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Title: In the Track of the Trades - The Account of a Fourteen Thousand Mile Yachting Cruise - to the Hawaiis, Marquesas, Societies, Samoas and Fijis
Author: Freeman, Lewis R. (Lewis Ransome), 1878-1960
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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[Illustration: A QUIET INLET ON THE COAST OF SAMOA]



  IN THE
  TRACKS OF THE TRADES

  THE ACCOUNT OF A FOURTEEN THOUSAND
  MILE YACHTING CRUISE TO THE HAWAIIS,
  MARQUESAS, SOCIETIES, SAMOAS AND FIJIS


  BY

  LEWIS R. FREEMAN

  Author of "Many Fronts," "Stories of the Ships,"
  "Sea-Hounds," "To Kiel in
  the 'Hercules.'"


  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
  FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
  BY THE AUTHOR


  [Illustration]



  NEW YORK
  DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
  1920



  COPYRIGHT, 1920,
  BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.


  VAIL-BALLOU COMPANY
  BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK



     TO
     THE MEMORY OF
     'THE COMMODORE'
     THE LATE H. H. SINCLAIR



    "THE TRACKS OF THE TRADES"


    Take me back, take me back to the Tracks of the Trade!
      Let me wander again in the coco palms' shade,
    Where the drums of the ocean, in pulsating roar,
      Beat time for the waltz of the waves on the shore;
    Where sunlight and starlight and moonlight conspire
      To speed the gay hours on the Wings of Desire;
    Let me clamber again through the orchid-bright glade--
      Take me back, take me back to the Tracks of the Trade!

    Oh, the hot flame of sunset, the tremulous light
      When the afterglow fades to the velvet of night!
    The star-stencilled headland in blank silhouette
      Where the moonbeams are meshed in the flamboyant's net!
    Oh, the purple of midnight, the grey mists of dawn,
      And the amber flood after the darkness has gone!
    The slow-heaving ocean of gold-spangled jade,
      When the sun wakes the day in the Tracks of the Trade!

    Let my heart thrill again as the tom-tom's dull boom
      Floats out from the bush in the flower-fragrant gloom,
    And the shriek of the conches, the _hi-mi-ne's_ swell,
      Brings word of the feast in the depths of the dell.
    Lead my footsteps again to that forest crypt dim,
      Where firelight throws shadows on bosom and limb
    Of the billowing forms of the trim tropic maids,
      When the song wakes the dance in the Tracks of the Trades!

    Let my hands close again on the hard-kicking wheel,
      As the schooner romps off on a rollicking reel,
    To the humming of back-stay and sharp-slatting sail,
      And the hiss of the comber that smothers the rail.
    Oh, the cadenced lament of the chorusing shroud,
      As the spindrift sweeps aft in a feathery cloud!
    Oh, the storm-tumbled sea-ways traversed unafraid,
      As the squalls spin the spume down the Tracks of the Trade!

    Take me back, take me back to the Tracks of the Trade!
      For 'tis weary I am of the city's parade,
    Of the dust of the traffic, the grey cheerless skies,
      And the long lines of people with spiritless eyes.
    Take me back to my green sunny islands again,
      Away from this treadmill of sorrow and pain,
    Away from this tinsel and gilt masquerade--
      Let me live, let me die in the Tracks of the Trade!

    L. R. F.

    Pasadena,
    July, 1920.



  CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                     PAGE

      I SAN PEDRO TO HILO AND HONOLULU           1

     II HONOLULU TO TAIO-HAIE                   26

    III THE MARQUESAS TODAY                     52

     IV HUNTING IN THE MARQUESAS                72

      V THE PASSION PLAY AT UAHUKA              99

     VI TAIO-HAIE TO PAPEETE                   110

    VII CIRCLING TAHITI                        134

   VIII SOCIETY IN THE SOCIETIES               151

     IX THE SONG AND DANCE IN TAHITI           160

      X BY THE ABSINTHE ROUTE                  182

     XI PAPEETE TO PAGO PAGO                   195

    XII IN PAGO PAGO BAY                       212

   XIII SAMOAN CRICKET: FAUGA-SA
          V. PAGO PAGO                         232

    XIV A VISIT TO APIA                        246

     XV KAVA AND THE SIVA                      262

    XVI PAGO PAGO TO SUVA                      283

   XVII IN SUVA AND MBAU                       296

  XVIII "SHARKS"                               320

    XIX "HIS WONDERS TO PERFORM"               334

     XX SUVA TO HONOLULU                       357

    XXI HONOLULU TO SAN PEDRO                  368



  ILLUSTRATIONS


  A quiet inlet on the coast of Samoa         _Frontispiece_

                                                       PAGE

  _Lurline_ in drydock before sailing                     8

  "The Commodore laboriously squinted out his
  first sights"                                           9

  "Full-and-by"                                           9

  Waiohae Beach, Island of Hawaii                        20

  Hula dancer with Eukalele                              21

  "All of the images were covered with moss"             62

  "A hardened old offender who preferred white
  man to native meat"                                    63

  The best surviving example of Marquesan
  tattooing                                              68

  "Into it were thrown the bones of the victims
  after the feast was over"                              69

  "The part of Christ is taken by a native
  called Lurau"                                         102

  Marquesan mother and child                            103

  "Pontius Pilate has been played for twenty
  years by an old chief--a quondam cannibal"            108

  "Just in time to respond to his 'cue' in the
  John the Baptist tableau"                             109

  "Hatiheu, the most sublime combination
  of mountain, vale and sea that my eyes
  have ever rested on"                                  112

  A Marquesan fisherman of Hatiheu                      113

  Native woman washing on the beach,
  Tahiti                                                158

  A Mission bathing suit. Before the
  bath--and after                                       159

  The inevitable end of every South Sea
  trading schooner                                      200

  A Tahitian couple                                     201

  "A naval station at Pago Pago has placed
  the United States, strategically, in the
  strongest position in western Polynesia"              214

  Chief Tufeli in the uniform of a sergeant
  of _Fita-fitas_                                       215

  Faa-oo-pea, chieftainess of Pago Pago,
  making _kava_                                         222

  Seuka, _taupo_ of Pago Pago, illustrating
  a movement in the _Siva_                              223

  A Samoan house in the course of
  construction                                          226

  "Chief Tufeli came over for the express
  purpose of buying the yacht"                          227

  "Chief Mauga squared away to face the
  bowling of Chief Malatoba"                            236

  To-a, who made the best score for Pago
  Pago, facing the bowler                               237

  "Whirling and yelling like dervishes they
  made a circuit of the ground"                         244

  "A sinewy brown figure starts clambering
  up the tree"                                          245

  _Lurline_ at anchor in Bay of Apia, Samoa             250

  "The London Missionary Society steamer,
  _John Williams_, lay near us"                         251

  Maid of honour to the _Taupo_ of Apia                 258

  A Samoan sunset                                       259

  The sitting _Sivas_ are essentially dances
  of the arms                                           274

  "Never were seen such arms as in Samoa"               275

  Fanua, who danced the swimming _Siva_
  by the light of the phosphorescent waves              280

  Dancer with head knife                                281

  Forty years ago the Fijis were in a
  complete state of savagery                            298

  A Fijian head hunting canoe                           299

  "_Lurline's_ cutter finished a
  poor second"                                          304

  "Thakambau's great war canoe, over
  a hundred feet in length, formerly
  launched over human bodies"                           305

  Shark on the beach at Mbau                            324

  Fijian boys boxing                                    325

  Weaving the walls of a Fijian house                   342

  Interior of a Fijian house, showing
  how it is bound together with coco
  fibre                                                 343

  A Fijian warrior                                      362

  Reefing the mainsail                                  363

  Untying a reef in the mainsail                        363



IN THE TRACKS OF THE TRADES



IN THE TRACKS OF THE TRADES



CHAPTER I

SAN PEDRO TO HILO AND HONOLULU


The Weather Bureau, which for several weeks had been issuing bulletins
of the "Possibly Showers" order, came out unequivocally with "Rain" on
the morning of February 4th, and this, no less than the lead-coloured
curtain that veiled the Sierra Madres and the windy shimmers in
the tails of the clouds that went rushing across the zenith before
the gushing east wind, made it plain that the elements, not to be
outdone by our amiable friends, were getting together for a special
demonstration on their own account in honour of _Lurline's_ departure.
The nature of this elemental diversion developed in good time.

Personal good-byes began at the Pasadena station and continued down
through Los Angeles to the San Pedro quay. From there, out through
the inner harbour, bon voyages became general, and from the engineer
of the government dredge, who blew his whistle off with the force of
his farewell toots, to the deck hand on a collier who, in lieu of a
handkerchief, waved the shirt he was washing, everybody took a hand in
the parting demonstration.

Rounding the jetty opposite Deadman's Island, _Lurline_ was sighted
lying a half mile to the westward in the backsweep of the outer bay.
The crew stood at attention as the Commodore, with a score or more
of friends who had come off for a final farewell, stepped aboard,
immediately to turn to stowing the small mountain of hand luggage
which had come off with the launch. Soon visitors began arriving
from the other yachts of the South Coast fleet, and these, reinforced
by several press representatives and a number of shore visitors from
San Pedro, swelled the farewell party to a size that taxed the standing
room capacity of quarter deck and cabin to the utmost.

Just before the sailing hour arrived presentation was made to the
Commodore of a large silver loving cup, and this being filled, each
visitor, ere he stepped down the gangway, proposed some appropriate
toast and drank to a prosperous voyage and safe return.

Meanwhile the sail covers had been removed and the stops cast off, and
as the last of the visitors stepped back aboard their waiting launches,
all hands tailed on to the main throat and peak halyards and the big
sail was smartly hoisted and swayed to place. Foresail, forestay-sail
and jib followed. Finally the anchor, clinging tenaciously to the last
California mud it was destined to hook its flukes into for many months,
was broken out, and, close-hauled on the starboard tack to a light
breeze, _Lurline_ swung off past the breakwater and out of the harbour.

At four o'clock Point Firmin Light, distant five miles, bore N.W. by
W., and at the same hour the barometer, which had risen rapidly since
noon, registered 30.40, about the normal for the southern California
coast. The gentle southerly breeze cleared the western sky toward
evening and a warm hued sunset blazed out in defiance of the
threatening signs of the morning. The yacht slipped easily through
the light swell of the channel, her regular curtesies serving only to
spangle her glossy sides with sparkling drops of brine and to
punctuate her wake at even intervals with swelling knots of foam
like the marks on a trailed sounding line.

"Fairweather sunset," said the mate; "but--" and he finished by shaking
his head dubiously and proceeding to give orders for swinging the boats
inboard and adding extra lashings to the spare spars and water-butts on
the forward deck.

Early in the first watch, and not long after the thin wisp of a new
moon had slipped down behind the jagged peaks of Catalina, the wind
hauled suddenly to the southeast. Blowing with steadily increasing
force, it drove a heavy pall of sooty clouds before it. This, quickly
spreading out across the sky, rendered the night so dark that, beyond
the ghostly reflections from the binnacle lamps, nothing was visible
save the phosphorescent crests of the rapidly rising seas. With this
slant of wind the best that we could do on the starboard tack was dead
east, and this direction was held until the imminent loom of Point San
Juan, and a not-overly-distant roar of breakers, warned us to put about
and head off southwesterly between San Clemente and Catalina.

At midnight the barometer was well below 30, and the wind and sea were
still rising. The mainsail and foresail were single reefed when the
watch came on deck, and while sail was being shortened a heavy sea
came aboard just forward of the beam and crashed through the galley
skylight. The water rushed in with the roar of a miniature Niagara, but
beyond washing the Japanese cook off the transom on which he had
composed himself for sleep and bouncing him against the stove, no
serious harm was done.

At two in the morning, with no abatement of force, the wind went
back to S.S.W., and with Clemente rising darkly ahead the yacht was
again put about. The barometer was down to 29.80, and the half-gale
that met us as we came out from under the lee of the island quickly
made it evident that further shortening of sail was imperative. The
watch was called, and with no little difficulty two more reefs were
tied in the mainsail, bringing it down almost to the proportions of
a storm trysail. The foreboom was being hauled amidships preparatory
to close-reefing the foresail, when a solid wall of green water came
combing over the port bow and swept the deck like an avalanche. One
of the sailors--Gus, a big Swede--who had been bracing a foot against
the lee rail, lost his balance in the sudden lurch and, missing a
frantic clutch at a shroud, went over the side. A rush was made
for the life-buoys, but, before one could be thrown over, the lost
man reappeared, coolly drawing himself in, hand over hand, on the
foresheet, a bight of which he had carried with him in his fall.

"_Mein Gott_, der rain he stop not yet, _hein_!" was his only comment
as he returned to the interrupted attack on the flopping foreboom.
One would have thought that he had been gone ten hours instead of ten
seconds.

After subduing and triple-reefing the threshing foresail the watch
went below, but only to be called again almost immediately to take the
bonnet out of the staysail, a measure made necessary by the fierce
southwesterly squalls which kept winding into the now fully developed
"sou'easter." Finally, as the storm showed no signs of abating, the
forestay-sail was hauled to windward and, head-reaching, the yacht
made good weather of the last hours of the night.

Day broke, cold and cloudy, and showed the bare, brown, rounded hills
of Clemente ten miles distant on the starboard quarter. Towering,
weighty seas, unbroken now by the islands, came charging up out of
the southwest in billowing ranks, but so buoyant was the schooner
under her shortened sail that the grey light of the morning showed the
brine of the last wave that had swept her decks before she was put to
head-reaching spangled in frost-like _repouseé_ along the lee scuppers.
Toward midday the wind shifted suddenly to northwest, and though still
blowing a gale it was deemed best to risk a little more sail in an
endeavour to get away from the islands before night closed down again.
Accordingly, the reefs were shaken out of foresail and forestay-sail,
and under these and a close-reefed mainsail twenty-four miles were
run off in the afternoon watch. At four o'clock, when the barometer
touched its minimum of 29.60, a nasty swell from the northeast, due to
another shifting of the wind, began to make itself felt, and, though
nothing carried away, the vicious twist of the cross surges made so bad
a seaway that we were forced to reef down again and ride out the night
head-reaching in a southwesterly direction.

By morning of the 6th the gale had blown itself out, and at the change
of watch all the reefs were untied and the yacht appeared under all
plain lower sail for the first time since the evening of departure.
Toward noon the clouds began to break up and let filter through
streaks of pale sunlight to dapple the olive-green hollows of the sea
with vagrant patches of golden yellow. The chill of the air gradually
melted away as the day advanced, and the opportunity to open
skylights and portholes was warmly welcomed by the Mater and
Claribel who had been kept to the cabin for nearly two days. A couple
of the light sails were set at noon and carried until a heavy squall,
working around from the northwest just before dark, was responsible
for sending them down by the run. The runs to noon of the 5th and 6th,
respectively, were sixty-three and ninety miles, in a course that
approximated W.S.W.

Fair weather and light breezes were taken advantage of on the morning
of the 7th to install a much-needed safety device in the form of a wire
rail run all the way round the yacht at a height of eighteen inches
above the main rail, a precaution the imperative necessity of which had
been shown when one of the sailors had been thrown overboard during
the storm. The yacht's rail, only two feet in height, while of some
protection at the bows and stern, was almost useless amidships, where
the deckhouse, separated from it by only a narrow passage, rose to an
equal height. Three-quarter inch steel stanchions were set at intervals
of eight feet along the rail, and through these a quarter-inch wire
cable was run. The stanchions were fastened by a bolt on the under side
of the rail in such a manner as to be easily removed, thus permitting
the whole affair to be expeditiously taken down and stowed while in
port. This simple and inexpensive precaution proved of incalculable
value in insuring the safety of the decks on stormy nights, a
usefulness which was put to the test many times in the course of the
months that followed.

Clearing skies and a smoothing sea on the third day out brought the
Mater and Claribel--two pathetic bundles of rugs--up on deck, where the
sun and fresh air began the slow task of reviving in them an interest
in life. All day they drooped in hollow-eyed wretchedness with their
white faces turned toward the paradise of a terra firma beyond the
eastern horizon which every moment was receding farther away. Through
all of the bright noontide and the sparkling afternoon they kept their
ceaseless vigil, and even when twilight came, with a freshening wind
and heavier seas, they still refused to go below. Day and night were
all the same to them now, they said. An hour later a black-visaged
squall came boring down out of the night ahead, and the raindrops and
the driving spray began to drum a duet to the accompaniment of the
rising blasts of the wind.

"You'll be shivering with cold before long if you stay here,"
admonished the Commodore gently; "best get up and go below now."

"There is no heat or cold any more," one muttered listlessly, and they
both drew their rugs closer and curled the tighter into the curve of
the transoms.

A high-headed maverick of a comber came crashing over the weather rail
and swept the muffled figures into a vortex of spinning foam where a
ton of green water washed about the cockpit. We sprang to help them,
but they only shuddered resignedly back into the wash of the clearing
scuppers and disdained to move.

"You're both soaking wet," protested the Commodore; "please go below
now and get into some dry clothes."

"There is no wet nor dry any more," bubbled the starboard bundle; "let
us alone."

"A wave like that last one has been known to kill a strong man,"
ventured the Commodore weakly, at his wit's end for an argument that
would have some effect. "Here's another coming now. Please--"

"There is no life nor death any more," broke in a sputter from the port
bundle; "and even if there was we wouldn't--"

We picked up the two dripping bundles and bore them gently below just
as a second comber, running wildly amuck, banged its head off against
the rail and turned the cockpit into another maelstrom.

Save for shortening periods of introspective languor induced by whiffs
from the galley or the clink of dishes, matters were better the next
day, and the day following the sufferers were sufficiently revived
to begin unpacking and--as they called it--"putting things trig and
shipshape below." After that things began falling into the even
routine which, save for its occasional disturbance in stormy weather,
characterized our life at sea to the end of the voyage. But there never
came a time when, for the Mater and Claribel, the first three or four
days out of port did not hold the menace of that chaotic state in which
there was no night or day, heat or cold, wetness or dryness, and in
which if there was to have been a choosing between life and death the
latter would have been the less bitter portion. A Pacific yachting
cruise is not all an idyllic pleasaunce to the _mal-de-mer_ subject, for
the ocean which has not been pacific for many hours at a time since
the day it was discovered and christened does not temper its moods
for the small craft.

[Illustration: _Lurline_ IN DRYDOCK BEFORE
SAILING]

[Illustration: "THE COMMODORE LABORIOUSLY
SQUINTED OUT HIS FIRST SIGHTS"]

[Illustration: "FULL-AND-BY"]

In spite of restricted quarters, the days which followed seemed never
long enough to do all we laid out for them. The Commodore was the
busiest of us. To him it became evident before we were fairly out of
sight of land that his pleasure cruise was going to have to be enjoyed
to the accompaniment of a lot of hard work, for _Lurline's_ former
sailing master--whom he had shipped as mate and whom he subsequently
let go in Honolulu--was absolutely incompetent as a navigator and only
fairly so in the actual sailing of the yacht. This came as a very
disconcerting surprise, for the man had been well recommended, and
his incompetence meant that all of the work--to say nothing of the
responsibility--of navigating the yacht through some of the stormiest
and worst charted latitudes of the Seven Seas was to be thrown on the
Commodore, whose deep-sea sailoring had been confined to a voyage
around the Horn on a clipper when he was in his teens.

I have still a vivid mind picture of the Commodore when, after he had
laboriously squinted out his first sights and was ready to try to
figure the position of the yacht, he disappeared into his cabin behind
an armful of tables and books on navigation and slammed and locked the
door. The iterated luncheon call elicited only a grunt of impatience
from the depths of the sanctum, and likewise the summons to tea and
dinner. The Mater's timid knocking at bedtime brought no answer at all,
and we were gathered in perplexed colloquy on deck as to what the next
move would be, when a booming "Got it!" thundered out from the locked
cabin, and a moment later the door was burst open by a pajama-clad
figure, waving a slip of paper above its towel-bound head.

"Observation checks Dead-reckoning at last," cried the Commodore. "Give
me some dinner."

Between mouthfuls he explained to us that the first time he worked
out the sights they showed the yacht to be somewhere in Tibet. All
the rest of the morning she kept turning up in various parts of Asia,
Africa, Australia and Europe, the only time she was in the water being
after a reckoning which gave the latitude and longitude of Victoria
Nyanza. Shortly after noon the figuring in of some allowances hitherto
neglected jumped the elusive craft into the Western Hemisphere, but as
near as might be to a perch on the summit of Aconcagua. Tea time had
her in the Klondike, and several other Canadian points were visited
before Nebraska was reached at the call for dinner. An hour later she
was actually in the Pacific, but floundering helplessly off the coast
of Peru, from where she worked north in an encouraging fashion until a
sudden jump landed her in the Colorado desert. She was perilously near
being stranded on Catalina at the end of the second dog-watch, and it
was the reckoning after this one--magnetic variation and a few other
essentials being finally included--that checked with the Dead-reckoning
and put the poor wanderer where she belonged. Day by day, navigation
became simpler work after that titanic struggle, until, the morning we
sighted the island of Hawaii, I saw the Commodore take and work out in
ten minutes an observation which told him in which direction the
harbour of Hilo was located.

Besides navigating and directing the sailing of the yacht, the
Commodore always stood one of the night watches and at other times
held himself ready to appear on deck at any emergency. It was a stiff
undertaking, having suddenly to face the prospect of eight or ten
months of day and night work on a small schooner in the treacherous
South Pacific; but the Commodore buckled down to it with the enthusiasm
of a youngster and carried it through with flying colours, as will be
seen.

My own work was confined to the nominal duties of Volunteer Weather
Observer for the U. S. Hydrographic Office,--a branch of the Bureau
of Equipment of the Navy--occasional tricks at the wheel, and falling
into line now and then at the tail of a sheet or halyard when "all
hands and the cook" failed to muster sufficient power amongst them.
As Weather Observer I became for eight months a small cog in the very
comprehensive system by which the Hydrographic Office is gathering data
on currents, winds, clouds, waves, storms, temperatures, etc., from
all of the sailed-in sea-ways of the world to assist in perfecting
its monthly weather charts on which--as the result of the accumulated
observations of many years--the probable meteorological conditions
likely to prevail at any given point are recorded. Twice a day I took
the temperature of the air and water, recorded the direction and
force of the wind--the latter on a scale of 1 to 10, from a calm to
a full gale--the set and height of the seas, and on a circular chart
of the heavens indicated which of the various kinds of clouds--nimbus,
cirrus, cumulus, etc.--prevailed at the time in each of the twelve
divisions into which it was divided. The difference between the
position of the yacht by Dead-reckoning--that is, figured by the log
and compass--and the position by Observation gave the direction
and speed of the ocean current at that point. These data were set
down in a little booklet, containing a page for each day of the month,
which, when filled, was mailed to the San Francisco branch of the
Hydrographic Office. (The monthly weather charts for the Pacific, with
which we had been supplied through the courtesy of this office, proved
most valuable for those latitudes which were crossed by regular trade
routes, and in which, as a consequence, comprehensive observations
extending over some years had been taken; but in the little-sailed
latitudes of the South Pacific--many stretches of which are still
unploughed by a keel for years at a time--they were, naturally,
fragmentary and of little practical use.)

We often have been asked if time did not hang very heavily on our hands
in the long, unbroken fifteen, twenty and even thirty day intervals
between ports. Perhaps this will be as good a place as any to answer
that question. For the Commodore and myself I will register an emphatic
"No," while a partial list of the activities of the ladies, will, I
think, answer for the balance of the passengers.

In comparison with Claribel, once those dreadful spells of post-departure
indisposition had trailed away into bad memories, every one on the
yacht--not excepting the cook and the Commodore--was a drone and
loafer. Her quenchless energy found expression in musical, linguistic,
literary, culinary and manual activities throughout the voyage. A guitar
and a banjo held the boards to Hawaii, where a _eukelele_ was
annexed and mastered, after which, group by group and island by island,
every form of native musical instrument from hollow-tree tom-toms and
war conches to coco shell rattles and shark's hide tambourines was
taken up in turn and blown, beaten, shaken or twanged into yielding
its full capacity of soul-stirring harmony. Most of these instruments
she even rebuilt or imitated with good success. Vocally (Claribel has
a really fine voice) simple ballads of the "tenderness-and-pathos,
pull-at-the-heart-strings" type were favoured until our arrival at
Hilo, where "Aloha-oe" and various swinging _hulas_ had their turn;
these giving way to plaintive Marquesan sonatas, rollicking Tahitian
_himines,_ lilting Samoan serenades and booming Fijian war-chants,
as, one after another, these various isles of enchantment were put
behind us. Her terpsichorean achievements were equally varied and
multitudinous, for there were few poses in the primer postures of the
_hula-hula_ and the _siva-siva_ that she did not imitate and embroider
upon in a manner to awaken the envy of the nimble Fof-iti, the
_première danseuse_ of the court of King Pomare, or even of the sinuous
Seuka, the peerless _taupo_ who led the dance in the thatch palace of
Chief Mauga at Pago-Pago.

When I mention that in addition to these things the indefatigable
Claribel also set up a "native crafts" shop in the starboard lifeboat,
where she produced wooden gods, shark-tooth necklaces, tortoise-shell
combs (genuine shell), war clubs and axes, carved coco shells, tappa
cloth and similar "tourist" curios of a character to defy detection
(by us) and at a cost (figuring her time as worth nothing) effectively
to defy native competition; that she read Goethe and Heine (complete)
in German, and all of the 200 or more volumes in the yacht's library,
including several works on navigation, ship-building and astronomy, as
well; that she made herself a dozen or more tropical dresses (not
native, but full-sized garments); that she mastered the technique of
my typewriter and wrote a voluminous journal upon it, manifolding some
scores of copies to send to friends at home; that she played the
gramophone for us whenever the yacht was steady enough to allow that
sensitive instrument to keep an even keel;--when I mention all of
these various spheres of activity in which Claribel circulated, and
then admit that I have still left the list incomplete for want of
space, it will readily be seen that time had little chance to hang
heavily on her nimble hands and that she had scant opportunity to
learn the meaning of that hackneyed term, "the monotony of the voyage."

The Mater, when she was not being whirled in the back-wash of the
comet-like wake of Claribel's multudinous activities, spent her time
in quiet dignity with knitting or embroidery, reading and solitaire;
but when the demon of _ennui_ threatened to raise its Gorgon head in
the form of an interval of idleness, the both of them would turn to
and write "items of interest" for the "Ladies' Log," a diurnal record
of feminine _impressions de voyage_ which spared no one in the cabin,
galley or fo'c'sl'--not even the editors themselves--in its trenchant
columns of comment. I shall have occasion, doubtless, not infrequently
to quote from its scintillant pages.

On the run from San Pedro to Hawaii our course was at first directed
somewhat more southerly than the straight one to Hilo in the hope of
the sooner intercepting the Northeast Trades, which, according to the
government weather charts, should ordinarily be met with somewhere in
the vicinity of the 27th parallel. During the morning watch of the 8th
our expectations appeared to be realized. Just as the rising sun broke
through a shoal of silver clouds a crackling breeze from the E.N.E.
came humming over the taffrail, and, heeling the yacht over until the
hissing brine curled off by her forefoot kissed the starboard rail,
sent her spinning through the water at a good ten-knot gait.

"Northeast Trades!" chuckled the starboard watch to the port watch as
the latter came on deck; "Northeast Trades--cheer up, the Hilo girls
have got the tow-line!"

"Northeast Trades--now for a big day's run!" bellowed the mate to the
Commodore, as he ordered the kites run up and the backstays set and
tautened; and "Northeast Trades!" mused the cook to the bacon; and
"Northeast Trades" chirped the ladies to their mirrors; and "Northeast
Trades" hummed the sails to the sheets and the halyards to the shrouds.
The air was vibrant with the good news, the sea was a-dance because of
it, and the sun, when he awoke to a full realization of the import of
what was on, broke into a smile so expansive and warm that the hovering
mists of the morning took up their tents and hurried away.

This felicitous state of affairs lasted until eight o'clock, when the
wind veered around through east and south, finally to settle itself
comfortably so near S.S.W. that it kept the headsails flapping and the
mainsails a-shiver at the mast to hold the yacht's head up to W.S.W.,
a good two points north of a course which, normally, we should have
sailed "wing-and-wing." And that was the last we saw of the
much-vaunted Northeast Trades until, five months afterwards on the
run back to Hawaii from Fiji, they met us at the equator and headed
us all the way to Honolulu.

For the remainder of the run the breeze, except in occasional squalls,
blew steadily and with moderate force from all points between southeast
and southwest. Several times, for a few hours at a stretch, it hauled
around as far as W.S.W., and even west, on which occasions the booms
were jibed to port and a few miles of the much-needed southing
run off. A half dozen times we ran free for an hour or two when a
favourable slant of wind offered, but oftener it was "full-and-by," or
"by-the-wind," with the booms almost amidships in an endeavour to steal
the last fraction of a point from the obstinate turncoat of a wind.
Most of the time the yacht was too close to the wind to admit of the
advantageous use of the main topmast staysail, but either our large or
small sail of that class, as well as the club and jib topsails, were
used whenever opportunity offered.

Runs of close to 190 miles were made on the 9th, 13th and 14th, and
on the 19th the best run of the passage, 198 miles, was logged. On
the 16th and 21st frequent squalls and light baffling airs were
responsible for the shortest runs, fifty-seven and seventy-seven miles
respectively. The average for the other days was in the vicinity of
130 miles. The general direction of the currents encountered was
unfavourable, the prevailing one, which had a northeasterly set of
about ten miles a day, having apparently hooked up with the
contrary winds to cut down our southing and westing. Long before
entering the torrid zone, which was done on the night of the 19th,
the weather in its fitful uncertainty as well as in its mildness,
savoured strongly of the tropics. There was no fog nor even the
shortest periods in which the sky was completely overcast. There was
only one occasion when the zenith was sufficiently obscured to make a
latitude sight impossible at noonday, and no day whose morning was too
cloudy for a longitude observation but which made amends with a clear
afternoon.

No heavy seas were encountered after the storm of the first two days
had been left astern. This was principally due to the fact that the
constantly shifting wind never blew up a sea from one direction
before it veered off to another and beat it down again. The resulting
succession of cross swells was annoying, but never heavy enough really
to be troublesome. The temperature of the water increased slowly but
with almost absolute regularity as we approached the lower latitudes,
while that of the air, though likewise increasing, was more variable,
tending to jump up and down incessantly in the intervals of sunshine
and squalls.

On the morning of the 15th a striking and unusual arrangement of clouds
on the western horizon was responsible for no small excitement. A dull,
dark line of stratus, hanging low above the water, was topped by a
vivid, clean-lined triangle of frosty-white cirro-cumulus, producing
an effect so wonderfully like a snow-capped mountain that the mate,
without stopping to reflect that our position at noon of the previous
day left us still almost a thousand miles from Hawaii, the nearest
charted point where even so much as a rock pushed above the bosom of
the Pacific, burst forth with a lusty cry of "Land on the starboard
bow!" The look the Commodore gave the mate when, aroused from one of
his short spells of sleep, he rushed on deck to discover this nebulous
"landfall," was more eloquent than vocal expression. It was my
impression that nothing was said, but I find that the "Ladies' Log"
records that "Some words passed between the officers, most of them
going in one direction." So it is just possible that the Commodore
was not able to restrain his pent-up feelings after all.

The next day Claribel set to music a verse of Henry Lawson, the New
Zealand poet, which goes something like this:

    For the Southeast lands are dread lands
      To the sailor in the shrouds,
    When the low clouds loom like headlands,
      And the headlands blur like clouds;

choosing the time of the mate's watch to come out upon the quarter deck
and practise it. Wolfe, blushing furiously, retreated to the lee of
the foresail for shelter, not to reappear until the watch was called
at noon. He could never see a white cloud near the horizon after that
without looking ashamed, which was very awkward in the tropics where it
was cloudy all the time; yet our real landfall came in form so similar
to the cloud island which had so completely deceived that functionary
a week previously that every one--including the Commodore--gazed,
silent and mistrustful, and waited for some one else to shout the news.
Our Dead-reckoning showed us to be a hundred miles off shore at
daybreak, and it seemed impossible that even the mountain tops could
show so clearly at so great a distance. But as the morning sun gained
strength the opaque sheets of strati along the horizon began to thin,
and gradually out of the dissolving mists, clear as cut alabaster
against the brilliant turquoise of the tropic sky, the funicular cone
of a great snow-capped volcano took unmistakable shape, and we knew it
for the mighty Mauna Kea, famous as one of the loftiest island mountain
peaks in the world.

"Could we make Hilo by dark?" was now the question. The mate answered
in the negative and advised proceeding under half sail and standing
off-and-on till daybreak. But the Commodore, noting the strengthening
breeze which since midnight had been working back into the east where
it belonged, deemed the effort worth making, and accordingly ordered
the sheets slacked off and more sail set. Up fluttered the big main
topmast staysail, up the jib topsail and the flying jib, and up the
main and fore gaff-topsails, every one of them drawing beautifully in
the steady breeze that came gushing over the starboard quarter, and
each after the other, as it was hoisted and filled, doing its full
measure of work in forcing the yacht's lee rail deeper into the yeasty
run of foam churned up by her lunging bows and driving her faster
toward her goal.

When the great turtle-backed Mauna Loa, lying to the south of and
beyond Mauna Kea, was sighted at noon we had been bowling along for
three hours at a gait that had brought the black lava belts under the
snowline above the horizon, and below these, still dim and indistinct
as the figures on ancient tapestry, the perspectives of the gently
undulating lower reaches of the windward slope of the largest of the
Hawaiian Islands.

All through the afternoon watch the wind freshened until, from an
average of ten knots in the morning, we increased to eleven in each
of the hours from twelve to two, ran just over twelve knots from
two to three, and but slightly under thirteen from three to four.
Fortunately such sea as was running was with us, and though there was
a constant smoke of spray about the bows, and though the sails, filled
hard as sand bags, strained on the masts till the backstays sang like
over-strung fiddles, no green water came aboard and nothing carried
away.

At four-thirty the masts of ships were sighted a couple of points off
the port bow, and taking in the light sails we headed up for what we
knew must be Hilo harbour. Ten minutes after the course was altered
a black squall which had been chasing the yacht passed astern of her
and broke upon the land, its course being as clearly traceable across
the velvet verdance of the rippling cane fields as across the heavens.
Down the coast it raced us, gradually passing inland and leaving behind
it a wake of freshness that glistened like a green satin ribbon in
the last rays of the sun that was setting behind a shoulder of the
towering Mauna Kea. There are several experiences in life that mark
with indelible impression the pages of memory, but none to compare with
the sensations that throng upon one at his first close-in sight of a
tropical island.

[Illustration: WAIOHAE BEACH, ISLAND OF HAWAII]

[Illustration: HULA DANCER WITH EUKALELE]

As the yacht stood into the entrance of Hilo harbour, which is little
more than an open roadstead partially protected by the submerged
Broom Reef, the wind hauled to the south and several short tacks
were necessary to make a favourable anchorage that offered a couple
of cables' length to the landward of a big 12,000-ton steamer of the
American-Hawaiian fleet which was loading sugar. The anchor was let go
in seven fathoms of water at a few minutes before six o'clock, the log,
which had been taken in at the entrance of the harbour, registering
2,430 miles from San Pedro breakwater.

       *       *       *       *       *

The praises of Hilo itself, of its kind and hospitable people, its
unique and picturesque Japanese quarter, its avenues of palms and
mangoes and its streams and waterfalls, have been sung so often and
so well that I reluctantly forego more than the briefest mention
here. Further along on the cruise there were occasions when we met
with more sumptuous entertainment, saw harbours more picturesque and
better protected, and mountains clothed in an even more reckless riot
of tropical vegetation; but we found no place that ever seriously
rivalled Hilo for first place in our hearts. It was our first love;
our first tropical experience; the gateway to those mystical latitudes
of enchantment, the South Pacific. During the ten days which _Lurline_
lay in Hilo Bay visits were made to Kilauea, the largest active volcano
in the world, to the peerless Onomea Gulch and to several interesting
sugar mills and plantations. Our stay was a continuous round of _luaus_
or native feasts, luncheons, dinners, teas and drives. On the yacht we
evening of fireworks and music, and an afternoon sail, the latter event
being recorded in the irreverent "Ladies' Log" as a "Mal de Mer Party."

Early in the afternoon of the 26th two of the sailors, pulling ashore
to bring off some visitors, ran into a nasty combination of surf and
tide rip at the bar of the Wiluki River and upset. One of the men was
caught under the boat, and but for the timely assistance of a Japanese
who had been fishing from his sampan nearby, would undoubtedly have
been drowned. While the plucky Jap was endeavouring to secure the
painter of the overturned boat, his sampan drifted inside the breakers
and was on the verge of being itself upset when rescued by a tug sent
out from the landing stage.

At four A. M. of March 2nd anchor was tripped and sail made for the run
to Honolulu. The wind at first was light and baffling, as a result of
which but twenty-one miles up the coast of the island were run off by
noon. After passing Alea Point, however, the change of course made it
possible to slack off the sheets, and under all plain lower sail the
yacht bowled along at a nine-knot gait until well after dark. For the
next three or four hours heavy squalls were encountered, but midnight
showed a clear sky, with the opaque mass of Maui, looming darkly,
abeam to starboard. This big island, the second in size of the Hawaiian
group, is famous for its extinct volcano of Haleakala, the crater of
which, ten miles in diameter and with rims that rise in places to an
altitude of 10,000 feet, is believed to be the largest that has existed
in any era of the world's geological history.

Morning of the 3rd showed the gaunt, forbidding cliffs of Molokai on
the port beam, and our glasses readily located the spot where, shut in
by unscalable rock walls behind and cut off by cordons of breakers in
front, the unfortunate inhabitants of the leper settlement of Kalaupapa
drag out their sad existences.

The island of Oahu was sighted at nine, and shortly afterward we
headed into Molokai Channel, said to be one of the deepest places in
the Pacific Ocean, and, in the matter of baffling winds and waves and
currents, undoubtedly one of the most treacherous and uncertain, as we
were to learn on the return voyage. A strong breeze increased to a half
gale by noon, and under double-reefed main and foresails the yacht made
not any too good weather of it in the vicious cross tumble of waters
that assailed her. About noon the smooth, round summit of Coco Head
began to peer above the foam-tipped crests of the in-racing seas, and
an hour later the sharp, incisive outline of Diamond Head showed clear
against the northeastern skyline. As we brought its tall lighthouse
abeam the beach and reef of Waikiki, with rows of white hotels and
bungalows, and the odd looking crater of the Punchbowl tilted above
Honolulu in the background, began to open up beyond. The Jack at the
fore brought the pilot boat, rowed by a crew of stalwart, bare-chested
Kanakas, out from the Head through a tortuous passage in the Reef, and,
watching his chance, the pilot leapt to a footing on the ladder and
clambered aboard without absorbing so much as a drop of the swinging
comber which at the same instant swept and half swamped his plunging
cutter.

Our next three miles to the entrance of Honolulu Harbour was over the
regular track of the transpacific liners, and the unfolding panorama,
like the unrolling of an ever-changing piece of rich Oriental brocade,
has furnished the inspiration for descriptions,--good, bad and
indifferent,--by every traveller not abashed by its beauty and grandeur
who has sailed that way since the time of Cook. I throw up my hands
and admit the futility of adequate description at the outset; but none
the less eagerly love to turn back the pages of memory to a
picture--blurred and impressionistic in detail, but unfading in the
brilliancy of its colours--of that leeward stretch of Oahu between
Diamond Head and Honolulu as it appeared on that gusty afternoon
of our first arrival, a harmony in blues and greens--the sombre indigo
of the cloud-shadowed sea, the lapis-lazuli above the coils of the
hidden reefs, the sheeny verdancy of the palms and bananas along the
foreshore, the _verte emaraude_ of the slope up to where Tantalus and
the Pali were lost in their crowns of cumulus and nimbus; and above
all the transparent azure of the tropic sky.

The pilot took _Lurline_ in through the narrow reef which constitutes
the entrance to Honolulu Harbour under foresail and jib, handling her
with consummate skill in the maze of cross currents and eddies which
make the passage a dangerous one even for steamers. Immediately on
gaining still water we were boarded by the harbour-master, who moored
us neatly and expeditiously in a natural slip in the reef called
"Rotten Row," scarce a cable's length from the docks of the Pacific
Mail and the Australian liners. Here the yacht lay for three weeks,
provisioning and refitting for the arduous months ahead in some of
the almost unsailed corners of the South Pacific, while we--the Mater,
Claribel, the Commodore and myself--lived ashore, enjoying to our
utmost the hospitality of the gayest, richest, loveliest and most
fascinating of all the Pacific island capitals.



CHAPTER II

HONOLULU TO TAIO-HAIE


With 2,000 miles of salt water stretching between its windward shores
and the western coast of North America, with twice that distance
separating it from Asia, and with more or less open water rolling
limitlessly away to the Arctic and the Antarctic, it is only natural
that Hawaii should harbour a race of sea-loving people. A hundred years
ago the Hawaiians, bred true to their Samoan progenitors, fearlessly
embarked in their sliver-like, cinnet-sewed canoes on voyages that
today would be deemed hazardous for hundred-ton schooners; and a half
century or more back they were hailed throughout the Seven Seas as the
most daring whalers that ever drove lances or hurled harpoons. So in
assuming at the beginning of this century the title of "The Yachting
Centre of the Pacific," Hawaii is not attaining to a new distinction,
but merely claiming in a modernized form a heritage of ancient days.

Honolulu, judged by the "timber and lines" of the men behind the sport
there, is the peer of any yachting centre in the world, and the Royal
Hawaiian Yacht Club is composed of as clean-cut, whole-souled a lot of
gentlemen and sportsmen as one will meet east or west, north or south,
in whatever country or under whatever burgee.

Kaleakaua, last king of the Hawaiians, was the first commodore of the
yacht club, and at the time of our visit the late Prince Cupid, the
Territory's representative in Washington and once in line of succession
to the throne, was an active member. And only in the Yacht Club, of all
Hawaiian organizations, have royalist and reactionary met on terms of
frank and open friendship. The memories of the stirring days of the
revolution are dimmed by the mists of more than a score of years, but
still clear and distinct in island society is drawn the line of
demarcation between the ever-loyal one-time adherents of Kaleakaua and
those who were active in, or in sympathy with, his overthrow. Yet with
the yachtsmen, even in the days of the by-no-means bloodless revolution,
animosities, political, social and personal, were ever left ashore, and
one saw leaders of the rival factions bending their backs and chorusing
together as they broke out the same anchor, or, shoulder to shoulder
and foot to foot, swayed up the same mainsail.

One of the stock stories they tell you at the yacht club is of an
incident which occurred back in the days immediately preceding the
revolution, a time when rumours of plots flew thick and fast and
royalist and republican passed each other in highway and byway with
distrustful sidelong glances, each with the fingers of his left hand
raised to his hat in courteous salutation and the fingers of his
right hand twitching on the butt of the stubby "forty-four" in his
hip pocket. It chanced at this time that Sanford B. Dole, prominent
from boyhood in island affairs and then at the head of the conspiracy
to overthrow the monarchy, and Clarence McFarlane, brother of the
King's Master of Ceremonies and a staunch upholder of the throne,
were sailing mates on the old _Aloha_, a trim forty-foot sloop
designed and built by Fife and brought out to the Islands on the deck
of a sailing ship by way of the Horn. On the occasion in question
_Aloha_ had just cleared the passage and sheets were being slacked
away for the run before the blustering Northeast Trade down to Maui.
A sudden lurch of the boat caused Dole to lose his hitch on the bit,
the sheet was jerked from his hand, and in lunging forward to regain
his hold his patriarchal beard--nearly two feet in length and then,
as now, his most distinguishing feature--whisked into the block and
started to wind upon the whirling sheave. Slammed to the deck and
in imminent danger of serious injury the moment his chin met the
block, Dole's most frantic efforts had hardly more than checked the
run of the sheet, when McFarlane leaped forward, jammed his limp
fingers in above the sheave, and at the expense of a badly lacerated
hand stopped its deadly rotation until Lorrin Thurston, at the wheel,
brought the yacht's head to the wind and put an end to the danger.
Two days later the revolution began which made Dole President,
Thurston Minister to Washington, and left McFarlane and the rest
of the royalists, politically, in obscurity. Yet these three still
sail together now and then, and during our stay in Honolulu we of
_Lurline_, both ashore and afloat, enjoyed their joint yachting
reminiscences on many memorable occasions.

To read over a membership list of the Royal Hawaiian Yacht Club from
its early days is to con a roster of the men who have made Hawaii
what it is; and not a man who has held the tiller of the Insular ship
of state and guided it through the storms that have threatened to
engulf it so often during the last three decades but has owed
something of the steadiness of his head and hand to the training of
his yachting days.

_Gentlemen of the Royal Hawaiian Yacht Club, I salute you! Here's to
your summer seas, and your summer winds, and your summer skies,
and the summer in your hearts. May you always have_--I was going to
say fair weather and other things to match, but I pause in time. Yours
are the natures that make fair weather out of any storm that blows.
So--_here's to a sail above you, a plank beneath you, the blue-green
Pacific about you, and the boisterous Trade wind blowing you on_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Honolulu hospitality is of so wide a fame that I will not lay myself
open to the charge of trying to "gild refined gold or paint the
rainbow" by telling here of the details of our sojourn in what is so
happily called the "Pearl of the Pacific"; and yet--there was one
incident that is so characteristic of the innate courtesy and gentility
of the Hawaiian host that I may be pardoned for setting it down.

It was but a few days after our arrival in Honolulu that we were
invited to attend a _luau_ or native feast at the home of Col. Sam
Parker, a prominent planter of the Islands and a relative of the late
King Kaleakaua. The affair was to be informal, we were told, and the
feast was to be spread on the _lanai_ or open veranda. On the strength
of these assurances, and because the night was a hot and sultry one,
the Commodore and I thought that our duck yachting uniforms would
fulfil all the requirements of the occasion, and proceeded to attend
thus accoutred. Imagine our feelings, then, on finding the genial
Colonel Parker waiting to receive us in full evening dress, and
observing that every one of the hundred and fifty other guests were
likewise impeccably garbed. Two white doves in a flock of ravens
could not have been more conspicuous or out of place, and our
discomfiture was no whit lessened on being led to the head of the long
table and placed in the seats of honour beside Colonel Parker's
step-daughters, the lovely Princess Kawanakoa and the no less
beautiful Alice Campbell. Not till we were seated did I notice that our
host's place was vacant.

For ten minutes the Commodore and I munched shamedly at our _poi_ and
boiled seaweed and avoided the I-told-you-so glances of the Mater
and Claribel who, resplendent in "full racing rig," seemed palpably
endeavouring to impress the assembled company with the fact that they
had no connection whatever with the two ill-at-ease nautical-looking
gentlemen in the duck jackets. The Princess and her sister were
the souls of wit, tact and amiability, but we continued droopy and
unresponsive even under the stimuli of their spirited sallies.
There was only one thing that could happen to restore our shattered
equanimity, and that--thanks to the inspiration which had doubtless
seized upon our genial host the moment our mis-garbed figures had hove
above his horizon--was the very thing that did happen. We were just
passing from _poi_ in calabashes to mullet boiled in _ti_ leaves, when
in breezed the Colonel, with only a quickened heaving of his ample
chest indicating the lightning change he had been making, garbed in
the undress uniform of a Commodore of the Royal Hawaiian Yacht Club,
a position which he had held during the reign of the late King Kaleakaua.
It was a most gracious act of kindly courtesy, and I was not in the
least surprised to hear the Commodore spent most of the rest of the
evening trying to persuade all the Parkers, root and branch, to get
their things together and join us for our cruise in the South Pacific.
In my own thankfulness, I distinctly remember offering several times
to make a present of the yacht to both the Princess Kawanakoa and her
sister before I pulled myself together sufficiently to realize that it
was not mine to give.

       *       *       *       *       *

The only unpleasant feature about letting go anchor in Honolulu Harbour
is having to break it out again. After our week of scheduled stop had
stretched out to two weeks, and finally to three, the realization
that our reluctance to leave was but growing with every day that the
inevitable moment was deferred brought us at length to the arbitrary
setting of a sailing hour. Toward this we inflexibly directed the
current of our resolutions, with the result that we really did get away
in the end.

On the morning of sailing we were pleasantly surprised to receive word
from the Spreckels Company--John D. Spreckels was the original owner
of _Lurline_--that it was sending its big tug, _Fearless_, to tow us
out of the passage and beyond the lee of the island to the breeze-swept
channel. A little later a note came out from Governor Carter informing
us that he was sending the Royal Hawaiian Band on the _Fearless_ to
pipe paeans of farewell.

We were not sailing until three o'clock on the afternoon of the 24th of
March, but soon after daybreak boats commenced coming off laden with
boxes and bags and parcels, remembrances from our kindly Island
friends, and toward noon the tide of flowers set in--these mostly in the
form of _leis_ or garlands to be worn about the neck. By two o'clock
the cabin was like the shipping room of a department store at the
climax of the Christmas rush, and the deck a cross between a fruitstand
and a conservatory. Nor was the forecastle unremembered. The sailors,
too, appeared to have formed attachments. As the bluff bow of the
_Fearless_ came nosing out into the stream from under the stern of the
big _Siberia_ and all hands turned to on the anchor, we were treated to
the spectacle of four brawny seamen, garlanded and festooned in
trailing _leis_ from head to heel, bending and swaying in unison and
heaving up the chain to a chantey that was nothing more or less than
an improvisation from a rollicking native _hula_.

The line from _Fearless_ was passed aboard and made fast, and as the
anchor was broken out the white-coated band, grouped picturesquely on
the forward deck of the tug, struck up the opening bars of a familiar
air, and Puilani Molina, the sweetest singer in all of the Hawaiias,
advanced to the rail, tossed a bright-hued _lei_ upon the water and
began singing that most plaintive and tenderly sweet of all the world's
songs of farewell, "Aloha-oe."

    "Ha-a-heo ka-u-a-ina pa--li--."

Liquid silver, the full, clear notes floated out to us across the
unrippling water, and from reef to shore the whole bay fell silent as
she sang through the first verse. At the opening words of the chorus
a score or more of friends clustered on the hurricane deck of the tug
joined in. Instantly the air was taken up by the deep-voiced
bandsmen; then by the deckhands and grimy stokers gathered at the
door of the engine room, and then by the boatmen as they lay on
their oars in the offing, until finally it reached the shore, to come
back to us in broken snatches from the throats of the crowd that
lined the quays and landings.

    "Aloha-oe, Aloha-oe,
      E-ke o-na-o-na no-ho i-ka li--po,
    A fond embrace--A ho-i a-e-au,
      Until we meet again."

Then the screw of the _Fearless_ began revolving, her tautening hawser
swung _Lurline_ into line astern, and out through the narrow passage
in the reef we were trailed in the bubbling wake of the tug. An hour
later, with Coco Head abeam and Diamond Head bearing N.E. by N., five
miles distant, sail was hoisted, the tow-line cast off, and _Lurline_,
wing-and-wing to a light northwest breeze, curtesied gracefully to the
rising swells of the channel and took her first mincing steps in the
long dance to the Marquesas.

As we filled away, dipping our flag in a farewell salute, we saw the
band, which since leaving the harbour had been doing its bravest
to lift the sodden pall of parting with rollicking Kanaka airs and
stirring patriotic selections, again stiffen to attention, and down the
wind, despairingly, appealingly, soothingly by turns, as though wafted
by the tug's broadside of fluttering handkerchiefs, came for the last
time the strains of "Aloha-oe." There are many forms and fashions of
the sweet sorrow of parting of which the poet sings, but for a long,
long pull, with a yo-heave-ho, at the heart strings, nothing like that
which steals over you as you listen to "Aloha-oe" with the tow-line
in the water, the odor of _Ilima leis_ heavy in the nostrils, and the
skyline of fair Hawaii blurring dim through a mist of tears.

The course from Honolulu to the Marquesan island of Nukahiva is about
S.E. by E., but in order to run as little chance as possible of being
headed by the Southeast Trades after crossing the Line, it was deemed
best to lay our course a couple of points to the east of this until
the latitudes of this southern wind were reached and its prevailing
direction at that season more accurately determined. This course we
found we had managed to approximate at the end of two weeks' sailing,
but only at the expense of being constantly on the wind; then to
discover that the Trades in the South Pacific blow steadily between
E.S.E. and east for nearly all of the year. This meant that we had
put ourselves to a good deal of unnecessary trouble and made but a
moderately good run where we might have made a very speedy one by
heading directly for our destination. That from Hawaii to the Marquesas
is one of the few long traverses in the Pacific where the most direct
course is also the fastest.

The bleak rock of Lanaii loomed abeam to windward for several hours
on the night of the 24th, and morning showed the dim blur of Maui's
great crater, Haleakala, blotting out the eastern sky. At noon the
snowy peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa detached themselves from the
fleecy cloud-racks down to E.S.E., and steadily loomed higher as the
sun declined. In the first watch the wind began falling lighter,
by midnight it was only coming in fluky puffs, and at daybreak
_Lurline_ found herself in the most windlessly somnolent patch of
salt water in all the length and breadth of the Pacific, the lee of the
two great 13,000-foot volcanoes that form the backbone of the island
of Hawaii.

Probably no other place in the world presents such striking contrasts
of meteorological conditions between almost contiguous points as those
furnished by the windward and leeward sides of Hawaii. The lofty
summits of its volcanoes tower so far above the raincloud line that
practically no moisture whatever is able to pass to a large belt of
country on the southwest side of the island, and where the annual
precipitation in the vicinity of Hilo is occasionally in excess of two,
and even three hundred inches, that of the Kona or leeward coast ranges
from absolutely nothing to five or six. The rank tropical verdure of
the windward slopes is unknown in this windless and rainless belt, and
save in places where streams from the perpetual snows form thread-like
oases, this leeward region is largely desert.

The windless area behind the volcanic barrier of Hawaii may be roughly
defined as a triangle, sixty miles wide at its base, tapering off to an
apex a hundred miles or more to leeward. It was well down toward the
base of this triangle that we were trying to cross in an ill-advised
effort to avoid the alternative of sailing the longer course to the
windward of the island.

Morning of the 26th found us in a clear, mirror-like, unrippling sea,
the surface of which, in its absence of motion, might have passed for
that of a great freshwater lake. Scarcely a suggestion of a swell
underran the satiny sheen of the level sea, and for all the motion
of her decks the yacht might have been chocked up in a dry dock for
repairs. The booms, hauled in amidship, lay as though spiked to the
deck; and even the drowsy slatting of the lazy-lines and the brisk
tattoo of the reef points--twin lullabies of the so-called calms of
livelier seas--were unheard. The log, as though in emulation of a
sounding lead, hung perpendicularly from the taffrail, its brass
blades showing no less clearly in the lucent, unwinking depths
than the feathery weed that fringed the motionless rudder.

Toward noon a few faint leakings of wind came edging in around the
north shoulder of Mauna Kea, and for some time we had steerage way
enough to allow the yacht to drift along at a mile or so an hour,
the booms out now on one side and now on the other in an effort to
intercept the elusive airs. At six o'clock even these vagrant puffs
had ceased, and as twilight followed the sinking of the sun behind
a ruled-line horizon calm succeeded to calmer, until the sails were
finally taken in and we floated, lazily waiting, on the heavily
breathing bosom of the deep; for now the shadow of a swell was running
and imparting just enough motion to the yacht to set her decks rocking
drowsily to and fro in accord with the somnolent peacefulness of the
tropic night.

The afterglow kindled and faded in pale tints of amber and amethyst
and dusky olive, and almost up to the zenith a filmy mass of cirrus
cloud, torn by conflicting air currents too high to make themselves at
sea level, flamed up in the reflected light for an instant and then
broke and scattered into bits, like paper rose-leaves showered into a
shaft of red calcium. Across the still expanse of the sea east nodded
to west, north nodded to south, the sky stars blinked at the sea stars,
and the sea stars blinked crookedly back; and under all ran the
indolent ebony swells, gently rolling the yacht till she rocked like a
sleepy old beldame, drowsing and catching herself and drowsing
again.

Early in the middle watch a light breeze stole out again from
landward--this time apparently coming from the Mauna Loa slope of the
island--and by daylight we were twenty miles nearer the southerly
deadline of the windless triangle. Then the puffs began falling light
again, and for an hour or two we drifted without steerage way ten or a
dozen miles off the entrance of the beautiful little bay of Kealakekua.
With eyes straining through our glasses some of us fancied that we
discerned the outlines of a tall shaft of white shining through the
brown boles of the coconut palms, and told each other that we were
gazing on the monument that marked the spot where Captain Cook, after
innumerable hair-breadth escapes in every important island group of the
Pacific, fell under the clubs of the warlike Hawaiians, fighting no
less desperately to save the lives of his comrades than for his own.

One would have to cruise the Pacific for a lifetime to begin to come
to an adequate appreciation of what the Great Navigator did, for the
more one sees the more stupendous seems the sum of his achievement.
From where the sub-Arctic waters wash the shores of Cook's Inlet,
Alaska, to Cooktown in the lap of the Antipodean tropics, and Mount
Cook raising its glacier-seamed sides above the bleak bluffs of New
Zealand, there is hardly an important island whose strand his tireless
foot did not press, and scarce a lump of coral rearing its head above
the restless Pacific surges that his keen eye did not sweep. Nasty
sailing, you think it, in these days of charts and steamers, when the
lifeboats are swept from the hurricane deck off Cook's Inlet on your
run to Nome; and "A frightful hole!" you say, when your "N.Y.K."
steamer anchors every night as she feels her way along down the
Great Barrier Reef; and every minute is your last, perhaps you think,
when your "A and A" steamer is hove to in a Fijian hurricane, or you're
locked in the cabin of your "A.U.S.N." packet in a spell of "southeast"
weather between Dunedin and Sydney. Distinctly bad, you think all this;
you on your 6,000-ton steamer that is equipped with every precautionary
and emergency device known to science, with a powerful beacon on
every headland and the bottom of the sea mapped out like a block of
lower Broadway. Just try and imagine, then, if you please, what these
same places must have been to Cook, who spent years among them in
crazy old wooden ships, scarcely a one of which but ended by piling up
on some rocky shore or coral beach. Columbus, Vespucci, and the rest
of the deep-water navigators, simply turned the noses of their ships
west and sailed till they got to somewhere--and then sailed back again.
Cook spent years with a man at the masthead looking for hidden reefs,
and with the sounding lead going every hour of the twenty-four.

In my own mind there are grave doubts as to whether any of us really
saw the Cook monument during that long forenoon in which we lay
becalmed off the leeward coast of Hawaii--in fact, I have since been
told that it is not visible from the sea at all; but the sight of
Kealakekua--yes, even at a distance of a dozen miles or more--is
ample excuse for this slight tribute to one to whom no man that has
ever sailed the Pacific will deny the title of "The Greatest Navigator
of History."

_Captain James Cook, sailor, diplomat and gentlemen:--Here's long and
unbroken rest for your watch below in that quiet haven where you let
go Life's anchor in the shadow of the towering Mauna Loa and within
sound of the lap of the waves of that Pacific, so many of whose tracks
you were the first to sail. Sleep sound, Master Mariner, for your work
is done; and may your dreams bring you the messages of gratitude that
arise from the hearts of those whose ways have been made easier and
safer because of the dangers you braved and the sacrifices you made.
Accept this acknowledgment of the obligation of one of those to whom
you showed the way, James Cook._

       *       *       *       *       *

A fluky three to five-knot breeze drew in from the E.S.E. about
mid-day, every puff of which was taken advantage of to struggle on
out of the lee of the blanketing island. Freshening slightly after
nightfall, it carried us along at a little better than a four-mile gait
during each hour of the first watch, near the end of which it hauled
ahead and forced the yacht off to southwest until enough southing had
been run to allow her to be put about on the other tack without danger
of butting her nose into the volcanic bluffs of Hawaii.

Shortly after midnight the mate awakened the Commodore to report a
reflection on the sky off to the northeast, an announcement which
brought every one tumbling out on deck in short order. There was
the reflection, surely enough; a dull red glare on our port quarter
that shone and dulled and shone again like a blowed-on ember. The
light was on a line with the point where the opaque mass of Hawaii
blotted out the tail of the Great Bear, and because there was no sign
of fire on the water we had about arrived at the conclusion that the
glare might come from a ship or sugar mill burning on the windward
side of the island, when the reflection suddenly flared from a dull
cherry to a vivid flame-red, immediately to be quenched in tumbling
masses of smoke or steam which went shooting into the air as though
driven by the force of a mighty explosion.

"She's a steamer!" yelled the mate. "Them's her boilers a-bustin'!"
Whereupon we all fell to speculating as to what particular steamer it
might be. And it was not until six or seven minutes later when a great,
deep-toned reverberation reached us--a sound so mighty that all of the
steamers in the Pacific blowing up together would have passed unnoticed
beside it--that light finally burst in upon us and we broke out in
chorus with "Kilauea! in eruption again."

The actuality of this eruption--only a slight one as it chanced--we
verified six weeks later when our file of San Francisco papers was
received in Tahiti. In referring since to this most spectacular piece
of volcanic pyrotechnics, we have always done so in the words of
Claribel, then a recently emancipated prisoner from the grip of _mal
de mer_. In the sentiently suffusing light the sea rolled a dark pit
of ox-blood and the heavens arched a vault of purple-black studded
with pale emeralds, the stars. The half-filled sails were hangings of
amethyst silk, and the masts lances of fire grounded in patches of
living flame where the polished brass work threw back the rosy
glow of the Northeast.

"Look! look!" cried the sufferer, clapping her hands with excitement
as the twisting pillar on the eastern flank of Mauna Loa took the
momentary seeming of a colossal figure in the throes of a serpentine.
"Isn't it worth being sea-sick all the way around the world to see?
There's Madame Pelée dancing a _hula_! It's Kilauea's 'Aloha' to the
_Lurline_!"

And "Kilauea's 'Aloha' to the _Lurline_" it has always been to us since.

Light and baffling southerly breezes made progress slow for the first
two days after clearing the calm patch in the lee of Hawaii, and when
on the 29th these suddenly straightened out into a blustering easterly
blow the immediate necessity of proceeding under shortened canvas
offset the advantage of the long-desired wind. For two days the yacht
was close-hauled on a course which approximated southeast, bobbing up
and down to the seas and making only moderately good weather under
double-reefed mainsail and foresail.

Sea and wind were still heavy at noon of the 31st, but the latter
had by then come up to northeast, allowing us to sail a point or two
free on a course of S.E. by E. Under all plain lower sail we pounded
into the hard-heaving seas all afternoon and through the night of the
31st, the decks constantly smothered in volleys of spray and more than
a little green water finding its way aboard in some of the heavier
plunges, yet averaging close to eight miles an hour all the time. Day
broke on a sea of wind-tossed pampas plumes, the onslaughts of waves
beneath which were responsible for a substantial shortening of sail
when the morning watch was called. At ten o'clock, with the glass
down to 29.70 and the wind increased to half a gale, the canvas was
still further reduced, leaving the yacht doing a comfortable six knots
under double-reefed mainsail and foresail, and with the jib taken in
and the bonnet out of the foresail.

For two days, with the glass hovering about 29.60 and the wind blowing
fiercely but steadily from E.N.E., we jolted along, full-and-by, at
from five to seven knots an hour, logging 129 miles on the 2nd of
April and 159 miles on the 3rd. By this time the torn, fussy seas of
the first day of the gale had lengthened out to viciously-running
combers, with a resistless power under their swinging upheaves and
a decided sting in the blows of their hissing crests. The big third
reef was tied into the mainsail at dawn of the 4th, after a top-heavy
wall of reeling water had bumped its head on the starboard boat in an
apparent endeavour to salute the rising sun, leaving that indispensable
adjunct to our life-saving service wallowing in its slackened lashing
with a started plank. This, with a stove-in galley sky-light, made
up about the sum total of the damage inflicted by what would have
been a really troublesome storm if there had been any land about to
look out for. In the open waters of the Pacific the hardest kind
of a straight blow is of little moment to a staunch schooner, even
though--like the _Lurline_--it may have been built as much for racing
as cruising. Where the real danger lurks for any kind of a craft is
in the twisting hurricanes and the sudden and terrific squalls which
attack unexpectedly among the islands. At sea, as on land, most of the
menace is in the unforeseen, striking instances of which truth we had
ample opportunity to observe before the voyage was over.

The wind began abating in strength shortly after daybreak of the 4th,
and during the day the yacht was gradually restored to all plain sail.
We must have passed under the sun at about 6° N. late in the forenoon
of this day, for it inclined to the north when the noon sight showed
our latitude to be 5° 57'. The air and water which had been showing a
diurnal increase of temperature of about half a degree, Fahrenheit,
registered 81° and 79°, respectively. There was no suggestion of
oppressiveness in the air and a windsail was not necessary to keep the
cabin fresh and cool.

In the early morning of the 5th the wind began to fall light and
fluky, finally resolving itself into a tumultuous series of squalls,
the last of which, though it drove the yacht off to the west of south
at a terrific pace, fortunately abated before anything carried away.
When it had passed the wind settled itself contentedly into E.S.E.,
from which point it continued amiably to purr--except on three notable
occasions--through most of the four months which we spent south of the
Line. We had literally run from the Northeast to the Southeast Trades
in a single squall.

As we neared the Line the only indication of equatorial weather was
in the ever-livelier butterfly chases of the sunshine and showers.
The winds, except for increasingly fierce squalls which we began
experiencing regularly in the early watches, were fresh and steady from
E.S.E., and so far as any signs of being in the hated "horse-latitudes"
were concerned, we might have been sailing through a week-long
September afternoon off the Golden Gate. Considering the freshness of
the wind, the sea was very light indeed, and we were able to carry
most of the kites to good advantage as long as there was sufficient
daylight to permit watching the approach of the ever-imminent
squalls.

On the 7th, at three o'clock, in longitude 139° 50', we crossed the
equator, just two weeks to an hour after weighing anchor in Honolulu.
Air and water were slightly cooler than for some days--each registering
79°, Fahrenheit--and so fresh was the steady breeze from the southeast
that we stood uncovered in the sun at noonday and in the shade of the
sails felt no discomfort in a rug.

By this time we had made easting sufficient to place us well to the
windward of our destination in any probable shift of wind. Sheets were
slacked off, therefore, and freed from the griping luff under which she
had chafed almost incessantly for the last fortnight, _Lurline_ slipped
away on a course of due south at a gait which ran up close to 190
miles on the log for the day ending at noon of the 9th. At this time,
with 240 miles--part of it down a narrow island channel beset with
swift currents and variable winds--remaining to be covered before we
would begin to open up the bay of Taiohaie, Nukahiva, all practicable
canvas was crowded on in an endeavour to make port the following day.
Eight and nine knots we made all afternoon; good speed considering the
force of the wind, yet hardly what might have been desired under the
circumstances. But the breeze was stiffening as twilight came on, and
realizing that failure to make anchorage before another evening would
mean a night of standing off-and-on in a scant sea-way and uncertain
winds, the Commodore, for the first time since entering those
capricious latitudes, allowed the light sails to be carried into the
darkness.

Sailing like a witch in the freshening breeze, _Lurline_ reeled off
a shade under twenty miles in the second dog watch, and 10.6, 10.8,
11.3 and 11.8 were successively run up on the log as the hours of the
first watch slipped away. The night was balmy soft, the breeze a stream
of warm milk, and in the air was discernible that faint, indefinable
odour of something which heralds the presence of land to nostrils
grown sensitive from inhaling for weeks the untainted atmosphere of
the open sea. The heavens, save for a few hurriedly marching squads of
the ever-shifting cirro-cumulus, were clear and unobscured, and the
easy-running swells were as gentle as the night itself.

The yacht continued to reel off the miles like a liner during the early
hours of the middle watch, but toward morning the appearance of several
menacing turrets of cloud up to windward was the signal for the hurried
taking in of the light sails and an easing off of the sheets. For a
while it appeared that all of the three rapidly advancing squalls were
going to pass astern of us, and so, in fact, two of them did. The third
one took an unexpected spin at the last moment and came charging up
after the yacht like a mad bull. There was just time hastily to furl
the jib and station men at the fore and mainsail halyards before it
broke upon the yacht with the explosive roar of a bursting bomb, and
the timely letting go of those halyards as she hove down before the
terrific force of the wind undoubtedly saved some canvas if nothing
more.

The mainsail was checked half way in its run and the very considerable
portion of it that fell overside went hopping and skipping along on the
water like a great wounded bird as the yacht smoked away before the
squall. For ten minutes, perhaps, we ran thus, half smothered in air
and water; then the rain began falling, the wind fell lighter, and the
squall, so far as we were concerned, had spent itself. Five minutes
later the main boom had been hauled inboard, the sail hoisted, and
_Lurline_ was gliding off down to south'ard no whit worse for her rough
raking. The main topmast staysail was run up when the morning watch was
called, and dawn found her doing a comfortable nine knots an hour with
the situation well in hand.

As the sun rose the somewhat vague land smell which we had noted during
the night increased to a delicate but unmistakable odour of flowers,
a perfume which we later learned is due to the presence in the air of
the blown pollen of the _cassi_, a low bush-like plant which carpets
the islands of the Marquesas and blooms perennially. So pungent and
far-reaching is this odour that it has become a common saying with
trading captains who sail these latitudes that you can smell the
Marquesas farther than you can see them, a statement which is certainly
literally true anywhere to the leeward of the group.

Shortly after eight o'clock the shattered peaks of the island of Uahuka
were sighted dead ahead, and at nine the course was altered to S.W. by
W. After an hour or so the dim outline of Nukahiva began taking shape
in the dissolving mist, and when the scarped and buttressed summit of
Cape Maartens came edging out from behind the abrupt heads to
north'ard, we had something definite to go by, and promptly trimmed
in sheets and headed up to clear a forbidding point of black basalt
which our Directions told us jutted out into the sea to cut off the
surges from the inner loop of the bay of Taio-haie.

Along the rugged coast we slipped, now close in to a sinister dirk-like
point which reached out to divide and scatter the onrushing seas, and
again standing across the opening of a bay or inlet which receded to a
snowy beach backed by a lucent lagoon and a chasm full of unfathomable
verdure. Beyond the furrowed brow of Cape Maartens a narrow bay, well
protected and smooth as a mirror, ran inland beyond eye-scope, piercing
the island like a sliver of silver. From where it disappeared in a
dense mass of palms and pandanus a high-walled valley wound back among
the serried ribs of the mountains, apparently to end abruptly against
a lofty cliff, the sheer side of the towering backbone range of the
island.

Here and there up the valley patches of dancing light, shining
through the sombre green of the riot of trees and creepers, told
of a swiftly-running stream, and down the face of the great cliff,
literally leaping from the clouds to the earth in a single bound, was a
waterfall. Lucent, glittering green it must have been up where it began
its dizzy plunge in the heart of the murky mass of drifting nimbus
which veiled its source, but white--snow-white--it gleamed where it
appeared under the dark cloud line to fall in a brocade of shimmering
satin into the misty depth below. We did not learn about it until the
next day; but this fall was Typee Fall, the stream was Typee River, and
the valley was Typee Valley, the scene of that most idyllic of all South
Sea idylls, Herman Melville's "Typee."

We never attained nearer than five miles to the great fall during our
stay in the Marquesas, and accurate figures regarding its height were
not obtainable. Findlay's Directory gives it at 2,165 feet, which is
probably too much; but the fact remains that it is one of the highest
waterfalls in the world, and without a rival on any island whatever.

At four in the afternoon we doubled the gaunt black point toward which
we had been steering for some hours, suddenly to find the panorama of
the beautiful bay of Taio-haie unfolding before us. Pursuant to the
instructions in the Sailing Directory, we ran up the Jack to the fore
and stood off across the entrance waiting for the pilot, without whom,
so we read, there was a heavy penalty for endeavouring to enter. Then
we went about and ran back past the little island at the end of the
point, all without awakening a sign of life along the drowsy shore
where nestled the village. After repeating this manoeuvre twice more,
the Commodore ordered the sheets slacked off and gave the man at the
wheel his bearing for the first leg of the run in.

"Perhaps the pilot has overslept on his _siesta_ today," he remarked
dryly; "and if that's the case our anchor gun may wake him up."

We went in neatly and expeditiously. "Keep the eastern outer bluff on
the starboard," read the Directions, "rounding the island off it within
a cable's length. All the eastern shores of the bay are steep-to and
free from danger, and the wind will always lead off." And that was
about all there was to it. We let go the anchor a few minutes after
five, a quarter mile off the rickety wharf, in seven fathoms. Our time
from Honolulu was just over seventeen days, the quickest passage of
which there was any record. Had we sailed a course to avoid the
windless area in the lee of Hawaii, and then headed directly for
Nukahiva it is probable that the run would have been made in the
vicinity of twelve or thirteen days.

The firing of our little signal cannon might have been the setting off
of a mine under the village, so electric was the effect. Dark forms
sprang up from nowhere and began darting hither and thither and yon,
and following the appearance of a corpulent figure in pajamas at the
door of what seemed to be the official residence, the tri-colour of
France went jerking up to its flag-pole. Down the front street shortly
came lumbering a ponderous figure in a brass-bound helmet and white
uniform, followed by a trailing sword and a half dozen natives carrying
oars on their shoulders. Two other white men, also white-clad and
sun-helmeted, joined the procession as it passed what appeared to be a
trading store, and the three proceeded together down to the wharf and
put off in a big whaleboat.

Driven by the erratic but powerful strokes of the big natives, the boat
was quickly alongside the yacht, and the official-looking gentleman
came puffing up the ladder which had been hastily lowered for him. He
was Brigadier Bouillard, the Harbour Master, Warden of the Prison and
Chief of Police, he announced between gasps in broken English, and the
other gentlemen following him over the rail were, respectively, Mr.
Cramer, a German trader, and Mr. McGrath, a Canadian trader. Of the
latter, one of the most interesting characters we met in the course of
our whole cruise, we were destined to see much during our stay in
Nukahiva.

"By the way," Monsieur le Capitaine, "where's your pilot?" asked the
Commodore after the large official had examined our papers and admitted
the yacht to practique. "Hasn't he overslept this afternoon?"

"Zee pilate! _Mon Dieu_, he ees no"--And at this point, with wild
rollings of the eyes and swift gestures of uncertain import, the
Brigadier relapsed into French so voluble and excited as to prove quite
unintelligible to our untrained ears.

"The Brigadier," explained the blond Cramer in his exact Teutonic
English, as the excited Frenchman paused for breath, "is trying to
tell you, in effect, that the last pilot but one was killed and eaten
by relatives of a trading schooner's crew who were drowned when that
boat was piled up on the beach because the pilot had taken too much
absinthe and mistook a firefly on the bowsprit for the light on the
wharf. A similar fate also overtook his successor, apparently for no
other reason than that the office had become an unpopular one with the
natives. Since then," he added, "the government has been unable to find
any one willing to accept the position under any inducements."

"Hardly to be wondered at," mused the Commodore. "But, I say, can any
of you gentlemen tell me if this--er--antipathy of the Marquesan
natives toward pilots extends to skippers who bring in their own ships?
It's a little late for working out of the harbour before dark but the
wind's fair most of the way and, anyhow, I'd rather be drowned than
eaten."

The natives had always respected visiting yachts, they asseverated
earnestly, and--as we learned later--truthfully. The Commodore took
courage on hearing this and decided to chance it for a day or two.
It was not until our arrival in Tahiti, a fortnight later, that we
learned that perhaps the forbearance of the natives in the matter of
visiting yachts may have been partly due to the fact that, previously
to _Lurline's_ coming, only three craft of that class had ever been to
the Marquesas.

In the "Ladies Log" of this date I find the following entry:

"We sailed in ourselves and fired off our signal gun to wake up the
pilot. Found out shortly that nothing of less calibre than Gabriel's
Trumpet would have been equal to that task."



CHAPTER III

THE MARQUESAS TODAY


It is a strange anomaly that the Marquesan, by long odds the fastest
disappearing of the Polynesian races, is made up of individuals of
incomparably finer physique than those of any other of the islands of
the South Pacific. Of a dozen natives picked at random from the beach
of Taio-haie, there would probably be not over three or four who would
not show more or less of his dark head above the end of a six-foot
tape, and the breadth and muscling of each would be in proportion. The
women are likewise of good size and figure, and, when undisfigured
with tattooing, of considerable beauty as well. Both sexes accomplish
prodigious feats of walking, swimming and rowing, and both invariably
bear up remarkably under hardship and privation such as that incident
to being cast away to sea for weeks in an open boat.

As a matter of fact, the startling decrease in the population of the
Marquesan group, except for occasional epidemics, is due to scarcity
of births and a lack of vitality in the children rather than to an
abnormal number of deaths among the adults. This condition is largely
traceable to the existence of a number of more or less active forms of
blood disease introduced by the whites of the Pacific whaling fleet
of half a century ago, and to certain vicious practices in connection
with the prevention of child-bearing prevalent in the over-populous
days of the group. Cannibalism and intertribal wars have frequently
been assigned as potent factors in the decimation, but it is notable
that neither has had such effect in the Solomon or New Hebridean
groups, where both are prevalent today.

The early explorers estimated the population of the island of Nukahiva
at from 30,000 to 40,000. In 1804 there was believed to be not over
18,000 on the island, and in 1836 but 8,000. A French census in 1856
enumerated but 2,960, which number had fallen to 800 by 1880. In
1889 +Stevenson found Taio-haie a lively village with a club, barracks,
hotel, numerous stores and a considerable colony of French officials;
Hatiheu and Anaho were villages of upwards of a hundred natives each.
At the time of our visit in the _Lurline_ there remained in Taio-haie
but three French officials, a single German trader, three or four
missionaries and a native population just short of ninety. The villages
of Hatiheu and Anaho had but a few over a hundred inhabitants between
them.

In the veins of the Nukahivan of today course two strains of foreign
blood of widely diverse origin. During the latter part of the 16th, and
for most of the 17th century, the island was a rendezvous for a large
colony of buccaneers who had chosen that location for the advantages
it gave them in preying upon the Spanish galleons plying between Peru
and the Isthmus of Panama, as well as in raiding settlements on the
intervening coast of South America. These pirates, after some years of
fighting, brought the natives of the Taio-haie and Hatiheu districts
into a state of complete subjection, while their relations with the
tribes of the interior appeared to have been in the nature of an
armed neutrality. The subject natives were employed at sea as sailors
and boatmen, and on land as gardeners and herdsmen. The cattle,
pigs and goats brought to the island by the freebooters must have
been the progenitors of the wild animals of these species which
abound there today. With the natives of the interior some trading
for food was carried on at times when the drought on the coast
made short crops of coconuts, breadfruit and bananas.

When the streams of Incan gold from Peru began to run low and
buccaneering became unprofitable as a consequence, the Nukahivan
pirate colonies gradually changed back to native villages. After the
last of the strangers had died, their descendants, through
intermarriage with pure-blooded natives, reverted little by little to
the predominating type, until the evidences of the blood of white
men in their veins survived only in straighter hair and features,
harder eyes, a sharper and more uncertain temper and an increased
arrogance. They were a handsomer people physically, and a keener
one mentally than the original Marquesan, but withal a race whose
morals were in rags and tatters.

For some decades in the middle of the last century Nukahiva was the
main base of a large portion of the Pacific whaling fleet. Ships spent
months at a time at Taio-haie, refitting and reprovisioning, and the
island gained many new and undesirable inhabitants through desertions
from their crews. The worst epidemic of smallpox ever recorded in
the South Pacific was started in Nukahiva by a maroon from a whaler,
and the present-day prevalence of blood and skin disease is directly
traceable to similar sources. The women were carried off to the ends
of the earth on the whalers and few indeed of them ever found their
way back; for the good of future generations it would have been
better had none of them done so.

The moral laxity of the Marquesan of the present day is undoubtedly a
legacy of these two occupations of the principal island by the lowest
of the sea's riff-raff, pirates and whalers. In Nukahiva chastity
is quite unknown to any class, and a century of work on the part of
the French missionaries has left little mark upon the morals of the
people. They are prone to throw themselves at every opportunity into
the most unlicensed debauchery, and they know no law save that of the
appetites. The feasts of the present generation of Nukahivans--aside
from cannibalism, which is still practised whenever the chances for
escaping detection are favourable--are howling orgies of two and three
days' duration, their riotous excesses uninterrupted even by intervals
of singing and dancing, as in Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji. The song and the
dance, which represent to the Polynesian about all that religion, music
and the drama combined do to us, have died out in the Marquesas even
faster than the people.

The Marquesans of a century ago were the most completely and
artistically tattooed people in the Pacific, and the practice is
carried on among them to a certain extent even today. The really fine
pieces of work, however, such as the famous right leg of the late
Queen Vaekehu over which Stevenson waxed so enthusiastic, are
confined entirely to the very old, and, what with wrinkles, deformities
and the wear and tear of time, these have lost most of their original
sharpness of colour and outline. None of the new generation appears
to have the fortitude to endure the exquisite pain incident to having
a whole limb picked out in a network of geometric design or the face
barred and circled like a coarse spider's web.

Women are rarely tattooed at all now, and most of the young men are
satisfied with a broad band of solid black--not unlike a highwayman's
mask in effect--which reaches across the face from ear to ear, giving
to their never overly-mild countenances an expression of amazing
ferocity. That the art, and a certain pride connected with it, are not
yet lost to the Marquesans, however, was amusingly shown by an
incident which occurred the day after _Lurline's_ arrival in Taio-haie.
On this occasion, in testing some newly-opened shells, we fired ten
or a dozen shots in rapid succession from the yacht's brass signal
cannon. At the first report a bevy of Marquesan damsels, who had
come off to sell sandalwood and shark-tooth necklaces, stampeded
to their canoes and could not be induced to return until all activity
in the firing line had ceased.

Then they all clambered gleefully aboard again, and one of them so
far forgot herself as to sit down on the deck and lean languidly back
with her plump brown shoulder against the sizzling hot breech of the
signal gun. That was the last languid movement she made for some
time. Came the sharp hiss of singed flesh and then, with the scream
of a frightened wildcat, the girl cleared the low rail as though thrown
from a catapult, swam half a hundred feet under water, to go lunging
straight off for the shore the instant her head rose above the surface.

Now it chanced that across the breech of our little cannon was engraved
the name "LURLINE," picked out in ornamental scrolleries, and beneath
it, in rich reposé, the figure of a puffy dolphin in the act of gulping
down a buxom mermaid. Such of this bas-relief as had come in contact
with the fair Marquesienne's shoulder left its mark, which striking
design was no sooner seen by the tribal tattooist than he needs must
perpetuate what he feared, no doubt, was but an ephemeral impression.

So fishbone needles and black gum were hastily brought into play, and
several days later, when the inflammation had subsided sufficiently to
enable her to be about, the proud and grateful young beauty brought
the decoration off for us to see. "RLINE" we read in wobbly reversed
letters, and beneath, floundering desperately across a shoulder blade,
a stub-tailed mermaid could be discerned in the act of disappearing
into the impressionistic but unmistakable head of a dolphin. A half
dozen of the now distinguished young person's girl friends
accompanied her, and every one of the envious minxes persisted in
embracing, leaning against and sitting upon that now cool but still
ornamental signal-gun breech in anxious endeavours to get patterns
of their own to take back to the village tattooist.

But the cunningest picture ever executed upon the body of any
Marquesan, living or dead, pales to insignificance when compared to
the amazing hieroglyphic record depicted upon the skin of a living
Marqueso-American, John Hilyard. Readers of Stevenson may recall the
tattooed man, who was the first resident of Taio-haie to discover the
appearance of the strange schooner in the introductory chapter of
"The Wreckers." A bit of the history of that strange character is also
hinted at, I believe, but, according to the present-day gossip of the
"beach" of Taio-haie, it is all wrong. For the real story I am indebted
to our friend, McGrath, the trader of Hatiheu, who once nursed Hilyard
through a spell of fever and attained to more of that queer outcast's
confidence than any one else on the island. From Hilyard himself--now
a man of about seventy, with his grotesquely figured body fully
clothed and as much as possible of his face obscured with a bushy
beard,--absolutely nothing can be learned, and I was considered to have
done remarkably well in holding him during a ten-minute discussion of
shark baits. I will outline here in a single paragraph a story which,
measured in pangs of soul and body, would tax the compass of a modern
novel adequately to depict.

Deserting from the American whaler, _Nancy Dawson_, when that ship was
careened at Anaho in the 60's for calking, was a raw youth of twenty,
who had run away from his home in a California mining camp and signed
on in San Francisco. White men were scarce in the Marquesas, and
after working for a while in a trading store in Taio-haie, he shortly
became supercargo on a trading schooner, and at length the owner of a
concession and boats of his own. It was at the height of his prosperity
that he met and fell captive to the charms of Mariva, who was reputed
beautiful and undoubtedly was coquettish, as the sequel shows. She
accepted Hilyard's presents, but told him that, while she liked his
personality well enough, she detested the sight of his white skin. Let
the village tattooer remedy that and perhaps--The love lorn wretch was
off to put himself under the needle before she had finished. Mariva
dropped in occasionally upon the session of torture which followed
and, now by criticism, now by approval, urged on the flagging artists
to renewed effort. When geometric whorls and bands and parallelograms
were exhausted, Mariva herself dipped a dainty forefinger in the
black _kuki_-soot gum and began improvising designs. "That broad chest
was made by nature to support a clump of bananas." "What could be
daintier than some fat pigs gorging on mangoes in the hollow of that
back?" She and an invited bevy of friends sang _himines_ to drown
Hilyard's groans while he was conscious, and when he fainted with the
pain and lay in a stupor they seized spare needles and tried their own
hands at tattooing. At the end of the second day, with designs two and
three deep all over the body of the unconscious trader, they desisted,
less from exhaustion than from a lack of further skin that would take
an impression. Hilyard lay in a swoon all night, and in the morning
was carried to the mission house with a raging fever. That night the
faithless Mariva eloped with a half-caste missionary preacher, took
possession of one of Hilyard's schooners, sailed it to the Paumotos,
where they ultimately set up in trading on their own account and, as
far as any one knows, lived happily ever afterwards. That Hilyard did
not die from blood-poisoning was miraculous. As it was he hovered
between life and death for a month, finally to pass from the kindly
care of the missionaries so broken in mind and body that he was
never again able to return to his trading business. The honest
French Residente disposed of Hilyard's interests for a sum sufficient,
when placed in a bank at Tahiti, to give the unlucky victim of love's
madness enough to live comfortably upon, and for the last forty
years he has done just that and nothing more, just existed--an
object of scorn to the natives and of pity to the whites--upon the
"beach" of Taio-haie.

Scenically the Marquesas are incomparably more beautiful than any of
the other island groups of the Pacific, Hawaii not excepted. It is
usual to hear the traveller who has covered Polynesia by the steamer
route speak in similar terms of the Society Islands--especially Moorea
and Tahiti--Samoa and Fiji, whichever may have chanced to tickle his
fancy, quite losing sight of the fact that the route of his boat has
been laid out along the lines of commerce irrespective of scenery. Not
one steamer--save an occasional gunboat--goes to the Marquesas in a
decade, the mail of the islands being carried to and from Tahiti every
three or four months in a trading schooner. In the last twenty years
scarce that number of strangers have visited the group, and a dozen or
more of these came on the only three yachts that have ever found their
way there. How little, therefore, the average South Sea tourist really
knows of these islands may readily be seen.

The rock walls and cliffs of Moorea would be lost in the shadows of
the great 4,000-foot spires that tower above the bay of Hatiheu;
the 600-foot fall of Faatua, in Tahiti, might be shut from sight in
the spray of the 2,000-foot fall of the Typee in Nukahiva; and the
great cliff of Bora-Bora, the creeper-tapestried walls of the bay of
Pago-Pago and the great gorge of the upper Rewa, in Fiji, could be
hidden away in corners of the stupendous Atouna valley of Hiva-oa
so effectually that they would pass unnoticed.

In the matter of riotous tropical growth, the Marquesas, being nearer
the Line than any other of the South Sea islands that may lay claim to
scenic beauty, have also all the best of the comparison. Nukahiva is
an almost impenetrable jungle of lantana, burao, acacia, banana, guava
and scores of other trees and bushes, nearly all of them flowering and
fruit bearing. Indigenous to the island is the _cassi_ plant, a thick
shrub which covers patches of the lower hills in dense masses and
which blossoms out in tiny yellow balls of almost solid pollen. The
latter has a perfume of most penetrating sweetness, and in flowering
time is blown by the Trades many leagues to the leeward of the island.
This is the odour which I mentioned that we noted in the air while the
yacht was still a hundred miles or more from land. Beating into the
incomparable bay of Hatiheu at night with this perfumed breeze sweeping
the deck, the wake a comet of golden-green light and the surf bursting
in vivid spurts of phosphorescence along the silver-bright band of the
beach, is to anticipate the approach to the mystical Islands of the
Blest.

At a number of widely-separated points in the South Pacific--notably
at Easter Island, Tahiti and Kusaie, of the Caroline group--are to
be found great images of stone, the ruins of huge temples and other
evidences of the existence of prehistoric races who, at least as
builders, were far in advance of the Polynesian of today. French
scientists had noted that in the Marquesas some of the abandoned
house-foundations or _pai-pais_, contained far larger blocks of stone
than any of those of later construction, but not until very recently
was it known that there were works in the group not unworthy of
comparison with the stone gods of Easter Island.

Just previous to our visit to Nukahiva, our friend McGrath, the trader
of Hatiheu, while following up a wounded boar in the Typee Valley,
chanced on an ancient Marquesan "Olympus," containing nine large stone
images in a comparatively good state of preservation. Though this most
interesting discovery lies within 300 yards of the main trail up the
Typee Valley, no native on the island, either by actual knowledge or
through tradition, has been able to shed light on its origin, purpose
or probable age.

McGrath conducted our party to his "Goddery," as he facetiously called
it, when we were crossing the island to pay a visit to the Queen of
Hatiheu, and the several films which I exposed in a driving rainstorm
resulted in what are undoubtedly the first photographs of these strange
Marquesan images. The ancient shrine--for such it must have been--is
situated on a terrace in the steeply-sloping side hill, and though
the underbrush thins out somewhat in its immediate vicinity, the
overarching bows of _maupé_ and _hau_ trees form so dense a screen that
the heavens are completely obscured. Though it was full noonday when
we visited the place, the light--partly, no doubt, on account of the
rain--was as dim as that of an old cathedral, and my films, which were
exposed four minutes each, would have turned out much better with ten.

The images, which had been set at regular intervals around an open
stone-paved court, were from six to eight feet in height and averaged
about three feet in thickness. We estimated each to contain from forty
to sixty cubic feet of hard basaltic stone, the weight of which must
have been several tons. As raising so great a weight up the sixty or
seventy per cent. incline from the valley would have been almost
impossible, and as no outcroppings of stone of similar nature appeared
nearby, we were forced to the conclusion that the material for the
images must have been quarried out at some point higher up the mountain
and laboriously lowered to the terrace prepared for them.

[Illustration: "ALL OF THE IMAGES WERE COVERED
WITH MOSS"]

[Illustration: "A HARDENED OLD OFFENDER WHO
PREFERRED WHITE MAN TO NATIVE MEAT"]

All of the images were covered with an inch or more of solid moss, and
on one which I photographed it was necessary to scrape some of this
away to bring out the features. The figures were much alike in design,
and, in a general way, of a not unremote resemblance to the Buddhas of
the ancient Javan temples. Eleven of them were still in their original
positions; one was blocked half way in its fall by the trunk of a _hau_
tree, and one was prostrate and overgrown with moss and creepers. A
search will undoubtedly reveal others now entirely covered with earth
and undergrowth, as there are several unoccupied niches still remaining.

That this shrine is of considerable age is evidenced by the fact that a
_hau_ tree, three feet in diameter, has forced apart the heavy paving
stones and is growing in the middle of the court. Trees of even greater
size are growing out of the ruins of a small nearby building, which
might once have been the foundation of the domicile of the attendant
priests. Some of the roughly squared rocks in the foundation of the
shrine are approximately three by three by ten feet in dimension, and
must have taken a small army of men to move and set in place.

The Marquesas are the only islands of the eastern groups of the South
Pacific where cannibalism has not long since ceased. This does not mean
that one is likely to be pounced on and eaten as soon as he sets foot
ashore--as I must frankly admit we all feared when we first heard of
the fate of the late pilots of Taio-haie--but only that under certain
favourable conditions, when there is small chance of its being brought
to the attention of the French authorities, this barbarity is still
resorted to. The French and the missionaries have been active in
suppressing cannibalism and its attendant rites, but, principally on
account of certain religious significances which appear to attach to
it, the practice persists in bobbing up perennially. The dead in their
tribal fights are still eaten when the opportunity offers, but only one
white man and a Chinaman (the two pilots were half-castes) are known
to have been eaten in the last decade.

Accuse a Marquesan of being a cannibal, and he will ordinarily deny
the soft impeachment much after the manner of a school girl taxed with
being a flirt. Some will brazen it out, however, and of such was a
hardened old offender who explained to the _Lurline_ forecastle one
night that, of the various classes of "long-pig," he preferred white
man to native because the meat of the latter was saltier and of a more
pronounced flavour. Chinaman he had never eaten, he said, but--and
here he cast an appraising look to where our recently shipped cook was
shuddering at the door of the galley--he was going to try one at his
first opportunity. The terrified Si-ah would not even go ashore to do
the marketing during the remainder of our stay in Taio-haie.

The practice of cannibalism undoubtedly originated in the
over-populated days of the island when, in the seasons of famine, the
bodies of those killed in the intertribal raids were eaten by the
survivors to escape starvation. Its survival into a period when the
islands produce food a thousand-fold in excess of consumption, and in
the face of the active opposition of the French, can be due only to
certain superstitious attributes, such as the belief that the strength
of a dead foe enters into the body of him who eats the flesh.

Human flesh is eaten in the Marquesas today only when the conditions
are such that the chances of detection are the slightest, and never
under any circumstances with the ceremonies which attended the rites
of three or four decades ago. The "long-pig"--the polite euphemism by
which man-meat is designated--may be quietly cut up and distributed
among a hundred families in a half dozen different villages, each of
which will partake of its precious tidbit in private and strictest
secrecy. Again, the body may be buried after only a small portion has
been reserved for eating. Just previous to our arrival in Nukahiva a
body from which only the hands were missing was washed ashore at
Anaho during a heavy southwester. Investigation showed it to be that
of one Teona, a resident of Hatiheu, a native who, three days
previously, had, according to the story of his companions, fallen from
their canoe and been drowned. The latter, after four days' confinement
in a dark cell at Taio-haie--the extremest torture to which the
superstitious Marquesan may be subjected--confessed that they had
killed Teona during a coconut wine debauch, and after cutting off his
hands and eating them, had weighted the body with stones and dropped it
out to sea. They were given the extreme penalty--two weeks' confinement
in the dark, to be followed by a year of weed-cutting on the village
street. One died of hysteria before the first week was out, and the
ther, at the end of ten days, killed himself by gashing his wrist on a
jagged corner of the sheet iron wall of his prison.

The Marquesan's terror of the dark is so extreme that it is not a rare
thing for men, women and children to die of fright during eclipses.
In view of this, there seems some ground for the contention that the
French practice of confining convicted, and occasionally suspected,
murderers and cannibals in windowless sheet iron cells is scarcely less
barbarous than the crimes for which punishment is being meted out.

The great cannibal feast grounds of Nukahiva and Hiva-oa are not
only not used at the present time, but are even so strictly _tabu_
that no native can be found who will venture within their forbidden
confines. Stevenson writes of visiting the Hatiheu "high-place" in
company with a French priest and a native boy; but on the occasion of
our visit we held out every conceivable inducement in an endeavour
to secure native guides to the same feast-ground, and quite in vain.
Not even among the converts of the Catholic fathers could be found
one who held the _tabu_ lightly enough to dare to violate it. The
best we could do was to persuade several of them to accompany us to
the line of the _tabu_, and there to await our return, while we went
over the ruins with McGrath. The following description is from notes
taken by Claribel on this occasion, and subsequently amplified under
the direction of McGrath, who, in the fifteen years he has maintained
a trading store at Hatiheu, has missed no opportunity to push
enquiries amongst the older natives regarding what is unquestionably
the most interesting ruin of its kind in the South Pacific:

"On the seaward side of a spur of the mountain a level space, oval in
general shape, had been partly excavated, partly built up, so that
there was a smooth floor about 300 feet long by 200 feet wide. In a
semi-circle, with the chief's house in the centre, were the little
'feast-houses' of the court dignitaries and the special guests. Beneath
the posts of each house excavations have disclosed a number of human
bones which bear witness to the sacrifice which accompanied the setting
of every pillar. In these little booths the guests remained during the
feasts, some of which, when food was plenty or some especially great
event was to be celebrated, lasted over a week. Each guest brought some
contribution to the feast, and when it was over he was privileged to
gather up and carry home any fragments that he liked.

"The 'dining-room' was the space in front of the houses, and there,
spread on the huge leaves of the banana and taro, the feast was laid.
Meat was handled with big four-tined forks of wood; poi and other
soft dishes in calabashes of coco shell and shallow wooden platters.
The drinking cups, in which were served a fiery wine made from the
juice of the tender shoots of the coconut, were the hollow shells of
nuts. The food, in addition to human flesh or 'long-pig,' included
the meat of the wild cattle, goats and pigs, roasted, boiled, fried and
salted raw, and served with _miti-hari_, a most piquant sauce still in
use and which is composed of a mixture of lime juice and the
pressed-out milk of grated coconuts. Bananas and plantains, cooked
and uncooked, were served; also taro in balls which looked like mud
and tasted like sago and brown sugar; breadfruit, avocados, seaweed,
squid, prawns and shrimps and an endless variety of indigenous
tropical fruits.

"The general plan of the place was, roughly, as follows: Beginning
at the right and running in a seaward direction, there was first the
private stairway for an official who might be designated as the Captain
of the Guard, a curving four-foot passage, the steps of which were
cut into the earth and faced with stones. This stairway led up to the
box where the Captain presided during the festivities, and was for
his private use. Next came the main approach to the feast level, a
stairway two paces in width, terminating between two round towers in
which soldiers with clubs were stationed to welcome bona fide guests
and intercept intruders. A functionary who stood at the head of the
stairs greeted each guest on his arrival with a loud shout of welcome
and a blast from a _pao_ or conch trumpet, announcing him immediately
afterwards to the company with a flowery recital of his personal career.

"Farther on was the stairway for the cooks, provision bearers and
the human victims. This led to the 'kitchen,' where the firestones
and chopping blocks were located. The firestones lined a circular
depression in the earth, and after this had been thoroughly heated,
the meat and fruit, all wrapped in _ti_ leaves, were laid sociably
together to cook. The blackened stones of this old cannibal oven are
still in place, and a half-hour's work with an ax and cutlass would
put it in shape for service.

[Illustration: THE BEST SURVIVING EXAMPLE OF
MARQUESAN TATTOOING]

[Illustration: "INTO IT WERE THROWN THE BONES
OF THE VICTIMS AFTER THE FEAST WAS OVER"]

"Back of the kitchen was the 'larder,' a round, deep hole where the
'long-pig' was kept until ready for the oven. Directly over the mouth
of this hole, and about forty feet above it, was the horizontally
projecting limb of the sacred banyan, the only tree, by the way, which
was permitted to grow within the walls. Over this limb hung a stout
rope braided of the fibrous bark of the _hau_ tree. When the call
for more meat came from the 'kitchen,' the noosed end of this rope
was lowered over the head of the victim next in order, and he was
pushed over the brink of the hole, the fall usually breaking his neck.
Dismemberment, according to prescribed rules, followed, the choice
bits, such as the hands and eyes and ears, being laid aside for the
chiefs.

"Beyond the oven, and not far from the chief's house, was what might be
called the 'bone-hole,' a rock-lined, well-like sort of an affair about
nine feet in diameter and twenty feet deep. Into it were thrown the
bones of the victims after the feast was over, and above these gruesome
remnants the priests performed certain ceremonies calculated to protect
the living from the spirits of the outraged dead. Cutting around the
rim of this hole with our cutlasses, we managed, after an hour of
tugging and hauling, to dislodge and remove a great mass of creepers,
disclosing a huge pile of human bones. A couple of pieces of mahogany,
which must have been taken from some ship, were lying near the top of
the heap, and led us to wonder how many of the bones mouldering in
the pile beneath were those of white men.

"After the keen edges of their appetites had worn off, the feasters
adjourned to the 'dance hall,' a rectangular subterranean chamber of
about thirty by fifty feet. The most of this great room was a natural
cave which pierced the mountain immediately under the feast ground,
but to seaward a considerable extension of masonry had been added
to give more space. The latter had been destroyed in a freshet and
hurricane which occurred about two years previous to our visit, but the
cave portion was still in a fair state of preservation. This had been
roughly squared with walls of fitted boulders, and off from it opened
numerous little retiring rooms which connected with private stairways
with the group of guest-houses above. The floor of this chamber was
covered with a cement made of coral lime and a puttylike clay, and
still remains as smooth and hard as concrete.

"The hall was lighted with torches of _kukui_ nuts, the sooty stains
of which on the walls the seepages of years have not entirely effaced.
Fantastic indeed must have been the barbaric assemblage as revealed in
their flickering light: the hideously tattooed dancers in head-dresses
fashioned in imitation of the forms of birds and animals and fishes;
the musicians drumming on the hollow trunks of _burao_ and _hau_,
shaking shell and bone rattles, tooting conches and blowing shrill cane
whistles; the packed ranks of the spectators, shouting and clapping
encouragement and tossing off _epu_ after _epu_ of the fiery coconut
wine. Hour after hour the dancers reeled in the delirious abandon of
the Marquesan _hula_; now gliding, with a sinuous, snaky motion,
their oil-glistening bodies bent almost to the floor; now leaping wildly
into the air, with shouts and shrill screams, lunging with their war
clubs at imaginary foes; now seated on long woven mats of pandanus
fibre before the dais where royalty reclined, bending and swaying their
supple forms in a series of graceful, rhythmic motions, accompanied
only by a song, the clappings of hands or the beating of the wooden
drums. The boom of the drums, the shrilling of the whistles, the
shouts of the spectators, the shrieks of the dancers and the swishings
of their bare feet upon the floor--how it all must have stirred and
amazed even those roistering old pirate and whaling captains when it
struck upon their ears for the first time!"



CHAPTER IV

HUNTING IN THE MARQUESAS


The French have never actually prohibited the carrying of arms in the
Marquesas, as have the British in the Solomons; but the possession and
use of guns has been so hedged about with restrictions as practically
to accomplish the same purpose. This is about the way it goes: Coming
to the islands with a gun, a permit must first be secured before it may
be landed. This allows you to take it to your domicile but not to take
it out again. If you would carry it with you on the street, a "Port des
Armes" is required, which allows you, however, to fire it only in your
own backyard, and when that sanctum is enclosed with a metre-high
stone wall. If you desire to fire it anywhere else, a "Permit de Chasse"
must be obtained. Finally, if you come to the conclusion that the
possession of a gun in the Marquesas imposes too many burdens, and
decide to dispose of it, a permit to sell is required; and if, later,
you regret your action and want to get it back again, a permit to
purchase will have to be taken out before the deal can be consummated.
Each of these permits costs a good, stiff fee, and it is largely this
which is responsible for the fact that the Marquesan native hunts today
much after the fashion of ancient times--with his wits and his hands. A
hunt of this kind comes nearer being real sport--that is, of giving the
quarry as good a chance to take the hunter's life as the latter has to
take that of the quarry--than any form of the chase since the days of
the troglodytes, and lucky indeed may the white man esteem himself who
is allowed to join one of them. I eliminated a good deal of the sporting
element on both the occasions on which I went out by carrying, and
using, a rifle or revolver, but as neither of these weapons--through no
fault of mine, however--figured seriously in the final dénouements, I
shall always tell myself that for once in my life at least, I have seen
real hunting--hunting in which the hunter has a legitimate right to be
proud of the game he brings to earth. But first something of a form of
Marquesan hunting which--largely because the white man with his
modern weapons enters into it--is as shameless as the old native
"cave-man" method is admirable.

One may hunt wild cattle, wild boar and wild goats in the Marquesas,
but the pursuit of the latter, however one goes at it, is not worthy
of the name of sport. Unlike the mountain goat of the Cascades and the
Canadian Rockies, the Marquesan animal of that name is neither hard
to find nor hard to kill; so that if one goes out after him with an
intelligent guide it is usually a matter of doing a lot of shooting at
easy range and letting the natives gather up and bring in the meat.
It is about comparable on the score of excitement to shooting seals
in their rookeries or starving cariboo in the Arctic. Goat-hunting
with beaters, as it is done in Nukahiva, cannot be complained of on
the score of lacking excitement, but, on account of the unspeakable
barbarity of its inevitable sequel, is not to be contemplated without a
shudder, even when the drive is undertaken--as it often is--to
exterminate animals that have been ravaging the village gardens.

I had heard in Hawaii that a goat-drive, next to a cannibal feast,
was the greatest attraction the Marquesas had to offer, and one of
the first inquiries I made after my "battery" had run the gauntlet of
French officialdom was regarding the chances for arranging one. The
Residente promised at once to lend aid in the form of all the prisoners
in the island jail to act as beaters, saying that the goats had become
very numerous and troublesome since the last drive and that he would
be glad indeed of a chance to get rid of a few of them; but when I
broached the subject to the trader, McGrath, who had already become our
court of first and last instance in the filling up of the program for
our Marquesan stay, he frowned and shook his head dubiously.

"If you're half the sportsman I take you for you would be sorry for
it," he said. "You wouldn't engage in one of your California rabbit
drives for sport, would you? No. Well, a Marquesan goat drive is just
about like one of those--and then some. I'll have to tell you about the
first one I took part in, I think, and then if you still feel that you
want to go ahead we will see what can be done."

We drew out a couple of canvas deck chairs to a breeze-swept corner of
the front veranda of Cramer's trading store, where McGrath, sipping now
and then at the long glass of absinthe and water which is the approved
drink in that corner of the Pacific, told his story.

"Up at the top of that cliff--it's a thousand feet in the sheer"--he
began, pointing to a towering basaltic buttress that reared its black
bulk abruptly from the northern loop of the bay, "there is a narrow
but fairly level and open table-land. The opposite side drops down
to Typee Inlet in the same way, and you will remember how it tapers
off to a knife-edge at the outer point. The objective of every goat-drive
is the open space upon that point, for from it there is no escape save
across the narrow landward neck which is held by the beaters and
hunters. There is another escape, if you want to call it that. Imagine
an almost solid stream of white furry patches, five hundred feet wide,
rushing out over the edge of that table-land there and falling down
the face of the cliff like a cataract in flood; and then imagine--but I
anticipate.

"The goats were particularly active when I first came to Nukahiva--I
was a missionary then, and lived here in Taio-haie--and one night they
brought their depredations to a climax by tramping down the thorn fence
of the Residency garden and making a clean sweep of all the vegetables.
How much of a luxury truck garden stuff is upon a tropical island
unserved by steamers and totally lacking in cold storage facilities,
only one who has lived under such conditions can appreciate. Probably
you're beginning to come to some appreciation of it already. The
Residente was, naturally, furious over his loss, and plans were set
afoot that afternoon for a big drive to rid the immediate vicinity of
as many as possible of the obnoxious animals. I didn't know what a
Marquesan goat-drive was then, and readily consented to take part.

"On the morrow at daybreak, mustering between officials, soldiers,
trading store employés and officers from schooners in the harbour,
ten or a dozen mounted men, and between the "trusties" from the
prison and other natives drawn in by the opportunity of obtaining
fresh meat, fifty or sixty beaters, we set out in a long line that
reached from sea to sea across the landward end of the peninsula.

"All morning we scared up the frightened animals and drove them on
before us until, at noon, we had a herd that must have numbered some
thousands cornered upon the open table-land at the extremity of the
point. On three sides of the heaving mass of white the cliffs fell
sheer to the sea for a thousand feet, while to landward escape was cut
off by the hunt, its armed riders drawn up in front, and the beaters,
now shoulder to shoulder, bringing up the rear in a solid double line.

"Twice the terrified band, led by a squad of patriarchal old 'billies,'
charged down upon us in a wild break for freedom, only to fall back
each time before the rain of bullets and the deafening roar from the
hard-pumped repeaters and automatics. Even once more they massed and,
blindly, desperately, madly, made their last rush to break our lines.
Falling by scores, they still braved the rifle fire until the last
gun was empty, broke through between the horsemen and, but for the
close-packed ranks of the beaters, would have gained their freedom in
thousands instead of a few scattered twos and threes.

"But the heavily-swung war clubs and the ear-splitting yells of
the natives checked the force of the rush, and suddenly, as though
simultaneously possessed of a common impulse, every one of the
survivors turned, rushed to the edge of that great black cliff yonder,
and went lunging off into space. For a few moments, rising above
the dull roar of the surf against the base of the cliff, we heard the
thud and splash of the bodies striking rocks and water, and then,
save for the bleating of the wounded at our feet, all was quiet. Not
a goat had faltered; not an unhurt animal remained on the plateau.

"For several long moments no one moved or spoke, but each, with his
horse reined sharply in, glanced guiltily at the man on his left and on
his right, and then let his eyes fall shamedly to the ground. Even the
natives were awed and silent. Finally the Residente, shaking his heavy
shoulders like one who would rid himself of the effects of a bad dream,
dismounted, gave his horse to a native, and picked his way out to the
edge of the cliff, the rest of us following suit. And then it was that
we were given to see the full enormity of the thing which we had done,
for the horror that had already befallen was only the preliminary of a
still grimmer tragedy, for the final act of which the curtain was just
being rung up.

"Lucky indeed--as luck went that day--were the goats that had been
killed on the plateau or had mercifully plunged to instant death on the
rocks. Many of the animals, due to their falls having been broken by
striking the yielding mass formed by the bodies of their mates, were
still alive, and for the hundreds of these that were floundering in
the water a worse fate was reserved. The reek of blood which welled up
from below, and the piteous bleats that assailed our ears, smote also
on keener senses than our own, and at even our first glance there were
revealed to us the black dorsals of countless lurking tiger sharks,
cutting the water from every direction and converging in a deadly focus
on the spot where the helpless little wisps of white were floating
at their mercy. They came and came, and still kept coming, until it
seemed that the whole Pacific was giving up the sharks of the ages
gone by to join in the bloody carnival. The sea along the foreshore
for hundreds of yards was literally alive with great brown-black forms
that slashed and fought and piled upon one another in frantic fury,
while the water, five minutes before us limpid as a woodland pool,
was dyed to a deep crimson, and its foam-lines in the eddies frothed
up a ghastly pink. I have surveyed the remains of several cannibal
feasts since that sickening noontide at the brink of that great cliff,
but never again have I known anything to approach the overpowering
feeling of mingled horror, awe, disgust and regret that I then
experienced."

McGrath straightened up with a long breath and gulped the last of his
glass of absinthe and water.

"Thus my first goat-drive," he concluded; "and thus are the goat-drives
of today. It's just as well you should know what they are beforehand,
for, if you're anything like me, you would never forgive yourself for
getting drawn into one. However, goat-driving doesn't exhaust the
possibilities of Nukahiva by any means. I shall be able to arrange a
pig hunt for tomorrow or next day without any trouble, I think, and, if
there is any way of getting the natives keyed up to it, I will get them
to take you out after a wild bull before you go. You'll see something
you never saw before in either case."

       *       *       *       *       *

It may be largely coincidence, but it is a fact at any rate, that in
nearly every place in the world where the wild pig is found it is not
considered quite the sporting thing to hunt it with guns. There is no
hard and fast rule against it, of course, but in these places shooting
a wild boar, except as a _dernier ressort_, is considered about on a
par with potting ducks or pheasant. Thus, in Germany, Austria and
the Balkans it is customary for the keenest sportsman still to take
his chance with a boar on foot, and armed only with a spear; in
India the British army officers ride that animal down in the jungle
and dispatch it with a short lance, and in Africa the sporting thing
to do is for the hunter to endeavour to give the _coup de grace_
with a native _assegai_. In North America, for some reason, this
custom is honoured only in the breach, and the Texas peccary and
the Mexican _javelin_--neither of which is much more than an
oversized razor-back hog--are dispatched on sight with rifle and
shotgun.

Boar-hunting with a spear or _assegai_,--or even according to the
Indian practice of killing from the saddle, which requires the
greatest steadiness of seat, hand and nerve,--are certainly not open
to criticism on the ground of being un-sporting; but the Marquesan
native, in attacking the boar of his islands with a two-foot cutlass
or _macheté_, which has been made for slashing underbrush and opening
coconuts--for cutting, not thrusting--unquestionably goes all of them
one better on the score of taking chances, for he works literally at
arm's length and with his body unprotected even by the lightest of
clothes.

A Marquesan boar hunt, with no other weapons than knives or cutlasses,
is as exciting and hazardous an undertaking as the most adventurous can
desire. The pigs are scared up in the bush by dogs and men, headed off in
their flight along the narrow run-ways in the guava scrub, and dispatched
by a knife-thrust between the base of the neck and the shoulder. Killing a
large boar in this manner is an extremely nice piece of work, as a
difference of an inch to the right or the left in plunging the knife means
that the thrust will be almost harmless and leaves the hunter open to the
deadly sweep of one of the scimitar-like tusks of the powerful animal.
The commonest scar one sees on the body of a Marquesan is a long
diagonal welt of white where the flesh of calf or thigh has been laid open
to the bone by the tusk of a charging boar. If, as occasionally happens
when the boar is a large one, the slash is across the abdomen, the hunter
rarely survives to bear the scar.

McGrath was as good as his word in the matter of arranging the pig hunt
he had promised, but unfortunately, through being called to Hatiheu to
look after the loading of one of his schooners, was unable to go along
himself.

"Be content to remain a spectator," was his parting injunction; "and
don't think because it looks easy for a native to drop a charging boar
with a cutlass and a twist of the wrist that you can do it yourself.
That was the way I got this limp of mine--it comes from a tendon that
was cut by a side-swipe from a tusk of the first--and the last--boar I
ever tried to stick. Best take your six-shooter along, but don't use
it unless you have to. It might serve to turn a boar that was charging
you; but it also might make one that was running away swing around
and come back. There are only two or three small spots on a wild pig
in which a pistol bullet--or a half dozen of them, for that matter--will
prove fatal, and these you would hardly be able to locate with the
animal at a run."

McGrath laid special stress on my adhering to the spectator rôle,
and I set out with that injunction firmly impressed on my mind. But
the sticking trick looked so ridiculously easy after I had seen it
performed once or twice that it was not long before I began to tell
myself that it was a case of "once bitten, twice shy" with my trader
friend, and that he had probably lost his nerve on account of his
unpropitious initial experience. And so it chanced--but I had best tell
something of the way of a Marquesan with a pig before obtruding my
own troubles.

We set out from Taio-haie on foot in the first flush of a heliotrope
and daffodil sunrise--a dozen or more natives, about twice that
number of dogs, and myself--followed the Typee trail for a mile up
the mountain through the endless ruins of the old Marquesan villages,
finally to branch off by a barely discernible foot path into the
veritable carpet of low scrub which belts the island at the 500-foot
level. Guava and lantana it was for the most part, the former heavy
with lucious yellow-red fruit and the latter bright with tiny golden
flowers. As we fared farther from the main travelled trail, dim runways
through the bush began to appear, and these, gradually converging as
they led down toward the neck of a rolling little valley which opened
up beyond a sharp ridge we had crossed, formed a narrow but well
marked path.

Four of the natives and I headed for a point where two jutting walls
of rock formed a natural gateway, which was scarcely a dozen feet
wide between the cliffs and choked with several giant trees and a maze
of lianas and brush. Through this opening ran the runway we were
following, the only path by which pigs going back and forth between
the upper and lower valley could pass. The others, with the dogs still
held in leash by strands of light liana, circled to the upper hills
preliminary to swinging around and beating back down the valley. I
was led, gently but firmly, up to a natural "grandstand" in the angle
of the buttressed roots of a big _maupé_ tree, one of the natives--a
servant of McGrath's who was evidently acting under orders--stopping
alongside in case I showed a disposition to "stray." My three other
companions--strapping bronze giants with the muscles of
gladiators--took their stands in the centre of the runway. One behind
the other, at ten or twelve-foot intervals, they lined up--there was no
chance in the narrow, bush-walled passage for anything in the nature
of a three-abreast, Horatius-at-the-Bridge formation--each with his
cutlass hand resting lightly on his hip, like a fencer standing at ease.
Cool, alert, ready, they waited, three living, breathing incarnations
of deadly efficiency. So had I seen a puma waiting, patiently tense,
upon the limb of a tree above a path where deer were wont to come
on their way to water; so have I since seen sharks lurking in
quivering readiness among the coral spines where ventured the
divers for pearls.

Ten minutes passed, in which occasional stifled yelps, now from
this side, now from that, told that the dogs, still in leash, were
being spread out as quietly as possible across the upper valley. Only
occasional sharp crashes in the scrub gave evidence of an increasing
current of uneasiness among the pigs. Tebu, who stood at "Number 1,"
broke into a low crooning chant, with a throaty kluck and a queer
chesty roll to it, which my "guard" translated as an invitation to the
pigs to come down and join our party. Presently the other two
natives took up the air, the three of them swaying gently to the
rhythm of the barbaric chant.

The dogs appeared to have been released upon a preconcerted signal, for
their choruses of baying broke out all the way across the valley at the
same time, accompanied by the ringing shouts of the men and the shrill
ululations of a bevy of women and girls who had trailed along after us
and had now joined the hunt.

Tebu hushed his singing and froze to attention as the underbrush
began to crackle, and I knew by the flash of blood-lust in his eyes
the instant he sighted the first pig. This animal, which was startled
but not aroused, lunged back into the scrub before he reached the
"gateway," and two or three other half-hearted mavericks did likewise
before one arrived on the scene who really had his mind made up about
going through to the lower valley. Singleness of purpose showed in
every line of the flying black mass that came dashing down the runway
and headed straight for the "gate." Possibly the fear of the dogs
was in his heart, but he looked more mad than frightened as, without
a pause or a side-glance of indecision, he hurled himself upon the
motionless bronze figure that blocked the way. On he came, like a bull
at a gate, and even as I gasped to myself that a regiment of soldiers
couldn't block his flight, he dashed against the lone human barrier
and the miracle was enacted. The impassive giant hardly seemed to
move. There was sharp tensing of the powerful frame, a flash of
sunlight glinting across the golden muscles, a quick movement of the
wrist that might almost have been a caress--and the flying mass of
bone and sinew was quivering at the gladiator's feet. There was not a
squeal or a kick. It was almost as though the bronze Titan had waved
his hand and muttered "Alive! Dead! Presto! Change!" and that thus it
had come to pass. The swift transition from life to death reminded me
of the wilting of a steer under the touch of the "killer" in an
Uruguayan _matadero_, where they slay by severing the spinal cord at
the base of the horns with a knife thrust. But there the twinkle of
the wrist snuffed the life spark in the body of a passive animal,
while here the same easy, effortless movement had smothered it while
it flared at full power in a quarter of a ton of flying flesh and bone
that was itself a Bolt of Death.

Another and yet another charging monster was crumpled to earth while I
was still lost in speculation respecting the manner of the passing of
the first, and it was not until the fourth or fifth fugitive appeared
that I gathered my wits together for a dispassionate study of the way
the wonder was wrought. Then I quickly came to the conclusion that it
was the almost absolute "evenness" of the charge that made the thing
possible at all. The surface of the runway was smooth and sloped but
slightly, while its narrowness and straightness at the "gate" held
the pig to an undeviating course whether he wished it or not. Though
he came at a great speed, the huge body advanced almost as evenly
as though running on a track, making it possible for a man with a
steady hand and nerve to locate to a nicety that little three-inch-wide
spot between the neck and shoulder where the point of knife must
enter to be effective. That vulnerable point would be covered by the
upward toss of the head that the boar has timed to make at the
moment of impact, and the whole success of the thrust depends
upon a quick forward step and a lunge that anticipates that toss
by the hundredth part of a second.

While he is waiting the native receiving the charge scrapes a shallow
depression in the path--something similar to a sprinter's starting
holes--into which the toes of his left foot are set for a firm grip on
the earth. At the psychologic moment the right foot is advanced half a
pace, the left leg straightened into a brace, the right arm, with its
extended cutlass, stiffened to a bar of steel--and the thing is done.
The keen two-foot blade, slipping between the shoulder blade and the
first rib, shores its way through heart and lungs, and its point may
even penetrate to the abdominal cavity. If the stroke is true the blade
and handle of the knife are buried to the wrist of the arm that drives
it and the charging animal crumples up into an inert mass without
uttering a sound. If the vital spot is missed, what happens depends
largely upon the extent of the error. If the point of the knife meets
a bone squarely--as rarely happens, however--the man behind it may be
thrown backward or to one side by the impact, and escape unscathed.
The usual miss, however, comes through having the point of the knife
deflected by the toss of the boar's head, and the result is a glancing
thrust which will probably leave the hunter still in the path of the
charge and exposed to the deadly side-swipe of the great back-curving
tusks.

It is not often that there is more than one wound--a charging boar
rarely returns to the attack once his impetus has carried him clear of
his enemies--and the consequences of this depend largely upon its
location. If a thigh is cut deeply enough the wounded man will bleed
to death; and if the slash is across the abdomen, though he may
linger, it is rarely indeed that blood-poisoning fails ultimately to
claim him for a victim. Because the wild pig is so foul a feeder,
there is also grave danger of blood-poisoning from the superficial
wounds on the arms and legs, but most of these, it is said, are
recovered from.

Tebu dropped another pig or two with the same easy nonchalance that
had marked his manner from the outset, and then, reluctantly, gave
place to the man next in line. This one was called Maro, and he was
reputed the champion pig-sticker of the leeward side of the island. As
first "backer-up," he had been chafing under the enforced inactivity
for some minutes and complaining that Tebu was taking the cream of
the sport for himself. The new "Number 1" was less massive of build
than his predecessor, but was muscled with the fluent undulations of
swift-running water--a man compact of watchsprings, a human tiger-cat.
Deftly and easily he dropped his first pig--a rangy boar--slapped a
flying half-grown shote contemptuously with the flat of his cutlass as
beneath his notice, and had just got well "set" on his toes again, when
that bane of the Marquesan pigsticker, a "double"--two boars running
close together--came charging down.

By all the rules of the game this twin terror should have been allowed
to go by unmolested, for successfully to stick a "double" is a feat
as rare as a triple play in baseball or the "hat trick" in cricket--a
thing to be talked about for years after it has happened. But it chanced
to come at the moment when the shifty Maro was just "on edge"--nicely
warmed up and steadied by his first pig and yet not wearied by
successive efforts--and then there was the Beretani--the white man--who
had to be shown what a Marquesan could really do in a pinch. Probably
the latter was the more powerful incentive. At any rate, without a
gesture or a glance of hesitation, he settled the toes of his left foot
firmly into their hole, poised for an instant in quivering readiness,
and then, with the swiftness of a striking cobra, lurched forward in
two lightning passes.

The first thrust, which was delivered at the full extension of his
reach, appeared barely to brush the neck of the foremost boar, but the
next--driven home with a short-arm jab like a pugilist's close-in hook
at an opponent's solar plexus--buried the full length of the knife in
the shoulder of the second boar, and brought it down in a heap, Maro
himself being tripped and half-buried under the inert body. That the
first boar had been more than scratched seemed impossible; yet there
he lay, almost at my feet, giving what appeared to be his dying kicks.
Tebu and his mate were extricating Maro from under the body of the
second boar, and it struck me that the humane thing to do would be to
put the wounded beast out of his agony. Accordingly, without taking
especial care to aim accurately, I directed a couple of bullets from my
".38" automatic at a spot behind one of the ears which appeared to be
vulnerable.

Just where the bullets struck I never found out, for the well-meant
shots awakened something besides the echoes of the rock-girt gorge. At
the touch of the lead the apparently dying boar scrambled to his feet
and made a dive for the lower end of the "gate." Tebu struck viciously
as the animal passed him, but only landed a harmless slash, and the
cutlass of the other native, flung on the chance of severing a rear
tendon, went wide of its mark. The fugitive, running blind but strong,
disappeared among the mazes of trails that led into the lower valley,
followed by the wails of Maro, who saw the feat of a lifetime marred by
the interference of a meddlesome outsider who had been too cowardly to
take a hand in the dangerous part of the game himself. Shouting
something in voluble Marquesan in my direction, he leapt back into
the runway as a renewed crashing broke out above, and stood savagely
on guard.

"What did he say?" I asked McGrath's boy, Tavu, who had stuck closely
to my side through all the excitement.

"He say he kill pig dead. You shoot gun, wake him up. Maro damn mad.
He say now he kill three pigs, all one time. Maybe he mean 'long-pig.'
Maro bad fella b'long Anaho," and he touched his eye with a finger as
a sign that it would be well to be on guard.

The good fellow probably did Maro an injustice in charging him with
harbouring the intention of converting my anatomy into that most
recherché of Marquesan delicacies, "long-pig"; but if there was any
doubt of his willingness, in his anger and disappointment, to tackle
three pigs at once it was effectually dispelled by the events of the
next few moments. The shouts of the beaters and the barking of the
dogs had been growing louder all the time, and the crashings in the
underbrush told that the pigs were now coming in increasing numbers.
Three or four of them shortly came tearing into view, and then--all of
a sudden--the path was packed with bristling black figures, the first
few running hard and free and the rest crowding and stumbling.

The rush of pigs as the beaters closed in was always to be expected in
this particular _cul de sac_, and McGrath had warned me regarding it.

"Get out of the way and sit tight," he had said; "and don't worry about
the boys. They'll take care of themselves."

I appeared to be sufficiently out of the way already, and Tebu and
the third native, as soon as they had caught sight of the impending
avalanche, came over and joined me on the roots of the big tree. I
watched them clamber up to safety and then turned to see the river of
pigs sweep by--and there was that sullen, scowling tiger-cat of a Maro
standing his ground in the middle of the runway. Of course, the proper
thing to have done would have been for some self-sacrificing soul to
leap down and snatch the would-be suicide from "under the wheels," a
task for which the powerful Tebu was admirably fitted by nature. I'm
not sure that the duty of indulging in this form of self-sacrifice
is included in the Marquesan ethical code, but even if it had been,
there was no time to put it into practice. Maro dropped his first pig
and made a pass at the second even as I looked. The two animals were
running almost neck-and-neck, so that the second thrust was hardly more
than a slight slash upon the flying brute's shoulder. It served to turn
Maro in his tracks, however, and not all of his super-feline quickness
could bring him around again in time to meet the rush. The shoulder of
the next pig sent him tottering sidewise as the animal passed, and in
another moment he had fallen fairly across the upraising head of a huge
boar in the van of the ruck. For an instant the shining bronze body
ceased to flash against the heaving black background, and then, as a rat
is tossed by a terrier, it was flung cleanly into the air, to come
slamming down against the gnarled roots of our _maupê_ tree and collapse
into a lifeless heap. The body seemed to have struck the tree hard enough
to break half of its bones; yet the worst injury, I told myself, must
have come from the terrific toss that had sent it catapulting through
the air.

After the rush was over we lost no time in clambering down to "view the
remains." Tebu was smiling sardonically, apparently not greatly shocked
by the tragedy and perhaps secretly pleased at having the only man in
the island who was held his equal in pig-sticking prowess put out of
the running. The other two natives seemed a little more upset, and Tavu
was muttering to himself the ancient Marquesan proverb which translates
literally as "Wild pig--'long-pig.'" This has lost its meaning since
cannibalism became practically extinct, but in the old days it
signified that when the men went out to get the meat of the wild pig,
there was likely also to be man meat to eat at the feast that was held
when the hunt was over.

The body lay on its back, inert as the carcasses of the pigs that
littered the sides of the runway. Tebu and I picked it up and turned it
over to reveal the wound which we knew must have been inflicted when it
was tossed into the air--and lo, beyond some bluing bruises, there was
no wound! We could only guess how so seemingly impossible a thing as
a man's being tossed ten feet by a wild boar without being slashed to
ribbons could have happened; but the most probable explanation seemed
to be that Maro had fallen sidewise across the head of the animal,
behind the tusks, so that the upward thrust of the powerful neck had
only resulted in a mighty push. No bones appeared to be broken. A welt
on the back of the head where it had struck the tree accounted for the
senseless condition of the scrappy pig-sticker, and this, as far as we
could discover, was the extent of the injuries. A dash of water from the
nearby stream brought Maro back to life again, but too dazed, for the
time being at least, to recall the resentment he had harboured against
me on the score of the pig I had "waked up" with my pistol shots.

The natives now cleared a space of brush with their cutlasses and we
prepared to rest and lunch in the shadow of the big tree. A fire was
started to heat stones for roasting a young pig that had been captured,
breadfruit and plantain were put to cooking, coconuts were opened and
guavas, mangoes and a lucious array of other tropical fruits were laid
out on the broad leaves of the _taro_ plant. And then came the women
to our Eden, and with them the Serpent.

McGrath had given the strictest orders that nothing in the form of
toddy should be brought along on the hunt, and this injunction had
apparently been heeded as far as the hunters themselves were concerned.
But the dozen or more girls who had come on later to help as beaters
and share in the division of the meat, claimed to have heard nothing
of the prohibition. Possibly it was a "frame-up" on the part of the men,
or perhaps it just happened. At any rate, when the beating brigade began
to straggle in, it became apparent at once that tippling had been going
on, and shortly I saw the bruised and battered Maro taking a long draught
from a calabash that was being held to his lips by a star-eyed minx with
a red hibiscus blossom behind her ear and a rakish chaplet of fern frond
tilted across her comely brow.

"Coco toddy," muttered Tavu, half in alarm, half in anticipative
ecstasy. "Plenty coco toddy b'long _vahine_."

It would be churlish, I told myself, to attempt to forbid the ambrosia
to any of the tired gladiators when the common herd of the beaters
had already been cheering themselves with it. Then--fatal mistake--I
nodded my head in acquiescence when an _epu_ was held up for Tavu, my
guardian, to quaff, and--but I had already taken a gulp of the liquid
fire from a calabash that a bronze, flower-crowned Hebe, with arms that
were symphonies of rippling loveliness and eyes that were twin wells
of limpid light, had brought and hung about my neck. Another brought a
wreath for my brow and a flower for my ear, and thus crowned the king
of the Bacchic revel it became all the more difficult to inaugurate a
temperance program among my festive subjects. There wasn't enough of
the toddy to put them in a cannibalistic mood, I argued; and, anyhow,
they were bound to have all they wanted, and at my expense, as soon as
they got back to Taio-haie.

At any rate, the "women did offer us of the wine to drink, and we did
drink," and it was all a very merry little "hunting breakfast." It is
not my purpose to write here of the imp who lurks in the depths of the
coco toddy calabash to spring out upon the unwary one who uncovers
him, as I shall have more to say of him later on in Tahiti. On this
occasion such mischief as was wrought was only indirectly traceable
to him, and it is by no means impossible that it might not have
occurred anyway.

This was how it came about: From time to time some of the dogs that
had strayed would come straggling in, and in nearly every case driving
a pig or two ahead of them. As the animals appeared, now one and now
another of the natives would jump up, intercept the fugitive in the
runway and bring him to earth with that easy, effortless neck-thrust
that, to the beholder, was more like a caress than a stab. But because
they had drunken of the insidious toddy and there were many spectators,
the stickers were more than ordinarily nonchalant in their motions,
and--possibly because I, also, had partaken of the toddy--the trick
kept looking easier and easier every time it was done. And probably
it was because Maro had been stimulating his dazed faculties with the
toddy that the recollection of the "double" I had spoiled for him
reawakened, and he began to tell the party how it happened. I didn't
need to know Marquesan to understand the fluent gestures which pictured
me resting comfortably in the tree while the killing was going on, and
showed how I didn't even dare to shoot off my pistol at anything but
a dead pig; and as for having the courage to stand before one with a
knife--the scorn of his "let-me-forget-it" expression was positively
effacive.

In my own action I have always told myself that toddy played no part;
but that delectable beverage certainly _was_ responsible for the fact
that Tavu, who was under the strictest orders from McGrath to keep
me out of mischief, only nodded approbatively when I picked up Tebu's
big cutlass from the grass and strode out into the runway to "make my
honour white." Tebu, with a roar of delight, seized another cutlass and
came out to "back up" for me, but I waved him indignantly aside,
resolved to do the trick alone. The good fellow stepped aside
obediently, but, unluckily for himself, "stood by" against an emergency.

Flower-crowned and sword in hand! I have called up that incongruous
picture in memory many times since, and always to caption it with some
classic title. Of these, "Bacchus in the Rôle of Ajax Defying the
Lightning" has seemed to me rather the most appropriate.

The crowd fell silent as a crashing and the barking of dogs in the bush
above told that another fugitive was approaching, for they scented
trouble with the Residente in case anything happened to the Beretani
who had been put into their charge. (I learned later that the natives
hunting with a French official who had been killed trying to shoot a
wild bull the year before had been seriously punished.) Thanks again to
the toddy, however, no one made a move to interfere.

It was an uncommonly unkind trick of Fate to have held up the only
really large boar that appeared in the course of that hunt until I, the
greenest of green novices, had set myself so defiantly in the middle of
his path that there was no graceful way of getting out of it. Also, it
was harshly ordered that, whereas the other animals had come charging
down as evenly as though strung on trolleys, this monster, with two
dogs nipping his heels, should be plunging and reeling like a ship in a
gale.

I had clearly in mind everything that needed to be done, even to
kicking the toe-hole for my left foot, and I kept repeating to myself
the words of my old 'varsity baseball coach to his batters--"Step out
and meet it." These words had been recalled to me repeatedly during
the morning as Tebu or Maro delivered his deadly thrust with a quick
forward step, and that, with keeping the eye on the vulnerable spot
between the neck and shoulder, seemed to me to be the crucial points
upon which the turning of the trick depended. I have since been told
that this is quite correct. But this procedure was calculated to be
followed in the case of the regulation direct-charging boar; what to
do in the case of a brute that was tossing his head in spirals, as now
this flank, and now that, was nipped by a pursuing dog, I didn't--and I
still don't--know just what to do.

Because I felt that I knew just what to do, and just how to do it, I
had myself perfectly in hand until, sudden as a lightning flash, came
the realization that the spot that I must strike between the neck and
the shoulder was not keeping on an even plane. I had experienced some
fairly exciting close-in work with grizzly and silver tip on a couple
of occasions previous to that morning, and since then I have stopped
the charge of a South American jaguar with a revolver and known what
it is to see a Bengal tiger clawing the howdah of an elephant I was
riding; but never have I known anything to approach the "all gone"
feeling which accompanied the realization that I was not going to be
able to locate the spot which _had_ to be located if I was to avoid a
collision that would make that of Maro's a friendly jostle in
comparison.

The instant the message "You can't do it!" was flashed to my brain,
the charging pig ceased to be a pig, so far as I was concerned, and
became a Car of Juggernaut, a Bolt of Wrath, the incarnation of
everything that was Swift, Terrible and Inevitable. Before I knew it
I had dropped the useless cutlass, snatched out my automatic pistol
and was discharging it wildly at the approaching monster. The rattle
of shots was answered by a burst of savage snarls mingled with quick
yelps of pain, and then, as the hammer snapped down on unresponding
steel after the last cartridge was fired, I sprang blindly to one side
and plunged headlong into the brush. That I dove into the unsympathetic
depths of some kind of a fishhook thorn bush, which took ample toll for
the intrusion when I was dragged out by the heels a minute later, was
only an incident in the light of the fact that--thanks to an instinct
for preservation that not even coco toddy had drugged to sleep--I had
avoided so much as a brush from the charging boar.

A roar of agony and shouts of consternation told me, even before I
was released from the tentacles of the thorn bush, that some one else
had got in the way of the charge that I had declined to meet; then
the noise of the pursuit passed on and died out beyond the "gate."
My pigskin puttees were about the only things I had on that did not
remain, wholly or in part, in the embrace of the thorns, but my own
scratches were quickly forgotten at the sight of the other victim of
the charge. There were two other victims, in fact--one a dog that had
been raked by a soft-nosed bullet from my pistol, and the other the
stout-hearted old gladiator, Tebu, who, leaping to take up the
challenge I had side-stepped, had fallen afoul of the boar itself. His
bulldog courage--or the toddy--had impelled him to undertake on
short notice the job the Beretani had shirked, and, with no chance
to locate the vital spot for his thrust, had lunged wildly and taken
the consequences.

The dog was dead, and it looked for a while as though Tebu, with a
foot-long gash across his thigh and bleeding like one of the pigs
that lay beside him, would follow suit. It transpired presently,
however, that no arteries were severed; so after staunching the flow as
effectually as possible with a torniquet and bandages that left several
members of the party nearly in a state of nature after giving up their
_pareos_ for the wherewithal, they rigged up a rough litter of boughs
and lianas and set off, not untenderly, to bear the wounded warrior
back to Taio-haie. There, thanks to the skilful and kind care of the
sisters at the Mission, he was soon on his way to recovery.

A month later, in Tahiti, I received a letter from Cramer, the German
trader of Taio-haie. After going on to tell how our friend McGrath had
been blown away in his cutter during a hurricane and was given up for
lost, he wrote:

     "I saw Tebu today. He is still very lame, and probably always will
     be, but he has been going out every day since he left the mission
     hospital to hunt the big boar that cut him up so the time he was
     out with you. He says he is going to keep on hunting it until he
     kills the boar or the boar kills him."

To this letter was added a postscript, written several days later,
which read:

     "Tebu brought in the big boar last night. He says he knows it by
     the cut he gave it on the shoulder. As we found no bullet marks on
     the body we have thought he is probably mistaken."

To this I replied:

     "Probably Tebu is right. I cannot swear that I was looking down
     the sights of my pistol when I fired those shots."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus pig-sticking in the Marquesas. It is bloody and cruel, as is
the killing of all animals; but, because the quarry is nearly always
dropped in its tracks, it is far less open to criticism on that score
than most other forms of hunting. But the finest thing--I may well
say, the grandest thing--about it is the fact that it is a strictly
man-to-beast, give-and-take affair, with the hunter meeting his quarry
more nearly on equal terms than in any other form of hunting practised
since the days of the Cave Men.

Of the wild cattle hunt which McGrath, after infinite trouble, arranged
for one of the final days of our stay in Nukahiva, I have written
elsewhere.



CHAPTER V

THE PASSION PLAY AT UAHUKA


The decennial Passion Play at Oberammergau is, perhaps, the most
written and talked about theatrical performance that has ever been
staged, and even the annual pageants put on during Holy Week in certain
of the Italian, Spanish and South American theatres have attained to
considerable publicity in other parts of the world; the Passion Play
of the French mission at Uahuka, an island of the Marquesan group, has
been witnessed by less than half a dozen non-resident white men, and as
a consequence the fame of it, except such hazy versions as have found
their way to France through the channels of the missionary society
records, scarcely reaches beyond the coral reefs that fringe the rocky
Uahukan shores.

Vague rumours of a strange Marquesan Passion Play had come to us before
we sailed from Hawaii, and on the arrival of the yacht in Taio-haie,
the capital of that group, we were assured that such a performance
was "staged" annually. The interest of this announcement was tempered
by the news that the last performance had taken place a fortnight
previously and that another would not be put on until Holy Week of
the following year. We did not make our projected visit to Uahuka,
therefore, and I was consequently unable to secure firsthand data
regarding this unique event. The somewhat fragmentary and frivolous
account I am writing smacks strongly, I fear, of the sources from which
my information was gathered, this or that trader and skipper of the
"beaches" of Taio-haie and Tahiti, and especially a fascinating renegade
by the name of Bruce Manners, who came off to the yacht one night in
Papeete and smoked a half dozen of the Commodore's Perfectos while
spinning us yarns of his lurid career in the Marquesas and Paumotos.

       *       *       *       *       *

All through the South Pacific missionary work follows closely the
lines of nationality, with the London Missionary Society dominant in
the British possessions, and French organizations, both Protestant and
Catholic, monopolizing the field in the islands over which the jaunty
tri-colour of France whips itself to tatters in the whistling Southeast
Trades. As the United States holds only a naval station at Pago Pago,
Samoa, and Germany is now out of the Pacific altogether, missionaries
of American and Teutonic extraction are a negligible quantity. This
alignment gives the aggressive British society most of the reclamation
work west of the 180th meridian, and the French the territory to
the east. The headquarters of the French missionary system is that
country's capital in the South Seas, Papeete, Tahiti, in the Society
group; but the active zone, the "firing line," so to speak, is in the
barbaric and cannibalistic Marquesas, and centres in the big island of
the north group, Uahuka.

The Passion Play at Uahuka has been presented, it is said, every
Easter for the last fifty years. It was inaugurated by the Catholic
mission, and in its initial presentation all the rôles were taken by
French missionaries, these being gathered from various parts of the
Paumotos, Societies and Marquesas and brought to the scene of the
performance in a specially chartered fleet of trading schooners. The
following year numerous minor parts were given to natives as rewards
for becoming converts to Catholicism--the competition between
Romanist and Protestant was very keen at this time--and before many
seasons had gone by even the leading rôles came to be filled by the
savages, the missionaries contenting themselves with such positions
as stage manager, musical director, mistress of the wardrobe and the
like.

This Passion Play serves admirably the purpose for which it was
originally designed, that of bringing home by tableaux to the simple
natives a more graphic realization of the dramatic events surrounding
the life and death of Christ than would be possible by mere words
and pictures, and while its tone would scarcely be characterized
as "dignified" by a dispassioned white man from the outside world,
its moral effect upon the natives,--temporarily, at least--is most
favourable.

The Passion Play is still presented in the same place that the
first performance by the missionaries was put on, a sort of natural
ampitheatre in the very heart of the Catholic reserve on the outskirts
of the village of Uahuka. The mission buildings, low rambling
structures of coral and galvanized iron, flank two sides of the
pentagonal enclosure. Two other sides are shut in by close-set rows of
banyans of such size that their roots and down-reaching branches mingle
to form almost solid lines of irregular wooden terraces upon which
hundreds of spectators may find seats without crowding. The stage is a
hard-packed piece of ground sloping gently down to a crystal clear
stream of water which meanders past, sparkling in the sunbeams like
a row of footlights, the position of which it approximately occupies.
Behind the stage is a creeper-covered wall of rock, with a face so
unbroken and sheer that the direction "exit rear" must necessarily
be eliminated from all performances. To the left is spoken of as
"down Ta-roo-la,"--the name of the little stream--and to the right is
"up Ta-roo-la." Actors waiting in either wings are screened from
the sight of the audience by the last of the rows of banyans which
run down close to the stream on either side.

The music is furnished by a slightly wheezy organ, a clarionet and
a lot of hollow-tree tom-toms, and to the stirring strains of the
Marseillaise played by this orchestra the opening curtain is rung
up upon the tableau of "Christ and the Children." Of course there
is no curtain and no ringing up; Christ simply strolls in from "up
Ta-roo-la," and the children troop in from "down Ta-roo-la," and they
meet in the middle of the stage. Then Christ pats them all on the head,
and they all file off behind Him as He exits "down Ta-roo-la." There is
no stage setting, and little is attempted in the way of make-ups.

The children are simply children and the part of Christ is taken by a
native called Lurau. Lurau is the greatest pearl diver and shark fisher
in all the Marquesas. With his hair and beard neatly oiled and combed,
and dressed in a trailing robe of snowy muslin, Lurau makes a far more
acceptable-looking Christus than one sees in many of the South
American presentations of the Passion Play. There is little in his
disposition off the stage to fit him for his exalted rôle, and before he
became a fixture in the leading part of the Passion Play he was a
veritable rubber ball in the way in which he bounced back and forth
between the Protestants and Catholics. He owes the distinguished
honour that has come to him to his beard rather than to his histrionic
abilities; he is the only native in the Marquesas--and, as far as is
known, in all the South Pacific as well--with a growth of hair on his
face.

[Illustration: "THE PART OF CHRIST IS TAKEN BY A NATIVE
CALLED LURAU"]

[Illustration: MARQUESAN MOTHER AND CHILD]

The simple white robe worn by Lurau is in good keeping with his part,
but this can hardly be said of a very tangible halo that has apparently
been cut from a square of shiny biscuit tin, a piece of literalness,
however, in which the simple islanders seem to see no trace of
incongruity. In fact, this item of make-up was added, it is said, at
the suggestion of a native who, after one of the early performances
of the Play, led the stage-manager to a coloured print in the mission
chapel and pointed out that the stage Christ had no such "fire-face"
as distinguished the one in the lithograph. He suggested obtaining
the halo effect by having the actor wear a lot of little _kukui_ nut
torches in his hair, but the cautious fathers, while acknowledging the
realistic possibilities of this expedient, decided on the jagged rim of
bright biscuit tin as safer.

During the week of the Play, both on and off the stage, Lurau is
quiet, dignified and a general paragon of virtue in every particular;
afterwards--he is just like all the rest of his brothers and sisters
of the Marquesas, prone to excesses. Lurau's post-Passion Play
spree is listed with the hurricane season as one of the regular
annual disturbances in those latitudes.

The second scene of the Play is that of the "Redemption of the
Magdalen." The latter, dressed in a bright red _holakau_ or
wrapper--the symbol of her sinfulness--comes strolling in from the
upstream side and discovers Christ resting on a niche of the rock
which forms the back wall. Her repentance and forgiveness follow,
after which Christ presents her with a pure white _holakau_ which he
chances to have tucked under his arm. She receives a blessing, trips
off down stream, changes _holakaus_ in the wink of an eye behind the
friendly trunk of a bread-fruit tree, and the "curtain" follows her
disappearance upstream in the trailing robe of white.

The Magdalen has been played by a different person almost every year.
The one who took that part in the last presentation was, so Bruce
Manners assured us, far better in the "red _holakau_" than in the
"white _holakau_" part of her rôle, her work as a repentant sinner
having been decidedly marred through a persistent tendency to ogle a
group of young trading schooner officers who occupied a proscenium
banyan.

For the "Supper" scene, no endeavour is made to reproduce a tableau
patterned on the famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci. Historic
truthfulness is not attempted even to the extent of a table. A
bountiful repast of bread-fruit, plantains, yams and coconuts is spread
out upon a cover of banana leaves, and everybody sits down cross-legged
and eats for fully ten minutes before a word is spoken. Supper over,
the remnants are gathered up and thrown into the convenient
Ta-roo-la, the waters of which carry them away in a jiffy. Then follows
the washing of the feet of the disciples. Lurau wades over into the
stream, seats himself on a convenient boulder, and as each of the
disciples comes out in turn, gives both of the latter's feet a vigorous
scrubbing with a brush of coco husk and a piece of soap. After
receiving a blessing, the disciple heads for the bank, and as each lifts
the skirt of his robe to clear the stream a well-defined "high-water
mark," running in graceful undulations around his lower calf, is
usually disclosed to the eyes of the audience.

The scene of "Christ Healing the Lepers" as presented at Uahuka is,
perhaps, the most realistic tableau, in one particular at least, that
is staged in any of the Passion Plays. Real lepers appear on the stage.
In the early days of the Play these parts were taken by entirely
whole and healthy people, but the missionaries were never able to
persuade the natives that, with so many real lepers ready to hand, any
make-believe in this particular need be indulged in. Finally several
of the lepers themselves--Christian converts--came to the Fathers and
asked what was the use of curing a lot of well people in the Play when
there were so many sick ones about that really needed curing. This
was hard to answer--to the satisfaction of the questioners--and the
upshot of the matter was that a half dozen of the cases least liable
to spread the dread disease were allowed upon the stage at the next
performance. Following the week of the Play it is said that a very
marked improvement was evident for several months in the condition
of every one of the unfortunates that appeared during its continuance.
Since that occasion the good missionaries have not had the heart to
refuse the prayers of any of those who have come to them at
Eastertide, until now it is necessary to divide them off into squads of
a score or so each, and allow a different squad to appear each night.
The government doctor at Uahuka claims that there has been a marked
decrease in the leper mortality of the island since this strange practice
has been inaugurated, and that no serious consequences have followed
the extraordinary mixing of the sick and the well at this season. No
unnecessary chances are taken, however, and the good Lurau who, in
his rôle of Christ, is more exposed than any of the others, receives
special attention after each performance in the shape of a
formaldehyde fumigation at the hands of the doctor.

One of the most interesting characters in the Play is Judas. From the
first it has been the aim of the Fathers to impress the natives as
strongly as possible with the real goodness or badness of the various
characters, and to this end, in the case of Judas, the natives who have
played the rôle have been repeatedly taken, on a temporary reprieve,
from the convict settlement. Judas has always been a bad man, actually
as well as artistically, and it is recorded that no less than half a
dozen of him have endeavoured to steal the thirty pieces of silver--in
this case Mexican or Chilean dollars, which pass current in the
island--with which he has been bribed. Of late years the thoughtful
Fathers have removed this temptation by binding the bargain with a
tinkling bagful of broken crockery.

The Judas of five or six years ago--one John Bascard, the half-caste
son of an Australian trader and a native wife, who was serving a term
for robbing a pearler--turned out almost as badly as his notorious
original, for he looted the mission on the second night of the Play,
rowed off with the Magdalen to a trading cutter anchored in the bay,
surprised the solitary watchman, threw him overboard, and sailed
the little boat off single-handed for the Paumotos, leaving the Play
to limp on to a finish with half-trained understudies in two of the
leading parts.

The part of Pontius Pilate has been played for nearly twenty years by
an old chief--a quondam cannibal--named Rauga. His costume is a
frogged military coat and a silk hat, the idea of the Fathers being to
effect a combination that will make the deepest impression on the
natives as symbolical of constituted power. The missionary and the
French soldier are the two most august personages which their simple
minds can conceive of, and the two most striking features of the costume
of each, united upon one person, make an impression incomparably
more profound than would a Roman toga topped off with an
eagle-crowned helmet, or any of the other combinations that are worn
by Pilate in the more pretentious Passion Plays. Rauga is inordinately
proud of his part, and the honour of appearing in it has held him
steadfastly Catholic in the face of active efforts by the Protestants
to swing him, temporarily at least, over to their side.

The costume of John the Baptist is, as might be expected, that of a
native novitiate--a black robe and a shovel hat. If Manners is to
be believed, the unfortunate individual who was cast for that part
a half dozen years back made a transient appearance in a somewhat
modified garb. This was a "Brand-from-the-Burning" called Ma-woo, who
had been converted a few months previously when the Fathers secured
his parole from prison, where he had been serving a five-year sentence
for illicit pearling. His most salient characteristic was an inordinate
fondness for coco toddy, a circumstance which was taken advantage
of by a couple of local traders to play a practical joke upon the
missionaries, with whom their kind, in the Marquesas as elsewhere,
have always been at open warfare. The present of a calabash of toddy
to Ma-woo, with the promise of another later, putting him in a
cheerfully obliging mood, he was rigged out in a ribbon-wide
breech-clout, an old dress coat and a battered silk hat, and with a
bulky volume of Sailing Directions under his arm was quietly
conducted to the "stage entrance" of the banyan theatre just in time
to respond to his "cue" in the John the Baptist tableau.

Manners gave me a photograph of unlucky Ma-woo, taken by one of the
traders before they "sent him on his mission," and if it is really
true, as is claimed, that John the Baptist appeared thus accoutred in
his tableau in the Passion Play, one can easily believe our friend's
assertion that two of the sisters fainted and that the Fathers caused
the culprit to be thrown back into prison to serve the remainder of his
sentence.

Ruth Ingalls, who has played the part of Mary, the Mother, for the
last three years, is a half-white girl of unknown parentage. She is
said to have a Junoesque figure, a face of rare beauty and a manner
of real charm. She is about twenty-five years of age--fifteen years
younger than Lurau, whose mother she is supposed to be in the
Play--and has been directly under the care of the missionaries since
the time when, a child of five, she was cast up on the beach of one of
the Paumotos with the wreckage of a Tahitian trading schooner. She
is supposed to be the illegitimate daughter of a French count--a
fugitive from justice in Tahiti a quarter of a century ago--and the
queen of the neighbouring island of Bora-Bora, a lady whose marital
responsibilities appear to have rested as lightly upon her as blown
foam upon the bosom of the Southeast Trade. But whatever her origin,
Ruth Ingalls is, according to all accounts, a young person of unlimited
balance and poise, has a good education, both as to languages and
music, and is possessed of a quiet and modest disposition. She is,
moreover, a good Christian in the highest sense of the name, and her
work in the mission school has been of incalculable value to the
Fathers. Her interpretation of the character of the Madonna is
doubtless somewhat naïve, but is said, withal, to be surprisingly
effective; her work in this part, indeed, being generally rated as the
only thing in the Play worthy of the name of acting.

Mlle. Ingalls, it is claimed, is heart whole and fancy free, though
they tell you in Papeete and Taio-haie that she has received offers of
marriage from every bachelor missionary, sailor, official and trader
that has ever come to Uahuka.

[Illustration: "PONTIUS PILATE HAS BEEN PLAYED
FOR TWENTY YEARS BY AN OLD CHIEF--A
QUONDAM CANNIBAL"]

[Illustration: "JUST IN TIME TO RESPOND TO HIS
'CUE' IN THE JOHN THE BAPTIST TABLEAU"]



CHAPTER VI

TAIO-HAIE TO PAPEETE


Before leaving Nukahiva the four of us from the _Lurline_, under
the guidance of our good friend McGrath, journeyed on pony-back
across the island to visit Queen Mareu of Hatiheu. The road led over
two 3,000-foot mountain passes and along the whole length of the
incomparable Typee Valley, immortalized by Herman Melville, and
though something like eight inches of rain fell during the nine hours
we were in the saddle, there were ample intervals between cataclysms
in which to glimpse the beauties by the way. Lovely as we had found
Taio-haie and Typee, however, the glamour of their charms paled before
the supreme grandeur of the bay of Hatiheu, the most sublime
combination of mountain, vale, and sea that my eyes have ever
rested on.

The cliff-girt bay of Hatiheu, like those others of Nature's
superlatives, the Grand Cañon of the Colorado, the Victoria Falls of
the Zambesi and the Himalayas from Darjeeling, is one of the kind of
things that makes a man feel foolish to attempt to describe, and I pay
my silent tribute in the thrill which never fails to stir my heart
at the mention of the name. My photograph gives a suggestion--just a
suggestion--of what a single _coup d'oeil_ reveals.

Hatiheu was McGrath's headquarters where, in addition to conducting a
trading business with the natives, he appeared to act as a sort of "Lord
Chamberlain" to the Queen. Her Highness seemed very fond of the
attractive young Canadian, and told us that she never took action in
important "affairs of state" without first securing his advice. His word
appeared to be law in the village, and I never heard him give an order
that was not instantly carried out. He told off a body servant to look
after each of us during our visit to Hatiheu, the one allotted to
Claribel being a grizzled old cannibal, with a black band like a
highwayman's mask tattooed across his face, who gave her a stone
knife which he swore he had himself used in carving "long-pig," and
who wept disconsolately on her departure.

One morning McGrath took us down to the beach and showed us with
justifiable pride a half-completed cutter--an open boat of about
thirty feet in length designed to be rigged as a sloop--which he was
building to use in picking up copra from other villages along the coast
of the island. All of the wood used had been hewed from trees felled
within a hundred feet of the beach, he told us, and all of the work
was being done with his own hands. The Commodore discoursed
learnedly on the lines and construction of the little craft, and the
rest of us commended its builder for his industry and ingenuity. No
one of us dreamed that we were looking at the frame of a boat which
was destined shortly to make a voyage that must be rated for all time
as one of the miracles of deep sea sailing.

Our intercourse with Queen Mareu was somewhat restricted as a result
of having to be carried on through the medium of an interpreter. We
found her a most personable young lady of about twenty-five, with a
striking face and figure and a glint of sombre fire slumbering in the
depths of her dark eyes that indicated temper or temperament, and
probably both. She had ascended the "throne" a year previously, after
her father, the late King, had slipped on a ripe mango in endeavouring
to elude the charge of a wild bull he was hunting. Her manifest
determination to rule her home as well as her people was responsible,
it was said, for the flight to Tahiti of her husband--a young half-caste
of little account--a month or two later. Since then she had ruled alone.
Of what mind she was in the matter of taking a "Prince Consort," we
were unable to learn; but a tender light in the sloe eyes when "Lord
Chamberlain" McGrath was about might have furnished a clue to the
trend of her intentions. Whatever these might have been, however,
Fate, as far as the near future was concerned, had other plans
incubating for the slender, blue-eyed trader to whom every one that
came in contact with him seemed to become so much attached.

The print _holakau_ or Mother Hubbard wrapper--which descended
upon the South Seas with the missionaries--would ordinarily hardly
be rated as a regal garment; but Mareu, with the sweeping lines of
her Dianesque figure softly outlined by the clinging calico, carried
hers as if it was a Grecian robe, and was distinctly--well, I noted
that even the Commodore was keeping his weather eye lifting
whenever she hove above the horizon. But she was at her best
when, in a bathing suit improvised from a _pareo_, she sported
with the gay abandon of a porpoise in a natural pool of pink and
blue coral where the beach curved up to the base of the great cliff,
or, perched cross-legged in the stern of her little out-rigger canoe,
sent that slender craft, a sliver of shining silver, speeding through
the surf-swept mazes of the outer reef. She was indeed a
consummate canoeist--quite the best I have ever seen--and in the
light of subsequent events I have often recalled the words with
which McGrath once referred to her skill with the paddle.

[Illustration: "HATIHEU, THE MOST SUBLIME
COMBINATION OF MOUNTAIN, VALE AND SEA
THAT MY EYES HAVE EVER RESTED UPON"]

[Illustration: A MARQUESAN FISHERMAN OF
HATIHEU]

We watched from the thatched roofed veranda of McGrath's quarters one
dewy-fresh morning when the whistling Trade had whipped up a more
than usually stiff sea outside, the course of Mareu's canoe where, with
Claribel as a passenger, she was shooting the breakers as they came
booming in across the reef. Suddenly the even line of the horizon was
blotted out by the loom of a roller of huge bulk and weight--"the
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son," as the sailors call it when they don't
use a stronger term.

"She'll hardly try that one," muttered McGrath decisively; "it's big
enough to founder a war canoe." And then, as the helio flashes from the
blade of a swiftly plied paddle told him his surmise was wrong, "Good
God, there she goes!"

The canoe gathered momentum, hung for a few moments on the back of the
mounting comber, and then "caught on" and commenced to race. Slowly the
wave gathered itself together and, as the water shallowed above the
edge of the reef, curled over and broke with a roar that rattled the
glasses on the arms of our chairs. For an instant nothing was visible
but foam and spray and tossing waters; then, clinging tenaciously to
the comber's flying mane--as a panther, teeth in neck and safe from
the animal's horns, rides the stag he has tackled--appeared the little
canoe. On it darted like the flash of a sunbeam, a smoke of spray
rising from its bows and the floundering out-rigger trailing like a
broken wing. Twice or thrice, as the tossing waters gave way beneath
the prow and the slender craft seemed on the point of "somersaulting"
over the breaker's brink, there came the flash of a steadying paddle
and the equilibrium was restored. Now the roughest of the ride was over
and a swift dash of a hundred yards remained before still water was
reached. Claribel, game but chastened, still lay low in an instinctive
endeavour to keep the centre of gravity down near the keel where it
belonged; but Mareu, mad with the ecstasy of swift motion, leapt up to
a hair-poised balance and, swathed in sheets of flying spray, finished
the run after the fashion of that other Venus who was born of the
sea-foam where the breakers travailed on the Cyprean coast.

I saw the Commodore lower his glass with a gesture of relief where he
had watched with the Mater from the veranda of the Queen's "palace,"
but McGrath was only smiling.

"If there was a reef and a surf hedging in the jaws of hell, that girl
would try and shoot the passage with never a thought for what she was
going into beyond," he said evenly as he watched her beach the canoe
and help Claribel to alight.

Absorbed in his thoughts, but still with his eye on the girl, McGrath
poured himself another glass of absinthe. Disdaining the aid of a
couple of her boat-pullers, she dumped the water from the canoe and
hauled it up to its shelter of thatch above high-tide mark; then, like
a spaniel that has finished its swim, she gave herself a vigorous shake,
so that her wealth of glistening blue-black hair came tumbling down
and swathed her spray-wet body to the knees.

"And by God!--" McGrath gave vocal expression to the thoughts that
were in his eyes--"with Mareu at the paddle I'd run the jaws of hell
myself!"

I had no inkling at the time of the struggle that was going on in the
man's heart, but later events, coupled with a recollection of those
sudden passionate words, brought me to something of an understanding.

On the last day of our visit to Hatiheu the Queen gave a great feast
to all of her subjects, the members of our party being the guests of
honour. The food consisted of the usual run of Marquesan delicacies,
but the _piece de resistance_ was the great bull secured on the wild
cattle hunt which McGrath finally succeeded in arranging at the last
moment. It was cooked whole in a huge underground oven lined with
stones, from which it was drawn in a condition to suit the taste of an
epicure. Like the Mexican _barbecue_, this method of cooking results
in meat that is delicious enough to counteract the dis-appetizing
effects of the disgusting methods of handling it. McGrath kept a
careful eye on the toddy calabashes, so that the feast, as Marquesan
feasts go, was a very prim and proper affair. Claribel, who was in
splendid voice, sang several English and Hawaiian songs, and finally,
the Marseillaise, from the "palace" veranda. The latter, with which
many of the natives appeared to be familiar, was received with
tumultuous applause.

At the Queen's command a bevy of very comely misses from the mission
school started a _himine_ or hymn, to the tune of a couple of tom-toms
and a concertina. Others joined in, and by imperceptible degrees the air
was changed until, almost before we knew what had happened, it had
become a rollicking _hula_. The frantic protests of the Mother Superior
passed unnoticed in the excitement, and not until that outraged
individual had seized one of the recalcitrants (who, yielding to the
delirious abandon of the seductive air, had begun to dance), and led her
off by the ear was she able to re-establish her authority. The indignant
Mareu, who had no love for the missionaries and who said she was just
getting in a mood to dance herself, promptly declared in favour of
bringing the spirited little singers back by force and letting the
festivities go on; but the diplomatic McGrath, scenting "civil war" in
the kingdom of Hatiheu, suggested that, as we all were to start at
daybreak for the long ride back to Taio-haie, it might be well to turn
in and get a few hours' sleep. The Queen continued obdurate and would
probably have carried her point had not a heavy squall come roaring in
from the ocean and driven the whole company to shelter.

My opportunities for studying the _hula_ in Nukahiva, which was once
famous as the home of the greatest dancers in the South Pacific, were
so limited that it would be presumptuous of me to dogmatise. I might
record the impression, however, that it is a spirited and soul-stirring
performance, and has this in common with modern "ragging" and "jazzing"
and "shimmy-ing," that it leaves nothing to the imagination on the
points to which it is endeavouring to give expression. For this
reason, if for no other, it may be worth preserving against the time
when the Pampas, the Sahara and the Barbary Coast of California are
incapable longer of giving a wriggle or a "writhe" sufficiently
suggestive to stir the jaded soul of Society. Pulses that have long
refused to throb a beat faster in the tangle of the "tango," may yet
have the life to quicken in the sensuous abandon of the Marquesan
_hula_. And in fancy cannot one hear it all over again? "The 'Hatiheu
Hug' and the 'Taio-haie Throttle'--who says they're disgusting? If one
 _wants_ to dance them disgustingly, of course--" How long will it
be, I wonder?

       *       *       *       *       *

Queen Mareu and her retinue, Her Highness in a flowing habit of print
and tapa and sitting an imported French side-saddle, accompanied us
back to Taio-haie, and on the evening preceding our departure came
off to the yacht for dinner and fireworks. Queen Taone of Anaho, who
chanced to be visiting in Taio-haie, was another of the distinguished
guests on this occasion. Besides royalty, invitations had been sent to
every one of foreign blood on the island, and all, with the exception
of John Hilyard, the tattooed man, had responded. French officialdom,
brave in gold lace and with straggles of orders across its breasts, was
out en masse; three of the genial Fathers from the Catholic mission,
one of whom entertained us with several selections from "Faust,"
"Carmen" and "Trovatore," sung in a magnificent tenor, also honoured
us with their presence, as did four officers from trading schooners in
the harbour, two of whom were in pajamas and barefooted. Cramer,
the German trader, was choking till his eyes bulged in the uniform of
an officer of a Prussian cavalry regiment which he had worn as a
slender youth, ten years before. McGrath put us all to shame by
appearing in a dress suit, the fine cut of which puzzled me not a
little until, later in the evening when he had thrown it aside in my
cabin, I noticed a tab with "Poole" upon it on the inside of the collar.

Entertaining royalty is ordinarily a thing not lightly to be courted,
but one has to get used to it in the South Pacific and after a while
comes to take it quite as a matter of course. The principal accessories
required are a phonograph or a music box, a cabin-ful of plate glass
mirrors, plenty of cool drinks, a few cases of fireworks, unlimited
bolts of print and an inexhaustible supply of barrels of salt beef and
boxes of canned salmon. These items, properly used, will insure social
success to the veriest tyro. In those calid latitudes, where everything
else appears more or less _en deshabille_, court etiquette is also
stripped of its surplus frills and, save for occasional disconcerting
surprises, contains little to baffle the uninitiated.

Queen Mareu had dined with foreigners many times before and her manners
were impeccable. Her Highness, Teona, had enjoyed fewer advantages than
her sister sovereign of Hatiheu, but even she--except for a little bad
luck in inhaling some champagne which she was endeavouring to make run
down her throat and thereby inducing coughing fits which nothing but
rolling on the carpet seemed to have any efficacy in checking--deported
herself most creditably. She was, to be sure, irresistibly attracted
by the agreeable salty taste of a long lock of her foretop which
got into the soup in the opening round, so that she returned to it
in all of the intervals between the courses which followed, and the
careless informality of her action in emptying the contents of the bowl
of lump sugar into the bosom of her _holakau_ might have been greeted
with raised eyebrows at Newport, or Cowes, or Cannes, but the quiet,
unconscious dignity of it all proved that she was at least "to the manor
born" in the South Pacific and quite disarmed criticism.

Dinner over, Queen Mareu retired to a reclining chair by the taffrail
and sat apart, moody and distrait, all of the evening, not any too
pleased, apparently, to have her handsome "Lord Chamberlain" so
much monopolized by the visitors. Queen Teona, on the other hand,
glad of the chance to become the centre of interest, was all smiles
and animation. Seated at ease on the rail of the cockpit, with one
dainty brown foot thrust through the spokes of the wheel and the
other polishing the brass binnacle, she related--through Cramer as
interpreter--stories which she had heard from her grandfather of the
time when Nukahiva was the rendezvous of the Pacific whaling fleet,
tales only less terrible than those of the days when the buccaneers
held high revel in the old cannibal feast ground at Hatiheu; recitals,
in fact, which I rather fancy the shrewd Teuton toned down considerably
in translation.

At little tables on the quarter deck the French officers mixed cool
green drinks from specially-provided bottles of absinthe, and in the
cabin, bowed over a chart, the trading captains gave the Commodore
careful directions for threading the passages of the treacherous
Paumotos. On the forward deck Their Highnesses' retinues fraternized
with the _Lurline's_ crew over a case of Yankee beer, now the sailors
raising their voices in a chantey, now the natives in a _himine_, and
now both together in indiscriminate "chantey-himines" and
"himine-chanteys."

In the whole cruise's necklace of tropical nights that one shines forth
with a sparkle all its own. As the afterglow faded above the opaque
mass of cliffs behind the village, the trade-wind shifted slightly
and came to us across the blossom-clothed spurs to the southeast,
suffusing, as with a draught of incense from the open door of an
Eastern temple, the whole hollow of the bay in the drowsy perfume of
the yellow _cassi_. As the purple shadows banked deeper on the ebony
water and night crept out from the black valleys of the mountains
lights began twinkling here and there in the bush, and presently the
lines of the verandas of the official residence were picked out in rows
of coloured lanterns. The surf broke uproariously along the shore in
bursts of phosphorescent flame, and in its pauses the barbaric cadences
of _himines_ and _hulas_ floated out to us across the star-paved
surface of the bay. On this, though they seemed to tickle the royal
fancies, the fireworks broke somewhat in the nature of an anti-climax.

To the good Teona's passion for "seeing the wheels go round" was due
the fact that the fireworks tickled something besides her royal fancy.
She had been permitted to pull the lanyard of the signal gun for half
a dozen salutes, to put the match to several kicking rockets, and had
just touched off her second fistful of Roman candles when the trouble
occurred. The paper tubes were popping forth their multi-coloured
contents in blazing showers when Her Highness, her face ashine
with perspiration and pleasure, reversed them in an ill-advised
attempt to see where the bright little balls came from.

In an instant a good half dozen or more of the purple pellets had
popped into the neck of the unlucky queen's voluminous _holakau_,
seeking extinguishment somewhere in the oil-glistening reaches of Her
Highness' plump shoulders. That the sufferer raked, as with a gatling
gun, the rest of the party with her sputtering candles in the pain
and consternation of the first touch of the burning balls of calcium
is hardly to be wondered at under the circumstances; and it only made
the more admirable the manner in which she pulled herself together and
tossed the spitting fire-sticks overboard before dignifiedly retiring
down the gangway to bathe her burns in salt water. Later in the evening
she rose to another trying emergency with equal aplomb in seizing an
erupting ginger ale bottle from one of her befuddled hand-maidens
and smothering it in the latter's flowered _pareo_ in order to save
the dignity and the gold-laced uniform of the Residente who, being
corpulent, had become temporarily wedged in his deck chair and was
unable to dodge the sizzling amber jet. This, I may mention, was only
the forerunner of many trying experiences that were in store for us
as the result of the violent unrest that enters into the contents of
a bottle of champagne or mineral water that is carried in imperfectly
protected lockers on tropical seas.

       *       *       *       *       *

At noon, on the 15th of April, the _Nukahiva_, a French schooner of
about seventy tons--the "greyhound" of the Marquesan trading
fleet--hove up anchor and got under weigh for the entrance with the
courteously avowed intention of showing us the way to Tahiti.

"_Venez nous voir en arrivant a Papeete!_" her captain shouted as she
came up past us and went about; and "_Merci--avec plasir!_" we faltered
back as we waved him a vigorous _au revoir_ with our napkins from the
companionway.

At one o'clock we were under weigh ourselves, beating out against such
baffling puffs of the trade-wind as found their way to the inner bay.
Sailing within four points of the wind in the smooth water of the
narrow passage, by two o'clock _Lurline_ had overcome the hour's lead
of the _Nukahiva_, and a few minutes later passed ahead and well to the
windward of her through the "Sentinels."

A number of our newly-made friends had come down to the beach to wave
us bon voyage, but the one to whom our glasses turned the oftenest
was a white clad figure that had stood immovable under the shade of
a coco palm while the yacht was in sight and which, as the southerly
"Sentinel" began to blot our tower of sail, had sunk down into a
dejected heap upon the coral clinkers. The memories and the thoughts of
the "Outside World" which our coming had conjured up for McGrath, the
man who was trying to forget the "Outside World," had proved almost too
much for him.

That pathetic little white heap on the beach of Taio-haie was the
last we ever saw of the young trader who had done so much to make our
visit to Nukahiva a memorable one, and whom we had all come to like
so well. Some weeks later, in Tahiti, I received a letter from Cramer
telling how McGrath, accompanied by a single native boy and with a
pitifully small stock of provisions, had been blown off to sea during a
storm in the little cutter he was building when we were at Hatiheu, and
had been given up for lost. And it was as lost that we mourned our good
friend during all the rest of the cruise and for many months afterward
until, one day, came the following letter, written from Tahiti: (I give
the essential parts of it verbatim for the especial benefit of those
yachtsmen who are prone to feel themselves the victims of hard luck at
having to spend a summer night out of port in a snug, decked-over
forty-footer.)

     "I have had a rather exciting time of it for the last six months,
     having been blown away from the Marquesas group in the little
     boat which I was building when you called at the islands. It was
     owing to the unshipping of the rudder, and as the boat had an
     overhanging stern it was impossible for us to re-ship it for four
     days, owing to the heavy sea. We had no oars with which to guide
     the boat, otherwise I might have fetched the lee of Nukahiva.
     We were more than two hundred miles west of the group when we
     finally succeeded in getting the rudder repaired, and had but a
     gallon of water left. As it then fell calm I decided to run for
     Caroline, with the breeze and strong current in our favour, and
     made the island O.K. within an hour of the time I calculated.
     To say that I had a hell of a time is putting it mildly. After
     trying twice to make Tahiti, and running into a southeast gale
     each time, I ran for Samoa, and the last five days of the run had
     the full force of the hurricane which swept the whole of the South
     Pacific from June 12th to 18th. It was so fierce that the
     _Sierra_--a 6,300-ton steamer of the American-Australian Line--was
     blown away from the Samoas and could not effect an entrance.
     Several vessels were piled up in the neighbourhood of Samoa, and
     many dismasted; yet my boy and I lived it out in a perfectly
     open boat.

     "We were blown away on the 7th of May, and made Tutuila on the
     18th of June, after having sailed more than 3,000 miles. The boat
     filled once, twelve miles from Pago Pago, and almost sank, but we
     threw everything overboard to lighten her, baled her out, and then
     slashed her through it with reefed foresail. She was the finest sea
     boat that ever split a wave, and at Samoa beat a twenty-tone
     schooner seventeen hours in a gale of wind from Savaii to Apia--a
     dead beat of sixty miles."

McGrath's letter went on to tell of how he had sold his little cutter
in Samoa, journeyed to Sydney by steamer, travelled for some months
in Australasia, and was finally in Tahiti en voyage to his old post in
the Marquesas. Subsequent letters received by the Commodore from
Tahiti were calculated to cast considerable doubt on McGrath's story
of having been blown away from Nukahiva in a storm, and hinted at
shortages of accounts and other things. It is quite possible these
charges are true--it will make no difference with our memory of the
man if they are--but if they are, the question that suggests itself is,
"Why did McGrath, after successfully reaching Australia, come back
again to the Marquesas?" At last accounts he was back under the
shadow of the great cliffs of Hatiheu where, I sincerely hope, his
high-strung spirit has ceased to be troubled by the conflicting
impulses to which he was a prey during the final days of our visit
to Nukahiva. The story of McGrath cannot be told yet, for the reason
that one of the strangest of its drama is still unplayed; when it is
written, if ever, I have gleaned just enough of what has gone before
to know that the record will be one of the most remarkable that has
ever been given to the world.

Of McGrath's voyage in an open boat from the Marquesas to Samoa, I
will comment here no more than to say that, whether he was cast away
or deliberately embarked upon it, it has gone on record as one of
the most remarkable achievements of its kind in marine history. The
_Lurline_ encountered, between Samoa and Fiji, the same hurricane
which McGrath refers to in his letter, and when I describe that
stupendous disturbance as it appeared to us on one of the staunchest
ninety-footers ever built, I will also call attention to the fact that,
five hundred miles to the northeast, a white man and a Marquesan boy,
half dead from lack of food and sleep, were pointing up the prow of a
pitiful little thirty-foot open cutter to the same mountainous seas and
roaring winds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Clearing the harbour of Taio-haie, sheets were slacked off and, with
a strong beam wind, we bowled away on a S.W. 1/2 S. course at a gait
which presaged a lively passage if it could be kept up. At 3:15 we took
our departure with the conspicuous Cape Maartens bearing N.E. and an
unnamed point on the west end of the island N. by W. At this time the
_Nukahiva_ was already hull down astern.

Encouraged by the first prospect of a steady and favourable slant of
wind since we left San Pedro, a good spread of sail was hoisted, which,
as the barometer was high and the sky unthreatening, it was hoped could
be carried all night. The sea was light, and in a gushingly fresh wind
the yacht reeled off ten and eleven knots an hour all through the first
watch. The breeze fell lighter after midnight, however, and squalls in
the morning and early forenoon made it impossible to carry the light
sails, considering which the run of 195 miles for the twenty-two hours
ending at noon of the 16th was very creditable work.

By the afternoon of the 16th we were clear of the treacherous squall
belt around the islands, and the strong, steady Trade from the E.S.E.
drove the yacht along at an almost undeviating speed, the log varying
scarcely two-tenths from ten knots for any hour. Toward evening the
benefit of a strengthening wind was offset by a rising sea, and through
the latter hours of the night we proceeded under shortened sail. At
daybreak the light sails were clapped on again and for several hours of
the forenoon but a shade under eleven knots was averaged. At noon the
dead-reckoning showed close to 230 miles logged in the last twenty-four
hours, and when the position by observation was figured it appeared
that a favourable set of current had added enough to this to bring the
day's run up to an even 240 miles. The temperature of the air was 86°
this day--the highest recorded during the voyage--and that of the water
was 82°.

At four o'clock on the afternoon of the 17th a ragtag of fringe was
reported off to the S.S.W., and word went around that we were sighting
the first of the dread Paumotos. This group--often down on the charts
as the Tuamotu, Low or Dangerous Archipelago,--is a cluster of a
hundred or more coral atolls covering several degrees of both latitude
and longitude of the extreme southwest corner of Polynesia. They are
noted for their treacherous currents and terrific hurricanes, and
are reputed to have had more schooners piled up on their white coral
beaches than any other half dozen groups in the South Pacific. The name
is a byword for all that is bad with every skipper who has sailed among
them, and "_Aussi sâle que dans ces maudits Paumotos_" is the last
degree of superlative in describing desperate navigating conditions. Of
harbours there is none save the lagoons of the atolls themselves, and
the entrances to these are so narrow and so beset by currents that the
passage of them is almost impossible except at the turn of the tide,
and is highly dangerous even then. Once inside the lagoon, however, the
protection from everything but hurricanes is perfect.

The average life of a trading or pearling schooner in the Paumotos
is but four or five years, and so notoriously world-wide is their
reputation as a marine graveyard that neither in Europe, Australia nor
America can a ship be insured that is plying in their trade. It is even
the custom to insert in the policy of a vessel running to adjacent
islands a clause declaring that no insurance will be paid should the
ship, by any chance, be lost in the Paumotos.

The island we had sighted turned out to be Ahii, one of the largest of
the group, and by five o'clock it had grown from a colourless horizontal
blur to a solid wall of white and brown and green, where the snowy
beach ran up to the dark boles of the coco palms, and these in turn ran
out in fringes of lacquered verdancy. At a distance of half a mile our
course was altered slightly to parallel that of the shore line, and in a
rapidly smoothing sea, but with an unabated breeze, we began running
down the low, even leeward coast of the strange island. From the deck
only the coco palm barrier, a tossing mass of up-ended feather dusters,
met the eye to windward, but from the shrouds, through rifts in the line,
could be seen great green gashes of the smooth lagoon. Farther still, in
blended brown and olive, the windward rim of the island stood out
sharply against a vivid turquoise ribbon of open sea, itself defined
against a dusky mass of cumulo-nimbus that was rolling in before the
Trade from the southeast.

Here followed a spell of the prettiest sailing that the good _Lurline_,
sapient of the seas of many latitudes, ever did, or probably ever
will do. We were sufficiently close to the steep-to lee shore of the
great atoll to be sailing in a sea as smooth as the land-locked lagoon
itself, yet at the same time were far enough beyond the barrier of
the coco palms still to enjoy the full force of a moderately strong
and remarkably steady breeze. We were anxious not to get too far in
among the islands during the night, and for this reason no light sails
were set; yet under mainsail, foresail, forestay-sail and jib the log
was shortly spinning up mile after mile with six minutes and less of
interval between each bell.

The wind was on the port beam, and blowing so smoothly that the
yacht, unshaken by the lift or slap of waves, held to her even heel
as though chocked over in the ways. Of pitch or roll or shiver there
was no sign, and for all the motion but that swift, undeviating
forward glide, she might have been frozen up in a fresh water lake.
She simply shore her way through the water as a draper's clerk
runs his unworked scissors down a length of silk.

At dinner in the cabin the unprecedented stillness was almost
oppressive. The familiar creaking of the inlaying on the mainmast at
the head of the table was no longer heard, nor the crash of waves and
the rattle of spray to windward, nor the shrill of spinning sheaves
and the rat-a-tat of the foresheet block on the deck. The only sounds
were unwonted ones--the tick of the cabin clock, the rattle of pans in
the galley, the not over-elegant flow of post-prandial conversation in
the forecastle, and running through all, the hissing rush of the water
along the sides.

The sun had set while we were at dinner, and the afterglow, in swift
tropic transitions, had flamed and faded and flamed again, and was
fading out for the last time as we came on deck. The sea to the west
still glimmered here and there in patches of dull rose from the
reflections of a few still-lighted tufts of cirrus cloud. North and
south it was darkly purple, shading to a misty slatiness where water
and sky merged in banks of low-hanging strati, and east to the island
it lay dead and opaque, save for the spots where it was pricked into
life by the images of the brightening stars. Overhead the Pleiades and
Orion's Belt and Sirius, the Dog Star, were turning from pale yellow
to orange, and from orange to lambent gold; to the north the Big
Dipper, half submerged in the sea, was tipping up slowly to pour out
its nocturnal libation to its stately _vis-à-vis_, the Southern Cross.
And under it all, swiftly, silently, mysteriously as the Flying
Dutchman, her track marked for a mile astern by a comet-like wake
of vivid gold, _Lurline_ went slipping down the lee of the long atoll
at an easy, even, effortless ten knots an hour.

Presently, just as twilight was giving way to full darkness, a red
light was reported crossing our bows, and we shortly made out a
two-masted schooner beating in toward the entrance to the lagoon,
nearly opposite to which we were then sailing. Several times across the
still water came the strangely mixed jumble of French and Kanaka and
English orders, mingling with the creak of booms as she was put about,
and finally the voice of the skipper cursing fluently because the tide
was running faster in the passage than was to his apparent taste. Then
a great yellow moon got up and sat upon the farther fringe of the
lagoon, and back and forth across the face of it we watched the little
schooner beat in safely through the narrow passage. As she left the
moon path a bonfire sprang into life somewhere upon the inner beach,
and through the serried ranks of the coco palms we saw her pink sails
crumple up as halyards were let go, while the sharp staccato of a chain
running through a hawse pipe floating down the wind told that she had
won her anchorage.

At nine o'clock it was decided to pass to the west of the island of
Rangaroa, instead of to the east as had been our intention, and to
this end the course was altered to W. by S. To minimize the chance of
overrunning our reckoning in the treacherous currents and thereby
piling up the yacht on the beach of Tikehau which lay beyond Rangaroa,
foresail and jib were furled, only the mainsail and forestay-sail
remaining set. Even under this greatly reduced sail seven knots an
hour were averaged all night, daybreak finding us off the northwest
corner of Rangaroa. Down the lee of this island--under sailing
conditions only less perfect than those of the previous evening--we
ran all the forenoon of the 18th, sinking its southwest corner early
in the afternoon, just as we raised a peak of the combined coral
and volcanic island of Makatea.

Makatea is famous as having been the rendezvous of the notorious
Marquesan half-caste, Boraki, quite the most picturesque pirate who
ever operated in that corner of the South Pacific. The story of the
retributive justice which overtook Boraki while endeavouring to cut out
and capture a missionary schooner sent to conciliate and convert him is
one of the most amazing yarns ever told, and the antithetic variations
of it that come from the opposite poles of "traderdom" and "missiondom"
are alone worth journeying to the South Seas to listen to. I shall
endeavour, later, to set down the account we heard--from the lips of
one of the principal actors in the remarkable drama--on a memorable
evening when the yacht lay at anchor in Suva Bay, Fiji.

As day broke on the 19th the mist-wreathed peak of Orohena, the
backbone of Tahiti, took form a point or two off the port bow, and
a little later the jumbled skyline of Moorea began to appear in a
similar position to starboard. The sun rose gorgeously behind a flank
of the larger island, the blazing southeast setting off in marvellous
silhouette the matchless "Diadem," the crown jewel of all Tahiti's
beauty. "The Diadem" is the name given to a row of little peaks
occupying the divide between the two great volcanoes that dominate
the east and west ends of the island. They are so symmetrically and
evenly set that the most unimaginative cannot fail to see their
resemblance to the points of a king's crown, a likeness all the more
striking when each point is tipped with gold and the whole
surmounted with a halo of light from the rising sun.

At seven o'clock the tall, white pillar of the Point Venus Light--so
called because Captain Cook took his observations of the transit
of the planet Venus from this promontory on June 3rd, 1769--could
be discerned towering above the coco palms that engulfed its base,
and an hour later it was abeam, with the bay of Papeete opening
up beyond. This name, meaning "Basket of Water," gives a
comprehensive description of Tahiti's chief harbour. The bay itself
is but half land-locked by the mainland, but across what would
otherwise be a comparatively open roadstead runs a partially
submerged reef, which, except for the narrowest of passages,
completely cuts it off from the sea. Inside is a mile of deep water
and a shore so bold-to that the trading schooners tie up to the
trees and load from and discharge to the bank.

At 8:30 we were off the entrance, and, as the sailing directions were
plain and the marks unmistakable, the Commodore decided to go in
without a pilot. The wind, which we had carried on our port quarter
since daybreak, was brought up abeam as we altered our course and
headed into the passage. It blew strongly and steadily, and to the
nine or ten-knot gait at which it was driving us was added the four
or five-knot run of a flood tide. The yacht raced through the passage,
as the Port Captain shortly tried to tell us in broken English, "like ze
diable try catch her," and during all of our stay in the island we were
constantly called upon to deny the persistent rumour that she was
equipped with power. Several who witnessed our entrance from the
shore even went so far as to aver that they distinctly saw blue smoke
trailing off astern, a phenomenon which never came nearer to
explanation than when Gus, a big Swede of the mate's watch who
was at the wheel on the occasion in question, admitted that he did
"sware a leetle when she go joost lak hell" out of sheer excitement.

We anchored a couple of cable's lengths off the British Consulate,
having made the 800 miles from Nukahiva in a little over three and
three-quarters days, eleven hours of which were run under mainsail
and forestay-sail only in the lee of Rangaroa. The best previous
record was between four and five days.



CHAPTER VII

CIRCLING TAHITI


The island of Tahiti has been the best known, or rather the most
talked-about, point in the South Pacific since those latitudes were
added to the mapped sections of the world. From the time that the
much-maundered-over mutiny of the _Bounty_ furnished the theme
for Byron's "Island," and later events conspired to produce Hermann
Melville's charming "Omoo" and Pierre Loti's idyllic "Rarahue," down
to the more numerous but less finished efforts of recent years, Tahiti
has been the inspiration for more literary endeavour, good and bad,
than all the rest of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia combined.
Undoubtedly it has had more than its share of publicity--latterly,
largely because it is so easily and comfortably reached from both
America and Australia--but the fact remains that it is uniquely--if
not quite unmixedly--charming, and that it is perhaps better fitted to
minister to the creature comforts of the visitor than any other of its
sister islands of the South Pacific.

Civilization in the form of the galvanized iron roof, the glass window,
the missionary, the _holakau_ or Mother Hubbard wrapper and the
whisky bottle has thrown its coldly corrective influence over the native
life of Tahiti; but if it is the Kanaka in his pristine purity that one
is seeking, Moorea and Bora-Bora--both in the Society Group--and the
Paumotos and Marquesas are close at hand, and any of these the
venturesome may reach by trading schooner, even if he is not so
fortunate as to have a yacht at his disposal.

Chief item in the visitor's program in Tahiti--after he has called on
the Governor, appeared at the Club and spent a small sack of Chilean
_pesos_ to see a _hula_ which has been so completely "expurgated and
legalized" as to make a Maypole dance on the green in his old home
appear Bacchanalian by comparison--is the hundred-mile drive around
the island. The roads are bad over half the way and the vehicles all the
way, but the ride unfolds such an unending panorama of sea, surf and
lagoon; of beach and reef; of mountain, cliff and crag; of torrent,
cascade and waterfall, and of reckless, riotous, onrushing tropical
vegetation as can be found along few, if any, similar stretches of
road elsewhere in the world. Our drive, in the company of the
American Consul, William Doty, and his sister, on which we were
entertained each day by a different district chief with
specially-arranged surf-rides, feasts, dances and _himines_, was
one unbroken succession of new and delightful sensations.

At Tautira, the village second in importance to Papeete, we were the
guest for three days of the suave and dignified old Ori, a chief
who was once the host of the Stevensons for many weeks, and who, on
occasion, fairly bubbled with piquant anecdotes of the great novelist.
Returning down the leeward side of the island, we spent a day and
a night with the wealthy Teta-nui in a big, comfortable two-story
house which might have passed for a Southern plantation home of the
ante-bellum days, and also found time to accept a luncheon invitation
from the scholarly Tau-te Salmon, relation of the late King Pomare,
university man and, on the occasion of his visits abroad, the fêted
guest of Washington, London and Paris.

Tahitian driving comes pretty near to being the most reckless thing of
the kind in my experience. It really isn't driving at all; "herding" is
a more appropriate term. If your vehicle has more than one seat there
will be three or four horses to haul it, driven "spike" in the former
case, by twos in the latter. These animals are attached to the rig by
traces that run to their collars, which, with the reins, constitute all
there is to the harness. There is nothing in the nature of breeching
for holding back, and, as the vehicle never has a brake, there is no
way the wheel horses can save their heels but by beating it down the
hills. A good driver will handle two horses unaided; beyond that
number a boy is required upon the back of each additional one. With
your driver and post boys wearing each a gaudy hibiscus or _tiaré_
behind his ear, with their braided whips cracking merrily at
everything from stray dogs and blossoms to the horses' ears and each
other, and with all of them raising their voices in _himine_ after
_himine_ with the indefatigability of a frog-pond chorus, your
progress, on the score of picturesqueness at least, has no odds to ask
of a Roman Triumph.

We decided to make the circuit by starting to windward and taking the
roughest part of the road first. In a mile or two the last straggling
Papeetan suburb had been left behind, the tall pillar of the Point
Venus lighthouse was passed, and the road, plunging into the half-light
of the jungle, became a grassy track. Here and there were breaks in the
encompassing walls of verdure, and through them we had transient
glimpses of the landscape--"that smiling Tahitian landscape where the
weeds laugh at the idea of road boundaries; where the sea, disdaining
regular shoreline, straggles aimlessly among its hundred islets; where
the mountains flaunt all known laws of natural architecture and the
wind disdains regular blasts; where the sun, as careless as the rest,
shines one moment above the palm fronds as clear as frosted silver,
and the next hides completely behind the lowering mask of a black
cloud--a kingdom of _laissez-faire_."

In the seventy-five miles from Papeete to Tautira by the windward
route there is an average of more than one stream for every mile, and
not a single bridge in the whole distance. As this side of the island
has an inch or more of rain daily for most of the year, it may be
understood that many of the streams are formidable torrents and by
no means easily forded. The approved way of crossing, especially if
you have a spirited driver and horses and are not without spirit
yourself, is to join your Jehu and the postillions in their cannibal
war-whoops and endeavour to take the obstacle like a water-jump
in a steeple-chase. Now and then--just often enough to keep you
from becoming discouraged and adopting more conservative
tactics--your outfit, smothered in flying gravel and sun-kissed spray,
reaches the farther bank and goes reeling on its course; usually a
wheel hits a boulder and you stop short; and here is where the
synthetically constructed harnesses--bits of old straps, wire, tough
strands of liana and vegetable fibre--vindicate their existence.

Nothing short of a charge of dynamite will move the boulder against
which the near wheel is securely jammed. With the horses going
berserk at thirty miles an hour, therefore, something has to give way,
and the Tahitian has wisely figured that it is easier to patch a harness
than a wagon. So it happens that when the latter is brought up short
in midstream, the harnesses dissolve like webs of gossamer and the
horses pop out of them and go on ahead. The driver, and any one who
chances to be on the front seat with him, usually follows the horses
for a few yards; those upon the back seats telescope upon one another.
The assistance of wayfaring natives is almost imperative at this
juncture and, strange to tell, with the infallibility of St. Bernard
dogs in children's Alpine stories, they always seem to turn up at the
psychologic moment.

From one such predicament our party was rescued by a bevy of girls on
their way to market. These, after a short spell of not unpardonable
mirth had subsided, manfully tucked up their _pareos_, put their sturdy
brown shoulders to the wheels and literally lifted the whole outfit
through to the bank. An hour later, after a similar mishap, we were all
carried ashore on the broad coconut-oiled backs of the half-intoxicated
members of a party of revellers, who left a _hula_ unfinished to rush
to the rescue. They were all real "mitinaire boys," they said, and were
"ver' glad to help Chris'yun white vis'tor." And to show that these
were not idle words, they offered to carry us all across the stream and
back again in pure good fellowship.

One of them, in fact, a six-foot Apollo with his matted hair rakishly
topped with a coronal of white _tiare_, had Claribel over his shoulder
and half way down the bank before we could convince him that we
were fully assured of his good will without further demonstration.
The imperturbable Claribel, having been "cannibal broke" in the
Marquesas, accepted the impetuous gallantry with the philosophical
passivity of the sack of copra she might have been for all the Kanaka
Lochinvar's care in keeping her right side up. This was our only
experience of anything approaching a lack of courtesy in a Tahitian,
and the victim's charitable interpretation of the act as a mistaken
kindness saved the offender from even being denied participation in
the division of a handful of coppers.

Hiteaea, a village situated half way down the windward side of the
island from Papeete, is as lovely as a steamship company's folder
description; the kind of a place you have always suspected never
existed outside the imagination of a drop-curtain painter. Half of the
settlement is smothered in giant bamboos, curving and feather-tipped,
and the remainder in flamboyant, frangipani and _burao_ trees, which
carpet the ground inches deep with blossoms of scarlet, waxy cream
and pale gold. Nothing less strong than the persistent southeast
Trade-wind could furnish the place with air; nothing less bright than
the equatorial sun could pierce the dense curtains with shafts of light.
Toward the sea the jungle thins and in a palm-dotted clearing, walled
in with flowering stephanosis and _tiare_, are the brown thatched
houses of the Chief. A rolling natural lawn leads down to the beach
of shining coral clinkers, which curves about a lagoon reflecting
the blended shades of lapis lazuli, chrysoprase and pale jade. A
froth-white lace collar of surf reveals the outer reef, and across the
cloud-mottled indigo sea loom the fantastic heights of the
mountains and cliffs behind Tautira.

The squealing of chased pigs and the squawk of captured chickens
welled up to our ears as we topped the last divide and saw the blue
smoke of the Hiteaea flesh-pots filtering through the green curtain
which still hid the village from our sight, sounds which, to the trained
ears of our island friends, the Dotys, told that their messenger had
carried the news of our coming and that fitting preparations were being
made for our reception. The wayfarer in colder, greyer climes sings of
the emotions awakened in his breast by the "watch-dog's deep-mouthed
welcome" as he draws near home, or of the "lamp in the window" which
is waiting for him; to the Tahitian traveller all that the dog and the
lamp express, and a deal more besides, is carried in the dying wails
of pigs and chickens, the inevitable signal of rushed preparations for
expected visitors.

Our driver and post-boys answered the signal with a glad chorus of
yells, and the jaded horses, a moment before drooping from the stiff
climb to the summit of the divide, galvanized into life and dashed
off down the serpentine trough of roots and tussocks which answered
for a road at a rate which kept the tugs connecting them to the madly
pursuing chariot straightened all the way to the beach. Some of us
were shouting with excitement, some with fright, and some of the less
stoical--at the buffets dealt them by the half-padded cushions and the
swaying sides--even with pain. Most of the unsecured baggage--cameras,
suitcases, hand-bags, phonograph records and the like--went flying off
like nebulæ in our comet-like wake; a man with a load of plantain was
knocked sprawling, a litter of pigs ground under foot, a flock of ducks
parted down the middle and a bevy of babies just avoided, before we
brought up in a shower of tinkling coral at the door of the Chief's
house. It was as spectacular an entry as even our postboys could have
desired, but our garrulous gratulation was checked an instant later
when two grave faced young women in black _holakaus_ came out to tell
us that their father, the Chief, had died the night before.

The good souls, in spite of their sorrow and the endless amount of
ceremony and preparation incident to the funeral of a Tahitian chief,
had made all the arrangements to accommodate us for the night, and
would neither permit us to take the road again for Terevao, nor to put
up with anything less than the best that Hiteaea had to offer. So the
evening of feasting which would ordinarily have been our portion, was
dispensed with, and we spent the night quietly and comfortably in the
house of mourning.

Beyond Hiteaea the road dips into the vanilla bean zone, and from there
to the Taiarapu Isthmus the gushing Trade-wind smites the nostrils like
a blast from a pastry cook's oven. Vanilla is one of Tahiti's budding
industries, and like everything else industrial in the Societies, seems
likely not to get far beyond the budding stage. The vanilla vine
requires little but heat, moisture, a tree to climb upon and a little
care. The natural conditions are near ideal in the jungle sections of
Tahiti, but the hitch has come on the score of care.

A number of Chinamen, with plantations small enough to allow them to
do their own work, are making a considerable success of vanilla, but
where Kanakas have had to be employed there has been nothing but
failure. A native set to pollenize a lot of vines--this has to be done
artificially in Tahiti on account of the absence of the insects which
perform that service in other countries--is more likely than not to
pick the orchidlike flowers to chew or stick behind his ear, or to
weave the new tendrils into garlands for his Olympian brow. They
tell you in Papeete that the vanilla industry is not flourishing
because of the increasing use of artificial flavouring extracts in
America; the real reason for its backwardness is the non-use of
an artificial--or any other kind of--labour extractor on the Kanaka.

At the Isthmus of Terevao the girdling highway swings back down the
leeward side of the island to Papeete. Tautira is reached by a spur
which is, however, much better maintained than portions of the main
road. The bush is not so dense in this part of the island as along
the road we had just traversed, but the mountains, especially in the
vicinity of Tautira, assume an even wilder aspect than any down to
windward. Knife-pointed pinnacles of every conceivable shade of blue,
green and purple are tossed together in an aimless jumble, showing
the skyline of a battered saw. Here a mountain has been rent by some
Titan to let a river through; there a mountain has refused to rend
and a river closes its eyes and launches itself over a thousand-foot
cliff, paling with terror as it realizes the magnitude of its leap and
changing from a bar of green jade to a fluttering scarf of grey satin,
finally to collapse into a rumple of white gossamer where the jungle
riots in shimmering verdancy against the foot of the cliff.

Unfathomable gorges with overhanging sides tunnel into the hearts of
unclimbable mountains; sheer precipices drop curtains of creepers that
dangle their be-tasselled skirts in the quiet river reaches hundreds of
feet below; ghostly castles, scarped and buttressed and battlemented,
now of mist-wreathed rock, now of rockpierced mist, fade and
reappear with the shifting of the curtains of the clouds; and above is
the flaming, sun-shot sky, below the wind-tossed, diamond-sprinkled
ocean. Very pertinent was Claribel's observation in point.

"What does the Frenchman want of absinthe and the Chinaman of
opium when they both have a place like this to look upon?" she
ejaculated between jolts as we bounded along between the mountains
and the sea on this last lap of the outward journey; "it is a dream
that nothing but a flying Tahitian chariot brought up short by a
four-foot mid-river boulder can bring you out of."

An instant later the very thing which Claribel had defined as alone
being equal to waking one from his dream of the mountains had
eventuated, and because the left fore wheel had been called upon to
stand more than its share of such jolts, it dished up like a closed
umbrella, collapsed, and precipitated every one and everything in
the long-suffering old vehicle into the water. Luckily, Tautira, our
destination, lay just beyond the farther bank and, salvaging a couple
of bags containing changes of only slightly wet clothes, we waded
out and proceeded on foot to the house which Chief Ori had
prepared for us, leaving the driver to bring on the wreckage at
leisure.

Tautira, though the second town of the island, is almost entirely
a native settlement, the "foreign colony" consisting of but one
missionary, one trader and one French official. This does not mean
that the town is backward or decadent, but rather to the contrary.
Missionaries, as a pretty general rule, will always be found thickest
on the "firing line," and where operations are in the hands of a single
white or native preacher it may be taken to indicate that the people,
professedly at least, are well within the fold. There is but one trader
in Tautira because the natives are shrewd enough to own their own
cutters and trade directly with Papeete. The official is there to collect
taxes, not because he is needed to keep order. As far as morals are
concerned, Consul Doty expressed it very well when he said that
"there is more mischief to the square foot--or should I say the
rounded ankle?--in Papeete than in all of Tautira."

Except for its scenery, Tautira's chief claim to distinction is Ori,
and Ori's chief claim to distinction is the fact that he was the host
for a month or more of Robert Louis Stevenson's party on the
novelist's first cruise to the South Seas in the _Casco_. Stevenson,
still weak from overwork and hardly yet beginning to feel the
beneficial effects of the cruise, was ill during nearly all of his stay
in Tautira. No account of this visit appears in his South Sea book,
but in the published letters of his mother it is written of at length,
and most entertainingly.

From Mrs. Stevenson's account it would appear that the party was
tendered the usual round of feasts, dances and gifts, and countered
with feasts and gift-givings of its own. They tell you in Papeete
that Stevenson's illness during this visit made him see their island
through dark glasses, and that this was the reason that he ultimately
settled in Samoa instead of Tahiti. From the standpoint of picturesque
and tropical loveliness Tautira, and even Papeete, is distinctly ahead
of Apia, so that it is more likely that the greater attractiveness of the
incomparable Samoan native who, then as now, was much less
touched by white influence than the Tahitian, turned the scale in
favour of the more westerly group for the novelist's home.

Ori--a wily old hypocrite whose six-feet-four of stature, unlike
that of most Tahitians, is not cumbered with an ounce of superfluous
flesh--made a great point of assuring us that the whole plan of
entertainment provided for our party was patterned on that which he
had dispensed to the Stevensons. We were quartered in one of the
houses the Stevensons had occupied; quite as many pigs and chickens
were slaughtered for our "native" feasts as for those of the Stevensons;
full as many singers were mustered for our _himines_ as turned out
for the Stevensons; he would lavish quite as rich gifts upon us as he
did upon the Stevensons, and--the Stevensons had given him such and
such and such things, ad infinitum. Inasmuch as we were paying for our
entertainment at a rate which we knew to be about a hundred per cent.
above the normal, there was little of base ingratitude in the remark of
the Commodore who, when his knife blade turned on the rubberoid leg
of one of Ori's broilers, asked that venerable rascal if the drumstick in
question came from one of the chickens left over by the Stevensons.

For some reason chickens, like wine, refuse to age properly in the
South Pacific. It may be the heat, it may be the humidity; at any rate
a chicken of greater age than two months, however cooked, makes a
_piece de resistance_ in a most painfully literal sense. Luckily, the
Tahitian pig, cooked in island fashion, is as much above the average
porker of temperate latitudes as the Tahitian broiler falls below the
standard in his class. Any kind of a cut from a six-months-old
coconut-fed pig, cooked on hot stones and served with the inimitable
_miti-hari_ sauce, will awaken an ecstasy in the palate the memory
of which cannot be eradicated by a lifetime of gastronomic
experience with the most vaunted viands of other climes. The recipe
for preparing this incomparable delicacy would be about as follows:

Dig a hole in the ground big enough comfortably to bury a pig in and
fill it with smooth, round river-bottom stones. Collect half a cord
or so of dry wood and start a fire on the stones. Leaving a boy to
stoke the fire, take the eight or ten hours in which the stones are
coming to a dull cherry red to find just the right sort of a pig. From
three to six months is the best age, and, if possible, get an animal
that has been penned and fed upon nothing but young coconuts. If there
has been a few odd bread-fruits, bananas, mangoes, papayas, avocados,
star-apples and the like thrown in to him occasionally it will not
make much difference, but avoid the young porker that has rustled for
himself about the copra shacks and along the beach.

Kill the pig and dress in the usual manner, but without cutting off the
head and feet or removing the skin. Wrap the body several inches deep
in banana or plantain leaves and plaster the whole thickly with sticky
mud. Then, if the stones are red, remove them with a pole, throw in the
wrapped pig and push them back again. Best to let a native watch the
progress of the cooking, as a great deal depends upon taking out the pig
at the right time, and a lifetime of experience is required to forecast
the precise condition to which it is roasted from a whiff of the steam.

You might try your hand with _miti-hari_ before leaving the rest of
the feast for the natives to prepare. This is the sauce par excellence
of the South Pacific, and, as far as my own experience goes, quite
without a peer in any other part of the world. Send for a quart of
grated coconut meat (most of the native houses keep it on hand), and
after soaking it for a few minutes in sea water, pour out on a square
of stout muslin, twist the corners of the latter together and bring all
the pressure possible to bear on the contents. The result is a cupful
of thick, rich milk which, on the addition of the juice of a couple of
limes and a red pepper or two, becomes the marvellous and
transmutative _miti-hari_.

I recall hearing in Papeete a story concerning the amazing things
that tourists have eaten under the gastronomic intoxication incident
to tasting the wonderful miti sauce with which they--the things--were
dressed. I believe a piece of rubber blanket was on the list. I don't
exactly recall what else, though I do remember hearing Claribel say
that a dash of _miti-hari_ on the story itself might make it easier to
swallow. But Claribel, unduly proud of her own salad dressings, was
somewhat prejudiced against the incomparable Tahitian sauce.

The Tahitian "native" feast does not differ in any salient particulars
from the often-described Hawaiian _luau_. The guests sit on the ground
and eat the various "dishes," which are spread before them on banana
leaves, from their fingers. In addition to pig, chicken and the
inevitable breadfruit, the menu always includes a liberal supply of fish,
both cooked in _ti_ leaves and pickled raw in lime juice; taro, boiled
and mashed; bananas and plantain of a dozen different varieties; fillet
of squid, very exquisite prawns and your choice of a score of varieties
of strange and delicious tropical fruits with unwritable names.

If the feast is given you by a person of wealth and importance, or if
you are paying a chief like the canny Ori a sum sufficient to make it
an inducement, you may get a taste of coconut sprout salad. The raw
fish is far from unpalatable and the prawns are exquisite, but the coco
sprout salad is the only dish of the lot worthy to be mentioned in the
same breath with the _miti-hari_-ed pig. Unfortunately, as every tiny
sprout in the salad means the death of a young coco palm, the dish is
more often discussed than digested. A substitute made of the tender
fronds of young ferns is itself pretty near a high-water mark until you
have tasted that from coco sprouts. As for the coco-fed pig and the
_miti-hari_ dressing, if it doesn't prepare your face for a look of
distant superiority whenever again you hear men extolling this or that
culinary achievement as worthy of place on the top-most pinnacle of
gastronomic excellence, it is because you are suffering from atrophy of
the palate.

_Kava_, so popular in the Samoas and Fiji, was not--Byron to the
contrary notwithstanding--and is not, drunk in Tahiti. Feasting with
natives outside of missionary circles, you will probably have a chance
to "experience" orange wine. This is a harmless-looking beverage
of insinuating ways, in the lucent depths of the first three or four
coco shell cups of which lurks no hint of the devil who is curled up in
the bottom of the fifth or sixth, and all thereafter. The proverbial
ungentlemanliness of the onslaught of a "battleship" punch upon a
débutante at her first dance on board is nothing to the "assault from
ambush" of orange wine upon the unwary stranger who dallies
overlong above its cup.

Coco wine--not the coco toddy that figured in my Marquesan pig hunt,
which is a baser concoction--fermented from a juice drawn from the
heart of the trunk of that palm, is expensive and hard to obtain at any
cost. It is a gentleman's drink, however, and scorns to practise any of
the "behind-the-back" tactics of the soft-footed orange thunderbolt.
It romps down the throat like a torch-light procession and promptly
starts a conflagration that spreads like wild-fire from the head to the
heels. An American Indian after a couple of _epus_ of coco wine would
commence murdering his fellows, as he does under the influence of the
fiery _mescal_; the gentle Tahitian in like instance, though quite as
much uplifted, both mentally and physically, as the redskin, is content
to murder sleep--his own and every one's else. He enters upon a period
of song and dance which lasts as long as the supply of wine, and there
is no peace within a quarter-mile radius of the centre of disturbance.

In America or Europe a man showing the same symptoms as does a
Kanaka under the influence of coco wine would be gagged,
strait-jacketed and thrust into a padded cell. In Tahiti the smiling
policeman, if the offender becomes too boisterously obstreperous,
accomplishes a similar result by pitching him into the sea. At first
blush this strikes one as being a somewhat drastic proceeding, but the
Tahitian, being amphibious, rarely comes to harm in the water. Indeed,
I have the assurance of a prominent merchant of Papeete that "you
would be surprised how few of these ducked natives are really
drowned!" I will return to the Tahitian in his "lighter moments" in
another chapter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ori's resources of entertainment, by a strange coincidence, came to an
end at the same time as did our big sack of Chilean _pesos_, and we
returned by the smooth, well-metalled leeward road to Papeete, where
we were planning two or three affairs on the yacht in an endeavour to
make a small return of the hospitality we had enjoyed from the day
of our arrival. We still had something to learn about "Society in
the Societies," however, and we were on our way to the initiation.



CHAPTER VIII

SOCIETY IN THE SOCIETIES


The Society Islands took their name from the Royal Geographical
Society, which sent an expedition there in 1868 to observe the transit
of Venus, not, as might be supposed, from any predilection of the early
or latter-day inhabitants to afternoon teas, dinners, dances, masques,
routs and the like. There were, to be sure, functions which might
freely be classed under some of these heads, but as the foreign visitor
who was bidden usually finished up much after the fashion of the lady
who went out to ride on the tiger, except in the literal interpretation
of a social gathering as a "polite intermixing of people," they could
hardly be called social from his standpoint. Yet today, socially,
Papeete--at least so far as red tape and ceremony go--is the most
finished capital of the South Pacific. These things are, in fact,
rather overdone for so remote a tropical outpost, and the intricate
system of precedence set up by French officialdom, and the constant
danger incident to the inadvertent bringing together of those within
and without the pale, made one long at times for the bluff informality
of Apia and the whole-hearted hospitality of Suva or Honolulu.

There is no lack of kindness on Tahiti's part to the stranger within
her gates; if any complaint is to be made on that score, in fact, it
is that there is too much of it. The trouble lies in the fact that
there are, as elsewhere in the South Pacific, two broadly defined
cliques--the missionary and trader--between which there is war
to the knife. French officialdom constitutes a third clique which,
while keeping itself pretty well aloof from the other two, still
complicates their relations considerably. This alignment does not
seem so impossible on the face of it, for there are cliques in all
climes, and a world of unsegregated human elements would be
unthinkable. You will choose your friends from the best in both
camps, you may tell yourself, but how soon do you find that in the
Guelph-and-Ghibelline warfare of the missionary and trader no
sort of "run-with-the-hare-and-hunt-with-the-hounds" position is
possible. If you are going to stay in the island you may just as well
enlist under the banner of one force or the other at the outset, for
there is no such thing as a recognized noncombatant and you are
just as likely to go down between the contending forces in trying
to keep out of the combat as in fighting in their ranks.

But under which banner will you enlist? There, indeed, comes the rub.
You think it will be easy to decide, do you? Perhaps so; but suppose
you take a few days to hear what the contenders have to say for
themselves. You will find some very plausible chaps on both sides.

"Upon what meat has this our missionary fed?" paraphrases one of your
trader acquaintances, who claims to have been a university man before
his "pater" paid his debts and cut him off without a farthing. He always
comes out with Shakespeare after about the fourth glass of rum, you
learn shortly, and as inevitably lapses into the vernacular of the
"beach" with something of the nature of "Why, blyme me, them
swaller-tailed blokes would have been butchered an' eaten a hundred
years ago if it wasn't fer us traders an' our shootin' irons to hold
down the blacks."

After an evening of this you feel that the traders are a much
misunderstood lot until, in the missionary's Sunday sermon, you hear
them sorrowfully referred to as "our sinful brethren whose very
existence here would have been impossible had not our teachings
shown the savage the error of his blood-thirsty ways." Then you
realize that it is the trader who, after all, is in the wrong, until, on
the following day, you drop in at a copra shack on the Broom Road for
a drink of coco water, and learn that it was missionary denunciation
that was responsible for the massacre of Boyle and Wells at Rangaroa
in 1891, and that the captain of the missionary schooner, _Croix de
Sud_, was severely censured by the governor for abandoning the
trader, Wilkes, to his fate during an uprising in the Tongas in 1903.

At heart, of course, you are in sympathy with the missionaries, so
that it is with a secret satisfaction that you hear the ascetic,
frock-coated gentleman, whom you fall in with a couple of miles
farther along, nail these last stories as "unmitigated and
devil-inspired lies," and go on to cite "unimpeachable authorities" to
prove that traders instigated the "cutting out" of the missionary
schooner, _Morning Star_, in the Hervey Group in 1899, and that
traders were guilty of having incited the natives who killed Chalmers
in New Guinea a year or two later. In spite of your sympathies,
however, your confidence in the missionaries is badly shaken when,
in the pauses of the _hula_ which has been arranged for your especial
benefit, you get "the real straight of it" from "Kangaroo Pete" the same
evening, but how ashamed you are of your doubts when you meet the
"Board of Conversion of the Affiliated Missionary Societies of the
South Pacific at the Consulate" the following afternoon and hear the
members "lay bare the mainspring of every action" of its
representatives since the days of the "blessed John Williams."

Vacillating between the Scylla and Charybdis of "Missionarydom"
and "Traderdom," and torn by the conflicting currents of doubt and
belief, you end by soundly rating yourself as an invertebrate weakling
incapable of forming a fixed opinion on any subject, and decide to
take the advice of a sagacious Australian traveller who said that he
had found the best course to pursue in the South Pacific was to "trade
with the traders and 'mish' with the missionaries." But, as I have
already pointed out, that you are quite as likely to come to grief as
a non-combatant as in carrying a pike, the experience of our party in
endeavouring to discharge its social indebtedness in Tahiti goes to
prove.

The best characterization I have heard of social Papeete was that of a
visiting Englishman who applied to it what some other Englishman
once said about Hammersmith--"A lot of variegated grievances, each
unit of which believes himself a little tin Providence on wheels."

The truth of this astute observation will hardly be brought home to
the run of visitors to Tahiti who, stopping over but the few days
between boats, have more opportunity to receive than to dispense
entertainment. By us of the _Lurline_ it was never suspected until,
in a devil-inspired moment, we decided to wipe out our accumulated
obligations in a single day by giving a tea and a sail in the afternoon
and a buffet deck supper, with fireworks, in the evening. What an
excellent idea, that of the two functions, we told ourselves--one for
the "earth-earthy" set and the other for the "church-churchy" set. How
lucky it was that the line of cleavage between them was so clearly
demarked!

We called in the suave, diplomatic young consul, with his intricate
knowledge of the most recondite of the cogs of the wheels within the
wheels of the machine of Tahitian society, and started on the list for
the afternoon affair, to which the "missionary set" was to be invited.

"Father Le P----," we began.

"Yes," acquiesced the Consul.

"The Reverend D---- and family."

"Ye-es."

"The Reverend B---- and wife."

"Um-well, hardly. He's Anglican, you know, and there's been some
trouble with Father Le P---- over converts. Better not put them down."

"The R----'s, who had us to tea when we drove around the island.
They're of the missionary set, aren't they?"

"Yes, but they're Presbyterians. They have a suit on now for some of
the Catholic land which adjoins them; so they wouldn't do with Father
Le P----. But they're friends of the B----'s, though. You might put the
B----'s down and scratch Father Le P---- off."

The next two families mentioned were at odds with both of the
sub-factions, the lines of which we were plotting, and so were not put
down at all for the moment. Then came three that were friendly to
Father Le P----, which resulted in his name being added again, while
those of the B----'s and the R----'s were scratched off. And so it went
on for a couple of hours. The missionary set ultimately resolved itself
into five irreconcilable factions, and to these we discharged our
obligations separately with the two teas and a dinner on board and a
tea and a dinner at the hotel.

The list of the trader and official set was more complicated still.
His Excellency, the Governor, we started with, of course. Monsieur le
Secretaire was also passed, but Captaine G---- could not be included
because he had recently come to blows with the Secretary over cards
at the Cercle Militaire. The dashing Major L---- was passed, but not
Lieutenant P----, of the gunboat, who was in the black books of
Government House because he had once violated official etiquette by
bringing a jag to dinner instead of acquiring it during the evening.
Le Compte de R---- it was also necessary to leave off from our
Number One list because he and the truculent Secretary had recently
quarrelled over the question of precedence at an official reception.

Without a "trial balance" we quickly came to the conclusion that the
Anglo-Saxons and the Germans--except the Consuls--would not do
with the French; so an evening of green drinks was planned for the
latter by themselves. The Anglo-Saxon list was the hardest task of
the lot, and before it was completed we learned that A---- had another
wife living in Auckland and that the children of the two families
visited back and forth; that the present Mrs. B---- was the first Mrs.
C----, and before that was a barmaid in D----'s saloon; that the E----'s,
F----'s, G----'s and H----'s were involved in a four-cornered lawsuit and
were not on speaking terms; that the Misses I---- travelled to Sydney
and back unchaperoned and carried on something scandalous; that
J----'s son eloped with K----'s daughter and deserted her in San
Francisco for a vaudeville actress; that--but these samples will,
perhaps, prove sufficient to give an idea of the nature of the tasks
which confronted us.

Even under the coaching of the sympathetic and almost omniscient
Consul, feuds which had smouldered unsuspected or differences which
had cropped up over night supervened to cast palls of frigidity over
even the gayest of our gatherings, and the most fervently thankful
moment we knew in the course of the whole cruise was the one in which
the last boatload of the guests from the last of our half score or
more of "duty" parties cleared the gangway and we told ourselves that
all was over without a single shooting affray, fist fight or even a
hair-pulling.

How much simpler entertaining had been in the Marquesas, where
the common run of social feuds were along the line of that of
"Chewer-of-Thumbs," who was reluctant about coming aboard with
"Masticator-of-Boys'-Ears" on the ground that the latter's grandfather
had eaten his--the "Chewer's"--grandmother, and afterwards was said to
have complained of indigestion. "Fancy--indigestion from one of the
'Chewer-of-Thumbs' lineage!" And all we had to say was that the idea
was so preposterous that it must have been meant as a joke; upon which
they both swarmed gleefully aboard the yacht, where the reconciliation
was completed and made permanent by "Masticator's" magnanimous
action in smuggling one of our cases of canned salmon into "Chewer's"
canoe and helping him get away with it.

Tahitian--I mean "missionary" Tahitian--ideas of modesty were
amusingly illustrated by a warning we received from a well educated
and intentioned young half-caste, zealous in the enthusiasm of recent
conversion, to the effect that our bathing costumes--regulation
American bathing suits--were the occasion of no small amount of
unfavourable comment among the "better class of Papeetans."

"But what's the matter of our bathing suits?" asked the Commodore in
the amazement of perfect innocence. "Oh--perhaps the sailors have been
a little informal in the costumes they have worn for their morning
plunges."

"No, it isn't the sailors," was the reply. "The people are saying that
the gentlemen's suits have no sleeves and legs and that--that the
skirts of the ladies come only to their knees, and--"

"Of course," cut in the Commodore impatiently; "what's wrong with that?
Women wear trains on ball gowns, not on bathing suits. Besides, the
yacht is a good cable's length off shore, and it takes keen eyes to
tell a bathing suit from pajamas at that distance."

"I know, sir," was the naïve reply; "but you would be surprised, sir,
to learn how many of the better class of people living along the beach
have telescopes."

"Oh!" we chorused--and again "Oh!"

Before showing our solicitous young friend to his canoe, we were at
pains to enquire what was the orthodox bathing costume worn by the
ladies of the "better class"--brown and white--calling his attention
first to some girls from the public wash-house who, not far up the
beach, were disporting themselves in the shallows in nothing but their
_pareos_, short pieces of gaudy print which fell from the waist to the
knees. He replied that the "real ladies," white and brown, never
entered the water in public unless modestly draped from neck to heel.

[Illustration: NATIVE WOMAN WASHING ON
THE BEACH, TAHITI]

[Illustration: A MISSION BATHING SUIT.]

[Illustration: BEFORE THE BATH--AND AFTER]

This turned out to be the truth. A couple of days later, in the course
of a ride, I came upon some mission girls about to take a dip in one
of the big pools of the Faa-tua. For ten centimes one of them allowed
me to take her photograph in the "orthodox" costume before entering
the water. When the bath was over it cost me two francs to get her
to come out into the sunshine and stand for another snap. I paid it
willingly, however, rightly judging that the second photograph would
be worth double the price asked in bolstering up the faltering
confidence of the Mater and Claribel in the comparative propriety of
their American bathing suits. I submit the two photographs without
comment.



CHAPTER IX

THE SONG AND DANCE IN TAHITI


The Tahitian word for song, _himine_, is a Kanakazation of the English
word hymn. Before the days of the missions there must have been some
other term, for singing was quite as prominent an occupation of the
native then as now, but it was discarded as a superfluity long ago. The
South Sea Islander does not cumber his memory with more than one name
at a time for any given thing, and when new words were forced upon him,
as was inevitable with the coming of the whites, the old ones quickly
disappeared through disuse.

Thus _himine_ was at first applied to nothing but the hymns which the
missionaries taught. Then the term expanded to include the rowing and
working chanteys of the natives, and finally to the folk and dance
songs. Today a Tahitian will speak of the _himine_ to which a _hula_
is danced. Shades of John Williams and James Chalmers! A _hula_ to a
_himine_! A native _danse du ventre_ to a missionary hymn!

"You sinful hussies are as full of airs as a music box," said a
missionary to the bevy of frolicksome _vahines_ who had replied with a
rollicking _himine_ to his invitation to come inside of the church and
listen to his Sunday sermon.

"That may be," answered one of the flower-crowned damsels, "but we
can't be turned by a crank, at any rate."

They tell you this story at the club in Papeete, and you, politely,
laugh--just as you did when you heard the original of that variation
ten years before in America. However, the local adaptation is a good
one--a Tahitian nymph is indeed as full of airs as a music box, and a
vast deal easier to start up and keep going.

The Tahitian is received into the world with a song, he is sped forth
from it with a song, and the only time in the interval when there is
not a song issuing from his lips is when he is asleep. The beat of
the sea is in his blood and a sense of time and an ear for tone are
instincts with him. It is as natural for him to hold a tune as it is
to walk, and it would be as remarkable for him to sing flat as to
fall flat. In fact, be it orange wine or coco toddy, sugar cane rum
or simple fatigue that starts his senses or his body reeling, he will
commence falling flat long before he starts to sing flat. As often
as not he dies with a song on his lips, and even his parting gasp is
pretty sure to be in the right key.

In the beginning the South Seas had no musical instruments beyond
the hollow-tree drum and the conch. The _eukelele_, so often spoken
of as the native Hawaiian guitar, was originally an importation from
Portugal, though it is now made in the islands; the concertina,
mouth-organ and jew's harp of the rest of the mid-Pacific latitudes
bear their foreign marks upon them. The Kanaka makes music on any
one of them the first time he takes it up; but so also does he with two
sticks and a coal oil can, or a piece of rolled-up floor mat--he cannot
help it.

But the Tahitian's heart is in his singing, not his playing, and in
choral rather than solo expression. He sings for the same reason that
the rational drinker drinks--sociability. He is, to be sure, usually
singing when he is on the road or working alone, but only because there
is no one else to sing with him. A native who sings alone by preference
is looked upon by his fellows much as we regard a man who is known to
be a solitary drinker.

I have never heard the point brought up, but it has struck me on more
than one occasion that much of the phenomenal success of the early
missionaries in the South Pacific was due to their rare judgment in
turning their first meetings into big song-fests. Even a meeting
of today is three quarters _himine_, and in the short intervals of
prayer and preaching the congregation is in a continual fidget in its
eagerness for the opening notes of the next song. Many a one slips down
from his seat, reclines at length on the floor and lights a banana-leaf
cigarette. The children run about, not over quietly, and amuse
themselves with pranks upon their elders. But at the first long-drawn
note of the _himine_ leader--the trumpet call to action--all leap to
the seats, throw away their cigarettes and sit at stiff attention, and
from then on to the end of the song have no eyes or ears for anything
but the business in hand.

All of the missionary hymns, and especially those which have come
down from the early days, are translations of old songs of the camp
meeting and revival order, and every one of them has the beat and swing
of a sailor's chantey. These lively new tunes tickled the natives'
fancy as soon as they were introduced, and the fact that the first
meetings consisted of even more singing and less preaching than those
of today must have done much toward winning the missionary tolerance
and even popularity, where the trader and the planter were ever
suspended by hair-fine threads above the cooking pots. The natives, won
and held through their love of hearing themselves sing, have thereby also
been rendered more plastic for spiritual moulding. What could not have
been done with them if their passion for dancing could have been
similarly played upon?

The two dominant sounds of island life, the boom of the breakers and
the hum of the wind in the trees, may be traced through all of the
native music, and, through improvisation, in much that one hears in
the churches. The sonorous chesty notes of the men's lower registers
echo faithfully the thunder of the sea upon the reef, and a high,
closed-mouth humming of the women is admirably imitative of the rise
and fall of the wind, the rubbing of branches and the lisp of split
palm fronds. The resonant over-tones of the bass in a men's chorus is
not unsuggestive of the dying rumble of a big hollow-log drum. "The
swing and entrain of the whole performance are intoxicating," writes an
English woman who made a study of the island music; "the chorus, be it
ten or a thousand voices, sweeps onward as resistlessly as a cataract,
and the beat of the measure is like the pulse of Father Time himself.
There are several parts as a rule, but they wander in and out of one
another at will, and every now and then a single voice will break
away and embroider a little improvisation of its own upon the melody
that is like a sudden scatter of spray from the crest of a rolling
breaker. Then the chorus takes it up and answers it, and the whole
mass of the voices hurls itself upon the tune like the breaker falling
and bursting upon the shore."

Dancing is the natural concomitant of singing in all of the South Sea
islands, and the only occasion on which one is enjoyed without the
other is at church service. As for dancing, singing is a _sine qua
non_. Not only can a native not dance without a singing accompaniment,
but his own voice must also be a part of that accompaniment. To bind a
Tahitian's dancer's mouth is equivalent to tying his feet quite as much
as tying a Latin's hands is tantamount to binding his mouth.

The first Tahitian dancers of whom there is any authentic record were
the members of the "Areo," a secret intertribal organization of the
old days, which would undoubtedly be credited to Bacchic inspiration
were there any way of tracing a possible connection. The "Areos" were
a roystering lot of madcaps, hardly comparable to anything else in
history, but partaking something of the character of a modern choral
society, a fancy dancing class and a band of brigands, with the avowed
encouragement of human sacrifice, murder, cannibalism and general
immorality thrown in.

The "Areo" was made up of the elite of each tribe, and the members
were carefully tutored in the fine points of singing and dancing, much
after the fashion of the _geishas_ of Japan and the _nautch_ girls of
India. They travelled from valley to valley and village to village
like a college glee-club, and the fact that their shows were open to
all-comers free of charge brought them unbounded popularity and made
them welcome guests in the palace of the king at the capital, or in
the huts of the meanest fishing hamlet on the island. What they desired
they took, and so powerful and popular were they that there was none
to gainsay them. What wonder that the budding youth of Tahiti centred
his ambition on growing up to become an "Areo" with an intensity
that the American youth, tossed on the horns of the inevitable
pirate-captain-or-president dilemma, can never know?

And then came the missionary ("Before the missionary came," in the
mouth of an old Tahitian, is fraught with all the wildness of regret
of "Before the Gringo came" on the lips of an old Spanish Don of
California) and the "Areo" grew less and less and finally was no
more. What of its legacies? We have seen how the missionaries adopted
and turned the song to their own good ends. Has the dance also had
the vitality to survive without the patronage of the real arbiters
of island destiny? Hardly in its pristine purity--or impurity. The
_hula_ in Tahiti today is in about the same state as "The Harp that
Once Through Tara's Halls"; the only evidence of its existence is when
some overstrung string of _vahines_ breaks (out) to show that still it
lives. If the "breaking" is in public you will probably see the frayed
ends of the string being chivvied down to the city bastile by a couple
of motherly gendarmes.

And yet the ancient dance is not quite dead; there are a few strings
that will yet give back a responsive chord if one knows how to twang
them. But don't think it will be you, Mr. Tourist. I never heard of
but one man who chanced to strike the "Lost Chord," and his fingers
had been wandering over the worn strings for a year or more before
they twanged the right combination. I will write of how this befell
presently.

The usual _hula_ that is arranged for those of the
"personally-conducted-limited-to-fifty-all-expenses-paid" party who
are in search of something deliciously naughty is about as devilish
as a quadrille at a Sunday school picnic--a squad of portly _vahines_
marching soberly through a half dozen simple figures to the music of
a couple of accordions and an old drum. But at every one of these
performances a darkly mysterious Kanaka is sure to slip quietly around
among the men of the party and hint vaguely of the "real thing" that
has been arranged for that very evening, and to which admission may
be gained for, say, ten Chilean _pesos_ apiece. Like half-starved trout
to the first grasshopper of the season they rise, and, with felicitous
mutterings of "A chance of a lifetime to see a _hula_--last one ever to
be pulled off; fancy it occurring during our visit"--a party of a dozen
or more, leaving its distractedly envious ladies behind, is steered off
from the hotel into the scented twilight.

The "subscriptions" are collected en route to a deserted shack on the
outskirts of the town, where, by the light of a couple of battered
ship side-lamps, the searchers for local colour see a dozen anaemic
frailties from the "beach"--dull-eyed, sad-looking _vahines_, flotsam
and jetsam from half the island groups of the South Pacific, with
strong hints of elephantiasis in their heavy ankles and blotchy
skin--writhe and wriggle for half an hour in action more suggestive
of the popular vaudeville imitation of a portly dame trying to make
the hooks of her evening gown meet than a terpsichorean performance.
The girls are a shameless lot of hussies of the class--you met them what
times you whiled away the tedium of your steamer stop in Singapore,
Colombo and Port Said with those swift but illuminating studies of
"native life"--that dextrously appropriates your scarf pin under pretence
of putting a flower in your button hole, and when you discover the loss
boldly challenges you to tell the police.

And yet--what an indescribable lure there is in the "real thing" bait
any time after you have been bitten by the "search-for-local colour"
bug! It would hardly be fair for me to hold the glass on the researches
of other Tahitian visitors without confessing that I, also, was once
an eager follower of the "real thing" will-o'-the wisp, and under
circumstances particularly aggravating. So here's for a clean breast of
it.

I had noticed with increasing curiosity as our Tahitian visit wore on
that the sailors from the yacht had been returning for several days
from shore leave with new hats and new neckties, and with wreaths of
flowers about their shoulders--sure signs that they were basking in
female favour in some part of the island capital--so that when the mate
came to me with a story of how he and his fellows had been adopted (a
not unusual Kanaka custom) by families of an outlying Papeetan suburb,
I accepted the truth of the yarn without question.

"As a special favour, sir, a lot of the _vahines_ are going to give us
the 'real thing' in the way of a _hula_ tomorrow night," he confided to
me, "and we thought that as you was saying that you didn't think much
of them tourist _hulas_ they get up for the steamer people that you
might like to see the genuine article."

"Thanks, Victor," I said eagerly. "Write down the directions for
reaching the place and I will pick up W---- and be there."

It isn't the custom to go sight-seeing with the sailors of one's
friend's yacht in Tahiti any more than elsewhere, but I told myself
that the role of patron would excuse it in this instance. And who in
his first year in "The Islands" ever failed to rise for the "real
thing" bait under any circumstances? W----, who joined me for the
evening, was a British ornithologist of considerable reputation, and
himself an earnest searcher after the fabled native of pristine purity.

We found the place without difficulty by locating it approximately and
then running down the bang of a beaten oil can and the whine of an
accordion. It is quite possible that the sailors had been taken to the
bosoms of some native families, as they claimed; it is even possible
that there may have been a right merry breakdown of a sort going on
before we came. But certain it is that it was nothing bordering on that
elusive will-o'-the-wisp, the "real thing," and more certain still that
our coming--perhaps through suspicions aroused by the official cut of
W----'s ducks--came pretty near to putting an end to even such activity
as had been in progress up to that moment.

The double line of capering _vahines_ broke for the unlighted corners
and in a trice had hidden their graceful flower-wreathed limbs under
flowing _holakaus_. They were a likely enough looking lot of girls, but
not even the dozen bottles of claret which we had brought as good-will
offering served to stir them to further action. In vain the chagrined
sailors implored and swore and pushed and pulled; the distrustful
nymphs only hung their flower-crowned heads and shrunk deeper into
the dark corners. There was only one of the lot that did not seem
paralysed with bashfulness, and this one, a long, rangy rack of bones
with close-cropped hair--the only uncomely member of the
party--started a lively whirling-dervish sort of a dance that threatened
to break through the rickety floor.

"Not an orthodox _hula_, but quite the best bit of quick stepping I've
seen in Tahiti," cried W---- enthusiastically. "Go it, girl! _Vite!
Vite!_"

Thus encouraged, the lengthy dancer let out another link and at the
same time lowered her song from a high falsetto humming to a booming of
chesty bass notes.

"My word!" gasped W----, "she's a man!"

And a man "she" proved to be, a light-stepping young Kanaka, called in
at the last moment to take the place of a girl who had fallen ill.

"Let's take a flash of that bunch of icebergs and get out of here,"
suggested W---- wearily; "I've had about enough of your 'real thing'
for one evening."

So while W---- and the sailors chivvied the reluctant dancers together
and grouped them in frozen poses, I set up my camera and put out the
flashlight powder. A sufficient quantity of the latter was poured from
a two-ounce tin box into its cover and set on a rickety table, the mate
being directed to light it at the click of my opening shutter. He lit
the powder at the proper moment, but confused the order to the extent
of putting his match to the contents of the nearly full box instead
of the small portion in its cover. There came an explosive "whish," a
blinding flash, and under a dense smoke-cloud the mate, his eyelashes
gone and his drooping Norwegian moustache burned to a few singed
stubs, was writhing on the floor and groaning with agony. An instant
later the light bamboo wall behind the table was observed to be afire,
and forthwith bedlam broke loose on all sides.

The sailors bellowed for water and W---- shouted for a quilt, while the
natives screamed back to the effect that, as the house was deserted and
isolated, neither could be had. There seemed nothing to do but to get
out and let the old shack burn, and through my mind flashed pictures of
an interminable series of complications incident to the red-tape of the
inevitable French official investigations. W---- and a sailor, with the
apparently stone-blind mate between them, were making for the door and
I was endeavouring to save the trampled fragments of my photographic
apparatus, when my eye caught a flash of red in one corner, and my ear
the twice or thrice repeated crash of breaking glass. In a quarter of
a minute more a vigorously swished wet rag had whipped out the darting
flame-tongues just before they reached the pendant frizzles of the
pandanus thatch.

A resourceful _vahine_, while all the rest of us were wasting our
breaths calling for water and quilts, and bewailing the absence of hand
grenades and chemical engines, had calmly whisked off her _pareo_,
broken all of the unopened claret bottles over it and slapped out the
fire.

Wasn't it Moll Pitcher who won the day and a monument by swabbing
out the cannon with some of her surplus lingerie? They don't erect
monuments to heroic fire-lassies in Tahiti, so W---- and I did the best
thing possible under the circumstances in subscribing the price of a
dozen new _pareos_.

It was a week or so after the incident just sketched had taken place
that W---- and I were at luncheon at the Cercle Militaire with a
distinguished German ethnologist who had spent many years in the
study of the fascinating problem of a prehistoric Polynesian
civilization. W----, after amusingly narrating several of the
experiences incident to his own study of native life in the South
Seas, made the statement that a genuine Tahitas _hula_ could not be
seen on the island for "love or money," an assertion in which I
stoutly supported him. The learned Teuton listened indulgently.

"Dat's a priddy zweeping stadement, chentlemen," he ventured. "You haf
tried money, no doubt, but haf you der oder alternative, der gindness
tried?"

We were compelled to admit that nothing systematic in the way of
kindness had been attempted, upon which the doctor launched into an
extended dissertation on the futility of trying to do anything with
South Sea natives on a "buy-and-sell" basis. Early in his sojourn
in Tahiti, he said, he had come to a realization of the banality of
anything not freely given by the islanders. Accordingly, he had taken
up his residence in Hiteaea, the least "civilized" village of the
island, and first by judicious presents, later by incessant intercourse
with them in the affairs of their daily life, succeeded in winning the
confidence and affection of the simple inhabitants. As a consequence
many privileges which other foreigners had vainly endeavoured to win
by purchase had been extended to him as a brother, among them being
attendance at the village's not infrequent festivals at its semi-secret
"sing-sing" grounds in an extinct crater far in the interior. An evening
of singing and dancing was scheduled for the following week, at the full
of the moon, and to this the good doctor, conditional on the consent of
his native friends, invited us to come.

The invitation was seconded in good time, and on the appointed day we
pushed through on horseback to Hiteaea--twenty-five miles down the
rough windward side of the island--reaching there in time for a light
mid-afternoon lunch which the doctor had waiting for us. The beautiful
hamlet was nearly deserted, the villagers having gone on earlier in
the day to enjoy a twilight feast before the dance. Our horses carried
us four or five miles back into the interior where, at an elevation of
3000 feet, the roughness and steepness of the trail and the thickness
of the creepers overhead made it necessary to abandon them and do the
rest of the climb through the sweat-box of the jungle on foot. We
arrived at our destination in time for a plunge in a hyacinth-fringed
pool of the coolest water we had known for months, a change of clothes
and the enjoyment of a number of thoughtfully saved dainties from the
feast. The latter had evidently been a jolly and somewhat convivial
affair, but nothing of an orgy. The dancers, with laughter and snatches
of song, were assisting each other with their toilets in the shelter of
a wing of rustling _feis_.

The "sing-sing" ground (this is a term of the "beach" vernacular used
in all parts of the South Pacific to designate a native ceremonial
meeting place) had once been a tiny blow-hole of the great parent
volcano, Orohena, and in its present condition it is not unlike the
"Punch Bowl" at Honolulu with a ten-degree segment cut cleanly out
of one side. The smooth floor is half rock, half turf, and the towering
sides of lava, curtained thickly with an impenetrable tangle of giant
fern, lantana and guava scrub and woven together with miles of
endless creepers.

By a strange chance the slice of the crater's side which, undermined
by the river below, fell away to the valley, left a clean-cut chasm of
great depth and scant width opening toward the east-southeast. Through
this chasm the full moon, from the moment it shows its glowing disc
above a saddle in the rocks to the east, throws a sharp beam across
the flower-strewn sward which, in its brilliant contrast to the almost
solid blackness of the unlighted sides, shines as clearly as a shaft of
calcium. In this lunar spot-light, in air almost sentiently sweet with
the perfumes of gardenia and fern, the magic of these Terpsichorean
necromancers is practised.

Stretched at our ease on a patch of mat-carpeted greensward in the
depths of the shadow, we puffed lazily at our native cigarettes, sipped
tiny _epus_ of fiery coco wine and waited for the dance to commence.
The chatter in the depths of the plantain-screened dressing room had
ceased, and only the liquid tinkle of the drip from the surrounding
walls, the distant mutter of the surf along the shore and the throaty
calls of waking wood pigeons broke the stillness. Overhead the stars
were blurring and blotting and twinkling again, as the disordered ranks
of the Trade-clouds shuffled on in their endless flight before the
scourges of the southeast wind; but to the east, where the flickering
silhouettes of flying-foxes showed with increasing brightness against
the moon-glow, the sky was clear.

The leap of the moon to its seat in the saddle of the eastern hills was
as startling in its suddenness as that of its glass bulb stage-property
prototype to the gauze heaven above the Grand Canal. As the
shadow-mottled shaft of light impinged upon the crater floor a single
drum note boomed out suddenly on the stillness and a blur of motion was
faintly distinguishable about the "green room" entrances. Presently,
as the shadows dissolved in the strengthening light, scores of prone
figures, motionless save for a gentle waving of the _riva-riva_ plumes
of the heads, could be dimly guessed, and the doctor whispered that the
opening number was evidently to be the "Dance of the Coconuts."

The plumes continued to nod for a few moments and then, representing
the sprouting and growth of the young trees, the prostrate dancers,
to the accompaniment of a low chanting, rose inch by inch to their
full heights. Now the Trade-wind was blowing through their tops, and
they bowed and swayed and bent and recovered, while the muffled nasal
chanting rose and fell undulatingly like the gusty southeast breeze.
Now it was harvest time, and new figures wove in and out among the
swaying trees gathering the ripe fruit, and chesty "boom-booms" in the
bass told of the cast-down nuts striking the ground underneath.

After a few minutes of indistinguishable pantomime which had to do
with the husking and drying of the nuts for copra, a change came over
the spirit of the quiet mimetic dance. The hum of the wind rose to a
shrill whistle, the low monotone of the surf on the reef changed to the
deep-mouthed roars of crashing combers as hard-smitten drum-logs
sent forth throbbing peals of heavy thunder. A hurricane was bursting
upon the coconut grove. No longer the trees bent to the caressing touch
of the gentle Trade. Torn by conflicting gusts, they jerked now this way
and now that, thrashing limbs striking each other in the pantomime of
bare arms and hands banging with resounding thwacks upon bare backs
and breasts. The wind and surf and thunder blend in a raucous roar as
the storm grows more furious, and now the trees are snapping and
falling before the terrific onslaught. Down they go, now falling alone,
now striking others and going to the earth together. In a few moments
all but two firmly rooted giants in the heart of the grove are tossing on
the ground, and these--represented by two magnificently muscled men--lean
together for support and defy the hurricane for a brief space longer.
Then they, too, give way, falling to the ground interlocked, and the
"Dance of the Coconuts" is over.

"My word!" gasped W----, as the roar of the storm gave way to laughter
and chatter, "what wouldn't it be worth to the man who could put that
on at Covent Garden or the Hippodrome?"

"_Himmel!_" snorted the doctor impatiently. "You'd haf der whole island
to London to move also und der ferdamte British glimate would right
away der whole thing kill."

While the dancers rested and slaked their thirsts with orange wine, our
host gave us a graphic description of the "Volcano Dance," which is
performed in the dark of the moon by the light of a huge bonfire. An
imitation crater of long creepers is built at a point where there is a
smooth grass chute of thirty or forty yards in length ending in the
jungle below. On the side opposite the spectators the dancers, swathed
in wreaths of red hibiscus, enter the crater through a small opening,
leap high in the air like erupting lava and go rolling off down the chute
to the thunder of drums and the subterranean growls of the male
chorus. From the lower end of the chute a back trail leads up to the
"stage-entrance" of the artificial crater, so that fifty or more dancers,
with a sufficiency of orange wine on tap at the crater door, have no
difficulty in keeping up a continuous eruption.

W---- asked how long the red hibiscus trimmings stood the rolling down
part of the eruption, but before the doctor could reply the opening
drum-beat of the next dance sounded and this weighty question was
never answered.

With short, sharp yells, a compact body of girls came charging out of
the "green room" like a "flying wedge" in the good old days of mass
play in football, and went scurrying straight across into the shadows
of the opposite side of the crater. This was the "launching of the
ship" for the "Pearling Schooner Dance." Directly canoefuls of stout
paddlers came towing her back into the moonlight with liana hawsers,
and all in an instant, as each of the dancers threw aloft a square of
white _tapa_, she was under sail and off to sea. Now she threaded,
in short tacks, the passage through the reef, and now, to low, sweet
crooning like a lullaby, she bowed and curtesied and pitched and rolled
in the swift-running ocean swells.

Presently she threaded another passage, anchored and took in her sails
in a still lagoon. Here, with the barely perceptible motion of the
schooner showing in the rhythmic rocking of the dancers, divers went
over the side and brought up pearl shell. One lusty diver lent colour to
his pantomime by bringing up a huge coconut, the incalculable value of
so sizable a "pearl" being told with a facility of gesture that would
have put to shame a moving picture "heavy."

But the comedy hit of this dance was the hooking and landing of a shark
on a strand of liana. Baited with the coconut pearl, the creeper line
was thrown over the rail, to attract the instant attention of a school
of glistening man-eaters, which, with crooked-elbow dorsals, went
wriggling about the grass under the schooner's bows. After an amazingly
clever bit of "shark-play" about the bait, one of the "monsters" rolled
over on his back and "swallowed" it, the crew promptly "tailing on" to
the liana to bring it aboard.

The "shark," as was explained to us afterwards, had drunk considerably
more orange wine than should have fallen to his share, and the fight
he put up before being landed and "cut to pieces" came pretty near to
sinking the graceful pearler then and there.

Floundering and snapping his teeth in a manner that would have done
credit to a monster of twice his size, and roaring as no shark of any
size ever roared, the gamy leviathan was no sooner laid alongside
than, with a vigorous swish of his tail (both feet planted squarely
in the pit of the stomach of the trim _vahine_ who chanced to be
representing the adjacent piece of taffrail) he stove a gaping hole
in the schooner's hull. An instant later his "triple row of barbéd
teeth" had closed on the arm of the slender miss who, sitting on
the shoulders of a lengthy Kanaka, was dancing the part of the
mainmast, and brought her crashing to the deck, squealing like a
roped pig. The "cutting up" of the shark, owing to this
obstreperousness, must have been a bit more realistic than usual,
for he still bore marks of it when I encountered him in Papeete
a week later.

After being "careened" for repairs the schooner, her hold bulging with
pearls, got up sail again and started for home, only to encounter
the inevitable hurricane and go to pieces on the rocks to the same
unleashed fury of wind and waves and thunder that had uprooted the
coconuts. For some minutes spars, planks and other bits of wreckage,
imploring help at the tops of their lungs, eddied and swirled about the
greensward; then a resistless current bore them relentlessly toward the
wine calabashes in the "green room" and the "Pearling Schooner Dance"
was over.

In the good doctor's original plan of the evening's entertainment
several more dances of the nature of those just described were called
for, but the carelessness of the commissariat in dealing out the
orange wine too rapidly ordained otherwise. The sounds of revelry
from the "green room" were keying higher every moment, and our host's
apprehensiveness showed in the quick glowings and palings of his
nervously puffed cigarette. When, instead of the sober _himine_ which
opens up the burlesque "Missionary Dance," there sounded the wail of
accordions, the roll of shark-hide drums and the clear, deep-throated
voices of the girls in the preliminary strains of the "Nuptial _Hula_,"
he sprang to his feet to explode into excited Anglo-German-Tahitian
with "_Nein! Nein!_ Das ist nichts was I tells them. _Hare! Hare! Go
back mit you, you teufels!_" But he might as well have tried to stem
the tide of the Pacific as that swirling onrush from the "green room."

By this time the shaft of lunar calcium, broadening slightly as the
moon rose, had moved across the dancing floor till its outer side was
just beginning to encroach upon our mat-covered dais, so that instead
of "back row, left," as at first, our seats now occupied approximately
the position of "First row, Orchestra, centre." We were in the
"bald-headed row" with a vengeance, and just at the right time.

Like a pack of hungry wolves charging down upon a fold of lambs, the
Bacchic throng swarmed out of the shadows into the spot-light about our
dais, and threw itself with the reckless abandon born of three hours
of steady tippling at the wine calabashes into the sinuous writhing
of a dance rarely performed in the past except at the wedding feasts
of royalty, and now, as it is strictly against the French law, almost
never under any circumstances.

To a spectator watching from a distance some suggestion of rhythm and
unity might have been apparent in the movement of the dance; from our
advanced position, as to a man in the thick of a battle, the general
action was lost sight of in the wealth of local interest. There was
nothing to do but to fix your attention on the nearest dancer and hope,
as at a multi-ringed circus, that nothing of greater interest was going
on anywhere else. Once your attention was fixed it was not likely to go
wandering far afield in search of a new centre of interest.

As an exhibition of eccentric muscular action alone, this dance is
worth making a journey to the South Pacific to see. In the slow opening
movements, to a seductive half-crooning, half-chirping air, it is as
though every square inch of the oil-glistening form before you is
trying to move in a different direction. There is something of the
suggestion of a coiling and uncoiling snake in it; something of that
of the twisting green stream of water where it shoots between two
mid-stream boulders; something of that of the whirling columns of the
"dust-devils" of the desert.

But what comparison can you find for the wild thing that springs into
life as the music quickens and the intoxication of the sensuous dance
enters into the blood of the dancers? There is still a suggestion of
the former undulating sinuousity of motion, but at a trip-hammer speed
which defies the eye to follow it; a double-action, reciprocating,
triple-expansion shiver, beginning at the plume-tips and ending at the
toes, that would make a Newfoundland dog shaking himself after a bath
look like a stuffed museum specimen in comparison.

For a minute, or two, or three--one loses count of time when elemental
forces like these are loosed--this rapid-fire action continues;
then they all sink into quivering heaps on the grass, with just
enough breath left to raise feeble cries for the wine calabashes, a
circumstance which led W---- to remark that their enthusiasm for the
dance had probably been due to the fact that they were "shaking for the
drinks."

That which was just finished was the first of the three climacteric
"movements" of the "Nuptial _Hula_," explained the doctor in the
short rest interval. He had not expected that it would be danced, but
now that it was started it would be an unpardonable breach of etiquette
to try to stop it. "Bezides," he added, chuckling, "you chentlemen haf
bewail der decadence of der hula in Tahiti, und said der white man can
not der 'real thing' see. In one leetle minute you der 'real thing'
shall see, yes."

And we did! But my most earnest efforts would fall so far short of
doing it justice that I have thought it best not to court certain
failure by attempting description.



CHAPTER X

BY THE ABSINTHE ROUTE


The French islands of the South Pacific perform satisfactorily
the regulation duty of all the other of that republic's tropical
colonies--that of furnishing a retreat for a governor, secretary, judge
and three or four other high officials during such time as they may
require to accumulate fortunes sufficient to permit them to return
to Paris and ease for a good portion, if not all the rest, of their
lives; also for a small army of minor officials who have no chance to
accumulate enough to take them to Paris. These latter young gentlemen
work--or rather sit at desks--six hours a day, drink absinthe six
hours, and dream absinthe dreams the remainder of the twenty-four.

Besides a regiment of soldiers and a gunboat or two, it takes something
over half a thousand officials to administer the affairs of dreamy
Tahiti. Departments which in India, Java or even the Philippines would
be handled by two or three men, with enough time over for morning
horseback rides and tennis or cricket in the evenings, are here in
the hands of a substantial mob. There are about a half dozen cases of
petty larceny, and the same number of battery, a year, but the bench is
occupied by close to half a score of august judges. The annual value
of the shipping of all the 150--more or less--French islands in the
Southeastern Pacific--the Marquesas, Paumotos and Societies--is not
equal to a season's output of a single large Hawaiian sugar mill, yet
the financial and commercial officials are numbered in three figures.

What do they all do? Probably no one really knows; but come into the
gentlest of contacts with the government, even as a passing tourist,
and you will begin to get an inkling. You are not likely soon to forget
those two days in which you cooled your heels in fourteen different
corners of Pomare's old palace in endeavouring to make your honour
white in the matter of that box of Havanas you forgot to declare when
you landed. That cost you forty francs in all, didn't it? And then
there was that day and a half that you and the Consul spent in trying
to find out to whom you should apologize because your boatmen tied
up for ten minutes to the butt of an old cannon that was sacred to
the mooring lines of that majestic gunboat, _Zelee_. You conferred
with twenty-one underlings and eight overlings--most of them through
interpreters--before you found that it was the Capitaine de Gendarmes
you must tell you were sorry. And then there was that mess you got
into the time you inadvertently strolled down the path to a leper's
gardenia-wreathed doorway and asked for a drink of coconut water. You
were perfectly willing to go and take a formaldehyde shower-bath, but
was it really necessary to be marched about by a squad of gendarmes
to eight different departments in order to have that auspicious event
officially recorded?

Yes, while Tahiti continues to harbour law-breaking visitors like
yourself there is going to be ample work for all of those five hundred
officials. But at your worst, you are only going to be able to claim
their attention during six hours of the day, leaving them eighteen hours
for their own affairs. What is it occupies them in their "lighter hours"?
Men are more readily judged at play than at work. You have seen them
at work; now let us watch them at play. The Cercle Colonial, it is said,
will show us what we want to see.

The Cercle is a low, rambling structure of aching white, cooled by
green trees, green blinds and green drinks. You have seen in the great
republic's tropical outposts these little clubs which have not been
shaded by green trees; one or two may even be recalled which have not
had the green blinds; but a Cercle Colonial--or Militaire--without the
green drinks--never.

"Where flaps the tri-colour, there flows the absinthe."

You are not certain who first enunciated this great truth, nor where
you first heard it; sufficient that it has become a law as inflexible
as that of gravity. Haul down the one, and the other will cease to
flow. Stop the flow of the other, and the one will cease to flap.
Certain French patriots who are strangers to the French tropics
may indignantly question the truth of the latter statement; these
you may respectfully request to cite you a single instance where
those respective symbols of their republic are flapping and flowing
independently.

Certain of the best paid Tahitian officials straggle home to France
every other year or so by Suez or America, others send intermittent
letters to their loved ones by the irregular post; but when all is said
and done the only really well established line of communication between
the island paradise and Paris is the "absinthe route."

"I'd envy these poor devils their nocturnal trips from 'hell to home,'"
one of the foreign consuls in Papeete is quoted as saying, "if it
wasn't for the fact that they are always doomed to sail with return
tickets. Coming out of any old kind of a dream is more or less of a
shock; but coming out of the Mussulman paradise of an absinthe dream
is staggering. Just about one a month of these young chaps decides
that twelve hours is too long to wait for the inauguration of another
dream, and in the pale of the dawn launches himself off on the journey
for which no return ticket can be foisted onto him. The suicide rate in
Noumea, the prison colony, is higher than here, and, I am told, Saigon,
Martinique, Guadeloupe and Cayenne are worse still. Funny thing, too,
they all do it at the same time--sunrise--probably because it's the
hour when the dream shapes begin to grow thin and intangible, and
day, with its galling grind of realities, looms blankly in pitiless
imminence."

"A poor lot," you say. Perhaps. But before judging let us watch them
for awhile at the Cercle Colonial. It is there that they are to be seen
embarking, and in transit on, and returning by, "the absinthe route."

It is four o'clock of a May afternoon in Papeete, and the stream of
the Southeast Trade, clogged and obstructed by the suffocating puffs
of humid air that have rolled in since morning from the oily sea
which stretches in unheaving indolence to the equator, has ceased to
flow. The glaring coral streets throw back the blazing sunlight like
rivers of molten tin; the distended blossoms of hau and hibiscus fall
heavily in the puddly air, to break and scatter like glass on striking
the ground. Everything of the earth glows, everything of the air gasps
in the swimming waves of the clinging heat.

The shaded walls of the Cercle Colonial hold still a modicum of last
night's coolness, and the closely-drawn green blinds of the lounging
room check the onrush of the calid flood from without. The man with
the gold lace on his ripped-open collar, sitting on the corner toward
the silent billiard room, is an officer from the barracks; he with the
tanned face and the imperial in the opposite corner is the commander of
the gunboat in the harbour; the youth with the opera bouffé moustache
and the eyes of a roué at the table by the palm is the disgraced son
of a rich Marseilles merchant, whose quarterly remittances are payable
only in Papeete. They all know each other, but by an unspoken mutual
understanding have separated as widely as possible. Men do not drink
for sociability on a day like this, for he who lives in the tropics
realizes what the inhabitant of cooler latitudes knows but hazily, that
the mental consciousness of human propinquity, even without the effort
of conversation, raises temperature.

The government offices across the way have just brought their short
day of perfunctory work to a close, and such of the officials as have
membership in the Cercle Colonial come hurrying--the first unlistless
movement they have made since morning--up the blossom-strewn walk.
They slip through the green spring doors like thieves in jealous efforts
to shut out the furnace-like blast which pursues them into the tepid
interior, and a low growl of disapproval from all sides greets the man
who is so thoughtless as to enter leisurely. Each goes to a separate
table, and when there are no unoccupied tables left the newcomer drags
his chair to a window ledge or up to the encircling wall-shelf at the
top of the wainscoting.

The waiters work noiselessly and expeditiously. There are no orders
taken. Each man is noted by the watchful _garçon_, and to him is
instantly brought a large glass of cracked ice and a green bottle.
After that, except for occasional replenishings of the ice, he needs no
attention.

Before long a change comes over the spirit of the place, a
revivification like that which comes to a field of drought-parched
wild flowers at the first touch of long-awaited raindrops. Watch it
working in that yellow-skinned youth by the darkened window. Plainly a
"transfer" from the prison colony at Noumea, he, with the dregs of the
pernicious New Caledonian fever still clogging his blood. By the ink
on his forefinger you put him down as in some kind of a departmental
billet. He slipped through the door but a moment ago and the _garçon_
had his glass of ice and bottle ready on the window ledge almost before
he was seated. He spilled the absinthe over the sides of the glass in
his eagerness to fill it, and in spite of the cracked ice it still
must have been far from the delectable frappé of the conoisseur when
he gulped it down. A second pouring of the warm liqueur took up the
remaining ice and he has called for more.

But now note him as he waits for his glass to be replenished. Has a
spirit hand passed across his brow and smoothed out those lines of
weariness and ill-health? Perhaps not, but they are gone nevertheless,
and a tinge of colour is creeping into the sallow cheeks. Now he gathers
his relaxed muscles and pulls his slender frame together. The thin
shoulders are thrown back, the sunken chest expanded, and with open
mouth and distended nostrils, like a man who comes from a hot, stuffy
hall out into the cool air of the open street, he takes several deep,
quick breaths.

You, who know the futility of drinking anything alcoholic or narcotic
in endeavouring to keep cool and have, therefore, only sipped your
glass of lime juice and soda, can swear that the air of the place, far
from growing fresher, is getting closer and hotter every moment. But
don't waste your time trying to convince the young man by the window
to that effect. It's cooler air to him--yes, and to every one else in
the room but yourself with your foolish lime juice and soda. See them
sitting up and inhaling it all around you.

You have seen the stolid Britisher thaw out and wax sociable after
his first or second brandy-and-soda, and perhaps you expect something
of the kind is going to happen here. But no--the brandy-and-soda and
the absinthe routes start from the same place, but their directions
are diametrically opposite. The brandy-and-soda addictee expands
externally, the absinthe drinker expands internally; the one drink
strikes out, the other strikes in. The Britisher cannot forget himself
until he has had a couple of brandy-and-sodas; with two glasses of
absinthe the Frenchman only commences to realize himself. Don't look
for any flow of the soul to accompany the flow of the bowl, then; these
exiles are only going the absinthe route; they are off for home.

Turn your attention again to the youth by the darkened window. A
fresh glass of cracked ice is before him and he is pouring himself
another drink. Ah! there is your real absinthe artist now. See with
how steady a hand he pours that unvarying thread of a trickle; not
faster than that must it go, not slower. See him turn the glass to the
light to mark the progress of the green stain in the white body of the
cracked ice. As it touches the bottom the pouring stops, the glass is
twirled once or twice and then lifted to the lips and drained. Just as
much water as a thread-sized trickle of warm absinthe will melt from
the ice in finding its way to the bottom of the glass and back to the
rim; offer it to him any other way, after those first mad gulps, and he
would probably refuse it. Thus absinthe à la Cercle Colonial de
Papeete.

At five or half past, an army officer looks at his watch, stretches
himself, yawns, pours a final hasty glass and picks his reluctant way
to the door and out into the still, stifling air. Two officers of the
gunboat follow suit, and from then on till seven o'clock dinner-time,
by occasional twos and threes, but for the most part singly, a half,
perhaps, of the strange company--at the call of family, military or
social duties--takes its departure. The residue--unmarried officers,
departmental officials and a few unclassified--is made up of the
regular voyageurs; you will find them still in their places when you
look in again after dinner.

As you saunter down to the hotel in the gathering twilight, you note
that the hot, humid air-body of the afternoon is cut here and there
with strata of coolness which, descending from above, are creating
numerous erratic little whirlwinds that dodge hither and thither
at every turn. In the west hangs the remains of an ugly
copper-and-sulphur sunset, in the north is an unbroken line of
olive-and-coal-dust clouds, and, even in your inexperience, you
hardly need to note the 29.70 reading on the hotel _lanai_ barometer
to tell you that there is going to be wind before midnight. The air is
vibrant with the thrill of "something coming," and from the waterfront,
where they have known what to expect since morning, rises the rattle of
winches, the growl of hurried orders and the mellow, rhythmic chanting
of natives swaying on anchor chains and mooring lines as the trading
schooners are "snugged up" in their berths along the sea-wall.

Nine o'clock at the Cercle Colonial. The jalousies have been opened
during your absence and are now being closed again, this time to keep
out the scurrying vanguards of the rising wind. The air is cooler now,
and you give the waiter the recipe for an American gin fizz, to receive
something in return which refuses to fizz and is built, apparently, on
a bayrum base. You solace yourself with the thought that you didn't
come for a drink, anyway, and turn your attention to your friends of
the afternoon, the voyageurs by the absinthe route. Most of them seem
to have "arrived" by this time, and if they are aware at all of the
relief of the cooling atmosphere, it is only to tell themselves that
it is good to breathe again the air of la belle France after those
accursed tropics. Each sits solitary, as when you left two hours ago,
but where they were then separated by a few scant yards at the most,
they are now scattered from Paris to the Riviera, from Chamonix to
Trouville.

But it is plain that it is Paris with the most of them. The youth with
the yellow face is still in his chair by the window, but his eyes are
now fixed admiringly on a coloured lithograph of a ballet
dancer--an _Illustracion_ supplement--in its black frame upon the
wall. Maybe he's doing the Louvre, you think, and looking at the
pictures. But no--look at his eyes. That picture is flesh and blood for
him. She's the headliner at the _Folies Bergere_, and she's coming
down to drink with him as soon as the crowd stops those accursed
encores and lets her leave the stage. And don't those eyes tell you
how well worth waiting for he knows she is?

That dapper young chap with the "spike" moustache and the lieutenant's
epaulettes who sits so straight in his chair, where is he? The Champs
Elysées, without a doubt. Riding? No, walking. Don't you see the
swagger of his shoulders; and that twitching movement of the fingers
is the twirling of his cane? Didn't you see him stiffen up and twist
his moustaches as he looked your way just now? No, he didn't care a
rap about impressing the Yankee visitor to Tahiti; you were a carriage
or a motor car with the latest opera favourite in it pulled up against
the curb.

That tall civilian there, with the grey hair at the temples and the
dissipated but high bred face--you recognize him now as one of the
highest officials on the island, who, they told you at the hotel,
had been "reduced" to Tahiti as punishment for his peculations while
occupying an important place in Algeria--is at Maxim's. That chair
across the top of which he is gazing so intently is not as empty to him
as it looks to you. There--didn't you see his lips move? You wonder
who she is and what he is telling her.

That other civilian with the clear cut profile and the concentrated
gaze of the professional man and thinker--ah, he is the learned
Parisian doctor from whom the medical world has awaited for two
years the announcement of the discovery of a cure for the dreaded
_elephantiasis_. He had his goal and deathless renown in sight
months ago, you have been told, when, in a spell of homesickness, he
began drinking and "seeing green," and since that time, through the
demoralization of his special hospital and the loss of certain cultures
of incalculable value, has slipped back almost to where he began. That
must be a clinic for which he is drawing those intricate sketches with
his cigarette holder on the marble table top.

But what of that portly old gentleman with the benevolent smile and
the beaming eyes? That's a Colonel's uniform, is it not? How well he
looks the part! But do you think he is with the others in the cafés
chantant or on the boulevards? Look again, you world dried dog.
Didn't you note the tenderness in that smile? The old Colonel
has--or has had--a wife and children. A look like that for a concert
hall girl! Not ever. He is in the bosom of his family. May he be the
last of them all to wake from his dream.

Ah, you know that bronzed giant with the shoulders and brow of a
Viking and the eyes that pierce like rapiers of steel with their eagle
glance. He was shipped off to the "Islands," a "Ticket-of-Leavester,"
from Sydney five years ago, and since then he has gained the
reputation of being the most daring "black-birder," smuggler and
illicit pearler in the South Pacific. He's rolling in money and lives
like a prince, with "establishments" in every group between the
Marquesas and New Zealand. Last night you were inclined to scoff
when he came off to the yacht and told how he had won his "Triple
Blue" at Cambridge, played in Interregimental polo at Hurlingham
and raced his own string at Newmarket. You had heard his type of
"bounder" rattle on before, you said. But now look at him. There's
more manhood and less depravity in the devil-may-care face than
there was last night. And note the set of his shoulders, the
tenseness of his hands. Pulling an oar? No. You don't know cricket,
do you? Well, ten to one yon "Ticket-of-Leavestser" thinks he is at
Lord's, and batting to save his County. What an incongruous figure
he is amongst the rapt boulevardiers!

But listen to the noise outside! The hurricane is sweeping in from the
sea and the outer reef is roaring like an avalanche. But why no sign
of excitement from the silent dreamers? Is it because they are telling
themselves that it is only the roar of the traffic on the Parisian
pavements? Listen to those clanging bells and the frantic choruses
of yells which sound above the threshing of the trees and the grind
of the surf! Only a fire--fires are common in Montmartre--they tell
themselves, and go on with their dreams.

Now the batteries of the storm have got their ranges and the shot
begins to fly. Snap! Bang! Hear those coco trunks cracking, and right
around the club, too. Ah! this will rouse somebody.

With a heavy crash the top of a broken palm is thrown against a
shuttered window and the glass and bottle of the sallow-faced youth
smash to pieces upon the floor. That will fetch him surely. But still
no. Pouf! Broken glass is as common as diamonds at the Folies. He
beckons for the waiter to bring him more absinthe and ice and turns
again his eager eyes to his picture lady, where she is still pirouetting
through another interminable encore.

But hark again! There is a fresh tumult outside, this time a shrill
whistling and the tramp of feet on the veranda, followed by a banging
at the door. A moment more and a captain of gendarmes appears and
shouts something in excited, gesticulative French. You fail to catch
the drift of it and ask a waiter. A half dozen schooners are pounding
to pieces on the sea wall, screams the _garçon_ as he is hustled off
by a gendarme, and the police are impressing all the men they can lay
hands on for rescue work--the "law of the beach" through all the South
Pacific.

Dazed and speechless with consternation, the unlucky dreamers are
hustled to their feet by the not any too gentle officers and shoved
out into the night, where half a minute of rain and wind and driving
spindrift punch the return portions of their round-trip tickets to
Paris and leave them on the Papeete water front with an incipient
hurricane ahead of them and the rough-handed gendarmes behind.

The awakening is not always so violent as this, but there is no such
thing as a peaceful disembarkation at the end of the return trip by the
absinthe route, whoever puts up the gangway.



CHAPTER XI

PAPEETE TO PAGO PAGO


Situated well around on the leeward side of the island of Tahiti, with
the great 8000-foot peak of Orohena cutting off all but stray gusts
of the Trade wind, Papeete harbour is ordinarily as placid a bit of
looped-in water as ever mirrored in its depths the silver disc of the
tropic moon. Seaward the reef intercepts the surf as completely as
does the volcano the wind from the opposite direction, and with the
latter blowing from the southeast, where it belongs, the inner bay is
safe for even the slenderest of outrigger canoes when the state of the
weather outside is such as to keep the mail steamer at its dock. The
trading schooners, each with a couple of frizzled mooring lines run
out to convenient _buraos_ or banyans, lie right against the tottering
sea-wall, and even the dock of the San Francisco and Auckland boats
is hardly more than a raised platform on the bank.

No one seems to dream that there is ever going to be other than
southeast weather, and no one makes provision against anything else.
Then some fine day a hurricane comes boring in from the north or west,
and when it is over the survivors salve pieces of ship out of the tops
of the coco palms, and perhaps some of them living a quarter of a mile
inland, finding a schooner lodged in their _taro_ patch, prop it up
on an even keel and use it in place of the house of thatch which has
been resolved into its component parts by the storm. In a few weeks
every one but the missionaries--who, by the way, are much given to
picturing hell for the natives, not as a hot place, but as an island
where the lost souls are endlessly tossed by æon-long hurricanes--has
forgotten all about the storm, and is as liable as ever to be caught
napping when the next one comes along.

We reached Tahiti somewhat too early for hurricanes, but a very good
imitation one in the form of a northwest squall was brought off for
our benefit, which left very little to the imagination regarding what
a real blow from that direction might mean. It is only the unexpected
that is a serious menace to the careful skipper, as I have mentioned
before, and it is in this respect that one of these sudden twisters,
coming with a fierceness beyond description from an unlikely quarter,
may work irreparable harm in spite of all precautions, where a
hurricane, heralded for hours, perhaps days, by a falling barometer,
may, in a large measure, be prepared for or avoided.

The thing occurred one evening shortly following our arrival in
Papeete, just after three days of hard work had obliterated all traces
of the internal and external wear and tear incident to the 3000 miles
of sailing the yacht had done since leaving Hawaii. She had received a
fresh coat of white paint, decks had been scoured, hardwood newly
oiled and the brass work rubbed to the highest degree of resplendency.
Sails were in covers, awnings up fore-and-aft, deck cushions out of
their sea jackets, and, in short, everything made ready to receive
official calls. She was lying to her port anchor with twenty-five
fathoms of chain out. A kedge astern held her head to the prevailing
southeast wind and kept her from swinging with the tide.

So empty of threat was the evening that the crew, with the exception
of the single sailor whose turn it was to stand the anchor watch, had
been given shore leave. The rest of us, tired from an afternoon of the
ceremonious calling exigent upon the newcomers who would break the
ice of officialdom in any French colony, were lounging on the
quarterdeck and in the cockpit, glad of the chance to unstiffen and be
quiet.

It was a night drowsy with soporific suggestiveness. Seaward the air
was pulsing to the drowsing monotone of the surf upon the reef,
rising and falling at regular intervals like the heavy breathing of a
tired sleeper. Landward, a league of liquid lullaby, the tiny wavelets
of the bay tinkled on beach and sea-wall, and through the rondure of
blue-black foliage which masked the village, lights blinked sleepily,
with here and there the tracery of a palm or banana frond showing in
dark outline against the warm yellow rectangle of an open doorway.
The yacht, rocking gently as a cradle, set the Japanese lanterns around
the awnings nodding in languorous lines, and, above and beyond,
clouds and stars rubbed lazily against each other in somnolent jumble.
The spirit hand of the land breeze in the rigging was sounding the
"stand-by" call for the watch of Morpheus.

The arms of the Sleep God must have enfolded with especial tenderness
the hulking frame of Heinrich, the husky Teuton who was standing
anchor watch, for an inky splotch of cloud had grown from a speck on
the northeastern horizon to a bituminous blur that blotted out
everything in that quarter from the zenith down, before he raised his
head from where he had pillowed it in his arms upon the forecastle ice
chest and roused the ship with an explosive "_Gott in Himmel!_"
Simultaneously with that of Heinrich there was another explosion, like
the bursting of a Vial of Wrath, and forthwith the gathering squall came
charging in across the Motu Iti Quarantine Station on the reef and
began systematically scooping dry the bottom of the bay. Spreading like
an inverted fan, it blotted out the stars to east and west, and, with the
roar of a battery of quick-firers, swept down upon us in a solid wall of
air and water, only a few short, nervous puffs of wind scurrying
uneasily in advance.

The squall was swooping down to strike the yacht on her port quarter,
realizing which, we hurriedly buoyed the line to the now useless
kedge and cast it loose. So quiet was the water and air in the
half-minute-long interval before the wind came that the yacht lay
motionless, half-broadside to the squall's advance, just as she had
been stretched to the kedge, and when it struck her inertia was so
great that the lee rail was hove well under before she began swinging.
The lines of Japanese lanterns snapped in a half dozen places and
went streaming off to leeward like the tails of kites. The awnings
bellied monstrously and began splitting under the terrific uplift of the
wind; and here and there lashings gave way and left corners threshing
desperately for freer play.

There were no waves at first; only sheets of water torn from the top
of the sea and thrown on ahead. The air was fairly clogged with spray,
and the yacht was deluged with water, fore and aft, as though she had
no more freeboard than a plank. The boats, which were made fast to
booms run out on either side amidships, worked like the arms of Dutch
windmills, and one of them, as the yacht reached the end of her cable,
was tossed bodily over its boom, to land bottom up and fill.

The yacht was driven across the arc of her cable-sweep as a frightened
broncho rushes to the end of his picket rope, and with a somewhat
similar result. The anchor fouled and began dragging. So swiftly were
we carried down the bay that it seemed inconceivable that there was
any anchor at all at the end of the cable, and it was not until later
that we ascertained definitely that the chain had not parted. We were
heading--or rather backing--at an angle toward the sea-wall, and in a
direction which allowed the yacht something over a quarter of a mile
to go before she would crash into the line of schooners moored
beyond the American Consulate, the grinding and pounding among
which became distinctly audible as the interval decreased.

The port anchor was our only hope, and on the getting over and letting
go of this the Commodore and Heinrich began furiously working, while
to me, with the assistance of a press-gang composed of the Mater,
Claribel and the Chinese cook, was delegated the task of reducing the
awnings, the great spreads of which were acting as sails in driving the
yacht the quicker to an apparently inevitable doom. That there would
be ample chance to get ashore in safety, no one had much doubt; but
more indubitable still appeared the fact that we were scheduled to
have a graphic illustration of the meaning of that commonest of South
Sea expressions, "piling up on the beach."

The port anchor was let go and the awnings brought to a fashion of a
furl at about the same time, and six white faces, peering anxiously
shoreward for results, only paled the more as the foam-white belt that
marked the line of the submerged sea-wall continued to grow perceptibly
nearer. Stars were appearing under the lower line of the squall along the
northern horizon, but the centre of the disturbance was now overhead,
and the wind had increased to a force before which the coco palms along
the bank were bending to the ground and snapping with sharp, explosive
detonations. A piece of steel cable, used as a "hurricane guy" to hold
down a corner of the Consulate in just such an emergency as the present,
had parted under the strain and was swiftly flailing the galvanized iron
roof of the veranda to pieces. The clang of bells resounded through the
town, summoning aid for the pounding schooners along the sea-wall,
and in sheltered corners ashore could be seen black knots of men
gesticulating wildly in the light of lanterns.

We were now a scant fifty feet from the wall in front of the Consulate,
and perhaps twice that distance from the first of the jumble of
pounding schooners, the big _Eimoo_, the largest and fastest trader
that sailed from Tahiti. The seas were streaming over her as though
she was a surf-beaten rock on a stretch of iron-bound coast, but in
the smother on her forward deck some of her crew could be seen
surging round the capstan in a frantic effort to haul her off the deadly
wall. From the ships beyond came a babel of shoutings that rose above
the grind and pound of keels, and presently these keyed higher into
yells of excitement and dismay as one of the schooners--luckily the last
in line--broke loose and began battering to pieces against the barrier of
stone.

[Illustration: THE INEVITABLE END OF EVERY SOUTH SEA
TRADING SCHOONER]

[Illustration: A TAHITIAN COUPLE]

For us on the _Lurline_ there was nothing more to be done. Jewelry and
other portable valuables had been tossed into a canvas sack, and the
Mater and Claribel, swathed in life-preservers, hurriedly coached as
to the proper manner of jumping ashore from the taffrail of a grounded
yacht. White figures had appeared, clinging to the pillars of the
Consulate veranda, ready--as we afterwards learned--to rush to our aid
when the schooner struck. There was still some question as to whether
it was the _Eimoo_ we were going to bump first, or the wall; or first
the former, and then, in company with her, the latter. The Commodore
was just grimly opining that salvage operations would be simpler if
_Lurline_ and _Eimoo_ struck separately, when the squall gave up its
rain, the wind and sea fell sufficiently to allow the anchors to hold,
and the worst was all over in a minute.

The squall had blown itself out not a moment too soon, for when the
anchors finally stopped dragging one could have stood in the cockpit
and skimmed a biscuit over the port quarter to the veranda of the
Consulate, while flung to starboard at a similar angle it would have
sailed to the deck of the _Eimoo_. For the present we were safe until
another squall blew up, in which event, especially if it came from
anywhere to the east of north, the twenty-five fathoms of chain out to
each of the anchors would be enough to allow us to swing around onto
the sea-wall. Plainly it was imperative that the yacht be worked into a
safer position without delay.

The sky was darkening again to the north as the Commodore sent me
ashore with orders not to return without the crew, or a working
equivalent. The town was in an uproar, and the impracticability of
rounding up a "working equivalent" of the crew was at once apparent.
Two schooners and a sloop were loose and pounding to pieces upon
the wall, and these had first claim to volunteer or "pressed" aid. The
gendarmerie, assisted by soldiers from the barracks, were going
about the streets and into the clubs and hotels requisitioning relief
forces, and I was at my wit's end for half an hour dodging the
minions of the law and avoiding service with one of these press
gangs.

At last the crew was run to cover at the end of a fragrant tunnel of
blossoming _burao_ and flamboyant, where the wail of concertinas
and the throb of hard-hit drum logs told me that a _hula_ was in
progress, even before I had pushed aside a cluster of hibiscus and
peered in at a window. Bill, the light-footed Dane of the port watch,
the axis of a vortex of capering _vahines_, was leaping in the
maddest of hornpipes to the music of an accordion, with bugle
obligato by Perkins, who had mastered that instrument while in the
navy. Big, blond Gus, surrounded by another nimbus of tropic
loveliness, was draining a newly-cracked coconut as he would have
tossed off a _seidel_ of lager, and Victor, the mate, a white _tiare_
blossom behind each ear, was shifting a cat's cradle from his rack of
stubby, red fingers to a frame of slender brown ones. It was a shame
to put an end to their innocent fun, but the north was blackening
again, and--well, a sailor must learn to take his pleasure as a patron
of a railway lunch counter does his food, in hasty gulps. Besides,
there would probably be other evenings ashore, and the way of a
stranger in Tahiti to a session of song and dance is the turning to
the first open door.

How thoroughly engrossing these little parties are may be judged from
the fact that the crew came along only under protest, swearing, jointly
and severally, that they had heard nothing whatever of a storm which,
as was afterwards estimated, did a hundred thousand francs' damage on
the water front of Papeete and destroyed the season's crop of bananas
and plantains!

There was a sinister tower of cloud piled up beyond the reef by the
time I had brought my reluctant charges back aboard the yacht, but its
east side was showing blacker than its west, and before long we had
the satisfaction of seeing it bear off in the former direction and
disappear, roaring mightily, behind Point Venus. The rest of the night
we were left in peace to haul off out of danger.

For the last two or three hundred yards the yacht had backed in
a course which lacked but a few degrees of being parallel to the
sea-wall, so that the anchors were but little further from the shore
than the schooner herself. "Hauling off," therefore, was a tedious and
not entirely simple proceeding. We first hove short on the starboard
anchor, broke it out and brought it just awash. Several lashings were
then passed through its ring and round and round the port life-boat,
just aft of the beam, after which a line from the yacht was made fast
to the anchor and the shackle knocked off. This left it suspended in
the water in a manner best calculated to trim the boat and not
hamper the rowers.

While the boat pulled offshore and dropped the starboard anchor the
port was broken out and catted. Then the line from the former was put
on the winch and the yacht hauled offshore as far as possible. Here the
port anchor was let go, following which the starboard was hove up,
re-shackled and dropped again. The next morning, taking advantage of
a favourable slant of wind, we dropped back to within a hundred feet
of the sea-wall and ran mooring lines to a couple of cannon which
projected from the coral, a berth which proved both safe and
convenient.

       *       *       *       *       *

Friday, the 13th of May, was set for our day of departure for Samoa,
but the unlucky coincidence of the day of the week and the month
evoked such a storm of protest from the sailors that the Commodore
postponed sailing for another twenty-fours and thereby lost a fair
wind out of the harbour. On the morning of the 14th a fitful N.W.
wind blowing directly down the passage made it impossible to get
under weigh without running a strong chance of piling the yacht
up on the beach. After a bootless wait of a couple of hours for a
shift of wind, a line was finally carried to the mail-boat's buoy,
out to which the yacht was laboriously hauled by winding in on
the winches. Letting go here at noon, we sailed down the bay
with a beam wind, dipping in turn to the flags of the American
and British Consulates and the gunboat _Zelee_.

As we hauled up to thread the entrance the wind was brought dead
ahead, and for the next fifteen minutes the yacht was put about so
often in the scant working room of the narrow passage that the sails
were hardly filled on one tack before, with shoaling water and an
imminent surf, it was necessary to go off on the other. The trading
schooners make it a rule never to attempt the passage with a head
wind, but _Lurline's_ superiority in pointing up, as well as the
greater ease with which she handled, made comparatively simple a
performance that for the others would have been really hazardous.
At 12.30 P. M. we were clear of the harbour, and at two o'clock took
departure, Point Venus Light bearing S.E. by S., distant eight miles.

Close-hauled to a baffling N.W. wind, a course of due N. was sailed
until ten o'clock, when the yacht was put about to a westerly course
for the rest of the night, her speed averaging less than six miles an
hour. Tahiti was still visible under a dense cloud rack at daybreak,
while the northern side of Moorea presented a crazy skyline of sharp
pinnacles. Toward noon Neahau was sighted, Raiatea almost
immediately appearing beyond. At sunset all the leeward islands
were in sight, Tahaa and Bora Bora showing up beyond Raiatea.
Between the two former a sharp sail-like rock appeared, the tips of
the pinnacles of Moorea were still visible to the south, while above
and beyond them a heavy cloudbank betrayed the position of the
veiled Orohena.

The north line of Bora Bora showed forward of the starboard beam at
daylight of the 16th, our course then being due west. At eight o'clock
Tubai raised a fogged outline to the south, and just across its leeward
end the hazy form of Marua, the most westerly of the Societies, was
dimly visible. Marua and the skyline of the great cliff of Bora Bora
held places on the horizon till sunset, and with darkness we saw the
last of the French islands.

The wind, which had been light for the last two days, had fallen away
entirely by the morning of the 17th, the calm for the next eighteen
hours being so complete that the yacht had not enough way to
straighten out the log-line. From midnight of the 16th to that of the
17th but twenty-six miles were covered, most of the distance being
made in one watch. By morning of the 18th, however, the renegade
Trade-wind again began asserting itself, to stand faithfully by nearly
all the rest of the way to the Samoas.

The coming of the Trade-wind was coincident with another happening
which served graphically to illustrate the dangers that little-navigated
seas hold for the most careful skippers. From the observations of the
17th it appeared that Bellinghausen Island, a low uninhabited reef of
considerable extent, lay directly upon our course to Tutuila, and at a
distance which made it probable that we would come up to it toward
the end of the night. Findlay's "Directory" gave warning of a southerly
setting current of a mile an hour, allowing for which our course was
so altered as to give the dangerous reef an amply wide berth. That
course, we figured, would carry us from ten to twenty miles north of
the island in spite of the current, but at midnight, to make assurance
doubly sure, it was decided to edge still farther to the north, and the
course was altered to N.W. by W. This we were to hold until daybreak
and then, the danger being past, head off due west for Tutuila again.
Of course we would pass out of sight and sound of the reef, we
thought; but that was the safest way, and there wouldn't be much to
see anyhow.

Just before daybreak, as the yacht, driven by the newfound Trade-wind,
was settling contentedly down to an easy eight knots, the excited
hail of "Breakers on the lee bow!" brought every one rushing on deck,
and presently, out of the dissolving mist ahead, we saw long lines
of surf tumbling over a submerged reef, and beyond low drifts of sand
scantily covered with scrubby coconuts and pandanus. There was no
need of altering our course. Still heading in a direction which we had
figured would carry us twenty miles to the _north_ of Bellinghausen
Island, we slipped quietly by, a mile off its sinister _southern_ line,
before hauling up again for Tutuila. Every point we had altered our
course had only brought us nearer to the danger we had sought to
avoid, and the chances are, if we had made assurance a bit surer,
that, with the added speed of the incidental slant of wind, the yacht
would have sailed into the breakers before daylight.

There was nothing wrong with our reckoning on this occasion except
the allowance made for the current, and this was figured according
to the only authority available. Probably not an average of one ship
a year makes the voyage from the Societies to the Samoas, and only
the occasional government vessel keeps a record that is likely to be
reflected on the charts. The southerly set of the current past the
western end of the Societies is, at least in the Fall months, certainly
much greater than Findlay estimates it.

With mainsail and foresail wing-and-wing and both gaff topsails set,
good speed was made all day of the 18th. Morning of the 19th found
the wind dead astern, however, and this, in combination with an
exasperating swell which set in from the south for no apparent
reason whatever and made it impossible to run wing-and-wing,
compelled us to steer a point wide of our course of due west. It was
our original intention to rig up a square foresail for this run before
the Trade from Tahiti to Samoa, but the baffling headwinds of the
first few days made the use of such a sail impossible, and the
advantage was deemed hardly worth the trouble for the few days
that remained.

We learned later that the heavy seas from the south were the
result of a tremendous gale which swept the Pacific beyond the
Tropic of Capricorn a few days previously. Beam seas and a strong
following wind make about the most uncomfortable combination a
fore-and-after can encounter, and the next four days were lively
ones aboard _Lurline_. A sea would come rolling up out of the
south in a great sky-scraping ridge of pea green and heel the yacht
to starboard until the mainboom dipped into the water and buckled
under the strain like a rod before the first rush of a ten-pound
salmon. Then it would pass on, leaving the yacht to tumble off its
back and roll her port rail under just in time to dip a deckful out of
the next wave. Much of the time the foresail was lowered with the
boom hauled amidships, and the mainsail, double-reefed, carried to
starboard. The jib and forestay-sail were usually set but rendered
little service, most of such wind as they caught being shaken out in
the roll.

Under these circumstances very creditable speed was made. The run
to noon of the 19th was 195 miles, and for the three following days
193, 174 and 175 miles, respectively. The wear and tear on sails and
sheets and halyards was very great, however. On the 21st the fore
peak halyard chafed through at noon, and at ten P. M. of the same
day the forestay-sail sheet came to similar grief. Nothing else carried
away before we reached port, but the steady banging of these four
days made a general overhauling of the rigging necessary before we
were in shape to put to sea again from Pago Pago.

The several small islands which constitute the Manua division of the
Samoan group were sighted to the N.E. at daybreak of the 23rd. The
peaks of Tutuila, distant forty miles, came above the horizon at four
in the afternoon of the same day, but as there was no hope of
reaching Pago Pago before dark in the light airs then prevailing,
canvas was shortened to mainsail and forestay-sail and the night
was spent in standing off and on. Morning of the 24th found us
twenty miles off shore, and for several hours the yacht scarcely
made steerageway in an almost dead calm. Toward noon a light
easterly breeze sprang up, and taking advantage of every puff we
managed to worry in through the cliff-walled entrance of the
remarkable bay of Pago Pago by three o'clock.

The port doctor met us as we came abreast of the quarantine station
and piloted the yacht up the bay to an anchorage, but through a faulty
diagnosis of the lay of the bottom, combined with a faulty prescription
when his original mistake was discovered, missed only by the
narrowest of margins leaving his patient a subject for the marine
hospital. A few of the details may be worth recording in their bearing
on the much-mooted question of the advisability of placing surgeons
in command of the government hospital ships.

The doctor boarded the yacht as she came gliding up before the gentle
evening breeze, and after satisfying himself that she bore no
evidences of plague or yellow fever in cabin or forecastle, kindly
volunteered, in the absence of a harbour master (which functionary
the port did not boast), to show us the way to the safest and most
convenient anchorage available for a visiting craft. We accepted his
well-meant offer without misgivings, and the quarantine boat, its
gaily-turbaned _fita-fitas_ leaning lazily on their oars, was soon
trailing astern, while the doctor, clearing his throat, began
"piloting."

"Straight down the middle," was his first order; and "Straight down
middl', Sir," muttered Perkins at the wheel, holding the yacht to her
even course up the bay in apparently correct interpretation of the
direction as meaning something akin to the regulation "Steady as
she goes."

"Now in past the _Wheeling_," was the next command; and when we
had swept smartly in past the U. S. S. _Wheeling_, "Now edge in a
bit toward the shore," carried the yacht under the shadow of the
towering southwestern harbour walls.

At this juncture the doctor went forward to reconnoiter, and while
we still slipped at no mean speed through the water--quite without
apprehension because of the considerable distance still intervening
between the yacht and the apparently steep-to-shore--the excited
order came booming back to "Keep her off! Keep her off!"

Here was a properly phrased nautical order at last, and Perkins
grinned appreciatively as he spun the wheel up, mechanically
muttering "Keep 'er off, Sir." An instant later the Commodore,
dashing wildly aft, cleared the cockpit rail at a bound, and, knocking
the surprised Perkins backward with his shoulder, began climbing up
the spokes of the wheel like a monkey as he threw it hard down. The
yacht wavered for an instant, as though confused by the unwonted
treatment, and then, with a slatting of canvas and banging of blocks,
came up into the wind and paid off on the other tack just in time to
avoid the thrust of a jutting point of coral. We felt fully justified in
setting aside our volunteer pilot and finding our own anchorage
after that.

Regarding which it might be in order to explain that the shores of
Pago Pago Bay, though the volcanic walls themselves shelve off
abruptly to a great depth, are fringed with a hundred-yard-wide table
of coral which rises to within three or four feet of its surface all the
way around. The outer edge of the latter drops off sheer to deep
water, and anywhere beyond is good anchorage. The doctor, of
course, knew of this coral bank but had miscalculated its position.
When its jagged brown rim suddenly leered up at him through the
green water, quite correctly anticipating that if the yacht drove in
upon it she might do herself harm, he very naturally shouted to
"Keep her off!" which order the man at the wheel, quite as naturally,
interpreted to mean "Keep her off the wind." This he did, with the
result that he was heading her more directly than ever onto the
reef, when the Commodore, catching the lay of things and
realizing the danger of complicating an already hopelessly mixed
situation by giving orders, sprang to the wheel himself, threw the
yacht up into the wind and avoided by a scant dozen feet the
jagged edge of the coral bank.



CHAPTER XII

IN PAGO PAGO BAY


In the settlement of the Samoan imbroglio in the late nineties by the
partition of the group between Germany and the United States--Great
Britain, the third party to the controversy having been granted
compensatory rights in the Tongas and Solomons--America, for all
practical purposes, had much the best of the bargain. Germany entered
into actual possession of the two largest islands of the group, Upolou
and Savaii, leaving the United States to do the same with Tutuila and
the Manuas. The American government, however, contented itself with
a naval station at Pago Pago, Tutuila, and the exercise of a mild
protectorate over the natives of the rest of that island. Germany's
rich and beautiful islands, after proving little more than a costly
colonial experiment, passed out of her hands forever at the end of the
late war. The establishment of a naval station at Pago Pago has placed
the United States, strategically, in the strongest position in western
Polynesia.

The bay of Pago Pago is unquestionably the finest harbour in the whole
of the Pacific. In form it is not unlike a fat letter "L," of which the
shorter line is the entrance and the longer, inclining slightly inward,
the bay proper. Ages ago what is now the harbour was undoubtedly a huge
crater occupying the centre of the island of Tutuila. One day the water
must have broken through into the lava, causing an explosion which, in
addition to settling the island a thousand feet or so, blew out a slice of
the crater's rim and dropped it out of sight somewhere in the deep sea.
The place where the slice blew out is the present entrance to the
harbour, and it is wide and deep enough to hold the Capitol at
Washington without seriously interfering with navigation.

So completely landlocked is the harbour, and so smooth are its waters
in all weathers, that from anywhere in the inner bay--except for the
tropical vegetation which clothes the mountain sides--it might pass for
a Swiss lake. The high walls of the ancient crater cut off the rays of
the morning and evening sun, and the velvety green of the wonderful
tropic tapestry which covers them, reflecting scarcely any light and
heat, makes the harbour several degrees cooler than any other Pacific
island of similar latitude, either north or south of the equator. At
noon of the warmest day of the month which the _Lurline_ remained in
the harbour the temperature was 79°, Fahrenheit. The coolest day was
74° at noon and 72° at midnight, while the water held around an even
80° all of the time.

The naval reservation, with its dock, coal pile, ice plant and
warehouses, occupies the only extensive piece of level land on the bay.
Above, on a jutting promontory which commands the entrance and every
foot of the harbour line, is the residence of the commander of the
station and the governor of the island, occupied at the time of our
visit by Captain E. B. Underwood, U.S.N. At the end of the bay, half
submerged in a forest of coconuts, bread-fruit, bananas and mangoes, is
the Samoan village of Pago Pago, the most important native settlement
on the island. Several other small villages form breaks in the solid
colour of the verdant rondure with occasional isolated circular roofs
of brown thatch dotting the grey ribbon of the trail which binds them
together.

Ever a splendid physical specimen and ever possessed of the kindliest
and happiest of dispositions, the Samoan has undergone less change
in his contact with the white man than any other native of the South
Pacific. This is particularly true of those of Tutuila, for the mailed
fist of the German War Lord had rested heavily on Upolou and Savaii
for over a decade at the time of our visit, and one detected traces of
sullenness and discontent among their peoples which he would search
for in vain among the care-free natives of the American island. In
many ways, in fact, Tutuila is deserving of being called a model
tropical colony. The government, except for a gently exercised judicial
supervision, is practically autonomous, and the natives, left to the
enjoyment of the customs and institutions of their fathers, have
retained a self-respect, dignity and amiability without parallel in
any of the other island groups of Polynesia. The American protectorate
over Tutuila is proving a happy medium between the paternalism of
the British and the repressiveness of the Germans and French, the
result being an island where intercourse with the natives is unmixedly
edifying and pleasant.

The Samoan islands are rightly called the Navigator Group, for both
in their achievements of the past along that line, as well as in
the seamanship they display today, their natives are in a class by
themselves. The superiority of line of a Samoan "out-rigger" canoe
over that of those of any other South Pacific group is apparent to the
veriest novice, as is also the ability with which it is handled. The
following description of a Samoan "out-rigger," which was written by
an expert, will convey to the initiated an idea of the technical
construction of this remarkable little craft.

[Illustration: "A NAVAL STATION AT PAGO PAGO HAS
PLACED THE UNITED STATES, STRATEGICALLY, IN THE
STRONGEST POSITION IN WESTERN POLYNESIA"]

[Illustration: "CHIEF TUFELI IN THE UNIFORM OF A
SERGEANT OF _Fita-fitas_"]

"Although the Samoan canoe is a 'dugout,' it is far from being the
clumsy affair that the name indicates. Though the hull is indeed dug
out of a single log, it is none the less moulded along lines of grace
as well as utility. The hull is well sheered and tapered toward the
slightly elevated prow, perpendicular and bladelike in its thinness. It
is moulded with reference to fluid resistance and cut so as to minimize
the drag of the water, and yet gain every advantage from a following
sea. They do not spread or widen the hull amidships, even in the very
small canoes, nor, on the other hand, are the lines of the out-rigger
(left) side at all flattened; the hulls are all symmetrical with
respect to the longitudinal axis."

One used to handling a Peterboro will find a Samoan canoe very cranky
at first, owing to the fact that the outrigger causes a drag which must
be overcome by dipping first on one side and then on the other. The
size of the canoe is limited only by the size of the trunk from which
it is hewn. Occasionally one is seen carrying seven or eight adults,
but the capacity of the ordinary canoe is not over two or three.

In the old days the Samoans, like all the other South Sea islanders,
made their long voyages in big double canoes or catamarans driven by
huge sails of matting. This type, though still common in Fiji, has
practically disappeared from Samoa, its place being taken by the
_malaga_, a modified whaleboat. This stoutly-built double-ender is
generally acknowledged to be the most seaworthy type of open boat known,
and instances are on record of its having ridden out storms in which
sailing vessels, and even steamers, came to grief. The Samoan started
with the orthodox whaleboat and kept building larger and larger until
the limit of practical construction was reached. In fact, construction
went somewhat beyond the limit of practicability, for a huge _malaga_
built ten years ago in Apia--a veritable Roman galley of an affair, with
seats for a hundred rowers--broke its back on its trial trip. Nothing of
so colossal proportions has been tried since, though fifty-oar _malagas_
are occasionally seen conveying all of the able-bodied males of a village
off to a cricket match.

The _malaga_ most in use is but little larger than the regulation
whaleboat. It is stepped for two masts, and, with a big leg-o'-mutton
sail hoisted on each, makes good speed if the wind is anywhere abaft
the beam. Within eight points of the wind, if any sea is running, too
much water comes aboard to make sailing practicable. At such times the
canvas is taken in and the oars resorted to until a shift of wind or a
change of course makes sailing again possible.

The Samoan invariably sings when he rows, and stopping his mouth would
interfere quite as much with the progress of the boat as binding his
arms. They pull one man to the oar and take their stroke from the
rhythm of the song of the leader. Ask your Samoan boatman how far the
next point is, or how long it will take to reach it, and he will tell
you "three songs," or four or five songs, as he happens to judge it. On
a hot day a crew will stop oftener to rest its throats than its backs.
Entering a tortuous, surf-beset passage through a reef, such as leads
into all the bays of Tutuila except Pago Pago, a man takes his station
on the prow of the _malaga_ and, signalling with his hands, now on one
side and now on the other, keeps the helmsman advised of the lay of
the channel.

       *       *       *       *       *

Captain and Mrs. Underwood came off to the yacht the afternoon
following our arrival at Pago Pago, their call proving most opportune
in chancing to coincide with that of Seuka, the _taupo_ of the village.
The latter, in company with her hand-maidens, a dozen or more in
all, bearing presents of _tapa_ and fruit, came off in the official
_malaga_, and through neglecting to bring an interpreter with her
narrowly missed being taken for a curio vendor and being put off until
another day. The Underwoods came to the rescue, however, and
prolonged their call until everybody was acquainted.

The _taupo_ or "village maiden" is a functionary as indispensable to
a Samoan village as a chief, or even a missionary. She is, in fact,
usually the daughter of the chief; or, if that dignitary has no girl
in his family, the most attractive maiden chosen from among his near
relations. Her duties are the traditional ones of making the official
_kava_, leading the official dances called _siva-sivas_, and looking
after the entertainment and personal comfort of distinguished visitors.
Formerly she acted as a sort of _vivandiere_ in time of tribal wars,
encouraging her chief's forces by singing in the forefront of the
battle. This latter, strange as it may seem, is not an ancient custom
by any means. The still young and beautiful wife of Judge E. W. Gurr
of Pago Pago, who was _taupo_ of Apia at the time of the now historic
war between Maletoa and Mataafa for supremacy in Samoa, went
through that sanguinary struggle at the side of her adopted father, the
distinguished chief, Seumana-Tafa, and her delightful accounts of her
experiences in those stirring days we were privileged to enjoy on a
number of occasions during our visit.

The _taupo_ lives in a house of her own, attended by eight or ten
handmaidens and a stern--a very stern--duenna. The handmaidens are
the most attractive unmarried girls in the village after the _taupo_,
and are chosen for their faces and figures and their ability to
dance. Beyond following the _taupo_ in the mazes of the _siva-siva_
and accompanying her on official calls, they have no duties to speak
of, but as each one lives in hope of being chosen as a successor when
their leader passes from them by marriage or for any other cause, their
life is largely a schooling toward that felicitous end. The _kava_
and _siva-siva_ ceremonies are so numerous and intricate that nothing
short of many years of instruction and practice can fit a girl properly
to perform them, and in this respect the training of a _taupo_ is not
unlike that of the court _geishas_ of Japan or certain of the temple
_nautch_ girls of India.

The duenna is the guardian of the _taupo's_ morals. To her is delegated
the important duty of seeing that the feet of that often temperamental
and wilful young personage do not stray from the path of rectitude.
Escort, watcher, protector, she is supposed never to let her charge
stray beyond the sweep of her eye by day nor the reach of her arm at
night. In the old days, in the event of a contretemps, the life of the
duenna as well as that of the _taupo_ was forfeit, whether she was
guilty of "contributory negligence" or not. Today, although virginity is
still the _sine qua non_ of a _taupo_, the punishment for obliquities
is somewhat less drastic, both for guard and guarded.

Seuka had come off to the yacht to invite us to a _talolo_ or official
reception to be given in our honour the following evening by Chief
Mauga of Pago Pago. After the _talolo_ she and her girls would dance
the _siva-siva_ for us, and there would also be some dancing by the
men. Of course we accepted the invitation with alacrity.

To this function we went in state, convoyed by a flotilla of canoes
sent down by Mauga, the occupants of which enlivened the progress by
singing swinging choruses extemporized in our praise. The tide was out
when we reached our destination at the end of the bay, as a result
of which our cutter grounded upon the edge of the reef. Instantly
the members of our escort jumped out of their canoes and swarmed
alongside to carry us in across the fifty yards of intervening shallows
to the beach. The Commodore and I saw the Mater and Claribel borne
unresistingly off in the arms of two bronze, flower-crowned giants,
and then, judging it more compatible with our dignity, made the fatal
mistake of electing to take the journey "pick-a-back." Before my
"mount" had splashed a dozen yards I came to a realization of the fact
that it was going to be out of the question to retain my hold on his
coco-oiled shoulders while he traversed the whole distance; so, rather
than prolong the agony, I dropped off into the water and trudged ashore
alone. The air was warm, my ducks were soiled already, and most of the
guests would be barefoot anyway, I told myself philosophically. But the
Commodore, who, as the official head of the party was out in his
nattiest uniform and did not, as he explained later, desire to make his
first appearance before the highest chief on the island of Tutuila
looking like a ship-wrecked sailor, would not give up without a struggle.

Unfortunately for the Commodore's hopes, the vigorous strangle hold
with which he endeavoured to maintain himself on his precarious perch
shut off the wind, and with it the song, of the man who was trying to
carry him; and because a Samoan cannot perform any kind of labour--and
especially a labour of love like the lift in question--without singing,
this one came to a quick stop. The jolt started the Commodore slipping,
and I was just congratulating myself on the probability that he was
going to appear at the party more mussed up than I was, when there
came a quick rush from behind and another of the canoeists scooped
up the suspended bundle of white in his arms and, carrying it as a
mother carries a babe--even as the Mater and Claribel had been borne
off--splashed through to the beach.

"_Lelei!_ Thank you! Good boy!" cried the relieved Commodore heartily
as he found himself set right side up upon the coral clinkers. And
again he cried "_Lelei!_" (the extent of his Samoan at that time)
and "Good Boy!" when the cap which he supposed had fallen off in the
water was set jauntily back upon his head by his dusky preserver.
Another "Good boy!" greeted the discovery of the fact that his feet were
dry, and still another boomed forth when the flickering light of the
torches showed the white uniform to be still immaculate. The last one
was emphasized with a ringing slap of gratitude bestowed upon the
oil-glistening shoulder where his head had lately rested. There came a
ripple of low-silvery laughter, and the Commodore's preserver had
slipped away among the shadows of the coco trees.

The ruddy glow that suffused the sun-tanned face of the Commodore as
I splashed out alongside him was not due entirely to the glare of the
torches.

"Did you hear that? Did you see that?" he gasped excitedly, staring
off into the moon-mottled shadows. "_He_ was a girl! I've been carried
ashore by a girl! You don't suppose that--"

"Don't worry," I said gently; "they were too busy thanking their own
preservers to notice you."

Mauga, the fine old gladiator who was giving the _talolo_, met us at
the door of his huge thatched-roofed "palace" and led us to the "seats"
of honour--stacks of mats upon which we sat cross-legged--between
himself and his handsome chiefess, Faa-oo-pea. After a speech of
welcome by the _tulafale_ or "talking chief," there were two or
three spirited sword and club-juggling exhibitions by a dozen or so
men, magnificent physical specimens who twirled and tossed ancient
Samoan weapons as they reeled and lunged in the sinuous movements
of the strange dances. In the interval of these Claribel was led away
by one of Seuka's handmaidens to have a glimpse of the dressing of
that important young personage for the _siva-siva_ that was shortly
to follow. When, on her return, we asked her what the _taupo_ was
going to wear, she appeared distinctly embarrassed and launched at
once into a detailed description of Seuka's marvellous _tuiga_ or
headdress, which she had witnessed the assembling and adjustment
of. As a matter of fact, as became apparent shortly, that was about all
there was to describe. For that reason, and because it is so
marvellous an affair intrinsically, I have thought it worth while to set
down what the observant Claribel has to say about it in her journal.

"The _taupo's_ badge of office is a three-feet-high headdress called a
_tuiga_. It is a composite affair, part wig, part frontlet of nautilis
shell and part a scaffolding of three flower-decked sticks. It is not
an easy thing to put on, for it must be assembled piece by piece each
time it is wanted. It is producive of constant pain while it is worn
and is taken off with a feeling of relief, yet the custom of wearing
it on official occasions is so old and rigid that the _taupo_ would
scarcely feel properly clad without it. The foundation is a strip of
black cloth which is wound around the head at the roots of the hair,
drawing all of the latter up into a bunch at the crown. Upon this one
stubby lock is tied the wig of natural hair, which is set in a frame of
cloth or fibre netting. When this is attached so securely that there is
no chance of its becoming dislodged, the scaffolding of slender sticks
and a cross piece is tied in front and made fast to the cloth covering
over the forehead. The cross piece is usually ornamented with two or
three round mirrors and some bright feathers, while a band consisting
of several rows of the partition plates of the nautilus shell is often
tied across the forehead. With these decorations the _taupo_ wears a
neck pendant of a curled boar's tusk and a wreath or two of _ula_, a
few of the bright red fruits of the pandanus occasionally appearing
among the latter."

[Illustration: FAA-OO-PEA, CHIEFTAINESS OF PAGO
PAGO, MAKING _kava_]

[Illustration: SEUKA, _taupo_ OF PAGO PAGO,
ILLUSTRATING A MOVEMENT IN THE _Siva_]

Since Claribel had not seen fit to prepare us for it, the coming of
Seuka wearing, besides her _tuiga_, only a cincture of bright _ti_
leaves on each ankle and an almost negligible bit of ancestral _tappa_
wreathed in a precarious twist about her waist, created something of
a stir in a portion of our party. Was it really the same Seuka, she
of the downcast eye and the blushing cheek and the long, trailing
_holakau_ of the previous afternoon? we asked ourselves. There was
the same liquid eye and the same rounded cheek, but now the one was
flashing and the other flushing with the surging "dance passion,"
and as for the _holakau_, the Commodore avers that his falling out
of sympathy with the missionary--the introducer of that atrocious
hider-of-charms--dates from that moon-lit evening by the bay of Pago
Pago when Seuka danced the _siva_ to the throb of the drum-logs and the
music of the ripple of the wavelets on the beach.

On the Samoan _siva-siva_ and its concomitant, the _kava_ ceremony, I
will write in another chapter; of this particular _siva_--our first
one--I note here only the high lights of the mental picture which
the mention of it always conjures up--the half-lighted interior of
the thatch-roofed, mat-floored _faletele_, with slices of the blue
moonlight diverging to mountain and grove and bay through rifts in the
woven blinds; the lap of the waves on the coral strand and the lisp of
the wind in the bananas running through the boom of the tom-toms and
the guttural chants of the spectators, and, in the flickering light of
the candlenut torches, those glistening limbs of mahogany, rippling,
swaying, flashing, in the infinitely alluring movements of the native
dances.

This dance was one of a dozen or more entertainments arranged by the
hospitable natives during the time the yacht remained in Pago Pago
Bay. One day it was a picnic and swim at a mountain waterfall; again
a canoeing party, and another time an evening of Samoan singing. A
ten-day-long cricket game between the teams of Pago Pago and Fuaga-sa
furnished so much excitement that I am reserving the account of it for
a special chapter. The chiefs of nearly every village on the island
came and paid us visits of ceremony and brought presents, some of them
journeying two days and more by land and water. Our most distinguished
visitor was Chief--formerly King--Tufeli, of Manua, a group of small
islands which is included with Tutuila in the American protectorate.
Tufeli, a man of heroic stature and a most pleasing personality, came
over for the express purpose of buying the yacht and sailing her back
to Manua. He was not a little disappointed to learn that the Commodore
would not find it convenient to turn her over to him in exchange for
his season's copra output, but appeared considerably consoled by the
barrel of salt beef we gave him as a compromise.

Most pleasant, too, were our relations with the officers of the Naval
Station. Shortly after our arrival the _Adams_ came to relieve the
_Wheeling_ and the fortnight during which the two American warships
were in the harbour was a continual round of festivities. The Residency
kept open house, as did also Judge E. W. Gurr, Chief Secretary of
Naval Affairs, in his beautiful half-Samoan, half-foreign home on the
mountainside.

Judge Gurr, whose wife I have mentioned as having been at one time the
_taupo_ of Apia, was for many years Stevenson's attorney and intimate
friend in Upolou, and since taking charge of native affairs in Tutuila
his thorough knowledge of Samoan character and his sympathetic interest
in the welfare of the people have made his services invaluable to the
American government. Judge Gurr arranged a voyage around the island
for the _Lurline_, with visits to the principal villages along the
coast, a fascinating excursion which was finally given up on account
of uncertain harbour facilities. This trip was undertaken, however,
by Judge Gurr and myself in the former's whaleboat, and, thanks to my
sponsor's prestige, turned out most interestingly.

In no one particular does the lightness with which the Samoan has
been touched by outside influence show more clearly than in his
architecture. He builds and lives in the same style of house today
that was used by his ancestor of a hundred--perhaps a thousand--years
ago. Unlike the Hawaiian, Tahitian and Fijian, he has not taken kindly
to sawn timber, galvanized iron, nails and glass, and nowhere is his
conservatism in this respect more in evidence than in the villages of
Tutuila. For this reason a brief description of the construction and
furnishing of a typical Pago Pago dwelling may be of interest, and
for this I am indebted to Claribel, who spent a whole afternoon, with
pencil and notebook, jotting down the details at first hand.

"Although not a nail or dressed board is used in the Samoan house, the
finished structure is exceedingly strong and especially attractive to
look at. The uprights that support the roofs are the peeled trunks of
young breadfruit trees. They are about six inches in diameter, and are
set something like a yard apart around a raised oval floor-space that is
paved with small smooth stones from the beach. Upon these posts rests
the set of beams that support the rafters. The rafters run from the top
of the posts to the roof-tree, which is supported by four or five
uprights set in the centre of the floor-space. These beams are all
laced together with braided coconut fibre, sometimes gaily coloured.
The neatest joinery is in the roof, the ceiling being the under side
of the thatching, which is laced between small, smoothly dressed
branches. These beams are not long, curved tree-trunks as they appear,
but comparatively short sections of coconut wood, fitted and dressed
and lashed together with fibre so neatly that the joints are not
readily discovered.

"Usually the thatch is of sugar cane leaves, though occasionally coco
fronds or pandanus blades are used. The walls are made by letting down
the 'Venetian blinds' of braided coco palm leaves which hang from the
roof beams about four feet above the ground. Although there is no
indicated door, the customary entrance is through the opening between
the posts to the right of a line drawn through the house between the
centre supports of the roof-tree. This is the 'front door'; the 'back
door' is any opening between the posts behind a line at right angles to
the one just mentioned, and dividing the house between the first two of
the central posts. Before these centre posts the host and hostess sit
when receiving their guests, and here the _taupo_ sits when she makes
the _kava_. It is the seat of honour for the inmates of the house.

[Illustration: A SAMOAN HOUSE IN THE COURSE
OF CONSTRUCTION]

[Illustration: "CHIEF TUFELI CAME OVER FOR THE
EXPRESS PURPOSE OF BUYING THE YACHT"]

"The furniture of the Samoan house consists mainly of mats woven from
coconut and pandanus leaves, some large chests containing the family
wardrobe, dishes, arms and trinkets. Most of the food is served on the
leaves of the bread-fruit tree or the _fau_. The fine mats and tappa,
which constitute the family heirlooms, are kept in rolls upon the
rafters. The beds are piles of mats, six or eight deep, above which are
suspended regulation mosquito nets."

An interesting feature of this description is the extent to which it
shows the coconut as figuring as a building material in the Samoan
house, and now that the utility of that remarkable tree has been
mentioned, this will be an appropriate place to outline a few of
the indispensable functions it fulfils in the life of all South Sea
islanders.

There are several articles of food and general utility, both animal and
vegetable, which are of almost vital importance to the peoples by whom
they are used, and prominent among these may be noted the seal of the
Esquimaux, the salmon of the British Columbian and Alaskan Indians,
and the rice and bamboo of the Japanese, Chinese and East Indians.
Yet none of these to their respective users occupies anything near so
important a place as does the coconut to the South Sea islander. Copra,
the dried kernel of the coconut, is the leading, and almost the only,
article of commerce in every island of the South Pacific, and as such
is the principal contributor to the income of the natives from which
everything else they use is bought. The copra of the South Pacific
islands is incomparably finer than that of the South American, West
Indian or African tropics, and the plantations of Samoa, Fiji and
Tahiti are the largest and most productive in the world. Practically
all of the copra goes to London or San Francisco to be elaborated into
a great variety of products, ranging from railroad grease to high class
toilet soap and confectionery. A large and rapidly increasing trade has
also sprung up in the outer husk of the coconut which is used in the
manufacture of a very durable floor matting.

It is through its direct utility to the South Sea native, however,
rather than for its commercial value, that the coconut attains its
real importance, for it furnishes him with food, drink and shelter,
and figures in some form or other as an almost indispensable adjunct
to every pursuit, occupation and recreation in which he indulges.
Cuts from the long, tough trunk of the tree are used for fence posts
and in bridge construction, while on those islands where no other
suitable trees are found a complete and adequate dwelling may be built
from the coco palm alone. The trunks serve for uprights, rafters and
cross-braces, while the leaves make a durable and waterproof thatch
and a light but strong siding. These may also be woven into a dozen
different kinds of baskets, bags and trays, and, braided end to end,
make an excellent drag-net for catching fish.

The water of the half-ripe nuts is the standard drink of the islands. A
good-sized nut will furnish close to a quart of liquid which, no matter
how high the temperature of the air, is always cool, sweet and slightly
effervescent. The milk of the nut, which is extracted from the kernel
by grating and pressing, is used as a flavouring for various dishes,
and with coffee makes an excellent substitute for cream. Boiled and
pressed, the kernel yields an oil which is of considerable value as a
lubricant, and as a stimulator of the growth of the hair is without a
peer. It is to their free use of coconut oil, in fact, that the
remarkable hirsute growth of the Fijians and other South Sea islanders
is directly attributed. The refuse left after making oil is fed to pigs
and poultry, a purpose to which it is admirably suited. On the delights
of eating coconut-fattened pig, roasted on hot stones and served with
_miti-hari_ sauce--itself a mixture of coco milk and lime juice--I have
rhapsodized in one of the Tahiti chapters.

The husk of the coconut is woven up into cinnet, lines and ropes, and
as such employed in house and boat construction, for fishing, and
for every other purpose in which strands of manila, sisal or cotton
ordinarily serve. The flint-like shell of the coconut makes a useful
grater and scraper, and when heated with the air excluded is reduced to
a splendid quality of charcoal. The shells are also used for drinking
cups, water-bottles, scoops, catch-alls and bailers for canoes. Tapped
at its heart, the trunk yields a liquid which makes an excellent
substitute for yeast, while chunks cut from the same portion of the
tree forms the base of a salad which is the delight of epicures, both
native and white. A still more delectable salad is made from the crisp
meat of the budding nuts.

I pause with the list still incomplete, but enough uses have been
enumerated, I trust, to make it comprehensible that the most drastic
punishment that can be meted out to a South Sea village--one that is
still resorted to in the Solomons and New Hebrides when a missionary
is murdered or a labour schooner "cut out"--is to destroy its coconut
trees.

Our Samoan laundryman was the source of considerable amusement
during our stay in Pago Pago. Several of those indispensable
functionaries came alongside on the day of the yacht's arrival, all
bearing credentials of the highest order. One Maritomi, however, with
a testimonial on the crested note paper of the Earl of Crawford
affirming that the bearer had done the washing for his yacht, _Valhalla_,
during her visit to Pago Pago, and had performed the work with
neatness and dispatch, made the most favourable impression and was
given a trial bundle. Among the things was a number of white duck
uniforms, from the coats of which, in the hurry of arrival, the brass
buttons had not been removed. The coats came back in time, neatly
laundered, but unaccompanied either by the buttons or an explanation.

When Maritomi came round for the washing the following week he at first
denied all knowledge of the missing buttons, asseverating that he was
a "mitinary" boy and therefore could not steal even if he wanted to.
This failing to make an impression, he finally admitted that he had
the buttons, but claimed that buttons were his rightful perquisites,
adding that he had kept the buttons of the Earl of Crawford every wash
and had still been given a good character by His Lordship's steward.
What was more, he said he was going to keep all of our buttons he could
lay his hands on, and was going to feel very hurt if we, too, didn't
give him a good character on our departure. We didn't think we were
better than the Earl of Crawford, did we? That would be too absurd when
the _Valhalla_ was three times as big as the _Lurline_ and had
steam-power besides. Of course there was no upsetting a precedent
established by so illustrious a personage as the Earl of Crawford, and
therefore it was that all that our good laundryman threatened came
to pass.

On the morning of our departure when he came off with farewell
presents of _tappa_ and war clubs, the grateful Maritomi showed his
appreciation of the testimonial we had given him by appearing in one
of the Commodore's white duck uniforms, with _Lurline_ buttons drawing
the jacket together across his brawny chest, while the delivery boy who
accompanied him perspired in the unwonted grip of a dress coat of an
officer of the _Valhalla_. We forgave Maritomi much for the delicacy
of feeling he displayed in putting the _Valhalla_ coat on the delivery
boy.



CHAPTER XIII

SAMOAN CRICKET: FAUGA-SA V. PAGO PAGO


The captain of Fauga-sa drank deep from his _epu_ of _kava_, tossed the
heel-taps over his shoulder as etiquette required, and sent the shining
coconut cup spinning back across the mat to the feet of the _taupo_,
who, in festal regalia of dancing skirt and _tuiga_, presided at the
kava bowl. Then he nodded gravely to the Pago Pago captain opposite,
and each leaned forward and laid a honey-hearted hibiscus blossom in
the palm of his outstretched hand.

Instantly every voice within and without the council house was hushed,
and in the waiting silence the buzzing of a huge blue-bottle fly
sounded insistently above the lap of the wavelets on the beach and
the lisp of the leaves of the palms. Suddenly the buzzing ceased,
and with a great shout of triumph the Fauga-sa captain sprang to his
feet and waved a hand from the doorway, on which action his shout was
immediately taken up by the other eight and sixty members of his team,
who fairly set the hillsides ringing with their ululating cries.

And why should they not cheer? Had not the fly alighted upon the hand
of their chief and captain, Malatoba, thus giving him the "choice," and
would he not send the Pago Pagos in to bat during the storm which every
sign said was due for the next morning, leaving Fauga-sa the cool, dry
days that always follow a storm to finish in? What matter if Pago Pago
had eighty-five men to their sixty-nine?--the mud would soon wear down
the opposing runners and more than make up for so slight a handicap.
They arrive at the decision somewhat differently on the beach of Pago
Pago than at Lord's, but the winning of the toss is of no less importance
in Samoan cricket than in English.

Samoan cricket is not quite so primitive as that of the Esquimau
tribe in which the batsman, with a thigh bone, defends a wicket made
of ribs of the animal whose skull the bowler launches at it; but it
has sufficient points of divergence from its original model to make
some prefatory explanation essential to an understanding of it. In
the first place, then, a contest between two localities is a far more
representative one in the island game than in real cricket, for a team
consists of every able-bodied man in the village--every male not in his
first or second childhood--and if one village chances to be larger than
another it is all in the fortunes of war. The overwhelming advantage
this scheme might give to a large village over a small one is, to a
certain extent, minimized by the custom of having a relay of four men
to do the running for all of the batsmen of each team; and if its
runners are not men of great endurance as well as speed, a big team may
beat itself by wearing them out by heavy scoring in the earlier stages
of the contest.

The ball is "regulation," but the bat, in size and shape, is more like
that used in baseball than in cricket. It is made of light-coloured
native wood of medium weight, is of about three feet in length, and has
its large end slightly flattened for striking the ball. The handle is
bound with cinnet to insure a grip. The wicket consists of one stick
instead of three, the difficulty of hitting which, even undefended, makes
anything of the nature of "stone-walling" tactics quite superfluous. The
batsman, having no running to do, simply stands up and drives the ball
about until he is out, the latter event, except for special ground rules
that vary even between village and village, occurring under practically
the same conditions as in the orthodox game. Bowling, both as regards
"overs" and the distance from which, and the manner in which, the ball
is delivered, does not differ materially from ordinary cricket.

A game consists of but a single inning, and is never "drawn" unless the
score chances to be tied. It is finished when every man playing has had
his turn with the bat, a consummation which may be reached in anything
from four to twelve days. Time is not of the essence of the contest,
and as no one ever has any business or other engagements to call him
away, the game is always fought out to the bitter end.

The visiting team proceeds in boats to the village with which it is to
play, and remains there, the guest of the resident chief, during the
period of the match. Play on the first day usually commences in the
afternoon, but on the days following, except for short intermissions
taken by the fielding team for a triumphal dance after each "out,"
lasts from daylight to dark. The nights are spent in _kava_ drinking
and _siva-sivas_, and a Samoan village after a week of cricket is over
always relapses into an equal period of almost absolute somnolence
while it takes the rest cure.

The exhibition cricket which is occasionally arranged for the benefit
of visitors in Samoa is usually played on a comparatively smooth
and level open space, bearing some slight resemblance to a regular
field, but when the natives are playing for their own amusement the
pitch is more likely than not to be located in the midst of a coconut
grove, and in the closest-built part of the village. Twelve successive
hours of fielding with a grilling tropical sun on the naked back has
its terrors even for a Samoan. He likes the shade of the coconuts
and the overhanging eaves of thatch, and there is something in the
uncertainty of handling the elusive caroms from ridge poles and
palm fronds that appeals to his simple native mind.

The game in question was between the teams of the villages of
Fauga-sa--the Falesá of Stevenson's story, "The Beach of Falesá"--and
Pago Pago, respectively the champions of the leeward and windward
sides of the island of Tutuila. The winning of the "toss" by Malatoba of
Fauga-sa was considered of great importance, for all the signs were for
a southwest gale during the first days of the match, and as no game
is ever called on account of inclement weather, it was figured that
Pago Pago's runners would soon tire in the rain and wind, making
heavy scoring impossible, while the batsmen could be retired just as
fast in rain as in sunshine. And, to a certain degree, thus it happened;
but the handicap to Pago Pago was only sufficient to cut down that
team's excess of batsmen and bring the game to the most spectacular
finish in the history of Samoan cricket.

The custom of having special men to do the running for the batsmen
originated, it is said, in the early days of the game, when a chief who
had been lamed in battle, and whose presence in the game was strictly
necessary from a social standpoint, was allowed the privilege of a
running substitute. The effect of the practice is the centring of this
work upon men specially chosen and trained for swiftness and endurance,
while any man able to stand erect qualifies as a batsman. The best bat
of the Apia team for many years was a grizzled old warrior with an
aromatic piece of sandal wood in place of a left leg that had been
snapped off by a shark in his younger days.

Pago Pago's main reliance in this game was not upon the number and
prowess of its batsmen, nor upon the skill and quickness of its
fielders, nor yet upon the speed and accuracy of its bowlers, but
rather upon two phenomenally swift runners imported for the occasion
from the crack Apia team of the island of Upolou. These men, Motu and
Roboki, were reputed so speedy that they could exchange places while
the ball was being passed from the wicket-keeper to the bowler, and
on good clean drives into the ocean it was said that they had often
piled up a dozen, and even a score, of runs. A Samoan cricket field
has no "boundaries," and running is kept up until the ball is returned
or declared "officially lost" by the umpire, a maximum of twenty runs
being allowed in the latter event.

With a great beating of drums, tooting of conches and blowing of horns,
the Fauga-sa men scattered out to their places, while Chief Mauga of
Pago Pago squared away to face the bowling of Chief Malatoba. Motu and
Roboki, the runners, crouched in readiness for a lightning start, the
umpires waved their insignias of office, folded umbrellas, and the big
game had begun!

The first ball struck a lump of coral, broke sharply to leg, and Mauga
ducked just in time to save his ribs, while the spheroid, spinning off
the wicket-keeper's fingers, struck a coconut trunk and ricocheted into
a bunch of bananas, Motu and Roboki completing four swift dashes up
and down their coral path before it was returned. The second ball
came straight for the wicket, and though it fell dead from Mauga's bat
almost at his feet, the nimble runners, like two dark spectres, again
changed ends. Eight more times they passed each other for the next
three balls, only one of which was touched by the batsman, and when,
on the last ball of the "over," Mauga stepped forward and laced out a
screaming drive high above the council house and into the bay, the
Pago Pago sympathizers fairly went wild with excitement. While a
lithe-limbed Fauga-sa fielder went darting like a seal through the
water after the ball, Motu and Roboki, their every nerve and muscle
strained to its utmost, were piling up the runs for Pago Pago.

[Illustration: "CHIEF MAUGA SQUARED AWAY
TO FACE THE BOWLING OF CHIEF MALATOBA"]

[Illustration: TO-A, WHO MADE THE BEST SCORE
FOR PAGO PAGO, FACING THE BOWLER

(Note his runner waiting, stick in hand, with foot raised)]

Seven times they had passed each other and turned and passed again,
and the swimmer had only reached the ball and thrown it awkwardly
to a team-mate close behind him. Twice more the runners flashed by
each other, and the ball was only at the shore. Motu signalled for
still another effort, and with canes outstretched the game fellows
went racing, each toward his goal. Half way up from the shore a
Fauga-sa fielder fumbled the ball, and all looked safe for the runners,
when a fragment of coco husk caused Roboki to turn his ankle just at
the instant he was about to pass his partner, sending him plunging,
head-on, into Motu, both of them collapsing into a jumbled heap. The
ball came on an instant later and both batsmen, through the failure
of their runners, were declared out. Motu and Roboki recovered
consciousness in the course of the next hour, but were of no further
use to their team until the following day.

Out of deference to the feelings of their opponents, the Fauga-sas
omitted the dance customarily indulged in each time a batsman is
put out, but when the next man to face the bowling popped up an
easy ball and was caught in the slips, they made up for lost time.
Whirling and yelling like dervishes, they rushed into a solid phalanx
formation, and then, with rhythmic clappings of hands and
stampings of feet, made a circuit of the ground, finally to end up in
front of the squatting ranks of the waiting batsmen of Pago Pago.
Here they continued their antics for a minute or two more, jocosely
pointing out the fate of the man just disposed of as the fate which
awaited the rest of his team. Then they broke up and went to
playing again.

Not in the least disheartened by so unpropitious a start, the Pago
Pago batsmen began slamming the ball about at this juncture, and
by dark, though only fifteen wickets had fallen, a total of 240 runs
had been put up, the largest half-day's score ever made in Samoa.
Most of these runs were the result of long drives, which, though
high in the air, were almost impossible to catch on account of the
trees. Only one man was clean bowled, most of the outs being due
to balls which flew up from the bat and were caught by one of the
horde that clustered at point.

A local ground rule which held that a ball was fairly caught when
intercepted rolling from a roof or dropping from a tree was
responsible for the finish of several good batsmen. Almost in the
middle of the field was a large thatch-roofed house, oval in form,
temporarily occupied by the scorers, the _taupo_ and her
handmaidens, and the distinguished visitors. A solid circle of
fielders ringed this house, and several men were retired on balls
smartly caught as they cannoned from the springy thatch.

Perhaps the most amusing event of the afternoon was the disgrace
brought upon himself by Samau, son of Chief Malatoba, and the crack
bat and fielder of the Fauga-sas. Samau was a dandified young blade
with a great opinion of himself as a lady's man, who, because of his
rather clever handling of a couple of long drives early in the game,
had been giving himself airs and doing a deal of noisy boasting. Just
as the setting sun dipped behind the towering backbone of the island
and a grateful coolness came creeping down with the shadows from
the bosky hillsides, Seuka, the pretty _taupo_ of Pago Pago, strolled
out through the coconuts, and when near Samau, threw up her lovely
arms and hands in the expressive Samoan gesture signifying a complete
surrender of heart and soul. Apparently no whit moved, the haughty
youth only tossed his Turkish towel-beturbaned head and proceeded
to knock down with one hand a sizzling hot drive that came toward
him headed for the beach. Thus spurned, the artful Seuka sank down
for a space upon a nearby mat in an attitude suggestive of the
profoundest grief, shortly, however, to return to the attack from a
perch on the veranda of the little white Mission church which stood
in the middle of Samau's territory.

The proud youth tried valiantly for a while to stem the tide of his
ebbing interest in the game, but the little lady seemed so palpably
smitten with his charms that, out of the very softness of his heart, he
finally edged over and, still keeping his eye fixed on the batsman,
began to talk to her. Soon Seuka was observed holding something
playfully behind her back and tantalizing the scornful Samau by
denying him a look. At last the unlucky fellow's curiosity got the
better of him, and for one fatal moment he was seen to turn his back
and begin to scuffle with the laughing coquette for the possession of
the keepsake she was withholding. At the same instant the batsman
smote the ball a ringing crack and sent it flying into the top of a tall
coco palm above the church. From the palm the ball dropped to the
roof of the mission, rolled to the veranda, and finally fell off almost
upon the head of the frightened Samau, who was standing gaping
foolishly at the wildly gesticulating horde of his team mates who
came bearing down upon him. It would have been an easy catch had
he been attending to business, and as the full enormity of the crushed
dandy's offence dawned upon him, he turned tail and ran for the bush,
closely followed by a dozen irate Fauga-sa men and a black and white
cur. Being the fastest man on his team, Samau easily outdistanced the
pursuit, but it was said that he stayed in the bush all night, and that
he was only allowed to enter the game next day upon the solemn
promise not to speak to another woman until his return to the home
village.

The second day the expected storm came on, and on that and the two
following days there was a gale of wind and almost incessant rain.
Through it all the game went merrily on, and despite unfavourable
conditions Pago Pago continued to add to its score until, when the last
batsman was out on the fifth day, a total of 1,386 runs had been
chalked up to its credit. By this time fine weather had set in again, but
even with this in their favour it did not seem possible for the Fauga-sas
to equal the tremendous score that faced them. When twenty-three
wickets went down the first day for a paltry three hundred runs the
situation looked more hopeless than ever.

Things brightened up for a while on the second day when Samau, the
disgraced one, batted up a rattling eighty-two, fifteen of which were
put up by his speedy runners during a diversion among the fielders
caused by a nest of hornets which one of the batsman's swift drives
had unexpectedly dislodged from a bread-fruit tree. After this the
Fauga-sa batting slumped off again, and the day closed with something
in excess of seven hundred runs to the team's credit, and thirty-nine
wickets down. The third day seventeen more wickets fell for fewer than
three hundred runs, so that on the morning of the fourth day--the ninth
of the match--the fag end of the Fauga-sa batting faced a shortage of
nearly four hundred runs.

The first man to encounter the bowling on what proved to be the final
day of the match was a youth called "Johnny," a nickname which took
its origin from the fact that its bearer had once been employed as
a dishwasher in the galley of the American gunboat stationed in the
harbour. He had been playing baseball with the Yankee marines, and
that this was his first game of cricket was evident when he squared
away with his bat over his shoulder as though facing pitching instead
of bowling. Heedless of the redicule heaped upon him for his lack of
"form," "Johnny" calmly stepped out and slammed the first ball--which
chanced to be a full pitch--over the tops of the highest palms and down
into a running stream in the bottom of a little gully. Down the stream
it went, bobbing merrily on the way to the beach, and before it was
recovered the swift-footed runners had traversed the course a dozen
times. The second ball came at the batsman's feet, and the hockey-like
sweep he made of it narrowly missed being caught by the bowler. The
third ball struck away in front of him, and, stepping back, "Johnny"
smote it hard and true, straight into the house where sat the scorers,
the visitors and the members of Chief Mauga's household. All scattered
as they saw it coming, and the whizzing sphere had traversed nearly
the whole distance to the further side of the house before it landed,
dull and heavy, in the ribs of little Oo-hee, the misshapen dwarf kept
by Mauga in the capacity of mascot and jester.

Oo-hee was stretched bawling on the mat, but the question of how hard
he was hit was entirely lost sight of in the excitement surrounding
the momentous import attaching to the fact that he had been hit at
all. A dwarf is regarded with the same superstitious awe in Samoa
as in other parts of the world, and there, too, no better method is
known of deflecting a current of bad luck than by touching the hump
of a hunchback. But actually to bring down a hunchback with a cricket
ball was a thing unprecedented. Pago Pago looked serious about it and
Fauga-sa began to take heart--surely something was going to happen!

And something did happen, too, and that right speedily. "Johnny" missed
his fourth ball, and the fifth, just touching the butt of his bat, went
hopping and spinning off along the ground like a wounded duck. Some
idea of such a resemblance must have been awakened in the active mind
of the little black and white village cur, who, cocked up in the shade of
a palm had been conducting a punitive expedition against a particularly
aggravating flea, for he pounced on the ball with a glad yelp and began
shaking it like a thing alive. No whit dampened in ardour by the failure
of the object of his attack to fight back, the frisky canine kept
valiantly at his task, and when the onrush of fielders seemed to threaten
him with total annihilation, he began to dodge and skip about among them
as though proud to be the centre of so much attention. But when he saw
Mauga, roaring with rage at the thought of the Fauga-sa runners adding
to their team's score at the rate of a run every three or four seconds,
seize a cutlass and come charging down upon him, he realized that he
had made a mistake. Whereupon, therefore, he tucked his wisp of a tail
between his legs and flew as the bee flies, straight for the bush, even
forgetting, in his terror, to drop the ball.

When Mauga and the rest of his braves came back from a bootless chase,
it was to be met with the disconcerting news that not another ball was
to be found in the village. Anxiously renewed inquiry, however, met
with better reward, for one of the missionary's boys was found to have
an old ball, still quite hard and round and in good condition in every
respect, save for the fact that one side of it, in lieu of anything
better to hand, had been patched with a piece of shark's hide. Under
ordinary conditions the Pago Pagos would not have thought of
consenting to use such a ball, for the surface of dry shark's hide has
all the roughness of a rasp combined with the sharpness of the nettle;
but the game seemed nearly won, and it is not in the Samoan nature to
brook the postponement of a certain triumph if it can possibly be
helped.

Fauga-sa was chalked up with twenty runs for the lost ball, and the
game was started up again. Gingerly settling the prickly sphere back in
his fingers, the bowler delivered the sixth ball of "Johnny's" over,
and this the latter, swinging wildly, missed and was clean bowled.

This lucky beginning filled the Pago Pagos with great elation, from
which state they were rudely jostled a moment later when the next
batsman drove a hot line ball which scoured out the palm of the hand of
one of the swarm of cover-points and set him howling home to bind the
wound with ti leaves. After that the fielders handled the dreaded ball
as if it was a live coal, and though wickets kept falling from time to
time, runs came fast between until, when the last Fauga-sa man but one
was out, the total of the team's runs was but four behind the aggregate
of Pago Pago.

The final batsman was an old man with weak eyes, who, after missing
three balls, caught the fourth on the edge of his bat and shot it high
up into the top of a towering coconut palm. Like a swarm of wolves
the Pago Pago fielders, with outstretched hands, crowded beneath the
preciously-freighted fronds, and like the shuttles of a madly-driven
loom the runners of Fauga-sa darted back and forth. Once, twice,
thrice, four times--and finally--five times they go, and then one of the
umpires waves his umbrella and announces that Fauga-sa has won
the game.

[Illustration: "WHIRLING AND YELLING LIKE DERVISHES
THEY MADE A CIRCUIT OF THE GROUND"]

[Illustration: "A SINEWY BROWN FIGURE STARTS
CLAMBERING UP THE TREE"]

But stay! A sinewy brown figure starts clambering up the tree. Now he
has reached the top, now grasped the ball with eager hand, and now he
is back among his team-mates on the ground. And listen! What was that?
The second umpire is speaking--he announces that Pago Pago wins the
game.

And which team really won the contest is a moot question to this day;
but if ever you chance to go to the island of Tutuila and desire to
start a Samoan "Donnybrook," just mention, on an occasion when one or
more stalwarts from both of these villages are within hearing of your
voice, the last championship game that was ever played between the Pago
Pago and Fauga-sa teams.



CHAPTER XIV

A VISIT TO APIA


On the 9th of June we sailed from Pago Pago for Apia, planning to
return at the end of a week in order to be present at an official
flag-raising which our patriotic friend, Chief Mauga, was preparing
for. We found the breeze veering and uncertain as we beat out of the
harbour late in the afternoon, but ample working room and the absence
of strong currents in the entrance to this splendid bay made the
direction of the wind of little moment. Beyond the shelter of the
harbour walls the waves, driven by an unusually heavy Trade, were
running tumultuously from the southeast in frothy hummocks of cotton
wool. For a couple of miles, close-hauled, we stood straight out from
the land, the yacht one moment burying her nose in a malignant curl
of green, and the next tossing it skyward while a ton or two of solid
water went bounding back along the deck and gurgled hoarsely out
through the overworked scuppers. When the offing was sufficient sheets
were slacked off and we headed down the coast on a broad reach, making
good speed in spite of heavy rollings in the wrench of the quartering
seas.

The west blazed for a few moments as the sun went down, to be quickly
quenched by a curtain of black cloud that was thrown across the heavens
in a final shifting of the scenery for the most spectacular exhibition of
marine pyrotechnics that is to be seen in the whole length and breadth
of the Seven Seas--a June night assault by the Pacific upon the "Iron
Bound Coast" of Tutuila.

The "Iron Bound Coast" opens up beyond the first point west of the
entrance to Pago Pago Bay and runs up the island for a half-dozen miles
or more, squarely across the path of advancing lines of seas that have
been charging to the attack and gathering weight, impetus and arrogance
in a thousand miles of unbroken rush before the scourges of the
Southeast Trade. Their repulse is sudden, sharp and decisive, and the
beetle-browed, black-ribbed cliffs accomplish it without a change of
expression. The waves have been beating their heads to pieces against
these same frowning, impassive barriers for a million years, more or
less, and yet they are never able to overcome their surprise, never
stoical enough to hide their resentment, never capable of restraining
their expostulations. And what floods of supplications, what varieties
of protests they pour out! If you approach near enough, following the
thundering crash against the cliff, they appeal to you from where they
fall with sobs of anguish and groans of pain; if you gaze from afar
they beckon you with high-flung distress flags of white foam, and
if you pass in the darkness they signal their despair with ghostly
bonfires of glowing spume and phantom rockets of phosphorescent
spray.

It was such a display that we were treated to on the night of the 9th
of June, and under a fortunate combination of circumstances that made
it especially impressive. The seas about the Samoas are extraordinarily
prolific of the animalculæ whose presence makes sea water
phosphorescent, and in May and June occur their periods of greatest
activity. That this night was moonless and heavily overcast made the
conditions especially favourable. Daylight and twilight had passed in
swift transition, and the yacht was sailing in inky darkness as she
rounded the point and opened up the Iron Bound Coast. For a moment
the darkness held, and through it the imminent loom of the island was
only a blur of darker opacity against the starless void above. Then a
great splash of flame burst forth, and in an instant more the coast was
picked out in lines of liquid fire, the reflections from which bathed the
whole mountainside in fluttering waves of ghostly blue light. Here a
great sea struck and erupted like a volcano set-piece, spreading out
fan-wise and falling back in lines of vivid light; there a big blow-hole
exploded in thunderous geysers of flame, and close by a smaller vent
projected, as from the nozzle of a hose, a slender, gleaming stream of
liquid fire. In places, where the rock ribs of the cliff broke evenly,
the flashes burst out in regular spurts of pale flame like those from
the broadside of a warship, and again, where submerged rocks and
crooked elbows threw one wave back upon another, there appeared great
welters of green light that churned and bubbled and swirled like liquid
lava.

Like the film of a biograph the vivid panorama of flame slipped past,
and by nine o'clock the ridge of Sail Rock Point had interposed and
blotted out the last of it. Beyond, the island broke into hollow,
smooth-beached bays, where submerged reefs clipped the claws of the
breakers and dissolved them in broad patches of faint luminosity before
they reached the shore. At ten o'clock, in order not to reach Apia
before morning, jib and mainsail were taken in and the night run out
under foresail and forestay-sail.

The smooth, green hills of Upolou were close at hand to the southwest
at daybreak, and at seven o'clock, with jack hoisted for a pilot, we
were off the entrance of Apia harbour. The passage to the bay is broad
and straight, but, as that port was German at the time, the taking of
a pilot was compulsory. That functionary came out promptly in response
to our signal, and a half hour later left the yacht at anchor a quarter
of a mile off the beach and a hundred yards from where, a broken-backed
frame of rusting steel, the wreck of the ill-fated German warship,
_Adler_, lay high up on the coral reef, just as it had been left by the
waves in the great hurricane of 1889.

We heard from eye-witnesses the story of that hurricane when we went
ashore in the afternoon; of how the powerful British _Calliope_,
cheered by the doomed sailors in the shrouds of the American ships,
forced her way in the teeth of the storm out through the passage to
safety; of the destruction of the _Olga_ and _Adler_ and _Eber_, and
_Trenton_ and _Vandalia_ and _Nipsic_; of the frightful loss of life;
of the heroism of the natives in risking their lives in the mountainous
surf and treacherous back-wash to save their late enemies, and a
hundred other things closely or remotely bearing on that remarkable
disaster. Told by men to whom the memory of the storm was still fresh
and clear, with the theatre of the great tragedy opening before us,
and countless souvenirs of one kind or another at hand to crystallize
interest, the recitals were graphic in the extreme and made deep
impression upon us of the _Lurline_, who had also had some experience
of the way of the sea in its harsher moods.

At evening as we came down to the landing for our boat the Commodore's
gaze wandered from the great pile of riven steel on the reef to where
the yacht, a slender sliver of silver, swung slowly to her anchor in
the ebbing tide. At that moment the last rays of the setting sun,
striking through the gaunt ribs of the _Adler's_ sinister skeleton,
threw a frame of black shadows across the water to rest for an instant
in dark blotches on _Lurline's_ snowy side and break the gleaming lines
of her standing rigging into rows of detached bars floating in space.
Then the sun dipped behind the mountain and the outlines of reef and
wreck and schooner began dimming under a veil of purple mist.

"I don't go much on signs myself," said the Commodore musingly as he
seated himself in the stern-sheets of the waiting boat and took the
yoke lines, "but I suppose there are a good many sailors who would
worry about a coincidence like that. Funny thing, too, that just as
it happened I was trying to figure out what kind of a chance our poor
little _Lurline_, without steam or power of any description, would
stand in a storm that could throw a ship like the _Adler_ high and dry
out of the water. And--hurricane season is coming on, you know--I'm
still wondering a little, that's all."

Strangely enough, it was written that the question should, in a
measure, be answered within the fortnight, though the demonstration,
fortunately, was not to take place in a reef-encompassed harbour.

The Bay of Apia, like that of Papeete, is a typical South Pacific
harbour; an open roadstead on the leeward side of the island, with a reef
cutting it off from the sea and giving good protection in ordinary
weathers. The only reason that there have not been other great disasters
like that of 1889 is because there has never again chanced to be so many
large ships in the harbour when a hurricane came along. The hurricanes
still blow up every now and then, and, just as in that historic storm,
all the shipping that cannot go to sea goes ashore. The bottom of Apia
Bay is almost as thickly littered with trading schooner wreckage as with
pink coral.

[Illustration: _Lurline_ AT ANCHOR IN BAY OF APIA, SAMOA

(At the summit of the mountain in the background Robert
Louis Stevenson is buried)]

[Illustration: "THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY STEAMER
_JOHN WILLIAMS_ LAY NEAR US"]

The town of Apia, though picturesque--what South Pacific village is not
so?--has scarcely the fascinating charm of Papeete with its crumbling
sea-wall, its avenues of giant trees and its wealth of traditions.
The business section of the town consists of a half mile straggle of
galvanized iron stores following the line of the beach road, with
numerous copra warehouses and several stubby piers breaking the sweep
of the foreshore. The houses of the natives are scattered about through
the cocotrees on the flat, while the European residences, bright blocks
of white, dot the lower slopes of the mountain beyond. Government
House, cool, spacious, inviting, stands apart from the others in the
midst of its well-kept grounds, and higher still, through rifts of
the encompassing verdure, glimpses may be had of the broad porticos
of Villa Vailima, the old home of Robert Louis Stevenson, the loved
_Tusitala_ of the Samoans.

Towering above Vailima to the north is an abrupt-sided mountain,
running up the slopes of which your glass reveals the scars of a
roughly-graded path. Straight up it goes, without zigzag or spiral,
until it disappears in the mists about the cloud-wreathed summit.
If there were poles, it might be the clearing for a telegraph line
to a signal station; if it was broader, a firebreak. It is neither of
these utilitarian things, however, but the pathway to a shrine. Up that
precarious flood-torn and creeper-hung foot-way was borne with tender
care the man who understood and loved Samoa and the Samoans as no
other has understood and loved them. You have discovered the path to
Stevenson's tomb, for up there where the shifting draperies of the
clouds have blown back to show a dull blur of grey through the wall of
green that fronts the skyline, is where the "sailor home from the sea"
is lying on the spot that he chose for his final resting place.

It is fitting that the way to a shrine should be a hard one, for to the
man filled with the true passion of pilgrimage the pangs of the journey
are a part of the reward for making it. The one who loves his Stevenson
and his South Seas, will also love every stone upon which he stumbles,
every creeper that rasps his cheek, every throb of his overworked
heart, every ache in his racked muscles in that soul and body-trying
climb to the summit of the mountain where the Master sleeps. I had
seen pilgrims of one kind or another stumbling on their way many times
previous to that stormy afternoon that I climbed the heights behind
Vailima, but always without comprehending what it was that urged them
forward. That day knowledge came, and when, in the year that followed,
I met Nepalese and Burman plodding the dusty river road to Buddh-Gaya,
or Turk and Arab trudging south from Damascus on the last leg of the
Mecca Hadj, it was to greet them with the sympathetic smile that said,
"I, too, know why."

Of the Great Ones of the earth, only Cecil John Rhodes, looking forth

      "Across the world he won--
    The granite of the ancient North--
      Great spaces washed with sun,"

sleeps as appropriately surrounded as does Stevenson. But _Tusitala_--I
have seen the tears start to the eyes of the great Chiefs, Mataafa and
Seumanu, at the mention of that name--has also the world he won at
his feet, while on his tomb are words unparalleled in fitness by any
epitaph ever graven, a verse as deathless as the fame of the gentle
soul that sleeps beneath. Stevenson's self-composed epitaph, read from
a printed page, is an unblemished jewel of verse, no more; read from
the bronze tablet of the tomb by the climber of the Heights, to the
requiems of the Trade-wind in the trees and the mutter of the distant
surf, it is as though breathed by the spirit of the Master himself.

    "Under the wide and starry sky
       Dig the grave and let me lie.
    Glad did I live and glad did I die,
       And I laid me down with a will.
    This be the verse you grave for me:
       'Here he lies where he longed to be--
    Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
       And the hunter home from the hill.'"

As a colonial experiment German Samoa--the islands of Upolou, Savaii,
Manono and Apolima--was not a startling success. During the first
four years of the militant Teutonic government disaffection became
rife among the natives, agricultural production fell off and trade
languished. Realizing that a change of policy was imperative, Emperor
William sent out to Apia one of the most distinguished statesmen and
scholars in the Fatherland, Dr. Solf, a former member of the Reichstag,
and under his wise régime much of the lost ground was regained. As
far as might be in a German colony, the new Governor endeavoured to
follow the plan so successfully adopted by the Americans in Tutuila,
that of exercising a gentle supervision over the natives, directing them
in matters of insular importance and leaving the Chiefs supreme in
village affairs. This policy--the only one that can ever be successful
with the high-spirited, liberty-loving Samoans--will be good as long as
it lasts, but unfortunately it will take a man of no less breadth of
character, humanity and imagination than Dr. Solf to maintain it, and
such a governor is hardly likely to be forthcoming.

As the administrator of actual colonies, Germany's problem in her
Samoan possessions is a more difficult one than that of the United
States, which only exercises a protectorate over Tutuila and Manua.
With extensive copra and cacao plantations under exploitation, German
subjects in Samoa will never cease to chafe under the necessity of
importing practically all of their labour from the Solomons, New
Hebrides and other islands to the west, when there are thirty or forty
thousand Samoans close at hand who spend their days in dreaming and
their nights in singing and dancing. Of course, the Samoans never have
performed regular labour, and can never be brought to do so, a fact,
however, which the energetic and industrious Teuton finds it hard to
understand. A governor of less force and breadth of vision than Dr.
Solf will find it difficult to withstand the pressure of the planting
interests for the inauguration of a policy that will, in some manner,
make the Samoan more productive. One does not need a lifetime of
acquaintance with the Samoan to know that the first step in this
direction will mark the beginning of an era of discontent that nothing
but a re-establishment of the broad, human régime of Dr. Solf can bring
to an end.

Dr. Solf was the Governor of German Samoa at the time of our visit to
Apia, and our meetings with him were among the pleasantest features
of our stay. We found him all that our naval friends in Tutuila had
claimed, quite the biggest figure among South Pacific executives,
and it was with no surprise and much pleasure that we heard of his
subsequent elevation to the post of Colonial Secretary, next to that
of Prime Minister the most important portfolio in the gift of Emperor
William.[1]

Outside of his political activities, Dr. Solf had long been prominent in
German yachting circles, and on one of his calls aboard _Lurline_ he
appeared in the uniform of an officer of the Kiel Yacht Club.

An especially pleasing coincidence of our visit to Apia was the arrival
there, on the day following our own, of the auxiliary schooner yacht,
_La Carabine_, of Melbourne, with her owner, Sir Rupert Clark, and
his brother, Lieutenant Ralph Clark, R.N., aboard. Sir Rupert is the
eldest son of the famous philanthropist, the late Sir William Clark,
and in addition to being the richest man in the Commonwealth and its
most prominent racing figure, is also distinguished as being one of the
only two Australian baronets. His brother, Lieutenant Clark, for some
years the Navigating Officer of the flagship of the British Australian
Squadron, resigned his commission to sail _La Carabine_ on the cruise
on which she was then embarked.

_La Carabine_ we found to be a stoutly built schooner of fifty tons'
register constructed in Auckland especially for sailing in Polynesia
and Micronesia. Her heavy channels and running bowsprit marked her
at once as British, while her stubby foremasts and huge lifeboats
suggested the trader rather than the yacht. She was equipped with
gasoline engines capable of driving her five knots an hour in a smooth
sea. The yacht took her name from Sir Rupert's famous racer,
_La Carabine_, winner of the classic Melbourne Cup of a year or two
previously.

The Clarks had already visited several ports in the Tongan group, and
from Samoa were planning to cruise for some months among the wild
and little-known islands of the New Hebrides, Solomons and New
Britain archipelagos. In many of these islands money has no value
whatever, a contingency which had been provided against by stocking
a barter room on _La Carabine_ similar to those of the regular traders.
Here were carried prints, knives, guns, jewelry, tinned meats and
tobacco, which were to be exchanged for pigs, fish, fowls and curios.
Nor was the matter of defence neglected. Just forward of the house a
swivel had been set in the deck and the installation completed to greet
the first "cutting-out" party with a hail of bullets from a
vicious-looking little Maxim set thereon. The gun was served by an old
man-of-war's man shipped with the crew for that purpose. We never heard
whether or not occasion ever arose for its serious use. At any rate, as
Clark put it, the fact that so many labour schooners had been attacked
recently made its presence "a comfort if not a necessity."

A number of very pleasant affairs were arranged for the joint pleasure
of the two yachting parties, especially enjoyable proving picnics at
Vailima and Papa-seea, the Sliding Rock, teas on several of the large
plantations and at the Consulates, a dinner at Government House,
and a couple of _siva-sivas_ at Chief Seamanu-Tafu's. The latter were
directed by the chief's daughter, Vau, the _taupo_ of Apia, a young
woman of fine face and figure and of considerable quickness of wit
as well, if the manner in which she put our good friend Clark to the
blush one afternoon may be taken as a criterion.

Vau and her handmaidens were off to tea on _La Carabine_, preliminary
to a swimming party at Papa-seea. Governor Solf, Dr. Clarence
Fahnstock, of the New York Yacht Club, on his way home from the Tongas,
and a couple of us from the _Lurline_ were also present. The talk
turned to the reforms, political, economic and industrial, lately
instituted in New Zealand. Clark, in expatiating on the stringent
prohibition laws in force in that colony, made the statement that a
man once convicted of drunkenness in a New Zealand hotel forfeited his
right to register at any other hostelry in the country. Upon hearing
which Vau looked up from the fashion supplement of a Sydney illustrated
weekly in which she had been engrossed and, with just enough twinkle in
her dark eyes to belie the innocence of expression that sat upon the
rest of her face, cooed sweetly, "So you have now to stay with frens,
Sir Ruper', when you go Nu-zelan?"

And Clark, the suave, the debonair, the cool-headed; Clark, for years
the endlessly-angled-for catch of two hemispheres; Clark, who took the
coveted Melbourne Cup without the flicker of an eyelash, blushed and
stammered like a débutante in an effort to explain. Finally, judging
the temper of the company unpropitious, he gave up his ill-advised
effort to save his reputation and took his revenge an hour later by
pushing Vau, with all her finery, over the brink of Papa-seea.

[Illustration: MAID OF HONOUR TO THE _Taupo_ OF APIA]

[Illustration: A SAMOAN SUNSET]

The London Missionary Society steamer, _John Williams_, came in and
lay near us for a few days before we left Apia. John Williams was the
pioneer missionary of the famous London society in the South Pacific,
and since his death in the early years of the last century at the hands
of New Hebridean natives every ship of that organization has borne his
name. For more than fifty years these were schooners, and as each was
piled up on a reef in turn, its name, with the number next in line
affixed, was passed on to its successor. This continued until steamers
finally supplanted schooners, when the serial system of nomenclature
was dropped. The present _John Williams_, the thirtieth or thereabouts,
of the name, is a Clyde-built steamer of something over 3,000 tons.
It has unusually graceful lines and is able to do better than sixteen
knots an hour if required. Its principal duties are the provisioning
of the mission stations scattered throughout the southwest Pacific
and the carrying on of a most lucrative trading business which the
Society--fighting the devil with fire--carries on in opposition to its
arch enemies, the real traders.

_John Williams_ proved a most unsociable craft, sullenly refusing
to meet any of the timidly tentative advances of either of the
visiting yachts. The solemn, black-coated figures in the stern sheets
of its boats would pass _La Carabine_ and _Lurline_ with averted
eyes, evidently classifying us, with all the rest of the whites, as
instruments of the world, the flesh and the devil sent to demoralize
their work with the simple native.

Before leaving Apia we discharged our Chino-Malayan cook, Harrick Siah,
whom we had signed on at Honolulu, shipping in his place one Andrew
Clark, a Jamaican mulatto. Clark had married a Samoan girl the week
previously, only to have her elope the next day with the native
missionary who performed the ceremony, taking with her the
accumulated savings of the unlucky cook's last year of voyaging.
Being thus cast "on the beach," as they put it in the South Seas,
nothing was left for him but to ship again. Now it chanced that Siah,
who was but five feet two in height, had been able to walk erect in
the galley's five feet three of headroom, as had also his diminutive
Japanese predecessor; Clark's five feet nine required something more
than six inches of reefing to swing in the clear, and even then his
head ran afoul of occasional hooks and pipes and other projections.
The poor fellow stuck manfully to his job, but within a fortnight the
reef-points of his neck became so firmly tied that, even after he had
been an hour or two ashore, we would see him on the streets or in
the market with hunched shoulders, drawn-in neck and a furtive
look of fear in his shifting eyes.

On June 13th we received word that Chief Mauga's flag-raising at Pago
Pago, a function at which we had promised to endeavour to be present,
had been scheduled for one o'clock of the 15th, in order that the
officers and men of the _Wheeling_, which was to sail that afternoon
for Bremerton, might participate. This necessitated our leaving on
the 14th, just as we were getting comfortably settled down to a full
enjoyment of hospitable Apia. A whistling east wind on the starboard
beam carried us out of the passage at a rattling gait, but only to come
squarely ahead as we trimmed in for Tutuila. All afternoon, against a
rising wind and sea, we sailed in short tacks up the coast of Upolou,
and by nine P. M., with double reefs in mainsail and foresail, just
managed to clear Albatross Rock, five miles east of the windward end
of the island.

At daybreak Tutuila showed dimly, a point forward of the port beam.
Reefs were shaken out at eight o'clock, but the tiresome beating
continued until we had doubled Sail Rock Point at one-thirty. From
there we made fair wind of it down the coast and into the harbour.
When the anchor was let go at four o'clock Mauga's "Stars and Stripes"
had been flapping in the breeze for close to three hours, and the
_Wheeling_, with a 300-foot "Homeward Bound" pennant streaming from
her main, had just cast off her mooring lines and was backing into the
stream.

[1] I have left the three preceding paragraphs as originally written.
The presence of a man of Dr. Solf's outstanding ability in such
comparatively unimportant possessions as the German Samoas has always
been a good deal of a puzzle to me, though a possible reason for it
was suggested by a remark dropped by Frederick William, the late Crown
Prince, whom I met in the course of his visit to India in the autumn of
1911.

"Perhaps Apia is not so unimportant to us as you may think," he blurted
out impatiently when I told him it had always seemed strange to me
that Germany had kept a man of Cabinet calibre (Solf had recently
been recalled to Berlin to become Colonial Secretary) for a decade in
a colony which appeared to have but the slightest of political and
commercial prospects. "Or, at least, we are hopeful of developing a
considerable trade there in time," he added somewhat confusedly, as
though his first hasty words might have implied more than he intended.

But there is little doubt that that inadvertent implication pointed to
the truth. The Samoas, at the crossroads of the Southern Seas, may well
have been intended to become the seat of the German Pacific insular
empire when _Deutschland Ueber Alles_ had become an accomplished fact
in the rest of the world. It is easy to understand how the Junkers
of the Pan-German party may have deemed the blazing the way for such
a consummation a task not too small for the powers of the suave and
diplomatic Solf. The latter's broad humanitarianism (in which I
have never ceased to believe) can have had nothing to do with his
appointment. He was the only German colonial official I ever met who
appeared to have anything approaching the interest in the welfare of
the native population under him which one expects as a matter of course
in the Briton or American occupying a similar position.

Dr. Solf's later record will be readily recalled. Holding one or
another Cabinet portfolios during all of the war, he was Foreign
Minister at the time of the signing of the Armistice. At the present
moment he is being prominently mentioned as the first after-the-war
Ambassador to Washington. I can think of no one of his countrymen so
likely to fill acceptably what at best must be an incalculably trying
post.

L. R. F.



CHAPTER XV

KAVA AND THE SIVA


The principal difference between the dance in Samoa and in the
other island groups of the South Pacific is that in the former it is
an institution and in the latter--in recent times--an incidental. In
years gone by the dance was an integral part of the life of every
South Sea people, but through missionary and governmental
influence it has practically been killed everywhere but in the Samoas.
That the missionary alone could never have accomplished this the
instance of these islands shows, for while the missionary's influence
is no less potent there than in a number of other groups, the dance
has survived his active opposition through the fact that the American
government has not put its official bans upon it, as have the British
in Fiji and the French in the Societies and Marquesas. The _siva_ is
as much a part of Samoan life today as it was in the time of La
Perouse and the first missionaries, and as one of the few unaltered
survivals of ancient times it is sincerely to be hoped that it will
remain so.

As I have pointed out in writing of the dance in Tahiti, it is only
on the rarest of occasions that one may see anything approaching
the "real" _hula_ in that island, and this is also true of the ancient
dances of Hawaii, the Marquesas, Tongas, Fijis and all of the other
South Sea islands. This is partly due to their having been repressed
as immoral, and partly to the fact that, as the years go by, there are
fewer and fewer natives who can perform the intricate movements
of the old dances. In Samoa, however, there is no evidence of the
decadence of this traditional adjunct of native expression, though
certain of the grosser features of the _siva_ are no longer seen
except in out-of-the-way interior villages. This is just as well,
perhaps, for it is these particular features of the dance that have
brought it into disrepute in other South Sea groups and ultimately
resulted in governmental interference. It is these so-called indecent
movements of the _siva_ upon which the Samoan missionaries have
based their opposition to their dance, and through their gradual
elimination at a time that a gradual broadening of the missionary
mind is also apparent, it is not impossible that a still beautiful and
uncommercialized siva may yet exist peacefully in the islands by
the side of those who have hitherto steadfastly endeavoured to
extirpate it as a thing accursed.

The interesting thing about the _siva_--and this is also true of the
Samoan himself--is that it is as it always was. Certain movements may
not be danced in certain villages out of deference to the feelings of
the missionary or because the native himself has modified his ideas
respecting their propriety, but, by and large through the islands, the
_siva-siva_ remains as it has ever been, perhaps the most beautiful
and perfect interpretative dance given to the world by any race in
history. The visitor who is entertained by a chief of Tutuila, Upolou
or Savaii with _kava_ drinking and a _siva-siva_ may know that it was
not in materially different fashion that, a century and a quarter ago,
the Samoans of that time received the officers of the _Astrolabe_ and
_Boussle_ in the great round of feasting which preceded the
unfortunate events leading up to the tragedy of Massacre Bay. The
public offering of the women to the god-like visitors on this occasion
was a thing without parallel, perhaps, in modern history, but except
in that one particular the Samoan _kava_ and dancing ceremonies
for distinguished visitors has probably undergone no change
whatever.

It is impossible to write of the _siva_ without mentioning _kava_,
and as the drinking of this almost distinctively Samoan beverage is
an invariable prelude to every dance, reception, parley or any native
gathering of whatever character, it may be in order here to tell
something of what it is and of how it is prepared and partaken.

The _kava_ plant belongs to the pepper family. It is bushy in
appearance, and the leaves, dark green and heart-shaped, are about
the size of one's two hands. The stems are knotted and crooked, with
joints every two or three inches. The plant is useful only between its
third and fifth years, the wood being too pulpy before that time, and
afterwards, too pithy and tasteless. Both stems and root are used in
the preparation of the beverage, these being cut into lengths of three
or four inches and split longitudinally to secure even drying in the
sun. Properly prepared, it is light and pithy and of a whitish colour.

The _kava_ plant grows in nearly every island of the South Pacific,
and two or three generations ago the beverage from it was in universal
use throughout those latitudes. Today it is only drunk by the Samoans
and here and there in Fiji. Why it should have fallen into disuse
elsewhere is not entirely clear, for except in endeavouring to
discourage the preparation of the root by the old method of chewing,
neither officials nor missionaries have actively opposed _kava_ drinking.
The fact that the use of _kava_ has ceased most completely in those
groups in which, like the Marquesas, Societies and Hawaiias, the
natives have become strongly addicted to the use of alcoholic stimulants,
either of their own or foreign manufacture, would point to the growing
use of the latter as the probable reason for the loss of taste for the
former. Although the Fijian native is far from being a teetotaler, the
unusual power of the missionary in that group has undoubtedly
prevented him from giving himself up to the toddy habit as completely
as have his cousins of the Marquesas and Societies. The Samoan drinks
less, and seems to care less for alcoholic stimulants than any other
South Sea native, but whether this is due to the universal use of _kava_,
or whether the universal use of _kava_ is due to the fact that the toddy
habit has never attained a foothold in his island, would be hard to say.
The fact remains that the Samoan is a keen, clean liver, and that his
_kava_, if it has not been an actual factor in developing his splendid
physical powers, at least has been responsible for nothing comparable
to the mental and moral havoc wrought by the insidious toddy in the
other islands.

Although the Samoan drinks _kava_ on any and all occasions that he
can get some one to make it for him, yet the special function of that
beverage is ceremonial. It figures in all formal gatherings, but is,
perhaps, most indispensable to the reception of guests, on which
occasions the prescribed ceremonial procedure varies no whit in the
houses of the highest and the lowest. The moment the visitors to a
native house are seated, the guest of highest rank, or the one whom
it is desired especially to honour, is presented with three or four
pieces of dried kava. These he perfunctorily inspects, pronounces
prime, and tosses to the _taupo_--the official virgin of the village
whose duty it is to look after the entertainment of strangers--who
forthwith commences the preparation of the drink. It is at this
point in the original _kava_ ceremony that the _taupo_ proceeded
to masticate the bits of root and stem to a proper consistency to be
dissolved in water, but this part of the "recipe" is no longer followed
amongst the enlightened natives of the coastal villages, to whom the
risks of spreading infection by such a practice have been thoroughly
brought home. It is customary now to grind the root to a powder
between two flat stones, although on two or three occasions I have
seen ordinary perforated graters used. When thoroughly reduced,
the pulverized root is thrown into the _kava_ bowl and covered
with cold water from a calabash which is held ready by one of the
handmaidens.

The _kava_ bowl is an important factor in the ceremony. It is hewn
from a single piece of wood, and is usually between eighteen inches
and three feet in diameter and from three to five inches deep. It
preserves its equilibrium with the aid of a periphery of legs running
around the outside, these varying in number from four on a small bowl
belonging to a person of no especial consequence to ten on the bowl
of a chief. They are made on the island of Savaii, there being no trees
of a suitable nature on any of the other islands of the group. Just as a
pipe gathers "colour" from smoking, so does a _kava_ bowl accumulate
a rich layer of golden enamel through frequent use. A deeply enameled
bowl, on account of the traditions associated with it, is almost
priceless. The true _kava_ bowl is severely plain and unornamented; a
carved or "beaded" border is a sure sign of manufacture for the tourist
trade.

When there is sufficient water in the bowl to make enough drink for all
present, the _taupo_ dips in with both hands and begins squeezing the
ground _kava_ through her fingers in order that all of the strength
will pass into solution. This operation continues until the floating
particles are tasteless when dabbed on the tip of the tongue of the
_taupo_, who then proceeds with the straining. This is accomplished
with the aid of a sheaf of fibre from the inner bark of the hibiscus
tree, called a _fau_. This contrivance, which is very similar in form
to that invaluable aid-to-beauty called a "switch," though somewhat
complicated to manipulate, seems to accomplish its purpose very
thoroughly. The fibres are swept around the surface of the liquid in
the bowl and brought down from all sides at once to a bunch at the
deepest point, where it is folded over onto itself in such a manner as
to gather and hold all of the root particles with which it comes in
contact. After the liquid is squeezed back into the bowl, the _fau_
is passed by the _taupo_ to an attendant who shakes out the fibre
with a single quick flirt under a raised coco-leaf curtain. Three or
four repetitions of this operation clear the liquid in the bowl, and
after giving the _fau_ a final shake--a sinuous spiral swish above her
head--the _taupo_ casts it aside and informs the host that the _kava_
is ready.

Upon this announcement the host passes the news on to the guests by
striking the palms of his hands together with a long stiff-armed swing.
This is at once taken up by every one in the house, and for a few
moments there is a round of dignified and somewhat perfunctory
clapping. Then the _Tulafele_ or "Talking Chief," who acts as a sort of
toast-master, launches into a flowery speech extolling the virtues of the
guests, which he concludes by calling for an _epu_ of _kava_ for the
visitor first in rank. The _epu_, a cup made of the half of a coconut
shell, is then held over the bowl by the head handmaiden, whose duty
it is to act as cup-bearer. The _taupo_ takes up the _fau_ with another
flourish, sops it into the _kava_ and squeezes out the saturated fibres
over the waiting _epu_. Holding this head high, the bearer advances
across the mats to the personage designated by the _tulafele_ and puts
it, with a scooping gesture, into his hand. As the proffered cup is
accepted, she steps backward to her original station beside the _taupo_.

The guest, on receiving the _kava_, bows to the Chief and other
dignitaries, and, with the word "_man'uia_,"--the equivalent of
"To your health"--drinks it at a single draught. The _epu_ is then
returned to the bearer by spinning it across the mat to her feet.
The _Tulafele_ now calls the name of the guest next in rank, and the
ceremony is repeated, this continuing until all have been served.
There are no "second helpings."

The genealogy and rank of all Samoans are so well known that,
amongst themselves, there is no question in determining the order of
precedence in drinking. With foreigners present, however, the matter
of rank is a complicated one. Unless a native of supreme rank, like
Maatafa of Apia, who was nearer our idea of a king than any other
Samoan, is to be served, it is customary to offer the first drink of
_kava_ to the most distinguished of the visitors, the next to the
highest chief, the next to the second most important visitor, and so
by alternation. When the almost sacred Mataafa was present, however,
etiquette required that he be served first, and always from his own
special _epu_, out of which no other was ever allowed to drink.

The hitting off of the correct order of foreign visitors, especially
where several different nationalities are present, is a trying task
for the _tulafale_, and, except on very formal occasions where inquiry
is made beforehand, many amusing "reversals" occur. Several times,
probably because I happened to bulk somewhat more largely against
the sky-line--the Samoan, unless he stops to think, is almost sure to
place brawn before brain--I was presented with the initial _epu_ of
_kava_ in advance of the Commodore, and at one informal little party
the both of us were passed over in favour of our gigantic bo'sun, Gus,
who, with the easy, indolent assurance of the Viking from whom he was
descended, was leaning against the post of the house, a passive
spectator. On this, as on all other occasions, however, the Commodore
and I had the consolation of being served before the Mater and Claribel.
The Samoan is not exactly a Turk in the matter of women, but he takes
care that they never stand in his own light.

The _tulafale_ never calls a guest by his name in designating him for a
drink of _kava_, but by some euphemistic appellation that is intended
to be, and usually is, complimentary. The Commodore was always some
variation of "The Great One Who Comes in His Own Ship." The Mater
was usually something akin to "The Bright New Moon of the Great One,"
but once, when we brought her in to a _talolo_ at Apia after a stormy
passage from Tutuila, she displayed so much individuality as to inspire
the observant _tulafale_ to bestow a title all her own. "Take the _kava_
to 'The Beautiful One Who is Sad Because of the Rocking of the Boat,'"
ordered that autocrat of the _epu_, the translation of which so tickled
the risibilities of the ever-resilient Mater that the look of sadness
passed and the title lost its point forthwith. Claribel drew down an
assorted lot of titles, among them being "The Watchful One," "The
White _Taupo_" and, one day when she was wearing her _pince nez_,
"The Four-Eyed One."

Whenever the Commodore was present--except on the two or three
occasions when they mixed us up and served me first--I was always
hailed as some kind of satellite of the "Great One." When appearing
independently I was served under a number of nondescript titles, the
most notable among which was one bestowed at a small village on the
leeward side of Tutuila which I visited with my friend, Judge Gurr. The
first cup on this occasion was presented to the Judge, the second to
the village chief, and as the third was filled the single magic word,
"Tusitala!" fell from the lips of the "Master of Ceremonies."

"A cup to the memory of the beloved Stevenson!" I told myself, a
possible explanation of which flashed to my mind with the dawning
recollection that the village, Fauga-sa, under a slightly altered name,
had figured as the scene of one of the novelist's best stories. Athrill
with interest, I waited expectantly, keen on missing no detail of the
pretty observance, when, lo!--the brown Hebe of the _kava_ cup came
mincing across the mat and, with a sweep and flourish of her graceful
arm, held the _epu_ poised in front of my vacantly grinning face.

'"What's this for? Do they take me for a reincarnation of Stevenson?" I
cried excitedly to the Judge, quite forgetting in the excitement of the
moment what the etiquette of the occasion demanded.

"Drink the _kava_!" he admonished in an anxious undertone, not a little
embarrassed by so flagrant a _faux pas_ on the part of one for whom he
was standing sponsor; "I'll explain in a moment."

I drained the coco shell of its spicy contents at a gulp, twirled it
back to the _taupo_, and, as the latter began filling it for the next
drink, turned inquiringly to my companion.

"No, they didn't confuse you with Stevenson," said the Judge dryly.
"I merely explained to the _tulafale_, when he asked, that you were a
scribbler of sorts, and because the nearest equivalent to that in the
Samoan language is a 'Teller of Tales,' he hailed you as _Tusitala_
when your turn for the _kava_ arrived."

       *       *       *       *       *

Every Samoan child begins to practise some of the simpler _sivas_ as
soon as it is old enough to notice what is going on about it, and
although only the _taupos_ and their maids are schooled in the more
intricate movements of the dance, the girls of almost any household can
furnish a very diverting evening's entertainment on a moment's notice.
For these to refuse to dance for a stranger, even a passing wayfarer
who has dropped in for an hour's rest, would be as bad as refusing him
a drink of _kava_, and that is unthinkable. _Kava_ and the _siva_ are
the Samoans' symbols of hospitality, from the lowest to the highest.

The beautiful symmetry of development which characterizes all Samoan
girls--and especially the _taupos_--is due to the fact that their only
exercises are dancing, walking, swimming and paddling, in all of which
the muscles are used in long, easy, sweeping movements. In no Samoan
dance is there anything comparable to the stiff-muscled toe-work and
the frozen posturing of the modern French ballet, nor yet anything
similar to the frenzied acrobatics of the Russian. There is abandon at
times--reeling, rollicking, riotous abandon--but the motion of it flows
and undulates and ripples in fluent rhythm like the current of a swift
but unbroken river rapid. Who has not seen the _siva_ has not realized
the full meaning of the expressions "Poetry of Motion" and "Enchantment
of Gesture." The grace of it is so complete, so perfect, so satisfying,
that one cannot but feel that the Samoan, having failed to develop the
arts of painting and sculpture, has concentrated all of his being in
expressing his soul through his body.

The _siva_ is natural because it expresses things that are natural. The
heave of the sea, the rush of the surf, the rocking of a canoe, the
swaying of the trees, the ripple of a stream, the movements of swimming
and paddling and the ecstasies of love, all of which are reflected in
the _siva_, are things of the dancers' daily life. The gyrations of the
_première danseuse_ on the tips of her toes suggests nothing of heaven
or earth, but because the Samoan has taken his inspiration from himself
and his surroundings, his dances are beautiful and normal. And as the
dance, so the dancer. Because the movements of the _siva_ are natural,
the body of the _taupo_ is natural. She is one fluent ripple of lithe
flexibility from toe-tip to finger-tip, with no suggestions of the
knotted muscles which disfigure the back and legs of a ballet dancer.

On the occasion of great feasts or celebrations, where large crowds
are present, it is customary to dance the _siva_ out-of-doors and in
the daytime. The performers at such times are usually numerous and as
spectacles the dances are, perhaps, more striking than the in-door
_sivas_. This does not compensate, however, for the fact that most of
the seductive charm of movement is lost in the glare of the sunlight,
for what in the flickering torch or lamp-light is subtle allurement, in
the daytime becomes bald suggestion. To catch the spirit of the _siva_,
then, one should see it by torchlight or moonlight, or in a blending of
them both.

On formal occasions the _siva_ is danced at the conclusion of the
_kava_ ceremony. At these times there is usually a battery of
deep-toned wooden drums provided, and to the pulsing throb of these
and the sounding slaps of open palms upon bare thighs, the _siva_
begins. The opening number is almost invariably a "sitting-down" dance,
which is led by the _taupo_ with a flanking of three or four of her maids
on either side. For the first few moments it strikes you only as queer,
the odd posturing of the garlanded, cross-legged figures, with their
weavings and inter-weavings of arms and the rhythmic writhings of
the glistening brown bodies. But presently it is as though the pulse
of your being is beginning to beat to the throb of the drumming, and
there comes a feeling of having breathed the seductive atmosphere of
oil-steeped gardenia blossoms since the dawn of time. Unconsciously
your hands begin striking upon your not unresponsive duck-clad thighs
in unison with the blows of your neighbours, instinctively you try to
blend your tremulous hum with their chesty chanting, and presently
you have caught the spirit of the _siva_, and begin to yield yourself to,
then to delight in, and finally to exult in its subtle seductions.

Then you realize that every muscle, every fibre, every nerve, every
drop of blood in the gleaming red-bronze figure in the penumbra of the
lamp glow is dancing. Then you know that the pirouette of that shapely
chorus lady who entranced you so that last night at the Winter Garden
was only a kick, a thrusting out of a snugly-stockinged, well-turned
calf. But here where a member is moved it is dancing on its own account
as it goes; there is motion within motion, and still more motion within
that motion. Those gently swaying knees are only beating time to the
throb of the drums, but in that rippling run of plastic muscles beneath
the glistening skin there is a message that not the sprightliest and
plumpest of Broadway favourites could kick across the foot-lights in a
whole evening.

But the "sitting" _sivas_ are essentially dances of the arms; and never
were seen such arms as in Samoa. Plump without being fat, muscled
without being muscular, all contour, softness and dimples, no fitter
or fairer instruments of physical expression were ever fashioned. The
_taupo_ takes the lead and her motions are followed by the others as
though reflected in mirrors. Now the arms are fluttering out to one
side like twin streamers whipping in the wind, now they are pressed
close together along the side as though wielding a paddle, now they
are upraised as in supplication, now opened in invitation, now thrown
out in rebuff. The firmly-moulded breasts twinkle out and disappear
again behind the swishing flower garlands and the froth of flying arms.

[Illustration: THE SITTING _Sivas_ ARE ESSENTIALLY DANCES
 OF THE ARMS]

[Illustration: "NEVER WERE SEEN SUCH ARMS AS IN SAMOA"]

The lamp glow flashes on the glistening undulant bodies, high-light and
shadow playing hide-and-seek in the dimples of cheek and shoulder and
bosom as they bend and sway to the drone of the drums. Swift lances
of light dart across thigh and shoulder, fluttering pennons of light
streak down the tremulous arms, coruscant streamers of light shimmer
along the lacquered leaves of the garlands. It is a poem of light and
motion, the incarnation of a transcript from a volume of ancient verse.

Describe the _siva_! Not till I've proved my right to attempt it by
painting the lily and gilding refinéd gold. It is a perfect thing of
its kind, and that is enough to know.

So far as I know the Samoans do not attempt anything in the way of
mimetic dances on the elaborate scale of those I have described as
"staged" in the ancient crater in Tahiti. They do, however, have dances
descriptive of harvesting coconuts, canoe races and swimming, while
"duel" dances, in which the performers go through the motions of combat
with native war knives, are features of nearly every _siva_. The Samoan
is no less ready than the Tahitian to take advantage of the theatric
effects at his disposal, and in the "standing" dances no _taupo_ ever
fails to make the most of the allurement of flitting in and out of
patches of moonlight or torchlight and piquing the interest of the
audience by pretending to reveal more of her charms when sheltered by
the translucent curtain of the shadows.

My one most haunting memory of South Sea dancing is of the
"swimming" _siva_ as performed by a tantalizing minx of a _taupo_ in
the ghostly half-light of a grotto on the leeward shore of Tutuila. With
a single native boy to act as guide and interpreter, I was proceeding by
canoe and on foot from Judge Gurr's plantation at Mala-toa to Leone,
on the opposite side of the island, to witness a game of native cricket.
Wet, cramped and tired from three hours of steady bailing with my
camera case in a dilapidated "outrigger" which had threatened to
disintegrate at every lurch, we landed late in the afternoon at a tiny
hamlet near the west end of the island and sought the Chief's house
for rest and refreshment. Adept in the art of reviving flagging warriors,
an elderly dame--the duenna of the _taupo_--took my tired head in her
motherly lap after the native custom, made a few passes along neck
and shoulder muscles with her soft magnetic fingers, and I dropped off
into a deep sleep which was not broken till a round of clapping
announced that _kava_ was ready. I had heard of the magic of
_loma-loma_ in Hawaii, but this was my first opportunity to verify the
claim that an hour of sleep induced by it was equal to an ordinary
night's rest.

Feeling refreshed and fit but still drowsy, I called to Tofa to put
my things together and get ready to take the road to Leone as soon
as the _kava_ drinking was over, hoping by a prompt start to avoid
being caught in the bush after nightfall. The boy heard, but did not
move from his Buddha-like pose against the rose-violet flare of the
sunset.

"Fanua say that she will make swimmin' _siva-siva_ on beach by'n'by if
you stop tonight," he remarked inconsequentially, with his eyes fixed
dreamily where the distant peaks of Upolou were thinning in the
evening haze. "Fanua ver' fine gal."

"Who's Fanua?" I queried sleepily, beginning to drowse again as the
magic fingers renewed their caressing pressure on my brow.

"Fanua _taupo_ this villige. Ver' fine gal," Tofa replied, with the
suspicion of a smile lurking at the corners of his handsome month.

My sleepy gaze wandered across to the mistress of the _kava_ bowl.
Surely that was not a "ver' fine gal," I told myself. I blinked and
looked again. She was middle-aged and fat. Then I rubbed my eyes hard
and tried to recall where I had seen that broad, good-natured face
before. Ah--the duenna whose lap held my head when I dropped off to
sleep! But how could that be when her lap was still under my head and
her fingers stroking my temples? Perhaps she had a twin. I gave my eyes
a final dig and turned them upwards. A lady's lap is not the point of
vantage that a connoisseur would choose from which to get the most
favourable view of her face, but--yes, Tofa undoubtedly was right.
Fanua was certainly a "ver' fine gal," quite the finest I had seen in
all these "Isles of Fair Women."

"We will start for Leone at sunrise," I directed Tofa, and sat up and
emptied the proffered _kava_ cup according to the dictates of Samoan
etiquette.

It seems that the duty of _loma-loma_-ing the brows of tired
wayfarers is a duty of the _taupo_ which takes precedence even of
_kava_-making, so that on the arrival of the hastily-summoned
Fanua--I being then asleep--the transfer of laps was made, the
duenna substituting as drink-mixer.

We pooled the contents of my knapsack and the chiefly larder and
dined sumptuously on canned salmon, breadfruit-_pate-de-foie-gras_
sandwiches, boiled taro, shrimps and bananas. This over, we smoked
cigarettes--mine, all of a three-day supply--and when darkness had
fallen, guided by a hunchback with a torch, set out for the dancing
place by the sea. We did not stop on the smooth crescent of beach, as
I had anticipated, but continued along to where it joined a cliffy
promontory and gave way to a jumble of crags and rocks, against
which dashed the full force of a tumultuous surf.

The night was starry but moonless. By the light of the sputtering
candle-nut brand in the hand of the dwarf and an occasional spurt of
phosphorescence from a shattering wave, we followed the well-worn
path up among the crags to where it seemed to come to an end at an
opening in the rock scarcely larger than the man-hole of an underground
conduit. The hollow mutter of the sea welled up from the cavernous
depths, but without pausing the hunchback dropped confidently in,
showering his knotted bronze shoulders with sparks in the quick
descent. Just long enough for me to clamber down beside him he held
the torch, then sent it spinning, trailed by a comet-like wake of
embers, over a ledge to be doused in the water which plashed below. In
Stygian darkness, I was listening to the soft thuds of the feet of my
companions as, one by one, they dropped down from above, when
suddenly there came a crash against the seaward side of the grotto,
a swirling rush of phosphorescent water rushed in and, against the
fluttering waves of blue-green light that played upon the rocky walls,
appeared the lithe brown body of Fanua weaving in the undulating
sinuosities of the "swimming" _siva_.

I had just time to note that the lovely little _taupo_, unadorned
by official head-dress or garlands, was dancing only in a scant
_lava-lava_ of _tappa_ which encircled her waist in a precarious
fringe, when the light died down and the swimming _siva_ became for
the moment a dusky silhouette against the jagged patch of star-studded
purple which marked the seaward opening of the grotto. Then a soft
hand sought mine and I was led through the darkness to where a thick
stack of smooth mats had been piled, upon which the members of our
little party were beginning to settle at their ease. As I lounged back
luxuriously upon the springy pandanus, Tofa came wriggling in on one
side to "make talk" for me, as he explained, while on the other gentle
fingers--the mates of the guiding ones that still held my right hand
in their unrelinquishing clasp--patted my cheek to soft and iterated
murmurs of "_alofa oi_," "I like you."

"Tell the young lady on my right," I began to Tofa--and then, all
unheralded, the wonder befell.

Fanua was still swimming in graceful pantomime across the purple
star-patch, when a crash louder than the previous one sounded against
the outer wall and the mouth of the opening was blotted by the
advancing wave. Again came the flutters of tremulous light upon the
dark walls, quickly to be followed by a deep-mouthed gurgling growl
from immediately beneath the ledge on which we reclined. Then there
was a quick rush of damp air in the grotto, and, with a great "whouf!"
a bright fountain of phosphorescent spray was projected from a small
hole in the rocky floor immediately in front of the swaying _taupo_.

Evidently this phenomenon, which occurred only with the largest
waves, had been awaited by both audience and dancer. Rhythmic smiting
of thighs began as the growls broke out below, and to this, and the
beating of a drum improvised from a rolled mat, Fanua leapt into the
jet of spouting golden mist and, for the four or five seconds during
which it played, lashed out in that climacteric movement of the
swimming _siva_ in which the dancer is supposed to be riding the crest
of a rushing comber. Flailing arms and flying hair represented the
eddying foam, while quick, jerking forward movements of the shoulders
gave the suggestion of impulse to a body that never moved from the
heart of the floating cloud of luminous mist. One supreme flutter of
tremulous movement, rippling up from the toes and running out at the
finger tips as a series of waves of motion pulse down a shaken rope,
told that the swimmer had slid from her wave-crest to the waters of the
still lagoon. The jet died down as the pressure from below was released
by the receding wave, but the swaying body, lined with glittering
runlets of pale phosphorescence, continued to vibrate in silhouette
across the star-gleams shot from the patch of heavens beyond the
grotto's seaward mouth.

The jet of spray was due to the presence of a "blow-hole" in the
grotto. Under the ledge which we occupied was another cave--a cavern
within a cavern--and when the latter was filled by the wash from a
wave the compressed air forced a jet of spume up through the small
vent opening into the main grotto. The unusual brightness of the
luminous fountain was due, doubtless, partly to the darkness and
partly to the fact that a heavy scum of phosphorescence had
accumulated in the lower cavern.

[Illustration: FANUA, WHO DANCED THE SWIMMING _Siva_
BY THE LIGHT OF THE PHOSPHORESCENT WAVES]

[Illustration: DANCER WITH HEAD KNIFE]

Fanua reeled on through some of the quieter movements of the swimming
_siva_ in the weird blue-green glow of the half-dozen waves that came
before another one big enough to start the "blow-hole" spouting arrived
again. As the latter gave its premonitory growl, the shadow of a second
figure appeared beside her and Tofa announced that "Fanua now dance
'Shark-he-chase-her' _siva-siva_."

Into the jet of golden mist launched "shark" and "swimmer" as the
fountain began to play, weaving about each other in the movements of
flight and pursuit. The "shark" darted and dashed and strove to seize,
and the "swimmer" ducked and doubled and eluded, all within the circle
of the drifting particles of glowing spray. Under, over and around each
other they floated like frightened gold-fish in a globe, arms, legs
and bodies weaving evanescent webs of shimmering brightness but never
seeming to touch. Till the last luminous puff from the "blow-hole" they
danced thus, and then, as the flickering jet died low, there came a
ringing shriek, the lambent light streaks of the reeling bodies seemed
to meet and mingle, and--whether by accident or intent I could not
tell--went plunging over the ledge into the receding welter of light
below.

My gasp of consternation was not echoed by the rest of the company.
Most of them were laughing and chattering as though the "plunge to the
depths" was the regular finale, and Tofa seemed to think that his laconic
comment of "He shark he take her," was all that the occasion called for.
And so it proved. Before another jet had spouted there came two soft
thuds on the floor of the ledge, while a ripple of silvery laughter and a
shower of dewy drops from a couple of vigorously shaken heads told
that "shark" and "swimmer," having circled around through the surf to
the beach and dropped down to the grotto through the back entrance,
were waiting for the cavernous growl from beneath to sound the cue
for the next number.

       *       *       *       *       *

As in its sister dance, the _hula_, there always comes a stage in
the _siva_ which is not subject to the restraining influence of the
presence of dignitaries, where even impressionistic description must
cease, so on this occasion I have deemed it meet that the "dead-line"
should be drawn at the finale of the "Shark-he-chase-her" number. I
trust I have recorded enough, however, to make it clear that Tofa's
suggestion to stay over and see that "ver' fine gal," Fanua, dance the
swimming _siva_ was not an unwarranted one.



CHAPTER XVI

PAGO PAGO TO SUVA


We sailed from Pago Pago for Fiji on the afternoon of June 18th. Just
as the anchor had been catted and the yacht was filling away on her
first tack a madly paddled canoe shot alongside and a letter was thrown
aboard. It was addressed only to the "Yotta," no individual being
specified, and ran as follows:

     "_Talofa. My love to you. Please send me one bicycle._"

It was signed by one of the handmaidens of Seuka, the _taupo_ of Pago
Pago. For a simple, direct appeal this struck me as coming pretty near
the record, and it is a pleasure to relate that, six months later, it
met with a deserved reward. There are several ways to reach it, but no
smoother road to the South Sea maiden's heart than the "bicycle path."

As we stood in past the _Adams_ a crowd of our native friends on the
dock began singing the plaintive half Samoan, half English farewell
song, "_Tuta-pai, mai feleni_"--("Good-bye, my Friend") and the oft
repeated refrain, "O Ai neppa will fa-get you," followed us till the
yacht passed out of hearing around the point. The kindliest, handsomest
and most amiable people in all the South Pacific, these Samoans.

It was our hope to put up a new record for the Samoa-Fiji run, as we
had done for that from the Marquesas to Tahiti, but the flukiness of
the wind, which became apparent as soon as we were clear of the
harbour, held out little promise of success. The air was abnormally
clear and the sky, unusually deep and rich in colour, hardly flecked by
a cloud. The sea, owing to the veering tendency of the wind, was light
and even. The wind was blowing fitfully from its regular quarter, E.S.E.,
when we came out in the early afternoon, but shortly began coming in
puffs from due east. Then it blew slightly more southerly for a half
hour, before hauling up to E.N.E., and so all afternoon, as a tide creeps
foot by foot up a beach, it kept chopping around to the north. By dark it
had worked on to N.N.W., and was blowing, not steadily, but in jerky
puffs of ominous import.

The sunset that evening was a sinister thing of red and black. The
sun, glowing like a huge coal, dropped down behind the southwest end
of Tutuila just as the veering wind drove up a bank of sooty clouds
from the lee of the island and began blowing it to pieces. The clouds
tore up into inky strips, darkly opaque, like the bars of a grate, and
between the bars, sullenly, murkily, hotly red, the unobscured sky
glowed like the inside of a furnace. For the space of a minute, or two,
or three, this held, with its magnified reflection upon the indolently
heaving sea showing in alternate welts of glimmering purple and _sang
du boeuf_; then a new flight of cloud hove up from the lee of the
island and, as a closed door quenches the light of a furnace, hid the
fire of the west behind its impenetrable pall. The mate characterized
it politely to the ladies as an "angry sunset," and then went forward and
alluded to it in mixed but forceful metaphor as "bloody murder swingin'
on the hinges o' hell."

An insufferably hot and stuffy night gave way to an equally unpleasant
day. The sea was oily smooth, the sky overcast with a dull, translucent
film of cloud, and the sun, heavily ringed, grew increasingly dimmer as
the greyness thickened overhead. The run to noon from three P. M. of
the 18th was an even hundred miles.

The wind, still from the northwest, increased steadily as the afternoon
lengthened, the yacht, under all-plain sail, driving along at close to
nine knots an hour. About four o'clock, while still making fast time,
she struck a large floating log--apparently a bread-fruit trunk--which
gouged a long gash on her starboard side as she sped past it. The blow
was a glancing one and nothing but the paint was damaged, though the
consequences might have been really serious had the point of impact
been twenty feet farther forward.

The sun went out behind a horizon of dull, black mud, and through
the greasy dusk that was settling over the sea the wind came pouring
out of the west with constantly accelerating force. Overhead, the
clouds--mostly detached blotches of cumulo-nimbus--surged about in
seeming aimlessness, those of the lower air scurrying away before
the northwest wind that drove the yacht along, while, a couple of
thousand feet or so higher, a counter current of great force from
the southwest was ripping to pieces the vaporous masses of the upper
heavens and stringing them out in long lines like the wake of a fleet
of ferryboats. In the intermediate levels stray mavericks of cloud were
pivoting about like prairie cattle milling in a blizzard. The sea, owing
to the tendency of the wind to continue hauling westerly, was not
running heavily as yet, but a barometer at 29.70--24 points drop in 27
hours--and the ominous aspect of the heavens gave fair warning that it
was not the explosive broadside of a passing squall that was to be
encountered this time, but the sustained bombardment of a real storm.

We were still a couple of months away from the so-called hurricane
season, but hurricanes--like nuggets in the prospector's proverb--are
where you find them, and it was on record that they had occurred
in the southwest Pacific every month of the year. At any rate, the
time for preparation for weather of some kind was plainly at hand,
beginning with an immediate and expeditious shortening of canvas. No
halfway measures to tide over a few hours' blow were resorted to.
The maintopmast staysail was taken in and the lower sail reduced
to double-reefed foresail, triple-reefed mainsail and reefed and
unbonneted forestay-sail. Extra lashings were thrown on boats,
water-butts, spars and other movables, and the skylights were closed
and battened with planks to protect from waves that might break
inboard.

Things were snugged up just in time, for at eight o'clock, to the
accompaniment of a tenth more drop in the barometer, the storm
broke fiercely in a heavy squall of rain; the next thirty-six hours were
crowded full of education in the ways of a South Pacific gale. The
after leach of the foresail carried away at nine o'clock and for some
minutes the flogging canvas played a lively game of crack-the-whip
with the sailors who were trying to smother it. Soon the effect of the
wind began to show upon the sea, and all through the night the
increasing force of the staggering blows upon the weather bow and
the Maxim-like rattle of driven spray upon the sails told of steadily
mounting waves. Rain kept pouring in heavy squalls, the fierce
blasts serving to beat flat for brief spaces the rising swells, but only
to release them to more furious onslaughts the moment the
compressed-air buffers of the wind rolled on ahead.

At midnight the barometer was down to 28.50, after reading which the
mate came on deck complaining that some one had knocked the bottom
out of it. The yacht was behaving splendidly, and, except for the threat
in the rapid falling of the barometer, our only serious worry was on
account of the uncomfortable proximity of the extensive Curacao Reef
and Shoals. We were chopping along on a W.S.W. course, which, allowing
for a reasonable leeway, we reckoned would carry us a good ten miles
to the windward of the danger point. Nevertheless, remembering our
experience with Bellinghausen Island, a sharp watch was kept to leeward
until morning.

Daylight broke from the southeast through an infernal cloud-shoal of
copper and sulphur and tallow and olive upon a desolation of wallowing
snow-capped mountain peaks. The wind, which the previous afternoon had
been blowing with a force of less than "5" in the Beaufort Scale, had
held from the same quarter all night and was now hurtling down on us at
near "9." Seas, confounding in height, steep and sharp-crested, with
hollow green sides and black, swollen bases, came charging down from
the west in broken-ranked stampede. The yacht, under the scanty canvas
still on her, was wonderfully buoyant, rising and falling to the waves
like an empty biscuit tin, her comparatively short length giving her an
advantage in recovering from a dive into the depths in time to meet the
lift of the coming wave that would not have been shared by a larger ship.
The decks were repeatedly swept by the last yard or two of a sharp crest
that she could not quite surmount, but not once did she put her bowsprit
into green water when she had not pulled up to an angle that allowed her
to shake free from the ensuing deluge in time to meet the next wave.

The leaps from hollows to crests, and from crests back to hollows, were
positively appalling in the contrasts of the sudden transitions. Up out
of the fog of foam in the trough the yacht would stagger, and not until
she stabbed the curling crest and began teetering undecidedly on the
ridge would the wind that had been shrieking in the upper rigging have
a chance to strike the hull. Then it came all at once, a palpably solid
block of air, and no man could stand against it on the open deck. An
instant more, and it was as though the world was falling away beneath
her, and down, down, down she would go until one stirred and glanced
at his neighbour and set himself for the jar of the keel against the
bottom of the sea.

It was those age-long moments in the hollows, with half the weather sky
and all the wind cut off, with the eyes blinded and the throat choked
with spume, with the ears deafened with the thunderous volleys of the
flapping sails, and in the heart the vague and ever-haunting dread that
the next wave would be the one to break, the one against which the
yacht's seaworthiness and the helmsman's cunning would alike be of no
avail, that were the hardest to endure. The trough of the sea in a big
storm is the nearest thing to primal chaos that can be experienced in
this age of the world; only one must be in a small craft to get the full
benefit of it. Apropos of which it may be of interest to note here that
at this very time, 500 miles to the northeast, our friend McGrath, the
trader of Nukahiva, who had been cast away from the Marquesas some
weeks previously, was fighting through this same storm in a thirty-foot
open boat in a desperate effort to make the harbour of Pago Pago.

The Commodore had just come on deck at seven o'clock with the
disconcerting news that the barometer was down to 28.30 and still
falling, when the lookout threw a bombshell on his own account into
the cockpit by a half-articulate, wind-choked hail to the effect that
he had sighted land abeam to lee. No one said anything as the yacht
began to climb the next wave, but "Drifting on Curacao Reef" was
written plain on every face; the angling slant of our quickly-quenched
wake told only too plainly of the fearful leeway we were making. Each
clawing the salt dust from his eyes with one hand, clutching a shroud
or halyard with the other, and bracing mightily against the wind, we
waited for the view to open up to leeward as the schooner reached the
ridge of the soaring sea up which she struggled, to behold with untold
relief, not the imminent and unending line of great breakers on a
coral reef which we had expected, but a black triangle of rock, fully
twenty miles distant, standing sharp and clear as the Cheop's Pyramid
against the grey sky.

"Boscawen Island; barren rock, 2,000 feet high," quoted the Commodore
from the Directory; to add, with renewed excitement, "But if that's
Boscawen Island, then where in the name of--Neptune--is the Curacao
Reef and Shoals?" Then, his eyes turning to the windward horizon in a
puzzled search as the yacht topped the next wave, "We must have drifted
right across them if the chart is right!"

We watched for an hour for the phantom reef with no result. There was
little left to worry about on the score of danger, as we were well to
the lee of the points dotted out as shoal on the chart, while in our
own lee the sea stretched clear and open to Boscawen and beyond; but
the manner of the mystery of this piece of marine legerdemain was--or
would have been at a time when there was less to think about--an
absorbing problem. Certain it was that our leeway was proving greater
than our headway; also that, irrespective of the correctness of our
reckoning of the day before, the yacht could not have reached the
position she was in without drifting squarely across some portion of
either the reef or shoal as they were charted. As sailing over the reef
was impossible, and over the shoal, at least unknowingly, improbable,
we were left to the conclusion that, notwithstanding the fact that
neither is marked "P.D.," ("Position Doubtful,") both are incorrectly
located on the chart. Outside of the half-dozen archipelagoes most
navigated, chart errors in the South Pacific are by no means uncommon.

At eleven o'clock in the forenoon, with the barometer at 28.20, the
wind, blowing more furiously than ever, hauled suddenly to S.S.W. At
11.45 the forestay-sail carried away, and, with every fresh blast
threatening to strip off the remaining canvas, it did not take long to
arrive at the conclusion that we were approaching, rather than getting
away from, the centre of disturbance. Whether we had a fully developed
hurricane to contend with, or, as was quite possible, a "southwester"
of unusual violence, we could not definitely determine. The sinister
sky, the low barometer, and the action of the wind up to that time
all said "Hurricane"; the season, and the fact that the wind showed a
tendency to continue from the Fiji quarter, indicated the "Southwester."

Assuming at the time, therefore, that we were boring into a hurricane
whose centre was to the S.S.W., the Commodore made up his mind to hurry
away from that centre as expeditiously as possible. Accordingly, after
a new forestay-sail had, with considerable difficulty, been bent in the
place of the one carried away, all the rest of the canvas was taken
off the yacht and, under that sail alone, she was put on the port tack
before the wind.

All that afternoon _Lurline_ ran like a frightened deer, with the
waves, like hounds, coming up on her trail and snapping viciously at
her flanks as they rushed by. Time and again the helmsman, grinding the
wheel hard up to keep her before the wind, would glance with the tail
of his eye at a foam-splotched wall of green that blotted out the sky
astern, to hunch his shoulders and grip his spokes the tighter, waiting
with tensed muscles and set face the blow that menaced from above;
time and again, yawing desperately as the tail of a galloping sea gave
her nose a tweak, the yacht would seem on the point of broaching right
under the hollow wall of the comber next in line; time and again--to lee
on the windswept crests and to weather in the cross-gusts of the
hollows--she would roll a rail deep under and dip up a deckful of solid
water from which she could never quite clear herself before another
came sousing aboard from the other side: and through it all nothing of
serious moment happened.

Meanwhile active preparations for meeting the "worse to come" were
underway. A storm trysail was dug out from the obscurity of a musty
corner of the lazarette, spars were lashed up for a sea-anchor, bags
of oakum were soaked with oil and the life-boats provisioned and
watered. When there was nothing more to get ready some one looked at
the barometer to find--this was about four in the afternoon--that it
had risen twelve points since noon and was still displaying optimistic
tendencies.

As it was our intention to run only until the barometer began to rise,
all hands were promptly set to bending a new foresail in the place of
the one carried away the night before. When this was accomplished we
hove her to on the port tack under foresail, close-reefed, and the
forestay-sail that was already on her. After that, though the sea
continued to increase for some hours, she rode out the night with her
deck unswept by anything heavier than the driving spray.

All night the barometer mounted until, at daybreak of the 21st, 28.60
was passed, a juncture at which it was deemed safe to resolve the
unused sea-anchor into its component parts and stow the storm
trysail and oil bags against another storm. The wind blew fiercely from
the southwest all day, and not until midnight, when it began chopping
around toward the east, did the sea show any signs of falling. Then it
began smoothing rapidly, and by daybreak the yacht very comfortably
stood the addition of the close-reefed mainsail and jib.

At noon of the 22nd reefs were shaken out and all-plain sail carried
for the first time in four days. The barometer was by then up to
28.78, while the wind, blowing steadily from the southeast, enabled us
finally to get back on the Fiji course of S.W. by W. The unclouded sky
was a dome of cobalt again, and the sea, coldly green and laced with
streaks of foam, a rolling plain of furrowed jade; but in spite of fair
weather, the temperature of the air was away down to 74°, and the water
but four degrees warmer. The sea, under the influence of the veering
wind, continued to fall rapidly all afternoon. At six o'clock the lone
rock of Niuafou, the most northwesterly outpost of the Fijis, appeared
on the southern horizon, almost immediately to be swallowed up in the
gathering dusk.

By morning of the 23rd the wind was back in its regular quarter,
E.S.E., but blowing so gently that the yacht, though carrying most of
her light sails, could average no better than six or seven knots an
hour. The run to noon was 158 miles.

The lookout caught the flash of the Weilangilali Light at three o'clock
in the morning of the 24th, and by daylight we were well down the
Naniku Passage into the Fijis. The wind was light but steady, and the
scores of small, low islands to windward, cutting the swell almost
completely off, made splendid sailing. The flat horizon, unbroken save
by the blur of an occasional island, was a welcome relief from the
wave-crumpled skyline we had left behind in the open sea. The Fijian
Archipelago is a veritable nest of reefs, large and small, and islands,
both coral and volcanic, of every degree of magnitude. We picked up
island after island during the day, and at night they still continued
to push up ahead, grey banks of enchantment in the silver sea of the
moonlight.

Two of the curious rocks that we passed in the course of the day,
on account of their peculiar and distinctive outlines, are down on
the chart as Hat and Cap Island, respectively. This circumstance was
responsible for the following laconic entry in the frivolous "Ladies'
Log":

     "June 24th.--Passing Hat and Cap Islands caused quite a flutter in
     the bonnet of the forestay-sail."

The 180th meridian was passed early in the afternoon of the 24th, upon
which that day became immediately Saturday, the 25th. This made the
next day Sunday, which fact poor Clark, the cook, learned so tardily
that it was by only the maddest of efforts that the indispensable
"duff" was prepared in time for dinner.

The Trade-wind gave way to the cool land breeze from the big island of
Viti Levu in the early morning of the 26th. This, fresh with a welcome
earthy smell, coaxed the yacht gingerly along for several hours, only
to die out toward noon and leave her becalmed fifteen miles off Suva
entrance.

With every foot of sail spread to take advantage of the vagrant puffs
of wind that were coming occasionally from the north, the yacht had
shouldered along with the swells to within ten miles of the harbour,
when the pilot, coming off in answer to our signal, boarded us to say
that we might as well lower our sails and prepare to spend the night
where we were. Promising, in case the wind was blowing, to come off in
the morning and take us in, he bade us an officious good-bye, clambered
down into his boat and set his crew of convict rowers pulling back
to the land. Five minutes later the breeze freshened and the yacht,
slipping swiftly through the smooth water, passed the pilot's boat and
left it half a mile astern before we luffed up and waited for that
thoroughly discomfited functionary to come alongside and climb aboard.
An hour and a half later we had threaded the tortuous, buoy-marked
passage through the reef and come to anchor a cable's length off the
end of Suva pier.



CHAPTER XVII

IN SUVA AND MBAU


Generally speaking, the islands, both coral and volcanic, lying east of
the 180th Meridian in the Pacific are almost perfectly healthy, while
those to the west of it incline to the breeding of a number of more or
less virulent forms of malarial fevers, a circumstance principally due
to the fact that the eastern islands, as a rule, have better natural
drainage and are more exposed to the full sweep of the Trade-wind. The
big island of Viti Levu, the seat of British government in Fiji, is not
an exception to this rule. It is beautiful in spots, even attaining
to real scenic grandeur among the high mountains of the interior;
but its coast is a monotonous succession of intricate barrier reefs
and mangrove swamps. Suva is, perhaps, the best location available
for a capital under the circumstances, but the town in the hands of
almost any other nation than the British would be a fearful pest-hole.
As it is, strict attention to drainage and sanitation has made it
comparatively healthy, though to no such degree as any of the capitals
east of the dividing meridian.

Fiji is the meeting and mingling point--the melting-pot--of the two
diverse races of the eastern and western islands of the South Pacific.
While probably of the same ethnic origin, the race which inhabits
the Hawaiian, Marquesan, Society, Tonga, Friendly, Samoan, and
other groups of the eastern division of the South Seas--the pure
Polynesian--is as different, mentally and physically, from the
Melanesian or Papuan type of the New Hebrides, Solomons, New
Britains and New Guinea as the Mongolian is from the Ethiopian.
Each race seems to reflect the physical environment in which it has
been cradled. The Polynesian--especially where he has been little
subject to Caucasian influence, as in Samoa--is as bright, attractive
and as fair to look upon as the islands of enchantment that give him
birth. The Melanesian--kinky-haired, black of skin, sullen and fierce
of disposition--is the incarnation of the fever-haunted mangrove glades
through which he leads his murderous forays. The Fijian, in whose
veins courses the blood of the two races, has certain of the physical
and mental qualities of both. Generally speaking, however, he seems
to have bred truer to his sinister Papuan forbears than to the
lightsome Polynesian. Magnificent physical specimen, clever builder
and brave warrior that he is, there is little in the Fijian of the frank,
kindly, open-heartedness which draws one so irresistibly under the
spell of the pure Polynesian. The enchantment and the glamour of the
South Seas--how often those words are on one's tongue in Samoa and
Tahiti!--like their salubrity, are confined to the east of the "Line of
Night and Day." Absorbingly interesting are the islands and the natives
of the western groups, but their appeal is to the head, not to the heart.

Forty years ago the Fijis were in a completer state of savagery than
are the New Hebrides and Solomons today. Every village was at war with
its neighbour, the victims falling in the tribal fights invariably
being eaten; war canoes were launched over human bodies as rollers, a
man's skull was placed at the base of every post of a new temple, while a
custom--not unlike the East Indian one of _suttee_--was responsible for
the strangling of all of a dead chief's widows to set their spirits free
to accompany him on his journey. Every party landing from foreign ships
had been attacked from the time of the early navigators. Among those
thus set upon were a number of American sailors who were killed and
eaten early in the last century, this incident being responsible for the
visit of the first Fijian to the United States, the hardened old
cannibal, Vendovi, who was brought by the corvette, _Vincennes_, to
Hampton Roads to stand trial for inciting the offence.

Most of the first missionaries who ventured into Fiji also went
into the cooking pots, and it was not until the early 7O's that
the Wesleyans, whose nerve must have equalled their faith, became
sufficiently well established to get the ear of King Thakambau. The
conversion of this powerful ruler soon followed, the first and most
important result of which being the ceding of the group--he had offered
it to the United States in 1869--to Great Britain. As a token of
his fealty Thakambau sent to Queen Victoria his favourite war club,
hitherto, as he naïvely put it, "the only law in Fiji." This club, with
the monarch's great _kava_ bowl, is preserved in the British Museum.

The Christianization and pacification of the Fijis went on side by
side, and within two decades there was a mission and a missionary in
every village of the group, while a white man's life was as safe in
the wilds of Vita Levu or Taviuni as in Sydney or London. For the last
twenty years the end of the missionaries' endeavour has been to bring
the somewhat precariously converted natives to a fuller comprehension
of the meaning of Christianity, while the government has built roads,
established a large and efficient native police force and encouraged
agriculture to such good effect that Fiji ranks second only to Hawaii
among the Pacific islands as a sugar producer and also figures
extensively as an exporter of copra and fruit.

[Illustration: FORTY YEARS AGO THE FIJIS WERE IN
A COMPLETE STATE OF SAVAGERY]

[Illustration: A FIJIAN HEAD HUNTING CANOE]

The transformation of the Fijis from cannibalism to a condition
of peacefulness and prosperity has been one of the most striking
achievements of its kind in the history of colonial endeavour. Just
how much of the credit is due to the missionary and how much to that
other quiet, unassuming bearer of the "White Man's Burden," the British
official, it would be hard to determine. Popularly, on account of the
spectacular nature of his early campaigns which culminated in the
conversion of the terrible Thakambau, the honours are given to the
missionary, which, like most popular verdicts, is not quite fair.

To the British colonial official--to any colonial official of the right
stamp--the patient coaxing of the

     "new-caught sullen peoples,
     Half-devil and half-child"

out of the darkness of their "loved Egyptian Night" is all in the
day's work. His maintenance in the field, however, is not dependent
upon funds raised by subscription, as in the case of the missionary,
and an appeal to popular sympathy is, therefore, unnecessary. For the
missionary, to whom the awakening of interest in his successes means
more money to carry on his work, publicity is only good business. It
is for this reason that the missionary, rather than the no less deserving
official, is associated in the popular mind with the reclamation of Fiji.
There is honour enough, and to spare, for both workers of the wonder
which has been wrought; but it is meet that the quiet, earnest,
intelligent efforts of the government official should not be overlooked.

The Fijian is too much of a Polynesian to take kindly to work under the
new régime, so that, with 100,000 or more of him sitting idly about
in the shade of the coco palms, it has been necessary to bring the
plantation labour from the New Hebrides, Solomons, New Guinea and
even British India. At first the blacks of the westerly islands,
recruited by more or less responsible agents who induced them to
contract to work for a term of years at so much a month, were the
mainstay of the plantations, but for the last twenty years the
industrious Hindu coolie, indentured at a wage equivalent to from
four to seven dollars a month, has been employed almost exclusively.
The passing of the Melanesian black on the plantations of Fiji and
Australia marks the finish of one of the most picturesque, if also one
of the cruelest, traffics in the history of the South Pacific, that of
"black-birding" or labour-recruiting.

Although the Insular Government makes a great point of maintaining all
the ancient tribal observances in its relations with the Fijians, not
many of the old customs and ceremonies have survived. Internecine wars
are, of course, things of the past, and even when a fight is started up
between a couple of mountain villages, it is the musket and not the war
club that decides with which party the honours shall rest. The _meke-meke_
or dance--especially that of the women--has not had the vitality to
survive the hostility of the missionaries, white and black, though on
great occasions, such as the wedding of a chief or a reception to the
Governor, some of the ancient war measures are trod by a squad of men. It
is a good deal as I heard the captain of a British cruiser on the
Australian station put it--"The Fijian has altered scarcely less than the
Tahitian under his contact with the white man; only with the latter it
has been a case of 'too much French official,' and with the former 'too
much missionary.'"

However, the Fijian stood in need of a good deal of making over before
his islands were safe for a white man to live in, and even if most of
his picturesqueness departed with his deviltry, the balance is still on
the right side of the ledger and in favour of the missionary.

The Fijian woman has neither the good looks, the good manners nor the
good nature of her Samoan or Tahitian sister. Her lack of amenity is
largely due to the fact that her lord and master, in his treatment
of her, is more of a Papuan or African than a Polynesian. Such
work as is done in the village--mostly fishing and a little crude
cultivation--falls to the lot of the women, probably as a survival of
the days when the men spent all of their waking hours engaging in or
repelling forays. She is always kept in the background when visitors
are present and, probably as a consequence of generations of restraint,
has none of the natural graces of the woman of pure Polynesian stock.

The suppression of the Fijian woman is especially remarkable in the
light of the fact that, through some caprice of Nature, males
considerably outnumber females in the group, a condition which, in
almost every other similar instance on record, has enhanced the power
and prestige of the latter sex. Why it has failed to do so in Fiji is
as unexplicable as the condition itself--the predominance in numbers
of men in a group of islands which has been one of the worst hot-beds
of internecine warfare the world has ever known.

This excess of men in Fiji--the fact that there are not enough women
to "go round"--proved one of the most troublesome factors in the
pacification of the islands, and in keeping them quiet once that
pacification was accomplished. A young warrior without a wife, and
with no prospect of getting one save in a foray, is the equal as an
inciter of trouble of a deposed Latin American president. Such a one
had no wife to lose in an intertribal war, while there was always a
chance that he might emerge from such a struggle in full, if transient,
possession of that supreme desideratum. The enlistment of many of these
restless "left-overs" in the "A. N. C.," the Armed Native Constabulary,
has been the best expedient possible under the circumstances. A gun and
uniform do not take the place of a wife, however (though, as has been
proven, they often are the short cuts to getting one at the expense of
some one else), and the problem is going to be a troublesome one until
nature equalizes the disparity of sexes by increasing the birth rate of
girls, or an interval of intertribal wars supervenes to cut down the
excess of men.

The Fijians are less expert in the building and handling of boats than
the Samoans, The craft most favoured is of the catamaran type,
consisting of two canoes joined by a platform, or occasionally, a
single canoe with a platform built on the outrigger. These affairs,
while comparatively seaworthy, are of little use for sailing and very
difficult to paddle with any speed. The whaleboat, so common in
Samoa, is rarely seen in Fiji. Most of the interisland voyages are
undertaken in clumsy sloops, though occasional runs with the wind
are made with the primitive mat-sailed catamarans.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is not much to please the eye about Suva harbour, but it is deep
and safe, and the loss of shipping there in hurricanes rarely proves
so complete as in Tahiti or Samoa. The storm through which _Lurline_
passed en voyage from Samoa destroyed several houses in the town and
wrought great damage on the outlying plantations, but the loss in the
harbour was limited to a few carelessly-moored native sloops which were
piled up on the beach. Suva, both on land and water, is far better
prepared than the island ports to the east to meet these heavy blows,
nearly all of the houses being strongly guyed with steel cables, while
numerous securely anchored buoys in the bay give shipping a fair chance
to ride out the storms in safety.

Socially, Suva is more developed than the French or other South Pacific
island capitals, and one dropping in for afternoon tea at the Fiji
Club or Government House might easily imagine himself in Cape Town,
Hongkong, Colombo, or one of a dozen other outposts of the British
Empire. The Briton's first move in colonization is to make his seat of
government a bit of old England; to say that he has succeeded in Suva
means much, both as to the magnitude of the work accomplished as
well as to the attractiveness of the life there.

Sir H. M. Jackson, K.C.M.G., the Governor of Fiji, had left for his new
post in Trinidad shortly before our arrival in Suva, the place being
temporarily filled by the Chief Justice, Sir Charles Major, by whom
we were pleasantly entertained. Colonel Leslie Brown, the American
Consular Agent, proved a most agreeable gentleman, as did also his
business partner, the Honourable Arthur Joske, to both of whom we
were indebted for much kindness.

H.M.S. _Clio_, Captain Wilkins, arrived in Suva during our stay and
proved good company for _Lurline_. This smart little gunboat was
in the South Pacific on what appeared to be a sort of roving
commission, the principal object of which seemed to be the blowing
up of a troublesome rock that was somewhat indefinitely located off
to the northeast. At one of our dinner parties Captain Wilkins
challenged us to sail a cutter from _Lurline_ against that of the
_Clio's_. The Commodore promptly accepted, and the race was
contested on the first of July. Well handled by Victor and Gus, our
boat secured a good lead on the run to the buoy at the outer reef,
but in the beat home, owing to the faulty adjustment of a
detachable keel borrowed from _Clio_ for the occasion, made heavy
leeway, lost all she had gained, and finished a poor second.

I spent most of our stay in Fiji on a visit to Mbau, the ancient native
capital, a guest of the distinguished Roku Kandavu Levu. The trip by
launch, horseback and canoe is a somewhat arduous one, but well
worth the trouble, as this little island is one of the most picturesque
and historic spots in the South Pacific. It was here that the great King
Thakambau, who ceded the group to the British, made his headquarters,
and the beautiful village still contains many evidences of its former
greatness. Thakambau's great war canoe, a huge double dugout over a
hundred feet in length, its shattered sides carefully protected from the
ravages of the elements by a regularly-renewed shed of palm leaves, is
still religiously preserved on the leeward beach. It is this canoe which
history records was, whenever possible, launched over live human
bodies as rollers, one division of the king's army being kept continually
on the foray to provide the wherewithal. The body of the king, who died
in 1883 after enjoying an annual pension of fifteen hundred pounds for
a decade or more, rests under a tall shaft of marble on the top of a hill
in the centre of the little island and, not unfittingly, in the shade of
the Wesleyan mission church.

[Illustration: "_Lurline's_ CUTTER FINISHED A POOR SECOND"]

[Illustration: "THAKAMBAU'S GREAT WAR CANOE, OVER A
HUNDRED FEET IN LENGTH, FORMERLY LAUNCHED OVER
HUMAN BODIES"]

The Roku Kandavu Levu, a most attractive young man whom I saw more
of later in Suva, left on a journey up the Rewa on the evening of my
arrival, but not, however, before telling the Mbuli or headman to
give me the "freedom of the city" and turning me over to a couple of
young British madcaps, who had been his guests for a fortnight, with
instructions to "keep the ball rolling." I could not have fallen into
better hands. The Honourable Bertie W----, whom I have since learned
has only one invalid brother between himself and the succession to a
baronetcy, had been sent to the Antipodes by his noble father because
he had allowed the charms of a young lady of the Gaiety chorus to
interfere with his pursuit of knowledge at Cambridge. A month of good
behaviour in Sydney was being rewarded by a tour of Fiji, on which was
officiating as cicerone young Mr. Tom B----, the son of a prominent
attorney of Suva, and a lad after the Honourable Bertie's own heart.

These two spirited youngsters--both were under twenty--had started
out from Suva to "study native life at first hand" in the wilds of
the interior of Vita Levu, but the Roku Kandavu Levu, who could not
let himself miss the chance for practice with two crack cricketers go
by--he had been the best bat on the University of Sydney eleven a few
years previously--contrived to make his capital so pleasant for them
that they had lost interest in the savages of the mountain country and
settled down to pursue their investigations at Mbau. Everybody, it
appeared, had been pleased with the arrangement but the missionary,
who, because a large part of his congregation had stayed away from
service to watch the Honourable Bertie illustrating the principles of
Ranjitsinji's famous "leg glance" for the benefit of the Roku on the
village green, had closed up the church and posted a notice in Fijian
upon the door that it would not be opened until the Sabbath-breakers
had left the island. The Roku who, from his Australian education, is
a fairly open minded cynic himself, still hardly felt it desirable
politically, as the ranking chief in Fiji, to stir up trouble with the
all-powerful missionaries. Accordingly, torn between the exigencies of
hospitality and his duty as the chief of a Christianized people, the
Roku, dodging responsibility in flight, had departed on an "urgent"
mission up the river, telling his guests to continue their "studies" as
long as they desired and leaving word for the villagers not to let their
love of sport interfere with their devotions. It was at the beginning of
this "interregnum" that I arrived.

The natives of Mbau, probably as a result of the example set by
their distinguished chief, are very fond of all kinds of outdoor
sports, which fact inspired my young friends with the idea of holding
a field day in which the white race should compete against the
brown. The honour of the Caucasian was to be upheld by Bertie, Tom
and myself, while that of the Polynesian would be maintained by a
selection from all of the Fijians on the island. Most of the first
day was spent arranging the program. The natives wanted a tug-of-war,
but our captain, Bertie, realizing that we lacked the "beef" for
such a contest, agreed to its inclusion only in the event that the
missionary--with whom South Sea life had agreed so well that he weighed
in the vicinity of 250 pounds--could be induced to pull with us for the
honour of his race. Needless to say the event was not scheduled. We did
the sporting thing, however, by offering to oppose an eleven made up
of the island's best cricketers with a "team" composed of Bertie, Tom
and myself. The other events decided upon were two swimming races, two
sprints, one canoe race, shot-put, throwing the cricket ball, broad and
high jumps, a "modified Marathon" and three boxing contests.

The second day we spent in practice and "elimination trials" to decide
in which particular events each of us was best fitted to compete, as,
except for the cricket, the finals were to be strictly "man-to-man"
affairs. Luckily, our respective abilities dove-tailed perfectly. Tom was
an adept at swimming and no novice in handling the outrigger canoe,
while his splendid endurance made him a natural if inexperienced
distance runner; Bertie had given promise of developing into one of the
fastest amateur sprinters in England before the Gaiety girl supervened,
and had recently bested some of the speediest men in Australia at the
"hundred" and "two-twenty"; my old varsity events, the shot-put and
broad jump, and the remnants of a fair throwing arm, made me our
logical representative in the remaining contests we had scheduled.
Each of us was slated to box in his respective class--Bertie in the
light-weight, Tom in middle-weight, and I--because I weighed a "good
fourteen stone and looked jolly fit"--in the heavy-weight.

The elimination trials of the Fijians were not so simple a matter. They
fought and wrangled from morn till dewy eve and on into the moonlight
in an earnest endeavour to pick the likeliest representatives to uphold
the honour of their race. The final list was not handed to Bertie till
near midnight, and even then, as became apparent next day, was not
quite complete.

Every soul on the island except the immediate members of the
missionary's household was on the beach in the morning when the canoe
race was started, and, what with beaten war drums and coal oil cans,
gave an exhibition that would have made a varsity rooting section look
like a Quaker meeting when their man paddled across the line an easy
winner. Tom made a good fight but his opponent had too many generations
of training behind him. Bertie evened up things by sprinting the length
of the village green a house-length ahead of his dusky opponent, and my
victory in the broad jump gave us a temporary lead. In the high jump we
were weak, and Bertie, who had never essayed the event before, was no
match for a slender Fijian youth who had been to school in Auckland.

Tom, who was really a marvel at the Australian "crawl," had his revenge
in the swimming race for his defeat in the outrigger contest, beating
his man almost two to one in a dash of about a hundred yards across a
bight in the sea-wall. The vanquished Fijian, who had also been picked
to swim in the race of half a mile or more to the mainland and back,
was so crushed by the completeness of his defeat that he refused to
compete again, the event being called off.

In the shot-putting contest we used an old rust-eaten twenty-pound
cannon ball which had been thrown into the village away back in the
40's by a British gunboat on a punitive mission against the natives
for killing and eating a family of missionaries. My opponent made up
in strength what he lacked in "form," and by dint of following the
shot out of the "ring" put up a mark which I was able to beat only by
resorting to the same unorthodox expedient. Bertie added to our score
by romping to another easy victory in the sprint around an approximate
220-yard circle which had been marked with coconuts along the outside
of the village green.

The last event of the forenoon was the "modified Marathon," to be
run over a course once around the island, across the causeway to the
mainland and back, and then around the island again to a finish in
front of the council house, a distance of about three miles. We had
counted on Tom to win this event handily, but the Fijians sprung a
"ringer" on us by entering one Lal Singh, a lanky East Indian coolie
who was employed by the Roku to carry messages back and forth between
Mbau and Rewa. This human greyhound sprang away at the report of the
pistol as though running a quarter, and had loped around the island and
half way to the mainland before poor Tom, winded already, staggered out
upon the leeward beach. Here Bertie and I headed him off and took him
out of the race to save his strength for the trials of the afternoon.
The natives, appearing to figure the importance of a race in direct
proportion to its length, beat their hollow-log drums and sang chesty,
sonorous war chants all through the rest hour in celebration of this
victory.

While Bertie was winning the cricket ball-throwing contest--a
competition in which he substituted for me who had originally qualified
for it--I essayed to give the Fijians an exhibition of hammer-throwing,
an event with which they were still unfamiliar. In the absence of a
regulation hammer, a network of fibre was woven around the twenty-pound
cannon ball, and into this mesh the end of a three-foot strand of
coco-husk rope was fixed. This contrivance looked decidedly flimsy and,
as presently transpired, did not belie its appearance. It held together
for a couple of tentative tosses and even through the preliminary
swings of a real throw; but when I whirled into the first circle of
what was to have been a triple turn the fibrous mesh gave way and,
while I did a double back somersault, the ponderous old missile went
hurtling through the air and banged against the side of the great
council house. The stout wall was not breached, but a muffled crash
told of havoc among the tribal relics which adorned the interior. A few
minutes later the Mbuli, who with several of the elders had hurried to
investigate, emerged with a baleful look on his face to announce that
the great _yanggona_ bowl, out of the sacred depths of which _kava_
had been served even to the great Thakambau himself, was split across
the middle from a fall to the floor.

The Fijians appeared rather awed at the magnitude of the catastrophe,
but the unquenchable Bertie, after placing his "field" for the cricket
match, called out to the Mbuli to ask if it did not seem like old times
to have the walls of Mbau battered down by cannon balls.

The one-inning cricket game was a Caucasian walk-over. The dazzling
work of Tom and Bertie, who alternated between bowling and
wicket-keeping, retired man after man with a "goose-egg," and, in spite
of the scant and inexperienced "field,"--myself--had the bewildered
Fijians all out for less than two score of runs. This total the
versatile pair, batting in partnership, exceeded in less than a quarter
of an hour.

Acknowledging that they were outclassed in cricket, the Fijians now
demanded that a game of soccer football be played upon the same
terms--a full team of them to the three of us--and to this proposal the
game Bertie, displaying better sportsmanship than judgment, consented.
Of course, after a severe buffeting which left us all rather groggy and
winded for the boxing contests, the Fijians won.

On any kind of a system of scoring we had a lead of three victories
at this juncture, and should, therefore, only been liable to a tie
by losing all of the three boxing contests. The natives, however,
contending that the winning of the Marathon was equal to a half-dozen
ordinary events, insisted that they were at least on even terms with us.
Again our complaisant captain, pulling on his gloves for the first
bout--the lightweight--waived the point and agreed to let the three
boxing contests decide the day. Five seconds later, guarding carelessly
in backing away from a clinch, Bertie left a wide opening, driving into
which with a well-timed short-arm jolt, his stocky opponent landed on
the point of the lad's chin and stretched him limp--a clean knockout--on
the turf of the village green.

Tom, who boxed almost as well as he swam, rushed his man--the shifty
youth who had defeated the Honourable Bertie in the high-jump--from the
beat of the war-drum which was doing service as a gong, and had him so
groggy at the end of a couple of minutes that the bewildered fellow
started to slug one of his own fuzzy-headed seconds. He was led off to
escape further useless punishment, leaving the issue of the day up to
the heavyweight bout, with me as the "White Hope."

The ponderously-limbed Goliath, whom the Fijians led out like a
blue-ribbon bull at a stock show at this juncture, had been kept out
of sight all day, evidently through fear of awakening a protest on our
part. He was one mass of hair and rolling muscles from head to heel
and needed only a knotted war-club to complete the illusion of having
stepped out of the Stone Age upon the green of Mbau.

"Just such a cannibal as old Thakambau must have had for a Lord High
Executioner," I told myself, and shuddered at the thought.

Of course, I knew that he could not box; but it was also equally plain
that nothing less than a charge of dynamite could have any effect upon
his iron-ribbed frame. I stood regarding him with dismay as Tom--they
were still fanning the prostrate Bertie with a taro leaf--began to tie on
my gloves.

"They've put up a game on us," he said quietly, trying to knead the
padding away from over the knuckles of my left hand. "That chap's a
hard nut, and they've brought him over from Rewa just because Bertie
was telling them that you were the champion of America. It's a dirty
trick, but it'll only start a row if we try to call the turn. Go ahead
as if nothing was wrong, but be sure and not try any in-fighting. Then
we'll at least get a draw out of it. I'll tell you about him later. Now
don't forget. _Keep clear!_"

It was with that sound injunction well in mind that I stepped out to
where the glowering gorilla was waiting in the middle of the circle.

For a few seconds we stared stupidly at each other, and then, because
I was too nervous to stand still, I began dancing around my stolid
opponent. He followed me with his eyes, owl fashion, not moving his
huge, flat feet until I was almost behind him.

"He's slower even than I thought," I told myself, and began to feel
better.

After prancing in a couple of circles without making my burly
antagonist do more than mark time to keep me in eye-sweep, I plucked
up courage and, stepping in quickly, drove for his prognathous jaw.
Without the flicker of an eyelash, he bent his great neck and took the
blow in the depths of his woolly hair. Hardly did he seem to need to
brace himself, so completely was the force taken up in this natural
shock-absorber. To sharp hooks in the ribs and upper abdomen he
replied in the same passive way, ducking his head whether I led for the
face or not. With a chest like the bulge of a steam boiler and three
inches of corrugated iron muscles armouring his solar plexus, there
was no need of guarding anything but his face, and this he did by the
simple expedient of putting out his foot-deep shock of matted hair
every time I made a feint in that direction.

"The dolt is no more than a human punching-bag," I told myself; "but
even a punching-bag has been known to break if hammered long enough,"
forthwith beginning to try the effect of persistent hammering. Scored
as a sparring contest, I would have won the decision by a hundred
points to nil, for the stolid monster seemed perfectly content to let
me circle around him and hit almost when and where I pleased. But
we were fighting under Fijian rules, which hold that the contest,
undivided by rounds, shall continue until one of the parties is
unwilling, or unable, to go on. Now and then, when I would hook a stiff
jolt in under the fringe of his mop to the side of the neck, he would
wince a bit, but most of the time he simply stood with bowed head and
set muscles and let me pound away. It may be that my blows lacked steam
after my long day of unwonted exertion under the tropical sun, or it
may be that the hulking frame, with its armour of knotted muscles, was
damage-proof as long as the jaw was protected. One thing was certain,
at any rate,--the only effect of my frenzied hammering was to tire
myself out without discomfiting, or even, apparently, annoying my burly
opponent in the least.

"Take it easy to sunset and we'll call it off for a draw," muttered Tom
behind me as I stepped back to get my breath after beating a sounding
tattoo of right and left hooks in a vain effort to jar the armoured
solar plexus of the Cave Man.

It was sound advice and I should probably have followed it had not the
Honourable Bertie--he had been brought to a few minutes previously and
was just awakening to an interest in his surroundings--cut in with
"Don't quit. Step in close and uppercut straight up for his face.
Remember you're the 'White Hope.'"

There certainly did seem room to slip one up between the dome of the
swelling chest and the fringes of the hair-mop that would do some
damage, provided one only went in close enough, and, without stopping
to ponder the possible consequences, I stepped forward and drove a
hard right uppercut, just as Bertie had suggested. Smash! My glove
landed squarely in the middle of Cave Man's face, straightening him
up with a jerk and offering the very opening for the jaw that I had
awaited ever since the bout began. I was just starting a left hook
of which I entertained high hopes, when, closely following the roar
of pain and rage which signalized the landing of my right, something
swift and terrific as a Bolt of Wrath came hurtling against my jaw, an
explosion like the Crack of Doom rang in my ears, and--I came to some
hours later to find a sedate-looking Fijian lady in sombre black--the
Mbuli's wife--massaging my bruised face with one hand and holding
a Bible from which she was reading in the other. An austere-faced
white woman, whom I thought I recognized as the missionary's wife,
was renewing a turtle-steak poultice upon one of the Honourable
Bertie's rainbow-coloured optics, while a Fijian in a long coat and
black _sulu_ was kneading out the cramp-knotted muscles in Tom's
overworked calves. The three of us were in the little mission hospital.

"The Reverend B---- and his wife have been working over you since
sundown," said Bertie thickly through a bandage. "In fact, they've
been very kind to all of us in the matter of lending 'first aid.' We've
apologized for stirring up all this jolly rumpus here, and Tom and I
have promised to leave with you for Suva as soon as you're able to
travel. It may comfort you a bit, old chap, to know that the Reverend
B---- has just gone over to set the nose of your late opponent. Perhaps
you don't remember that you landed a tap just before he hit you."

"Oh, that was what it was," I said with a sigh of comprehension,
sinking back upon the pillows. "I thought some one had been
practising with the twenty-pound hammer again."

The last thing I recall before dropping off to sleep was the sound of
singing and beaten war-drums welling up from the village green. "The
Fijians celebrate the triumph of the Polynesian," explained Bertie in
answer to my look of inquiry. "That chant is one they used to sing on
returning from a successful foray laden with the heads of many
enemies. They seem to trace some similarity between the two
occasions."

On the way back to Suva Tom told me about the Cave Man. "The chap
is probably the strongest man in Fiji," he said, "and as stupid as he is
powerful. Several years ago one of the Australian overseers at the
Rewa sugar plantation took him in hand and taught him that trick of
protecting his face by turning down his hair-mop, and since then he
has stood up against the champion heavyweight of every warship that
has come to Suva without being knocked out. Several of the careless
ones have fared quite as badly as you did, and one of them, who had
floored him with a lucky poke, he later got hold of, threw down and
started to chew to pieces. That broken nose you gave him was the
worst damage he ever received, and he would probably have started
a cannibal feast off your limp anatomy if the Mbuli and the rest of us
hadn't crowded him off."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Roku Kandavu Levu came to Suva shortly before our departure and
paid us several visits on the yacht. We found him a most engaging and
likable fellow and an especial enthusiast on yachting. He is a graduate
of the University of Sydney, and in speech, manners, tastes--in
everything, in fact, but colour, hair and dress--is thoroughly British.
His yacht, a fine 40-footer which he sails himself, is the fastest
craft in the islands. He displayed great interest in our cruise, and
expressed himself as determined to build a staunch schooner and
embark on a similar one as soon as opportunity offered.

The Roku's dress is a unique compromise between the native and the
foreign. He wears the shirt, collar, tie and coat, and carries the
inevitable stick, of the Britisher, but goes bare-footed and covers his
legs with nothing but the common native _sulu_, a yard and a half of
print which is tucked in at the waist and falls to the knees. From the
waist up he is apparelled faultlessly enough to parade Piccadilly or
Broadway; from the waist down carelessly enough to suit the laziest
Kanaka that ever lolled away a noonday under a coconut tree. It was
the latter portion of his "combination suit" which came near to
causing serious trouble on the occasion of his first visit to _Lurline_.

From the hour of our arrival in Suva harbour the sailors had been much
bothered in their work by an endless succession of fruit peddlers and
curio venders who made the sale of their stocks an excuse for loafing
about the yacht. The Commodore was finally forced to order that there
should be no more visiting by unaccredited natives except during the
noon hour and early in the evening, the enforcement of which ruling
was being looked after by the mate with great enthusiasm. By the free
use of his glass and megaphone and his rapidly expanding vocabulary
of "Beche-de-Mer" English he had, to his great pride and satisfaction,
succeeded in keeping intruders at a distance for several days, so that
it was with no ordinary rush of indignation that he greeted, one busy
afternoon, the sight of a pair of muscular brown legs moving leisurely
by a port--the mate was below at the time--as they carried their
owner up the brass-railed starboard gangway, which, incidentally, was
especially _tabu_ for natives.

At the same moment that a deep-chested roar of "_Hare_, you dam'd
Kanaka!" came booming out upon the still afternoon air, the Commodore
was beaming welcome from the head of the gangway to the stately head
and shoulders of the handsome and dignified Roku Kandavu Levu who,
escorted by several prominent British officials, had come off in the
Governor's launch for his initial call. We managed to check the rush of
the infuriated mate at the foot of the cabin companionway and sober him
with some forceful pantomime and a peep at the Governor's launch through
a convenient port, but the echo of that "_Hare, you dam'd Kanaka!_" kept
ringing in our ears through the whole fifteen minutes of an unusually
stiff call.

We never learned whether or not the Roku comprehended for whom the
mate's forcible orders were intended, but if he failed to discern that
they were aimed at his royal self it was largely due to the resourceful
Claribel's cheerful chirrup of "The worthy Chief seems to be having more
trouble than usual with curio venders today. Speaking of curios--won't
Your Highness please tell me if this shark's tooth necklace which I
bought yesterday is really genuine?"



CHAPTER XVIII

"SHARKS"


"Man-eaters on land, man-eaters in the water; for God's sake steer
clear of the Fijis!" was the way in which trading captains of forty
years ago epitomized their warnings to those who expressed a desire to
visit Taviuni or Levuka.

Though man-eating on land has become a languishing if not a lost art
in this neck of the tropics, that the practice by the denizens of the
deep is still carried on is attested by the number of stump-armed and
stump-legged natives that one meets in all parts of the Fijis. Yet
in spite of the swarms of sharks that exist there--"You can throw a
stuck pig over in the bay and five minutes later walk ashore dry shod
on black dorsal fins," the mate of a trader at Suva told me--they are
exceedingly whimsical in their appetites and keep one at his wit's end
devising baits that will tempt them.

They had told us in Samoa that Suva Bay was a sharks' nest, and graphic
verification was furnished on the morning following our arrival. It had
been the practice of the Commodore and myself, in all the harbours we
had visited up to this point, both in the North and South Pacific, to
begin the day with a morning plunge over the rail, a practice which,
though not recommended by the old residents, we had never deemed
sufficiently hazardous to warrant denying ourselves the refreshing
pleasure of. Neither of us had been threatened by a shark, and only
three or four lurking black fins had been seen around any of the
yacht's anchorages. So it was with no misgivings that I, drowsy with
sleep, pulled on my bathing suit the first morning in Suva and plunged
over the rail in a deep-eye-opening dive. I will let the Commodore's
journal tell what followed, my own recollections being somewhat
confused.

"Three or four seconds after the Weather Observer dived, I saw him
come sputtering up through the water, gain the starboard gangway in
a succession of wild lunges, come clambering aboard and collapse,
speechless with consternation, on a cockpit transom. Simultaneously, a
great shaft of greenish white shot like a meteor under the stern, and
an instant later a chorus of excited yells broke out on the deck of the
_Wanaka_, the Australian mailboat which had come in during the night
and anchored half a cable's length beyond us. The commotion was caused
by the hooking on a line dangling from the steamer's stern of a huge
'tiger' shark, a monster so heavy that it required lines from two steam
winches to land its floundering twenty feet of length upon the deck.

"The Weather Observer could never explain anything beyond the fact
that, on approaching the surface, he suddenly became aware of a round,
greenish blur, lighter in colour than the water, increasing in size at
a prodigious rate, and forthwith, being seized with terror, got back on
the yacht with the loss of as little time as possible. We have always
supposed that the shark, balked in its rush for a bite of man, sought
solace in bolting the hunk of salt beef on the end of the _Wanaka's_
line, as not five seconds elapsed between one event and the other.
A sailor on the poop of the _Wanaka_, who was about to shout a
warning to us regarding the danger of bathing overside, followed the
course of the shark from where it shot under the stern of the yacht to
the hook which brought it to grief." The rest of our bathing in Suva Bay
was done with the aid of a sailor and a water bucket.

It was in a spirit of revenge for the fright given me on this occasion
that I spent a good portion of our stay in Fiji on punitive expeditions
against sharks, incident to which I learned a good deal regarding the
ways of the "tiger of the sea" that otherwise would not have come under
my observation.

_De gustibus non est disputandum_ is a truth of wide application,
holding good no less generally in the animal kingdom than in that
of man, and in neither more forcibly than in sharkdom. What is one
shark's meat is quite likely to be another shark's poison, and because
a certain bait is sauce for the voracious "man-eater" of Suva Bay, it
does not follow that it is sauce for his epicurean cousin of Pago Pago.

Regarding the tastes of sharks of any one locality, it is usually
possible to speak more definitely, but still with no degree of certainty,
and even the likes and dislikes of a single known individual cannot be
pinned down and charted as with square and compass. This latter fact was
well borne out by the action of a grizzly old fifteen-footer--identified
by the rusty stump of a harpoon planted just aft his dorsal--which I
chanced to observe one day while fishing on one of the reefs that hem in
Suva Bay. The natives pointed him out to me as he nosed his way about
among the other sharks that were nibbling gingerly at the outside corners
of tempting hunks of salt beef lowered for their delectation, and said
that this was the seventh year that they had fished for him, using
everything from "charmed" coconuts and shiny tomato cans to plucked gulls
and live sucking-pigs, without ever coming near to landing him.

"No one has ever seen him so much as smell the bait," said one of my
fuzzy-headed companions, "and from that we know that he must be _tabu_.
Now we no longer give him notice, for we understand that he must be fed
and protected by the Evil Ones."

Hardly were these words spoken before the great harpooned tail
of the wily monster in question gave a vigorous swish, a smooth,
mouse-coloured body shot up through the water, and two triple rows
of gleaming ivory opened and closed upon--nothing more or less than
a bare hook that its owner was pulling up for rebaiting after it had
been dextrously stripped by the "sleight-of-mouth" performance of some
member of the ruck down among the pink coral.

Yet the general trend of the gastronomic preferences of the sharks
of any single bay, or island, or even group of islands, is usually
understood sufficiently well for all practical purposes, and if the
natives or old European residents advise against bathing in certain
localities, it is best not to take the chance. In few parts of the
South Pacific are sharks more plentiful than around Mbau, the old
native capital of Fiji, but in spite of the fact that the natives,
whether engaged in fishing or turtle-catching, or merely swimming
for pleasure, expose themselves constantly in the waters infested
by these monsters, loss of life from that source is rarely heard of.

It was while I was "convalescing" from the effects of the field-day
with the natives of Mbau, of which I wrote in the last chapter, that
I was sitting in the shade of the veranda of the Roku's bungalow,
watching with no little enjoyment the antics of a big band of
supremely happy youngsters who were disporting themselves in
the limpid waters that lapped the sea-wall at that point. Presently
a number of men came down to the wall, straightened out the coils
of some heavy lines, baited up a lot of big chain-leadered hooks,
and began hurling them into the sea but a few yards from where
the boys were swimming.

"Wake up!" I shouted to my young friend, Tom B----, giving his
hammock a vigorous shake. "Isn't it rather a risky business throwing
shark-hooks in where a lot of naked boys are swimming? What if they
should snag one of the youngsters?"

"Boys'r' all right," came in a muffled yawn from under B----'s
palm-leaf hat. "Those chaps aren't fishing for boys; only fishing for
sharks."

"Sharks!" I scoffed. "Sharks in there where those boys are swimming!
Wake up, young man; you're talking in your sleep!"

Thus admonished, B---- sat up, yawned, stretched himself, cracked a
coconut, took several long draughts of its cool contents, and finally
explained that, as a rule, sharks along the windward shore of Vita Levu
did not care much for boys, especially near those localities, like
Mbau, where it was the custom to fish for them daily with succulent
hunks of salt pork.

Sharks are fairly numerous in all of the ports visited by the ships
which carry the mail from New Zealand and Australia to the islands
of the Southwestern Pacific, and it is rarely that one of these
steamers is seen at anchor without from one to half a dozen lines
dangling from its stern. Watching a shark line is a tedious business,
but it is strictly necessary in order that the fisherman may know
when the monster is hooked. Otherwise, its frantic rushes, if
allowed to go unchecked, are pretty sure to cause some part of the
line, leader, or even a portion of its own anatomy to give way,
resulting in its escape. The school-boy's scheme of tying the line
around the big toe and going to sleep would probably work all right
as far as rousing the fisherman was concerned, but the sequel might
not leave him in a condition to give undivided attention to landing
his prize. To this end the sailors of the mail-boats have hit on an
ingenious plan. Instead of taking in their lines when the dinner
gong sounds or when, for any reason, they are on duty elsewhere,
they run a stout piece of marlin twine from the shark-line up to the
steam whistle, leaving it for the "man-eater" himself to announce
the event of his being hooked by sounding a toot.

[Illustration: SHARK ON THE BEACH AT MBAU]

[Illustration: FIJIAN BOYS BOXING]

I regret to have to tell that the inventor of this clever time-saving
expedient, a purser of the steamship _Taviuni_, came near to losing
his position as the result of his first experimental trial. This came
about through his faulty judgment in running the main line--instead of
the comparatively light twine now employed for that connection--up to
the whistle. The latter gave forth a brave toot in response to the jerk
of the big "tiger" at the other end of the line, but the blast was in
the nature of a swan-song. An instant later, with a parting shriek of
agony, the whole of the whistling mechanism was wrenched from the
funnel, and, carrying a string of hammocks and the binnacle-stand
along with it, vanished overboard, spinning like a taffrail log in the
wake of the flying shark. The _Taviuni_ did most of her whistling
with a fog-horn during the remainder of that voyage.

The natives seem to swim about in comparative safety in the shoal
waters of Suva Bay, but the Europeans prefer to keep on the safe side
by taking their dips in "bathing pens." An amusing story is told at
the Fiji Club of a certain visiting naval officer who took a dive into
one of the bathing enclosures at a time that it was occupied by a
fourteen-foot "man-eater." The "pen" was a thirty-by-thirty railed-in
space on the shore of the bay near where a small river came down, and
was built with the ostensible purpose, not of keeping sharks in, but
of keeping them out. The combination of a flood and an unusually high
tide, however, covered the top rail to a depth of a couple of feet or
more, and during the period of submergence the big shark in some
manner nosed his way in, to be left a captive when the water subsided.
The water of the pen was murky from the flood discharge of the river,
but there was nothing in its dull translucence to awaken suspicion in
the minds of the half-dozen officers of a visiting gunboat who, hot and
tired from a ride into the interior, were preparing for a dip.

The officer in question--a man noted for his nervous haste in doing
things--was well ahead of the others in stripping for his plunge, a
circumstance that was entirely responsible for his having to bear
alone the shock of the discovery that the pen was already occupied.
With a snort of contempt for the slowness of his companions, he
sprang from the rocks and disappeared under the cool water in a
long, deep dive. An instant later the pen was a vortex of foam, in
the midst of which whirled the white shoulders of the commander,
and through which cut with lightning flashes the black dorsal and
tail fins of the threshing shark.

Yelling like a Fijian war-dancer, the frightened swimmer reached the
outer palings at the end of half a dozen desperate overhand strokes,
clambered over the barrier, tumbled into the water beyond, and,
wide-eyed with terror, started lunging right off toward the open
sea. When he was finally recalled to shore, he declared that the pen
was literally alive with sharks, and not even after the luckless
"man-eater," riddled with bullets and bristling with the wooden
harpoons of some Fijian fishermen, was hauled out on the beach, could
he be made to believe that the score or more of its fellows among which
he imagined he had plunged had not escaped. Inasmuch as a frightened
shark has never been known to touch even a piece of raw beef, the
impetuous officer was hardly in real danger of anything but heart
failure and a slap or two from the monster's tail.

The fact that the popular observations of the ways of sharks are
largely limited to their dilly-dallyings around baited hooks is
responsible for the very general belief that it is necessary for them
to turn on their backs before taking food into their mouths. Eating
from pieces of meat suspended on a line does not represent the normal
condition under which the shark feeds, and to regard as characteristic
the attitude he assumes in such circumstances is as unreasonable as
similarly to class the antics of a man trying to take a bite from an
apple on a string at a Hallowe'en party. Even when a piece of meat is
free from the hook, and the shark is satiated or suspicious, he will
often roll over and let it settle down gently in his mouth, but this
is not because he is physically unable to do the trick otherwise.
Throw a piece of red beef between three or four hungry "tigers," and
you will be pretty sure to see the quickest of them snap it out of
sight with only the slightest listing of his body to one side or the
other. Sharks turn slightly in feeding for exactly the same reason
that people turn their head slightly in kissing--because their noses
would get in the way if they didn't--but to claim that the one must
turn on its back to eat is as absurd as to maintain that the other
must stand on his head to kiss.

Shark skin, shark teeth, shark oil, shark meat, and several other
by-products of the dead shark are articles of greater or lesser
utility, but I heard an old trader in Fiji tell of where the living
shark was once put to a practical use. This was when they used him as a
prison guard in the old days when British convicts were transported to
Australia, the monsters serving this purpose for many years at the Port
Arthur settlement, ten miles south of Hobart, the present capital of
Tasmania. The prisons at this point, some of which may still be seen,
were situated upon a peninsula whose only connection with the mainland
was by a long, narrow strip of sand called, from its configuration, the
"Eaglehawk's Neck."

The convicts were allowed considerable liberty upon the peninsula,
but to prevent their escape to the mainland half-starved bloodhounds
were chained all the way across the narrowest portion of the "Neck."
Several prisoners having avoided the "bloodhound zone" by swimming,
the prison authorities adopted the gruesome but effective expedient of
feeding the sharks at that point several times a day. In a few weeks the
place became literally alive with the voracious "man-eaters," and from
that time on the only convict who ever escaped accomplished his
purpose by rolling himself up in kelp and working along, inch by inch,
timing his movements to correspond with those of the other heaps of
seaweed that were being rolled by the surf.

Like all other leviathans of the deep, animate and inanimate, the shark
occasionally suffers from barnacles and similar marine parasites which
attach themselves to his hide, and during my stay in Fiji I witnessed
the phenomenon of a number of these monsters, like so many warships,
going into "drydock," as it were, to have their bottoms scraped.

On one of the outer reefs of Suva Bay there is a broad, flat ledge of
coral, washed at low tide by only a foot or two of water. To this place
the sharks that are troubled with barnacles are wont to resort, and,
after picking out a spot where their bodies are just awash, lie for
hours while the gently-moving waves rock and rub them backwards and
forwards against the rough coral of the reef. This "nature treatment"
is said to be most efficacious, and the spectacle of a dozen or more
big "man-eaters" dozing contentedly as the warm waters sway them lazily
to and fro--every now and then squirming in a pleased sort of way,
as a dog does when his spine is rubbed--is something calculated to
awaken, for the moment, at least, a feeling almost akin to sympathy
for these most universally dreaded and detested of all God's
creatures.

Speaking of sympathy for sharks, it may be interesting to note that
there does exist one such monster that may fairly be characterized as
popular. This is the famous "Pelorus Jack," who lives in one of the
great southern sounds of New Zealand, and who has not failed to come
out to meet a single steamer visiting that locality in the last twenty
years. He invariably joins the ship at the same point in the passage,
follows in its wake during the trip about the sound, taking leave of it
again at the identical spot where he picked it up. His regular habits
have made him the subject of no small amount of preferential treatment,
not the least remarkable of which is the greeting and taking leave of
him by the passengers with such hearty old British choruses as "We All
Love Jack," and "When Jack Comes Home Again." Tourists always refer to
him as "Good Old Pelorus," but his "goodness" is a thing which none
of them ever appears to try to cultivate at closer quarters than from
behind the rail of the poop.

The story of the officer who jumped into the bathing pen while it
was occupied by a shark is equalled by another, which I also heard
in Suva, but which occurred at Port Darwin, Northern Australia. The
bathing enclosure at the latter point was supposed to be shark and
alligator-proof. A tremendous spring tide, however, had raised the
water for several feet above the tops of the piles of which the
enclosure was constructed, and during this period two "man-eaters"
and a huge alligator were carried inside. There were no witnesses to
the hostilities that followed, but the next morning early bathers
found several sections of shark floating about the surface of their
plunge, together with a slightly scared, but apparently uninjured,
sixteen-foot alligator.

Mark Twain's story of the shark that swallowed a newspaper in the
Thames and carried it to Australia in advance of the steamer--this was
supposed to have happened in the days before the cable--there to be
caught and opened by Cecil Rhodes, who promptly made his start in life
as the result of an advance tip on the stock market that he culled from
the journal, may be, like the newspaper itself, a little "far-fetched";
nevertheless those monsters have been known to perform gastronomic
feats quite as remarkable as "swallowing" everything contained in a
London daily. "Nobody knows what the knife will bring forth" is an
old sailor's expression often heard when one of these explorative
operations is about to be performed, for a shark's stomach is as full
of surprises as a "grab-bag," and as uncertain as a lottery.

The most remarkable instance I recall in this connection is that of
an enormous "man-eater" that the sailors of _Lurline_ hooked the day
before we sailed from Suva. Besides a very considerable assortment of
other "indigestibles," they took from the stomach of this leviathan
the skull, still bearing the stubs of horns several inches in length,
of a full-grown steer. The grisly object had undoubtedly come from the
slaughter-house dump farther up the bay, but how the act of swallowing
was accomplished was more than we could figure out. The sailors even
went so far as to cut away the jaws of the monster and carry them
along when we sailed, and during the first week of our voyage to
Honolulu they spent most of their time "off watch" in vain endeavours
to force the skull between the shining rows of back-curving teeth. The
jaws broke and fell to pieces at the joint without the puzzle being
solved, but the consensus of opinion, in the forecastle, at least,
appeared to be expressed by the yacht's negro cook when he said "dat
blessed head must ha' done bin swallered when it wuz a littl' ca'f, an'
then growed up inside!"

In the Samoan islands the natives have a legend about a man and a
maid who eloped from Savaii, fled to Tutuila, and were there turned
respectively into a shark and a turtle by the god or devil into whose
hands they chanced to fall. As a proof of this story, the natives claim
that if you go out and sing on a moonlight night at the end of a point
near the village of Leone, Tutuila, the shark and the turtle will
appear to you.

When they told this story to a young American naval officer and myself,
the former said that he was quite ready to believe the transformation
part of it because his outrigger canoe had "turned turtle" that very
morning, while a native dealer who had sold us curios was nothing if
not a "shark."

In the matter of the power of music being able to call up the loving
pair, however, we were both agreed that we would like a demonstration.
That night, therefore, a party of a score or more of the villagers
escorted us out to the point, and started up a good lively Samoan
_himine_. They had finished a swinging native rowing song, and were
just getting under way with their beloved "Tuta-pai, mai Feleni," when
the unmistakable dorsal of a "man-eater" began to cut backwards and
forward across the glittering moon-path. Simultaneously a black hump
began to show above the water immediately in front of us, and presently
the natives called our attention to the fact that it was slowly rising,
adding that the turtle was getting ready to swim over and meet the
shark. It was at this juncture that my observant companion noted that
the tide was rapidly falling, and after ricochetting a round of bullets
from our revolvers off the back of the quondam maiden without stirring
her up to the point of keeping her tryst, we went back to the village
fully convinced that the story was a fabrication, the shark a
coincidence, and the turtle a black rock.



CHAPTER XIX

"HIS WONDERS TO PERFORM"


We had heard of the Honourable "Slope" Carew--pearler, "black-birder,"
yachtsman and scion of a noble British family--at every port we had
touched in the South Pacific, but it was not our fortune to meet him
until after our arrival at Suva. There he was one of our first callers,
and it chanced that he, with the Captain of H.M.S. _Clio_ and two or
three other Englishmen, was off to the yacht for dinner the night a
bottle of champagne exploded prematurely in the hands of our Chinese
steward and kicked him backwards down the cabin stairs.

"Makes it seem like the old days on the _Aphrodite_," said Carew,
pausing in his stirring narrative of the way in which Bell, a renegade
American naval officer, had saved the plague ship, _Cora Andrews_. "You
heard of the _Aphrodite_ in Tahiti, didn't you, and of how her cargo of
'Hum's Extra Spry' helped my old pal, the Reverend Horatio Loveworth,
to convert Boraki and his nest of cut-throats on Makatea?"

We had indeed heard the story of the conversion of Boraki and his
fellow pirates of Makatea, but never at better than third or fourth
hand, and in versions so diametrically at variance that the chance to
enjoy the account of one who had actually figured in that famous coup
was too good to let slip. We begged Carew, therefore, to let the _Cora
Andrews_ yarn go over to another time and to give us the "champagne
and missionary" story then and there.

We were dining on deck, and the story, begun over _avocados_, was
continued after we adjourned with coffee and liqueurs to sofa-cushions
or lounging chairs in the cockpit. The tropic moon was dropping
plummets of gold through the rigging, and, as he talked, Carew
punctuated his well-turned sentences with frequent sips from the
oft-replenished glass of cracked ice and absinthe on his chair arm.
Just how much of the golden floss of the streaming moonlight and the
verdant thread of the trickling absinthe were twisted into the yarn he
spun, probably Carew himself could not have told.

"It is a long story if I go back to the beginning, as I shall have
to if you are to understand all that happened," said Carew musingly;
"for from first to last the yarn revolves, not around myself or the
_Aphrodite_ or Boraki, but around a special consignment of champagne to
which we always referred from the moment its true character began to be
revealed as 'Hum's Extra Spry.'

"It was shortly after the pater cut me off with a beggarly five hundred
pounds a year at the end of a series of escapades which had culminated
with my wrecking his yacht on the coast of Morocco that I found myself
in San Francisco. I had sailed my own ninety-footer at Cowes on more
than one occasion, so that I was only following the line of least
resistance in applying for the billet of first mate when I learned that
Colonel Jack Spencer, the mining magnate, had converted a smart sealing
schooner into a private yacht and was preparing to sail with a party
of friends for the South Pacific. Spencer was rather taken with the idea
of having a sprig of British nobility along, and from the first insisted
on treating me more as a guest than an under officer. This was how I
chanced to be included with the skipper in an invitation to a farewell
dinner given by Spencer to a number of San Francisco friends on the
eve of our departure. Here I met the members of the yachting party,
and, what is of more importance to my story, had my first experience
of the potentialities of 'Hum's Extra Spry.'

"Perhaps it will serve to make the strange things which came to pass
afterwards more intelligible if I explain here what Spencer only became
apprised of six months later through offering his New York wine agent a
liberal reward for the information, namely, what put the power in the
fancy-priced consignment of champagne he had ordered especially for the
South Pacific cruise.

"It appeared that one of the chemists of the great Hum winery at
Rheims, in experimenting with a newly-invented aerating powder, had
used that mixture instead of the decolourizing solution in tapering
off a twelve dozen case order of California champagne that was being
hurriedly prepared for re-export to America. Now normal champagne, in
the making, exerts so strong a pressure upon the glass which confines
it that an average of fully twenty per cent. of the bottles used are
burst before the final stage is reached, while the aerating powder
which was being tried out as a substitute for carbon-dioxide gas in
making sparkling Burgundies and Sauternes was calculated to develop a
ten-pounds-to-the-square-inch pressure on its own account. So it
happened that every unit of the order in question, having in addition
to its normal stock of bubbles those generated as a result of the
accidental aeration, was more like a hand grenade than a bottle of
wine. Nine-tenths of the lot suffered total disintegration before it
was ready to be shipped, and the remainder was only saved by being
transferred to rubber-corked bottles of quarter-inch glass, all of the
outsides of which were reinforced with a closely-woven mesh of
gilded wire. Red enamel grape leaves were grilled into the gold foil
of the cap, and the label, in addition to several lines of French
attesting the purity of the contents, bore the English words 'Liquid
Sunshine--Special,' in raised ivory letters.

"The two or three dozen surviving cases of this remarkable vintage were
snapped up the moment they were clear of the customs by Spencer's New
York agent, who rushed them on to San Francisco. All but two cases,
which were kept out to serve at the Spencers' farewell dinner, were
sent aboard the yacht and stowed.

"I saw at once that the old chap was worried when I arrived the evening
of the dinner, and before we went in he took me aside to ask if I knew
anything regarding the handling of 'high-power' wine, as he termed
it. It appeared that in the afternoon, while several bottles of the
new wine were in the refrigerator undergoing a preliminary cooling,
some one had dropped an ice pick in amongst them and they had all gone
off together. The frame of the box held, but the partitions gave way,
wrecking, beyond possibility of salvage, two dozen ice cream models
of the _Aphrodite_ floating in a sea of green jelly. The _Aphrodites_
were replaced by some ready-made anchors which the caterer chanced
to have on hand, but the endeavour to hasten the chilling of more
champagne by the use of a whirligig freezer only resulted in the
annihilation of that useful contrivance and the loss of another bottle
of wine.

"The contents of the first two bottles which the butler opened for
dinner got away to the ceiling almost as fast as did the gilt-capped
corks, and that worthy was about ready to give up in despair when one
of the caterer's men pointed the way to a solution of the immediate
problem by setting the next bottle in a punchbowl and capping it with
an inverted soup plate. The latter was smashed to smithereens at the
first trial, but the aluminum stew pan which replaced it at the next
attempt stood the shock and deflected the cork, cap and a considerable
quantity of a restless yellow liquid to the bottom of the punchbowl.
This liquid, by means of a funnel, was restored to its bottle, hastily
muffling which in a napkin to restrain a persistent catarrhal tendency
of its nose, the flurried butler, fifteen minutes late, dashed into
the dining room with the first installment of the anxiously-awaited
'Sunshine.'

"Now it is just possible that had the butler moved with his wonted
glide of easy dignity nothing very much out of the ordinary would have
happened; but the stiff, broken-kneed trot with which he tried to make
up for lost time aroused the dormant energies of the hard-won contents
of the bottle, with the result that it gathered itself together and
made a fresh break for the open just as its warder was edging in for
a gingerly pour at the glass of a pearly-shouldered dowager who was
sitting on Spencer's right. There was no inverted aluminum stew pan
to deflect the erupting 'Sunshine' this time, and, as a consequence, it
expended itself with one joyous 'whouf' upon the well-kept surfaces
of the stately dame's right cheek and shoulder. Some little of it,
tinged with rose and pearl, caromed off to extinguish a circle of pink
candles on the table, but the most of it remained behind to trickle in
little rose and pearl rivulets down the lady's neck. The unfortunate
victim screamed lustily several times, dabbed wildly at the parts
affected with a little yellow rag which suddenly appeared from nowhere,
and then ran, sobbing, from the room.

"In the meantime the butler's assistants had rounded him up another
bottle of the elusive fluid, and when that functionary appeared again
in the dining room he might have been planting dynamite bombs, so
carefully did he pick his way about and so great was the expression of
terror in his staring eyes. But he stuck gamely to his task and finally
poured out the last of the 'Sunshine' that his improvised distillery
was able to deliver without again interfering with the toilet of any of
the guests.

"In all of this time not a soul was able to get a sip of the phantom
liquid. The moment a trickle of it touched a glass it hissed like
a moistened seidlitz powder, threw spray in the air and piled up a
heap of bubbles which, quickly subsiding, left nothing behind but
a drug-store smell and a damp circle of table cloth. The sprightly
brunette in her first season whom I had taken in came nearest to
getting a drink, and her experience had a dampening effect upon the
enthusiasm of the others. This maid was rash and impulsive, and,
partly by quickness of hand, partly by inhalation, she managed to
deflect laterally a lungful of the pungent spray which was ascending
perpendicularly to bespangle with dewy drops what some one had
just characterized in nautical parlance as her 'natty gaff topsail
pompadour.' Her behaviour for the next minute or two made the
efforts of the plump dowager to staunch the flow of her complexion
seem dignified in comparison. The dinner was finished up with a
more manageable vintage, and next day the _Aphrodite_ sailed
without further requisition having been made upon her stores of
'Extra Spry.'

"All through the three weeks' cruise to Tahiti the restless bubbles in
the thick, green bottles in the _Aphrodite's_ starboard lockers elbowed
each other as they swelled in the tropic heat, but it was not until the
yacht was safely anchored in Papeete harbour that another opportunity
came for any of them to get beyond control. A call had been made on
the French governor in the morning, and that dignitary, according
to official etiquette, was returning the visit in company with his
stately wife the afternoon of the same day. Doubtless you had to go
through the same thing. The trouble came while the hospitable Spencer
was mixing a punch. Cold tea, maraschino, curacao, burnt sugar and a
lot of other stuff had already gone in as a base, quite enough, so the
mixer thought, to dilute a bottle of his 'Extra Spry' to an exhilarant
innocuousness. All might have gone well had the diluting been done
upon scientific principles, but Spencer, whose knowledge of hydraulics
appeared very rudimentary for a man who had made a fortune in placer
mining, directed the Japanese steward to poke the nose of the bottle
into the punch as soon as he started the cork. That obedient functionary
approached the bowl from the side opposite to the one on which the
governor and his wife were seated and did exactly as directed.

"Although the time was but five in the afternoon, His Excellency was
in the full evening dress prescribed for official calls--cock-hat,
claw-hammer coat and two feet of shirt front crossed with a strip of
red, white and blue bunting and a row and a half of medals. A hundredth
of a second after the asthmatically-wheezing nose of the bottle of
'Extra Spry' went over the edge of the bowl this regalia was absorbing
a good half of Spencer's partially mixed punch, while the remainder
bubbled and creamed over the expensive Parisian creation of his stately
wife.

"A sailor, who had taken in the incident from the forward deck, lost
control of himself and broke into a loud guffaw, in which he was
promptly joined by several of his mates. This set two or three of the
more irreverent of the members of Spencer's party going, and when the
spasm of laughter had passed it was found that Their Excellencies, in
high dudgeon, had melted over the side and departed in their waiting
cutter. The Jap was found at the foot of the cabin stairs with a bruise
in the pit of his stomach which bade fair to confine him to the little
French hospital for a fortnight. Tropical heat and the agitation of
the tossing bosom of the South Pacific were conspiring to set on
hair-trigger edge the latent energies of the 'Extra Spry,' and, though
none suspected it, the insistent throb of the imprisoned bubbles were
the pulse beats in the Hand of Fate.

"The coldness of Tahiti officialdom after this incident, a squabble
with his skipper, as well as incipient internal dissensions among the
members of his too-closely-confined party, all conspired to make Spencer
forego the remainder of the cruise he had planned, and within the next
week or so they had all left for San Francisco or Auckland, leaving the
_Aphrodite_ in my hands to be sold to the highest bidder. At the end of
a month I sold her to the Amalgamated Missionary, Bible and Tract
Society, which eagerly embraced the opportunity to replace at a bargain
figure its schooner, _Morning Star_, which the last hurricane had piled
up, a hopeless wreck, upon the beach of Moorea. I was retained as
skipper.

"The Society had long been anxious to undertake some reclamation work
in the Paumotos, and the possession of the _Aphrodite_--a vessel that,
on account of the ease with which she handled, could venture with
comparative safety where the ordinary type of South Sea schooner dared
not go--made it possible to attempt to realize this ambition for the
first time. After a week of busy preparation we made ready to sail for
Makatea, and when the missionary schooner, _Southern Cross_, glided
out of the narrow crack in the reef which constitutes the entrance to
Papeete harbour and headed off for the north-east, there was little to
differentiate her from the saucy _Aphrodite_ which had come bowling
in over an almost identical course a month or so previously. A new
set of gold letters across her stern, a crown and anchor flag at the
main truck, and a plain set of table covers and bedspreads included
about all the changes in sight, and even a search of the lazarette and
lockers would have disclosed little (except some bales of Bibles and
hymn books and some cases of salmon and barrels of salt beef) which
had not been there before.

[Illustration: WEAVING THE WALLS OF A FIJIAN HOUSE]

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF FIJIAN HOUSE, SHOWING
HOW IT IS BOUND TOGETHER WITH COCO FIBRE]

"Fewer still were the old things that had been dispensed with. The
name and the house-flag had to be altered, of course, to suit the
new character of the vessel, while embroidered silk peacocks and
sun-flowers on the coverlets were rather beyond the simple tastes
of the Reverend Horatio Loveworth who was in charge of the work in
hand. But the punchbowl had been retained as a baptismal fount,
the wines--including the 'Extra Spry'--for medicinal purposes, the
fancy stores to be presented as a goodwill offering to King Boraki
of Makatea, and a gramophone, fortified with a big stack of new bass
drum and trombone records of popular hymns, as a music teacher to the
expected converts. Loveworth's keen practicality had been the principal
factor in his rapid rise to the most important position in the South
Pacific missionary service.

"My mate was an Australian of long experience among the Islands, and
the crew a well-picked lot of half-castes and Kanakas. We worked well
together, and I doubt if the little schooner, even in her sealing
days, was ever better handled. After two days of admirable behaviour
in baffling winds and treacherous currents, she penetrated to the very
heart of the stormy Paumotan Archipelago. Ahead loomed the black mass
of Makatea, the half-coral, half-volcanic island of sinister reputation
which was our destination, and between stretched ten miles of submerged
reefs which the chart made no pretence of outlining.

"Ordering sail to be shortened and a man sent aloft, I was just
preparing to begin 'feeling' our way in toward the darker blur that
marked the probable entrance to the lagoon, when the mate's keen eye
descried a lone sail bearing rapidly down on us from landward. My
glass revealed a large out-rigger canoe which, driven by a fair wind
and urged by the flashing paddles of its dozen or more occupants, was
throwing the foam over its bow so swiftly was it sliding through the
water. In less than half an hour it had grated against the side of the
schooner and the leader of the party, a magnificently proportioned
fellow dressed only in a red _pareo_ and a necklace of sharks' teeth,
disdaining the ladder that was lowered for him, leapt lightly over the
rail and, saluting the Reverend Horatio with a bow and a sweep of his
_koui_ fibre hat, announced himself to be King Boraki.

"Speaking in the Marquesan dialect, he said that Makatea had learned
of the great missionary's intended visit from word that had come by
Rangaroa; that Makatea was transported with joy at the honour that was
being done it; that preparations for a fitting reception had been in
progress for a week and were now complete; and, finally, that he had
come to pilot the ship of his distinguished visitor by a safe channel
to the harbour and to be the first of his people to receive a Christian
blessing.

"'God bless you, my brother; ask the rest of our brothers to come
aboard for prayer and refreshment,' ejaculated the Reverend Horatio
fervently, and no sooner was the invitation issued than fifteen more
red _pareos_ and shark tooth necklaces flashed over the rail, their
wearers promptly ranging themselves in an orderly row behind their
leader. An instant later, like puppets controlled by a single string,
every man of them plumped down on his knees, crossed his arms on
his breast and, with eyes devoutly raised at an angle that directed
their gaze somewhere in the vicinity of the third row of reef points
on the idly flapping mainsail, remained motionless.

"'Rehearsed, by Gawd!' muttered the mate, whose quick eye had caught
Boraki's backhand signal. 'Oh, for a Maxim on the deckhouse!'

"'Oh for words to express my thanks for all that has happened and is
going to happen this day!' prayed the Reverend Horatio, heeding naught
but the fact that he was on the eve of the apparent fulfilment of a
lifelong ambition. His prayer was brief but full of feeling, and when
it was over he asked all hands to come below and have something to eat.

"Boraki brought his men to their feet with a wave of his hand, picked
two of his chiefs to accompany him to the cabin with the missionary,
and sent the others forward to feed and fraternize with the crew.
Carried away by Loveworth's enthusiasm and confidence--the man was, and
is, a born leader--the mate and I followed him and the guest of honour
below.

"_Who_ this Boraki was, beyond being the greatest rascal that ever
terrorized the south-eastern Pacific, nobody knew. _What_ he was,
everybody could tell you, but those who asked usually tried to save
time by telling you what he wasn't. By process of elimination you might
then learn that he was a pirate, cut-throat, murderer, cannibal, robber
and other things too numerous to mention; also, that each of his four
hundred men in Makatea was all of these things to a greater or lesser
degree, and that few of them had ever been apprehended or punished.
Boraki himself was supposed to have a good deal of European blood in
his veins, but of what nationality no one was sure. The traders said
that his father was a missionary, and pointed to traits in his character
to prove it; the missionaries said that his father was a trader, and
pointed to traits in his character to prove it; Boraki was silent on the
subject, but indirectly gave both parties the lie by robbing and
killing--and some said eating--traders and missionaries alike.

"All that Boraki had said in his little speech when he boarded the
_Southern Cross_ was quite true, but not quite the whole truth. He
did not state, for example, that the preparations for entertainment
he referred to were to be in the form of endurance tests of walking
on red-hot stones--the walking to be done by the visitors--and that
possibly the red-hot stones might serve for another purpose by the
time the supper hour came around. Nor did he state that the end of his
volunteer piloting was to run the nose of the schooner into a soft
sand bank in the middle of the passage, where canoe-loads of his men,
coming from the lagoon ostensibly as life-savers, could take advantage
of the confusion that was bound to follow the accident to enter into
possession with a minimum of difficulty and risk. The schooner was to
be left till the shifting of the sands at the turn of the tide would
release her without injury. All of which, of course, we did not learn
until later.

"This plan, good enough to have succeeded against a gunboat, had been
evolved by the resourceful pirate in the expectation that the _Southern
Cross_ was coming with nothing less than a battery of rapid-fire guns
and a detachment of French marines to see her through. When Boraki saw
no quick-firers on the deck, no rifles or cutlasses in the cabin, and
not even a revolver or knife in the belts of the officers and crew, he
perceived at once that there was no use risking the loss of the schooner
by running her aground. His action was characteristic.

"The swift happenings of the next hour or so, as I was witness of
them only 'in spots,' I shall describe as the subsequent testimony
of the participants--principally Boraki himself--showed them to have
transpired.

"The distinctly mixed assemblage--Boraki, his two fellow cut-throats,
Loveworth, the Australian first mate, the half-caste second mate and
myself--were seated round the cabin table. The steward had finished
setting out a substantial little lunch and the Reverend Horatio,
having put one of his favourite records into the gramophone, was just
winding it up, when Boraki, without a word even to his companions,
sprang lightly to the top of the cabin stairs and shouted to his men in
Marquesan--a language that was understood by every one on the boat but
myself--to tie up the sailors. Regaining the cabin floor at a single
bound, he swung quickly with a mineral water bottle on the heads of the
first and second mates before either of those unfortunates was clear of
his chair. My own head struck the cabin lamp a sharp blow as I lurched
up out of my swivel seat, and I was already half dazed when Boraki's
hard-swung bludgeon landed on my temple and dropped me like a log
across the second mate. My last recollection was of one of the chiefs,
muffled in Loveworth's long black coat-tails, trying to pinion the
missionary's powerful legs, while the other brown rascal tore at the
clerical stock in an effort to find an effective place to choke. I am
indebted to Boraki for most of what followed.

"Giving each of our prostrate bodies a prod with his toe to assure
himself that they were really as limp as they looked, Boraki perched on
the corner of the table and divided his time between eating chocolate
wafers and giving his henchmen gratuitous tips on the way to hold down
a struggling missionary. It was an even thing for a while, Boraki
avers; the prettiest kind of a fight. But when the man who had stroked
Oxford for three consecutive years finally threw off his assailants
and made a break for the deck and fighting room, the wily pirate felt
that it was time to take a hand himself. Without descending from his
comfortable cross-legged perch on the snowy table-cloth, he leaned
forward as the fugitive dashed by and coolly planted his water bottle
just aft Loveworth's right ear, sending the stout-hearted missionary
down alongside his officers in the shambles on the floor.

"Leaving his companions to tie up the prisoners, Boraki, munching at a
mixed fistful of eclairs and canned salmon, sauntered forward to see
all made snug in that part of the ship. Five minutes later, his head
crowned with Loveworth's waste-basket--a cast iron imitation of a top
hat--and puffing contentedly at a Perfecto, he had taken his station at
the wheel and with the skill of a born sailor was guiding the _Southern
Cross_ in through the maze of shoals that surrounded his island.

"The run in was a dead beat to windward, the sun was pitilessly hot,
and by the time the schooner's anchor went rattling down into the
rose coral floor of Makatea lagoon Boraki's kingly head, under its
sixteen-pound iron crown, was buzzing like the Trade-wind in the palm
fronds. His blood seemed turned to boiling water and the words of the
final orders that he tried to speak rattled together in his throat like
the rustle of dead banana leaves, so that he had to make his meaning
clear by signs. What wonder, then, that not even a hundred-yards-square
of close-packed canoes, from each of which issued shouts of acclamation,
could hold him when, from the cool, dark depth of the cabin, came the
ringing Marquesan equivalent of 'Rum ho!'

"Boraki crossed the cockpit in one bound, negotiated the companionway
in another, and with a third hurdled the prostrate forms of the
prisoners and landed between his two faithful lieutenants who, after
bootlessly ransacking the schooner from stem to stern, had at last
discovered the wine lockers underneath the starboard transoms in the
cabin.

"Boraki was vaguely aware that each of his men was holding up a
cool-looking green bottle, through the wonderful gold network of which
could be seen a beautiful golden liquid that bubbled and flashed and
jumped up and down and seemed quite as impatient to get out and run
down his burning throat as he was to have it do so. In the lockers
below stretched endless lines of similar flashing bottles, and each
line, to the chief's inflamed imagination, seemed long enough to link
the lagoon of Makatea to the moon with a golden chain. He wondered how
long it would take him to drink them all dry.

"But why this terrible delay? Wouldn't these fools ever set the nectar
free and extinguish the flames that were licking up his insides? They
were letting him die while they sought for a white man's 'pull-pull' to
loosen the plugs with! What need was there for a 'pull-pull' anyhow?
He would show them how the thing should be done, and, suiting the
action to the word, the impatient chief seized a bottle in each hand
and deftly opened the two at once by knocking their heads together.

"What else he opened at the same time Boraki probably never thoroughly
understood, and so he was the readier to believe Loveworth when that
keen opportunist told him solemnly that it was the Gate of Hell.
After that point had been impressed upon him, his alarmed query as to
whether or not all the devils who had come out when the Gate opened
had returned was a perfectly natural one. He said that the only thing
he clearly remembered was a feeling of wonder that the heads of the
beautiful bottles should knock off so easily, and that his first
recollection after that was of crying out because he thought some one
was raking off his face with a comb made of shark-hooks. As a matter of
fact the incidents alluded to were separated by more than an hour of
time, and the shark-hook comb sensation was caused by the well-meant
efforts of the first and second mates to remove the cast iron hat from
Boraki's head with the aid of a hammer, file and cold chisel.

"When the roughly opened bottles of 'Extra Spry' kicked downward and
set off the whole mine in the lockers the henchmen were only slammed
across to the opposite side of the cabin and deposited, senseless,
against the china closet; but the king himself, caught bending over,
received the full force of the explosion upon the chest and was shot
like a rocket against the ceiling. By the impact, his iron hat, while
it probably saved him from a fractured skull, was driven through flesh
and cartilage squarely down upon his shoulders, fitting so closely that
only a rust hole in the crown saved its wearer from a speedy smothering.
Surely no other king in history, so securely crowned, ever furnished so
graphic an illustration of the 'Uneasy lies the head' adage.

"Ten seconds after the explosion, out of all the horde that had swarmed
over her, not a Makatean who could help himself remained aboard the
_Southern Cross_, and in less than that many minutes not a canoe cut
the waters of the lagoon and no man, woman or child was stirring in the
village. Huddled in their houses, the whole population was awaiting in
fear and trembling the moment when the devil ship would reopen with
its invisible cannon.

"The terror of the people was increased a hundredfold when a man
who, watching at the sky-light of the cabin, had been stunned by the
explosion, came floundering madly ashore a half hour later and ran
from house to house telling in broken speech how he had seen the white
men--whom they had all beheld lying bound and lifeless on the cabin
floor--rise up and begin driving spikes through King Boraki's head.
Never was clay laid ready to the hand of the moulder more plastic than
was the outlaw community of Makatea at this moment; nor was ever man
better qualified to make the most of the situation than the Reverend
Horatio Loveworth.

"Lying on the floor, as we had been, the explosion, far from doing us
injury, in the stiff jolt it gave our battered frames only hastened our
return to consciousness. Loveworth was the first to slip the napkins
which bound his wrists. Dazed as he was, the good chap yet had the
presence of mind to make the three of us who were still tied promise to
refrain from murdering Boraki and his fellows before he would assist
us in freeing our bonds. To hold the mates to their promises, once their
hands were free to rove over the swelling mounds that marked the
spots where the pirate's hard-swung water bottle had fallen, was a more
difficult matter. They helped me truss up the henchmen and release the
sailors, but enlisting them in actual relief work was a task so well nigh
hopeless that Loveworth gave it up in despair after a few minutes of
entreaty and began alone. It was the muffled gurglings and convulsive
wrigglings set going by his first tug at the iron plug that finally brought
the belligerents into line, they scenting in the vigorous application of
'first aid' measures a possible means of accomplishing their end without
bringing about an open rupture with the missionary, to whom they were
greatly devoted. Considering the zeal with which they set about their
errand of mercy, and their manner of wielding the tools in the delicate
operation of chipping Boraki's head out of the iron hat, there was no
difficulty in locating the source of the fugitive Makatean's spike-driving
story.

"One of the king's first questions after he had been informed that
it was the Gate of Hell that had swung on him was, not unnaturally,
as to whether or not the Gate swung very often like that, and, if it
did, when the next swinging was likely to occur. When he was told that
this was only a special swinging directly occasioned by his shameless
treachery, and that, anyhow, the danger was one that never threatened
good Christians, he was silent for a space, and then asked, with
apparent irrelevance, what had become of the green bottles.

"'Gone to----' began the mate in an angry roar, the realization of
an almost personal loss suddenly assailing him--'the other side of the
Gate,' gently concluded the Reverend Horatio after checking the
obstreperous Australian's threatened outburst of profanity with an
upraised hand.

"'Then teach me and my people how to remain on this side of the Gate,'
gasped Boraki hoarsely, as he sank back with a shiver among the silk
sofa cushions which supported his battered frame.

"So it came to pass that when the king had rested for a while we put
the Crown and Anchor banner of the Missionary Society in his hands,
propped him up in the stern sheets of the starboard lifeboat with one
of his faithful henchmen on either side, and sent him ashore, rowed by
a volunteer crew of the least hurt of the sailors.

"'Tell your people,' shouted Loveworth as the boat gained headway under
a lengthening stroke, 'that you have come back from the Gate of Hell
to help me guide them out of the darkness into the light and to life
everlasting. If they are ready to accept the teaching, hoist the flag
in front of your council house.'

"Boraki heard and nodded vigorously with the gory cylinder that served
him as a head.

"The referendum was accomplished in record time, for in less than
five minutes from the moment the boat touched the beach we saw a man
dart out of a side portal of Boraki's palm-leaf palace and run like
mad to the foot of the lopped-off coconut tree that stood before the
long turtle-backed council house. With straining eyes, we saw him
clamber, monkey-like, up the lofty stump, caught the flashes of a
furiously-swung hammer, and then, snapping exultantly in the whistling
south-east Trade, the flag of the golden Crown and Anchor streamed out
from the official flag-pole of Makatea. The people had made their choice.

"No sooner was his beloved banner out to the breeze than Loveworth,
taking with him the disgusted second mate, put off for the beach in the
whaleboat to catch at its flood the tide of fortune which had at last
begun to set so strongly in his favour. The mate and I went below to
take stock of the wreck in the cabin.

"'S'elp me Father Neptune, I'd give a month's pay to the new mission
to know what it was that knocked them bloomin' pirates into the shape
we woke up to find 'em in,' said the mate musingly, sinking down with
a sigh of relief upon the undisturbed cushions of a port transom.
'P'raps they took liberties with a bunch o' rockets or a keg o' powder;
only there ain't no fire marks nowhere. All the booze smashed up, too.
Wonder who's at the bottom of it, anyhow. Eh! What? Who spoke? You,
Capt'n? No. Oh, you, old Tinhorn. My word, but you gave me a turn.
"_God_," you sez. That's what Pilot Loveworth sez, too, and p'raps it's
true; but what gets me is how He done it. You wasn't laid out with a
crack on the nut, old Tinhorn; tell us how it happened.'

"'_Brrr--in a mysterious way--brrr_,' came the droning answer, leaving
us no wiser than before.

"The jolt of the mate's weary body had thrown over the half-shifted
lever of the already wound-up gramophone, which had been abandoned on
the transom by Loveworth when he turned to receive the first onslaught
of Boraki's henchmen, and the record had commenced to spin. The
sounding-box floundered like a squirrel on its wheel as the black disc,
scarred and littered from the explosion, whirled beneath the needle, and
it chanced that the only intelligible words that came from the horn in
the first few moments were those which the astonished mate had, for an
instant, taken as answers to his conjectures.

"After learning that the deed had been done in a mysterious way, all
we could make out between the '_zrrrs_' and '_bzzzs_' which followed
was that whoever had done the deed had performed wonders, to which the
mate naïvely replied that he had perceived as much at the outset, but
that now he was seeking enlightenment as to how the wonders had been
performed.

"The needle steeple-chased for a couple of circuits after that without
communicating anything relevant, following which, suddenly and without
warning, it came out of the woods onto a stretch of smooth, undamaged
going. Then, in the clear, flute-like tenor of 'Harry McMurtry,
Columbophone Record,' came the words of Loveworth's favourite hymn--

     'God moves in a mysterious way
     His wonders to perform.'

"The missionary, who was kneeling on the beach invoking a blessing on
the heads of the terrified wretches who had come pouring from their
houses to grovel at his feet, told me afterwards that the words came
floating down to him across the still waters of the lagoon like a voice
from the other world.

"That was all the comment that the only English-speaking witness of the
miracle wrought by 'Hum's Extra Spry' was destined ever to make, for at
the beginning of the next lap the needle went into an incipient crack and
split the record down the middle. The two pieces, together with the
scarred fragments of a cast iron top hat, are still preserved by
Loveworth in the little coral mission at Makatea."

       *       *       *       *       *

The green bottle on Carew's chair arm had been tilted with increasing
frequency as his story approached its climax, and for the last fifteen
or twenty minutes, save for short spells when he had rallied to explain
this or that phenomenon, he had talked with a far-away expression in
his eyes, as one who visualizes and describes what he sees. He roused
somewhat at the ripple of applause which greeted the end of the yarn,
but he made his adieux like a man in a dream, and his gaze was blank
and vacant as he lurched unsteadily down the gangway to the _Clio's_
launch.

That was the last we ever saw of the Honourable "Slope" Carew. He
sailed next day in the _Clio_ to pilot that gunboat to an unmarked
rock somewhere to the north-west which was to be blown up or charted.
A year later, while in Australia, I read in a Noumea dispatch to the
Sydney _Morning Herald_ that he had shot himself on the lawn of the
Cercle Militaire in a fit of melancholia following a night of absinthe
drinking.



CHAPTER XX

SUVA TO HONOLULU


At five o'clock in the afternoon of the 2nd of July we weighed anchor
and slipped from the quietness of Suva harbour out into a roystering
east wind that was playing all manner of strange pranks with the placid
sea we had come in through a week previously. For steep, short seas and
uncomfortable small-schooner weather, nothing quite equals one of these
reef-locked stretches of the south-west Pacific with a stiff blow on.
The ever-imminent bottom, constantly dragging on the waves, retards
them below and lets them keep going above, producing seas something
between ocean swells and lines of surf. Sailing with seas of this
description coming anywhere forward of the beam is like tobogganing on
an uncleared mountainside.

Hardly was the yacht clear of the harbour before we were forced to
begin shortening canvas, and by eight o'clock double reefs had been
tied in the mainsail and foresail and the bonnet taken out of the
forestay-sail. Even then she made bad weather of it. She would make a
terrific leap skyward, almost standing on her rudder in an effort to
clear an advancing wave, and then crash thunderingly down and bore her
nose deep into the green water of the next sea before her bows began
lifting again. There was not a great deal of weight behind the seas
and they did little damage; but all night long they shook the yacht as
a terrier does a rat, carried away a couple of boat-loads of fresh fruit
contributed by our Suva friends, and made sleeping an impossibility.
By morning a falling wind and sea made it possible to shake the reefs
out of the foresail and put the bonnet back into the forestay-sail, but
the mainsail languished all day with the most of its length along the
boom.

Early in the morning of the 4th the yacht crossed the 180th Meridian,
carrying us back to West Longitude. Regarding the unusual sequence of
days on this occasion the "Ladies' Log" has the following entry under
date of July 3rd:

"Yesterday it was Sunday, the 3rd; today, from twelve P. M. to four A.
M., it was the Fourth of July. Then we crossed the 180th Meridian, and
it was again Sunday, the 3rd. Tomorrow we will have a continuation of
the Fourth which we started this morning. This figures out at one and
five-sixths Sundays and one and one-sixth Fourths of July, making a
total of three complete and consecutive holidays on which, according to
nautical custom, the cook must provide us with 'duff.'"

Levity of the "Ladies' Log" aside, the coincidence was a most
remarkable one.

It was possibly the first fragment of the Fourth struggling to join
forces with the unbroken one that followed which caused an hour's
diversion on the morning of the latter which was quite sufficient in
itself to stand for an Independence Day celebration. The wind had been
light but steady from E.S.E. all day, and when darkness fell there was
nothing in the smooth sea, clear sky and high barometer to point any
reason for not carrying the light sails all night. An easy nine miles
an hour was averaged all through the first watch, and a freshening
of the breeze shortly after the sounding of midnight had ushered in the
Fourth was responsible for better than ten miles being run in the hour
immediately following. Shortly after one o'clock the breeze, quite
without warning, suddenly fell light, and all in a minute the
celebration was on. What it was we managed to agree upon the next
morning, and as to why it was the coming day also brought considerable
enlightenment; how it was depended largely upon one's viewpoint, and no
two of us appear to have seen it quite in the same way. I, sleeping on
a cabin transom when the thing happened, can merely set down my own
impressions.

With the startling distinctness with which the slightest sound above
makes itself heard in the quiet spaces between decks, I noted how
the rustle of the seas along the sides died down as the breeze fell
light, heard the banging of blocks, the flap of sails, the slatting of
lines, and presently the buzz of voices in puzzled conjecture. Then a
low, grinding roar, like the distant sound of a dry-snow avalanche,
began filling the air, and instantly the sharp, incisive voice of the
Commodore cut in, shouting an interminable string of orders.
Suddenly the sound of the voices changed to gasping snarls, the
boom of boots on the deck to far-away rat-a-tats, and the whole of
the outside Universe seemed to resolve itself into one huge roar.
Then a great, big, solid something struck the yacht and all of the
staterooms lay down on their sides, the lamps swung up and lay
down against the ceiling, and everything movable jumped out and
lay down on the port berths and transoms. A trunk broke loose
from its lashings under the cabin table and slid down to mingle
with a typewriter, a phonograph, a couple of hundred of the latter's
loose records, and, incidentally, myself. Shortly a starboard
bookcase vomited its contents into the shambles, and a big bunch
of flags-of-all-nations, unrolling as it came, leaped out to lend a
festal touch to the glad occasion. And over all, through open skylight
and companionway, poured floods of brine to keep down the dust.

Time and again the yacht struggled to sit up, and as often settled
shudderingly back on her side. Finally, the muffled snarl of orders
forced from a wind-stopped throat cut down through the roar, to be
followed by a scurrying on deck--tiny and distant like the scrambling
of mice over paper--and the cabin leaped suddenly halfway up and hung
there quivering as though balanced on its corner. Then, as some one ran
forward the slide and jammed together the doors of the companionway,
came the tense voice of the Commodore, gasping above the wind:

"Tumble up lively, you there below! Come a-runnin' an' len' a hand
'fore the sticks go out o' 'er!" Then, more indistinctly as his face
was turned, "Le' go, there forrard; le' go!"

A moment later the cabin gave another jump back toward the normal, this
time straightening up enough to give me a chance to burrow out from
under a stack of phonograph records and crawl along the side of the
port transom to the stairs.

I have a distinct memory of how my head was bumped twice in gaining
the deck--once against the storm doors of the companionway and once
against the wind. The air, which was rushing by as though all the
atmosphere of the Universe was trying to crowd itself along the deck of
the yacht, felt as tangible as a solid stream of water, and so mixed was
it with water, in fact, that there was no telling where the surface of
the sea left off and the air commenced. The hard-driven drops stung
like sleet, and the act of breathing with the face turned to windward
was a sheer impossibility.

Still heeling heavily, and with mainsail dragging over her port side
like the trailing wing of a wounded bird, the yacht scudded off before
the wind. Withal she was making good weather of it, and even before
the coming of the rain marked the passing of the centre of the squall
we had the main-boom amidships and the troublesome mainsail hauled
aboard. The deck was a fathom deep in flapping sails and up forward a
water-butt and a salt beef barrel were having a lively game of tag, but
neither of the boats had started its lashings and none of the skylights
was smashed. Most of the damage was done to the storm-tossed
contents of the cabin. By daybreak the deck was cleared and the yacht,
under all-plain sail, headed again on her north-westerly course.

Our "Independence Day Celebration," as we afterwards had explained to
us in Honolulu, was what is commonly referred to in the South Pacific
as a "leeward squall." This phenomenon is met with only among
volcanic islands high enough to allow the wind to draw around them and
meet again in "twisters" a few miles to leeward. If the wind holds steady
from one direction this ordinarily makes little trouble, but if it
chances to haul two or three points ahead when a ship is passing a high
island the squall which comes boring in from leeward may take her aback
with disastrous results. Trading captains passing under the lee of
islands of this description always go under shortened sail. Light sails
of all kinds are unpopular in the South Pacific--one never sees a trading
schooner with a topmast on the fore, and not all carry them on the main.

It was a "leeward squall" of unusual force that _Lurline_ encountered
on the morning of the Fourth of July, and considering the fact that,
with the exception of her foretopsail, she was carrying all the sail
she had, the Commodore's work in bringing her through unharmed was
creditable in the extreme. From so unexpected a quarter did the squall
appear that only the briefest space was allowed for preparation; yet
in these two or three minutes all hands were called, the maintopmast
staysail and maingafftopsail were lowered to the deck, the jib-topsail
and flying jib hauled down and furled, the ship put about on the other
tack, the jib furled, and men stationed at the halyards fore and aft.
All of this was accomplished before the squall struck, which then left
nothing to do but let go the halyards when it became apparent that the
force of the wind was too great for the yacht to stand up under. With
the wind coming as it was, it was impossible to prevent the mainsail's
falling in the water.

By the afternoon of the Fourth we were out of sight of the last of the
Fijis and again dependent on observations for our position. It was our
intention to call in at Fanning Island on our way to Hawaii, to which
end the yacht was kept headed north-east whenever possible, a course
two points more easterly than the direct one to Honolulu. With a light
south-east wind 119 miles were run up to noon of the 5th, soon after
which a shift to N.N.E. forced us to go about and head nearly due east
all afternoon. Toward dark it fell calm and but three miles were run
between six o'clock and midnight. By the 6th the wind was back to
south-east, but blowing with little force, the run to noon of that day
being but forty-five miles.

[Illustration: A FIJIAN WARRIOR]

[Illustration: REEFING THE MAINSAIL]

[Illustration: UNTYING A REEF IN THE MAINSAIL]

A strong westerly current began making itself felt about this
time--Lat. 14° 06' South, and Long. 176° 04' West--which gradually
worked more to the north as we approached the Line. On the 6th it set
us eighteen miles to the west; on the 7th, twenty miles to W.N.W.;
on the 8th, eighteen miles to N.W.; and on the next four days from
twenty-four to thirty miles to N.N.W. This was considerably more of a
current than the Sailing Directions indicate for those latitudes.

In the forenoon of the 7th the wind hauled to the north-east, blowing
strong from that direction until four in the afternoon, when, without
abating in strength, it went back to east. Toward midnight a heavy
squall struck the yacht, and while furling the jib a foot rope gave
way under Bill, a big Dane of the mate's watch, and only a lucky grab
at the bobstay saved him from being swept away. The yacht put her
nose under a couple of feet of green water at the same instant Bill
went down, giving him a fearful ducking, but the plucky fellow
swung up to the bowsprit the moment it arose from the sea and
finished his work without a murmur.

On the 8th, 9th and 10th the wind continued fresh but persisted in
shifting back and forth in heavy rain-squalls between east and
north-east, making it impossible to hold one course for more than
an hour or two at a time. The runs for these days were 127, 125
and 126 miles, respectively. On the 9th and 10th we passed straight
through the middle of the Union Group, but so far from any of the
islands that their presence was indicated only by the sight of an
occasional land bird. This group is composed only of low atolls which
are but sparsely wateredand thinly inhabited. On the 11th the sky
was completely overcast, making observations impossible, and the
day was one long succession of baffling winds and fierce rain-squalls.
This succeeded to a dead calm, the yacht lying all night with the
booms hauled amidships and the sails furled.

In the middle of the forenoon of the 12th the yacht sailed under a
black cornucopia-shaped cloud which we had been watching for some
time as it lay in wait across our path. As we ran into the misty tail,
which hung so low as to seem almost dragging in the sea, a veritable
deluge of water broke upon us. The downpour was so fierce as to
threaten for a while to break in the skylights and flood the cabins.
The water accumulated so fast on the deck that the scuppers would
not carry it off, and when the rain was falling heaviest the cockpit
was flooded a foot deep. The cataclysm ceased as quickly as it had
commenced, not by passing on like an ordinary squall, but simply by
exhausting its fount. By the time the air was clear of water the black
cloud had drawn up into itself and disappeared.

After four more days of variable winds, at four in the morning of the
16th, we crossed the Equator in Long. 163° 07'. The wind was fresh
from E.N.E. and the air (82°) and the water (80°) were each a degree
cooler than for several days. The evening was marked by an unusually
brilliant sunset.

Neither our rate of progress to this point, nor the course we had
travelled, were all that might have been desired. On the 12th we made
but forty miles and on the three following days an average of about
140 miles each. The course approximated N.N.E., all of two points to
the leeward of the direct track to Fanning Island.

To noon of the 17th there was a run of 161 miles, which placed us due
east of Fanning Island and at a distance of about 150 miles. The next
twenty-four hours were spent in beating in short tacks against a wind
which had settled itself contentedly to blow straight down our course.
By noon of the 18th, having gained but sixty-two miles in the day's
run, we gave up trying to make Fanning Island and slacked off sheets
for Honolulu. Twelve hours later the wind, blowing half a gale, had
hauled up to north-east, forcing us to close-reef mainsail and foresail
and head off to N. by W.

Washington Island, lying in about Lat. 5° North, and Long. 160° West,
the only land we sighted between Fiji and Hawaii, was on the horizon
for several hours of the 19th. The wind continued as fitful as south of
the Equator. By keeping the yacht close-hauled all the time we usually
managed to hold her on the right side of N. by E., the course to
Honolulu, but it was a rough, slap-bang, ding-dong task. Of this period
the "Ladies' Log," under date of July 20th, records as follows:

"_Lurline_ might have been mistaken for a coral island last night,
so thick were the reefs upon her. 'The sea is going down,' cries the
Commodore cheerily early in the evening. 'Ay,' answers the mate;
'most of it is going down through the galley skylight.' And sure
enough it was. Contrary winds are forcing us to make considerable
westing and the heavy sea cuts down our speed, the main element in
linear progression. Reefs were shaken out at eight this morning and
tied in again at seven this evening, the constant succession of one to
the other during the last few days eliciting the suggestion from the
mate that the reefs had best be padlocked in and the key thrown
away."

Most of the following week was spent in reefing and unreefing and
tacking this way and that at the caprice of the wind. The sea was heavy
most of the time and the progress slow, the best days' runs being those
of the 23rd and 24th, when 147 and 142 miles, respectively, were made.
On none of the other days was there a run of over 100 miles, and on
the 21st only fifty-one was marked up. On the 27th, though 150 miles
west of the high island of Hawaii, we cut into the tip of the windless
triangle which lies under the lee of its 13,000-foot peaks and for
several hours floated without steerageway. When we got the wind again
in the afternoon it was noticed at once that the log was acting in an
eccentric manner, and on investigation its blades were found to be bent
and twisted and heavily scarred, apparently by the teeth of some large
fish.

At four o'clock in the afternoon of the 28th the green peaks of Oahu
were sighted on the weather bow, distant sixty-five miles. With a light
east wind the yacht averaged between four and five knots during the
night and at four A. M. was six miles off the Barber Point Light, which
bore N. by W. This was some miles to the leeward of Honolulu, and four
hours of beating were necessary to bring us opposite the entrance. Here
we were boarded by the pilot at eight o'clock, and a few minutes later
the tug, _Fearless_, dispatched through the courtesy of the Spreckels
Company, passed a line to the yacht and towed her in. We anchored in
Rotten Row, with mooring lines made fast to the identical old man-of-war
boilers from which they had been cast loose on our departure for the
Marquesas, four months previously.

From the sailing standpoint this run was the most unsatisfactory of
the voyage. Twenty-seven days were required to cover 3000 miles, an
average of but little over a hundred miles a day. Practically all of
this time the yacht was close-hauled, and a total of at least three
days was spent in tiresome beating against a wind which blew straight
from our destination. It is possible that two or three days might have
been saved had we made a fair wind of the south-east Trades instead of
keeping close-hauled in an endeavour to make Fanning Island; but this
is by no means certain, as the easting gained at this time stood us in
good stead when the north-east Trades were encountered.



CHAPTER XXI

HONOLULU TO SAN PEDRO


The two weeks spent ashore during _Lurline's_ return visit to Honolulu
were a welcome respite from the four months of unbroken life on
shipboard that had preceded them. The absence of the passengers
was taken advantage of to give the yacht a thorough overhauling in
preparation for the long, hard beat back to San Pedro, especial care
being taken in the renewal of the running rigging. Moreover, as we were
scheduled for a short stop at Hilo and confidently expected to run down
with a fair wind and arrive there all ready to receive calls, unusual
attention was given to brasswork and hardwood. Thus our plans; how
they worked out will appear presently.

On the evening of August 4th the Royal Hawaiian Yacht Club gave a
banquet for the _Lurline_ party, among other amenities of the occasion
being the election of the Commodore to an honorary life membership in
that organization. In his speech of acceptance the Commodore dwelt at
some length on the ideal sailing conditions existent in the Trades
latitudes of both North and South Pacific, and suggested as a means of
bringing those waters more closely to the attention of coast yachtsmen,
the inauguration of an annual race, in one direction or other, between
Honolulu and a California port. The idea was not entirely a new one
to Hawaiian yachtsmen, but the Commodore's assurance of the hearty
co-operation of the South Coast Yacht Club of San Pedro gave the
movement an impetus which resulted in the establishment of the
Trans-Pacific Yacht Race as a regular biennial fixture. Too much credit
cannot be given to the people of Hawaii, both in and out of yachting
circles, for the enthusiastic sportsmanship which has made this, the
only regular deep-sea yacht race that is sailed in any part of the world,
an accomplished fact.

At this banquet, also, were arranged the details for a match race
between two old rivals, Tom Hobron's sloop, _Gladys_, and Clarence
McFarlane's schooner, _La Paloma_. It was decided that the yachts
should run down to Lahina, on the island of Maui, remain there for a
day or two and then race back to Honolulu. As the date of the start,
August 10th, about coincided with that on which we were planning
to sail for Hilo, and as Lahina was but little off our course, the
opportunity of following the race seemed too good to neglect.
Accordingly a party of our friends was asked to accompany us, and
preparations made to start the ball rolling with a musical send-off
in Honolulu and stop it, at the disembarkation of our guests in
Lahina, with fireworks. On the arrival of the racers at Lahina--of
course _Lurline_ would arrive first--our friends were to go ashore
and await the steamer, while we proceeded on to Hilo. Never was
a schedule more carefully elaborated--even the gastronomical
preferences of each individual guest were consulted--and never did
a party of pleasure-seekers board a yacht with such firm
intentions--expressed and implied--of enjoying, unmixedly and
uninterruptedly, a really good time.

The water-front was gay with flags and black with people when, early
in the afternoon of the 10th, we hove up anchor and filled away for
the passage, following in the wakes of _Gladys_ and _La Paloma_. It
was "_Aloha, Aloha Nui_," from every pier and dock and bulkhead,
that we passed as we stood down the bay, and "_Aloha, Aloha_," from
every tug and schooner. At the landing of the boat club, at the inner
end of the passage, was a big crowd of friends with the band, and
from there the "_Alohas_" again burst forth as we sailed smartly by,
running at an easy five or six-knot gait before a light but steady
breeze.

As the yacht entered the passage and made her first curtesy to the
ocean swell, the band struck up _Aloha-oe_, and the crowd, falling
silent for the moment, vented its feelings in a flood of waving
handkerchiefs. Simultaneously, a similar muslin broadside flashed
forth in reply from the port side of the speeding yacht, and then,
with friends looking in the eyes of friends and the whole affair--even
to the music--going off as smoothly and dramatically as Lohengrin's
Farewell in an end-of-the-season performance, the lashing of the
fishing-tackle block on the forestay parted and let the anchor and
thirty-five fathoms of chain slide back into the sea.

An atmosphere histrionic gave way to one profanely sulphurous, for
in addition to spoiling the dramatic effect of our departure, the
contretemps left the yacht in a really awkward position. The wheel
was thrown hard down and mainsail and foresail sheets let go with all
possible dispatch, but not in time to prevent her from rollicking on to
the limit of her cable and bringing up short like a colt at the end of
its tether. Then she swung round, head to the wind, and began
tugging at her anchor as a colt tugs at its halter in trying to slip it
over its ears. While the sailors wound away on the winch in the thin,
blue smoke that still hovered forward--the mate had lost a good deal
of cuticle from the inside of his hand in trying to check the run of the
cable--our amiable guests brought up sofa pillows on the quarter deck
and, making megaphones of their hands, held long and animated
conversations with their friends on the landing of the boat club.

Getting under way in the narrow passage was by no means a simple
operation, but, thanks largely to a favourable set of current, it was
accomplished without accident. _Gladys_ and _La Paloma_ were
something more than hull down to the south by the time _Lurline_ was
clear of the reef, but with a fair wind, which was increasing steadily as
we worked from under the lee of the land, it was hoped to overcome
their lead in time to give our guests a good view of the race. _Lurline_
gained rapidly while daylight lasted, and by the time the banners of
a brilliant sunset fluttered low in the west and Tantalus disappeared
behind the dusky pall of the coming night we seemed in a fair way to
accomplish our purpose.

Never was there such a night; never so jolly a yachting party. The
slow-heaving sea, bathed in a flood of moonlight, was a-dazzle in
dimples of liquid, lucent gold; the sky was a star-set vault of purple,
and the breeze, milk-warm and redolent of the smell of some distant,
flower-clothed valley, a caress from heaven. The temper of the party
matched the night.

Dinner was a huge success. There were a few negligible incidentals
of the soup, fish, roast and salad order, preliminary to a huge feast of
preserves made of every known variety of Hawaiian fruit from mangoes
to mummy-apples, sugared down in jars at all known stages of ripeness
and unripeness. These, with countless boxes of candy and fresh fruit,
were the contributions of our guests and their friends. And how we did
eat, and drink each other's healths, and with what acclamation agree that,
never since the voyage of the Argonauts, had cruise been so auspiciously
begun. Banjos and _ukuleles_ were a-twang and a-tinkle on the after
deck, accordions and a bugle wailed and brayed from the forecastle, and
through it all ran a fog-horn obligato played by a festive Hawaiian miss
who had unearthed that instrument of torture from the lazarette.

About ten o'clock the wind died down and the yacht, deprived of its
steadying influence, fell more and more under the disturbing sway of
the swinging swells from the channel. Before long a decided current
became apparent, running with the seas and setting us rapidly toward
the rocks of Makapu-u Point. At midnight Diamond Head Light, which is
arranged so as to change colour to the ship passing shoreward of the
danger line, showed ominously in a solid beam of warning red. And still
the yacht continued to drift, with the land looming higher and the
threatening roar of the surf on the reef growing louder every minute.

From rolling but gently when she first dropped the wind, the
yacht, in the wrench of the steeper seas nearer shore, was shortly
executing a _pas seul_ of singular intricacy and animation; so that
our guests--frankly, openly and unfeignedly seasick, every one of
them--from a half hour of fear that they were going to be cast
on the reef and drowned, relapsed into an indefinite period in which
they were afraid that perhaps nothing of so felicitous a nature was
going to befall after all. Bundling the sufferers below as gently as the
exigency permitted, the boats were cleared and swung out ready for
launching. Towing off, in the face of swells and current so persistent,
held scant promise of success, but we were about to try it as a last
expedient when the sails began filling with vagrant puffs from an
awakening Trade-wind, and we slacked off sheets and got away
without putting it to the test.

The rest of the night we spent in crabbing across the lumpy channel,
to come out in the grey dawn upon a windless patch of swell and
current-churned water in the lee of Molokai which, of all the
fiend-infested corners of the Seven Seas, is the spot most accursed.
Steep, viciously-heaving humps of water, wallowing without rhythm or
reason, wrangled angrily to see which could pitch or roll the yacht
farthest in its own particular direction. She was like a kitten thrown
to a pack of hungry hounds. They pulled her, hauled her, rolled her,
dragged her, tossed her on high and trampled her underfoot. Not all
the other rough-and-rowdy intervals of the whole cruise crowded into
a single day could have compared with it for the sheer discomfort
it imposed. All but two of the sailors, and the cook as well, were
violently seasick. Only a couple of us of the regular guard of
_Lurline_ were holding up our heads, and the guests were a unit of
prostrate despair. Not a bed or a bunk on the yacht was tenantable in
the fearful rollings; no bed or bunk less than a covered box could have
been. Everything not screwed or lashed into place--and even many
objects which had been thus secured--sought the lowest level, and a
survey of the cabin, looking forward from the foot of the companionway,
suggested something between a tableau of the aftermath of Belshazzar's
Feast and the Kishneff massacres staged in a secondhand store. Banjos,
ukuleles, fog-horn, no longer thrilling to the touch of the revellers,
complained intermittently with muffled chords of protest as they rolled
drunkenly to port and starboard with the lurches of the yacht. And as for
the revellers themselves--but the Hand of Charity throws the Helm of
Description hard-a-lee and sends me off before the Wind of Pity on
another tack.

We have since estimated that this slap-banging ten hours of "devil and
the deep sea" in the lee of Molokai did more damage to the yacht's
rigging than all of the four months of cruising south of the Line.
Most of this became apparent in subsequent overhaulings; at the time
the principal trouble arose through the repeated carrying away of the
boom-tackle. This happened four times: once through the splitting of
the block, a flying fragment of which narrowly missed decapitating
the man at the wheel; once through the tearing loose of the cleat on
the boom; twice through the breaking of the wire lashing on the boom.
How the yacht escaped being racked to pieces in the crazy tug-of-war
between the keel, on the one side, trying to hold her to the normal,
and on the other the waves, savagely bent on throwing her on her beam's
ends or standing her on bowsprit or rudder, has always remained a
mystery to us.

At four in the afternoon a light breeze sprang up from the south. We
were still somewhat nearer to Honolulu than Lahina, which, with the
fact that the wind was fair to the former port and dead ahead to the
latter, quickly decided us as to what our course would be. Under
all-plain lower sail we made the thirty-two miles to Diamond Head in
three hours and a half, only to fail--probably on account of the hour--in
our endeavour to attract a pilot. Finally we were forced to lower a boat,
which, with some difficulty, got through the reef at Waikiki and landed
a man to telephone for a tug. The _Waterwitch_ came out in due time
and towed the yacht to her old anchorage in Rotten Row. Our guests, as
fast as they revived, went eagerly ashore. _Gladys_ and _La Paloma_, as
we subsequently learned, after nearly going on the rocks of Rabbit
Island the same night that _Lurline_ was threatened with similar disaster
on Makapu-u Point, continued the race to Lahina, _Gladys_, as usual,
winning.

On the forenoon of the 13th, after a day spent in effecting such
renewals and repairs as were absolutely necessary, we again set sail
for the island of Hawaii. We left with the intention of proceeding to
Kawahaie, on the leeward side of the island, to pick up our friend,
Eben Low, who had a ranch in that district, and carry him on to Hilo.
A glance at the chart, however, revealed the fact that the course to
this point would expose us to possible calms in the lees of Molokai and
Maui, and the idea was promptly given up. So we sailed the windward
course, and even by that met weather which dragged out to over three
days a run which we had hoped to make in a little more than one. At
four o'clock in the afternoon of the 16th we were off Hilo harbour, but
unable to enter for lack of wind. An anchorage was finally reached at
the end of a tow-line kindly passed us by the freighter, _Charles
Councelman_.

We remained in Hilo five days, renewing old acquaintances and
allowing the crew opportunity still further to repair the ravages of that
night of accursed memory in the lee of Molokai. The bay, with its mile
or more of exposure to the north-east--the quarter of the prevailing
wind--was as uncomfortable as ever to lie in, the yacht, without sails
to steady her, rolling and pitching much of the time more violently
than in the open sea. Fortunately there was no heavy weather of the
kind that throws up a line of surf across the river entrance and makes
it impossible to land in boats for days at a time. Hilo harbour is
badly in need of extensive protective works.

Shortly before noon of the 21st of August, _Lurline_ left anchorage in
Hilo homeward bound for San Pedro. Close-hauled on the starboard
tack to a light northeast wind, we stood out of the harbour, dipping to
several steamers and sailing vessels whose crews lined up to give us
good-bye cheers as we passed. Outside the wind was coming in weighty
gusts, and a rumpled, squally-looking northeast seemed to give the
lie to a barometer that was soaring optimistically around 30.05. The
instrument had its way, however, for the squalls worked off inland in a
couple of hours, leaving us with a steady E.N.E. wind and a brilliant
fair-weather sky full of cottony Trade-clouds. At three o'clock, when
we took departure with Alia Point bearing S.W. 3/4 W., distant six
miles, a course of N.N.E. was set, to be held with scarcely a quarter
of a point's deviation for four days.

On the 23rd two steamers were sighted heading S.S. W., probably for
Honolulu. These were the first ships seen in the open sea since the
sails of a bark, hull down on the horizon, were sighted a few days
after leaving San Pedro, seven months previously. These three confused
blurs against the skyline, all of them too distant to signal, were
the nearest approach to company that _Lurline_ knew during the entire
cruise. Probably no other circumstance could so strikingly illustrate
the utter loneliness of the mid-Pacific. Anywhere south of Hawaii,
off the tracks of the two Australian-American steamship lines, the
crew of a disabled ship might float for ten years--or ten times ten
years--without smoke or sail breaking the smooth line of the horizon.

Early in the morning of the 25th the watch reported a lunar rainbow,
and all hands, fore and aft, tumbled out on deck to view the unusual
phenomenon. The full moon was shining brightly from a clear sky to the
southwest, having sunk to about thirty degrees from the horizon. Up to
the northeast a fluffy bank of dove-grey clouds were heaped half-way
to the zenith, and against this, an unbroken arch of mother-of-pearl,
the rainbow stood clearly forth. From red to violet, all the colours of
the spectrum were there just as in a solar rainbow, yet shining with a
light elusive and unearthly where the spectral hands that fashioned it
had woven a warp of moonshine into the woof of the blended iridesence.
Twice it faded and reappeared before dissolving for the last time in
the first flush of a sparkling daisy and daffodil sunrise.

For some days after leaving Hilo the wind held steadily from the
northeast, forcing us several points to the north of a direct course to
San Pedro. Crowded close on the wind all the time, the yacht made slow
headway, averaging but little better than 120 miles a day. On the 26th,
however, the wind veered to southeast, and on the three days that it
remained in that quarter runs of 143, 188 and 176 miles, respectively,
were registered. This was followed by a spell of calm, and that by a
succession of days of varying, uncertain weather and head-winds, which
held all the way to San Pedro. Most of this latter period the wind was
moderate and the sea light, as is evidenced by the fact that both fore
and main gafftopsails were carried, day and night, from the afternoon
of August 24th to the morning of September 4th, ten and a half days.

In the evening of September 3rd, at about Lat. 34° north, Long. 133°
west, we encountered our first fog, and from that time on were
hampered more or less by thick weather all the way to port, which we
reached a week later. The brilliant tropical days of sunshine and squalls
succeeded to dull temperate days of much cloudiness and little wind
and rain. Some days the fog was high and troublesome only in making
observations impossible; on others it settled down close to the sea
in banks so dense that the main truck was not visible from the deck.
On these latter occasions, though it was not likely that there was
another ship within 500 miles, prudence had the call and our little
hand-cranked fog-horn--the same that had figured in the revels of our
guests the night that the yacht nearly went on the rocks of Oahu--was
kept incessantly at work.

Between fogs and light and baffling winds, our progress for the latter
half of this traverse was slower than for any other similar period of the
voyage. On but three of the last nine days did the yacht log over 100
miles, these being the 4th of September, 153 miles, and the 8th, 150
miles. The runs for the other five days were twenty-six, forty-six,
forty-seven, eighty-seven, and sixty-seven miles, respectively. The
winds, for the most part, were northeasterly, but the comparatively
good run of the 8th was made with a very light but steady breeze from
the west.

Several land birds came aboard on the morning of the 10th, and not long
afterward the brown slopes of Santa Rosa Island took shape through the
lifting fog. The heavens were overcast all day, but for a brief space
in the afternoon a long strip of cloud ran back across the east like a
sliding door, and through the rift we had a brief glimpse of the rugged
Sierra Madres, a hundred miles distant, standing sharp and distinct in
a flood of sunshine against a vivid background of California sky.

Doing the best we could with puffs of wind that came by turn from all
points of the compass, we crept along at three or four miles an hour
until midnight. Then it fell dead calm, and during the next eight hours
the log recorded but a single mile. This was broken by a light westerly
breeze and before it, wing-and-wing, we went groping in through the
fog, watching for a land-fall that would give us our position. This
appeared at noon, when the familiar cliffs of Point Vicente began
showing in dark brown patches through the thinning mist off the port
bow, distant about five miles. Three hours later the Commodore was able
to close the log of _Lurline_ with the following entry:

     _September 11th, three P. M.--"Anchored near our old mooring
     in San Pedro outer harbour, having been away seven months and
     seven days, travelling 13,500 miles without accident or serious
     trouble."_


THE END



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Inconsistencies in the author's use of hyphens have been left
unchanged, as in the original text. Obvious printer errors have been
corrected without comment. Otherwise, the author's original spelling,
punctuation, and hyphenation have been left intact.





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