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Full text of "The works of Robert Louis Stevenson"

National Library of Scotland 
*B000297154* 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

National Library of Scotland 



http://archive.org/details/worksofrobertlvol19stev 



This Edinburgh Edition consists of 

one thousand and thirty-five copies 

all numbered 



NoESSSD 



Vol. XIX. of issue : May li 



THE WORKS OF 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

EDINBURGH EDITION 




/8 /S 10 




§ %Q$a RANDALlS HOUSE 



CSS * ;,j 






Sketch M<np of the Beach o/"Falesa\ 
e?/7<y Neighbouring Country. 



THE WORKS OF 



ROBERT LOUIS 
STEVENSON 

SOUTH SEA YARNS 
VOLUME III 




EDINBURGH 

PRINTED BY T. AND A. CONSTABLE FOR 

LONGMANS GREEN AND CO : CASSELL AND CO. 

SEELEY AND CO : CHAS. SCRIBNER'S SONS 

AND SOLD BY CHATTO AND WINDUS 

PICCADILLY: LONDON 

1896 




B*M- I) 



?S.O 'S-> 


*> 






! J 



ISLAND NIGHTS' 
ENTERTAINMENTS 



THE EBB-TIDE 



CONTENTS 

ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

PAGK 

r. THE BEACH OF FALESA . . 5 

ii. THE BOTTLE IMP . . . .107 

m. THE ISLE OF VOICES . . .153 

THE EBB-TIDE 187 



ISLAND NIGHTS' 
ENTERTAINMENTS 



First Collected Edition : 

Cassell and Co., London, 1893. 
Originally published : 

1. ( Under the title ' Uma ') Illustrated London 
News, July 2 to August 6, 1892. 

11. Black and White, March 28 to April 4, 1 89 1, 
in. National Observer, February 4 to 25, 1893. 



CONTENTS 




Dedication .... 


PAGE 

3 


i. The Beach of Falesa — 




i. A South Sea Bridal . 


5 


ii. The Ban 


21 


iii. The Missionary 


49 


iv. Devil- Work . 


65 


v. Night in the Bush 


89 


ii. The Bottle Imp 


107 


hi. The Isle of Voices 


153 



19 — A 



TO THREE OLD SHIPMATES AMONG THE ISLANDS 

HARRY HENDERSON 
BEN HIRD 
JACK BUCKLAND 

THEIR FRIEND 

R. L. S. 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

BEING THE NARRATIVE OF A SOUTH SEA TRADER 

CHAPTER I 
A SOUTH SEA BRIDAL 

I saw that island first when it was neither night nor 
morning. The moon was to the west, setting, but 
still broad and bright. To the east, and right amid- 
ships of the dawn, which was all pink, the daystar 
sparkled like a diamond. The land breeze blew in 
our faces, and smelt strong of wild lime and vanilla : 
other things besides, but these were the most plain ; 
and the chill of it set me sneezing. I should say I 
had been for years on a low island near the line, 
living for the most part solitary among natives. 
Here was a fresh experience : even the tongue 
would be quite strange to me ; and the look of these 
woods and mountains, and the rare smell of them, 
renewed my blood. 

The captain blew out the binnacle lamp. 

* There ! ' said he, ' there goes a bit of smoke, 
Mr. Wiltshire, behind the break of the reef. 
That's Falesa, where your station is, the last vil- 
lage to the east; nobody lives to windward — I 

5 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

don't know why. Take my glass, and you can 
make the houses out.' 

I took the glass ; and the shores leaped nearer, 
and I saw the tangle of the woods and the breach of 
the surf, and the brown roofs and the black insides 
of houses peeped among the trees. 

'Do you catch a bit of white there to the east'ard V 
the captain continued. ' That 's your house. Coral 
built, stands high, verandah you could walk on three 
abreast ; best station in the South Pacific. When 
old Adams saw it, he took and shook me by the 
hand. " I 've dropped into a soft thing here," says 
he. — " So you have," says I, " and time too ! " Poor 
Johnny ! I never saw him again but the once, and 
then he had changed his tune — couldn't get on with 
the natives, or the whites, or something ; and the 
next time we came round there he was dead and 
buried. I took and put up a bit of stick to him : 
"John Adams, obit eighteen and sixty-eight. Go 
thou and do likewise." I missed that man. I never 
could see much harm in Johnny.' 

* What did he die of ? ' I inquired. 

' Some kind of sickness,' says the captain. ' It 
appears it took him sudden. Seems he got up in 
the night, and filled up on Pain-Killer and Kennedy's 
Discovery. No go : he was booked beyond Ken- 
nedy. Then he had tried to open a case of gin. 
No go again : not strong enough. Then he must 
have turned to and run out on the verandah, and 
capsized over the rail. When they found him, the 
next day, he was clean crazy — carried on all the 
6 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

time about somebody watering his copra. Poor 
John ! ' 

* Was it thought to be the island ? ' I asked. 

'Well, it was thought to be the island, or the 
trouble, or something,' he replied. ' I never could 
hear but what it was a healthy place. Our last man, 
Vigours, never turned a hair. He left because of 
the beach — said he was afraid of Black Jack and 
Case and Whistling Jimmie, who was still alive at 
the time, but got drowned soon afterward when 
drunk. As for old Captain Randall, he 's been here 
any time since eighteen -forty, forty-five. I never 
could see much harm in Billy, nor much change. 
Seems as if he might live to be old Kafoozleum. No, 
I guess it's healthy.' 

'There's a boat coming now,' said I. 'She's 
right in the pass ; looks to be a sixteen-foot whale ; 
two white men in the stern-sheets.' 

' That 's the boat that drowned Whistling Jimmie ! ' 
cried the Captain ; ' let 's see the glass. Yes, that 's 
Case, sure enough, and the darkie. They 've got a 
gallows bad reputation, but you know what a place 
the beach is for talking. My belief, that Whistling 
Jimmie was the worst of the trouble ; and he 's gone 
to glory, you see. What '11 you bet they ain't after 
gin ? Lay you five to two they take six cases.' 

When these two traders came aboard I was 
pleased with the looks of them at once, or, rather, 
with the looks of both, and the speech of one. I 
was sick for white neighbours after my four years at 
the line, which I always counted years of prison ; 

7 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

getting tabooed, and going down to the Speak 
House to see and get it taken off; buying gin and 
going on a break, and then repenting ; sitting in the 
house at night with the lamp for company ; or walk- 
ing on the beach and wondering what kind of a fool 
to call myself for being where I was. There were 
no other whites upon my island, and when I sailed 
to the next, rough customers made the most of the 
society. Now to see these two when they came 
aboard was a pleasure. One was a negro, to be sure ; 
but they were both rigged out smart in striped 
pyjamas and straw hats, and Case would have passed 
muster in a city. He was yellow and smallish, had 
a hawk's nose to his face, pale eyes, and his beard 
trimmed with scissors. No man knew his country, 
beyond he was of English speech ; and it was clear 
he came of a good family and was splendidly edu- 
cated. He was accomplished too ; played the 
accordion first-rate ; and give him a piece of string 
or a cork or a pack of cards, and he could show you 
tricks equal to any professional. He could speak, 
when he chose, fit for a drawing-room ; and when 
he chose he could blaspheme worse than a Yankee 
boatswain, and talk smart to sicken a Kanaka. The 
way he thought would pay best at the moment, that 
was Case's way, and it always seemed to come 
natural, and like as if he was born to it. He had 
the courage of a lion and the cunning of a rat ; and 
if he 's not in hell to-day, there 's no such place. I 
know but one good point to the man : that he was 
fond of his wife, and kind to her. She was a Samoa 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

woman, and dyed her hair red, Samoa style; and 
when he came to die (as I have to tell of) they found 
one strange thing — that he had made a will, like a 
Christian, and the widow got the lot : all his, they 
said, and all Black Jack's, and the most of Billy 
Randalls in the bargain, for it was Case that kept 
the books. So she went off home in the schooner 
Manila, and does the lady to this day in her own 
place. 

But of all this on that first morning I knew no 
more than a fly. Case used me like a gentleman 
and like a friend, made me welcome to Falesa, 
and put his services at my disposal, which was the 
more helpful from my ignorance of the native. All 
the better part of the day we sat drinking better 
acquaintance in the cabin, and I never heard a 
man talk more to the point. There was no smarter 
trader, and none dodgier, in the islands. I thought 
Falesa seemed to be the right kind of a place ; and 
the more I drank the lighter my heart. Our last 
trader had fled the place at half an hour's notice, 
taking a chance passage in a labour ship from up 
west. The captain, when he came, had found the 
station closed, the keys left with the native pastor, 
and a letter from the runaway, confessing he was 
fairly frightened of his life. Since then the firm had 
not been represented, and of course there was no 
cargo. The wind, besides, was fair, the captain 
hoped he could make his next island by dawn, with 
a good tide, and the business of landing my trade 
was gone about lively^ There was no call for me to 

9 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

fool with it, Case said; nobody would touch my 
things, every one was honest in Falesa, only about 
chickens or an odd knife or an odd stick of tobacco ; 
and the best I could do was to sit quiet till the 
vessel left, then come straight to his house, see old 
Captain Randall, the father of the beach, take pot- 
luck, and go home to sleep when it got dark. So it 
was high noon, and the schooner was under way, 
before I set my foot on shore at Falesa. 

I had a glass or two on board ; I was just off a 
long cruise, and the ground heaved under me like 
a ship's deck. The world was like all new painted ; 
my foot went along to music ; Falesa might have 
been Fiddler's Green, if there is such a place, and 
more 's the pity if there isn't ! It was good to foot 
the grass, to look aloft at the green mountains, to 
see the men with their green wreaths, and the women 
in their bright dresses, red and blue. On we went, 
in the strong sun and the cool shadow, liking both ; 
and all the children in the town came trotting after 
with their shaven heads and their brown bodies, and 
raising a thin kind of a cheer in our wake, like 
crowing poultry. 

'By the by,' says Case, 'we must get you a 
wife.' 

' That 's so,' said I ; ' I had forgotten.' 

There was a crowd of girls about us, and I pulled 
myself up and looked among them like a Bashaw. 
They were all dressed out for the sake of the ship 
being in ; and the women of Falesa are a handsome 
lot to see. If they have a fault, they are a trifle 
10 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

broad in the beam ; and I was just thinking so when 
Case touched me. 

' That 's pretty,' says he. 

I saw one coming on the other side alone. She 
had been fishing ; all she wore was a chemise, and it 
was wetted through. She was young and very 
slender for an island maid, with a long face, a high 
forehead, and a shy, strange, blindish look, between 
a cat's and a baby's. 

' Who 's she ? ' said I. < She '11 do.' 

' That 's Uma,' said Case, and he called her up and 
spoke to her in the native. I didn't know what he 
said ; but when he was in the midst she looked up at 
me quick and timid, like a child dodging a blow, 
then down again, and presently smiled. She had a 
wide mouth, the lips and the chin cut like any 
statue's ; and the smile came out for a moment and 
was gone. Then she stood with her head bent, and 
heard Case to an end, spoke back in the pretty 
Polynesian voice, looking him full in the face, heard 
him again in answer, and then with an obeisance 
started off. I had just a share of the bow, but never 
another shot of her eye, and there was no more word 
of smiling. 

'I guess it's all right,' said Case. 'I guess you 
can have her. 1 11 make it square with the old lady. 
You can have your pick of the lot for a plug of 
tobacco,' he added, sneering. 

I suppose it was the smile stuck in my memory, 
for I spoke back sharp. « She doesn't look that sort,' 
I cried. 

ii 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

' I don't know that she is,' said Case. ' I believe 
she 's as right as the mail. Keeps to herself, don't 
go round with the gang, and that. O no, don't you 
misunderstand me — Uma's on the square.' He 
spoke eager, I thought, and that surprised and 
pleased me. 'Indeed,' he went on, 'I shouldn't 
make so sure of getting her, only she cottoned to 
the cut of your jib. All you have to do is to keep 
dark and let me work the mother my own way ; 
and I '11 bring the girl round to the captain's for the 
marriage.' 

I didn't care for the word marriage, and I said so. 

' O, there 's nothing to hurt in the marriage,' says 
he. ' Black Jack 's the chaplain.' 

By this time we had come in view of the house of 
these three white men ; for a negro is counted a 
white man, and so is a Chinese ! a strange idea, but 
common in the islands. It was a board house with 
a strip of rickety verandah. The store was to the 
front, with a counter, scales, and the poorest possible 
display of trade : a case or two of tinned meats ; a 
barrel of hard bread ; a few bolts of cotton stuff, not 
to be compared with mine ; the only thing well 
represented being the contraband, firearms and 
liquor. ' If these are my only rivals,' thinks I, * I 
should do well in Falesa.' Indeed, there was only 
the one way they could touch me, and that was with 
the guns and drink. 

In the back room was old Captain Randall, squat- 
ting on the floor native fashion, fat and pale, naked 
to the waist, grey as a badger, and his eyes set with 
12 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

drink. His body was covered with grey hair and 
crawled over by flies ; one was in the corner of his 
eye — he never heeded ; and the mosquitoes hummed 
about the man like bees. Any clean-minded man 
would have had the creature out at once and buried 
him ; and to see him, and think he was seventy, and 
remember he had once commanded a ship, and come 
ashore in his smart togs, and talked big in bars and 
consulates, and sat in club verandahs, turned me 
sick and sober. 

He tried to get up when I came in, but that was 
hopeless ; so he reached me a hand instead, and 
stumbled out some salutation. 

* Papa's 1 pretty full this morning,' observed Case. 
' We 've had an epidemic here ; and Captain Randall 
takes gin for a prophylactic — don't you, Papa ? ' 

' Never took such a thing in my life ? ' cried the 
captain indignantly. 'Take gin for my health's 
sake, Mr. Wha 's-ever-your-name — 's a precautionary 
measure.' 

■ That 's all right, Papa,' said Case. ' But you '11 
have to brace up. There 's going to be a marriage — 
Mr. Wiltshire here is going to get spliced. ' 

The old man asked to whom. 

■ To Uma,' said Case. 

' Uma ! ' cried the captain. ' Wha 's he want 
Uma for ? 's he come here for his health, anyway ? 
Wha' 'n hell 's he want Uma for ? ' 

' Dry up, Papa,' said Case. ' 'Tain't you that 's to 
marry her. I guess you 're not her godfather and 

Please pronounce pappa throughout. 

13 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

godmother. I guess Mr. Wiltshire 's going to please 
himself.' 

With that he made an excuse to me that he must 
move about the marriage, and left me alone with the 
poor wretch that was his partner and (to speak truth) 
his gull. Trade and station belonged both to 
Randall ; Case and the negro were parasites ; they 
crawled and fed upon him like the flies, he none the 
wiser. Indeed, I have no harm to say of Billy 
Randall beyond the fact that my gorge rose at him, 
and the time I now passed in his company was like 
a nightmare. 

The room was stifling hot and full of flies ; for the 
house was dirty and low and small, and stood in a 
bad place, behind the village, in the borders of the 
bush, and sheltered from the trade. The three 
men's beds were on the floor, and a litter of pans 
and dishes. There was no standing furniture ; 
Randall, when he was violent, tearing it to laths. 
There I sat and had a meal which was served us by 
Case's wife ; and there I was entertained all day by 
that remains of man, his tongue stumbling among 
low old jokes and long old stories, and his own 
wheezy laughter always ready, so that he had no 
sense of my depression. He was nipping gin all the 
while. Sometimes he fell asleep, and awoke again, 
whimpering and shivering, and every now and again 
he would ask me why I wanted to marry Uma. ' My 
friend,' I was telling myself all day, * you must not 
come to be an old gentleman like this.' 

It might be four in the afternoon, perhaps, when 
14 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

the back door was thrust slowly open, and a strange 
old native woman crawled into the house almost on 
her belly. She was swathed in black stuff to her 
heels ; her hair was grey in swatches ; her face was 
tatooed, which was not the practice in that island ; 
her eyes big and bright and crazy. These she fixed 
upon me with a rapt expression that I saw to be 
part acting. She said no plain word, but smacked 
and mumbled with her lips, and hummed aloud, like 
a child over its Christmas pudding. She came 
straight across the house, heading for me, and, as 
soon as she was alongside, caught up my hand and 
purred and crooned over it like a great cat. From 
this she slipped into a kind of song. 

'Who the devil's this?' cried I, for the thing 
startled me. 

'It's Fa'avao,' says Randall; and I saw he had 
hitched along the floor into the farthest corner. 

' You ain't afraid of her ? ' I cried. 

' Me 'fraid ! ' cried the captain. ' My dear friend, 
I defy her ! I don't let her put her foot in here, 
only I suppose 's different to-day, for the marriage. 
's Uma's mother.' 

' Well, suppose it is ; what 's she carrying on 
about ? ' I asked, more irritated, perhaps more fright- 
ened, than I cared to show ; and the captain told me 
she was making up a quantity of poetry in my praise 
because I was to marry Uma. ' All right, old lady,' 
says I, with rather a failure of a laugh, ' anything to 
oblige. But when you 're done with my hand, you 
might let me know.' 

15 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

She did as though she understood ; the song rose 
into a cry, and stopped ; the woman crouched out of 
the house the same way that she came in, and must 
have plunged straight into the bush, for when I 
followed her to the door she had already vanished. 

* These are rum manners,' said I. 

*'s a rum crowd,' said the captain, and, to my 
surprise, he made the sign of the cross on his bare 
bosom. 

* Hillo ! ' says I, ' are you a Papist ? ' 

He repudiated the idea with contempt. * Hard- 
shell Baptis',' said he. 'But, my dear friend, the 
Papists got some good ideas too ; and tha' 's one of 
'em. You take my advice, and whenever you come 
across Uma or Fa'avao or Vigours, or any of that 
crowd, you take a leaf out o' the priests, and do 
what I do. Savvy ? ' says he, repeated the sign, and 
winked his dim eye at me. ' No, sir ! ' he broke out 
again, * no Papists here ! ' and for a long time enter- 
tained me with his religious opinions. 

I must have been taken with Uma from the first, 
or I should certainly have fled from that house, and 
got into the clean air, and the clean sea, or some 
convenient river — though, it 's true, I was committed 
to Case ; and, besides, I could never have held my 
head up in that island if I had run from a girl upon 
my wedding-night. 

The sun was down, the sky all on fire, and the 

lamp had been some time lighted, when Case came 

back with Uma and the negro. She was dressed 

and scented ; her kilt was of fine tapa, looking richer 

1 6 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

in the folds than any silk ; her bust, which was of 
the colour of dark honey, she wore bare only for 
some half a dozen necklaces of seeds and flowers; 
and behind her ears and in her hair she had the 
scarlet flowers of the hibiscus. She showed the best 
bearing for a bride conceivable, serious and still ; and 
I thought shame to stand up with her in that mean 
house and before that grinning negro. I thought 
shame, I say ; for the mountebank was dressed with a 
big paper collar, the book he made believe to read from 
was an odd volume of a novel, and the words of his 
service not fit to be set down. My conscience smote 
me when we joined hands ; and when she got her cer- 
tificate I was tempted to throw up the bargain and 
confess. Here is the document. It was Case that 
wrote it, signatures and all, in a leaf out of the ledger: — 

This is to certify that Uma, daughter of Fa'avao of Falesa, 

Island of , is illegally married to Mr. John Wiltshire for 

one week, and Mr. John Wiltshire is at liberty to send her to 
hell when he pleases. John Blackamoae. 

Chaplain to the Hulks. 
Extracted from the Register 

by William T. Randall, 

Master Mariner. 

A nice paper to put in a girl's hand and see her 
hide away like gold. A man might easily feel cheap 
for less. But it was the practice in these parts, and 
(as I told myself) not the least the fault of us white 
men, but of the missionaries. If they had let the 
natives be, I had never needed this deception, but 
taken all the wives I wished, and left them when I 
pleased, with a clear conscience. 

19— B 17 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

The more ashamed I was, the more hurry I was in 
to be gone ; and our desires thus jumping together, I 
made the less remark of a change in the traders. Case 
had been all eagerness to keep me ; now, as though 
he had attained a purpose, he seemed all eagerness 
to have me go. Uma, he said, could show me to my 
house, and the three bade us farewell indoors. 

The night was nearly come ; the village smelt of 
trees and flowers and the sea and breadfruit- cooking; 
there came a fine roll of sea from the reef, and from 
a distance, among the woods and houses, many pretty 
sounds of men and children. It did me good to 
breathe free air ; it did me good to be done with the 
captain and see, instead, the creature at my side. I 
felt for all the world as though she were some girl at 
home in the Old Country, and, forgetting myself for 
the minute, took her hand to walk with. Her fingers 
nestled into mine, I heard her breathe deep and quick, 
and all at once she caught my hand to her face and 
pressed it there. * You good ! ' she cried, and ran 
ahead of me, and stopped and looked back and 
smiled, and ran ahead of me again, thus guiding me 
through the edge of the bush, and by a quiet way to 
my own house. 

The truth is, Case had done the courting for me 
in style — told her I was mad to have her, and cared 
nothing for the consequence; and the poor soul, 
knowing that which I was still ignorant of, believed 
it, every word, and had her head nigh turned with 
vanity and gratitude. Now, of all this I had no 
guess ; I was one of those most opposed to any 
iS 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

nonsense about native women, having seen so many 
whites eaten up by their wives' relatives, and made 
fools of in the bargain ; and I told myself I must 
make a stand at once, and bring her to her bearings. 
But she looked so quaint and pretty as she ran away 
and then awaited me, and the thing was done so like 
a child or a kind dog, that the best I could do was 
just to follow her whenever she went on, to listen 
for the fall of her bare feet, and to watch in the dusk 
for the shining of her body. And there was another 
thought came in my head. She played kitten with 
me now when we were alone ; but in the house she 
had carried it the way a countess might, so proud and 
humble. And what with her dress — for all there was 
so little of it, and that native enough — what with her 
fine tapa and fine scents, and her red flowers and 
seeds, that were quite as bright as jewels, only larger 
— it came over me she was a kind of countess really, 
dressed to hear great singers at a concert, and no 
even mate for a poor trader like myself. 

She was the first in the house ; and while I was 
still without I saw a match flash and the lamplight 
kindle in the windows. The station was a wonder- 
ful fine place, coral built, with quite a wide verandah, 
and the main room high and wide. My chests and 
cases had been piled in, and made rather of a mess ; 
and there, in the thick of the confusion, stood Uma 
by the table, awaiting me. Her shadow went all the 
way up behind her into the hollow of the iron roof ; 
she stood against it bright, the lamplight shining on 
her skin. I stopped in the door, and she looked at 

19 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

me, not speaking, with eyes that were eager and yet 
daunted ; then she touched herself on the bosom. 

'Me — your wifie,' she said. It had never taken 
me like that before ; but the want of her took and 
shook all through me, like the wind in the luff of a 
sail. 

I could not speak if I had wanted ; and if I could, 
I would not. I was ashamed to be so much moved 
about a native, ashamed of the marriage too, and the 
certificate she had treasured in her kilt; and I turned 
aside and made believe to rummage among my cases. 
The first thing I lighted on was a case of gin, the 
only one that I had brought ; and, partly for the 
girl's sake, and partly for horror of the recollections 
of old Randall, took a sudden resolve. I prized the 
lid off. One by one I drew the bottles with a 
pocket corkscrew, and sent Uma out to pour the 
stuff from the verandah. 

She came back after the last, and looked at me 
puzzled like. 

* No good,' said I, for I was now a little better 
master of my tongue. ' Man he drink, he no good.' 

She agreed with this, but kept considering. 'Why 
you bring him ? ' she asked presently. ' Suppose 
you no want drink, you no bring him, I think.' 

' That 's all right,' said I. ' One time I want 
drink too much ; now no want. You see, I no savvy 
I get one little wifie. Suppose I drink gin, my little 
wifie he 'fraid.' 

To speak to her kindly was about more than I was 
fit for ; I had made my vow I would never let on to 
20 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

weakness with a native, and I had nothing for it 
but to stop. * 

She stood looking gravely down at me where I sat 
by the open case. ' I think you good man,' she said. 
And suddenly she had fallen before me on the 
floor. * I belong you all-e-same pig ! ' she cried. 

CHAPTER II 

THE BAN 

I came on the verandah just before the sun rose on 
the morrow. My house was the last on the east; 
there was a cape of woods and cliffs behind that hid 
the sunrise. To the west, a swift cold river ran 
down, and beyond was the green of the village, 
dotted with cocoa-palms and breadfruits and houses. 
The shutters were some of them down and some 
open ; I saw the mosquito bars still stretched, with 
shadows of people new-awakened sitting up inside ; 
and all over the green others were stalking silent, 
wrapped in their many-coloured sleeping clothes like 
Bedouins in Bible pictures. It was mortal still and 
solemn and chilly, and the light of the dawn on the 
lagoon was like the shining of a fire. 

But the thing that troubled me was nearer hand. 
Some dozen young men and children made a piece 
of a half-circle, flanking my house : the river divided 
them, some were on the near side, some on the far, 
and one on a boulder in the midst ; and they all sat 
silent, wrapped in their sheets, and stared at me and 

21 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

my house as straight as pointer dogs. I thought it 
strange as I went out. When I had bathed and 
come back again, and found them all there, and two 
or three more along with them, I thought it stranger 
still. What could they see to gaze at in my house, 
I wondered, and went in. 

But the thought of these starers stuck in my mind, 
and presently I came out again. The sun was now 
up, but it was still behind the cape of woods. Say 
a quarter of an hour had come and gone. The crowd 
was greatly increased, the far bank of the river was 
lined for quite a way — perhaps thirty grown folk, 
and of children twice as many, some standing, some 
squatted on the ground, and all staring at my house. 
I have seen a house in a South Sea village thus sur- 
rounded, but then a trader was thrashing his wife 
inside, and she singing out. Here was nothing : the 
stove was alight, the smoke going up in a Christian 
manner ; all was shipshape and Bristol fashion. To 
be sure, there was a stranger come, but they had a 
chance to see that stranger yesterday, and took it 
quiet enough. What ailed them now ? I leaned 
my arms on the rail and stared back. Devil a wink 
they had in them ! Now and then I could see the 
children chatter, but they spoke so low not even the 
hum of their speaking came my length. The rest 
were like graven images : they stared at me, dumb 
and sorrowful, with their bright eyes ; and it came 
upon me things would look not much different if I 
were on the platform of the gallows, and these good 
folk had come to see me hanged. 
22 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

I felt I was getting daunted, and began to be 
afraid I looked it, which would never do. Up I 
stood, made believe to stretch myself, came down 
the verandah stair, and strolled towards the river. 
There went a short buzz from one to the other, like 
what you hear in theatres when the curtain goes up ; 
and some of the nearest gave back the matter of a 
pace. I saw a girl lay one hand on a young man 
and make a gesture upward with the other ; at the 
same time she said something in the native with a 
gasping voice. Three little boys sat beside my 
path, where I must pass within three feet of them. 
Wrapped in their sheets, with their shaved heads 
and bits of top-knots, and queer faces, they looked 
like figures on a chimney-piece. A while they sat 
their ground, solemn as judges. I came up hand 
over fist, doing my five knots, like a man that meant 
business ; and I thought I saw a sort of a wink and 
gulp in the three faces. Then one jumped up (he 
was the farthest off) and ran for his mammy. The 
other two, trying to follow suit, got foul, came to 
ground together bawling, wriggled right out of their 
sheets mother-naked, and in a moment there were 
all three of them scampering for their lives and sing- 
ing out like pigs. The natives, who would never let 
a joke slip, even at a burial, laughed and let up, as 
short as a dog's bark. 

They say it scares a man to be alone. No such 
thing. What scares him in the dark or the high 
bush is that he can't make sure, and there might be 
an army at his elbow. What scares him worst is to 

23 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

be right in the midst of a crowd, and have no guess 
of what they're driving at. When that laugh 
stopped, I stopped too. The boys had not yet 
made their offing, they were still on the full stretch 
going the one way, when I had already gone 
about ship and was sheering off the other. Like 
a fool I had come out, doing my five knots ; like a 
fool I went back again. It must have been the 
funniest thing to see, and, what knocked me silly, 
this time no one laughed ; only one old woman gave 
a kind of pious moan, the way you have heard 
Dissenters in their chapels at the sermon. 

' I never saw such fools of Kanakas as your people 
here,' I said once to Uma, glancing out of the window 
at the starers. 

' Savvy nothing,' says Uma, with a kind of dis- 
gusted air that she was good at 

And that was all the talk we had upon the 
matter, for I was put out, and Uma took the thing 
so much as a matter of course that I was fairly 
ashamed. 

All day, off and on, now fewer and now more, the 
fools sat about the west end of my house and across 
the river, waiting for the show, whatever that was — 
fire to come down from heaven, I suppose, and con- 
sume me, bones and baggage. But by evening, like 
real islanders, they had wearied of the business, and 
got away, and had a dance instead in the big house 
of the village, where I heard them singing and clap- 
ping hands till, maybe, ten at night, and the next 
day it seemed they had forgotten I existed. If fire 
24 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

had come down from heaven or the earth opened 
and swallowed me, there would have been nobody to 
see the sport or take the lesson, or whatever you 
like to call it. But I was to find they hadn't forgot 
either, and kept an eye lifting for phenomena over 
my way. 

I was hard at it both these days getting my trade 
in order and taking stock of what Vigours had left. 
This was a job that made me pretty sick, and kept 
me from thinking on much else. Ben had taken 
stock the trip before — I knew I could trust Ben — 
but it was plain somebody had been making free in 
the meantime. I found I was out by what might 
easily cover six months' salary and profit, and I could 
have kicked myself all round the village to have been 
such a blamed ass, sitting boozing with that Case 
instead of attending to my own affairs and taking 
stock. 

However, there's no use crying over spilt milk. 
It was done now, and couldn't be undone. All I 
could do was to get what was left of it, and my new 
stuff (my own choice) in order, to go round and get 
after the rats and cockroaches, and to fix up that 
store regular Sydney style. A fine show I made of 
it ; and the third morning when I had lit my pipe 
and stood in the doorway and looked in, and turned 
and looked far up the mountain and saw the cocoa- 
nuts waving and posted up the tons of copra, and 
over the village green and saw the island dandies 
and reckoned up the yards of print they wanted for 
their kilts and dresses, I felt as if I was in the right 

25 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

place to make a fortune, and go home again and 
start a public-house. There was I, sitting in that 
verandah, in as handsome a piece of scenery as you 
could find, a splendid sun, and a fine fresh healthy 
trade that stirred up a man's blood like sea-bathing ; 
and the whole thing was clean gone from me, and I 
was dreaming England, which is, after all, a nasty, 
cold, muddy hole, with not enough light to see to 
read by ; and dreaming the looks of my public, by a 
cant of a broad high-road like an avenue, and with 
the sign on a green tree. 

So much for the morning; but the day passed and 
the devil any one looked near me, and from all I 
knew of natives in other islands I thought this 
strange. People laughed a little at our firm and 
their fine stations, and at this station of Falesa in 
particular ; all the copra in the district wouldn't pay 
for it (I had heard them say) in fifty years, which I 
supposed was an exaggeration. But when the day 
went, and no business came at all, I began to get 
downhearted ; and, about three in the afternoon, I 
went out for a stroll to cheer me up. On the green 
I saw a white man coming with a cassock on, by 
which and by the face of him I knew he was a priest. 
He was a good-natured old soul to look at, gone a 
little grizzled, and so dirty you could have written 
with him on a piece of paper. 

* Good day, sir,' said I. 

He answered me eagerly in native. 

' Don't you speak any English ? ' said I. 

* French,' says he. 

26 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

' Well,' said I, * I 'm sorry, but I can't do anything 
there.' 

He tried me a while in the French, and then again 
in native, which he seemed to think was the best 
chance. I made out he was after more than passing 
the time of day with me, but had something to com- 
municate, and I listened the harder. I heard the 
names of Adams and Case and of Randall — Randall 
the oftenest — and the word 'poison,' or something 
like it, and a native word that he said very often. I 
went home, repeating it to myself. 

■ What does fussy-ocky mean ? ' I asked of Uma, 
for that was as near as I could come to it. 

' Make dead,' said she. 

' The devil it does ! ' says I. ' Did ever you hear 
that Case had poisoned Johnnie Adams ? ' 

'Every man he savvy that,' says Uma, scornful- 
like. ' Give him white sand — bad sand. He got 
the bottle still. Suppose he give you gin, you no 
take him.' 

Now I had heard much the same sort of story in 
other islands, and the same white powder always to 
the front, which made me think the less of it. For 
all that, I went over to Randall's place to see what 
I could pick up, and found Case on the doorstep, 
cleaning a gun. 

' Good shooting here ? ' says I. 

' A 1,' says he. ' The bush is full of all kinds of 
birds. I wish copra was as plenty,' says he — I 
thought, slyly— 'but there don't seem anything 
doing.' 

27 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

I could see Black Jack in the store, serving a 
customer. 

' That looks like business, though,' said I. 

* That 's the first sale we Ve made in three weeks,' 
said he. 

'You don't tell me?' says I. 'Three weeks? 
WeU, well.' 

'If you don't believe me,' he cries, a little hot, 
' you can go and look at the copra-house. It 's half 
empty to this blessed hour.' 

' I shouldn't be much the better for that, you see,' 
says I. 'For all I can tell, it might have been 
whole empty yesterday.' 

' That 's so,' says he, with a bit of a laugh. 

' By the by,' I said, ' what sort of a party is that 
priest? Seems rather a friendly sort.' 

At this Case laughed right out loud. ' Ah ! ' says 
he, ' I see what ails you now. Galuchet 's been at 
you.' Father Galoshes was the name he went by 
most, but Case always gave it the French quirk, 
which was another reason we had for thinking him 
above the common. 

' Yes, I have seen him,' I says. ' I made out he 
didn't think much of your Captain Randall.' 

' That he don't ! ' says Case. ' It was the trouble 
about poor Adams. The last day, when he lay 
dying, there was young Buncombe round. Ever 
met Buncombe ? ' 

I told him no. 

' He 's a cure, is Buncombe ! ' laughs Case. ' Well, 
Buncombe took it in his head that, as there was no 
28 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

other clergyman about, bar Kanaka pastors, we 
ought to call in Father Galuchet, and have the old 
man administered and take the sacrament. It was 
all the same to me, you may suppose ; but I said 
I thought Adams was the fellow to consult. He 
was jawing away about watered copra and a sight of 
foolery. "Look here," I said, "you're pretty sick. 
Would you like to see Galoshes ? " He sat right 
up on his elbow. " Get the priest," says he, " get 
the priest ; don't let me die here like a dog ! " He 
spoke kind of fierce and eager, but sensible enough. 
There was nothing to say against that, so we sent 
and asked Galuchet if he would come. You bet he 
would. He jumped in his dirty linen at the thought 
of it. But we had reckoned without Papa. He's 
a hard-shell Baptist, is Papa ; no Papists need apply. 
And he took and locked the door. Buncombe told 
him he was bigoted, and I thought he would have 
had a fit. "Bigoted!" he says. "Me bigoted? 
Have I lived to hear it from a jackanapes like you ? " 
And he made for Buncombe, and I had to hold 
them apart; and there was Adams in the middle, 
gone luny again, and carrying on about copra like a 
born fool. It was good as the play, and I was 
about knocked out of time with laughing, when all 
of a sudden Adams sat up, clapped his hands to his 
chest, and went into the horrors. He died hard, 
did John Adams,' says Case, with a kind of a sudden 
sternness. 

* And what became of the priest ? ' I asked. 

* The priest ? ' says Case, ' O ! he was hammering 

29 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

on the door outside, and crying on the natives to 
come and beat it in, and singing out it was a soul 
he wished to save, and that. He was in a rare 
taking, was the priest. But what would you have ? 
Johnny had slipped his cable: no more Johnny in 
the market; and the administration racket clean 
played out. Next thing, word came to Randall the 
priest was praying upon Johnny's grave. Papa was 
pretty full, and got a club, and lit out straight for 
the place, and there was Galoshes on his knees, and 
a lot of natives looking on. You wouldn't think 
Papa cared that much about anything, unless it 
was liquor; but he and the priest stuck to it two 
hours, slanging each other in native, and every time 
Galoshes tried to kneel down Papa went for him 
with the club. There never were such larks in 
Falesa. The end of it was that Captain Randall was 
knocked over with some kind of a fit or stroke, and 
the priest got in his goods after all. But he was the 
angriest priest you ever heard of, and complained to 
the chiefs about the outrage, as he called it. That 
was no account, for our chiefs are Protestant here ; 
and, anyway, he had been making trouble about the 
drum for morning school, and they were glad to 
give him a wipe. Now he swears old Randall gave 
Adams poison or something, and when the two meet 
they grin at each other like baboons.' 

He told the story as natural as could be, and 

like a man that enjoyed the fun ; though, now I 

come to think of it after so long, it seems rather a 

sickening yarn. However, Case never set up to 

30 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

be soft, only to be square and hearty, and a man 
all round; and, to tell the truth, he puzzled me 
entirely. 

I went home and asked Uma if she were a Popey, 
which I had made out to be the native word for 
Catholics. 

* E le ai ! ' says she. She always used the native 
when she meant ' no '^more than usually strong, and, 
indeed, there 's more of it. ' No good Popey,' she 
added. 

Then I asked her about Adams and the priest, 
and she told me much the same yarn in her own 
way. So that I was left not much further on, but 
inclined, upon the whole, to think the bottom of 
the matter was the row about the sacrament, and 
the poisoning only talk. 

The next day was a Sunday, when there was no 
business to be looked for. Uma asked me in the 
morning if I was going to ' pray ' ; I told her she bet 
not, and she stopped home herself with no more 
words. I thought this seemed unlike a native, and 
a native woman, and a woman that had new clothes 
to show off; however, it suited me to the ground, 
and I made the less of it. The queer thing was that 
I came next door to going to church after all, a 
thing I 'm little likely to forget. I had turned out 
for a stroll, and heard the hymn tune up. You 
know how it is. If you hear folk singing, it seems 
to draw you : and pretty soon I found myself along- 
side the church. It was a little, long, low place, 
coral built, rounded off at both ends like a whale- 

3i 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

boat, a big native roof on the top of it, windows 
without sashes and doorways without doors. I 
stuck my head into one of the windows, and the 
sight was so new to me — for things went quite 
different in the islands I was acquainted with — that 
I stayed and looked on. The congregation sat on 
the floor on mats, the women on one side, the men 
on the other, all rigged out to kill — the women with 
dresses and trade hats, the men in white jackets and 
shirts. The hymn was over ; the pastor, a big buck 
Kanaka, was in the pulpit, preaching for his life; 
and by the way he wagged his hand, and worked 
his voice, and made his points, and seemed to argue 
with the folk, I made out he was a gun at the 
business. Well, he looked up suddenly and caught 
my eye, and I give you my word he staggered in the 
pulpit ; his eyes bulged out of his head, his hand 
rose and pointed at me like as if against his will, and 
the sermon stopped right there. 

It isn't a fine thing to say for yourself, but I ran 
away ; and if the same kind of a shock was given 
me, I should run away again to-morrow. To see 
that palavering Kanaka struck all of a heap at the 
mere sight of me gave me a feeling as if the bottom 
had dropped out of the world. I went right home, 
and stayed there, and said nothing. You might 
think I would tell Uma, but that was against my 
system. You might have thought I would have 
gone over and consulted Case; but the truth was 
I was ashamed to speak of such a thing, I thought 
every one would blurt out laughing in my face. So 
32 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

I held my tongue, and thought all the more ; and 
the more I thought, the less I liked the business. 

By Monday night I got it clearly in my head 
I must be tabooed. A new store to stand open two 
days in a village and not a man or woman come to 
see the trade was past believing. 

' Uma,' said I, * I think I am tabooed.' 

' I think so,' said she. 

I thought a while whether I should ask her more, 
but it 's a bad idea to set natives up with any notion 
of consulting them, so I went to Case. It was dark, 
and he was sitting alone, as he did mostly, smoking 
on the stairs. 

* Case,' said I, * here 's a queer thing. I 'm tabooed.' 

* O, fudge ! ' says he ; * 'tain't the practice in these 
islands.' 

' That may be, or it mayn't,' said I. * It 's the 
practice where I was before. You can bet I know 
what it 's like ; and I tell it you for a fact, I 'm 
tabooed.' 

* Well,' said he, ' what have you been doing ? ' 
' That 's what I want to find out,' said I. 

* O, you can't be,' said he ; 'it ain't possible. 
However, I '11 tell you what I '11 do. Just to put 
your mind at rest, I '11 go round and find out for 
sure. Just you waltz in and talk to Papa.' 

' Thank you,' I said, ' I 'd rather stay right out 
here on the verandah. Your house is so close.' 

' I '11 call Papa out here, then,' says he. 

'My dear fellow,' I says, 'I wish you wouldn't. 
The fact is, I don't take to Mr. Randall.' 

19-c 33 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

Case laughed, took a lantern from the store, and 
set out into the village. He was gone perhaps a 
quarter of an hour, and he looked mighty serious 
when he came back. 

' Well,' said he, clapping down the lantern on the 
verandah steps, ' I would never have believed it. 
I don't know where the impudence of these Kanakas 
'11 go next ; they seem to have lost all idea of respect 
for whites. What we want is a man-of-war — a 
German, if we could — they know how to manage 
Kanakas.' 

* I am tabooed, then ? ' I cried. 

' Something of the sort,' said he. * It 's the worst 
thing of the kind I 've heard of yet. But I '11 stand 
by you, Wiltshire, man to man. You come round 
here to-morrow about nine, and we'll have it out 
with the chiefs. They 're afraid of me, or they used 
to be ; but their heads are so big by now, I don't 
know what to think. Understand me, Wiltshire ; 
I don't count this your quarrel,' he went on, with 
a great deal of resolution, 'I count it all of our 
quarrel, I count it the White Man's Quarrel, and 
I '11 stand to it through thick and thin, and there 's 
my hand on it.' 

* Have you found out what 's the reason ? ' I 
asked. 

' Not yet,' said Case. • But we 11 fix them down 
to-morrow.' 

Altogether I was pretty well pleased with his 
attitude, and almost more the next day, when we 
met to go before the chiefs, to see him so stern and 
34 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

resolved. The chiefs awaited us in one of their big 
oval houses, which was marked out to us from a 
long way off by the crowd about the eaves, a hun- 
dred strong if there was one — men, women, and 
children. Many of the men were on their way to 
work and wore green wreaths, and it put me in 
thoughts of the 1st of May at home. This crowd 
opened and buzzed about the pair of us as we went 
in, with a sudden angry animation. Five chiefs 
were there; four mighty stately men, the fifth old 
and puckered. They sat on mats in their white 
kilts and jackets ; they had fans in their hands, like 
fine ladies ; and two of the younger ones wore 
Catholic medals, which gave me matter of reflec- 
tion. Our place was set, and the mats laid for us 
over against these grandees, on the near side of the 
house ; the midst was empty ; the crowd, close at 
our backs, murmured, and craned, and jostled to 
look on, and the shadows of them tossed in front of 
us on the clean pebbles of the floor. I was just a 
hair put out by the excitement of the commons, but 
the quiet, civil appearance of the chiefs reassured 
me, all the more when their spokesman began and 
made a long speech in a low tone of voice, some- 
times waving his hand towards Case, sometimes 
toward me, and sometimes knocking with his 
knuckles on the mat. One thing was clear : there 
was no sign of anger in the chiefs. 

* What 's he been saying ? ' I asked, when he had 
done. 

'O, just that they're glad to see you, and they 

35 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

understand by me you wish to make some kind of 
complaint, and you're to fire away, and they'll do 
the square thing.' 

* It took a precious long time to say that,' said I. 

' O, the rest was sawder and borvjour and that,' 
said Case. ' You know what Kanakas are.' 

' Well, they don't get much boirvjour out of me,' 
said I. ' You tell them who I am. I 'm a white 
man, and a British subject, and no end of a big chief 
at home ; and I 've come here to do them good, and 
bring them civilisation ; and no sooner have I got 
my trade sorted out than they go and taboo me, and 
no one dare come near my place ! Tell them I 
don't mean to fly in the face of anything legal ; and 
if what they want 's a present, I '11 do what 's fair. 
I don't blame any man looking out for himself, tell 
them, for that 's human nature ; but if they think 
they 're going to come any of their native ideas over 
me, they 11 find themselves mistaken. And tell them 
plain that I demand the reason of this treatment as 
a white man and a British subject.' 

That was my speech. I know how to deal with 
Kanakas : give them plain sense and fair dealing, 
and — I '11 do them that much justice — they knuckle 
under every time. They haven't any real govern- 
ment or any real law, that's what you've got to 
knock into their heads ; and even if they had, it 
would be a good joke if it was to apply to a white 
man. It would be a strange thing if we came all 
this way and couldn't do what we pleased. The 
mere idea has always put my monkey up, and I 
36 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

rapped my speech out pretty big. Then Case trans- 
lated it — or made believe to, rather — and the first 
chief replied, and then a second, and a third, all in 
the same style, easy and genteel, but solemn under- 
neath. Once a question was put to Case, and he 
answered it, and all hands (both chiefs and commons) 
laughed out aloud and looked at me. Last of all, 
the puckered old fellow and the big young chief that 
spoke first started in to put Case through a kind of 
catechism. Sometimes I made out that Case was 
trying to fence, and they stuck to him like hounds, 
and the sweat ran down his face, which was no very 
pleasant sight to me, and at some of his answers the 
crowd moaned and murmured, which was a worse 
hearing. It 's a cruel shame I knew no native, for 
(as I now believe) they were asking Case about 
my marriage, and he must have had a tough job of it 
to clear his feet. But leave Case alone ; he had the 
brains to run a parliament. 

* Well, is that all ? ' I asked, when a pause came. 
' Come along,' says he, mopping his face ; ' I '11 

tell you outside.' 

'Do you mean they' won't take the taboo off?' 
I cried. 

* It 's something queer,' said he. * 1 11 tell you 
outside. Better come away.' 

' I won't take it at their hands,' cried I. * I ain't 
that kind of a man. You don't find me turn my 
back on a parcel of Kanakas.' 

' You 'd better,' said Case. 

He looked at me with a signal in his eye ; and 

37 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

the five chiefs looked at me civilly enough, but kind 
of pointed ; and the people looked at me, and craned 
and jostled. I remembered the folks that watched 
my house, and how the pastor had jumped in his 
pulpit at the bare sight of me ; and the whole 
business seemed so out of the way that I rose and 
followed Case. The crowd opened again to let us 
through, but wider than before, the children on 
the skirts running and singing out, and as we two 
white men walked away they all stood and watched 
us. 

' And now,' said I, * what is all this about ? ' 

' The truth is, I can't rightly make it out myself. 
They have a down on you,' says Case. 

' Taboo a man because they have a down on 
him ! ' I cried. ' I never heard the like.' 

' It 's worse than that, you see,' said Case. * You 
ain't tabooed — I told you that couldn't be. The 
people won't go near you, Wiltshire, and there's 
where it is.' 

'They won't go near me? What do you mean 
by that ? Why won't they go near me ? ' I cried. 

Case hesitated. s Seems they 're frightened,' says 
he, in a low voice. 

I stopped dead short. ' Frightened ? ' I repeated. 
' Are you gone crazy, Case ? What are they 
frightened of?' 

' I wish I could make out,' Case answered, shak- 
ing his head. 'Appears like one of their tomfool 
superstitions. That's what I don't cotton to,' he 
said. ' It 's like the business about Vigours.' 
38 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

* I 'd like to know what you mean by that, and 
1 11 trouble you to tell me,' says I. 

' Well, you know, Vigours lit out and left all 
standing,' said he. ' It was some superstition 
business — I never got the hang of it ; but it began 
to look bad before the end.' 

* I 've heard a different story about that,' said I, 
' and I had better tell you so. I heard he ran away 
because of you.' 

' O ! well, I suppose he was ashamed to tell the 
truth,' says Case ; ' I guess he thought it silly. 
And it's a fact that I packed him off. "What 
would you do, old man ? " says he. — " Get," says 
I, " and not think twice about it." I was the 
gladdest kind of man to see him clear away. It 
ain't my notion to turn my back on a mate when 
he's in a tight place, but there was that much 
trouble in the village that I couldn't see where it 
might likely end. I was a fool to be so much about 
with Vigours. They cast it up to me to-day. 
Didn't you hear Maea — that 's the young chief, 
the big one — ripping out about "Vika"? That 
was him they were after. They don't seem to 
forget it, somehow.' 

'This is all very well,' said I, 'but it don't tell me 
what 's wrong ; it don't tell me what they 're afraid 
of — what their idea is.' 

* Well, I wish I knew,' said Case. ' I can't say 
fairer than that.' 

' You might have asked, I think,' says I. 
s And so I did,' says he. * But you must have 

39 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

seen for yourself, unless you're blind, that the 
asking got the other way. 1 11 go as far as I dare 
for another white man ; but when I find I 'm in the 
scrape myself, I think first of my own bacon. The 
loss of me is I 'm too good-natured^ And I '11 take 
the freedom of telling you you show a queer kind of 
gratitude to a man who's got into all this mess 
along of your affairs.' 

* There 's a thing I am thinking of,'' said I. * You 
were a fool to be so much about with Vigours. 
One comfort, you haven't been much about with 
me. I notide you 've never been inside my house. 
Own up now ; you had word of this before ? ' 

* It 's a fact I haven't been,' said he. ' It was an 
oversight, and I 'm sorry for it, Wiltshire. But 
about coming now, I '11 be quite plain.' 

' You mean you won't ? ' I asked. 

* Awfully sorry, old man, but that 's the size of it,' 
says Case. 

' In short, you 're afraid ? ' says I. 

* In short, I 'm afraid,' says he. 

* And I 'm still to be tabooed for nothing ? ' I asked. 
'I tell you you're not tabooed,' said he. 'The 

Kanakas won't go near you, that 's all. And who 's 
to make 'em ? We traders have a lot of gall, I must 
say ; we make these poor Kanakas take back their 
laws, and take up their taboos, and that whenever it 
happens to suit us. But you don't mean to say you 
expect a law obliging people to deal in your store 
whether they want to or not ? You don't mean to 
tell me you 've got the gall for that ? And if you 
40 



* 

THE BEACH OF FALESA 

had, it would be a queer thing to propose to me. I 
would just like to point out to you, Wiltshire, that 
I 'm a trader myself.' 

* I don't think I would talk of gall if I was you,' 
said I. ' Here 's about what it comes to, as well as 
I can make out : None of the people are to trade 
with me, and they 're all to trade with you. You 're 
to have the copra, and I 'm to go to the devil and 
shake myself. And I don't know any native, and 
you 're the only man here worth mention that speaks 
English, and you have the gall to up and hint to me 
my life 's in danger, and all you 've got to tell me is 
you don't know why ! ' 

' Well, it is all I have to tell you,' said he. * I 
don't know — I wish I did.' 

* And so you turn your back and leave me to my- 
self ! Is that the position ? ' says I. 

* If you like to put it nasty,' says he. * I don't 
put it so. I say merely, " I 'm going to keep clear 
of you ; or, if I don't, I '11 get in danger for my- 
self.'" 

* Well,' says I, ' you 're a nice kind of a white 
man !' 

' O, I understand ; you 're riled,' said he. * I 
would be, myself. I can make excuses.' 

* All right,' I said, ' go and make excuses some- 
where else. Here 's my way, there 's yours ! ' 

With that we parted, and I went straight home, 
in a hot temper, and found Uma trying on a lot of 
trade goods like a baby. 

' Here,' I said, ' you quit that foolery ! Here 's a 

4i 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

pretty mess to have made, as if I wasn't bothered 
enough anyway ! And I thought I told you to get 
dinner ! ' 

And then I believe I gave her a bit of the rough 
side of my tongue, as she deserved. She stood up 
at once, like a sentry to his officer ; for I must say 
she was always well brought up, and had a great 
respect for whites. 

' And now,' says I, ' you belong round here, you 're 
bound to understand this. What am I tabooed for, 
anyway? Or, if I ain't tabooed, what makes the 
folks afraid of me ? ' 

She stood and looked at me with eyes like 
saucers. 

* You no savvy ? ' she gasps at last. 

' No,' said I. ' How would you expect me to ? 
We don't have any such craziness where I come 
from.' 

' Ese no tell you ? ' she asked again. 

(Ese was the name the natives had for Case; it 
may mean foreign, or extraordinary ; or it might 
mean a mummy apple ; but most like it was only 
his own name misheard and put in a Kanaka 
spelling.) 

' Not much,' said I. 

' Damn Ese ! ' she cried. 

You might think it funny to hear this Kanaka 
girl come out with a big swear. No such thing. 
There was no swearing in her — no, nor anger ; she 
was beyond anger, and meant the word simple and 
serious. She stood there straight as she said it. I 
42 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

cannot justly say that I ever saw a woman look like 
that before or after, and it struck me mum. Then 
she made a kind of an obeisance, but it was the 
proudest kind, and threw her hands out open. 

' I 'shamed,' she said. * I think you savvy. Ese 
he tell me you savvy, he tell me you no mind, tell 
me you love me too much. Taboo belong me,' she 
said, touching herself on the bosom, as she had done 
upon our wedding-night. ' Now I go 'way, taboo he 
go 'way too. Then you get too much copra. You 
like more better, I think. To fa, alii,' says she in the 
native — ' Farewell, chief ! ' 

' Hold on ! ' I cried. 'Don't be in such a hurry.' 

She looked at me sidelong with a smile. 'You 
see, you get copra,' she said, the same as you might 
offer candies to a child. 

' Uma,' said I, ' hear reason. I didn't know, and 
that's a fact; and Case seems to have played it 
pretty mean upon the pair of us. But I do know 
now, and I don't mind ; I love you too much. You 
no go 'way, you no leave me, I too much sorry.' 

'You no love me,' she cried, 'you talk me bad 
words ! ' And she threw herself in a corner of the 
floor, and began to cry. 

Well, I 'm no scholar, but I wasn't born yester- 
day, and I thought the worst of that trouble was 
over. However, there she lay — her back turned, 
her face to the wall — and shook with sobbing like a 
little child, so that her feet jumped with it. It's 
strange how it hits a man when he's in love; for 
there 's no use mincing things — Kanaka and all, I 

43 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

was in love with her, or just as good. I tried to 
take her hand, but she would none of that. ' Uma,' 
I said, * there 's no sense in carrying on like this. I 
want you stop here, I want my little wifie, I tell 
you true.' 

* No tell me true,' she sobbed. 

'All right,' says I, 'I'll wait till you're through 
with this.' And I sat right down beside her on the 
floor, and set to smooth her hair with my hand. At 
first she wriggled away when I touched her ; then 
she seemed to notice me no more ; then her sobs 
grew gradually less, and presently stopped ; and the 
next thing I knew, she raised her face to mine. 

' You tell me true ? You like me stop ? ' she 
asked. 

* Uma,' I said, ' I would rather have you than all 
the copra in the South Seas,' which was a very 
big expression, and the strangest thing was that I 
meant it. 

She threw her arms about me, sprang close up, 
and pressed her face to mine in the island way of 
kissing, so that I was all wetted with her tears, and 
my heart went out to her wholly. I never had any- 
thing so near me as this little brown bit of a girl. 
Many things went together, and all helped to turn 
my head. She was pretty enough to eat ; it seemed 
she was my only friend in that queer place ; I was 
ashamed that I had spoken rough to her : and she 
was a woman, and my wife, and a kind of a baby 
besides that I was sorry for ; and the salt of her tears 
was in my mouth. And I forgot Case and the 
44 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

natives ; and I forgot that I knew nothing of the 
story, or only remembered it to banish the remem- 
brance ; and I forgot that I was to get no copra, and 
so could make no livelihood ; and I forgot my em- 
ployers, and the strange kind of service I was doing 
them, when I preferred my fancy to their business ; 
and I forgot even that Uma was no true wife of 
mine, but just a maid beguiled, and that in a pretty 
shabby style. But that is to look too far on. I 
will come to that part of it next. 

It was late before we thought of getting dinner. 
The stove was out, and gone stone-cold ; but we 
fired up after a while, and cooked each a dish, helping 
and hindering each other, and making a play of it 
like children. I was so greedy of her nearness that 
I sat down to dinner with my lass upon my knee, 
made sure of her with one hand, and ate with the 
other. Ay, and more than that. She was the worst 
cook, I suppose, God made ; the things she set her 
hand to, it would have sickened an honest horse to 
eat of; yet I made my meal that day on Uma's 
cookery, and can never call to mind to have been 
better pleased. 

I didn't pretend to myself, and I didn't pretend 
to her. I saw I was clean gone ; and if she was to 
make a fool of me, she must. And I suppose it was 
this that set her talking, for now she made sure 
that we were friends. A lot she told me, sitting in 
my lap and eating my dish, as I ate hers, from 
foolery — a lot about herself and her mother and 
Case, all which would be very tedious, and fill 

45 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

sheets if I set it down in Beach de Mar, but which 
I must give a hint of in plain English, and one thing 
about myself, which had a very big effect on my 
concerns, as you are soon to hear. 

It seems she was born in one of the Line Islands ; 
had been only two or three years in these parts, 
where she had come with a white man, who was 
married to her mother and then died ; and only the 
one year in Falesa. Before that they had been a 
good deal on the move, trekking about after the 
white man, who was one of those rolling stones that 
keep going round after a soft job. They talk about 
looking for gold at the end of a rainbow ; but if a 
man wants an employment that '11 last him till he 
dies, let him start out on the soft-job hunt. There 's 
meat and drink in it too, and beer and skittles, for 
you never hear of them starving, and rarely see 
them sober; and as for steady sport, cock-fighting 
isn't in the same county with it. Anyway, this 
beachcomber carried the woman and her daughter 
all over the shop, but mostly to out-of-the-way 
islands, where there were no police, and he thought, 
perhaps, the soft job hung out. I 've my own view 
of this old party ; but I was just as glad he had kept 
Uma clear of Apia and Papeete and these flash 
towns. At last he struck Fale-alii on this island, got 
some trade — the Lord knows how ! — muddled it all 
away in the usual style, and died worth next to 
nothing, bar a bit of land at Falesa that he had got 
for a bad debt, which was what put it in the minds 
of the mother and daughter to come there and live. 
46 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

It seems Case encouraged them all he could, and 
helped to get their house built. He was very kind 
those days, and gave Uma trade, and there is no 
doubt he had his eye on her from the beginning. 
However, they had scarce settled, when up turned a 
young man, a native, and wanted to marry her. He 
was a small chief, and had some fine mats and old 
songs in his family, and was 'very pretty,' Uma 
said ; and, altogether, it was an extraordinary match 
for a penniless girl and an out-islander. 

At the first word of this I got downright sick with 
jealousy. 

' And you mean to say you would have married 
him ? ' I cried. 

' Ioe, yes,' said she. ' I like too much ! ' 

' Well ! ' I said. * And suppose I had come round 
after ? ' 

'I like you more better now,' said she. 'But, 
suppose I marry Ioane, I one good wife. I no 
common Kanaka. Good girl ! ' says she. 

Well, I had to be pleased with that ; but I 
promise you I didn't care about the business one 
little bit. And I liked the end of that yarn no 
better than the beginning. For it seems this pro- 
posal of marriage was the start of all the trouble. 
It seems, before that, Uma and her mother had been 
looked down upon, of course, for kinless folk and 
out-islanders, but nothing to hurt ; and, even when 
Ioane came forward, there was less trouble at first 
than might have been looked for. And then, all of 
a sudden, about six months before my coming, Ioane 

47 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

backed out and left that part of the island, and from 
that day to this Uma and her mother had found 
themselves alone. None called at their house, none 
spoke to them on the roads. If they went to church, 
the other women drew their mats away and left 
them in a clear place by themselves. It was a 
regular excommunication, like what you read of in 
the Middle Ages; and the cause or sense of it 
beyond guessing. It was some tola pepelo, Uma 
said, some lie, some calumny ; and all she knew of 
it was that the girls who had been jealous of her 
luck with Ioane used to twit her with his desertion, 
and cry out, when they met her alone in the woods, 
that she would never be married. 'They tell me 
no man he marry me. He too much 'fraid,' she said. 

The only soul that came about them after this 
desertion was Master Case. Even he was chary of 
showing himself, and turned up mostly by night ; 
and pretty soon he began to table his cards and 
make up to Uma. I was still sore about Ioane, 
and when Case turned up in the same line of business 
I cut up downright rough. 

* Well,' I said, sneering, ' and I suppose you 
thought Case " very pretty " and " liked too 
much " ? ' 

'Now you talk silly,' said she. * White man, he 
come here, I marry him all-e-same Kanaka ; very 
well then, he marry me all-e-same white woman. 
Suppose he no marry, he go 'way, woman he stop. 
All-e-same thief, empty hand, Tonga-heart — no can 
love ! Now you come marry me. You big heart — 
48 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

you no 'shamed island-girl. That thing I love you 
for too much. I proud.' 

I don't know that ever I felt sicker all the days of 
my life. I laid down my fork, and I put away ' the 
island-girl ' ; I didn't seem somehow to have any use 
for either, and I went and walked up and down in 
the house, and Uma followed me with her eyes, for 
she was troubled, and small wonder ! But troubled 
was no word for it with me. I so wanted, and so 
feared, to make a clean breast of the sweep that I 
had been. 

And just then there came a sound of singing out 
of the sea ; it sprang up suddenly clear and near, as 
the boat turned the headland, and Uma, running 
to the window, cried out it was * Misi ' come upon 
his rounds. 

I thought it was a strange thing I should be glad 
to have a missionary ; but, if it was strange, it was 
still true. 

'Uma,' said I r 'you stop here in this room, and 
don't budge a foot out of it till I come back.' 



CHAPTER III 

THE MISSIONARY 

As I came out on the verandah, the mission-boat 
was shooting for the mouth of the river. She was 
a long whale-boat painted white ; a bit of an awning 
astern ; a native pastor crouched on the wedge of 
19-D 49 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

the poop, steering ; some four-and-twenty paddles 
flashing and dipping, true to the boat-song ; and the 
missionary under the awning, in his white clothes, 
reading in a book, and set him up ! It was pretty 
to see and hear; there's no smarter sight in the 
islands than a missionary boat with a good crew and 
a good pipe to them ; and I considered it for half a 
minute, with a bit of envy perhaps, and then strolled 
down towards the river. 

From the opposite side there was another man 
aiming for the same place, but he ran and got there 
first. It was Case ; doubtless his idea was to keep 
me apart from the missionary, who might serve me 
as interpreter ; but my mind was upon other things. 
I was thinking how he had jockeyed us about the 
marriage, and tried his hand on Uma before ; and at 
the sight of him rage flew into my nostrils. 

* Get out of that, you low swindling thief!' I 
cried. 

' What 's that you say ? ' says he. 

I gave him the word again, and rammed it down 
with a good oath. ' And if ever I catch you within 
six fathoms of my house,' I cried, ' I '11 clap a bullet 
in your measly carcase.' 

' You must do as you like about your house,' said 
he, ' where I told you I have no thought of going ; 
but this is a public place.' 

' It 's a place where I have private business,' said 
I. ' I have no idea of a hound like you eaves- 
dropping, and I give you notice to clear out' 

' I don't take it, though,' says Case. 
5o 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

* I '11 show you, then,' said I. 

' We '11 have to see about that,' said he. 

He was quick with his hands, but he had neither 
the height nor the weight, being a flimsy creature 
alongside a man like me, and, besides, I was blazing 
to that height of wrath that I could have bit into a 
chisel. I gave him first the one and then the other, 
so that I could hear his head rattle and crack, and 
he went down straight. 

' Have you had enough ? ' cried I. But he only 
looked up white and blank, and the blood spread 
upon his face like wine upon a napkin. ' Have you 
had enough ? ' I cried again. * Speak up, and don't 
lie malingering there, or I '11 take my feet to you.' 

He sat up at that, and held his head — by the look 
of him you could see it was spinning — and the blood, 
poured on his pyjamas. 

* I 've had enough for this time,' says he, and he 
got up staggering, and went off by the way that 
he had come. 

The boat was close in ; I saw the missionary had 
laid his book to one side, and I smiled to myself. 
' He '11 know I 'm a man, anyway,' thinks I. 

This was the first time, in all my years in the 
Pacific, I had ever exchanged two words with any 
missionary, let alone asked one for a favour. I 
didn't like the lot — no trader does ; they look down 
upon us, and make no concealment; and, besides, 
they 're partly Kanakaised, and suck up with natives 
instead of with other white men like themselves. I 
had on a rig of clean striped pyjamas — for, of course, 

5i 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

I had dressed decent to go before the chiefs; but 
when I saw the missionary step out of this boat in 
the regular uniform, white duck clothes, pith helmet, 
white shirt and tie, and yellow boots to his feet, I 
could have bunged stones at him. As he came 
nearer, queering me pretty curious (because of the 
fight, I suppose), I saw he looked mortal sick, for 
the truth was he had a fever on, and had just had 
a chill in the boat. 

' Mr. Tarleton, I believe ? ' says I, for I had got 
his name. 

* And you, I suppose, are the new trader ? ' says 
he. 

' I want to tell you first that I don't hold with 
missions,' I went on, * and that I think you and the 
, likes of you do a sight of harm, filling up the natives 
with old wives' tales and bumptiousness.' 

* You are perfectly entitled to your opinions,' says 
he, looking a bit ugly, ' but I have no call to hear 
them.' 

' It so happens that you 've got to hear them,' I 
said. * I 'm no missionary, nor missionary lover ; 
I 'm no Kanaka, nor favourer of Kanakas — I 'm just 
a trader; I'm just a common, low-down, God- 
damned white man and British subject, the sort you 
would like to wipe your boots on. I hope that's 
plain ! ' 

'Yes, my man,' said he. 'It's more plain than 
creditable. When you are sober, you '11 be sorry for 
this.' 

He tried to pass on, but I stopped him with 

52 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

my hand. The Kanakas were beginning to growl. 
Guess they didn't like my tone, for I spoke to that 
man as free as I would to you. 

' Now, you can't say I 've deceived you,' said I, 
' and I can go on. I want a service — I want two 
services, in fact, — and, if you care to give me them, 
I '11 perhaps take more stock in what you call your 
Christianity.' 

He was silent for a moment. Then he smiled. 
' You are rather a strange sort of man,' says he. 

' I 'm the sort of man God made me,' says I. ' I 
don't set up to be a gentleman,' I said. 

* I am not quite so sure,' said he. * And what can 
I do for you, Mr. ? ' 

' Wiltshire,' I says, ' though I 'm mostly called 
Welsher ; but Wiltshire is the way it 's spelt, if the 
people on the beach could only get their tongues 
about it. And what do I want? Well, I'll tell 
you the first thing. I 'm what you call a sinner — 
what I call a sweep — and I want you to help me 
make it up to a person I 've deceived.' 

He turned and spoke to his crew in the native. 
' And now I am at your service,' said he, * but only 
for the time my crew are dining. I must be much 
farther down the coast before night. I was delayed 
at Papa-malulu till this morning, and I have an 
engagement in Fale-alii to-morrow night. ' 

I led the way to my house in silence, and rather 
pleased with myself for the way I had managed the 
talk, for I like a man to keep his self-respect. 

' I was sorry to see you fighting,' says he. 

53 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

* O, that 's part of the yarn I want to tell you,' I 
said. ' That 's service number two. After you 've 
heard it you '11 let me know whether you 're sorry or 
not.' 

We walked right in through the store, and I was 
surprised to find Uma had cleared away the dinner 
things. This was so unlike her ways that I saw she 
had done it out of gratitude, and likedjier the better. 
She and Mr. Tarleton called each other by name, 
and he was very civil to her seemingly. But I 
thought little of that ; they can always find civility 
for a Kanaka, it 's us white men they lord it over. 
Besides, I didn't want much Tarleton just then. I 
was going to do my pitch. 

'Uma,' said I, 'give us your marriage certificate.' 
She looked put out. ' Come,' said I, ' you can trust 
me. Hand it up.' 

She had it about her person, as usual ; I believe 
she thought it was a pass to heaven, and if she died 
without having it handy she would go to hell. I 
couldn't see where she put it the first time, I 
couldn't see now where she took it from ; it seemed 
to jump into her hand like that Blavatsky business 
in the papers. But it 's the same way with all island 
women, and I guess they 're taught it when young. 

' Now,' said I, with the certificate in my hand, ' I 
was married to this girl by Black Jack the negro. 
The certificate was wrote by Case, and it 's a dandy 
piece of literature, I promise you. Since then I 've 
found that there 's a kind of cry in the place against 
this wife of mine, and so long as I keep her I cannot 
54 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

trade. Now, what would any man do in my place, 
if he was a man ? ' I said. * The first thing he would 
do is this, I guess.' And I took and tore up the 
certificate and bunged the pieces on the floor. 

' Aue/' 1 cried Uma, and began to clap her hands ; 
but I caught one of them in mine. 

'And the second thing that he would do,' said I, 
' if he was what I would call a man, and you would 
call a man, Mr. Tarleton, is to bring the girl right 
before you or any other missionary, and to up and 
say : " I was wrong married to this wife of mine, but 
I think a heap of her, and now I want to be married 
to her right." Fire away, Mr. Tarleton. And I 
guess you 'd better do it in native ; it '11 please the 
old lady,' I said, giving her the proper name of a 
man's wife upon the spot. 

So we had in two of the crew for to witness, and 
were spliced in our own house; and the parson 
prayed a good bit, I must say — but not so long as 
some — and shook hands with the pair of us. 

'Mr. Wiltshire,' he says, when he had made out 
the lines and packed off the witnesses, ' I have to 
thank you for a very lively pleasure. I have rarely 
performed the marriage ceremony with more grateful 
emotions.' 

That was what you would call talking. He was 
going on, besides, with more of it, and I was ready 
for as much taffy as he had in stock, for I felt good. 
But Uma had been taken up with something half 
through the marriage, and cut straight in. 

1 Alas. 

55 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

' How your hand he get hurt ? ' she asked. 

'You ask Case's head, old lady,' says I. 

She jumped with joy, and sang out. 

'You haven't made much of a Christian of this 
one,' says I to Mr. Tarleton. 

' We didn't think her one of our worst,' says he, 
' when she was at Fale-alii ; and if Uma bears malice 
I shall be tempted to fancy she has good cause.' 

' Well, there we are at service number two,' said I. 
' I want to tell you our yarn, and see if you can let a 
little daylight in.' 

' Is it long ? ' he asked. 

' Yes,' I cried ; ' it 's a goodish bit of a yarn ! ' 

' Well, 1 11 give you all the time I can spare,' 
says he, looking at his watch. ' But I must tell you 
fairly, I haven't eaten since five this morning, and, 
unless you can let me have something, I am not likely 
to eat again before seven or eight to-night,' 

' By God, we '11 give you dinner ! ' I cried. 

I was a little caught up at my swearing, just when 
all was going straight ; and so was the missionary, I 
suppose, but he made believe to look out of the 
window, and thanked us. 

So we ran him up a bit of a meal. I was bound 
to let the old lady have a hand in it, to show off, so 
I deputised her to brew the tea. I don't think I 
ever met such tea as she turned out. But that was 
not the worst, for she got round with the salt-box, 
which she considered an extra European touch, and 
turned my stew into sea-water. Altogether, Mr. 
Tarleton had a devil of a dinner of it ; but he had 
56 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

plenty entertainment by the way, for all the while 
that we were cooking, and afterwards, when he was 
making believe to eat, I kept posting him up on 
Master Case and the beach of Falesa, and he putting 
questions that showed he was following close. 

* Well,' said he at last, * I am afraid you have a 
dangerous enemy. This man Case is very clever, 
and seems really wicked. I must tell you I have 
had my eye on him for nearly a year, and have 
rather had the worst of our encounters. About the 
time when the last representative of your firm ran so 
suddenly away, I had a letter from Namu, the native 
pastor, begging me to come to Falesa at my earliest 
convenience, as his flock were all " adopting Catholic 
practices." I had great confidence in Namu ; I fear 
it only shows how easily we are deceived. No one 
could hear him preach and not be persuaded he was 
a man of extraordinary parts. All our islanders 
easily acquire a kind of eloquence, and can roll out 
and illustrate, with a great deal of vigour and fancy, 
second-hand sermons ; but Namu's sermons are his 
own, and I cannot deny that I have found them 
means of grace. Moreover, he has a keen curiosity 
in secular things, does not fear work, is clever at 
carpentering, and has made himself so much re- 
spected among the neighbouring pastors that we call 
him, in a jest which is half serious, the Bishop of the 
East. In short, I was proud of the man ; all the 
more puzzled by his letter, and took an occasion to 
come this way. The morning before my arrival, 
Vigours had been sent on board the Lion, and 

57 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

Namu was perfectly at his ease, apparently ashamed 
of his letter, and quite unwilling to explain it. This, 
of course, I could not allow, and he ended by con- 
fessing that he had been much concerned to find his 
people using the sign of the cross, but since he had 
learned the explanation his mind was satisfied. For 
Vigours had the Evil Eye, a common thing* in a 
country of Europe called Italy, where men were 
often struck dead by that kind of devil, and it 
appeared the sign of the cross was a charm against 
its power. 

'"And I explain it, Misi," said Namu, "in this 
way : The country in Europe is a Popey country, 
and the devil of the Evil Eye may be a Catholic 
devil, or, at least, used to Catholic ways. So then 
I reasoned thus : If this sign of the cross were used 
in a Popey manner it would be sinful, but when it 
is used only to protect men from a devil, which is 
a thing harmless in itself, the sign too must be, as a 
bottle is neither good nor bad, harmless. For the 
sign is neither good nor bad. But if the bottle be 
full of gin, the gin is bad ; and if the sign be made 
in idolatry bad, so is the idolatry." And, very like 
a native pastor, he had a text apposite about the 
casting out of devils. 

' " And who has been telling you about the Evil 
Eye?" I asked. 

' He admitted it was Case. Now, I am afraid you 

will think me very narrow, Mr. Wiltshire, but I 

must tell you I was displeased, and cannot think a 

trader at all a good man to advise or have an influ- 

58 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

ence upon my pastors. And, besides, there had 
been some flying talk in the country of old Adams, 
and his being poisoned, to which I had paid no great 
heed ; but it came back to me at the moment. 

' " And is this Case a man of a sanctified life ? " I % 

asked. 

' He admitted he was not ; for, though he did not 
drink, he was profligate with women, and had no 
religion. 

' " Then," said I, " I think the less you have to do 
with him the better." 

* But it is not easy to have the last word with a 
man like Narau. He was ready in a moment with 
an illustration. " Misi," said he, " you have told me 
there were wise men, not pastors, not even holy, 
who knew many things useful to be taught — about 
trees for instance, and beasts, and to print books, 
and about the stones that are burned to make knives 
of. Such men teach you in your college, and you 
learn from them, but take care not to learn to be 
unholy. Misi, Case is my college." 

' I knew not what to say. Mr. Vigours had 
evidently been driven out of Falesa by the machina- 
tions of Case, and with something not very unlike 
the collusion of my pastor. I called to mind it was 
Namu who had reassured me about Adams and 
traced the rumour to the ill-will of the priest. And 
I saw I must inform myself more thoroughly from 
an impartial source. There is an old rascal of a chief 
here, Faiaso, whom I daresay you saw to-day at the 
council ; he has been all his life turbulent and sly, a 

59 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

great fomenter of rebellions, and a thorn in the side 
of the mission and the island. For all that he is 
very shrewd, and, except in politics or about his own 
misdemeanours, a teller of the truth. I went to his 
v house, told him what I had heard, and besought him 

to be frank. I do not think I had ever a more pain- 
ful interview. Perhaps you will understand me, 
Mr. Wiltshire, if I tell you that I am perfectly 
serious in these old wives' tales with which you 
reproached me, and as anxious to do well for these 
islands as you can be to please and to protect your 
pretty wife. And you are to remember that I 
thought Namu a paragon, and was proud of the 
man as one of the first ripe fruits of the mission. 
And now I was informed that he had fallen in a sort 
of dependence upon Case. The beginning of it was 
not corrupt ; it began, doubtless, in fear and respect, 
produced by trickery and pretence ; but I was shocked 
to find that another element had been lately added, 
that Namu helped himself in the store, and was 
believed to be deep in Case's debt. Whatever the 
trader said, that Namu believed with trembling. He 
was not alone in this ; many in the village lived in a 
similar subjection ; but Namu's case was the most 
influential, it was through Namu Case had wrought 
most evil ; and with a certain following among the 
chiefs, and the pastor in his pocket, the man was as 
good as master of the village. You know something 
of Vigours and Adams, but perhaps you have never 
heard of old Underhill, Adams' predecessor. He 
was a quiet, mild old fellow, I remember, and we 
60 






THE BEACH OF FALESA 

were told he had died suddenly : white men die very 
suddenly in Falesa. The truth, as I now heard it, 
made my blood run cold. It seems he was struck 
with a general palsy, all of him dead but one eye, 
which he continually winked. Word was started 
that the helpless old man was now a devil, and this 
vile fellow Case worked upon the natives' fears, 
which he professed to share, and pretended he durst 
not go into the house alone. At last a grave was 
dug, and the living body buried at the far end of the 
village. Namu, my pastor, whom I had helped to 
educate, offered up a prayer at the hateful scene. 

* I felt myself in a very difficult position. Perhaps 
it was my duty to have denounced Namu and had 
him deposed. Perhaps I think so now, but at the 
time it seemed less clear. He had a great influence, 
it might prove greater than mine. The natives are 
prone to superstition ; perhaps by stirring them up 
I might but ingrain and spread these dangerous 
fancies. And Namu besides, apart from this novel 
and accursed influence, was a good pastor, an able 
man, and spiritually minded. Where should I look 
for a better ? How was I to find as good ? At that 
moment, with Namu's failure fresh in my view, the 
work of my life appeared a mockery ; hope was 
dead in me. I would rather repair such tools as I 
had than go abroad in quest of others that must 
certainly prove worse ; and a scandal is, at the best, 
a thing to be avoided when humanly possible. 
Right or wrong, then, I determined on a quiet 
course. All that night I denounced and reasoned 

6 1 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

with the erring pastor, twitted him with his ignorance 
and want of faith, twitted him with his wretched 
attitude, making clean the outside of the cup and 
platter, callously helping at a murder, childishly 
flying in excitement about a few childish, unneces- 
sary, and inconvenient gestures ; and long before 
day I had him on his knees, and bathed in the 
tears of what seemed a genuine repentance. On 
Sunday I took the pulpit in the morning, and 
preached from First Kings, nineteenth, on the fire, 
the earthquake, and the voice, distinguishing the 
true spiritual power, and referring with such plain- 
ness as I dared to recent events in Falesa. The 
effect produced was great, and it was much increased 
when Namu rose in his turn and confessed that he 
had been wanting in faith and conduct, and was 
convinced of sin. So far, then, all was well ; but 
there was one unfortunate circumstance. It was 
nearing the time of our " May " in the island, when 
the native contributions to the missions are received ; 
it fell in my duty to make a notification on the 
subject, and this gave my enemy his chance, by 
which he was not slow to profit. 

' News of the whole proceedings must have been 
carried to Case as soon as church was over, and the 
same afternoon he made an occasion to meet me in 
the midst of the village. He came up with so much 
intentness and animosity that I felt it would be 
damaging to avoid him. 

• " So," says he, in native, " here is the holy man. 
He has been preaching against me, but that was not 
62 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

in his heart. He has been preaching upon the 
love of God ; but that was not in his heart, it was 
between his teeth. Will you know what was in 
his heart ? " cries he. " I will show it you ! " And, 
making a snatch at my head, he made believe to 
pluck out a dollar, and held it in the air. 

* There went that rumour through the crowd with 
which Polynesians receive a prodigy. As for myself, 
I stood amazed. The thing was a common conjur- 
ing trick, which I have seen performed at home a 
score of times ; but how was I to convince the 
villagers of that ? I wished I had learned legerdemain 
instead of Hebrew, that I might have paid the 
fellow out with his own coin. But there I was ; I 
could not stand there silent, and the best I could 
find to say was weak. 

'"I will trouble you not to lay hands on me 
again," said I. 

'"I have no such thought," said he, "nor will 
I deprive you of your dollar. Here it is," he said, 
and flung it at my feet. I am told it lay where it 
fell three days.' 

* I must say it was well played,' said I. 

* O ! he is clever,' said Mr. Tarleton, ' and you can 
now see for yourself how dangerous. He was a 
party to the horrid death of the paralytic; he is 
accused of poisoning Adams ; he drove Vigours out 
of the place by lies that might have led to murder ; 
and there is no question but he has now made up 
his mind to rid himself of you. How he means to 
try we have no guess ; only be sure it 's something 

63 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

new. There is no end to his readiness and inven- 
tion.' 

' He gives himself a sight of trouble,' says I. 
' And after all, what for ? ' 

' Why, how many tons of copra may they make in 
this district ? ' asked the missionary. 

' I daresay as much as sixty tons,' says I. 

' And what is the profit to the local trader ? ' he 
asked. 

' You may call it three pounds,' said I. 

.* Then you can reckon for yourself how much he 
does it for,' said Mr. Tarleton. 'But the more 
important thing is to defeat him. It is clear he 
spread some report against Uma, in order to isolate 
and have his wicked will of her. Failing of that, 
and seeing a new rival come upon the scene, he used 
her in a different way. Now, the first point to find 
out is about Namu. — Uma, when people began 
to leave you and your mother alone, what did 
Namu do ? ' 

* Stop away all-e-same,' says Uma. 

* I fear the dog has returned to his vomit,' said 
Mr. Tarleton. ' And now what am I to do for you ? 
I will speak to Namu, I will warn him he is ob- 
served ; it will be strange if he allow anything to go 
on amiss when he is put upon his guard. At the same 
time, this precaution may fail, and then you must 
turn elsewhere. You have two people at hand to 
whom you might apply. There is, first of all, the 
priest, who might protect you by the Catholic 
interest; they are a wretchedly small body, but 

64 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

they count two chiefs. And then there is old 
♦Faiaso. Ah ! if it had been some years ago you 
would have needed no one else ; but his in- 
fluence is much reduced ; it has gone into Maea's 
hands, and Maea, I fear, is one of Case's jackals. In 
fine, if the worst comes to the worst, you must send 
up or come yourself to Fale-alii, and, though I am 
not due at this end of the island for a month, I will 
just see what can be done.' 

So Mr. Tarleton said farewell; and half an hour 
later the crew were singing and the paddles flashing 
in the missionary boat. 



CHAPTER IV 

DEVIL-WORK 

Near a month went by without much doing. The 
same night of our marriage Galoshes called round, 
and made himself mighty civil, and got into a habit 
of dropping in about dark and smoking his pipe with 
the family. He could talk to Uma, of course, and 
started to teach me native and French at the same 
time. He was a kind old buffer, though the dirtiest 
you would wish to see, and he muddled me up with 
foreign languages worse than the tower of Babel. 

That was one employment we had, and it made 

me feel less lonesome ; but there was no profit in 

the thing, for though the priest came and sat and 

yarned, none of his folks could be enticed into my 

19— e 65 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

store ; and if it hadn't been for the other occupation 
I struck out there wouldn't have been a pound of 
copra in the house. This was the idea : Fa'avao 
(Uma's mother) had a score of bearing trees. Of 
course we could get no labour, being all as good as 
tabooed, and the two women and I turned to and 
made copra with our own hands. It was copra to 
make your mouth water when it was done — I never 
understood how much the natives cheated me till 
I had made that four hundred pounds of my own 
hand, — and it weighed so light I felt inclined to take 
and water it myself. 

When we were at the job a good many Kanakas 
used to put in the best of the day looking on, and 
once that nigger turned up. He stood back with 
the natives and laughed, and did the big don and 
the funny dog till I began to get riled. 

* Here, you nigger ! ' says I. 

*I don't address myself to you, Sah,' says the 
nigger. ' Only speak to gen'le'um.' 

' I know,' says I, * but it happens I was addressing 
myself to you, Mr. Black Jack. And all I want to 
know is just this : did you see Case's figure-head 
about a week ago ? ' 

* No, Sah,' says he. 

' That 's all right, then,' says I ; ' for I '11 show you 
the own brother to it, only black, in the inside of 
about two minutes.' 

And I began to walk towards him, quite slow, 
and my hands down ; only there was trouble in my 
eye, if anybody took the pains to look. 
66 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

* You 're a low obstropulous fellow, Sah,' says he. 

' You bet ! ' says I. 

By that time he thought I was about as near as 
convenient, and lit out so it would have done your 
heart good to see him travel. And that was all I 
saw of that precious gang until what I am about to 
tell you. 

It was one of my chief employments these days 
to go pot-hunting in the woods, which I found (as 
Case had told me) very rich in game. I have 
spoken of the cape which shut up the village and 
my station from the east. A path went about the 
end of it, and led into the next bay. A strong wind 
blew here daily, and as the line of the barrier reef 
stopped at the end of the cape, a heavy surf ran on 
the shores of the bay. A little cliffy hill cut the 
valley in two parts, and stood close on the beach ; 
and at high water the sea broke right on the face of 
it, so that all passage was stopped. Woody moun- 
tains hemmed the place all round ; the barrier to the 
east was particularly steep and leafy, the lower parts 
of it, along the sea, falling in sheer black cliffs 
streaked with cinnabar ; the upper part lumpy with 
the tops of the great trees. Some of the trees were 
bright green, and some red, and the sand of the 
beach as black as your shoes. Many birds hovered 
round the bay, some of them snow-white ; and the 
flying-fox (or vampire) flew there in broad daylight, 
gnashing its teeth. 

For a long while I came as far as this shooting, 
and went no farther. There was no sign of any 

67 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

path beyond, and the cocoa-palms in the front of 
the foot of the valley were the last this way. For 
the whole 'eye' of the island, as natives call the 
windward end, lay desert. From Falesa round about 
to Papa-malulu, there was neither house, nor man, 
nor planted fruit-tree ; and the reef being mostly 
absent, and the shores bluff, the sea beat direct 
among crags, and there was scarce a landing-place. 

I should tell you that after I began to go in the 
woods, although no one offered to come near my 
store, I found people willing enough to pass the 
time of day with me where nobody could see them ; 
and as I had begun to pick up native, and most of 
them had a word or two of English, I began to hold 
little odds and ends of conversation, not to much 
purpose to be sure, but they took off the worst of 
the feeling, for it 's a miserable thing to be made a 
leper of. 

It chanced one day towards the end of the month, 
that I was sitting in this bay in the edge of the 
bush, looking east, with a Kanaka. I had given 
him a fill of tobacco, and we were making out to 
talk as best we could ; indeed, he had more English 
than most. 

I asked him if there was no road going eastward. 

' One time one road,' said he. 'Now he dead.' 

' Nobody he go there ? ' I asked. 

' No good,' said he. ' Too much devil he stop 
there.' 

' Oho ! ' says I, ' got-um plenty devil, that bush ? ' 

'Man devil, woman devil; too much devil,' said 
68 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

my friend. * Stop there all-e-time. Man he go 
there, no come back.' 

I thought if this fellow was so well posted on 
devils, and spoke of them so free, which is not 
common, I had better fish for a little information 
about myself and Uma. 

' You think me one devil ? ' I asked. 

'No think devil,' said he soothingly. * Think 
all-e-same fool.' 

* Uma, she devil ? ' I asked again. 

' No, no ; no devil. Devil stop bush,' said the 
young man. 

I was looking in front of me across the bay, and 
I saw the hanging front of the woods pushed sud- 
denly open, and Case, with a gun in his hand, step 
forth into the sunshine on the black beach. He 
was got up in light pyjamas, near white, his gun 
sparkled, he looked mighty conspicuous ; and the 
land-crabs scuttled from all round him to their 
holes. 

' Hullo, my friend ! ' says I, ' you no talk all-e-same 
true. Ese he go, he come back.' 

* Ese no all-e-same ; Ese Tiapolo,' says my friend ; 
and, with a ' Good-bye,' slunk off among the trees. 

I watched Case all round the beach, where the 
tide was low ; and let him pass me on the homeward 
way to Falesa. He was in deep thought, and the 
birds seemed to know it, trotting quite near him on 
the sand, or wheeling and calling in his ears. When 
he passed me I could see by the working of his lips 
that he was talking to himself, and, what pleased me 

69 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

mightily, he had still my trade mark on his brow. 
I tell you the plain truth : I had a mind to give him 
a gunful in his ugly mug, but I thought better 
of it. 

All this time, and all the time I was following 
home, I kept repeating that native word, which I 
remembered by ' Polly, put the kettle on and make 
us all some tea,' tea-a-pollo. 

'Uma,' says I, when I got back, 'what does 
Tiapolo mean ? ' 

' Devil,' says she. 

' I thought aitu was the word for that,' I said. 

' Aitu 'nother kind of devil,' said she ; 'stop bush, 
eat Kanaka. Tiapolo big chief devil, stop home ; 
all-e-same Christian devil.' 

' Well then,' said I, ' I 'm no farther forward. 
How can Case be Tiapolo ? ' 

'No all-e-same,' said she. 'Ese belong Tiapolo; 
Tiapolo too much like ; Ese all-e-same his son. 
Suppose Ese he wish something, Tiapolo he make 
him.' 

' That 's mighty convenient for Ese,' says I. 'And 
what kind of things does he make for him ? ' 

Well, out came a rigmarole of all sorts of stories, 
many of which (like the dollar he took from Mr. 
Tarleton's head) were plain enough to me, but others 
I could make nothing of; and the thing that most 
surprised the Kanakas was what surprised me least — 
namely, that he would go in the desert among all 
the aitus. Some of the boldest, however, had ac- 
companied him, and had heard him speak with the 
70 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

dead and give them orders, and, safe in his protec- 
tion, had returned unscathed. Some said he had a 
church there, where he worshipped Tiapolo, and 
Tiapolo appeared to him ; others swore that there 
was no sorcery at all, that he performed his miracles 
by the power of prayer, and the church was no 
church, but a prison, in which he had confined a 
dangerous aitu. Namu had been in the bush with 
him once, and returned glorifying God for these 
wonders. Altogether, I began to have a glimmer 
of the man's position, and the means by which he 
had acquired it, and, though I saw he was a tough 
nut to crack, I was noways cast down. 

' Very well,' said I, ' I '11 have a look at Master 
Case's place of worship myself, and we '11 see about 
the glorifying.' 

At this Uma fell in a terrible taking ; if I went in 
the high bush I should never return ; none could go 
there but by the protection of Tiapolo. 

* I '11 chance it on God's,' said I. • I 'm a good 
sort of fellow, Uma, as fellows go, and I guess 
God '11 con me through.' 

She was silent for a while. 'I think,' said she, 
mighty solemn — and then, presently — ' Victoreea, he 
big chief?' 

* You bet ! ' said I. 

' He like you too much ? ' she asked again. 
I told her, with a grin, I believed the old lady was 
rather partial to me. 

* All right,' said she. * Victoreea he big chief, like 
you too much. No can help you here in Falesa ; no 

7i 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

can do — too far off. Maea he small chief — stop here. 
Suppose he like you — make you all right. All-e- 
same God and Tiapolo. God he big chief — got 
too much work. Tiapolo he small chief — he like too 
much make-see, work very hard.' 

* I '11 have to hand you over to Mr. Tarleton,' 
said I. 'Your theology 's out of its bearings, Uma.' 

However, we stuck to this business all the evening, 
and, with the stories she told me of the desert and 
its dangers, she came near frightening herself into a 
fit. I don't remember half a quarter of them, of 
course, for I paid little heed ; but two come back to 
me kind of clear. 

About six miles up the coast there is a sheltered 
cove they call Fanga-anaana — ' the haven full of 
caves. ' I 've seen it from the sea myself, as near as 
I could get my boys to venture in ; and it 's a little 
strip of yellow sand. Black cliffs overhang it, full 
of the black mouths of caves ; great trees overhang 
the cliffs, and dangle-down lianas ; and in one place, 
about the middle, a big brook pours over in a 
cascade. Well, there was a boat going by here, 
with six young men of Falesa, ' all very pretty,' Uma 
said, which was the loss of them. It blew strong, 
there was a heavy head sea, and by the time they 
opened Fanga-anaana, and saw the white cascade 
and the shady beach, they were all tired and thirsty, 
and their water had run out. One proposed to land 
and get a drink, and, being reckless fellows, they 
were all of the same mind except the youngest. 
Lotu was his name ; he was a very good young 
72 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

gentleman, and very wise ; and he held out that 
they were crazy, telling them the place was given 
over to spirits and devils and the dead, and there 
were no living folk nearer than six miles the one 
way, and maybe twelve the other. But they laughed 
at his words, and, being five to one, pulled in, 
beached the boat, and larMed. It was a wonderful 
pleasant place, Lotu said, and the water excellent. 
They walked round the beach, but could see nowhere 
any way to mount the cliffs, which made them easier 
in their mind ; and at last they sat down to make 
a meal on the food they had brought with them. 
They were scarce set, when there came out of the 
mouth of one of the black caves six of the most 
beautiful ladies ever seen : they had flowers in their 
hair, and the most beautiful breasts, and necklaces 
of scarlet seeds ; and began to jest with these young 
gentlemen, and the young gentlemen to jest back 
with them, all but Lotu. As for Lotu, he saw 
there could be no living woman in such a place, and 
ran, and flung himself in the bottom of the boat, 
and covered his face, and prayed. All the time the 
business lasted Lotu made one clean break of prayer, 
and that was all he knew of it, until his friends came 
back, and made him sit up, and they put to sea 
again out of the bay, which was now quite desert, 
and no word of the six ladies. But, what frightened 
Lotu most, not one of the five remembered anything 
of what had passed, but they were all like drunken 
men, and sang and laughed in the boat, and sky- 
larked. The wind freshened and came squally, and 

73 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

the sea rose extraordinary high ; it was such weather 
as any man in the islands would have turned his 
back to and fled home to Falesa ; but these five 
were like crazy folk, and cracked on all sail and 
drove their boat into the seas. Lotu went to the 
baling ; none of the others thought to help him, 
but sang and skylarked and carried on, and spoke 
singular things beyond a man's comprehension, and 
laughed out loud when they said them. So the rest 
of the day Lotu baled for his life in the bottom 
of the boat, and was all drenched with sweat and 
cold sea-water ; and none heeded him. Against all 
expectation, they came safe in a dreadful tempest to 
Papa-malulu, where the palms were singing out, and 
the cocoa-nuts flying like cannon-balls about the 
village green ; and the same night the five young 
gentlemen sickened, and spoke never a reasonable 
word until they died. 

' And do you %iean to tell me you can swallow a 
yarn like that ? ' I asked. 

She told me the thing was well known, and with 
handsome young men alone it was even common ; 
but this was the only case where five had been slain 
the same day and in a company by the love of the 
women-devils ; and it had made a great stir in 
the island, and she would be crazy if she doubted. 

' Well, anyway,' says I, ' you needn't be frightened 
about me. I 've no use for the women-devils. 
You 're all the women I want, and all the devil too, 
old lady.' 

To this she answered there were other sorts, and 
74 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

she had seen one with her own eyes. She had gone 
one day alone to the next bay, and, perhaps, got too 
near the margin of the bad place. The boughs 
of the high bush overshadowed her from the cant of 
the hill, but she herself was outside on a flat place, 
very stony, and growing full of young mummy- 
apples four and five feet high. It was a dark day in 
the rainy season, and now there came squalls that 
tore off the leaves and sent them flying, and now it 
was all still as in a house. It was in one of these 
still times that a whole gang of birds and flying 
foxes came pegging out of the bush like creatures 
frightened. Presently after she heard a rustle nearer 
hand, and saw, coming out of the margin of the 
trees, among the mummy-apples, the appearance of 
a lean grey old boar. It seemed to think as it came, 
like a person ; and all of a sudden, as she looked at 
it coming, she was aware it was no boar, but a thing 
that was a man, with a man's thoughts. At that 
she ran, and the pig after her, and as the pig ran it 
holla'd aloud, so that the place rang with it. 

'I wish I had been there with my gun,' said I. 
' I guess that pig would have holla'd so as to surprise 
himself.' 

But she told me a gun was of no use with the 
like of these, which were the spirits of the dead. 

Well, this kind of talk put in the evening, which 
was the best of it ; but of course it didn't change my 
notion, and the next day, with my gun and a good 
knife, I set off upon a voyage of discovery. I made, 
as near as I could, for the place where I had seen 

75 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

Case come out ; for if it was true he had some kind 
of establishment in the bush I reckoned I should 
find a path. The beginning of the desert was 
marked off by a wall, to call it so, for it was more of 
a long mound of stones. They say it reaches right 
across the island, but how they know it is another 
question, for I doubt if any one has made the journey 
in a hundred years, the natives sticking chiefly to 
the sea, and their little colonies along the coast, and 
that part being mortal high and steep and full of 
cliffs. Up to the west side of the wall the ground 
has been cleared, and there are cocoa palms and 
mummy-apples and guavas, and lots of sensitive. 
Just across, the bush begins outright ; high bush at 
that, trees going up like the masts of ships, and 
ropes of liana hanging down like a ship's rigging, 
and nasty orchids growing in the forks like funguses. 
The ground where there was no underwood looked 
to be a heap of boulders. I saw many green pigeons 
which I might have shot, only I was there with a 
different idea. A number of butterflies flopped up 
and down along the ground like dead leaves ; some- 
times I would hear a bird calling, sometimes the 
wind overhead, and always the sea along the coast. 

But the queerness of the place it 's more difficult 
to tell of, unless to one who has been alone in the 
high bush himself. The brightest kind of a day it 
is always dim down there. A man can see to the 
end of nothing ; whichever way he looks the wood 
shuts up, one bough folding with another like the 
fingers of your hand ; and whenever he listens he 
76 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

hears always something new — men talking, children 
laughing, the strokes of an axe a far way ahead of 
him, and sometimes a sort of a quick, stealthy scurry 
near at hand that makes him jump and look to his 
weapons. It 's all very well for him to tell himself 
that he 's alone, bar trees and birds ; he can't make 
out to believe it ; whichever way he turns the whole 
place seems to be alive and looking on. Don't think 
it was Uma's yarns that put me out ; I don't value 
native talk a fourpenny-piece ; it 's a thing that 's 
natural in the bush, and that 's the end of it. 

As I got near the top of the hill, for the ground 
of the wood goes up in this place steep as a ladder, 
the wind began to sound straight on, and the leaves 
to toss and switch open and let in the sun. This 
suited me better ; it was the same noise all the time, 
and nothing to startle. Well, I had got to a place 
where there was an underwood of what they call 
wild cocoa-nut — mighty pretty with its scarlet fruit — 
when there came a sound of singing in the wind 
that I thought I had never heard the like of. It 
was all very fine to tell myself it was the branches ; 
I knew better. It was all very fine to tell myself it 
was a bird ; I knew never a bird that sang like that. 
It rose and swelled, and died away and swelled 
again ; and now I thought it was like some one 
weeping, only prettier ; and now I thought it was 
like harps ; and there was one thing I made sure of, 
it was a sight too sweet to be wholesome in a place 
like that. You may laugh if you like ; but I declare 
I called to mind the six young ladies that came> 

n 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

with their scarlet necklaces, out of the cave at 
Fanga-anaana, and wondered if they sang like that. 
We laugh at the natives and their superstitions ; 
but see how many traders take them up, splendidly 
educated white men, that have been book-keepers 
(some of them) and clerks in the old country. It's 
my belief a superstition grows up in a place like the 
different kind of weeds ; and as I stood there and 
listened to that wailing I twittered in my shoes. 

You may call me a coward to be frightened; I 
thought myself brave enough to go on ahead. But 
I went mighty carefully, with my gun cocked, spying 
all about me like a hunter, fully expecting to see a 
handsome young woman sitting somewhere in the 
bush, and fully determined (if I did) to try her with 
a charge of duck-shot. And sure enough, I had not 
gone far when I met with a queer thing. The wind 
came on the top of the wood in a strong puff, the 
leaves in front of me burst open, and I saw for a 
second something hanging in a tree. It was gone 
in a wink, the puff blowing by and the leaves closing. 
I tell you the truth : I had made up my mind to see 
an aitu ; and if the thing had looked like a pig or 
a woman, it wouldn't have given me the same turn. 
The trouble was that it seemed kind of square, and 
the idea of a square thing that was alive and sang 
knocked me sick and silly. I must have stood quite 
a while ; and I made pretty certain it was right out 
of the same tree that the singing came. Then I 
began to come to myself a bit. 

' Well,' says I, ' if this is really so, if this is a place 
78 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

where there are square things that sing, I 'm gone 
up anyway. Let's have my fun for my money.' 

But I thought I might as well take the off chance 
of a prayer being any good ; so I plumped on my 
knees and prayed out loud ; and all the time I was 
praying the strange sounds came out of the tree, and 
went up and down, and changed, for all the world 
like music, only you could see it wasn't human — 
there was nothing there that you could whistle. 

As soon as I had made an end in proper style, 
I laid down my gun, stuck my knife between my 
teeth, walked right up to that tree, and began to 
climb. I tell you my heart was like ice. But pre- 
sently, as I went up, I caught another glimpse of 
the thing, and that relieved me, for I thought it 
seemed like a box ; and when I had got right up to 
it I near fell out of the tree with laughing. 

A box it was, sure enough, and a candle-box at 
that, with the brand upon the side of it ; and it had 
banjo-strings stretched so as to sound when the 
wind blew. I believe they call the thing a Tyrolean 1 
harp, whatever that may mean. 

'Well, Mr. Case,' said I, 'you've frightened me 
once, but I defy you to frighten me again,' I says, 
and slipped down the tree, and set out again to find 
my enemy's head office, which I guessed would not 
be far away. 

The undergrowth was thick in this part ; I 
couldn't see before my nose, and must burst my way 
through by main force and ply the knife as I went, 

1 JSolian. 

79 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

slicing the cords of the lianas and slashing down 
whole trees at a blow. I call them trees for the 
bigness, but in truth they were just big weeds, and 
sappy to cut through like carrot. From all this 
crowd and kind of vegetation, I was just thinking 
to myself, the place might have once been cleared, 
when I came on my nose over a pile of stones, and 
saw in a moment it was some kind of a work of 
man. The Lord knows when it was made or when 
deserted, for this part of the island has lain undis- 
turbed since long before the whites came. A few 
steps beyond I hit into the path I had been always 
looking for. It was narrow, but well beaten, and I 
saw that Case had plenty of disciples. It seems, 
indeed, it was a piece of fashionable boldness to 
venture up here with the trader, and a young man 
scarce reckoned himself grown till he had got his 
breech tattooed, for one thing, and seen Case's devils 
for another. This is mighty like Kanakas ; but, if 
you look at it another way, it 's mighty like white 
folks too. 

A bit along the path I was brought to a clear 
stand, and had to rub my eyes. There was a wall 
in front of me; the path passing it by a gap ; it was 
tumbledown, and plainly very old, but built of big 
stones very well laid ; and there is no native alive 
to-day upon that island that could dream of such a 
piece of building. Along all the top of it was a line 
of queer figures, idols or scarecrows, or what not. 
They had carved and painted faces, ugly to view, 
their eyes and teeth were of shell, their hair and their 
80 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

bright clothes blew in the wind, and some of them 
worked with the tugging. There are islands up 
west where they make these kind of figures till 
to-day ; but if ever they were made in this island, 
the practice and the very recollection of it are now 
long forgotten. And the singular thing was that all 
these bogies were as fresh as toys out of a shop. 

Then it came in my mind that Case had let out 
to me the first day that he was a good forger of 
island curiosities, a thing by which so many traders 
turn an honest penny. And with that I saw the 
whole business, and how this display served the 
man a double purpose : first of all, to season his 
curiosities, and then to frighten those that came to 
visit him. 

But I should tell you (what made the thing more 
curious) that all the time the Tyrolean harps were 
harping round me in the trees, and even while I 
looked, a green-and -yellow bird (that, I suppose, 
was building) began to tear the hair off the head of 
one of the figures. 

A little farther on I found the best curiosity of 
the museum. The first I saw of it was a longish 
mound of earth with a twist to it. Digging off the 
earth with my hands, I found underneath tarpaulin 
stretched on boards, so that this was plainly the roof 
of a cellar. It stood right on the top of the hill, 
and the entrance was on the far side, between two 
rocks, like the entrance to a cave. I went as far in 
as the bend, and, looking round the corner, saw a 
shining face. It was big and ugly, like a pantomime 
19— f 81 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

mask, and the brightness of it waxed and dwindled, 
and at times it smoked. 

' Oho ! ' says I, ' luminous paint ! ' 

And I must say I rather admired the man's 
ingenuity. With a box of tools and a few mighty 
simple contrivances he had made out to have a devil 
of a temple. Any poor Kanaka brought up here in 
the dark, with the harps whining all round him, and 
shown that smoking face in the bottom of a hole, 
would make no kind of doubt but he had seen and 
heard enough devils for a lifetime. It 's easy to find 
out what Kanakas think. Just go back to yourself 
any way round from ten to fifteen years old, and 
there 's an average Kanaka. There are some pious, 
just as there are pious boys ; and the most of them, 
like the boys again, are middling honest, and yet 
think it rather larks to steal, and are easy scared, and 
rather like to be so. I remember a boy I was at 
school with at home who played the Case business. 
He didn't know anything, that boy ; he couldn't do 
anything ; he had no luminous paint and no Tyrolean 
harps ; he just boldly said he was a sorcerer, and 
frightened us out of our boots, and we loved it. 
And then it came in my mind how the master had 
once flogged that boy, and the surprise we were all 
in to see the sorcerer catch it and bum like anybody 
else. Thinks I to myself, ' I must find some way of 
fixing it so for Master Case.' And the next moment 
I had my idea. 

I went back by the path, which, when once you 
had found it, was quite plain and easy walking ; and 
82 






THE BEACH OF FALESA 

when I stepped out on the black sands, who should 
I see but Master Case himself! I cocked my gun 
and held it handy, and we marched up and passed 
without a word, each keeping the tail of his eye on 
the other ; and no sooner had we passed than we 
each wheeled round like fellows drilling, and stood 
face to face. We had each taken the same notion 
in his head, you see, that the other fellow might give 
him the load of his gun in the stern. 

* You 've shot nothing,' says Case. 

' I 'm not on the shoot to-day,' said I. 

' Well, the devil go with you for me,' says he. 

' The same to you,' says I. 

But we stuck just the way we were ; no fear of 
either of us moving. 

Case laughed. 'We can't stop here all day, 
though,' said he. 

* Don't let me detain you,' says I. 

He laughed again. 'Look here, Wiltshire, do 
you think me a fool ? ' he asked. 

'More of a knave, if you want to know,' says I. 

' Well, do you think it would better me to shoot 
you here, on this open beach ? ' said he. ' Because I 
don't. Folks come fishing every day. There may 
be a score of them up the valley now, making copra ; 
there might be half a dozen on the hill behind you, 
after pigeons ; they might be watching us this 
minute, and I shouldn't wonder. I give you my 
word I don't want to shoot you. Why should I ? 
You don't hinder me any. You haven't got one 
pound of copra but what you made with your own 

83 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

hands, like a negro slave. You're vegetating — 
that 's what I call it — and I don't care where you 
vegetate, nor yet how long. Give me your word 
you don't mean to shoot me? and I '11 give you a lead 
and walk away.' 

'Well, said I, 'you're frank and pleasant, ain't 
you ? And I '11 be the same. I don't mean to shoot 
you to-day. Why should I ? This business is be- 
ginning ; it ain't done yet, Mr. Case. I 've given 
you one turn already ; I can see the marks of my 
knuckles on your head to this blooming hour, and 
I 've more cooking for you. I 'm not a paralee, like 
Underhill. My name ain't Adams, and it ain't 
Vigours ; and I mean to show you that you 've met 
your match.' 

' This is a silly way to talk,' said he. ' This is not 
the talk to make me move on with.' 

' All right/ said I, ' stay where you are. I ain't 
in any hurry, and you know it. I can put in a day 
on this beach and never mind. I ain't got any 
copra to bother with. I ain't got any luminous 
paint to see to.' 

I was sorry I said that last, but it whipped out 
before I knew. I could see it took the wind out of 
his sails, and he stood and stared at me with his 
brow drawn up. Then I suppose he made up his 
mind he must get to the bottom of this. 

' I take you at your word,' says he, and turned his 
back and walked right into the devil's bush. 

I let him go, of course, for I had passed my word. 
But I watched him as long as he was in sight, and 
84 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

after he was gone lit out for cover as lively as you 
would want to see, and went the rest of the way 
home under the bush, for I didn't trust him sixpence- 
worth. One thing I saw, I had been ass enough to 
give him warning, and that which I meant to do I 
must do at once. 

You would think I had had about enough excite- 
ment for one morning, but there was another turn 
waiting me. As soon as I got far enough round the 
cape to see my house I made out there were strangers 
there ; a little farther, and no doubt about it. There 
was a couple of armed sentinels squatting at my 
door. I could only suppose the trouble about Uma 
must have come to a head, and the station been 
seized. For aught I could think, Uma was taken 
up already, and these armed men were waiting to do 
the like with me. 

However, as I came nearer, which I did at top 
speed, I saw there was a third native sitting on the 
verandah like a guest, and Uma was talking with 
him like a hostess. Nearer still I made out it was 
the big young chief, Maea, and that he was smiling 
away and smoking. And what was he smoking? 
None of your European cigarettes fit for a cat, not 
even the genuine big, knock-me-down native article 
that a fellow can really put in the time with if his 
pipe is broke — but a cigar, and one of my Mexicans 
at that, that I could swear to. At sight of this my 
heart started beating, and I took a wild hope in my 
head that the trouble was over, and Maea had come 
round. 

85 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

Uma pointed me out to him as I came up, and he 
met me at the head of my own stairs like a thorough 
gentleman. 

' Vilivili,' said he, which was the best they could 
make of my name, ' I pleased.' 

There is no doubt when an island chief wants to 
be civil he can do it. I saw the way things were 
from the word-go. There was no call for Uma to 
say to me : ' He no 'fraid Ese now, come bring 
copra.' I tell you I shook hands with that Kanaka 
like as if he was the best white man in Europe. 

The fact was, Case and he had got after the same 
girl ; or Maea suspected it, and concluded to make 
hay of the trader on the chance. He had dressed 
himself up, got a couple of his retainers cleaned and 
armed to kind of make the thing more public, and, 
just waiting till Case was clear of the village, came 
round to put the whole of his business my way. 
He was rich as well as powerful. I suppose that 
man was worth fifty thousand nuts per annum. I 
gave him the price of the beach and a quarter cent 
better, and as for credit, I would have advanced him 
the inside of the store and the fittings besides, I was 
so pleased to see him. I must say he bought like 
a gentleman : rice and tins and biscuits enough for a 
week's feast, and stuffs by the bolt. He was agree- 
able besides ; he had plenty fun to him ; and we 
cracked jests together, mostly through the inter- 
preter, because he had mighty little English, and my 
native was still off colour. One thing I made out : 
he could never really have thought much harm of 
86 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

Uma ; he could never have been really frightened, 
and must just have made believe from dodginess, 
and because he thought Case had a strong pull in 
the village and could help him on. 

This set me thinking that both he and I were in a 
tightish place. What he had done was to fly in the 
face of the whole village, and the thing might cost 
him his authority. More than that, after my talk 
with Case on the beach, I thought it might very 
well cost me my life. Case had as good as said he 
would pot me if ever I got any copra ; he would 
come home to find the best business in the village 
had changed hands ; and the best thing I thought I 
could do was to get in first with the potting. 

' See here, Uma,' says I, * tell him I 'm sorry I 
made him wait, but I was up looking at Case's 
Tiapolo store in the bush.' 

' He want savvy if you no 'fraid ? ' translated 
Uma. 

I laughed out. e Not much ! ' says I. * Tell him 
the place is a blooming toy-shop ! Tell him in 
England we give these things to the kids to play 
with.' 

'He want savvy if you hear devil sing?' she 
asked next. 

' Look here,' I said, ' I can't do it now because 
I 've got no banjo-strings in stock ; but the next 
time the ship comes round I '11 have one of these 
same contraptions right here in my verandah, and he 
can see for himself how much devil there is to it. 
Tell him, as soon as I can get the strings 1 11 make 

*7 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

one for his picaninnies. The name of the concern is 
a Tyrolean harp ; and you can tell him the name 
means in English that nobody but dam-fools give a 
cent for it.' 

This time he was so pleased he had to try his 
English again. * You talk true ? ' says he. 

' Rather ! ' said I. « Talk all-e-same Bible. — Bring 
out a Bible here, Uma, if you 've got such a thing, 
and 1 11 kiss it. Or, I '11 tell you what 's better still,' 
says I, taking a header, ' ask him if he 's afraid to go 
up there himself by day.' 

It appeared he wasn't ; he could venture as far as 
that by day and in company. 

* That's the ticket then!' said I. 'Tell him the 
man 's a fraud and the place foolishness, and if he '11 
go up there to-morrow he '11 see all that 's left of it. 
But tell him this, Uma, and mind he understands it : 
If he gets talking, it 's bound to come to Case, and 
I 'm a dead man ! I 'm playing his game, tell him, 
and if he says one word my blood will be at his door 
and be the damnation of him here and after.' 

She told him, and he shook hands with me up to 
the hilt, and says he : ' No talk. Go up to-mollow. 
You my friend ? ' 

' No, sir,' says I, 'no such foolishness. — I 've 
come here to trade, tell him, and not to make 
friends. But as to Case, 1 11 send that man to 
glory ! ' 

So off Maea went, pretty well pleased, as I could 
see. 



88 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

CHAPTER V 
NIGHT IN THE BUSH 

Well, I was committed now ; Tiapolo had to be 
smashed up before next day, and my hands were 
pretty full, not only with preparations, but with 
argument. My house was like a mechanics' debating 
society : Uma was so made up that I shouldn't go 
into the bush by night, or that, if I did, I was never 
to come back again. You know her style of arguing : 
you 've had a specimen about Queen Victoria and 
the devil ; and I leave you to fancy if I was tired of 
it before dark. 

At last I had a good idea. What was the use 
of casting my pearls before her ? I thought ; some of 
her own chopped hay would be likelier to do the 
business. 

' I '11 tell you what, then,' said I. * You fish out 
your Bible, and I '11 take that up along with me. 
That'll make me right.' 

She swore a Bible was no use. 

'That's just your Kanaka ignorance,' said I. 
' Bring the Bible out.' 

She brought it, and I turned to the title-page, 
where I thought there would likely be some English, 
and so there was. ' There ! ' said I. ' Look at that ! 
" London : Printed for the British and Foreign 
Bible Society, Blackfriars" and the date, which I 

89 



ISLAND NIGHTS ENTERTAINMENTS 

can't read, owing to its being in these X's. There 's 
no devil in hell can look near the Bible Society, 
Blackfriars. Why, you silly ! ' I said, ' how do you 
suppose we get along with our own aitus at home ? 
All Bible Society ! ' 

1 1 think you no got any,' said she. ' White man, 
he tell me you no got.' 

' Sounds likely, don't it ? ' I asked. ' Why would 
these islands all be chock full of them and none in 
Europe ? ' 

'Well, you no got bread-fruit,' said she. 

I could have torn my hair. ' Now, look here, old 
lady,' said I, * you dry up, for I 'm tired of you. I '11 
take the Bible, which '11 put me as straight as the 
mail, and that 's the last word I 've got to say.' 

The night fell extraordinary dark, clouds coming 
up with sundown and overspreading all ; not a star 
showed ; there was only an end of a moon, and that 
not due before the small hours. Round the village, 
what with the lights and the fires in the open 
houses, and the torches of many fishers moving on 
the reef, it kept as gay as an illumination ; but the 
sea and the mountains and woods were all clean 
gone. I suppose it might be eight o'clock when I 
took the road, laden like a donkey. First there was 
that Bible, a book as big as your head, which I had 
let myself in for by my own tomfoolery. Then 
there was my gun, and knife, and lantern, and patent 
matches, all necessary. And then there was the real 
plant of the affair in hand, a mortal weight of gun- 
powder, a pair of dynamite fishing bombs, and two 
90 






THE BEACH OF FALESA 

or three pieces of slow match that I had hauled out 
of the tin cases and spliced together the best way I 
could; for the match was only trade stuff, and a 
man would be crazy that trusted it. Altogether, 
you see, I had the materials of a pretty good blow- 
up ! Expense was nothing to me ; I wanted that 
thing done right. 

As long as I was in the open, and had the lamp in 
my house to steer by, I did well. But when I got 
to the path, it fell so dark I could make no headway, 
walking into trees and swearing there, like a man 
looking for the matches in his bedroom. I knew it 
was risky to light up, for my lantern would be visible 
all the way to the point of the cape, and as no one 
went there after dark, it would be talked about, and 
come to Case's ears. But what was I to do ? I had 
either to give the business over and lose caste with 
Maea, or light up, take my chance, and get through 
the thing the smartest I was able. 

As long as I was on the path I walked hard, but 
when I came to the black beach I had to run. For 
the tide was now nearly flowed ; and to get through 
with my powder dry between the surf and the steep 
hill took all the quickness I possessed. As it was, 
even, the wash caught me to the knees, and I came 
near falling on a stone. All this time the hurry I 
was in, and the free air and smell of the sea, kept 
my spirits lively ; but when I was once in the bush 
and began to climb the path I took it easier. The 
fearsomeness of the wood had been a good bit rubbed 
off for me by Master Case's banjo-strings and graven 

9i 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

images, yet I thought it was a dreary walk, and 
guessed, when the disciples went up there, they 
must be badly scared. The light of the lantern, 
striking among all these trunks and forked branches 
and twisted rope-ends of lianas, made the whole 
place, or all that you could see of it, a kind of a 
puzzle of turning shadows. They came to meet 
you, solid and quick like giants, and then span off 
and vanished ; they hove up over your head like 
clubs, and flew away into the night like birds. The 
floor of the bush glimmered with dead wood, the 
way the match-box used to shine after you had 
struck a lucifer. Big cold drops fell on me from 
the branches overhead like sweat. There was no 
wind to mention ; only a little icy breath of a land- 
breeze that stirred nothing; and the harps were 
silent. 

The first landfall I made was when I got through 
the bush of wild cocoa-nuts, and came in view of the 
bogies on the wall. Mighty queer they looked by 
the shining of the lantern, with their painted faces 
and shell eyes, and their clothes and their hair 
hanging. One after another 1 pulled them all up 
and piled them in a bundle on the cellar roof, so as 
they might go to glory with the rest. Then I chose 
a place behind one of the big stones at the entrance, 
buried my powder and the two shells, and arranged 
my match along the passage. And then I had a 
look at the smoking head, just for good-bye. It 
was doing fine. 

' Cheer up,' says I. ' You 're booked.' 
92 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

It was my first idea to light up and be getting 
homeward ; for the darkness and the glimmer of the 
dead wood and the shadows of the lantern made me 
lonely. But I knew where one of the harps hung ; 
it seemed a pity it shouldn't go with the rest ; and 
at the same time I couldn't help letting on to myself 
that I was mortal tired of my employment, and 
would like best to be at home and have the door 
shut. I stepped out of the cellar and argued it fore 
and back. There was a sound of the sea far down 
below me on the coast ; nearer hand not a leaf 
stirred ; I might have been the only living creature 
this side of Cape Horn. Well, as I stood there 
thinking, it seemed the bush woke and became full 
of little noises. Little noises they were, and nothing 
to hurt — a bit of a crackle, a bit of a rush — but the 
breath jumped right out of me and my throat went 
as dry as a biscuit. It wasn't Case I was afraid of, 
which would have been common-sense ; I never 
thought of Case ; what took me, as sharp as the 
colic, was the old wives' tales, the devil- women and 
the man-pigs. It was the toss of a penny whether 
I should run : but I got a purchase on myself, and 
stepped out, and held up the lantern (like a fool) and 
looked all round. 

In the direction of the village and the path there 
was nothing to be seen ; but when I turned inland 
it 's a wonder to me I didn't drop. There, coming 
right up out of the desert and the bad bush — there, 
sure enough, was a devil-woman, just as the way I 
had figured she would look. I saw the light shine 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

on her bare arms and her bright eyes, and there 
went out of me a yell so big that I thought it was 
my death. 

* Ah ! No sing out ! ' says the devil- woman, in a 
kind of a high whisper. ' Why you talk big voice ? 
Put out light ! Ese he come.' 

4 My God Almighty, Uma, is that you ? ' says I. 
( Ioe,' 1 says she. ' I come quick. Ese here soon.' 
' You come alone ? ' I asked. * You no 'fraid ? ' 

* Ah, too much 'fraid ! ' she whispered, clutching 
me. 'I think die.' 

' Well,' says I, with a kind of a weak grin, • I 'm 
not the one to laugh at you, Mrs. Wiltshire, for 
I 'm about the worst scared man in the South Pacific 
myself.' 

She told me in two words what brought her. I 
was scarce gone, it seems, when Fa'avao came in, 
and the old woman had met Black Jack running as 
hard as he was fit from our house to Case's. Uma 
neither spoke nor stopped, but lit right out to come 
and warn me. She was so close at my heels that 
the lantern was her guide across the beach, and 
afterwards, by the glimmer of it in the trees, she 
got her line up hill. It was only when I had got to 
the top or was in the cellar that she wandered Lord 
knows where ! and lost a sight of precious time, 
afraid to call out lest Case was at the heels of her, 
and falling in the bush, so that she was all knocked 
and bruised. That must have been when she got 
too far to the southward, and how she came to take 

1 Yes. 

94 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

me in the flank at last and frighten me beyond 
what I 've got the words to tell of. 

Well, anything was better than a devil- woman, 
but I thought her yarn serious enough. Black Jack 
had no call to be about my house, unless he was set 
there to watch ; and it looked to me as if my 
tomfool word about the paint, and perhaps some 
chatter of Maea's, had got us all in a clove hitch. 
One thing was clear : Uma and I were here for the 
night ; we daren't try to go home before day, and 
even then it would be safer to strike round up the 
mountain and come in by the back of the village, 
or we might walk into an ambuscade. It was plain, 
too, that the mine should be sprung immediately, or 
Case might be in time to stop it. 

I marched into the tunnel, Uma keeping tight 
hold of me, opened my lantern, and lit the match. 
The first length of it burned like a spill of paper, 
and I stood stupid, watching it burn, and thinking 
we were going aloft with Tiapolo, which faas none 
of my views. The second took to a better rate, 
though faster than I cared about ; and at that I got 
my wits again, hauled Uma clear of the passage, 
blew out and dropped the lantern, and the pair of us 
groped our way into the bush until I thought it 
might be safe, and lay down together by a tree. 

' Old lady,' I said, ' I won't forget this night. 
You're a trump, and that's what's wrong with you.' 

She humped herself close up to me. She had run 
out the way she was, with nothing on her but her 
kilt ; and she was all wet with the dews and the sea 

95 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

on the black beach, and shook straight on with cold 
and the terror of the dark and the devils. 

' Too much 'fraid,' was all she said. 

The far side of Case's hill goes down near as steep 
as a precipice into the next valley. We were on the 
very edge of it, and I could see the dead wood shine 
and hear the sea sound far below. I didn't care 
about the position, which left me no retreat, but I 
was afraid to change. Then I saw I had made a 
worse mistake about the lantern, which I should 
have left lighted, so that I could have had a crack at 
Case when he stepped into the shine of it. And 
even if I hadn't had the wit to do that, it seemed a 
senseless thing to leave the good lantern to blow up 
with the graven images. The thing belonged to me, 
after all, and was worth money, and might come 
in handy. If I could have trusted the match I 
might have run in still and rescued it. But who 
was going to trust the match ? You know what 
trade is. The stuff was good enough for Kanakas to 
go fishing with, where they've got to look lively 
anyway, and the most they risk is only to have their 
hand blown off. But for any one that wanted to 
fool around a blow-up like mine that match was 
rubbish. 

Altogether, the best I could do was to lie still, see 
my shot-gun handy, and wait for the explosion. But 
it was a solemn kind of a business. The blackness 
of the night was like solid ; the only thing you could 
see was the nasty bogy glimmer of the dead wood, 
and that showed you nothing but itself; and as for 
96 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

sounds, I stretched my ears till I thought I could 
have heard the match burn in the tunnel, and that 
bush was as silent as a coffin. Now and then there 
was a bit of a crack ; but whether it was near or 
far, whether it was Case stubbing his toes within 
a few yards of me, or a tree breaking miles away, 
I knew no more than the babe unborn. 

And then, all of a sudden, Vesuvius went off. It 
was a long time coming ; but when it came (though 
I say it that shouldn't) no man could ask to see 
a better. At first it was just a son of a gun of a 
row, and a spout of fire, and the wood lighted up 
so that you could see to read. And then the 
trouble began. Uma and I were half buried under 
a wagonful of earth, and glad it was no worse, for 
one of the rocks at the entrance of the tunnel was 
fired clean into the air, fell within a couple of 
fathoms of where we lay, and bounded over the edge 
of the hill, and went pounding down into the next 
valley. I saw I had rather under- calculated our 
distance, or overdone the dynamite and powder, 
which you please. 

And presently I saw I had made another slip. 
The noise of the thing began to die off, shaking the 
island ; the dazzle was over ; and yet the night 
didn't come back the way I expected. For the 
whole wood was scattered with red coals and brands 
from the explosion ; they were all round me on the 
flat ; some had fallen below in the valley, and some 
stuck and flared in the tree-tops. I had no fear of 
fire, for these forests are too wet to kindle. But the 
19— g 97 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

trouble was that the place was all lit up — not very 
bright, but good enough to get a shot by ; and the 
way the coals were scattered it was just as likely 
Case might have the advantage as myself. I looked 
all round for his white face, you may be sure ; but 
there was not a sign of him. As for Uma, the life 
seemed to have been knocked right out of her by 
the bang and blaze of it. 

There was one bad point in my game. One of 
the blessed graven images had come down all afire, 
hair and clothes and body, not four yards away from 
me. I cast a mighty noticing glance all round ; 
there was still no Case, and I made up my mind I 
must get rid of that burning stick before he came, 
or I should be shot there like a dog. 

It was my first idea to have crawled, and then I 
thought speed was the main thing, and stood half up 
to make a rush. The same moment from some- 
where between me and the sea there came a flash 
and a report, and a rifle bullet screeched in my ear. 
I swung straight round and up with my gun, but 
the brute had a Winchester, and before I could as 
much as see him his second shot knocked me over 
like a nine-pin. I seemed to fly in the air, then 
came down by the run and lay half a minute, silly ; 
and then I found my hands empty, and my gun had 
flown over my head as I fell. It makes a man 
mighty wide awake to be in the kind of box that 
I was in. I scarcely knew where I was hurt, or 
whether I was hurt or not, but turned right over on 
my face to crawl after my weapon. Unless you 
98 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

have tried to get about with a smashed leg you don't 
know what pain is, and I let out a howl like a 
bullock's. 

This was the unluckiest noise that ever I made in 
my life. Up to then Uma had stuck to her tree 
like a sensible woman, knowing she would be only 
in the way ; but as soon as she heard me sing out 
she ran forward. The Winchester cracked again, 
and down she went. 

I had sat up, leg and all, to stop her ; but when I 
saw her tumble I clapped down again where I was, 
lay still, and felt the handle of my knife. I had 
been scurried and put out before. No more of that 
for me. He had knocked over my girl, I had got 
to fix him for it; and I lay there and gritted my 
teeth, and footed up the chances. My leg was 
broke, my gun was gone. Case had still ten shots 
in his Winchester. It looked a kind of hopeless 
business. But I never despaired nor thought upon 
despairing : that man had got to go. 

For a goodish bit not one of us let on. Then I 
heard Case begin to move nearer in the bush, but 
mighty careful. The image had burned out ; there 
were only a few coals left here and there, and the 
wood was main dark, but had a kind of a low glow 
in it like a fire on its last legs. It was by this that 
I made out Case's head looking at me over a big 
tuft of ferns, and at the same time the brute saw me 
and shouldered his Winchester. I lay quite still, 
and as good as looked into the barrel : it was my 
last chance, but I thought my heart would have 

99 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

come right out of its bearings. Then he fired. 
Lucky for me it was no shot-gun, for the bullet 
struck within an inch of me and knocked the dirt 
in my eyes. 

Just you try and see if you can lie quiet, and let 
a man take a sitting shot at you and miss you by a 
hair. But I did, and lucky too. A while Case 
stood with the Winchester at the port-arms; then 
he gave a little laugh to himself, and stepped round 
the ferns. 

' Laugh ! ' thought I. * If you had the wit of a 
louse you would be praying ! ' 

I was all as taut as a ship's hawser or the spring 
of a watch, and as soon as he came within reach of 
me I had him by the ankle, plucked the feet right 
out from under him, laid him out, and was upon 
the top of him, broken leg and all, before he breathed. 
His Winchester had gone the same road as my 
shot-gun ; it was nothing to me — I defied him now. 
I 'm a pretty strong man anyway, but I never knew 
what strength was till I got hold of Case. He was 
knocked out of time by the rattle he came down 
with, and threw up his hands together, more like a 
frightened woman, so that I caught both of them 
with my left. This wakened him up, and he fas- 
tened his teeth in my forearm like a weasel. Much 
I cared. My leg gave me all the pain I had any use 
for, and I drew my knife and got it in the place. 

* Now,' said I, ' I 've got you ; and you 're gone 
up, and a good job too ! Do you feel the point of 
that? That's for Underhill ! And there's for 
ioo 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

Adams ! And now here 's for Uma, and that 's going 
to knock your blooming soul right out of you ! ' 

With that I gave him the cold steel for all I was 
worth. His body kicked under me like a spring 
sofa ; he gave a dreadful kind of a long moan, and 
lay still. 

* I wonder if you 're dead ? 1 hope so ! ' I thought, 
for my head was swimming. But I wasn't going to 
take chances ; I had his own example too close 
before me for that ; and I tried to draw the knife 
out to give it him again. The blood came over my 
hands, I remember, hot as tea ; and with that I 
fainted clean away, and fell with my head on the 
man's mouth. 

When I came to myself it was pitch dark ; the 
cinders had burned out; there was nothing to be 
seen but the shine of the dead wood, and I couldn't 
remember where I was nor why I was in such pain, 
nor what I was all wetted with. Then it came back, 
and the first thing I attended to was to give him 
the knife again a half a dozen times up to the handle. 
I believe he was dead already, but it did him no 
harm, and did me good. 

* I bet you 're dead now,' I said, and then I called 
to Uma. 

Nothing answered, and I made a move to go and 
grope for her, fouled my broken leg, and fainted again. 

When I came to myself the second time the 
clouds had all cleared away, except a few that sailed 
there, white as cotton. The moon was up — a tropic 
moon. The moon at home turns a wood black, but 

IOI 




ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

even this old butt end of a one showed up that forest 
as green as by day. The night birds — or, rather, 
they 're a kind of early morning bird — sang out with 
their long falling notes like nightingales. And I could 
see the dead man, that I was still half resting on, 
looking right up into the sky with his open eyes, no 
paler than when he was alive ; and a little way off 
Uma tumbled on her side. I got over to her the 
best way I was able, and when I got there she was 
broad awake, and crying and sobbing to herself with 
no more noise than an insect. It appears she was 
afraid to cry out loud, because of the aitus. Alto- 
gether she was not much hurt, but scared beyond 
belief; she had come to her senses a long while ago, 
cried out to me, heard nothing in reply, made out 
we were both dead, and had lain there ever since, 
afraid to budge a finger. The ball had ploughed up 
her shoulder, and she had lost a main quantity of 
blood ; but I soon had that tied up the way it ought 
to be with the tail of my shirt and a scarf I had 
on, got her head on my sound knee and my back 
against a trunk, and settled down to wait for 
morning. Uma was for neither use nor ornament, 
and could only clutch hold of me and shake and cry. 
I don't suppose there was ever anybody worse scared, 
and, to do her justice, she had had a lively night of 
it. As for me, I was in a good bit of pain and 
fever, but not so bad when I sat still; and every 
time I looked over to Case I could have sung and 
whistled. Talk about meat and drink ! To see that 
man lying there dead as a herring filled me full. 
102 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

The night birds stopped after a while ; and then 
the light began to change, the east came orange, the 
whole wood began to whirr with singing like a 
musical box, and there was the broad day. 

I didn't expect Maea for a long while yet; and 
indeed I thought there was an off-chance he might 
go back on the whole idea and not come at all. I 
was the better pleased when, about an hour after 
daylight, I heard sticks smashing and a lot of 
Kanakas laughing and singing out to keep their 
courage up. Uma sat up quite brisk at the first 
word of it ; and presently we saw a party come 
stringing out of the path, Maea in front, and behind 
him a white man in a pith helmet. It was Mr. 
Tarleton, who had turned up late last night in 
Falesa, having left his boat and walked the last 
stage with a lantern. 

They buried Case upon the field of glory, right 
in the hole where he had kept the smoking head. 
I waited till the thing was done ; and Mr. Tarleton 
prayed, which I thought tomfoolery, but I 'm bound 
to say he gave a pretty sick view of the dear de- 
parted's prospects, and seemed to have his own ideas 
of hell. I had it out with him afterwards, told him 
he had scamped his duty, and what he had ought 
to have done was to up like a man and tell the 
Kanakas plainly Case was damned, and a good 
riddance ; but I never could get him to see it my 
way. Then they made me a litter of poles and 
carried me down to the station. Mr. Tarleton set 
my leg, and made a regular missionary splice of it, 

103 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

so that I limp to this day. That done, he took 
down my evidence, and Uma's, and Maea's, wrote 
it all out fine, and had us sign it ; and then he got 
the chiefs and marched over to Papa Randall's to 
seize Case's papers. 

All they found was a bit of a diary, kept for a 
good many years, and all about the price of copra, 
and chickens being stolen, and that ; and the books 
of the business and the will I told you of in the 
beginning, by both of which the whole thing (stock, 
lock, and barrel) appeared to belong to the Samoa 
woman. It was I that bought her out at a mighty 
reasonable figure, for she was in a hurry to get 
home. As for Randall and the black, they had to 
tramp ; got into some kind of a station on the Papa- 
malulu side ; did very bad business, for the truth is 
neither of the pair was fit for it, and lived mostly on 
fish, which was the means of Randall's death. It 
seems there was a nice shoal in one day, and papa 
went after them with the dynamite ; either the 
match burned too fast, or papa was full, or both, 
but the shell went off (in the usual way) before he 
threw it, and where was papa's hand ? Well, 
there 's nothing to hurt in that ; the islands up 
north are all full of one-handed men, like the parties 
in the Arabian Nights ; but either Randall was 
too old, or he drank too much, and the short and 
the long of it was that he died. Pretty soon after, 
the nigger was turned out of the island for stealing 
from white men, and went off to the west, where 
he found men of his own colour, in case he liked 
104 



THE BEACH OF FALESA 

that, and the men of his own colour took and ate 
him at some kind of a corroborree, and I 'm sure I 
hope he was to their fancy ! 

So there was I, left alone in my glory at Falesa ; 
and when the schooner came round I filled her up, 
and gave her a deck-cargo half as high as the house. 
I must say Mr. Tarleton did the right thing by us ; 
but he took a meanish kind of a revenge. 

' Now, Mr. Wiltshire,' said he, ' I 've put you all 
square with everybody here. It wasn't difficult to 
do, Case being gone ; but I have done it, and given 
my pledge besides that you will deal fairly with the 
natives. I must ask you to keep my word.' 

Well, so I did. I used to be bothered about my 
balances, but I reasoned it out this way : We all 
have queerish balances, and the natives all know it, 
and water their copra in a proportion so that it's 
fair all round ; but the truth is, it did use to bother 
me, and, though I did well in Falesa, I was half 
glad when the firm moved me on to another station, 
where I was under no kind of a pledge, and could 
look my balances in the face. 

As for the old lady, you know her as well as I 
do. She's only the one fault. If you don't keep 
your eye lifting she would give away the roof off 
the station. Well, it seems it 's natural in Kanakas. 
She 's turned a powerful big woman now, and could 
throw a London bobby over her shoulder. But 
that 's natural in Kanakas too, and there 's no manner 
of doubt that she's an Al wife. 

Mr. Tarleton 's gone home, his trick being over. 

105 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

He was the best missionary I ever struck, and now, 
it seems, he's parsonising down Somerset way. 
Well, that 's best for him ; he '11 have no Kanakas 
there to get limy over. 

My public-house ? Not a bit of it, nor ever likely. 
I 'm stuck here, I fancy. I don't like to leave the 
kids, you see : and — there 's no use talking — they 're 
better here than what they would be in a white man's 
country, though Ben took the eldest up to Auck- 
land, where he 's being schooled with the best. But 
what bothers me is the girls. They're only half- 
castes, of course ; I know that as well as you do, 
and there's nobody thinks less of half-castes than 
I do ; but they 're mine, and about all I 've got. I 
can't reconcile my mind to their taking up with 
Kanakas, and I 'd like to know where I 'm to find 
the whites ? 



1 06 



THE BOTTLE IMP 



NOTE. — Any student of that very unliterary product, 
the English drama of the early part of the century, will 
here recognise the name and the root idea of a piece once 
rendered popular by the redoubtable 0. Smith. The root 
idea is there, and identical, and yet I hope I have made it 
a new thing. And the fact that the tale has been designed 
and written for a Polynesian audience may lend it some 
extraneous interest nearer home. R. L. 8. 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

There was a man of the Island of Hawaii, whom I 
shall call Keawe ; for the truth is, he still lives, and 
his name must be kept secret ; but the place of his 
birth was not far from Honaunau, where the bones 
of Keawe the Great lie hidden in a cave. This man 
was poor, brave, and active ; he could read and write 
like a schoolmaster; he was a first-rate mariner 
besides, sailed for some time in the island steamers, 
and steered a whaleboat on the Hamakua coast. 
At length it came in Keawe's mind to have a sight 
of the great world and foreign cities, and he shipped 
on a vessel bound to San Francisco. 

This is a fine town, with a fine harbour, and rich 
people uncountable ; and, in particular, there is one 
hill which is covered with palaces. Upon this hill 
Keawe was one day taking a walk with his pocket 
full of money, viewing the great houses upon either 
hand with pleasure. * What fine houses these are ! ' 
he was thinking, ' and how happy must those people 
be who dwell in them, and take no care for the 
morrow ! ' The thought was in his mind when he 
came abreast of a house that was smaller than some 

109 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

others, but all finished and beautified like a toy ; 
the steps of that house shone like silver, and the 
borders of the garden bloomed like garlands, and 
the windows were bright like diamonds ; and Keawe 
stopped and wondered at the excellence of all he 
saw. So stopping, he was aware of a man that 
looked forth upon him through a window so clear 
that Keawe could see him as you see a fish in a pool 
upon the reef. The man was elderly, with a bald 
head and a black beard ; and his face was heavy 
with sorrow, and he bitterly sighed. And the truth 
of it is, that as Keawe looked in upon the man, and 
the man looked out upon Keawe, each envied the 
other. 

All of a sudden the man smiled and nodded, and 
beckoned Keawe to enter, and met him at the door 
of the house. 

* This is a fine house of mine,' said the man, and 
bitterly sighed. ' Would you not care to view the 
chambers ? ' 

So he led Keawe all over it, from the cellar to 
the roof, and there was nothing there that was not 
perfect of its kind, and Keawe was astonished. 

'Truly,' said Keawe, 'this is a beautiful house; 
if I lived in the like of it I should be laughing all 
day long. How comes it, then, that you should be 
sighing ? ' 

'There is no reason,' said the man, 'why you 
should not have a house in all points similar to this, 
and finer, if you wish. You have some money, I 
suppose ? ' 
no 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

'I have fifty dollars,' said Keawe ; 'but a house 
like this will cost more than fifty dollars.' 

The man made a computation. * I am sorry you 
have no more,' said he, * for it may raise you trouble 
in the future ; but it shall be yours at fifty dollars.' ' 

* The house ? ' asked Keawe. 

'No, not the house,' replied the man; 'but the 
bottle. For I must tell you, although I appear to 
you so rich and fortunate, all my fortune, and this 
house itself and its garden, came out of a bottle not 
much bigger than a pint. This is it' 

And he opened a lockfast place, and took out a 
round-bellied bottle with a long neck ; the glass of 
it was white like milk, with changing rainbow colours 
in the grain. Withinsides something obscurely 
moved, like a shadow and a fire. 

' This is the bottle,' said the man ; and, when 
Keawe laughed, ' You do not believe me ? ' he added. 
* Try, then, for yourself. See if you can break it.' 

So Keawe took the bottle up and dashed it on the 
floor till he was weary ; but it jumped on the floor 
like a child's ball, and was not injured. 

'This is a strange thing,' said Keawe. 'For by 
the touch of it, as well as by the look, the bottle 
should be of glass.' 

'Of glass it is,' replied the man, sighing more 
heavily than ever ; ' but the glass of it was tempered 
in the flames of hell. An imp lives in it, and that 
is the shadow we behold there moving; or so I 
suppose. If any man buy this bottle the imp is 
at his command; all that he desires — love, fame, 

in 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

money, houses like this house, ay, or a city like this 
city — all are his at the word uttered. Napoleon 
had this bottle, and by it he grew to be the king of 
the world ; but he sold it at last, and fell. Captain 
Cook had this bottle, and by it he found his way 
to so many islands ; but he, too, sold it, and was 
slain upon Hawaii. For, once it is sold, the power 
goes and the protection ; and unless a man remain 
content with what he has, ill will befall him.' 

* And yet you talk of selling it yourself ? ' Keawe 
said. 

' I have all I wish, and I am growing elderly,' 
replied the man. ' There is one thing the imp can- 
not do — he cannot prolong life ; and, it would not 
be fair to conceal from you, there is a drawback to 
the bottle ; for if a man die before he sells it, he 
must burn in hell for ever.' 

' To be sure, that is a drawback and no mistake,' 
cried Keawe. ' I would not meddle with the thing. 
I can do without a house, thank God ; but there is 
one thing I could not be doing with one particle, 
and that is to be damned.' 

* Dear me, you must not run away with things,' 
returned the man. ' All you have to do is to use 
the power of the imp in moderation, and then sell 
it to some one else, as I do to you, and finish your 
life in comfort.' 

' Well, I observe two things,' said Keawe. * All 
the time you keep sighing like a maid in love, that 
is one ; and, for the other, you sell this bottle very 
cheap.' 

112 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

'I have told you already why I sigh,' said the 
man. ' It is because I fear my health is breaking 
up ; and, as you said yourself, to die and go to the 
devil is a pity for any one. As for why I sell so 
cheap, I must explain to you there is a peculiarity 
about the bottle. Long ago, when the devil brought 
it first upon earth, it was extremely expensive, and 
was sold first of all to Prester John for many 
millions of dollars ; but it cannot be sold at all, 
unless sold at a loss. If you sell it for as much as 
you paid for it, back it comes to you again like a 
homing pigeon. It follows that the price has kept 
falling in these centuries, and the bottle is now 
remarkably cheap. I bought it myself from one 
of my great neighbours on this hill, and the price I 
paid was only ninety dollars. I could sell it for 
as high as eighty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents, 
but not a penny dearer, or back the thing must 
come to me. Now, about this there are two bothers. 
First, when you offer a bottle so singular for eighty 
odd dollars, people suppose you to be jesting. And 
second — but there is no hurry about that — and I 
need not go into it. Only remember it must be 
coined money that you sell it for.' 

' How am I to know that this is all true ? ' asked 
Keawe. 

' Some of it you can try at once,' replied the man. 
* Give me your fifty dollars, take the bottle, and 
wish your fifty dollars back into your pocket. If 
that does not happen, I pledge you my honour I 
will cry off the bargain and restore your money.' 
19— h 113 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

' You are not deceiving me ? ' said Keawe. 

The man bound himself with a great oath. 

'Well, I will risk that much;' said Keawe, 'for 
that can do no harm.' And he paid over his money 
to the man, and the man handed him the bottle. 

' Imp of the bottle,' said Keawe, ' I want my 
fifty dollars back.' And sure enough he had scarce 
said the word before his pocket was as heavy as 
ever. 

' To be sure this is a wonderful bottle,' said 
Keawe. 

' And now good-morning to you, my fine fellow, 
and the devil go with you for me ! ' said the man. 

' Hold on,' said Keawe, ' I don't want any more 
of this fun. Here, take your bottle back.' 

' You have bought it for less than I paid for it,' 
replied the man, rubbing his hands. ' It is yours 
now ; and, for my part, I am only concerned to see 
the back of you.' And with that he rang for his 
Chinese servant, and had Keawe shown out of the 
house. 

Now, when Keawe was in the street, with the 
bottle under his arm, he began to think. ' If all 
is true about this bottle, I may have made a losing 
bargain,' thinks he. ' But perhaps the man was 
only fooling me.' The first thing he did was to 
count his money ; the sum was exact — forty-nine 
dollars American money, and one Chili piece. ' That 
looks like the truth,' said Keawe. ' Now I will try 
another part.' 

The streets in that part of the city were as clean 
114 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

as a ship's decks, and though it was noon, there 
were no passengers. Keawe set the bottle in the 
gutter and walked away. Twice he looked back, 
and there was the milky round-bellied bottle where 
he left it. A third time he looked back, and turned 
a corner ; but he had scarce done so, when some- 
thing knocked upon his elbow, and behold ! it was 
the long neck sticking up ; and as for the round 
belly, it was jammed into the pocket of his pilot- 
coat. 

* And that looks like the truth,' said Keawe. 

The next thing he did was to buy a corkscrew 
in a shop, and go apart into a secret place in the 
fields. And there he tried to draw the cork, but 
as often as he put the screw in, out it came again, 
and the cork as whole as ever. 

' This is some new sort of cork,' said Keawe, and 
all at once he began to shake and sweat, for he was 
afraid of that bottle. 

On his way back to the port-side he saw a shop 
where a man sold shells and clubs from the wild 
islands, old heathen deities, old coined money, 
pictures from China and Japan, and all manner of 
things that sailors bring in their sea-chests. And 
here he had an idea. So he went in and offered the 
bottle for a hundred dollars. The man of the shop 
laughed at him at the first, and offered him five ; 
but, indeed, it was a curious bottle — such glass was 
never blown in any human glassworks, so prettily 
the colours shone under the milky white, and so 
strangely the shadow hovered in the midst ; so, after 

i J 5 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

he had disputed a while after the manner of his 
kind, the shopman gave Keawe sixty silver dollars 
for the thing, and set it on a shelf in the midst of 
his window. 

'Now,' said Keawe, 'I have sold that for sixty 
which I bought for fifty — or, to say truth, a little 
less, because one of my dollars was from Chili. Now 
I shall know the truth upon another point.' 

So he went back on board his ship, and, when he 
opened his chest, there was the bottle, and had 
come more quickly than himself. Now Keawe had a 
mate on board whose name was Lopaka. 

' What ails you ? ' said Lopaka, * that you stare in 
your chest ? ' 

They were alone in the ship's forecastle, and 
Keawe bound him to secrecy, and told all. 

' This is a very strange affair,' said Lopaka ; ' and 
I fear you will be in trouble about this bottle. But 
there is one point very clear — that you are sure of 
the trouble, and you had better have the profit in the 
bargain. Make up your mind what you want with 
it ; give the order, and if it is done as you desire, I 
will buy the bottle myself ; for I have an idea of my 
own to get a schooner, and go trading through the 
islands.' 

' That is not my idea,' said Keawe ; ' but to have 
a beautiful house and garden on the Kona Coast, 
where I was born, the sun shining in at the door, 
flowers in the garden, glass in the windows, pictures 
on the walls, and toys and fine carpets on the tables, 
for all the world like the house I was in this day 
116 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

— only a story higher, and with balconies all about 
like the King's palace ; and to live there without 
care and make merry with my friends and relatives.' 

' Well,' said Lopaka, ' let us carry it back with us 
to Hawaii ; and if all comes true, as you suppose, I 
will buy the bottle, as I said, and ask a schooner.' 

Upon that they were agreed, and it was not long 
before the ship returned to Honolulu, carrying 
Keawe and Lopaka, and the bottle. They were 
scarce come ashore when they met a friend upon the 
beach, who began at once to condole with Keawe. 

■ I do not know what T am to be condoled about,' 
said Keawe. 

* Is it possible you have not heard,' said the friend, 
* your uncle — that good old man — is dead, and your 
cousin — that beautiful boy — was drowned at sea ? ' 

Keawe was filled with sorrow, and, beginning to 
weep and to lament, he forgot about the bottle. 
But Lopaka was thinking to himself, and presently, 
when Keawe's grief was a little abated, ' I have been 
thinking,' said Lopaka. * Had not your uncle lands 
in Hawaii, in the district of Kaii ? ' 

* No,' said Keawe, * not in Kaii ; they are on the 
mountain side — a little way south of Hookena.' 

* These lands will now be yours ? ' asked Lopaka. 

* And so they will,' says Keawe, and began again 
to lament for his relatives. 

* No,' said Lopaka, ' do not lament at present. I 
have a thought in my mind. How if this should 
be the doing of the bottle ? For here is the place 
ready for your house.' 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

' If this be so,' cried Keawe, ' it is a very ill way 
to serve me by killing my relatives. But it may be, 
indeed ; for it was in just such a station that I saw 
the house with my mind's eye.' 

' The house, however, is not yet built,' said Lopaka. 

* No, nor like to be ! ' said Keawe ; ' for though 
my uncle has some coffee and ava and bananas, it 
will not be more than will keep me in comfort ; and 
the rest of that land is the black lava.' 

* Let us go to the lawyer,' said Lopaka ; ■ I have 
still this idea in my mind.' 

Now, when they came to the lawyer's, it appeared 
Keawe's uncle had grown monstrous rich in the last 
days, and there was a fund of money. 

' And here is the money for the house ! ' cried 
Lopaka. 

* If you are thinking of a new house,' said the 
lawyer, * here is the card of a new architect, of whom 
they tell me great things.' 

* Better and better ! ' cried Lopaka. * Here is all 
made plain for us. Let us continue to obey orders.' 

So they went to the architect, and he had draw- 
ings of houses on his table. 

'You want something out of the way,' said the 
architect. ' How do you like this ? ' and he handed 
a drawing to Keawe. 

Now, when Keawe set eyes on the drawing, he 
cried out aloud, for it was the picture of his thought 
exactly drawn. 

6 1 am in for this house,' thought he. ' Little as 
I like the way it comes to me, I am in for it now, 
118 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

and I may as well take the good along with the 
evil.' 

So he told the architect all that he wished, and 
how he would have that house furnished, and about 
the pictures on the wall and the knickknacks on 
the tables ; and he asked the man plainly for how 
much he would undertake the whole affair. 

The architect put many questions, and took his 
pen and made a computation ; and when he had done 
he named the very sum that Keawe had inherited. 

Lopaka and Keawe looked at one another and 
nodded. 

* It is quite clear,' thought Keawe, * that I am to 
have this house, whether or no. It comes from the 
devil, and I fear I will get little good by that ; and 
of one thing I am sure, I will make no more wishes 
as long as I have this bottle. But with the house I 
am saddled, and I may as well take the good along 
with the evil.' 

So he made his terms with the architect, and they 
signed a paper ; and Keawe and Lopaka took ship 
again and sailed to Australia ; for it was concluded 
between them they should not interfere at all, but 
leave the architect and the bottle imp to build and 
to adorn that house at their own pleasure. 

The voyage was a good voyage, only all the time 
Keawe was holding in his breath, for he had sworn 
he would utter no more wishes, and take no more 
favours from the devil. The time was up when they 
got back. The architect told them that the house 
was ready, and Keawe and Lopaka took a passage 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

in the Hall, and went down Kona way to view the 
house, and see if all had been done fitly according 
to the thought that was in Keawe's mind. 

Now, the house stood on the mountain side, visible 
to ships. Above, the forest ran up into the clouds 
of rain ; below, the black lava fell in cliffs, where the 
kings of old lay buried. A garden bloomed about 
that house with every hue of flowers ; and there was 
an orchard of papaia on the one hand and an orchard 
of bread-fruit on the other, and right in front, "toward 
the sea, a ship's mast had been rigged up and bore 
a flag. As for the house, it was three stories high, 
with great chambers and broad balconies on each. 
The windows were of glass, so excellent that it was 
as clear as water and as bright as day. All manner 
of furniture adorned the chambers. Pictures hung 
upon the wall in golden frames : pictures of ships, 
and men fighting, and of the most beautiful women, 
and of singular places ; nowhere in the world are 
there pictures of so bright a colour as those Keawe 
found hanging in his house. As for the knick- 
knacks, they were extraordinary fine; chiming clocks 
and musical boxes, little men with nodding heads, 
books filled with pictures, weapons of price from all 
quarters of the world, and the most elegant puzzles 
to entertain the leisure of a solitary man. And as 
no one would care to live in such chambers, only to 
walk through and view them, the balconies were 
made so broad that a whole town might have lived 
upon them in delight ; and Keawe knew not which 
to prefer, whether the back porch, where you got 
1 20 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

the land-breeze, and looked upon the orchards and 
the flowers, or the front balcony, where you could 
drink the wind of the sea, and look down the steep 
wall of the mountain and see the Hall going by 
once a week or so between Hookena and the hills of 
Pele, or the schooners plying up the coast for wood 
and ava and bananas. 

When they had viewed all, Keawe and Lopaka sat 
on the porch. 

1 Well,' asked Lopaka, ' is it all as you designed ? ' 
' Words cannot utter it,' said Keawe. ' It is 
better than I dreamed, and I am sick with satis- 
faction.' 

* There is but one thing to consider,' said Lopaka ; 
'all this may be quite natural, and the bottle imp 
have nothing whatever to say to it. If I were to 
buy the bottle, and got no schooner after all, I 
should have put my hand in the fire for nothing. 
I gave you my word, I know ; but yet I think you 
would not grudge me one more proof.' 

' I have sworn I would take no more favours,' 
said Keawe. 'I have gone already deep enough.' 

* This is no favour I am thinking of,' replied 
Lopaka. ' It is only to see the imp himself. There 
is nothing to be gained by that, and so nothing to 
be ashamed of; and yet, if I once saw him, I should 
be sure of the whole matter. So indulge me so far, 
and let me see the imp ; and, after that, here is the 
money in my hand, and I will buy it.' 

* There is only one thing I am afraid of,' said 
Keawe. ' The imp may be very ugly to view : and 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

if you once set eyes upon him you might be very 
undesirous of the bottle.' 

' I am a man of my word,' said Lopaka. * And 
here is the money betwixt us.' 

'Very well/ replied Keawe. 'I have a curiosity 
myself. — So come, let us have one look at you, 
Mr. Imp.' 

Now as soon as that was said the imp looked out 
of the bottle, and in again, swift as a lizard; and 
there sat Keawe and Lopaka turned to stone. The 
night had quite come, before either found a thought 
to say or voice to say it with ; and then Lopaka 
pushed the money over and took the bottle. 

* I am a man of my word,' said he, ' and had need 
to be so, or I would not touch this bottle with my 
foot. Well, I shall get my schooner, and a dollar 
or two for my pocket ; and then I will be rid of this 
devil as fast as I can. For to tell you the plain 
truth, the look of him has cast me down.' 

'Lopaka,' said Keawe, 'do not you think any 
worse of me than you can help ; I know it is night, 
and the roads bad, and the pass by the tombs an ill 
place to go by so late, but I declare since I have 
seen that little face, I cannot eat or sleep or pray 
till it is gone from me. I will give you a lantern, 
and a basket to put the bottle in, and any picture or 
fine thing in all my house that takes your fancy ; — 
and be gone at once, and go sleep at Hookena with 
Nahinu.' 

' Keawe,' said Lopaka, ' many a man would take 
this ill ; above all, when I am doing you a turn so 
122 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

friendly as to keep my word and buy the bottle ; 
and for that matter, the night, and the dark, and the 
way by the tombs, must be all tenfold more danger- 
ous to a man with such a sin upon his conscience, 
and such a bottle under his arm. But for my part, 
I am so extremely terrified myself, I have not the 
heart to blame you. Here I go then ; and I pray 
God you may be happy in your house, and I for- 
tunate with my schooner, and both get to heaven in 
the end in spite of the devil and his bottle.' 

So Lopaka went down the mountain ; and Keawe 
stood in his front balcony, and listened to the clink 
of the horse's shoes, and watched the lantern go 
shining down the path, and along the cliff of caves 
where the old dead are buried ; and all the time he 
trembled and clasped his hands, and prayed for his 
friend, and gave glory to God that he himself was 
escaped out of that trouble. 

But the next day came very brightly, and that 
new house of his was so delightful to behold that he 
forgot his terrors. One day followed another, and 
Keawe dwelt there in perpetual joy. He had his 
place on the back porch ; it was there he ate and 
lived, and read the stories in the Honolulu news- 
papers ; but when any one came by they would go in 
and view the chambers and the pictures. And the 
fame of the house went far and wide ; it was called 
Ka-Hale Nui — the Great House — in all Kona ; and 
sometimes the Bright House, for Keawe kept a 
Chinaman, who was all day dusting and furbishing ; 
and the glass, and the gilt, and the fine stuffs, and 

123 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

the pictures, shone as bright as the morning. As 
for Keawe himself, he could not walk in the chambers 
without singing, his heart was so enlarged ; and 
when ships sailed by upon the sea, he would fly his 
colours on the mast. 

So time went by, until one day Keawe went upon 
a visit as far as Kailua to certain of his friends. 
There he was well feasted ; and left as soon as he 
could the next morning, and rode hard, for he was 
impatient to behold his beautiful house; and, be- 
sides, the night then coming on was the night in 
which the dead of old days go abroad in the sides of 
Kona ; and having already meddled with the devil, 
he was the more chary of meeting with the dead. 
A little beyond Honaunau, looking far ahead, he 
was aware of a woman bathing in the edge of the 
sea; and she seemed a well-grown girl, but he 
thought no more of it. Then he saw her white 
shift flutter as she put it on, and then her red 
holoku ; and by the time he came abreast of her 
she was done with her toilet, and had come up from 
the sea, and stood by the track side in her red 
holoku, and she was all freshened with the bath, and 
her eyes shone and were kind. Now Keawe no 
sooner beheld her than he drew rein. 

* I thought I knew every one in this country,' said 
he. ' How comes it that I do not know you ? ' 

'I am Kokua, daughter of Kiano,' said the girl, 
' and I have just returned from Oahu. Who are 
you?' 

* I will tell you who I am in a little,' said Keawe, 

124 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

dismounting from his horse, * but not now. For I 
have a thought in my mind, and if you knew who 
I was, you might have heard of me, and would not 
give me a true answer. But tell me, first of all, one 
thing : Are you married ? ' 

At this Kokua laughed out aloud. 'It is you 
who ask questions,' she said. 'Are you married 
yourself? ' 

' Indeed, Kokua, I am not,' replied Keawe, ' and 
never thought to be until this hour. But here is the 
plain truth. I have met you here at the roadside, 
and I saw your eyes, which are like the stars, and 
my heart went to you as swift as a bird. And so 
now, if you want none of me, say so, and I will go 
on to my own place ; but if you think me no worse 
than any other young man, say so, too, and I will 
turn aside to your father's for the night, and to- 
morrow I will talk with the good man.' 

Kokua said never a word, but she looked at the 
sea and laughed. 

' Kokua,' said Keawe, ' if you say nothing, I will 
take that for the good answer ; so let us be stepping 
to your father's door. ' 

She went on ahead of him, still without speech ; 
only sometimes she glanced back and glanced away 
again, and she kept the strings of her hat in her 
mouth. 

Now, when they had come to the door, Kiano 
came out on his verandah, and cried out and wel- 
comed Keawe by name. At that the girl looked 
over, for the fame of the great house had come to 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

her ears ; and, to be sure, it was a great temptation. 
All that evening they were very merry together; 
and the girl was as bold as brass under the eyes of 
her parents, and made a mock of Keawe, for she had 
a quick wit. The next day he had a word with 
Kiano, and found the girl alone. 

' Kokua,' said he, ' you made a mock of me all the 
evening ; and it is still time to bid me go. I would 
not tell you who I was, because I have so fine a 
house, and I feared you would think too much of 
that house and too little of the man that loves you. 
Now you know all, and if you wish to have seen the 
last of me, say so at once.' 

' No,' said Kokua ; but this time she did not laugh, 
nor did Keawe ask for more. 

This was the wooing of Keawe ; things had gone 
quickly; but so an arrow goes, and the ball of a 
rifle swifter still, and yet both may strike the target. 
Things had gone fast, but they had gone far also, 
and the thought of Keawe rang in the maiden's 
head ; she heard his voice in the breach of the surf 
upon the lava, and for this young man that she had 
seen but twice she would have left father and 
mother and her native islands. As for Keawe him- 
self, his horse flew up the path of the mountain 
under the cliff of tombs, and the sound of the hoofs, 
and the sound of Keawe singing to himself for plea- 
sure, echoed in the caverns of the dead. He came 
to the Bright House, and still he was singing. He 
sat and ate in the broad balcony, and the Chinaman 
wondered at his master, to hear how he sang between 
126 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

the mouthfuls. The sun went down into the sea, 
and the night came ; and Keawe walked the balconies 
by lamplight, high on the mountains, and the voice 
of his singing startled men on ships. 

' Here am I now upon my high place,' he said to 
himself. ' Life may be no better ; this is the moun- 
tain top ; and all shelves about me toward the 
worse. For the first time I will light up the 
chambers, and bathe in my fine bath with the hot 
water and the cold, and sleep alone in the bed of 
my bridal chamber.' 

So the Chinaman had word, and he must rise from 
sleep and light the furnaces ; and as he wrought 
below, beside the boilers, he heard his master singing 
and rejoicing above him in the lighted chambers. 
When the water began to be hot the Chinaman cried 
to his master ; and Keawe went into the bathroom ; 
and the Chinaman heard him sing as he filled the 
marble basin ; and heard him sing, and the singing 
broken, as he undressed ; until of a sudden the song 
ceased. The Chinaman listened, and listened ; he 
called up the house to Keawe to ask if all were well, 
and Keawe answered him * Yes,' and bade him go to 
bed ; but there was no more singing in the Bright 
House ; and all night long the Chinaman heard his 
master's feet go round and round the balconies 
without repose. 

Now the truth of it was this : as Keawe undressed 
for his bath, he spied upon his flesh a patch like a 
patch of lichen on a rock, and it was then that he 
stopped singing. For he knew the likeness of that 

127 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

patch, and knew that he was fallen in the Chinese 
Evil. 1 

Now, it is a sad thing for any man to fall into this 
sickness. And it would be a sad thing for any one 
to leave a house so beautiful and so commodious, 
and depart from all his friends to the north coast of 
Molokai between the mighty cliff and the sea- 
breakers. But what was that to the case of the 
man Keawe, he who had met his love but yesterday, 
and won her but that morning, and now saw all his 
hopes break, in a moment, like a piece of glass ? 

A while he sat upon the edge of the bath ; then 
sprang, with a cry, and ran outside ; and to and fro, 
to and fro, along the balcony, like one despairing. 

'Very willingly could I leave Hawaii, the home 
of my fathers,' Keawe was thinking. ' Very lightly 
could I leave my house, the high-placed, the many- 
windowed, here upon the mountains. Very bravely 
could I go to Molokai, to Kalaupapa by the cliffs, 
to live with the smitten and to sleep there, far from 
my fathers. But what wrong have I done, what sin 
lies upon my soul, that I should have encountered 
Kokua coming cool from the sea- water in the 
evening ? Kokua, the soul-ensnarer ! Kokua, the 
light of my life ! Her may I never wed, her may I 
look upon no longer, her may I no more handle with 
my loving hand ; and it is for this, it is for you, 
O Kokua ! that I pour my lamentations ! ' 

Now you are to observe what sort of a man 
Keawe was, for he might have dwelt there in the 

1 Leprosy. 
128 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

Bright House for years, and no one been the wiser 
of his sickness ; but he reckoned nothing of that, if 
he must lose Kokua. And again, he might have 
wed Kokua even as he was ; and so many would 
have done, because they have the souls of pigs ; but 
Keawe loved the maid manfully, and he would do 
her no hurt and bring her in no danger. 

A little beyond the midst of the night, there came 
in his mind the recollection of that bottle. He went 
round to the back porch, and called to memory the 
day when the devil had looked forth ; and at the 
thought ice ran in his veins. 

' A dreadful thing is the bottle,' thought Keawe, 
* and dreadful is the imp, and it is a dreadful thing 
to risk the flames of hell. But what other hope 
have I to cure my sickness or to wed Kokua? 
What ! ' he thought, ' would I beard the devil once, 
only to get me a house, and not face him again to 
win Kokua ? ' 

Thereupon he called to mind it was the next day 
the Hall went by on her return to Honolulu. * There 
must I go first,' he thought, * and see Lopaka. For 
the best hope that I have now is to find that same 
bottle I was so pleased to be rid of.' 

Never a wink could he sleep ; the food stuck in 
his throat ; but he sent a letter to Kiano, and, about 
the time when the steamer would be coming, rode 
down beside the cliff of the tombs. It rained ; his 
horse went heavily; he looked up at the black 
mouths of the caves, and he envied the dead that 
slept there and were done with trouble ; and called 
19— i 129 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

to mind how he had galloped by the day before, and 
was astonished. So he came down to Hookena, and 
there was all the country gathered for the steamer 
as usual. In the shed before the store they sat and 
jested and passed the news ; but there was no matter 
of speech in Keawe's bosom, and he sat in their 
midst and looked without on the rain falling on the 
houses, and the surf beating among the rocks, and 
the sighs arose in his throat. 

' Keawe of the Bright House is out of spirits,' said 
one to another. Indeed, and so he was, and little 
wonder. 

Then the Hall came, and the whaleboat carried 
him on board. The after-part of the ship was full of 
Haoles, 1 who had been to visit the volcano, as their 
custom is ; and the midst was crowded with Kanakas, 
and the forepart with wild bulls from Hilo and 
horses from Kaii ; but Keawe sat apart from all in 
his sorrow, and watched for the house of Kiano. 
There it sat, low upon the shore in the black rocks, 
and shaded by the cocoa palms, and there by the 
door was a red holoku, no greater than a fly, and 
going to and fro with a fly's busyness. ' Ah, queen 
of my heart,' he cried, * I '11 venture my dear soul to 
win you ! ' 

Soon after, darkness fell, and the cabins were lit 
up, and the Haoles sat and played at the cards and 
drank whisky as their custom is ; but Keawe walked 
the deck all night; and all the next day, as they 
steamed under the lee of Maui or of Molokai, he 

1 Whites. 
130 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

was still pacing to and fro like a wild animal in a 
menagerie. 

Towards evening they passed Diamond Head, and 
came to the pier of Honolulu. Keawe stepped out 
among the crowd and began to ask for Lopaka. It 
seemed he had become the owner of a schooner — 
none better in the islands — and was gone upon an 
adventure as far as Pola-Pola or Kahiki; so there 
was no help to be looked for from Lopaka. Keawe 
called to mind a friend of his, a lawyer in the town 
(I must not tell his name), and inquired of him. 
They said he was grown suddenly rich, and had a 
fine new house upon Waikiki shore ; and this put 
a thought in Keawe's head, and he called a hack and 
drove to the lawyer's house. 

The house was all brand new, and the trees in 
the garden no greater than walking-sticks, and the 
lawyer, when he came, had the air of a man well 
pleased. 

4 What can I do to serve you ? ' said the lawyer. 

'You are a friend of Lopaka's,' replied Keawe, 
'and Lopaka purchased from me a certain piece 
of goods that I thought you might enable me to 
trace.' 

The lawyer's face became very dark. ' I do not 
profess to misunderstand you, Mr. Keawe,' said he, 
' though this is an ugly business to be stirring in. 
You may be sure I know nothing, but yet I have a 
guess, and if you would apply in a certain quarter 
I think you might have news.' 

And he named the name of a man, which, again, 

I3 1 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

I had better not repeat. So it was for days, and 
Keawe went from one to another, finding everywhere 
new clothes and carriages, and fine new houses, and 
men everywhere in great contentment, although, to 
be sure, when he hinted at his business their faces 
would cloud over. 

' No doubt I am upon the track,' thought Keawe. 
* These new clothes and carriages are all the gifts 
of the little imp, and these glad faces are the faces of 
men who have taken their profit and got rid of the 
accursed thing in safety. When I see pale cheeks 
and hear sighing, I shall know that I am near the 
bottle.' 

So it befell at last that he was recommended to a 
Haole in Beritania Street. When he came to the 
door, about the hour of the evening meal, there were 
the usual marks of the new house, and the young 
garden, and the electric light shining in the windows ; 
but when the owner came, a shock of hope and fear 
ran through Keawe ; for here was a young man, 
white as a corpse, and black about the eyes, the hair 
shedding from his head, and such a look in his coun- 
tenance as a man may have when he is waiting for 
the gallows. 

'Here it is, to be sure,' thought Keawe, and so 
with this man he noways veiled his errand. * I am 
come to buy the bottle,' said he. 

At the word the young Haole of Beritania Street 
reeled against the wall. 

' The bottle ! ' he gasped. < To buy the bottle ! ' 
Then he seemed to choke, and seizing Keawe by the 
132 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

arm carried him into a room and poured out wine 
in two glasses. 

' Here is my respects,' said Keawe, who had been 
much about with Haoles in his time. 'Yes,' he 
added, ' I am come to buy the bottle. What is the 
price by now ? ' 

At that word the young man let his glass slip 
through his fingers, and looked upon Keawe like a 
ghost. 

' The price,' says he ; ' the price ! You do not 
know the price ? ' 

' It is for that I am asking you,' returned Keawe. 
'But why are you so much concerned? Is there 
anything wrong about the price ? ' 

' It has dropped a great deal in value since your 
time, Mr. Keawe,' said the young man, stammering. 

' Well, well, I shall have the less to pay for it,' 
says Keawe. ' How much did it cost you ? ' 

The young man was as white as a sheet. ' Two 
cents,' said he. 

' What ! ' cried Keawe, ' two cents ? Why, then, 
you can only sell it for one. And he who buys 

it ' The words died upon Keawe's tongue ; he 

who bought it could never sell it again, the bottle 
and the bottle imp must abide with him until he 
died, and when he died must carry him to the red 
end of hell. 

The young man of Beritania Street fell upon his 
knees. ' For God's sake, buy it ! ' he cried. ' You 
can have all my fortune in the bargain. I was mad 
when I bought it at that price. I had embezzled 

133 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

money at my store ; I was lost else ; I must have 
gone to jail.' 

6 Poor creature,' said Keawe, ' you would risk your 
soul upon so desperate an adventure, and to avoid 
the proper punishment of your own disgrace ; and 
you think I could hesitate with love in front of me. 
Give me the bottle, and the change, which I make 
sure you have all ready. Here is a five-cent piece.' 

It was as Keawe supposed ; the young man had 
the change ready in a drawer; the bottle changed 
hands, and Keawe's fingers were no sooner clasped 
upon the stalk than he had breathed his wish to be 
a clean man. And, sure enough, when he got home 
to his room, and stripped himself before a glass, his 
flesh was whole like an infant's. And here was the 
strange thing : he had no sooner seen this miracle 
than his mind was changed within him, and he cared 
naught for the Chinese Evil, and little enough for 
Kokua ; and had but the one thought, that here he 
was bound to the bottle imp for time and for eternity, 
and had no better hope but to be a cinder for ever 
in the flames of hell. Away ahead of him he saw 
them blaze with his mind's eye, and his soul shrank, 
and darkness fell upon the fight. 

When Keawe came to himself a little, he was 
aware it was the night when the band played at the 
hotel. Thither he went, because he feared to be 
alone ; and there, among happy faces, walked to and 
fro, and heard the tunes go up and down, and saw 
Berger beat the measure, and all the while he heard 
the flames crackle, and saw the red fire burning in 
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THE BOTTLE IMP 

the bottomless pit. Of a sudden the band played 
Hiki-ao-ao ; that was a song that he had sung with 
Kokua, and at the strain courage returned to him. 

' It is done now,' he thought, ' and once more let 
me take the good along with the evil.' 

So it befell that he returned to Hawaii by the first 
steamer, and as soon as it could be managed he was 
wedded to Kokua, and carried her up the mountain 
side to the Bright House. 

Now it was so with these two, that when they 
were together, Keawe's heart was stilled; but so 
soon as he was alone he fell into a brooding horror, 
and heard the flames crackle, and saw the red fire 
burn in the bottomless pit. The girl, indeed, had 
come to him wholly ; her heart leapt in her side at 
sight of him, her hand clung to his ; and she was so 
fashioned from the hair upon her head to the nails 
upon her toes that none could see her without joy. 
She was pleasant in her nature. She had the good 
word always. Full of song she was, and went to 
and fro in the Bright House, the brightest thing 
in its three stories, carolling like the birds. And 
Keawe beheld and heard her with delight, and then 
must shrink upon one side, and weep and groan to 
think upon the price that he had paid for her ; and 
then he must dry his eyes, and wash his face, and go 
and sit with her on the broad balconies, joining in 
her songs, and, with a sick spirit, answering her 
smiles. 

There came a day when her feet began to be heavy 
and her songs more rare ; and now it was not Keawe 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

only that would weep apart, but each would sunder 
from the other and sit in opposite balconies with the 
whole width of the Bright House betwixt. Keawe 
was so sunk in his despair he scarce observed the 
change, and was only glad he had more hours to sit 
alone and brood upon his destiny, and was not so 
frequently condemned to pull a smiling face on a 
sick heart. But one day, coming softly through the 
house, he heard the sound of a child sobbing, and 
there was Kokua rolling her face upon the balcony 
floor, and weeping like the lost. 

* You do well to weep in this house, Kokua,' he 
said. * And yet I would give the head off my body 
that you (at least) might have been happy.' 

' Happy ! ' she cried. ' Keawe, when you lived 
alone in your Bright House you were the word of 
the island for a happy man ; laughter and song were 
in your mouth, and your face was as bright as the 
sunrise. Then you wedded poor Kokua ; and the 
good God knows what is amiss in her — but from 
that day you have not smiled. O ! ' she cried, 
* what ails me ? I thought I was pretty, and I knew 
I loved him. What ails me that I throw this cloud 
upon my husband ? ' 

* Poor Kokua,' said Keawe. He sat down by her 
side, and sought to take her hand; but that she 
plucked away. ' Poor Kokua ! ' he said again. 
'My poor child — my pretty. And I had thought 
all this while to spare you ! Well, you shall know 
all. Then, at least, you will pity poor Keawe ; then 
you will understand how much he loved you in the 

136 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

past — that he dared hell for your possession — and 
how much he loves you still (the poor condemned 
one), that he can yet call up a smile when he beholds 
you.' 

With that he told her all, even from the begin- 
ning. 

* You have done this for me ? ' she cried. * Ah, 
well, then what do I care ! ' — and she clasped and 
wept upon him. 

' Ah, child ! ' said Keawe, ' and yet, when I con- 
sider of the fire of hell, I care a good deal ! ' 

' Never tell me,' said she ; * no man can be lost 
because he loved Kokua, and no other fault. I tell 
you, Keawe, I shall save you with these hands, or 
perish in your company. What ! you loved me, and 
gave your soul, and you think I will not die to save 
you in return ? ' 

* Ah, my dear ! you might die a hundred times, 
and what difference would that make ? ' he cried, 
* except to leave me lonely till the time comes of my 
damnation ? ' 

' You know nothing,' said she. ' I was educated 
in a school in Honolulu ; I am no common girl. 
And I tell you, I shall save my lover. What is this 
you say about a cent? But all the world is not 
American. In England they have a piece they call 
a farthing, which is about half a cent. Ah ! sorrow ! ' 
she cried, 'that makes it scarcely better, for the 
buyer must be lost, and we shall find none so brave 
as my Keawe ! But then, there is France : they 
have a small coin there which they call a centime, 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

and these go five to the cent, or thereabout. We 
could not do better. Come, Keawe, let us go to 
the French islands ; let us go to Tahiti as fast as 
ships can bear us. There we have four centimes, 
three centimes, two centimes, one centime; four 
possible sales to come and go on ; and two of us to 
push the bargain. Come, my Keawe ! kiss me, and 
banish care. Kokua will defend you.' 

'Gift of God!' he cried. 'I cannot think that 
God will punish me for desiring aught so good ! Be 
it as you will, then ; take me where you please : I 
put my life and my salvation in your hands.' 

Early the next day Kokua was about her prepara- 
tions. She took Keawe's chest that he went with 
sailoring ; and first she put the bottle in a corner ; 
and then packed it with the richest of their clothes 
and the bravest of the knickknacks in the house. 
* For,' said she, ' we must seem to be rich folks, or 
who will believe in the bottle ? ' All the time of her 
preparation she was as gay as a bird ; only when she 
looked upon Keawe the tears would spring in her 
eye, and she must run and kiss him. As for Keawe, 
a weight was off his soul ; now that he had his secret 
shared, and some hope in front of him, he seemed 
like a new man, his feet went lightly on the earth, 
and his breath was good to him again. Yet was 
terror still at his elbow ; and ever and again, as the 
wind blows out a taper, hope died in him, and he 
saw the flames toss and the red fire burn in hell. 

It was given out in the country they were gone 
pleasuring to the States, which was thought a strange 
138 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

thing, and yet not so strange as the truth, if any 
could have guessed it. So they went to Honolulu 
in the Hall, and thence in the Umatilla to San Fran- 
cisco with a crowd of Haoles, and at San Francisco 
took their passage by the mail brigantine, the Tropic 
Bird, for Papeete, the chief place of the French in 
the south islands. Thither they came, after a plea- 
sant voyage, on a fair day of the Trade Wind, and 
saw the reef with the surf breaking, and Motuiti 
with its palms, and the schooner riding withinside, 
and the white houses of the town low down along 
the shore among green trees, and overhead the 
mountains and the clouds of Tahiti, the wise 
island. 

It was judged the most wise to hire a house, 
which they did accordingly, opposite the British 
Consul's, to make a great parade of money, and 
themselves conspicuous with carriages and horses. 
This it was very easy to do, so long as they had the 
bottle in their possession ; for Kokua was more bold 
than Keawe, and, whenever she had a mind, called 
on the imp for twenty or a hundred dollars. At 
this rate they soon grew to be remarked in the 
town ; and the strangers from Hawaii, their riding 
and their driving, the fine holokus and the rich lace 
of Kokua, became the matter of much talk. 

They got on well after the first with the Tahitian 
language, which is indeed like to the Hawaiian, with 
a change of certain letters ; and as soon as they had 
any freedom of speech, began to push the bottle. 
You are to consider it was not an easy subject to 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

introduce ; it was not easy to persuade people you 
were in earnest, when you offered to sell them for 
four centimes the spring of health and riches inex- 
haustible. It was necessary besides to explain the 
dangers of the bottle ; and either people disbelieved 
the whole thing and laughed, or they thought the 
more of the darker part, became overcast with 
gravity, and drew away from Keawe and Kokua, as 
from persons who had dealings with the devil. So 
far from gaining ground, these two began to find 
they were avoided in the town ; the children ran away 
from them screaming, a thing intolerable to Kokua ; 
Catholics crossed themselves as they went by ; and 
all persons began with one accord to disengage them- 
selves from their advances. 

Depression fell upon their spirits. They would 
sit at night in their new house, after a day's weari- 
ness, and not exchange one word, or the silence 
would be broken by Kokua bursting suddenly into 
sobs. Sometimes they would pray together ; some- 
times they would have the bottle out upon the floor, 
and sit all evening watching how the shadow hovered 
in the midst. At such times they would be afraid 
to go to rest. It was long ere slumber came to 
them, and, if either dozed off, it would be to wake 
and find the other silently weeping in the dark, or, 
perhaps, to wake alone, the other having fled from 
the house and the neighbourhood of that bottle, 
to pace under the bananas in the little garden, or to 
wander on the beach by moonlight. 

One night it was so when Kokua awoke. Keawe 
140 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

was gone. She felt in the bed, and his place was 
cold. Then fear fell upon her, and she sat up in 
bed. A little moonshine filtered through the 
shutters. The room was bright, and she could spy 
the bottle on the floor. Outside it blew high, the 
great trees of the avenue cried aloud, and the fallen 
leaves rattled in the verandah. In the midst of this 
Kokua was aware of another sound; whether of a 
beast or of a man she could scarce tell, but it was as 
sad as death, and cut her to the soul. Softly she 
arose, set the door ajar, and looked forth into the 
moonlit yard. There, under the bananas, lay 
Keawe, his mouth in the dust, and as he lay he 
moaned. 

It was Kokua's first thought to run forward and 
console him ; her second potently withheld her. 
Keawe had borne himself before his wife like a brave 
man ; it became her little in the hour of weakness to 
intrude upon his shame. With the thought she 
drew back into the house. 

* Heaven ! ' she thought, ' how careless have I 
been — how weak ! It is he, not I, that stands in 
this eternal peril; it was he, not I, that took the 
curse upon his soul. It is for my sake, and for the 
love of a creature of so little worth and such poor 
help, that he now beholds so close to him the flames 
of hell — ay, and smells the smoke of it, lying without 
there in the wind and moonlight. Am I so dull of 
spirit that never till now I have surmised my duty, 
or have I seen it before and turned aside ? But now, 
at least, I take up my soul in both the hands of my 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

affection ; now I say farewell to the white steps of 
heaven and the waiting faces of my friends. A love 
for a love, and let mine be equalled with Keawe's ! 
A soul for a soul, and be it mine to perish ! ' 

She was a deft woman with her hands, and was 
soon apparelled. She took in her hands the change 
— the precious centimes they kept ever at their side ; 
for this coin is little used, and they had made pro- 
vision at a Government office. When she was forth 
in the avenue clouds came on the wind, and the 
moon was blackened. The town slept, and she 
knew not whither to turn till she heard one coughing 
in the shadow of the trees. 

* Old man,' said Kokua, ' what do you here abroad 
in the cold night ? ' 

The old man could scarce express himself for 
coughing, but she made out that he was old and 
poor, and a stranger in the island. 

' Will you do me a service ? ' said Kokua. * As 
one stranger to another, and as an old man to a 
young woman, will you help a daughter of Hawaii ? ' 

' Ah,' said the old man. ' So you are the witch 
from the Eight Islands, and even my old soul you 
seek to entangle. But I have heard of you, and 
defy your wickedness.' 

' Sit down here,' said Kokua, ' and let me tell you 
a tale.' And she told him the story of Keawe from 
the beginning to the end. 

'And now,' said she, 'I am his wife, whom he 
bought with his soul's welfare. And what should I 
do ? If I went to him myself and offered to buy it, 
142 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

he would refuse. But if you go, he will sell it 
eagerly ; I will await you here ; you will buy it for 
four centimes, and I will buy it again for three. 
And the Lord strengthen a poor girl ! ' 

' If you meant falsely,' said the old man, ' I think 
God would strike you dead.' 

* He would ! ' cried Kokua. ' Be sure he would. 
I could not be so treacherous — God would not 
suffer it' 

' Give me the four centimes and await me here,' 
said the old man. 

Now, when Kokua stood alone in the street, her 
spirit died. The wind roared in the trees, and it 
seemed to her the rushing of the flames of hell ; the 
shadows tossed in the light of the street lamp, and 
they seemed to her the snatching hands of evil ones. 
If she had had the strength, she must have run 
away, and if she had had the breath she must have 
screamed aloud ; but in truth she could do neither, 
and stood and trembled in the avenue, like an 
affrighted child. 

Then she saw the old man returning, and he had 
the bottle in his hand. 

' I have done your bidding,' said he. ' I left your 
husband weeping like a child ; to-night he will sleep 
easy.' And he held the bottle forth. 

* Before you give it me,' Kokua panted, ' take the 
good with the evil — ask to be delivered from your 
cough.' 

'I am an old man,' replied the other, 'and too 
near the gate of the grave to take a favour from the 

143 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

devil. — But what is this? Why do you not take 
the bottle ? Do you hesitate ? ' 

' Not hesitate ! ' cried Kokua. * I am only weak. 
Give me a moment. It is my hand resists, my flesh 
shrinks back from the accursed thing. One moment 
only ! ' 

The old man looked upon Kokua kindly. ' Poor 
child ! ' said he, * you fear ; your soul misgives you. 
Well, let me keep it. I am old, and can never 
more be happy in this world, and as for the 
next ' 

s Give it me ! ' gasped Kokua. ' There is your 
money. Do you think I am so base as that ? Give 
me the bottle.' 

' God bless you, child,' said the old man. 

Kokua concealed the bottle under her holoku, said 
farewell to the old man, and walked off along the 
avenue, she cared not whither. For all roads were 
now the same to her, and led equally to hell. Some- 
times she walked, and sometimes ran ; sometimes 
she screamed out loud in the night, and sometimes 
lay by the wayside in the dust and wept. All that 
she had heard of hell came back to her ; she saw the 
flames blaze, and she smelt the smoke, and her flesh 
withered on the coals. 

Near day she came to her mind again, and 
returned to the house. It was even as the old man 
said — Keawe slumbered like a child. Kokua stood 
and gazed upon his face. 

' Now, my husband,' said she, ' it is your turn to 
sleep. When you wake it will be your turn to sing 
144 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

and laugh. But for poor Kokua, alas ! that meant 
no evil — for poor Kokua no more sleep, no more 
singing, no more delight, whether in earth or 
heaven.' 

With that she lay down in the bed by his side, 
and her misery was so extreme that she fell in a deep 
slumber instantly. 

Late in the morning her husband woke her and 
gave her the good news. It seemed he was silly 
with delight, for he paid no heed to her distress, ill 
though she dissembled it. The words stuck in her 
mouth, it mattered not ; Keawe did the speaking. 
She ate not a bite, but who was to observe it ? for 
Keawe cleared the dish. Kokua saw and heard him, 
like some strange thing in a dream ; there were 
times when she forgot or doubted, and put her hands 
to her brow ; to know herself doomed and hear her 
husband babble seemed so monstrous. 

All the while Keawe was eating and talking, and 
planning the time of their return, and thanking her 
for saving him, and fondling her, and calling her the 
true helper after all. He laughed at the old man 
that was fool enough to buy that bottle. 

'A worthy old man he seemed,' Keawe said. 
'But no one can judge by appearances. For why 
did the old reprobate require the bottle ? ' 

'My husband,' said Kokua humbly, 'his purpose 
may have been good.' 

Keawe laughed like an angry man. 

' Fiddle-de-dee ! ' cried Keawe. ' An old rogue, 
I tell you, and an old ass to boot. For the bottle 
19— k 145 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

was hard enough to sell at four centimes; and at 
three it will be quite impossible. The margin is not 
broad enough, the thing begins to smell of scorch- 
ing brrr ! ' said he, and shuddered. ' It is true 

I bought it myself at a cent, when I knew not there 
were smaller coins. I was a fool for my pains ; 
there will never be found another : and whoever has 
that bottle now will carry it to the pit.' 

* O my husband ! ' said Kokua. ' Is it not a 
terrible thing to save oneself by the eternal ruin of 
another? It seems to me I could not laugh. I 
would be humbled. I would be filled with melan- 
choly. I would pray for the poor holder. ' 

Then Keawe, because he felt the truth of what 
she said, grew the more angry. ' Heighty-teighty ! ' 
cried he. ' You may be filled with melancholy if 
you please. It is not the mind of a good wife. If 
you thought at all of me you would sit shamed.' 

Thereupon he went out, and Kokua was alone. 

What chance had she to sell that bottle at two 
centimes? None, she perceived. And if she had 
any, here was her husband hurrying her away to a 
country where there was nothing lower than a cent. 
And here — on the morrow of her sacrifice — was her 
husband leaving her and blaming her. 

She would not even try to profit by what time 
she had, but sat in the house, and now had the 
bottle out and viewed it with unutterable fear, and 
now, with loathing, hid it out of sight. 

By and by Keawe came back, and would have 
her take a drive. 
146 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

' My husband, I am ill,' she said. ' I am out of 
heart. Excuse me, I can take no pleasure.' 

Then was Keawe more wroth than ever. With her, 
because he thought she was brooding over the case of 
the old man ; and with himself, because he thought 
she was right, and was ashamed to be so happy. 

'This is your truth,' cried he, 'and this your 
affection ! Your husband is just saved from eternal 
ruin, which he encountered for the love of you — 
and you can take no pleasure ! Kokua, you have 
a disloyal heart.' 

He went forth again furious, and wandered in 
the town all day. He met friends, and drank with 
them ; they hired a carriage and drove into the 
country, and there drank again. All the time 
Keawe was ill at ease, because he was taking this 
pastime while his wife was sad, and because he knew 
iii his heart that she was more right than he ; and 
the knowledge made him drink the deeper. 

Now there was an old brutal Haole drinking with 
him, one that had been a boatswain of a whaler, 
a runaway, a digger in gold mines, a convict in 
prisons. He had a low mind and a foul mouth ; 
he loved to drink and to see others drunken ; and 
he pressed the glass upon Keawe. Soon there was 
no more money in the company. 

' Here, you ! ' says the boatswain, ' you are rich, 
you have been always saying. You have a bottle or 
some foolishness.' 

' Yes,' says Keawe, ' I am rich ; I will go back 
and get some money from my wife, who keeps it.' 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

* That's a bad idea, mate,' said the boatswain. 
' Never you trust a petticoat with dollars. They 're 
all as false as water ; you keep an eye on her.' 

Now this word stuck in Keawe's mind; for he 
was muddled with what he had been drinking. 

* I should not wonder but she was false, indeed,' 
thought he. * Why else should she be so cast down 
at my release ? But I will show her I am not the 
man to be fooled. I will catch her in the act.' 

Accordingly, when they were back in town, 
Keawe bade the boatswain wait for him at the 
corner, by the old calaboose, and went forward up 
the avenue alone to the door of his house. The 
night had come again ; there was a light within, 
but never a sound ; and Keawe crept about the 
corner, opened the back-door softly, and looked 
in. 

There was Kokua on the floor, the lamp at her 
side ; before her was a milk-white bottle, with a 
round belly and a long neck ; and as she viewed it, 
Kokua wrung her hands. 

A long time Keawe stood and looked in the door- 
way. At first he was struck stupid ; and then fear 
fell upon him that the bargain had been made amiss, 
and the bottle had come back to him as it came at 
San Francisco ; and at that his knees were loosened, 
and the fumes of the wine departed from his head 
like mists off a river in the morning. And then he 
had another thought; and it was a strange one, 
that made his cheeks to burn. 

' I must make sure of this,' thought he. 
148 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

So he closed the door, and went softly round the 
corner again, and then came noisily in, as though 
he were but now returned. And, lo ! by the time 
he opened the front door no bottle was to be seen ; 
and Kokua sat in a chair and started up like one 
awakened out of sleep. 

* I have been drinking all day and making merry,' 
said Keawe. 'I have been with good companions, 
and now 1 only come back for money, and return to 
drink and carouse with them again.' 

Both his face and voice were as stern as judgment, 
but Kokua was too troubled to observe. 

' You do well to use your own, my husband,' said 
she, and her words trembled. 

* O, I do well in all things,' said Keawe, and he 
went straight to the chest and took out money. 
But he looked besides in the corner where they kept 
the bottle, and there was no bottle there. 

At that the chest heaved upon the floor like 
a sea-billow, and the house span about him like a 
wreath of smoke, for he saw he was lost now, and 
there was no escape. 'It is what I feared,' he 
thought. ' It is she who has bought it.' 

And then he came to himself a little and rose up ; 
but the sweat streamed on his face as thick as the 
rain and as cold as the well-water. 

'Kokua,' said he, 'I said to you to-day what ill 
became me. Now I return to carouse with my jolly 
companions,' and at that he laughed a little quietly. 
' I will take more pleasure in the cup if you for- 
give me.' 

149 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

She clasped his knees in a moment; she kissed 
his knees with flowing tears. 

* O,' she cried, * I asked but a kind word ! ' 

6 Let us never one think hardly of the other,' said 
Keawe, and was gone out of the house. 

Now, the money that Keawe had taken was only 
some of that store of centime pieces they had laid in 
at their arrival. It was very sure he had no mind to 
be drinking. His wife had given her soul for him, 
now he must give his for hers ; no other thought 
was in the world with him. 

At the corner, by the old calaboose, there was the 
boatswain waiting. 

' My wife has the bottle,' said Keawe, * and, 
unless you help me to recover it, there can be no 
more money and no more liquor to-night.' 

' You do not mean to say you are serious about 
that bottle ? ' cried the boatswain. 

' There is the lamp,' said Keawe. ' Do I look as 
if I was jesting ? ' 

'That is so,' said the boatswain. 'You look as 
serious as a ghost.' 

' Well, then,' said Keawe, * here are two centimes ; 
you must go to my wife in the house, and offer her 
these for the bottle, which (if I am not much mis- 
taken) she will give you instantly. Bring it to me 
here, and I will buy it back from you for one ; for 
that is the law with this bottle, that it still must be 
sold for a less sum. But whatever you do, never 
breathe a word to her that you have come from 
me.' 

150 



THE BOTTLE IMP 

* Mate, I wonder are you making a fool of me ? ' 
asked the boatswain. 

' It will do you no harm if I am,' returned Keawe. 

1 That is so, mate,' said the boatswain. 

' And if you doubt me,' added Keawe, ' you can 
try. As soon as you are clear of the house, wish to 
have your pocket full of money, or a bottle of the 
best rum, or what you please, and you will see 
the virtue of the thing.' 

' Very well, Kanaka,' says the boatswain. ' I will 
try; but if you are having your fun out of me, I 
will take my fun out of you with a belaying-pin.' 

So the whaler-man went off up the avenue ; and 
Keawe stood and waited. It was near the same 
spot where Kokua had waited the night before ; but 
Keawe was more resolved, and never faltered in his 
purpose ; only his soul was bitter with despair. 

It seemed a long time he had to wait before he 
heard a voice singing in the darkness of the avenue. 
He knew the voice to be the boatswain's ; but it 
was strange how drunken it appeared upon a sudden. 

Next, the man himself came stumbling into the 
light of the lamp. He had the devil's bottle but- 
toned in his coat ; another bottle was in his hand ; 
and even as he came in view he raised it to his 
mouth and drank. 

' You have it,' said Keawe. ' I see that.' 

'Hands off!' cried the boatswain, jumping back. 
1 Take a step near me and I '11 smash your mouth. 
You thought you could make a cat's-paw of me, did 



you?' 



1.5* 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

* What do you mean ? ' cried Keawe. 

' Mean ? ' cried the boatswain. ' This is a pretty 
good bottle, this is ; that 's what I mean. How I 
got it for two centimes I can't make out ; but I 'm 
sure you shan't have it for one.' 

1 You mean you won't sell it ? ' gasped Keawe. 

* No, sir ! ' cried the boatswain. * But I '11 give 
you a drink of the rum, if you like.' 

* I tell you,' said Keawe, ' the man who has that 
bottle goes to hell.' 

' I reckon I 'm going anyway,' returned the sailor ; 
' and this bottle 's the best thing to go with I Ve 
struck yet. No, sir ! ' he cried again, * this is my 
bottle now, and you can go and fish for another.' 

* Can this be true ? ' Keawe cried. * For your own 
sake, I beseech you, sell it me ! ' 

' I don't value any of your talk,' replied the boat- 
swain. 'You thought I was a flat; now you see 
I 'm not ; and there 's an end. If you won't have a 
swallow of the rum I '11 have one myself. Here 's 
your health, and good-night to you ! ' 

So off he went down the avenue towards town, 
and there goes the bottle out of the story. S 

But Keawe ran to Kokua light as the wind ; and 
great was their joy that night; and great, since 
then, has been the peace of all their days in the 
Bright House. 



152 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

Keola was married with Lehua, daughter of Kala- 
make, the wise man of Molokai, and he kept his 
dwelling with the father of his wife. There was no 
man more cunning than that prophet ; he read the 
stars, he could divine by the bodies of the dead, and 
by the means of evil creatures : he could go alone 
into the highest parts of the mountain, into the 
region of the hobgoblins, and there he would lay 
snares to entrap the spirits of ancient. 

For this reason no man was more consulted in all 
the Kingdom of Hawaii. Prudent people bought, 
and sold, and married, and laid out their lives by 
his counsels ; and the King had him twice to Kona 
to seek the treasures of Kamehameha. Neither was 
any man more feared : of his enemies, some had 
dwindled in sickness by the virtue of his incanta- 
tions, and some had been spirited away, the life and 
the clay both, so that folk looked in vain for so 
much as a bone of their bodies. It was rumoured 
that he had the art or the gift of the old heroes. 
Men had seen him at night upon the mountains, 
stepping from one cliff to the next ; they had seen 

155 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

him walking in the high forest, and his head and 
shoulders were above the trees. 

This Kalamake was a strange man to see. He 
was come of the best blood in Molokai and Maui, 
of a pure descent ; and yet he was more white to 
look upon than any foreigner : his hair the colour of 
dry grass, and his eyes red and very blind, so that 
1 Blind as Kalamake, that can see across to-morrow ' 
was a byword in the islands. 

Of all these doings of his father-in-law, Keola 
knew a little by the common repute, a little more 
he suspected, and the rest he ignored. But there 
was one thing troubled him. Kalamake was a man 
that spared for nothing, whether to eat or to drink 
or to wear ; and for all he paid in bright new dollars. 
* Bright as Kalamake's dollars ' was another saying 
in the Eight Isles. Yet he neither sold, nor planted, 
nor took hire — only now and then for his sorceries 
— and there was no source conceivable for so much 
silver coin. 

It chanced one day Keola's wife was gone upon a 
visit to Kaunakakai, on the lee side of the island, 
and the men were forth at the sea-fishing. But 
Keola was an idle dog, and he lay in the verandah 
and watched the surf beat on the shore and the 
birds fly about the cliff. It was a chief thought 
with him always — the thought of the bright dollars. 
When he lay down to bed he would be wondering 
why they were so many, and when he woke at morn 
he would be wondering why they were all new ; and 
the thing was never absent from his mind. But 
156 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

this day of all days he made sure in his heart of 
some discovery. For it seems he had observed the 
place where Kalamake kept his treasure, which was 
a lockfast desk against the parlour wall, under the 
print of Kamehameha the Fifth, and a photograph 
of Queen Victoria with her crown ; and it seems 
again that, no later than the night before, he found 
occasion to look in, and behold ! the bag lay there 
empty. And this was the day of the steamer; he 
could see her smoke off Kalaupapa ; and she must 
soon arrive with a month's goods, tinned salmon and 
gin, and all manner of rare luxuries for Kalamake. 

'Now if he can pay for his goods to-day,' Keola 
thought, ' I shall know for certain that the man is 
a warlock, and the dollars come out of the Devil's 
pocket. ' 

While he was so thinking, there was his father-in- 
law behind him, looking vexed. 

' Is that the steamer ? ' he asked. 

* Yes,' said Keola. ' She has but to call at Pele- 
kunu, and then she will be here.' 

* There is no help for it then,' returned Kalamake, 
'and I must take you in my confidence, Keola, for 
the lack of any one better. Come here within the 
house.' 

So they stepped together into the parlour, which 
was a very fine room, papered and hung with prints, 
and furnished with a rocking-chair, and a table and 
a sofa in the European style. There was a shelf 
of books besides, and a family Bible in the midst of 
the table, and the lockfast writing-desk against the 

157 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

wall ; so that any one could see it was the house of 
a man of substance. 

Kalamake made Keola close the shutters of the 
windows, while he himself locked all the doors and 
set open the lid of the desk. From this he brought 
forth a pair of necklaces hung with charms and 
shells, a bundle of dried herbs, and the dried leaves 
of trees, and a green branch of palm. 

* What I am about,' said he, * is a thing beyond 
wonder. The men of old were wise ; they wrought 
marvels, and this among the rest ; but that was at 
night, in the dark, under the fit stars and in the 
desert. The same will I do here in my own house 
and under the plain eye of day.' 

So saying, he put the Bible under the cushion of 
the sofa so that it was all covered, brought out from 
the same place a mat of a wonderfully fine texture, 
and heaped the herbs and leaves on sand in a tin 
pan. And then he and Keola put on the necklaces 
and took their stand upon the opposite corners of 
the mat. 

' The time comes,' said the warlock ; ' be not 
afraid.' 

With that he set flame to the herbs, and began 
to mutter and wave the branch of palm. At first 
the light was dim because of the closed shutters ; 
but the herbs caught strongly afire, and the flames 
beat upon Keola, and the room glowed with the 
burning: and next the smoke rose and made his 
head swim and his eyes darken, and the sound of 
Kalamake muttering ran in his ears. And suddenly, 
158 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

to the mat on which they were standing came a 
snatch or twitch, that seemed to be more swift than 
lightning. In the same wink the room was gone 
and the house, the breath all beaten from Keola's 
body. Volumes of light rolled upon his eyes and 
head, and he found himself transported to a beach 
of the sea, under a strong sun, with a great surf 
roaring: he and the warlock standing there on the 
same mat, speechless, gasping and grasping at one 
another, and passing their hands before their 
eyes. 

' What was this ? ' cried Keola, who came to him- 
self the first, because he was the younger. 'The 
pang of it was like death.' 

'It matters not,' panted Kalamake. 'It is now 
done. ' 

' And in the name of God where are we ? ' cried 
Keola. 

'That is not the question,' replied the sorcerer. 
' Being here, we have matter in our hands, and that 
we must attend to. Go, while I recover my breath, 
into the borders of the wood, and bring me the 
leaves of such and such a herb, and such and such a 
tree, which you will find to grow there plentifully — 
three handfuls of each. And be speedy. We must 
be home again before the steamer comes ; it would 
seem strange if we had disappeared.' And he sat 
on the sand and panted. 

Keola went up the beach, which was of shining 
sand and coral, strewn with singular shells ; and he 
thought in his heart — 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

* How do I not know this beach ? I will come 
here again and gather shells.' 

In front of him was a line of palms against the 
sky ; not like the palms of the Eight Islands, but tall 
and fresh and beautiful, and hanging out withered 
fans like gold among the green, and he thought in 
his heart — 

' It is strange I should not have found this grove. 
I will come here again, when it is warm, to sleep.' 
And he thought, 'How warm it has grown sud- 
denly ! ' For it was winter in Hawaii, and the day 
had been chill. And he thought also, ' Where are 
the grey mountains ? And where is the high cliff 
with the hanging forest and the wheeling birds ? ' 
And the more he considered, the less he might con- 
ceive in what quarter of the islands he was fallen. 

In the border of the grove, where it met the 
beach, the herb was growing, but the tree farther 
back. Now, as Keola went toward the tree, he was 
aware of a young woman who had nothing on her 
body but a belt of leaves. 

' Well ! ' thought Keola, ' they are not very par- 
ticular about their dress in this part of the country.' 
And he paused, supposing she would observe him 
and escape ; and, seeing that she still looked before 
her, stood and hummed aloud. Up she leaped at 
the sound. Her face was ashen ; she looked this 
way and that, and her mouth gaped with the terror 
of her soul. But it was a strange thing that her 
eyes did not rest upon Keola. 

' Good-day,' said he. ' You need not be so 
1 60 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

frightened ; I will not eat you.' And he had scarce 
opened his mouth before the young woman fled into 
the bush. 

'These are strange manners,' thought Keola. 
And, not thinking what he did, ran after her. 

As she ran, the girl kept crying in some speech 
that was not practised in Hawaii, yet some of the 
words were the same, and he knew she kept calling 
and warning others. And presently he saw more 
people running — men, women, and children, one 
with another, all running and crying like people at 
a fire. And with that he began to grow afraid 
himself, and returned to Kalamake, bringing the 
leaves. Him he told what he had seen. 

'You must pay no heed,' said Kalamake. 'All 
this is like a dream and shadows. All will disappear 
and be forgotten.' 

' It seemed none saw me,' said Keola. 

' And none did,' replied the sorcerer. ' We walk 
here in the broad sun invisible by reason of these 
charms. Yet they hear us ; and therefore it is well 
to speak softly, as I do.' 

With that he made a circle round the mat with 
stones, and in the midst he set the leaves. 

' It will be your part,' said he, 'to keep the leaves 
alight, and feed the fire slowly. While they blaze 
(which is but for a little moment) I must do my 
errand ; and before the ashes blacken, the same 
power that brought us carries us away. Be ready 
now with the match ; and do you call me in good 
time, lest the flames burn out and I be left.' 
19— l 161 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

As soon as the leaves caught, the sorcerer leaped 
like a deer out of the circle, and began to race along 
the beach like a hound that has been bathing. As 
he ran he kept stooping to snatch shells ; and it 
seemed to Keola that they glittered as he took 
them. The leaves blazed with a clear flame that 
consumed them swiftly ; and presently Keola had 
but a handful left, and the sorcerer was far off, 
running and stopping. 

* Back ! ' cried Keola. ' Back ! The leaves are 
near done.' 

At that Kalamake turned, and if he had run 
before, now he flew. But fast as he ran, the leaves 
burned faster. The flame was ready to expire when, 
with a great leap, he bounded on the mat. The 
wind of his leaping blew it out ; and with that the 
beach was gone, and the sun and the sea, and they 
stood once more in the dimness of the shuttered 
parlour, and were once more shaken and blinded ; 
and on the mat betwixt them lay a pile of shining 
dollars. Keola ran to the shutters ; and there was 
the steamer tossing in the swell close in. 

The same night Kalamake took his son-in-law 
apart, and gave him five dollars in his hand. 

* Keola,' said he, * if you are a wise man (which I 
am doubtful of) you will think you slept this after- 
noon on the verandah, and dreamed as you were 
sleeping. I am a man of few words, and I have for 
my helpers people of short memories.' 

Never a word more said Kalamake, nor referred 
again to that affair. But it ran all the while in 
162 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

Keola's head — if he were lazy before he would now 
do nothing. 

' Why should I work,' thought he, ' when I have 
a father-in-law who makes dollars of sea-shells ? ' 

Presently his share was spent. He spent it all 
upon fine clothes. And then he was sorry : 

'For,' thought he, 'I had done better to have 
bought a concertina, with which I might have en- 
tertained myself all day long.' And then he began 
to grow vexed with Kalamake. 

'This man has the soul of a dog,' thought he. 
' He can gather dollars when he pleases on the beach, 
and he leaves me to pine for a concertina ! Let him 
beware : I am no child, I am as cunning as he, and 
hold his secret.' With that he spoke to his wife 
Lehua, and complained of her father's manners. 

' I would let my father be,' said Lehua. ' He is a 
dangerous man to cross.' 

' I care that for him ! ' cried Keola ; and snapped 
his fingers. ' I have him by the nose. I can make 
him do what I please.' And he told Lehua the 
story. 

But she shook her head. 

' You may do what you like,' said she ; ' but as 
sure as you thwart my father, you will be no more 
heard of. Think of this person, and that person ; 
think of Hua, who was a noble of the House of 
Representatives, and went to Honolulu every year ; 
and not a bone or a hair of him was found. Re- 
member Kamau, and how he wasted to a thread, so 
that his wife lifted him with one hand. Keola, you 

163 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

are a baby in my father's hands ; he will take you 
with his thumb and finger and eat you like a 
shrimp.' 

Now Keola was truly afraid of Kalamake, but he 
was vain too ; and these words of his wife incensed 
him. 

'Very well,' said he, 'if that is what you think of 
me, I will show how much you are deceived.' And 
he went straight to where his father-in-law was 
sitting in the parlour. 

' Kalamake,' said he, ' I want a concertina.' 

' Do you indeed ? ' said Kalamake. 

'Yes,' said he, 'and I may as well tell you plainly, 
I mean to have it. A man who picks up dollars on 
the beach can certainly afford a concertina.' 

' I had no idea you had so much spirit,' replied 
the sorcerer. ' I thought you were a timid, useless 
lad, and I cannot describe how much pleased I am 
to find I was mistaken. Now I begin to think I 
may have found an assistant and successor in my 
difficult business. A concertina? You shall have 
the best in Honolulu. And to-night, as soon as it 
is dark, you and I will go and find the money.' 

4 Shall we return to the beach ? ' asked Keola. 

' No, no ! ' replied Kalamake ; ' you must begin to 
learn more of my secrets. Last time I taught you 
to pick shells ; this time I shall teach you to catch 
fish. Are you strong enough to launch Pili's 
boat ? ' 

' I think I am,' returned Keola. ' But why should 
we not take your own, which is afloat already ? ' 
164 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

' I have a reason which you will understand 
thoroughly before to-morrow,' said Kalamake. 
6 Pili's boat is the better suited for my purpose. So, 
if you please, let us meet there as soon as it is dark ; 
and in the meanwhile let us keep our own counsel, 
for there is no cause to let the family into our 
business.' 

Honey is not more sweet than was the voice of 
Kalamake, and Keola could scarce contain his satis- 
faction. 

'I might have had my concertina weeks ago,' 
thought he, 'and there is nothing needed in this 
world but a little courage.' 

Presently after he spied Lehua weeping, and was 
half in a mind to tell her all was well. 

' But no,' thinks he ; * I shall wait till I can show 
her the concertina ; we shall see what the chit will 
do then. Perhaps she will understand in the future 
that her husband is a man of some intelligence.' 

As soon as it was dark father and son-in-law 
launched Pili's boat and set the sail. There was a 
great sea, and it blew strong from the leeward ; but 
the boat was swift and light and dry, and skimmed 
the waves. The wizard had a lantern, which he lit 
and held with his finger through the ring ; and the 
two sat in the stern and smoked cigars, of which 
Kalamake had always a provision, and spoke like 
friends of magic and the great sums of money which 
they could make by its exercise, and what they 
should buy first, and what second; and Kalamake 
talked like a father. 

165 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

Presently he looked all about, and above him at 
the stars, and back at the island, which was already 
three parts sunk under the sea, and he seemed to 
consider ripely his position. 

* Look ! ' says he, ' there is Molokai already far 
behind us, and Maui like a cloud ; and by the bear- 
ing of these three stars I know I am come where I 
desire. This part of the sea is called the Sea of the 
Dead. It is in this place extraordinarily deep, and 
the floor is all covered with the bones of men, and in 
the holes of this part gods and goblins keep their 
habitation. The flow of the sea is to the north, 
stronger than a shark can swim, and any man who 
shall here be thrown out of a ship it bears away like 
a wild horse into the uttermost ocean. Presently 
he is spent and goes down, and his bones are 
scattered with the rest, and the gods devour his 
spirit. ' 

Fear came on Keola at the words, and he looked, 
and by the light of the stars and the lantern the 
warlock seemed to change. 

' What ails you ? ' cried Keola, quick and sharp. 

* It is not I who am ailing,' said the wizard ; ' but 
there is one here very sick.' 

With that he changed his grasp upon the lantern, 
and, behold ! as he drew his finger from the ring, the 
finger stuck and the ring was burst, and his hand 
was grown to be of the bigness of three. 

At that sight Keola screamed and covered his 
face. 

But Kalamake held up the lantern. 'Look 
166 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

rather at my face ! ' said he — and his head was 
huge as a barrel ; and still he grew and grew as a 
cloud grows on a mountain, and Keola sat before 
him screaming, and the boat raced on the great 
seas. 

'And now,' said the wizard, 'what do you think 
about that concertina ? and are you sure you would 
not rather have a flute ? No ? ' says he ; ' that is 
well, for I do not like my family to be changeable of 
purpose. But I begin to think I had better get out 
of this paltry boat, for my bulk swells to a very 
unusual degree, and if we are not the more careful, 
she will presently be swamped.' 

With that he threw his legs over the side. Even 
as he did so, the greatness of the man grew thirty- 
fold and forty-fold as swift as sight or thinking, so 
that he stood in the deep seas to the armpits, and his 
head and shoulders rose like a high isle, and the 
swell beat and burst upon his bosom, as it beats and 
breaks against a cliff. The boat ran still to the 
north, but he reached out his hand, and took the 
gunwale by the finger and thumb, and broke 
the side like a biscuit, and Keola was spilled into the 
sea. And the pieces of the boat the sorcerer crushed 
in the hollow of his hand and flung miles away into 
the night. 

'Excuse me taking the lantern,' said he; 'for I 
have a long wade before me, and the land is far, and 
the bottom of the sea uneven, and I feel the bones 
under my toes.' 

And he turned and went off walking with great 

167 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

strides ; and as often as Keola sank in the trough he 
could see him no longer; but as often as he was 
heaved upon the crest, there he was striding and 
dwindling, and he held the lamp high over his 
head, and the waves broke white about him as he 
went. 

Since first the islands were fished out of the sea 
there was never a man so terrified as this Keola. 
He swam indeed, but he swam as puppies swim 
when they are cast in to drown, and knew not 
wherefore. He could but think of the hugeness of 
the swelling of the warlock, of that face which was 
great as a mountain, of those shoulders that were 
broad as an isle, and of the seas that beat on them 
in vain. He thought, too, of the concertina, and 
shame took hold upon him ; and of the dead men's 
bones, and fear shook him. 

Of a sudden he was aware of something dark 
against the stars that tossed, and a light below, and 
a brightness of the cloven sea ; and he heard speech 
of men. He cried out aloud and a voice answered ; 
and in a twinkling the bows of a ship hung above 
him on a wave like a thing balanced, and swooped 
down. He caught with his two hands in the chains 
of her, and the next moment was buried in the 
rushing seas, and the next hauled on board by 
seamen. 

They gave him gin and biscuit and dry clothes, 

and asked him how he came where they found him, 

and whether the light which they had seen was the 

lighthouse Lae o Ka Laau. But Keola knew white 

168 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

men are like children and only believe their own 
stories ; so about himself he told them what he 
pleased, and as for the light (which was Kalamake's 
lantern) he vowed he had seen none. 

This ship was a schooner bound for Honolulu, and 
then to trade in the low islands ; and by a very good 
chance for Keola she had lost a man off the bow- 
sprit in a squall. It was no use talking. Keola 
durst not stay in the Eight Islands. Word goes so 
quickly, and all men are so fond to talk and carry 
news, that if he hid in the north end of Kauai or in 
the south end of Kaii, the wizard would have wind 
of it before a month, and he must perish. So 
he did what seemed the most prudent, and shipped 
sailor in the place of the man who had been 
drowned. 

In some ways the ship was a good place. The 
food was extraordinarily rich and plenty, with 
biscuits and salt beef every day, and pea-soup and 
puddings made of flour and suet twice a week, so 
that Keola grew fat. The captain also was a good 
man, and the crew no worse than other whites. 
The trouble was the mate, who was the most difficult 
man to please Keola had ever met with, and beat 
and cursed him daily, both for what he did and what 
he did not. The blows that he dealt were very sore, 
for he was strong ; and the words he used were very 
unpalatable, for Keola was come of a good family 
and accustomed to respect. And what was the 
worst of all, whenever Keola found a chance to sleep, 
there was the mate awake and stirring him up with 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

a rope's end. Keola saw it would never do ; and he 
made up his mind to run away. 

They were about a month out from Honolulu 
when they made the land. It was a fine starry 
night, the sea was smooth as well as the sky fair ; it 
blew a steady trade ; and there was the island on 
their weather bow, a ribbon of palm-trees lying flat 
along the sea. The captain and the mate looked at 
it with the night-glass, and named the name of it, 
and talked of it, beside the wheel where Keola 
was steering. It seemed it was an isle where no 
traders came. By the captain's way, it was an isle 
besides where no man dwelt ; but the mate thought 
otherwise. 

' I don't give a cent for the directory,' said he. 
* I 've been past here one night in the schooner 
Eugenie ; it was just such a night as this ; they were 
fishing with torches, and the beach was thick with 
lights like a town.' 

' Well, well,' says the captain, * its steep-to, that 's 
the great point ; and there ain't any outlying dangers 
by the chart, so we '11 just hug the lee side of it. 
— Keep her romping full, don't I tell you ! ' he cried 
to Keola, who was listening so hard that he forgot 
to steer. 

And the mate cursed him, and swore that Kanaka 
was for no use in the world, and if he got started 
after him with a belaying-pin, it would be a cold day 
for Keola. 

And so the captain and mate lay down on the 
house together, and Keola was left to himself. 
170 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

' This island will do very well for me,' he thought ; 
' if no traders deal there, the mate will never come. 
And as for Kalamake, it is not possible he can ever 
get as far as this.' 

With that he kept edging the schooner nearer in. 
He had to do this quietly, for it was the trouble 
with these white men, and above all with the mate, 
that you could never be sure of them ; they would 
all be sleeping sound, or else pretending, and if a 
sail shook they would jump to their feet and fall on 
you with a rope's end. So Keola edged her up 
little by little, and kept all drawing. And presently 
the land was close on board, and the sound of the 
sea on the sides of it grew loud. 

With that the mate sat up suddenly upon the 
house. 

* What are you doing ? ' he roars. ' You '11 have 
the ship ashore ! ' 

And he made one bound for Keola, and Keola 
made another clean over the rail and plump into the 
starry sea. When he came up again, the schooner 
had payed off on her true course, and the mate stood 
by the wheel himself, and Keola heard him cursing. 
The sea was smooth under the lee of the island ; it 
was warm besides, and Keola had his sailor's knife, 
so he had no fear of sharks. A little way before 
him the trees stopped ; there was a break in the line 
of the land like the mouth of a harbour ; and the 
tide, which was then flowing, took him up and 
carried him through. One minute he was without, 
and the next within : had floated there in a wide 

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ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

shallow water, bright with ten thousand stars, and 
all about him was the ring of the land, with its string 
of palm-trees. And he was amazed, because this 
was a kind of island he had never heard of. 

The time of Keola in that place was in two periods 
— the period when he was alone, and the period 
when he was there with the tribe. At first he 
sought everywhere and found no man ; only some 
houses standing in a hamlet, and the marks of fires. 
But the ashes of the fires were cold and the rains 
had washed them away ; and the winds had blown, 
and some of the huts were overthrown. It was here 
he took his dwelling ; and he made a fire drill, and 
a shell hook, and fished and cooked his fish, and 
climbed after green cocoa-nuts, the juice of which he 
drank, for in all the isle there was no water. The 
days were long to him, and the nights terrifying. 
He made a lamp of cocoa-shell, and drew the oil of 
the ripe nuts, and made a wick of fibre; and when 
evening came he closed up his hut, and lit his lamp, 
and lay and trembled till morning. Many a time 
he thought in his heart he would have been better 
in the bottom of the sea, his bones rolling there with 
the others. 

All this while he kept by the inside of the island, 
for the huts were on the shore of the lagoon, and it 
was there the palms grew best, and the lagoon itself 
abounded with good fish. And to the outer side he 
went once only, and he looked but the once at the 
beach of the ocean, and came away shaking. For 
the look of it, with its bright sand, and strewn 
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THE ISLE OF VOICES 

shells, and strong sun and surf, went sore against his 
inclination. 

'It cannot be,' he thought, 'and yet it is very 
like. And how do I know? These white men, 
although they pretend to know where they are sail- 
ing, must take their chance like other people. So 
that after all we may have sailed in a circle, and I 
may be quite near to Molokai, and this may be 
the very beach where my father-in-law gathers his 
dollars.' 

So after that he was prudent, and kept to the land 
side. 

It was perhaps a month later, when the people of 
the place arrived — the fill of six great boats. They 
were a fine race of men, and spoke a tongue that 
sounded very different from the tongue of Hawaii, 
but so many of the words were the same that it was 
not difficult to understand. The men besides were 
very courteous, and the women very towardly ; and 
they made Keola welcome, and built him a house, 
and gave him a wife ; and, what surprised him the 
most, he was never sent to work with the young 
men. 

And now Keola had three periods. First he had 
a period of being very sad, and then he had a period 
when he was pretty merry. Last of all came the 
third, when he was the most terrified man in the four 
oceans. 

The cause of the first period was the girl he had 
to wife. He was in doubt about the island, and he 
might have been in doubt about the speech, of which 

*73 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

he had heard so little when he came there with the 
wizard on the mat. But about his wife there was 
no mistake conceivable, for she was the same girl 
that ran from him crying in the wood. So he had 
sailed all this way, and might as well have stayed in 
Molokai ; and had left home and wife and all his 
friends for no other cause but to escape his enemy, 
and the place he had come to was that wizard's 
hunting-ground, and the shore where he walked 
invisible. It was at this period when he kept the 
most close to the lagoon side, and, as far as he dared, 
abode in the cover of his hut. 

The cause of the second period was talk he heard 
from his wife and the chief islanders. Keola himself 
said little. He was never so sure of his new friends, 
for he judged they were too civil to be wholesome, 
and since he had grown better acquainted with his 
father-in-law the man had grown more cautious. 
So he told them nothing of himself, but only his 
name and descent, and that he came from the Eight 
Islands, and what fine islands they were ; and about 
the king's palace in Honolulu, and how he was a 
chief friend of the king and the missionaries. But 
he put many questions and learned much. The 
island where he was was called the Isle of Voices ; 
it belonged to the tribe, but they made their home 
upon another, three hours' sail to the southward. 
There they lived and had their permanent houses, 
and it was a rich island, where were eggs and 
chickens and pigs, and ships came trading with rum 
and tobacco. It was there the schooner had gone 
174 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

after Keola deserted ; there, too, the mate had died, 
like the fool of a white man as he was. It seems, 
when the ship came, it was the beginning of the 
sickly season in that isle ; when the fish of the lagoon 
are poisonous, and all who eat of them swell up and 
die. The mate was told of it ; he saw the boats 
preparing, because in that season the people leave 
that island and sail to the Isle of Voices ; but he was 
a fool of a white man, who would believe no stories 
but his own, and he caught one of these fish, cooked 
it and ate it, and swelled up and died, which was 
good news to Keola. As for the Isle of Voices, it 
lay solitary the most part of the year; only now 
and then a boat's crew came for copra, and in the 
bad season, when the fish at the main isle were 
poisonous, the tribe dwelt there in a body. It had 
its name from a marvel, for it seemed the seaside of 
it was all beset with invisible devils ; day and night 
you heard them talking one with another in strange 
tongues ; day and night little fires blazed up and 
were extinguished on the beach ; and what was the 
cause of these doings no man might conceive. 
Keola asked them if it were the same in their own 
island where they stayed, and they told him no, not 
there ; nor yet in any other of some hundred isles 
that lay all about them in that sea ; but it was a thing 
peculiar to the Isle of Voices. They told him also 
that these fires and voices were ever on the seaside 
and in the seaward fringes of the wood, and a man 
might dwell by the lagoon two thousand years (if he 
could live so long) and never be any way troubled ; 

175 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

and even on the seaside the devils did no harm if let 
alone. Only once a chief had cast a spear at one of 
the voices, and the same night he fell out of a cocoa- 
nut palm and was killed. 

Keola thought a good bit with himself. He saw 
he would be all right when the tribe returned to the 
main island, and right enough where he was, if he 
kept by the lagoon, yet he had a mind to make 
things righter if he could. So he told the high chief 
he had once been in an isle that was pestered the 
same way, and the folk had found a means to cure 
that trouble. 

' There was a tree growing in the bush there,' says 
he, ' and it seems these devils came to get the leaves 
of it. So the people of the isle cut down the tree 
wherever it was found, and the devils came no 
more.' 

They asked what kind of tree this was, and he 
showed them the tree of which Kalamake burned 
the leaves. They found it hard to believe, yet the 
idea tickled them. Night after night the old men 
debated it in their councils, but the high chief 
(though he was a brave man) was afraid of the 
matter, and reminded them daily of the chief who 
cast a spear against the voices and was killed, and 
the thought of that brought all to a stand again. 

Though he could not yet bring about the destruc- 
tion of the trees, Keola was well enough pleased, 
and began to look about him and take pleasure in 
his days ; and, among other things, he was the kinder 
to his wife, so that the girl began to love him greatly. 
176 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

One day he came to the hut, and she lay on the 
ground lamenting. 

'Why,' said Keola, 'what is wrong with you 
now? ' 

She declared it was nothing. 

The same night she woke him. The lamp burned 
very low, but he saw by her face she was in sorrow. 

' Keola,' she said, 'put your ear to my mouth that 
I may whisper, for no one must hear us. Two days 
before the boats begin to be got ready, go you to 
the sea-side of the isle and lie in a thicket. We 
shall choose that place beforehand, you and I ; and 
hide food; and every night I shall come near by 
there singing. So when a night comes and you do 
not hear me, you shall know we are clean gone 
out of the island, and you may come forth again in 
safety. 

The soul of Keola died within him. 

' What is this ? ' he cried. * I cannot live among 
devils. I will not be left behind upon this isle. 
I am dying to leave it.' 

'You will never leave it alive, my poor Keola,' 
said the girl ; ' for to tell you the truth, my people 
are eaters of men ; but this they keep secret. And 
the reason they will kill you before we leave is be- 
cause in our island ships come, and Donat-Kimaran 
comes and talks for the French, and there is a white 
trader there in a house with a verandah, and a 
catechist. O, that is a fine place indeed! The 
trader has barrels filled with flour; and a French 
warship once came in the lagoon and gave every- 
19— m 177 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

body wine and biscuit. Ah, my poor Keola, I 
wish I could take you there, for great is my love 
to you, and it is the finest place in the seas except 
Papeete.' 

So now Keela was the most terrified man in the 
four oceans. He had heard tell of eaters of men in 
the south islands, and the thing had always been a 
fear to him ; and here it was knocking at his door. 
He had heard besides, by travellers, of their practices, 
and how when they are in a mind to eat a man they 
cherish and fondle him like a mother with a favourite 
baby. And he saw this must be his own case; 
and that was why he had been housed, and fed, and 
wived, and liberated from all work ; and why the 
old men and the chiefs discoursed with him like 
a person of weight. So he lay on his bed and 
railed upon his destiny; and the flesh curdled on his 
bones. 

The next day the people of the tribe were very 
civil, as their way was. They were elegant speakers, 
and they made beautiful poetry, and jested at meals, 
so that a missionary must have died laughing. It 
was little enough Keola cared for their fine ways ; 
all he saw was the white teeth shining in their 
mouths, and his gorge rose at the sight ; and when 
they were done eating, he went and lay in the bush 
like a dead man. 

The next day it was the same, and then his wife 
followed him. 

* Keola,' she said, 'if you do not eat, I tell you 
plainly you will be killed and cooked to-morrow. 
178 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

Some of the old chiefs are murmuring already. They 
think you are fallen sick and must lose flesh.' 

With that Keola got to his feet, and anger burned 
in him. 

' It is little I care one way or the other,' said he. 
' I am between the devil and the deep sea. Since die 
I must, let me die the quickest way ; and since I 
must be eaten at the best of it, let me rather be 
eaten by hobgoblins than by men. Farewell,' said 
he, and he left her standing, and walked to the sea- 
side of that island. 

It was all bare in the strong sun ; there was no sign 
of man, only the beach was trodden, and all about 
him as he went the voices talked and whispered, 
and the little fires sprang up and burned down. All 
tongues of the earth were spoken there ; the French, 
the Dutch, the Russian, the Tamil, the Chinese. 
Whatever land knew sorcery, there were some of its 
people whispering in Keola 's ear. That beach was 
thick as a cried fair, yet no man seen ; and as he 
walked he saw the shells vanish before him, and no 
man to pick them up. I think the devil would have 
been afraid to be alone in such a company : but 
Keola was past fear and courted death. When 
the fires sprang up, he charged for them like a 
bull. Bodiless voices called to and fro ; un- 
seen hands poured sand upon the flames ; and 
they were gone from the beach before he reached 
them. 

* It is plain Kalamake is not here,' he thought, * or 
I must have been killed long since.' 

179 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

With that he sat him down in the margin of the 
wood, for he was tired, and put his chin upon his 
hands. The business before his eyes continued : 
the beach babbled with voices, and the fires sprang 
up and sank, and the shells vanished and were 
renewed again even while he looked. 

'It was a by-day when I was here before,' he 
thought, 'for it was nothing to this.' 

And his head was dizzy with the thought of these 
millions and millions of dollars, and all these hun- 
dreds and hundreds of persons culling them upon 
the beach and flying in the air higher and swifter 
than eagles. 

'And to think how they have fooled me with 
their talk of mints,' says he, ' and that money was 
made there, when it is clear that all the new coin in 
all the world is gathered on these sands ! But I will 
know better the next time ! ' said he. 

And at last, he knew not very well how or when, 
sleep fell on Keola, and he forgot the island and all 
his sorrows. 

Early the next day, before the sun was yet up, a 
bustle woke him. He awoke in fear, for he thought 
the tribe had caught him napping; but it was no 
such matter. Only, on the beach in front of him, 
the bodiless voices called and shouted one upon 
another, and it seemed they all passed and swept 
beside him up the coast of the island. 

' What is afoot now ? ' thinks Keola. And it was 
plain to him it was something beyond ordinary, for 
the fires were not lighted nor the shells taken, but 
1 80 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

the bodiless voices kept posting up the beach, 
and hailing and dying away ; and others follow- 
ing, and by the sound of them these wizards should 
be angry. 

* It is not me they are angry at,' thought Keola, 
* for they pass me close.' 

As when hounds go by, or horses in a race, or 
city folk coursing to a fire, and all men join and 
follow after, so it was now with Keola; and he 
knew not what he did, nor why he did it, but 
there, lo and behold ! he was running with the 
voices. 

So he turned one point of the island, and this 
brought him in view of a second ; and there he 
remembered the wizard trees to have been growing 
by the score together in a wood. From this point 
there went up a hubbub of men crying not to be 
described ; and by the sound of them, those that he 
ran with shaped their course for the same quarter. 
A little nearer, and there began to mingle with the 
outcry the crash of many axes. And at this a 
thought came at last into his mind that the high 
chief had consented; that the men of the tribe 
had set-to cutting down these trees ; that word had 
gone about the isle from sorcerer to sorcerer, and 
these were all now assembling to defend their trees. 
Desire of strange things swept him on. He posted 
with the voices, crossed the beach, and came into 
the borders of the wood, and stood astonished. One 
tree had fallen, others were part hewed away. 
There was the tribe clustered. They were back to 

181 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

back, and bodies lay, and blood flowed among their 
feet. The hue of fear was on all their faces : 
their voices went up to heaven shrill as a weasel's 
cry. 

Have you seen a child when he is all alone and 
has a wooden sword, and fights, leaping and hewing 
with the empty air? Even so the man-eaters 
huddled back to back, and heaved up their axes, 
and laid on, and screamed as they laid on, and 
behold ! no man to contend with them ! only here 
and there Keola saw an axe swinging over against 
them without hands ; and time and again a man of 
the tribe would fall before it, clove in twain or burst 
asunder, and his soul sped howling. 

For a while Keola looked upon this prodigy like 
one that dreams, and then fear took him by the 
midst as sharp as death, that he should behold such 
doings. Even in that same flash the high chief of 
the clan espied him standing, and pointed and 
called out his name. Thereat the whole tribe saw 
him also, and their eyes flashed, and their teeth 
clashed. 

'I am too long here,' thought Keola, and ran 
further out of the wood and down the beach, not 
caring whither. 

' Keola ! ' said a voice close by upon the empty 
sand. 

' Lehua ! is that you ? ' he cried, and gasped, and 
looked in vain for her ; but by the eyesight he was 
stark alone. 

' I saw you pass before,' the voice answered ; ' but 
182 






THE ISLE OF VOICES 

you would not hear me. — Quick ! get the leaves and 
the herbs, and let us free.' 

' You are there with the mat ? ' he asked. 

' Here, at your side,' said she. And he felt her 
arms about him. — * Quick ! the leaves and the herbs, 
before my father can get back ! ' 

So Keola ran for his life, and fetched the wizard 
fuel : and Lehua guided him back, and set his feet 
upon the mat, and made the fire. All the time of 
its burning the sound of the battle towered out 
of the wood ; the wizards and the man-eaters hard 
at fight ; the wizards, the viewless ones, roaring out 
aloud like bulls upon a mountain, and the men of 
the tribe replying shrill and savage out of the terror 
of their souls. And all the time of the burning, 
Keola stood there and listened, and shook, and 
watched how the unseen hands of Lehua poured 
the leaves. She poured them fast, and the flame 
burned high, and scorched Keola's hands ; and she 
speeded and blew the burning with her breath. The 
last leaf was eaten, the flame fell, and the shock 
followed, and there were Keola and Lehua in the 
room at home. 

Now, when Keola could see his wife at last he 
was mighty pleased, and he was mighty pleased to 
be home again in Molokai and sit down beside a 
bowl of poi — for they make no poi on board ships, 
and there was none in the Isle of Voices — and he 
was out of the body with pleasure to be clean 
escaped out of the hands of the eaters of men. 
But there was another matter not so clear, and 

183 



ISLAND NIGHTS' ENTERTAINMENTS 

Lehua and Keola talked of it all night and were 
troubled. There was Kalamake left upon the isle. 
If, by the blessing of God, he could but stick there, 
all were well ; but should he escape and return to 
Molokai, it would be an ill day for his daughter and 
her husband. They spoke of his gift of swelling, 
and whether he could wade that distance in the 
seas. But Keola knew by this time where that 
island was — and that is to say, in the Low or Danger- 
ous Archipelago. So they fetched the atlas and 
looked upon the distance in the map, and by what 
they could make of it, it seemed a far way for an 
old gentleman to walk. Still, it would not do to 
make too sure of a warlock like Kalamake, and 
they determined at last to take counsel of a white 
missionary. 

So the first one that came by, Keola told him 
everything. And the missionary was very sharp 
on him for taking the second wife in the low island ; 
but for all the rest, he vowed he could make neither 
head nor tail of it. 

* However,' says he, ' if you think this money of 
your father's ill gotten, my advice to you would 
be, give some of it to the lepers and some to the 
missionary fund. And as for this extraordinary 
rigmarole, you cannot do better than keep it to 
yourselves.' 

But he warned the police at Honolulu that, by 
all he could make out, Kalamake and Keola had 
been coining false money, and it would not be amiss 
to watch them. 
184 



THE ISLE OF VOICES 

Keola and Lehua took his advice, and gave many- 
dollars to the lepers and the fund. And no doubt 
the advice must have been good, for from that day 
to this Kalamake has never more been heard of. 
But whether he was slain in the battle by the trees, 
or whether he is still kicking his heels upon the 
Isle of Voices, who shall say ? 



185 



THE EBB-TIDE 

A Trio and Quartette 

WRITTEN IN COLLABORATION 
WITH 

LLOYD OSBOURNE 

' There is a tide in the affairs of men.' 



First Edition: Heinemann, London, 1894. 

Originally published 'To-day,' Nov. 11, 1893 
to Feb. 3, 1894. 



CONTENTS 

PART I : THE TRIO 

i. Night on the Beach 

ii. Morning on the Beach — The Three 
Letters .... 

in. The Old Calaboose — Destiny at the 



PAGE 

191 



207 





Door 


. 219 


IV. 


The Yellow Flag 


232 


V. 


The Cargo of Champagne 


241 


VI. 


The Partners 

PART II : THE QUARTETTE 


. 271 


VII. 


The Pearl-Fisher 


283 


VIII. 


Better Acquaintance 


302 


IX. 


The Dinner Party 


319 


X. 


The Open Door . 


331 


XI. 


David and Goliath 


347 


XII. 


A Tail-piece 


373 



189 



NOTE. — On the pronunciation of a name 

very frequently repeated in these pages, 

the reader may take for a guide: — 

' It was the schooner Farallone. ' 

R. L. S.—L. 0. 



PART I : THE TRIO 

CHAPTER I 

NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

Throughout the island world of the Pacific, scat- 
tered men of many European races, and from almost 
every grade of society, carry activity and disseminate 
disease. Some prosper, some vegetate. Some have 
mounted the steps of thrones and owned islands and 
navies. Others again must marry for a livelihood ; 
a strapping, merry, chocolate-coloured dame supports 
them in sheer idleness ; and, dressed like natives, 
but still retaining some foreign element of gait or 
attitude, still perhaps with some relic (such as a 
single eye-glass) of the officer and gentleman, they 
sprawl in palm-leaf verandahs and entertain an 
island audience with memoirs of the music-hall. 
And there are still others, less pliable, less capable, 
less fortunate, perhaps less base, who continue, even 
in these isles of plenty, to lack bread. 

At the far end of the town of Papeete three such 
men were seated on the beach under a purao-tree. 

It was late. Long ago the band had broken up 

191 



THE EBB-TIDE 

and marched musically home, a motley troop of 
men and women, merchant clerks and navy officers, 
dancing in its wake, arms about waist and crowned 
with garlands. Long ago darkness and silence had 
gone from house to house about the tiny pagan city. 
Only the street-lamps shone on, making a glow- 
worm halo in the umbrageous alleys, or drawing a 
tremulous image on the waters of the port. A 
sound of snoring ran among the piles of lumber by 
the Government pier. It was wafted ashore from 
the graceful clipper-bottomed schooners, where they 
lay moored close in like dinghies, and their crews 
were stretched upon the deck under the open sky 
or huddled in a rude tent amidst the disorder of 
merchandise. 

But the men under the purao had no thought of 
sleep. The same temperature in England would 
have passed without remark in summer ; but it was 
bitter cold for the South Seas. Inanimate nature 
knew it, and the bottle of cocoa-nut oD stood frozen 
in every bird-cage house about the island ; and the 
men knew it and shivered. They wore flimsy cotton 
clothes, the same they had sweated in by day and 
run the gauntlet of the tropic showers ; and to 
complete their evil case, they had no breakfast to 
mention, less dinner, and no supper at all. 

In the telling South Sea phrase, these three men 
were on the beach. Common calamity had brought 
them acquainted, as the three most miserable Eng- 
lish-speaking creatures in Tahiti ; and beyond their 
misery, they knew next to nothing of each other, 
192 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

not even their true names. For each had made a 
long apprenticeship in going downward ; and each, 
at some stage of the descent, had been shamed into 
the adoption of an alias. And yet not one of them 
had figured in a court of justice ; two were men of 
kindly virtues ; and one, as he sat and shivered 
under the purao, had a tattered Virgil in his 
pocket. 

Certainly, if money could have been raised upon 
the book, Robert Herrick would long ago have sacri- 
ficed that last possession ; but the demand for litera- 
ture, which is so marked a feature in some parts of 
the South Seas, extends not so far as the dead 
tongues; and the Virgil, which he could not ex- 
change against a meal, had often consoled him in 
his hunger. He would study it, as he lay with 
tightened belt on the floor of the old calaboose, 
seeking favourite passages and finding new ones 
only less beautiful because they lacked the conse- 
cration of remembrance. Or he would pause on 
random country walks ; sit on the path-side, gazing 
over the sea on the mountains of Eimeo ; and dip 
into the Aeneid, seeking sortes. And if the oracle 
(as is the way of oracles) replied with no very cer- 
tain nor encouraging voice, visions of England at 
least would throng upon the exile's memory : the 
busy schoolroom, the green playing-fields, holidays 
at home, and the perennial roar of London, and the 
fireside, and the white head of his father. For it is 
the destiny of those grave, restrained, and classic 
writers, with whom we make enforced and often 

19— N 193 



THE EBB-TIDE 

painful acquaintanceship at school, to pass into the 
blood and become native in the memory ; so that a 
phrase of Virgil speaks not so much of Mantua or 
Augustus, but of English places and the student's 
own irrevocable youth. 

Robert Herrick was the son of an intelligent, active, 
and ambitious man, small partner in a considerable 
London house. Hopes were conceived of the boy ; 
he was sent to a good school, gained there an 
Oxford scholarship, and proceeded in course to the 
western University. With all his talent and taste 
(and he had much of both) Robert was deficient 
in consistency and intellectual manhood, wandered 
in bypaths of study, worked at music or at meta- 
physics when he should have been at Greek, and 
took at last a paltry degree. Almost at the same 
time, the London house was disastrously wound up ; 
Mr. Herrick must begin the world again as a clerk 
in a strange office, and Robert relinquish his ambi- 
tions and accept with gratitude a career that he 
detested and despised. He had no head for figures, 
no interest in affairs, detested the constraint of 
hours, and despised the aims and the success of mer- 
chants. To grow rich was none of his ambitions ; 
rather to do well. A worse or a more bold young 
man would have refused the destiny ; perhaps tried 
his future with his pen ; perhaps enlisted. Robert, 
more prudent, possibly more timid, consented to 
embrace that way of life in which he could most 
readily assist his family. But he did so with a 
mind divided; fled the neighbourhood of former 
194 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

comrades ; and chose, out of several positions placed 
at his disposal, a clerkship in New York. 

His career thenceforth was one of unbroken 
shame. He did not drink, he was exactly honest, 
he was never rude to his employers, yet was 
everywhere discharged. Bringing no interest to 
his duties, he brought no attention ; his day was a 
tissue of things neglected and things done amiss ; 
and from place to place, and from town to town, 
he carried the character of one thoroughly incom- 
petent. No man can bear the word applied to him 
without some flush of colour, as indeed there is 
none other that so emphatically slams in a man's 
face the door of self-respect. And to Herrick, 
who was conscious of talents and acquirements, who 
looked down upon those humble duties in which 
he was found wanting, the pain was the more 
exquisite. Early in his fall, he had ceased to be 
able to make remittances ; shortly after, having 
nothing but failure to communicate, he ceased 
writing home; and about a year before this tale 
begins, turned suddenly upon the streets of San 
Francisco by a vulgar and infuriated German Jew, 
he had broken the last bonds of self-respect, and, 
upon a sudden impulse, changed his name and in- 
vested his last dollar in a passage on the mail 
brigantine, the City of Papeete. With what ex- 
pectation he had trimmed his flight for the South 
Seas, Herrick perhaps scarcely knew. Doubtless 
there were fortunes to be made in pearl and copra ; 
doubtless others not more gifted than himself had 

195 



THE EBB-TIDE 

climbed in the island world to be queen's consorts 
and king's ministers. But if Herrick had gone 
there with any manful purpose, he would have kept 
his father's name : the alias betrayed his moral 
bankruptcy ; he had struck his flag ; he entertained 
no hope to reinstate himself or help his straitened 
family ; and he came to the islands (where he knew 
the climate to be soft, bread cheap, and manners 
easy) a skulker from life's battle and his own im- 
mediate duty. Failure, he had said, was his portion ; 
let it be a pleasant failure. 

It is fortunately not enough to say, 'I will be 
base.' Herrick continued in the islands his career 
of failure ; but in the new scene and under the new 
name, he suffered no less sharply than before. A 
place was got, it was lost in the old style ; from 
the long-suffering of the keepers of restaurants he 
fell to more open charity upon the wayside ; as time 
went on, good-nature became weary, and, after a 
repulse or two, Herrick became shy. There were 
women enough who would have supported a far 
worse and a far uglier man ; Herrick never met or 
never knew them : or if he did both, some manlier 
feeling would revolt, and he preferred starvation. 
Drenched with rains, broiling by day, shivering by 
night, a disused and ruinous prison for a bedroom, 
his diet begged or pilfered out of rubbish-heaps, his 
associates two creatures equally outcast with him- 
self, he had drained for months the cup of penitence. 
He had known what it was to be resigned, what 
it was to break forth in a childish fury of rebellion 
196 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

against fate, and what it was to sink into the coma 
of despair. The time had changed him. He told 
himself no longer tales of an easy and perhaps 
agreeable declension ; he read his nature otherwise ; 
he had proved himself incapable of rising, and he 
now learned by experience that he could not stoop 
to fall. Something that was scarcely pride or 
strength, that was perhaps only refinement, with- 
held him from capitulation ; but he looked on upon 
his own misfortune with a growing rage, and some- 
times wondered at his patience. 

It was now the fourth month completed, and still 
there was no change or sign of change. The moon, 
racing through a world of flying clouds of every 
size and shape and density, some black as inkstains, 
some delicate as lawn, threw the marvel of her 
southern brightness over the same lovely and 
detested scene : the island mountains crowned with 
the perennial island cloud, the embowered city 
studded with rare lamps, the masts in the harbour, 
the smooth mirror of the lagoon, and the mole of 
the barrier reef on which the breakers whitened. 
The moon shone too, with bull's-eye sweeps, on his 
companions ; on the stalwart frame of the American 
who called himself Brown, and was known to be 
a master-mariner in some disgrace; and on the 
dwarfish person, the pale eyes and toothless smile 
of a vulgar and bad-hearted cockney clerk. Here 
was society for Robert Herrick! The Yankee 
skipper was a man at least : he had sterling qualities 
of tenderness and resolution ; he was one whose 

197 



THE EBB-TIDE 

hand you could take without a blush. But there 
was no redeeming grace about the other, who called 
himself sometimes Hay and sometimes Tomkins, 
and laughed at the discrepancy ; who had been 
employed in every store in Papeete, for the creature 
was able in his way ; who had been discharged from 
each in turn, for he was wholly vile; who had 
alienated all his old employers so that they passed 
him in the street as if he were a dog, and all his 
old comrades so that they shunned him as they 
would a creditor. 

Not long before, a ship from Peru had brought an 
influenza, and it now raged in the island, and par- 
ticularly in Papeete. From all round the purao 
arose and fell a dismal sound of men coughing, and 
strangling as they coughed. The sick natives, with 
the islander's impatience of a touch of fever, had 
crawled from their houses to be cool, and, squatting 
on the shore or on the beached canoes, painfully 
expected the new day. Even as the crowing of 
cocks goes about the country in the night from 
farm to farm, accesses of coughing arose and spread, 
and died in the distance, and sprang up again. 
Each miserable shiverer caught the suggestion from 
his neighbour, was torn for some minutes by that 
cruel ecstasy, and left spent and without voice or 
courage when it passed. If a man had pity to 
spend, Papeete beach, in that cold night and in that 
infected season, was a place to spend it on. And 
of all the sufferers, perhaps the least deserving, but 
surely the most pitiable, was the London clerk. 
198 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

He was used to another life, to houses, beds, nursing, 
and the dainties of the sick-room ; he lay here now, 
in the cold open, exposed to the gusting of the 
wind, and with an empty belly. He was besides 
infirm ; the disease shook him to the vitals ; and his 
companions watched his endurance with surprise. 
A profound commiseration filled them, and con- 
tended with and conquered their abhorrence. The 
disgust attendant on so ugly a sickness magnified 
this dislike ; at the same time, and with more than 
compensating strength, shame for a sentiment so 
inhuman bound them the more straitly to his ser- 
vice ; and even the evil they knew of him swelled 
their solicitude, for the thought of death is always 
the least supportable when it draws near to the 
merely sensual and selfish. Sometimes they held 
him up ; sometimes, with mistaken helpfulness, they 
beat him between the shoulders ; and when the poor 
wretch lay back ghastly and spent after a paroxysm 
of coughing, they would sometimes peer into his 
face, doubtfully exploring it for any mark of life. 
There is no one but has some virtue : that of the 
clerk was courage; and he would make haste to 
reassure them in a pleasantry not always decent. 

' I 'm all right, pals,' he gasped once : ' this is the 
thing to strengthen the muscles of the larynx.' 

* Well, you take the cake ! ' cried the captain. 

* O, I 'm good plucked enough,' pursued the 
sufferer with a broken utterance. ' But it do seem 
bloomin' hard to me, that I should be the only 
party down with this form of vice, and the only one 

199 



THE EBB-TIDE 

to do the funny business. I think one of you 
other parties might wake up. Tell a fellow some- 
thing.' 

'The trouble is we've nothing to tell, my son,' 
returned the captain. 

' I '11 tell you, if you like, what I was thinking,' 
said Herrick. 

'Tell us anything,' said the clerk, 'I only want 
to be reminded that I ain't dead.' 

Herrick took up his parable, lying on his face 
and speaking slowly and scarce above his breath, 
not like a man who has anything to say, but like 
one talking against time. 

' Well, I was thinking this,' he began : ' I was 
thinking I lay on Papeete beach one night — all 
moon and squalls and fellows coughing — and I was 
cold and hungry, and down in the mouth, and 
was about ninety years of age, and had spent two 
hundred and twenty of them on Papeete beach. 
And I was thinking I wished I had a ring to rub, 
or had a fairy godmother, or could raise Beelzebub. 
And I was trying to remember how you did it. I 
knew you made a ring of skulls, for I had seen that 
in the Freischutz : and that you took off your coat 
and turned up your sleeves, for I had seen Formes 
do that when he was playing Kaspar, and you could 
see (by the way he went about it) it was a business 
he had studied ; and that you ought to have some- 
thing to kick up a smoke and a bad smell, I daresay 
a cigar might do, and that you ought to say the 
Lord's Prayer backwards. Well, I wondered if I 
200 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

could do that ; it seemed rather a feat, you see. 
And then I wondered if I would say it forward, 
and I thought I did. Well, no sooner had I got 
to world without end, than I saw a man in a pariu, 
and with a mat under his arm, come along the beach 
from the town. He was rather a hard-favoured old 
party, and he limped and crippled, and all the time 
he kept coughing. At first I didn't cotton to his 
looks, I thought, and then I got sorry for the old 
soul because he coughed so hard. I remembered that 
we had some of that cough mixture the American 
consul gave the captain for Hay. It never did Hay 
a ha'porth of service, but I thought it might do 
the old gentleman's business for him, and stood up. 
"Yoranaf" says I. "Yoranaf" says he. "Look 
here," I said, "I've got some first-rate stuff in a 
bottle ; it '11 fix your cough, savvy ? Harry my 1 
and I'll measure you a tablespoonful in the palm 
of my hand, for all our plate is at the bankers." 
So I thought the old party came up, and the nearer 
he came, the less I took to him. But I had passed 
my word, you see.' 

* Wot is this bloomin' drivel ? ' interrupted the 
clerk. ■ It 's like the rot there is in tracts.' 

' It 's a story ; I used to tell them to the kids at 
home,' said Herri ck. 'If it bores you, I '11 drop it.' 

'O, cut along!' returned the sick man irritably. 
' It's better than nothing.' 

' Well,' continued Herrick, ' I had no sooner given 
him the cough mixture than he seemed to straighten 

1 Come here. 

201 



THE EBB-TIDE 

up and change, and I saw he wasn't a Tahitian after 
all, but some kind of Arab, and had a long beard on 
his chin. "One good turn deserves another," says 
he. " I am a magician out of the Arabian Nights, 
and this mat that I have under my arm is the 
original carpet of Mohammed Ben Somebody-or- 
other. Say the word, and you can have a cruise 
upon the carpet." " You don't mean to say this is 
the Travelling Carpet ? " I cried. " You bet I do," 
said he. "You 've been to America since last I read 
the Arabian Nights" said I, a little suspicious. 
" I should think so," said he. f Been everywhere. 
A man with a carpet like this isn't going to moulder 
in a semi-detached villa." Well, that struck me as 
reasonable. "All right," I said ; "and do you mean 
to tell me I can get on that carpet and go straight 
to London, England?" I said "London, Eng- 
land," captain, because he seemed to have been so 
long in your part of the world. "In the crack 
of a whip," said he. I figured up the time. — What 
is the difference between Papeete and London, 
captain ? ' 

* Taking Greenwich and Point Venus, nine hours, 
odd minutes and seconds,' replied the mariner. 

'Well, that's about what I made it,' resumed 
Herrick, — ' about nine hours. Calling this three in 
the morning, I made out I would drop into London 
about noon ; and the idea tickled me immensely. 
"There's only one bother," I said, "I haven't a 
copper cent. It would be a pity to go to London 
and not buy the morning Standard." "01" said 
202 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

he, "you don't realise the conveniences of this 
carpet. You see this pocket ? you 've only got to 
stick your hand in, and you pull it out filled with 
sovereigns."' 

1 Double-eagles, wasn't it ? ' inquired the captain. 

' That was what it was ! ' cried Herrick. * I thought 
they seemed unusually big, and I remember now I 
had to go to the money-changers at Charing Cross 
and get English silver.' 

* O, you went there ? ' said the clerk. ' Wot did 
you do ? Bet you had a B.-and-S. ! ' 

' Well, you see, it was just as the old boy said — 
like the cut of a whip,' said Herrick. 'The one 
minute I was here on the beach at three in the 
morning, the next I was in front of the Golden 
Cross at midday. At first I was dazzled, and 
covered my eyes, and there didn't seem the smallest 
change ; the roar of the Strand and the roar of the 
reef were like the same : hark to it now, and you 
can hear the cabs and 'buses rolling and the streets 
resound ! And then at last I could look about, and 
there was the old place, and no mistake ! With the 
statues in the square, and St. -Martin 's-in-the-Fields, 
and the bobbies, and the sparrows, and the hacks ; 
and I can't tell you what I felt like. I felt like 
crying, I believe, or dancing, or jumping clean over 
the Nelson column. I was like a fellow caught up 
out of Hell and flung down into the dandiest part 
of Heaven. Then I spotted for a hansom with a 
spanking horse. " A shilling for yourself if you 're 
there in twenty minutes ! ' said I to the jarvey. He 

203 



THE EBB-TIDE 

went a good pace, though of course it was a trifle to 
the carpet; and in nineteen minutes and a half I 
was at the door.' 

* What door ? ' asked the captain. 

* O, a house I know of,' returned Herrick. 

'But it was a public-house ! ' cried the clerk, — 
only these were not his words. 'And w'y didn't 
you take the carpet there instead of trundling in a 
growler ? ' 

' I didn't want to startle a quiet street,' said the 
narrator. ' Bad form. And besides, it was a han- 
som.' 

' Well, and what did you do next ? ' inquired the 
captain. 

' O, I went in,' said Herrick. 

' The old folks ? ' asked the captain. 

' That 's about it,' said the other, chewing a grass. 

' Well, I think you are about the poorest 'and at 
a yarn ! ' cried the clerk. ' Crikey, it 's like Minister- 
ing Children ! I can tell you there would be more 
beer and skittles about my little jaunt. I would go 
and have a B.-and-S. for luck. Then I would get a 
big ulster with astracan fur, and take my cane and 
do the la-de-da down Piccadilly. Then I would go 
to a slap-up restaurant, and have green peas, and a 
bottle of fizz, and a chump chop — O ! and I forgot, 
I 'd 'ave some devilled whitebait first — and green 
gooseberry tart, and 'ot coffee, and some of that 
form of vice in big bottles with a seal — Benedictine 
— that 's the bloomin' nyme ! Then I 'd drop into 
a theatre, and pal on with some chappies, and do the 
204 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

dancing rooms and bars, and that, and wouldn't go 
'ome till morning, till daylight doth appear. And 
the next day I'd have water- cresses, 'am, muffin, 
and fresh butter ; wouldn't I just, O my ! ' 

The clerk was interrupted by a fresh attack of 
coughing. 

' Well, now, 1 11 tell you what I would do,' said 
the captain : * I would have none of your fancy rigs 
with the man driving from the mizzen cross-trees, 
but a plain fore-and-aft hack cab of the highest 
registered tonnage. First of all, I would bring up 
at the market and get a turkey and a sucking-pig. 
Then I 'd go to a wine-merchant's and get a dozen 
of champagne, and a dozen of some sweet wine, rich 
and sticky and strong, something in the port or 
madeira line, the best in the store. Then I 'd bear 
up for a toy-store, and lay out twenty dollars in 
assorted toys for the picaninnies ; and then to a con- 
fectioner's and take in cakes and pies and fancy 
bread, and that stuff with the plums in it ; and then 
to a news-agency and buy all the papers, all the 
picture ones for the kids, and all the story papers 
for the old girl about the Earl discovering himself to 
Anna-Mariar and the escape of the Lady Maude 
from the private madhouse ; and then I 'd tell the 
fellow to drive home.' 

* There ought to be some syrup for the kids,' 
suggested Herrick ; ' they like syrup.' 

• Yes, syrup for the kids, red syrup at that ! ' said 
the captain. 'And those things they pull at, and 
go pop, and have measly poetry inside. And then I 

205 



THE EBB-TIDE 

tell you we 'd have a thanksgiving-day and Christ- 
mas-tree combined. Great Scott, but I would like 
to see the kids ! I guess they would light right out 
of the house, when they saw daddy driving up. My 
little Adar ' 

The captain stopped sharply. 

* Well, keep it up ! ' said the clerk. 

' The damned thing is, I don't know if they ain't 
starving ! ' cried the captain. 

' They can't be worse off than we are, and that 's 
one comfort,' returned the clerk. * I defy the devil 
to make me worse off. ' 

It seemed as if the devil heard him. The light of 
the moon had been some time cut off and they had 
talked in darkness. Now there was heard a roar, 
which drew impetuously nearer; the face of the 
lagoon was seen to whiten; and before they had 
staggered to their feet, a squall burst in rain upon 
the outcasts. The rage and volume of that avalanche 
one must have lived in the tropics to conceive ; a 
man panted in its assault, as he might pant under 
a shower-bath ; and the world seemed whelmed in 
night and water. 

They fled, groping for their usual shelter — it might 
be almost called their home — in the old calaboose ; 
came drenched into its empty chambers ; and lay 
down, three sops of humanity on the cold coral floors, 
and presently, when the squall was overpast, the 
others could hear in the darkness the chattering of 
the clerk's teeth. 

' I say, you fellows,' he wailed, ' for God's sake, lie 
206 



NIGHT ON THE BEACH 

up and try to warm me. I'm blymed if I don't 
think 1 11 die else ! ' 

So the three crept together into one wet mass, and 
lay until day came, shivering and dozing off, and 
continually re-awakened to wretchedness by the 
coughing of the clerk. 



CHAPTER II 

MORNING ON THE BEACH — THE THREE LETTERS 

The clouds were all fled, the beauty of the tropic 
day was spread upon Papeete ; and the wall of 
breaking seas upon the reef, and the palms upon the 
islet, already trembled in the heat. A French man- 
of-war was going out, homeward bound ; she lay in 
the middle distance of the port, an ant-heap for 
activity. In the night a schooner had come in, and 
now lay far out, hard by the passage ; and the 
yellow flag, the emblem of pestilence, flew on her. 
From up the coast, a long procession of canoes 
headed round the point and towards the market, 
bright as a scarf with the many-coloured clothing of 
the natives and the piles of fruit. But not even 
the beauty and the welcome warmth of the morning, 
not even these naval movements, so interesting to 
sailors and to idlers, could engage the attention of 
the outcasts. They were still cold at heart, their 
mouths sour from the want of sleep, their steps 
rambling from the lack of food ; and they strung 

207 



THE EBB-TIDE 

like lame geese along the beach in a disheartened 
silence. It was towards the town they moved ; 
towards the town whence smoke arose, where 
happier folk were breakfasting; and as they went, 
their hungry eyes were upon all sides, but they were 
only scouting for a meal. 

A small and dingy schooner lay snug against the 
quay, with which it was connected by a plank. On 
the forward deck, under a spot of awning, five 
Kanakas who made up the crew, were squatted 
round a basin of fried feis, 1 and drinking coffee from 
tin mugs. 

' Eight bells : knock off for breakfast ! ' cried the 
captain with a miserable heartiness. ' Never tried 
this craft before ; positively my first appearance ; 
guess I '11 draw a bumper house.' 

He came close up to where the plank rested on 
the grassy quay ; turned his back upon the schooner, 
and began to whistle that lively air, * The Irish 
Washerwoman.' It caught the ears of the Kanaka 
seamen like a preconcerted signal ; with one accord 
they looked up from their meal and crowded to the 
ship's side, fei in hand and munching as they looked. 
Even as a poor brown Pyrenean bear dances in the 
streets of English towns under his master's baton ; 
even so, but with how much more of spirit and 
precision, the captain footed it in time to his own 
whistling, and his long morning shadow capered 
beyond him on the grass. The Kanakas smiled on 
the performance ; Herrick looked on heavy-eyed, 

1 Fei is the hill banana. 
208 



MORNING ON THE BEACH 

hunger for the moment conquering all sense of 
shame ; and a little farther off, but still hard by, the 
clerk was torn by the seven devils of the influenza. 

The captain stopped suddenly, appeared to per- 
ceive his audience for the first time, and represented 
the part of a man surprised in his private hour of 
pleasure. 

< Hello ! ' said he. 

The Kanakas clapped hands and called upon him 
to go on. 

* No, sir ! ' said the captain. '. No eat, no dance. 
Savvy ? ' 

* Poor old man ! ' returned one of the crew. ' Him 
no eat ? ' 

' Lord, no ! ' said the captain. * Like-urn too 
much eat. No got.' 

* All right. Me got,' said the sailor ; ' you tome 
here. Plenty toffee, plenty fei. Nutha man him 
tome too.' 

* I guess we 11 drop right in,' observed the captain ; 
and he and his companions hastened up the plank. 
They were welcomed on board with the shaking of 
hands ; place was made for them round the basin ; 
a sticky demijohn of molasses was added to the 
feast in honour of company, and an accordion 
brought from the forecastle and significantly laid 
by the performer's side. 

'Aria'Tia,' 1 said he lightly, touching the instru- 
ment as he spoke ; and he fell to on a long savoury 
fei, made an end of it, raised his mug of coffee, and 

1 By and by. 
I9 — 209 



THE EBB-TIDE 

nodded across at the spokesman of the crew. ' Here 's 
your health, old man ; you re a credit to the South 
Pacific,' said he. 

With the unsightly greed of hounds they glutted 
themselves with the hot food and coffee ; and even 
the clerk revived and the colour deepened in his 
eyes. The kettle was drained, the basin cleaned ; 
their entertainers, who had waited on their wants 
throughout with the pleased hospitality of Poly- 
nesians, made haste to bring forward a dessert of 
island tobacco and rolls of pandanus leaf to serve as 
paper ; and presently all sat about the dishes puffing 
like Indian sachems. 

' When a man 'as breakfast every day, he don't 
know what it is,' observed the clerk. 

' The next point is dinner,' said Herrick ; and 
then with a passionate utterance : * I wish to God 
I was a Kanaka ! ' 

' There 's one thing sure,' said the captain. ' I 'm 
about desperate, I 'd rather hang than rot here much 
longer.' And with the word he took the accordion 
and struck up ' Home, sweet Home. ' 

* O, drop that ! ' cried Herrick, * I can't stand 
that.' 

' No more can I,' said the captain. ' I 've got to 
play something though : got to pay the shot, my 
son.' And he struck up ' John Brown's Body ' in a 
fine sweet baritone : ' Dandy Jim of Carolina ' came 
next ; ' Rorin the Bold,' * Swing low, Sweet Chariot, 
and * The Beautiful Land ' followed. The captain 
was paying his shot with usury, as he had done 
210 



MORNING ON THE BEACH 

many a time before ; many a meal had he bought 
with the same currency from the melodious-minded 
natives, always, as now, to their delight. 

He was in the middle of * Fifteen Dollars in the 
Inside Pocket,' singing with dogged energy, for 
the task went sore against the grain, when a sensa- 
tion was suddenly to be observed among the crew. 

' Tapena Tom harry my,' 1 said the spokesman, 
pointing. 

And the three beachcombers, following his indica- 
tion, saw the figure of a man in pyjama trousers 
and a white jumper approaching briskly from the 
town. 

' That 's Tapena Tom, is it ? ' said the captain, 
pausing in his music. ' I don't seem to place the 
brute. ' 

'We'd better cut,' said the clerk. ''E's no 
good.' 

8 Well,' said the musician deliberately, * one can't 
most generally always tell. I '11 try it on, I guess. 
Music has charms to soothe the savage Tapena, 
boys. We might strike it rich ; it might amount 
to iced punch in the cabin.' 

* Hiced punch ? O my ! ' said the clerk. ' Give 
him something 'ot, captain. " Way down the 
Swannee River " : try that' 

* No, sir ! Looks Scots,' said the captain ; and 
he struck, for his life, into ' Auld Lang Syne.' 

Captain Tom continued to approach with the 
same business-like alacrity ; no change was to be 

1 c Captain Tom is coming. ' 

211 



THE EBB-TIDE 

perceived in his bearded face as he came swinging 
up the plank : he did not even turn his eyes on the 
performer. 

f We twa hae paidled in the burn 
Frae morning tide till dine/ 

went the song. 

Captain Tom had a parcel under his arm, which 
he laid on the house roof, and then turning suddenly 
to the strangers : * Here, you ! ' he bellowed, ' be 
off out of that ! ' 

The clerk and Herrick stood not on the order of 
their going, but fled incontinently by the plank. 
The performer, on the other hand, flung down the 
instrument and rose to his full height slowly. 

' What 's that you say ? ' he said. * I 've half a 
mind to give you a lesson in civility.' 

* You set up any more of your gab to me,' re- 
turned the Scotsman, ' and I '11 show ye the wrong 
side of a jyle. I 've heard tell of the three of ye. 
Ye 're not long for here, I can tell ye that. The 
Government has their eyes upon ye. They make 
short work of damned beachcombers, I '11 say that 
for the French.' 

* You wait till I catch you off your ship ! ' cried 
the captain : and then, turning to the crew, ' Good- 
bye, you fellows ! ' he said. ' You 're gentlemen, 
anyway ! The worst nigger among you would 
look better upon a quarter-deck than that filthy 
Scotsman.' 

Captain Tom scorned to reply ; he watched with 
a hard smile the departure of his guests ; and as 

212 



MORNING ON THE BEACH 

soon as the last foot was off the plank turned to the 
hands to work cargo. 

The beachcombers beat their inglorious retreat 
along the shore ; Herrick first, his face dark with 
blood, his knees trembling under him with the 
hysteria of rage. Presently, under the same purao 
where they had shivered the night before, he cast 
himself down, and groaned aloud, and ground his 
face into the sand. 

* Don't speak to me, don't speak to me. I can't 
stand it,' broke from him. 

The other two stood over him perplexed. 

' Wot can't he stand now ? ' said the clerk. 
' 'Asn't he 'ad a meal ? I'm lickin' my lips. ' 

Herrick reared up his wild eyes and burning face. 
' I can't beg ! ' he screamed, and again threw himself 
prone. 

'This thing's got to come to an end,' said the 
captain with an intake of the breath. 

' Looks like signs of an end, don't it ? ' sneered 
the clerk. 

' He 's not so far from it, and don't you deceive 
yourself/ replied the captain. — ' Well,' he added in 
a livelier voice, ■ you fellows hang on here, and I '11 
go and interview my representative.' 

Whereupon he turned on his heel, and set off at a 
swinging sailor's walk towards Papeete. 

It was some half-hour later when he returned. 
The clerk was dozing with his back against the tree : 
Herrick still lay where he had flung himself; no- 
thing showed whether he slept or waked. 

213 



THE EBB-TIDE 

' See, boys ! ' cried the captain, with that artificial 
heartiness of his which was at times so painful, 
'here's a new idea.' And he produced note-paper, 
stamped envelopes, and pencils, three of each. ' We 
can all write home by the mail brigantine ; the con- 
sul says I can come over to his place and ink up the 
addresses.' 

' Well, that 's a start, too,' said the clerk. ' I never 
thought of that.' 

' It was that yarning last night about going home 
that put me up to it,' said the captain. 

'Well, 'and over,' said the clerk. ' I '11 'ave a shy,' 
and he retired a little distance to the shade of a canoe. 

The others remained under the purao. Now they 
would write a word or two, now scribble it out ; now 
they would sit biting at the pencil end and staring 
seaward ; now their eyes would rest on the clerk, 
where he sat propped on the canoe, leering and 
coughing, his pencil racing glibly on the paper. 

' I can't do it,' said Herrick suddenly. ' I haven't 
got the heart.' 

'See here,' said the captain, speaking with un- 
wonted gravity; 'it may be hard to write, and to 
write lies at that ; and God knows it is ; but it 's the 
square thing. It don't cost anything to say you 're 
well and happy, and sorry you can't make a remit- 
tance this mail ; and if you don't, I '11 tell you what 
I think it is — I think it's about the high-water 
mark of being a brute beast.' 

'It's easy to talk,' said Herrick. 'You don't 
seem to have written much yourself, I notice.' 
214 



MORNING ON THE BEACH 

' What do you bring in me for ? ' broke from the 
captain. His voice was indeed scarce raised above 
a whisper, but emotion clanged in it. - What do 
you know about me ? If you had commanded the 
finest barque that ever sailed from Portland ; if you 
had been drunk in your berth when she struck the 
breakers in Fourteen Island Group, and hadn't had 
the wit to stay there and drown, but came on deck, 
and given drunken orders, and lost six lives — I could 
understand your talking then ! There,' he said more 
quietly, ' that 's my yarn, and now you know it. It 's 
a pretty one for the father of a family. Five men 
and a woman murdered. Yes, there was a woman 
on board, and hadn't no business to be either. 
Guess I sent her to Hell, if there is such a place. 
I never dared go home again ; and the wife and the 
little ones went to England to her father's place. I 
don't know what 's come to them,' he added, with a 
bitter shrug. 

' Thank you, captain,' said Herrick. ' I never 
liked you better.' 

They shook hands, short and hard, with eyes 
averted, tenderness swelling in their bosoms. 

' Now, boys ! to work again at lying ! ' said the 
captain. 

' I '11 give my father up,' returned Herrick with a 
writhen smile. ' I '11 try my sweetheart instead for 
a change of evils.' 

And here is what he wrote : — 

' Emma, I have scratched out the beginning to my father, 
for I think I can write more easily to you. This is my last 

215 



THE EBB-TIDE 

farewell to all, the last you will ever hear or see of an unworthy 
friend and son. I have failed in life ; I am quite broken down 
and disgraced. I pass under a false name ; you will have to 
tell my father that with all your kindness. It is my own 
fault. I know, had I chosen, that I might have done well ; 
and yet I swear to you I tried to choose. I could not bear 
that you should think I did not try. For I loved you all; 
you must never doubt me in that, you least of all. I have 
always unceasingly loved, but what was my love worth ? and 
what was I worth? I had not the manhood of a common 
clerk, I could not work to earn you ; I have lost you now, and 
for your sake I could be glad of it. When you first came to 
my father's house — do you remember those days ? I want you 
to — you saw the best of me then, all that was good in me. Do 
you remember the day I took your hand and would not let it 
go — and the day on Battersea Bridge, when we were looking 
at a barge, and I began to tell you one of my silly stories, and 
broke off to say I loved you ? That was the beginning, and 
now here is the end. When you have read this letter, you will 
go round and kiss them all good-bye, my father and mother, 
and the children, one by one, and poor uncle ; and tell them 
all to forget me, and forget me yourself. Turn the key in the 
door ; let no thought of me return ; be done with the poor 
ghost that pretended he was a man and stole your love. Scorn 
of myself grinds in me as I write. I should tell you I am well 
and happy, and want for nothing. I do not exactly make 
money, or I should send a remittance ; but I am well cared for, 
have friends, live in a beautiful place and climate, such as we 
have dreamed of together, and no pity need be wasted on me. 
In such places, you understand, it is easy to live, and live well, 
but often hard to make sixpence in money. Explain this to 
my father, he will understand. I have no more to say ; only 
linger, going out, like an unwilling guest. God in heaven 
bless you. Think of me at the last, here, on a bright beach, 
the sky and sea immoderately blue, and the great breakers 

216 



MORNING ON THE BEACH 

roaring outside on a barrier reef, where a little isle sits green 
with palms. I am well and strong. It is a more pleasant way 
to die than if you were crowding about me on a sick-bed. 
And yet I am dying. This is my last kiss. Forgive, forget 
the unworthy. 1 

So far he had written, his paper was all filled, 
when there returned a memory of evenings at the 
piano, and that song, the masterpiece of love, in 
which so many have found the expression of their 
dearest thoughts. * Einst, O Wunder/' he added. 
More was not required ; he knew that in his love's 
heart the context would spring up, escorted with 
fair images and harmony ; of how all through life 
her name should tremble in his ears, her name be 
everywhere repeated in the sounds of nature; and 
when death came, and he lay dissolved, her memory 
lingered and thrilled among his elements. 

' Once, O wonder ! once from the ashes of my heart 
Arose a blossom ' 

Herrick and the captain finished their letters 
about the same time ; each was breathing deep, and 
their eyes met and were averted as they closed the 
envelopes. 

'Sorry I write so big,' said the captain gruffly. 
' Came all of a rush, when it did come.' 

'Same here,' said Herrick. 'I could have done 
with a ream when I got started ; but it 's long 
enough for all the good I had to say.' 

They were still at the addresses when the clerk 
strolled up, smirking and twirling his envelope, like 

217 



THE EBB-TIDE 

a man well pleased. He looked over Herrick's 
shoulder. 

' Hullo,' he said, * you ain't writing 'ome ? ' 

* I am, though,' said Herrick : ' she lives with my 
father. — O, I see what you mean,' he added. ' My 
real name is Herrick. No more Hay ' — they had 
both used the same alias, — 'no more Hay than 
yours, I daresay.' 

' Clean bowled in the middle stump ! ' laughed the 
clerk. ' My name 's 'Uish if you want to know. 
Everybody has a false nyme in the Pacific. Lay 
you five to three the captain 'as.' 

' So I have too,' replied the captain ; ' and I 've 
never told my own since the day I tore the title- 
page out of my Bowditch and flung the damned 
thing into the sea. But I '11 tell it to you, boys. 
John Davis is my name. I 'm Davis of the Sea 
Ranger' 

' Dooce you are ! ' said Huish. ' And what was 
she ? a pirate or a slyver ? ' 

'She was the fastest barque out of Portland, 
Maine,' replied the captain ; ' and for the way I lost 
her, I might as well have bored a hole in her side 
with an auger.' 

* O, you lost her, did you ? ' said the clerk. ' 'Ope 
she was insured ? ' 

No answer being returned to this sally, Huish, 
still brimming over with vanity and conversation, 
struck into another subject. 

4 1 've a good mind to read you my letter,' said 
he. ' I 've a good fist with a pen when I choose, 
218 



MORNING ON THE BEACH 

and this is a prime lark. She was a barmaid I ran 
across in Northampton ; she was a spanking fine 
piece, no end of style ; and we cottoned at first 
sight like parties in the play. I suppose I spent the 
chynge of a fiver on that girl. Well, I 'appened to 
remember her nyme, so I wrote to her, and told 
her 'ow I had got rich, and married a queen in the 
Hislands, and lived in a blooming palace. Such a 
sight of crammers ! I must read you one bit about 
my opening the nigger parliament in a cocked 'at. 
It 's really prime.' 

The captain jumped to his feet. 'That's what 
you did with the paper that I went and begged for 
you ? ' he roared. 

It was perhaps lucky for Huish — it was surely 
in the end unfortunate for all — that he was seized 
just then by one of his prostrating accesses of cough ; 
his comrades would have else deserted him, so bitter 
was their resentment. When the fit had passed, 
the clerk reached out his hand, picked up the letter, 
which had fallen to the earth, and tore it into^ 
fragments, stamp and all. 

' Does that satisfy you ? ' he asked sullenly. 

' We'll say no more about it,' replied Davis. 



CHAPTER III 

THE OLD CALABOOSE — DESTINY AT THE DOOR 

The old calaboose, in which the waifs had so long 
harboured, is a low, rectangular enclosure of build- 

219 



THE EBB-TIDE 

ing at the corner of a shady western avenue and a 
little townward of the British consulate. Within 
was a grassy court, littered with wreckage and the 
traces of vagrant occupation. Six or seven cells 
opened from the court: the doors, that had once 
been locked on mutinous whalermen, rotting before 
them in the grass. No mark remained of their old 
destination, except the rusty bars upon the windows. 

The floor of one of the cells had been a little 
cleared ; a bucket (the last remaining piece of furni- 
ture of the three caitiffs) stood full of water by the 
door, a half cocoa-nut shell beside it for a drinking- 
cup ; and on some ragged ends of mat Huish sprawled 
asleep, his mouth open, his face deathly. The glow 
of the tropic afternoon, the green of sunbright 
foliage, stared into that shady place through door 
and window; and Herrick, pacing to and fro on 
the coral floor, sometimes paused and laved his face 
and neck with tepid water from the bucket. His 
long arrears of suffering, the night's vigil, the insults 
of the morning, and the harrowing business of the 
letter, had strung him to that point when pain is 
almost pleasure, time shrinks to a mere point, and 
death and life appear indifferent. To and fro he 
paced like a caged brute ; his mind whirling through 
the universe of thought and memory ; his eyes, as 
he went, skimming the legends on the wall. The 
crumbling whitewash was all full of them : Tahitian 
names, and French, and English, and rude sketches 
of ships under sail and men at fisticuffs. 

It came to him of a sudden that he too must leave 
220 



THE OLD CALABOOSE 

upon these walls the memorial of his passage. He 
paused before a clean space, took the pencil out, 
and pondered. Vanity, so hard to dislodge, awoke 
in him. We call it vanity at least; perhaps un- 
justly. Rather it was the bare sense of his existence 
prompted him ; the sense of his life, the one thing 
wonderful, to which he scarce clung with a finger. 
From his jarred nerves there came a strong senti- 
ment of coming change; whether good or ill he 
could not say : change, he knew no more — change, 
with inscrutable veiled face, approaching noiseless. 
With the feeling came the vision of a concert-room, 
the rich hues of instruments, the silent audience, 
and the loud voice of the symphony. 'Destiny 
knocking at the door,' he thought ; drew a stave on 
the plaster, and wrote in the famous phrase from 
the Fifth Symphony. * So,' thought he, ' they will 
know that I loved music and had classical tastes. 
They ? He, I suppose : the unknown, kindred 
spirit that shall come some day and read my 
memor querela. Ha, he shall have Latin too ! ' 
And he added : terque quaterque beati Quels ante 
or a patrum. 

He turned again to his uneasy pacing, but now 
with an irrational and supporting sense of duty done. 
He had dug his grave that morning; now he had 
carved his epitaph ; the folds of the toga were com- 
posed, why should he delay the insignificant trifle 
that remained to do ? He paused and looked long 
in the face of the sleeping Huish, drinking dis- 
enchantment and distaste of life. He nauseated 

221 



THE EBB-TIDE 

himself with that vile countenance. Could the thing 
continue? What bound him now? Had he no 
rights ? — only the obligation to go on, without dis- 
charge or furlough, bearing the unbearable? Ich 
trage unertragliches, the quotation rose in his mind ; 
he repeated the whole piece, one of the most perfect 
of the most perfect of poets ; and a phrase struck 
him like a blow : Du, stolzes Herz, du hast es 
ja gewollt. Where was the pride of his heart? 
And he raged against himself, as a man bites on 
a sore tooth, in a heady sensuality of scorn. 'I 
have no pride, I have no heart, no manhood,' he 
thought, 'or why should I prolong a life more 
shameful than the gallows ? Or why should I have 
fallen to it ? No pride, no capacity, no force. Not 
even a bandit ! and to be starving here with worse 
than banditti — with this trivial hell-hound ! ' His 
rage against his comrade rose and flooded him, and 
he shook a trembling fist at the sleeper. 

A swift step was audible. The captain appeared 
upon the threshold of the cell, panting and flushed, 
and with a foolish face of happiness. In his arms 
he carried a loaf of bread and bottles of beer ; the 
pockets of his coat were bulging with cigars. He 
rolled his treasures on the floor, grasped Herrick by 
both hands, and crowed with laughter. 

' Broach the beer ! ' he shouted. * Broach the beer, 
and glory hallelujah ! ' 

' Beer ? ' repeated Huish, struggling to his feet. 

* Beer it is ! ' cried Davis. * Beer, and plenty of it. 
Any number of persons can use it (like Lyon's 

222 



THE OLD CALABOOSE 

tooth-tablet) with perfect propriety and neatness. 
—Who's to officiate?' 

' Leave me alone for that,' said the clerk. He 
knocked the necks off with a lump of coral, and 
each drank in succession from the shell. 

'Have a weed,' said Davis. ' It 's all in the bill.' 

' What is up ? ' asked Herrick. 

The captain fell suddenly grave. ' I 'm coming 
to that,' said he. 'I want to speak with Herrick 
here. You, Hay — or Huish, or whatever your name 
is — you take a weed and the other bottle, and go 
and see how the wind is down by the purao. 1 11 
call you when you 're wanted ! ' 

'Hey? Secrets? That ain't the ticket,' said 
Huish. 

'Look here, my son,' said the captain, 'this is 
business, and don't you make any mistake about it. 
If you 're going to make trouble, you can have it 
your own way and stop right here. Only get the 
thing right : if Herrick and I go, we take the beer. 
Savvy ? ' 

'O, I don't want to shove my oar in,' returned 
Huish. ' I '11 cut right enough. Give me the swipes. 
You can jaw till you 're blue in the face for what I 
care. I don't think it's the friendly touch, that's 
all.' And he shambled grumbling out of the cell 
into the staring sun. 

The captain watched him clear of the courtyard ; 
then turned to Herrick. 

' What is it ? ' asked Herrick thickly. 

' I '11 tell you,' said Davis. ' I want to consult 

223 



THE EBB-TIDE 

you. It 's a chance we 've got. — What 's that ? ' he 
cried, pointing to the music on the wall. 

• What ? ' said the other. * O, that ! It 's music ; 
it's a phrase of Beethoven's I was writing up. It 
means Destiny knocking at the door.' 

'Does it?' said the captain, rather low; and he 
went near and studied the inscription; 'and this 
French ? ' he asked, pointing to the Latin. 

' O, it just means I should have been luckier if I 
had died at home,' returned Herrick impatiently. 
— * What is this business ? ' 

'Destiny knocking at the door,' repeated the 
captain ; and then, looking over his shoulder, ' Well, 
Mr. Herrick, that's about what it comes to,' he 
added. 

' What do you mean ? Explain yourself,' said 
Herrick. 

But the captain was again staring at the music. 
'About how long ago since you wrote up this 
truck ? ' he asked. 

' What does it matter ? ' exclaimed Herrick. ' I 
daresay half an hour.' 

' My God, it 's strange ! ' cried Davis. ' There 's 
some men would call that accidental : not me. 

That ' and he drew his thick ringer under the 

music — 'that's what I call Providence.' 

' You said we had a chance,' said Herrick. 

' Yes, sir ! ' said the captain, wheeling sud- 
denly face to face with his companion. ' I did so. 
If you're the man I take you for, we have a 
chance.' 

224 






THE OLD CALABOOSE 

'I don't know what you take me for,' was the 
reply. * You can scarce take me too low.' 

' Shake hands, Mr. Herri ck,' said the captain. 
'I know you. You're a gentleman and a man of 
spirit. I didn't want to speak before that bummer 
there ; you '11 see why. But to you I '11 rip it right 
out. I got a ship.' 

' A ship ? ' cried Herrick. ' What ship ? ' 
'That schooner we saw this morning off the 
passage.' 

' That schooner with the hospital flag ? ' 
' That 's the hooker,' said Davis. ' She 's the Faral- 
lone, hundred and sixty tons register, out of 'Frisco 
for Sydney, in California champagne. Captain, 
mate, and one hand all died of the small-pox, same as 
they had round in the Paumotus, I guess. Captain 
and mate were the only white men ; all the hands 
Kanakas ; seems a queer kind of outfit from a 
Christian port. Three of them left and a cook ; 
didn't know where they were ; I can't think where 
they were either, if you come to that; Wiseman 
must have been on the booze, I guess, to sail the 
course he did. However, there he was, dead ; and 
here are the Kanakas as good as lost. They bummed 
around at sea like the babes in the wood ; and 
tumbled end-on upon Tahiti. The consul here took 
charge. He offered the berth to Williams ; Williams 
had never had the small-pox and backed down. 
That was when I came in for the letter-paper; I 
thought there was something up when the consul 
asked me to look in again ; but I never let on to 
19— p 225 



THE EBB-TIDE 

you fellows, so 's you 'd not be disappointed. Consul 
tried M'Neil ; scared of small-pox. He tried Capi- 
rati, that Corsican, and Leblue, or whatever his 
name is, wouldn't lay a hand on it ; all too fond of 
their sweet lives. Last of all, when there wasn't 
nobody else left to offer it to, he offers it to me. 
"Brown, will you ship captain and take her to 
Sydney ? " says he. " Let me choose my own mate 
and another white hand," says I, " for I don't hold 
with this Kanaka crew racket; give us all two 
months' advance to get our clothes and instruments 
out of pawn, and I '11 take stock to-night, fill up 
stores, and get to sea to-morrow before dark 1 " 
That's what I said. "That's good enough," says 
the consul, "and you can count yourself damned 
lucky, Brown," says he. And he said it pretty 
meaningful-appearing too. However, that 's all one 
now. 1 11 ship Huish before the mast — of course 
I '11 let him berth aft — and I '11 ship you mate at 
seventy -five dollars and two months' advance.' 

* Me mate ? Why, I 'm a landsman ! ' cried 
Herrick. 

' Guess you 've got to learn,' said the captain. 
' You don't fancy I 'm going to skip and leave you 
rotting on the beach, perhaps ? I 'm not that sort, 
old man. And you 're handy, anyway ; I 've been 
shipmates with worse.' 

' God knows I can't refuse,' said Herrick. ' God 
knows I thank you from my heart.' 

* That 's all right,' said the captain. ' But it ain't 
all.' He turned aside to light a cigar. 

226 



THE OLD CALABOOSE 

' What else is there ? ' asked the other, with a pang 
of undefinable alarm. 

' I 'm coming to that,' said Davis, and then paused 
a little. i See here,' he began, holding out his cigar 
between his finger and thumb, * suppose you figure 
up what this '11 amount to. You don't catch on ? 
Well, we get two months' advance; we can't get 
away from Papeete — our creditors wouldn't let us 
go — for less ; it '11 take us along about two months 
to get to Sydney ; and when we get there, I just 
want to put it to you squarely : What the better 
are we ? ' 

'We're off the beach at least,' said Herrick. 

' I guess there 's a beach at Sydney,' returned the 
captain ; ' and I '11 tell you one thing, Mr. Herrick 
— I don't mean to try. No, sir ! Sydney will never 
see me.' 

' Speak out plain,' said Herrick. 

* Plain Dutch,' replied the captain. ' I 'm going 
to own that schooner. It 's nothing new ; it 's done 
every year in the Pacific. Stephens stole a schooner 
the other day, didn't he? Hayes and Pease stole 
vessels all the time. And it's the making of the crowd 
of us. See here — you think of that cargo. Cham- 
pagne ! why, it 's like as if it was put up on purpose. 
In Peru we '11 sell that liquor off at the pier-head, 
and the schooner after it, if we can find a fool to 
buy her ; and then light out for the mines. If you '11 
back me up, I stake my life I carry it through.' 

' Captain,' said Herrick, with a quailing voice, 
« don't do it ! ' 

227 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* I 'm desperate,' returned Davis. ■ I 've got a 
chance ; I may never get another. Herrick, say the 
word ; back me up ; I think we 've starved together 
long enough for that.' 

* I can't do it. I 'm sorry. I can't do it. I 've 
not fallen as low as that,' said Herrick, deadly pale. 

' What did you say this morning ? ' said Davis. 
' That you couldn't beg ? It 's the one thing or the 
other, my son.' 

* Ah, but this is the jail ! ' cried Herrick. * Don't 
tempt me. It 's the jail.' 

'Did you hear what the skipper said on board 
that schooner ? ' pursued the captain. ' Well, I tell 
you he talked straight. The French have let us 
alone for a long time ; it can't last longer ; they 've 
got their eye on us ; and as sure as you live, in 
three weeks you'll be in jail whatever you do. I 
read it in the consul's face.' 

' You forget, captain,' said the young man. 'There 
is another way. I can die ; and to say truth, I 
think I should have died three years ago.' 

The captain folded his arms and looked the other 
in the face. ' Yes,' said he, ' yes, you can cut your 
throat ; that 's a frozen fact ; much good may it do 
you ! And where do I come in ? ' 

The light of a strange excitement came in Her- 
rick's face. 'Both of us,' said he, 'both of us 
together. It's not possible you can enjoy this 
business. Come,' and he reached out a timid hand, 
' a few strokes in the lagoon — and rest ! ' 

' I tell you, Herrick, I 'm 'most tempted to answer 
228 



THE OLD CALABOOSE 

you the way the man does in the Bible, and say, 
" Get thee behind me, Satan / " ' said the captain. 
' What ! you think I would go drown myself, and I 
got children starving ? Enjoy it ? No, by God, 
I do not enjoy it ! but it 's the row I 've got to hoe, 
and I '11 hoe it till I drop right here. I have three 
of them, you see, two boys and the one girl, Adar. 
The trouble is that you are not a parent yourself. 
I tell you, Herrick, I love you,' the man broke out ; 
' I didn't take to you at first, you were so Anglified 
and tony, but I love you now ; it 's a man that loves 
you stands here and wrestles with you. I can't go 
to sea with the bummer alone ; it 's not possible. 
Go drown yourself, and there goes my last chance 
— the last chance of a poor miserable beast, earning 
a crust to feed his family. I can't do nothing but 
sail ships, and I 've no papers. And here I get a 
chance, and you go back on me ! Ah, you 've no 
family, and that 's where the trouble is ! ' 

' I have indeed,' said Herrick. 

' Yes, I know,' said the captain, ' you think so. 
But no man's got a family till he's got children. 
It 's only the kids count. There 's something about 
the little shavers ... I can't talk of them. And 
if you thought a cent about this father that I hear 
you talk of, or that sweetheart you were writing to 
this morning, you would feel like me. You would 
say, What matter laws, and God, and that? My 
folks are hard up, I belong to them, I '11 get them 
bread, or, by God ! I '11 get them wealth, if I have 
to burn down London for it. That's what you 

229 



THE EBB-TIDE 

would say. And I '11 tell you more : your heart is 
saying so this living minute. I can see it in your 
face. You 're thinking, Here 's poor friendship for 
the man I 've starved along of, and as for the girl 
that I set up to be in love with, here's a mighty 
limp kind of a love that won't carry me as far as 
'most any man would go for a demijohn of whisky. 
There 's not much romance to that love, anyway ; 
it 's not the kind they carry on about in song-books. 
But what's the good of my carrying on talking, 
when it 's all in your inside as plain as print ? I 
put the question to you once for all. Are you 
going to desert me in my hour of need ? — you know 
if I 've deserted you — or will you give me your 
hand, and try a fresh deal, and go home (as like as 
not) a millionaire ? Say No, and God pity me ! 
Say Yes, and I '11 make the little ones pray for you 
every night on their bended knees. " God bless 
Mr. Herrick ! " that 's what they '11 say, one after 
the other, the old girl sitting there holding stakes 
at the foot of the bed, and the damned little 
innocents . . .' He broke off. * I don't often rip 
out about the kids/ he said ; * but when I do, there 's 
something fetches loose.' 

8 Captain,' said Herrick faintly, ' is there nothing 
else ? ' 

' I '11 prophesy if you like,' said the captain, with 
renewed vigour. * Refuse this, because you think 
yourself too honest, and before a month 's out you 11 
be jailed for a sneak-thief. I give you the word 
fair. I can see it, Herrick, if you can't; you're 
230 



THE OLD CALABOOSE 

breaking down. Don't think, if you refuse this 
chance, that you '11 go on doing the evangelical ; 
you 're about through with your stock ; and before 
you know where you are, you '11 be right out on the 
other side. No, it 's either this for you ; or else it 's 
Caledonia. I bet you never were there, and saw 
those white, shaved men, in their dust-clothes and 
straw hats, prowling around in gangs in the lamp- 
light at Noumea ; they look like wolves, and they 
look like preachers, and they look like the sick ; 
Huish is a daisy to the best of them. Well, there 's 
your company. They 're waiting for you, Herrick, 
and you got to go ; and that's a prophecy.' 

And as the man stood and shook through his 
great stature, he seemed indeed like one in whom 
the spirit of divination worked and might utter 
oracles. Herrick looked at him, and looked away ; 
it seemed not decent to spy upon such agitation ; 
and the young man's courage sank. 

* You talk of going home,' he objected. * We 
could never do that.' 

* We could,' said the other. ' Captain Brown 
couldn't, nor Mr. Hay, that shipped mate with him 
couldn't. But what 's that to do with Captain Davis 
or Mr. Herrick, you galoot ? ' 

' But Hayes had these wild islands where he used 
to call,' came the next fainter objection. 

' We have the wild islands of Peru,' retorted 
Davis. * They were wild enough for Stephens, no 
longer agone than just last year. I guess they '11 be 
wild enough for us.' 

231 



THE EBB-TIDE 

' And the crew ? ' 

' All Kanakas. Come, I see you re right, old 
man. I see you'll stand by.' And the captain once 
more offered his hand. 

' Have it your own way then,' said Herrick. * I '11 
do it: a strange thing for my father's son. But 
I '11 do it. I '11 stand by you, man, for good or 
evil' 

* God bless you ! ' cried the captain, and stood 
silent. * Herrick,' he added with a smile, ' I believe 
I 'd have died in my tracks if you 'd said No ! ' 

And Herrick, looking at the man, half believed 
so also. 

* And now we 11 go break it to the bummer,' said 
Davis. 

* I wonder how he 11 take it,' said Herrick. 
' Him ? Jump at it ! ' was the reply. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE YELLOW FLAG 

The schooner Farallone lay well out in the jaws 
of the pass, where the terrified pilot had made haste 
to bring her to her moorings and escape. Seen 
from the beach through the thin line of shipping, two 
objects stood conspicuous to seaward : the little isle, 
on the one hand, with its palms and the guns and 
batteries raised forty years before in defence of 
Queen Pomare's capital ; the outcast Farallone, 
232 



THE YELLOW FLAG 

upon the other, banished to the threshold of the 
port, rolling there to her scuppers, and flaunting 
the plague-flag as she rolled. A few sea-birds 
screamed and cried about the ship ; and within 
easy range, a man-of-war guard-boat hung off and 
on and glittered with the weapons of marines. The 
exuberant daylight and the blinding heaven of the 
tropics picked out and framed the pictures. 

A neat boat, manned by natives in uniform, and 
steered by the doctor of the port, put from shore 
towards three of the afternoon, and pulled smartly 
for the schooner. The fore-sheets were heaped with 
sacks of flour, onions, and potatoes, perched among 
which was Huish dressed as a foremast hand ; a 
heap of chests and cases impeded the action of the 
oarsmen ; and in the stern, by the left hand of 
the doctor, sat Herrick, dressed in a fresh rig of slops, 
his brown beard trimmed to a point, a pile of paper 
novels on his lap, and nursing the while between his 
feet a chronometer, for which they had exchanged 
that of the Farallone, long since run down and 
the rate lost. 

They passed the guard-boat, exchanging hails 
with the boatswain's mate in charge, and drew near 
at last to the forbidden ship. Not a cat stirred, 
there was no speech of man ; and the sea being 
exceeding high outside, and the reef close to where 
the schooner lay, the clamour of the surf hung round 
her like the sound of battle. 

' Ohe la goelette / ' sang out the doctor, with his 
best voice. 

2 33 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Instantly, from the house where they had been 
stowing away stores, first Davis, and then the raga- 
muffin, swarthy crew made their appearance. 

' Hullo, Hay, that you ? ' said the captain, leaning 
on the rail. ' Tell the old man to lay her alongside, 
as if she was eggs. There 's a hell of a run of sea 
here, and his boat's brittle.' 

The movement of the schooner was at that time 
more than usually violent. Now she heaved her 
side as high as a deep-sea steamer's, and showed the 
flashing of her copper ; now she swung swiftly 
towards the boat until her scuppers gurgled. 

' I hope you have sea-legs,' observed the doctor. 
* You will require them. ' 

Indeed, to board the Farallone, in that exposed 
position where she lay, was an affair of some 
dexterity. The less precious goods were hoisted 
roughly in ; the chronometer, after repeated failures, 
was passed gently and successfully from hand to 
hand ; and there remained only the more difficult 
business of embarking Huish. Even that piece of 
dead weight (shipped A.B. at eighteen dollars, and 
described by the captain to the consul as an in- 
valuable man) was at last hauled on board without 
mishap ; and the doctor, with civil salutations, took 
his leave. 

The three co-adventurers looked at each other, 
and Davis heaved a breath of relief. 

' Now let 's get this chronometer fixed,' said he, 
and led the way into the house. It was a fairly 
spacious place ; two state-rooms and a good-sized 
234 



THE YELLOW FLAG 

pantry opened from the main cabin ; the bulk-heads 
were painted white, the floor laid with waxcloth. 
No litter, no sign of life remained ; for the effects 
of the dead men had been disinfected and conveyed 
on shore. Only on the table, in a saucer, some 
sulphur burned, and the fumes set them coughing 
as they entered. The captain peered into the star- 
board state-room, where the bed-clothes still lay 
tumbled in the bunk, the blanket flung back as they 
had flung it back from the disfigured corpse before 
its burial. 

* Now, I told these niggers to tumble that truck 
overboard,' grumbled Davis. ' Guess they were 
afraid to lay hands on it. Well, they 've hosed the 
place out ; that 's as much as can be expected, I 
suppose. Huish, lay on to these blankets.' 

' See you blooming well far enough first,' said 
Huish, drawing back. 

' What 's that ? ' snapped the captain. * I '11 tell 
you, my young friend, I think you make a mistake. 
I 'm captain here.' 

' Fat lot I care,' returned the clerk. 

' That so ? ' said Davis. * Then you '11 berth for- 
ward with the niggers ! Walk right out of this 
cabin.' 

* O, I dessay ! ' said Huish. * See any green in 
my eye ? A lark 's a lark.' 

' Well, now, I '11 explain this business, and you '11 
see (once for all) just precisely how much lark there 
is to it,' said Davis. ' I 'm captain, and I 'm going 
to be it. One thing of three. First, you take my 

235 



THE EBB-TIDE 

orders here as cabin steward, in which case you mess 
with us. Or, second, you refuse, and I pack you 
forward — and you get as quick as the word 's said. 
Or, third and last, 1 11 signal that man-of-war and 
send you ashore under arrest for mutiny.' 

'And, of course, I wouldn't blow the gaff? O 
no ! ' replied the jeering Huish. 

■ And who ; s to believe you, my son ? ' inquired 
the captain. ' No, sir ! There ain't no larking 
about my captainising. Enough said. Up with 
these blankets.' 

Huish was no fool, he knew when he was beaten ; 
and he was no coward either, for he stepped to the 
bunk, took the infected bed-clothes fairly in his 
arms, and carried them out of the house without a 
check or tremor. 

' I was waiting for the chance,' said Davis to 
Herrick. ' I needn't do the same with you, because 
you understand it for yourself.' 

'Are you going to berth here?' asked Herrick, 
following the captain into the state-room, where he 
began to adjust the chronometer in its place at the 
bed-head. 

' Not much ! ' replied he. * I guess I '11 berth on 
deck. I don't know as I 'm afraid, but I Ve no 
immediate use for confluent smallpox.' 

' I don't know that I 'm afraid either,' said Herrick. 
' But the thought of these two men sticks in my 
throat ; that captain and mate dying here, one 
opposite to the other. It 's grim. I wonder what 
they said last ? ' 
236 



THE YELLOW FLAG 

'Wiseman and Wishart ? ' said the captain. ' Pro- 
bably mighty small potatoes. That's a thing a 
fellow figures out for himself one way, and the real 
business goes quite another. Perhaps Wiseman 
said, " Here, old man, fetch up the gin, I 'm feel- 
ing powerful rocky." And perhaps Wishart said, 
"O, hell!"' 

' Well, that 's grim enough,' said Herrick. 

i And so it is,' said Davis. — ' There ; there 's that 
chronometer fixed. And now it 's about time to up 
anchor and clear out.' 

He lit a cigar and stepped on deck. 

' Here, you ! What 's your name ? ' he cried to 
one of the hands, a lean-flanked, clean-built fellow 
from some far western island, and of a darkness 
almost approaching to the African. 

' Sally Day,' replied the man. 

' Devil it is,' said the captain. * Didn't know we 
had ladies on board. — Well, Sally, oblige me by 
hauling down that rag there. I '11 do the same for 
you another time.' He watched the yellow bunting 
as it was eased past the cross-trees and handed down 
on deck. ' You '11 float no more on this ship,' he 
observed. ' Muster the people aft, Mr. Hay,' he 
added, speaking unnecessarily loud, ' I 've a word to 
say to them.' 

It was with a singular sensation that Herrick pre- 
pared for the first time to address a crew. He 
thanked his stars indeed that they were natives. 
But even natives, he reflected, might be critics too 
quick for such a novice as himself ; they might per- 

237 



THE EBB-TIDE 

ceive some lapse from that precise and cut-and-dry 
English which prevails on board a ship ; it was even 
possible they understood no other ; and he racked 
his brain, and overhauled his reminiscences of sea 
romance for some appropriate words. 

'' Here, men ! tumble aft ! ' he said. ' Lively now ! 
all hands aft ! ' 

They crowded in the alleyway like sheep. 

' Here they are, sir,' said Herrick. 

For some time the captain continued to face the 
stern ; then turned with ferocious suddenness on 
the crew, and seemed to enjoy their shrinking. 

' Now,' he said, twisting his cigar in his mouth 
and toying with the spokes of the wheel, ' I 'm 
Captain Brown. I command this ship. This is 
Mr. Hay, first officer. The other white man is cabin 
steward, but he'll stand watch and do his trick. 
My orders shall be obeyed smartly. You savvy, 
"smartly"?. There shall be no growling about the 
kaikai, which will be above allowance. You '11 put 
a handle to the mate's name, and tack on " sir " to 
every order I give you. If you 're smart and quick, 
I '11 make this ship comfortable for all hands. ' He 
took the cigar out of his mouth. ' If you 're not,' 
he added, in a roaring voice, ' I '11 make it a floating 
hell. — Now, Mr. Hay, we'll pick watches, if you please.' 

' All right,' said Herrick. 

* You will please use " sir " when you address 
me, Mr. Hay,' said the captain. ' I '11 take the lady. 
Step to starboard, Sally.' And then he whispered 
in Herrick's ear : * Take the old man.' 
238 



THE YELLOW FLAG 

' I '11 take you, there,' said Herrick. 

' What 's your name ? ' said the captain. ' What 's 
that you say ? O, that 's not English ; I '11 have 
none of your highway gibberish on my ship. We '11 
call you old Uncle Ned, because you 've got no wool 
on the top of your head, just the place where the 
wool ought to grow. Step to port, Uncle. Don't 
you hear Mr. Hay has picked you ? Then I '11 take 
the white man. White Man, step to starboard. 
Now, which of you two is the cook ? You ? Then 
Mr. Hay takes your friend in the blue dungaree. 
Step to port, Dungaree. There, we know who we 
all are : Dungaree, Uncle Ned* Sally Day, White 
Man, and Cook. All F.F.V.'s I guess. And now, 
Mr. Hay, we '11 up anchor, if you please.' 

' For heaven's sake, tell me some of the words,' 
whispered Herrick. 

An hour later, the Farallone was under all plain 
sail, the rudder hard a-port, and the cheerfully-clank- 
ing windlass had brought the anchor home. 

' All clear, sir,' cried Herrick from the bow. 

The captain met her with the wheel, as she 
bounded like a stag from her repose, trembling and 
bending to the puffs. The guard-boat gave a part- 
ing hail, the wake whitened and ran out ; the 
Farallone was under weigh. 

Her berth had been close to the pass. Even as 
she forged ahead Davis slewed her for the channel 
between the pier-ends of the reef, the breakers 
sounding and whitening to either hand. Straight 
through the narrow band of blue she shot to sea- 

239 



THE EBB-TIDE 

ward ; and the captain's heart exulted as he felt 
her tremble underfoot, and (looking back over the 
taffrail) beheld the roofs of Papeete changing 
position on the shore and the island mountains 
rearing higher in the wake. 

But they were not yet done with the shore and 
the horror of the yellow flag. About midway of 
the pass there was a cry and a scurry, a man was 
seen to leap upon the rail, and, throwing his arms 
over his head, to stoop and plunge into the sea. 

' Steady as she goes,' the captain cried, relinquish- 
ing the wheel to Huish. 

The next moment he was forward in the midst 
of the Kanakas, belaying-pin in hand. 

* Anybody else for shore?' he cried, and the 
savage trumpeting of his voice, no less than the ready 
weapon in his hand, struck fear in all. Stupidly 
they stared after their escaped companion, whose 
black head was visible upon the water, steering for 
the land. And the schooner meanwhile slipt like a 
racer through the pass, and met the long sea of the 
open ocean with a souse of spray. 

'Fool that I was, not to have a pistol ready!' 
exclaimed Davis. * Well, we go to sea short-handed ; 
we can't help that. You have a lame watch of it, 
Mr. Hay.' 

* I don't see how we are to get along,' said 
Herrick. 

' Go to,' said the captain. * No more Tahiti for 
me.' 

Both turned instinctively and looked astern. The 
240 



THE YELLOW FLAG 

fair island was unfolding mountain-top on mountain- 
top ; Eimeo, on the port board, lifted her splintered 
pinnacles ; and still the schooner raced to the open 
sea. 

' Think ! ' cried the captain, with a gesture, * yester- 
day morning I danced for my breakfast like a poodle 
dog.' 



CHAPTER V 

THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

The ship's head was laid to clear Eimeo to the 
north, and the captain sat down in the cabin, with 
a chart, a ruler, and an epitome. 

*■ East a half no'the,' said he, raising his face 
from his labours. * Mr. Hay, you '11 have to watch 
your dead reckoning ; I want every yard she makes 
on every hair's-breadth of a course. I 'm going to 
knock a hole right straight through the Paumotus, 
and that 's always a near touch. Now, if this South- 
East Trade ever blew out of the S.E., which it 
don't, we might hope to lie within half a point of 
our course. Say we lie within a point of it. That '11 
just about weather Fakarava. Yes, sir, that 's what 
we 've got to do, if we tack for it. Brings us 
through this slush of little islands in the cleanest 
place : see ? ' And he showed where his ruler in- 
tersected the wide-lying labyrinth of the Dangerous 
Archipelago. ' I wish it was night, and I could 

19— Q 24I 



THE EBB-TIDE 

put her about right now ; we 're losing time and 
easting. Well, we'll do our best. And if we don't 
fetch Peru, we '11 bring up to Ecuador. All one, I 
guess. Depreciated dollars down, and no questions 
asked. A remarkable fine institootion, the South 
American don.' 

Tahiti was already some way astern, the Diadem 
rising from among broken mountains — Eimeo was 
already close aboard, and stood black and strange 
against the golden splendour of the west — when the 
captain took his departure from the two islands, 
and the patent log was set. 

Some twenty minutes later, Sally Day, who was 
continually leaving the wheel to peer in at the cabin 
clock, announced in a shrill cry 'Fo' bell,' and the 
cook was to be seen carrying the soup into the cabin. 

' I guess I '11 sit down and have a pick with you,' 
said Davis to Herrick. * By the time I 've done 
it '11 be dark, and we '11 clap the hooker on the wind 
for South America.' 

In the cabin at one corner of the table, immediately 
below the lamp, and on the lee side of a bottle of 
champagne, sat Huish. 

'What's this? Where did that come from?' 
asked the captain. 

' It 's fizz, and it came from the after- 'old, if you 
want to know,' said Huish, and drained his mug. 

'This '11 never do,' exclaimed Davis, the merchant 

seaman's horror of breaking into cargo showing 

incongruously forth on board that stolen ship. 

'There was never any good came of games like that.' 

242 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

' You byby ! ' said Huish. * A fellow would think 
(to 'ear him) we were on the square ! And look 
'ere, you 've put this job up 'ansomely for me, 'aven't 
you ? I'm to go on deck and steer while you two 
sit and guzzle, and I 'm to go by a nickname, and 
got to call you " sir " and "mister." Well, you look 
here, my bloke : I '11 have fizz ad lib., or it won't 
wash. I tell you that. And you know mighty 
well, you ain't got any man-of-war to signal now.' 

Davis was staggered. * I 'd give fifty dollars this 
had never happened,' he said weakly. 

* Well, it 'as 'appened, you see,' returned Huish. 
— * Try some ; it 's devilish good.' 

The Rubicon was crossed without another struggle. 
The captain filled a mug and drank. 

' I wish it was beer,' he said with a sigh. ' But 
there 's no denying it 's the genuine stuff and cheap 
at the money. Now, Huish, you clear out and take 
your wheel.' 

The little wretch had gained a point, and he was 
gay. 'Ay, ay, sir,' said he, and left the others to 
their meal. 

' Pea-soup ! ' exclaimed the captain. * Blamed if I 
thought I should taste pea-soup again ! ' 

Herrick sat inert and silent. It was impossible 
after these months of hopeless want to smell the 
rough, high-spiced sea victuals without lust, and his 
mouth watered with desire of the champagne. It 
was no less impossible to have assisted at the scene 
between Huish and the captain, and not to perceive, 
with sudden bluntness, the gulf where he had fallen. 

243 



THE EBB-TIDE 

He was a thief among thieves. He said it to 
himself. He could not touch the soup. If he had 
moved at all, it must have been to leave the table, 
throw himself overboard, and drown — an honest 
man. 

* Here,' said the captain, ' you look sick, old man ; 
have a drop of this. ' 

The champagne creamed and bubbled in the mug ; 
its bright colour, its lively effervescence, seized his 
eye. 'It is too late to hesitate,' he thought; his 
hand took the mug instinctively; he drank, with 
unquenchable pleasure and desire of more ; drained 
the vessel dry, and set it down with sparkling eyes. 

' There is something in life after all ! ' he cried. 
' I had forgot what it was like. Yes, even this 
is worth while. Wine, food, dry clothes — why 
they 're worth dying, worth hanging for ! Captain, 
tell me one thing: why aren't all the poor folk 
foot-pads ? ' 

' Give it up,' said the captain. 

'They must be damned good,' cried Herrick. 
' There 's something here beyond me. Think of that 
calaboose! Suppose we were sent suddenly back.' 
He shuddered as stung by a convulsion, and buried 
his face in his clutching hands. 

' Here, what 's wrong with you ? ' cried the cap- 
tain. There was no reply ; only Herrick's shoulders 
heaved, so that the table was shaken. ' Take some 
more of this. Here, drink this. I order you to. 
Don't start crying when you 're out of the wood.' 

' I 'm not crying,' said Herrick, raising his face 
244 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

and showing his dry eyes. ' It 's worse than crying. 
It's the horror of that grave that we've escaped 
from.' 

' Come now, you tackle your soup ; that '11 fix 
you,' said Davis kindly. * I told you you were all 
broken up. You couldn't have stood out another 
week.' 

' That 's the dreadful part of it ! ' cried Herrick. 
* Another week and I 'd have murdered some one 
for a dollar ! God ! and I know that ? And I 'm 
still living ? It 's some beastly dream.' 

' Quietly, quietly ! Quietly does it, my son. 
Take your pea-soup. Food, that 's what you want,' 
said Davis. 

The soup strengthened and quieted Herrick's 
nerves ; another glass of wine, and a piece of pickled 
pork and fried banana completed what the soup 
began ; and he was able once more to look the 
captain in the face. 

* I didn't know I was so much run down,' he said. 

' Well,' said Davis, ' you were as steady as a rock 
all day : now you 've had a little lunch you '11 be as 
steady as a rock again.' 

* Yes,' was the reply, * I 'm steady enough now, 
but I 'm a queer kind of a first officer.' 

* Shucks ! ' cried the captain. ' You 've only got 
to mind the ship's course, and keep your slate to 
half a point. A babby could do that, let alone a 
college graduate like you. There ain't nothing to 
sailoring, when you come to look it in the face. 
And now we'll go and put her about. Bring the 

245 



THE EBB-TIDE 

slate ; we 11 have to start our dead reckoning right 
away.' 

The distance run since the departure was read off 
the log by the binnacle light and entered on the slate. 

' Ready about,' said the captain. ' Give me the 
wheel, White Man, and you stand by the mainsheet. 
— Boom tackle, Mr. Hay, please, and then you can 
jump forward and attend head sails.' 

' Ay, ay, sir,' responded Herrick. 

' All clear forward ? ' asked Davis. 

'All clear, sir.' 

' Hard a-lee ! ' cried the captain. ' Haul in your 
slack as she comes,' he called to Huish. ' Haul in 
your slack, put your back into it ; keep your feet 
out of the coils.' A sudden blow sent Huish flat 
along the deck, and the captain was in his place. 
' Pick yourself up and keep the wheel hard over ! ' 
he roared. ' You wooden fool, you wanted to get 
killed, I guess. Draw the jib,' he cried a moment 
later ; and then to Huish, ' Give me the wheel again, 
and see if you can coil that sheet.' 

But Huish stood and looked at Davis with an 
evil countenance. ' Do you know you struck me ? ' 
said he. 

' Do you know I saved your life ? ' returned the 
other, not deigning to look at him, his eyes travelling 
instead between the compass and the sails. ' Where 
would you have been if that boom had swung out 
and you bundled in the slack ? No, sir, we '11 have 
no more of you at the mainsheet. Seaport towns 
are full of mainsheet-men ; they hop upon one leg, 
246 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

my son, what 's left of them, and the rest are dead. 
(Set your boom tackle, Mr. Hay.) Struck you, did 
I ? Lucky for you I did.' 

* Well,' said Huish slowly, ' I dessay there may be 
somethink in that. 'Ope there is.' He turned his 
back elaborately on the captain, and entered the 
house, where the speedy explosion of a champagne 
cork showed he was attending to his comfort. 

Herrick came aft to the captain. * How is she 
doing now ? ' he asked. 

* East and by no'the a half no'the,' said Davis. 
' It's about as good as I expected.' 

' What '11 the hands think of it ? ' said Herrick. 

' O, they don't think. They ain't paid to,' says 
the captain. 

'There was something wrong, was there not, 
between you and ' Herrick paused. 

' That 's a nasty little beast, that 's a biter,' replied 
the captain, shaking his head. ' But so long as you 
and me hang in, it don't matter.' 

Herrick lay down in the weather alleyway ; the 
night was cloudless, the movement of the ship 
cradled him, he was oppressed besides by the first 
generous meal after so long a time of famine ; and 
he was recalled from deep sleep by the voice of 
Davis singing out : ' Eight bells ! ' 

He rose stupidly and staggered aft, where the 
captain gave him the wheel. 

* By the wind,' said the captain. 'It comes a little 
puffy ; when you get a heavy puff, steal all you can 
to windward, but keep her a good full.' 

247 



THE EBB-TIDE 

He stepped towards the house, paused and hailed 
the forecastle. 

' Got such a thing as a concertina forward ? ' said 
he. * Bully for you, Uncle Ned. Fetch it aft, will 
you?' 

The schooner steered very easy; and Herrick, 
watching the moon-whitened sails, was overpowered 
by drowsiness. A sharp report from the cabin 
startled him ; a third bottle had been opened ; and 
Herrick remembered the Sea Ranger and Fourteen 
Island Group. Presently the notes of the accordion 
sounded, and then the captain's voice : 

' O honey, with our pockets full of money, 
We will trip, trip, trip, we will trip it on the quay, 
And I will dance with Kate, and Tom will dance with Sail, 
When we 're all back from South Amerikee.' 

So it went to its quaint air ; and the watch below 
lingered and listened by the forward door, and Uncle 
Ned was to be seen in the moonlight nodding time ; 
and Herrick smiled at the wheel, his anxieties a 
while forgotten. Song followed song ; another cork 
exploded; there were voices raised, as though the 
pair in the cabin were in disagreement ; and pre- 
sently it seemed the breach was healed ; for it was 
now the voice of Huish that struck up, to the 
captain's accompaniment : — 

c Up in a balloon, boys, 
Up in a balloon, 
All among the little stars 
And round about the moon.' 

A wave of nausea overcame Herrick at the wheel. 

248 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

He wondered why the air, the words (which were 
yet written with a certain knack), and the voice and 
accent of the singer, should all jar his spirit like a file 
on a man's teeth. He sickened at the thought of his 
two comrades drinking away their reason upon stolen 
wine, quarrelling and hiccuping and waking up, 
while the doors of a prison yawned for them in the 
near future. * Shall I have sold my honour for 
nothing?' he thought; and a heat of rage and 
resolution glowed in his bosom — rage against his 
comrades — resolution to carry through this business 
if it might be carried ; pluck profit out of shame, 
since the shame at least was now inevitable; and 
come home, home from South America — how did 
the song go ? — * with his pockets full of money. ' 

e O honey, with our pockets full of money, 
We will trip, trip, trip, we will trip it on the quay ' : 

so the words ran in his head ; and the honey took 
on visible form, the quay rose before him and he 
knew it for the lamplit Embankment, and he saw 
the lights of Battersea bridge bestride the sullen 
river. All through the remainder of his trick he 
stood entranced, reviewing the past. He had been 
always true to his love, but not always sedulous to 
recall her. In the growing calamity of his life she 
had swum more distant, like the moon in mist. The 
letter of farewell, the dishonourable hope that had 
surprised and corrupted him in his distress, the 
changed scene, the sea, the night and the music — all 
stirred him to the roots of manhood. * I will win 

249 



THE EBB-TIDE 

her,' he thought, and ground his teeth. 'Fair or 
foul, what matters if I win her ? ' 

* Fo' bell, matey. I think um fo' bell ' — he was 
suddenly recalled by these words in the voice of 
Uncle Ned. 

' Look in at the clock, Uncle,' said he. He would 
not look himself, from horror of the tipplers. 

* Him past, matey,' repeated the Hawaiian. 

' So much the better for you, Uncle,' he replied ; 
and he gave up the wheel, repeating the directions 
as he had received them. 

He took two steps forward and remembered his 
dead reckoning. * How has she been heading ? ' he 
thought ; and he flushed from head to foot. He had 
not observed, or had forgotten ; here was the old 
incompetence ; the slate must be filled up by guess. 

* Never again ! ' he vowed to himself in silent fury, 

* never again. It shall be no fault of mine if this 
miscarry.' And for the remainder of his watch he 
stood close by Uncle Ned, and read the face of the 
compass as perhaps he had never read a letter from 
his sweetheart. 

All the time, and spurring him to the more atten- 
tion, song, loud talk, fleering laughter, and the 
occasional popping of a cork, reached his ears from 
the interior of the house ; and when the port watch 
was relieved at midnight, Huish and the captain 
appeared upon the quarter-deck with flushed faces 
and uneven steps, the former laden with bottles, the 
latter with two tin mugs. Herrick silently passed 
them by. They hailed him in thick voices, he made 
250 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

no answer ; they cursed him for a churl, he paid no 
heed, although his belly quivered with disgust and 
rage. He closed-to the door of the house behind 
him, and cast himself on a locker in the cabin — not 
to sleep, he thought — rather to think and to despair. 
Yet he had scarce turned twice on his uneasy bed 
before a drunken voice hailed him in the ear, and he 
must go on deck again to stand the morning watch. 
The first evening set the model for those that were 
to follow. Two cases of champagne scarce lasted 
the four-and-twenty hours, and almost the whole 
was drunk by Huish and the captain. Huish 
seemed to thrive on the excess ; he was never sober, 
yet never wholly tipsy ; the food and the sea air had 
soon healed him of his disease, and he began to lay 
on flesh. But with Davis things went worse. In 
the drooping, unbuttoned figure that sprawled all 
day upon the lockers, tippling and reading novels ; 
in the fool who made of the evening watch a public 
carouse on the quarter-deck, it would have been hard 
to recognise the vigorous seaman of Papeete roads. 
He kept himself reasonably well in hand till he had 
taken the sun and yawned and blotted through his 
calculations ; but from the moment he rolled up the 
chart, his hours were passed in slavish self-indulgence 
or in hoggish slumber. Every other branch of his 
duty was neglected, except maintaining a stern 
discipline about the dinner-table. Again and again 
Herrick would hear the cook called aft, and see him 
running with fresh tins, or carrying away again a 
meal that had been totally condemned. And the 

251 



THE EBB-TIDE 

more the captain became sunk in drunkenness, the 
more delicate his palate showed itself. Once, in 
the forenoon, he had a bo'sun's chair rigged over the 
rail, stripped to his trousers, and went overboard 
with a pot of paint. 'I don't like the way this 
schooner 's painted,' said he, * and I 've taken a down 
upon her name.' But he tired of it in half an hour, 
and the schooner went on her way with an incon- 
gruous patch of colour on the stern, and the word 
Farallone part obliterated and part looking through. 
He refused to stand either the middle or the morn- 
ing watch. It was fine- weather sailing, he said ; and 
asked, with a laugh, 'Who ever heard of the old 
man standing watch himself? ' To the dead reckon- 
ing, which Herrick still tried to keep, he would pay 
not the least attention nor afford the least assist- 
ance. 

' What do we want of dead reckoning ? ' he asked. 
* We get the sun all right, don't we ? ' 

'We mayn't get it always, though,' objected 
Herrick. 'And you told me yourself you weren't 
sure of the chronometer.' 

' O, there ain't no flies in the chronometer ! ' cried 
Davis. 

'Oblige me so far, captain,' said Herrick stiffly. 
'I am anxious to keep this reckoning, which is a 
part of my duty ; I do not know what to allow for 
current, nor how to allow for it. I am too inex- 
perienced ; and I beg of you to help me. ' 

'Never discourage zealous officer,' said the cap- 
tain, unrolling the chart again, for Herrick had 
252 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

taken him over his day's work, and while he was 
still partly sober. * Here it is : look for yourself ; 
anything from west to west no'the-west, and any- 
ways from 5 to 25 miles. That 's what the A'm'ralty 
chart says ; I guess you don't expect to get on ahead 
of your own Britishers ? ' 

*I am trying to do my duty, Captain Brown,' 
said Herrick, with a dark flush, 'and I have the 
honour to inform you that I don't enjoy being 
trifled with.' 

' What in thunder do you want ? ' roared Davis. 
' Go and look at the blamed wake. If you 're trying 
to do your duty, why don't you go and do it ? I 
guess it 's no business of mine to go and stick my 
head over the ship's rump ? I guess it 's yours. And 
I '11 tell you what it is, my fine fellow, I '11 trouble 
you not to come the dude over me. You 're insolent, 
that's what's wrong with you. Don't you crowd 
me, Mr. Herrick, Esquire.' 

Herrick tore up his papers, threw them on the 
floor, and left the cabin. 

' He 's turned a bloomin' swot, ain't he ? ' sneered 
Huish. 

1 He thinks himself too good for his company, 
that's what ails Herrick, Esquire,' raged the captain. 
* He thinks I don't understand when he comes the 
heavy swell. Won't sit down with us, won't he? 
won't say a civil word ? I '11 serve the son of a gun 
as he deserves. By God, Huish, I '11 show him 
whether he 's too good for John Davis ! ' 

' Easy with the names, cap',' said Huish, who was 

25o 



THE EBB-TIDE 

always the more sober. ' Easy over the stones, my 
boy!' 

'All right, I will. You're a good sort, Huish. 
I didn't take to you at first, but I guess you're 
right enough. Let 's open another bottle,' said the 
captain ; and that day, perhaps because he was 
excited by the quarrel, he drank more recklessly, 
and by four o'clock was stretched insensible upon 
the locker. 

Herrick and Huish supped alone, one after the 
other, opposite his flushed and snorting body. And 
if the sight killed Herrick's hunger, the isolation 
weighed so heavily on the clerk's spirit that he was 
scarce risen from table ere he was currying favour 
with his former comrade. 

Herrick was at the wheel when he approached, 
and Huish leaned confidently across the binnacle. 

' I say, old chappie,' he said, ? you and me don't 
seem to be such pals somehow.' 

Herrick gave her a spoke or two in silence; his 
eye, as it skirted from the needle to the luff of the 
foresail, passed the man by without speculation. 
But Huish was really dull, a thing he could support 
with difficulty, having no resources of his own. The 
idea of a private talk with Herrick, at this stage of 
their relations, held out particular inducements to a 
person of his character. Drink besides, as it renders 
some men hyper- sensitive, made Huish callous. And 
it would almost have required a blow to make him 
quit his purpose. 

' Pretty business, ain't it ? ' he continued ; ' Dyvis 
254 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

on the lush ? Must say I thought you gave it 'im 
Al to-day. He didn't like it a bit ; took on hawful 
after you were gone. — " 'Ere," says I, " 'old on, easy 
on the lush," I says. "'Errick was right, and you 
know it. Give 'm a chanst," I says. — " 'Uish," sezee, 
" don't you gimme no more of your jaw, or I '11 
knock your bloomin' eyes out." Well, wot can I 
do, 'Errick? But I tell you, I don't 'arf like it. It 
looks to me like the Sea Rynger over again.' 

Still Herrick was silent. 

'Do you 'ear me speak?' asked Huish sharply. 
' You 're pleasant, ain't you ? ' 

' Stand away from that binnacle,' said Herrick. 

The clerk looked at him, long and straight and 
black ; his figure seemed to writhe like that of a 
snake about to strike ; then he turned on his heel, 
went back to the cabin and opened a bottle of 
champagne. When eight bells were cried he slept 
on the floor beside the captain on the locker ; and 
of the whole starboard watch only Sally Day 
appeared upon the summons. The mate proposed 
to stand the watch with him, and let Uncle Ned lie 
down ; it would make twelve hours on deck, and 
probably sixteen, but in this fair-weather sailing he 
might safely sleep between his tricks of wheel, leav- 
ing orders to be called on any sign of squalls. So 
far he could trust the men, between whom and 
himself a close relation had sprung up. With Uncle 
Ned he held long nocturnal conversations, and the 
old man told him his simple and hard story of exile, 
suffering, and injustice among cruel whites. The 

255 



THE EBB-TIDE 

cook, when he found Herrick messed alone, pro- 
duced for him unexpected and sometimes unpalat- 
able dainties, of which he forced himself to eat. 
And one day, when he was forward, he was surprised 
to feel a caressing hand run down his shoulder, and 
to hear the voice of Sally Day crooning in his ear : 
' You gootch man ! ' He turned, and, choking down 
a sob, shook hands with the negrito. They were 
kindly, cheery, childish souls. Upon the Sunday each 
brought forth his separate Bible — for they were all 
men of alien speech even to each other, and Sally 
Day communicated with his mates in English only, 
each read or made-believe to read his chapter, Uncle 
Ned with spectacles on his nose ; and they would all 
join together in the singing of missionary hymns. 
It was thus a cutting reproof to compare the 
islanders and the whites aboard the Farallone. 
Shame ran in Herrick's blood to remember what 
employment he was on, and to see these poor souls 
— and even Sally Day, the child of cannibals, in all 
likelihood a cannibal himself — so faithful to what 
they knew of good. The fact that he was held in 
grateful favour by these innocents served like 
blinders to his conscience, and there were times 
when he was inclined, with Sally Day, to call him- 
self a good man. But the height of his favour was 
only now to appear. With one voice, the crew 
protested ; ere Herrick knew what they were 
doing, the cook was aroused and came a willing 
volunteer ; all hands clustered about their mate with 
expostulations and caresses ; and he was bidden 
256 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

to lie down and take his customary rest without 
alarm. 

' He tell you true,' said Uncle Ned. ' You sleep. 
Evely man hea he do all light. Evely man he like 
you too much.' 

Herrick struggled, and gave way; choked upon 
some trivial words of gratitude ; and walked to the 
side of the house, against which he leaned, struggling 
with emotion. 

Uncle Ned presently followed him and begged 
him to lie down. 

* It 's no use, Uncle Ned,' he replied. ' I couldn't 
sleep. I 'm knocked over with all your goodness.' 

' Ah, no call me Uncle Ned no mo' ! ' cried the 
old man. ' No my name ! My name Taveeta, 
all-e-same Taveeta King of Islael. Wat for he call 
that Hawaii ? I think no savvy nothing — all-e-same 
Wise-a-mana.' 

It was the first time the name of the late captain 
had been mentioned, and Herrick grasped the occa- 
sion. The reader shall be spared Uncle Ned's 
unwieldy dialect, and learn in less embarrassing 
English the sum of what he now communicated. 
The ship had scarce cleared the Golden Gates before 
the captain and mate had entered on a career of 
drunkenness, which was scarcely interrupted by their 
malady and only closed by death. For days and 
weeks they had encountered neither land nor ship ; 
and seeing themselves lost on the huge deep with 
their insane conductors, the natives had drunk deep 
of terror. 

19— r 257 



THE EBB-TIDE 

At length they made a low island and went in ; 
and Wiseman and Wishart landed in the boat. 

There was a great village, a very fine village, 
and plenty Kanakas in that place ; but all mighty 
serious ; and from every here and there in the back 
parts of the settlement, Taveeta heard the sounds 
of island lamentation. ' I no savvy talk that island,' 
said he. ' I savvy hear um cly. I think, Hum ! too 
many people die here ! ' But upon Wiseman and 
Wishart the significance of that barbaric keening 
was lost. Full of bread and drink, they rollicked 
along unconcerned, embraced the girls, who had 
scarce energy to repel them, took up and joined 
(with drunken voices) in the death-wail, and at last 
(on what they took to be an invitation) entered 
under the roof of a house in which was a con- 
siderable concourse of people sitting silent. They 
stooped below the eaves, flushed and laughing ; 
within a minute they came forth again with changed 
faces and silent tongues ; and as the press severed to 
make way for them, Taveeta was able to perceive, 
in the deep shadow of the house, the sick man rais- 
ing from his mat a head already defeatured by 
disease. The two tragic triflers fled without hesita- 
tion for their boat, screaming on Taveeta to make 
haste ; they came aboard with all speed of oars, 
raised anchor and crowded sail upon the ship with 
blows and curses, and were at sea again — and again 
drunk — before sunset. A week after, and the last of 
the two had been committed to the deep. Herrick 
asked Taveeta where that island was, and he replied 
258 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

that, by what he gathered of folks' talk as they went 
up together from the beach, he supposed it must be 
one of the Paumotus. This was in itself probable 
enough, for the Dangerous Archipelago had been 
swept that year from east to west by devastating 
small-pox ; but Herrick thought it a strange course 
to lie from Sydney. Then he remembered the 
drink. 

' Were they not surprised when they made the 
island ? ' he asked. 

' Wise-a-mana he say, "Damn ! what this ?'" was 
the reply. 

' O, that 's it then,' said Herrick. * I don't believe 
they knew where they were.' 

'I think so too,' said Uncle Ned. 'I think no 
savvy. This one mo' betta,' he added, pointing to 
the house, where the drunken captain slumbered: 
'Take-a-sun all-e-time.' 

The implied last touch completed Herrick's pic- 
ture of the life and death of his two predecessors ; 
of their prolonged, sordid, sodden sensuality as they 
sailed, they knew not whither, on their last cruise. 
He held but a twinkling and unsure belief in any 
future state ; the thought of one of punishment he 
derided ; yet for him (as for all) there dwelt a horror 
about the end of the brutish man. Sickness fell 
upon him at the image thus called up ; and when he 
compared it with the scene in which himself was 
acting, and considered the doom that seemed to 
brood upon the schooner, a horror that was almost 
superstitious fell upon him. And yet the strange 

259 



THE EBB-TIDE 

thing was, he did not falter. He who had proved 
his incapacity in so many fields, being now falsely 
placed amid duties which he did not understand, 
without help, and it might be said without counten- 
ance, had hitherto surpassed expectation ; and even 
the shameful misconduct and shocking disclosures 
of that night seemed but to nerve and strengthen 
him. He had sold his honour ; he vowed it should 
not be in vain ; • It shall be no fault of mine if this 
miscarry,' he repeated. And in his heart he wondered 
at himself. Living rage no doubt supported him ; 
no doubt also, the sense of the last cast, of the ships 
burned, of all doors closed but one, which is so 
strong a tonic to the merely weak, and so deadly a 
depressent to the merely cowardly. 

For some time the voyage went otherwise well. 
They weathered Fakarava with one board ; and the 
wind holding well to the southward, and blowing 
fresh, they passed between Kanaka and Ratiu, and 
ran some days north-east by east-half-east under the 
lee of Takume and Honden, neither of which they 
made. In about 14° south, and between 134° and 
135° west, it fell a dead calm, with rather a heavy 
sea. The captain refused to take in sail, the helm 
was lashed, no watch was set, and the Farallone 
rolled and banged for three days, according to ob- 
servation, in almost the same place. The fourth 
morning, a little before day, a breeze sprang up and 
rapidly freshened. The captain had drunk hard the 
night before ; he was far from sober when he was 
roused; and when he came on deck for the first 
260 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

time at half-past eight, it was plain he had already 
drunk deep again at breakfast. Herrick avoided his 
eye ; and resigned the deck with indignation to a 
man more than half-seas-over. 

By the loud commands of the captain and the 
singing out of fellows at the ropes, he could judge 
from the house that sail was being crowded on the 
ship; relinquished his half- eaten breakfast; and 
came on deck again, to find the main and the jib 
topsails set, and both watches and the cook turned 
out to hand the staysail. The Farallone lay already 
far over; the sky was obscured with misty scud; 
and from the windward an ominous squall came 
flying up, broadening and blackening as it rose. 

Fear thrilled in Herrick's vitals. He saw death 
hard by ; and if not death, sure ruin. For if the 
Farallone lived through the coming squall, she must 
surely be dismasted. With that their enterprise 
was at an end, and they themselves bound prisoners 
to the very evidence of their crime. The greatness 
of the peril and his own alarm sufficed to silence 
him. Pride, wrath, and shame raged without issue 
in his mind ; and he shut his teeth and folded his 
arms close. 

The captain sat in the boat to windward, bellowing 
orders and insults, his eyes glazed, his face deeply 
congested ; a bottle set between his knees, a glass 
in his hand half empty. His back was to the squall, 
and he was at first intent upon the setting of the 
sail. When that was done, and the great trapezium 
of canvas had begun to draw and to trail the lee-rail 

261 



THE EBB-TIDE 

of the Farallone level with the foam, he laughed 
out an empty laugh, drained his glass, sprawled back 
among the lumber in the boat, and fetched out a 
crumpled novel. 

Herrick watched him, and his indignation glowed 
red-hot. He glanced to windward, where the squall 
already whitened the near sea and heralded its 
coming with a singular and dismal sound. He 
glanced at the steersman and saw him clinging to 
the spokes with a face of a sickly blue. He saw the 
crew were running to their stations without orders. 
And it seemed as if something broke in his brain ; 
and the passion of anger, so long restrained, so long 
eaten in secret, burst suddenly loose and shook 
him like a sail. He stepped across to the captain 
and smote his hand heavily on the drunkard's 
shoulder. 

'You brute,' he said, in a voice that tottered, 
' look behind you ! ' 

' Wha 's that ? ' cried Davis, bounding in the boat 
and upsetting the champagne. 

'You lost the Sea Ranger because you were a 
drunken sot,' said Herrick. ' Now you 're going to 
lose the Farallone. You 're going to drown here 
the same way as you drowned others, and be damned. 
And your daughter shall walk the streets, and your 
sons be thieves like their father.' 

For the moment the words struck the captain 
white and foolish. ' My God ! ' he cried, looking 
at Herrick as upon a ghost ; ' my God, Herrick ! ' 

' Look behind you, then ! ' reiterated the assailant. 
262 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

The wretched man, already partly sobered, did as 
he was told, and in the same breath of time leaped 
to his feet. ' Down staysail ! ' he trumpeted. The 
hands were thrilling for the order, and the great sail 
came with a run, and fell half overboard among the 
racing foam. * Jib topsail-halyards ! Let the staysl 
be,' he said again. 

But before it was well uttered the squall shouted 
aloud and fell, in a solid mass of wind and rain 
commingled, on the Farallone \ and she stooped 
under the blow, and lay like a thing dead. From 
the mind of Herrick reason fled ; he clung in the 
weather rigging, exulting; he was done with life, 
and he gloried in the release ; he gloried in the wild 
noises of the wind and the choking onslaught of the 
rain ; he gloried to die so, and now, amid this coil 
of the elements. And meanwhile, in the waist, up 
to his knees in water — so low the schooner lay — the 
captain was hacking at the foresheet with a pocket- 
knife. It was a question of seconds, for the Farallone 
drank deep of the encroaching seas. But the hand 
of the captain had the advance ; the foresail boom 
tore apart the last strands of the sheet and crashed 
to leeward ; the Farallone leaped up into the wind 
and righted ; and the peak and throat halyards, 
which had long been let go, began to run at the 
same instant. 

For some ten minutes more she careered under 
the impulse of the squall ; but the captain was now 
master of himself and of his ship, and all danger at 
an end. And then, sudden as a trick-change upon 

263 



THE EBB-TIDE 

the stage, the squall blew by, the wind dropped into 
light airs, the sun beamed forth again upon the 
tattered schooner; and the captain, having secured 
the foresail boom and set a couple of hands to the 
pump, walked aft, sober, a little pale, and with 
the sodden end of a cigar still stuck between his 
teeth even as the squall had found it. Herrick 
followed him ; he could scarce recall the violence of 
his late emotions, but he felt there was a scene to 
go through, and he was anxious and even eager 
to go through with it. 

The captain, turning at the house-end, met him 
face to face, and averted his eyes. * We 've lost the 
two tops'ls and the stays'l,' he gabbled. 'Good 
business we didn't lose any sticks. I guess you 
think we 're all the better without the kites.' 

* That 's not what I 'm thinking,' said Herrick, in 
a voice strangely quiet, that yet echoed confusion 
in the captain's mind. 

'I know that,' he cried, holding up his hand. 'I 
know what you 're thinking. No use to say it now. 
I 'm sober.' 

* I have to say it though,' returned Herrick. 

' Hold on, Herrick ; you 've said enough,' said 
Davis. ' You 've said what I would take from no 
man breathing but yourself; only I know it's true.' 

'I have to tell you, Captain Brown,' pursued 
Herrick, « that I resign my position as mate. You 
can put me in irons or shoot me, as you please ; I 
will make no resistance — only, I decline in any way 
to help or to obey you ; and I suggest you should 
264 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

put Mr. Huish in my place. He will make a worthy 
first officer to your captain, sir.' He smiled, bowed, 
and turned to walk forward. 

' Where are you going, Herrick ? ' cried the captain, 
detaining him by the shoulder. 

' To berth forward with the men, sir,' replied 
Herrick, with the same hateful smile. * I 've been 
long enough aft here with you — gentlemen.' 

' You 're wrong there,' said Davis. * Don't you 
be too quick with me ; there ain't nothing wrong 
but the drink — it 's the old story, man ! Let me 
get sober once, and then you '11 see,' he pleaded. 

' Excuse me, I desire to see no more of you,' said 
Herrick. 

The captain groaned aloud. 'You know what 
you said about my children ? ' he broke out. 

'By rote. In case you wish me to say it you 
again ? ' asked Herrick. 

' Don't ! ' cried the captain, clapping his hands to 
his ears. * Don't make me kill a man I care for ! 
Herrick, if you see me put a glass to my lips again 
till we 're ashore I give you leave to put a bullet 
through me ; I beg you to it ! You 're the only 
man aboard whose carcase is worth losing ; do you 
think I don't know that ? do you think I ever went 
back on you ? I always knew you were in the 
right of it — drunk or sober, I knew that. What do 
you want ? — an oath ? Man, you 're clever enough 
to see that this is sure-enough earnest.' 

' Do you mean there shall be no more drinking ? ' 
asked Herrick, 'neither by you nor Huish? that 

265 



THE EBB-TIDE 

you won't go on stealing my profits and drinking 
my champagne that I gave my honour for ? and that 
you '11 attend to your duties, and stand watch and 
watch, and bear your proper share of the ship's 
work, instead of leaving it all on the shoulders of a 
landsman, and making yourself the butt and scoff 
of native seamen ? Is that what you mean ? If it 
is, be so good as say it categorically.' 

* You put these things in a way hard for a gentle- 
man to swallow,' said the captain. * You wouldn't 
have me say I was ashamed of myself? Trust me 
this once ; I '11 do the square thing, and there 's my 
hand on it.' 

■ Well, I '11 try it once,' said Herrick. ' Fail me 
again . . .' 

* No more now ! ' interrupted Davis. * No more, 
old man ! Enough said. You 've a riling tongue 
when your back 's up, Herrick. Just be glad we 're 
friends again, the same as what I am ; and go tender 
on the raws ; I '11 see as you don't repent it. We 've 
been mighty near death this day — don't say whose 
fault it was ! — pretty near hell, too, I guess. We 're 
in a mighty bad line of life, us two, and ought to 
go easy with each other.' 

" He was maundering ; yet it seemed as if he were 
maundering with some design, beating about the 
bush of some communication that he feared to make, 
or perhaps only talking against time in terror of 
what Herrick might say next. But Herrick had 
now spat his venom ; his was a kindly nature, and, 
content with his triumph, he had now begun to 
266 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

pity. With a few soothing words he sought to 
conclude the interview, and proposed that they 
should change their clothes. 

'Not right yet,' said Davis. 'There's another 
thing I want to tell you first. You know what you 
said about my children ? I want to tell you why it 
hit me so hard ; I kind of think you '11 feel bad 
about it too. It's about my little Adar. You 
hadn't ought to have quite said that — but of course 
I know you didn't know. She — she 's dead, you see.' 

' Why, Davis ! ' cried Herrick. ' You 've told me 
a dozen times she was alive ! Clear your head, 
man ! This must be the drink.' 

'No, sir, said Davis. 'She's dead. Died of a 
bowel-complaint. That was when I was away in 
the brig Oregon. She lies in Portland, Maine. 
"Adar, only daughter of Captain John Davis and 
Mariar his wife, aged five." I had a doll for her on 
board. I never took the paper off'n that doll, 
Herrick ; it went down the way it was with the Sea 
Ranger, that day I was damned.' 

The captain's eyes were fixed on the horizon ; he 
talked with an extraordinary softness but a complete 
composure ; and Herrick looked upon him with 
something that was almost terror. 

' Don't think I 'm crazy neither,' resumed Davis. 
' I 've all the cold sense that I know what to do 
with. But I guess a man that's unhappy 's like a 
child ; and this is a kind of a child's game of mine. 
I never could act up to the plain-cut truth, you 
see ; so I pretend. And I warn you square : as 

267 



THE EBB-TIDE 

soon as we 're through with this talk, I '11 start in 
again with the pretending. Only, you see, she can't 
walk no streets,' added the captain, 'couldn't even 
make out to live and get that doll ! ' 

Herrick laid a tremulous hand upon the captain's 
shoulder. 

' Don't do that ! ' cried Davis, recoiling from the 
touch. ' Can't you see I 'm all broken up the way 
it is ? Come along, then ; come along, old man ; 
you can put your trust in me right through ; come 
along and get dry clothes.' 

They entered the cabin, and there was Huish on 
his knees prizing open a case of champagne. 

' 'Vast there ! ' cried the captain. ' No more of 
that. No more drinking on this ship.' 

' Turned teetotal, 'ave you ? ' inquired Huish. 
' I 'm agreeable. About time, eh ? Bloomin' nearly 
lost another ship, I fancy.' He took out a bottle 
and began calmly to burst the wire with the spike 
of a corkscrew. 

' Do you hear me speak ? ' cried Davis. 

' I suppose I do. You speak loud enough,' said 
Huish. ' The trouble is that I don't care.' 

Herrick plucked the captain's sleeve. ' Let him 
free now,' he said. f We 've had all we want this 
morning.' 

' Let him have it then,' said the captain. ' It 's 
his last.' 

By this time the wire was open, the string was 
cut, the head of gilded paper was torn away ; and 
Huish waited, mug in hand, expecting the usual 
268 



THE CARGO OF CHAMPAGNE 

explosion. It did not follow. He eased the cork 
with his thumb ; still there was no result. At last 
he took the screw and drew it. It came out very 
easy, and with scarce a sound. 

' 'Illo ! ' said Huish. * 'Ere 's a bad bottle.' 

He poured some of the wine into the mug ; it was 
colourless and still. He smelt and tasted it. 

• W'y, wot 's this ? ' he said. * It 's water ! ' 

If the voice of trumpets had suddenly sounded 
about the ship in the midst of the sea, the three 
men in the house could scarcely have been more 
stunned than by this incident. The mug passed 
round ; each sipped, each smelt of it ; each stared 
at the bottle in its glory of gold paper as Crusoe 
may have stared at the footprint ; and their minds 
were swift to fix upon a common apprehension. 
The difference between a bottle of champagne and 
a bottle of water is not great ; between a shipload 
of one or of the other lay the whole scale from riches 
to ruin. 

A second bottle was broached. There were two 
cases standing ready in a state-room ; these two were 
brought out, broken open, and tested. Still with 
the same result : the contents were still colourless 
and tasteless, and dead as the rain in a beached 
fishing-boat. 

' Crikey ! ' said Huish. 

' Here, let 's sample the hold ! ' said the captain, 
mopping his brow with a back-handed sweep ; and 
the three stalked out of the house, grim and heavy- 
footed. 

269 



THE EBB-TIDE 

All hands were turned out ; two Kanakas were 
sent below, another stationed at a purchase ; and 
Davis, axe in hand, took his place beside the coam- 
ings. 

' Are you going to let the men know ? ' whispered 
Herrick. 

* Damn the men ! ' said Davis. ' It 's beyond that. 
We've got to know ourselves.' 

Three cases were sent on deck and sampled in 
turn ; from each bottle, as the captain smashed it 
with the axe, the champagne ran bubbling and 
creaming. 

' Go deeper, can't you ? ' cried Davis to the 
Kanakas in the hold. 

The command gave the signal for a disastrous 
change. Case after case came up, bottle after bottle 
was burst, and bled mere water. Deeper yet, and 
they came upon a layer where there was scarcely 
so much as the intention to deceive ; where the 
cases were no longer branded, the bottles no longer 
wired or papered, where the fraud was manifest and 
stared them in the face. 

' Here 's about enough of this foolery ! ' said Davis. 
' Stow back the cases in the hold, Uncle, and get 
the broken crockery overboard. — Come with me,' he 
added to his co-adventurers, and led the way back 
into the cabin. 



270 



THE PARTNERS 

CHAPTER VI 

THE PARTNERS 

Each took a side of the fixed table ; it was the first 
time they had sat down at it together ; but now all 
sense of incongruity, all memory of differences, was 
quite swept away by the presence of the common 
ruin. 

* Gentlemen,' said the captain, after a pause, and 
with very much the air of a chairman opening a 
board meeting, 'we're sold.' 

Huish broke out in laughter. ' Well, if this ain't 
the 'ighest old rig ! ' he cried. ' And Dyvis 'ere, who 
thought he had got up so bloomin' early in the mornin' ! 
We 've stolen a cargo of spring- water ! O my 
crikey ! ' and he squirmed with mirth. 

The captain managed to screw out a phantom 
smile. 

' Here 's Old Man Destiny again,' said he to 
Herrick, ' but this time I guess he 's kicked the 
door right in.' 

Herrick only shook his head. 

' O Lord, it 's rich ! ' laughed Huish. ' It would 
really be a scrumptious lark if it 'ad 'appened to 
somebody else ! And wot are we to do next ? O 
my eye ! with this bloomin' schooner, too ? ' 

'That's the trouble,' said Davis. 'There's only 
one thing certain : it 's no use carting this old glass 
and ballast to Peru. No, sir, we 're in a hole.' 

271 



THE EBB-TIDE 

' O my, and the merchant ! ' cried Huish ; ' the 
man that made this shipment ! He '11 get the news 
by the mail brigantine ; and he '11 think of course 
we 're making straight for Sydney.' 

' Yes, he 11 be a sick merchant,' said the captain. 
' One thing : this explains the Kanaka crew. If 
you're going to lose a ship, I would ask no better 
myself than a Kanaka crew. But there 's one thing 
it don't explain : it don't explain why she came 
down Tahiti- ways. ' 

' W'y, to lose her, you byby ! ' said Huish. 

' A lot you know,' said the captain. ' Nobody 
wants to lose a schooner ; they want to lose her 
on her course, you skeericks ! You seem to think 
underwriters haven't got enough sense to come in 
out of the rain.' 

* Well,' said Herrick, ' I can tell you (I am afraid) 
why she came so far to the eastward. I had it of 
Uncle Ned. It seems these two unhappy devils, 
Wiseman and Wishart, were drunk on the cham- 
pagne from the beginning — and died drunk at the 
end.' 

The captain looked on the table. 

' They lay in their two bunks, or sat here in this 
damned house,' he pursued, with rising agitation, 
'filling their skins with the accursed stuff, till sick- 
ness took them. As they sickened and the fever 
rose, they drank the more. They lay here howling 
and groaning, drunk and dying, all in one. They 
didn't know where they were, they didn't care. 
They didn't even take the sun, it seems.' 
272 



THE PARTNERS 

' Not take the sun ? ' cried the captain, looking up. 
* Sacred Billy ! what a crowd ! ' 

* Well, it don't matter to Joe ! ' said Huish. 
' Wot are Wiseman and the t'other buffer to 
us?' 

'A good deal, too,' says the captain. * We 're 
their heirs, I guess.' 

* It is a great inheritance,' said Herrick. 

* Well, I don't know about that,' returned Davis. 
'Appears to me as if it might be worse. 'Tain't 
worth what the cargo would have been, of course, 
at least not money down. But I '11 tell you what 
it appears to figure up to. Appears to me as if it 
amounted to about the bottom dollar of the man in 
'Frisco.' 

' 'Old on,' said Huish. ' Give a fellow time ; 'ow 's 
this, umpire ? ' 

' Well, my sons,' pursued the captain, who seemed 
to have recovered his assurance, * Wiseman and 
Wishart were to be paid for casting away this old 
schooner and its cargo. We 're going to cast away 
the schooner right enough ; and I '11 make it my 
private business to see that we get paid. What 
were W. and W. to get ? That 's more 'n I can tell. 
But W. and W. went into this business themselves, 
they were on the crook. Now we 're on the square, 
we only stumbled into it; and that merchant has 
just got to squeal, and I 'm the man to see that he 
squeals good. No, sir ! there 's some stuffing to this 
Farallone racket after all.' 

' Go it, cap' ! ' cried Huish. * Yoicks ! Forrard ! 
19— s 273 



THE EBB-TIDE 

'Old 'ard ! There 's your style for the money ! 
Blow me if I don't prefer this to the hother.' 

• I do not understand,' said Herrick. ' I have to 
ask you to excuse me ; I do not understand.' 

'Well now, see here, Herrick,' said Davis; 'I'm 
going to have a word with you anyway upon a 
different matter, and it's good that Huish should 
hear it too. We 're done with this boozing business, 
and we ask your pardon for it right here and now. 
We have to thank you for all you did for us while 
we were making hogs of ourselves ; you '11 find me 
turn-to all right in future ; and as for the wine, 
which I grant we stole from you, I '11 take stock and 
see you paid for it. That 's good enough, I believe. 
But what I want to point out to you is this. The 
old game was a risky game. The new game 's as 
safe as running a Vienna bakery. We just put this 
Farallone before the wind, and run till we're well 
to looard of our port of departure, and reasonably 
well up with some other place, where they have an 
American consul. Down goes the Farallone, and 
good-bye to her ! A day or so in the boat ; the 
consul packs us home, at Uncle Sam's expense, to 
'Frisco ; and if that merchant don't put the dollars 
down, you come to me ! ' 

* But I thought ' began Herrick ; and then 

broke out : ' O, let 's get on to Peru ! ' 

' Well, if you 're going to Peru for your health I 

won't say no ! ' replied the captain. * But for what 

other blame' shadow of a reason you should want to 

go there gets me clear. We don't want to go there 

274 



THE PARTNERS 

with this cargo ; I don't know as old bottles is a 
lively article anywheres ; leastways, I '11 go my 
bottom cent, it ain't Peru. It was always a doubt 
if we could sell the schooner ; I never rightly hoped 
to, and now I 'm sure she ain't worth a hill of beans ; 
what 's wrong with her I don't know ; I only know 
it's something, or she wouldn't be here with this 
truck in her inside. Then again, if we lose her, and 
land in Peru, where are we ? We can't declare the 
loss, or how did we get to Peru ? In that case 
the merchant can't touch the insurance ; most likely 
he '11 go bust ; and don't you think you see the three 
of us on the beach of Callao ? ' 

* There 's no extradition there,' said Herrick. 

* Well, my son, and we want to be extraded,' said 
the captain. ' What 's our point ? We want to 
have a consul extrade us as far as San Francisco and 
that merchant's office door. My idea is that Samoa 
would be found an eligible business centre. It 's 
dead before the wind ; the States have a consul 
there, and 'Frisco steamers call, so 's we could skip 
right back and interview the merchant.' 

* Samoa ? ' said Herrick. ' It will take us for ever 
to get there.' 

* O, with a fair wind ! ' said the captain. 

* No trouble about the log, eh ? ' asked Huish. 

' No, sir,' said Davis. ' Light airs and baffling 
winds. Squalls and calms. D. R. : Jive miles. No 
obs. Pumps attended. And fill in the barometer 
and thermometer off of last year's trip.' " Never saw 
such a voyage," says you to the consul. " Thought 

275 



THE EBB-TIDE 

T was going to run short . . . " ' He stopped in mid 
career. * 'Say,' he began again, and once more 
stopped. ' Beg your pardon, Herrick,' he added 
with undisguised humility, 'but did you keep the 
run of the stores ? ' 

'Had I been told to do so it should have been 
done, as the rest was done, to the best of my little 
ability,' said Herrick. ' As it was, the cook helped 
himself to what he pleased.' 

Davis looked at the table. 

'I drew it rather fine, you see,' he said at last. 
' The great thing was to clear right out of Papeete 
before the consul could think better of it. Tell you 
what : I guess I '11 take stock.' 

And he rose from table and disappeared with a 
lamp in the lazarette. 

' 'Ere 's another screw loose,' observed Huish. 

' My man,' said Herrick, with a sudden gleam of 
animosity, ' it is still your watch on deck, and surely 
your wheel also ? ' 

' You come the 'eavy swell, don't you, ducky ? ' 
said Huish. ' Stand away from that binnacle. 
Surely your w'eel, my man. Yah.' 

He lit a cigar ostentatiously, and strolled into the 
waist with his hands in his pockets. 

In a surprisingly short time the captain re- 
appeared ; he did not look at Herrick, but called 
Huish back and sat down. 

'Well,' he began, 'I've taken stock — roughly.' 
He paused as if for somebody to help him out ; and 
none doing so, both gazing on him instead with 
276 



THE PARTNERS 

manifest anxiety, he yet more heavily resumed: 
'Well, it won't fight. We can't do it; that's the 
bed-rock. I 'm as sorry as what you can be, and 
sorrier. But the game 's up. We can't look near 
Samoa. I don't know as we could get to Peru.' 

* Wot-ju mean ? ' asked Huish brutally. 

* I can't 'most tell myself,' replied the captain. * I 
drew it fine ; I said I did ; but what 's been going 
on here gets me ! Appears as if the devil had been 
around. That cook must be the holiest kind of 
fraud. Only twelve days too ! Seems like crazi- 
ness. I '11 own up square to one thing : I seem to 
have figured too fine upon the flour. But the rest 
— my land ! I '11 never understand it ! There 's 
been more waste on this twopenny ship than what 
there is to an Atlantic Liner.' He stole a glance at 
his companions ; nothing good was to be gleaned 
from their dark faces ; and he had recourse to rage. 
' You wait till I interview that cook ! ' he roared, and 
smote the table with his fist. ' I '11 interview the 
son of a gun so 's he 's never been spoken to before. 
I '11 put a bead upon the ! ' 

'You will not lay a finger on the man,' said 
Herrick. ' The fault is yours, and you know it. If 
you turn a savage loose in your storeroom, you know 
what to expect. I will not allow the man to be 
molested.' 

It is hard to say how Davis might have taken 
this defiance ; but he was diverted to a fresh 
assailant. 

' Well ! ' drawled Huish, ' you 're a plummy 

277 



THE EBB-TIDE 

captain, ain't you ? You 're a blooming captain ! 
Don't you set up any of your chat to me, John 
Dyvis : I know you now, you ain't any more use 
than a blooming dawl ! O, you " don't know," don't 
you ? O, it " gets you," do it ? O, I dessay ! W'y, 
weren't you 'owling for fresh tins every blessed day ? 
'Ow often 'ave I 'eard you send the 'ole bloomin' 
dinner off and tell the man to chuck it in the swill- 
tub ? And breakfast ? O my crikey ! breakfast 
for ten, and you 'ollerin' for more ! And now you 
" can't 'most tell ! " Blow me if it ain't enough 
to make a man write an insultin' letter to Gawd ! 
You dror it mild, John Dyvis ; don't 'an die me ; 
I 'm dyngerous.' 

Davis sat like one bemused ; it might even have 
been doubted if he heard, but the voice of the clerk 
rang about the cabin like that of a cormorant among 
the ledges of the cliff. 

* That will do, Huish,' said Herrick. 

' O, so you tyke his part, do you ? you stuck-up 
sneerin' snob ! Tyke it then. Come on, the pair 
of you. But as for John Dyvis, let him look out ! 
He struck me the first night aboard, and I never 
took a blow yet but wot I gave as good. Let him 
knuckle down on his marrow-bones and beg my 
pardon. That 's my last word. ' 

' I stand by the captain,' said Herrick. ' That 
makes us two to one, both good men ; and the crew 
will all follow me. I hope I shall die very soon ; 
but I have not the least objection to killing you 
before I go. I should prefer it so ; I should do it 
278 



THE PARTNERS 

with no more remorse than winking. Take care — 
take care, you little cad ! ' 

The animosity with which these words were 
uttered was so marked in itself, and so remarkable 
in the man who uttered them, that Huish stared, 
and even the humiliated Davis reared up his head 
and gazed at his defender. As for Herrick, the 
successive agitations and disappointments of the day 
had left him wholly reckless : he was conscious of a 
pleasant glow, an agreeable excitement ; his head 
seemed empty, his eyeballs burned as he turned 
them, his throat was dry as a biscuit ; the least 
dangerous man by nature, except in so far as the 
weak are always dangerous, at that moment he was 
ready to slay or to be slain with equal unconcern. 

Here at least was the gage thrown down, and 
battle offered ; he who should speak next would 
bring the matter to an issue there and then ; all 
knew it to be so and hung back ; and for many 
seconds by the cabin clock the trio sat motionless 
and silent. 

Then came an interruption, welcome as the flowers 
in May. 

' Land ho ! ' sang out a voice on deck. ' Land a 
weatha bow ! ' 

* Land ! ' cried Davis, springing to his feet. 
* What 's this ? There ain't no land here.' 

And as men may run from the chamber of a 
murdered corpse, the three ran forth out of the 
house and left their quarrel behind them, undecided. 

The sky shaded down at the sea-level to the 

2 79 



THE EBB-TIDE 

white of opals ; the sea itself, insolently, inkily blue, 
drew all about them the uncompromising wheel 
of the horizon. Search it as they pleased, not even 
the practised eye of Captain Davis could descry the 
smallest interruption. A few filmy clouds were 
slowly melting overhead ; and about the schooner, 
as around the only point of interest, a tropic bird, 
white as a snowflake, hung, and circled, and dis- 
played, as it turned, the long vermilion feather of its 
tail. Save the sea and the heaven, that was all. 

* Who sang out land ? ' asked Davis. ' If there 's 
any boy playing funny-dog with me, I '11 teach him 
skylarking ! ' 

But Uncle Ned contentedly pointed to a part of 
the horizon where a greenish, filmy iridescence 
could be discerned floating like smoke on the pale 
heavens. 

Davis applied his glass to it, and then looked at 
the Kanaka. * Call that land?' said he. 'Well, 
it 's more than I do.' 

■ One time long ago,' said Uncle Ned, ' I see 
Anaa all-e-same that, four five hours befo' we come 
up. Capena he say sun go down, sun go up again ; 
he say lagoon all-e-same milla.' 

' All-e-same what ? ' asked Davis. 

' Milla, sah,' said Uncle Ned. 

' O, ah! mirror,' said Davis. 'I see; reflection 
from the lagoon. Well, you know, it is just pos- 
sible, though it 's strange I never heard of it. Here, 
let 's look at the chart.' 

They went back to the cabin, and found the 
280 



THE PARTNERS 

position of the schooner well to windward of the 
archipelago in the midst of a white field of paper. 

* There ! you see for yourselves,' said Davis. 

* And yet I don't know,' said Herrick ; * I somehow 
think there 's something in it. I '11 tell you one 
thing too, captain : that 's all right about the reflec- 
tion ; I heard it in Papeete.' 

' Fetch up that Findlay, then ! ' said Davis. ' I '11 
try it all ways. An island wouldn't come amiss the 
way we 're fixed.' 

The bulky volume was handed up to him, broken - 
backed as is the way with Findlay ; and he turned 
to the place and began to run over the text, mutter- 
ing to himself and turning over the pages with a 
wetted finger. 

' Hullo ! ' he exclaimed. * How 's this ? ' And he 
read aloud : * "New Island. According to M. Delille, 
this island, which from private interests would remain 
unknown, lies, it is said, in lat. 12° 49' 10" S., long. 
133° 6' W. In addition to the position above given, 
Commander Matthews, H.M.S. Scorpion, states that 
an island exists in lat. 12° 0' S., long. 133° 16' W. 
This must be the same, if such an island exists, 
which is very doubtful, and totally disbelieved in by 
South Sea traders." ' 

' Golly ! ' said Huish. 

' It 's rather in the conditional mood,' said Herrick. 

' It 's anything you please,' cried Davis, ' only there 
it is ! That 's our place, and don't you make any 
mistake. ' 

'" Which from private interests would remain 

281 



THE EBB-TIDE 

unknown," ' read Herrick, over his shoulder. ' What 
may that mean ? ' 

' It should mean pearls/ said Davis. ' A pearling 
island the Government don't know about? That 
sounds like real estate. Or suppose it don't mean 
anything. Suppose it 's just an island ; I guess we 
could fill up with fish, and cocoa-nuts, and native 
stuff, and carry out the Samoa scheme hand over 
fist. How long did he say it was before they raised 
Anaa ? Five hours, I think ? ' 

* Four or five,' said Herrick. 

Davis stepped to the door. 'What breeze had 
you that time you made Anaa, Uncle Ned?' said 
he. 

' Six or seven knots,' was the reply. 

* Thirty or thirty-five miles,' said Davis. ' High 
time we were shortening sail, then. If it is an 
island, we don't want to be butting our head against 
it in the dark ; and if it isn't an island, we can get 
through it just as well by daylight. Ready about ! ' 
he roared. 

And the schooner's head was laid for that elusive 
glimmer in the sky, which began already to pale in 
lustre and diminish in size, as the stain of breath 
vanishes from a window-pane. At the same time 
she was reefed close down. 



282 



PART II : THE QUARTETTE 

CHAPTER VII 

THE PEARL-FISHER 

About four in the morning, as the captain and 
Herrick sat together on the rail, there arose from 
the midst of the night in front of them the voice of 
breakers. Each sprang to his feet and stared and 
listened. The sound was continuous, like the passing 
of a train ; no rise or fall could be distinguished ; 
minute by minute the ocean heaved with an equal 
potency against the invisible isle ; and as time 
passed, and Herrick waited in vain for any vicissi- 
tude in the volume of that roaring, a sense of the 
eternal weighed upon his mind. To the expert eye 
the isle itself was to be inferred from a certain 
string of blots along the starry heaven. And the 
schooner was laid to and anxiously observed till 
daylight. 

There was little or no morning bank. A brighten- 
ing came in the east ; then a wash of some ineffable, 
faint, nameless hue between crimson and silver ; and 
then coals of fire. These glimmered a while on the 

283 



THE EBB-TIDE 

sea-line, and seemed to brighten and darken and 
spread out, and still the night and the stars reigned 
undisturbed ; it was as though a spark should catch 
and glow and creep along the foot of some heavy 
and almost incombustible wall-hanging, and the 
room itself be scarce menaced. Yet a little after, 
and the whole east glowed with gold and scarlet, 
and the hollow of heaven was filled with the day- 
light. 

The isle — the undiscovered, the scarce-believed 
in — now lay before them and close aboard ; and 
Herrick thought that never in his dreams had he 
beheld anything more strange and delicate. The 
beach was excellently white, the continuous barrier 
of trees inimitably green ; the land perhaps ten feet 
high, the trees thirty more. Every here and there, 
as the schooner coasted northward, the wood was 
intermitted ; and he could see clear over the incon- 
siderable strip of land (as a man looks over a wall) 
to the lagoon within — and clear over that again to 
where the far side of the atoll prolonged its pencilling 
of trees against the morning sky. He tortured 
himself to find analogies. The isle was like the rim 
of a great vessel sunken in the waters ; it was like 
the embankment of an annular railway grown upon 
with wood : so slender it seemed amidst the out- 
rageous breakers, so frail and pretty, he would scarce 
have wondered to see it sink and disappear without 
a sound, and the waves close smoothly over its 
descent. 

Meanwhile the captain was in the four cross-trees, 
284 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

glass in hand, his eyes in every quarter, spying for 
an entrance, spying for signs of tenancy. But the 
isle continued to unfold itself in joints, and to run 
out in indeterminate capes, and still there was 
neither house nor man, nor the smoke of fire. Here 
a multitude of sea-birds soared and twinkled, and 
fished in the blue waters ; and there, and for miles 
together, the fringe of cocoa-palm and pandanus 
extended desolate, and made desirable green bowers 
for nobody to visit, and the silence of death was 
only broken by the throbbing of the sea. 

The airs were very light, their speed was small ; 
the heat intense. The decks were scorching under- 
foot, the sun flamed overhead, brazen, out of a 
brazen sky ; the pitch bubbled in the seams, and 
the brains in the brain-pan. And all the while the 
excitement of the three adventurers glowed about 
their bones like a fever. They whispered, and 
nodded, and pointed, and put mouth to ear, with a 
singular instinct of secrecy, approaching that island 
under-hand like eavesdroppers and thieves ; and even 
Davis from the cross-trees gave his orders mostly 
by gestures. The hands shared in this mute strain, 
like dogs, without comprehending it; and through 
the roar of so many miles of breakers, it was a silent 
ship that approached an empty island. 

At last they drew near to the break in that inter- 
minable gangway. A spur of coral sand stood forth 
on the one hand ; on the other a high and thick 
tuft of trees cut off the view ; between was the 
mouth of the huge laver. Twice a day the ocean 

285 



THE EBB-TIDE 

crowded in that narrow entrance and was heaped 
between these frail walls ; twice a day, with the 
return of the ebb, the mighty surplusage of water 
must struggle to escape. The hour in which the 
Farallone came there was the hour of flood. The 
sea turned (as with the instinct of the homing 
pigeon) for the vast receptacle, swept eddying 
through the gates, was transmuted, as it did so, into 
a wonder of watery and silken hues, and brimmed 
into the inland sea beyond. The schooner looked 
up close-hauled, and was caught and carried away 
by the influx like a toy. She skimmed ; she flew ; 
a momentary shadow touched her decks from the 
shoreside trees ; the bottom of the channel showed 
up for a moment and was in a moment gone; 
the next, she floated on the bosom of the lagoon, 
and below, in the transparent chamber of waters, 
a myriad of many- coloured fishes were sporting, a 
myriad pale flowers of coral diversified the floor. 

Herrick stood transported. In the gratified lust 
of his eye he forgot the past and the present ; forgot 
that he was menaced by a prison on the one hand 
and starvation on the other; forgot that he was 
come to that island, desperately foraging, clutching 
at expedients. A drove of fishes, painted like the 
rainbow and billed like parrots, hovered up in 
the shadow of the schooner, and passed clear of it, 
and glinted in the submarine sun. They were 
beautiful, like birds, and their silent passage im- 
pressed him like a strain of song. 

Meanwhile, to the eye of Davis in the cross-trees, 
286 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

the lagoon continued to expand its empty waters, 
and the long succession of the shoreside trees to be 
paid out like fishing-line off a reel. And still there 
was no mark of habitation. The schooner, im- 
mediately on entering, had been kept away to the 
nor'ard where the water seemed to be the most 
deep ; and she was now skimming past the tall grove 
of trees, which stood on that side of the channel 
and denied further view. Of the whole of the low 
shores of the island only this bight remained to be 
revealed. And suddenly the curtain was raised ; 
they began to open out a haven, snugly elbowed 
there, and beheld, with an astonishment beyond 
words, the roofs of men. 

The appearance, thus ' instantaneously disclosed ' 
to those on the deck of the Farallone, was not that 
of a city, rather of a substantial country farm with 
its attendant hamlet : a long line of sheds and store- 
houses ; apart, upon the one side, a deep- verandah 'd 
dwelling-house ; on the other, perhaps a dozen native 
huts ; a building with a belfry and some rude offer 
at architectural features that might be thought to 
mark it out for a chapel; on the beach in front 
some heavy boats drawn up, and a pile of timber 
running forth into the burning shallows of the 
lagoon. From a flag-staff at the pierhead the red 
ensign of England was displayed. Behind, about, 
and over, the same tall grove of palms, which had 
masked the settlement in the beginning, prolonged 
its roof of tumultuous green fans, and turned and 
ruffled overhead, and sang its silver song all day in 

287 



THE EBB-TIDE 

the wind. The place had the indescribable but 
unmistakable appearance of being in commission ; 
yet there breathed from it a sense of desertion that 
was almost poignant, no human figure was to be 
observed going to and fro about the houses, and 
there was no sound of human industry or enjoyment. 
Only, on the top of the beach, and hard by the 
flagstaff, a woman of exorbitant stature and as white 
as snow was to be seen beckoning with uplifted 
arm. The second glance identified her as a piece 
of naval sculpture, the figure-head of a ship that had 
long hovered and plunged into so many running 
billows, and was now brought ashore to be the 
ensign and presiding genius of that empty town. 

The Farallone made a soldier's breeze of it ; the 
wind, besides, was stronger inside than without 
under the lee of the land ; and the stolen schooner 
opened out successive objects with the swiftness of 
a panorama, so that the adventurers stood speechless. 
The flag spoke for itself; it was no frayed and 
weathered trophy that had beaten itself to pieces 
on the post, flying over desolation ; and to make 
assurance stronger, there was to be descried in the 
deep shade of the verandah a glitter of crystal and 
the fluttering of white napery. If the figure-head 
at the pier-end, with its perpetual gesture and its 
leprous whiteness, reigned alone in that hamlet as 
it seemed to do, it would not have reigned long. 
Men's hands had been busy, men's feet stirring 
there, within the circuit of the clock. The Faral- 
lones were sure of it ; their eyes dug in the deep 
288 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

shadow of the palms for some one hiding ; if inten- 
sity of looking might have prevailed, they would 
have pierced the walls of houses ; and there came to 
them, in these pregnant seconds, a sense of being 
watched and played with, and of a blow impending, 
that was hardly bearable. 

The extreme point of palms they had just passed 
enclosed a creek, which was thus hidden up to the 
last moment from the eyes of those on board ; and 
from this a boat put suddenly and briskly out, and 
a voice hailed. 

6 Schooner ahoy ! ' it cried. ' Stand in for the 
pier ! In two cables' lengths you '11 have twenty 
fathoms water and 'good holding-ground.' 

The boat was manned with a couple of brown 
oarsmen in scanty kilts of blue. The speaker, who 
was steering, wore white clothes, the full dress of 
the tropics ; a wide hat shaded his face ; but it could 
be seen that he was of stalwart size, and his voice 
sounded like a gentleman's. So much could be 
made out. It was plain, besides, that the Farallone 
had been descried some time before at sea, and the 
inhabitants were prepared for its reception. 

Mechanically the orders were obeyed, and the ship 
berthed ; and the three adventurers gathered aft 
beside the house and waited, with galloping pulses 
and a perfect vacancy of mind, the coming of the 
stranger who might mean so much to them. They 
had no plan, no story prepared ; there was no time 
to make one; they were caught red-handed and 
must stand their chance. Yet this anxiety was 
19 — t 289 



THE EBB-TIDE 

chequered with hope. The island being undeclared, 
it was not possible the man could hold any office or 
be in a position to demand their papers. And be- 
yond that, if there was any truth in Findlay, as it 
now seemed there should be, he was the represen- 
tative of the 'private reasons,' he must see their 
coming with a profound disappointment ; and per- 
haps (hope whispered) he would be willing and able 
to purchase their silence. 

The boat was by that time forging alongside, and 
they were able at last to see what manner of man 
they had to do with. He was a huge fellow, six 
feet four in height, and of a build proportionately 
strong, but his sinews seemed to be dissolved in a 
listlessness that was more than languor. It was 
only the eye that corrected this impression ; an eye 
of an unusual mingled brilliancy and softness, sombre 
as coal and with lights that outshone the topaz ; an 
eye of unimpaired health and virility ; an eye that 
bid you beware of the man's devastating anger. A 
complexion, naturally dark, had been tanned in the 
island to a hue hardly distinguishable from that of a 
Tahitian ; only his manners and movements, and the 
living force that dwelt in him, like fire in flint, be- 
trayed the European. He was dressed in white 
drill, exquisitely made ; his scarf and tie were of 
tender-coloured silks ; on the thwart beside him 
there leaned a Winchester rifle. 

' Is the doctor on board ? ' he cried as he came up. 
' Dr. Symonds, I mean ? You never heard of him ? 
Nor yet of the Trinity Hall ? Ah ! ' 
290 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

He did not look surprised, seemed rather to affect 
it in politeness ; but his eye rested on each of the 
three white men in succession with a sudden weight 
of curiosity that was almost savage. ' Ah, then ! ' 
said he, ' there is some small mistake, no doubt, and 
I must ask you to what I am indebted for this 
pleasure ? ' 

He was by this time on the deck, but he had the 
art to be quite unapproachable ; the friendliest 
vulgarian, three parts drunk, would have known 
better than take liberties ; and not one of the 
adventurers so much as offered to shake hands. 

' Well,' said Davis, * I suppose you may call it 
an accident. We had heard of your island, and 
read that thing in the Directory about the private 
reasons, you see ; so when we saw the lagoon re- 
flected in the sky, we put her head for it at once, 
and so here we are.' 

1 'Ope we don't intrude ! ' said Huish. 

The stranger looked at Huish with an air of faint 
surprise, and looked pointedly away again. It was 
hard to be more offensive in dumb-show. 

* It may suit me, your coming here,' he said. 
' My own schooner is overdue, and I may put some- 
thing in your way in the meantime. Are you open 
to a charter ? ' 

' Well, I guess so,' said Davis ; ' it depends.' 

* My name is Attwater,' continued the stranger. 
* You, I presume, are the captain ? ' 

' Yes, sir. * I am the captain of this ship : Captain 
Brown,' was the reply. 

291 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* Well, see 'ere ! ' said Huish, ' better begin fair ! 
'E 's skipper on deck right enough, but not below. 
Below we're all equal, all got a lay in the adventure; 
when it conies to business I 'm as good as 'e ; and 
what I say is, let's go into the 'ouse and have a 
lush, and talk it over among pals. We've some 
prime fizz,' he said, and winked. 

The presence of the gentleman lighted up like a 
candle the vulgarity of the clerk ; and Herrick in- 
stinctively, as one shields himself from pain, made 
haste to interrupt. 

' My name is Hay,' said he, ' since introductions 
are going. We shall be very glad if you will step 
inside.' 

Attwater leaned to him swiftly. * University 
man ? ' said he. 

' Yes, Merton,' said Herrick, and the next moment 
blushed scarlet at his indiscretion. 

' I am of the other lot,' said Attwater : ' Trinity 
Hall, Cambridge. I called my schooner after the 
old shop. Well ! this is a queer place and company 
for us to meet in, Mr. Hay,' he pursued, with easy 
incivility to the others. ' But do you bear out . . . 
I beg this gentleman's pardon, I really did not catch 
his name.' 

' My name is 'Uish, sir,' returned the clerk, and 
blushed in turn. 

v ' Ah ! ' said Attwater. And then turning again 
to Herrick, ' Do you bear out Mr. Whish's descrip- 
tion of your vintage ? or was it only the unaffected 
poetry of his own nature bubbling up ? ' 
292 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

Herrick was embarrassed ; the silken brutality of 
their visitor made him blush ; that he should be 
accepted as an equal, and the others thus pointedly 
ignored, pleased him in spite of himself, and then 
ran through his veins in a recoil of anger. 

* I don't know,' he said. 'It's only California; 
it 's good enough, I believe.' 

Attwater seemed to make up his mind. * Well 
then, I '11 tell you what : you three gentlemen come 
ashore this evening and bring a basket of wine with 
you ; I '11 try and find the food,' he said. ' And 
by the by, here is a question I should have asked 
you when I came on board : Have you had small- 
pox?' 

' Personally, no,' said Herrick. * But the schooner 
had it' 

' Deaths ? ' from Attwater. 

' Two,' said Herrick. 

* Well, it is a dreadful sickness,' said Attwater. 

' 'Ad you any deaths ? ' asked Huish, * 'ere on the 
island ? ' 

' Twenty-nine,' said Attwater. * Twenty-nine 
deaths and thirty-one cases, out of thirty-three souls 
upon the island. — That 's a strange way to calculate, 
Mr. Hay, is it not ? Souls ! I never say it but it 
startles me.' 

' O, so that 's why everything 's deserted ? ' said 
Huish. 

* That is why, Mr. Whish,' said Attwater ; f that 
is why the house is empty and the graveyard full.' 

' Twenty-nine out of thirty-three ! ' exclaimed 

293 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Herrick. ' Why, when it came to burying — or did 
you bother burying ? ' 

' Scarcely,' said Attwater ; * or there was one day 
at least when we gave up. There were five of the 
dead that morning, and thirteen of the dying, and 
no one able to go about except the sexton and my- 
self. We held a council of war, took the . . . 
empty bottles . . . into the lagoon, and . . . buried 
them.' He looked over his shoulder, back at the 
bright water. * Well, so you '11 come to dinner, 
then ? Shall we say half-past six ? So good of 
you!' 

His voice, in uttering these conventional phrases, 
fell at once into the false measure of society ; and 
Herrick unconsciously followed the example. 

' I am sure we shall be very glad,' he said. ' At 
half-past six ? Thank you so very much. ' 

' " For my voice has been tuned to the note of the gun 
That startles the deep when the combat 's begun," ' 

quoted Attwater, with a smile, which instantly gave 
way to an air of funereal solemnity. ' I shall par- 
ticularly expect Mr. Whish,' he continued. — 'Mr. 
Whish, I trust you understand the invitation ? ' 

' I believe you, my boy ! ' replied the genial Huish. 

' That is right, then ; and quite understood, is it 
not ? ' said Attwater. ' Mr. Whish and Captain 
Brown at six-thirty without fault — and you, Hay, 
at four sharp.' 

And he called his boat. 

During all this talk a load of thought or anxiety 
294 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

had weighed upon the captain. There was no part 
for which nature had so liberally endowed him as 
that of the genial ship-captain. But to-day he was 
silent and abstracted. Those who knew him could 
see that he hearkened close to every syllable, and 
seemed to ponder and try it in balances. It would 
have been hard to say what look there was, cold, 
attentive, and sinister, as of a man maturing plans, 
which still brooded over the unconscious guest ; it 
was here, it was there, it was nowhere ; it was now 
so little that Herrick chid himself for an idle fancy ; 
and anon it was so gross and palpable that you 
could say every hair on the man's head talked mis- 
chief. 

He woke up now, as with a start. 'You were 
talking of a charter,' said he. 

< Was I ? ' said Attwater. ' Well, let 's talk of it 
no more at present.' 

' Your own schooner is overdue, I understand ? ' 
continued the captain. 

'You understand perfectly, Captain Brown,' said 
Attwater ; ' thirty-three days overdue at noon to-day.' 

' She come and goes, eh ? plies between here 
and . . . ? ' hinted the captain. 

' Exactly ; every four months ; three trips in the 
year,' said Attwater. 

' You go in her ever ? ' asked Davis. 

' No ; one stops here,' said Attwater ; ' one has 
plenty to attend to.' 

' Stop here, do you ? ' cried Davis. ' Say, how 
long ? ' 

295 



THE EBB-TIDE 

' How long, O Lord,' said Attwater with perfect, 
stern gravity. * But it does not seem so,' he added, 
with a smile. 

' No, I daresay not,' said Davis. ' No, I suppose 
not. Not with all your gods about you, and in as 
snug a berth as this. For it is a pretty snug berth,' 
said he, with a sweeping look. 

* The spot, as you are good enough to indicate, is 
not entirely intolerable,' was the reply. 

' Shell, I suppose ? ' said Davis. 

* Yes, there was shell,' said Attwater. 

■ This is a considerable big beast of a lagoon, sir,' 
said the captain. ' Was there a — was the fishing — 
would you call the fishing anyways good ? ' 

* I don't know that I would call it anyways any- 
thing,' said Attwater, * if you put it to me direct' 

' There were pearls too ? ' said Davis. 
' Pearls too,' said Attwater. 

* Well, I give out ! ' laughed Davis, and his 
laughter rang cracked like a false piece. ' If you 're 
not going to tell, you're not going to tell, and 
there's an end to it.' 

' There can be no reason why I should affect the 
least degree of secrecy about my island,' returned 
Attwater; 'that came wholly to an end with your 
arrival ; and I am sure, at any rate, that gentlemen 
like you and Mr. Whish I should have always been 
charmed to make perfectly at home. The point on 
which we are now differing — if you can call it a differ- 
ence — is one of times and seasons. I have some 
information which you think I might impart, and 
296 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

I think not. Well, we'll see to-night! By-by, 
Whish ! ' He stepped into his boat and shoved off. 
' All understood, then ? ' said he. ' The captain and 
Mr. Whish at six-thirty, and you, Hay, at four 
precise. You understand that, Hay ? Mind, I 
take no denial. If you 're not there by the time 
named there will be no banquet; no song, no 
supper, Mr. Whish ! ' 

White birds whisked in the air above, a shoal of 
parti-coloured fishes in the scarce denser medium 
below ; between, like Mahomet's coffin, the boat 
drew away briskly on the surface, and its shadow 
followed it over the glittering floor of the lagoon. 
Attwater looked steadily back over his shoulders as 
he sat; he did not once remove his eyes from the 
Farallone and the group on her quarter-deck beside 
the house, till his boat ground upon the pier. 
Thence, with an agile pace, he hurried ashore, 
and they saw his white clothes shining in the 
chequered dusk of the grove until the house re- 
ceived him. 

The captain, with a gesture and a speaking coun- 
tenance, called the adventurers into the cabin. 

* Well,' he said to Herrick, when they were seated, 
* there 's one good job at least : he 's taken to you 
in earnest.' 

' Why should that be a good job ? ' said Herrick. 

* O, you '11 see how it pans out presently,' returned 
Davis. 'You go ashore and stand in with him, 
that 's all ! You '11 get lots of pointers ; you can 
find out what he has, and what the charter is, and 

297 



THE EBB-TIDE 

who 's the fourth man — for there 's four of them, 
and we 're only three.' 

'And suppose I do, what next?' cried Herrick. 
' Answer me that ! ' 

'So I will, Robert Herrick,' said the captain. 
' But first, let 's see all clear. I guess you know,' he 
said with imperious solemnity, 'I guess you know 
the bottom is out of this Farallone speculation ? 
I guess you know it's right out? and if this old 
island hadn't been turned up right when it did, 
I guess you know where you and I and Huish 
would have been ? ' 

' Yes, I know that,' said Herrick. * No matter 
who 's to blame, I know it. And what next ? ' 

'No matter who's to blame, you know it, right 
enough,' said the captain, ' and I 'm obliged to you 
for the reminder. Now, here 's this Attwater : what 
do you think of him ? ' 

' I do not know,' said Herrick. ' I am attracted 
and repelled. He was insufferably rude to you.' 

' And you, Huish ? ' said the captain. 

Huish sat cleaning a favourite briar-root; he 
scarce looked up from that engrossing task. 'Don't 
ast me what I think of him ! ' he said. ' There 's a 
day comin', I pray Gawd, when I can tell it him 
myself.' 

' Huish means the same as what I do,' said Davis. 
' When that man came stepping around, and saying, 
" Look here, I 'm Attwater " — and you knew it was 
so, by God ! — I sized him right straight up. Here 's 
the real article, I said, and I don't like it ; here 's the 
298 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

real, first-rate, copper-bottomed aristocrat. "Aw/ 
dont know ye, do I ? God damn ye, did God make 
ye ? " No, that couldn't be nothing but genuine ; a 
man got to be born to that, and notice ! smart as 
champagne and hard as nails ; no kind of a fool ; no, 
sir ! not a pound of him ! Well, what 's he here 
upon this beastly island for? I said. He's not 
here collecting eggs. He's a palace at home, and 
powdered flunkeys ; and if he don't stay there, you 
bet he knows the reason why ! Follow ? ' 

* O yes, I 'ear you,' said Huish. 

' He 's been doing good business here, then,' con- 
tinued the captain. ' For ten years he 's been doing 
a great business. It 's pearl and shell, of course ; 
there couldn't be nothing else in such a place, 
and no doubt the shell goes off regularly by this 
Trinity Hall, and the money for it straight into the 
bank, so that's no use to us. But what else is 
there ? Is there nothing else he would be likely to 
keep here ? Is there nothing else he would be 
bound to keep here ? Yes, sir ; the pearls ! First, 
because they're too valuable to trust out of his 
hands. Second, because pearls want a lot of hand- 
ling and matching ; and the man who sells his pearls 
as they come in, one here, one there, instead of 
hanging back and holding up — well, that man's a 
fool, and it 's not Attwater.' 

* Likely,' said Huish, 'that's w'at it is; not 
proved, but likely.' 

' It 's proved,' said Davis bluntly. 
'. Suppose it was ? ' said Herrick. ' Suppose that 

299 



THE EBB-TIDE 

was all so, and he had these pearls — a ten years' 
collection of them ? — Suppose he had ? There 's my 
question.' 

The captain drummed with his thick hands on 
the board in front of him ; he looked steadily in 
Herrick's face, and Herrick as steadily looked upon 
the table and the pattering fingers ; there was a 
gentle oscillation of the anchored ship, and a big 
patch of sunlight travelled to and fro between the 
one and the other. 

' Hear me ! ' Herrick burst out suddenly. 

' No, you better hear me first,' said Davis. ' Hear 
me and understand me. We 've got no use for that 
fellow, whatever you may have. He's your kind, 
he 's not ours ; he 's took to you, and he 's wiped 
his boots on me and Huish. Save him if you 
can ! ' 

* Save him ? ' repeated Herrick. 

s Save him, if you 're able ! ' reiterated Davis, with 
a blow of his clenched fist. ' Go ashore, and talk 
him smooth ; and if you get him and his pearls 
aboard, I '11 spare him. If you don't, there 's going 
to be a funeral. — Is that so, Huish ? does that suit 
you?' 

* I ain't a forgiving man,' said Huish, ' but I 'm 
not the sort to spoil business neither. Bring the 
bloke on board and bring his pearls along with him, 
and you can have it your own way ; maroon 
him where you like, — I 'm agreeable.' 

* Well, and if I can't ? ' cried Herrick, while the 
sweat streamed upon his face. ' You talk to me as 

300 



THE PEARL-FISHER 

if I was God Almighty, to do this and that ! But if 
I can't ? ' 

' My son,' said the captain, * you better do your 
level best, or you '11 see sights ! ' 

' O yes,' said Huish. ' O crikey, yes ! ' He looked 
across at Herrick with a toothless smile that was 
shocking in its savagery ; and his ear, caught ap- 
parently by the trivial expression he had used, broke 
into a piece of the chorus of a comic song which he 
must have heard twenty years before in London ; 
meaningless gibberish that, in that hour and place, 
seemed hateful as a blasphemy : * Hikey, pikey, 
crikey, fikey, chillingawallaba dory.' 

The captain suffered him to finish ; his face was 
unchanged. 

* The way things are, there 's many a man that 
wouldn't let you go ashore,' he resumed. ' But I 'm 
not that kind. I know you 'd never go back on me, 
Herrick ! Or if you choose to, — go, and do it, and 
be damned ! ' he cried, and rose abruptly from the 
table. 

He walked out of the house ; and as he reached 
the door turned and called Huish, suddenly and 
violently, like the barking of a dog. Huish followed, 
and Herrick remained alone in the cabin. 

' Now, see here ! ' whispered Davis. ' I know 
that man. If you open your mouth to him again, 
you'll ruin all.' 



301 



THE EBB-TIDE 
CHAPTER VIII 

BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

The boat was gone again, and already half-way to 
the Farallone, before Herrick turned and went un- 
willingly up the pier. From the crown of the beach, 
the figure-head confronted him with what seemed 
irony, her helmeted head tossed back, her formidable 
arm apparently hurling something, whether shell or 
missile, in the direction of the anchored schooner. 
She seemed a defiant deity from the island, coming 
forth to its threshold with a rush as of one about 
to fly, and perpetuated in that dashing attitude. 
Herrick looked up at her, where she towered above 
him head and shoulders, with singular feelings of 
curiosity and romance, and suffered his mind to 
travel to and fro in her life-history. So long she 
had been the blind conductress of a ship among the 
waves ; so long she had stood here idle in the violent 
sun, that yet did not avail to blister her ; and was 
even this the end of so many adventures ? he 
wondered, or was more behind ? And he could 
have found it in his heart to regret that she was not 
a goddess, nor yet he a pagan, that he might have 
bowed down before her in that hour of difficulty. 

When he now went forward, it was cool with the 

shadow of many well-grown palms ; draughts of 

the dying breeze swung them together overhead ; 

and on all sides, with a swiftness beyond dragon-flies 

302 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

or swallows, the spots of sunshine flitted, and hovered, 
and returned. Underfoot, the sand was fairly solid 
and quite level, and Herrick's steps fell there noise- 
less as in new-fallen snow. It bore the marks of 
having been once weeded like a garden alley at 
home ; but the pestilence had done its work, and 
the weeds were returning. The buildings of the 
settlement showed here and there through the stems 
of the colonnade, fresh painted, trim and dandy, and 
all silent as the grave. Only, here and there in the 
crypt, there was a rustle and scurry and some crow- 
ing of poultry ; and from behind the house with the 
verandahs he saw smoke arise and heard the crack- 
ling of a fire. 

The stone houses were nearest him upon his right. 
The first was locked ; in the second he could dimly 
perceive, through a window, a certain accumulation 
of pearl-shell piled in the far end ; the third, which 
stood gaping open on the afternoon, seized on the 
mind of Herrick with its multiplicity and disorder of 
romantic things. Therein were cables, windlasses 
and blocks of every size and capacity ; cabin-win- 
dows and ladders ; rusty tanks ; a companion hutch ; 
a binnacle with its brass mountings and its compass 
idly pointing, in the confusion and dusk of that 
shed, to a forgotten pole ; ropes, anchors, harpoons ; 
a blubber-dipper of copper, green with years ; a 
steering-wheel, a tool-chest with the vessel's name 
upon the top, the Asia : a whole curiosity-shop of 
sea-curios, gross and solid, heavy to lift, ill to break, 
bound with brass and shod with iron. Two wrecks 

303 



THE EBB-TIDE 

at the least must have contributed to this random 
heap of lumber ; and as Herrick looked upon it, it 
seemed to him as if the two ships' companies were 
there on guard, and he heard the tread of feet and 
whisperings, and saw with the tail of his eye the 
commonplace ghosts of sailor men. 

This was not merely the work of an aroused 
imagination, but had something sensible to go upon ; 
sounds of a stealthy approach were no doubt 
audible ; and while he still stood staring at the 
lumber, the voice of his host sounded suddenly, and 
with even more than the customary softness of 
enunciation, from behind. 

' Junk,' it said, * only old junk ! And does Mr. 
Hay find a parable ? ' 

* I find at least a strong impression,' replied Her- 
rick, turning quickly, lest he might be able to catch, 
on the face of the speaker, some commentary on the 
words. 

Attwater stood in the doorway, which he almost 
wholly filled ; his hands stretched above his head 
and grasping the architrave. He smiled when their 
eyes met, but the expression was inscrutable. 

■ Yes, a powerful impression. You are like me ; 
nothing so affecting as ships ! ' said he. ' The ruins 
of an empire would leave me frigid, when a bit of 
an old rail that an old shellback leaned on in the 
middle watch would bring me up all standing. — But 
come, let's see some more of the island. It's all 
sand and coral and palm-trees ; but there 's a kind 
of a quaintness in the place.' 
304 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

' I find it heavenly,' said Herrick, breathing deep, 
with head bared in the shadow. 

'Ah, that's because you're new from sea,' said 
Attwater. ' I daresay too you can appreciate what 
one calls it. It 's a lovely name. It has a flavour, 
it has a colour, it has a ring and fall to it ; it 's like 
its author — it 's half Christian ! Remember your 
first view of the island, and how it 's only woods and 
woods and water ; and suppose you had asked some- 
body for the name, and he had answered — nemorosa 
Zacynthos.' 

' Jam medio apparet Jluctu ! ' exclaimed Herrick. 
' Ye gods, yes, how good ! ' 

' If it gets upon the chart, the skippers will make 
nice work of it,' said Attwater. ' But here, come 
and see the diving-shed.' 

He opened a door, and Herrick saw a large dis- 
play of apparatus neatly ordered : pumps and pipes, 
and the leaded boots, and the huge snouted helmets 
shining in rows along the wall ; ten complete outfits. 

' The whole eastern half of my lagoon is shallow, 
you must understand,' said Attwater; 'so we were 
able to get in the dress to great advantage. It paid 
beyond belief, and was a queer sight when they 
were at it, and these marine monsters ' — tapping the 
nearest of the helmets — 'kept appearing and re- 
appearing in the midst of the lagoon. — Fond of 
parables ? ' he asked abruptly. 

' O yes ! ' said Herrick. 

' Well, I saw these machines come up dripping 
and go down again, and come up dripping and go 
19— u 305 



THE EBB-TIDE 

down again, and all the while the fellow inside as 
dry as toast ! ' said Attwater ; ' and I thought we all 
wanted a dress to go down into the world in, and 
come up scatheless. What do you think the name 
was ? ' he inquired. 

* Self-conceit,' said Herrick. 

* Ah, but I mean seriously ! ' said Attwater. 

' Call it self-respect, then ! ' corrected Herrick, 
with a laugh. 

' And why not Grace ? Why not God's Grace, 
Hay ? ' asked Attwater. ' Why not the grace of 
your Maker and Redeemer, He who died for you, He 
who upholds you, He whom you daily crucify afresh ? 
There is nothing here' — striking on his bosom, — 
'nothing there' — smiting the wall, — 'and nothing 
there,' — stamping — ' nothing but God's Grace ! We 
walk upon it, we breathe it; we live and die by 
it ; it makes the nails and axles of the universe ; 
and a puppy in pyjamas prefers self-conceit ! ' The 
huge dark man stood over against Herrick by the 
line of the divers' helmets, and seemed to swell and 
glow ; and the next moment the life had gone from 
him. — ' I beg your pardon,' said he ; ' I see you don't 
believe in God ? ' 

' Not in your sense, I am afraid,' said Herrick. 

'I never argue with young atheists or habitual 
drunkards,' said Attwater flippantly. — 'Let us go 
across the island to the outer beach.' 

It was but a little way, the greatest width of that 
island scarce exceeding a furlong, and they walked 
gently. Herrick was like one in a dream. He had 
306 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

come there with a mind divided ; come prepared to 
study that ambiguous and sneering mask, drag out 
the essential man from underneath, and act accord- 
ingly ; decision being till then postponed. Iron 
cruelty, an iron insensibility to the suffering of 
others, the uncompromising pursuit of his own 
interests, cold culture, manners without humanity: 
these he had looked for, these he still thought he 
saw. But to find the whole machine thus glow 
with the reverberation of religious zeal surprised 
him beyond words ; and he laboured in vain, as he 
walked, to piece together into any kind of whole his 
odds and ends of knowledge — to adjust again into 
any kind of focus with itself his picture of the man 
beside him. 

' What brought you here to the South Seas ? ' he 
asked presently. 

* Many things,' said Attwater. * Youth, curiosity, 
romance, the love of the sea, and (it will surprise 
you to hear) an interest in missions. That has a 
good deal declined, which will surprise you less. 
They go the wrong way to work ; they are too 
parsonish, too much of the old wife, and even the 
old apple-wife. Clothes, clothes, are their idea; but 
clothes are not Christianity, any more than they are 
the sun in heaven, or could take the place of it! 
They think a parsonage with roses, and church-bells, 
and nice old women bobbing in the lanes, are part 
and parcel of religion. But religion is a savage 
thing, like the universe it illuminates ; savage, cold, 
and bare, but infinitely strong.' 

307 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* And you found this island by an accident ? ' said 
Herrick. 

f As you did ! ' said Attwater. * And since then I 
have had a business, and a colony, and a mission of 
my own. I was a man of the world before I was a 
Christian ; I 'm a man of the world still, and I made 
my mission pay. No good ever came of coddling. 
A man has to stand up in God's sight and work up 
to his weight avoirdupois ; then I '11 talk to him, but 
not before. I gave these beggars what they wanted : 
a judge in Israel, the bearer of the sword and scourge; 
I was making a new people here ; and behold, the 
angel of the Lord smote them and they were not ! ' 

With the very uttering of the words, which were 
accompanied by a gesture, they came forth out of 
the porch of the palm wood by the margin of the 
sea and full in front of the sun, which was near set- 
ting. Before them the surf broke slowly. All 
around, with an air of imperfect wooden things in- 
spired with wicked activity, the crabs trundled and 
scuttled into holes. On the right, whither Attwater 
pointed and abruptly turned, was the cemetery of 
the island, a field of broken stones from the bigness 
of a child's hand to that of his head, diversified by 
many mounds of the same material, and walled 
by a rude rectangular enclosure. Nothing grew 
there but a shrub or two with some white flowers ; 
nothing but the number of the mounds, and their 
disquieting shape, indicated the presence 4 of the 
dead. 

' The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep ! ' 
308 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

quoted Attwater as he entered by the open gate- 
way into that unholy close. * Coral to coral, pebbles 
to pebbles,' he said ; ' this has been the main scene of 
my activity in the South Pacific. Some were good, 
and some bad, and the majority (of course and 
always) null. Here was a fellow, now, that used 
to frisk like a dog ; if you had called him he came 
like an arrow from a bow ; if you had not, and he 
came unbidden, you should have seen the deprecat- 
ing eye and the little intricate dancing step. Well, 
his trouble is over now ; he has lain down with kings 
and councillors ; the rest of his acts, are they not 
written in the book of the chronicles ? That fellow 
was from Penrhyn ; like all the Penrhyn islanders 
he was ill to manage ; heady, jealous, violent : the 
man with the nose ! He lies here quiet enough. 
And so they all lie. 

" And darkness was the burier of the dead ! " 

He stood, in the strong glow of the sunset, with 
bowed head ; his voice sounded now sweet and now 
bitter with the varying sense. 

* You loved these people?' cried Herrick, strangely 
touched. 

*■ I ? ' said Attwater. * Dear no ! Don't think me 
a philanthropist. I dislike men, and hate women. 
If I like the islands at all, it is because you see them 
here plucked of their lendings, their dead birds and 
cocked hats, their petticoats and coloured hose. 
Here was one I liked though,' and he set his foot 
upon a mound. ' He was a fine savage fellow ; he 

309 



THE EBB-TIDE 

had a dark soul ; yes, I liked this one. I am fanci- 
ful,' he added, looking hard at Herrick, ' and I take 
fads. I like you.' 

Herrick turned swiftly and looked far away to 
where the clouds were beginning to troop together 
and amass themselves round the obsequies of day. 

* No one can like me,' he said. 

' You are wrong there,' said the other, ' as a man 
usually is about himself. You are attractive, very 
attractive.' 

* It is not me,' said Herrick ; ' no one can like me. 
If you knew how I despised myself — and why ! ' 
His voice rang out in the quiet graveyard. 

' I knew that you despised yourself,' said Attwater. 

* I saw the blood come into your face to-day when 
you remembered Oxford. And I could have blushed 
for you myself, to see a man, a gentleman, with these 
two vulgar wolves.' 

Herrick faced him with a thrill. 'Wolves?' he 
repeated. 

' I said wolves, and vulgar wolves,' said Attwater. 
' Do you know that to-day, when I came on board, 
I trembled ? ' 

'You concealed it well,' stammered Herrick. 

'A habit of mine,' said Attwater. 'But I was 
afraid, for all that : I was afraid of the two wolves.' 
He raised his hand slowly. 'And now, Hay, you 
poor lost puppy, what do you do with the two 
wolves ? ' 

'What do I do? I don't do anything,' said 
Herrick. 'There is nothing wrong; all is above- 
310 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

board ; Captain Brown is a good soul ; he is a . . . 
he is . . .' The phantom voice of Davis called in 
his ear : * There 's going to be a funeral ' ; and the 
sweat burst forth and streamed on his brow. * He is 
a family man,' he resumed again, swallowing ; ' he 
has children at home — and a wife.' 

' And a very nice man ? ' said Attwater. ' And so 
is Mr. Whish, no doubt ? ' 

* I won't go so far as that,' said Herrick. ' I do 
not like Huish. And yet ... he has his merits 
too.' 

'And, in short, take them for all in all, as good a 
ship's company as one would ask ? ' said Attwater. 

' O yes,' said Herrick, ' quite.' 

' So then, we approach the other point of why you 
despise yourself? ' said Attwater. 

' Do we not all despise ourselves ? ' cried Herrick. 
' Do not you ? ' 

' O, I say I do. But do I ? ' said Attwater. 
' One thing I know at least : I never gave a cry like 
yours. Hay ! it came from a bad conscience ! Ah, 
man, that poor diving-dress of self-conceit is sadly 
tattered ! To-day, if ye will hear my voice. To-day, 
now, while the sun sets, and here in this burying- 
place of brown innocents, fall on your knees and cast 
your sins and sorrows on the Redeemer. Hay ' 

' Not Hay ! ' interrupted the other, strangling. 
' Don't call me that ! I mean . . . For God's sake, 
can't you see I 'm on the rack ? ' 

' I see it, I know it, I put and keep you there ; my 
fingers are on the screws ! ' said Attwater. ' Please 

3 1 * 



THE EBB-TIDE 

God, I will bring a penitent this night before His 
throne. Come, come to the mercy-seat ! He waits 
to be gracious, man — waits to be gracious ! ' 

He spread out his arms like a crucifix ; his face 
shone with the brightness of a seraph's ; in his 
voice, as it rose to the last word, the tears seemed 
ready. 

Herrick made a vigorous call upon himself. 
* Attwater,' he said, 'you push me beyond bearing. 
What am I to do ? I do not believe. It is living 
truth to you ; to me, upon my conscience, only folk- 
lore. I do not believe there is any form of words 
under heaven by which I can lift the burthen from 
my shoulders. I must stagger on to the end with 
the pack of my responsibility ; I cannot shift it ; do 
you suppose I would not if I thought I could ? I 
cannot — cannot — cannot — and let that suffice.' 

The rapture was all gone from Attwater's coun- 
tenance ; the dark apostle had disappeared ; and in 
his place there stood an easy, sneering gentleman, 
who took off his hat and bowed. It was pertly 
done, and the blood burned in Herrick 's face. 

' What do you mean by that ? ' he cried. 

'Well, shall we go back to the house?' said 
Att water. ' Our guests will soon be due.' 

Herrick stood his ground a moment with clenched 
fists and teeth ; and as he so stood, the fact of his 
errand there slowly swung clear in front of him, like 
the moon out of clouds. He had come to lure that 
man on board ; he was failing, even if it could be 
said that he had tried ; he was sure to fail now, and 
312 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

knew it, and knew it was better so. And what was 
to be next ? 

With a groan he turned to follow his host, who 
was standing with polite smile, and instantly and 
somewhat obsequiously led the way in the now 
darkened colonnade of palms. There they went in 
silence, the earth gave up richly of her perfume, the 
air tasted warm and aromatic in the nostrils; and 
from a great way forward in the wood, the brightness 
of lights and fire marked out the house of Attwater. 

Herrick meanwhile resolved and resisted an im- 
mense temptation to go up, to touch him on the 
arm and breathe a word in his ear : ' Beware, they 
are going to murder you.' There would be one life 
saved ; but what of the two others ? The three 
lives went up and down before him like buckets 
in a well, or like the scales of balances. It had 
come to a choice, and one that must be speedy. 
For certain invaluable minutes the wheels of life 
ran before him, and he could still divert them with 
a touch to the one side or the other, still choose who 
was to live and who was to die. He considered the 
men. Attwater intrigued, puzzled, dazzled, en- 
chanted and revolted him ; alive, he seemed but a 
doubtful good ; and the thought of him lying dead 
was so unwelcome that it pursued him, like a vision, 
with every circumstance of colour and sound. In- 
cessantly he had before him the image of that great 
mass of man stricken down in varying attitudes and 
with varying wounds ; fallen prone, fallen supine, 
fallen on his side ; or clinging to a doorpost with 

3i3 



THE EBB-TIDE 

the changing face and the relaxing fingers of the 
death-agony. He heard the click of the trigger, 
the thud of the ball, the cry of the victim ; he saw 
the blood flow. And this building up of circum- 
stance was like a consecration of the man, till he 
seemed to walk in sacrificial fillets. Next he con- 
sidered Davis, with his thick-fingered, coarse-grained, 
oat-bread commonness of nature, his indomitable 
valour and mirth in the old days of their starvation, 
the endearing blend of his faults and virtues, the 
sudden shining forth of a tenderness that lay too 
deep for tears ; his children, Ada and her bowel- 
complaint, and Ada's doll. No, death could not 
be suffered to approach that head even in fancy ; 
with a general heat and a bracing of his muscles, it 
was borne in on Herrick that Ada's father would 
find in him a son to the death. And even Huish 
showed a little in that sacredness ; by the tacit 
adoption of daily life they were become brothers ; 
there was an implied bond of loyalty in their co- 
habitation of the ship and their past miseries, to 
which Herrick must be a little true or wholly dis- 
honoured. Horror of sudden death for horror of 
sudden death, there was here no hesitation possible : 
it must be Attwater. And no sooner was the 
thought formed (which was a sentence) than his 
whole mind of man ran in a panic to the other 
side : and when he looked within himself, he was 
aware only of turbulence and inarticulate outcry. 

In all this there was no thought of Robert Her- 
rick. He had complied with the ebb-tide in man's 
3H 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

affairs, and the tide had carried him away ; he heard 
already the roaring of the maelstrom that must 
hurry him under. And in his bedevilled and dis- 
honoured soul there was no thought of self. 

For how long he walked silent by his companion 
Herrick had no guess. The clouds rolled suddenly 
away ; the orgasm was over ; he found himself 
placid with the placidity of despair ; there returned 
to him the power of commonplace speech ; and he 
heard with surprise his own voice say : ' What a 
lovely evening ! ' 

' Is it not ? ' said Attwater. * Yes, the evenings 
here would be very pleasant if one had anything to 
do. By day, of course, one can shoot.' 

' You shoot ? ' asked Herrick. 

* Yes, I am what you would call a fine shot,' 
said Attwater. ' It is faith ; I believe my balls will 
go true ; if I were to miss once, it would spoil me 
for nine months.' 

* You never miss, then ? ' said Herrick. 

' Not unless I mean to,' said Attwater. * But to 
miss nicely is the art. There was an old king one 
knew in the western islands, who used to empty a 
Winchester all round a man, and stir his hair or 
nick a rag out of his clothes with every ball except 
the last ; and that went plump between the eyes. 
It was pretty practice.' 

* You could do that ? ' asked Herrick, with a 
sudden chill. 

* O, I can do anything,' returned the other. * You 
do not understand: what must be, must.' 

315 



THE EBB-TIDE 

They were now come near to the back part of 
the house. One of the men was engaged about the 
cooking-fire, which burned with the clear, fierce, 
essential radiance of cocoa-nut shells. A fragrance 
of strange meats was in the air. All round in the 
verandahs lamps were lighted, so that the place 
shone abroad in the dusk of the trees with many- 
complicated patterns of shadow. 

' Come and wash your hands,' said Attwater, and 
led the way into a clean, matted room with a cot 
bed, a safe, a shelf or two of books in a glazed case, 
and an iron washing-stand. Presently he cried in 
the native, and there appeared for a moment in the 
doorway a plump and pretty young woman with a 
clean towel. 

' Hullo ! ' cried Herrick, who now saw for the first 
time the fourth survivor of the pestilence, and was 
startled by the recollection of the captain's orders. 

'Yes,' said Attwater, 'the whole colony lives 
about the house, what 's left of it. We are all afraid 
of devils, if you please ! and Taniera and she sleep 
in the front parlour, and the other boy on the 
verandah.' 

' She is pretty,' said Herrick. 

'Too pretty,' said Attwater. 'That was why I 
had her married. A man never knows when he may 
be inclined to be a fool about women ; so when we 
were left alone I had the pair of them to the chapel 
and performed the ceremony. She made a lot of 
fuss. I do not take at all the romantic view of 
marriage,' he explained. 
316 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

' And that strikes you as a safeguard ? ' asked 
Herrick with amazement. 

' Certainly. I am a plain man, and very literal. 
Whom God hath joined together are the words, 
I fancy. So one married them, and respects the 
marriage,' said Attwater. 

* Ah ! ' said Herrick. 

' You see, I may look to make an excellent 
marriage when I go home,' began Attwater con- 
fidentially. ' I am rich. This safe alone ' — laying 
his hand upon it — ' will be a moderate fortune, when 
I have the time to place the pearls upon the market. 
Here are ten years' accumulation from a lagoon, 
where I have had as many as ten divers going all 
day long ; and I went further than people usually 
do in these waters, for I rotted a lot of shell, and 
did splendidly. Would you like to see them ? ' 

This confirmation of the captain's guess hit Her- 
rick hard, and he contained himself with difficulty. 
' No, thank you, I think not,' said he. ' I do not 
care for pearls. I am very indifferent to all 
these . . .' 

■ Gewgaws ? ' suggested Attwater. ' And yet I 
believe you ought to cast an eye on my collection, 
which is really unique, and which — O ! it is the 
case with all of us and everything about us ! — hangs 
by a hair. To-day it groweth up and flourisheth ; 
to-morrow it is cut down and cast into the oven. 
To-day it is here and together in this safe ; to- 
morrow — to-night ! — it may be scattered. Thou 
fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.' 

317 



THE EBB-TIDE 

' I do not understand you,' said Herrick. 

' Not ? ' said Attwater. 

1 You seem to speak in riddles,' said Herrick 
unsteadily. ' I do not understand what manner of 
man you are, nor what you are driving at.' 

Attwater stood with his hands upon his hips, and 
his head bent forward. ' I am a fatalist,' he replied, 
' and just now (if you insist on it) an experimentalist. 
Talking of which, by the by, who painted out the 
schooner's name ? ' he said, with mocking softness, 
' because, do you know ? one thinks it should be 
done again. It can still be partly read ; and what- 
ever is worth doing is surely worth, doing well. 
You think with me ? That is so nice ! Well, shall 
we step on the verandah ? I have a dry sherry that 
I would like your opinion of.' 

Herrick followed him forth to where, under the 
light of the hanging lamps, the table shone with 
napery and crystal ; followed him as the criminal 
goes with the hangman, or the sheep with the 
butcher ; took the sherry mechanically, drank it, and 
spoke mechanical words of praise. The object of 
his terror had become suddenly inverted ; till then 
he had seen Attwater trussed and gagged, a help- 
less victim, and had longed to run in and save 
him ; he saw him now tower up mysterious and 
menacing, the angel of the Lord's wrath, armed with 
knowledge and threatening judgment. He set down 
his glass again, and was surprised to see it empty. 

' You go always armed ? ' he said, and the next 
moment could have plucked his tongue out. 
3i8 



BETTER ACQUAINTANCE 

* Always,' said Attwater. * I have been through 
a mutiny here; that was one of my incidents of 
missionary life.' 

And just then the sound of voices reached them, 
and looking forth from the verandah they saw Huish 
and the captain drawing near. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE DINNER PARTY 

They sat down to an island dinner, remarkable for 
its variety and excellence : turtle-soup and steak, 
fish, fowls, a sucking-pig, a cocoa-nut salad, and 
sprouting cocoa-nut roasted for dessert. Not a tin 
had been opened ; and save for the oil and vinegar 
in the salad, and some green spears of onion which 
Attwater cultivated and plucked with his own hand, 
not even the condiments were European. Sherry, 
hock, and claret succeeded each other, and the 
Farallone champagne brought up the rear with the 
dessert. 

It was plain that, like so many of the extremely 
religious in the days before teetotalism, Attwater 
had a dash of the epicure. For such characters it is 
softening to eat well; doubly so to have designed 
and had prepared an excellent meal for others ; and 
the manners of their host were agreeably mollified 
in consequence. A cat of huge growth sat on his 
shoulder purring, and occasionally, with a deft paw, 

319 



THE EBB-TIDE 

capturing a morsel in the air. To a cat he might be 
likened himself, as he lolled at the head of his table, 
dealing out attentions and innuendos, and using the 
velvet and the claw indifferently. And both Huish 
and the captain fell progressively under the charm 
of his hospitable freedom. 

Over the third guest the incidents of the dinner 
may be said to have passed for long unheeded. 
Herrick accepted all that was offered him, ate and 
drank without tasting, and heard without compre- 
hension. His mind was singly occupied in contem- 
plating the horror of the circumstances in which 
he sat. What Attwater knew, what the captain 
designed, from which side treachery was to be first 
expected, these were the ground of his thoughts. 
There were times when he longed to throw down 
the table and flee into the night. And even that 
was debarred him ; to do anything, to say anything, 
to move at all, were only to precipitate the barbarous 
tragedy ; and he sat spellbound, eating with white 
lips. Two of his companions observed him narrowly, 
Attwater with raking, sidelong glances that did not 
interrupt his talk, the captain with a heavy and 
anxious consideration. 

f 

'Well, I must say this sherry is a really prime 
article,' said Huish. ' 'Ow much does it stand you 
in, if it 's a fair question ? ' 

'A hundred and twelve shillings in London, 
and the freight to Valparaiso, and on again,' said 
Attwater. ' It strikes one as really not a bad fluid.' 

' A 'undred and twelve ! ' murmured the clerk, 
320 



THE DINNER PARTY 

relishing the wine and the figures in a common 
ecstasy : * O my ! ' 

' So glad you like it,' said Attwater. ' Help your- 
self, Mr. Whish, and keep the bottle by you.' 

' My friend's name is Huish, and not Whish, sir,' 
said the captain with a flush. 

' I beg your pardon, I am sure. Huish, and not 
Whish ; certainly,' said Attwater. * I was about to 
say that I have still eight dozen,' he added, fixing 
the captain with his eye. 

'■ Eight dozen what ? ' said Davis. 

* Sherry,' was the reply. 'Eight dozen excellent 
sherry. Why, it seems almost worth it in itself — to 
a man fond of wine. ' 

The ambiguous words struck home to guilty 
consciences, and Huish and the captain sat up in 
their places and regarded him with a scare. 

* Worth what ? ' said Davis. 

' A hundred and twelve shillings,' replied Att- 
water. 

The captain breathed hard for a moment. He 
reached out far and wide to find any coherency in 
these remarks ; then, with a great effort, changed 
the subject. 

* I allow we are about the first white men upon 
this island, sir,' said he. 

Attwater followed him at once, and with entire 
gravity, to the new ground. ' Myself and Dr. 
Symonds excepted, I should say the only ones,' he 
returned. * And yet who can tell ? In the course 
of the ages some one may have lived here, and we 
19— x 321 



THE EBB-TIDE 

sometimes think that some one must. The cocoa- 
palms grow all round the island, which is scarce like 
nature's planting. We found besides, when we 
landed, an unmistakable cairn upon the beach ; use 
unknown ; but probably erected in the hope of 
gratifying some mumbo-jumbo whose very name 
is forgotten, by some thick-witted gentry whose 
very bones are lost. Then the island (witness the 
Directory) has been twice reported ; and since my 
tenancy, we have had two wrecks, both derelict. 
The rest is conjecture.' 

'Dr. Symonds is your partner, I guess?' said 
Davis. 

' A dear fellow, Symonds ! How he would regret 
it, if he knew you had been here ! ' said Attwater. 

"E's on the Trinity 'All, ain't he?' asked 
Huish. 

' And if you could tell me where the Trinity 'All 
was, you would confer a favour, Mr. Whish ! ' was 
the reply. 

* I suppose she has a native crew ? ' said Davis. 

' Since the secret has been kept ten years, one 
would suppose she had,' replied Attwater. 

' Well, now, see 'ere ! ' said Huish. * You have 
everythink about you in no end style, and no 
mistake, but I tell you it wouldn't do for me. Too 
much of " the old rustic bridge by the mill " ; too 
retired by 'alf. Give me the sound of Bow Bells ! ' 

* You must not think it was always so,' replied 
Attwater. ' This was once a busy shore, although 
now, hark! you can hear the solitude, I find it 

322 



THE DINNER PARTY 

stimulating. And talking of the sound of bells, 
kindly follow a little experiment of mine in silence.' 
There was a silver bell at his right hand to call the 
servants ; he made them a sign to stand still, struck 
the bell with force, and leaned eagerly forward. The 
note rose clear and strong ; it rang out clear and 
far into the night and over the deserted island ; it 
died into the distance until there only lingered in the 
porches of the ear a vibration that was sound no 
longer. * Empty houses, empty sea, solitary beaches ! ' 
said Attwater. ' And yet God hears the bell ! 
And yet we sit in this verandah on a lighted stage 
with all heaven for spectators ! And you call that 
solitude ? ' 

There followed a bar of silence, during which the 
captain sat mesmerised. 

Then Attwater laughed softly. ' These are the 
diversions of a lonely man,' he resumed, * and pos- 
sibly not in good taste. One tells oneself these 
little fairy tales for company. If there should happen 
to be anything in folk-lore, Mr. Hay ? But here 
comes the claret. One does not offer you Lafitte, 
captain, because I believe it is all sold to the rail- 
road dining-cars in your great country ; but this 
Brane-Mouton is of a good year, and Mr. Whish will 
give me news of it.' 

' That 's a queer idea of yours ! ' cried the captain, 
bursting with a sigh from the spell that had bound 
him. ' So you mean to tell me now, that you sit 
here evenings and ring up . . . well, ring on the 
angels . . . by yourself?' 

323 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* As a matter of historic fact, and since you put 
it directly, one does not,' said Attwater. 'Why 
ring a bell, when there flows out from oneself and 
everything about one a far more momentous silence ? 
the least beat of my heart and the least thought in 
my mind echoing into eternity for ever and for ever 
and for ever.' 

' O look 'ere,' said Huish, ' turn down the lights 
at once, and the Band of 'Ope will oblige ! This 
ain't a spiritual stance.' 

' No folk-lore about Mr. Whish — I beg your 
pardon, captain : Huish, not Whish, of course,' said 
Attwater. 

As the boy was filling Huish 's glass, the bottle 
escaped from his hand and was shattered, and the 
wine spilt on the verandah floor. Instant grimness 
as of death appeared in the face of Attwater ; he 
smote the bell imperiously, and the two brown 
natives fell into the attitude of attention and stood 
mute and trembling. There was just a moment of 
silence and hard looks ; then followed a few savage 
words in the native ; and, upon a gesture of dismissal, 
the service proceeded as before. 

None of the party had as yet observed upon the 
excellent bearing of the two men. They were dark, 
undersized, and well set up ; stepped softly, waited 
deftly, brought on the wines and dishes at a look, 
and their eyes attended studiously on their master. 

' Where do you get your labour from anyway ? ' 
asked Davis. 

■ Ah, where not ? ' answered Attwater. 
324 



THE DINNER PARTY 

* Not much of a soft job, I suppose ? ' said the 
captain. 

* If you will tell me where getting labour is ! ' 
said Att water, with a shrug. ' And of course, in 
our case, as we could name no destination, we had 
to go far and wide and do the best we could. We 
have gone as far west as the Kingsmills and as far 
south as Rapa-iti. Pity Symonds isn't here ! He 
is full of yarns. That was his part, to collect them. 
Then began mine, which was the educational.' 

* You mean to run them ? ' said Davis. 
' Ay ! to run them,' said Attwater. 

' Wait a bit,' said Davis, ' I 'm out of my depth. 
How was this? Do you mean to say you did it 
single-handed ? ' 

* One did it single-handed,' said Attwater, ' because 
there was nobody to help one.' 

' By God, but you must be a holy terror ! ' cried 
the captain, in a glow of admiration. 

* One does one's best,' said Attwater. 

* Well, now ! ' said Davis, ' I have seen a lot of 
driving in my time, and been counted a good driver 
myself; I fought my way, third mate, round the 
Cape Horn with a push of packet-rats that would 
have turned the devil out of hell and shut the door 
on him ; and I tell you, this racket of Mr. Att- 
water's takes the cake. In a ship, why, there ain't 
nothing to it ! You 've got the law with you, that 's 
what does it. But put me down on this blame' 
beach alone, with nothing but a whip and a mouth- 
ful of bad words, and ask me to . . . no, sir ! it 's 

325 



THE EBB-TIDE 

not good enough ! I haven't got the sand for that ! ' 
cried Davis. ' It s the law behind, 5 he added ; ' it 's 
the law does it, every time ! ' 

'The beak ain't as black as he's sometimes pynted,' 
observed Huish humorously. 

'Well, one got the law after a fashion,' said 
Attwater. ' One had to be a number of things. It 
was sometimes rather a bore.' 

' I should smile ! ' said Davis. "Rather lively, I 
should think ! ' 

'I daresay we mean the same thing,' said Att- 
water. 'However, one way or another, one got it 
knocked into their heads that they must work, and 
they did . . . until the Lord took them ! ' 

' 'Ope you made 'em jump,' said Huish. 

' When it was necessary, Mr. Whish, I made 
them jump,' said Attwater. 

' You bet you did,' cried the captain. He was a 
good deal flushed, but not so much with wine as 
admiration ; and his eyes drank in the huge pro- 
portions of the other with delight. 'You bet you 
did, and you bet that I can see you doing it ! By 
God, you 're a man, and you can say I said so.' 

' Too good of you, I 'm sure,' said Attwater. 

' Did you — did you ever have crime here ? ' 
asked Herrick, breaking his silence with a pungent 
voice. 

'Yes,' said Attwater, 'we did.' 

'And how did you handle that, sir?' cried the 
eager captain. 

'Well, you see, it was a queer case,' replied 
326 



THE DINNER PARTY 

Attwater. * It was a case that would have puzzled 
Solomon. Shall I tell it you ? yes ? ' 

The captain rapturously accepted. 

* Well,' drawled Attwater, ' here is what it was. 
I daresay you know two types of natives, which may 
be called the obsequious and the sullen? Well, 
one had them, the types themselves, detected in the 
fact ; and one had them together. Obsequiousness 
ran out of the first like wine out of a bottle, sullen- 
ness congested in the second. Obsequiousness was 
all smiles ; he ran to catch your eye, he loved to 
gabble ; and he had about a dozen words of beach 
English, and an eighth-of-an-inch veneer of Chris- 
tianity. Sullens was industrious ; a big down-looking 
bee. When he was spoken to, he answered with a 
black look and a shrug of one shoulder, but the 
thing would be done. I don't give him to you for 
a model of manners ; there was nothing showy about 
Sullens ; but he was strong and steady, and un- 
graciously obedient. Now Sullens got into trouble ; 
no matter how ; the regulations of the place were 
broken, and he was punished accordingly — without 
effect. So, the next day, and the next, and the 
day after, till I began to be weary of the business, 
and Sullens (I am afraid) particularly so. There 
came a day when he was in fault again, for the — O 
perhaps the thirtieth time ; and he rolled a dull eye 
upon me, with a spark in it, and appeared to speak. 
Now the regulations of the place are formal upon 
one point : we allow no explanations ; none are 
received, none allowed to be offered. So one stopped 

327 



THE EBB-TIDE 

him instantly, but made a note of the circumstance. 
The next day he was gone from the settlement. 
There could be nothing more annoying; if the 
labour took to running away, the fishery was 
wrecked. There are sixty miles of this island, 
you see, all in length like the Queen's highway ; 
the idea of pursuit in such a place was a piece of 
single-minded childishness, which one did not enter- 
tain. Two days later, I made a discovery ; it came 
in upon me with a flash that Sullens had been 
unjustly punished from beginning to end, and the 
real culprit throughout had been Obsequiousness. 
The native who talks, like the woman who hesitates, 
is lost. You set him talking and lying; and he 
talks, and lies, and watches your face to see if he has 
pleased you ; till, at last, out comes the truth ! It 
came out of Obsequiousness in the regular course. 
I said nothing to him ; I dismissed him ; and late as 
it was, for it was already night, set off to look for 
Sullens. I had not far to go : about two hundred 
yards up the island the moon showed him to me. 
He was hanging in a cocoa-palm — I 'm not botanist 
enough to tell you how — but it 's the way, in nine 
cases out of ten, these natives commit suicide. His 
tongue was out, poor devil, and the birds had got 
at him ; I spare you details : he was an ugly sight ! 
I gave the business six good hours of thinking in 
this verandah. My justice had been made a fool of; 
I don't suppose that I was ever angrier. Next day 
I had the conch sounded and all hands out before 
sunrise. One took one's gun, and led the way, with 
328 



THE DINNER PARTY 

Obsequiousness. He was very talkative ; the beggar 
supposed that all was right now he had confessed ; 
in the old schoolboy phrase, he was plainly * sucking 
up ' to me ; full of protestations of good-will and 
good behaviour ; to which one answered one really 
can't remember what. Presently the tree came in 
sight, and the hanged man. They all burst out 
lamenting for their comrade in the island way, and 
Obsequiousness was the loudest of the mourners. 
He was quite genuine ; a noxious creature without 
any consciousness of guilt. Well, presently — to 
make a long story short — one told him to go up the 
tree. He stared a bit, looked at one with a trouble 
in his eye, and had rather a sickly smile ; but went. 
He was obedient to the last ; he had all the pretty 
virtues, but the truth was not in him. So soon as 
he was up he looked down, and there was the rifle 
covering him ; and at that he gave a whimper like 
a dog. You could hear a pin drop ; no more keening 
now. There they all crouched upon the ground, 
with bulging eyes ; there was he in the tree- top, 
the colour of lead ; and between was the dead man, 
dancing a bit in the air. He was obedient to the 
last, recited his crime, recommended his soul to God. 
And then . . .' 

Attwater paused, and Herrick, who had been 
listening attentively, made a convulsive movement 
which upset his glass. 

' And then ? ' said the breathless captain. 

* Shot,' said Attwater. * They came to the ground 
together. ' 

329 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Herrick sprang to his feet with a shriek and an 
insensate gesture. 

* It was a murder ! ' he screamed, * a cold-hearted, 
bloody-minded murder! You monstrous being! 
Murderer and hypocrite — murderer and hypocrite — 

murderer and hypocrite ' he repeated, and his 

tongue stumbled among the words. 

The captain was by him in a moment. 'Herrick!' 
he cried, ' behave yourself ! Here, don't be a blame' 
fool ! ' 

Herrick struggled in his embrace like a frantic 
child, and suddenly bowing his face in his hands, 
choked into a sob, the first of many, which now 
convulsed his body silently, and now jerked from 
him indescribable and meaningless sounds. 

'Your friend appears over-excited,' remarked 
Attwater, sitting unmoved but all alert at table. 

' It must be the wine,' replied the captain. ' He 
ain't no drinking man, you see. I — I think I 'll 
take him away. A walk '11 sober him up, I guess.' 

He led him without resistance out of the verandah 
and into the night, in which they soon melted ; but 
still for some time, as they drew away, his com- 
fortable voice was to be heard soothing and remon- 
strating, and Herrick answering, at intervals, with 
the mechanical noises of hysteria. 

1 'E 's like a bloomin' poultry-yard ! ' observed 
Huish, helping himself to wine (of which he spilled 
a good deal) with gentlemanly ease. 'A man should 
learn to beyave at table,' he added. 

'Rather bad form, is it not?' said Attwater. 

330 



THE DINNER PARTY 

' Well, well, we are left tete-a-tete. A glass of wine 
with you, Mr. Whish ! ' 



CHAPTER X 

THE OPEN DOOR 

The captain and Herrick meanwhile turned their 
back upon the lights in Attwater's verandah, and 
took a direction towards the pier and the beach of 
the lagoon. 

The isle, at this hour, with its smooth floor of 
sand, the pillared roof overhead, and the prevalent 
illumination of the lamps, wore an air of unreality 
like a deserted theatre or a public garden at mid- 
night. A man looked about him for the statues 
and tables. Not the least air of wind was stirring 
among the palms, and the silence was emphasised 
by the continuous clamour of the surf from the 
seashore, as it might be of traffic in the next street. 

Still talking, still soothing him, the captain hurried 
his patient on, brought him at last to the lagoon 
side, and leading him down the beach, laved his 
head and face with the tepid water. The paroxysm 
gradually subsided, the sobs became less convulsive, 
and then ceased ; by an odd but not quite unnatural 
conjunction, the captain's soothing current of talk 
died away at the same time and by proportional 
steps, and the pair remained sunk in silence. The 
lagoon broke at their feet in petty wavelets, and 

33* 



THE EBB-TIDE 

with a sound as delicate as a whisper ; stars of all 
degrees looked down on their own images in that 
vast mirror; and the more angry colour of the 
Farallones riding lamp burned in the middle dis- 
tance. For long they continued to gaze on the 
scene before them, and hearken anxiously to the 
rustle and tinkle of that miniature surf, or the more 
distant and loud reverberations from the outer coast. 
For long speech was denied them ; and when the 
words came at last, they came to both simul- 
taneously. 

'Say, Herrick . . .' the captain was beginning. 

But Herrick, turning swiftly towards his com- 
panion, bent him down with the eager cry : ' Let 's 
up anchor, captain, and to sea ! ' 

' Where to, my son ? ' said the captain. * Up 
anchor 's easy saying. But where to ? ' 

' To sea,' responded Herrick. ' The sea 's big 
enough ! To sea — away from this dreadful island, 
and that, O ! that sinister man ! ' 

'O, we'll see about that,' said Davis. 'You 
brace up, and we '11 see about that. You 're all run 
down, that 's what 's wrong with you ; you 're all 
nerves, like Jemimar ; you 've got to brace up good 
and be yourself again, and then we '11 talk.' 

'To sea,' reiterated Herrick, 'to sea to-night — 
now — this moment ! ' 

'It can't be, my son,' replied the captain firmly. 
' No ship of mine puts to sea without provisions ; 
you can take that for settled.' 

'You don't seem to understand,' said Herrick. 
332 



THE OPEN DOOR 

'The whole thing is over, I tell you. There is 
nothing to do here, when he knows all. That man 
there with the cat knows all ; can't you take it in ? ' 

' All what ? ' asked the captain, visibly discom- 
posed. ' Why, he received us like a perfect gentle- 
man and treated us real handsome, until you began 
with your foolery — and I must say I seen men shot 
for less, and nobody sorry ! What more do you 
expect anyway ? ' 

Herrick rocked to and fro upon the sand, shaking 
his head. 

'Guying us,' he said; 'he was guying us — only 
guying us ; it's all we're good for.' 

' There was one queer thing, to be sure,' admitted 
the captain, with a misgiving of the voice ; ' that 
about the sherry. Damned if I caught on to that. 
Say, Herrick, you didn't give me away ? ' 

' O ! give you away ! ' repeated Herrick with 
weary, querulous scorn. 'What was there to give 
away? We're transparent ; we've got rascal branded 
on us : detected rascal — detected rascal ! Why, be- 
fore he came on board, there was the name painted 
out, and he saw the whole thing. He made sure we 
would kill him there and then, and stood guying you 
and Huish on the chance. He calls that being 
frightened ! Next he had me ashore ; a fine time I 
had! The two wolves, he calls you and Huish. 
What is the puppy doing with the two wolves? he 
asked. He showed me his pearls ; he said they 
might be dispersed before morning, and all hung by 
a hair — and smiled as he said it, such a smile ! O, 

333 



THE EBB-TIDE 

it 's no use, I tell you ! He knows all, he sees 
through all ; we only make him laugh with our 
pretences — he looks at us and laughs like God ! ' 

There was a silence. Davis stood with contorted 
brows, gazing into the night. 

' The pearls ? ' he said suddenly. * He showed 
them to you ? he has them ? ' 

* No, he didn't show them ; I forgot : only the safe 
they were in,' said Herrick. ' But you '11 never get 
them ! ' 

' I 've two words to say to that,' said the captain. 

'Do you think he would have been so easy at 
table, unless he was prepared?' cried Herrick. 'The 
servants were both armed. He was armed himself; 
he always is ; he told me. You will never deceive 
his vigilance. Davis, I know it ! It's all up, I tell 
you, and keep telling you and proving it. All up ; 
all up. There's nothing for it, there's nothing to 
be done : all gone : life, honour, love. O my God, 
my God, why was I born ? ' 

Another pause followed upon this outburst. 

The captain put his hands to his brow. 

' Another thing ! ' he broke out. * Why did he 
tell you all this ? Seems like madness to me ! ' 

Herrick shook his head with gloomy iteration. 
'You wouldn't understand if I were to tell you,' 
said he. 

' I guess I can understand any blame' thing that 
you can tell me,' said the captain. 

' Well, then, he 's a fatalist,' said Herrick. 

' What 's that ? a fatalist ? ' said Davis. 
334 



THE OPEN DOOR 

6 O, it 's a fellow that believes a lot of things,' said 
Herrick ; * believes that his bullets go true ; believes 
that all falls out as God chooses, do as you like to 
prevent it ; and all that.' 

'Why, I guess I believe right so myself,' said 
Davis. 

* You do ? ' said Herrick. 

' You bet I do ! ' says Davis. 

Herrick shrugged his shoulders. ' Well, you must 
be a fool,' said he, and he leaned his head upon his 
knees. 

The captain stood biting his hands. 

' There 's one thing sure,' he said at last. ' I must 
get Huish out of that. He 's not fit to hold his end 
up with a man like you describe.' 

And he turned to go away. The words had been 
quite simple ; not so the tone ; and the other was 
quick to catch it. 

' Davis ! ' he cried, * no ! Don't do it. Spare me, 
and don't do it — spare yourself, and leave it alone — 
for God's sake, for your children's sake ! ' 

His voice rose to a passionate shrillness ; another 
moment, and he might be overheard by their not 
distant victim. But Davis turned on him with a 
savage oath and gesture; and the miserable young 
man rolled over on his face on the sand, and lay 
speechless and helpless. 

The captain meanwhile set out rapidly for Att- 
water's house. As he went, he considered with 
himself eagerly, his thoughts racing. The man had 
understood, he had mocked them from the begin- 

335 



THE EBB-TIDE 

ning ; he would teach him to make a mockery of 
John Davis ! Herrick thought him a god ; give him 
a second to aim in, and the god was overthrown. 
He chuckled as he felt the butt of his revolver. It 
should be done now, as he went in. From behind ? 
It was difficult to get there. From across the table ? 
No, the captain preferred to shoot standing, so as 
you could be sure to get your hand upon your gun. 
The best would be to summon Huish, and when 
Attwater stood up and turned — ah, then would be 
the moment. Wrapped in this ardent prefiguration 
of events, the captain posted towards the house with 
his head down. 

' Hands up ! Halt ! ' cried the voice of Attwater. 

And the captain, before he knew what he was 
doing, had obeyed. The surprise was complete and 
irremediable. Coming on the top crest of his 
murderous intentions, he had walked straight into 
an ambuscade, and now stood, with his hands im- 
potently lifted, staring at the verandah. 

The party was now broken up. Attwater leaned 
on a post, and kept Davis covered with a Win- 
chester. One of the servants was hard by with a 
second at the port arms, leaning a little forward, 
round-eyed with eager expectancy. In the open 
space at the head of the stair, Huish was partly 
supported by the other native ; his face wreathed in 
meaningless smiles, his mind seemingly sunk in the 
contemplation of an unlighted cigar. 

* Well,' said Attwater, * you seem to me to be a 
very twopenny pirate ! ' 
336 



THE OPEN DOOR 

The captain uttered a sound in his throat for 
which we have no name ; rage choked him. 

' I am going to give you Mr. Whish — or the wine- 
sop that remains of him,' continued Attwater. ' He 
talks a great deal when he drinks, Captain Davis of 
the Sea Ranger. But I have quite done with him 
— and return the article with thanks. Now,' he 
cried sharply ; ' another false movement like that, 
and your family will have to deplore the loss of an 
invaluable parent; keep strictly still, Davis.' 

Attwater said a word in the native, his eye still 
undeviatingly fixed on the captain ; and the servant 
thrust Huish smartly forward from the brink of the 
stair. With an extraordinary simultaneous disper- 
sion of his members, that gentleman bounded forth 
into space, struck the earth, ricocheted, and brought 
up with his arms about a palm. His mind was quite 
a stranger to these events ; the expression of anguish 
that deformed his countenance at the moment of the 
leap was probably mechanical ; and he suffered these 
convulsions in silence; clung to the tree like an 
infant ; and seemed, by his dips, to suppose himself 
engaged in the pastime of bobbing for apples. A 
more finely sympathetic mind or a more observant 
eye might have remarked, a little in front of him on 
the sand, and still quite beyond reach, the unlighted 
cigar. 

6 There is your Whitechapel carrion ! ' said Att- 
water. 'And now you might very well ask me why I 
do not put a period to you at once, as you deserve. 
I will tell you why, Davis. It is because I have 
19— y 337 



THE EBB-TIDE 

nothing to do with the Sea Ranger and the people 
you drowned, or the Farallone and the champagne 
that you stole. That is your account with God ; 
He keeps it, and He will settle it when the clock 
strikes. In my own case, I have nothing to go on 
but suspicion, and I do not kill on suspicion, not 
even vermin like you. But understand : if ever I 
see any of you again it is another matter, and you 
shall eat a bullet. And now take yourself off. 
March ! and as you value what you call your life, 
keep your hands up as you go ! ' 

The captain remained as he was, his hands up, 
his mouth open : mesmerised with fury. 

* March ! ' said Attwater. ( One — two — three ! ' 

And Davis turned and passed slowly away. But 
even as he went, he was meditating a prompt, 
offensive return. In the twinkling of an eye he 
had leaped behind a tree ; and was crouching there, 
pistol in hand, peering from either side of his place 
of ambush with bared teeth ; a serpent already poised 
to strike. And already he was too late. Attwater 
and his servants had disappeared ; and only the 
lamps shone on the deserted table and the bright 
sand about the house, and threw into the night in 
all directions the strong and tall shadows of the 
palms. 

Davis ground his teeth. Where were they gone, 
the cowards? to what hole had they retreated 
beyond reach ? It was in vain he should try any- 
thing, he, single and with a second-hand revolver, 
against three persons, armed with Winchesters, and 
338 



THE OPEN DOOR 

who did not show an ear out of any of the apertures 
of that lighted and silent house? Some of them 
might have already ducked below it from the rear, 
and be drawing a bead upon him at that moment 
from the low-browed crypt, the receptacle of empty 
bottles and broken crockery. No, there was nothing 
to be done but to bring away (if it were still 
possible) his shattered and demoralised forces. 

'Huish,' he said, ' come along.' 

' 'S lose my ciga',' said Huish, reaching vaguely 
forward. 

The captain let out a rasping oath. ' Come right 
along here,' said he. 

"S all righ'. Sleep here 'th Atty-Attwa. Go 
boar' t'morr',' replied the festive one. 

6 If you don't come, and come now, by the living 
God I '11 shoot you ! ' cried the captain. 

It is not to be supposed that the sense of these 
words in any way penetrated to the mind of Huish ; 
rather that, in a fresh attempt upon the cigar, he 
overbalanced himself and came flying erratically 
forward : a course which brought him within reach 
of Davis. 

' Now you walk straight,' said the captain, clutch- 
ing him, l or I '11 know why not ! ' 

- 'S lose my ciga',' replied Huish. 

The captain's contained fury blazed up for a 
moment. He twisted Huish round, grasped him 
by the neck of the coat, ran him in front of him to 
the pier-end, and flung him savagely forward on his 
face. 

339 



THE EBB-TIDE 

■ Look for your cigar then, you swine ! ' said he, 
and blew his boat-call till the pea in it ceased to 
rattle. 

An immediate activity responded on board the 
Farallone; far-away voices, and soon the sound of 
oars, floated along the surface of the lagoon ; and at 
the same time, from nearer hand, Herrick aroused 
himself and strolled languidly up. He bent over 
the insignificant figure of Huish, where it grovelled, 
apparently insensible, at the base of the figure-head. 

' Dead ? ' he asked. 

' No, he 's not dead,' said Davis. 

* And Attwater ? ' asked Herrick. 

' Now you just shut your head ! ' replied Davis. 
' You can do that, I fancy, and by God, I '11 show 
you how ! I '11 stand no more of your drivel.' 

They waited accordingly in silence till the boat 
bumped on the furthest piers ; then raised Huish, 
head and heels, carried him down the gangway, and 
flung him summarily in the bottom. On the way 
out he was heard murmuring of the loss of his cigar ; 
and after he had been handed up the side like 
baggage, and cast down in the alleyway to slumber, 
his last audible expression was : ' Splen'l fl' Attwa' ! ' 
This the expert construed into * Splendid fellow, 
Attwater ' ; with so much innocence had this great 
spirit issued from the adventures of the evening. 

The captain went and walked in the waist with 
brief irate turns ; Herrick leaned his arms on the 
tafFrail ; the crew had all turned in. The ship had 
a gentle, cradling motion ; at times a block piped 

340 



THE OPEN DOOR 

like a bird. On shore, through the colonnade of 
palm stems, Attwater's house was to be seen shining 
steadily with many lamps. And there was nothing 
else visible, whether in the heaven above or in the 
lagoon below, but the stars and their reflections. It 
might have been minutes, or it might have been 
hours, that Herrick leaned there, looking in the 
glorified water and drinking peace. 'A bath of 
stars,' he was thinking ; when a hand was laid at last 
on his shoulder. 

' Herrick/ said the captain, ' I 've been walking 
off my trouble.' 

A sharp jar passed through the young man, but 
he neither answered nor so much as turned his head. 

' I guess I spoke a little rough to you on shore,' 
pursued the captain ; ' the fact is, I was real mad ; 
but now it 's over, and you and me have to turn to 
and think.' 

* I will not think,' said Herrick. 

* Here, old man ! ' said Davis kindly ; '■ this won't 
fight, you know ! You 've got to brace up and help 
me get things straight. You 're not going back on 
a friend ? That 's not like you, Herrick ! ' 

* O yes, it is,' said Herrick. 

' Come, come ! ' said the captain, and paused as if 
quite at a loss. ' Look here,' he cried, * you have a 
glass of champagne. / won't touch it, so that 11 show 
you if I 'm in earnest. But it 's just the pick-me-up 
for you ; it '11 put an edge on you at once.' 

' O, you leave me alone ! ' said Herrick, and turned 
away. 

341 



THE EBB-TIDE 

The captain caught him by the sleeve; and he 
shook him off and turned on him, for the moment, 
like a demoniac. 

* Go to hell in your own way ! ' he cried. 

And he turned away again, this time unchecked, 
and stepped forward to where the boat rocked along- 
side and ground occasionally against the schooner. 
He looked about him. A corner of the house was 
interposed between the captain and himself ; all was 
well ; no eye must see him in that last act. He slid 
silently into the boat ; thence, silently, into the 
starry water. Instinctively he swam a little ; it 
would be time enough to stop by and by. 

The shock of the immersion brightened his mind 
immediately. The events of the ignoble day passed 
before him in a frieze of pictures, and he thanked 
* whatever Gods there be' for that open door of 
suicide. In such a little while he would be done 
with it, the random business at an end, the prodigal 
son come home. A very bright planet shone before 
him and drew a trenchant wake along the water. 
He took that for his line and followed it. That was 
the last earthly thing that he should look upon ; 
that radiant speck, which he had soon magnified 
into a City of Laputa, along whose terraces there 
walked men and women of awful and benignant 
features, who viewed him with distant commisera- 
tion. These imaginary spectators consoled him ; he 
told himself their talk, one to another ; it was of 
himself and his sad destiny. 

From such flights of fancy he was aroused by the 
342 



THE OPEN DOOR 

growing coldness of the water. Why should he 
delay ? Here, where he was now, let him drop the 
curtain, let him seek the ineffable refuge, let him lie 
down with all races and generations of men in the 
house of sleep. It was easy to say, easy to do. To 
stop swimming : there was no mystery in that, if he 
could do it. Could he? And he could not. He 
knew it instantly. He was aware instantly of an 
opposition in his members, unanimous and in- 
vincible, clinging to life with a single and fixed 
resolve, finger by finger, sinew by sinew ; something 
that was at once he and not he — at once within and 
without him ; the shutting of some miniature valve 
in his brain, which a single manly thought should 
suffice to open — and the grasp of an external fate 
ineluctable as gravity. To any man there may 
come at times a consciousness that there blows, 
through all the articulations of his body, the wind of 
a spirit not wholly his ; that his mind rebels ; that 
another girds him and carries him whither he would 
not. It came now to Herrick, with the authority 
of a revelation. There was no escape possible. 
The open door was closed in his recreant face. 
He must go back into the world and amongst men 
without illusion. He must stagger on to the end 
with the pack of his responsibility and his disgrace, 
until a cold, a blow, a merciful chance ball, or the 
more merciful hangman, should dismiss him from 
his infamy. There were men who could commit 
suicide ; there were men who could not ; and he 
was one who could not. 

343 



THE EBB-TIDE 

For perhaps a minute there raged in his mind 
the coil of this discovery ; then cheerless certitude 
followed ; and, with an incredible simplicity of sub- 
mission to ascertained fact, he turned round and 
struck out for shore. There was a courage in this 
which he could not appreciate ; the ignobility of his 
cowardice wholly occupying him. A strong current 
set against him like a wind in his face ; he contended 
with it heavily, wearily, without enthusiasm, but 
with substantial advantage; marking his progress 
the while, without pleasure, by the outline of the 
trees. Once he had a moment of hope. He heard 
to the southward of him, towards the centre of the 
lagoon, the wallowing of some great fish, doubtless 
a shark, and paused for a little, treading water. 
Might not this be the hangman ? he thought. But 
the wallowing died away ; mere silence succeeded ; 
and Herrick pushed on again for the shore, raging 
as he went at his own nature. Ay, he would wait 
for the shark ; but if he had heard him coming ! . . . 
His smile was tragic. He could have spat upon 
himself. 

About three in the morning, chance, and the set 
of the current, and the bias of his own right-handed 
body, so decided it between them that he came to 
shore upon the beach in front of Attwater's. There 
he sat down, and looked forth into a world without 
any of the lights of hope. The poor diving-dress 
of self-conceit was sadly tattered ! With the fairy 
tale of suicide, of a refuge always open to him, he 
had hitherto beguiled and supported himself in the 

344 



THE OPEN DOOR 

trials of life ; and behold ! that also was only a fairy 
tale, that also was folk-lore. With the consequences 
of his acts he saw himself implacably confronted for 
the duration of life : stretched upon a cross, and 
nailed there with the iron bolts of his own cowardice. 
He had no tears ; he told himself no stories. His 
disgust with himself was so complete, that even 
the process of apologetic mythology had ceased. 
He was like a man cast down from a pillar, and 
every bone broken. He lay there, and admitted the 
facts, and did not attempt to rise. 

Dawn began to break over the far side of the 
atoll, the sky brightened, the clouds became dyed 
with gorgeous colours, the shadows of the night 
lifted. And, suddenly, Herrick was aware that the 
lagoon and the trees wore again their daylight 
livery ; and he saw, on board the Farallone, Davis 
extinguishing the lantern, and smoke rising from 
the galley. 

Davis, without doubt, remarked and recognised 
the figure on the beach ; or perhaps hesitated to 
recognise it ; for after he had gazed a long while 
from under his hand, he went into the house and 
fetched a glass. It was very powerful ; Herrick 
had often used it. With an instinct of shame, he 
hid his face in his hands. 

* And what brings you here, Mr. Herrick-Hay, or 
Mr. Hay-Herrick ? ' asked the voice of Attwater. 
* Your back view from my present position is re- 
markably fine, and I would continue to present it. 
We can get on very nicely as we are, and if you 

345 



THE EBB-TIDE 

were to turn round, do you know ? I think it would 
be awkward.' 

Herrick slowly rose to his feet ; his heart throbbed 
hard, a hideous excitement shook him, but he was 
master of himself. Slowly he turned, and faced 
Attwater and the muzzle of a pointed rifle. ' Why 
could I not do that last night ? ' he thought. 

' Well, why don't you fire ? ' he said aloud, with 
a voice that trembled. 

Attwater slowly put his gun under his arm, then 
his hands in his pockets. 

* What brings you here ? ' he repeated. 

'I don't know,' said Herrick; and then, with a 
cry : ' Can you do anything with me ? ' 

* Are you armed ? ' said Attwater. * I ask for the 
form's sake.' 

' Armed ? No ! ' said Herrick. ' O yes, I am, 
too!' 

And he flung upon the beach a dripping pistol. 

' You are wet,' said Attwater. 

' Yes, I am wet,' said Herrick. ' Can you do any- 
thing with me ? ' 

Attwater read his face attentively. 

' It would depend a good deal upon what you 
are,' said he. 

' What I am ? A coward ! ' said Herrick. 

* There is very little to be done with that,' said 
Attwater. * And yet the description hardly strikes 
one as exhaustive.' 

' O, what does it matter ? ' cried Herrick. ' Here 
I am. I am broken crockery ; I am a burst drum ; 
346 



THE OPEN DOOR 

the whole of my life is gone to water ; I have 
nothing left that I believe in, except my living 
horror of myself. Why do I come to you ? I don't 
know ; you are cold, cruel, hateful ; and I hate you, 
or I think I hate you. But you are an honest man, 
an honest gentleman. I put myself, helpless, in 
your hands. What must I do ? If I can't do any- 
thing, be merciful and put a bullet through me ; 
it 's only a puppy with a broken leg ! ' 

' If I were you, I would pick up that pistol, come 
up to the house, and put on some dry clothes,' said 
Attwater. 

' If you really mean it ? ' said Herrick. * You 
know they — we — they . . . But you know all.' 

* I know quite enough,' said Attwater. ' Come 
up to the house.' 

And the captain, from the deck of the Farallone, 
saw the two men pass together under the shadow of 
the grove. 



CHAPTER XI 

DAVID AND GOLIATH 

Huish had bundled himself up from the glare of 
the day — his face to the house, his knees retracted. 
The frail bones in the thin tropical raiment seemed 
scarce more considerable than a fowl's ; and Davis, 
sitting on the rail with his arm about a stay, con- 
templated him with gloom, wondering what manner 

347 



THE EBB-TIDE 

of counsel that insignificant figure should contain. 
For since Herrick had thrown him off and deserted 
to the enemy, Huish, alone of mankind, remained to 
him to be a helper and oracle. 

He considered their position with a sinking heart. 
The ship was a stolen ship ; the stores, whether 
from initial carelessness or ill administration during 
the voyage, were insufficient to carry them to any 
port except back to Papeete ; and there retribution 
waited in the shape of a gendarme, a judge with a 
queer-shaped hat, and the horror of distant Noumea. 
Upon that side there was no glimmer of hope. 
Here, at the island, the dragon was roused ; Att- 
water with his men and his Winchesters watched 
and patrolled the house ; let him who dare approach 
it. What else was then left but to sit there, in- 
active, pacing the decks, until the Trinity Hall 
arrived, and they were cast into irons, or until the 
food came to an end, and the pangs of famine 
succeeded ? For the Trinity Hall Davis was pre- 
pared ; he would barricade the house, and die there 
defending it, like a rat in a crevice. But for the 
other ? The cruise of the Farallone, into which he 
had plunged, only a fortnight before, with such 
golden expectations, could this be the nightmare 
end of it ? The ship rotting at anchor, the crew 
stumbling and dying in the scuppers? It seemed 
as if any extreme of hazard were to be preferred to 
so grisly a certainty ; as if it would be better to up 
anchor after all, put to sea at a venture, and, perhaps, 
perish at the hands of cannibals on one of the more 
348 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

obscure Paumotus. His eye roved swiftly over sea 
and sky in quest of any promise of wind, but the 
fountains of the Trade were empty. Where it had 
run yesterday and for weeks before, a roaring blue 
river charioting clouds, silence now reigned ; and 
the whole height of the atmosphere stood balanced. 
On the endless ribbon of island that stretched out 
to either hand of him its array of golden and green 
and silvery palms, not the most volatile frond was 
to be seen stirring ; they drooped to their stable 
images in the lagoon like things carved of metal, 
and already their long line began to reverberate 
heat. There was no escape possible that day, none 
probable on the morrow. And still the stores were 
running out ! 

Then came over Davis, from deep down in the 
roots of his being, or at least from far back among 
his memories of childhood and innocence, a wave 
of superstition. This run of ill-luck was something 
beyond natural ; the chances of the game were in 
themselves more various ; it seemed as if the devil 
must serve the pieces. The devil ? He heard again 
the clear note of Attwater's bell ringing abroad into 
the night, and dying away. How if God . . . ? 

Briskly he averted his mind. Attwater: that 
was the point. Attwater had food and a treasure 
of pearls ; escape made possible in the present, 
riches in the future. They must come to grips 
with Attwater ; the man must die. A smoky heat 
went over his face, as he recalled the impotent 
figure he had made last night, and the contemptuous 

349 



THE EBB TIDE 

speeches he must bear in silence. Rage, shame, and 
the love of life, all pointed the one way ; and only 
invention halted : how to reach him ? had he strength 
enough ? was there any help in that misbegotten 
packet of bones against the house ? 

His eyes dwelled upon him with a strange avidity, 
as though he would read into his soul ; and pre- 
sently the sleeper moved, stirred uneasily, turned 
suddenly round, and threw him a blinking look. 
Davis maintained the same dark stare, and Huish 
looked away again and sat up. 

' Lord, I 've an 'eadache on me ! ' said he. ' I 
believe I was a bit swipey last night. Were 's that 
cry-byby 'Errick ? ' 

* Gone,' said the captain. 

■ Ashore ? ' cried Huish. * O, I say ! I 'd 'a gone 
too.' 

' Would you ? ' said the captain. 

6 Yes, I would,' replied Huish. * I like Attwater. 
'E 's all right ; we got on like one o'clock when you 
were gone. And ain't his sherry in it, rather ? It 's 
like Spiers and Pond's Amontillado ! I wish I 'ad 
a drain of it now.' He sighed. 

' Well, you'll never get no more of it — that's one 
thing,' said Davis gravely. 

' 'Ere ! wot 's wrong with you, Dy vis ? Coppers 
'ot ? Well, look at me ! / ain't grumpy,' said 
Huish ; ' I 'm as plyful as a canary-bird, I am/ 

' Yes,' said Davis, ' you 're playful ; I own that ; 
and you were playful last night, I believe, and a 
damned fine performance you made of it' 
350 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

'Alio!' said Huish. ''Ow's this? Wot per- 
formance ? ' 

' Well, 1 11 tell you/ said the captain, getting 
slowly off the rail. 

And he did : at full length, with every wounding 
epithet and absurd detail repeated and emphasised ; 
he had his own vanity and Huish's upon the grill, 
and roasted them ; and as he spoke he inflicted and 
endured agonies of humiliation. It was a plain 
man's masterpiece of the sardonic. 

'What do you think of it?' said he, when he 
had done, and looked down at Huish, flushed and 
serious, and yet jeering. 

' I '11 tell you wot it is,' was the reply : * you and 
me cut a pretty dicky figure.' 

'That's so,' said Davis, 'a pretty measly figure, 
by God ! And, by God, I want to see that man at 
my knees.' 

' Ah ! ' said Huish. ' 'Ow to get him there ? ' 

'That's it!' cried Davis. 'How to get hold of 
him ! They 're four to two ; though there 's only one 
man among them to count, and that's Attwater. 
Get a bead on Attwater, and the others would cut 
and run and sing out like frightened poultry — and 
old man Herrick would come round with his hat for 
a share of the pearls. No, sir ! it 's how to get hold 
of Attwater ! And we daren't even go ashore ; he 
would shoot us in the boat like dogs.' 

'Are you particular about having him dead or 
alive ? ' asked Huish. 

' I want to see him dead,' said the captain. 

35i 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* Ah, well ! ' said Huish, ' then I believe I '11 do a 
bit of breakfast.' 

And he turned into the house. 

The captain doggedly followed him. 

'What's this?' he asked. 'What's your idea, 
anyway ? ' 

' O, you let me alone, will you ? ' said Huish, 
opening a bottle of champagne. 'You'll 'ear my 
idea soon enough. Wyte till I pour some cham on 
my 'ot coppers.' He drank a glass off, and affected 
to listen. ' 'Ark ! ' said he, ' 'ear it fizz. Like 'am 
fryin', I declyre. 'Ave a glass, do, and look sociable.' 

' No ! ' said the captain, with emphasis ; ' no, I 
will not ! there 's business.' 

' You p'ys your money and you tykes your choice, 
my little man,' returned Huish. 'Seems rather a 
shyme to me to spoil your breakfast for wot's 
really ancient 'istory.' 

He finished three parts of a bottle of champagne, 
and nibbled a corner of biscuit, with extreme de- 
liberation ; the captain sitting opposite and champing 
the bit like an impatient horse. Then Huish leaned 
his arms on the table and looked Davis in the face. 

' W'en you 're ready ! ' said he. 

' Well, now, what 's your idea ? ' said Davis, with 
a sigh. 

' Fair play ! ' said Huish. ' What 's yours ? ' 

' The trouble is that I 've got none,' replied Davis ; 
and wandered for some time in aimless discussion of 
the difficulties in their path, and useless explanations 
of his own fiasco. 

35 2 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

' About done ? ' said Huish. 

' 1 11 dry up right here,' replied Davis. 

'Well, then,' said Huish, 'you give me your 'and 
across the table, and say, " Gawd strike me dead if 
I don't back you up." ' 

His voice was hardly raised, yet it thrilled the 
hearer. His face seemed the epitome of cunning, 
and the captain recoiled from it as from a blow. 

* What for ? ' said he. 

' Luck,' said Huish. ' Substantial guarantee de- 
manded.' 

And he continued to hold out his hand. 

' I don't see the good of any such tomfoolery,' said 
the other. 

'I do, though,' returned Huish. 'Gimme your 
'and and say the words ; then you 11 'ear my view of 
it. Don't, and you don't.' 

The captain went through the required form, 
breathing short, and gazing on the clerk with 
anguish. What to fear he knew not, yet he feared 
slavishly what was to fall from the pale lips. 

'Now, if you 11 excuse me 'alf a second,' said 
Huish, ' 1 11 go and fetch the by by.' 

' The baby ? ' said Davis. ' What 's that ? ' 

' Fragile. With care. This side up,' replied the 
clerk with a wink, as he disappeared. 

He returned, smiling to himself, and carrying in 
his hand a silk handkerchief. The long stupid 
wrinkles ran up Davis's brow as he saw it. What 
should it contain ? He could think of nothing more 
recondite than a revolver. 

i9~ z 353 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Huish resumed his seat. 

'Now,' said he, 'are you man enough to take 
charge of 'Errick and the niggers? Because I'll 
take care of Hattwater.' 

' How ? ' cried Davis. ' You can't ! ' 

' Tut, tut ! ' said the clerk. ' You gimme time. 
Wot's the first point? The first point is that we 
can't get ashore, and I '11 make you a present of that 
for a 'ard one. But 'ow about a flag of truce? 
Would that do the trick, d'ye think? or would 
Attwater simply blyze aw'y at us in the bloomin' 
boat like dawgs ? ' 

' No,' said Davis, ' I don't believe he would.' 

'No more do I,' said Huish; 'I don't believe he 
would either ; and I 'm sure I 'ope he won't ! So 
then you can call us ashore. Next point is to get 
near the managin' direction. And for that I 'm 
going to 'ave you write a letter, in w'ich you s'y 
you re ashymed to meet his eye, and that the bearer, 
Mr. J. L. 'Uish, is empowered to represent you. 
Armed with w'ich seemin'ly simple expedient, Mr. 
J. L. 'Uish will proceed to business.' 

He paused, like one who had finished, but still 
held Davis with his eye. 

' How ? ' said Davis. ' Why ? ' 

' Well, you see, you 're big,' returned Huish ; ' 'e 
knows you 'ave a gun in your pocket, and anybody 
can see with 'alf an eye that you ain't the man to 
'esitate about usin' it. So it 's no go with you, and 
never was ; you 're out of the runnin', Dyvis. But 
he won't be afryde of me, I 'm such a little un 1 

354 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

I 'm unarmed — no kid about that — and I '11 hold my 
'ands up right enough.' He paused. 'If I can 
manage to sneak up nearer to him as we talk,' he 
resumed, 'you look out and back me up smart. 
If I don't, we go aw'y again, and nothink to 'urt. 
See?' 

The captain's face was contorted by the frenzied 
effort to comprehend. 

'No, I don't see,' he cried, 'I can't see. What 
do you mean ? ' 

' I mean to do for the beast ! ' cried Huish, in a 
burst of venomous triumph, ' I '11 bring the 'ulkin' 
bully to grass. He 's 'ad his larks out of me ; I 'm 
goin' to 'ave my lark out of 'im, and a good lark 
too !' 

'What is it?' said the captain, almost in a whisper. 

' Sure you want to know ? ' asked Huish. 

Davis rose and took a turn in the house. 

'Yes, I want to know,' he said at last with an 
effort. 

' Wen you 're back 's at the wall, you do the 
best you can, don't you ? ' began the clerk. ' I s'y 
that, because I 'appen to know there 's a prejudice 
against it ; it 's considered vulgar, awf'ly vulgar.' 
He unrolled the handkerchief and showed a four- 
ounce jar. ' This 'ere 's vitriol, this is,' said he. 

The captain stared upon him with a whitening face. 

'This is the stuff!' he pursued, holding it up. 
' This '11 burn to the bone ; you '11 see it smoke 
upon 'im like 'ell-fire ! One drop upon 'is bloomin' 
heyesight, and I '11 trouble you for Attwater ! ' 

355 



THE EBB-TIDE 

' No, no, by God ! ' exclaimed the captain. 

'Now, see 'ere, ducky,' said Huish, 'this is my 
bean feast, I believe ? I 'm goin' up to that man 
single-'anded, I am. 'E's about seven foot high, 
and I 'm five foot one. 'E 's a rifle in his 'and, 'e 's 
on the look-out, 'e wasn't born yesterday. This is 
Dyvid and Goliar, I tell you! If I'd ast you to 
walk up and face the music I could understand. 
But I don't. I on'y ast you to stand by and spifflicate 
the niggers. It '11 all come in quite natural ; you '11 
see, else ! Fust thing, you know, you '11 see him 
running round and 'owling like a good un. . . .' 

' Don't ! ' said Davis. ' Don't talk of it ! ' 

'Well, you are a juggins!' exclaimed Huish. 
' What did you want ? You wanted to kill him, 
and tried to last night. You wanted to kill the 'ole 
lot of them, and tried to, and 'ere I show you 'ow ; 
and because there 's some medicine in a bottle you 
kick up this fuss ! ' 

' I suppose that 's so,' said Davis. ' It don't seem 
some ways reasonable, only there it is.' 

'It's the happlication of science, I suppose?' 
sneered Huish. 

' I don't know what it is,' cried Davis, pacing the 
floor ; ' it 's there ! I draw the line at it. I can't put 
a finger to no such piggishness. It's too damned 
hateful!' 

' And I suppose it 's all your fancy pynted it,' said 
Huish, ' w'en you take a pistol and a bit o' lead, and 
copse a man 's brains all over him ? No accountin' 
for tystes.' 
356 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

* I 'm not denying it,' said Davis ; * it 's something 
here, inside of me. It 's foolishness ; I daresay it 's 
dam foolishness. I don't argue, I just draw the line. 
Isn't there no other way ? ' 

* Look for yourself,' said Huish. * I ain't wedded 
to this, if you think I am ; I ain't ambitious ; I don't 
make a point of playin' the lead ; I offer to, that 's 
all, and if you can't show me better, by Gawd, I 'm 
goin' to ! ' 

' Then the risk ! ' cried Davis. 

* If you ast me straight, I should say it was a 
case of seven to one, and no takers/ said Huish. 
'But that's my look-out, ducky, and I'm gyme. 
Look at me, Dyvis, there ain't any shilly-shally 
about me. I 'm gyme, that 's wot I am : gyme all 
through.' 

The captain looked at him. Huish sat there, 
preening his sinister vanity, glorying in his pre- 
cedency in evil ; and the villainous courage and 
readiness of the creature shone out of him like a 
candle from a lantern. Dismay and a kind of re- 
spect seized hold on Davis in his own despite. Until 
that moment he had seen the clerk always hanging 
back, always listless, uninterested, and openly 
grumbling at a word of anything to do ; and now, 
by the touch of an enchanter's wand, he beheld him 
sitting girt and resolved, and his face radiant. He 
had raised the devil, he thought ; and asked who 
was to control him, and his spirits quailed. 

* Look as long as you like,' Huish was going on. 
* You don't see any green in my eye ! I ain't afryde 

357 



THE EBB-TIDE 

of Attwater, I ain't afryde of you, and I ain't 
afryde of words. You want to kill people, that 's 
wot you want ; but you want to do it in kid gloves, 
and it can't be done that w'y. Murder ain't genteel, 
it ain't easy, it ain't safe, and it tykes a man to do 
it. 'Ere 's the man.' 

' Huish ! ' began the captain with energy ; and 
then stopped, and remained staring at him with 
corrugated brows. 

' Well, hout with it ! ' said Huish. * 'Ave you 
anythink else to put up ? Is there any other chanst 
to try ? ' 

The captain held his peace. 

' There you are then ! ' said Huish, with a shrug. 

Davis fell again to his pacing. 

' O, you may do sentry-go till you 're blue in the 
mug, you won't find anythink else,' said Huish. 

There was a little silence ; the captain, like a man 
launched on a swing, flying dizzily among extremes 
of conjecture and refusal. 

' But see,' he said, suddenly pausing. ' Can you ? 
Can the thing be done ? It — it can't be easy.' 

' If I get within twenty foot of 'im it 11 be done ; 
so you look out,' said Huish, and his tone of 
certainty was absolute. 

f How can you know that ? ' broke from the cap- 
tain in a choked cry. * You beast, I believe you 've 
done it before ! ' 

* O, that 's private affyres,' returned Huish ; ' I 
ain't a talking man.' 

A shock of repulsion struck and shook the cap- 
358 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

tain ; a scream rose almost to his lips ; had he 
uttered it, he might have cast himself at the same 
moment on the body of Huish, might have picked 
him up, and flung him down, and wiped the cabin 
with him, in a frenzy of cruelty that seemed half 
moral. But the moment passed ; and the abortive 
crisis left the man weaker. The stakes were so 
high — the pearls on the one hand — starvation and 
shame on the other. Ten years of pearls ! the 
imagination of Davis translated them into a new, 
glorified existence for himself and his family. The 
seat of this new life must be in London ; there were 
deadly reasons against Portland, Maine ; and the 
pictures that came to him were of English manners. 
He saw his boys marching in the procession of a 
school, with gowns on, an usher marshalling them 
and reading as he walked in a great book. He was 
installed in a villa, semi-detached ; the name, Rose- 
more, on the gateposts. In a chair on the gravel 
walk he seemed to sit smoking a cigar, a blue 
ribbon in his buttonhole, victor over himself and 
circumstances and the malignity of bankers. He 
saw the parlour, with red curtains, and shells on the 
mantelpiece — and, with the fine inconsistency of 
visions, mixed a grog at the mahogany table ere he 
turned in. With that the Farallone gave one of 
the aimless and nameless movements which (even in 
an anchored ship, and even in the most profound 
calm) remind one of the mobility of fluids ; and he 
was back again under the cover of the house, the 
fierce daylight besieging it all round and glaring in 

359 



THE EBB-TIDE 

the chinks, and the clerk in a rather airy attitude, 
awaiting his decision. 

He began to walk again. He aspired after the 
realisation of these dreams, like a horse nickering 
for water ; the lust of them burned in his inside. 
And the only obstacle was Attwater, who had 
insulted him from the first. He gave Herrick a 
full share of the pearls, he insisted on it ; Huish 
opposed him, and he trod the opposition down ; and 
praised himself exceedingly. He was not going to 
use vitriol himself ; was he Huish's keeper ? It was 
a pity he had asked, but after all ! ... he saw the 
boys again in the school procession, with the gowns 
he had thought to be so ' tony ' long since. . . . 
And at the same time the incomparable shame of 
the last evening blazed up in his mind. 

' Have it your own way ! ' he said hoarsely. 

' O, I knew you would walk up,' said Huish. 
' Now for the letter. There 's paper, pens, and ink. 
Sit down and I '11 dictyte.' 

The captain took a seat and the pen, looked a 
while helplessly at the paper, then at Huish. The 
swing had gone the other way ; there was a blur 
upon his eyes. ' It 's a dreadful business,' he said, 
with a strong twitch of his shoulders. 

* It 's rather a start, no doubt,' said Huish. ' Tyke 
a dip of ink. That 's it. William John Hattwater, 
Esq. Sir : ' he dictated. 

' How do you know his name is William John ? ' 
asked Davis. 

' Saw it on a packing-case,' said Huish. 'Got that?' 
360 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

* No,' said Davis. ' But there 's another thing. 
What are we to write ? ' 

* O my golly ! ' cried the exasperated Huish. 
' Wot kind of man do you call yourself ? / 'm goin' 
to tell you wot to write ; that 's my pitch ; if you '11 
just be so bloomin' condescendin' as to write it 
down ! William John Attwater, Esq., Sir : ' he 
reiterated. And, the captain at last beginning half 
mechanically to move his pen, the dictation pro- 
ceeded : ' It is with feelings of shyme and 'artfelt 
contrition that I approach you after the yumiliatvrC 
events of last night. Our Mr. 'Errick has left the 
ship, and will have doubtless communicated to you 
the nature of our 'opes. Needless to s'y, these are no 
longer possible : Fate 'as declyred against us, and we 
bow the 'ead. Well awyre as I am of the just 
suspicions with w'ich I am regarded, 1 do not venture 
to solicit the fyvour of an interview for myself, but 
in order to put an end to a situytion w'ich must be 
equally pyrieful to all, I 'ave deputed my friend and 
partner, Mr. J. L. Huish, to l'y before you my pro- 
posals, and w'ich by their moderytion, will, I trust, be 
found to merit your attention. Mr. J. L. Huish 
is entirely unarmed, I swear to Gawd! and will 'old 
his 'ands over 'is 'ead from the moment he begins to ap- 
proach you. I am yourfytheful servant, John Dyvis. ' 

Huish read the letter with the innocent joy of 
amateurs, chuckled gustfully to himself, and re- 
opened it more than once after it was folded, to 
repeat the pleasure ; Davis meanwhile sitting inert 
and heavily frowning. 

361 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Of a sudden he rose ; he seemed all abroad. ' No ! ' 
he cried. l No ! it can't be ! It 's too much ; it 's 
damnation. God would never forgive it.' 

* Well, and 'oo wants him to ? ' returned Huish, 
shrill with fury. ' You were damned years ago 
for the Sea Hynger, and said so yourself. Well 
then, be damned for something else, and 'old your 
tongue.' 

The captain looked at him mistily. * No,' he 
pleaded, ' no, old man ! don't do it.' 

' 'Ere now,' said Huish, ' I '11 give you my ultimy- 
tum. Go or st'y w'ere you are ; I don't mind ; I 'm 
goin' to see that man and chuck this vitriol in his 
eyes. If you st'y I '11 go alone ; the niggers will 
likely knock me on the 'ead, and a fat lot you 11 
be the better ! But there 's one thing sure : I '11 'ear 
no more of your moonin' mullygrubbin' rot, and 
tyke it stryte.' 

The captain took it with a blink and a gulp. 
Memory, with phantom voices, repeated in his ears 
something similar, something he had once said to 
Herrick — years ago it seemed. 

' Now, gimme over your pistol,' said Huish. ' I 
'ave to see all clear. Six shots, and mind you don't 
wyste them.' 

The captain, like a man in a nightmare, laid down 
his revolver on the table, and Huish wiped the 
cartridges and oiled the works. 

It was close on noon, there was no breath of 
wind, and the heat was scarce bearable, when the 
two men came on deck, had the boat manned, and 
362 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

passed down, one after another, into the stern-sheets. 
A white shirt at the end of an oar served as flag 
of truce ; and the men, by direction, and to give it 
the better chance to be observed, pulled with ex- 
treme slowness. The isle shook before them like a 
place incandescent ; on the face of the lagoon blind- 
ing copper suns, no bigger than sixpences, danced 
and stabbed them in the eyeballs : there went up 
from sand and sea, and even from the boat, a glare 
of scathing brightness ; and as they could only peer 
abroad from between closed lashes, the excess of 
light seemed to be changed into a sinister dark- 
ness, comparable to that of a thundercloud before 
it bursts. 

The captain had come upon this errand for any 
one of a dozen reasons, the last of which was desire 
for its success. Superstition rules all men ; semi- 
ignorant and gross natures, like that of Davis, it 
rules utterly. For murder he had been prepared ; 
but this horror of the medicine in the bottle went 
beyond him, and he seemed to himself to be parting 
the last strands that united him to God. The boat 
carried him on to reprobation, to damnation ; and 
he suffered himself to be carried passively consent- 
ing, silently bidding farewell to his better self and 
his hopes. 

Huish sat by his side in towering spirits that were 
not wholly genuine. Perhaps as brave a man as 
ever lived, brave as a weasel, he must still reassure 
himself with the tones of his own voice ; he must 
play his part to exaggeration, he must out-Herod 

363 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Herod, insult all that was respectable, and brave all 
that was formidable, in a kind of desperate wager 
with himself. 

'Golly, but it's 'ot!' said he. ' Cruel 'ot, I call 
it Nice d'y to get your gruel in ! I s'y, you know, 
it must feel awf'ly peculiar to get bowled over on 
a d'y like this. I 'd rather 'ave it on a cowld and 
frosty morning, wouldn't you ? (Singing) " 'Ere we 
go round the mulberry bush on a cowld and frosty 
mornin" (Spoken) Give you my word, I 'aven't 
thought o' that in ten year ; used to sing it at a 
hinfant school in 'Ackney, 'Ackney Wick it was. 
(Singing) " This is the way the tyler does, the tyler 
does." (Spoken) Bloomin' 'umbug. — 'Ow are you 
off now, for the notion of a future styte ? Do you 
cotton to the tea-fight views, or the old red-'ot 
bogey business ? ' 

1 O, dry up ! ' said the captain. 

'No, but I want to know,' said Huish. 'It's 
within the sp'ere of practical politics for you and me, 
my boy ; we may both be bowled over, one up, 
t' other down, within the next ten minutes. It 
would be rather a lark, now, if you only skipped 
across, came up smilin' t'other side, and a hangel 
met you with a B. and S. under his wing. 'Ullo, 
you 'd s'y : come, I tyke this kind.' 

The captain groaned. While Huish was thus 
airing and exercising his bravado, the man at his 
side was actually engaged in prayer. Prayer, what 
for? God knows. But out of his inconsistent, 
illogical, and agitated spirit, a stream of supplication 

364 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

was poured forth, inarticulate as himself, earnest as 
death and judgment. 

' Thou Gawd seest me ! ' continued Huish. ' I 
remember I had that written in my Bible. I re- 
member the Bible too, all about Abinadab and 
parties. — Well, Gawd ! ' apostrophising the meridian, 
■ you 're goin' to see a rum start presently ; I promise 
you that ! ' 

The captain bounded. 

* I '11 have no blasphemy ! ' he cried, * no blasphemy 
in my boat' 

' All right, cap',' said Huish. * Anythink to oblige. 
Any other topic you would like to sudgest, the ryne- 
gyge, the lightnin'-rod, Shykespeare, or the musical 
glasses ? 'Ere 's conversation on tap. Put a penny 
in the slot, and . . . 'ullo ! 'ere they are ! ' he cried. 
' Now or never ! is 'e goin' to shoot ? ' 

And the little man straightened himself into an 
alert and dashing attitude, and looked steadily at 
the enemy. 

But the captain rose half up in the boat with eyes 
protruding. 

* What's that? 'he cried. 

* Wot 's wot ? ' said Huish. 

* Those — blamed things,' said the captain. 

And indeed it was something strange. Herrick 
and Attwater, both armed with Winchesters, had 
appeared out of the grove behind the figure-head; 
and to either hand of them, the sun glistened upon 
two metallic objects, locomotory like men, and 
occupying in the economy of these creatures the 

365 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* places of heads — only the heads were faceless. To 
Davis between wind and water his mythology 
appeared to have come alive, and Tophet to be 
vomiting demons. But Huish was not mystified a 
moment. 

' Divers' 'elmets, you ninny. Can't you see ? ' he 
said. 

'So they are,' said Davis, with a gasp. 'And 
why ? O, I see, it 's for armour.' 

'Wot did I tell you?' said Huish. 'Dyvid and 
Goliar all the w'y and back.' 

The two natives (for they it was that were equipped 
in this unusual panoply of war) spread out to right 
and left, and at last lay down in the shade, on the 
extreme flank of the position. Even now that 
the mystery was explained, Davis was hatefully 
preoccupied, stared at the flame on their crests, and 
forgot, and then remembered with a smile, the 
explanation. 

Attwater withdrew again into the grove, and 
Herrick, with his gun under his arm, came down 
the pier alone. 

About half-way down he halted and hailed the 
boat. 

' What do you want ? ' he cried. 

'I'll tell that to Mr. Attwater,' replied Huish, 
stepping briskly on the ladder. ' I don't tell it to 
you, because you played the trucklin' sneak. Here 's 
a letter for him : tyke it, and give it, and be 'anged 
to you ! ' 

' Davis, is this all right ? ' said Herrick. 
366 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

Davis raised his chin, glanced swiftly at Herrick 
and away again, and held his peace. The glance 
was charged with some deep emotion, but whether 
of hatred or of fear it was beyond Herrick to 
divine. 

'Well,' he said, '111 give the letter.' He drew a 
score with his foot on the boards of the gangway. 
'Till I bring the answer, don't move a step past 
this.' 

And he returned to where Attwater leaned against 
a tree, and gave him the letter. Attwater glanced 
it through. 

' What does that mean ? ' he asked, passing it to 
Herrick. ' Treachery ? ' 

' O, I suppose so ! ' said Herrick. 

' Well, tell him to come on,' said Attwater. ' One 
isn't a fatalist for nothing. Tell him to come on 
and to look out' 

Herrick returned to the figure-head. Halfway 
down the pier the clerk was waiting, with Davis by 
his side. 

'You are to come along, Huish,' said Herrick. 
' He bids you to look out, — no tricks.' 

Huish walked briskly up the pier, and paused face 
to face with the young man. 

' Were is 'e ? ' said he, and to Herrick's surprise, 
the low-bred, insignificant face before him flushed 
suddenly crimson and went white again. 

' Right forward,' said Herrick, pointing. ' Now, 
your hands above your head.' 

The clerk turned away from him and towards the 

367 



THE EBB-TIDE 

figure-head, as though he were about to address to 
it his devotions ; he was seen to heave a deep 
breath ; and raised his arms. In common with 
many men of his unhappy physical endowments, 
Huish's hands were disproportionately long and 
broad, and the palms in particular enormous; a 
four-ounce jar was nothing in that capacious fist. 
The next moment he was plodding steadily forward 
on his mission. 

Herrick at first followed. Then a noise in his 
rear startled him, and he turned about to find Davis 
already advanced as far as the figure-head. He 
came, crouching and open-mouthed, as the mes- 
merised may follow the mesmeriser ; all human 
considerations, and even the care of his own life, 
swallowed up in one abominable and burning 
curiosity. 

* Halt ! ' cried Herrick, covering him with his 
rifle. * Davis, what are you doing, man ? You are 
not to come.' 

Davis instinctively paused, and regarded him with 
a dreadful vacancy of eye. 

* Put your back to that figure-head, — do you hear 
me ? — and stand fast ! ' said Herrick. 

The captain fetched a breath, stepped back against 
the figure-head, and instantly redirected his glances 
after Huish. 

There was a hollow place of the sand in that part, 

and, as it were, a glade among the cocoa-palms in 

which the direct noonday sun blazed intolerably. 

At the far end, in the shadow, the tall figure of 

368 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

Attwater was to be seen leaning on a tree ; towards 
him, with his hands over his head, and his steps 
smothered in the sand, the clerk painfully waded. 
The surrounding glare threw out and exaggerated 
the man's smallness ; it seemed no less perilous an 
enterprise, this that he was gone upon, than for a 
whelp to besiege a citadel. 

* There, Mr. Whish. That will do,' cried Att- 
water. 'From that distance, and keeping your 
hands up, like a good boy, you can very well put 
me in possession of the skipper's views.' 

The interval betwixt them was perhaps forty feet ; 
and Huish measured it with his eye, and breathed a 
curse. He was already distressed with labouring in 
the loose sand, and his arms ached bitterly from 
their unnatural position. In the palm of his right 
hand the jar was ready ; and his heart thrilled, and 
his voice choked, as he began to speak. 

' Mr. Hattwater,' said he, - I don't know if ever 
you 'ad a mother. . . .' 

* I can set your mind at rest : I had,' returned 
Attwater ; ' and henceforth, if I may venture to 
suggest it, her name need not recur in our com- 
munications. I should perhaps tell you that I am 
not amenable to the pathetic' 

I am sorry, sir, if I 'ave seemed to tresparse on 
your private feelin's,' said the clerk, cringing and 
stealing a step. 'At least, sir, you will never 
pe'suade me that you are not a perfec' gentleman ; 
I know a gentleman when I see him ; and as such 
I 'ave no 'esitation in throwin' myself on your 

19—2 A 369 



THE EBB-TIDE 

merciful consideration. It is 'ard lines, no doubt ; 
it's 'ard lines to have to hown yourself beat; 
it 's 'ard lines to 'ave to come and beg to you for 
charity.' 

* When, if things had only gone right, the whole 
place was as good as your own ? ' suggested Attwater. 
'I can understand the feeling.' 

'You are judging me, Mr. Attwater,' said the 
clerk, ' and God knows how unjustly ! Thou Gawd 
seest me was the tex' I 'ad in my Bible, w'ich my 
father wrote it in with 'is own 'and upon the fly- 
leaft. ' 

'I am sorry I have to beg your pardon once 
more,' said Attwater ; * but, do you know, you seem 
to me to be a trifle nearer, which is entirely outside 
of our bargain. And I would venture to suggest 
that you take one — two — three — steps back ; and 
stay there.' 

The devil, at this staggering disappointment, 
looked out of Huish's face, and Attwater was swift 
to suspect. He frowned, he stared on the little 
man, and considered. Why should he be creeping 
nearer? The next moment his gun was at his 
shoulder. 

* Kindly oblige me by opening your hands. Open 
your hands wide — let me see the fingers spread, 
you dog — throw down that thing you're hold- 
ing ! ' he roared, his rage and certitude increasing 
together. 

And then, at almost the same moment, the in- 
domitable Huish decided to throw, and Attwater 

37o 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

pulled the trigger. There was scarce the difference 
of a second between the two resolves, but it was in 
favour of the man with the rifle ; and the jar had 
not yet left the clerk's hand before the ball shattered 
both. For the twinkling of an eye the wretch was 
in hell's agonies, bathed in liquid flames, a screaming 
bedlamite; and then a second and more merciful 
bullet stretched him dead. 

The whole thing was come and gone in a breath. 
Before Herrick could turn about, before Davis 
could complete his cry of horror, the clerk lay in 
the sand, sprawling and convulsed. 

Attwater ran to the body ; he stooped and viewed 
it ; he put his finger in the vitriol, and his face 
whitened and hardened with anger. 

Davis had not yet moved; he stood astonished, 
with his back to the figure-head, his hands clutching 
it behind him, his body inclined forward from the 
waist. 

Attwater turned deliberately and covered him 
with his rifle. 

* Davis,' he cried, in a voice like a trumpet, 'I 
give you sixty seconds to make your peace with 
God!' 

Davis looked, and his mind awoke. He did not 
dream of self-defence, he did not reach for his pistol. 
He drew himself up instead to face death, with a 
quivering nostril. 

' I guess I '11 not trouble the Old Man,' he said ; 
'considering the job I was on, I guess it's better 
business to just shut my face.' 

37i 



THE EBB-TIDE 

Attwater fired ; there came a spasmodic move- 
ment of the victim, and immediately above the 
middle of his forehead a black hole marred the white- 
ness of the figure-head. A dreadful pause ; then 
again the report, and the solid sound and jar of 
the bullet in the wood ; and this time the captain 
had felt the wind of it along his cheek. A third 
shot, and he was bleeding from one ear ; and 
along the levelled rifle Attwater smiled like a Red 
Indian. 

The cruel game of which he was the puppet was 
now clear to Davis ; three times he had drunk of 
death, and he must look to drink of it seven times 
more before he was despatched. He held up his 
hand. 

* Steady ! ' he cried ; * I '11 take your sixty seconds.' 

* Good ! ' said Attwater. 

The captain shut his eyes tight like a child : he 
held his hands up at last with a tragic and ridiculous 
gesture. 

'My God, for Christ's sake, look after my two 
kids,' he said ; and then, after a pause and a falter, 
' For Christ's sake. Amen.' 

And he opened his eyes and looked down the rifle 
with a quivering mouth. 

' But don't keep fooling me long ! ' he pleaded. 

' That 's all your prayer ? ' asked Attwater, with a 
singular ring in his voice. 

1 Guess so,' said Davis. 

' So ? ' said Attwater, resting the butt of his rifle 
on the ground, ' is that done % Is your peace made 
372 



DAVID AND GOLIATH 

with Heaven ? Because it is with me. Go, and sin 
no more, sinful father. And remember that what- 
ever you do to others, God shall visit it again a 
thousandfold upon your innocents.' 

The wretched Davis came staggering forward from 
his place against the figure-head, fell upon his knees, 
and waved his hands, and fainted. 

When he came to himself again, his head was on 
Attwater's arm, and close by stood one of the men 
in diver's helmets, holding a bucket of water, from 
which his late executioner now laved his face. The 
memory of that dreadful passage returned upon him 
in a clap ; again he saw Huish lying dead, again he 
seemed to himself to totter on the brink of an 
unplumbed eternity. With trembling hands he 
seized hold of the man whom he had come to 
slay ; and his voice broke from him like that 
of a child among the nightmares of fever : ' O ! 
isn't there no mercy ? O ! what must I do to be 
saved ? ' 

' Ah ! ' thought Attwater, ' here is the true peni- 
tent. ' 

CHAPTER XII 

A TAIL-PIECE 

On a very bright, hot, lusty, strongly-blowing noon, 
a fortnight after the events recorded, and a month 
since the curtain rose upon this episode, a man 
might have been spied praying on the sand by the 

373 



THE EBB-TIDE 

lagoon beach. A point of palm-trees isolated him 
from the settlement ; and from the place where he 
knelt the only work of man's hand that interrupted 
the expanse was the schooner Farallone, her berth 
quite changed, and rocking at anchor some two 
miles to windward in the midst of the lagoon. The 
noise of the Trade ran very boisterous in all parts 
of the island ; the nearer palm-trees crashed and 
whistled in the gusts, those farther off contributed 
a humming bass like the roar of cities ; and yet, to 
any man less absorbed, there must have risen at 
times over this turmoil of the winds the sharper 
note of the human voice from the settlement. 
There all was activity. Attwater, stripped to his 
trousers, and lending a strong hand of help, was 
directing and encouraging five Kanakas ; from his 
lively voice and their more lively efforts, it was to 
be gathered that some sudden and joyful emergency 
had set them in this bustle; and the Union Jack 
floated once more on its staff. But the suppliant 
on the beach, unconscious of their voices, prayed on 
with instancy and fervour, and the sound of his 
voice rose and fell again, and his countenance 
brightened and was deformed with changing moods 
of piety and terror. 

Before his closed eyes the skiff had been for some 
time tacking towards the distant and deserted Faral- 
lone ; and presently the figure of Herrick might 
have been observed to board her, to pass for a while 
into the house, thence forward to the forecastle, and 
at last to plunge into the main hatch. In all these 
374 



A TAIL-PIECE 

quarters his visit was followed by a coil of smoke ; 
and he had scarce entered his boat again and shoved 
off, before flames broke forth upon the schooner. 
They burned gaily ; kerosene had not been spared, 
and the bellows of the Trade incited the conflagra- 
tion. About half-way on the return voyage, when 
Herrick looked back, he beheld the Farallone 
wrapped to the topmasts in leaping arms of fire, 
and the voluminous smoke pursuing him along the 
face of the lagoon. In one hour's time, he com- 
puted, the waters would have closed over the stolen 
ship. 

It so chanced that, as his boat flew before the 
wind with much vivacity, and his eyes were con- 
tinually busy in the wake, measuring the progress of 
the flames, he found himself embayed to the north- 
ward of the point of palms, and here became aware 
at the same time of the figure of Davis immersed 
in his devotion. An exclamation, part of annoyance, 
part of amusement, broke from him : and he touched 
the helm and ran the prow upon the beach not 
twenty feet from the unconscious devotee. Taking 
the painter in his hand, he landed, and drew near, 
and stood over him. And still the voluble and 
incoherent stream of prayer continued unabated. 
It was not possible for him to overhear the sup- 
pliant's petitions, which he listened to some while in 
a very mingled mood of humour and pity : and it 
was only when his own name began to occur and to 
be conjoined with epithets, that he at last laid his 
hand on the captain's shoulder. 

375 



THE EBB-TIDE 

* Sorry to interrupt the exercise,' said he ; ' but 
I want you to look at the Farallone' 

The captain scrambled to his feet, and stood 
gasping and staring. 'JMr. Herri ck, don't startle a 
man like that!' he said. 'I don't seem someway s 
rightly myself since . . .' He broke off. * What did 
you say anyway ? O, the FaralloneJ and he looked 
languidly out. 

' Yes,' said Herrick. ' There she burns ! and you 
may guess from that what the news is. ' 

' The Trinity Hall, I guess,' said the captain. 

' The same,' said Herrick ; ' sighted half an hour 
ago, and coming up hand over fist.' 

' Well, it don't amount to a hill of beans,' said the 
captain, with a sigh. 

' O, come, that 's rank ingratitude ! ' cries Her- 
rick. 

'Well,' replied the captain meditatively, 'you 
mayn't just see the way that I view it in, but I 'd 
'most rather stay here upon this island. I found 
peace here, peace in believing. Yes, I guess this 
island is about good enough for John Davis.' 

' I never heard such nonsense ! ' cried Herrick. 
' What ! with all turning out in your favour the 
way it does, — the Farallone wiped out, the crew dis- 
posed of, a sure thing for your wife and family, and 
you, yourself, Attwater's spoiled darling and pet 
penitent ! ' 

' Now, Mr. Herrick, don't say that,' said the 
captain gently; 'when you know he don't make 
no difference between us. But, O ! why not be 

376 



A TAIL-PIECE 

one of us? why not come to Jesus right away, 
and let's meet in yon beautiful land? That's just 
the one thing wanted; just say, "Lord, I believe, 
help thou mine unbelief ! " and He '11 fold you in 
His arms. You see, I know ! I been a sinner 
myself ! ' 



377 



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