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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 






.7 Day- Dream." 



[Frontispiece. 



The Log of an Island 
Wanderer 

Notes of Travel in the 
Eastern Pacific 



By 
Edwin Pallander 

Author of "Across the Zodiac," etc. 



With 32 Illustrations 



London 
C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd. 

Henrietta Street 
1901 



?mJL 



To 
EDWARD ENGLAND, ESQ. 

OF TOORAK, MELBOURNE 

THIS VOLUME 

IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED IN MEMORY OF 

A CHARMING SUMMER SPENT IN THE 

ISLES AND ENCHANTED GARDENS 

OF AUSTRALASIA 



Contents 



CHAP. PAGE 

I. IN AUCKLAND THE DEFEAT OF TEWTOX .. . . 7 

II. THE OCEAN OF KIWA 17 

III. THE ISLE OF ORANGES 2$ 

IV. QUEEN MAKAE JACKY OFFICIALISM .... 34 

V. MISSIONARY LAW RAHERl'S DIPLOMA .... 43 

VI. THE ISLE OF FAIR WOMEN 56 

VII. CHINAMEN MILITARY " VI ET ARMIS " ... 70 

VIII. A FASHODA IDYLL 8l 

IX. OFFICIALISM A STUDY IN RESPONSIBILITIES ... 91 
X. TOUR OF THE ISLAND A CHRISTENING DRIVING 

PECULIAR . . . IOI 

XI. TOUR OF THE ISLAND (continued) INDUSTRIES . -113 

XII. THE OCEAN OF MARAMA 124 

XIII. TERAUPO AND THE UNION JACK 137 

XIV. BORA-BORA AND THE HOOLA-HOOLA 144 

xv. "PAKE RAA TAI" (THE EBBING OF THE TIDE) . . 157 

XVI. AN INTERLUDE 167 

XVII. THE ISLES OF THIRST A RUN IN A NATIVE SCHOONER 172 

XVIII. ANAA LIFE ON A CORAL ATOLL 190 

xix. CHALLONER'S ANGEL 201 

XX. MAKEMO SURF-RIDING SHARKS 211 

XXI. THE WHITE DEVIL OF MAKEMO 217 

XXII. HIKUERU AND THE PEARL-FISHERY 226 

XXIII. HIVAOA MISSIONARIES THE CRUCIFIXION OF CRADOCK 235 

XXIV. MISSIONARIES VISIT TO A LEPER VILLAGE . ... 243 
XXV. NUKAHI.VA A CANNIBAL QUEEN PICNICS CONVICTS . 254 

XXVI. THE STORY OF JOHN HILLYARD 265 

XXVII. A NUKAHIVA GOAT-DRIVE 273 

XXVIII. TAHITI AGAIN PAPEETE IN GALA 284 

XXIX. TAHITIAN SOCIETY . . 300 

XXX. NATIVE WIFEDOM A WH1TY-BROWN STUDY . . -313 

V 



List of Illustrations 

" A Day- Dream" . . . . . . . Frontispiece 

Up the Valley, Rarotonga ... . . To face page 32 

A South Sea Royalty ...... 36 

Picking Papaws, Rarotonga .... 46 

Papeete, from the Sea ..... 60 

Place de 1'Ancienne Prison, Papeete ... 66 

A Remittance- Man's Dwelling .... 70 

Marketing, Papeete ,,72 

Terii Areva ........ 82 

Fautaua Valley . 86 

Broom Road, Papeete ,, ,, 94 

Faaa Point, Tahiti . . . . , . 106 

A Lesson in Dancing . . . ' . . . no 

" Where mountain spirits prate to river sprites" 114 

Drying Copra, Tahiti 116 

Weeding Sugar-Cane . . . . . . 120 

Kanaka carrying Faies (Plantains) . . . 122 

Landing-Place, Huahine . . . . ,,130 

A Hoola-hoola, Tahiti . . . . . ,,152 

Beach Road, Bora- Bora . . . . 160 

A Picnic, Fautaua . 170 

Avenue Bruat, Papeete . . . . . ,,178 

A Trip on the Lagoon, Anaa . . . . ,,194 

After the Day's Work, Paumotu Islands . . ,,196 

A Makemo Schoolboy's Holiday . . . ,,216 

Pearl-Diving in Hikueru 232 

Girls in Canoe 240 

Group of Natives, Marquesas Islands . 246 

Jimmy Gibson 260 

Roasting Bread-Fruit 264 

Three Beauties, Tahiti 296 

A Picnic, Fautaua 308 

vi 



The Log of an Island 
Wanderer 

CHAPTER I 

IN AUCKLAND THE DEFEAT OF TEWTOX 

" 'Twas beyond a joke 

And enough to provoke 
The mildest and best-tempered fiend below." 

INGOLDSBY. 

AUCKLAND is the most respectable city in the 
world. 

The exact reason for this is difficult to deter- 
mine. External appearance has a good deal to 
do with it. The long, prim, soberly ugly streets 
scarifying the pale heavens with their network of 
telephone wire ; the chequered squareness of the 
harbour frontage, and its rows of orderly steam- 
boat funnels and glittering acres of plate-glass ; 
the innocently temperate suggestions of those 
ever-recurring " Coffee " Palaces ; the rows of 
painted villas moulding themselves so persua- 
sively to the curve of the hills as beautifully 
uniform in style and feeling as no doubt are the 

7 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

souls and political convictions of the occupants 
the prevalence of greys and greens in the 
general colour-scheme ; the Puritanical hymn- 
book air of the Union Company's clerks ; the 
sombre copses of pine and cypress, and the end- 
less frivolity-rebuking cemetery. 

Maybe the climate has something to do with 
it. The Auckland climate is, during the major 
portion of the year, the softest, warmest, gentlest 
thing imaginable. It is as mild as the kiss of a 
curate on the cheek of a spinster. To realise 
it adequately you should cling passionately to 
something and think of crushed strawberries. I 
know not whether holiness is of the line and 
plummet, but if it be, Auckland is contracting for 
a race of angels. 

Auckland was not built in a day. Its growth 
was as decently slow as everything in it. Auck- 
land did not shoot up like a nouveau riche. It 
began by honestly serving its apprenticeship. 
Those were the days when, in the guise of 
pioneer, it earned its living by the sweat of its 
brow and the sureness of its aim, feasting mag- 
nificently, knife in hand, between the rotting 
timber-piles and the drifting camp-smoke days 
of the axe, the forge, the war-drum. 

Auckland came of age, as most healthy scions 
do, on the front doorstep. To that party came 

8 



In Auckland the Defeat of Tewtox 

from across the seas the merchant, the capitalist, 
the grievance, the man-who-was-good, the woman 
with a mission. The tone of Auckland's ances- 
tral abode changed. A king arose who knew 
not the pioneer, and he formed a kingdom of 
Ledger with inky-fingered courtiers and souls 
to be saved all the conquering battle-line of a 
speckless bureaucracy. 

Following the usual course of merchant-princes, 
Auckland next set to work to unearth for itself 
a pedigree. It was a queer one, rather extend- 
ing on one side to Lombard Street, on the other 
to Hongi Heke but the frames of the ancestors 
were heavy in gold and carried weight with 
the querulous. Auckland cultivated a paunch 
swollen with intestinal red tape, learned to 
eschew champagne, and go in for dry sherry, 
to broaden her shirt-front and her vowels, to 
eat cold beef on Sunday, to be grey, solid, heavy 
English. Like Trabb's boy, Auckland said 
to her old archetype, the pioneer, " Don't know 
yah." And the archetype, when he didn't drink 
himself blind, drifted sadly away to the gum- 
fields and hated the usurper. . . . 

I had just arrived at this interesting stage in 
my musings when some one Johnson of the 
Ovalau stopped me abruptly and asked me 
whether I cared to witness a cock-fight. 

9 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

A cock-fight ! In Auckland ! The thing 
seemed weirdly incongruous. But was I not 
booked for a tour in the South Pacific, and ought 
I to be astonished at anything ? In most cases 
where such an entertainment were offered one 
would decline, and hastily but in the present 
case there were reasons for making the thing 
especially interesting. Every one in Auckland 
had heard of the redoubtable fighting-cock Tew- 
tox, the tailless champion of the Pacific, who had 
mortally inconvenienced every bird of his own 
size from Rarotonga to the Pelews. Tewtox 
was a wonderful creature. He was the property 
of some sailor of the Union Company, and his 
owner had made a fortune over him. Whenever 
his vessel landed at an island it was Tewtox's 
habit to challenge some local bird and send 
him home bleeding and eyeless in less than ten 
minutes. Indeed his victories had been so 
frequent that the whole of Auckland or that 
section of it familiar with the technicalities of this 
noble sport took an interest in his movements, 
and the first officer of the Ovalau actually had 
a portrait of this talented fowl hanging on his 
cabin partition. 

It appeared that the challenging party were the 
crew of the Pedro Valverde, a two-hundred-ton 
schooner from Valparaiso. They were not known 

10 



In Auckland the Defeat of Tewtox 

to have any feathered celebrity on board, and 
some curiosity was felt as to whom they would 
present as a champion. 

Johnson would willingly have attended the 
performance himself, but Captain Pond of the 
Ovalau was a man of morals strict, and was 
known to disapprove of fighting in any form, and 
cock-fighting in particular. So Johnson con- 
tented himself with introducing me to a couple 
of guides and wishing me all imaginable luck. 
The sailors twisted me down along the harbour 
into a region of skeleton hulks, rusting propeller- 
blades, rotting varnish, and piles of yellow 
lumber. In a side-street was a staid-looking 
public-house with scarlet blinds, and the legend 
"Coffee Palace" broidered in gold over the door. 
In a dark passage whither we were admitted, a 
fat man with a bottle-nose bounced out on us 
like a puppet at a show, and on being told we 
came to see the fight started dramatically, and 
pretended to be shocked. Then he changed 
tactics. He backed me mysteriously into a 
corner, and with a wink : 

"Sir," he said, "this ain't going to be quite 
what you might call a fair fight. In fact, it's a 
bit of a plant and rough on the champion. But 
if you should notice anything queer, for the love 
of God don't let on twiggy-voo ? " 

ii 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

I didn't twiggy in the least, but I somehow 
understood that the days of Tewtox were num- 
bered, and that a scheme was rife for his im- 
mediate smashment. 

In a vast room lit by dingy windows an audi- 
ence of about fifty sailors were collected, sitting 
pipe in mouth on long benches ranged against 
the walls. The place had once been a billiard- 
room, but the racks had been dismantled and the 
lamps abolished. The atmosphere of tobacco 
made my eyes smart. A side-door led to another 
apartment where a major-domo was dispensing 
drinks. It was the most genial gathering I had 
yet seen in Auckland. 

Some one called Time. There were cheers 
and clapping of hands from the Union sailors. 
A canvas bag was produced, and out of it stepped 
the redoubtable champion Tewtox. In appear- 
ance he was a small bird, but the fact that his 
feathers had been closely clipped and his tail cut 
short may have altered his looks somewhat. 
He was in first-chop fighting trim. He strutted 
boldly to the centre of the room, pecked medita- 
tively at a fallen orange-peel, flapped his clipped 
wings, and uttered a defiant crow. 

"He's all right," said the President, a lanky 
man with iron-grey side whiskers; " bring on your 
bird, you lubbers." 

12 



In Auckland the Defeat of Tewtox 

For answer there was a mysterious shuffling in 
the darkness of the bar-room door behind me and 
an oath from some one, hurt apparently. A second 
big bag was placed on the floor, and out waddled 
one of the strangest creatures imaginable. Its 
form was that of a monstrous fowl, but there was 
not a solitary feather on its body all one could 
see was a white swollen bag of flesh that quivered 
and shivered and sank down in a lump, apparently 
unable to move. On its head or the portion of 
its body where its head might have been some 
one had fixed with some sticky mixture a scarlet 
flannel rag, similar to a cock's comb, and round 
its neck were more frills of some pink substance. 
There was a howl of derision and excitement. 

"It's a turkey." "No, it ain't." "Pass it 
round, and let's have a look at it." Then the 
voice of the President shouting "Order, gentle- 
men order-r-r, please." 

What the bird actually was it was impossible 
to see. However, here it was, and Tewtox was 
going to fight it. Any objection which the latter's 
owner might have experienced in allowing his 
bird to tackle a stranger of doubtful parentage 
was silenced by the rum he had drunk and by 
the curiosity of the rest of the audience. 

" Go it, old boy ! " he shouted, waving his 
cigar, 

13 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Tewtox clucked encouragingly. He saw the 
white lump of flesh, the beak, and the wobbling 
red comb. Some instinct might have warned 
him of possible danger lurking under that thea- 
trical disguise, but success had made Tewtox as 
giddy as his master, and he was stuffed as full of 
conceit as a lady novelist of adjectives. 

Tewtox protruded his head twice inquiringly, 
rustled his quills in warlike fashion, crowed then 
seeing his antagonist showed no signs of life, ad- 
vanced with a rush and pecked the flabby stranger 
smartly in the side. 

The mysterious one made no movement. Per- 
haps the loss of its feathers had taken the spirit 
out of it. It still lay quietly on the floor, its poor 
head with the dangling strips of flannel turning 
moodily from side to side as though trying to 
fathom why it was brought here, and with what 
object it was being tortured. There were cries 
of " Shame ! " a crash of glass from the bar, and 
a burst of laughter. 

The noise roused Tewtox's spark of ambition. 
He commenced dancing about like an indiarubber 
ball, swelling and strutting to and fro, impudently 
turning his back on his antagonist, and taking 
pains to evince his contempt generally. Then 
suddenly rushing to the attack he treated the poor 
quivering body to a series of sharp pecking bites. 



In Auckland the Defeat of Tewtox 

Even a skinless bird has limits to its endurance. 
The stranger's eye lightened. It seemed to 
realise that something was going on that it was 
being purposely maltreated, or worse publicly 
insulted. From underneath that formless mass a 
great claw protruded menacingly, and as Tewtox 
rashly swooped down a third time, the claw caught 
him by the neck, and held him as in a vice. 

There was a howl of excitement. Down went 
the great beak, and before any one could realise 
it Tewtox's head parted with a snap from his 
body, and Tewtox himself rolled over bleeding 
and fluttering in the agonies of death ! At the 
same moment the strange bird rose, and there, 
before us, tailless and disreputable, its artificial 
comb wobbling foolishly on its poor bare head, 
glaring round on the assembly with warlike fiery 
eye was the most ferocious bald-headed eagle 
ever seen outside a menagerie ! 

Nothing can describe the fury of Tewtox's 
owner when he found how he had been tricked. 
The Valverde sailors tried to hustle the eagle 
into the bag, but the bird's blood was up, and he 
made his beak meet in the calf of his aggressor 
in a way that showed he intended to stand no 
more trifling. 

"You rascally, macaroni-chewing, dish-washing 
son of a dago ! " howled Tewtox's master, kicking 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

the eagle aside and grabbing the nearest sailor 
by the collar. " By your leave, gentlemen no 
fighting here ! " shouted the major-domo, but he 
was too late, for the majority of the guests were 
thirsting for a row with the Portuguese sailors, 
and the room was filled with struggling, pushing 
humanity. The tide surged down the passage 
and into the street, smashing the stained-glass 
doors and littering the pavement with fragments. 
The last I saw as I vanished round the corner 
was a lame white bird skipping in the mud and 
the president trying to hit it with a soda-water 
bottle. Next day I was on board the Ovalau 
bound for Rarotonga. 



16 



CHAPTER II 

THE OCEAN OF KIWA 

" Our landwind is the breath 
Of sorrows kissed to death, 

And joys that were 
Our ballast is a rose, 
Our way lies where God knows, 

And love knows where." 

IT was Tuesday, the 29th of September, and 
Auckland had donned her mourning- dress of 
rain -soaked wharves and dripping hawsers. 
Rangitoto was hidden behind driving mist- 
wraiths, and the trailing smoke of the north- 
shore ferries accentuated the general atmosphere 
of gloom, as lilies do a funeral. Finally, by way 
of making the place a little wetter and more in 
keeping with its surroundings, one of the men 
started playing with a hose in energetic pretence 
of washing the decks. 

The Ovalau was a vessel of some 1250 tons 
burden, with a diminutive engine that looked like 
a toy and a miniature aping of the lines of a big 
ocean steamer which would have been funny if it 
hadn't been uncomfortable. The saloon was very 

17 B 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

far astern which meant eating our meals to a 
tremolo screw accompaniment and there were 
one or two hatchways that smelt as though the 
man who designed them were decaying under- 
neath. The only passengers were a French 
military man and his wife, for Tahiti ; a genial 
but sea-sick French doctor, and a tall handsome 
lady with gray hair and eyes to match, whom 
Pond introduced me to last night as Mrs. Irwin. 

There was no cheering as we moved off nor 
would I have been in the mood to participate if 
there had been. Thank God, sea-sickness and 
heart-sickness don't go well together. The latter 
had the start, but long before the Ovalau rounded 
the Barrier light Neptune won in a canter. I 
crawled meekly in between the white sheets of 
my bunk, and resigned myself to misery. 

Oct. 2. On my sea-legs at last. I met the 
little French captain in the companion. He was 
affable and communicative full of fun, a typical 
Parisian. He has served his country succes- 
sively in Algiers, Tonkin, Dahomey, and Pondi- 
chery but it is difficult to draw him out on any 
subject connected with these countries. Scenery 
or natives don't interest him. They are bar- 
barians. They have no monde, no blue-book, 
no opera. They have never even heard of the 
Prince de Sagan. They are not men, they are 

18 



The Ocean of Kiwa 

existences. And here on the very threshold of 
my fairy-tale, I get a preliminary glimpse of the 
greatest and most failure-breeding weakness of 
French colonial enterprise officialism. 

To rule, to command, to drill regiments into 
scurrying sham-fights down tropical valleys, to 
dance attendance on mysterious " functions " 
beset with natives in livery, and gentlemen 
whose decorations might boiled down make 
very tolerable bullet-proof waistcoats, to re- 
christen local byways after Parisian thorough- 
fares, to play "parties" of dearie, to draw the 
francs fresh and fresh, to return home with the 
glitter of outlandish dignitaryship clinging to 
one's name and urging one on to fresh social 
dazzle such and no others are the goals striven 
for by young France in her policy of colonial 
exiledom. But of the life, manners, history of 
the country, not a word. They are dead letters. 
Our little captain is, on the whole, a great deal 
more intelligent than the average run of epau- 
letted miscreant one meets in the South Pacific, 
but even he is mildly amused at my keeping a 
diary. What can there be to record on a tramp 
across an abominable ocean full of savages ? I 
tell him I never go to bed without writing up my 
diary. 

"And I," he retorts, drawing himself up, but 

19 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

leering amusedly at me out of the corner of his 
eye to watch the effect of his words, " I never 
go to bed without praying for the death of the 
English." 

The bloodthirsty little mosquito ! 

Oct. 4. The ocean of Kiwa! The name 
is weird, barbaric, full of mystery. And it was 
here, in these very waters that the Ovalaus 
propeller-blades are thrashing so remorselessly, 
that the first primaeval canoe the Mayflower 
of the Maories struggled and toiled with its 
starving freight of islanders to reach the pro- 
mised land, the bleak North Island of New 
Zealand, with its spouting volcanoes and hissing 
lakes of sulphur. 

Whence came they ? No one knows for cer- 
tain. They came from an island where a king 
ruled by the name of Pomare : this naturally 
suggests Tahiti, but just as you get ready to kill 
the fatted calf in honour of your superior astute- 
ness, that disgusting nuisance, the antiquary, 
shivers your dream to atoms with the news that 
there was no family of that ilk in Tahiti so long 
ago. Queen Aimata Pomare is a recent institu- 
tion entirely. 

And so on and so on. The more you dive 
into that fell legend the more deeply you flounder 
in the mist of contradictions. Best leave it alone 

20 



The Ocean of Kiwa 

altogether ; at least leave the serious side of it 
alone ; it reads better as a romance If you are 
so minded you can even reconstruct it as a 
picture. The details spring up only too readily. 
You see the long clumsy boat with its mildewed 
crust of sea-salt, the ragged sail of coco-matting, 
the bowed line of men, the haggard faces of the 
women the tears, prayers, curses when each 
succeeding dawn showed no limit to the merci- 
less waste of water. And then that thrice- 
blessed, glorious morning, when the survivors of 
that perishing crew lifted their aching eyes to 
see the long grey mountains of Coromandel 
looming through the yellow sunrise. Think of 
it ! The sailings of Columbus and Vasco da 
Gama must have been a fool to the cruise of 
that tiny dug-out canoe. Two thousand two 
hundred miles across a tropical sea, with a bunch 
of rotten bananas and a few miserable calabashes 
of water to prolong your agony. The bare idea 
makes one shiver. 

But I am alone in my enthusiasm. Neither 
the captain nor the doctor take much stock in 
legends. Ideals become as brittle as glass on a 
Union steamer, and hardly have you got the roof 
on your palace of crystal when presto ! the real 
steps in and crumbles everything to dust. 

Oct. 5. The real has stepped in at last. A 

21 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

shark has swallowed our log. The spinning vane 
of metal trailing in the wake of the ship attracted 
the creature's attention, and he bolted it, mis- 
taking it for a fish. Such accidents are not 
uncommon about here, and Captain Pond tells 
me this is the second log he has lost since the 
Ovalau commenced running. 

Sharks, both of the land and sea variety, are 
plentiful in the islands, and over the Papeete club 
tables the shark-liar is as common and as vener- 
able an institution as the golf or bicycle liar is 
with us. Cuddy, the purser of the Ovalau, is a 
man of sparkling resourcefulness. When the 
Upolu Cuddy's first ship was lying at anchor 
in Levuka some years back, the men used to 
amuse themselves shark-fishing. It was a tedious 
business at first, for the float an empty biscuit- 
tin soldered watertight required watching, and 
the long spells of waiting ate into Cuddy's soul. 
His natural ingenuity suggested a way out, how- 
ever. He undid the line from the winch, and 
knotted it to the lever of the steam-whistle. 
After that the crew used to be electrified by 
blasts about once every hour, and the whizz of 
Cuddy's coat-tails as he bounded up the ladder 
to answer the summons and secure the prey. 
Sharks came plentifully enough during the next 
twenty-four hours. The Upolu 's decks reeked 

22 



The Ocean of Kiwa 

of fishiness, and excitement flagged. The game 
grew more wary, and bites were few and far be- 
tween. Cuddy began to think he had sharked 
the ocean dry. The captain of the Upolu was a 
genial old salt of pronounced Irish extraction. 
There was a long list of invoices to be made out, 
and Cuddy chewed the end of his pen-holder 
while the captain sat on the sofa and suggested 
amendments. Presently, as the fifteenth invoice 
was being dated came a triumphant, screeching 
blast of the whistle. Cuddy turned pale. He 
would have given his month's salary to drop the 
invoices and dash on deck, but the commander's 
eye was on him and he must bide his time. 

Whoo oo oo up! this time more viciously. 
" A ten-footer ! " said Cuddy to himself with a 
thrill, and in his excitement he mis-spelt his name 
on the sixteenth invoice. 

Whoo whoo whoo whoop ! 

" Tare-an-ouns ! " said the skipper, who knew 
nothing of Cuddy's fishing tactics, " have they 
struck the English fleet or what ? Spin up on 
deck and see what's the matter, like a good 
fellow." 

Off scrambled the purser. As he reached the 
door of the companion there were three frantic 
screeches, a shock, and a roar of angry steam as 
the big thirty-foot monster dragged whistle, pipe, 

23 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

and steel-line after him into the ocean. The 
damage done was sufficient to make a big hole 
in Cuddy's salary, but the loss of the fish vexed 
him more than the money, and he has nursed a 
covert distrust of the shark tribe ever since. 

The log has been replaced, and as the sun sets 
on our shark yarn we have the satisfaction of 
knowing that we are exactly one hundred miles 
from Rarotonga. 



CHAPTER III 

THE ISLE OF ORANGES 

" The gushing fruits that Nature gave untilled, 
The wood without a path but where they willed." 

THE ISLAND. 

I WAS awakened this morning by some one 
shouting my name on deck. The doctor put his 
head in through the port-hole, looking, in his volu- 
minous squash hat with the pale light of morning 
behind him, rather like an etching by Vandyck. 

We have sighted Rarotonga. As I scramble 
out of my berth long shadows are creeping up 
through the grey mist to starboard, set off at 
intervals by isolated lights natives fishing on 
the reef. The screw slows down, and as we 
draw near the shallows the tall mountains start 
out like developing photographs. Then the sun 
comes out, and as the luminous spears strike the 
floating wilderness of cloud overhead, the world 
the lovely South Pacific world flashes on our 
delighted eyes in a blaze of life and colour that 
sets feeble pen and ink at zero. This is what 
I see. 

25 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Three pointed mountain -peaks, their upper 
saddles bathed in yellow sunshine, their bases 
lost in clustering shadow save where some strag- 
gling ray shoots its glory across a slope of 
feathery palm-tops. Near by the waters are 
roaring on the reef, and a layer of opal mist, 
catching the light of the distant dawn -fires, 
flashes it back in a myriad sparkles. By-and- 
by, as the day grows whiter, the long roadstead 
with its clusters of coral-built houses peers shyly 
from between the palm-fringes, while the hills 
above broaden out into a velvety sea of peaks, 
crests, plateaux reflecting and remodelling the 
light in a thousand facets of green. It is a 
vision of Paradise. 

The Ovalaus launch put us ashore shortly 
before seven o'clock, and we went for a peaceful 
walk along the beach-road. These same beach- 
roads are in their way an institution of the South 
Sea Islands, and indeed are about the only really 
practicable roadsteads these places possess. Even 
in the bigger islands Tahiti, for instance no 
effort has been made to hew a path into the in- 
terior, and the Broom Road, which tamely follows 
the sea, is your only salvation. One disadvan- 
tage is the absence of bridges. Rivers are not 
supposed to be a hindrance. As long as you are 

within the postal radius you are all right. Leave 

26 



The Isle of Oranges 

the district and you are forced to swim. To a 
native, clad in a crown of flowers and a loin-cloth, 
this comes merely in the light of a refresher but 
to a European it presents its inconveniences. 

Rarotonga is at least in the neighbourhood of 
the capita], Avarua no longer the wilderness 
of pandanus and bamboo that it was in the days 
of Captain Cook, but enough of its beauties re- 
main intact to render it yet interesting to the 
artist in search of the beautiful. The majority 
of the houses whose modern-looking iron roofs 
are to a certain extent mitigated by the gorgeous 
tapestry of flowering creeper are surrounded by 
small gardens, and separated from the road by 
walls of sun-baked coral, resembling the stone 
fences of Galway or Armagh in their loose and 
artistic irregularity. Occasionally a practical 
shanty of corrugated iron, its verandah disfigured 
by a flaming poster culled from the poetry-mur- 
dering archives of Auckland or Sydney, brings 
you back to the workaday world but on the 
whole you can dream your time away in lovely 
Avarua without being more disillusioned than 
anywhere else within the tropics. 

In the post-office which is a small ramshackle 
structure of shingle, with a score of Kanakas in 
shirts and blue trousers loafing on the verandah 
we were supplied with pens that would not write 

27 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

and stamps that had to be coaxed into position with 
mucilage. On a small table in the back parlour, 
a young man appeared to judge by sound and 
action to be mixing a cocktail. " We only get 
ice once a month," he explained apologetically, 
"so we make the best of it." 

There was a goodly crowd of loafers to wel- 
come us as we came out. Smiling apparently 
comes natural to these children of nature I 
don't think I noticed a severe or uncheerful face 
among the whole collection. " They are per- 
fectly happy," quoth the doctor, then as a 
logical afterthought " they do no kind of 
work." 

The first glimpse of a group of Island ladies is 
apt to give the over-modest bachelor a slight 
shock. The costume adopted is nothing more 
than a white peignoir of muslin but the impres- 
sion of deshabille is very emphatic, and neither 
the loose flowing hair nor the bare arms and legs 
tend to mitigate it, I assure you. As for the 
men, they wear the broad panama, the scarlet 
loin cloth (pareo), and cotton tunic. Some have 
of late years taken to wearing duck trousers 
but the change is in no ways for the better, and 
the European garb doesn't suit either the Kanaka 
or the climate as well as his own airy costume. 

" Hullo well caught ! " Two tiny boys, with 

28 



The Isle of Oranges 

grinning brown faces, in knickerbockers and pink 
shirts, are engaged in a cricket match opposite 
the gate leading to the school. An original kind 
of match too with a palm-leaf rib for bat and a 
green orange for ball. Meanwhile a cluster of 
girls scarlet blossoms stuck behind their ears 
look admiringly on from the wall. Presently one 
of them advances timidly with a sprig of white 
tuberose, which she presents blushingly to the 
doctor amid clapping of hands from the rest 
naughty, wasn't it ? But the worthy doctor has 
worked many cures in these islands, and is one 
of the most popular characters of the Society 
group. 

" And now," quoth our mentor, " what would 
you like to do, gentlemen ? Pay an informal 
undress visit to Queen Makae or ramble up- 
country and eat oranges ? Well um it is only 
seven-thirty, and the dear old lady may hardly 
be quit of her royal slumbers. We will try the 
valley." 

A broad gravel walk, flanked by bushes of 
flowering hibiscus and stephanotis, leads us 
through a maze of sunny villas, where brown 
girls are sitting by their sewing-machines mild- 
eyed, flirtation-provoking bundles of cloth and 
buzz away into the mysterious heart of the 

woods. Almost before you are aware, the 

29 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

green twilight has closed in. You are in the 
jungle. 

Oh the richness, the prodigal luxuriance of 
those Rarotongan forests ! The sinful profusion 
of fruit which a militant army of black hogs 
almost greater nature-lovers than their two-footed 
superiors are devouring in the shade of the 
underbrush. The deep green of the bread-fruit, 
the mangoes with their strings of rosy bulbs, the 
avocas dangling their big heavy pears within 
reach of your hand, the papaws like Chinese 
feather-parasols, and over and above all, the lovely 
areca-nut palms, nodding their plumed heads 
above the beds of flowering lantana like the 
guardian spirits of the glade. 

And oranges oranges everywhere ! Raro- 
tonga is essentially a country of orange-trees. 
Not the squat green-tubbed European version, 
but massive trees as big as oaks, capable of 
sheltering a hundred fugitive kings in their 
spreading branches. I think a nervous horti- 
culturist from Sutton or Kew would go into a 
dead faint in five minutes. A scarlet glare on 
the right attracts my attention I am near a bed 
of flowering canna. Farther on a sweet sickly 
perfume makes my head swim. It is the blossom 
of the wild ginger, a pale beautiful flower tremb- 
ling on the end of its long rushes like a white 

3 



The Isle of Oranges 

butterfly stricken with catalepsy. There is a 
suspicion of pink lilies in the pools, and long 
tracts of sensitive grass wither to folded inno- 
cence beneath our feet in mute rebuke at the 
mortal who comes to invade the haunts of 
Titania. 

But who are these ? Three little maids in 
blue and pink, with bags of oranges and satchels. 
The eldest is chewing a piece of ginger-root and 
staring us out of countenance with the unblush- 
ingness of Eve before the fall. Now for a photo- 
graph. The young ladies have seen a camera 
before and are not a wee bit afraid of being 
blasted, but show a tendency to giggle that is 
annoying. 

The doctor bargains with the eldest for oranges. 
What is the price ? Well, properly speaking, 
there is no price. Oranges in Rarotonga, like 
colonels in America, are a drug in the market. 
She will take anything in reason, from a kiss to 
a fiver. The bag is opened and emptied on the 
ground. Take your choice tan farani. Plenty 
more where those came from. Her sister Vaitipe 
the Cinderella of the party will shin up and 
get more. A young lady climb a tree, and a tree 
as tall as a mosque ! Who ever heard of such an 
outrage ? Can't she though she does and sits 
grinning in an un-Pickwickian manner on a bough, 

3 1 



The Log or an Island Wanderer 

as indifferent to vanity and vertigo as her sister 
the one chewing the ginger-root is to lucre 
and lockjaw. Then down she comes and stands 
blushingly with a load of fruit gathered in a loop 
of her dress a sort of South Sea parody of 
Greuze's " cruche cassee," though our friend the 
froggy won't hear of the simile. 

Yes money is of little value in Rarotonga. 
The press of competition, the " sturm und drang " 
of existence, have not yet fairly passed the reef- 
opening. It is a moot point whether they ever 
will. Nature has given the Kanaka an unlimited 
grant of dolce far niente, and the requisite idle 
disposition to enjoy it. 

Staggering attempts at fruit export are made 
occasionally. Even now as we return from our 
ramble we find the wharf piled with plaited 
baskets of pandanus containing bananas and cases 
of green oranges. Go to D. & E.'s store in the 
dusty loop to the south of Avarua. In a shady 
outhouse you will find several tons of fruit piled 
for exportation. Even the little smelly sea-sick 
native schooners are loaded thick with odorous 
cargo. But bless you it is only a flea-bite to 
the vast productive forces of the soil, and eight- 
tenths of the annual produce remain untouched. 

Very different the case in our own beloved 
latitudes, where in Folkestone you cannot get 

3 2 



The Isle of Oranges 

a mackerel, in Skye you cannot get a terrier, in 
Brussels any sort of velvet is pawned off on you 
for the right sort, and in Mechlin you are told 
that lace is shy that year. The Rarotongan be- 
lieves in consuming his own produce, and inas- 
much as an odd 1800 miles of sea separate him 
from the grasping feelers of monopolists, it seems 
likely that he will continue to do this to the end 
of the chapter. 



33 



CHAPTER IV 

QUEEN MAKAE JACKY OFFICIALISM 

" The gentle island and the genial soil, 
The friendly hearts, the feasts without a toil." 

RAROTONGA is nominally governed by a British 
resident Mr. Gudgeon and a score of petty 
representatives ; in reality by the voces populi and 
the picturesque machinery of chance. 

They have a queen, of course ; as much from 
necessity as from choice. Incidentally be it said 
that a queen is as indispensable to a South Sea 
Island as a tank to a theatrical company. The 
Pacific is honeycombed with kingships from one 
to fifty people of royal blood being considered 
the proper share for each island. The real line 
of monarchs is, of course, as extinct as the dodo 
but Makae vahine (pron. Macare) and her 
august spouse, Namaru, are left as landmarks in 
the swamp to indicate the site of former ancient 
regimes. 

Makae is a dear old lady and very sociable. 
She lives a quiet retiring life with her husband, 
a score of attendant maidens, and "Jacky" of 

34 



Queen Makae 

which frail beauty more anon. Namaru himself 
oh, where are our introductions? The doctor 
our professed guide and protector, has gone off 
to attend to a case of typhoid. Won't her Majesty 
be offended ? Not a bit of it. We are tourists, 
not pirates. And how do we like her island ? 
Well amazingly, and we are sinfully curious to 
see her husband, good King Namaru. One of the 
damsels goes to fetch him. Here he comes, the 
whole six feet of him. As he grasps our hands 
in his vast palm, that infidel maiden Jacky who 
is demurely plaiting a straw hat at one end of the 
verandah grins knowingly. Namaru is not a 
Rarotongan born, but he is a splendid specimen 
of Kanaka manhood, and though really as gentle 
as a lamb, somehow impresses one as ferocious. 

What will we have to drink ? A coco-nut, if 
it please your Majesty. Jacky the demure 
throws down her hat and goes to fetch one. We 
hear the chops of the knife, and two lovely nuts, 
the ivory rim with its crystal contents just visible 
inside the smooth brown chalice, are handed us 
smilingly. From her seat in the cane-chair 
Makae catches the reigning merriment, and 
smiles too. We have heard of her favourite 
handmaiden ? 

Indeed, we have for the fame of Jacky has 
gone abroad, and made her great with that 

35 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

peculiar greatness which only the completely 
islandised can thoroughly appreciate. The girl's 
existence has been a picturesque one. She was 
originally a foundling whom Makae who was in 
need of a clever maid of honour adopted and 
brought up in the palace as her own child. 
Matters went along swimmingly for some years 
till, with the transition from child to womanhood, 
the heart-interest developed and it brought 
trouble to Makae's menage. 

Jacky fell in love. The object of her affections 
a tall, chocolate-coloured, lotus-eating Kanaka, 
with an ear for music, and a soul for hoolas was 
not deemed a sufficient match for a member of 
the queen's household, and, when he came round 
to serenade Jacky on the accordion, he was told 
to move on. 

Jacky wept and dreamed of stolen interviews. 
Makae, profiting by the digested lore of her own 
youthful flirtations, proved an effective chaperon, 
however, and poor Augustus Fitzgerald I do 
not know his other name found himself check- 
mated at every corner. 

The end came one terrible day when Makae, 
on brusquely entering the drawing-room, found 
Jacky and her young man measuring love-ribbon 
in a corner. The good queen's anger blazed. 
Jacky was summoned before the household 

36 



Queen Makae Jacky 

tribunal, and ignominiously dismissed from office. 
She was a resourceful girl, however. The Union 
steamer Richmond was in port at the time, en 
route for Tahiti. Jacky dried her tears on the 
second mate's shirt-front, and begged for a pas- 
sage which was granted. 

She reached Tahiti in time for the French 
national/"^, and, her reputation having preceded 
her, was duly lionised. Meanwhile in Rarotonga 
things went from bad to worse. Makae missed 
the cheerful buzz of Jacky 's sewing-machine. 
Namaru couldn't find his shirt-studs. A message 
of pardon was sent, and Jacky who had been 
experimenting in epaulettes in Papeete was 
duly recalled. Joy repentance floods of happy 
tears ! 

Since then Jacky has had many more flirta- 
tions with Augustus Fitzgerald, but has contrived 
to keep the eleventh commandment serenely 
through them all. There is no talk of her 
moving now. She has become an institution. 

Talk about institutions if names go for any- 
thing, Rarotonga has got plenty of them. After 
leaving Makae's we visited the hospital a 
wooden structure buried deep in flowers at the 
side of a grassy creek. There is a hospital board 
of course, also a school board, a town board, and 
a bored inspector of streets. 

37 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

It is positively delicious this panoply of high- 
sounding titles on a tiny coral reef in mid-ocean. 
It is lovely to see a commissioner-general in 
corduroys and braces. It is beautiful to see a 
prince in pyjamas or a lady mayoress flying 
downhill on her bicycle, her solitary muslin shift 
well up to her knees, and her straw hat bobbing 
ignominiously over her shoulders. It is exquisite 
to see a host of vague officials with titles as long 
as a cathedral spire squabbling learnedly over 
questions which any dusty jam-stealing lower- 
middle "fag" would effectively settle in the 
corridor between " prep " and beer-fight, 

Ah, those blessed days of islandism ! when, 
with the warm tropic breezes caressing our senses, 
and the chatter of sleepy vahines l droning lazily 
through the palm-stems, we fondly imagined our- 
selves the centre of the universe, and our little 
coral-dab the hub round which the wheel of 
Destiny revolved. Foolish foolish foolish 
dream ! 

On coming out of the hospital I noticed what 
seemed like clusters of amber-coloured drops 
clinging to the wooden ceiling. On nearer in- 
spection they turned out to be something as 
beautiful, but much more terrifying viz., swarm- 
ing masses of hornets, big enough and venomous 

1 Girls. 
38 



Officialism 

enough to kill a horse if one of those ill-used 
quadrupeds chanced to offend their dignity. 
They build anywhere and everywhere, and in 
the winter months (June to August) they become 
a positive terror. Efforts have been made of late 
in some of the larger islands to suppress them by 
offering money rewards for the nests but the 
preliminary thousand francs scared the French 
Government, and the plan was abandoned. The 
plague is all the more aggravating for the reason 
that the hornets are Kanaka hornets, and with 
the exception of buzzing and stinging, do no 
manner of work. I can only unearth one solitary 
case in which they have been known to play a 
part in the economy of things and it brings me 
to the adventures of a man whose name flares in 
the Rarotonga archives like a magnesium rocket 
along a reef of blue-fires A. B. Voss, Esq. 

A. B. Voss was a politician of the old school. 
He came to Rarotonga for the purpose of re- 
forming it and saving it from perdition. He 
held advanced views, and the fact that the island 
was not big enough to contain them in no ways 
damped his ardour. He wanted to rinse the 
Augean stables. He wanted English laws 
compulsory education. The mother-tongue was 
to be taught in the schools, cane in one hand, 
Bible in the other. On paper this sounded mag- 

39 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

nificent, but the Kanakas didn't take kindly to 
the new regime, and discontent grew apace. 

With the election of a new hospital-board 
trouble came to a head. There had been a vast 
deal of fussing about " trusts " and " committees " 
in all quarters lately, and Voss's discriminating 
snobbery had wakened the spectre of jealousy 
in the hearts of the simple-minded long-shore 
loafers. The meeting was to be held in Osana 
(Hosanna) Hall a ramshackle structure of stone 
and shingle close to Makae's. It was a grilling 
day in December, and the electors came with 
curses not loud but deep. 

Voss came in his war-paint. Two doctors had 
recently been appointed without his consent, and 
the uncertainty of which way their professional 
zeal would be directed filled him with jealous 
dread. 

The meeting was modelled on strictly European 
lines. The members were ranged in a stuffy 
semicircle. Voss drops of sweat gemming his 
patrician forehead glowered darkly over his 
blotting-pad and glass of water. 

The balloting began. Voss divined that his 
opponents were too strong for him. He called 
order, stood up and made a bullying speech. 
Presently while in the act of speaking a sight 
met his gaze that brought fury with it. The 

40 



Officialism 

opposing side had set two scrutineers to watch 
the ballot-boxes. The lid of Voss's safety-valve 
blew off. 

" Hard ! " he said fiercely to the coloured wor- 
thies, while the members grinned audibly. " Mr. 
Vice, I demand an explanation. Remove those 
men." 

"Do nothing of the sort," said the leader of 
the opposite side coolly "stay where you are, 
gentlemen." 

Voss's shirt-collar swelled. He strode to the 
door. " Police ! " he shouted. 

Two half-caste Kanakas in shirts and frayed 
knickerbockers ambled sleepishly in. 

" Arrest those men," said Voss shortly, indi- 
cating the scrutineers. 

The Kanakas hesitated. The scrutineers 
looked able to take care of themselves, and 
some of the anti-Vossites were getting ready for 
action. Voss stamped. The members laughed 
approvingly. 

Voss broke away into a speech, great beads of 
perspiration rolling down his cheeks. " All those 
in favour of law and order clear to side of hall," 
he bawled. The members separated, leaving 
Voss standing by himself on the side opposed to 
law. What a roar of vulgar laughter there was ! 
Voss was on the verge of madness. 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Ha ! An idea ! Inside the locker on which he 
was supposed to be sitting was a rolled-up Union 
Jack, destined for festival use. Even the row- 
diest of Englishmen is bound to respect his flag. 
The Union Jack once unfurled, order would be 
assured. 

He pulled open the lid of the locker and waved 
the flag in the air. Horrors ! From the folds 
of cloth something brown fell with a thud on the 
floor broke took wings and resolved itself into 
the deadliest swarm of stinging yellow hornets 
ever seen this side of Purgatory ! 

That finished the hospital-board question. 
There was a general stampede. With one 
accord the members made for the door. Voss 
made his exit last, flicking frantically at his irate 
foes with the dishonoured flag. The meeting 
was adjourned. 

And now I pray, if any one should be disposed 
to unduly malign those yellow terrors of the island 
jungle let their charitable act in settling Voss's 
electoral hash be taken into consideration, and let 
them be judged leniently. 



42 



CHAPTER V 

MISSIONARY LAW RAHERI'S DIPLOMA 

" On visionary schemes debate 
To snatch the Rajahs from their fate, 
So let them ease their hearts with prate 
Of equal rights." 

JUST lately an event of some importance has 
taken place in Rarotonga viz., the revision of 
the old missionary laws by Mr. Gudgeon. It is 
with misgivings that I touch on the subject at 
all. If there be anything I loathe more than 
anything else in a book of travel it is to come 
across a detailed account of law-codes or political 
questions. To begin with, it has an offensively, 
priggishly learned appearance ; secondly, it is apt 
to be very dry, and the reader who wishes to 
be merely amused, and who naturally makes a 
point of shunning useful or instructive information 
wherever it presents itself, simply skips it, with 
or without a malediction. 

Such were my ideas till I landed in Raro- 
tonga and had the splendours of old missionary 
law revealed to my wondering gaze. My inten- 
tions faltered. My sense of humour was wiser 

43 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

than my head. I decided to lay aside prejudice 
and grip the matter by the beard. It repaid me 
for it was very funny. 

And who made these fantastic old laws? 
Whoever he was, he had a strong appreciation 
of the ridiculous, a scant smattering of pathos, 
and as much ordinary humanity as a mud-dredge. 
Here are a few culled at random from the lot 
Korangi the Avarua weekly paper. 

The first one breathes a stern puritanical 
morality worthy of Gilbert's Mikado. 

" Sec. V. Any one found walking after dark, 
their arm round a woman's waist, without a light 
five days' imprisonment." 

The lantern is the saving element here you 
see maidens take note. 

" Sec. VI. Any one found weeping over the 
grave of a woman not related to him five days' 
imprisonment." 

Sounds a bit apocryphal at first, doesn't it? 
Oh I see of course. No one would be likely 
to weep over a dead black lady unless he and 
she had cherished immoral relations. If the lady 
were your wife you would be allowed to weep all 
right, I fancy but who would weep over a mere 
wife ? 

" Sec. VIII. Consulting a sorcerer three days' 
imprisonment." 

44 



Missionary Law 

There is a bit of egotism here, I fear. It can- 
not be merely for the purpose of discouraging a 
belief in the supernatural for the latter's exis- 
tence is in a way the best excuse for the mis- 
sionary's. No we shall have to cut the matter 
finer. It is a question of monopoly. There is 
only one rightful dealer in supernatural stickjaw 
in the island that is, the missionary. Anything 
else in the same line might mean cessation or 
depression of business. Avaunt ! brother palmist. 
J u ggl er with beads vade retro Sathanas. 

Now come two delicious bits of humour. They 
must be read together : 

"Sec. VII. Illicit intercourse with a married 
woman ten days. 

" Sec. XI. Dynamiting fish in rivers thirty 

i i " 
days! 

This is utilitarianism in its highest sense. 
Dynamited fish are no use to any one, but the 
injured lady, though false, may still be fair, and 
also quite capable of doing her share of work in 
the taro-field. 

Etc., etc. With this impious rubbish staring 
one out of countenance, can the hatred of which 
missionaries have at times been the object be 
wondered at ? Can the covert sneers, the coarse 
jokes, the ridicule with which the trader-element 
loves to cover those who preach the Gospel in 

45 ' 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

the Pacific be merely the outcome of envy or the 
malice of naturally depraved imaginations ? What 
are we to think of the ancient blunderbores who 
framed these laws ? Were they men or devils ? 
To see the faith of Christ inculcated by means of 
bribery and money-gifts is foolish and fantastic 
enough, but oh, it is wicked to see it grafted on 
savages with a poleaxe ! 

Now, after an indecently protracted thirty 
years' squabble, missionary law has been done 
away with, and by an Englishman. May it 
never be revived ! 

There are several schools in the island, but 
only one really important one the Catholic 
mission, superintended by the sisters of St. 
Joseph de Cluny. It is unpretentious in design, 
a long low white-washed building fronting the 
sea, and surrounded, like every Rarotongan 
establishment, with a luxuriant flower-garden. 
It is divided into two wings, one for boys, the 
other for girls. The majority of the pupils seem 
to be of native blood, but there were a few un- 
mistakable half-castes, and one genuine English 
baby of six a white pearl in a necklace of 
black. 

Just lately the school has suffered a loss. One 
of the prettiest and most promising of the pupils 
died of phthisis, under circumstances so peculiarly 

46 




Picking Papa-vas, Rarotonga. 



IP- 



Raheri's Diploma 

pathetic that I cannot refrain from giving them in 
the form of a narrative. 

Raheri was born under an unlucky star. It 
was a shameful case of desertion. For a pure- 
blooded islander this might have been a thing 
of little import, but Raheri's mother was a 
Marquesan half-caste, and quite civilised enough 
to know the sting of neglect. The child found 
herself unloved from birth, and as though the 
mother's woes were working in her blood, grew 
up a wilful, lonely little atom, with a talent for 
dancing in strange sunbeams, and an obstinate 
dislike for human companionship. The neigh- 
bours, on the mother's death, refused to adopt 
her. Vaerua's house had been summarily claimed 
by the owners, and for a few terrible weeks the 
child led a wild life in the jungle. Rarotonga is, 
however, as we have already noticed, not a place 
to starve in. As the rains came down Raheri 
crept back to the village, wilder, more savage, 
more undisciplined than ever. There was a tiny 
shanty of rudely nailed iron in a banana-clearing 
at some little distance behind the mission-school. 
It had really done duty for an outhouse, but now 
they let Raheri occupy it, together with her two 
pets an old yellow torn cat and a disreputable- 
looking sulphur-tailed cockatoo, of both of whom 

47 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

she was inordinately fond. Once Sister Lacey, 
the mild-eyed Irish girl who taught the three r's 
in the long white-washed school-building, chanced 
to pass Raheri's hovel and found the child it 
was during the autumn rains coughing on the 
damp floor. She went back for a rug, and 
Raheri's eyes lit with pleasure as she felt the 
warm fur round her chilled limbs. Then, as the 
sun drew the mists from the low-lying fields of 
taro, her wild distrustful nature came back. She 
balled up the rug and threw it disdainfully out 
into the mud. 

But Sister Lacey persevered. In the end she 
not only won the child's confidence, but actually 
succeeded in persuading her to attend school. 
Raheri didn't take kindly to lessons at first. 
The strange theories of the white people bred 
contempt under that tangled mass of hair with 
its limp flower-wreath. Love can do wonders, 
however, and little by little the child's aversion 
was conquered. Raheri learned to write in a 
great round hand, to spell after a fashion. She 
ceased believing that the sun came out of a hole 
in the sea. She likewise learned that England 
was not a den of unprincipled miscreants, but a 
great and good country, where men that kick 
women are publicly pilloried, and where girls wait 
for teacher's permission before falling in love. 

48 



Raheri's Diploma 

Her manners and costume, too, gained by the 
change. She learned to do up her hair in a ball 
instead of allowing it to hang loose, to omit the 
immodest flower-wreath, to speak without shout- 
ing and when a South Sea girl learns to do 
that, you may take it from me that she is in a fair 
way to becoming civilised. 

It was about this time that Raheri's rough win- 
someness won her an admirer. Harry " Porotia" 
was his name. He was a tiny boy enough, and 
the son of a German trader resident in Raro- 
tonga for his and his country's health. One 
evening he met Raheri in a dark avenue of palms. 
She had been spending her half-holiday gather- 
ing oranges in a hot valley inland, and was in no 
mood for sentiment. The impromptu declaration 
did no manner of good. Raheri boxed the boy's 
ears, and left him sobbing. But this in no way 
cooled Porotia's ardour. He worshipped Raheri 
with all the enthusiasm of his ten summers, and 
was not man enough to conceal the fact. 

With the new year a change came for the 
island. Britannia decreed that Rarotonga must 
have a new Resident. He came from New Zea- 
land in faultless white ducks and gold buttons 
galore. There followed a school-inspection as a 
matter of course, and it brought disaster to Raheri. 

The great man and his two daughters came to 
49 D 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

hear the girls read their lessons. Raheri was 
absent. Some more than usually flagrant piece 
of naughtiness had led to ruptures, and she had 
been peremptorily forbidden to appear in the 
school-house. The ordeal commenced. The 
girls were put on reading one by one. The Resi- 
dent was all attention. 

There was a hurried step on the verandah, and 
a prolonged ah h h of admiration from the 
scholars as something sailed serenely into the 
class-room and dropped defiantly on a seat. 

It was Raheri and she was decked in all the 
panoply of Central-Pacific savagery toe-rings, 
forbidden wreath of tiare, necklace of pine-apple 
seeds, and rattling bangles all complete, and 
horror of horrors ! in her arms yowled and 
blinked the old cat Mau. Miss Lacey came for- 
ward quickly. 

" Raheri ! What do you mean? Go home at 
once ! " 

" Oh, do let her stay, she's so picturesque ! " 
pleaded the youngest daughter, conscious of her 
sketch-book at home. Raheri might have stayed 
but for the next move. One of the scholars, 
deeming the cat an offender, grabbed the animal 
by the tail and tried to pull it back. There was 
an angry snarl and a fuff. Pussy turned and 
struck smartly at the aggressor's hand. Raheri 

50 



Raheri's Diploma 

bounded up, dealt the boy a ringing box on the 
ear, seized the cat, and with a shout of contempt, 
pitched the yellow brute right into the sacred lap 
of the British Resident ! 

The great man started, and the motion was 
too much for the rotten chair. It collapsed, and 
Britain's honoured representative measured his 
length on the floor. 

" Oh, Atua (God)," prayed poor Raheri that 
night in an agony of contrition, "make me a 
better girl, Atua. As good as Miss Lacey." 
Then (as an afterthought), " Better than Miss 
Lacey if you can, Atua." 

Fearful of overtaxing the powers of the Deity, 
Raheri cried herself to sleep. Pardon was many 
days in coming ; but time heals all things, and in 
due course Vaerua's child was again allowed to 
continue her studies. 

The months wore on, and Porotia's boy-love 
ached in silence. He was very small and insignifi- 
cant, and Raheri, save when there was any pilfering 
to be done, hardly found time to notice him. With 
the speeding months, too, came the first footmarks 
of the foe the burning restlessness of the eyes, 
the aggravated fits of coughing, the straining for 
breath in the hot windless nights, when the stars 
quivered dizzily between the ink-splotched palms, 
and the waves were too weary to talk. 

5* 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Not so Raheri. The fire of work had entered 
the wayward little head, and the lithe fingers 
were busy from morning till night. The term 
was drawing to a close, and with it neared the 
great final examination the proudest moment of 
an island-girl's life when the long ribboned certi- 
ficate would be handed her by the teacher, when 
she would step through the school gates the 
plaudits of her classmates in her ears, and woman- 
hood, with its soft mysteries and glorious pro- 
mises, shining on her path in a cloud-land of 
rosy fire. 

Raheri worked but the Grey Things of the 
wilderness, the toupapahus that haunt the swamp 
and rice-field, were beckoning with thin, wasted 
fingers. The child was growing feebler from 
day to day, and the ominous catching of the 
breath as she bent over the long bench struck 
terror to the hearts of the teachers. 

A consultation was held, one hot day on the 
verandah. There was a kindly man waiting to 
interview Raheri as she came from the class-room 
swinging her satchel on her arm, and the verdict 
though delivered w r ith bated breath sent a boy 
who had been hiding behind the flower-bushes 
speeding into the twilight with a storm of sobs. 

Raheri w r as moved from her iron rabbit-hutch 
into the vacant house of a missionary. She was 



Raheri's Diploma 

very pale and thin, and preferred studying full- 
length on a heap of mats to sitting on those long 
hard benches. They would have stopped her 
studies altogether and sent her to hospital, but 
Raheri had the certificate in view, and the 
doctor knew it to be a question of days. 

It only lacked a week to the examination when 
the final warning came the wail of a voice fight- 
ing for air between the lattice and the ringing 
darkness. Miss Lacey spent all the night by the 
sufferer, and next day 

Next day the school set to work on a labour of 
love. The pretty page of snow-white vellum with 
its border of coloured flowers, Raheri's name 
beautiful in its neat lettering and the pendant 
ribbons that set off the whole in a fluttering 
framework. They were short of ribbons in Raro- 
tonga just then, so Miss Lacey tore them from a 
favourite dress of hers, and cried as she did so. 
Work as they would, it was midnight before the 
trophy was finished. The certificate was signed 
and dated. Raheri had not passed the exam., of 
course but there was no time to think of that 
now, and the hearts of the school ached lest the 
Grey Things might claim their own before the 
message of love reached their playmate. 

It was nearly two in the morning when the 
teacher set off for Raheri's dwelling. A score of 

53 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

eager children were waiting to accompany her, 
but Miss Lacey thought it wiser to dismiss them 
and go alone. As she reached the steps of the 
verandah something it might have been an 
animal rose and slunk away in the underbrush. 
She entered the hot room and felt about for a 
light. There was none forthcoming. The oil in 
the lamp had given out, and the match-box was 
empty. Failing, she fell on her knees beside the 
couch, and with a burst of tender words put the 
certificate into Raheri's wasted hands. 

It was some moments before the child under- 
stood her happiness. When she did, life returned 
momentarily in a flood of joy. 

" Eha !" she said with a quick gasp of delight, 
" but it is broad and decked with splendid ribbons 
like Dolly Mapue's of a truth I can feel the 
lettering. Would it were day ! Stay with me, 
Sister Lacey." 

" I shall stay, Raheri dear." 

A paroxysm of gasping and coughing inter- 
rupted her. The child struggled for breath, and 
her thin fingers closed like a vice on the teacher's 
hand. Recovering, she took the roll of paper and 
pressed it again and again to her lips. 

" Would it were light ! " she wailed ; " it is dark 
here so dark, and the night has been so long. 
Is the dawn coming, Sister Lacey ? " 

54 



Raheri's Diploma 

" It is coming, Raheri dear fast." Fast in- 
deed. The howling waters have well-nigh shat- 
tered the frail skiff. It is all but sinking. From 
outside, the roar of the sea came to them faintly 
through the inter-crossing palm stems. The Grey 
Things were very near now. 

" Raheri can you say a prayer, do you think ? " 

The thin lips moved but made no sound. 
The teacher bent till her face almost touched the 
matted, damp hair, and whispered some words in 
the child's ear. 

" E tuu noa te tamarii Raheri, darling, speak 
to me." 

" E tuu noa te tamarii " 

" E haere mai " 

" E haere mai " 

And then, while the strong woman knelt and 
wept, the frail child clinging to those fair words of 
promise as a drowning man to a spar glided out 
into the sleep that knows no waking till the dark- 
ness gives place to everlasting light. 

When, on the following morning the two 
Kanaka mutes came to bear away the tiny body, 
the foot of one trod a draggled bunch of violets 
that had been lying all night on the steps 
where the boy-love of Porotia had breathed its 
humble and last farewell. 

55 



CHAPTER VI 

THE ISLE OF FAIR WOMEN 
" Where summer years and summer women smile." 

WE left Rarotonga in a hurry. It is part of a 
Union skipper's profession to be in a hurry all 
zeal as Mr. Midshipman Easy found his superior 
officer's blasphemy. 

We are now fairly in the tropics. Whatever 
may be the case in other parts of the world, the 
change of climate on this particular run is sudden 
enough to be very funny. 

It is the eighteenth parallel that does the trick. 
One goes to sleep dreaming of cool breezes and rain 
one wakes to find the crew in white ducks, and 
the butter running like paraffin. The wind, too, 
has taken on a more sultry feel, and the violent 
orange glare seems to have calmed the waves 
down to the consistency of oil. In the engine- 
room the stokers are beginning to weep, and 
when you take your morning's constitutional the 
liquefied pitch of the deck-seams sticks to the 
soles of your tennis-shoes and trips you up. The 
eighteenth is the most playful of parallels. 

56 



The Isle of Fair Women 

An odd 300 miles of sea separates the Society 
Islands from the Cook Archipelago. Moorea is 
the first to appear the shadowiest of shadows on 
the eastern horizon so vague and evanescent that 
they might well pass for clouds. Union officers 
make poor liars, however. As you are girding 
up your loins to doubt the fact of any land being 
visible, the dark bank ahead splits up into a 
collection of blue pinnacles so weird and un- 
practical-looking as to pass for the dream of a 
delirious absintheur rather than the staid and 
sober result of natural laws. 

One of the peaks has a remarkable defect. It 
is perforated close to its summit an undeniable 
tunnel chiselled as neatly in the wind-scoured 
rock as though the primaeval architect had done 
it with dynamite and stone-chisel. 

The tunnel has its legend. Rumour says that 
some island-hero threw his spear through the 
peak in a fit of well boredom. Si non e vero, 
e ben trovato. History does not relate what this 
fellow's name was, nor to what particular scandal 
he owed his reputation. One thing only is certain 
about him he was a very bad hero indeed. 
None but a thoroughly bad deity could ever 
have done a piece of work like that. Good 
deities never work. It takes them all their time 
to be good. This is why, in Ireland, the Devil 

57 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

claims all the punch-bowls, in Germany the pol- 
tergeist all the historic villas, in Scandinavia Loki 
all the earthquakes, and in India Shiva all the 
brains. Strange, but true. 

And now Moorea is on our beam a diabolical 
silhouette framed in the yellow of the sinking 
sun. Voices are answering each other from the 
bridge. There comes the clang of hidden bells. 
Stand by ! You rush to the other side of the 
ship and lo ! Tahiti, the nouvelle Cythere of 
Bougainville, the " island of beautiful women " 
of the old explorer De Quiros, lies before us in 
her bridal veil of cloud, reef-girdled, her haughty 
diadem of mountains bathed in the magic of the 
rising moon a Queen of the Sea, faint and 
voluptuous as the breath from her own flower- 
chalices. 

As we near the shore the isolated forms of 
women are visible under the dark trees a 
shadowy counterpoise to the white reflections of 
the vessels anchored in the harbour. The sound 
of the cathedral bell mingles weirdly with the 
clank of the capstan, and the faint twinkle of the 
shore-lamps is drowned in warm gusts of steam 
from the winches. 

There is no trace of a pier. The Ovalau 
simply draws up along the crescent of coral, 
whose grassy fringe comes right down to the 

58 



The Isle of Fair Women 

water's edge. There was a motley crowd as- 
sembled on the bank, and the adjustment of the 
gangway was the signal for an army of girls to 
tumble on board. I had long heard of the pro- 
verbial skittishness of Tahitian ladies, and was 
prepared to find a rampaging army of fiends. I 
fell to scrutinising them curiously much as Par- 
sifal might have scrutinised the flower-maidens. 
I rubbed my eyes. How quiet they were how 
demure ! No noisy tin-kettly Americanisms here 
no racy Austrylian chaff, no not even a 
wink or a Society smile. Willowy sedateness, 
the dignity of island-womanhood haloed in its 
own cigarette smoke the modesty of Niobe 
untouched by the censuring eye of the Lord 
Chamberlain strolling to and fro under the soft 
electrics, with barely a look or a gathering-in of 
the skirts to acknowledge your presence the 
dear innocents ! 

There, that will do. Why why did I not 
vanish downstairs before the fair vision fled ? 
Why should that extra five minutes' curiosity 
have brought about such a fell awakening ? 

Alas ! I had still to learn the truth of the adage, 
Est modus in rebus. There was a sudden flash 
of light in the engine-room doorway ; a brawny 
sailor, his bare arms streaked with coal-dust, 
sprang out on deck, and walking unceremoniously 

59 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

up to the nearest girl, caught that demure damsel 

round the waist, and 

Let us draw the curtain. After all my poetry 
too ! You naughty, treacherous, deceitful little 
minx. Not a scream, not a word of rebuke, not 
a single solitary quiver of outraged modesty. 
Alas for my ideals ! 

" Oh shame, oh sorrow, and oh womankind ! " 

Papeete (from Pape-ete, a basket of water) is 
by no means a representative South Sea capital. 
It is second only to Honolulu in jumbledom. 
Within the few square miles composing the dis- 
trict are stuffed heterogeneous colonies of China- 
men, Atiu islanders, Mangaians, Marquesans, 
&c. The European element is nearly as mixed 
as the native, and the weird way in which each 
section of the social element has contrived to 
absorb the nationality of the next imparts a 
flavour of gummy fraternity to the whole. When 
we come to look into social matters in detail, 
we shall see how this works. Viewed from the 
harbour the town presents the appearance of a 
straggling collection of villas, a row of pointed- 
roofed warehouses, and a sea of green and red 
foliage, with the white cathedral spire topping 
everything like a toothpick. 

The following morning being Sunday I had 
a good opportunity of seeing the town in its best 

60 




I- 



The Isle of Fair Women 

dress. Even as London has its Row, New York 
its Fifth Avenue, Venice its Rialto, and Mel- 
bourne its Block, so Papeete has its market. 
The fashionable hour is a godless one 5 A.M. 
but it is your only chance of salvation. You must 
make the best of it. All the islands are in fact 
at their loveliest before sunrise. 

The sun was fringing the top of Orofena 
which stands out above the town like a mon- 
strous blue shark-fin as I passed up the lane 
of sycamores to where instinct and the hum of 
voices told me the market was placed. Right 
and left were Chinese stores, with strings of 
pendant drapery and piled-up bars of soap. 
Farther on there was an eating-house, where 
two industrious Chows were rattling their beads 
(Chinamen use the abacus to count with), and a 
score of lively ladies in pink were absorbing 
coffee in an atmosphere of fried bread and coco- 
nut oil. I was in the market. 

It is an oblong square shaded by sycamores 
and scarlet flamboyants, and set off in the centre 
by a shabby green tank half filled with duck- 
weed. On one side is the Mairie, a low building 
of wood with a fine display of plate-glass ; on the 
other a row of open pillared sheds an obvious 
plagiarism of the Paris Halles where fish are 
being sold in strings. 

61 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

How paint the strange effects of colouring 
the scarlet-blossomed covering of trees, the rows 
of gaily dressed women squatting behind heaps 
of exotic fruits, the bunches of parti-coloured fish 
dangling from poles, the fantastically painted 
signs above the Chinamen's stores, the rows of 
tiny flags (it is some festival day), and over all 
the pale gold of the early sun and the dreamy 
blue of the mountains ! 

There are about five hundred people collected, 
I should judge. The general scheme of the 
costumes resembles that of Rarotonga though a 
trifle more elaborate. The flowing skirt of pale 
blue or pink, the dark trailing hair, the necklace 
of berries, and the hat of thinnest straw with the 
wreath of delicately scented flowers twisted round 
the brim. Amiability is the rule here especially 
towards the stranger. Three sailors in blue 
calico with square collars greet me good-morning. 
A pretty girl carrying a scarlet fish by a string 
grins suggestively. I am admiring the artificial 
straw flowers on her hat, and she is fully con- 
scious of the fact. A Kanaka passes smiling 
with a heavy basket marketing for his wife at 
home like a dutiful husband. Then come three 
girls arm in arm. One of them wickedly jogs 
my elbow. "Hallo, mis' nary" (missionary), she 

says. 

62 



The Isle of Fair Women 

Incidentally I learn that "missionary" is the 
term of contempt or approval applied to any 
young man whose morals are above listening to 
the overtures of Tahitian beauty. This argues 
well for the missionaries, although some people 
say well, never mind. 

Here one may get acquainted with a few of 
the local celebrities. M. Cardella, mayor of 
Papeete ; Prince Hinoi Pomar, the sole sur- 
viving something-or-other ; the Branders, univer- 
sity men and cousins of the late queen ; M. Rey, 
the governor, in his dog-cart and a host of 
female celebrities of all shades of morality and 
colour. A goodly percentage of the latter are 
demurely bargaining for coco-nuts, while others, 
leaning coquettishly against the railings, appear 
to be more juventutis simply flirting. Every 
township under the sun has its perihelion of 
giddiness, but yours, O lovely Papeete, begins 
earlier than any of them. 

And how magnificently the streets of this same 
Papeete lend themselves to pictorial effect ! Verily, 
all styles of art are here represented. The scheme 
of things lends itself to the brush of all the masters. 
The long leafy crypts belted with yellow shafts of 
sunlight might have haunted the mind of a Rem- 
brandt. Among the tiny cottages with their 
broad flower-decked verandahs and army of 

63 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

strutting fowls, Hokusai might find congenial 
inspiration. Your picture builds itself gradually, 
the product of a new, ever-changing impression- 
ism, and you dream of lacquered tea-work till the 
drifting smoke of a bonfire mills the colours in 
transparent fog, and lo ! you have a Whistler. 

Besides being the most picturesque, Papeete is 
likewise the shadiest capital extant. Not a street 
is devoid of its double row of trees, which meet 
overhead to form a sort of leafy cloister impervious 
to the very hottest sunshine. And who planted 
these trees ? Certainly not the French. Nor 
yet the Pomares, whose disused and dishonoured 
palace in the Rue de Rivoli is now a depository 
for empty packing-cases and decadent sweetmeat- 
vendors. Who then ? The trees are manifestly 
old the gnarled giants of the Fautaua avenue, 
for instance, can count quite three hundred sum- 
mers and Tahitian history (luckily for the 
Tahitian schoolboy) doesn't reach back as far. 
Who built the tombs of Easter Island ? Who 
built the Sphinx, the Colossus of Rhodes, the 
pyramids of Colhuacan ? Ask of the winds. For 
the men that fought at Minden were pilgrims 
through the unborn seas of time when the ancient 
line of kings sowed the foundations of those grand 
avenues. Their names are lost to posterity. They 
have died and made no sign. 

64 



The Isle of Fair Women 

Shelter for the man, a stable for the horse. We 
must see about housekeeping details. Let us go 
and consult Mr. Raoulx. He is a very amiable 
obliging old fellow and one of the political props 
of Papeete. Yes, a friend of his, Madame D., 
has several houses on her hands. No doubt she 
will accommodate us. But mind no noise after 
10 P.M. The Papeete police are a bloodthirsty 
lynx-eyed set of miscreants, and longing to put 
an Englishman in prison. 

We start off along the shady street to where, 
behind the closed lattices of a tall modern-look- 
ing house, Madame D.'s daughter is practising 
a Czerny exercise on her piano. Yes, for fifty 
francs a month the house is ours. Madame D. 
likewise informs us that she never (with a capital 
N) prys into or occupies herself with what goes 
on at people's houses. This means we can be as 
wicked as we like which is charming. 

House rent is not dear in Tahiti, you see, and 
the "remittance man," as Society so prettily terms 
him, can live, for a very small sum, monarch of 
all he surveys. This usually includes a four- 
roomed cottage with latticed verandah, an out- 
house with a water-tap which acts at intervals, 
and a garden fifteen yards square, with bastard 
coffee-bushes and mangoes. Plaited pandanus, 
the time-honoured roof-thatch of the Pacific, has 

65 E 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

gone out of fashion, and in many houses the 
abominable iron contrivance has crept in instead. 
Unless one is lucky enough to get under the 
shade of a branching tree this simply means get- 
ting roasted out. Don't look too closely at things. 
Tahitian architecture is essentially slipshod, and 
the majority of the doors won't shut. This doesn't 
matter, however, as money is not very valuable in 
the Societies, and no one will bother to steal it. 

In fact, money, as a means of getting what one 
wants, is almost unknown in Papeete. Kanakas 
cannot be paid to work. You will find this out 
soon enough when you try to engage servants. 
To any one who has been merely brought up in 
the ordinary way, among the niggardly, hardly 
earned fleshpots of Europe, the problem of living 
entirely without an occupation of any kind is 
naturally apt to be a stickler. Yet one need 
not go as far as Tahiti to find such a state of 
things. I remember once while touring through 
Italy (it was in Naples) I tried to engage a porter 
to carry my trunk from the boat to the hotel. I 
was told porters were always to be had on the 
landing for a small sum. I went down to -the 
quay. Sure enough, a dozen picturesque raga- 
muffins were lolling in the sun. I timidly stirred 
one of them up and stated my requirements. The 

man looked me over from head to foot, grunted, 

66 



The Isle of Fair Women 

passed his hand weakly over his stomach, 
and 

" I have eaten," he said with a smile. 

And as the Neapolitans are, so are the Kanakas. 
No Kanaka will work unless he is hungry, and 
as bread-fruit and faies are common property in 
this lovely island, the chance of such a favourable 
state of things turning up is rare. Just suggest 
to that lanky chocolate-coloured individual lying 
so nonchalantly on the grass with his straw hat 
turned over his eyes, that he should come and be 
your bond-slave for pay ! He has the Neapolitan 
independence and the pride of a Spaniard from 
Aragon balled together in his fell carcass. Try 
a girl. Here, if you are a young man and a pro- 
fessional lover of the sex, you will probably be 
more successful. Even then she will " size you 
up " before accepting your offer, as a booky sizes 
a race-horse, and should the cut of your coat or 
the colour of your eyes displease her woe ! You 
will have to do your sweeping yourself. 

Kanaka servants are the most unsatisfactory 
on earth. Time, place, the binding power of a 
promise are alike dead letters to them. The only 
thing that goes regularly about them is their 
tongue. They are the champion scandal-mong- 
ers of creation. Hardly have one's toes touched 

the grass of Papeete quay than the news of one's 

67 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

arrival, and the possible complications which may 
or may not have led to it, become public property. 
Good report spreads slowly, but bad flies like 
wild-fire. Within four hours of your landing one 
will be credited with having deserted one's wife, 
conspired against the British Government, burned," 
forged, stolen, murdered all the horrors of a dis- 
eased savage imagination. There is no use in 
objecting. It is part of the programme. 

When the late British Consul, Mr. Hawes, 
reached Papeete for the first time, he made ac- 
quaintance with this unpleasant fact. The Con- 
sulate is a very pretty villa, with neat iron railings 
and hanging creeper-fronds. Hawes entered it 
gaily. Besides being an English Consul, he had 
a hobby. He was an amateur musician of sorts, 
and loved playing on the trombone. That 
evening a crowd collected outside the Consulate, 
and Hawes's chromatics being misconstrued, a 
report became bruited about Papeete that her 
Majesty's representative was in the habit of sacri- 
ficing pigs to the setting sun a very cannibalistic 
proceeding. Twenty-four hours later a friend 
found Hawes sitting thoughtfully on an empty canoe 
looking at the sea. Explanation was unnecessary. 

" Come, come, my dear fellow," said the friend, 
" we've all got to put up with these little griev- 
ances." 

68 



The Isle of Fair Women 

" I wont put up with them," contended 
Hawes. 

" What are you going to do ? " 

" Build a wall round the Consulate." 

Hawes was as good as his word. The trom- 
bone episode was explained away, and when next 
Papeete sought a pretext for scandal it was com- 
pelled to draw entirely on its imagination. 



CHAPTER VII 

CHINAMEN MILITARY " VI ET ARMIS" 

" And in that city every clime and age 
Jumbled together." 

The Princess. 

Now we have got our house. Food will be the 
next difficulty. A man who values life and its 
blessings should never try housekeeping in Tahiti. 
Kanaka service makes people prematurely old. 
A couple of restaurants engineered by French- 
men offer decent fare. Should the food in the 
said establishments displease one, there is, as last 
resource, the Chinaman's. 

There are three hundred Chinamen in Papeete. 
Their arrival was a romance in itself. Forty 
years ago, when the great Atimaono cotton plan- 
tation was in full swing, the speculators cast about 
for labour, and, recognising the uselessness of 
expecting anything from the Kanaka population, 
hit upon the plan of importing Chinamen from 
Tonkin. The idea was a luminous one, and 
regally carried out. Three hundred Chows, each 
sitting on his own tea-chest, were carted Tahiti- 

70 




. f 



Chinamen 

wards and dumped ashore on the quay to work, 
sin, and suffer " allee same Clistian." 

For a while things went swimmingly. The 
cotton-trade forged ahead, the Chows were con- 
tent with their wages, and the easy life was 
congenial to them. Then came the crash. War 
broke out in America, and cotton fell to zero. 
The Chinamen were thrown out of work. Had 
they been Kanakas they would have solaced 
themselves playing accordions, or dancing hoolas. 
But the wily Celestial is made of more dogged 
stuff. The unemployed Chinaman took matters 
by the beard, built houses, washed, traded, and 
established stores. Among the indolent, lotus- 
eating crowd they rapidly became a power, and 
at present two-thirds of the commerce of the 
island is directly or indirectly controlled by them. 

Where would Papeete be without the Chow ? 
Whether it is a scratch meal, a straw hat, a 
packet of cigarettes, a pareo to cover one's un- 
dress beauty, or (for matrimonial agencies are not 
unknown even in these flower-girt isles) a wife 
nine cases in ten, the Chinaman is one's best 
friend. 

He is gentle, affable, scrupulously honest. 
Nay, he even has a trick of giving overweight, 
which, to those who are used to the dealings of 
the superior and cultivated Eurasian, is a per- 

7 1 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

petual source of surprise. As a restaurateur he 
has qualities of his own. If he were just a little 
more cleanly in his habits, a little less addicted to 
mixing soot, dish-rag, and chewed cigar-stumps 
with his viands, John would make a very toler- 
able host. His temples are not on a gorgeous 
scale. Let us enter one of them Yet Lee's 
in the neighbourhood of the market. It is a 
damp, vaulty place, set with rows of ghostly 
tables and spotty table-cloths. A pile of newly 
baked loaves is reposing on a dresser among an 
interesting assortment of bottles and dirty soup- 
plates. A score of French sailors and longshore- 
men are noisily rattling their forks at the far end 
of the vault. Three Kanakas are moodily loafing 
round the door. What are you going to get to 
eat ? The earthy smell pervades everything. 
You stare idly (it is wonderful how soon the 
climate begins to tell even on the most energetic) 
at the half-filled bottles of claret not above 
suspicion of watering the diminutive cold-cream 
pots full of milk, the slices of purple taro, and the 
plates of water-cress among the chatties and 
broken-stoppered vinegar-cruets. 

Hulloa ! A vahine in pink, her hat coquettishly 
smothered in straw embroidery, takes her seat 
opposite you, smiling sweetly. You are lucky if 
she doesn't ask you to pay for her lunch, for 

72 




Marketing, Papeete. 



[A 72. 



Chinamen 

modesty in such trifling matters is a vice un- 
known, and the timid man is at a vast discount 
in the Islands. 

Chinamen are a hard-working set of sufferers. 
Look at that almond-eyed, lotus-worshipping son 
of Confucius yonder him they call " Kitty." 
There are few girlish suggestions about his 
antique, be-raddled, cloth-draped, pig-tailed home- 
liness only the quavering cynicism of a mind 
that has known better days, and the wrinkles of 
a thousand lonely miseries. 

" Kitty, darling Kitty, dear boy aita te 
waina ? " (lit. is there no wine ?) The meal 
commences. A cool draught from the dripping 
gutter outside mingles with the wavy motion of 
the street and the gleam of piled flour-sacks in 
the store opposite. Two cutlets swimming in 
grease make their appearance a plate of salad 
with the marks of Kitty's celestial thumb festoon- 
ing the edge like lacework, a small soap-dish 
containing squash and a couple of pancakes made 
from a disused bicycle-tire. 

If you are fastidious you can eke out the meal 
with rice and chili vinegar a cheerful respite 
from those dread cutlets anyhow you can con- 
sole yourself with the reflection that while the 
activity of sight-seeing lasts, indigestion is not 
likely to set in. 

73 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Addio, Kitty. The cost of our visit is but 
twenty cents (7d.), and it has given us an 
insight into the utility of the Chow, which we 
won't forget in a hurry. 

Besides his utilitarian talents, the Chinaman 
also has his romaritic side. These "Tinitos" 
are confirmed woman-killers. The most raddled, 
mouldy, coppery, elephant- hided, rat-tailed of 
them can command his " posse " of sweethearts. 
They are the policemen of Polynesia. 

With what ingenuous presents of scraps of 
silk, cigarettes, cakes of soap, and tiny paper 
fans are they ready to charm the heart of Terii 
or Tumata ! The peculiar cast of mind of the 
Tahitian vahine, shaping itself, as it does, on the 
existing circumstances and requirements of her 
brush-clad island, assures easy conquest to the 
Chow. Her ignorance of money is the vahine's 
weakness and glory. What chance has a mere 
Englishman with a rent-roll of ,10,000 a year 
against that urbane smile that advances to the 
siege of Terii's heart with a two-dollar dress for 
grapnel and a pocketful of cigarettes for scaling- 
ladder? None whatever. In fact, if you happen 
to possess a friend who imagines himself a 
woman-killer and needs taking down send him 
to Tahiti. It doesn't matter who he is send 
him to Tahiti. He will get taken down all right. 

74 



Chinamen 

And the last state of that man will be better than 
the first. 

Chinamen in Papeete also play the role of 
barbers. In the Rue de Petit-Pologne (how 
strangely incongruous these idiotic French names 
sound !) there is quite a colony of these worthies. 
Their stock-in-trade is inexpensive but con- 
vincing. Almost the sole furniture is a gaudy 
gold-framed mirror, a rickety washstand, and a 
pile of greasy New York papers to pass the time 
while your tormentor skins you. I once got 
shaved at a Chinaman's. I did it for the sake 
of an experience which I got. The price was 
microscopic, five cents including doing your hair. 
It was very interesting at first, and there was a 
breezy sans-gene about the rakes of High-Kee's 
razor which lulled my soul into sympathetic non- 
chalance. He finished shaving me, and started 
to do my hair. He produced a comb. I eyed 
it mistrustfully. It was long, yellow, with half 
its teeth missing, and the remainder choked with 
the accumulated sweepings of a million infidel 
scalps. A weird chuckle came from the door, 
where a committee of Kanaka loafers were ap- 
parently enjoying the scene. I turned to rebuke 
one of them, and as I did so I saw something on 
his head that made me shrink up like a telescope. 
I rose from my chair and prepared to depart. 

75 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

I told him he needn't mind combing my hair. I 
explained that I was in the habit of going about 
untidy rather liked it, in fact. He said that 
would make two cents less. I said I would be 
generous and overlook the fact. I paid him the 
full five cents, and from that day to this High- 
Kee doesn't see me passing his shop without 
salaaming. He thinks me the noblest of beings. 

But hark! the cry is "soldiers." Was there 
ever a country where the military are not adored ? 
The curious faces of almond-eyed ladies peer 
through the lattices. In the eating-houses the 
vahines desert their plates of taro, wipe their 
brown fingers in the table-cloth, and hurry out to 
get a view. Here they come a squadron or so, 
all told, neat and tidy in their white helmets, but 
with a certain unshavenness about the chin, and 
a certain hang-dog stoop in the shoulders that 
our own Tommies would rise above. A decent, 
orderly set of men on the whole, with their baby 
officer strutting in front like a gamecock. A 
little bit of France in miniature. 

Papeete is, in fact, a fortified city. The small 
sluggish stream dividing it from its disreputable 
suburb Patutoa is lined with baby ramparts. 
What are they there for? ^sthetically speak- 
ing, smothered as they are in hibiscus and flower- 
ing ti-tree, they are very pretty. Strategically, 



Military u Vi et Armis" 

about as effective as a towel-horse. But they are 
only on a par with the rest of the idea. Not for 
one blissful instant are you permitted to forget 
the atmosphere of militarism that hangs over the 
island. The very landing-stage, where old dis- 
used cannon take the place of mooring-posts, 
breathes mute remembrance of former conflicts. 
In the dim hours of the morning it is the call of 
trumpets, echoing with Wagnerian suggestions 
across the glassy water, that rouses you from 
slumber. In the afternoons there are marchings, 
counter -marchings, bugle -practice in the leafy 
nullahs where the banana-fronds fight the lantana 
as certain upright souls combat parasites hope- 
lessly. Through the sunny vista of trees you 
catch the flash of gun wheels and the distant bark 
of commando. At the foot of the soft hills that 
lead away under their mantle of green to the still 
blue cloudland of Orofena, loom two portentous 
barracks. The French model has been closely 
followed, and but for tropical suggestions of 
foliage we might imagine ourselves in Neuilly 
or Meudon. The same stiff railings, magisterial- 
looking sentry-boxes, green shutters, scarlet-tiled 
roofs, and square gate-pillars plastered with official 
"annonces." Yet Tahiti is in no danger of 
assault. Neither is there anything to be feared 
from internal revolution. The Kanakas will 

77 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

never be so foolish as to revolt. The very 
meanest accordion-playing, wife-beating, work- 
fearing, hymn-singing of them could not be so 
blind to his interests as all that. Is there any 
country on the face of the earth where the law of 
the usurper plays into the hands of the natives in 
such brotherly fashion ? I doubt it. French law 
is as beautifully drawn up for the protection and 
emolument of the Papeete market-contingent as 
it is for the confusion and overthrow of the weird 
industriously minded foreigner. The Kanaka is 
required to do anything but work. There is no 
species of land-tax. Bread-fruit and faies are 
common property, and people live on tick to an un- 
limited extent. Lotus-eating in any form pleases 
the authorities amazingly. As soon as the Kanaka 
has got to the end of his pasture there will be a 
kindly gendarme waiting round the corner to take 
him by the hand and lead him to a new one. It 
is the dream of a Watteau materialised, a Sevres- 
china idyl in pareos and kharki it is Tahiti. 

No, there is no danger to be feared in Papeete 
from internal rioting, but from without there 
seems just the slenderest possible likelihood of 
its being stolen one day or another. Not that 
there is any particular reason why any one should 
want to steal it. On the contrary, it would un- 
doubtedly pay best to leave lovely Tahiti alone. 

78 



Military "Vi et Arm is ' : 

But some countries love stealing for fun. And 
this brings us to the history of the most comical 
military episode of recent years, the Fashoda 
scare. It was brought under my notice in the 
following manner : 

I had been lunching at the Louvres Hotel with 
a friend a Mr. De Smidt and had driven out 
to his country-place, three miles from Papeete, to 
bathe and spend the afternoon. On reaching his 
house my host shouted for the servant to take 
charge of the horse. No one appeared. On 
investigating matters we found the man a lanky 
Kanaka named Tipuna asleep under a spread- 
ing mango in the garden. We stirred him up, 
and persuaded him to take charge of the horse. 
He consented grumblingly, but presently on 
coming from our bathe we found him asleep 
again this time under a rose-bush. I was a bit 
startled, but De Smidt was all sweetness. He 
re-issued his orders for the horse's welfare, and 
escorted me into the house. An hour later we 
were roused from our scientific and literary con- 
versazione by the wheezing sound of a Kanaka 
melody executed at some little distance in the 
garden. We reconnoitred, and found Tipuna 
sitting on a tree-stump playing the concertina to 
an audience of one nut-brown scullery-maid, three 
cows, and a Brahma hen. 

79 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

" Great Scott ! " said I petrified, " do these fel- 
lows ever work ? " 

" Sometimes," said my host smiling. " Tipuna 
once worked for a week." 

"Is that possible ? " 

"It does seem funny but there was a girl con- 
cerned in it, and Come and have a whisky 

and soda and I'll tell you all about it." 



80 



CHAPTER VIII 

A FASHODA IDYLL 

" Tahiti never did and never shall 
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror." 

King John (French edition). 

HER name was Terii Areva, but Terii for short 
is all that it is necessary to memorise. From 
a strictly European point of view she was not 
beautiful, but to Tipuna's eyes she appeared 
divine. His soul clave to Terii in love. 

Terii's people objected to the match. Her 
father was the hard-working foreman of a vanilla- 
curing establishment in Papara, and the financial 
status of his would-be son-in-law was not to his 
liking. Tipuna did not care for work. He took 
odd jobs when they presented themselves with 
credentials, and deserted them in a gentlemanly 
manner on pay-day when the accumulated wealth 
of dollars offered prospect of a prolonged loaf. 
At night Tipuna used to issue forth like a butter- 
fly from its chrysalis, and a scarlet flower stuck 
behind his ear, play the accordion on the stone 
rim of the market fountain, while the vahines 

81 F 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

wriggled and jabbered approval, and the melon- 
sellers deserted their tables to throw in an occa- 
sional chorus. 

But Terii's father had no ear for music. Tipuna 
must work, or hang up and quit. Terii divined 
this was no mere jest. She slumped down on the 
mat and wept. 

Let Tipuna prove himself capable of even one 
week's honest work and she was his. Terii 
screamed and clawed the matting with her nails. 
Her Eden seemed unapproachable. Nevertheless 
it came, as follows : 

It began with the hoisting of the tricolor flag 
on the Nile and Major Marchand's refusal to 
move. Dame Rumour had exaggerated things 
with her usual thoughtfulness, and in Papeete 
people's nerves had been on a quiver for some 
time past. An awful prodigy of some kind was 
expected, and it only needed the ravings of a 
couple of silver-braided French naval officers to 
set matters by the ears. 

Lying in the harbour, in all her majesty of 
brass and new paint, was the Republican steam 
schooner Aubrevilliers. One evening, an hour 
after the bang of the six o'clock gun had startled 
the pigeons from the neighbouring lumber-yards, 

one of the ship's lieutenants, having ascended the 

82 




Terii Areva. 



[/>. 82. 



A Fashoda Idyll 

bridge to take an observation, reported lights on 
the horizon. 

A homely band of natives may have been fish- 
ing by torchlight, or some naughty boys may have 
kindled a fire on the dark limits of Moorea reef. 
No matter. Rumour had done its work. Within 
fifteen minutes the whole town knew that the long- 
expected catastrophe was at hand. The English 
were descending on Tahiti ! The whole island 
was going to be murdered in its bed ! 

The gasoline launch panted hurriedly ashore. 
The major portion of the officials were either 
sleeping under their virtuous mosquito-curtains 
or shaking for drinks at the felt-topped tables of 
the Cercle Militaire. The stampede commenced. 
Bugles tooted at each other along the leafy tunnel 
of the Rue de Rivoli ; from her verandah the 
scared proprietress of the Louvres Hotel saw the 
gaunt shapes of white-robed squadrons defiling 
under the sycamores. 

The Aubrevilliers was possessed of some 
twenty guns. Fronting the volcanic trident of 
Moorea lay the little palm-dot of Motu-Iti with 
its embryo fort and baby powder-magazine. The 
long shingle-roofed coal stores of Fareute were 
full of precious combustible. There was also a 
little matter of ^"70,000 in the treasury which 
needed attending to. 

83 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

The bugles sounded again in an ever-increas- 
ing crescendo of viciousness. Under the trees 
of the market the army of Papeete virtue was 
dancing the hoola-hoola. The news came and 
they scattered. Trembling fingers dropped their 
pennies while bargaining for melons. The melon- 
sellers forgot themselves, gave correct change, 
and fled like hiving bees. Along the length of 
the beach-road, from Taone to Papara, beneath 
the shade of the Fautaua avenue, across the 
palm-embossed cane-fields of Patutoa, swept that 
fell bugle-signal. The startled forms of women, 
crushed coronets of tiard hemming their oily hair, 
flashed to life under the torches of the soldiery. 
The roads were choked. " Ua rohia tatou ati " 
(trouble is coming) wailed the females. From 
the pretty creeper-clad villas, back of the cathedral, 
frightened mothers emerged to hurry their off- 
springs off to places of safety to the convent 
of the Holy Sisters in its deep grove of palm, 
to Vienot's with its flaming Bougainvillia, to the 
Carmelites, choked in a maze of dusty coffee- 
bushes. 

The Aubrevilliers was lying some little dis- 
tance from the shore. Now her anchor was got 
up and two hawsers tautened in the moonlight 
as she edged inch by inch up to the line of grass 
and coral. Her guns had to be unshipped and 

84 



A Fashoda Idyll 

disposed where they could be worked to better 
advantage against the invader than from her old- 
fashioned carriages. A stone's-throw behind the 
artillery barracks, on a ridge of red ochreous 
soil, rose a long platform commanding the major 
portion of the town and lagoon. The guns were 
to be moved thither. Rails of steel were brought 
and laid in position. The guns were hoisted and 
made fast on trucks of riveted iron. As the dawn 
yellowed the peaks of Moorea, they looked out 
from the fringe of red earth like so many bee- 
stings a truly formidable armament. The man 
of artillery felt pleased. 

With the day the gasoline launch returned. 
She had been fussing outside the reef all night 
in the hope of finding the English fleet and defy- 
ing it. The spray had spattered her neat brass 
funnel, and the salt bitterness had eaten its way 
into the hearts of her crew. They were angry 
and sea-sick. The enemy had not turned up. 

But the captain of artillery worked on. Counter- 
feited energy is often as effective as the genuine 
article. Should reports of his valour reach Paris 
it might mean the Legion of Honour and a dozen 
other shadowy titles. His wife would drive a 
"carosse" in the Bois. She would cultivate a 
society smile, and the catlike way of saying 
"my dear" peculiar to petticoated celebrity. She 

85 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

would see her afternoons chronicled in the Figaro, 
and pretty fair-haired debutantes would grow green 
under their layer of Cr2me Simon. 

The bugle tootled relentlessly along the Taone 
road and up the winding pass leading to the de- 
nies of Fautaua, where a rushing ribbon of water 
binds earth to heaven over an eight hundred foot 
precipice. The summit of the precipice really 
marks the site of an ancient fort, for years con- 
sidered the most impregnable position of the 
island. The way up is anything but easy, and 
to further unsettle things a roaring torrent veins 
the valley at its deepest gulf. The captain of 
artillery decided that the river must be bridged, 
and at once. 

Labour in Tahiti is none too easily secured. 
There were a hundred and fifty soldiers, it is 
true, but they were either busied in the fortifica- 
tions or in stropping their swords for the expected 
fray. The sergeants hurried off through the leafy 
compounds of Mangaia-town, Atiu-town clear 
away from Haapape to Faaa. Labour must be 
got at any price, even if they had to whack it to 
life with the flat of their swords. 

Tipuna, the love-lorn, had gone to sleep on 
an overdose of orange rum and was in no mood 
for parley. Nevertheless the recruiting-sergeant 
had winning manners. A dollar a day was not 

86 




Fautcnia Valley. 



I p. 86. 



A Fashoda Idyll 

to be despised, and with luck he might manage 
to evade the really trying portion of the work. 

The seedy army of pink-shirted, straw-hatted 
men moved forward by forced marches to where 
the river roared under its overhanging fronds of 
green. The valley rang with the thumps of the 
pile-driver and the execrations of the foremen. 
Shafts were sunk in the ooze, and logs of rimau 
driven into the openings. In the meantime, from 
higher up the hill where the banana-fronds thick- 
ened into a vertical sea of foliage, a girl's face 
peered down over the army of working bees. 
Terii, the dust of the road cloying her dark hair, 
was watching the scene that was to mean matri- 
mony to her matrimony and honourable love. 

The interstices of the logs were filled in, and 
by the close of the third day two massive pillars 
defied the stream, but the road leading up to the 
fort was still unkempt, and a body of soldiers were 
sent forward with pickaxe and shovel to hack it 
into something like decency. 

Tipuna excelled himself. He had been in the 
forefront of the pile-driving crowd, and had worked 
like a nigger. Once, when a heavy log came 
down on his thumb and nipped it into a jelly, he 
felt very like throwing up the job then he 
thought of Terii, and manhood came back in all 
its glory. He tied up the finger with a piece of 

87 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

waste, and went on with his work as though 
nothing had happened. The foreman waxed 
enthusiastic. " Quel homme ! Quelles epaules ! " 
he said. 

In Papeete, bellicose yearnings had reached 
their apogee. In fact they had boiled over. A 
rumour, that had taken its origin in the gasoline 
launch's disappointment, now swelled to a roar 
that deafened the noise of the Fautaua River. It 
was a sad blow for the poor hard-working French 
officials to learn that England had changed her 
mind, and was not coming after all. The project 
of choking the reef-opening with dynamite tor- 
pedoes fell through. In the barracks, infantry 
officers ceased stropping their sabres and took 
to betting on the Grand Prix as a substitute. 
The commander of the Aubrevilliers wanted his 
guns back. Frivolous ladies said they were sick 
of bugle-practice, and merchant skippers began 
to hint that the altered beacons, whose positions 
had been changed for the enemy's benefit, were 
a nuisance to navigation. The irony of the 
situation penetrated as far as the Fautaua Valley. 
The very landscape took on an ironical colouring. 
The great overhanging comb of green derided 
the men by day, and the stars, twinkling mischie- 
vously between the Magellanic clouds, mocked 

them by night. Long before the first detach- 

88 



A Fashoda Idyll 

ment of horse had paved a way for itself up to 
the fort, people were beginning to feel ashamed 
of themselves. Officials were slinking back to 
their desks. Women gave up praying, and 
assaulted the schools to have their children 
back. 

Then came the bill. The picnic had lasted 
ten days. Three hundred Kanakas at a dollar a 
day run things up. There were expenses to the 
tune of ^5000 against the budget, and save for 
the bridge and the improved road up to the fort 
a boon to future picnickers no one was a whit 
the better. There was a general exodus from 
the valley, and the novel experience of being 
drunk on the proceeds of real hard work came 
sweetly, as the blush of first love, to the market 
population. 

Tipuna had worked one whole week. Seven 
dollars were his by right of contract, but the 
foreman, taking the crushed finger into account, 
increased the sum to ten. Tipuna hired a dis- 
used ambulance-waggon, and with Terii by his 
side to beguile the moments on a mouth-organ, 
drove out to Papara to exhibit honourable scars. 
The cut finger and the ten dollars were proof 
positive. The old blunderbore of a father 
scratched his head, wavered, gave his consent. 
Terii slumped down once again on the mat 

89 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

and wept this time for joy ; Tipuna and she 
were married. 

Since his marriage Tipuna has lived very 
happily on his reputation. That one fell week 
during the Fashoda scare taught him what work 
was, and why it should be avoided. At night 
when the windows of the Mairie reflect the 
smoky flicker of the market lamps, when the 
tables glow under their tender pink burden of 
sliced melons and the vahines loll over the China- 
men's counters to smoke cigarettes, you may see 
Tipuna blue pareo, pink shirt, a red flower stuck 
behind his ear sitting on the edge of the oblong 
slime-choked tank that does duty for fountain, 
while the army of Papeete virtue crowds to 
listen. 

He still plays the accordion beautifully. 

Such is the veracious history of the Fashoda 
scare, and such the picturesque train of circum- 
stances that saved France's most lotus-gorged 
colony from the ill-conditioned progressiveness 
known as Anglo-Saxon civilisation. 



90 



CHAPTER IX 

OFFICIALISM A STUDY IN RESPONSIBILITIES 

" If all be atoms, how then should the gods, 
Being atomic, not be dissoluble?" 

ONE of the most touching soft-heartednesses of 
the French island administration is the way in 
which it contrives to saddle a man with a salary 
and a nominal sphere of activity where any other 
Government would make him work for a living. 

It requires five hundred officials to keep Ta- 
hiti in harness. What they do with their time 
is only known to themselves. Provinces of 
energy, which in England would barely fill the 
hands of one man, here require an army. There 
is only one road in Pomare's island, but it takes 
a small houseful of clerks to keep its ruts in 
working order. The average of crime is a 
burglary once a month, and a midnight assas- 
sination every ten years yet seven judges are 
required to effectively muddle justice. There is 
barely capital enough in the entire island to float 
a liver-pill, yet it takes a quarter of a mile of 
benches placed end to end (from Pomare's palace 

9 1 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

to the quay de Something-or-other) to keep track 
of financial matters. 

And the elaborateness, the complexity of it! 
The dovetailed, angle-ironed, water-logged, steel- 
faced, time -locked completeness of the whole 
thing! A German verb is nothing to it. It is 
the apotheosis of protocollardom. 

Try to get something done in this dear little 
island, no matter what. Try to bridge a river, 
to muzzle a dog, to make a false income-tax 
return. You will tackle it bravely at first, but 
you will give.it up in time. In this paradise 
dignitaries sprout like mushrooms. You will be 
referred, and referred, and referred. There will 
be papers to sign, and papers to sign, and more 
papers to sign. You will struggle through 
wildernesses of quill-scratching, past gaping 
catacombs of pigeon-holes, till your efforts die 
away in that peopled solitude as the would-be 
conquerors of the Golden Fleece died before the 
earth-born warriors of Aietes. 

As a general instance of how things are 
managed in Papeete what lawyers call a pre- 
cedent I will narrate a story told me by Captain 
Macduff of the Union Company. The details 
are scrupulously correct in every particular. 

It began in the stoke-hole of the Upolu, ten 
feet below the water-line, between the glare of 

92 



Officialism 

the furnace-mouths and the glimmer of the 
bobbing tail-rods. "Long" Allen and "Fight- 
ing" Jimmy had served the company faithfully 
for one calendar month. A prolonged bondage 
at sea sets an edge on most things, and both 
men were spoiling for an orgy. Moorea had 
been sighted from the mast-head at 8 A.M., and 
when, an hour from sunset, the vessel finished 
tautening her cables opposite the tin-roofed 
Customs, both men were reported missing. The 
vahine-haunted alley-ways of Papeete had en- 
gulfed them lank hair, dirty finger-nails, and all. 
The voice of discipline knew them no more. 

The captain of the Upolu was annoyed, for the 
Company's agent was hustling things on the wharf, 
and steam was needed for the winches. Mutiny, 
at such a time, could not be tolerated. Captain 
Macduff decided on appealing to the Consul. 

The dignitary in question, W. H. Milsom, 
Esq., was a man of the very mildest type. 
Socially, he was a trifle out of place in Papeete. 
He was distinctly religious, had developed 
seventh-day adventist leanings of a pronounced 
kind, and systematically avoided impact with the 
more godless amusement-seekers of the island as 
likely to cheapen or annul that aegis of myste- 
rious vastness which a British Consul in southern 
seas loves to claim for his own. 

93 



Milsom's views on politics, ethics, art, history, 
and sociology resolved themselves in Milsom's 
mind into one dread formula the dignity of the 
British Consul must be maintained. 

Early next morning Captain Macduff called 
and aired his grievance. The case was not a 
novel one in Papeete, but to Milsom, bolstered 
behind barriers of protecting epigram, it pre- 
sented insuperable difficulties. " I think you 
had better bring them here to me," he said in 
his ladylike voice, "and I'll see what I can do." 

The men were found, and brought. They 
were in a state of daze, and preferred the grass 
plot to any other lounge. Milsom in the interim 
had been thumbing a book of law. The situation 
appeared to him a delicate one, and the more he 
thought over it the more delicate it became. 

" Are you going to have these two fellows 
arrested, or are you not ? " queried the captain 
angrily. 

Milsom's universe was splitting into chips and 
wedges. Had the two stokers only managed to 
break a lamp-post or maul a vahine, instead of 
getting decently and systematically drunk at 
Lambert's, all would have been lovely. As it 
was, a medley of scattered phrases from the 
statute-book consul in foreign ports subject 
to consent of authorities unalienable rights of 

94 



Officialism 

British seamen, &c., swam luridly before his eyes, 
and he quailed. 

"Perhaps if I were to speak to them"- he 
suggested. 

"Stuff!" said the skipper, "might as well 
speak to a barrack." 

Milsom stepped to the door. An amused 
audience of Kanakas were grinning through the 
gateway. Allen shuffled to his feet. Jimmy 
contented himself with shifting his position on 
the grass, and eyeing the consul drunkenly. 

Milsom began a harangue. He combined the 
sweetness of a mother chiding her first-born with 
the persuasiveness of a Wesleyan Methodist in 
his maiden sermon. We do not give his speech in 
full. " I wish you to understand, &c., this evasion 
of your duty, &c., flagrant breach of discipline, 
&c., much trouble to your employers, &c., &c." 

The demon of square-face here prompted 
Jimmy to attempt a say. 

" What in 'ell are you gassin' away at us for ? " 
he drawled " gassin' away like a bloomin' old 
parson ? Garn wid ye old stick-in-the-mud ! " 

Milsom looked sick. He popped back into his 
office, and closed the door. " If they don't come 
back on board within two hours and tackle to, let 
me know and we'll have them arrested," he said 
shortly. 

95 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

The skipper departed fuming. Allen and 
Jimmy ambled down town arm in arm to have 
one last farewell spree before braving the majesty 
of the law. 

A short distance behind the cathedral, in a 
Mohammedan paradise of accordions and clothes- 
lines, lived Allen's " reputed wife " Manou. She 
received him coldly, for loafing eats up money, 
and Manou wanted a new dress. " Maama oe" 
(silly fool), she said as he joined her on the 
verandah. Jimmy drifted into a rabbit-hutch in 
the Rue Vigny, and went to sleep. He had no 
more time to waste on consuls. 

Midday struck. Things on the Upolu were 
going from bad to worse. The engines needed 
doctoring, and the efforts of amateur stokers were 
making inroad into the bunkers. Milsom's hand 
was forced. He indited a note to the police- 
sergeant down the street, and gave it to a Kanaka 
to deliver. 

The then officiating sergeant was a musical 
Frenchman of twenty-three with a healthy taste 
for orchestral solo-playing one of the adorn- 
ments of Vermege's Saturday Philharmonics. 
Also, he was conscientious. 

" Arrest ? Certainement, monsieur. One hour, 
two hour you are not in a hurry, saire ? " 

"Hurry? Of course I'm in a hurry," said the 



A Study in Responsibilities 

bewildered skipper. " I want them taken and 
brought on board now at once." 

The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders. " I 
am sorry, saire, my supdrieur he gone uphill 
Fautaua picnic vat you call." 

The skipper wrung his hands, entreated, tried 
threats. The Frenchman quailed. He had 
heard of England and had reason to believe her 
an implacable foe. But island-law, with its dark 
web of sinuosities, was too strong for him. Touch 
one brick of that marvellous structure, and all the 
others would have to be shifted to prevent a 
collapse. The skipper turned on his heel, and 
left the office. 

The cathedral clock had chimed eight and the 
market lamps were well advanced in smokiness 
before the neat four-horsed drag deposited the 
supdrieur, happy and flushed with champagne, in 
the hands of his subordinate. Then the order 
was given, but oh, how warily ! how dis- 
creetly ! 

The two sailors were to be found and brought 
"without violence." The suptrieur had, like his 
subordinates, a wholesome regard for England 
and the majesty of her navy. Were Allen or 
Jimmy injured in any way, M. Lapeyrouse's neat 
villa (which was visible from the sea) might be 
blown to Hades as an opening sacrifice. 

97 G 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

The gendarmes sped on their mission. The 
day was Saturday, and a sprinkling of the stores 
were closed in deference to the prejudices of 
seventh-day adventists. Towards 10 P.M. they 
reached Manou's hut in the Rue de la Cathedrale, 
where Allen was allowing his hair to be combed 
on the front verandah, while Jimmy amused him- 
self with an accordion at the back. 

Half-an-hour later they were escorted, meek as 
lambs in May, down to where the Upolu lay 
puffing in the crescent of sycamores. The skipper 
was overjoyed. He hastened to congratulate the 
minions of the law on their success and offer them 
refreshment in his cabin. 

There is many a slip, &c. The gendarmes 
were bowing and scraping on the afterdeck. 
There was a hurried chatter of natives on the 
bank and a shrill yell of laughter as the two men, 
clambering over the Upolus gunwale, slid like 
lightning down the bow-chains and vanished 
among the trees. 

The chase began again. While Jimmy scudded 
chuckling along the Taone road, Allen dodged 
down a byway into the dwelling-place of his 
indignant wife, where he took a fresh pull at the 
rum bottle and entrenched himself behind a 
second-hand chest of drawers by way of delaying 

retribution. 

98 



A Study in Responsibilities 

The police arrived in due course, heralded by 
a guffawing army of Papeete loafers. Allen stood 
at the door and whirled a camp-stool round his 
head. 

"Come on, you d d Frenchmen," he howled 
" come on, the whole (carmine) lot of you." 

The policemen paled. They had express orders 
not to use violence. Should a gill of Allen's 
sacred blood be spilt, outraged Britain would 
land in her war-paint and eat Tahiti raw. Allen 
swung the chair through the air till it hissed and 
shouted defiance. He was very far gone in 
liquor. 

Then, as the moment drew near which was to 
usher in a third period of official helplessness, up 
stalked the only real power in the ballad Allen's 
redoubtable wife Manou. She pulled the chair 
unceremoniously from the bully's grasp and took 
him by the ear. 

" Hare maama," she said as she pushed him 
into the arms of the astonished constable. 

Jimmy came home next morning in the arms 
of two Kanakas. He had been found under a 
hedge in Mangaia-town senseless and incapable of 
resistance. The Upolu was a day late in starting, 
but Captain Macduff made light of the matter. 
He was well pleased at having escaped so easily. 

And now, comes the moral. It is mightily 

99 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

difficult to point properly. There are too many 
factors in the equation altogether. For Milsom 
is afraid of the Foreign Office, Tahiti is afraid of 
Milsom, the police are afraid of English sailors, 
and Long Allen is afraid of nothing, unless it be 
his wife. Furthermore each functionary in the 
height, depth, and breadth of the Island- Adminis- 
tration is afraid of the next man above him, and 
the lot of them are afraid of England. 

And this is why, when pretty Auckland ladies 
call at the big brown stone office of the Union 
Company for news of absent island-cousins, the 
sleek formula "delayed by stress of weather" 
should be more rightly worded "salivated by 
excess of responsibility." 



100 



CHAPTER X 

TOUR OF THE ISLAND A CHRISTENING- 
DRIVING PECULIAR 

" A populous solitude of bees and birds. 
And fairy-formed and many-coloured things ; 
Nothing to mar the sober majesties 
Of settled, sweet, epicurean life." 

TAHITI measures some 150 miles in circumfer- 
ence. About one-third of this, between Papeete 
and the commencement of the Taiarapu Peninsula, 
is decent roadstead ; the rest is virgin jungle. 
Tahitian driving, be it said, is of the most reck- 
less kind, Jehu-ism of the deepest dye. Also the 
great thing in the eyes of Papeete youth in going 
round the island is to break the record. Break 
the record and come back alive, if possible, but 
break it anyhow. 

There are two so - called livery - stables in 
Papeete, with a varied collection of uncouth 
vehicles for hire that would do honour to a 
Mayfair surgical museum. We visited the first 
of these establishments, one kept by a noble 
Frenchman whose ancestor was beheaded in the 
Revolution. A lanky Kanaka a variant on the 

101 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

obelisque of Luxor was sleeping on a bed of 
straw. We stirred him up. He smiled faintly, 
blinked at the sun, blew his nose in workman 
fashion, adjusted his pareo, walked leisurely up 
to the nearest tree, plucked a flower for an ear- 
piece, looked us over, yawned, smiled again, and 
announced himself ready to help. 

De Smidt, my co-mate in the enterprise, and 
a regular patron of the noble Frenchman, ex- 
plained. The Kanaka kindly feigned under- 
standing. He ambled towards the shed, and, 
his red drapery flapping prettily round his heels, 
drew out a thing that looked like a disused Black 
Maria. It was boxed up like a hencoop, and 
painted in funereal green, with a solitary square 
window in the back. I tapped one of the springs. 
It was undoubtedly cracked ; in fact, both were. 
The right pole was intact, the left had been 
mended with string. We backed the Kanaka 
up against the wall of the hay-loft and put him 
to the question. He admitted the waggon had 
been used on Government service once, but had 
been shelved on account of the scarcity of crimi- 
nals. I felt my visit to the island to be distinctly 
an event in history, but judged it unnecessary 
to advertise on such an alarming scale. We 
passed. 

The Kanaka drew out another conveyance. 
102 



Tour of the Island 

It had once been a noble ship's locker, but some 
barbarian had added wheels and spoiled it. It 
was innocent of springs, seats, or cover. We 
couldn't hope to cram ourselves in, luggage and 
all, and even had we been able to, we should 
have got sunstroke and perished miserably. 
Nothing was left but to pass again. 

The Kanaka then exhibited a C-spring buggy 
with one wheel off, two perambulators, a milk- 
van with divisions for bottles, and a hay-waggon 
with the front knocked out. I began to look 
sick. De Smidt was serenity itself. The 
Kanaka banged and shuffled about, and pre- 
sently dragged out his masterpiece a sticky- 
looking char-a-banc with three lovely seats, a 
roof, and two solid poles. A few of the wheel- 
spokes were snapped here and there, but they 
were nealtly mended with bits of old biscuit-tin 
and copper nails ; a creditable vehicle on the 
whole very creditable indeed. 

De Smidt said, " You jump in and drive out 
to my house while I go and order provisions." 
I said I knew little of Papeete streets, and still 
less of Papeete horses. " That's all right 
whack 'em and pray," was the answer. 

The plugs were produced and harnessed. 
One, "Quinze Piastres" named after the price 
paid for him (about 305.) was a drowsy beast 

103 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

with triangular suggestions of starvation about 
his hocks and withers. The other, "Prince," 
probably called after Hinoe, looked as though 
the springiness which ought to have been under- 
neath the waggon floor had crept along the shafts 
and lodged in his legs. He was a lively repro- 
bate of a horse, and, as we found out later, a bit 
of a humorist. 

Allez ! The start was a glorious one. I 
rattled along at a cheerful fifteen - mile gait 
through a double cordon of women and scurry- 
ing infants. An aged Chinaman bearing two 
heavy tins of food crossed my path. The pole 
struck him in the middle of the back and sent 
him and his dinner rolling in the mud. It was 
a royal disaster, and executed with the precision 
of a Wilson- Barrett murder-scene. I consoled 
the weeping Chow with a dollar and fled, for 
through the vista of roof-thatches I caught the 
gleam of distant epaulettes, and knew a gendarme 
was coming up to inquire. 

We spent the night at Taone and rose at 
3 A.M. Quinze Piastres and Prince had passed 
the night tethered in the scrub, and had eaten 
everything within reach. They were in fine 
healthy condition. The morning was one of 
misty light and shade. On the one side the sea, 
and the salt smell of the reef; on the other, the 

104 



Tour of the Island 

lightening fringe of mountains and the aromatic 
breath of the jungle. At a Chinaman's, a mile 
along the road, the gleam of kettles through the 
window attracted us. Half-a-score of Kanakas 
in shirts and pareos were imbibing coffee at 
wooden benches. What would life in South Seas 
be without Chinamen? And they tell me the 
Government are girding up their loins to expel 
them. Egad 'tis a wicked, wicked sin ! 

The long thin arm of Point Venus passed like 
a flash, and at the foot of the red-clay hill the 
jungle swallowed us pour le bon. The road dis- 
appeared, leaving two picturesque yellow ruts 
enclosing a long strip of velvety green. Some- 
times the gloom of the wood envelops you, 
sometimes the curtain of leaves parts to allow a 
free view of the landscape that smiling careless 
Tahitian landscape where the weeds laugh at the 
idea of road boundaries ; where the sea, disdaining 
regular shore-line, straggles prettily among its 
hundred islets ; where the mountains flout all 
known laws of natural architecture, the wind 
disdains regular blasts ; the sun, as careless as 
the rest, shining above the palms clear as frosted 
silver, anon permitting 

" The basest clouds to ride 
With ugly rack on his celestial face "- 

it is a kingdom of laissez-faire. 

105 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Island driving, in the present state of the roads, 
is a breakneck performance. If one could manage 
to keep in the ruts it might be all right. The 
cart would slide along like a train on rails. But 
this is impossible. The banana roots straggle 
over the ground in such fashion as to throw the 
boasted Virginia corduroy roads into the shade. 
Also the work has to be done in semi-darkness, 
a dim cloistered twilight being all one has to 
work by. This makes it thrilling. Tahitian 
driving is not a good thing to bet on no matter 
how good a driver one is. The road is never 
alike for two weeks at a time. Just as you get to 
what you fondly remember as a soft level stretch, 
a murderous banana root pushes its nose out and 
you fetch up with a hiccup that loosens every 
tooth in your head, and snaps everything within 
reach. 

Tahiti is one of the wettest places of its size 
extant. In its circumference of 150 miles, at 
least, a hundred odd streams, some half-dozen of 
them respectable-sized rivers, carry their burden 
of flower-dust seaward. Needless to say, once 
clear of Papeete postal radius there is no trace of 
a bridge anywhere. There are various ways of 
getting across. The best plan, in the case of the 
smaller ones, is to give a piercing yell, loose the 
reins, and make the horses take them at a rush. 

1 06 



Tour of the Island 

If all goes well there is a splash, a halo of flying 
water, and you dive back into the foliage at the 
other side like into a railway-tunnel. If all 
doesn't, you either miss the path and crash into 
a tree, or else get bodily overturned. Then it 
takes half a day to get her back on the track, 
and another half to repair the damage. 

Hiteaea, a village situated half-way between 
Papeete and Teravao, is a Paradise in miniature. 
One-half of the settlement is smothered in giant 
bamboos, the remainder dotted among the palms 
at the water's edge. The houses are in true Tahi- 
tian style oval tents of bamboo with thatches of 
woven pandanus and hanging curtains of " tappa." 
There is a broad lawn with copses of stephanotis 
and tiart, a warm wide loop of coral, a flashing 
necklace of reef, and the blue hills of Taiarapu 
thinning in the noonday haze such is Hiteaea. 

In the interim of awaiting a scratch meal at the 
Chinaman's, we get a bath in the river. Tahitian 
streams come from a great height, and, flowing 
through deep, shady canons, the sun has little 
chance to strike them. As a result the pools are 
cold as ice, and sudden immersion gives one a 
shock. There are no crocodiles, no salamanders, 
no vipers, no water-snakes. Nothing but clusters 
of floating blossoms and buzzing wasps. The 
latter are the only nuisance. They can be over- 

107 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

come by diving. For the rest the borders are set 
with thick carpets of blue hyacinths, vigorous and 
prolific enough to positively dam the river in 
places and cause overflows. 

A goodly party was assembled at the chiefs 
house (an offensively modern shanty of wood by 
the way) ; knots of girls were parading the lawn, 
matrons crowned with flowers presiding 'twas a 
christening ! The proud mother, arrayed in a sort 
of balloon of crushed yellow silk, did us the honour 
to shake hands. The baby was invisible. Pre- 
sently out she came a tiny wee brown dot, like a 
piece of chocolate confectionery. And the name? 
Oh yes, the name ! Mary Martha Elisabeth Isa- 
bella Cleopatra Terii Mapue or words to that 
effect. She fingered De Smidt's watch-chain and 
said goo-goo in English, but burst into tears at 
the sight of the camera, and had to be taken back 
to bed. 

We were thirsty, and the papaw trees were 
thick with fruit. After some ineffective attempts 
at dislodging the nuts with stones the old chiefess 
got a pole and mended matters. Some one then 
thoughtfully suggested a hoola. Three of the 
young ladies got out their instruments guitars, 
if you please, not concertinas and sluddered 
down amicably on mats. Three more took up 
their position in front of the players and com- 

108 



A Christening 

menced to wriggle in danse du venire fashion. 
The performance was hardly graceful and did not 
look difficult. I suggested, in fun, that the old 
chiefess should teach me. To my unutterable 
surprise and confusion, she consented. I was 
compelled to stand by my offer. Half the vil- 
lage looked on and laughed while the old lady, 
a broad grin on her good-natured face, tried to 
teach me the steps, and De Smidt lest the price- 
less record be lost to the world officiated behind 
the camera. 

We left Hiteaea late in the afternoon. As 
De Smidt gave the preliminary flourish of the 
whip, three beauties, one of whom had officiated 
in the hoola, edged forward and clamoured to be 
taken. They had come all the way from Teravao 
and wanted to ride home. They would be good 
oh, so good " mitinaries " every one of them. 
" Very well, jump in," I said. " Where are they 
going to sit ? " for the place was stuffed with 
baggage like a gipsy caravan. The girls climbed 
in. The eldest commenced by sitting on my 
camera case. As soon as she was rebuked and 
settled, a fourth girl appeared, chewing liquorice, 
and clamoured for admittance. 

De Smidt said, " Hang it all it's not fair on 
the horses." But the girl had her way, and was 
allowed to clamber in. Four Kanaka boys then 

109 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

ran after us and howled to be taken. De Smidt 
cut at them with the whip, but presently, at my 
entreaty, relented and permitted two of them to 
hang on behind. 

We moved off amid cheers. De Smidt said 
"If this gets round Papeete the Government'll 
tax me for starting a private lunatic asylum." 

The jungle closed in. The girls and their 
cavaliers had imbibed freely before starting, and 
evinced a disposition to sing. It was an awful 
ride. The road was the worst we had struck yet 
The twigs and creepers slapped and scratched our 
faces till we looked like Brigham Young after a 
family jar. And the more we swore and suffered, 
the more that giddy sextet of Kanakas howled 
and sang. 

The bushes thinned. A broad river con- 
fronted us, rushing through a bed of scrub from 
a deep purple cleft in the mountains. How to 
get across? The stream was too wide to be 
"rushed," and indications of a ford there were 
none. 

" Let's make 'em get out and swim," I sug- 
gested. De Smidt cracked the whip valiantly. 
" I'm not going to allow myself to be beaten by 
such a trifle," he said "we'll show these dar- 
lings what a European can do. Hold tight!" 

A soft black sandspit led out into midstream. 



no 



Driving Peculiar 

As the wheels sank in the ooze the girls stopped 
their song. We entered the water, and as we 
did so we felt the char-a-banc tipping from right 
to left. The water came higher, gurgling prettily 
round the spokes. The horses whinnied, and 
two of the girls began to chatter nervously. 
The cart tilted till its contents showed a tendency 
to topple. The girls screamed. One yard more, 
only one yard then something slid away beneath 
our left wheel and over we went into the water ! 

When I rose three girls were standing im- 
mersed to their waist, shrieking and wiping mud 
out of their eyes. The char-a-banc had righted 
herself, the packages were floating tranquilly 
about. De Smidt, hatless, water running down 
his face, waded to the nearest sandbank and 
laughed. We cursed each other freely. 

" This comes from trying to show off. You 
know as much about driving as a cat about conic 
sections." 

" My driving's all right ! It's your chock- 
headed imbecility in wanting to take these 
savages. If they hear of this in Papeete my 
reputation's ruined." 

"Anyway, you got us into the mess, and 
you've got to get us out of it look slippy, 
there's one girl beginning to cry." 

We waded about collecting our property and 



in 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

piled it into the cart. Then we took the horses 
by the head and, up to our shoulders in water, 
piloted them across the stream. The girls found 
a ford higher up the river and joined us presently, 
but not all the gold of Arabia could tempt them 
to take a seat in the cart again. They had seen 
enough of European driving, and, willy-nilly, we 
had to travel on to Teravao alone. 



112 



CHAPTER XI 

TOUR OF THE ISLAND (continued) INDUSTRIES 
" Drones suck not eagles' blood, but rob bee-hives." 

TERAVAO a straggling settlement of Kanaka 
huts and iron-roofed planter-villas lies on the 
side of the island diametrically opposite Papeete, 
at the commencement of the Taiarapu Isthmus. 
We put up at the usual Chinaman's, and foolishly 
allowed ourselves to be persuaded into playing 
poker with him. The wily Chow chiselled us out 
of twenty dollars, and, seeing that the gambling 
debt was punctually paid (a rare circumstance in 
Tahiti), proceeded to villainously overcharge us 
on the plea that we were millionaires. " For 
ways that are dark and tricks that are vain," &c. 

The road leading round the south side of the 
island to Papeete crosses a series of lovely palm- 
fringed bays, warm, sheltered and fragrant as a 
Kentish conservatory. For miles across the un- 
dulating hills the forest of scrub rolls on not as 
thick jungle or tangled brake but in fold after fold 
of luminous thin-foliaged trees dense enough to 
grant a sort of half-shade, and sparse enough to 

113 H 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

let the breeze through. Most of this is what 
is called vanilla country, the vanilla-bean having 
become, thanks to its easy mode of cultivation, 
a lucrative field for native energy. 

In fact, the Kanaka, try hard though he may, 
cannot very well remain completely idle. It has 
never yet been definitely ascertained what \\ill 
not grow in Tahiti. Tobacco, coffee, cotton, 
vanilla, hemp, sugar, rice, indigo, opium, copra, 
pepper, cinnamon all the tropical fruits and two- 
thirds of the temperate vegetables flourish with 
an ease that has something of the supernatural 
about it. 

I once consulted an authority on the subject 
an American, a Mr. Kennedy owner of the 
largest and most prosperous sugar plantation the 
island possesses. It was impossible to mention 
a substance that Kennedy could not theoretically 
produce from the raw material of the soil. Soap, 
sugar, hair-oil, silk, champagne, railway grease, 
rice pudding, lightning rods, antibilious pills 
anything, from a wife to a weather prophet I 
am not sure whether these last two items were 
warranted to give satisfaction, but I don't mind 
taking shares in the others if somebody will 
help. 

Let us examine things in detail. Fifty or sixty 

years ago cotton used to be the mainstay of 

114 



Industries 

Tahiti, Raiatea, and the Marquesas group. It 
has now been dropped altogether. The plants 
were rapidly becoming hybridised, and the quality 
of the yield has deteriorated. This might have 
been combated by the introduction of fresh seed 
and the partial destruction of existing plants. 
The American Civil War, however, brought the 
price of cotton so low that it was hardly thought 
advisable to risk the expense. Cotton is now a 
thing of the past. 

Vanilla thanks to the increased demand for 
the article during the last seven years has now 
taken its place, and indeed has become, together 
with copra (the dried kernel of the coco-nut), 
the principal resource of the Tahitian peasantry. 
The work involved is of the simplest The 
vanilla-bean, being an orchid proper, requires 
both damp and shade, and a partial clearing of 
the land only is necessary. Within from eighteen 
months to two years of planting it commences to 
bear, and continues to do so during a period of 
from ten to fifteen years without replanting. A 
few days' labour in each year devoted to pulling 
down shoots that climb too high, or replacing 
broken supports, are all that is needed. 

A strange feature of the culture is that, owing 
to the entire absence in these islands of humming- 
birds, moths, or lizards, which in other countries 

"5 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

serve to fertilise the flowers, each blossom (which 
is hermaphrodite) must be artificially fertilised by 
hand, by transferring the pollen from one portion 
of the flower to the other. This is, however, no 
great task, one person unaided being able to fer- 
tilise a thousand or more flowers a day. The 
bean hangs for six months or so on the tree, at 
the end of which time it is plucked, dried in the 
sun, and packed in tinfoil for shipment 

Copra the shrivelled inside of the coco-nut 
is perhaps the most popularly accepted industry 
of the South Seas. There is hardly an island 
in the Pacific which does not harbour the coco- 
palm. The tree itself is the most hardy known 
to natural science. It needs neither earth, mould, 
sand, nor manure, and will sprout on bare rock if 
nothing better offers. The result is that the 
process of copra-making essentially belongs to 
the smaller, more insignificant islands of the 
group, for in the larger islands whatever labour 
is available can be more profitably expended on 
vanilla culture. 

A copra plantation is simply a palm forest on 
an ordered scale. The amount of land actually 
available in each island for coco-planting is rela- 
tively small. The coco-palm is indifferent as to 
soil, but it requires sea air and a certain per- 
centage of salt, also a fairly level stretch of 

116 



Industries 

ground and the ozone of the trade-wind, to 
flourish properly. The long stretch of alluvial 
soil, strewn with boulders of coral, lying between 
the base of the mountains and the sea is in all 
the islands eminently the site elected by and for 
the coco-palm. The labour of clearing brush- 
wood for a new plantation is not a difficult under- 
taking. The nuts are planted methodically in 
rows about thirty feet apart being the pre- 
ferred distance to ensure maximum bearing-power. 
With the first appearance of the feathery tuft of 
green at the top of each nut the work of the 
planter begins. Domestic animals and robber 
crabs are not the only nuisances. The tender 
shoots are looked on as a tit-bit by the Kanakas, 
and a single night's depredation in quest of " coco- 
nut salad " may mean several thousand pounds 
gone to Jericho. Unceasing vigilance and a 
shot-gun are the most approved remedies. At 
the end of the first year your tree is able to 
take care of itself. It is slowly developing into 
a stately palm. Your labour in the immediate 
present is done ; there only remains for you to 
sit down and wait. From eight to ten years are 
required to bring the trees to maturity. The 
yield naturally varies. From seventy to eighty 
nuts per tree is looked on as a good annual 
average, though cases of a hundred are frequent, 

117 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

and with care, it seems even a higher record 
might be attained. 

The process of converting the ripened nut into 
copra is puerile in its simplicity. Every step too 
is characteristic of the far niente island-life. No 
need to bother picking up the nuts. They are 
allowed to drop on the sward of themselves, two 
boys being daily sent round with a handcart to 
pick up what has fallen during the night. The 
fruit is then split open with an axe or machete 
and left lying in the sun, its white inside exposed 
to the glare. When the kernel has finally 
shrivelled to the consistency of shoe-leather it 
is detached, shovelled into a bag and packed 
for shipment. The profits are certain, the de- 
mand regular, the scheduled market value subject 
to no kind of fluctuation whatever. Copra- 
planting is the champion lazy-man trade. 

And pray what is copra used for? Well, 
principally for making railway-grease though 
its other less legitimate uses are legion. Copra 
is a most convenient substance, and lends itself 
to endless adulterations. It is the sheet-anchor 
of the oil-merchant. Once get rid of its villainous 
smell and you can turn it into any kind of oil you 
choose. Hair-oil, machine-oil, cod-liver oil, salad- 
oil a bushel of labels and an elastic con- 
science are all that is required. Both articles 

118 



Industries 

can be procured within two thousand miles of 
Tahiti. 

This chapter is becoming horribly technical. 
Sugar, as a staple export of the South Seas, is 
as yet comparatively a dead letter, partly owing 
to the natural laziness of the natives, partly to 
the contradictory vacillations of the Government. 
Land for sugar requires clearing, real systematic 
clearing, not the desultory amateur axemanship 
that suffices for vanilla. Sugar also needs plough- 
ing, triennial planting and weeding. It is too 
much like hard work. Yet the productive powers 
of the soil when finally under way border on the 
sublime. Those genial Americans, Kennedy and 
Fritch, have hardly a mile under cultivation, yet 
the output of their baby sugar-refinery suffices for 
the local consumption of the main island and some 
twenty other islands in the Cook, Paumotu, and 
Marquesas groups. Their establishment is well 
worth a visit, if only to see what the dogged 
Anglo-Saxon can do when he is allowed to tackle 
to "on his own." 

The mill, which is worked by steam, is situated 
on the north side of Papeete on the edge of a 
waving cane-field midway between Mangaia-town 
and the historic Fautaua avenue. The building 
is divided into a basement and two storeys, the 
former containing the boilers and engines, the 

119 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

latter the refineries and residue-pans. A pon- 
derous structure of iron, twenty tons or more in 
weight, occupies the centre of the hall. Engineers 
are scarce in these latitudes. I am not surprised 
when my host informs me with some pride that 
he was compelled to superintend the setting up 
of the machinery himself. 

The place is a whirl of life and buzz. A tiny 
toy railway brings in the trucks loaded with 
odorous green stalks. In the dark under the 
shed the great rollers are clanking sullenly. The 
cane is thrown into the shoots and you catch the 
complaining screech of the torn fibres as the cane 
squirts its treasures into the reservoir. A pump 
raises the liquid to the second storey, where it is 
allowed to trickle through a series of vats arranged 
stepwise in paddy-field fashion. Here your 
attention is turned to the ponderous iron struc- 
ture before mentioned. A Kanaka in blue ducks, 
but minus the ear-flower (no fripperies allowed 
here) opens a tap. A horrible sticky substance, 
molasses, sand, and bilge-water, oozes out. It is 
not nice to look at. But put a bucketful in the 
centrifugals and watch the result. With the 
expulsion of the moisture the stuff changes colour. 
It becomes pale chocolate, maroon, coffee, cafe 
au lait, mulatto, Spaniard, Eurasian, consumptive 
American, Grecian nymph. Kennedy stops the 

120 



Industries 

machine, bends, takes out a handful of pure white 
table-sugar and offers it you with a " How do you 
like that, my buck ? " twinkling from the corner of 
his eye. 

Indeed, the more the intricacies of the process 
are explained, the more the wonders of this un- 
seen mill in the desert confound and delight you. 
The Kanaka workmen are as marvellous as the 
rest. A Kanaka paddling a war-canoe, a Kanaka 
among roses, a Kanaka carving a missionary 
these are pictures that have grown with us from 
childhood. But a Kanaka civilised, a Kanaka 
industrious, a Kanaka minding a steam-engine, 
these are things to be considered with bated 
breath. The sun of their philosophy has not yet 
risen. 

With all the acres of land devoted to coco-nut, 
sugar, and vanilla, the existing trade of the Socie- 
ties is, as in the case of Rarotonga, a mere pin- 
prick to what might be done under another 
administration. The French island-policy is of 
course at the bottom of the mischief. Here are 
a few of the minor aches, briefly considered : 

There is no land-tax. Nine-tenths of the 
arable land belongs to the natives, who, as they 
have no rent to pay, naturally refuse to till it. 
Kanaka families want but little here below. A 
weekly supply of faies (plantains) from the bush 

121 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

will keep the best of them in opulence. Why 
should the Kanaka sell his land ? It costs him 
nothing to live on, and it gives him facilities for 
lying on his back and studying the habits of 
clouds which he could never hope to enjoy else- 
where. So he stays on his land and loafs and 
growls, and the French officials loaf and growl, 
and the English settler follows suit, and loafs and 
growls too, and everybody is busy and nothing is 
done. 

I doubt if (with the exception of Kennedy's 
cane-fields) its maximum yield be drawn from a 
single square mile of Tahitian soil. Even the 
coco-plantations hardly pay the way they ought 
to. A coco-tree is not a jealous vegetable. Most 
kinds of fruit, particularly the pine-apple, can be 
grown to advantage in its shade. What is to 
prevent an enterprising Yankee or Briton setting 
up a canning factory on a large scale and supply- 
ing the Australian or American market ? De 
Smidt and I once began a calculation of the pro- 
bable profits derivable from a combined copra and 
pine-apple plantation. We paid off the national 
debt in half-an-hour. Then, as we were pre- 
paring to finance the Nicaragua Canal, the French 
Government stepped in, cracked on a rattling 
impost, and spoiled our game. It is a little way 

they have. 

122 



1 




Industries 

As it is with the harvest of the land, so is it 
with that of the sea. The waters literally swarm 
with fish, from the stately patui which could swal- 
low Sandow at a gulp, to the microscopic sap- 
phire-blue minnow whom nature seems to have 
designed to grace a lady's bonnet-pin, so pretty 
and wee is he. Papeete market ought to be a 
perfect museum. Alas ! A few pitiful strings of 
scarlet bonitos (flying-fish), and an occasional 
baby shark, are all you can find, and unless you 
or your cook are particularly early risers, you run 
the risk of being obliged to do without either. 

Verily, verily, such arrogance of inaction pre- 
cedes a fall. Despite the retrograde efforts of 
the French, the dollar is moving onwards, steadily, 
remorselessly, as the car of Juggernaut. And the 
time is not far off, nay, it is even now at hand, 
when, under the aegis of a newer and more 
materialistic administration, the cable-car shall 
buzz, the telephone squeak, and the book-agent 
lie in the leafy avenues of Papeete. 

Till then, brother Kanaka, enjoy your paradise. 



123 



CHAPTER XII 

THE OCEAN OF MARAMA 

" I could say more, but do not choose to encroach 
Upon the privileges of the guide-book." 

TAHITI is the largest of five islands stars in 
Pomare's lost crown of which the other four 
bear the names of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, 
and Bora- Bora respectively. The geographical 
grouping of the lot is very simple. The five 
islands follow each other from east to west, be- 
ginning at Moorea, twelves miles from Tahiti ; 
Huahine, sixty miles farther on ; Raiatea with 
its sister-island Tahaa ; and Bora-Bora, the last 
and most westerly of the group. If you are 
particular you may add to these the little motus 
(island-dots) of Tubai, Bellingshausen, Maupiti, 
Mapetia, and Scilly. These latter are negligeable, 
however. It is true that the tern and the tropic 
bird (the big black one with the scarlet feathers 
in his tail) find them admirable for roosting pur- 
poses, but as they will roost on floating hencoops, 
old barrels, &c., their testimony is valueless. It 

124 



The Ocean of Marama 

is with the five larger islands we are mainly 
concerned. 

Were the French entrusted with the sole 
navigation of the Archipelago I fear the islands 
would remain unvisited for the greater part of 
the time : even to-day there is but one vessel, 
the humble Southern Cross, and she belongs to 
hated England. Nay, even of late years there 
have been serious cabals got up in Papeete for 
the purpose of suppressing her. What right 
have Englishmen to intrude on waters sacred to 
the tricolor? The question has been argued 
over and over again in the Tahiti parliament 
with all the viciousness of island tape-pulling. 
But no French boat is forthcoming, and as M. 
Goupil, one of the oldest and wisest of the 
residents, says, " We prefer an English boat to no 
boat at all." 

The Croix du Sud starts at two, and the grassy 
lawn, which the name wharf obviously libels, is a 
blaze of colour. The vahines are assembled in 
full force under the trees. The starting of a ship 
is the signal for the darlings to put on their best 
dresses. Orofena has donned her nightcap of 
cloud she is a sleepy mountain at all times and 
the tiny American flag floating over the Con- 
sulate cuts the blue precipice neatly in half. It 

is 2.30 P.M. Gazing at the cathedral clock, just 

125 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

visible above its grove of flamboyants, by way of 
setting my watch, I notice that the hands point 
to 11.15. M- Goupil is on deck and I ask him 
the reason. 

" Ah," he replies grimly, " that clock is a repre- 
sentative clock, and (with a sigh) it is wound by 
a representative man ! " 

A clanging of engine-bells. Kedge hauled in. 
We are off. 

Moorea to a traveller with that most dire of 
all gifts, the bump of poesy is in a sense the 
artistic complement of Tahiti. If God made 
Tahiti, the devil made Moorea. And he made 
it well. Such grim fortresses, such a frowning 
desolation of stone has surely never been seen 
or heard of outside the nightmares of Dante or 
Edgar Allan Poe. 

At all times of the day the spectacle is an im- 
pressive one, and this whether seen through the 
blue haze of distance or from the nearness of its 
own breaker- fringed shore. Its tall needles are 
the first to greet the light of day, hanging above 
the shadows of the nether world like luminous 
cones set in space. Then the light shifts, and as 
the sun creeps up to noon the ruggednesses don 
their midday dress of green. The island knows 

you are watching it. It tries to smile. But it 

126 



The Ocean of Marama 

is the smile of a sycophant. No light that ever 
played on sea or land can bring kindliness to those 
cruel lances of stone, to those unhealthy fefe 1 - 
haunted valleys. The afternoon wears on, and as 
the sun goes to his grave in the cold scent of the 
furze, you see Moorea once more in her true char- 
acter as a world of titans and monsters. Great 
fan-shaped sheaves of light stab the zenith from 
behind the dark monstrosities. The peaks appear 
cut out in silhouettes against the fierce fires. The 
bastions shaped themselves into heads, and the 
timeless things of the wilderness wake as beneath 
the touch of a fiend. Small wonder that Tahitian 
mythology placed the abode of departed souls on 
the highest summit, the peak of Rootia. Then, 
even as you look, the grim glow wavers, flickers, 
dies, and gaunt Moorea sinks into the shadows 
of the night, monstrous even in death. 

The Croix du Sud was not a sumptuously fitted 
boat, but quite good enough for the service re- 
quired of her. Among the passengers we counted 
an American doctor, commissioned to investigate 
the mysteries of elephantiasis, three missionaries 
and their wives, a French official of vague and 
indeterminable importance, a dozen Papara pigs 
and as many Taiohae mules, the period of whose 
durance had not yet begun. 

1 Elephantiasis. 
I2 7 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

We reached the Moorea landing-place after a 
couple of hours' tossing. Several officials armed 
with ponderous bags of Chile dollars chose to land 
here. On being asked what their particular line 
of business was I was told "electioneering." The 
rain came down presently, and the tall needles of 
Papetoai Bay were blotted out behind a ground- 
glass curtain of mist. The evening was cold and 
windy. 

On the forward deck a score of natives attired 
in all colours of the rainbow were entrenched 
behind odorous heaps of pine-apple. It was my 
fate to share one of the larger cabins with the 
French official, who turned out to be none other 
than the governor of Raiatea in person. As I 
crept into my bunk, luckily a top one, the natives, 
whose Mark Tapleyism dictated happiness under 
all circumstances, set up a himent to pass the 
time. I thought the music pretty. One of the 
women would begin by pitching on a high note, 
then working her way down into the medium 
register, when the chorus joined in, and the origi- 
nal tune was lost sight of in a maze of ebbing, 
pulsating harmony. I thought I recognised one 
of the Tahitian national love-songs 

" Terii tie tepaa ehau." 

My visits to the Papeete market had made me 
familiar with the refrain, but the novelty of the 

128 



The Ocean of Marama 

situation lent it a new charm. The general tone 
of the music was plaintive almost painfully so 
and the exotic, semi-Chinese colouring of the har- 
mony took away nothing from its pathos. Indeed 
it seemed to add to it. The wind, too, and the 
sleepy wash of the sea played their part in the 
general effect. I felt strangely stirred, and hoped 
the song would continue indefinitely. Not so the 
great man beneath me. 

" Cre nom d'un chien ! Jamais j'ai vu un bateau 
ou Ton menait un chahut pareil." 

I feigned sympathy. The light from the saloon 
was wobbling unpleasantly over the white ceiling. 
We were fairly out into the current that runs 
between Moorea and Huahine, the legendary sea 
of Marama (the moon), where native tradition 
cradled the ark of Toa (Noah ?). I closed my 
eyes and fell asleep. 

Huahine came in due course the following 
morning. A long line of undulating hills shut- 
ting out the yellow sunrise, palm-splotches, a 
smell of guava-scrub, and a deep-green line of 
water where the coral grows hard enough and 
spikily enough to do for the keels of a million 
ironclads. It was very early, and the strings of 
girls sitting along the tiny pier, like rows of 
parrots, rubbed their eyes languidly, as becomes 

ladies of fashion startled from their slumbers. 

129 I 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Huahine, as usual, has its little nucleus of 
intrigue. It is still squabbling over the claims of 
two rival queens, and inasmuch as facilities for 
marriage in this charming country are truly 
Edenic, why you cannot very well throw a brick 
in any given direction without hitting a princess, 
or a girl related to one. 

The island also has its picturesque and histori- 
cal sides. The roads are even more densely 
wooded than those of Tahiti, and the coast-line 
is a medley of little blue bays overhung with 
snaky palms and fringed with scarlet and yellow 
lines of hibiscus and gardenia bushes (tiare 
Tahiti). 

At the south end of Huahine rises a singular 
structure of stone, a marae (temple) sacred to 
Hiro the redoubtable Hi-Yu-Muckamuck of 
Leeward doxology. Artistically speaking, the 
marae is not much to look at a badly cemented 
platform of limestone blocks half-hidden in ti-tree 
scrub. Historically it is very interesting. Hiro 
was a curious kind of god. Morally, he was a 
sort of cross between the Scandinavian Loki and 
the Indian Hanuman. His speciality was high- 
way robbery and the subtler varieties of brigand- 
age. He was no snob, however, and when the 
supply of brigands failed even the humble house- 
breaker found favour in his sight. When Captain 

130 



The Ocean of Marama 

Cook landed here in 1760 he made practical ac- 
quaintance with Hire's sphere of activity under 
circumstances which deserve detailed narration. 

The natives at that time were leading a cheer- 
ful open-air Kneipp-cure existence in houses of 
woven pandanus, and Cook with that overdone 
charity that characterises the old-time explorer in 
his dealings with savages who merely want to be 
left alone determined to initiate them into the 
mysteries of European carpentry, free, gratis, and 
for nothing. A house was designed for the chief 
on approved English sanitary principles, and the 
ship's carpenter was sent on shore to execute it. 
Among the crowd of onlookers there chanced to 
be a priest of Hiro, a pious, simple-minded rascal, 
and presently, while the worthy carpenter's back 
was turned, his saw vanished. 

The carpenter said a bad word and went on 
with his work. Presently the adze followed the 
saw a keg of nails followed the adze, and the 
despoiled knight of labour returned to his ship to 
mourn the loss of his tools and cuff his subordi- 
nates. 

Cook complained in vain. The tools had 
disappeared for good and all. The house of the 
chief had to be left unfinished. 

A few weeks later Cook departed. Great were 
the rejoicings in Huahine. From the secret re- 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

cesses of the marae the stolen implements were 
brought to life and examined. A solemn con- 
clave was held. The powers of these magical 
weapons must not be lost. They must be pre- 
served, duplicated if possible for the island's 
benefit. A field was selected and blessed. The 
tools were wrapped in odorous leaves and solemnly 
planted. It was expected that a crop of saws and 
adzes would result. Hire's blessing was invoked. 
The island sat down to wait. 

For three months floods of happy tears 
washed the steps of the marae. Hiro's altar 
was smothered in flowers, his high priest ex- 
tolled to the skies. People waited at first 
meekly, then cynically, and at last angrily. The 
harvest had miscarried. Women began to regret 
having slobbered over Hiro's marae. Some went 
as far as hinting that the god was an impostor, 
and suggesting the cutting down of the high 
priest's salary. The reigning queen caught the 
blasphemers, and had their ears cut off. In vain 
disbelievers were springing up on every side. 
The queen, after a decent period of obstinacy, 
ended by going over to the majority. 

Hiro was dishonoured, his temple given over 
to the creatures of the wilderness, his high priest 
compelled to shovel coal for a living. 

This was why, when, a year or so later, the 
132 



The Ocean of Marama 

body of missionaries came with Bible and rum- 
barrel to save these erring children of nature, they 
found to their surprise that circumstances had 
paved the way for their sophisms. Huahine had 
lost faith in its old gods, and was ready to try a 
new one. 

Thus ushered in through the mediumship of 
an humble burglary was Christianity, with its 
mystic symbolisms, its consolations and glorious 
promises, first introduced and consolidated among 
the races of the Eastern Pacific. 

Raiatea, the next island to Huahine, and the 
third on the list, is visible at a distance of thirty 
miles as a long low shadow hemming the western 
sea-rim. It is, taking it all round, by far the 
most important island of the group as well from 
a social as from a commercial standpoint. 

As usual in these seas it is girdled by a vast 
coral-reef, and this reef also includes the twin 
island of Tahaa, separated from Raiatea by a six- 
mile channel. Navigation is very dangerous, as 
the reefs cross and recross in mazy confusion, and 
the French charts are said to need polish. 
. The landing is not nearly so pretty as at 
Huahine. A great corrugated-iron shed dis- 
figures it, flanked by unsightly whitewashed 
railings and piles of packing-cases. The next 

133 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

thing you sight is a silver-braided French police- 
man, who looms up as we have seen a beggar 
loom up on reaching Italy, a cabman with a 
crushed top-hat in Ireland, or a brass spittoon in 
New York. It is the little touch of local colour 
there is no fault to find. 

A genial lot these Raiateans ! We are greeted 
by a hail of ioranas. And what is the latest 
Papeete scandal, pray? Has Miss Thing-um- 
bob got tired of her What 's-h is- name yet ? 
Bless us these pensive-eyed, thoughtful young 
ladies who eye us so abstractedly from the 
shade of the buraos are quite as fond of having 
two strings to their bow as anything on the 
sunny side of Belgrave Square. 

Also they are expecting a distinguished visitor. 
As I walk along the flat, sunny road, with its 
gardens of hollyhock and rhododendron, a pretty 
lady, gorgeously attired in gala, sleepy as an 
odalisque, fan and all complete, bounces out of 
a rose-covered doll's -house and electrifies me 
with the question 

" Is the prince on board ? " 

The prince ! Were we in England this might 
mean H.R.H. ; here it means Hinoe Pomare. 

Alas! Hinoe Pomar has other fish to fry. 
The Papeete world of naughtiness has him in its 
clutches. Raiatea will have to wait. 



The Ocean of Marama 

" That's a shame," quoth the odalisque. " Here 
we are, killing pigs and roasting taro to do him 
honour, and he doesn't turn up, the villain ! " 

Shades of disappointed hostesses ! Through 
the verbena trellis-work pretty faces peer shyly. 

"Couldn't he be replaced by proxy?" sug- 
gested the doctor wickedly. A pout and a 
giggle. Bashfulness has struck the doll's-house. 
The flowers swallow them. 

Yes, indeed. Raiatea has its own little social 
importances. It is the cradle of island royalty, 
the birthplace of the Pomares, the Mecca of the 
Polynesians. Besides this it has the reputation 
of being the second stage of the Tahitian pur- 
gatory, of which the first, it will be remembered, 
was situated on the summit of Mount Rootia in 
Moorea. A Tahitian's soul is a restless kind of 
organism. It is first compelled to make a twelve- 
mile jump across to Moorea, then a sixty-mile 
one to Raiatea, and a thirty-mile skip to Tubai, 
a tiny island-dot in the far west of the group, to 
finish with. 

Here, too in Raiatea ruled the Napoleon of 
the Society Group, the great Tamatoa, a man 
whose name is so shivered into the traditions of 
the islands as to cause even now those whom the 
Raiatea Blue- Book accuses of propinquity to be 
regarded with superstitious awe. 

135 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Fine fellows these old savages were. Fine, 
manly, skull-cracking old warriors, whose names 
recall those of the North-American Indians in 
arrogant and tooth-loosening hyperbole. Here 
are a few : 

Tamatoa tree of iron. 

Teriitaria man of big ears (lit. man-who-can-hear-the- 
grass-grow). 

Tetuanuieaaiteatiea adornment of God (hereditary 
title of the Pomares). 

Last, but not least 
Teriinuihohonumahana biter-of-the-sun. 

He ought to be able to reach it, anyway. 

As may be guessed, viewed by the light of 
such stupendous ancestry, Raiatea has had its 
aches. It has even had its revolutions. The 
last of these occurred in 1895, and was headed 
by a pertinacious old vagabond named Teraupo 
now abiding in Noumea for the benefit of his 
chilblains. As the British Foreign Office and 
the angel that watches over the subtleties of 
island-administration both played a part in it, 
my readers may find a detailed account inte- 
resting. 

We will entitle our story 



CHAPTER XIII 

TERAUPO AND THE UNION JACK 

NONE knew how the discontent started. Per- 
haps in a dollar-bred trader-tiff, perhaps in a 
case of lese - majesty perhaps in the dilatory 
squabbling of French officialdom. Anyway, start 
it did, and one bright morning in December 1895 
all Papeete was electrified by the news that the 
inhabitants of Raiatea at Opoa had hoisted 
British flags, and were prepared to defy the 
accumulated force of the earth in general and 
France in particular. 

The French authorities were annoyed. When 
you have been vegetating for years in a palm-girt 
island at the back of nowhere, the prospect of 
righting real bullets in flesh and blood is not 
pleasant. 

The quills of the administration began to rustle 
and the music of their rustlings struck the British 
consul as he lay on his trellised verandah, fatigued 
from the exertions of that morning's bicycle ride. 

The consul W. H. Milsom, Esq. was, as we 
have stated elsewhere, a man of the mildest type. 

137 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

The Commissaire-General had indited a winning 
epistle, and Milsom nearly wept as he read it. 

" It is supposed," wrote the man of red-tape 
ingenuously, " that the inhabitants of Raiatea will 
recognise the unreasonableness of their attitude 
as far as help from England is concerned, that 
they will respect your authority and haul down 
the flag." 

Milsom thumbed his law-book, fitted a new 
J-pen into the well-chewed holder, and exploded, 
as gunpowder explodes, along the line of the 
least resistance. He wrote a motherly note to 
Teraupo. It is not necessary to give the 
contents in full. It was a variant on the 
pedagogic "If you go on like this, you know, 
you'll get yourself into trouble." Teraupo 
got the note a week later and used it as a 
celebrated historical snob once used a bank-note 
to light his pipe with. 

The British flag made a picturesque red splotch 
over the palms of Opoa, and the natives of Tahaa 
across the strait, recognising the prettiness of such 
a landmark, followed Teraupo's example and 
likewise hoisted a flag. 

The French Government growled. Teraupo 
had organised a regiment of native desperadoes 
in red shirts red being the nearest approach to 
British colours and armed them with scythes 

38 



Teraupo and the Union Jack 

and battle-axes. In out-of-the-way villages people 
were boiling down lead in frying-pans and 
sharpening up old fish-spears. The girls took to 
singing " God Save the Queen " as a himend, and 
their ever-increasing taunts incommoded the white 
ladies of the island. There was a hurried flight 
of settlers. Some found refuge in Bora- Bora or 
Huahine ; the copra-schooners landed others, 
angry and rumpled, in Papeete. 

Across the hissing network of reefs the two 
flags still fluttered. Opoa and Tevaitoa were 
English quite English. Teraupo had dropped 
his French garb like a mask. He took to wash- 
ing regularly, and his wife's five-o'clock teas were 
the talk of the Broom-road. The French 
Government lost patience. Milsom was again 
bombarded, and this time he found himself 
compelled to put a little more ginger into his 
remonstrance. 

"The forbearance of the authorities having 
become exhausted," he wrote, "the local adminis- 
trator has been instructed to take such measures 
as may be necessary for definitely subjugating 
the rebellious natives of Raiatea and Tahaa." 

Teraupo and his regiment danced. The great 
moment was at hand ! They were to meet the 
French face to face and eat them. 

The Aubrevilliers left Papeete with a flourish, 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

and dropped anchor before Opoa. Milsom was 
on board. The mightiness of his mission had 
infused a warlike spirit into his nature. He 
forgot to be sea-sick and kicked off his bedclothes 
slaying imaginary Gorgons. Teraupo must haul 
down the flag or be smashed. There was no 
other alternative. 

Next morning as the long-boat's keel grated 
on the coral there were forty bloodthirsty Kanakas 
with muskets and flower-wreaths assembled on 
the beach to welcome her. Teraupo's ultimatum 
was short and decisive. 

" Let the English consul come to see me," the 
message ran ; "all others I will kill." 

The officer in charge of the boat paled and 
hesitated. He had barely twenty men with him, 
and the forty Kanakas looked horribly as though 
they meant business. The commander of the 
Aubrevilliers hugged himself. Matters were 
falling out exactly as he wished. Milsom would 
go on shore, get himself converted into long pig, 
and then 

Then the village could be shelled, and from a 
safe distance. The guns of the Aubrevilliers 
were getting rusty from disuse, and a gallant 
avenging of Queen Victoria's representative 
would look lovely in print. 

Milsom saw matters in a different light. He 
140 



Teraupo and the Union Jack 

had no wish to be converted into long pig. 
The French officer in charge of the boat too was 
visibly affected. He embraced Milsom, whom 
he loved as a brother, and besought him to run 
no needless risks. But Britannia's work must be 
done, and the consul was the man to do it. He 
left his watch with the officer, dashed away a 
tear, and started off to face the enemy. 

The meeting-house was a fair type of native 
dwelling an oval structure of bamboo with a 
pandanus roof. The parliament, a dozen stal- 
wart Kanakas with scarlet flowers twisted into 
their snaky locks, squatted contentedly on mats. 
There was a squeaking of women from the 
clearing behind where Teraupo's favourite pig 
was guzzling the remains of last night's feast. 

Milsom began a harangue. He besought 
Teraupo to reconsider his evil ways to haul 
down the flag. Teraupo snorted. 

Let him give up trying to be English, hand 
his fish-spear to the commander in token of 
submission, and become once again a great and 
loyal Frenchman. 

Teraupo laughed and spat. He had hoisted 
the flag as a means of protection against 
French aggressiveness, and preferred to let it 
stay. 

" I warn you," said Milsom brokenly, "if you 
141 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

refuse I shall be compelled to haul down the flag 
myself." 

Teraupo spat again and laughed this time 
more derisively. At his nod two Kanakas 
armed with clubs came from a dark recess and 
stood behind Milsom, chuckling. 

Milsom's blood froze. British consuls are only 
human sometimes very human. He was very 
much alone in that vast place, and the clubs were 
very near, Teraupo, the anglified, grinned and 
it seemed to Milsom that the grin carried canni- 
balistic suggestions. He rose, and backed to- 
wards the door. 

The commander of the Aubrevilliers had been 
following the movements of the shore-party 
through his binocular, and had been anxiously 
awaiting Milsom's dying yell as a preliminary 
formality to shelling Teraupo's chicken-coops. 
To say he was disappointed at the consul's re- 
appearance would be to put things mildly. He 
swore hideously. 

Milsom, urbane but shaken, clambered on 
board and explained. Affairs were indeed at an 
alarming crisis. Teraupo had got his war-paint 
on. To talk of hauling down the flag was 
absurd. It was nailed up there as solid as a 
rock. There was only one resource left to 
shoot it down. 

142 



Teraupo and the Union Jack 

The commander would have preferred to shoot 
something else but justice is justice, and it was 
clearly the flag-staff that was at fault. The six- 
pounder was loaded and slewed round. Milsom 
stopped his ears. 

Bang ! Teraupo's women screamed and an 
army of pigs fled shrieking. Missed. Sacrt 
bleu ! 

Bang again ditto. Five bangs. The flag- 
staff topples and falls. Vive la France ! Vive 
la Republi-i-iq2ie ! 

And now, what Papeete (the French portion 
of it) wants to know is why their brave sailors 
didn't land and fight the barbarians, man to beast. 
What the English traders want to know is why 
Milsom allowed their flag to be fired on. What 
the Aubrevilliers commander wants to know is 
why Milsom didn't shin up the pole and get 
himself converted into long pig on reaching the 
bottom. What Milsom wants to know 

Well, dash it all ! He gets ^800 a year for 
doing it, anyhow. 



CHAPTER XIV 

BORA-BORA AND THE HOOLA-HOOLA 

" Strike up the dance ! The kava-bowl fill high 
Drain every drop to-morrow we may die ; 
In summer garments be our limbs arrayed, 
Around our waists the Tappa's white displayed." 

THE Croix du Sud left Raiatea the same after- 
noon. Not without interruption though. As the 
vessel neared the green strip of shallows mark- 
ing the reef there was a halloo from shore and 
the flash of a red blanket among the palms. A 
tiny canoe, its outrigger almost under water, was 
skirting the reef with a view to intercepting us 
before we reached deep water and liberty. One 
of the men, the second mate I believe, shouted 
something from the bridge in native, and Captain 
Pond, the very slightest tinge of impatience in 
his manner for he was the most amiable of men 
grabbed the handles of the telegraph. As the 
canoe drew near we could see it contained a girl 
and a boy. 

"Wants to go to Bora- Bora," grunted the 
mate "why couldn't she have made up her 

144 



Bora-Bora and the Hoola-Hoola 

blooming mind before? Tapeka, by all that's 
lively ! " 

"Has she money to pay her passage ? " queried 
the captain cautiously "if not, she can jolly well 
stay behind. We've had enough of these stow- 
aways." 

The ladder-chains rattled and the girl climbed 
on deck, the boy handing her up sundry bundles 
tied up in pareos. One of the bundles squeaked. 
It was very much alive. The others might have 
contained clothes, and, to judge by angular ex- 
crescences, tins of food. As Tapeka's bare feet 
trod the dust of the after-deck I caught sight of 
her face. She was still very young and pretty, 
with that savage style of prettiness only found 
in the smaller and more unmolested islands 
of the group a prettiness consisting of round 
puffed-out cheeks, woolly hair, and lips that seem 
made for anything rather than kissing. 

She looked very ill, very fagged, and worn. 
She was not unknown to the men of the Croix 
du Sud either. Her record in Papeete had been 
brilliant and bad. Also fate had dealt hardly 
with her. 

Now she paused, drew from her bundle three 
isolated Chile dollars, passed them to the mate, 
and with a grin which the malpractice of years 
had worn into a scowl, climbed the bridge and 

145 K 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

descended with her baby into the forecastle. 
Had she been of a sensitive nature she might 
possibly have jibbed at the way in which the 
two missionaries' wives, anaemic-looking ladies in 
loose white gowns, drew their virtuous skirts 
aside as her red robe threatened to brush the 
fringe. As it was, she merely said "iorana" and 
vanished down the ladder. A moment later she 
was waving a draggled handkerchief to the boy 
over the lee bulwarks. We were under way 
again as though nothing had happened. 

" That's the way with these creatures," solilo- 
quised the doctor cynically as the roar of Raiatea 
reef sounded behind us "they make a bee-line 
for Papeete as soon as they're able to toddle, and 
go cruising round till some fellow leaves them in 
the lurch, then back they go to their blooming 
island and ship off a cargo of their relations to 
follow their example. I hate the whole lot of 
them, by G I do. Beasts that's what they 
are, beasts ! " 

I cannot pretend (a fact for which I had reason 
to be thankful later) to having precisely echoed 
my worthy companion's sentiments, but then I 
was new to the islands and he was not. Here 
too alas ! familiarity sometimes breeds con- 
tempt. 

The mate of the Croix du Sud was a smart 
146 



Bora-Bora and the Hoola-Hoola 

fellow, with curly hair and dancing black eyes 
fhomme afemmes to the tips of his fingers. The 
captain met him in the companion. 

"No nonsense this trip, Jessop, eh? We've 
ladies on board, mind." 

"Ay ay, sir. She paid her fare all right, sir." 

" I know. Wouldn't have let her on board 
otherwise. Had enough of that game, savvy ? " 

The mate grinned. At 2 P.M. the twin peak 
of Bora-Bora peered shyly from behind the 
palms of Tahaa. Chancing to pass the cabin of 
the second mate, a man named Lakin, the cur- 
tains parted and I caught the white fire of a 
double row of teeth in the opening. Tapeka 
had found friends. 

At 4.30 we dropped anchor in the harbour of 
Bora- Bora, before the long whitewashed abomi- 
nation that does duty for schoolhouse. Right 
overhead towered Mount Pahua, its yellow, 
velvety buttresses falling sheer into the sea of 
palms and yellow - blossomed buraos. Farther 
along the undulating coast-line tiny bouquets of 
shrubbery rose from patches of shallow, leading 
away to where, dim on the southern sky-line, 
rose the blue triangle of the Tubai-Manou, the 
last and loneliest soul-asylum in the Tahitian 
Hereafter. 

The boat put us ashore at the rough jetty of 
H7 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

stone, where a few half-naked boys were amusing 
themselves fishing with sticks of bamboo and 
bent pins. Tapeka was one of the party. Un- 
like what we had experienced in Huahine, there 
was no welcoming crowd to receive us. The 
place looked singularly deserted. The long lines 
of burao-trees fringing the beach-road melted im- 
perceptibly into the tangled sea of undergrowth 
whence the tall palms shot skywards at intervals 
like rockets. Not a sound, not a native, not a 
single solitary flower-crowned lady to welcome us. 

Indeed, there was an all-sufficient reason for 
this. We had landed on an awkward day, at an 
awkward hour. 

Bora- Bora was at Sunday-school. 

Very proper too ! What a pity, like many 
beautiful things, the goodness of these dear 
innocents didn't bear a little more looking into. 
Vanitas vanitatum. And yet the outward signs 
were pretty enough. The sobbing cadence of 
voices through the bread-fruit, the gleaming white 
walls, and scattered dots of children sitting or 
lying outside the school-door. 

Shall I tell it ? There are some things about 
these paradises which one shrinks from relating, 
but it often happens that these are just the very 
things one ought to lay particular stress on. 
They are so thoroughly, so very thoroughly 

148 



Bora-Bora and the Hoola-Hoola 

Society-islandese. Here it is and don't tell 
Exeter Hall. 

We were waiting, oh, so demurely, so patiently, 
on the grass plot outside that school while the 
army of young ladies inside warbled himent after 
himene and the native teacher talked and talked. 
It seemed to me he must be trying to talk the 
ocean dry. And so good his flock were too ! 
Jessop tried to ogle the nearest one through the 
door, but the venture fell as flat as Koko in the 
" Mikado." Not a smile, not a wink. Only a 
drooping of the long lashes and a renewed study 
of the lesson-book. 

We were desperate. "What are you fellows 
waiting for ? " queried a gallant trader of the 
devil - may - care sort, slouching up, hands in 
pockets, his broad hat tilted comfortably over his 
eyes. 

We explained, in all modesty. We wished to 
see the sweetness of the land and pay our 
respects to it. Also take snapshots. But not 
on any account would we interrupt 

The trader scratched his head. "If you'll 
swear not to tell my wife," he said, "I'll engage 
to fetch 'em out." 

We thrilled. The proposition looked wonder- 
fully, deliciously wicked. A second later we 
blushed. The trader threw his hat on the 

149 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

ground, walked unceremoniously into the school- 
house, grabbed that innocent maundering native 
teacher by the arm and shook him ! 

So violent was the shake that the poor gentle- 
man's book (I believe he was a "reverend" too) 
flew one way and his spectacles the other. When 
he recovered, he turned to his flock and shouted 
out something which I suppose was a dismissal. 
Anyway, up jumped those young ladies with an 
alacrity which either argued ill for their piety or 
the teacher's eloquence I don't know which. 
And once outside ! What winks ! What antics ! 
Wha-a-at frolics on the green ! Who would have 
recognised a bevy of converted South Sea 
proselytes interrupted on the road to Parnassus 
and Paradise ! 

Bora-Bora, being on the uttermost fringe of 
the eastern Pacific island-world, makes a rather 
good place for a short stay. It is perhaps more 
truly native than any of the others of the group, 
and here, thank Heaven, there is only a slender 
sprinkling of those poetry-destroying iron roofs 
to make the landscape hideous. Once clear of 
the village and fairly out in the woods, all is 
typically Robinson Crusoe. The long bamboo- 
walled huts, the parties of fishermen mending 
their nets on the white coral curves, the naked 
brown babies sprawling on mats, the women with 

150 



Bora-Bora and the Hoola-Hoola 

baskets of taro, the long clumsy canoes and 
curiously shaped paddles it is an exotic doll's- 
house which the story-books of our infancy have 
taught us to wander in, the pretty savagery of 
nature beside which the workaday realities of our 
modern world seem impertinent and de trop. 

And this our blameless worship at the shrine 
of the eternally -natural brought us to the 
threshold of our evening's entertainment, a 
hoola-hoola. 

The trader beguiled us of course. Dances of 
a really typical kind are none too easily arranged, 
and the searcher after knowledge is ofttimes 
obliged to have recourse to diplomacy. The 
saintly brotherhood of missionaries don't exactly 
encourage this kind of devilment. Worse than 
that on some islands the hoola-hoola is sternly 
repressed by law and in Papeete the sight of a 
parcel of sorrowful beauties elbowed along by a 
majestic half-caste policeman is one of the most 
touching the market has to show. Here, how- 
ever, island-law is at its thinnest, and Bora-Bora 
morality is (shades of Bernardin de Saint Pierre !) 
at least the equivalent of the French. 

We had our hoola all right. It was placarded 
to begin at midnight and we spent the preliminary 
hours fortifying ourselves with gin and bitters in 
the cabin of the Croix du Sud. Gin and bitters 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

help scenery wonderfully. The row ashore was 
an impressive experience. Nowhere are nights 
so exquisite as in the Pacific. By way of en- 
hancing the magic of drifting flower-scents and 
twinkling shore-lights it was full moon, and the 
water where the oars struck it blazed with silver 
fire. This time at all events there was nothing 
ambiguous about our reception. The jetty was 
lined with vahines in all stages of gala-attire. 
On the lawn before the Chinaman's (it is the 
only establishment of the kind Bora-Bora has to 
show, butcher's shop, draper's, and furniture- 
emporium rolled into one) wicks of paraffin were 
burning. Benches for the spectators had been 
stolen from the schoolhouse. Among the more 
eager ones were the captain, the doctor, and the 
two missionaries' wives. The presence of the 
latter at this ultra-mundane entertainment shook 
me up a bit at first, but they explained that they 
were new to the islands and bent on following the 
native character to ground at any cost so I let 
it go at that and apologised. 

A dull booming sound came from the darkness 
of the palms. There is nothing peculiarly musical 
about the tone of the native drum, but on this 
unique occasion the surroundings lent it a weird 
mystery. The tall forms of white- robed women 
crept noiselessly into the outer rim of lamplight. 

152 




>! 



Bora-Bora and the Hoola-Hoola 

There were sheeted-ghost suggestions about their 
slender wrappings that jarred disagreeably at 
first, but a nearer inspection presently showed 
them in a livelier light. The costumes were much 
the same as those worn by the Papeete market- 
contingent, an extra allowance of bangles and a 
floating plume of riva-riva being the only notice- 
able additions. The latter is a preparation of 
coco-nut fibre and the nearest thing in the world 
to homely tissue-paper, though the name lends it 
originality. Two Kanakas armed with mouth- 
organs came forward and saluted. The dance 
began. 

The men and women were drawn up facing 
each other. Through her disguise of drapery 
I recognised Tapeka, whose failing health didn't 
apparently suffice to damp her spirits. The dance 
is difficult to do justice to in print. It begins 
demurely enough a slow undulating swaying 
movement, left to right and back again, a jelly- 
fish waving of the arms and a sideward gathering- 
in of the long skirts to exhibit the lissome figure 

" Strait-laced, but all too full in blood 
For puritanic stays "- 

as far as propriety permits. The men respond, 
making corresponding gestures far less grace- 
fully, however, and looking abominably prosaic 

153 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

in their blue overalls and straw hats. The falling 
coloured pareo, where worn, is more endurable. 
Thank Heaven ! the moonlight redeems things. 
Presently the mouth-organs strike a livelier tune. 
The dance begins to animate. Isolated girls 
spring out from the group and begin improvising 
al fresco, each trying to outdo her neighbour in 
the complexity or audacity of her figures. There 
is a kind of shake a triple-expansion quiver 
beginning at the head and ending at the heels 
which conies in very effectively here. Also it is 
an excuse for innuendo. A neat compliment, 
according to Bora-Borian ideas, is for a girl to 
get in front of you, cross her arms, stare you 
straight in the face, and shake till her floating 
cloud of riva-riva rustles like aspen, and her 
whole form seems wrapped in a luminous halo of 
quivering, flashing drapery. Our worthy Captain 
Pond a bit of a lady-killer on the quiet, though 
his wife doesn't know it was among the more 
favoured ones. Girl after girl took up her station 
in front of him, smiled winningly, and shook her- 
self till the rest of us jealously hoped and prayed 
she would shake herself to pieces. This sort of 
thing ends in two ways. Either the beauty 
retires warm, blushing, and exhausted, amid 
plaudits from the crowd, or else she loses her 
head completely and, tearing off some portion 

154 



Bora-Bora and the Hoola-Hoola 

of her floral caparison, flings it shyly into your 
lap in token of her deep and innocent affection. 

Have the Bora-Borians acquired the language 
of flowers ? I don't know. They have certainly 
invented one. But does the pale island-gardenia 
with its lily-like suggestions serve as emblem of 
a passion which the glowing hibiscus, the rose, 
the carnation, might surely expound more aptly ? 

Those lovely tiare-flowers ! One attribute at 
least is theirs which to the cynically minded 
might appear truthful enough. They fade quickly. 
One short half-hour in your button-hole will kill 
off the most exuberant bloom that ever embalmed 
the air. At least, it will kill the outward form. 
The aroma, the soul of the flower, remains, and 
with the magic of memory to aid it, may possibly 
cause heart-ache. Better not keep them. Latet 
anguis in floribus there is a latent anguish in 
flowers. What need to wait till your dream 
wither in the breath of the smoke-girt city ? 
Drop them in the cool sea. Peace will come to 
heart and fireside alike. 

No save to hyper-aesthetic missionarydom 
there is nothing especially improper about the 
hoola if carried out under classical island rules. 
But then there is the by-play. The impromptu 
present of a bunch of flowers of doubtful import 
is embarrassing enough no doubt, but to feel, 

155 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

while you sit bolt upright by the virtuous side 
of a European duenna, the slender fingers of a 
vahine tangling your back hair, is truly mad- 
dening. On these occasions it is the height of 
bad policy to turn and rebuke the nymph. 
She won't take the snub, and it only advertises 
matters. No, you must grin and bear it. When 
the dance is over shake her off if you can. 

And here the inevitable trader steps in and 
takes me down from fairyland by informing me 
that what we were witnessing was not the 
genuine hoola, only a base and civilised counter- 
feit. The real thing, it appears, is not permitted 
to be performed on any account. " But what 
does that matter?" genially, "you've seen the 
girls. That's all you want" 

A consoling philosophy, in sooth ! Like the 
supposed talking parrot who couldn't talk, but 
"was a beggar to think." Blow high, blow low, 
there is generally a fairy of consolation waiting 
round the corner for him who seeks. I am glad 
we saw the hoola, and in default of the wicked 
original am well pleased to put up with the harm- 
less civilised version as a substitute. 



CHAPTER XV 

"PAKE RAA TAI" (THE EBBING OF THE TIDE) 

" The palm waxes, the coral grows 
But man departs." 

Tahitian saying. 

OUR trip, the doctor's and mine, ended in Bora- 
Bora for the present. A month would elapse 
before the Croix du Sud would come to restore 
me to the civilities of French infantry officers in 
Papeete. I knew nothing of the island, but had 
letters of introduction to several settlers, one of 
them a Yankee named Morgan being the 
champion copra-fiend of the district, and a noted 
authority on vanilla. The population of Bora- 
Bora is Kanaka to the backbone, i.e. neither 
rich nor poor, unenterprising, unambitious, and 
lazy. There is a queen of course a descendant 
of Tetanui who doesn't live in the island, and 
who couldn't do much harm if she did. The 
principal export is copra, and, as in Tahiti, no 
attempt has been made to modernise or perfect 
the manner of its preparation. Here, too, the 
major portion of the available land is allowed to 
go naturally and beautifully to seed. There is, 

157 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

as at Huahine, a marae, founded by Orotefa, 
a historical swell with religious leanings d la 
Torquemada. The social element is composed 
of some half-a-dozen traders and an equal number 
of Celestials, and to them the beauty and fashion 
of the island turn for consolation as Kensington 
does to the "inner set," or midland villages to 
the curate and master of the hounds in our own 
country. 

The great twin-peak of Pahua dominates every- 
thing, an idol for heathenism, a landmark for 
wandering sailors once seen, never forgotten. 
Pahua has its story. It is said in former ages to 
have been the residence of the first and brightest 
of Bora-Bora landlords, the Sun-god Raa (how 
about Ra of the Egyptians, Messrs. Haggard and 
Lang?). Raa's ideas, unlike those of his descend- 
ants, were essentially progressive. This brought 
about his ruin. A jealousy on some minor point 
of celestial etiquette put a term to his lease. Raa 
hurled himself from the peak of Pahua and van- 
ished. His present residence is unknown to 
authorities. 

While reflecting on the providential beauty of 
these occurrences I was wandering undecidedly 
along the Broom-road between the glare of 
the beach and the deep shade of the forest. I 
had no idea where Morgan lived, but trusted to 

158 



Pahe raa tai 

chance, or the willingness of kindly minded 
natives to enlighten me. Passing a house buried 
deep in shade, my eye caught the well-known 
gleam of a scarlet dress. A girl stepped into the 
light. It was Tapeka. The ragged silhouettes 
of the bread-fruit leaves pricked out her thin form 
in mottled patches of light. She looked even 
paler, more emaciated, than on the previous day. 
A native boy of ten or twelve, shreds of fern 
woven into his unkempt locks, followed at her 
heels. 

I showed her the letter. She tried to decipher 
the address, sliding one arm lovingly around the 
boy's neck as she did so. The youngster was 
clearly a relation of hers. She was in her native 
island a sort of returning princess, no less. 

She handed me back the letter and tried a 
smile, but a dreadful fit of coughing took her and 
forced her to lean against the wall of the hut for 
support. In these lost atolls of the Pacific, the 
old Arab maxims of hospitality hold good. The 
stranger comes from God. She said something 
in broken gasps to the boy, who dived into the 
house like a rabbit, and returned with a snowy 
crown of dare- flowers. Tapeka smiled. 

" Coulonne Bola-Bola, ^a va bien," she said 
with indiscriminate massacration of the r as she 
handed me the crown. 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

I put the thing round the brim of my straw hat, 
albeit with some misgivings, for I had no desire 
to pose as a lunatic should we be unlucky enough 
to get pounced upon by Morgan or any other 
settler. 

The girl was coughing on a bole. Now she 
rose, balanced herself playfully on her heel, and 
started off along the path, motioning me to follow. 
Considering her poor state it was kind of her to 
volunteer as guide. We strolled along under the 
dark covering of leaves which glistened here and 
there from the reflected glare of the beach. At 
the mouth of a shallow valley, under some spread- 
ing willows, a handful of men were squatting on 
mats sorting newly - dredged shells. Tapeka 
stopped to exchange salutations, while the small 
boy slashed with his stick at a bush of flowering 
hibiscus, and grinned like a cannibal. 

It struck me to wonder what Tapeka had done 
with her baby. Left it in some hut along the 
road, perhaps. Certainly she was too weak to 
carry it. We said good-bye to the men, and 
stumbled on over the spreading banyan roots 
which covered the ground everywhere like mam- 
moth spiders' webs. Tapeka's hair was wet and 
draggled. On her forehead the drops of perspi- 
ration stood out like beads. 

There was the glint of a pandanus roof between 
1 60 



Pahe raa tai 

the trees, and the shrill squeals of a litter of pigs 
scampering into the underbrush. An old woman, 
her front teeth disfigured by unsightly gaps, 
came to meet us, followed by a demure child 
chewing a piece of water-melon. As Tapeka 
turned to me I could see her eyes were shining. 
The long lashes drooped. 

" Ma mere," she said in French. The old 
dame shook hands while Tapeka panted on a 
seat. Then she muttered something, went into 
the house and brought out a coco-nut, which I 
drank more for amiability's sake than thirst. I 
was loth to bother the girl further, but as I made a 
move to continue my way she jumped up, ran after 
me, and took my arm. Clearly she was deter- 
mined to see me through, if it cost her her life. 

At the deepest recess of the bay, under the 
shadow of a wooded hill, was something that 
looked like the promise of an avenue. As I 
turned up to Morgan's I saw the last I was ever 
fated to see of Tapeka in health and strength 
the flourish of red between the dark leaves, the 
glimmer of sunlight on the white hat with its halo 
of enveloping flowers, and, at the very moment 
the trees swallowed her, that terrible paroxysm of 
coughing that winged its way through the flower- 
scented air like a death-warning. 

Morgan received me kindly. He made ar- 
161 L 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

rangements for lodging me at a creeper-clad 
villa opposite the Vaitape wharf, belonging to 
an absent trader-cousin, and took me through 
some phases of his private life as a copra-planter. 
The open hospitality of these men is almost 
embarrassing to the new-comer. It takes some 
weeks for you to realise that it is the outer world, 
not yourself, that your host is saluting. You are 
the solitary link that binds him to home, family, 
and the blessings of civilisation, and he worships 
you accordingly. No use rhapsodising over the 
pictorial possibilities of his island. He is long 
dead to them, and won't sympathise. 

Three days later, coming back to Vaitape 
through the bread-fruit, I chanced to pass 
Tapeka's hut. She was lying on a mat in the 
shade, her younger sister bending over her with 
a fan of plaited palm-leaf. Inside the hut the old 
woman was preparing food. They were all very 
silent, and the customary greeting came from un- 
willing lips. Tapeka's cheeks were hollower than 
usual, and this time she dared not smile. 

On the following afternoon I met the doctor. 
Perhaps he guessed what was uppermost in my 
mind, for he began without preamble. 

" These people's constitutions are wretched," 
he said; "if it was a civilised Anglo-Saxon 
woman I might have pulled her through, but it's 

162 



Pahe raa tai 

the natural cussedness of these natives that out- 
wits me. She's simply letting herself slide. It's 
my opinion the girl doesn't want to live." 

I found nothing to say. The rude winsome- 
ness of Tapeka's manner had done its work. I 
choked and felt silly. " Have you been to see 
her?" I said. 

" I have. Father Bonnefin's with her now. 
He's the priest that brought her up. I'm afraid 
it's all u-p." 

There was no sleep for me that night. The 
heat under that roof was like a foretaste of the 
Inferno. To soften matters there were no cur- 
tains to my bed and the z z zp ! of a mosquito 
brought me to life whenever I thought of drop- 
ping off. Towards one in the morning some- 
thing stumbled into the room, barking their shins 
against my trunk and swearing hoarsely. 

" I say, P , are you awake, old man ? 

There's trouble up yonder. You haven't got such 
a thing as a hypodermic syringe in your kit ? 
No, of course not. Why should you? Mine's 
broke. Hi ! Johnny hold on a bit." 

The Kanaka dropped on the grass in a heap. 
The doctor threw himself into the solitary easy- 
chair, and wiped his face. There was a thrill of 
tragedy in the wind. "Is the girl dying?" I 
said. 

163 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

" By inches," was the reply. " I had intended 
to let her go easy with morphine, but the point of 
my syringe is nipped off, and she'll have to do 
without. What she wants now is a decent 
burial." 

Still with that grimness of tragedy gnawing at 
my vitals, I dressed and lit a cigar. My hand 
shook a bit, and as I handed a light to the doctor 

he noticed it. "You'd better not come, P ," 

he said, "if you're not proof." 

What element of conceit makes a man believe 
himself of use in all cases and under all circum- 
stances? We plunged off into the night, the 
gaunt shadow of the mountain above us and the 
scattered mist of star-jewellery seeming to dwarf 
everything in grandeur and purity. It was as 
dark as a wolfs mouth, but the flicker of light on 
the Kanaka's bundle as he stepped across the 
bands of moonlight guided us. There were lights 
in Tapeka's hut and rows of pareos squatting 
under the trees. On a long bed of matting lay 
something and over it bent an old woman, 
weeping. As she saw the doctor she threw up 
her hands and over her face crept a glory of hope. 
A short squat man, his angular features bathed in 
the smoky glare of the lamp, knelt at the foot of 
the couch. It was Father Bonnefin. Tapeka's 
sister and two other children crouched in a corner, 

164 



Pahe raa tai 

and in their midst something small stirred under 
a heap of blankets. 

"Pack all that crowd out of here," said the 
man of medicine unceremoniously, and in a second 
the hut was cleared. The old woman ceased 
weeping. No sound broke the silence but the 
muttered words of the priest and the buzzing 
of flies under the roof-thatch. The doctor had 
intended to administer morphine, but to judge 
from the quiet helplessness of the sufferer there 
was no longer any need for that, However, he 
did what he could. He cut the thin arms with a 
lancet and poured morphine into the cuts. The 
mother clasped her hands in adoration. How 
could she know the act meant kindly annihilation? 

The poison had a contrary effect to what might 
have been expected. Tapeka's eyes opened. 
The light from one of the torches without struck 
through an interstice in the bamboo, and as it did 
so a tiny wail rose from the bundle in the corner. 
Tapeka's head turned and an eager look came 
into her eyes. The baby was brought and held 
out to her. One of the weak hands caught the 
trailing fringe of the blanket, and the ghost of a 
smile broke over the girl's face as she tried to 
draw the child towards her. 

I saw the doctor's arm slide out warningly. 
There were reasons and reasons, why Tapeka 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

could not be allowed to kiss her baby. The 
cruelty was humanity in its widest and purest 
sense. The expression in the eyes changed from 
longing to a wild terrified vindictiveness. The 
lips moved, but the priest closed them with the 
crucifix and the sleep of eternity brought relief to 
the tortured heart. 

Tapeka died. 

The first rays of dawn were fringing the hill 
above us as we passed home through the wood. 
Far out to sea the peaks of distant islands flashed 
to life one by one as the light kissed their 
summits. Groups of natives were loitering 
before the Chinaman's or talking in knots on the 
lawn in front of the schoolhouse. The doctor 
turned to me abruptly and 

" Do you think these people have a soul?" he 
said. 

From the little whitewashed building buried in 
its clump of odorous frangipani the strokes of a 
bell came to our ears. It was Sunday morning. 
In a short hour the people would be crowding 
like little children to sing the praises of Him who, 
pure as the waters of this fairy sea, has mercy in 
His heart for every creature that breathes. 



166 



CHAPTER XVI 

AN INTERLUDE 

" And yet they came unsought, and with me grew 
And made me all that they can make a name." 

THE Croix du Sud reached Papeete, December 2. 
A new vessel was in port, the American war-ship 
Albatross, chartered by Professor Agassiz for the 
purpose of investigating the mysteries of South 
Sea Island coral formations. 

The authorities were in a state of dance. The 
Albatross had, with a confidence bred from purity 
of motive, dropped anchor opposite the post- 
office, on a spot unluckily sacred to the presence 
of a certain French cruiser, then on circuit in the 
Marquesas. 

The round of moustache-tugging began. This 
pretended investigation of coral reefs looked 
singularly dark and murderous. Before the 
Albatross had well finished tightening her 
hawsers no one in the army of red-tape had any 
doubts but that her sole purpose in visiting the 
island was to spy out the weakness of the land 

167 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

and prepare for a future sweeping of inky-fingered 
officials into the Pacific dust-bin. 

Explanations were demanded. The com- 
mander went on shore to interview the governor, 
and the latter somewhat nervously returned 
the compliment by allowing Mr. Agassiz's neat 
Herreshoff launch to spirit him on board the 
Albatross. They showed him the guns and he 
shuddered, a shudder that not even the fact that 
there were no cartridges on board to load them 
had hostilities been intended could properly 
dispel. He was shown the museum, the tank of 
fishes, the sounding apparatus. Americans are 
people of dreadful ways. The governor went on 
shore in a hurry, a fact that annoyed the com- 
mander, who had gone to the trouble of getting 
special cocktails mixed for the interview. 

Things were further complicated by several of 
the Albatross s officers going ashore on the follow- 
ing day to take declination measurements. There 
was a silver-flashing policeman waiting for them 
under the sycamores. The dipping-needle, in its 
case of polished mahogany with brass binding, 
looked singularly dangerous. There was a polite 
interview, punctuated with bows and scrapes. 
The officers, rather rumpled, fizzed their way 
back on board. Surveying was declared off for 
the time being. 

168 



An Interlude 

Meanwhile the English colony of Papeete had 
got their enthusiasm up to concert-pitch. The 
Yankee savants were feted like heroes. A splendid 
picnic was organised in Mr. Atwater's residence 
at the entrance to the Fantaua Valley. A tent 
fifty yards long, flashing in all the colours of the 
rainbow, was hung between the stems of the 
mango trees. The American officers found out 
what it is like to sit cross-legged on a mat before 
a table a foot high, while discreet servant-girls 
in flowing blue robes crowned their republican 
brows with wreaths of tiare or jasmine. They 
learned to appreciate sea-scorpions boiled in coco- 
nut milk, and fish served raw with the addition of 
a little vinegar. The French officials ceased to 
scowl. Clearly there was not much harm in these 
men. Papeete decided to take Agassiz to its 
bosom. 

From the higher tiers of Society hospitality 
settled groundwards. The long - shore men 
chummed in with the Albatrosss foc'sle hands. 
One of these chummings terminated serio-comic- 
ally. "Dodger" Raynes, a man of many shifts, 
invited four engine-room hands to dine with him 
at Yet Lee's the long-suffering Chow whose 
dyspepsia - breeding establishment fronts the 
market. 

Raynes, among other things, was not in the 
169 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

habit of paying for the food he ate, and being a 
regular man, had no intention of doing so now. 
In the midst of wine, victuals, and anecdotes the 
formality of the bill became overlooked. Raynes 
put his hat on his head and, a look of blank inno- 
cence on his face, sidled thoughtfully into the 
street. Three of the guests immediately fol- 
lowed. There are limits even to a Chinaman's 
patience. Grabbing hold of the last remaining 
sailor, Yet Lee demanded, in an excited voice and 
manner, who was going to pay the piper. The 
flashing eyes and weird cigarette-box gestures of 
the Celestial were too much for the Yankee. His 
fist struck the bridge of Yet Lee's nose and the 
Chow went over like a shot rabbit. Yet Lee's 
assistant " Kitty " went for an axe, and the fun 
began in real earnest. The street was choked 
with an army of struggling, rioting humanity. 
Kitty's axe did wonders, and within a very few 
minutes several of the Albatross's sailors were 
bleeding like stuck pigs. Next morning on 
reaching the American vessel I found Rodman, 
the chief officer, shaving in his cabin and very 
perplexed. There was a neat pile of papers lying 
on the table, which told me the authorities had 
not been idle. 

" What am I to do ? " said the chief comically 
as the steward brought in the inevitable tray of 

170 




-1' 



An Interlude 

cocktails. " Each one of these fellows tells a 
different story." Then, with a sudden burst of 
inspiration " I tell you how we'll manage it. 
You've got a blue coat on your back. We'll 
have 'em in one by one and I'll play you off for 
a French official. All you've got to do is to mind 
your cue and look important." 

And so, for the first and last time in my life, I 
obtained, by proxy, a situation under the wing of 
that great and free Republic. 



171 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE ISLES OF THIRST A RUN IN A NATIVE 
SCHOONER 

" Her flag ? I had no glass, but fore and aft, 
Egad ! She looked a wicked-looking craft." 

THE Pacific ! It is a sublime word to describe a 
sublime sea, and yet it doesn't seem to fit, some- 
how. It was during one of the Ovalaus fly-away 
visits to Papeete that Captain Macduff took me 
to his cabin and showed me the chart. 

It looked horribly complicated. Every inch of 
the paper was crammed with figures and arrows 
and crosses till you began to wonder whatever 
could induce any reasoning being to try navigation 
in such a devil of a sea. 

" Pooh ! That's nothing ! " laughed the captain. 
" Wait till you see the Paumotus." 

The Paumotus ! I had seen them in my mind's 
eye already, scores of times. The name had 
branded itself on my imagination in a hundred 
tales of wreck and loneliness. Then, as rumour 
shaped itself to fact, I learned that the Paumotus 
are a crescent-shaped group of islands some two 

hundred miles to the east of Tahiti, an embryo 

172 



The Isles of Thirst 

French protectorate, dangerous enough to wreck 
the fleets of the earth and lonely enough to drive 
isolated settlers to suicide. 

The group is all the more striking owing to 
the contrast its scenery presents with that of the 
lovely Society Islands. Here there are no lofty 
mountains to frame a sylvan paradise of fruit 
and flowers. Here you find no shady, flirtation- 
provoking alleys, no streams, no milky cascades 
or cold pools not even a pond or a solitary 
puddle. Everything is dry, waterless, forbid- 
ding, and lonely. The land is so low as to be 
quite invisible, even at a few miles' distance. 
The slender line of green formed by the serrated 
tops of the coco-palms is the first to appear, then 
the long line of white sand and the reef with its 
rolling breakers. 

One of the most exasperating facts connected 
with the group is the nomenclature. Each 
island has a bushel of names, and few charts 
agree as to which is the right one. The very 
designation of the archipelago is open to argu- 
ment. It is variously called the Low Archipelago, 
rArchipel Dangereux, the Paumotu, and the 
Tuamotu Islands. The latter two titles are the 
most used, and even here there is an antiquarian 
squabble for preferment. It is connected with a 
native conceit, of course. When, in the year 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

one, these islands were first conquered by the 
Tahitian pioneers, their humiliation was branded 
on posterity under the title Po-motu (conquered 
islands). The adjective displeased the natives. 
Though clad in a breezy pareo, and dowered 
with the activity of his cousin the turtle, the 
Pomotuan possesses the pride of a Spanish 
grandee. A delegation was got up, and now, 
after a century of wrangling, they have been 
graciously permitted to change it to Tuamotu 
(far-off islands). 

The group numbers some twenty respectable 
atolls varying from ten to forty miles in diameter, 
and a hundred smaller sand-dabs. Surveying 
operations have been very incomplete in parts, 
and not all the fortitude of a score of French 
Government schooners has been able to chivy 
the majority of the islands into their correct 
position on paper. This makes navigation in- 
teresting. Steam connection between the various 
inhabited parts of the group is beautifully rare. 
The Union steamer Rotoava plies regularly 
between a few of the more important atolls, 
including Anaa (Chain Island), Makemo, Faka- 
rava, and Hikueru, the latter being the nucleus 
of the pearl-shell industry. The smaller islands, 
Vahitahi, Nukutavaki, Ahunui, &c., are only 
visited by occasional native schooners in search 



The Isles of Thirst 

of copra, and as the navigational science of a 
native skipper is several degrees more sketchy 
than his attire, I doubt whether a voyage in one 
of their barques would commend itself to the 
many. Only an idiot would trust himself to the 
mercies of a Kanaka skipper. Of late years 
the annals of Tahiti only record the case of one 
solitary idiot who had the hardihood to do this. 
That idiot was myself. 

I don't know what persuaded me to try my 
luck that way perhaps a dare-devil spirit of 
recklessness, perhaps a genuine love of inquiry, 
perhaps merely a spell of impatience attendant 
on waiting for the Union boat to start. 

It was in Lambert's saloon on the edge of the 
Papeete market that I first met the skipper of 
the Vaitipe. He was a fine specimen of Kanaka 
manhood, tall and bronzed as a South Sea Apollo, 
with a pair of gleaming black eyes and a row of 
cannibal teeth that sparkled in the lamplight in 
a way that left no doubt of his earnestness. He 
had come in his frail barque all the way from 
Flint Island, a matter of a thousand miles or so, 
and was bound for Hikueru on a pearl-trading 
contract. We were bosom friends inside of ten 
minutes, and went for a tour round the market, 
where he "stuck" me for a ten-cent, phonograph 
ditty and three slices of pink water-melon the 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

latter being a gift to his adoring harem. There 
were half-a-score of obliging damsels hanging 
suggestively around, one or two of whom the 
skipper's gift of blarney had talked from their 
home in the distant Marquesas. He ignored 
them superbly, and yarned about shark-fishing 
in a way that went to my heart. I retired to 
bed with my eyes full of early-navigator fire. 
To sail in a real copra-schooner, to fish for sea- 
monsters, to land on nameless islands and carry 
off ladies in Viking fashion it seemed romantic 
enough to knock spots out of Ballantyne. I 
would go, if it cost me my life. 

Next day there was a sickly white two-masted 
tub straining at her moorings opposite D. & E.'s 
store, with three pink ladies squatting on the 
grass, and a native boy doing a hymn to the 
rising sun on a comb over the counter. Pedro 
Makete (he must have been of Chilian descent) 
met me on deck, and gripped my hand like a 
brother. The Vaitipe was a cutter-rigged vessel 
of some fifty tons burden. She was loaded 
heavily with lumber and fruit to both of which 
the Paumotus are strangers and her after-deck 
was smothered under an immense striped awning, 
to protect the heaps of pine-apples with their 
nucleus of buzzing wasps from the glare. He 
showed me my cabin. It was a stuffy kennel, 

176 



The Isles of Thirst 

measuring some six feet by eight, its walls frescoed 
with coloured female portraits torn from soap 
advertisements. There were four white painted 
bunks and a rude table stained with the marks of 
last night's beer-glasses. In one of the bunks a 
broken sextant was sandwiched cheerfully between 
two biscuit tins and a suit of dirty overalls. The 
indicator scale was encrusted with green marks, 
and some wire contrivance on the vernier told 
me it had been subjected to a process of amateur 
tinkering. The overpowering odour of bananas 
filled everything, and there was a suggestion of 
pigs in the foc'sle that made me feel bilious. 
Pedro waved his hand proudly in the direction of 
a locker filled with preserved beef-tins. " Plenty 
food there," he said with a grin. I didn't feel 
quite easy in my mind, but the adventure was 
entertaining, and had to be gone through with. 

As I reappeared on deck I found an audience 
to receive me. Three more Kanakas and their 
ladies had come to criticise and offer suggestions. 
A few clerks from the store lounged up and made 
frivolous remarks. Besides the skipper of the 
Vaitipe there was a Kanaka in football rig, a 
black cook with Chinese eyes, and a small stout 
Moorean with fef-like suggestions about his 
legs. The latter gentleman was dibbling for 
sprats over the side, but rose and said " iorana " 

177 M 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

in a tone that left no alternative but to instantly 
shake hands with him. It struck me that in my 
neat ducks and white umbrella I must look rather 
quaint. Three men from the club on their way 
to lunch at the hotel stopped to admire me. One 
of them De Smidt an inveterate partner in my 
crimes, laughed cynically. "Good G , man, 
you're not going to sail in that tub ? " 

I explained, and said I thought it romantic. 

" Oh, you'll get all the romance you need before 
you're through," was the reply. "Come along to 
lunch now. It'll be the last Christian meal you'll 
have for a month." 

I allowed myself to be convinced, and joined 
them. I packed my trunk, locked my house, and 
hired a Kanaka to convey my belongings down 
to the wharf. A French officer put in an appear- 
ance, and made me open my valise to see whether 
I had any dynamite concealed there. After that 
I had to undo a roll of blankets to prove that I 
wasn't trying to smuggle farinaceous substances 
duty free. I made the official smell my note- 
book and count my collars. Then I felt safe. 

The thermometer might have been at 100 in 
the shade. Along the decks of the Vaitipe the 
pitch was running cheerfully in parallel lines. 
Some one had brought an accordion to the rescue, 
and the panting refrain of the market hoola 

178 



The Isles of Thirst 

mingled comically with Pedro's gigantic jerks as 
he tried to hoist the dirty sails. As the hawsers 
were cast off the vessel gave one or two hysterical 
rolls, and I sat down violently on the pitch- 
streaked deck. I rose, striped like a zebra. The 
romance was beginning, sure enough. When I 
recovered myself, it was to see the rows of trees 
sliding away, and the vessel's prow heading for 
the reef-opening. 

Pedro took her out neatly enough, though he 
didn't bother getting the signals in line. The 
sea was rolling in solid blue combers, the wind 
was from the west, and as the Paumotus lie 
nearly due east from Tahiti, was theoretically 
bound to help us. Besides our cargo of pigs and 
fruit we carried about half-a-ton of corrugated 
iron for roofing. The vessel rolled fearfully, and 
as the palms of Point Venus hove in sight I 
began to feel very sea-sick. Pedro sat in the 
companion, his boots sticky with pitch, and 
smoked a peculiarly venomous pipe. In the 
opening of the hatchway appeared a female face 
with wet masses of hair clinging to her forehead. 
I recognised one of the damsels of last night. In 
the light of day she appeared very homely, and 
as the wind shifted in gusts something told me 
that the layer of oil in her hair wanted renewing. 

I pulled out my notebook and tried to jot 
179 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

down details of the scenery. We were crossing 
the mouth of one of the deeper valleys, and high 
in the clouds the blue Diadem appeared like a 
pale shadow. The sun was low, and the cloud- 
shadows saddled the sloping ribs in irregular 
splotches. The damsel in pink her name was 
Taaroa came and stretched herself with friendly 
intent at full length on the planking beside me. 
Presently she rose and made a dive for the 
bulwarks. Peace flowed in on me. When one 
is suffering from sea-sickness oneself, the sight of 
some one else in like agony acts as a consoler. 

The sun went down before we lost sight of 
Tahiti. Something that smelt sickening was 
frying in a pan in the galley. There was a flare 
of light in the .doorway as a Kanaka in blue 
trousers stepped out with a smoking tin in his 
arms. The pigs on the deck yelled protest. 
The Vaitipe lurched heavily ; the Kanaka nearly 
lost the tin, but caught it again as its contents 
were alighting on the back of a hog. Pedro's 
face appeared at the hatchway. " Dinner ready, 
sah," he said. 

I didn't feel like dinner, but thought it would 
look land-lubberly not to make an effort, and 
climbed downstairs into that dreadful cabin with 
its bobbing lamps and ghostly newspaper-cuttings. 
It was a queer meal. There were no chairs, but 

1 80 



The Isles of Thirst 

the skipper pushed an empty packing-case 
towards me. He himself sat in the lower bunk 
and ate from the plate with his fingers. The 
contents of one of the beef-tins had been emptied 
into a tin slop-pail with the addition of a dozen 
chopped-up carrots. The very appearance of the 
slop-pail put me off. I had seen Taaroa washing 
her face in a vessel of very much the same size 
that afternoon, and the suggested idea was not 
encouraging. I also discovered now what the 
mess was our worthy cook had nearly given to 
the pigs. It was a dish of fried onions. In the 
midst of the feast, a gust of wind down the sky- 
light blew the lamp out, and we had to hunt for 
the matches in darkness while the dishes jangled 
prettily and the contents of the slop-pail dis- 
tributed themselves over the mate's corduroy 
trousers. For drink there was rum and water. 
I have since heard of the trick played on sea-sick 
midshipmen by canny superiors. When a man 
is in doubt offer him rum and water. I took a 
glass of Pedro's mixture. It was good enough 
for rum, especially Tahitian rum, but the result 
was surprising terrifying. It seemed to me I 
must have parted with some of my interior 
arrangements. After an hour's agony on deck 
I crept into my bunk drenched with spray, wet, 
and miserable. Taaroa vahine came down 

181 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

towards midnight, and her snuffling as she pro- 
ceeded to disrobe made me feel like a criminal. 
On the following morning I awoke feeling a 
trifle better, though the wind had shifted appa- 
rently and the vessel was anything but steady. 
The Kanaka cook brought in a pailful of coffee 
and immersed the cups in it one by one. Taaroa 
vahine crept from her bunk and sat down on the 
floor with a bread-and-butter sandwich. The 
skipper was still snoring composedly. I tumbled 
out and went on deck. It was a lovely morning, 
but the sea was still rolling mountain high and the 
Vaitipes rail was buried in foam. The hogs were 
grunting cheerfully in six inches of sea- water. I 
clawed hold of the cabin skylight to prevent 
myself falling and went astern. The first sight 
that met my gaze was the man at the wheel. He 
was asleep. The wheel was unguarded, and as 
each successive sea struck the rudder the fellies 
revolved prettily like the sails of a toy windmill. 
Apparently we had been drifting all night. 

I flew downstairs and awoke the skipper. He 
was not in the least disconcerted. He shuffled 
on deck, grabbed the steersman by the collar and 
shook him. Then he blinked at the sun, pulled 
the wheel round a couple of turns and gave the 
course. 

"Dam lazy fellow Kanaka-man, eh?" he said 
182 



The Isles of Thirst 

with a grin, "Kanaka-man no good" (with that 
air of hauteur common to the half-caste) "too 
much dam sleepy, eh ? " 

He sat down on the combing of the hatchway, 
rested his bare feet meditatively against the bul- 
warks, reached for a banana, peeled it, and com- 
menced to eat it. 

" Great Scott, man ! " I gasped, as a hissing 
cloud of spray drenched me, "we've been drifting 
about all night ! Do you mean to tell me you're 
not even going to take an observation ? " 

But Pedro didn't intend taking an observation, 
and for a good reason. His sextant was smashed, 
his book of logarithms gone the way of all such 
dull reading, while 

" That trembling vassal of the pole 
The feeling compass " 

was represented by a sixpenny brass toy about 
an inch in diameter, suitable for watch-chain use, 
and probably won in a raffle by one of Pedro's re- 
latives in years past. We scudded along all day 
under jib and staysail. Taaroa appeared at eight 
bells with some coco-nuts, which she proceeded 
to chop open, flinging the white to the pigs and 
drinking the milk herself. I took Pedro to task 
about the course. It was a thankless job. 
Technical matters wearied him and he said so. 

183 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Presently, on the cook announcing dinner, he 
brightened up. 

" I guess it'll be all right," he said philo- 
sophically. 

This time I endured the beef and carrots with- 
out being ill, but thought it hardly advisable to 
tackle the rum. I came on deck towards eight. 

o 

The night was pitch dark and windy. The waves, 
however, were no longer so violent, and I thought 
I might venture to stand in the prow. There 
was no trace of a moon. The sea was like a 
dark carpet, the broad patches of foam showing 
up palely in the light of the few stars. At times 
the Vaitipe would slide smoothly across an inky 
space of sea for a distance of twenty yards or so, 
then whack ! down she went full force into the 
trough and the rebellious spray shot out from 
beneath her prow like wings. 

I don't know at precisely what moment of my 
summing-up I arrived at the conclusion that we 
were sailing along without lamps. When I did 
it gave me a shock. 

I found the skipper sitting on the cabin table 
with a concertina, one of Taaroa's flower-wreaths 
framing his angular features. He was not dis- 
composed in the least. He furbished up an old 
box of matches from the bread-locker, handed 

them to me and told me to light the lamps myself. 

184 



The Isles of Thirst 

I accepted the humour of the situation and 
obeyed meekly. The greens and reds had of 
course been wrongly placed, but I soon remedied 
that. On applying the match I found there was 
no oil in either of them. I sung out to Taaroa 
and she handed me up a tin of kerosene through 
the skylight. The lamps flared genially for one 
mortal hour, at the end of which period both went 
out, and I found on examining matters that the 
wicks needed renewing. There were no more 
wicks on board, however. Pedro set the lamp 
down on the cabin table and tried to prise the 
remnants of the wick out with a pin. Presently 
a roll of the boat sent the whole concern flying 
off the table and smashed the chimney to powder. 
We had only the green light to sail by now. I 
felt inclined to weep. Pedro guessed it was all 
right. I guessed it was not all right, and turned 
into my bunk in a bad humour. 

Next morning as I crawled on deck in pyjamas 
for a spray bath I saw the blue triangle of an 
island notched on the starboard sea- rim. It was 
Mehetia, ninety odd miles from Papeete, the 
most easterly island of the Society group. My 
sluggish blood bounded again. Land at last ! 
A release from bunk, beef, carrots, and Taaroa's 
monoi-scented top-hamper. Hurrah ! Now, how 
about landing ? What says the wily Pedro ? 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Well Pedro says on the whole he'd rather not 
land at Mehetia. There is only one settler on 
the island, it appears. He and Pedro quarrelled 
over a lady some months ago and they threatened 
to shoot each other on sight. Pedro doesn't fear 
white men, of course don't care a damn for them 
in fact still, he has reasons for believing the 
settler in question to be a man of his word. 
Besides, Pedro has an aged mother. No, he had 
rather give Mehetia a wide berth. 

I got no glimpse of fresh coco-nuts that day. 
To make matters yet more pleasing the sea came 
in and pickled our supply of carrots. A jerky, 
puffy wind sprang up about 6 P.M. and brought 
the staysail rattling down about our ears. It 
threatened to be a dark night, and as the 
materials for repairing the damage were stowed 
away at the bottom of the hold among sacks of 
pine-apple, the skipper decided to lie on and off 
till morning. He was practising " My Coal-black 
Lady" on his concertina and the repose was 
necessary to his nerves. The vessel once more 
sluddered down amicably into the trough of the 
sea, and from my bunk I heard Taaroa wheezing 
over the bulwarks. 

Eight bells on the following morning found us 
speeding along at a dare-devil seven knots in a 

direction indicated by the skipper's pocket com- 

186 



The Isles of Thirst 

pass. I calculated that if a man might point a 
gun into the air at random and hit a bird, we 
might possibly hit Hikueru. The Pacific is a big 
place, and the prospect of unlimited roving in 
that wretched hen-coop, and perhaps the possi- 
bility of a lingering death from thirst was not 
congenial. But Pedro was quite content. He 
guessed it was all right and settled down to his 
mouth-organ with the air of a man who is master 
of his destiny. 

Finally, on the seventh day out, a thin line of 
gray appeared in the east, which as the sun 
climbed up to noon gradually resolved itself into 
a double line of yellow and green, long, regular, 
and monotonous as a fiddle-string. 

Land undoubtedly but what land? There 
was no map on board that we could trust, and 
with that devil-may-care style of navigation the 
best of maps would be a Chinese puzzle. The 
wind dropped as we slid up alongside of the 
beach, which in its level regularity might have 
passed at a distance for a whitewashed fence 
shutting in a long garden. We had undoubtedly 
struck one of the Paumotu group, but which 
one? The beach was deserted as a grave. 
Pedro wasn't disconcerted. He dropped the 
rusty anchor overboard, tilted his hat over his 
eyes, meditated, cut a plug of tobacco, thrust it 

187 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

in his mouth, hitched up his suspenders, and 
retired downstairs for a siesta. 

I felt unhappy. The uncertainty of latitude 
was eating into my soul, and in default of some- 
thing better to do I determined to go ashore 
and reconnoitre. The Vaitipe was not exactly 
anchored. She was moored in some six feet of 
water at the brink of a coral-slope that fell away 
to infinity a yard behind our stern. The water 
was wonderfully calm, which was just as well, for 
had there been a breeze we should have gone to 
pieces like a castle of cards. I decided to make 
an effort. The water in the prow looked about 
two feet deep, also sea-water doesn't affect duck 
trousers. I clambered boldly down the bow- 
chains and found myself with an ignominious 
splash in four feet of lukewarm water, with my 
heels on a level with my head and my papier- 
mdchd helmet bobbing cheerfully seawards. I 
captured it and struck out for the shore. I was 
conscious of looking a miserable object. My 
trousers clung to my shin-bones, my helmet was 
half melted, the coral sand was sticking to my 
wet boots I felt as though I wanted to kill 
somebody. 

Then, in the height of my misery, a voice 
accosted me from the shadow of the underbrush. 

There was a glimmer of blue, a flash of silver 

188 



The Isles of Thirst 

it was a French official ! At any other time the 
contrast he offered to the poetry of his surround- 
ings might have jarred me, but in my then strait 
I felt more inclined to fall on his shoulder and 
weep. 

" What is this island ? " I managed to articulate, 
after I had slobbered mutely for some moments. 

" Anaa, monsieur." 

Anaa, and we are bound for Hikueru ! Merely 
a hundred and fifty miles out. Let me be thank- 
ful for small mercies and get ashore anyhow. 
We can do the reckoning-up part later. 



189 



CHAPTER XVIII 

ANAA LIFE ON A CORAL ATOLL 

" By the sands where sorrow has trodden 
The salt pools bitter and sterile 
By the thundering reef and the low sea-wall 
And the channel of years." 

SEVEN days to do a hundred and sixty miles ! 
And I suppose this is what a native skipper 
would call a splendid run. Done by guesswork 
too without compass or chronometer. Had I 
allowed it, Pedro would doubtless have taken me 
over the entire Pacific the same way. Small 
wonder that parties of natives are occasionally 
picked up on the shores of nameless islands in a 
dying condition, drifted three or four thousand 
miles out of their course. They tell me families 
of Kanakas have been known to leave Tahiti 
to go to Bora-Bora, and eventually fetch up in 
Fiji or Hawaii. Words are words, and to an 
ungeographical reader this may not mean much. 
But what would you think of a man who started 
to go from London to Dover and landed by 
mistake in South America ? Yet such is Kanaka 

seamanship. 

190 



Anaa 

Once on shore at Anaa my imperial spirit 
blazed. I determined I had had enough of 
romance. I would wait for the Union steamer 
and get wafted to Hikueru in civilised fashion. 
The skipper pleaded pathetically. My desertion 
cut him to the heart. " You friend-o'-mine," he 
said generously; "you no white man you Kanaka- 
boy." The compliment hit me in a tender spot, 
but I was adamant. I would wait for the Union 
steamer. In the meantime there was a week to 
be whiled away, and there are many livelier places 
to while away a week in than the breezy sun- 
scorched Paumotus. 

Anaa, taking it by and large, is by no means 
an uncreditable exponent of the group's char- 
acteristics. It is the nucleus of Paumotu island 
culture, and, together with Fakarava, the starting- 
point of all politico-religious learning. For the 
benefit of those who are fortunate enough to be 
unfamiliar with the practical construction of a 
coral atoll I will try and describe its leading 
features. 

Imagine a ring of flat sand-patches thrown on 
the face of the sea, a ring whose component parts, 
some of them decent-sized islands, are separated 
by warm channels of sea- water channels varying 
from twenty to two hundred yards in width, mostly 
impassable for large vessels, some of them even 

191 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

for boats. Imagine this girdle of sand, which 
may measure from ten to forty miles in diameter, 
filled with a vast lake of still, warm, oily water, so 
blue and limpid that it shames the sky itself. 
Imagine the edges of this lagoon fringed with 
palms, dust-discoloured cactus, bread-fruit, and 
straggling pandanus bushes. Imagine the long 
windy fields marked into occasional plantations 
by walls of crumbling coral and set off by the 
chalky gleam of a few settlers' houses. Not a 
hill, not a hollow only the endless even layer of 
burning coral sand frescoed with the shadows of 
its nodding palms. For music the roar of the 
reef and the occasional z-z-z-zrp ! of a bread-fruit 
ripping through dry leaves such is Anaa. The 
reef runs right up to the base of the palms, a sort 
of shelving submarine beach damnable to tender 
feet and warranted to wreck the stoutest pair 
of sea-boots in less than no time. From the 
pyramidal beacon of stone topped by the flutter- 
ing tricolor clear out to where the rollers are 
crashing, a passage has been hewn in the coral. 
The landing, even in a civilised long-boat with 
European sailors, is exciting. There is no talk 
of rowing into the passage. You must shoot it. 
The boat dawdles about some twenty yards from 
the opening while the mate, gripping the steer- 
oar, watches his opportunity. Now then! Ready! 

192 



Life on a Coral Atoll 

The great comber gives the boat a heave that 
sends your heart to your mouth, and away you go 
in a mist of spray, scudding down on those deadly 
rocks at the speed of an express train. It is a 
ticklish moment. The passage is barely ten feet 
wide. Either you hit it off neatly and get landed 
in safety, or else the boat strikes the coral and 
goes miserably to pieces. But native pilots are 
clever at this sort of thing, and the ease with 
which they perform the difficult manoeuvre is 
really wonderful. 

The first glimpse of a Paumotu village is inter- 
esting enough. It soon palls, however. When 
you have seen one you have seen the lot. There 
are no roads, properly speaking. Roads would 
be a useless luxury. The ground is so level that 
were it not for the inlets a cart could move unin- 
terruptedly round the whole ring. The main 
street is generally a neat broad avenue of pow- 
dered coral flanked by green lily plants or a 
double row of white boulders. There is a large 
whitewashed Protestant church, a portentous- 
looking graveyard shut in by walls of neatly sawn 
coral, a farehau or police station, and a school- 
house. The houses are the usual one - storey 
planter dwelling with a diminutive garden in 
front, painted wooden railings, a verandah, and 
a latticed outhouse. There are even fewer char- 

193 N 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

acteristic architectural traits than in Tahiti, the 
majority of settlers having adopted corrugated 
iron in preference to bamboo or pandanus. They 
tell me a goodly number of these hideous shanties 
are not paid for. I am glad of it. May they 
continue unpaid, and may the agonies of the 
vendor compensate for those of the tourist. To 
enjoy certain things one must be thoroughly 
heartless. 

In spite of new-fangled suggestions, the reign- 
ing impression of desolation grows stronger each 
minute. You feel you are at the getting-off place 
of the world. There are pathetic reminders at 
every turn. In a glary acre of sand dotted with 
unsightly palm-stumps some one had tried to dig 
a well. The side-wall of brick had fallen in, the 
iron windlass was a heap of rust, a thrown pebble 
discovered a scuttering of crabs in the green slime 
of the bottom. In another place a settler (he 
turned out afterwards to be a German) had at- 
tempted a garden. He had marked the walks 
and planted the flowers, but the terrible sun had 
withered everything, and only bare rings of shells 
showed where the beds ought to have been. 
How far was the loved abode in the Fatherland 
whose memory this lonely man had tried to 
invoke ? 

For more than half the day not a soul is stir- 
194 



Life on a Coral Atoll 

ring. Nothing indicates that the houses are not 
deserted. In a marshy hollow you may possibly 
see an old woman, her face shrivelled like a dried 
apple, washing clothes in the coffee-coloured mud. 
Or you pass the schoolhouse where the boys are 
reading their lessons in monotonous chant, B a 
bay, B u boo, with side looks of shiftless 
curiosity which, after the livelier youth of Papeete, 
strike you unpleasantly. Then the vision passes 
and you are once more lost in the glare of the wood. 

Oh, the ghastly solitude of those Paumotu 
forests ! Not the solitude of the jungle or savan- 
nah, where each rotting log carries its freight of 
living creatures, nor yet that of the Mexican 
plateaux, whose sombre fir-copses are haunted by 
the shades of a million ancient kings but the 
solitude of Nature clad in her forbidding armour 
of coral ; offering nothing, promising nothing, 
fulfilling nothing exulting in her poverty, flaunt- 
ing her rag-panoply of palms at the brazen sky ; 
a palace of dreadful day where loneliness reigns 
smiling and supreme. 

And yet these nightmares of islands have their 
uses. The soil is valuable for copra-growing, and 
these apparently barren acres are jealously guarded 
by the Tahitian authorities. 

Life in Anaa is Tahiti-and-water, or rather 
Tahiti without water. If there is any bathing 

195 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

to be done you must do it in the sea or in the 
lagoon. The latter is obviously the most prac- 
tical. You soon grow to hate your bath. The 
water is lukewarm and does not refresh. The 
lagoon is naturally tideless, and the shores are 
lined with decaying sea-vermin. Sharks simply 
swarm. The latter inconvenience is usually got 
over by taking a dog with you. Sharks have a 
peculiar liking for dog-flesh, and should there 
chance to be one around the probabilities are 
poor Fido will be immolated first. A simple 
remedy, though a trifle rough on Fido. 

Food in the Paumotus is uniformly abomin- 
able. People nervous on the score of ptomaine- 
poisoning would do well to give the archipelago 
a wide berth, as canned goods are the only kind 
of nourishment to be regularly depended on. A 
bunch of sickly bananas, a bag of oranges, a sack 
of potatoes are welcomed as a godsend. I re- 
member my first day in Anaa, meeting a settler 
in the glare of noon and being dragged off to his 
house to taste of a newly imported delicacy. 
After much impressive burrowing and unwrap- 
ping the miracle was revealed. It was a green 
water-melon. It had come all the way from 
Mehetia. I had strength of mind to refuse a 
second slice. To me it was a little thing to him 

a treasure passing the value of rubies. 

196 



Life on a Coral Atoll 

After your morning bath you can generally 
get some sort of a substitute for coffee. It is 
useless to try and cook it yourself. Better go 
to the store. Over the long deal counter, with 
its piles of tins and rows of pareos flapping on 
overhead strings, you can imbibe the mixture and 
give it any name you please. There will be a 
few honest fellows in corduroy breeches and top- 
boots, or stained ducks and Chinese pattens, to 
talk Paumotu politics and make it palatable. 

When you fall back on the pure native cooking, 
you stand a better chance. Raw fish (i.e. fish 
cut into strips and pickled in oil or vinegar) 
has nothing revolting about it except the name ; 
bread-fruit might pass for soapy potato with eyes 
shut, and pig done in true island fashion in 
the warm ashes of a wood fire is a thing to 
dream of. As for fish, green sea-crabs are none 
too bad, though a bit indigestible ; turtle, on 
most of the islands, can be had periodically ; 
young shark, to those who have not clomb to the 
fin-soup ideal, is a substitute for turbot, while the 
crowning native delicacy, sea-scorpion, is, though 
sometimes found in these waters, more properly 
a native of the Society and Cook groups. Lastly, 
I must not omit the dreaded scarlet sting-fish a 
broad, wide-mouthed monster, with nasty slimy- 
looking tentacles about his gills, and a row of 

197 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

venomous spikes fringing his back. He is gener- 
ally found basking in the sand, his poison ap- 
paratus conveniently protruding. Grilled over 
a slow fire he is excellent eating. Step on him, 
and three months in hospital will show you the 
uglier side of his qualities. 

No romantic incidents on these forgotten 
coral atolls are few and far between. The still- 
ness, dulness, and general inanition of life is 
beyond the imaginings. Had Alexander Selkirk 
been wrecked on one of the Paumotus instead of 
Juan Fernandez he would simply have gone 
mad and Robinson Crusoe would have been 
lost to the world. It would be difficult for any 
one to be thus wrecked nowadays. 

Really uninhabited islands are rare, though 
indeed the population of the Paumotus varies 
enormously from Anaa with its three hundred 
inhabitants to tiny museum-fragments like Taiaro 
orTikei, with barely a settler to tread their burn- 
ing sands. Romances connected with castaways 
are not unknown though. Some of them are, of 
course, lies pure and simple. Others, of a soberer 
tinge, have an ugly ring of truth in their compo- 
sition. The heroes of the last of these were two 
young New Zealanders whom the Union Com- 
pany contracted to set ashore at some dreadful 
and comparatively unknown island or other. 

198 



Life on a Coral Atoll 

They were to be landed and left for a fortnight, 
at the end of which time the steamer was to re- 
appear and relieve them from their exile. The 
company carried out the first part of the contract, 
but the steamer forgot to return to the island, 
and for one awful year the two pioneers were left 
to their own devices. Stripped of the romantic 
facilities with which a novelist loves to surround 
his shipwrecked hero, their existence must have 
been a terrible one. For food the refuse of the 
sea, for drink the lukewarm coco-water. Great 
was the row when they were finally rescued. 
They returned to the mother country and 
promptly sued the company for damages, which 
were granted. The detailed history of their 
sufferings would make an interesting volume 
but would it pay to write it ? The lamp of truth 
glows feebly beside the arc-light of fiction, and 
the goddess herself looks, as Paumotu women 
do, best in her veil. 

With all its monotony, a stay in Anaa leaves 
its own impression of poetry. The endless 
tramps through the sunny wood where the dried 
palm-branches crackle to the ripples on the blue 
tideless lagoon, the sleepy salutation of natives, 
the politics of panama-hatted long-shoremen, the 
moonlit rambles among the white stems, the 

night's rest on the pure hard sand when you 

199 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

wake with a start to see an army of crabs scurry- 
ing away from your supposed dead body these 
are things not to be forgotten, and leave a mark 
on the senses not to be accounted for by any 
process of reasoning. 

Anaa is not a good place to commit matri- 
mony respectable European matrimony in. It 
would be a rash thing to condemn a white woman 
to live the life of a Paumotuan. There was a 
man once. But the story is worthy of detailed 
narration, and as it is persistently dinned into the 
ears of every one who sets foot in Anaa, may be 
treated as history, and so consigned to a fresh 
chapter. 



CH APTE R XIX 

CHALLONER'S ANGEL 

THE ship must have been driven ashore during 
the night. Across the narrow band of coral the 
waves were pouring with a noise like thunder, 
and clearly visible in the white turmoil was a 
speck of black with the remnants of two masts 
sticking up like charred matches. Nearer by, 
something, the fragment of a torn sail, flapped on 
the water. The wreck was complete. On the 
sand lay two bodies, the wind playing idly with 
their dark clothes ; one was a Kanaka, the other 
a European of sorts, with a grizzled beard and a 
sallow southern complexion. They were both 
dead, but Challoner was not the man to waste 
time sentimentalising. He returned to the 
village, and, within the hour, the beach was lined 
with jabbering, gesticulating natives. 

It was early next morning before they suc- 
ceeded in putting out to the ship. As the canoe 
rounded her stern they read "The Aglaia, 
Valparaiso " in letters of white. An oily swell of 
water brought the canoe flush with the ship's 

2OI 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

gunwale and Challoner, Challoner poparua (long 
white man) as the people called him, sprang on 
board. Two bundles of rags were lashed to the 
mast. One stirred not, but the other, a small 
pale-faced creature, struggled and whimpered as 
the strange man bent over it. 

There were various reasons why Nina Val- 
verde's relations did not wish the child home 
again. Valverde had amassed a considerable 
fortune in the wool trade. He owned a house 
on the Monte Allegre, and drove a fine pair of 
horses. His subsequent marriage, at an advanced 
age, with a girl of lowly origin had been a thorn 
in their side. They were proud, as only Spaniards 
can be. Also they were poor and wanted money. 
Therefore they let the great deep swallow the 
child. 

And in the long island of Anaa the natives 
gave up wondering. The girl was pretty and 
harmless, and Challoner poparua not a man to 
try conclusions with. Challoner did not com- 
plain of the burden. He had married a native 
wife and was making a decent income at copra 
and pearl-shell. His San Francisco agent asked 
no questions, and the Tahiti traders were in- 
different. Nina was in her fifth year, growing 
up pretty and very wilful. She was rapidly be- 

202 



Challoner's Angel 

coming islandised, had adopted native dress, and 
spoke the vernacular with the greatest ease as 
only a child can whose tongue is hardly moulded 
to the jingle of an alien language. The night of 
agony on board the Aglaia had half-paralysed 
Nina's memory, and of her earlier life in Val- 
paraiso only shadowy recollections remained. 
The bamboo stockades of the neighbouring 
planters shaped themselves into bars of light 
streaming through window-tatties, a square patch 
of sun in the clearing brought suggestions of the 
flower-worked nursery carpet ; over Nina's bed, 
between the thin white curtains and the bands of 
moonlight there bent a tall pale woman not in the 
least like Vaerua much handsomer and more 
pleasant-looking. Nina did not know what it 
meant, and in her then entourage there was no 
one to enlighten her. 

Then came the day when Challoner's great 
idea struck him. On the back verandah Chal- 
loner's sickly wife was teaching Nina how to 
make miti (coco-nut sauce), and the sight of the 
girl's white fingers as they handled the weird 
shelly creatures of the sea made him think. 

Was the girl fit for this life ? She promised 
to be beautiful. Whither was her beauty likely 
to lead her in Anaa ? Challoner's conscience 
pricked him. Under the rough skin of the 

203 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

trader lay the pure idealism of a thoroughly 
unselfish man. Nina must be sent away, if not 
to Valparaiso at least to some place where she 
could receive a decent education. Challoner 
sat down and, pipe in mouth, indited a letter 
to a friend in San Francisco, explaining things 
and asking advice. 

The reply came in due course, and Nina who 
would much rather have stayed to play skittles 
on the beach with her Kanaka friends, was 
shipped off to the Frisco convent of San 
Geronimo to be educated into something vaguely 
resembling a European miss in distant Beretania. 
The novelty of her surroundings at first jarred 
on the child. She was seven years old and full 
of fun. She missed her juvenile companions and 
the tumbling waves of Anaa. The Sunday's 
dead-march in the Gardens was no substitute for 
the barefooted scampers over the white sands 
with the music of the combers in her ears, and 
the salt breath of the ocean in her nostrils. The 
Sisters were dull and constrained. Indeed Nina 
was a puzzle to them at first. The girl was 
evidently a savage yet underneath all were the 
instincts and manners of a lady. 

Time wore on, and Nina's two years in Anaa 
died a natural death. As they did so, her still 
earlier recollections came back. The effect of 

204 



Challoner's Angel 

light between green blinds and the tall motherly 
woman with the pale face and crucifix grew 
plainer each day. Echoing words caught her 
ear, and the sisters wonderingly interpreted their 
meaning. Nina began to look on this new life in 
the convent as a revival of the old dimly remem- 
bered period of childhood in Valparaiso, and as 
the two periods joined hands, the faint inter- 
mediate episode on the sands of Anaa got crushed 
out and destroyed. 

But on that low flat ring of coral, under the 
fire of that remorseless iron roof with the dry 
odour of copra and the clink of the sorted shell 
echoing in his ears, Challoner was waiting. 

He too saw possibilities in the dim-lit future. 
Once a month a letter used to come bearing the 
Frisco postmark and telling him of Nina's 
progress, of the exercises she was practising on 
the piano, of the sisters' difficulties in making 
her keep her hair combed, of her proficiency 
in Spanish and German. Then Challoner's big 
heart would swell to bursting and he would bless 
that awful day of the wreck with the fervour of a 
man who sees Paradise before him. The cheque 
came regularly as clockwork. Challoner's busi- 
ness was increasing. He had taken a contract 
for pearl-shell from a Tahitian firm and was 

205 



master of a thirty-ton schooner. He was the 
most popular man in the island. The plain four- 
roomed shanty had become a neat villa with 
hedges of well-groomed coffee bushes and a tall 
flagstaff topping the lawn between flower-beds. 
Challoner had a piano brought from Auckland. 
It arrived, at last, in a native schooner. The sea 
had done its work on the strings, and by the time 
it came to be housed in Challoner's parlour be- 
tween the gaudily framed prints and crossed 
paddles from Makatea, it was hopelessly out of 
tune. But Challoner's ear was not delicate, and 
he was delighted. Had he been able he would 
have gone to Frisco himself to visit Nina, but he 
was a busy man and he knew that in Anaa there 
were men only too ready to supplant him should 
he permit himself to play truant. 

Yaerua, ailing for some time past, suddenly 
sickened and died. Domestic interests removed, 
Challoner might have gone the way of nine out 
of ten of his associates and degenerated to the 
level of an ordinary drunken beach-comber but 
the thought of his angel waiting across four 
thousand miles of sea restrained him and he kept 
himself holy for her sake. 

Nina, indeed, was by this time a prize well 
worth the winning. The Sisters had by no means 
originally intended to launch the- girl in Frisco 

206 



Challoner's Angel 

society, but Nina had made friends among her 
classmates, and invitations came as a matter of 
course. Her piano-playing was the talk of the 
quarter, and in learning of all sorts she was the 
model held up to the admiration of the rest of the 
pupils. Already the Sisters were displeased at 
the prospect of losing her, and as the days wore 
on their displeasure quickened to a poignant 
anxiety. 

But Challoner was only going to wait a year 
longer. The period sped quickly, the fatal letter 
came. Nina, sobbing bitterly, was escorted 
down to the crowded wharf and ensconced in the 
stuffy cabin of a sailing-ship bound for Papeete. 
"Remember," said the eldest Sister, a tall 
matronly - looking woman, strikingly like the 
dream- woman of Nina's earliest infancy, " if your 
new home disappoints you, Nina mia, you always 
have a home with us." The words sank deeply 
into the girl's heart, and during that long awful 
journey she treasured them as one treasures gold. 

Challoner was counting the days with feverish 
interest. He had arranged everything. Nina 
was to be lodged at the house of a lady friend, 
a half-caste missionary's wife. They were to 
take the first ship to Papeete, get married, and 
spend their honeymoon in the Society Islands. 
Then they were to return to Anaa and reign like 

207 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

king and queen. He was in the shed among 
the pearl-shell when the schooner was sighted, 
and hurried off home to change his things, his 
heart going like a steam-hammer. 

The vessel swept round majestically, clearly vis- 
ible through the stems of the coco-trees. There 
was a flash of white in the gangway, and Nina, as 
the boat put her ashore, saw in the blinding light a 
cluster of dirty natives threading their way through 
the piles of packing-cases to receive her. Fore- 
most of all was a big man in corduroys who cried 
and crushed her fingers in his huge palm. The 
glare was terrific, and her delicate lace sunshade 
in no way protected her. She allowed herself to 
be escorted to Challoner's house, and there in 
that glowing atmosphere, under the fishing- 
trophies and cheap gaudy prints, her stoicism 
forsook her and she burst into shameful tears ! 

The skipper of the Aurora was on Challoner's 
verandah as Nina was ushered in. He knew 
what the trouble was and sized it up epigram- 
matically, with language that need not be pub- 
lished. " I'd make a blame good scoot for it if 
I were in her shoes, blame me if I wouldn't," was 
his reiterated conclusion, and the foc'sle hands 
grinned assent. 

The Aurora was to sail in three days' time. 
Challoner was glowing. His plans about his 

208 



wedding had changed. There was no need to 
go to Papeete. The fine church had just been 
completed at Anaa. They could be married 
there and spend their honeymoon in Challoner's 
own schooner. His life was tied up with the 
natives of the Paumotus and he dreamed no evil. 
But on the fateful evening before the sailing 
of the Aurora, as the skipper was drinking with 
the boys in the saloon, the Kanaka steward 
called him aside and conducted him to where, in 
a secluded corner of the deck, a tall pale girl fell 
on her knees and sobbed out a petition. 

Challoner found the note next day. It was 
half obliterated with tear-splotches and smudged 
in a weak, girlish hand ; but it made the strong 
man stagger as though he were shot. What was 
he to do? As the house reeled round him a 
strange murderous idea occurred to him. He 
thought of his schooner lying there in the lagoon. 
What if he were to chase after the Aurora, board 
her, and and bring Nina to reckoning? 

Something told him it would be vain mad- 
ness. He paced terribly up and down the beach 
till sunset. Once a native accosted him, but 
Challoner broke the man's jaw and he fled howl- 
ing. Then a new idea seemed to strike him. 
He returned to the village and knocked at the 

209 o 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

door of the solitary storekeeper. Failing an 
answer he kicked open the door with his foot. 
" Bring out the liquor and the glasses," he said 
to the terrified half-caste " I'm going to' raise 
Hell!" 
He did. 



But Challoner did not go to the bad. After a 
month's madness he settled down once more to 
the life of a planter, and once again became loved 
of the natives. Eventually he left Anaa and 
settled in Papeete, where he has an interest in 
several vanilla farms and is one of the most 
honoured members of parliament Tahiti boasts. 
But he doesn't believe in prohibition. " It don't 
seem to act in the United States," he says ; 
" why should you want it to fail in the islands ? " 



210 



CHAPTER XX 

MAKEMO SURF-RIDING SHARKS 

THE ubiquitous Croix du Sud arrived in due 
course. I was glad to see her. I said a pathetic 
farewell to my gendarme friend, went on board, 
and climbed into my bunk. I needed a rest, a 
genuine Christian one, after that week on mats 
and sand, and when the screw commenced to 
jog my pillow an hour later, I sternly refused 
to come on deck and bid Anaa a last farewell. 

Variety, says some barbarian wise man, is the 
spice of life and in the Paumotus there is no 
variety. It is life without spice, a glary routine 
of sand and coral, flat to the taste as a backwoods 
pancake. Thus topples to earth another romance 
of mine, the romance of a "coral island" exis- 
tence. What complex fits of thrill I have wasted 
over that heartless fraud! How imperfect is a 
school education and how truly awful the ideas 
it instils. The principal sinner in my case was 
Ballantyne. He taught me to look on coral 
islands as paradises. I shall never forgive him. 
To make matters still more offensive, we are urged 

to admire and applaud the silly polyp who erects 

211 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

these nightmares, and to emulate him if possible ! 
It is incredible how many tons of sentiment the 
civilised world has wasted over the coral polyp and 
his work. If human suffering, boredom, and mad- 
ness count for anything in the scale of crime, the 
coral polyp is the meanest, the most hypocritical, 
the most injudiciously lionised criminal extant. 

Next morning I got a practical illustration of the 
dangers of the archipelago. Captain Pond called 
me on the bridge, and, pointing ahead over the 
bows " Do you see anything there ? " he said. 

I strained my eyes in vain. Yet we were 
within four miles of land. Ten minutes later 
two tiny dots of palm dipped up from the blue. 
They were the forerunners of the island of 
Makemo one of the few islands hereabouts 
that possesses a passage deep enough to admit 
large steamers. The current in the pass was 
very violent, and it seemed to me that with all 
the efforts of the machinery we were making 
little or no progress. We got ashore towards 
eight, however, inside the lagoon, where a goodly 
flotilla of skiffs and outrigger canoes were drawn 
up to receive us. 

I had a letter to one of the residents, a man 
named Elson, whose house lay some two miles 
from the inlet, and as I walked I had time to 
take stock of things in superficial tourist fashion. 

Makemo as a centre of culture is a big step 
212 



Makemo 

behind Anaa. The population is very variable, 
and just then (February) the majority, I was 
told, were absent in Hikueru for the pearl- 
fisheries. There was the usual church with its 
home-made coloured windows and mildewed 
green bell, the level avenue flanked by lilies, the 
cemetery, and the scurrying army of hogs. A 
curious custom prevails here in connection with 
the dead. Among the white slabs marking the 
graves I repeatedly noticed stray piles of bedding, 
blankets, and rugs. They were the sleeping- 
places of natives, who by spending a night 
among the tombs hope to obtain the privilege 
of communing with the dear departed. A 
gruesome custom and one which the missionaries 
are labouring to discourage. 

There was goodly array of Makemo youth 
frolicking in the water, some surf-swimming on 
boards, others merely dabbling. By rights these 
ingenuous youngsters ought to have been at 
school, but I suppose it was a holiday, or perhaps 
school hours are arbitrary in the Paumotus. 
Surf-swimming is an exhilarating pastime and 
amusing to watch. The urchins swam out to 
where the combers were tossing their manes, 
bestrided their boards and got carried home 
shrieking at a speed which Perseus in the sandals 
of Hermes might have envied. I don't know 
whether the sport is accompanied by much 

213 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

danger. It looked horribly dangerous to me. 
On a flat beach cushioned with fine sand cela 
va bien. A tumble in the mud is the worst to 
be anticipated. But on the iron-bound coast 
of Makemo it is another affair altogether. Let 
one of those youngsters slip or miscalculate his 
distance by a few yards and his skull would be 
smashed like an egg. I suppose the dear things 
knew what they were at, however, for the sport 
went on hour after hour in a way that might 
have struck despair to the heart of a Makemo 
life-insurance company, if there was one. 

Just then, five minutes or so after I had 
finished admiring the picture of brown limbs 
flashing in creamy surf, came one of those little 
rencontres which illustrate the fatalistic island 
character so thoroughly. On a level stretch of 
sand and coral innocent of waves a party of men 
were busy with baskets and string. On my 
asking what they were doing, I was told "fish- 
ing for sharks ! " This turned out to be actually 
the case, for the sharks in Makemo are a great 
deal harder up for food than those in Tahiti and 
bite readily at anything. 

" Even at schoolboys," I suggested. 

" Sometimes," was the tranquil reply. 

I crossed the belt of palms to the lagoon. 
Here more fishing was going on, though of a 
more inoffensive description. Two men came 

214 



Makemo 

staggering in under the weight of a load of some- 
thing resembling salmon, though of course it 
wasn't salmon and more resembled the ulua of 
the Sandwich Islanders. 

In the wood alongside were more curiosities. 
Truants picking coco-nuts stealing them I pre- 
sume for one could hardly admit to oneself that 
these brown monkeys with straw satchels on their 
backs were the owners of plantations. Shades 
of Surrey orchards ! I wonder whether these 
mother's joys will get as soundly birched as we 
did when 

But never mind. I am glad I met those boys. 
It is these little touches of home-made poetry 
that move one's heart in a foreign land. 

Elson's house was a remarkably handsome type 
of villa for Makemo. It was built of coral, with 
inside partitions of varnished wood, walls oblite- 
rated under a load of pictures and bric-a-brac, and 
real muslin mosquito-curtains protecting the bed. 
He entertained me royally turtle's fins and 
baked beans and spun yarn after yarn. The 
plates were removed and coffee and cigars took 
their place. The conversation here turned on 
navigation, and I called Elson's attention to the 
difficulty the Croix du Sud had experienced 
getting into the pass. He expressed no surprise. 

" It's a devil of a place," he said simply ; 

" runs like a mill-race at the ebb, and whirls like 

215 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

ten thousand devils at the flood. There's not 
another like it in the group." 

I said I should hope not, or words to that 
effect. My companion puffed solemnly. " How 
would you like to try and swim it ? " he said lazily. 

I stared. The bare idea seemed preposterous. 
Elson rose and took off a bracket the photo of a 
girl, still young, framed in a curious kind of rough 
leather frame studded with copper nails. In the 
Paumotus as elsewhere, most Jacks have their Jill. 

"Your wife?" I said. 

He nodded. " Help yourself to the rum. 
I'll tell you a yarn of a rather awful kind if you'll 
promise not to laugh. It concerns the girl too. 
Ariitea her name is. Do you know what that 
frame's made of?" 

"It looks like shark-skin," I said tentatively. 

" It is shark-skin," was the reply. " Do you 
know what a patui is ? " 

I nodded. The rambling chatter of Papeete 
fishermen had made me acquainted, fortunately 
only theoretically, with those terrible fish. 

"We have 'em here at times. Great brutes 
that'd swallow you or me as easily as a bear 
swallows a penny bun. You're smoking nothing." 

" I don't care about smoking it distracts me," 
I said eagerly ; "tell us the yarn." 

Elson filled his pipe, lit it, arranged himself in 

his chair and spoke as follows. 

216 



2W8 




A Makemo Schoolboys Holiday. 



[p. 216. 



CHAPTER XXI 

THE WHITE DEVIL OF MAKEMO 

IT was about a month after my landing here that 
I met Ariitea. She was the daughter of one of 
the chiefs in Tetuaranga (that's the village yonder) 
a sort of quarter-white blackguard, Portugee 
on his father's side and African Portugee at that. 
He's dead now, and a good job too. A fearful 
old drunkard he was, and very nasty to cross in 
liquor. 

I don't quite know myself how it happened. I 
didn't give a snap for these coloured women. as a 
general thing, but Ariitea was by long odds the 
best-looking one I had come across till then, and 
I fell in love then and there. 

It was my first and only love affair, and it clean 
bowled me over. I met her old skinflint of a 
father in the matter of price, but before I could 
scrape the money together there landed at Te- 
tuaranga (that's the village yonder) one of the 
d dest, lankiest, blackest-eyed half-castes you 
ever saw. Lakin his name was. He had been 
purser to some big trading vessel, but had got 

217 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

himself cashiered for dishonesty, and had hit on 
the idea of settling in the Paumotus and playing 
at trader. 

I'd never known what jealousy was before, but 
I got to know it then. Lakin had the advantage 
of me, for he knew the lingo, and these girls won't 
look at a white man when there's a chance of a 
fellow who's got a dash of the tar-brush. The 
first time he saw Ariitea he ogled her in a way 
that made me want to kick him but it was 
best to stand well with the natives, and I had 
to restrain myself. I met the fellow next day 
though, and gave him a piece of my mind. 

"It's me you have to reckon with, my boy," I 
said, "not with that old blackguard yonder. The 
girl's mine, and, by G , if I find you or any 
other son of a gun monkeying round I'll wring 
your neck ! " 

He took it gamely. Grinned and showed his 
teeth fine teeth they were and apologised. 
But my blood was up, and I saw he'd twigged 
all right. 

Next day as I was bossing some chaps cleaning 

shell a messenger came from the old man Mahinui. 

A patui had carried off one of his men in the pass 

carried him clean off while he was stringing his 

nets and he wanted my help in killing the brute. 

Perhaps you know the nature of these devils. 

218 



The White Devil of Makemo 

They're the man-eating tigers of the ocean. 
When a patui kills a man he'll hang around the 
spot and carry off another and another, regular as 
clockwork, till he gets killed himself. 

I wasn't best pleased at the job, for I'd other 
things on hand just then, but Ariitea's dad had to 
be humoured, and I went. The natives had been 
baiting their silly hooks, and towing dead pigs 
about all the afternoon. I didn't care about net- 
stringing, so by way of making a show I got a 
Sharp's rifle (I believe it was the only one in the 
island), and set off with a boy in the biggest and 
solidest canoe I could find. It was just possible 
the brute might come to the surface, and I might 
get a shot at him. It wasn't scientific fishing, but 
it was white-man cleverness, and enough to amuse 
Mahinui. 

I didn't expect the shark would turn up, but 
things panned out differently. The sun was 
terrific, and I was dozing contentedly in the stern 
of the canoe. The boy was on the look-out. It 
must have been about half-past four in the after- 
noon. Presently the youngster grabbed his paddle 
and gave a gasp I saw about a yard under the 
surface the biggest monster I've ever seen in my 
life. He must have measured full twenty feet 
from nose to tail, and as he cut through the water 

to seize the bait he threw out a phosphorescent 

219 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

light like a ghost. I cocked my rifle and fired. 
I don't think I hit him, though I saw the flaps of 
his great tail, and felt the effect by the rocks of 
the canoe. Anyway I couldn't be sure. He 
vanished like a streak of lightning. " Row out 
into the middle," says I to the boy; "maybe 
we'll get another shot." 

The youngster was in the bluest of funks, and 
I don't blame him much either, for that fish could 
have taken boat and all like a pill. Presently, as 
we were settling down to a new spell of waiting, 
comes a yelling from the village opposite. 

" White devil ? " said I lazily. 

<: Canoes," said the youngster "canoes from 
Tetuaranga." 

"Has the whole beach gone off its onion ? " 
said I, for the natives on shore were yelling 
like demons; "row in, sonny, and see what's 
the matter." 

It was time to think of getting ashore anyhow. 
The wind was getting up, and the sea was coming 
in in neat little lines of white, as the sea always 
does when she means business. Some one was 
waiting on the beach. It was the half-caste, and 
I could see by his eyes that he was in a great 
state of excitement. 

"Is that you, Elson?" he says, with the 
natural imbecility of the Kanaka, "for God's 

220 



The White Devil of Makemo 

sake listen, man ! There's trouble over yonder.' 
Old Mahinui, your girl's father, has knifed a man 
knifed him dead ! " 

" Well, what's that to you ? " said I airily, for 
I was still smarting over the cool way he'd taken 
my challenge of the day before. 

"Not much, but a good deal to you," he says 
quietly ; "the dead man's a chiefs son and why, 
man, she II be murdered this very night ! " 

He might have said less. I understood in a 
flash. " She'll have to be got out of this," said 
I, speaking half to myself; "and there isn't a 
ship nearer than Fakarava." 

"There's my schooner," says he quickly; 
" you can have that, if she's any use to you." 

" Bless you," said I, wringing his hand, "you're 
white all over." 

Just then a gust of wind carried his hat away. 
I saw the palms of the spit bend double, and 
there was an angry roar from the sea as the 
squall struck. It was a nasty blow, and I knew 
we should have it dark as pitch in a few moments. 

We got in the canoe and tried to pole her off. 
Just as we thought her fairly started a comber 
struck us broadside on ; she heeled, and her out- 
rigger snapped like a match. We stood up to 
our waist in hissing water, looking at each other 

like a pair of fools. 

221 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

" The boat's broke," said Lakin stupidly, " what 
in hell are we going to do now ? " 

" Swim for it," said I savagely, kicking my 
boots on the sand. Lakin gave one look, to see 
if I was in earnest, then ran one hand up to the 
top button of his coat. "I'll go with you," said 
he defiantly. 

The madness of jealousy was between us. I 
looked at the pass, where the combers were 
running like fury, and an idea struck me that 
made me go cold all over. But I gave it no 
time. 

"Come on!" I shouted, gripping his shoulder 
and wringing it ; " it's between you and me, my 
lad. The man who reaches her first takes her 
and keeps her. One of us'll be bound to get 
across unless the patui gets us both ! " 

I don't think till that moment he had realised 
what was before him ; anyway, in the murky 
light, I saw his face turn ashy. In a second we 
were both in the water swimming like madmen 
to where the lights of the village showed above 
the line of foam. 

The sea buffeted us like an army of demons. 
I lost sight of Lakin after the first fifty yards or 
so, and as I turned to look back a wave hit me 
in the face and blinded me. Then there came 
the idea of the other danger, and the horror of 

222 



The White Devil of Makemo 

it gave me desperate courage. I threw myself 
forward, and swam blindly for the landing. 

I might have been about half-way across 
when, as I topped one of the combers, right in 
front of me, through the slant of a wave, I saw 
a phosphorescent streak of green it was the 
patui ! 

I think for one moment breath left my lungs. 
Then common sense came back, and I did the 
only thing possible at such a crisis. I drew in a 
big supply of air, opened my eyes, and dived 
head foremost under the surface. The place was 
full of lights crabs crouching in their holes and 
sparkles of fire from passing fish. But the streak 
of green had vanished, and presently I rose to 
the surface again. The wind seemed more violent 
than before, and there was a shrieking of gulls in 
the blackness overhead. It struck me they were 
screaming our requiem. 

Then an awful thing happened. From the 
dark rim of the palms, between two flying clouds, 
stabbed a blood-red spear of sunlight, and right in 
the heart of the glare, in a whirl of angry water, 
a pair of white arms rose to the light. It was the 
half-caste, and on his face was written terror 
beyond the power of imagining. One second he 
hung there between the trough of the wave and 

the flying scuds, then a yell came from his lips 

223 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

a yell that froze the blood in my veins and he 
sank gurgling in a circle of foam. 

I don't remember what happened next quite. 
The lights ahead of me were dancing a drunken 
reel. I might have been swimming back to 
the point I started from for all I knew. Then, 
as I gave myself up for lost, my knee struck 
something hard I was on the rocks, and safe. 

He paused, filled himself out a stiff nobbier of 
rum and drank it at a gulp. 

" And Ariitea?" I suggested. 

" Well I guess that's about the whole of the 
yarn," he replied, with affected indifference. "No, 
it isn't though, quite. I got her away in the 
boat his boat and steered for Fakarava. The 
blackguards had rifled the house and tried to fire 
it, but the rain came down and it wouldn't burn. 
We had a job getting her off. The wind was 
blowing right square into the lagoon, and as we 
yawed in the pass something came floating by on 
the water something that made me turn sick. 
Ariitea had her elbows on the gun'le and was 
looking at the sea. I took her in my arms, just 
in time, and lifted her down into the cabin. 
There wasn't much to be got by shocking the 
girl, and there wasn't enough of the thing to 
require burial. That's the whole story. Now you 

224 



The White Devil of Makemo 

know why that picture there's framed in shark- 
skin." 

There was a step outside. The door opened 
and a girl with a heavy basket of pine-apples on 
her arm staggered into the room. It was Ariitea. 
With the raindrops coursing down her cheeks 
and the wet strands of hair clinging to her fore- 
head, she hardly looked a being for whose sake 
a man would risk his life. When she saw me 
fingering her portrait she smiled. Then, over- 
come with bashfulness, she retired to an inner 
room and closed the door. 

" That's the way with 'em," said Elson philo- 
sophically ; " she saw you fingering the frame 
and twigged what we had been talking about. 
I believe she really was a bit sweet on the chap. 
If you're game now we might go down to the 
ship and polish off those bags of shell. It's my 
only chance for a month of real Christian work, 
and I wouldn't miss it for worlds." 



225 



CHAPTER XXII 

HIKUERU AND THE PEARL-FISHERY 

" Haere rii au i Hikueru 6 
E foito rii au i te reni e." 

Kanaka Love-song. 

ON reaching the Croix du Sud we found a brand- 
new and interesting collection of natives in pos- 
session of the decks. A band of straw-hatted, 
flower-girdled wisdom was going to Hikueru 
to speculate. About two-thirds of the number 
belonged to the softer sex, and among the latter 
were several whom I wickedly suspected of having 
figured in some Papeete hoola a month back. 

The way in which one recognises the same 
faces over and over again in the Pacific is mar- 
vellous. How do the darlings get about ? It is 
surely only in Tahiti that you find a young miss 
of fifteen who ought to be at school doing sums, 
galivanting about on the briny a few thousand 
miles from her home, with a plank between her 
preciousness and eternity, and the tender mercies 
of a Union Company bo'sn for emotional main- 
stay. Morality, your name is latitude. 

Elson said pathetic farewell to me in the gray 
226 



Hikueru and the Pearl-Fishery 

dawn, and the Croix du Sud steamed meekly out 
through that terrible pass fifteen minutes later. 
My dreams that night were a medley of clashing 
shark-jaws, hissing acres of foam, spectral fringes 
of palm, and brown limbs frothing in voluptuous 
dance the latter image being probably conjured 
from the Silent by the vocal efforts of the stranger 
vahines in the foc'sle. Then sudden as the 
splash of a whale's flukes some one shouted my 
name, and I awoke to learn that Hikueru was 
in sight. Like the rest of the Paumotus, the 
approach offers nothing striking a long hot line 
of palms and pandanus against which the white 
shanties of the settlers loom up like pearls in a 
necklace of emerald. This is poetry but the 
dusty reality obliterates it from the first second 
of your landing. Hikueru, as we have already 
hinted, plays a role of considerable importance 
among the islands of the Eastern Pacific, its 
dusty, shadeless acres being the assembling- 
ground and nucleus of no inconsiderable fraction 
of South Sea wealth. The actual output of the 
island in shell for this last season is stated at 
some $200,000 American money ; and should the 
more modern mechanical improvements (foolishly 
abandoned some time ago) be re-introduced into 
the diving operations, it is probable that even a 
larger figure may be reached. 

227 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Landing on the island is a nasty ordeal in 
all weathers. As usual, there is no species of 
anchorage. Even boats of light draught generally 
find it impossible to approach within fifty yards 
of dry land. Of late years efforts have been 
made to blast a passage up the reef to enable 
burdens to be deposited ashore without further 
parley, but the scheme is still in abeyance, and 
something more than the staggering efforts of 
the French Government will be needed to push it 
to a successful issue. As it is, the boat comes 
to a standstill in some two feet of water, and if 
you object to wading across the intervening 
knife-edges of coral quite a reasonable objection 
by the way you can ride ashore pickaback on 
the shoulders of a Kanaka. Here, if you are 
still suffering from the more picturesque variety 
of island- fever, you will get a bit of a shock. 
Hikueru presents an astonishingly, almost dis- 
agreeably "new" appearance. The place is 
choked with corrugated iron sheds, packing-cases, 
advertisements all the signs of a busy, romance- 
murdering civilisation. The whole landscape 
looks impertinently young. The very coco-trees 
are young, and offer no sort of shelter from the 
sun. The population too is a wonderful jumble. 
Here a brawny half-caste looks out pipe in mouth 
from among the piled-up soap bars of his store. 

228 



Hikueru and the Pearl-Fishery 

A Tahitian vahine pale mauve empire gown 
and perfume of tuberose all complete passes 
you smiling. A couple of coal-black Fijians 
are arguing under the waving paper scrolls of a 
Chinaman's. A group of tattooed Marquesans 
are squatting in the sun playing dice with the 
proceeds of yesterday's diving. Farther on a 
tall Easter-islander, with eyes of sloe and pale- 
coppery complexion, leans pensively against a 
palm bole. All the racial panorama of the 
Pacific, from Rarotonga to Rapa-nui, is being 
trotted out for your inspection. 

A walk of ten minutes or so brings us to the 
lagoon. It is a vast sheet of emerald water 
deluged in a glare which the fleet of white- 
painted yachts and fishing smacks don't help to 
mitigate by any means. Woe to the man who is 
unprovided with smoked glasses ! The living 
fire will eat into his brain and drive him dis- 
tracted. To gaze on Hikueru lagoon with the 
naked eye is the most real, the most horrible of 
tortures. 

And now we are in the very centre of opera- 
tions, and the one absorbing topic is beginning 
to din itself into our ears. Shell shell shell. 
Through the warm shallows men are wading 
ashore with bags and baskets of the precious 
merchandise. From under the glowing roof of 

229 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

a warehouse behind comes the chink of hammers. 
A party of Kanakas are cleaning shell, and 
packing it in cases for export. Incidentally you 
learn that the price of shell is ^50 a ton. 

When you are tired of the never-ending music 
of long-shore gossip you can go and watch the 
diving operations for yourself. Out on the smooth 
expanse a score of tiny dots are languidly cruising. 
We will board the cutter Turia and follow one of 
them up. Hikueru diving is performed without 
the very faintest excuse in the shape of dress or 
helmet. Naked as a marble Faun the Hikueran 
descends to rob the lagoon of its treasures and 
a mere professional detail brave the sharks. 

At a mile or so from land a tiny pink dot, a 
half-submerged island of coral, appears in the 
green like an oasis. The sides and crevices of 
this singular excrescence are choked with pearl- 
shell. There are several canoes bobbing about. 
In the nearest one two men are sitting stark 
naked. The sun is nearly vertical, and to a 
European understanding it seems a miracle how 
they avoid shrivelling up like spiders on a hot 
shovel. Our mentor, the skipper of the Turia, 
pours forth a volley of fluent Polynesian. Will 
they dive for the gentleman with the camera ? 
They will. Had we been among the Maoris of 
New Zealand or the culture-mildewed Sandwich 

230 



Hikueru and the Pearl-Fishery 

islanders they might have suggested being paid 
first, but here all is lovely. The elder of the two 
men sits for a few seconds gasping in the bows 
while he takes breath. Then he rises to his feet 
and plump ! over he goes in a graceful curve. 
The lagoon at this point is about sixty feet deep. 
" Count," says our mentor, and we pull out our 
stop-watches. Sixty seconds (a good dive that), 
seventy, eighty the man must have the wind of 
a grampus ninety, a hundred, a hundred and ten. 
He's drowned. No he isn't either, for here he 
comes puffing and sneezing, andin his hand is some- 
thing black with a trailing fringe of seaweed. He 
throws it in the boat and the game continues. 

A hundred and ten seconds. A very fair dive, 
but not the record by any means. Men have 
been known in Hikueru to remain under water 
for three minutes and a half I A painful profes- 
sion ? Well, it is a well-paid one too. Shell of 
the best quality and size is worth, in Hikueru, 
some two and a half Chile dollars (about five 
shillings) per kilo. An enterprising diver can 
make his three to four pounds a day while the 
season lasts. Luck has, of course, a certain 
amount to do with it, for if he should happen 
to strike a barren region the shell-diver may have 
his long spell of suffocation for nothing. For this 

reason no pains are spared to ascertain the nature 

231 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

of the bottom of the lagoon before diving is re- 
sorted to. Various means have been tried, but 
the simplest and most interesting of all is the 
water-glass. In form it is merely an elongated 
tube of wood with a pane of glass let into one 
end. The protecting walls check the ripples, and 
you look down on the sea-bottom as though you 
were gazing vertically into an immense aquarium. 
The first sight of a coral grove with alternating 
layers of sand and pearl-shell is an event not to 
be forgotten. In these latitudes the waters are 
so clear that a bed of sand can be distinguished 
without difficulty at twenty fathoms. The coral 
bottom affects all manner of strange forms. In 
some places the rocks are gnarled like the buried 
stumps of venerable trees, in others the white 
structure imitates the marble lace work of a cathe- 
dral the whole set off by swarms of tiny blue fish 
and the rosy hanging drapery of sea-weed. The 
waters of the lagoon are warm all over, and in 
places actually hot so if you dream of a refresh- 
ing bath you are apt to be disappointed. In the 
interim you can get back on shore, and while a 
trader entertains you with rum and tobacco on his 
verandah you can consign to your notebook some 
of the more sober facts connected with this won- 
derful shell industry. 

Hikueru produces the finest quality of black - 
232 




b 1 <'?/ 

\ 



'- 



Hikueru and the Pearl-Fishery 

edged shells known to the Pacific. The pro- 
ductive powers of its lagoon have been more than 
doubled within the last fifteen years, thanks to the 
use of diving-dresses and improved machinery 
from 1885-92. This method of obtaining shell 
(which has since been unwisely checked by the 
Government) was in reality a great boon to the 
oyster-beds. The fully dressed diver brought up 
shells from depths which the naked diver never 
could hope to reach, with the result that the ova 
of those shells on being scooped out in the boat and 
thrown back into the water was carried by the 
action of the wind and waves all over the lagoon, 
thus forming new beds of shell in the shallower 
parts instead of remaining inert in the deeper 
portions and forming unhealthy conglomerates of 
shell which harboured the borer. 

Inasmuch as the ova of shells, on being emitted 
from the parent oyster, never rises but always 
sinks, it is clear that no bed of shell in deep water 
can possibly hope to fructify shallower portions of 
the lagoon hence the benefits accruing from the 
use of the diving-dress. 

The superior productive power of Hikueru, as 
compared with the rest of the islands concerned 
in the industry, probably also lies in the fact that 
there being absolutely no passage through the 
reef to the outer ocean there is a total absence of 

233 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

the different species of fish which prey on the 
ova of the young oyster. Also it seems probable 
that there is something in the character of the 
Hikueru lagoon bottom which renders it especially 
suited to the growth of the pearl-oyster, for no- 
where in the world does such a small area of sea 
produce such a weight of shell. 

It must not be forgotten that a good deal of 
credit is due to the French Government for the 
efforts they have made to increase and conserve 
shell production by "closing" each island in 
rotation, thus allowing the diving grounds a rest 
of from two to three years between operations ; 
though they have undoubtedly been ill advised in 
stopping the use of diving-dresses, and will cer- 
tainly have to allow them again or see the shell 
grounds depleted for want of seed, so to speak. 

The other islands of the Tuamotu group pro- 
ducing in less quantity shells as good as Hikueru 
are Raroia, Marokau, Takume, Takapoto, Marutea. 
The Gambier Islands also produce an inferior 
quality of shell, less bright in colour, more or less 
covered with lime on the back, thicker and often 
misshapen. 

With these parting pagesof information, for which 
I duly apologise to the reader, we take leave of 
Hikueru the only really working island of the 
Pacific and hie us to the idle but lovely Marquesas. 

234 



CHAPTER XXIII 

HIVAOA MISSIONARIES THE CRUCIFIXION 
OF CRADOCK 

" Girdled and sandalled and plumed with flowers 
At sunset over the love-lit lands." 

THE Marquesas are not coral islands, thank 
Heaven. They are a big collection of volcanic 
peaks that fall into the ocean some twelve degrees 
from the equator, groaning under an Atlas-burden 
of tropical verdure lofty enough and arrogant 
enough to check even the rush of those terrible 
Pacific combers and fling them back with shame 
and triumphant mockery. 

But the sea doesn't suffer in silence by any 
means. Across four thousand miles of sea those 
combers have been rolling in steady procession, 
and now the rocks bid them halt. What happens ? 
Simply a display of watery fireworks that defies 
description. The whole easterly coast of the 
islands may be said to be walled in by an army 
of spray fountains. Every variety of explosion 
is represented from the thundering globe of 
smoke to the shrieking spurt that looks as though 
it came from the nozzle of a high-pressure fire- 

235 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

engine. Even from the sedate deck of the Croix 
the spectacle is impressive. View it from the 
shore craning yourself perilously among the 
clinging lantana right over that howling wilder- 
ness of mist crossed by flying rainbows well, 
ask some one else to describe it. I am unequal 
to the task. 

Then, even while one shivers in awe the roar 
diminishes the tall capes slide away like views 
in a diorama and Hivaoa, frowning and tremen- 
dous, appears behind the cliffs of outlying islands, 
dwarfing them as Ossa might Pelion. One soli- 
tary mountain (Mount Temeti, 4000 feet) juts 
forward into the sea. Beyond come range after 
range of battlemented ar$tes, the low morning sun 
pricking out their serried ribs like the spears of 
an advancing army. We are in Atuana Bay. 
So deep is the flood of verdure that although a 
populous village lies hidden in the shadow of the 
mountains, no sign of human habitation is visible. 
A few isolated landmarks are pointed out. A 
tiny villa crowning a slope of pandanus is, or 
rather was, the dwelling-place of Captain Hart, 
whose solitary exploit (that of shooting a native) 
becomes almost terrible by repetition. On a low 
promontory looms a diminutive crucifix where 
some absent-minded sailor fell and broke his neck 
on the cliff below. There is a solitary wooden 

236 



Hivaoa 

shed chartered by the ever-present " D & E," 
and a suggestion of cantering horsemen on the 
winding red road beyond. These are really the 
Marquesas. 

A funny history, too, these islands have had a 
history punctuated with the morbid dilettantics of 
Spanish officialdom and wreathed with haloes of 
savage mystery deeds of barbarism that have 
shuddered their way to the hearts of Europe in 
chapters of delirious sailor-jargon. 

But the missionaries have changed all that. 
Between the quondam cannibal with his poisoned 
arrows and the amiable, mild, modern version 
with his bowl of miti and his steel-tipped fish- 
spear lies a wide gulf, and to the missionaries 
belongs the credit of having bridged it. You 
will have ample opportunity to philosophise over 
the advantages the new regime has to offer. It 
is passing pleasant to meet in the gloom of those 
fragrant woods a native armed to the teeth and 
tattooed from head to heel with cabalistic scroll- 
work it is pleasant to note that instead of 
getting ready to scalp you, you see his honest 
face broaden in a grin as he blurts out " Ka-oha" 
(the substitute for iorana] with a geniality testi- 
fying to his regard and pacific intentions alike. 
It is nice to loll at your ease on the bank of some 
sunny river and know that the almond-coloured 

237 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

ladies who come paddling up through the clumps 
of tiare are looking on your person well, not as 
an intended bon-bduche but in gentler, if less 
platonic fashion. Yes, indeed ; once you have 
ozonised in graceful Hivaoa you will be obliged 
to confess to many good points about the work- 
ings of missionarydom. 

The Marquesans, crossed as they are with the 
blood of early Spanish buccaneers, are a goodly 
step handsomer than the Tahitians. The cos- 
tumes worn are the same as all over the East 
Pacific, the variations in head-dress and occa- 
sional amulets of beads or pearl-shell being the 
only noticeable additions. The missionaries, of 
course, have laboured long and earnestly to dis- 
courage coquetry in open daylight, and like her 
Tahitian counterpart, the Marquesan pa/we (girl) 
is a night-blooming cereus that is, she blooms 
at night even if she's not serious. I suppose they 
are civilised. To all intents and purposes they 
conduct themselves like perfect ladies. But 
situations will arise at times, and not all the 
fortitude in creation can save a bashful man from 
accidents of an embarrassing order. 

The rivers of Hivaoa, be it said in paren- 
thesis, are, unlike those of the Society group, 
shallow and sandy, and save in one or two 

favoured localities, it is impossible to get any- 

238 



Missionaries 

thing resembling a decent swim in any of 
them. 

Among the passengers of the Croix was a neat, 
pink, dapper little man named Cradock, whose 
business lay in representing some part of the Union 
people's interests in Atuana. He had been born 
innocent, as many of us are and had managed by 
some weird mischance to retain the morals of his 
early school days clear away into middle life. A 
bad state of things, especially in the islands. 

Cradock and I had been skirmishing around 
in the sun for some hours in quest of photo- 
graphs, and both of us were longing for a bath. 
We knew little of the island's geography for 
Cradock spent most of his time in Papeete 
and still less of the language. We pestered 
every native we came across, Cradock per- 
sistently talking Tahitian as though conversing 
over the fence of his own flower-garden at home, 
for "a river a river -pape (water), you block- 
head pape. Try your luck with him, old man. 
I can't make the fellow understand." 

I puffed out my cheeks, spat out an imaginary 
mouthful of water, and worked my arms in 
imitation of Lucy Beckwith doing the mile for 
the championship. The native stared, and be- 
lieving me a case for the asylum, backed away. 
We were desperate. 

239 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

In the cool shade of a banana-patch one of 
the Atuana trader-boys was enjoying a noonday 
siesta, his coffee-coloured native wife bending 
over him with a palm-leaf fan. Cradock re- 
newed his entreaties, and this time he was 
understood. Putting aside her fan, the young 
lady stepped neatly out and offered to show us 
the way. 

This nearly knocked Cradock senseless. To 
be shown the way to his bath by a young lady ! 
What would his wife say ? Besides, the sun 
was hot and politeness forbade. The charmer's 
offer was declined with thanks. We left her 
hubby snoring in the hammock and hurried on, 
Cradock glancing furtively behind him every 
now and then to see if the fair one was 
following. 

We found the river sure enough. The water 
certainly looked shallow, but appearances are 
often deceptive, and we devoutly prayed it 
might prove deep enough to get a square wash. 
We undressed. Tourists in out - of - the - way 
corners of the globe cannot be expected to 
carry bathing suits. Cradock piled his linen 
reverently on the bank and advanced treading 
delicately like a cat on hot coals for he was a 
nice man and his feet were tender. Alas for 
our hopes! The puddle was a miserable fraud. 

240 




Girls in Canoe. 



[p. 240. 



The Crucifixion of Cradock 

There was not enough water in it to rise above 
one's knees. There were swarms of darting fish 
and pretty dainty islands of lotus-bloom but we 
had come for a swim, not for water-colour sketch- 
ing, and we found nothing to admire. The sun 
was grillingly hot, too, and even sitting down, 
there was hardly water enough to prevent one's 
back from being skinned. 

Then shades of Ilyssus ! we heard a silvery 
laugh behind us, and three young ladies in pale 
mauve frocks and pendant necklaces of pine- 
apple beads, thoughtful and unabashed as the 
handmaidens of Nausicaa, stood chuckling on 
the bank. 

I edged discreetly behind a bush. The 
youngest of the girls, picking up her skirt in 
her right hand the way a London belle does 
when she wants to cross a muddy pavement, 
advanced smiling into the stream to where 
Cradock sat paralysed with terror, the sunlight 
gleaming prettily over his white limbs and 
delicate ivory forehead. The unprotected beauty 
of the blushing Beretane doubtless struck a sym- 
pathetic chord in her artistic sense. She stooped 
and patted Cradock on the back. 

The man's position was awful ! He dared not 
rise and run for the shore, and those paltry ten 
inches of water were no protection. It was a 

241 Q 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

pity he didn't at least think of stirring up the 
mud. As it was he simply hugged his knees 
and, pink as a strawberry ice, glowered at the 
fair one in an agony of shame and rage. 

O Cradock ! Had that scene only been 
"snapped" by my photographic camera, what a 
hell of picturesque terrors could I have raised at 
your virtuous fireside a hell that not all the 
picked, saintly eloquence of your oily rhetoric 
could hope to quell or crush. 

" Menehenhe roa ta oe ruru " (beautiful hair 
you have) said Nausicaa, running her lithe 
fingers contemplatively through Cradock's curls. 
The latter was nearly weeping. 

"Hart!" (go) he blurted, giving the young 
lady a dig with his fist that spoke volumes in 
favour of modesty and outraged principles. The 
nymph understood. Maybe she felt snubbed. 
Anyway she giggled spasmodically and consented 
to rejoin her companions under the bushes, where 
the lot of them studied us in silence for some 
minutes before withdrawing. 

Cradock's nerves have been recovering ever 
since. 



242 



CHAPTER XXIV 

MISSIONARIES VISIT TO A LEPER VILLAGE 

" God that makes time and ruins it 
And alters not abiding God 
Changed with disease her body sweet, 
The body of love wherein she abode." 

The Leper. 

THERE was a fine classic gathering of natives in 
the alleyways leading seawards from the main 
lane of Atuana. M. Vernier, the most popular 
missionary of the group, had just returned from 
a prolonged visit to his father in Papeete, and 
his parish were assembled in full force to do him 
honour. 

An interesting collection seeing that only a 
few years ago the Hivaoans were rank cannibals. 
Few men. In Atuana as in Ilfracombe woman 
knits for the laity. Girls of all ages, many of 
whom could say with Amestris 

" Strange flesh was given my lips for bread 
With poisonous hours my days were fed ; " 

likewise a sprinkling of children, some of them 
chewing gingerbread, a most undisciplined pro- 
ceeding ; Madame Vernier, rather shaken from 

243 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

the prolonged sea-journey, presiding over the 
whole like a goddess who recognised her work 
and found it good. 

Hivaoa like most antipodean localities has 
its full compendium of divines. The natives 
are, as elsewhere in the Pacific, an open-minded 
collection of cynics whose religious beliefs go 
hand in hand with their interests, or their sense 
of risibility, or both. Protestant and Catholic 
ministers have alike established themselves, and 
a sort of guerilla warfare, with Bible for round 
shot and holy water for grape, is carried on 
unintermittingly between the two sects. Each 
advocator of salvation mistrusts the next man, 
and the list of conversions is watched over as 
jealously as the invitation schedules of the Cowes 
Squadron Club. It is a ridiculous rivalry busi- 
ness at best, and gives rise to a variety of funny 
complications. 

Here is a specimen : 

An unsophisticated Marquesan a child of the 
wilderness glorious in picturesque nudity, fres- 
coed with tattooing like an Italian mosaic, steps 
to his door to welcome a happy, well-fed priest, 
a zealot in the cause and a venerated emissary of 
the Church of Rome. The Christian faith is 
discussed at length and conversion proposed. 
The Marquesan hesitates. To chime in with 
the dictates of the new faith he must forswear 

244 



Missionaries 

long pig, wear trousers, and go back on the tradi- 
tions of his family. 

Will the priest make it worth his while ? The 
priest hems and haws. His superiors have urged 
him to spare no expense for the heathen's ultimate 
salvation. He throws open a neat brass-bound 
chest and displays a collection of shawls, knives, 
watches, &c., convincing enough to lure a bigger 
island than Hivaoa into the straight and narrow 
way. Kao-ha ! Good. Bargain closed then and 
there. The unsophisticated one kneels down and 
is baptised a Catholic. 

The months roll by. Enter a Protestant 
missionary. He is neater in appearance than the 
priest, sports brass buttons and a gold watch- 
chain. The converted native interviews him and 
learns to his surprise that the road to heaven he 
has elected is the wrong one. No! Catholics 
never go to heaven never at all. The priest's 
red blanket, too the price of conversion is 
worn to a shred, and a duplicate is not forth- 
coming. The unsophisticated one decides to 
become a Protestant without delay, and does so. 

" Tell me truly, O Hake Lao," said an inquisitive 
New Zealand skipper to a converted Marquesan 
cannibal, "how often have you been baptised?" 

A drink of rum had loosened the chiefs 
tongue, and he replied with glee, " Four times 

Catholic and five times Protestant." 

245 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

"You ought to be safe for heaven, anyhow," 
grunted the skipper. 

For all this, both classes of missionaries do 
good work in the Marquesas going miles across 
these sun-baked hills to minister consolation, and 
not hesitating to visit even the leper-haunted 
settlements of the interior valleys if the duty of 
the Most High calls. 

And here we come to the serpent that lies 
beneath the rose. Leprosy ! We called on the 
principal Catholic missionary of the place, and 
the tale he had to tell was a sad one. The 
disease is carrying off the population at a terrible 
rate thirty-seven deaths to seventeen births is 
the result shown by last year's census. At this 
rate, our children's children will know of the 
Marquesans as we know of the moa and the 
dinornis, through the agency of museums and 
legends. There is no really effective method of 
combating the evil. A centralised system of 
hospitals might have a beneficial effect, but the 
island trade is hardly worth the expenditure, and 
as yet no kindly minded philanthropist is at hand 
to step between Azrael and his victims. The 
malady is a pestilence that walks by day. I 
verily believe, from what I saw, that a full third 
of the island's population is more or less infected. 
So slight and unobtrusive are the early symptoms 
of the disease, however, that unless your attention 

246 



Visit to a Leper Village 

were called to their existence you might pass by 
without noticing anything. The stroll back 
through Atuana village was several degrees less 
enchanting than our first ramble. Now that we 
were fairly on the look-out the malady seemed to 
crop up at every turn. A girl offered a bunch of 
flowers. Looking down, I noticed with a rising 
of the hair that her toes were disfigured with 
unsightly white patches. She was a leper. 
After that I began to look on every one with 
suspicion in my ignorance, no doubt, mistaking 
many for afflicted when they were physically 
sound. No attempt seems to have been made as 
yet to segregate, as a precautionary measure, the 
healthy and unhealthy. In Tahiti, it is true, 
one of the most blooming valleys beyond Paea 
fifteen miles from Papeete used to serve as a 
leper-settlement. Marua-Po the natives called it. 
Of late supervision has everywhere relaxed, and 
the people herd together both in Tahiti and the 
Marquesas indiscriminately. A pitiful sense of 
their own corruption and perhaps the pressure 
of public opinion has driven some of the more 
hopeless cases to seek refuge in the jungles of 
the interior, where they wait for the end with a 
composure and fortitude rarely found among 
their civilised masters. 

I had an opportunity some weeks later of 
visiting one of these settlements. It was not a 

247 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

far journey as the crow flies, only four miles ; but 
owing to the nature of the country most of the 
miles were vertical ones and the most infantile of 
reasoning obviously suggested something original 
in the way of locomotion. 

The originality came, and for the first time in 
my life I became acquainted with that strangest, 
weirdest, nimblest of all animal constructions 
the Marquesan horse. 

Physically, he is not much to look at. He is 
small, stunted, unpicturesque, with angular sug- 
gestions about his hocks and withers that proclaim 
the want of a square feed. Gymnastically speaking 
he is the direct cross between the mule and the 
chamois. No declivity is too steep, no precipice 
too inaccessible for him. The mountain paths of 
Hivaoa are as easy to tread as a verandah 
railing and as irregularly graded as the spiked 
top of Milan Cathedral. But the Marquesan 
horse likes them. They suit his angular structure 
and harmonise with his weird, famished, energetic 
nature. We had started early, in the moist, 
slippery dawn, to avoid the heat, and even while 
we pawed our way through the comparatively 
facile guava scrub and the ocean of rotting tree- 
stumps lining the base of the hills, I knew I had 
struck something throwing the vaunted Mexican 
plug into the shade. But it was when we left 
the underbrush and began to climb the precipice 

248 



Visit to a Leper Village 

that the height and breadth of my steed's genius 
began to show itself. There were moments when 
I believed he must have claws in his fore-feet. 
Several times when we came to a slope of friable 
clay, slippery enough and treacherous enough to 
launch an army into the Hereafter, I held my 
breath wondering what my horse would do. I 
didn't wonder long. A snort, a struggle, and he 
was on top. Avalanches of loose stones, beds of 
vicious cactus-needles, had no terrors for him. 
When after an hour's hard climbing we came to 
a place where a landslip had wiped the path out 
of existence leaving an ugly smear ending in 
a thousand-foot drop he actually laughed and 
tried to stand on his head for sheer joy ! 

On we clomb up that dizzy slope, while the 
plain of palms dwindled to a furry expanse of 
yellow and green and the overhanging peak of 
Temeti receded farther and farther into its 
diadem of cloud. By ten we had gained the 
summit of the ridge, and the long winding shore 
of Hivaoa appeared spread out like a map. The 
descent recommenced, this time on the opposite 
side of the ridge. Once again the shadows of 
the jungle swallowed us. The place was gloomy 
only through gaps in the tree-crowns came 
gleams of yellow light from the lit hills above. 
Nature seemed unusually blooming in that forest 
of death. Strings of healthy-looking rosy man- 

249 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

goes dangled within reach of one's arm. The 
shadows smelt of ferns and dripping undergrowth, 
and the ground was thick in bulbous juicy stuff 
through which the horse's hoofs squashed with a 
noise like mixing salad. 

The grey drift of smoke came through the 
trunks. We reached a clearing. Some one hailed 
us in answer to my companion's halloo, and an old 
man, stick in hand, hobbled forward. I gave one 
look at his face and turned sick. He had lost 
no, never mind. Of what use are such details ? 
Across the green tops of a patch of sugar-cane 
the baby effort of some stricken wretch appeared 
a row of tiny pandanus-roofed burrows. The 
old man took my horse by the bridle and it 
seemed to me that the healthy beast even started 
at the touch of that pathetic horror. In one of 
the huts I could see a woman kneading something 
in a bowl. The old man held out his hand to me. 

"Do so," said my companion, sotto voce, "it's 
not catching." 

I obeyed with some slight misgiving, for the 
absolute non-catchiness of leprosy in its advanced 
stages has hardly been proved as yet. Then 
come the children a sickly looking crowd for 
the most part, with old, frightened faces, nervous 
shifting eyes, and a sullen, demure manner that 
strikes pitiful contrast with their tender years. 
Have these mites ever known the kiss of the 

250 



Visit to a Leper Village 

pure sea, the dances, the music, the breath of 
healthy life in that busy world from which the 
touch of the Fiend has cut them off for ever? 
Yonder tall girl with the delicate brown limbs 
and pensive eyes, who stands looking at us from 
among the flowers like some shy creature of the 
forest, has she ever known the romps of the vil- 
lage school, the frothing of brown limbs in the 
tumbling water-rows, the frolics in the moonlight, 
and the whirling music of the dance in the nymph- 
haunted palm-clearings ? No for the mark of 
the destroyer is on her. Even as you look she 
hides something for shame in her dress. There 
is no hand there only a withered stump, shock- 
ing to see. They say, too, that leprosy is heredi- 
tary, and bred of wickedness. If so, the sins of 
the fathers hang heavily in that orchid-scented 
air. Three more children approach, two of them 
half-naked. Of what use are the decencies when 
death is so near? They sink coughing on the 
grass, not in the sun, but in the deepest shadow, 
where the clean blessed light of heaven may not 
shrink from meeting their piteousness. Who 
may you be, and what manner of errand brings 
you ? Perhaps you are a praying-man, come to 
tell them of hell and its furies of the judgment 
that awaits bad people who are discontented with 
their lot or worse still, to tell them of the world 
and its myriad promises, of the fair radiant God 

251 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

to whom the prayers of little children are as in- 
cense here in this valley of the shadow where 
His fair image has been outraged and foully de- 
faced ! The very light in your eyes is an insult. 
Life blooms for you. For them it has been a 
pale mockery seen through the tear-mist of suf- 
fering. All the pathos, the vanity, the despair 
of human existence find expression in the shade 
of those mangoes. 

A thin anaemic-looking man slinks from one of 
the huts, and takes his seat on the grass ; then a 
woman of middle age, her forehead furrowed 
with the ploughings of a thousand awful hours. 

Listen to their story. These two were lovers. 
By all human laws they were destined to be man 
and wife. But the evil smote the man on the 
threshold of his happiness. He woke up it was 
only a month to the wedding to find himself 
a leper. 

What was he to do? Marry the girl of his 
choice and drag her down to a loathsome death ? 
In his despair he found his bride's relations, and 
told his awful secret. They counselled instant 
separation. The girl herself would not hear of 
such a thing. She loved him, and would marry 
him in spite of everything. The relations argued, 
threatened, cajoled in vain. Then, as a last 
resource, they tried their eloquence on the man. 
Here they were more successful. The lover 

252 



Visit to a Leper Village 

would never suffer such a doom to overtake the 
woman he loved. He fled by night a voluntary 
exile from his native island of Tahuata, and 
buried himself in the deepest recesses of a valley. 
But love was too strong. Forgetting everything, 
liberty, friends, life even, the girl left her home 
and fled after him. 

You, poor wretch, preferred a lonely life of 
exile to the possibility of marking the woman 
of your heart with the curse that had laid you 
low. And you, devoted and affectionate wife, 
preferred a lingering death in his company to the 
vanities of an existence that had no charm for 
you without his love. 

Well, well it makes one feel very small to 
think of what the unselfishness of your sex can 
accomplish. And I am not sure the valley is so 
dark either. It may be a ray of light has struck 
a clump of flowers yonder, or it may be some- 
thing else the glow of a love that can lighten 
even this pit of misery into something resembling 
the heaven promised you by the Giver of all 
love. What folly to deny the beauty of human 
nature! Under the bear-skins of the Norseman, 
under the coarse garb of the Breton peasant, 
under the magnificent mail of the Wagnerian 
hero, or the soiled tatters of a South Pacific 
savage we find it again and again. 

253 



CHAPTER XXV 

NUKAHIVA A CANNIBAL QUEEN PICNICS- 
CONVICTS 

" Where some refulgent sunset of India 
Streams o'er a rich ambrosial ocean isle, 
And crimson-hued the stately palm-woods 
Whisper in odorous heights of even." 

TENNYSON. 

HIVAOA, though in some ways the most beautiful 
of the Marquesas, is by no means the most im- 
portant. The capital town of the islands 
Taiohae is situated on Nukahiva, a sea-girt 
oval measuring thirty miles in length by fifteen 
in width. Like the first island, the origin of 
Nukahiva is volcanic. There are the same 
twisted beds of lava, the same breakneck gullies, 
the same pillared formations of basalt and ter- 
races of scoria hidden under carpets of guava and 
trailing convolvulus. 

The picturesque fishing-village of Taiohae, 
called by courtesy a town, nestles prettily in 
the loop of a deep bay shadowed by vertical 
cliff-walls. As there is no trace of a reef the 
waves roll in on the black sand in all their fury. 

2 54 



Nukahiva 

Beyond the rows of scattered villas compos- 
ing the town the ground extends up in wavy 
rolling hills till, as in Hivaoa, a steep amphi- 
theatre of rock checks the flood of onrushing 
verdure. 

There used to be an old saw, promulgated by 
some observant island-skipper, to the effect that 
it is easier to smell the Marquesas than see them. 
This particularly if one sails in on a misty morn- 
ing certainly applies without much violence to 
Nukahiva. At ten miles from land one already 
notices a change. The sea breezes are bearing a 
new burden on their wings, an odour quite distinct 
from the true smell of the islands, one that has no 
affinity with anything one has hitherto experi- 
enced. It comes from the cassi-plant (at least 
that is the name they give it), a sort of shrub or 
low bush, recalling in general outline the ever- 
present ti-scrub of Australia, but covered, in lieu 
of white flowers, with a myriad of tiny, fluffy, 
yellow balls which, if one is hardy enough to 
venture a walk through them, cover one from 
head to foot with their golden powder. The hills 
of Nukahiva, in fact, contain the fortunes of quite 
an army of perfumers. I suppose something ought 
to be done. Certain it is that a prolonged so- 
journ in these lands fills one as much with a grim 
pity at the opportunities wasted as with admira- 

2 55 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

tion for the theoretical or picturesque value of 
things. 

Taiohae is Papeete in miniature. There is the 
Broom-road, the white church spire, the sleepy 
flotilla of trader-schooners, and bobbing jumble of 
outrigger canoes all complete. Nay, as one slides 
up in the light of morning, one is even surprised 
to find what one never found in Tahiti a pier. 
A ramshackle, stickified edifice of wood, with 
protruding rusty bolts to trip one up, and holes 
to break one's leg in, but still a pier. There is 
also a lighthouse a decayed bird-cage with a 
paraffin wick dangling at the top of a ten-foot 
pole. Behind the lighthouse on a grassy knoll 
rises the mansion of the governor, a comfortable, 
airy, suburban villa, with a garden full of roses 
and a white, happy, chalky bust of the Republique 
to greet one over the doorway. This is civilisa- 
tion. 

The population of Taiohae is contemplative 
rather than energetic. The same fruitfulness of 
soil is at the bottom of their idleness as in all the 
other islands of this favoured hemisphere. The 
place is a kitchen-garden and conservatory com- 
bined. Oranges, citrons, guavas, custard-apples, 
avanas, avocas, coco-nuts, and two-thirds of the 
vegetables proper to temperate climes grow in a 
profusion which has something impertinent about 

256 



Nukahiva 

it. There is an embryo steam cotton-mill, a 
natural dry dock (in Anaho Bay), and a water 
supply several grades less intermittent than the 
Papeete one. Tobacco and indigo grow wild, as 
also do aniseed and kava - root. The native 
women are supposed to be past mistresses in the 
art of making " tappa " (birch-bark cloth), though 
like their sisters in Papeete they generally keep 
the stuff for the edification of the tourist, pre- 
ferring the more easily acquired European or 
Chinese prints for their own use. The sewing- 
machine is as common as the cuckoo-clock in 
Switzerland, and every second house can boast 
one. Taiohae has for some years past also been 
the penal station of the Eastern Sea. The con- 
victs in question are mostly criminals of the petty 
class illicit tobacco-merchants, kava-drunkards, 
filchers of chickens, and dabblers in all kinds of 
variegated naughtiness. The inflicted labour is 
road-making. If the roads of Nukahiva are in- 
tended to speak for the system, justice must be 
humane, very humane indeed. There is no jail. 
Such an institution would be useless as it would 
be difficult to leave the island without detection, 
and equally difficult to annoy its inhabitants by 
staying. It is an ideal brigand's paradise. 

The queen of Nukahiva, Vaekehu, is a charm- 
ing old lady. If they should tell you the yarn 

257 R 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

about her having helped to eat her first husband, 
you had best treat it as pure fable. She inhabits 
a pretty creeper-covered cottage in full view of 
the harbour, and is amazingly popular with the 
authorities. 

On the beach road I cannoned into Jimmy 
Gibson, purser of the Croix, who had been amus- 
ing himself speculating in shell at Hikueru. Jimmy 
was in the best of spirits. His native wife was a 
resident of Taiohae, and the lady's rumoured 
preference for a Chinaman had lately caused poor 
Jimmy several sleepless nights. Instead of the 
anticipated note pinned to the pillow-case, how- 
ever, Jimmy had landed that morning to find his 
partner faithful, affectionate, and all his own ! 
Never had such a thing been heard of! Jimmy 
begged me to photograph the lady at once. Out 
she came, blushing, rosy, perfumed like a Madonna, 
a very Venus stirred from slumber. But what use 
is it to enthuse ? Pretty girls are no rarity here, 
and in Nukahiva as in Bath comparisons are 
odorous. 

By way of additionally commemorating the 
incident, a picnic was proposed with camera 
and girls. The latter refused point-blank. The 
day was grilling, and they didn't see the fun of 
being driven about in the sun merely for the sake 
of a roasted hog and a moiety of flirtation. They 

258 



Nukahiva 

could have both at home. Jimmy prayed, but the 
damsels were adamant. Our own company had 
to suffice us that day. 

A pair of horses and a roofed dray I am loth 
to call it a waggon were secured. We hired the 
services of a Kanaka driver and rattled hungrily 
about Taiohae canvassing for food. Jimmy had 
promised us a regular native feed. First the boys 
hunted up a couple of bottles of wine at one of the 
stores. Then we intercepted a native carrying a 
magnificent ten-pound fish at the end of a long 
pole. There were plenty of bananas and fates, 
but we wanted something more solid, and none of 
us knew how to set about getting it. 

Then joy ! a small pig with echinus-like 
bristles lining his back ran squawking across the 
road and disappeared between some whitewashed 
fence rails. Jimmy, being the linguist, descended 
and bargained with the proprietor. A moment 
later we heard a shrill squeal, and out came some- 
thing tenderly wrapped in aromatic banana-leaves 
and tied with twisted coco-fibre. It was the pig. 
" Now," said Jimmy, " we shall not be many 
moments." 

But the vegetable trimmings had yet to be 
secured. By a lovely little villa a mile towards 
the mountains some graceful fronds of bread-fruit 
were bending over the fence. It is only in the 

259 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Marquesas that you would dream of coolly step- 
ping into a man's garden to rifle his fruit-trees. 
The task of picking the big green bulbs was more 
difficult than it looked. Bread-fruit generally 
hangs just out of reach. It is a mistake to jump 
at it. The rough skin cuts your fingers to pieces 
and leaves you sore and rumpled for the rest of 
the day. Wild sweeps with a pole are no use 
whatever. They maul the fruit and make it un- 
eatable. Presently two girls came out with tall 
chairs and a knife, and the fruit was detached 
without difficulty. I don't believe Jimmy paid 
for the fruit, but I know he put his arm round 
one girl and told her she was the life of his soul 
and that he had come to Nukahiva for the express 
purpose of completing her education " Na oe ha 
pee tie " (for I saw him do it). 

En avant ! The shades of the forest grew 
deeper, and through the twining maze of branches 
the great crest above shot back the sun as from a 
reflector. Presently we reached a likely spot. 
Jimmy and the Kanaka driver proceeded to col- 
lect brushwood to roast the porker, while I, 
curious on the score of South Sea island cookery, 
superintended the chopping-up and pickling of 
the fish. 

The genesis of raw fish is simple enough. It 

is hardly likely that any true Kanaka would take 

260 




Jimmy Gibson. 



\_p.26o. 



Nukahiva 

the trouble to cook anything when he could, by 
stretching his tastes a trifle, get a meal without 
that labour. One of the boys armed himself 
with a knife. The long, silver creature was split 
in half along the backbone, cut into strips, laid on 
a leaf and dosed with oil, vinegar, and chili-pepper. 
To all intents and purposes it was pickled. Yet 
it is funny to see what a horrible grimace the 
average European will make at the mention of 
this dish. Try it, ye grumblers try it. All the 
reasoning in the world won't do away with the 
fact that it is quite as civilised as salt pork and 
a good deal more humane than oysters. Travel- 
ling is currently admitted to enlarge the mind ; 
may we not honestly admit that it enlarges the 
palate as well ? 

The bread-fruit came next on the list. You can 
cook bread-fruit in fifty different ways. You can 
boil it like a potato, fry it, devil it, broil it, stew 
it, bake it, pickle it. The easiest and pleasantest 
way of all is to roast it under a bonfire. It goes 
into the ashes green and comes out a black charred 
mass which you presently split away with the knife 
to disclose the snow-white interior, bolt upright on 
its calcined stalk like a monstrous egg of flour. 

And the taste? Oh, well mix soap, flour, 
indiarubber, sand, suet, and cheese together in a 

jumble. That ought to fetch the taste of bread- 

261 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

fruit all right. If it don't like Mark Twain's 
pistol it will fetch something else, and that 
something else will be a Marquesas-island vege- 
table, for they all taste alike. 

The poetry of that savage collation abides with 
me yet Sitting cross-legged on the moss, our 
necks wreathed with verbena, our brows with 
tuberose, we were indeed a noble quartet to 
carry the greeting of Europe to the people of the 
sea. The scene yet remains impressed like a 
photograph. The sombre canopy of trees, the 
dusty spears of sunshine, the roasted pig on his 
back on the platter of leaves, the smoking bread- 
fruit, and the sour, biting French claret at fifty 
centimes the quart. Such things embalm the 
memory. Of such may the gods grow jealous ! 

At the dessert I got a startler. Our Kanaka 
had shown himself a noble waiter, but after im- 
bibing half a bottle of that wondrous claret, he 
got fairly wound up to concert-pitch and offered 
to show us the original Marquesan hoola, as 
danced in prehistoric times. He did. It was 
nimble, but not pretty. For compliment, I sug- 
gested he ought to try it at night on the beach 
and pass round the hat. He cottoned to the idea, 
but had to admit it was impossible ; for, as he 
said : " Me convict, sah me live in jail, sah." 

This was fact, not fiction. Our worthy Kanaka 
262 



Convicts 

had got himself condemned to a year's solitary 
confinement for some misdemeanour, and was 
really supposed to be boarding at Queen 
Vaekehu's or the Government's expense. In- 
asmuch, however, as this mode of punishment 
was apt to spoil his chances of making a living, 
the kind Government allowed him to roam freely, 
only stipulating that he was to appear every 
evening and announce himself to the authorities 
before going to bed. 

In fact, the Taiohae jail was at one time quite 
a popular institution. It was discovered that the 
tiled roof leaked less in the rains than the primi- 
tive leaf-thatches, and for a season, criminals in 
Nukahiva went genially on the increase. With 
advancing years, however, the jail soon relapsed 
into the reigning condition of artistic "jom- 
methry." The windows got smashed in due 
course and, ever since Government has decided 
not to replace them, crime has been at a discount 
in breezy Taiohae. 

Taiara i Tikei (name of the Kanaka) was en 
outre a descendant of royalty and magnificently 
tattooed a notable fact, for the genuine art of 
tattooing is fast becoming a lost one, and a really 
fine human mosaic is nearly as great a curio in 
Nukahiva as an old soldier in Virginia or a 

Balaclava pensioner in Holborn. 

263 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Tattooing is a distinctly painful operation at all 
times, and I have been told hurts nearly as much 
as being skinned. Few men get beyond the 
anchor and life-belt ordeal. In Tahiti, among 
the sentimental Kanaka youth, it is the fashion to 
have the name of your inamorata tattooed on 
your arm an obviously silly idea, for the mark 
always outlives the passion, and should the lady's 
successor be cast in a jealous mould, must be a 
source of bickering. 

And this brings us to a melancholy figure the 
original tattooed white man of Nukahiva, John 
W. Hillyard, Esq. 

His story is pathetic. It needs telling to slow 
music. Also it contains a moral, which, it is 
hoped, the succeeding narrative will make plain 
without further comment. 



264 



CHAPTER XXVI 

THE STORY OF JOHN HILLYARD 

" Love's ways are sharp for palms of piteous feet 
To travel but the end of such is sweet : 
Now do with me as seemeth you the best." 

HE came from God knows where, and was bound 
for the same dread locality. A raw, inexperi- 
enced, baggy-kneed youth of eighteen who had 
probably run away from some San Francisco 
school and been signed in on board the Nancy 
Dawson just because crews were scarce, and the 
Marquesas (this was in the sixties) had an ugly 
man-eating reputation among seamen. 

On reaching Nukahiva the Nancy Dawson 
was beached in Anaho Bay for repairs, and 
supervision was temporarily relaxed. Hillyard 
had been at school a romantic, absent-minded, 
fiction-reading lad, whom all the bullying in the 
world hardly could rouse from apathy. Now, 
under the novel colouring of his surroundings, 
some of his boyish enthusiasm returned. He 
saw himself in the paradise of his dreams, and 

the pure delight of it stabbed to his heart like 

265 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

the premonitory symptoms of the passion that 
was to be his ruin. He deserted spent a night in 
the bush, and eventually reached Taiohae, where, 
as white labour was scarce, he obtained employ- 
ment in a French trading firm, the first and 
oldest one in the islands. 

Competition was anything but keen, and in a 
very short while Hillyard rose from errand-boy 
and bottle-washer to the command of the Tikehau 
a diminutive thirty-ton schooner, mainly used 
to advertise the firm's doings and drum up trade 
for future commercial enterprise. 

Those were golden days. Hillyard found 
himself a genuine South Sea trader. Standing 
erect on the poop, he drank in ideas of liberty 
with the smell of copra from the hatches, and 
the shock of the combers as they struck the 
Tikehaus sides were the cymbal clashes of 
nature rejoicing with him. The first trips 
were short ones. The buttresses of Nukahiva 
had barely time to die in the warm rain before 
the long line of Huapu shook itself free from 
its girdle of mist and revealed itself to the seer 
in the glory of palm -gullies and flying cloud- 
tatters. Then came the sleepy noon, with the 
droning chatter of women under the awnings, 
and last of all the silver magic of the night with 

the drift of voices on the rain-scoured air and 

266 



The Story of John Hillyard 

the twinkle of torches in the water. Hillyard 
was one of nature's poets, and no kindly warning 
came to tell him of the disaster impending. 

Once in the midst of a noonday siesta the 
Tikehau was lying off Huapu at the time some 
one hailed him from the shore. Two graceful 
figures in scarlet stood on the grass. One was 
Mariamma, the Christianised daughter of a can- 
nibal chief, whose bamboo stockade was just 
visible through the wall of greenery ; the other 
was her married cousin, Mau (pronounce Ma-oo), 
the most inveterate matchmaker and scandal- 
monger of the district. 

Hillyard descended to the cabin an hour later 
walking on air. Mariamma's eyes had done 
what the owner had intended. The girl had 
driven a monstrous bargain, but Hillyard was 
satisfied. He determined that if the parties at 
Taiohae objected, he would waive financial con- 
siderations and pay the difference from his salary. 
That night there was a hoola on shore. As 
Hillyard sat cross-legged on a mat, and tried to 
smoke his pipe in time to the dancers' wrigglings, 
some one crept from out the cloud of whirling 
drapery and threw a flower in his face. It was 
Mariamma. The token was only a tiny thing of 
little import, but it brought a crimson flood to 
the man's cheek, and left his heart throbbing 

267 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

with a wild feeling of emptiness. Hillyard 
sculled his way back on board and tried to 
sleep. Next morning, as the Tikehau felt her 
way out through the oily water, the shore wind 
brought something besides the breath of awaken- 
ing flowers to Hillyard's nostrils. There was a 
spiral of smoke between distant palm-branches, 
and the skipper's gaze turned to where a long, 
grey roof-thatch, Jter home, nestled into its copse 
of bread-fruit. The girl's image had grafted itself 
on Hillyard's heart, and not the poetry of a thou- 
sand dawns could blot it out. 

It was nearing the close of the year when he 
saw her again. Hillyard had worked hard at the 
island lingo, and this time he was able to do 
more than offer sweetmeats. He got scant en- 
couragement, however. Mariamma did not like 
pale faces. But Hillyard amused her and kept her 
in chocolates. Therefore she feigned sympathy. 

Her cousin Mau was more explicit. "You 
leave Mariamma be she no got use for you, 
you silly dam white man you." Mariamma, on 
the mat, having eaten her fill of chocolates, put 
in her say. She said " Hart! " (go) in a tone that 
spoke volumes, and sent Hillyard flying from the 
house in an agony of despair. He passed the night 
among the palm-stems in a black hell of misery, 
and only returned on board his ship when the 

268 



The Story of John Hillyard 

shouts of the men warned him it was time to 
start. 

In Taiohae the company's doings were broaden- 
ing. Another vessel was to be started in the 
trade, and the Tikehau, together with her skipper, 
was relegated to coasting round Nukahiva. This 
meant to Hillyard separation from his goddess. 
He did not hesitate. He determined to quit the 
company for good, return and settle in Huapu. 

Mariamma was not glad to see him, for he 
came poor and positionless, and the cabinful of 
print was a thing of the past. Mariamma's 
heart, like that of many proper young ladies, 
went hand in hand with her interests. At 
Hillyard's offer of marriage she laughed boister- 
ously. With true island candour she called him 
a pig of a foreigner and told him his white 
face made her sick. In the early days of his 
courtship Hillyard would have keenly felt the 
sting of her words, but now love had cast out 
pride, and the more she abused him the more 
angelic did she appear. 

Temaki, Mariamma's young brother, a copper- 
coloured Apollo of fifteen, tattooed all over like 
a willow pattern, tried mediation. Hillyard had 
bribed him freely with sticks of tobacco, and 
he felt kindly disposed to the love-sick Beretane. 
He expostulated with his sister. White men 

269 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

were not all blackguards. As for Hillyard's 
face, he, Temaki, would soon remedy that. He 
produced a bundle of pointed bones and a cala- 
bash of sticky black gum. Temaki was the artist 
of the village and burning for a chance to show off. 

Hillyard was nearly out of his mind. This 
was why, when Temaki came to him that evening 
with an absurd proposition, instead of genially 
kicking the youth into the street with his bless- 
ing, Hillyard gave Temaki his last ounce of 
tobacco and began to seriously ponder over the 
matter as a university professor might over a 
new and weighty problem in philosophy. 

He would let Temaki tattoo him in approved 
island fashion, he would discard his European 
trousers and wear a pareo instead he would give 
all up and become a native. His Beretane origin 
once effaced, Mariamma's heart would soften. 

The idea was that of a madman but Hillyard 
was in no condition to reason clearly. Temaki 
got his pointed bones and set to work. He 
commenced by scoring Hillyard's face with 
broad green bands which, descending from the 
forehead, lost themselves in a whirlpool of con- 
centric circles in either cheek and fell away 
down the neck in tassels. Hillyard's breast he 
marked with a chess-board not proportioned 
according to the rules of Staunton and a 

270 



The Story of John Hillyard 

spreading mango-tree with two plethoric hogs 
guzzling the fallen fruit was elected to adorn 
his back. Two venerable Kanaka hags assisted 
at the operation, and sang tunes to drown Hill- 
yard's groans. At the end of r the week Mari- 
amma's would - be lover was in a high fever. 
They put him to bed, wrapped him in a patch- 
work quilt and tied bandages on his forehead. 
When at last he was able to walk, Hillyard 
was a fearful object. The clumsy fish-bone 
needles had left swellings round the scored 
lines of his forehead. His face was deathly 
pale and the green circles stood out like mould 
on leather. Temaki himself was inclined to be 
frightened at his work. 

It was some time before Hillyard dared show 
himself to Mariamma. When he did so the 
punishment of his foolishness came in a flood-tide 
of agony. Mariamma had been indifferent before, 
now she became horrified. She began by a fit of 
hysterics which terrified Mau, and wound up by 
spitting contemptuously at Hillyard and calling 
for her brother to take the " devil " out of the 
house. 

Hillyard was like a man broken on the wheel. 
For months he led the life of an outcast, sleeping 
in rainy hollows and feeding on all kinds of 
vegetable offal. Why his mind did not give way 

271 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

is a mystery. He finally drifted back to Taiohae, 
where he obtained work on one of the newly 
formed plantations, and where his appearance won 
him a goodly meed of success among the lady 
population, many of whom were not blind to the 
charms of a novelty. 

At present he is a man nearing the sixties, and 
one of the most singular ornaments of Taiohae 
harbour ; but not all the gold in creation can tempt 
him to tell the story of his love-affair, nor can he 
be persuaded to allow his photograph to be taken. 
The skeleton is closely locked in his mental cup- 
board, and the rambling on dits of merchant- 
skippers over Taiohae bar-tables, together with 
this (ahem !) interesting and printed tribute from 
the pen of a globe-trotter, are all that remain to 
keep alive the memory of the tattooed man and 
his heartless Mariamma. 



272 



CHAPTER XXVII 

A NUKAHIVA GOAT-DRIVE 

" Katline Mapue, the gray dawn is breaking, 
The conch of the hunter is heard on the hill." 

Marquesan himent. 

To many men life, even island-life, is incomplete 
without sport of some kind. 

Marquesan game is of a very small order. 
Curlews, plover, snipe, and a peculiarly bony 
variety of wild duck frequent the marshes, and 
can be tackled in the regulation way. There is 
plenty of pig, but they must be followed with the 
rifle, as the unevenness of the ground and the 
sparkling abundance of precipices make orthodox 
"sticking" an impossibility. In some of the 
larger islands of the Society group wild cattle 
are said to range the guava scrub in such numbers 
as to make exploration without a sufficient escort 
a dangerous pastime, but these hardly come under 
the head of game. Certain headlands along the 
coast of Nukahiva, too, afford a resting-place to 
millions of sea-birds so tame that a boy of 
average intelligence can knock enough of them 

273 s 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

on the head in a single morning to make their 
feathers a drug in the market for weeks. This 
likewise is not sport. 

But a sight of the real thing was not long in 
appearing. The first act of the drama was as 
follows. I had been lunching with the governor 
of Nukahiva, and with that exquisite civility 
characteristic of the French official in his deal- 
ings with the English tourist in island ports, the 
governor had instantly offered to despoil his 
garden of flowers to make me a bouquet. He 
wouldn't take a refusal. Two large-sized washing- 
baskets were to be filled. The supply seemed to 
me to be adequate, but the governor, who had 
calculated smothering my cabin in roses, com- 
plained bitterly. A promising half-acre of flower- 
bushes had been gnawed into unrecognisable 
"jommethry." The radishes in the kitchen- 
garden had been eaten to the last fibre. The 
wattle fence surrounding a portion of the domain 
had been chewed into unsightly gaps, and the 
beds of Michaelmas daisies had been converted 
into unedifying jam by a myriad tiny hoof-marks. 
It was a Liliputian outrage al fresco. The 
governor waxed wroth. He knew who the 
thieves were. The tiny, mischievous, skipping, 
musk-smelling wild goats of the mountains who 
fear neither God nor man. A drove of the 

274 



A Nukahiva Goat-Drive 

creatures had broken in by night and treated 
themselves to a rose-dinner. 

"This will never do," explained the governor 
to his weeping gardener; "we must organise a 
hunt and teach these creatures manners. You 
can enlist the whole gang of ces messieurs Turi. 
We start at daybreak." Then, turning to me 
" Cela vous va, kein ? " 

It suited me to perfection. Taiohae, as I 
have already noticed, harbours, in addition to 
the usual compendium of island loafers, some 
dozens of interesting amateur convicts. They 
were the gang alluded to. When next morning 
some one stirred me up off my mat at the China- 
man's the lot of them were drawn up on the 
Beach-road at the turn leading to the governor's 
house. A fine collection of men thirty or so 
all told with just enough fire in their eyes, 
enough jauntiness in their blue trousers and leaf- 
woven hats to tell of dormant vagabondism. 
Half the number were armed with long pruning- 
knives (machetes they call them in Spanish), the 
remainder carried the long murderous Marquesan 
spear, embossed in a double row of baby white 
shark-teeth. For my part, not knowing pre- 
cisely the part I was destined to play, I carried a 
miniature saloon-rifle, and the governor, who pre- 
sently appeared, bore a similar weapon of the 

275 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

"repeating" kind, of a form sacred to the French 
colonial army alone. As we wended our way up 
the slope under the flamboyants the scheme of 
the morning's work was explained to me. This 
was no artistic hunt, but a systematic massacre 
of offending vermin. A mile or so ahead the 
dark cliff-edge cut its monstrous silhouette 
against the morning sky. A cordon was to be 
formed at the base of the hill, and the animals 
driven steadily forward to the edge of the abyss. 
"And then," concluded the governor, "you will 
see something funny quelquechose de bizarre" 

The dawn was racing along the top of the 
highest arte as we struck the first belt of scrub. 
A thin mist was rising from the taro-ponds, and 
the spaces between the villas of Taiohae were 
dotted with flakes of filmy cotton. Then the 
fight began cassi-brambles versus machete and 
hatchet combined, a merciless warfare, and one 
to fill your tailor's heart with joy. Cassi-scrub is 
heathen stuff to traverse. When the opposing 
army of thorns have done lacerating your 
trousers the flying cloud of yellow pollen gets 
down your throat, and you feel as though you 
had swallowed the contents of a drug-store. 
The scenery, where we had time to look at it, 
was very fine. A mile out to sea the orange 
tips of the " sentinels " were hanging in sunshine. 

276 



A Nukahiva Goat-Drive 

The remainder of the bay was deepest night, 
save where the struggling foam-patches caught 
a vague shimmer from the lit cliffs above. 
Several small schooners were hoisting sails in 
the harbour, and in the crescent of black sand we 
could see a knot of boys pushing with shrill cries 
a long flat-bottomed boat from its shelter under 
the buraos. 

Then hist ! a whisper ran along our line. 
A few hundred yards from where we stood, our 
trousers yellowed with cassi-pollen, several objects 
which I can only describe as misshapen black 
fleas, were skipping against the creeping band of 
light. A faint squeak, the protest of an insulted 
rag-doll, came down-wind. A Marquesan goat 
is a most insignificant atom. It seems impossible 
so much angular ungodliness can be condensed 
into so small a compass. The governor's arm 
went up like a semaphore. The men stopped 
swinging their machetes and cowered obediently 
into the scrub. Now for a shot. There is not 
the slightest real necessity for using the firearm, 
inasmuch as the quarry can't escape us, and the 
terrible cliff-drop is not far off. But the marks- 
man instinct is irresistible. The foremost goat 
stands on a knoll, snuffing the air, with cabalistic 
suggestions of horn and hoof which the animal's 

reputed instinct don't weaken in the least. 

277 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Clearly he is alive to the situation. He can't 
have winded us, for the breeze is in our faces, 
but the whack of the machetes has gone before, 
and the red line of pareos is visible a long way, 
even in that mist-wreathed twilight. 

Bang! He is up with a bound and the whole 
posse go skurrying away uphill with an eager- 
ness that will take them to San Francisco in a 
week if the ocean doesn't spoil their game. 

Now then, mes enfants. As we rise and dive 
impetuously into the ocean of yellow fluff the sun 
tops the ridge behind and burns the backs of our 
necks. Below in the gloom the pandanus roofs 
of Taiohae are only dull splotches. The ground 
is heaped up with huge lava-blocks, a mass of 
ghastly pitfalls. Lucky if any one escapes with a 
broken leg. And what is the good of all this 
rush, messieurs ? Festina lente. The inevitable 
reaction sets in, and after a quarter of an hour's 
mad scrambling we have to call a halt. A 
stampede of elephants could hardly give us more 
trouble. 

Hurrah ! We have succeeded in fairly scaring 
them at least. A knot of the game is standing 
uncertain as the foremost body of men rush up 
uncertain as to whether it will be best to dare the 
final slope of the hill, the one leading to the scene 
of execution, the cliff overhanging the sea. We 

278 



A Nukahiva Goat-Drive 

have been drawing nearer the base of this slope, 
which leads upwards at an angle of forty or so, 
for the last quarter of an hour. Some instinct 
tells the creatures that even though they succeed 
in topping the slope, no salvation awaits them 
there. Even in the heat of the chase a pang of 
pity goes through me on behalf of this huddled 
group of dumb creatures who, skip they never so 
bravely, must at last play their losing game and 
die. 

No such thoughts animate the men, however. 
We are remorselessly closing in on the goats. 
There seems to be a sort of political leadership 
in the group. One body of animals remains 
pawing the base of the slope, the other, a small 
isolated regiment of ten, draw away to the left. 
There may be fifty in toto all told. Are they 
going to try and break the line ? The men 
advance, their machetes rising and falling like 
flails. Yes ! it is a forlorn hope, but one party 
is going to attempt it. Those strange beings 
who advance striking the brushwood aside in 
flashes of light may not be so dreadful after all. 
Once through that line of blue serge and liberty 
is theirs. The papa-goat throws up his nose, 
bleats angrily, and whish ! away go the lot, 
scuttering across the rocks like an avalanche. 
Two of the men level their guns, but bless you ! 

279 " 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

you might as well try and nail the wind. 
There is only the smell of smokeless powder, the 
sound of ripping foliages and the floating dust of 
nipped cassi-puffs. The goats have won their 
liberty. 

Terror now strikes the other half. There is 
no way save the way of the slope, and up they go 
in a slanting line beautiful marks for rifle bullets. 
We are close upon their heels, but seeing them 
straggle out thus over the face of the cliff one's 
murderous instincts almost make one regret one 
didn't stay behind. It would have been glorious 
shooting, but it is too late now and we must keep 
the game busy or they will double and break the 
line again. 

Oh, the agony of that last slope! In my boy- 
hood I had read of Grimm's enchanted road where 
for every step forward one fell back two. Now I 
met the thing in reality. There was no trace of 
a path. It was claw and climb and hang on as 
nails and eyebrows permitted. 

At last we are on the summit. A level 
stretch of grass with tiny blue flowers leads away 
to the wall of rock. The growl of the breakers 
comes to us faintly. Half-way across the lawn 
our poor frightened hunted quarry stands hesitat- 
ing. Perhaps they feel they are gazing their last 
on the green world they love, perhaps it is merely 

280 



A Nukahiva Goat-Drive 

startled animal curiosity. The governor appears 
panting and mopping his face with his handker- 
chief. As the men are about to throw themselves 
forward he stops them. The moment has not 
yet arrived. The flotilla had not yet rounded 
the heads. Should the goats elect to jump into 
the water they will be easily hauled on board and 
disposed of in Taiohae. 

The governor leads the way to where a pro- 
jecting claw of rock commands a view of sea 
and cliff-face. We may be from 500 to 600 feet 
above the water-level. There is a howling gale 
blowing, and I have to desperately clutch my 
helmet to prevent its taking wings and flying 
back to Taiohae. There are all manner of weird 
fissures in the scrub. Up one awful hole, poorly 
concealed by a deceitful canopy of lantana- 
blossoms, the menace of the water comes to us 
as through a speaking-tube. Fifty terrified mites 
of animals are bleating at the end of a red, knife- 
edged crag. Surely they will never have the 
courage to jump that. The flotilla of boats is 
still far off. If the goats go over the cliff now 
they will drown like rats. The men, despite 
their leader's caution, are jabbering as only 
Kanakas can jabber, and rattling their muskets. 
One or two of them have squatted down in the 
scrub and are lighting cigarettes. 

281 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

Then, while the boats are stupidly labouring 
round the heads, half a mile away at least, the 
end comes. 

There is the sharp crack of a rifle. Some 
idiot has fired it by mistake. The foremost goat 
advances, squeaks ; there is a sound of tearing 
foliage, and down he goes ! turning over and 
over along the red face of the cliff, and striking 
the water with a splash. 

" Oh, the imbeciles ! " says the governor. But 
the mischief is done, and nothing remains but to 
stay and watch the end of the drama. A second 
goat has approached the edge : over he goes. 
Then another and another. Panic has struck the 
band ; they are hurling themselves methodically 
to destruction. Leaning over, craning my neck 
through that perilous lantana table-fringe, I can 
just see the foremost goat in the water, swimming 
bravely. A broad rocky plateau, nearly awash, 
rises beyond the ring of surf, fifty yards out. 
Fear lends strength, and the tiny dot is strug- 
gling to reach it. Safety, for all it knows, may 
lie there. 

No for even as we watch, comes another 
danger, dark and cruel as the grave this time 
from the water. A pale shadow appears under 
the blue surface. An agonised squeal comes to 
our ears. The poor goat is gone. A shark has 

282 



A Nukahiva Goat-Drive 

got him. The governor is dancing with rage, 
and swearing in excited falsetto. What a waste 
of material ! Little indeed is left for the boats 
to pick up. From every quarter of the sea come 
the hurrying forms of those white terrors, eager 
for their banquet of blood and while the foolish 
sails flap helplessly to windward, death closes in 
on our frightened quarry. It is a massacre grim 
and] great. The sharks are darting about like 
a shoal of herrings, fierce, insatiable as furies. 
It seems that even at that distance one can hear 
the rip of their protruding fins and the ponder- 
ous snap of the iron jaws. It is horrible too 
horrible ! We came for sport, and instead we 
have witnessed an orgy of blood that would dis- 
countenance an Indian rajah. The very waves 
are blushing apparently, for the shock of the 
combers leaves unsightly patches of crimson 
froth sticking to the rocks. The governor rises, 
flicks the dust from his trousers, and smiles philo- 
sophically. 

" We have taught them a lesson anyhow," he 
says, " and the next time you honour me with a 
visit, monsieur, you shall not want for roses ! " 



283 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

TAHITI AGAIN PAPEETE IN GALA 

" A thousand proas darted o'er the bay 
With sounding shells, and heralded their way. 
A thousand fires, far-flickering from the height 
Blazed o'er the general revel of the night." 

The Island. 

IT was our last morning in Nukahiva. There 
was quite an array of ladies drawn up on the 
beach to wish us God-speed. The emotions of 
several simply boiled over. 

" Whither are you going, Beretane ? " queried 
one, hanging prettily on the engineer's arm and 
ogling the second mate across her fan with the 
most lovable impartiality. 

" Back to Tahiti, darling." 

"Take me with you do." The eyes look 
sincere enough, but travellers must learn to 
mistrust optical phenomena. 

" Oh she'll go right enough, if you care to 
pay her passage," says one of the traders 
brutally; "so will any of the others. It's the 
French national fete in Papeete and the darlings 
are dying for a chance to show off." 

There is in fact method in Miss Ariitea's 
284 



Tahiti Again 

madness. The months have slipped away only 
too pleasantly in breezy Nukahiva, and the four- 
teenth of July the anniversary of the taking of 
the Bastille is looming only a week ahead. No 
pains are to be spared to make the festival as 
brilliant as possible. A special excursion steamer 
has been run from Sydney. From the sands of 
the Paumotus schooners have contracted to bring 
parties of girls for the foments. The Marquesas 
have despatched a contingent of their own, as also 
have the Leeward and Cook Islands. It is going 
to be what Americans call a magnificent blow-out. 
Shortly before noon on the thirteenth the long 
gray slope of Tahiti appeared in the west the 
peninsula of Taiarapu and the mountains behind 
Tautira. Signs of activity were already visible 
as we entered the harbour. A fleet of brand-new 
ships were bobbing at the anchorages. The 
Bougainville Club was a blaze of light, and the 
grassy border between the Customs and the Post- 
Office was a mass of tiny booths. A long black 
shadow the ribbon of smoke from her funnel 
showing clear above the star-dust of Orofena 
pointed to where the Sydney steamer (the 
Waikarf) was moored, and there were fluttering 
suggestions of flags and ribbons among the 
darkened trees of the Broom-road. My house 
was deserted, of course. The wooden steps were 
hidden under fallen leaves, and weeds had com- 

285 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

pletely obliterated the garden walk. Considering 
I had paid two amiable Kanaka ladies to look 
after the place in my absence, the living facts 
gave me a shock. There was only one refuge 
left the hotel. 

Considering the season, the night was hot and 
uncomfortable. Most Tahitian houses are built 
on an airy plan, but my room, with the sullen 
buzz of wasps in the ceiling and the odours ^f 
flowers and dew -laden banana -trees from tne 
garden, was purgatory idealised. 

Morning was ushered in by salvoes of crackers 
from the Chinaman's. Not the timid schoolboy 
squib of Guy Fawkes celebrity, but monstrous 
bundles of explosive festoons vicious and deafen- 
ing enough to rouse the toupapahus of a hundred 
shadowy ancestors. The noise among those 
reverberating iron roofs was something awful. 

As the sun peeped through the brushwood of 
Orofena a flood of conveyances began pouring 
along the Beach-road. An awful mixture of 
styles and vehicles. Every kind of contrivance 
was represented from the smart C-spring buggy 
sacred to white ducks and laces, to the lowly 
packing-case on two wheels with its burden of 
six yelling Kanaka children and perhaps a pig 
or two. The Papara mail-coach, its wheels and 
horses neatly garlanded with flowers, presently 
put in an appearance, bringing sundry amiable 

286 



Tahiti Again 

old chiefesses with decorated hats and tins of 
food. There was a goodly sprinkling of bicycles, 
very popular among the half-caste element ; one 
doughty Kanaka youth sported a home-made 
"bone-shaker" of a peculiar kind. Its wheels 
were simply disused barrel-ends, its framework 
a carpenter's saw-bench metamorphosed. The 
pedal-work had clearly puzzled the artist, so he 
had not attempted its construction merely 
contenting himself with sitting astride of the 
bench and dabbing the ground with his feet. 
" Necessity," &c. 

The company is as mixed as the vehicles. 
Military men in helmets and flashing buttons are 
helping down from their landaus delicate-look- 
ing French ladies with lace-fringed parasols and 
smelling-bottles landing them rather incongru- 
ously among the genial, if easy-going sea-froth of 
vahines and longshore-men. The grass is fairly 
hidden under the groups of recumbent Kanaka 
musicians, who are torturing their accordions 
and jabbering love-songs as only Kanakas can. 
Monsieur Gallet, the governor, drives up magnifi- 
cently in his high barouche, and surveys the scene 
nervously. The mixture of nationalities is un- 
settling, and the question of whom to invite to 
dinner becomes more poignant the more you 
think about it. A quarter of a mile from shore 

the Aube that venerable relic of dead dockyards 

287 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

has donned her largest and most triangular 
smile of flags, as also have the Eva (Moorea's 
private courier) and a score of smaller yachts. 
The Chilians have a device of their own a seedy, 
bilious-looking one suggestive of quarantine 
regulations. There is a tolerable sprinkling of 
Stars and Stripes, also of Union Jacks. One 
doughty Irish skipper, not to be behindhand, has 
hoisted the green and the harp. Good humour 
is catching and universal. 

The short street leading past the Fare Moni 
from the quay to Pomare's palace gate is a sight 
for the gods. It is literally choked with booths 
of all kinds. Jugglers, gambling tables, ice-cream 
vendors, liquor sellers, and dealers in flowers have 
taken up positions at the sides of the road and are 
all talking at once. Some astonishing swindles 
are being perpetrated. Innocent lady passengers 
from the Waikark are purchasing slices of water- 
melon at twenty-five cents apiece. Considering 
melons are only worth five cents apiece in Tahiti, 
the vendor makes a fair profit. The most atro- 
cious liquors are offered for sale at the drinking- 
booths, the labels of some being enough to give 
one the cholera without tasting the mixture in- 
side. At a table, raised slightly above the others, 
a splendid gentleman in checks, with a sugges- 
tion of artificial jewellery in his shirt sleeves and 
a decided dash of the tar-brush in his complexion, 

288 



Tahiti Again 

is spinning a wheel with gaudy-looking numbers 
gleaming round the circumference, and, to judge 
from the ceaseless jingle of money on the baize 
counter beneath him, doing a rousing business. 
Next door to him, behind a barrow laden with 
indigestible biscuits, a Kanaka of a musical turn 
of mind is courting the muse and custom by 
playing the flute. The street, with its seething 
exotic crowd, its list of weird articles offered for 
sale, is a Nijni-Novgorod fair in miniature. A 
mock perfumery store sports a pile of bottles 
filled with compounds which only Papeete slums 
could witness the boiling of. A pot of railway 
grease, flavoured with essence of cloves, is labelled 

o 

" Rimmel's Anodyne for the Hair." Another 
bottle, which, from the smell, I should judge to 
be filled with alcohol and lavender water, is styled 
Eau de Cologne Jean Maria Farina. Tahiti 
trade is apparently as indifferent to libel as a 
New York opera pirate. 

In Pomare's garden the merry-go-round is in 
full swing. The thing itself is a poor contrivance 
enough, with steam gearing and mottled wooden 
horses, whose unnaturalness set the pre-Raphaelite 
masters at zero. Watch the people though. The 
trading schooners have swept them together from 
the funniest out-of-the-way islands. Just imagine 
the pride of a mother in some lost coral dab, who 
after a year's "screwing" takes her family of 

289 T 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

daughters to be "finished" in this giddiest of 
baby capitals. Queer notions of civilisation the 
poor things must get ! Here on the grass you 
can see a bevy of timid brown things stand and 
gaze pensively at the merry-go-round. If you 
want to have some fun, buy a few tickets and dis- 
tribute them among the innocents. The wooden 
horse is very tame. He won't either bite or 
kick. Like as not, if the girls come from some 
very small island, they will have never seen a 
horse or any beast larger than a pig. Never 
mind, start them on the machine. Off they go 
to a jingling tune from " Madame Angot," with 
shrilling whistle and panting steam-pipe. Horrors! 
one of the beauties has been ill-advised enough 
to jump off, and goes rolling over on the grass 
a mass of flashing brown limbs and flying hair. 
Two more hang on with faces deathly pale. A 
fourth, the youngest of the bunch, has started 
sobbing and calling for mamma. The machine 
is stopped and they are let down, pleased but 
shaken. The amusements of the white faranis 
are as awful as their wickednesses. 

Down by the water's edge a canoe race is in 
progress. The available strength of boats, ten or 
so, are drawn up some fifty yards from the un- 
sightly coal-store of Fareute, each of them repre- 
senting some village or province. The majority 
of the rowers are naked or nearly so, though some 

290 



Tahiti Again 

few have got themselves up to conquer in striped 
jerseys and floral crowns. Better leave those 
trickeries aside, gentlemen. This is a strife of 
muscle, not beauty. You can air your aesthetics " 
to-night round the band-stand. 

Cheers ! They are off. A good start but too 
hurried to ensure salvation for all. Those out- 
rigger skiffs are not so innocent as they look. 
Pat the water the tiniest bit too hard and over 
you go like a Jack-in-the-box. There ! One of 
them has gone over the one headed by Charley 
Teriinui, a noted dandy and lady-killer. Dandies 
are at a discount here though. A yell of laughter 
heralds Charley's overthrow. He swims ashore, 
rumpled but still beautiful, to receive the consola- 
tion prize the chattered sympathy of vahine-dom, 
which here, as elsewhere, carries balm to the 
afflicted heart. 

And now, by common consent, the glances turn 
to where bobs on the water the tiny flagboat 
round which the canoes must pass. A shout and 
a waving of handkerchiefs. They have passed 
and are on the homeward track, Papeete leading, 
the Papara boat close at her heels. The finish 
is an exciting one. Ordinarily the way is clear 
enough, but to that holiday crew, most of whom 
have probably had recourse to the stimulus of the 
gin-bottle, more like to prove a path of destruction. 
The shouts of the crowd increase to a roar and 

291 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

the line of boats becomes a sea of coloured hand- 
kerchiefs and pareos. A close finish indeed. 
There is little to choose between the style of one 
boat and that of the other but the currents round 
those snags of submerged coral are deceiving, and 
it would take a smart coxswain (if there were one) 
to decide the victory. No such niceties here 
though. Every one is tired and the paddles are 
splashing merrily. The leading boat is done up 
a logical result of having played for the gallery 
too early in the game. The long prow of her 
adversary creeps up inch by inch, and before 
Papeete can realise it she is beaten. Papara has 
won the race. 

Boating finished, we resume our exercise of 
patrolling the streets. The road leading from the 
cathedral to Mangaiatown is a veritable bower of 
flags. There is to be some amateur steeple-chas- 
ing at Herr Koppenrath's this afternoon. Also a 
match of island-cricket. I say island-cricket be- 
cause the English and the Tahitian notions of the 
orame differ. Refreshments are laid out on the 

O 

grass and the players go for drinks between the 
runs. The fielding is done on a grotesque scale, 
mostly by Chinamen who, until the ball strikes 
one of them in the abdomen, discreetly refuse to 
acknowledge its presence. Mangaiatown itself 

has got its own particular aches. Neat huts of 

292 



Papeete in Gala 

plaited grass, their eaves and gables decked with 
rustling plumes of paper or reva-reva, have been 
erected among the flowering trees. They tell of 
prizes offered by the administration for native 
architecture, and undreamed-of talent the mush- 
room growth of a few nights has blossomed in 
the strangest quarters. 

Here we come suddenly on a spectacle remind- 
ing us of our own Maypole ceremonies at home. 
The elected queen of the May (funny to talk of 
May in this land of perpetual summer) chosen 
for her beauty, or her willowiness, or both sits 
at the door of her hut, clad in all the glory of her 
innocent frippery, between her two handmaidens. 
In case the latter prove insufficient, two doughty 
Kanaka warriors, their hair puffed out into fierce- 
looking mops, armed with business-like spears ten 
feet long, stand by to keep watch over the fair 
one. Una, slumbering by her lion, could hardly 
have been more effectively guarded. 

The trailing fringe of a rain-squall drags across 
the town presently and the crowd is forced to 
take refuge in the Chinaman's. What a babel ! 
Tahitians, Rarotongans, Atiu Islanders, Man- 
gaians all talking at once. Every variety of 
morals too from the sleepy market odalisque, 
her hat blazoned with the ensign of a French 
man-of-war, to the tiny brown school-miss from 
the Paumotus, for whom Yet Lee's whitewashed 

293 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

barn with its wondrous copper kettles and glitter- 
ing pyramids of bottles is Palace of Fortunatus, 
Eldorado, and New Jerusalem rolled into one. 

The wooded avenues in the western portion of 
the town are humming with preparations for 
to-night's musical entertainment. The broad 
flowery square opposite the Palace of Justice, 
with its hedges of hibiscus and lines of drooping 
sycamores, is to be the theatre of action, and for 
the present the poetry of the place is almost 
swamped under the mazy festoons of Chinese 
lanterns and the bunched-up bouquets of tricolor. 

It is time for lunch but there is a difficulty 
in getting oneself attended to. The Hotel du 
Louvre is crammed with a pushing army of 
tourists, and Buillard's saloon, with its faded 
billiard-cloths and model schooners, has become 
the rendezvous of the Waikart foc'sle hands. 
Nothing remains but to go home, starve patiently, 
and wait for the evening. 

It is not long in coming. Hardly has the 
ubiquitous gun of the Aube saluted the vanishing 
sun-rim when the monde begins to collect, at first 
in groups, then in strings, and at last in a tossing 
avalanche of hats and skirts that bids fair to 
sweep all before it. Isolated celebrities are 
naughtily patrolling before the Cercle Militaire, 
where the lynx-eyed officers are watching from 
their bower among the trees. One or two fine 

294 



Papeete in Gala 

stately figures among them. Also a good deal of 
specially acquired haughtiness and biting repartee. 
The girls are on their best manners to-day. 
Here comes one Teipo i Temarama, the maid- 
of-the-moon. Try and get her to smile. You'll 
wish you hadn't. She has a caustic lunar 1 
caustic wit and the heartlessness of sixteen 
Barbara Aliens. 

And yet, O Teipo, there was a time when 

Gracing and filling the band-stand in the centre 
of the square, in faultless evening dress and 
swallow-tails, serene and imperturbable as the 
council of gods in Olympus, sit the judges, 
headed by one of the oldest residents Mr. Narii 
Salmon. Ave Narii, fiorituri te salutant! 
(Those about to blossom into song salute you). 
The performers are divided into groups, fifty or 
so in each, mostly called after the villages or 
districts they represent. Papara, Teravao, 
Hiteaea, Tautira, &c. The Tahitians proper 
monopolise the available space in front. Atius, 
Paumotuans, Bora-Borians sit right and left. 
Deathly silence. You could hear a pin drop. 
The president's hand goes up solemnly. The 
singing commences. 

A South Sea himent in its highest grade of 
development is difficult to do justice to in print. 
It begins by the usual treble shriek pitched in 

1 Joke by De Smidt. 
295 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

any key which comes handy. Just as you are 
trembling for the girl's vocal organs the shriek 
loses its viciousness and modulates off into some- 
thing probably a tune fitful enough to em- 
barrass a phonograph. Apparently it is without 
rhyme or rhythm. But the chorus don't think so. 
The girl is working her way down step-fashion. 
As she sludders down comfortably into mezzo they 
chime in amicably one by one some repeating 
the melody in fugue fashion, others improvising 
"on their own" ; others, the heavy swells of the 
entertainment, merely contenting themselves with 
growling a sort of ground-bass accompaniment. 

Very few of the rules regulating civilised choral 
music find echo here. Nothing forbids the inter- 
crossing of the parts, and the bass gentlemen, if 
they be so minded, can blossom spontaneously 
into high-C tenors without infringing inter-island 
law. Certain harmonies, Chinese in colouring to 
wit, the well-known " Grail " harmony exploited 
by Wagner in the " Lohengrin " prelude recur 
almost to weariness. Taking it as a whole, the 
result is strangely, uncouthly symmetrical. Who 
taught these people counterpoint ? Certainly not 
the missionaries. They have never bothered 
their heads encouraging musical effort. Who 
taught them the art of modulation ? Who 
showed them the precise point at which a ground- 
bass must be altered to avoid cacophony ? Is 

296 




K 



Papeete in Gala 

this wild Tahitian melody an arbitrary assortment 
of notes, or is it intended to be a painting in 
sound, a musical suggestion of the landscape it 
emanates from ? Does not the droning sing-song 
of an Arab chant bear some resemblance to the 
desert ? Is not the very form of Scotch music as 
written on paper a representation, in its jerky, 
irregular notchings, of the Scotch hills ? Is it a 
mere coincidence that the Ranz des Vaches pre- 
dominates in Swiss melodies, or the twang of the 
banjo in negro ones ? Does not this ebbing, 
swaying himent, with its growling substratum of 
male voices, signify the whistle of the trade-wind 
in the palms and the roar of the reef? It is a 
problem worth investigating. Three Tahitian 
dioceses have said their piece, and it is the turn 
of the Atiu islanders. They are by far the most 
gifted of the company, and as events turn out, 
eventually walk off with a prize. A comic inci- 
dent marked the commencement of their efforts. 
The girl whose business it was to start was 
nervous. She did the preliminary wailing all 
right, but presently lost her head and made a 
wrong modulation. The basses were already in 
activity, and the key they chose was unfortunately 
the right one as indicated by the opening shriek. 
When it came to the turn of the altos every one 
was at variance. For a few minutes the tune 
wavered like a lamp in a draught, then it hesi- 

297 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

tated and broke down amid cheers and hoots. It 
was too much for the old chieftainess. Jumping 
up from her seat she seized the erring prima- 
donna by the hair, and gave her two sounding 
boxes on the ear. The girl screamed, and being 
as muscular as she was musical, began a spirited 
retaliation. The police intervened, and the two 
were packed off shrieking defiance from the arms 
of their respective constables. 

As the evening progresses, the spectators grow 
more excited and exhibit a wish to join in the fun. 
A few daring spirits have taken to dancing hoolas 
in the rings of lamplight, and have to be forcibly 
recalled to order. Some of the military men in 
the club are getting uproarious, and, tired of 
himents, are shouting ironically for musique 
musique ! Then, bowing to the decree of the 
masses, the judges gravely vacate their rostrum, 
and the final attraction of the evening the 
Papeete military band takes their place. 

This is a portion of the entertainment in which 
every one can participate. Well-known airs, 
patriotic and otherwise, have been set to native 
words the " Marseillaise," the Toreador's song 
from "Carmen," and a third abominable tune 
reminiscent of Lecocq 

" Rupe rupe Tahiti ! 
Rupe rupe Farani ! " 

(Vive la France ! Vive Tahiti !) The tune is in 

298 



Papeete in Gala 

quadrille-tempo. Two hundred odd girls sur- 
round the band-stand, and amuse themselves by 
capering round in a circle. The colours ! The 
dust! The enthusiasm ! Let us thank Heaven, 
or the French, that there is at least one little 
corner still remaining in this hideously over- 
grown world where a man who is satiated with 
civilisation can lay his weary head and be lulled 
to sleep in a whirl of tropical imagery. For years 
we have dreamed of such spectacles, and at last 
we have found one in Papeete. 

I hardly know how I found my way home 
that night. I remember passing up the garden 
walk (it was my own house, not the hotel), with 
its waving blue flowers and white patches of moon- 
light. I remember throwing myself on the bed 
and relapsing into blissful unconsciousness 

Shrieks from the road. A female voice shout- 
ing my name. " Beretane Beretane ahoo ! 
Na oe hoia!" 

It is a serenade ! A tall pliable vahine, her 
long hair floating in the night wind, her eyes 
gleaming with ahem patriotic enthusiasm, 
bangles rattling on her bare brown arms 

" The infant of an infant world, as pure 
From Nature lovely, warm, and premature." 

Go away, mademoiselle ! You'll wake the 
police ! Go away at once ! Naughty girl ! 
Shocking ! 

299 



CHAPTER XXIX 

TAHITIAN SOCIETY 

" Too comic for the solemn things they are, 
Too solemn for the comic touches in them." 

IT is a queer jumble a pie in which the few 
raisins have so thoroughly absorbed the flavour 
of the suet as to be undistinguishable but for 
the colour and for that nameless aureole of 
respectability that tells you they are raisins 
without the cook's certificate. 

To a globe-trotter who is travelling to avoid 
the crush, or a remittance-man who is doing 
the same because the crush avoids him, the 
name Society Islands sounds a trifle ominous. 
As one understands the word in Europe it 
means balls, parties, scandal, door-slamming, and 
a variety of concentric plottings of which a 
duchess, or an erotic novelist, may be the splash- 
foundation. Let him be of good cheer, however. 
The splash is there somewhere ; but if he flatters 
himself he is going to close up on it in a hurry 
he will find himself mistaken. It is easier to 
wobble in the rings. You can take all of them 
at once, or explore segments in small doses, 

300 



Tahitian Society 

whichever you please. It will amuse you and 
it won't hurt anybody. Is not the French motto 
that greets you over the door of the Customs, 
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity? Then what have 
you to fear, brother globe-trotter? Cut into the 
coffee-bush that is, if the coffee-bush doesn't cut 
you and win. 

The first forerunning signs of social amenity 
are convincing enough. There are two clubs 
in Papeete, the Cercle Bougainville and the 
Cercle Militaire, and the hospitality of both is 
extended to the stranger with an earnestness 
that would shame the ancient patriarchs. Kind- 
nesses, civil speeches, invitations flow in from 
all sides. Within twenty-four hours of your 
landing you have been apparently introduced 
to half the island. Tahiti begins to take form 
in your brain as a Consolidated Trust for the 
benefit of foreigners it is only when you dive 
beneath the surface and probe the private 
opinions these jolly good fellows have about 
each other that you catch the glitter of the 
serpent's scales. 

And how do I come by these reflections ? 
Here I am at the back of the beyond, living a 
devil-may-care, double-shuffle, demented existence 
in a romantic, mosquito-peopled cot of trellised 
vine with vahines in pink serenading me on the 

accordion at night and gentlemen in kharki whose 

301 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

sing-song wail of " how they lost their ship," 
becomes monotonous by repetition, exchanging 
ideas on the world, the flesh, and the devil 
(particularly the last two) by day. A charming 
variety indeed. But let us not digress. I am 
supposed to be hunting for the central splash 
the hub round which Tahitian fashion re- 
volves. Twenty years back, it used to be Queen 
Aimata Pomare (lit., the lady-with-the-cold-in-the 
head-who-eats-eyes) and a very sweet, good- 
natured, hospitable hub she made too, as many 
of our retired admirals and naval officers can 
testify. At present it is Norman Brander ; that 
is, if the title be not disputed by a score of liver- 
less French officers, or Yet Lee. 

Hold hard. Our object is not to be facetious. 
Our object is to find the splash. We shall dis- 
cover it in time. 

That is no. I fear not. Properly speaking 
there is no central splash. The hub does not 
exist. Tahiti is not what it used to be. The 
hyper-official jingoes have done their work. 
Papeete has progressed backwards. Where once 
glittered a harbourful of dashing men-of-war, now 
looms a poor handful of whitewashed trading 
smacks. Where once the electric lights flared 
from their bronze brackets, now glimmer a few 
dirty - glassed oil-lamps. Pomare's palace is 

deserted. A lawsuit is pending over its pro- 

302 



Tahitian Society 

prietorship, and as long as Papeete lawyers con- 
tinue to regard it as a source of income, so long 
will the weeds continue to sprout between its 
steps. Sic transit gloria Tahitiensis. 

In this dreamy, flower-scented air, under the 
shadow of these smiling velvet hills, two distinct 
"sets" have met in mortal combat the "mis- 
sionary" set and the "trader" set. The fight 
is bitter and never-ending no quarter being 
demanded or expected on either side. 

What there is in a missionary that refuses 
amalgamation with the ordinary rate-payer is still 
unknown. Physically there is little or nothing 
about the person of a missionary that would serve 
to point him out as a man different to other men. 
We ourselves have studied the genus all over the 
Pacific. We have mostly found them human 
sometimes eminently so. The missionary, as you 
meet him in Tahiti, is generally a man of middle 
age, portly, rosy-cheeked, and well fed. He is 
naturally cheerful nay, there are even muscular 
suggestions about his biceps that make you want 
to take him on in a sparring-match. His vices, 
where they exist, are very harmless. He has 
a fondness for swallow-tail coats, gardenias, 
and cigarettes. He likes his daughters to prac- 
tise the piano. Still, barring these little foibles, 
you would probably put him down as a decent 
all-round good fellow. 

303 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

But try and reconcile him to the rest of the 
crowd. Aha ! the shoe pinches ! The more you 
try, the more hopeless your case becomes. The 
missionary don't and won't love traders. There 
is no earthly reason why he should not love 
them. Were it not for the traders and their 
energetic administration the missionary would 
have been eaten ages ago. But so it is. 

Socially, I admit, the missionary claims prece- 
dence if only from the fact that he was there 
first. If he wasn't his predecessors were. There 
is such a thing as island lineage, and missionaries, 
like executioners in Japan, are more often born 
than made. Like Pooh-Bah in the " Mikado," the 
missionary isn't fond of saying how-d'ye-do to 
anything under the rank of a stockbroker. 

What wonder Tahiti is clique-ridden ? The 
more you endeavour to reconcile the island's 
heterogeneous elements the more they fly asunder. 
The smallness of the colony, and the character- 
istic speed with which scandal of any kind 
travels the fact that each atom knows and 
shudders at the private history of the next atom 
may also be to blame for this state of affairs. 

Leaving the missionary on one side and 
descending into the giddier strata of society, we 
find the same spirit of disintegration at work. 

"If there were only some decent fellows to 
talk to," is the querulous complaint of nine out 

34 



Tahitian Society 

of ten Papeete club-danglers. " For Heaven's 
sake don't ask him" growls some one else over 
his glass of vermout, "he's not in our set." 

Ah ! sweet Tahiti ! what you need is not 
another bushel of colonists, but a patent cement 
to weld you together. 

On the smooth Rue de Rivoli I meet H.M. 
Consul Milsom and tackle him despairingly. 
" Can't we go a picnic up Papenoo, and take the 
Thing-um-bobs ? " A stare of innocent horror. 
" My dear fellow, I don't know these people." 
" And why ? " " Why oh, well it's a long story. 
The fact is Mrs. Thing-um-bob ran away with 
What's-his-name, and sold Thing-um-bob's py- 
jamas for rum I assure you it would never do." 

Etc., etc. In the Marquesas at least they are 
more pungent. " I never leave cards at that 
house," explains Eater-of-swollen-feet to Chewer- 
of-eyeballs ; " my father ate his grandmother, and 
we've not been on speaking terms since ! " 

And so the comedy wears on, and the attitude 
of one-half of the Society Islands towards the 
other half is that of Guelphs and Ghibellines. 
Norman Norman Brander : with your urbane 
fluency of language, with your suave manners 
and polyglot knowledge of island lingo, cannot 
you do something to bring some of these way- 
ward people together ? They're none so bad 
individually, Norman, and as the last descendant 

305 u 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

of Tahiti's ancient lineage, you ought to be able 
to chivy amiability into the more rebellious ones. 

Isolated attempts, indeed, have been occasion- 
ally made, generally by outsiders. 

The Union picnic was one of these. It was 
in the earlier days of the Auckland run, and the 
company, by way of humouring the administra- 
tion and paving the way for mutual good-fellow- 
ship, decided on taking a party for a picnic to 
the neighbouring island of Moorea. The thing 
was organised nem. con., and the task of issuing 
invites entrusted to a Monsieur Tandonnet, one 
of the most influential of thereabout merchant 
princes. With the first strokes of Tandonnet's 
pen trouble began. The leader of that year's 
politics chanced to be a man possessed of that 
most ambiguous of blessings, a native wife. The 
latter was not on speaking terms with Madame 
T., and consequently found herself left out of the 
invitations. Three other notorieties, likewise 
enemies of the merchant princess, shared the 
same fate, and retired growling behind their 
verandah lattices. Meanwhile the list swelled. 
A hundred Government officials were included, 
likewise fifty army officers, and a bushel of mis- 
sionaries. Both parties were given carte blanche 
in the matter of ladies. Both made good use of 
the privilege. The missionaries brought their 
daughters, the officers their consolations. Be- 

306 



Tahitian Society 

sides the full compendium of longshore giddiness 
there were four consuls, two members of Parlia- 
ment, an escapee from Noumea, a Russian prince 
in kharki, a dismantled Spanish ambassador, 
three Cuban bandits, a Portugee dentist (taote 
iriti niho in the vernacular), and a contractor for 
stolen beef from the King country the most 
variegated load of muscle and morals ever seen 
since the days of Noah. 

With the first hauling in of the kedge the sets 
began to segregate. The missionaries, in virtue 
of superior holiness, possessed themselves of the 
upper-deck. The after-deck groaned under the 
weight of Government officials, the forward-deck 
was tenanted by the officers and their nimbus of 
female frailty. The smaller cliques were equally 
reserved. The four consuls entrenched them- 
selves in the captain's cabin, kindly including the 
Russian prince in their graces ; the dismantled 
ambassador monopolised the galley ; the Por- 
tugee dentist the wheelhouse. The escapee 
from Noumea played cards in the cuddy, the 
cattle contractor defeated in his intention of 
finding the cloak-room and going through the 
company's pockets crept into a cabin and went 
to sleep. It was all in the day's work. 

The rain came down before Moorea was 
reached, and a few of the vahines were very sick. 
Refreshments had been prepared in the saloon. 

307 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

There had been some intricate argument as to 
precedence. It was proposed to divide the cake- 
fight into four bells first bell, missionaries 
second, traders third, officials fourth, officers, 
nondescripts, bandits, frailties, &c. 

Vain hope ! The rain had strung the company's 
appetite to breaking-point. At the first stroke 
discipline fled to the winds vahines, Kanakas, 
traders, officers, made for the dining-room in a 
jumble. The jportliest of the missionaries, who 
had taken up his stand in the immediate vicinity 
of the companion, found himself hustled down- 
stairs on a muslin toboggan-slide and sandwiched 
between two frailties and a Kanaka with a mouth- 
organ. The British consul had to ask the Nou- 
mean escapee to pass the mustard. The ambas- 
sador and the Portugee dentist had to share the 
same pickle-jar. On deck M. Tandonnet's brass 
band, tired of being soaked, ceased banging at 
the " Marseillaise" and also took the staircase by 
storm. How that meal progressed without de- 
veloping into a free fight is only known to the 
stewards and Providence. All that is recorded is 
that the victuals vanished, like Hans Breitmann's 

lager beer 

" afay in de ewigkeit " 

before any of the more civilised members had 
time to get a sight of the bill of fare. The table 

was as though the locust had gone over it. 

308 



Tahitian Society 

The Upolu had dropped anchor in Papetoai 
Bay. An excursion of some kind seemed advis- 
able, if only to give the stewards a chance to 
clean up. Among the scrub two walks led right 
and left. The missionaries went to the right. 
The next boatful traders catching the inky 
gleam of swallow-tails in the distance, decided that 
their path lay to the left. The third boatful 
officials finding both ways blocked, looked dis- 
consolately out to sea and longed for a flying- 
machine. The soldiers and hoola-girls remained 
on board, the former from boredom, the latter to 
devour the sugar remaining in the bowls and 
improvise scandal. 

Cigarette-smoke and cognac combined breed 
confidence. The officers now hit on a diabolical 
plan, viz. ousting the missionaries and getting 
possession of the upper-deck. This was why, 
when the boatload of swallow-tails returned, they 
found a regiment of epaul^tted Frenchmen smok- 
ing in the long cane chairs and blowing rings 
over the taffrail. The eldest missionary made an 
attempt to regain the lost field but the most 
coquettish of the vahines, mistaking the nature 
of his quest, offered him a slice of pine-apple and 
he fled. There only remained the after-deck, one- 
half of which was already tenanted by traders. 

The home-coming of that gay Upolu was a 
sorry business. The rain brought out personal 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

enmities. The swallow-tails drooped ominously. 
Two knights of commerce a vanilla-curer from 
Papara and the agent for a New Zealand trading 
concern came to blows. The cattle-contractor 
offered to take on the three Cuban bandits and 
throw them overboard "as per invoice." The 
upper-deck party had started a hoola, and one or 
two market beauties, contracting jealousies, took 
to pulling each other's hair. The captain of the 
Upolu was at his wit's end. He appealed to the 
British consul. The latter replied by popping 
head first into the wheelhouse and barricading 
the door. It was all Milsom could do, and he did 
it with a will. 

As a last resource the band were rooted out 
and told to play "God Save the Queen." Ophi- 
cleide covers a multitude of sins, and it covered 
the tune to the extent of making it unrecognisable. 
There were ironical cheers from the French 
officers and clapping of hands from disaffected 
parties. The bandmaster wept. If this should 
get about, the majesty of England (fortunately 
Milsom was in the wheelhouse) would consider 
herself insulted and he would lose his position. 
The rattle of the anchor-chain cut into the middle 
of his apology. The captain gave a gasp of 
relief. The picnic was over. 

So ended the first and last attempt at welding 
310 



Tahitian Society 

Papeete together. Isolated attempts at jollifica- 
tion there are indeed. There is Raoulx and his 
Society of Excursionists. There is Kurka and his 
Kegel-bahn. There are the French officers and 
their wives who practise the score of " Carmen " 
upside down. Vermege and his orchestra a 
really inspired institution. Prince Hinoe and his 
flower-crowned loves. The pudding thins. We 
are at the market "bulls" and the beach-comber 
element. And we are no nearer our splash- 
centre than before. 

Tahiti does not live. It exists under protest 
beautifully, it is true, but under protest neverthe- 
less. From Dan to Beersheba from Mehetia to 
Tubuai-Manou I doubt if there be a man with- 
out his schedule of complaints. And what deep, 
dark, desperate complaints they are too ! From 
those of the Papeete political leader whose advice 
on the Chinese question Europe has recklessly 
ignored, to those of Milsom whose bicycle tire has 
sprung a leak ; from the woes of the governor, 
whose laundress won't bring back his gold-but- 
toned livery in time for his wife's next at-home, 
to the natty dapper little American consul, who 
is wearing himself to a shadow thinking about his 
ah corporation. 

Such a load of home-made crosses generally 
leads to ruptures. Society Islands forsooth ! I 
had almost rather apply to Papeete the definition 

3 11 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

applied long since by some cynic to Hammer- 
smith beg pardon, West Kensington " a lot of 
variegated grievances, each unit of which believes 
himself a little tin Providence on wheels." 

And whither is such disaffectedness going to 
lead you, gentlemen ? When the hour calls, and 
in obedience to a Fate before which even the 
Andes ten-pounder must perforce keep silent, 
the busy outer world of sin and sorrow knocks 
at your gates, what will you leave as a legacy ? 
Who will tell the story of your loves, your 
hates, your procrastinations, the dilatory petti- 
fogging that led to your fall? Who will draw 
the moral ? 

A bit of silver braid, a blossom of tiar, a 
worn-out mouth-organ, Tahiti will vanish in 
smoke like the mists of Orofena, and humanity 
relentless, workaday humanity will throne the 
middle spaces of the blue Pacific. 

On a tomb in the Papeete cemetery we read : 
SACRED TO THE MEMORY 

OF 

SOPHRONIA ELISABETH MARY JANE HIGGINS, 
NIECE OF LORD W , J V.C., H.I.E.C., K.G., &c.. 



" Be ye kind one to another' 



1 Name suppressed to avoid complications. 
312 



CHAPTER XXX 

NATIVE WIFEDOM A WHITY- BROWN STUDY 

" Mated with a squalid savage, what to me were sun or clime, 
I the heir of all the ages in the foremost files of time 1 " 

MOST people familiar with the literature of the 
Pacific must have been struck by the r61e 
played therein by that burning and ever-present 
blister,' the intermarriage of white men and brown 
women. 

Stoddard has maundered over the theme; Louis 
Becke has sentimentalised it; Loti, being a French- 
man and a young one at that, has deified it and 
surrounded his " marriage " with a halo of romance 
so marvellously unreal as to make it doubtful 
whether he actually knew what he was talking 
about. Certain it is that, contrary to what many 
people suppose, Loti was not the hero of his book. 
Rarahu indeed existed. She died some years 
since in Bora-Bora, and her death which was 
not pretty was due neither to love nor consump- 
tion. But fiction is fiction. It is with the reality 
we have to deal. 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

At first sight there is no reason why a white 
man and a brown woman should not pull well 
together. Out of the odd scattered millions of 
white men who are teaching the natives of the 
Pacific the value of their speckless aristocracy, 
fully two-thirds are wiving with native women in 
some fashion or other. There are good reasons 
for this. The islands are hardly places to bring 
delicately nurtured European women to. The 
climate that broadens the phylacteries of the mag- 
nolia shrivels the northern bloodroot. Society, 
in these fringes of creation, is filigree worn thin 
from exposure. 

Children white children become successively 
a problem, a danger, a terror, a warning. House- 
keeping, in the highest European sense, is a dead 
letter. It is not strange, therefore, that in default 
of a helpmate of his own race the new arrival 
be he trader, official, or common seaman will 
look about him for another and easier way of 
obeying the divine injunction. 

The daughters of the land are beautiful. And 
their beauty is one which, with all its exotic 
attributes, has yet enough of the civilised woman's 
characteristics to make it, for a season at least, a 
palatable substitute for the eyes of blue that Jack 
has left behind him among the Midland furze or 
the violets of Devon. A beauty made up of fairly 

3H 



Native Wifedom 

pale skin, fairly regular features, fairly kissable 
mouth all or nearly all of Eve's conquering 
paraphernalia condensed into the supplest, the 
naughtiest, the most bewitching piece of coloured 
womanhood the earth has to show. 

Jack's principles (if he has any) begin to 
vacillate. Should he decide on courting a lady, 
circumstances and the happy-go-lucky nature of 
island relationships make his path an easy one. 
Courtship is an idyll in tennis-shoes. Ever since 
Christianity, so civilising, has made its appearance 
in the islands it is no longer the teuteu arii 
(servant of the king) who breaks through the 
door and carries off the lady by force. Her con- 
sent must nowadays be asked. 

In isolated North Pacific islands it used to be 
the custom for the girls to propose first ; and even 
as late as 1830, when Montgomery visited the 
Sandwich Islands, the sight of a melancholy 
bachelor Kanaka whose complaint it was that 
" no girl had asked him " was more common than 
it is now. On the whole, South Sea ladies need 
attacking in much the same way as English ones. 
Indeed they sometimes give one pointers but 
that is another question. 

Let us suppose Jack safely married. His next 
move will be to take such steps as may be neces- 
sary to ensure harmony in his establishment. 

315 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

His wife's relations are generally the first to give 
trouble. As in Europe, there is such a thing as 
waking up to the fact that one has " married the 
whole family." The circle has to be squared, and 
the squaring involves more mathematics than 
Norie knew. Eloquence is of no use. Heroic 
measures succeed more often. The way in which 
one recent bridegroom the employe of a noted 
Tahiti trading firm settled the difficulty is suffi- 
ciently original to deserve chronicling. 

Jim Wakefield was a "boy" of some notoriety 
in the islands. He was not known to have any 
particular affection for natives, and when his mar- 
riage with a chocolate-coloured young lady from 
Hiteaea was announced, Papeete received an 
electric shock. 

The girl was pretty enough. There were in 
the family seven brothers and sisters, two grand- 
mothers, a posse of well-meaning but dissipated 
uncles, aunts to match, fifteen cousins, and a 
regiment of Kanaka hangers-on of various shades 
of colour and morality. Papeete looked on with 
bated breath. 

The wedding was a gay one. A sumptuous 
feast of baked hogs and miti had been laid out 
in the back premises of Jimmy's intended resi- 
dence, and, wonder of wonders ! the entire bride's 
family, dissipated uncles and all, were bidden to 

3-6 



Native Wifedom 

the feast. While his dear wife's relatives guzzled 
and sang Jimmy maintained an ominous silence. 
He appeared to be closely studying the faces of 
the guests one by one. At the close of the dinner 
Jimmy rose and vanished into the house. There 
was a pause. What new surprise was dear Ariitea's 
lord preparing ? 

Jimmy reappeared. In his hand lay a mighty 
double-barrelled gun. " Now," he said cheerfully, 
clicking the lock to show the piece was in order, 
" I know you, every mother's son of you, and 
the first son of a gun, man, woman, or child, 
who sets foot in this house again, I'll shoot him 
dead!" 

The Kanakas grinned awkwardly, but they 
knew Jimmy to be a good fellow and a man of 
his word, and took the hint. 

But even these drastic measures are hardly 
sufficient to keep a native woman from the com- 
pany of her like, for law of race is stronger than 
law of man, and class feeling mightier than the 
bonds of tried friendship. 

Let us suppose, however, that Jack has over- 
come all this and is living peaceably with the 
partner of his joys. Ariitea makes a good " plain " 
housekeeper. The items of furniture required by 
her are not extensive. From her father's house 
Ariitea brings a chest of drawers, a few photo- 

317 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

graphs, a bundle of linen tied in a pareo, her 
married sister's portrait framed in shells, a few 
lace curtains, a patchwork quilt, and a Bible. 
She discards going about barefoot, and in the 
superior dignity of married woman takes to wear- 
ing shoes. She rises with the lark and goes to 
market without a murmur. When her husband 
has got over wondering at Ariitea's energy he 
sees that vanity has as much to say in the matter 
as love, 5 P.M. being the fashionable time to show 
off your new dress. 

All this is very pretty. But a change comes. 
The precise tick of Jack's lifetime when he first 
begins to find his native wife a bore is difficult to 
locate. With some men it comes after the first 
year, with others after the first week. As time 
wears the tinsel from romance, Jack begins to 
realise that with all Ariitea's acquired missionary 
lore there are certain absolutely ineradicable 
savage traits about the girl's character that 
nothing not even time in big doses can fully 
efface. 

His doll has no notion of time, space, or 
money. The moral obligation of a promise is 
to her emptiness of rhetoric. She will insist 
on sitting on the floor. If there be any wash- 
ing, mangling, ironing to be done, she prefers 
to do it in full view of the street on the front 



Native Wifedom 

verandah. She finds lolling over the China- 
man's counter or smoking cigarettes in her 
neighbour's back - garden more amusing than 
attending to her husband's dinner. The romance 
of the connection is over and it only needs the 
final denouement to bring about a collapse. 

Jack finds out what it is to be a papa. It 
is rather fun at first. But presently new cares 
develop. Ariitea as a mother is affectionate 
enough, Heaven knows, but she has none of 
the snap or stamina of her European counter- 
part. The children are allowed to wander at 
will among the fishermen of the reef or the 
melon-sellers of the market. The purer senti- 
ment of paternity that of seeing himself 
mirrored again in the person of these brown 
mites does not come to Jack. The white man 
cannot live again in his brown children. And 
yet their future torments him. What will be- 
come of them. What are the islands making 
of them ? 

Two courses are here open, a bad and a 
worse. The first, the bad one, is to "let things 
slide," i.e. keep the children in the islands and 
let them grow up as they can. The second, 
the worse, is to send them away to be educated 
in some big centre of civilisation, say Auckland 
or San Francisco. We have seen how . this 

319 



The Log of an Island Wanderer 

turned out in one individual case. Should the 
father contemplate leaving the islands and settling 
at home, the proprietorship of a Europeanised 
brown daughter is hardly a blessing. If as 
is more usual Jack's true home is in the 
islands, it becomes a positive curse. It means 
that, her education completed, back comes the 
young lady to a lonely, monotonous, joyless 
existence quite devoid of the comforts for 
which her parent's mistaken kindness has taught 
her to crave with the brummagem politics of 
rival traders for topic of conversation, for amuse- 
ment an occasional scratch entertainment at the 
hotel, the yearly call on H.M. Consul, or the 
funeral of an ex-something-or-other. 

No native wifehood is a troublesome question 
at best, and the wisest thing for any man tempted 
that way will be to remember, and practically 
apply, the advice given in a vaguely similar case 
years ago by Mr. Punch Don't. 



THE END 



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