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Full text of "Memories of Vailima"

MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 




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MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 



BY 



ISOBEL STRONG 



AND 



LLOYD OSBOURNE 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 
FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 




CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
NEW YORK::::::::::::::::::1902 



SEEI^J BY 
PRESERVATION 
SERV6CES 
JAN 1 7 1992 



DATE. 



11 imt imil tut ■! IMM 



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* 



Copyright, 1902, by 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



Published, November, 1902 



J)U. 

213 



TROW OtRECTORY 

PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY 

NEW YORK 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Verses Written in 1872 i 

By Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Vailima Table-Talk 5 

By Isobel Strong. 

Mr. Stevenson's Home Life at Vailima 105 

By Lloyd Osbourne. 

Pola 167 

By Isobel Strong. 

Samoan Songs 207 

By hobel Strong. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Pola would Arrive in the Morning Early 

Attended by a Serving Man . Frontispiece 

PAGE 

Mr. Stevenson and Mrs. Strong in the Li- 
brary at Vailima 9 

Mr. Stevenson in 1893 ^3 

Near the Upper Waterfall, Vaisinango 

River 39 

Down the Coast 55 

Mitaele 59 

The Large Hall at Vailima 69 

A War Party 75 

The Hall 83 

The Road of the Loving Heart .... 93 

Entertaining the Chiefs Who Made the 

Road of the Loving Heart . . . .101 

The Inscription 104. 

First House at Vailima, with Vaea Moun- 
tain in the Background 109 



Vll 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 



On the Schooner Equator 113 

Mr. Stevenson and His Friend Tuimale 

Aliifono 117 

The House at Vailima After the Additions. 121 

Talolo 125 

Paying the Men on Saturday 129 

On the Back Veranda ^33 

A Samoan Chief 137 

A Samoan Matai, or Head of a Family . 145 

A Visitor 149 

The Smoking Room 157 

Vailima 163 

Pola 175 

The Walk in the Forest 179 

The Village 185 

The Bathing Pool 197 

Visitors from Vaie'e 215 

Vaea Mountain, the Burial Place of Mr. 

Stevenson 221 

Natives Decorating the Grave .... 225 



vin 



VERSES WRITTEN IN 1872 



VERSES WRITTEN IN 1872 
By Robert Louis Stevenson 



Though he that ever kind and true, 
Kept stoutly step by step with you 
Your whole long gusty lifetime through 

Be gone awhile before, 
Be now a moment gone before, 
Yet, doubt not, soon the seasons shall 
restore 

Your friend to you. 



II 

He has but turned a corner— still 
He pushes on with right good will, 
Thro' mire and marsh, by heugh and hill 

That self same arduous way, — 
That self same upland hopeful way, 
That you and he through many a doubt- 
ful day 

Attempted still. 



Ill 

He is not dead, this friend — not dead. 
But, in the path we mortals tread, 
Got some few, trifling steps ahead 

And nearer to the end. 
So that you, too, once past the bend, 
Shall meet again, as face to face, this friend 

You fancy dead. 



IV 

Push gayly on, strong heart ! The while 
You travel forward mile by mile, 
He loiters with a backward smile 

Till you can overtake, 
And strains his eyes, to search his wake, 
Or whistling, as he sees you through the 
brake. 

Waits on a stile. 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

AT Vailima, in the latter part of the 
year 1892, I began keeping a 
journal, putting down from time 
to time bits of Mr. Stevenson's conversa- 
tion, characteristic sentences and stories. 
Two large volumes were filled in time, 
from which I publish the following ex- 
tracts with some misgiving, for, as will be 
seen, they are of their nature fragmentary 
and disconnected. Much that would 
make them more comprehensible is of 
too intimate and personal a nature to 
print, and it would only be possible to 
render them more consecutive by weav- 
ing them into some sort of biography or 

7 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

narrative which it is neither my province 
nor my desire to attempt. 

" I have been writing to Louis's dicta- 
tion the story of 'Anne de St. Ives,' '=' a 
young Frenchman in the time of Napo- 
leon. Some days we have worked from 
eight o'clock until four, and that is not 
counting the hours Louis writes and makes 
notes in the early morning by lamp-light. 
He dictates with great earnestness, and 
when particularly interested unconsc'ous- 
ly acts the part of his characters. When 
he came to the description of the supper 
Anne has with Flora and Ronald, he 
bowed as he dictated the hero's speeches 
and twirled his mustache. When he de- 
scribed the interview between the old lady 
and the drover, he spoke in a high voice 

■* This story was finished, except the last three chapters, and 
published under the name of St. Ives. 

8 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

for the one, and a deep growl for the 
other, and all in broad Scotch even to 
' coma ' (comma). 

" When Louis was writing ' Ballantrae ' 
my mother says he once came into her 
room to look in the glass, as he wished to 
describe a certain haughty, disagreeable 
expression of his hero's. He told her he 
actually expected to see the master's clean- 
shaven face and powdered head, and was 
quite disconcerted at beholding only his 
own reflection. 

" I was sitting by Louis's bedside with 
a book, this evening, when he asked me 
to read aloud. * Don't go back,' he said ; 
' start in just where you are.' As it hap- 
pened, I was reading ' the Merry Men ; ' 
he laughed a little when he recognized his 

own words. I went on and finished the 

II 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

story. 'Well,' he said, * it is not cheer- 
ful ; it is distinctly not cheerful !' 

"'In these stories,' I asked, *do you 
preach a moral ? ' 

" ' O not mine,' he said. ' What I want 
to give, what I try for, is God's moral ! ' 

" ' Could you not give * God's moral,' 
in a pretty story ? ' I asked. 

" * It is a very difficult thing to know,' 
he said ; Mt is a thing I have often 
thought over — the problem of what to do 
with one's talents.' He said he thought 
his own gift lay in the grim and terrible 
■ — that some writers touch the heart, he 
clutched at the throat. I said I thought 
* Providence and the Guitar * a very 
pretty story, full of sweetness and the 
milk of human kindness. 

" * But it is not so sweet as " Mark- 
heim " is grim. There I feel myself strong.' 

12 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

" 'At least,' I said, ' you have no man- 
nerisms.' 

" He took the book out of my hand 
and read ' it was a wonderful clear night 
of stars.' 'Oh,' he said, *how many, 
many times I have written " a wonderful 
clear night of stars ! " ' 

" But I maintained that this, in itself, 
was a good sentence and presented a pict- 
ure to the mind. ' It is the mannerisms 
of the author who can't say " says he " 
and " says she" that I object to; whose 
characters hiss, and thunder, and ejacu- 
late and syllable ' 

" * Oh my dear,' he said, * deal gently 
with me — I oncQ fluted ! 

"Jan. i6th, 1893. 
" Oh poor Anne ! Louis has been laid 
up with threatenings of a hemorrhage and 

13 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

is not allowed to speak. It is a cruel 
blow just when we were getting on so 
well with Anne. When I went in to his 
bedside this morning he wrote on a slate, 
* Allow me to introduce you to Mr. 
Dumbley ! ' He was leaning against a 
bed-rest to which he called my attention. 
It was the one Sir Percy Shelley gave 
him; my mother had taken all the uphol- 
stery out as being too warm for this cli- 
mate, putting in a back of woven cocoa- 
nut sinnet, which is very neat and pretty, 
and comfortable besides. He cannot 
speak nor lean forward to write, for fear 
of starting a hemorrhage, and yet he does 
not look ill at all. He is tanned a good 
brown, has a high color and very bright 
eyes. In illness he is never pale; as he 
lies back against the rest in his blue and 
white Japanese kimono, with a wide red 

14 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

sash, so fresh and bright, looking at you 
with such a pleasant smiling face, it is 
hard to realize he is in great danger. 

" He has a slate by his side and writes 
nonsense on it. * I'm a rose-garden in- 
valid wreathed in weak smiles.' To a 
visitor who asked * how are you ? ' he 
wrote: * Mr. Dumbley is no better and 
be hanged to him ! ' 

" To pass the time I showed him how 
to make a, b, and c, on the hands, and 
we were getting some entertainment out 
of it when suddenly the brilliant idea 
struck us both to dictate Anne in the 
deaf and dumb alphabet ! It was slow 
work, and I often made mistakes, but we 
got on pretty well to the extent of five 
pages. 

" In the afternoon Aolele entertained 
him by playing patience on a table drawn 

15 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

to the bed. For his amusement she 
learned a game from a book, and he is 
always pleased and interested to see it 
played, making signs when she goes 
wrong and pointing at cards for her to 
take up. 

" We are only allowed in to him one 
at a time, when we all try to be entertain- 
ing and recount cheerful adventures of 
the household. Aolele is very success- 
ful at this, but she leaves her smile at the 
bedroom-door ; indeed we are all terribly 



anxious." 



'*Jan. 1 8th. 

" Louis is better to-day, and we did 
seven pages in the deaf and dumb al- 
phabet. The only concern he has be- 
trayed over his illness was at the first 
sign of improvement ; he wrote, * Oh 

i6 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Belle, I am so pleased ! ' and the tears 
stood in his eyes." 

"Jan. 22nd. 

" To-day Louis was so much better 
that, though he had a headache, we wrote 
twelve pages o^ Anne. When the lunch- 
eon bell rang we both thought it a mis- 
take, the morning had flown by so quick- 
ly. He generally fills in his convales- 
cence with poetry ; to-day he read us 
some beautiful verses about Aolele and 



me. 



MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 

High as my heart! the quip be mine 
That -draws their stature to a line. 
My pair of fairies plump and dark. 
The dryads of my cattle park. 
Here by my window close I sit. 
And watch (and my heart laughs at it) 
17 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

How these my dragon-lilies are 
Alike and yet dissimilar. 
From European womankind 
They are divided and defined 
By the free limb and wider mind. 
The nobler gait, the little foot. 
The indiscreeter petticoat ; 
And show, by each endearing cause. 
More like what Eve in Eden was — 
Buxom and free, flowing and fine. 
In every limb, in every line. 
Inimitably feminine. 
Like ripe fruit on the espaliers 
Their sun-bepainted hue appears. 
And the white lace (when lace they wear) 
Shows on their golden breast more fair. 
So far the same they seem, and yet 
One apes the shrew, one the coquette— 
A sybil or a truant child 
One runs — with a crop halo — wild ; 
And one more sedulous to please. 
Her long dark hair, deep as her knees. 
And thrid with living silver, sees. 
i8 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

What need have I of wealth or fame, 
A club, an often-printed name ? 
It more contents my heart to know 
Them going simply to and fro ; 
To see the dear pair pause and pass 
Girded, among the drenching grass. 
In the resplendent sun, or hear. 
When the huge moon delays to appear. 
Their kindred voices sounding near 
In the veranda twilight. So 
Sound ever ; so, forever go 
And come upon your small brown feet. 
Twin honors to my country seat. 
And its too happy master lent : 
My solace and its ornament. 



THE DAUGHTER, TEUILA, HER NATIVE NAME THE 
DECORATOR. 

Man, child or woman, none from her 
The insatiable embellisher. 
Escapes! She leaves, where'er she goes, 
A wreath, a ribbon, or a rose ; 
19 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

A bow or else a button changed. 

Two hairs coquettishly deranged. 

Some vital triHe, takes the eye. 

And shows the adorner has been by. 

Is fortune more obdurate grown ? 

And does she leave my dear alone 

With none to adorn, none to caress ? 

Straight on her proper loveliness 

She broods and lingers, cuts and carves. 

With combs and brushes, rings and scarves ; 

The treasure of her hair she takes 

Therewith a new presentment makes. 

Babe, Goddess, Naiad of the grot. 

And weeps if any like it not ! 

Oft clustered by her bended knees 

(Smiling himself) the gazer sees. 

Compact as flowers in garden beds. 

The smiling faces and shaved heads 

Of the brown island babes : with whom 

She exults to decorate her room. 

To dress them, cheer them when they cry. 

And still to pet and prettify. 

Or see, as in a looking-glass. 



20 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Her graceful, dimpled person pass. 

Nought great therein but eyes and hair. 

On her true business here and there : 

Her huge, half-naked Staff, intent. 

See her review and regiment. 

An ant with elephants, and how 

A smiling mouth, a clouded brow. 

Satire and turmoil, quips and tears. 

She deals among her grenadiers ! 

Her pantry and her kitchen squad. 

Six-footers all, obey her nod. 

Incline to her their martial chests. 

With school-boy laughter hail her jests. 

And do her in her kilted dress 

Obsequious obeisances. 

So, dear, may you be never done 

Your pretty busy round to run. 

And show with changing frocks and scents. 

Your ever-varying lineaments : 

Your saucy step, your languid grace. 

Your sullen and your smiling face, 

Sound sense, true valor, baby fears. 

And bright unreasonable tears : 

21 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

The Hebe of our aging tribe : 

Matron and child, my friend and scribe. 



"Feb. 25th, 1893. 
" We are at sea on our way to Sydney. 
Louis took advantage of our stop at 
Auckland to call on Sir George Grey * to 

ask his advice on Samoan affairs. He 
described his visit when he came back 
to the ship. ... * He received me 
in the quietest, coolest manner, heard me 
with the most extraordinary patience, say- 
ing nothing. Again and again I felt 
ashamed — he still pressed me to go on. 
He said : " Let me give you a piece of 
advice from my own experience — pay no 
attention to attacks, go on doing what 
you are doing for the good of Samoa ; 
the time will come when it will be appre- 

* The veteran Ex-Governor and Ex-Premier of New Zealand. 

22 




Air. Ute'vcnibri in fSoj. 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

elated, and I am one of the few men who 
have Hved long enough to learn this." 
Then looking at me with his curious blue 
eyes and a kind of faint smile, " the worst 
of my anxiety is over," he said. " I 
thought you were an invalid. When I 
see the fire in your eye, and your life and 
energy, I feel no more anxiety about Sa- 
moa." I told him it was certainly time I 
put my hand to the plough, and nothing 
would make me leave but deportation. 
He nodded his head at me for quite a 
considerable time, like a convinced man- 
darin. " You may have thought you 
stopped at Samoa on a whim. You may 
think me old-fashioned, but I believe it 
was Providence. There is something 
over us ; and when I heard that a man 
with the romantic imagination of a novel- 
ist had settled down in one of those isl- 

25 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

ands, I said to myself, these races will be 
saved ! " At every turn of the conversa- 
tion it was the most singular thins to hear 
the old pro-consul allege parallel incidents 
from all parts of the world, and from any 
time in the last fifty years. He kept 
another guest waiting an hour and three- 
quarters ; when we were at last interrupted 
he bade me wait for him, and walked 
with me to the hotel door, arm in 
arm, like a very ancient school-boy with 
a younger boy, that was inexpressibly 
attaching.' 

" Louis was flattered by the interview 
and said so ; and I was amused to find 
that not a word had been said about his 
books. The old man took him altogether 
as a politician, and I was glad to hear that 
Louis had complimented the politician 

on his literary success. 

26 



VAILIMA TABLE'TALK 

" Aolele's description of Louis. * Some- 
times he looks like an old man of eighty 
with a wild eye, and then, at a moment's 
notice, he's a pretty brown boy.' Now, 
on this trip, he's the brown boy." 

"Sydney, March 3rd, 1893. 
" Last evening we went to a dinner 
given by Mr. and Mrs. at the Cos- 
mopolitan Club ; as it was a ' wonderful 
clear night of stars,' we walked home. 
We passed the Australia Hotel, just as a 
tall, soldierly man, middle-aged, I should 
think, and undoubtedly a gentleman, 
came staggering out and swayed up the 
street fearfully drunk. We stopped and 
looked after him, Aolele and I keeping 
the man in sight while Louis made inquir- 
ies at the hotel about him. I confess, I 

should have preferred going on our way, 

27 



MEMORIES OF VAIIJMA 

but I could not escape, with Madam Es- 
mond on one hand, and Don Ouixote on 
the other. Louis came out of the hotel 
very indignant ; he had found the attend- 
ants grinning; they said, however, they 
knew the gentleman, and were surprised 
to see him drinking. Louis ran ahead 
and overtook the man just as two fellows 
were lifting him to his feet after a fall. 
He grasped eagerly at Louis and seemed 
much relieved in his mind. * You're a 
gentleman,' he said, * you tell me what to 
do, and I'll do it. I'll do anything you 
say — you're a gentleman.' The two fel- 
lows, who had been helping him, moved 
off, but one turned back to say, ' You 
never know a gentleman till he's tried.' 
The drunken man went on to offer 
Louis fifty pounds, saying, * I'm bad, 

you're good,' in a most ridiculous way. 

28 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

* Cabby,' said he, ' do you know me ? * 
' O yes, sir,' said Cabby, ' you're Mr. 

of .' * Will you cash a fifty 

pound cheque for me ? ' ' Certainly, 
sir.' 'AH right,' said the man, 'I'll give 
you five pounds in the morning ! ' While 
he was still fumbling for his cheque- 
book, Louis motioned the cabman to 
drive off. 

" In the meantime a man came up to 
Aolele, who was standing a little way off, 
and stared hard at her. ' What is the 
matter with you ? ' she asked. ' I'm 
drunk, too,' said the man. 

" Both Louis and Aolele like to read 

trash, that is. If it is bad enough to be 

funny. My mother was tired and sent 

us out to buy some novels for her. As 

we went along the street we saw Louis's 

29 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

picture in many of the shop-windows, 
and people turned and looked after us in 
a way, Louis said, that made him feel very 
self-conscious. We went into a big shop 
and had picked out an armful of books. 
A young clerk came up to Louis with 
great respect and recognition in his eye. 

* What have you been getting, Mr. Ste- 
venson ? ' he asked. * We have all the 
best authors — Meredith, Barrie, Anstey 
— ' and then his countenance changed ; 
he cast a most reproachful, disappointed 
look at Louis as he read the titles of the 
chosen works — * The Sin of a Countess,' 

* Miriam, the Avenger,' ^ The Lady De- 
tective.' He retired and took no further 
interest in us. 

" As we went to get into a cab, we 
passed a strange-looking old boot-black, 
who called out * Stevenson ! ' as we passed. 

30 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

I looked back, but Louis hurried me into 
the cab, when the man cried out again 
* Louis Stevenson ! ' and then, much loud- 
er, *Mr. Louis Stevenson, I've read all 
your works.' 

" Louis is very fond of jewels, as any- 
one may see by his writings, and he in- 
dulges this passion as far as circumstances 
allow. 

" He has had three topaz rings made, 
for topaz is the stone of his birth month, 
November. Inside two of them are his 
initials, and these he has presented, with a 
memorial poem, to my mother and my- 
self On his own are engraved the first 
letters of our names. Sapphire is the 
stone of Lloyd's month, April ; so he has 
bought a set of sapphire studs to take 
back to Lloyd in Samoa." 

31 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

These rings, O my beloved pair, 
For me on your brown fingers wear : 
Each, a perpetual caress. 
To tell you of my tenderness. 

Let — when at morning as ye rise 
The golden topaz takes your eyes— 
To each her emblem whisper sure 
Love was awake an hour before. 

Ah yes ! an hour before ye woke 
Low to my heart my emblem spoke. 
And grave, as to renew an oath, 
// I have kissed and blessed you both. 
Sydney, N. S. W., March, 1893. 

" My mother was proposing one day to 
exchange consciences with Palema, who 
was quite ready for the bargain. Louis 
was watching the transaction with interest 
and suggested that the business might be 
developed, and that a trade journal might 

32 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

be started where consciences could be ad- 
vertised for sale or exchange. He himself, 
he added, might be very glad to avail him- 
self of such facilities, and wondered what 
his own conscience would look like in 
print. * Oh ! ' said Palema, Met me try.' 
' For Sale. A conscience, half-calf, slightly 
soiled, gilt-edged (or shall we say uncut ?), 
scarce and curious.' 

" At this there was a hearty laugh, led 
by Louis himself." 

**Vailima, April 12, 1893. 
" I asked Louis why painters, who live 
in much the same atmosphere as literary 
men, are less interesting and more nar- 
row-minded ; at least that had been my 
experience. He offered an explanation 
that sounded reasonable enough. The 
study of painting or music does not ex- 

33 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

pand the mind in any direction save one. 
Literature, with its study of human nature, 
events, and history, is a constant educa- 
tion, and in that career a man cannot 
stick at one place as the painter and musi- 
cian almost invariably does. He studies 
his one pin's point of a talent, enlarging 
that, perhaps, and deepening it, but in no 
other direction does his mind work. The 
bank clerk, whose daily life is spent in 
adding up figures, knows that his intel- 
ligence is cramped and is more apt to de- 
vote his leisure to study and improve- 
ment ; but the painter believes his work 
to be a culture, and thinks he needs no 
more. 

Our talk turned on Millet, to whom 
Louis takes off his hat. He made money 
for years doing ordinary popular work, and 
then, in spite of starvation and a large 

34 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

family, proceeded to paint what he thought 
was true art. 

" ' And yet,' 1 said, * if I were one of 
the large family, I might not think it so 
fine. A painter might sacrifice his family 
to his art ; would you ? Would you 
go on writing things like " Will o' the 
Mill " if we were all starving, and 
" Miriam, the Avenger," would save us? ' 

" Louis gave in. * You know well 
enough I would save my family if it car- 
ried me to the gallows' foot.' " 

" April 19th, 1893. 
" The mail has just come in and stopped 
all work for the day. It was brought 
up as usual on horse-back by Sosimo, in 
a big waterproof bag, and carried to Louis's 
room, followed by the family in great ex- 
citement. Louis always empties the mail- 

35 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

bag himself, and parcels out the letters 
while we all sit in an expectant semicircle 
on the floor. Woe betide the person who 
tries to snatch a letter from the pile ! We 
have to wait our turn as Louis throws 
them out ; he gives Austin all the picture 
papers to open, and as he looks over his 
own letters he gives me those from stran- 
gers and autograph-collectors ; I feel neg- 
lected if I don't get ten or twelve at least. 
" Some of these are very amusing. ' Sir, 
I think you are the greatest author living. 
Please send me a complete set of Samoan 
stamps.' * Mr. Stevenson, I have to 
trouble you for your autograph and that 
of your talented wife.' Others are beg- 
ging letters asking Louis to pay the 
travelling expenses of a gentleman who 
wishes to do missionary work in Samoa 
combined with raising chickens, or to ad- 

36 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

vance ten pounds in commercial enter- 
prise, for which he will receive as compen- 
sation one Angora goat ! Many of the 
letters, though, contain genuine expres- 
sions of admiration and thanks for the 
good his books have given. He always 
answers sincere letters, especially those 
from children or sick people. Some of 
these which he dictated to me are so help- 
ful, so inspiring, that I have dropped 
tears on the paper as I wrote. 

" Every mail brings him a number of 
books from young authors asking his 
opinion and advice. These he always 
reads, and, if possible, encourages the 
authors with a few words of commenda- 
tion. If they are hopelessly bad he writes 
nothing. 

" I have a very good system with the 
autograph hunters. On one set of cards 

37 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

Louis writes his name and the date ; on 
another set a sentiment such as 

' Smoking is a pernicious habit j' 
or an idle rhyme — 

* I know not it" I wish to please, 
I know not if I may, 
I only scribble at my ease. 
To pass a rainy day.' 



Or, 



' How jolly 'tis to sit and laugh 
In gay green-wood. 
And write the merry autograph 
For other people's good.' 



(C 



Louis calls these ' penny plain and 
tuppence colored.' The former I send 
in reply to the ordinary polite request, 
but those who take the trouble to enclose 
an addressed envelope and a Samoan 
stamp I reward with ' tuppence colored.' 

38 




Near the Upper Waterfall, Vaisinango Ri-ver. 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Letters that come spelling his name with a 
ph, or ' Step Henson ' as he calls it, are 
torn up in wrath. 

" Mail-day unsettled Louis for work, 
so we took a walk in the forest ; we 
wore no hats and went bare-footed under 
the big spreading trees in the cool shade. 
We sat on a stone by the upper water-fall 
and talked about a story we are both 
reading in Longman s Magazine^ called *A 
Gentleman of France.' Louis was so 
pleased with the opening chapters that he 
said he was going to write to Mr. Wey- 
man and congratulate him on his work." 

" April 20th, 1893. 

" I was pottering about my room this 

morning when Louis came in with the 

remark that he was a gibbering idiot. I 

have seen him in this mood before, when 

41 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

he pulls out hairpins, tangles up his moth- 
er's knitting, and interferes in whatever 
his women-kind are engaged upon. So I 
gave him employment in tidying a drawer 
all the morning — talking the wildest non- 
sense all the time, and he was babbling 
on when Sosimo came in to tell us lunch 
was ready ; his very reverential, respectful 
manner brought the Idiot Boy to his feet 
at once, and we all went off laughing to 
lunch. 

" This afternoon Louis was still too 
much of an Idiot Boy to write, and he 
walked about in such a restless way that 
it occurred to me to teach him to sew. 
He has done all sorts of things in these 
moods before, modelling little clay figures, 
making woodcuts and printing them, and 
even knitting. He has often told me of 

the beautiful necktie he knit with his own 

42 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

hands, but he got it so dirty in the course 
of construction that it was taken away from 
him and burnt. I cut out some saddle 
blankets and taught him to herring-bone 
them in red worsted. He learned the 
stitch at once and took an absorbing in- 
terest in it, the interest he puts into 
everything he does. He sat on the sofa 
by the window in his long blue and white 
Japanese kimono, his bare feet on the 
tiger rug, looking such a strange figure 
at his work. He made loops and then 
pulled the worsted through as though it 
was a rope. He suddenly remarked, * I 
don't seem to get that neat, hurried, 
bite-your-thread effect that women do so 
well.' He certainly did not. ' I think,' 
he added, soberly, * that my style is sort 
of heaveho and windlassy ! ' He walked 
out with Aolele to look at her garden, but 

43 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

hurried back and is now busily at work 
sewing. 

" Louis will never allow any jokes on 
the subject of ' wall-flowers ' or old maids. 
He reduced me to tears describing a young 
girl dressing herself in ball finery and sit- 
ting the evening out with smiles, while her 
breast was filled with the crushing sense 
of failure. He says he will never forgive 
Thackeray for the old age of Beatrix ; 
nor W. S. Gilbert for the humiliating per- 
sonage of Lady Jane. 

" We were talking island affairs one 
day, when Lloyd summed up the whole 
situation thus : * Samoan politics are like 
the mills of God — they always get to 
windward of you.' 

" Louis was telling of a narrow escape 
from being killed he once had when riding. 

44 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

" ' Why didn't you jump off your 
horse ? ' asked my mother. 

" ' Why, woman 1 I was ten miles from 
home.' 

" ' Well,' said she, * isn't it better to be 
ten miles from home than in heaven or 
hell ? ' " 

" April 30th, 1893. 

" IVill 0' the Mill made a great impres- 
sion upon Graham Balfour in his youth, 
and he declares that his character and life 
are moulded upon that story. Louis re- 
pudiated the tale altogether, and says that 
Will's sentiments upon life are 'cat's 
meat.' 

" Conversation at table : 

" Palema. It is the best thing on life 
that has been written this age. 

" Louis. Rather remarkable how little 
stock I take in it myself. 

45 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

^^ Palema. If you had stood by your 
words I would have gone down on my 
knees to you. But how did you come 
to write what you don't beHeve ? 

" Louis. Well, I was at that age when 
you begin to look about and wonder if 
you should live your life 

" Palema. To be or not to be ? 

^^ Louis. Exactly. Everything is tem- 
perament. Well, I did the other fellow's 
temperament — held a brief on the other 
side — to see how it looked. 

^^ Palema. Mighty well you did it too. 

" Louis. No doubt better than I should 
have done my own side ! " 

" May 28th, 1893. 
" Mr. Daplyn, a painter, and an old 
friend of Louis's, is visiting us ; we hold 
fierce and animated debates on all sorts of 

subjects. On Imagination in Art versus 

46 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Technical Skill — Moral Codes, and the 
Conduct of Life ; and this morning we 
debated whether it was unmanly for the 
sterner sex to weep. Palema scorned a 
man who wept, but was forced to admit 
that noble actions were touching — that the 
Indian Mutiny must not be spoken of, 
and barred out suffering children, Lloyd 
proclaimed loudly that he himself was an 
emotional man, * And,' he added, ' per- 
haps the lightest-hearted member of this 
family ! ' which was hailed with shouts of 
laughter, Louis said that he had wept in 
public and wept in private, had cried over 
stories and people, and would continue to 
do so to the end of the chapter, 

" Mr. Daplyn, the most scornful anti- 
weeper of the party, wound up with the 
remark, 'but I'm easily moved to tears 
myself! ' 

47 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

*' This afternoon we all congregated in 
Lloyd's study; there are not many chairs, 
so some of us lay at full length on the 
bear-skins. Louis paced up and down 
the room, and Palema drew up his six-feet- 
two against the wall. The talk was in- 
trospective. Everybody described himself 
and the workings of his own inner con- 
sciousness. Louis said : ' I can behave 
pretty well on the average, though I come 
to grief on occasions. I love fighting, but 
bitterly dislike people to be angry with 
me — the uncomfortable effect of fighting.' 
He said he was forgiving, but Aolele de- 
nied it and said, * Louis thinks he for- 
gives, but he only lays the bundle on the 
shelf and long after takes it down and 
quarrels with it.' * No ! ' protested Louis, 
^ it is on the shelf, I admit, and I would let 

it stay there. But if any one else pulled it 

48 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

down I would tear it with fury. In fact,' he 
went on, ' I am made up of contradictory el- 
ements, and have a clearing-house inside of 
me where I dishonor cheques of bitterness.' 

" Palema said of himself that he was a 
stoical epicurean. 

"'I,' cried Louis, ^ am a cynical epi- 
curean.' 

" * I,' continued Palema, ' am made up 
inside of water-tight compartments that 
nowhere join ! ' 

" I said there was a good deal of 
theatre in my inside, which led to a lively 
discussion on posing before the world. 
That to carry a brave front though your 
heart quaked was a pose ; to live up to 
your better nature was a pose ; and Louis 
made us all laugh by saying, earnestly, 
* In short, everybody who tries to do right 
is a hypocrite ! ' " 

49 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" May 3 1st, 1893. 

" I asked Louis, in the course of a con- 
versation this evening, how he defined the 
word literature. 

" ' It is capable of explanation, I think,' 
he said ; ' when you see words used to the 
best purpose — no waste, going tight around 
a subject. Also they must be true. My 
stories are not the truth, but I try to make 
my characters act as they would act in life. 
No detail is too small to study for truth. 
Lloyd and I spent five days weighing 
money and making calculations for the 
treasure found in " The Wrecker." ' 

" I asked him why Charles Reade was 
not a stylist, though his writing answered 
to the description. 

" ' You are right,' Louis said ; ' he is a 
good writer, and I take off my hat to him 
with respect. And yet it was in continuity 

50 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

that he failed. In the " Ebb Tide," that 
is now under way, we started on a high 
key, and oh, haven't we regretted it ! If 
I wanted to say " he kicked his leg and he 
winked his eye," it would be perfectly flat 
if I wrote it so. 1 must pile the colors 
on to bring it up to the key. Yet I am 
wrong to liken literature to painting. It 
is more like music — which is time ; paint- 
ing is space. In music you wind in and 
out, but always keep in the key ; that is, 
you carry the hearer to the end without 
letting him drop by the way. It winds 
around and keeps on. So must words 
wind around. Organized and packed in 
a mass, as it were, tight with words. Not 
too short — phrases rather — no word to 
spare. 

" * There are two kinds of style, the 
plastic, such as I have just described ; the 

51 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

other, the simple placing of words together 
for harmony. The words should come 
off the tongue like honey. I began so as 
a young man ; I had a pretty talent that 
way, I must confess.' 

" I asked him if he thought his present 
full, entertaining novels, crowded with 
people and adventure, an improvement 
upon his earlier honey-dropping essays. 
But he refused that. He could not, he 
said, criticise his own work or see it well 
enough. But in others, he had noticed 
that the writers who began with honey- 
sweetness often developed in later work a 
certain brusqueness and ruggedness. 

" ' Did they do it well ? ' I asked. 

" ' You bet they did ! ' said Louis. 
* Both Beethoven and Shakespeare are 
good examples of it, in their different arts. 
Shakespeare's earliest works were plain, 

5^ 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

dull, unimpassloned verse. Next came his 
first singing note — such as Romeo and 
Juliet; ah,' he quoted 

" My love is boundless as the sea." 

* The words are like music. Then a strange 
thing happened — surely some evil woman 
must have crossed his path and driven him 
to the hideous work of Troilus and Cres- 
sida ; and yet, but for its indecency and 
brutality, it might have been his greatest 
work. He took the plot from Chaucer, 
who had told it quietly and prettily, and 
made of it the horror it is. Then came 
his later works, full of strength, and 
broken with flashes so delicate he might 
have touched them with his tongue and 
passed on.' 

" I asked him if it were good for the 
young writer to wade in emotions. 

53 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" * Good God, no ! ' he said ; ' first make 
his words go sweet, and if he can't spend 
an afternoon turning a single phrase he'd 
better give up the profession of hterature.' 



<c 



a 

(C 



Louis is often charged with being se- 
cretive. He turned one day to his mother, 
who had been questioning him about some 
trifling matter, and took hold of her shawl. 

' Who gave it to you ? ' 

* I bought it.' 

* tVhere did you buy it ? ' 
^At Gray & Macfarlane's,' answered 

his mother. 

" * Why ? ' persisted Louis. 

" ' I don't know,' said Tamaitai Matua, 
laughing. 

" * Good Heavens, woman, why so se- 
cretive ? Why can't you answer a simple 
question ? Why put me off with a Gray & 

54 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Macfarlane ? ' It was all nonsense, but the 
phrase survived, and when Louis is asked 
where he is going he answers, ' To call on 
Gray & Macfarlane ! ' and when his mother 
begged to know from whom an important- 
looking letter had come, he said, in broad 
Scotch, ' From Gray, mem, with Macfar- 
lane's coompliments ! ' " 

"June 8th, 1893. 

" I have just come back from a week's 
visit at a native village down the coast. 
Louis says I look as brown as a ham. 
Aolele said ' I hope you are not tired ; 
you look pale — a pale black, I mean.' 

" When I came up to my room, after 
being so long away, I found it all deco- 
rated with flowers and streamers of cocoa- 
nut fibre, the work of my Samoan boy, 
Mitaele ; he had fastened a garland of 

57 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

hibiscus flowers on my beautiful ash 
wardrobe by means of tacks, but he 
meant well, and I hadn't the heart to re- 
prove him. On my writing-table a num- 
ber of Longman s was lying open, with the 
following verses in Louis's hand fastened 
to the page with a hair-pin : 

* Whether you come back glad or gay. 
Or come with streaming eyes and hair. 
Here is the gate of the golden way. 
Here is the cure for all your care ! 
And be your sorrows great or small. 
Here, breathe this quantum of romance. 
Be sure you will forget them all 
With this dear Gentleman of France ! ' " 

"June 30th, 1893. 

" We had a fright about my mother to- 
day. We were visiting the rebel out- 
posts, and in going through a government 
village Louis called out to us to ride fast. 

58 




Mitaele. 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

These people all know that we sym- 
pathize with the rebels, and it is perhaps 
a little foolhardy to go through their 
villages to visit our friends on the other 
side. Every house we passed was crowd- 
ed with men bearing rifles, I rode ahead 
with Louis, and when we looked back for 
Aolele, we were horrified to see her in 
the middle of the village, surrounded by 
armed men. Louis rode back in alarm 
and found that her horse had balked, 
and the amiable warriors had come to her 
assistance. 

" These Samoan fighting men look 
very terrible in their battle array with 
blackened faces and a long ' head-knife ' 
in their hands. But on close inspection 
their eyes are always kind and their smile 
sweet." 



6i 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" Aug. 23rd, 1893. 

" We had a trying but characteristic 
morning over Anne. We were sailing 
along on the eleventh chapter when a 
smart Samoan man appeared with a letter. 

It was from , full of politics and 

fury, and Louis sent for my mother to 
come and hear it read aloud. We dis- 
missed with scorn equal to his own 

and on to work. 

" ' Chapter twelve/ dictated Louis 
' Buccleton ' 

" * That's cheap,' I said. 

" ' What's the matter with it ? Isn't 
it good enough for you ? What do you 
want ? ' 

" ' Well,' I said, ' I want " The Dying 
Uncle " or " the Nephew's Fortune." ' 

" Louis jeered, but compromised on 
* My Uncle,' and we were off again. 



62 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Suddenly Aolele burst in. A man had 
cut his leg with a cane-knife, and I must 
get perchloride of iron and bandages. 

" I did that all right, started Sosimo at 
work on Palema's room with a warning 
not to wash his tan shoes in the river; 
saw that the calf was watered ; set the 
girls to making wreaths for the dinner- 
party to-night, and returned breathless to 
Anne^ when we worked on serenely until 
interrupted by the first bell for lunch." 

"Nov. 3d, 1893. 
" Louis has been writing autographs 
for me ; this is to put in the fly-leaf of 
* Memories and Portraits : ' 

Much of my soul is here interred. 
My very past and mind: 
Who listens nearly to the printed w^ord 
May hear the heart behind. 
63 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" Louis Palema and I were walking in 
the forest to-day and were very thirsty. 
We looked up at some cocoanut trees 
and Louis said: 

" ' If we were natives it would be an 
easy matter to climb that tree. It is filled 
with young nuts full of milk.' 

" * I wish I had some to drink,' I said, 
longingly. 

" ' Wouldn't it be aggravating,' said 
Louis, * to die of thirst under a cocoanut 
tree because you hadn't the knack of 
climbing ! ' 

*I wouldn't die of thirst,' said Palema. 

* What would you do ?' asked Louis. 

* I'd die of rage,' he said." 



cc 
n 



*'Nov. 20th, 1893. 

" All our Samoan ' boys ' went to the 
great missionary meeting, wearing the 

64 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Vailima uniform of white shirts, red 
and white blazers, and the Stuart tartan 
lava-lava. (Note.— A garment worn in 
the manner of a kilt.) According to 
their own accounts they were much ad- 
mired. Murmurs on all sides were heard 
about the fine appearance and good looks 
of * Tama o le Ona,' or, as Louis puts it, 
'the McRichies.'" 

" Dec. loth, 1893. 
" Louis's birthday is the thirteenth of 
Nov., but he was not well, so we post- 
poned festivities to the twenty-first. It 
was purely native, as usual. We had six- 
teen pigs- roasted whole underground, 
three enormous fish (small whales, Lloyd 
called them), 400 pounds of salt beef, ditto 
of pork, 200 heads of taro, great bunches 
of bananas, native delicacies done up in 

65 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

bundles of// leaves, 800 pineapples, many 
weighing fifteen pounds, all from Lloyd's 
patch, oranges, tinned salmon, sugar-cane, 
and ship's biscuit in proportion. Among 
the presents to Tusitala, besides flowers 
and wreaths, were fans, native baskets, rolls 
of tapa^ ava bowls, cocoanut cups beauti- 
fully polished, and a talking-man's staff; 
and one pretty girl from Tanugamanono 
appeared in a fine mat (the diamonds and 
plate of Samoa), which she wore over her 
simple tapa kilt, and laid at Tusitala's feet 
when she departed. Seumanu, the high 
chief of Apia, presented Louis with the 
title of ' Au-mai-taua-i-manu-vao.' " 

" Dec. 27th. 

" Christmas - eve we devoted to our 
Samoans ; we had forty, counting the 
children, and not one of them, old or 
young, had ever seen a Christmas - tree 

66 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

before. Lloyd distributed the gifts (they 

had all come out from the Army and Navy 

Stores in London), and made appropriate 

speeches in Samoan." 

"Feb. 6th, 1894. 

" Louis and I spent a long and busy day 

over Hermiston ; * we've been working at 

it, already, several days. Captain Wurm- 

brandt, an Austrian cavalry officer, and 

Mr. Buckland, known on his own island 

as Tin Jack (the original of Tommy Had- 

don in ' The Wrecker '), are staying with 

us. The Captain's stories are of the camp, 

and Tin Jack's are of love and the Islands. 

The two are excellent company for the 

rainy season." 

" Feb. I 2th, 1894. 

" I have been reading a paper by Miss 

Dickens about her father, and found a par- 

* " Weir of Hermiston," the last story on which Mr. Steven- 
son worked, and his best. 

67 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

ticular instance in which Louis resembles 
him. They both love dancing, but could 
neither of them waltz. Both were excel- 
lent in the polka, and Louis is quite 
capable of getting out of bed at night, 
like Dickens, to practise a new step. But 
my hero has gone a step beyond the illus- 
trious novelist. He began theorizing — as 
he does about everything under the sun — 
on the subject of dance time. He could 
never keep step to threes, he said ; it 
was unnatural. The origin of all count- 
ing is the beating of the heart, and how 
could you make one — two — three out of 
that? 

" * How about triple time in music?' 
I said, * you play it all right on your 
flageolet ! ' 

" * I understand that,' he said, * it 
counts three between every heart-beat.' 

68 







^ 



■3 

if 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

" ' Then waltz to triple time,' I said, 
and he did at once beautifully. 

" The mention of Dickens reminds me of 
a story that Louis is very fond of telling, of 
an old Frenchman in Samoa, who, the 
first time he saw Louis, struck an attitude, 
and exclaimed, ' Ah ! quelle ressemblance ! ' 
Then approaching him, ' How like ! How 
like — Monsieur Charles Dickens. Did no 
one ever tell you that before ? ' And Louis 
was compelled to confess that certainly 
nobody ever had." 

" Feb. 13th, 1894. 

" We danced this evening after dinner 
in the big hall. Mamma sat on the table 
and turned the hurdy-gurdy, and Louis 
waltzed to triple time. He can also dance 
the Highland schottische, which he does 
with much earnestness. We had great fun 
teaching it to Captain Wurmbrandt, who, 

71 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

being an Austrian, is of course a beautiful 
dancer. Tin Jack (Tin means Mr. in 
his island) looked handsome and thought- 
ful as he skimmed about the room in the 
most beautiful imitation of a waltz, but 
without a step to bless himself with. I 
did not realize how good Tommy Had- 
don was till I read it over again in * The 
Wrecker,' after meeting Tin Jack. He is 
quite as handsome as Louis describes him, 
and has a trusting, earnest look. He 
asked, * What kind of dances do they 
have here, round and square ? ' I an- 
swered, in some irritation, ' No, three- 
cornered.' * Gracious ! ' he exclaimed, 
with interest, * what kind of a dance is 
that ? ' 



cc 



He is paying his addresses to a young 
lady here, and Louis wrote the following 

72 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

valentine which I illuminated in gold on 
white satin : 

" * The isle-man to the lady — I, 

Whose rugged custom it has been 
To sleep beneath a tropic sky 

And bivouac in a savage scene. 
Ah ! since at last I saw you near. 

How shall I then return again ? 
Alone in the void hemisphere 

How shall my heart endure the pain ? ' '* 

♦'March loth, 1894. 

" To-day is my mother's birthday, and 
she says the best of her presents is the 
piece of paper she found pinned on her 
mosquito-netting in the morning. It was 
signed R. L. S., and addressed ' To the 
Stormy Petrel.' 

" Ever perilous 
And precious, like an ember from the fire 
Or gem from a volcano, we to-day, 
73 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

When drums of war reverberate in the land 
And every face is for the battle blacked — 
No less the skv, that over sodden woods 
Menaces now in the disconsolate calm 
The hurly-burly of the hurricane — 
Do now most fitly celebrate your day. 

Yet amid turmoil, keep for me, my dear. 
The kind domestic faggot. Let the hearth 
Shine ever as (I praise my honest gods) 
In peace and tempest it has ever shone." 

" March 17th. 

" Yesterday and to-day we wrote stead- 
ily at AnnCy while war news and ru- 
mors flew thick and fast around us. The 

Captain brought us word that the s 

were barricading their house with mat- 
tresses, and many natives are taking their 
valuable mats to the Mission for safety. 
We are on the very outposts, and if the 
Atuans did attack Apia they would have 
to pass Vailima. Our woods are full of 

74 



yf\ . 



"'''"^rP^ 



.m. 



^r^ 



w 



4% ■ . 



'.Sll... 










^ '^^^il^^' ' ■'*' 






.1, ■^..-'f^^.^i? 



ij' 



^m;]'^^ 






/ 




^ ^dr Prfryi. 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

scouting parties, and we are occasionally 
interrupted by the beating of drums as a 
war-party crosses our lawn. But nothing 
stops the cheerful flow of Anne. I put 
in the remark, between sentences, ' Louis, 
have we a pistol or gun in the house that 
will shoot ? ' to which he cheerfully an- 
swers, ' No, but we have friends on both 
sides,' and on we go with the dictation." 

"June 4th, 1894. 

'■' This evening, as Austin and I were 
swinging in the hammock, we heard a call 
from Aolele : * Big guns ! ' We ran out 
on the veranda; over toward Atua, where 
the rebels are, we heard the booming of 
cannon from the men-of-war, and we 
watched the exchange of signals with the 
ships in port by means of rockets and 
search-lights. There has been fighting in 

77 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

Aana and a number of wounded men were 
brought into the Mission. Dr. Hoskyn, 
of the Curacoa^ is doing noble work a- 
mong them ; the natives simply worship 
him. " 

** June 30th. 
" Louis has just returned from a trip 
on board H. M. S. Curacoa to the 
neighboring island of Manu'a. It is 
really a part of the Samoan group, but 
when the Berlin treaty was made between 
the three great Powers they forgot 
Manu'a, and now the little island is inde- 
pendent and at peace, reigned over by a 
young half-cast girl of eighteen. When 
commissioners and tax-collectors went over 
to Manu'a, the young queen gave them to 
understand that her island was her own, 
and they had no business there, though 
otherwise they were treated with Samoan 

78 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

hospitality. It is a very interesting place, 
and Louis had a great deal to tell us 
about his trip, but 1 think he enjoyed the 
man-of-war itself the most. He says he 
has gained enough experience to write a 
sea-story ; he has stored up technical 
terms from the officers, and ship slang 
from the midshipmen. He was invited 
to afternoon tea with the warrant officers, 
had early morning cocoa with Mr. Bur- 
ney, one of the midshipmen, and was re- 
proved by the captain for crossing the 
batten on the poop which marks off the 
post of the officer on duty. In his daily 
tub he was so careful not to splash the 
water that- the severe orderly, a marine, 
didn't believe he had taken a bath at all, 
looking so suspiciously at Louis that he 
declares he felt like apologizing. 

" * Lay out a clean shirt, Abbott,' he 

79 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

said one evening, as he was dressing for 
dinner. 

" ' This is Saturday, Mr. Stevenson,' 
said the orderly. 'The one you have 
will do well enough. I will lay out a 
clean one to-morrow ! ' 

" Sosimo never smiled all the time 
Louis was away ; he was the first to sight 
the man-of-war steaming into the harbor, 
and was on the beach holding Jack by the 
bridle before the Curacoa had come to 
anchor, Louis rode home, leaving Sosimo 
to go on board and bring up his valise. 

" Long ago Louis had a topaz stud 
that was somewhat difficult to put into his 
shirt, so he gave it to me. I laid it away 
in my trinket box and was dismayed, 
when I first wanted to wear it, to find it 
gone. Sosimo had missed the stud, dis- 
covered it in my box, and carried it back 

80 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

to Louis's room. I kept up the fight for 
some time, trying to secrete it from Sosimo 
by putting it in out-of-the-way places, but 
it was invariably found in Louis's room, 
no matter where I had hidden it. 

" When he came up from the ship he 
put Louis's valise down on the veranda 
and carefully abstracted from his mouth 
the precious stud he had carried there for 
safety. I gave up, then, and it is now 
Louis's own. 

" We miss Louis so terribly, even for a 
few days, that now we all rejoice to be to- 
gether again. There are just seven of us : 
Aunt Maggie and her son Louis, Aolele 
and her son Lloyd, myself and my son 
Austin, and Palema, as the natives call 
Louis's cousin, Graham Balfour. 

" Our furniture has come all the way 
from Scotland : thirty-seven cases, some 

8i 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

of them fifteen feet square, weighing in all 
seventy-two tons. The boxes were brought 
up on the bullock-carts of the German 
firm by scores of Solomon Island black- 
boys, in a most exciting and noisy pro- 
cession. 

" Mr. Moore, chaplain of H. M. S. 
Cura(oay came up in his spotless white 
clothes to help us unpack, returning to his 
ship in the evening the picture of a chim- 
ney sweep — or, as Louis said, * black but 

1 > " 
comely. 

"July 9th. 

" We have been very gay. Lloyd, 

Louis, and I went to the officers' ball on 

the 3d, and on the 4th, two Curavoa 

marines appeared on the veranda. ' Me 

and my messmates,' one of them said, 

* invites Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, Mrs. 

Strong, Mr. Osbourne and Mr. Balfour 

82 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

to a sailors' ball in the same 'all as last 
night, not forgetting young Goskin.' We 
accepted with pleasure, and I went, es- 
corted by Louis and Austin. The ball 
was a great success ; everybody was there. 
Louis said, as he looked on at officers and 
sailors dancing in the same set, harmony 
and good-fellowship on all sides, ' The Cu- 
ragoa revives my faith in human nature ! ' 
" The next day, Louis, Lloyd, and I 
rode in the German flower parade or 
Blumen-Corso, as they called it ; last 
night we had a dinner-party of twenty, 
the first time since the boxes were opened, 
and displayed all our silver and glass with 
dazzling effect. The big hall lights up 
beautifully at night, and the pictures, and 
busts, and old furniture, change the whole 
aspect of the room. Our guests included 
Count and Countess Rudolf Festetics, of 

85 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

the yacht 'Tolna^ now in port, the captain 
of the EngHsh man-of-war (the German 
captains were asked but were away cruis- 
ing) and President Schmidt. Louis was 
in splendid health and spirits, and though 
work has been neglected, nobody cares. 

" An English midshipman who is spend- 
ing a week with us, told me that though 
he had known and liked Mr. Stevenson 
all this time, it was only the other day, 
when he was roaming about the library, 
looking at the books, that it came over 
him all of a heap — * he's the josser that 
wrote 'Treasure Island.' " 

'♦July 22d, I 894. 

" On Sunday evening, as Austin went 
to bed, I sat with him as usual for a little 
talk. He told me a good deal about the 
Mission at Monterey where he had been 
at school and the services of the Catholic 

86 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

church. ' Protestants,' he said, ' don't seem 
to care for you when you're dead, but the 
CathoHcs — ' and he gave a long descrip- 
tion of the funeral ceremonies, ending up 
with 'and eight pall-berries by your coffin ! ' 

" I told them all when I came down. 
' What a pretty funeral,' said Louis, * to 
be decorated with pall-berries ! ' 

" ' That is,' said Palema, ' if it is in the 
pall-berry season.' 

" ' In the islands,' said Lloyd, * I sup- 
pose they would have tinned pall-berries ! ' 

" * Imagine ! ' said Palema, * if you were 
too early in the season, and the pall-berries 
were green. Unripe pall-berries ! ' 

" ' Or too late,' said Louis ; * fancy if 
the pall-berries were rotten ! ' 

" We were talking about some cham- 
pagne we had drunk at a friend's house. 

87 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

^^Palema. And such stuff! Such 
Sticky, sweet, treacly 

" Louis. After all, there are only three 
kinds of champagne — sweet, dry, and 
gooseberry. 

" Teuila. The kind we had was goose- 
berry. 

" Palema. It was worse ; it was old 
gooseberry. 

" Louis. We used to get some vile stuff 
at 's, in London. 

" Palema. Restaurant champagne ? 

"Louis. Infinitely worse ! God knows 
who could have made it — the manufacture 
must have been a secret. 

" Palema. A secret that died with the 
man who drank it ! 

" I came into Louis's room to find him 
and Sosimo very busy, clearing up and 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

sorting papers. * Did you tell Sosimo to 
do this ? ' 1 asked. ' No,' said Louis, 
with his arms full of books, ' he told 
me I ' 

" The other day the cook was away, and 
Louis, who was busy writing, took his 
meals in his room. Knowing there was 
no one to cook his lunch, he told Sosimo 
to bring him some bread and cheese. To 
his surprise he was served with an excel- 
lent meal — an omelette, a good salad, and 
perfect coffee. 

" * Who cooked this ? ' asked Louis, in 
Samoan. 

" ' I did,-' said Sosimo. 

" * Well,' said Louis, ' great is your 
wisdom.' 

" Sosimo bowed and corrected him — 

* Great is my love ! ' " 

89 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

"Aug. 5th, 1894. 

" Now that the Curacoa is here, Louis 

only works in the forenoon. Later in the 

day some one is sure to be seen toiling up 

the road by what they call * the Curacoa 

track,' and shortly before they reach the 

turnstile exchange pleasantries with the 

upper veranda, where Louis is reading, 

playing piquet with Palema, or giving 

Austin a French lesson. If the visitor 

happens to be either of the two Scotch 

midshipmen. Lord Kelburn or Mr. 

Meiklejohn, then the greetings on both 

sides are in a most excruciating Edinburgh 

or Glasgow accent. The other day we 

had a most Interesting conversation with 

the first lieutenant, Mr. Eeles, who is 

Louis's particular chum on board, and the 

Lieutenant of Marines, Mr. Worthington. 

" Our talk turned upon the Islands ; 

90 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Lieutenant Eeles told us of a visit he 
made to some far-off island of the South- 
western Pacific ; the natives showed him a 
place where the ' turtle men ' were buried. 
They called them that, they said, because, 
though they were white men, their breasts 
and backs were hard like turtles. He was 
not much interested, having heard any 
number of island yarns and legends. It 
was only after he left the place, and the 
ship was on its way to Fiji, that suddenly 
waking from sleep, he sat up with the 
thought, like a revelation, ' the turtle men 
were white soldiers in armor ! ' 

" Lloyd told of an island a friend of ours 
had visited' that had been bombarded by a 
man-of-war ; one bomb, left behind in the 
sand, had not exploded. Afterwards some 
natives found it, and began hammering it, 
when it exploded, killing a number of 

91 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

them. Since then the natives warn stran- 
gers to be careful of the stones, as they 
are dangerous and liable to blow up. 

" Louis is never tired of hearing the 
Soldier (as we call Mr. Worthington), 
who has introduced us to Chevalier's 
songs. So we wound up the evening 
with * Liza ' and the Vicar's song from 
* The Sorcerer,' Louis joining in the 
chorus at the top of his voice." 

*' Aug. 27th. 

" We have worked at Anne all these 
mornings when the guns were firing on 
Atua, stopping once in a while to specu- 
late on what damage they might be doing. 
We can get no news, but will hear all 
about it when the Curacoa comes back. 
They hate to bombard a miserable little 
native stronghold and kill a handful of 

innocent people, but they have to obey 

92 




The Road of the Lo-ving Heart. 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

orders ; in the meantime, we plod along 
at Anne^ while groups of natives stand 
silently and anxiously on the veranda, 
looking toward Lotuanuu listening to the 
booming of the guns. 

" To-day we were in the middle of the 
chapter about the claret-colored chaise, 
when we were interrupted by the arrival 
of eight chiefs. They proved to be the 
liberated political prisoners that we had 
been interested in for so long, whose free- 
dom from jail they owe to Louis. Louis 
entertained them in the smoking-room ; 
we all sat on the floor in a semicircle and 
had ava made. Their speeches were very 
beautiful, and full of genuine gratitude as 
they went back over the history of every 
kindness that Louis had done for them. 
In proof of their gratitude they offered 
to make a road, sixty feet wide, connecting 

95 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

us with the highway across the island. 
The offer touched and surprised Louis 
very much, and though he tried to refuse, 
they overruled every objection. He said 
if they made the road he would like to 
name it * The Road of the Grateful 
Hearts,* but they said no, it would be 
called * The Road of the Loving Heart,' 
in the singular, and they asked me to copy 
out a paper they had written with that 
name, and all their titles attached, to be 
painted on a board and put up at the 
cross-roads." 

** Sept. 24th, 1894. 
" Louis and I have been writing, work- 
ing away every morning like steam-engines 
on Hermiston. Louis got a set-back with 
Anne, and he has put it aside for awhile. 
He worried terribly over it, but could 

not make it run smoothly. He read it 

96 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

aloud one evening and Lloyd criticised 
the love-scene, so Louis threw the whole 
thing over for a time. Fortunately he 
picked up Hermiston all right, and is in 
better spirits at once. He has always 
been wonderfully clear and sustained in 
his dictation, but he generally made notes 
in the earlv morning, which he elaborated 
as he read them aloud. In Hermiston 
he had hardly more than a line or two of 
notes to keep him on the track, but he 
never falters for a word, giving me the 
sentences, with capital letters and all the 
stops, as clearly and steadily as though he 
were reading from an unseen book. He 
walks up and down the room as I write, 
and his voice is so beautiful and the story 
so interesting that I forget to rest ; when 
we are interrupted by the lunch-bell, I 
am sometimes quite cramped, and Louis 

97 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

thumps me on the back in imitation of a 
Samoan lomi-Iomi (massage) and apologizes. 
The story is all the more thrilling as he 
says he has taken me for young Kirsty. 

" We had such an interesting time to- 
day, looking over old fashion-books for 
the heroine's clothes. Her dress is gray, 
to which I suggested the addition of a 
pink kerchief; this afternoon Louis came 
into my room to announce that in her 
evening walk Kirsty would wear pink silk 
stockings to match her kerchief; he said 
he could use the incident very artfully to 
develop her character. ' Belle,' he said, 
* I see it all so clearly ! The story unfolds 
itself before me to the least detail — there 
is nothing left in doubt. I never felt so 
before in anything I ever wrote. It will 
be my best work ; I feel myself so sure in 

every word ! ' " 

98 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

" Nov. 30th. 



C( 



A few days ago three sailors of 
H. M. S. Wallaroo came up and asked 
for a drink of water. We gave them seats 
on the veranda and offered them some cool 
beer after their long, hot walk. When 
Louis came down to talk to them he was 
not long in discovering that they were all 
three Scotch ; they had made for Vailima, 
' like homing pigeons,' on their first day 
of leave. When they were going away I 
gave them an opportunity to return by 
asking for a pattern of a sailor jacket. 

" Yesterday we were sitting on the little 
front veranda by Louis's work-room, peg- 
ging away at Hermision like one o'clock. 
I hardly drew breath, but flew over the 
paper ; Louis thinks it is good himself, 
so we were in a very cheerful humor ; 
we heard a babble of voices at the gate 

99 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

and recognized our sailors. Louis gave 
up with the utmost good-nature, and 
came down to talk with them. It was 
Thanksgiving Day, and preparations were 
going on for a dinner party, with all 
American dishes. Aolele was experiment- 
ing with some Samoan berries, with a view 
to cranberry sauce ; the kitchen depart- 
ment was in great excitement over that 
foreign bird, the turkey. I overhauled 
the silver, Lloyd was concocting cocktails 
to stow away on the ice, and the village 
girls, who scent festivities from afar, and 
always appear smiling and ready to help, 
were filling the jars and vases, and dress- 
ing the table in flowers ; all this made a 
great confusion, but Louis kept his sailors 
on all the afternoon. 

" He took them over the house and 
showed them the busts and statues, the 

lOO 







<3 



:§ 



&<j 



2 



VAILIMA TABLE-TALK 

Burmah gods, the curiosities from the 
islands, the big picture of Skerry vore light- 
house, built by his grandfather on the coast 
of Scotland ; the treasured bit of Gordon's 
handwriting, from Khartoum, in Arabic 
letters on a cigarette paper, framed, for 
safety, between two pieces of glass ; and 
the library, where the Scotchmen gathered 
about an old edition of Burns, with a por- 
trait. Louis gave a volume of Under- 
woods, with an inscription, to Grant, the 
one who hailed from Edinburgh, and the 
man carried it carefully wrapped in his 
handkerchief. As they went away, waving 
their sailor hats and keeping step, Louis 
leaned over the railing of the veranda and 
said, looking after them with a smile, 
* How I love a blue-jacket ! What a pity 
we can't invite them to our dinner to-night ; 

they would be so entertaining ! ' " 

103 




The Inscription. 



MR. STEVENSON'S HOME 
LIFE AT VAILIMA 




f\rr,:' 




y^m 



'^^l 



f'lillonjhm f^aie't. 



MR. STEVENSON'S HOME 
LIFE AT VAILIMA 

THREE miles behind Apia, on a 
rising plateau that stands some 
seven hundred feet above the 
ocean level, lie the house and grounds of 
Vailima. " I have chosen the land to be 
my land, the people to be my people, to 
live and die with," said Mr. Stevenson, in 
his speech to the Samoan chiefs, and his 
great lonely house beneath Vaea Moun- 
tain, the fruit of so much love, thought, 
and patient labor, will never lose the 
world's interest, nor fail to be a spot of 
pious pilgrimage, so long as his books 
endure and his exile be unforgotten. For 

Stevenson was an exile ; he knew he 

107 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

would never see his native land again 
when the Ludgate Hill carried him down 
the Thames ; he knew he had turned his 
back forever on the old world, which 
had come to mean no more to him than 
shattered health, shattered hopes, a life 
of gray invalidism, tragic to recall. What- 
ever the future held in store for him, he 
knew it could be no worse than what he 
was leaving, that living death of the sick- 
room the horror of which he never dared 
put to paper. I can remember the few 
minutes allowed him each day in the open 
air when the thin sunshine of South Eng- 
land permitted; his despairing face, the 
bitterness of the soul too big for words 
when this little liberty was perforce re- 
fused him. I recall him saying : " I do 
not ask for health, but I will go any- 
where, live anywhere I can enjoy the or- 

io8 




t m<Mi 
















S.M 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

dinary existence of a human being." I 
used to remind him of that when at 
times his Samoan exile lay heavy upon 
him, and his eyes turned longingly to 
home and to those friends he would never 
see again. 

I will say nothing of the voyaging, of 
the long, dim winter in the Adirondacks, 
of the various chain of events that carried 
him into the southern seas and a new life. 
His health began to return at once ; at the 
end of the second cruise in the schooner 
Equator^ he even dared to think of return- 
ing home, and went to the length of en- 
gaging cabins in the mail steamer. But 
even the mild and pleasant climate of New 
South Wales, so like that of Italy or 
southern California, proved too harsh for 
his new-born strength, and a severe illness 

overwhelmed him on the eve of his depart- 
in 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

ure. The vessel sailed without him, and 
he was no sooner able to walk than he re- 
turned to the islands in the private trading 
steamer of one of his friends. He grew 
well immediately, and began to recognize 
the hopelessness of quitting the only spot 
that offered him a degree of health ; and 
when the cruise was done and the vessel 
paid off in Sydney, he returned to Samoa 
in order to make it his home. 

When we first saw Vailima it was 
covered with unbroken forest ; not the 
forest of the temperate zone with varied 
glades and open spaces, but the thick 
tangle of the tropics, dense, dark, and 
cool in even the hottest day. The mur- 
mur of streams and waterfalls fell some- 
times upon our ears as we wandered in 
the deep shade, and mingled with the 
cooing of wild doves and the mysterious, 

112 




5-. 






HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

echoing sound of a native woodpecker 
at work. Our Chinaman, who was with 
us on this first survey, busied himself 
with taking samples of the soil, and grew 
almost incoherent with the richness of 
what he called the " dirty." We, for our 
part, were no less delighted with what 
we saw, and could realize, as we forced 
our way through the thickets and skirted 
the deep ravines, what a noble labor lay 
before our axes, what exquisite views and 
glorious gardens could be carved out of 
the broken mountain-side and the sullen 
forest. 

The land was bought, a half square 
mile of forest-clad plateau, ravine, and 
mountain, and the blind blacksmith who 
sold the property generously threw in a 
herd of cattle, very precisely estimated 
at forty in number, which from that day 

115 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

to this, has never been seen by the eye 
of man. Years passed in health-resorts 
and crowded cities made Mr. Steven- 
son greedy of land-owning when the op- 
portunity came to him ; he was determined 
that no row of villas in the uncertain future 
should mar his vistas of the sea nor press 
their back gardens into his plantation. 
In this, it must be confessed, he saw far 
ahead, for poor, distracted, war-worn 
Samoa has not encouraged the villa-resi- 
dent as yet, and the primeval forest still 
stretches from Vailima across the island to 
the shores beyond. 

A rough shanty was built, a pony 
bought, a German in decayed circum- 
stances engaged as cook, and Mr. Steven- 
son took up his quarters in the first 
clearing and began pioneer life with an 
undaunted heart. For months he lived 

Ii6 




: _^.-'^r>h^^' 



Air. ^UTcr.son a;: J Ills liicnd lunr.dic AiuJ-jno. 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

in a most distracting fashion, and threw 
himself with ardor into the work of felling, 
clearing, and opening up his acres to cul- 
tivation. Gangs of Samoans were busy 
the whole day long, and the rough, over- 
grown path from town flattened beneath 
the tread of naked feet. Planks and 
scantling lined it for upwards of a mile, 
representing the various stages of his in- 
dustry and the various misfortunes that 
had overtaken the noble savage in his 
labors. The little leisure of the planter 
was spent in studying the language, in 
teaching his overseer English decimals 
and history after the harassing hours of 
the day, and in acquainting himself first 
hand with the amazing inconsistencies that 
make up the Samoan character. 

The new house was built ; I arrived 

from England with the furniture, the 

119 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

library, and other effects of our old home ; 
the phase of hard work and short com- 
mons passed gradually away, and a form 
of hollow comfort dawned upon us. I 
say hollow comfort, for though we began 
to accumulate cows, horses, and the general 
apparatus of civilized life, the question of 
service became a vex«ing one. An expen- 
sive German cooked our meals and quar- 
relled with the white housemaid ; the 
white overseer said that " manual labor 
was the one thing that never agreed with 
him," and that it was an unwholesome 
thing for a man to be roused in the 
early morning, " for one ought to wake 
up natural - like." The white carter 
" couldn't bear with niggers," and though 
he did his work well and faithfully, he 
helped to demoralize the place and add 
to our difficulties. Everything was at 



E20 




^ 

^ 



t^ 



6^ 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

sixes and sevens, when, on the occasion of 
Mrs. Stevenson's going to Fiji for a few 
months' rest, my sister and I took charge 
of affairs. The expensive German was 
bidden to depart ; Mr. Stevenson dis- 
charged the carter ; the white overseer 
(who was tied to us by contract) was 
bought off with cold coin, to sleep out his 
" natural sleep " under a kindlier star and 
to engage himself (presumably) in intel- 
lectual labors elsewhere. With the de- 
parture of our tyrants we began again 
to raise our diminished heads ; my sister 
and I threw ourselves into the kitchen, 
and took up the labor of cooking with 
zeal and determination ; the domestic 
boundaries proved too narrow for our 
new-found energies, and we overflowed 
into the province of entertainment, with 

decorated menus, silver-plate and finger- 

123 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

bowls ! Our friends were pressed to 
lunch with us, to commend our inde- 
pendence and — to eat our biscuits. It 
was a French Revolution in miniature ; 
we danced the carmignole in the kitchen 
and were prepared to conquer the Samoan 
social world. One morning, before the 
ardor and zest of it all had time to be 
dulled by custom, I happened to discover 
a young and very handsome Samoan on 
our back veranda. He was a dandified 
youngster, with a red flower behind his 
ear and his hair limed in the latest fashion. 
I Uked his open face and his unembarrassed 
manner, and inquired what propitious fate 
had brought him to sit upon our ice-chest 
and radiate good nature on our back porch. 
It seemed that Simele, the overseer, owed 
him two Chile dollars, and that he was 

here, bland, friendly, but insistent, to col- 

124 




Talolo. 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

lect the debt in person. That Simele 
would not be back for hours in no way 
disturbed him, and he seemed prepared to 
swing his brown legs and show his white 
teeth for a whole eternity. 

" Chief," I said, a sudden thought 
striking me, " you are he that I have 
been looking for so long. You are go- 
ing to stay in Vailima and be our cook ! " 

" But I don't know how to cook," he 
replied. 

" That is no matter," I said. " Two 
months ago I was as you ; to-day I am a 
splendid cook. ! will teach you my 
skill." 

"But I don't want to learn," he said, 
and brought back the conversation to 
Chile dollars. 

" There is no good making excuses," 

I said. " This is a psychological mo- 

127 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

ment in the history of VaiHma. You are 
the Man of Destiny." 

" But I haven't my box," he expostu- 

» 

lated. 

" I will send for it," I returned. " I 
would not lose you for twenty boxes. If 
you need clothes, why there stands my 
own chest ; flowers grow in profusion 
and the oil-bottle rests never empty be- 
side my humble bed; and in the hot 
hours of the afternoon there is the beau- 
tifullest pool where you can bathe and 
wash your lovely hair. Moreover, so 
generous are the regulations of Tusitala's 
government that his children receive 
weekly large sums of money, and they 
are allowed on Sundays to call their 
friends to this elegant house and entertain 
them with salt beef and biscuit." 

Thus was Taalolo introduced into the 

128 




^^I'^H^^ 




m 



^ 




^ 



ifi 



■3- 



A 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

Vailima kitchen, never to leave it for 
four years save when the war-drum called 
him to the front with a six-shooter and a 
" death-tooth " — the Samoan cutlass or 
head-knife. He became in time not only 
an admirable chef^ but the nucleus of 
the whole native establishment and the 
loyalest of all our Samoan family. His 
coming was the turning-point in the his- 
tory of the house ; we had achieved inde- 
pendence of our white masters, and their 
discontented white faces had disappeared 
one by one. Honest brown ones now 
took their places, and we gained more 
than good servants by the change. 

Samoans live in a loose, patriarchal 
fashion. With them, as with most bar- 
barians, the family is everything, and the 
immediate head of it the unit of the coun- 
try. Moreover, the easy system of adop- 

131 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

tion that prevails throughout, and the 
bounty of Nature that makes food-getting 
more of a pastime than a labor, allows 
the Samoan to pass from one family to 
another almost at will. There is a single 
word in the dictionary that contains a 
world of meaning — a man that works hard 
for a short time and then grows lazy 
— " as applied to a stranger entering a 
new family." 

Naturally it came to pass in Vailima 
that a new family was started, with Mr. 
Stevenson for its house-chief, and the 
tradition of devotion and service trans- 
ferred bodily from Samoan life into our 
own. None knew better than Mr. Ste- 
venson how to foster and encourage this 
innovation, and our family soon began to 
acquire a status in the land. The Stuart 

tartan kilt, our uniform on Sundays and 

132 




^ 






HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

other holidays, became a thing of pride 
to the wearer and the badge of his high 
connection, and the mamalu or prestige of 
VaiHma was to be supported and upheld 
by every son of the house. Truth suf- 
fered occasionally at the hands of the 
more zealous, and I can trace many mis- 
statements and exaggerations that have 
crept into print to the misguided though 
laudable ardor of our clansmen. A friend 
aptly described Vailima as " an Irish cas- 
tle of 1820 minus the dirt." It must be 
remembered that the better class of Sa- 
moans are gentlefolk, and are undistin- 
guishable, so far as good manners, good 
breeding and tact are concerned, from the 
people we ordinarily mix with in our own 
country. No Spaniard is more punctil- 
ious in matters of etiquette, no German 
prouder of his long pedigree, than these 

135 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

handsome and stalwart barbarians ; and 
their language is even enriched by a whole 
vocabulary of courtesy with which every 
chief must be familiar. In fact, the rude- 
ness, boorishness, and pretentiousness of 
many whites is often sharply criticised and 
condemned. 

In number the Vailima family varied 
from thirteen to twenty-one, a picked lot 
of young men that for physique, good 
manners, obedience, and manliness it 
would be hard to match in any country. 
It m\ist be said that Mr. Stevenson's 
methods of disciplir.e had much to do 
with this favorable result. Unquestioning 
and absolute obedience was insisted upon ; 
an order once given was seldom altered or 
modified, and the singular and unforeseen 
partiality of Samoans (apparently the most 

casual of mankind) for svstem, for an or- 

136 




A Samoan Chief. 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

dered and regulated existence, for a har- 
ness of daily routine, was taken advantage 
of to the fullest degree. Every man had 
his work outlined for him in advance, and 
several even possessed type-written lists 
of their various duties. Little proclama- 
tions and notices were often posted up in 
order to correct petty irregularities, and to 
define the responsibility and authority of 
each member of the household. For 
breaches of discipline, untruthfulness, ab- 
sence without leave, etc., money fines were 
imposed with rigorous impartiality, and 
for more serious offences a regular court 
martial was held. No one was ever fined 
without his first assenting to the justice of 
the punishment, and the culprit was always 
given the option of receiving his money 
in full and being dismissed the place. A 
leaf, too, was taken with advantage from 

139 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

the old Naval Regulations, and no man 
was ever punished the same day of the 
offence. The fines themselves went into 
the coffers of the rival missionary soci- 
eties, Protestant or Roman Catholic, ac- 
cording to the creed of the involuntary 
donon A lecture often fell to the lot of 
the wrong-doer that he relished even less 
than the penalty of his offence, and the 
summing up of an important suenga or 
trial was always listened to in breathless 
silence by the members of the household. 
It ran usually to something of this sort: 

" Fiaali'i, you have confessed that you 
stole the cooked pigs, the taro, the palusa- 
mis, the breadfruit, and fish that fell to 
Vaihma's portion at yesterday's feast. 
Your wish to eat was greater than your 
wish to be a gentleman. You have shown 

a bad heart and your sin is a great one, 

140 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

not alone for the pigs which count as 
naught, but because you have been false 
to your family. Even a German black- 
boy that knows not God and whom you 
despise, would not have done what you 
have done. It is easy to say that you are 
sorry, that you wish you were dead : but 
that is no answer. We have lost far more 
than a few dozen baskets of food ; we 
have lost our trust in you, which used to 
be so great, our confidence in your loyalty 
and high-chiefness. See how many bad 
things have resulted from your sin ! First, 
you have told many lies and have tried to 
screen your wickedness by a trick, say- 
ing that five baskets vsas all the feast ap- 
portioned to us, thus bringing shame on 
the gentleman who gave it. Secondly, 
you persuaded Ti'a, Tulafono, and Satu- 

paiala to join in your conspiracy, which 

141 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

they did not wish to do at first, they 
being like Eve in the garden and you the 
serpent. You have hurt all our hearts 
here, not because of the pigs, but because 
we are ashamed and mortified befiare the 
world. If this thing gets spoken of and 
carried from house to house, we shall be 
ashamed to walk along the road, for peo- 
ple will mock at us, and the name of 
Vailima will not be fragrant. Then if it 
reaches the ears of the great chiefs that 
treated us so handsomely, are we to say : 
' Be not angry, gentlemen, four of our 
family are thieves ; their respect and love 
for me is great, but their wish to eat pig 
is greater still ! ' There are great sins 
that are easily forgiven : there are others 
that are hard to pardon. It is better to 
obey a strong and angry heart than to 

obey the belly, / am not your father ; / 

142 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

am not your chief. The belly is your 
chief! But God has not given all my 
family bad hearts. Look at Leupolu. 
He was not like Ti'a, Tulafono, and Sa- 
tupaiala ; he was a brave man, though he 
was only one and you so many. He 
said you were doing a wicked thing ; he 
would not surrender his burden of food, 
nor did the fear of ghosts prevent him 
coming home in the dark. For if a man 
is brave in uprightness he is brave in all 
other ways. But Leupolu loved his fam- 
ily more than his belly, and when he 
came home he did not make a great cry, 
nor did he tell the story of your wicked- 
ness. He went about with a sad face and 
said nothing, for he was like myself, an- 
gry but sorrowful. He will be rewarded 
for his love with a new kilt and suitable 
jacket. Ti'a, Tulafono, and Satupaiala 

143 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

are each fined two dollars. Fiaali'l, you 
are fined thirty dollars to be paid in week- 
ly instalments. When the whole thirty- 
six dollars is ready it will be handed you, 
and you will make us a great feast here 
in Vailima by way of atonement, and for 
every pig stolen there shall be two pigs, 
and for every taro, two taro, and so on 
and more also. You shall be the host, but 
you shall call none of your friends to the 
feast, nor Ti'a, Tulafono, nor Satupaiala, 
but the others shall invite their friends. 
Then you will be forgiven and this thing 
forgotten. We live only by the high-chief- 
will of God, nor must we be cruel to one 
another when the High-Chief-Son of God 
is so good to us all. One word must 
still be said. Let the story of this wicked 
business be buried in your hearts, lest 

strangers talk of it. Fiaali'i and the others 

144 




A Samoan Matai, or Head of a Family. 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

have been tried and punished, and their 
penalties must not be increased by mock- 
ery or reproaches. Think of your own 
sins and hold your peace. This trial is 
finished. Sosimo, Mitaele, and Pulu will 
make 'ava for us all, and it will be called 
on the front veranda." 

But Mr. Stevenson was not only the 
judge in the household, the meter out of 
punishments and rewards ; he was the 
real matai or head of the family, and was 
always ready, no matter how busy he 
might be, or how much immersed in liter- 
ary work, to turn a friendly ear to the 
plaints of his people. He was consulted 
on every imaginable subject, and all man- 
ner of petty persecutions and petty injus- 
tices were put right by his strong arm. 
Government chiefs and rebels consulted 
him with regard to policy ; political letters 

147 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

were brought to him to read and criticise ; 
his native following was so widely divided 
in party that he was often kept better in- 
formed on current events than any one 
person in the country. Old gentlemen 
would arrive in stately procession with 
squealing pigs for the " chief-house of 
wisdom," and would beg advice on the 
capitation-tax or some such subject of the 
hour ; an armed party would come from 
across the island with gifts, and a request 
that Tusitala would take charge of the 
funds of the village and in time buy the 
roof-iron for a proposed church. Parties 
would come to hear the latest news of the 
proposed disarming of the country, or to 
arrange a private audience with one of the 
officials ; and poor, war-worn chieftains, 
whose only anxiety was to join the win- 
ning side, and who wished to consult with 

14S 




A Vhito" 



HOxME LIFE AT \ AILIMA 

Tusitala as to which that might be. Mr. 
Stevenson would sigh sometimes as he saw 
these stately folk crossing the lawn in 
single file, their attendants following be- 
hind with presents and baskets, but he 
never foiled to meet or hear them. 

It has often been asked what gave Mr. 
Stevenson his standing in Samoa ; what it 
was that made this English man of letters 
such a power in the land of his adoption. 
It must be remembered that to the Sa- 
moan mind he was inordinately rich, and 
many of them believe in the bottom of 
their hearts that the story of the bottle- 
imp was no fiction, but a tangible fact. 
Mr. Stevenson was a resident, a consider- 
able land-owner, a man like themselves, 
with taro-swamps, banana plantations, and 
a Samoan ainga or family. He was no 
official with a hired house, here to-day 

151 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

with specious good-will on his lips, and 
empty promises, but off to-morrow in the 
mail steamer to that vague region called 
" papalagi " or " the white country." He 
knew Samoan etiquette, and was familiar 
with the baser as well as the better side 
of the native character ; he was cautiously 
generous after the fashion of the country, 
and neither excited covetousness by undue 
prodigality nor failed to respond in a be- 
fitting way for favors received. More- 
over, he was a consistent partisan of 
Mataafa, the ill-fated rebel king, a man 
of high and noble character, who though 
beaten and crushed by the government 
forces was nevertheless looked up to and 
covertly admired by all Samoa. The di- 
vinity that doth hedge a king, even a de- 
feated and fallen one, cast a glamour over 
his close friend, Mr. Stevenson. And 

152 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

when the British man-of-war brought the 
unfortunate ex-king to Apia with many 
of his chiefs, it was Mr. Stevenson that 
first boarded the ship with sympathy and 
assistance; it was Mr. Stevenson that 
Hghted the great ovens and brought down 
his men weighted with food-baskets when 
all were afraid and stood aloof; it was Mr. 
Stevenson that attended to the political 
prisoners in the noisome jail after they 
had been flogged through the streets and 
foully mishandled under the very guns of 
the men-of-war ; it was Mr. Stevenson that 
brought and paid the doctor, that had the 
stinking prison cleansed, that fed the 
starving wretches from his own pocket un- 
til the officials were shamed and terrified 
into action. These things made a deep 
impression at the time, and will never be 
altogether forgotten. No wonder the gov- 

153 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

ernment chiefs said to one another : " Be- 
hold, this is indeed a friend ; would our 
white officials have done the same had the 
day gone against us ? " And the expres- 
sion, " Once Tusitala's friend, always Tu- 
sitala's friend," went about the countryside 
Uke a proverb. 

Mr. Stevenson's relations with the mis- 
sionary bodies, the two Protestant and the 
Roman Catholic, were particularly happy. 
He stood high in the esteem of all three, 
for though a candid critic, he was in keen 
sympathy with their work and their way 
of doing it, and was ever outspoken in his 
admiration of their high-mindedness, un- 
sectarianism, and honest endeavor to im- 
prove the people. His friendship and 
regard was no less generously returned ; 
and they opened their hearts to him, freely 
and frankly, on many a delicate matter 

154 



HOME LIFE AT \ AILIMA 

undivulged to the general world ; for to- 
gether they stood on the common ground 
of regard for Samoa and devotion to its 
welfare. Would that I could say the 
same of our officials, or characterize Mr. 
Stevenson's relations with the most of 
them in the same strain ; but it must be 
confessed that to them he was the bete 
noir of the country, or a better simile, the 
Samoan Jove, whose thunderbolts carried 
consternation far and wide. In vain they 
attempted to deport him from the island, 
to close his mouth by regulation, to post 
spies about his house and involve him in 
the illicit importation of arms and fixed 
ammunition. The natives looked on in 
wonder, and when the officials vanished 
and the undaunted Tusitala remained be- 
hind, they drew their own conclusions. 
But of the many causes that went to 

155 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

make Mr. Stevenson a considerable figure 
in his adopted country, his own personality 
after all was the chiefest. If his ardent, 
sympathetic individuality shines so con- 
vincingly through the text of his books 
that it makes friends of those who but 
dimly understand his work, how much 
more was it the case in far Samoa, where 
no printed page intervened between the 
man and his fellows, where his voice 
reached first hand and swayed — not liter- 
ary coteries in the heart of civilization, but 
war-scarred chiefs with guns in their hands 
and wrongs to right. He would have 
been loved and followed anywhere, but 
how much more in poor, misgoverned, 
distracted Samoa, so remote, so inarticu- 
late ; for he was one of the Great-hearts 
of this world both in pen and deed, and 

many were those he helped. 

156 




s 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

The current of life ran very placidly in 
Vailima, in spite of the little agitations 
and bitternesses of the tiny world at our 
feet. The conch-shell awakened the 
household at daybreak, and the routine of 
existence went forward unchanged, for all 
that the cannon might boom from the 
men-of-war, and the mellow trumpets 
proclaim the march of armed men. At 
times a war-party would halt at our front 
veranda, discuss a bowl of'ava with the 
head of the house, and melt picturesquely 
away again in the forest, with perhaps a 
feu de joie In honor of their host — a com- 
pliment that he would gladly have dis- 
pensed with. Meals were served in the 
great hall of Vailima, a noble room over 
fifty feet long and proportionately broad, 
of which Mr. Stevenson was pardonably 
proud. At half past two the clapping of 

159 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

hands announced that 'ava was prepared 
— that peculiar beverage of the South 
Pacific — and when everyone was assembled 
it was called and distributed in the Samoan 
manner, Mr. Stevenson receiving the first 
cup according to the dictates of etiquette. 
There were usually visitors in the house, 
and the cool of the noon often brought 
callers from the " beach," officers from the 
men-of-war, missionaries, officials, blue- 
jackets, local residents, priests. Mormon 
elders, passing tourists — all the flotsam 
and jetsam, in fact, of a petty port lying 
on one of the great thoroughfares of the 
world. It is hard for an outsider to real- 
ize the life and animation there is in Samoa. 
The American conjures up a picture of a 
frontier post ; the Englishman harks to 
Kipling and station life in India; and both 
are wrong. Samoa is very cosmopolitan 

i5o 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

for all its insignificance on the map and its 
white population of four hundred souls ; 
balls, picnics, parties, are of common oc- 
currence ; there is a constant flow of news, 
rumor, and Island gossip ; and four steam- 
ers a month link the group to the outside 
world and bring an endless procession of 
strange faces across our little stage. 

Mr. Stevenson was fond of amusement 
and hospitality, and apart from a constant 
succession of more formal luncheon parties 
and dinners, there was always room at his 
table for the unexpected guests that the 
chef had orders to bear in mind. The 
first cotillon ever given in Samoa took 
place at Vailima ; the first pony paper- 
chase was got up under Mr. Stevenson's 
direction ; he was always eager to bear his 
part in any scheme for the public enter- 
tainment, and his support and subscription 

I6i 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

could always be reckoned on in advance. 
Nor was he less backward with regard to 
the natives, whom he often feasted in the 
Samoan way with great pomp and a 
rigorous regard to etiquette and custom. 
His birthday party was a veritable gather- 
ing of the clans, beginning at dawn and 
continuing uninterruptedly till dusk, with 
a huge feast and troops of dancers to enter- 
tain the people. A Christmas-tree rejoiced 
the household every year, and was the 
occasion of breathless anticipation and 
excitement; and the little fiesta was not 
unenhanced by the good-humored raillery 
with which the presents were distributed. 

Mr. Stevenson could not be seen to 
better advantage than at the head of his 
faultless table, sharing and leading the 
conversation of the guests that various 

strange fates had brought together beneath 

162 




K.. \A 



HOME LIFE AT VAILIMA 

his roof. He loved the contrast of even- 
ing dress and the half-naked attendants ; 
the rough track that led the visitor through 
forest and jungle to this glowing house 
under Vaea, the juxtaposition of original 
Hogarths, Piranes's, pictures by Sargent, 
Lemon and Will H. Low ; the sculptured 
work of Rodin and Augustus St. Gaudens, 
with rifle-racks, revolvers and trophies of 
savage weapons. And the conversation 
that was to match: English literature and 
copra ; Paul Bourget's new book and the 
rebel loss at Tifitifi ; European politics 
and the best methods of suppressing head- 
taking ! 

When he 'was detained in town at night, 
or by some mischance was late of returning 
to Vailima, it was his command that the 
house should be lit throughout so that he 
might see it shining through the forest on 

165 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

his home-coming. As I must now be 
drawing to an end, where better could I 
stop than at this picture — the tired man 
drawing rein in " The Road of the Loving 
Heart," and gazing up at the hghts of 
home? 



i66 



POLA 



POLA 

" "W" F you want a child as badly as all 
I that," my brother said, " why not 
adopt a chief's son, someone who is 
handsome and well-born, and will be a 
credit to you, instead of crying your eyes 
out over a little common brat who is an 
ungrateful cub, and ugly into the bar- 
gam I 

I wasn't particularly fond of the " com- 
mon brat," but I had grown used to tend- 
ing him, bandaging his miserable little foot 
and trying to make his lot easier to bear, 
and he had been spirited away. One may 
live long in Samoa without understanding 
the whys and wherefores. His mother 

may have been jealous of my care of the 

169 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

child and carried him away in the night ; 
or the clan to which he belonged may 
have sent for him, though his reputed 
father was our assistant cook. At any 
rate, he had gone — disappeared as com- 
pletely and entirely as though he had 
vanished into thin air, and I, sitting on 
the steps of the veranda, gave way to tears. 

Two days later, hastening across the 
court-yard, I turned the corner sud- 
denly, nearly falling over a small Samoan 
boy, who stood erect in a gallant pose be- 
fore the house, leaning upon a long stick 
of sugar-cane, as though it were a spear. 

" Who are you ? " I asked, in the na- 
tive language. 

" I am your son," was the surprising 
reply. 

" And what is your name ? " 

" Pola," he said. " Pola, of Tanuga- 

170 




Pola. 



POLA 

manono, and my mother is the white chief 
lady, Teuila of VaiHma." 

He was a beautiful creature, of an even 
tint of light bronze brown ; his slender 
body reflected the polish of scented cocoa- 
nut oil, the tiny garment he called his 
lava lava^ fastened at the waist, was 
coquettishly kilted above one knee. He 
wore a necklace of scarlet berries across 
his shoulders, and a bright red hibiscus 
flower stuck behind his ear. On his cheek 
a single rose-leaf hid the dimple. His 
large black eyes looked up at me with an 
expression of terror, overcome by pure 
physical courage. From the top of his 
curly head to the soles of his high-arched 
slender foot he looked tamaalii — high- 
bred. To all my inquiries he answered in 
purest high-chief Samoan that he was my 
son. 

173 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

My brother came to the rescue with 
explanations. Taking pity on me, he had 
gone to our village (as we called Tanuga- 
manono) and adopted the chief's second 
son in my name, and here he was come to 
present himself in person. 

I shook hands with him, a ceremony he 
performed very gracefully with great dig- 
nity. Then he offered me the six feet of 
sugar-cane, with the remark that it was a 
small, trifling gift, unworthy of my high- 
chief notice. I accepted it with a show 
of great joy and appreciation, though by 
a turn of the head one could see acres of 
sugar-cane growing on the other side of 
the river. 

There was an element of embarrass- 
ment in the possession of this charming 
creature. I could not speak the Samoan 
language very well at that time, ^nd saw, 

174 



POLA 

by his vague but polite smile, that much 
of my conversation was incomprehensible 
to him. His language to me was so ex- 
tremely " high-chief" that I could not 
understand more than three words in a 
sentence. What made the situation still 
more poignant was that look of repressed 
fear glinting in the depths of his velvety 
eyes. 

I took him by the hand (that trembled 
slightly in mine, though he walked boldly 
along with me) and led him about the 
house, thinking the sight of all the won- 
ders of Vailima might divert his mind. 
When I threw open the door of the hall, 
with its pictures and statues, waxed floor 
and glitter of silver on the sideboard, Pola 
made the regulation quotation from Script- 
ure, '* And behold the half has not been 
told me." 

175 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

He went quite close to the tiger-skin, 
with the glass eyes and big teeth. " It is 
not living ? " he asked, and when I assured 
him it was dead he remarked that it was a 
large pussy, and then added, gravely, that 
he supposed the forests of London were 
filled with these animals. 

He held my hand quite tightly going 
up the stairs, and I realized then that he 
could never have mounted a staircase be- 
fore. Indeed, everything in the house, 
even chairs and tables, books and pictures, 
were new and strange to this little savage 
gentleman. 

I took him to my room, where I had a 

number of letters to write. He sat on the 

floor at my feet very obediently while I 

went on with my work. Looking down a 

few minutes later I saw that he had fallen 

asleep, lying on a white rug in a childish, 

176 



POLA 

graceful attitude, and I realized again his 
wild beauty and charm. 

Late in the day, as it began to grow 
dark, I asked Pola if he did not wish to 
go home. 

" No, Teuila," he answered, bravely. 

" But you will be my boy just the same," 
I explained. " Only you see Tumau (his 
real mother) will be lonely at first. So 
you can sleep at the village and come and 
see me during the day." 

His eyes lit up with that and the first 
smile of the day overspread his face, show- 
ing the whitest teeth imaginable. 

It was not long before he was perfectly 
at home in -Vailima. He would arrive in 
the morning early, attended by a serving- 
man of his family who walked meekly in 
the young chief's footsteps, carrying the 

usual gift for me. Sometimes it was 

177 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

sugar-cane, or a wreath woven by the 
village girls, or a single fish wrapped in 
a piece of banana-leaf, or a few fresh 
water prawns, or even a bunch of way- 
side flowers ; my little son seldom came 
empty-handed. 

It was Pola who really taught me the 
Samoan language. Ordinarily the natives 
cannot simplify their remarks for foreign- 
ers, but Pola invented a sort of Samoan 
baby-talk for me; sometimes, if I could not 
understand, he would shake me with his 
fierce little brown hands, crying " Stupid, 
stupid ! " But generally he was extremely 
patient, trying a sentence in half a dozen 
different ways, with his bright eyes fixed 
eagerly on my face ; when the sense of 
what he said dawned upon me and I re- 
peated it to prove that I understood, his 

own countenance would light up with an 

178 




^ 



POLA 

expression of absolute pride and triumph. 
" Good ! " he would say, approvingly. 
" Great is your high-chief wisdom ! " 

Once we spent a happy afternoon to- 
gether in the forest picking up queer land 
shells, bright berries and curious flowers, 
while Pola dug up a number of plants by 
the roots. I asked him the next day what 
he had done with the beautiful red flowers. 
His reply was beyond me, so I shook my 
head. He looked at me anxiously for a 
moment with the worried expression that 
so often crossed his face in conversation 
with me, and patting the floor scraped up 
an imaginary hole. " They sit down in 
the dusty," he said in baby Samoan. 
"Where?" I asked. "In front of 
Tumau." And then I understood that 
he had planted them in the ground before 

his mother's house. 

i8i 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

Another time he came up all laughter 
and excitement to tell of an adventure. 

" Your brother," he said, " the high- 
chief Loia, he of the four eyes (eye- 
glasses), came riding by the village as I 
was walking up to Vailima. He offered 
me a ride on his horse and gave me 
his chief-hand. I put my foot on the 
stirrup, and just as I jumped the horse 
shied, and, as I had hold of the high- 
chief Loia, we both fell off into the road 
pa/asi." 

"Yes," I said, "you both fell off. 
That was very funny." 

'^'■Palasi ! " he reiterated. 

But here I looked doubtful. Pola re- 
peated his word several times as though 
the very sound ought to convey some idea 
to my bemuddled brain, and then a bright 

idea struck him. I heard his bare feet 

182 



POLA 

pattering swiftly down the stairs. He 
came flying back, still laughing, and laid 
the dictionary in my lap. I hastily 
turned the leaves, Pola questing in each 
one like an excited little dog, till I found 
the definition of his word, " to fall squash 
like a ripe fruit on the ground." 

" Palasi I " he cried, triumphantly, when 
he saw I understood, making a gesture 
downward with both hands the while 
laughing heartily. " We both fell off 
palasi I " 

It was through Pola that I learned all 
the news of Tanugamanono. He would 
curl up on the floor at my feet as I sat in 
my room sewing, and pour forth an end- 
less stream of village gossip. How Mata, 
the native parson, had whipped his daugh- 
ter for going to a picnic on Sunday and 
drinking a glass of beer. 

183 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" Her father went whack ! whack ! " 
Pola illustrated the scene with gusto, 
" and Maua cried, ah ! ah ! But the vil- 
lage says Mata is right, for we must not 
let the white man's evil come near us." 

"Evil?" I said; "what evil?" 

" Drink," said Pola, solemnly. 

Then he told how " the ladies of 
Tanugamanono " bought a pig of a 
trader, each contributing a dollar until 
forty dollars were collected. There was 
to be a grand feast among the ladies on 
account of the choosing of a maid or 
taupOy the young girl who represents the 
village on all state occasions. When the 
pig came it turned out to be an old boar, 
so tough and rank it could not be eaten. 
The ladies were much ashamed before 
their guests, and asked the white man for 

another pig, but he only laughed at them. 

184 



POLA 

He had their money, so he did not 
care. 

" That was very, very bad of him," I 
exclaimed, indignantly. 

"It is the way of white people," said 
Pola, philosophically. 

It was through my little chief that we 
learned of a bit of fine hospitality. It 
seems that pigs were scarce in the village, 
so each house-chief pledged himself to 
refrain from killing one of them for six 
months. Anyone breaking this rule agreed 
to give over his house to be looted by the 
village. 

Pola came up rather late one morning, 
and told me, hilariously, of the fun they 
had had looting Tupuola's house. 

" But Tupuola is a friend of ours," I 
said. " I don't like to hear of all his be- 
longings being scattered." 

187 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" It is all right," Pola exclaimed. " Tu- 
puola said to the village, ^ Come and loot. 
I have broken the law and I will pay the 
forfeit.' " 

" How did he break the law ? " I asked. 

" When the high-chief Loia, your 
brother of the four eyes, stopped the 
night at Tanugamanono, on his way to 
the shark fishing, he stayed with Tupuola, 
so of course it was chiefly to kill a pig in 
his honor." 

" But it was against the law. My 
brother wKDuld not have liked it, and Tu- 
puola must have felt badly to know his 
house was to be looted." 

" He would have felt worse," said Pola, 
" to have acted unchiefly to a friend." 

We never would have known of the 

famine in Tanugamanono if it had not 

been for Pola. The hurricane had blown 

i83 



POLA 

off all the young nuts from the cocoanut- 
palms and the fruit from the breadfruit- 
trees, while the taro was not yet ripe. We 
passed the village daily. The chief was 
my brother's dear friend, the girls often 
came up to decorate the place for a dinner- 
party, but we had no hint of any distress 
in the village. 

One morning I gave Pola two large 
ship's biscuits from the pantry. 

" Be not angry," said Pola. " But I 
prefer to carry these home." 

" Eat them," 1 said, " and I will give 
you more." 

Before leaving; that night he came to 
remind me of this. I was swinging in a 
hammock reading a novel when Pola 
came to kiss my hand and bid me good- 
night. 

" Low," I said, " talofar 

189 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

^^ Soifudy^ Pola replied, "may you 
sleep ; " and then he added, " Be not 
angry, but the ship's biscuits " 

" Are you hungry ? " I asked. " Didn't 
you have your dinner ? " 

" Oh, yes, plenty of pea-soupo " (a gen- 
eral name for anything in tins) ; " but you 
said, in your high-chief kindness, that if I 
ate the two biscuits you would give me 
more to take home." 

" And you ate them ? " 

He hesitated a perceptible moment, and 
then said : 

" Yes, I ate them." 

He looked so glowing and sweet, lean- 
ing forward to beg a favor, that I sud- 
denly pulled him to me by his bare, brown 
shoulders for a kiss. He fell against the 
hammock and two ship's biscuits slipped 

from under his lava lava, 

190 



POLA 



i< 



Oh, Pola ! " I cried, reproachfully. 
It cut me to the heart that he should lie 
to me. 

He picked them up in silence, repress- 
ing the tears that stood in his eyes and 
turned to go. I felt there was something 
strange in this. 

" I will give you two more biscuits," I 
said, quietly, " if you will explain why you 
told a wicked lie and pained the heart that 
loved you." 

" Teuila," he cried, anxiously, " I love 

you. I would not pain your heart for all 

the world. But they are starving in the 

village. My father, the chief, divides the 

food, so that each child and old person 

and all shall share alike, and to-day there 

was only green baked bananas, two for 

each, and to-night when I return there 

will be again a division of one for each 

191 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

member of the village. It seems hard 
that I should come here and eat and eat, 
and my brother and my two little sisters, 
and the good Tumau also, should have 
only one banana. So I thought I would 
say to you ' behold I have eaten the two 
biscuits ' and then you would give me two 
more and that would be enough for one 
each to my two sisters and Tumau and 
my brother, who is older than I." 

That night my brother went down to 
the village and interviewed the chief. It 
was all true, as Pola had said, only they 
had been too proud to mention it. Mr. 
Stevenson sent bags of rice and kegs of 
beef to the village, and gave them per- 
mission to dig for edible roots in our for- 
est, so they were able to tide over until 
the taro and yams were ripe. 

Pola always spoke of Vailima as " our 

192 



POLA 

place," and Mr. Stevenson as " my chief." 
I had given him a pony that exactly 
matched his own skin. A missionary, 
meeting him in the forest road as he was 
galloping along like a young centaur, 
asked, " Who are you ? " 

" I," answered Pola, reining in with a 
gallant air, " am one of the Vailima men ! " 

He proved, however, that he consid- 
ered himself a true Samoan by a conver- 
sation we had together once when we were 
walking down to Apia. We passed a 
new house where a number of half-caste 
carpenters were briskly at work. 

" See how clever these men are, Pola," 
I said, " building the white man's house. 
When you get older perhaps 1 will have 
you taught carpentering, that you may 
build houses and make money." 

" Me? " asked Pola, surprised. 

193 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

" Yes," I replied. " Don't you think 
that would be a good idea ? " 

" I am the son of a chief," said Pola. 

" I know," I said, " that your highness 
is a very great personage, but all the same 
it is good to know how to make money. 
Wouldn't you like to be a carpenter ? " 

" No," said Pola, scornfully, adding, 
with a wave of his arm that took in acres 
of breadfruit-trees, banana groves, and taro 
patches, " Why should I work ? All this 
land belongs to me." 

Once, when Pola had been particularly 
adorable, I told him, in a burst of affection, 
that he could have anything in the world 
he wanted, only begging him to name it. 

He smiled, looked thoughtful for an 

Instant, and then answered, promptly, that 

of all things in the world he would like 

ear-rings, like those the sailors wear. 

194 



POLA 

I bought him a pair the next time I 
went to town. Then, armed with a cork 
and a needleful of white silk, I called Pola,, 
and asked if he wanted the ear-rings badly 
enough to endure the necessary operation. 

He smiled and walked up to me. 

" Now, this is going to hurt, Pola," I 
said. 

He stood perfectly straight when I 
pushed the needle through his ear and cut 
off the little piece of silk. I looked anx- 
iously in his face as he turned his head for 
me to pierce the other one. I was so 
nervous that my hands trembled. 

" Are you sure it does not hurt, Pola, 
my pigeon ? " I asked, and I have never 
forgotten his answer. 

" My father is a soldier," he said. 

Pola's dress was a simple garment, a 
square of white muslin hemmed by his 

195 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

adopted mother. Like all Samoans, he 
was naturally very clean, going with the 
rest of the " Vailima men " to swim in 
the pool twice a day. He would wash 
his hair in the juice of wild oranges, clean 
his teeth with the inside husk of the co- 
coanut, and, putting on a fresh lava lava^ 
would wash out the discarded one in the 
river, laying it out in the sunshine to dry. 
He was always decorated with flowers in 
some way — a necklace of jessamine buds, 
pointed red peppers, or the scarlet fruit 
of the pandanas. Little white boys look 
naked without their clothes, but Pola in a 
strip of muslin, with his wreath of flowers, 
or sea-shells, some ferns twisted about 
one ankle, perhaps, or a boar's tusk fas- 
tened to his left arm with strands of horse- 
hair, looked completely, even handsomely, 

dressed. 

196 



POLA 

He was not too proud to lend a help- 
ing hand at any work going — setting the 
table, polishing the floor of the hall or the 
brass handles of the old cabinet, leading 
the horses to water, carrying pails for the 
milkmen, helping the cook in the kitchen, 
the butler in the pantry, or the cow-boy 
in the fields ; holding skeins of wool for 
Mr. Stevenson's mother, or trotting beside 
the lady of the house, " Aolele," as they 
all called her, carrying seeds or plants for 
her garden. When my brother went out 
with a number of natives laden with sur- 
veying implements, Pola only stopped 
long enough to beg for a cane-knife before 
he was leading the party. If Mr. Steven- 
son called for his horse and started to 
town it was always Pola who flew to open 
the gate for him waving a Manuia and 

" good luck to the travelling ! '' 

199 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

The Samoans are not reserved, like 
the Indians, or haughty, like the Arabs. 
They are a cheerful, lively people, who 
keenly enjoy a joke, laughing at the slight- 
est provocation. Pola bubbled over with 
fun, and his voice could be heard chatter- 
ing and singing gayly at any hour of the 
day. He made up little verses about me, 
which he sang to the graceful gestures 
of the siva or native dance, showing un- 
affected delight when commended. He 
cried out with joy and admiration when 
he first heard a hand-organ, and was ex- 
citedly happy when allowed to turn the 
handle. I gave him a box of tin soldiers, 
which he played with for hours in my 
room. He would arrange them on the 
floor, talking earnestly to himself in Sa- 
moan. 

" These are brave brown men,*' he 

200 



POLA 

would mutter. " They are fighting for 
Mata'afa. Boom ! boom ! These are 
white men. They are fighting the Sa- 
moans. Pouf!" And with a wave of 
his arm he knocked down a whole battal- 
ion, with the scornful remark, " The Sa- 
moans win ! " 

After Mr, Stevenson's death so many 
of his Samoan friends begged for his pho- 
tograph that we sent to Sydney for a 
supply, which was soon exhausted. One 
afternoon Pola came in and remarked, in 
a very hurt and aggrieved manner, that he 
had been neglected in the way of photo- 
graphs. 

" But your father, the chief, has a large 
fine one." 

"True," said Pola. "But that is not 
mine. I have the box presented to me 
by your high-chief goodness. It has a 



20 1 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

little cover, and there 1 wish to put the 
sun-shadow of Tusitala, the beloved chief 
whom we all revere, but I more than the 
others because he was the head of my 
clan." 

" To be sure," I said, and looked about 
for a photograph. I found a picture cut 
from a weekly paper, one I remember that 
Mr. Stevenson himself had particularly 
disliked. He would have been pleased 
had he seen the scornful way Pola threw 
the picture on the floor. 

" I will not have that ! " he cried. " It 
Is pig-faced. It is not the shadow of our 
chief." He leaned against the door and 
wept. 

" I have nothing else, Pola," I pro- 
tested. " Truly, if I had another picture 
of Tusitala I would give It to you." 

He brightened up at once. " There is 



202 



POLA 

the one in the smoking-room," he said, 
" where he walks back and forth. That 
pleases me, for it looks like him." He 
referred to an oil painting of Mr. Steven- 
son by Sargent. I explained that I could 
not give him that. " Then I will take 
the round one," he said, " of tin." This 
last was the bronze bas-relief by St. Gau- 
dens. I must have laughed involuntarily, 
for he went out deeply hurt. Hearing a 
strange noise in the hall an hour or so 
later, I opened the door, and discovered 
Pola lying on his face, weeping bitterly. 

" What are you crying about ? " I 
asked. 

" The sh-adow, the shadow," he sobbed. 
" I want the sun-shadow of Tusitala." 

I knocked at my mother's door across 
the hall, and at the sight of that tear- 
stained face her heart melted, and he 

203 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

was given a good photograph, which he 
wrapped in a banana-leaf, tying it carefully 
with a ribbon of grass. 

We left Samoa after Mr. Stevenson's 
death, staying away for more than a year. 
Pola wrote me letters by every mail in a 
large round hand, but they were too con- 
ventional to bear any impress of his mind. 
He referred to our regretted separation, 
exhorting me to stand fast in the high- 
chief will of the Lord, and, with his love 
to each member of the family, mentioned 
by name and title, he prayed that I might 
live long, sleep well, and not forget Pola, 
my unworthy servant. 

When we returned to Samoa we were 

up at dawn, on shipboard, watching the 

horizon for the first faint cloud that floats 

above the island of Upulu. Already the 

familiar perfume came floating over the 

204 



POLA 

waters — that sweet blending of many 
odors, of cocoanut oil and baking bread- 
fruit, of jessamine and gardenia. It smelt 
of home to us, leaning over the rail and 
watching. First a cloud, then a shadow 
growing more and more distinct until we 
saw the outline of the island. Then, as we 
drew nearer, the deep purple of the distant 
hills, the green of the rich forests, and the 
silvery ribbons where the waterfalls reflect 
the sunshine. 

Among the fleet of boats skimming out 
to meet us was one far ahead of the others, 
a lone canoe propelled by a woman, with a 
single figure standing in the prow. As 
the steamer -drew near I made out the 
figure of Pola, dressed in wreaths and 
flowers in honor of my return. As the 
anchor went down in the bay of Apia and 

the custom-house officer started to board, 

205 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

1 called out, begging him to let the child 
come on first. He drew aside. The 
canoe came alongside the ship, and Pola, 
in his finery of fresh flowers, ran up the 
gangway and stepped forth on the deck. 
The passengers drew back before the 
strange little figure, but he was too intent 
upon finding me to notice them. 

"Teuila!" he cried, joyfully, with the 
tears rolling down his cheeks. I went 
forward to meet him, and, kneeling on the 
deck, caught him in my arms. 



206 



SAMOAN SONGS 



SAMOAN SONGS 

IN Samoa a man's standing in the com- 
munity can be pretty well gauged by 
the songs that are composed and sung 
about him. Some are humorous, some sa- 
tirical, some complimentary, and many are 
only rhymes to his name, like a nursery 
jingle. The smallest incident, once put 
into song, will live for years. There is a 
boat-song about a very unpopular official 
who left the islands years ago. We were 
once travelling by water in the smooth 
lagoon within the coral reef, and passed the 
house where this man had lived ; it was 
pointed out to us, and instantly, with a 
sweep of the oars to keep time, the boat- 
man trolled out the jeering, scornful words: 

209 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

A wise man broke through the horizon ; 
Did he give us of his wisdom ? 
Nay ; no wisdom came to us. 
But all our money went to him. 
Aue ! aue ! All our money's gone ! 

Mr. Stevenson mentions in his "Foot- 
note to History " how Mr. Weber of the 
German firm was remembered in the 
islands : 

His name still lives in the songs of Samoa. One 
that I have heard tells of Misi Ueba and a biscuit-box, 
the suggesting incident being long since forgotten. 
Another sings plaintively how all things, land and food 
and property, pass progressively, as by a law of nature, 
into the hands of Misi Ueba, and soon nothing will be 
left for Samoans. This is an epitaph the man would 
have enjoyed. 

There are many songs about Tusitala 
("Story-writer"), as Mr. Stevenson was 
called in the island — rousing boat-songs, 
when the paddles all beat time, and the 

2IO 



SAMOAN SONGS 

handles are clicked against the sides of 
the canoe to the rhythm of his name. 
The Samoans show their courtesy in re- 
membering a man's songs, and even in 
rowing Mr. Stevenson out to meet a 
passenger-ship I have heard the boatmen 
keep time to 

Tusitala ma Aolele. 

Much travelling is done by water in the 
islands, and at night, to avoid the sun's 
rays. It was very pleasant rowing by 
moonlight in the quiet waters of the 
lagoon near the shore, within the protect- 
ing coral reef that surrounds each island 
of the group and breasts the full force of 
the ocean breakers. The roaring and 
boiling of the surf made a pleasant ac- 
companiment to the singing voices of the 
brown men as they kept time to the 

211 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

rhythm of the song with a long sweep of 
the oars. The groves of pahii-trees grow 
in thick foliage to the water's edge, and 
often from the shadow where a cluster 
of native houses lay hidden, the people, 
recognizing the passing traveller by his 
boat - song, would call out across the 
lagoon, " Talofa Tusitala ! " 

There are dancing-songs about Mr. Ste- 
venson, depicting life at Vailima, which 
might be called topical, as they gener- 
ally touched upon the small incidents of 
plantation life. These were composed 
by some servant or laborer on the place, 
and saved up for a fete-day, such as Christ- 
mas, the holidays of England and America, 
and Mr. Stevenson's birthday, when they 
were chanted, danced, and acted with great 
spirit by the Samoans of our household. 
Sometimes every member of the family 

212 



SAMOAN SONGS 

would be represented, each singing a 
characteristic verse, while all hands came 
in on the refrain in a full, rich harmony. 
The central figure, the heart of the song, 
was always Tusitala, and though they 
made many little jokes at the expense of 
the rest of us, his name was always treated 
with respect. 

Other songs are long chants, with innu- 
merable verses descriptive of Tusitala's 
wisdom, his house, his friendship for the 
natives, and his love for Samoa. One of 
these may be called the " Song of the 
Roof-Iron," or "The Meeting of Tusitala 
and the Men of Vaie'e." 

The chief of Vaie'e, on the windward 
side of the island, had saved up sixty dol- 
lars in twelve " golden shillings," as he 
called the five-dollar pieces. War had 
broken out, and he and his men were 

213 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

going off to fight. Their village might 
be looted during their absence, so they 
brought the bag of golden shillings to 
Tusitala ; brought it with much ceremony 
and many presents, including a live turtle 
borne aloft on two poles. Mr. Stevenson 
locked up the precious bag in his safe that 
is built into the hall at VaiHma. After 
three months, when the warriors returned, 
the money was given back to them. They 
explained that it had been saved up with 
incredible patience to buy roof-iron for 
their new church. Mr. Stevenson good- 
naturedly took the matter in hand, with 
the result that the village received more 
roof-iron for the money than had ever 
been given to natives before. The friend- 
ly act was commemorated in a song that 
is really prettier than one would think 

the subject warranted, and the friendship 

214 



SAMOAN SONGS 

begun over the matter of the roof-iron 
has endured between the people of Vaie'e 
and the members of Tusitala's family to 
this day. 

" The Song of the Wen " commemorates 
an interesting event. A humble servant 
of the family, a lively, amusing fellow 
named Eliga, was afflicted with a large, 
unsightly tumor on his back. In a land 
where beauty is of the first importance, 
this unfortunate man was made to suffer 
doubly. Mr. Stevenson and my mother 
had him examined by the kindly surgeon 
of an English man-of-war, who proposed 
an operation. But Eliga would not sub- 
mit. He explained to Tusitala that there 
were strings in the wen that were tied 
about his heart, and if they were severed 
he would die. When Mr. Stevenson 
translated the doctor's diagnosis, Eliga 



!I7 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

was unconvinced. His skin, he said, was 
different on the outside from a white man's, 
and therefore it was not unnatural to sup- 
pose that his insides were made on a dif- 
ferent plan. 

In the end Mr. Stevenson's and my 
mother's arguments prevailed, and he sub- 
mitted ; but for their sakes, not his own, 
and he begged them to remember, when 
he was gone, that he had died for love of 
them. On the day of the operation Eliga 
prepared his house for death ; the fine mats 
were spread, the rush curtains were all up, 
the decorations removed ; the single room 
was so exquisitely prepared that not a peb- 
ble on the floor was out of place, and his 
relatives were assembled. He himself was 
of a pale-lead color and shaking with appre- 
hension, yet he came out bravely and lifted 

Aolele off her horse, and received Tusitala 

218 



SAMOAN SONGS 

and the doctor with perfect self-posses- 
sion. 

The operation was successful, and Eliga 
recovered ; but it was not only renewed 
health and strength that came to him, but 
the fulfilment of his dearest ambitions. 
Owing to his deformity he had been kept 
out of titles and estates that were promptly 
restored to him. In the islands no de- 
formed or very ugly person can be a chief. 
Indeed, if the children of a great man are 
ill-looking it is not unusual for him to 
adopt the handsomest boy in the village 
to succeed him. 

The change in Eliga was magical. In- 
stead of being the cringing, almost dwarf- 
ish creature who cut monkey-tricks to 
make people laugh, after the pathetic 
manner of the deformed in Samoa, he 

carried himself erect, with a haughty mien ; 

219 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

he dyed his hair red, and wore it in the 
latest fashion, combed up into Grecian 
curls and powdered with sandalwood. 
When he came into his title he made a 
visit to Vailima in state, accompanied by 
his new retainers, all laden with gifts for 
the family, and " The Song of the Wen " 
was sung for the first time. 

A semicircle of men sat upon mats laid 
out upon the lawn in front of the house. 
On the veranda, facing them, sat Mr. 
Stevenson, surrounded by his family and 
native servants, looking on with that 
serious, respectful attention it was his cus- 
tom to accord all native formalities, how- 
ever trivial they may have seemed. 

Eliga came forward crouchingly, with a 

cocoanut tied by a piece of sinnet to his 

back. To the accompaniment of clapping 

hands and harmonious chanting, he half 

220 



SAMOAN SONGS 

recited, half acted the story before us. 
He capered, he made silly, hideous faces, 
he did the bufFoon for the last time in his 
life ; and then, as the string was cut, and 
the cocoanut rolled to the ground, he 
sprang erect, thumped his breast, and sang 
aloud his triumph and gratitude. 

" O Tusitala ! " he cried, " when you 
first came here I was ugly and poor and 
deformed. I was jeered at and scorned 
by the unthinking. I ate grass ; a bunch 
of leaves was my sole garment, and I had 
nothing to hide my ugliness. But now, 
O Tusitala, now I am beautiful ; my body 
is sound and handsome : I bear a great 
name ; I arh rich and powerful and un- 
ashamed, and I owe it all to you, Tusi- 
tala. I have come to tell your Highness 
that I will not forget. Tusitala, I will 

work, for you all my life, and my family 

333 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

shall work for your family, and there shall 
be no question of wage between us, only 
loving-kindness. My life is yours, and I 
will be your servant till I die." 

The most beautiful of the songs are 
those that were composed in memory of 
Mr. Stevenson, and sung at Vailima after 
his death. One, referring to the steadfast 
loyalty of Mr. Stevenson to the High 
Chief Mataafa, through peace and war, 
victory and defeat, has for its refrain : 

Once Tusitala's friend. 
Always Tusitala's friend. 

Another describes a Samoan searching 

among the white people for one as good 

and kind as Tusitala. He asks of the 

officials and the consuls and captains of 

ships, and they all answer, " There were 

none like him, and he has gone." 

For months after his death, parties of 

224 




■ ■.'>ii '^'-ir^,':': 

'iyM J¥ 



Mfm 






fe<l 



^ 






SAMOAN SONGS 

natives, headed by the chief bringing a 
present of a costly, fine mat, would come 
to Vailim.a and offer their condolences to 
the family. They were people whom he 
had befriended, with their followers and 
clans : for each small, individual kindness 
an entire village assumed the burden of 
gratitude. There were his old friends, 
Tuimalealiifano and his village of Faie- 
latai ; Seumanutafa, the chief of Apia ; 
the villages of Vaie'e and Safata, Falefa 
and many others. There were the politi- 
cal prisoners, chiefs of important clans 
whom Mr. Stevenson was instrumental in 
releasing from jail. There were the mem- 
bers of the clan of the beloved Mataafa, 
then an exile, all bringing presents and 
making very touching speeches of love 
for Tusitala, and sympathy for his family. 

Each party, on leaving, handed to my 

227 



MEMORIES OF VAILIMA 

mother a roll of paper : it was the song of 
that village written in memory of Mr. 
Stevenson. 

When a party of Samoans, for love of 
him, weed the path that leads to Vaea ; 
when they gather once a year, on the 13 th 
of November, bringing wreaths and flowers 
to decorate his tomb ; when a party of 
travellers cross the mountain by his grave, 
they lift their tuneful voices in one of 
these songs : 

Groan and weep, O my heart in its sorrow ! 

Alas for Tusitala, who rests in the forest ! 

Aimlessly we wait, and sorrowing ; will he again return? 

Lament, O Vailima ! Waiting and ever waiting ! 

Let us search and ask of the captains of ships, 

** Be not angry, but has not Tusitala come ?" 

Grieve, O my heart ! I cannot bear to look on 
All the chiefs who are assembling. 
Alas, Tusitala, thou art not here ! 
I look hither and thither, in vam, for thee. 

228 



DU Field, Isobel (Osbourne) 

B13 Memories of Vailima 

F5 



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