(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Atolls of the sun; with many illustrations from paintings, drawings and photographs"

fmrl 




■^tt^tt^i 



KM* 



tmtm 




■'"^ " ' 





IPresentcD to 
of tbe 

inmvereiti? of Toronto 

bs 

Bertram 1R. 2)avi0 

from tbe boofts of 

tbe late Xtonel Bavie, Ik.C. 



ATOLLS 

OF THE SUN 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/atollsofsunwithmOOobriuoft 




Photo from L. Gauthier 

Nature's mirror showed him why he could not leave 






ATOLLS 



OF THE SUN 



BY 

FREDERICK O'BRIEN 

Author of "Mystic Isles of the South Seas," "Whjte Stusows 
IN THE South Seas," etc. 



WITH MANY 

ILLUSTRATIONS 

FROM 

PAINTINGS, DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS 




TORONTO 

McClelland & stewart 

1922 



^>' 






Copyright, 1922, by 
The Centuby Co. 



PEINTBD IN U. 8. A. 



To G- 



I 



I 



FOREWORD 

"Atolls of the Sun" is a book of experiences, impres- 
sions, and dreams in the strange and lonely islands of 
the South Seas. It does not aim to be literal, or se- 
quential, though everything in it is the result of my 
wanderings in the far and mysterious recesses of the 
Pacific Ocean. 

I am not a scientist or scholar, and can relate only 
what I saw and heard, felt and imagined, in my dwell- 
ing with savage and singular races among the wonder- 
ful lagoons of the coral atolls, and poignant valleys 
of disregarded islands. 

If I can make my reader see and feel the sad and 
beautiful guises of life in them, and the secrets of a 
few unusual souls, I shall be satisfied. The thrills of 
adventure upon the sea and in the shadowy glens, the 
odors of rare and sweet flowers, the memories of lov- 
able humans, are here written to keep them alive in my 
heart, and to share them with my friends. 

Life is not real. It is an illusion, a screen upon 
which each one writes the reactions upon himself of his 
sensory knowledge. The individual is the moving 
camera, and what he calls life is his projection of the 
panorama about him — not more actual than the figures 
and storms upon the cinema screen. In this book I 
have put the film that passed through my mind in wild 
places, and among natural people. 



FOREWORD 

It is useless to look to find in the South Seas what 
I have found. It is there, glowing and true, and yet, 
as each beholder conjures a different vision of the 
human spectacle about him, each can see the islands 
of romance only by the lens life has fitted upon his soul. 

To seek a replica of experience or scenes is to spoil 
a possession. 

If this book has interest, one may read and laugh, 
be entertained or repelled with thanks that one can sit 
at ease, and watch this picture made on another's mind 
in long journeys and in many days and nights of hazard 
and delight. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

Leaving Tahiti — The sunset over Moorea — Bound for 
the Paumotu Atolls — The Schooner Marara, Flying 
Fish — Captain Jean INIoet and others aboard — 
Sighting and Landing on Niau .... 3 

CHAPTER II 

Meeting with Tommy Eustace, the trader — Strange soil 
of the atoll — A bath in the lagoon — Momuni, the 
thirsty bread baker — OfF for Anaa ... 23 

CHAPTER III 

Perilous navigation — Curious green sky — Arrival at 
Anaa — Religion and the movies — Character of Pau- 
motuans ........ 40 

CHAPTER IV 

The copra market — Dangerous passage to shore at 
Kaukura — Our boat overturns in the pass — I nar- 
rowly escape death — ^Josephite Missionaries — The 
deadly nohu — The himene at night ... 58 

CHAPTER V 

Captain Moet tells of Mapuhi, the great Paumotuan — 
Kopcke tells about women — Virginie's jealousy — 
An affrighting waterspout — The wrecked ship — 
Landing at Takaroa ...... 80 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER VI 

Diffidence of Takaroans — Hiram Mervin's description of 
the cyclone — Teamo's wonderful swim — Mormon 
missionaries from America — I take a bath . . 96 

CHAPTER Vn 

Breakfast with elders — The great Mapuhi enters — He 
tells of San Francisco — Of prizefighters and Police 
gazettes — I reside with Nohea — Robber crabs — The 
cats that warred and caught fish .... 114 

CHAPTER VIH 

I meet a Seventh-Day Adventist missionary, and a des- 
cendant of a mutineer of the Bounty — They tell me 
the story of Pitcairn island — An epic of isolation 135 

CHAPTER IX 

The fish in the lagoon and sea — Giant clams and fish 
that poison — Hunting the devil-fish — Catching 
bonito — Snarling turtles — Trepang and sea cu- 
cumbers — The mammoth manta .... 157 

CHAPTER X 

Traders and divers assembling for the diving — A story 
told by Llewellyn at night — The mystery of Easter 
Island — Strangest spot in the world — Curious stat- 
ues and houses — Borrowed wives — Arrival of Eng- 
lish girl — Tragedy of the Meke Meke festival . 175 

CHAPTER XI 

Pearl hunting in the lagoon — Previous methods wasteful 
— Mapuhi shows me the wonders of the lagoon — 
Marvelous stories of sharks — Woman who lost her 
arm — Shark of Samoa — Deacon who rode a shark 
a half hour — Eels are terrible menace . . .211 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XII 

History of the pearl hunger — Noted jewels of past — I 
go with Nohea to the diving — Beautiful floor of the 
lagoon — Nohea dives many times — Escapes shark 
narrowly — Descends 148 feet — No pearls reward us 
— Mandel tells of culture pearls .... 230 

CHAPTER XIII 

Story of the wondrous pearls planted in the lagoon of 
Pukapuka — Tepeva a Tepeva, the crippled diver, 
tells it — How a European scientist improved on na- 
ture — Tragedy of Patasy and Maurii — The robbed 
coral bank — Death under the sea .... 249 

CHAPTER XIV 

Tlie palace of the governor of the Marquesas in the vale 
of Atuona — Monsieur L'Hermicr des Plantes, Ghost 
Girl, Miss Tail, and Song of the Nightingale — 
Tapus in the South Seas — Strange conventions that 
regulate life— A South Seas Pankhurst — How 
women won their freedom ..... 271 

CHAPTER XV 

The dismal abode of tlie Peyrals — Stark-white daughter 
of Peyral — Only white maiden in the Marquesas — I 
hunt wild bulls — Pe^-ral's friendliness — I visit his 
house — He strikes me and threatens to kill me — I 
go armed — Explanation of the bizarre tragic comedy 294 

CHAPTER XVI 

In the valley of Vaitahu — With Vanquished Often and 
Seventh Man He Is So Angry He Wallows in the 
Mire — Worship of beauty in the South Seas — Like 
the ancient Greeks — Care of the body — Prepara- 
tions for a belle's debut — Massage as a cure for ills 319 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XVII 

Skilled tattooers of Marquesas Islands a generation ago 
— Entire bodies covered with intricate tattooed 
designs — The foreigner who had himself tattooed 
to win the favor of a Marquesan beauty — ^The magic 
that removed the markings when he was recalled to 
his former life in England ..... 336 

CHAPTER XVIII 

A fantastic but dying language — The Polynesian or 
Maori Tongue — Making of the first lexicons — 
Words taken from other languages — Decay of vo- 
cabularies with decrease of population — Humors and 
whimsicalities of the dictionary as arranged by for- 
eigners . . . . . . . . 364 

CHAPTER XIX 

Tragic Mademoiselle Narbonne — Whom shall she marry? 
— Dinner at the home of Wilhelm Lutz — The Taua, 
the sorcerer — Lemoal says Narbonne is a leper — I 
visit the Taua — The prophecy . . . . 384? 

CHAPTER XX 

Holy Week — How the rum was saved during the storm 
— An Easter Sunday "Celebration" — The Governor, 
Commissaire Bauda and I have a discussion — Paul 
Vernier, the Protestant Pastor, and his church — 
How the girls of the Valley imperilled the immortal 
souls of the first missionaries — Jimmy Kekela, his 
family — A watch from Abraham Lincoln . .414 

CHAPTER XXI 

Paul Gauguin, the famous French-Peruvian Artist — A 
Rebel against the society that rejected him while he 
lived, and now cherishes his paintings . . . 439 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XXII 

Monsieur I'Inspecteur des Etablisscments Fran9ais de 
I'Oceanie — How the school house was inspected — I 
receive my conge — The runaway pigs — Mademoi- 
selle Narbonnc goes Avith Lutz to Papeete to be mar- 
ried — Pere Simeon, about whom Robert Louis Steven- 
son wrote ........ 460 

CHAPTER XXIII 

IMcHenry gets a caning — The fear of the dead — A visit 

to the grave of Mapuhi — En voyage . . . 482 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Nature's mirror showed him why he could not leave Frontispiece 



Map 

The atoll of Niau ....... 

The anchorage at Tahauku. Atuona lies just around 

the first headland to the right 
A Paumotu atoll after a blow 
A squall approaching Anaa . 
Picking up the atoll of Anaa from the deck of the 

schooner Flying Fish ..... 
Canoes and cutters at atoll of Anaa, Paumotu Islands 
The road from the beach ..... 
An American Josephite missionary and his wife, and their 

church .... 
Typical and primitive native hut, Paumotu Archipelago 
Copra drying .... 
Atoll of Hikucra after the cyclone 
The wrecked County of Roxburgh 
Mormon elders baptizing in the lagoon 
Over the reef in a canoe 
Robber-crab ascending tree at night. One of the few 

photographs taken of the marauder in action 
Where the Bounty was beached and burned 
The church on Pitcairn Island 
The shores of Pitcairn Island 
Spearing fish 
A canoe on the lagoon . 
Ready for the fishing . 
Spearing fish in the lagoon . 
The Captain and two sailors of the El Dorado 
Beach dancers at Tahiti , . . . 



FACING 
PAQE 



16 

17 
32 
33 

48 
49 
64 

65 
80 
81 
96 
97 
112 
113 

128 
129 
144 
145 
160 
161 
161 
176 
177 
192 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



rACINQ 
PAGE 



After the bath in the pool . . . . • .193 

Old cocoanut trees ....... 208 

The dark valley of Taaoa 209 

Launch towing canoes to diving grounds in lagoon . 224) 

Divers voyaging in Paumotu atolls .... 225 

Ghost Girl 256 

A double canoe . . . . . . • . 25 < 

A young palm in Atuona ...... 272 

Atuona valley and the peak of Temetiu . • . 273 

Malicious Gossip, Le Brunnec, and his wife. At Peace . 304! 

Exploding Eggs and his chums packing copra . . 304* 
Frederick O'Brien and Dr. Malcolm Douglas at home in 

Tahiti 305 

Some friends in my valley . . . . ' . . 320 

Wash-day in the stream by my cabin .... 321 

Te Ipu, an old Marquesan chief, showing tattooing . 336 

The famous tattooed leg of Queen Vaikehu . . . 337 

Tattooing at the present day ..... 352 

Easter Islander in head-dress and with dancing-wand . 353 

My tattooed Marquesan friend ..... 353 

The author with his friends at council .... 368 
House of governor of Paumotu Islands. Atoll of 

Fakarava ........ 369 

Nakohu, Exploding Eggs ...... 384 

Haabuani, the sole sculptor of Hiva-Oa . . . 385 

The coral road and the traders' stores .... 416 

Scene on beach a few miles west of Papeete . . . 417 

Tahiatini, Many Daughters, the little leper lass . . 432 

Francois Grelet, the Swiss, of Oomoa .... 433 

Brunneck, the boxer and diver ..... 464 

A village maid in Tahiti ...... 465 

A Samoan maiden of high caste ..... 465 

Throwing spears at a cocoanut on a stake . . . 480 

The raised-up atoll of Makatea ..... 481 

Paumotuans on a heap of brain coral .... 496 

Did these two eat Chocolat.'' ...... 496 

The stonehenge men in the South Seas .... 497 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 



CHAPTER I 

Leaving Tahiti — The sunset over Moorea — Bound for the Pauraotu 
Atolls — The Schooner Marara, Flying Fish — Captain Jean Moet and 
others aboard — Sighting and Landing on Niau. 

« Ik -TOUS partons! We air off— off !" shouted 
/ %/ Capitaine Moet, gaily, as the Marara, the 
-*- ^ schooner Fli/iug Fish, sHpped through the nar- 
row, treacherous pass of the barrier reef of Papeete 
Harbor. "Mon ami, you weel by 'n' by say dam Moet 
for take you to ze lies Dangereuses. You air goin' 
to ze worse chniate in ze sacre mundo. Eet ees hot 
and ze win' blow many time like 'urricane. An' you 
nevaire wash, because ze wataire ees salt como 
se o-c-ean." 

We had waited for a wafting breeze all afternoon, 
the brown crew alert to raise the anchor at every zephyr, 
but it was almost dark when we were clear of the reef 
and, with all sails raised, fair on our voyage to the 
mysterious atolls of the Paumotu Archipelago. Often 
1 had planned that pilgrimage in my long stay in 
Tahiti. At the Cercle Bougainville, the business club, 
where the pearl and shell traders and the copra buyers 
drank their rum and Doctor Funks, I had heard many 
stories of a nature in these Paumotus strangely dif- 
ferent of aspect from all other parts of the world, of 



4 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

a native people who had amazing knowledge of the 
secrets of the sea and its inhabitants, and of white 
dwellers altered by residence there to a pattern very 
contrary from other whites. For scores of years these 
traders and sailors or their forerunners had played all 
the tricks of commerce on the Paumotuans, and they 
laughed reminiscently over them; yet they hinted of 
demons there, of ghosts that soared and whistled, and 
of dancers they had seen transfixed in the air. What 
was true or untrue I had not known; nor had they, I 
believed. 

Llewellyn, the Welsh-Tahitian gentleman, after 
four or five glasses of Pernoud, would ask, "Do you 
know why the Paumotus are unearthly?" and would 
answer in the same liquorish breath, "Because they 
have n't any earth about them. They 're all white 
bones." 

Woronick, the Parisian expert in pearls, referred 
often to the wonderful jewel he had bought in Takaroa 
from a Paumotuan, and the fortune he had made on 
it. 

"That pearl was made by God and fish and man, 
and how it was grown and Tepeva a Tepeva got it, is 
a something to learn; unique. It is bizarre, effrayant. 
I will not recite it here, for you must go to Takaroa 
to hear it." 

And Lying Bill and McPTenry, in a score of vivid 
phrases, told of the cyclones that had swept entire 
populations into the sea, felled the trees of scores of 
years' growth, and left the bare atoll as when first it 
emerged from the depths. 

"I knew a Dane who rode over Anaa on a tree like a 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 5 

bloody 'orse on the turf," said Lying Bill to me, with 
a frightening bang of his tumbler on the table." 'E was 
caught by the top of a big wave, an' away 'e drove from 
one side of the bleedin' island to the other, and come 
right side up. A bit 'urt in the 'ead, 'e was, but able 
to take 'is bloomin' oath on what 'appened." 

I had not depended on these raconteurs for a vicari- 
ous understanding of the Paumotus ; for I had read and 
noted all that I could find in books and calendars about 
them, but yet I had felt that these unlettered actors 
in the real dramas laid there gave me a valid picture. 
My hopes were fixed in finding in spirit what they saw 
only materially. 

Moet stood by the wheel until we cleared the waters 
where the lofty bulk of the island confused the 
winds, and I, when the actions of the sailors in shift- 
ing the sails with his repeated orders had lost newness, 
looked with some anguish at that sweet land I was leav- 
ing. It had meant so much to me. 

A poetic mood only could paint the swiftly changing 
panorama as the schooner on its seaward tacks moved 
slowly under the faint vesper breeze; the mood of a 
diarist could tell how "the sun setting behind Moorea in 
a brilliant saffron sky, splashed with small golden and 
mauve-colored clouds, threw boldly forward in a clear- 
cut, opaque purple mass that fantastically pinnacled 
island, near the summit of whose highest peak there 
glittered, star-like, a speck of light — the sky seen 
through a hole pierced in the mountain. How in the 
sea, smooth as a mirror, within the reef, and here and 
there to seaward, blue ruffled by a catspaw, away to the 
horizon was reflected the saffron hue from above; how 



6 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

against purple Moorea a cocoa-crowned islet in the 
harbor appeared olive-green — a gem set in the yellow 
water. How the sunlight left the vivid green shore of 
palm-fringed Tahiti, and stole upward till only the 
highest ridges and precipices were illuminated with 
strange pink and violet tints springing straight from 
the mysterious depth of dark-blue shadow. How from 
the loftiest crags there floated a long streamer cloud — 
the cloud-banner of Tyndal. Then, as the sun sank 
lower and lower, the saffron of the sky paled to the tur- 
quoise-blue of a brief tropical twilight, the cloud-ban- 
ner melted and vanished, and the whole color deepened 
and went out in the sudden darkness of the night." 

If one must say farewell to Tahiti, let it be in the 
evening, in the tender hues of the sunset, the effacing 
shadows of the sinking orb in sympathy with the day's 
tasks done ; the screen of night being drawn amid flam- 
ing, dying lights across a workaday world, the dream 
pictures of the Supreme Artist appearing and fainting 
in the purpling heavens. I was leaving people and 
scenes that had taught me a new path in life, or, at 
least, had hung lamps to guide my feet in an apprecia- 
tion of values before unknown to me. 

I came back to the deck of the schooner with Moet's 
call for a steersman, and his invitation to go below for 
food and drink. I refused despite his "Sapristi! Eef 
you no eat by 'n' by you cannot drink!" and when he 
disappeared down the companion-ladder I climbed to 
the roof of the low cabin. The moon was now high— 
a plate of glowing gold in an indigo ceiling. The swell- 
ing sea rocked the vessel and now and then hfted her 
sharp prow out of the water and struck it a blow of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 7 

friendship as it rejoined it. I unrolled a straw mat, 
and, placing it well aft so that the jibing boom would 
not touch me, lay upon my back, and visioned the pro- 
digious world I was seeking. The very names given 
by discoverers were suggestive of extravagant adven- 
ture. The Half-drowned Islands, the Low Archi- 
pelago, the Dangerous Isles, the Pernicious Islands, 
were the titles of the early mariners. For three hundred 
years the Paumotus had been dimly known on the 
charts as set in the most perilous sea in all the round of 
the globe. I had read that they were more hazardous 
than any other shores, as they were more singular in 
form. They had excited the wonder of learned men 
and laymen by even the scant depiction of their astound- 
ing appearance. For decades after the eyes of a Euro- 
pean glimpsed them they were thought by many book- 
ish men to be as fabulous as Atlantis or Micomicon; 
too chimerical to exist, though witches then were a 
surety, and hell a burning reality. 

I fell asleep, and as during the night the wind shifted 
and with it the schooner veered, I had but a precarious 
hold upon the mat and was several times stood on my 
feet in the narrow passageway. The dream jinn seized 
these shiftings and twistings, the shouts of the mate 
in charge, the chants of the sailors at work, the whistle 
of the wind through the cordage, and wove them into 
fantasies, — ecstasies or nightmares, — and thus warded 
off my waking. 

. But the sun, roused from his slumber beneath the dip 
of the sphere, could be put off with no fine frenzies. 
When even half above the dipping horizon his beams 
opened my eyes as if a furnace door had been flung 



8 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

wide, and I turned over to see my hard couch occu- 
pied by others. Beside me was McHenry, next to him 
Moet, and furthest, the one white woman aboard, the 
captain's wife. We yawned in unison; and, with a 
quick, accustomed movement, she dropped below. The 
day had begun on the schooner. 

The Marara was once a French gunboat of these seas 
when cannons were needed to prevent dishonor to the 
tricolor by failure to obey French discipline, while 
France was making good colonists or corpses of all 
peoples hereabout. She was the very pattern of the 
rakish craft in which the blackbirders and pirates sailed 
this ocean for generations — built for speed, for enter- 
ing threatening passes, for stealing silently away under 
giant sweeps, and for handling by a small number of 
strong and fearless men. The bitts on the poop were 
still marked by the gun emplacements, and the rail 
about the stern was but two feet high. 

Now her owners were a company of Tahiti Euro- 
peans who, trusting largely to the seamanship and busi- 
ness shrewdness of her master, despatched her every 
few weeks or -months on voyages about the French is- 
lands within a thousand miles or so to sell the natives 
all they would buy, and to get from them at the least 
cost the copra, shells, and pearls which were virtually 
the sole products of these islands. 

The cabin was one room, stuffy and hot, and mal- 
odorous of decades of cargo. A small table in the 
center for dining was alone free from shelves and boxes 
holding merchandise, which was displayed as in a coun- 
try store. Besides all kinds of articles salable to a 
primitive people, there were foods in barrels, boxes. 







^^^^ 







ATOLLS OF THE SUN 9 

tins, and glass, for whites and for educated native 
palates. 

Jean ^loet, the conmiander of the Marara, was of the 
type of French sailor encountered in the JNlediterranean, 
and especially about ^larseilles and Spanish ports. 
He had a slight person, with hair and moustache black 
as the stones of Papenoo beach — nervous, excitable, 
moving incessantly, gesturing with every word. 
Twenty-eight of his forty years had been passed in 
ships. He had visited the He du Diahlc, and had seen 
Dreyfus there; he chattered of New York, Senegal, 
Yokohama, Cayenne, was full of French ocean oaths, 
!)reaking into Kiighsh or Spanish to enlighten me or 
press a point, singing a Parisian nmsic-hall chan^on- 
cttc, or a Spanish cannoncita. His language was a 
curious hodge-podge bespeaking the wanderings of the 
man and liis intensely mercurial temperament. 

His wife, who sailed with him on all voyages since 
their marriage five years before, was his opposite — large- 
boned and heav>% like a Millet peasant, looking at her 
brilliant husband as a wistful cow at her master, but 
not fearing to caution him against extravagance in 
stimulant or money. Her life had begun in Tahiti, 
and she had always been there until the dashing son of 
the Midi had lifted her from the house of her father — 
a petty official — to the deck of the Flying Fish. She 
was a housekeeper and accountant. 

She paid especial attention to the shelves of pain- 
killers, cough cures, perunas, bitters and medical dis- 
coveries from America, which, in islands where all al- 
coholic liquors were forbidden to the aborigines, sold 
readily to all who sickened for them. Moet was affec- 



10 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tionate but stern toward Virginie, the wife, and talked 
to her as does a kind but wise master to a trained seal. 

For breakfast, the captain, Madame Moet, McHenry, 
and I had canned sardines, canned hash from Chicago, 
California olives, canned pineapple from Hawaii, and 
red wine from Bordeaux. 

Virginie explained in Tahitian French that Jean had 
forgotten to get aboard stores of fresh food. He had 
been at the Cercle Bougainville until we had gone 
aboard, she said caustically. Jean put his arm about 
her fat waist. 

''Mais, dar-leeng," he said, sootliingly, "tais-toi!" 
And then to me, "We are camarades, ma femme y mi, 
companeros buenos. Ma wife she wash ze linge. That 
good, eh? Amerique ze woman got boss hand now. 
Diable! C'est rottan! Hambre, ze wife ees for ze 
cuisine, and ze babee." 

He pressed her middle, and advised her to clear up 
the table while we went on deck for a smoke. 

He became confidential with me after a pousse cafe 
or two. 

"We faire ze chose economique, Virginie y mi," he 
said. "Maybee som' day we weesh avoir leetle farm 
en France. En verite, mon ami, I forget ze \jegetable 
an' ze meat because I beat McHenry at ecarte in ze 
Cercle Bougainville, jus' avant we go 'way from Pa- 
peete. I nevaire play ze carte on ze schoonaire! 
Jamais de la vie!" 

The captain had aboard a brown pup, a mongrel he 
had found in the Marquesas Islands. He had named 
him Chocolat, and passed hours each day in teaching 
him tricks — to lie down and sit up at command, to 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 11 

stand and to bark. The dog liked to run over the 
roof of the cabin and to crouch upon the low rail at tlie 
stern. As any roll or pitch of the vessel might toss 
him into the ocean, I feared for his longevity, but 
Chocolat — pronounced by Moet "Shockolah" — was able 
to fall inboard whenever the motion jeopardized his 
safety. 

"Eh, jjetit cMen," Jean Moet would cry, when Choc- 
olat skated down the inclined deck into the scuppers, 
or hung for a moment indecisively on the rail, "you 
by 'n' by goin'-a be eat by ze rcqiiin. Ze big shark 
getta you, perrillo, an' you forget all my teach you, mi 
querido!" 

He whipped Chocolat many times a day, when the 
puppy let down from "attention" before told, or when 
he attacked his food before a certain whistled note. 

"What will you do with him when his education is 
complete?" I asked Moet. 

"When he ees educate, heiii? He will be like ze sair- 
cuss animal. One year old, maybe, he make turnover, 
fight ze hoxe, drink wine, an', pucdescr, he talk leetle. 
Zen I sell heem some tourist, some crazee Amencain who 
zink he do for heem like me. I sharge five hunder 
franc." 

^IcHenry, who kicked Chocolat whenever he had an 
opportunity unseen, ridiculed INIoet's dream of gain. 

"You will like hell !" said McHenry. "When you Ve 
got the dirty little bastard sayin', 'Good momin',' nice 
an' proper, he '11 sneak ashore in some boat-load o' 
truck, an' some Paumotuan '11 hotpot him. Wait till 
he 's fat! You know what they '11 do for fresh meat." 

"Non, nonf' answered the captain, angrily. "I am 



12 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

not afraid of zat. I teach heem I keel heem he go in 
boat, but maybe you take heem an' sell heem on ze 
quiet, McHenry." 

The small, cold eyes of McHenry gleamed, and a 
queer smile twisted his mouth. 

"Well, keep him from under my feet!" he warned, 
and laughed at some thought now fully formed in his 
mind. I could see it squirming in his small brain. 

McHenry was as rollicking a rascal as I knew in all 
the South Seas. He was bitter and yet had a flavor of 
real humor at odd times. Without schooling except that 
of a wharf -rat in Liverpool, New York, and San Fran- 
cisco, he had come into these latitudes twenty years be- 
fore. Cunning yet drunken, cruel but now and again 
doing a kindness out of sheer animal spirits or a desire 
to show off, he had many enemies, and yet he had a few 
friends. When the itching for money or the desire to 
feel power over those about him urged him, as most of 
the time, he proved himself the ripest and rottenest prod- 
uct of his early and present environment. He had had 
desperate fights to keep from being a decaying beach- 
comber, a parasite without the law ; but a certain Scotch 
caution, a love of making and amassing profits, and, as 
I learned later, a firm and towering native wife, had 
kept him at least out of jail and in the groove of trading. 

Boasting was his chief weakness. He would go far 
to find the chance to ease his latent sense of inferiority 
to an audience that did not know fully his poverty of 
character and attainment. After years of ups and 
downs he had now quarreled with his recent employers, 
and was going to pitch his trade tent on some Paumotu 
atoll where copra and pearl-shell might be found. He 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 13 

thought that he might stay a while in Takaroa, one of 
our ports, because the diving season was about to open 
there. He and I being the only ones whose language 
was English, we were much together, but I always half 
despised myself for not speaking my mind to him. 
Still, those lonely places make a man compromise as 
much as do cities. What one might fear most would 
be having no one to talk with. 

We lived on deck, all four of us, the Moets, McHenry, 
and I, along with a half-caste mate, sleeping always on 
the roof of the cabin, and taking our meals off it, except 
in rain. In that moist case we bundled on the floor of 
the cabin. There was no ceremony. The cook brought 
the food through the cabin, and we handed up and down 
the dishes through the after scuttle, helping ourselves at 
will to the wine and rum which were in clay bottles on 
the roof. McHenry and I were the only passengers, 
and the crew of six Tahitians was ample for all tasks. 
They were Piri a Tuahine, the boat-steerer ; Peretia a 
Huitofa, Moe a Nahe, Roometua a Terehe, Piha a 
Teina, and Huahine, with Tamataura, the cook. 

The whole forward deck of the schooner was crowded 
with native men, women, and children, the families of 
church leaders who were returning to their Paumotu 
homes after attending a religious festival in Tahiti. 
They lay huddled at night, sleeping silently in the moon- 
light and under the stars. All day, and until eight 
or nine o'clock, they conversed and ate, and worked with 
their hands, plaiting hats of pandanus, sugar-cane, bam- 
boo, and other materials. White laborers massed in 
such discomfort would have quarreled, squabbled for 
place, and eased their annoyance in loud words, but the 



14 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Polynesian, of all races, loves his fellow and keeps his 
temper. 

These were the first Paumotuan people I had seen in- 
timately, and I listened to them and asked them ques- 
tions. A deacon who at night removed a black coat and 
slept in a white-flowered blue loin-cloth, the pareu of all 
the Polynesians, gazed at the heavens for hours. He 
knew many of the stars. 

"Our old people," he said, "believed that the gods 
were always making new worlds in distant sky places 
beyond the Milky Way, the Maoroaheita. When a new 
world was made by the strong hands of the gods, the 
Atua, it went like a great bird to the place fixed for it. 
That star, Rehua/' — he pointed toward Sirius, — "was 
first placed by the Atua near the Tauha, the Southern 
Cross, but afterwards they changed it, and sent it to 
where it is now." 

I looked at the glowing cross, and remembered the 
emotion its first sight had stirred in me. I was tossing 
on the royal yard of a bark bound for Brazil, up a hun- 
dred feet and more from deck, when, raising my head 
from the sail I had made fast, there burst upon me the 
wonderful form and brilliance of the constellation which 
five thousand years ago entranced the Old World but 
which is hidden from it now. 

The deacon again raised his hand and indicated the 
spot where Rehua had shone before the divine mind had 
changed. It was the Coal-sack, the black vacancy in 
the Magellan Clouds, so conspicuous below the cross 
when all the rest of the sky is cloudless and clear. The 
Maori mind had wisely settled upon that vast space in 
the stellar system in which not even an atom of stellar 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 15 

dust sheds a single flicker of luminosity as the point 
from which the gods had plucked Rehua. I had no such 
lucid reason for this amazing, celestial void as the half- 
naked deacon on the deck of the Marara. 

We had a poor wind for two days, and I looked long 
hours in the water, so close to the deck, at the manifesta- 
tions of organic and vegetable vitality. All life of the 
ocean, I knew, depended ultimately on minute plants. 
The great fish and mammals fed on plant forms which 
were distributed throughout the seas. These grew in 
the waters themselves or were cast into them along their 
shores or by the thousands of rivers which eventually 
feed the ocean. The flora of all the earth, seeds, nuts, 
beans, leaves, kernels, swam or sank in the majority ele- 
ment, and aided in the nourishment of the creatures 
there. They had, also, taken root on shores foreign to 
their birth, and had, from inmiigrants, become esteemed 
natives of many lands. They had increased man's 
knowledge, too, as the sea-beans found on the shores of 
Scotland led to the discovery of that puzzle of all cur- 
rents, the Gulf Stream. After all was said, the land 
was insignificant compared to the water — little more 
than a fourth of the surface of the globe, and in mass 
as puny. The average elevation of the land was less 
than a fifth of a mile, while the average depth of the 
sea was two miles, or thirty times the mass of the land. 
If the solid earth were smoothed down to a level, it would 
be entirely covered a mile deep by the water. I felt 
very close to the sea, and fearful of its might. I envied 
the natives their assurance, or, at least, stolidity. 

The days were intensely hot. When the sails were 
furled or flapped idly, and the Marara lay almost still, 



16 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

listening for even a whisper of wind, I suffered keenly. 
The second noon our common exasperation broke out 
in the inflammable Moet. 

The captain shouted to Huahine, a sailor, to cover 
his head with a hat. The man was a giant, weighing 
more than two hundred and fifty pounds, but Moet ad- 
dressed him as he would a child. 

"Sapristir he yelled, "Taupoo! Maamaa! Your 
hat, you fool!" 

''Diablo! amigo," he said, testily. "Zose nateev air 
babee. I have ze men paralyze by ze sun in ze Mar- 
queses. In ze viento, when ze win' blow, no dan-gair, 
but when no blow — sacre! ze sun melts ze brain off-off." 

Captain Moet was dramatic. Whatever he said he 
acted with face, hands and arms, feet, and even his whole 
body. He made a gesture that caused me to touch my 
own hat, to consider its resistance to the sun, to feel 
an anticipation of harm. Suddenly he took the arm of 
the sailor at the wheel, Piha a Teina, a Tahitian, and, 
releasing the spokes from his hands, himself began to 
steer. 

"Go there in the lee of the mainsail," he said in Tahi- 
tian, "and tell the American about your terrible adven- 
ture when you almost died of thirst!" 

"Look at him!" said Moet to me. "He is old before 
his time. The sun did that." 

Piha a Teina stood beside me, shy, slow to begin his 
epic. He was shriveled and withered, pitifully marked 
by some experience unusal even to these Maori masters 
of this sea. I gave him a cigarette, and, lighting it, he 
began ; 

"I am Piha a Teina," he said. "I was hving in the 




60 



iC 



fee 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 17 

island of Marutea in the Paumotus when this thing hap- 
pened. I set out one day in a cutter for Manga Reva. 
That island was seven hundred miles away, and we were 
sent, Pere Ani, my friend, and I, to bring back copra. 
The cutter was small, not so large as a ship's boat. We 
had food for eight or nine days, and as the wind was as 
we wanted it, blowing steadily toward Manga Reva, we 
felt sure we would arrive there in that time. But we 
lost the stars. They would not show themselves, and 
soon we did not know which way to steer. This schooner 
has a compass, but we could not tell the direction by the 
sun as we had not the aveia. We became uneasy and 
then afraid. Still we kept on by guess and hope, be- 
lieving the wind could not have changed its mind since 
we started. On the tenth day we ate the last bite of 
our food. We had not stinted ourselves until the eighth 
day, and then we felt sure the next day or the next 
would bring the land. 

"But on the eleventh day we saw nothing but the sea. 
I had a pearl hook and with it we caught honito. We 
ate them raw. They made us thirsty, and we drank all 
our water. It did not rain for many days, and we drank 
the salt water. When it rained we had nothing in which 
to catch and keep the fresh water. We could only suck 
the wet sail which we had taken down because we had 
become too weak to handle it if the gale had caught us 
with it up. We drifted and drifted with the current. 
The sun beat upon us and we were burned like the bread- 
fruit in the oven. I could not touch my breast in the 
daytime it was so hot. The time went on as slowly as 
the cocoanut-tree grows from the nut we plant. We left 
in the month you call October. Days and nights we 



18 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

floated without using the tiller except to keep the cutter 
before the wind when it blew hard. We had been asleep 
maybe a day or two when a storm came. We did not 
wake up, but it cast us on the island of Rapa-iti. Pere 
Ani never woke up, but I am here. The sun killed 
him." 

"How long were you in the cutter?" I asked. 

Moet heard my question and replied : 

''Mais, zey lef ' Marutea in octohre, an' ze Zelee, the 
Tranche war-sheep, fin' zem on Rapa-iti in Januaire. 
Zey was — yo no se — more zan seexty day in ze boat." 

Piha a Teina expressed neither gladness nor sorrow 
that he had escaped the fate of Pere Ani. He knew, as 
his race, that fate was inexorable, and he contemplated 
life as the gift of a powerful force that could not be 
argued with nor threatened by prayers, though, to be 
in the mode, he might make such supplications. 

"If I had had such a holioa moana, a chart of the sea, 
as we formerly made of sticks," he said, "I could have 
found Manga Reva without the stars. We made them 
of straight and curved pieces of wood or bamboo, and we 
marked islands on them with shells. They showed the 
currents from the four quarters of the sea, and with 
them we made journeys of thousands of miles to the 
Marquesas and to Hawaii and Samoa. But we have 
forgotten how to make them, and I know nothing of the 
paper charts the white man has, but I can read the 
aveia, the compass of the schooner. We did not take 
our hooa in our canoes, but studied them at home." 

The captain whistled, caught my eye, touched his fore- 
head to signify Piha a Teina was wandering mentally, 
and summoned the sailor to take the wheel. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 19 

"He ees maamaa ewair since zat leetle voyage," he 
said, sagely. 

On the morning of the fourth day from Papeete the 
first of the eighty Paumotu atolls raised a delicate green 
fringe of trees fom' or five miles away. It lay so low 
that from the deck of the schooner it could not be seen 
even on the clearest days at a greater distance. One 
heard the surf before the island appeared. It was only 
a few feet above the plane of the sea, flat, with no hill 
or eminence upon it, a leaf upon the surface of a pond. 
I could hardly believe it part of the familiar globe. It 
was more like the fairy-island of childhood, the coral 
strand of youth, the lotus land of poesy. It was, in 
reality, the most beautiful, fascinating, inconceivable 
sight upon the ocean. 

McHenry and I stood with Chocolat and watched the 
slow rise of the atoll of Niau, as the Marara, under less- 
ened sail and with Captain Moet at the helm, cautiously 
approached the land. We crept up to it, as one might 
to a trap in which one hoped to snare a hare but feared 
to find a wolf. All liands stood by for orders. 
Though the sky was azure and the sun broiling, one 
never knew in the Pernicious Islands when the unfore- 
seen might happen. 

Seven miles long and five wide, Niau was a matcliless 
bracelet of ivory and jade. Grieg Island, some Anglo- 
Saxon discoverer once named it, but Grieg had fame 
abroad only. None spoke his name as we advanced 
warily over the road, familiar to them all as the Sulu 
Sea to me. The cargo for Niau came through the 
hatches, thrown up from the hold, sailor to sailor, and 
was piled on deck until all was checked. Madame Moet 



20 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

was on the poop by the after door of the cabin, hanging 
over each item and marking it off upon her inventory, 
while Jean hummed the "Carmagnole," and swung the 
Flying Fish about on short tacks for her goal. Between 
the shifting of the canvas the long-boat was lowered, and 
the goods heaped in it: boxes and barrels, bales and 
buckets, edibles and clothing, matches and tobacco, gim- 
cracks and patent medicines. 

As closer we went, I saw that Niau was a perfect 
oval, composed of a number of separate islets or motus. 
These formed the land on which were the trees and 
shrubs and the people, but this oval itself was inclosed 
by a hidden reef, several hundred feet wide, on which 
the breakers -crashed and spilled in a flood of foaming 
billows. 

There was no enthusiasm over the beauty of Niau 
except in my heaving breast, and I concealed it as I 
would free thinking in a monastery. To McHenry 
and Jean and Virginia, a lovely atoll was but a speck 
upon the ocean on which to cozen inferior creatures. 

''Madre de DiosT vociferated the skipper, when, a 
mile from the gleaming teeth of the reef, he brought the 
Marara up into the wind and halted her like a panting 
mare thrown upon her haunches. "Mc'onree et M'sieu' 
O'Breeon, eef you go 'shore, tomble een, pronto!" 

He released the wheel to the mate, and we three 
scrambled over the rail and jumped upon the cargo as 
the boat rose on a wave, joining the four Tahitians who 
were at the heavy oars, with Piri a Tuahine at the stern, 
holding a long sweep for a rudder. It was attached by 
a bight of rope, and by a longer rope kept from float- 
ing away in case of mishap. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 21 

Now came as delicate a bit of action with sails as a 
yachtsman, with his mother-in-law as a guest, might reck- 
lessly essay. Captain Moet sang out from his perch on 
a barrel to the half-caste at the wheel to go ahead, and 
the Flying Fish, which for a few minutes had been trem- 
bling in leash, turned on her heel and headed directly 
for the streak of foam, the roar of which drowned our 
voices at that distance. 

Eight hundred feet away, when it must have looked to 
a landsman on the schooner that she was ahnost in the 
breakers, we cast off the line and took to our oars. It 
was nice seamanship to save time by minimizing rowing, 
but certainly not in Lloyd's rules of safety. Those who 
reckon dangers do not laugh in these parts. A merry 
rashness helps ease of mind. 

In five minutes our boat was in the surf, rolling and 
tumbling, and I on my merchandise peak clasped a bale 
fervently, though McHenry and Moet appeared glued 
to barrels which they rode jauntily. It was now I saw 
the art of the Polynesians, the ablest breaker boatmen 
in the world. 

All about seemed to me sohd coral rock or distorted 
masses of limestone covering and uncovering with the 
surging water, but suddenly there came into my altering 
view, as the steersman headed toward it, a strange pit in 
the unyielding strata. Into this maelstrom the water 
rushed furiously, drawn in and sucked out with each roll 
of the ocean. The Tahitians, at a word, stopped row- 
ing, while Piri a Tuahine scrutinized intently the onrush- 
ing waves. He judged the speed and force of each as 
it neared him, and on his accuracy of eye and mind de- 
pended our hves. 



22 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

The oarsmen tugged with their blades to hold the 
boat against the sweeping tide, and abruptly, with a 
wild shout, Piri a Tuahine set them to pulling like mad, 
while he with his long oar both steered and sculled. 

"Tamau te paina!" all yelled amid the boom of the 
surf. 

"Hold on to the wood!" and down into the pit we 
tore ; down and in, the boat raced through the vortex of 
the chute, the pilot avoiding narrowly the coffin-like 
sides of the menacing depression, and the sailors, with 
their oars aloft for the few di-ead seconds, awaiting with 
joyous shouts the emergence into the shallows. All 
was in the strong hands and steady nerves of Piri a 
Tuahine. A miscalculated swerve of his sturdy lever, 
and we would have been smashed like egg-shells, boat 
and bodies, against the massive sides. But spirit and 
wood were stedf ast, and I rode as high and dry from the 
imminent Scylla as if on a camel in the Sahara. 

In a few twinklings of an eye we were past the reef, 
and in the moat in fast shoaling, quiet water, studded 
with hummocks and heaps of coral. The sailors leaped 
into it shoulder-deep, and guided and forced the boat 
as far shoreward as possible, to curtail the cargo-carry- 
ing distance. Captain Moet, McHenry, and I went up 
to our waists, and reached the beach. 



CHAPTER II 

Meeting with Tommy Eustace, the trader — Strange soil of the atoll — A 
bath in the lagoon — Momuni, the thirsty bread balser — Off for Anaa. 

THE crusader who entered Jerusalem had no 
deeper feehng of reahzation of a long-cherished 
hope than I when my foot imprinted its mold in 
the glistening sand of the atoll of Niau. I stood in my 
track and scanned it, as Crusoe the first human mark 
other than his own he saw on his lonely island. Not 
with his dismay, but yet with a slight panic, a 
pleasant but alarmed perturbation, an awe at the won- 
der of the scene. The moment had the tenseness of 
that when I saw my first cocoanut-palm ; it mingled a 
fear that I had passed one of the great climacterics of 
visual emotion. 

Here was I in the arcanum of romance, the promised 
land of chimera, after years of faint expectation. I 
was almost stunned by the reality, and I felt sensibly 
the need of some one to share the pathos that oppressed 
me. I did not forsake my love for Tahiti. That was 
fixed, but this atoll was not the same. Tahiti was an 
adored mistress, this a light o' love, a dazzling, alien 
siren, with whom one could not rest in safety ; a fanciful 
abode for a brief period, as incomparable to Tahiti as 
an ice-field to a garden. 

"What the bloody hell's eatin' on you?" exclaimed the 
irked McHenry, questioningly as he glared at me. 

23 



24 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"Are n't yout f eet mates? Let 's see Tommy Eustace! 
He might have a bottle o' beer buried in a cool place." 

Moet was shaking the salt water from his long, inky 
hair. He had stumbled and dipped his head in the 
brine. 

" 'Sus-Marial" he swore. "Virginie she say Jean 
been drink.' " 

A shed-like building of rough boards, with unpainted 
corrugated iron roof, was a hundred steps from the 
water, the store and warehouse of the single trader, who 
supplied the wants and ambitions of the hundred in- 
habitants of Niau and endeavored to monopolize a 
meager output of copra and pearl shell. It was on a 
rude road, which stretched along the beach, edged by a 
dozen houses, small, wooden huts, or thatched straw 
shanties, much more primitive and poor than in Tahiti. 
All the remainder of Niau was coral, water, and cocoa- 
nut-trees, except a scanty vegetation. 

Thomas Eustace, the trader, or Tome, as the natives 
called him, was in the doorway of his establishment, 
awaiting the sailors who had begun at once to carry the 
Mararas freight from the boat through the moat. A 
quarter of a century ago, a broth of a boy from Ireland, 
he had stepped off a ship alongside the Papeete quay, 
and had never left the South Seas since. 

''Faix, I had the divil's own toime to shtay," say 
Tome, as we four sat by an empty barrel head and drank 
the warmish beer he had offered us with instant hospital- 
ity. 

"I waz that atthracted by the purty gir-ruls, the 
threes, and the foine-shmellin' flowers that the ould man 
of the ship nivir could dhraw me back to the pots an' 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 25 

pans iv the galley. I waz the flunky in the kitchin iv a 
wind-jammin' Sassenach bark, peelin' praties, an' 
waitin' on sailormin. The father iv a darlin' hid me out 
be Fautaua falls, an' the jondarmy hunted an' hunted, 
wid nothin' for their thrubble." 

A stoutish, quizzical man was Tomie, with 
brown face and throat and hands, a stubby, chewed 
mustache and sleepy, laughing eyes. By the purling 
steam of Fautaua, where Loti had lived his idyl with 
Rarahu and I had walked with a princess, Thomas 
Eustace became Tome forever and ever. He was well 
satisfied to be bashaw of an atoll, unused to greater com- 
fort as he was, and enamored of reef and palm, and the 
lazy, unstandardized life of the South Seas. 

"Ye may picther me," he went on, as he poured the 
beer, "jumpin' out iv the p'isonous galley iv that wind- 
jammin' man-killer, an' fallin', be the grace iv God, 
into a grove iv cocoanuts, wid roas' pig, breadfruit, and 
oranges fur breakfus, deejunee, an' dinner, to whistle 
low about a brown fairy that swung on the same branch 
wid me! The Emerald Isle the divil! 'T is Tahiti's 
the Tir-na'n-Og! This beats the bogs an' the peat an' 
the stirabout, wid no peeler to move you on, an' no 
soggarth to tell ye ye're a sinner!" 

Tome was ten years in Penrhyn, the noted pearl island 
belonging to New Zealand, and known as Tongareva. 
Lying Bill, McHenry, and Eustace were fellow-traders 
in that lonely spot. "Fellow" in such relations meant 
the affectionate intercourse of wolves who united to 
chase the sheep and quarrel over the carcass. McHenry 
and Tome had greeted each other with cold familiarity, 
each knowing the other through and through, wondering 



26 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

how the other would beat him, and yet not averse to an 
exchange of trade news and the gossip of Tahiti and 
the Group, as they called the Paumotus. 

"How 's old Lovaina?" asked Tome. 

"Chargin' as much as ever for her cheap scoffin's," 
replied McHenry, who had never eaten a better meal 
than that served at the Tiare Hotel. Eustace, I doubted 
not, was a square and genial man, but among his busi- 
ness kind he had to fight bludgeon with bludgeon. He 
opened a fresh cocoanut and diverted the mouth of an 
infant from its natural fount to make it swallow a few 
drops. The mother, a handsome, young woman, proud 
of her armful, gestured smilingly that Tome was its 
father. ' 

"Mavourneen dheelish!" he called her, and the baby, 
"Molly." 

Cocoanuts differ in kind and quality as much as 
apples, and Eustace gave me a kaipoa, which at his 
direction I ate, husks and all, and found it delicious. 

Leaving the two merchants to continue their armed 
banter, I stepped outside the store and struck off the 
road toward the center of the island, through fields of 
broken coral, mysterious in its oppositeness from all 
other terrestrial formations. There was no earth that 
one could see or feel, but a matted vegetation in spots 
showed that even in these whited sepulchers of the coral 
animals outlandish plants had found the substance of 
life. The flora, though desperate in its poverty, was 
heartening in that it could survive at all. The lofty 
cocoanut-palm, standing straight as a mast or curving 
in singular grace, grew luxuriantly — the evergreen 
banner of this giant fleet of anchored ships of stone. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 27j 

Through a few hundred yards of this weird desert- jun- 
gle, I reached the lagoon which the inner marge of the 
great coral reef inclosed. 

No lake that I have seen approached this mere 
in simple beauty, nor had artist's vision wrought 
a more startling, extravagant, yet perfect work of 
color. The lagoon of Niau was small enough to 
encompass with a glance from where I stood. I 
felt myself in an enchanted spot. Niau was not 
all wooded. For long stretches only the white coral 
lined the shores, with here and there the plumy 
palms refreshing the eyes — brilliant in contrast with 
the bare sheen of the coral, and softly rustling in the 
breeze. 

The water of the lagoon was palest blue, verging to 
green, clear almost as the pure air, and the beach shelved 
rapidly into depths. 

The beach was made up of tiny shells crumbling into 
sand, billions and billions of them in the twenty miles 
about the lagoon. In each of the legion coral isles this 
was repeated, so that the mind contemplating them was 
confused at the incalculable prodigality of the life ex- 
pended to build them and the oddity of the problem ar- 
ranged by the power planning them. 

"Every single atom, from the least particle to the 
largest fragment of rock, in this great pile," said Dar- 
win, "bears the stamp of having been subjected to organ- 
ized arrangement. We feel surprised when travelers 
tell U'S of the vast dimensions of the Pyramids and other 
great ruins, but how utterly insignificant are the greatest 
of these when compared to these mountains of stone ac- 
cumulated by the agency of various minute and tender 



28 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

animals. This is a wonder which does not at first strike 
the eye of the body, but, after reflection, the eye of 
reason." 

I sat down under a dwarf cocoanut and let my eyes 
and mind dwell upon the gorgeousness of the prospect 
and the insight into nature's reticences it afforded. 
Everywhere were the tombs or skeletons of the myriad 
creatures who had labored and died to construct these 
footstools of Might. Could man assume that these eons 
of years and countless births, efforts, and deaths, were 
for any concern of his? But else, he asked, why were 
they? To show the boundless power and caprice of the 
Creator? Was not the world made for humanity? 

An atoll was to an island as a comet to a star — a freak 
or sport in the garden of the sea-gods. It was as if the 
Designer had planned to set up, in the thousand miles 
of ocean through which the Dangerous Islands stretched, 
a whimsical cluster of shallower salt lakes, and so had 
bidden trillions of tiny beings to inclose them. For, 
after all, an atoll was but a lagoon surrounded by a reef 
of coral, or rather two reefs, for in the plan of the 
Architect there was built a second reef for every atoll, 
and this outer barrier was sunken, as the one through 
which we had come, but yet took the brunt of the waves, 
and prevented them from washing away and destroying 
the innner and habitable reef on which I then sat. 

This hidden shoal belted the beach regularly, so that 
it made a moat between the two ; and yet in most atolls 
there was such an opening as that through which we had 
come, often a mere depression, sometimes a deep and 
wide mouth. One was forced to consider whether the 
Architect had not taken man into his scheme, for with- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 29 

out such an opening no people could reach the shore and 
lagoon. But the grievous fact was that in some atolls 
the minute workers had left no door and that man himself 
had torn one open with tools and explosives. Even once 
within the moat, our boat was in comparative safety only 
in the mildest weather, for the moat was studded with 
lumps and boulders of coral, and the most crafty guard- 
ianship was imperative to keep our craft whole. 

If there had been an entry through the inner shore 
into the peaceful lagoon by which I lolled, then would 
anchorage and calm have been assured. So, of course, 
nature had in some other atolls than Niau attended to 
this detail, and these I was to find more inhabited and 
more developed, for in some even schooners might seek 
the haven of the lake, and a fleet lie there in security. 
The lagoons were thus, generally, safe and unflurried, 
though sometimes terribly harried by cyclones, such as 
Lying Bill described the Dane as riding from sea to 
sea across the entire island of Anaa. 

Each of the Paumotus was made up of a number of 
motus, or islets, parted by lower strata in which was the 
moat water. This string of motus assumed many dis- 
similar figures. One had fifty pieces in its puzzle — a 
puzzle not fully solved by science, or, at least, still 
in dispute. The motus were all formed of coral rock 
of comparatively recent origin geologically. Were 
these atolls the mountain-tops of a lost Atlantis or 
thrust-up marine plateaus? The wise men differed. 
A theory was that the atolls were coral formations upon 
volcanic islands that had slowly sunk, each a monument 
marking an engulfed island or mountain peak. 

Another, that volcanic activity, which mothered the 



30 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

high islands in these seas, caused to rise from the bottom 
of the ocean a series of submerged tablelands, leveled 
by the currents and waves, on which the coral insects 
erected the reefs — reefs just peeping above the surface 
of the water — and on which the storms threw great 
blocks of madrepores and coral broken from the mass. 
When in this condition, mere rocky rings of milky coral, 
over which each billow swept, without life or aught else 
than the structures of the marvelous zoophytes, floors 
cut and broken here and there by the surging and 
pounding breakers, the hand of the Master raised them 
up, as through Polynesia other islands had been raised, 
and fixed these Paumotus as the fairest growths of 
Neptune's park. 

Lifted above the watery level, they were able to begin 
their task of usefulness. Seeds carried by currents, 
borne by the winds, or brought by those greatest of all 
pioneers and settlers of new countries, the sea-birds, 
were flung on these ready, but yet barren, atolls, and 
vegetation gave them an entrancing present. 

Volcano and insect combined to make these coral 
blossoms of the South Seas so different from any other 
mundane formations that the man with any dreaming 
in his soul stood awe-struck at the wonder and artistry 
of nature. They were the most wonderful and simple 
of nature's works. They eluded portrayal by brush 
and camera. No canvas or film could grasp their sym- 
metry and grace, seize more than a fragment of their 
alluring form or hint of their admirable colors. Ravish- 
ing scenes from the deck of a ship, and marvels of con- 
struction and hue when upon them, they were sad and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 31 

disappointing to the dweller, like a lovely woman who 
has a bad disposition. 

Circles, ovals, and horseshoes, regular and irregular, 
a few niiles or a hundred in circumference, the Pau- 
motus were always essentially the same — the lagoon and 
the fringe of reef and palm. These lies D anger euses 
were the supreme in creation in harmonious light and 
shade. They were the very breath of imagination. 
My thoughts harked back to the dawn of Hfe, and the 
struggle between the land and water in which continents 
and islands were drowned, and others rose to be the 
home of beast and man, when God said, "Let the dry 
land appear." 

These atolls had fought the ceaseless war which 
slowly, but eternally, shifted our terrestrial foothold. 
Makatea, nearer Tahiti, lifted its strange cliffs two hun- 
dred feet in the air. It had been raised by subterra- 
nean force thirty-five fathoms from the sea-level, and 
its coasts were vertical walls of that height. 

The young Darwin's theory appealed even with these 
examples of resurgence. It was improbable that an 
elevatory force would uplift through an immense area 
great, rocky banks within twenty or thirty fathoms of 
the surface of the sea, and not a single point above that 
level. Where on the surface of the globe was a chain 
of mountains, even a few hundred miles in length, with 
their many summits rising within a few feet of a given 
level, and not one pinnacle above it? Yet that was the 
condition in these atolls, for the coral animal could not 
live more than thirty fathoms or so below the atmosphere, 
so that the basic foundations of the atolls, on which the 



32 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

mites laid their offerings and their bones, were fewer 
than two hundred feet under the surface. The polyp 
gnome died from the pressure of water at greater 
depths. Just outside the reefs or between the 
atolls, the depths were often greater than a mile 
or two. 

The vague science I possessed stimulated the memo- 
ries of my reading of that oldest civilization in tradition, 
the immense continent of Pan, which a score of millen- 
niums ago, according to the poet archaeologists, flour- 
ished in this Pacific Ocean. Its cryptogram attended 
in many spots the discovery of a new Rosetta stone. 
I myself had seen huge monoliths, half -buried pyramids 
and High Places, hieroglyphs and carvings, certainly 
the fashioning of no living races. Were these Pau- 
motus, and many other islands from Japan to Easter, 
the tops of the submerged continent. Pan, which 
stretched its crippled body along the floor of the Pa- 
cific for thousands of leagues? There were legends, 
myths, customs, inexplicable absences of usages and 
knowledge on the part of present peoples, all perhaps 
capable of interpretation by this fascinating theory of 
a race lost to history before Sumer attained coherence 
or Babylon made bricks. 

Over this land bridge, mayhap, ventured a Caucasian 
people, the dominant blood in Polynesia to-day, and 
when the connecting links in the chain to their cradle 
fell from the sights of sun and stars, the survivors were 
isolated for ages on the islands like Tahiti and the Mar- 
quesas. On the mountain-tops, plateaus beneath the 
water, the coral insect built up these atolls until they 
stood in their wondrous shapes splendid examples of 




3 



o 

■u 

c3 

3 
O 

a 

e3 
PL, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 33 

nature's self -arrested labor, sculptures of unbelievable 
brilliancy. 

To them came first Caucasians who had been spared 
in the cataclysm, and later the new sailors of giant 
canoes who followed from Asia the line of islets and 
atolls, fighting with and conquering the Caucasians, 
and merging into them in the course of generations. 
These first and succeeding migrations must have been 
forced by devastating natural phenomena, by terrible 
economic pressure, by wars and tribal feuds. It was 
not probable that any people deliberately chose these 
atolls in preference to the higher lands, but that they 
occupied them in lieu of better on account of evil for- 
tune. 

These eighty Paumotu islands averaged about forty 
miles apart, with only two thousand people in all of 
them, which would allow, if equally distributed, only 
twenty-five inhabitants to each. On more than half 
of them no person lived, and all the others were scantily 
peopled. Three or four hundred might occupy one 
atoll where shell and cocoanuts were bountiful and fish 
plentiful and good, while two score and more atolls 
were left for the frigate-bird to build its nest and for 
the robber-crab to eat its full of nuts. 

The thud of a cocoanut beside me stirred me from my 
reverie. I was wet with the wading ashore and the 
sweat of my walk, and so I removed my few garments 
and plunged into the lagoon. Going down to test the 
declivity a yard or so from the water's edge I dropped 
twenty feet and touched no bottom. The water was 
limpid, delicious, and I could see the giant coral fans 
waving fifty feet below me. 



34 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

As I loitered on my back in the water, and looked 
down into the crystal depths and at the clou'dless sky, 
I had a moment's phantasm of a great city, its lofty 
trade battlements, its crowded streets, the pale, set 
faces of its people, the splendor of the rich houses, the 
squalor of the tenements, the police with clubs and guns, 
and the shrieking traffic. Here was the sweetest con- 
trast, where man had hardly touched the primitive work 
of nature. It was long from Sumer, and far from 
Gotham. 

I was floating at ease when I heard a voice. It 
seemed to come out of the water. It was soft and al- 
most etheric. 

"Maitair it said, which meant, "You 're all right." 

I turned on my side, and by my garments was a 
long, gaunt Niauan, with a loose mouth, loafing there, 
with his eyes fawning upon me. He smiled sweetly, 
and said, "Goodanighta!" 

As it was hardly seven o'clock in the morning, the 
sun a ball of fire, and the glare of the reef like the shine 
of a boy's mirror in one's eyes, I argued against his 
English education. But courtesy is not correction. 
I said in kind, "Goodanighta!" He came into the 
water and repaid me by shaking my hand, and with a 
movement toward the beach, said, "Damafina!" 

''Maitail" I corroborated his opinion, and then he 
beckoned to me to leave the lagoon and follow him. I 
dressed, all moist as I was, and we returned toward the 
village, I wondering what design on me he had. 

"She canna fik (fix) you show Niau," my cicerone 
explained, as he waved toward the island. 

"All right, good, number one," I assented. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 35 

He laughed with pleased vanity at his success in con- 
versing with me in my tongue and at the envious looks 
of the people on their tiny porches as we passed them, 
and I saluted them. 

"Momuni! Momunir they called after him with 
scornful laughter, and beckoned me to leave him and 
join them. 

"Haere mat!" they said, sweetly to me. Come to 
us!" 

My guide did not like either the name they gave 
him or their efforts to alienate us. He retorted with 
an impolite gesticulation, and cried, ''Popay! Popay!" 
Momuni, though, was plainly nervous, and afraid that 
I might be won over by the opposition. He plucked me 
by my wet sleeve and directed me to a shanty of old 
boards set upon a platform of coral rocks four feet 
from the bed of the atoll. In its single room on a 
white bedspread were a dozen loaves of bread, crisp 
and white, and smelling appetizingly. He lifted one, 
squeezed it to show its sponginess, and put it to my 
nose. He sniffed, and said, "She the greata coo-ooka." 

I guessed that he referred to himself as the baker. 
He pointed out toward the schooner and made me 
understand that this baking was a present to me. I 
was embarrassed, and with many flourishes explained 
that the Tahitian cook of the Marara could not be com- 
pared with him as a bread-maker, but that he was of 
a jealous disposition and might resent bitterly the gift. 
My companion was cast down for a moment, but bright- 
ened with another idea. Through a hundred yards 
more of coral bones we plowed to his oven, a huge, coral 
stove like a lime-kiln, with a roof, and bags of Victor 



36 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

flour from the Pacific Coast beside it. Pridefully he 
made me note everything, as an artist might his studio. 

Momuni then touched my arm, and said, "^Haere! 
We can do." 

We walked along the beach of the lagoon and found 
a road that paralleled the one we had come. It was 
lower than the other and the rain had flooded it. The 
water was brown and stagnant, even red in pools, Hke 
blood. Uncanny things shot past my feet or crawled 
upon them, and once something that had not the feel 
of anything I knew of climbed the calf of my leg, and 
when I turned and saw it dimly I leaped into the air and 
kicked it off. I heard it plop into the dark water. 

Down this marsh we plodded and paddled, floundered 
and splashed for half a mile. The cocoanut-palms 
arched across it, but there was not a person nor a habita- 
tion in view. I wondered why "she the great cook" 
had led me into this morass. Momuni looked at me 
mysteriously several times, and his lips moved as if he 
had been about to speak. 

He studied my countenance attentively, and several 
times he patted and rubbed my back affectionately and 
said, "You damafina." Then, slimy and sloppy as I 
was. covered with the foul water up to my waist, when 
we were in the darkest spot Momuni halted and drew 
me under a palm. 

He would either seek to borrow money or to cut 
my throat, I thought hastily. Again he scanned me 
closely, and I, to soften his heart and avert the evil, 
tried to appear firm and unafraid. To my astonish- 
ment he took from his pocket five five-franc notes, those 
ugly, red-inked bills which are current in all the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 37 

Etahlissements Frangais de r Oceanic, and held them 
under my nose. He smiled and then made the motion 
of pulling a cork, and of a bottle's contents gurgling 
through his loose mouth and down his long neck. 

I shuddered at my thoughts. Could it be that in this 
dry atoll, with intoxicants forbidden, and prison the 
penalt}'' of selling or giving them to a native, this hospi- 
table Niauan had offered me his bread and shown me his 
oven, and the glories of the isle, and was displaying 
those five red notes to seduce me into breaking the law, 
into smuggling ashore a bottle of rum or wine ? 

I was determined to know the worst. I drew from 
my drawers (I had worn no trousers) an imaginary 
corkscrew, and from my undershirt an unsubstantial 
bottle. I pulled a supposititious cork, and took a long 
drink of the unreal elixir. Momuni was transfixed. 
His jaws worked, and his tongue extended. He 
squeezed my hand with happiness and hope, and left 
in it the five scarlet tokens of the Banque de Vlndo- 
Chine. 

"Wina damafina; rumma damafina," he confided. 
The man would be content with anything, so it bit his 
throat and made him a king for an evil hour. 

Tome was dealing out tobacco when we reached his 
store. His wife and baby, an Irish-Penrhyn baby, 
were now eating a can of salmon and Nabisco wafers. 

"Who is this gentleman, Mr. Eustace?" I asked, 
pointing to Momuni. 

"He 's an omadhaun, a nuisance, that he is, sure," 
said Tome. "He 's a Mormon deacon that peddles 
bread an' buys his flour from some one else because I 
won't trust him. He 's the only Mormon in this blessed 



38 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

island. Every last soul is a Roman Cat'lic, except me, 
and I 'm a believer in the leprechawn. Has that hooli- 
gan been thryin' to work ye for a bottle of rum? He '11 
talk a day for a drink." 

"What 's Momuni and Popayl" 

"Momuni is the way they say 'Mormons.' The 
other's the pope wid the accint on the last syllable. 
It 's the name for Cat'lics all over these seas, because 
they worship the pope iv Rome. The Popays run this 
island, but the Momunis have got Takaroa and some 
others by the tail." 

I turned to look at my guide, the bread-maker. I 
had new admiration for him. It took courage to be the 
one Mormon among a hundred Catholics, and to try 
to sell them the staff of life. But he could not with- 
stand the withering glances of Tome, and fled, with 
gestures to me which I could only hazard to mean to 
meet him later in the fearsome swamp, with the rum. 

"Does Momuni owe you any money?" I asked the 
trader, who was lighting his wife's cigarette. 

"Does he? He owes me forty francs for flour, and 
I '11 nivir see the shadow iv them. I '11 tell ye, though, 
he 's the best baker in the Group, an' they 're crazy 
about his bread." 

Eustace had no cargo for us, and McHenry and I 
caught the last boat for the Marara, Moet having stayed 
for one trip only. 

"Come an' shtay wid us a month or two," said Tome 
in farewell. "We '11 make ye happy and find ye a 
sweetheart! 'T is here ye can shpend yer valibil time 
doin' nawthin' at all, at all." 

He laughed heartily at his joke on virtue, and as we 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 39 

dashed through the surf to climb into the boat I turned 
to see him teUing the assembhng villagers some story 
that might provoke a laugh and keep their copra a mo- 
nopoly for him. 



CHAPTER III 

Perilous navigation — Curious green sky — Arrival at Anaa — Religion and 
the movies — Character of Paumotuans. 

A CURRENT set against us all night. Now I 
understood fully the alarms and misgivings 
that had caused the first and following dis- 
coverers of the "Pernicious Islands" to curse them by 
the titles they gave them. Our current was of the 
mischievous sort that upset logarithms and dead reckon- 
ing, and put ships ashore. 

"This group is a graveyard of vessels," said Mc- 
Henry, "and there 'd be ten times as many wrecked, 
if they come here. Wait till you see the County of 
Hoochurgh at Takaroa! I 've been cruisin' round here 
more 'n twenty years, and I never saw the current the 
same. The Frog Government at Papeete is always 
talkin' about puttin' lighthouses on a half-dozen of these 
atolls, -but does nothin'. Maybe the chief or a trader 
hangs a lantern on top of his house when he expects a 
cargo for him, but you can't trust those lights, and 
you can't see them in time to keep from hittin' the reef. 
There 's no leeway to run from a wind past beating. 
It 's lee shore in some bloody direction all the time. 

"There 's a foot or two between high and low, and 
it 's low in the lagoon when the moon is full. It 's 
high when the moon rises and when it sets. In atolls 
where there 's a pass into the lagoon, there 's a hell 

40 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 41 

of a current in the lagoon at the lowerin' tide, and in 
the sea near the lagoon when the tide is risin'. 
We're goin' to beat those tides with engines. 
In five years every schooner in the group will have an 
auxiliary. There's only one now, the Fetia Taiao, and 
she 's brand new. It used to be canoes, and then whale- 
boats, and then cutters here, and purty soon it '11 be 
gasolene schooners." 

Then will the cry arise that romance has perished of 
artificiality. But the heart of man is always the same, 
and nothing kills romance but sloth. 

We battled with the current and a fresh wind during 
the long, dark hours, Jean Moet never leaving the deck, 
and I keeping him company. Below on a settee Vir- 
ginie said her beads or slept. I could see her by the 
smudgy cabin lamp, and hear her call to her husband two 
or three times, hours apart, "^a va hie7i?" Jean would 
answer in Tahitian, as to a sailor, ''Maitai," and invari- 
ably would follow his mechanical reply, with ''Et tot, 
dors-tu?" 

Ever light-hearted, currents nor squalls could burden 
his Gascon spirit. He looked at the stars, and he 
looked at the water, he consulted with the mate, and 
gave orders to the steersman. 

''Eh b'en/^ he said to me, ''moij, I am comme monsieur 
ze gouverneur ov ze Paumotu who live een Favarava, 
over zere." He pointed into the darkness. " 'E 'as a 
leetle schoonaire an' 'e keep ze court and ze calaboose, 
bot mos'ly 'e lis'en to ze musique an' make ze dance. 
La vie est triste; vive la bagatelle! Maybee we pick 
op Anaa in ze morning. Eef not, amigo mio, Virginie 
she weel pray for nous both. 



42 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Anaa, or Chain Island, as Captain Cook named it be- 
cause of its eleven motus or islets, strung like emeralds 
and pearls in a rosary, was not visible at daybreak, but 
as I studied the horizon the sky turned to a brilliant 
green. I thought some dream of that Tir-na'n-Og 
spoken of by Tome in Niau obsessed me. I turned my 
back and waited for my eyes to right themselves. One 
sees green in the rainbow and green in the sunset, but 
never had I known a morning sky to be of such a hue. 
McHenry came on deck in his pajamas, and looked 
about. 

''Erin go hraghr he remarked. "Ireland is castin' 
a shadow on the bloody heaven. There," he pointed, "is 
the sight o' the bleedin' world. You 've never seen it 
before an' you won't see it again, unless you come to 
Anaa in the mornin' or evenin' of a purty clear day. 
It 's the shinin' of the lagoon of Anaa in the sky, an' 
it 's nowhere else on the ball. There 's many a Kanaka 
in 'is canoe outa sight o' land has said a prayer to his 
god when he seen that green. He knew he was near 
Anaa. You can see that shine thirty or thirty-five 
miles away, hours before you raise the atoll." 

Some curious relation of the lagoon to the sky had 
painted this hazy lawn on high. It was like a great 
field of luscious grass, at times filmy, paling to the color 
of absinthe touched with water, and again a true aqua- 
marine, as I have seen the bay of Todos Santos, at En- 
senada of Lower California. Probably it is the shal- 
lowness of the waters, which in this lagoon are strangely 
different from most of the inland basins of the South 
Sea Isles. To these mariners, who moved their little 
boats between them, the mirage was famed; and the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 4a 

natives had many a legend of its origin and cause, and of 
their kind being saved from starvation or thirst by its 
kindly glint. 

McHeniy called down the companionway, "Hey, 
monster, you can see the grass on Anaa. Vite-vite!" 

Moet, who was below, drinking a cup of coffee, leaped 
up the companionway. He called out swift orders to 
go over on the other tack, and headed straight for the 
mirage. The schooner heeled to the breeze, now fresh- 
ening as the sun became hotter, and we reeled off six 
or seven knots with all canvas drawing. In an hour 
the celestial plot of green had vanished, fading out 
slowly as we advanced, and we began to glimpse the 
cocoanuts on the beach, though few trees showed on 
the sky-line, and they were twisted as in travail. 

Anaa, as others of these islands and Tahiti, too, had 
suffered terribly by a cyclone a few years ago. More 
than any other island of this group Anaa had felt the 
devastating force of the mat at rorofai, the "wind that 
kills" — the wind that slew Lovaina's son and made her 
cut her hair in mourning. Hikueru lost more people, 
because there were many there; but Anaa was 
mangled and torn as a picador's horse by the horns of 
the angry bull. A half-mile away we could plainly 
see the havoc of wind and wave. The reef itself had 
been broken away in places, and coral rocks as big as 
houses hurled upon the beach. 

"I was there just after the cyclone," said McHenry. 
"It was a bloomin' garden before then, Anaa. It was 
the only island in the Paumotus in which they grew 
most of the fruits as in Tahiti, the breadfruit, the 
banana, the orange, lime, mango, and others. It may 



44 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

be an older island than the others or more protected 
usually from the wind; but, anyhow, it had the richest 
soil. The Anaa people were just like children, happy 
and singin' all the time. That damned storm knocked 
them galley-west. It tore a hole in the island, as you 
can see, killed a hundred people, and ended their pros- 
perity. There was a Catholic church of coral, old and 
bloody fine, and when I got here a week after the cy- 
clone I could n't find the spot where the foundations 
had been. I came with the vessels the Government 
sent to help the people. You never seen such a sight. 
The most of the dead were blown into the lagoon or lay 
under big hunks of coral. People with crushed heads 
and broken legs and arms and ribs were strewn all 
around. The bare reef is where the village was, and 
the people who went into the church to be safe were 
swept out to sea with it." 

As at Niau, the schooner lay off the shore, and the 
long-boat was lowered. In it were placed the cargo, 
and with Moet, McHenry, and me, men, women, and 
children passengers, four oarsmen and the boat-steerer, 
it was completely filled, we sitting again on the boxes. 

Once more the Flying Fish towed the boat very near 
to the beach, and at the cry of "Let go!" flung away 
the rope's end and left us to the oars. The passage 
through the reef of Anaa was not like that of Niau. 
There was no pit, but a mere depression in the rocks, 
and it took the nicest manceuvering to send the boat in 
the exact spot. As we approached, the huge boulders 
lowered upon us, threatening to smash us to pieces, and 
we backed water and waited for the psychological mo- 
ment. The surf was strong, rolling seven or eight feet 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 45 

high, and crashing on the stone with a menacing roar, 
but the boat-steerer wore a smile as he shouted, "Tamau 
te paina!" 

The oars lurched forward in the water, the boat rose 
on the wave, and onward we surged; over the reef, 
scraping a little, avoiding the great rocks by inches al- 
most, and into milder water. The sailors leaped out, 
and with the next wave pulled the boat against the 
smoother strand; but it was all coral, all rough and all 
dangerous, and I considered well the situation before 
leaving the boat. I got out in two feet of water and 
raced the next breaker to the higher beach, my camera 
tied on my head. 

There was no beach, as we know the word — only a 
jumbled mass of coral humps, millions of shells, some 
whole, most of them broken into bits, and the rest mere 
coarse sand. On this were scattered enormous masses 
of coral, these pieces of the primitive foundation up- 
heaved and divided by the breakers when the cyclone 
blew. The hand of a Titan had crushed them into 
shapeless heaps and thrown them hundreds of feet to- 
ward the interior, the waves washing away the soil, 
destroying all vegetation, and laying bare the crude 
floor of the island. From the water's edge I walked 
over this waste, gleaming white or milky, for a hundred 
yards before I reached the copra shed of Lacour, a 
French trader, and sat down to rest. The sailors bore 
the women and children on their shoulders to safety, and 
then commenced the landing of the merchandise for La- 
cour. Flour and soap, sugar, biscuit, canned goods, 
lamps, piece goods; gauds and gewgaws, cheap jewelry, 
beads, straw for making hats, perfumes and shawls. 



46 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Lacour, pale beneath his deep tan, black-haired and 
slender, greeted us at the shed with the dead-and-alive 
manner of many of these island exiles, born of torrid 
heat, long silences, and weariness of the driven flesh. 
A cluster of women lounged under a tohonu tree, the 
only shade near-by, and they smiled at me and said, 
^'la or a na oe!" 

I strolled inland. It was an isle of desolation, rav- 
aged years ago, but prostrated still, swept as by a gi- 
gantic flail. Everywhere I beheld the results of the 
cataclysm. 

Picking up shells and bits of coral at haphazard, I 
came upon the bone of a child, the forearm, bleached 
by wind and rain. Few of the bodies of the drowned 
had been interred with prayer, but found a last resting- 
place under the coral debris or in the maws of the sharks 
that rode upon the cyclone's back in search of prey. 

It was very hot. These low atolls were always ex- 
cessively warm, but not humid. It was a dry heat. 
The reflection of the sunlight on the blocks of coral and 
the white sand made a glare that was painful to whites, 
and made colored glasses necessaiy to shield their eyes. 
Temporary blindness was common among new-comers, 
thus unprotected. 

I walked miles and never lost the evidence of violence 
and loss. There was an old man by a coral pen, in 
which were three thin, measly pigs, a gi-ayish yellow in 
color. He showed me to a small, wooden church. 

"There are four Catholic churches in Anaa," he said, 
"with one priest, and there are three hundred souls all 
told in this island. The priest goes about to the dif- 
ferent churches, but money is scarce. This New Year 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 47 

the contribution was so trifling, the priest, who knew the 
bishop in Papeete would demand an accounting, sent 
word to know why — and what do you think he got back? 
That Lacour, the trader, with his accursed cinemato- 
graph, had taken all the money. He charged twenty- 
five cocoanuts to see the views in his copra shed, and 
they are wonderful; but the churches are empty. We 
are all Katorika" 

"Katorihar I queried. "That is Popay?" 

The old man frowned. 

"Popay! That is what the Porotetani [Protestants] 
call the Katorika. I am the priest's right hand. But 
we are poor, and Lacour, with his store and now with 
his machine that sets the people wild over cowaboyas, 
and shows them the Farani [French] and the Amariti 
[Americans] in their own islands — there is no money 
for the church." 

I interrupted the jeremiad of the ancient acolyte. 

"Was there nothing left of the old church?" I asked. 

The hater of cinematographs took me into the humble 
wooden structure, and there were a bronze crucifix and 
silver candlesticks that had been in the coral edifice. 

"I saved them," he said proudly. "When I saw the 
wind was too great, when the church began to rock, I 
took them and buried them in a hole I dug. I did this 
before I climbed the tree which saved me from the big 
wave. Ah, that was a real cathedral. The people of 
Anaa are changed. The best died in the storm. They 
want now to know what is going on in Papeete, the 
great world." 

A hundred years ago the people of Anaa erected three 
temples to the god of the Christians. For a century 



48 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

they have had the Jewish and Christian scriptures. 

Anaa had witnessed a bitter struggle between con- 
tending churches to win adherents. When France took 
hold, France was Catholic, and the priests had every op- 
portunity and assistance to do their pious work. The 
schools were taught by Catholic nuns. Their govern- 
mental subsidy made it difficult for the English Prot- 
estants to proselytize, and with grief they saw their 
flocks going to Rome. Only the most zealous Protes- 
tant missionaries were unshaken by the change. When 
the anti-clerical feeling in France triumphed, the Con- 
cordat was broken, and the schools laicized, the priests 
and nuns in these colonies were ousted from the schools ; 
the Catholic church was not only not favored, but, in 
many instances, was hindered by officials who were of 
anti-clerical feelings. The Protestant sects took heart 
again, and made great headway. The Mormons re- 
turned, the Seventh Day Adventists became active, and 
many nominal Catholics fell away. The fact was that 
it was not easy to keep Polynesians at any heat of re- 
ligion. They wanted entertainment and amusement, 
and if a performance of a religious rite, a sermon, re- 
vival, conference, or other solace or diversion was not 
offered, they inclined to seek relaxation and even pleas- 
ure where it might be had. Monotony was the sub- 
stance of their days, and relief welcomed in the most 
trifling incident or change. 

Lacour's wife, granddaughter of a Welshman but all 
native in appearance, sat with the other women under 
the tohonu tree when I returned. I had seen thousands 
of fallen cocoanut-trees rotting in the swamps, and had 
climbed over the coral fields for several miles. There 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

was no earth, only coral and shells and white shell-sand. 
Chickens evidently picked up something to eat, for I 
saw a dozen of them. In the lagoon, fish darted to and 
fro. 

Lacour's wife had a yellowish baby in her lap, and 
she wore earrings, a wedding-ring, and a necklace and 
bracelets. 

The boat was plying from the schooner to the shore, 
and I watched its progress. Piri a Tuahine held the 
steering oar, laughing, calling to his fellows to pull or 
not to pull, as I could see through a glass. A current 
affected the surf, increasing or decreasing its force at 
intervals, and it was now at its height. The boat en- 
tered the passage on a crest, but a following wave struck 
it hard, turned it broadside, and all but over. A flood 
entered the boat, but the men leaped out and, though 
up to their shoulders in the water, held it firm, and 
finally drew it close to the beach. The flour and the 
boxes and beds of native passengers were wetted, but 
they ran to the boat and carried their belongings near 
to the copra shed, and spread them to dry. Lacour 
cursed the boat and the sailors. 

Near Lacour's store was a house, in which lived Cap- 
tain Nimau, owner of a small schooner. Nimau invited 
me to sleep there and see the moving pictures. We had 
brought Lacour a reel or so, and in anticipation, the 
people of Anaa had been gathering cocoanuts for a week. 
The films were old ones that Tahiti had wearied of, and 
Lacour got them for a trifle. The theater was his copra 
house, and there were no seats nor need of them. 

He set the hour of seven for the show, and I alone 
stayed ashore for it. By six o'clock the residents began 



50 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

flocking to the shed with their entrance-fees. Each bore 
upon his back twenty-five cocoanuts, some in bags and 
others with the nuts tied on a pole by their husk. 
Fathers carried double or even triple quantities for their 
little ones, and each, as he arrived at Lacour's, counted 
the nuts before the trader. 

The women brought their own admission tickets. 
The acolyte, who had inveighed against the cinemato- 
graph, was second in line, and secured the best squat- 
ting space. His own cocoanuts were in Lacour's bin. 

When the screen was erected and the first picture 
flashed upon it, few of the people of Anaa were absent, 
and Lacour's copra heap was piled high. There were 
a hundred and sixty people present, and four thousand 
nuts in the box-office. 

The first film was concerned with the doings of Nick 
Winter, an English detective in France, a burlesque of 
Sherlock Hohnes, and other criminal literatures. The 
spectators could not make a head nor tail of it, 
but they enjoyed the scenes hugely and were 
intensely mystified by many pictures. An auto- 
mobile, which, by the trickery of the camera, was 
made to appear to climb the face of a sky-scraper, 
raised cries of astonishment and assertions of diablerie. 
The devil was a very real power to South Sea Islanders, 
whether they were Christians or not, and they had 
fashioned a composite devil of our horned and cloven- 
hoofed chap and their own demons, who was made re- 
sponsible for most trouble and disaster that came to 
them, and whose machinations explained sleight of 
hand, and even the vagaries of moving pictures. 

What pleased them most were cow-boy pictures, the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 51 

melodramatic life of the Wild West of America, with 
bucking bronchos, flying lassos, painted Indians whom 
they thought tattooed, and dashes of vaqueros, border 
sheriffs, and maidens who rode cayuses like Comanches. 
Tahiti was daft over cow-boys, and had adopted that 
word into the language, and these Anaans were vastly 
taken by the same life. Lacour explained the pictures 
as they unrolled, shouting any meanings he thought 
might pass; and I doubted if he himself knew much 
about them, for later he asked me if all cow-boys were 
not Spaniards. 

This was the first moving picture machine in these 
islands. Lacour had only had it a few weeks. He 
purposed taking it through the Group on a cutter that 
would transport the cocoanut receipts. Lacour, Nimau, 
and I sat up late. These Frenchmen save for a few 
exceptions were as courteous as at home. Peasants or 
sailors in France, they brought and improved with their 
position that striking cosmopolitan spirit which dis- 
tinguishes the Gaul, be he ever so uneducated. The 
English and American trader was suspicious, sullen or 
blatant, vulgar and often brutal in manner. The 
Frenchman had bonhomie, politeness. England and 
America in the South Seas considered this a weakness, 
and aimed at the contrary. Manners, of course, origi- 
nated in France. 

"This island is on the French map as La Chaine" 
said Captain Nimau, "but we who traverse these seas 
always use the native names. Those old admirals who 
took word to their king that they had discovered new 
islands always said, too, that they had named them 
after the king or some saint. A Spaniard selected a 



52 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

nice name like the Blessed Sacrament or the Holy 
Mother of God, or some Spanish saint, while a French- 
man chose something to show the shape or color of the 
land. The Englishman usually named his find after 
some place at home, like New England, New Britain, 
and so on. But we don't give a sacre for those names. 
How could we? All those fellows claimed to have been 
here first, and so all islands have two or three European 
names. We who have to pick them up in the night, 
or escape from them in a storm, want the native name 
as we need the native knowledge of them. The land- 
marks, the clouds, the smells, the currents, the passes, 
the depths — those are the items that save or lose us 
our lives and vessels. Let those vieux capitaines fight 
it out below for the honor of their nomenclature and 
precedence of discovery!" 

What recriminations in Hades between Columbus 
and Vespucci! 

"Take this whole archipelago!" continued Nimau. 
"The Tahitians named it the Poumotu or pillar islands, 
because to them the atolls seemed to rise hke white trees 
from the sea. But the name sounded to the people 
here like Paumotu, which means conquered or destroyed 
islands, and so, after a few petitions or requests by 
proud chiefs, the French in 1852 officially named them 
Tuamotu, distant, out of view, or below the horizon. 
That was more than a half century ago, but we still call 
them the Paumotu. There 's nothing harder to change 
than the old names of places. You can change a man's 
or a whole island's religion much easier." 

Near the little hut in which we were, Nimau's house, 
a bevy of girls smoked cigarettes and talked about me. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 53 

They had learned that I was not a sailor, not one of 
the crew of the Marara, and not a trader. What could 
I be, then, but a missionary, as I was not an official, 
because not French? But I was not a Catholic mis- 
sionary, for they wore black gowns ; and I could not be 
Mormoni nor Konito, because there in public I was 
with the Frenchmen, drinking beer. Two, who were 
handsome, brown, with teeth as brilliant as the heart of 
the nacre, and eyes and hair like the husks of the ripe 
cocoanut, came into the house and questioned Lacour. 

"They want to know what you are doing here," inter- 
preted Lacour. 

"I am not here to make money nor to preach the 
Gospel," I replied. 

The younger came to me and put her arms about 
me, and said : "Ei aha e reva a noho io neir And that 
meant, "Stay here always and rest with me!" 

After a while the acolyte joined us, and I put them 
all many questions. 

The Paumotuans were a quiet people, dour, or at 
least serious and contemplative. They were not like 
the Tahitians, laugh-loving, light-hearted, frenzied 
dancers, orators, music worshipers, feasters. The Tahi- 
tians had the joy of Hving, though with the melancholy 
strain that permeated all Polynesia. The folk of the 
Dangerous Archipelago were silent, brooding, and re- 
ligious. The perils they faced in their general vocation 
of diving, and from cyclones, which annihilated entire 
populations of atolls, had made them intensely suscep- 
tible to fears of hell-fire and to hopes of heaven. The 
rather Moslem paradise of Mormonism made strong ap- 
peal, but was offset by the tortures of the damned. 



54 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

limned by other earnest clerics who preached the old 
Wesley- Spurgeon everlasting suffering for all not of 
their sect. 

Had religion never affected the Paumotuans, their 
food would have made them a distinct and a restrained 
people. We all are creatures of our nourishment. 
The Tahitians had a plentitude of varied and delicious 
food, a green and sympathetic landscape, a hundred 
waterfalls and gentle rills. The inhabitants of these 
low isles had cocoanut and fish as staples, and often 
their only sustenance for years. No streams meander 
these stony beds, but rain-water must be caught, or 
dependence placed on the brackish pools and shallow 
wells in the porous rocks or compressed sand, which 
ebbed and flowed with the tides. 

To a Tahitian his brooks were his club, where often 
he sat or lay in the laughing water, his head crowned 
with flowers, dreaming of a life of serene idleness. 
Once or twice a day he must bathe thoroughly. He 
was clean; his skin was aglow with the effect of air 
and water. No European could teach him hygiene. 
He was a perfect animal, untainted and unsoiled, ac- 
customed to laving and massage, to steam, fresh, and 
salt baths, when Europeans, kings, courts, and com- 
moners went unwashed from autumn to summer; when 
in the "Lois de la Galanterie" written for beaux and 
dandies in 1640, it was enjoined that "every day one 
should take pains to wash one's hands, and one should 
wash one's face almost as often." 

Environment, purling rivulets under embowering 
trees, the most enchanting climate between pole and 
pole, a simple diet but little clothing, made the Tahitiar 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 55 

and Marquesan the handsomest and cleanest races in 
the world. Clothes and cold are an iron barrier to 
cleanliness, except where wealth affords comfort and 
privacy. Michelangelo wore a pair of socks many 
years without removing them. Our grandfathers 
counted a habit of frequent bathing a sign of weakness. 
In old New England many baths were thought con- 
ducive to immorality, by some line of logic akin to that 
of my austere aunt, who warned me that oysters led to 
dancing. 

The Paumotuan, before the white man made him a 
mere machine for gathering copra and pearl-shell and 
pearls, had a very distinct culture, savage though it 
was. He was the fabric of his food and the actions 
induced in him by necessity. Ellis, the interesting mis- 
sionary diarist of Tahiti and Hawaii, recorded that in 
1817, when at Afareaitu, on Moorea, he was printing 
for the first time the Bible in Tahitian "among the vari- 
ous parties in Afareaitu . . . were a number of natives 
of the Paumotu, or Pearl Islands, which lie to the north- 
west of Tahiti and constitute what is called the Danger- 
ous Archipelago. These numerous islands, like those of 
Tetuaroa to the north, are of coralline formation, and 
the most elevated parts of them are seldom more than 
two or three feet above high water mark. The princi- 
pal, and almost only, edible vegetable they produce is 
the fruit of the cocoanut. On these, with the numerous 
kinds of fishes resorting to their shores or among the 
coral reefs, the inhabitants entirely subsist. They ap- 
pear a hardy and industrious race, capable of enduring 
great privations. The Tahitians believe them to be 
cannibals. . . . They are in general firm and muscular. 



56 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

but of a more spare habit of body than the Tahitians. 
Their limbs are well formed, their stature generally 
tall. The expression of their countenance, and the 
outline of their features, greatly resemble those of the 
Society Islanders; their manners are, however, more 
rude and uncourteous. The greater part of the body 
is tattooed, sometimes in broad stripes, at others in 
large masses of black, and always without any of the 
taste and elegance frequently exhibited in the figures 
marked on the persons of the Tahitians." 

One who traveled much in the isolated parts of the 
world was often struck by the unfitness of certain popu- 
lated places to support in any comfort and safety the 
people who generation after generation persisted in liv- 
ing in them. For thousands of years the slopes of 
Vesuvius have been cultivated despite the imminent 
horror of the volcano above. The burning Paumotu 
atolls are as undesirable for residences as the desert of 
Sahara. Yet the hot sands are peopled, and have been 
for ages, and in the recesses of the frozen North the 
processes of birth and death, of love and greed, are as 
absorbing as in the Edens of the earth. Hateful as a 
lengthy enforced stay in the Paumotus might be to 
any of us, I have seen two Paumotuan youths dwelling 
abroad for the first time in their lives, eating delicious 
food and hardly working at all, weep hours upon hours 
from homesickness, a continuous longing for their atoll 
of Puka-ruhu, where they had half starved since birth, 
and where the equatorial typhoon had raped time 
and again. Nature, in her insistence that mankind 
shall continue, implanted that instinct of home in us 
as one of the most powerful agents of survival of the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 57 

species. Enduring terrible privation, even, we learned 
to love the scenes of our sufferings. Never was that 
better exemplified than in these melancholy and mad- 
dening-atoUs of the half -browned Archipelago. 



CHAPTER IV 

The copra market — Dangerous passage to shore at Kaukura — Our boat 
overturns in the pass — I narrowly escape death — Josephite Mis- 
sionaries — The deadly nohu— The himene at night. 

WORD we got at Anaa of a few tons of copra 
at Kaukura sent us hurrying there. The 
wind was against us, and we drew long sides 
of a triangle before we reached that atoll, which was, 
as our starting-point, at the base of the isosceles. Kau- 
kura was a divergence from our intended course, but 
these schooners were like birds of the air, which must 
take their sustenance as fortune wills. Copra was 
scarce, and competition in buying, fierce. The natives 
received about four cents a pound, but as payment 
was usually in goods, the Tahiti traders, who shipped 
copra to America and Europe, profited heavily. There 
were grades in copra, owing to the carelessness of the 
natives in drying it. Green or poorly-dried nuts 
shrank, and the nuts parched in kilns developed more 
undesirable creosote than sun-dried. All copra was 
sold by weight and quality, and it continually lessened 
in weight by evaporation of oil. Time was the essence 
of a good bargain. The sooner to the presses of the 
mainland, the greater the return. Crude mills in the 
Paumotus or Tahiti crushed out the oil formerly, and 
it was sealed in bamboo lengths, and these exported. 
These tubes, air-tight, were common mediums of ex- 
change, as wampum among Indians, or gold-dust in 

58 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 59 

Alaska. Modern processes extracted double the oil of 
the old presses, and the eight-foot sections of the long 
grass were almost obsolete for cocoanut-oil, and used 
mostly for sauces sold in the Papeete market-place. 

"Trade ain't what it was," said McHenry. "There's 
more traders than natives, almost. I remember when 
they were so crazy to exchange our stuff for their prod- 
uce, we 'd have the trade-room crowded all day, an' 
had to keep guns handy to chase the mob away, to add 
up the bloody figures. Now every atoll has its store, 
and the trader has to pat his copra-makers an' divers 
on the back, instead o' kickin' them the way we used 
to. The damn Frogs treat these Kanakas like they were 
white people, an' have spoiled our game. We can't 
trade in the Paumotus unless the schooner has a French 
registry and a French captain, — Lyin' Bill is a Frog 
citizen for not stealin' a vessel he had a chance to, — 
an' when you leave the Papeete you 've got to register 
every last drop o' booze you 've got aboard. It 's sup- 
posed to be only for us on the schooner, and for the 
whites in the Paumotus, or a few chieves who have 
permits, for bein' Froggy. But it 's the rotten mis- 
sionaries who hurt us, really. We could smuggle it 
in, but they tell on us." 

We had not caught a fish from the schooner, despite 
having a tackle rigged most of the days. I had fixed 
a bamboo rod, about eighteen feet long and very strong, 
on the rail of the waist of the vessel, and from it let 
trail a hundred feet or so of tough line. The hook was 
the most perfect for the purpose ever made by man. 
It was cut out of the mother-of-pearl lining of the 
Paumotuan pearl-oyster shell. It was about six inches 



60 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

long, and three quarters wide, shaped rudely like a 
flying-fish, and attached to it on the concave side was 
a barb of bone about an inch and a half in length, fas- 
tened with purau fiber, and a few hog's bristles inserted. 
The line was roved through the hole where the barb 
was fastened, and, being braided along the inner side 
of the pearl shank, was tied again at the top, forming 
a chord to the arch. Unbaited, the hook, by the pull 
of the schooner, skipped along the surface of the sea 
like a flying-fish. I had made a telltale of a piece of 
stick, and while McHenry and I talked and Jean Moet 
slept it snapped before my eyes. To seize the rod and 
hold on was the act of a second. I let out the entire 
five hundred feet of line, before the fish tired, and then 
it took four of us to drag him to the deck. He was a 
roroa, a kind of barracuda, about ten feet long, and 
weighing a couple of hundred pounds. 

The fish made a welcome change in our diet and was 
enough for all, including a number of Paumotuans who 
were returning to Takaroa for the opening of the div- 
ing season. Chocolat nibbled a head, but preferred 
the remnants of a can of beef. He improved daily 
in his tricks and in his agility in avoiding being hurtled 
into the water by the roll or pitch of the schooner. 
He had an almost incredible instinct or acquired knowl- 
edge of the motion of the Marara, and when I felt sure 
we had lost him — that he would fall overboard in an- 
other instant — he would leap to the deck and frolic 
about the wheel. The spokes of it were another con- 
stant threat to his health, for one blow when they spun 
fast might kill him; but he was reserved for a more 
horrid fate. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 61 

Kaukura rose from the sea at dawn, after a night 
of wearing and tacking. It was an atoll, irregularly 
annular in shape, twenty-six miles long and ten wide, 
wooded in patches, and with vast stretches where only 
the dazzling coral shone. It, too, had been spoiled in 
prosperity by an inimical wind and tide, and the cocoa- 
palms had been annihilated that had once grown upon 
all its many component islets. The cocoanut-tree lives 
more than eighty years, and does not fruit until seven 
years old, so that the loss of thousands of these life-giv- 
ing palms was a fearful blow. Each tree bore a hun- 
dred nuts annually, and that crop was worth to the 
owner for copra nearly a dollar, besides being much of 
his food. 

Landmarks we gradually discerned; a village, two 
churches, and a row of houses, and then the French 
tricolor on a pole. The surf broke with a fierce roaring 
on the reef, and when McHenry and I left the schooner, 
Moet stayed aboard, as the wind was ominous. There 
was no pass into the lagoon at this village, and even the 
pit in the barrier-reef had been made by French engi- 
neers. They had blown up the madrepore rock, and 
made a gateway for small boats. 

The schooner did not take our painter, for the breeze 
was too stiff for the venture, and so we had a half-mile 
to row. When we neared the reef and entered the pit, 
I felt that it was touch-and-go, for we rose and tot- 
tered on the huge swells, and dived into their hollows, 
with a prophetic certainty of capsizing. I could hardly 
keep on the box under me, and swayed forebodingly. 
Then suddenly the steering oar caught under a bank 
of coral. I barely heard the cry of Piri a Tuahine, 



62 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

''E era! There she goes!" when the boat rose on its 
stern with a twisting motion, as if a whale had struck 
it with its fluke, and turned turtle. I was slighted into 
the water at is topmost teeter, falling yards away from 
it, and in the air I seemed to see the Tahitians leaping 
for safety from its crushing thwarts and the cargo. 

McHenry's "What the bloody !" as we both 

somersaulted, was in my ears as I was plunged beneath 
the surface. 

With the fear of encountering the boat, the dark bulk 
of which I saw dimly above me, I swam hard under 
the water a dozen strokes, and rose to find myself be- 
neath the reef, which grew in broken ledges. When 
my head in stunning contact with the rock knelled a 
warning to my brain, I opened my eyes. There was 
only blackness. I dived again, a strange terror chilHng 
me, but when I came up, I was still penned from air 
in abysmal darkness. 

Now fear struck me weak. I realized my extraor- 
dinary peril, a peril glimpsed in nightmares. I had 
penetrated fifteen or twenty feet under the ledge, and 
I had no sense of direction of the edge of the coral. 
My distance from it was considerable; I knew by the 
invisible gloom. With a fleeting recollection of camera 
films in my shirt pocket, came the choking dread of 
suff'ocation, and death in this labyrinth. 

I supposed I invoked God and his Son to save me. 
Probably in my agony I promised big things to them 
and humanity if I survived. I kept my eyes open and 
struck out. After swimming a few yards I felt the 
coral shelving inwardly. I realized that I had gone 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 63 

farther from my only goal of life. I felt the end was 
close, but still in desperation moved my limbs vigor- 
ously. 

Then I felt the water lashing about me. Something 
seized my arm. Shark stories leaped from my mem- 
ory's cold storage to my very soul. My blood was an 
icy stream from head to toes. Singular to relate, I 
was aware of a profound regret for my murders of 
many sharks — who, after all, I reasoned with an ata- 
vistic impulse of propitiation, were but working out the 
wise plan of the Creator. But the animal that grasped 
my arm did not bite. It held me firmly, and dragged 
me out from that murky hell, until in a few seconds 
the light, God's eldest and loveliest daughter, appeared 
faintly, and then, bright as lightning, and all of a sud- 
den, I was in the center of the sun, my mouth open at 
last, my chest heaving, my heart pumping madly, and 
my head bursting with pain. I was in the arms of 
Piri a Tuahine, who, as all the other Tahitians, had 
swum under the reef in search of me. 

In the two or three minutes — or that half-hour — dur- 
ing which I had been breathless, the sailors had recap- 
tured the boat and were righting it, the oars still fas- 
tened to the gunwales. I was glad to be hauled into 
the empty boat, along with McHenry, who was sput- 
tering and cursing. 

"Gorbli-me!" he said, as he spat out salt water, "you 
made a bloody fool o' yerself doin' that ! Why did n't 
ye look how I handled meself ? But I lost a half-pound 
of tobacco by that christenin'." 

I was laid down on the cargoless seats, and the men 



64 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

rowed through the moat, smiling at me with a worthy 
sense of superiority, while McHenry dug the soaked 
tobacco out of his trousers pocket. 

"Ye can always trust the Kanaka to get ye out o' 
the water if ye capsize," said he, artfully. "We 've 
taught him to think o' the white man first. He damn 
well knows where he 'd get off, otherwise." 

A hundred feet farther, we came to a spit of rocks, 
which stopped progress. A swarm of naked children 
were playing about it. Assisted by the Tahitians I 
was lifted to my feet, and, with McHenry, continued 
to the sand. 

There I took stock of my physical self. I was bat- 
tered and bruised, but no bones were broken. My 
shins were scraped and my entire body bleeding as if 
a sharp steel comb had raked me. My head was bloody, 
but my skull without a hole in it, or even marked de- 
pression, except my usual one where phrenologists lo- 
cate the bump of reverence. I was sick at my stomach, 
and my legs bent under me. I knew that I would be 
as well as ever soon, unless poisoned, but would bear 
the marks of the coral. All these white men who jour- 
neyed about the Paumotus bore indelible scars of coral 
wound. 

My friend, the poet, Rupert Brooke, had been made 
very ill by coral poisoning. He wrote from the Tiare 
Hotel in Papeete : "I've got some beastly coral-poison- 
ing into my legs, and a local microbe on top of that, 
and made the places worse by neglecting them, and sea- 
bathing all day, which turns out to be the worst possible 
thing. I was in the country, at Mataiea, when it came 
on bad, and tried native remedies, which took all the 




a 
o 

V 

a 

o 

p 

-a 
H 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 65 

skin off, and produced such a ghastly appearance that 
I hurried into town. I Ve got over it now and feel 
spry." His nickname, Pupure, meant leprous, as well 
as fair, and was a joking double entendre by the natives. 

I was later, in the Marquesas, to see a man die of 
such poison received in the Paumotus. But, in Kau- 
kura, I had to make the best of it, and after a short 
rest began to see the sights. There was a crowd of 
people about, men and women, and still more children, 
all lighter than the Paumotuans in complexion and 
stouter in body. They were dressed up. The men 
were in denim trousers and shirts, and some with the 
stiff white atrocities suffered by urbanites in America 
and Europe. The women wore the conventional night- 
gowns that Christian propriety of the early nineteenth 
century had pulled over their heads. They were not 
the spacious holokus of Hawaii. These single gar- 
ments fitted the portly women on the beach as the skin 
of a banana its pulpy body — :and between me and the 
sun hid nothing of their roly-poly forms. I recognized 
the ahu vahine of Tahiti. 

"la ora na i te Atua!" the people greeted me, with 
winning smiles. "God be with you!" was its meaning, 
and their accent confirmed their clothing. They were 
Tahitians. I spoke to them, and they commiserated 
my sad appearance, and pointed out a tall young white 
man who came striding down the beach, his mouth 
pursed in an anxious question as he saw me. 

"Got any medicine on that hay wagon?" he asked. 
"We Ve got a bunch of dysentery here." 

I knew at once by his voice issuing through his nos- 
trils instead of his mouth, and by the sharp cut of his 



66 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

jib, that he was my countryman, and from the Middle 
West. He had the self-satisfied air of a Kansan. 

"The trade-room of the Marara is full of medical 
discoveries, perunas, Jamaica ginger, celery compounds, 
and other hot stuff," I replied, "but what they 11 cure 
I don't know. We have divers patent poisons known 
to prohibition." • 

"That 's all rotten booze. My people don't use the 
devilish stuff," he commented, caustically. He con- 
tinu-ed on, wading to the boat, and, after a parley, pro- 
ceeding with it to the schooner. 

McHenry had half determined to plant himself, at 
least temporarily, in Kaukura, and left me to spy on 
the store of a Chinese, who had brought a stock of goods 
from Papeete. I walked toward an enormous thatched 
roof, under which, on the coral strand, were nearly 
a thousand persons. The pungent smoke from a hun- 
dred small fires of cocoanut husks gave an agreeable 
tang to the air; the lumps of coral between which they 
were kindled were red with the heat, the odors rose from 
bubbling pots. All the small equipment of Tahitian 
travelers was strewn about. Upon mattresses and mats 
in the shed, the sides of which were built up several 
feet to prevent the intrusion of pigs and dogs, lay old 
people and children, who had not finished their slum- 
bers. Stands for the sale of fruits, ice, confections, 
soda-water, sauces, and other ministrants to hunger and 
habit bespoke the acquired tastes of the Tahitians; but 
most of the people were of Kaukura and other atolls. 

Kaukura alone had nearly a thousand inhabitants. 
Its lagoons were the richest in pearl of all the group. 
Being one of the nearest of the Paumotus to Tahiti, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 67 

it had been much affected by the proselytizing and com- 
mercializing spirits of that island — spirits often at vari- 
ance but now and again joined, as on a greater scale 
trust magnates capitalize and direct missions and reli- 
gious institutions with the left hand, while their right 
takes toll of life-killing mill and mine. 

The village was as attractive as a settlement could be 
in these benighted islands, the houses stretching along 
one or two roads, some in gala color. A small, sprightly 
white man was donning shirt and trousers on the ve- 
randa of the best residence at the end of the street. He 
was about forty years old, with a curiously keen face, 
a quick movement, and an eye like an electric light 
through a keyhole. 

"Hello," he said, briskly, "by golly, you 're not an 
American, are you? I 'm getting my pants on a little 
late. We were lip all hours last night, but I flatter my- 
self God was glad of it. Kidd 's my name ; Johnny 
Kidd, they call me in Lamoni. I 'm glad to meet you, 
Mr. ?" 

"O'Brien, Frederick O'Brien, of almost anywhere, 
except Lamoni," I replied, laughingly, his good-na- 
tured enthusiasm being infectious. 

He looked at me, inquiringly. 

"Not in my hne, are you?" he asked, with an apprais- 
ing survey of me. 

My head bleeding and aching, my body quivering 
with the biting pain of its abraded surface, I still sur- 
rendered to the irony of the question. I guessed that 
he was a clergyman from his possessive attitude to- 
ward God, but he was so simple and natural in manner, 
with so little of a clerical tone or gesture, that I would 



68 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

have thought him a street-faker or professional gambler 
had I had no clue to his identity. I remembered, too, 
the oft-quoted: "In my Father's house are many man- 
sions." 

"I 'm merely a beach-comber," I assured him. "I 
take a few notes now and then." 

"Ob, you 're not a sky-pilot," he went on, in comic 
relief. "You never can tell. Those four-flushing 
Mormons have been bringing a whole gang of young 
elders from Utah to Tahiti to beat us out. I 'm an 
elder myself of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ 
of Latter Day Saints. They usually call us the Jose- 
phites. In these islands we are Konito or Tonito. 
We 've been having a grand annual meeting here. Over 
sixty from Tahiti, and altogether a thousand and 
seventy members. They 've been gathering from most 
of the Paumotus for weeks, coming with the wind, but 
we 're about over now." 

"But I thought the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter 
Day Saints was the Mormons," said I, puzzled. 

"Mormon!" There was such vigor in his explosive 
catching up of my query that I may well be pardoned 
if I thought he placed the common name for Sheol after 
that of the sect. But it stands to reason that he did 
not. His whole training would stop such a word ere 
it escaped him. 

"Mormon! I should say not! Those grafters and 
polygamists are not our kind. They stole our name. 
We were the same until Brigham Young split off and 
led his crowd to Utah. Our headquarters is at La- 
moni, Iowa, but I. N. Imbel, who 's gone to the 
schooner, my partner, and I are the missionaries in these 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 69 

islands. We 're properly authorized ministers who 
make this our regular and whole business. My pal and 
I live in Papeete, but run through the Paumotus when 
there 's anything doing." 

The reverend fellow had no airs about him. 

"Sit down and take off your clothes and dry them, 
and I '11 rub your cuts with some liniment," he invited. 
"They '11 dry in the sun, and here 's a pareu to slip over 
you. I 'd hke to tell you more about our work, so 's 
you won't mix us up with those Mormons. They 're a 
tough bunch. My father 's the head of our mission in 
England, and I 'm in charge of these islands. Every 
year we have a business meeting. That 's what this is ; 
not a revival. We don't believe in that emotion game. 
We call it a 'reasonable service.' We take up a collec- 
tion, of course. We invite the natives to investigate 
pur claims. We have the custom to get converts by 
debating with the Mormons, but after we had accepted 
a challenge to meet them in Papeete the French gov- 
ernor stopped the show, because a French law forbade 
such meetings. They used to have riots in France, it 
seems. The Mormons teach polygamy and other 
abominations. They '11 tell you they don't, but they do. 
You ask any Mormon native if he believes in plural 
wives, and he '11 say yes, that the elders from America 
teach that it 's right. Those Mormons ran away from 
here once, when the French government scared them, 
and we got in and had most of the natives in the Pau- 
motus that the Catholics had n't kept. Then when 
the Mormons saw there was no danger, they came back 
here from Salt Lake. Oh, they 're a bad outfit. 
We 're regularly ordained ministers, not farmers off on 



70 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

a lark. This temple here cost a thousand dollars, with- 
out the labor. That was all voluntary. Wait a 
minute!" 

He dashed into a room, and returned with a pamphlet 
which purported to be the findings of the Court of 
Lake County, Ohio, and he read from it a decree that 
the Utah Mormons were a fragment and split off from 
the real simon-pure religion established by Joseph 
Smith in New York. I wished that Stevenson had 
been there to hear him, for I remembered his page of 
bewilderment at the enigma of the "Kanitu" and Mor- 
moni in the Paumotus, and how he made comparisons 
of the Holy Willies of Scotland, and a New Guinea 
god named Kanitu. His uninquiring mind had not 
solved the problem. 

"We beat those wolves in sheep's clothing in this 
court," said Elder Kidd, animatedly. "We 're the 
real church, and the Brighamites are a hollow sham." 

Mr. Kidd engaged my interest, true or pseudo-dis- 
ciple of Joseph Smith. He was so human, so guileful, 
and had such an engaging smile and wink. He seemed 
to feel that he was in a soul-saving business thoroughly 
respectable, yet needing to be explained and de- 
fended to the Gentile. His competitors' incompetency 
he deemed worthy of emphasis. 

"Not long ago," he said, "in certain of these Pau- 
motus there had been a good deal of backsliding from 
our church. Nobody had stirred them up, and with 
these people you have got to keep their souls awake all 
the time or they '11 go to sleep, or, worse, get into the 
control of those Mormons. They '11 steal a convert like 
you 'd peel a banana, and that 's what I call the limit 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 71 

of a dirty trick. The Mormons thought they had a 
puddin' in these backshders to pull them over to their 
side. I heard about it, and without a word to any one 
I took a run through the group. I went through that 
crowd of backsliders with a spiritual club, and I not 
only redeemed the old Josephites, but I baptized 
seventy-five others before you could run a launch from 
here to Anaa. It was like stealin' persimmons from 
a blind farmer whose dog is chained. I was talkin' 
to the head Mormon in Papeete shortly afterward, and 
he asked me what we were doin'. I counted off the 
seventy-five new ones, and he had to acknowledge his 
church had n't made a count in a long time. I offered 
to bet him anything he was beat to a finish, but he quit 
cold." 

The Reverend Mr. Kidd excused himself to go to 
the meeting-house and get his breakfast with some 
of his deacons. McHenry had returned from his tour 
of espionage. He was cast down at the poor chance 
for business. 

"There 's nothing doin'," he said. "Twenty years 
ago I was here with a schooner o' booze to a Konito 
meetin' like this. There was kegs o' rum with bloody 
tops knocked in right in the road. An' wimmin'! 
You 'd a-gone nuts tryin' to choose. This is what re- 
ligi'n does to business. A couple o' bleedin' chinks 
sellin' a few bottles o' smell water, an' a lot o' Tahitians 
with fruit an' picnic stuff. A thousand Kanakas in one 
bunch an' not one drunk. By cripes, the mishes have 
ruined the trade. The American Government ought 
to interfere. You and me had better skin out to west- 
'ard where there ain't so many bloody preachers, an' 



72 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

you can handle the Kanaka the way you want. To- 
night this mob '11 be in that meetin'-house singin' their 
heads off, instead o' buyin' rum and dancin' like they 
used to. Them two sky-pilots has got all the francs. 
Even the Chinks has n't made a turn. Kopcke of Pa- 
peete is here an' ain't made a sou. He 's goin'-a go 
to leeward." 

"McHenry," I interrogated, "do you never consider 
the other fellow? Aren't these poor people better off 
chanting hymns and praying than getting drunk and 
dancing the hula, just to make you money." 

He regarded me with contemptuous malice. 

"I knew after all you were a bloody missionary," he 
said, acridly. "I been on to you. You '11 be in that 
straw shed to-night singin' 'Come to Jesus.' You 'd 
better look out after your cuts ! You '11 be sore 'n a 
boil to-morrow when they get stiff. Let 's go back to 
the schooner and get drunk!" 

I was tempted to return to the Marara to ease my 
misery, and only the promise of Elder Kidd to assuage 
it with Hniment, and an ardent desire to attend the 
Josephite services that night, detained me in the heat 
of the atoll. McHenry persisting in his decision to 
cool his coppers in rum, and I to see everything of 
Kaukura, I joined with a friendly native for a stroll. 
The Josephite temple was a small coral edifice, washed 
white with coral lime. An old and uncared-for 
Catholic church was near-by. Most of the residences 
were thatched huts, or shacks made of pieces of boxes 
and tin and corrugated iron, with a few formal wooden 
cottages, painted red, white, and blue. They were very 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 73 

poor, these Kaukurans, from our point of view, earn- 
ing barely enough to sustain them in strength, and with 
few comforts in their huts, except the universal sewing- 
machine. Everywhere that was the first ambition of 
the uncivilized woman roused to modern vanities, as 
of the poor woman in all countries. 

Walking along the beach I narrowly escaped a more 
serious accident than the disaster of the reef, for only 
the warning of my companion stayed me from tread- 
ing upon a noJiu, the deadliest underfoot danger of the 
Paumotus. It was a fish peculiarly hateful to humans, 
yet gifted by nature with both defensive disguise and 
offensive weapons, a remnant of the fierce struggle for 
survival in which so many forms of life had disappeared 
or altered in changing environment. The nohu lay on 
the coral strand where the tide lapped it, looking the 
twin of a battered, mossy rock, so deceiving that one 
must have the sight of the aborigine to avoid stepping 
upon it, if in one's way. Put a foot on it, and before 
one could move, the nohu raised the bony spines of its 
dorsal fin and pierced one's flesh as would a row of hat- 
pins; not only pierced, but simultaneously injected 
through its spines a virulent poison that lay at the base 
of a malevolent gland. The nohu possessed a protec- 
tive coloring and shape more deluding than any other 
noxious creature I know, and kept its mouth shut ex- 
cept when it swallowed the prey for which it lay in 
wait. Its mouth is very large, and a brilliant lemon- 
color inside, so that if it parts its lips it betrays itself. 
Brother to the nohu in evil purpose is the tataraihau. 
But what a trickster is nature! The nohu is as ugly 



74 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

as a squid, and the tataraihau beautiful as a piece of the 
sunset, a brilliant red, with transverse bands of choco- 
late, bordered with ebony. 

"If you can spit on the nohu before he sticks his 
taetae into you, it will not poison you," sagely said 
my savior, as he stabbed the wretch with his knife. 

Pliny, as translated by Holland, said: 

All men carry about them that which is poyson to serpents : 
for if it be true that is reported, they will no better abide the 
touching with man's spittle than scalding water cast upon them : 
but if it happen to light within their chawes or mouth, especially 
if it comes from a man that is fasting, it is present death. 

Pliny in his day may have known of quick-witted 
people who, when assailed by a snake, had presence of 
mind to expectorate in his chawes, but the most hungry, 
salivary man could hardly avail himself of this prophy- 
lactic unless he recognized the nohu before treading 
upon him. The Paumotuans employ the mape, the 
native chestnut, the atae, ape, and rea moeruru. These 
are all "yarb" remedies, and the first, the juice of the 
chestnut, squeezed on the head and neck, they swear by. 
The French doctors advise morphine injection or laud- 
anum externally, or to suck the wound and cup it. Co- 
agulating the poison in situ by alcohol, acids, or caustic 
alkali, or the use of turpentine, is also recommended. 
If the venom is not speedily drawn out or nullified, the 
feet of the victim turn black and coma ensues. The 
French called the 7iohu, La Mort, The Death. 

My Paumotuan friend and Elder Kidd together gave 
me this information, and when we brought the nohu to 
the house in which he lived the clergyman said we would 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 75 

eat it. The native heated an old iron pipe and, after 
flaying the skin off the fish, boiled it. The flesh was 
remarkably sweet and tender. 

I lay on a mat, and, after the American had laved me 
with the liniment, the Paumotuan, a Konito elder, mas- 
saged me for an hour, during which grievous process I 
fell asleep, and woke after dark when the "reasonable 
service" was beginning. 

The people were ranged under the immense roof in 
orderly ranks, the Tahitians being in one knot. Both 
the American elders were upon a platform, sur- 
rounded by the native elders, who aided in the conduct 
of the program, which was in Paumotuan. The Pau- 
motuan language is a dialect closely allied to the Maori, 
which includes the Tahitian, Hawaiian, Marquesan, 
New Zealand, Samoan, and other island tongues. The 
Paumotuan was crossed with a strange tongue, the 
origin of which was not fixed, but which might be the 
remains of an Aino or negroid race found in the Pau- 
motus by the first Polynesian immigrants. Tahitians 
easily understood the Paumotuans, though many words 
were different, and there were many variations in pro- 
nunciation and usage. The Tahitians had been living 
closely with Europeans for a hundred years, and their 
language had become a mere shadow of its past form. 
The Paumotuan had remained more primitive, for the 
Paumotuan was a savage when the Tahitians were the 
most cultivated race of the South Seas; not with a 
culture of our kind, but yet with elaborated ceremoni- 
als, religious and civil, ranks of nobility, drama, ora- 
tory, and wit. 

It being the conclusion of the grand annual meeting 



76 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

of the Josephites, a summing up of the business condi- 
tion of the sect in these waters was the principal item. 
Elders Kidd and Imbel stressed dependence of the Al- 
mighty upon his apostles, prophets, evangelists, and 
pastors, and of these called-of-God men upon the francs 
collected at such gatherings as this. 

Both the divines spoke earnestly, and mentioned Je- 
hovah and Joseph Smith many times, with Aarona, 
Timoteo, Pauro, and other figures from the Scriptures. 
They struck the pulpit when they spoke of the Mormoni, 
and the faces of the congregation took on expressions 
of holy disdain. 

Somewhat like the modern preacher of the larger 
cities, the elders strove to entertain as well as instruct, 
edify, and command their flock. They proposed a 
charade or riddle, which they said was of very ancient 
origin, and perhaps had been told in the time of the 
Master's sojourn among men. They spoke it very 
slowly and carefully and repeated it several times, so 
that it was thoroughly understood by all: 

He walked on earth, 

He talked on earth, 

He reproved man for his sin; 

He is not in earth, 

He is not in heaven. 

Nor can he enter therein. 

This mysterious person was written about in the Bible, 
said Elder Kidd. 

Aue! That was a puzzler! Who could it be? 
Many scratched their heads. Others shook theirs de- 
spairingly. A few older men, of the diaconate, prob- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 77 

ably, smiled knowingly. Some began to eliminate 
likely biblical characters on their fingers. lesu-Kirito, 
Aberahama, loba, Petero, and so on through a list of 
the more prominent notables of Scripture. But after 
five minutes of guesses, which were pointed out by Mr. 
Kidd not to comply with the specifications of the 
charade, the answer was announced with impressive unc- 
tion: 

"Asini Balaama." 

Balaam's ass. Aue! Why, of course. I had 
named to myself every persona dramatis of the Book I 
could recall, but the talkative steed had escaped me. 
We all laughed. Most of the congregation had never 
seen an ass or even a horse, and the word itself was 
pulled into their language by the ears. But they could 
conjure up a life-hke picture of the scene from their 
pastor's description, and there were many interchanges 
between neighbors about the wisdom of the beast, and 
his kindness in saving Balaam from the angry angel 
who would have killed him. 

But in time the prose part of the service came to an 
end, and the singing began. I moved myself to the 
shadows outside the pale, and stretching at full length 
on a mat on the sand, gave myself to the rapture of 
their poetry, and the waking dreams it brought. 

Himene, all mass singing was called in these islands 
— the missionary hymn Polynesianized. They had 
only chants when the whites came; proud recitatives of 
valor in war, of the beginnings of creation, of the wan- 
derings of their heroes, challenges to the foe, and pray- 
ers to the mysterious gods and demons of their supernal 
regions. They learned awedly the hymns of Christian- 



78 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ity, and struggled decades with the airs. Confused 
with these were songs of the white sailors, the spirited 
bowline and windlass chanteys of the British and Ameri- 
can tars, the trivial or obscene lays of beach-combers 
and soldiers, and later the popular tunes of nations 
and governments. Out of all these the Polynesians 
had evolved their himenes, singing as different from 
any ever heard in Europe or America as the bagpipe 
from the violin, but never to be forgotten when once 
heard to advantage, for its barbaric call, its poignancy 
of utterance, and its marvelous harmony. 

In the great shed outside which I lay under the pur- 
ple sky, the men and women were divided, and the 
women led the himene. One began a wail, a 
high note, almost a shriek, like the keening of a 
wake, and carrying but a phrase. Others met her 
voice at an exact interval, and formed a chorus, 
into which men and women entered, apparently at 
will, but each with a perfect observance of time, so that 
the result was an overwhelming symphony of vocal 
sounds which had in them the power of a pipe-organ to 
evoke thought. I heard the cry of sea-birds, the crash 
of the waves on the reef, the thrashing of the giant 
fronds of the cocoa-palms, the groans of afflicted hu- 
mans, and the pseans of victory of embattled warriors. 
The effect was incredibly individual. Each white 
heard the himene differently, according to his own cos- 
mos. 

There under the stars on Kaukura, cast down and con- 
scious as I had been of my trivial hurts, and of a certain 
loneliness of situation, I forgot all in the thrill of emo- 
tion caused by the exquisite though unstudied art of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 79 

these simple Josephites, worshipers, whose voices 
pierced my heart with the sorrows and aspirations of an 
occult world. The Reverends Kidd and Imbel were 
forgotten, and all but the mysterious conflict of man 
with his soul. I fell asleep as the himene went on for 
hours, and was awakened by Kopcke, the trader, who 
said that the Marara was to sail at midnight, and that 
he had been asked to bring me aboard. 

Chocolat barked a welcome from the taffrail as we 
boarded the schooner, and with the offshore wind we wel- 
comed I could hear a faint human noise which I inter- 
preted as the benediction of the Reverend Johnny Kidd. 



CHAPTER V 

Captain Moet tells of Mapuhi, the great Paumotuan — Kopcke tells about 
women — Virginie's jealousy — Au aflfrighting waterspout — The wrecked 
ship — Landing at Takaroa. 



M 



AINTENANTr said Captain Moet, as he 
gave orders for the course, "we weel veesit ze 
king ov ze Paumotu. Monsieur O'Breeon, 'e 
got no nose, hot 'e ees magmfique. 'E hke out ov ze 
story-book. Ze bigges' tradaire, ze bes' divaire, ze hon 
pere ov ze Paumotu. An' 'e ees reech, eef 'e don' geeve 
'way ev'rysing. Nevaire 'ave I know one homhre like 
'eem!" 

"He 's lost his grip since he got old," McHenry inter- 
rupted, in his contrary way. "They say he 's got a mil- 
lion francs out in bad accounts to natives. He 's rotten 
easy, and spoils trade for a decent white man, by cripes!" 

"Norn d'une pipe!" cried the Marseillais. "Mac, 
you nevaire see anysing nice. 'E ees not easy ; 'e ees not 
rotten. 'E 'as got old, an' maintenant, 'e ees 'fraid 
ov ze devil, ze diablo malo. Mac, eef you waire so nice 
as Mapuhi, I geeve you wan hug an' kees. 'E ees 
'onnes', Mac, vous savez! Mapuhi say somesing, eet 
ees true. Zat bad for you, eh?" 

Mapuhi! In Tahiti, among the Paumotu traders at 
the Cercle Bougainville, his name was every-day men- 
tion. He was the outstanding figure of the Paumatuan 
race. Lying Bill had narrated a dozen stories about 

80 




m ' ■ 


o 


? 


iJO 


■ 


-S 








"3 


^ 


Q. 








^ 




w 




;-! 




<: 


* 


3 




-u 




O 




a 


( 


3 


, 


c3 


y 


PL, 




^ 




•M 




3 




J3 




4) 




> 








■M 


4 


e3 




a 




4> 




> 








'•3 








1 








*^ 


V > .- 


a 


1 ^ 


-o 


>!.. ' 


§ 


• *» • 




, 


"3 


' 


a 






i ' 


'S. 




>> 


1 
( 







^•" . 




^^ 


'V 




'#i!\ 


...J 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 81 

him over our glasses, and Goeltz, Hallman, all the 
skippers and supercargos, had spoken of him. 

"Mapuhi 's som'mat for looks without 'is nose," said 
Captain Pincher. "I 've known 'im thirty years, an' 
'e 's the biggest man in the group in all that time. 
'E 's got Mormonism stronger now, an' 'e 's bloody well 
afraid of 'ell, the 'ell those Mormon missionaries tell 
about; but 'e 's the best navigator in these waters." 

"He 's past eighty now, big-hearted but shrewd, 
and loving his own people," said Woronick, the Pari- 
sian, and cunningest of Tahiti pearl merchants, except 
Levy. "He 's gone on Mormonism, but he 's smart 
with all his religion. The trouble is he 's let charity 
run away with business principles, and divers and others 
get into him for hundreds of thousands of francs. I 'd 
take his word for anything, and you know me! They 
did n't keep me out of the United States because I 'm 
a dummy, hein?" 

"He 's a remarkable man, this Kanaka," joined in 
Winnie Brander, master of a sieve of a schooner, as he 
drank his Doctor Funk. "When he was a boy he was 
a savage. His father ate his enemies. For fifty years 
Mapuhi has been sailing schooners in the Paumotus. 
He 's the richest man there, and the best skipper in 
these waters that ever weathered the New Year gales. 
I 'm captain of a schooner and I have sailed the Group 
since a boy, but, matching my experience against his, — 
and I have n't had a tenth of his, — Mapuhi knows more 
by instinct of weather, of reefs, of passes, and of sea- 
manship than I have learned. He 's known from Samoa 
to Tahiti as a wizard for sailing. He knows every one 
of the eighty Paumotus by sight. Wake him up any- 



82 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

where in the Group in sight of land, and he '11 take a 
squint and tell where they are. God knows that 's 
the hardest bit of spying there is, because these atolls 
are mostly all alike at a distance — just a few specks 
of green, then a bunch of palms, and a line of coral. 
It 's something uncanny the way this fellow can locate 
himself. They say he can tell them at night by the 
smell." 

" 'E 's a bloody Rockefeller down 'ere," Lying Bill 
took up the story. " 'E 's combed this 'ere 'ole ocean. 
I remember when 'e lost the Tavaroa 'e 'ad built by 
Matthew Turner in California, and four other schoon- 
ers, in the cyclone of 1906. Many a boat 'e built 'im- 
self. 'E was the devil for women, with the pick of the 
group an' 'im owin' 'alf the families in debt. Then the 
Mormons got a 'olt of 'im, an' 'e began pray in' an' 
preachin', and stuck by 'is proper wife. You '11 see 
that big church, if you go to Takaroa, 'e built, an' where 
'is ol' woman is buried." 

Arid now I was bound for the atoll of this mighty 
chief of his tribe, and was to see him face to face. 
From Kaukura, the Marara raced and lagged by turn. 
The glass fell, and I spoke to McHenry about it, point- 
ing to the recording barometer. 

"There 's trouble comin'," he said, testily. "I know 
that. I don't need any barometer. We South Sea 
men have got enough mercury in us to tell the weather 
without any barometer." 

The rain fell at intervals, but not hard enough for 
a bath on deck, the prized weather incident of these 
parts. With no fresh water in Niau, Anaa, or Kau- 
kura, or not enough for bathing, and with only a dole 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 83 

on the Marara for hands and faces, I, with remem- 
brance of Rupert Brooke's complaint about the effect 
of sea-water on coral wounds, was about half-crazy 
for a torrential shower. But the rain passed, and the 
sunset soothed my sorrow. Never had I known such 
skies. In this heaven's prism were hues not before 
seen by me. INIanila, I had thought, was of all the 
world apart for the beauty and brilliancy of its sunsets. 
Such bepainted clouds as hung over the hill of Mari- 
veles when I rode down the Malecon in the days of the 
Empire! But Manila was here surpassed in startling 
shape and blazing color. 

A great bank of ocher held the western sky — a per- 
fect curtain for a stage upon which gods might enact 
the fall of the angels. It depended in folds and fringes 
over stripes of gold — a startling, magnificent design 
which appeared too regular in form and color to be acci- 
dent of clouds. One had to remember the bits of glass 
in the kaleidoscope. 

The gold grew red, the stripes became a sheet of 
scarlet, and that vermilion and maroon, swiftly chang- 
ing as deeper dipped the sun into the sea, until the en- 
tire sky was broken into mammoth fleecy white tiles, 
the tesselated ceiling of Olympus. The canopy grew 
gray, and night dropped abruptly. A wind came out 
of the darkness and caught the Marara under full can- 
vas. It drove her through the fast-building waves at 
eleven knots. The hull groaned in tune with the shriek- 
ing cordage. The timbers that were long from the 
forest, and had fought a thousand gales, lamented their 
age in moans and whines, in grindings and fierce blows. 
The white water piled over the bows, deluged the deck, 



84 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

and foamed on the barrier of the cabin rise. I stripped 
and went forward to meet it. I could have danced in 
it for joy. Oh! the joy of sail! Steam and motor 
made swift the path of the ship, but they had in them 
no consonance with nature. They were blind and deaf 
to the wind and wave, which were the very life of the 
schooner. They brought no sense of participation in 
speed as did the white wings of the Marara, nor of kin- 
ship with the main. They were alive, those swelling 
and careening sheets of canvas, that swung to and fro 
with the mind of the breeze, and cried and laughed in 
stress of labor. 

The rain blanketed the ocean, the vessel heeled over 
to starboard until her rail was salty, the jibs pleaded 
for relief, but man was implacable. For hours we held 
our course, driving fast in the obscure night toward the 
home of the wondrous diver, the man without a nose, 
Mapuhi, the uncrowned king of the Dangerous Isles. 

But when the moon lit the road to Takaroa, she 
lulled the wind. The eleven knots fell to seven, and to 
five, and at midnight we drifted in a zephyr. 

When I went below in a light squall, sure sign of 
near-by land, Kopcke, the handsome trader, and a na- 
tive girl were asleep on a mat in the passageway beside 
and partly under my bunk. I had to step over them. 
Her red tunic was drawn up over her limbs in her rest- 
less slumber, and a sheet covered closely her head. He 
lay on his back, his eyes facing the cabin lamp, his 
breathing that of a happy child after a day of hard 
play. As a matter of fact he had drunk a half dozen 
tots of rum since he had brought me aboard. 

Kopcke had failed at Kaukura, and like McHenry 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 85 

was bound for Takaroa, to set up a store for the div- 
ing season. He was a ne'er-do-well who existed with- 
out hard work merely because of familiarity with the 
people and languages of the islands. After a few 
glasses on board he had spilled his affairs to me, and 
especially his amorous adventures, in the boasting way 
of his kind. "Mary pity women!" A quarter-Tahi- 
tian, his father a European, and his mother French 
Tahitian, he was remarkably good-looking, in the style 
of a cinema idol. He had first married the half-caste 
daughter of Lying Bill, one of the many children of 
that Bedouin of the Pacific, who, in more than three 
decades of roaming the islands, had, according to his 
brag, scores of descendants. She had died, and Kopcke 
had left their child to charity, and taken up with an- 
other whom he had deserted after a year, leaving her 
their new-born infant. 

"She would not obey me," Kopcke explained to Vir- 
ginie and me. "I was good to her, but she was ob- 
stinate, and I had to send her to Takepoto. She had a 
good thing but could not appreciate me. I then took 
this girl here, whose father is an old diver in Takaroa, 
with a good deal of money. He once picked up a 
single pearl worth a big fortune. She is sixteen, and is 
easily managed. You 've got to get them young, mon 
ami, to learn your ways. That Takepoto girl feels 
sorry now. Women are queer, all of them, mon vieuw, 
n'est-ce pas?" 

Virginie was all Huguenot French blood though born 
in Tahiti, and Kopcke went against her puritan grain. 
She thought him a bad example for her Jean, who, 
though as devoted a husband as seaman, was danger- 



86 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ously attractive to the native girls. Moet could 
tutoyer them in their own tongue, with a roughish but 
alluring manner toward them that, though it crowded 
the trade-room of the Marara with customers for finery 
and cologne water, tortured Virginie. His endearing 
terms, his gentle slaps on their hips, and momentary 
arm about their waists, rended Virginie between jeal- 
ousy and profits. 

''Mais,'' Jean would exclaim, after an interchange of 
bitter words, in which cochon had been applied to him, 
"how zat femme zink I do bees'ness. Wiz kicks 'an 
go-to-'ells? She count ze money wiz plaisir, bot Jean 
Moet, 'er 'usbin', 'e mos' be like wan mutton. 'Sus 
Maria! I will make show 'oo ees boss!" 

Kopcke was rather more honest in his dealings with 
women than the white men. His quarter-native strain 
made him less ruthless, and more understanding of 
them. The ordinary European or American in the 
South Seas had not his own home's standards in 
such affairs. He released himself with a prideful 
assertiveness from such restraints, and went to an 
opposite ethic in his breaking of the chain. His 
usual attitude to women here was that of the average 
man toward domesticated animals — to pet and feed 
them, and to abuse them when disobedient or at whim. 

Of course, the white flotsam and jetsam of humanity 
in these islands, who in their own countries had prob- 
ably starved for caresses, and who may never have 
known women other than the frowzy boughten ones of 
the cabaret and brothel, were here giving back to the 
sex what it had bestowed on them in more formalized 
circles. The soft, loving women of Polynesia paid for 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 87 

the sex starvation enforced by economic conditions 
among the superior whites. A feast brought the in- 
gratitude of the beggar. 

All day, with half a gale, we sailed past atolls and 
bare reefs, groves of palms and rudest rocks, primal 
strata and beaches of softest and whitest sand. The 
schooner went close to these islands, so that it appeared 
I could throw my hat upon them; but distances here 
were deceptive, and I suppose we were never less than a 
thousand feet away. Yet we were near enough to hear 
the smash of the surf and to see the big fish leap in the 
lagoon, to drink the intoxicating draft of oneness with 
the lonely places, and to feel the secrets of their isola- 
tion. I was happy that before I died I had again seen 
the Thing I had worshipped since I began to read. 

I slipped off the coat of years and was a boy on a 
pirate schooner, my hand on Long Tom, the brass gun, 
ready to fire if the cannibals pushed nearer in their 
canoes. Again I had trained my hand and eye so that 
I brought down the wild pigeon with my sling, and I 
outran the furious turtle on the beach. I dived under 
the reef into the cave where the freebooters had stored 
their ill-gotten treasure, and reveled in the bags of 
pieces of eight, and the bars of virgin gold. I thought 
of Silver, and sang: 

"Fifteen men on the Dead Man's Chest — 
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum !" 

''Mais voiis etes gai" said Jean Moet. "Qu'est cela? 
You not drink wan bottle when I no look?" 

At three o'clock in the afternoon the gale had almost 
died away. The sun was struggling to break through 



88 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the lowering sky. McHenry and Kopeke were en- 
gaged in their usual bombast of personal achievement 
with women and drink, and I, to shut out their blague, 
was playing with Chocolat. Suddenly Kopeke broke off 
in a sentence and shouted to Moet, who was in the 
trade-room. 

"Capitaine! Capitcdnel" he called loudly through 
the window of the cabin. "There is a flood in air. 
Puahiohiof On deck! On deck!" 

His voice vibrated with alarm, and Moet made three 
jumps and was at the wheel. He looked ahead, and 
I, too, saw, directly on the course we were steering, a 
convolute stem of water stretching from the sea to the 
sky. Well I knew what it was. I whirled McHenry 
around. 

"Look!" I said, and pointed to the oncoming spec- 
tacle. 

"A bloody waterspout!" yelled McHenry. "By 
cripes — here 's where we pay up!" 

I heard the native passengers and the sailors for- 
ward shouting confusedly, and saw them throwing 
themselves flat on deck, where they held on to the 
hatch lashings and other stable objects. Moet, with a 
fierce oath, ordered the sailors to the halyards. 

"Off with every stitch!" he commanded, as he threw 
the wheel hard over. "Vave! Vavel'f 

^'TromheT he warned his wife, who was in the cabin 
with Kopcke's girl. "Hold on, Virginie, hold on! 
Pray, and be quick about it!" 

McHenry, Kopeke, and I sprang to the main boom, 
and helped to take down the canvas and make it fast. 
The jibs were still standing, when the Marara turned 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 89 

on her heel hke a hare pursued by a hound. The water- 
spout was yet miles distant, but rushing toward us, as 
we made slow starboard progress from our previous 
wake. The daylight faded; the air seemed full of wa- 
ter. The sailors were again prone, and we, at the calm 
though sharp word of Moet, pulled over the companion 
cover. I shrank behind the house, and McHenry 
tucked his head into the bend of my body, while Kop- 
cke, on his knees, held on to the traveler. 

''Sacramentor said Moet, as if to himself. "Maybe 
she no can meet zat!" 

With pounding heart, but every sense alert, I 
watched the mad drive of the sable column. The Ma- 
rara was now in smooth water, — the glassy circle of the 
Puahiohio, — and so near was the terrifying, twisting 
mass of dark foam and spindrift that it seemed impos- 
sible we could avoid it. Every inch the master, Moet 
alone stood up. Chocolat was huddled whimpering be- 
tween his feet. I saw the captain pull up the straps 
that held the wheel when in light airs we drifted peace- 
fully, and attach them so that the helm was fixed. 
There was a dreadful roaring a short way off and near- 
ing every second. The spout was bigger than any of 
the great trees I had seen in the California forests, and 
from its base a leaden tower of hurrying water seemed 
to wind in a spiral stream to the clouds. 

"She 's going to drop," said McHenry in my ear. 
"Now hold on, and we '11 see who comes out of the 
bloody wash!" 

The roar was that of a blast-furnace, and so close, so 
fearful, I ceased to breathe. Captain Moet crouched 
by the steadfast wheel, his hand on the spokes. For- 



90 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ward, I saw two Tahitians with their palms upon their 
ears. 

Suddenly the Marara heeled over. The starboard 
rail was in the water, and Kopcke, McHenry, and I, a 
tangled heap against the rail, as we struggled to keep 
our heads above the foam. Farther and farther the 
schooner listed. It was certain to me that we must meet 
death under it in another instant. Moet's feet were 
deep in the water, and now the wheel held him up. We 
clutched madly at the stanchions of the rail, as we 
choked with the salt flood. 

Came the supreme moment. The waterspout rose 
above us on the port bow like a cliff, solid as stone. A 
million trumpets blew to me the call of Judgment Day. 
Then the wall of water passed by a hundred feet to 
port. In another breath the Marara regained her poise 
and was on an even keel. The peril was over. 

"Mais, tonnere de DieuT cried Moet, excitedly, "zat 
was a cochon ov a watairespouse ! Zere air many in 
zese latitude. Some time I see seex, seven, playin' 
'round at wan time. I sink we make ze sail, and take 
wan drink queeck. Eh, Virginie, ici/ Donne-moi un 
haiser, httle cabbage! Deed you pray 'ard?" 

Over his petit verre, the captain said to me, confiden- 
tially, "Moi, I was almos' become a hon catholique 
again." 

Chocolat, who must have thought he had borne his 
part bravely in the crisis, frisked wildly about the wheel, 
risking his own brown hide at every leap, to testify his 
joy at his safety. 

McHenry and Kopcke, with the heartening rum in 
their stomachs, resumed their palaver. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 91 

"That spout did n't come within fifty feet of us," said 
McHenry. "I 've seen one in which a bird was bein' 
carried up, whirhn' round and round, and not able to 
fly away. It was comin' toward us hke lightnin' when 
I jumped into the shrouds with a 'big tin tub, an' 'banged 
it like bloody hell. It scared the spout away, an' it 
busted far enough from us not to hurt us. Bill an' 
Tommy Eustace can swear to that." 

"DiahleT Kopcke broke in. "Mapuhi and his daugh- 
ter were in a cutter coming from Takepoto when they 
were attacked by a tromhe. It did not strike them but 
the force of it overturned their cutter, four miles from 
shore, and knocked the girl insensible, so that Mapuhi 
had to swim to shore with her." 

They are fearsome spectacles at their best, these phe- 
nomena of the sea, comparable only in awe-inspiring 
qualities to the dread composants of St. Elmo's Fire, 
those apparitions of flame which appear on mastheads 
and booms on tempestuous nights, as if the spirits of 
hell had come to welcome the sailor to Davy Jones's 
locker. Waterspouts I had seen many times. They 
were common in these waters, — more frequent, perhaps, 
than anyM'here else, — and to the native they were the 
most alarming manifestation of nature. Many a canoe 
had been sunk by them. There were legends of de- 
struction by them, and of how the gods and devils used 
them as weapons to destroy the war fleets of the ene- 
mies of the legend-telling tribes. 

When I went to sleep at ten o 'clock that night, we 
were ranging up and down between Takepoto and Tak- 
aroa, steering no course but that of prudence, and wait- 
ing for the dawn. 



92 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

I came on deck again at four. The moon was two 
thirds down the steep slope of the west, a golden sphere 
vaster than ever jbefore. The sea was bright and quak- 
ing, and shoals of fish were waking and parting the 
shining surface of the water. 

Suddenly from out of the gloom of the distance there 
loomed as strange a vision as ever startled a wayfarer. 

A huge ship, under bare poles, solemn and lonely 
of aspect and almost out of the water, lifted a black 
bulk as if bearing down upon us. Somber and omi- 
nous, void of light or life, fancy peopled it with a ghostly 
crew. I almost expected to read upon its quarter the 
name of Vanderdecken's specter-ship, and to hear the 
mournful voice of the Flying Dutchman's skipper re- 
port that he had at last reached a haven. 

The weirdness of this unexpected sight was incred- 
ibly surprising. It electrified me, dismayed me, as 
few phenomena have. 

Piri a Tuahine, at the wheel, called down to the cap- 
tain. 

''Paparai te pahi matai!" he announced in the even 
tone of the Maori sailor. "The ship wrecked in the 
cyclone!" 

Moet came on deck in pajamas, surveyed the spec- 
tacle of desolation, said "Bon jourT to me, gave an 
order to the sailor to "Keep her off," and returned to 
snatch another nap. I saw through the stripped masts 
of the wrecked ship the fires of the bakers who mix their 
flour with cocoanut-milk, and wrap their loaves in co- 
coanut-leaves to bake. They were comforting as tokens 
of the living, contrasted with the sorrowful skeleton 
of one-time glory in that isolated cradle of rocks. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 93 

Kopcke stuck his head through the companionway to 
observe our bearings, squinted at the somber wraith 
through his heavy eyes, — he and McHenry had played 
ecarte most of the night, — and rephed to my query: 

"As you say, mon gargon, it is the County of Rox- 
burgh, that Enghsh ship. She lost her reckoning, and 
in a big hurricane crashed upon the reef. Her crew 
put over a boat but it was smashed at once, and those 
who reached the shore were badly bruised and broken 
by the coral. When the people of Takaroa — my girl's 
father was one of them — rushed to succor them, they 
fought them off, because their books said the Paumo- 
tuans were savages and cannibals. It was n't till they 
saw Takauha, the gendarme, and he showed them his 
red stripe on the sleeve of his jacket, that they real- 
ized they were not on a cannibal isle. Takauha 
brought Monsieur George Fordham, an Englishman, 
to interpret for them, and they were taken care of. 
They had broken arms and legs, and heads, too. Ma- 
puhi bought the ship from Lloyd's for fifteen hundred 
francs. Think of that! He took everything off he 
could, but the hull, masts, and yards stayed on. He 
made thousands of dollars out of the ship, and in his 
store you will find the doors and chests and the glass. 
She was built in Scotland." 

Her hull and decks of heavy metal, and her masts 
and yards, great iron tubes, she had defied even that 
master wrecker, Mapuhi, to disrobe her of more than 
her ornaments. Carried over the reef upon a gigantic 
wave, and perched upon a bed of coral in which she now 
fitted as snugly as in a dry-dock, she had withstood the 
storms and tides of years, and doubtless must stay in 



94 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

that solitary spot until time should disintegrate her 
metal and dissolve its atoms in the eternal sea. 

The palms on the atoll paraded in battalions, waving 
their dark heads like shakos, and the surf shone in silver 
splashes, as I sat on the cabin house and watched the 
dawn unfold. Slowly the moon withdrew. At half- 
past five o'clock, the mother of life and her coldly 
brilliant satellite were in concert, and the ocean was 
exquisitely divided by sunbeams and moonbeams match- 
ing for favor in my admiring eyes. 

Kopcke reappeared with a cigarette. He had an 
unusual chance to find me alone, and was hungry for in- 
formation. 

"There is a passage in the reef at Takaroa," he said, 
"but you can bet the Marara won't go through it. It is 
plenty big enough to let her in, but that takes seaman- 
ship. Now, I have seen Mapuhi sail his schooner 
through this passage in half a gale of wind, and swing 
her about inside in the space most chauffeurs in Tahiti 
need to turn their automobiles. No one else would try 
it. He won't go in; but Mapuhi would have his crew 
stand by, and, with the wheel in his own hands, would 
tear through the opening as if he had all the seven seas 
about him." 

I was below washing my hands, when the roar of 
the breakers came to my ears with the call of Moet 
that a boat was leaving. I rushed to the waist of the 
schooner and, catching hold of a belayed rope's end, 
dropped on the dancing thwart. Chocolat made a 
bound and landed on his master's lap. Moet swore, 
but we were away. 

There was a high sea, and for a few seconds it was 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 95 

pitch and toss whether we could keep right side up. 
However, we struck the gait of the rollers, and, with 
Piri a Tuahine at the long steering-oar, moved toward 
the beach, urged on by rowers and breakers, but op- 
posed by a strong outsetting current. 

The dexterity of the steersman saved us a dozen 
times from capsizing. Often we climbed waves that, 
but for an expert guidance, would have crashed over 
us. Many and many a boat turns over in these 
"landings" and spills its life freight to death or hurt. 
Nearing the passage, a white and brawling two hundred 
feet between murderous rocks, the boat had to be 
swung obliquely to <nter, and we hung upon a comber's 
peak for a seeming age, the rowers sweating furiously at 
the oars, until Piri a Tuahine gave a staccato signal. 
Oars inboard, we rushed down the shore side of the 
breaker, and were at peace in a lovely lagoon. 

Of the many miles of circumference of Takaroa, a 
tiny motu was inhabited by the hundred and fifty 
people, and on it they had built a stone quay for small 
boats. We made fast to it and sprang ashore. 



CHAPTER VI 

Diffidence of Takaroans — Hiram Mervin's description of the cyclone — 
Teamo's wonderful swim — Mormon missionaries from America — I 
take a bath. 

THERE was no stir on the quay of Takaroa. In 
these latitudes the civihzed stranger is shocked 
by the indifference to his arrival of the half- 
naked native. It enrages a prideful white. He per- 
haps remembers the pages of Cook and the other dis- 
coverers, who wrote of the overflowing enthusiasm of 
the new-found aborigines for them; but he forgets the 
pages of history since national, religious, and business 
rivalries invaded the South Seas. These Paumotuans, 
and, indeed, most Polynesian peoples, are kin to pet 
cats who madden mistresses by pretending not to hear 
'Calls, and by finding views from windows interesting 
when asked to show their accomplishments or fine coats. 
Though they may have seen no outsider for months, 
these Paumotuans will appear as unconcerned at a white 
visitor's coming as if circuses dropped in their midst 
daily. Yet every movement, every word of a new- 
comer is as alluring to their imaginations, bored by the 
sameness of their days, as a clown's antics to a child. 

"It is a politeness and pride, not indifference," had 
explained my friend, that first gentleman of Tahiti, 
the Chevalier Tetuanui, of Mataiea. "We simple is- 
landers have been so often rebuffed bj^ uncultivated 
whites that we wait for advances. It is our etiquette." 

96 




0) 

d 



3 



O 

<11 




s 



s 

o 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 97 

The main thoroughfare of the village stretched up 
from the quay half a mile, with one or two ramifying 
byways, along which straggled the humble homes of the 
Takaroans. There were not the usual breakfast fires 
before them, as in Tahiti, where breadfruit and feis are 
to be cooked, nor did the appetizing odor of coffee rise, 
as in Tahiti, for Mormonism forbade coffee to its adher- 
ents as it did alcohol and tobacco. Beside the quay 
were dozens of cutters, and a small launch. Canoes were 
being relegated to lesser civilizations by the fast sail- 
ing cutters. Motor power was new here ; almost new in 
Tahiti. But a few years and it would be common, for 
while the islander cared nothing for time, he was at- 
tracted to labor-saving machines. 

Captain Moet set the sailors to unload the Mararas 
boat, and the chief of Takaroa appeared. The French, 
whose island possessions in P.olynesia occupy sea room 
in spots from eight to twenty-seven degrees below the 
equator, and from 136 to 155 west of Greenwich, have 
left survive, in title at least, the chieftaincies, the form 
of government they found upon seizure. ''Monsieur 
le Chef" they said of the native officials here, as they 
did of a head cook in a restaurant. These chiefs, 
though nominally the representatives of French sover- 
eignty, were, in pitiable reality, wretchedly-paid tax 
collectors, policemen, and bailiffs. But they often were 
gentlemen — gentlemen of rich col'or. The strapping fel- 
low who had vised the documents of the Marara, though 
wearing only denim overalls, lacked nothing in cour- 
tesy. A rent disclosed that the "alls" were over his 
birth-suit. 

I was not arrayed very smartly, having left collar, 



98 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

cravat, and socks, as well as shirt and undershirt, aboard. 
Pongee coat and trousers, with flexible shoes, were in 
this tropic an ideal compromise with culture. Open the 
coat, and the breeze had access to one's puris natural- 
ibus, and, if one had to swim or wade, little clothing 
was wetted. The chief surveyed me, saw that I took no 
interest in the cargo, and drew his own conclusion. 

''la ora na!" he said gently, and led me toward the 
village. 

It was seven years earlier that the last great cyclone 
had devastated these islands. Takaroa was mute wit- 
ness of its ruin. The houses were almost all mere shacks 
of corrugated iron — walls and roofs of hideous gray 
metal. A few wooden buildings, including two stores, 
were the exceptions. The people had neither courage 
nor money to rebuild comfortable abodes. Lumber 
must be brought from Tahiti and carpenters employed. 
No more unsuitable material than iron for a house in 
this climate could be chosen, except glass, but it was 
comparatively cheap, easily put together, and a 
novelty. It was as unharmonious a note among the 
palms as rag-time music in a Greek theater, and in 
the next cyclone each separate sheet would be a guillo- 
tine. Nothing more than a few feet above the ground 
withstands these hurricanes, which fell cocoanuts- as 
fire eats prairie-grass. 

We had not walked a hundred yards before a power- 
ful half-caste stopped me with a soft "Bon jour!'* A 
good-looking, clean-cut man of thirty years, the white 
blood in him showed most in his efficient manner and 
his excellent French. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 99 

"You are American," he said in that tongue in the 
mildest voice. 

"Mais oui." I replied. 

"I am Hiram Mervin, son of Captain Mervin, owner 
of the schooner France- Austral. My father is Ameri- 
can, and I am half American, though I speak no Eng- 
lish. You may have read of me. I repaired his boat, 
the Shark, for that American author. Jack. His 
engine was broken down. He wanted me to go to 
Australia as his mechanician, but my father said no, 
and when an American says no, 4ie means that, nest-ce 
pas. Monsieur?" 

"Where were you," I inquired, "when the last cy- 
clone blew?" 

His fine brown face wrinkled. Hiram had a firm 
chin, a handsome black mustache, and teeth as hard and 
white as the keys of a new piano. 

"Ah, you have heard of how we escaped? Non? 
Alors, Monsieur, I will tell you. I am a diver, and 
here I keep a store. We were at Hikueru, my father 
and I, when it began to storm. Father watched the 
barometer, and the sea. The mercury lowered fast, 
and the waves rolled bigger every hour. 

" 'The barometer is sinking fast. The ocean will 
drown the island,' said mv father. 'Noah built an ark, 
but we cannot floaton one ; we must get above the water.' 

"There were four cocoanut-trees, solid and thick- 
trunked, that grew a few feet from one another. Bad 
planting, oui, but -most useful. He set me and some 
others, his close friends, to climbing these trees and cut- 
ting off their heads, so that they stood like pillars of 



100 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the temple. It was a pity, I thought, for we ruined 
them. Then we took heavy planks and lifted them to 
the tops of these trees and spiked and roped them in a 
platform. 

"Attendez, Monsieur! All this time the cyclone in- 
creased. My father was not with us. It was the div- 
ing season on Hikueru, and people were gathered from 
all over the atolls, and from Tahiti, hundreds of Maoris, 
and many whites. My father was directing the efforts 
of the people to save their property. We had not yet 
thought of our lives being in great danger. We island- 
ers could not live if we expected the worst. 

"A gale from the east, strong but not dangerous, had 
lashed the water of the lagoon and made it like the 
ocean, and then, turning to the west, had driven the 
ocean mad. Now the ocean was coming over the reef, 
the waves very high and threatening. We knew that 
if ever the sea and the lagoon met to fight, we would be 
the victims. Thus, Monsieur, the lagoon surrounded 
by the island, and the usually calm waters inside the 
outer reef, were .both in a frightful state, and we began 
to fear what had been in other atolls. My father was 
wise, but, being a Mormon and also an American, he 
must not think of himself first. My father came to us 
and tested the platform, and showed us where to 
strengthen it. 

" 'The island will be covered by the sea and the la- 
goon,' he said. 'Make haste, in the name of God!' 

"Some one, a woman, called to him for help, and he 
ran to her. A sheet of iron from a roof came through 
the air, and wounded him. I thought his head was al- 
most cut off, from the quantity of blood. Mais, Mon- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN lOl 

sieur, c'etait terrible/ We caught hold of my father, 
and made a sling with our ropes, and lifted him, un- 
conscious, to the platform at the top of the trees. He 
raised his head and looked around. 

" 'Go down again I' he commanded. 'Cut down those 
three trees. If they fall they will strike us.' 

"Monsieur, that was my father, the American, who 
spoke, though nearly dead. He was wise. We did as 
he said, as quickly as we could, and climbed back to 
the platform. The great breakers of the ocean were 
now far up on our beach at each end of the tide. The 
whole width of the land from the edge of the beach to 
the lagoon is but the length of four or five cocoanut- 
trees. The water below the atoll was forced up through 
the coral sand, Monsieur, until it was like the dough 
of the baker when he first pours in the cocoanut juice. 
People still on the ground went up to their arms in it. 
We feared the atoll would be taken back to the depths. 
Our platform was nearer the lagoon than the moat — 
to be exact, two hundred feet from the moat, and a hun- 
dred from the lagoon. ^ly father had us tie him to the 
platform and to the trees. We had brought plenty of 
ropes for that. 

''Mon Dieu! Below the poor people were tying them- 
selves to the trunks of the cocoanut-trees, and climbing 
them, if they could, and roosting in the branches like 
the wild birds of the air. They were shrieking and 
praying. There were many whites, too, because all the 
pearl-shell and pearl buyers, and the keepers of stores 
like us, were there from Papeete. The little children 
who could not climb were crying, and many parents 
stayed with them to die. The sea was now like the reef, 



102 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

white as the noon clouds with foam. We had bound 
my father's wounds with my shirt, but the blood dripped 
on the boards where he lay with his eyes open and watch- 
ing the cyclone." 

The chief, who had accompanied me, became restless. 
He understood no French. 

"Monsieur V Ainericain, do I detain you?" Hiram 
Mervin asked me. 

I signed for him to continue. 

"Then came the darkness. There were only the 
sounds of the wind and water, the crash of the cocoanut- 
trees as they fell with their human fruit. We heard the 
houses being swept away; we thought we caught 
glimpses of vessels riding on the breakers, and we im- 
agined we caught the shrieks of those being destroyed. 
But the wind itself sounded like the voices of people. 
I heard many calling my name. 

" 'Hiram Mervin, pray for us! Save us!' said the 
cyclone. 

"Ah, I cannot tell it! It was too dreadful. It was 
hours after darkness that the sea reached its height. 
Those below were torn from hummocks of coral, from 
the roofs of houses, and from trees. We knew that the 
sharks and other devils of the sea were seizing them. 
The sea rushed over the land into the lagoon and the 
lagoon returned to the sea. When they met under us, 
they fought like the bulls of Bashan. Hikueru was 
being swallowed as the whale swallowed Io7ia, the pero- 
feta. We held on though our trees bent like the mast 
of a schooner in a typhoon. We called often to one 
another to be sure none was lost. When morning 
came, after night on night of darkness, the waters re- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 103 

ceded, and we saw the work of the demon. Almost 
every house had been cut down, and most of the trees. 
The cemeteries were washed up, and the bodies, bones, 
and skulls of our dead for decades were strewn about or 
in the ocean. The lagoon was so full of corpses old and 
new that our people would not fish nor dive for shells 
there for a long time. The spirits are still seen as they 
fly through the air when there is a gale. But, Mon- 
sieur, our four cocoanut -trees had stood as the pillars 
of the temple of Birigi'ama lunga. Not for nothing 
was my father born in America. Mais, Monsieur, the 
chief is waiting. The mitinare will be glad to see you. 
Au revoir/' 

Hiram took a step to return to the quay when he 
called back to me. "Ah, there is Teamo, who is the 
Living Ghost," and he pointed to a Paumotuan woman 
who was coming up from the quay towards where we 
three stood. Teamo had the balanced gait of one who 
sits or stands much in canoes, and she strode like a man, 
her powerful figure showing under her red Mother-Hub- 
bard which clung close to her stoutish form. Short, she 
was like most of the Paumotuans, of middle height, but 
with her head set upon a pillar of a neck, and her bare 
chocolate arms, rounded, but hinting of the powerful 
muscles beneath the skin. Her hair was piled high on 
her head like a crown, and upon it was a basket in which 
were two chickens. A live pig was under her arm. 
She was carrying this stock from our boat. 

"There," said Hiram, "there is Teamo, who is the 
greatest swimmer of all these seas, and who went 
through the great cyclone as does a fish. Haere viair 
he called, "This monsieur, who is an American, like my 



104 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

father, wants to hear about your swimming of the seas 
in the matai rorofai." 

Teamo put down her pig and the chickens from her 
head, sat upon her haunches, and drawing a diagram in 
the coral sand, she told her strange tale in her own 
language. 

"The water is coming over the atoll, and the lagoon 
and the sea are one," said Teamo, "when my brother 
and sisters and I climbed the great cocoanut-tree by our 
house, because it is death below. You know the cocoa- 
nut-trees. You see they have no limbs. You know 
that it is hard to hold on because the great trees shake in 
the wind, and there is no place ta sit. Only we could 
put our arms around the leaves and hold as best we 
might. When it comes on dark we feel the wind roaring 
louder about us, and we hear the cries of those who are 
in other trees. Then far out on the reef we hear the 
pounding of the sea and the waves begin more and 
more to come over the atoll until* they cover it deeper 
and deeper, and each succeeding wave climbs higher and 
higher toward where we cling. We know that soon 
there will come a wave whose teeth will tear us from 
the tree. 

"That wave came all of a sudden. It was like a 
cloud in the sky. It lifted me out of the cocoanut- 
leaves as the diver tears the shell from the bank at 
the bottom of the lagoon. It lifted me and took me 
over the lagoon, over the tops of all trees, and when 
it went back to the ocean, it carried me miles with it. 
I was on the top of its back, almost in the sky, and 
it was as black as the spittle of the devil-fish." 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 105 

The chief was hstening attentively, for she spoke in 
Paumotuan. Hiram Mervin interposed: 

"Teamo went away from Hikueru on that wave and 
stayed three days," said he. "She was numbered with 
the dead when the count of the living was made by my 
father." 

Teamo squatted on the sand of the road. I was 
afraid she would weary in her relation, as do her race. 
"Parau vinivinir I said, and smoothed her shoulders. 

"I kept upon its back," she resumed. "All through 
that night I swam or floated, fighting the waves, and 
fearing the sharks. I called on Birigi'ama lunga and 
on letu Kirito, and on God. Hours and hours I kept 
up until the dawn. Then I saw a coral-reef, and swam 
for it. I was nearly crushed time and time on the 
rocks, but at last I crawled up on the sand above the 
water, and fell asleep. 

"When I awoke I was all naked. The waves had 
torn my dress from me, and the sun was burning my 
body. I was bruised and wounded, but I prayed my 
thanks to the God of the Mormons. I stood upon my 
feet, and I saw all about me the poke roa, the black- 
ening and broken bodies of people of Hikueru. They, 
too, had floated on the same wave, but they had per- 
ished. They were all about me. I searched for cocoa- 
nuts, for I was drying up with thirst and shaking with 
hunger. At last I found one under the body of my 
cousin, and, breaking it with a rock, I drank the water 
in it, and again fell asleep. 

"Now when I awoke I was stronger, and a distance 
away in the water I saw a box floating. I broke it 



106 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

open, and found it had in it tins of salmon. They 
were from some store in Hikueru, for I soon knew 
there was no living human on that atoll but me. I 
could not open the tins of salmon but pierced holes 
in them with a piece of coral and sucked out the fish. 
God was even better to me, for I found a camphor- 
wood chest with a shirt and pareu in it, and I put them 
on. I then found a canoe thrown up on the beach, 
and it was half full of rain-water. I made up my 
mind to'return to my home in the canoe. It was broken 
and there was no paddle. I patched it, I found the 
outrigger, and tied it on with cocoanut fiber which I 
plaited. I made a paddle from the top of the salmon 
case, and lashed it to the handle of a bpooni I found. 
I kept enough fresh water in the canoe, and a,fter two 
days of eating and resting I pushed out in the canoe, 
with the remainder of the salmon. I could not see any 
other atoll, but I trusted to God and prayed as I pad- 
dled. I pushed over the reef at daybreak of the third 
day, and paddled until the next morning, when I saw 
Hikueru, and reached the remnants of my village." 

Teamo gathered up her burdens and, with a reminis- 
cent smile, walked on. 

''Monsieur VAmericain," said Hiram, "you may be 
sure that when she returned to Hikueru from Tekokota 
— that atoll was fifteen miles away — they were afraid 
of her, as the friends of Lataro when letu Kirito raised 
him from the dead." 

The chief's restlessness increased, as if he must de- 
liver me somewhere quickly; but I thought of the man 
they called the king of the Paumotus. 

"The house of Mapuhi, is it — " 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 107 

"The chief is taking you there now," said Hiram. 
"The elders are there. My father was long-time the 
partner of Mapuhi. They sailed their schooners to- 
gether and had their divers." 

"You and your father are Mormons?" 

''Nous sommes hons Mormons," replied the half-caste, 
seriously. "Am I not named for the king who built 
the temple of Solomon. It is a shame, Monsieur, that 
those Konito are permitted in these islands. They 
corrupt the true religion." 

The chief touched my arm, and we proceeded, after 
an exchange of bows with the son of the American. 
We walked to the very end of the small motu or 
islet. The motus are often long but always very 
narrow, between three hundred and fifteen hundred 
feet. 

The people of Takaroa had chosen to pitch their huts 
on this spot of the whole atoll because of the pass into 
the lagoon being there. That was the determining 
factor just as the banks of rivers and bays were 
selected by American pioneers. Where the salt water 
was on three sides — the moat, the lagoon, and the chan- 
nel between the next motu — was the residence of our 
seeking. 

It was a neat domicile of dressed lumber, raised ten 
feet from the ground on stilts. It was fenced about, and 
here and there a banana-plant or fig-tree grew in a 
hole dug in the coral, surrounded by a little wall of coral 
and with rotting tin cans heaped about. Driven in the 
trunks were nails. I asked the chief the reason, and 
he replied vaguely that the trees needed the iron of the 
cans and the nails. 



108 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

We were entering the grounds now, and I guessed it 
was Mapuhi's house. 

"Mapuhi is here?" I inquired. 

^'^''E, he is at prayer, maybe." 

The chief shrank back, as we were on the porch. 

"Faaea oe; tehaeri net au. You stay ; I go," he said. 

On the side veranda, a girl of seventeen or so, in a 
black gown, lay on a mattress and yawned as she 
scratched her knee with her toes — not of the same leg. 
She was almost naked, slender and very brown. These 
Paumotuans are darkened by the sun, their hair is not 
long and beautiful like the Tahitians'. Beauty is a 
matter of food and fresh water. She lay on this bare 
mattress, without sheets or pillows, evidently just 
awakening for the day. She made quite a picture 
when she smiled. The daughter of the king, doubt- 
less. 

There was a noise in response to my knock, and the 
door opened. A tousled pompadour of yellowish-red 
hair above hazel eyes peeped out, the eyes snapped in 
amazement, and their owner, a strapping chap of 
twenty-five, put out his hand. 

"Hello! Where are you from?" he said. 

"Off the Marara just now, and from the United 
States not long ago." 

"Well, gee cricketty, I 'm glad to see you! My 
name 's Overton, T. E. Overton of Logan, Utah. 
Come here, Martin! He's Martin De Kalb of Koo- 
sharem, Utah. We 're Mormon elders. Say, it 's good 
to talk United States!" 

A body leaped out of bed in an inner room, and a pair 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 109 

of blue eyes under brown hair, an earnest face, sup- 
ported by an athletic figure in pajamas, rushed out. 
The owner seized my hand. 

"I '11 be doggoned! I did n't know anything was in 
sight. The Marara! Any mail for me? Come in, and 
we '11 dress." 

The king's daughter had fled when the missionaries 
appeared. I entered the living-room and found a chair, 
while the elders flooded me with questions from their 
sleeping quarters, as they put on their clothes. While 
I answered, I looked at the home of this foremost of the 
Paumotuans, whose father and mother had eaten their 
kind. 

A dining-room table and half a dozen cheap chairs 
were all the furniture. South Sea Islanders found sit- 
ting in chairs uncomfortable, and these were plainly 
guest seats, for governors and pearl-buyers and mis- 
sionaries. 

The walls held prints curiously antagonistic. Brig- 
ham Young, founder of the Utah Mormon colony, with 
a curly white beard, smooth upper lip, and glorified 
countenance, sat in an arm-chair, holding a walking- 
stick of size, with a gilded head. A splendiferous col- 
ored lithograph of the temple at Salt Lake flanked the 
portrait. 

On the other wall was a double pink page from a New 
York gazette, usually found in barber-shops and on 
boot-black stands, with pictures of two prize-fighters, 
Jeffries and Johnson, one white and the other black, 
glaring viciously at each other, and with threatening 
gloved fists. Beneath this picture was in handwriting: 



110 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Teferite e Tihonitone 

na 

Taata Moto 

Emerging from their bedroom, the elders caught my 
eyes fastened on the pink page, and they looked grieved, 
as housewives whose kitchen is found in disorder. 

"They 're crazy about boxing," said Overton. 
"That's young Mapuhi who put that up and wrote that. 
We reprove them for such ungodly interests, but they 
are good Mormons, anyhow." 

I led the conversation to their own work in this group. 
They became enthusiastic. Sincere faces they had, 
simple and strong, of the pioneer type. They were 
sons of healthy peasantry, and products of plain living 
in the open. De Kalb had left a wife and child in Koo- 
sharem, and Overton a sweetheart in Logan, to take 
their part in spreading their gospel among these natives. 
They were voluntary missionaries, paying their own ex- 
penses for the two or three years they were to give to 
proselytizing, according to the rule of their church, they 
said. They were eager to return to their women and 
their farms, and their service was soon to be at an end. 
Each had spent a year or so in Papeete in the Mormon 
Mission 'House, learning the Paumotuan language and 
the routine of their duties, and now for a year and more 
they had journeyed from atoll to atoll where they had 
churches, preaching and making converts, they said. 
They talked with fervor of their success. 

"The Lord has been mighty good to us," said De 
Kalb, who was in his twenties. "We 've got this island 
hog-tied. If it were n't for the Josephites and some of 
those Catholic priests, we 'd have every last one. Those 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 111 

Josephites are sorest, because they are deserters from 
Mormonism. Why are they? Why, their so-called 
prophet was Joseph. I forget his other name. Oh, 
no, he was not our martyr, Joseph Smith. They split 
off from the real church. They don't amount to a hill 
of beans, but when the Mormons left these islands, be- 
cause the French were hostyle, these Josephites sneaked 
in and got quite a hold by lying about us, before we got 
on to their game and came back here. They 're out 
for the stuff. The real name of our church here is, 
Te Etaretia a Jesu Metia e te feia mo'a i te Mau Ma- 
kana Hopea Net" 

"Gosh, I 'd like to get my hair cut and roached," said 
Elder Overton. "It was fine, when I left Papeete. I 
just have to let it go," and he stirred his golden shock 
with the air of a man who has abandoned comfort for an 
ideal. 

"Do the Paumotuans cling to their heathen customs?" 
I asked. 

Overton looked at the floor, but De Kalb, the older, 
spoke up. 

"They will circumcise," he said hesitatingly. "We 
try to stop it, but they say it is right; that it makes 
them a separate people. They often wait until thirteen 
years of age before prompted to perform the rite. The 
kids don't appreciate it." 

"And tithes?" Your church members give a tenth of 
their incomes?" 

Again De Kalb replied : 

"They should," he said. "These Takaroans are just 
beginning to see the beauty of that divine law. It is 
hard to make them exact. Perhaps they give a twen- 



112 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tieth. It 's cocoanuts, you know, and it 's hard to keep 
account." 

"Of course, polygamy is — " I was about to say "for- 
bidden," when I felt that I had broached a delicate topic. 
I was stupid. Here in a lagoon surrounded by a nar- 
row fringe of coral, to bang the eternal polyangle of one 
man and many women! The elders looked pained. I 
was about to withdraw the remark with an apology, but 
Westover made the most of his twenty-four years and 
waived aside my amends. 

"It must be met," he said. "We obey the laws of the 
land. The American law forbids plural marriages, and 
our church expressly forbids them. We are loyal 
Americans. We say to these people that polygamy 
is not to be practised. That 's true, no matter what 
the Josephites say." 

Elder De Kalb, who was watching me, interposed : 

"I suppose you 're not a Mormon, but, as a matter 
of fact, is n't polygamy, with wives and children to the 
extent of a man's purse, all avowed and cherished, bet- 
ter than adultery?" 

Overton got upon his feet. "You bet it is," he de- 
clared, with intense feeling. "It 's nature's law. There 
are more women than men by millions. Men are polyg- 
amous by instinct. And, by heavens! look at all those 
old maids at home and in England!" 

Considering the sorrows of old maids, I felt my stand- 
ards being endangered, but was saved from downright 
perversion by accepting the royal favor of a tub of 
fresh water from a cistern that caught the rain-water 
from the roof. I was seeking to immerse myself in the 
inadequate bath when I saw the daughter of the king 



!» 



o 
o 

W) 

o 
-a 



bo 

e 



J2 



2 
"a! 

C 

o 

a 

o 






r r 



o 
o 

c 

t) 

a 
ca 

o 
o 

<o 
C 



i' ..__ 



o 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 113 

gazing at me interestedly, and I hope that I blushed. 
But the princess distinctly winked in the direction of 
my hosts as I attempted to sink into obhvion in the ten- 
gallon pail. 



CHAPTER VII 

Breakfast with elders — The great Mapuhl enters — He tells of San Fran- 
cisco — Of prizefighters and Police gazettes — I reside with Nohea — 
Robber crabs — The cats that warred and caught lish. 

TIMES in my life a bath had been a guerdon 
after days of denial in desert and at sea, but 
seldom so grateful as that in the stony garden 
of Mapuhi under the tropical sun. My wounds were 
healing, but the new skin forming in a score of places 
bound me like patches of plaster. Not many houses in 
the Paumotus were constructed to impound rain, even 
for drinking purposes. The cocoanut furnished the 
liquid for quenching thirst, or the brackish rain-water 
retained in holes dug five or six feet in the coral was 
drunk by the natives. The Europeans of any perma- 
nent residence gathered the rain in barrels or cisterns, 
and sometimes made ample reservoirs, while in a few 
atolls were little fresh lakes fed by rains, the bottoms of 
which were formed by a coral limestone impervious to 
water. Such lakes were very precious. 

When I went up the steps to the house, I found the 
Mormon elders fully dressed and preparing breakfast 
for three. A can of California peaches, a small broiled 
fish, and pilot biscuits were all the meal, but the grace 
was worthy of a feast. They bowed their heads, closed 
their eyes, and implored God to bless their fare, to make 
it strengthen them for the affairs of this world only as 
they conduced to His greater honor and glory. And 

114 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 115 

they put in a word for me, "Our brother who has come 
among us all unannounced, but doubtless for some good 
purpose known to Him who directs the sparrow's fall, 
and the sphere's movements." 

"We have to economize dreadfully," said De Kalb, 
apologetically. "We are spending our savings. 
Canned goods are dear. But we are saving souls right 
along. There is to be a service in the temple in half an 
hour, and we would like you to attend. We are going 
to pray for a successful rahui, the diving season, and for 
the safety of the divers. You know they never know 
when they 're going to come up dying or dead from 
the bottom of the lagoon." 

As he spoke there was framed in the doorway a native 
whom I knew instinctively to be the monarch of this 
cluster of atolls. He wore only a dark-blue pareu 
stamped with white flowers, but some men have an air 
which makes you know at first sight that they are masters 
of those about them. So was this Mapuhi, who, of all 
Paumotuans in a hundred years, had become distin- 
guished among whites. Mapuhi was a giant in stature, 
a man solidly planted on spreading bare feet of which 
each toe was articulated as the fingers of a master 
pianist's hand. His legs were rounded columns, the 
muscles hidden under the pad of flesh, his chest a great 
barrel, and below it a mighty belly, the abdomen of a 
Japanese or Chinese god of plenty. He was almost 
black from a life upon and in the salt water. 

His head was huge, a mass of grizzled hair low upon 
his forehead. His eyes, very large and luminous, gentle 
but piercing, gave an impression of absolute fearless- 
ness, of breadth of mind, and of devotion to his idea, be 



116 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

it ideal or indulgence. His chin was round and power- 
ful, but not prognathous. His mouth was well-formed, 
big and sensual under the short gray mustache, and 
not lacking in humor or a trace of irony. His nose was 
all but missing, for once when building a schooner an 
adz had shpped and cut it off. His face was thus flat- 
tened, with a shght suggestion of a fragment of a Greek 
gladiator's head; but it was not so disfigured as one 
might think, and preserved a mien of dignity and re- 
serve force, of moral grandeur and superiority which 
one might call kingly were kings as of old. But it 
was in his eyes I read the reasons for his rise from the 
ruck of his race to lordship over it, and to the admiration 
of the white traders and mariners whom he bested in all 
their own ways — navigation, ship-building, and even 
trade. 

When Mapuhi saw me, he looked inquiringly at the 
elders, and then smiled. I saw two rows of teeth, large 
as my thumb nail, and as brilliant as the pearl-shell from 
which he had wrung his vast fortune. He stood up- 
right, straight as a mast, solid as a tree, and commanding 
in every sense. More than seventy years of wrestling 
with the devils of the sea and lagoon, and the outcasts 
of Europe and America, had failed to bow him an inch or 
to take from him apparently a single attribute of his 
vigorous manhood except that across his broad face ran 
a score of wrinkles, which criss-crossed his forehead into 
diamond panes, and made one know he had learned the 
secrets of man and wind and water by fearful experi- 
ence. 

Thus was Mapuhi who had made the winds and cur- 
rents his sport, who in the dark of night ran the foaming 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 117 

passes that the white mariner shunned even in daylight, 
and who had made the trees and lagoons of his isles pay 
him princely toll. This was the man who alone had out- 
witted the white trader who came to take much and give 
little. 

"Good morning," said Mapuhi, in English, of which 
he knew only a few words. He gave me a probing 
glance, and retired, to appear in a few minutes in black 
calico trousers, a pink undershirt, and a belt of red silk. 
His eyes asked me if I was a trader come to compete 
with him. He sat down in a great chair that vaguely 
resembled a throne, wrought of bamfboo, and carved, and 
trussed to bear the exceeding weight of the man, for 
Mapuhi was over three hundred pounds. As he sat 
he inquired of the elders the reason for my being there. 
He did it with his foot. He twisted his toes into the 
most expressive interrogation, which was a plain ques- 
tion to the elders. They said in Paumotuan that I was 
an American, an important man, but precisely what 
were my affairs they did not know. I was interested 
in Mormonism, in Takaroa, and in the career of Ma- 
puhi. Assured that I was not another Tahiti trader, 
Mapuhi put out his great hands and took into them one 
of mine, and pressed it, as he said in Paumotuan, "My 
island is yours." 

I was loath to talk my poor Paumotuan, because I 
wanted to get as closely as possible to the mind of this 
noblest of his tribe ; and so I conversed in French, except 
when I appealed to the elders for more exact meanings 
in Paumotuan. 

"Mapuhi," I began, "even in San Francisco sailors 
know your skill in these dangerous waters." 



118 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"Ah, San Francisco!" said Mapuhi, regretfully. "I 
was there. I had a ship built there, and I sailed it to 
Takaroa. I lived there a week in your great house into 
which one drives with horses." 

. I conjured a picture of Mapuhi coming in a hack from 
the dock in San Francisco to the Palace Hotel, and of 
the striking contrast between this mighty man of these 
isles and the little men of finance and of commerce who 
must have dined about him. Kalakaua, king of the 
Hawaiian Islands, had lived there, and had died there. 
But charming as was that prince of bons vivants, he was 
nevertheless the victim of the white man's vices, and as 
years passed, his appearance became that of an overfed, 
over-ginned head porter. Even the patrons of the 
Palace must have had some vision of this man Mapuhi 
on the deck of his schooner, his vast chest and arms bare, 
his hair blown by the wind. Or, emerging from the 
waters of the lagoon, arising from the plunge to the 
coral cave where the lethal shark looks for prey. This 
was what he spoke in face and form to me. 

"I had seven nights," said Mapuhi, "in your great 
house, and seven days in your streets. The people were 
like the fish in the lagoon of Pukapuka, where no man 
seeks them, and where they crowd each other until they 
kill. I went in a room from the ground to v/here I slept, 
a room that moved on a cord ; and I rode in other rooms 
that moved about the roads on iron bands in which people 
sat who never said a word to one another, and who never 
spoke to me. As I walked in the roads they were dark 
as in the cocoanut-groves, for your houses make caves 
of the roads, as under the barrier-reef." 

"But, Mapuhi," I said, "we are happy in our way." 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 119 

"You do not laugh much," returned the chief, "Only 
I heard the laughter from the houses in which you sold 
rum. I am a good Mormon. I do not now drink your 
mad waters, but in your city only the mad waters made 
men happy. I was a gentile myself many years and did 
not know the truth. I, too, drank the mad waters." 

Mapuhi's eyes sought the picture of Brigham Young 
which was on the wall, but mine went to the figures 
of the prize-fighters, Jeffries and Johnson. Ma- 
puhi intercepted my glance and immediately became 
alert. 

"Was it possible that I had ever seen Teferite or Ti- 
Tionitone?'^ 

This question was put to Elder Overton, who hesi- 
tated to interpret. The subject was a scandal through- 
out the Paumotus. I read that in the preacher's face, 
but, comprehending the import of the words, I said that 
I knew Teferite; that he lived very near me, and that 
I saw him often in his store. Once or twice I had 
bought goods of him. He was getting very fat since 
Tihonitone had whipped him, and most of his time he 
hunted fish and wild animals. Tihonitone, the neega, 
as the Paumotuans call Afro-Americans, I had seen 
more than once, I said. 

"That neega knocked down the white Teferite and 
took the hundreds of thousands of francs given the 
winner," said Mapuhi, with spirit. "They are both 
great men, but the neega is the greatest. Next to the 
chiefs of the Mormon church, they are the greatest 
Americans." 

"Have you never heard of Roosevelt, Teddy Roose- 
velt?" I demanded. 



120 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

He did not know the man. An acquaintance in Ta- 
hiti sent him now and then the pink paper which con- 
tained the pictm-es of fighting men, of fighting dogs, 
and of women whose bosoms and legs were bare. 
America must now be full of these fights, and of beauti- 
ful women almost naked, he said. 

"Your two most famous men, Teferite and Tihoni- 
tone^ sell rum. The goods you bought of Teferite was 
rum, for he keeps a rum store in Los Angelese, and the 
neega in Keekago." 

Each sentence tore the elders' hearts, but Mapuhi 
salved their wounds. 

"These men are gentiles, I know," he concluded. 
"The elders have informed me. Mormons sell no rum. 
But tell me, is Tihonitone master of his white wife? I 
have her picture. She is beautiful." 

Overton frowned. 

"Mapuhi," he said, gently, "you make too much of 
those 'Police Gazette' pictures. The godly in America 
never see them. They are for the rum-drinkers, and 
are found only in the resorts of the wicked. Strength 
is admirable, but the fighting men of our country are 
the Philistines whom Jehovah chastised." 

To me, in English, the Utahan said: "That coon's 
licking the white man has cost the whole white race dear. 
A preacher in India told me England could better have 
afforded to give Johnson five million dollars, for what 
it has cost in troops. The same in Africa. The evil 
of prize-fighting was never better exemplified. Jef- 
fries' beating has hurt religion seriously." 

Mapuhi and the elders left the room, and returned in 
a few minutes in black broadcloth coats and high white 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 121 

collars, in which they sweated woefully. We all walked 
to the temple. It was close beside the beach, built of 
coral blocks, smeared with cement, white as the ocean 
foam. Its iron roof, painted crimson, was the only spot 
of color on the motu, except the nodding palms. 

"It is like the blood of the martyrs," exclaimed Over- 
ton, piously. "The temple was begun over twenty years 
ago. Nine years it took to build it, because the con- 
verts were few and poor, and labor scarce. Twice 
cyclones leveled it. Ten years ago the Takaroans began 
it again, and for two years it has been completed. I 
know of no more sublime monument to the true religion 
than this little temple. Every block of coral is a re- 
deemed soul. If only the gentiles in America knew the 
work we were doing!" 

We entered the temple reverently, the congregation, 
already seated, nearly filling it. On its rude coral floor 
were rough benches accommodating five or six per- 
sons each. A pulpit of gingerbread scrollwork, the 
only other furniture, was apologized for by De Kalb. 

"It was the plainest we could get. It was made for 
the Catholics. They like 'em fancy, like their religion." 

Elder Overton preached the sermon. De Kalb read 
from the Bible and the "Book of Mormon." The 
people who filled the edifice paid all attention. Serious 
always in their demeanor, except when affected by al- 
cohol, they were positively melancholy in religion. All 
who could afford it wore black, and the oldsters had 
long frock coats of funereal hue, and collars like the 
Americans. 

After the services, I broached to the elders my ne- 
cessity of a habitation. With the diving season opening 



122 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

in a few weeks, divers and traders would be at Takaroa 
from all about, and the 140 people of the atoll would 
be multiplied three or four times. Most of these divers 
would crowd in the houses of the natives, and the ma- 
jority of the traders would live on their schooners. Ma- 
puhi regretted that all his accommodations were be- 
spoken. 

The elders took me to the house of Nohea, a small, 
neat cottage, at the end of the avenue leading from the 
mole, an avenue all shining white with coral sand. It 
reminded me of the shell roads of my native State, 
Maryland, in my childhood. It was lined with the 
shanties and huts of the inhabitants. 

Nohea greeted me quietly. He was a dark man, six 
feet four inches in height, big all over, his muscles well 
insulated by deep fat, and with the placid giantism of 
a Yeddo wrestler. He was taciturn, reserved, and 
melancholy. Most of these natives became spiritually 
strained when, as commonly, late in life, they gave up 
the wicked pleasures of the flesh — alcohol, tobacco, and 
philandering. They lost toleration for unrighteousness, 
and the joy that in their unregenerate state had oozed 
from their wicked pores turned to acid. 

A friend and sometime partner of Mapuhi, and as 
devout a Mormon, Nohea was, next to Mapuhi, the fore- 
most figure in the archipelago. He was not a trader, 
except that he sold his pearls, shell, and copra for money 
and merchandise ; but he had dignity, strength, and per- 
sonality — not quite as had Mapuhi, but more than any 
other Takaroan. Among Paumotuans few men 
showed distinctive character. Nohea possessed that, 
and also physical strength and skill for the diving, for 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 123 

the handling of boats, and for the making of copra. 
When there was no white missionary at Takaroa, he 
was the hierophant of the Mormon church. He con- 
ducted the services and advised the faithful, collected 
the tithes, and admonished the sinners. He did not fail 
in zeal for that task. Nohea painted a hell darker than 
a shark's jaws, a pit of horror, lit by black flames which 
burned the non-Mormons, and a heaven on earth where 
baked pig was a free dish at all hours. The Mormon 
heaven is nearer the Mussulman's than the Christian's. 
Food and rills of fresh water, many beautiful and pas- 
sionate wives, song and feasting, were promised the 
Paumotuan. Golden harps and streets of pearl would 
hardly have brought their tithes to the church treasury. 

The very day I joined him I began to see things 
through his eyes. I was bathing at dusk in the clear 
waters of the lagoon near our home. The severe heat 
of the equatorial day had passed, and the still salt lake 
was as refreshing to my sun-stricken and coral-scratched 
body as the spring of the oasis to the parched traveler. 
The night was riding fast after the sunken sun, and 
driving the last gleam of color from the sky. 

As I floated at ease upon the quiet surface of the 
pale-green lagoon, the sounds of the murmurous twi- 
light — the rustling of the trees and the splash of the 
surf on the outer shore — were made discordant by a pe- 
culiar scraping noise near-by. I turned lazily over on 
my face and raised my head from the water. 

On the coral in the deceptive half-light of the crepus- 
cule was a hideous, shell-backed monster, which had 
emerged from an unseen lair, and moved slowly and 
lumberingly toward the cocoanut-trees. Its motions 



124 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

and appearance, in the semi-obscurity, took on the qual- 
ity of a dream-beast, affrighting in its amazing novelty. 
It was like a great paper-mache animal in a pantomine. 

I was beset by apprehension that it might advance to 
the lagoon and approach me in an element in which it 
would be my master. I swam swiftly to shore and 
called, "Nohea!" 

My companion came from near our hut, where on the 
red-hot coral stones, which had been made to glow by a 
fire of cocoanut-husks, he cooked the fish he had caught 
that afternoon. 

He looked at me inquiringly, and I pointed to the 
alarming creature now disappearing in the palm-grove. 

"AueT he cried irascibly, and sprang after the night- 
mare. When I overtook him, he was standing at the 
foot of a lofty cocoanut-tree and shaking his fist at the 
object of his pursuit, which was climbing with unbeliev- 
able speed up the slippery gray trunk. 

^'^I teienei! It is the kaveu, that devil of the night 
who robs us of our cocoanuts while we sleep. But wait ! 
I made a vow to destroy the next one I found thieving!" 

Nohea went a hundred yards to where a banana 
plant was growing in earth brought from Tahiti. He 
gathered clay and leaves, and with painstaking eifort 
fashioned a wreath of the mixture six inches wide and 
several feet in length. I stood in wonderment, guessing 
that he was making a charm to bring about the death 
of the despoiler of the groves. 

Nohea took a length of coir, the rope the Paumotuans 
make of cocoanut-fiber, — from the tree which feeds them, 
clothes them, and houses them, — and, tying it into a 
girdle but httle larger than the girth of the palm, put 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 125 

it about his wrists. The cocoanut-tree had, at regular 
intervals upon its trunk, projecting bands of its tough 
bark, and about the first of these above his head Nohea 
slipped the rope. He pulled himself up by it, and, 
clasping the tree with his legs, seized a higher holding- 
place. Thus he proceeded with ease until he had 
reached a point half-way of the lofty column. There 
he halted, and, taking from his shoulders his matted 
band, he plastered it firmly around the trunk. 

He then slipped to the ground. I was as puzzled 
as a boy who was told at sailing that the ship was 
weighing its anchor, and saw no scale. 

"That will do for him," said Nohea, "as the reef 
shatters the canoe when the steersman fails to find the 
pass." 

He returned to the fire, and soon we were absorbed in 
the pleasant processes of supper. We lived simply, be- 
coming near-to-nature folk, but we had plenty. First, 
we ate popo, tiny fish we had snared in our traps, and 
which we swallowed raw, after a soaking in the juice of 
limes. With our bonito steak we had broiled cocoanut- 
meat, and for drink we opened the wondrous chalices 
of the green nuts and enjoyed the cool wine. There 
was no breadfruit, for these islands of stone afforded 
no nourishment to such delicate and rich plants. But 
we had ship's biscuit from the schooner, and for desert 
a pot of loganberry jam. Nohea, his stomach full, sat 
contemplatively on his haunches. Now and then he 
cocked his ear toward the cocoanut-grove, but he said 
nothing. The crown of the tree in which the giant 
crustacean had vanished was lost in the gloom of night. 
A slight breeze sprang up from the distance toward the 



126 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Land of the War Fleet, and pandanus and miki-miki 
bushes nodded and gave forth little noises as their leaves 
and branches rubbed together. 

Over all was the atmosphere of mystic aloofness which 
the white feels so keenly in these far-away dots — the 
utter difference of scene and incident from the accus- 
tomed one of the home land. I mused about my own 
future in these little known tropics — 

Nohea cautiously raised himself to his feet, and, mo- 
tioning me to be silent, directed my attention to the 
tree up which had gone the ugly marauder an hour be- 
fore. We heard plainly a grating, incisive noise, and in 
a moment a huge cocoanut fell from among the swaying 
leaves to the earth. 

A smothered exclamation of fury broke from the 
Paumotuan, but he made no step and continued point- 
ing at the palm. Then I heard a scratching, and peering 
through the darkness with the aid of my electric torch, 
I saw the colossal crab coming down the trunk. He 
held on to the slippery bark by the sharp points of his 
walking legs, and backwardly descended with extreme 
care. 

Nohea watched intently as the animal neared the 
girdle of clay and leaves. I noted his excitement, but 
still could not resolve his plan. It flashed upon me as 
its success was established in an instant of action. 

The robber-crab, touching the clay, moved less care- 
fully, and suddenly, to my astonishment, let go his 
hold, and with claws wildly beating the air, whirled 
downward from the height of forty feet, crashing on 
the rocks at the foot of the tree. In a second Nohea 
was upon him with a club of purau wood. But there 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 127 

was no need for further punishment. The drop had 
caused instant death. The immense shell was smashed 
and the monster lay inert upon the coral stones. 

The diver sprang in the air and clapped his hands 
rapidly, as might a winning bettor at a prize-fight. 

"The fool!" he said. "He has no koekoe — no bowels 
of wisdom. He thought the clay was the bottom, and 
that he was already with the nut he had robbed me of, 
and which he could open and eat. Many I have killed 
like that one, but it takes time. I have had such a thief 
steal my pareu for his house, and a bottle of kerosene 
for mere mischief. We will eat the flesh of this one's 
legs, and I will melt his fat against the rahui when I 
might have rheumatism." 

Nohea showed me a great mass of blue fat under the 
kaveus tail, and from this he boiled down a quart of 
the finest oil. It was not only a specific for rheumatism 
but the best possible lubricant for sewing-machines and 
clocks, he said. He put some of the oil in the sun, and 
when thickened it made butter, though not with a milky 
taste. 

This thievish crab seemed marked by his star — doubt- 
less of the Cancer constellation — to play a deceptive part 
in the crustacean world, for not only had he practically 
abandoned the water as his element, learned to climb 
trees, and to eat food utterly foreign to his natural ap- 
petite, but he had a habit of hiding his tail when the rest 
of his body was in full view. He would stick it in any 
convenient hole, under a log, or even in the cocoanut- 
shell he had emptied. He was over-conscious and seem- 
ingly ashamed of it, like an awkward man of his hands 
at a wedding. 



128 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

The kaveu's descent from the hermit-crab family 
might explain his tail-concealment custom, for the her- 
mit concealed his entire body in a borrowed shell, and 
so, perhaps, the robber-baron was but showing an atavis- 
tic remnant of the disguise instinct. The whole crab 
tribe seemed tainted with this fear of being merely them- 
selves. Many of them picked up a piece of seaweed and 
stuck in on their projecting curved bristles, and let it 
grow as a kind of permanent bonnet. Others took 
pieces of live sponge, and fastened them to hooks on 
their backs. One clever chap stitched seaweed threads 
together to form a tube, and then crawled into it. And 
one masonic crab mixed a sandy cement and plastered 
its back with it until it looked like the floor of its pond. 

These specious masqueraders selected colors, too, to 
suit their background, and the seaweed or sponge must 
match the environment or be rejected. Older and hard- 
ened backsliders invited oysters and other moUusks and 
worms that live in limestone pipes to dwell on their 
shells, and move about with them. I was convinced 
that these low-down-in-the-scale beings knew more 
about their environment, and practised "safety first" 
more assiduously, than did man himself. The biggest 
robber-crab in the Takaroa groves could not have got a 
humble hermit brother to volunteer to go to war against 
a crab colony, or risk his life to glorify the crab state. 

In carrying a cocoanut, the robber crab held it under 
some of its walking legs, and retired, raised high on the 
tips of its other members a foot from the ground. Its 
body measured two feet long by eighteen inches wide. 
It did not use its claws in ascending the tree, but clung 
with the sharp points of its legs ; and I saw it go up steep 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 129 

rocks upon these. The remarkable strength of this mol- 
lusk was proved when one was placed in an ordinary 
tin cracker-box, which it could not take hold of, and 
a few hours later had twisted off the lid. Nohea said 
that they were not easy to trap, and that more than once 
a Paumotuan, who had climbed a tree in the night to 
procure nuts, to his great horror had had his hair seized 
by a crab. He said that usually they bit off from six to 
ten nuts upon each ascent of a palm. 

"The kaveu likes to eat the young turtles when they 
are hatched and making their first journey to the water," 
Ndhea informed me. "The crab, knowing where the 
eggs are buried, watches them as they mature in the 
sand." 

I told Nohea of the crabs I had seen in Japanese 
waters, some stretching seven or eight feet, and another 
which bore a human face upon its back. To see one of 
the latter crawling upon the sand was to see what ap- 
parently was a human mask moving across the beach. 
The Japanese said that these crabs were never known 
until after a fleet of pirates had been destroyed, and the 
leading villains beheaded upon the sea-shore. 

Against the rat, which was perhaps a worse enemy of 
the beneficent cocoanut than the crab, my friend Nohea 
had no safeguard. He could not afford to encircle his 
trees with bands of tin, as did corporate owners of plan- 
tations in Tahiti, but he told me, with great appreciation, 
the story of Willi, the clever American dentist, and his 
atoll of Tetiaroa, near Tahiti. Once it was the resort 
of the kings and aristocracy of Tahiti, the sanatorium 
to which they went when jaded, or wounded in war or 
sport, and to which the belles retired to whiten their 



130 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

complexion by wearing off the sunburn in the shade of 
the banyans and cocoanuts. It was famed in the annals 
of the Arioi, the ancient minstrels of Tahiti, as a scene 
of orgiastic dances. 

"The atoll of Tetiaroa," said Nohea, "had always 
many cocoanut-trees. The lagoon is as rich in fish as 
is Takaroa. Never had many people lived there, for 
it was tabu, and only for the Aril, the nobles, and the 
Arioi. But now it belongs to the man who takes away 
teeth from the head, and who hammers gold upon those 
that remain." 

The master diver spun his tale vividly but slowly. 
Often he repeated the same statement, for the Paumo- 
tuan speech, like that of all Polynesia, is a picture lan- 
guage, and iteration and harping is the soul of it, as of 
the ancient Hebrew chronicles. 

Upon my mat and gazing into the expressive eyes of 
the diver, I recalled what I myself had been told by 
the owner of Tetiaroa, and, with Nohea's story, pieced 
together the facts. 

Dr. Walter Johnstone Williams, the dentist of Ta- 
hiti for twenty years, had, as related Nohea, taken away 
the teeth of the South Sea Islanders or gilded those 
which remained. They love those shiny, precious-metal 
teeth, these children of the tropics, and would give al- 
most an}i;hing to gain the golden smile they admired. 
So when the royal family of Tahiti fell in debt to Dr. 
Williams, they -bartered, in exchange for fillings and 
pullings, facings and bridges, and for other good and 
sufficient consideration, the wondrous atoll of Tetiaroa. 
Upon it the shrewd and skillful dentist found tens of 
thousands of cocoanut-palms which had grown as volun- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 131 

teers in the generous way of tropic verdure, and he him- 
self planted tens of thousands more in order to increase 
the copra crop. He found a plague of rats, and, being 
unwilling to expend the large sum that would be needed 
for the metal bands which would frustrate the rats, he 
longed for a Pied Piper to lead the pests into the sea. 
But he bethought himself of the proverbial appetite of 
the domestic cat for the rat, and, lacking a magic whis- 
tler, he advertised for cats, offering to pay a franc for 
each one brought to his house by the Papeete quay. He 
had copies of his advertisement struck off on the press 
and posted upon the trees in and about Papeete, as was 
the custom. 

The result was a flood, a deluge, a typhoon of cats. 
The Tahitian boy was as eager as his American brother 
to earn a few coins to spend on- luxuries; and so 
the cats, much like our own in appearance except for 
their tails, which were curved like a question-mark, 
came in bags, in boxes, and in nets, while others were 
personally conducted, yowling, in the arms of the 
Tahitian youth. 

Dentist Williams had not expected so many, and had 
much trouble in finding places for them to reside un- 
til he could remove them to Tetiaroa. 

There were cats in his office, cats on the landings, 
cats in every room, and his garden was a boarding- 
place of felines. When more than a thousand had been 
collected, he posted a notice to ward off any further sel- 
lers, and, chartering a schooner, hastened with his live 
cargo to the atoll. There was no necessity of putting 
down a gangway from the vessel to the little wharf at 
Tetiaroa, for once she was made fast it needed but 



132 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the loosening of their bonds to cause the thousand cats 
to reach the shore in one bound from the deck. 

Of course, the cats set immediately about their pleas- 
ant business of catching and eating the rodents. There 
were tens of thousands of them, perhaps hundreds of 
thousands, because the island had been little inhabited 
for many years and the rats had been multiplying 
unmolested. But with a thousand South Sea Island 
cats to prey upon them, the easy supply of rats 
was soon exhausted. Then the cats chased them up and 
down the trees, in and out of caves and from every 
refuge, so that there came a day when the last rat 
was in the maw of a cat. 

Meanwhile, with such rich meat diet the cats in- 
creased mightily. When the rats were all gone, they 
were confronted with the problem of existence for un- 
counted thousands of cats. They might have learned 
to eat cocoanuts, but they had become such confirmed 
meat-eaters that they would not abandon their carnal 
appetites. They did what greed does the world over — 
what the Russians did recently — they began to eat one 
another. And they followed the example of industrial- 
ism which takes the young in factories. 

First toms and tabbies lay in wait for the children of 
other cats, and soon there was not a kitten left alive, 
nor could the parents prevent the devouring of their 
children because of the avid hunger of the adults. 

With the kittens gone, began a struggle, with the 
death of all as the apparent end in view. Swifter 
and stronger cats slew weaker cats, and the cats which 
allied themselves in bands, attacked distant strongholds 
of cats. Slowly and surely went on this internecine 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 133 

warfare, with the seeming certainty that, if not halted, 
one day the last two cats on Tetiaroa would face each 
other in the final contest of prowess. Then one lone 
cat might remain doomed to certain death from star- 
vation, .because there would be no meat left. 

Once on a leviathan Atlantic liner, when the usual 
exterminating process of hydrocyanic gas could not 
be used, all food was removed, and the rats were left 
to starve, with a dozen cats to hasten the end. But the 
rats ate the cats, and then the leather cushions, and 
finally their weaker brethren, until the last rat died of 
starvation. 

But on Tetiaroa when there were but a few dozen 
of the quickest, cleverest, and strongest cats remain- 
ing, the process suddenly stopped. Atavism, heredity, 
or the stern battle for life, developed in the survivors 
unusual intelligence, or they had a return of plain 
cat-sense. Perhaps they held a powwow, or meow- 
meow, or whatever a council of cats should be called, 
and decided upon the one course that would preserve 
their species. In any event, they saved themselves by 
ending the warfare. They reverted to the habits of 
their forefathers, and went fishing. It is as natural 
for a cat to fish as for a dog to hunt a rabbit. Fal- 
coner marked the ferocious jaguars of South America 
lying in wait upon the shores of the river Plata to seize 
the fish that passed by the roots of the trees. My 
goldfish ponds in California were raided by cats many 
times. 

"I myself," said Nohea, "have seen the fisher-cats 
of Tetiaroa stretched at length on the shores of the 
lagoon, awaiting their prey. I have seen a mother cat, 



134 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

with her kittens stringing in a cue behind her, snar- 
ing in silence, and with paws fierce to strike, the small 
fish which come in the eddies of the shallow pools. I 
have seen the good parent pass a small fish back to 
her child and smile mider her bristling whiskers at 
her cleverness* in providing such fare for her little 
ones." 

The diver ceased speaking, and unrolled his mat. 
He knelt a moment and prayed, and then he laid him 
down, and in a moment his deep breathing was inform- 
ing of his serene slumber. 

I lay there a few minutes thinking of his story, of 
the robber-crabs and the fisher-cats, and above me the 
vast fronds of the cocoas inclined to and fro, while, 
doubtless, other industrious crabs, unwarned by their 
kindred's fate, were climbing for nuts. 



CHAPTER VIII 

I meet a Seventh-Day Adventist missionary, and a descendant of a mu- 
tineer of the Bounty — They tell me the story of Pitcairn island — 
An epic of isolation. 

MAPUHI, though a zealous Mormon, was not 
illiberal in his posture toward other faiths. 
In his long years he had entertained a number 
of them as ways to salvation before the apostles of 
Salt Lake sent their evangelists to Takaroa. A day 
or two after landing he brought to Nohea's hut two 
aliens, whom, he said, I should know, because their 
language was my own. He introduced them as Jabez 
Leek, mahana maa mitmare, a "Saturday missionary," 
and Mayhew December Christian, his assistant. They 
had come to the atoll to dive in living waters for souls. 
A few words and they were revealed as exceptional 
men, from far-away places. The Reverend Jabez 
Leek was my countryman, as were the opposing elders 
I had met here and at Kaukura. He said, with our 
half-defiant local pride, that he came from the home 
of "postum and grape nuts." A divine of the 
Seventh Day Adventist persuasion, he cheerfully as- 
sociated diet and religion, as do most sects, the Jews 
with kosher foods and no pork; the Catholics with ab- 
stinence from meat on certain days, and Mormons from 
alcohol, coffee, and tea; and Protestants with the par- 
taking of the Lord's Supper. 

135 



136 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"I am hoping to win for the true Christ a few souls 
for saving from the lake of fire in that final day," said 
the Reverend Mr. Leek, with the accent of sincerit5^ 
There are few hypocrites among missionaries. They 
believe in their remedies. 

Mapuhi, when Mr. Leek's declaration was inter- 
preted to him by Mayhew December Christian, was 
stirred. He said so, and the most interesting subject 
in the world to elderly people the world over — the state 
of man after death — was discussed eagerly, though with 
the reserve of proselytizing disputants. They agreed 
that in Mormonism and Seventh Day Adventism they 
had in common the personal reign of Christ on earth 
and prophecy. Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, 
the pastor from Battle Creek, Michigan, compared with 
the God-inspired Ellen G. White, who, he said, had 
led humanity back to the infalHbility and perfection of 
the Bible as the sole rule of life and faith. They both 
believed in a Supreme God, and that only in the last 
century, two thousand years after his son had been 
here in person, God had raised up men and women to 
conduct sinners to paradise. It had been a revolution- 
ary century in revealed religion. The Battle Creek 
preacher began to tell of the apocalyptic Mrs. White 
and her prophetic announcements, and Mapuhi was 
beginning to prick up his big brown ears when he was 
called away. The Mormon elders needed him in a con- 
ference. The slow, interpreted speech of the minister 
flowed into rapid English as he directed his words to 
me and Mr. Christian. The latter was evidently of 
mixed blood, with Anglo-Saxon features, light-brown 
hair, dark-blue eyes, but a dark skin and the volup- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 137 

tuous mouth of these seas. His voice, too, had a unique 
timbre, and his Enghsh was slightly confused by 
Polynesian arrangement of sentences. 

"God has set his seal upon rebellion for his own 
purposes," continued Leek. "The conflict with Satan 
is fiercer every year, but the Lord listens to those who 
supplicate him. He is proof of his mercy." 

He put his hand on the shoulder of Mayhew De- 
cember Christian. 

"The first white settlers in the South Seas were 
rebels. They were traitors to their king, murderers, and 
revolters against religion, morals, and society. They 
were in the hands of Satan, and some of them must 
perish in the lake of fire after the final judgment. But 
Christian here is a true sample of the strange way God 
works out his plans. He is a great-grandson of 
Fletcher Christian, who led the mutiny of the British 
ship Bounty, and he is a Seventh Day Adventist and a 
missionary of our denomination." 

The mutiny of the Bounty! A phrase projects a 
hazy page of history or raises the curtain upon an al- 
most-forgotten episode. Fletcher Christian! There 
was a name. They frightened children with it while 
he was still alive, and it became a synonym for insub- 
ordination at sea. A thousand sailors in two gener- 
ations were spread-eagled or hailed to the mast and 
given the cat while the offended officer shouted, "You 'd 
be a damned Christian, would you? I '11 take the 
Christian out o' you!" He and his desperate gang had 
committed the most romantically infamous crime of 
their time, and their story had been for a hundred years 
singular in the manifold annals of violent deeds in the 



138 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tropics. Their rebellion and its outcome was written 
scarlet in the records of admiralty, and for long was 
a mysterious study for psychologists, a dreadful illus- 
tration to the godly of sin's certain punishment, and the 
most fascinating of temptations to seamen and adven- 
turers. 

The Bounty had gone to Tahiti from England to 
transport breadfruit-trees to the West Indies. George 
III was on the throne of maritime England, and be- 
tween the equator and the polar circle his flag flew 
almost undisputed. Captain Cook had carried home 
knowledge of the marvelous fruit in Tahiti, "about the 
size and shape of a child's head, and with a taste be- 
tween the crumb of wheaten bread and Jerusalem arti- 
choke." The West Indies had only the scarcely 
wholesome roots of the manioc and cassava as the main 
food of the African slaves, and their owners believed 
that if the breadfruit were plentiful there, the negroes 
would be able to work* harder. Lieutenant Bligh, 
Cook's sailing-master, was despatched with forty-four 
men in the two-hundred-ton Bounty to secure the trees 
in the Society Islands, and fetch them to St. Vin- 
cent and Jamaica. When they at last reached maturity 
there, the slaves refused to eat them, and another dream 
of perfection went by the board. 

Bligh was a hell-roarer of the quarter-deck, of the 
stripe less common to-day than then, only because of 
such mutinies as it prompted. Crowded in a leaky 
ship, with moldy and scanty provisions, half around 
Cape Horn, and all around Cape of Good Hope, after 
twenty-seven thousand miles of sailing, and a year and 
two months of harsh discipline and depressing lack of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 139 

decent food or sufficient water, the green and lovely 
shores of Tahiti were a haven to the weary tars. They 
were greeted as heaven-sent, and for six months they 
ate the fruits of the Isle of Venus, swam in its clear 
streams, and were made love to by its passionate and 
free-giving women in its groves. When, with a thou- 
sand breadfruit shoots aboard, Bligh ordered up-anchor 
and away, the contrast between the sweets of the pres- 
ent and the prospect of another year of Bligh's tyr- 
anny, with a certainty of poverty in England or hard- 
ship at sea, turned the scale against the commander. 
An attempt to wreck the ship by cutting its cable failed, 
but the second night of the homeward voyage Fletcher 
Christian, master's mate, who had -made three voyages 
under Bligh, being in charge of the deck, led a mutiny. 
Bligh was seized in his bunk, bound, and, with eight- 
een of the crew who were not in the plot, and a small 
amount of food and water, set adrift in a small boat. 
Bligh's party reached Malaysia after overcoming over- 
whelming dangers and sufferings, and most of them 
went from there in a merchant's ship to London, where 
Bligh's account of the mutiny, and his and his loyal 
men's wanderings, "filled all England with the deepest 
sympathy, as well as horror of the crime by which they 
had been plunged into so dreadful a situation." The 
frigate Pandora, with twenty-four guns and 166 fighting 
men, blessed by bishops, and with a special word from 
the king, but just temporarily recovered from his re- 
current insanity, sailed speedily to "apprehend the mu- 
tineers." 

Those hearties had meanwhile arranged their own 
fates. The Bounty was now a democracy with Chris- 



140 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tian as president, and the vote, after an experiment in 
another islet, was to go back to the fair ones in the 
groves of Tahiti. There sixteen of the twenty-five 
aboard, determined to become landsmen, and, with the 
joyous shouts and hula harmonies of their native friends, 
transferred their share of the plunder on the ship to 
the shore, and went to dancing among the breadfruits. 
Christian was shrewder. He knew well the long arm 
of the British monarchy, and warned his shipmates their 
haven would be but for a little while. They were caper- 
ing to the pipes of Pan and would not listen, and so with 
nine Englishmen, six Tahitian men, ten Tahitian belles, 
and a girl of fifteen, the Bounty weighed and steered 
a course unknown to those who stayed. 

These latter weltered in an Elysium of freedom from 
humiliations, discipline, work, and unrequited cravings 
for mates, and in a perfection of warmth, delicious 
viands, exaltation of rank, and amorous damsels. 
Chiefs adopted them, maidens caressed them, the tender 
zephyrs healed their vapors, and they were happy; un- 
til the Pandora arrived, snared them, and took them in 
chains to England, where they were tried and three 
hanged in chains at Spithead. The Pandora reported 
that no trace could be found of the Bounty, and the 
most that could be done was to anathematize Christian 
and the mutineers, and to make the path of the ordinary 
seaman more thorny, as a deterrent to others. 

For twenty-four years England heard nothing of the 
further movements of the pirates. The new generation 
forgot them, but Christian's name Ungered as a threat 
and a curse. The ship and crew disappeared as com- 
pletely as though at the bottom of the sea; and when 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 141 

their refuge finally was disclosed, horrifying and also 
wonderfully poignant chapters were added to the log 
of the Bounty, and one of the most curious and affecting 
conditions of humanity brought to light. The bare out- 
line of all this is in every Pacific chronography, but 
one must have heard its obscure intricacies from a scion 
of a participant to appreciate fully their lights and 
shadows. Mayhew December Christian told me these, 
and the Reverend Jabez Leek commented and pointed 
the moral. 

"My great grandfatheh want go farthes' from Eng- 
alan'," said Mayhew, "and he look on chart of Bounty 
an' fin' small islan' not printed but jus' point of pencil 
made by cap'in where English ship some years before 
find. It was call' Pitcairn for midshipman who firs' 
see it from mas.' He steer there an' in twenty- three 
day Bounty arrive. That where I was born." 

Not by any spelling or clipping of letters could I 
convey the speech and accent of the islander, English, 
Tahitian, and American, — Middle Western, — combined 
into a peculiar patois, soft at times, and strident at 
others, with admixture of Tahitian words. He went 
on to tell how his ancestor and his companions looked 
with hope at the land which must give them safety or 
death. They reached the shore through a rocky inlet 
and rough breakers, and, on finding stone images, hatch- 
ets, and traces of heathen temples, were cast down by 
fear of savages. But as days passed, and they gradually 
wandered over the entire island without trace of any 
present inhabitants, they felt secure. Its smallness in 
that vast and then trackless waste of waters below the 
line reassured them of its insignificance to mariners or 



142 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

rulers, it being only five miles long by two wide, and 
with no harbor or protected bay. Rugged in outline, and 
uninviting from the deck, with peaks and precipices 
sheer and sterile-looking, the mutineers were gladdened 
to walk through forests of beautiful and useful trees, 
with fruit and grasses for making native clothes; and 
about its borders to be able to catch an abundance of 
fish and crustaceans. 

They drove and warped the ship into the inlet against 
the cliff, and fastened it by a cable to a mighty tree, 
and in a few weeks removed everything useful to the 
upland where they pitched their first camp. Christian, 
with the determination and foresight that saved his 
group from the ignominious end of those who would 
not abjure the ease of Tahiti, insisted on burning the 
Bounty, to remove all indication of their origin to vis- 
itors, and, doubtless, to make impossible belated efforts 
to desert their sanctuary. They lived in tents made of 
the canvas until they built houses from the ship's planks, 
and these among the spreading trees so that they were 
completely unseen from the sea. They had ample pro- 
visions from the stores until they could raise a crop of 
vegetables, and the plants they brought might supple- 
ment those indigenous. The island was covered with 
luxurious growths, there was water, and they extracted 
salt from pools among the rocks. They parceled out all 
the land among the Englishmen, and each with his Tahi- 
tian wife set up his own home. The Tahitian men 
helped different ones in their building and cultivation, 
and in peace and comparative plenty they began one of 
the most startling experiments of mankind. 

Nine Englishmen, mostly rude sailors, with ten Tahi- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 143 

tian women and a girl, and six Tahitian men, — unevenly 
divided as to sex, whites and Polynesians unable to 
converse except meagerly, with totally different inherit- 
ance and habits, — were there as the experimenters, with 
no restraint upon passions or covetings except the feeble 
check of mutual interests. A hamlet in the ripest civil- 
ization has difficulty to govern by these. Compromise 
through a supposed expression of the will of the major- 
ity in elections has become an accepted solvent, but in 
reality the determined and organized minority wins usu- 
ally. On Pitcairn, as in Eden, a woman caused the fail- 
ure. After two years of associated achievement, the wife 
of Williams, a mutineer, having fallen to death from 
a cliff while gathering sea-birds' eggs, that subject of 
King George demanded and was awarded the wife of 
a Tahitian comrade. The committee of the whole, 
Anglo-Saxon whole, in contemplation of their own 
naked souls, could not deny Williams. The woman 
left the hut of her husband and shared the couch of 
the victor in the award. "There was no appeal, for 
the supreme court, as in America, was final, no matter 
what the congress of the people wished. The lady was 
complacent, but the cuckolded Tahitian got together 
his color majority and protested. He was told to 
nurse his wrath in hell, and the court administered sum- 
mary sentences to all who disputed its power or equity. 
Timiti had murmured, but, as mere treason was too 
sublimated a charge, they brought another against him, 
and the tribunal was assembled, with the entire citizenry 
as witnesses and auditors. Christian walked up -and 
down in the house as evidence was offered, and once, 
as he turned, Timiti, sure of the court's finding, flew 



144 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

out of the door. He escaped to the other shore of the 
island, but after weeks was decoyed by false promises 
and murdered as his deceivers combed his tangled hair, 
a sign of friendship. 

The remaining Tahitian males formed a committee of 
vigilance, and voted to rid the island of the entire su- 
preme court. Its members were saved from immediate 
assassination by their wives, who, in the way of women 
on continent and islet, loved them because they were 
the fathers of their children. Moreover, since Cook 
claimed as paramour in Hawaii the Princess Lelemah- 
oalani, dark women have been fired by ambition for so- 
cial and environmental climbing on a white family tree. 
The wives of the English in Pitcairn were able to inform 
their husbands through the gossip of the wives of the 
Tahitians, who also sided with the whites. One carried 
her adherence far enough to murder her spouse while 
he slept. Life was made fearful for these wives, and 
once they constructed a raft and were beyond the break- 
ers to sail to Tahiti or oblivion, when the Englishmen's 
women's wailing and pleading induced them to return. 
For months more it was touch and go as to survival. 
Murder stalked hourly, and the oppression of the 
whites became that of masters towards slaves. Then the 
Tahitians crept into their huts and secured the firearms, 
and with these hunted down the Europeans. They 
killed first John Williams, the successful litigant, and 
then Fletcher Christian, the chief justice, and, quickly, 
John Mills, Isaac Martin, and William Brown. Wil- 
liam McCoy, John Quintal, and John Adams were fleet 
enough to reach the woods, and Edward Young, mid- 
shipman of the Bounty, beloved of all the women, was 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 145 

secreted by them. John Adams when hunger-pressed 
showed himself, and was shot and badly wounded. He 
ran to the bluff above the sea, and was about to hurl 
himself to destruction when induced to refrain by his 
pursuers, whose hearts failed them. Adams, Young, 
McCoy, and Quintal, but a quartet of the nine muti- 
neers, remained, and five of the six Tahitian men. The 
latter had cut down the four to a minority of the male 
populace, and were delighted to swear eternal amity. 
Adams recovered, and, at a midnight session, the whites 
released themselves from their oaths and decreed the 
wiping out of every male but themselves. They swore 
as allies the widows of the other sailors, and, as fast as 
dark opportunity offered, the decree was executed. 
They were, shortly, the only men. 

Now was a second chance for peace and success. The 
experiment of putting together without higher author- 
ity a band of white men with women and slaves as spoils 
had miscarried. The inferior tribesmen were finished, 
but there were four of the higher race, and eleven na- 
tive women, still subjects for further probation. One 
would say for certain that on that lonely speck of land, 
having glutted any blood lust, and with twelve of their 
number already dead, these four men of the same race, 
religion, and profession would get along somehow. It 
was not to be. 

"McCoy," said Mayhew December Christian, "liked 
to drink liquor. Before he* was a seaman he worked in 
a distillery in England, and on Pitcairn he distilled ti 
leaves in his tea-kettle. They all had drunk his alcohol, 
and it had been a factor in the quarrels. He got worse 
as he became older, and he and Quintal kept up a 



146 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

continuous spree until the devil gi-ipped McCoy for his 
own, and McCoy tied a rock around his waist and 
leaped into the sea. Three whites were left, and Quin- 
tal had learned nothing from the past. He drank 
the ti liquor, and when his wife came from fishing with 
too few fish he bit off her ear. When she fell from 
the cliff and was disowned, Quintal, with all the other 
women to choose from, demanded the wife of one of 
his two shipmates. He made terrible threats against 
both of them, and they knew he meant what he said." 

In the first case since its institution the court of 
Pitcairn divided. Adams and Young, taunted by the 
continuing insults of Quintal to their matrimonial in- 
tegrity, and faced with the probability of extinction un- 
less they acted vigorously, seceded from the minority. 
They deluded Quintal into a momentary incautiousness 
when the recurrent insistence of his demand was being 
quarreled over in the presence of the entire community, 
and butchered him with a hatchet. 

"I heard the daughter of John Mills, an old woman, 
relate the incident," said Mayhew. "They were gath- 
ered together, children and all, in Adams's house, when 
he and Young jumped upon Quintal and chopped him 
to pieces-. The blood was everywhere, she said, and we 
grew up with a song about it. My mother used to 
croon it to :me on her lap." 

Young, midshipman, of gentle breeding, and a se- 
rious man at his lightest, faded away, and in his last, 
melancholy days, uttered the name of God. Con- 
vinced that Adams would not strike him down, he 
gave way to a conviction of sin, the remembrance of his 
childhood at home. He died begging for mercy, which 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 147 

Adams assured him would be granted to a contrite heart. 
They laid him in a grave upon the land he had cultivated, 
and over him was said the first word of funeral sermon 
pronounced in Pitcairn. John Adams, the preacher, 
of the fifteen males who had sailed in the Bounty from 
Tahiti, was sole survivor. Fourteen had perished, thir- 
teen violently, in the search for happiness and free- 
dom from restraint. Man had almost annihilated his 
brother. 

John Adams had a dream in which it was pointed out 
to him that upon his head was not merely the blood of 
the many who had been murdered, but that the bodies 
and souls of the innocents remaining were in his care. 

"Thou art thy brother's keeper," said the scroll in 
his vision. He counted his human kind. The feud had 
swallowed fourteen strong and wilful men, but nature, 
as it had allowed their crops to grow and their trees to 
become fruitful, had preserved eight of the women, and 
their fertility had given twenty-three children to the 
mutineers. Christian had fathered three, McCoy three, 
Quintal the bold, five, Young six, Mills two, and Adams 
four. Adams drew about him these thirty-one beings, 
and commenced a new regimen. He forswore the de- 
mocracy of Pitcairn, and in the sweat of his soul dedi- 
cated the island to the God of the Bible and prayer-book 
that had molded on a shelf until then. In tears and with 
vows he gathered his flock about him and daily and 
nightly expounded to them verses and read them pray- 
ers. He did not lose sight of the material needs in his 
flinging himself on the compassion of heaven, but gave 
every one a task and saw that it was done. He taught 
the children English from these, the only books saved, 



148 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

and it was not the least of his accomplishments that he 
was able to make his language theirs, for their mothers 
knew nothing of it. The thirty-two became one family, 
the eight widows looking upon him as their father, as 
did the little ones. Morning and evening, and all Sun- 
day, a stream of prayers for their welfare and salvation 
was directed by him toward the seat of the Almighty, 
and the theocracy of Pitcairn waxed fat and sweet. 
With one head, and many hands, yearly increasing as 
the children grew, they perfected their fields and bow- 
ers, their fewer houses and their gear, and, born into 
the environment, the adolescents became marvelously 
adapted to its necessities. When the scene was un- 
veiled to the outer world, it would have needed a Rous- 
seau to describe its felicity. 

Captain Mayhew Folger, a sealer from Boston, com- 
manding the Topaz, lifted the curtain twenty years after 
the mutiny and ten years after Adams had become 
its sole survivor. He sailed to Pitcairn to look for 
seals, and offshore was hailed in English by three youths 
in a boat who offered him cocoanuts, and told him an 
Englishman was there. He landed, and was received 
with warm hospitality. He put down Adams's state- 
ment in the Topaz's log, with the comment that what- 
ever his crimes in the past, he was now "a worthy man, 
and might be useful to navigators who traverse this 
immense ocean." He also recorded that Adams gave 
him hogs, cocoanuts, and plantains. 

England did not gain a clue to the "mystery of the 
Bounty" through the Topaz log. Captain Folger 
tarried a day at Pitcairn, and his ship was confiscated at 
Valparaiso shortly afterwards by the Spanish governor 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 149 

of Chile. Young America and England were not close 
friends, and their navies and merchant marines were at 
odds. Six years elapsed before even the British ad- 
miralty knew the facts. They were gained on an ex- 
pedition of immense interest to Americans. Captain 
Porter, of the Yankee navy, had been not long before 
in the Marquesas Islands, to which he had taken prize 
ships captured in the war between Great Britain and 
the United States, and where he had flown the American 
flag in token of possession, and killed many helpless 
natives to indicate his power. The British captured 
Porter in the Essex, undid at Nuku-Hiva what he had 
done, and did it over in the name of King George. 
Bound from the Marquesas to Chile, Captain Staines 
of the Briton unexpectedly sighted Pitcairn and was 
confounded at the signs of human life in huts and laid- 
out fields, but more so when Thursday October Christian 
and George Young shouted from a small boat to "throw 
them a rope." Invited aboard the Briton and put 
at table, they asked a blessing in English, and said they 
had been taught by John Adams of the Bounty to 
reverence God in every act. The Briton commander, 
amazed at this apparition of civilization from the ghostly 
past, put ashore a party, and investigated the colony 
of forty-eight. The stupified Pitcairn folk were afraid 
that Adams would be taken prisoner, and he doubtless 
would have been except for the pleadings of the young, 
and especially of Adams's "beautiful grown daughter." 
The captain stayed a few hours and reported to the 
admiralty in England the answer to the Bounty rid- 
dle, and that never in his lifetime had he seen such a 
model settlement or such virtuous and happy people. 



150 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

England was at war with Napoleon, and left Adams 
to time. Ten years later came a British whaler, and 
Adams confessed himself old to its captain. He begged 
for a helper in governing his conmionwealth, and espe- 
cially in teaching them. The captain assembled the crew 
and asked for a volunteer. John Buffet, twenty-six, 
cabinet-maker, twice shipwrecked, and a lover of his 
fellow, stepped out and was accepted. He knew that it 
meant years of isolation from Europe, but that was 
what he had craved in his rovings. When his ship was 
ready to sail, Johnny Evans, nineteen, Buffett's chum, 
was missing. He had hidden in a hollow stump. The 
community was obliged to receive him. And so two 
white men, fresh from Europe, became members of a 
family of several score half-breeds who, in an idyllic 
simplicity and a gentle savagery, had lived for years 
undisturbed by a foreign or dissentient element, and 
who in their common affection and openness of heart 
were remindful of the Christians of the catacombs. The 
second period of Pitcairn was ended. 

It continued as a secluded handful of people, but new 
theocracies began to govern them. God had been al- 
ways their dependence and lord paramount, but his vice- 
gerents had guided them in tortuous paths toward his 
throne. 

The Reverend Jabez Leek, who had often supplied 
links in the chain which had led the relation of Mayhew 
December Christian from the mutiny to the coming of 
Buffett and Evans, said this: 

"I was induced to go to Pitcairn by the devotion of 
one of its sons to the place of his birth," he explained. 
"I met him in California. He was a young man, and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 151 

one of the few Pitcairners who had ever been to 
America. He had voyaged to England as a sailor on 
a ship that had touched at Pitcairn, and was trying to 
return home. That seemed impossible. Twice he had 
shipped on vessels bound for Australia, with promises 
to land him if the wind permitted, and once had sighted 
his island, but his ships were driven past both times, 
and he had been forced to go half-way round the world 
on them. He toid me that he had left home in order 
to earn money to start married life better. He had 
engaged himself to a Pitcairn girl, and, as is the custom 
there, the marriage day was put three years away. It 
was already two years and a half since he had departed. 
He had not the means to charter a ship, — that would 
have cost thousands, — and his health was fast going. 
Just homesickness. It was nothing else. The doctors 
said there was nothing the matter with his body, but he 
got weaker. There was no ship offering, and I doubt if 
he could have passed muster, but daily he examined the 
shipping lists, and often went to the docks and offices 
to get a chance. It was he who told me about Pitcairn 
and its God-fearing people, and he first introduced 
me to the true religion of Christ. He was a sincere 
Seventh Day Adventist, and confident of the coming 
of Christ on earth and of his own salvation. It was 
pitiful to see him fail. We lodged in the same house, 
and I talked to him daily. He said that when he saw 
Pitcairn receding in the distance after seven months on 
the Silverhorn, he could not leave the rail of the ship, 
and remained there when night came peering into the 
darkness until at dawn he had to take up his duties. 
His only hope was in God, but he was destined to wait 



152 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

until the first resurrection, unknowing time or space, 
until he comes before the judgment of God. As the 
day set for his marriage came nearer, he abandoned 
desire to live past it, and the only sorrow he had was 
that his sweetheart could not know his inability to keep 
his troth. He died the day before the three years ex- 
pired, and in his last moments advised me that God had 
made him the channel through which the truth of re- 
ligion might be made known to me. His death opened 
my eyes, and I accepted the gospel. 

"I studied for our ministry, and, with service in other 
fields, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to go to 
Pitcairn after expressing my earnest desire to see God's 
will and power shown in such manifest ways. Our de- 
nomination had its own missionary vessel, the Pitcairn, 
doing the Master's work in these seas, and I went on it. 
On the thirty-third day we came to Bounty Bay and 
anchored, and in the boat that put off to greet us, be- 
sides two of our own elders, was this young man, great- 
grandson of the Fletcher Christian who had, we fear, 
died without knowing God's mercy. I remained on 
Pitcairn a long time, a fruitful, peaceful span, for all 
there were devout members of our church, and God had 
blessed them greatly in faith and works. They had not 
been without religious trials, though, and it was only in 
1886 that they received the gift of the truth. Buffett, 
the young Englislmian upon whom Adams put the 
teaching, married Midshipman Young's daughter, Dor- 
othy; and Evans, John Adams's girl, Rachel. They 
were there a half dozen years when George Hun Nobbs 
arrived with an American named Bunker. They came 
from Chile in a yawl. Nobbs had heard there the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 153 

Bounty story, and was so excited over it that he induced 
Bunker to start out with him for Pitcairn in a small boat. 
Nobbs said he was the son of a Marquis, and soon 
claimed the hand of Sarah Christian, the mutineer's 
granddaughter. Bunker tried for her sister, Peggy, 
and when she refused, threw himself from a cliff, as 
McCoy had done long before. Nobbs built a house out 
of the lumber of his boat, and, because he was the best 
educated man, took Buffett's place as schoolmaster. 
Buffett was angry, but the people chose Nobbs because 
Buffett had fallen once into a very terrible sin. Every- 
body knew it, and though he had repented bitterly, it 
was remembered. Then John Adams died after forty 
years on Pitcairn, and thirty of contrition, and Nobbs 
became pastor, too. 

"A tremendous change came about then. Tahiti was 
controlled by the London Protestant missionaries; and 
they made an arrangement with the Pitcairners to give 
them land, and transportation to Tahiti. Every one 
was moved to Tahiti, and Pitcairn left uninhabited. In 
Papeete they saw for the first time in their lives, money, 
immorality, saloons, vile dances, gambling, and scarlet 
women. Buffett and his family returned within a few 
weeks, and after fourteen had died of fever, a schooner 
was chartered to take all back. It was paid for by 
the copper stripped from the Bounty, which had been 
carried to Tahiti. Back in their old homes, all was not 
as before. Adams had never broken the still used by 
McCoy and Quintal, and it began to be more active. 
Nobbs and Buffett, though good men, liked a drop of 
the ti juice, and there was a let-down in strict morality. 
Things were at a pass when Joshua Hill arrived. In 



154 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

England he had learned about Pitcairn, and through 
Hawaii and Tahiti had come a roundabout route. Hill 
pretended to have been deputized by the British Govern- 
ment, and declared he was the governor and pastor, both. 
He fired out Nobbs from the church and school, and 
made no bones of what he thought of Buffett and Evans, 
the other Englishmen. Hill was past seventy, but he 
had his way. Nobbs, Buffet, and Evans were supported 
by Charles Christian, Fletcher's son, but Hill ruled with 
an iron hand. He had Buffett beaten with a cat-o'- 
nine-tails in public, and announced that he was going 
to reform Pitcairn if he had to flog every person. He 
quoted Jesus's action in the temple, and when he heard 
that several of the women had been talking about his 
Qwn dereliction, he called everybody in prayer to judge 
them. His own prayer was : 

" 'O Lord, if these women die the common death of all 
men, thou hast not sent me.' " 

"This was going too far, and there were no amens, 
which made Hill furious. I have heard this from one 
who was present. When he learned about Buffett's 
sin, and that it had been concealed from him, he made 
up his mind to give Buffett an unforgettable lesson with 
a whip. Then he put the three whites on the first 
vessel touching Pitcairn, and exiled them. This was 
the straw that broke Hill's rule. A schooner captain 
brought back the trio, and they and others opposed 
Hill. An elder's daughter took some yams that did not 
belong to her, and at her trial Hill said she should be 
executed for her crime. The father indignantly op- 
posed any severe sentence. Hill, who had felt his au- 
thority lessening, rushed into his room and returned 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 155 

with a sword, and shouted out for the father to confess 
his sins as he intended to kill him immediately. A 
grandson of Quintal, who had bitten his wife's ear off, 
leaped over a table, and though he threw Hill down, he 
could not prevent Hill from stabbing him many times. 
Others came to his rescue, and Hill was disarmed. He 
was soon deported, as the Englishmen had written to 
the British admirality in Chile about his madness, and 
a war vessel came to quiet things. Nobbs took hold 
again, and when our missionary came, they were ready 
for the real word of God. Within two weeks they all had 
given up Sunday as the Sabbath and were keeping Sat- 
urday, the Seventh Day, the Sabbath instituted at the 
end of creation, and the day Christ and his apostles 
rigidly observed. I loved the Pitcairn brethren. 
When my time came to go into other fields, I brought 
with me Mayhew December Christian, who had been 
selected for his understanding of our beliefs and his 
spiritual growth." 

The Reverend Mr. Leek stopped, and Nohea, who 
had awakened with a start from a fitful slumber, said 
loudly, ''Amener 

"You should read the account of Pitcairn by Buffett's 
granddaughter," said the minister. *'Mayhew, we will 
sing before we go to sleep our hymn of Pitcairn, fifth 
and last verses!" 

The descendant of the arch-mutineer led in a mellow 
baritone, which Mr. Leek supported in a firm bass: 



(( 



We own the depths of sin and shame. 
Of guilt and crime from which we came; 
Thy hand upheld us from despair, 
Else we had sunk in darkness there. 



156 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"Thou know'st the depths from whence we sprung; 
Inspire each heart, unloose each tongue, 
That all our powers may join to bless 
The Lord, our strength and righteousness. 



»» 



When they had said good night, I felt as sinful as 
Mary Magdalene; and Nohea, though the words were 
Greek to him, sensed their meaning, and before taking 
to his mat knelt and groaned deeply. 



CHAPTER IX 

The fish in the lagoon and sea — Giant clams and fish that poison — 
Hunting the devil-fish — Catching bonito — Snarling turtles — Trepang 
and sea cucumbers — The mammoth manta. 

THE schooner Marara unloaded her cargo of 
supphes after several days of riding on and 
off the lee of the island, and went on her 
voyage to other atolls. McHenry and Kopcke joined 
interests for the nonce, and tried to draw me into the 
net they said they were spreading for the natives. I 
was convinced that I was as edible fish for them as the 
Paumotuans, and, besides, I was determined to avail 
myself of the leisure of the wise Nohea before the rahui, 
to learn all about the fish in the lagoon and sea. An 
ignorant amateur of the life of the ocean, I was de- 
voured with curiosity to peer into it under his guidance, 
and I was resolute to spend my days in such sport 
instead of in sleep after roistering of nights with the 
traders. 

"Nohea," I said, "will you show me what the Creator 
has put in the water? In my country I know the fish, 
but not here. Soon you will go to the rahui, but we 
have a few weeks yet, and you are skilled in these 
matters." 

The diver replied, "E, I will show you" ; and he kept 
his word, with a prideful exactitude. Days and nights 
I returned dog-weary, from the sea and the lagoon, but 
never once threw myself on my mat and counted my 

157 



158 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

pains for naught, as scores of times I had on the brooks, 
bays, and oceans of America. With our variety of 
edibles in islands and continents where there are real 
soil and domestic animals of many kinds, we can hardly 
appreciate the desperate necessity of the Paumotuans 
to comb the waters of their bare atolls for food. 

The pig, the only domestic mammifer before the 
whites came a century ago, ate only cocoanuts, and, 
like fowls, was generally small and thin, as well as too 
expensive for other meals than feasts. Few were the 
birds in these white islands. In many only the sand- 
piper, the frigate, the curlew, and the tern were found, 
but in uninhabited atolls others abounded. I saw many 
pigeons, black with rusty spots which lived in the tohonu 
tree and ate its seeds and also those of the nono. Green 
pigeons or doves, called oo, were sometimes seen. 
None of these constituted any part of the diet. 

Except for cocoanuts, the atoll yielded few growths 
of value. The most characteristic was a small tree 
or bush with white flowers, the mihimiki, the wood of 
which was very dense. It grew even in the most solid 
coral blocks, and was formerly much used for the 
great shark -hooks, for harpoons, and handles for their 
shovels of shells. The huhu, another little tree, with 
yellow blossoms and the general appearance of the 
mikimiki, was useless for timber, but the kahia, with 
deliciously-perfumed flowers, made an excellent fuel. 
The geogeo furnished boat-knees, the tou was fit for 
canoes, and the pandanus, the screw-pine, filled al- 
most as many needs as the cocoanut-palm. Its fruit 
was eaten by poor islanders, its wood and leaves formed 
their houses, its leaves also made mats and hats and 



X 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 159 

the sails of the pahi, the sailing canoes, and, as through- 
out Polynesia, the wrappers of cigarettes. All the 
clothing was formerly made of this prince of trees 
for native wants. The tamanu was scarce, and purmi; 
but there were some herbaceous plants, the cassytha 
filiformis, which climbed on the huhu and the miJd- 
miki; a little lei^tui'us repeiis; a heliotrope; a crucifer- 
ous plant, and a purslane that afforded a poor salad, 
and was also boiled. I also saw the nono, not here 
the arrow of Cupid as in Tahiti, but a sour fruit, eaten 
only when hunger compelled. 

In Takaroa, particularly favored by absence of cy- 
clones, by safety of harbor, breadth and depth of pass 
into the lagoon, and plentitude of cocoa-pahns and 
pearl-shell, herculean efforts had been made by bring- 
ing whole schooner cargoes of soil to grow some of the 
food plants and trees of Tahiti, but all such growths 
were a trivial item in the daily demand for sustenance. 

When Polynesians in their legends spoke of a rich 
island, they described it as abounding in fish, as the 
Jews, pastoral tribes, sang of milk and honey, the red 
Indian of happy hunting-grounds, and Christians of 
streets of gold, and harps and hymns. 

Shell-fish, mollusks and crustaceans, played as im- 
portant a part in their aliment as ordinary fish, and 
ia or ika meant both. In some islands the people were 
forced to subsist largely on tacloho, the furbelowed 
clam or giant tridacna called pahua here and benitier 
in Europe, where the shells were used for holy water 
fonts. The flesh of the pahua was sold in the Papeete 
market but was not a delicacy. The clam itself weighed 
up to fifty pounds or more, and the pair of shells 



100 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

from a dozen to eight hundred pounds according to 
the age of the living clams. The shells were so hard 
that they furnished the blades of the shovels with which 
the native had anciently dug wells to hold the brack- 
ish water. 

"The pahua is also a devil," said Nohea. "In the 
lagoon he lies with his shells open to catch his prey. 
Many a shark has torn off his tail in trying to get free 
when the pahua has closed on him, or has died in the 
trap. When a young man, I put my hand into a 
shell not bigger than your face, and it shut upon it. 
I was feeling for pearl-shell under fifty feet of water. 
I could not reach the threads that anchor the clam to 
the rock because it was in a crevice. If I could have 
cut them I could have freed myself, but I was able 
after a minute to force my knife beside my hand and 
stab the pahua so that it let me go. Paumotuans have 
often lost their lives in the pahua s shells, and one cut 
off his fingers and left them to the fish. I always 
drive my knife into him, and then cut the cord that 
ties him to the rock. They are hard to lift, — the big 
pahua, — and often we must leave them. Sometimes 
they have pearls in them that are very fine — not like 
oyster-pearls, but just like the white inside of the clam- 
shell itself, which is like the marble of the tombstone 
of Mapuhi's wife." 

Nohea rubbed me every day with the oil from the 
robber-crab's tail, and my wounds healed quickly, al- 
though the scars remained. He said that Paumotuans 
died of coral poisoning, but usually recovered, unless 
their blood was tainted by tona, the syphilis brought 
originally by the white, and which the Paumotuan cured 




Photo by Dr. Theodore P. Cleveland 

A canoe on the lagoon 




Photo by Dr. Theodore P. Cleveland 

Ready for the fishing 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 161 

with native remedies. He pointed to a species of corals 
which stung one if touched. The stony branches or 
plates when fresh from the water had a harsh feeling 
and a bad smell, but were not slimy. They pricked 
me when pressed against my arm, and the sting lasted 
from a few minutes to half an hour, with different speci- 
mens. The sensation was as painful as from nettles 
or the Physalia, the Portuguese man-of-war. One 
coral, sulphurous or dark in color, Nohea warned me 
not to touch, saying it would cause my hand and arm 
to swell for days. There was a jellyfish, he said, the 
keakea, that in certain months, January, February, and 
March, almost filled the lagoon, and they stung so 
fiercely, especially about the eyes, that diving ceased as 
soon as they appeared. 

There were fish, too, that were deadly to eat, some 
at one time and some at another, as fish venomous in 
one lagoon were innocuous in another. Some isles were 
blessed by having no poisonous fish, as Hao, Amanu, 
Negonego, Marokau, Hikueru, Vahitahi, Fakahina, and 
Pukapuka. Marutea of the north, Raraka, Kauehi, 
Katiu, Makemo, Takume, Moruroa, and Marutea of 
the south, were cursed by the opposite condition. In 
Rangira only the haainea of the pass was hurtful. 
The meko was the most feared fish at Marutea of the 
south, occasioning a terrible dysentery with cramps, 
which ended in vertigo and extreme weakness. Mul- 
lets, also, were often harmful in certain lagoons, and 
the muraena killed. 

What made these fish poisonous? Science guessed 
that the larvee of the coral animals were the cause. 
These fish ate the coral, and it was noticed that in De- 



162 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

cember, January, and February, at the time the corals 
expelled then' larvae, — were in blossom, as the expres- 
sion went, — the toxicity of the fish was highest. Other 
fish were made poisonous by eating the sea-centipede, 
curious creatures which looked like yards of black 
string and wound themselves around the corals. They 
had thousands of minute legs. 

While all land-crabs were safe to eat, certain sea- 
crabs were injurious, one in particular, a stark white 
species, which was death to swallow, and which de- 
spairing Paumotuans had bolted as a suicide potion. 
Even certain starfish must be avoided, one, a lovely 
cone-shaped kind, being deadly, their barbs injecting 
a virulent poison which speedily dilated the arm and 
then the body hugely, and made the heart stop beat- 
ing. To the native such illnesses were awesome mys- 
teries, yet he had learned ages ago to distinguish the 
baneful fishes by the empire path of pain and death 
which all races have trod toward safety from the en- 
emies of mankind. His more open foes, whom he 
hunted for food, the native met fearlessly, and fought 
with adroitness. 

The devilfish, or octopus, frequented mostly the out- 
side of the reef and preyed on mollusks and crustaceans, 
being naturally timid and inoffensive, though capable 
of affrighting attack when molested. They commonly 
took up their abode in some cavern or crevice, and lay 
safely ensconced in the shadow, simulating the color 
of their surroundings so artfully that their victims 
hardly ever saw them until grasped by the suckers of 
the many long, muscular arms. 

"In Samoa," said Nohea, when we went to a certain 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 163 

spot to seek out the devilfish, "is the Fale o le Fee, the 
House of the Octopus. It is very large, with black 
basalt walls, and has a pillar in the center. It was 
built to guard against the tribe of giants who once 
traded with Samoa." 

The devilfish was, as I said, at most times sh}^ and 
harmless but, when roused, the most dangerous of an- 
tagonists. We met one at close quarters the third time 
we paddled to the caves or recesses in the coral rock. It 
was near sunset, and there were already black shadows 
about the ledge, which at low tide disclosed the niches 
wrought in it by the action of the water. In one of 
these I saw two fiery eyes with white rims as big as din- 
ner-plates, and Nohea said to beware, that they belonged 
to an enormous fe'e. Nahea had a mighty spear or grain 
with three points of solid iron, and a heavy, long shaft, on 
a rope attached to the prow of the canoe. Better still 
I carried a rifle with bullets that would kill a wild bull. 
Nohea steered the canoe up to the nook and thrust out 
a long, light stick toward the glittering eyes. The 
cuttlefish threw out one tentacle upon it. Nohea 
teased him as one might tease a cat, and another ten- 
tacle took hold. Again the stick was manipulated, 
and finally, after half an hour, ten arms were fastened 
tightly upon the rod. Nohea gently drew the rod to- 
ward him, and the fe'e emerged from his den, so that, 
though the light was growing dim, I was able for a 
minute to survey him in the fullest detail, as I sat 
with my rifle to my shoulder. 

His body, bigger than a barrel, was like a dirty gray 
bag, with one end three-cornered for use as a steering- 
fin, or rudder. His mouth was like an opening in a 



164 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

sack, with a thick, circular hp and a great parrot-like 
beak, which was ahnost hidden at the moment. His 
tentacles were in a circle around the mouth, and were 
large at the trunk and tapering to the ends. Two main 
arms with which he supported himself against the rock 
were twice as long as the others, and differently formed. 
The fiery eyes were serpent-like, and set back of the 
arms. 

"If he were not so strong I would jump on him 
now that I have his tentacles engaged, and would bite 
the back of his neck till he died," said Nohea, with 
anger. "I have slain many that way. But this one 
would destroy me in a moment. Once we hooked one 
by mistake when we were fishing for barracuda from 
a canoe. My companion hauled him to the side of the 
canoe, when the octopus threw his arms about him and 
pulled him into the sea. I sprang after him, and put my 
thumbs in the eyes of the beast. He moaned and cried, 
and covered us with his black fluid; but he let go, and 
fled, blinded." 

The octopus was regarding us with apparent calm. 
The rod he held was twenty-five feet in length, so that 
our canoe was more than twenty feet from his eyes. 
Nohea now agitated the rod, and the fee retained his 
grasp, but began to change from a slaty gray to red, 
with black mottlings. , 

"He is enraged," said Nohea, warningly. "Pre- 
pare to shoot if the tavero fails!" 

He stood up in the canoe, and, resting the bamboo 
rod on the gunwale, poised his spear. The devilfish 
felt the menace of his attitude, and his two longest 
tentacles began to writhe in the air, as he measured 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 165 

our distance. Then Nohea, with a step back, launched 
the grain, and with so true an aim that it penetrated 
the eye of the grisly creature and half unbalanced him. 
Instantly the air was filled with the cloud of sepia he 
ejected, — a confession of defeat, — and the terrible 
arms with their twisting, coiling tips were thrust at us 
in lightning movements. But Nohea had seized a 
paddle, and parted us by thirty feet. The fe'e was 
pulled into the water, but was not yet dead. He 
struggled as if drowning, the great arms rising and 
falling upon the surface, and a direful groaning issuing 
with the bubbles that covered the surface. I fired 
twice at his bulk seen clearly in the water, and after ten 
minutes it relaxed utterly. A musky, delicious odor 
filled the air. 

With immense difficulty we brought his abhorrent 
corpse partly upon the ledge to measure it, and to cut 
off some of the tentacles for broiling. Nohea said it 
weighed a thousand pounds, but that he had seen one 
that weighed two tons, and whose arms stretched sev- 
enty feet. The two longest limbs of our octopus were 
rounded from the body to within two feet of their tips, 
when they flattened out like blades. Along the edges 
were rows of suckers, each with a movable membrane 
across it. When these suckers fastened on an object, 
the membrane reacted and made a vacuum under each 
sucker. Nohea explained that wherever the suckers 
touched one's flesh it puckered and blistered, and two 
months would elapse before it healed. He showed me 
scars upon his own skin. Our octopus had two thou- 
sand and more suckers on its tentacles. 

"In Japan," I told Nohea, *T have seen the men at 



166 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

night sink in the sea earthenware jars, very tall and 
stout, and in the morning find them occupied each by 
a devilfish, who must have thought them suitable to 
its condition in life." 

We had other methods of catching the fe'e. One 
was to tie many pieces of shell on a large stick with 
the pointed ends up, and from our canoe to strike the 
water with this. The resulting noise or vibration at- 
tracted the octopi, who thought the bait alive, and, 
eager to examine, threw themselves upon it and were 
killed and hoisted aboard. Nohea would strike the 
canoe sometimes with his paddle in a rhythmical man- 
ner, and draw them to hear the concert, when he would 
spear them. 

At the rookeries of the hair seals on Puget Sound, 
bounty hunters lure these destroyers of salmon nets 
and traps, by the wailing of a fiddle string, the wheeze 
of an accordian, a hymn upon a mouth organ, or almost 
any musical note. The hair seal rises to the surface to 
listen to the entrancing notes, and is shot by the hunter 
from his boat. 

The smaller devilfish Nohea eviscerated and ate, 
or gave to his friends. I could not look at them as 
food. The sepia still contained in their sacs he dried 
for bait for small-mouthed fish, and we used also the 
bellies of hermit-crabs, the tentacles of squid, and the 
tails of various kinds of fish. For the larger, scaled 
fish, Nohea preferred hooks of mikimiki, which he carved 
from the bushes, or of turtle-shell or whalebone, though 
the stores had the modern ones of steel. For honito 
we used only the pearl-hook without barb, and, of 
course, unbaited. The advantage of the barbless hook 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 167 

— that is, lacking the backward-projecting point which 
makes extraction difficult — could, perhaps, be appre- 
ciated only by seeing our way of fishing. 

When we came into a school of bonito pursuing fly- 
ing-fish, I took the paddle, and Nohea, with a fifteen- 
foot purau rod, and a line as long, trailed the pa, the 
pearly hook, on the surface, so that it skipped and leaped 
as does the marara. When a honito took the lure, Nohea 
with a dexterous jerk raised the fish out of the water, 
and brought it full against his chest. He hugged it 
to him a second and, without touching the hook, threw 
it hard into the bottom of the canoe where I could 
strike it sharply over the head with the edge of my 
paddle. The whole manoeuver was a continuous mo- 
tion on Nohea's part. The fish seized the hook, the 
rod shot up straight, the bonito came quickly to his 
bosom, he embraced it, and, with no barb to release, it 
slipped off the bone into his powerful grip, and was 
hurled upon the hard wood. Thus no time was lost, 
and the Itook was in the water in another instant. Once 
or twice* when I failed in my part the bonito raised itself 
on the end of its tail, and shot through the air to its 
element. That Nohea was not hurt by the fish when 
they were brought bang against his chest, can be ex- 
plained only by his dexterity, which doubtless avoided 
the full impact of the heavy blow. The bonito weighed 
from thirty to a hundred pounds. 

The turtle-shell for the hooks Nohea got from the 
turtles which he caught. They were a prime dish in 
the Paumotus, especially the great green turtle. The 
very word for turtle, lionu, meant also to be gorged, 
associating the reptile itself with feasting. The thought 



168 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

of turtle caused Nohea, a fairly abstemious man, to 
water at the mouth and to rub his stomach in concentric 
circles, as if aiding in its digestion. The honu was 
in the days of heathenry sacred to high livers, the 
priests and chiefs, and was eaten with pomp and cir- 
cumstance; to make sure of their husbanding, they 
were, in the careful way of the old Maoris, taboo to 
women and children under pain of death. An old can- 
nibal chief was called the Turtle Pond because he had 
a record of more than a hundi-ed humans eaten by him. 
Turtles were of two hundred species, and were found 
six feet long and weighing eight hundred pounds, but 
more ordinarily in the Paumotus from a hundred to 
four hundred. After a feast the pieces of turtle meat 
were put into cocoanut-shells, with the liquid fat poured 
over them, and sealed with a heated leaf, for a reserve, 
as we put up mince-meat. 

The best season for turtles was when the Matariki, 
the Pleiades, rose in the east, and the time of egg-lay- 
ing arrived. Then the turtles came from long journeys 
by sea, and looked for a place to deposit their eggs far 
from the haunts of humans. They came two by two, 
like proper married folk, and, leaving the husband on 
the barrier-reef, the wife, alone, dug a hole from one to 
two feet in depth in the coral sand, above the high-water 
mark, and in it scooped a deeper and smaller pipe, to 
lay five or six score eggs, white and rough, like en- 
larged golf -balls. The moon was usually full when this 
most important deed of the turtle's career was done with 
intense secrecy. The sand was painstakingly replaced 
and smoothed, and the wife swam back to the reef and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 169 

at high tide touched flippers again with her patient 
spouse. The operation occupied less than an hour. 

McHenry, whom I met every day when I walked to 
the village, said that it was the Southern Cross and not 
the Pleiades that governed the dropping of the eggs, 
and that the honu did not approach the beach until the 
four stars forming the cross had reached a position ex- 
actly perpendicular to the horizon. 

"Those turtles are better astronomers than Lyin' 
Bill," said McHenry. "They savvy the Southern 
Cross like Bill does a Doc Funk." 

The turtle returned to her eggs on the ninth night, 
but if she saw evidences of enemies about, she left im- 
mediately, and waited another novendial period and, if 
again scared, came back on the twenty-seventh evening. 
But when that fatal night had passed she surrendered 
to the inevitable. Nohea knew the habits of the honu 
as well as she did herself. He knew the broad tracks 
she made, which she tried in vain to obliterate, and 
he often removed the eggs to eat raw, or freshly cooked. 
Nohea could swim to the beach where the mother turtle 
was, and land so quietly that she would not have notice 
of his coming, and so could not escape to the lagoon or 
the moat; or he could swim noiselessly to the reef, and 
forelay the uxorious male napping until the arrival of 
his consort from her oviposition. To rush upon either 
male or female and turn it over on its back was the act 
of a moment, if strength permitted, but Paumotuans 
seldom hunted alone for turtles, the fencing them from 
the water being better achieved by two or more. Even 
when we saw one at sea, Nohea would spring from the 



170 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

canoe and fasten a hook about the neck and front flipper 
which rendered the honu as helpless as if a human were 
bound neck and leg. Once fast, the turtle was turned, 
and then pulled to the beach. Nohea could attach such 
a device to a turtle, and without a canoe swim with him 
to the beach or to a schooner. The turtle was put 
under a roof of cocoanut-leaves, until desire for his meat 
brought death to him. 

Nohea often picked up rori to make soup. They 
were to me the most repulsive offering of the South 
Seas, long, round, thin echinoderms, shaped like cu- 
cumbers or giant slugs, and appalling in their hideous- 
ness. The Malays called them trepang, the Portuguese 
bicho-do-mar, or sea-slug, and the scientists holothurian. 
Slimy, disgusting, crawling beings, they were Hke sau- 
sage-skins or starved snakes six inches or six feet long, 
and stretchable to douWe that length. One end had 
a set of waving tentacles by which they drew in the 
sand and coral animalculse. They crept along the bot- 
tom or swam slowly. 

There was a small trade in these dried trepang, or 
beche de mer, which were shipped to Tahiti and thence 
to San Francisco, for transshipment to China, for pur- 
chase by Chinese gourmets. The Chinese usually put 
them in their gelatinous soups. I had eaten them at 
feasts in Canton and Chifu. They were considered a 
powerful aphrodisiac, as swallows'-nests and ginseng. 

No race so eagerly sought such love philters as the 
Chinese. They had a belief that certain parts and or- 
gans of animals strengthened the similar parts or organs 
in humans. Our own medical men often verged on the 
same theory, making elixirs, as the Chinese had for 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 171 

countless centuries. At a Chinese feast where the heart 
of a tiger was the jjiece de resistance, I had been assured 
that a shce of it would make me brave. There may 
have been something in it, for after eating I felt I was 
brave to have done so. 

The fishing for rori was sometimes on a considerable 
scale. McHenry had often taken a score of Paumotuan 
men and women on his schooner to one of the unpopu- 
lated atolls. They built huts ashore for themselves, 
and others for curing the trepang. They searched for 
them with long grains or forks, going in calm weather 
to the outer edge of the reef where they found the red 
rori, which ranked second in the grading by the Chinese, 
but the black they had to dive for in the lagoon to great 
depths. Some trepang had spicules, or prickles, on their 
skin, and some were smooth, while others had teats or 
ambulacral feet, in rows ; and these, known to the trade 
as teat-fish, and to the Chinese as Se-oh-sum, were 
bonnes houches to a Pekinese gourmand. Next in or- 
der were the red, the black, and the lolly. These latter 
we found in great quantities on the reef at low tide in 
shallow places. They exuded, when stepped on, a hor- 
rid red liquid, like blood, from all the surface of their 
body. 

Against mankind these rori had no defense when 
stabbed with the fork or grain, but to touch one of the 
elongated Blutwursts with any part of one's body was 
to rue one's temerity. They were like skins filled with 
a poisonous fluid, and this they ejected with force, so 
that if contacted with a scratch or sore, or one's eye, it 
set up immediate inflammation, and caused hours of 
agony. Many Paumotuans had thus suffered serious 



172 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

injury to their eyes. The leopard trepang, olive-green 
with orange spots, disgorged sticky threads when mo- 
lested, and these clung fast to the human skin and 
raised painful blisters. Nature had armed them for 
protection. The native never gathered the rori in bas- 
kets or sacks, but made a box to drag about on land 
or float on the water, into which he put them. 

The pawky Paumotuan gave no thought to the aph- 
rodisiacal qualities of the rori, as did the Chinese. The 
filling of his belly or his purse was his sole idea. The 
trepang must be cooked as quickly as possible after re- 
moval from the water because it quickly dissolved, like 
a salted slug, into a jellied mass. If the native had no 
caldron in which to boil the rori, he threw them on red- 
hot stones, covered them with leaves, and left them to 
steam. In an hour they were shriveled and rid of their 
poisonous power. They were slit with a sharp knife 
and boiled for several hours in salt water until the outer 
skin was removed. Taken from the pot, they were 
placed on screens made of the spinal columns of the co- 
coanut-palm leaves, and underneath the screens was built 
a fire of cocoanut-husks. When thoroughly dried and 
smoked, the trepang was put in sacks, with great pre- 
caution against dampness. If not shipped at once they 
were from time to time dried in the sun, because the 
presence of any moisture prejudiced them to the palates 
of the Chinese epicures. In China they sold for a high 
price, having the place in their cuisine that rare caviar 
might have in ours. 

Nohea and I essayed every kind of fishing afforded 
by the atoll. We often went out at midnight, accord- 
ing to the moon, and speared swordfish by the light of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 173 

torches, and I also caught these warriors of the sea 
on hook and hne. We hooked sharks and many 
sorts of fish, and had many strange and stirring 
adventures. 

For rousing hatred and fear, neither the devilfish, 
with his frightful tentacles and demoniacal body and 
eyes, nor the swordfish, which could hurl his hundred or 
thousand pounds against the body or craft of the fisher- 
men, were peers of the mania hirostris, the gigantic ray, 
called the "winged devil of the deep passes," which was 
seen only in the depths between the atolls, and which 
was never fished for because worthless to commerce or 
as food. 

Nohea, Kopcke, and I were out one day in a cutter. 
This was a sailing craft of about ten tons, which was 
used to pick up copra at points away from villages and 
to bring it to the village or to the waiting schooner. It 
was about noon. We had hooked a dozen honito, and 
were having luncheon when a sailor shouted to us to 
look at a sight near-by. We saw a number of the larg- 
est manias any of us had ever seen. A dozen of these 
mammoth rays were swimming round and round, in 
circles not more than a hundred feet in diameter. They 
were about twenty-five feet across, and twenty feet from 
head to tip of tail, and each one raised a tip of an outer 
fin two feet or so above the water. The fin toward the 
center of the circle was correspondingly depressed, and 
they appeared like a flock of incredible bats. Every 
few minutes one threw itself into the air and turned 
completely over, displaying a dazzlingly white belly. 
Their long, whip-like tails were armed with dagger 
spines, double-edged with saw-teeth. Their mouths were 



174 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

large enough to swallow a man, and their teeth, as 
they gleamed, flat as jagged stones. 

Nohea said they used these fins to wave their prey, 
fish and crustaceans, into their maws. He expressed 
intense terror of them and urged Kopcke to steer away 
from them. 

The manta had lifted the anchor of a vessel in harbor 
by pushing against the chain, and had towed the vessel 
a considerable distance. When harpooned, he had 
dragged as many as fourteen catamarans or boats with- 
out apparent weariness. Well might the Paumotuan 
in his frail fishing-canoe dread the sea-devil! He had 
known him rise beneath his pirogue, and with a blow 
of his fearful fins shatter fisherman and craft. Not 
vicious in pursuit of man as the shark, or lithe and able 
to impale his victims as the swordfish, yet more terrible 
when aroused by the impotent Paumotuan, the "winged 
devil of the deep passes" stood for all that was peril- 
ous and awesome among the beasts of the ocean. When 
harpooned from a schooner large enough not to be in 
danger from the manias strength, the Paumotuan or 
Tahitian sa-ilor loved to vent his hate upon the giant 
ray, and he had names for him then that he would not 
dare to call him from a smaller boat. 



CHAPTER X 

Traders and divers assembling for the diving — A story told by Llewellyn 
at night — The mystery of Easter Island — Strangest spot in the world 
— Curious statues and houses — Borrowed wives — Arrival of English 
girl — Tragedy of the Meke Meke festival. 

THE scene at Takaroa was now remindful in a di- 
minutive way of the bustle and turmoil before the 
opening of a camp-meeting in the United States. 
The traders and pearl-buyers of Tahiti began to assem- 
ble, and divers and their families of other islands to ar- 
rive. Soon the huddle had the mild disorder and excite- 
ment of an old-fashioned southern revival. Chinese, the 
cunning Cantonese, two generations in Tahiti, set up 
stands for selling sweetmeats and titbits, and the mer- 
chants spread out samples of their goods in competition 
with Mapuhi's and Hiram Mervin's stores. The whites 
developed artful schemes for circumventing one another 
in securing the best divers. These, until contracts were 
signed, were importuned and made much of as desirable 
members are solicited by college clubs. The narrow 
strand of the atoll crowded up with new-comers who 
every few days alighted from schooner, cutter, and 
canoe. All day the moat and sea were alive with boats 
unloading the belongings and merchandise of the visi- 
tors. The housing problem was settled by each fam- 
ily's or group's erecting for itself flimsy abodes of 
the scant building material growing on the isle, pieced 
out with boards or bits of flattened tin cans or canvas, 

I7S 



176 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

while others contented themselves with lean-tos or leafy 
kennels. All was good nature, anticipation of profits, 
and hope of miraculous drafts from the lagoon. 

In the evenings on the verandas or about the 
bivouacs, there was an incessant chatter. The bar- 
gaining, the reuniting of former friends or acquaint- 
ances, the efforts of deacons and missionaries, the sly ac- 
tions of the traders, the commencements of courtships, 
and love-making of the free-and-easy foreigners filled 
the balmy night air with laughter, whisperings, and 
conversation. A hundred stories were told — jokes, ad- 
ventures, slanders, and curious happenings. Religion, 
business, mirth, and obscenity vied for interest. 

Llewellyn, the Welsh Tahitian vanilla-planter, with 
Lying Bill, McHenry, Kopcke, Aaron Mandel, and 
others, formed a nightly circle. Sitting on boxes or 
reclining on mats under the cocoanut-trees, with a lan- 
tern or two above them and pipes aglow, these pilgrims 
of the deep recited moving tales of phenomena and 
accident, of wanderings and hardships, and small vil- 
lainies. 

"Sailors are damn fools," said Captain Nimau, whom 
I had met in Lacour's shed on Anaa. "There was a 
ship's boat passed here some time ago. It was from 
the wrecked American schooner El Dorado, and the 
three men in it with eight others of the crew had spent 
months on a lonely island and were beating up for 
Tahiti. They did not reach Papeete for days after I 
sighted them from Lacour's, yet they would n't spare 
the time to touch at Anaa where they might have gotten 
plenty of food and water, and rested a day or two. I 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 177 

wondered who they were until O'Brien here told me. I 
saw them only through my glass." 

''The skipper of the El Dorado who was in the boat 
wouldn't let it stop," said McHenry. "He was 
hurryin' to Tahiti to find a steamer for America to 
report to his owners an' to get a new billet. I saw him 
in Papeete, hustlin' his bleedin' boat and dunnage on 
the steamer for 'Frisco after three weeks' wait. The 
sailors were n't in no rush for they know 'd they be 
cheated outa their rights, anyway. The squarehead 
capt'in had the goods on the owners of the El Dorado 
because they could n't collect insurance for her with- 
out his say. He scooted away from Easter Island in 
that small boat after four months there, leavin' all but 
those two bloody fools who came with him." 

"He mentioned to me that he was buying a house on 
the instalment plan, and would lose everything if he 
did n't get back to make his payment," I said. "So 
he ventured 3,600 miles in a small boat to save his 
home." 

"Any one would have enough of that lonely island 
in four months," said Llewellyn, reminiscently. His 
deep, melancholy voice came from the shadows where 
he sat on a mat. "I lived years there. It is a place 
to go mad in. It is n't so much that it is the last bit 
of land between here and South America, and is bare 
and dry, without trees or streams, and filled with beetles 
that gnaw you in your sleep, but there 's something 
terrible about it. It has an air of mystery, of murder. 
I have never gotten over my life there. I wish I had 
never seen it, but I still dream about it." 



178 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Llewellyn was a university man. He had drunk 
as deeply of the lore of books and charts as he had of 
the products of the stills of Scotland and the wine- 
presses of France. In his library in Tahiti, his birth- 
place, were many rare brochures, manuscripts, and 
private maps of untracked parts of the Pacific, and 
keys to Polynesian mazes impenetrable by the unin- 
structed. Seventy years before, his father had come 
here, and Llewellyn as child and man had foamed wide 
in his vessels in search of secret places that might yield 
gold or power. He had worn bare the emotions of his 
heart, and frayed his nerves in the hunt for pleasure 
and excitement. Now in his fifties he felt himself 
cheated by fate of what he might have been intellec- 
tually. 

"I suppose I 'm the only man here who has ever been 
on Rapa Nui," he went on. "It 's like Pitcairn, far 
off steam and sailing routes, and with no cargoes to 
sell or buy. Only a ship a year from Chile now, they 
say, or a boat from a shipwreck like the El Dorado's. 
But the scientific men will always go there. They 
think Easter, or Rapa Nui, as the natives call it now, 
has the solution of the riddle of the Pacific, of the lost 
continent. You know it had the only written lan- 
guage in the South Seas, a language the Easter Island- 
ers, the first whites found there, knew apparently little 
of." 

McHenry interrupted Llewellyn, to set in move- 
ment about the group a bottle of rum and a cocoanut- 
shell, first himself quaffing a gill of the scorching mo- 
lasses liquor. Llewellyn downed his portion hastily, 
as if putting aside such an appetite while engaged on 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 179 

an abstruse subject. He knew that rum made all equal ; 
and he was an aristocrat, and now beyond the others in 
thought. 

''Allez!" said Captain Nimau. "I am curious. Dites! 
What did you find out?" 

Llewellyn's eyes smoldering in somber-thatched cells 
lit a moment as he returned to his enigmatic theme. 

"I was a young man not long from a German uni- 
versity and travel in Europe when I was sent to Easter 
Island," he said, with dignity. "A commercial firm in 
Tahiti, a Frenchman and a Scotchman, had control of 
the island, which was not under the flag of any country, 
and was employed by them to look after their interests. 
The firm had a schooner that sailed there now and then, 
and with me went a young American. He was a grad- 
uate of some Yankee college, and had di'ifted into the 
South Seas a few months before. For some reason we 
did not know about, he was eager to go to Easter Island. 
He could speak none of the lingos hereabouts, and the 
firm at first refused him, but on his insistence, and will- 
ingness to agree to stay two years and to work for a 
trifle, they sent him with me. 

"He was about twenty-four, handsome and gay, but a 
student. I liked him from the start. Ralph Waldo 
Willis was his name, and I was glad that I had such a 
companion for there was nobody else but natives to 
talk to, except Timi Linder, a half-Tahitian who was 
older than us and who was our boss. Our cockroach 
schooner was a month in getting there. It 's more than 
a thousand miles as the tropic bird goes, but for us it 
was sailing the wrong way many days, making half- 
circles or beating dead against the wind. We were 



180 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

about ready to turn round and sail back when we caught 
a breeze and made sight of land. I hated it at first 
view. It was nothing like our South Sea islands, with 
black, frowning cliffs worn into a thousand caves and 
recesses. The ocean broke angrily against the stern 
basalt, or entered these huge pits and sprang out of 
them in welling masses of foam and spray. An iron- 
bound coast that defied the heart, or any sentiment but 
wonder and fear. Boulders as big as ships were half 
attached to the precipices or lay near-by to attest the 
continuous devouring of the land by the sea. Coming 
from Tahiti, with its beautiful reefs and beaches, and 
the clouds like wreaths of reva-reva, with cocoanut- 
palms and breadfruit-trees and bananas covering all 
the land, this Easter Island seemed terribly bare and 
forbidding. There was n't a flower on it." 

Llewellyn halted and lit his pipe. In the glow of 
the match his eyes had the inversion of the relator who 
is remote from his audience. 

McHenry, who had been quiet a few minutes, must 
call attention to himself. 

"Is there any fightin' or women in this yarn?'* he 
burst out, with a guffaw. 

Llewellyn came back to the present in a dark fume. 

"I '11 chuck it," he said irritably. "You want only 
stories that stink!" 

Nimau, the Frenchman, took McHenry's arm. 

'Worn d' une pipeT he rapped out. "Take that bot- 
tle, McHenry, and throw it and yourself into the lagoon. 
Monsieur Llewellyn, please go on! The night is just 
begun. That lie de P deques is a very curious place." 

McHenry, offended, jumped up. "Go to hell, all 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 181 

of you!" he blurted. "I '11 go and stir up the Mor- 
mons. If they smell my breath, it '11 make 'em jeal- 
ous." 

Llewellyn took up his narration. 

"It 's a cursed place," he assented. "There 's been 
nothing but death since the white man found out there 
was anything to steal there. They were the healthiest 
people in the world, but we whites knew how to destroy 
them. Our schooner came into the roadstead of Hanga 
Roa at daybreak. I could see the huge, dead volcano, 
Rana Roraku, from the masthead. Other extinct vol- 
canos were all over the rolling land. Te Pito te Henua, 
the old islanders called it; the Navel and the Womb. 
That monster crater, Rano Raraku, must have given 
it the latter name, for out of it came all those wonder- 
ful images of stone. The Navel was one of many 
rounded, shallower craters all about. When we landed 
at sunrise and the slanting rays shone on them they were 
for all the world like the navels of giants. I fancied 
each of them belonging to a colossus who had turned 
to stone. At first, the island was just a gray bulk, the 
surface in several sweeping curves dotted with mole- 
hills. As we climbed upon the cliffs and the details of 
the land grew in the sunlight, the impression was of 
a totally different part of the globe, of a cut-off place 
where scenes and people were of an ancient sort, of a 
mystery that stunned as thoughts crowded in on one. 
That impression never left me. I can feel it now after 
these years. The American, Willis, was fair overcome. 
He turned pale and put his hand to his stomach as if 
sick. 

" 'What 's the matter?' I asked, though I really knew. 



182 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

" 'I feel like when I was a little boy and saw the wax- 
works in New York,' he said. 'All the spirits of the 
dead and great seem to be around. But I 've waited 
years to come here.' 

"As we walked from point to point that first day, 
the spectacle was incredible, absolutely bewildering. 
The whole island was a charnel-house and a relic shrine. 
It seemed to have been furnished by a race whose mind 
was fixed on death instead of life, and who worked for 
remembrance instead of happiness. Oblivion was their 
most desperate fear, or, at least, they must have thought 
that the preservation of their bones and the building of 
images of the dead were the chief duties of the living. 
At intervals all around the coast were immense plat- 
forms or High Places of slabs of stone, gigantic stages 
for tremendous statues. These bases were called ahu, 
and were some three or four hundred feet long, and on 
them at regular intervals had been mammoth sculptures. 
Scores of these lay half buried in the scrub, and some 
were covered over entirely by the growth of the grass. 
Some were fifty or even seventy feet high and others 
three or four feet, as if the makers sized them by the 
power or fame of the dead men they represented. They 
were like gray ghosts of the departed. 

"I can't quite tell you the sensation we had at our 
first stroll about. Our house was at the base of the 
volcano, and Timi Linder, who came off to the schooner 
in a boat to meet us, took us to it. He was a cousin 
of mine — some of you remember him — and a fine fel- 
low. He did n't make anything of all those images or 
the tombs. Sheep were his gods, and we had twenty 
thousand of them to take care of, besides hundreds of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 183 

horses and cattle. Our house, Willis's and mine, was 
at Mataveri, at the base of the crater Rana Kao, and 
Timi's was five miles away at Vaihu. It used to be a 
Catholic mission. We were soon settled down to a reg- 
ular routine. 

"We were on horseback all day. Some of the going 
was so bad it meant hours of barely walking the horses. 
The lower part of the island was all broken sheets of 
lava, grown over or about with tough grass, and it was 
worth your neck to travel fast in it. On the slopes of 
the hills it was smoother, the ash from the volcanos 
having been leveled more in the thousands of years 
since the last eruption. Another horrible thing about 
living there was that we had to get all our water like 
in these Paumotus by catching rain on our iron roof 
into tanks. God! How I used to long for a drink out 
of a Tahiti brook ! When we were out in the scrub and 
noon came it was salvation to find a piece of shade. It 
was not so terribly hot, because Easter is out of the 
tropics, and, as I say, the climate is perfectly health- 
ful, but the sun came down like lightning on that lava 
and the hard grass, and the glare and the heat combined, 
with the fatigue of the riding, would lay us out. The 
nights were cool, with heavy dews which supplied the 
sheep with enough moisture. 

"Timi left us much to ourselves and said that he 
wanted us to go about without any duties and to learn 
the lay of the land. So we did that. The island was 
about thirty-four miles around, but it took us many 
weeks to make the circuit, because we followed the in- 
dentations of most of the inlets or bays, determined to 
see everything of the marvels before we got down to 



184 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

work. Those were the days we suffered from thirst. 
Except for the lakes in the craters which I '11 tell you 
about, the so-called puna or springs were far apart, and 
then only shoal excavations among the boulders into 
which surface water ran and had been protected by 
rocky roofs from the sun and animals. Just a few buck- 
etsful in each at a time, and rank it was. The queer 
thing was the natives drank but little water. They 
would be surprised every day at our thirst. 

"We ascended the crater Rana Kao near our home. 
It was a quarter of a mile high, and nearly a mile across, 
a perfect, unbroken circle at its edge except where the 
lava had cut through and run down to the sea. The 
inside was magnificent, like a vast colosseum, and, at 
the bottom, a lake unlike any I had ever seen. Six 
hundred feet below the rim it was, and more than three 
hundred feet deep by our soundings, and the sides of 
the volcano were like a regular cone. We saw many 
cattle feeding or drinking in the midst of lush vegeta- 
tion, and on getting close to the lake itself we found 
that they were standing or walking on a floating garden. 
So dense and profound was this matting or raft of 
green and brown, in which were bushes and even small 
trees, that the cattle moved on it without fear. Yet 
in places we saw the water rippled by the wind, and 
at times the cows or bulls drew back from their paths 
as if they sensed danger. The water was foul with 
vegetable and animal matter, but probably once this 
lake had been cared for, and its waters had quenched 
the thirst of many thousands of people." 

"Ah!" said I, "Llewellyn, I v/as going to ask you. 
So far you have been on an uninhabited island. What 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 185 

about the people you found there. I am more inter- 
ested in them even than in the wonderful images and 
tombs." 

" 'E won't say too bloody much about them," said 
Lying Bill, caustically. " 'Is family killed off most of 
'em." 

Again it seemed that we would hear Llewellyn to no 
conclusion. He got on his feet, and shook out his pipe. 

"A gentleman has no place in the Paumotus," he 
said, bitterly. "Mr. O'Brien, you must not judge 
South Sea traders by McHenry or Pincher." 

"Judge and be bloomin' well damned!" interrupted 
Lying Bill. "I '11 go an' see where McHenry is. 
Maybe the bottle '11 'ave a drink in it, an' you can stay 
an' spin your yarn your own way. I know the bleedin' 
truth." 

Captain Pincher retreated, muttering, in the darkness 
toward the sound of the surf on the reef. The gentle 
breeze agitated the cocoanuts above our heads, and 
Kopcke, a child in mentality though a man, begged 
Llewellyn to keep on. 

"Pay no attention, please, to those bums!" said 
Kopcke in his politest French. "Now, me, I want to 
learn everything." 

Nimau and I apologized for humanity, and insisted 
that the scholar proceed. Mollified, and with his pipe 
refilled, the quarter-caste graduate of Leipsic resumed 
his account. 

"I was going to tell about the people, and I '11 begin 
at the beginning," he said, thoughtfully. "A Dutch 
ship discovered Easter Island two hundred years ago, 
and shot some of the natives. Every succeeding dis- 



186 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

coverer did the same. Peruvian blackbirders killed hun- 
dreds and carried off five thousand of them to die in 
the guano deposits of the Chincha Islands and the mines 
of Peru. Almost every leading man, the king and every 
chief, was killed or captured. The prisoners nearly all 
died in slavery, and only Pakomeo came back. He 
lived near us, and-told me all about it. Timi Martin be- 
lieved there were twenty thousand people on the island 
near the time of the Peruvian raid. 

"From then on, with all the livest men gone, the 
people paid no attention to any authority. There had 
been a hereditary monarchy for ages, and while the 
clans might go to battle for any reason, no one ever 
touched the king or his family. But with Maurata, 
the king, kidnapped, and most of the head men, there 
was no boss. Then Frere Eugene, a Belgian priest 
of Chile, brought back three youths who had been taken 
by the Peruvians. One was Tepito, the heir of King 
Maurata, and the priest thought maybe he could use 
him to convert the islanders. He had a hard time, but 
he did it. You must say for those old missionaries that 
they stuck to their jobs though "hell popped. He had 
fifty narrow escapes from being assassinated by natives 
who thought him much like the Peruvians, and just 
when he was baptizing the last of the Rapa Nuiis, and 
complete peace had settled down, trouble began again. 
A Frenchman who was looking about for a fortune ar- 
rived there and took up his residence. He saw there 
was plenty of land not used for growing yams, the only 
crop, and so he went into partnership with a Scotchman 
in Tahiti to grow sheep, cattle, and horses. He gave a 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 187 

few yards of calico for a mile of land, and started his 
ranch with the Scotchman's animals. 

"The Frenchman took up with a common woman who 
had been the wife of a chief but who was not of the chief 
caste, and he had her made queen. Queen Korato was 
her name, and she was a caution — like a society woman 
and a Jezebel, mixed. She bossed everything but her 
husband. She started a row between him and Frere 
Eugene, who claimed authority through the church. 
There being no regular government, the priest said that, 
through God and the pope, he was the ruler. He was a 
strong man, and I must say from all accounts kind to 
the natives. They started to work and built again, but 
the feud between the church and the queen became 
fiercer and fiercer, and finally after personal combats be- 
tween leaders, and a few deaths, Frere Eugene gathered 
all his adherents and, securing a vessel through his 
bishop, transported them to the Gambier Islands. 

"Now the struggle commenced of getting the land 
away from the natives. Without any government, and 
the land of each district owned in community by each 
clan, the queen and the Frenchman had to get title by 
cunning and force. They did not succeed in that without 
blood. Booze and guns and meat did it. The remain- 
ing head men gave away the land for sheep to eat, for 
gin and rum to drink, and for guns to shoot those who 
objected to having their land taken. Of course, it was 
really a community, with no private property inside the 
clans, but the chiefs signed papers they could n't read, 
and the firm claimed everything soon. It was legal as 
things go, as legal as England taking New Zealand or 



188 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Australia, or France taking my Tahiti. The people di- 
vided into factions, headed by self-appointed chiefs, and 
went to fighting. Some were driven into craters, and 
some hid in caves. The crowd that had the upper hand 
chased the other groups. They all began to steal the 
sheep for food, and the Frenchman hired a band to stop 
the marauding and end the war. Then the real mas- 
sacres began. Natives were so pressed they took up 
cannibalism again, and without fire they ate their meat 
raw. Ure Vaeiko told me how he warmed a slice of a 
man's body in his armpit to make it better eating. 

"In the end a kind of peace was made by the terrible 
misery of all. But the Frenchman who had gotten the 
land did not live long to enjoy his bargain. They 
caught him unawares when he was on a ladder helping 
to repair the very house we lived in, and which he built. 
They struck him down with a club, and buried him 
near-by. Other whites all but lost their lives later when 
they tried to prevent the islanders from stealing sheep 
when hungry. They were besieged in our house, but 
finally were saved by the arrival of a vessel. Now, 
with their potato plantations destroyed, their houses 
burned, the natives were done for. They consented to 
sign contracts to work in the hot sugar-fields of Tahiti. 
Five hundred were removed there. I often saw them, 
poor devils. They were homesick to death, and they 
never were brought back as promised. They died in 
Tahiti, crying for their own land. 

"It was not long after that I went to Easter with the 
American, Willis. Queen Korato had followed the 
Frenchman into the grave, and the Scotchman had be- 
come the sole owner of the island. No one disputed 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 189 

him, and when Willis and I took up our residence in 
the former royal residence at Mataveri, Timi Linder 
was the virtual king. The entire population either lived 
on small plantations which they had to wall in to keep 
the cattle and sheep from eating their yams, or they 
worked for us looking after the cattle and horses, and 
shearing the sheep. The fighting was over, for the spirit 
of the wild islanders was extinct as was almost all the 
twenty thousand Linder said were there a few years be- 
fore. The two or three hundred left lived in the ruins of 
the ancient stone houses, cairns, and platforms, the 
tombs of the dead Rapa Nuiis for ages. The living piled 
up more stones or roofed in the walls with slabs and 
earth, and got along somehow. They had lost all rev- 
erence for the past, and often brought us the skulls of 
their ancestors to trade for a biscuit or two or a drink 
of rum. 

"Willis and I were young, and though both of us were 
intensely interested in the mystery of the island, and the 
unknown throngs who had built the gigantic sepulchers 
and carved the monoliths, we had many dull hours. 
When it rained or at night we thought of the outside 
world. The howling of the sheep-dogs, the moaning 
of the wind, and the frightful pests of insects made the 
evenings damnable. The fleas were by the millions, and 
the glistening brown cockroaches, two or three inches 
long, flew at our lights and into our food, while mosqui- 
toes and hordes of flies preyed on us. We often sat 
with nets on our heads and denim gloves on, and on our 
cots we stuffed our ears with paper to keep out snap- 
ping beetles. Willis was wrapped up in trying to read 
the wooden tablets Linder had collected, on which were 



190 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

rows and rows of picture symbols. First, he had to 
learn the Rapa Nui language. There 's one way to do 
that in these islands. We all know that, and it was 
easy there. They had always had a custom by which a 
husband leased his wife to another man for a considera- 
tion. Linder attended to that, and sent over to us two 
girls to teach us the lingo. They were beautiful and 
merry, being young, and looked after our household. 
Taaroa was assigned to Willis and Tokouo to me. We 
got along famously until one day, after a year or so, a 
schooner arrived to take away wool, and on it was a white 
girl and her father. That changed everything for us." 

In Llewellyn's air and low, mournful voice there was 
confession. In his words there had been anger at Cap- 
tain Pincher's accusation, but with Lying Bill and Mc- 
Henry, mockers at all decency, missing from the circle, 
we others became impressed, I might say, almost op- 
pressed, by impending humiliation. In an assemblage, 
a public meeting, or a pentecostal gathering, one with- 
stands the self reproach and contrition of others, or, per- 
haps, experiences keen pleasure in announced guilt and 
remorse, but among a few, it hurts. One's soul shrinks 
at its own secrets, and there is not the support and excite- 
ment of the throng. We moved uneasily, with a strug- 
gling urge to call it a night, but Llewellyn, absorbed in 
his progress toward unveilment, went on without notic- 
ing our disquiet. 

"My God ! What a change for Willis and me I The 
schooner was in the offing one morning when we got up. 
We calculated that the wind would not let her anchor 
at Hanga Piko, and started out on horses for Rana 
Raraku to photograph the largest image we had found 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 191 

on the island. You have been in Egypt, O'Brien?'' 
I nodded assent, and the lamp threw a spot of light 
on Llewellyn's gloomy face. 

"You remember the biggest obelisk in the world is 
still unfinished in the quarry at Syene. This one, too, 
was still in the rough. It lay in an excavation on the 
slope of the huge crater, not fully cut out of the rocky 
bank, but incredibly big. We measured it as quite 
seventy feet long. It was as all those images, a half- 
length figure, the long, delicate hands almost meeting 
about the body, the belly indrawn — pinched, and the 
face with no hkeness to the Rapa Nui face, or to any 
of the Polynesians, but harsh and archaic, perhaps show- 
ing an Inca or other austere race, and also the wretched- 
ness of their existence. Life must have been dour for 
them by their looks and by their working only for the 
dead. How they ever expected to move this mass we 
could not understand. They had no wood, even, to 
make rollers, as the Egyptians had, because their thickest 
tree was the toromiro, not three inches in diameter, but 
they had to depend on slipping the monstrous stones 
down slopes and dragging them up hills or on the level 
by ropes of native hemp and main strength. Hundreds 
or thousands of sculptors and pullers must have been re- 
quired for the 555 monoliths we found carved or almost 
finished. But they never were of the race the whites 
saw there. 

"Before we began the descent of Rana Rauraku we 
stopped a moment to survey the scene. The sun was 
setting over La Perouse Bay, and the side of the crater 
on which we were was deepening in shadow. As we 
went down the hill the many images reared themselves 



192 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

as black figures of terror and awe against the scarlet 
light. Willis was in a trance. He was a queer fellow, 
and there was something inexplicable in his attachment 
to those paradoxes of rock dolls. He thought he had 
discovered some clue to the race of men or religious cult 
which he believed once went almost all over the world 
and built monuments or stonehenges long before metal 
was known as a tool. We rode across the swelling plain 
past the quarry in the Teraai Hills where the hats for 
the images were carved of the red sandstone, and we 
stayed a minute to see again a monster twelve feet 
across and weighing many tons. It was a proper head- 
covering for the sculpture in the quarry. What had 
caused the work to stop all of a sudden? There were 
hundreds of tools, stone adzes and hammers, dropped 
at a moment, statues near finished or hardly begun, 
some half-way to the evident place of fixation, and others 
almost at them. What dreadful bell had sounded to 
halt it all? 

"Talking about all that, we came to where we could 
see the Hanga Piko landing, and our company schooner 
anchored a little offshore. The captain and some of the 
crew were engaged in bringing supplies ashore, and it 
was not until we rode into the ground of Queen Korato's 
palace, our home, that we saw there were white strangers 
arrived. Imagine the situation! When we called to 
Taaroa and Tokouo to get a man to care for the horses, 
out came a beautiful English girl in a white frock, and 
apologized for having entered the house in our absence. 
Her father joined her, and we soon knew him. Professor 
Scotten Dorey, for the greatest authority on Polynesian 
languages, myths, and migrations. There he was, by 




After the bath in the pool 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 193 

the favor of the Tahiti owners, come to stay indefinitely 
and to study the Rapa Nui language. His daughter 
was his scribe, she said, and saved his eyes as much as 
possible by copying his notes. We were up against it, 
as O'Brien would say. Our conveniences were scant, — 
the queen had not been much for linen or dishes, — and 
you know how we fellows live even in such nearer places 
like Takaroa. 

"Then there was the matter of Taaroa and Tokouo; 
borrowed wives, recognized as the custom was. Willis 
took one look at Miss Dorey, and went white as when 
he first saw the sweep of Easter Island. He was as 
sensitive as a child about certain things. There we had 
been all alone, I used to doing what I damn please, any- 
how, and he without any old havarde to chatter, or even 
to see. I won't say, too, that we had n't had some drink- 
ing bouts, nights when we had scared away even the 
cockroaches and the ear-boring beetles with our songs, 
and the love dances of Taaroa and Tokouo. For me, 
I 'm a gentleman, and I was a student under Nietzsche 
at Basel, but I hate being interfered with. I 've lived 
too long in the South Seas. But for the American, a 
young chap just out of college, it was like being seen 
in some rottenness by a member of his family. You fel- 
lows may laugh, but that 's the way he felt. He used to 
talk about a younger sister to me on our voyage up. 

"We assured the daughter and father we would care 
for them. There was room enough, four or five cham- 
bers in the place, and we could improvise beds for them, 
rough as they might be, but the daily living, the meals 
and the evenings, confronted us hatefully. I would 
mind nothing but the being so close to probably very 



194 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

particular people, the lack of freedom of undress, and 
the pretense about Tokouo, but Willis was in a funk. 
He wanted to go to live with Timi Linder, but I knew 
that he could not endure that. Linder was island-born 
and almost a native, insects were nothing to him, and 
he made no pretense of regular meals like a white. Be- 
sides he was boss, and wanted to live his own life. I told 
Willis plainly he had to make the best of it for a few 
months. He finally said he would break off his intimacy 
with Taaroa, and I said that that was his lookout. 

"So we took the Doreys into our menage. We gave 
them two rooms together, and WiUis and I doubled up. 
Taaroa and Tokouo had their mats in the fourth, and 
the fifth was the living- and dining-room. The cook- 
house was detached. We improvised a big table for 
the professor on which he could spread his dictionaries 
and comparative lists of South Seas languages, and 
there day after day he delved into the Te Pito te Henua 
mystery. Chief Ure Vaeiko and Pakomeo were inter- 
preters of the tablets and reciters of legends, but, as the 
professor had not yet mastered the Rapa Nui tongue, 
a go-between in English was needed. For a few days 
Timi Linder volunteered for this job, but soon it was 
the American who was called upon. He had made good 
use of his year or so and knew the dialect well. It is 
only a dialect of the Malayo-Polynesian language, and 
the professor himself in three months knew more of it 
than any of us because he spoke six or seven other 
branches of it from New Zealand Maori to Tahitian. 

"The schooner, after a month of unloading supplies 
and taking on wool and cattle, sailed for Tahiti, and 
Timi Linder went with her, as he had been three years 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 195 

away from his relations. This left me in charge, and 
as the principal settlement was at Vaihu, the former 
mission, I was ordered by Linder to move there, and 
Willis to stay at Hanga Piko. You can see easily how 
fate was shaping things for the American. I took 
Tokouo with me, and, the year's lease of Taaroa expir- 
ing, she was demanded back by her husband. An 
elderly Tahitian couple replaced them as helpers in the 
palace. As I was five miles away, with a poor road, 
and had to keep the accounts of births and deaths of 
people and animals, look after the warehouse, and be 
a kind of chief and doctor, I saw less and less of the 
Doreys, and not much more of Willis. He had to run 
his gang, attend to the cattle, the water-holes, and sheep 
that got in distress in the craters or caves. Of course, 
now and then he came over to see me, or I to see him 
and the Enghsh people, — I 'm Welsh myself, three- 
quarters, — and I met him often in the scrub. 

"Everything seemed going along all right after a few 
months. The Doreys came in the seventh month of 
the Rapa Nui year, Koro, which corresponds to our 
January, Timi Linder left in Tuaharo, Febiniary, and 
Taaroa returned to her husband the last of that month. 
The month is divided in half, beginning with the new 
moon and the full moon. On the first of the full moon 
in Vaitu-nui, May, we had a party to visit the ahu of 
Hananakou. The professor, his daughter, and Willis 
joined me at Vaihu as it was on the trail, and in com- 
pany with several islanders we started. It so happened 
that Taaroa was at my house to visit Tokouo, and when 
Willis rode into the inclosure she was the first person 
he saw. 



196 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

" 'Kdhomaif he said, which is the usual greeting. It 
is hke 'Good day' or 'How do you do,' but it actually 
means 'Come to me!' You answer, 'Koe!' which is 
'Thou!' A dozen times a day you might meet and say 
this, pleasantly or automatically, but I heard Taaroa 
reply with astonishing bitterness, 'Koe kovau aita pat- 
henga!' 'Thou! I am not a dog!' She turned her 
back on him as Miss Dorey followed in, and I saw on his 
face a look of puzzlement and fear. I was struck for 
the first time by the contrasting beauty of the two girls, 
Taaroa the finest type of Polynesian, as fine as the best 
Marquesan, and the white girl the real tea-tea, the blond 
English, the pink-white flesh, the violet eyes and rich 
brown hair. I tell you I 'd like to have been lover to 
them both. Taaroa looked intently at Miss Dorey, who 
spoke to her negligently though kindly, and the inci- 
dent was over. Anyhow, for the time being. 

"The ahu of Hananakou was a grim sight in the moon- 
light. About eighty yards long, and but four wide, 
it loomed on the sea-cliff like the fort at Gibraltar, black, 
broken, and remindful of the past. The front was of 
huge blocks of fire-rocks, all squared as neatly as the 
pyramids, and carved in curious faces and figures barely 
traceable in the brilliant night. Among these was the 
swastika or fylfot. Human remains filled the inner 
chambers, and bones were lying loose among the boul- 
ders. The professor took my arm — he was in his sixties 
then — and led me to where a fallen statue lay prone on 
the steep slope toward the sea. 

" 'Agassiz guessed it,' he said quietly. 'The Pacific 
continent once extended due west from South America 
to here, pretty nearly from the Galapagos to the Pau- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 197 

motus. The people who built these statues were the 
same as the Incas of Peru. In my room now is a draw- 
ing made by my daughter of the figures on the rocks at 
Orongo. I have its duplicate on a piece of pottery I 
dug up in an Inca grave. There is the swastika as in 
ancient Troy, India, and in Peru. The Maori legend 
known from Samoa to New Zealand was correct. Prob- 
ably it came from Rapa Nui people who survived the 
cataclysm that lowered the continent under the ocean. 

"Instinctively I turned my head towards the great 
land of South America now two thousand miles away, 
and in the moonbeams I saw Willis clasping the Enghsh 
girl's hand. Her face was close to his and her eyes had 
happy tears in them. A jealous feeling came over me. 
As a matter of fact, I never made love to a white 
woman since I left Europe. I 'm satisfied with the 
part-native who don't ask too much time or money. 
But, by God, I envied him that night, and when we 
returned to Queen Korato's palace I hated him for his 
luck. 

The mood of Llewellyn was growing more self-ac- 
cusatory, and his voice less audible. Perhaps Aaron 
Mandel, an old pearl-buyer, had heard him tell the story 
before, because he interrupted him, and said: 

"What the devil 's the good of openin' old graves, 
T'yonni?" 

He said it, indulgently, calling him by his familiar 
Tahitian name, but Llewellyn was set to tell it all. I 
felt again and more certainly that it was confession, and 
excused my impatient interest by the need of his mak- 
ing it. 

"Let him finish!" 



198 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Llewellyn's gaze was that of a man relieved from im- 
minent prison. 

"It 's not my grave, Mandel," he said; 'T could not 
foresee the future. When I got back to Vaihu, Tokouo 
brought me some rum and water, and Taaroa sat on the 
mat with us. She had questions in her black eyes, and 
I had to answer something after what I had heard her 
say to Willis. 

" 'We went to Hananakou,' I began. 

" 'He does not need me now,' she broke in angrily. 
'He has gotten all my words, and gives them to the 
Via tea-tea (white woman) . He is a toke-toke, a thief!' 

"Remember that Miss Dorey was undoubtedly the 
first white female Taaroa had ever seen, and that jeal- 
ousy among women or men in Rapa Nui was unknown. 
They hated, like us, but jealousy they had no word 
for. And because I was amazed at her emotion, I 
said: 

" 'I saw them hohoi (embrace) .' 

"Taaroa showed then the heat of this new flame on 
Easter Island. She gave a mocking laugh, repeated it, 
then choked, and burst into wailing. You could have 
told me that moment I knew nothing of the Maori, and 
I would not have denied it. I was struck dumb, and 
swallowed my drink. And as I poured another, and sat 
there in the old mission-house where Frere Eugene had 
gathered his flock years before, Taaroa began the love 
song of her race, written in the picture symbols on the 
wooden tablet I have in my house in Tahiti now. It 
is the Ate-a-renga-hokan iti poheraa. You know how 
it goes. I can hear Taaroa now: 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 199 

*'Ka tagi, Renga-a-manu — hakaopa ; 
Ohiu runarme a ita metua. 
Ka ketu te nairo hihi — O te hoa! 
Eaha ton tiena — e te hoa — e! 

"Ta hi tiena ita have. 
Horoa ita have. 
Horoa moni e fahiti ; 

Ita ori miro; 

Ana piri atu ; 

Ana piri atu ; 

Ana tagu atu." 

Even a quarter of Maori blood with childhood spent 
in Polynesia lends a plaintive quality to the voice of men 
and women, and gives them an ability to sing their own 
songs in a powerfully affecting manner — the outpour- 
ing of the sad, confused hearts of a destroyed people. 
Under the cocoanut-trees of Takaroa, the lamps all but 
expiring by then, the man who had sat under Nietzsche 
at Basel rendered the song of Takaroa, the primitive 
love cry of the Rapa Nuiis, so that I was transported 
to the Land of Womb and Navel, and saw as he did the 
lovely savage Taaroa in her wretchedness. 

"Auwe!" Kopcke exclaimed. "She could love!" 
"Eialia e ru! You shall see!" murmured Llewellyn, 
forebodingly. "After that I did n't meet Taaroa for 
two months. She stopped visiting Tokouo, and my girl 
said she was heva, which is wrong in the head. Tokouo 
couldn't even understand jealousy. But I did, and 
I envied the American having two women, the finest on 
the island, in love with him. About a month later I was 



200 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

at the palace to have supper with them. My word, 
Miss Dorey had straightened out things. There were 
the best mats, those the natives make of bulrushes, every- 
where. The table was spread as fine as wax, and we had 
a leg of mutton, tomatoes, and other fresh vegetables. 
She said they owed the green things to Willis, who had 
hunted the islands for them, and found some wild and 
some cultivated by natives who had the seed from war- 
vessels that had come years before. The professor had 
out my tablets after dinner, and his daughter read the 
translation into English of the song Taaroa had sung. 
She had brought with her on the schooner a tiny organ 
about as big as a trunk, and she had set the ute to music, 
as wild as the wind. The words went like this: 

"Who is sorrowing? It is Renga-a-manu-hakopa ! 

A red branch descended from her father. 

Open thine eyehds, my true love. 

Where is your brother, my love? 

At the Feast in the Bay of Salutation 

We will meet under the feathers of your clan. 

She has long been yearning after you. 

Send your brother as a mediator of love between us, 

Your brother who is now at the house of my father. 

Oh, where is the messenger of love between us? 

When the feast of driftwood is commemorated 

There we will meet in loving embrace. 

"She was dressed all in white, with a blue sash, and 
a blue ribbon in her hair, and when she sang I could see 
her white bosom as it rose and fell. She was making 
love to the American right before me. Her father, with 
the tablet beside him, thought of nothing but the trans- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 201 

lation, and she had forgotten me. I could see that this 
was one of many such evenings. Willis stood and 
turned the leaves on which she had written her words 
and air, and when she sang the word 'love' their bodies 
seemed to draw each other. There was a girl I knew 
in Munich — but hell ! After the tablets were put away, 
we talked about the yearly festival of the god Meke 
Meke, which was about the last of the ancient days still 
celebrated. The schooner was due back, and would take 
away the visitors, and they hoped that it would not go 
before thirty days yet, when it would be Maro, the last 
month in the Rapa Nui year, our July. That was the 
real winter month, and then the sea-birds came by the 
tens of thousands to lay their eggs. Mostly they pre- 
ferred the ledges and hollows of the cliffs, but the first 
comers frequented two islets or points of rock in the 
sea just below the crater Rano Kao. Both Chief Ure 
Vaeiko and the old Pakomeo said that always there had 
been a ceremony to the god Meke Meke at that time. 
We had witnessed the one the previous year, and could 
tell the English pair about it. 

"All the strong men of the island, young and old, 
met at Orongo after the birds were seen to have re- 
turned, and raced by land and water to the rocks, Motu 
Iti and Motu Nui, to seize an egg. The one who came 
back to the king and crowd at Orongo was highly hon- 
ored. The great spirit of the sea, Meke Meke, was sup- 
posed to have picked him out for regard, and all the year 
he was well fed and looked after by those who wanted 
the favor of the god. The women especially were 
drawn to him as a hero, and a likely father of strong 
children. In times gone, said Ure Vaeiko, many were 



202 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

killed or hurt in the scramble of thousands, and in the 
fights for precedence that came in the struggle to break 
the eggs of competitors. Now one or two might be 
drowned or injured, but, with the few left to take part, 
often no harm was done anybody. 

"When I left that night Willis walked a little distance 
with me as I led my horse. He was under stress and, 
after fencing about a bit, said that he would like to go 
away on the schooner. His two years were not com- 
plete, but he was anxious to get back to America. He 
had gathered material for a thesis on the tablets and 
sculptures of Rapa Nui, with which he believed he could 
win his doctor's degree. That was really what he had 
come for, he said. I was sore because I knew the truth. 
I did n't doubt about the thesis. That explained his 
being there at all, but his wanting to go on that next 
vessel was too plain. I said to him that he was not a 
prisoner or a slave, but that I hoped he would stay, un- 
less Timi Linder was aboard, when it would be all right, 
as only two white men were needed, one at each station. 
We left it that way, though he did not say yes or no. 

"Well, Linder was on the schooner, and she came into 
Hanga Piko Cove two weeks before the Meke Meke 
feast, so that her sailing was set for the day after, and 
Willis was told by Linder it was all right for him to 
go. Linder had letters for everybody, and new photo- 
graphic films for Willis. I unloaded the vessel, and 
Willis rode over the island with Linder to show him the 
changes, the increase of cattle and sheep, and pick out 
certain cattle and horses the schooner was to carry to 
Tahiti. He made dozens of pictures for his thesis. 
Meanwhile the natives had absolutely quit all work and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 203 

moved in a body from their little plantations to the old 
settlement at Orongo to prepare for the race. Orongo 
was the queerest place in the world. If Rapa Nui was 
strange, then Orongo was the innermost secret of it. 
It was a village of stone houses in two rough rows, 
built on the edge of the volcano Rana Kao, and facing 
the sea. There were fifty houses, all pretty much alike. 
They were built against the terraces and rocks of the 
crater slope, without design, but according to the 
ground. The doorways to the houses were not two feet 
wide or high, and the rooms, though from a dozen to 
forty feet long, never more than five feet wide, and the 
roofs not more than that high. They were built of slabs 
of stone, and the floors were the bare earth. The door- 
posts were sculptured and the inside walls painted, and 
the rocks all about marked with hieroglyphics and 
figures. There were lizards, fishes, and turtles, and a 
half -human, mythical beast with claws for legs and arms, 
but mostly the Meke Meke, the god which Professor 
Dorey had discovered the likeness of in the Inca tombs 
in Peru. The old people said that Orongo had never 
been occupied except at the time of the feast of Meke 
Meke. 

"So there they were, all that were left of the once 
many thousands, living again in those damp, squat 
tombs, and cooking in the ovens by the doorways that 
were there before Judas hanged himself. All knew 
that Orongo was more ancient than the platforms or 
the images, and those were built by the same folk who 
put up the stonehenges in Britain and in the Tonga 
Islands. Pakomeo, who had escaped from the slavery 
in Peru, was in charge of the Meke Meke event, be- 



204 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

cause Chief Ure Vaeiko was in his eighties. We do- 
nated a number of sheep, and, with yams, bananas, and 
sugar-cane, — we grew a little of these last two, — the 
show was mostly of food. A few went to Orongo 
several days before the bird-eggs trial, but all slept 
there the night before. The moon was at its biggest, 
and the women danced on the terrace in front of the 
houses. Professor Dorey and his daughter with Willis 
were there when Timi Linder and I arrived after sup- 
per. They had waited for us, to begin, and the drums 
were sounding as we rounded the curve of the crater. 

"The English girl was entranced by the beauty of the 
night, the weird outhnes of the Orongo camp, the over- 
reaching rise of the volcano, the sea in the foreground, 
and the kokore torn, the moon that shone so brightly 
on that lone speck of land thousands of miles from our 
homes. I heard her singing intimately to him an old 
English air. The schooner was to leave the next day, 
and her lover would go with her. 

"When we were seated on mats, Pakomeo struck his 
hands together, and called out, 'Riva-riva maitaV/ 
Two women danced, both so covered with mat garments 
and wearing feather hats drooping over their heads that 
I did not know them. The tom-tom players chanted 
about the Meke Meke, and the women moved about 
the circle, spreading and closing their mats in imitation 
perhaps of the Meke Meke's actions in the sea or air. 
I was bored after a few minutes, and watched Willis 
and Miss Dorey. They were in the shadow sitting 
close to each other, their hands clasped, and from his 
sweet words to her I learned her first name. The father 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 205 

always said simply 'daughter,' but Willis called her 
Viola. It was a good name for her, it seemed to me, 
for she was grave and pathetic like the viola's notes. 
The two women were succeeded by others, who put in 
pantomine the past of their people, the building of the 
ahu and the images, the fishing and the wars, the heroic 
feats of the dead, and the vengeance of the gods. 
Christianity had not touched them much. They still 
believed in the atua, their name for both god and devil. 
"Now the heaps of small fuel brought days before by 
severe labor were lit, and when the fires were blazing 
low a single dancer appeared. She had on a white tapa 
cloak, flowing and graceful, and in her hair the plumage 
of the makohe, the tropic bird, the long scarlet feathers 
so prized by natives. As she came into the light I saw 
that she was Taaroa. Her long black hair was in two 
plaits, and the makohe feathers were like a coronet. 
She had a dancing wand in each hand, the ao, light 
and with flattened ends carved with the heads of famous 
female dancers of long ago. The three di-ums began a 
slow, monotonous thump, and Taaroa a gentle, sway- 
ing movement, with timid gestures, and coquettish 
glances — the wooing of a maiden yet unskilled in love. 
The drums beat faster, and the simulated passion of 
the dancer became more ardent. Her eyes, dark- 
brown, brilliant, and liquid, commenced to search for 
the wooed one, and roved around the circle. They re- 
mained fixed an instant on the American in startling 
appeal. I glanced and saw Miss Dorey look at him 
surprisedly and inquiringly, and then resentfully at 
Taaroa. But she was carrying on her pantomine, and 



206 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

she ended it with a burst of passion, the hula that we 
all know, though even more attractive than Miri's or 
Mamoe's in Tahiti. 

"I suppose Miss Dorey had never in her life seen such 
an expression of amour, and did n't know that women 
told such things. Her face was like the fire, and she 
moved slightly away from Willis. But now Taaroa 
was dancing again, and altogether differently. She 
stood in one spot, and as the drums beat softly, raised 
her arms as if imploring the moon, and sang the mourn- 
ing ute of Easter Island: 



n 



<( 



*Ka ihi uiga — te ki ati, — 
Auwe te poki, e — ' 



The sail of my daughter, 
Never before broken by the force of foreign clans! 
Ever victorious ip all her fights, 
She would not drink the poison waters in the 
cup of obsidian glass. 

"We all felt depressingly the sudden reversal of 
sentiment, and, when Taaroa had finished, Miss Dorey 
said she would like to leave. She shivered. The air 
was a little cold, but the Rapa Nuiis built up their fires 
and prepared to dance through the night. We whites, 
with Timi Linder, went home with a promise to meet at 
noon to-morrow for the egg ceremony. As Timi and I 
rode to Vaihu, seven or eight miles it was, he remarked 
that Taaroa had gotten much handsomer while he was 
away. He asked if she was still friendly with Willis, 
and I explained things. Timi didn't make much of 
those troubles, but 'Anyhow,' he said, 'they '11 all sail 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 207 

away to-morrow, and her husband can lease her to me.' " 

Llewellyn hesitated. His story had been long. The 
lamps were out. 

"There is n't much more," he said, apologetically 
though pleadingly. "When the race started at Orongo, 
we four, the English people, Willis, and I, went to the 
sea where we could watch the swimming. Timi Linder 
stayed with Ure Vaeiko and Pakomeo to award the 
prize. The runners came swarming down the cliff, 
some taking paths around and others trying to climb 
straight down. They wore loin-cloths only, and were 
mad as fighters with the excitement. Some fell but got 
up, and away they went, and some leaped into the sea 
from the bluff at forty or fifty feet high. The rocks 
were about a hundred fathom off shore, and that is a 
short swim for Kanakas. But it was the carrying the 
egg whole and getting up the bluff again that tested 
skill and luck. Well, it was over in a little while, and 
when we returned to Orongo, Matatoa, the husband of 
Taaroa, had been made the choice of the god Meke 
Meke for the year. 

"As the passengers had their goods already stowed, 
but intended to go aboard the schooner before night- 
fall to wait for a favoring wind, Willis proposed that 
we all go back to the beach and have a last bath to- 
gether. Most of the Rapa Nuiis went with us, and the 
victor and Taaroa among them. We all wore parens 
and I tell you those two young people made a magni- 
ficent pair. That year and a half on Rapa Nui had 
done wonders for Willis. He was like a wrestler, and 
Miss Dorey in her pareu was a picture. 

"Some one spoke of the spring under the sea, and 



208 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

proposed that we all drink from it. It was like that one 
at Nagone. The fresh water runs into the ocean about 
ten feet under the ocean at the bottom of the cliff. 
Willis shouted out that he had never had a drink under 
the sea, and would try it first. Nobody, they said, 
had been down there for years, but in war time it had 
been a prized spot. Willis was a good diver, and down 
he went while we watched from the rocks twenty feet 
above on which we climbed. Now, to stay down there 
long enough to drink, some one else had to stand on 
your shoulders, and some one else on theirs. Willis 
plunged in, and, of those sporting in the water, Taaroa 
was first to follow him down. Her husband, the win- 
ner, was the second, and we, laughing and joking about 
the American's heavy burden, waited for him to come 
up spluttering. 

"You know how long it seems. We had no watches, 
but after about a minute, Matatoa suddenly tottered 
and then dived. The water was not very clear there 
because of the issuance of the spring, and mud stirred 
up, and we could not see beneath the surface. But we 
knew something unexpected had happened, and Miss 
Dorey seized my arm. 

" 'For God's sake, go down and help him,' she 
shrieked. 

"I hesitated. I did n't think anything was wrong, 
but even then I had a feeling of not risking anything to 
save him if it was. He had too much already. Rotten! 
I know it. But that 's my nature. I could n't have 
done any good. Matatoa came up and went down again 
and then a half dozen dived to the place where Willis 
and Taaroa were out of sight. One came up and yelled 




Old cocoanut trees 




From'fhe painting by Oscar F. Schmidt 

The dark valley of Taaoa 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 209 

that he could not find them, and then we knew the worst. 
They were gone by this time more than three minutes. 
Then I leaped in, too, but there were so many of us 
we got tangled up with one another under the water, 
and as Matatoa came near me I told every one else to 
move aside, and that we two would make the search. 

"Well, we found that at the spring a frightful sponge 
of seaweed and kelp had grown, and that Willis and 
Taaroa had become fastened in it. We had to take 
down knives to cut them out, and we brought them up 
together. She had him clasped in her arms so tightly 
we had to tear them apart. They were like dead. His 
heart was not beating, but we carried them up the rocky 
path and with as much speed as possible to the fires 
which the natives still had for cooking. There Pako- 
meo and Ure Vaeiko directed the holding of them in the 
smoke which, as you know, does sometimes bring them 
back, but they were dead as Queen Korato. We put 
the body of the American on a horse and took it to the 
palace. Taaroa remained at Orongo, and her tribe be- 
gan at once preparations to bury her in one of the bur- 
rows. Miss Dorey was quiet. Except that one shriek 
I did not hear her cry. I went to Vaihu that night and 
left Timi Linder with them. I got drunk, and Timi 
said in the morning that the English girl stayed alone 
all night with Wilhs in the living room." 

I had sat so long listening to Llewellyn that when, 
with the tension off, I tried to stand up, I reeled. He 
sat with his head bowed. Captain Nimau grasped my 
arm to help himself up, and said, ''Mais, mon Dieu! that 
was terrible. You buried the American there, and the 
Doreys left soon." 



210 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"The next day, after the burial. I remained two 
years more, and, by the great Atua of Rano Roraku, 
I was n't sober a week at a time." 

Kopcke lit a cigarette, and, as we prepared to sepa- 
rate, said sententiously : "Mon vieuoo, I know women 
and I know the Kanaka, and I do not think Taaroa 
drowned the American for love. She did n't know 
about the sea-grass being there." 

Llewellyn did not answer. He only said, vexedly, 
"Well, for heaven's sake, let 's get a few drinks be- 
fore we go to sleep!" 

I left them to go to Nohea's shack. On my mat I 
pitied Llewellyn. He had a real or fancied contri- 
tion for his small part in the tragedy of Rapa Nui. 
But my last thought was of the violet eyes of Miss 
Dorey. Those months to England must have been 
over-long. 



CHAPTER XI 

Pearl hunting in the lagoon — Previous methods wasteful — Mapuhi shows 
me the wonders of the lagoon — Marvelous stories of sharks — Woman 
who lost her arm — Shark of Samoa — Deacon who rode a shark a half 
hour — Eels are terrible menace. 

THE lagoon of Takaroa Was to be the scene of 
intense activity and of incredible romance for 
the period of the open season for hunting the 
pearl-oyster. Eighty years or more of this fishing had 
been a profitable industry in Takaroa, especially for 
the whites who owned or commanded the vessels trad- 
ing here. A handful of nails would at one time buy 
the services of a Paumotuan diver for a day. Trifles, 
cheap muskets, axes, and hammers, were exchanged 
for shells and pearls, often five dollars for five hundred 
dollars' worth. The Paumotuan was robbed uncon- 
scionably by cheating him of his rights under contracts, 
by intimidation, assault, and murder, by getting him 
drunk, and the usual villairious methods of unregulated 
trade all over the world. The Sons of Belial were 
hereabouts. They had to haul down the black flag 
under compulsion, but they sighed for the good old 
days, and did not constitute themselves honest guard- 
ians for the natives even now. 

The piratical traders of the early decades sailed 
from atoll to atoll, bartering for pearls and shells, or 
engaging the Paumotuans to dive for them, either by 
the month or season, at a wage or for a division of 



211 



212 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the gains. For their part, the traders supplied fire- 
arms, salt meat, and biscuit or flour, though rum or 
other alcoholic drink was their principal merchandise. 
The average native would continue to sell his soul for 
the godlike exaltation of the hours of drunkenness, 
and forget the hell of the aftermath. He did sell his 
body, for often the diver found himself in debt to the 
traders at the end of the year. If so, he was lost, for 
he remained the virtual slave of the creditor, who gave 
him still enough rum to make him quiescent, and to 
continue in debt till he died from the accidents of his 
vocation, or from excesses. 

The lagoons were emptied of their shells in improvi- 
dent manner, shells of any size being taken, and no 
provision made for the future nor for the growth and 
propagation of the oysters. The industry was the 
usual fiercely competitive struggle that marks a new 
way of becoming rich quickly. The disorder and 
wasteful methods of the early days of gold digging 
in California, and later in Alaska, matched the reck- 
less roguery and foolish mishandling of these rich pearl- 
fisheries before the French Government tardily ended 
the reign of lawlessness and prodigality. Gambling be- 
came a fever, and the white man knew the cards better 
than the brown. Driven by desire for rum and for 
more money to hazard, the Paumotuan risked terrible 
depths and killed himself, or ruined his health by too 
many descents in a day. Atoll and sea must soon 
have been deprived of people and oysters. 

Thirty years ago, the secretary of the College de 
France, summoned to Tahiti to find a remedy, reported 
that, if laws were not made and enforced against the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 213 

conditions he found, the industry would speedily pass. 
Schooners of many nationalities frequented the atolls. 
Pearls were not rare, and magnificent shells were found 
in many of the eighty lagoons. Their size surpassed 
all found now. The continuous search had impover- 
ished the beds, which were the result of centuries, and 
had robbed them of shells of age and more perfect 
growth, as war took the strongest and bravest men of 
a nation, and left the race to be perpetuated by cowards, 
weaklings, and the rich or pohtic who evaded the front 
of battle. 

It took five years to grow a fine shell. The sixth 
year often doubled the value in mother-of-pearl, and 
the seventh year doubled it a!gain. The Chinese, in a 
certain famous fishery off their coast, sought the shells 
only every ten or fifteen years ; but those yellow people 
had the last word in conservation of soil and every 
other source of gain, forced to a sublimated philosophy 
by the demands of hundreds of millions of hungry 
bellies. 

Warned by the Parisian professor, the French Gov- 
ernment made strict regulations to prevent the extinc- 
tion of the pearl-oyster, and, incidentally, of the Pau- 
motuan. For the oyster they instituted the closed 
season or raJiiii, forbidding the taking of shells from 
certain atolls except at times stated. Experts ex- 
amined the lagoons, and upon their recommendations 
a schedule of the rahui was drawn out, so that while 
diving might be permitted in one lagoon for succes- 
sive seasons it might be prohibited in another over a 
term of years. This had caused a peripatetic school 
of divers, who went about the group from open la- 



214 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

goon to open lagoon, as vagrants follow projects of 
railroad building. But the lagoons would never be 
again what they had been in wealth. The denuding 
had been too rapacious. However, the oysters were 
now given time to breed, and their food was taken 
care of to a degree, though France, the most scien- 
tific of nations, with the foremost physicists, chemists, 
and physicians, did not send her genius to her colo- 
nies. 

To protect the divers and their families, alcohol was 
made contraband. It was unlawful to let a Paumo- 
tuan have intoxicants. The scenes of riotous debauch- 
ery once common and which always marked the diving 
season, in the merciless pitting of pearl- and shell- 
buyers against one another, were rare, but surrepti- 
tious sale and donation of drink were still going on. 

Mormonism, Josephitism, and Seventh Day Advent- 
ism, strict sects as to stimulants, had aided the law, 
and the Lying Bills and McHenrys, the Mandels and 
the Kopckes, had a white god against them in their 
devil-take-the-hindmost treatment of the natives. 
France also confined the buying and selling in the 
Paumotus to French citizens, so that the non-Gauls 
by blood had been driven to kiss the flag they con- 
temned. But business excused all subterfuges. 

One day when the diving term was almost on, Ma- 
puhi and I were talking on his veranda about the ven- 
tures of his life, and especially of his experiences un- 
der the sea. 

"Come!" he said, with an indulgent smile upon his 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 215 

flawed but noble face, "American, you and I will go 
upon the lagoon, and I will show you what may be 
strange to you." 

Going to the end of his spit of land, we entered a 
canoe, and, with the chief paddling swiftly, moved 
towards the other side of the lagoon, away from the 
habitations of the Paumotuans. When a hundred 
yards or two offshore, JNIapuhi shipped his paddle and 
let the outrigger canoe lie idly on the water. 

"Look!" he said, appraisingly, "See the wonders of 
God prepared for his children!" 

I took the titea mata he handed me, the four-sided 
wooden box with a pane of ordinary glass fixed in it, 
about fifteen inches square, and notched for the neck 
of the observer. Putting the glass below the surface 
and gazing through it, I was in fairy-land. 

The floor of the lagoon was the superbest garden 
ever seen by the eye of man. A thousand forms of 
life, fixed and moving, firm and waving, coral and 
shells, fish of all the colors of the rainbow, of beauteous, 
of weird, and of majestic shape and size, decorated 
and animated this strange reserve man had invaded 
for food and profit. The giant furbelowed clams, 
largest of all mollusks, white, or tinged with red and 
saffron or brown-yellow, a corruscating glare of blue, 
violet, and yellow from above, reposed like a bed of 
dream tulips upon the shining parterre. 

The coral was of an infinitude of shape: emerald 
one moment and sapphire the next, shot with colors 
from the sun and the living and growing things be- 
neath. Springing from the sea-floor were cabbages 



216 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

and roses, cauliflower and lilies, ivory fans and scarlet 
vases, delicate fluted columns, bushes of pale yellow 
coral, bouquets of red and green coral, shells of pink 
and purple, masses of weeds, brown and black sponges. 
It was a magic maze of submarine sculpture, fret- 
work, and flowers, and through all the interstices of 
the coral weaved in and out the brilliant-colored and 
often miraculously-molded fish and crustaceans. There 
were great masses of dark or sulphur-hued coral into 
which at any alarm these creatures darted and from 
which they peeped when danger seemed past. Snakes, 
blue, gold, or green bars on a velvet black-brown, glided 
in and out of the recesses, or coiled themselves about 
branches. 

Big and small were these denizens of the lagoon. 
The tiny hermit-crab in a stolen mollusk-shell had on 
his movable house his much smaller paramour, who, 
also in her appropriated former tenement of a dead 
enemy, would spend the entire mating season thus wait- 
ing for his embrace. And now and again as I looked 
through the crystal water I saw the giant bulks of 
sharks, conger-eels, and other huge fish. These I 
pointed out to Mapuhi. 

He peered through the titea mata. 

"Er he exclaimed. "For fifty years I have fought 
those demons. They will take one of us this rahui 
as before. It may be God's will, but I think the devil 
fights on the side of the beasts below. I myself have 
never been touched by them though I have killed many. 
When I think of the many years I entered the water 
all over these seas, and in blackest sin, I understand 
more and more what the elders say, that God is ever 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 217 

watching over those He intends to use for His work. 
I have seen or known men to lose parts of themselves 
to the sharks, but to escape death. They prayed when 
in the very jaws of the mao, and were heard." 

Mapuhi blew out his breath loudly, as if expelling 
an evil odor. 

"Tavana, tell me about some of the bad deeds of 
sharks," I said. 

"Aue! There are no good ones," he replied. "In 
Raiatea, near Tahiti, they were fishing at night for 
the ava, the fish something like the salmon. They had 
a net five meters high, and, after the people of the 
village had drawn the net round so that no fish could 
escape, a number of men dived from their canoes. You 
know they try to catch the ava by the tail and make 
it swim for the air, pulling the fisherman with it. That 
is an arearea [game] . The torches held by the women 
and children and the old people were lighting the water 
brightly when Tamaehu came up with his fish. He 
was baptized Tamaehu, but his common name was 
Marae. Just as he brought the ava, or the ava brought 
Tamaehu, to his canoe, and the occupants were about 
to lift the ava into the canoe, a shark caught Tamaehu 
by the right foot. He caught hold of the outrigger 
and tried to shake it off. It was not a big shark, but 
it was hungry. He shouted, and his companions 
leaned over and drove a harpoon into the shark, which 
let go his foot, tore out the harpoon, and swam away. 
Poor Tamaehu was hauled in, with his foot hanging 
loose, but in Raiatea the French doctor sewed it on 
again. You can see him now limping about, but he 
praises God for being alive." 



218 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"He well may; and there are many others to join 
with him?" I ventured, inquisitively. 

"Do you know Piti, the woman of Raroia, in these 
Paumotu islands?" he asked. "No? If you go there, 
look for her. You will know her, for she has but one 
arm. Raroia has a large door to its lagoon. The 
bigger the door the bigger the sharks inside. The la- 
goons to which only small boats can enter have small 
sharks only. Piti was diving in the lagoon of Raroia 
during the season. She was bringing up shell from 
fifty feet below, and had several already in her canoe. 
She dived again, and, after seizing one shell, started 
to come up. Suddenly she saw a shark dart out of a 
coral bank. She became afraid. She did not pray. 
She forgot even to swim up. A man like me would 
not have been afraid. It is the shark that takes you 
when you do not see him that is to fear. Piti did 
nothing, and the mao took her left arm into his mouth. 
He closed his teeth and dragged off the flesh down 
to the elbow where he bit her arm in two. You know 
how when a shark bites, after he sinks his teeth into 
the meat, he twists his mouth, so as to make his teeth 
cut. That is the way God made him. This shark 
twisted and stripped off Piti's flesh as he drew down 
his teeth. When he bit off her lower arm he swam off 
to eat it, and she rose to the top. She put her good 
arm over the outrigger, and those other women paddled 
to her and pulled her into the canoe. The bone stuck 
out six inches below the flesh the shark had left. There 
were no doctors, but they put a healing plant over 
the arm. The wound would not heal, and ate and ate 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 219 

inside for several years until the upper arm fell off 
at the shoulder- joint. Then she got well." 

"Is the shark himself never frightened? A human 
being must seem a very queer fish to a shark. They 
do not always attack, do they?" I said. "I have swum 
where they were, and Jack of the Snark, Monsieur 
London, told that at Santa Ana in the Solomon 
Islands, when they were putting dynamite in the water 
to get a supply of fish, the natives leaped into the water 
and fought with the sharks for the fish. He said that 
the sharks had learned to rush to the spot whenever they 
heard dynamite exploded. The Solomon people had 
to grab the stunned fish away from the sharks, and 
one man who started for the surface with a fish came 
to the boat with only half of it, as a shark had taken 
away the head." 

"ET answered Mapuhi, "Sharks are devils, but the 
devils are not without fear, and sometimes they become 
neneva, and do things perhaps they did not think about. 
At Marutea Atoll, Tau, a strong man, caught a shark 
about four feet long. They had a feast on the beach, 
and Tau, to show how strong he was, picked up the 
shark and played with it after it had been on the sand 
for some minutes. The mouth of the mao was near 
his arm, and it opened and closed, and took off the 
flesh of the upper arm. He got well, but he never 
could use that arm. Right here in Takaroa, in the 
rahui of seven years ago, a man, diving for shell, met 
a shark on the bottom. He was crawling along the 
bottom, looking for a good shell, when the shark turned 
a corner and struck him square in the mouth. The 



220 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

shark was a little one, not more than three feet long, 
but so frightened was he that he bit the man's two 
cheeks right off, the cheeks and the lips, so that to-day 
you see all his teeth all the time. He has become a 
good Mormon." 

Mapuhi laughed. I looked at him, and his face was 
filled with mirth. He was not deceived as to the heart 
of man. Devout he was, but he had dealt too long 
with brown and white, and had been too many years 
a sinner — indeed, one of the vilest, if rumor ran true 
— not to have drunk from the well-springs of the pas- 
sions. Mapuhi wore a blue loin-cloth and a white shirt. 
The tails of the latter floated in the soft breeze, and 
the bosom was open, displaying his Herculean chest. 
We could see his house in the distance across the la- 
goon, and now and then he kept it in his eyes for a 
minute. He had gone far for a man whose father had 
been a savage and an eater of his enemies. The Mor- 
mon tenets permit a proper pride of possession, like the 
Mohammedan philosophj^ One can rejoice that God 
has signaled one out for holding in trust the material 
assets of life. The bankers of the world have long 
known this about their God. Mapuhi had become 
thoughtful, and, as I was sure he had other and more 
astonishing facts about the sharks not yet related, I 
suggested that other archipelagos were also cursed by 
the presence and rapacity of the mao. 

"In Samoa," said Mapuhi, "the shark is not called 
mao or mako as in Nuku-Hiva, but mdlie. There are 
no lagoons in Samoa, for there are no atolls, but high 
mountains and beaches. Now the malie is the shark 
that swims around the islands, but the deep-sea shark, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 221 

the one that lives out of sight of land, is the mdlietua. 
The Samoans are a wise people in a rich country. 
They are not like us poor Paumotuans with only cocoa- 
nuts and fish, but the Samoans have bananas, bread- 
fruit, taro, oranges, and cocoanuts and fish, too. They 
are a happy people. Of course, I am a Paumotuan, 
and I would not live away from here. Once, a woman 
I had — when I was not a Mormon — wanted me to take 
my money and go and live in Tahiti, which is gay. 
I considered it, and even counted my money. But 
when I thought of my home and my people, I thrust 
her out as a bad woman. Now in Manua in Samoa 
was a half-caste, and his daughter was the queen of 
Manua. The half-caste's name was Alatua lunga, 
and he was one day fishing for bonito in the way we 
do, with a pearl-shell hook, when one of the four or 
five Samoans with him said, 'There is a small shark. 
Put on a piece of honito, and we will catch the mdlie/ 
They did so, and then they let their canoe float while 
they ate boiled taro and dried squid. 

"Then one of the Samoans said, T see a shark.' 
Others looked, and they said, also, 'A shark is rising 
from the deep.' Now a deep-water shark, as I said, 
is a mdlietua and is not to be smiled at. lunga said, 
'Get the big hook and bait it!' Then the shark 
rose, twenty feet of its body out of the water, and its 
jaws opened. They closed on the outrigger of the 
canoe, and bit one end clear off. lunga said again, 
'Get the hook!' He thought the shark would take the 
baited hook, and then they could throw the rope at- 
tached to the hook overboard, and the mdlietua would be 
troubled with the rope at the end of his nose and would 



222 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

cease to attack them. They could see the shark all 
this time. He was a blue shark with a flat tail, and 
was forty feet long at least. Their canoe was just 
half as long, and they thought of lona [Jonah]. The 
perofeta was swallowed by a shark, because a whale can 
swallow only little fish. The malietua would not take 
the hook, and, leaving the outrigger, rammed the stern 
of the canoe. The shock almost threw them into the 
water. All were paddling hard to escape, for they knew 
that this shark was a real devil and sought to destroy 
them. lunga, who was steering the va aalo, rose up and 
struck the shark many times on his nose. This angered 
him, but lunga kept it up, as their one chance of safety. 
There is a saying in Samoa, 'O le malie ma le tutu' 
which is, 'Each shark has its pay.' lunga and all the 
Samoans were religious men, though not Mormons, and 
they sang a hymn as they paddled hard. They made 
their peace with the Creator, who heard them. For over 
two miles the race was run. The malietua pursued the 
va aalo, and lunga jabbed him with the big paddle. 
At last they were nearly all dead from weariness, and 
so lunga sheered the canoe abruptly to the right, in- 
tending to smash on the reef as a chance for their lives. 
But just as the va aalo swerved, to strike upon the 
coral rocks, they rested on their paddles, and they saw 
that the shark had disappeared. If that shark had 
kept on for another minute it would have killed itself 
on the reef." 

"Mapuhi," I verified, "I, too, have been to Manua, 
and heard the story from the kin of Alatua lunga, 
whom I knew as Arthur Young, the trader. He be- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 223 

came very pious after that, and was a great help to 
the mitinare" 

The repubhcan king of the atolls may have thought 
he detected in my voice or manner a raillery I did not 
mean to imply, for he inspected my countenance se- 
riously. He had long ago discovered that white men 
often speak with a forked tongue. But I was sincere, 
because I had never known a joyous, unfrightened 
person to become suddenly religious, while I had wit- 
nessed a hundred conversions from fear of the devil, 
hunger, or the future. However, Mapuhi, who was 
an admirable stoiy-teller, with a dramatic manner and 
a voice of poesy, had reserved his chef d'ceuvre for 
the last. 

"American," he said, "If I were a scoffer or unbe- 
liever to-day and I met Huri-Huri and he informed me 
of what God had done for him, and his neighbors who 
had seen the thing itself brought their proof to his words, 
I would believe in God's goodness. Have you seen 
Huri-Huri at Rangiora? He lives at the village of 
Avatoru. He has a long beard. Ah, you have not 
seen him. Yes, very few Paumotuans have beards, 
but no Paumotuan ever had the experience of Huri- 
Huri. He was living in his village of Avatoru, and 
was forty years old. He was a good diver but get- 
ting old for that work. It takes the young to go deep 
and stay down long. As we gi'ow older that weight of 
water hurts us. Huri-Huri was lucky. He was get- 
ting many large shells, and he felt sure he would pick 
up one with a valuable pearl in it. He drank the rum 
the white trader poisons my people with, and he spent 



224 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

his money for tobacco, beef, and cloth. He had a 
watch but it did not go, and he had some foolish things 
the trader had sold him. But here he was forty years 
old, and so poor that he had to go from atoll to atoll 
wherever there was a rahui because he wanted all these 
foreign goods. 

"This time he was diving in the lagoon of Rangiroa. 
He was all alone in his canoe, and was in deep water. 
He had gone down several times, and had in his canoe 
four or five pairs of shells. He looked again and saw 
another pair, and plunged to the bottom. He had the 
shells in his sack and was leaving the bank when he 
saw just above him a shark so big that, as he said, it 
could have bitten him in half as a man eats a banana. 
The shark thrust down its nose toward Huri-Huri, and 
he took out his shells and held them against the beast. 
He kept its nose down for half a minute but then was 
out of breath. He was about to die, he believed, un- 
less he could reach the air without the shark follow- 
ing him. He threw himself on the shark's back, and 
put his hands in the fish's gills, and so stopped or partly 
stopped the shark's breathing. The shark did not 
know what to make of that, and hurried upward, headed 
for the surface by the diver. Huri-Huri was afraid to 
let go even there, because he knew the inao would turn 
on him and tear him to pieces. But he took several 
long breaths in the way a diver understands, and still 
held on and tore the shark's breathing-places. 

"Now the shark was angry and puzzled, and so 
rushed to the bottom again, but with the man on his 
back. The shark had not been able to enjoy the air 
at the top because he breathes water and not air. 




o 
o 



-a 
g 

o 

be 

bO 

a 
'> 
-5 
o 



o 
d 

03 

o 
bo 

a 

o 

+-> 

a 

3 




.-tifi-'-f",.,--! 



o 



o 

S 

Oh 



a 
o 



0) 
> 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 225 

Huri-Huri closed his gill openings, and piloted him, 
and so he came up again and again descended. By 
pulling at the gills the shark's head was brought up 
and he had to rise. All this time Huri-Huri was think- 
ing hard about God and his own evil life. He knew 
that each second might be his last one in life, and he 
prayed. He thought of lona who was saved out of 
the shark's belly in the sea where Christ was born, and 
he asked lona to aid him. And all the while he jerked 
at the gills, which are the shark's lungs. He knew 
that the shark was dying all the time, but the question 
was how long could the shark himself hold out, and 
which would weaken first. Up and down they went 
for half an hour, the shark's blood pouring out over 
Huri-Huri's hands as he minute after minute tore at the 
gills. Now he could direct the shark any way, and often 
he guided him toward the beach of the lagoon. The 
shark would swim toward it but when he felt the shal- 
low water would turn. But after many minutes the 
shark had to stay on top altogether, because he was too 
far gone to dive, and finally Huri-Huri steered him 
right upon the sand. Huri-Huri fell off the mao and 
crawled up further, out of reach of him. 

"When the people on shore who had watched the 
strange fight between the mao and the man came to 
them both, the fish could barely move his tail, and Huri- 
Huri was like dead. Every bit of skin was rubbed off 
his chest, legs, and arms, and he was bleeding from doz- 
ens of places. The shark's body is as rough as a file. 
When Huri-Huri opened his eyes on his mat in his 
house, and looked about and heard his wife speak to 
him, and heard his friends about say that he was the 



226 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

bravest and strongest Paumotuan who ever lived, he 
said: 'My brothers, praise God! I called on lona, and 
the prophet heard me, and taught me how to conquer 
the devil that would have killed me in my sin!' They 
listened and were astonished. They thought the first 
thing Huri-Huri would say would be, 'Give me a drink 
of rum !' American, that man is seventy years old now, 
and for thirty years he has preached about God and 
sin. lona was three days and nights in the shark's 
belly, but nobody could ride a shark for a half -hour, 
and conquer him, except a Paumotuan and a diver." 

Mapuhi was glad to be corroborated bj^ Linnseus in 
his opinion that a white shark and not a whale had been 
the divine instrument in teaching the doubting Jonah 
to upbraid Nineveh even at the risk of his life. The 
great Swedish naturalist says: 

Jonam Prophetum ut veteris Herculem trinoctera, in hujus 
ventriculo, tridui spatro baesisse, verisimile est. 

Also, Mapuhi was deeply interested by my telling 
him that at Marseilles a shark was caught in which was 
a man in complete armor. He had me describe a suit 
of armor as I had seen it in the notable collection in 
Madrid. He was struck by its resemblance to the 
modern diver's suit. 

"In the Paumotus," he said, "the French Govern- 
ment forbids the use of the scaphandre because it 
cheated the native of his birthright. The merchants, the 
rich men of Tahiti, could buy and use such diving ma- 
chinery, but the Paumotuan could not. The natives 
asked the French government to send away the scaph- 
andre, and to permit the searching for shells by the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 227 

human being only. I had one of the machines. I 
could go deeper in it than any diver in the world, so 
the merchants said. I would go out in my cutter with 
my men and the scaphandre. I did not put on the 
whole suit, but only the rubber jacket, on the brass 
collar of which the helmet was screwed. I fixed this 
jacket tightly around my waist so that no water could 
enter, and fastened it about my wrists. Then, with 
my legs uncovered, I jumped into the lagoon. I had 
big pieces of lead on my back and breast so as not to 
be overturned by the weight of the helmet, and an 
air-hose from the helmet to the pump in the cutter. 
I would work three hours at a time, but had to come 
up many times for relief from the pressure. 

"One day I was in this suit at the bottom of the 
lagoon of Hikueru. I had filled my net with shells, 
and had signaled for it to be hauled up. I was ex- 
amining a ledge of shells when I felt something touch 
my helmet. It was a sea-snake about ten feet long 
and of bright color. It had a long, thin neck, and it 
was poisonous. I snatched my knife from my belt, 
and before the snake could bite me I drove the knife 
into it. It was attacking the glass of my helmet, and 
not my legs, fortunately. That snake has its enemy, 
too, for when it lies on the surface to enjoy the sun 
the sea-eagle falls like a thunderbolt from the sky, 
seizes it by the back of the head, and flies away with it. 

"Another time when I was in the suit, a puhi, a very 
big eel, wrapped itself about me. I had a narrow es- 
cape but I killed it with my knife. In the olden days 
in Hikueru I would have perished, for that puhi eel, 
the conger-eel, was taboo, sacred as a god, here and 



228 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

in many islands. To eat that eel or harm him was 
to break the taboo. More than eighty people of 
Fakaofa were driven from that island for eating the 
puhi, and they drifted for weeks before they reached 
Samoa. The vaaroa, the long-mouthed eel, is danger- 
ous to the diver. It is eight feet long, and Amaru, of 
Fakarava had the calf of his leg bitten off by one." 

A week I could have listened to Mapuhi. I was 
back in my childhood with Jules Verne, Ballantyne, 
and Oliver Optic. Actual and terrifying as were the 
harrowing incidents of the diving related by the giant, 
they found constant comparison in my mind with the 
deeds of my boyish heroes. After all, these Paumo- 
tuans were children — simple, honest, happy children. 
The fate that had denied them the necessaries of our 
environment, or even the delicious foods and natural 
pleasures of the high islands, Tahiti and the Marquesas, 
had endowed them with health, satisfaction with a rigid 
fare, and an incomparable ability to meet the hard- 
ships of their life and the blows of extraordinary cir- 
cumstance with fortitude and persistent optimism. 
They had no education and were happier for the lack 
of it. The white man had impressed their instincts and 
habits but shallowly. Even their very austerity of 
surroundings had kept them freer than the Tahitians 
from the poisonous gifts and suicidal customs of the 
foreigner. Their God was near and dear to them, and 
a mighty fortress in time of trouble. 

While Mapuhi talked the canoe had returned with the 
currents nearer to his house, from which we had em- 
barked. It was conspicuous over all the other homes 
on the motu, though it was a very ordinary wooden 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 229 

structure of five or six rooms. It was not a fit frame 
for Mapuhi, I thought. This son of the sea and lagoon 
was suited better to a canoe, a cutter, or the deck of a 
schooner. He had a companionship with this warm salt 
water, with the fish in it, and the winds that blew 
over it, exceeding that of any other man. He drove 
the canoe on the sand, and we stepped ashore. I lin- 
gered by the water as he walked on to his store. In his 
white, fluttering shirt, and his blue pareu, bare-legged 
and bareheaded, there was a natural distinction and 
atmosphere of dignity about him that was grandeur. 
Kingship must have originated in the force and bearing 
of such men, shepherds or sea-rovers. 



CHAPTER XII 

History of the pearl hunger — Noted jewels of past — I go with Nohea to 
the diving — Beautiful floor of the lagoon— Nohea dives many times — 
Escapes shark narrowly — Descends 148 feet — No pearls reward us — 
Mandel tells of culture pearls. 

MUCH of the mystery and myth of these 
burning atolls was concerned with the quest 
of pearls. In all the world those gems had 
been a subject of romance, and legend had draped their 
search with a myriad marvels. Poets and fictionists 
in many tongues had embroidered their gossamer fabric 
with these exquisite lures, the ornament of beauty, the 
treasures of queen and odalisque, mondaine and dancer, 
image and shrine, since humans began to adorn them- 
selves with more delicate things than the skins and teeth 
of animals. A thousand crimes had their seed in greed 
for the possession of these sensuous sarcophagi of dead 
worms. A milhon men had labored, fought, and died 
to hang them about the velvet throats of the mistresses 
of the powerful. Hundreds of thousands had perished 
to fetch them from the depths of the sea. History and 
novel were filled with the struggle of princes and Cy- 
prians, merchants, adventurers, and thieves for ropes 
of pearls or single specimens of rarity. Krishna dis- 
covered pearls in the ocean and presented them to his 
goddess daughter. The Ethiopians all but worshiped 
them, and the Persians believed them rain-drops that 
had entered the shells while the oysters sunned them- 
selves on the beach. Two thousand years before our 

230 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 231 

era, a millennium before Rome was even mud, the 
records of the Middle Kingdom enumerated pearls 
as proper payments for taxes. When Alexander the 
Great was conquering, the Chinese inventoried them 
as products of their country. The "Url-Ja," a 
Chinese dictionary of that date, says "they are very 
precious." 

Solomon's pearls came from the Persian Gulf, India, 
and Ceylon, and the queen of Sheba's too. Rivers of 
Britain gave the author of the "Commentaries" pearls 
to dedicate to Venus Genetrix, and to present to that 
lovely assassin who melted two, costing ten million 
sesterces, for a love philter, and seduced two Caesars. 
Who can forget the salad Philip II of Spain, the uxori- 
ous inquisitor, set upon the royal table for his wife, 
Elizabeth of Valois, the leaves of which were of 
emeralds, the vinegar of rubies, the oil of topazes, and 
the salt of pearls? What more appetizing dish for 
a royal bride? The Orientals make medicine of them 
to-day, and I myself have seen a sultan burn pearls to 
make lime for chewing with the betel-nut. 

The New World offered fresh preserves to pearl- 
hunters ; primeval grounds drew a horde of lusty blades 
to harry the red men's treasure-house. South and Cen- 
tral America fed the pearl hunger that grew with the 
more even distribution of wealth through commerce, 
and the rise of stout merchants on the Continent and the 
British Islands. The Spanish king who gave his name 
to the Philippines got from Venezuela a pearl that 
balanced an eighth of a pound. I saw it in Madrid. 
These Paumotus and Australasia were the last to an- 
swer yes to man's ceaseless demand that the earth and 



232 ATOLLS OF THE SUX 

the waters thereof yield hini more than bread for the 
sweat of his brow. On many maps these atolls are yet 
inscribed as the Pearl Islands. About their orlorious 
lagoons was a mist of obscurity and of wonder for 
centuries. Besides dano-ers to vessels, the cannibalism 
of savages, the lack of any food except cocoanuts and 
fish, and stories of strange happenings, there were ac- 
comits of divers who sank deeper in the sea than science 
said was possible, and of priceless pearls plundered or 
bought for a drinkinCT-sono^. 

Custom-houses and organized commerce had rung 
down the curtain on the extravaganza of the past, but 
the romance of man wrestling with the forces of nature 
in the element from which he originally came, now so 
deadly to him. was yet a supreme attraction. The day 
of the opening of the raliui came none too soon for me. 
Xohea. my host, was to dive, and we had arranged that 
I was to be in his canoe. I was assured by Mapuhi, 
and by Captain Ximau and Kopcke, that despite the 
fact that his vouth was orone. Xohea was the best diver 
in Takaroa, and especially the shi'ewdest judge of the 
worth of a piece of diving ground. 

All the village went to the scene of the diving in a 
fleet of cutters and canoes, sailing or paddhng accord- 
ing to the goal and craft. Xohea and I had a largish 
canoe, which, though with a small sail woven of j^an- 
danus straw, could easily be paddled by us. He had 
staked out a spot upon the lagoon that had no recogniz- 
able bearinsfs for me. but which he had long a^o selected 
as his arena of action. He identified it by its distance 
from certain points, and its association with the sun's 
position at a fixed hour. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 233 

We had risen before dawn to attend the Mormon 
church service initiating the raliui. The rude coral 
temple was crowded when the young elders from Utah 
began the service. JMapuhi, Nohea, and leaders of the 
village sat on the forward benches. The prayer of 
elder Overton was for the physical safety of the elected 
in the pursuit they were about to engage in. 

"Thou knowest, O God," he supplicated, "that in 
the midst of life we are in death." 

"E! E! Parau mau!" echoed the old divers, which 
is, "Yea, Verily!" 

"These, th}^ children, O God, are about to go under 
the sea, but not like the Chosen People in Israel, for 
whom the waters divided and let them go dry-shod. 
But grant, O God, who didst send an angel to Joseph 
Smith to show him the path to Thee through the Book 
of INIormon, who didst lead thy new Chosen People 
through the deserts and over the mountains, among wild 
beasts and the savages who knew Thee not, to Thy 
capital on earth. Salt Lake City, that thy lo\^ng wor- 
shipers here assembled shall come safely through this 
day, and that Thy sustaining hand shall support them 
in those dark places where other wild beasts lie in wait 
for them!" 

''Parau mau!" said all, and the eyes of some of the 
women were wet, for they thought of sons and lovers, 
fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters, who had gone 
out upon the lagoon, and who had died there among the 
coral rocks, or of whom only pieces had been brought 
back. They sang a song of parting, and of commend- 
ing their bodies to the Master of the universe, and then 
with many greetings and hearty laughter and a hun- 



234 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

dred jests about expected good fortune, we parted to 
put the final touches on the equipment for la peche des 
huitres nacrieres. Forgetting the quarter of an hour 
of serious prayer and song in the temple, the natives 
were now bubbling with eagerness for the hunt. Mapuhi 
himself was like a child on the first day of vacation. 
These Paumotuans had an almost perfect community 
spirit, for, while a man like Mapuhi became rich, actu- 
ally he made and conserved what the duller natives 
would have failed to create from the resources about 
them, or to save from the clutches of the acquisitive 
white, and he was ready to share with his fellows at 
any time. He, as all other chiefs, was the choice of the 
men of the atoll at a quadrennial election, and held 
office and power by their sufferance and his own merits. 
None might go hungry or unhoused when others had 
plenty. Civilization had not yet inflicted on them its 
worst concomitants. They were too near to nature. 

After a light breakfast of bread and savory fried 
fish, to which I added jam and coffee for myself, Nohea 
and I pushed off for our wonder-fishing. In the canoe 
we had, besides paddles, two titea mata, the glass-bot- 
tomed boxes for seeing under the surface of the water, 
a long rope, an iron-hooped net, a smaller net or bag 
of coir, twenty inches deep and a foot across, with three- 
inch meshes, a bucket, a pair of plain-glass spectacles 
for under-water use, a jar of drinking-water, and food 
for later in the day. 

The sun was already high in the unclouded sky when 
we lifted the mat sail, and glided through the pale-blue 
pond, the shores of which were a melting contrast of ala- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 235 

baster and viridescence. All about us were our friends 
in their own craft, and the single motor-boat of the 
island, Mapuhi's, towed a score of cutters and canoes 
to their appointed places. A slender breeze sufficed 
to set us, with a few tacks, at our exact spot. We 
furled our sail, stowed it along the outrigger, and were 
ready for the plunge. We did not anchor the canoe 
because of the profundity of the water and because it is 
not the custom to do so. I sat with a paddle in my hand 
for a few minutes but laid it down when Nohea picked 
up the looking-glass. He put the unlidded box into 
the water and his head into it and gazed intently for a 
few moments, moving the frame about to sweep the bot- 
tom, of the lagoon with his wise eyes. 

The water was as smooth as a mirror. I saw the 
bed of the inland sea as plainly as one does the floor of 
an aquarium a few feet deep. No streams poured 
debris into it, nor did any alluvium cloud its crystal pur- 
ity. Coral and gravel alone were the base of its floor 
and sides, and the result was a surpassing transparency 
of the water not believable by comparison with any other 
lake. 

"How far is that toa aau?" I asked, and pointed to a 
bank of coral. 

Nohea sized up the object, took his head from the 
titea mata, and replied, "Sixty feet." 

At that distance I could, unaided, see plainly a piece 
of coral as big as my hand. The view was as variegated 
as the richest landscape — a wilderness of vegetation, 
of magnificent marine verdure, sloping hills and high 
towers with irregular windows, in which the sunshine 



236 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

streamed in a rainbow of gorgeous colors ; and the shells 
and bodies of scores of zoophytes dwelling upon the 
structures gleamed and glistened like jewels in the flood 
of light. About these were patches of snow-white 
sand, blinding in refracted brilliancy, and beside them 
green bushes or trees of herbage-covered coral, all beau- 
tiful as a dream-garden of the Nereids and as imaginary. 
Even when I withdrew my eyes from this fantastic 
scene, the lagoon and shore were hardy less fabulous. 
The palms waved along the beach as banners of seduc- 
tion to a sense of sheer animism, of investiture of their 
trunks and leaves with the spirits of the atoll. Not 
seldom I had heard them call my name in the darkness, 
sometimes in invitation to enchantment and again in 
warning against temptation. The cutters or canoes of 
the village were like lily-pads upon the placid water, 
far apart, white or brown, the voices of the people 
whispers in the calm air. I wished I were a boy to 
know to the full the feeling of adventure among such 
divine toys which had brought glad tears to my eyes 
in my early wanderings. 

The canoe had drifted, and Nohea slipped over its 
side and again spied with the glass. I, too, looked 
through mine and saw where he indicated a ridge or 
bank of coral upon which were several oyster-shells. 
Nohea immediately climbed into the canoe and, resting 
upon the side prayed a few moments, bowing his head 
and nodding as if in the temple. Then he began to 
breathe heavily. For several minutes he made a great 
noise, drawing in the air and expelling it forcibly, so 
that he seemed to be wasting energy. I was almost con- 
vinced that he exaggerated the value of his emotions and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 237 

explosive sounds, but his impassive face and remem- 
brance of his race's freedom from our exhibition con- 
ceit, drove the foolish thought away. His chest, very- 
capacious normally, was bursting with stored air, a 
storage beyond that of our best trained athletes; and 
without a word he went over the side and allowed his 
body to descend through the water. He made no splash 
at all but sank as quietly as a stone. I fastened my 
head in the titea mata and watched his every move- 
ment. He had about his waist a pareu of calico, blue 
with large white flowers, — the design of William Morris, 
— and a sharp sailor's sheath-knife at the belt. Around 
his neck was a sack of cocoanut-fiber, and on his right 
hand a glove of common denim. Almost all his robust 
brown body was naked for his return to the sea-slime 
whence his first ancestor had once crawled. 

Down he went through the pellucid liquid until at 
about ten feet the resistance of the water stopped his 
course and, animated bubble as he was, would have 
pushed him to the air again. But Nohea turned in a 
flash, and with his feet uppermost struck out vigor- 
ously. He forced himself down with astonishing speed 
and in twenty seconds was at his goal. He caught hold 
of a gigantic goblet of coral and rested himself an in- 
stant as he marked his object, the ledge of darker rocks 
on which grew the shells. There were sharp-edged 
shapes and branching plant-like forms, which, appear- 
ing soft as silk from above would wound him did he 
graze them with his bare skin. He moved carefully 
about and finally reached the shells. One he gripped 
with the gloved hand, for the shell, too, had serrated 
edges, and, working it to and fro, he broke it loose from 



238 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

its probable birthplace and thrust it into his sack. Im- 
mediately he attacked the other, and as quickly de- 
tached it. He stooped down and looked closely all 
about him. He then sprang up, put his arms over his 
head, his palms pressed one on the other, and shot 
toward the surface. I could see him coming toward 
me like a bolt from a catapult. I held a paddle to 
move the canoe from his path if he should strike it, 
and to meet him the trice he flashed into the ether. 

The diver put his right arm over the outrigger boom, 
and opening his mouth gulped the air as does the bonito 
when first hauled from the ocean. I was as still as 
death. In a seance once I was cautioned not to speak 
during the materializations, as the disturbance might 
kill the medium. I recalled that unearthly silence, for 
the moment of emergence was the most fatal to the 
diver. His senses after the terrible pressure of such a 
weight upon his body were as abnormal and acute as 
a man's whose nerves have been stripped by flaying. 
The change in a few seconds from being laden and 
hemmed in by many tons of water to the lightness of 
the atmosphere was ravaging. Slowly the air was re- 
spired, and gradually his system, — heart, glands, lungs, 
and blood, — resumed its ordinary rhythm, and his 
organs functioned as before his descent. Several 
minutes passed before he raised his head from the out- 
rigger, opened his eyes, which were suffused with blood, 
and said in a low tone of the deaf person, ''E tau Atua 
el" He was thanking his God for the gift of life and 
health. He had been tried with Meshach, Shadrach, 
and Abednego, though not by fire. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 239 

Nohea lifted himself into the canoe, and took the sack 
of coir from his neck. I removed the two pairs of 
shells with the reverence one might assume in taking the 
new-born babe from its first cradle. They were Holy 
Grails to me who had witnessed their wringing from 
the tie-ribs of earth. They were shaped like a stem- 
less palm-leaf fan, about eight inches tall and ten wide, 
rough and black; and still adhering to their base was 
a tangle of dark-green silky threads, the byssus or 
strong filament which attaches them to their fulcrum, 
the ledge. It was the byssus which Nohea had to 
wrench from the rock. I laid down the shells and re- 
stored the sack to Nohea, who sat immobile, perhaps 
thoughtless. Another brief space of time, and he 
smiled and clapped his hands. 

"That was ten fathoms," he said. "Paddle toward 
that clump of trees" (they were a mile away), "and we 
will seek deeper water." 

A few score strokes and we were nearer the center 
of the lagoon. With my bare eyes I could not make out 
the quality of the bottom but only its general configura- 
tion. Nohea said the distance was twenty fathoms. 
The looking-glass disclosed a long ledge with a flat shelf 
for a score of feet, and he said he made out a number 
of large shells. It took the acutest concentration on my 
part to find them, with his direction, for his eyes were 
twice as keen as mine from a lifetime's usage upon his 
natural surroundings. We sacrificed our birthright of 
vivid senses to artificial habits, lights, and the printed 
page. Nohea made ready to go down, but changed 
slightly his method and equipment. He dropped the 



240 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

iron-hooped net into the water by its line and allowed 
it to sink to the ledge. Then he raised it a few feet so 
that it would swing clear of the bottom. 

"It will hold my shells and indicate to me exactly 
where the canoe is," he explained. "At this depth, 
120 feet, I want to rest immediately on reaching the 
surface, and not to have to swim to the canoe. I have 
not dived for many months, and I am no longer young." 

He attached the line to the outrigger, and then, after 
a fervent prayer to which I echoed a nervous amen, he 
began his breathing exercises. Louder than before and 
more actively he expanded his lungs until they held a 
maximum of stored oxygen, and then with a smile he 
slid through the water until he reversed his body and 
swam. In his left hand now he had a shell, a single side 
of a bivalve; and this he moved like an oar or paddle, 
catching the water with greater force, and pulling him- 
self down with it and the stroke of the other arm, as 
well as a slight motion of the feet. The entire move- 
ment was perfectly suited to his purpose, and he made 
such rapid progress that he was beside the hoop-net in 
less than a minute. He had a number of pairs of shells 
stripped from the shelf and in the swinging net in a few 
seconds more, and then, drawn by others he discerned 
further along the ledge, he swam, and dragged himself 
by seizing the coral forms, and reached another bank. I 
paddled the canoe gently behind him. I lost sight of 
him then completely. Either he was hidden behind a 
huge stone obelisk or he had gone beyond my power 
of sight. 

A gigantic black shape swam into view near the oscil- 
lating hoop, and a horror swept over me. It disap- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 241 

peared, but Nohea was still missing. The time beat in 
my veins like a pendulum. Every throb seemed a 
second, and they began to count themselves in my brain. 
How long was it since Nohea had left me? A minute 
and a half? Two minutes? That is an age without 
breathing. Something must have injured him. Slowly 
the moments struck against my heart. I could not 
look through the titea mata any longer. Another sixty 
seconds and despair had chilled me so I shook in the 
hot sunshine as with ague. I was cold and weak. Sud- 
denly I felt a pull at the rope, the canoe moved slightly, 
and hope grew warm in me. I perceived an agitation 
of the water gradually ascending, and in a few instants 
the diver sprang out of the lagoon to his waist. He 
threw his arm over the outrigger, and bent down in 
agony. His suffering was written in the contortion 
of his face, the blood in his eyes, and a writhing of his 
whole body. He gasped madly at his first emergence, 
and then his bosom rose and fell in lessening spasms. 
The cramp which had convulsed his form relaxed, and, 
as minute after minute elapsed, his face lost its rigidity, 
his pulse slackened to normal, and he said feebly, ''E 
tau AtuaeT With my assistance he hauled himself 
into the canoe and lay half prone. 

"You saw no shark?" I asked. 

"I saw his shadow, but it was not he that detained me. 
I saw a bank which might hold shells and I explored 
it. We will see what I have." 

We pulled up the hoop-net, and in it were thirteen 
pairs of shells. These were larger than the others, 
older, and, as he said, from a more advantageous place 
for feeding, so that their residents, being better nour- 



242 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ished had made larger and finer houses for themselves. 
Some of the thirteen were eighteen inches across. He 
said that he had roamed seventy feet on the bottom, and 
he had been down two and a half minutes. He had 
made observation of the ledges all about and intended 
going a little deeper. I had but to look at the rope of 
the net to gage the distance for it was marked with 
knots and bits of colored cotton to give the lengths like 
the marks on a lead-line on shipboard. I wanted to 
demur to his more dangerous venture, but I did not. 
This was his avocation and adventure, his war with the 
elements, and he must follow it and conquer or fail. 

Again he dived, and this time at 148 feet. This was 
almost the limit of men in suits with air pumps or oxy- 
gen-tanks, and they were always let down and brought 
up gradually, to accustom their blood to the altering 
pressure. Half an hour or an hour was often con- 
sumed in hauling a diver up from the depth from which 
Nohea sprang in a few seconds. His transcendent cour- 
age and consummate skill were matched by his body's 
trained resistance to the effect of such extreme pres- 
sure of water and the remaining without -breathing for 
so long a time. I could appreciate his achievements 
more than most people, for I had seen the divers of 
many races at work in many waters. Ninety feet was 
the boundary of all except the Paumotuans and those 
who used machines. But here was Nohea exceeding 
that by sixty feet in my view, and I knew that greater 
depths must be attained. Impelled by an instantane- 
ous urge to contrast my own capabilities with Nohea's, 
I measured off thirty feet on the line, and, putting it 
in his hands to hold, I breathed to my fullest and leaped 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 243 

overboard. At three lengths of my figure, less than 
eighteen feet, I experienced alarm and pain. I un- 
loosed the hoop and it swayed down to the end of the 
five fathoms of rope, while I kicked and pulled, and 
after an interminable period I had barely touched it 
again before I became convinced that if I did not 
breathe in another second I would open my mouth. 
Nohea knew my plight, for he yanked at the rope, and 
with his effort and my own frantic exertion I made the 
air, and humbly hugged the outrigger until I was my- 
self. Thirty feet! And Nohea had brought up the 
shells from 148. 

He paid dearly. Several times of the score that he 
probed the deeper retreats of the oysters, he was pros- 
trated for minutes upon his egress and in throes of severe 
pain during the readjustment of pressure; but he con- 
tinued to pursue his fascinating and near-fatal employ- 
ment until by afternoon a heap of heavy, darkish bi- 
valves lay in the canoe. My curiosity had been heated 
since I had lifted the first shell, and it was with increas- 
ing impatience that I waited for the milder but not less 
interesting phase of his labor, the scrutiny of the interior 
of the shells for pearls. 

There are two moments in a diver's life ; 
One, when, a beggar, he prepares to plunge ; 
Then, when, a prince, he rises with his pearl. 

The poet visioned Nohea's emotions, perhaps, but he 
had schooled himself to postpone his satisfaction until 
the day's harvest was gathered. When we had paddled 
the canoe into shallow waters, and the sun was slanting 
fast down the western side of earth, Nohea surrendered 



244 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

himself to the realization or dissipation of his dream. 
He knew that a thousand shells contain no pearls, that 
the princely state came to few in decades. But the 
diver had the yearning and credulous mind of the gold 
prospector, and lived in expectation as did he. The 
glint of a pebble, the sheen of yellow sand, set his pulse 
to beating more rapidly; and so with the diver. He 
knew that pearls of great value had been found many 
times, and that one such trove might make him rich for 
life, independent of daily toil, and free of the traps and 
pangs of the plunge. 

Nohea thrust his knife between the blades of a bivalve 
and pried open his resisting jaws. True pearls lie in 
the tissues of the oyster, generally in the rear of the 
body and sealed in a pocket. Nohea laid down the 
parted shell and seized the animal, and dissected his 
boneless substance in a gesture of eager inquiry. I 
watched his actions with as sharp response, and sighed 
as each oyster in turn was thrown into the bucket, in 
which was sea-water. When all had been submitted to 
the test and no pearl had flashed upon our hopeful 
eyes we examined the shells, trusting that though the 
true pearls had escaped us we might find blisters, those 
which, having a point of contact with the shell, are thus 
not perfect in shape and skin, but have a flaw. These 
often have large value, if they can be skinned to advan- 
tage; and the diver put his smaller hopes upon them. 

With pearls, orient or blister, eliminated, the pri- 
mary and actually more important basis of the industry 
appealed to Nohea. He estimated the weight and value 
of the shells, which would be transported to London for 
manufacture in the French Department of the Oise 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 245 

into the black pearl buttons that ornament women's 
dresses. These Paumotuan shells were celebrated for 
their black borders, nacre a hord noir, more valuable 
than the gold-lipped product of the Philippines, but a 
third cheaper than the silver-lipped shells of Australia. 
With at least the comfort of a heavy catch of this less re- 
munerative though hardly less beautiful creation of the 
oj'^ster, Nohea pointed out to me that the formation of 
the mother-of-pearl or nacre on the shells was from left 
to right, as if the oyster were right minded. 

"When the whorls of a shell are from right to left," 
he said, "that shell is valuable as a curiosity. The peo- 
ple of Asia, the Chinese, pay well for it, and a Chinese 
shell-buyer now here told me that in Initia [India] 
they weighed it with gold in old times. In China they 
keep such shells in the temples to hold the sacred oil, 
and the priests administer magic medicine in them." 

Nohea completed the round of the day's undertaking 
by macerating the oysters and throwing them into the 
lagoon that their spawn might be released for another 
generation. He cut off and threaded the adhesive 
muscle of the oyster, the tatari ioro, to eat when dried. 
It was something Hke the scallop or abalone abductor 
muscle sold in our markets. The shells would be put 
into the sheds or warehouses to dry and to be beaten and 
rubbed so as to reduce the bulk of their backs, which 
have no value but weigh heavily. 

After we had supped, Nohea and the older divers 
gathered at Mapuhi's for a discussion of the day's luck, 
and I went along to the coterie of traders by Lying Bill's 
firm's store. A cocoanut-husk fire was burning, and 
about it sat Bill, McHenry, Llewellyn, Nimau, Mandel, 



246 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Kopcke, and others. Mandel was the most notable 
pearl-buyer and expert here, with an office in Paris and 
a warehouse in Papeete. He was huge and with gross 
features, and was rated as the richest man in these South 
Seas. His own schooner had dropped anchor off Taka- 
roa a few days before with Mrs. Mandel in command. 
He might make the bargain for pearls, but she would 
do the paying and squeeze the most out of the price 
to the native. She ruled with no soft hand, and in her 
long life had solved many difficult problems in money- 
grubbing in this archipelago. Her husband was the 
head of the Mandel tribe, but sons and daughter all 
knew the dancing boards of the schooner and the intrica- 
cies of the pearl-market. LTsually Mandel stayed in 
Tahiti or visited Paris, but the rahui in Takaroa was 
too promising a prize for any of them to remain away, 
and all of the family were diligent in intrigue and ne- 
gotiation. Mandel had handled the finest pearls of the 
Paumotus for many years. I had seen Mrs. Mandel 
come ashore, in a sheeny yellow Mother-Hubbard or. 
Tahitian ahu vahine and a cork helmet; but she made 
her home on her schooner, to which she invited those 
from whom her good man had purchased shell or pearls. 

Pearls were, of course, the subject of the talk about 
the fire. Toae, a Hikueru man, had found one, and 
Mandel had it already. He showed it to me, a pea- 
shaped, dusky object, with no striking beauty. 

"I may be mistaken," said Mandel, "but I believe 
this outside layer is poorer than one inside. In Paris my 
employees will peel it and see. It is taking a chance, 
but we have a second sight about it. You know a pearl 
is like an onion, with successive skins, and we take off 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 247 

a number sometimes. It reduces the size but may in- 
crease the luster. Also we are using the ultra-violet 
ray to improve color. I saw a pearl that cost a hun- 
dred thousand francs sold for three hundred thousand 
after the ray was used on it. You know a pearl is pro- 
duced only by a sick oyster. It is a pathological prod- 
uct like gall-stones, and it is mostly caused by a tape- 
worm getting into the oyster's shell, though a grain of 
sand is often the nucleus. The oyster feels the grating 
or irritating thing and secretes nacre to cover it. The 
tapeworm is embalmed in this mother-of-pearl, and the 
sand smoothed with it. The material, the nacre, is 
the same as the interior of the shell, and the oyster 
seems not to stop covering the intruder when the itching 
has stopped but keeps on out of habit. And so forms 
small and big pearls. Now a blister is generally over 
a bug or snail, though sometimes it is a stop-gap to keep 
out a borer who is drilling through the shell from the 
outside. The blisters are usually hollow, whereas a 
pearl has a yellow center with the carbonate of lime in 
concentric prisms. An orient or true pearl is formed 
in the muscles of the oyster and does not touch the 
shell ; but the blister, which generally is part of the shell, 
may have been started in the oyster's sac or folds, and 
have dropped out or been released to hold between the 
oyster and the shell. With these we cut away the out- 
side down to the original pearl. A blister itself is only 
good for a brooch or an ornament, but I have gotten 
five or ten thousand francs for the best." 

Captain Nimau, who was only less clever than Mandel 
in the lore of pearls, said that, as the lagoons were often 
three hundred feet or deeper in places, it was probable 



248 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

that larger pearls than ever yet brought up were in 
these untouched caches. 

"The Paumotuan has descended 180 feet," said 
Nimau. "I have plumbed his dive. A diver with a 
suit cannot go any deeper, and so we never have ex- 
plored the possible beds 'way down. The whole face 
of the outer reef may be a vast oyster-bed, but the surf 
prevents us from investigating. I have seen in Decem- 
ber and March of many years millions of baby oysters 
floating into the lagoons with the rising tide, to remain 
there. They never go out again but prefer the quiet 
life where they can grow up strong and big. The singu- 
lar thing about these pearl-oysters is that they can 
move about. When you try to break them loose from 
the ledge they prove to be very firmly attached by their 
byssus, but they travel from one shelf to another when 
they need a change of food. It is not sand they are most 
afraid of. They can spit their nacre on it if it gets in 
their shells ; but it is the little red crab that bothers them 
most. You know how often you find the crab living 
happily in the pearl-shell because when the oyster feeds 
he gets his share, and he is too active for the oyster to 
kill as it does the worm, by spitting its nacre on him and 
entombing him. Some day divers in improved suits 
will search for the thousands of pearls that have fallen 
upon the bottom from dead oysters, and maybe make 
millions. Mais, apres tout, pearls may soon have little 
value, for they say that the Japanese and other people 
are growing them like mushrooms, and, though they have 
not yet perfected the orient or ti"ue pearl, they may some 
day. One man, some kind of foreigner, who used to be 
around here, discovered the secret, but it 's lost now." 



CHAPTER XIII 

Story of the wondrous pearls planted in the lagoon of Pukapuka — 
Tepeva a Tepeva, the crippled diver, tells it — How a European scien- 
tist improved on nature — Tragedy of Patasy and Mauraii — The 
robbed coral bank — Death under the sea. 

THE palace of the governor was within half a mile 
of my abode in the vale of Atuona, on the island 
of Hiva-Oa, the capital of the Marquesan Archi- 
pelago. It was a broad and deep valley, "the most 
beautiful, and by far the most ominous and gloomy, spot 
on earth," said Stevenson. Umbrageous and silent, 
it was watered by a stream, which, born in the distant 
hills, descended in falls and rills and finally a chatter- 
ing brook to the bay. Magnificent forests of many 
kinds of trees, a hundred vines and flowers, with rarest 
orchids, and a tangled mass of grasses and creepers, 
lined the 'banks of the little river, and filled the rising 
confines of the dell, which, as it climbed, grew narrower 
and darker, and more melancholy of aspect, the poignant 
melancholy of a sad loveliness past telling or analyzing. 
A huge fortress of rocks rose almost sheer above my 
cottage, lowering in shadow and terrible in storm, the 
highest point in the Marquesas. In sunshine it was the 
brilliant rampart of the world-god's battlement, reflect- 
ing his flashing rays, and throwing a sheen of luminosity 
upon the depths of the strath. This lofty peak of Te- 
metiu, nearly a mile in the sky, was the tower of a vast 
structure of broken hills, gigantic columns, pinnacles, 

249 



250 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tilted and vertical rocks, ruins of titanic battles of fire 
and water in ages gone. I had but to lift my eyes and 
lower them to know that man here as in the Paumotus 
had but triflingly affected his environment. From the 
castellated summits to the beach where I had landed, the 
dwelhngs of humans seemed lost in the dense foliage 
dominated by the lofty cocoanuts and the spreading 
breadfruits. 

The palace of the young French administrator was in 
a garden in which grew exotic flowers brought by prede- 
cessors who sought to assuage their nostalgia by familiar 
charms. The palace had large verandas, and they were 
most of it, as in all tropical countries where mosquitoes 
are not too menacing. The reading and lounging, the 
eating and drinking, took place there, and generally 
a delicious breeze cooled the humid air and drove away 
any insects that might annoy. Almost daily I was the 
guest of the governor at a meal, or in the evening after 
dinner, for a merry hour or two. We might be alone, 
or with Andre Bauda, the tax collector, postmaster, and 
chief of police, or not seldom with one or more of the 
fairest of the Marquesan girls of the island of Hiva-Oa. 
For the governor was host not only to the beauties of 
our valley of Atuona, but sent Flag, the native mutoi, 
or policeman, of the capital, to other villages over the 
mountains, to invite those whom Flag thought would 
lessen his ennui. Far from his beloved Midi, the gov- 
ernor retained a Gallic and gallant attitude toward 
young women, and never tired of their prattle, their 
insatiable thirst for the beverages of France, and their 
light laughter when lifted out of their habitual gravity 
by these. Determined to learn their tongue as quickly 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 251 

as possible, being no longer resident than I in the Mar- 
quesas, he kept about him a lively lexicon or tM^o to fur- 
nish him words and practice. Midnight often came 
with the rest of the village already hours upon their 
sleeping-mats, but on the palace porches a gabble of 
conversation, the lilt of a chant, or perhaps the patter 
of a hula dance of bare feet upon the boards. The 
Protestant and Catholic missionaries, though opposed to 
each other upon doctrinal and disciplinary subjects, 
united in condemnation of the conduct of the high rep- 
resentative of sovereignty. But, like the governor of 
the Paumotus, he replied: "La vie est triste; vive la 
hagatalle." Life is sad ; let joy be unconfined. 

The governor's menage had only one attendant, Song 
of the Nightingale, and he served only because he was 
a prisoner, and preferred the domestic duties to repair- 
ing trails or sitting all day in the calaboose by the beach. 
There was no servant in the Marquesas. Whatever civ- 
ilization had done to them, — and it had undone them 
almost entirely, — it had not made them menials. There 
was never a slave. Here death was preferable. In 
Tahiti one might procure native domestics with extreme 
difficulty through their momentary craving for gauds, 
or through affection, but one bought no subservience. 
The silent, painstaking European or American or Asi- 
atic, the humble, sir-ring butler and footman, could not 
be matched in the South Seas. If they liked one, these 
indolent people would work for one now and then, but 
must be allowed to have their own way and say, and, if 
reproved, it must be in the tone one used to a child or a 
relative. The governor himself was compelled to en- 
dure Song of the Nightingale's lapses and familiarities, 



252 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

because he was the only procurable cook in the islands. 
He could not buy or persuade one of his lovely guests, 
clothed as they were but in a single garment, to wash 
a plate or shake a mat. I, it was true, was assisted by 
Exploding Eggs, a boy of fourteen years, but I made 
him an honored companion and neophyte whom I initi- 
ated into the mysteries of coffee-making and sweeping, 
and he, too, often wandered away for a day or two with- 
out warning. 

The table was spread on the veranda when at seven 
o'clock I opened the garden gate of the palace. Flag 
had delivered to me an enveloped card with studious 
ceremony, the governor sometimes observing the ex- 
treme niceties of official hospitality, and again throwing 
them to the winds, especially in very hot weather. Flag, 
barelegged and barefooted as always, wore the red- 
striped jacket of the mutoi and a loin-cloth, and carried 
a capacious leather pouch from which he had extracted 
the made-in-Paris carte d'invitation. To him it was a 
mysterious summons to a Lucullan feast which he might 
not even look upon. The governor was dressing when 
I mounted the porch, and I was received by Song of the 
Nightingale. He was a middle-aged desperado, with a 
leering face, given a Mephistophelian cast by a black 
whisker extending from ear to ear, and by heavy lines of 
blue tattooing upon his forehead. He had white blood 
in him, I felt sure, for he had a cunning wickedness of 
aspect that lacked the simplicity of the Marquesan. 
He had been a prisoner many years for various of- 
fenses, but mostly for theft or moon shining, at which 
he was adept, and he was the one Marquesan I would 
not trust ; he had been too much with whites. One won- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 253 

dered at times whether one's life was not the pawn of a 
mood of such a villain, but the French had hammered 
their dominion upon these sons of man-eaters with lead 
and steel in the early days, though they were easy and 
negligent rulers over the feeble remnant. 

The handsome governor came from his boudoir as 
Vehine-hae and Tahia-veo said "Kaohar Vehine-hae 
and Tahia-veo were their names in Marquesan, which 
translated exactly Ghost Girl and Miss Tail. The 
latter was a petite, engaging girl of seventeen, a bru- 
nette in color, and modest and sweet in disposition. 
Ghost Girl was the enigma of her sex there, nineteen 
or twenty, living alone in a detached hut, and singularly 
beautiful. She was as dark as a Nubian, with a volup- 
tuous figure, small hands and feet, and baggage eyes 
of melting sepia that promised devotion unutterable. 
Her nose was straight and perfect, and her sensual 
mouth filled with shining teeth. Of all the Marquesan 
girls she wore a travesty of European dress. They in 
public wore a tight-fitting peignoir or tunic, and in pri- 
vate a parew, but Ghost Girl had on a silk bodice open 
to disclose her ripe symmetry, and a lace petticoat about 
which she wore a silk kerchief. In her ebon heap of hair 
she wore the phosphorescent flowers of the Rat's Ear. 
Her mind was that of a child of ten, inquisitive and ac- 
quisitive, exhibitive and demanding. 

The governor seated us, the ladies opposite each other, 
and the dinner began with appetizers of vermouth. 
The aromatic wine, highly fortified as it was, burned 
the throat of Miss Tail, but Ghost Girl drank hers with 
zest, and said, "Motahi! That's fine!" Neither of the 
girls spoke more than a few sentences of French, though 



254 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

they had hoth been in the nuns' school, but we were able 
with our knowledge of Marquesan and Song's fragmen- 
tary French to carry on a lively interchange of words, 
if not of thought. 

. The governor had shot a few brace of huhu, the green 
doves of the forest, and Song had spitted them over a 
purau wood fire. With the haunch of a wild goat from 
the hills we had excellent fare, with claret and white 
wine from Sauterne. We two palefaces wielded forks, 
but as no Polynesians use such very modern inventions 
the ladies lifted their meat to their mouths without arti- 
ficial aid. Ghost Girl, as befitting her European attire, 
tried to use a fork, but shrieked with pain when she suc- 
ceeded in putting only the tines into her tongue. We 
hardly realize the pains our mothers were at to teach us 
table-manners, nor that gentlemen of Europe ate with 
their fingers at a period when chop-sticks were in com- 
mon use in China and Japan, except in time of mourn- 
ing. 

Song of the Nightingale, who, doubtless, had in- 
dulged his convict hankering for alcohol in the secret 
recesses of the kitchen, laughed loudly at Ghost Girl's 
pain, and when he placed a platter of the kuku on the 
cloth, and she refused to accept one of the grilled birds 
his snigger became derisive. He took up the carving- 
fork and stuck it deep into a kukus breast and put it 
on her plate. She shuddered and started back, with 
her hands covering her long-lashed eyes. The gover- 
nor demanded in a slightly angry tone to know what 
Song had done to frighten her. The cook explained 
that Ghost Girl was of Hanavave, on the island of Fatu- 
hiva, a day's journey distant, and that the hon dieu or 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 255 

god — he said pony -too — of Fatu-hiva was the kuku. 
She had been appalled at his suggestion that she should 
eat the symbolic tenement of her mother's deity, though 
she herself ate the transubstantiated host at communion 
in the Catholic church at Atuona. Not content with 
his insult to her ancestral god, and, taking his cue from 
the governor's roar of laughter at his French or his ex- 
planation, the cruel Song said a bitter thing to Ghost 
Girl. 

"Eat the kuku!" he said. "It will taste better than 
j^our grandmother did." 

"'Tuitui! Shut your mouth!" retorted Vehine-hae. 
"There were no thieves in our tribe." 

That was a hot shot at Song's crimes and penal record, 
and so 'animated became their repartee that the gov- 
ernor had to call a halt and demand mutual apologies. 
The chef informed him that his father in a foray upon 
Hanavave had taken as a prize of war the grandmother 
of Ghost Girl, and had eaten her, or at least, whatever 
tidbit he had liked. It was history that she had been 
eaten in Taaoa, Song's home, in the next valley to 
Atuona. No more vindictive remark than this, nor 
more hateful action than his offering the kuku to Ghost 
Girl, could be imagined in the rigid etiquette of Mar- 
quesas society. The tears were in the soft eyes of 
Vehine-hae, and the alarmed governor dismissed Song 
from further service that evening and took the weeping 
Fatu-hivan in his arms to console her. 

"Tapuf Tapu!" sobbed Ghost Girl. The kuku was 
tapu to her teeth, as the American flag would be to the 
feet of a patriot. Song was without other belief than 
in the delight of drink, but Ghost Girl was a woman, 



256 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the support of every new cult and the prop of every old 
one. Superstition the world over will die last in the 
breast of the female. She survives subjugated races, 
and conserves the past, because her instincts are stronger 
and her faculties less active than man's, and her need 
of worship overwhelming. 

That word tapu was still one to conjure with in the 
Marquesas. Flag, the policeman, and sole deputy of 
Commissaire Bauda on the island of Hiva-Oa, had in- 
voked it a few days before, after an untoward incident. 
Bauda and I had returned on horseback from a journey 
to the other side of the island, and, at the post-tax- 
police office near the beach where Bauda lived, encount- 
ered Flag, drunk. Son of a famous dead chief, and 
himself an amiable, bright man of thirty, he had not re- 
sisted the temptation of Bauda's being gone for a day, 
to abstract a bottle of absinthe from a closet and con- 
sume the quart. Bauda upbraided him and ordered him 
to his house, but Flag seized a loaded rifle and sounded 
an ancient battle-cry. It had the blood-curdling qual- 
ity of an Indian whoop. 

Neither Bauda nor I was armed, and I was for shelter 
behind a cocoanut-tree. That would not do for Bauda, 
nor for discipline. 

"Me with six campaigns in Africa! Moi qui parleT 
exclaimed the former officer of the Foreign Legion, as 
he tapped his breast and voiced his astonishment at 
Flag's temerity. He strode toward the staggering 
mutoi, and, with utter disregard of the rifle, reached his 
side. He wrenched the weapon from him, and with a 
series of kicks drove him into the calaboose and locked 
the door on him. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 257 

"That means ten years in Noumea for him," said the 
commissaire, savagely. But after dinner, which I got, 
when he had meditated upon Flag's willingness as a cook 
and his ability to collect taxes, he lessened the sentence 
to a year at hard labor. I was not surprised to meet 
Flag at noon the next day with his accustomed white 
jacket with its red stripe upon the arm. Man cannot 
live without cooks, and perhaps I had aided leniency by 
burning a bird. 

Flag explained to me, though sheepishly, that, over- 
come by the litre of absinthe as he was, he would not 
have injured a hair of Bauda's head. 

"Bauda is tapu. I would meet an evil fate did I 
touch him," said Flag, when sober and sorry. 

I stumbled on tapus daily. Vai Etienne, my neigh- 
bor, gave me a feast one day, and half a dozen of us, 
all men, sat at table. Vai Etienne, having lived 
several years in Tahiti had Frenchified ways. His 
mother, the magnificent Titihuti, who was splendidly 
tattooed from toe to waist, and who was my adopted 
mother, waited upon us. Offering her a glass of wine, 
and begging her to sit with us, I discovered that the 
glass her son drank from and the chair a man sat in 
were tapu to her. She took her wine from a shell, but 
would not sit at table with us. Of course, she never sat 
in chairs, anyhow, nor did Vai Etienne, but he had pro- 
vided these for the whites. 

The subject of the tapus of the South Seas was end- 
less. The custom, tabu or hapu in Hawaiian, and 
tambu in Fijian, was ill expressed in our "taboo," which 
means the pressure of public sentiment, or family or 
group feeling. Tapus here were the conventions of 



258 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

primitive people made awe-inspiring for enforcement be- 
cause of the very willfulness of these primitives. The 
custom here and throughout society dated from the 
beginning of legend. Laws began with the rules laid 
down by the old man of the family and made dread in 
the tribe or sept by the hocus-pocus of the medicine 
man. Tapus may have been the foundation of all penal 
laws and etiquette. The Jews had a hundred niceties 
of religious, sanitary, and social tapus. Warriors were 
tapu in Homer's day, and land and fish were tapu to 
Grecian warriors, according to Plato. Confucius in 
the "Li Ki," ordained men and women not to sit on the 
same mat, nor have the same clothes-rack, towel, or 
comb, nor to let their hands touch in giving and receiv- 
ing, nor to do a score of other trivial things. The old 
Irish had many tapus and totems, and many legends of 
harm wrought by their breaking, a famous one being 
"The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel." 

In the Marquesas tapus were the most important part 
of life, as ceremony was at the court of the kings of 
France. They governed almost every action of the 
people, as the rules of a prison do convicts, or the 
precepts of a monastery monks. Death followed the 
disobedience of many, and others preserved one from 
the hands of enemies. There being no organized gov- 
ernment in Polynesia, tapus took the place of laws 
and edicts. They were, in fact, spiritual laws, super- 
stition being the force instead of a penal code. They 
imposed honesty, for if a man had any dear possession, 
he had the priest tapu it and felt secure. Tapus pro- 
tected betrothed girls and married women from rakes. 

A young woman who worked at the convent in 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 259 

Atuona, near me, was made tapu against all work. 
She was never allowed to touch food until it had been 
prepared for her. If she broke the tapu the food was 
thrown away. From infancy, when a taua had laid 
the prohibition upon her, she lived in disagreeable idle- 
ness, afraid to break the law of the priest. Only in 
recent years did the nuns laugh away her fears, and set 
her to helping in their kitchen. She told me that she 
could not explain the reason for her having been tapu 
from effort, as the taua had died who chained her, with- 
out informing her. 

If a child crawled under a house in the building, the 
house was burned. If I were building a boat, and, for 
dislike of me, some one named aloud the boat after my 
father, I destroyed the boat. Blue was tapu to women 
in Nuku-Hiva, and red, too. They could not eat bonito, 
squid, popii, and koehi. They might not eat bananas, 
cocoanuts, fresh breadfruit, pigs of brown color, goats, 
fowls and other edibles. 

Females were forbidden to climb upon the sacred 
paepaes, to enter the men's club-houses (this tapu was 
enforced in America until the last few years), to eat 
with men, to smoke inside the house, to carry mats on 
their heads, and, saddest of all, to weep. Children 
might not carry one another pickaback. The kuavena 
fish was tapu to fishermen, as also peata, a kind of 
shark. 

To throw human hair upon the ground was strictly 
prohibited. It might be trodden on, and bring mischief 
upon the former wearer. So the chiefs would never 
walk under anvthinff that miffht be trodden on, and 
aboard ships never went below deck, for that reason. 



260 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Perhaps our superstition as to walking under ladders 
is derived from such a tapu. To stretch one's hand 
or an object over the head of any one was tapu. There 
were a hundred things tapu to one sex. Men had the 
advantage in these rules, for they were made by men. 

The earthly punishments for breaking tapus ran from 
a small fine to death, and from spoliation to ostracism 
and banishment. Though there were many arbitrary 
tapus, the whims and fantasies of chiefs, or the wiles 
of priests, the majority of them had their beginning in 
some real or fancied necessity or desirability. Doubt- 
less they were distorted, but, like circumcision and the 
Mosaic barring of pork to the Jews, here was health or 
safety of soul or body concerned. One might cite the 
Ten Commandments as very old tapus. 

The utter disregard for the tapus of the Marquesans 
shown by the whites eventually had caused them to fall 
into general disrepute. They degenerated as manners 
decayed under the influx of barbarians into Rome, as 
Greek art fell before the corruption of the people. The 
Catholic, who bowed his head and struck his breast at the 
exaltation of the host, could understand the veneration 
the Marquesans had for their chief tapus, and their hor- 
ror at the conduct of the rude sailors and soldiers who 
contemned them. But when they saw that no gods re- 
venged themselves upon the whites, that no devil de- 
voured their vitals when they ate tapu breadfruit or 
fish or kicked the high priest from the temple, the 
gentle savages made up their minds that the magic had 
lost its potency. So, gradually, though to some people 
tapus were yet very sacred, the fabric built up by thou- 
sands of years of an increasingly elaborate system of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 261 

laws and rites, melted away undei* the breath of scorn. 
The god of the white man was evidently greater than 
theirs. Titihuti, a constant attendent of the Catholic 
church, yet treasured a score of tapus, and associated 
with them these others, the dipping of holy water from 
the henitier, the crossing herself, the kneeling and stand- 
ing at mass, the telhng of her beads, and the kissing of 
the cross. 

The abandonment of tapus under the ridicule and 
profanation of the whites relaxed the whole intricate 
but sustaining Marquesan economy. Combined with 
the ending of the power of chiefs of hereditary caste, 
the doing away with tapus as laws set the natives hope- 
lessly adrift on an uncharted sea. Right and wrong 
were no longer right or wrong. 

This fetish system was very aptly called a plague of 
sacredness. 

"Whoever was sacred infested everything he touched 
with consecration to the gods, and whatever had thus 
the microbe of divinity communicated to it could com- 
municate' it to other things and persons, and render 
them incapable of common use or approach. Not till 
the priest had removed the divine element by ceremonies 
and incantations could the thing or person become 
common or fit for -human use or approach again." 

The Marquesan priests strove with might and main 
to extend the tapus, for they meant power and gain. 
Wise and strong chiefs generally had private confer- 
ences with the priests and looked to it that tapus did 
not injure them. 

Allied with tapuism was what is called in Hawaii 
hahunaism, that is the witchcraft of the priests, the 



262 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

old wizards, who combined with the imposing and lifting 
of the bans, the curing or killing of people by enchant- 
ment. Sorcery or spells were at the basis of most 
primitive medicine. At its best it was hypnotism, mes- 
merism, or mind power. After coming through thou- 
sands of years of groping in physic and surgery, we 
are adopting to a considerable degree the methods of the 
ancient priests, the theurgy, laying on of hands, or in- 
voking the force of mind over matter, or stated Christly 
methods of curing the sick. In Africa witchcraft or 
voodooism attains more powers than ever here, but 
even in Polynesia the test of a priest's powers was his 
ability to kill by willing it. In the New Zealand witch- 
craft schools no man was graduated until he could make 
some one die who was pointed out as his subject. A 
belief in this murderous magic is shared by many whites 
who have lived long in Polynesia or New Zealand. It 
was still practised here, and held many in deadly fear. 
The victims died under it as if their strength ran out 
like water. 

The most resented exclusion against women in the 
Marquesas, and one of the last to be broken, was from 
canoes. Lying Bill, as the first seaman who sailed their 
ships here, had met shoals of women swimming out miles 
to the vessel as it made for port. In his youth they did 
not dare enter a canoe in Hiva-Oa. They tied their 
parens on their heads and swam out, clambered aboard 
the ships miles from land with the parens still dry. 

"They'd jump up on the bulwarks," said Lying Bill, 
"an' make their twilight before touchin' the deck. The 
men would come out in canoes an' find the women had 
all the bloomin' plunder." 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 263 

This tapu, most important to the men, was maintained 
until a Pankhm'st sprang from the ranks of complain- 
ing but inactive women. There being many more men, 
women had always had a singular sex liberty, but, as I 
have said, the artful men had invoked rigid tapus to keep 
them from all water-craft. The females might have 
three or four husbands, might outshine an Aspasia in 
spell of pulchritude and collected tribute, and the por- 
tioned men must submit for passion's sake, but when 
economics had concern, the pagan priests brought orders 
directly from deity. 

The dread gods of the High Place, the demons of 
the Paepae Tapu, had centuries before sealed canoes 
against women. In canoes women might wander ; they 
might visit other bays and valleys, even other islands, 
and learn of the men of other tribes. They might go 
about and fall victims to the enemies of the race. They 
might assume to enter the Fae Enata, the House of 
Council, which was on a detached islet. 

And they certainly would catch other fish than those 
they now snared from rocks or hooked, as both swam 
in the sea. Fish are much the diet of the Marquesans, 
and were propitiations to maid and wife — the current 
coin of the food market. To withhold fish was to cause 
hunger. The men alone assumed the hazard of the toss- 
ing canoe, the storms, the hot eye of the vertical sun, 
and the devils of the deep who grappled with the fisher; 
and theirs was the reward, and theirs the weapons of 
control. 

But there were always women who grumbled, women 
who even laughed at such sacred things, and women who 
persisted. Finally the very altar of the Forbidden 



264 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Height was shaken by their madness. How and what 
came of it were told me by an old priest or sorcerer, as 
we sat in the shade of the great banyan on the beach 
and waited for canoes to come from the fishing. 

The sorcerer and I passed the ceremonial pipe, and 
his words were slow, as becoming age and a severe out- 
look on life. 

"There were willful women who would destroy the 
tapu against entering canoes?" I asked, to urge his 
speech. 

''E, it was so!" he said. 

"Me imvi? What happened?" I queried further. 

"A long time this went on. My grandfather told me 
of a woman who talked against that tapu when he was a 
boy." 

"And she—?" 

"She enraged the gods. She corrupted even men. A 
council was held of the wise old men, and the words 
went forth from it. She was made to keep within her 
house, and a tapu against her made it forbidden to listen 
to her wildness. In each period another woman arose 
to do the same, and more were corrupted. Some women 
stole canoes and were drowned. The sharks even hated 
them for their wickedness. We pointed out what fate 
had befallen them, but other women returned boasting. 
We slew some of these. But still it went on. You 
know, foreigner, how the pokoko enters a valley. One 
coughs and then another, and from the sea to the peak 
of Temetiu, many are made sick by the evil. It was so 
with us, and that revolt against religion." 

He sighed and rubbed his stomach. 

"Is it not time they came?" he asked. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 265 

"Epo, by and by," I answered. "Why did you men 
not yield? After all, what did it really matter?" 

"'O te Etna e! The gods of the High Place forbade, 
for the women's own sake!" he said indignantly, and 
muttered further. 

To break down every sacred relation of centuries! 
To shatter the tradition of ages ! To unsex their beloved 
mothers, wives, and sisters by the license of canoe rid- 
ing! The dangers and the hardships of the carven tree 
were to be spared the consolers of men's labor and perils. 

"Did the gods speak out plainly and severely?" 

The taua looked at me quizzically. Foreigners mock 
holy things of nature. The bishop here had kicked the 
graven image of the deity of the cocoanut-tree. 

''Ea! Po, the god of night, who rules the hereafter, 
spoke. The priest, the high priest, received the message. 
You know that grove by the Dark Cave. He heard the 
voice from the black recesses. Tapu haa, it said. A 
double tapu against any woman even lifting a paddle, 
or putting one toe, or her heel, or her shadow within a 
canoe. All the women were not wicked. Many be- 
lieved their place was in the huaa, the home. These re- 
fused to join the brazen hussies, the deserters of the po- 
poi pit. But the dance was dull, and there was strife. 
The huona, the artists, the women who rejoice men when 
they are merry, the women with three or more husbands, 
they all seemed to have the madness. They gained 
some of the younger men to their side, and they built 
that long house by those breadfruit-trees. They held 
their palaver there, and they refused to lie under their 
own faa, their roofs of pandanus. They would not 
dance by the light of the blazing candlenuts the mad 



266 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

hura-hura, nor let those braver s of the sea share their 
mats on the paepae of the valley. Many husbands 
fought one another when their wife did not return. 
The tribe grew apart." 

He sighed and took a shark's tooth from his loin- 
cloth, with which he scraped our pipe. 

I went and lay where the curling sea caressed my 
naked feet. I was within easy distance of the tauas 
voice. One must not hurry even in speech in these Isles 
of Leisure. The old man blew through the bowl and 
then the stem, and, taking pieces of tobacco from his 
pareu, he packed the pipe and lit it. He drew a long 
whiff first, as one pours wine first in one's own glass, 
and handed it to me. 

He responded when I put the pipe again between his 
trembling fingers. 

"The gods grew weary. Messages but few came 
from them. Priests' wives even ceased to cook the 
breadfruit on the hot stones, and went to live in that 
accursed haa ite/' 

"We esteem such a long house, and call it a club," 
I interposed in subconscious defense of my own habits. 

^'Oti! Maybe. Your island forgot wisdom early. 
You even cook your fish. We will make the fire 
now." 

I rose and shook off the warm salt water from my 
body. My pareu of blue with white stars was on a de- 
scending branch of the banyan. I put it about my 
thighs and folded it for holding. Then arm in arm we 
walked to our own house on the raised paepae of great 
basalt stones. 

I heaped the dried cocoanut fiber in a hollow of a 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 267 

rock, and about it set the polished coral of our kitchen. 
A spark from the pipe set it afire, and, heaped with 
more fiber and wood of the hibiscus, before long 
the stones blushed with the heat, and, growing redder 
yet, were ready for their service. 

The priest of old had withdrawn to make a sauce of 
limes and seawater, which he brought out within the 
half-hour from the penthouse in which we stored our 
simple goods. It was in a tanoa formerly used for 
kava, a trencher of the false ebony, black in life, but 
turned by the years of decoction of the mysterious 
narcotic to a marvelous green. It was like an ancient 
bronze in the open. Here we were both ready for our 
delayed food, I, beside the glowing coral stones, the 
bones of once living organisms, and the old man, with 
his bowl of sauce. But the food tarried. 

He fluttered about the paepae and chewed a bit of the 
hibiscus wood to stay his hunger. In the breadfruit- 
grove the komako, the Marquesan nightingale, deceived 
by a lowering cloud or perhaps impelled by a sudden 
passion, was early pouring his soul into the shadowy 
air. I tended my fire and wondered at man's small 
relation to most of creation. 

"Go, my son," said the taua impatiently, "to the open- 
ing of the forest, and see if they do not come over the 
waves !" 

I strolled to where the beach met the jungle. An 
outrigger canoe was coming through the surf. A faint 
shout from it reached me. I ran back to him where he 
still chewed an inedible splinter. 

"Epo/^ I said, and made the fire fiercer. He stirred 
his mitiaroa, the sauce, and watered his lips. 



268 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"How was the tapu broken finally?" I asked, casu- 
ally. 

"They are long away," he observed with his eyes on 
the break in the trees. 

"They are just now beaching the canoe," I said sooth- 
ingly. "We will eat in a moment. But taua, you 
leave me hungry for that last word. 

"The women of Oomoa tried to break down your tapu 
of time immemprial against their entering canoes, and 
there was trouble. The gods were against them, and 
yet to-day — " 

"The gods got tired," he interrupted me. "The 
chiefs became afraid of the continuous hakapahi i te 
faufau, the excitement and turmoil. You know the 
chiefs and priests decided all things. Now the women 
cried out for a vavaotina, for each one of the tribe to 
lay a candlenut in one of two popoi troughs. One was 
assent to the tapu, and the other against it." 

There was argument first, said the taua. After the 
priests had called down the curse of Po and other gods 
of might on all who would invoke a popular judgment 
of a sacred and time-webbed commandment, the chiefs 
pictured the dangers to women and to canoes, to the 
tribe and the valley, if women broke loose from the 
centuried bonds that forbade canoeing. Older women 
and some younger beauties, the latter fearing hurt to 
their prestige by less luxurious belles, urged the in- 
violability of the tapu. 

The women of the Long House, the rebels, merely 
demanded instant casting of the amn nuts into the 
hoana. He himself, the tau^ said, then made the great 
error of his life. He swiftly counted in his mind those 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 269 

for and against, and, convinced that he had a huge ma- 
jority for the prevailing law and order, shouted out that 
the vavaotina, though long disused, was just and truly 
Marquesan. 

The troughs were brought from a near-by house to 
the beach, and the trial was staged. 

"At that moment," said the old priest, "a canoe which 
had been cunningly making its way to the shore, as if 
by a prearranged signal, suddenly took the breakers and 
came careening upon the sand. Out of it stepped 
Taipi, a woman of that red-headed tribe of Tahuata, 
arranged her kilt of tapa, and advanced. She was like 
an apparition, but fatal to my count. She was a mot 
kanahau, beautiful and strong, and the first woman who 
had ever come except as a prisoner from that fierce 
island. But she was stronger in her desires than any 
man. She was unbelieving and unafraid of sacred 
things. A hundred men sprang forward to greet 
Taipi. American, she was as the red jasmine, as the 
fire of the oven, odorous and lovely, but hot to the touch 
and scorching to know. That woman laughed at the 
men, and, as if word had been sent her, took her place 
among the women. She seized a candlenut and threw 
it exactly into the unholy hoana. 

" 'O men of Oomoa,' she cried, *so you fear that 
women may paddle faster and better than you ! Haame- 
tau hae! You are cowards. Look, I have come a 
night and a day alone, and no shark god has injured me 
and I am not weary.' 

"There followed a shower of candlenuts into the de- 
mon trough, as the stones from the slings in battle. 
We were beaten, as youth ever defeats age when new 



270 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

gods are powerful. Our day and the power of all tapus 
waned and ended soon. Once in the canoes those 
women made us release the tapu against their eating 
bananas and, later, pig. In a thousand years no Mar- 
quesan woman had tasted a banana or eaten pig. They 
were for the men and there were good reasons known 
to the gods. But let woman leave ever so little way the 
narrow path of obedience and of doing without things 
that are evil for her, and she knows no limits. She is 
without the koekoe, the spirit that is in man. The race 
has fallen on sorrow." 

He sat down on his powerful haunches and chanted 
an improvisation about the lost splendor. Low and 
mournful, the psalm of a Jeremiah, his deep voice rum- 
bled as he fixed his dark eyes on the great globes of the 
breadfruit hanging by the plaited roof of the hut. 

And through an opening of the forest came the two 
women of his household. Very White and Eyes of the 
Great Stars, heavily laden with their morning's catch 
of fish. They came tripping over the green carpet of 
the forest, laughing at some incident of their fishing, and 
threw down beside him the strung circles of shining ika, 
large and brilliant bonito, the mackerel of brilliancy, 
and the maoo, the gay and gaudy flying-fish. 

"Oh, ho! sorcerer," said I. "Did ever men match 
with the cunning of these scaly ones with greater luck? 
The stones are ready for their broiling." 

The taua made a wry face and stirred his sauce. He 
dipped a popo into it and ate it greedily, bones and all. 

^'E, er he said and spat out the words. "Piau! 
The women catch their own fish now." 



CHAPTER XIV 

The palace of the governor of the Marquesas in the vale of Atuona — 
Monsieur L'Hermier des Plantes, Ghost Girl, Miss Tail, and Song 
of the Nightingale — Tapus in the South Seas — Strange conventions 
that regulate life — A South Seas Pankhurst — How women won their 
freedom. 

IN Mapuhi's store, on the counter, taken from the 
cabin of the County of Roxburgh, lay twenty-five 
pearls. They were of different values, two or three 
magnificent in size, in shape, and in luster, the fruit 
of Mapuhi's tribe's harvest in Takaroa Lagoon. He 
displaj^ed them to me and others the night before I was 
to sail with Lying Bill for the Marquesas Islands. 
Aaron Mandel was about to buy them, and as the 
Parisian dealer and Mapuhi discussed their worth. Bill, 
McHenry, Kopcke, Nimau, and others added their 
opinions. 

"If you paid for these pearls what they cost in suffer- 
ing, and in proportion to the earnings of a diver in 
his lifetime, you would offer me ten times what you do," 
said Mapuhi. "The white women who wear these poc 
can never know the dangers or the pain endured by 
our people. Two have aninia, vertigo, and one has 
been made permanently deaf this rahui." 

"I agree with you," replied Mandel, "that nothing 
of money can balance what you Paumotuans go through 
to gather shells, but in many parts of the world divers 
of other races are doing the same. They don't go as 
deep as you do, because their waters are shallower, but 

271 



272 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

they fix the price for pearls. I have seen them from 
Ceylon to Australia, and I have to meet their compe- 
tition when I take these pearls to Paris where the 
market is. Also, Mapuhi, the culture pearl is every 
year hurting our trade more and more, and some day 
may make pearls so cheap that you will get a third of 
what you do now. You remember the Taote of 
Pukapukar 

"That was the devil's magic, and it will not be again," 
said Mapuhi. "Man who loves and serves the true 
God will never interfere with his secrets, but will accept 
what he offers for man's struggles and torments. The 
Taote was tempted by Satan, and his sin was terribly 
punished." 

Mandel smiled. 

"Yes the Taote got a rough deal," he admitted. 
"But his pearls made another man's fortune, and as- 
tonished all who saw them in Paris. Let me tell you! 
Last year I visited three culture fields, and they are 
doing wonderful things. The Japanese for many years 
only copied the methods of the Chinese. They forced 
the fresh water mussel and the abalone to coat with na- 
cre substances they inserted within their folds, but they 
got no pearls of the best size, shape, or luster. Now, 
Kokichi Mikimoto has gone much further than any- 
body. I spent a week with him at his pearl farm in the 
bay of Ago in the Inland Sea of Japan. The bay is 
a dozen miles long and five wide, with an average depth 
of sixty feet, but it is remarkably free from currents 
and severe storms. Mikimoto is a scientist as was the 
Taote, He opens a three-year-old shell and lays a 
bead of nacre on the outer, shell-secreting skin of the 




From the painting by Oscar F. Schmidt 

A young palm in Atuona 




From the painting by Oscar F. Schmidt 

Atuona valley and the peak of Temetiu 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 273 

oyster. This skin is then dissected off the oyster and 
fitted about the bead like a sac. This sac is then trans- 
planted into the tissues of another oyster in its shell, an 
astringent is sprinkled on the wound, and the second 
oyster is planted in the prepared bed at anywhere from 
twenty-five to eighty feet. It stays there from three 
to seven years, and then his girl diver brings it up. 
Mind you, he has laid down suitable rocks in certain 
shallow places, and when they are covered with oyster 
spat they are removed to deeper beds and set out in 
order. It is these which are dissected at three years of 
age, and the nuclei inserted in them. These beads are 
of all colors, mother-of-pearl or pink or blue coral, and 
the pearls are of the color, white or pink or blue, of the 
beads. The oysters often spit them out, the starfish 
and octopus ravage the beds, and the red current some- 
times spoils everything for a year. They have similar 
farms in other parts of Japan, and in Australia and 
Ceylon, but Mikimoto has done most. He sells mil- 
lions of pearls every year. Of course they are blisters 
and so not orient or perfect, ^because the bead has 
touched the shell while growing, and has not remained 
in the folds of the oyster. But I am afraid, for I was 
told a few months ago that Mikimoto and others were 
making perfect pearls. If they do they will ruin the 
market." 

"You can tell the difference between natural and 
culture pearls in any case?" I asked. 

"Mais oui! If you cut open the grafted pearl you 
find the center a bead or bit of coral, but in the true 
pearl the center is a grain of sand, or a hollow formerly 
occupied by the tapeworm or parasite. Well, you 



274 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

won't make any money cutting pearls open, so we use 
the ultra-violet ray. Most of Mikimoto's pearls are 
about as big as French peas, and, as I say, lack spheri- 
city because of attachment to the inner shells. But, 
mind you, his oysters are merely the avicule or wing- 
shelled kind, and small. Here are these Paumotu shells 
from six to eighteen inches across and the oj^sters in pro- 
portion. Think of what they might do, if they were put 
to work by science and — " 

"They were once," broke in Kopcke. "My girl's 
father knows all about it." 

"I know much about it, too," said Mandel; "and I 
have never known just what to believe. I only know 
that some one sold a string of pearls in Paris finer 
than any in the world, and they are now in New York. 

"The Empress Eugenie's necklace came from here, 
and so did Queen Victoria's five-thousand-pound pearl, 
but these were said to be finer." 

"For heaven's sake!" I exclaimed. "Tell me what 
j'-ou do know of this mysterious Taote and his tragedy. 
Mapuhi has put the devil to work in it. I have been 
hearing talk about it since I landed in Tahiti." 

"Come down to my shack," said Kopcke, "and I 
will get old Tepeva a Tepeva to tell you his part of it." 

"I will finish with Mapuhi," Mandel said, "and will 
be along in ten minutes." 

That the fixing of a price for the twenty-five pearls 
was not to be concluded in public was evident, and so 
Kopcke, Lying Bill, and we others sauntered to 
Kopcke's hut. Nowhere do whites despise one an- 
other as feelingly as in the South Seas. Their compe- 
tition in business and in love is so intimate and so acute 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 275 y 

that there are no distances nor withholdings of emotion. 
The finesse and impersonal euchering of rivals practised 
on mainlands is not copied in this hotter and more prim- 
itive mart where adversaries are of ruder breed, and 
courtesy is considered weakness. As we strolled under 
the palms to Kopcke's house, McHenry said to me, 
"This Taote, this doctor or magician they gab about, 
I knew better than anybody else, an' he was a bloomin' 
queer 'un. I kept a store at Penrhyn for years, and 
this fellow was around there studyin' the lagoon. 
Everybody called him Doc, but whether he was a M. D. 
I don't know. He had a tool-chest, though, like a 
jbloody sawbones, and could fix a cut or saw off an 
arm fine. He had michaelscropes and all sorts o' pro- 
fessor junk, an' he was good-hearted, and had money 
enough, too." 

"I remember the fellow well," Lying Bill interposed. 
" 'E was a han'some man, big as Landers, and dark as 
Llewellyn. 'E 'ad gold 'air, but never wore a 'at, 
blow 'igh, blow low, an' so 'is 'air was so bleedin' sun- 
burned, it was all colors. 'E was a furriner, an' 'ad 
studied in Germany, — if 'e was n't a German, — though 
'e was a reg'ler poUyglut and parlayed every lingo. 'E 
'ad a 'ole chemist shop with 'im on Penrhyn. I used 
to see 'im treatin' the lepers and studyin' oysters night 
an' day. At first, I thought he might be a buyer, an' 
watched 'im, but he 'ad no time for tradin'. In the 
divin' season 'e was alwa,ys around the lagoons, an' 
'e 'd look at every pearl and the shell it come out of. 
'E was a myst'ry, 'e was, an' made no friends with any- 
body. The natives called 'im Itataupoo Taote, 'Atless 
Doctor. 'E played a deep game, 'e did." 



276 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

At Kopcke's shack he made us welcome. Lamps 
were hghted, and cigarettes and a black bottle of rum 
set on the counter. 

"I '11 go and hunt up the old man to spin you the 
yarn," said Kopcke, and disappeared in the dark- 
ness of the outside. Mandel came before he returned, 
and as the talk was still on the Taote he gathered up 
his thread of it. 

"This magician's name was Horace Sassoon, and he 
was of a rich and fine family in England/' said Mandel. 
"I knew much about him because I cashed his drafts 
more than once. He was a medical doctor, educated 
in Germany, France, and England, and he had been 
seven or eight years in India. While in Ceylon or the 
Arabian Gulf he investigated the pearl fisheries and got 
interested in the processes of mother-of-pearl secretion 
by oysters. I think he was a real savant, and that he 
had a strong interest in the treatment of lepers by the 
chaulmoogra oil and the X-ray. He told me that he 
wanted to endow a great institution in India, but that 
he was unable to raise the funds. Me, I am credulous, 
but I believe the institution was a beautiful woman who 
spent much money. He had an income sent from Paris 
to Tahiti, and the drafts, not large, came through my 
house. I would meet him, as you men did, in Papeete 
or in these atolls, or Penrhyn, wherever there was diving, 
but I never suspected his game, though three or four 
times he said to me, 'I will have all the money I need 
some day if I am right in my theories.' I lost track of 
him, and did not associate with him the big pearls that 
came to Paris until I saw the pearl Woronick bought, 
and heard Tepeva a Tepeva's account. I won't spoil 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 277 

it by repeating it, and anyhow, here he is 1 nself!" 

Kopcke entered with his girl and her father. The 
latter was a very big man, the wreck of a giant. He 
was sadly afflicted; he would take a step, and stop, and 
then his head would roll over on his shoulder. Each 
time he started to move, he went through convulsive 
tremors as if winding himself up for the next step — and 
I recognized the paralysis which seizes the diver who 
has dived too often and too deep. 

'^Maite rii, Tamahine! Go slow, daughter!" he was 
saying, as he seized a post and let himself down to the 
floor, where he squatted. 

"He was about the best diver in the group, but the 
bends have got him," said Kopcke. 

" 'E 's a Mormon," Lying Bill blurted, "an' 'e won't 
touch the rum." Bill helped himself, stood the bottle 
before him, and began to doze. 

"My father," said Kopcke, "here is a Marite from far 
across the sea, who wants to know of your adventure 
with the Taote who gave you the pearl." 

Tepeva a Tepeva shaded his eyes with his hand and 
peered at me. "Ola ia! It is well I" he stuttered. 
His eyes fell upon the bottle, and remained fastened 
upon it. 

"Would not Tepeva a Tepeva wish to refresh him- 
self?" I said quietly, and passed the bottle to the crip- 
ple. He took it, weighed it, removed the cork, smelt the 
contents, and poured out a shellful, — a third of a pint, 
— ^tossed it off, smacked his lips as if it were cocoanut 
milk, and began to speak more freely. 

'^^Ea^ that ramu is good. I do not drink it as a Mor- 
mon but because I am weak. It is mdkivi, this thing I 



278 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tell you. It is stranger than the stick of Moses turn- 
ing into a sea-snake. It costs me dear, as you see, 
though it paid me well. I am as I am, a cracked canoe, 
because of it. But I have my house, and all the debts 
of my family are paid, and I owe Mapuhi a Mapuhi 
not a sou. It is good to be free. I was a diver at 
Penrhyn for the British when I met the foreigner. He^ 
was a Taote. He said that he was trying to cure the 
lepers. He had a wonderful medicine. He did not let 
them drink it, but put it into their arms through a pipe. 
But also he watched the diving. Doc, they called him, 
and he never covered his head. But no man said Ita- 
taupoo to him. He was no man to laugh at. He spat 
his words and was done, but he would mend a broken 
bone, or cure a coral cut or the wound of a swordfish. 
He looked through a tube with a glass in it at blood 
from the lepers, and at pearls and oysters. He had 
lamps that made a light like the blue sky. Through 
his tube the water from our wells was as a fish-pond. 
Hours and hours he watched the shells being opened, 
and every pearl he must see, and the shell from which 
it came. I thought he searched for a pearl to charm 
the leprosy. All through the rahui he stayed in Pen- 
rhyn. He went to Tahiti on the Pani. I was on the 
Pani, and much we talked about oysters and the dif- 
ferent lagoons. 

"I came to Takaroa, my home. Months afterward 
the Taote arrived here in a ten-ton cutter. He had 
but one sailor, a Tahitian, Terii. They lived in that 
house over there. I would not go into that house 
now for ten tons of shell. It is ihoiho. When the 
moon is dark a spirit dances there, the spirit of Mauraii. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 279 

He was my cousin, and the Taote hired him to help 
the other man. One day the Taote began to buy pro- 
visions, a great quantity which were stored in the cut- 
ter with other big boxes, as if for a long voyage. They 
sailed away, Terii and Mauraii, too. 'Nuku-Hiva 
will see me next,' said the Taote to us all. That was 
a lie, but I did not know it then. Thev went to Puka- 
puka. It is a little atoll, toward the Marquesas, and 
far from any other island. Mauraii had dived there, 
and the Taote knew that. Five moons later the cutter 
sailed into this lagoon. Mauraii was with the Taote, 
but Terii was not. The Taote paid Mauraii, and left 
in the cutter with another sailor. For two years 
Mauraii lived without labor. For two years his jaws 
remained tight as the jaws of the pahua. He spoke 
well of the Taote, but he was afraid. When I asked 
him more about Terii, he would not talk. Terii had 
eaten poisonous fish, he said once. He had trodden on 
the nohu, he said another time. I knew Mauraii had 
not been to the Marquesas. He was a Mormon, Mau- 
raii, and he prayed like a man with a secret. 

"We forget soon, and it was four years when Patasy 
came in the Potii Taaha, his own cutter. He was of 
Irelani, and drank much ramu. The cutter was leaky, 
and Mauraii worked to calk the seams. Patasy gave 
him hardly any money, but food, and night rum. Mau- 
raii, with rum in him, would now make many words 
to Patasy, and to me. He spoke of a secret that lay 
between him and the Taote. He spoke of an oath he 
had sworn on the book of Mormon and the picture of 
Birigahama Younga. He spoke of something at 
Pukapuka that was growing bigger and bigger. The 



280 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Taote was in his native land, and would return soon, 
and they would both be very rich. Mauraii's talk was 
like a cloudy day that does not let one see far. Some- 
times I would ask him about Terii, who had gone with 
Mauraii, and who had not come back. That would still 
his big word-making. He would shake a little then, 
all over. He would say: 'I must not talk, Tepeva 
a Tepeva; I must not talk.' But with more rum he 
would talk. He was worried, though. He stopped 
going to the temple ; he lived on Patasy's cutter. Often 
I saw him lying on the deck, full of drink. 

"One night he came to my house late. His heart 
was very heavy. He had been drinking with Patasy, 
and he had done something wrong. He cursed Patasy. 
He said that Patasy had forced him to do evil — that he, 
Mauraii, had taken an oath, and that now, this night, he 
had broken it. It would bring him harm. The Taote 
was coming back soon. Mauraii shook when he said 
that, shook just as he did when I would ask him what 
had become of the companion who had gone with him to 
Pukapuka and had never come back. 

^'E mea au! I am not the man to search the heart 
of a brother for what should be hidden. But having 
broken his oath and told his secret to Patasy, I thought 
it right he should tell it to me. But he would say no 
more. And he sailed away alone with Patasy. 

"For many weeks we heard nothing more of Mauraii. 
Then from sailors who came from Tahiti we heard that 
he and Patasy had returned to Papeete in a month. 
Then we heard that Patasy had sold his cutter and had 
taken steamship away to his own country. He never 
came back. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 281 

"Mauraii stayed in Papeete. Every little while we 
heard about him. He had much money, and he was 
drinking all day in the Paris rum store, and dancing 
the nights with the Tahiti Magadalenas in the Cocoa- 
nut House. 

"When Mauraii had spent all his money the French 
Government brought him back to Takaroa, and he was 
mad. Something had broken in his belly, where the 
thinking-parts are. He would sit all day, looking at 
the lagoon and saying nothing. Never did he say any- 
thing. Sometimes he would shake all over. And all 
the time his back was bent as if some one was coming 
from behind to strike him. 

"It was a long time after this that the Taote returned, 
on the Moana. He came first to my house. He asked 
me where Mauraii was, and I told him Mauraii was 
here, but was maamaa, that he was possessed of the 
demon. He asked me if it was a talking demon, if it 
made Mauraii say everything there was in his head. I 
told him it was the other way. The poor man said 
nothing, but sat by the lagoon all day, and was fed and 
cared for by the women. 

" 'Let us go to see Mauraii !' he said. He was angry, 
and I was afraid, and I went with him. I knew where 
Mauraii would be, and I pointed him out. He was 
sitting in the shade of a purau tree, looking at the la- 
goon. The Taote went to him and spoke to him. 
Mauraii fell flat, and then he crawled about the sand, 
and shouted to me not to let the Taote kill him, too. 
This made him more angry, and he said that Mauraii 
was really maamaa^ and that nothing could be done 
for him. Mauraii ran to his house when he had turned 



282 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

his back. After the Moana had gone on her way to 
Nuku-Hiva, the Taote asked me if I could go with him 
to another island. I did not want to go. If I had not 
gone, I would not be ajs I am, but then I would not have 
my house, and all the debts paid of my family. 

"I said that I had work here. But he said he would 
be gone but a couple of weeks, and that he would give 
me ten taras a day, and that I would have no hard work. 
Mapuhi and Nohea were absent. No white elders were 
here to advise me. Finally I said I would go, though 
when I looked at Mauraii and saw what he was, I was 
afraid. He said we must take Mauraii with us. We 
had hard work to get Mauraii on the cutter. When 
we did, which was at night, we put him in the hold and 
closed the hatch and sailed out of the pass. It was my 
own cutter, but the Taote had provided food, and his 
big boxes were in the hold with Mauraii. 

"Once outside the reef, the Taote said he would go 
almost due east, and that Pukapuka was our island. 
I said that Pukapuka had no people on it, and he said 
that was true. I said that Pukapuka was closed to the 
diving, and he said that was true. But we went on 
toward Pukapuka. When we slid the cover off the 
hatch to the hold, Mauraii came up, and when he saw 
we were at sea and that the Taote was so near him, he 
shivered like a diver who has had a struggle with a shark. 
I thought he would leap into the water, and often he 
looked at it with longing. But the Taote talked to him 
strongly, and put medicine in his arm. 

"We steered and trimmed sail by turn. The wind 
was fair, and we reached Pukapuka in five days. We 
had a hard time to get the boxes ashore. There is no 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 283 

pass, and you cannot reach the lagoon from the sea. 
We had brought a small boat lashed on the deck, and 
this we carried to the lagoon. It took us a day to 
move it, and we made Mauraii help. The man had 
changed since we landed on Pukapuka. He was not 
wild, but taata ravea paari. He was cunning. He 
smiled to himself sometimes in an evil way. We were 
no sooner on the lagoon than the Taote ordered me and 
that madman to build a hut and to rest ourselves for 
a day. 

"Pukapuka had not a man upon it. It is Y\ke a cocoa- 
nut-shell, round all about, and the lagoon deep, and 
full of yellow shell with yellow pearls. There are no 
poison fish in the water, as in some other islands. I 
thought of that, and of the man who had been here with 
Mauraii and had never come back. I was afraid. The 
Taote could make Mauraii sleep and sleep with one 
touch of a silver pipe on his arm. I was afraid. 

"The island is loved by the birds; it was their time 
for nesting, and the air was filled with them. That 
was the only sound. The Taote wore no hat, though 
the sun upon the coral was as stones heated to cook fish. 
When we had rested a day, the Taote, who had been 
most of the hours upon the lagoon, spoke to me of our 
mission, and we three rowed a little distance until I 
judged we were in water of seventeen fathoms. 

" *It is long,' said the Taote. 'It is five years since 
I was here, but I am sure of the spot. There was a 
cocoanut-tree that hid the village if I rowed from that 
rock we put there on shore, due west, five umi. There 
is the cocoanut, and it hides the huts the divers live in 
when the lagoon is open.' 



<< <-l 



<<1 



284. ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

'*You see how quiet this lagoon is? Well, that lagoon 
of Pukapuka was ten times more still. It made me 
shake as had Mauraii. But now he did not shake. He 
was all brightness, and his eyes were shining, though 
he said not a word. 

"The Taote took the titea mata and looked into the 
water. He could see little; his eyes were not strong. 
I went into the water, took the titea mata, stuck my 
head into it and gazed down into the sea. 

" 'Do you see shell, large shell?' he asked quickly, 
like a man who knows what is in a place. 
'I see shell,' I said. 
'Then dive and bring it up,' he commanded. 

'I said the prayer to Adam and to Birigahama 
Younga. I breathed long, and I went down. There 
was in my heart a fear of something strange. The 
bottom was at seventeen fathoms, a jungle of coral as 
big as the trees in Tahiti, with black caves and large 
flowers and sponges, and also many of the pahua, the 
great shell which closes like a trap and can drown a 
man. Dropping straightaway, I swam upon a ledge 
raised above the floor of the lagoon. There was a pair 
of shells, very large. But where there had been many, 
only this single pair remained. I moved along the 
ledge, and found that scores had been ripped from the 
same bed. A diver sees easily where shells have been. 

"'Robbed!' I said to myself. 'There has been a 
thief here.' Pukapuka had been closed to diving for 
six years, and it was forbidden to remove a shell. I 
swam over the face of the ledge, and was sure I had 
the sole remaining pair of this bed. I rose to the sur- 
face with them. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 285 

The Taote was hanging over the boat with his head 
in the titea mat a, watching me as I came up. As I 
hung on the boat to breathe, I saw Mauraii regarding 
him with a hateful eye, and I shook my fist at the fool. 
The foreigner took the shell quickly, and opened it, 
pulled the oyster out into a bowl, and searched it. 
Then with a little cry he held up a pearl, a poe matauiui, 
big and like a ball, as shiny as an eye. Bigger it was 
than any pearl I have ever seen. It was perfect in 
shape, and with a skin Hke the gleam of the sun on the 
lagoon. What Mauraii had said of the Taote growing 
things to make him rich came to my mind, as I saw this 
wonder-pearl shining in the Taote's hand. The for- 
eigner for a moment was as mad as Mauraii, and, taking 
hold of that man's hand, shook it and shook it. 

" 'Ah, Mauraii,' he shouted, 'now we are paid for 
those weeks of hell here! You shall have enough to 
eat and drink always.' 

"He laughed and clapped Mauraii on the shoulder, 
and the maamaa laughed foolishly, and began to dance 
in the boat. We had to pull him down, or he would 
have overturned it. 

" 'There are more than a hundred pearls like that,* 
said the Taote. 'I am richer than King Mapuhi, ten 
times as rich, and I can make all I want. I made it. 
I worked and worked to find out, and Mauraii put the 
things in the shell. I am a te Tumul' 

"I did not like that. Te Tumu is the creator. It 
is wrong to boast like that. And where was Terii, who 
had gone with Mauraii from Takaroa to Pukapuka? 
He would share in no wealth. And the madman beside 
me — what happiness left for him? 



286 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

" 'I teienei/ said the Taote, as he rubbed the pearl. 
'Go down and bring up as many as you can. When 
we did the sowing, I worked in a diver's dress. I have 
that machine in those boxes on the cutter. Maybe we 
should get it, for we will want more seed.' 

" 'There are no more shells in that bed,' I said. 'This 
was the only one there.' 

" 'No more shells there!' he screamed. 'You are mad 
like this fellow. We found a hundred and seven there, 
and we planted seed in each one. Each of them has a 
pearl as fine as this.' 

"He tried to be gentle again, though he sweated. He 
tried to explain. He had discovered the secret of the 
pearl; he had planted something in each shell as one 
might a cocoanut-sprout in the earth. There was much 
I did not understand, for no man had ever tried such 
blasphemy. The God that made these lagoons had 
wrapped them in the unknown, and had made pearls 
the dispensation of His will. 

" 'Whatever was done here by you,' I said, 'there are 
no more shells in that tiamaha. I searched it all about.' 

"He tried to laugh, but failed, and he looked at 
Mauraii. 

" 'A hundred and seven shells! It took us weeks,' 
he said. 'That was the number, Mauraii?' 

"The man possessed of the devil nodded his head and 
really laughed. It was an evil laugh. 

" 'A hundred and seven, and one — this one — makes 
a hundred and six,' said he. He smiled, and I went 
cold. I knew that before he went mad, Mauraii did 
not know how to count. The devil was in him. 

"The Taote breathed hard. 'Tepeva a Tepeva,' he 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 287 

said, 'go down again. It is possible that this is not the 
bed. We placed a small anchor beside it. Look for 
that. I worked seventeen years for this day.' 

"Again I went into the water, and to the bottom. 
I found the place where I had pried off the oyster with 
the great pearl. Digging in the sand and ooze, I found 
the anchor. I saw plainly the empty cups of the 
oysters that had been, and I counted them roughly and 
made them about a hundred. I stayed a full minute 
and a half, and I hated to go up. I did not like to 
meet that wise man looking at me in a terrible way 
when he should see me empty-handed. But I had to 
go. I was exhausted when I reached the sunlight, and 
until I had gained my breath and my blood was quiet, 
I did not turn to the Taote. 

" 'No more shell?' he said quietly. 'You are lying! 
You are lying! You are trying to cheat me. Look 
out! Look out! Ask Mauraii what I did to — but the 
shell are there. I can see them with the glass. Come, 
we will get the diving-machine.' 

"He cursed me, and said I was trying to steal his 
wealth. What he saw through the titea mata was the 
gleam of the 'pahua, the great shell the priests use for 
holy water. I said no more, and with Mauraii went to 
the beach. It was night when we had brought the 
machine to the boat, and we returned to the cutter for 
food. I shall not forget that night. The foreigner 
could not sleep, and he talked to me. He talked as if he 
had a fever. He said he had tried for years to find out 
what made pearls in oysters, and to do the work of God. 
While others had made small ones that clung to the 
shell, he alone had found the way to put in the shells 



288 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

large beginnings for the oysters to cover. He had 
chosen Pukapuka because it had a lagoon without a 
pass, and so free from currents, and because it was 
closed to diving and no one lived there. No one knew 
of it, he said — no one but himself and Mauraii. 

"I thought of Patasy, of the Totii Taaha.' Of 
what Mauraii had told me when in rum. Of his going 
away with Patasy and coming back to Tahiti, there to 
drink and dance in the Cocoanut House. 

"But I said nothing, for I was afraid. Mauraii had 
slept ashore. In the morning we found him praying 
and singing by the lagoon. We went out in the boat, 
and set up the diving-machine, and the Taote told me 
to put on the dress. 

" 'I and Mauraii will work the pump,' he said. *You 
stay down ten minutes at least, and search the bottom 
all about there. Maybe we were mistaken in the exact 
spot.' He spoke like a good friend, now. 

"I had said nothing about the anchor, because I was 
afraid. I sank down to the bottom, and first looked 
that the air came freely and that I was not entangled. 
Then I walked about and saw that a diver had been 
there. The whole bank had been gathered. The one 
shell had escaped merely because the thief had so willed 
it. I sat down and waited for the ten minutes to go, 
and I wished I was in Takaroa. Pukapuka Lagoon 
had many sharks. In the years that had passed since 
the last diving season they had grown big. When I 
was still, they came by me, and through the glasses I 
saw their ugly faces staring at me. I frightened them 
away with the air from my wrist, or I clapped my hands 
in a diver's way. I had my back to the rock bank. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 289 

At last a signal came on the rope, and I had to let them 
pull me up." 

Tepeva a Tepeva's voice was weak. He poured him- 
self the last drink of rum. Kopcke had gone to at- 
tend to the loading and Lying Bill was snoring on the 
floor. 

"Slowly they lifted me, but it seemed to me like a 
second. 

"What look the Taote had, I do not know. I did 
not turn to him until my helmet was unscrewed, and 
I had taken off the coat. Without meeting his eyes, I 
said, 'No shells.' 

"'No shells! My God!' he said. 'Are you blind? 
Did you not the first time bring up this? Mauraii 
knows well there are a hundred and six more. Is not 
that true, Mauraii?' he said, coaxingly. 

"The madman laughed. 'A hundred and six more/ 
he replied; 'and to hell with Patasy.' 

"This moment the eyes of the Taote met me. He 
was shivering, as Mauraii had shivered when he left 
Takaroa. 

" 'Give me the helmet!' he ordered. 'Help me put it 
on. I will know. I will know!' 

"He put the pearl in a purse, and the purse in a 
pocket of the diving-coat. A knife was in his belt. I 
fastened the coat and the belt and tied the strings at the 
wrist. I put the lead weights on his breast and back, 
and lowered him into the water. Before I screwed the 
helmet tight, I said to him: 'Go slowly! Walk care- 
fully! Don't bend too low!' 

"Mauraii fed the pump as I let out the line, and when 
I felt the weight of the line, I took the pump myself. 



290 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Now, a man like me, who has dived with the machine 
for years, knows every motion of the hne. 

The Taote was not moving slowly and cautiously. 
He stopped, and f onfive minutes there was little motion. 

^'AueoT I thought. He has found the robbed bank, 
and the anchor. He knows the truth. He will come 
up now. What will I dor? He will be terrible. 

"Suddenly I felt a drag at the rope, swift and hard; 
not the steady pull of walking. 

"He has fallen, tripped and fallen, and cannot get 
up! That was my thought. 

" 'Mauraii,' I said, 'yon man the pump alone. Go 
smoothly ! If you fail, I will kill you !' 

"I leaped in, and swam straight down. The for- 
eigner was on the bottom, lying on his face. I raised 
his body, light as a shell in that depth. There was a 
great rip in the front of the coat. The air rushed from 
it, but there was no motion of his body. The knife in 
his hand had been used to destroy himself. He had 
seen the work of the thief and had cut open the coat. 
The devil of despair had done that with him. 

"A diver thinks quickly. I could not bring him to 
the top unless Mauraii aided. I signaled by the rope. 
There was no reply. The air was not being pumped. 
It had stopped as I lifted him. Mauraii had left his 
duty. I had one chance. I might unscrew the heavy 
helmet, and cut the leads and carry him, with the aid of 
the line, to the surface. He might not be dead yet. I 
seized the helmet, cut the hose, and began to turn the 
metal helmet. As I did so, I saw a shadow over my 
head, and laid hold of my knife. It was not a shark. 
It was Mauraii. He was dancing and smiling, dancing 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 291 

and smiling, as in the Cocoanut House in Papeete. He 
slowly settled down in the water. He took hold of me 
as I twisted at the helmet, and he smiled at me, and 
danced on a ledge of coral. Below this, I saw one 
of those giant pahua. Aue! Marite! This pair was 
as long as I am, and as deep as my legs. The great 
animal in it had opened his doors to eat, and as Mauraii 
leaped about in his mad dancing from rock to rock, he 
stepped into the jaws of the pahua. Aue! They 
closed as the jaws of the turtle upon the fish, and held 
the fool as if he was buried. He was fast to the knees, 
and fell over upon me as I worked at the helmet, his 
head hanging down by my feet. 

"My lungs were bursting, my heart beating my breast. 
I had been more than three minutes a hundred feet be- 
low the air. I had been using my strength. I pushed 
the fool away. Suddenly I felt my leg seized, and the 
grip of teeth upon my flesh. I sprang up, pulling at 
the rope to give me force, and calling on Adam for help. 

"Minutes it was before I could crawl into the boat. 
I lay there many minutes before I could stand up. The 
blood was upon my leg, and the marks of teeth. They 
were not the teeth of a fish, but of a man. I prayed for 
guidance. The Taote was dead, and Mauraii, too. 
What could I do for them? Nothing! Yet I heard 
a whisper in my ear to go down. I slipped into the 
water and swam to the bottom. I never touched the 
sand. I saw the bodies of the Taote and Mauraii 
fought over by a dozen sharks. I had prayed, and I 
had a knife in my hand. Even a shark fears a bold man. 
tl struck at them right and left and reached the ledge 
where the Taote lay. I slashed at the coat and cut 



292 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

away the pocket. The water was red with blood about 
me, but I shot up past the sharks with the purse, and 
reached the boat. I took the oars and rowed as fast 
as I could to shore. There I knelt and thanked Adam 
and letu Kirito for my life. 

"I ran across the reef and swam to the cutter. I cut 
away the anchor and raised the sail and left the abode 
of the demon. Fakaina I reached in two days; and, 
with a Takaroa man who was there, I put the cutter 
about and sailed for home. 

"What does the Book say? In the midst of life we 
are in death. I had stayed under too long in the lagoon 
of Pukapuka. Like a thunderbolt came on me the 
diver's sickness — and I am as I am." 

Lying Bill had been awake for several minutes. 

"You did mighty well," he commented. "You saved 
the pearl and the Doc's money for yourself. There 's 
three men et up by sharks. You sold the pearl to Wor- 
onick for twenty-five thousand francs. . . . And by the 
bloody star of Mars, you 've drunk all the rum while 
I 've been asleep! Come on, O'Brien! Let 's get the 
bloomin' 'ell out of 'ere to the schooner ! We 've got to 
sail at sun-up for the Marquesas." 

Tepeva a Tepeva, the man stricken by the bends, was 
still squatting on the floor inmiersed in his pregnant 
memories when I shook his hand, and went to bid good- 
by to my friends of the atolls where life is harder but 
simpler and sweeter than elsewhere in the world. 
Mapuhi and Nohea rubbed my back, and commended 
me to God. The wind was fluttering wildly the fronds 
of the cocoanut-trees, and the surf was heavy as we 
rowed through the passage and moat and struck the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 293 

breakers on the outer reef. From the sea for a few 
minutes the lanterns in the houses were Hke fireflies in 
the cane, but soon the darkness hid them, and I saw only 
the black shadow of the inotus, and the gleam of the 
foaming crests of the waves in the faint starlight. I 
lay down on a mat by the steering-wheel of the Fetia 
Taiao, and dreamed of the Taote and the dancing 
Maurai in the trap of the giant pahua. 

I awoke with the cries of the sailors raising the main- 
sail, and the motion of the vessel through the water. 
We were off with a fair wind for the Land of the War 
Fleet. 



CHAPTER XV 

The dismal abode of the Peyrals — S^tark-white daughter of Peyral — Only 
wMte maiden in the Marquesas — I hunt wild bulls — Peyral's friend- 
liness — I vii^it his house — He strikes me and threatens to kill me — I 
go armed — Explanation of the bizarre tragi comedy. 

AS I walked up from the beach of Atuona, where 
I had touched the shore of the Marquesas for 
the first time, I had remarked a European 
dwelling, squalid, forbidding and peculiarly desolate. 
Painted black originally, the heat and storms of years 
had worn and defaced it, the sun had shrunk the boards 
from one another, and posts and beams had gone awry. 
It was set in a cocoanut-grove, the trees so close to- 
gether that their huge fronds joined and roofed out sky 
and light. The narrow road along the grove had been 
raised later, and formed a dike so that with the heavy 
rains of the season the land all about was a gloomy 
marsh to which the sun seldom penetrated. The dingy 
gallery of the house fronting the road had a broken rail 
and dilapidated stairs, and in the shallow swamp and 
about the entrance were cast-off articles of household 
and plantation. A dismaying mingling of decayed 
European inventions with native bareness framed a dis- 
mal and foreboding scene, contrasting with the bril- 
liancy of nature in the open. 

I had felt a sudden fear of the possibilities of degra- 
dation, as if the dreary house were a symbol of the 
white man's deterioration in these wild places. A sense 

294 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 295 

of physical and spiritual abandonment to alien environ- 
ment, without fitness of soul or habit, depressed me. 

As we passed, I saw on the veranda a girl of sixteen 
or seventeen, with a white face and light blue eyes. Her 
long yellow hair was slightly confined by a piece of rib- 
bon, but hung down loose on her rounded shoulders. 
She wore a blue cotton gown, becoming and not in keep- 
ing with her soiled and frayed surroundings. She 
seemed not to notice us until we were opposite her, 
when she raised her head and glanced at us a moment. 
Those off the schooner she must have known, for she 
fixed her eyes on me the fleeting instant of her gaze. 
They had the innocence and appeal of a fawn and the 
melancholy and detachment of a cloistered nun. There 
was no curiosity in them, though we were the only white 
visitors in months, and had come with the new governor, 
who had landed but the day before. A second or two 
her eyes met mine and conveyed an unconscious message 
of youth and sorrow, of^ budding womanhood that had 
had no guidance or companionship, and only sad 
dreams. 

From the room opening on the gallery a man came 
and shouted to us "Bon jourr in a raven-like croak. 
He was in soiled overalls, barefooted, and reeling drunk. 
His brown hair and beard had not been cut for months 
or years, and rudely margined his bloated, grievous face, 
of rugged strength, in which grim despair contended 
with fierce pride. 

"That is Peyral," said Ducat, the second mate of the 
Fetia Taiao. He is always half-seas over, except when 
he sews. He is the village tailor, and makes the priest's 
gowns and clothes for any one who will buy them. 



296 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

That daughter of his is the only white girl in the Mar- 
quesas. She is all white, and he keeps her chained in 
that dark house as if he was afraid some one would eat 
her." 

"You know bloody well why 'e keeps 'er there," said 
Lying Bill. " 'E knows you an' me and 'Allman and 
'earty bucks like us is not to be trusted ; 'at 's why ! I 
knew 'er mother and 'er grandparents. 'E was a Brit- 
ish calvary officer 'oo 'ad served in Injia, an' come 'ere 
with 'is wife, an Irish lady, to take charge of the store 
an' plantation now owned by the Germans at Tahaaku. 
They 'ad one daughter. Peyral was a non-com. on a 
French war-ship that come 'ere to shoot up the natives, 
an' 'e was purty good to look at then. 'E could do any- 
thing, an' when 'e got 'is papers from the French navy 
'e went to work for the plantation, courted the girl, an', 
when 'er parents were n't lookin', married 'er. They 
died, an' 'e set up a proper 'ouse 'ere, an' was bloomin' 
prosp'rous till 'is wife died o' the pokoko, this gallopin' 
consumption that takes off the natives. Then he give 
in, and went to 'ell. 'E 'as three girls, two little ones, 
an' 'ow they live I don't know. When 'is wife died 'e 
painted that 'ouse black, an' 'e ain't touched it since. 
'E gathers 'is copra, an' makes a few clo's now an' 'en, 
an' spends all the money on absinthe. The girl looks 
after 'er sisters, but 'e guards 'er like a bleedin' dragon. 
She never goes off the veranda there now except to 
church on Sundays and 'ohdays. I don't know what '11 
'e do with 'er, but 'e '11 kill any one that goes too near 
'er like Ducat 'ere or meself." 

When I was settled in the House of the Golden Bed, 
as the Marquesans called the cabin I had rented from 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 297 

Apporo, the wife of Great Fern, in exchange for my 
brass bed at my departure, I went almost every day with 
Exploding Eggs to the beach to fish or swim or to ride 
the surf on a board. The road wended from my house 
past the garden of the palace and thence to the sea. 
Between the governor's and the beach was only Peyral's 
noisome residence, and twice a day I passed it within 
a few feet. Sometimes he was at his sewing-machine 
on the veranda, or gathering the cocoanuts that had 
fallen and drying them in the sun, but generally the 
shaggy Breton was in a stupor or murmurously intox- 
icated, sitting on a bench or lying on the ground, and 
talking to himself in the way of morose, unsocial men 
when inebriated. His daughter was usually on the ve- 
randa sewing by hand, or apparently wrapt in thoughts 
which obscured her consciousness and painted despond- 
ence on her countenance. I tried not to stare at her, 
but when I made sure that she was oblivious of me, or 
intentionally not seeing, I observed her narrowly. 

How could she have preserved that miraculous blond- 
ness in these islands? It was amazing. Her skin was 
like the inside of a cocoanut, smooth as satin. The 
years in that shadowy house had bleached her white flesh 
until it was pearl-like in transparency, the blue veins as 
in fine marble. Though hardly seventeen her figure 
was the luxuriant one of these latitudes, rounded as the 
breadfruit, curving in opulency under her single gar- 
ment, a diaphanous tunic. Her hair that I had judged 
yellow at first sight was silver-gold, almost as white as 
her flesh, but with glints of topaz and amber. Silky, glis- 
tening, as fine as the filament of a web, it did not hide her 
shapely ears and fell in profusion almost to her waist. 



298 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

I never saw her smile. Her azure eyes had wept 
until their fountains were dried. She was numb, mute, 
never having seen aught in sleep but ghosts. She was, 
in this voluptuous atmosphere, herself voluptuous in 
contour and color, but frozen. A thousand brutal 
words from Peyral must have made her so. In drunk- 
enness he was harsh, and in less violent hours sullen and 
suspicious. The children feared him as Nancy had 
Bill Sykes, but there was a powerful attachment 
between them. He must have described to her horrible 
things that he guarded her against, and have threatened 
unspeakable punishments if she disobeyed him. 

Daughter of Europeans, granddaughter of Celt and 
Anglo-Saxon, this girl did not know her father's or 
mother's language but feebly, and had no more knowl- 
edge of or contact with the world of her forefathers than 
if she were all Marquesan. I fancied her spirit infi- 
nitely confused by her blood and her surroundings, 
vague aspirations perhaps stirring her to desire for other 
things than the savage and stupid ones about her. In 
the church she must have had some respite. I watched 
her there a number of times, bowed over her Marquesan 
book of the ritual, reciting the prayers, and beating her 
sweet breast at the mea culpa as might the most repen- 
tant sinner or worst hypocrite. 

No one called on Peyral save a very occasional buyer 
of copra or an infrequent customer for clothes. These, 
prevalently, met him on the trail or at church, and dealt 
with him there. Either his jealous solitude was re- 
spected, or disagreeable experiences had caused the vil- 
lagers to shun his dwelling. He himself infrequently 
dropped in at the store of Le Brunnec, or the German's 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 299 

establishment at Tahaaku where he had wooed the, 
daughter of the English officer and the Irish exile. At 
the Catholic church only was he a regular attendant, 
sitting in the rear by the pahua shell holy-water font, 
and mumbling the responses. The children were in the 
pews, the sexes separated, and I, the few times I was 
there, at the door where the breeze was freshest and I 
might go out unseen. One Sunday he spoke to me. I 
was as astonished as if Father David had begun a hula 
at the altar. 

"You are American," he said in French, his voice 
hoarse and broken. 

I said I was and that I had come to the islands to stay 
an uncertain length of time. We exchanged the day's 
greetings after that, and when Painter Le Moine and 
I were examining the remains of the studio of Paul 
Gauguin, whx) had died here ten years before, it was 
Peyral who showed us how everything had been and who 
told me of his daily intercourse with the famous sym- 
bolist. Thus we struck up a real acquaintance, if not 
friendship, and he would tarry a quarter of an hour on 
my paepae to drink a shell of rum -and to talk about 
copra and the coming and going of schooners. He 
drew me out about my plans, whether I was going to 
settle in the Marquesas or return to my own country, 
and evinced a flattering interest in my future. And I 
was flattered, as I am easily by the friendhness of un- 
friendly people, and did not question his genuine liking 
for me. 

Ah Suey, the Chinese baker and storekeeper, who had 
been tried for the murder of an American, and who 
spoke English he had learned at Los Angeles and at sea, 



300 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

might have enhghtened me, but that I was beyond 
doubt. I was at Ah Suey's to dance a jig and to sing 
"The Good Old Summertime" to amuse him. The sat- 
urnine Chinese, after a drink of rum, said : 

"Peylalee all time come you housee takee dlinkee. 
He no good. More better you tell him poponihoo go 
hellee! Makee tlubble for you his daughtah." 

Ah Suey puzzled me, but I do not like advice or 
warning, and I shunted the subject. 

Peyral was a hunter. He would wander, always 
alone, in the upper valleys, to shoot huku, or along the 
beach for salt-water birds, walking slowly and not 
alertly ; but he was a crack shot and hardly ever failed to 
bring back a bag of game. He had learned marksman- 
ship at sea, or perhaps in his native Brittany, and his 
cartridges went far. He was not contented with birds, 
but also tramped to the mountains to kill goats or even 
the wild bulls that were growing scarce there under a 
promiscuous use of firearms. Le Brunnec, the trader, 
an amiable and intelhgent Breton, and I met him there, 
fortunately, at a critical moment for me. We had, 
Le Brunnec and I, climbed on horses in the late after- 
noon to a plateau high up in the hills and camped there 
the night. In that altitude it was cool after the sun 
had set, and we sat about a fire of twigs and branches 
until we were sleepy. We were considerably past the 
line of cocoanut-palms, and in a rich and vaned flora. 
Magnificent chestnut, ironwood, rose-apple, and other 
tropical trees formed dark groups about us, and masses 
of huetu or mountain plantains lined the slopes. We 
had washed down our dinner with a bottle of ^loselle, 
and had a mellow and philosophical hour before sleep. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 301 

Far above us we could see a pair of ducks, a kind of 
non-migratory mallard. They lived only in the lonely 
valleys or woods, and nested on the tops of distant 
ridges where they laid a half dozen eggs. The duck- 
lings must be carried by their parents to the feeding 
grounds hundreds of feet below. 

We talked about the decimation of the Marquesans 
— Le Bi-unnec in ten years had seen them depopulated 
almost 50 per cent. 

"They are unhappy and soul-sick," he said. "They 
are animals, and, when they had freedom under their 
own rule, prospered enormously. Now there are a 
couple of thousand instead of the hundred thousand 
the whites found. They are in the cage of civilization 
and cannot stand the bars. We are adaptable because 
we are an admixture of many races, and have had to 
exist in changing environments or die. Millions must 
have died from the same thing that destroys the Mar- 
quesans, but there were enough to keep on and build up 
again. The quality of adaptabihty, of making the best 
of it, is wonderful. One time in Tahiti I was at the 
Annexe lodging-house of Lovaina when a Frenchman 
arrived by steamer from Martinique. He had with 
him his four children. The mother, a native of that 
island, was dead, and the oldest child was a girl of thir- 
teen, a child-woman, naive but clever, and very charm- 
ing. For four years she had been mother to the other 
three, since she was nine, and they were as neat as 
a gunboat. She was tiny and undeveloped physically, 
but necessity had adapted her perfectly to her task. 
The father was looking for work, and, not finding it in 
Tahiti, was off to Dacca, in Africa, leaving the babies 



302 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

in her care. Mon Dieu! It was brave to see her bath- 
ing them, brushing their hair, reproving them, and feed- 
ing them. If she had been five years older I would 
have tried to marry her, and the whole flock. Now, you 
see, she could keep on because she was continuing the 
white race customs and ideals, and understood them, 
hard as it was; but these poor people have been told to 
do something they don't understand, and that is not 
their ideal. Now take that girl of old Peyral! Her 
mother spoke English, and her father is French, and she 
went to the nuns' school here for four or five years. 
Yet she can hardly speak anything but Marquesan, and 
in that tongue she replies to her father, and talks to her 
sisters. She is almost a Marquesan, and as they are 
unhappy in their prison so is she. She is the only white 
woman here, and she has no companions, and her father 
won't let her be a native. Pauvre enfant! Now, her 
I would n't many for all the cocoanuts on this island. 
There is one other. Mademoiselle Narbonne, who is the 
richest person in the Marquesas, for she, too, is fit 
neither for native life nor for white. The nuns have 
spoiled her, as her mother spoiled the Peyral girl." 

And so to bed on the grass with a blanket about us. 

In the morning we were up at daybreak, and, after 
coffee and hardtack, we rode toward the sea. There 
was a faint trail, but Le Brunnec was a skilled tracker 
and picked up the spoor in a few minutes. After half 
an hour we saw fresher traces of our prey, and began 
to make plans for the attack. We felt sure we were 
the only ones on the plateau, and so were safe, for Mar- 
quesans are reckless with guns, and when we heard a 
horse coming toward us we halted and waited. It was 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 303 

Peyral. We could see his frowsy head a quarter of a 
mile away as it bobbed in the trot. 

"Eh hienr said Le Brunnec, philosophically. "He is 
not so bad here. It is curious that when Peyral has been 
drunk for a month, and reforms so as not to die, he goes 
to the mountains for a week and shoots an animal." 

We said hon jour, and he joined us. Le Brunnec 
proposed that we try to kill two bulls, share the labor 
of carrying the meat to Atuona, and divide it there. 
Peyral gruffly assented, and, as he was the more skillful 
chasseur, gave us our stations. We were to start up 
one or more taureaux sauvages and to endeavor to re- 
frain from firing at them until they were as near as 
possible to the cliff. We were successful and had felled 
one, when another appeared. 

"Prennez garde!" shouted Le Brunnec. *'That haki- 
uka has blood in his eye." 

"Go around to the left and drive him toward me," 
commanded Peyral. 

I was riding fast about his flank when my horse put 
his foot in a rat's hole. I had my rifle on my right arm 
and I must have used it as a vaulting-pole unwittingly, 
for I struck the earth about ten feet from my mount. 
I was struggling to my feet when I became aware that 
the hakiuka was approaching with malice in his snort- 
ings. My horse had got up but too late to bear me to 
security, and my rifle was choked with mud. I rushed 
for a tree but could see none with low branches. I had 
a big knife in my belt, a kind of Bowie, and, as I felt 
the hot breath of the animal on me and saw his horns 
magnified to elephant's tusks, I drew the weapon. The 
beast was within five feet of me when he dropped. Pey- 



304 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ral had put a Winchester bullet in his heart. His head 
was at my feet as he gave it a mighty toss, and laid it 
on the sward of maidenhair ferns in submission to man's 
invention. 

When I had made sure of the poor hakiukas being 
absolutely dead, and had shaken myself together, find- 
ing no injuries, I thanked Peyral, whom Le Brunnec 
was already extoUing for niarksmanship and quickness 
of thought. 

"men! It is nothing!" replied the shaggy man. "I 
like to kill." 

We put ropes over the horns of the victims, and 
forced our horses to drag them to a certain spot at the 
edge of the cliff. Below -was a wide shelf of rocks at 
water-level. We pushed the stiffening bodies over the 
edge and let them fall. Then we rode back to Atuona, 
and in a big canoe with three Marquesans, Great Fern, 
Mouth of God, and Exploding Eggs, went for the car- 
casses. To retrieve them into the craft was a difficult 
task. 

The sea surged against the rocks so that we could not 
tie up close to them, but several of us jumped on them 
while others remained in the canoe, with a line ashore 
and a kedge-anchor aft. The Marquesans cut up the 
bulls into quarters, and each we tied to a rope and 
dragged through the water into the canoe. Over our 
heads a cloud of heron and sea-gulls shrieked for their 
share, and when we had left the rocks these birds 
screamed and fought for the entrails. They had been 
attracted when the bulls were killed, and for hours had 
pecked vainly at the carcasses. The dragging them over 
the land and hurling them to the ledge, and their hours of 




Malicious Gossip, Le lirunncc, and his wife, at peace 




Photo by Dr. Malcolm Douglas 



*'!& -^ 



Exploding Eggs and his chums packing copra 







a 

o 

■4-1 

eS 
« 

S 

o 
Q 



o 



a 

eS 

a 

b 

V 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 305 

lying there, had drawn an immense concourse of the sea- 
birds. There were many thousands before we got away, 
and so rapacious were they that they circled over our 
heads and snatched at the bloody meat in the canoe. We 
had to wave our shirts at them to frighten them away. 
Sharks smelling the blood swam about the canoe, and we 
were not a little afraid. We had brought no guns in the 
canoe, and we were forced to strike at them with pad- 
dles, and shout imprecations at them. They did not 
enter the breakers, which we ran to the sand. At the 
beach near Commissaire Bauda's residence and offices, 
we turned over to Peyral his third, and, taking the 
remainder into the village. Great Fern with saw and 
knife provided every household, including the Catholic 
and Protestant clergy and the nuns, with ample for a 
meal or two. Peyral threw his part over his horse's 
back and left us, muttering that he would salt it down 
for the uncertain future. 

Peyral became increasingly friendly, and a number 
of times stopped me on my way to and from the shore 
to invite me to drink with him. Le Brunnec said that 
this was something new for Peyral, and that he must 
be "going crazy." But, like Ah Suey, Le Brunnec hid 
his real thought from me when I defended Peyral and 
said that he was sinned against overmuch. Peyral's 
daughter — I hardly ever caught sight of the younger 
two — would desert the veranda if I came upon it, but 
once he called her, and when she did not respond imme- 
diately added a "sacre" to his order for her to come and 
be presented to me. 

"She is a fine girl, but shy," he said, and patted her 
clumsily. 



306 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Mademoiselle Peyral trembled under his heavy 
caress, and with merely a slight, awkward bow to me 
hurried into the sombre chamber. 

"She is shy," he repeated as he drank his absinthe 
with mouthing and grimacing. "She needs a man to 
train her right, a husband, eh, a gentleman, mon g argon. 
Is not that right?" 

Peyral's voice was almost gentle, but his mood 
changed in a breath. He struck the board hard with 
his shell, and yelled, "Do you understand, American, 
I said a gentleman. Her mother was aristocrat. Do 
you get that into your noddle?" 

Exploding Eggs, who had waited for me on the road 
with my towels, laughed as we ran toward the surf. 

"Peyral paed" he said. "Too much drink, too much 
fight." 

I did not stop after that when he bade me have a 
goutte with him, for I was sensible of a deep pity for 
the girl and an ardent desire to save her embarrassment, 
the deadly unreasoning shame or perplexity that over- 
whelmed her at her father's gross attitude and my pres- 
ence. After a few weeks, Peyral did not sing out to 
me any more, and I was conscious of a coldness, of a 
return of his first relation to me, and then of fits 
and starts of friendship. I felt oppressed by his 
changing tempers, and attributed them to his varying 
degrees of inebriety. 

I split my rain-coat one day, and, after making a bad 
job of repairing it, thought of Peyral and his skill as a 
tailor. With the coat on my arm I climbed the stairs 
to his porch, and, finding no one there, called out Pey- 
ral's name. My voice echoed through the house, and, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 307 

with the intention of scribbling a note and leaving the 
coat, I entered the nearest room. Mademoiselle Peyral 
was sitting near the machine but was not sewing. She 
trembled as I approached her, and looked frightened. I 
am timid with women, and her nervousness communi- 
cated itself to me. I wished I was not there. She was 
half uncovered, having on only a chemise, and her dis- 
habille added to my confusion, though that very morn- 
ing I had bathed in the river nude with Titihuti and 
others. 

"Please give your father this coat, and ask him to re- 
pair it," I said, and put it down. Her downcast eyes 
and heaving bosom, her evident extreme timidity, and 
her pitiable situation overcame me. She was of my own 
race, and she was so white and so fair. Before I 
could restrain myself, I said in English, "Don't be 
afraid of me! I am very sorry for you," and I patted 
her shoulder as I might have a child's. 

She shrank from me in apparent horror, and ran from 
the room into a farther one, screaming in Marquesan. 
I started to follow her to explain or to appease her, but 
reconsidered. 

Though I was conscious of no wrong, the familiar 
incidents in newspapers and gossip of misinterpreted 
gestures and of false allegations rose to my mind as her 
cries resounded through the black and tristful house. 
I moved toward the porch to leave, and deliberated, and 
awaited some one's coming. Better to tell the fact and 
make a stand there and then, said common sense. But no 
one answered her alarm, and after a few minutes I left, 
with the coat, and returned to my own cabin. For half 
an hour my mind was actively going over the affair to 



308 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

find out what might be at the bottom of it, and, of course, 
to make certain of my clearance of the least onus of 
guilt. 

Perhaps I was the first man other than her father 
who had put his hand on her, and I had done that, no 
matter how innocently! The nuns had overbalanced 
her standard of modesty, and her father's brutal admo- 
nitions had made her hysterical! I tried myself and, 
having found myself not guilty of even forwardness or 
discourtesy, I cooked my dinner, poured myself a shell 
of Munich beer that had been cooled in the river, and 
dismissed the trifle. 

The next afternoon as I passed the governor's garden 
on the road to the beach, I saw Peyral on the veranda 
with the official. I thought of the rent in my rain-coat, 
and entered the grounds to speak to him about it. As 
I approached the steps I heard the tailor speaking 
loudly and vehemently to Monsieur I'Hermier, and 
spilling the absinthe in the glass in his hand. 

"Kaohar I said, and Pevral turned and saw me. 
His face purpled, and he shouted in French something 
I did not understand, and appealed to the governor for 
corroboration. A twinge of privity with his emotion 
swept over me, and I am sure I flushed and looked the 
culprit. I hadn't much time for analysis, for Peyral 
stood up and flung his glass at my head. It went wide. 
I took a step toward him' and asked: 

"What's the matter with him, Monsieur VAdminis- 
trateur? Is he drunker than usual?" 

''Je ne sais pas/' replied the governor, with a shrug 
of his shoulder. "He has come here to lodge a com- 
plaint against you of maltreating his daughter. He 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 30» 

wants you tried and sent to prison, and he wants to in- 
stitute a suit against you for damages. I have told him 
to return when he is sober. He is bitter, Monsieur, and 
he is, after all, a Frenchman." 

Peyral got up from his chair, unsteadily. The gover- 
nor discreetly left the veranda and entered his study. 
I sat down in sheer weariness, when suddenly the fren- 
zied drunkard confronted me. 

"Sacre Americain!" he yelled. "You will insult the 
daughter of a French patriot. Cochon! I will show 
you what I do to such people as you!" 

He flung himself upon me and struck me in the face. 
Peyral was fifty pounds heavier than I, but he was verj'- 
drunk. I drove my fist into his chin, and, following the 
blow with another, sent him sprawling. I regretted 
my violence as I saw the poor devil staggering to his 
feet unsteadily, but when, with the most blasphemous 
profanity and the basest epithets in the dialect of Brest, 
he lurched at me again with his two hundred pounds of 
rank bulk, charity fled from my panting heart, and I 
realized that I must fight or retreat. Years of addic- 
tion to alcohol had not made my assailant anything but 
tough and strong physically, and I was no match for 
him if he was not reeling. He plunged toward me as 
a drunken elephant might go to combat. I decided not 
to run, because I wanted to continue to live in Atuona 
underided, and so I sprang to meet him, and hitting him 
full tilt in the chin and chest, carried him hard down to 
the boards, where we grappled and exchanged power- 
less blows. 

We had knocked over table, bottle, glasses, and 
chairs, and the uproar was immense. Song of the 



310 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Nightingale, Exploding Eggs, Ghost Girl and Many 
Daughters, the little leper lass, had come scurrying 
from the kitchen. Maybe the governor had a plan, or 
his dignity was offended, for, without appearing, he 
gave an order to Song, and the quartet of natives threw 
themselves on us, and disentangled us. Song, who later 
confessed to me that he had a grudge against the tailor, 
took the opportunity in the hurly-burly to deal him 
vicious blows, and then drove the cursing, struggling 
Breton through the garden and out the gateway. Pey- 
ral's last words were a threat to kill me the next time 
we met. The village had gathered, and Apporo, my 
landlady, Mouth of God, Malicious Gossip, his wife, 
and a dozen others were running toward the palace. 
Song dismissed them with a grandiloquent gesture, and 
his obscene badinage dissolved their curiosity in gales 
of laughter. 

With the disturbance abated, the governor joined me, 
his ordinary merry self again, and we drank a libation 
to Mars. My clothes were torn, my jaw ached, and 
my body was bruised from the clutches of the tailor. 

"Do not molest yourself!" said the executive. "I do 
not entertain any evil of you. When the allegation is 
formally made, I, as magistrate, will hear the evidence. 
According to his own statement, no one was there but 
his daughter and you. I believe you a man of honor. 
And women? Mon vieuoo, I have known and loved 
many of them. I am a doctor, and a student of life. 
They are incomprehensible. But we must take precau- 
tions. He has said he will kill you, so you must be on 
guard. You have no pistol? Eh hienl I will lend 
you my Browning automatic I had in Senegal. It is 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 311 

loaded. Defend yourself, but do not step on his prop- 
erty. Nous verronsT 

The governor was dramatic, not to say melodramatic, 
and, to my nervous conception, he took too lightly the 
(crime upon my person. I was the one to bring a 
charge, not Peyral. Assaulted in the palace, at the 
throne of justice, in the presence of the judge, I was 
handed a deadly firearm by the arbiter, and told to pro- 
tect myself. It was like the Wild West, or a stage 
farce. But I had come a thousand miles with him on a 
small vessel, and knew his delight in the least diversion 
that would relieve his ennui in a monotonous period of 
service. This was but a scherzo in a slow program. 
However, I thanked him and, with the heavy pistol, 
went to the House of the Golden Bed. The girl was 
uppermost in my unstable reflections. 

What had possessed her to lie so? She must have 
distorted my ingenuous action damnably to cause her 
father to beset me before the governor, and to swear to 
kill me ! I pictured her as I had last seen her, and try 
as I would I could not hate her. I lay down with the 
Browning beside me, and dreamed that she was testify- 
ing against me at the seat of judgment, and that an aus- 
tere God pointed downward. Exploding Eggs was 
cooking a rasher of bacon on my improvised stove on the 
paepae the next morning, when Flag, the mutoi, brought 
a note, he acting as general messenger of the island. It 
was in a strange hand and on dirty paper. I could not 
make out the language except a few French words, and 
the signature not at all, an so after breakfast I took it 
to Le Brunnec at his store. 

Le Brunnec glanced over it and looked puzzled. 



312 ATOLLS OF THE SUX 

Then he spoke low, in French, so that the natives in 
the room might not glean a word. 

"Mais," he said, "it is from Peyral, and it is written 
in Breton and absinthe. I translate it for vou into 
TOUT EngHsh: 

" 'Monsieur: You cannot eviter' — what you say? — 
escape — 'from your insult \o ma fille. You have in- 
sulted and struck me, too. I will not seek the tribunal 
to make your apology. The governor has told me you 
are Irishman, and so vou are of the same blood like the 
grandparent of my child. In France what you have 
done must be paid for in blood or by marriage. Even 
if you make intention to return to vour own countn^ no 
matter. You must marry my daughter or you will be 
buried in Call' aire cimetiere — what you say — grave- 
yard? — Tt is necessary that you send me word by to- 
morrow or I will make justice on you.' He says he is 
yours respectful. Well, by gar, it is a situation, my 
friend, but I say to you one thing: do not be afraid. 
He slip back already. You have a revolver? Yes? 
Keep it in the hand or the pants." 

The merchant took up his sugar scoop to begin busi- 
ness. My wholeness or health seemed not to interest 
him seriously. I sauntered up the path in meditation. 
My feet took me into the mission churchyard, and I sat 
on the roots of a gigantic banian-tree near the colossal 
crucifix brought from France by the priests for the ju- 
bilee of 1900. The mad note of Pe^Tal had stunned me, 
and, instead of thinking hard and clearly upon my situ- 
ation, I fell into fatuous reverie. 

A gentle and lovely savage she was, and unspoiled by 
civilization. "VMiat a singular and perhaps entrancing 



ATOLLS OF THE SUX 313 

task to teach her only the best in it, to unfold through 
English or French the music and Hterature of the world, 
to take her perhaps to the great cities? Or if I myself 
was done with civilization, as I sometimes persuaded 
myself I was, what more dehghtful companion than this 
simple virgin of Atuona? To fish, to swim, to roam 
the plateaus; to have a library" and to get the reviews 
and the new books by the schooners, to create a living 
idyll! Love would undoubtedly be the response of 
kindness, of sjTiipathy, of tenderness, of love itself. But 
could I love her? There would be children. And they 
would grow up here. I remembered her own white feet 
in the mud of this village. Their mother! And with 
Pevral's blood in them! Pevral! Damn him! ^Miat 
had I done to make him attack me, to say he would kill 
me? To spoil my peace? I would wear the Browning 
about mv waist, and if he winked an eyelash I would 
shoot first. He had brought it on himself. She had 
lied to him. I had no liking to be in Calvary with Gau- 
guin. My grave would be forgotten like his. A man 
here was a bubble in the breeze. It burst and was 
nothing. 

All these ideas rushed through my head as I returned 
to my house. I had concluded not to pass Pe^Tal's 
house unarmed, so I tied a string about my middle over 
my pareu and fastened the revolver to it. With one 
pull the knot undid and the gun came loose into my 
hand. I wore a light Hnen coat over my bare body, 
and no one was the wiser. 

Thus ready for mv would-be murderer or father-in- 
law, I whistled to Exploding Eggs the next forenoon, 
and, he with towels in hand, we walked toward the 



314 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

sands. There was no one on the veranda of the palace. 
Except for the residence of the lepers by the cemetery 
there was no other house toward the beach but that of 
my enemy. 

Obscure under the heavy-leaved palms, I could not be 
sure that Peyral was not ensconced on his gallery with 
a bottle of absinthe and a shotgun or rifle waiting to 
pot-shot me. He knew my habit of bathing every day, 
and maybe was chuckling over scaring me from the spot. 
I walked boldly and briskly past his house. There was 
no figure on the porch but that of a girl. I glimpsed 
her only, for an emotion of shame — inexplicable shame 
— directed my eyes away from her. I continued on to 
the water, and, hiding my revolver in the trailing pahue 
with its morning-glory blossoms, I took up my surf- 
board and forgot Peyral in that most exhilarating of 
sports. 

Exploding Eggs dragged his tiny canoe from the 
bushes, and we launched it and pushed it through the 
surf. With rare dexterity he paddled it seaward, I 
with my board on my knees, a calm admirer of his mar- 
velous control of the little craft: he and it the first 
Marquesan and the first canoe I had seen in this archi- 
pelago. When we were out half a mile or so we lay still 
for the right breaker. He watched and after a few 
minutes began to paddle with intense energy until the 
wave caught him. We swung to its crest and clung 
there as we dashed in at a fast pace without motion on 
our part. But, when half-way. Exploding Eggs took 
my board from me, and, handing me the paddle, he sud- 
denly plunged with it from the canoe and, extended full 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 315 

on the board in rhythm with the billow I rode, accom- 
panied me to shore. 

The sun was dropping down the western sky when 
we dressed to leave the beach. Exploding Eggs in his 
loin-cloth and I in mine, with my coat over the Brown- 
ing. The hours in the salt water with the exercise and 
the laughter had cleared the cobwebs of blame from my 
brain. My innocent blood would be on the guilty head 
of Peyral did he kill me. That was comforting. How- 
ever, I made sure that the knot slipped easily, and with 
my valet beside me I made the start. 

I had gained half-way when I saw Peyral coming 
toward me, a thousand feet away, with a shot-gun over 
his shoulder. He was silhouetted against the setting 
sun and could not be mistaken. His burly form, his' 
beard, his general shagginess made him unmistakable, 
as was also the outline of the weapon. 

There was no stopping. The swamp was on either 
side of the ten-foot road, the beach behind me. Fleeing 
was out of the question. I might have taken a side road 
had there been one, but just such conditions as presented 
themselves then must be met daily. I kept on, and, as 
we came nearer, our eyes joined and remained steadily 
fixed. I do not know how Peyral felt, but I was as fas- 
cinated as the proverbial bird by the snake. I moved 
as if by magnetic power toward my probable slayer, and 
he toward me. Neither of us made a movement except 
that of our legs and stiff bodies. 

There came a second when we were about four feet 
apart, each hugging the edge of the road. Our eyes 
were held straight ahead, and mine remained so. We 



316 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

appeared to hesitate as if we might whirl and seize each 
other or draw our weapons. The shot-gun was on his 
shoulder but in the flash of an eye might be brought 
down to the level of my vitals. But the eye did not 
flash. The gun swayed only with his footfalls, and we 
continued our mechanical advance away from each 
other. 

Prudence whispered to me to turn and protect myself 
from a rear attack, but the message did not affect my 
legs. I winced momentarily for the expected load of 
shot in my back, but I walked stiffly as if a great ray of 
light were penetrating my cerebellum. Exploding 
Eggs, who knew only about our fight upon the palace 
balcony and nothing of my having the Browning, was 
chanting about the god of night, Po, and paid no 
attention to Peyral, except to say quite audibly, ''Pey- 
rale aoe metai! Peyral is no good !" That did not add 
to my surety, and the imagined missile or missiles from 
behind did not become less vivid until I was beyond 
shooting distance. Just as I calculated with incredible 
rehef that the crisis was past, Peyral's gun roared out. 

My muscles squirmed, my heart leaped, my knees 
bent, and my chin touched my bosom. Exploding 
Eggs laughed. 

"PeyraU puhi kuku'' he said regretfully; "Peyral 
has shot a kuku" — as if I should have shot it. I 
laughed heartily with him. The joke was on me, but 
I enjoyed it to the echo. I recalled that often of an 
evening my enemy replenished his larder with an ex- 
penditure of Number Four shot. It was funny, and 
when I reached the palace I was trembling with the 
reverberations of the absurd climax to my fears. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 317 

L'Hermier des Plantes was dancing opposite Many 
Daughters a hura-hura, and Song of the Nightingale 
was fetching cold water from the brook to water the 
wine, in the temperate French way. 

"Holar called out the governor. **Come in, mon 
ami! Sit down and have a goutte de Pernod. You 
are jolly. What? Ybu met Peyral, and he shot not 
you but a kuku? O lalala! You give me back the 
Browning? All right. You could not have done much 
harm with it. See, the cartridges are blanks for firing 
a salute on the Fall of the Bastille fete, O sapristi! 
It is droll! I will die I" 

He held his stomach while he laughed and laughed. 
I grinned with fury. 

"What the devil is the drolerie?" I questioned, 
earnestly. 

The governor wiped his eyes, and emptied his glass. 

"Attendez!" he answered. You were not in any 
great danger or I would have come to your rescue. 
You know I have here a dossier of every one in these 
islands who has been complained against, or has com- 
plained. The first week I was here Peyral declared 
that Commissaire Bauda had insulted his daughter, and 
that he must marry her or he would kiU him. Bauda 
denied the charge, and Peyral did nothing. Then I 
opened his dossier, and in two years he had made three 
such charges, one against a professor who was here a 
month, and one against Le Brunnec. C^est curieuoc. 
The man is mad with alcohol, but more so with a deter- 
mination to marry that stark daughter of his to a white 
man who might take her away. Others have been elim- 
inated after such foolishness as this. See, there was no 



318 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

one but you. Lutz is after higher game, and besides he 
is a German, and Peyral hates him. Voila, mon 
gar f on. You were the parti inevitable. It is strange 
the way he goes about getting a son-in-law. One 
might expect a dot, or a Httle hospitality, but no, he 
runs true to type, and he is not a chic type. But, 
c'est fini. He has tried and failed. You have met him, 
and knocked him down, and now you know his gun is 
for kuku. Well, we will drink to the health of the 
pauvre diable, and a good husband for the girl. But 
not you, eh?" 

I drank with as much grace as I could, but when I 
walked in the upper valley at dusk, and was alone by 
the paepae tapu, the shattered and grown-over temple 
of the old Marquesan gods, I could have cried for pity 
for that girl. 



CHAPTER XVI 

In the valley of Vaitahu— With Vanquished Often and Seventh M&n He 
Is So Angry He wallows in the Mire — Worship of beauty in the South 
Seas — Like the ancient Greeks — Care of the body — Preparations for 
a belle's d^but — Massage as a cure for ills. 

ACROSS the Bordelaise Channel from Atuona, 
many hours of sailing in an outrigger canoe, 
lay the island of Tahuata. Its principal settle- 
ment was Vaitahu, and there I went with Exploding 
Eggs, my adopted brother of fourteen, to stay awhile 
in the house of the chief. Seventh Man Who Is So 
Angry He Wallows in the Mire, as Neo Efitu, his short 
name, meant. Atuona personified the brooding spirit 
of melancholy that possessed the race, the shadow of 
the white upon the Marquesan spirit, but Vaihatu had 
as genus loci a blithe and domestic sprite, which had kept 
the tiny village — formerly of thousands — in the habits 
and moods of the old ways. Waited on as an honored 
guest by the chief, his wife, and his niece, Vanquished 
Often, the friend and playmate of the few score inhabit- 
ants, I had happy weeks of simple pleasures, and of 
intense interest in searching into the past of the Mar- 
quesans, and especially into their customs and manners 
in relation to esthetics. 

The only foreigner in the valley, by my earnest wish 
and laughable example, life resumed for a time much 
of the old Marquesan method and appearance. The 
mission church, the first Christian edifice within a thou- 
sand miles, was rejoining the wilderness. Without 

319 



320 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

clergy or adherent, its walls were fast falling into decay, 
and its precisely-planned garden was jungle. The art- 
ist-schoolmaster, Le Moine, who had taught Vaitahu's 
children to say, ''La France est le plus hon pays du 
monde" was gone to seek other models for painting as 
ravishing as Vanquished Often, or men as majestic as 
Kahuiti, the cannibal of Taaoa. Existence, almost as 
devoid of invention and artificiality as before the white 
came, I was able to rebuild in my mind the structure of 
Marquesan taste, and to view in imagination the attrac- 
tive aspect of Vaitahu in its idyllic days of old. We 
brought out of the chests the native garments of tapa, 
and we lived as much as possible — like children playing 
Indians — a perspective of the past. 

I looked from my mat upon the paepae of Seventh 
Man Who Wallows to see Vanquished Often by the 
Vai Puna, the spring of Vaitahu. She had taken off 
her ahu or tunic of pink muslin and bent over to receive 
the full stream of cool water from the hills which flowed 
through the bamboo pipes. Her beautiful body, the 
blood mantling under her silken skin, perfect in devel- 
opment at thirteen years, glowed in the dazzling light 
and under the silvery cascade, and her long, unconfined 
hair shone red-gold in the sunbeams. My mind reverted 
to the descriptions of the women, the men, and the 
scenes described by these who voyaged here decades ago. 

Not any people in all the world, ancient or modern, 
ranked human beauty higher in the list of life's gifts 
than did the people of these islands. In the star-scat- 
tered archipelagos of the Pacific tropics a dozen tawny 
races or breeds of superb physical endowment made 
their bodies wondrous temples for their free souls. The 







J2 



d 

2 



0) 

J3 






ATOLLS OF THE SUN 321 

loveliness and grace of women, the symmetry and 
stiength of men, were, before the white came to destroy 
them, the fascinating labor of their days, their vivid 
religion, and the expression of their joy of living. 

They brought the culture of beauty and the rhythm of 
motion to an unequaled pert action, and in the adorn- 
ment of their bodies and development of their natural 
attractions reached a pitch of splendor and artistry 
which, though seeming savage to us of this period, 
struck beholders, even of our kind, as entrancing and 
marvelous. 

While all over Polynesia these conditions obtained 
when the first Anglo-Saxons threw down the anchors of 
their ships in the enchanting harbors of these tropics, 
they remained longest in the Marquesas Archipelago. 

In their simple dress, their practice of manipulation 
in the development of their bodies, their use of scents, 
unguents, and lotions, their wearing of flowers and or- 
naments, their singular and astounding art of the story- 
teller, the dance and the pantomime, and the exquisite 
tattooing of their persons, they showed a delicacy of feel- 
ing and an understanding of elegance unsurpassed in 
the records of the nations of the earth. 

As I sat under the pandanus thatch of Seventh Man 
Who Is So Angry He Wallows in the Mire, I re- 
called what that eminent moralizer, Lecky, had said: 

The intense esthetic enthusiasm that prevailed was eminently 
fitted to raise the most beautiful to honor. In a land and be- 
neath a sky where natural beauty developed to the highest 
point, supreme physical perfection was crowned by an assembled 
people. In no other period of the world's history was the ad- 
miration of beauty in all its forms so passionate or so universal. 



322 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

It colored the whole moral teaching of the time, and led the 
chief moralists to regard virtue simply as the highest kind of 
supersensual beauty. It led the wife to pray, before all other 
prayers, for the beauty of her children. The courtesan was 
often the queen of beauty. 

Lecky wrote that of iFiiicient Greece to contrast it 
with the morals of the Europe of his day, but I con- 
sidered the striking likeness between the condition he 
described and the attitude of the ancient Marquesans. 
Here in these tiny islands, separated by ten thousand 
miles of billow from the land of Pericles and Aspasia, a 
people whose origin was only guessed at by science, 
erected the same goal of attainment, and like standards 
of harmony of form and movement. Doubtless at that 
very day these Greeks of the tropics, considering their 
environment, most distant from the birthplace of hu- 
manity and from the example of other peoples, were 
comparable in brilliancy of person and ease of motion to 
the Homeric figures. 

The American sea-fighter. Captain David Porter, 
who ran up the Stars and Stripes in the breadfruit 
groves of these islands, said: 

The men of the Marquesas are remarkably handsome, of 
large stature and well-proportioned ; they possess every variety 
of countenance and feature, and a great difference is observable 
in the color of the skin, which for the most part is of a copper 
color. But some are as fair as the generality of working people 
much exposed to the sun of a warm climate. 

The young girls were handsome and well-formed ; their skins 
were remarkably soft and smooth and their complexions no 
darker than many brunettes in America, celebrated for their 
beauty. Their modesty was more evident than that of the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 323 

women of any place we had visited since leaving our own 
country; and if they suffered themselves (though with appar- 
ent timidity and reluctance) to be presented naked to strangers, 
may it not be in compliance with a custom which taught them 
to sacrifice to hospitality all that is most estimable? 

Why, and how had this strange race, so far from 
others' strivings, attained so singular a state of natural 
beauty that discoverer after discoverer and diarist after 
diarist, from the bloody Spaniard, Mendana, to the 
gentle Louis Stevenson, set it down as the "handsomest 
on earth?" 

One must guess at the beginnings of the Marquesans. 
Scientists make explorations to find the route of the 
Caucasian people who thousands of years ago — maybe, 
before the Hebrews deserted Jehovah for Baal-Peor 
— migrated through the unknown and fearsome wastes 
of ocean toward these misty islands of the far south. 
What equipment of body and soul they brought with 
them we do not know, but they were or became the mas- 
ters of their seas, and in their frail canoes dared even 
the long voyage to New Zealand and to Hawaii, when 
Europeans and Asiatics in keeled ships crept carefully 
about their own coasts, or crossed the Mediterranean 
Sea only within the threatening Pillars of Hercules. 

During the thousands of years the Marquesans were 
separated from Europe they developed a policy of gov- 
ernment, a paternalistic democracy, or communism, 
which was perfectly adapted to their nature and sur- 
roundings. A very large part of it was concerned with 
beauty, manners, and entertainment, with personal 
decoration, carving of stone and wood, building of 
temples and houses, oratory, dances, and chants. All 



324 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

of these were carefully regulated by cults, gilds, and 
tapus. They must have been an extremely prolonged 
growth, for they had come to a fixed standard of de- 
tail and exactness, and an acme of art, bizarre and 
exotic as it was, that could have been but the minute 
accretion of many centuries. When the first explorers 
came into the uncharted spaces of these warm seas, they 
found a culture totally beyond the understanding of 
most of them, and abhorrent to state and church, but 
which a few fine souls glimpsed as an astonishing rev- 
elation of the natural development of the human, 
and, by foil, of the decadence of civilization. They 
found health and high spirits abounding to a degree 
utterly strange to them, the hardiest and most adven- 
turous of Europeans and Americans, and they were 
provoked by the innocence, radiance, and naturalness 
of the women. 

This Edenic condition astounded the Yankee Porter, 
who went to sea at sixteen, and who slew scores of Mar- 
quesans, for he put in his log: 

The Hawaiians, Tahitians, and New Zealanders had by 
residence among whites become corrupt; they had fallen into 
their vices and ate the same food. They were no longer in 
a state of nature; they had, like us, become corrupt, and 
while the honest, guileless faces of the Marquesans shone with 
benevolence, good nature and intelligence, the downcast eye 
and sullen look of the others marked their inferiority and de- 
generacy. Guilt, of which by intercourse with us they had 
become sensible, had already marked their countenances. 
Every emanation of their souls could not be perceived upon 
their countenances as with those of the naked Marquesans. 

War, murder, mutiny, desertion, and horrible orgies 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 325 

marked the reaction of these forecastle denizens, scour- 
ings of slums and dull villages, to the spontaneity, ease, 
and liberty they found here, in contrast with their ugly 
and restricted lives aboard ship or in the hard climes and 
rough grooves of their homes. The sight of such in- 
tense individual happiness, glowing vitality, and ex- 
quisite bodies, of a cooperative existence without kings 
or commoners, business or money, palaces or hovels, 
disease or dirt, prudery or prostitutes, shocked them by 
the abrupt differences from their own countries. They 
wrote the Marquesans down as barbarians, as the 
Greeks did the Romans; and church, government, and 
trade made haste to hack down their achievement, and 
to make over the pieces as the wretched patchwork of 
their own hands. They hated it, subconsciously, for 
its giving the lie to their own boasted institutions. 
They ended it that it might not mock the degradation 
and futility of their own conduct and the opposition be- 
tween their decalogue and their deeds. The merchant 
condemned and altered it to make a market for what it 
did not then need or desire. 

The first approach to change after subjugation and 
conversion was through clothing, because the most obvi- 
ous difference between the whites and the browns was 
that the latter largely exposed their bodies. The mis- 
sionary paved the way for the dealer who had cottons 
to sell by saying that God abhorred nakedness. Liv- 
ingston himself acted likewise. The Marquesans, in 
truth, had a small variety of clothing. Much of the 
time both sexes wore only the single garment, the pareu 
or loin-cloth. Their clothes of Tapa or bark were, ex- 
cept mattings, the only stuffs made by the Marquesans. 



326 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

They were of a remarkable texture and coloring, con- 
sidering the materials available. The inner barks of 
the banian, breadfruit, and particularly the mulberry 
trees were used. The outer rind was scraped off with 
a shell, and the inner slightly beaten and allowed to 
ferment. It was then beaten over wooden forms with 
clubs of ironwood about eighteen inches long, grooved 
coarsely on one side and finely on the reverse, a process 
that united so closely the fibers that in the finished cloth 
one could not guess the processes of its making. 
Bleached in the sun on the beaches to a dazzling white, 
this fabric was either dyed black or brown, yellow or 
red, or fashioned as it was into the few varieties of gar- 
ments they affected. All wore the pareu about the 
loins; a strip two yards or more in length, and a yard 
wide, which is passed twice about the waist and tucked 
in for holding, as the sarong of the Malay. It hangs 
above the knees, and like the fundoshi of Japan, worn 
by royalty and beggar, is capable, for strenuous move- 
ments, such as swimming, of being gathered up to form 
a diaper or breech-cloth. 

The cahu or ahu, a long and flowing piece of tapa, 
was worn by the females, hanging from the shoulders, 
knotted about or covering one or both breasts at the 
whim of the wearer. For the coloring of this and the 
pareu, rich and alluring dyes were found in the plants 
and trees and even the sea-animals of the beaches. The 
outlines of the hibiscus flowers and carven objects were 
imprinted upon these tapas, and astronomical, mystic, 
or tribal signs or records drawn upon them in fantastic 
but artistic design. 

The method of wearing the cahu for hiding or dis- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 327 

closing the charms of the female was as varied as the 
toilettes of Parisian fashion. The conceit of the girl 
or woman, the occasion, and the weather decided its be- 
ing draped in any one of a score of manners. A belle 
might think it ungenerous to cover too much, and an 
old or homely woman find the entire surface too scant. 
When human nature has freest fling, prudery is the 
fig-leaf of ugliness, here, as in the salon of Mayfair, or 
behind the footlights of Broadway. 

For the men, while the pareu, always as now, was the 
common apparel, they had a hundred ornaments, in a 
diversity more numerable than those of the females. 
Whenever man has not sacrificed his masculine craving 
for adornment to religious or economic pressure, he is 
the gaudier of the sexes. From the fiddler-crab with 
his rampant claw to the mandrill with his crimson and 
lilac callosities, nature has so ordained it, and man re- 
joiced in his privilege. Not until European man felt 
the iron hand of the machine age, when the rifle dis- 
placed the bow and the pistol the sword, the factory the 
home loom, and the foundry the smithy ; not until money 
became the chief pursuit of all ranks, and puritanism a 
general blight upon brilliancy of costume, did the white 
man relinquish his gewgaws to the parasitic woman. 
Then he made it a vicarious pride by decorating her with 
his riches and making her the vehicle of his pomp in or- 
nature, and the advertisement of his prosperity. 

The Marquesans, struck by the glitter of brass but- 
tons and gold braid, of broadcloth and fur, unfamiliar 
with metal, and admiring everj^thing foreign, fell facile 
victims to vestures, and when the new-fangled religions 
that followed hot upon the discoverers, enforced cover- 



328 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ing by dogma and even by punishment, they clothed 
themselves and sweated in fashion and sanctity. But 
clothes irk the Marquesans as they do all people living 
close to a kindly nature. Our own babes resent even the 
swaddles which bind them in the cradle. The first years 
of childhood are a continuing struggle against gar- 
ments, until, having lost plasticity and the instant re- 
sponse of muscle to mind that distinguishes the Marque- 
sans, the result is rationalized by adolescents into mod- 
esty and convention. After youth, clothing is wel- 
comed by us to enhance imperfect charms and to hide 
defects, to screen our unhandsome and puny bodies. 
The lean shanks, protuberant abdomens, and anatomi- 
cal grotesqueries in a public bath bear witness to our 
sacrifice. Marriage is often a disclosure of unguessed 
flaws. 

"The gods are naked and in the open," said Seneca. 

Pigalle sculptured the frail old Voltaire in the nude, 
yet attained dignity. Even Broadway smiles at 
frocked heroes in bronze, and must have its ideals in 
marble or bronze undraped. 

How often, when I lived at the spacious home of my 
friend, Ariioehau Ameroearao, the chief at Mataiea in 
Tahiti, I have seen him, chevalier of the Legion of 
Honor, come in from the highway in stiff white linen or 
in religious black, and in a twinkling reduce his garb to 
a loin-cloth! 

His walls were hung with portraits of princes and 
distinguished travelers, guests of his in the past score of 
years, and none was more distinguished, though in bril- 
liant uniform and gorgeously decorated, than the old 
chief in his strip of cotton print. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 329 

''Three kings naked have I seen, and never a sign of 
royalty," said the cynical Bismarck. 

Plato understood very well the spirit in which the 
Polynesians were clothed by the whites, the crass pru- 
rience that pointed out to them the wickedness of nudity, 
that hid their beautiful bodies under tunics and panta- 
loons, that laughed at their simplicity. 

In the "Republic" he says: 

Not long since it was thought discreditable and ridiculous 
among the Greeks, as it is now among most barbarian nations, 
for men to be seen naked. And when the Cretans first, and 
after them the Lacedaemonians, began the practice of gymnas- 
tic exercises, the wits of the time had it in their power to 
make sport of those novelties. But when experience has shown 
that it was better to strip than to cover up the body and when 
the ridiculous effect that this plan had to the eye had given 
way before the arguments establishing its superiority, it was at 
the same time, as I imagine, demonstrated that he is a fool 
who thinks anything ridiculous but that which is evil, and who 
attempts to raise a laugh by assuming any object to be ridic- 
ulous but that which is unwise and evil. 

The Marquesans, perfect animals, had their senses 
extraordinarily attuned to the faintest vibrations of 
value to their survival or delight. They heard sounds 
plainly that I, with rather better than ordinary civilized 
hearing, did not catch. I was with Vanquished Often 
when she spoke to Exploding Eggs two hundred feet 
away in a conversational tone. I tested them, and 
found they could talk with each other intelligibly when 
I heard but an indistinct whisper from the farthest. So 
with smell. Ghost Girl and Mouth of God, -my neigh- 
bor at Atuona, could detect any intimates by their 



330 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

odor in pitch darkness at twenty feet, though Marque- 
sans, because they have httle bodily hair and are the 
cleanest people I know, have less personal odor than we. 
They enjoyed life through scent infinitely more than 
do we. They had no kisses but rubbed noses and 
smelled each other with indrawings of their breath. 
Odoriferous herbs, flowers, and seeds were continually 
about their necks, both men and women, tucked behind 
their ears, or in their hair, and their bodies after bathings 
were anointed with the hinano-scented cocoanut-oil. 
Their noses were sources of sensuous enjoyment to them 
beyond my capability. They inhaled emanations from 
flowers too subtle to touch my olfactory nerves. 

The Marquesan woman has ever been an arch-co- 
quette, paying infinite attention to her appearance, and 
enduring pain and ennui to improve her beauty. Her 
complexion was as much a pride as with a fashionable 
American woman to-day. The beauty parlors of our 
cities were matched by the steam baths, the use of saf- 
fron, of oils, and of massage, and by weeks or even 
months of preparation before some great festival. To 
burst upon the assembled clan, white as the sea-foam, 
with skin as smooth as a polished calabash, hair oiled 
and wreathed, and body rounded from dancing practice 
and much sleep, and to set beating wildly the pulses of 
the young men, so that, strive as they might to remain 
mute, they would be forced to yield mad plaudits, was 
a result worth months of effort. To be the belle of the 
ball was a distinction a woman remembered a lifetime. 
It was an honor comparable to the warrior's wounds, or 
possession of the heads of the enemies. Parents felt 
keenly the success of their daughters. Titihuti and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 331 

others have told me of their triumphs, as Bernhardt or 
Patti might recite of packed houses and a score of en- 
cores. 

A curious secrecy or modesty was attached to the 
making of the toilet and the enhancement of the natural 
charms. No Marquesan or Tahitian or Hawaiian 
would ever have looked at herself in a portable mirror — 
if she had one — as do many of our females, and the whit- 
ening and reddening of cheeks and lips in public places 
would have caused a blush of shame for her sex to suf- 
fuse the face of a Marquesan, to whom such intimate 
gestures were for the privacy of her home or the bank 
of the limpid stream in a grove dedicated to the Mar- 
quesan Venus. 

Near Tahiti was the atoll of Tetuaroa where for hun- 
dreds of years the belles of Tahiti resorted to lose their 
sunburn in the bowered groves and to spend a season in 
beautification by banting, special foods, dancing, swim- 
ming, massage, baths, oils, and lotions. 

Here in the Marquesas, as in all Polynesia, a period 
of voluntary seclusion preceded the debut of the maiden, 
or the preparation for a special pas seul by a noted 
beauty. 

Seclusion of the girl was practiced at the time of 
puberty. It has a curious analogy in such far separated 
places as Torres Straits and British Columbia, one Aus- 
tralasia and the other North America. The girls of a 
tribe in Torres Straits are hidden for three months be- 
hind a circle of bushes in their parent's house at the first 
signs of womanhood. No sun must reach them, and no 
man, even though he be the father, enter the house, nor 
must they feed themselves. The Nootkas of British 



332 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Columbia also conceal their nubile virgins, and insist 
that they touch their own bodies for a period only with 
a comb or a bone, never laying their hands upon it. 

It would seem that all this mystery had the same pur- 
pose, that of adding to the attractiveness of the girls and 
heightening the romance of their new condition. Our 
coming-out parties parallel the goal of these strange 
peoples, announcements, formal introductions, as bril- 
liant as possible, being considered desirable both among 
savages and ourselves to give notice of a marriageable 
state. Our debuts have not departed far from aborig- 
inal ideas. 

The Junoesque wife of Seventh Man Who Wallows 
had just come from the via puna in her accustomed bath- 
ing attire, and, still dripping, seated herself in the sun 
near me to dry. She had added a jasmine blossom to 
the heavy gold hoops in her ears and had lit her pipe, 
and her handsome, large face was twisted between smiles 
and frowns as she tried to put in understandable words 
and gestures her recital of these customs: 

"Our girls, daughters of chiefs, such as I am, were 
kept hidden for months before we appeared for the first 
time in public in the tribal dance. The tapu was strict. 
We were secret in our mother's house and inclosure, 
without supposedly even being seen by any one but our 
relatives and their retainers. It was death to gaze upon 
us. We were tapu tapu. If we had cause to go out, 
our official guardian blew a conch-shell to warn all from 
the neighborhood. Not until the day of the dance or 
marriage ceremony, not until the feast was spread and 
the accepted suitor present to claim us, or the drums 
booming for the dance, were we shown to the multitude ; 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 333 

we had had months of omi omi, and would be in perfect 
condition and most beautiful." 

It was this omi omi, or massage, that many of the ear- 
lier chroniclers of the South Seas believed to be the 
cause of the chiefs and headmen of all these islands be- 
ing much bigger and handsomer than the common peo- 
ple. The hakaiki, or chiefs, men and women, through- 
out Polynesia astonished the voyagers and missionaries 
by their huge size. Often they were from four to six 
inches above six feet tall, and framed in proportion. 
Hardly a writing sailor or visitor to Hawaii, Tahiti, 
Samoa, or the Marquesas but remarks this striking fact. 
Many thought these headmen a different race than the 
others, but scientists know that family, food, and the cu- 
rious effect of the strenuous massage from infancy ac- 
count for the differences. The omi omi of these islands, 
the tarumi of Tahiti, and the lomi lomi of the Hawaiians 
all have a relation to the momi-ryoji, practiced by the 
tens of thousands of whistling blind itinerants through- 
out Japan. 

I had a remarkable illustration of the curative merits 
of omi omi when, having bruised my back by awkward- 
ness in sliding down a rocky waterfall into a once ta- 
booed pool with Vanquished Often and Exploding 
Eggs, I submitted myself to the ministrations of Juno 
and Vanquished Often. They would have me in the 
glare of the early morning sun on Seventh Man's pae- 
pae, and there were gales of laughter as they shouted 
out my physical differences from the Marquesans, my 
excellences, and my blemishes. On one side and on 
the other, both squatted, they handled me as if they un- 
derstood the locations of each muscle and nerve. They 



334 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

pinched and pulled, pressed and hammered, and other- 
wise took hold of and struck me, but all with a most 
remarkable skill and seeming exact knowledge of their 
method and its results. I was in agony over their treat- 
ment of me, but after a day as well as ever. 

Before I was given the omi omi, I was bathed by the 
two ladies with a care and nicety not to be bought at our 
best hammams. A tiny penthouse was made quickly 
of cocoanut-leaves, and in this was placed a great 
wooden trencher of water in which white hot stones were 
dropped. On a tiny stool I sat in the resulting steam, 
the delicious odor of kakaa leaves thrown into the boil- 
ing water aiding the vapor in effect on skin and nerves. 
Quite ten minutes I was compelled to remain in the 
penthouse, my fair jailers remaining obdurate outside 
despite my imploring cries to be released, my protesta- 
tions that I was being dissolved and would emerge a 
thing of shreds and patches. When I could not have 
stood it another second, my lungs bursting with re- 
straint, and my body hot enough to hurt my nervously 
caressing hands, I was suddenly let out and hurried to 
the beach, where Vanquished Often rushed with me into 
the beating surf. 

The sea seemed cold as an Adirondack lake, and I was 
for swimming beyond the breakers in fullest enjoyment 
of the relief, but my doctors would not allow me another 
minute and hand in hand rushed me to the chief's pae- 
pae, now my own, for my lenitive kneading. The 
bruises I had got in my awkward essay to emulate the 
agility of Exploding Eggs and Vanquished Often were 
deep and painful, but after half an hour of their pound- 
ing I fell asleep and remained unconscious six hours. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 335 

I was to myself a celestial musical instrument, a human 
xylophone, from which houris struck notes that made 
the stars whirl, and to the music of which Vanquished 
Often danced in the purple moonlight upon a milky 
cloud. Their cessation of the ojni omi woke me. It 
was past noon when I joined them and the whole merry 
populace of Vaitahu in the warm ocean waves. I was 
without pain or stiffness, and reborn to a childhood I 
had forgotten. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Skilled tattooers of Marquesas Islands a generation ago — Entire bodies 
covered with intricate tattooed designs — The foreigner who had him- 
self tattooed to win the favor of a Marquesan beauty — The magic 
that removed the markings when he was recalled to his former life 
in England. 

TATTOOING, the marking of designs on the 
human skin in life, is an art so old that its be- 
ginnings are lost to records. It was practised 
when the Neolithic brute went out to club his fellows 
and drag in his body to the fire his mate kept ever burn- 
ing. Its origin, perhaps, was contemporaneous with 
vanity, and that was in the heart of man before he 
branched from the missing limb of evolution. It per- 
haps followed in the procession of art the rude scratch- 
ings on bone and daubing on rock. In the caves of 
Europe with these childish distortions are found the im- 
plements with which the savage whites who lived in the 
recesses of the rocks tattooed their bodies. The Jews 
were forbidden by Moses to tattoo themselves, and the 
Arabs, with whom they had much converse, yet prac- 
tise it. In 1066 William of Malmesbury said that the 
English "adorned their skins with punctured designs." 
Kingsley, with regard for accuracy, makes Hereward 
the Wake, son of the Lady Godiva, have blue tattooing 
marks on wrists, throat, and knee ; a cross on his throat 
and a bear on the back of his hand. The Romans found 
the Britons stained with woad. The taste for such 

336 




From an old drawing 

Te Ipu, an old Marquesan chief, showing tattooing 




The famous tattooed leg of Queen Vaikehu 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 337 

marks existing to-day is evidenced by the pain and price 
paid by sailors and aristocrats of all white nations for 
them. Tattooing has faded under clothing which covers 
it and a less personal civilization which condemns it. 
In the Marquesas Islands it reached its highest develop- 
ment, and here was the most beautiful form of art known 
to the most perfect physical people on earth. 

Until the overthrow of Marquesan culture, the island 
of Fatu-hiva was the Florence of the South Seas. The 
most skillful workers at tattooing as well as carving 
lived in its valleys of Oomoa and Hanavave. During 
the weeks I have resided in them I delved into the his- 
tory and curiosities of this most intimate of fine arts, 
now expiring if not dead. Nataro, the most learned 
Marquesan alive, took me into its intricacies and made 
me know it for the proud, realistic performance it was, 
a dry-point etching on a growing plate from which no 
prints were to be made. Nataro's wife had one hand 
that is as famous and as admired in Fatu-hiva as "Mona 
Lisa's" portrait in Paris. A famous tuhuha wrought 
its design, a man equal in graphic genius, relatively, 
to Diirer or Rembrandt. Age and work had faded and 
wrinkled the picture, but I can believe her husband that, 
as a young woman, when the art was not cried down, 
people came from far valleys to view it. I recalled the 
right leg of the late Queen Vaekehu, the most notlable 
piece of art in all the Marquesas until it went with its 
possessor into the grave at Tai-o-hae. In late years 
the former queen of cannibals and last monarch of the 
Marquesas would not show her limb — a modest attitude 
for a recluse who lived with nuns and thought only of 
death. Stevenson confessed he never saw it above the 



338 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ankle, though the queen dined with him on the Casco. 
He had a poet's delicacy, an absolute lack of curiosity, 
and Mrs. Stevenson was with him. But he expressed 
a real sympathy for the iconoclastic ignorance that was 
destroying tattooing here. 

The queen, who had been the prize of bloody feuds 
and had danced at the feast of "long pig," had gone to 
her reward after years of beseechment of the Christian 
God for mercy, but I could almost see her once glorious 
leg in the life because of the two of my Atuona mother, 
Titihuti, which for months have passed my hut daily. 
They are replicas of the Queen's, said Nataro, with the 
difference that Titihuti's, beginning at her toe nails, 
reached a gorgeous cincture at her waist, while Vae- 
kehu's did not reach her hip, being, indeed, a perma- 
nent stocking. Some of the Easter Island women had 
an imitation of drawers delineated upon them, giving 
weight to the theory that these perpetuated the idea of 
clothing they wore in a colder clime, but of which they 
had preserved not even a legend. 

Women were seldom tattooed above the waist, ex- 
cept their hands, and fine lines about the mouth and 
upon the insides of the lips. This lip-coloring was, 
doubtless, the efforts of invaders to make the red lips of 
the Caucasian women, the fii'st Polynesian immigrants, 
conform to the invaders' inherited standards, as the 
Manchus put the queue on the Chinese. The Marque- 
san men like dark men. The last conquerors here were 
probably a darker race than the conquered, and they 
preserved their ideals of color, but, having come without 
women and seized the women they found, they let them 
preserve their own standards, except for red lips, which 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 339 

they tattooed blue. These latest coiners thought much 
pigment meant strong bones, and after a battle they 
searched the field for the darkest bodies to furnish fish- 
hooks and tools for canoe-making and carving. They 
thought the whites who first arrived were gods, and 
when they found they were men, with their same pas- 
sions, they thought they were ill. That is the first im- 
pression one who lives long with Polynesians has when 
he meets a group of whites. They look sickly, sharp- 
faced, and worried. They pay dear for factories and 
wheeled vehicles. 

Very probably the beginning of tattooing was the 
wish to frighten one's enemy, as masks were worn by 
many tribes, and as the American painted his face with 
ocher. That state was followed by the natural desire 
of the warrior, as evident yet as in Hector's day, to look 
manly and individualistic before the maidens of his 
tribe. And finally, as heraldry became complicated, 
tattooing grew, at least in Polynesia, into a record of 
sept and individual accomplishments and distinguishing 
marks. Here it had, as an art, freed itself from the 
bonds of religion, so that the artist had liberty to draw 
the Thing as he saw it, and had not to conform to priest- 
craft, a rule which probably hurt Egyptian art greatly. 

In New Zealand, where the Polynesians went from 
Samoa, a sometime rigorous climate demanded clothing, 
and the head became the piece de resistance of the tat- 
tooer. There was a considerable trade among whites in 
the preserved heads of New Zealanders until the supply 
ran out. White dealers procured the raiding of villages 
to sell their victim's visages. Museums and collectors 
of such curios paid well for these tattooed faces, but the 



340 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

demand exhausted the best efforts of the whites. After 
the rarest examples were dead and smoked, there was 
no stimulating the supply. The goods refused to be 
manufactured. The Solomon Islands now supply 
smoked human heads, but they have no adornment. 

Birds, fish, temples, trees, and plants — all the cosmos 
of the Marquesan — ^was a model for the tuhuka. He of- 
ten drew his designs in charcoal on the skin, but some- 
times proceeded with his inking sans pattern. He 
never copied, but drew from memory, though the same 
lines and tableaux might be repeated a thousand times ; 
and always he bore in mind the caste, tribe, and sex of 
the subject. Thus at a glance one could tell the valley 
and rank of any one, much as in Japan the station, age, 
moral standing, and other artificial qualities of women 
are indicated by their coiffure and ohi, or sash. 

The craft did not require any elaborate tools. The 
ama or candlenut soot with water, a graduated set of 
bone-needles, of human and pig origin, and a mallet 
were all the requirements. The paint or ink was of but 
one color, black or brown, which on a dark skin looked 
bluish and on a fair skin black. The marking of the 
parts most delicate and sensitive to pain, as the eyelids, 
was a parcel of the endeavor to promote stoicism and to 
show the foe the mettle of his opponent. Man did not 
consent for thousands of years to share his ornamenta- 
tion with women, and then insisted that the motif be 
beauty or the accentuation of sex. 

The tattooers, in order to learn from one another, to 
have art chats, to discuss prices and perhaps dead beats 
or slow payers, had societies or unions, in which were 
degrees and offices, the most favored in ability and by 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 341 

patronage being given the highest rank, though now 
and again a white man, by his superior magic and force, 
though no tuhuka at all, held the supreme position. 

A shark upon the forehead was the card of member- 
ship in the tattooers' lodge, to which were admitted oc- 
casionally enthusiastic and discerning patrons of art. 

At festival times, when tapus were to some degree 
suspended and the intertribal enmities forgotten for the 
nonce, thousands of men, women, and children gathered 
to eat, drink, and be merry, and to be tattooed, as one at 
country fairs buys new dresses and trinkets. It was 
to these fetes that the pot-boilers, fakers, and beginners 
among the talent came ; men who would make a sitter a 
scrawl for a heap of pipi, shells and gewgaws, a few 
squealing pigs, a roll of tapa, or, most precious of all, 
a whale's tooth. Like our second- and third-class 
painters, our wretched daubers who turn out canvases 
by the foot (though hand-painted) , these tramps, who, 
by a dispensation of the priests and a mocking provi- 
dence, were tapu, not to be attacked in any valley, 
strolled from tribe to tribe, promising much and giving 
little. Some worked largely on repair jobs, doing over 
spots where the skin had been abraded by injuries in 
battles, or by rocks or fire. The man who was well 
dressed in a suit of tattoo, or the lady who was clothed 
from toes to waist in a washable peau de femme, kept 
these garments in as good condition as possible, but 
when accident or the fortune of war injured the en- 
semble they hastened to have it touched up. 

An artist of the first rank, one who in a Marquesan 
salon would have a medal of honor, disdained such com- 
missions, but dauber and South Sea Da Vinci alike 



342 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

often had their work hung upon the hne, when they were 
taken by the enemy and suspended at the High Place 
before being dropped into the pit for the banquets of 
the cannibal victors. 

It was always of interest to me to wonder how men 
learned tattooing. Painters, 'carvers, etchers, and 
sculptors have material ever available for their' lessons. 
They can waste an infinity of canvas, wood, copper, or 
marble if they have the money to spend, but how about 
the apprentice or student who must have live-mediums 
even for practice? 

Well, just as there are Chinese who, for a considera- 
tion, take the place of persons condemned to death 
(though they do not, as alleged, make a living out of it) , 
and others who, though it exhaust and finally kill them, 
enter deadly trades or hire out for war, there were Mar- 
quesans who offered themselves as kit-cats for these stu- 
dents and sold their surface at so much an inch for any 
vile design or miserable execution. I can see these fel- 
lows, well covered with tapa, hiding whenever possible 
the caricatures and travesties that made them a laugh- 
ing show. These Hessians had no pride in complexion. 
Their skins they wanted full of food, nor cared at all 
for their outside if the inside man was replete. 

There were others who, too poor to pay even the 
itinerant wall-painters, let the students wreak their 
worst upon them, merely to be tattooed, good or bad, 
and many of these, like our millionaire picture buyers, 
were luckily denied any appreciation of art and did not 
know the imperfections of the shin pictures put upon 
them. 

"Tattooing in these islands," said Nataro, "was usu- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 343 

ally begun upon those able to pay for it at the age of 
puberty; but there were many exceptions of tattooing 
commenced upon boys soon after their infancy or de- 
ferred until mature manhood. Illness, poverty, or 
other obstacle might prevent, and the desire of parents 
might cause early tattooing. The father or other rel- 
ative or protector of the youth or girl paid the tuhuka 
but at the festivals even the very poor orphans were 
given opportunities to be tattooed by a general contri- 
bution, or the chief of the valley paid the fee. Years 
were occupied at intervals in the covering of the entire 
body of men, which was the aim; but many had to be 
content with having a part pictured, and often elaborate 
designs were never finished. You see many bare places, 
meant to be covered when the tuhuka began his work. 
Queen Vaekehu was converted to Christianity with but 
one leg done and forewent further beautification to 
serve her new God. Though begun in boyhood, the full 
adornment of a man could hardly be terminated before 
his thirtieth year. During his lifetime of sixty years 
he might have it renewed twice, and as each pore could 
not be duplicated exactly the third coat would make him 
a solid mass of color, the goal of manly beauty. 

"Though men usually sought to look terrible so that 
when they faced their enemies they would inspire fear, 
with women the sex motif was dominant," said Nataro. 
"Girls with beautiful bodies and legs are much more 
attractive when tattooed, and we selected the best 
formed for the most elaborate designs. These were 
drawn so that, as the girls danced naked, the whole pat- 
terns were obvious, and those who were the most sym- 
metrical won high honors in the great public exhibitions. 



344 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

If in the wide circle that chanted a utamd, while the old 
folks watched, a woman by exposing her beauty in a 
dance caused the voices of the young men to falter, or 
some one of them to become so entranced as to leap into 
the ring and seize her, she won a prize of acclamation 
for her parents which no other equaled. The dance 
stopped and all united in cheering the dancer. These 
beauties danced with their legs close together, so as to 
keep the design intact, lifting the 'heels backward and 
showing the shap'eliness of figure and the fineness of 
tattooing." 

To analyze thoroughly the meanings of the different 
designs upon the bodies of the Maoris, or upon the 
canoes, paddles, and bowls, was impossible now. It 
might be compared to the study of heraldry. Tattooing 
in the South Seas was a combination of art' and heraldry, 
racial and individual pride's sole written or graven 
record. 

In the Marquesas, the art reached its zenith. It was 
the Marquesans' national expression, their art, their 
proof of Spartan courage, the badge of the warrior, 
and the glory of sex. In the man it marked ambition 
to meet the enemy and to win the most beautiful women. 
In the weaker vessel it was a coquetry, highly developed 
among daughters of chiefs and women of personal force ; 
and it afforded those who had submitted to the efforts 
of the best craftsmen opportunities to display their 
charms in public to the most striking advantage. 

Nataro said that when the law against tattooing was 
enforced here a few years ago a number went to prison 
rather than obey it, but that when it was abrogated the 
art was already dead. It is kept alive now, except in 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 345 

a few cases, only by the placing of names upon the arms 
of the girls. Many tuhukas were still living, but there 
was little call for their work. 

"They were our highest class, next to the chiefs," 
said Nataro. "We looked up to them as you do to your 
great. They were feted and made much of, and their 
schools were our art centers, teaching besides tattooing, 
the carving of wood, bowls, canoes, clubs, and paddles. 
Now we buy tin cans and china plates. Von den 
Steinen, the German philologist, connected with the 
Berlin museum, who was here ten years ago, copied 
every tattoo pattern he saw, and in many he found a 
relation to Indian or Asiatic and perhaps other hiero- 
glyphics and figures of thousands of years ago." 

With the ridiculing of it by the missionaries, who as- 
sociated it with heathenry, and the making of it a crime 
by the missionary-directed chiefs of Tahiti, tattooing 
vanished there almost a hundred years ago, but here 
the law against it was very recent. The law written by 
the English Protestant missionaries in Tahiti was as fol- 
lows: 

No person shall mark with tatau, it shall be entirely discon- 
tinued. It belongs to ancient evil customs. The man or woman 
that shall mark with tatau, if it be clearly proved, shall be 
tried and punished. The punishment shall be this — he shall 
make a piece of road ten fathoms long for the first marking, 
twenty for the second ; or stone work four fathoms long and two 
wide ; if not this, he shall do some work for the king. This shall 
be the woman's punishment — she shall make two large mats, one 
for the king and one for the governor ; or four small mats, for 
the king two, and for the governor two. If not this, native 
cloth twenty fathoms long and two wide ; ten fathoms for the 



346 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

king and ten for the governor. The man and woman that per- 
sist in tatauing themselves successively four or five times, the 
figures marked shall be destroyed by blacking them over, and 
the individuals shall be punished as above written. 

To achieve a fairly complete picture upon one's body 
meant many months of intense suffering, the expendi- 
ture of wealth, and a decade of years of very gradual 
progress toward the goal after' manhood was attained ; 
but for a man in the former days to lack the Stripes of 
Terror upon his face, to have a bare countenance, or one 
not yet marked by the initial strokes of the hammer of 
the tattooer was to be a poltroon and despised of his 
tribe. 

Such a one must expect to have no apple of love 
thrown at him, t'o awaken no passion in womankind, nor 
ever to find a wife to bear him children. He was as 
the giaour among the Turks. He had no honor in life 
or death, no foothold in the ranks of the warriors, or 
place among the shades of Po. 

So when white men were cast by shipwreck in those 
isles, or fled from duty on whalers or warships, and 
sought to stay among the Marquesans, they acceded to 
the honored customs of their hosts, and adopted their 
facial adornment and often in the course of years their 
whole bizarre garb. The courage that did not shrink 
from dwelling among cannibals could not wilt at' the 
blow of the Tiama. 

The explorer in the far North, who lets his face be- 
come covered with a great growth of hair, when he in- 
tends to return to civilization can with a few strokes of 
a razor be again as before. But once the curious ink 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 347 

of the tattooer has bitten into the skin, it is there forever. 
It is like the pits of smallpox; it can never be erased. 
Through all his life, and into the grave itself, the human 
canvas must bear the pictures painted by the artist of 
the needles. It was a chain as strong as steel, riveted 
on him, that fastened him to these lotus isles. So men 
of America or Europe did not return to their native land 
from the Marquesas, but died here. The whorls and 
lines in the ama dye wrote exile forever from the loved 
ones at home. 

Is that wholly true? Had not science or sorcery ne- 
penthe for the afflicted by such a horror — horror if un- 
wanted? Is there not one who has escaped such a fat^ 
when life had become fearful under it ? 

I asked that question of all, and in the valley of Han- 
avave was answered. I had rowed to Hanavave in the 
whaleboat of Grelet, and, when he returned to Oomoa, 
stayed on a month for the fishing with Red Chicken 
and discussions with Pere Olivier. 

"There is a sorcerer in the hills near here," said the 
old French priest, thirty-five years there without leav- 
ing, "who was said to be the best tattooer on Fatu-hiva. 
He is still a pagan, and has a wonderful memory. Take 
some tobacco and a pipe, and go to visit him. He may 
be in league with the devil, but he is worthy an hour's 
journey." 

Puhi Enata was still vigorous, though very old. The 
designs upon his face and body were a strange green, 
the verde antique which the ama ink becomes on the 
flesh of the confirmed kava drinker. I greeted him 
with "Kaoha!" and soon, with the chunk of tobacco be- 
side him and the new pipe lit, I led him to the subject. 



348 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

The story is not mine but his, and it has all the weird 
flavor of these exotic gardens of mystery. It is true 
without question, and I have often thought since of the 
American concerned in it, and wondered at his after 
fate. 

We were seated, Puhi Enata and I, upon the paepae 
of his home, the platform of huge stones on which all 
houses in the Land of the War Fleet are built. 

In the humid air of that tropic parallel he made pass 
before me a panorama of fantastic tragedy as real as 
the life about me, but as astounding and as vivid in its 
facts and its narration as the recital of a drama of an- 
cient Athens by a master of histrionics. I laughed or 
shuddered with the incidents of the story. He spoke in 
his native tongue, and I have given his words as thej'^ fil- 
tered through the screen of my alien mind, not always 
exactly, but in consonance with the cast of thought of 
that far-away and unknown land. 

"We had no whites here when he came, this man of 
your islands. Other valleys had them, but Hanavave, 
no. Few ships have come to this bay. Tai-o-hae, a 
day and a night and more distant, they sought for food 
and water and now for copra, but Hanavave was, as 
always, lived in by us only. Yet we ever welcomed the 
haoe, the stranger, for he had ways of interest, and often 
magic greater than ours. 

"He came one day on a ship from far, this white man 
I tell about, and of whom even now I often medi- 
tate. He was not of the sea, but on the ship as one 
who pays to move about over the waters, looking for 
something of interest. That thing he found here. He 
brought ashore his guns and powder, his other posses- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 349 

sions of wonder, and let the ship go away without him. 
He had seen Titihuti, and his koekoe, his spirit, was set 
aflame." 

I needed no description by the tuhuka to bring before 
me Titihuti, to see that maddening, matchless child- 
woman, nor to know the desperate plight of a white who 
fell in love with her. She must have been the Helen of 
these Pacific Greeks, for men came from other islands to 
woo her, fought over her, and embroiled tribes in bloody 
warfare at her whim. Her affairs had been the history 
of her valley for a brief period, and were immortalized 
in chants and in legends though she still lived. Many 
had related to me stories of her beauty, her spell over 
men, and her wicked pleasure in deceiving them. 

She was the daughter of a chief, of a long line of 
hakaiki, of noble mothers and of warriors, and an adept 
in the marvelous cult of beauty, of sex expression, which 
to the Marquesan woman was the field of her dearest 
ambition, the professional stage and the salon of society. 

"The day he came to this beach," said the sorcerer, 
"was the day she first danced in the Grove of the Mei, 
at the annual gathering of the tribe. All the people 
of the ship were invited, and not least he who had no 
duties but his desires, and who brought from the vessel 
a barrel of rum as his gift to the people. It was as rich 
as the full moon, as strong as the surf in storm, and in 
every drop a dream of fortune. It made that foreigner 
of note at once, and he was given a seat at the Hurahura, 
the Dance of Passion, in which Titihuti for the first time 
took her place as a woman and an equal of others. She 
was then thirteen years old, a moi kanahau, her form as 
the bud of the pahue flower, her hair red-gold, like the 



350 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

fish of the lagoon, and her skin as the fresh-opened 
breadfruit. The Grove of the Mei you have been in, 
but you cannot imagine that scene. A hundred torches 
of candlenuts, strung on the spine of the palm-leaf, lit 
the dancing mead. The grass had been cut to a smooth- 
ness, and all the valley was there. As is usual in these 
annual debuts of our girls, at the height of the bread- 
fruit season, a dozen were allowed to show their beauty 
and skill. These danced to the music of drums and of 
hand-clapping and chanting before the entire tribe 
seated on the grass." 

The old man lit the pipe, which had gone out, and 
puffed out the blue clouds of smoke as if they were 
recollections of the past. 

"Finally, as the custom is, the plaudits of the crowd 
narrowed the contest to three. Each as she danced ap- 
pealed for approval, and each had followers. By the 
judgment of the throng all had retired but three after 
a first effort. These began the formal titii e te epo. 
This is the dance of love, the dance we Marquesans have 
ever made the test of the female's fascination. 

"Before the first of the three danced, the rum was 
passed. It was drunk from cups of leaves, and each 
in turn drew from the cask. It ran through our veins 
like fire through the pandanus. The great drum then 
sounded the call. 

"Tahiatini came from the shadow of the trees. She 
wore a dress of tapa, made from the pith of the mul- 
berry-tree, and as the dance became faster she tossed it 
off until she moved about quite nude. For this, of 
course, is part of the test. A hundred men, mostly 
young, stood and watched her, and watching them were 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 351 

the judges, the elders of the race, men and women. 
For, Menike, in the expression, the heat, or the coolness 
of those standing men was counted the success or failure 
of the dancer. And they were taught by pride and by 
the rules of the event to conceal every feeling, as did the 
warrior who faced the launched spear. They were to 
be as the stones of the paepae. 

"Tahiatini passed back into the trees, and Moeo suc- 
ceeded her. She seemed to feel that Tahiatini had not 
scored heavily. She danced marvelously for one who 
had never before been in the Grove of Mei, and the 
shrewd judges reckoned more than one of the silent hun- 
dred who could not restrain from some mark of ap- 
proval. There was, when she fell back, a shout of pr,aise 
from the crowd, and the judges conferred while the rum 
was handed about for the second time. 

"Then Titihuti was thrust out from the darkness, and 
from her first step we realized that a new enchantress 
had come to torment the warriors. I have lived long, 
and many of those dances in the Grove of Mei I have 
seen. Never before or since that night have I known 
a girl to do what she did. Her hahu of tapa was as red 
as the sun when the sea swallows it, and hung over one 
shoulder, so that her bosom, as white as the ripe cocoa- 
nut, gleamed in the light of the burning ama. 

"Her hair was in two plaits of flame, and the glitter- 
ing ghost flowers were over her ears. You know she 
had for months been out of the day and under the hands 
of those who prepare the dancers. Her body was as 
rounded as the silken bamboo, and her skin shone with 
the gloss of ceaseless care. 

"She advanced before the silent hundred, moving as 



352 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the slow waters of the brook, and as she passed each 
one she looked into his eyes and challenged him, as the 
fighting man his enemy. Only she looked love and not 
hatred. Then she bounded into the center of the line 
and, casting off her kahu, she stood before them, and 
for the first time bared her beautiful body in the titii e 
te epo, the Dance of the Naked. She fluttered as a bird 
a few moments, the bird that seeks a mate, the kuku of 
the valley. On her little saffroned feet she ran about, 
and the light left her now in brilliancy and now in 
shadow. She was searching for the way from childhood 
to womanhood. 

"Then the great pdhu, the war-drum of human skin, 
was struck by O Nuku, the sea-shells blew loudly, and 
the Hurahura was proclaimed. You know that. Few 
are the men who resist. Titihuti was as one aided by 
Veinehae, the Woman Demon. She flung herself into 
that dance with madness. All her life she and her 
mother had awaited that moment. If she could tear the 
hearts of those warriors so that their breasts heaved, 
their limbs twitched, and their eyes fell before her, her 
honor was as the winner of a battle. It was the supreme 
hour of a woman's existence. 

"The judges seized the flambeaux and scrutinized 
closely the faces of the men. First one yielded and 
then another. Try as they might to be as the rocks of 
the High Place, they felt the heat and melted. A dozen 
were told off in the first few minutes of Titihuti's dance, 
though Tahiatini and Moeo had won but two or three. 
Faster grew the music, and faster spun about her hips 
the torso of Titihuti. The judges caught the rhythm. 
They themselves were convulsed by the spell of the girl. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 353 

The whole line of the silent hundred was breaking when, 
as the breadfruit falls from the tree, suddenly sprang 
upon the mead the foreigner who had come but that 
day. Though others of the ship tried to hold him, he 
broke from them, and, clasping Titihuti in his arms, de- 
clared that she was* his, and that he would defend his 
capture. The drums were quieted, the judges rushed 
to the pair, and, for the time of a wave's lapping the 
beach, spears were seized. 

"But the ritual of the rum began, and in the crush 
about the cask the judges awarded Titihuti the Orchid 
of the Bird, the reward of the First Dancer. She stood 
in the light of the now dying torches, and when the for- 
eigner would embrace her and lead her away she turned 
her laughing eyes toward him and called out so that 
many heard : 

" 'You are without ornament, O Haoe. Cover your 
face as do Marquesan lovers, or get you back to your 
island !' 

"Then she hurried away to receive the praise and to 
taste the glory of her achievement among her own 
family." 

The Taua took his long knife and with repeated blows 
hacked off the upper half of a cocoanut to make ready 
another drink. I had a very vivid idea of the situation 
he had described. That handsome young man of Eu- 
rope, belike of wealth, seeking to surrender to his va- 
grant fancies in this contrasting environment, and find- 
ing that among these savages he had position only as 
his rum bought it with the men, and was without it at all 
among the women. One could fancy him all afire after 
that dance of abandon, ready on the instant to yield to 



354 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the deepest of all instincts, and surprised, astounded, 
almost unbelieving at his repulse. He might have 
learned that such repulse was not even in the manner 
of the Marquesans, but solely the whim of Titihuti, the 
beginning of that career of whimsical passion and insou- 
ciance which carried her fame from island to island and 
fetched other proud whites from afar to know her favor. 
He himself had come a long way to be the unwitting vic- 
tim of the most prankish girl and woman who ever 
danced a tribe to death and destruction, but who withal 
was worth more than she who launched the thousand 
ships to batter Ilium's towers. 

"And did he cover his face?" I demanded, hurrying 
to follow the windings of fate. 

''Er said the sorcerer. "He gained the friendship 
of chiefs. He let his ship sail away with but a paper 
with words to his tribe, and he stayed on. He hunted, 
he swam, and he drank, but he could not touch his nose 
to the nose of Titihuti; for his nose was naked. Weeks 
passed, but not his passion. He hovered about her as 
the great moth seeks the fireflies, but ever she was busied 
with her pomades and her massage, the ena unguent and 
the baths, the omi-omi and the combing of her red-gold 
tresses. She had set him aflame, but had no alleviation 
for him. 

"And then when the moon was at its height she 
danced again, this time alone, as the undisputed veJiine 
haka of Fatu-hiva. The foreigner sat and gazed, and 
when Titihuti glided to where he was and, planting her 
feet a metero away, addressed herself to him, he shook 
with longing. She was perfumed with the jasmine, and 
about her breasts were rings of those pink orchids of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 355 

the mountains. The foreigner felt the warmth of her 
presence as she posed in the attitudes of love. He 
bounded to his feet and, clasping her for the second 
time to him, he shouted that he would be tattooed, he 
would be a man among men in the Marquesas. 

"There was no delay; I myself tattooed him. As 
always the custom, I took him into the mountains and 
built the patiki, the house for the rite. That is as it 
should be, for tattooing is of our gods and of our reli- 
gion before the whites destroyed it. I was and am the 
master of our arts. I did not sketch out my design 
upon his skin with burned bamboo, as do some, but 
struck home the ama ink directly. My needles were the 
bones of one whom I had slain, an enemy of the Oi tribe. 
I myself gathered the candlenuts and, burning them to 
powder, mixed that with water and made my color. 
My mallet, or hama, was the shin of another whom I 
had eaten." 

Such a man as Leonardo, who painted "Mona Lisa" 
and designed a hundred other beautiful things, or Cel- 
lini of the book and a vast creation of intricate marvels, 
would have understood the exactness of that art of tat- 
tooing in the Marquesas. Suppose "Mona Lisa" her- 
self, an expanse of her fair back, and not mere linen, 
bore her picture. What infinite pains ! Not more than 
took the taua in such a task. In his mind his plan, he 
dipped his needle in the ama soot, and, placing the point 
upon a pore of the flesh, he lightly tapped the other ex- 
tremity of the bone with his hama of shin and impressed 
the sepia into the living skin, for each point of flesh mak- 
ing a stroke. 

Followed fever after several hours of frightful an- 



356 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

guish. The dentist is the ministrant of caresses, his 
the loved hand of pleasure, compared with the suffering 
caused to the quivering body by the blows of those 
needles. A seance of tattooing followed, and several 
days of sickness. He had not the strength of the na- 
tives in the pain, and often he cried out, but yet Jie 
signed that the tattooing should go on. 

"Across his eyes upon the lids, and from ear to ear, 
I made a line as wide as two of your teeth, and I crossed 
lines as wide from the corners of his forehead to the cor- 
ners of his chin. As he was to be admitted to the Lodge 
of Tattooers, I put upon his brow the sacred shark as big 
as Titihuti's hand. I was four moons in all- that, and all 
the time he must lie within his hut, never leaving it or 
speaking. I handed him food and nursed him between 
my work. Upon our darker skin the black candlenut 
ink is, as you know, as blue as the deep waters of the 
sea, but on him it was black as night, for his flesh was 
white. 

"He was handsome as ever god of war in the High 
Place, that foreigner, and terrible to behold. His eyes 
of blue in their black frames were as threatening as 
the thunders of the ocean, and above the black shark 
glistened his hair, as yellow as the sands of the shore. A 
breadfruit season had passed when we descended the 
mountain, and he was received into the tribe of Hana- 
vave. We called him Tohiki for his splendor, though 
his name was Villee, as we could say it." 

There is a curious quibble in the recital of the Poly- 
nesian. He arrives at a crisis of his tale, and avoids it 
for a piece of wit or an idle remark. Perhaps it is to 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 357 

pique the listener's interest, to deepen his attention, or 
it is but the etiquette of the bard. 

"Titihuti?" I interposed. 

"Tuitui!" he ejaculated. "You put weeds in my 
mouth. That girl, that Titihuti, had left her paepae 
and vanished. Some said she dwelt with a lover in an- 
other valley. Others that she had been captured at 
night by the men of Oi Valley. It was always our ef- 
fort to seize the women of other tribes. They made the 
race stronger. But Titihuti was not in Oi or with a 
lover. Her love was her beauty, and soon we learned 
that she was gone into the hills herself to be tattooed. 
You, American, have seen her legs, and know the full 
year she gave to those. They are even to-day the hana 
metai okoy the loveliest and most perfect of all living 
things." 

"And Willie, the splendid Tokihi, what said he?" 

"Aue! He dashed up and down the valleys seeking 
her. He offered gifts for her return. He cried and 
he drank. But the tattooing is tabu, and it would have 
been death to have entered the hut where she was against 
the wish of the artist. Then he turned on me and cursed 
me, and often he sat and looked at himself in the pool 
in the brook by his own paepae. That foreigner lost his 
good heart. No longer was he kind and gentle. It 
was he who led us against the valley of Oomoa, and with 
his gun wrought great harm to those people. It was 
he who was ready to fight at but the drop of a cocoanut 
upon his roof. He took no women, and he became the 
fiercest man of Hanavave. When the year had gone, 
and Titihuti came back, he would not see her in the 



358 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

dance, though in it she showed her decorative legs for the 
first time. He cursed her, too, and said she was a sister 
of the feki, the devil-fish. He dwelt among us for sev- 
eral years as one who leads the tribe, but is not of it. Of- 
ten he but missed death by the breadth of a grain of 
sand, for he flung himself on the spears, he fought the 
sea when it was angered, and he drank each night of the 
namu, the wine of the cocoanut flower grown old, until 
he reeled to his mat as a canoe tossing at the fishing. 

"Then one day came a canoe from Tai-o-hae, witli 
words on paper for him from his own people. A ship 
from his island was there and had sent on the paper. 
That was a day to remember. There were with the 
paper tiki, those faces of people you make on paper. 
Villee seized those things, and, running to his paepue, he 
sat him down and began to look them over. He eyed 
the words, and he put the tiki to his lips. Then he lay 
down upon his mat and wept. For much time he was 
like a child. He rolled about as if he had been struck 
in the body by a war-club, and at last he called me. I 
went to him with a shell of namu. 

" 'Drink!' I said. 'It will lift you up.' 

"He knocked the shell from my hand. 

" 'I will drink no more,' he cried. 'My father is dead, 
and my brother. I am the chief of my tribe. I have 
land and houses and everything good in my own island, 
but, alas! I have this!' 

"He pointed to the black shark upon his forehead, 
and then he shouted out harsh words in his own lan- 
guage. I left him, for he was like one from whom the 
spirit has gone, but who still lives. I thought of the 
strangeness of tribes. In ours he was a noble and hon- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 359 

ored man for that shark, and yet in his own as hateful 
as the barefaced man here. Man is, as the wind cloud, 
but a shifting vapor. 

"Often, a hundred times, I saw him sitting by the 
pool and gazing into it as though to wash out by his 
glances the marks on his countenance. He was as deep 
in the mire of despair as the victim awaiting the oven. 
Nature's mirror showed him why he could not leave for 
his land and his chieftaincy. And, American^ for a 
woman, too. I saw him many times look at that tiki 
and read the words. Maybe he had fled from her in 
anger. Now he was great among his people, and she 
called him. Maybe. My own heart was heavy for him 
when he fixed his eyes on that still water. 

"After weeks of melancholy he summoned me one 
day. 

" 'Taua/ he said, 'is there no magic, no other ink, no 
bones, that will quit me of this ?' 

"He swept his hand over his face. 

" 'I will give you my gun, my canoe, my coats, and I 
will send you by the ship barrels of rum and many 
things of wonder.' 

"He took my hand, and the tears followed the lines 
of the tattooing down his cheeks. 

" 'Tokihi,' I replied, 'no man in the Marquesas has 
ever wanted to take from his skin that which made him 
great to his race, yet there is a legend that wanders 
through my stomach. I will consult the lodge. It 
would be magic, and it may be tapu/ 

"The next day I found him lying on his paepae, his 
face dow .1. He was a leaf that slowly withers. 

'Villee,' I said, and rubbed his back, 'there is for 



<c o 



360 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

you perhaps happiness yet. I have talked with the wise 
old men of the lodge.' 

"He raised himself, and fixed his dull eyes on me. 

" 'One Kihiputona says that the milk of a woman will 
work the magic. I can not say, for it is with the gods.' 

"The foreigner sprang to his feet. 

" 'Come, let us lose no time!' he cried. 'It is that or 
the eva/ 

"Marquesans, when tired of life, eat the eva fruit. I 
made all ready, and, taking my daughter and her babe, 
with food, and the things of the tattooing, we again 
went to the hut in the mountains. Together we built it 
over, and made all ready for the trial. 

" 'Remember, foreigner,' I said, 'this is all before the 
Etud, the rulers of each one's good and evil. I have 
never done this, nor even the wisest of us has ought but 
a faint memory of a memory that once a white man thus 
was freed to go back to his kin.' 

" 'E aha a — no matter,' he said. 'There is no choice. 
Begin!' ' 

"I warned him not to utter a word until I released the* 
tapu. I made all ready. Then I had him lie down, his 
head fixed in a bamboo section, and I began the long 
task." 

The sorcerer sighed, and spat through his fingers. 

"Two moons he was there, silent. I worked faster 
than before, because I had no designs to make. I only 
traced those of the years before. But the suffering was 
even greater, and when I struck the bone-needles upon 
his eyelids he groaned through his closed mouth. 
Every day I worked as long as he could endure. Some- 
times he all but died away, but the omi omi, the rubbing. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 361 

made him again aware, and as I went on I gained hope 
myself. His own skin was by nature as that of the white 
orchid, and the weeks in the patiki out of the sunlight, 
with the oil and the saffron, made it as when he was 
child. The milk was driven into a thousand little holes 
in the flesh, and by magic it changed the black of ama to 
white. I think some wonder made it do so, but you 
should know such things. I left the shark until the last, 
but long before I came to it the gods had spoken. 
Faded slowly the candlenut soot, and crept out, as the 
silver-fish in the caves of Hana Hevane, the bright 
color of that foreigner. 

"Many times his eyes, when I let loose the hds, lifted 
to mine in inquiry, but I was without answer. Yet 
nearer I felt the day when I would possess that gun and 
canoe and the barrels of rum. 

"It came. A week had gone since I had touched with 
the needles his face, and most of it he had slept. Now 
he was round with sleep and food, and one morning 
when he awoke, I seized him by the hand and said, 
'Kaoha!' The tapu was ended; the task was done."* 

"And he?" I said greedily. 

"He was as a man who wakes from a dream of horror. 
He said not a word, but went with me and with my 
daughter and the babe down the trail to this village. 
Here he stole silently to his pool, and, lying down, he 
looked long into it. Then he made a wild cry as if he 
had come to a precipice in the dark and been kept from 
falling to death by the mere gleam of fungus on a tree. 
He fell back, and for a httle while was without mind. 
Awake again, he rushed about the village clasping each 
one he met in his arms, rubbing noses with the girls, and 



362 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

singing queer songs — himenes to e aave — of his island. 
His laughter rang in the groves. Now he was as when 
he had come to us, gay, kind, and without deep thought. 

"The gods had for that moon made him theirs, for 
soon came a canoe with news that a ship of his country 
was at Tai-o-hae. Never did a man act more quickly. 
He made a feast, and to it he invited the village. A 
day it took to prepare it, the pigs in the earth, the popoi, 
the fish cooked on the coral stones, the fruits, and the 
nuts. To it he gave all his rum, and he handed me his 
gun, the paddles of his canoe, and his coats. 

"But Po, the devil of night, crouched for him. The 
canoe to take him to Tai-o-hae was in the water, waiting 
but the end of the koina hai. Plentifully all drank the 
rich rum, but Tokihi most. Titihuti even he had 
greeted, and she sat beside him. She was now loath to 
have him go; you know woman. She leaned against 
him, and her eyes promised him aught that he would. 
She was more beautiful than on that night when she had 
spurned him, and she struck from him a spark of her 
own willful fancy. He took her a moment to his bosom, 
ibeld her as the wave holds the rock before it recedes, 
and then, as the madness she ever made crept upon him, 
he drew back from her, held her again a fierce moment, 
and, dashing his cup to the earth, he turned upon her in 
fury. 

"It was the evil noon. The eye of the sun was 
straight upon him, and as he cursed her, and shouted 
that now he was free from her, the blood rushed into his 
face, and painted there scarlet as the hibiscus the marks 
of the tattooing. The black ama the magic had erased 
now shone red. The stripes across his eyes and face 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 363 

were like the scars a burning brand leaves, and the shark 
of the lodge was a leper's sign upon his brow. 

'' 'Mutul' I cried, for I saw death in the air if he 
knew, and all the gifts lost to me. 'Silence!' And the 
tribe heeded. No quiver, no glance showed the for- 
eigner that one had seen what he himself had not. Titi- 
huti fastened her gaze on him a fleeting second, and then 
began the dance of leave-taking. 

"We raised the chant: 

*Apae! 

Kaoha! te Haoe. 

Mau oti oe anao nei.* 

"To the canoe we bore him, and thrusting it into the 
breakers, we called the last words, "^E avei atu!' 

"He was gone forever from Fatu-hiva. And thus I 
got this latter name I have, Puhi Enata, the Man with 
the Gun." 

The old sorcerer rolled a leaf of pandanus about a few 
grains of tobacco. 

"And you never had word of him?" 

"Aoe, no," he said meditatively. "He went upon 
that ship at Tai-o-hae. But, American, I think often 
that when that man who was Tokihi came to dance in 
his own island, to sit at his own tribe's feasts, or when 
the ardor of love would seize him, always he tried to be 
calm." 



CHAPTER XVIII 

A fantastic but dying language — The Polynesian or Maori Tongue — Mak- 
ing of the first lexicons — Words taken from other languages — Decay 
of vocabularies with decrease of population — Humors and whim- 
sicalities of the dictionary as arranged by foreigners. 

MALICIOUS Gossip and Le Brunnec taught 
me Marquesan in the "man-eating isle of 
Hiva-Oa," as Stevenson termed my home. 
After supper or dinner I had a lesson in my paepae; 
often in a mixed group, for the beginnings of democracy 
are in the needs of company. Here were the governor, 
the highest official, an army officer and surgeon; Le 
Brunnec, a small trader; Kekela, a Hawaiian; Puhe, the 
hunchback servant of Bapp, the trader; Exploding 
Eggs, Ghost Girl, and Malicious Gossip and her hus- 
band. Mouth of God. The governor spoke French and 
a very little English, Le Brunnec those and Marquesan, 
Mouth of God and his wife Marquesan and a trifle of 
French, Kekela Marquesan and English, and the hunch- 
back Marquesan only. Ghost Girl, of course, knew only 
that, but she never spoke at all except to beg for rum or 
tobacco. Lonesomeness made us intimate despite our 
difference of origin, status and language. We talked 
about the Marquesan language, and we two compara- 
tive newcomers strove to enlarge our vocabulary. 

The derivation of words is an absorbing pursuit. 
Enwrapped in it are history and romance, the advance 
from the primitive, the gradual march of civilization, 

364 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 365 

and, besides, many a good laugh; for man made merry 
as he came up, and the chatterings of the missing links 
are often heard in the chase through the buried centuries 
for the beginnings of language. The Aryan, English's 
ancestor, was originally made up of a single consonant 
between two vowels, and I fancied I was speaking my 
ancestral words in this aboriginal tongue. 

"There is nothing more fascinating than etymologies. 
To the uninitiated the victim seems to have eaten of 
'insane roots that take the reason prisoner'; while the 
illuminate too often looks upon the stems and flowers 
of language, the highest achievements of thought and 
poesy, as mere handles by which to pull up the gi'im tu- 
bers that lie at the base of articulate expression, sacred 
knobs of speech, sacred to him as the potato to the Irish- 
man." James Russell Lowell had himself eaten of that 
maddening weed. These Marquesan verbal radicals en- 
gaged me both by their interest and their humor. 

The erudite philologist may barken back to the Chal- 
daic or another dead language of Asia or Africa and 
make ponderous tomes upon his research, but the ama- 
teur can dig as he plays only by being actually with a 
simple, semi-savage people, as I was, and finding among 
them, still active, the base and shght growth of human 
thought and emotion in speech. The most alluring 
tongue in sound and origin is the Maori, and Marque- 
san is Maori. It is spoken from Hawaii to New Zea- 
land, and is termed the "grand Polynesian" language. 
The people of those two groups of islands, as well as 
those of the Marquesan, Society, Friendly, Paumotuan, 
Samoan, Tongan, and some other small archipelagos, 
have it as their vernacular, though its variations are so 



366 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

great as to prevent converse except limitedly between the 
different islands. The Maori tongue is as full of mel- 
ancholy as are those passing races. -Soon it will be lost to 
use, like the ancient Greek or the mellifluous idiom of 
the cultivated Incas. It is decaying so fast now that a 
few years mark a decided loss of words, and lessen the 
adherence to any standard. Yet it is the most charm- 
ing of all present expressions of thought or emotion, and 
it is a great pity that it perishes. One sighs for a South 
Seas Sinn Fein to revivify it. 

The Polynesians, as scientists call them, know them- 
selves, and therefore their tongue as Maori. And just 
as "British" to an Englishman is a word of pride, and 
"American" to our patriotic schoolboys and orators the 
greatest word ever coined, so "Maori" actually means 
first-class, excellent, fine. The Maoris were hundred 
per centers before the Chosen People. 

I have lived much with Maori folk in many archipel- 
agos and listened for years to their soft and simple, 
sweet and short words. Their speech is like the rip- 
pling of gentle waters, the breezes through the bread- 
fruit-trees. It has color and rhythm and a euphonism 
unequalled. Language begins as poetry and ends as al- 
gebra, but here the algebraic stage was not reached, and 
there remained something of the unconscious uprush of 
its beginning, and the subliminal laws of mind which 
shaped its construction. For the Maori is a very old 
language, older than Greek or Latin, and was cut off 
from other languages at the outset of culture, before 
the mud of the Tigris was made into pots. The Mar- 
quesan indigene was never so complex, as in acute civili- 
zation, that his language could not tell what he thought 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 367 

and felt, though he, too, had art to supplement words, 
as his tattooing, carving, houses, and temples prove. 

The Maori has one inflexible rule, that no word shall 
end in a consonant, that no two consonants shall be to- 
gether, and that all letters in a word be sounded. 

There are only fifteen letters, or sounds, in the pure 
alphabet, b, c, d, j, h, 1, q, s, w, x, and y being unknown. 
In some dialects other letters have been introduced in 
the adaptation of foreign words. They are not, how- 
ever, properly Polynesian. Words are usually un- 
changeable, but pronouns and the auxiliary verb "to be" 
and many adjectives and verbs have curious doubling 
quality, like ino lino; horo, hohoro, horohoro; haere, ha- 
haere. li in Marquesan means "anger" ; iiii means "red 
in the face from anger." The adjective follows the 
noun, as in moa iti, little chicken, iti is the adjective. 
The subject comes after the verb "to be," expressed or 
understood, or after the verb that denotes the action of 
the subject. 

The Maoris knew no genders except those for beings 
by nature male or female, and these they indicate by 
following words. In Tahitian, tane means "man," and 
vahine "woman," or "male and female." Thus 1 was 
called often O'Brien tane, and, where the same proper 
names are applied to men and women, the word tane 
or vahine indicates the sex; The sign of a well-known 
merchant in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti and the en- 
trepot of the South Seas reads, "Tane Meuel," the 
Tane being the name his proud parents gave him when 
born to show their delight at his being a boy. 

While there is a dispute over the origin of the Maori, 
my friend, McMillan Brown of New Zealand, a su- 



368 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

preme authority, believes it separated from the primeval 
Aryan a millennium or two ago, in the stone age, and 
came into the Pacific with the migration that first 
brought women into these waters. Some scholars say 
the language is* to be classed with the modem European 
tongues, and especially with Enghsh. They cite the 
reduction of inflection to a minimum, the expression of 
the grammatical relationship of words by their order in 
the sentence, the use of auxiliaries and participles, the 
power of interchanging the significant parts of speech 
as occasion requires; the indication of the number of 
nouns by articles or other definitives, cases by preposi- 
tions, gender by the addition of the word for male or 
female, the degree of adjectives by a separate word, and 
the mood and tense of verbs by a participle. 

As English spoken in isolated mountain regions — 
among the poor whites of the Middle West and South 
of the United States — becomes attenuated and broken, 
so in many of these islands and archipelagos the Maori 
language became differentiated by chmate and environ- 
ment, and shriveled by the limitations of its use. The 
Marquesan has been weakened by phonetic decay, the 
1 and r almost disappearing, and in some places, too, 
the k being hardly ever heard. 

As a nation perishes, so does its language. As its 
numbers decrease, the vocabulary of the survivors 
shrinks. It does not merely cease to grow; it lessens. 
Cornwall proved that and Wales ; Ireland and Scotland 
exemplify it now. A language waxes with the mass 
and activities of its speakers. Scholars may preserve 
a grammar, as the school Latin, or as the Sinn Fein is 
doing in Ireland, but the body and blood of the vulgate 



U.*«™j-. 




O 









o 






I m 




ATOLLS OF THE SUN 369 

speech waste and ebb without the pulse of growth. 
Speech fattens with usage. The largest number of 
words in any language is found in that language which 
most people speak. The most enterprising race spreads 
its language farthest by religion, commerce, and con- 
quest. 

All these Polynesian tongues are dying with the peo- 
ple. Corrupted first by the admixture of European 
words, their glossaries written by men unborn to the 
land, the racial interests that fed them killed by the de- 
struction of customs and ambitions, these languages are 
moribund, and as unlike those spoken before the white 
came as is the bison to the family cow. 

The French observer Bovis said seventy years ago 
that only a few Tahitians understood and spoke pure 
Tahitian. No one does now. Yet, obsolescent and 
garbled as are these spiritual victims of pale-face domi- 
nation, the South Sea folk cling to them affectionately. 
I attended the first sessions of the Hawaiian legislature 
under American territorial government. All proceed- 
ings were in both English and Hawaiian, many of the 
legislators not understanding English after eighty years 
of intimate relations with England and America. 
They, like the other Maoris, had not learned other 
tongues, but had let their own lapse into a bastard 
patois. 

The Hawaiian is akin to the Marquesan. The vari- 
ations consist in not using in one dialect words in use in 
another, in the sense attached to the same words, in the 
changing of vowels and of consonants in the same words, 
and also by the replacement of consonants by a click of 
the tongue. Almost all dialects have these unuttered 



370 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

consonants expressed by the guttural accentuation of 
the vowel following. 

I must know French to approach Marquesan, be- 
cause these islands are French for eighty years, and I 
know of no practical grammar except that of Monseig- 
neur Dordillon, written in 1857, and of no procurable 
dictionary but his. Both are in French. 

A tragedy originating in petty disciphne or episcopal 
jealousy saddened the last days of the writer. Bishop 
Dordillon. He had created out of the mouths of his 
neophytes the written Marquesan tongue, and he made 
his dictionary his life-work. They would not let him 
publish it. Ecclesiastical authorities, presumably of 
Chile, — for all Catholic missionaries here were under 
that see in early days, — forbade it. After forty years 
of labor upon the book, he was allowed to put it to print, 
but not to affix his name as author. Against this pro- 
hibition the sturdy prelate set his face. 

"Not for himself," said the vicar, Pere David, to me, 
"but for the church and our order, he would not be 
robbed of the honor. He died very old, and confided 
his manuscript to a fellow-priest. For fifty years each 
missionary to these islands copied it for his personal use. 
Ten thousand nights have thus passed because of the 
jealousy of some prelate in Valparaiso or in Paris. 
Pierre Chaulet, of our order, the Sacre Coeur, revised 
the book after forty-five years' residence here." 

The Tahitian was the first Maori language reduced 
to writing. No Polynesian race had a written litera- 
ture nor an alphabet. Writing was not invented nor 
thought of when they left their European home, nor did 
they acquire it in Malaysia. The Polynesians marked 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 371 

certain epochs and events by monuments, and conse- 
crated them with ceremonies. These events also marked 
their language, which was peculiarly susceptible to 
change and addition. It was abundant, and all the de- 
tails of their material life and history were impressed 
upon the language in shades of meanings and words. 
In Tahiti the finer meanings disappeared ninety years 
ago, and the adverbs and degrees of comparison were 
lost. In the Marquesas, because of the lesser infiltra- 
tion of whites, the language in its purity lasted longer. 
One of the mutineers of the Bounty, Midshipman Peter 
He5rwood, who chose to remain in Tahiti rather than 
sail with Christian, wrote the first vocabulary of Tahi- 
tian in prison at Execution Dock in England. BHgh 
had determined to hang Hey wood, and, awaiting his 
seemingly assured death, the young officer in his death 
cell set down the words he had learned in the happy days 
in the Isle of Venus, with their connotation in English. 
One may imagine it was a sad yet consoling task to live 
again the scenes of his joyous exile, and that each word 
of Tahitian he wrote conjured for him a picture of the 
scene in which he had learned it, and perhaps of the soft 
lips that had often repeated it to him. It is pleasant 
to know that the youthful lexicographer did not mount 
the gallows, and that his vocabulary was eagerly studied 
by the first missionaries leaving England for the South 
Seas on the Duf. The first word the clerics heard 
when the Tahitians boarded the Duff was taio, friend, 
and the reverends wrote to England that as the "heathen 
danced on the deck in sign of hospitality and friendship, 
we sang them, 'O'er the gloomy hills of darkness.* " 
With Heywood's list as a preparation, they established 



372 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

an alphabet for Tahiti which fitted the dulcet sounds as 
they registered on their untuned ears. The general rule 
was to give the vowels their Italian value and to sound 
the consonants as in English. Their fonts of type were 
limited, and they had to use makeshifts of other letters 
when they ran out of the proper ones. They made mon- 
umental errors in their monumental toil, errors unavoid- 
ably due to their not being philologists, nor even well 
educated — errors perpetuated and incorporated in the 
language as finally written. This Tahitian dictionary 
and grammar formed the basis of all similar books in the 
Marquesan, Hawaiian, and other dialects. What store 
of ancient tongues the missionaries had, they put into 
linguafacturing religious words for the Tahitians. In 
fact, they were so busy inventing words for ordinary use, 
and for their prayers, sermons, and the translation of the 
Eible, they did not record many native words. They 
bowdlerized the whole Polynesian language, and emas- 
culated an age-old tongue from which we might have 
gathered in its strength something of the spirit of our 
Aryan forefathers. 

A chief difficulty of the makers of the written Poly- 
nesian languages was the adjectives. Primitive peoples 
have not the wealth of these that civilized nations 
possess, and fine shadings here are often expressed by 
intonation, grimace, or gesture. 

There is no available Tahitian-English lexicon. The 
London Missionary Society published one before the 
French seized Tahiti in the forties. It is out of print, 
and as obsolete as to present-day Tahitian as Dr. John- 
son's once-famous tome is as to English. The only 
copies are in the hands of the Mormon, Josephite and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 373 

other English-speaking missionaries in Tahiti, and in 
the hbraries of collectors. It cannot be bought in Ta- 
hiti. Monseigneur Tepano Jaussen wrote one in 
French. I have it, dated at Paris, 1898; but so fast is 
the Tahitian tongue degrading into a bloodless wretched 
jumble that it, too, is almost archaic. 

"A Vocabulary of the Nukahiwa Language; includ- 
ing a Nukahiwa-English Vocabulary and an English- 
Nukahiwa Vocabulary" was printed in Boston in 1848. 
No living Nukahiwan, or Marquesan, would understand 
much of it, as there has been such radical change and de- 
generacy in the dialect in the seventy years since it was 
written, and so few Marquesans survive. 

The language shows that at one time they did not 
count beyond four, and the higher numbers were ex- 
pressed by multiples of four. Afterward they came to 
five, which they made lima or the fingers of one hand. 
When the ten or denary system was adopted, the word 
umi, or whiskers, was chosen to mean ten, or a multitude. 

The cardinal numbers are sometimes tiresome. For 
instance, thirty-one is E tahi tehau me te onohuu me te 
mea he e tahi. I once remarked to a Marquesan chief 
that the Marquesan people said many words to mean a 
trifle and took a long time to eat their food. 

"What else have we to do?" he asked me. 

Strangely, the larger numbers are shorter. Twenty 
thousand is tini. 

Should I wish to say "once," meaning at one time, I 
say, mamua mamua mamua; more anciently hakiu ka- 
kiu kakiu kakiu; "a very long time ago," tini tini tini 
tini; "quite a long time ago," tini hahaa tini hahaa tini 
hahaa tini hahaa; but "always" is anatu and "soon" epo. 



374 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

This last word is a custom as well as a word, for it is like 
the Spanish manana and the Hawaiian mahope, the Ta- 
hitian ariana, or our own dilatory "by and by." 

The variations between the dialects in the different 
groups is great, and even in the same group, or on the 
same island, meanings are not the same. In the Mar- 
quesas, the northwestern islands have a distinct dialect 
from the southeastern. Valleys close together have dif- 
ferent words for the same object. These changes con- 
sist of dropping or substituting consonants, t for k, 1 for 
r, etc., but to the beginner they are baffling. Naturally, 
the letters, as written, have the Latin value. Thus, Ta- 
hiatini is pronounced Tah-heea-teenee, and Puhei, Poo- 
hay-ee. 

For me words have color, form, character: They have 
faces, ports, manners, gesticulations; — they have moods, hu- 
mours, eccentricities : — they have tints, tones, personalities. 

Lafcadio Hearn might have written that about the 
Maori tongue. 

The Marquesan language is sonorous, beautiful, and 
picturesque, lending itself to oratory, of which the Poly- 
nesians are past masters. Without a written tongue 
until the last century, they perfected themselves in 
speaking. It was a treat to hear a Marquesan in the 
full flood of address, recalling the days of old and the 
glories departed, or a preacher telling the love of God or 
the tortures reserved for the damned. They were grace- 
ful and extremely witty. They kept their audience 
laughing for minutes or moved them quickly to tears. 
Their fault was that shared by most European and 
American orators, long-windedness. The Marquesans 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 375 

have many onomatopes, or words imitating natural 
sounds, and they are most pleasing and expressive. The 
written words hardly convey the close relation they bear 
to the reality when spoken. The kivi, a bird, says, "^Kivi! 
kirn! kivir The cock says, "Kokoao! va tani te moa! 
Kokoao!" The god that entered the spirit of the priest- 
ess made a noise in doing so that was like this : ''A u u 
uuuuuuua! A uuuuu a!" 

When the pig eats, the sound he makes is thus : ''Afu! 
afu! afu! afu! afu! afu! afu! apu! apu! apu! apu! apu! 
apu! apu!" In repeating these sounds the native abates 
no jot of the whole. The pig's afus are just so many; 
no more, no fewer. 

When the cocoanut falls to the ground the sound is 
'^Hu!" The drinker who takes a long draft makes the 
noise, ''Aku! akuf aku! aku! akw! akur 

Moemoe is "the cry one makes of joy after killing any 
one." 

It is notable that in English the names for edible ani- 
mals when alive are usually the foundational Saxon, but 
when dead and ready for food they are Norman. Ox, 
steer, bull, and cow are Saxon. Beef and viand are 
Norman. Calf is Saxon, but veal is Norman; sheep is 
Saxon, mutton Norman. Probably the caretaker of 
these animals, the Saxon villain who tended them, made 
his names for them stick in the composite language, 
while the sitters at table, the Normans and those who 
aped their tongue, applied the names of the prepared 
meat as they plied their knives. Pig and hog, the latter 
meaning a gilded pig, are English, but pork is Norman. 

So in the study of Marquesan one finds that the com- 
mon objects have older names than those less usual. 



376 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

The missionaries had a hard time suiting a word to the 
devil. With their vision of him, horns, hoof and tail, 
they had to be content with kuhane anera maaa. Ku- 
hane means soul or spirit, anera means heavenly spirit, 
and maaa means wicked, and also a firebrand or incen- 
diary. So Great Fern, my Presbyterian neighbor, gave 
me his idea that the devil — Tatana, as Satan is pro- 
nounced — was a kind of cross between a man and a wild 
boar running along with a bunch of lighted candlenuts, 
setting fire to the houses of the wicked. 

It is not easy to learn well the Marquesan language, 
but it is not hard to acquire a smattering of the Lingua 
Franca spoken by natives to whites and whites to na- 
tives. The language itself has been so corrupted by 
this intercourse that few speak it purely. 

Amusing are the English words adapted or melted 
into the native tongue, and it is interesting to trace their 
derivation. They call any tin or metal box tipoti (pro- 
nounced "teepotee"). The first metal receptacles they 
saw aboard the first ships were the teapots of the sailors, 
and they took the word as applicable to all pots and 
boxes of metal. The dictionary says "Tipoti — petite 
hoite en fer-hlanc." 

Beef is Pifa (peefa) . Poteto — pronounced potato — 
means ship's biscuits or American crackers or cakes. 
The early whalesmen held out their hardtack to the na- 
tives and offered to exchange it for potatoes or yams. 
The natives took it that the biscuits were potatoes, and 
call them so to-day. 

A curious and mixed meaning is that of fishuha, which 
one might think meant a fish-hook. It means a safety- 
pin, and is a sought-for article by the women. The 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 377 

Marquesans had fish-hooks always, and a name for 
them, and so gave the Enghsh name to safety-pins, 
which appear like unto them. 

Metau is a fish-hook, and a pin is pine (pee-nay). 
There are hundreds of queer and distorted words like 
these. Bread is faraoa, pronounced frowwa, which is 
flower, with an r instead of an 1, as they have no 1 in their 
alphabet. In Tahiti, taofe is coffee. K and t and 1 and 
r are interchangeable in many Polynesian languages, 
and fashion has at times banned one or the other or ex- 
changed them. Whims or even decrees by the pagan 
priests have expelled letters and words from their vocab- 
ularies, and some have been taboo to certain classes or 
to all. Papeete was once upon a time Vaiete, which 
means the same, a basket of water, the site conserving 
the streams of the hills. Vaiete was smothered under a 
clerical bull and forgotten along with other words 
thought not up-to-date. 

I have heard an aged and educated American woman 
born in Honolulu call it Honoruru, and Waikiki, Wai- 
titi, as she had learned when a girl. 

Coffee here is \alie, not unlike the Japanese hoM. 

Area is the same word in Latin and Maori, and virtu- 
ally in English. It means space, in all. Ruma, a house, 
is much like room, and pooka or puaka, a pig, is akin 
to the Latin porcus, and the Spanish pnierca. 

When the missionaries here sought to translate a be- 
loved phrase, "The sacred heart of Jesus," famihar in 
Catholic liturgy, they were puzzled. The Polynesian 
believes with some of the Old Testament writers that 
the seat of sentiment is in the bowels. "My very bow- 
els yearned" is a favorite expression of Oriental authors. 

Koehoe is the Marquesan word for entrails. It means 



378 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

also intelligence, character, and conscience. A man of 
good heart is in Marquesan a man of good bowels. The 
good fathers were sore put to it to write their invocation 
to the "bleeding heart of the Savior," and one finds a 
warning in Bishop Dordillon's dictionary: 

Les Canaques mettent dans les entrailles (koekoe) les sen- 
timents que nous mettons dans le coBur (houpo). 

Quelquefois il convient de traduire ad sensum pluto que ad 
verbum et vice versa; Le coeur de Jesus — te houpo a letu. 

Extreme unction, the sacrament, is eteremaotio, pro- 
nounced, "aytairaymahoteeo." , 

The daily usage of common English words fixed cer- 
tain ideas in the minds of the islanders for all time. 

on mani, a corruption of old man, is used for any- 
thing old ; hence a blunt, broken knife or a ragged pair 
of trousers is oil mani. 

A clergyman is mitinane, pronounced mitt-in-ahny, 
an effort at missionary. In Tahiti the word is mitinare 
or mikonare, and is one of ribald humor. It is also a 
bitter epithet against one who is sanctimonious. The 
white traders, beachcombers, and officials have given 
the word this significance by their ridicule of religion and 
its professors. 

What more picturesque record of the introduction of 
cattle into Samoa than bullamacow? It is the generic 
name in those islands for beef, canned beef, and virtu- 
ally all kinds of canned meats. A child could trace it 
to the male and female bovine ruminants first put ashore 
there, and nominated by the whites "bull and a cow." 

The good Bishop Dordillon notes that a cook is enata 
tunu kai, but that the common word is kuki, and for 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 379 

kitchen fae kuki. That kuki is our own cook, as the 
Marquesans heard the sailors call him — cooky. Fae is 
house. 

A pipe is paifa (pyfa), and tobacco pake (pahkay), 
rough pronunciations of the English words. 

All through Polynesia the generic name among for- 
eigners for a native is Kanaka, which is the Hawaiian 
word for man, or the human race. The Marquesan 
man is kenana or enata or enana, and woman vehine. 
The Tahitians and Hawaiians say taata or tane for man, 
and vahine or wahine for woman. The French word 
for Kanaka is canaque. This word is opprobrious or 
not according to the degree of civilization. The Mar- 
quesans often call themselves canaques, as a negro calls 
himself a negro; but I have seen a Tahitian of mixed 
blood weep bitterly when termed a Kanaka. Perhaps 
it is as in the Southern part of the United States, where 
the colored people refer to one another commonly as 
niggers, but resent the word from a white. 

Pig in Marquesan is puaa or puaka. 

Piggishness in English means greediness ; but cochon- 
nerie, the French verbal equivalent, means filth or ob- 
scenity, and in Marquesan has its counterpart in haa 
puaa, to be indecent ; hee haa puaa, to go naked, and kau- 
kau haa puaa, to bathe naked, words doubtless originat- 
ing under missionary tutelage, as when the Catholic 
priests were all-powerful, they made laws forbidding 
nudity in public. In fact, a noted English writer who 
spent some time here was arrested and fined for sleep- 
ing upon his veranda one hot noon in the garb of Adam 
before the apple episode. The Catholic missionaries 
here never bathed in the rivers or sea, and had no bath 



380 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

arrangements in their house. Godliness has no relation 
to cleanliness. Celibate man the world over had the 
odor of sanctity. 

Shark is mako, and, curiously, tumu mdko is a gross 
eater, or "pig" in our adopted sense, while vehine mako 
is a prostitute. E haa mako is to deliver over to prosti- 
tution. Probably this last phrase has been coined by 
the clergy for lack of a more opposite one. Hatete in 
Tahitian is chastity, for which the natives had no word 
nor idea. 

When card-playing was introduced by the whites, its 
nomenclature was adapted. Pere or pepa are cards. 
Pere is play, pronounced p'ray, and pepa is paper. 
Taimanu, heata, tarapu, and pereda are diamonds, 
hearts, clubs, and spades ; teata is the knave ; te hai — the 
high — is the ace ; and furu is a full. Fardoa is flour or 
bread and fardoa pere — flour play, flour or bread-like 
playing-cards — are biscuits or crackers. Afa miniti is 
a half-minute, or a little while. Others of the hundreds 
of bastard words now in the language and dictionary 
are : Niru, needle ; pia^ beer ; poti, boat ; purumUj broom ; 
putete, potato; punu, spoon; Poretona, London; tara, 
dollar; tavana, governor or chief; tohita, sugar; uaina, 
wine; tihu, dix sous, or half a franc; fira, fiddle; puka, 
book. I must not omit the delightful verkuti for very 
good, or all right, or the stiff eelemosina, for alms, for 
which also, the Polynesians had no word, as no one was 
a beggar. 

As did the American Indians, the Polynesians learned 
English and other European tongues through religion. 
The discoverers, who were officials, traders, or adven- 
turers gained a smattering of the native language, but 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 381 

hardly ever had the perseverance, if the education, to 
gather a thorough knowledge. Almost all the first 
modern dictionaries and grammars were written by 
clerics. The prime reason for their endeavors was to 
translate the sacred Scriptures into their neophytes' 
language and to be able to preach them. The Bible 
has been the first book of all outlandish living languages 
to be reduced to writing for hundreds of years. 

Consequently, its diction, its mode of speech, and its 
thoughts have molded the island tongues. Words lack- 
ing to translate biblical ideas had to be invented, and the 
missionaries became the inventors. Some with Hebrew 
and Greek and Latin at their service used bits of them 
to create new words, and others drew on their imagina- 
tions, as do infants in naming people and things about 
them. In writing their dictionaries, they limited the 
European vocabulary to necessary, nice, or religious 
words, and the vernacular to all they could find, with a 
strict omission of those conveying immodest ideas. As 
the Polynesians had no morals from the Christian point 
of view, a great number of their commonest words were 
lost. 

The Bible was done into Marquesan in the forties by 
English Protestants, and the old Hawaiian missionaries 
in the Marquesas made much of it in their teachings. 
It is not popular in French, and few copies survive. 
The Catholics do not recommend it to the laity. Protes- 
tantism is apathetic ; yet I have seen a leper alone on his 
paepae deep in the Scriptures, and when I asked him if 
he got comfort from them, I was answered, "They are 
strong words for a weak man, and better than pig." 

The same corruptions that have destroyed the original 



382 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

purity of the Hawaiian and Tahitian tongues has 
marred that of these islands. The French officials had 
hardly ever remained long enough to encompass the 
language here, and seldom had they been of the scholarly 
type. 

Rulers over colonies make feeble effort to speak well 
their subjects' tongues. Perhaps two of the dozen gov- 
ernors, military and civil, the Philippines have had un- 
der American ownership could talk Spanish fairly well, 
and none spoke the aboriginal tongues which are the 
key to native thought. They knew the governed 
through interpreters, and therefore knew nothing really 
of them. As our boys laugh at foreigners' ignorance, 
so do foreign colonists laugh at ours. I saw a famous 
American governor stand aghast when, asking his Fili- 
pino host, as he thought, for "a night lamp then and 
there," the astounded president e of a village brought 
before the assembled company a something never pa- 
raded in polite society. 

The missionary dictionaries of the Polynesian dialects, 
preserving only a very limited number of the words once 
existing, and hardly any of the light and shade, the 
idioms and picture phrases, of these close observers of 
nature, remind one of Shakespeare's criticism, "They 
have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the 
scraps." 

The Enghsh missionaries put the Marquesan sounds 
into English letters, but when their day was done in 
Tahiti, and the French came to power because of French 
Catholic missionaries being expelled at the instigation 
of Protestant clerics, the poor Marquesans had to un- 
learn their English and take up French. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 383 

In Marquesan there never was an English dictionary 
circulated that I know of, and so the natives' first 
European language was French as far back as books 
and schools were concerned ; but the commerce has been 
mostly in English, the whalers and the traders talk 
English, and all Polynesia is stamped by the heel of the 
Saxon. 

A German army officer who traveled with me la- 
mented that in German Samoa the language used is 
English when not Samoan, even the German officials 
being forced to use it. 

On the schooners all commands are in English, though 
the captains are French and the crews Tahitian, whose 
English is confined to these words alone. At the Ger- 
man traders' in Taha-Uku the accounts are in English 
or American. It is the effect of the long dominance of 
the English on the sea and in commerce. 

A chief difficulty of the makers of the written Poly- 
nesian languages was the adjectives. Primitive peoples 
have not the wealth of these that civilized nations pos- 
sess, and fine shadings here are often expressed by into- 
nation, grimace, or gesture. 



CHAPTER XIX 

Tragic Mademoiselle Narbonne — Whom shall she marry? — Dinner at the 
home of Wilhelm Lutz — The Taua, the Sorcerer — Lemoal says Nar- 
bonne is a Leper — I visit the Taua — The prophecy. 

AS long as I live, I shall have, as my avatar of 
tragedy, Mademoiselle Narbonne. Fate had 
marked her for desolation. The grim drama 
of the half-caste whose spirit is riven by heredity and en- 
vironment, fighting for supremacy of the soul, was en- 
acted here in scenes of rare intensity and mournful fit- 
ness. While I did not await its final denouement I saw 
enough to stamp its pitiable acts upon my memory, 
and later I learned of the last blows of an inevitable 
destiny. 

Not even the pitiful plight of the bone-white daugh- 
ter of the drunkard, Peyral, appealed to me as did the 
conspiracy of life and ungenerous men against the hap- 
piness of this singular creature. Mademoiselle Nar- 
bonne. 

I recall the impression the first sight of her made upon 
me. I was by the door of the Catholic Church, the ser- 
vice half over, when she came in, and knelt at a prie-dieu 
especially placed for her. Wealth had its privilege in 
the house of God here as in the temple of Solomon. 
But Mademoiselle Narbonne had another claim to dis- 
tinction though it did not win favor with the church. 
She was exotically beautiful, a distracting and fascinat- 

384 




From,the painting by Oscar F. Schmidt 

Nakohu, Exploding Eggs 




From the painting by Oscar F. Schmidt 

Haabuani, the sole sculptor of Hiva-Oa 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 385 

ing contrast with the ahnost savage girls who knelt in the 
pews in their cotton tunics of red or white or pink. 
She had the grace of a hothouse flower among these 
blossoms of half-savage nature. She was an orchid 
among wild roses. 

Peyral was then in process of winning me into his 
family, and both communicative and monitory. 

"She is old Narbonne's daughter," he croaked. 
"The richest person in the Marquesas, now that her 
father is dead, but I would n't be her with all her money. 
Me, I value my skin!" 

My whole attention was upon her, and the possible 
sinster meaning of his comment escaped me. Whites 
blackguarded other whites so commonly in the South 
Seas that one discounted or denied every judgment. I 
was to understand his implication later. Mademoiselle 
Narbonne had no part in the life of our valley of At- 
uona, nor did she come to it other times than when she 
attended the services at the Catholic church or visited 
the nuns with whom she had been from childhood until 
the death of her father a few months before. Upon 
inheriting his vast cocoanut-groves and considerable 
money she had said good-bye to her ascetic guardians 
and left the convent walls to take possession of her 
dead parent's house and estate. These were in the ad- 
joining valley of Taaoa, and with her in the ugly Euro- 
pean home built by him lived the stepmother she had 
known, and the mother whom he had driven awav with 
blows, years before, when he caught her in a tryst 
with Song of the Nightingale. 

I met her towards sunset a week later. During 
that time, I had often wondered what her tem- 



386 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

perament might be, and what the future would spin for 
her. Many Daughters, Ghost Girl, and other all-Mar- 
quesan girls were striking in their aboriginal, hatched- 
carved beauty, but seemed at opposite poles to Made- 
moiselle Narbonne in sophistication and elegance. 
And yet at times I caught in her a glimpse of savagery, 
of wilful passion and abandonment to her senses beyond 
that upon the faces of these daughters of cannibals. 
The key to that occasional shift into barbarity I found 
in her home. Her father had been a driving, sober, 
and fierce Frenchman, a native of Cayenne, in Guiana, 
where the French in three hundred years have achieved 
only a devil's island for convicts with cruelty and foul- 
ness festering under the tricolor. Narbonne in the 
Marquesas had risen from a discharged corporal of 
marines to manager of the Catholic mission properties, 
and, by hook and crook, owner of countless cocoanut- 
trees. This child of his thirty years of banishment 
from his own deadly natal land was the one treasure 
he had cherished besides property. He had endured 
dangers in his early career here, fought and subdued 
swaggering chief and tropical nature, to erect a massive 
tomb of concrete, and to leave this daughter. She was 
already apathetic to his memory, and disregardful of 
the advice he had given always with mingled caresses 
and cuffs. 

Her mother. Climber of Trees Who Was Killed and 
Eaten, who had been banished from his house for her 
unfaithfulness, had returned after his death to share 
it with Daughter of a Piece of Tattooing, who had re- 
placed her. Between the two women was no jealousy, 
both enjoying the ease their hard years of serving the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 387 

Cayennais had earned them. In Chmber of Trees I 
traced the source of those pagan moods which now 
and then swept from the face of Barbe Narbonne the 
least vestige of the mask the nuns had taught her to wear, 
and let be read the undammed passion and wind-free 
will of the real Marquesan woman. 

"I will not be a soeur'/ she said to me. "The nuns 
are dear to me, and they want me to come into the con- 
vent, or to go to France for training to return here. 
I am waiting to know life. I am not satisfied with the 
love of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin." 

"You are able to go where you please," I answered. 
"You do not have to go to France as a Religious. 
Paris would welcome you. Board the next schooner 
for Tahiti, and you are on the way to the wide world." 

Mademoiselle Narbonne made a gesture of fear. 
Few Marquesans had ever gone abroad; there were 
terrors in the thought. It had been taipu to leave their 
island home, and, though, as far as Christianity might 
work the miracle, she had in the convent been purged of 
most of her mother's superstitions, she had not rid her- 
self of this one. 

"I would not care to go that great distance," she 
said, dreamingly, "but I would like to go to Tahiti, to 
see the cinema, and perhaps the celebration of the four- 
teenth of July. I have for years sent to Paris for my 
clothes. I have read many novels despite the sisters 
forbid it. I have one here that I wish you might talk to 
me about. Many nights I have sat up to read it." 

She handed me a yellow paper-covered book, "Jean 
et Louise," by Antonin Dusserre, a story of pastoral 
and village life in Auvergne, and the unfortunate loves 



388 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

of a simple peasant youth and maid. Its atmosphere 
was of the clean earth, the herds, and the harvests in a 
lost corner of France. Its action did not cover ten 
miles, yet the hate and injustice, the desires and defeats 
of its little world were drawn with such skill that they 
became universal. The author, himself a man in sabots, 
had breathed into his model of common clay the life 
of all humanity. I had read the book, and I was eager 
to hear her opinion of it; of an existence, artless as it 
was, still as alien to her knowledge as ancient Greece. 

"What do you think about it?" I asked. She spoke 
French vividly, though with many Marquesan insets. 

"Jean and Louise loved each other," she replied, 
"and, because she was poor and had no money to give 
a husband, his father separated them ; and Jean allowed 
it. Already, Monsieur Frederick, the girl had shown 
her true love for him by spending the night with him 
in the hills with their sheep, and everybody knew she 
would have a child. That Jean was an assassin and a 
coward. Me, I would kill such a man if I loved him, 
but I could not love that kind." 

Barbe Narbonne's black eyes flashed with her feeling. 

"I am frank with you. Monsieur, because you are a 
stranger. You are not French nor Marquesan. I am 
both, and I hate and love both. I hate the French for 
what they have done to my mother's race, and I hate the 
Marquesans for not preferring to die than to be con- 
quered. I have not had a lover. I cannot find one here 
that can satisfy me. If I did, he might have all my 
money and land. I would want a man who could read 
books, who was honest and strong, but who knew and 
liked this island of Hiva-Oa, who could ride and fight. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 389 

He must love me as" — she paused to weigh her compar- 
ison — "as nuns love Christ, for whom they leave their 
homes in France." 

Father David, seeing me with Mademoiselle Nar- 
bonne one day, spoke of her to me. 

"We have hoped all along that Jean Narbonne's 
daughter would remain with us," he said, inquisitively. 
"But the sacred heart of Jesus does not call every one. 
The church leaves all free to choose a vocation of ser- 
vice to God or not. We know she can find happiness 
only with the nuns, for there is only wickedness outside 
the convent. Barbe is now a woman, and unfortu- 
nately too much like her mother, who was a Magdalen. 
She cannot marry a native because she cannot live in 
the brush. What white can she select. There is the 
governor and Bauda and Le Brunnec, all bad Catholics, 
and who else?" 

"There is Lutz, the big trader at Tahauku," I said. 

"Lutz? No, no! He is a German, an enemy of 
France, and he is a Protestant, and, besides, he has had 
his own woman fourteen years. He is not married to 
her, but God knows even the devil could not excuse 
putting away such an old companion. What would he 
want of her but her money?" 

"He has some property himself." 

"No, no ! It would be impossible. He is a German, 
a heretic, and I tell you he has that Tahitian woman 
ever since he has been here. Some day he will return 
to Germany, the Germany of Martin Luther, and leave 
behind any woman here. These Europeans who come 
here, except the Fathers, have no consciences. When 
they have made a little fortune, unless they are like 



390 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Guillitoue, or Hemeury Fran9ois, who are more Cana- 
que than the Canaques, they go back to marry innocent 
and unsuspecting women." 

I cannot imagine why I mentioned Lutz. I had never 
seen him with Mademoiselle Narbonne, and she had not 
sounded his name. Of course, he was the only possibly 
eligible man other than the whites already enumerated. 
However, such thoughts did not come by chance, for 
the apostolic vicar's solicitude against him was matched 
by the boisterous roarings of Commissaire Bauda, the 
reincarnated musketeer. Over a Doctor Funk at his 
beach house, my repeating of what Father David had 
said brought from him an oath and a spluttering: 

"Sacre cochon! That Lutz will go too far on 
French territory. He has the best lands, most of the 
trade, and is the only one who can sell liquor. Do we 
not all pay tribute to him? Now, me, I have not 
thought of marrying, but if that daughter of a French 
corporal should look for a suitable mate, who but 
Bauda? I am a soldier, a veteran of wars in Africa, 
I have the medal General Devinne pinned here," — he 
slapped his chest, — "and I am a Frenchman. I could 
not agree to live here, but why not for her a house in 
Marseilles where there are so many dark people of our 
colonies? I could be there, say half the year, and the rest 
of it in Paris. I would defend her against the world, 
and in turn, would take my pleasure in the capital. 
I do not seek it, but rather than the robber, Lutz, should 
take the money to Germany, as I know he wants to do, 
it might, perhaps, be arranged. And, pire alors! I 
would soon send to the devil all those notions the church 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 391 

has put in her httle head. A drop of absinthe, 
mon vieucc? Bauda has his eyes on Lutz." 

I had met Herr Lutz each time that I had gone to his 
store at Tahauku, but our social relations began when 
he sent me, by his cook, a Tongan, a formal invitation to 
dinner. Like the young governor, this European mer- 
chant, as often as the small voice of his civilization spoke 
to him, cultivated the customs of his bourgeois class in 
order to reassure himself of his retaining them. I have 
the letter before me: 

Tahauka, le 11 avril. 
Dear Mr. O. Brien, 

In case that you having nothing else to do, I shall be 
glad to see you at Tahauku to-night. Do not bother please 
about dressing, the roads are too bad. If it suits you, I invite 
you to stay here over night. 

With kindest regards. 
Yours 
WiLHELM Lutz 

Certainly I had nothing else to do, except to explain 
to Exploding Eggs that I would not need his services 
to gather cocoanut husks for my dinner fire, and at five 
o'clock to start for Tahauku. Lutz's kindly sentence 
about not dressing was to me a joke, for I had to cross 
both the Atuona and the Tahauku rivers, and a storm, 
the day before, had made the trails — there were no roads 
■ — merely muddy indications of the direction. The 
Atuona stream I was able to wade with my trousers 
rolled and canvas shoes in my hands, and when I reached 
the Tahauku River, I found it waist-deep, and the foot- 



392 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ing uncertain. A Chinese was gathering the coarse 
grass by the river's bank for Lutz's horse. It is a rare 
man who does not make a slave of his inferior who by- 
conquest or necessity is forced to do his will. A man 's 
a man for a' that only when fighting equality or mass 
strength makes him so. I myself, who abhor inequality, 
proved a sinner there. Averse to getting my clothes 
wet, I tried to make the Chinese understand my wish 
that he take me on his back across the stream. Stu- 
pidity or a dislike to play horse caused him to assume a 
vacant look, the Oriental blankness which is maddening 
to Occidentals. I took him by the shoulder, mounted 
him, and drove him through the hundred feet of rushing 
water. On the other side, I thanked him, but his slit 
eyes gleamed balefully as he turned away. 

The sky was racked with clouds, and they hung on the 
mountain like smoky draperies. The evening air was 
humid and depressing. Tahauku was a lonely, beau- 
tiful place, typical of the Marquesas, isolated, gloomy, 
but splendid. There were no craft in the bay except 
two small cutters moored near the foot of the stone 
stairs. A group of wooden buildings in an extensive 
clearing lined the road that led along the cliffs, and 
about it were thousands and thousands of palms, the 
finest cocoanut-grove that I had ever seen in the South 
Seas or Asia or India. They were planted regularly, 
not crowded, but with space for roots and for air. They 
had been set out two generations ago by the grandfather 
of the stark daughter of Peyral, the Irish cavalry officer, 
who was buried among them. Then a thousand Mar- 
quesans had led there the life of their ancestors ; a score 
remained. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 393 

In the commodious house erected by the latter, Lutz 
lived in a determined though inadequate effort to pre- 
serve his German birthright. In the sitting-room in 
which he welcomed me stiffly, though courteously, were 
the hangings and cheap ornaments of a Prussian lower 
middle-class family, tidies, mottos, and books, including 
a large brass-bound Bible and the kaiser's portrait in 
colors. A bitters was drunk before the meal. Ijutz 
sat at the head of a longish table, and his two white 
employees, a Hamburg apprentice just out, and Jensen, 
a Dane, joined us. The talk was in English, and it was 
curious, in this far-away island ruled by the French for 
seventy years, to find my tongue, as in almost every 
corner of the world, the powerful solvent of our mixed 
thoughts. Lutz talked about America, through which 
he had come from Germany on his way to Tahiti and 
the Marquesas. He praised our strength in trade, and 
derided the French and English, predicting that the 
Germans would divide the South Seas commerce with 
us, to the exclusion of others. 

I liked Lutz, and, after the Hamburg apprentice and 
the Dane had gone to play chess, he and I passed some 
hours in chatting about music, books, and history. He 
h-ad the solid foundation of the German schools below 
the universities, and he had read constantly his German 
reviews. Stolid, ambitious, swift to take a business 
advantage, he lived in this aloofness from the things he 
liked, in order to save enough to raise his social status 
on his return to his fatherland. Just before he showed 
me to my room for the night, he said : 

"My old woman is going back to Tahiti. She is tired 
of it here after so many years. When Captain Pincher 



394 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

comes in with the Morning Star, I'm sending her back 
with him. She 's getting lonesome for her kin. You 
know how those Tahitians are." 

I had seen but a glimpse of the "old woman" that 
evening. She had not appeared openly, perhaps be- 
cause of the rigid rule of Lutz, or perhaps from pique. 
On the road, though, I had said good day to her, a huge 
sack of a middle-aged creature, long past comeliness, but 
with an engaging and strong personality. The words 
of Pere David and of Bauda recurred to me before I 
slept. The "old woman" had been here fourteen years, 
and her sudden repatriation coincided with Made- 
moiselle Narbonne's coming into her fortune, and her 
restlessness for a white husband. 

I sensed a conflict. Tahitian women, as well as all 
these Polynesians, were seldom afflicted by sexual jeal- 
ousy, the soul-ravaging curse of culture, yet they had 
a pride, an overwhelming dignity of personal relations, 
which often brought the same dire results. The re- 
jected one many times had eaten the eva, the poisonous 
fruit, or leaped to death from a cliff, though she would 
have shared the house mats with her rival as a friend. 
That was because they ranked mere physical alliance 
as but a part of friendship between men and women, 
often an unimportant beginning, in the natural way of 
propertyless races. 

"Lutz will nat get rid of Mana so easily." Fran9ois 
Grelet, the shrewd Swiss, of Oomoa, on the island of 
Fatuhiva, whom I had visited following my evening 
with Lutz, had remarked to me: "She has as much 
strength of will as he has. Her father was the chief 
of Papenoo, in Tahiti, and Lutz had to steal her away 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 395 

to bring her here. I remember her then because the 
schooner, on which they were, made port in Oomoa for a 
few days. Lutz was in his twenties, with a year in 
Tahiti to learn the business before his firm sent him 
to the Marquesas. Now, you know, for Mana to 
leave her folks and her island meant a very unusual 
courage and will, and she has stuck with Lutz all this 
time. He is heavy-handed, too, when vexed over waste. 
I don't think it will be a matter of settling with her as 
to support; they all have a living at home. Also, the 
Tahitians do not love the Marquesans. You will see!" 

I had returned from my visit to Grelet, when, ar- 
riving at night in a canoe to the stone steps at the 
Tahauku landing, Tetuahunahuna, the steersman, 
pointed out to me the dark bulk of a schooner swinging 
at anchor. 

^'Fetia Taiao" he said. It was the schooner on which 
Lutz's old woman was to depart from her long-time 
abode. 

In the weeks that had elapsed during my stay with 
Grelet, the affair of Mademoiselle Narbonne and Herr 
Lutz had actually become the gossip of Atuona. The 
church, the French nation, the masculinity of all the 
other whites, were concerned. The suitor was said to 
pay almost daily visits to the Narbonne house in Taaoa, 
and I saw him galloping past my house in the after- 
noons, and heard sometimes in the night, his shod horse's 
hoofs on the pebbly road. 

"It is terrible," Sister Serapoline said to me, when I 
took her a catch of popo to the convent. "That Ger- 
man is a heathen, and has been living in sin with a good 
woman for years. Now he will drag down to hell the 



396 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

soul of our dear Barbe. We are offering a novena to 
Joan of Arc to bring her to us. She has not been in 
the church or convent for a month. She would make a 
wonderful sister, for she has a good heart and a true de- 
votion to Joan of Arc. And, to tell the truth, her 
money would be put to a divine purpose instead of go- 
ing into his business here or being wasted in Germany." 

"What about Mana?" I asked. "Is she satisfied to 
go away?" 

"That I doubt, but Mana, too, has not been inside the 
church for a long time. Monsieur, I have heard that 
she has fallen from the true religion, and is dealing with 
sorcery. The devil is astir in Atuona now." 

Song of the Nightingale was of Taaoa, the valley of 
Mademoiselle Narbonne, and, as I said, had once been 
the lover of her mother. Through serving a term of 
imprisonment for making intoxicants of oranges and of 
the juice of the flower of the cocoanut-tree, his servitude 
spent as cook for the Governor allowed him leisure for 
a few stolen hours with his tribe. Song was a very evil 
man; of that perverse disposition which afflicts great 
murderers like Gilles de Raiz or the Marquis de Sade, 
and also cowardly ones who do in mean words and ac- 
cursed inuendoes what the arch villains do in deeds. 
He hated because he was thwarted. Before the white 
regime he would have set valley against valley, and is- 
land against island for mad spleen. I had seen his vile- 
ness in a ludicrous light when he had put Ghost Girl's 
god, the kuhu, before her as food, and had reviled her 
grandmother eaten by his clan. He often made fun 
of the governor to me, and of me, doubtless, to many. 

Song stopped at my house one night late. He was 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 397 

returning from Taaoa, and had drunk deeply of the il- 
licit namu eiiata, the cocoanut brandy. He begged me 
for a drink of rum, and I could ill refuse him as he had 
filled my glass so frequently at the palace. He tossed 
off a shell of the ardent liquor, and filled his pipe from 
my tin. Then he began to talk loosely and boastfully 
as was his habit. He ridiculed the churches, and their 
teachings, and spoke of Gauguin, and his carven cari- 
cature of the bishop. Gauguin was a "chick tippee/' 
he said again, and not any more afraid of the sacrament 
than was he. 

"They cannot hurt you if you are tapu as I am," he 
went on. "The priest talks of Satan and his red-hot 
fork, and calls the taua, our one remaining priest, a 
child of Satan. I have been to see that taua. He is of 
my family, and, though he is very old, he does not be- 
lieve in the Christian magic, but in our own. He can 
do anything he wants to a Marquesan. He can make 
them sick or well." 

"How about a white?" I asked, negligently. 

"I don't say that. The taua might work his sorcery 
with some, but he does not try. Do you know whom I 
saw in his hut to-night? Mana, the woman of Lutz, 
the Heremani. What did she there ? Why do you go 
to the mission? To get the hon Dieu to help you. 
Mana went to Taaoa to ask the Marquesan Po, the god 
of night, to help her. The Taua did not inform me, 
but Mana said to me that if she sailed on the Fetia Taiao 
to Tahiti, Ma'm'selle would never marry Lutz. The 
taua would make her tapu to the Heremani, who would 
be afraid to take her to his bed." 

Song of the Nightingale poured himself another 



398 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

drink, and, muttering an incantation in his own lan- 
guage, slunk out toward the palace to hoodwink the gov- 
ernor. My heart misgave me, for I had a sincere ad- 
miration for Mademoiselle Narbonne, and I could not 
help a kindly feeling for the Heremani, Lutz, who had 
heaped favors on me. When my money had run out, 
he had trusted me for months, though he had my bare 
word that I expected a draft from America. My sym- 
pathies were divided odiously. Lutz seemed to be mer- 
cenary in his pursuit of Narbonne's daughter, and yet 
might not love move him? He had been faithful to 
Mana for fourteen years, according to everybody, which 
was a marvel for a white man. Mana was to be pitied, 
and her endeavor to circumvent her competitor not to be 
despised. I could not sneer at the sorcery of the taua. 
In Hawaii, I had seen a charming half-English girl, 
educated and living in a cultured home, yield to a belief 
in the necromancy of a Hawaiian kahuna, and die. 
Her strength "ran out like water." With everything 
to live for, she faded into the grave at twenty. 

How was taua to aid Mana to keep the affections 
of Lutz? The philter that Julia sought on the slopes 
of Vesuvius to win the love of Glaucus came to mind, 
but the tauas, I remembered, used no physical 
means to work their spells. They depended entirely 
on the mind. They studied its every intricacy, and the 
power of suggestion was, I reasoned, their weapon and 
medicine as it wa^ with Charcot, Freud, or Coue, the 
modern tauas of Europe. In my travels and residence 
of a dozen years in Asia and the South Seas, I had been 
confronted 'often with phenomena inexplicable except 
through control of others' minds by the thaumaturgist. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 399 

Nevertheless, I had so frequently had such an opinion 
shattered by a more artful and cunning material explan- 
ation that at each instance I wavered as to the method 
of the mage. 

The schooner Morning Star, the Fetia Taiao, swung 
about the Marquesan group, from Tahauku to Taiohae, 
Oomoa, and Vaitahu, and after a month dropped an- 
chor again near the stone steps of Lutz's magazin. Ly- 
ing Bill I met at the governor's, and heard him say that 
he had as passenger for Papeete the "old woman of the 
Dutchman." 

"I '11 sail with the first 'an'ful o' wind after we load 
our copra," he said. "That '11 be in three days. Mana 
is bloomin' well angry at Lutz. I 'm wonderin' if she 
won't go over to Taaoa and 'ook out those purty eyes o' 
Ma'm'selle. 'E oughta 'ave Mc'Enry's woman to deal 
with. She 'd take a war-club to im." 

Lutz had me to dinner again the night before the 
schooner left, and at table were, besides Jensen and the 
Hamburg apprentice, Captain Pincher and Ducat, his 
mate. I did not get a glimpse of Mana, though Lutz 
appeared uneasy, and occasionally went out into the 
kitchen and once into the garden. The good Patzen- 
Iwfer beer was plentifully served by the Tongan, and, 
un-iced as it was, we drank several cases of it with 
"HochsT from Lutz and the Hamburger, ''SkoaUr 
from Jensen, and " 'Ere's yer bloody 'ealths!" from Ly- 
ing Bill. 

McHenry, I learned, was keeping a store on the 
atoll of Takaroa. The rahui at Takaroa was finished, 
and the divers dispersed. No great pearl had been 
brought up, though Mapuhi and his tribe had had a 



400 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

bountiful season. Our party broke up about midnight, 
and, after the seafarers had gone down the basalt stairs 
to their boat, and his clerks were in bed, Lutz and I sat 
a few minutes. He, perhaps, wanted to avow his in- 
tentions regarding Barbe Narbonne, to justify himself 
about Mana, and to gain from me the comfort of my 
concurrence in his ethics and ambitions, but his stiff 
Prussian bringing-up forbade him. Instead, he spoke 
of his childhood at Frankfort, his education, and his 
failure to go to a University on account of poverty. At 
seventeen, he had been put to work in an exporting 
house in Hamburg, and had passed seven years as an un- 
derling with small pay. His chance had come when 
debts due the company in Tahiti called for an experi- 
enced man in goods and finance to go to Papeete and 
wring a settlement from the debtor. He had been able 
to please his firm, and to buy out the failing concern by 
Hamburg backing. In the fourteen years since, he had 
been exiled in Tahauku, and despite his grinding efforts 
and many voluntary privations, had not amassed much. 
His mother and father in Germany were dependent on 
him, and he had not been able once to visit them because 
of the expense. 

Maybe the Patzenhofer had mellowed my sympathies, 
for I agreed with him that he was a dutiful son and a 
worthy merchant, and that life had not been quite fair 
to him. There was a moment when I feared he was 
about to divulge his secret, but a noise outside made 
him start, and after he had listened with frowning brow 
a minute he said good night. He did not wish to be 
alone, it was evident, for he said he would sleep on 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 401 

a straw couch in my room. I heard him tossing as I 
fell asleep. 

From the hill of Calvary the next afternoon I saw the 
Morning Star as she glided past the opposite cliffs of 
Tahauku. At least the main barrier to Lutz's plans 
had gone from the Marquesas. As Mademoiselle Nar- 
bonne no longer came to Atuona, I had not seen her for 
many Sundays, and, although I still saw Lutz on his 
peregrinations, and from my Golden Bed hearkened to 
the iron of his horse's heels, I had no direct nor even 
fairly certain knowledge that he had won her hand. 
Gradually a desire to see her, to make sure of her in- 
tentions, grew in me, and I had fixed the following Sun- 
day as a date for my journey to Taaoa, when a stupe- 
fying incident disarranged my scheme. 

Le Brunnec, the trader, my companion of the wild 
cattle hunting, was ever on the outlook for information 
or entertainment for me. Speaking a little English, 
and by nature friendly, he now and again sent to my 
cabin a stranger, with a sealed note explaining the 
bearer's particular interest to me. One day, there ap- 
peared an American citizen, Lemoal, a twisted, haggard 
native of Paimpol, who had been an adventurer and vag- 
abond all about the world. After a shell of rum, he had 
boasted a while, and then when I had given him another 
drop with a gesture of farewell, he had said with a leer 
and a curse, that he had seen me with Mademoiselle Nar- 
bonne, and that "I would better beware." 

"She is a leper, that rich girl," he had said; "every- 
body here knows it but you. Let the accursed German 
of Tahauku get it, not you!" 



402 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

He ambled down the trail like an old kobold, a spirit 
of evil and filth, wagging his long beard, and sucking at 
his pipe. I threw away the shell from which he had 
drunk. But in my horror at what he had said, I could 
not forget that Mademoiselle Narbonne had asked me 
a strange question, at first meeting — whether it was true 
that the Government was segregating the lepers in Ta- 
hiti, and immuring them in a leprosarium. I had an- 
swered in the affirmative, and thought curiosity dictated 
the query. Now, with Lemoal gone, his statement and 
her question rose together. Le Brunnec's note said 
that Lemoal was not to be believed always. He might 
have told Le Brunnec about Barbe. It could not be 
true! Yet, the missionary's daughter a half a mile 
away from me was a leper, and Tahiatini, Many Daugh- 
ters, was suspect. The Chinese imported by the Ameri- 
can, Hart, had brought the terrible disease from Canton, 
and many had died from it in the Marquesas. Those 
who had it were free to live as they pleased, for there 
was no care of them by the authorities. But in Tahiti, 
for the first time, they had taken them from their fam- 
ilies, and were keeping them in a separate estate. It 
was easy, with the abominable assertion of Lemoal agi- 
tating me, to exaggerate or misinterpret the meaning of 
Mademoiselle Narbonne's interrogation. 

Did the visit of Mana to the taua have anything to do 
with Lemoal's wretched slander or gossip? 

I should be a fool, I reckoned, to believe Lemoal. 
Even the vicar apostolic had intimated that the Protes- 
tant pastor was a rake, and I knew him to be a virtuous 
man. Gauguin had written in his journal that the 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 403 

bishop was a "goat," and I believed him a vow-observing 
celibate. Much, then, I was to credit this lifetime vil- 
lain, Lemoal! Men who stayed too long in the South 
Seas became natural, simple children of the sweet soil, 
or decayed and rejected, rotten fruit of civilization 
when unsuited to assimilation. 

A week after Lemoal had poisoned my mind with his 
intimation, I met Mademoiselle Narbonne at Otupotu, 
the divide between the valleys of Atuona and Taaoa, 
where Kahuiti, the magnificent cannibal of Taaoa, had 
trapped the Mouth of God's grandfather and eaten him. 
It was a precipice facing the valleys of the island of 
Hiva-Oa, as it curved eastward. The brilliant stretch 
of sea contrasted with dark glens in the torn, convulsed 
panorama — gloomy gullies, suggestive of the old pagan 
days when the Marquesans were free and strong. 
Above the shadowy caverns, the mountains caught the 
light of the dying sun and shone green or black under 
the cloudless sky. To sit there as the day declined and 
to view the tragic marvel of the advent of night was 
to me a rapturous experience made sorrowful by the 
final sinking of the sun. No long twilight, no roman- 
tic gloaming followed the plunge of terror. I have al- 
ways peopled it with afrits and leprechawns, mischiev- 
ous if not malicious. 

It was an hour before dusk when I arrived, and soon 
I heard, far down the glade of Taaoa, the slow approach 
of a horse. As the rider came in view, I waved my 
hand, and the daughter of the Cayennais called to me, 
with a trifle of surprise in her soft voice. She dis- 
mounted and sat beside me. She had changed. In 



404 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

what exactly I could not define. She was less self-cen- 
tered, silent, melancholy. The savage had fled from 
her face, and animation with it. 

'T am half French, but all Marquesan," she had said 
to me once. 

She was all white this evening. The rich color had 
deserted her cheeks, and in her pallor was tenderness 
and longing. I was drawn to her as never before. Her 
delicate hand crept into mine, and we remained hushed 
a few minutes. Curiously, the words of Lemoal did not 
recur. She was so perfect, so beautiful, the nightfall 
so embracing, other thoughts were banished. We were 
in a wild expanse, in a bed of ferns, and landward a 
prodigal glory of palm and plant, vine and orchid. Na- 
ture had spent its richest colors and scents, its rarest 
shapes and oddest forms, for bird and insect, star and 
sun, to look upon and rejoice in, and with no count of 
man. In her grandest or most subtle manifestations, 
nature had no thought to suit herself to man, and only 
as he adapted himself to her thousand smiles and frowns, 
could he remain alive upon an inconsequential planet 
which was nothing with the blazing star now going down 
in the west. A shudder, and man died by myriads; a 
breath, and he perished. But ever nature swelled the 
seeds of her unthinking creations and ornamented her 
body with fresh fruitage. 

Sunset and death, the heat of the day and of life, and 
then the lapsing years in the descent toward the cold 
grave, often stumbling and trembling, and without the 
cadence and the color of the passing day ; and both end- 
ing in murk and fear. These tropical islands were for 
youth, when every sense was a well of enjoyment. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 405 

Age must only regret not having known them sooner. 

The slim hand of Barbe Narbonne, folded in mine, 
excited no pleasanter thoughts than these as we sat at 
Otupoto. I felt that I must have drawn them from 
her, for I was happy, and the tide of life running strong 
in my veins. 

She broke the quiet. 

"What do you think of Monsieur Lutz?" she said 
suddenly. 

"What do I think of Monsieur Lutz?" I parried. 
"I like him. Why do you ask me that?" 

"Because, Monsieur, he has asked me to marry him; 
and I am thinking." 

She took away her hand and smoothed her brow as 
if she swept away cobwebs. 

The crisis had come in which her future was at pitch 
and toss. The years of childhood make most of us what 
we are. The white surrounded by Polynesians in the 
early years of life, learning their language first, and 
having them as playmates, willy-nilly becomes more 
than half Polynesian. Their tastes, dreads, supersti- 
tions, pleasures, and ideals become his. Barbe Nar- 
bonne had the savage blood of her mother to accentuate 
her environment. The exigency that now confronted 
her had kindled in her divided soul for the first time the 
conflict between the white and the brown. From infancy 
she had been in the convent, and now she had had a few 
months of unrestraint in the society of her two mothers, 
and recently of release even from the rigors of the con- 
fessional and the nuns' admonitions. She had been 
slipping back fast into the ways of the Marquesans; 
the palm-groves had claimed her, and the jungle was 



406 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

closing in upon her. The courtship of the European, 
Lutz, was a challenge to her white strain, but it was 
confusing, for it added a third element. Her mothers' 
semi-savagery, and the convent strictness of rule were 
in strife now with this offer of relief from both by the 
most important white in the Marquesas except the gov- 
ernor. 

"Do you love him?" I asked her, and looked into her 
eyes. 

She cast them down a moment in confusion or medi- 
tation. No longer she wore ]i)lack. That had been in 
imitation of the sisters' dull dress, and she had put it 
aside with the mass and the confession. Her tunic, 
the simple flowing garment of the valley, was of pale 
blue. Her hair was parted on her low, delicate fore- 
head. Her legs were stockingless, her feet thrust into 
small, brown shoes. 

She raised her eyes, and replied slowly, seeking the 
answer herself, maybe, at the moment. 

"Monsieur Lutz is a gentleman. He says he loves 
me. I must marry a white man. Who else is there? 
If I stay in Taaoa, I shall become a Marquesan pure. 
It is so easy." 

Her manner was naive and confiding, and affected 
me deeply. Where lay her chance for happiness? 

Abruptly, the accusation of Lemoal rung in my ears ; 
and I could hardly refrain from voicing it, in a wish 
to hear her fierce denial. Never had she been more 
attractive, more the pattern of the most wholesome and 
fairest of her mingled parentage. I could not resist 
saying : 

"You know Lemoal?" 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 407 

"That canaillel He worked for my father for long 
and cheated him. Ah, he is a bad one! Only the last 
few weeks he has been hanging about my house to 
wheedle food and drink from me without return. He 
is of no account. Why do you ask?" 

"He says that you are ill." 

"111! I?" 

Her eyes closed, and her body became limp an in- 
stant. A flush spread over her face. 

"Lemoal said that!" she cried. "It is a lie! What 
ill have I? Tuberculosis? Do I cough? Am I thin? 
The miserable! It is strange. Kahuiti and two others 
have asked me in the past few days if I were ill. Mon- 
sieur Frederick, you are my friend. Look at me ! Am 
I not well?" 

She leaped to her feet. An instant she entertained 
the suggestion of stripping her tunic from her, and re- 
vealing her entire body for judgment. She bared her 
girlish bosom, and her hands tore at the gown, and then 
the convent inhibitions conquered, and she hastily cov- 
ered herself. 

She blushed darkly, and turned from me. The mor- 
tal sin of immodesty had been the daily preachment 
of the nuns. 

"I must go home before the night," she said weakly. 
"I will not go on to the convent. Good-by, my friend. 
Pray for me!" 

The dusk was already thick as she mounted her horse, 
and I made out the trail to Atuona with difficulty. 
Dimly, I discerned the workings of an unholy spell, or 
my sympathy for her and my hatred for Lemoal con- 
jured up a web of witchcraft that would affright her 



408 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

suitor, and bind her to the scene of her birth. How far 
this web had been spun I could only guess. I put the 
matter flatly to Le Brunnec. Yes, he had had the same 
story from Lemoal, and so had many others. As to 
Lutz's hearing it, he did not know, but Lemoal was des- 
pised by Lutz, who had quarreled with him long ago. 
He would not dare to carry his tale to Tahauku, nor 
would any one. The Prussian trader in his dealings 
had inculcated respect and a decent fear of himself. 

That evening I sent Exploding Eggs to tell Song 
of the Nightingale I wanted to see him at my house. 
When he came, I referred, after the customary drink 
of rum, to the taua, and declared my eager wish to meet 
him. I knew Kahuiti, of the valley of Taaoa, who was 
still a cannibal, and I must know the last of the pagan 
priests there. The cook was well pleased, and we 
agreed that the first evening the governor took his din- 
ner at the house of Bauda he would come for me. Le 
Brunnec smiled when I let him know my plan. 

"Go ahead!" he said. "I am no believer in anything 
but a reasonable profit, and a merry time. You can 
do nothing if you are trying to help Mademoiselle Nar- 
bonne. I have seen too often the meddling white fail 
with these Marquesans. They know more about many 
important things than we do, even if they don't wear 
shoes or eat with a fork. That old taua may be a fool, 
but they don't think so, and there's the secret." 

Song of the Nightingale appeared at six, a few even- 
ings later, and we started on the five miles' ride to 
Taaoa. I had borrowed a horse of Mouth of God, and 
the prisoner-cook had no difficulty in finding one. Too 
many people dreaded his bitter tongue and violent dis- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 409 

position to refuse him. As we went through the pass 
at Otupotu and descended the winding trail to the ad- 
joining valley, the sun was below the far tops of the 
green hills and was tinting all the sky in shades of soft- 
est red. Clouds, edged with brilliant gold, were like 
lilies in a garden of roses. The air was still and heavy 
when we rode by the sulphurous springs where Mouth 
of God's grandfather was slain by Kahuiti's spear. My 
guide avoided the village of Taaoa, and took a path 
which led by a graveyard. 

On an obelisk had been inscribed half a century be- 
fore: 

Inei Teavi o te mata einana o Taaoa. 

"Here lie the bodies of the people of Taaoa.*' An 
all-inclusive tombstone, for there was no other, but, in- 
stead, banana-plants, hadamiers, i^i-apples, and chile 
peppers, the fiery-red pods of the latter bright against 
the green and black. Behind the burial-place were two 
great aoa trees, giant banyans that must have been there 
when the first adventurous white cast anchor in these 
waters. In the lessening light, they had a mysterious 
air of life in death ; they were moribund with age, twisted 
and gnarled like those century-old Mission Indians of 
California who sit outside their adobe hovels and show 
a thousand wrinkles on their naked bodies. Yet these 
banyans were filled with life, for a hundred new shoots 
were thrusting from above into the rich mold of the 
earth, and presaging renewal of the dead limbs and 
greater growth of the whole. 

The trees covered acres, overpowering in their im- 
mensity, with columns of regular and solemn symmetry. 
Their ponderous buttresses were like towers, but divided 



410 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

into many separate chambers where the branches had 
descended from heights to become roots, and later other 
columns. These trees were individuals, shattered and 
worn by existence, broken by storms, the boughs arching 
a hundred feet from the ground to let down grotesque 
and curving branches that blindly groped for a grasp 
upon the soil. They were tragedies in wood, and stirred 
in me memories of old French tales of darksome wolds, 
of the shadowy, dripping spinneys where the loup garou 
lay in wait for the bodies and souls of his victims. 

Into one of the cells of the banyan, Song of the Night- 
ingale led me. As large as an average room, it was di- 
vided by a tapa hanging, and from behind this came, at 
his call, the taua. He had a snow-white beard and long 
hair, and was very old. His body was quite covered 
with tattooing, the most elaborate designs I had seen. 
The candlenut ink, originally blackish-brown upon his 
dark skin, had, as the result of decades of kava di-ink- 
ing, turned to a verde-antique, like the patina upon an 
ancient bronze. 

''Moa taputoho/' said Song, with extreme seriousness. 
"A sacred hermit." One who had forsaken all the com- 
mon things of existence to commune with the gods. 

The sorcerer's surrounding were druidic, remindful of 
the Norns, who dwelt beneath the world-tree Ygdrasil, 
Urd and Verdande and Skuld, and decided the fate of 
men. 

He gazed at me intently, raised his hand in a grave 
manner, and said something to my companion which 
I did not understand. 

"He asks if you want anything of him," explained the 
convict. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 411 

"Yes, I do," I replied. "Ask him if the daughter 
of Liha-liha is a leper?" 

My interpreter did not put the question direct, but 
I comprehended his many sentences to state my mean- 
ing. 

The taua pursed his lips and withdrew behind the 
curtain. From his hidden fane issued the deep rum- 
bling of his voice in a chant. 

"He is asking the tiki, the image of the god," said 
Song, fearfully. 

I confess I was aware of a depression approaching 
fear. It was dark in the banyan cell, and a torch of 
candlenuts threw a fitful glimmer on the tapa and the 
scabrous walls. 

Soon above the indistinct voice of the taua was the 
sound of something in the branches of the banyan, of 
a flapping of wings, and a knocking. 

"It is a bat," I whispered to Song. 

"It is the god coming to answer," said he, cowering 
with real horror. 

A dreadful thing it is not to believe in the supernat- 
ural when in ordinary surroundings, and yet to be sub- 
ject to horrible misgivings when circumstances conjure 
up visions of terror. 

The uncanny noises in the tree increased, and then 
the mammoth banyan shook as though an earthquake 
vibrated it. Song and I were now flat on the ground, 
and I repeated an invocation of my childhood : 

"From the powers of Lucifer, O, Mary, deliver us!" 

I said it over and over again, and it numbed my 
senses during the few minutes that the pandemonium 
continued. 



412 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

When the taua emerged, Song turned his back upon 
him, and, taking my hand, reversed me, too. 

"Tapu!" he said, nervously. 

''Tuituir began the moa taputoho. "Be silent!" 
and in a staccato manner pronounced his divination. 
His tone was orotund and dignified, and impressive of 
sincerity. The words were symbolic, and of other 
generations, and Song waited until he had finished to 
translate them. Before he could do this, the taua said, 
"^ApaeT a word of dismissal, and retired. Song seized 
me by the hand as I went toward the curtain, and pulled 
me away; but, for a second, I had a glimpse of a rude, 
basalt altar built against the trunk of the tree, and on 
it a stone image before which was a heap of fruit. I 
was directed speedily away from the banyan, and not 
until we had mounted our horses and galloped a hundred 
feet did the convict answer my question. 

"The moa taputoho said that this girl will offend the 
god if she marries a haoe, a foreigner, and that she 
knows already how the god will punish her if she leaves 
her own valley of Taaoa." 

And flinging out the words as we pounded up the hill, 
it was as if the maker of moonshine was more propheti- 
cal than the taua himself, or was a most interested 
mouthpiece, for he put into them a malevolence missing 
from the aged hermit's voice. That had been majes- 
tic though forboding, while the intonation of Song of 
the Nightingale was personal and harsh. Maybe he 
hated Lutz as did Lemoal. Le Brunnec corroborated 
my suspicion. 

"Lutz found him stealing a demijohn of rum, and had 
him sent to prison for several months," said the Breton. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 413 

"But, granted that every one hates the German," he 
continued, "you are wasting your sympathy and time. 
I predict that Lutz will get Mademoiselle Narbonne, 
but that the taua and his magic will snare her finally. 
These people are born to be unhappy and to die under 
our Christian dispensation." 

So, from day to day, the rumor of her dismaying con- 
dition spread, until it was known to almost everyone of 
the few thousand Marquesans in all the islands, and to 
all others except Lutz. His wooing had not ceased, 
and when the day's work was done at Tahauku, and his 
evening meal despatched, as for months, he thought 
nothing of the ten slippery miles in the pitchy blackness 
to and from the home of his Golden Maid. His hoof- 
beats entered into my dreams, and after midnight I of- 
ten awoke as they resounded on the little bridge across 
the stream by the Catholic Church, Poor devil I He was 
to pay dear for his brief dream. 



CHAPTER XX 

Holy Week — How the rum was saved during the storm — An Easter Sun- 
day "Celebration" — The Governor, Commissaire Bauda and I have 
a discussion — Paul Vernire, the Protestant pastor, and his Church — ■ 
How the girls of the valley imperilled the immortal souls of the first 
missionaries — Jimmy Kekela, his family — A watch from Abraham 
Lincoln. 

HOLY Week passed in a riot of uncommon 
amusement. Its religious significance — the 
most sacred period of the year both for Cath- 
olics and Protestants — was emphasized by priest and 
preacher with every observance of the church, but the 
lay white harked back to the mood of the ancient feast 
of spring and drew the natives with them. Permits to 
buy rum and wine were much sought for by the Marque- 
sans, to whom drink was forbidden. The governor was 
of an easy disposition, and few who had the price of a 
dame-jeanne of rum or wine failed to secure it. As 
Lutz, the German trader at Tahauku, the adjoining 
valley, was the only importer of intoxicants, the canoes 
were active between our beach of Atuona and the stone 
steps at Tahauku, while others rode a-horse or walked. 
On Holy Thursday an uninformed new-comer might 
have pronounced the ^larquesans a busthng race with 
a liquid diet. 

Cloudbursts had swollen the streams, and made the 
trails troughs of mud, so that when Exploding Eggs 
and Mouth of God and I arrived at Atuona beach with 
our empties we were glad to place the receptacles in the 

414: 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 415 

canoe of a fisherman for transport to Lutz's. A ges- 
ture of my cupped hand to my mouth made him eager 
to oblige me. We walked up the hill and past the Scal- 
lamera leper-house. My friends' bare feet and skill 
made it hard for me to keep up with them. Shoes are 
clumsy shifts for naked soles. After a glass of Munich 
beer and a pretzel with Lutz, Exploding Eggs finding 
his own little canoe at the stone steps, we loaded the 
demi- Johns in it and the fisherman's. I went with the 
latter, and Mouth of God with my valet. The canoes 
were narrow and they sank to the gunwales with the 
w^eight. The tide of the swollen river tore through the 
bay, and soon Mouth of God cried out that we must 
take Exploding Eggs in our craft. The boy trans- 
fered himself deftly, and Mouth of God's canoe shot 
ahead. It became necessary for us to bail, for the water 
poured in over the unprotected sides, and the boy and I 
used our hats actively. Suddenly the fisherman in ag- 
onizing voice announced that we could not stay afloat. 
He gave no thought to our bodily plight, the racing cur- 
rent, and the rapacious sharks, but laid stress on our 
freight. 

"Aue!" The rum will be lost!" he shouted, as the 
canoe weltered deeper, and then, without ado, both he 
and Exploding Eggs leaped into the brine. The canoe 
staggered and rose, and, after freeing it from water, 
I paddled it to shore, while the pair swam alongside, 
watching the precious burden. 

All night the torrent roared near my home. The big 
boulders rolled do'VMi the rocky bed, groaning in travail. 
The solid shot of cocoanut and breadfruit, sped by the 
gale, fell on my iron roof while the furious rain was hke 



4.16 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

cannister. The trees made noises as a sailing ship in a 
storm, singing wildly, whistling as does the cordage, 
and the crash of their fall sounding as the freed canvas 
banging on the yards. Sleep was not for me, but I 
smoked and wrote, and listened to the chorus of an- 
gered nature until daybreak. 

In the first light I saw Father David, in soutane and 
surplice, attended by two barelegged acolytes, fording 
the breast-high river. He held aloft the golden box con- 
taining the sacred bread, and one of the acolytes carried 
a bell of warning. Paro had the black leprosy, and in 
his hut far up the valley, on his mat of suffering, waited 
for the comfort of communion. All day three priests 
moved up and down urging the people to confess and 
"make their Easter." 

Titihuti, the magnificently tattooed matron, went 
with me to the ceremony of Honi Peka^ the Kissing of 
the Crucifix. Honi really meant to rub noses or smell 
each other's faces, for the Marquesans had no labial 
kiss. The Catholic church was well filled, and each na- 
tive in turn approached the railing of the channel, and 
rubbed his nose over the desolate figure of the Savior. 
It was a wonderful magic to them. The next day. 
Good Friday or Venini Tapu, I asked Great Fern what 
event that day commemorated. 

"letu-Kirito was killed by his enemies, the tribe of 
luda," he replied, as he might relate a tribal feud in 
these islands. 

Holy Saturday was a joyous holiday, and on Easter 
Sunday the climax of the feasting and merriment came. 
The communion-rail was crowded, many complying 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 417 

with the church compulsion of taking the sacrament 
once a year under pain of mortal sin. There was com- 
pensation for celibacy and exile in Father David's ex- 
pression of delight as he put into each communicant's 
mouth the host. He was the leading actor in a divine 
drama, the conversion by his few words of consecration 
of a flour wafer into the actual body and blood of Jesus 
Christ. The histrionic was mixed with and a moving 
part of his exaltation. 

He gave to all, including Peyral and me, the only 
white attendants, a little loaf of bread he had blessed; 
faraoa benetitio in Marquesan, or flour benedicto. Ah 
Suey took communion, and after mass hurried to me. 
The reputed murderer of Wagner, the American, was 
prideful because he was the baker of the faraoa benetitio. 

"How you likee that bleadee?" he asked me. "My 
bake him bleadee, pliest make him holee. Bimeby me 
ketchee heaven," he said in all seriousness. 

Titihuti, my neighbor, joined me to walk to our 
homes, and, knowing her to miss no masses on Sundays, 
I asked her why she had not received the sacrament. 
She said she had never partaken of it, that she had yet 
to make her first communion of the Lord's supper. 

"But, Titihuti," I remonstrated, "you know that you 
are in danger of hell-fire. You believe in the Catholic 
doctrine, you say, and despite that you disregard its 
strict order." 

Titihuti I realized was a heathen, still full of animist 
superstitions, and I was not unprepared to hear her 
answer : 

"If I took the host into my mouth I would die. The 



418 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

manakao would seize me. I will wait until I am about 
to die, and then Pere David will give me the viaticum, 
and I will go straight to aki." 

The manakao is a demon, and aki is paradise. Titi- 
huti was intending to take the chance that kings and 
others took in the early days of Christianity, when, 
being taught that baptism wiped out all sins, they kept 
an alert clergyman always near them to sprinkle them 
and speed them to heaven, and meanwhile they sinned 
as they pleased. 

By noon the entire village was chanting and dancing. 
The unusual removal of the restriction against bever- 
ages made Easter a pagan rout. The natives became 
uninhibited, if not natural, for a few hours. Several 
times the governor had had groups at his palace to give 
exhibitions of their aboriginal dances, but this feast-day 
he extended a general invitation to a levee. Fifty or 
sixty men or women enjoyed the utmost hospitality. 
The young ruler was bent on seeing their fullest expres- 
sion of mirth, without any restraint of sobriety. The 
noise of their songs echoed to the mission, where the 
nuns prayed that some brand might be spared from the 
holocaust. Swaggering chiefs and beauteous damsels 
abandoned themselves to the spirit of the day. The 
dances were without order. Whenever a man or woman 
felt the urge they sprang to their feet and began the 
tapiriata. Under the palms, upon the verandas, in the 
salle a manger, in every corner of the palace and its 
grounds, the people, astonished at such unwonted free- 
dom and such lavish bounty, showed their appreciation 
in movements of their bodies and legs. The fairest girls 
surrounded the host, and with sinuous circlings and a 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 419 

thousand blandishments entertained and thanked him. 
The chants by the elders were of his greatness. The 
young sang of passion. 

From the hill near the cemetery where Guillitoue, the 
anarchist, dwelt, sounded the drums. I was the es- 
pecial guest there in the afternoon, and those who were 
not too deep in the pool of pleasure at the palace climbed 
the mountain. The orator had built a shelter of bam- 
boo and cocoanut leaves, graceful and clean, and upon 
its carpet of leaves we sat. Guillitoue in a loin-cloth 
and black frock-coat moved about among the three 
score with a dame-jeanne in each hand, and poured rum 
or wine at request. Occasionally he broke into a wild 
hula, grotesque as he whirled about with the wickered 
bottles at arms-length. From other valleys whites and 
natives had come to the koina. Thirty horses were tied 
to the cemetery railing. Amiable gaiety and ludicrous 
baboonery passed the afternoon. 

Frederick Tissot, a storekeeper at Puamau, a Swiss 
in his fifties, ten years in the Foreign Legion of Al- 
giers, a worker upon the Chicago Exposition buildings 
in the early nineties, and seventeen years here, spoke 
of the "good time" when he worked at Zinkand's res- 
taurant in San Francisco. 

"I drank thirty quarts of beer a day. I was cook, 
and the bartenders stood in with me for bonnes bouches. 
I never tasted solid food. I had soup and booze. I 
nearly died in a year, and had to leave." 

He sighed at the memory of those golden days. 
Later I saw him falling off his horse, and laid upon a 
mat in a native house. 

James Nichols, son of a Chicagoan, dignified, tall and 



420 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

thin, almost white, with side-whiskers, a black cutaway, 
overalls, and bare feet, a shoeless butler for all the 
world, had a tale for me of his father's marrying in 
Tahiti a member of the royal family of Pomare, and 
of himself being born on Christmas Island. 

"A wild island that," said the quasi-butler in English. 
"Captain Cook discovered it when he was steering north 
from Borabora on Christmas day. He stayed there a 
few weeks and saw an eclipse of the sun. He took 
away three hundred turtles. When I lived there they 
melted cocoanuts into oil, and my father was the cooper. 
Cook had planted cocoanuts there. It is an atoll, a 
lonely place, and I was glad to leave. I learned Eng- 
lish from my father, and maiTied a Paumotu lady. I 
was in Tahiti until eight years ago, when the cyclone 
wiped me out. Here I work for the mission, making 
copra, and I am the tinker and tinsmith. Here 's look- 
ing at you!" 

Jensen, the young and engaging Dane, who will 
never return to civilization, trod a measure with a 
charming girl from Hanamenu. 

"The clan of the Puna has left its bare paepaes all 
over her valley," he said. "She is the last." 

At dark the cavalcade reeled down the hill, leaving 
Pierre Guillitoue sleeping beside the drum. Despite 
his late fifties and his, to say the least, irregular way of 
living, Pierre is strong and healthy. 

Captain Cook marveled in his diary that "since the 
arrival of the ship in Batavia [Java] every person be- 
longing to her has been ill, except the sailmaker, who 
was more than seventy years old ; yet this man got drunk 
every day while we remained there." 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 421 

A white man lured away the consort of Ahi, an agree- 
able young man much in love. I found the lorn hus- 
band screaming in grief. 

"Tahiatauani, my wife, my wife!" he cried out. The 
Marquesan weeps with facility. Hour after hour this 
stalwart fellow let fall tears, lying on the ground in 
agony. Then he rose and said no more about it. 

Easter Sunday went out in a blaze of riotous glory. 
I saw Ah Suey after nightfall inquiring anxiously and 
angrily for his daughter. The nuns had reported to 
him that she had failed to appear for vespers. That 
night in the breadfruit-grove by the High Place they 
enacted the old orgies of pre-Christian days. Thirty 
men and women, mostly young, sang the ancient songs 
and danced by the lights of lanterns, of candlenuts and 
fagots, and to the sound of the booming drums. 

I sat at wine the next day with Father David in the 
mission-house, it was bare and ugly as all convents, 
having the scant, ascetic, imcomfortable atmosphere 
that monks and nuns dwell in all over the world — no or- 
naments, no good pictures, no ease. Stark walls, stifi' 
chairs, and the staring, rude crucifix over the door. The 
apostolic vicar censured the Government severely. He 
plucked his long, black beard nervously, and spoke his 
feelings in the imperious manner of a mortal who holds 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven, castigating fools 
who would n't even learn there was a door. There was 
no trace of personal pride. 

"The goverrmient here and in France is unjust to 
the church. We suffer from the impiety and wicked- 
ness of French officials. The people of France are 
right at heart, but the politicians are Antichrists. The 



422 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Protestants are bad enough, but the French are Cath- 
olics, or should be. This young governor here is a 
veritable heathen, and has shown the people the road 
to hell again, when they had hardly trod the via trita, 
via tuta. He and Bauda are godless men. Monsieur, 
rum is forbidden to be given to a Marquesan, yet the 
valley floats in rum. I know that to get copra made 
one must stretch the strict rod of the law a trifle, but 
not to drunkenness, nor to dances of the devil, dances, 
that, frowned upon, might be forgotten." 

The governor, Commissaire Bauda, and I dined that 
night on the palace veranda, and afterward we had an 
animated discussion. I wrote it down verbatim: 

Governor. What was it Pere David said to you, 
mon ami? 

I. He said that the Catholic church was badly 
treated by the officials here. 

Governor. Yes, he wants another great slice of 
land. Oh, that church is insatiable! One of my pred- 
ecessors, Grosfillez, fought them. Here is his report 
in the archives : He says that, contrary to their claims 
that they have caused the republic to be loved here, 
that they have taught the Franch language, and have 
raised the natives from savagery, from immorality and 
evil manners, the facts are that they have not changed 
a particle the morals of the Marquesans, that they 
taught in their schools a trifling smattering of French, 
and that they did not make France loved and respected, 
but sought the domination of their order, the Picpus 
Congregation, at the expense of the Government. This 
domination they forced in the early days at the point 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 423 

of the bayonet, to the sacrifice of the lives of French of- 
ficers and soldiers. 

Bauda. That is true here and everywhere we 
French have gone. We have died to spread the power 
of the church. Nom d'un chien! Six campaigns in Af- 
rica, me! Et pire alors! Did not General La Grande 
pin this decoration on me? 

Governor. Here is the very letter of Grosfillez to 
the authorities. He says that he visited the school at 
Tai-o-hae, and that when he spoke to the pupils, many 
of them three or four years in the school, the good sis- 
ter asked permission to translate his simple words into 
canaque so they could understand. Sapristi! Is that 
teaching French? Is not the calendar of the church 
here filled with foolishness, and almost all in canaque? 
Hein? Read this : 

The governor thrust into my hands the almanac writ- 
ten by Father Simeon Delmas, of Tai-o-hae, and pub- 
lished by the mission. It was in hektograph, neatly and 
beautifully written, and contained the religious calen- 
dar of the year, and sermons, admonitions, and anec- 
dotes, in Marquesan, with a small minority in French; 
a photograph of Monseigneur Etienne Rouchouze, for- 
mer vicar apostolic to Oceanica, with praise for his ca- 
reer; an anecdote of Bernadette of Lourdes, the famous 
peasant girl to whom the Virgin Mary appeared, to- 
gether with a list of the apparitions of the Virgin in 
France, beginning in 1830, the other dates being '46, 
'58, '71, and '76; a prayer to Joan of Arc, with an at- 
tack on Protestantism (Porotetane) for burning her, 
and something about the Duke of Guise; a stirring ar- 



424 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tide on Nero's persecution of the Christians ; an account 
of the Fall of the Bastille; a comparison between Clovis, 
king of France, and Napoleon; a tale of Charles V; 
and a table showing that the Catholic church had estab- 
lished missions in all the inhabited islands of this group 
since 1858, and giving the number of children in the 
schools when they were closed by the government as 
clerical. 

"The mountain groaned and brought forth a mouse, 
a soldier," said the almanac. 

"That is treason," said the governor, looking over my 
shoulder, "and what has all that foolishness to do with 
a dying race that does not know what it means? The 
church has done nothing for these people. They are 
not changed except for the worse. What has the church 
done for their health? Nothing. My predecessor 
wanted to stop the eating of popoi. He knew that it is 
dirty, not healthful, and the promiscuous way of eating 
it spreads disease. The church fought him and said 
popoi was all right. France I Have we not suffered 
enough by that church since the Edict of Nantes? 
Since time immemorial? The church is a corporation, 
selfish, scheming, always against any government it does 
not control. It has been the evil genius of France. 
Only Napoleon harnessed the beast and made it do his 
work, but it saw his humbling. The priests tell the 
canaques the Government is against the church, and 
that the church is in the right; that it is the duty 
of every Catholic to love the church first, because 
the church is Christ. They do not preach disaffec- 
tion. Peut-etre, non.. But they do not preach affec- 
tion. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 425 

I. But you must admit that these priests lead lives 
of self-sacrifice ; that personally they gain nothing. A 
meager fare and hard work. They visit the sick 

Governor. Visit the sick? They do that, and they 
bury the dead. But they do nothing to better condi- 
tions. We teach sanitation. The priests are them- 
selves either ignorant or neglectful of sanitation. Their 
calendars, their tracts, their preaching, say not a word 
about health, cleanliness; nothing about the body, but 
all about the soul, about duties to the church. I am 
here primarily to study and aid the lepers, the consump- 
tives and the other sick. To try and halt the disease 
which has killed thousands of unborn children, and the 
tuberculosis which takes most of the Marquesans in 
youth. I am a soldier, experienced in Africa, used to 
leprosy, and the care of natives. In Africa the church 
gives nothing to the people but its ritual. What has 
the church done here after seventy years? 

I. Ah, governor, that is the very question Pere 
David asked me as to the Government. He says they 
looked after the lepers when they had a free hand here. 

Governor. Looked after them. They were not 
physicians. Those men are peasants crammed with a 
pitiful theology. They shall have nothing from me but 
the law. 

He attacked the intermezzo of "Cavalleria Rusticana" 
on his flute, as Many Daughters arrived. Over her ear 
was a sprig of fern, and about her neck a string of fra- 
grant nuts. Her very large eyes were singularly bril- 
liant. 

"C'est toi qui pousse le pu me metai/* she compli- 
mented and tutoyed. ''C'est toi qui na pas la pake? 



426 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

It is thou who playest the flute wonderfully. It is thou 
who has not any tobacco?" 

*'Ah, ma fille, you are well? You will have a drop of 
absinthe?" said the governor. 

"With pleasure; I am as dry as the inside of an old 
skull." 

"But, my friend," I remonstrated with the executive, 
aside. "She is a leper. Her sister is, too. Are you 
not afraid? She drinks from our glasses." 

"Me? I am a soldier, and a student of leprosy. It 
is my hobby. It is mysterious, that disease. I watch 
her closely." 

If the apostolic vicar felt keenly his inability to man- 
age the affairs of the village and the islands to suit his 
ideas of morality and religion, so did the Protestant pas- 
tor. My house was very near the mission, and it was 
some days after I had arrived before I went to the dis- 
senting church, half a mile across the valley. Monsieur 
Paul Vernier, the Protestant pastor, had been many 
years in the Marquesas. He was respected by the un- 
godly. Guilhtoue hailed him as a brother, anarchist 
and infidel though he was himself. Vernier alternated 
between hunting souls to save and bulls to shoot, for he 
was a very son of Cush, and his quest of the wild cattle 
of the mountains had put him upon their horns more 
than once. Salvation he held first, and he was canny 
in copra, but many nights he lay -upon the tops of the 
great hills when pursuit of game had led him far. 

Vernier had a background, for, though born in Tahiti, 
his father had been a man of culture and his mother a 
charming Frenchwoman, whose home in Tahiti was 
memorable to visitors. Vernier had devoted his life to 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 427 

the Marquesans, and lived in this simple atmosphere 
without regret for Tahiti. The apostolic vicar said 
that Vernier was Antichrist made manifest in the flesh, 
but that was on account of the odium theologicum, 
which here was as bitter as in Worms or Geneva of old. 
The spirit of Pere David was pierced by the occasional 
defections from his flock caused by the proselytizing of 
iVernier. Before I met him I had gone to his church 
with Great Fern and Apporo. It was a box -like, red- 
wood building, its interior lacking the imagery and col- 
oring of the Roman congregation. The fat angels of 
Brother Michel, the cherubim and seraphim in plaster 
on the fagade of Father David's structure were typical 
of the genius of that faith, round, smiling, and breath- 
ing good will to the faithful. Protestantism was not in 
accord with the palms, the flowers, and the brilliancy of 
the sunlight. Thirty made up the congregation, of 
whom fourteen were men, twelve women, and four chil- 
dren, though the benches would seat a hundred. The 
women, as in the Catholic church, wore hats, but I was 
the only person shod. 

Men and women sat apart. During the service, ex- 
cept when they sang, no man paid any attention to the 
preacher, nor did but three or four of the men. They 
seemed to have no piety. The women with children 
walked in and out, and four dogs coursed up and down 
the aisle. No one stirred a hand or tongue at them. 

Fariura, a Tahitian preacher, who replaced Vernier, 
was a devout figure in blackest alpaca suit and silk tie, 
but barefooted. As he stood on a platform by a deal 
table and read the Bible, I saw his toes were well spread, 
which in this country was like the horny hand of the 



428 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

laborer, proof of industry. Climbing the coeoanut- 
trees made one's toes ape one's fingers in radiation. 

Tevao Kekela led the singing in a high-pitched cop- 
pery voice, and those who sang with her had much the 
same intonation and manner. Often the sound was like 
that of -a Tyrolean yodel, and the lingering on the last 
note was fantastic. They sang without animation, 
rapidly, and as if repeating a lesson. In the Catholic 
church the natives were assisted by the nuns. These 
words were, of course, Marquesan, and I copied down 
a stanza or two: 

Haere noara ta matorae 

Va nia i te ea tiare, 

Eare te pure tei rave, 

Hiamai, na roto i te, 

Taehae ote merie? 

O te momona rahi 

O te paraue otou, ta mata noaraoe? 

Momona rahi roa 

O te reira eiti to te merie? 

Parau mai nei letue 

Etimona Peteroe tia mai nioe, 

Haa noara vau i tei nei po 

Areva tuai aue. 

Fariura prayed melodiously and pleadingly for ten 
minutes, during which Tevao Kekela's father never 
raised his head but remained bowed in meditation. A 
tattooed man in front of me bent double and groaned 
constantly during the invocation. The others were oc- 
cupied with their thoughts. 

Then said Fariura, "Ma teinoa o letu-Kirito, Metia 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 429 

kaoha nui ia, in the name of Jesus Christ, a good day 
to all the world." 

He began his hour's sermon. The discourse was 
about Rukifero and his fall from Aki, and I discovered 
that Rukifero was Lucifer and Aki was paradise. He 
described the fight preceding the drop as much like one 
of the old Marquesan battles, with bitter recriminations, 
spears, clubs, and slings as weapons, and Jehovah nar- 
rowly escaping Goliath's fate. In fact, the preacher 
said He had to dodge a particularly well-aimed stone. 
Fariura, Kekela, Terii, the catechist, and his wife, Toua, 
received communion, with fervent faces, while the others 
departed, lighting cigarettes on the steps, some mount- 
ing horses, and the women fording the river with their 
gowns rolled about their foreheads. 

The preacher shook hands with me, the only white. 
He was in a lather from the -heat and his unusual clothes, 
and the rills of sweat coursed down his body. His pan- 
tomime of the heavenly faction fight had been energetic. 
I took him to my house for a swig of rum, and we had 
a long chat on the activities of the demon, and ways of 
circumventing his wiles. 

Men like Vernier were not deceived by dry ecclesias- 
ticism. They knew how little the natives were changed 
from paganism, and how cold the once hot blast of 
evangelism had grown. Religion was for long the 
strongest tide in the affairs of the South Seas both under 
the heathen and the Christian revelation. Government 
was not important under Marquesan communism, for 
government is mostly concerned with enforcing oppor- 
tunity for acquisitive and ambitious men to gain and 



430 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

hold wealth and power. In the days of the tapus gods 
and devils made sacred laws and rehgious rites. The 
first missionaries in the Marquesas, who sailed from 
Tahiti, were young Englishmen, earnest and confident, 
but they met a severe rebuff. They relate that a swarm 
of women and girls swam out to their vessel and boarded 
it. 

*'They had nothing on," says the chronicle, "but gir- 
dles of green ferns, which they generously fed to the 
goats we had on board, who seemed to them very strange 
beings. The goats, deprived for long of fresh food, 
completely devastated the garments of the savage fe- 
males, and when we had provided all the cloth we had 
to cover them, we had to drive the others off the ship for 
the sake of decency." 

Harris, one of the English missionaries, ventured 
ashore, and the next morning returned in terror, declar- 
ing that nothing would induce him to remain in the ]\Iar- 
quesas. He feared for his soul. He said that despite 
his protestations and prayers the girls of the valley had 
insisted on examining Jiim throughout the night hours 
to see if he was like other humans, and that he had 
to submit to excruciating intimacies of a "diabolical 
inspiration." Crooks, Harris's partner, dared these 
and other dangers and remained a year. Crooks said 
that in Vaitahu, the valley in which Vanquished Often 
and Seventh Man Who Wallows in the Mire lived, 
there were deified men, called atuas, who, still in life, 
wielded supernatural power over death, disease, the el- 
ements, and the harvests, and who demanded human 
sacrifices to appease their wrath. Crooks believed in 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 431 

the supremacy of Jehovah, but, like all his cloth then, 
did not doubt diabolism and the power of its professors. 

For half a century American and English centers of 
evangelism despatched missionaries to the Marquesas, 
but all failed. The tapus were too much feared by the 
natives, and the sorcerers and chiefs held this power un- 
til the sailors and traders gradually broke it. They sold 
guns to the chiefs, and bought or stole the stone and 
wooden gods to sell to museums and collectors. They 
ridiculed the temples and the tapus, consorted with the 
women, and induced them for love or trinkets to sin 
against their code, and they corrupted the sorcerers with 
rum and gauds. They prepared the ground for the 
Christian plow, but it was not until Hawaiian mis- 
sionaries took the field that the harv^est was reaped. 
Then it was because of a man of great and loving soul, 
a man I had known, and whose descendants I met 
here. 

I was picking my way along the bank of a stream 
when a deep and ample pool lured me to bathe in it. 
I threw off my pareu and was splashing in the deli- 
ciously cool water when I heard a song I had last heard 
in a vaudeville theater in America. It was about a 
newly-wedded pair, and the refrain declared that "all 
night long he called her Snookyookums." The voice 
was masculine, soft, and with the familiar intonation of 
the Hawaiian educated in American English. I swam 
further and saw a big brown youth, in face and figure 
the counterpart of Kamehaemeha I, the first king of 
Hawaii, whose gold and bronze statue stands in Hono- 
lulu. He was washing a shirt, and singing in fair tune. 



432 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"Where's your Snookyookums ?" I asked by way 
of introduction. 

He was not surprised. Probably he heard and saw 
me before I did him. 

"Back on Alakea Street in Honolulu," he replied, 
smilingly, "where I wish I was. You 're the per of eta 
[prophet] they talk about. I been makin' copra or I'd 
been see you before. My name is Jimmy Kekela, and 
I was born here in that house up on the bank, but I was 
sent to school in Honolulu, and I played on the Kame- 
hameha High scrub team. The only foot-ball I play 
now is with a cocoanut. I had a job as chauffeur for 
Bob Shingle, who married a sister of the Princess Ka- 
wananakoa, but my father wrote me to come back here. 
I'll wring out this shirt, and we'll go up and see my 
folks." 

The Kekela home was a large, bare house of pine 
planks from California raised a dozen feet on a stone 
paepae. Unsightly and unsuitable, it was character- 
istic of the architecture the white had given the Marque- 
san for his own graceful and beautiful houses of hard 
wood, bamboo, and thatch, of which few were left. I 
wrung out my pareu, replaced it, and scrambled up the 
bank with him. The house was in a cocoanut forest, 
the trees huge and lofty, some growing at an amazing 
angle owing to the wind shaping them when young. 
They twisted like snakes, and some so approached par- 
allelism that a barefooted native could walk up them 
without using his hands, by the mere prehensility of his 
toes and his accustomed skill. In front of the steps to 
the veranda of the home were mats for the drying of 
the copra, and a middle-aged man, very brown and 




Tahiatini, Many Daughters, the little leper lass 




f Vangois Grelet, the Swiss, ol Uomoa 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 433 

stout, was turning over the halves of the cocoanut meat 
to sun them all over. 

*'My father," said Jimmy to me, and ''Perofeta" to 
him. He shook hands gingerly in the way all people 
do who are unaccustomed to that greeting, and said, 
"Kaohar My answer, ''Aloha nui oeT surprised him, 
for it was the Hawaiian salute. On the veranda I was 
presented to the entire Kekela family, four generations. 
By ones and twos they drifted from the room or the 
grounds. Hannah, the widow of Habuku, was very 
old, but was eager to talk. 

"I am a Hawaiian," she said in that language, "and 
I have been in Atuona, on this piece of land, sixty years. 
My husband brought me here, and he was pastor in that 
church till he died. Auwe! What things went on here 
then! I have seen many men being carried by toward 
the Pekia, the High Place of Atuona, for roasting and 
eating. That was in war time, when they fought with 
the people of Taaoa, or other valley. Kekela and my 
husband with the help of God stopped that evil thing. 
Matanui, a chief, came to Hawaii in a whale-ship, and 
asked for people to teach his people the word of the true 
God. Four Hawaiians listened to Matanui, and re- 
turned with him to Hanavave, where the French priest 
Father Olivier, is now. A week later a French ship 
arrived with a Catholic priest. Auwe! He was angry 
to find the Protestants and tried to drive them out. 
They stayed with the help of the Lord, though they had 
a hard time. Then Kekela and we came, and we have 
seen many changes. He was a warrior, and not afraid 
of anything, even the devil. There are his sons, lami 
and Tamueli, and his grandsons and granddaughters 



434 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

and their children. We are Hawaiian. We have no 
drop of Marquesan blood in us. Did you know Aber- 
ahama Linoconi?" 

Hannah lifted herself from the mat on the floor, and 
brought from the house a large gold watch, very heavy 
and ornate, of the sort successful men bought fifty years 
ago. It was inscribed to James Kekela from Abraham 
Lincoln in token of his bravery and kindness in saving 
the life of an American seaman, and the date was 1864. 

"That watch,'* she said, "was given to Kekela by the 
big chief of America. When he died he gave it to his 
son, Tamueli. Tell the prophet why Aberahama Lino- 
coni gave it to your grandfather, lami !" 

Jimmy, the former chauffeur, tried to persuade his 
uncle, Samuel, a missionary on another island, to tell 
the story, but finally himself narrated it in English. 

"Grandfather Kekela was at Puamau, across this is- 
land, when he got this watch. He had been at Puamau 
some years and teachin' people stop fightin' an' go 
church, when a whale-ship come in from Peru, an' shot 
up the town. The Peru men killed a lot of Marque- 
sans, and stole plenty of them to work in the mines like 
slave. They had guns an' the poor Puamau native only 
spear and club, so that got away with it good an' strong. 
Well, nex' year come American whale-ship, an' the mate 
come up the valley to ketch girl. He saw girl he love 
an' chase her up the valley. The Puamau people let 
him go, an' ask him go further. Then they tie him up 
and beat him like the Peru people beat them, and then 
they got the oven ready to cook him. The chief of Pua- 
mau come tell my grandfather what they goin' do, an' 
he was some sore. He put on his Simday clothes he 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 435 

bring from Hawaii, an' high collar an* white necktie, 
an' he go start something. He was young and not 
afraid of all hell. The mate was tied in a straw house, 
an' everybody 'roun' was getting paralyzed with namu 
enata — you know that cocoanut booze that is rougher 
than sandpaper gin in Hawaii. 

"They were scarin' the mate almost to death when 
grandfather come along. The mate could see the umu 
heatin' up, and the stones bein' turned over on which 
he was goin' to be cooked. Grandfather went in the 
hut. The mate was lyin' on his back with his hands an' 
feet tied with a purau rope, an' his face was as white 
as a shirt. I remember grandfather used to say how 
white his face was. Kekela knelt down an' prayed for 
the mate, an' he prayed that the chief would give him 
his life. He prayed an' prayed, and the chief listen an* 
say nothin'. 'Long toward mornin' the chief could n't 
hold out no longer, an' said if grandfather would give 
him the whale-boat he brought from Hawaii, his gun, 
an' his black coat, he would let him go. Grandfather 
handed them all over, an' took the mate to our house, 
and cured his wounds, and finally got him on a boat an' 
away. It was no cinch, for the American ship had 
sailed away, and he had to keep the mate till another 
ship came. Many time the young men of Puamau tried 
to get the mate, to eat him, an' when another ship ar- 
rived, an' Kekela put the mate on board, they followed 
in their canoes to gi'ab him. They pretty near were 
killin' grandfather for what he did. 

"The mate must have told the Pres'ent of United 
States about his trouble here, for grandfather got a bag 
of money, this watch, a new whaleboat, an' a fine black 



486 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

coat brought him by an American ship with a letter 
from Mr. Lincohi. Father wrote back to Pres'ent Lin- 
coln in Hawaiian, an' thank him proper." 

"He must have lived to be a very old man," I said, 
"because I was in Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu when 
he preached. He was asking for money for this church, 
and he took out the watch Lincoln gave him, and banged 
it on the pupit so that we thought he would break it. 
He was greatly excited. I wrote a piece about his ser- 
mon in the Honolulu paper and it was printed in the 
Nupepa Kukoa, the Hawaiian edition of the Hono- 
lulu Advertiser'' 

Samuel Kekela leaped to his feet and rushed into 
the house, from which he came with a yellowed copy of 
the Nupepa Kukoa, containing the article, with Ke- 
kela's picture. To my own astonishment I read that 
the fourteen Hawaiians of the Kekela families who had 
accompanied the aged pioneer to Honolulu had jour- 
neyed in a schooner captained by my own shipmate. 
Lying Bill. I had seen the schooner in Honolulu Har- 
bor. 

Here was a remarkable group, a separate and alien 
sept, which, though living since before Lincoln's Presi- 
dency in this wild archipelago, had preserved their Ha- 
waiian inheritances and customs almost intact. This 
had been due to the initial impetus given them by their 
ancestor, and it had now ceased to animate them, so that 
they were declining into commonplace and dull copra 
makers, with but a tiny spark of the flame of piety that 
had lighted the soul of their progenitor. 

"I am not the man my father was," said John, the 
father of Jimmy. "I am an American because I am a 



ATOLLS OF TitE SUN 437 

Hawaiian citizen. My father had us all sent to Ha- 
waii to be educated and to marry." 

The old Kekela had been a patriarch in Israel. Not 
alone had he lessened cannibalism and the rigidity of 
the tapu in the "great, cannibal isle of Hiva-Oa," but 
he had instructed them in foreign ways. He had ac- 
quired lands, and now this family was the richest in the 
Marquesas. Only the Catholic mission owned more 
acres. They were proud, and convinced that they were 
anointed of the Lord, though Jimmy, being young, had 
no interest at all in religion. If Kekela the first had 
not been a missionary he would have been a chief or a 
capitalist. Hannah showed me the photographs of the 
kings and queen of Hawaii since Kamehameha IV with 
their signatures and affectionate words for Kekela. 
Now they were disintegrating, and another generation 
would find them as undone as the Marquesans. The 
contempt of government, trader, and casual white for 
all religion had affected them, who for two generations 
had been Christian aristocrats and leaders among a mass 
of commoners and admiring followers. The ten com- 
mandments were as dead as the tapiis, and the church 
had become here what it is in America, a social and en- 
tertainment focus for people bored by life. The Ger- 
man philosopher has said that the apparent problem of 
all religions was to combat a certain weariness produced 
by various causes which are epidemic. Christianity for 
civilized people may be "a great storehouse of ingenuous 
sedatives, with which deep depression, leaden languor, 
and sullen sadness of the physiologically depressed 
might be relieved," but for the Marquesans it had been 
a narcotic, perhaps easing them into the grave dug by 



438 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the new dispensation brought by civilized outsiders. 
The gentle Jesus had been betrayed by the culture that 
had developed in his name, but which had no relation 
to his teaching or example. These good-willed Keke- 
las were as feeble to arrest the decay of soul and body 
of their charges as was the excellent Pastor Vernier or 
the self-sacrificing Father David. In the dance at the 
governor's the flocks, at least, had an expression, cor- 
rupted as it was, of their desire for pleasure and for- 
getfulness of the stupid present. 



CHAPTER XXI 

Paul Gauguin, the famous French-Peruvian artist — a rebel against 
the society that rejected him while he lived, and now cherishes his 
paintings. 

ABOVE the village of Atuona was the hill of Cal- 
vary, as the French named the Catholic ceme- 
tery. Often in the late afternoon I went there 
to watch the sun go down behind the peak of Temetiu, 
and to muse over what might come into my mind. My 
first visit had been with Charles Le Moine, the school 
teacher of Vaitahu, and the only painter living in the 
Marquesas. We had gone to search for the grave of 
Paul Gauguin, the famous French-Peruvian artist, and 
had found no trace of it. 

"That woman who swore to keep it right has buried 
another lover since," said Le Moine, cynically. 

A small man, with a long French nose, a red, pointed 
beard and mustache, twinkling blue eyes, and dressed 
in faded denim, Le Moine, though many years in these 
archipelagos, was out of the Latin Quarter. Two front 
teeth missing, he had a childish air; one thought his 
whiskers might be a boy's joke. He was a hlageur 
about life, but he was very serious about painting, and 
utterly without thought of else. 

"I work at anything the Go^^ernment will give me 
to earn leisure and a bare living so as to paint here," 
he said. 

Alas! Le Moine was not a great artist. His pic- 

439 



440 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

tures were so-so. Doubtless the example and fame of 
Gauguin inspired him to achieve. We had often talked 
of him. 

"When he died," said Le Moine, "I was here, and I 
attended the night services in the church over his re- 
mains. The chief gendarme or agent special, like 
Bauda now, took charge of his house and effects. You 
may imagine the care he took when I tell you that Gau- 
guin was under sentence to prison for reviling the gen- 
darme and the law. He auctioned off everything with 
a jest, and made fun of the dead man and his work. 
He said to us: 'Gauguin is dead. He leaves many 
debts, and nothing here to pay for them, but a few paint- 
ings without value. He was a decadent painter.' 
Gauguin would have expected that. I had only a few 
sous, but was able to buy what I needed most, his 
brushes and palette. Peyral got 'Niagara Falls,' as the 
^ ^ gendarme shouted its name. It was Gauguin's last pic- 

V/. - ^ ture; a Brittany village in winter, snow everywhere, a 
gA./y^'*^ few houses and trees, and the dusk in blue and red and 



r: 



J violet tones. He made that, mon ami, when he was dy- 
^ -^ * ing. It was his reaching back to his old painting 
ground in his last thoughts. I think Peyral sold it to 
^ ^ . Polonsky, the Tahitian banker, who was here looking 

jjo ■'■ to buy anything of Gauguin. Lutz got his cane, carved 

,^^>' by Gauguin, and the other things went for a trifle, in- 
'' eluding the house, which was torn down for the lumber, 
because nobody here wanted a studio. I admired Gau- 
guin, but he had nothing to do with me because I was 
white and of the Government. He was absorbed with 
the Marquesans, and to them he was all kindness and 
generosity. He was the simplest educated white man in 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 441 

his needs I have ever known, and I myself, as you know, 
have few demands. Gauguin wanted drink, paint and 
canvas. He always kept a bottle of absinthe in a little 
pool by his house." 

Lying Bill had said that Gauguin was a seaman. 

" 'Is 'ands was as tough an' rough as mine," said Cap- 
tain Pincher. " 'E 'd been to sea on merchant ships an' 
in the French navy. Gauguin was no bloomin' pimp 
like most artists. 'E knew every rope in the schooner, 
an' could reef an' steer. 'E looked like a Spaniard, an' 
'e could drink like a Yarmouth bloater. Many a time 
I brought 'im absinthe to Atuona on my ship. But 'e 
was a 'ard worker. I used to sit with 'im sometimes 
when 'e 'd play 'is organ. 'E wasn't bad at it, either. 
Women did n't care much for 'im. 'E never made 
much of them, but 'e 'ad plenty. A bleedin' queer frog, 
'e was." 

"He was a chic type" said Song of the Nightingale, 
the prisoner-cook of the palace. Song said chick tip- 
pee, but he meant that Gauguin was a good man to 
know. "When there was a big storm here, and all the 
land of the man next to him was washed away by the 
river, Gauguin gave him a piece. Ea! He gave him, 
too, a paper which made the land his. The family has 
it to-day, and they are my relatives." 

Pastor Vernier, Father David, Peyral, Flag, Song 
of the Nightingale, and others had spoken of Gauguin, 
but his name never came to their lips spontaneously. 
Being dead ten years, he was as never having been, to 
the Marquesans. To Vernier his note was of small in- 
terest and to the vicar apostolic an annoyance. In these 
seas when a man was dead he was forgotten unless he 



442 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

had left an estate, or his ghost walked. The Marque- 
san and the Paumotuan held the dead in great fear at 
times, but not in reverence. The spirit of the artist had 
remained with his body, and that was lost in the matted 
earth of the graveyard on the height. His dust had 
long ago united with the cocoanut-palms that rose from 
his burial-place on that lonely hill. The purple blos- 
soms of the pahue vine, which crawled over his un- 
marked grave and sent its shoots to search the heart of 
the unhappiest of men, were the only tribute ever laid 
there. The woman who had vowed to keep its formal 
outline unbroken and to bedew it with her tears smiled 
at my recalling it. Gauguin here was a name's faint 
echo, but in America and Europe they bartered for 
Gauguin's pictures as if they were of gold, schools of 
imitators and emulators were active, and novelists and 
critics seized upon his utterances and deeds, his savage 
ways and maddening canvases, to fit fictional characters 
to them, or to tell over and over again the mystifying 
story of his career and his work. Here, among the fas- 
cinating scenes nature fashions for those who love its 
extravagances, he died in poverty. More is paid to-day 
for one of his pictures than he earned in a lifetime. 

The man Gauguin persisted as a legend wherever 
painting or Polynesia was much discussed. There was 
in him a seed of anarchism, a harking back to the abso- 
lute freedom of the individual, a fierce hatred of the 
overlordship of money and fixed decency, of comme il 
faut, which lightened the eye of many conforming peo- 
ple, as a glimpse of light through a distant door in a 
dark tunnel. In this stark, brooding, wounded insur- 
recto, this child of France and the ardent tropic of 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 443 

South America, each of us who had suffered, and re- 
belled, if only in our hearts, gained a vicarious expres- 
sion, and an outlet for our atavistic and fearful desires. 
Time that had led man from the anthropoid to the ar- 
tist had betrayed Gauguin. He had yielded to the im- 
pulse we all feel at times, and had tried to escape from 
the cage formed by heredity, habits, and the thoughts 
of his countrymen. Space he had conquered, and in 
these wilds was hidden from the eyes of civilization, but 
time he could not blot out, for he was of his age, and even 
its leader in the evolution of painting. The savage in 
man he let take control of himself, or willed it to be, and 
was spoiled by the inexorable grasp upon him of his 
forebears and his decades of Europe. He was satur- 
ated with the ennui of the West. He wanted to be 
primitive, and had to use morphine, absinthe, and or- 
gan music to remain in the East. He asserted that 
he wanted to be "wise and a barbarian." He was a 
great artist but no barbarian. 

He wrote: "Civihzation is falling from me little 
by little. Under the continual contact with pebbles my 
feet have become hardened and used to the ground. 
My body, almost constantly nude, no longer suffers 
from the sun. I am beginning to think simply, to feel 
very little hatred for my neighbor — rather, to love him. 
All the joys, animal and human, are mine. I have es- 
caped everything that is artificial, conventional, cus- 
tomary. I am entering into the truth, into nature. In 
the certitude of a succession of days like this present 
one, equally free and beautiful, peace descends on me." 

He never knew peace. His was a tortured soul and 
body, torn by conflicting desires, and absence of the 



444 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

fame and slight fortune he craved. He had courage 
and stoicism. In scores of letters to his friend Mont- 
fried he complained of his fate, of his desperate poverty, 
his lack of painting materials, the bourgeois whites 
about him, and his lack of recognition in Europe. He 
wanted to return there, and JNIontfried had to tell him 
in plain terms that he would destroy by his presence in 
Paris any sale there was for his pictures. Gauguin 
realized that, for it carried out his own motto, one that 
he had put over his door: "Be mysterious and you 
will be happy I" 

Gauguin was like all cultivated whites who go to the 
South Seas after manhood, hke me, unfitted by the poi- 
sons of civilization to survive in a simple, semi-savage 
environment. We demand the toxins of our machine 
bringing-up and racial ideals, as the addict his drug. 
Gauguin was already forty-three when he stepped 
ashore at Tahiti, and fifty-three when he came to the 
Marquesas, but at least he had put into a proper milieu 
his portrait of himself made when he said to his oppo- 
nents, in Paris : "I am a savage. Every human work is 
a revelation of the individual. All I have learned from 
others has been an impediment to me. I know little, 
but what I do know is my own." 

Paul Gauguin was dead at fifty-five. An ancestor 
was a centenarian. The family was famed in its envi- 
ronment for its vitality, but Paul wasted his energy 
in bitter blows against the steel shield of society, and 
spoiled his body with the vices of both savage and civi- 
lized. 

"He was smiling when I saw him dead," said Mouth 
of God, who had served him for the love of him. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 445 

That smile was his ever-brave defiance of life, but, 
too, a thought for France — for the France he adored, 
and which he dreamed of so often though it had rejected 
him. That last picture, painted in these humid Mar- 
quesas in his house set in a grove of cocoanut-palms and 
breadfruit-trees, was of Brittany and was a snow scene. 
He did not defeat his enemy, but sank into his last sleep 
content to go because the struggle had become too an- 
guishing. He knew he was beaten, but he flew no flag of 
surrender. He passed alone, with only the smile as a 
token of his final moment of consciousness, and the emo- 
tion that stirred his soul. 

As was said best by his friend and biographer, Charles 
Morice, Gauguin was one of the most necessary artists 
of the nineteenth century. His name now signified a 
distinctive conception of the natm-e of art, a certain 
spirit of creation and mastery of strange technique, and 
a revolt against established standards and methods 
which constituted an opposition to the accepted thoughts 
and morals of art — if not a school, at least a distinct 
class of graphic achievement. As the French say, it 
was a categoric. For the conservatives, the regular 
painters and critics, he had created un frisson nouvcau, 
a new shudder in art, as Hugo said Baudelaire had in 
literature. 

Gauguin was not a distinguished writer. "Noa ISToa" 
was written by his friend, Morice, in Paris, from letters 
to him. The painter commented upon the book that it 
was "not the result of an ordinary collaboration, that is, 
of two authors working in common, but that I had the 
idea, speaking for non-civilized people, to contrast their 
characters with ours, and I had enough originality to 



446 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

write it simply, just like a savage, and to ask Morice, for 
his part, to put it in civilized words." His "Intimate 
Journals" are actually revelatory of the man, but "Noa 
Noa" is a tropical dish seasoned with sophistries, though 
beautiful, and, to a large degree, true. It is a poetical 
interpretation by Morice, a Parisian, of Gauguin's ad- 
ventures in Tahiti. 

Gauguin spent little time in writing. Every fiber of 
his weakening body and every lucubration of his mind 
were bent on expressing himself in painting, or in clay 
or wood, but he thought clearly and individualistically, 
and wrote forcefully and with wit. He was not a 
poet, nor had he felicity of language. 

I revived Gauguin's memory in the South Seas. 
Having known about him in Tahiti, I was interested to 
find out all I could of his brief life and sorrowful death 
here. Lovaina, the best known woman in the South 
Seas, at whose Hotel Tiare I lived in Tahiti, spoke of 
Gauguin one day. She had heard a whisper between 
Temanu and Taata-Mata, two of her handmaids, that I 
might leave the Tiare, her impossible auherge in Pa- 
peete, to lodge with Madame Charbonnier or Madame 
Fanny. 

Lovaina, three quarters American by blood, but all 
Tahitian in looks, language, and heart, was not assured 
that her impossible hotel was the only possible one 
within thousands of miles, as it was really, and she said : 

"Berina, I think more better you go see that damn 
house before you make one bargain. You know what 
Gauguin say. He have room with Madame Charbon- 
nier, and eve'y day, some time night, she come make 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 447 

peep his place. He had glass door between that room 
for him and for other man, and he say one day to me 
(I drink one Pernod with him) : 

" 'That sacre French women she make peep me. I 
beelong myself. I make one damn pictu'e stop that.' 

"You go look for yourse'f to-day. You see that door. 
Gauguin say he make ugly so nobody make look." 

"That Gauguin was a very happy man in my maison," 
said Madame Charbonnier in French to me. "He and 
I had but one disagreement. One day a native woman 
accompanied him here. I knew he must have models, 
but I want no hussies in my house. I am a respectable 
citizeness of France. I looked through the glass door, 
and I warned him, though he had paid in advance, I 
must preserve my reputation. O, la la la! He 
painted that mauvaise picture of that very Tahitian girl 
on my door to spite me. La voila! Is it not affright- 
ing?" 

It was a double-panelled door, and a separate paint- 
ing covered each; to the left a seated girl wearing a 
pareu and to the right a girl playing the vivo, the Ta- 
hitian flute, a female figure standing, and the white rab- 
bit Gauguin introduced afterward into many paintings. 
I might have bought the door of Madame Charbonnier 
or somewhat similar windows and doors in another house 
occupied by Gauguin for a hundred francs or perhaps 
two or three times that much. At any rate, for an in- 
considerable sum, because they had no value as ex- 
amples of the painter's ability nor were they intrinsi- 
cally beautiful or attractive. Stephen HawefS, a tal- 
ented Enghsh artist, who was there with me, bought the 



us ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

door, and W. Somerset Maugham a window, which I 
saw afterward in a New York gallery for sale at some 
thousands of dollars. 

I was mentioning Gauguin's name at Mataiea, in 
Tahiti, at the house of the chief of that district, Tetu- 
anui, a gentleman of charming manners and great 
knowledge of things Tahitian. Rupert Brooke and I 
had walked to the ancient maraiy or temple, and the 
poet and I had tried to rebuild the ruin in our imagi- 
nation. I had seen marais better preserved, and I had 
talked with many who had studied their formation and 
history. 

This one, very famous in the annals of Tahiti, was not 
far from Tetuanui's home, and on it had been enacted 
strange and bloody sacrifices in the days of heathenry. 
It was on the sea-shore, and, indeed, much of it had 
fallen into the water, or the surf had encroached upon 
the land. We had spent some hours about it, and had 
wondered about the people who had made it their cathe- 
dral a few score years ago. Here we were living with 
their grandchildren. The father of the chief's father 
might have participated in the ceremonies there, might 
have seen the king accept and eat the eye of a victim, 
or feign to do so, for cannibalism had long passed in 
Tahiti even a century ago. 

Walking back to Mataiea, we met the chief return- 
ing from his day's labor directing the repair of 
roads, for, though a chevalier of the Legion of Honor, 
a former warrior for the French against tribes of other 
islands, •Tetuanui had small means, and was forced to 
be a civil servant of the conquerers. 

"We have been to see the marai" said Brooke. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 449 

''Oia mau anei teie?'' replied Tetuanui. "Is that so? 
I have not been there for a long time. The last time 
was with that white painter Gauguin. He lived near 
here, and one day I spoke of the marai, and he asked 
me to show it to him. We walked down there together, 
but he was disappointed that it was so broken down." 

Once again the chevalier gave me a glimpse of the 
barbarian. He and his amiable wife took occasional 
boarders, and there were two San Francisco salesgirls 
there for a week. They were shocked at our bathing 
nude in the lagoon in front of the house, although we 
wore loin-cloths to walk to the beach and back. They 
complained to the chief, who was astonished, for Brooke 
was strikingly handsome, and the Tahitian girls were 
open in their praise of his beauty. 

"They should have seen that Gauguin," said Tet- 
uanui, as he begged our pardon for telling their indig- 
nation. "He was always semi-nude and often nude. 
He became as brown as a Tahitian in a few months. 
He liked to lie in the sun, and I have seen him at the 
hottest part of the day sitting at his easel. You know, 
he had a wife here in the way that the whites take our 
women, and one day he and she were in swimming, and 
came out on the road before putting on parens. A good 
missionary complained of them — it was not quite 
proper, truly, and the gendarme warned both of them. 
Gauguin was furious, for he .hated the gendarmes before 
that." 

Ten years were gone since Gauguin, having fled from 
Tahiti and a fate that he could not escape, had expired 
here in Atuona in a singular though anguished resigna- 
tion. His atelier and dwelling had been just below 



1 



450 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Peyral's on the opposite side of the road I trod so often 
to and from the beach, and Peyral had known him as 
well as such a man can know a master. Mouth of God, 
the husband of Malicious Gossip, saw Gauguin dead 
in his house, and it was he who told me that Kahuiti, 
the recent cannibal chief, had a tiki made by Gauguin. 
I went to Taaoa, past the Stinking Springs and the 
house of Mademoiselle Narbonne, to see it. 

I remembered that James HLuneker .said,"In the huts 
of the natives where cataloguing ceases, many pictures 
may be found." 

Kahuiti had one, and dear to the heart of that re- 
markable anthropophagus. It was a striking figure of 
an old god, and a couple of feet square, and in the 
painter's most characteristic style. 

When I asked him to sell it to me, he opened wide 
those large brown eyes which had looked a hundred 
times at the advancing spear, and had watched the 
cooking of his slain enemy. He said nothing but the 
words, "^Tiki hoa pit! An image by my dear friend!" 

I smoked a pipe with him, and went back to Atuona 
thoughtful. 

Gauguin made many enemies, but he kept his friends 
even in death. 

''Toujours tout a vous de coeur'' he had signed his 
letters to his one or two friends, with rare sincerity. 

Gauguin had deserted Tahiti because of his frequent 
quarrels with the representatives of the Government 
there, and with the church. He precipitated a similar 
situation in Atuona almost immediately. In his "In- 
timate Journals," he tells of it: 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 451 

The first news that reached me on my arrival at Atuona was 
that there was no land to be bought or sold, except at the mis- 
sion. . . . Even so, as the bishop was away, I should have to 
wait a month. My trunks and a shipment of building lumber 
waited on the beach. During this month, as you can well imag- 
ine, I went to mass every Sunday, forced as I was to play the 
role of a good Catholic and a railer against the Protestants. 
My reputation was made, and His reverence, without suspecting 
my hypocrisy, was quite willing (since it was I) to sell me a 
small plot of ground filled with pebbles and underbrush for 650 
francs. I set to work courageously, and, thanks once more 
to some men recommended by the bishop, I was soon settled. 

Hypocrisy has its good points. When my hut was finished, 
I no longer thought of making war on the Protestant pastor, 
who was a well-brought-up young man with a liberal mind 
besides ; nor did I think any longer of going to church. A 
chicken had come along, and war had begun again. When I 
say a chicken I am modest, for all the chickens had arrived, and 
without any invitation. His Reverence is a regular goat, while 
I am a tough old cock and fairly well-seasoned. If I said the 
goat began it, I should be telling the truth. To want to con- 
demn me to a vow of chastity! That's a little too much; 
nothing like that, Lizette ! 

To cut two superb pieces of rose-wood and carve them after 
the Marquesan fashion was child's play for me. One of them 
represented a homed devil (the bishop), the other a charming 
woman with flowers in her hair. It was enough to name her 
Therese for every one without exception, even the school-chil- 
dren, to see in it an allusion to this celebrated love affair. 
Even if this is all a myth, still it was not I who started it. 

Pastor Vernier told me of his acquaintance with 
Gauguin and of his last days. Vernier acknowledged 



452 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

that he had never been his friend. I would have known 
that, for to Gauguin, professors of theology were as ab- 
surd and abhorrent as he to them. 

Gauguin's residence was a half mile away from Ver- 
nier's. Two years he had lived there after ten in 
Tahiti. Always disappointment, always bodily suffer- 
ing, and the reaction from alcohol and drugs ; an invalid 
a dozen years. 

"He was a savage, but a charming man," said Pastor 
Vernier to me. "I could have nothing to say to him, 
ordinarily, and he did not seek me out. He had no re- 
spect for the law and less for the bon Dieu. The Cath- 
olics especially he quarreled with, for he made a cari- 
cature of the Bishop, and of a native woman, about 
whom there was a current scandal. It was common 
talk, and the natives laughed uproariously, which 
angered the bishop greatly. It was unfit to be seen by 
a savage. You can imagine it! 

"I had not seen him for some time when I had a note 
from Gauguin, scrawled on a piece of wrapping-paper. 
It said: 

"Will it be asking too much for you to come to see me? 
My sight is all of a sudden leaving me. I am very ill, and can- 
not move." 

"I went down the trail to his house, and found Mouth 
of God with him, as also the old Tioka. His legs were 
terribly ulcerated. He had on a red loin-cloth and a 
green tam-o'-shanter cap. His skin was as red as fire 
from the eczema he had long been afflicted with, and the 
pain must have been very severe. He shut his lips tight 
at moments, but he did not groan. He talked of art for 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 453 

an hour or two, passionately advocating his ideas, and 
without reference to his approaching end. I think he 
sent for me for conversation and no more. It was then 
he presented me with books and his portrait of Mal- 
larme. 

"We chatted long and I was filled with admiration 
for the courage of Gauguin and his prepossession with 
painting, at the expense of his doleur. About a fort- 
night later I went back when Tioka summoned me, and 
found him worse, but still forgetful of everything else 
but his art. It was the eighth of May Tioka came 
again. Gauguin now was in agony. He had had pe- 
riods of unconsciousness. He must have known his 
danger, but he talked fitfully of Flaubert and of Poe, 
of 'Salammbo' and of 'Nevermore.' When I said adieu 
he was praising Poe as the greatest poet in English. 

"A few hours afterward I heard the shouts of the 
natives that Gauguin was dead. 

'' 'Haoe mate!' they called to me. 'The white is dead.' 

"I found Gauguin on his cot, one leg hanging down 
to the floor. Tioka was urging him in Marquesan to 
speak, and was rubbing his chest. I took his arms and 
tried to cause respiration, but in vain. He was already 
beginning to grow cold. Do you know. Monsieur 
Americain, that the vicar went down there at night be- 
fore I was aware of it, and, though Gauguin despised 
him and his superstitions, forced an entrance and, had 
the body carried to the Catholic Cemetery, with mass, 
candles, and other mummeries." 

The good Vicar, Pere David, had another tale. He 
told it over our wine at the mission. My House of the 
Golden Bed was but the toss of a mango away, and we 



454 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

often discussed the fathers, especially Anthony, Jerome, 
and Francis of Assisi. 

"It is not true," he said, plucking his long, black 
beard nervously, as was his wont. "Gauguin was born 
in the church. Did he not tell me he was the descendant 
of a Borgia? He was at the Jesuits' school. 
The devil got hold of him early. Ah, that 
France is punished for its breaking of the Con- 
cordat. Napoleon knew what was needed. Gauguin 
did make much trouble here. I do not care what he did 
to the Government. That Government is usually athe- 
ist. But he made an obscene image of the bishop. 
He never entered our mission, after he had secured 
his land from us, and labor to build his house. He 
derided the sacred things of religion, and when he came 
to die he sent for the Protestant. I had hoped always 
that he would recant his atheism and change his ways. 
He was immoral, but then so is nearly everybody here 
except the fathers, and the nuns. That very pastor — 
Non! I guard my secret. Mais, it is not a secret, for 
all the world knows. N'importe! I close my lips." 

He was determined to be charitable, but, as for me, 
I knew the charge well, and had disproved it by personal 
research. John Kekela, the Hawaiian, had sworn on 
the Bible given his father by Kalakaua, the last Ha- 
waiian king, that it was a lie, and Kekela would know 
for sure, and would not kiss the book falsely for feai* 
of death or, at least, the dreaded fefe, which makes one's 
legs as big as those of an elephant. 

"But despite the antagonism of Gauguin to the 
church and his immorality, you took charge of his body 
and gave him a Catholic funeral," I said. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 455 

"Who am I to judge the soul of a man?" replied the 
vicar, deprecatingly, his right hand lifted in appeal. 
"He was alone in his last moments. Doubtless the 
Holy Virgin or perhaps even the patron of the Mar- 
quesas, the watchful Joan of Arc, aided him. Each one 
has his guardian angel who never deserts him. When 
the shadows of death darken the room, then does that 
angel fight with the demons for the soul of his charge. 
I learned that Gauguin was dead from the catechist. 
Daniel Vaimai. It was then evening of the day he had 
died, and I had been ministering to a sick w^oman in 
Hanamate, an hour's ride away. I met Daniel Vaimai 
at the cross-roads and he informed me of Gauguin's 
death. I felt deeply sorry that he had not had the holy 
oils in his extremity, and had not received absolution 
after confession, but the devil is like a roaring lion of 
Afrique, seeking what he may devour." 

"He is especially active here," I ventured, interested 
as I am in all such vital matters. The vicar, who had 
been talking animatedly and gazing at an invisible con- 
gregation, fixed his eyes on me. 

"Here in the Marquesas and wherever whites are," 
he replied acridly. "But to return to Gauguin! I 
immediately arranged for the interment of the dead man 
the next morning. In this climate decay follows death 
fast. As a matter of fact, some of us, including two 
of the Freres de la doctrine chretienne, had hastened to 
Gauguin's house when his death was announced the day 
before. They had planned his funeral for two o'clock 
the next morning, but we made it a trifle earlier, and 
removed him to the church of Atuona shortly after one. 
There we had mass for the dead, and did the poor 



456 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

cadavre all honor, or, rather, we thought of the soul 
that had fled to its punishment or reward. We carried 
the body to Calvary and put it in the earth." 

"I find no stone nor any mark at all of his grave," 
I said. 

''Peut-etre, that may well be," said the vicar calmly. 
"I do not know if one was placed. He had no kin here 
nor intimates other than natives." 

"But Pastor Vernier says Gauguin had asked long 
ago to be buried with civil rites only, and that he had 
wanted to assist in them. He says that you deceived 
him as to the hour of removal to the church, and that 
when he arrived at two o'clock Gauguin was already in 
the mission which he could not enter." 

The vicar shrugged his shoulders. 

"I cannot enter into a controversy as to what Vernier 
says. Gauguin was of Catholic parentage. Have I 
not said he claimed to be a descendant of a Borgia, and 
Borgias were popes? What more or less could the 
church have done? Stern as that Mother may be to 
wayward children in life, she spares no effort even in 
death to comfort those remaining, and to help by prayer 
and ceremony the spirit that wrestles with purgatory. 
We ever give the benefit of the doubt. A second be- 
fore he succumbed to that heart stroke, or the laudanum, 
Gauguin may have asked for forgiveness. Only God 
knows that, and in His infinite mercy He may have be- 
stowed on him that final penitence. You will not for- 
get the thief on Calvary." 

That villainous Song of the Nightingale might have 
given success to my quest for the grave of Gauguin. 
I cannot remember now that I ever mentioned to him 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 457 

my looking for it. He pointed it out to a recent gov- 
ernor of the Marquesas Islands, Dr. L. Sasportas, who, 
in a letter to Count Charles du Pare, now of Sari Fran- 
cisco, tells of it : 

Gauguin, of whom you wrote, had not departed from the 
tradition of adopting native customs ; and unfortunately, his 
influence among the Marquesans was rather bad than good. I 
have gathered some details about him, which may interest those 
who know that sad end of this talented painter who came to the 
Marquesas, to escape the civilized world, its taxes, ugliness and 
evils. He found here the government, police, the tax collector, 
etc. If these islands enjoy an eternal summer, disease is not 
lacking in them. 

Gauguin, morphinomaniac, lived close to a bottle of absinthe 
that he kept fresh in his" well. He was condemned to serve in 
jail for three months, and one morning he was found dead near- 
by a phial of laudanum. He committed suicide. Nothing 
remains of him. His house has been demolished, and his land 
is a field of potatoes. His last paintings have been carried 
away, not by admirers, but by merchants who did not ignore the 
value of his work. 

My wife and I went once to a little French cemetery which 
lies on top of the hill and among a hundred Christian tombs 
we looked for Gauguin's. About three quarters of the crosses, 
worm-eaten, had fallen. One after the other we threw them 
over to find the name of Gauguin. It was in vain. After we 
had come down, we inquired of our cook, prisoner and drunkard, 
who lived here at the time of Gauguin. We learned that the 
tomb was for a long time abandoned. We finally found it, and 
we had a wreath of natural flowers that he loved so much, rose- 
laurel, hibiscus, gardenia and others, placed upon the spot. 
They are decayed now, alas, as is Gauguin. 

That again was Gauguin. Fleeing from Europe, 



458 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

from civilization, from the redingote, and even there, 
in that most distant isle, thousands of miles from any 
mainland, being pursued by the gendarme! Had he 
not abandoned Tahiti after a decade for a wilder spot, 
yet a thousand miles farther, hidden in a bywater of the 
vast ocean, and in the "great cannibal isle of Hiva-Oa" 
been harassed by the law and the church ? 

He saw there was no escape, and that, after all, the 
fault was in him. He demanded the impossible from 
a world corrupted to its horizon. He, too, could say 
of himself, as he wrote of the Tahitians, and then of the 
Marquesans : 

The gods are dead and I am dead of their death. 

"He had verses on that god he made for his garden,'* 
said Le Moine. "They began: 

*Les dieux sont mort et Atuona meurt de leur mort.' 

That was it. Gauguin was like the Marquesans of 
his, of my, village of Atuona. Their old gods were 
dead, and they perished of the lack of spiritual sub- 
stance. 

Le Moine was to go mad, and to die, as I would have 
if I had not fled. The air was one of death. 

"Le soleil autrefois qui I'enflsBmmait I'endort 
D'un sommeil desole d'affreux sursauts de reve, 
Et I'effroi du futur remplit les yeux de I'Eve. 
Doree : elle soupire en regardant son sein, 
Or, sterile scelle par les divins desseins. 



»> 



When I returned to America and wrote of Gauguin, 
I received a letter from his son: 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 459 

. . . novel could n't hurt Gauguin as an artist. We men 
aren't insulted when apes yelp at us ; but we are sometimes 
obliged to live amongst them, so when you defend Gauguin 
against the quadrumanes, you make it easier for his son to move 
in their midst. 

I therefore thank you and beg you to believe me your most 
grateful friend and admirer, 

Emile Gauguin. 



CHAPTER XXII 

Monsieur I'lnspecteur des Etablissements Fran^ais de I'Oceanie — How the 
School House was Inspected— I Receive My Conge— The Runaway 
Pigs — Mademoiselle Narbone goes with Lutz to Papeete to be Mar- 
ried— P^re Simeon, about whom Robert Louis Stevenson wrote. 

ONE must admit that the processes of govern- 
ment in my islands were simple. Since only 
a couple of thousand Marquesans, of an orig- 
inal myriad, were alive, after three score years of colo- 
nialism, officialdom had lessened according to the mor- 
tuary statistics. Sovereignty was evidenced by the tri- 
color that Song of the Nightingale occasionally raised 
in the palace garden, while Commissaire Bauda and two 
gendarmes aided the merry governor in exercising a 
lazy authority. There was no hospital, nor school to 
distract the people from copra making, and, excepting 
for the court sessions of Saturdays, to hear moonshine 
cases, or a claim against Chinese rapacity, we might 
have thought ourselves living in an ideal state of 
anarchy. 

One morning we awoke to the reality of empire and 
the solicitude of Paris. Flag, the mutoi, peered through 
the windowless aperture of my cabin, shortly after 
dawn, and announced, with the pompousness of a bum- 
bailifF, that the French gunboat Zelee was at Tahauku, 
and would shortly land Monsieur Vlnspecteur des Etab- 
lissements Franfais de VOceanie. Flag called the visi- 
tor 'Sieu Ranisepatu, and in pantomime indicated his 
rank and power. The Zelee sent him ashore at the 

460 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 461 

stone steps of Lutz's store, and departed for Vaitahu, 
ostensibly for a fresh water-supply, but, as Painter Le 
Moine said with an oath, the commander had gone to 
Le Moine's adopted village, Vaitahu, to make love to 
Vanquished Often, the artist's model. 

The inspector of colonies occupied the spare room 
at the palace and our pleasant parties were suspended. 
He was a gross, corpulent man, in a colonel's gilded uni- 
form. One could not see his collar, front or back, for 
the rolls of his fat neck and his spacious beard. The 
tapis was full of troublesome affairs. The governor 
and Bauda had fallen out. Rum was responsible. 
The governor had given Taiao Koe, Flatulent Fish, 
one of my tattooed neighbors, a permit to buy a gallon 
of rum for Lutz. Flatulent Fish lightened his jug 
too much. Commissaire Bauda met him wobbling from 
port to starboard on his horse, and took the jug. That 
for Bauda, censor of morals! But the same day, dur- 
ing the difficult work of repairing Bauda's arm-chair, 
Bauda cheered the natives with rum, and two, made 
utterly reckless, invaded the palace garden in search of 
more. The inspector was stupefied, and the governor 
drove them away with threats of prison and indignant 
exclamations that such a thing had never happened be- 
fore. Of course, Bauda had to let the inspector know 
of his action in saving Flatulent Fish from a more 
wobbly state, and he did so in ignorance of his chair-re- 
pairers having betrayed to the inspector his own liber- 
ality. The governor did not fancy Flatulent Fish's 
permit for rum being brought before the inspector's 
notice. So the great man had to decide whether the 
Governor or the Commissaire was supreme in rum 



462 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

matters, rum, of course, being absolutely forbidden to 
the natives. 

After two days, this matter was settled. The in- 
spector became restless. Every day he said, "I must see 
the schoolhouse. It is necessary that I see that 
important building." 

He meant a tumbledown, unoccupied cabin up the 
valley, a dirty, cheap, wooden building, bare planks and 
an iron roof. 

Rain did not permit the inspector to go at once, for 
he did not stir out of the Governor's house while it was 
wet; but after three days of fair weather he said very 
firmly, "I will visit the schoolhouse. It is my duty and 
I wish to report on that." 

So, with the governor, he advanced up the broken 
road to the river, which must be crossed to go up the 
valley. The river was two feet deep. There were 
crossing-stones placed for him, but he was stout and 
they were three feet apart. One must jump from one 
stone to the other. The governor, in boots, plunged 
into the purling rill. The inspector cried to the gov- 
ernor, ''Mais, mon brave, prenez garde aux accidents!" 

"It is not dangerous," said the governor, who in five 
strides had reached the other bank. 

*'But I may get my shoes wet," said the inspector. 

'Tt is better to take them off," advised the governor. 

"Yes, that is true. Naturally one removes one's 
shoes when one crosses a river on foot. And, in such a 
case as this, one must take chances. It is imperative 
that I inspect the schoolhouse. Mais, nom d'un chien! 
Where shall I sit to take off my shoes?" 

The governor suggested a certain boulder, but it was 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 463 

too low; another was too high. But, after inspecting 
many boulders, one was found that suited the embon- 
point of the big man. He bent over, then looked at 
the river, and sat up straight. 

"It is a wooden schoolliouse?" he queried. 

"Yes, plain wood," said the executive. 

"And, par consequence, it has a roof and a floor and 
sides, and maybe some wooden desks for the scholars. 
Steps to enter, n'est-ce pas? And a tableau noir, to 
write the alphabet on. As a matter of fact, there is 
little difference between schoolhouses. You have seen 
that schoolhouse, mon ami?'' 

''Out, Monsieur Vlnspecteur, I have seen it. It is 
exactly as you describe it. Tres simple, and the black- 
board is there, but a trifle disfigured." 

"Ah, the blackboard is in bad condition! Bien, we 
must remedy that. I am well satisfied. I will return 
to your house. These stones are very hot." 

The bon homme marched back, puffing, combing his 
fan-like whiskers with his fingers, with that quietly ex- 
ultant air of one who has done his duty despite all risks. 

The Zelee returning, and this being the total of his 
inspection, he ordered it to speed forthwith to Tahiti, 
where, doubtless, as in Paris, he recited the dangers and 
difficulties of life in the cannibal islands. He forgot to 
have the blackboard repaired. I learned by letter from 
Malicious Gossip, two years after his notation, of its 
deplorable state. The ingratitude of colonies toward 
their foster-mothers is proverbial. Our own fat men, 
secretaries of war, senators, and congressmen, make as 
cursory examinations of our American vassals in the 
Pacific and Atlantic, and with as little help to them. 



464 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

The inspector's conge was almost synchronous with 
mine. The Saint Francois of Bordeaux, the first mer- 
chant steamship in the Marquesas, arrived from Tahiti, 
to swing about the ports of my archipelago and return 
to Papeete. My heart ached at leaving; the tendrils of 
the purple-blossomed pahue-vine were about it. How 
could I forsake forever my loved friends of Atuona and 
Vaitahu, Malicious Gossip, Mouth of God, Vanquished 
Often, Seventh Man Who Is So Angry, Great Fern, 
Ghost Girl, and the little leper lass. Many Daughters? 
I must make my choice, and swiftly. If I stayed much 
longer, I would never live again in America; the 
jungle would creep over me and I should lie, some day, 
on Calvary's hill near the lost remains of Paul Gauguin. 
There was Le Brunnec, the best of the whites, but he 
was a Breton peasant, born to the sun and simplicity 
and nature's riches ; I was of the shade and artificiahty, 
of pavements and libraries. Nor could I show an un- 
abraded surface to these savage tropics as did Lutz. 
His Prussianism, his Lutheranism, preserved him cold, 
and ready to escape at fortune's opening. My Irish 
forebears and American generations gave me no such 
buckler, nor ambition. 

The one passenger of the Saint Francois who came 
ashore on our beach weighted the balance for America. 
He was Brunneck, an American swimmer, diver, and 
boxer, whom I had seen Sarah Bernhardt kiss when at 
Catalina Island he rose through the clear waters of 
Avalon Bay to her glass-bottomed boat and presented 
her with an abalone shell. I traded him my coffee-pot 
and utensils for the memory of Sarah's moment of 
abandon, and Brunneck tipped the scales for me toward 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 465 

the America he had deserted. He was an atavist in 
a grass skirt and a crown of ferns, hatless, purseless, a 
set of boxing-gloves his only impedimenta. I could not 
equal his serenity, that of a civilized being again in har- 
mony with the earth. I hurried aboard the steam- 
ship in Tahauku roadstead to decide my vacillation. 

By dark, the Tahauku River, into which some weary 
cloud had emptied, sent a menacing current down the 
roadstead. The steamship rolled and swung wildly. 
As madder grew the fresh torrent, the anchors dragged, 
and the vessel drifted broadside toward the rocky cliff. 
Steam was down and the engines would not turn. The 
captain yelling from the bridge, the Breton sailors in 
noisy sabots, prancing alarmedly about the decks, a 
search-light playing upon the rocks, and lighting the 
groups of natives watching from the headlands, the 
shouting and swearing in French and Breton with a 
word or two for my benefit in English, all made a 
dramatic incident with a spice of danger. 

The Saint Francois swung until the rail on which I 
stood was four feet from the jagged wall. A wild 
chant rose from the Marquesans on shore in the moment 
of most peril. I made ready to leap, but soon heard the 
hum of the screw as it began fighting the current. We 
gained little by little, and, once clear of the rocks, 
pointed the prow for the Bordelaise Channel and com- 
parative safety. The cargo boats had not been hoisted 
aboard, and they banged to pieces as, urged by the 
rushing river, we drove through the door of the bay 
and out to sea. 

I lay down on a bench, and when I awoke at dawn we 
were heading back for Tahauku to finish loading. Ex- 



466 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

ploding Eggs was beside me. I had not known he 
was aboard. The adventures of the night, the fires, the 
engines, the electric lights, and the danger had delighted 
him. 

"Sacrel" muttered the red-faced captain at break- 
fast. "These Marquesas are as bad as the Paumotus." 

No lighthouses, charts inaccurate, shore-guides lack- 
ing, treacherous tides, winds, currents, reefs, and pas- 
sages. Lying Bill said it took "bloody near a gen'us to 
escape with his hfe after thirty years of navigation in 
these waters." 

The Polynesians believed that souls animate flowers 
and plants, that these are organized beings. For pigs, 
they had a special heaven, Ofetuna. Each pig had a 
distinct and arbitrary name, which was never changed, 
though men changed their names often. 

On the deck of the Saint Francois were half a dozen 
slender pigs that had once played about my paepae and 
were now engaged in resisting the monopolistic ten- 
dencies of Alphonse, a ram bought from the trader. 
By uniting, they made his habitat painful, and his out- 
cries brought the steward, who attempted to correct the 
ram, but was butted into profanity and flight. 

*' You 're no lam' o' goodness ! You '11 be chops 
mighty soon!" the negro shouted, and threw a pan at 
him. The ram bolted, knocked open a swinging port, 
and, followed by the pork, dived into the bay. He may 
have sensed the threat of the steward. 

'"^A la chasse! A la chasse!" ordered the captain from 
the bridge. '\Tonnerre de Dieu! Our meat is going 
ashore." 

If a boat coming to the Saint Francois had not inter- 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 467 

cepted the bold deserters, they would have succeeded 
in their break for liberty, and probably have taken to 
the wilds. The recovering them was no easy task, but, 
diverted from the rocks, they were run down, after half 
an hour of fierce commands through a megaphone 
from the captain. They were fast swimmers, being 
encumbered by no fat. Their adventure dispelled for 
me the myth that pigs cannot swim. The story ran 
that in swimming pigs cut their throats with their hoofs. 

I had recognized in the English-African accent of 
the steward the lingo of the West-India negro, and 
oddly, I remembered having seen the man himself at 
Kowloon, in China, where he had been bartender at the 
Kowloon Hotel. With no word of French, and ten days 
aboard from Tahiti, the black man was bursting with 
conversation. Serving me with a bottle of Bordeaux 
beer, he spoke of his hardships, and of familiar figures 
of his happier days at Kowloon : 

"Yes, sir, men can stand more than animiles," he said. 
"They can, sir, work or play. You remember that gor- 
iller that Osborne had in the Kowloon Hotel grounds? 
He perished, sir, from his drinking habits. He took 
his reg'lar with the soldiers and tourists, and his 
favoryte tonoc was gin and whiskey mixed, but after 
he was started, he would 'bibe near anything 'toxicat- 
ing. You remember how big he was? Big as Sikh, that 
goriller was. He was a African ape like the white per- 
fesser says he is descended from. 

"Week before Chrismus, that infantry regiment in 
barricks, in Kowloon, kept him late every night, and I 
seen him climb to his house in that tree hardly able to 
hold onto the limbs. Chrismus eve he let nothisg slip 



468 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

his paws. He began with the punch — you remember, 
sir, the punch I used to make? and he overdone it, 
though he had a stummick like a India major's. He 
drank with the officers and he drank with the Tommies. 
When I opened the bar, Chrismus morning, he was 
dead on the ground. He had n't never been able to 
reach his home. Osborne gave him a Christian berrial 
under the comquat trees, but as sure as you 're born 
every officer and soldier turned up for more drink that 
night. Men can stand more than animiles, sir." 

All morning I sat on the deck and took my fill of the 
scenes on either shore, while copra was hoisted aboard 
from canoes and boats. Exploding Eggs was ex- 
amining minutely the wonders of the steamship, re- 
porting to me occasionally some astounding discovery. 
Until then I had refused to consider taking him away 
from his people, but, in a moment of selfishness, I 
drew a plat of America, to attract his thirteen years, — 
the lofty buildings, motor-cars, telephones, ice and ice- 
cream, snow and sleighs, roller-skates and moving pic- 
tures. He had seen none of these, nor read of them, 
but, nevertheless, the fear of homesickness caused him, 
after a few minutes to say: 

"Aoe metai, Nakohu matar which meant, "No good; 
Exploding Eggs would die!" 

Characteristic of all primitive peoples was this nos- 
talgia, and, far from being sentiment easily smothered, 
it was more often than physical ailment the predispos- 
ing, or even actual, cause of death when they were sepa- 
rated from their homes. The Pitcairn youth who died 
in California and the Easter Islanders who could not 
endure even their exile in Tahiti were examples. The 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 469 

Maori Napoleon, Te Rauparaha, gazed upon his old 
home, Kawhia, and wept in farewell. His legendary 
song says : 

O my own home ! Ah me ! I bid farewell to you, 
And still, at distance, bid farewell. 

Before noon, I was overcome by a longing to see 
Atuona again. The voices of the friends who had 
chanted their grief were in my ears. I landed at Ta- 
hauku in one of the copra boats which were coming and 
going, and walked along the cliffs until I came within 
sight of the beach where, so often, I had ridden the surf. 
I went at a fast pace down the hill, hoping for a familiar 
face. At a point overlooking the cove, that very spot 
Stevenson thought the most beautiful on earth, I heard 
shouts and merry laughter. 

I moved to where I could survey the spot. There 
was a group of natives, half the village, at least, and in 
the center of the chattering crowd was Brunneck, naked 
to the waist, boxing with Jimmy Kekela, the Hawaiian. 
The yellow hair of the American gleamed against his 
sun-burnt skin, as he toyed with the amateur. Ghost 
girl, an absorbed spectator, held the wreath of the 
American. Mouth of God, Haabuani, and Great Fern 
were dancing about the circle in glee. Exploding 
Eggs, who had accompanied me, left me without a 
word, and ran to the ring. I stood fifty feet away, un- 
noticed. A new god had been thrown up by the sea. I 
returned to the Saint Francois more content to leave. 

When I awoke from a siesta, in the late afternoon, I 
found preparations for immediate departure. The an- 
chors were being hauled short, the hatches battened 



470 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

down, and the cargo booms uphoisted. We waited only 
the final accounts from Lutz. He brought them him- 
self in the last boat, in which were also Mademoiselle 
Narbonne and two nuns. She was again in black, and 
greeted me in a distraught manner with ^'Kaohar the 
native salutation, as if in her hour of departure from her 
own island she clung to its language. She went below 
to the cabins with the sisters, and only after the screw 
had revolved and we turned head for the sea did the 
three come on deck. 

Tears suffused her eyes as^ we passed the opening of 
Atuona Bay. When Exploding Eggs and others, 
including Song of the Nightingale, shouted "Kaoha* 
to us from their canoes, she put her head upon the breast 
of Sister Serapoline and wept passionately. The night 
drew on as, after many bursts of her sad emotion, she 
leaned exhausted on the bosom so long her shelter. In 
the flooding moonlight, she slept, while the nun placidly 
counted her rosary. 

The Saint Francois, steering in a smooth sea for 
Taiohae, on the island of Nuku-hiva, the captain, Lutz, 
and I gathered about the table for supper and wine. 
The vessel had narrowly escaped shipwreck in the 
Paumotus, and had lain for six days on a reef while the 
barrels of cement, intended for some improvement at 
Atuona, were thrown overboard to lighten her. 

Lutz did not seek any moment of intimacy with me, 
and said nothing to explain Mademoiselle Narbonne's 
presence aboard. Conforming to strict native etiquette, 
he paid no attention to her, and a stranger would have 
thought he hardly knew her. Lutz said that he had 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 471 

business affairs in Tahiti and had jumped at the chance 
of a quick passage in the steamship. 

At dawn, we were off the island of Nuku-hiva; high 
up on a green mountain-side, we saw a silver thread 
which we knew to be the waterfall of Typee Valley, the 
valley in which Hermann Melville had Hved in captiv- 
ity and happiness. We rounded Cape Martens, and, 
as the sun lit the rocky forelands guarding the bay of 
Taiohae, the morning breeze brought from Typee the 
delicious odor of the wild flowers, the hinano, the tiare, 
and the frangipani. This beach of Taiohae, months be- 
fore, I had visited in a whale-boat from Atuona. I 
hoped to see again my friend, the good priest, Pere 
Simeon Delmas, who 'had held the citadel of God here 
for half a century. 

. In the first boat ashore went the captain and Lutz, 
and, when after breakfast I asked the mate to be put on 
land. Mademoiselle Narbonne, seeing me descending 
the ladder, joined me. 

"Where do you go?" she asked, when we set foot on 
the sand. 

"I have a message for Prince Stanislao from Le 
Brunnec," I answered. 

"I must be back before the nuns miss me, but I will 
go with you," she said. 

Leaving the settlement, we were soon on a trail with 
which I was familiar and reached a little wood. She 
took me by the sleeve. 

"Attendez," she half whispered. "I am going to be 
married to Monsieur Lutz in Papeete. He is a for- 
eigner, and the priest could not marry us. At Papeete 



472 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

the judge can do it. The nuns are going with me to 
make sure. They oppose, but I am determined. It is 
my one chance. Tell me, American, do I make a mis- 
take?" 

"Do you love him?" 

"Love him?" she said hesitatingly. "I do not know 
what love is. The nuns have not taught me. Always 
it has been Joan of Arc, or the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 
I want love and freedom, but I am afraid of stay- 
ing there at Taaoa alone with those two old women. 
They are true Canaques, and would make me like them, 
and I am afraid of the convent. Mon dieu! I am puz- 
zled by life!" 

"Come!" I said, "you will have an hour of light- 
heartedness with Stanislao. I am puzzled, too." 

Hardly more than a youth, Stanislao was the last of 
the blood royal of the family that had ruled the Mar- 
quesas. Temoana had been the only king. The Mar- 
quesans were communists, with chiefs, and had not the 
corroding egocentrism of nationality until the French 
crowned Temoana. He had been one of the few travel- 
ers from here. Kidnapped, a dime-museum man in 
foreign seaports, he returned on a whaler to find favor 
with the bishop and to be set on a Catholic throne. 
Prince Stanislao was not even chief of Taiohae, for a 
half-Hawaiian, of the Kekela tribe, had that office, and 
did the French policeman's chores. 

We entered the house of Stanislao and met, besides 
him, Antoinette, an odalisque, most beautiful of danc- 
ers, who, like Ghost Girl, flitted from island to island by 
the grace of her charms. I had known her in the Co- 
coanut House in Papeete and her sister, Caroline. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 473 

Neither she nor Stanislao accepted the gospel of Chris- 
tianity. Her warm blood had in it an admixture of 
French and Italian, giving an archness and spice to her 
manner and a coquetry to her eyes — black and dancing 
— that maddened many. In the days about the four- 
teenth of July, when the French at Tahiti celebrated 
the Fall of the Bastille, she was a prize exhibit, for then 
governors and bankers, deacons and acolytes, lost the 
grace of God. 

These three, Barbe, Antoinette, and Stanislao, were 
extraordinary in their unity with the teeming vivid life 
here, the ferns and orchids and flowers on the sward, 
the palms and breadfruit in the grove. By the alchemy 
of the brilhant morning and the company of this pair 
of youthful lovers, Barbe's mood was suddenly trans- 
muted into joyousness. I took an accordion off a shelf, 
and played the upaupdhura of Tahiti. Without a mo- 
ment's hesitation, and with no sense of consciousness, 
the three danced on the grass. 

Carlyle praises that countryman who, matching the 
boast of a doctor that "his system was in high order," 
answered that, for his part, "he had no system." 

Few mortals, it is to be feared, are permanently blessed with 
that felicity of "having no system" ; nevertheless, most of us, 
looking backward on young years, may remember seasons of 
a light aerial translucency and elasticity and perfect freedom ; 
the body had not yet become the prison-house of the soul, but 
was its vehicle and implement, like a creature of the thought, 
and altogether pliant to its bidding. We knew not that we had 
limbs, we only lifted, hurled and leapt; through eye and ear 
and all avenues of sense came clear, unimpeded tidings from 
without, and from within issued clear victorious forces. We 



474 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

stood as in the center of Nature, giving and receiving in har- 
mony with it all; unlike Virgil's husbandman, "too happy 
because we did not know our blessedness." 

Stanislao seized the instrument and I danced. We 
four were the spirits of a rare and vital esthetic, a har- 
mony with being that denied all knowledge but that 
of our acute and delicately-poised senses of warmth, 
delicious odors, fresh colors of the plants, and mutual 
attraction. The ship, Lutz, the nuns, heaven and hell, 
the Taua and the Tapus were forgotten by me and by 
Barbe in the glowing hour of dance and play. 

Tired we threw ourselves on the grass and drank 
from the cocoanuts which Stanislao climbed a tree to 
bring us. The prince told us, with solemnity in which 
Marquesans speak of olden things, an incident related 
to him by his uncle : 

"A French governor here forbade the girls to go to 
the war-ships in the bay. They ruined discipline, he 
said. Nevertheless, three daughters of a powerful chief 
swam out to a war vessel. The commander, discover- 
ing them in the morning, sent them ashore to the gov- 
ernor, who put them in prison for three days. 

"Their father's rage was terrible. It had ever been 
the custom for the young women to visit the ships, he 
said, and that his daughters should be the victims of a 
governor's whim, abetted by French sailors themselves, 
was a deadly insult. 

"He sent a message to the governor: 'I am a chief 
who has eaten my enemies all my life. I will wash the 
hands of my daughters in French blood.' 

"The sailors were forbidden by their officers to leave 
the beach. They had been going up the river to bathe 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 475 

in shady spots, but they were warned of danger and a 
line was drawn beyond which they were not to go. A 
guard was stationed a httle higher up the stream, and 
for weeks the barrier was not crossed. But sailors know 
no authority when woman beckons," — it has been so 
since Jason sought the Golden Fleece, — "and, when, 
through the glade, they saw the alluring forms of the 
three sisters, the governor's orders were damned as 
tyranny. They outwitted the guard and climbed the 
trail to the paepae of their inamoratas. The chief and 
his warriors trapped six of them after a struggle. One 
sailor, a man famed for strength, killed several with his 
hands. They were outnumbered and were brought, 
some wounded and some dead, to an altar up the valley, 
and there the daughters, at the command of their father, 
bathed their hands in the men's blood, as he had sworn. 
Parts of the bodies were eaten and the remains fed to 
the pigs. 

"The governor had troops brought ashore to pursue 
the chief. For a year he evaded them, but then Vae- 
kehu, the widow of Temoana, sent him word to come to 
Taiohae and be shot. He obeyed, of course, and met 
death near the hill of the fort. 

"That was the palace of Queen Vaekehu," said the 
prince, pointing up the hill. It was by a pool, under 
a gigantic banyan, a lonely site, a paHsade of cocoanuts 
and tamarinds not availing to soften the gloomy im- 
pression. Long before she died the queen forsook her 
royal residence for the shelter of the convent, where all 
day she told her beads, or sat in silent contemplation. 

Bishop Dordillon who had written my dictionary, had 
given the queen a Trinity, a Mother of God, and a band 



476 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

of saints to dwell upon, and more, a bottomless pit of 
fire, with writhing sufferers and devils from it ever at 
her ear to whisper distraction and temptation. 

Mademoiselle Narbonne, hearing a warning whistle 
of the Saint Francois, bethought her of her strange posi- 
tion, of the sisters and of Lutz. She trembled, turned 
pale, and begged to be excused as she started running 
to the beach to catch a boat about to shove off. I also 
bade good-by to the two, with a sigh for their fleeting 
felicity, and strolled to the Catholic mission. 

Pere Simeon was seated aX a table under an umbra- 
geous hao tree, writing. He was in a frayed and soiled 
cassock of black. His hair was white, and his beard 
grizzled, both long and uncut and flowing over his re- 
ligious gown. His face was broad and rubicund, and 
his remarkable eyes — a deep, shining brown, eyes of 
childish faith — proclaimed him poet and artist. Aged, 
he had yet the strength and heartiness of middle age, 
and when I greeted him he rose and kissed me with 
warmth. 

*'Ah," he exclaimed, "Monsieur O'Brien, you have 
returned to hear more of Jeanne d'Arc, is not that so? 
You have been too long in Atuona. You should stay 
in Taiohae, and see what we have here. We go along 
well. Joan of Arc looks after us." 

We entered the sitting-room of the mission, and were 
soon with a bottle of wine, and cigarettes, in a discussion 
of affairs. 

I asked to see any recent poems he had written, and, 
blushingly, he handed me the paper over which he had 
been bending. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 477 

''There has been an excess of drinking recently," he 
said ruefully, as he took a sip of his mild claret. I read 
his stanzas aloud: 

''Comment peut-on pour un moment d'ivresse, 
Par le demon se laisser entrainer? 
Que de regrets suivraient cette faiblesse! 
Je n'ai qu'une ame et je Veux la sauver. 

**0h ! que je crains la perte de mon ame! 
Pour la sauver je saurai tout braver, 
J'ai mon refrain pour quiconque me blame, 
Je n'ai qu'une ame et je veux la sauver." 

Now I have no skill in rime, but, inspired by his 
ready gift, I took his paper and wrote what might be 
called a free translation. I read it to him as follows: 

Oh, how can a man for a moment's- bibacity 
Let the demon take hold of his soul? 
Remorse is the fruit of such wicked vivacity ; 
Hell follows the flowing bowl. 

"Oh, how I fear that I weakly may lose it, 

And, to guard it, will everything brave ! 

I '11 tell the world that would tempt me to bruise it ; 

I have but one soul to save. 

''HelasT commented the priest, "I cannot under- 
stand one word of it. Doubtless it surpasses my poor 
lines in excellence. "I will multiply copies of this 
poem on my hectograph," said Pere Simeon, "and I 
will distribute them where they will do most good." 

"Captain Capriata will receive one?" I ventured, re- 
calling that in the procession in honor of Joan of Arc's 



478 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

anniversary the old Corsican skipper had fallen with the 
banner of the Maid of Orleans. 

Pere Simeon's face glowed with zeal. 

"I will name no names," he said, "but Capriata is a 
good man and comes often to church now." 

For months, I had desired to ask a question of P^re 
Simeon, since Lutz had told me that Robert Louis 
Stevenson had written about him. The trader had 
shown me his copy of "In the South Seas," and had 
pointed out the error of the printer, who had made 
Stevenson's "Father Simeon Delmas" "Father Simeon 
Delwar." 

"Pere Simeon," I said, "a writer about the islands 
mentions you in his book. He was here a long time 
ago in a Httle yacht, the Casco, and he says that he 
went with you from Hatiheu, to a native High Place, 
and that you named the trees and plants for him. You 
had a portfolio, he said, from which you read." 

The missionary stopped a moment, and plucked his 
beard, inquiringly. 

"There have been many come here, in fifty years," 
he said slowly, "yachtsmen and students. I do not re- 
call the name Stevenson." 

Something pricked his recollection, and he took me 
into the rectory and produced his portfolio. 

"Here is the list; I must have read that author," he 
said. 

"You gave an abstract of the virtues of the trees and 
plants, Stevenson says in his volume." 

''Le voildr replied the priest. "Stevenson? Do 
you mean perhaps Louis, who was a consumptive?" 

He made a rapid movement of the hand to his face, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 479 

and drew upon the air a mustache and imperial, a slen- 
der figure with a slight stoop — in a word, the very- 
shadow of the master of romance. 

"He was much with Stanislao, the king's son. He 
was tres distingue. He was here but a little time. 
However, I remember him well, because he was very 
sympathique, and a gentleman. 

*'I will tell you why he impressed me particularly. 
He was not French, but he spoke it as I do, and he was 
curious about the cannibalism which was then practi- 
cally eradicated. There was another priest with me 
who was then very ill. He died in my arms. I re- 
member the evening he told Stevenson of how he had 
saved the life of a foolish French governor. There had 
been rumors of a cannibal feast at Hatiheu, and the 
governor was incensed. He feared that the in- 
cident might be reported to Paris and injure his 
prestige. He blamed the chief, and sent him word 
that if it were proved he would personally blow out 
his brains. 

*'Soon word came that the Hatiheu people — I was 
pastor there for a quarter of a century — had killed sev- 
eral of their enemies, and were eating them and drink- 
ing namu enata. The governor started off in haste 
from Taiohae, for Hatiheu and the priest went with 
him, as also several gendarmes. 

"Hundreds of natives were grouped in the public 
place, chanting, dancing, and drinking. 

'Where is the chief?' demanded the governor. 
'I am here,' said a voice, stern and menacing, and 
the chief broke from the throng and advanced toward 
the governor. 






480 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"The latter drew his revolver. 'You have permitted 
this breaking of the law, after I sent you word that 
I would kill you if you ate human flesh?' 

"'Ef rephed the chief in a high voice. *I am the 
master in Hatiheu. Do you wish to be eaten?' 

"The war-drums sounded and the grim warriors be- 
gan to surround the party. My friend, who was, for 
safety, an adopted son of the chief, and thus taboo, 
seized the governor and led him to the boat. They got 
away by sheer courage on the priest's part. He de- 
scribed this to Louis, who wrote it down. I recall it 
clearly, because the poor martyr died the next week. 
Did Louis write of the Marquesas much?" 

I said that he had. I should have liked to stay and 
gain from Pere Simeon all I could of his memories of 
the poet, but a boy came running up the road to say 
that the Saint Franfois was to leave very soon. 

I embraced Pere Simeon. He kissed me on both 
cheeks, and gave me his blessing. It had been worth 
a voyage to know him. 

Jerome Capriata, the eater of cats, was outside his 
house. He invited me in to meet his wife, a barefooted 
Frenchwoman who sat in a scantily-furnished room, 
musing over a bottle of absinthe. I could stay only a 
minute, as the Saint Francois whistled insistently. His 
wife set out the bottle and glasses before us, and we 
drank the farewell goutte. 

On the way to the beach I met Mrs. Fisher, whom 
Bishop Dordillon, my dictionary writer, had as adopted 
mother, when he was old enough to be her grandfather. 
That was because Queen Vaekehu had adopted him as 



|l*Sf 








a. 

3 
I 

en 
■§ 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 481 

a grandson, and Mrs. Fisher as a daughter, and the 
bishop had observed the pseudo-relationship strictly. 

"Mrs. Stevenson gave me a shawl," said Mrs. Fisher. 
"I have shown that to many people. Madame Jack 
London wore it when she was here with her husband 
on the Snark. They lived with Lutz, the German, who 
was then here. PaiQore Stevenson! He had to die 
young, and here I am, after all these years!" 

I waded through the surf to the boat, and reached 
the Saint Francois to find all the others aboard. We 
shipped the buoy and were away in a trice. The last 
sight I had of the shore was of the promontory where 
Captain Porter raised the American flag a hundred 
years before. I was never to see the Marquesas Is- 
lands again. The fresh breath of nature was too foul 
with the worst of civilization. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

McHenry gets a caning — The fear of the dead — A visit to the grave of 

Mapuhi — En voyage. 

IMAGINE my delight when the captain of the 
Saint Francois set our course for Takaroa, the 
atoll of Mapuhi, Nohea, and the crippled diver 
who had possessed the great pearl of Puka-puka ! The 
Marquesas Islands are only eight hundred miles from 
the Society Islands, of which Tahiti is one, and between 
the Marquesas and the Society Islands lie the strewn 
eighty atolls of the lies Dangereuses or Paumotu 
group. With steam we ran the half -thousand miles or 
so from Taiohae in two nights and two days, and at 
daybreak of the second day were due to see the famil- 
iar, lonely figure of the wrecked County of Roxburgh 
on an uninhabited motu of Takaroa. It was this star- 
tling sight that informed the Londons in the Snarh that 
they were out of their course and in danger, and it was 
Takaroa the Stevensons in the Casco looked for, only 
to fetch up at Tikei, thirty miles to windward. I had 
no confidence in our Breton captain, to whom these 
waters were as unknown as the Indies to Columbus. 
I breathed a sigh of relief when the lofty iron masts of 
the dismantled vessel loomed on the horizon. 

After so many months in the frowning islands of 
the war fleet, with their thunderous headlands, gleaming 
streams, and green and black valleys, the spectacle of 

482 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 483 

the slender ring of white sand and coral, the verdant 
banners of this first of the Low Islands lying flat upon 
the jeweled waters, aroused in me again sensations of 
wonder at the ineffable variety of creation ; the myriad- 
mindedness of the Creator. The crash of the surf upon 
the outer reef, the waving of the breeze-stirred cocoa- 
nuts, the flight of a solitary bird, contrasted with the 
marvelous fabrication of man, the metal ship, thrown by 
a toss of the sea and a pufl* of the wind among these 
evidences of a beautiful yet deadly design. 

The Saint Francois crept along the coast of the atoll 
and anchored opposite the pass, a good mile from the 
breakers. Everybody was on deck, the black-gowned 
nuns with Mademoiselle Narbonne — she also in a tunic 
of religious hue. Since we had left Nuku-hiva they had 
not appeared. The contrary currents and confused 
trade-winds among these Pernicious Islands had kept 
them in their cabin. The six -hundred-ton hull of the 
Saint had see-sawed through the two hundred leagues 
of the tropic of Capricorn, and only hardened trencher- 
men like the ship's officers and myself could find ap- 
petite for food. Lutz, too, had raised a mournful face 
to the deck but seldom. A few hundred sacks of copra 
awaited us at Takaroa, and we put off a life-boat to 
bring it aboard. Lutz and I accompanied the second 
officer with a command from the captain to stay no 
longer than the cargo's loading. Lying Bill's schooner, 
the Morning Star, was in the lagoon, and, seeing it 
there, I wondered if Mapuhi, the great sailor of these 
atolls, had steered it through the narrow pass. About 
the landing, despite the uniqueness of the steamship's 
arrival, was an unusual quietude, a hush that moved me 



484 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

to fear, as a presage of evil. A cholera-stricken village 
in the Philippines had that same dismal aura. A few 
natives were upon the coral mole, and the Mutoi came 
forward to examine our papers. 

*'Let us go to the house of Mapuhi," I said to 
Lutz. 

''J a woJil/" he replied; "I have not met him in many 
years." 

We left the mate and walked along the path past 
the traders' stores. The thousand feet that trod the 
coral road and had gone in and out the dozen shops of 
the dealers and pearl-buyers during my stay on Takaroa 
were missing, but more than the stir and hum of the 
rahid was absent. A depressing torpor possessed the 
little village. Mapuhi's store was closed tightly, and 
from no house or hut did a head show or a greeting 
come. 

We saw that the door of one shop was ajar, and, 
going in, happened on a pleasant and illuminating 
scene. Angry words in Tahitian we heard as we 
mounted the steps, and smothered exclamations of a 
profane sort in English which had a familiar note. 
Back of the counter was a very large Tahitian woman 
who, with a heavy fishing-rod of bamboo, was thrashing 
a white man. She was, between blows, telling him that 
if he got drunk or spoke rudely to her again, she would 
"treat him as a Chinaman did his horse in Tahiti,** 
which is a synonym for roughness. He was evading 
the strokes of the bamboo by wriggling, and guarding 
with his arms, and was cursing in return, but was plainly 
afraid of her. He was McHenry, my ofttime com- 
panion of revels at the Cercle Bougainville in Papeete, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 485 

who had come on the Flying Fish with me from Tahiti, 
and had remained in Takaroa. 

Many times he had boasted of his contempt for native 
women. 

"I 've had my old lady nineteen years," he said once, 
"and she would n't speak to me if she met me on the 
streets of this town. She would n't dare to in public 
until I recognized her." 

Lutz and I did not utter a sound, but quickly de- 
scended the steps. 

"I never before saw a native wife beating her hus- 
band," he commented caustically. "That McHenry de- 
serves it. Lying Bill often said McHenry's vahine 
took a stick to him. Tahitian women will not be 
whipped themselves." 

Lutz should know. He had had fourteen years with 
a Tahitian mistress, a wife in her own eyes as much as 
if wedded in a cathedral. Would he not have to face 
her in Papeete when he should be married to Made- 
moiselle Narbonne? Perhaps she had a stronger 
weapon than a rod! The tauas sorcery might stretch 
over the ocean, and be potent in Tahiti. 

Lutz and I were almost at Mapuhi's residence when 
we met Nohea, my host of the fishing and diving. No- 
hea was in a black cloth coat and a blue pareu, and his 
countenance was distressed. 

''la ora na, Nohea I" I called to him. "Is Mapuhi a 
Mapuhi at home?" 

"Mapuhi?" he repeated and shuddered. "Mapuhi 
mater 

Mapuhi dead I It did not seem possible ; the giant I 
had known so recently! 



486 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

Nohea began to weep and left us. Outside the in- 
closure of Mapuhi's house were a dozen men, and 
among them Hiram Mervin, the Paumotu- American 
who had described to me the cyclone of Hikueru. We 
shook hands, and I asked of what Mapuhi had died. 
Surely not of disease. The reef must have beaten him 
at last. I could not think of that super-man yielding to 
a clot or a kidney. He, who had made the wind and 
currents his sport, who in the dark of night had sailed 
through foaming passes the white mariner shunned in 
broad daylight, who had given largesse to his people for 
decades, and who had made the shells and nuts of his 
isles pay him princely toll, despite the cunning of the 
white, the papaa, who came to take much and give little. 

"He was eighty," said Hiram Mervin. "He took 
sick on Reitoru, that tiny island near here. He was 
brought here. Some one wanted to give him medicine. 

" 'No,' he said, 'my time has come. I will not live 
by things. I die content. I have been a good Mor- 
mon since I accepted the Word. What I did before was 
in darkness, when I was a gentile.' 

"He passed away peacefully. We lost a bulwark 
of the church, but he will reign with Christ." 

Lutz and I did not wish to intrude upon the kin of 
Mapuhi, nor to remain longer within the sound of the 
wailing that now issued from the house at the news that 
I, the American, had come back on the steamship. This 
extemporized burst of lamentation was a special honor 
to me and to the decedent, an expression of a tie be- 
tween us, and, though it swelled suddenly at my arrival, 
was not the crying of hired mourners but the lacryma- 
tion of sincere grief. In wakes among the Irish I had 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 487 

found exactly the same spirit — an increase or instant re- 
newal of the keening or shrieking when one who had 
been dear to the dead person appeared. 

We two walked away, and encountered McHenry, 
who had learned of our presence. McHenry was 
shaken by the castigation given him by his wife, and 
assumed an air of brazen indecency and bluster to hide 
his condition. 

"One bottle of booze and I '11 make 'em all quit their 
catabawlin' an' dance a hula," he said. "Much they 
care for except the bloomin' francs the ol' boy left 
'em!" 

McHenry exposed his own vulturous desires, and not 
the feelings of the tribe of Mapuhi. To them the pass- 
ing of Mapuhi was as to the Jews that of their leader 
by Nebo's lonely mountain. The great man had ex- 
pired the night before, and preparations were being 
made to bury him. In this climate the body hastens 
to rejoin the elements. The chief was not to lie in 
the common charnel in a grove on another 7notu of Taka- 
roa. As suitable to his rank and wealth and his gen- 
erosity to the Mormon church, he had retained for him- 
self a piece of ground beside the temple. A coral wall 
inclosed the small necropolis. Within a hundred feet of 
the sea, in the brilliant coral sand, rugged and bare, 
it was fit anchoring ground for this ship among canoes. 
One tombstone leaned against the wall, a plain slab of 
marble, inscribed: 

Punau Mapuhi tei poke ite 30 Me 1899 

Punau was the wife he had clung to under Mormon- 
ism, and who had borne him the son and daughter 



488 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

I knew. Many years he had survived her, and had 
not married another. The rehgion of polygamy had 
made of the old barbarian an ascetic, who had been a 
Grand Turk under Protestantism and Catholicism, be- 
tween which he had wavered according to the novelty 
offered. 

The body of Mapuhi was laid out in the principal 
room of his house, the room in which I had met him 
and the American elders on my first landing. Nohea 
and others had worked through the night to build a 
coffin. They had used the strong planks the dead man 
had gathered from the deck or cabin of the County of 
Roxburgh, and had polished them with cocoanut-oil, so 
that they shone. The coffin was lined with the sleep- 
ing-mat of Mapuhi, and in it he reposed, dressed in his 
churchly clothes, a black frock coat, white trousers, and 
a stiff white shirt. No collar cumbered his neck, nor 
were shoes upon the ample feet that had walked on the 
floor of the sea. Most of the people of Takaroa took 
a last look at him, but some did not, for fear. I gazed 
a few minutes at his face. More than in life, the hke- 
ness to a mutilated Greek statue struck me; perhaps 
the head of a Goth seen in the Vatican Gallery. 
Strength, repose, and mystery were in the powerful 
mold of it, the broad, low forehead, the rounded chin, 
and wide-open eyes. I had seen many so-called impor- 
tant men in death, when as a reporter I wrote obsequies 
at a penny a line. This Paumotuan chief's corpse had 
more majesty and peace than any of them — a nearer 
relation to my conception of an old and wise child of 
the eternal unity, glad to be freed from the illusion 
of life. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 489 

In the village, the huts were still closed. No fisher- 
man put off in a canoe, and none sat making or mending 
nets. McHenry and I paddled out to the Morning 
Star, The skipper was on deck with Ducat, the mate. 
Some native had hurried to them with the amusing gos- 
sip of McHenry's vahine beating him, and he had to 
bear a storm of ridicule. Lying Bill rehearsed his 
boasts about her inferiority, and Ducat, who had hu- 
miliated him before me long ago, taunted him with his 
submission to her. 

"I did n't want to kill her," was all McHenry could 
retort. McHenry had a story of Chocolat which was dis- 
tracting. Captain Moet of the Flying Fish had come 
into Takaroa a -month or two before with Chocolat, a 
fair-sized dog. The tricks Chocolat did when I was on 
Moet's schooner were incomparable with his later edu- 
cation. 

"The bloomin' pup would stand on his hind legs 
and dance to a tune Moet whistled," said McHenry. 
*'He could count up to five with cards, and could pick 
all the aces out of a piquet pack. He would let Moet 
throw him overboard in port, and catch a rope's end 
with his teeth and hold on while he was pulled up. He 
was a reg'lar circus performer. You know Moet and 
I ain't very close. He done me a dirty turn once. I 
knew if I could ever get Chocolat to Papeete, an* on 
the steamer from San Francisco, I could sell him to a 
bloody American tourist for a thousand francs. Moet 
watched me like a gull does the cook when he empties 
his pail overside. Now, you know me; I ain't nobody 
to say to you can't do this or that. I laid for that pup, 
and, when I went aboard the schooner just before she 



490 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

sailed, I took a little opium I got from the Chink pearl- 
buyer here; and I put a pill of it in a piece of fresh 
pork, and took it aboard in my pocket. Just before 
I was goin' into my boat, after a drink or two with 
Jean, I 'd been watchin' Chocolat stretched out nappin' 
on the deck. I put the meat alongside of his mouth, 
and he ate it like a shark does a chunk o' salt horse. 
Soon I saw he was knocked out, an' I asked Moet to go 
down into the trade-room an' get me a piece o' tobacco. 
He 'd no sooner ducked than I grabbed the bloody pup 
by the scruff an' stuffed him into my trousers' front. 
He was like dead. I was in the boat in a second with 
no one seein' him, and reached up to get the tobacco 
from Moet's hand. 

"Of course the purp never let out a bloomin' whimper, 
an' I got away and to shore with no proof that I had 
snared the bow-wow. Moet had trained Chocolat to let 
out a hell of a yell if any one as much as took him to- 
ward the rail, and so he would have to think that the cur 
had fallen overboard on his own hook. I took him to 
my store unbeknown to any one, and tied him to a chair. 
He never come to for three hours, an' was sluggery for 
a day or two. I was waitin' for Moet to sail, but the 
next day he comes ashore an' makes a bee-line for my 
joint. I saw his boat puttin' off, an' I give Chocolat 
to my Penrhyn boy who tied him in a canoe, an' hiked 
out in the lagoon with him. Moet looks me up an' 
down, curses his sacres an' his Spanish diablos an' Sus 
Marias, an' crawled through my place from top to bot- 
tom, shoutin', 'Chocolat! Chocolat! Pettee sheen!' an' 
half cryin'. He had to trip his anchor the next day, 
and I had the sheen all right. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 491 

"I was goin* to smuggle him on board Lyin' Bill's 
cockroach tub an' to Papeete, when one day I come 
back from Mapuhi's and found him gone, an' his string 
chewed through. He had skinned out, an', though I 
asked everybody on this island about him, everybody 
knew nothin'. After three days I give the beast up. I 
know the Kanaka, an' I knew that no fat little dogs 
are let run loose very long. About two weeks later, 
I went to another motu to buy some copra, an' the first 
native I run into was wearin' Chocolat's collar on his 
arm. He was a Mormon churchman, too, but he swore 
he found the collar in a canoe." 

Poor little brown Chocolat ! He had entertained me 
often on the Flying Fish with his antics, and Jean 
Moet had such dreams of his future! A kindly fate 
may have bestowed on him the favor of a quick death 
by hotpotting rather than the ignominy of circus one- 
night stands or the pampered kennel of a millionaire. 
He had had his year at sea, and died in the full flush 
of doghood. 

The news that Lutz was a passenger on the Saint 
Franfois with Mademoiselle Narbonne brought a pro- 
longed whistle from Ducat, and an exclamation from 
Lying Bill: 

"Well, 'e '11 bloody well get 'is! Mana won't take a 
club to 'im because the 'usban' does the beatin' when 
'e 's a Dutchman, but she 's not lettin' 'im walk over 'er 
so easy. I 'ad a long palaver with 'er on the voyage 
up. She says everybody in Taaoa knows Barbe is a 
leper, an' she 's preparin' to 'ave the bleedin' Frog doc- 
tors cage 'er up out there by Papenoo, if she goes to 
Tahiti." 



492 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

"I never heard before that she had leprosy," said 
Ducat. "I think that Mana is spreading that report 
to scare Lutz." 

"I feel sure that it has not reached him," I said. 
"Nobody in Atuopa would mention it to him." 

Abruptly there occurred to me the cryptic assertion 
of Peyral at my first sight of Barbe in the mission 
church. 

"I would n't be her with all her money," he had said. 
"Me, I value my skin." 

That was weeks or months before Lemoal had come 
to me, or I had known of the taua, or of Lutz's court- 
ship. If there had been a plot against her happiness, it 
must have been laid early, or what did Peyral mean? 

McHenry broke in on my train of reasoning. 

"I '11 see that the German sausage learns about it 
damn soon," he said spitefully. "He 's doin' too good 
a business in both copra an' women." 

The whistle of the Saint Francois blew the recall 
of boats and crew. 

"Why don't you stay, an' go to Papeet' with me," 
asked Captain Pincher. "We '11 'ead out in a day or 
two when the wind is right. You 're in no 'urry. You 
want to see 'em lay ol' Mapuhi in the grave." 

I agreed, and paddled to shore with McHenry. Na- 
tives were taking the last load of copra out to the steam- 
ship, and I rode on the bags with McHenry. On the 
deck of the Saint Francois I passed Barbe and the 
nuns on my way below to get my trifling belongings. 
McHenry stayed above, and, when I had bidden good- 
by to the captain and the first officer, I sought the three 
women, with my canvas bag in hand. The sisters were 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 493 

my friends, and I shook their hands. I was about to 
say au revoir to Barbe when she walked with me a few 
yards to the gangway. I explained my intention not 
to continue on the steamship. 

''What shall I do?" she implored, as she squeezed my 
hand nervously. "I am afraid of everything — " 

The whistle sounded again. 

Lutz, who was talking with McHenry, approached 
me, and drew from me my reason for carrying my assets 
with me. I thought he appeared relieved at my leav- 
ing, and that his hopes to see me in Papeete were 
shammed. In the boat I glanced up to see Mademoi- 
selle Narbonne leaning over the rail, her black cloud 
of hair framing her pale face with its look of sadness 
and perplexity, and her eyes still demanding of me the 
answer to her question. 

"I bloody well put a roach in Lutz's ear," said Mc- 
Henry, as we rowed back. 

That he had even mentioned Barbe's name I did not 
believe. Lutz would have taken him by the throat, and 
thrown him overboard. On the strand at the atoll 
again, I saw the smoke streaming from the steamship's 
funnel as she set out for Papeete; and I sent an un- 
spoken message of good will to the groping ill-matched 
pair whom I could not call lovers, and yet both of whom 
were searching for the satisfaction of heart and ambition 
I too sought. 

Mapuhi was interred that afternoon an hour before 
sunset. In these atolls where there is no soil, and where 
water lies close under the coral surface, even burial is 
difficult. Cyclones as in Hikueru have torn the coral 
coverings off the graves, and swept the coffins, corpses. 



494 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

and bones into the lagoon and the maws of the sharks 
and the voracious barracuda. For Mapuhi a marble 
cenotaph would be ordered in Tahiti, and cover him 
when made in a few weeks. 

Nohea and two elders dug the grave. About four 
feet deep, it was wide enough to rest the huge body in 
the glistening coffin. This was borne on the shoulders 
of six young men, nephews of Mapuhi, and in the cor- 
tege were all of the Takaroans of age. Solemnly and 
silently they marched down the road. All who owned 
black garments wore them, and others were in white 
trousers, some with and others without shirts, but all 
treading ceremoniously with bowed heads and serious 
faces. Nohea was the leader, carrying the large Book 
of Mormon from the temple, and at the grave he read 
from it verses about the resurrection, the near approach 
of the coming of Christ, and Mapuhi's being quiet in 
the grave until the trumpet rang for the assembling of 
the just, the unjust on opposite sides for judgment. 

"Mapuhi a Mapuhi will sit very close to Brigham 
Young in the judgment and afterward will be among 
the great on earth when the rejected are cast into the 
terrible pit of fire, and the elect live in plenty and happi- 
ness here." 

The heavy ivory sand rattled on the wood, and the re- 
mains of Mapuhi, last link between the healthy savag- 
ery and the present semi-civilization of the Paumotuan 
race, were 'one with the mysterious beach he had so long 
dwelt upon. He had been born before the white man 
ruled it, and his life had spanned the rise of the imperial 
industrialism which had destroyed the Polynesian. 

After the funeral I took my bag to the hut of Nohea, 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 495 

to live the few days until the Morning Star left for 
Papeete. Our frugal meal was soon eaten, and the old 
diver and I sat outside his door in the cool of the sun- 
set glow. We talked of Mapuhi. 

"We had the same father but different mothers," 
said Nohea. "Mapuhi was twenty years older than I. 
For many years he was as my father to me." 

"Where is Mapuhi now?" I asked, to discover his be- 
liefs about the soul. Nohea trembled, and looked about 
him. 

"Is he not in the hole in the coral?" he said, with 
alarm. 

"Oh, yes, Nohea," I replied, "the body of Mapuhi is 
in the coral, but where is that part that knew how to 
dive, to steer the schooner, to grow rich, and to pray? 
Where is that varua or spirit which loved you?" 

Nohea responded quickly: "That is with the gods, 
with Adam, Christ, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young. 
Mapuhi is with them making souls for the bodies of 
Mormon babies on earth. When Israel gathers by and 
by, I will see him again, for we will all live in America 
and be happy." 

"But Nohea," I protested, "you will not be happy 
away from Takaroa. Your canoe and your fishing- 
nets and spears will be left behind. 

Nohea was confused, but his faith was strong. 

"The elders have explained that in America, where 
all the saved people shall live after the judgment, we 
shall have everything we want. The fish will jump on 
the hook, the canoe will paddle itself, and the cocoanuts 
will be always ready for eating or cool for drinking." 

I tried to draw our conversation around to Mapuhi 



496 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

again, but Nohea, as the darkness grew thicker, 
busied himself in making a fire of cocoanut husks and 
leaves, and evaded any reference to the dead. 

Only after the moon began to come up, he said, "I 
must now go to ke^ watch at the grave of Mapuhi. It 
is my duty, and I must go." 

He brought from his hut a crazy-quilt, and wrapped 
it about him, and with extreme hesitancy walked away 
through the obscurity to carry out the obligation of 
friendship. 

Hardly can we guess at the horror he had to over- 
come to do this. The remnant of fear of the dead that 
our slight inheritance of ancestral delusions causes to 
linger in some of us is the merest shadow of the all-per- 
vading terror that weakens the Paumotuan at thought 
of the ghost of the defunct which stays near the corpse 
to threaten and perhaps to seize and eat the living. As- 
sociated, maybe, with the former cannibalism, when the 
living consumed thje dead, Nohea, though earnest Mor- 
mon, believed that the tupapau hovered over the grave 
or in the tree-tops, to accomplish this ghastly purpose. 
Had Punau, the widow of Mapuhi, been living, she 
would have had to spend her nights for several weeks 
by his sepulcher. Being a chief, there were many to 
perform this devoir, and before I entered the hut to 
sleep I saw several small fires burning about the spot 
where the watchers cowered and whispered through the 
night. Of the dangers of this office of friendship or 
widowhood, every atoll in the Paumotus had a hundred 
tales, and Tahiti and the Marquesas more. In Tahiti, 
the tupapau, the disembodied and malign ego of the 
dead, entered the room where the remains were laid out. 




Photo by Dr. Theodore P. Cleveland 

Paumotiians on a heap of brain coral 




Photo by Dr. Theodore P. Cleveland 

Did these two eat Chocolat? 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 497 

A frightening noise was heard in the room or in that 
part of the house, followed by sounds and movements 
of a struggle, and in the morning gouts of blood were 
on the walls. In Moorea, near Tahiti. I met an edu- 
cated Englishman, there twenty-five years, who said 
that on analysis the blood proved to be human. A 
cynic in most things, he would not deny that he believed 
the circumstance supernatural. 

The tupapau had many manifestations: knocks at 
doors and on thatched roofs, cries of sorrow and of hate. 
White it was in the night, and often hovering over the 
house or the grave. It might be that the Ghost Bird, 
the hurong-hantU; a reality which is white, and whose 
wings make little or no noise when flying, was the 
foundation of this phantom. 

In the meanwhile the schooner Morning Star had 
gone to Tikei for cargo. Lying Bill was to anchor off 
the pass of Takaroa in a few days on his voyage to 
Tahiti and to send ashore a boat for me. For nine 
nights the vigil was kept by the grave of Mapuhi. 
About four o'clock each morning the ward by the grave 
was abandoned, and Nohea threw himself wearily on 
his mat near me. Only one time, on the last evening, 
I questioned him about the tupapau, and then realized 
my discourtesy; it was for him to initiate this subject. 

"Have you heard or seen anything rima atua nia- 
natura? Anything by the hand of the spirit?" 

Nohea wrapped himself more tightly in his quilt, and 
his answer came from under it: 

"This morning I heard a scratching. This is our 
last night, thank the gods. I think it was the tupapau 
saying farewell. We never look at the grave." 



498 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

About two the next morning Nohea shook me. 

"The Fetia Taiao is off the passage," he said. 

He had heard in the still air the faint slap of her can- 
vas as she jibed, I thought, but that could not have 
been, as she was too far away. His awareness was not 
of the ear or eyes, but something different — the keen- 
ness of the conscious and unconscious, which had pre- 
served the Paumotuan race in an environment which 
had meant starvation and death to any other people. 

I had my possessions already on the schooner, and, 
forbidding Nohea to wait with me at the mole, I em- 
braced him and left him. A wish to look at the grave 
took hold of me, and I walked along the path to it. 
The sun, though below the horizon, was lessening the 
sombrous color of the small hours, and I could discern 
vaguely the outline of the walled burial-ground. The 
splash of oars in the water and the rattle of rowlocks 
warned me of the approach of the boat for me, but I still 
had five minutes. 

I sat down on the wall at the farthest end away from 
the grave. Soon I would be in my own country, among 
the commonplace scenes of cities and countryside. I 
would resume the habits and conventions of my nation, 
and enter into the struggle for survival and for repute. 
Those goals shrunk in importance on this strip of coral. 
Never would I be able to express in myself the joy and 
heat of life, and the conquest of nature at its zenith of 
mystery, as had the man whose tenement of clay was so 
near. Love had been his animating emotion. In all 
the welter of low passions, of conflicting religions, and 
commercial standards imported to his island by the 
whites, he had remained a son of the atoll, brother and 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 499 

father of his tribe, disdainful of the inventions and lux- 
uries offered him for his wealth, but shaping his course 
adroitly for his race's happiness. 

Deep in this strain of reflection, I was recalled to ac- 
tuality by a grating sound, a queer crunching and creak- 
ing. It came from about the tomb, and was like a hun- 
dred rats dragging objects on a stone floor — slithering 
discordant, offensive. If I could have fainted it would 
have been relief, for I was seized with mortal terror. 
I could not reason. The boat from the schooner was 
nearing fast, and would be at the mole in a minute or 
two. I must go, but I could not move. Then suddenly 
a bar of light flung up from the sea, the first of the 
dawn, and by its feeble glimmer I saw a swarm of crea- 
tures about the barrow. They were the robber-crabs 
who had come out from the groves, and they were pull- 
ing the pieces of coral off the burial heap, and digging 
to pierce the coffin. Scores of the grisly vampires 
were working with their huge claws at the pile, and, as 
they rushed to and fro on their tall, obscene legs, they 
were the very like of ghouls in animal form. This was 
the "scratching" Nohea had heard when with their 
back to the grave he and his fellow-watchers dared not 
turn to see them. 

I should have thrown rocks at the foul monsters, 
have scattered them with kicks and curses, but my de- 
liverance from the supernatural was so comforting I 
could only burst into nervous laughter and run down 
the road to the mole. I leaped into the boat, and gave 
the order to shove off. In half an hour I was aboard 
the Morning Star and our sails spread for Tahiti and 
California. 



500 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 



AFTERWARD 



A Letter from Exploding Eggs 

Atuona, Hiva-Oa, Aperiri, 1922. 

O Nakohu. 

O au Kaoha tuuhoa Koakoau itave tekao ipatumai 
to Brunnec; Na Brunnec paki mai iau, tuu onotia Kao- 
ha oko au iave; Atahi au ame tao ave oe itiki iau Aua 
oto maimai omua ahee taua I Menike ua ite au Ta 
Panama ohia umetao au ua hokotia au eoe Ite aoe. 

Mea meitai ote mahina ehee mai oe I Tahiti ahaka ite 
mai oe iau Eavei tau I Tahiti etahi Otaua jfiti tia mai 
mei Tahiti Ta maimai oe eavei tau I Tahiti Patu mai 
oe itatahi hamani nau naete inoa Brunnec. 

Eahaa iapati mai oe ukoana iau totaua pae ua pao 
tuu tekao iave Kaoha oe iti haa metaino iau tihe ite 
nei mouehua Upeau oe iau eiva ehua ua Vei hakaua 
taua oia tau ete taiene ohua iva ehua. 

Kaoha nui I Obriand. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 501 



Feom Exploding Eggs 

Atuona, Hiva-Oa, April, 1922. 

It is I, Nakohu, always, my dear master, I have 
been very glad to receive news of you by Le Brunnec, 
and I have seen that you have not forgotten me. 

It has given me much sorrow that I did not go with 
you. I should have seen Panama and many things, 
but I was afraid that you would grow tired of me and 
sell me to other Americans. 

If it is true that you will return here, write to me in 
advance by Le Brunnec, and I will go to get you in 
Papeete. For your stay in Atuona, fear nothing. I 
have now a nice house of my own on the edge of the 
river. There you will live and it will be my wife who 
will do the cooking and I will go to get the food for 
all of us; that will be much better than before. 

I am very happy that you have not forgotten me in 
so long. It is true that you had told me that you would 
come back before nine years. I shall wait always. 

Love to you, Obriand. 



502 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 



Letter from Malicious Gossip 

Atuona, Hiva-Oa, lunio, 1915. 
E tuu ona hoa : 

U Koana i au taoe hama ni, koakoa oko au i te ite i 
ta oe tau te kao. A oe e koe te peau o Mohotu Vehine 
hae, i te a te tekao, mimi, pake, namu, Tahiatini, aoe i 
koe tola, ate, totahi teoko, tohutohui toia hee, mehe 
ihepe Purutia i tihe mai nei io matou. Titihuti, na 
mate ite hitoto. Te moi a Kake ua mate ite hitoto, i 
tepo na mate, titahi, popoui ua mate, tatahi, popoui ua 
mate, titahi, popoui ua mate, te moupuna o Titihuti. 
U fanau au i te tama e moi o (EHzabethe Taavaupoo) 
toia inoa pahoe kanahau tautau oko, aoe e hoa e koe to 
mana metao ia oe, ua inu matou i te kava kona oko 
Bronec, kona oko Tahiapii, kona oko au, ia tihe to matou 
metao ia oe, ua too matou i te pora Kava a la sante, te 
Freterick. Ena ua tuu atu nei i te ata na oe, upeau au 
ia ia Lemoine a tuu mai te ata na Freterick. Mea nui 
tau roti i tenei u fafati au e ua, roti ua tuu i una ou, mea 
Kaoha ia oe, me ta oe vehine. Kaoha atu nei A poro 
me Puhei ia oe, Kaoha atu nei Moetai kamuta ia oe. 
Kaoha atu nei Nakohu. 

Kaoha atu nei Timoia oe, Kaoha nui Kaoha nui Ua 
pao tete kao. 

Apae, umoi e koe tooe metao ia matou. 

Nau na tooe hoa. 

Tavahi. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 503 

Atuona, Hiva-Oa, June, 1915. 
Ah my dear friend: 

I have received your letter. I was very happy to 
have news of you. 

Ghost Girl has not forgotten and still says, "Dance, 
tobacco, rum." 

Many Daughters is not over her sickness; she is 
worse; when she walks she rolls like the Prussian ship 
that came here. 

Titihuti died of dysentery. The little daughter of 
Kake died of dysentery. The one died in the evening, 
Titihuti; in the morning the little girl of Titihuti died. 
I have given birth to a little daughter; her name is 
Elizabeth Taavaupoo, a pretty little girl, healthy and 
plump. 

We have not stopped thinking of you, dear friend. 
We drank kava. Happy was Le Brunnec, happy was 
Tahiapii (sister of Tavati, the little woman in blue). 
I too was happy. Our thoughts went out to you. 

We took the bowl of kava and drank to the health of 
Frederick. Here I send you as a present my picture. 
I told Le Moine to take my photograph for you. 

I have many roses now; I took two of them which I 
put on my head as a souvenir for you and your lady. 
In this letter you have the love of Aporo and Puhei, 
of Moetai, the carpenter, and of Nakohu and of 
Timoteo. 

Great love to you; great love to you. 

I have finished speaking; farewell, and may you not 
forget us in your thoughts. 

I, your friend, 

Malicious Gossip. 



504 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 



Letter from Mouth of God 

E tuu ona hoa: 

E patu atu nei au i tenei hamani ia oe me tou Kaoha 
nui. Mea meitai matou paotu. E tiai nei au i taoe 
hamani, me te Kakano pua, me te mana roti, u haa mei 
— tai au i titahi keke fenua kei oko, mea tanu roti. Eia 
titahi mea ace au e kokoa koe nui oe i kokoa koe nui 
oe i kaoha mai ian Koakoa oko nui matou i taoe hamani 
A patu oe i titahi hamani i tooe hoa, o Vai Etienn ena 
ioto ote Ami Koakoa, Apatu oe ia Vehine hae ena i tohe 
ahi, o te haraiipe. 

E na Tahiatini i Tarani me L'Hermier, Mea meitai 
a fiti mai oe i Atuona nei Kanahau oko to matou fenua 
me he fenua Farani meitaioko tu uapu O Hinatini ena 
ioto ote papu meitai Kaoha atu nei tooe hoa Timo ia 
oe, u tuhaa ia mei a oe, e aha a, ave oe i tiihaa meia ia. 

E metao anatu ia ia oe. Kaoha atu nei Kivi ia oe, 
E hee anatu i te ika hake Ua pao te tekao ^aoha nui. 

Tavahi T, Mm. Timotheo. 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 505 



Ah my dear friend: 

I write you this letter to send you my good wishes. 
We are all well. I have awaited in vain a letter from 
you with the flower seeds you promised me. I have 
inherited a very large piece of land where I could plant 
roses. 

We have been very sorry that you have not given us 
more of your news. We have missed you much. 

If you wish to write to your friend Vai Etienne, he 
is in heaven far away. 

As for Ghost Girl, she must have fallen into hell. 

Many Daughters' soul must have rejoined I'Hermier 
in France. 

You would do well to return to Atuona. Our land 
is very beautiful — our roads like those in France. 

Vanquished Often is dead, but she must be in para- 
dise. 

Your friend, Timoteo, sends you greeting. If you 
have forgotten him, he has not forgotten you. Come 
back and we will again drink the kava together. 

Kivi tells me that he still thinks of you and that he 
still goes fishing. 

It is finished. 

Kaoha nui, Mouth of God. 



506 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 



Letter from Le Brunnec to Frederick O'Brien at 

Sausalito, California. 

(Translation.) 

Atuona, Hiva-Oa, June, 1922. 
Cher ami: 

You ask me what has become of Barbe Narbonne, 
of the valley of Taaoa. I will tell you briefly, and 
probably some of what I shall say you already know. 
She was married to Wilhelm Lutz, the Tahauku trader, 
in Tahiti, and all went well. Her mother was at the 
wedding, but not Mana, his long-time companion in 
Taiohae and Atuona. The married pair occupied the 
upper floor of the German firm's big store. There was 
much gaiety among the Germans and her Tahitian 
friends. For the first time Barbe rode in an automo- 
bile, saw a moving picture, heard a band of nmsic, and 
attended prize-fights. They were married at the first 
of July, and on the fourteenth was celebrated the Fall 
of the Bastille, with tremendous hulas, much champagne, 
and speeches by the governor, and even by the friendly 
Germans, such as Monsieur Lutz. 

Helas! The S charnhorst and Gneisenau, the kaiser's 
cruisers, came here to Atuona, robbed my store, took 
Jensen, the Dane, and steamed to Tahiti. When the 
authorities there saw them, they must fire a pop-gun at 
them, and provoke in turn a rain of six-inch shells. A 
Chinese was killed, every one ran to the woods, and 
many stores were set on fire and burned. 

When the cruisers were gone. Monsieur Lutz and all 



ATOLLS OF THE SUN 507 

the Germans were imprisoned on Motu-Uta, the beauti- 
ful little islet a thousand feet from Lovaina's Annexe 
Hotel. Madame Lutz was reproached by the church, 
the government, and by every one not in prison, for 
marrying the "animal" Lutz, and immediately they be- 
gan to give her a divorce on that very ground — that the 
husband was a German, and therefore not a human be- 
ing, but an animal. It did not take long, and again 
she was Mademoiselle Narbonne. 

Now she was free, rich, and in civilization. She 
danced and sang and was dressed in your American 
clothes, for no ships came from France. But, as in 
Atuona, rumors began that she was leprous. That did 
not matter much to the Tahitians who, if they like one, 
care nothing for what one has, but the whites ceased to 
be in her company. They did not say aloud what they 
thought, but only that she had loved a German. 

Mana went every day of good weather in a little 
canoe about the islet of Motu-Uta, at a certain dis- 
tance prescribed by the guards, and made a gesture to 
Monsieur Lutz, who sat or stood within an enclosure 
and looked out to sea. Poor Lutz! He died of an 
aneurism, or, if you will, of a broken Prussian heart. 

Mademoiselle Narbonne one day went toward Pape- 
noo. At Faaripoo she saw the inclosure of the lepro- 
sarium, where the three or four score lepers are con- 
fined. She returned to the Marquesas Islands. 

JPauvre file! Personne n'a voulu se marier avec elle 
et elle vit avec un vieuoo Canaque de Taaoa. Elle est 
retournee a la hrousse — Poor girl! Nobody wants to 
marry her and she lives with an old Kanaka of Taaoa. 
She has returned to the jungle. 



508 ATOLLS OF THE SUN 

I will tell you, my friend, that no matter what Le- 
moal has said, or her own fears, Mademoiselle Nar- 
bonne is not a leper. But the sorcery of the taua has 
ended her. These Marquesans, even if half white, are 
yet heathen. 

Daughter of the Pigeon is dead of tuberculosis. 
Ghost Girl died of influenza in Tahiti, where she had 
gone to continue her joyous life. Peyral and his white 
daughters have fled to France. Exploding Eggs has 
taken the daughter of Titihuti; and her husband, from 
whom he seized her, is content to live with them. Gov- 
ernor L'Hermier des Plantes is governor of the Congo. 
Song of the Nightingale is in prison for making cocoa- 
nut rum. Seventh Man Who Is So Angry has lost his 
wife of tuberculosis. Vanquished Often died of leprosy 
in childbirth. Le Moine, the artist, went mad and is 
dead. Grelet, the Swiss, is dead. Pere David, Pere 
Simeon, Pere Victorin, are well, as all the nuns. Jim- 
my Kekela is well; his sister is shut up in a leper hos- 
pital. McHenry has been expelled from Tahiti for sell- 
ing alcoholic liquors to the natives of the Paumotus. 
Lemoal is dead. Hemeury Fran9ois and Scallamera 
are dead. Vai Etienne, son of Titihuti, is dead. Com- 
Tnissaire Bauda went to the wars. 

I have named my second child after you, Frederick. 
You remember her mother. At Peace, the sister of Mali- 
cious Gossip. We dwell in comfort and happiness. 
Return to live with us. 

Votre devoue 

Le Brunnec. 



/ 



s 



o 
ai 

35 

O 

CQ 

(b 
O 

M 

2 



University cf Toronto' 
Library 



DO NOT 

REMOVE 

THE 

CARD 

FROM 

THIS 

POCKET 




Acme Library Card Pocket 
LOWE-MARTIN CO. limited 



mmmm 



«(•■"■■»■ 












r!t:i;!'-rrH 



-^—^m^MMMmtitm 



iiiiiiiiiiiifcririirtiiiMii wmmililmiittilUKliliii^ ifc il