bearing.  When
he shot the sun at noon, the glow of achievement wrapped him in lambent
flame.  When he went below, figured out his observation, and then
returned on deck and announced our latitude and longitude, there was an
authoritative ring in his voice that was new to all of us.  But that was
not the worst of it.  He became filled with incommunicable information.
And the more he discovered the reasons for the erratic jumps of the
_Snark_ over the chart, and the less the _Snark_ jumped, the more
incommunicable and holy and awful became his information.  My mild
suggestions that it was about time that I began to learn, met with no
hearty response, with no offers on his part to help me.  He displayed not
the slightest intention of living up to our agreement.

Now this was not Roscoe’s fault; he could not help it.  He had merely
gone the way of all the men who learned navigation before him.  By an
understandable and forgivable confusion of values, plus a loss of
orientation, he felt weighted by responsibility, and experienced the
possession of power that was like unto that of a god.  All his life
Roscoe had lived on land, and therefore in sight of land.  Being
constantly in sight of land, with landmarks to guide him, he had managed,
with occasional difficulties, to steer his body around and about the
earth.  Now he found himself on the sea, wide-stretching, bounded only by
the eternal circle of the sky.  This circle looked always the same.
There were no landmarks.  The sun rose to the east and set to the west
and the stars wheeled through the night.  But who may look at the sun or
the stars and say, “My place on the face of the earth at the present
moment is four and three-quarter miles to the west of Jones’s Cash Store
of Smithersville”? or “I know where I am now, for the Little Dipper
informs me that Boston is three miles away on the second turning to the
right”?  And yet that was precisely what Roscoe did.  That he was
astounded by the achievement, is putting it mildly.  He stood in
reverential awe of himself; he had performed a miraculous feat.  The act
of finding himself on the face of the waters became a rite, and he felt
himself a superior being to the rest of us who knew not this rite and
were dependent on him for being shepherded across the heaving and
limitless waste, the briny highroad that connects the continents and
whereon there are no mile-stones.  So, with the sextant he made obeisance
to the sun-god, he consulted ancient tomes and tables of magic
characters, muttered prayers in a strange tongue that sounded like
_Indexerrorparallaxrefraction_, made cabalistic signs on paper, added and
carried one, and then, on a piece of holy script called the Grail—I mean
the Chart—he placed his finger on a certain space conspicuous for its
blankness and said, “Here we are.”  When we looked at the blank space and
asked, “And where is that?” he answered in the cipher-code of the higher
priesthood, “31-15-47 north, 133-5-30 west.”  And we said “Oh,” and felt
mighty small.

So I aver, it was not Roscoe’s fault.  He was like unto a god, and he
carried us in the hollow of his hand across the blank spaces on the
chart.  I experienced a great respect for Roscoe; this respect grew so
profound that had he commanded, “Kneel down and worship me,” I know that
I should have flopped down on the deck and yammered.  But, one day, there
came a still small thought to me that said: “This is not a god; this is
Roscoe, a mere man like myself.  What he has done, I can do.  Who taught
him?  Himself.  Go you and do likewise—be your own teacher.”  And right
there Roscoe crashed, and he was high priest of the _Snark_ no longer.  I
invaded the sanctuary and demanded the ancient tomes and magic tables,
also the prayer-wheel—the sextant, I mean.

And now, in simple language.  I shall describe how I taught myself
navigation.  One whole afternoon I sat in the cockpit, steering with one
hand and studying logarithms with the other.  Two afternoons, two hours
each, I studied the general theory of navigation and the particular
process of taking a meridian altitude.  Then I took the sextant, worked
out the index error, and shot the sun.  The figuring from the data of
this observation was child’s play.  In the “Epitome” and the “Nautical
Almanac” were scores of cunning tables, all worked out by mathematicians
and astronomers.  It was like using interest tables and
lightning-calculator tables such as you all know.  The mystery was
mystery no longer.  I put my finger on the chart and announced that that
was where we were.  I was right too, or at least I was as right as
Roscoe, who selected a spot a quarter of a mile away from mine.  Even he
was willing to split the distance with me.  I had exploded the mystery,
and yet, such was the miracle of it, I was conscious of new power in me,
and I felt the thrill and tickle of pride.  And when Martin asked me, in
the same humble and respectful way I had previously asked Roscoe, as to
where we were, it was with exaltation and spiritual chest-throwing that I
answered in the cipher-code of the higher priesthood and heard Martin’s
self-abasing and worshipful “Oh.”  As for Charmian, I felt that in a new
way I had proved my right to her; and I was aware of another feeling,
namely, that she was a most fortunate woman to have a man like me.

I couldn’t help it.  I tell it as a vindication of Roscoe and all the
other navigators.  The poison of power was working in me.  I was not as
other men—most other men; I knew what they did not know,—the mystery of
the heavens, that pointed out the way across the deep.  And the taste of
power I had received drove me on.  I steered at the wheel long hours with
one hand, and studied mystery with the other.  By the end of the week,
teaching myself, I was able to do divers things.  For instance, I shot
the North Star, at night, of course; got its altitude, corrected for
index error, dip, etc., and found our latitude.  And this latitude agreed
with the latitude of the previous noon corrected by dead reckoning up to
that moment.  Proud?  Well, I was even prouder with my next miracle.  I
was going to turn in at nine o’clock.  I worked out the problem,
self-instructed, and learned what star of the first magnitude would be
passing the meridian around half-past eight.  This star proved to be
Alpha Crucis.  I had never heard of the star before.  I looked it up on
the star map.  It was one of the stars of the Southern Cross.  What!
thought I; have we been sailing with the Southern Cross in the sky of
nights and never known it?  Dolts that we are!  Gudgeons and moles!  I
couldn’t believe it.  I went over the problem again, and verified it.
Charmian had the wheel from eight till ten that evening.  I told her to
keep her eyes open and look due south for the Southern Cross.  And when
the stars came out, there shone the Southern Cross low on the horizon.
Proud?  No medicine man nor high priest was ever prouder.  Furthermore,
with the prayer-wheel I shot Alpha Crucis and from its altitude worked
out our latitude.  And still furthermore, I shot the North Star, too, and
it agreed with what had been told me by the Southern Cross.  Proud?  Why,
the language of the stars was mine, and I listened and heard them telling
me my way over the deep.

Proud?  I was a worker of miracles.  I forgot how easily I had taught
myself from the printed page.  I forgot that all the work (and a
tremendous work, too) had been done by the masterminds before me, the
astronomers and mathematicians, who had discovered and elaborated the
whole science of navigation and made the tables in the “Epitome.”  I
remembered only the everlasting miracle of it—that I had listened to the
voices of the stars and been told my place upon the highway of the sea.
Charmian did not know, Martin did not know, Tochigi, the cabin-boy, did
not know.  But I told them.  I was God’s messenger.  I stood between them
and infinity.  I translated the high celestial speech into terms of their
ordinary understanding.  We were heaven-directed, and it was I who could
read the sign-post of the sky!—I!  I!

And now, in a cooler moment, I hasten to blab the whole simplicity of it,
to blab on Roscoe and the other navigators and the rest of the
priesthood, all for fear that I may become even as they, secretive,
immodest, and inflated with self-esteem.  And I want to say this now: any
young fellow with ordinary gray matter, ordinary education, and with the
slightest trace of the student-mind, can get the books, and charts, and
instruments and teach himself navigation.  Now I must not be
misunderstood.  Seamanship is an entirely different matter.  It is not
learned in a day, nor in many days; it requires years.  Also, navigating
by dead reckoning requires long study and practice.  But navigating by
observations of the sun, moon, and stars, thanks to the astronomers and
mathematicians, is child’s play.  Any average young fellow can teach
himself in a week.  And yet again I must not be misunderstood.  I do not
mean to say that at the end of a week a young fellow could take charge of
a fifteen-thousand-ton steamer, driving twenty knots an hour through the
brine, racing from land to land, fair weather and foul, clear sky or
cloudy, steering by degrees on the compass card and making landfalls with
most amazing precision.  But what I do mean is just this: the average
young fellow I have described can get into a staunch sail-boat and put
out across the ocean, without knowing anything about navigation, and at
the end of the week he will know enough to know where he is on the chart.
He will be able to take a meridian observation with fair accuracy, and
from that observation, with ten minutes of figuring, work out his
latitude and longitude.  And, carrying neither freight nor passengers,
being under no press to reach his destination, he can jog comfortably
along, and if at any time he doubts his own navigation and fears an
imminent landfall, he can heave to all night and proceed in the morning.

Joshua Slocum sailed around the world a few years ago in a
thirty-seven-foot boat all by himself.  I shall never forget, in his
narrative of the voyage, where he heartily indorsed the idea of young
men, in similar small boats, making similar voyage.  I promptly indorsed
his idea, and so heartily that I took my wife along.  While it certainly
makes a Cook’s tour look like thirty cents, on top of that, amid on top
of the fun and pleasure, it is a splendid education for a young man—oh,
not a mere education in the things of the world outside, of lands, and
peoples, and climates, but an education in the world inside, an education
in one’s self, a chance to learn one’s own self, to get on speaking terms
with one’s soul.  Then there is the training and the disciplining of it.
First, naturally, the young fellow will learn his limitations; and next,
inevitably, he will proceed to press back those limitations.  And he
cannot escape returning from such a voyage a bigger and better man.  And
as for sport, it is a king’s sport, taking one’s self around the world,
doing it with one’s own hands, depending on no one but one’s self, and at
the end, back at the starting-point, contemplating with inner vision the
planet rushing through space, and saying, “I did it; with my own hands I
did it.  I went clear around that whirling sphere, and I can travel
alone, without any nurse of a sea-captain to guide my steps across the
seas.  I may not fly to other stars, but of this star I myself am

As I write these lines I lift my eyes and look seaward.  I am on the
beach of Waikiki on the island of Oahu.  Far, in the azure sky, the
trade-wind clouds drift low over the blue-green turquoise of the deep
sea.  Nearer, the sea is emerald and light olive-green.  Then comes the
reef, where the water is all slaty purple flecked with red.  Still nearer
are brighter greens and tans, lying in alternate stripes and showing
where sandbeds lie between the living coral banks.  Through and over and
out of these wonderful colours tumbles and thunders a magnificent surf.
As I say, I lift my eyes to all this, and through the white crest of a
breaker suddenly appears a dark figure, erect, a man-fish or a sea-god,
on the very forward face of the crest where the top falls over and down,
driving in toward shore, buried to his loins in smoking spray, caught up
by the sea and flung landward, bodily, a quarter of a mile.  It is a
Kanaka on a surf-board.  And I know that when I have finished these lines
I shall be out in that riot of colour and pounding surf, trying to bit
those breakers even as he, and failing as he never failed, but living
life as the best of us may live it.  And the picture of that coloured sea
and that flying sea-god Kanaka becomes another reason for the young man
to go west, and farther west, beyond the Baths of Sunset, and still west
till he arrives home again.

But to return.  Please do not think that I already know it all.  I know
only the rudiments of navigation.  There is a vast deal yet for me to
learn.  On the _Snark_ there is a score of fascinating books on
navigation waiting for me.  There is the danger-angle of Lecky, there is
the line of Sumner, which, when you know least of all where you are,
shows most conclusively where you are, and where you are not.  There are
dozens and dozens of methods of finding one’s location on the deep, and
one can work years before he masters it all in all its fineness.

Even in the little we did learn there were slips that accounted for the
apparently antic behaviour of the _Snark_.  On Thursday, May 16, for
instance, the trade wind failed us.  During the twenty-four hours that
ended Friday at noon, by dead reckoning we had not sailed twenty miles.
Yet here are our positions, at noon, for the two days, worked out from
our observations:

Thursday         20°     57′      9″   N
                152°     40′     30″   W
Friday           21°     15′     33″   N
                154°     12′

The difference between the two positions was something like eighty miles.
Yet we knew we had not travelled twenty miles.  Now our figuring was all
right.  We went over it several times.  What was wrong was the
observations we had taken.  To take a correct observation requires
practice and skill, and especially so on a small craft like the _Snark_.
The violently moving boat and the closeness of the observer’s eye to the
surface of the water are to blame.  A big wave that lifts up a mile off
is liable to steal the horizon away.

But in our particular case there was another perturbing factor.  The sun,
in its annual march north through the heavens, was increasing its
declination.  On the 19th parallel of north latitude in the middle of May
the sun is nearly overhead.  The angle of arc was between eighty-eight
and eighty-nine degrees.  Had it been ninety degrees it would have been
straight overhead.  It was on another day that we learned a few things
about taking the altitude of the almost perpendicular sun.  Roscoe
started in drawing the sun down to the eastern horizon, and he stayed by
that point of the compass despite the fact that the sun would pass the
meridian to the south.  I, on the other hand, started in to draw the sun
down to south-east and strayed away to the south-west.  You see, we were
teaching ourselves.  As a result, at twenty-five minutes past twelve by
the ship’s time, I called twelve o’clock by the sun.  Now this signified
that we had changed our location on the face of the world by twenty-five
minutes, which was equal to something like six degrees of longitude, or
three hundred and fifty miles.  This showed the _Snark_ had travelled
fifteen knots per hour for twenty-four consecutive hours—and we had never
noticed it!  It was absurd and grotesque.  But Roscoe, still looking
east, averred that it was not yet twelve o’clock.  He was bent on giving
us a twenty-knot clip.  Then we began to train our sextants rather wildly
all around the horizon, and wherever we looked, there was the sun,
puzzlingly close to the sky-line, sometimes above it and sometimes below
it.  In one direction the sun was proclaiming morning, in another
direction it was proclaiming afternoon.  The sun was all right—we knew
that; therefore we were all wrong.  And the rest of the afternoon we
spent in the cockpit reading up the matter in the books and finding out
what was wrong.  We missed the observation that day, but we didn’t the
next.  We had learned.

And we learned well, better than for a while we thought we had.  At the
beginning of the second dog-watch one evening, Charmian and I sat down on
the forecastle-head for a rubber of cribbage.  Chancing to glance ahead,
I saw cloud-capped mountains rising from the sea.  We were rejoiced at
the sight of land, but I was in despair over our navigation.  I thought
we had learned something, yet our position at noon, plus what we had run
since, did not put us within a hundred miles of land.  But there was the
land, fading away before our eyes in the fires of sunset.  The land was
all right.  There was no disputing it.  Therefore our navigation was all
wrong.  But it wasn’t.  That land we saw was the summit of Haleakala, the
House of the Sun, the greatest extinct volcano in the world.  It towered
ten thousand feet above the sea, and it was all of a hundred miles away.
We sailed all night at a seven-knot clip, and in the morning the House of
the Sun was still before us, and it took a few more hours of sailing to
bring it abreast of us.  “That island is Maui,” we said, verifying by the
chart.  “That next island sticking out is Molokai, where the lepers are.
And the island next to that is Oahu.  There is Makapuu Head now.  We’ll
be in Honolulu to-morrow.  Our navigation is all right.”


“IT will not be so monotonous at sea,” I promised my fellow-voyagers on
the _Snark_.  “The sea is filled with life.  It is so populous that every
day something new is happening.  Almost as soon as we pass through the
Golden Gate and head south we’ll pick up with the flying fish.  We’ll be
having them fried for breakfast.  We’ll be catching bonita and dolphin,
and spearing porpoises from the bowsprit.  And then there are the
sharks—sharks without end.”

We passed through the Golden Gate and headed south.  We dropped the
mountains of California beneath the horizon, and daily the surf grew
warmer.  But there were no flying fish, no bonita and dolphin.  The ocean
was bereft of life.  Never had I sailed on so forsaken a sea.  Always,
before, in the same latitudes, had I encountered flying fish.

“Never mind,” I said.  “Wait till we get off the coast of Southern
California.  Then we’ll pick up the flying fish.”

We came abreast of Southern California, abreast of the Peninsula of Lower
California, abreast of the coast of Mexico; and there were no flying
fish.  Nor was there anything else.  No life moved.  As the days went by
the absence of life became almost uncanny.

“Never mind,” I said.  “When we do pick up with the flying fish we’ll
pick up with everything else.  The flying fish is the staff of life for
all the other breeds.  Everything will come in a bunch when we find the
flying fish.”

When I should have headed the _Snark_ south-west for Hawaii, I still held
her south.  I was going to find those flying fish.  Finally the time came
when, if I wanted to go to Honolulu, I should have headed the _Snark_ due
west, instead of which I kept her south.  Not until latitude 19° did we
encounter the first flying fish.  He was very much alone.  I saw him.
Five other pairs of eager eyes scanned the sea all day, but never saw
another.  So sparse were the flying fish that nearly a week more elapsed
before the last one on board saw his first flying fish.  As for the
dolphin, bonita, porpoise, and all the other hordes of life—there weren’t

Not even a shark broke surface with his ominous dorsal fin.  Bert took a
dip daily under the bowsprit, hanging on to the stays and dragging his
body through the water.  And daily he canvassed the project of letting go
and having a decent swim.  I did my best to dissuade him.  But with him I
had lost all standing as an authority on sea life.

“If there are sharks,” he demanded, “why don’t they show up?”

I assured him that if he really did let go and have a swim the sharks
would promptly appear.  This was a bluff on my part.  I didn’t believe
it.  It lasted as a deterrent for two days.  The third day the wind fell
calm, and it was pretty hot.  The _Snark_ was moving a knot an hour.
Bert dropped down under the bowsprit and let go.  And now behold the
perversity of things.  We had sailed across two thousand miles and more
of ocean and had met with no sharks.  Within five minutes after Bert
finished his swim, the fin of a shark was cutting the surface in circles
around the _Snark_.

There was something wrong about that shark.  It bothered me.  It had no
right to be there in that deserted ocean.  The more I thought about it,
the more incomprehensible it became.  But two hours later we sighted land
and the mystery was cleared up.  He had come to us from the land, and not
from the uninhabited deep.  He had presaged the landfall.  He was the
messenger of the land.

Twenty-seven days out from San Francisco we arrived at the island of
Oahu, Territory of Hawaii.  In the early morning we drifted around
Diamond Head into full view of Honolulu; and then the ocean burst
suddenly into life.  Flying fish cleaved the air in glittering squadrons.
In five minutes we saw more of them than during the whole voyage.  Other
fish, large ones, of various sorts, leaped into the air.  There was life
everywhere, on sea and shore.  We could see the masts and funnels of the
shipping in the harbour, the hotels and bathers along the beach at
Waikiki, the smoke rising from the dwelling-houses high up on the
volcanic slopes of the Punch Bowl and Tantalus.  The custom-house tug was
racing toward us and a big school of porpoises got under our bow and
began cutting the most ridiculous capers.  The port doctor’s launch came
charging out at us, and a big sea turtle broke the surface with his back
and took a look at us.  Never was there such a burgeoning of life.
Strange faces were on our decks, strange voices were speaking, and copies
of that very morning’s newspaper, with cable reports from all the world,
were thrust before our eyes.  Incidentally, we read that the _Snark_ and
all hands had been lost at sea, and that she had been a very unseaworthy
craft anyway.  And while we read this information a wireless message was
being received by the congressional party on the summit of Haleakala
announcing the safe arrival of the _Snark_.

It was the _Snark’s_ first landfall—and such a landfall!  For
twenty-seven days we had been on the deserted deep, and it was pretty
hard to realize that there was so much life in the world.  We were made
dizzy by it.  We could not take it all in at once.  We were like awakened
Rip Van Winkles, and it seemed to us that we were dreaming.  On one side
the azure sea lapped across the horizon into the azure sky; on the other
side the sea lifted itself into great breakers of emerald that fell in a
snowy smother upon a white coral beach.  Beyond the beach, green
plantations of sugar-cane undulated gently upward to steeper slopes,
which, in turn, became jagged volcanic crests, drenched with tropic
showers and capped by stupendous masses of trade-wind clouds.  At any
rate, it was a most beautiful dream.  The _Snark_ turned and headed
directly in toward the emerald surf, till it lifted and thundered on
either hand; and on either hand, scarce a biscuit-toss away, the reef
showed its long teeth, pale green and menacing.

Abruptly the land itself, in a riot of olive-greens of a thousand hues,
reached out its arms and folded the _Snark_ in.  There was no perilous
passage through the reef, no emerald surf and azure sea—nothing but a
warm soft land, a motionless lagoon, and tiny beaches on which swam
dark-skinned tropic children.  The sea had disappeared.  The _Snark’s_
anchor rumbled the chain through the hawse-pipe, and we lay without
movement on a “lineless, level floor.”  It was all so beautiful and
strange that we could not accept it as real.  On the chart this place was
called Pearl Harbour, but we called it Dream Harbour.

A launch came off to us; in it were members of the Hawaiian Yacht Club,
come to greet us and make us welcome, with true Hawaiian hospitality, to
all they had.  They were ordinary men, flesh and blood and all the rest;
but they did not tend to break our dreaming.  Our last memories of men
were of United States marshals and of panicky little merchants with rusty
dollars for souls, who, in a reeking atmosphere of soot and coal-dust,
laid grimy hands upon the _Snark_ and held her back from her world
adventure.  But these men who came to meet us were clean men.  A healthy
tan was on their cheeks, and their eyes were not dazzled and bespectacled
from gazing overmuch at glittering dollar-heaps.  No, they merely
verified the dream.  They clinched it with their unsmirched souls.

So we went ashore with them across a level flashing sea to the wonderful
green land.  We landed on a tiny wharf, and the dream became more
insistent; for know that for twenty-seven days we had been rocking across
the ocean on the tiny _Snark_.  Not once in all those twenty-seven days
had we known a moment’s rest, a moment’s cessation from movement.  This
ceaseless movement had become ingrained.  Body and brain we had rocked
and rolled so long that when we climbed out on the tiny wharf kept on
rocking and rolling.  This, naturally, we attributed to the wharf.  It
was projected psychology.  I spraddled along the wharf and nearly fell
into the water.  I glanced at Charmian, and the way she walked made me
sad.  The wharf had all the seeming of a ship’s deck.  It lifted, tilted,
heaved and sank; and since there were no handrails on it, it kept
Charmian and me busy avoiding falling in.  I never saw such a
preposterous little wharf.  Whenever I watched it closely, it refused to
roll; but as soon as I took my attention off from it, away it went, just
like the _Snark_.  Once, I caught it in the act, just as it upended, and
I looked down the length of it for two hundred feet, and for all the
world it was like the deck of a ship ducking into a huge head-sea.

At last, however, supported by our hosts, we negotiated the wharf and
gained the land.  But the land was no better.  The very first thing it
did was to tilt up on one side, and far as the eye could see I watched it
tilt, clear to its jagged, volcanic backbone, and I saw the clouds above
tilt, too.  This was no stable, firm-founded land, else it would not cut
such capers.  It was like all the rest of our landfall, unreal.  It was a
dream.  At any moment, like shifting vapour, it might dissolve away.  The
thought entered my head that perhaps it was my fault, that my head was
swimming or that something I had eaten had disagreed with me.  But I
glanced at Charmian and her sad walk, and even as I glanced I saw her
stagger and bump into the yachtsman by whose side she walked.  I spoke to
her, and she complained about the antic behaviour of the land.

We walked across a spacious, wonderful lawn and down an avenue of royal
palms, and across more wonderful lawn in the gracious shade of stately
trees.  The air was filled with the songs of birds and was heavy with
rich warm fragrances—wafture from great lilies, and blazing blossoms of
hibiscus, and other strange gorgeous tropic flowers.  The dream was
becoming almost impossibly beautiful to us who for so long had seen
naught but the restless, salty sea.  Charmian reached out her hand and
clung to me—for support against the ineffable beauty of it, thought I.
But no.  As I supported her I braced my legs, while the flowers and lawns
reeled and swung around me.  It was like an earthquake, only it quickly
passed without doing any harm.  It was fairly difficult to catch the land
playing these tricks.  As long as I kept my mind on it, nothing happened.
But as soon as my attention was distracted, away it went, the whole
panorama, swinging and heaving and tilting at all sorts of angles.  Once,
however, I turned my head suddenly and caught that stately line of royal
palms swinging in a great arc across the sky.  But it stopped, just as
soon as I caught it, and became a placid dream again.

Next we came to a house of coolness, with great sweeping veranda, where
lotus-eaters might dwell.  Windows and doors were wide open to the
breeze, and the songs and fragrances blew lazily in and out.  The walls
were hung with tapa-cloths.  Couches with grass-woven covers invited
everywhere, and there was a grand piano, that played, I was sure, nothing
more exciting than lullabies.  Servants—Japanese maids in native
costume—drifted around and about, noiselessly, like butterflies.
Everything was preternaturally cool.  Here was no blazing down of a
tropic sun upon an unshrinking sea.  It was too good to be true.  But it
was not real.  It was a dream-dwelling.  I knew, for I turned suddenly
and caught the grand piano cavorting in a spacious corner of the room.  I
did not say anything, for just then we were being received by a gracious
woman, a beautiful Madonna, clad in flowing white and shod with sandals,
who greeted us as though she had known us always.

We sat at table on the lotus-eating veranda, served by the butterfly
maids, and ate strange foods and partook of a nectar called poi.  But the
dream threatened to dissolve.  It shimmered and trembled like an
iridescent bubble about to break.  I was just glancing out at the green
grass and stately trees and blossoms of hibiscus, when suddenly I felt
the table move.  The table, and the Madonna across from me, and the
veranda of the lotus-eaters, the scarlet hibiscus, the greensward and the
trees—all lifted and tilted before my eyes, and heaved and sank down into
the trough of a monstrous sea.  I gripped my chair convulsively and held
on.  I had a feeling that I was holding on to the dream as well as the
chair.  I should not have been surprised had the sea rushed in and
drowned all that fairyland and had I found myself at the wheel of the
_Snark_ just looking up casually from the study of logarithms.  But the
dream persisted.  I looked covertly at the Madonna and her husband.  They
evidenced no perturbation.  The dishes had not moved upon the table.  The
hibiscus and trees and grass were still there.  Nothing had changed.  I
partook of more nectar, and the dream was more real than ever.

“Will you have some iced tea?” asked the Madonna; and then her side of
the table sank down gently and I said yes to her at an angle of
forty-five degrees.

“Speaking of sharks,” said her husband, “up at Niihau there was a man—”
And at that moment the table lifted and heaved, and I gazed upward at him
at an angle of forty-five degrees.

So the luncheon went on, and I was glad that I did not have to bear the
affliction of watching Charmian walk.  Suddenly, however, a mysterious
word of fear broke from the lips of the lotus-eaters.  “Ah, ah,” thought
I, “now the dream goes glimmering.”  I clutched the chair desperately,
resolved to drag back to the reality of the _Snark_ some tangible vestige
of this lotus land.  I felt the whole dream lurching and pulling to be
gone.  Just then the mysterious word of fear was repeated.  It sounded
like _Reporters_.  I looked and saw three of them coming across the lawn.
Oh, blessed reporters!  Then the dream was indisputably real after all.
I glanced out across the shining water and saw the _Snark_ at anchor, and
I remembered that I had sailed in her from San Francisco to Hawaii, and
that this was Pearl Harbour, and that even then I was acknowledging
introductions and saying, in reply to the first question, “Yes, we had
delightful weather all the way down.”


THAT is what it is, a royal sport for the natural kings of earth.  The
grass grows right down to the water at Waikiki Beach, and within fifty
feet of the everlasting sea.  The trees also grow down to the salty edge
of things, and one sits in their shade and looks seaward at a majestic
surf thundering in on the beach to one’s very feet.  Half a mile out,
where is the reef, the white-headed combers thrust suddenly skyward out
of the placid turquoise-blue and come rolling in to shore.  One after
another they come, a mile long, with smoking crests, the white battalions
of the infinite army of the sea.  And one sits and listens to the
perpetual roar, and watches the unending procession, and feels tiny and
fragile before this tremendous force expressing itself in fury and foam
and sound.  Indeed, one feels microscopically small, and the thought that
one may wrestle with this sea raises in one’s imagination a thrill of
apprehension, almost of fear.  Why, they are a mile long, these
bull-mouthed monsters, and they weigh a thousand tons, and they charge in
to shore faster than a man can run.  What chance?  No chance at all, is
the verdict of the shrinking ego; and one sits, and looks, and listens,
and thinks the grass and the shade are a pretty good place in which to

And suddenly, out there where a big smoker lifts skyward, rising like a
sea-god from out of the welter of spume and churning white, on the giddy,
toppling, overhanging and downfalling, precarious crest appears the dark
head of a man.  Swiftly he rises through the rushing white.  His black
shoulders, his chest, his loins, his limbs—all is abruptly projected on
one’s vision.  Where but the moment before was only the wide desolation
and invincible roar, is now a man, erect, full-statured, not struggling
frantically in that wild movement, not buried and crushed and buffeted by
those mighty monsters, but standing above them all, calm and superb,
poised on the giddy summit, his feet buried in the churning foam, the
salt smoke rising to his knees, and all the rest of him in the free air
and flashing sunlight, and he is flying through the air, flying forward,
flying fast as the surge on which he stands.  He is a Mercury—a brown
Mercury.  His heels are winged, and in them is the swiftness of the sea.
In truth, from out of the sea he has leaped upon the back of the sea, and
he is riding the sea that roars and bellows and cannot shake him from its
back.  But no frantic outreaching and balancing is his.  He is impassive,
motionless as a statue carved suddenly by some miracle out of the sea’s
depth from which he rose.  And straight on toward shore he flies on his
winged heels and the white crest of the breaker.  There is a wild burst
of foam, a long tumultuous rushing sound as the breaker falls futile and
spent on the beach at your feet; and there, at your feet steps calmly
ashore a Kanaka, burnt, golden and brown by the tropic sun.  Several
minutes ago he was a speck a quarter of a mile away.  He has “bitted the
bull-mouthed breaker” and ridden it in, and the pride in the feat shows
in the carriage of his magnificent body as he glances for a moment
carelessly at you who sit in the shade of the shore.  He is a Kanaka—and
more, he is a man, a member of the kingly species that has mastered
matter and the brutes and lorded it over creation.

And one sits and thinks of Tristram’s last wrestle with the sea on that
fatal morning; and one thinks further, to the fact that that Kanaka has
done what Tristram never did, and that he knows a joy of the sea that
Tristram never knew.  And still further one thinks.  It is all very well,
sitting here in cool shade of the beach, but you are a man, one of the
kingly species, and what that Kanaka can do, you can do yourself.  Go to.
Strip off your clothes that are a nuisance in this mellow clime.  Get in
and wrestle with the sea; wing your heels with the skill and power that
reside in you; bit the sea’s breakers, master them, and ride upon their
backs as a king should.

And that is how it came about that I tackled surf-riding.  And now that I
have tackled it, more than ever do I hold it to be a royal sport.  But
first let me explain the physics of it.  A wave is a communicated
agitation.  The water that composes the body of a wave does not move.  If
it did, when a stone is thrown into a pond and the ripples spread away in
an ever widening circle, there would appear at the centre an ever
increasing hole.  No, the water that composes the body of a wave is
stationary.  Thus, you may watch a particular portion of the ocean’s
surface and you will see the sane water rise and fall a thousand times to
the agitation communicated by a thousand successive waves.  Now imagine
this communicated agitation moving shoreward.  As the bottom shoals, the
lower portion of the wave strikes land first and is stopped.  But water
is fluid, and the upper portion has not struck anything, wherefore it
keeps on communicating its agitation, keeps on going.  And when the top
of the wave keeps on going, while the bottom of it lags behind, something
is bound to happen.  The bottom of the wave drops out from under and the
top of the wave falls over, forward, and down, curling and cresting and
roaring as it does so.  It is the bottom of a wave striking against the
top of the land that is the cause of all surfs.

But the transformation from a smooth undulation to a breaker is not
abrupt except where the bottom shoals abruptly.  Say the bottom shoals
gradually for from quarter of a mile to a mile, then an equal distance
will be occupied by the transformation.  Such a bottom is that off the
beach of Waikiki, and it produces a splendid surf-riding surf.  One leaps
upon the back of a breaker just as it begins to break, and stays on it as
it continues to break all the way in to shore.

And now to the particular physics of surf-riding.  Get out on a flat
board, six feet long, two feet wide, and roughly oval in shape.  Lie down
upon it like a small boy on a coaster and paddle with your hands out to
deep water, where the waves begin to crest.  Lie out there quietly on the
board.  Sea after sea breaks before, behind, and under and over you, and
rushes in to shore, leaving you behind.  When a wave crests, it gets
steeper.  Imagine yourself, on your hoard, on the face of that steep
slope.  If it stood still, you would slide down just as a boy slides down
a hill on his coaster.  “But,” you object, “the wave doesn’t stand
still.”  Very true, but the water composing the wave stands still, and
there you have the secret.  If ever you start sliding down the face of
that wave, you’ll keep on sliding and you’ll never reach the bottom.
Please don’t laugh.  The face of that wave may be only six feet, yet you
can slide down it a quarter of a mile, or half a mile, and not reach the
bottom.  For, see, since a wave is only a communicated agitation or
impetus, and since the water that composes a wave is changing every
instant, new water is rising into the wave as fast as the wave travels.
You slide down this new water, and yet remain in your old position on the
wave, sliding down the still newer water that is rising and forming the
wave.  You slide precisely as fast as the wave travels.  If it travels
fifteen miles an hour, you slide fifteen miles an hour.  Between you and
shore stretches a quarter of mile of water.  As the wave travels, this
water obligingly heaps itself into the wave, gravity does the rest, and
down you go, sliding the whole length of it.  If you still cherish the
notion, while sliding, that the water is moving with you, thrust your
arms into it and attempt to paddle; you will find that you have to be
remarkably quick to get a stroke, for that water is dropping astern just
as fast as you are rushing ahead.

And now for another phase of the physics of surf-riding.  All rules have
their exceptions.  It is true that the water in a wave does not travel
forward.  But there is what may be called the send of the sea.  The water
in the overtoppling crest does move forward, as you will speedily realize
if you are slapped in the face by it, or if you are caught under it and
are pounded by one mighty blow down under the surface panting and gasping
for half a minute.  The water in the top of a wave rests upon the water
in the bottom of the wave.  But when the bottom of the wave strikes the
land, it stops, while the top goes on.  It no longer has the bottom of
the wave to hold it up.  Where was solid water beneath it, is now air,
and for the first time it feels the grip of gravity, and down it falls,
at the same time being torn asunder from the lagging bottom of the wave
and flung forward.  And it is because of this that riding a surf-board is
something more than a mere placid sliding down a hill.  In truth, one is
caught up and hurled shoreward as by some Titan’s hand.

I deserted the cool shade, put on a swimming suit, and got hold of a
surf-board.  It was too small a board.  But I didn’t know, and nobody
told me.  I joined some little Kanaka boys in shallow water, where the
breakers were well spent and small—a regular kindergarten school.  I
watched the little Kanaka boys.  When a likely-looking breaker came
along, they flopped upon their stomachs on their boards, kicked like mad
with their feet, and rode the breaker in to the beach.  I tried to
emulate them.  I watched them, tried to do everything that they did, and
failed utterly.  The breaker swept past, and I was not on it.  I tried
again and again.  I kicked twice as madly as they did, and failed.  Half
a dozen would be around.  We would all leap on our boards in front of a
good breaker.  Away our feet would churn like the stern-wheels of river
steamboats, and away the little rascals would scoot while I remained in
disgrace behind.

I tried for a solid hour, and not one wave could I persuade to boost me
shoreward.  And then arrived a friend, Alexander Hume Ford, a globe
trotter by profession, bent ever on the pursuit of sensation.  And he had
found it at Waikiki.  Heading for Australia, he had stopped off for a
week to find out if there were any thrills in surf-riding, and he had
become wedded to it.  He had been at it every day for a month and could
not yet see any symptoms of the fascination lessening on him.  He spoke
with authority.

“Get off that board,” he said.  “Chuck it away at once.  Look at the way
you’re trying to ride it.  If ever the nose of that board hits bottom,
you’ll be disembowelled.  Here, take my board.  It’s a man’s size.”

I am always humble when confronted by knowledge.  Ford knew.  He showed
me how properly to mount his board.  Then he waited for a good breaker,
gave me a shove at the right moment, and started me in.  Ah, delicious
moment when I felt that breaker grip and fling me.

On I dashed, a hundred and fifty feet, and subsided with the breaker on
the sand.  From that moment I was lost.  I waded back to Ford with his
board.  It was a large one, several inches thick, and weighed all of
seventy-five pounds.  He gave me advice, much of it.  He had had no one
to teach him, and all that he had laboriously learned in several weeks he
communicated to me in half an hour.  I really learned by proxy.  And
inside of half an hour I was able to start myself and ride in.  I did it
time after time, and Ford applauded and advised.  For instance, he told
me to get just so far forward on the board and no farther.  But I must
have got some farther, for as I came charging in to land, that miserable
board poked its nose down to bottom, stopped abruptly, and turned a
somersault, at the same time violently severing our relations.  I was
tossed through the air like a chip and buried ignominiously under the
downfalling breaker.  And I realized that if it hadn’t been for Ford, I’d
have been disembowelled.  That particular risk is part of the sport, Ford
says.  Maybe he’ll have it happen to him before he leaves Waikiki, and
then, I feel confident, his yearning for sensation will be satisfied for
a time.

When all is said and done, it is my steadfast belief that homicide is
worse than suicide, especially if, in the former case, it is a woman.
Ford saved me from being a homicide.  “Imagine your legs are a rudder,”
he said.  “Hold them close together, and steer with them.”  A few minutes
later I came charging in on a comber.  As I neared the beach, there, in
the water, up to her waist, dead in front of me, appeared a woman.  How
was I to stop that comber on whose back I was?  It looked like a dead
woman.  The board weighed seventy-five pounds, I weighed a hundred and
sixty-five.  The added weight had a velocity of fifteen miles per hour.
The board and I constituted a projectile.  I leave it to the physicists
to figure out the force of the impact upon that poor, tender woman.  And
then I remembered my guardian angel, Ford.  “Steer with your legs!” rang
through my brain.  I steered with my legs, I steered sharply, abruptly,
with all my legs and with all my might.  The board sheered around
broadside on the crest.  Many things happened simultaneously.  The wave
gave me a passing buffet, a light tap as the taps of waves go, but a tap
sufficient to knock me off the board and smash me down through the
rushing water to bottom, with which I came in violent collision and upon
which I was rolled over and over.  I got my head out for a breath of air
and then gained my feet.  There stood the woman before me.  I felt like a
hero.  I had saved her life.  And she laughed at me.  It was not
hysteria.  She had never dreamed of her danger.  Anyway, I solaced
myself, it was not I but Ford that saved her, and I didn’t have to feel
like a hero.  And besides, that leg-steering was great.  In a few minutes
more of practice I was able to thread my way in and out past several
bathers and to remain on top my breaker instead of going under it.

“To-morrow,” Ford said, “I am going to take you out into the blue water.”

I looked seaward where he pointed, and saw the great smoking combers that
made the breakers I had been riding look like ripples.  I don’t know what
I might have said had I not recollected just then that I was one of a
kingly species.  So all that I did say was, “All right, I’ll tackle them

The water that rolls in on Waikiki Beach is just the same as the water
that laves the shores of all the Hawaiian Islands; and in ways,
especially from the swimmer’s standpoint, it is wonderful water.  It is
cool enough to be comfortable, while it is warm enough to permit a
swimmer to stay in all day without experiencing a chill.  Under the sun
or the stars, at high noon or at midnight, in midwinter or in midsummer,
it does not matter when, it is always the same temperature—not too warm,
not too cold, just right.  It is wonderful water, salt as old ocean
itself, pure and crystal-clear.  When the nature of the water is
considered, it is not so remarkable after all that the Kanakas are one of
the most expert of swimming races.

So it was, next morning, when Ford came along, that I plunged into the
wonderful water for a swim of indeterminate length.  Astride of our
surf-boards, or, rather, flat down upon them on our stomachs, we paddled
out through the kindergarten where the little Kanaka boys were at play.
Soon we were out in deep water where the big smokers came roaring in.
The mere struggle with them, facing them and paddling seaward over them
and through them, was sport enough in itself.  One had to have his wits
about him, for it was a battle in which mighty blows were struck, on one
side, and in which cunning was used on the other side—a struggle between
insensate force and intelligence.  I soon learned a bit.  When a breaker
curled over my head, for a swift instant I could see the light of day
through its emerald body; then down would go my head, and I would clutch
the board with all my strength.  Then would come the blow, and to the
onlooker on shore I would be blotted out.  In reality the board and I
have passed through the crest and emerged in the respite of the other
side.  I should not recommend those smashing blows to an invalid or
delicate person.  There is weight behind them, and the impact of the
driven water is like a sandblast.  Sometimes one passes through half a
dozen combers in quick succession, and it is just about that time that he
is liable to discover new merits in the stable land and new reasons for
being on shore.

Out there in the midst of such a succession of big smoky ones, a third
man was added to our party, one Freeth.  Shaking the water from my eyes
as I emerged from one wave and peered ahead to see what the next one
looked like, I saw him tearing in on the back of it, standing upright on
his board, carelessly poised, a young god bronzed with sunburn.  We went
through the wave on the back of which he rode.  Ford called to him.  He
turned an airspring from his wave, rescued his board from its maw,
paddled over to us and joined Ford in showing me things.  One thing in
particular I learned from Freeth, namely, how to encounter the occasional
breaker of exceptional size that rolled in.  Such breakers were really
ferocious, and it was unsafe to meet them on top of the board.  But
Freeth showed me, so that whenever I saw one of that calibre rolling down
on me, I slid off the rear end of the board and dropped down beneath the
surface, my arms over my head and holding the board.  Thus, if the wave
ripped the board out of my hands and tried to strike me with it (a common
trick of such waves), there would be a cushion of water a foot or more in
depth, between my head and the blow.  When the wave passed, I climbed
upon the board and paddled on.  Many men have been terribly injured, I
learn, by being struck by their boards.

The whole method of surf-riding and surf-fighting, learned, is one of
non-resistance.  Dodge the blow that is struck at you.  Dive through the
wave that is trying to slap you in the face.  Sink down, feet first, deep
under the surface, and let the big smoker that is trying to smash you go
by far overhead.  Never be rigid.  Relax.  Yield yourself to the waters
that are ripping and tearing at you.  When the undertow catches you and
drags you seaward along the bottom, don’t struggle against it.  If you
do, you are liable to be drowned, for it is stronger than you.  Yield
yourself to that undertow.  Swim with it, not against it, and you will
find the pressure removed.  And, swimming with it, fooling it so that it
does not hold you, swim upward at the same time.  It will be no trouble
at all to reach the surface.

The man who wants to learn surf-riding must be a strong swimmer, and he
must be used to going under the water.  After that, fair strength and
common-sense are all that is required.  The force of the big comber is
rather unexpected.  There are mix-ups in which board and rider are torn
apart and separated by several hundred feet.  The surf-rider must take
care of himself.  No matter how many riders swim out with him, he cannot
depend upon any of them for aid.  The fancied security I had in the
presence of Ford and Freeth made me forget that it was my first swim out
in deep water among the big ones.  I recollected, however, and rather
suddenly, for a big wave came in, and away went the two men on its back
all the way to shore.  I could have been drowned a dozen different ways
before they got back to me.

One slides down the face of a breaker on his surf-board, but he has to
get started to sliding.  Board and rider must be moving shoreward at a
good rate before the wave overtakes them.  When you see the wave coming
that you want to ride in, you turn tail to it and paddle shoreward with
all your strength, using what is called the windmill stroke.  This is a
sort of spurt performed immediately in front of the wave.  If the board
is going fast enough, the wave accelerates it, and the board begins its
quarter-of-a-mile slide.

I shall never forget the first big wave I caught out there in the deep
water.  I saw it coming, turned my back on it and paddled for dear life.
Faster and faster my board went, till it seemed my arms would drop off.
What was happening behind me I could not tell.  One cannot look behind
and paddle the windmill stroke.  I heard the crest of the wave hissing
and churning, and then my board was lifted and flung forward.  I scarcely
knew what happened the first half-minute.  Though I kept my eyes open, I
could not see anything, for I was buried in the rushing white of the
crest.  But I did not mind.  I was chiefly conscious of ecstatic bliss at
having caught the wave.  At the end, of the half-minute, however, I began
to see things, and to breathe.  I saw that three feet of the nose of my
board was clear out of water and riding on the air.  I shifted my weight
forward, and made the nose come down.  Then I lay, quite at rest in the
midst of the wild movement, and watched the shore and the bathers on the
beach grow distinct.  I didn’t cover quite a quarter of a mile on that
wave, because, to prevent the board from diving, I shifted my weight
back, but shifted it too far and fell down the rear slope of the wave.

It was my second day at surf-riding, and I was quite proud of myself.  I
stayed out there four hours, and when it was over, I was resolved that on
the morrow I’d come in standing up.  But that resolution paved a distant
place.  On the morrow I was in bed.  I was not sick, but I was very
unhappy, and I was in bed.  When describing the wonderful water of Hawaii
I forgot to describe the wonderful sun of Hawaii.  It is a tropic sun,
and, furthermore, in the first part of June, it is an overhead sun.  It
is also an insidious, deceitful sun.  For the first time in my life I was
sunburned unawares.  My arms, shoulders, and back had been burned many
times in the past and were tough; but not so my legs.  And for four hours
I had exposed the tender backs of my legs, at right-angles, to that
perpendicular Hawaiian sun.  It was not until after I got ashore that I
discovered the sun had touched me.  Sunburn at first is merely warm;
after that it grows intense and the blisters come out.  Also, the joints,
where the skin wrinkles, refuse to bend.  That is why I spent the next
day in bed.  I couldn’t walk.  And that is why, to-day, I am writing this
in bed.  It is easier to than not to.  But to-morrow, ah, to-morrow, I
shall be out in that wonderful water, and I shall come in standing up,
even as Ford and Freeth.  And if I fail to-morrow, I shall do it the next
day, or the next.  Upon one thing I am resolved: the _Snark_ shall not
sail from Honolulu until I, too, wing my heels with the swiftness of the
sea, and become a sun-burned, skin-peeling Mercury.


WHEN the _Snark_ sailed along the windward coast of Molokai, on her way
to Honolulu, I looked at the chart, then pointed to a low-lying peninsula
backed by a tremendous cliff varying from two to four thousand feet in
height, and said: “The pit of hell, the most cursed place on earth.”  I
should have been shocked, if, at that moment, I could have caught a
vision of myself a month later, ashore in the most cursed place on earth
and having a disgracefully good time along with eight hundred of the
lepers who were likewise having a good time.  Their good time was not
disgraceful; but mine was, for in the midst of so much misery it was not
meet for me to have a good time.  That is the way I felt about it, and my
only excuse is that I couldn’t help having a good time.

For instance, in the afternoon of the Fourth of July all the lepers
gathered at the race-track for the sports.  I had wandered away from the
Superintendent and the physicians in order to get a snapshot of the
finish of one of the races.  It was an interesting race, and partisanship
ran high.  Three horses were entered, one ridden by a Chinese, one by an
Hawaiian, and one by a Portuguese boy.  All three riders were lepers; so
were the judges and the crowd.  The race was twice around the track.  The
Chinese and the Hawaiian got away together and rode neck and neck, the
Portuguese boy toiling along two hundred feet behind.  Around they went
in the same positions.  Halfway around on the second and final lap the
Chinese pulled away and got one length ahead of the Hawaiian.  At the
same time the Portuguese boy was beginning to crawl up.  But it looked
hopeless.  The crowd went wild.  All the lepers were passionate lovers of
horseflesh.  The Portuguese boy crawled nearer and nearer.  I went wild,
too.  They were on the home stretch.  The Portuguese boy passed the
Hawaiian.  There was a thunder of hoofs, a rush of the three horses
bunched together, the jockeys plying their whips, and every last onlooker
bursting his throat, or hers, with shouts and yells.  Nearer, nearer,
inch by inch, the Portuguese boy crept up, and passed, yes, passed,
winning by a head from the Chinese.  I came to myself in a group of
lepers.  They were yelling, tossing their hats, and dancing around like
fiends.  So was I.  When I came to I was waving my hat and murmuring
ecstatically: “By golly, the boy wins!  The boy wins!”

I tried to check myself.  I assured myself that I was witnessing one of
the horrors of Molokai, and that it was shameful for me, under such
circumstances, to be so light-hearted and light-headed.  But it was no
use.  The next event was a donkey-race, and it was just starting; so was
the fun.  The last donkey in was to win the race, and what complicated
the affair was that no rider rode his own donkey.  They rode one
another’s donkeys, the result of which was that each man strove to make
the donkey he rode beat his own donkey ridden by some one else,
Naturally, only men possessing very slow or extremely obstreperous
donkeys had entered them for the race.  One donkey had been trained to
tuck in its legs and lie down whenever its rider touched its sides with
his heels.  Some donkeys strove to turn around and come back; others
developed a penchant for the side of the track, where they stuck their
heads over the railing and stopped; while all of them dawdled.  Halfway
around the track one donkey got into an argument with its rider.  When
all the rest of the donkeys had crossed the wire, that particular donkey
was still arguing.  He won the race, though his rider lost it and came in
on foot.  And all the while nearly a thousand lepers were laughing
uproariously at the fun.  Anybody in my place would have joined with them
in having a good time.

All the foregoing is by way of preamble to the statement that the horrors
of Molokai, as they have been painted in the past, do not exist.  The
Settlement has been written up repeatedly by sensationalists, and usually
by sensationalists who have never laid eyes on it.  Of course, leprosy is
leprosy, and it is a terrible thing; but so much that is lurid has been
written about Molokai that neither the lepers, nor those who devote their
lives to them, have received a fair deal.  Here is a case in point.  A
newspaper writer, who, of course, had never been near the Settlement,
vividly described Superintendent McVeigh, crouching in a grass hut and
being besieged nightly by starving lepers on their knees, wailing for
food.  This hair-raising account was copied by the press all over the
United States and was the cause of many indignant and protesting
editorials.  Well, I lived and slept for five days in Mr. McVeigh’s
“grass hut” (which was a comfortable wooden cottage, by the way; and
there isn’t a grass house in the whole Settlement), and I heard the
lepers wailing for food—only the wailing was peculiarly harmonious and
rhythmic, and it was accompanied by the music of stringed instruments,
violins, guitars, _ukuleles_, and banjos.  Also, the wailing was of
various sorts.  The leper brass band wailed, and two singing societies
wailed, and lastly a quintet of excellent voices wailed.  So much for a
lie that should never have been printed.  The wailing was the serenade
which the glee clubs always give Mr. McVeigh when he returns from a trip
to Honolulu.

Leprosy is not so contagious as is imagined.  I went for a week’s visit
to the Settlement, and I took my wife along—all of which would not have
happened had we had any apprehension of contracting the disease.  Nor did
we wear long, gauntleted gloves and keep apart from the lepers.  On the
contrary, we mingled freely with them, and before we left, knew scores of
them by sight and name.  The precautions of simple cleanliness seem to be
all that is necessary.  On returning to their own houses, after having
been among and handling lepers, the non-lepers, such as the physicians
and the superintendent, merely wash their faces and hands with mildly
antiseptic soap and change their coats.

That a leper is unclean, however, should be insisted upon; and the
segregation of lepers, from what little is known of the disease, should
be rigidly maintained.  On the other hand, the awful horror with which
the leper has been regarded in the past, and the frightful treatment he
has received, have been unnecessary and cruel.  In order to dispel some
of the popular misapprehensions of leprosy, I want to tell something of
the relations between the lepers and non-lepers as I observed them at
Molokai.  On the morning after our arrival Charmian and I attended a
shoot of the Kalaupapa Rifle Club, and caught our first glimpse of the
democracy of affliction and alleviation that obtains.  The club was just
beginning a prize shoot for a cup put up by Mr. McVeigh, who is also a
member of the club, as also are Dr. Goodhue and Dr. Hollmann, the
resident physicians (who, by the way, live in the Settlement with their
wives).  All about us, in the shooting booth, were the lepers.  Lepers
and non-lepers were using the same guns, and all were rubbing shoulders
in the confined space.  The majority of the lepers were Hawaiians.
Sitting beside me on a bench was a Norwegian.  Directly in front of me,
in the stand, was an American, a veteran of the Civil War, who had fought
on the Confederate side.  He was sixty-five years of age, but that did
not prevent him from running up a good score.  Strapping Hawaiian
policemen, lepers, khaki-clad, were also shooting, as were Portuguese,
Chinese, and kokuas—the latter are native helpers in the Settlement who
are non-lepers.  And on the afternoon that Charmian and I climbed the
two-thousand-foot _pali_ and looked our last upon the Settlement, the
superintendent, the doctors, and the mixture of nationalities and of
diseased and non-diseased were all engaged in an exciting baseball game.

Not so was the leper and his greatly misunderstood and feared disease
treated during the middle ages in Europe.  At that time the leper was
considered legally and politically dead.  He was placed in a funeral
procession and led to the church, where the burial service was read over
him by the officiating clergyman.  Then a spadeful of earth was dropped
upon his chest and he was dead-living dead.  While this rigorous
treatment was largely unnecessary, nevertheless, one thing was learned by
it.  Leprosy was unknown in Europe until it was introduced by the
returning Crusaders, whereupon it spread slowly until it had seized upon
large numbers of the people.  Obviously, it was a disease that could be
contracted by contact.  It was a contagion, and it was equally obvious
that it could be eradicated by segregation.  Terrible and monstrous as
was the treatment of the leper in those days, the great lesson of
segregation was learned.  By its means leprosy was stamped out.

And by the same means leprosy is even now decreasing in the Hawaiian
Islands.  But the segregation of the lepers on Molokai is not the
horrible nightmare that has been so often exploited by _yellow_ writers.
In the first place, the leper is not torn ruthlessly from his family.
When a suspect is discovered, he is invited by the Board of Health to
come to the Kalihi receiving station at Honolulu.  His fare and all
expenses are paid for him.  He is first passed upon by microscopical
examination by the bacteriologist of the Board of Health.  If the
_bacillus lepræ_ is found, the patient is examined by the Board of
Examining Physicians, five in number.  If found by them to be a leper, he
is so declared, which finding is later officially confirmed by the Board
of Health, and the leper is ordered straight to Molokai.  Furthermore,
during the thorough trial that is given his case, the patient has the
right to be represented by a physician whom he can select and employ for
himself.  Nor, after having been declared a leper, is the patient
immediately rushed off to Molokai.  He is given ample time, weeks, and
even months, sometimes, during which he stays at Kalihi and winds up or
arranges all his business affairs.  At Molokai, in turn, he may be
visited by his relatives, business agents, etc., though they are not
permitted to eat and sleep in his house.  Visitors’ houses, kept “clean,”
are maintained for this purpose.

I saw an illustration of the thorough trial given the suspect, when I
visited Kalihi with Mr. Pinkham, president of the Board of Health.  The
suspect was an Hawaiian, seventy years of age, who for thirty-four years
had worked in Honolulu as a pressman in a printing office.  The
bacteriologist had decided that he was a leper, the Examining Board had
been unable to make up its mind, and that day all had come out to Kalihi
to make another examination.

When at Molokai, the declared leper has the privilege of re-examination,
and patients are continually coming back to Honolulu for that purpose.
The steamer that took me to Molokai had on board two returning lepers,
both young women, one of whom had come to Honolulu to settle up some
property she owned, and the other had come to Honolulu to see her sick
mother.  Both had remained at Kalihi for a month.

The Settlement of Molokai enjoys a far more delightful climate than even
Honolulu, being situated on the windward side of the island in the path
of the fresh north-east trades.  The scenery is magnificent; on one side
is the blue sea, on the other the wonderful wall of the _pali_, receding
here and there into beautiful mountain valleys.  Everywhere are grassy
pastures over which roam the hundreds of horses which are owned by the
lepers.  Some of them have their own carts, rigs, and traps.  In the
little harbour of Kalaupapa lie fishing boats and a steam launch, all of
which are privately owned and operated by lepers.  Their bounds upon the
sea are, of course, determined: otherwise no restriction is put upon
their sea-faring.  Their fish they sell to the Board of Health, and the
money they receive is their own.  While I was there, one night’s catch
was four thousand pounds.

And as these men fish, others farm.  All trades are followed.  One leper,
a pure Hawaiian, is the boss painter.  He employs eight men, and takes
contracts for painting buildings from the Board of Health.  He is a
member of the Kalaupapa Rifle Club, where I met him, and I must confess
that he was far better dressed than I.  Another man, similarly situated,
is the boss carpenter.  Then, in addition to the Board of Health store,
there are little privately owned stores, where those with shopkeeper’s
souls may exercise their peculiar instincts.  The Assistant
Superintendent, Mr. Waiamau, a finely educated and able man, is a pure
Hawaiian and a leper.  Mr. Bartlett, who is the present storekeeper, is
an American who was in business in Honolulu before he was struck down by
the disease.  All that these men earn is that much in their own pockets.
If they do not work, they are taken care of anyway by the territory,
given food, shelter, clothes, and medical attendance.  The Board of
Health carries on agriculture, stock-raising, and dairying, for local
use, and employment at fair wages is furnished to all that wish to work.
They are not compelled to work, however, for they are the wards of the
territory.  For the young, and the very old, and the helpless there are
homes and hospitals.

Major Lee, an American and long a marine engineer for the Inter Island
Steamship Company, I met actively at work in the new steam laundry, where
he was busy installing the machinery.  I met him often, afterwards, and
one day he said to me:

“Give us a good breeze about how we live here.  For heaven’s sake write
us up straight.  Put your foot down on this chamber-of-horrors rot and
all the rest of it.  We don’t like being misrepresented.  We’ve got some
feelings.  Just tell the world how we really are in here.”

Man after man that I met in the Settlement, and woman after woman, in one
way or another expressed the same sentiment.  It was patent that they
resented bitterly the sensational and untruthful way in which they have
been exploited in the past.

In spite of the fact that they are afflicted by disease, the lepers form
a happy colony, divided into two villages and numerous country and
seaside homes, of nearly a thousand souls.  They have six churches, a
Young Men’s Christian Association building, several assembly halls, a
band stand, a race-track, baseball grounds, shooting ranges, an athletic
club, numerous glee clubs, and two brass bands.

“They are so contented down there,” Mr. Pinkham told me, “that you can’t
drive them away with a shot-gun.”

This I later verified for myself.  In January of this year, eleven of the
lepers, on whom the disease, after having committed certain ravages,
showed no further signs of activity, were brought back to Honolulu for
re-examination.  They were loath to come; and, on being asked whether or
not they wanted to go free if found clean of leprosy, one and all
answered, “Back to Molokai.”

In the old days, before the discovery of the leprosy bacillus, a small
number of men and women, suffering from various and wholly different
diseases, were adjudged lepers and sent to Molokai.  Years afterward they
suffered great consternation when the bacteriologists declared that they
were not afflicted with leprosy and never had been.  They fought against
being sent away from Molokai, and in one way or another, as helpers and
nurses, they got jobs from the Board of Health and remained.  The present
jailer is one of these men.  Declared to be a non-leper, he accepted, on
salary, the charge of the jail, in order to escape being sent away.

At the present moment, in Honolulu, there is a bootblack.  He is an
American negro.  Mr. McVeigh told me about him.  Long ago, before the
bacteriological tests, he was sent to Molokai as a leper.  As a ward of
the state he developed a superlative degree of independence and fomented
much petty mischief.  And then, one day, after having been for years a
perennial source of minor annoyances, the bacteriological test was
applied, and he was declared a non-leper.

“Ah, ha!” chortled Mr. McVeigh.  “Now I’ve got you!  Out you go on the
next steamer and good riddance!”

But the negro didn’t want to go.  Immediately he married an old woman, in
the last stages of leprosy, and began petitioning the Board of Health for
permission to remain and nurse his sick wife.  There was no one, he said
pathetically, who could take care of his poor wife as well as he could.
But they saw through his game, and he was deported on the steamer and
given the freedom of the world.  But he preferred Molokai.  Landing on
the leeward side of Molokai, he sneaked down the _pali_ one night and
took up his abode in the Settlement.  He was apprehended, tried and
convicted of trespass, sentenced to pay a small fine, and again deported
on the steamer with the warning that if he trespassed again, he would be
fined one hundred dollars and be sent to prison in Honolulu.  And now,
when Mr. McVeigh comes up to Honolulu, the bootblack shines his shoes for
him and says:

“Say, Boss, I lost a good home down there.  Yes, sir, I lost a good
home.”  Then his voice sinks to a confidential whisper as he says, “Say,
Boss, can’t I go back?  Can’t you fix it for me so as I can go back?”

He had lived nine years on Molokai, and he had had a better time there
than he has ever had, before and after, on the outside.

As regards the fear of leprosy itself, nowhere in the Settlement among
lepers, or non-lepers, did I see any sign of it.  The chief horror of
leprosy obtains in the minds of those who have never seen a leper and who
do not know anything about the disease.  At the hotel at Waikiki a lady
expressed shuddering amazement at my having the hardihood to pay a visit
to the Settlement.  On talking with her I learned that she had been born
in Honolulu, had lived there all her life, and had never laid eyes on a
leper.  That was more than I could say of myself in the United States,
where the segregation of lepers is loosely enforced and where I have
repeatedly seen lepers on the streets of large cities.

Leprosy is terrible, there is no getting away from that; but from what
little I know of the disease and its degree of contagiousness, I would by
far prefer to spend the rest of my days in Molokai than in any
tuberculosis sanatorium.  In every city and county hospital for poor
people in the United States, or in similar institutions in other
countries, sights as terrible as those in Molokai can be witnessed, and
the sum total of these sights is vastly more terrible.  For that matter,
if it were given me to choose between being compelled to live in Molokai
for the rest of my life, or in the East End of London, the East Side of
New York, or the Stockyards of Chicago, I would select Molokai without
debate.  I would prefer one year of life in Molokai to five years of life
in the above-mentioned cesspools of human degradation and misery.

In Molokai the people are happy.  I shall never forget the celebration of
the Fourth of July I witnessed there.  At six o’clock in the morning the
“horribles” were out, dressed fantastically, astride horses, mules, and
donkeys (their own property), and cutting capers all over the Settlement.
Two brass bands were out as well.  Then there were the _pa-u_ riders,
thirty or forty of them, Hawaiian women all, superb horsewomen dressed
gorgeously in the old, native riding costume, and dashing about in twos
and threes and groups.  In the afternoon Charmian and I stood in the
judge’s stand and awarded the prizes for horsemanship and costume to the
_pa-u_ riders.  All about were the hundreds of lepers, with wreaths of
flowers on heads and necks and shoulders, looking on and making merry.
And always, over the brows of hills and across the grassy level
stretches, appearing and disappearing, were the groups of men and women,
gaily dressed, on galloping horses, horses and riders flower-bedecked and
flower-garlanded, singing, and laughing, and riding like the wind.  And
as I stood in the judge’s stand and looked at all this, there came to my
recollection the lazar house of Havana, where I had once beheld some two
hundred lepers, prisoners inside four restricted walls until they died.
No, there are a few thousand places I wot of in this world over which I
would select Molokai as a place of permanent residence.  In the evening
we went to one of the leper assembly halls, where, before a crowded
audience, the singing societies contested for prizes, and where the night
wound up with a dance.  I have seen the Hawaiians living in the slums of
Honolulu, and, having seen them, I can readily understand why the lepers,
brought up from the Settlement for re-examination, shouted one and all,
“Back to Molokai!”

One thing is certain.  The leper in the Settlement is far better off than
the leper who lies in hiding outside.  Such a leper is a lonely outcast,
living in constant fear of discovery and slowly and surely rotting away.
The action of leprosy is not steady.  It lays hold of its victim, commits
a ravage, and then lies dormant for an indeterminate period.  It may not
commit another ravage for five years, or ten years, or forty years, and
the patient may enjoy uninterrupted good health.  Rarely, however, do
these first ravages cease of themselves.  The skilled surgeon is
required, and the skilled surgeon cannot be called in for the leper who
is in hiding.  For instance, the first ravage may take the form of a
perforating ulcer in the sole of the foot.  When the bone is reached,
necrosis sets in.  If the leper is in hiding, he cannot be operated upon,
the necrosis will continue to eat its way up the bone of the leg, and in
a brief and horrible time that leper will die of gangrene or some other
terrible complication.  On the other hand, if that same leper is in
Molokai, the surgeon will operate upon the foot, remove the ulcer,
cleanse the bone, and put a complete stop to that particular ravage of
the disease.  A month after the operation the leper will be out riding
horseback, running foot races, swimming in the breakers, or climbing the
giddy sides of the valleys for mountain apples.  And as has been stated
before, the disease, lying dormant, may not again attack him for five,
ten, or forty years.

The old horrors of leprosy go back to the conditions that obtained before
the days of antiseptic surgery, and before the time when physicians like
Dr. Goodhue and Dr. Hollmann went to live at the Settlement.  Dr. Goodhue
is the pioneer surgeon there, and too much praise cannot be given him for
the noble work he has done.  I spent one morning in the operating room
with him and of the three operations he performed, two were on men,
newcomers, who had arrived on the same steamer with me.  In each case,
the disease had attacked in one spot only.  One had a perforating ulcer
in the ankle, well advanced, and the other man was suffering from a
similar affliction, well advanced, under his arm.  Both cases were well
advanced because the man had been on the outside and had not been
treated.  In each case.  Dr. Goodhue put an immediate and complete stop
to the ravage, and in four weeks those two men will be as well and
able-bodied as they ever were in their lives.  The only difference
between them and you or me is that the disease is lying dormant in their
bodies and may at any future time commit another ravage.

Leprosy is as old as history.  References to it are found in the earliest
written records.  And yet to-day practically nothing more is known about
it than was known then.  This much was known then, namely, that it was
contagious and that those afflicted by it should be segregated.  The
difference between then and now is that to-day the leper is more rigidly
segregated and more humanely treated.  But leprosy itself still remains
the same awful and profound mystery.  A reading of the reports of the
physicians and specialists of all countries reveals the baffling nature
of the disease.  These leprosy specialists are unanimous on no one phase
of the disease.  They do not know.  In the past they rashly and
dogmatically generalized.  They generalize no longer.  The one possible
generalization that can be drawn from all the investigation that has been
made is that leprosy is _feebly contagious_.  But in what manner it is
feebly contagious is not known.  They have isolated the bacillus of
leprosy.  They can determine by bacteriological examination whether or
not a person is a leper; but they are as far away as ever from knowing
how that bacillus finds its entrance into the body of a non-leper.  They
do not know the length of time of incubation.  They have tried to
inoculate all sorts of animals with leprosy, and have failed.

They are baffled in the discovery of a serum wherewith to fight the
disease.  And in all their work, as yet, they have found no clue, no
cure.  Sometimes there have been blazes of hope, theories of causation
and much heralded cures, but every time the darkness of failure quenched
the flame.  A doctor insists that the cause of leprosy is a
long-continued fish diet, and he proves his theory voluminously till a
physician from the highlands of India demands why the natives of that
district should therefore be afflicted by leprosy when they have never
eaten fish, nor all the generations of their fathers before them.  A man
treats a leper with a certain kind of oil or drug, announces a cure, and
five, ten, or forty years afterwards the disease breaks out again.  It is
this trick of leprosy lying dormant in the body for indeterminate periods
that is responsible for many alleged cures.  But this much is certain:
_as yet there has been no authentic case of a cure_.

Leprosy is _feebly contagious_, but how is it contagious?  An Austrian
physician has inoculated himself and his assistants with leprosy and
failed to catch it.  But this is not conclusive, for there is the famous
case of the Hawaiian murderer who had his sentence of death commuted to
life imprisonment on his agreeing to be inoculated with the _bacillus
lepræ_.  Some time after inoculation, leprosy made its appearance, and
the man died a leper on Molokai.  Nor was this conclusive, for it was
discovered that at the time he was inoculated several members of his
family were already suffering from the disease on Molokai.  He may have
contracted the disease from them, and it may have been well along in its
mysterious period of incubation at the time he was officially inoculated.
Then there is the case of that hero of the Church, Father Damien, who
went to Molokai a clean man and died a leper.  There have been many
theories as to how he contracted leprosy, but nobody knows.  He never
knew himself.  But every chance that he ran has certainly been run by a
woman at present living in the Settlement; who has lived there many
years; who has had five leper husbands, and had children by them; and who
is to-day, as she always has been, free of the disease.

As yet no light has been shed upon the mystery of leprosy.  When more is
learned about the disease, a cure for it may be expected.  Once an
efficacious serum is discovered, and leprosy, because it is so feebly
contagious, will pass away swiftly from the earth.  The battle waged with
it will be short and sharp.  In the meantime, how to discover that serum,
or some other unguessed weapon?  In the present it is a serious matter.
It is estimated that there are half a million lepers, not segregated, in
India alone.  Carnegie libraries, Rockefeller universities, and many
similar benefactions are all very well; but one cannot help thinking how
far a few thousands of dollars would go, say in the leper Settlement of
Molokai.  The residents there are accidents of fate, scapegoats to some
mysterious natural law of which man knows nothing, isolated for the
welfare of their fellows who else might catch the dread disease, even as
they have caught it, nobody knows how.  Not for their sakes merely, but
for the sake of future generations, a few thousands of dollars would go
far in a legitimate and scientific search after a cure for leprosy, for a
serum, or for some undreamed discovery that will enable the medical world
to exterminate the _bacillus lepræ_.  There’s the place for your money,
you philanthropists.


THERE are hosts of people who journey like restless spirits round and
about this earth in search of seascapes and landscapes and the wonders
and beauties of nature.  They overrun Europe in armies; they can be met
in droves and herds in Florida and the West Indies, at the Pyramids, and
on the slopes and summits of the Canadian and American Rockies; but in
the House of the Sun they are as rare as live and wriggling dinosaurs.
Haleakala is the Hawaiian name for “the House of the Sun.”  It is a noble
dwelling, situated on the Island of Maui; but so few tourists have ever
peeped into it, much less entered it, that their number may be
practically reckoned as zero.  Yet I venture to state that for natural
beauty and wonder the nature-lover may see dissimilar things as great as
Haleakala, but no greater, while he will never see elsewhere anything
more beautiful or wonderful.  Honolulu is six days’ steaming from San
Francisco; Maui is a night’s run on the steamer from Honolulu; and six
hours more if he is in a hurry, can bring the traveller to Kolikoli,
which is ten thousand and thirty-two feet above the sea and which stands
hard by the entrance portal to the House of the Sun.  Yet the tourist
comes not, and Haleakala sleeps on in lonely and unseen grandeur.

Not being tourists, we of the _Snark_ went to Haleakala.  On the slopes
of that monster mountain there is a cattle ranch of some fifty thousand
acres, where we spent the night at an altitude of two thousand feet.  The
next morning it was boots and saddles, and with cow-boys and packhorses
we climbed to Ukulele, a mountain ranch-house, the altitude of which,
fifty-five hundred feet, gives a severely temperate climate, compelling
blankets at night and a roaring fireplace in the living-room.  Ukulele,
by the way, is the Hawaiian for “jumping flea” as it is also the Hawaiian
for a certain musical instrument that may be likened to a young guitar.
It is my opinion that the mountain ranch-house was named after the young
guitar.  We were not in a hurry, and we spent the day at Ukulele,
learnedly discussing altitudes and barometers and shaking our particular
barometer whenever any one’s argument stood in need of demonstration.
Our barometer was the most graciously acquiescent instrument I have ever
seen.  Also, we gathered mountain raspberries, large as hen’s eggs and
larger, gazed up the pasture-covered lava slopes to the summit of
Haleakala, forty-five hundred feet above us, and looked down upon a
mighty battle of the clouds that was being fought beneath us, ourselves
in the bright sunshine.

Every day and every day this unending battle goes on.  Ukiukiu is the
name of the trade-wind that comes raging down out of the north-east and
hurls itself upon Haleakala.  Now Haleakala is so bulky and tall that it
turns the north-east trade-wind aside on either hand, so that in the lee
of Haleakala no trade-wind blows at all.  On the contrary, the wind blows
in the counter direction, in the teeth of the north-east trade.  This
wind is called Naulu.  And day and night and always Ukiukiu and Naulu
strive with each other, advancing, retreating, flanking, curving,
curling, and turning and twisting, the conflict made visible by the
cloud-masses plucked from the heavens and hurled back and forth in
squadrons, battalions, armies, and great mountain ranges.  Once in a
while, Ukiukiu, in mighty gusts, flings immense cloud-masses clear over
the summit of Haleakala; whereupon Naulu craftily captures them, lines
them up in new battle-formation, and with them smites back at his ancient
and eternal antagonist.  Then Ukiukiu sends a great cloud-army around the
eastern-side of the mountain.  It is a flanking movement, well executed.
But Naulu, from his lair on the leeward side, gathers the flanking army
in, pulling and twisting and dragging it, hammering it into shape, and
sends it charging back against Ukiukiu around the western side of the
mountain.  And all the while, above and below the main battle-field, high
up the slopes toward the sea, Ukiukiu and Naulu are continually sending
out little wisps of cloud, in ragged skirmish line, that creep and crawl
over the ground, among the trees and through the canyons, and that spring
upon and capture one another in sudden ambuscades and sorties.  And
sometimes Ukiukiu or Naulu, abruptly sending out a heavy charging column,
captures the ragged little skirmishers or drives them skyward, turning
over and over, in vertical whirls, thousands of feet in the air.

But it is on the western slopes of Haleakala that the main battle goes
on.  Here Naulu masses his heaviest formations and wins his greatest
victories.  Ukiukiu grows weak toward late afternoon, which is the way of
all trade-winds, and is driven backward by Naulu.  Naulu’s generalship is
excellent.  All day he has been gathering and packing away immense
reserves.  As the afternoon draws on, he welds them into a solid column,
sharp-pointed, miles in length, a mile in width, and hundreds of feet
thick.  This column he slowly thrusts forward into the broad battle-front
of Ukiukiu, and slowly and surely Ukiukiu, weakening fast, is split
asunder.  But it is not all bloodless.  At times Ukiukiu struggles
wildly, and with fresh accessions of strength from the limitless
north-east, smashes away half a mile at a time of Naulu’s column and
sweeps it off and away toward West Maui.  Sometimes, when the two
charging armies meet end-on, a tremendous perpendicular whirl results,
the cloud-masses, locked together, mounting thousands of feet into the
air and turning over and over.  A favourite device of Ukiukiu is to send
a low, squat formation, densely packed, forward along the ground and
under Naulu.  When Ukiukiu is under, he proceeds to buck.  Naulu’s mighty
middle gives to the blow and bends upward, but usually he turns the
attacking column back upon itself and sets it milling.  And all the while
the ragged little skirmishers, stray and detached, sneak through the
trees and canyons, crawl along and through the grass, and surprise one
another with unexpected leaps and rushes; while above, far above, serene
and lonely in the rays of the setting sun, Haleakala looks down upon the
conflict.  And so, the night.  But in the morning, after the fashion of
trade-winds, Ukiukiu gathers strength and sends the hosts of Naulu
rolling back in confusion and rout.  And one day is like another day in
the battle of the clouds, where Ukiukiu and Naulu strive eternally on the
slopes of Haleakala.

Again in the morning, it was boots and saddles, cow-boys, and packhorses,
and the climb to the top began.  One packhorse carried twenty gallons of
water, slung in five-gallon bags on either side; for water is precious
and rare in the crater itself, in spite of the fact that several miles to
the north and east of the crater-rim more rain comes down than in any
other place in the world.  The way led upward across countless lava
flows, without regard for trails, and never have I seen horses with such
perfect footing as that of the thirteen that composed our outfit.  They
climbed or dropped down perpendicular places with the sureness and
coolness of mountain goats, and never a horse fell or baulked.

There is a familiar and strange illusion experienced by all who climb
isolated mountains.  The higher one climbs, the more of the earth’s
surface becomes visible, and the effect of this is that the horizon seems
up-hill from the observer.  This illusion is especially notable on
Haleakala, for the old volcano rises directly from the sea without
buttresses or connecting ranges.  In consequence, as fast as we climbed
up the grim slope of Haleakala, still faster did Haleakala, ourselves,
and all about us, sink down into the centre of what appeared a profound
abyss.  Everywhere, far above us, towered the horizon.  The ocean sloped
down from the horizon to us.  The higher we climbed, the deeper did we
seem to sink down, the farther above us shone the horizon, and the
steeper pitched the grade up to that horizontal line where sky and ocean
met.  It was weird and unreal, and vagrant thoughts of Simm’s Hole and of
the volcano through which Jules Verne journeyed to the centre of the
earth flitted through one’s mind.

And then, when at last we reached the summit of that monster mountain,
which summit was like the bottom of an inverted cone situated in the
centre of an awful cosmic pit, we found that we were at neither top nor
bottom.  Far above us was the heaven-towering horizon, and far beneath
us, where the top of the mountain should have been, was a deeper deep,
the great crater, the House of the Sun.  Twenty-three miles around
stretched the dizzy wells of the crater.  We stood on the edge of the
nearly vertical western wall, and the floor of the crater lay nearly half
a mile beneath.  This floor, broken by lava-flows and cinder-cones, was
as red and fresh and uneroded as if it were but yesterday that the fires
went out.  The cinder-cones, the smallest over four hundred feet in
height and the largest over nine hundred, seemed no more than puny little
sand-hills, so mighty was the magnitude of the setting.  Two gaps,
thousands of feet deep, broke the rim of the crater, and through these
Ukiukiu vainly strove to drive his fleecy herds of trade-wind clouds.  As
fast as they advanced through the gaps, the heat of the crater dissipated
them into thin air, and though they advanced always, they got nowhere.

It was a scene of vast bleakness and desolation, stern, forbidding,
fascinating.  We gazed down upon a place of fire and earthquake.  The
tie-ribs of earth lay bare before us.  It was a workshop of nature still
cluttered with the raw beginnings of world-making.  Here and there great
dikes of primordial rock had thrust themselves up from the bowels of
earth, straight through the molten surface-ferment that had evidently
cooled only the other day.  It was all unreal and unbelievable.  Looking
upward, far above us (in reality beneath us) floated the cloud-battle of
Ukiukiu and Naulu.  And higher up the slope of the seeming abyss, above
the cloud-battle, in the air and sky, hung the islands of Lanai and
Molokai.  Across the crater, to the south-east, still apparently looking
upward, we saw ascending, first, the turquoise sea, then the white
surf-line of the shore of Hawaii; above that the belt of trade-clouds,
and next, eighty miles away, rearing their stupendous hulks out of the
azure sky, tipped with snow, wreathed with cloud, trembling like a
mirage, the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa hung poised on the wall of

It is told that long ago, one Maui, the son of Hina, lived on what is now
known as West Maui.  His mother, Hina, employed her time in the making of
_kapas_.  She must have made them at night, for her days were occupied in
trying to dry the _kapas_.  Each morning, and all morning, she toiled at
spreading them out in the sun.  But no sooner were they out, than she
began taking them in, in order to have them all under shelter for the
night.  For know that the days were shorter then than now.  Maui watched
his mother’s futile toil and felt sorry for her.  He decided to do
something—oh, no, not to help her hang out and take in the _kapas_.  He
was too clever for that.  His idea was to make the sun go slower.
Perhaps he was the first Hawaiian astronomer.  At any rate, he took a
series of observations of the sun from various parts of the island.  His
conclusion was that the sun’s path was directly across Haleakala.  Unlike
Joshua, he stood in no need of divine assistance.  He gathered a huge
quantity of coconuts, from the fibre of which he braided a stout cord,
and in one end of which he made a noose, even as the cow-boys of
Haleakala do to this day.  Next he climbed into the House of the Sun and
laid in wait.  When the sun came tearing along the path, bent on
completing its journey in the shortest time possible, the valiant youth
threw his lariat around one of the sun’s largest and strongest beams.  He
made the sun slow down some; also, he broke the beam short off.  And he
kept on roping and breaking off beams till the sun said it was willing to
listen to reason.  Maui set forth his terms of peace, which the sun
accepted, agreeing to go more slowly thereafter.  Wherefore Hina had
ample time in which to dry her _kapas_, and the days are longer than they
used to be, which last is quite in accord with the teachings of modern

We had a lunch of jerked beef and hard _poi_ in a stone corral, used of
old time for the night-impounding of cattle being driven across the
island.  Then we skirted the rim for half a mile and began the descent
into the crater.  Twenty-five hundred feet beneath lay the floor, and
down a steep slope of loose volcanic cinders we dropped, the sure-footed
horses slipping and sliding, but always keeping their feet.  The black
surface of the cinders, when broken by the horses’ hoofs, turned to a
yellow ochre dust, virulent in appearance and acid of taste, that arose
in clouds.  There was a gallop across a level stretch to the mouth of a
convenient blow-hole, and then the descent continued in clouds of
volcanic dust, winding in and out among cinder-cones, brick-red, old
rose, and purplish black of colour.  Above us, higher and higher, towered
the crater-walls, while we journeyed on across innumerable lava-flows,
turning and twisting a devious way among the adamantine billows of a
petrified sea.  Saw-toothed waves of lava vexed the surface of this weird
ocean, while on either hand arose jagged crests and spiracles of
fantastic shape.  Our way led on past a bottomless pit and along and over
the main stream of the latest lava-flow for seven miles.

At the lower end of the crater was our camping spot, in a small grove of
_olapa_ and _kolea_ trees, tucked away in a corner of the crater at the
base of walls that rose perpendicularly fifteen hundred feet.  Here was
pasturage for the horses, but no water, and first we turned aside and
picked our way across a mile of lava to a known water-hole in a crevice
in the crater-wall.  The water-hole was empty.  But on climbing fifty
feet up the crevice, a pool was found containing half a dozen barrels of
water.  A pail was carried up, and soon a steady stream of the precious
liquid was running down the rock and filling the lower pool, while the
cow-boys below were busy fighting the horses back, for there was room for
one only to drink at a time.  Then it was on to camp at the foot of the
wall, up which herds of wild goats scrambled and blatted, while the tent
arose to the sound of rifle-firing.  Jerked beef, hard _poi_, and broiled
kid were the menu.  Over the crest of the crater, just above our heads,
rolled a sea of clouds, driven on by Ukiukiu.  Though this sea rolled
over the crest unceasingly, it never blotted out nor dimmed the moon, for
the heat of the crater dissolved the clouds as fast as they rolled in.
Through the moonlight, attracted by the camp-fire, came the crater cattle
to peer and challenge.  They were rolling fat, though they rarely drank
water, the morning dew on the grass taking its place.  It was because of
this dew that the tent made a welcome bedchamber, and we fell asleep to
the chanting of _hulas_ by the unwearied Hawaiian cow-boys, in whose
veins, no doubt, ran the blood of Maui, their valiant forebear.

The camera cannot do justice to the House of the Sun.  The sublimated
chemistry of photography may not lie, but it certainly does not tell all
the truth.  The Koolau Gap may be faithfully reproduced, just as it
impinged on the retina of the camera, yet in the resulting picture the
gigantic scale of things would be missing.  Those walls that seem several
hundred feet in height are almost as many thousand; that entering wedge
of cloud is a mile and a half wide in the gap itself, while beyond the
gap it is a veritable ocean; and that foreground of cinder-cone and
volcanic ash, mushy and colourless in appearance, is in truth
gorgeous-hued in brick-red, terra-cotta rose, yellow ochre, and purplish
black.  Also, words are a vain thing and drive to despair.  To say that a
crater-wall is two thousand feet high is to say just precisely that it is
two thousand feet high; but there is a vast deal more to that crater-wall
than a mere statistic.  The sun is ninety-three millions of miles
distant, but to mortal conception the adjoining county is farther away.
This frailty of the human brain is hard on the sun.  It is likewise hard
on the House of the Sun.  Haleakala has a message of beauty and wonder
for the human soul that cannot be delivered by proxy.  Kolikoli is six
hours from Kahului; Kahului is a night’s run from Honolulu; Honolulu is
six days from San Francisco; and there you are.

We climbed the crater-walls, put the horses over impossible places,
rolled stones, and shot wild goats.  I did not get any goats.  I was too
busy rolling stones.  One spot in particular I remember, where we started
a stone the size of a horse.  It began the descent easy enough, rolling
over, wobbling, and threatening to stop; but in a few minutes it was
soaring through the air two hundred feet at a jump.  It grew rapidly
smaller until it struck a slight slope of volcanic sand, over which it
darted like a startled jackrabbit, kicking up behind it a tiny trail of
yellow dust.  Stone and dust diminished in size, until some of the party
said the stone had stopped.  That was because they could not see it any
longer.  It had vanished into the distance beyond their ken.  Others saw
it rolling farther on—I know I did; and it is my firm conviction that
that stone is still rolling.

Our last day in the crater, Ukiukiu gave us a taste of his strength.  He
smashed Naulu back all along the line, filled the House of the Sun to
overflowing with clouds, and drowned us out.  Our rain-gauge was a pint
cup under a tiny hole in the tent.  That last night of storm and rain
filled the cup, and there was no way of measuring the water that spilled
over into the blankets.  With the rain-gauge out of business there was no
longer any reason for remaining; so we broke camp in the wet-gray of
dawn, and plunged eastward across the lava to the Kaupo Gap.  East Maui
is nothing more or less than the vast lava stream that flowed long ago
through the Kaupo Gap; and down this stream we picked our way from an
altitude of six thousand five hundred feet to the sea.  This was a day’s
work in itself for the horses; but never were there such horses.  Safe in
the bad places, never rushing, never losing their heads, as soon as they
found a trail wide and smooth enough to run on, they ran.  There was no
stopping them until the trail became bad again, and then they stopped of
themselves.  Continuously, for days, they had performed the hardest kind
of work, and fed most of the time on grass foraged by themselves at night
while we slept, and yet that day they covered twenty-eight leg-breaking
miles and galloped into Hana like a bunch of colts.  Also, there were
several of them, reared in the dry region on the leeward side of
Haleakala, that had never worn shoes in all their lives.  Day after day,
and all day long, unshod, they had travelled over the sharp lava, with
the extra weight of a man on their backs, and their hoofs were in better
condition than those of the shod horses.

The scenery between Vieiras’s (where the Kaupo Gap empties into the sea)
and Lana, which we covered in half a day, is well worth a week or month;
but, wildly beautiful as it is, it becomes pale and small in comparison
with the wonderland that lies beyond the rubber plantations between Hana
and the Honomanu Gulch.  Two days were required to cover this marvellous
stretch, which lies on the windward side of Haleakala.  The people who
dwell there call it the “ditch country,” an unprepossessing name, but it
has no other.  Nobody else ever comes there.  Nobody else knows anything
about it.  With the exception of a handful of men, whom business has
brought there, nobody has heard of the ditch country of Maui.  Now a
ditch is a ditch, assumably muddy, and usually traversing uninteresting
and monotonous landscapes.  But the Nahiku Ditch is not an ordinary
ditch.  The windward side of Haleakala is serried by a thousand
precipitous gorges, down which rush as many torrents, each torrent of
which achieves a score of cascades and waterfalls before it reaches the
sea.  More rain comes down here than in any other region in the world.
In 1904 the year’s downpour was four hundred and twenty inches.  Water
means sugar, and sugar is the backbone of the territory of Hawaii,
wherefore the Nahiku Ditch, which is not a ditch, but a chain of tunnels.
The water travels underground, appearing only at intervals to leap a
gorge, travelling high in the air on a giddy flume and plunging into and
through the opposing mountain.  This magnificent waterway is called a
“ditch,” and with equal appropriateness can Cleopatra’s barge be called a

There are no carriage roads through the ditch country, and before the
ditch was built, or bored, rather, there was no horse-trail.  Hundreds of
inches of rain annually, on fertile soil, under a tropic sun, means a
steaming jungle of vegetation.  A man, on foot, cutting his way through,
might advance a mile a day, but at the end of a week he would be a wreck,
and he would have to crawl hastily back if he wanted to get out before
the vegetation overran the passage way he had cut.  O’Shaughnessy was the
daring engineer who conquered the jungle and the gorges, ran the ditch
and made the horse-trail.  He built enduringly, in concrete and masonry,
and made one of the most remarkable water-farms in the world.  Every
little runlet and dribble is harvested and conveyed by subterranean
channels to the main ditch.  But so heavily does it rain at times that
countless spillways let the surplus escape to the sea.

The horse-trail is not very wide.  Like the engineer who built it, it
dares anything.  Where the ditch plunges through the mountain, it climbs
over; and where the ditch leaps a gorge on a flume, the horse-trail takes
advantage of the ditch and crosses on top of the flume.  That careless
trail thinks nothing of travelling up or down the faces of precipices.
It gouges its narrow way out of the wall, dodging around waterfalls or
passing under them where they thunder down in white fury; while straight
overhead the wall rises hundreds of feet, and straight beneath it sinks a
thousand.  And those marvellous mountain horses are as unconcerned as the
trail.  They fox-trot along it as a matter of course, though the footing
is slippery with rain, and they will gallop with their hind feet slipping
over the edge if you let them.  I advise only those with steady nerves
and cool heads to tackle the Nahiku Ditch trail.  One of our cow-boys was
noted as the strongest and bravest on the big ranch.  He had ridden
mountain horses all his life on the rugged western slopes of Haleakala.
He was first in the horse-breaking; and when the others hung back, as a
matter of course, he would go in to meet a wild bull in the cattle-pen.
He had a reputation.  But he had never ridden over the Nahiku Ditch.  It
was there he lost his reputation.  When he faced the first flume,
spanning a hair-raising gorge, narrow, without railings, with a bellowing
waterfall above, another below, and directly beneath a wild cascade, the
air filled with driving spray and rocking to the clamour and rush of
sound and motion—well, that cow-boy dismounted from his horse, explained
briefly that he had a wife and two children, and crossed over on foot,
leading the horse behind him.

The only relief from the flumes was the precipices; and the only relief
from the precipices was the flumes, except where the ditch was far under
ground, in which case we crossed one horse and rider at a time, on
primitive log-bridges that swayed and teetered and threatened to carry
away.  I confess that at first I rode such places with my feet loose in
the stirrups, and that on the sheer walls I saw to it, by a definite,
conscious act of will, that the foot in the outside stirrup, overhanging
the thousand feet of fall, was exceedingly loose.  I say “at first”; for,
as in the crater itself we quickly lost our conception of magnitude, so,
on the Nahiku Ditch, we quickly lost our apprehension of depth.  The
ceaseless iteration of height and depth produced a state of consciousness
in which height and depth were accepted as the ordinary conditions of
existence; and from the horse’s back to look sheer down four hundred or
five hundred feet became quite commonplace and non-productive of thrills.
And as carelessly as the trail and the horses, we swung along the dizzy
heights and ducked around or through the waterfalls.

And such a ride!  Falling water was everywhere.  We rode above the
clouds, under the clouds, and through the clouds! and every now and then
a shaft of sunshine penetrated like a search-light to the depths yawning
beneath us, or flashed upon some pinnacle of the crater-rim thousands of
feet above.  At every turn of the trail a waterfall or a dozen
waterfalls, leaping hundreds of feet through the air, burst upon our
vision.  At our first night’s camp, in the Keanae Gulch, we counted
thirty-two waterfalls from a single viewpoint.  The vegetation ran riot
over that wild land.  There were forests of koa and kolea trees, and
candlenut trees; and then there were the trees called ohia-ai, which bore
red mountain apples, mellow and juicy and most excellent to eat.  Wild
bananas grew everywhere, clinging to the sides of the gorges, and,
overborne by their great bunches of ripe fruit, falling across the trail
and blocking the way.  And over the forest surged a sea of green life,
the climbers of a thousand varieties, some that floated airily, in
lacelike filaments, from the tallest branches others that coiled and
wound about the trees like huge serpents; and one, the ei-ei, that was
for all the world like a climbing palm, swinging on a thick stem from
branch to branch and tree to tree and throttling the supports whereby it
climbed.  Through the sea of green, lofty tree-ferns thrust their great
delicate fronds, and the lehua flaunted its scarlet blossoms.  Underneath
the climbers, in no less profusion, grew the warm-coloured,
strangely-marked plants that in the United States one is accustomed to
seeing preciously conserved in hot-houses.  In fact, the ditch country of
Maui is nothing more nor less than a huge conservatory.  Every familiar
variety of fern flourishes, and more varieties that are unfamiliar, from
the tiniest maidenhair to the gross and voracious staghorn, the latter
the terror of the woodsmen, interlacing with itself in tangled masses
five or six feet deep and covering acres.

Never was there such a ride.  For two days it lasted, when we emerged
into rolling country, and, along an actual wagon-road, came home to the
ranch at a gallop.  I know it was cruel to gallop the horses after such a
long, hard journey; but we blistered our hands in vain effort to hold
them in.  That’s the sort of horses they grow on Haleakala.  At the ranch
there was great festival of cattle-driving, branding, and horse-breaking.
Overhead Ukiukiu and Naulu battled valiantly, and far above, in the
sunshine, towered the mighty summit of Haleakala.


_Sandwich Islands to Tahiti_.—_There is great difficulty in making this
passage across the trades_.  _The whalers and all others speak with great
doubt of fetching Tahiti from the Sandwich islands_.  _Capt. Bruce says
that a vessel should keep to the northward until she gets a start of wind
before bearing for her destination_.  _In his passage between them in
November_, 1837, _he had no variables near the line in coming south_,
_and never could make easting on either tack_, _though he endeavoured by
every means to do so_.

SO say the sailing directions for the South Pacific Ocean; and that is
all they say.  There is not a word more to help the weary voyager in
making this long traverse—nor is there any word at all concerning the
passage from Hawaii to the Marquesas, which lie some eight hundred miles
to the northeast of Tahiti and which are the more difficult to reach by
just that much.  The reason for the lack of directions is, I imagine,
that no voyager is supposed to make himself weary by attempting so
impossible a traverse.  But the impossible did not deter the
_Snark_,—principally because of the fact that we did not read that
particular little paragraph in the sailing directions until after we had
started.  We sailed from Hilo, Hawaii, on October 7, and arrived at
Nuka-hiva, in the Marquesas, on December 6.  The distance was two
thousand miles as the crow flies, while we actually travelled at least
four thousand miles to accomplish it, thus proving for once and for ever
that the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight
line.  Had we headed directly for the Marquesas, we might have travelled
five or six thousand miles.

Upon one thing we were resolved: we would not cross the Line west of 130°
west longitude.  For here was the problem.  To cross the Line to the west
of that point, if the southeast trades were well around to the southeast,
would throw us so far to leeward of the Marquesas that a head-beat would
be maddeningly impossible.  Also, we had to remember the equatorial
current, which moves west at a rate of anywhere from twelve to
seventy-five miles a day.  A pretty pickle, indeed, to be to leeward of
our destination with such a current in our teeth.  No; not a minute, nor
a second, west of 130° west longitude would we cross the Line.  But since
the southeast trades were to be expected five or six degrees north of the
Line (which, if they were well around to the southeast or
south-southeast, would necessitate our sliding off toward
south-southwest), we should have to hold to the eastward, north of the
Line, and north of the southeast trades, until we gained at least 128°
west longitude.

I have forgotten to mention that the seventy-horse-power gasolene engine,
as usual, was not working, and that we could depend upon wind alone.
Neither was the launch engine working.  And while I am about it, I may as
well confess that the five-horse-power, which ran the lights, fans, and
pumps, was also on the sick-list.  A striking title for a book haunts me,
waking and sleeping.  I should like to write that book some day and to
call it “Around the World with Three Gasolene Engines and a Wife.”  But I
am afraid I shall not write it, for fear of hurting the feelings of some
of the young gentlemen of San Francisco, Honolulu, and Hilo, who learned
their trades at the expense of the _Snark’s_ engines.

It looked easy on paper.  Here was Hilo and there was our objective, 128°
west longitude.  With the northeast trade blowing we could travel a
straight line between the two points, and even slack our sheets off a
goodly bit.  But one of the chief troubles with the trades is that one
never knows just where he will pick them up and just in what direction
they will be blowing.  We picked up the northeast trade right outside of
Hilo harbour, but the miserable breeze was away around into the east.
Then there was the north equatorial current setting westward like a
mighty river.  Furthermore, a small boat, by the wind and bucking into a
big headsea, does not work to advantage.  She jogs up and down and gets
nowhere.  Her sails are full and straining, every little while she
presses her lee-rail under, she flounders, and bumps, and splashes, and
that is all.  Whenever she begins to gather way, she runs ker-chug into a
big mountain of water and is brought to a standstill.  So, with the
_Snark_, the resultant of her smallness, of the trade around into the
east, and of the strong equatorial current, was a long sag south.  Oh,
she did not go quite south.  But the easting she made was distressing.
On October 11, she made forty miles easting; October 12, fifteen miles;
October 13, no easting; October 14, thirty miles; October 15,
twenty-three miles; October 16, eleven miles; and on October 17, she
actually went to the westward four miles.  Thus, in a week she made one
hundred and fifteen miles easting, which was equivalent to sixteen miles
a day.  But, between the longitude of Hilo and 128° west longitude is a
difference of twenty-seven degrees, or, roughly, sixteen hundred miles.
At sixteen miles a day, one hundred days would be required to accomplish
this distance.  And even then, our objective, 128° west longitude, was
five degrees north of the Line, while Nuka-hiva, in the Marquesas, lay
nine degrees south of the Line and twelve degrees to the west!

There remained only one thing to do—to work south out of the trade and
into the variables.  It is true that Captain Bruce found no variables on
his traverse, and that he “never could make easting on either tack.”  It
was the variables or nothing with us, and we prayed for better luck than
he had had.  The variables constitute the belt of ocean lying between the
trades and the doldrums, and are conjectured to be the draughts of heated
air which rise in the doldrums, flow high in the air counter to the
trades, and gradually sink down till they fan the surface of the ocean
where they are found.  And they are found where they are found; for they
are wedged between the trades and the doldrums, which same shift their
territory from day to day and month to month.

We found the variables in 11° north latitude, and 11° north latitude we
hugged jealously.  To the south lay the doldrums.  To the north lay the
northeast trade that refused to blow from the northeast.  The days came
and went, and always they found the _Snark_ somewhere near the eleventh
parallel.  The variables were truly variable.  A light head-wind would
die away and leave us rolling in a calm for forty-eight hours.  Then a
light head-wind would spring up, blow for three hours, and leave us
rolling in another calm for forty-eight hours.  Then—hurrah!—the wind
would come out of the west, fresh, beautifully fresh, and send the
_Snark_ along, wing and wing, her wake bubbling, the log-line straight
astern.  At the end of half an hour, while we were preparing to set the
spinnaker, with a few sickly gasps the wind would die away.  And so it
went.  We wagered optimistically on every favourable fan of air that
lasted over five minutes; but it never did any good.  The fans faded out
just the same.

But there were exceptions.  In the variables, if you wait long enough,
something is bound to happen, and we were so plentifully stocked with
food and water that we could afford to wait.  On October 26, we actually
made one hundred and three miles of easting, and we talked about it for
days afterwards.  Once we caught a moderate gale from the south, which
blew itself out in eight hours, but it helped us to seventy-one miles of
easting in that particular twenty-four hours.  And then, just as it was
expiring, the wind came straight out from the north (the directly
opposite quarter), and fanned us along over another degree of easting.

In years and years no sailing vessel has attempted this traverse, and we
found ourselves in the midst of one of the loneliest of the Pacific
solitudes.  In the sixty days we were crossing it we sighted no sail,
lifted no steamer’s smoke above the horizon.  A disabled vessel could
drift in this deserted expanse for a dozen generations, and there would
be no rescue.  The only chance of rescue would be from a vessel like the
_Snark_, and the _Snark_ happened to be there principally because of the
fact that the traverse had been begun before the particular paragraph in
the sailing directions had been read.  Standing upright on deck, a
straight line drawn from the eye to the horizon would measure three miles
and a half.  Thus, seven miles was the diameter of the circle of the sea
in which we had our centre.  Since we remained always in the centre, and
since we constantly were moving in some direction, we looked upon many
circles.  But all circles looked alike.  No tufted islets, gray
headlands, nor glistening patches of white canvas ever marred the
symmetry of that unbroken curve.  Clouds came and went, rising up over
the rim of the circle, flowing across the space of it, and spilling away
and down across the opposite rim.

The world faded as the procession of the weeks marched by.  The world
faded until at last there ceased to be any world except the little world
of the _Snark_, freighted with her seven souls and floating on the
expanse of the waters.  Our memories of the world, the great world,
became like dreams of former lives we had lived somewhere before we came
to be born on the _Snark_.  After we had been out of fresh vegetables for
some time, we mentioned such things in much the same way I have heard my
father mention the vanished apples of his boyhood.  Man is a creature of
habit, and we on the _Snark_ had got the habit of the _Snark_.
Everything about her and aboard her was as a matter of course, and
anything different would have been an irritation and an offence.

There was no way by which the great world could intrude.  Our bell rang
the hours, but no caller ever rang it.  There were no guests to dinner,
no telegrams, no insistent telephone jangles invading our privacy.  We
had no engagements to keep, no trains to catch, and there were no morning
newspapers over which to waste time in learning what was happening to our
fifteen hundred million other fellow-creatures.

But it was not dull.  The affairs of our little world had to be
regulated, and, unlike the great world, our world had to be steered in
its journey through space.  Also, there were cosmic disturbances to be
encountered and baffled, such as do not afflict the big earth in its
frictionless orbit through the windless void.  And we never knew, from
moment to moment, what was going to happen next.  There were spice and
variety enough and to spare.  Thus, at four in the morning, I relieve
Hermann at the wheel.

“East-northeast,” he gives me the course.  “She’s eight points off, but
she ain’t steering.”

Small wonder.  The vessel does not exist that can be steered in so
absolute a calm.

“I had a breeze a little while ago—maybe it will come back again,”
Hermann says hopefully, ere he starts forward to the cabin and his bunk.

The mizzen is in and fast furled.  In the night, what of the roll and the
absence of wind, it had made life too hideous to be permitted to go on
rasping at the mast, smashing at the tackles, and buffeting the empty air
into hollow outbursts of sound.  But the big mainsail is still on, and
the staysail, jib, and flying-jib are snapping and slashing at their
sheets with every roll.  Every star is out.  Just for luck I put the
wheel hard over in the opposite direction to which it had been left by
Hermann, and I lean back and gaze up at the stars.  There is nothing else
for me to do.  There is nothing to be done with a sailing vessel rolling
in a stark calm.

Then I feel a fan on my cheek, faint, so faint, that I can just sense it
ere it is gone.  But another comes, and another, until a real and just
perceptible breeze is blowing.  How the _Snark’s_ sails manage to feel it
is beyond me, but feel it they do, as she does as well, for the compass
card begins slowly to revolve in the binnacle.  In reality, it is not
revolving at all.  It is held by terrestrial magnetism in one place, and
it is the _Snark_ that is revolving, pivoted upon that delicate cardboard
device that floats in a closed vessel of alcohol.

So the _Snark_ comes back on her course.  The breath increases to a tiny
puff.  The _Snark_ feels the weight of it and actually heels over a
trifle.  There is flying scud overhead, and I notice the stars being
blotted out.  Walls of darkness close in upon me, so that, when the last
star is gone, the darkness is so near that it seems I can reach out and
touch it on every side.  When I lean toward it, I can feel it loom
against my face.  Puff follows puff, and I am glad the mizzen is furled.
Phew! that was a stiff one!  The _Snark_ goes over and down until her
lee-rail is buried and the whole Pacific Ocean is pouring in.  Four or
five of these gusts make me wish that the jib and flying-jib were in.
The sea is picking up, the gusts are growing stronger and more frequent,
and there is a splatter of wet in the air.  There is no use in attempting
to gaze to windward.  The wall of blackness is within arm’s length.  Yet
I cannot help attempting to see and gauge the blows that are being struck
at the _Snark_.  There is something ominous and menacing up there to
windward, and I have a feeling that if I look long enough and strong
enough, I shall divine it.  Futile feeling.  Between two gusts I leave
the wheel and run forward to the cabin companionway, where I light
matches and consult the barometer.  “29-90” it reads.  That sensitive
instrument refuses to take notice of the disturbance which is humming
with a deep, throaty voice in the rigging.  I get back to the wheel just
in time to meet another gust, the strongest yet.  Well, anyway, the wind
is abeam and the _Snark_ is on her course, eating up easting.  That at
least is well.

The jib and flying-jib bother me, and I wish they were in.  She would
make easier weather of it, and less risky weather likewise.  The wind
snorts, and stray raindrops pelt like birdshot.  I shall certainly have
to call all hands, I conclude; then conclude the next instant to hang on
a little longer.  Maybe this is the end of it, and I shall have called
them for nothing.  It is better to let them sleep.  I hold the _Snark_
down to her task, and from out of the darkness, at right angles, comes a
deluge of rain accompanied by shrieking wind.  Then everything eases
except the blackness, and I rejoice in that I have not called the men.

No sooner does the wind ease than the sea picks up.  The combers are
breaking now, and the boat is tossing like a cork.  Then out of the
blackness the gusts come harder and faster than before.  If only I knew
what was up there to windward in the blackness!  The _Snark_ is making
heavy weather of it, and her lee-rail is buried oftener than not.  More
shrieks and snorts of wind.  Now, if ever, is the time to call the men.
I _will_ call them, I resolve.  Then there is a burst of rain, a
slackening of the wind, and I do not call.  But it is rather lonely,
there at the wheel, steering a little world through howling blackness.
It is quite a responsibility to be all alone on the surface of a little
world in time of stress, doing the thinking for its sleeping inhabitants.
I recoil from the responsibility as more gusts begin to strike and as a
sea licks along the weather rail and splashes over into the cockpit.  The
salt water seems strangely warm to my body and is shot through with
ghostly nodules of phosphorescent light.  I shall surely call all hands
to shorten sail.  Why should they sleep?  I am a fool to have any
compunctions in the matter.  My intellect is arrayed against my heart.
It was my heart that said, “Let them sleep.”  Yes, but it was my
intellect that backed up my heart in that judgment.  Let my intellect
then reverse the judgment; and, while I am speculating as to what
particular entity issued that command to my intellect, the gusts die
away.  Solicitude for mere bodily comfort has no place in practical
seamanship, I conclude sagely; but study the feel of the next series of
gusts and do not call the men.  After all, it _is_ my intellect, behind
everything, procrastinating, measuring its knowledge of what the _Snark_
can endure against the blows being struck at her, and waiting the call of
all hands against the striking of still severer blows.

Daylight, gray and violent, steals through the cloud-pall and shows a
foaming sea that flattens under the weight of recurrent and increasing
squalls.  Then comes the rain, filling the windy valleys of the sea with
milky smoke and further flattening the waves, which but wait for the
easement of wind and rain to leap more wildly than before.  Come the men
on deck, their sleep out, and among them Hermann, his face on the broad
grin in appreciation of the breeze of wind I have picked up.  I turn the
wheel over to Warren and start to go below, pausing on the way to rescue
the galley stovepipe which has gone adrift.  I am barefooted, and my toes
have had an excellent education in the art of clinging; but, as the rail
buries itself in a green sea, I suddenly sit down on the streaming deck.
Hermann good-naturedly elects to question my selection of such a spot.
Then comes the next roll, and he sits down, suddenly, and without
premeditation.  The _Snark_ heels over and down, the rail takes it green,
and Hermann and I, clutching the precious stove-pipe, are swept down into
the lee-scuppers.  After that I finish my journey below, and while
changing my clothes grin with satisfaction—the _Snark_ is making easting.

No, it is not all monotony.  When we had worried along our easting to
126° west longitude, we left the variables and headed south through the
doldrums, where was much calm weather and where, taking advantage of
every fan of air, we were often glad to make a score of miles in as many
hours.  And yet, on such a day, we might pass through a dozen squalls and
be surrounded by dozens more.  And every squall was to be regarded as a
bludgeon capable of crushing the _Snark_.  We were struck sometimes by
the centres and sometimes by the sides of these squalls, and we never
knew just where or how we were to be hit.  The squall that rose up,
covering half the heavens, and swept down upon us, as likely as not split
into two squalls which passed us harmlessly on either side while the
tiny, innocent looking squall that appeared to carry no more than a
hogshead of water and a pound of wind, would abruptly assume cyclopean
proportions, deluging us with rain and overwhelming us with wind.  Then
there were treacherous squalls that went boldly astern and sneaked back
upon us from a mile to leeward.  Again, two squalls would tear along, one
on each side of us, and we would get a fillip from each of them.  Now a
gale certainly grows tiresome after a few hours, but squalls never.  The
thousandth squall in one’s experience is as interesting as the first one,
and perhaps a bit more so.  It is the tyro who has no apprehension of
them.  The man of a thousand squalls respects a squall.  He knows what
they are.

It was in the doldrums that our most exciting event occurred.  On
November 20, we discovered that through an accident we had lost over
one-half of the supply of fresh water that remained to us.  Since we were
at that time forty-three days out from Hilo, our supply of fresh water
was not large.  To lose over half of it was a catastrophe.  On close
allowance, the remnant of water we possessed would last twenty days.  But
we were in the doldrums; there was no telling where the southeast trades
were, nor where we would pick them up.

The handcuffs were promptly put upon the pump, and once a day the water
was portioned out.  Each of us received a quart for personal use, and
eight quarts were given to the cook.  Enters now the psychology of the
situation.  No sooner had the discovery of the water shortage been made
than I, for one, was afflicted with a burning thirst.  It seemed to me
that I had never been so thirsty in my life.  My little quart of water I
could easily have drunk in one draught, and to refrain from doing so
required a severe exertion of will.  Nor was I alone in this.  All of us
talked water, thought water, and dreamed water when we slept.  We
examined the charts for possible islands to which to run in extremity,
but there were no such islands.  The Marquesas were the nearest, and they
were the other side of the Line, and of the doldrums, too, which made it
even worse.  We were in 3° north latitude, while the Marquesas were 9°
south latitude—a difference of over a thousand miles.  Furthermore, the
Marquesas lay some fourteen degrees to the west of our longitude.  A
pretty pickle for a handful of creatures sweltering on the ocean in the
heat of tropic calms.

We rigged lines on either side between the main and mizzen riggings.  To
these we laced the big deck awning, hoisting it up aft with a sailing
pennant so that any rain it might collect would run forward where it
could be caught.  Here and there squalls passed across the circle of the
sea.  All day we watched them, now to port or starboard, and again ahead
or astern.  But never one came near enough to wet us.  In the afternoon a
big one bore down upon us.  It spread out across the ocean as it
approached, and we could see it emptying countless thousands of gallons
into the salt sea.  Extra attention was paid to the awning and then we
waited.  Warren, Martin, and Hermann made a vivid picture.  Grouped
together, holding on to the rigging, swaying to the roll, they were
gazing intently at the squall.  Strain, anxiety, and yearning were in
every posture of their bodies.  Beside them was the dry and empty awning.
But they seemed to grow limp and to droop as the squall broke in half,
one part passing on ahead, the other drawing astern and going to leeward.

But that night came rain.  Martin, whose psychological thirst had
compelled him to drink his quart of water early, got his mouth down to
the lip of the awning and drank the deepest draught I ever have seen
drunk.  The precious water came down in bucketfuls and tubfuls, and in
two hours we caught and stored away in the tanks one hundred and twenty
gallons.  Strange to say, in all the rest of our voyage to the Marquesas
not another drop of rain fell on board.  If that squall had missed us,
the handcuffs would have remained on the pump, and we would have busied
ourselves with utilizing our surplus gasolene for distillation purposes.

Then there was the fishing.  One did not have to go in search of it, for
it was there at the rail.  A three-inch steel hook, on the end of a stout
line, with a piece of white rag for bait, was all that was necessary to
catch bonitas weighing from ten to twenty-five pounds.  Bonitas feed on
flying-fish, wherefore they are unaccustomed to nibbling at the hook.
They strike as gamely as the gamest fish in the sea, and their first run
is something that no man who has ever caught them will forget.  Also,
bonitas are the veriest cannibals.  The instant one is hooked he is
attacked by his fellows.  Often and often we hauled them on board with
fresh, clean-bitten holes in them the size of teacups.

One school of bonitas, numbering many thousands, stayed with us day and
night for more than three weeks.  Aided by the _Snark_, it was great
hunting; for they cut a swath of destruction through the ocean half a
mile wide and fifteen hundred miles in length.  They ranged along abreast
of the _Snark_ on either side, pouncing upon the flying-fish her forefoot
scared up.  Since they were continually pursuing astern the flying-fish
that survived for several flights, they were always overtaking the
_Snark_, and at any time one could glance astern and on the front of a
breaking wave see scores of their silvery forms coasting down just under
the surface.  When they had eaten their fill, it was their delight to get
in the shadow of the boat, or of her sails, and a hundred or so were
always to be seen lazily sliding along and keeping cool.

But the poor flying-fish!  Pursued and eaten alive by the bonitas and
dolphins, they sought flight in the air, where the swooping seabirds
drove them back into the water.  Under heaven there was no refuge for
them.  Flying-fish do not play when they essay the air.  It is a
life-and-death affair with them.  A thousand times a day we could lift
our eyes and see the tragedy played out.  The swift, broken circling of a
guny might attract one’s attention.  A glance beneath shows the back of a
dolphin breaking the surface in a wild rush.  Just in front of its nose a
shimmering palpitant streak of silver shoots from the water into the
air—a delicate, organic mechanism of flight, endowed with sensation,
power of direction, and love of life.  The guny swoops for it and misses,
and the flying-fish, gaining its altitude by rising, kite-like, against
the wind, turns in a half-circle and skims off to leeward, gliding on the
bosom of the wind.  Beneath it, the wake of the dolphin shows in churning
foam.  So he follows, gazing upward with large eyes at the flashing
breakfast that navigates an element other than his own.  He cannot rise
to so lofty occasion, but he is a thorough-going empiricist, and he
knows, sooner or later, if not gobbled up by the guny, that the
flying-fish must return to the water.  And then—breakfast.  We used to
pity the poor winged fish.  It was sad to see such sordid and bloody
slaughter.  And then, in the night watches, when a forlorn little
flying-fish struck the mainsail and fell gasping and splattering on the
deck, we would rush for it just as eagerly, just as greedily, just as
voraciously, as the dolphins and bonitas.  For know that flying-fish are
most toothsome for breakfast.  It is always a wonder to me that such
dainty meat does not build dainty tissue in the bodies of the devourers.
Perhaps the dolphins and bonitas are coarser-fibred because of the high
speed at which they drive their bodies in order to catch their prey.  But
then again, the flying-fish drive their bodies at high speed, too.

Sharks we caught occasionally, on large hooks, with chain-swivels, bent
on a length of small rope.  And sharks meant pilot-fish, and remoras, and
various sorts of parasitic creatures.  Regular man-eaters some of the
sharks proved, tiger-eyed and with twelve rows of teeth, razor-sharp.  By
the way, we of the _Snark_ are agreed that we have eaten many fish that
will not compare with baked shark smothered in tomato dressing.  In the
calms we occasionally caught a fish called “haké” by the Japanese cook.
And once, on a spoon-hook trolling a hundred yards astern, we caught a
snake-like fish, over three feet in length and not more than three inches
in diameter, with four fangs in his jaw.  He proved the most delicious
fish—delicious in meat and flavour—that we have ever eaten on board.

The most welcome addition to our larder was a green sea-turtle, weighing
a full hundred pounds and appearing on the table most appetizingly in
steaks, soups, and stews, and finally in a wonderful curry which tempted
all hands into eating more rice than was good for them.  The turtle was
sighted to windward, calmly sleeping on the surface in the midst of a
huge school of curious dolphins.  It was a deep-sea turtle of a surety,
for the nearest land was a thousand miles away.  We put the _Snark_ about
and went back for him, Hermann driving the granes into his head and neck.
When hauled aboard, numerous remora were clinging to his shell, and out
of the hollows at the roots of his flippers crawled several large crabs.
It did not take the crew of the _Snark_ longer than the next meal to
reach the unanimous conclusion that it would willingly put the _Snark_
about any time for a turtle.

But it is the dolphin that is the king of deep-sea fishes.  Never is his
colour twice quite the same.  Swimming in the sea, an ethereal creature
of palest azure, he displays in that one guise a miracle of colour.  But
it is nothing compared with the displays of which he is capable.  At one
time he will appear green—pale green, deep green, phosphorescent green;
at another time blue—deep blue, electric blue, all the spectrum of blue.
Catch him on a hook, and he turns to gold, yellow gold, all gold.  Haul
him on deck, and he excels the spectrum, passing through inconceivable
shades of blues, greens, and yellows, and then, suddenly, turning a
ghostly white, in the midst of which are bright blue spots, and you
suddenly discover that he is speckled like a trout.  Then back from white
he goes, through all the range of colours, finally turning to a

For those who are devoted to fishing, I can recommend no finer sport than
catching dolphin.  Of course, it must be done on a thin line with reel
and pole.  A No. 7, O’Shaughnessy tarpon hook is just the thing, baited
with an entire flying-fish.  Like the bonita, the dolphin’s fare consists
of flying-fish, and he strikes like lightning at the bait.  The first
warning is when the reel screeches and you see the line smoking out at
right angles to the boat.  Before you have time to entertain anxiety
concerning the length of your line, the fish rises into the air in a
succession of leaps.  Since he is quite certain to be four feet long or
over, the sport of landing so gamey a fish can be realized.  When hooked,
he invariably turns golden.  The idea of the series of leaps is to rid
himself of the hook, and the man who has made the strike must be of iron
or decadent if his heart does not beat with an extra flutter when he
beholds such gorgeous fish, glittering in golden mail and shaking itself
like a stallion in each mid-air leap.  ’Ware slack!  If you don’t, on one
of those leaps the hook will be flung out and twenty feet away.  No
slack, and away he will go on another run, culminating in another series
of leaps.  About this time one begins to worry over the line, and to wish
that he had had nine hundred feet on the reel originally instead of six
hundred.  With careful playing the line can be saved, and after an hour
of keen excitement the fish can be brought to gaff.  One such dolphin I
landed on the _Snark_ measured four feet and seven inches.

Hermann caught dolphins more prosaically.  A hand-line and a chunk of
shark-meat were all he needed.  His hand-line was very thick, but on more
than one occasion it parted and lost the fish.  One day a dolphin got
away with a lure of Hermann’s manufacture, to which were lashed four
O’Shaughnessy hooks.  Within an hour the same dolphin was landed with the
rod, and on dissecting him the four hooks were recovered.  The dolphins,
which remained with us over a month, deserted us north of the line, and
not one was seen during the remainder of the traverse.

So the days passed.  There was so much to be done that time never
dragged.  Had there been little to do, time could not have dragged with
such wonderful seascapes and cloudscapes—dawns that were like burning
imperial cities under rainbows that arched nearly to the zenith; sunsets
that bathed the purple sea in rivers of rose-coloured light, flowing from
a sun whose diverging, heaven-climbing rays were of the purest blue.
Overside, in the heat of the day, the sea was an azure satiny fabric, in
the depths of which the sunshine focussed in funnels of light.  Astern,
deep down, when there was a breeze, bubbled a procession of
milky-turquoise ghosts—the foam flung down by the hull of the _Snark_
each time she floundered against a sea.  At night the wake was
phosphorescent fire, where the medusa slime resented our passing bulk,
while far down could be observed the unceasing flight of comets, with
long, undulating, nebulous tails—caused by the passage of the bonitas
through the resentful medusa slime.  And now and again, from out of the
darkness on either hand, just under the surface, larger phosphorescent
organisms flashed up like electric lights, marking collisions with the
careless bonitas skurrying ahead to the good hunting just beyond our

We made our easting, worked down through the doldrums, and caught a fresh
breeze out of south-by-west.  Hauled up by the wind, on such a slant, we
would fetch past the Marquesas far away to the westward.  But the next
day, on Tuesday, November 26, in the thick of a heavy squall, the wind
shifted suddenly to the southeast.  It was the trade at last.  There were
no more squalls, naught but fine weather, a fair wind, and a whirling
log, with sheets slacked off and with spinnaker and mainsail swaying and
bellying on either side.  The trade backed more and more, until it blew
out of the northeast, while we steered a steady course to the southwest.
Ten days of this, and on the morning of December 6, at five o’clock, we
sighted land “just where it ought to have been,” dead ahead.  We passed
to leeward of Ua-huka, skirted the southern edge of Nuka-hiva, and that
night, in driving squalls and inky darkness, fought our way in to an
anchorage in the narrow bay of Taiohae.  The anchor rumbled down to the
blatting of wild goats on the cliffs, and the air we breathed was heavy
with the perfume of flowers.  The traverse was accomplished.  Sixty days
from land to land, across a lonely sea above whose horizons never rise
the straining sails of ships.


TO the eastward Ua-huka was being blotted out by an evening rain-squall
that was fast overtaking the _Snark_.  But that little craft, her big
spinnaker filled by the southeast trade, was making a good race of it.
Cape Martin, the southeasternmost point of Nuku-hiva, was abeam, and
Comptroller Bay was opening up as we fled past its wide entrance, where
Sail Rock, for all the world like the spritsail of a Columbia River
salmon-boat, was making brave weather of it in the smashing southeast

“What do you make that out to be?” I asked Hermann, at the wheel.

“A fishing-boat, sir,” he answered after careful scrutiny.

Yet on the chart it was plainly marked, “Sail Rock.”

But we were more interested in the recesses of Comptroller Bay, where our
eyes eagerly sought out the three bights of land and centred on the
midmost one, where the gathering twilight showed the dim walls of a
valley extending inland.  How often we had pored over the chart and
centred always on that midmost bight and on the valley it opened—the
Valley of Typee.  “Taipi” the chart spelled it, and spelled it correctly,
but I prefer “Typee,” and I shall always spell it “Typee.”  When I was a
little boy, I read a book spelled in that manner—Herman Melville’s
“Typee”; and many long hours I dreamed over its pages.  Nor was it all
dreaming.  I resolved there and then, mightily, come what would, that
when I had gained strength and years, I, too, would voyage to Typee.  For
the wonder of the world was penetrating to my tiny consciousness—the
wonder that was to lead me to many lands, and that leads and never pails.
The years passed, but Typee was not forgotten.  Returned to San Francisco
from a seven months’ cruise in the North Pacific, I decided the time had
come.  The brig _Galilee_ was sailing for the Marquesas, but her crew was
complete and I, who was an able-seaman before the mast and young enough
to be overweeningly proud of it, was willing to condescend to ship as
cabin-boy in order to make the pilgrimage to Typee.  Of course, the
_Galilee_ would have sailed from the Marquesas without me, for I was bent
on finding another Fayaway and another Kory-Kory.  I doubt that the
captain read desertion in my eye.  Perhaps even the berth of cabin-boy
was already filled.  At any rate, I did not get it.

Then came the rush of years, filled brimming with projects, achievements,
and failures; but Typee was not forgotten, and here I was now, gazing at
its misty outlines till the squall swooped down and the _Snark_ dashed on
into the driving smother.  Ahead, we caught a glimpse and took the
compass bearing of Sentinel Rock, wreathed with pounding surf.  Then it,
too, was effaced by the rain and darkness.  We steered straight for it,
trusting to hear the sound of breakers in time to sheer clear.  We had to
steer for it.  We had naught but a compass bearing with which to
orientate ourselves, and if we missed Sentinel Rock, we missed Taiohae
Bay, and we would have to throw the _Snark_ up to the wind and lie off
and on the whole night—no pleasant prospect for voyagers weary from a
sixty days’ traverse of the vast Pacific solitude, and land-hungry, and
fruit-hungry, and hungry with an appetite of years for the sweet vale of

Abruptly, with a roar of sound, Sentinel Rock loomed through the rain
dead ahead.  We altered our course, and, with mainsail and spinnaker
bellying to the squall, drove past.  Under the lea of the rock the wind
dropped us, and we rolled in an absolute calm.  Then a puff of air struck
us, right in our teeth, out of Taiohae Bay.  It was in spinnaker, up
mizzen, all sheets by the wind, and we were moving slowly ahead, heaving
the lead and straining our eyes for the fixed red light on the ruined
fort that would give us our bearings to anchorage.  The air was light and
baffling, now east, now west, now north, now south; while from either
hand came the roar of unseen breakers.  From the looming cliffs arose the
blatting of wild goats, and overhead the first stars were peeping mistily
through the ragged train of the passing squall.  At the end of two hours,
having come a mile into the bay, we dropped anchor in eleven fathoms.
And so we came to Taiohae.

In the morning we awoke in fairyland.  The _Snark_ rested in a placid
harbour that nestled in a vast amphitheatre, the towering, vine-clad
walls of which seemed to rise directly from the water.  Far up, to the
east, we glimpsed the thin line of a trail, visible in one place, where
it scoured across the face of the wall.

“The path by which Toby escaped from Typee!” we cried.

We were not long in getting ashore and astride horses, though the
consummation of our pilgrimage had to be deferred for a day.  Two months
at sea, bare-footed all the time, without space in which to exercise
one’s limbs, is not the best preliminary to leather shoes and walking.
Besides, the land had to cease its nauseous rolling before we could feel
fit for riding goat-like horses over giddy trails.  So we took a short
ride to break in, and crawled through thick jungle to make the
acquaintance of a venerable moss-grown idol, where had foregathered a
German trader and a Norwegian captain to estimate the weight of said
idol, and to speculate upon depreciation in value caused by sawing him in
half.  They treated the old fellow sacrilegiously, digging their knives
into him to see how hard he was and how deep his mossy mantle, and
commanding him to rise up and save them trouble by walking down to the
ship himself.  In lieu of which, nineteen Kanakas slung him on a frame of
timbers and toted him to the ship, where, battened down under hatches,
even now he is cleaving the South Pacific Hornward and toward Europe—the
ultimate abiding-place for all good heathen idols, save for the few in
America and one in particular who grins beside me as I write, and who,
barring shipwreck, will grin somewhere in my neighbourhood until I die.
And he will win out.  He will be grinning when I am dust.

Also, as a preliminary, we attended a feast, where one Taiara Tamarii,
the son of an Hawaiian sailor who deserted from a whaleship, commemorated
the death of his Marquesan mother by roasting fourteen whole hogs and
inviting in the village.  So we came along, welcomed by a native herald,
a young girl, who stood on a great rock and chanted the information that
the banquet was made perfect by our presence—which information she
extended impartially to every arrival.  Scarcely were we seated, however,
when she changed her tune, while the company manifested intense
excitement.  Her cries became eager and piercing.  From a distance came
answering cries, in men’s voices, which blended into a wild, barbaric
chant that sounded incredibly savage, smacking of blood and war.  Then,
through vistas of tropical foliage appeared a procession of savages,
naked save for gaudy loin-cloths.  They advanced slowly, uttering deep
guttural cries of triumph and exaltation.  Slung from young saplings
carried on their shoulders were mysterious objects of considerable
weight, hidden from view by wrappings of green leaves.

Nothing but pigs, innocently fat and roasted to a turn, were inside those
wrappings, but the men were carrying them into camp in imitation of old
times when they carried in “long-pig.”  Now long-pig is not pig.
Long-pig is the Polynesian euphemism for human flesh; and these
descendants of man-eaters, a king’s son at their head, brought in the
pigs to table as of old their grandfathers had brought in their slain
enemies.  Every now and then the procession halted in order that the
bearers should have every advantage in uttering particularly ferocious
shouts of victory, of contempt for their enemies, and of gustatory
desire.  So Melville, two generations ago, witnessed the bodies of slain
Happar warriors, wrapped in palm-leaves, carried to banquet at the Ti.
At another time, at the Ti, he “observed a curiously carved vessel of
wood,” and on looking into it his eyes “fell upon the disordered members
of a human skeleton, the bones still fresh with moisture, and with
particles of flesh clinging to them here and there.”

Cannibalism has often been regarded as a fairy story by ultracivilized
men who dislike, perhaps, the notion that their own savage forebears have
somewhere in the past been addicted to similar practices.  Captain Cook
was rather sceptical upon the subject, until, one day, in a harbour of
New Zealand, he deliberately tested the matter.  A native happened to
have brought on board, for sale, a nice, sun-dried head.  At Cook’s
orders strips of the flesh were cut away and handed to the native, who
greedily devoured them.  To say the least, Captain Cook was a rather
thorough-going empiricist.  At any rate, by that act he supplied one
ascertained fact of which science had been badly in need.  Little did he
dream of the existence of a certain group of islands, thousands of miles
away, where in subsequent days there would arise a curious suit at law,
when an old chief of Maui would be charged with defamation of character
because he persisted in asserting that his body was the living repository
of Captain Cook’s great toe.  It is said that the plaintiffs failed to
prove that the old chief was not the tomb of the navigator’s great toe,
and that the suit was dismissed.

I suppose I shall not have the chance in these degenerate days to see any
long-pig eaten, but at least I am already the possessor of a duly
certified Marquesan calabash, oblong in shape, curiously carved, over a
century old, from which has been drunk the blood of two shipmasters.  One
of those captains was a mean man.  He sold a decrepit whale-boat, as good
as new what of the fresh white paint, to a Marquesan chief.  But no
sooner had the captain sailed away than the whale-boat dropped to pieces.
It was his fortune, some time afterwards, to be wrecked, of all places,
on that particular island.  The Marquesan chief was ignorant of rebates
and discounts; but he had a primitive sense of equity and an equally
primitive conception of the economy of nature, and he balanced the
account by eating the man who had cheated him.

We started in the cool dawn for Typee, astride ferocious little stallions
that pawed and screamed and bit and fought one another quite oblivious of
the fragile humans on their backs and of the slippery boulders, loose
rocks, and yawning gorges.  The way led up an ancient road through a
jungle of _hau_ trees.  On every side were the vestiges of a one-time
dense population.  Wherever the eye could penetrate the thick growth,
glimpses were caught of stone walls and of stone foundations, six to
eight feet in height, built solidly throughout, and many yards in width
and depth.  They formed great stone platforms, upon which, at one time,
there had been houses.  But the houses and the people were gone, and huge
trees sank their roots through the platforms and towered over the
under-running jungle.  These foundations are called _pae-paes_—the
_pi-pis_ of Melville, who spelled phonetically.

The Marquesans of the present generation lack the energy to hoist and
place such huge stones.  Also, they lack incentive.  There are plenty of
_pae-paes_ to go around, with a few thousand unoccupied ones left over.
Once or twice, as we ascended the valley, we saw magnificent _pae-paes_
bearing on their general surface pitiful little straw huts, the
proportions being similar to a voting booth perched on the broad
foundation of the Pyramid of Cheops.  For the Marquesans are perishing,
and, to judge from conditions at Taiohae, the one thing that retards
their destruction is the infusion of fresh blood.  A pure Marquesan is a
rarity.  They seem to be all half-breeds and strange conglomerations of
dozens of different races.  Nineteen able labourers are all the trader at
Taiohae can muster for the loading of copra on shipboard, and in their
veins runs the blood of English, American, Dane, German, French,
Corsican, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Paumotan, Tahitian, and
Easter Islander.  There are more races than there are persons, but it is
a wreckage of races at best.  Life faints and stumbles and gasps itself
away.  In this warm, equable clime—a truly terrestrial paradise—where are
never extremes of temperature and where the air is like balm, kept ever
pure by the ozone-laden southeast trade, asthma, phthisis, and
tuberculosis flourish as luxuriantly as the vegetation.  Everywhere, from
the few grass huts, arises the racking cough or exhausted groan of wasted
lungs.  Other horrible diseases prosper as well, but the most deadly of
all are those that attack the lungs.  There is a form of consumption
called “galloping,” which is especially dreaded.  In two months’ time it
reduces the strongest man to a skeleton under a grave-cloth.  In valley
after valley the last inhabitant has passed and the fertile soil has
relapsed to jungle.  In Melville’s day the valley of Hapaa (spelled by
him “Happar”) was peopled by a strong and warlike tribe.  A generation
later, it contained but two hundred persons.  To-day it is an untenanted,
howling, tropical wilderness.

We climbed higher and higher in the valley, our unshod stallions picking
their steps on the disintegrating trail, which led in and out through the
abandoned _pae-paes_ and insatiable jungle.  The sight of red mountain
apples, the _ohias_, familiar to us from Hawaii, caused a native to be
sent climbing after them.  And again he climbed for cocoa-nuts.  I have
drunk the cocoanuts of Jamaica and of Hawaii, but I never knew how
delicious such draught could be till I drank it here in the Marquesas.
Occasionally we rode under wild limes and oranges—great trees which had
survived the wilderness longer than the motes of humans who had
cultivated them.

We rode through endless thickets of yellow-pollened cassi—if riding it
could be called; for those fragrant thickets were inhabited by wasps.
And such wasps!  Great yellow fellows the size of small canary birds,
darting through the air with behind them drifting a bunch of legs a
couple of inches long.  A stallion abruptly stands on his forelegs and
thrusts his hind legs skyward.  He withdraws them from the sky long
enough to make one wild jump ahead, and then returns them to their index
position.  It is nothing.  His thick hide has merely been punctured by a
flaming lance of wasp virility.  Then a second and a third stallion, and
all the stallions, begin to cavort on their forelegs over the precipitous
landscape.  Swat!  A white-hot poniard penetrates my cheek.  Swat again!!
I am stabbed in the neck.  I am bringing up the rear and getting more
than my share.  There is no retreat, and the plunging horses ahead, on a
precarious trail, promise little safety.  My horse overruns Charmian’s
horse, and that sensitive creature, fresh-stung at the psychological
moment, planks one of his hoofs into my horse and the other hoof into me.
I thank my stars that he is not steel-shod, and half-arise from the
saddle at the impact of another flaming dagger.  I am certainly getting
more than my share, and so is my poor horse, whose pain and panic are
only exceeded by mine.

“Get out of the way!  I’m coming!” I shout, frantically dashing my cap at
the winged vipers around me.

On one side of the trail the landscape rises straight up.  On the other
side it sinks straight down.  The only way to get out of my way is to
keep on going.  How that string of horses kept their feet is a miracle;
but they dashed ahead, over-running one another, galloping, trotting,
stumbling, jumping, scrambling, and kicking methodically skyward every
time a wasp landed on them.  After a while we drew breath and counted our
injuries.  And this happened not once, nor twice, but time after time.
Strange to say, it never grew monotonous.  I know that I, for one, came
through each brush with the undiminished zest of a man flying from sudden
death.  No; the pilgrim from Taiohae to Typee will never suffer from
_ennui_ on the way.

At last we arose above the vexation of wasps.  It was a matter of
altitude, however, rather than of fortitude.  All about us lay the jagged
back-bones of ranges, as far as the eye could see, thrusting their
pinnacles into the trade-wind clouds.  Under us, from the way we had
come, the _Snark_ lay like a tiny toy on the calm water of Taiohae Bay.
Ahead we could see the inshore indentation of Comptroller Bay.  We
dropped down a thousand feet, and Typee lay beneath us.  “Had a glimpse
of the gardens of paradise been revealed to me I could scarcely have been
more ravished with the sight”—so said Melville on the moment of his first
view of the valley.  He saw a garden.  We saw a wilderness.  Where were
the hundred groves of the breadfruit tree he saw?  We saw jungle, nothing
but jungle, with the exception of two grass huts and several clumps of
cocoanuts breaking the primordial green mantle.  Where was the _Ti_ of
Mehevi, the bachelors’ hall, the palace where women were taboo, and where
he ruled with his lesser chieftains, keeping the half-dozen dusty and
torpid ancients to remind them of the valorous past?  From the swift
stream no sounds arose of maids and matrons pounding _tapa_.  And where
was the hut that old Narheyo eternally builded?  In vain I looked for him
perched ninety feet from the ground in some tall cocoanut, taking his
morning smoke.

We went down a zigzag trail under overarching, matted jungle, where great
butterflies drifted by in the silence.  No tattooed savage with club and
javelin guarded the path; and when we forded the stream, we were free to
roam where we pleased.  No longer did the taboo, sacred and merciless,
reign in that sweet vale.  Nay, the taboo still did reign, a new taboo,
for when we approached too near the several wretched native women, the
taboo was uttered warningly.  And it was well.  They were lepers.  The
man who warned us was afflicted horribly with elephantiasis.  All were
suffering from lung trouble.  The valley of Typee was the abode of death,
and the dozen survivors of the tribe were gasping feebly the last painful
breaths of the race.

Certainly the battle had not been to the strong, for once the Typeans
were very strong, stronger than the Happars, stronger than the
Taiohaeans, stronger than all the tribes of Nuku-hiva.  The word “typee,”
or, rather, “taipi,” originally signified an eater of human flesh.  But
since all the Marquesans were human-flesh eaters, to be so designated was
the token that the Typeans were the human-flesh eaters par excellence.
Not alone to Nuku-hiva did the Typean reputation for bravery and ferocity
extend.  In all the islands of the Marquesas the Typeans were named with
dread.  Man could not conquer them.  Even the French fleet that took
possession of the Marquesas left the Typeans alone.  Captain Porter, of
the frigate _Essex_, once invaded the valley.  His sailors and marines
were reinforced by two thousand warriors of Happar and Taiohae.  They
penetrated quite a distance into the valley, but met with so fierce a
resistance that they were glad to retreat and get away in their flotilla
of boats and war-canoes.

Of all inhabitants of the South Seas, the Marquesans were adjudged the
strongest and the most beautiful.  Melville said of them: “I was
especially struck by the physical strength and beauty they displayed . . .
In beauty of form they surpassed anything I had ever seen.  Not a
single instance of natural deformity was observable in all the throng
attending the revels.  Every individual appeared free from those
blemishes which sometimes mar the effect of an otherwise perfect form.
But their physical excellence did not merely consist in an exemption from
these evils; nearly every individual of the number might have been taken
for a sculptor’s model.”  Mendaña, the discoverer of the Marquesas,
described the natives as wondrously beautiful to behold.  Figueroa, the
chronicler of his voyage, said of them: “In complexion they were nearly
white; of good stature and finely formed.”  Captain Cook called the
Marquesans the most splendid islanders in the South Seas.  The men were
described, as “in almost every instance of lofty stature, scarcely ever
less than six feet in height.”

And now all this strength and beauty has departed, and the valley of
Typee is the abode of some dozen wretched creatures, afflicted by
leprosy, elephantiasis, and tuberculosis.  Melville estimated the
population at two thousand, not taking into consideration the small
adjoining valley of Ho-o-u-mi.  Life has rotted away in this wonderful
garden spot, where the climate is as delightful and healthful as any to
be found in the world.  Not alone were the Typeans physically
magnificent; they were pure.  Their air did not contain the bacilli and
germs and microbes of disease that fill our own air.  And when the white
men imported in their ships these various micro-organisms or disease, the
Typeans crumpled up and went down before them.

When one considers the situation, one is almost driven to the conclusion
that the white race flourishes on impurity and corruption.  Natural
selection, however, gives the explanation.  We of the white race are the
survivors and the descendants of the thousands of generations of
survivors in the war with the micro-organisms.  Whenever one of us was
born with a constitution peculiarly receptive to these minute enemies,
such a one promptly died.  Only those of us survived who could withstand
them.  We who are alive are the immune, the fit—the ones best constituted
to live in a world of hostile micro-organisms.  The poor Marquesans had
undergone no such selection.  They were not immune.  And they, who had
made a custom of eating their enemies, were now eaten by enemies so
microscopic as to be invisible, and against whom no war of dart and
javelin was possible.  On the other hand, had there been a few hundred
thousand Marquesans to begin with, there might have been sufficient
survivors to lay the foundation for a new race—a regenerated race, if a
plunge into a festering bath of organic poison can be called

We unsaddled our horses for lunch, and after we had fought the stallions
apart—mine with several fresh chunks bitten out of his back—and after we
had vainly fought the sand-flies, we ate bananas and tinned meats, washed
down by generous draughts of cocoanut milk.  There was little to be seen.
The jungle had rushed back and engulfed the puny works of man.  Here and
there _pai-pais_ were to be stumbled upon, but there were no
inscriptions, no hieroglyphics, no clues to the past they attested—only
dumb stones, builded and carved by hands that were forgotten dust.  Out
of the _pai-pais_ grew great trees, jealous of the wrought work of man,
splitting and scattering the stones back into the primeval chaos.

We gave up the jungle and sought the stream with the idea of evading the
sand-flies.  Vain hope!  To go in swimming one must take off his clothes.
The sand-flies are aware of the fact, and they lurk by the river bank in
countless myriads.  In the native they are called the _nau-nau_, which is
pronounced “now-now.”  They are certainly well named, for they are the
insistent present.  There is no past nor future when they fasten upon
one’s epidermis, and I am willing to wager that Omer Khayyám could never
have written the Rubáiyat in the valley of Typee—it would have been
psychologically impossible.  I made the strategic mistake of undressing
on the edge of a steep bank where I could dive in but could not climb
out.  When I was ready to dress, I had a hundred yards’ walk on the bank
before I could reach my clothes.  At the first step, fully ten thousand
_nau-naus_ landed upon me.  At the second step I was walking in a cloud.
By the third step the sun was dimmed in the sky.  After that I don’t know
what happened.  When I arrived at my clothes, I was a maniac.  And here
enters my grand tactical error.  There is only one rule of conduct in
dealing with _nau-naus_.  Never swat them.  Whatever you do, don’t swat
them.  They are so vicious that in the instant of annihilation they eject
their last atom of poison into your carcass.  You must pluck them
delicately, between thumb and forefinger, and persuade them gently to
remove their proboscides from your quivering flesh.  It is like pulling
teeth.  But the difficulty was that the teeth sprouted faster than I
could pull them, so I swatted, and, so doing, filled myself full with
their poison.  This was a week ago.  At the present moment I resemble a
sadly neglected smallpox convalescent.

Ho-o-u-mi is a small valley, separated from Typee by a low ridge, and
thither we started when we had knocked our indomitable and insatiable
riding-animals into submission.  As it was, Warren’s mount, after a mile
run, selected the most dangerous part of the trail for an exhibition that
kept us all on the anxious seat for fully five minutes.  We rode by the
mouth of Typee valley and gazed down upon the beach from which Melville
escaped.  There was where the whale-boat lay on its oars close in to the
surf; and there was where Karakoee, the taboo Kanaka, stood in the water
and trafficked for the sailor’s life.  There, surely, was where Melville
gave Fayaway the parting embrace ere he dashed for the boat.  And there
was the point of land from which Mehevi and Mow-mow and their following
swam off to intercept the boat, only to have their wrists gashed by
sheath-knives when they laid hold of the gunwale, though it was reserved
for Mow-mow to receive the boat-hook full in the throat from Melville’s

We rode on to Ho-o-u-mi.  So closely was Melville guarded that he never
dreamed of the existence of this valley, though he must continually have
met its inhabitants, for they belonged to Typee.  We rode through the
same abandoned _pae-paes_, but as we neared the sea we found a profusion
of cocoanuts, breadfruit trees and taro patches, and fully a dozen grass
dwellings.  In one of these we arranged to pass the night, and
preparations were immediately put on foot for a feast.  A young pig was
promptly despatched, and while he was being roasted among hot stones, and
while chickens were stewing in cocoanut milk, I persuaded one of the
cooks to climb an unusually tall cocoanut palm.  The cluster of nuts at
the top was fully one hundred and twenty-five feet from the ground, but
that native strode up to the tree, seized it in both hands, jack-knived
at the waist so that the soles of his feet rested flatly against the
trunk, and then he walked right straight up without stopping.  There were
no notches in the tree.  He had no ropes to help him.  He merely walked
up the tree, one hundred and twenty-five feet in the air, and cast down
the nuts from the summit.  Not every man there had the physical stamina
for such a feat, or the lungs, rather, for most of them were coughing
their lives away.  Some of the women kept up a ceaseless moaning and
groaning, so badly were their lungs wasted.  Very few of either sex were
full-blooded Marquesans.  They were mostly half-breeds and
three-quarter-breeds of French, English, Danish, and Chinese extraction.
At the best, these infusions of fresh blood merely delayed the passing,
and the results led one to wonder whether it was worth while.

The feast was served on a broad _pae-pae_, the rear portion of which was
occupied by the house in which we were to sleep.  The first course was
raw fish and _poi-poi_, the latter sharp and more acrid of taste than the
_poi_ of Hawaii, which is made from taro.  The _poi-poi_ of the Marquesas
is made from breadfruit.  The ripe fruit, after the core is removed, is
placed in a calabash and pounded with a stone pestle into a stiff, sticky
paste.  In this stage of the process, wrapped in leaves, it can be buried
in the ground, where it will keep for years.  Before it can be eaten,
however, further processes are necessary.  A leaf-covered package is
placed among hot stones, like the pig, and thoroughly baked.  After that
it is mixed with cold water and thinned out—not thin enough to run, but
thin enough to be eaten by sticking one’s first and second fingers into
it.  On close acquaintance it proves a pleasant and most healthful food.
And breadfruit, ripe and well boiled or roasted!  It is delicious.
Breadfruit and taro are kingly vegetables, the pair of them, though the
former is patently a misnomer and more resembles a sweet potato than
anything else, though it is not mealy like a sweet potato, nor is it so

The feast ended, we watched the moon rise over Typee.  The air was like
balm, faintly scented with the breath of flowers.  It was a magic night,
deathly still, without the slightest breeze to stir the foliage; and one
caught one’s breath and felt the pang that is almost hurt, so exquisite
was the beauty of it.  Faint and far could be heard the thin thunder of
the surf upon the beach.  There were no beds; and we drowsed and slept
wherever we thought the floor softest.  Near by, a woman panted and
moaned in her sleep, and all about us the dying islanders coughed in the


I FIRST met him on Market Street in San Francisco.  It was a wet and
drizzly afternoon, and he was striding along, clad solely in a pair of
abbreviated knee-trousers and an abbreviated shirt, his bare feet going
slick-slick through the pavement-slush.  At his heels trooped a score of
excited gamins.  Every head—and there were thousands—turned to glance
curiously at him as he went by.  And I turned, too.  Never had I seen
such lovely sunburn.  He was all sunburn, of the sort a blond takes on
when his skin does not peel.  His long yellow hair was burnt, so was his
beard, which sprang from a soil unploughed by any razor.  He was a tawny
man, a golden-tawny man, all glowing and radiant with the sun.  Another
prophet, thought I, come up to town with a message that will save the

A few weeks later I was with some friends in their bungalow in the
Piedmont hills overlooking San Francisco Bay.  “We’ve got him, we’ve got
him,” they barked.  “We caught him up a tree; but he’s all right now,
he’ll feed from the hand.  Come on and see him.”  So I accompanied them
up a dizzy hill, and in a rickety shack in the midst of a eucalyptus
grove found my sunburned prophet of the city pavements.

He hastened to meet us, arriving in the whirl and blur of a handspring.
He did not shake hands with us; instead, his greeting took the form of
stunts.  He turned more handsprings.  He twisted his body sinuously, like
a snake, until, having sufficiently limbered up, he bent from the hips,
and, with legs straight and knees touching, beat a tattoo on the ground
with the palms of his hands.  He whirligigged and pirouetted, dancing and
cavorting round like an inebriated ape.  All the sun-warmth of his ardent
life beamed in his face.  I am so happy, was the song without words he

He sang it all evening, ringing the changes on it with an endless variety
of stunts.  “A fool! a fool!  I met a fool in the forest!” thought I, and
a worthy fool he proved.  Between handsprings and whirligigs he delivered
his message that would save the world.  It was twofold.  First, let
suffering humanity strip off its clothing and run wild in the mountains
and valleys; and, second, let the very miserable world adopt phonetic
spelling.  I caught a glimpse of the great social problems being settled
by the city populations swarming naked over the landscape, to the popping
of shot-guns, the barking of ranch-dogs, and countless assaults with
pitchforks wielded by irate farmers.

The years passed, and, one sunny morning, the _Snark_ poked her nose into
a narrow opening in a reef that smoked with the crashing impact of the
trade-wind swell, and beat slowly up Papeete harbour.  Coming off to us
was a boat, flying a yellow flag.  We knew it contained the port doctor.
But quite a distance off, in its wake, was a tiny out rigger canoe that
puzzled us.  It was flying a red flag.  I studied it through the glasses,
fearing that it marked some hidden danger to navigation, some recent
wreck or some buoy or beacon that had been swept away.  Then the doctor
came on board.  After he had examined the state of our health and been
assured that we had no live rats hidden away in the _Snark_, I asked him
the meaning of the red flag.  “Oh, that is Darling,” was the answer.

And then Darling, Ernest Darling flying the red flag that is indicative
of the brotherhood of man, hailed us.  “Hello, Jack!” he called.  “Hello,
Charmian!”  He paddled swiftly nearer, and I saw that he was the tawny
prophet of the Piedmont hills.  He came over the side, a sun-god clad in
a scarlet loin-cloth, with presents of Arcady and greeting in both his
hands—a bottle of golden honey and a leaf-basket filled _with_ great
golden mangoes, golden bananas specked with freckles of deeper gold,
golden pine-apples and golden limes, and juicy oranges minted from the
same precious ore of sun and soil.  And in this fashion under the
southern sky, I met once more Darling, the Nature Man.

Tahiti is one of the most beautiful spots in the world, inhabited by
thieves and robbers and liars, also by several honest and truthful men
and women.  Wherefore, because of the blight cast upon Tahiti’s wonderful
beauty by the spidery human vermin that infest it, I am minded to write,
not of Tahiti, but of the Nature Man.  He, at least, is refreshing and
wholesome.  The spirit that emanates from him is so gentle and sweet that
it would harm nothing, hurt nobody’s feelings save the feelings of a
predatory and plutocratic capitalist.

“What does this red flag mean?” I asked.

“Socialism, of course.”

“Yes, yes, I know that,” I went on; “but what does it mean in your

“Why, that I’ve found my message.”

“And that you are delivering it to Tahiti?” I demanded incredulously.

“Sure,” he answered simply; and later on I found that he was, too.

When we dropped anchor, lowered a small boat into the water, and started
ashore, the Nature Man joined us.  Now, thought I, I shall be pestered to
death by this crank.  Waking or sleeping I shall never be quit of him
until I sail away from here.

But never in my life was I more mistaken.  I took a house and went to
live and work in it, and the Nature Man never came near me.  He was
waiting for the invitation.  In the meantime he went aboard the _Snark_
and took possession of her library, delighted by the quantity of
scientific books, and shocked, as I learned afterwards, by the inordinate
amount of fiction.  The Nature Man never wastes time on fiction.

After a week or so, my conscience smote me, and I invited him to dinner
at a downtown hotel.

He arrived, looking unwontedly stiff and uncomfortable in a cotton
jacket.  When invited to peel it off, he beamed his gratitude and joy,
and did so, revealing his sun-gold skin, from waist to shoulder, covered
only by a piece of fish-net of coarse twine and large of mesh.  A scarlet
loin-cloth completed his costume.  I began my acquaintance with him that
night, and during my long stay in Tahiti that acquaintance ripened into

“So you write books,” he said, one day when, tired and sweaty, I finished
my morning’s work.

“I, too, write books,” he announced.

Aha, thought I, now at last is he going to pester me with his literary
efforts.  My soul was in revolt.  I had not come all the way to the South
Seas to be a literary bureau.

“This is the book I write,” he explained, smashing himself a resounding
blow on the chest with his clenched fist.  “The gorilla in the African
jungle pounds his chest till the noise of it can be heard half a mile

“A pretty good chest,” quoth I, admiringly; “it would even make a gorilla

And then, and later, I learned the details of the marvellous book Ernest
Darling had written.  Twelve years ago he lay close to death.  He weighed
but ninety pounds, and was too weak to speak.  The doctors had given him
up.  His father, a practising physician, had given him up.  Consultations
with other physicians had been held upon him.  There was no hope for him.
Overstudy (as a school-teacher and as a university student) and two
successive attacks of pneumonia were responsible for his breakdown.  Day
by day he was losing strength.  He could extract no nutrition from the
heavy foods they gave him; nor could pellets and powders help his stomach
to do the work of digestion.  Not only was he a physical wreck, but he
was a mental wreck.  His mind was overwrought.  He was sick and tired of
medicine, and he was sick and tired of persons.  Human speech jarred upon
him.  Human attentions drove him frantic.  The thought came to him that
since he was going to die, he might as well die in the open, away from
all the bother and irritation.  And behind this idea lurked a sneaking
idea that perhaps he would not die after all if only he could escape from
the heavy foods, the medicines, and the well-intentioned persons who made
him frantic.

So Ernest Darling, a bag of bones and a death’s-head, a perambulating
corpse, with just the dimmest flutter of life in it to make it
perambulate, turned his back upon men and the habitations of men and
dragged himself for five miles through the brush, away from the city of
Portland, Oregon.  Of course he was crazy.  Only a lunatic would drag
himself out of his death-bed.

But in the brush, Darling found what he was looking for—rest.  Nobody
bothered him with beefsteaks and pork.  No physicians lacerated his tired
nerves by feeling his pulse, nor tormented his tired stomach with pellets
and powders.  He began to feel soothed.  The sun was shining warm, and he
basked in it.  He had the feeling that the sun shine was an elixir of
health.  Then it seemed to him that his whole wasted wreck of a body was
crying for the sun.  He stripped off his clothes and bathed in the
sunshine.  He felt better.  It had done him good—the first relief in
weary months of pain.

As he grew better, he sat up and began to take notice.  All about him
were the birds fluttering and chirping, the squirrels chattering and
playing.  He envied them their health and spirits, their happy, care-free
existence.  That he should contrast their condition with his was
inevitable; and that he should question why they were splendidly vigorous
while he was a feeble, dying wraith of a man, was likewise inevitable.
His conclusion was the very obvious one, namely, that they lived
naturally, while he lived most unnaturally therefore, if he intended to
live, he must return to nature.

Alone, there in the brush, he worked out his problem and began to apply
it.  He stripped off his clothing and leaped and gambolled about, running
on all fours, climbing trees; in short, doing physical stunts,—and all
the time soaking in the sunshine.  He imitated the animals.  He built a
nest of dry leaves and grasses in which to sleep at night, covering it
over with bark as a protection against the early fall rains.  “Here is a
beautiful exercise,” he told me, once, flapping his arms mightily against
his sides; “I learned it from watching the roosters crow.”  Another time
I remarked the loud, sucking intake with which he drank cocoanut-milk.
He explained that he had noticed the cows drinking that way and concluded
there must be something in it.  He tried it and found it good, and
thereafter he drank only in that fashion.

He noted that the squirrels lived on fruits and nuts.  He started on a
fruit-and-nut diet, helped out by bread, and he grew stronger and put on
weight.  For three months he continued his primordial existence in the
brush, and then the heavy Oregon rains drove him back to the habitations
of men.  Not in three months could a ninety-pound survivor of two attacks
of pneumonia develop sufficient ruggedness to live through an Oregon
winter in the open.

He had accomplished much, but he had been driven in.  There was no place
to go but back to his father’s house, and there, living in close rooms
with lungs that panted for all the air of the open sky, he was brought
down by a third attack of pneumonia.  He grew weaker even than before.
In that tottering tabernacle of flesh, his brain collapsed.  He lay like
a corpse, too weak to stand the fatigue of speaking, too irritated and
tired in his miserable brain to care to listen to the speech of others.
The only act of will of which he was capable was to stick his fingers in
his ears and resolutely to refuse to hear a single word that was spoken
to him.  They sent for the insanity experts.  He was adjudged insane, and
also the verdict was given that he would not live a month.

By one such mental expert he was carted off to a sanatorium on Mt. Tabor.
Here, when they learned that he was harmless, they gave him his own way.
They no longer dictated as to the food he ate, so he resumed his fruits
and nuts—olive oil, peanut butter, and bananas the chief articles of his
diet.  As he regained his strength he made up his mind to live
thenceforth his own life.  If he lived like others, according to social
conventions, he would surely die.  And he did not want to die.  The fear
of death was one of the strongest factors in the genesis of the Nature
Man.  To live, he must have a natural diet, the open air, and the blessed

Now an Oregon winter has no inducements for those who wish to return to
Nature, so Darling started out in search of a climate.  He mounted a
bicycle and headed south for the sunlands.  Stanford University claimed
him for a year.  Here he studied and worked his way, attending lectures
in as scant garb as the authorities would allow and applying as much as
possible the principles of living that he had learned in squirrel-town.
His favourite method of study was to go off in the hills back of the
University, and there to strip off his clothes and lie on the grass,
soaking in sunshine and health at the same time that he soaked in

But Central California has her winters, and the quest for a Nature Man’s
climate drew him on.  He tried Los Angeles and Southern California, being
arrested a few times and brought before the insanity commissions because,
forsooth, his mode of life was not modelled after the mode of life of his
fellow-men.  He tried Hawaii, where, unable to prove him insane, the
authorities deported him.  It was not exactly a deportation.  He could
have remained by serving a year in prison.  They gave him his choice.
Now prison is death to the Nature Man, who thrives only in the open air
and in God’s sunshine.  The authorities of Hawaii are not to be blamed.
Darling was an undesirable citizen.  Any man is undesirable who disagrees
with one.  And that any man should disagree to the extent Darling did in
his philosophy of the simple life is ample vindication of the Hawaiian
authorities verdict of his undesirableness.

So Darling went thence in search of a climate which would not only be
desirable, but wherein he would not be undesirable.  And he found it in
Tahiti, the garden-spot of garden-spots.  And so it was, according to the
narrative as given, that he wrote the pages of his book.  He wears only a
loin-cloth and a sleeveless fish-net shirt.  His stripped weight is one
hundred and sixty-five pounds.  His health is perfect.  His eyesight,
that at one time was considered ruined, is excellent.  The lungs that
were practically destroyed by three attacks of pneumonia have not only
recovered, but are stronger than ever before.

I shall never forget the first time, while talking to me, that he
squashed a mosquito.  The stinging pest had settled in the middle of his
back between his shoulders.  Without interrupting the flow of
conversation, without dropping even a syllable, his clenched fist shot up
in the air, curved backward, and smote his back between the shoulders,
killing the mosquito and making his frame resound like a bass drum.  It
reminded me of nothing so much as of horses kicking the woodwork in their

“The gorilla in the African jungle pounds his chest until the noise of it
can be heard half a mile away,” he will announce suddenly, and thereat
beat a hair-raising, devil’s tattoo on his own chest.

One day he noticed a set of boxing-gloves hanging on the wall, and
promptly his eyes brightened.

“Do you box?” I asked.

“I used to give lessons in boxing when I was at Stanford,” was the reply.

And there and then we stripped and put on the gloves.  Bang! a long,
gorilla arm flashed out, landing the gloved end on my nose.  Biff! he
caught me, in a duck, on the side of the head nearly knocking me over
sidewise.  I carried the lump raised by that blow for a week.  I ducked
under a straight left, and landed a straight right on his stomach.  It
was a fearful blow.  The whole weight of my body was behind it, and his
body had been met as it lunged forward.  I looked for him to crumple up
and go down.  Instead of which his face beamed approval, and he said,
“That was beautiful.”  The next instant I was covering up and striving to
protect myself from a hurricane of hooks, jolts, and uppercuts.  Then I
watched my chance and drove in for the solar plexus.  I hit the mark.
The Nature Man dropped his arms, gasped, and sat down suddenly.

“I’ll be all right,” he said.  “Just wait a moment.”

And inside thirty seconds he was on his feet—ay, and returning the
compliment, for he hooked me in the solar plexus, and I gasped, dropped
my hands, and sat down just a trifle more suddenly than he had.

All of which I submit as evidence that the man I boxed with was a totally
different man from the poor, ninety-pound weight of eight years before,
who, given up by physicians and alienists, lay gasping his life away in a
closed room in Portland, Oregon.  The book that Ernest Darling has
written is a good book, and the binding is good, too.

Hawaii has wailed for years her need for desirable immigrants.  She has
spent much time, and thought, and money, in importing desirable citizens,
and she has, as yet, nothing much to show for it.  Yet Hawaii deported
the Nature Man.  She refused to give him a chance.  So it is, to chasten
Hawaii’s proud spirit, that I take this opportunity to show her what she
has lost in the Nature Man.  When he arrived in Tahiti, he proceeded to
seek out a piece of land on which to grow the food he ate.  But land was
difficult to find—that is, inexpensive land.  The Nature Man was not
rolling in wealth.  He spent weeks in wandering over the steep hills,
until, high up the mountain, where clustered several tiny canyons, he
found eighty acres of brush-jungle which were apparently unrecorded as
the property of any one.  The government officials told him that if he
would clear the land and till it for thirty years he would be given a
title for it.

Immediately he set to work.  And never was there such work.  Nobody
farmed that high up.  The land was covered with matted jungle and overrun
by wild pigs and countless rats.  The view of Papeete and the sea was
magnificent, but the outlook was not encouraging.  He spent weeks in
building a road in order to make the plantation accessible.  The pigs and
the rats ate up whatever he planted as fast as it sprouted.  He shot the
pigs and trapped the rats.  Of the latter, in two weeks he caught fifteen
hundred.  Everything had to be carried up on his back.  He usually did
his packhorse work at night.

Gradually he began to win out.  A grass-walled house was built.  On the
fertile, volcanic soil he had wrested from the jungle and jungle beasts
were growing five hundred cocoanut trees, five hundred papaia trees,
three hundred mango trees, many breadfruit trees and alligator-pear
trees, to say nothing of vines, bushes, and vegetables.  He developed the
drip of the hills in the canyons and worked out an efficient irrigation
scheme, ditching the water from canyon to canyon and paralleling the
ditches at different altitudes.  His narrow canyons became botanical
gardens.  The arid shoulders of the hills, where formerly the blazing sun
had parched the jungle and beaten it close to earth, blossomed into trees
and shrubs and flowers.  Not only had the Nature Man become
self-supporting, but he was now a prosperous agriculturist with produce
to sell to the city-dwellers of Papeete.

Then it was discovered that his land, which the government officials had
informed him was without an owner, really had an owner, and that deeds,
descriptions, etc., were on record.  All his work bade fare to be lost.
The land had been valueless when he took it up, and the owner, a large
landholder, was unaware of the extent to which the Nature Man had
developed it.  A just price was agreed upon, and Darling’s deed was
officially filed.

Next came a more crushing blow.  Darling’s access to market was
destroyed.  The road he had built was fenced across by triple barb-wire
fences.  It was one of those jumbles in human affairs that is so common
in this absurdest of social systems.  Behind it was the fine hand of the
same conservative element that haled the Nature Man before the Insanity
Commission in Los Angeles and that deported him from Hawaii.  It is so
hard for self-satisfied men to understand any man whose satisfactions are
fundamentally different.  It seems clear that the officials have connived
with the conservative element, for to this day the road the Nature Man
built is closed; nothing has been done about it, while an adamant
unwillingness to do anything about it is evidenced on every hand.  But
the Nature Man dances and sings along his way.  He does not sit up nights
thinking about the wrong which has been done him; he leaves the worrying
to the doers of the wrong.  He has no time for bitterness.  He believes
he is in the world for the purpose of being happy, and he has not a
moment to waste in any other pursuit.

The road to his plantation is blocked.  He cannot build a new road, for
there is no ground on which he can build it.  The government has
restricted him to a wild-pig trail which runs precipitously up the
mountain.  I climbed the trail with him, and we had to climb with hands
and feet in order to get up.  Nor can that wild-pig trail be made into a
road by any amount of toil less than that of an engineer, a steam-engine,
and a steel cable.  But what does the Nature Man care?  In his gentle
ethics the evil men do him he requites with goodness.  And who shall say
he is not happier than they?

“Never mind their pesky road,” he said to me as we dragged ourselves up a
shelf of rock and sat down, panting, to rest.  “I’ll get an air machine
soon and fool them.  I’m clearing a level space for a landing stage for
the airships, and next time you come to Tahiti you will alight right at
my door.”

Yes, the Nature Man has some strange ideas besides that of the gorilla
pounding his chest in the African jungle.  The Nature Man has ideas about
levitation.  “Yes, sir,” he said to me, “levitation is not impossible.
And think of the glory of it—lifting one’s self from the ground by an act
of will.  Think of it!  The astronomers tell us that our whole solar
system is dying; that, barring accidents, it will all be so cold that no
life can live upon it.  Very well.  In that day all men will be
accomplished levitationists, and they will leave this perishing planet
and seek more hospitable worlds.  How can levitation be accomplished?  By
progressive fasts.  Yes, I have tried them, and toward the end I could
feel myself actually getting lighter.”

The man is a maniac, thought I.

“Of course,” he added, “these are only theories of mine.  I like to
speculate upon the glorious future of man.  Levitation may not be
possible, but I like to think of it as possible.”

One evening, when he yawned, I asked him how much sleep he allowed

“Seven hours,” was the answer.  “But in ten years I’ll be sleeping only
six hours, and in twenty years only five hours.  You see, I shall cut off
an hour’s sleep every ten years.”

“Then when you are a hundred you won’t be sleeping at all,” I

“Just that.  Exactly that.  When I am a hundred I shall not require
sleep.  Also, I shall be living on air.  There are plants that live on
air, you know.”

“But has any man ever succeeded in doing it?”

He shook his head.

“I never heard of him if he did.  But it is only a theory of mine, this
living on air.  It would be fine, wouldn’t it?  Of course it may be
impossible—most likely it is.  You see, I am not unpractical.  I never
forget the present.  When I soar ahead into the future, I always leave a
string by which to find my way back again.”

I fear me the Nature Man is a joker.  At any rate he lives the simple
life.  His laundry bill cannot be large.  Up on his plantation he lives
on fruit the labour cost of which, in cash, he estimates at five cents a
day.  At present, because of his obstructed road and because he is head
over heels in the propaganda of socialism, he is living in town, where
his expenses, including rent, are twenty-five cents a day.  In order to
pay those expenses he is running a night school for Chinese.

The Nature Man is not bigoted.  When there is nothing better to eat than
meat, he eats meat, as, for instance, when in jail or on shipboard and
the nuts and fruits give out.  Nor does he seem to crystallize into
anything except sunburn.

“Drop anchor anywhere and the anchor will drag—that is, if your soul is a
limitless, fathomless sea, and not dog-pound,” he quoted to me, then
added: “You see, my anchor is always dragging.  I live for human health
and progress, and I strive to drag my anchor always in that direction.
To me, the two are identical.  Dragging anchor is what has saved me.  My
anchor did not hold me to my death-bed.  I dragged anchor into the brush
and fooled the doctors.  When I recovered health and strength, I started,
by preaching and by example, to teach the people to become nature men and
nature women.  But they had deaf ears.  Then, on the steamer coming to
Tahiti, a quarter-master expounded socialism to me.  He showed me that an
economic square deal was necessary before men and women could live
naturally.  So I dragged anchor once more, and now I am working for the
co-operative commonwealth.  When that arrives, it will be easy to bring
about nature living.

“I had a dream last night,” he went on thoughtfully, his face slowly
breaking into a glow.  “It seemed that twenty-five nature men and nature
women had just arrived on the steamer from California, and that I was
starting to go with them up the wild-pig trail to the plantation.”

Ah, me, Ernest Darling, sun-worshipper and nature man, there are times
when I am compelled to envy you and your carefree existence.  I see you
now, dancing up the steps and cutting antics on the veranda; your hair
dripping from a plunge in the salt sea, your eyes sparkling, your
sun-gilded body flashing, your chest resounding to the devil’s own tattoo
as you chant: “The gorilla in the African jungle pounds his chest until
the noise of it can be heard half a mile away.”  And I shall see you
always as I saw you that last day, when the _Snark_ poked her nose once
more through the passage in the smoking reef, outward bound, and I waved
good-bye to those on shore.  Not least in goodwill and affection was the
wave I gave to the golden sun-god in the scarlet loin-cloth, standing
upright in his tiny outrigger canoe.


    On the arrival of strangers, every man endeavoured to obtain one as a
    friend and carry him off to his own habitation, where he is treated
    with the greatest kindness by the inhabitants of the district; they
    place him on a high seat and feed him with abundance of the finest
    food.—_Polynesian Researches_.

THE _Snark_ was lying at anchor at Raiatea, just off the village of
Uturoa.  She had arrived the night before, after dark, and we were
preparing to pay our first visit ashore.  Early in the morning I had
noticed a tiny outrigger canoe, with an impossible spritsail, skimming
the surface of the lagoon.  The canoe itself was coffin-shaped, a mere
dugout, fourteen feet long, a scant twelve inches wide, and maybe
twenty-four inches deep.  It had no lines, except in so far that it was
sharp at both ends.  Its sides were perpendicular.  Shorn of the
outrigger, it would have capsized of itself inside a tenth of a second.
It was the outrigger that kept it right side up.

I have said that the sail was impossible.  It was.  It was one of those
things, not that you have to see to believe, but that you cannot believe
after you have seen it.  The hoist of it and the length of its boom were
sufficiently appalling; but, not content with that, its artificer had
given it a tremendous head.  So large was the head that no common sprit
could carry the strain of it in an ordinary breeze.  So a spar had been
lashed to the canoe, projecting aft over the water.  To this had been
made fast a sprit guy: thus, the foot of the sail was held by the
main-sheet, and the peak by the guy to the sprit.

It was not a mere boat, not a mere canoe, but a sailing machine.  And the
man in it sailed it by his weight and his nerve—principally by the
latter.  I watched the canoe beat up from leeward and run in toward the
village, its sole occupant far out on the outrigger and luffing up and
spilling the wind in the puffs.

“Well, I know one thing,” I announced; “I don’t leave Raiatea till I have
a ride in that canoe.”

A few minutes later Warren called down the companionway, “Here’s that
canoe you were talking about.”

Promptly I dashed on deck and gave greeting to its owner, a tall, slender
Polynesian, ingenuous of face, and with clear, sparkling, intelligent
eyes.  He was clad in a scarlet loin-cloth and a straw hat.  In his hands
were presents—a fish, a bunch of greens, and several enormous yams.  All
of which acknowledged by smiles (which are coinage still in isolated
spots of Polynesia) and by frequent repetitions of _mauruuru_ (which is
the Tahitian “thank you”), I proceeded to make signs that I desired to go
for a sail in his canoe.

His face lighted with pleasure and he uttered the single word, “Tahaa,”
turning at the same time and pointing to the lofty, cloud-draped peaks of
an island three miles away—the island of Tahaa.  It was fair wind over,
but a head-beat back.  Now I did not want to go to Tahaa.  I had letters
to deliver in Raiatea, and officials to see, and there was Charmian down
below getting ready to go ashore.  By insistent signs I indicated that I
desired no more than a short sail on the lagoon.  Quick was the
disappointment in his face, yet smiling was the acquiescence.

“Come on for a sail,” I called below to Charmian.  “But put on your
swimming suit.  It’s going to be wet.”

It wasn’t real.  It was a dream.  That canoe slid over the water like a
streak of silver.  I climbed out on the outrigger and supplied the weight
to hold her down, while Tehei (pronounced Tayhayee) supplied the nerve.
He, too, in the puffs, climbed part way out on the outrigger, at the same
time steering with both hands on a large paddle and holding the mainsheet
with his foot.

“Ready about!” he called.

I carefully shifted my weight inboard in order to maintain the
equilibrium as the sail emptied.

“Hard a-lee!” he called, shooting her into the wind.

I slid out on the opposite side over the water on a spar lashed across
the canoe, and we were full and away on the other tack.

“All right,” said Tehei.

Those three phrases, “Ready about,” “Hard a-lee,” and “All right,”
comprised Tehei’s English vocabulary and led me to suspect that at some
time he had been one of a Kanaka crew under an American captain.  Between
the puffs I made signs to him and repeatedly and interrogatively uttered
the word _sailor_.  Then I tried it in atrocious French.  _Marin_
conveyed no meaning to him; nor did _matelot_.  Either my French was bad,
or else he was not up in it.  I have since concluded that both
conjectures were correct.  Finally, I began naming over the adjacent
islands.  He nodded that he had been to them.  By the time my quest
reached Tahiti, he caught my drift.  His thought-processes were almost
visible, and it was a joy to watch him think.  He nodded his head
vigorously.  Yes, he had been to Tahiti, and he added himself names of
islands such as Tikihau, Rangiroa, and Fakarava, thus proving that he had
sailed as far as the Paumotus—undoubtedly one of the crew of a trading

After our short sail, when he had returned on board, he by signs inquired
the destination of the _Snark_, and when I had mentioned Samoa, Fiji, New
Guinea, France, England, and California in their geographical sequence,
he said “Samoa,” and by gestures intimated that he wanted to go along.
Whereupon I was hard put to explain that there was no room for him.
“_Petit bateau_” finally solved it, and again the disappointment in his
face was accompanied by smiling acquiescence, and promptly came the
renewed invitation to accompany him to Tahaa.

Charmian and I looked at each other.  The exhilaration of the ride we had
taken was still upon us.  Forgotten were the letters to Raiatea, the
officials we had to visit.  Shoes, a shirt, a pair of trousers,
cigarettes matches, and a book to read were hastily crammed into a
biscuit tin and wrapped in a rubber blanket, and we were over the side
and into the canoe.

“When shall we look for you?” Warren called, as the wind filled the sail
and sent Tehei and me scurrying out on the outrigger.

“I don’t know,” I answered.  “When we get back, as near as I can figure

And away we went.  The wind had increased, and with slacked sheets we ran
off before it.  The freeboard of the canoe was no more than two and a
half inches, and the little waves continually lapped over the side.  This
required bailing.  Now bailing is one of the principal functions of the
vahine.  Vahine is the Tahitian for woman, and Charmian being the only
vahine aboard, the bailing fell appropriately to her.  Tehei and I could
not very well do it, the both of us being perched part way out on the
outrigger and busied with keeping the canoe bottom-side down.  So
Charmian bailed, with a wooden scoop of primitive design, and so well did
she do it that there were occasions when she could rest off almost half
the time.

Raiatea and Tahaa are unique in that they lie inside the same encircling
reef.  Both are volcanic islands, ragged of sky-line, with
heaven-aspiring peaks and minarets.  Since Raiatea is thirty miles in
circumference, and Tahaa fifteen miles, some idea may be gained of the
magnitude of the reef that encloses them.  Between them and the reef
stretches from one to two miles of water, forming a beautiful lagoon.
The huge Pacific seas, extending in unbroken lines sometimes a mile or
half as much again in length, hurl themselves upon the reef, overtowering
and falling upon it with tremendous crashes, and yet the fragile coral
structure withstands the shock and protects the land.  Outside lies
destruction to the mightiest ship afloat.  Inside reigns the calm of
untroubled water, whereon a canoe like ours can sail with no more than a
couple of inches of free-board.

We flew over the water.  And such water!—clear as the clearest
spring-water, and crystalline in its clearness, all intershot with a
maddening pageant of colours and rainbow ribbons more magnificently
gorgeous than any rainbow.  Jade green alternated with turquoise, peacock
blue with emerald, while now the canoe skimmed over reddish purple pools,
and again over pools of dazzling, shimmering white where pounded coral
sand lay beneath and upon which oozed monstrous sea-slugs.  One moment we
were above wonder-gardens of coral, wherein coloured fishes disported,
fluttering like marine butterflies; the next moment we were dashing
across the dark surface of deep channels, out of which schools of flying
fish lifted their silvery flight; and a third moment we were above other
gardens of living coral, each more wonderful than the last.  And above
all was the tropic, trade-wind sky with its fluffy clouds racing across
the zenith and heaping the horizon with their soft masses.

Before we were aware, we were close in to Tahaa (pronounced Tah-hah-ah,
with equal accents), and Tehei was grinning approval of the vahine’s
proficiency at bailing.  The canoe grounded on a shallow shore, twenty
feet from land, and we waded out on a soft bottom where big slugs curled
and writhed under our feet and where small octopuses advertised their
existence by their superlative softness when stepped upon.  Close to the
beach, amid cocoanut palms and banana trees, erected on stilts, built of
bamboo, with a grass-thatched roof, was Tehei’s house.  And out of the
house came Tehei’s vahine, a slender mite of a woman, kindly eyed and
Mongolian of feature—when she was not North American Indian.  “Bihaura,”
Tehei called her, but he did not pronounce it according to English
notions of spelling.  Spelled “Bihaura,” it sounded like Bee-ah-oo-rah,
with every syllable sharply emphasized.

She took Charmian by the hand and led her into the house, leaving Tehei
and me to follow.  Here, by sign-language unmistakable, we were informed
that all they possessed was ours.  No hidalgo was ever more generous in
the expression of giving, while I am sure that few hidalgos were ever as
generous in the actual practice.  We quickly discovered that we dare not
admire their possessions, for whenever we did admire a particular object
it was immediately presented to us.  The two vahines, according to the
way of vahines, got together in a discussion and examination of feminine
fripperies, while Tehei and I, manlike, went over fishing-tackle and
wild-pig-hunting, to say nothing of the device whereby bonitas are caught
on forty-foot poles from double canoes.  Charmian admired a sewing
basket—the best example she had seen of Polynesian basketry; it was hers.
I admired a bonita hook, carved in one piece from a pearl-shell; it was
mine.  Charmian was attracted by a fancy braid of straw sennit, thirty
feet of it in a roll, sufficient to make a hat of any design one wished;
the roll of sennit was hers.  My gaze lingered upon a poi-pounder that
dated back to the old stone days; it was mine.  Charmian dwelt a moment
too long on a wooden poi-bowl, canoe-shaped, with four legs, all carved
in one piece of wood; it was hers.  I glanced a second time at a gigantic
cocoanut calabash; it was mine.  Then Charmian and I held a conference in
which we resolved to admire no more—not because it did not pay well
enough, but because it paid too well.  Also, we were already racking our
brains over the contents of the _Snark_ for suitable return presents.
Christmas is an easy problem compared with a Polynesian giving-feast.

We sat on the cool porch, on Bihaura’s best mats while dinner was
preparing, and at the same time met the villagers.  In twos and threes
and groups they strayed along, shaking hands and uttering the Tahitian
word of greeting—Ioarana, pronounced yo-rah-nah.  The men, big strapping
fellows, were in loin-cloths, with here and there no shirt, while the
women wore the universal _ahu_, a sort of adult pinafore that flows in
graceful lines from the shoulders to the ground.  Sad to see was the
elephantiasis that afflicted some of them.  Here would be a comely woman
of magnificent proportions, with the port of a queen, yet marred by one
arm four times—or a dozen times—the size of the other.  Beside her might
stand a six-foot man, erect, mighty-muscled, bronzed, with the body of a
god, yet with feet and calves so swollen that they ran together, forming
legs, shapeless, monstrous, that were for all the world like elephant

No one seems really to know the cause of the South Sea elephantiasis.
One theory is that it is caused by the drinking of polluted water.
Another theory attributes it to inoculation through mosquito bites.  A
third theory charges it to predisposition plus the process of
acclimatization.  On the other hand, no one that stands in finicky dread
of it and similar diseases can afford to travel in the South Seas.  There
will be occasions when such a one must drink water.  There may be also
occasions when the mosquitoes let up biting.  But every precaution of the
finicky one will be useless.  If he runs barefoot across the beach to
have a swim, he will tread where an elephantiasis case trod a few minutes
before.  If he closets himself in his own house, yet every bit of fresh
food on his table will have been subjected to the contamination, be it
flesh, fish, fowl, or vegetable.  In the public market at Papeete two
known lepers run stalls, and heaven alone knows through what channels
arrive at that market the daily supplies of fish, fruit, meat, and
vegetables.  The only happy way to go through the South Seas is with a
careless poise, without apprehension, and with a Christian Science-like
faith in the resplendent fortune of your own particular star.  When you
see a woman, afflicted with elephantiasis wringing out cream from
cocoanut meat with her naked hands, drink and reflect how good is the
cream, forgetting the hands that pressed it out.  Also, remember that
diseases such as elephantiasis and leprosy do not seem to be caught by

We watched a Raratongan woman, with swollen, distorted limbs, prepare our
cocoanut cream, and then went out to the cook-shed where Tehei and
Bihaura were cooking dinner.  And then it was served to us on a dry-goods
box in the house.  Our hosts waited until we were done and then spread
their table on the floor.  But our table!  We were certainly in the high
seat of abundance.  First, there was glorious raw fish, caught several
hours before from the sea and steeped the intervening time in lime-juice
diluted with water.  Then came roast chicken.  Two cocoanuts, sharply
sweet, served for drink.  There were bananas that tasted like
strawberries and that melted in the mouth, and there was banana-poi that
made one regret that his Yankee forebears ever attempted puddings.  Then
there was boiled yam, boiled taro, and roasted _feis_, which last are
nothing more or less than large mealy, juicy, red-coloured cooking
bananas.  We marvelled at the abundance, and, even as we marvelled, a pig
was brought on, a whole pig, a sucking pig, swathed in green leaves and
roasted upon the hot stones of a native oven, the most honourable and
triumphant dish in the Polynesian cuisine.  And after that came coffee,
black coffee, delicious coffee, native coffee grown on the hillsides of

Tehei’s fishing-tackle fascinated me, and after we arranged to go
fishing, Charmian and I decided to remain all night.  Again Tehei
broached Samoa, and again my _petit bateau_ brought the disappointment
and the smile of acquiescence to his face.  Bora Bora was my next port.
It was not so far away but that cutters made the passage back and forth
between it and Raiatea.  So I invited Tehei to go that far with us on the
_Snark_.  Then I learned that his wife had been born on Bora Bora and
still owned a house there.  She likewise was invited, and immediately
came the counter invitation to stay with them in their house in Born
Bora.  It was Monday.  Tuesday we would go fishing and return to Raiatea.
Wednesday we would sail by Tahaa and off a certain point, a mile away,
pick up Tehei and Bihaura and go on to Bora Bora.  All this we arranged
in detail, and talked over scores of other things as well, and yet Tehei
knew three phrases in English, Charmian and I knew possibly a dozen
Tahitian words, and among the four of us there were a dozen or so French
words that all understood.  Of course, such polyglot conversation was
slow, but, eked out with a pad, a lead pencil, the face of a clock
Charmian drew on the back of a pad, and with ten thousand and one
gestures, we managed to get on very nicely.

At the first moment we evidenced an inclination for bed the visiting
natives, with soft _Iaoranas_, faded away, and Tehei and Bihaura likewise
faded away.  The house consisted of one large room, and it was given over
to us, our hosts going elsewhere to sleep.  In truth, their castle was
ours.  And right here, I want to say that of all the entertainment I have
received in this world at the hands of all sorts of races in all sorts of
places, I have never received entertainment that equalled this at the
hands of this brown-skinned couple of Tahaa.  I do not refer to the
presents, the free-handed generousness, the high abundance, but to the
fineness of courtesy and consideration and tact, and to the sympathy that
was real sympathy in that it was understanding.  They did nothing they
thought ought to be done for us, according to their standards, but they
did what they divined we waited to be done for us, while their divination
was most successful.  It would be impossible to enumerate the hundreds of
little acts of consideration they performed during the few days of our
intercourse.  Let it suffice for me to say that of all hospitality and
entertainment I have known, in no case was theirs not only not excelled,
but in no case was it quite equalled.  Perhaps the most delightful
feature of it was that it was due to no training, to no complex social
ideals, but that it was the untutored and spontaneous outpouring from
their hearts.

The next morning we went fishing, that is, Tehei, Charmian, and I did, in
the coffin-shaped canoe; but this time the enormous sail was left behind.
There was no room for sailing and fishing at the same time in that tiny
craft.  Several miles away, inside the reef, in a channel twenty fathoms
deep, Tehei dropped his baited hooks and rock-sinkers.  The bait was
chunks of octopus flesh, which he bit out of a live octopus that writhed
in the bottom of the canoe.  Nine of these lines he set, each line
attached to one end of a short length of bamboo floating on the surface.
When a fish was hooked, the end of the bamboo was drawn under the water.
Naturally, the other end rose up in the air, bobbing and waving
frantically for us to make haste.  And make haste we did, with whoops and
yells and driving paddles, from one signalling bamboo to another, hauling
up from the depths great glistening beauties from two to three feet in

Steadily, to the eastward, an ominous squall had been rising and blotting
out the bright trade-wind sky.  And we were three miles to leeward of
home.  We started as the first wind-gusts whitened the water.  Then came
the rain, such rain as only the tropics afford, where every tap and main
in the sky is open wide, and when, to top it all, the very reservoir
itself spills over in blinding deluge.  Well, Charmian was in a swimming
suit, I was in pyjamas, and Tehei wore only a loin-cloth.  Bihaura was on
the beach waiting for us, and she led Charmian into the house in much the
same fashion that the mother leads in the naughty little girl who has
been playing in mud-puddles.

It was a change of clothes and a dry and quiet smoke while _kai-kai_ was
preparing.  _Kai-kai_, by the way, is the Polynesian for “food” or “to
eat,” or, rather, it is one form of the original root, whatever it may
have been, that has been distributed far and wide over the vast area of
the Pacific.  It is _kai_ in the Marquesas, Raratonga, Manahiki, Niuë,
Fakaafo, Tonga, New Zealand, and Vaté.  In Tahiti “to eat” changes to
_amu_, in Hawaii and Samoa to _ai_, in Ban to _kana_, in Nina to _kana_,
in Nongone to _kaka_, and in New Caledonia to _ki_.  But by whatsoever
sound or symbol, it was welcome to our ears after that long paddle in the
rain.  Once more we sat in the high seat of abundance until we regretted
that we had been made unlike the image of the giraffe and the camel.

Again, when we were preparing to return to the _Snark_, the sky to
windward turned black and another squall swooped down.  But this time it
was little rain and all wind.  It blew hour after hour, moaning and
screeching through the palms, tearing and wrenching and shaking the frail
bamboo dwelling, while the outer reef set no a mighty thundering as it
broke the force of the swinging seas.  Inside the reef, the lagoon,
sheltered though it was, was white with fury, and not even Tehei’s
seamanship could have enabled his slender canoe to live in such a welter.

By sunset, the back of the squall had broken though it was still too
rough for the canoe.  So I had Tehei find a native who was willing to
venture his cutter across to Raiatea for the outrageous sum of two
dollars, Chili, which is equivalent in our money to ninety cents.  Half
the village was told off to carry presents, with which Tehei and Bihaura
speeded their parting guests—captive chickens, fishes dressed and swathed
in wrappings of green leaves, great golden bunches of bananas, leafy
baskets spilling over with oranges and limes, alligator pears (the
butter-fruit, also called the _avoca_), huge baskets of yams, bunches of
taro and cocoanuts, and last of all, large branches and trunks of
trees—firewood for the _Snark_.

While on the way to the cutter we met the only white man on Tahaa, and of
all men, George Lufkin, a native of New England!  Eighty-six years of age
he was, sixty-odd of which, he said, he had spent in the Society Islands,
with occasional absences, such as the gold rush to Eldorado in
’forty-nine and a short period of ranching in California near Tulare.
Given no more than three months by the doctors to live, he had returned
to his South Seas and lived to eighty-six and to chuckle over the doctors
aforesaid, who were all in their graves.  _Fee-fee_ he had, which is the
native for elephantiasis and which is pronounced fay-fay.  A quarter of a
century before, the disease had fastened upon him, and it would remain
with him until he died.  We asked him about kith and kin.  Beside him sat
a sprightly damsel of sixty, his daughter.  “She is all I have,” he
murmured plaintively, “and she has no children living.”

The cutter was a small, sloop-rigged affair, but large it seemed
alongside Tehei’s canoe.  On the other hand, when we got out on the
lagoon and were struck by another heavy wind-squall, the cutter became
liliputian, while the _Snark_, in our imagination, seemed to promise all
the stability and permanence of a continent.  They were good boatmen.
Tehei and Bihaura had come along to see us home, and the latter proved a
good boatwoman herself.  The cutter was well ballasted, and we met the
squall under full sail.  It was getting dark, the lagoon was full of
coral patches, and we were carrying on.  In the height of the squall we
had to go about, in order to make a short leg to windward to pass around
a patch of coral no more than a foot under the surface.  As the cutter
filled on the other tack, and while she was in that “dead” condition that
precedes gathering way, she was knocked flat.  Jib-sheet and main-sheet
were let go, and she righted into the wind.  Three times she was knocked
down, and three times the sheets were flung loose, before she could get
away on that tack.

By the time we went about again, darkness had fallen.  We were now to
windward of the _Snark_, and the squall was howling.  In came the jib,
and down came the mainsail, all but a patch of it the size of a
pillow-slip.  By an accident we missed the _Snark_, which was riding it
out to two anchors, and drove aground upon the inshore coral.  Running
the longest line on the _Snark_ by means of the launch, and after an
hour’s hard work, we heaved the cutter off and had her lying safely

The day we sailed for Bora Bora the wind was light, and we crossed the
lagoon under power to the point where Tehei and Bihaura were to meet us.
As we made in to the land between the coral banks, we vainly scanned the
shore for our friends.  There was no sign of them.

“We can’t wait,” I said.  “This breeze won’t fetch us to Bora Bora by
dark, and I don’t want to use any more gasolene than I have to.”

You see, gasolene in the South Seas is a problem.  One never knows when
he will be able to replenish his supply.

But just then Tehei appeared through the trees as he came down to the
water.  He had peeled off his shirt and was wildly waving it.  Bihaura
apparently was not ready.  Once aboard, Tehei informed us by signs that
we must proceed along the land till we got opposite to his house.  He
took the wheel and conned the _Snark_ through the coral, around point
after point till we cleared the last point of all.  Cries of welcome went
up from the beach, and Bihaura, assisted by several of the villagers,
brought off two canoe-loads of abundance.  There were yams, taro, _feis_,
breadfruit, cocoanuts, oranges, limes, pineapples, watermelons, alligator
pears, pomegranates, fish, chickens galore crowing and cackling and
laying eggs on our decks, and a live pig that squealed infernally and all
the time in apprehension of imminent slaughter.

Under the rising moon we came in through the perilous passage of the reef
of Bora Bora and dropped anchor off Vaitapé village.  Bihaura, with
housewifely anxiety, could not get ashore too quickly to her house to
prepare more abundance for us.  While the launch was taking her and Tehei
to the little jetty, the sound of music and of singing drifted across the
quiet lagoon.  Throughout the Society Islands we had been continually
informed that we would find the Bora Borans very jolly.  Charmian and I
went ashore to see, and on the village green, by forgotten graves on the
beach, found the youths and maidens dancing, flower-garlanded and
flower-bedecked, with strange phosphorescent flowers in their hair that
pulsed and dimmed and glowed in the moonlight.  Farther along the beach
we came upon a huge grass house, oval-shaped seventy feet in length,
where the elders of the village were singing _himines_.  They, too, were
flower-garlanded and jolly, and they welcomed us into the fold as little
lost sheep straying along from outer darkness.

Early next morning Tehei was on board, with a string of fresh-caught fish
and an invitation to dinner for that evening.  On the way to dinner, we
dropped in at the _himine_ house.  The same elders were singing, with
here or there a youth or maiden that we had not seen the previous night.
From all the signs, a feast was in preparation.  Towering up from the
floor was a mountain of fruits and vegetables, flanked on either side by
numerous chickens tethered by cocoanut strips.  After several _himines_
had been sung, one of the men arose and made oration.  The oration was
made to us, and though it was Greek to us, we knew that in some way it
connected us with that mountain of provender.

“Can it be that they are presenting us with all that?” Charmian

“Impossible,” I muttered back.  “Why should they be giving it to us?
Besides, there is no room on the _Snark_ for it.  We could not eat a
tithe of it.  The rest would spoil.  Maybe they are inviting us to the
feast.  At any rate, that they should give all that to us is impossible.”

Nevertheless we found ourselves once more in the high seat of abundance.
The orator, by gestures unmistakable, in detail presented every item in
the mountain to us, and next he presented it to us _in toto_.  It was an
embarrassing moment.  What would you do if you lived in a hall bedroom
and a friend gave you a white elephant?  Our _Snark_ was no more than a
hall bedroom, and already she was loaded down with the abundance of
Tahaa.  This new supply was too much.  We blushed, and stammered, and
_mauruuru’d_.  We _mauruuru’d_ with repeated _nui’s_ which conveyed the
largeness and overwhelmingness of our thanks.  At the same time, by
signs, we committed the awful breach of etiquette of not accepting the
present.  The _himine_ singers’ disappointment was plainly betrayed, and
that evening, aided by Tehei, we compromised by accepting one chicken,
one bunch of bananas, one bunch of taro, and so on down the list.

But there was no escaping the abundance.  I bought a dozen chickens from
a native out in the country, and the following day he delivered thirteen
chickens along with a canoe-load of fruit.  The French storekeeper
presented us with pomegranates and lent us his finest horse.  The
gendarme did likewise, lending us a horse that was the very apple of his
eye.  And everybody sent us flowers.  The _Snark_ was a fruit-stand and a
greengrocer’s shop masquerading under the guise of a conservatory.  We
went around flower-garlanded all the time.  When the _himine_ singers
came on board to sing, the maidens kissed us welcome, and the crew, from
captain to cabin-boy, lost its heart to the maidens of Bora Bora.  Tehei
got up a big fishing expedition in our honour, to which we went in a
double canoe, paddled by a dozen strapping Amazons.  We were relieved
that no fish were caught, else the _Snark_ would have sunk at her

The days passed, but the abundance did not diminish.  On the day of
departure, canoe after canoe put off to us.  Tehei brought cucumbers and
a young _papaia_ tree burdened with splendid fruit.  Also, for me he
brought a tiny, double canoe with fishing apparatus complete.  Further,
he brought fruits and vegetables with the same lavishness as at Tahaa.
Bihaura brought various special presents for Charmian, such as
silk-cotton pillows, fans, and fancy mats.  The whole population brought
fruits, flowers, and chickens.  And Bihaura added a live sucking pig.
Natives whom I did not remember ever having seen before strayed over the
rail and presented me with such things as fish-poles, fish-lines, and
fish-hooks carved from pearl-shell.

As the _Snark_ sailed out through the reef, she had a cutter in tow.
This was the craft that was to take Bihaura back to Tahaa—but not Tehei.
I had yielded at last, and he was one of the crew of the _Snark_.  When
the cutter cast off and headed east, and the _Snark’s_ bow turned toward
the west, Tehei knelt down by the cockpit and breathed a silent prayer,
the tears flowing down his cheeks.  A week later, when Martin got around
to developing and printing, he showed Tehei some of the photographs.  And
that brown-skinned son of Polynesia, gazing on the pictured lineaments of
his beloved Bihaura broke down in tears.

But the abundance!  There was so much of it.  We could not work the
_Snark_ for the fruit that was in the way.  She was festooned with fruit.
The life-boat and launch were packed with it.  The awning-guys groaned
under their burdens.  But once we struck the full trade-wind sea, the
disburdening began.  At every roll the _Snark_ shook overboard a bunch or
so of bananas and cocoanuts, or a basket of limes.  A golden flood of
limes washed about in the lee-scuppers.  The big baskets of yams burst,
and pineapples and pomegranates rolled back and forth.  The chickens had
got loose and were everywhere, roosting on the awnings, fluttering and
squawking out on the jib-boom, and essaying the perilous feat of
balancing on the spinnaker-boom.  They were wild chickens, accustomed to
flight.  When attempts were made to catch them, they flew out over the
ocean, circled about, and came lack.  Sometimes they did not come back.
And in the confusion, unobserved, the little sucking pig got loose and
slipped overboard.

“On the arrival of strangers, every man endeavoured to obtain one as a
friend and carry him off to his own habitation, where he is treated with
the greatest kindness by the inhabitants of the district: they place him
on a high seat and feed him with abundance of the finest foods.”


AT five in the morning the conches began to blow.  From all along the
beach the eerie sounds arose, like the ancient voice of War, calling to
the fishermen to arise and prepare to go forth.  We on the _Snark_
likewise arose, for there could be no sleep in that mad din of conches.
Also, we were going stone-fishing, though our preparations were few.

_Tautai-taora_ is the name for stone-fishing, _tautai_ meaning a “fishing
instrument.”  And _taora_ meaning “thrown.”  But _tautai-taora_, in
combination, means “stone-fishing,” for a stone is the instrument that is
thrown.  Stone-fishing is in reality a fish-drive, similar in principle
to a rabbit-drive or a cattle-drive, though in the latter affairs drivers
and driven operate in the same medium, while in the fish-drive the men
must be in the air to breathe and the fish are driven through the water.
It does not matter if the water is a hundred feet deep, the men, working
on the surface, drive the fish just the same.

This is the way it is done.  The canoes form in line, one hundred to two
hundred feet apart.  In the bow of each canoe a man wields a stone,
several pounds in weight, which is attached to a short rope.  He merely
smites the water with the stone, pulls up the stone, and smites again.
He goes on smiting.  In the stern of each canoe another man paddles,
driving the canoe ahead and at the same time keeping it in the formation.
The line of canoes advances to meet a second line a mile or two away, the
ends of the lines hurrying together to form a circle, the far edge of
which is the shore.  The circle begins to contract upon the shore, where
the women, standing in a long row out into the sea, form a fence of legs,
which serves to break any rushes of the frantic fish.  At the right
moment when the circle is sufficiently small, a canoe dashes out from
shore, dropping overboard a long screen of cocoanut leaves and encircling
the circle, thus reinforcing the palisade of legs.  Of course, the
fishing is always done inside the reef in the lagoon.

“_Très jolie_,” the gendarme said, after explaining by signs and gestures
that thousands of fish would be caught of all sizes from minnows to
sharks, and that the captured fish would boil up and upon the very sand
of the beach.

It is a most successful method of fishing, while its nature is more that
of an outing festival, rather than of a prosaic, food-getting task.  Such
fishing parties take place about once a month at Bora Bora, and it is a
custom that has descended from old time.  The man who originated it is
not remembered.  They always did this thing.  But one cannot help
wondering about that forgotten savage of the long ago, into whose mind
first flashed this scheme of easy fishing, of catching huge quantities of
fish without hook, or net, or spear.  One thing about him we can know: he
was a radical.  And we can be sure that he was considered feather-brained
and anarchistic by his conservative tribesmen.  His difficulty was much
greater than that of the modern inventor, who has to convince in advance
only one or two capitalists.  That early inventor had to convince his
whole tribe in advance, for without the co-operation of the whole tribe
the device could not be tested.  One can well imagine the nightly
pow-wow-ings in that primitive island world, when he called his comrades
antiquated moss-backs, and they called him a fool, a freak, and a crank,
and charged him with having come from Kansas.  Heaven alone knows at what
cost of grey hairs and expletives he must finally have succeeded in
winning over a sufficient number to give his idea a trial.  At any rate,
the experiment succeeded.  It stood the test of truth—it worked!  And
thereafter, we can be confident, there was no man to be found who did not
know all along that it was going to work.

Our good friends, Tehei and Bihaura, who were giving the fishing in our
honour, had promised to come for us.  We were down below when the call
came from on deck that they were coming.  We dashed up the companionway,
to be overwhelmed by the sight of the Polynesian barge in which we were
to ride.  It was a long double canoe, the canoes lashed together by
timbers with an interval of water between, and the whole decorated with
flowers and golden grasses.  A dozen flower-crowned Amazons were at the
paddles, while at the stern of each canoe was a strapping steersman.  All
were garlanded with gold and crimson and orange flowers, while each wore
about the hips a scarlet _pareu_.  There were flowers everywhere,
flowers, flowers, flowers, without out end.  The whole thing was an orgy
of colour.  On the platform forward resting on the bows of the canoes,
Tehei and Bihaura were dancing.  All voices were raised in a wild song or

Three times they circled the _Snark_ before coming alongside to take
Charmian and me on board.  Then it was away for the fishing-grounds, a
five-mile paddle dead to windward.  “Everybody is jolly in Bora Bora,” is
the saying throughout the Society Islands, and we certainly found
everybody jolly.  Canoe songs, shark songs, and fishing songs were sung
to the dipping of the paddles, all joining in on the swinging choruses.
Once in a while the cry _Mao_! was raised, whereupon all strained like
mad at the paddles.  Mao is shark, and when the deep-sea tigers appear,
the natives paddle for dear life for the shore, knowing full well the
danger they run of having their frail canoes overturned and of being
devoured.  Of course, in our case there were no sharks, but the cry of
_mao_ was used to incite them to paddle with as much energy as if a shark
were really after them.  “Hoé!  Hoé!” was another cry that made us foam
through the water.

On the platform Tehei and Bihaura danced, accompanied by songs and
choruses or by rhythmic hand-clappings.  At other times a musical
knocking of the paddles against the sides of the canoes marked the
accent.  A young girl dropped her paddle, leaped to the platform, and
danced a hula, in the midst of which, still dancing, she swayed and bent,
and imprinted on our cheeks the kiss of welcome.  Some of the songs, or
_himines_, were religious, and they were especially beautiful, the deep
basses of the men mingling with the altos and thin sopranos of the women
and forming a combination of sound that irresistibly reminded one of an
organ.  In fact, “kanaka organ” is the scoffer’s description of the
_himine_.  On the other hand, some of the chants or ballads were very
barbaric, having come down from pre-Christian times.

And so, singing, dancing, paddling, these joyous Polynesians took us to
the fishing.  The gendarme, who is the French ruler of Bora Bora,
accompanied us with his family in a double canoe of his own, paddled by
his prisoners; for not only is he gendarme and ruler, but he is jailer as
well, and in this jolly land when anybody goes fishing, all go fishing.
A score of single canoes, with outriggers, paddled along with us.  Around
a point a big sailing-canoe appeared, running beautifully before the wind
as it bore down to greet us.  Balancing precariously on the outrigger,
three young men saluted us with a wild rolling of drums.

The next point, half a mile farther on, brought us to the place of
meeting.  Here the launch, which had been brought along by Warren and
Martin, attracted much attention.  The Bora Borans could not see what
made it go.  The canoes were drawn upon the sand, and all hands went
ashore to drink cocoanuts and sing and dance.  Here our numbers were
added to by many who arrived on foot from near-by dwellings, and a pretty
sight it was to see the flower-crowned maidens, hand in hand and two by
two, arriving along the sands.

“They usually make a big catch,” Allicot, a half-caste trader, told us.
“At the finish the water is fairly alive with fish.  It is lots of fun.
Of course you know all the fish will be yours.”

“All?” I groaned, for already the _Snark_ was loaded down with lavish
presents, by the canoe-load, of fruits, vegetables, pigs, and chickens.

“Yes, every last fish,” Allicot answered.  “You see, when the surround is
completed, you, being the guest of honour, must take a harpoon and impale
the first one.  It is the custom.  Then everybody goes in with their
hands and throws the catch out on the sand.  There will be a mountain of
them.  Then one of the chiefs will make a speech in which he presents you
with the whole kit and boodle.  But you don’t have to take them all.  You
get up and make a speech, selecting what fish you want for yourself and
presenting all the rest back again.  Then everybody says you are very

“But what would be the result if I kept the whole present?” I asked.

“It has never happened,” was the answer.  “It is the custom to give and
give back again.”

The native minister started with a prayer for success in the fishing, and
all heads were bared.  Next, the chief fishermen told off the canoes and
allotted them their places.  Then it was into the canoes and away.  No
women, however, came along, with the exception of Bihaura and Charmian.
In the old days even they would have been tabooed.  The women remained
behind to wade out into the water and form the palisade of legs.

The big double canoe was left on the beech, and we went in the launch.
Half the canoes paddled off to leeward, while we, with the other half,
headed to windward a mile and a half, until the end of our line was in
touch with the reef.  The leader of the drive occupied a canoe midway in
our line.  He stood erect, a fine figure of an old man, holding a flag in
his hand.  He directed the taking of positions and the forming of the two
lines by blowing on a conch.  When all was ready, he waved his flag to
the right.  With a single splash the throwers in every canoe on that side
struck the water with their stones.  While they were hauling them back—a
matter of a moment, for the stones scarcely sank beneath the surface—the
flag waved to the left, and with admirable precision every stone on that
side struck the water.  So it went, back and forth, right and left; with
every wave of the flag a long line of concussion smote the lagoon.  At
the same time the paddles drove the canoes forward and what was being
done in our line was being done in the opposing line of canoes a mile and
more away.

On the bow of the launch, Tehei, with eyes fixed on the leader, worked
his stone in unison with the others.  Once, the stone slipped from the
rope, and the same instant Tehei went overboard after it.  I do not know
whether or not that stone reached the bottom, but I do know that the next
instant Tehei broke surface alongside with the stone in his hand.  I
noticed this same accident occur several times among the near-by canoes,
but in each instance the thrower followed the stone and brought it back.

The reef ends of our lines accelerated, the shore ends lagged, all under
the watchful supervision of the leader, until at the reef the two lines
joined, forming the circle.  Then the contraction of the circle began,
the poor frightened fish harried shoreward by the streaks of concussion
that smote the water.  In the same fashion elephants are driven through
the jungle by motes of men who crouch in the long grasses or behind trees
and make strange noises.  Already the palisade of legs had been built.
We could see the heads of the women, in a long line, dotting the placid
surface of the lagoon.  The tallest women went farthest out, thus, with
the exception of those close inshore, nearly all were up to their necks
in the water.

Still the circle narrowed, till canoes were almost touching.  There was a
pause.  A long canoe shot out from shore, following the line of the
circle.  It went as fast as paddles could drive.  In the stern a man
threw overboard the long, continuous screen of cocoanut leaves.  The
canoes were no longer needed, and overboard went the men to reinforce the
palisade with their legs.  For the screen was only a screen, and not a
net, and the fish could dash through it if they tried.  Hence the need
for legs that ever agitated the screen, and for hands that splashed and
throats that yelled.  Pandemonium reigned as the trap tightened.

But no fish broke surface or collided against the hidden legs.  At last
the chief fisherman entered the trap.  He waded around everywhere,
carefully.  But there were no fish boiling up and out upon the sand.
There was not a sardine, not a minnow, not a polly-wog.  Something must
have been wrong with that prayer; or else, and more likely, as one
grizzled fellow put it, the wind was not in its usual quarter and the
fish were elsewhere in the lagoon.  In fact, there had been no fish to

“About once in five these drives are failures,” Allicot consoled us.

Well, it was the stone-fishing that had brought us to Bora Bora, and it
was our luck to draw the one chance in five.  Had it been a raffle, it
would have been the other way about.  This is not pessimism.  Nor is it
an indictment of the plan of the universe.  It is merely that feeling
which is familiar to most fishermen at the empty end of a hard day.


THERE are captains and captains, and some mighty fine captains, I know;
but the run of the captains on the _Snark_ has been remarkably otherwise.
My experience with them has been that it is harder to take care of one
captain on a small boat than of two small babies.  Of course, this is no
more than is to be expected.  The good men have positions, and are not
likely to forsake their one-thousand-to-fifteen-thousand-ton billets for
the _Snark_ with her ten tons net.  The _Snark_ has had to cull her
navigators from the beach, and the navigator on the beach is usually a
congenital inefficient—the sort of man who beats about for a fortnight
trying vainly to find an ocean isle and who returns with his schooner to
report the island sunk with all on board, the sort of man whose temper or
thirst for strong waters works him out of billets faster than he can work
into them.

The _Snark_ has had three captains, and by the grace of God she shall
have no more.  The first captain was so senile as to be unable to give a
measurement for a boom-jaw to a carpenter.  So utterly agedly helpless
was he, that he was unable to order a sailor to throw a few buckets of
salt water on the _Snark’s_ deck.  For twelve days, at anchor, under an
overhead tropic sun, the deck lay dry.  It was a new deck.  It cost me
one hundred and thirty-five dollars to recaulk it.  The second captain
was angry.  He was born angry.  “Papa is always angry,” was the
description given him by his half-breed son.  The third captain was so
crooked that he couldn’t hide behind a corkscrew.  The truth was not in
him, common honesty was not in him, and he was as far away from fair play
and square-dealing as he was from his proper course when he nearly
wrecked the _Snark_ on the Ring-gold Isles.

It was at Suva, in the Fijis, that I discharged my third and last captain
and took up gain the rôle of amateur navigator.  I had essayed it once
before, under my first captain, who, out of San Francisco, jumped the
_Snark_ so amazingly over the chart that I really had to find out what
was doing.  It was fairly easy to find out, for we had a run of
twenty-one hundred miles before us.  I knew nothing of navigation; but,
after several hours of reading up and half an hour’s practice with the
sextant, I was able to find the _Snark’s_ latitude by meridian
observation and her longitude by the simple method known as “equal
altitudes.”  This is not a correct method.  It is not even a safe method,
but my captain was attempting to navigate by it, and he was the only one
on board who should have been able to tell me that it was a method to be
eschewed.  I brought the _Snark_ to Hawaii, but the conditions favoured
me.  The sun was in northern declination and nearly overhead.  The
legitimate “chronometer-sight” method of ascertaining the longitude I had
not heard of—yes, I had heard of it.  My first captain mentioned it
vaguely, but after one or two attempts at practice of it he mentioned it
no more.

I had time in the Fijis to compare my chronometer with two other
chronometers.  Two weeks previous, at Pago Pago, in Samoa, I had asked my
captain to compare our chronometer with the chronometers on the American
cruiser, the _Annapolis_.  This he told me he had done—of course he had
done nothing of the sort; and he told me that the difference he had
ascertained was only a small fraction of a second.  He told it to me with
finely simulated joy and with words of praise for my splendid
time-keeper.  I repeat it now, with words of praise for his splendid and
unblushing unveracity.  For behold, fourteen days later, in Suva, I
compared the chronometer with the one on the Atua, an Australian steamer,
and found that mine was thirty-one seconds fast.  Now thirty-one seconds
of time, converted into arc, equals seven and one-quarter miles.  That is
to say, if I were sailing west, in the night-time, and my position,
according to my dead reckoning from my afternoon chronometer sight, was
shown to be seven miles off the land, why, at that very moment I would be
crashing on the reef.  Next I compared my chronometer with Captain
Wooley’s.  Captain Wooley, the harbourmaster, gives the time to Suva,
firing a gun signal at twelve, noon, three times a week.  According to
his chronometer mine was fifty-nine seconds fast, which is to say, that,
sailing west, I should be crashing on the reef when I thought I was
fifteen miles off from it.

I compromised by subtracting thirty-one seconds from the total of my
chronometer’s losing error, and sailed away for Tanna, in the New
Hebrides, resolved, when nosing around the land on dark nights, to bear
in mind the other seven miles I might be out according to Captain
Wooley’s instrument.  Tanna lay some six hundred miles west-southwest
from the Fijis, and it was my belief that while covering that distance I
could quite easily knock into my head sufficient navigation to get me
there.  Well, I got there, but listen first to my troubles.  Navigation
_is_ easy, I shall always contend that; but when a man is taking three
gasolene engines and a wife around the world and is writing hard every
day to keep the engines supplied with gasolene and the wife with pearls
and volcanoes, he hasn’t much time left in which to study navigation.
Also, it is bound to be easier to study said science ashore, where
latitude and longitude are unchanging, in a house whose position never
alters, than it is to study navigation on a boat that is rushing along
day and night toward land that one is trying to find and which he is
liable to find disastrously at a moment when he least expects it.

To begin with, there are the compasses and the setting of the courses.
We sailed from Suva on Saturday afternoon, June 6, 1908, and it took us
till after dark to run the narrow, reef-ridden passage between the
islands of Viti Levu and Mbengha.  The open ocean lay before me.  There
was nothing in the way with the exception of Vatu Leile, a miserable
little island that persisted in poking up through the sea some twenty
miles to the west-southwest—just where I wanted to go.  Of course, it
seemed quite simple to avoid it by steering a course that would pass it
eight or ten miles to the north.  It was a black night, and we were
running before the wind.  The man at the wheel must be told what
direction to steer in order to miss Vatu Leile.  But what direction?  I
turned me to the navigation books.  “True Course” I lighted upon.  The
very thing!  What I wanted was the true course.  I read eagerly on:

“The True Course is the angle made with the meridian by a straight line
on the chart drawn to connect the ship’s position with the place bound

Just what I wanted.  The _Snark’s_ position was at the western entrance
of the passage between Viti Levu and Mbengha.  The immediate place she
was bound to was a place on the chart ten miles north of Vatu Leile.  I
pricked that place off on the chart with my dividers, and with my
parallel rulers found that west-by-south was the true course.  I had but
to give it to the man at the wheel and the _Snark_ would win her way to
the safety of the open sea.

But alas and alack and lucky for me, I read on.  I discovered that the
compass, that trusty, everlasting friend of the mariner, was not given to
pointing north.  It varied.  Sometimes it pointed east of north,
sometimes west of north, and on occasion it even turned tail on north and
pointed south.  The variation at the particular spot on the globe
occupied by the _Snark_ was 9° 40′ easterly.  Well, that had to be taken
in to account before I gave the steering course to the man at the wheel.
I read:

“The Correct Magnetic Course is derived from the True Course by applying
to it the variation.”

Therefore, I reasoned, if the compass points 9° 40′ eastward of north,
and I wanted to sail due north, I should have to steer 9° 40′ westward of
the north indicated by the compass and which was not north at all.  So I
added 9° 40′ to the left of my west-by-south course, thus getting my
correct Magnetic Course, and was ready once more to run to open sea.

Again alas and alack!  The Correct Magnetic Course was not the Compass
Course.  There was another sly little devil lying in wait to trip me up
and land me smashing on the reefs of Vatu Leile.  This little devil went
by the name of Deviation.  I read:

“The Compass Course is the course to steer, and is derived from the
Correct Magnetic Course by applying to it the Deviation.”

Now Deviation is the variation in the needle caused by the distribution
of iron on board of ship.  This purely local variation I derived from the
deviation card of my standard compass and then applied to the Correct
Magnetic Course.  The result was the Compass Course.  And yet, not yet.
My standard compass was amidships on the companionway.  My steering
compass was aft, in the cockpit, near the wheel.  When the steering
compass pointed west-by-south three-quarters-south (the steering course),
the standard compass pointed west-one-half-north, which was certainly not
the steering course.  I kept the _Snark_ up till she was heading
west-by-south-three-quarters-south on the standard compass, which gave,
on the steering compass, south-west-by-west.

The foregoing operations constitute the simple little matter of setting a
course.  And the worst of it is that one must perform every step
correctly or else he will hear “Breakers ahead!” some pleasant night, a
nice sea-bath, and be given the delightful diversion of fighting his way
to the shore through a horde of man-eating sharks.

Just as the compass is tricky and strives to fool the mariner by pointing
in all directions except north, so does that guide post of the sky, the
sun, persist in not being where it ought to be at a given time.  This
carelessness of the sun is the cause of more trouble—at least it caused
trouble for me.  To find out where one is on the earth’s surface, he must
know, at precisely the same time, where the sun is in the heavens.  That
is to say, the sun, which is the timekeeper for men, doesn’t run on time.
When I discovered this, I fell into deep gloom and all the Cosmos was
filled with doubt.  Immutable laws, such as gravitation and the
conservation of energy, became wobbly, and I was prepared to witness
their violation at any moment and to remain unastonished.  For see, if
the compass lied and the sun did not keep its engagements, why should not
objects lose their mutual attraction and why should not a few bushel
baskets of force be annihilated?  Even perpetual motion became possible,
and I was in a frame of mind prone to purchase Keeley-Motor stock from
the first enterprising agent that landed on the _Snark’s_ deck.  And when
I discovered that the earth really rotated on its axis 366 times a year,
while there were only 365 sunrises and sunsets, I was ready to doubt my
own identity.

This is the way of the sun.  It is so irregular that it is impossible for
man to devise a clock that will keep the sun’s time.  The sun accelerates
and retards as no clock could be made to accelerate and retard.  The sun
is sometimes ahead of its schedule; at other times it is lagging behind;
and at still other times it is breaking the speed limit in order to
overtake itself, or, rather, to catch up with where it ought to be in the
sky.  In this last case it does not slow down quick enough, and, as a
result, goes dashing ahead of where it ought to be.  In fact, only four
days in a year do the sun and the place where the sun ought to be happen
to coincide.  The remaining 361 days the sun is pothering around all over
the shop.  Man, being more perfect than the sun, makes a clock that keeps
regular time.  Also, he calculates how far the sun is ahead of its
schedule or behind.  The difference between the sun’s position and the
position where the sun ought to be if it were a decent, self-respecting
sun, man calls the Equation of Time.  Thus, the navigator endeavouring to
find his ship’s position on the sea, looks in his chronometer to see
where precisely the sun ought to be according to the Greenwich custodian
of the sun.  Then to that location he applies the Equation of Time and
finds out where the sun ought to be and isn’t.  This latter location,
along with several other locations, enables him to find out what the man
from Kansas demanded to know some years ago.

The _Snark_ sailed from Fiji on Saturday, June 6, and the next day,
Sunday, on the wide ocean, out of sight of land, I proceeded to endeavour
to find out my position by a chronometer sight for longitude and by a
meridian observation for latitude.  The chronometer sight was taken in
the morning when the sun was some 21° above the horizon.  I looked in the
Nautical Almanac and found that on that very day, June 7, the sun was
behind time 1 minute and 26 seconds, and that it was catching up at a
rate of 14.67 seconds per hour.  The chronometer said that at the precise
moment of taking the sun’s altitude it was twenty-five minutes after
eight o’clock at Greenwich.  From this date it would seem a schoolboy’s
task to correct the Equation of Time.  Unfortunately, I was not a
schoolboy.  Obviously, at the middle of the day, at Greenwich, the sun
was 1 minute and 26 seconds behind time.  Equally obviously, if it were
eleven o’clock in the morning, the sun would be 1 minute and 26 seconds
behind time plus 14.67 seconds.  If it were ten o’clock in the morning,
twice 14.67 seconds would have to be added.  And if it were 8: 25 in the
morning, then 3½ times 14.67 seconds would have to be added.  Quite
clearly, then, if, instead of being 8:25 A.M., it were 8:25 P.M., then 8½
times 14.67 seconds would have to be, not added, but _subtracted_; for,
if, at noon, the sun were 1 minute and 26 seconds behind time, and if it
were catching up with where it ought to be at the rate of 14.67 seconds
per hour, then at 8.25 P.M. it would be much nearer where it ought to be
than it had been at noon.

So far, so good.  But was that 8:25 of the chronometer A.M., or P.M.?  I
looked at the _Snark’s_ clock.  It marked 8:9, and it was certainly A.M.
for I had just finished breakfast.  Therefore, if it was eight in the
morning on board the _Snark_, the eight o’clock of the chronometer (which
was the time of the day at Greenwich) must be a different eight o’clock
from the _Snark’s_ eight o’clock.  But what eight o’clock was it?  It
can’t be the eight o’clock of this morning, I reasoned; therefore, it
must be either eight o’clock this evening or eight o’clock last night.

It was at this juncture that I fell into the bottomless pit of
intellectual chaos.  We are in east longitude, I reasoned, therefore we
are ahead of Greenwich.  If we are behind Greenwich, then to-day is
yesterday; if we are ahead of Greenwich, then yesterday is to-day, but if
yesterday is to-day, what under the sun is to-day!—to-morrow?  Absurd!
Yet it must be correct.  When I took the sun this morning at 8:25, the
sun’s custodians at Greenwich were just arising from dinner last night.

“Then correct the Equation of Time for yesterday,” says my logical mind.

“But to-day is to-day,” my literal mind insists.  “I must correct the sun
for to-day and not for yesterday.”

“Yet to-day is yesterday,” urges my logical mind.

“That’s all very well,” my literal mind continues, “If I were in
Greenwich I might be in yesterday.  Strange things happen in Greenwich.
But I know as sure as I am living that I am here, now, in to-day, June 7,
and that I took the sun here, now, to-day, June 7.  Therefore, I must
correct the sun here, now, to-day, June 7.”

“Bosh!” snaps my logical mind.  “Lecky says—”

“Never mind what Lecky says,” interrupts my literal mind.  “Let me tell
you what the Nautical Almanac says.  The Nautical Almanac says that
to-day, June 7, the sun was 1 minute and 26 seconds behind time and
catching up at the rate of 14.67 seconds per hour.  It says that
yesterday, June 6, the sun was 1 minute and 36 seconds behind time and
catching up at the rate of 15.66 seconds per hour.  You see, it is
preposterous to think of correcting to-day’s sun by yesterday’s



Back and forth they wrangle until my head is whirling around and I am
ready to believe that I am in the day after the last week before next.

I remembered a parting caution of the Suva harbour-master: “_In east
longitude take from the Nautical Almanac the elements for the preceding

Then a new thought came to me.  I corrected the Equation of Time for
Sunday and for Saturday, making two separate operations of it, and lo,
when the results were compared, there was a difference only of
four-tenths of a second.  I was a changed man.  I had found my way out of
the crypt.  The _Snark_ was scarcely big enough to hold me and my
experience.  Four-tenths of a second would make a difference of only
one-tenth of a mile—a cable-length!

All went merrily for ten minutes, when I chanced upon the following rhyme
for navigators:

    “Greenwich time least
    Longitude east;
    Greenwich best,
    Longitude west.”

Heavens!  The _Snark’s_ time was not as good as Greenwich time.  When it
was 8:25 at Greenwich, on board the _Snark_ it was only 8:9.  “Greenwich
time best, longitude west.”  There I was.  In west longitude beyond a

“Silly!” cries my literal mind.  “You are 8:9 A.M. and Greenwich is 8:25

“Very well,” answers my logical mind.  “To be correct, 8.25 P.M. is
really twenty hours and twenty-five minutes, and that is certainly better
than eight hours and nine minutes.  No, there is no discussion; you are
in west longitude.”

Then my literal mind triumphs.

“We sailed from Suva, in the Fijis, didn’t we?” it demands, and logical
mind agrees.  “And Suva is in east longitude?”  Again logical mind
agrees.  “And we sailed west (which would take us deeper into east
longitude), didn’t we?  Therefore, and you can’t escape it, we are in
east longitude.”

“Greenwich time best, longitude west,” chants my logical mind; “and you
must grant that twenty hours and twenty-five minutes is better than eight
hours and nine minutes.”

“All right,” I break in upon the squabble; “we’ll work up the sight and
then we’ll see.”

And work it up I did, only to find that my longitude was 184° west.

“I told you so,” snorts my logical mind.

I am dumbfounded.  So is my literal mind, for several minutes.  Then it

“But there is no 184° west longitude, nor east longitude, nor any other
longitude.  The largest meridian is 180° as you ought to know very well.”

Having got this far, literal mind collapses from the brain strain,
logical mind is dumb flabbergasted; and as for me, I get a bleak and
wintry look in my eyes and go around wondering whether I am sailing
toward the China coast or the Gulf of Darien.

Then a thin small voice, which I do not recognize, coming from nowhere in
particular in my consciousness, says:

“The total number of degrees is 360.  Subtract the 184° west longitude
from 360°, and you will get 176° east longitude.”

“That is sheer speculation,” objects literal mind; and logical mind
remonstrates.  “There is no rule for it.”

“Darn the rules!” I exclaim.  “Ain’t I here?”

“The thing is self-evident,” I continue.  “184° west longitude means a
lapping over in east longitude of four degrees.  Besides I have been in
east longitude all the time.  I sailed from Fiji, and Fiji is in east
longitude.  Now I shall chart my position and prove it by dead

But other troubles and doubts awaited me.  Here is a sample of one.  In
south latitude, when the sun is in northern declination, chronometer
sights may be taken early in the morning.  I took mine at eight o’clock.
Now, one of the necessary elements in working up such a sight is
latitude.  But one gets latitude at twelve o’clock, noon, by a meridian
observation.  It is clear that in order to work up my eight o’clock
chronometer sight I must have my eight o’clock latitude.  Of course, if
the _Snark_ were sailing due west at six knots per hour, for the
intervening four hours her latitude would not change.  But if she were
sailing due south, her latitude would change to the tune of twenty-four
miles.  In which case a simple addition or subtraction would convert the
twelve o’clock latitude into eight o’clock latitude.  But suppose the
_Snark_ were sailing southwest.  Then the traverse tables must be

This is the illustration.  At eight A.M. I took my chronometer sight.  At
the same moment the distance recorded on the log was noted.  At twelve
M., when the sight for latitude was taken.  I again noted the log, which
showed me that since eight o’clock the _Snark_ had run 24 miles.  Her
true course had been west ¾ south.  I entered Table I, in the distance
column, on the page for ¾ point courses, and stopped at 24, the number of
miles run.  Opposite, in the next two columns, I found that the _Snark_
had made 3.5 miles of southing or latitude, and that she had made 23.7
miles of westing.  To find my eight o’clock’ latitude was easy.  I had
but to subtract 3.5 miles from my noon latitude.  All the elements being
present, I worked up my longitude.

But this was my eight o’clock longitude.  Since then, and up till noon, I
had made 23.7 miles of westing.  What was my noon longitude?  I followed
the rule, turning to Traverse Table No. II.  Entering the table,
according to rule, and going through every detail, according to rule, I
found the difference of longitude for the four hours to be 25 miles.  I
was aghast.  I entered the table again, according to rule; I entered the
table half a dozen times, according to rule, and every time found that my
difference of longitude was 25 miles.  I leave it to you, gentle reader.
Suppose you had sailed 24 miles and that you had covered 3.5 miles of
latitude, then how could you have covered 25 miles of longitude?  Even if
you had sailed due west 24 miles, and not changed your latitude, how
could you have changed your longitude 25 miles?  In the name of human
reason, how could you cover one mile more of longitude than the total
number of miles you had sailed?

It was a reputable traverse table, being none other than Bowditch’s.  The
rule was simple (as navigators’ rules go); I had made no error.  I spent
an hour over it, and at the end still faced the glaring impossibility of
having sailed 24 miles, in the course of which I changed my latitude 3.5
miles and my longitude 25 miles.  The worst of it was that there was
nobody to help me out.  Neither Charmian nor Martin knew as much as I
knew about navigation.  And all the time the _Snark_ was rushing madly
along toward Tanna, in the New Hebrides.  Something had to be done.

How it came to me I know not—call it an inspiration if you will; but the
thought arose in me: if southing is latitude, why isn’t westing
longitude?  Why should I have to change westing into longitude?  And then
the whole beautiful situation dawned upon me.  The meridians of longitude
are 60 miles (nautical) apart at the equator.  At the poles they run
together.  Thus, if I should travel up the 180° meridian of longitude
until I reached the North Pole, and if the astronomer at Greenwich
travelled up the 0 meridian of longitude to the North Pole, then, at the
North Pole, we could shake hands with each other, though before we
started for the North Pole we had been some thousands of miles apart.
Again: if a degree of longitude was 60 miles wide at the equator, and if
the same degree, at the point of the Pole, had no width, then somewhere
between the Pole and the equator that degree would be half a mile wide,
and at other places a mile wide, two miles wide, ten miles wide, thirty
miles wide, ay, and sixty miles wide.

All was plain again.  The _Snark_ was in 19° south latitude.  The world
wasn’t as big around there as at the equator.  Therefore, every mile of
westing at 19° south was more than a minute of longitude; for sixty miles
were sixty miles, but sixty minutes are sixty miles only at the equator.
George Francis Train broke Jules Verne’s record of around the world.  But
any man that wants can break George Francis Train’s record.  Such a man
would need only to go, in a fast steamer, to the latitude of Cape Horn,
and sail due east all the way around.  The world is very small in that
latitude, and there is no land in the way to turn him out of his course.
If his steamer maintained sixteen knots, he would circumnavigate the
globe in just about forty days.

But there are compensations.  On Wednesday evening, June 10, I brought up
my noon position by dead reckoning to eight P.M.  Then I projected the
_Snark’s_ course and saw that she would strike Futuna, one of the
easternmost of the New Hebrides, a volcanic cone two thousand feet high
that rose out of the deep ocean.  I altered the course so that the
_Snark_ would pass ten miles to the northward.  Then I spoke to Wada, the
cook, who had the wheel every morning from four to six.

“Wada San, to-morrow morning, your watch, you look sharp on weather-bow
you see land.”

And then I went to bed.  The die was cast.  I had staked my reputation as
a navigator.  Suppose, just suppose, that at daybreak there was no land.
Then, where would my navigation be?  And where would we be?  And how
would we ever find ourselves? or find any land?  I caught ghastly visions
of the _Snark_ sailing for months through ocean solitudes and seeking
vainly for land while we consumed our provisions and sat down with
haggard faces to stare cannibalism in the face.

I confess my sleep was not

    “ . . . like a summer sky
    That held the music of a lark.”

Rather did “I waken to the voiceless dark,” and listen to the creaking of
the bulkheads and the rippling of the sea alongside as the _Snark_ logged
steadily her six knots an hour.  I went over my calculations again and
again, striving to find some mistake, until my brain was in such fever
that it discovered dozens of mistakes.  Suppose, instead of being sixty
miles off Futuna, that my navigation was all wrong and that I was only
six miles off?  In which case my course would be wrong, too, and for all
I knew the _Snark_ might be running straight at Futuna.  For all I knew
the _Snark_ might strike Futuna the next moment.  I almost sprang from
the bunk at that thought; and, though I restrained myself, I know that I
lay for a moment, nervous and tense, waiting for the shock.

My sleep was broken by miserable nightmares.  Earthquake seemed the
favourite affliction, though there was one man, with a bill, who
persisted in dunning me throughout the night.  Also, he wanted to fight;
and Charmian continually persuaded me to let him alone.  Finally,
however, the man with the everlasting dun ventured into a dream from
which Charmian was absent.  It was my opportunity, and we went at it,
gloriously, all over the sidewalk and street, until he cried enough.
Then I said, “Now how about that bill?”  Having conquered, I was willing
to pay.  But the man looked at me and groaned.  “It was all a mistake,”
he said; “the bill is for the house next door.”

That settled him, for he worried my dreams no more; and it settled me,
too, for I woke up chuckling at the episode.  It was three in the
morning.  I went up on deck.  Henry, the Rapa islander, was steering.  I
looked at the log.  It recorded forty-two miles.  The _Snark_ had not
abated her six-knot gait, and she had not struck Futuna yet.  At
half-past five I was again on deck.  Wada, at the wheel, had seen no
land.  I sat on the cockpit rail, a prey to morbid doubt for a quarter of
an hour.  Then I saw land, a small, high piece of land, just where it
ought to be, rising from the water on the weather-bow.  At six o’clock I
could clearly make it out to be the beautiful volcanic cone of Futuna.
At eight o’clock, when it was abreast, I took its distance by the sextant
and found it to be 9.3 miles away.  And I had elected to pass it 10 miles

Then, to the south, Aneiteum rose out of the sea, to the north, Aniwa,
and, dead ahead, Tanna.  There was no mistaking Tanna, for the smoke of
its volcano was towering high in the sky.  It was forty miles away, and
by afternoon, as we drew close, never ceasing to log our six knots, we
saw that it was a mountainous, hazy land, with no apparent openings in
its coast-line.  I was looking for Port Resolution, though I was quite
prepared to find that as an anchorage, it had been destroyed.  Volcanic
earthquakes had lifted its bottom during the last forty years, so that
where once the largest ships rode at anchor there was now, by last
reports, scarcely space and depth sufficient for the _Snark_.  And why
should not another convulsion, since the last report, have closed the
harbour completely?

I ran in close to the unbroken coast, fringed with rocks awash upon which
the crashing trade-wind sea burst white and high.  I searched with my
glasses for miles, but could see no entrance.  I took a compass bearing
of Futuna, another of Aniwa, and laid them off on the chart.  Where the
two bearings crossed was bound to be the position of the _Snark_.  Then,
with my parallel rulers, I laid down a course from the _Snark’s_ position
to Port Resolution.  Having corrected this course for variation and
deviation, I went on deck, and lo, the course directed me towards that
unbroken coast-line of bursting seas.  To my Rapa islander’s great
concern, I held on till the rocks awash were an eighth of a mile away.

“No harbour this place,” he announced, shaking his head ominously.

But I altered the course and ran along parallel with the coast.  Charmian
was at the wheel.  Martin was at the engine, ready to throw on the
propeller.  A narrow silt of an opening showed up suddenly.  Through the
glasses I could see the seas breaking clear across.  Henry, the Rapa man,
looked with troubled eyes; so did Tehei, the Tahaa man.

“No passage, there,” said Henry.  “We go there, we finish quick, sure.”

I confess I thought so, too; but I ran on abreast, watching to see if the
line of breakers from one side the entrance did not overlap the line from
the other side.  Sure enough, it did.  A narrow place where the sea ran
smooth appeared.   Charmian put down the wheel and steadied for the
entrance.  Martin threw on the engine, while all hands and the cook
sprang to take in sail.

A trader’s house showed up in the bight of the bay.  A geyser, on the
shore, a hundred yards away; spouted a column of steam.  To port, as we
rounded a tiny point, the mission station appeared.

“Three fathoms,” cried Wada at the lead-line.  “Three fathoms,” “two
fathoms,” came in quick succession.

Charmian put the wheel down, Martin stopped the engine, and the _Snark_
rounded to and the anchor rumbled down in three fathoms.  Before we could
catch our breaths a swarm of black Tannese was alongside and
aboard—grinning, apelike creatures, with kinky hair and troubled eyes,
wearing safety-pins and clay-pipes in their slitted ears: and as for the
rest, wearing nothing behind and less than that before.  And I don’t mind
telling that that night, when everybody was asleep, I sneaked up on deck,
looked out over the quiet scene, and gloated—yes, gloated—over my


“WHY not come along now?” said Captain Jansen to us, at Penduffryn, on
the island of Guadalcanar.

Charmian and I looked at each other and debated silently for half a
minute.  Then we nodded our heads simultaneously.  It is a way we have of
making up our minds to do things; and a very good way it is when one has
no temperamental tears to shed over the last tin-of condensed milk when
it has capsized.  (We are living on tinned goods these days, and since
mind is rumoured to be an emanation of matter, our similes are naturally
of the packing-house variety.)

“You’d better bring your revolvers along, and a couple of rifles,” said
Captain Jansen.  “I’ve got five rifles aboard, though the one Mauser is
without ammunition.  Have you a few rounds to spare?”

We brought our rifles on board, several handfuls of Mauser cartridges,
and Wada and Nakata, the _Snark’s_ cook and cabin-boy respectively.  Wada
and Nakata were in a bit of a funk.  To say the least, they were not
enthusiastic, though never did Nakata show the white feather in the face
of danger.  The Solomon Islands had not dealt kindly with them.  In the
first place, both had suffered from Solomon sores.  So had the rest of us
(at the time, I was nursing two fresh ones on a diet of corrosive
sublimate); but the two Japanese had had more than their share.  And the
sores are not nice.  They may be described as excessively active ulcers.
A mosquito bite, a cut, or the slightest abrasion, serves for lodgment of
the poison with which the air seems to be filled.  Immediately the ulcer
commences to eat.  It eats in every direction, consuming skin and muscle
with astounding rapidity.  The pin-point ulcer of the first day is the
size of a dime by the second day, and by the end of the week a silver
dollar will not cover it.

Worse than the sores, the two Japanese had been afflicted with Solomon
Island fever.  Each had been down repeatedly with it, and in their weak,
convalescent moments they were wont to huddle together on the portion of
the _Snark_ that happened to be nearest to faraway Japan, and to gaze
yearningly in that direction.

But worst of all, they were now brought on board the _Minota_ for a
recruiting cruise along the savage coast of Malaita.  Wada, who had the
worse funk, was sure that he would never see Japan again, and with bleak,
lack-lustre eyes he watched our rifles and ammunition going on board the
_Minota_.  He knew about the _Minota_ and her Malaita cruises.  He knew
that she had been captured six months before on the Malaita coast, that
her captain had been chopped to pieces with tomahawks, and that,
according to the barbarian sense of equity on that sweet isle, she owed
two more heads.  Also, a labourer on Penduffryn Plantation, a Malaita
boy, had just died of dysentery, and Wada knew that Penduffryn had been
put in the debt of Malaita by one more head.  Furthermore, in stowing our
luggage away in the skipper’s tiny cabin, he saw the axe gashes on the
door where the triumphant bushmen had cut their way in.  And, finally,
the galley stove was without a pipe—said pipe having been part of the

The _Minota_ was a teak-built, Australian yacht, ketch-rigged, long and
lean, with a deep fin-keel, and designed for harbour racing rather than
for recruiting blacks.  When Charmian and I came on board, we found her
crowded.  Her double boat’s crew, including substitutes, was fifteen, and
she had a score and more of “return” boys, whose time on the plantations
was served and who were bound back to their bush villages.  To look at,
they were certainly true head-hunting cannibals.  Their perforated
nostrils were thrust through with bone and wooden bodkins the size of
lead-pencils.  Numbers of them had punctured the extreme meaty point of
the nose, from which protruded, straight out, spikes of turtle-shell or
of beads strung on stiff wire.  A few had further punctured their noses
with rows of holes following the curves of the nostrils from lip to
point.  Each ear of every man had from two to a dozen holes in it—holes
large enough to carry wooden plugs three inches in diameter down to tiny
holes in which were carried clay-pipes and similar trifles.  In fact, so
many holes did they possess that they lacked ornaments to fill them; and
when, the following day, as we neared Malaita, we tried out our rifles to
see that they were in working order, there was a general scramble for the
empty cartridges, which were thrust forthwith into the many aching voids
in our passengers’ ears.

At the time we tried out our rifles we put up our barbed wire railings.
The _Minota_, crown-decked, without any house, and with a rail six inches
high, was too accessible to boarders.  So brass stanchions were screwed
into the rail and a double row of barbed wire stretched around her from
stem to stern and back again.  Which was all very well as a protection
from savages, but it was mighty uncomfortable to those on board when the
_Minota_ took to jumping and plunging in a sea-way.  When one dislikes
sliding down upon the lee-rail barbed wire, and when he dares not catch
hold of the weather-rail barbed wire to save himself from sliding, and
when, with these various disinclinations, he finds himself on a smooth
flush-deck that is heeled over at an angle of forty-five degrees, some of
the delights of Solomon Islands cruising may be comprehended.  Also, it
must be remembered, the penalty of a fall into the barbed wire is more
than the mere scratches, for each scratch is practically certain to
become a venomous ulcer.  That caution will not save one from the wire
was evidenced one fine morning when we were running along the Malaita
coast with the breeze on our quarter.  The wind was fresh, and a tidy sea
was making.  A black boy was at the wheel.  Captain Jansen, Mr. Jacobsen
(the mate), Charmian, and I had just sat down on deck to breakfast.
Three unusually large seas caught us.  The boy at the wheel lost his
head.  Three times the _Minota_ was swept.  The breakfast was rushed over
the lee-rail.  The knives and forks went through the scuppers; a boy aft
went clean overboard and was dragged back; and our doughty skipper lay
half inboard and half out, jammed in the barbed wire.  After that, for
the rest of the cruise, our joint use of the several remaining eating
utensils was a splendid example of primitive communism.  On the
_Eugenie_, however, it was even worse, for we had but one teaspoon among
four of us—but the _Eugenie_ is another story.

Our first port was Su’u on the west coast of Malaita.  The Solomon
Islands are on the fringe of things.  It is difficult enough sailing on
dark nights through reef-spiked channels and across erratic currents
where there are no lights to guide (from northwest to southeast the
Solomons extend across a thousand miles of sea, and on all the thousands
of miles of coasts there is not one lighthouse); but the difficulty is
seriously enhanced by the fact that the land itself is not correctly
charted.  Su’u is an example.  On the Admiralty chart of Malaita the
coast at this point runs a straight, unbroken line.  Yet across this
straight, unbroken line the _Minota_ sailed in twenty fathoms of water.
Where the land was alleged to be, was a deep indentation.  Into this we
sailed, the mangroves closing about us, till we dropped anchor in a
mirrored pond.  Captain Jansen did not like the anchorage.  It was the
first time he had been there, and Su’u had a bad reputation.  There was
no wind with which to get away in case of attack, while the crew could be
bushwhacked to a man if they attempted to tow out in the whale-boat.  It
was a pretty trap, if trouble blew up.

“Suppose the _Minota_ went ashore—what would you do?” I asked.

“She’s not going ashore,” was Captain Jansen’s answer.

“But just in case she did?” I insisted.  He considered for a moment and
shifted his glance from the mate buckling on a revolver to the boat’s
crew climbing into the whale-boat each man with a rifle.

“We’d get into the whale-boat, and get out of here as fast as God’d let
us,” came the skipper’s delayed reply.

He explained at length that no white man was sure of his _Malaita_ crew
in a tight place; that the bushmen looked upon all wrecks as their
personal property; that the bushmen possessed plenty of Snider rifles;
and that he had on board a dozen “return” boys for Su’u who were certain
to join in with their friends and relatives ashore when it came to
looting the _Minota_.

The first work of the whale-boat was to take the “return” boys and their
trade-boxes ashore.  Thus one danger was removed.  While this was being
done, a canoe came alongside manned by three naked savages.  And when I
say naked, I mean naked.  Not one vestige of clothing did they have on,
unless nose-rings, ear-plugs, and shell armlets be accounted clothing.
The head man in the canoe was an old chief, one-eyed, reputed to be
friendly, and so dirty that a boat-scraper would have lost its edge on
him.  His mission was to warn the skipper against allowing any of his
people to go ashore.  The old fellow repeated the warning again that

In vain did the whale-boat ply about the shores of the bay in quest of
recruits.  The bush was full of armed natives; all willing enough to talk
with the recruiter, but not one would engage to sign on for three years’
plantation labour at six pounds per year.  Yet they were anxious enough
to get our people ashore.  On the second day they raised a smoke on the
beach at the head of the bay.  This being the customary signal of men
desiring to recruit, the boat was sent.  But nothing resulted.  No one
recruited, nor were any of our men lured ashore.  A little later we
caught glimpses of a number of armed natives moving about on the beach.

Outside of these rare glimpses, there was no telling how many might be
lurking in the bush.  There was no penetrating that primeval jungle with
the eye.  In the afternoon, Captain Jansen, Charmian, and I went
dynamiting fish.  Each one of the boat’s crew carried a Lee-Enfield.
“Johnny,” the native recruiter, had a Winchester beside him at the
steering sweep.  We rowed in close to a portion of the shore that looked
deserted.  Here the boat was turned around and backed in; in case of
attack, the boat would be ready to dash away.  In all the time I was on
Malaita I never saw a boat land bow on.  In fact, the recruiting vessels
use two boats—one to go in on the beach, armed, of course, and the other
to lie off several hundred feet and “cover” the first boat.  The
_Minota_, however, being a small vessel, did not carry a covering boat.

We were close in to the shore and working in closer, stern-first, when a
school of fish was sighted.  The fuse was ignited and the stick of
dynamite thrown.  With the explosion, the surface of the water was broken
by the flash of leaping fish.  At the same instant the woods broke into
life.  A score of naked savages, armed with bows and arrows, spears, and
Sniders, burst out upon the shore.  At the same moment our boat’s crew,
lifted their rifles.  And thus the opposing parties faced each other,
while our extra boys dived over after the stunned fish.

Three fruitless days were spent at Su’u.  The _Minota_ got no recruits
from the bush, and the bushmen got no heads from the _Minota_.  In fact,
the only one who got anything was Wade, and his was a nice dose of fever.
We towed out with the whale-boat, and ran along the coast to Langa Langa,
a large village of salt-water people, built with prodigious labour on a
lagoon sand-bank—literally _built_ up, an artificial island reared as a
refuge from the blood-thirsty bushmen.  Here, also, on the shore side of
the lagoon, was Binu, the place where the _Minota_ was captured half a
year previously and her captain killed by the bushmen.  As we sailed in
through the narrow entrance, a canoe came alongside with the news that
the man-of-war had just left that morning after having burned three
villages, killed some thirty pigs, and drowned a baby.  This was the
Cambrian, Captain Lewes commanding.  He and I had first met in Korea
during the Japanese-Russian War, and we had been crossing each ether’s
trail ever since without ever a meeting.  The day the _Snark_ sailed into
Suva, in the Fijis, we made out the _Cambrian_ going out.  At Vila, in
the New Hebrides, we missed each other by one day.  We passed each other
in the night-time off the island of Santo.  And the day the _Cambrian_
arrived at Tulagi, we sailed from Penduffryn, a dozen miles away.  And
here at Langa Langa we had missed by several hours.

The _Cambrian_ had come to punish the murderers of the _Minota’s_
captain, but what she had succeeded in doing we did not learn until later
in the day, when a Mr. Abbot, a missionary, came alongside in his
whale-boat.  The villages had been burned and the pigs killed.  But the
natives had escaped personal harm.  The murderers had not been captured,
though the _Minota’s_ flag and other of her gear had been recovered.  The
drowning of the baby had come about through a misunderstanding.  Chief
Johnny, of Binu, had declined to guide the landing party into the bush,
nor could any of his men be induced to perform that office.  Whereupon
Captain Lewes, righteously indignant, had told Chief Johnny that he
deserved to have his village burned.  Johnny’s _bêche de mer_ English did
not include the word “deserve.”  So his understanding of it was that his
village was to be burned anyway.  The immediate stampede of the
inhabitants was so hurried that the baby was dropped into the water.  In
the meantime Chief Johnny hastened to Mr. Abbot.  Into his hand he put
fourteen sovereigns and requested him to go on board the _Cambrian_ and
buy Captain Lewes off.  Johnny’s village was not burned.  Nor did Captain
Lewes get the fourteen sovereigns, for I saw them later in Johnny’s
possession when he boarded the _Minota_.  The excuse Johnny gave me for
not guiding the landing party was a big boil which he proudly revealed.
His real reason, however, and a perfectly valid one, though he did not
state it, was fear of revenge on the part of the bushmen.  Had he, or any
of his men, guided the marines, he could have looked for bloody reprisals
as soon as the _Cambrian_ weighed anchor.

As an illustration of conditions in the Solomons, Johnny’s business on
board was to turn over, for a tobacco consideration, the sprit, mainsail,
and jib of a whale-boat.  Later in the day, a Chief Billy came on board
and turned over, for a tobacco consideration, the mast and boom.  This
gear belonged to a whale-boat which Captain Jansen had recovered the
previous trip of the _Minota_.  The whale-boat belonged to Meringe
Plantation on the island of Ysabel.  Eleven contract labourers, Malaita
men and bushmen at that, had decided to run away.  Being bushmen, they
knew nothing of salt water nor of the way of a boat in the sea.  So they
persuaded two natives of San Cristoval, salt-water men, to run away with
them.  It served the San Cristoval men right.  They should have known
better.  When they had safely navigated the stolen boat to Malaita, they
had their heads hacked off for their pains.  It was this boat and gear
that Captain Jansen had recovered.

Not for nothing have I journeyed all the way to the Solomons.  At last I
have seen Charmian’s proud spirit humbled and her imperious queendom of
femininity dragged in the dust.  It happened at Langa Langa, ashore, on
the manufactured island which one cannot see for the houses.  Here,
surrounded by hundreds of unblushing naked men, women, and children, we
wandered about and saw the sights.  We had our revolvers strapped on, and
the boat’s crew, fully armed, lay at the oars, stern in; but the lesson
of the man-of-war was too recent for us to apprehend trouble.  We walked
about everywhere and saw everything until at last we approached a large
tree trunk that served as a bridge across a shallow estuary.  The blacks
formed a wall in front of us and refused to let us pass.  We wanted to
know why we were stopped.  The blacks said we could go on.  We
misunderstood, and started.  Explanations became more definite.  Captain
Jansen and I, being men, could go on.  But no Mary was allowed to wade
around that bridge, much less cross it.  “Mary” is bêche de mer for
woman.  Charmian was a Mary.  To her the bridge was tambo, which is the
native for taboo.  Ah, how my chest expanded!  At last my manhood was
vindicated.  In truth I belonged to the lordly sex.  Charmian could
trapse along at our heels, but we were MEN, and we could go right over
that bridge while she would have to go around by whale-boat.

Now I should not care to be misunderstood by what follows; but it is a
matter of common knowledge in the Solomons that attacks of fever are
often brought on by shock.  Inside half an hour after Charmian had been
refused the right of way, she was being rushed aboard the _Minota_,
packed in blankets, and dosed with quinine.  I don’t know what kind of
shock had happened to Wada and Nakata, but at any rate they were down
with fever as well.  The Solomons might be healthfuller.

Also, during the attack of fever, Charmian developed a Solomon sore.  It
was the last straw.  Every one on the _Snark_ had been afflicted except
her.  I had thought that I was going to lose my foot at the ankle by one
exceptionally malignant boring ulcer.  Henry and Tehei, the Tahitian
sailors, had had numbers of them.  Wada had been able to count his by the
score.  Nakata had had single ones three inches in length.  Martin had
been quite certain that necrosis of his shinbone had set in from the
roots of the amazing colony he elected to cultivate in that locality.
But Charmian had escaped.  Out of her long immunity had been bred
contempt for the rest of us.  Her ego was flattered to such an extent
that one day she shyly informed me that it was all a matter of pureness
of blood.  Since all the rest of us cultivated the sores, and since she
did not—well, anyway, hers was the size of a silver dollar, and the
pureness of her blood enabled her to cure it after several weeks of
strenuous nursing.  She pins her faith to corrosive sublimate.  Martin
swears by iodoform.  Henry uses lime-juice undiluted.  And I believe that
when corrosive sublimate is slow in taking hold, alternate dressings of
peroxide of hydrogen are just the thing.  There are white men in the
Solomons who stake all upon boracic acid, and others who are prejudiced
in favour of lysol.  I also have the weakness of a panacea.  It is
California.  I defy any man to get a Solomon Island sore in California.

We ran down the lagoon from Langa Langa, between mangrove swamps, through
passages scarcely wider than the _Minota_, and past the reef villages of
Kaloka and Auki.  Like the founders of Venice, these salt-water men were
originally refugees from the mainland.  Too weak to hold their own in the
bush, survivors of village massacres, they fled to the sand-banks of the
lagoon.  These sand-banks they built up into islands.  They were
compelled to seek their provender from the sea, and in time they became
salt-water men.  They learned the ways of the fish and the shellfish, and
they invented hooks and lines, nets and fish-traps.  They developed
canoe-bodies.  Unable to walk about, spending all their time in the
canoes, they became thick-armed and broad-shouldered, with narrow waists
and frail spindly legs.  Controlling the sea-coast, they became wealthy,
trade with the interior passing largely through their hands.  But
perpetual enmity exists between them and the bushmen.  Practically their
only truces are on market-days, which occur at stated intervals, usually
twice a week.  The bushwomen and the salt-water women do the bartering.
Back in the bush, a hundred yards away, fully armed, lurk the bushmen,
while to seaward, in the canoes, are the salt-water men.  There are very
rare instances of the market-day truces being broken.  The bushmen like
their fish too well, while the salt-water men have an organic craving for
the vegetables they cannot grow on their crowded islets.

Thirty miles from Langa Langa brought us to the passage between
Bassakanna Island and the mainland.  Here, at nightfall, the wind left
us, and all night, with the whale-boat towing ahead and the crew on board
sweating at the sweeps, we strove to win through.  But the tide was
against us.  At midnight, midway in the passage, we came up with the
_Eugenie_, a big recruiting schooner, towing with two whale-boats.  Her
skipper, Captain Keller, a sturdy young German of twenty-two, came on
board for a “gam,” and the latest news of Malaita was swapped back and
forth.  He had been in luck, having gathered in twenty recruits at the
village of Fiu.  While lying there, one of the customary courageous
killings had taken place.  The murdered boy was what is called a
salt-water bushman—that is, a salt-water man who is half bushman and who
lives by the sea but does not live on an islet.  Three bushmen came down
to this man where he was working in his garden.  They behaved in friendly
fashion, and after a time suggested _kai-kai_.  _Kai-kai_ means food.  He
built a fire and started to boil some taro.  While bending over the pot,
one of the bushmen shot him through the head.  He fell into the flames,
whereupon they thrust a spear through his stomach, turned it around, and
broke it off.

“My word,” said Captain Keller, “I don’t want ever to be shot with a
Snider.  Spread!  You could drive a horse and carriage through that hole
in his head.”

Another recent courageous killing I heard of on Malaita was that of an
old man.  A bush chief had died a natural death.  Now the bushmen don’t
believe in natural deaths.  No one was ever known to die a natural death.
The only way to die is by bullet, tomahawk, or spear thrust.  When a man
dies in any other way, it is a clear case of having been charmed to
death.  When the bush chief died naturally, his tribe placed the guilt on
a certain family.  Since it did not matter which one of the family was
killed, they selected this old man who lived by himself.  This would make
it easy.  Furthermore, he possessed no Snider.  Also, he was blind.  The
old fellow got an inkling of what was coming and laid in a large supply
of arrows.  Three brave warriors, each with a Snider, came down upon him
in the night time.  All night they fought valiantly with him.  Whenever
they moved in the bush and made a noise or a rustle, he discharged an
arrow in that direction.  In the morning, when his last arrow was gone,
the three heroes crept up to him and blew his brains out.

Morning found us still vainly toiling through the passage.  At last, in
despair, we turned tail, ran out to sea, and sailed clear round
Bassakanna to our objective, Malu.  The anchorage at Malu was very good,
but it lay between the shore and an ugly reef, and while easy to enter,
it was difficult to leave.  The direction of the southeast trade
necessitated a beat to windward; the point of the reef was widespread and
shallow; while a current bore down at all times upon the point.

Mr. Caulfeild, the missionary at Malu, arrived in his whale-boat from a
trip down the coast.  A slender, delicate man he was, enthusiastic in his
work, level-headed and practical, a true twentieth-century soldier of the
Lord.  When he came down to this station on Malaita, as he said, he
agreed to come for six months.  He further agreed that if he were alive
at the end of that time, he would continue on.  Six years had passed and
he was still continuing on.  Nevertheless he was justified in his doubt
as to living longer than six months.  Three missionaries had preceded him
on Malaita, and in less than that time two had died of fever and the
third had gone home a wreck.

“What murder are you talking about?” he asked suddenly, in the midst of a
confused conversation with Captain Jansen.

Captain Jansen explained.

“Oh, that’s not the one I have reference to,” quoth Mr. Caulfeild.
“That’s old already.  It happened two weeks ago.”

It was here at Malu that I atoned for all the exulting and gloating I had
been guilty of over the Solomon sore Charmian had collected at Langa
Langa.  Mr. Caulfeild was indirectly responsible for my atonement.  He
presented us with a chicken, which I pursued into the bush with a rifle.
My intention was to clip off its head.  I succeeded, but in doing so fell
over a log and barked my shin.  Result: three Solomon sores.  This made
five all together that were adorning my person.  Also, Captain Jansen and
Nakata had caught _gari-gari_.  Literally translated, _gari-gari_ is
scratch-scratch.  But translation was not necessary for the rest of us.
The skipper’s and Nakata’s gymnastics served as a translation without

(No, the Solomon Islands are not as healthy as they might be.  I am
writing this article on the island of Ysabel, where we have taken the
_Snark_ to careen and clean her cooper.  I got over my last attack of
fever this morning, and I have had only one free day between attacks.
Charmian’s are two weeks apart.  Wada is a wreck from fever.  Last night
he showed all the symptoms of coming down with pneumonia.  Henry, a
strapping giant of a Tahitian, just up from his last dose of fever, is
dragging around the deck like a last year’s crab-apple.  Both he and
Tehei have accumulated a praiseworthy display of Solomon sores.  Also,
they have caught a new form of gari-gari, a sort of vegetable poisoning
like poison oak or poison ivy.  But they are not unique in this.  A
number of days ago Charmian, Martin, and I went pigeon-shooting on a
small island, and we have had a foretaste of eternal torment ever since.
Also, on that small island, Martin cut the soles of his feet to ribbons
on the coral whilst chasing a shark—at least, so he says, but from the
glimpse I caught of him I thought it was the other way about.  The
coral-cuts have all become Solomon sores.  Before my last fever I knocked
the skin off my knuckles while heaving on a line, and I now have three
fresh sores.  And poor Nakata!  For three weeks he has been unable to sit
down.  He sat down yesterday for the first time, and managed to stay down
for fifteen minutes.  He says cheerfully that he expects to be cured of
his gari-gari in another month.  Furthermore, his gari-gari, from too
enthusiastic scratch-scratching, has furnished footholds for countless
Solomon sores.  Still furthermore, he has just come down with his seventh
attack of fever.  If I were king, the worst punishment I could inflict on
my enemies would be to banish them to the Solomons.  On second thought,
king or no king, I don’t think I’d have the heart to do it.)

Recruiting plantation labourers on a small, narrow yacht, built for
harbour sailing, is not any too nice.  The decks swarm with recruits and
their families.  The main cabin is packed with them.  At night they sleep
there.  The only entrance to our tiny cabin is through the main cabin,
and we jam our way through them or walk over them.  Nor is this nice.
One and all, they are afflicted with every form of malignant skin
disease.  Some have ringworm, others have _bukua_.  This latter is caused
by a vegetable parasite that invades the skin and eats it away.  The
itching is intolerable.  The afflicted ones scratch until the air is
filled with fine dry flakes.  Then there are yaws and many other skin
ulcerations.  Men come aboard with Solomon sores in their feet so large
that they can walk only on their toes, or with holes in their legs so
terrible that a fist could be thrust in to the bone.  Blood-poisoning is
very frequent, and Captain Jansen, with sheath-knife and sail needle,
operates lavishly on one and all.  No matter how desperate the situation,
after opening and cleansing, he claps on a poultice of sea-biscuit soaked
in water.  Whenever we see a particularly horrible case, we retire to a
corner and deluge our own sores with corrosive sublimate.  And so we live
and eat and sleep on the _Minota_, taking our chance and “pretending it
is good.”

At Suava, another artificial island, I had a second crow over Charmian.
A big fella marster belong Suava (which means the high chief of Suava)
came on board.  But first he sent an emissary to Captain Jansen for a
fathom of calico with which to cover his royal nakedness.  Meanwhile he
lingered in the canoe alongside.  The regal dirt on his chest I swear was
half an inch thick, while it was a good wager that the underneath layers
were anywhere from ten to twenty years of age.  He sent his emissary on
board again, who explained that the big fella marster belong Suava was
condescendingly willing enough to shake hands with Captain Jansen and me
and cadge a stick or so of trade tobacco, but that nevertheless his
high-born soul was still at so lofty an altitude that it could not sink
itself to such a depth of degradation as to shake hands with a mere
female woman.  Poor Charmian!  Since her Malaita experiences she has
become a changed woman.  Her meekness and humbleness are appallingly
becoming, and I should not be surprised, when we return to civilization
and stroll along a sidewalk, to see her take her station, with bowed
head, a yard in the rear.

Nothing much happened at Suava.  Bichu, the native cook, deserted.  The
_Minota_ dragged anchor.  It blew heavy squalls of wind and rain.  The
mate, Mr. Jacobsen, and Wada were prostrated with fever.  Our Solomon
sores increased and multiplied.  And the cockroaches on board held a
combined Fourth of July and Coronation Parade.  They selected midnight
for the time, and our tiny cabin for the place.  They were from two to
three inches long; there were hundreds of them, and they walked all over
us.  When we attempted to pursue them, they left solid footing, rose up
in the air, and fluttered about like humming-birds.  They were much
larger than ours on the _Snark_.  But ours are young yet, and haven’t had
a chance to grow.  Also, the _Snark_ has centipedes, big ones, six inches
long.  We kill them occasionally, usually in Charmian’s bunk.  I’ve been
bitten twice by them, both times foully, while I was asleep.  But poor
Martin had worse luck.  After being sick in bed for three weeks, the
first day he sat up he sat down on one.  Sometimes I think they are the
wisest who never go to Carcassonne.

Later on we returned to Malu, picked up seven recruits, hove up anchor,
and started to beat out the treacherous entrance.  The wind was chopping
about, the current upon the ugly point of reef setting strong.  Just as
we were on the verge of clearing it and gaining open sea, the wind broke
off four points.  The _Minota_ attempted to go about, but missed stays.
Two of her anchors had been lost at Tulagi.  Her one remaining anchor was
let go.  Chain was let out to give it a hold on the coral.  Her fin keel
struck bottom, and her main topmast lurched and shivered as if about to
come down upon our heads.  She fetched up on the slack of the anchors at
the moment a big comber smashed her shoreward.  The chain parted.  It was
our only anchor.  The _Minota_ swung around on her heel and drove
headlong into the breakers.

Bedlam reigned.  All the recruits below, bushmen and afraid of the sea,
dashed panic-stricken on deck and got in everybody’s way.  At the same
time the boat’s crew made a rush for the rifles.  They knew what going
ashore on Malaita meant—one hand for the ship and the other hand to fight
off the natives.  What they held on with I don’t know, and they needed to
hold on as the _Minota_ lifted, rolled, and pounded on the coral.  The
bushmen clung in the rigging, too witless to watch out for the topmast.
The whale-boat was run out with a tow-line endeavouring in a puny way to
prevent the _Minota_ from being flung farther in toward the reef, while
Captain Jansen and the mate, the latter pallid and weak with fever, were
resurrecting a scrap-anchor from out the ballast and rigging up a stock
for it.  Mr. Caulfeild, with his mission boys, arrived in his whale-boat
to help.

When the _Minota_ first struck, there was not a canoe in sight; but like
vultures circling down out of the blue, canoes began to arrive from every
quarter.  The boat’s crew, with rifles at the ready, kept them lined up a
hundred feet away with a promise of death if they ventured nearer.  And
there they clung, a hundred feet away, black and ominous, crowded with
men, holding their canoes with their paddles on the perilous edge of the
breaking surf.  In the meantime the bushmen were flocking down from the
hills armed with spears, Sniders, arrows, and clubs, until the beach was
massed with them.  To complicate matters, at least ten of our recruits
had been enlisted from the very bushmen ashore who were waiting hungrily
for the loot of the tobacco and trade goods and all that we had on board.

The _Minota_ was honestly built, which is the first essential for any
boat that is pounding on a reef.  Some idea of what she endured may be
gained from the fact that in the first twenty-four hours she parted two
anchor-chains and eight hawsers.  Our boat’s crew was kept busy diving
for the anchors and bending new lines.  There were times when she parted
the chains reinforced with hawsers.  And yet she held together.  Tree
trunks were brought from ashore and worked under her to save her keel and
bilges, but the trunks were gnawed and splintered and the ropes that held
them frayed to fragments, and still she pounded and held together.  But
we were luckier than the _Ivanhoe_, a big recruiting schooner, which had
gone ashore on Malaita several months previously and been promptly rushed
by the natives.  The captain and crew succeeded in getting away in the
whale-boats, and the bushmen and salt-water men looted her clean of
everything portable.

Squall after squall, driving wind and blinding rain, smote the _Minota_,
while a heavier sea was making.  The _Eugenie_ lay at anchor five miles
to windward, but she was behind a point of land and could not know of our
mishap.  At Captain Jansen’s suggestion, I wrote a note to Captain
Keller, asking him to bring extra anchors and gear to our aid.  But not a
canoe could be persuaded to carry the letter.  I offered half a case of
tobacco, but the blacks grinned and held their canoes bow-on to the
breaking seas.  A half a case of tobacco was worth three pounds.  In two
hours, even against the strong wind and sea, a man could have carried the
letter and received in payment what he would have laboured half a year
for on a plantation.  I managed to get into a canoe and paddle out to
where Mr. Caulfeild was running an anchor with his whale-boat.  My idea
was that he would have more influence over the natives.  He called the
canoes up to him, and a score of them clustered around and heard the
offer of half a case of tobacco.  No one spoke.

“I know what you think,” the missionary called out to them.  “You think
plenty tobacco on the schooner and you’re going to get it.  I tell you
plenty rifles on schooner.  You no get tobacco, you get bullets.”

At last, one man, alone in a small canoe, took the letter and started.
Waiting for relief, work went on steadily on the _Minota_.  Her
water-tanks were emptied, and spars, sails, and ballast started
shoreward.  There were lively times on board when the _Minota_ rolled one
bilge down and then the other, a score of men leaping for life and legs
as the trade-boxes, booms, and eighty-pound pigs of iron ballast rushed
across from rail to rail and back again.  The poor pretty harbour yacht!
Her decks and running rigging were a raffle.  Down below everything was
disrupted.  The cabin floor had been torn up to get at the ballast, and
rusty bilge-water swashed and splashed.  A bushel of limes, in a mess of
flour and water, charged about like so many sticky dumplings escaped from
a half-cooked stew.  In the inner cabin, Nakata kept guard over our
rifles and ammunition.

Three hours from the time our messenger started, a whale-boat, pressing
along under a huge spread of canvas, broke through the thick of a
shrieking squall to windward.  It was Captain Keller, wet with rain and
spray, a revolver in belt, his boat’s crew fully armed, anchors and
hawsers heaped high amidships, coming as fast as wind could drive—the
white man, the inevitable white man, coming to a white man’s rescue.

The vulture line of canoes that had waited so long broke and disappeared
as quickly as it had formed.  The corpse was not dead after all.  We now
had three whale-boats, two plying steadily between the vessel and shore,
the other kept busy running out anchors, rebending parted hawsers, and
recovering the lost anchors.  Later in the afternoon, after a
consultation, in which we took into consideration that a number of our
boat’s crew, as well as ten of the recruits, belonged to this place, we
disarmed the boat’s crew.  This, incidently, gave them both hands free to
work for the vessel.  The rifles were put in the charge of five of Mr.
Caulfeild’s mission boys.  And down below in the wreck of the cabin the
missionary and his converts prayed to God to save the _Minota_.  It was
an impressive scene! the unarmed man of God praying with cloudless faith,
his savage followers leaning on their rifles and mumbling amens.  The
cabin walls reeled about them.  The vessel lifted and smashed upon the
coral with every sea.  From on deck came the shouts of men heaving and
toiling, praying, in another fashion, with purposeful will and strength
of arm.

That night Mr. Caulfeild brought off a warning.  One of our recruits had
a price on his head of fifty fathoms of shell-money and forty pigs.
Baffled in their desire to capture the vessel, the bushmen decided to get
the head of the man.  When killing begins, there is no telling where it
will end, so Captain Jansen armed a whale-boat and rowed in to the edge
of the beach.  Ugi, one of his boat’s crew, stood up and orated for him.
Ugi was excited.  Captain Jansen’s warning that any canoe sighted that
night would be pumped full of lead, Ugi turned into a bellicose
declaration of war, which wound up with a peroration somewhat to the
following effect: “You kill my captain, I drink his blood and die with

The bushmen contented themselves with burning an unoccupied mission
house, and sneaked back to the bush.  The next day the _Eugenie_ sailed
in and dropped anchor.  Three days and two nights the _Minota_ pounded on
the reef; but she held together, and the shell of her was pulled off at
last and anchored in smooth water.  There we said good-bye to her and all
on board, and sailed away on the _Eugenie_, bound for Florida Island.


GIVEN a number of white traders, a wide area of land, and scores of
savage languages and dialects, the result will be that the traders will
manufacture a totally new, unscientific, but perfectly adequate,
language.  This the traders did when they invented the Chinook lingo for
use over British Columbia, Alaska, and the Northwest Territory.  So with
the lingo of the Kroo-boys of Africa, the pigeon English of the Far East,
and the bêche de mer of the westerly portion of the South Seas.  This
latter is often called pigeon English, but pigeon English it certainly is
not.  To show how totally different it is, mention need be made only of
the fact that the classic piecee of China has no place in it.

There was once a sea captain who needed a dusky potentate down in his
cabin.  The potentate was on deck.  The captain’s command to the Chinese
steward was “Hey, boy, you go top-side catchee one piecee king.”  Had the
steward been a New Hibridean or a Solomon islander, the command would
have been: “Hey, you fella boy, go look ’m eye belong you along deck,
bring ’m me fella one big fella marster belong black man.”

It was the first white men who ventured through Melanesia after the early
explorers, who developed bêche de mer English—men such as the bêche de
mer fishermen, the sandalwood traders, the pearl hunters, and the labour
recruiters.  In the Solomons, for instance, scores of languages and
dialects are spoken.  Unhappy the trader who tried to learn them all; for
in the next group to which he might wander he would find scores of
additional tongues.  A common language was necessary—a language so simple
that a child could learn it, with a vocabulary as limited as the
intelligence of the savages upon whom it was to be used.  The traders did
not reason this out.  Bêche do mer English was the product of conditions
and circumstances.  Function precedes organ; and the need for a universal
Melanesian lingo preceded bêche de mer English.  Bêche de mer was purely
fortuitous, but it was fortuitous in the deterministic way.  Also, from
the fact that out of the need the lingo arose, bêche de mer English is a
splendid argument for the Esperanto enthusiasts.

A limited vocabulary means that each word shall be overworked.  Thus,
_fella_, in bêche de mer, means all that _piecee_ does and quite a bit
more, and is used continually in every possible connection.  Another
overworked word is _belong_.  Nothing stands alone.  Everything is
related.  The thing desired is indicated by its relationship with other
things.  A primitive vocabulary means primitive expression, thus, the
continuance of rain is expressed as _rain he stop_.  _Sun he come up_
cannot possibly be misunderstood, while the phrase-structure itself can
be used without mental exertion in ten thousand different ways, as, for
instance, a native who desires to tell you that there are fish in the
water and who says _fish he stop_.  It was while trading on Ysabel island
that I learned the excellence of this usage.  I wanted two or three pairs
of the large clam-shells (measuring three feet across), but I did not
want the meat inside.  Also, I wanted the meat of some of the smaller
clams to make a chowder.  My instruction to the natives finally ripened
into the following “You fella bring me fella big fella clam—kai-kai he no
stop, he walk about.  You fella bring me fella small fella clam—kai-kai
he stop.”

Kai-kai is the Polynesian for food, meat, eating, and to eat: but it
would be hard to say whether it was introduced into Melanesia by the
sandalwood traders or by the Polynesian westward drift.  Walk about is a
quaint phrase.  Thus, if one orders a Solomon sailor to put a tackle on a
boom, he will suggest, “That fella boom he walk about too much.”  And if
the said sailor asks for shore liberty, he will state that it is his
desire to walk about.  Or if said sailor be seasick, he will explain his
condition by stating, “Belly belong me walk about too much.”

Too much, by the way, does not indicate anything excessive.  It is merely
the simple superlative.  Thus, if a native is asked the distance to a
certain village, his answer will be one of these four: “Close-up”; “long
way little bit”; “long way big bit”; or “long way too much.”  Long way
too much does not mean that one cannot walk to the village; it means that
he will have to walk farther than if the village were a long way big bit.

_Gammon_ is to lie, to exaggerate, to joke.  _Mary_ is a woman.  Any
woman is a Mary.  All women are Marys.  Doubtlessly the first dim white
adventurer whimsically called a native woman Mary, and of similar birth
must have been many other words in bêche de mer.  The white men were all
seamen, and so capsize and sing out were introduced into the lingo.  One
would not tell a Melanesian cook to empty the dish-water, but he would
tell him to capsize it.  To sing out is to cry loudly, to call out, or
merely to speak.  Sing-sing is a song.  The native Christian does not
think of God calling for Adam in the Garden of Eden; in the native’s
mind, God sings out for Adam.

Savvee or catchee are practically the only words which have been
introduced straight from pigeon English.  Of course, pickaninny has
happened along, but some of its uses are delicious.  Having bought a fowl
from a native in a canoe, the native asked me if I wanted “Pickaninny
stop along him fella.”  It was not until he showed me a handful of hen’s
eggs that I understood his meaning.  My word, as an exclamation with a
thousand significances, could have arrived from nowhere else than Old
England.  A paddle, a sweep, or an oar, is called washee, and washee is
also the verb.

Here is a letter, dictated by one Peter, a native trader at Santa Anna,
and addressed to his employer.  Harry, the schooner captain, started to
write the letter, but was stopped by Peter at the end of the second
sentence.  Thereafter the letter runs in Peter’s own words, for Peter was
afraid that Harry gammoned too much, and he wanted the straight story of
his needs to go to headquarters.

                                                               “SANTA ANNA

    “Trader Peter has worked 12 months for your firm and has not received
    any pay yet.  He hereby wants £12.”  (At this point Peter began
    dictation).   “Harry he gammon along him all the time too much.  I
    like him 6 tin biscuit, 4 bag rice, 24 tin bullamacow.  Me like him 2
    rifle, me savvee look out along boat, some place me go man he no
    good, he _kai-kai_ along me.


_Bullamacow_ means tinned beef.  This word was corrupted from the English
language by the Samoans, and from them learned by the traders, who
carried it along with them into Melanesia.  Captain Cook and the other
early navigators made a practice of introducing seeds, plants, and
domestic animals amongst the natives.  It was at Samoa that one such
navigator landed a bull and a cow.  “This is a bull and cow,” said he to
the Samoans.  They thought he was giving the name of the breed, and from
that day to this, beef on the hoof and beef in the tin is called

A Solomon islander cannot say _fence_, so, in bêche de mer, it becomes
_fennis_; store is _sittore_, and box is _bokkis_.  Just now the fashion
in chests, which are known as boxes, is to have a bell-arrangement on the
lock so that the box cannot be opened without sounding an alarm.  A box
so equipped is not spoken of as a mere box, but as the _bokkis belong

_Fright_ is the bêche de mer for fear.  If a native appears timid and one
asks him the cause, he is liable to hear in reply: “Me fright along you
too much.”  Or the native may be _fright_ along storm, or wild bush, or
haunted places.  _Cross_ covers every form of anger.  A man may be cross
at one when he is feeling only petulant; or he may be cross when he is
seeking to chop off your head and make a stew out of you.  A recruit,
after having toiled three years on a plantation, was returned to his own
village on Malaita.  He was clad in all kinds of gay and sportive
garments.  On his head was a top-hat.  He possessed a trade-box full of
calico, beads, porpoise-teeth, and tobacco.  Hardly was the anchor down,
when the villagers were on board.  The recruit looked anxiously for his
own relatives, but none was to be seen.  One of the natives took the pipe
out of his mouth.  Another confiscated the strings of beads from around
his neck.  A third relieved him of his gaudy loin-cloth, and a fourth
tried on the top-hat and omitted to return it.  Finally, one of them took
his trade-box, which represented three years’ toil, and dropped it into a
canoe alongside.  “That fella belong you?” the captain asked the recruit,
referring to the thief.  “No belong me,” was the answer.  “Then why in
Jericho do you let him take the box?” the captain demanded indignantly.
Quoth the recruit, “Me speak along him, say bokkis he stop, that fella he
cross along me”—which was the recruit’s way of saying that the other man
would murder him.  God’s wrath, when He sent the Flood, was merely a case
of being cross along mankind.

What name? is the great interrogation of bêche de mer.  It all depends on
how it is uttered.  It may mean: What is your business?  What do you mean
by this outrageous conduct?  What do you want?  What is the thing you are
after?  You had best watch out; I demand an explanation; and a few
hundred other things.  Call a native out of his house in the middle of
the night, and he is likely to demand, “What name you sing out along me?”

Imagine the predicament of the Germans on the plantations of Bougainville
Island, who are compelled to learn bêche de mer English in order to
handle the native labourers.  It is to them an unscientific polyglot, and
there are no text-books by which to study it.  It is a source of unholy
delight to the other white planters and traders to hear the German
wrestling stolidly with the circumlocutions and short-cuts of a language
that has no grammar and no dictionary.

Some years ago large numbers of Solomon islanders were recruited to
labour on the sugar plantations of Queensland.  A missionary urged one of
the labourers, who was a convert, to get up and preach a sermon to a
shipload of Solomon islanders who had just arrived.  He chose for his
subject the Fall of Man, and the address he gave became a classic in all
Australasia.  It proceeded somewhat in the following manner:

“Altogether you boy belong Solomons you no savvee white man.  Me fella me
savvee him.  Me fella me savvee talk along white man.

“Before long time altogether no place he stop.  God big fella marster
belong white man, him fella He make ’m altogether.  God big fella marster
belong white man, He make ’m big fella garden.  He good fella too much.
Along garden plenty yam he stop, plenty cocoanut, plenty taro, plenty
_kumara_ (sweet potatoes), altogether good fella kai-kai too much.

“Bimeby God big fella marster belong white man He make ’m one fella man
and put ’m along garden belong Him.  He call ’m this fella man Adam.  He
name belong him.  He put him this fella man Adam along garden, and He
speak, ‘This fella garden he belong you.’  And He look ’m this fella Adam
he walk about too much.  Him fella Adam all the same sick; he no savvee
kai-kai; he walk about all the time.  And God He no savvee.  God big
fella marster belong white man, He scratch ’m head belong Him.  God say:
‘What name?  Me no savvee what name this fella Adam he want.’

“Bimeby God He scratch ’m head belong Him too much, and speak: ‘Me fella
me savvee, him fella Adam him want ’m Mary.’  So He make Adam he go
asleep, He take one fella bone belong him, and He make ’m one fella Mary
along bone.  He call him this fella Mary, Eve.  He give ’m this fella Eve
along Adam, and He speak along him fella Adam: ‘Close up altogether along
this fella garden belong you two fella.  One fella tree he tambo (taboo)
along you altogether.  This fella tree belong apple.’

“So Adam Eve two fella stop along garden, and they two fella have ’m good
time too much.  Bimeby, one day, Eve she come along Adam, and she speak,
‘More good you me two fella we eat ’m this fella apple.’  Adam he speak,
‘No,’ and Eve she speak, ‘What name you no like ’m me?’  And Adam he
speak, ‘Me like ’m you too much, but me fright along God.’  And Eve she
speak, ‘Gammon!  What name?  God He no savvee look along us two fella all
’m time.  God big fella marster, He gammon along you.’  But Adam he
speak, ‘No.’  But Eve she talk, talk, talk, allee time—allee same Mary
she talk along boy along Queensland and make ’m trouble along boy.  And
bimeby Adam he tired too much, and he speak, ‘All right.’  So these two
fella they go eat ’m.  When they finish eat ’m, my word, they fright like
hell, and they go hide along scrub.

“And God He come walk about along garden, and He sing out, ‘Adam!’  Adam
he no speak.  He too much fright.  My word!  And God He sing out, ‘Adam!’
And Adam he speak, ‘You call ’m me?’  God He speak, ‘Me call ’m you too
much.’  Adam he speak, ‘Me sleep strong fella too much.’  And God He
speak, ‘You been eat ’m this fella apple.’  Adam he speak, ‘No, me no
been eat ’m.’  God He speak.  ‘What name you gammon along me?  You been
eat ’m.’  And Adam he speak, ‘Yes, me been eat ’m.’

“And God big fella marster He cross along Adam Eve two fella too much,
and He speak, ‘You two fella finish along me altogether.  You go catch ’m
bokkis (box) belong you, and get to hell along scrub.’

“So Adam Eve these two fella go along scrub.  And God He make ’m one big
fennis (fence) all around garden and He put ’m one fella marster belong
God along fennis.  And He give this fella marster belong God one big
fella musket, and He speak, ‘S’pose you look ’m these two fella Adam Eve,
you shoot ’m plenty too much.’”


WHEN we sailed from San Francisco on the _Snark_ I knew as much about
sickness as the Admiral of the Swiss Navy knows about salt water.  And
here, at the start, let me advise any one who meditates going to
out-of-the-way tropic places.  Go to a first-class druggist—the sort that
have specialists on their salary list who know everything.  Talk the
matter over with such an one.  Note carefully all that he says.  Have a
list made of all that he recommends.  Write out a cheque for the total
cost, and tear it up.

I wish I had done the same.  I should have been far wiser, I know now, if
I had bought one of those ready-made, self-acting, fool-proof medicine
chests such as are favoured by fourth-rate ship-masters.  In such a chest
each bottle has a number.  On the inside of the lid is placed a simple
table of directions: No. 1, toothache; No. 2, smallpox; No. 3,
stomachache; No. 4, cholera; No. 5, rheumatism; and so on, through the
list of human ills.  And I might have used it as did a certain venerable
skipper, who, when No. 3 was empty, mixed a dose from No. 1 and No. 2,
or, when No. 7 was all gone, dosed his crew with 4 and 3 till 3 gave out,
when he used 5 and 2.

So far, with the exception of corrosive sublimate (which was recommended
as an antiseptic in surgical operations, and which I have not yet used
for that purpose), my medicine-chest has been useless.  It has been worse
than useless, for it has occupied much space which I could have used to

With my surgical instruments it is different.  While I have not yet had
serious use for them, I do not regret the space they occupy.  The thought
of them makes me feel good.  They are so much life insurance, only,
fairer than that last grim game, one is not supposed to die in order to
win.  Of course, I don’t know how to use them, and what I don’t know
about surgery would set up a dozen quacks in prosperous practice.  But
needs must when the devil drives, and we of the _Snark_ have no warning
when the devil may take it into his head to drive, ay, even a thousand
miles from land and twenty days from the nearest port.

I did not know anything about dentistry, but a friend fitted me out with
forceps and similar weapons, and in Honolulu I picked up a book upon
teeth.  Also, in that sub-tropical city I managed to get hold of a skull,
from which I extracted the teeth swiftly and painlessly.  Thus equipped,
I was ready, though not exactly eager, to tackle any tooth that get in my
way.  It was in Nuku-hiva, in the Marquesas, that my first case presented
itself in the shape of a little, old Chinese.  The first thing I did was
to got the buck fever, and I leave it to any fair-minded person if buck
fever, with its attendant heart-palpitations and arm-tremblings, is the
right condition for a man to be in who is endeavouring to pose as an old
hand at the business.  I did not fool the aged Chinaman.  He was as
frightened as I and a bit more shaky.  I almost forgot to be frightened
in the fear that he would bolt.  I swear, if he had tried to, that I
would have tripped him up and sat on him until calmness and reason

I wanted that tooth.  Also, Martin wanted a snap-shot of me getting it.
Likewise Charmian got her camera.  Then the procession started.  We were
stopping at what had been the club-house when Stevenson was in the
Marquesas on the Casco.  On the veranda, where he had passed so many
pleasant hours, the light was not good—for snapshots, I mean.  I led on
into the garden, a chair in one hand, the other hand filled with forceps
of various sorts, my knees knocking together disgracefully.  The poor old
Chinaman came second, and he was shaking, too.  Charmian and Martin
brought up the rear, armed with kodaks.  We dived under the avocado
trees, threaded our way through the cocoanut palms, and came on a spot
that satisfied Martin’s photographic eye.

I looked at the tooth, and then discovered that I could not remember
anything about the teeth I had pulled from the skull five months
previously.  Did it have one prong? two prongs? or three prongs?  What
was left of the part that showed appeared very crumbly, and I knew that I
should have take hold of the tooth deep down in the gum.  It was very
necessary that I should know how many prongs that tooth had.  Back to the
house I went for the book on teeth.  The poor old victim looked like
photographs I had seen of fellow-countrymen of his, criminals, on their
knees, waiting the stroke of the beheading sword.

“Don’t let him get away,” I cautioned to Martin.  “I want that tooth.”

“I sure won’t,” he replied with enthusiasm, from behind his camera.  “I
want that photograph.”

For the first time I felt sorry for the Chinaman.  Though the book did
not tell me anything about pulling teeth, it was all right, for on one
page I found drawings of all the teeth, including their prongs and how
they were set in the jaw.  Then came the pursuit of the forceps.  I had
seven pairs, but was in doubt as to which pair I should use.  I did not
want any mistake.  As I turned the hardware over with rattle and clang,
the poor victim began to lose his grip and to turn a greenish yellow
around the gills.  He complained about the sun, but that was necessary
for the photograph, and he had to stand it.  I fitted the forceps around
the tooth, and the patient shivered and began to wilt.

“Ready?” I called to Martin.

“All ready,” he answered.

I gave a pull.  Ye gods!  The tooth, was loose!  Out it came on the
instant.  I was jubilant as I held it aloft in the forceps.

“Put it back, please, oh, put it back,” Martin pleaded.  “You were too
quick for me.”

And the poor old Chinaman sat there while I put the tooth back and pulled
over.  Martin snapped the camera.  The deed was done.  Elation?  Pride?
No hunter was ever prouder of his first pronged buck than I was of that
tree-pronged tooth.  I did it!  I did it!  With my of own hands and a
pair of forceps I did it, to say nothing of the forgotten memories of the
dead man’s skull.

My next case was a Tahitian sailor.  He was a small man, in a state of
collapse from long days and nights of jumping toothache.  I lanced the
gums first.  I didn’t know how to lance them, but I lanced them just the
same.  It was a long pull and a strong pull.  The man was a hero.  He
groaned and moaned, and I thought he was going to faint.  But he kept his
mouth open and let me pull.  And then it came.

After that I was ready to meet all comers—just the proper state of mind
for a Waterloo.  And it came.  Its name was Tomi.  He was a strapping
giant of a heathen with a bad reputation.  He was addicted to deeds of
violence.  Among other things he had beaten two of his wives to death
with his fists.  His father and mother had been naked cannibals.  When he
sat down and I put the forceps into his mouth, he was nearly as tall as I
was standing up.  Big men, prone to violence, very often have a streak of
fat in their make-up, so I was doubtful of him.  Charmian grabbed one arm
and Warren grabbed the other.  Then the tug of war began.  The instant
the forceps closed down on the tooth, his jaws closed down on the
forceps.  Also, both his hands flew up and gripped my pulling hand.  I
held on, and he held on.  Charmian and Warren held on.  We wrestled all
about the shop.

It was three against one, and my hold on an aching tooth was certainly a
foul one; but in spite of the handicap he got away with us.  The forceps
slipped off, banging and grinding along against his upper teeth with a
nerve-scraping sound.  Out of his month flew the forceps, and he rose up
in the air with a blood-curdling yell.  The three of us fell back.  We
expected to be massacred.  But that howling savage of sanguinary
reputation sank back in the chair.  He held his head in both his hands,
and groaned and groaned and groaned.  Nor would he listen to reason.  I
was a quack.  My painless tooth-extraction was a delusion and a snare and
a low advertising dodge.  I was so anxious to get that tooth that I was
almost ready to bribe him.  But that went against my professional pride
and I let him depart with the tooth still intact, the only case on record
up to date of failure on my part when once I had got a grip.  Since then
I have never let a tooth go by me.  Only the other day I volunteered to
beat up three days to windward to pull a woman missionary’s tooth.  I
expect, before the voyage of the _Snark_ is finished, to be doing bridge
work and putting on gold crowns.

I don’t know whether they are yaws or not—a physician in Fiji told me
they were, and a missionary in the Solomons told me they were not; but at
any rate I can vouch for the fact that they are most uncomfortable.  It
was my luck to ship in Tahiti a French-sailor, who, when we got to sea,
proved to be afflicted with a vile skin disease.  The _Snark_ was too
small and too much of a family party to permit retaining him on board;
but perforce, until we could reach land and discharge him, it was up to
me to doctor him.  I read up the books and proceeded to treat him, taking
care afterwards always to use a thorough antiseptic wash.  When we
reached Tutuila, far from getting rid of him, the port doctor declared a
quarantine against him and refused to allow him ashore.  But at Apia,
Samoa, I managed to ship him off on a steamer to New Zealand.  Here at
Apia my ankles were badly bitten by mosquitoes, and I confess to having
scratched the bites—as I had a thousand times before.  By the time I
reached the island of Savaii, a small sore had developed on the hollow of
my instep.  I thought it was due to chafe and to acid fumes from the hot
lava over which I tramped.  An application of salve would cure it—so I
thought.  The salve did heal it over, whereupon an astonishing
inflammation set in, the new skin came off, and a larger sore was
exposed.  This was repeated many times.  Each time new skin formed, an
inflammation followed, and the circumference of the sore increased.  I
was puzzled and frightened.  All my life my skin had been famous for its
healing powers, yet here was something that would not heal.  Instead, it
was daily eating up more skin, while it had eaten down clear through the
skin and was eating up the muscle itself.

By this time the _Snark_ was at sea on her way to Fiji.  I remembered the
French sailor, and for the first time became seriously alarmed.  Four
other similar sores had appeared—or ulcers, rather, and the pain of them
kept me awake at night.  All my plans were made to lay up the _Snark_ in
Fiji and get away on the first steamer to Australia and professional
M.D.’s.  In the meantime, in my amateur M.D. way, I did my best.  I read
through all the medical works on board.  Not a line nor a word could I
find descriptive of my affliction.  I brought common horse-sense to bear
on the problem.  Here were malignant and excessively active ulcers that
were eating me up.  There was an organic and corroding poison at work.
Two things I concluded must be done.  First, some agent must be found to
destroy the poison.  Secondly, the ulcers could not possibly heal from
the outside in; they must heal from the inside out.  I decided to fight
the poison with corrosive sublimate.  The very name of it struck me as
vicious.  Talk of fighting fire with fire!  I was being consumed by a
corrosive poison, and it appealed to my fancy to fight it with another
corrosive poison.  After several days I alternated dressings of corrosive
sublimate with dressings of peroxide of hydrogen.  And behold, by the
time we reached Fiji four of the five ulcers were healed, while the
remaining one was no bigger than a pea.

I now felt fully qualified to treat yaws.  Likewise I had a wholesome
respect for them.  Not so the rest of the crew of the _Snark_.  In their
case, seeing was not believing.  One and all, they had seen my dreadful
predicament; and all of them, I am convinced, had a subconscious
certitude that their own superb constitutions and glorious personalities
would never allow lodgment of so vile a poison in their carcasses as my
anæmic constitution and mediocre personality had allowed to lodge in
mine.  At Port Resolution, in the New Hebrides, Martin elected to walk
barefooted in the bush and returned on board with many cuts and
abrasions, especially on his shins.

“You’d better be careful,” I warned him.  “I’ll mix up some corrosive
sublimate for you to wash those cuts with.  An ounce of prevention, you

But Martin smiled a superior smile.  Though he did not say so.  I
nevertheless was given to understand that he was not as other men (I was
the only man he could possibly have had reference to), and that in a
couple of days his cuts would be healed.  He also read me a dissertation
upon the peculiar purity of his blood and his remarkable healing powers.
I felt quite humble when he was done with me.  Evidently I was different
from other men in so far as purity of blood was concerned.

Nakata, the cabin-boy, while ironing one day, mistook the calf of his leg
for the ironing-block and accumulated a burn three inches in length and
half an inch wide.  He, too, smiled the superior smile when I offered him
corrosive sublimate and reminded him of my own cruel experience.  I was
given to understand, with all due suavity and courtesy, that no matter
what was the matter with my blood, his number-one, Japanese, Port-Arthur
blood was all right and scornful of the festive microbe.

Wada, the cook, took part in a disastrous landing of the launch, when he
had to leap overboard and fend the launch off the beach in a smashing
surf.  By means of shells and coral he cut his legs and feet up
beautifully.  I offered him the corrosive sublimate bottle.  Once again I
suffered the superior smile and was given to understand that his blood
was the same blood that had licked Russia and was going to lick the
United States some day, and that if his blood wasn’t able to cure a few
trifling cuts, he’d commit hari-kari in sheer disgrace.

From all of which I concluded that an amateur M.D. is without honour on
his own vessel, even if he has cured himself.  The rest of the crew had
begun to look upon me as a sort of mild mono-maniac on the question of
sores and sublimate.  Just because my blood was impure was no reason that
I should think everybody else’s was.  I made no more overtures.  Time and
microbes were with me, and all I had to do was wait.

“I think there’s some dirt in these cuts,” Martin said tentatively, after
several days.  “I’ll wash them out and then they’ll be all right,” he
added, after I had refused to rise to the bait.

Two more days passed, but the cuts did not pass, and I caught Martin
soaking his feet and legs in a pail of hot water.

“Nothing like hot water,” he proclaimed enthusiastically.  “It beats all
the dope the doctors ever put up.  These sores will be all right in the

But in the morning he wore a troubled look, and I knew that the hour of
my triumph approached.

“I think I _will_ try some of that medicine,” he announced later on in
the day.  “Not that I think it’ll do much good,” he qualified, “but I’ll
just give it a try anyway.”

Next came the proud blood of Japan to beg medicine for its illustrious
sores, while I heaped coals of fire on all their houses by explaining in
minute and sympathetic detail the treatment that should be given.  Nakata
followed instructions implicitly, and day by day his sores grew smaller.
Wada was apathetic, and cured less readily.  But Martin still doubted,
and because he did not cure immediately, he developed the theory that
while doctor’s dope was all right, it did not follow that the same kind
of dope was efficacious with everybody.  As for himself, corrosive
sublimate had no effect.  Besides, how did I know that it was the right
stuff?  I had had no experience.  Just because I happened to get well
while using it was not proof that it had played any part in the cure.
There were such things as coincidences.  Without doubt there was a dope
that would cure the sores, and when he ran across a real doctor he would
find what that dope was and get some of it.

About this time we arrived in the Solomon Islands.  No physician would
ever recommend the group for invalids or sanitoriums.  I spent but little
time there ere I really and for the first time in my life comprehended
how frail and unstable is human tissue.  Our first anchorage was Port
Mary, on the island of Santa Anna.  The one lone white man, a trader,
came alongside.  Tom Butler was his name, and he was a beautiful example
of what the Solomons can do to a strong man.  He lay in his whale-boat
with the helplessness of a dying man.  No smile and little intelligence
illumined his face.  He was a sombre death’s-head, too far gone to grin.
He, too, had yaws, big ones.  We were compelled to drag him over the rail
of the _Snark_.  He said that his health was good, that he had not had
the fever for some time, and that with the exception of his arm he was
all right and trim.  His arm appeared to be paralysed.  Paralysis he
rejected with scorn.  He had had it before, and recovered.  It was a
common native disease on Santa Anna, he said, as he was helped down the
companion ladder, his dead arm dropping, bump-bump, from step to step.
He was certainly the ghastliest guest we ever entertained, and we’ve had
not a few lepers and elephantiasis victims on board.

Martin inquired about yaws, for here was a man who ought to know.  He
certainly did know, if we could judge by his scarred arms and legs and by
the live ulcers that corroded in the midst of the scars.  Oh, one got
used to yaws, quoth Tom Butler.  They were never really serious until
they had eaten deep into the flesh.  Then they attacked the walls of the
arteries, the arteries burst, and there was a funeral.  Several of the
natives had recently died that way ashore.  But what did it matter?  If
it wasn’t yaws, it was something else in the Solomons.

I noticed that from this moment Martin displayed a swiftly increasing
interest in his own yaws.  Dosings with corrosive sublimate were more
frequent, while, in conversation, he began to revert with growing
enthusiasm to the clean climate of Kansas and all other things Kansan.
Charmian and I thought that California was a little bit of all right.
Henry swore by Rapa, and Tehei staked all on Bora Bora for his own
blood’s sake; while Wada and Nakata sang the sanitary pæan of Japan.

One evening, as the _Snark_ worked around the southern end of the island
of Ugi, looking for a reputed anchorage, a Church of England missionary,
a Mr. Drew, bound in his whaleboat for the coast of San Cristoval, came
alongside and stopped for dinner.  Martin, his legs swathed in Red Cross
bandages till they looked like a mummy’s, turned the conversation upon
yaws.  Yes, said Mr. Drew, they were quite common in the Solomons.  All
white men caught them.

“And have you had them?” Martin demanded, in the soul of him quite
shocked that a Church of England missionary could possess so vulgar an

Mr. Drew nodded his head and added that not only had he had them, but at
that moment he was doctoring several.

“What do you use on them?” Martin asked like a flash.

My heart almost stood still waiting the answer.  By that answer my
professional medical prestige stood or fell.  Martin, I could see, was
quite sure it was going to fall.  And then the answer—O blessed answer!

“Corrosive sublimate,” said Mr. Drew.

Martin gave in handsomely, I’ll admit, and I am confident that at that
moment, if I had asked permission to pull one of his teeth, he would not
have denied me.

All white men in the Solomons catch yaws, and every cut or abrasion
practically means another yaw.  Every man I met had had them, and nine
out of ten had active ones.  There was but one exception, a young fellow
who had been in the islands five months, who had come down with fever ten
days after he arrived, and who had since then been down so often with
fever that he had had neither time nor opportunity for yaws.

Every one on the _Snark_ except Charmian came down with yaws.  Hers was
the same egotism that Japan and Kansas had displayed.  She ascribed her
immunity to the pureness of her blood, and as the days went by she
ascribed it more often and more loudly to the pureness of her blood.
Privately I ascribed her immunity to the fact that, being a woman, she
escaped most of the cuts and abrasions to which we hard-working men were
subject in the course of working the _Snark_ around the world.  I did not
tell her so.  You see, I did not wish to bruise her ego with brutal
facts.  Being an M.D., if only an amateur one, I knew more about the
disease than she, and I knew that time was my ally.  But alas, I abused
my ally when it dealt a charming little yaw on the shin.  So quickly did
I apply antiseptic treatment, that the yaw was cured before she was
convinced that she had one.  Again, as an M.D., I was without honour on
my own vessel; and, worse than that, I was charged with having tried to
mislead her into the belief that she had had a yaw.  The pureness of her
blood was more rampant than ever, and I poked my nose into my navigation
books and kept quiet.  And then came the day.  We were cruising along the
coast of Malaita at the time.

“What’s that abaft your ankle-bone?” said I.

“Nothing,” said she.

“All right,” said I; “but put some corrosive sublimate on it just the
same.  And some two or three weeks from now, when it is well and you have
a scar that you will carry to your grave, just forget about the purity of
your blood and your ancestral history and tell me what you think about
yaws anyway.”

It was as large as a silver dollar, that yaw, and it took all of three
weeks to heal.  There were times when Charmian could not walk because of
the hurt of it; and there were times upon times when she explained that
abaft the ankle-bone was the most painful place to have a yaw.  I
explained, in turn, that, never having experienced a yaw in that
locality, I was driven to conclude the hollow of the instep was the most
painful place for yaw-culture.  We left it to Martin, who disagreed with
both of us and proclaimed passionately that the only truly painful place
was the shin.  No wonder horse-racing is so popular.

But yaws lose their novelty after a time.  At the present moment of
writing I have five yaws on my hands and three more on my shin.  Charmian
has one on each side of her right instep.  Tehei is frantic with his.
Martin’s latest shin-cultures have eclipsed his earlier ones.  And Nakata
has several score casually eating away at his tissue.  But the history of
the _Snark_ in the Solomons has been the history of every ship since the
early discoverers.  From the “Sailing Directions” I quote the following:

“The crews of vessels remaining any considerable time in the Solomons
find wounds and sores liable to change into malignant ulcers.”

Nor on the question of fever were the “Sailing Directions” any more
encouraging, for in them I read:

“New arrivals are almost certain sooner or later to suffer from fever.
The natives are also subject to it.  The number of deaths among the
whites in the year 1897 amounted to 9 among a population of 50.”

Some of these deaths, however, were accidental.

Nakata was the first to come down with fever.  This occurred at
Penduffryn.  Wada and Henry followed him.  Charmian surrendered next.  I
managed to escape for a couple of months; but when I was bowled over,
Martin sympathetically joined me several days later.  Out of the seven of
us all told Tehei is the only one who has escaped; but his sufferings
from nostalgia are worse than fever.  Nakata, as usual, followed
instructions faithfully, so that by the end of his third attack he could
take a two hours’ sweat, consume thirty or forty grains of quinine, and
be weak but all right at the end of twenty-four hours.

Wada and Henry, however, were tougher patients with which to deal.  In
the first place, Wada got in a bad funk.  He was of the firm conviction
that his star had set and that the Solomons would receive his bones.  He
saw that life about him was cheap.  At Penduffryn he saw the ravages of
dysentery, and, unfortunately for him, he saw one victim carried out on a
strip of galvanized sheet-iron and dumped without coffin or funeral into
a hole in the ground.  Everybody had fever, everybody had dysentery,
everybody had everything.  Death was common.  Here to-day and gone
to-morrow—and Wada forgot all about to-day and made up his mind that
to-morrow had come.

He was careless of his ulcers, neglected to sublimate them, and by
uncontrolled scratching spread them all over his body.  Nor would he
follow instructions with fever, and, as a result, would be down five days
at a time, when a day would have been sufficient.  Henry, who is a
strapping giant of a man, was just as bad.  He refused point blank to
take quinine, on the ground that years before he had had fever and that
the pills the doctor gave him were of different size and colour from the
quinine tablets I offered him.  So Henry joined Wada.

But I fooled the pair of them, and dosed them with their own medicine,
which was faith-cure.  They had faith in their funk that they were going
to die.  I slammed a lot of quinine down their throats and took their
temperature.  It was the first time I had used my medicine-chest
thermometer, and I quickly discovered that it was worthless, that it had
been produced for profit and not for service.  If I had let on to my two
patients that the thermometer did not work, there would have been two
funerals in short order.  Their temperature I swear was 105°.  I solemnly
made one and then the other smoke the thermometer, allowed an expression
of satisfaction to irradiate my countenance, and joyfully told them that
their temperature was 94°.  Then I slammed more quinine down their
throats, told them that any sickness or weakness they might experience
would be due to the quinine, and left them to get well.  And they did get
well, Wada in spite of himself.  If a man can die through a
misapprehension, is there any immorality in making him live through a

Commend me the white race when it comes to grit and surviving.  One of
our two Japanese and both our Tahitians funked and had to be slapped on
the back and cheered up and dragged along by main strength toward life.
Charmian and Martin took their afflictions cheerfully, made the least of
them, and moved with calm certitude along the way of life.  When Wada and
Henry were convinced that they were going to die, the funeral atmosphere
was too much for Tehei, who prayed dolorously and cried for hours at a
time.  Martin, on the other hand, cursed and got well, and Charmian
groaned and made plans for what she was going to do when she got well

Charmian had been raised a vegetarian and a sanitarian.  Her Aunt Netta,
who brought her up and who lived in a healthful climate, did not believe
in drugs.  Neither did Charmian.  Besides, drugs disagreed with her.
Their effects were worse than the ills they were supposed to alleviate.
But she listened to the argument in favour of quinine, accepted it as the
lesser evil, and in consequence had shorter, less painful, and less
frequent attacks of fever.  We encountered a Mr. Caulfeild, a missionary,
whose two predecessors had died after less than six months’ residence in
the Solomons.  Like them he had been a firm believer in homeopathy, until
after his first fever, whereupon, unlike them, he made a grand slide back
to allopathy and quinine, catching fever and carrying on his Gospel work.

But poor Wada!  The straw that broke the cook’s back was when Charmian
and I took him along on a cruise to the cannibal island of Malaita, in a
small yacht, on the deck of which the captain had been murdered half a
year before.  _Kai-kai_ means to eat, and Wada was sure he was going to
be _kai-kai’d_.  We went about heavily armed, our vigilance was
unremitting, and when we went for a bath in the mouth of a fresh-water
stream, black boys, armed with rifles, did sentry duty about us.  We
encountered English war vessels burning and shelling villages in
punishment for murders.  Natives with prices on their heads sought
shelter on board of us.  Murder stalked abroad in the land.  In
out-of-they-way places we received warnings from friendly savages of
impending attacks.  Our vessel owed two heads to Malaita, which were
liable to be collected any time.  Then to cap it all, we were wrecked on
a reef, and with rifles in one hand warned the canoes of wreckers off
while with the other hand we toiled to save the ship.  All of which was
too much for Wada, who went daffy, and who finally quitted the _Snark_ on
the island of Ysabel, going ashore for good in a driving rain-storm,
between two attacks of fever, while threatened with pneumonia.  If he
escapes being _kai-kai’d_, and if he can survive sores and fever which
are riotous ashore, he can expect, if he is reasonably lucky, to get away
from that place to the adjacent island in anywhere from six to eight
weeks.  He never did think much of my medicine, despite the fact that I
successfully and at the first trail pulled two aching teeth for him.

The _Snark_ has been a hospital for months, and I confess that we are
getting used to it.  At Meringe Lagoon, where we careened and cleaned the
_Snark’s_ copper, there were times when only one man of us was able to go
into the water, while the three white men on the plantation ashore were
all down with fever.  At the moment of writing this we are lost at sea
somewhere northeast of Ysabel and trying vainly to find Lord Howe Island,
which is an atoll that cannot be sighted unless one is on top of it.  The
chronometer has gone wrong.  The sun does not shine anyway, nor can I get
a star observation at night, and we have had nothing but squalls and rain
for days and days.  The cook is gone.  Nakata, who has been trying to be
both cook and cabin boy, is down on his back with fever.  Martin is just
up from fever, and going down again.  Charmian, whose fever has become
periodical, is looking up in her date book to find when the next attack
will be.  Henry has begun to eat quinine in an expectant mood.  And,
since my attacks hit me with the suddenness of bludgeon-blows I do not
know from moment to moment when I shall be brought down.  By a mistake we
gave our last flour away to some white men who did not have any flour.
We don’t know when we’ll make land.  Our Solomon sores are worse than
ever, and more numerous.  The corrosive sublimate was accidentally left
ashore at Penduffryn; the peroxide of hydrogen is exhausted; and I am
experimenting with boracic acid, lysol, and antiphlogystine.  At any
rate, if I fail in becoming a reputable M.D., it won’t be from lack of

P.S.  It is now two weeks since the foregoing was written, and Tehei, the
only immune on board has been down ten days with far severer fever than
any of us and is still down.  His temperature has been repeatedly as high
as 104, and his pulse 115.

P.S.  At sea, between Tasman atoll and Manning Straits.  Tehei’s attack
developed into black water fever—the severest form of malarial fever,
which, the doctor-book assures me, is due to some outside infection as
well.  Having pulled him through his fever, I am now at my wit’s end, for
he has lost his wits altogether.  I am rather recent in practice to take
up the cure of insanity.  This makes the second lunacy case on this short

P.S.  Some day I shall write a book (for the profession), and entitle it,
“Around the World on the Hospital Ship _Snark_.”  Even our pets have not
escaped.  We sailed from Meringe Lagoon with two, an Irish terrier and a
white cockatoo.  The terrier fell down the cabin companionway and lamed
its nigh hind leg, then repeated the manœuvre and lamed its off fore leg.
At the present moment it has but two legs to walk on.  Fortunately, they
are on opposite sides and ends, so that she can still dot and carry two.
The cockatoo was crushed under the cabin skylight and had to be killed.
This was our first funeral—though for that matter, the several chickens
we had, and which would have made welcome broth for the convalescents,
flew overboard and were drowned.  Only the cockroaches flourish.  Neither
illness nor accident ever befalls them, and they grow larger and more
carnivorous day by day, gnawing our finger-nails and toe-nails while we

P.S.  Charmian is having another bout with fever.  Martin, in despair,
has taken to horse-doctoring his yaws with bluestone and to blessing the
Solomons.  As for me, in addition to navigating, doctoring, and writing
short stories, I am far from well.  With the exception of the insanity
cases, I’m the worst off on board.  I shall catch the next steamer to
Australia and go on the operating table.  Among my minor afflictions, I
may mention a new and mysterious one.  For the past week my hands have
been swelling as with dropsy.  It is only by a painful effort that I can
close them.  A pull on a rope is excruciating.  The sensations are like
those that accompany severe chilblains.  Also, the skin is peeling off
both hands at an alarming rate, besides which the new skin underneath is
growing hard and thick.  The doctor-book fails to mention this disease.
Nobody knows what it is.

P.S.  Well, anyway, I’ve cured the chronometer.  After knocking about the
sea for eight squally, rainy days, most of the time hove to, I succeeded
in catching a partial observation of the sun at midday.  From this I
worked up my latitude, then headed by log to the latitude of Lord Howe,
and ran both that latitude and the island down together.  Here I tested
the chronometer by longitude sights and found it something like three
minutes out.  Since each minute is equivalent to fifteen miles, the total
error can be appreciated.  By repeated observations at Lord Howe I rated
the chronometer, finding it to have a daily losing error of seven-tenths
of a second.  Now it happens that a year ago, when we sailed from Hawaii,
that selfsame chronometer had that selfsame losing error of seven-tenths
of a second.  Since that error was faithfully added every day, and since
that error, as proved by my observations at Lord Howe, has not changed,
then what under the sun made that chronometer all of a sudden accelerate
and catch up with itself three minutes?  Can such things be?  Expert
watchmakers say no; but I say that they have never done any expert
watch-making and watch-rating in the Solomons.  That it is the climate is
my only diagnosis.  At any rate, I have successfully doctored the
chronometer, even if I have failed with the lunacy cases and with
Martin’s yaws.

P.S.  Martin has just tried burnt alum, and is blessing the Solomons more
fervently than ever.

P.S.  Between Manning Straits and Pavuvu Islands.

Henry has developed rheumatism in his back, ten skins have peeled off my
hands and the eleventh is now peeling, while Tehei is more lunatic than
ever and day and night prays God not to kill him.  Also, Nakata and I are
slashing away at fever again.  And finally up to date, Nakata last
evening had an attack of ptomaine poisoning, and we spent half the night
pulling him through.


THE _Snark_ was forty-three feet on the water-line and fifty-five over
all, with fifteen feet beam (tumble-home sides) and seven feet eight
inches draught.  She was ketch-rigged, carrying flying-jib, jib,
fore-staysail, main-sail, mizzen, and spinnaker.  There were six feet of
head-room below, and she was crown-decked and flush-decked.  There were
four alleged _water-tight_ compartments.  A seventy-horse power auxiliary
gas-engine sporadically furnished locomotion at an approximate cost of
twenty dollars per mile.  A five-horse power engine ran the pumps when it
was in order, and on two occasions proved capable of furnishing juice for
the search-light.  The storage batteries worked four or five times in the
course of two years.  The fourteen-foot launch was rumoured to work at
times, but it invariably broke down whenever I stepped on board.

But the _Snark_ sailed.  It was the only way she could get anywhere.  She
sailed for two years, and never touched rock, reef, nor shoal.  She had
no inside ballast, her iron keel weighed five tons, but her deep draught
and high freeboard made her very stiff.  Caught under full sail in tropic
squalls, she buried her rail and deck many times, but stubbornly refused
to turn turtle.  She steered easily, and she could run day and night,
without steering, close-by, full-and-by, and with the wind abeam.  With
the wind on her quarter and the sails properly trimmed, she steered
herself within two points, and with the wind almost astern she required
scarcely three points for self-steering.

The _Snark_ was partly built in San Francisco.  The morning her iron keel
was to be cast was the morning of the great earthquake.  Then came
anarchy.  Six months overdue in the building, I sailed the shell of her
to Hawaii to be finished, the engine lashed to the bottom, building
materials lashed on deck.  Had I remained in San Francisco for
completion, I’d still be there.  As it was, partly built, she cost four
times what she ought to have cost.

The _Snark_ was born unfortunately.  She was libelled in San Francisco,
had her cheques protested as fraudulent in Hawaii, and was fined for
breach of quarantine in the Solomons.  To save themselves, the newspapers
could not tell the truth about her.  When I discharged an incompetent
captain, they said I had beaten him to a pulp.  When one young man
returned home to continue at college, it was reported that I was a
regular Wolf Larsen, and that my whole crew had deserted because I had
beaten it to a pulp.  In fact the only blow struck on the _Snark_ was
when the cook was manhandled by a captain who had shipped with me under
false pretences, and whom I discharged in Fiji.  Also, Charmian and I
boxed for exercise; but neither of us was seriously maimed.

The voyage was our idea of a good time.  I built the _Snark_ and paid for
it, and for all expenses.  I contracted to write thirty-five thousand
words descriptive of the trip for a magazine which was to pay me the same
rate I received for stories written at home.  Promptly the magazine
advertised that it was sending me especially around the world for itself.
It was a wealthy magazine.  And every man who had business dealings with
the _Snark_ charged three prices because forsooth the magazine could
afford it.  Down in the uttermost South Sea isle this myth obtained, and
I paid accordingly.  To this day everybody believes that the magazine
paid for everything and that I made a fortune out of the voyage.  It is
hard, after such advertising, to hammer it into the human understanding
that the whole voyage was done for the fun of it.

I went to Australia to go into hospital, where I spent five weeks.  I
spent five months miserably sick in hotels.  The mysterious malady that
afflicted my hands was too much for the Australian specialists.  It was
unknown in the literature of medicine.  No case like it had ever been
reported.  It extended from my hands to my feet so that at times I was as
helpless as a child.  On occasion my hands were twice their natural size,
with seven dead and dying skins peeling off at the same time.  There were
times when my toe-nails, in twenty-four hours, grew as thick as they were
long.  After filing them off, inside another twenty-four hours they were
as thick as before.

The Australian specialists agreed that the malady was non-parasitic, and
that, therefore, it must be nervous.  It did not mend, and it was
impossible for me to continue the voyage.  The only way I could have
continued it would have been by being lashed in my bunk, for in my
helpless condition, unable to clutch with my hands, I could not have
moved about on a small rolling boat.  Also, I said to myself that while
there were many boats and many voyages, I had but one pair of hands and
one set of toe-nails.  Still further, I reasoned that in my own climate
of California I had always maintained a stable nervous equilibrium.  So
back I came.

Since my return I have completely recovered.  And I have found out what
was the matter with me.  I encountered a book by Lieutenant-Colonel
Charles E. Woodruff of the United States Army entitled “Effects of
Tropical Light on White Men.”  Then I knew.  Later, I met Colonel
Woodruff, and learned that he had been similarly afflicted.  Himself an
Army surgeon, seventeen Army surgeons sat on his case in the Philippines,
and, like the Australian specialists, confessed themselves beaten.  In
brief, I had a strong predisposition toward the tissue-destructiveness of
tropical light.  I was being torn to pieces by the ultra-violet rays just
as many experimenters with the X-ray have been torn to pieces.

In passing, I may mention that among the other afflictions that jointly
compelled the abandonment of the voyage, was one that is variously called
the healthy man’s disease, European Leprosy, and Biblical Leprosy.
Unlike True Leprosy, nothing is known of this mysterious malady.  No
doctor has ever claimed a cure for a case of it, though spontaneous cures
are recorded.  It comes, they know not how.  It is, they know not what.
It goes, they know not why.  Without the use of drugs, merely by living
in the wholesome California climate, my silvery skin vanished.  The only
hope the doctors had held out to me was a spontaneous cure, and such a
cure was mine.

A last word: the test of the voyage.  It is easy enough for me or any man
to say that it was enjoyable.  But there is a better witness, the one
woman who made it from beginning to end.  In hospital when I broke the
news to Charmian that I must go back to California, the tears welled into
her eyes.  For two days she was wrecked and broken by the knowledge that
the happy, happy voyage was abandoned.

      _April_ 7, 1911.


{268}  To point out that we of the _Snark_ are not a crowd of weaklings,
which might be concluded from our divers afflictions, I quote the
following, which I gleaned verbatim from the _Eugenie’s_ log and which
may be considered as a sample of Solomon Islands cruising:

                     Ulava, Thursday, March 12, 1908.

Boat went ashore in the morning.  Got two loads ivory nut, 4000 copra.
Skipper down with fever.

                      Ulava, Friday, March 13, 1908.

Buying nuts from bushmen, 1½ ton.  Mate and skipper down with fever.

                     Ulava, Saturday, March 14, 1908.

At noon hove up and proceeded with a very light E.N.E. wind for
Ngora-Ngora.  Anchored in 5 fathoms—shell and coral.  Mate down with

                   Ngora-Ngora, Sunday, March 15, 1908.

At daybreak found that the boy Bagua had died during the night, on
dysentery.  He was about 14 days sick.  At sunset, big N.W. squall.
(Second anchor ready)  Lasting one hour and 30 minutes.

                     At sea, Monday, March 16, 1908.

Set course for Sikiana at 4 P.M.  Wind broke off.  Heavy squalls during
the night.  Skipper down on dysentery, also one man.

                     At sea, Tuesday, March 17, 1908.

Skipper and 2 crew down on dysentery.  Mate fever.

                    At sea, Wednesday, March 18, 1908.

Big sea.  Lee-rail under water all the time.  Ship under reefed mainsail,
staysail, and inner jib.  Skipper and 3 men dysentery.  Mate fever.

                    At sea, Thursday, March 19, 1908.

Too thick to see anything.  Blowing a gale all the time.  Pump plugged up
and bailing with buckets.  Skipper and five boys down on dysentery.

                     At sea, Friday, March 20, 1908.

During night squalls with hurricane force.  Skipper and six men down on

                    At sea, Saturday, March 21, 1908.

Turned back from Sikiana.  Squalls all day with heavy rain and sea.
Skipper and best part of crew on dysentery.  Mate fever.

                                * * * * *

And so, day by day, with the majority of all on board prostrated, the
_Eugenie’s_ log goes on.  The only variety occurred on March 31, when the
mate came down with dysentery and the skipper was floored by fever.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Cruise of the Snark" ***

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