By Reef And Palm, and Other Stories
by Louis Becke
``'Tis In The
The Revenge Of
The Rangers Of
The Tia Kau
A Basket Of
Good Little Wife
Mr Burr Of
A Truly Great
The Fate Of The
His Native Wife
Bennett Seeks A
New Second Mate
Chapter II: On
Board The Kellet
Chapter III: The
Wife Of The
Chapter IV: ``We
Cannot Put New
Wine Into Old
Chapter V: The
First And Second
Chapter VI: Kate
One Of The Old
Chapter IX: In
The Boil Of The
Chapter X: Under
Chapter XI: A
Chapter XII: The
Challis The Doubter
The White Lady And The Brown Woman
FOUR years had come and gone since the day that Challis, with a dull and savage
misery in his heart, had, cursing the love-madness which once possessed him,
walked out from his house in an Australian city with an undefined and vague
purpose of going "somewhere" to drown his sense of wrong and erase from his
memory the face of the woman who, his wife of not yet a year, had played with
her honour and his. So he thought, anyhow.
You see, Challis was "a fool" -- at least so his pretty, violet-eyed wife had told
him that afternoon with a bitter and contemptuous ring in her voice when he had
brought another man's letter -- written to her -- and with impulsive and jealous
haste had asked her to explain. He was a fool, she had said, with an angry gleam in
the violet eyes, to think she could not "take care" of herself. Admit receiving that
letter? Of course! Did he think she could help other men writing silly letters
to her? Did he not think she could keep out of a mess? And she smiled the
self-satisfied smile of a woman conscious of many admirers and of her own
powers of intrigue.
Then Challis, with a big effort, gulping down the rage that stirred him, made his
great mistake. He spoke of his love for her. Fatuity! She laughed at him, said that
as she detested women, his love was too exacting for her, if it meant that she
should never be commonly friendly with any other man.
Challis looked at her steadily for a few moments, trying to smother the wild flood
of black suspicion aroused in him by the discovery of the letter, and confirmed by
her sneering words, and then said quietly, but with a dangerous inflection in his
"Remember -- you are my wife. If you have no regard for your own reputation,
you shall have some for mine. I don't want to entertain my friends by thrashing
R----, but I'm not such a fool as you think. And if you go further in this direction
you'll find me a bit of a brute."
Again the sneering laugh -- "Indeed! Something very tragic will occur, I suppose?"
"No," said Challis grimly, "something damned prosaic -- common enough among
men with pretty wives -- I'll clear out."
"I wish you would do that now," said his wife, "I hate you quite enough."
Of course she didn't quite mean it. She really liked Challis in her own small-souled
way -- principally because his money had given her the social pleasures denied her
during her girlhood. With an unmoved face and without farewell he left her and
went to his lawyer's.
A quarter of an hour later he arose to go, and the lawyer asked him when he
"That all depends upon her. If she wants me back again, she can write, through
you, and I'll come -- if she has conducted herself with a reasonable amount of
propriety for such a pretty woman."
Then, with an ugly look on his face, Challis went out; next day he embarked in the
Lady Alicia for a six months' cruise among the islands of the North-west Pacific.
That was four years ago, and to-day Challis, who stands working at a little table
set in against an open window, hammering out a ring from a silver coin on a
marline-spike and vyce, whistles softly and contentedly to himself as he raises his
head and glances through the vista of coconuts that surround his dwelling on this
lonely and almost forgotten island.
"The devil!" he thinks to himself, "I must be turning into a native. Four years!
What an ass I was! And I've never written yet -- that is, never sent a letter
away. Well, neither has she. Perhaps, after all, there was little in that affair of
R----'s. . . . By God! though, if there was, I've been very good to them in leaving
them a clear field. Anyhow, she's all right as regards money. I'm glad I've done
that. It's a big prop to a man's conscience to feel he hasn't done anything mean;
and she likes money -- most women do. Of course I'll go back -- if she writes. If
not -- well, then, these sinful islands can claim me for their own; that is, Nalia
A native boy with shaven head, save for a long tuft on the left side, came down
from the village, and, seating himself on the gravelled space inside the fence,
gazed at the white man with full, lustrous eyes.
"Hallo, tama!" said Challis, "whither goest now?"
"Pardon, Tialli. I came to look at thee making the ring. Is it of soft silver -- and
for Nalia, thy wife?"
"Ay, O shaven-head, it is. Here, take this masi and go pluck me a young nut to
drink," and Challis threw him a ship-biscuit. Then he went on tapping the little band
of silver. He had already forgotten the violet eyes, and was thinking with almost
childish eagerness of the soft glow in the black orbs of Nalia when she should see
his finished handiwork.
The boy returned with a young coconut, unhusked. "Behold, Tialli. This nut is
a uto ga'au (sweet husk). When thou hast drunk the juice give it me back, that I
may chew the husk which is sweet as the sugar-cane of Samoa," and he squatted
down again on the gravel.
Challis drank, then threw him the husk and resumed his work. Presently the boy,
tearing off a strip of the husk with his white teeth, said, "Tialli, how is it that
there be no drinking-nuts in thy house?"
"Because, O turtle-head, my wife is away; and there are no men in the village
to-day; and because the women of this motu I have no thought that the papalagi
may be parched with thirst, and so come not near me with a coconut." This latter
"Nay,Tialli. Not so. True it is that to-day all the men are in the bush binding fala
leaves around the coconut trees, else do the rats steal up and eat the buds and
clusters of little nuts. And because Nalia, thy wife, is away at the other White
Man's house no woman cometh inside the door."
Challis laughed. "O evil-minded people of Nukunono! And must I, thy papalagi, be
parched with thirst because of this?"
"Faiaga oe, Tialli, thou but playest with me. Raise thy hand and call out 'I thirst!'
and every woman in the village will run to thee, each with a drinking-nut, and
those that desire thee, but are afraid, will give two. But to come inside when Nalia
is away would be to put shame on her."
The white man mused. The boy's solemn chatter entertained him. He knew well the
native customs; but, to torment the boy, he commenced again.
"O foolish custom! See how I trust my wife Nalia. Is she not even now in the house
of another white man?"
"True. But, then, he is old and feeble, and thou young and strong. None but a fool
desires to eat a dried flying-fish when a fresh one may be had."
"O wise man with the shaven crown," said Challis, with mocking good nature, "thou
art full of wisdom of the ways of women. And if I were old and withered, would
Nalia then be false to me in a house of another and younger white man?"
"How could she? Would not he, too, have a wife who would watch her? And if he
had not, and were nofo noa (single), would he be such a fool to steal that the like
of which he can buy -- for there are many girls without husbands as good to look
on as that Nalia of thine. And all women are alike," and then, hearing a woman's
voice calling his name, he stood up.
"Farewell, O ulu tula poto (Wise Baldhead)," said Challis, as the boy, still
chewing his sweet husk,walked back to the native houses clustered under the
grove of pua trees.
Ere dusk, Nalia came home, a slenderly-built girl with big dreamy eyes, and a heavy
mantle of wavy hair. A white muslin gown, fastened at the throat with a small
silver brooch, was her only garment, save the folds of the navy-blue-and-white
lava lava round her waist, which the European-fashioned garment covered.
Challis was lying down when she came in. Two girls who came with her carried
baskets of cooked food, presents from old Jack Kelly, Challis's fellow-trader. At a
sign from Nalia the girls took one of the baskets of food and went away. Then,
taking off her wide-brimmed hat of fala leaf, she sat down beside Challis and
pinched his cheek.
"O lazy one! To let me walk from the house of Tiaki all alone!"
"Alone! There were two others with thee."
"Tapa Could I talk to them! I, a white man's wife, must not be too familiar with
every girl, else they would seek to get presents from me with sweet words.
Besides, could I carry home the fish and cooked fowl sent thee by old Tiaki? That
would be unbecoming to me, even as it would be if thou climbed a tree for a
coconut," -- and the daughter of the Tropics laughed merrily as she patted
Challis on his sunburnt cheek.
Challis rose, and going to a little table, took from it the ring.
"See, Nalia, I am not lazy as thou sayest. This is thine."
The girl with an eager "Aue!" took the bauble and placed it on her finger. She
made a pretty picture, standing there in the last glow of the sun as it sank into
the ocean, her languorous eyes filled with a tender light.
Challis, sitting on the end of the table regarding her with half-amused interest as
does a man watching a child with a toy, suddenly flushed hotly. "By God! I can't be
such a fool as to begin to love her in reality, but yet . . . Come here, Nalia," and he
drew her to him, and, turning her face up so that he might look into her eyes, he
"Nalia, hast thou ever told me any lies?"
The steady depths of those dark eyes looked back into his, and she answered:
"Nay, I fear thee too much to lie. Thou mightst kill me."
"I do but ask thee some little things. It matters not to me what the answer is. Yet
see that thou keepest nothing hidden from me."
The girl, with parted lips and one hand on his, waited.
"Before thou became my wife, Nalia, hadst thou any lovers?"
"Yes, two -- Kapua and Tafu-le-Afi."
"May I choke and perish here before thee if I lie! None."
Challis, still holding her soft brown chin in his hand, asked her one more question
-- a question that only one of his temperament would have dared to ask a girl of
"Nalia, dost thou love me?"
"Aye, alofa tumau (everlasting love). Am I a fool? Are there not Letia, and
Miriami, and Eline, the daughter of old Tiaki, ready to come to this house if I love
any but thee? Therefore my love is like the suckers of the fa'e (octopus) in its
strength. My mother has taught me much wisdom."
A curious feeling of satisfaction possessed the man, and next day Letia, the
"show" girl of the village, visiting Challis's store to buy a tin of salmon, saw Nalia,
the Lucky One, seated on a mat beneath the seaward side of the trader's house,
surrounded by a billowy pile of yellow silk, diligently sewing.
"Ho, dear friend of my heart! Is that silken dress for thee? For the love of God, let
me but touch it. Four dollars a fathom it be priced at. Thy husband is indeed the
king of generosity. Art thou to become a mother?"
"Away, silly fool, and do thy buying and pester me not."
Challis, coming to the corner of the house, leant against a post, and
something white showed in his hand. It was a letter. His letter to the woman of
violet eyes, written a week ago, in the half-formed idea of sending it some day. He
read it through, and then paused and looked at Nalia. She raised her head and
smiled. Slowly, piece by piece, he tore it into tiny little squares, and, with a dreamy
hand-wave, threw them away. The wind held them in mid-air for a moment, and
then carried the little white flecks to the beach.
"What is it?" said the bubbling voice of Letia, the Disappointed.
"Only a piece of paper that weighed as a piece of iron on my bosom. But it is gone
"Even so," said Letia, smelling the gaudy label on the tin of salmon in the
anticipative ecstasy of a true Polynesian, "pe se mea fa'agotoimoana (like a
thing buried deep in ocean). May God send me a white man as generous as thee --
a whole tin of samani for nothing! Now do I know that Nalia will bear thee a son."
And that is why Challis the Doubter has never turned up again.
"'Tis In The Blood"
WE were in Manton's Hotel at Levuka-Levuka in her palmy days. There were
Robertson, of the barque Rolumah; a fat German planter from the Yasawa Group;
Harry the Canadian, a trader from the Tokelaus, and myself.
Presently a knock came to the door, and Allan, the boatswain of our brig, stood
hat in hand before us. He was a stalwart half-caste of Manhiki, and, perhaps, the
greatest manaia (Lothario) from Ponape to Fiji.
"Captain say to come aboard, please. He at the Consul's for papers -- he meet
you at boat," and Allan left.
"By shingo, dot's a big fellow," said Planter Oppermann.
"Ay," said Robertson, the trading skipper, "and a good man with his mauleys, too.
He's the champion knocker-out in Samoa, and is a match for any Englishman in
Polynesia, let alone foreigners" -- with a sour glance at the German.
"Well, good-bye all," I said. "I'm sorry, Oppermann, I can't stay for another day for
your wedding, but our skipper isn't to be got at anyhow."
The trading captain and Harry walked with me part of the way, and then
began the usual Fiji gup.
"Just fancy that fat-headed Dutchman going all the way to Samoa and picking on a
young girl and sending her to the Sisters to get educated properly! As if any old
beach-girl isn't good enough for a blessed Dutchman. Have you seen her?"
"No," I said; "Oppermann showed me her photo. Pretty girl. Says she's been three
years with the Sisters in Samoa, and has got all the virtues of her white father,
and none of the vices of her Samoan mammy. Told me he's spent over two
thousand dollars on her already."
Robertson smiled grimly. "Ay, I don't doubt it. He's been all round Levuka cracking
her up. I brought her here last week, and the Dutchman's been in a chronic state
of silly ever since. She's an almighty fine girl. She's staying with the Sisters here
till the marriage. By the Lord, here she is now coming along the street! Bet a dollar
she's been round Vagadace way, where there are some fast Samoan women living.
'Tis in the blood, I tell you."
The future possessor of the Oppermann body and estate was a pretty girl. Only
those who have seen fair young Polynesian half-castes -- before they get
married, and grow coarse, and drink beer, and smoke like a factory chimney --
know how pretty.
Our boat was at the wharf, and just as we stood talking Allan sauntered up
and asked me for a dollar to get a bottle of gin. Just then the German's fiancee
reached us. Robertson introduced Harry and myself to her, and then said
good-bye. She stood there in the broiling Fijian sun with a dainty sunshade over her
face, looking so lovely and cool in her spotless muslin dress, and withal so
innocent, that I no longer wondered at the Dutchman's "chronic state of silly."
Allan the Stalwart stood by waiting for his dollar. The girl laughed joyously when
Harry the Canadian said he would be at the wedding and have a high time, and held
out her soft little hand as he bade her adieu and strolled off for another drink.
The moment Harry had gone Allan was a new man. Pulling off his straw hat, he
saluted her in Samoan, and then opened fire.
"There are many teine lalelei (beautiful girls) in the world, but there is none so
beautiful as thou. Only truth do I speak, for I have been to all countries of the
world. Ask him who is here -- our supercargo -- if I lie. O maid with the teeth of
pearl and face like Fetuao (the morning star), my stomach is drying up with the
fire of love."
The sunshade came a little lower, and the fingers played nervously with the ivory
handle. I leant against a coconut tree and listened.
"Thy name is Vaega. See that! How do I know? Aha, how do I? Because, for
two years or more, whenever I passed by the stone wall of the Sisters' dwelling in
Matafele, I climbed up and watched thee, O Star of the Morning, and I heard the
other girls call thee Vaega. Oho! and some night I meant to steal thee away."
(The rascal! He told me two days afterwards that the only time he ever climbed
the Mission wall was to steal mangoes.)
The sunshade was tilted back, and displayed two big, black eyes, luminous with
"And so thou hast left Samoa to come here to be devoured by this fat hog of a
Dutchman! Dost thou not know, O foolish, lovely one, that she who mates with a
Siamani (German) grows old in quite a little time, and thy face, which is now
smooth and fair, will be coarse as the rind of a half-ripe bread-fruit, because of
the foul food these swine of Germans eat?"
"Allan," I called, "here's the captain!"
There was a quick clasp of hands as the Stalwart One and the Maid hurriedly spoke
again, this time in a whisper, and then the white muslin floated away out of sight.
The captain was what he called "no' so dry" -- viz. half-seas over, and very jolly.
He told Allan he could have an hour to himself to buy what he wanted, and then
told me that the captain of a steam collier had promised to give us a tug out at
daylight. "I'm right for the wedding-feast after all," I thought.
But the wedding never came off. That night Oppermann, in a frantic state, was
tearing round Levuka hunting for his love, who had disappeared. At daylight, as the
collier steamed ahead and tautened our tow-line, we could see the parties of
searchers with torches scouring the beach. Our native sailors said they had heard
a scream about ten at night and seen the sharks splashing, and the white liars of
Levuka shook their heads and looked solemn as they told tales of monster sharks
with eight-foot jaws always cruising close in to the shore at night.
Three days afterwards Allan came to me with stolid face and asked for a bottle of
wine, as Vaega was very sea-sick. I gave him the wine, and threatened to tell the
captain. He laughed, and said he would fight any man, captain or no captain, who
meddled with him. And, as a matter of fact, he felt safe -- the skipper valued him
too much to bully him over the mere stealing of a woman. So the limp and sea-sick
Vaega was carried up out of the sweating foc'sle and given a cabin berth, and Allan
planked down two twenty-dollar pieces for her passage to the Union Group. When
she got better she sang rowdy songs, and laughed all day, and made fun of
the holy Sisters. And one day Allan beat her with a deal board because she sat
down on a band-box in the trade-room and ruined a hat belonging to a swell
official's wife in Apia. And she liked him all the better for it.
The fair Vaega was Mrs Allan for just six months, when his erratic fancy was
captivated by the daughter of Mauga, the chief of Tutuila, and an elopement
resulted to the mountains. The subsequent and inevitable parting made Samoa an
undesirable place of residence for Allan, who shipped as boatsteerer in the Niger
of New Bedford. As for Vaega, she drifted back to Apia, and there, right under the
shadow of the Mission Church, she flaunted her beauty. The last time I saw her
was in Charley the Russian's saloon, when she showed me a letter. It was from the
bereaved Oppermann, asking her to come back and marry him.
"Are you going?" I said.
"E pule le Atua (if God so wills), but he only sent me twenty dollars, and that
isn't half enough. However, there's an American man-of-war coming next week,
and these other girls will see then. I'll make the papalagi officers shell out. To fa,
The Revenge Of Macy O'Shea
A Story Of The Marquesas
TIKENA the Clubfooted guided me to an open spot in the jungle-growth, and, sitting
down on the butt of a twisted toa, indicated by a sweep of his tattooed arm the
lower course of what had once been the White Man's dwelling.
"Like unto himself was this, his house," he said, puffing a dirty clay pipe,
"square-built and strong. And the walls were of great blocks made of panisina --
of coral and lime and sand mixed together; and around each centre-post -- posts
that to lift one took the strength of fifty men -- was wound two thousand
fathoms of thin plaited cinnet, stained red and black. Apa! he was a great man
here in these motu (islands), although he fled from prison in your land; and when
he stepped on the beach the marks of the iron bands that had once been round his
ankles were yet red to the sight. There be none such as he in these days. But he is
now in Hell."
This was the long-deferred funeral oration of Macy O'Shea, sometime member of
the chain-gang of Port Arthur, in Van Dieman's Land, and subsequently
runaway convict, beachcomber, cutter-off of whaleships, and Gentleman of
Leisure in Eastern Polynesia. And of his many known crimes the deed done in this
isolated spot was the darkest of all. Judge of it yourself.
The arrowy shafts of sunrise had scarce pierced the deep gloom of the silent
forest ere the village woke to life. Right beside the thatch-covered dwelling of
Macy O'Shea, now a man of might, there towers a stately tamanu tree; and, as
the first faint murmur of women's voices arises from the native huts, there is a
responsive twittering and cooing in the thickly-leaved branches, and further back
in the forest the heavy, booming note of the red-crested pigeon sounds forth like
the beat of a muffled drum.
With slow, languid step, Sera, the wife of Macy O'Shea, comes to the open door
and looks out upon the placid lagoon, now just rippling beneath the first breath of
the trade-wind, and longs for courage to go out there -- there to the point of the
reef -- and spring over among the sharks. The girl -- she is hardly yet a woman --
shudders a moment and passes her white hand before her eyes, and then, with a
sudden gust of passion, the hand clenches. "I would kill him -- kill him, if there was
but a ship here in which I could get away! I would sell myself over and over again to
the worst whaler's crew that ever sailed the Pacific if it would bring me
freedom from this cruel, cold-blooded devil!"
A heavy tread on the matted floor of the inner room and her face pales to the hue
of death. But Macy O'Shea is somewhat shy of his two years' wife this morning,
and she hears the heavy steps recede as he walks over to his oil-shed. A flock of
gogo cast their shadow over the lagoon as they fly westward, and the woman's
eyes follow them -- "Kill him, yes. I am afraid to die, but not to kill. And I am a
stranger here, and if I ran a knife into his fat throat, these natives would make
me work in the taro-fields, unless one wanted me for himself." Then the heavy
step returns, and she slowly faces round to the blood-shot eyes and
drink-distorted face of the man she hates, and raises one hand to her lips to hide
a blue and swollen bruise.
The man throws his short, square-set figure on a rough native sofa, and, passing
one brawny hand meditatively over his stubbly chin, says, in a voice like the snarl
of a hungry wolf: "Here, I say, Sera, slew round; I want to talk to you, my beauty."
The pale, set face flushed and paled again. "What is it, Macy O'Shea?"
"Ho, ho, 'Macy O'Shea,' is it? Well, just this. Don't be a fool. I was a bit put about
last night, else I wouldn't have been so quick with my fist. Cut your lip, I see. Well,
you must forget it; any way, it's the first time I ever touched you. But you
ought to know by now that I am not a man to be trifled with; no man, let alone a
woman, is going to set a course for Macy O'Shea to steer by. And, to come to the
point at once, I want you to understand that Carl Ristow's daughter is coming
here. I want her, and that's all about it."
The woman laughed scornfully. "Yes, I know. That was why" -- she pointed to her
lips. "Have you no shame? I know you have no pity. But listen. I swear to you by
the Mother of Christ that I will kill her -- kill you, if you do this."
O'Shea's cruel mouth twitched and his jaws set, then he uttered a hoarse laugh.
"By God! Has it taken you two years to get jealous?"
A deadly hate gleamed in the dark, passionate eyes. "Jealous, Mother of God!
jealous of a drunken, licentious wretch such as you! I hate you -- hate you! If I had
courage enough I would poison myself to be free from you."
O'Shea's eyes emitted a dull sparkle. "I wish you would, damn you! Yet you are
game enough, you say, to kill me -- and Malia?"
"Yes. But not for love of you, but because of the white blood in me. I can't -- I
won't be degraded by you bringing another woman here."
"'Por Dios,' as your dad used to say before the devil took his soul, we'll see about
that, my beauty. I suppose because your father was a d----d garlic- eating,
ear-ringed Dago, and your mother a come-by-chance Tahiti half-caste, you think
he was as good as me."
"As good as you, O bloody-handed dog of an English convict. He was a man, and the
only wrong he ever did was to let me become wife to a devil like you."
The cruel eyes were close to hers now, and the rough, brawny hands gripped her
wrists. "You spiteful Portuguese quarter-bred ----! Call me a convict again, and I'll
twist your neck like a fowl's. You she-devil! I'd have made things easy for you --
but I won't now. Do you hear?" and the grip tightened. "Ristow's girl will be here
to-morrow, and if you don't knuckle down to her it'll be a case of 'Vamos' for you
-- you can go and get a husband among the natives," and he flung her aside and
went to the god that ran him closest for his soul, next to women -- his
O'Shea kept his word, for two days later Malia, the half-caste daughter of Ristow,
the trader at Ahunui, stepped from out her father's whaleboat in front of O'Shea's
house. The transaction was a perfectly legitimate one, and Malia did not allow any
inconvenient feeling of modesty to interfere with such a lucrative arrangement as
this, whereby her father became possessed of a tun of oil and a bag of Chilian
dollars, and she of much finery. In those days missionaries had not made much
head- way, and gentlemen like Messrs Ristow and O'Shea took all the wind
out of the Gospel drum.
And so Malia, dressed as a native girl, with painted cheeks and bare bosom, walked
demurely up from the boat to the purchaser of her sixteen-years'-old beauty,
who, with arms folded across his broad chest, stood in the middle of the path that
led from the beach to his door. And within, with set teeth and a knife in the bosom
of her blouse bodice, Sera panted with the lust of Hate and Revenge.
The bulky form of O'Shea darkened the door-way. "Sera," he called in English, with
a mocking, insulting inflection in his voice, "come here and welcome my new wife!"
Sera came, walking slowly, with a smile on her lips, and, holding out her left hand
to Malia, said in the native language, "Welcome!"
"Why," said O'Shea, with mocking jocularity, "that's a left-handed welcome, Sera."
"Aye," said the girl with the White Man's blood, "my right hand is for this" -- and
the knife sank home into Malia's yellow bosom. "A cold bosom for you to-night,
Macy O'Shea," she laughed, as the value of a tun of oil and a bag of Chilian dollars
gasped out its life upon the matted floor.
The native drum was beating. As the blood-quickening boom reverberated through
the village, the natives came out from their huts and gathered around the House
of the Old Men, where, with bound hands and feet, Sera, the White Man's wife, sat,
with her back to one of the centre-posts. And opposite her, sitting like a native on
a mat of kapau, was the burly figure of O'Shea, with the demon of disappointed
passion eating away his reason, and a mist of blood swimming before his eyes.
The people all detested her, especially the soft-voiced, slender-framed women. In
that one thing savages resemble Christians -- the deadly hatred with which some
women hate those of their sex whom they know to be better and more pure than
themselves. So the matter was decided quickly. Mesi -- so they called O'Shea --
should have justice. If he thought death, let it be death for this woman who had let
out the blood of his new wife. Only one man, Loloku the Boar Hunter, raised his
voice for her, because Sera had cured him of a bad wound when his leg had been
torn open by the tusk of a wild boar. But the dull glare from the eyes of O'Shea
fell on him, and he said no more. Then at a sign from the old men the people rose
from the mats, and two unbound the cords of afa from the girl, and led her
out into the square, and looked at O'Shea.
"Take her to the boat," he said.
Ristow's boat had been hauled up, turned over, and covered with the rough mats
called kapau to keep off the heat of the sun. With staggering feet, but undaunted
heart, the girl Sera was led down. Only once she turned her head and looked back.
Perhaps Loloku would try again. Then, as they came to the boat, a young girl, at a
sign from O'Shea, took off the loose blouse, and they placed her, face downwards,
across the bilge of the boat, and two pair of small, eager, brown hands each
seized one of hers and dragged the white, rounded arms well over the keel of the
boat. O'Shea walked round to that side, drawing through his hands the long, heavy,
and serrated tail of the fai -- the gigantic stinging-ray of Oceana. He would have
liked to wield it himself, but then he would have missed part of his revenge -- he
could not have seen her face. So he gave it to a native, and watched, with the
smile of a fiend, the white back turn black and then into bloody red as it was cut
to pieces with the tail of the fai.
The sight of the inanimate thing that had given no sign of its agony beyond the
shudderings and twitchings of torn and mutilated flesh was, perhaps, disappointing
to the tiger who stood and watched the dark stream that flowed down on
both sides of the boat. Loloku touched his arm -- "Mesi, stay thy hand. She is
"Ah," said O'Shea, "that would be a pity; for with one hand shall she live to plant
And, hatchet in hand, he walked in between the two brown women who held her
hands. They moved aside and let go. Then O'Shea swung his arm; the blade of the
hatchet struck into the planking, and the right hand of Sera fell on the sand.
A man put his arms around her, and lifted her off the boat. He placed his hand on
the blood-stained bosom and looked at Macy O'Shea.
"E mate!" he said.
The Rangers Of The Tia Kau
BETWEEN Nanomea and Nanomaga -- two of the Ellice Group -- but within a few
miles of the latter, is an extensive submerged shoal, on the charts called the
Grand Cocal Reef, but by the people of the two islands known as Tia Kau (The
Reef). On the shallowest part there are from four to ten fathoms of water, and
here in heavy weather the sea breaks. The British cruiser Basilisk, about 1870,
sought for the reef, but reported it as non-existent. Yet the Tia Kati is well
known to many a Yankee whaler and trading schooner, and is a favourite
fishing-ground of the people of Nanomaga -- when the sharks give them a chance.
One night Atupa, Chief of Nanomaga, caused a huge fire to be lit on the beach as a
signal to the people of Nanomea that a malaga, or party of voyagers, was coming
over. Both islands are low -- not more than fifteen feet above sea-level -- and are
distant from one another about thirty-eight miles. The following night the
reflection of the answering fire on Nanomea was seen, and Atupa prepared to
send away his people in seven canoes. They would start at sundown, so as to avoid
paddling in the heat (the Nanomagans have no sailing canoes), and be guided to
Nanomea, which they expected to reach early in the morning, by the far distant
glare of the great fires of coconut and pandanus leaves kindled at intervals of a
few hours. About seventy people were to go, and all that day the little village
busied itself in preparing for the Nanomeans gifts of foods -- cooked puraka,
fowls, pigs, and flying-fish.
Atupa, the heathen chief, was troubled in his mind in those days of August 1872.
The John Williams had touched at the island and landed a Samoan missionary, who
had pressed him to accept Christianity. Atupa, dreading a disturbing
element in his little community, had, at first, declined; but the ship had come
again, and the chief having consented to try the new religion, a teacher landed.
But since then he and his sub-chiefs had consulted the oracle, and had been told
that the shades of Maumau Tahori and Foilagi, their deified ancestors, had
answered that the new religion was unacceptable to them, and that the Samoan
teacher must be killed or sent away. And for this was Atupa sending off some of
his people to Nanomea with gifts of goodwill to the chiefs to beseech them to
consult their oracles also, so that the two islands might take concerted action
against this new foreign god, whose priests said that all men were equal, that all
were bad, and He and His Son alone good.
The night was calm when the seven canoes set out. Forty men and thirty women
and children were in the party, and the craft were too deeply laden for any but the
smoothest sea. On the ama (outrigger) of each canoe were the baskets of food
and bundles of mats for their hosts, and seated on these were the children, while
the women sat with the men and helped them to paddle. Two hours' quick paddling
brought them to the shoal-water of Tia Kau, and at the same moment they saw to
the N.W. the sky-glare of the first guiding fire.
It was then that the people in the first canoe, wherein was Palu, the
daughter of Atupa, called out to those behind to prepare their asu (balers), as a
heavy squall was coming down from the eastward. Then Laheu, an old warrior in
another canoe, cried out that they should return on their track a little and get
into deep water; "for," said he, "if we swamp, away from Tia Kau, it is but a little
thing, but here -- " and he clasped his hands rapidly together and then tore them
apart. They knew what he meant -- the sharks that, at night-time forsaking the
deep waters, patrolled in droves of thousands the shallow waters of the reef to
devour the turtle and the schools of tafau uli and other fish. In quick, alarmed
silence the people headed back, but even then the first fierce squall struck them,
and some of the frail canoes began to fill at once. "I matagi! i matagi! (head to
the wind)" a man called out; "head to the wind, or we perish! 'Tis but a puff and it
But it was more than a puff. The seven canoes, all abreast, were still in shallow
water, and the paddlers kept them dead in the teeth of the whistling wind and
stinging rain, and called out words of encouragement to one another and to the
women and children, as another black squall burst upon them and the curling seas
began to break. The canoe in which was Atupa's daughter was the largest and best
of all the seven, but was much overladen, and on the outrigger grating were
four children. These the chief's daughter was endeavouring to shield from the rain
by covering them with a mat, when one of them, a little girl, endeavoured to
steady herself by holding to one of the thin pieces of grating; it broke, and her
arm fell through and struck the water, and in an instant she gave a dull,
smothered wail. Palu, the woman, seized her by her hair and pulled the child up to a
sitting posture, and then shrieked with terror -- the girl's arm was gone.
And then in the blackness of night, lightened now by the white, seething, boiling
surge, the people saw in the phosphorescent water countless hundreds of the
savage terrors of the Tia Kau darting hither and thither amongst the canoes --
for the smell of blood had brought them together instantly. Presently a great grey
monster tore the paddle from out the hands of the steersman of the canoe
wherein were the terrified Palu and the four children, and then, before the man
for'ard could bring her head to the wind, she broached to and filled. Like ravening
wolves the sharks dashed upon their prey, and ere the people had time to give
more than a despairing cry, those hideous jaws and gleaming cruel teeth had
sealed their fate. Maddened with fear, the rest of the people threw everything out
of the six other canoes to lighten them, and as the bundles of mats and baskets
of food touched the water the sharks seized and bit, tore and swallowed.
Then, one by one, every paddle was grabbed from the hands of the paddlers, and
the canoes broached to and filled in that sea of death -- all save one, which was
carried by the force of the wind away from the rest. In this were the only
survivors -- two men.
The agony could not have lasted long. "Were I to live as long as he whom the
faifeau (missionary) tells us lived to be nine hundred and sixty and nine, I shall
hear the groans and cries and shrieks of that po malaia, that night of evil luck,"
said one of the two who lived, to Denison, the white trader at Nanomea. "Once did I
have my paddle fast in the mouth of a little devil, and it drew me backwards,
backwards, over the stern till my head touched the water. Tah! but I was strong
with fear, and held on, for to lose it meant death by the teeth. And Tulua -- he
who came out alive with me, seized my feet and held on, else had I gone. But look
thou at this" -- and he pointed to his scarred neck and back and shoulders "ere I
could free my foe (paddle) and raise my head, I was bitten thus by others. Ah,
Papalagi, some men are born to wisdom, but most are fools. Had not Atupa been
filled with vain fears, he had killed the man who caused him to lose so many of our
"So," said the white man, "and wouldst thou have killed the man who
brought thee the new faith? Fie!"
"Aye, that would I -- in those days when I was po uli uli. But not now, for I am
Christian. Yet had Atupa killed and buried the stranger, we could have lied and said
he died of a sickness when they of his people came to seek him. And then had I
now my son Tagipo with me, he who went into the bellies of the sharks at Tia Kau."
A Memory Of The Paumotus
I STAYED once at Rotoava -- in the Low Archipelago, Eastern Polynesia -- while
suffering from injuries received in a boat accident one wild night. My host, the
Rotoava trader, was a sociable old pirate, whose convivial soul would never let him
drink alone. He was by trade a boat-builder, having had, in his early days, a shed at
Miller's Point, in Sydney, where he made money and married a wife. But this latter
event was poor Tom Oscott's undoing, and in the end he took his chest of tools on
board the Thyra trading brig, and sailed away to Polynesia. Finally, after
many years' wandering, he settled down at Rotoava as a trader and boat-builder,
and became a noted drinker of bottled beer.
The only method by which I could avoid his incessant invitations to "have another"
was to get his wife and children to carry me down to his work-shed, built in a
lovely spot surrounded by giant puka trees. Here, under the shade, I had my mats
spread, and with one of his children sitting at my head to fan away the flies, I lay
and watched, through the belt of coconuts that lined the beach, the blue rollers
breaking on the reef and the snow-white boatswain-birds floating high overhead.
Tom was in the bush one morning when his family carried me to the boat-shed. He
had gone for a log of seasoned toa wood to another village. At noon he returned,
and I heard him bawling for me. His little daughter, the fly-brusher, gave an
answering yell, and then Tom walked down the path, carrying two bottles of beer;
behind him Lucia, his eldest daughter, a monstrous creature of giggles, adipose
tissue, and warm heart, with glasses and a plate of crackers; lastly, old Marie, the
wife, with a little table.
"By ----, you've a lot more sense'n me. It's better lyin' here in the cool, than foolin'
around in the sun; so I've brought yer suthin' to drink."
"Oh, Tom," I groaned, "I'm sure that beer's bad for me."
The Maker of Boats sat on his bench, and said that he knew of a brewer's carter in
Sydney who, at Merriman's "pub," on Miller's Point, had had a cask of beer roll
over him. Smashed seven ribs, one arm, and one thigh. Doctors gave him up;
undertaker's man called on his wife for coffin order but a sailor chap said he'd pull
him through. Got an indiarubber tube and made him suck up as much beer as he
could hold; kept it up till all his bones "setted" again, and he recovered. Why
shouldn't I -- if I only drank enough?
"Hurry up, old dark-skin!" -- this to the faded Marie. Uttering merely the word
"Hog!" she drew the cork. I had to drink some, and every hour or so Tom would say
it was very hot, and open yet another bottle. At last I escaped the beer by nearly
dying, and then the kind old fellow hurried away in his boat to Apatiki -- another
island of the group -- and came back with some bottles of claret, bought from the
French trader there. With him came two visitors -- a big half-caste of middle age,
and his wife, a girl of twenty or there-about. This was Edward Pallou and his wife
I was in the house when Tom returned, enjoying a long-denied smoke. Pallou and his
wife entered and greeted me. The man was a fine, well-set-up fellow, wiry
and muscular, with deep-set eyes, and bearing across his right cheek a heavy
scar. His wife was a sweet, dainty little creature with red lips, dazzling teeth,
hazel eyes, and long wavy hair. The first thing I noticed about her was, that
instead of squatting on a mat in native fashion, she sank into a wide chair, and
lying back enquired, with a pleasant smile and in perfect English, whether I was
feeling any better. She was very fair, even for a Paumotuan half-caste, as I
thought she must be, and I said to Pallou, "Why, any one would take your wife to
be an Englishwoman!"
"Not I," said Taloi, with a rippling laugh, as she commenced to make a banana-leaf
cigarette; "I am a full-blooded South Sea Islander. I belong to Apatiki, and was born
there. Perhaps I have white blood in me. Who knows? -- only my wise mother. But
when I was twelve years old I was adopted by a gentleman in Papeite, and he sent
me to Sydney to school. Do you know Sydney? Well, I was three years with the
Misses F----, in ---- Street. My goodness! I was glad to leave -- and so were the
Misses F---- to see me go. They said I was downright wicked, because one day I
tore the dress off a girl who said my skin was tallowy, like my name. When I came
back to Tahiti my guardian took me to Raiatea, where he had a business, and said I
must marry him, the beast!"
"Oh, shut up, Taoi!" growled the deep-voiced Pallou, who sat beside me.
"What the deuce does this man care about your doings?"
"Shut up yourself, you brute! Can't I talk to any one I like, you turtle-headed fool?
Am I not a good wife to you, you great, over-grown savage? Won't you let a poor
devil of a woman talk a little? Look here, Tom, do you see that flash jacket he's
wearing? Well, I sat up two nights making that -- for him to come over here with,
and show off before the Rotoava girls. Go and die, you ----!"
The big half-caste looked at Tom and then at me. His lips twitched with
suppressed passion, and a dangerous gleam shone a moment in his dark eyes.
"Here, I say, Taloi," broke in Tom, good-humouredly, "just go easy a bit with Ted.
As for him a-looking at any of the girls here, I knows better -- and so do you."
Taloi's laugh, clear as the note of a bird, answered him, and then she said she was
sorry, and the lines around Pallou's rigid mouth softened down. It was easy to see
that this grim half-white loved, for all her bitter tongue, the bright creature who
sat in the big chair.
Presently Taloi and Lucia went out to bathe, and Pallou remained with me. Tom
joined us, and for a while no one spoke. Then the trader, laying down his pipe on
the table, drew his seat closer, and commenced, in low tones, a conversation in
Tahitian with Pallou. From the earnest manner of old Tom and the sullen
gloom that overspread Pallou's face, I could discern that some anxiety possessed
At last Tom addressed me. "Look here, ----, Ted here is in a mess, and we've just
been a-talkin' of it over, and he says perhaps you'll do what you can for him."
The half-caste turned his dark eyes on me and looked intently into mine.
"What is it, Tom?"
"Well, you see, it come about this way. You heard this chap's missus -- Taloi --
a-talkin' about the Frenchman that wanted to marry her. He had chartered a little
schooner in Papeite to go to Raiatea. Pallou here was mate, and, o' course, he
being from the same part of the group as Taloi, she ups and tells him that the
Frenchman wanted to marry her straightaway; and then I s'pose, the two gets a
bit chummy, and Pallou tells her that if she didn't want the man he'd see as how
she wasn't forced agin' her will. So when the vessel gets to Raiatea it fell calm,
just about sunset. The Frenchman was in a hurry to get ashore, and tells his
skipper to put two men in the boat and some grub, as he meant to pull ashore to
his station. So they put the boat over the side, and Frenchy and Taoi and Pallou
and two native chaps gets in and pulls for the land.
"They gets inside Uturoa about midnight. 'Jump out,' says the Frenchman to
Taloi as soon as the boat touches the beach; but the girl wouldn't, but ties herself
up around Pallou and squeals. 'Sakker!' says the Frenchy, and he grabs her by the
hair and tries to tear her away. ''Ere, stop that,' says Pallou; 'the girl ain't willin','
an' he pushes Frenchy away. 'Sakker!' again, and Frenchy whips out his pistol and
nearly blows Pallou's face off'n him; and then, afore he knows how it was done,
Ted sends his knife chunk home into the other fellow's throat. The two native
sailors runned away ashore, and Pallou and Taloi takes the oars and pulls out again
until they drops. Then a breeze comes along, and they up stick and sails away and
gets clear o' the group, and brings up, after a lot of sufferin', at Rurutu. And ever
since then there's been a French gunboat a-lookin' for Pallou, and he's been hidin'
at Apatiki for nigh on a twelvemonth, and has come over here now to see if, when
your ship comes back, you can't give him and his missus a passage away
somewhere to the westward, out o' the run of that there gunboat, the Vaudreuil."
I promised I would "work it" with the captain, and Pallou put out his brawny hand --
the hand that "drove it home into Frenchy's throat" -- and grasped mine in
silence. Then he lifted his jacket and showed me his money-belt, filled.
"I don't want money," I said. "If you have told me the whole story, I would
help any man in such a fix as you." And then Taloi, fresh from her bath, came in
and sat down on the mat, whilst fat Lucia combed and dressed her glossy hair and
placed therein scarlet hisbiscus flowers; and to show her returned good temper,
she took from her lips the cigarette she was smoking, and offered it to the grim
A month later we all three left Rotoava, and Pallou and Taloi went ashore at one of
the Hervey Group, where I gave him charge of a station with a small stock of
trade, and we sailed away east-ward to Pitcairn and Easter Islands.
Pallou did a good business, and was well liked; and some seven months afterwards,
when we were at Maga Reva, in the Gambier Group, I got a letter from him.
"Business goes well," he wrote, "but Taloi is ill; I think she will die. You will find
everything square, though, when you come."
But I was never to see that particular island again, as the firm sent another
vessel in place of ours to get Pallou's produce. When the captain and the
supercargo went ashore, a white trader met them, with a roll of papers in his
"Pallou's stock-list," he said.
"Why, where is he? gone away?"
"No, he's here still; planted alongside his missus."
"Yes. A few months after he arrived here, that pretty little wife of his died.
He came to me, and asked if I would come and take stock with him. I said he
seemed in a bit of a hurry to start stocktaking before the poor thing was buried;
but anyhow, I went, and we took stock, and he counted his cash, and asked me to
lock the place up if anything happened to him. Then we had a drink, and he bade me
good-day, and said he was going to sit with Taloi awhile, before they took her
away. He sent the native women out of the bedroom, and the next minute I heard a
shot. He'd done it, right enough. Right through his brain, poor chap. I can tell you
he thought a lot of that girl of his. There's the two graves, over there by that
fetau tree. Here's his stock-list and bag of cash and keys. Would you mind giving
me that pair of rubber sea-boots he left?"
A Basket Of Bread-Fruit
IT was in Steinberger's time. A trader had come up to Apia in his boat from the
end of Savaii, the largest of the Samoan Group, and was on his way home again,
when the falling tide caused him to stop awhile at Mulinu'u Point, about two miles
from Apia. Here he designed to smoke and talk, and drink kava at the great
camp with some hospitable native acquaintances, during the rising of the water.
Soon he was taking his ease on a soft mat, watching the bevy of aua luma making
a bowl of kava.
Now this trader lived at Falealupo, at the extreme westerly end of Savaii; but the
Samoans, by reason of its isolation and extremity, have for ages called it by
another name -- an unprintable one -- and so some of the people present began to
jest with the trader for living in such a place. He fell in with their humour, and said
that if those present would find for him a wife, a girl unseared by the breath of
scandal, he would leave Falealupo for Safune, where he had bought land.
"Malie!" said an old dame, with one eye and white hair, "the papalagi is inspired to
speak wisdom to-night; for at Safune grow the sweetest nuts and the biggest taro
and bread-fruit; and lo! here among the kava-chewers is a young maid from Safune
-- mine own grand-daughter Salome. And against her name can no one in Samoa
laugh in the hollow of his hand," and the old creature, amid laughter and cries of
Isa! e le ma le lo matua (The old woman is without shame), crept over to the
trader, and, with one skinny hand on his knee, gazed steadily into his face with her
The trader looked at the girl -- at Salome. She had, at her grandmother's speech,
turned her head aside, and taking the "chaw" of kava-root from her pretty
mouth, dissolved into shame-faced tears. The trader was a man of quick
perceptions, and he made up his mind to do in earnest what he had said in jest --
this because of the tears of Salome. He quickly whispered to the old woman,
"Come to the boat before the full of the tide, and we will talk."
When the kava was ready for drinking the others present had forgotten all about
the old woman and Salome, who had both crept away unobserved, and an hour or
two was passed in merriment, for the trader was a man well liked. Then, when he
rose and said to fa, they begged him not to attempt to pass down in his boat
inside the reef, as he was sure to be fired upon, for how were their people to tell a
friend from an enemy in the black night? But the white man smiled, and said his
boat was too heavily laden to face the ocean swell. So they bade him to fa, and
called out manuia oe! as he lifted the door of thatch and went.
The old woman awaited him, holding the girl by the hand. On the ground lay a
basket strongly tied up. Salome still wept, but the old woman angrily bade her
cease and enter the boat, which the crew had now pushed bow-on to the beach.
The old woman lifted the basket and carefully put it on board.
"Be sure," she said to the crew, "not to sit on it for it is very ripe
bread-fruit that I am taking to my people in Manono."
"Give them here to me," said the trader, and he put the basket in the stern out of
the way. The old woman came aft, too, and crouched at his feet and smoked a
sului. The cool land-breeze freshened as the sail was hoisted, and then the crew
besought the trader not to run down inside the reef. Bullets, they said, if fired in
plenty, always hit something, and the sea was fairly smooth outside the reef. And
old Lupetea grasped his hand and muttered in his ear, "For the sake of this my
little daughter go outside. See, now, I am old, and to lie when so near death as I am
is foolish. Be warned by me and be wise; sail out into the ocean, and at daylight we
shall be at Salua in Manono. Then thou canst set my feet on the shore -- I and the
basket. But the girl shall go with thee. Thou canst marry her, if that be to thy
mind, in the fashion of the papalagi, or take her fa'a Samoa. Thus will I keep
faith with thee. If the girl be false, her neck is but little and thy fingers strong."
Now the trader thought in this wise: "This is well for me, for if I get the girl away
thus quietly from all her relations I shall save much in presents," and his heart
rejoiced, for although not mean he was a careful man. So he steered his
boat seaward, between the seething surf that boiled and hissed on both sides of
the boat passage.
As the boat sailed past the misty line of cloud-capped Upolu, the trader lifted the
girl up beside him and spoke to her. She was not afraid of him, she said, for many
had told her he was a good man, and not an ula vale (scamp), but she wept
because now, save her old grandmother, all her kinsfolk were dead. Even but a day
and a half ago her one brother was killed with her cousin. They were strong men,
but the bullets were swift, and so they died. And their heads had been shown at
Matautu. For that she had grieved and wept and eaten nothing, and the world was
cold and dark to her.
"Poor little devil!" said the trader to himself -- "hungry." Then he opened a locker
and found a tin of sardines. Not a scrap of biscuit. There was plenty of biscuit,
though, in the boat, in fifty-pound tins, but on these mats were spread, where-on
his crew were sleeping. He was about to rouse them when he remembered the old
dame's basket of ripe bread-fruit. He laughed and looked at her. She, too, slept,
coiled up at his feet. But first he opened the sardines and placed them beside the
girl, and motioned her to steer. Her eyes gleamed like diamonds in the darkness as
she answered his glance, and her soft fingers grasped the tiller. Very
quickly, then, he felt among the packages aft till he came to the basket.
A quick stroke of his knife cut the cinnet that lashed the sides together. He felt
inside. "Only two, after all, but big ones, and no mistake. Wrapped in cloth, too! I
wonder -- Hell and Furies! what's this?" -- as his fingers came in contact with
something that felt like a human eye. Drawing his hand quickly back, he fumbled in
his pockets for a match, and struck it. Bread-fruit! No. Two heads with closed
eyes and livid lips blue with the pallor of death, showing their white teeth. And
Salome covered her face and slid down in the bottom of the boat again, and wept
afresh for her cousin and brother, and the boat came up in the wind, but no one
The trader was angry. But after he had tied up the basket again he put the boat
on her course once more and called to the girl. She crept close to him and nestled
under his overcoat, for the morning air came across the sea from the dew-laden
forests, and she was chilled. Then she told the story of how her granddam had
begged the heads from those of Malietoa's troops who had taken them at Matautu,
and then gone to the camp at Mulinu'u in the hope of getting a passage in some
boat to Manono, her country, where she would fain bury them. And that night he
had come, and old Lupetea had rejoiced, and sworn her to secrecy about the
heads in the basket. And that also was why Lupetea was afraid of the boat going
down inside the passage, for there were many enemies to be met with, and they
would have shot old Lupetea because she was of Manono. That was all. Then she
ate the sardines, and, leaning her head against the trader's bosom, fell asleep.
As the first note of the great grey pigeon sounded the dawn, the trader's boat
sailed softly up to the Salua beach, and old Lupetea rose, and, bidding the crew
good-bye, and calling down blessings on the head of the good and clever white man,
as she rubbed his and the girl's noses against her own, she grasped her Basket of
Bread-fruit and went ashore. Then the trader, with Salome nestling to his side,
sailed out again into the ocean towards his home.
THE two ghastly creatures sat facing each other in their wordless misery as the
wind died away and the tattered remnants of the sail hung motionless after a last
faint flutter. The Thing that sat aft -- for surely so grotesquely horrible a vision
could not be a Man -- pointed with hands like the talons of a bird of prey to the
purple outline of the island in the west, and his black, blood-baked lips
moved, opened, and essayed to speak. The other being that, with bare and skinny
arms clasped around its bony knees, sat crouched in the bottom of the boat,
leaned forward to listen.
"Ducie Island, Enderby," said the first in a hoarse, rattling whisper; "no one on it;
but water is there . . . and plenty of birds and turtle, and a few coconuts."
At the word "water" the listener gave a curious gibbering chuckle, unclasped his
hands from his knees, and crept further towards the speaker.
"And the current is setting us down to it, wind or no wind. I believe we'll see this
pleasure-trip through, after all" -- and the black lips parted in a hideous grimace.
The man whom he called Enderby sank his head again upon his knees, and his dulled
and bloodshot eyes rested on something that lay at the captain's feet -- the
figure of a woman enveloped from her shoulders down in a ragged native mat. For
some hours past she had lain thus, with the grey shadows of coming dissolution
hovering about her pallid face, and only the faintest movement of lips and eyelids
to show that she still lived.
The black-whiskered man who steered looked down for a second upon the face
beneath him with the unconcern for others born of the agony of thirst and
despair, and again his gaunt face turned to the land. Yet she was his wife,
and not six weeks back he had experienced a cold sort of satisfaction in the
possession of so much beauty.
He remembered that day now. Enderby, the passenger from Sydney, and he were
walking the poop; his wife was asleep in a deck-chair on the other side. An open
book lay in her lap. As the two men passed and re-passed her, the one noted that
the other would glance in undisguised and honest admiration at the figure in the
chair. And Enderby, who was as open as the day, had said to him, Langton, that
the sleeping Mrs Langton made as beautiful a picture as he had ever seen.
The sail stirred, filled out, and then drooped again, and the two spectres, with the
sleeping woman between, still sat with their hungry eyes gazing over toward the
land. As the sun sank, the outlines of the verdure-clad summits and beetling cliffs
stood forth clearly for a short minute or two, as if to mock them with hope, and
then became enshrouded in the tenebrous night.
Another hour, and a faint sigh came from the ragged mat. Enderby, for ever on
the watch, had first seen a white hand silhouetted against the blackness of the
covering, and knew that she was still alive. And as he was about to call Langton,
who lay in the stern-sheets muttering in hideous dreams, he heard the woman's
voice calling him. With panting breath and trembling limbs he crawled over
beside her and gently touched her hand.
"Thank God, you are alive, Mrs Langton. Shall I wake Captain Langton? We must be
nearing the land."
"No, don't. Let him sleep. But I called you, Mr Enderby, to lift me up. I want to see
where the rain is coming from."
Enderby groaned in anguish of spirit. "Rain? God has forgotten us, I ----," and then
he stopped in shame at betraying his weakness before a woman.
The soft, tender tones again -- "Ah, do help me up, please, I can feel the rain is
near." Then the man, with hot tears of mingled weakness and pity coursing down
his cheeks, raised her up.
"Why, there it is, Mr Enderby -- and the land as well! And it's a heavy squall, too,"
and she pointed to a moving, inky mass that half concealed the black shadow of
the island. "Quick, take my mat; one end of it is tight and will hold water."
"Langton, La-a-ngton! Here's a rain squall coming!" and Enderby pressed the
woman's hand to his lips and kissed it again and again. Then with eager hands he
took the mat from her, and staggering forward to the bows stretched the sound
end across and bellied it down. And then the moving mass that was once black, and
was now white, swept down upon them, and brought them life and joy.
Langton, with an empty beef-tin in his hand, stumbled over his wife's figure,
plunged the vessel into the water and drank again and again.
"Curse you, you brute!" shouted Enderby through the wild noise of the hissing rain,
"where is your wife? Are you going to let her lie there without a drink?"
Langton answered not, but drank once more. Then Enderby, with an oath, tore the
tin from his hand, filled it and took it to her, holding her up while she drank. And as
her eyes looked gratefully into his while he placed her tenderly back in the
stern-sheets, the madness of a moment overpowered him, and he kissed her on
Concerned only with the nectar in the mat, Langton took no regard of Enderby as
he opened the little locker, pulled out a coarse dungaree jumper, and wrapped it
round the thinly-clad and drenched figure of the woman.
She was weeping now, partly from the joy of knowing that she was not to die of
the agonies of thirst in an open boat in mid-Pacific, and partly because the water
had given her strength to remember that Langton had cursed her when he had
stumbled over her to get at the water in the mat.
She had married him because of his handsome face and dashing manner for one
reason, and because her pious Scotch father, also a Sydney-Tahitian trading
captain, had pointed out to her that Langton had made and was still making money
in the island trade. Her ideal of a happy life was to have her husband leave the sea
and buy an estate either in Tahiti or Chili. She knew both countries well: the first
was her birthplace, and between there and Valparaiso and Sydney her
money-grubbing old father had traded for years, always carrying with him his one
daughter, whose beauty the old man regarded as a "vara vain thing," but likely to
procure him a "weel-to-do mon" for a son-in-law.
Mrs Langton cared for her husband in a prosaic sort of way, but she knew no more
of his inner nature and latent utter selfishness a year after her marriage than
she had known a year before. Yet, because of the strain of dark blood in her veins
-- her mother was a Tahitian half-caste -- she felt the mastery of his savage
resolution in the face of danger in the thirteen days of horror that had elapsed
since the brigantine crashed on an uncharted reef between Pitcairn and Ducie
Islands, and the other boat had parted company with them, taking most of the
provisions and water. And to hard, callous natures such as Langton's women yield
easily and admire -- which is better, perhaps, than loving, for both.
But that savage curse still sounded in her ears, and unconsciously made her think
of Enderby, who had always, ever since the eighth day in the boat, given her
half his share of water. Little did she know the agony it cost him the day before
when the water had given out, to bring her the whole of his allowance. And as she
drank, the man's heart had beaten with a dull sense of pity, the while his baser
nature called out, "Fool! it is his place, not yours, to suffer for her."
At daylight the boat was close in to the land, and Langton, in his cool, cynical
fashion, told his wife and Enderby to finish up the last of the meat and biscuit --
for if they capsized getting through into the lagoon, he said, they would never
want any more. He had eaten all he wanted unknown to the others, and looked with
an unmoved face at Enderby soaking some biscuit in the tin for his wife. Then,
with the ragged sail fluttering to the wind, Langton headed the boat through the
passage into the glassy waters of the lagoon, and the two tottering men, leading
the woman between them, sought the shelter of a thicket scrub, impenetrable to
the rays of the sun, and slept. And then for a week Enderby went and scoured the
reefs for food for her.
One day at noon Enderby awoke. The woman still slept heavily, the first sign of
returning strength showing as a faint tinge in the pallor of her cheek. Langton was
gone. A sudden chill passed over him -- had Langton taken the boat and left them
to die on lonely Ducie? With hasty step Enderby hurried to the beach. The
boat was there, safe. And at the farther end of the beach he saw Langton, sitting
on the sand, eating.
"Selfish brute!" muttered Enderby. "I wonder what he's got?" just then he saw,
close overhead, a huge ripe pandanus, and, picking up a heavy, flat piece of coral,
he tried to ascend the triplicated bole of the tree and hammer off some of the
fruit. Langton looked up at him, and showed his white teeth in a mocking smile at
the futile effort. Enderby walked over to him, stone in hand. He was not a
vindictive man, but he had grown to hate Langton fiercely during the past week for
his selfish neglect of his wife. And here was the fellow. gorging himself on
turtle-eggs, and his tender, delicate wife living on shell-fish and pandanus.
"Langton," he said, speaking thickly and pretending not to notice the remainder of
the eggs, "the tide is out, and we may get a turtle in one of the pools if you come
with me. Mrs Langton needs something better than that infernal pandanus fruit.
Her lips are quite sore and bleeding from eating it."
The Inner Nature came out. "Are they? My wife's lips seem to give you a very
great deal of concern. She has not said anything to me. And I have an idea----" the
look in Enderby's face shamed into silence the slander he was about to
utter. Then he added coolly -- "But as for going with you after a turtle, thanks, I
won't. I've found a nest here, and have had a good square feed. If the cursed
man-o'-war hawks and boobies hadn't been here before me I'd have got the whole
lot." Then he tore the skin off another egg with his teeth.
With a curious guttural voice Enderby asked -- "How many eggs were left?"
"Thirty or so -- perhaps forty."
"And you have eaten all but those?" -- pointing with savage contempt to five of
the round, white balls; "give me those for your wife."
"My dear man, Louise has too much Island blood in her not to be able to do better
than I -- or you -- in a case like ours. And as you have kindly constituted yourself
her providore, you had better go and look for a nest yourself."
"You dog!" -- and the sharp-edged coral stone crashed into his brain.
When Enderby returned, he found Mrs Langton sitting up on the creeper-covered
mound that over-looked the beach where he had left Langton.
"Come away from here," he said, "into the shade. I have found a few turtle-eggs."
They walked back a little and sat down. But for the wild riot in his brain, Enderby
would have noted that every vestige of colour had left her face.
"You must be hungry," he thought he was saying to her, and he placed the
white objects in her lap.
She turned them slowly over and over in her hands, and then dropped them with a
shudder. Some were flecked with red.
"For God's sake," the man cried, "tell me what you know!"
"I saw it all," she answered.
"I swear to you, Mrs Lan----" (the name stuck in his throat) "I never meant it. As
God is my witness, I swear it. If we ever escape from here I will give myself up to
justice as a murderer."
The woman, with hands spread over her face, shook her head from side to side
and sobbed. Then she spoke. "I thought I loved him, once. . . . Yet it was for me . .
. and you saved my life over and over again in the boat. All sinners are forgiven we
are told. . . . Why should not you be? . . . and it was for me you did it. And I won't
let you give yourself up to justice or any one. I'll say he died in the boat." And then
the laughter of hysterics.
When, some months later, the Josephine, whaler, of New London, picked them up
on her way to Japan, vi‰ the Carolines and Pelews, the captain satisfactorily
answered the query made by Enderby if he could marry them. He "rayther thought
he could. A man who was used ter ketchin' and killin'whales, the powerfullest
creature of Almighty Gawd's creation, was ekal to marryin' a pair of
unfortunit human beans in sich a pre-carus situation as theirs."
And, by the irony of fate, the Enderbys (that isn't their name) are now living in a
group of islands where there's quite a trade done in turtle, and whenever a ship's
captain comes to dine with them they never have the local dish -- turtle eggs --
for dinner. "We see them so often," Enderby explains, "and my wife is quite tired
Long Charley's Good Little Wife
THERE was the island, only ten miles away, and there it had been for a whole week.
Sometimes we had got near enough to see Long Charley's house and the figures of
natives walking on the yellow beach; and then the westerly current would set us
away to leeward again. But that night a squall came up, and in half an hour we were
running down to the land. When the lights on the beach showed up we hove-to until
daylight, and then found the surf too heavy to let us land.
We got in close to the reef, and could see that the trader's copra-house was full,
for there were also hundreds of bags outside, awaiting our boats. It was
clearly worth staying for. The trader, a tall, thin, pyjama-clad man, came down to
the water's edge, waved his long arm, and then turned back and sat down on a bag
of copra. We went about and passed the village again, and once more the long man
came to the water's edge, waved his arm, and retired to his seat.
In the afternoon we saw a native and Charley together among the bags; then the
native left him, and, as it was now low tide, the kanaka was able to walk to the
edge of the reef, where he signalled to us. Seeing that he meant to swim off, the
skipper went in as close as possible, and backed his foreyard. Watching his chance
for a lull in the yet fierce breakers, the native slid over the reef and swam out to
us as only a Line Islander or a Tokelau man can swim.
"How's Charley?" we asked, when the dark man reached the deck.
"Who? Charley? Oh, he fine, plenty copra. Tapa my bowels are filled with the sea
-- for one dollar! Here ariki vaka (captain) and you tuhi tuhi (supercargo)," said
the native, removing from his perforated and pendulous ear-lobe a little roll of
leaf, "take this letter from the mean man that giveth but a dollar for facing such
a galu (surf). Hast plenty tobacco on board, friends of my heart? Apa, the surf!
Not a canoe crew could the white man get to face it. Is it good twist
tobacco, friends, or the flat cakes? Know that I am a man of Nanomea, not one of
these dog-eating people here, and a strong swimmer, else the letter had not
The supercargo took the note. It was rolled up in many thicknesses of banana-leaf,
which had kept it dry --
"DEAR FRIENDS, -- I have Been waiting for you for near 5 months. I am Chock full of
Cobberah and Shark Fins one Ton. I am near Starved Out, No Biscit, no Beef, no flour,
not Enything to Eat. for god's Saik send me a case of Gin ashore if you Don't mean to
Hang on till the sea goes Down or I shall Starve. Not a Woman comes Near me because I
am Run out of Traid, so please try also to Send a Peece of Good print, as there are some
fine Women here from Nukunau, and I think I can get one for a wife if I am smart. If
you Can't take my Cobberah, and mean to Go away, send the Squair face, for god's saik,
and something for the Woman, -- Your obliged Friend, CHARLES."
We parcelled a bottle of gin round with a small coir line, and sent it ashore by the
Nanomea man. Charley and a number of natives came to the edge of the reef to
lend a hand in landing the bearer of the treasure. Then they all waded back to the
beach, headed by the white man in the dirty pyjamas and sodden-looking fala hat.
Reaching his house, he turned his following away, and shut the door.
"I bet a dollar that fellow wouldn't swap billets with the angel Gabriel at this
partikler moment," said our profane mate thoughtfully.
We started weighing and shipping the copra next day. After finishing up, the
solemn Charley invited the skipper and supercargo to remain ashore till morning.
His great trouble, he told us, was that he had not yet secured a wife, "a reg'lar
wife, y'know." He had, unluckily, "lost the run" of the last Mrs Charley during his
absence at another island of the group, and negotiations with various local young
women had been broken off owing to his having run out of trade. In the South
Seas, as in the civilised world generally, to get the girl of your heart is usually a
mere matter of trade. There were, he told us with a melancholy look, "some fine
Nukunau girls here on a visit, but the one I want don't seem to care much about
stayin', unless all this new trade fetches her."
"Who is she?" enquired the skipper.
"Let's have a look at her," said the skipper, a man of kind impulses, who felt sorry
at the intermittency of the Long One's connubial relations. The tall, scraggy
trader shambled to the door and bawled out: "Tibakwa, Tibakwa, Tibakwa, O!"
The people, singing in the big moniep or town-house, stopped their monotonous
droning, and the name of Tibakwa, was yelled vociferously through-out the
village in true Gilbert Group style. In the Gilberts, if a native in one corner of a
house speaks to another in the opposite, he bawls loud enough to be heard a mile
Tibakwa (The Shark) was a short, squat fellow, with his broad back and chest
scored and seamed with an intricate and inartistic network of cicatrices made by
sharks' teeth swords. His hair, straight, coarse, and jet-black, was cut away
square from just above his eyebrows to the top of his ears, leaving his fierce
countenance in a sort of frame. Each ear-lobe bore a load -- one had two or three
sticks of tobacco, twined in and about the distended circle of flesh, and the other
a clasp-knife and wooden pipe. Stripped to the waist he showed his muscular
outlines to perfection, and he sat down unasked in the bold, self-confident,
half-defiant manner natural to the Line Islander.
"Where's Tirau?" asked the trader.
"Here," said the man of wounds, pointing outside, and he called out in a voice like
the bellow of a bull -- "Tirau O, nako mai! (Come here!)"
Tirau came in timidly, clothed only in an airiri or girdle, and slunk into a far corner.
The melancholy trader and the father pulled her out, and she dumped herself down
in the middle of the room with a muttered "E puak&acaron;k&acaron; te
malan! (Bad white man)."
"Fine girl, Charley," said the skipper, digging him in the ribs. "Ought to suit you,
eh! Make a good little wife."
Negotiations then began anew. Father willing to part, girl frightened -- commenced
to cry. The astute Charley brought out some new trade. Tirau's eye here displayed
a faint interest. Charley threw her, with the air of a prince, a whole piece of
turkey twill, 12 yards -- value three dollars, cost about 2s. 3d. Tirau put out a
little hand and drew it gingerly toward her. Tibakwa gave us an atrocious wink.
"She's cottoned!" exclaimed Charley.
And thus, without empty and hollow display, were two loving hearts made to beat
as one. As a practical proof of the solemnity of the occasion, the bridegroom then
and there gave Tirau his bunch of keys, which she carefully tied to a strand of her
airiri, and, smoking one of the captain's Manillas, she proceeded to bash out the
mosquitoes from the nuptial couch with a fan. We assisted her, an hour
afterwards, to hoist the sleeping body of Long Charley therein, and, telling her to
bathe his head in the morning with cold water, we rose to go.
"Good-bye, Tirau!" we said.
"Tiakapo", said the good Little Wife, as she rolled up an empty square gin
bottle in one of Charley's shirts for a pillow, and disposed her graceful figure on
the matted floor beside his bed, to fight mosquitoes until daylight.
The Methodical Mr Burr Of Maduro
ONE day Ned Burr, a fellow trader, walked slowly up the path to my station, and
with a friendly nod sat down and watched intently as, with native assistance, I set
about salting some pork. Ned lived thirty miles from my place, on a little island at
the entrance to the lagoon. He was a prosperous man, and only drank under the
pressure of the monotony caused by the non-arrival of a ship to buy his produce.
He would then close his store, and, aided by a number of friendly male natives,
start on a case of gin. But never a woman went into Ned's house, though many
visited the store, where Ned bought their produce, paid for it in trade or cash, and
sent them off, after treating them on a strictly business basis.
Now, the Marshall Island women much resented this. Since Ned's wife had died, ten
years previously, the women, backed by the chiefs, had made most decided,
but withal diplomatic, assaults upon his celibacy. The old men of his village had
respectfully and repeatedly reminded him that his state of singleness was not a
direct slight to themselves as leading men alone. If he refused to marry again he
surely would not cast such a reflection upon the personal characters of some two
or three hundred young girls as to refuse a few of them the position of honorary
wives pro tem., or until he found one whom he might think worthy of higher
honours. But the slow-thinking, methodical trader only opened a bottle of gin, gave
them fair words and a drink all round, and absolutely declined to open any sort of
"I'm come to hev some talk with you when you've finished saltin'," he said, as he
rose and meditatively prodded a junk of meat with his forefinger.
"Right, old man," I said. "I'll come now," and we went into the big room and sat
"Air ye game ter come and see me get married?" he asked, looking away past me,
through the open door, to where the surf thundered and tumbled on the outer
"Ned," I said solemnly, "I know you don't joke, so you must mean it. Of course I
will. I'm sure all of us fellows will be delighted to hear you're going to get some nice
little carajz to lighten up that big house of yours over there. Who's the girl,
"Whew!" I said, "why, she's the daughter of the biggest chief on Arhnu. I didn't
think any white man could get her, even if he gave her people a boat-load of dollars
as a wedding-gift."
"Well, no," said Ned, stroking his beard meditatively, "I suppose I should feel a bit
set up; but two years ago her people said that, because I stood to them in the
matter of some rifles when they had trouble with King Jibberick, I could take her.
She was rather young then, any way; but I've been over to Arhnu several times,
and I've had spies out, and damn me if I ever could hear a whisper agin' her. I'm
told for sure that her father and uncles would ha' killed any one that came after
her. So I'm a-goin' to take her and chance it."
"Ned," I said, "you know your own affairs and these people better than I do. Yet
are you really going to pin your faith on a Marshall Island girl? You are not like any
of us traders. You see, we know what to expect sometimes, and our morals are a
lot worse than those of the natives. And it doesn't harrow our feelings much if
any one of us has to divorce a wife and get another; it only means a lot of new
dresses and some guzzling, drinking, and speechifying, and some bother in
teaching the new wife how to make bread. But your wife that died was a Manhikian
-- another kind. They don't breed that sort here in the Marshalls. Think of it
twice, Ned, before you marry her."
The girl was a beauty. There are many like her in that far-away cluster of coral
atolls. That she was a chief's child it was easy to see; the abject manner in which
the commoner natives always behaved themselves in her presence showed their
respect for Le-jennabon. Of course we all got very jolly. There were half a dozen
of us traders there, and we were, for a wonder, all on friendly terms. Le-jennabon
sat on a fine mat in the big room, and in a sweetly dignified manner received the
wedding-gifts. One of our number, Charlie de Buis, though in a state of chronic
poverty, induced by steadfast adherence to square gin at five dollars a case,
made his offerings -- a gold locket covering a woman's miniature, a heavy gold
ring, and a pair of fat, cross-bred Muscovy ducks. The bride accepted them with a
"Who is this?" she asked, looking at the portrait -- "your white wife?" "No,"
replied the bashful Charles, "another man's. That's why I give it away, curse her!
But the ducks I bred myself on Madur&ocaron;."
A month or two passed. Then, on one Sunday afternoon, about dusk, I saw Ned's
whale-boat coming over across the lagoon. I met him on the beach. Trouble
was in his face, yet his hard, im- passive features were such that only those who
knew him well could discover it. Instead of entering the house, he silently motioned
me to come further along the sand, where we reached an open spot clear of coco
palms. Ned sat down and filled his pipe. I waited patiently. The wind had died away,
and the soft swish and swirl of the tide as the ripples lapped the beach was the
only sound that broke upon the silence of the night.
"You were right. But it doesn't matter now . . ." He laughed softly. "A week ago a
canoe-party arrived from Ebon. There were two chiefs. Of course they came to
my house to trade. They had plenty of money. There were about a hundred natives
belonging to them. The younger man was chief of Likieb -- a flash buck. The first
day he saw Le-jennabon he had a lot too much to say to her. I watched him. Next
morning my toddy-cutter came and told me that the flash young chief from Likieb
had stuck him up and drank my toddy, and had said something about my wife --
you know how they talk in parables when they mean mischief. I would have shot
him for the toddy racket, but I was waitin' for a better reason. . . . The old hag
who bosses my cook-shed said to me as she passed, 'Go and listen to a song of
cunning over there' -- pointing to a clump of bread-fruit trees. I walked over --
quietly. Le-jennabon and her girls were sitting down on mats. Outside the
fence was a lad singing this -- in a low voice --
"'Marriage hides the tricks of lovers.'
Le-jennabon and the girls bent their heads and said nothing. Then the devil's imp
commenced again --
"'Marriage hides the tricks of lovers.'
Some of the girls laughed and whispered to Le-jennabon. She shook her head, and
looked around timorously. Plain enough, wasn't it? Presently the boy creeps up to
the fence, and drops over a wreath of yellow blossoms. The girls laughed. One of
them picked it up, and offered it to Le-jennabon. She waved it away. Then, again,
the cub outside sang softly --
"'Marriage hides the tricks of lovers,'
and they all laughed again, and Le-jennabon put the wreath on her head, and I saw
the brown hide of the boy disappear among the trees.
I went back to the house. I wanted to make certain she would follow the boy first.
After a few minutes some of Le-jennabon's women came to me, and said they
were going to the weather side of the island -- it's narrer across, as you know --
to pick flowers. I said all right, to go, as I was going to do something else, so
couldn't come with them. Then I went to the trade-room and got what I
wanted. The old cook-hag showed me the way they had gone, and grinned when she
saw what I had slid down inside my pyjamas. I cut round and got to the place. I had
a right good idea where it was.
"The girls soon came along the path, and then stopped and talked to Le-jennabon
and pointed to a clump of bread-fruit trees standing in an arrow-root patch. She
seemed frightened -- but went. Half-way through she stopped, and then I saw my
beauty raise his head from the ground and march over to her. I jest giv' him time
ter enjoy a smile, and then I stepped out and toppled him over. Right through his
carcase -- them Sharp's rifle make a hole you could put your fist into.
"The girl dropped too -- sheer funk. Old Lebauro, the cook, slid through the trees
and stood over him, and said, 'U, guk! He's a fine-made man,' and gave me her
knife; and then I collared Le-jennabon, and ----"
"For God's sake, Ned, don't tell me you killed her too!"
He shook his head slowly.
"No, I couldn't hurt her. But I held her with one hand, she feeling dead and cold,
like a wet deck-swab; then the old cook-woman undid my flash man's long hair, and,
twining her skinny old claws in it, pulled it taut, while I sawed at the chap's
neck with my right hand. The knife was heavy and sharp, and I soon got the job
through. Then I gave the thing to Le-jennabon to carry.
"I made her walk in front of me. Every time she dropped the head I slewed her
round and made her lift it up again. And the old cook-devil trotted astern o' us.
When we came close to the town, I says to Le-jennabon:
"'Do you want to live?'
"'Yes,' says she, in a voice like a whisper.
"'Then sing,' says I, 'sing loud --
"'Marriage hides the tricks of lovers,"
And she sang it in a choky kind of quaver.
"There was a great rush o' people ter see the procession. They stood in a line on
both sides of the path, and stared and said nothin'.
"Presently we comes to where all the Likieb chief's people was quartered. They
knew the head and ran back for their rifles, but my crowd in the village was too
strong, and, o' course, sided with me, and took away their guns. Then the crowd
gathers round my place, and I makes Le-jennabon hold up the head and sing again
-- sing that devil's chant.
"'Listen,' I says to the people, 'listen to my wife singing a love song.' Then I takes
the thing, wet and bloody, and slings it into the middle of the Likieb people,
and gave Le-jennabon a shove and sent her inside."
I was thinking what would be the best thing to say, and could only manage "It's a
bad business, Ned."
"Bad! That's where you're wrong," and, rising, Ned brushed the sand off the legs
of his pyjamas. "It's just about the luckiest thing as could ha' happened. Ye see,
it's given Le-jennabon a good idea of what may happen to her if she ain't mighty
correct. An' it's riz me a lot in the esteem of the people generally as a man who
hez business principles."
A Truly Great Man
THEN the flag of "Bobby" Towns, of Sydney, was still mighty in the South Seas.
The days had not come in which steamers with brass-bound supercargoes,
carrying tin boxes and taking orders like merchants' bagmen, for goods "to
arrive," exploited the Ellice, Kingsmill, and Gilbert Groups. Bluff-bowed old
wave-punchers like the Spec, the Lady Alicia and the E. K. Bateson plunged
their clumsy hulls into the rolling swell of the mid- Pacific, carrying their
"trade" of knives, axes, guns, bad rum, and good tobacco, instead of, as now,
white umbrellas, paper boots and shoes, German sewing-machines and fancy prints
-- "zephyrs," the smartly-dressed paper-collared supercargo of to-day calls
them, as he submits a card of patterns to Emilia, the native teacher's wife, who,
as the greatest Lady in the Land, must have first choice.
In those days the sleek native missionary was an unknown quantity in the Tokelaus
and Kingsmills, and the local white trader answered all requirements. He was
generally a rough character -- a runaway from some Australian or American
whaler, or a wandering Ishmael, who, for reasons of his own, preferred living
among the intractable, bawling, and poverty-stricken people of the equatorial
Pacific to dreaming away his days in the monotonously happy valleys of the
Society and Marquesas Groups.
Such a man was Probyn, who dwelt on one of the low atolls of the Ellice Islands. He
had landed there one day from a Sydney sperm whaler with a chest of clothes, a
musket or two, and a tierce of twist tobacco; with him came a savage-eyed,
fierce-looking native wife, over whose bared shoulders and bosom fell long waves
of black hair; with her was a child about five years old.
The second mate of the whaler, who was in charge of the boat, not liking the
looks of the excited natives who swarmed around the newcomer, bade him a
hurried farewell, and pushed away to the ship, which lay-to off the passage with
her fore-yard aback. Then the clamorous people pressed more closely around
Probyn and his wife, and assailed them with questions.
So far neither of them had spoken. Probyn, a tall, wiry, scanty-haired man, with
quiet, deep-set eyes, was standing with one foot on the tierce of tobacco and his
hands in his pockets. His wife glared defiantly at some two or three score of
reddish-brown women who crowded eagerly around her to stare into her face;
holding to the sleeve of her dress was the child, paralysed into the silence of
The deafening babble and frantic gesticulations were perfectly explicable to
Probyn, and he apprehended no danger. The head man of the village had not yet
appeared, and until he came this wild license of behaviour would continue. At last
the natives became silent and parted to the right and left as Tahori, the head
man, his fat body shining with coconut oil, and carrying an ebony-wood club in his
hand, stood in front of the white man and eyed him up and down. The scrutiny
seemed satisfactory. He stretched out his huge, naked arm, and shook Probyn's
hand, uttering his one word of Samoan -- "Talofa!" and then, in his own
dialect, he asked: "What is your name, and what do you want?"
"Sam," replied Probyn. And then, in the Tokelau language, which the wild-eyed
people around him fairly understood, "I have come here to live with you and trade
for oil" -- and he pointed to the tierce of tobacco.
"Where are you from?"
"From the land called Nukunono, in the Tokelau."
"Why come here?"
"Because I killed an enemy there."
"Good!" grunted the fat man; "there are no twists in thy tongue; but why did the
boat hasten away so quickly?"
"They were frightened because of the noise. He with the face like a fowl's talked
too much" -- and he pointed to a long, hatchet-visaged native, who had been
especially turbulent and vociferous.
"Ha!" and the fat, bearded face of Tahori turned from the white man to him of
whom the white man had spoken -- "is it thee, Makoi? And so thou madest the
strangers hasten away! That was wrong. Only for thee I had gone to the ship and
gotten many things. Come hither!"
Then he stooped and picked up one of Probyn's muskets, handed it to the white
man, and silently indicated the tall native with a nod. The other natives fell back.
Niabong, Probyn's wife, set her boy on his feet, put her hand in her bosom
and drew out a key, with which she opened the chest. She threw back the lid, fixed
her black eyes on Probyn, and waited.
Probyn, holding the musket in his left hand, mused a moment. Then he asked:
"Whose man is he?"
"Mine," said Tahori; "he is from Oaitupu, and my bondman."
"Hath he a wife?"
"Nay; he is poor, and works in my puraka field!"
"Good," said Probyn, and he motioned to his wife. She dived her hand into the
chest and handed him a tin of powder, then a bullet, a cap, and some scraps of
Slowly he loaded the musket, and Tahori, seizing the bondman by his arm, led him
out to the open, and stood by, club in hand, on the alert.
Probyn knew his reputation depended on the shot. He raised his musket and fired.
The ball passed through the chest of Makoi. Then four men picked up the body and
carried it into a house.
Probyn laid down the musket and motioned again to Niabong. She handed him a
hatchet and blunt chisel. Tahori smiled pleasantly, and, drawing the little boy to
him, patted his head.
Then, at a sign from him, a woman brought Niabong a shell of sweet toddy.
The chief sat cross-legged and watched Probyn opening the tierce of tobacco.
Niabong locked the box again and sat upon it.
"Who are you?" said Tahori, still caressing the boy, to the white man's wife.
"Niabong. But my tongue twists with your talk here. I am of Naura (Pleasant
Island). By-and-by I shall understand it."
"True. He is a great man, thy man," said the chief, nodding at Probyn.
"A great man, truly. There is not one thing in the world but he can do it."
"E mo," said the fat man, approvingly; "I can see it. Look you, he shall be as my
brother, and thy child here shall eat of the best in the land."
Probyn came over with his two hands filled with sticks of tobacco.
"Bring a basket," he said.
A young native girl slid out from the coconut grove at Tahori's bidding, and stood
behind him holding a basket. Probyn counted out into it two hundred sticks of
"See, Tahori. I am a just man to thee because thou art a just man to me. Here is
the price of him that thou gavest to me."
Tahori rose and beckoned to the people to return. "Look at this man. He is a truly
great man. His heart groweth from his loins upwards to his throat. Bring
food to my house quickly, that he and his wife and child may eat. And to-morrow
shall every man cut wood for his house, a house that shall be in length six
fathoms, and four in width. Such men as he come from the gods."
The Doctor's Wife
Consanguinity -- From A Polynesian Standpoint
"OHO!" said Lagisiva, the widow, tossing her hair back over her shoulders, as she
raised the heavy, fluted tappa mallet in her thick, strong right hand, and dealt the
rough cloth a series of quick strokes -- "Oho!" said the dark-faced Lagisiva,
looking up at the White Man, "because I be a woman dost think me a fool? I tell
thee I know some of the customs of the papalagi (the white foreigners). Much
wisdom have ye in many things; but again I tell thee, O friend of my sons, that in
some other things the people of thy nation -- ay, of all white nations, they be as
the beasts of the forest -- the wild goat and pig -- without reason and without
shame. Tah! Has not my eldest son, Tui Fau, whom the white men call Bob, lived
for seven years in Sini (Sydney), when he returned from those places by New
Guinea, where he was diver? And he has filled my ears with the bad and
shameless customs of the papalagi. Isa! I say again thy women have not the
shame of ours. The heat of desire devoureth chastity even in those of one blood!"
"In what do they offend, O my mother?"
"Aue! Life is short; and, behold, this piece of siapo is for a wedding present, and I
must hurry; but yet put down thy gun and bag, and we shall smoke awhile, and thou
shalt feel shame while I tell of one of the papalagi customs -- the marrying of
brother and sister!"
"Nay, mother," said the White Man, "not brother and sister, but only cousins."
"Isa!" and the big widow spat scornfully on the ground, "those are words --
words. It is the same; the same is the blood, the same is the bone. Even in our
heathen days we pointed the finger at one who looked with the eye of love on the
daughter of his father's brother or sister -- for such did we let his blood out upon
the sand. And I, old Lagisiva, have seen a white man brought to shame through this
"Tell me," said the White Man.
"He was a foma'i (doctor), and rich, and came here because he desired to see
strange places, and was weary of his life in the land of the papalagi. So he
remained with us, and hunted the wild boar with our young men, and became
strong and hardy, and like unto one of our people. And then, because he was for
ever restless, he sailed away once and returned in a small ship, and brought back
trade and built a store and a fine house to dwell in. The chief of this town gave
him, for friendship, a piece of land over there by the Vai-ta-milo, and thus did he
become a still greater man. His store was full of rich goods, and he kept many
servants, and at night-time his house was as a blaze of fire, for the young men
and women would go there and sing and dance, and he had many lovers amongst
our young girls.
"I, old Lagisiva, who am now fat and dull, was one. Oho, he was a man of plenty! Did
a girl but look out between her eyelashes at a piece of print in the store, lo! it was
hers, even though it measured twenty fathoms in length -- and print was a dollar
a fathom in those days. So every girl -- even those from parts far off -- cast
herself in his way, that he might notice her. And he was generous to all alike -- in
that alone was wisdom.
"Once or twice every year the ships brought him letters. And he would count the
marks on the paper, and tell us that they came from a woman of the papalagi --
his cousin, as you would call her -- whose picture was hung over his table. She was
for ever smiling down upon us, and her eyes were his eyes, and if he but
smiled then were the two alike -- alike as are two children of the same birth. When
three years had come and gone a ship brought him a letter, and that night there
were many of us at his house, men and women, to talk with the people from the
ship. When those had gone away to their sleep, he called to the chief, and said:--
"'In two days, O my friend, I set out for my land again; but to return, for much do I
desire to remain with you always. In six months I shall be here again. And there is
one thing I would speak of. I shall bring back a white wife, a woman of my own
country, whom I have loved for many years.'
"Then Tamaali'i, the chief, who was my father's father, and very old, said, 'She
shall be my daughter, and welcome,' and many of us young girls said also, 'She
shall be welcome' -- although we felt sorrowful to lose a lover so good and
open-handed. And then did the foma'i call to the old chief and two others, and
they entered the store and lighted lamps, and presently a man went forth into the
village, and cried aloud: 'Come hither, all people, and listen!' So, many hundreds
came, and we all went in and found the floor covered with some of everything that
the white man possessed. And the chief spoke and said:
"'Behold, my people, this our good friend goeth away to his own country that he
may bring back a wife. And because many young unmarried girls will say,
"Why does he leave us? Are not we as good to look upon as this other woman?"
does he put these presents here on the ground and these words into my mouth --
"Out of his love to you, which must be a thing that is past and forgotten, the wife
that is coming must not know of some little things -- that is papalagi custom."'
"And then every girl that had a wish took whatever she fancied, and the white man
charged us to say naught that would arouse the anger of the wife that was to
come. And so he departed.
"One hundred and ten fat hogs killed we and roasted whole for the feast of
welcome. I swear it by the Holy Ones of God's Kingdom -- one hundred and ten. And
yet this white lily of his never smiled -- not even on us young girls who danced and
sang before her, only she clung to his arm, and, behold, when we drew close to her
we saw it was the woman in the picture -- his sister!
"And then one by one all those that had gathered to do him honour went away in
shame -- shame that he should do this, wed his own sister, and many women said
worse of her. But yet the feast -- the hogs, and yams, and taro, and fish, and
fowls -- was brought and placed by his doorstep, but no one spake, and at
night-time he was alone with his wife, till he sent for the old chief, and reproached
him with bitter words for the coldness of the people, and asked: 'Why is
"And the old man pointed to the picture over the table, and said: 'Is this she --
"'Ay,' said the White Man.
"'Is she not of the same blood as thyself?'
"'Even so,' said he.
"'Then shalt thou live alone in thy shame,' said the old man; and he went away.
"So, for many months, these two lived. He found some to work for him, and some
young girls to tend his sister, whom he called his wife, whilst she lay ill with her
first child. And the day after it was born, some one whispered: 'He is accursed!
the child cries not -- it is dumb.' For a week it lived, yet never did it cry, for the
curse of wickedness was upon it. Then the white man nursed her tenderly, and
took her away to live in Fiji for six months. When they came back it was the same
-- no one cared to go inside his house, and he cursed us, and said he would bring
men from Tokelau to work for him. We said naught. Then in time another child was
born, and it was hideous to look upon, and that also died.
"Now, there was a girl amongst us whose name was Suni, to whom the white
woman spoke much, for she was learning our tongue, and Suni, by reason of the
white woman's many presents, spoke openly to her, and told her of the
village talk. Then the white woman wept, and arose and spoke to the man for a
long while. And she came back to Suni, and said: 'What thou hast told me was in
my own heart three years ago; yet, because it is the custom of my people, I
married this man, who is the son of my father's brother. But now I shall go away.'
Then the white man came out and beat Suni with a stick. But yet was his sister,
whom he called his wife, eaten up with shame, and when a ship came they went
away, and we saw her not again. For about two years we heard no more of our
white man, till he returned and said the woman was dead. And he took Suni for
wife, who bore him three children, and then they went away to some other country
-- I know not where."
"I thank thee many, many times, O friend of my sons. Four children of mine here
live in this village, yet not a one of them ever asketh me when I last smoked. May
God walk with thee always for this stick of tobacco."
The Fate Of The Alida
THREE years ago, in an Australian paper, I read something that set me thinking of
Taplin -- of Taplin and his wife, and the fate of the Alida. This is what I read:--
"News has reached Tahiti that a steamer had arrived at Toulon with two noted
prisoners on board. These men, who are brothers named Rorique, long ago left
Tahiti on an island-trading trip, and when the vessel got to sea they murdered the
captain, a passenger, the supercargo (Mr Gibson, of Sydney), and two sailors, and
threw their bodies overboard. The movers in the affair were arrested at Ponape,
in the Caroline Islands. The vessel belonged to a Tahitian prince, and was called the
Nuroahiti, but its name had been changed after the tragedy. The accused persons
were sent to Manilla. From Manilla they appear now to have been sent on to
In the year 1872 we were lying inside Funafuti Lagoon, in the Ellice Group. The last
cask of oil had been towed off to the brig and placed under hatches, and we were
to sail in the morning for our usual cruise among the Gilbert and Kingsmill Islands.
Our captain, a white trader from the shore, and myself, were sitting on deck
"yarning" and smoking. We lay about a quarter of a mile from the beach --
such a beach, white as the driven snow, and sweeping in a great curve for five long
miles to the north and a lesser distance to the south and west. Right abreast of
the brig, nestling like huge birds' nests in the shade of groves of coconut and
bread-fruit trees, were the houses of the principal village in Funafuti.
Presently the skipper picked up his glasses that lay beside him on the skylight, and
looked away down to leeward, where the white sails of a schooner beating up to
the anchorage were outlined against the line of palms that fringed the beach of
Funafala -- the westernmost island that forms one of the chain enclosing Funafuti
"It's Taplin's schooner, right enough," he said. "Let us go ashore and give him and
his pretty wife a hand to pack up."
Taplin was the name of the only other white trader on Funafuti besides old Tom
Humphreys, our own man. He had been two years on the island, and was trading in
opposition to our trader, as agent for a foreign house -- our owners were Sydney
people -- but his firm's unscrupulous method of doing business had disgusted him.
So one day he told the supercargo of their vessel that he would trade for them no
longer than the exact time he had agreed upon -- two years. He had come to
Funafuti from the Pelews, and was now awaiting the return of his firm's
vessel to take him back there again. Getting into our boat we were pulled ashore
and landed on the beach in front of the trader's house.
"Well, Taplin, here's your schooner at last," said old Tom, as we shook hands and
seated ourselves in the comfortable, pleasant-looking room. "I see you're getting
ready to go."
Taplin was a man of about thirty or so, with a quiet, impassive face, and dark,
deep-set eyes that gave to his features a somewhat gloomy look, except when he
smiled, which was not often. Men with that curious, far-off look in their eyes are
not uncommon among the lonely islands of the wide Pacific. Sometimes it comes
to a man with long, long years of wandering to and fro; and you will see it deepen
when, by some idle, chance word, you move the memories of a forgotten past --
ere he had even dreamed of the existence of the South Sea Islands and for ever
dissevered himself from all links and associations of the outside world.
"Yes," he answered, "I am nearly ready. I saw the schooner at daylight, and knew
it was the Alida."
"Where do you think of going to, Taplin?" I asked.
"Back to the Carolines. Nerida belongs down that way, you know; and she is
fretting to get back again -- otherwise I wouldn't leave this island. I've done
pretty well here, although the people I trade for are -- well, you know what they
"Aye," assented old Humphreys, "there isn't one of 'em but what is the two ends
and bight of a -- scoundrel; and that supercargo with the yaller moustache and
womany hands is the worst of the lot. I wonder if he's aboard this trip? I don't let
him inside my house; I've got too many daughters, and they all think him a fine
Nerida, Taplin's wife, came out to us from an inner room. She was a native of one
of the Pelew Islands, a tall, slenderly-built girl, with pale, olive skin and big, soft
eyes. A flowing gown of yellow muslin -- the favourite colour of the
Portuguese-blooded natives of the Pelews -- buttoned high up to her throat,
draped her graceful figure. After putting her little hand in ours, and greeting us in
the Funafuti dialect, she went over to Taplin, and touching his arm, pointed out the
schooner that was now only a mile or so away, and a smile parted her lips, and the
star-like eyes glowed and filled with a tender light.
I felt Captain Warren touch my arm as he rose and went outside. I followed.
"L----," said Warren, "can't we do something for Taplin ourselves? Isn't there a
station anywhere about Tonga or Wallis Island that would suit him?"
"Would he come, Warren? He -- or, rather, that pretty wife of his -- seems
bent upon going away in the schooner to the Carolines."
"Aye," said the skipper, "that's it. If it were any other vessel I wouldn't care."
"That fellow Motley (the supercargo) is a damned scoundrel -- capable of any
villainy where a woman is concerned. Did you ever hear about old Raymond's
daughter down at Mangareva?"
I had heard the story very often. By means of a forged letter purporting to have
been written by her father -- an old English trader in the Gambier Group -- Motley
had lured the beautiful young half-blood away from a school in San Francisco, and
six months afterwards turned her adrift on the streets of Honolulu. Raymond was
a lonely man, and passionately attached to his only child; so no one wondered
when, reaching California a year after and finding her gone, he shot himself in his
room at an hotel.
"I will ask him, anyway," I said; and as we went back into the house the Alida shot
past our line of vision through the coco-palms, and brought up inside the brig.
"Taplin," I said, "would you care about taking one of our stations to the eastward?
Name any island you fancy, and we will land you there with the pick of our 'trade'
"Thank you. I would be only too glad, but I cannot. I have promised Nerida to
go back to Babelthouap, or somewhere in the Pelews, and Motley has promised to
land us at Ponape, in the Carolines. We can get away from there in one of the
Dutch firm's vessels."
"I am very sorry, Taplin----" I began, when old Captain Warren burst in with --
"Look here, Taplin, we haven't got much time to talk. Here's the Alida's boat
coming, with that (blank blank) scoundrel Motley in it. Take my advice. Don't go
away in the Alida." And then he looked at Nerida, and whispered something.
A red spark shone in Taplin's dark eyes, then he pressed Warren's hand.
"I know," he answered, "he's a most infernal villain -- Nerida hates him too. But
you see how I am fixed. The Alida is our only chance of getting back to the
north-west. But he hasn't got old Raymond to deal with in me. Here they are."
Motley came in first, hat and fan in hand. He was a fine-looking man, with blue eyes
and an unusually fair skin for an island supercargo, with a long, drooping, yellow
moustache. Riedermann, the skipper, who followed, was stout, coarse, red-faced,
"How are you, gentlemen?" said Motley affably, turning from Taplin and his wife,
and advancing towards us. "Captain Riedermann and I saw the spars of your brig
showing up over the coconuts yesterday, and therefore knew we should
have the pleasure of meeting you."
Warren looked steadily at him for a moment, and then glanced at his outstretched
"The pleasure isn't mutual, blarst you, Mr Motley," he said coldly, and he put his
hand in his pocket.
The supercargo took a step nearer to him with a savage glare in his blue eyes.
"What do you mean by this, Captain Warren?"
"Mean?" and the imperturbable Warren seated himself on a corner of the table,
and gazed stolidly first at the handsome Motley and then at the heavy, vicious
features of Riedermann. "Oh, anything you like. Perhaps it's because it's not
pleasant to see white men landing at a quiet island like this with revolvers slung to
their waists under their pyjamas; looks a bit too much like Bully Hayes' style for
me," and then his tone of cool banter suddenly changed to that of studied
insolence. "I say, Motley, I was talking about you just now to Taplin and Nerida. Do
you want to know what I was saying? Perhaps I had better tell you. I was talking
about Tita Raymond -- and yourself."
Motley put his right hand under his pyjama jacket, but Taplin sprang forward,
seized his wrist in a grip of iron, and drew him aside.
"The man who draws a pistol in my house, Mr Motley, does a foolish thing," he said,
in quiet, contemptuous tones, as he threw the supercargo's revolver into a
With set teeth and clenched hands Motley flung himself into a chair, unable to
Warren, still seated on the table, swung his foot nonchalantly to and fro, and then
began at Riedermann.
"Why, how's this, Captain Ricdermann? Don't you back up your supercargo's little
quarrels, or have you left your pistoL on board? Ah, no, you haven't. I can see it
there right enough. Modesty forbids you putting a bullet into a man in the
presence of a lady, eh?" Then slewing round again, he addressed Motley: "By God!
sir, it is well for you that we are in a white man's house, and that that man is my
friend and took away that pistol from your treacherous hand. If you had fired at
me I would have booted you from one end of Funafuti beach to the other -- and
I've a damned good mind to do it now, but won't, as Taplin has to do some business
"That will do, Warren," I said. "We don't want to make a scene in Taplin's house.
Let us go away and allow him to finish his business."
Still glaring angrily at Riedermann and Motley, Warren got down slowly from the
table. Then we bade Taplin and Nerida good-bye and went aboard.
At daylight we saw Taplin and his wife go off in the Alida's boat. They waved their
hands to us in farewell as the boat pulled past the brig, and then the
schooner hove-up anchor, and with all sail set, stood away down to the north-west
passage of the lagoon.
A year or so afterward we were on a trading voyage to the islands of the Tubuai
Group, and were lying becalmed, in company with a New Bedford whaler. Her
skipper came on board the brig, and we started talking of Taplin, whom the
whale-ship captain knew.
"Didn't you hear?" he said. "The Alida never showed up again. 'Turned turtle,' I
suppose, somewhere in the islands, like all those slashing, over-masted,
'Frisco-built schooners do, sooner or later."
"Poor Taplin," said Warren, "I thought somehow we would never see him again."
Five years had passed. Honest old Warren, fiery-tempered and true-hearted, had
long since died of fever in the Solomons, and I was supercargo with a smart young
American skipper in the brigantine Palestine, when we one day sailed along the
weather-side of a tiny little atoll in the Caroline Islands.
The Palestine was leaking, and Packenham, tempted by the easy passage into the
beautiful lagoon, decided to run inside and discharge our cargo of copra to get at
The island had but very few inhabitants -- perhaps ten or twelve men and
double that number of women and children. No ship, they told us, had ever entered
the lagoon but Bully Hayes' brig, and that was nine years before. There was
nothing on the island to tempt a trading vessel, and even the sperm whalers, as
they lumbered lazily past from Strong's Island to Guam, would not bother to lower
a boat and "dicker" for pearl-shell or turtle.
At the time of Hayes' visit the people were in sore straits, and on the brink of
actual starvation, for although there were fish and turtle in plenty, they had not
the strength to catch them. A few months before, a cyclone had destroyed nearly
all the coconut trees, and an epidemic followed it, and carried off half the scanty
The jaunty sea-rover -- than whom a kinder-hearted man to natives never sailed
the South Seas -- took pity on the survivors, especially the youngest and
prettiest girls, and gave them a passage in the famous Leonora to another island
where food was plentiful. There they remained for some years, till the inevitable
mal du pays that is inborn to every Polynesian and Micronesian, became too
strong to be resisted; and so one day a wandering sperm whaler brought them
But in their absence strangers had come to the island. As the people
landed from the boats of the whale-ship, two brown men, a woman, and a child,
came out of one of the houses, and gazed at them. Then they fled to the farthest
end of the island and hid.
Some weeks passed before the returned islanders found out the retreat of the
strangers, who were armed with rifles, and called them to "come out and be
friends." They did so, and by some subtle treachery the two men were killed
during the night.
The woman, who was young and handsome, was spared, and, from what we could
learn, had been well treated ever since.
"Where did the strangers come from?" we asked.
That they could not tell us. But the woman had since told them that the ship had
anchored in the lagoon because she was leaking badly, and that the captain and
crew were trying to stop the leak when she began to heel over, and they had
barely time to save a few things when she sank. In a few days the captain and
crew left the island in the boat, and, rather than face the dangers of a long
voyage in such a small boat, the two natives and the woman elected to remain on
"That's a mighty fishy yarn," said Packenham to me. "I daresay these fellows
have been doing a little cutting-off business. But then I don't know of any
missing vessel. We'll go ashore to-morrow and have a look round."
A little after sunset the skipper and I were leaning over the rail, watching the
figures of the natives, as they moved to and fro in the glare of the fires lighted
here and there along the beach.
"Hallo!" said Packenham, "here's a canoe coming, with only a woman in it. By
thunder! she's travelling, too, and coming straight for the ship."
A few minutes more and the canoe was alongside. The woman hastily picked up a
little girl that was sitting in the bottom, looked up, and called out in English --
"Take my little girl, please."
A native sailor leant over the bulwarks and lifted up the child, and the woman
clambered after her. Then, seizing the child from the sailor, she flew along the
deck and into the cabin.
She was standing facing us as we followed and entered, holding the child tightly to
her bosom. The soft light of the cabin lamp fell full upon her features, and we saw
that she was very young, and seemed wildly excited.
"Who are you?" we said, when she advanced, put out a trembling hand to us, and
said: "Don't you know me, Mr Supercargo? I am Nerida, Taplin's wife." Then she
sank on a seat and sobbed violently.
We waited till she regained her composure somewhat, and then I said:
"Nerida, where is Taplin?"
"Dead," she said in a voice scarce above a whisper; "only us two are left -- I and
Packenham held out his hands to the child. With wondering, timid eyes, she came,
and for a moment or two looked doubtingly upwards into the brown, handsome
face of the skipper, and then nestled beside him.
For a minute or so the ticking of the cabin clock broke the silence, ere I ventured
to ask the one question uppermost in my mind.
"Nerida, how and where did Taplin die?"
"My husband was murdered at sea," she said and then she covered her face with
"Don't ask her any more now," said Packenham pityingly; "let her tell us
She raised her face. "Yes, I will tell you to-morrow. You will take me away with you,
will you not, gentlemen -- for my child's sake?"
"Of course," said the captain promptly. And he stretched out his honest hand to
"She's a wonderfully pretty woman," said Packenham, as we walked the poop later
on, and he glanced down through the open skylight to where she and the child slept
peacefully on the cushioned transoms. "How prettily she speaks English, too. Do
you think she was fond of her husband, or was it merely excitement that made
her cry? -- native women are as prone to be as hysterical as our own when
under any violent emotion."
"I can only tell you, Packenham, that when I saw her last, five years ago, she was
a graceful girl of eighteen, and as full of happiness as a bird is of song. She looks
thirty now, and her face is thin and drawn -- but I don't say all for love of Taplin."
"That will all wear off by and by," said the skipper confidently.
"Yes," I thought, "and she won't be a widow long."
Next morning Nerida had an hour or two among the prints and muslin in the
trade-room, and there was something of the old beauty about her when she sat
down to breakfast with us. We were to sail at noon. The leak had been stopped,
and Packenham was in high good-humour.
"Nerida," I inquired unthinkingly, "do you know what became of the Alida? She
never turned up again."
"Yes," she answered; "she is here, at the bottom of the lagoon. Will you come and
look at her?"
After breakfast we lowered the dingy, the captain and I pulling. Nerida steered us
out to the north end of the lagoon till we reached a spot where the water suddenly
deepened. It was, in fact, a deep pool, some three or four hundred feet in
diameter, closed in by a continuous wall of coral rock, the top of which,
even at low water, would be perhaps two or three fathoms under the surface.
She held up her hands for us to back water, then she gazed over the side into the
"Look," she said, "there lies the Alida."
We bent over the side of the boat. The waters of the lagoon were as smooth as
glass and as clear. We saw two slender rounded columns that seemed to shoot up
in a slanting direction from out the vague, blue depths beneath, to within four or
five fathoms of the surface of the water. Swarms of gorgeously-hued fish swam
and circled in and about the masses of scarlet and golden weed that clothed the
columns from their tops downward, and swayed gently to and fro as they glided in
A hawk-bill turtle, huge, black, and misshapen, slid out from beneath the dark
ledge of the reef, and swam slowly across the pool, and then, between the masts,
sank to the bottom.
"'Twas six years ago," said Nerida, as we raised our heads.
That night, as the Palestine sped noiselessly before the trade wind to the
westward she told me, in the old Funafuti tongue, the tragedy of the Alida.
"The schooner," she said, "sailed very quickly, for on the fifteenth day out from
Funafuti we saw the far-off peaks of Strong's Island. I was glad, for Kusaie
is not many days' sail from Ponape -- and I hated to be on the ship. The man with
the blue eyes filled me with fear when he looked at me; and he and the captain and
mate were for ever talking amongst themselves in whispers.
"There were five native sailors on board -- two were countrymen of mine, and
three were Tafitos.
"One night we were close to a little island called Mokil, and Taplin and I were
awakened by a loud cry on deck; my two countrymen were calling on him to help
them. He sprang on deck, pistol in hand, and, behold! the schooner was laid to the
wind with the land close to, and the boat alongside, and the three white men were
binding my country-men with ropes, because they would not get into the boat.
"'Help us, O friend!' they called to my husband in their own tongue; 'the white men
say that if we go not ashore here at Mokil they will kill us. Help us -- for they
mean evil to thee and Nerida. He with the yellow moustache wants her for his
"There were quick, fierce words, and then my husband struck Motley on the head
with his pistol and felled him, and then pointed it at the mate and the captain, and
made them untie the men, and called to the two Tafito sailors who were in the
boat to let her tow astern till morning.
"His face was white with the rage that burned in him, and all that night he
walked to and fro and let me sleep on the deck near him.
"'To-morrow,' he said, 'I will make this captain land us on Mokil;' it was for that he
would not let the sailors come up from the boat.
"At dawn I slept soundly. Then I awoke with a cry of fear, for I heard a shot, and
then a groan, and my husband fell across me, and the blood poured out of his
mouth and ran down my arms and neck. I struggled to rise, and he tried to draw
his pistol, but the man with yellow hair and blue eyes, who stood over him, stabbed
him twice in the back. Then the captain and mate seized him by the arms and
lifted him up. As his head fell back I saw there was blood streaming from a hole in
She ceased, and leant her cheek against the face of the little girl, who looked in
childish wonder at the tears that streamed down her mother's face.
"They cast him over into the sea with life yet in him, and ere he sank, Motley (that
devil with the blue eyes) stood with one foot on the rail and fired another shot,
and laughed when he saw the bullet strike. Then he and the other two talked.
"'Let us finish these Pelew men, ere mischief come of it,' said Riedermann, the
"But the others dissuaded him. There was time enough, they said, to kill
them. And if they killed them now, there would be but three sailors to work the
ship. And Motley looked at me and laughed, and said he, for one, would do no
sailor's work yet awhile.
"Then they all trooped below, and took me with them -- me, with my husband's
blood not yet dried on my hands and bosom. They made me get liquor for them to
drink, and they drank and laughed, and Motley put his bloodied hand around my
waist and kissed me, and the others laughed still more.
"In a little while Riedermann and the mate were so drunken that no words came
from them, and they fell on the cabin floor. Then Motley, who could stand, but
staggered as he walked, came and sat beside me and kissed me again, and said he
had always loved me; but I pointed to the blood of my husband that stained my
skin and clotted my hair together, and besought him to first let me wash it away.
"'Wash it there,' he said, and pointed to his cabin.
"'Nay,' said I, 'see my hair. Let me then go on deck, and I can pour water over my
"But he held my hand tightly as we came up, and my heart died within me; for it
was in my mind to spring overboard and follow my husband.
"He called to one of the Tafito men to bring water, but none came; for
they, too, were drunken with liquor they had stolen from the hold, where there
was plenty in red cases and white cases -- gin and brandy. "But my two
countrymen were sober; one of them steered the ship, and the other stood beside
him with an axe in his hand, for they feared the Tafito men, who are devils when
they drink grog.
"'Get some water,' said Motley, to Juan -- he who held the axe; and as he brought
it, he said, 'How is it, tattooed dog, that thou art so slow to move?' and he struck
him in the teeth, and as he struck he fell.
"Ah! that was my time! Ere he could rise I sprang at him, and Juan raised the axe
and struck off his right foot; and then Liro, the man who steered, handed me his
knife. It was a sharp knife, and I stabbed him, even as he had stabbed my husband,
till my arm was tired, and all my hate of him had died away in my heart.
"There was quick work then. My two countrymen went below into the cabin and
took Motley's pistol from the table; . . . then I heard two shots.
"Guk! He was a fat, heavy man, that Riedermann, the captain; the three of us
could scarce drag him up on deck and cast him over the side, with the other two.
"Then Juan and Liro talked, and said: 'Now for these Tafito men; they, too,
must die.' They brought up rifles, and went to the forepart of the schooner,
where the Tafito men lay in a drunken sleep, and shot them dead.
"In two more days we saw land -- the island we have left but now, and because
that there were no people living there -- only empty houses could we see -- Juan
and Liro sailed the schooner into the lagoon.
"We took such things on shore as we needed, and then Juan and Liro cut away the
topmasts and towed the schooner to the deep pool, where they made holes in her,
so that she sank, away out of the sight of men.
"Juan and Liro were kind to me, and when my child was born, five months after we
landed, they cared for me tenderly, so that I soon became strong and well.
"Only two ships did we ever see, but they passed far-off like clouds upon the
sea-rim; and we thought to live and die there by ourselves. Then there came a
ship, bringing back the people who had once lived there. They killed Juan and Liro,
but let me and the child live. The rest I have told you. . . . How is this captain
named? . . . He is a handsome man, and I like him."
We landed Nerida at Yap, in the Western Carolines. A year afterwards,
when I left the Palestine, I heard that Packenham had given up the sea, was
trading in the Pelew Group, and was permanently married, and that his wife was
the only survivor of the ill-fated Alida.
The Chilean Bluejacket
A Tale Of Easter Island
ALONE, in the most solitary part of the Eastern Pacific, midway between the
earthquake-shaken littoral of Chili and Peru, and the thousand palm-clad islets of
the Low Archipelago, lies an island of the days "when the world was young." By the
lithe-limbed, soft-eyed descendants of the forgotten and mysterious race that
once quickened the land, this lonely outlier of the isles of the Southern Seas is
called in their soft tongue Rapanui, or the Great Rapa.
A hundred and seventy years ago Roggewein, on the dawn of an Easter Sunday,
discerned through the misty, tropic haze the grey outlines of an island under his
lee beam, and sailed down upon it.
He landed, and even as the grim and hardy old navigator gazed upon and
wondered at the mysteries of the strange island, so this day do the cunning men
of science, who, perhaps once in thirty years, go thither in the vain effort to read
the secret of an all-but-perished race. And they can tell us but vaguely that the
stupendous existing evidences of past glories are of immense and untold age, and
show their designers to have been coeval with the builders of the buried cities of
Mexico and Peru; beyond that, they can tell us nothing.
Who can solve the problem? What manner of an island king was he who ruled the
builders of the great terraced platforms of stone, the carvers of the huge blocks
of lava, the hewers-out with rudest tools of the Sphinx-like images of trachyte,
whose square, massive, and disdainful faces have for unnumbered centuries gazed
upwards and outwards over the rolling, sailless swell of the mid-Pacific?
And the people of Rapa-nui of to-day? you may ask. Search the whole Pacific --
from Pylstaart, the southern sentinel of the Friendlies, to the one-time
buccaneer-haunted, far-away Pelews; thence eastward through the white-beached
coral atolls of the Carolines and Marshalls, and southwards to the cloud-capped
Marquesas and the sandy stretches of the Paumotu -- and you will find no
handsomer men or more graceful women than the light-skinned peqple of Rapa-nui.
Yet are they but the survivors of a race doomed -- doomed from the day that
Roggewein in his clumsy, high-pooped frigate first saw their land, and marvelled at
the imperishable relics of a dead greatness. With smiling faces they welcomed him
-- a stranger from an unknown, outside world, with cutlass at waist and pistol in
hand -- as a god; he left them a legacy of civilisation -- a hideous and cruel
disease that swept through the amiable and unsuspicious race as an epidemic, and
slew its thousands, and scaled with the hand of Death and Silence the eager life
that had then filled the square houses of lava in many a town from the
wave-beaten cliffs of Terano Kau to Ounipu in the west.
Ask of the people now, "Whence came ye? and whose were the hands that
fashioned these mighty images and carved upon these stones?" and in their simple
manner they will answer, "From Rapa, under the setting sun, came our fathers;
and we were then a great people, even as the oneone of the beach. . . . Our Great
King was it, he whose name is forgotten by us, that caused these temples and
cemeteries and terraces to be built; and it was in his time that the
forgotten fathers of our fathers carved from out of the stone of the quarries of
Terano Kau the great Silent Faces that gaze for ever upward to the sky. . . .
Ai-a-ah! . . . But it was long ago. . . . Ah! a great people were we then in those
days, and the wild people to the West called us Te tagata te pito henua (the
people who live at the end of the world) . . . . and we know no more."
And here the knowledge and traditions of a broken people begin and end.
A SOFT, cool morning in November, 187--. Between Ducie and Pitcairn Islands two
American whale-ships cruise lazily along to the gentle breath of the south-east
trades, when the look-out from both vessels see a third sail bearing down upon
them. In a few hours she is close enough to be recognised as one of the luckiest
sperm whalers of the fleet -- the brig Pocahontas, of Martha's Vineyard.
Within a quarter of mile of the two ships -- the Nassau and the Dagget -- the
newcomer backs her foreyard and hauls up her mainsail. A cheer rises from the
ships. She wants to "gam," i.e. to gossip. With eager hands four boats are
lowered from the two ships, and the captains and second mates of each
are soon racing for the Pocahontas.
The skipper of the brig, after shaking hands with his visitors and making the usual
inquiries as to their luck, number of days out from New Bedford, etc., led the way
to his cabin, and, calling his Portuguese steward, had liquor and a box of cigars
brought out. The captain of the Pocahontas was a little, withered-up old man with
sharp, deep-set eyes of brightest blue, and had the reputation of possessing the
most fiery and excitable temper of any of the captains of the sixty or seventy
American whale-ships that in those days cruised the Pacific from the West Coast
of South America to Gaum in the Ladrones.
After drinking some of his potent New England rum with his visitors, and having
answered all their queries, the master of the Pocahontas inquired if they had
seen anything of a Chilian man-of-war further to the eastward. No, they had not.
"Then just settle down, gentlemen, for awhile, and I'll tell you one of the
curiousest things that I ever saw or heard of. I've logged partiklars of the whole
business, and when I get to Oahu (Honolulu) I mean to nar-rate just all I do know to
Father Damon of the Honolulu Friend. Thar's nothing like a newspaper fur showin'
a man up when he's been up to any onnatural villainy, and thinks no one will
ever know anything about it. So just take hold and listen."
The two captains nodded, and he told them this.
Ten days previously, when close in to barren and isolated Sala-y-Gomez, the
Pocahontas had spoken the Chilian corvette O'Higgins, bound from Easter Island
to Valparaiso. The captain of the corvette entertained the American master
courteously, and explained his ship's presence so far to the eastward, by stating
that the Government had instructed him to call at Easter Island, and pick up an
Englishman in the Chilian service, who had been sent there to examine and report
on the colossal statues and mysterious terraces of that lonely island. The
Englishman, as Commander Gallegos said, was a valued servant of the Republic,
and had for some years served in its Navy as a surgeon on board El Almirante
Cochrane, the flag-ship. He had left Valparaiso in the whale-ship Comboy with the
intention of remaining three months on the island. At the end of that time a war
vessel was to call and convey him back to Chili. But in less than two months the
Republic was in the throes of a deadly struggle with Peru -- here the commander
of the O'Higgins bowed to the American captain, and, pointing to a huge scar that
traversed his bronzed face from temple to chin, said, "in which I had the honour to
receive this, and promotion" -- and nearly two years had elapsed ere the
Government had time to think again of the English scientist and his mission. Peace
restored, the O'Higgins was ordered to proceed to the island and bring him back;
and as the character of the natives was not well known, and it was feared he
might have been killed, Commander Gallegos was instructed to execute summary
justice upon the people of the island, if such was the case.
But, the Chilian officer said, on reaching the island he had found the natives to be
very peaceable and inoffensive, and, although much alarmed at the appearance of
his armed landing party from the corvette, they had given him a letter from the
Englishman, and had satisfied him that Dr Francis ---- had remained with them for
some twelve months only, and had then left the island in a passing whale-ship, and
Commander Gallegos, making them suitable presents, bade them good-bye, and
steamed away to Valparaiso.
This was all the polite little commander had to say, and, after a farewell glass of
wine, his visitor rose to go, when the captain of the corvette casually inquired if
the Pocahontas was likely to call at the island.
"I ask you," he said in his perfect English, "because one of my ship's company
deserted there. You, se-or, may possibly meet with him there. Yet he is of no
value, and he is no sailor, and but a lad. He was very ill most of the time,
and this was his first voyage. I took him ashore with me in my boat, as he
besought me eagerly to do so, and the little devil ran away and hid, or was hidden
by the natives."
"Why didn't you get him back?" asked the captain of the Pocahontas.
"That was easy enough, but" -- and the commander raised his eyebrows and
shrugged his shoulders -- "of what use? He was no use to the corvette. Better
for him to stay there, and perhaps recover, than to die on board the O'Higgins and
be thrown to the blue sharks. Possibly, se-or, you may find him well, and it may
suit you to take him to your good ship, and teach him the business of catching the
whale. My trade is to show my crew how to fight, and such as he are of no value
Then the two captains bade each other farewell, and in another hour the
redoubtable O'Higgins, with a black trail of smoke streaming astern, was ten miles
away on her course to Valparaiso.
A week after the Pocahontas lay becalmed close in to the lee side of Rapa-nui,
and within sight of the houses of the principal village. The captain, always ready to
get a "green" hand, was thinking of the chances of his securing the Chilian
deserter, and decided to lower a boat and try. Taking four men with him, he
pulled ashore, and landed at the village of Hagaroa.
Some sixty or seventy natives clustered round the boat as she touched the shore.
With smiling faces and outstretched hands they surrounded the captain, and
pressed upon him their simple gifts of ripe bananas and fish baked in leaves,
begging him to first eat a little and then walk with them to Mataveri, their largest
village, distant a mile, where preparations were being made to welcome him
formally. The skipper, nothing loth, bade his crew not to go too far away in their
rambles, and, accompanied by his boatsteerer, was about to set off with the
natives, when he remembered the object of his visit, and asked a big, well-made
woman, the only native present that could speak English, "Where is the man you
hid from the man-of-war?"
There was a dead silence, and for nearly half a minute no one spoke. The keen blue
eyes of the American looked from one face to another inquiringly, and then
settled on the fat, good-natured features of Varua, the big woman.
Holding her hands, palms upwards, to the captain, she endeavoured to
speak, and then, to his astonishment, he saw that her dark eyes were filled with
tears. And then, as if moved with some sudden and sorrowful emotion, a number
of other women and young girls, murmuring softly in pitying tones, "E mat! E
mat!" came to his side, and held their hands out to him with the same
The captain was puzzled. For all his island wanderings and cruises he had no
knowledge of any Polynesian dialect, and the tearful muteness of the fat Varua
was still unbroken. At last she placed one hand on his sleeve, and, pointing
land-ward with the other, said, in her gentle voice, "Come," and taking his hand in
hers, she led the way, the rest of the people following in silence.
For about half a mile they walked behind the captain and his boatsteerer and the
woman Varua without uttering a word. Presently Varua stopped, and called out the
name of "Taku" in a low voice.
A fine, handsome native, partly clothed in European sailor's dress, stepped apart
from the others and came to her.
Turning to the captain, she said, "This is Taku the Sailor. He can speak a little
English and much Spanish. I tell him now to come with us, for he has a paper."
Although not understanding the relevancy of her remark, the captain
nodded, and then with gentle insistence Varua and the other women urged him on,
and they again set out.
A few minutes more, and they were at the foot of one of the massive-stoned and
ancient papaku, or cemeteries, on the walls of which were a number of huge
images carved from trachyte, and representing the trunk of the human body.
Some of the figures bore on their heads crowns of red tufa, and the aspect of all
was towards the ocean. At the foot of the wall of the papaku were a number of
prone figures, with hands and arms sculptured in low relief, the outspread fingers
clasping the hips.
About a cable length from the wall stood two stone houses -- memorials of the
olden time -- and it was to these that Varua and the two white men, attended now
by women only, directed their steps.
The strange, unearthly stillness of the place, the low whispers of the women, the
array of colossal figures with sphinx-like faces set to the sea, and the unutterable
air of sadness that enwrapped the whole scene, overawed even the unimaginative
mind of the rough whaling captain, and he experienced a curious feeling of relief
when his gentle-voiced guide entered through the open doorway the largest
of the two houses, and, in a whisper, bade him follow.
A delightful sense of coolness was his first sensation on entering, and then with
noiseless step the other women followed and seated themselves on the ground.
Still clasping his hand, Varua led him to the farther end of the house, and pointed
to a motionless figure that lay on a couch of mats, covered with a large piece of
navy-blue calico. At each side of the couch sat a young native girl, and their dark,
luminous eyes, shining star-like from out the wealth of black, glossy hair that fell
upon their bronzed shoulders, turned wonderingly upon the stranger who had
broken in upon their watch.
Motioning the girls aside, Varua released her hold of the white man's hand and
drew the cloth from off the figure, and the seaman's pitying glance fell upon the
pale, sweet features of a young white girl.
But for the unmistakable pallid hue of death he thought at first that she slept. In
the thin, delicate hands, crossed upon her bosom, there was placed, after the
manner of those of her faith, a small metal crucifix. Her hair, silky and jet black,
was short like a man's, and the exquisitely-modelled features, which even the
coldness of death had not robbed of their beauty, showed the Spanish blood
that, but a few hours before, had coursed through her veins.
Slowly the old seaman drew the covering over the still features, and, with an
unusual emotion stirring his rude nature, he rose, and, followed by Varua, walked
outside and sat upon a broken pillar of lava that lay under the wall of the papaku.
Calling his boatsteerer, he ordered him to return to the beach and go off to the
ship with instructions to the mate to have a coffin made as quickly as possible and
send it ashore; and then, at a glance from Varua, who smiled a grave approval as
she listened to his orders, he followed her and the man she called Taku into the
smaller of the two houses.
Round about the inside walls of this ancient dwelling of a forgotten race were
placed a number of seamen's chests made of cedar and camphor wood -- the
lares and penates of most Polynesian houses. The gravelled floor was covered
with prettily-ornamented mats of fala (the screw-palm).
Seating herself, with Taku the Sailor, on the mats, Varua motioned the captain to
one of the boxes, and then told him a tale that moved him -- rough, fierce, and
tyrannical as was his nature -- to the deepest pity.
"It is not yet twenty days since the fighting pahi afi (steamer) came here, and
we of Mataveri saw the boat full of armed men land on the beach at Hagaroa. Filled
with fear were we; but yet as we had done no wrong we stood on the beach to
welcome. And, ere the armed men had left the boat, we knew them to be the
Sipaniola from Chili -- the same as those that came here ten years ago in three
ships, and seized and bound three hundred and six of our men, and carried them
away for slaves to the land of the Tae Manu, and of whom none but four ever
returned to Rapa-nui. And then we trembled again."
(She spoke of the cruel outrage of 1862, when three Peruvian slave-ships took
away over three hundred islanders to perish on the guano-fields of the Chincha
"The chief of the ship was a little man, and he called out to us in the tongue of
Chili, 'Have no fear,' and took a little gun from out its case of skin that hung by
his side, and giving it to a man in the boat, stepped over to us, and took our hands
"'Is there none among ye that speak my tongue?' he said quickly.
"Now, this man here, Taku the Sailor, speaketh the tongue of Chili, but he feared
to tell it, lest they might take him away for a sailor; so he held his lips
"Then I, who for six years dwelt with English people at Tahiti, was pushed forward
by those behind me and made to talk in English; and lo! the little man spoke in your
tongue even as quick as he did in that of Chili. And then he told us that he came
"Now this Farani was a young white man of Peretania (England), big and strong. He
came to us a year and a half ago. He was rich, and had with him chests filled with
presents for us of Rapa-nui; and he told us that he came to live a while among us,
and look upon the houses of stone and the Faces of the Silent that gaze out upon
the sea. For a year he dwelt with us and became as one of ourselves, and we loved
him; and then, because no ship came, he began to weary and be sad. At last a ship
-- like thine, one that hunts for the whale -- came, and Farani called us together,
and placed a letter in the hands of the chief at Mataveri, and said: 'If it so be that
a ship cometh from Chili, give these my words to the captain, and all will be well.'
Then he bade us farewell and was gone.
"All this I said in quick words, and then we gave to the little fighting chief
the letter Farani had written. When he had counted the words in the letter, he
said: 'Bueno, it is well,' and called to his men, and they brought out many gifts for
us from the boat -- cloth, and garments for men and women, and two great bags
of canvas filled with tobacco. Ai-a-ah! many presents he gave us -- this because
of the good words Farani had set down in the letter. Then the little chief said to
me, 'Let these my men walk where they list, and I will go with thee to Mataveri and
talk with the chief.'
"So the sailors came out of the boats carrying their guns and swords in their
hands, but the little chief, whose avagutu (moustache) stuck out on each side of
his face like the wings of a flying-fish when it leaps in terror from the mouth of
the hungry bonito, spoke angrily, and they laid their guns and swords back in the
"So the sailors went hither and thither with our young men and girls; and, although
at that time I knew it not, she, who now is not, was one of them, and walked alone.
"Then I, and Taku the Sailor, and the little sea-chief came to the houses of
Mataveri, and he stayed awhile and spoke good words to us. And we, although we
fear the men of Chili for the wrong they once did us, were yet glad to listen, for
we also are of their faith.
"As we talked, there came inside the house a young girl named Temeteri,
whom, when Farani had been with us for two months, he had taken for wife; and
she bore him a son. But from the day that he had sailed away she became sick
with grief; and when, after many months, she told me that Farani had said he
would return to her, my heart was heavy, for I know the ways of white men with
us women of brown skins. Yet I feared to tell her he lied and would return no more.
Now, this girl Temeteri was sought after by a man named Huarani, the son of
Heremai, who desired to marry her now that Farani had gone, and he urged her to
question the chief of the fighting ship, and ask him if Farani would return.
"So I spoke of Temeteri. He laughed and shook his head, and said: 'Nay, Farani the
Englishman will return no more; but yet one so beautiful as she,' and he pointed to
Temeteri, 'should have many lovers and know no grief. Let her marry again and
forget him, and this is my marriage gift to her,' and he threw a big golden coin
upon the mat on which the girl sat.
"She took it in her hand and threw it far out through the doorway with bitter
words, and rose and went away to her child.
"Then the little captain went back to the boat and called his men to him, and lo!
one was gone. Ah! he was angry, and a great scar that ran down one side of
his face grew red with rage. But soon he laughed, and said to us: 'See, there be
one of my people hidden away from me. Yet he is but a boy, and sick; and I care
not to stay and search for him. Let him be thy care so that he wanders not away
and perishes among the broken lava; he will be in good hands among the people of
Rapa-nui.' With that he bade us farewell, and in but a little time the great fighting
ship had gone away towards the rising sun.
"All that day and the next we searched, but found not him who had hidden away;
but in the night of the second day, when it rained heavily, and Taku (who is my
brother's son) and I and my two children worked at the making of a kupega (net),
he whom we had sought came to the door. And as we looked our hearts were filled
with pity, for, as he put out his hands to us, he staggered and fell to the ground.
"So Taku -- who is a man of a good heart -- and I lifted him up and carried him to
a bed of soft mats, and as I placed my hand on his bosom to see if he was dead, lo!
it was soft as a woman's, and I saw that the stranger was a young girl!
"I took from her the wet garments and brought warm clothes of mamoe
(blankets), and Taku made a great fire, and we rubbed her cold body and her hands
and feet till her life came back to her again, and she sat up and ate a little
beaten-up taro. When the night and the dawn touched she slept again.
"The sun was high when the white girl awoke, and fear leapt into her eyes when
she saw the house filled with people who came to question Taku and me about the
stranger. With them came the girl Temeteri, whose head was still filled with
foolish thoughts of Farani, her white lover.
"I went to the strange girl, put my arm around her, and spoke, but though she
smiled and answered in a little voice, I understood her not, for I know none of the
tongue of Chili. But yet she leaned her head against my bosom, and her eyes that
were as big and bright as Fetuaho, the star of the morning, looked up into mine
and smiled through their tears.
"There was a creat buzzing of talk among the women. Some came to her and
touched her hands and forehead, and said: 'Let thy trembling cease; we of
Rapa-nui will be kind to the white girl.'
"And as the people thronged about her and talked, she shook her head and her
eyes sought mine, and hot tears splashed upon my hand. Then the mother of
Temeteri raised her voice and called to Taku the Sailor, and said: 'O Taku, thou
who knowest her tongue, ask her of Farani, my white son, the husband of my
"The young girls in the house laughed scornfully at old Pohre, for some of
them had loved Farani, who yet had put them all aside for Temeteri, whose beauty
exceeded theirs; and so they hated her and laughed at her mother. Then Taku,
being pressed by old Pohre, spoke in the tongue of Chili, but not of Temeteri.
"Ah! She sprang to her feet and talked then! and the flying words chased one
another from her lips; and these things told she to Taku:-- She had hidden among
the broken lava and watched the little captain come back to the boat and bid us
farewell. Then when night came she had crept out and gone far over to the great
papaku, and lay down to hide again, for she feared the fighting ship might return
to seek her. And all that day she lay hidden in the lava till night fell upon her again,
and hunger drove her to seek the faces of men. In the rain she all but perished, till
God brought her feet to this, my house.
"Then said Taku the Sailor: 'Why didst thou flee from the ship?'
"The white girl put her hands to her face and wept, and said: 'Bring me my jacket.'
"I gave to her the blue sailor's jacket, and from inside of it she took a little flat
thing and placed it in her bosom.
"Again said old Pohre to Taku: 'O man of slow tongue, ask her of Farani.'
So he asked in this wise:
"'See, O White Girl, that is Pohre, the mother of Temeteri, who bore a son to the
white man that came here to look upon the Silent Faces; and because he came
from thy land, and because of the heart of Temeteri, which is dried up for love of
him, does this foolish old woman ask thee if thou hast seen him; for long months
ago he left Rapa-nui. In our tongue we call him Farani.'
"The girl looked at Taku the Sailor, and her lips moved, but no words came. Then
from her bosom she took the little flat thing and held it to him, but sickness was
in her hand so that it trembled, and that which she held fell to the ground. So Taku
stooped and picked it up from where it lay on the mat, and looked, and his eyes
blazed, and he shouted out 'Aue!' for it was the face of Farani that looked into
his! And as he held it up in his hand to the people, they, too, shouted in wonder;
and then the girl Temeteri cast aside those that stood about her, and tore it from
his hand and fled.
"'Who is she?' said the white girl, in a weak voice to Taku; 'and why hath she
robbed me of that which is dear to me?' and Taku was ashamed, and turned his
face away from her because of two things -- his heart was sore for Temeteri,
who is a blood relation, and was shamed because her white lover had
deserted her; and he was full of pity for the white girl's tears. So he said nought.
"The girl raised herself, and her hand caught Taku by the arm, and these were her
words: 'O man, for the love of Jesu Christ, tell me what was this woman Temeteri
to my husband?'
"Now Taku the Sailor was sore troubled, and felt it hard to hurt her heart, yet he
said: 'Was Farani, the Englishman, thy husband?'
"She wept again, 'He was my husband.'
"'Why left he one as fair as thee?' said Taku, in wonder.
"She shook her head. 'I know not, except he loved to look upon strange lands; yet
he loved me.'
"'He is a bad man,' said Taku. 'He loved others as well as thee. The girl that fled
but now with his picture was wife to him here. He loved her, and she bore him a
"The girl's head fell on my shoulder, and her eyes closed, and she became as dead;
and lo! in a little while, as she strove to speak, blood poured from her mouth and
ran down over her bosom.
"'It is the hand of Death,' said Taku the Sailor.
"Where she now lies, there died she, at about the hour when the people of Vaihou
saw the sails of thy ship.
"We have no priest here, for the good father that was here three years
ago is now silent; yet did Taku and I pray with her. And ere she died she said she
would set down some words on paper; so Alrema, my little daughter, hastened to
Mataveri, and the chief sent back some paper and vai tuhi (ink) that had belonged
to the good priest. So with weak hand she set down some words, but even as she
wrote she rose up and threw out her hands, and called out: 'Francisco! Francisco!'
and fell back, and was dead."
The captain of the Pocahontas dashed the now fast-falling tears from his eyes,
and with his rough old heart swelling with pity for the poor wanderer, took from
Taku the sheet of paper on which the heart-broken girl's last words were traced.
Ere he could read it a low murmur of voices outside told him his crew had
returned. They carried a rude wooden shell, and then with bared heads the captain
and boatsteerer entered the house where she lay.
Again the old man raised the piece of navy blue cloth from off the sweet, sad
face, and a heavy tear dropped down upon her forehead. Then, aided by the gentle,
sympathetic women, his task was soon finished, and two of his crew entered
and carried their burden to its grave. Service there was none -- only the prayers
and tears of the brown women of Rapa-nui.
Ere he said farewell the captain of the whale-ship placed money in the hands of
Varua and Taku. They drew back, hurt and mortified. Seeing his mistake, the
seaman desired Varua to give the money to the girl Temeteri.
"Nay, sir," said Varua, "she would but give me bitter words. Even when she who is
now silent was not yet cold, Temeteri came to the door of the house where she lay
and spat twice on the ground, and taking up gravel in her hand cast it at her, and
cursed her in the name of our old heathen gods. And as for money, we here in
Rapa-nui need it not. May Christ protect thee on the sea. Farewell!"
The captain of the Pocahontas rose and came to the cabin table, and motioning to
his guests to fill their glasses, said --
"'Tis a real sad story, gentlemen, and if I should ever run across Doctor Francis, I
should talk some to him. But see here. Here is my log; my mate, who is a fancy
writist, wrote it at my dictation. I can't show you the letter that the pore
creature herself wrote; that I ain't going to show to any one."
The two captains rose and stood beside him, and read the entry in the log
of the Pocahontas.
This day I landed at Easter Island, to try and obtain as a 'green' hand a young Chilian
seaman who, the captain of the Chilian corvette O'Higgins informed me, had run away
there. On landing I was shown the body of a young girl, whom the natives stated to be
the deserter. She had died that morning. Buried her as decently as circumstances
would permit. From a letter she wrote on the morning of her death I learned her name
to be Se-ora Teresa T----. Her husband, Dr Francis T----, was an Englishman in
the service of the Chilian Republic. He was sent out on a scientific mission to the
island, and his wife followed him in the O'Higgins disguised as a blue-jacket. I should
take her to have been about nineteen years of age.
"SPENCE ELDRIDGE, Master.
"MANUAL LEGASPE, 2nd Officer.
"Brig Pocahontas, of Martha's Vineyard, U.S.A."
"Well, that's curious now," said the skipper of the Nassau; "why, I knew that man.
He left the island in the King Darius, of New Bedford, and landed at Ponape in the
Caroline Group, whar those underground ruins are at Metalanien Harbour. Guess he
wanted to potter around there a bit. But he got inter some sorter trouble among
the natives there, an' he got shot."
"Aye," said the captain of the Dagget, "I remember the affair. I was mate of the
Josephine, and we were lying at Jakoits Harbour when he was killed, and
now I remember the name too. Waal, he wasn't much account, anyhow."
Ten years ago a wandering white man stood, with Taku the Sailor, at the base of
the wall of the great papaku, and the native pointed out the last resting-place of
the wanderer. There, under the shadow of the Silent Faces of Stone, the brave
and loving heart that dared so much is at peace for ever.
Brantley Of Vahitahi
ONE day a trading vessel lay becalmed off Tatakoto, in the Paumotu Archipelago,
and the captain and supercargo, taking a couple of native sailors with them, went
ashore at dawn to catch some turtle. The turtle were plentiful and easily caught,
and after half a dozen had been put in the boat, the two white men strolled along
the white hard beach. The captain -- old, grizzled, and grim -- seemed to know the
place well, and led the way.
The island is very narrow, and as they left the beach and gained the shade of the
forest of coconuts that grew to the margin of high-water mark, they could see,
between the tall, stately palms, the placid waters of the lagoon, and a mile
or so across, the inner beach of the weather side of the island.
For a quarter of a mile or so the two men walked on till the widest part of the
island was reached. Here, under the shadow of some giant puka trees, the old
skipper stopped and sat down on a roughly hewn slab of coral, the remains of one
of those marae or heathen temples that are to be found almost anywhere in the
islands of Eastern Polynesia.
"I knew this place well, once," he said, as he pulled out his pipe. "I used to come
here when I was sailing one of Brander's vessels out of Tahiti. As we have done
now we did then -- came here for turtle. No natives have lived here for the past
forty years. Did you ever hear of Brantley?"
"Yes," answered the supercargo, "but he died long ago, did he not?"
"Aye, he died here, and his wife and sister too. They all lie here in this old marae."
And then he told the story of Brantley.
IT was six years since Brantley, with his companions in misery, had drifted ashore
at lonely Vahitahi in the Paumotu Group, and the kindly-hearted people had gazed
with pitying horror upon the dreadful beings that, muttering and gibbering
to each other, lay in the bottom of the boat, and pointed with long talon-like
fingers to their burnt and bloody thirst-tortured lips.
And now as he sits in the doorway of his thatched house, and gazes dreamily out
upon the long curve of creamy beach and wind-swayed line of palms that fringe
the leeward side of his island home, Brantley passes a brown hand slowly up and
down his sun-bronzed cheek, and thinks of the past.
He was so full of life -- of the very joy of living -- that time six years ago when he
sailed from Auckland on that fateful voyage in the Doris. It was his first voyage
as captain, and the ship was his own, and even now he remembers with a curious
time-dulled pang the last words of his only sister -- the Doris after whom he had
called his new ship -- as she had kissed him farewell -- "I am so glad, Fred, to hear
them call you 'Captain Brantley.'"
And the voyage -- the wild feverish desire to make a record passage to 'Frisco
and back; the earnest words of poor old white-headed Lutton, the mate, "not to
carry on so at night going through the Paumotu Group"; that awful midnight crash
when the Doris ran hopelessly into the wild boil of roaring surf on Tuanake Reef;
the white, despairing faces of five of his men, who, with curses in their
eyes upon his folly, were swept out of sight into the awful blackness of the night.
And then the days in the boat with the six survivors! Ah! the memory of that will
chill his blood to his dying day. Men have had to do that which he and the two who
came through alive with him had done.
How long they endured that black agony of suffering he knew not. By common
consent none of them ever spoke of it again.
Three months after they had drifted ashore, a passing sperm whaler, cruising
through the group, took away the two seamen, and then Brantley, after bidding
them a silent farewell, had, with bitter despair gnawing at his heart, turned his
face away from the ship, and walked. back into the palm-shaded village.
"I will never go back again," he had said to himself. And perhaps he was right; for
when the Doris went to pieces on Tuanake his hope and fortunes went with her,
and, save for that other Doris, there was no one in the world who cared for him.
He was not the man to face the world again with: "Why, he lost his first ship!"
whispered among his acquaintances.
And this is how Brantley -- young, handsome, and as smart a seaman (save for
that one fatal mistake) as ever trod a deck -- became Paranili the Papalagi,
and was living out his life among the people of solitary Vahitahi.
Ere a year had passed a trading captain bound to the Gambier Islands had given
him a small stock of trade goods, and the thought of Doris had been his salvation.
Only for her he would have sunk to the life of a mere idle, gin-drinking, and
dissolute beach-comber. As it was, his steady, straightforward life among the
people of the island was a big factor to his business success. And so every year
he sent money to Doris by some passing whaler or Tahitian trading schooner, but
twice only had he got letters from her; and each time she had said: "Let me come
to you, Fred. We are alone in the world, and may never meet again else.
Sometimes I awake in the night with a sudden fear. Let me come; my heart is
breaking with the loneliness of my life here, so far away from you."
But two years ago he had done that which would keep Doris from ever coming to
him, he thought. He had married a young native girl -- that is, taken her to wife in
the Paumotuan fashion -- and surely Doris, with her old-fashioned notions of right
and wrong, would grieve bitterly if she knew it.
Presently he rose, talking to himself as is the wont of those who have lived long
apart from all white associations, and sauntered up and down the shady
path at the side of his dwelling, thinking of Doris, and if he would ever see her
again. Then he entered the house.
Seated on the matted floor with her face turned from him was a young native girl
-- Luita, his wife. She was making a hat from the bleached strands of the
pandanus leaf, and as she worked she sang softly to herself in the semi-Tahitian
tongue of her people.
Brantley, lazily stretching himself out on a rough mat-covered couch, turned
towards her, and watched the slender, supple fingers -- covered, in Polynesian
fashion, with heavy gold rings -- as they deftly drew out the snow-white strands
of the pandanus. The long, glossy, black waves of hair that fell over her bare back
and bosom like a mantle of night hid her face from his view, and the man let his
glance rest in contented admiration upon the graceful curves of the youthful
figure; then he sighed softly, and again his eyes turned to the wide, sailless
expanse of the Pacific, that lay shimmering and sparkling before him under a
cloudless sky of blue, and he thought again of Doris.
Steadily the little hands worked in and out among the snowy strands, and now and
then, as she came to the tari, or refrain, of the old Paumotuan love-song, her
soft liquid tones would blend with the quavering treble of children that
"TerŸnavahori, teeth of pearl,
Knit the sandals for Talaloo's feet, /L>Sandals of afa thick and strong,
Bind them well with thy long black hair."
Suddenly the song ceased, and with a quick movement of her shoulders she threw
back the cloud of hair that fell around her arms and bosom, looked up at Brantley
and laughed, and, striking the mat on which she sat with her open palm, said --
"Haere mai, Paranili."
He rose from the couch and stooped beside her, with his hands resting on his
knees, and bending his brow in mock criticism, regarded her handiwork intently.
Springing to her feet, hat in hand, and placing her two hands on his now erect
shoulders, she looked into his face -- darker far than her own -- and said with a
"Behold, Paranili, thy pulou is finished, save for a band of black pu'ava which thou
shalt give me from the store."
"Mine?" said Brantley, in pretended ignorance. "Why labour so for me? Are there
not hats in plenty on Vahitahi?"
"True, O thankless one! but the women of the village say that thou lookest upon
me as a fool because I can neither make mats nor do many other things
such as becometh a wife. And for this did Merani, my cousin, teach me how to
make a wide hat of fala to shield thy face from the sun when thou art out upon
the pearling grounds. Ai-e-eh! my husband, but thy face and neck and hands are
as dark as those of the people of Makatea -- they who are for ever in their
canoes. . . . See, Paranili, bend thy head. Ai-e-eh! thou art a tall man, my
husband," and she trilled a happy, rippling laugh as she placed the hat on his head.
He placed one hand around the pliant waist and under the mantle of hair, and drew
her towards him, and then, moved by a sudden emotion, kissed her soft, red lips.
"Luita," he asked, "would it hurt thee if I were to go away?"
The girl drew away from him, and, for the first time in two years Brantley saw an
angry flush tinge her cheek a dusky red.
"Ah!" -- the contemptuous ring in her voice made the man's eyes drop -- "thou
art like all White Men -- was there ever one who was faithful? What other woman
is it that thou desirest? Is it Nia of Ahunui -- she who, when thy boat lay anchored
in the lagoon, swam off at night and asked thee for thy love -- the shameless
The angry light in the black eyes shone fiercely, and the dull red on her
cheeks had changed to the livid paleness of passion.
Brantley, holding the rim of the hat over his mouth, laughed secretly, pleased at
her first outburst of jealousy. Then his natural manliness asserted itself.
"Come here," he said.
Somewhat sullenly the girl obeyed and edged up beside him with face bent down. He
put his hand upon hers, and for a few seconds looked at the delicate tracery of
tattooing that, on the back, ran in thin blue lines from the finger tips to the
"What a d----d pity!" he muttered to himself; "this infernal tattooing would give
the poor devil away anywhere in civilization. Her skin is not as dark as that pretty
creole I was so sweet on in Galveston ten years ago . . . Well, she's good enough
for a broken man like me -- but I can't take her away -- that's certain."
A heavy tear splashed on his hand, and then he pulled her to him, almost savagely.
"See, Luita. I did but ask to try thee. Have no fear. Thy land is mine for ever."
The girl looked up, and in an instant her face, wet with tears, was laid against his
breast. Still caressing the dark head that lay upon his chest, Brantley stooped and
whispered something. The little tattooed hand released its clasp of his arm and
struck him a playful blow.
"And would that bind thee more to me, and to the ways of these our people
of Vahitahi," she asked, with still buried face.
"Aye," answered the ex-captain slowly, "for I have none but thee in the world to
She turned her face up. "Is there none -- not even one woman in far-off
Beretania, whose face comes to thee in the darkness."
Brantley shook his head sadly. Of course there was Doris, he thought, but he had
never spoken of her. Sometimes when the longing to see her again would come
upon him, he would have talked of her to his native wife, but he was by nature an
uncommunicative man, and the thought of how Doris must feel her loneliness
touched him with remorse and made him silent.
Another year passed, and matters had gone well with Brantley. Ten months before
he had dropped on one of the best patches of shell in the Paumotus, and to-day,
as he sits writing and smoking in the big room of his house, he looks contentedly
out through the open door to a little white painted schooner that lay at anchor on
the calm waters of the lagoon. He had just come back from Tahiti with her, and
the two thousand dollars he had paid for the vessel was an easy matter for a man
who was now making a thousand dollars a month.
"What a stroke of luck!" he writes to Doris. "Had I gone back to Sydney,
where would I be now? -- a mate, I suppose, on some deep-sea ship, earning £12 or
£14 a month. Another year or two like this, and I can go back a made man. Some
day, my dear, I may; but I will come back here again. The ways of the people have
become my ways."
He laid down his pen and came to the door, and stood thinking awhile and listening
to the gentle rustle of the palms as they swayed their lofty plumes to the breezy
"Yes," he thought, "I would like to go and see Doris, but I can't take Luita, and so
it cannot be. How that girl suspects me even now. When I went to Tahiti to buy the
schooner, I believe she thought she would never see me again.... What a fool I am!
Doris is all right, I suppose, although it is a year since I had a letter . . . and I --
could any man want more. I don't believe there's a soul on the island but thinks as
much of me as Luita herself does; and, by G--d! she's a pearl -- even though she
is only a native girl. No, I'll stay here; 'Kapeni Paranili' will always be a big man in
the Paumotus, but Fred Brantley would be nobody in Sydney -- only a common
merchant skipper who had made money in the islands. . . . And perhaps Doris is
So he thought and talked to himself, listening the while to the soft
symphony of the swaying palm-tops and the subdued murmur of the surf as the
rollers crashed on the distant line of reef away to leeward. Of late these fleeting
visions of the outside world -- that quick, busy world, whose memories, save for
those of Doris, were all but dead to him -- had become more frequent; but the
calm, placid happiness of his existence, and that strange, fatal glamour that for
ever enwraps the minds of those who wander in the islands of the sunlit sea -- as
the old Spanish navigators called Polynesia -- had woven its spell too strongly over
his nature to be broken. And now, as the murmur of women's voices caused him to
turn his head to the shady end of the verandah, the dark, dreamy eyes of Luita,
who with her women attendants sat there playing with her child, looked out at him
from beneath their long lashes, and told him his captivity was complete.
A week afterwards the people of Vahitahi were clustered on the beach putting
supplies of native food in the schooner's boat. That night he was to sail again for
the pearling grounds at Matahiva lagoon, and would be away three months.
One by one the people bade him adieu, and then stood apart while he said farewell
"E mahina tolu, little one," he said, "why such a gloomy face?"
The girl shook her head, and her mouth twitched. "But the miti, Paranili -- the
miti of my mother. She is wise in the things that are hidden; for she is one of
those who believe in the old gods of Vahitahi. . . . And there are many here of the
new lotu who yet believe in the old gods. And, see, she has dreamed of this
unknown evil to thee twice; and twice have the voices of those who are silent in
the marae called to me in the night, and said: 'He must not go; he must not go.'"
Knowing well how the old superstitious taint ran riot in the imaginative native mind,
Brantley did not attempt to reason, but sought to gently disengage her hands
from his arm.
She dropped on the sand at his feet and clasped his knees, and a long, wailing note
of grief rang out -
"Aue! aue! my husband! if it so be that thou dost not heed the voices that call in
the night, then, out of thy love for me and our child, let me come also. Then, if evil
befall thee, let us perish together."
Brantley raised his hand and pointed to the bowed and weeping figure. Some
women came and lifted her up. Then taking the tender face between his
rough hands, he bent his head to hers, sprang into the boat, and was gone.
WITH ten tons of shell snugly stowed in her hold, the little Tamariki was heading
back for Vahitahi after barely two months' absence. Brantley, as he leant over the
rail and watched the swirl and eddy of the creamy phosphorescence that hissed
and bubbled under the vessel's stern, felt well satisfied.
It was the hour of dawn, and the native at the tiller sang, as the stars began to
pale before the red flush that tinged the sky to windward, a low chant of farewell
to Fetuaho, the star of the morning, and then he called to Brantley, who to all his
crew was always "Paranili," and never "Kapeni," and pointed with his naked,
tattooed arm away to leeward, where the low outlines of an island began to show.
"Look, Paranili, that is Tatakoto, the place I have told thee of, where the turtle
makes the white beach to look black. Would it not be well for us to take some
home to Vahitahi?"
"Thou glutton!" said Brantley, good-humouredly, "dost thou think I am like to lose
a day so that thou and thy friends may fill thy stomachs with turtle meat?"
Rua Manu laughed, and showed his white, even teeth. "Nay, Paranili, not for
that alone; but it is a great place, that Tatakoto, and thou hast never landed there
to look, and Luita hath said that some day she would ask thee to take her there;
for, though she was born at Vahitahi, her blood is that of the people of Tatakoto,
who have long since lain silent in the maraes."
Brantley had often heard her speak of it, this solitary spot in the wide Pacific, and
now, as he looked at the pretty, verdure-clad island against the weather shore of
which the thundering rollers burst with a muffled roar, he was surprised at its
length and extent, and decided to pay it a visit some day.
"Not now, Rua," he said to the steersman, "but it shall be soon. Are there many
"Many? May I perish, but the trees are as the sand of the sea, and the nuts lie
thick upon the ground. Ai-e-eh! and the robber crabs are in thousands, and fat;
and the sea-birds' eggs!"
"Glutton again! Be content. In a little while we and as many of the people of
Vahitahi as the schooner will carry will go there and stay for the turtle season."
Three days afterwards the schooner was within fifty miles of his island home,
when Brantley was aroused at daylight from his watch below by the cry of
"Te pahi!" (a ship!) and hastening on deck he saw a large vessel bearing down
upon them. In half an hour she was close to, and Brantley recognised her as a brig
from Tahiti, that occasionally made a trading voyage to the Paumotus, and whose
skipper was a personal friend. Suddenly she hove-to and lowered a boat, which
came alongside the schooner, and the white man that steered jumped on deck and
held out his hand.
"How are you, Brantley?" and then his eye went quickly over the crew of the
schooner, then glanced through the open skylight into the little cabin, and a
hopeful, expectant look in his face died away.
"Very well, thank you, Latham. But what is wrong? -- you look worried."
"Come on board," said the captain of the brig, quietly, "and I'll tell you."
As Brantley took his seat beside him, Latham said: "I have bad news for you,
Brantley. Your sister is on board the brig, and I fear she will not live long. She
came down to Tahiti in the Marama from Auckland, and offered me a good round
sum to bring her to you."
"Has she been ill long, Latham?"
Latham looked at him curiously. "Didn't you know, Brantley? She's in a rapid
For a moment neither men spoke; then Latham gave a short cough.
"I feel it almost as badly as you, Brantley -- but I've got a bit more bad
news -- "
"Go on, Latham -- it can't matter much. My poor sister is everything to me."
"Just so. That's what I told Miss Brantley. Well, it's this -- your wife and child are
missing----" Latham glanced at him and saw that his hand trembled and then
grasped the gunwale of the boat.
"We got into Vahitahi lagoon about ten days ago, and I took Miss Brantley ashore.
What happened I don't exactly know, but the next night one of your whale-boats
was gone, and Luita and the child were missing. Your sister was in a terrible state
of mind, and offered me a thousand dollars to put to sea. Brantley, old man, I
wouldn't take a dollar from her -- God bless her -- but I did put to sea, and I've
searched nigh on twenty islands, and scores of reefs and sandbanks----"
"Thank you, Latham," said Brantley quietly; "when we get on board you can give
me further particulars of the islands you've searched."
"You can have my marked chart; I've got a spare one. Brace up, old man! you'll see
your sister in a minute. She is terribly cut up over poor Luita -- more so than I
knew you would be. But she was a grand little woman, Brantley, although she was
only a native."
"Yes," he answered, in the same slow, dazed manner, "she was a good little
girl to me, although she----" The words stuck in his throat.
Latham showed him into the brig's cabin, and then a door opened, and Doris threw
herself weeping into his arms.
"Oh, Doris," he whispered, "why did you not tell me you were ill? I would have come
to you long ago. I feel a brute----"
She placed her hand on his lips. "Never mind about me, Fred. Has Captain Latham
told you about----"
"Yes," he replied; and then suddenly: " Doris, I am going to look for her; I think I
know the place to which she has gone. It is not far from here. Doris, will you go on
back to Vahitahi with Latham and wait for me?"
"Fred," she whispered, "let me come with you. It will not be long, dear, before I am
gone, and it was hard to die away from you -- that is why I came; and perhaps we
may find her."
He kissed her silently, and then in five minutes more they had said farewell to
Latham, and were on their way to the schooner.
The crew soon knew from him what had happened, and Rua Manu, with his big eyes
filled with a wondering pity as he looked at the frail body and white face of Doris
lying on the skylight, wore the schooner's head round to the south-west at a sign
"Aye, Paranili," he said, in his deep, guttural tones, "it is to Tatakoto she
hath gone -- 'tis her mother's land."
That night, as she lay on the skylight with her hand in his, Doris told him all she
"They were all kind to me when I went ashore to your house, Fred, but Luita looked
so fiercely at me. . . . Her eyes frightened me -- they had a look of death in them.
"In the morning your little child was taken ill with what they call tataru, and I
wanted to give it medicine. Luita pushed my hand away and hugged the child to her
bosom; and then the other women came and made signs for me to go away. And
that night she and the child were missing, and one of your boats was gone."
"Poor Luita," said Brantley, stroking Doris's pale cheek, "she did not know you
were my sister. I never told her, Doris."
"She is a very beautiful woman, Fred. They told me at Tahiti that she was called
the pearl of Vahitahi; and oh! my dear, if we can but find her, I will make her love
me for your sake."
Late in the afternoon of the second day, just as the trade wind began to lose its
strength, the schooner was running along the weather-side of Tatakoto, and Rua
Manu, from the mast-head, called out that he saw the boat lying on the beach
inside the lagoon, with her sail set; and, as landing was not practicable on
the weather-side, the schooner ran round to the lee.
"We will soon know, Doris. It always rains in these islands at this time of the year,
so she would not suffer as I once did; but the sail of the boat is still set, and that
makes me think she has never left it. Wait till I come back again, Doris; you cannot
And Doris,throwing her weak arms round his neck, kissed him with a sob, and lay
back again to wait.
With Rua Manu and two others of his faithful native crew, Brantley walked quickly
across the island to the lagoon to where the boat lay. Luita was not there, and the
dark eyes of his sailors met his in a responsive glow of hope -- she had not died in
They turned back into the silent aisles of coconut palms, and then Rua Manu loudly
called her name.
"Listen," he said.
A voice -- a weak, trembling voice -- was singing the song of Talaloo.
"TerŸnavahori, bending low,
Bindeth the sandals on Talaloo's feet;
'Hasten, O hasten, lover true,
O'er the coral, cruel and sharp,
Over the coral, and sand, and rock,
Snare thee a turtle for our marriage feast;
Ia akoe! brave lover mine.'"
"In the old marae, Paranili," said Rua Manu, pointing to the remains of a
ruined temple. Motioning to the seamen to remain outside, Brantley entered the
crumbling walls of the old heathen marae. At the far end was a little screen of
coconut boughs. He stooped down and went in.
A few minutes passed, and then his hand was thrust out between the branches as
a sign for them to follow.
One by one they came and sat beside Brantley, who held the wasted figure of the
wanderer in his arms. The sound of his voice had brought back her wavering
reason, and she knew them all now. She knew, too, that her brief young life was
ebbing fast; for, as each of the brown men pressed their lips to her hand, tears
coursed down their cheeks.
"See, men of Vahitahi, my Englishman hath come to me, a fool that fled from his
house . . . because I thought that he lied to me. Teloma was it who first mocked,
and said: ''Tis his wife from Beretania who hath come to seek him;' and then other
girls laughed and mocked also, and said: 'Ah-he! Luita, this fair-faced girl who
sayeth she is thy husband's sister, Ah-he!' . . . and their words and looks stung
me. . . . So at night I took my child and swam to the boat. . . . My child, see, it is
here," and she touched a little mound in the soil beside her.
There was a low murmur of sympathy, and then the brown men went
outside and covered their faces with their hands, after the manner of their race
when death is near, and waited in silence.
Night had fallen on the lonely island, and the far-off muffled boom of the breakers
as they dashed on the black ledges of the weather reef would now and then be
borne into the darkness of the little hut.
"Put thy face to mine, Paranili," she whispered; "I grow cold now."
As the bearded face of the man bent over her, one thin, weak arm rose waveringly
in the air, and then fell softly round his neck, and Brantley, with his hand upon her
bosom, felt that her heart had ceased to beat.
The next day he sailed the schooner into the lagoon, and Doris pressed her lips on
the dead forehead of the native girl ere she was laid to rest. Something that Doris
had said to him as they walked away from her grave filled Brantley's heart with a
deadly fear, and as he took her in his arms his voice shook.
"Don't say that, Doris. It cannot be so soon as that. I was never a good man; but
surely God will spare you to me a little longer."
But it came very soon -- on the morning of the day that he intended sailing out of
the lagoon again, Doris died in his arms on board the schooner, and
Brantley laid her to rest under the shade of a giant puka-tree that overshadowed
the stones of the old marae.
That night he called Rua Manu into the cabin and asked him if he could beat his way
back to Vahitahi in the schooner.
"'Tis an easy matter, Paranili. So that the sky be clear and I can see the stars,
then shall I find Vahitahi in three days."
"Good. Then to-morrow take the schooner there, and tell such of the people as
desire to be with me to come here, and bring with them all things that are in my
house. It is my mind to live here at Tatakoto."
As the schooner slipped through the narrow passage, he stood on the low, sandy
point, and waved his hand in farewell.
A week later the little vessel dropped her anchor in the lagoon again, and Rua Manu
and his crew came ashore to seek him.
They found him lying under the shade of the puka-tree with his revolver in his hand
and a bullet-hole in his temple.
His Native Wife
Chapter I: Captain Amos Bennett Seeks A New Second Mate
"Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break and the wine runneth out and the bottles
THE Kellet Passmore, of New Bedford, had just dropped anchor in the Bay of
Islands, and Captain Amos Bennett came ashore to look for some new hands. But
the skipper was pretty well known, and although there were plenty of men, both
whites and natives, to be had by any other whale-ship captain, there was none
anxious to try his luck in the Kellet Passmore. It was far better, they argued, for
them to do another month or two of solid loafing ashore, where there was plenty
of cheap grog, and where the charms of very unconventional Maori female society
were so easily available, and wait for another whale-ship to come along, than to
ship in this particular barque. For every "blubber hunter," from Talcahuana on the
coast of South America to Kororareka in the Bay of Islands on the coast of New
Zealand, knew that Captain Bennett was not a nice man to sail with, and
those who did sail with him, whether the old barque met with bad luck or "greasy"
luck, generally left her at the first port she touched at after a cruise, with broken
noses, smashed jaws, or fractured ribs, superinduced by knuckle-dusters,
belaying-pins, and other cheerless incentives to industry wielded by the unsparing
hands of Captain Amos Bennett and the afterguard of his ship.
Smoking an extremely long and very strong cigar, Captain Bennett slouched into
the leading combined store and grog shanty, which in those days was the
rendezvous of every one living in the Bay, and in amiable tones invited every one
present to "come and hev suthin'."
Some twelve or fifteen men, whites, Kanakas, and Maoris, who were loafing about
the store in expectation of the captain's visit, accepted his invitation with sundry
nods, pushes, and winks among themselves, and after drinking a stiff tot of what
was known locally as "hell biled down to a small half pint," Mauta, a Tongan
half-caste boat-steerer, respectfully asked the captain if he had had much luck on
his present cruise.
This was Captain Bennett's opportunity, and for the following ten minutes he lied
rapidly and artistically about the Kellet Passmore's wonderful luck in past
cruises, but admitted that, on the present one, since he had left New Bedford five
months before, he had taken but three whales, "princerpully," he said, "on
accaount of some passengers I hev aboard who are in a h---- of a hurry ter
get up ter Ponape, in the Caroline group."
"Traders, Captain Bennett?" asked the store-keeper.
"No," replied the American, drawing up one of his long legs, clasping his lengthy
arms around his knee, and shutting his left eye, "mission'ries from Bosting, agoin'
daown tew the Carolines tew save the ragin' heathen in his blindness from bowin'
daown tew wood an' stone, and tew teach them tew charge a dollar each for a
chicken tew the ungodly and Gentile sailor man."
The men laughed, and Captain Bennett, without moving a muscle of his long,
solemn visage, nodded to the store-keeper to fill the glasses again.
"No wonder you losa the whala, captain," said a short, muscular Portuguese, who
wanted a ship, but had no intention of trying the Kellet Passmore with her
present commander, "de dam missionara he bringa you bada lucka, eh?"
"Waal," said Bennett, eyeing the speaker keenly through his half-closed eyes, "I
won't say that, because it's jest my own fault. Yew see, boys, it's jest this way.
these here people -- a man and two females -- are darned anxious tew get daown
tew the Carolines, and the Bosting Board of Missions paid me five hundred dollars
each for 'em, to give 'em a passage in my ship. Consikently, although we saw
whales often enough, I only lowered after 'em three times, when they was close to.
Yew see, these here people heving paid a big passage-money, air entitled to
get there ez quick ez I can take em."
An incredulous grin went round among the men, which Bennett affected not to
notice, then he resumed by remarking, that as he always liked to do the square
thing he was going to count the fifteen hundred dollars' passage-money as part of
the ship's take.
"That sounds square," whispered a white sailor to a young, seaman-like man who
sat upon a case at the further end of the store. "He can't be a bad sort. I'm for
one if he wants men."
"Lies," said the young fellow; "but don't let me stop you. I can tell you all about
him though. He's the two ends and bight of a lying swab."
Having given those present two drinks each, Captain Bennett got to business, and
lighting another cigar, asked them if any of them wanted to try their luck in the
But although they drank his rum cheerfully, and were willing to drink more, and
listened with stolid complacency to his alluring inducements about a full ship in
twelve months, he talked in vain.
Then the deep fountains of Captain Amos Bennett's nautical blasphemy were
broken up, and having violently cursed each man separately and the lot
collectively, and insinuated that they were not fit to tend cows, let alone kill
whales, he withdrew to look for men elsewhere.
An hour or two later he strode down towards his boat with five Maori hands
in tow. When close to the beach some one hailed him from the rear, and the
leathern-visaged Yankee, chawing fiercely at his Manilla, slewed round on his heel
and, with needless profanity, asked the speaker what the ---- he wanted.
"I believe you want men, sir."
"Not the kinder men bummin' around here, anyway," snarled Bennett, recognising
in the man who spoke to him the young fellow who had sat upon the box in the
corner of the store; and then looking at the bronzed face and muscular figure of
his questioner, he asked:
"Air yew one of them Yahoos I was talkin' to while back?"
"I was there," replied the young man quietly, "but," and he stepped directly in
front of the American, "if you call me a Yahoo you'll lose a good man for the
Kellet Passmore, and get a hell of a bashing into the bargain."
The skipper of the whale-ship was no coward, but he knew he would stand a poor
show with the man before him, and he wanted men badly. His thin face underwent
some hideous squirmings and contortions intended for an amused smile.
"Young feller, yew hev some spirit; I kin see that right away. Naow, I do want men,
and yew want a ship, and the Kellet Passmore is jest ----"
"Stow all that," said the man coolly. "I know all about the Kellet Passmore and all
about you, too. I'm willing to go in her for part of the cruise. But it'll take a
smarter man than you to haze me, so don't try it on."
The audacity of this speech seemed to stagger the American considerably, but he
soon recovered himself. "Yew air mighty smart, young feller," he said presently, in
a low, rasping voice, and his thin lips parted and showed his yellow teeth; "and
what sorter persition aboard of my ship may I hev the honour ev asking yew to
"Any d----d thing you like. I hear you've got a lot of cripples for boat-steerers, and
you can't get a better man than me."
"Do tell?" and Bennett grinned sarcastically, "then you'll be a darned different
sort from any other Britisher that ever went whalin'. Been in the business long,
"Ten years or so, off and on," was the impatient reply.
The skipper beckoned to his boat's crew, who lay upon their oars waiting for him,
to back on to the beach, then with a quick glance at the other man, he said:
"Yes, come aboard, young feller; I guess we'll pull together. Seems to me your
face is kinder familiar like tew me. What was your last ship?"
"The Wanderer, of Sydney."
"No, not in the Wanderer. I was boat-steerer six years ago in the Prudence
Hopkins, of New Bedford; I was mate of the Wanderer. Got any more
Another attempt at a pleasant smile distorted Captain Bennett's features. "Waal,
naow, see here; this is surprisin'! Why, I cert'nly thought I reckernised yew. Yew
was in the Wanderer in Vavau, daown in the Friendly Islands, 'bout a year ago.
Why, I remember comin' aboard ev that thar ship one day."
"So do I," nonchalantly replied the young man; "a couple of your hands -- Kanakas
-- swam off to our ship from yours, and you wanted to get them back."
"That's so, mister. I remember the circumstances exactly. Darned lazy cusses
they were, too."
"Think so? I don't. We had them with us on the Wanderer for ten months; better
men never struck a fish. You couldn't get anything out of them, though."
"Mister, I could not. They belonged to the Matelotas Islands, in the Carolines, and
when my second mate started to rouse 'em around and knock some of their
darned Kanaka laziness outer them, they actooaly driv a knife inter him, and
darned near killed him."
"Served him d----d well right," was the curt response.
The American captain kept silence for a while, and nought broke the silence save
the sound of the oars as the boat swept quickly toward the barque.
Chapter II: On Board The Kellet Passmore
IN a few minutes the boat ranged alongside; the five new Maori hands, preceded by
Captain Bennett and the other white man, clambered up on deck, and the boat was
about to be passed astern, when the skipper called to the mate:
"Mr Herrera, I reckon yew kin keep the boat alongside. Thar's goin' ter be some
changes aboard this ship in a few minutes, and thet boat's goin' ashore agin."
The mate, a dark-browed, black-whiskered man of thirty-five or so, whose regular
features and olive complexion showed him to be either a Spaniard or a Portuguese,
answered the rasping accents of the Yankee skipper with a soft, modulated "Ay,
ay, sir," and nodding a "Good-day, sir," to the stranger, whom he could see was,
by his dress and demeanour, no common seaman, turned away to execute his
"Come below, mister," said Bennett, leading the way down below.
There was no one in the cabin but the mulatto steward, who was laying the table,
and the captain, taking a seat, motioned his visitor to another.
"Yew was sayin', Mr ----; I disremember naow ef yew told me your name?"
"Barrington -- John Barrington," said the other, looking directly into
Bennett's eyes and stroking his well-trimmed pointed beard.
"Waal, Mr Barrington, I ain't agoin' tew jaw long over this business. I want men --
that's what I came in here to this rotten hole fur. Waal, I've got five Maoris, and I
reckon that's all I can get. But I want a second mate."
Barrington nodded, and, still stroking his beard, waited for more.
"Waal, look here. I rather think you'll suit me, although," and here the skipper
scratched a bony cheek meditatively and squinted atrociously, "although yew air a
Britisher, and ----"
"And you're a Down East Yank, used to Down East mates, and Dago second mates,
and mangy greasers of all sorts. I'm a Britisher, as you say; but if you don't want
me, why the blazes did you bring me aboard? This rotten old crate of yours isn't
the only whale-ship in the Pacific!" and Barrington took up his hat.
"Sit daown, mister, sit daown, and don't yew use sich vi'lent language," and
Bennett indicated by a backward jerk of his dirty thumb and another villainous
squint, a half-opened cabin door at his back, "thar's females in thar, mister --
females from Bosting!" and he grinned.
Barrington muttered an apology, not to the captain, but to the soft murmur of
women's voices that he now heard for the first time.
The hatchet-faced skipper pondered a moment, and then said briskly:
"Look here, naow, it's no use either you or me backin' and fillin' in this
ridiklous sorter way. My second mate wants to leave, an' I ain't too dreadful
anxious to stop him -- he don't suit me by no means -- naow, yew want a ship an' I
want an officer. I ain't got but two boat-headers in the ship worth a cuss; so ef
yew are willin', waal, I'm willin'."
"I don't want to make the whole cruise with you, I only want to get up to the
Carolines. If you like to put me ashore anywhere near Ponape, or Truk, or a little
island called L&ocaron;sap, I'm willing to do second mate's duty aboard. I don't
want a 'cut in', if we kill any whales between here and there -- all I want is a
passage to any one of the places I've named."
"Young man, ef yew want a free passage in this ship I recken yew hev got to pay
"Just as you like; I'm able and willing to pay. But then, mind, I don't do a hand's
turn aboard this ship if I pay my passage."
"What might be your objek, mister, in going daown thar at all, ef yew don't mind
An angry reply was on the young man's lips, but he stopped it.
"I don't see how the devil it concerns you -- if I go as a passenger -- but I will tell
you. I was trading down on Ponape a little over two years ago, and got tired of it. I
ran out of trade goods, and had no money to buy any. So I shipped again in
the Wanderer, and the skipper landed my native wife at L&ocaron;sap, where her
mother's people belong. She's to wait there till I return. Then I'm going back to
Ponape, or Yap, or any other place where there's money to be made. I've got no
trade goods, but have money enough to buy some from the first ship that comes
Bennett considered a moment or two, and then said: "Waal, young fellow, I recken
we can make a deal -- whar do yew say yew want to go ashore?"
"L&ocaron;sap, if you can manage it. That's where my wife is living; if not, Truk,
or one of the islands thereabouts will do me. I'm bound to get a passage to
L&ocaron;sap from Truk in one of the big canoes that go there once a year."
"It's a deal, mister. I'll send my second mate ashore here, and be darned to him,
and yew can take his place. Ef we don't get set too fur to the eastward by the
current -- there's nothin' but ragin' calms and blarsted hurricanes up about there
this time of the year -- I'll land yew on L&ocaron;sap."
"Right," said Barrington, "when you send the boat ashore here with your second
mate let your men get my chest from the store. It's all ready packed, and nothing
to pay on it."
"Naow, thet's business. I kin see that yew an' me'll git along bully. Here, steward,
bring us suthin' to drink, and then tell Mr Duggan I want him."
Having secured a man whom he was sure would prove a good officer,
Captain Amos Bennett was now in a good temper, and in a few minutes after he
had settled with Barrington he had told him all about the voyage of the Kellet
Passmore since she had left New Bedford, and the shortcomings of his crew.
Then his natural inborn curiosity asserted itself again, and he began to question
Barrington as to his reasons for leaving the Wanderer, "which, fer a colonial
whaler, was most extr'or'nary lucky!"
Drinking off his grog, the young man put his hand inside his coat, drew out some
papers, and laid them on the table. There was an angry light in his eye, which the
inquisitive American was not slow to perceive, and he began:
"Waal, I don't want to pester yew onnesscessarily like, but I thought----"
Barrington interrupted him.
"That's all right. I left the Wanderer in Sydney two months ago, and came over
here to look out for another ship. Why I left her doesn't concern you. I was not
asked to leave her, as that will show you, Captain Bermett," and he handed him a
letter. "Do you know Captain Codrington? He's a countryman of yours."
"Rather think I did. He's from daown my way -- Martha's Vineyard -- an' a real
smart man, although he did take to whalin' under the British flag," and Captain
Bennett gave an amicable snort, and took the paper offered him.
It contained but a few lines, saying that the writer, William Codrington,
regretted that Barrington had decided to leave the Wanderer, and urging him to
reconsider the matter.
Just then the steward came in, and Bennett, handing the letter back, said:
"Whar's Mr Duggan, steward?"
"On deck, sir," answered Herrera the mate, who just then came in the cabin.
"Send him down, then," and an unpleasant look came over Bennett's face.
The mate, as he turned to go, passed the half-opened cabin door on the starboard
side. He pulled it to gently, and with something like a smile on his face, went on
deck and called out:
"Mr Duggan, come below, please."
In a few seconds a short, stout man tramped down the companion-way and stood
in front of the captain.
"Mr Duggan, yew don't suit me, and I'm quite willin' fur yew tew go ashore----"
"And I'm d----d glad to get clear of you and this rotten old hooker of a barque.
You're a lyin' bully, and this ship ain't fit for a white man to sail in."
"Not fur a white-livered sort like yew, Duggan," snarled back Bennett. "Why, yew
ain't fit fur anything better'n cod-fishin'."
"He is too good and honest a man to remain on board this ship, Captain Bennett,"
said a soft voice, and a young woman opened the cabin door that the mate
had closed, and stepped into the main cabin.
Bennett dropped his eyes and made no answer.
"And so you are going, Mr Duggan," she said, "my sister and I shall miss you very
much. Good-bye," and she put her white hand into Duggan's huge paw.
"Good-bye, Miss Trenton, and God bless you, miss, and bring you safe home again!"
Almost ere Barrington could get more than a glance at the girl's pale face and
deep hazel eyes she had entered her cabin again and closed the door, and the
second mate was addressing his farewell remarks to the captain, the which, once
he was assured that the young lady was out of hearing, he concluded by consigning
Bennett to eternal flames and perdition in a vigorous and lucid manner. Then he
tramped off on deck again, where the mate was awaiting him.
"Good-bye, Duggan," said Herrera, holding out his hand, "I am sorry you and the
old man can't agree; but you and I part friends, don't we?"
"Oh yes -- yes. I've got nothing against you. You only knock the men about from
force of habit; Bennett does it from pure natural cussedness. Well, anyway, I wish
the ship luck."
"Thanks. I don't like Bennett much myself, but I like the old Passmore."
"Especially when there's a pretty girl like Kate Trenton aboard. Look here,
Herrera, just you, mind your bearings. You ain't a fit man for a girl like
The dark, handsome face flushed, and with a curt "good-bye" the mate walked
away, and Duggan went down over the side into the boat and was pulled ashore.
By sunset the Kellet Passmore was under weigh again, heading for Tongatabu, in
the Friendly Islands, where Bennett intended cruising for a few weeks before going
to the northward.
Just before supper that evening Barrington went below to get a pipe of tobacco.
The lamp had not yet been lit, and the spacious cabin of the old barque was in
He was turning to go on deck again when Captain Bennett, who was standing
talking to some one, called him over and introduced him to the Reverend Hosea
"By God!" muttered Barrington under his breath, "it's that meddlesome Yankee
Baptist parson who was always worrying Nadee about her soul;" but he put out his
"How are you, Mr Barrington? Is it well with you?" said the missionary, who always
affected a Scriptural style of address. "'Tis indeed strange we meet again?"
"I'm all right, thank you," said Barrington quietly, and then he added, "I did not
imagine that you and Mrs Parker were on board. I trust she is well?"
"Well, I thank the Lord! Mr Barrington; she will be here presently. And how
comes it, Mr Barrington, that we meet you here?"
"Oh, I'm getting back again. And may I ask the same question of you, Mr Parker?
How comes it that you are so far away from Ponape?"
"It pleased Providence that the Morning Star, our missionary ship, should be cast
away on Strong's Island a year back. My wife and I, who were then in America, thus
had no means of returning to the Vineyard, save by a whale-ship."
"Ah! I see," and Barrington, who had no wish to hear any more, went on deck.
"Sez it was Providence ez wrecked that thar brig, does he?" said Captain Bennett
to his new second mate, as he followed him on deck. "Waal, ef that ain't rich!
Providence, hey? It was just because the darned wooden-headed galoot of a
captain hedn't got sense enough tew try and tow her off when the current swep'
her again' the rocks; instead of doin' which he let go his anchor in 'bout a mile deep
of water, right 'long-side the reef, and trusted to Providence. Consikently, when
she swung round she bashed her starn inter pulp on the reef. I hain't got no
patience with creatures that get inter a hell of a mess and then start yowlin' 'bout
the will of Providence and sich. It's jes' sickenin'!"
Half an hour afterwards, when Barrington came down to supper, Helen
Parker rose to meet him with extended hand. Her face was deadly pale, but the
quick eye of Jose Herrera saw that her hand trembled and a deep rose colour
momentarily flooded her face from brow to chin.
Some mere common-place escaped her as Barrington took her hand, and she said:
"This is my sister, Mr Barrington. I have just been telling her that you and I were
The hazel-eyed, curly-haired girl who sat by her rose and shook hands with the new
officer, and said, with a straight look at the tan-hided countenance of Amos
"How do you do, Mr Barrington? I am sorry Mr Duggan has gone; but I hope I shall
like you as much as I did him."
The new second mate laughed, and even Bennett gave his cachinnatory snuffle;
but Mrs Parker kept her pale face bent over her plate, and did not raise it again till
supper was over.
"I suppose," said Barrington that night to Herrera, as the two sat smoking in the
latter's cabin for a few minutes, "that that pretty girl is going down to the
Carolines to marry some pasty-faced Yankee missionary like the Reverend Hosea
Herrera, who lay out at full length in his bunk smoking a Manilla, raised himself on
one elbow and looked searchingly at his fellow-officer, his black eyes shining and
sparkling in the darkness.
"Not if I can help it, Mr Barrington," he said.
Barrington was startled, but said nothing; and then, Herrera, still leaning his
black-bearded chin upon his hand, spoke again in his soft, finely-modulated voice.
"Which, Mr Barrington, think you, is the most beautiful of the two?"
"I don't know, I'm sure," replied Barrington carelessly; "both are good-looking."
"Good-looking! Mother of God! Both are lovely -- and, Mr Barrington, the wife of
that ugly devil of a padre looked at you in a way that I would give five years of my
life for her sister to so look at me. My friend, that woman is in love with you!"
"You are mistaken, Mr Herrera," said Barrington coldly, "and I may as well tell you
that I've got a wife -- as good a girl as ever I want -- and it's not in my nature to
run after any one else's wife; and I'm going back to her now, poor little devil!"
The dark-faced mate lay back again and smiled softly to himself.
Presently he resumed: "I do not want to ask impertinent questions of you, but is
your wife young and beautiful?"
"Ah! Then you have no eyes for another woman. But, tell me, is it not a very
wonderful thing that such a beautiful woman as the padre's -- parson, as you call
him -- this padre's wife, should marry such a man? Dios! he is as ugly as a
sun-fish, and with no more brains."
"I daresay he's a good enough man in his way," replied Barrington; "but, as you
say, he's got no brains."
The mate laughed. "And she cares no more for him than she does for black
Manuel, the ship's cook! Truly, it is wonderful that so sweet a woman should marry
a miserable little priest."
Chapter III. The Wife Of The Reverend Hosea Parker
CERTAINLY there was something to wonder about, for the Reverend Hosea Parker
was about the last man in the world one would expect to see a lively and intelligent
woman marry, for, while possessing features as homely as a stone jug, they were
not nearly so expressive. Like a great many of his colleagues, however, he was not
as bad as he looked, and honestly believed that Providence intended him for a
great mission -- i.e. to convert the heathen from his blindness. Until the age of
thirty or so he had, to use his own words, been "in the world, a wordly man,"
earning a living as a compositor on a Boston religious newspaper largely
devoted to alarmist statements about the vast numbers of South Sea Islanders
who were hurrying to perdition for want of missionary effort. The confined nature
of his occupation, and a course of attendances at revival meetings, at one of
which he fell down in a fit, had led to a serious illness, from which he recovered a
"concerned" man. Six months afterwards he was accepted as a "labourer" in the
mission field; and a natural, rough eloquence he possessed so worked upon the
feelings of Helen Trenton, one of the young members of a Boston church in which
he was preaching one Sunday, that she -- in her turn -- went into hysterics. On
being brought to she found the Reverend Hosea Parker and her mother by her side
in her parents' house, and the latter, being very wealthy but pious people,
requested the rugged-faced preacher to question her as to whether she was
feeling "concerned." The result was that -- while under a sort of mild religious
mania -- twelve months later she became Mrs Hosea Parker, and went out with
her husband to the Caroline Islands. Six years' residence among the unconventional
people of those parts convinced her that if her husband was intended for a saver
of souls she was not, and that Providence, or the tropical climate, had dealt very
hardly with her in the matter of her complexion. After a short visit to her native
city she was now returning with her husband with a despairing feeling in her heart
that she wasn't so good a woman as her Boston friends supposed her to
be, and that the advent of a young English trader to Ponape, where she was
engaged in hopelessly "labouring" to instruct the native girls in orthodox morality,
had a good deal to do with it.
But that was three or four years ago, and the English trader had gone away out of
her life altogether, when one day a whale-ship called in to buy turtle and poultry
and let the crew indulge in the usual amusements common to whalers' crews in the
North Pacific Islands.
That evening the Reverend Hosea Parker had told her in his solemn,
wooden-headed manner that the captain of the whaler had informed him that he
had lost one of his officers during the voyage, and had shipped Barrington in his
"And I really must say, Helen, that I am not sorry to see that young man go away
from here. His manner of life here is a standing reproach to us both, and I have
wrestled hard with him, but without avail."
"He is no worse than most of the white men in these islands, Hosea," she had said
timidly. "You must remember that by the native custom Nadee is his wife -- just
as much as I am yours. I am afraid, Hosea, that you and I are a little bit prejudiced
against John Barrington."
Poor little woman! She wasn't prejudiced against the good-looking, devil-may-care
English, trader, but she included herself -- merely as a salve to her wifely
The Reverend Hosea sat down, and, placing his hands upon his knees, looked into
his wife's face with the same expression he was wont to employ when
reprimanding one of his native girl-pupils for indulging in the forbidden pleasures of
a heathen dance on the beach by moonlight.
"Have you possibly forgotten what that young man said to me when I spoke to him
with reference to the deplorable and wicked life he is leading?"
Mrs Hosea had not forgotten. Indeed, she had been present and well within hearing
on the occasion, and was not likely to forget the incident. However, being a wise
woman, she said nothing, and when that evening Mr John Barrington strolled
nonchalantly up to the mission-house to say good-bye to the Reverend Hosea, to
whom, although he had always been at loggerheads with him, the trader bore no
malice, pretty Mrs Parker stifled her desire to cry, and said good-bye bravely
enough. Then, when from the mission-house verandah she saw the Tuscana slowly
sail out of Jakoits Harbour, she went back into the sitting-room, and, sobbing
softly to herself, wondered what would have happened if she had met handsome
Jack Barrington before the Reverend Hosea Parker had convinced her that she
was a fitting colleague for him to help to save the souls of the "perishing"
heathen in the Caroline Islands. And so, as she thought, the one man who
could have been anything to her passed away out of her life, and his absence
seemed to accentuate the personal homeliness of feature of the Reverend Hosea
more and more to her, so much so that one day during the voyage back she told
her sister Kate, who was coming out to the islands with her to stay, that she
didn't care a straw about either the dull-minded man she had married or the
heathen in whom he took such a useless interest.
The big hazel eyes of Kate Trenton opened in shocked surprise. The day had been
close and sultry, and the Kellet Passmore was lying becalmed with the pitch
bubbling up between her. deck planking, and the two women felt half stifled.
"Poor Helen!" said the girl, stroking her sister's face, "the weather has upset you.
I know I feel it myself. Even Mr Herrera is going about wearing a wide straw hat
instead of his usual cap."
"Kate," and Mrs Parker sat up on the lounge where she had been lying down
endeavouring to read, "Kate, do you know that Mr Herrera seems to take
altogether too much interest in you. You surely would not be foolish enough to let
yourself care for him?"
Kate Trenton turned her face away for a moment or two from her sister's eyes
and made no answer, but her cheek reddened visibly.
Then Helen drew the girl down beside her.
"What a hypocrite I am, Kate, to talk like this to you. Of course I know you
love him, and he loves you, and ----"
The girl put her hand over her sister's mouth.
"Hush! Helen, don't say that."
"But I do say it, dear. Why shouldn't I? Don't make the horrible mistake that I have
made -- marry a man to please your parents and then meet some one that you
"Helen!" and Kate put her arms lovingly around her, alarmed at something that
sounded dangerously like the first break of a sob in her voice, "surely, dear, you
have never met any one whom you have cared for in that manner but Hosea?"
The mention of Hosea's name broke up Mrs Parker's resolution never to tell Kate
anything about the matter.
"Yes, I did," she whimpered, "and the horrible part of it was that he lived quite
close to us, and although he and I met very often I don't believe he ever gave me a
thought, and when he went away the cruel wretch asked me if I would mind letting
(sob) his wife stay with me (sob) until he came (sob) back for her."
"Helen, what dreadful things you are telling me! What does it all mean? Who was
"I might as well tell you all about it, Kate," she said wearily. "I don't suppose I shall
ever see him again, and I want you to see what a silly fool I have been about a man
that I suppose would have made game about the 'sky-pilot's wife' among his
rough associates had he known that I cared for him."
"Poor Helen!" and Kate Trenton's hand stole into hers.
Chapter IV: "We Cannot Put New Wine Into Old Bottles"
"HE was, or rather had been, a mate on a Sydney whale-ship, but quarrelled with
his captain" -- her face flushed scarlet -- "quarrelled over a native girl, and
Barrington -- that was his name -- broke the captain's jaw with a blow of his fist
and then deserted. All this took place at an island hundreds of miles away from
Ponape. The ship sailed without him, and a few months afterwards he turned up at
a native village about four miles from the mission; he brought with him a young girl
and an old hag. The natives took a great liking to him, and he lived with them for a
month or so until a trading-ship called. The captain sold him some trade goods, and
the next thing we heard was that the chief had built him a house -- for himself
and Nadee, his native wife."
"Helen! Surely you could never have cared for a man who would disgrace himself in
that way, even had you been a free woman!"
Mrs Parker laughed sarcastically.
"My dear Kate, when you have lived a few years in the Islands you will hold
different opinions about a man 'disgracing himself'"
"It is a disgrace, Helen," said the girl hotly. "Supposing one of our brothers
married a coloured woman, what would you and I -- what would the world think?"
"In America or Europe, that he had shocking bad taste -- in the South Sea Islands,
that he meant to settle down and live decently."
"Helen! How can you, a missionary's wife, say such things? What would your
"My husband, Kate, is only a unit in a vast crowd of silly people who throw away
millions of dollars every year in sending out people sillier than themselves to worry
heathen people about their souls."
"O Helen, Helen! is this the end of your once great hope? I remember how fervent
you once were about coming out with Hosea."
"Oh yes, so do I, Kate," she answered desperately, pushing back her hair wearily
from her temples, "but I know better now. I wish mother and father hadn't been
quite so pious. Then I would never have met and married that estimable blockhead,
the Reverend Hosea Parker."
"For shame, Helen!"
"I'm sick and tired of it all, Kate. If you were not with me I would jump overboard.
Perhaps, if I hadn't met that wretched man I would have gone on all right to
the end in the laudable effort to put new wine into old bottles, meaning thereby
cramming simple native minds with Boston-made theology."
"Helen," and Kate Trenton wound her arms round her sister's waist, "I'm so sorry,
dear. Try and put this man out of your mind."
"Don't be such a little fool. Of course it's all finished long ago; but oh, Kit, I was
sorry to see him go. He was so different from every other man I have ever met.
Hosea disliked him intensely."
"Quite right, too," said Kate stoutly; "how dared any man make love to you?"
"That is just what he did not do. He only came to the mission-house occasionally,
and Hosea talked such dreadful twaddle to him in that hideously stupid, dull voice
of his that he was glad to get away."
"What could such a man as he, Helen, have to talk about in common with your
"A good deal, Kit. He had a great influence over the natives, and Hosea was
jealous, and made no secret of it. Sometimes there would nearly be a quarrel," and
here she laughed, "and I would enjoy it -- anything was better than listening to
Hosea's monotonous droning about the perversity of some chief or other who
didn't want Christianity, but did want square gin, and axes, and knives, and
muskets, and refused to cut down his harem to one. There, don't be shocked,
dear, but just sit quietly and listen. It's such a relief for me to break out at
last and let you see what a scandalous creature I am. But, oh, Kit, dear, just
imagine what I have gone through for nearly six years. Night after night to sit in
the front room of the mission-house and listen to Hosea droning out his
translations of the Scriptures to our sleepy native servants; then to go to bed
and awake suddenly in the silence of the night and hear the droning of the surf --
which was almost as bad as Hosea's -- on the reef miles away. Sometimes I would
get up and have a good cry and wish that I were dead. Perhaps if I had had a child
to love the life I lived would have been less horrible."
"Were there no other white men near you but that -- that man?"
"Oh yes, several. But none like him. There were three or four traders on the
island, ignorant, rough men, but they never came near the mission, except on one
occasion when one of them, named Paddy Kerr, called on behalf of his colleagues
to tell Hosea that he was a meddlesome fool, and that if he, or any of his native
teachers, 'came foolin' around their way teachin' natives that all white men, excep'
those that come in the Morning Star missionary ship, was rogues,' they (the
traders) would duck him in the lagoon."
"The brutes!" said Kate Trenton indignantly.
"Not a bit of it, my dear. There is a great deal to be said on both sides. We
missionaries are a meddlesome lot, Kitty, and these English and American
traders are men -- dreadful scamps, no doubt, many of them, but then they came
here long before we did, and I don't think it right for us to prejudice the natives
"Helen! How can you? I am afraid that this trader friend of yours has done you no
Mrs Parker laughed contemptuously.
"He has done me good, Kit -- he and the rougher men he was associated with. I
went to the islands a religious pedant, and my narrow-mindedness and silly bigotry
received some severe shocks. There, dear, I won't horrify you any more. Did you
hear what Captain Bennett said to Hosea last night at supper about baptism by
total immersion?" and her eyes sparkled mischievously.
"No, Helen, I hate the man, and always get away from the table as quickly as
"You shouldn't. He's very amusing. Hosea believes that total immersion is an
all-important preliminary to future salvation, and asked Mr Herrera -- a Catholic, I
suppose -- what his opinion was?"
"What did Mr Herrera say?" asked Kate, showing interest enough now.
"Oh, nothing, merely bowed, said he didn't know, and asked Bennett if he intended
bending on a new fore-topmast staysail. I suppose he wanted to get on deck after
"Never mind, dear. Well, then Hosea asked Mr Duggan, who only shook his head in
agony and nearly choked himself with a piece of meat; then he asked
Captain Bennett. 'Waal, sir,' said Bennett, 'maybe yew air right and maybe yew air
wrong. Ez fur me, I was jest sprinkled in the or'nary way by old Parson Wicks, of
Marblehead, an' I reckon my old mother thought I had jest ez much chance of
salvation ez if I'd hev been anchored by the neck in the Mississippi fur month.'"
The younger woman smiled, but then looked at her sister in surprise. She had
never heard her talk like this before, and never knew that her life had not been a
"Come on deck, Helen," she said presently, "I hear the sailors hauling the yards
round and can feel the ship moving again. I am so glad. The language that man
Bennett uses to the crew terrifies me, and I shall be glad when the voyage is
They went on deck, and as the Kellet Passmore heeled slightly to the breeze that
came rippling over the water, the mate came up to them, and, though he spoke to
both, his eyes were for sweet-faced Kate Trenton alone.
"We have the breeze at last, ladies; by to-morrow morning we shall be in the Bay
of Islands. Captain Bennett and Mr Duggan have quarrelled again, and we are going
in there to try and get another officer in his place and some more men as well."
Chapter V: The First And Second Mates
THREE months had passed, and the Kellet Passmore had crawled lazily along from
the coast of New Zealand to the Friendly Islands, and then from the Friendlies
northwards and westward towards the Carolines, till one morning she lay in sight
of the little island group of L&ocaron;sap.
The wind was light, so light that the old barque could scarce feel her helm as she
rose and fell to the gentle ocean swell. The islands lay about three miles to
windward -- four small green spots of thickly-clustering palms, encircled by a wide
sweep of reef some ten or fifteen miles in circumference. On the north-east horn
of the reef was the main island of the four, a thick mass of coconut trees and
pandanus palms; and five miles away, at the extreme southern end, were the
three smaller islets. These, too, were covered with vegetation -- a dense and
tangled fringe of low, light-green scrub, growing down to the beach; in the centre a
few scattered clumps of coconuts, growing in twos and threes, lifted their stately
plumes high above.
Presently John Barrington, who knew the place well, came aft, and after a turn or
two along the deck, stopped and looked over toward the land.
"Lovely little spot, isn't it?" he said, turning to Mrs Parker and her sister, who
were sitting close together in two deck-chairs.
Kate Trenton smiled and nodded. She had grown to like Barrington; but her sister,
save for a faint pink flush that came and vanished quickly, took no notice of his
remark, and bent her face down over her book.
Six weeks before, when she had met him first at the cabin table, her heart had
leaped at the sight of him, only to die away within her when she found that, either
designedly or from utter indifference, he scarcely spoke to her beyond the
requirements of common courtesy. And from that evening to the present time he
had seldom spoken to her directly. But that "the little she-missionary," as he used
mentally to call her, had ever -- at any time -- given him a thought, John
Barrington never suspected, and while on the island in the olden days, he had never
been nervous or embarrassed in her presence, he was so now, simply because he
felt that both she and her sister were beings so immeasurably above him in their
thoughts and life, that they could not but regard him with that feeling of
antagonism natural to educated and refined women who come in contact with men
of loose habits and South Sea morals generally, like himself. And no one knew
better than he did his own failings. Had she come to him in his island home
and preached to him on the evil of his ways, he would have given her a very sharp
answer; but here, on board ship, it was a very different matter, and had she
reproached him now about his past existence, when he had lived near her and her
husband at the mission station, he felt he would be utterly incapable of making any
defence. Not that Mr John Barrington was in the slightest degree ashamed of his
manner of life as an island trader, and, indeed, he had expressed himself in very
vigorous terms to the Reverend Hosea when that gentleman had made any allusion
to the wickedness of white traders; but at the same time he was conscious that
he could not use the same arguments to a young and pretty white woman as he
could to her husband.
"Are we going to send a boat ashore here, Mr Barrington?" asked Kate Trenton
"I think so, Miss Trenton," he replied, and then, as the girl came over near him,
and placed her hand on the rail while she looked at the nearing land, he added in a
lower voice, and with a slight smile --
"Mr Parker wants Captain Bennett to let him go ashore and ascertain if the native
chief will consent to a teacher landing here the next time the Morning Star
missionary brig calls here."
"Why do you laugh, Mr Barrington? Is not my brother-in-law doing his duty to his
conscience? I know you don't like him -- neither does Mr Herrera; but I am
sure you must feel he is a good man."
Barrington was silent. He detested the jug-faced missionary most cordially, but
could not say so to the girl.
"I was not laughing at his desire to go ashore, Miss Trenton; but because of
Captain Bennett's remark when Mr Parker asked him to lower a boat."
"What was it?" said the girl with a bright smile,looking up into his face. "He's a
horrible creature, but does say such amusing things. What did he say?"
Barrington, shutting his left eye and scratching his cheek, imitated the captain's
"Down East" drawl to perfection.
"'Want to go ashore, hey? Waal, I don't mind,' then, calling to the mate, 'Mr
Herrera, tell the third mate to get his boat ready. Mr Parker wants to go ashore
to indooce the natives to accep' the Gawspil, and I want to buy some hogs.'"
Kate smothered a laugh and turned away, and just then Captain Bennett slouched
up on deck, smoking, or rather chewing, his inevitable cigar.
"Howdy, ladies. Nice day, ain't it? Mr Barrington, I'm sendin' two boats away -- the
first mate's and yours; and ez yew intend to stay here, I'll feel obliged if yew'll help
Mr Herrera tew buy some hogs for the ship, while Mr Parker is interdoocin' the
Helen Parker raised her face, and Kate saw that she was deathly pale.
Neither of them knew that Barrington intended leaving the ship so soon.
"Aye, aye, sir. I think I can do that. I know the people pretty well. They are a rough
lot, but I understand their ways."
"He-he-he," sniggered Bennett, who was disposed to make himself pleasant to his
officer, who only a week before had made fast to and killed the largest whale the
ship had yet taken. "He-he-he; so this is the island whar that nice young wife of
yours ez livin'."
A quick glance at Kate Trenton and her sister showed Barrington that they had
heard; they were both looking straight at him, wondering what his answer would
The answer he made Bennett was given in such a low tone that neither of them
caught more than the last words, which were "and you mind your own damned
Then, with a black look on his face, Barrington went on the main deck to see to his
"Thet's a most ontractable young man," said Bennett to Hosea Parker, who had
now come up on deck in readiness to go ashore; "he's mighty tetchy about nothin'.
Why, most everybody daown in these parts marries native women. He ain't got no
call to get so mad ----"
"He will be called to account for it some day, my friend. It is terrible to think that
men like him, engaged in such a dangerous avocation, and who may be cut
off by the hand of Provi----"
"Land alive, parson, yew do skeer me! I hope Providence ain't a-goin' to cut off any
of my young men -- an' me with only two hundred and seventeen barrels of ile in
the ship! Sech a possibility as thet jest gives me a cold chill daown the back," and
the skipper of the Passmore, with a grin on his face, shambled away below again
to get some trade goods together with which to buy the provisions he wanted.
The original crew of the crazy old barque, who had sailed with her from New
Bedford, had run away from her, either one by one or in batches, at the various
South American ports at which she had touched, and when Captain Bennett had
put into the Bay of Islands, there was scarecly one of them remaining on board.
Those who had been shipped in their places were either Chilenos, Brazilians, or
Western Islands Portuguese -- men whom it would not have been safe for Bennett
to have knocked about as he did those who had run away. The use of foul language
and reflections upon their parentage they accepted as a matter of course from
such a notorious bully as the captain -- especially if a whale was lost or a boat
stove in -- but a blow was quite another matter; and Bennett knew that as well as
any one on board, and regulated his conduct to them accordingly. And then, in the
soft-tongued first mate, Joseph Herrera, many of them had, if not a
countryman, one whom they regarded as such; and Amos Bennett knew, too, that
under that smooth-featured, effeminate-looking face there lurked the spirit of a
tiger, and that although the mate was quick to come to his aid and uphold his
authority when there was any trouble with the crew, he was a dangerous man to
insult or cross. Besides this, he was a good seaman, a splendid officer, and an able
navigator -- which latter Bennett was not. Therefore he valued him, but, at the
same time, secretly despised him as a "Dago," and took a malignant pleasure in
always letting Hosea Parker know that Kate Trenton was on deck "a-talking to
that mate of mine," with the result that the pious Hosea would beckon her away,
and reprove her for wasting the officer's time.
Chapter VI: Kate Trenton
AND Herrera -- although he did his duty with a smiling face, and apparently took
no notice of the daily mutterings of the crew about the bad food and the
brutalities of the captain and the third and fourth mates -- only bided his time. He
had, from the very day that Kate Trenton had come on board, fallen violently in
love with her pink and white beauty, and as the voyage wore on plenty of
opportunities of seeing her and talking to her alone. Long before the barque had
let go the anchor in the Bay of Islands, Amos Bennett noticed that a curious
change had come over his chief mate, who, always a reserved man, now seemed
quieter than ever, and treated the pottery-faced Hosea Parker with such an
affectation of respect that, while it did not deceive Bennett, convinced the
missionary that Joseph Herrera, whom he at first considered a lost man -- being a
Papist -- was about to be saved through his (Hosea's) instrumentality. And it
suited the wily, handsome Bonin Island Portuguese to let him think so, for it gave
him further chances to talk to the girl, and deepen in her the feeling of interest
that he had aroused by his stories of the wild scenes and strange adventures he
had passed through in his wanderings of twenty years in South Sea whalers.
So it was no wonder that one evening, as the old barque slid softly along under her
shortened canvas, and the watch on deck lay about, looking up at the
star-spangled heavens, and the warm breath of the trade wind fanned Kate
Trenton's cheek, that Herrera's chance came.
She was just about to go below, and stopping for a moment at the companion-way,
held out her hand to the mate.
"Good-night, Mr Herrera. I wish I could stay on deck. It is such a lovely night."
His brown, sinewy, but shapely hand closed over hers, and his black eyes
glowed and shone with passionate ardour.
"Good-night," he said, speaking in a voice scarce above a whisper, but still holding
the girl's hand; and then he drew her unresistingly to him and kissed her on the
In another moment she had fled below, and Jose Herrera, with flashing eyes and
his white teeth showing in a triumphant smile, paced the deck and talked to
"Holy Saints above! She is mine now. And to get her I am ready for anything --
even to cutting the throat of the flat-faced Padre Parker."
And then, as the ship rippled along over the starlit sea, he made up his plan of
action. She did not intend to leave her sister, at least not for a couple of years,
and in a couple of years a great deal might happen -- she might meet another
man. From that evening Jose Herrera began to ingratiate himself with some of the
crew. He did not mean to resort to violence to attain the object he had in view, if
it could be managed quietly; if it could not -- well, so much the worse for those
who might oppose him. He simply meant to run away from the ship in one of her
boats, and take Kate Trenton with him to his native land, the Bonin Islands. But to
do this he would need the assistance of some of the crew. In a day or so more the
Kellet Passmore would be at an island where he hoped to put his plan into
execution. And so, never doubting for a moment his power over Kate
Trenton, he went about his work quite satisfied that the girl would come away with
him when the time came.
"We are sure to call off Truk," he thought, "and it will be easy enough to get away
in my boat to one of the islands in Truk Lagoon, and hide there till the ship goes
off without us. I don't think Amos Bennett would care to come and look for me and
four other armed men, all of whom would willingly cut his lean throat rather than
be taken back to the ship."
Just as Amos Bennett went into his cabin to pick out the trade goods to send
ashore in the boats, Mrs Parker opened her cabin door and came out, followed by
Kate Trenton and the Reverend Hosea.
"Captain Bennett, my sister and I would like to go ashore with Mr Parker."
"Waal, ladies, ef I was yew, I wouldn't," said the captain, who was busily engaged in
digging out cakes of tobacco from a small case with his pocket-knife; "these here
Loosap natives don't cotton much to strangers, and ef anything onpleasant
occurred, why, I should feel myself to blame fur lettin' yew go in the boats. Yew
see, ladies, these Loosap people air a very excitable lot, an' the least thing might
make an onpleasantness between them and my boats' crews."
"Oh, Hosea, don't go," said Kate Trenton. "Mr Barrington, too, was telling me this
morning that, unlike most of the Caroline Islanders, these natives do not
care for visits from strangers, and that when he lived here some years ago, the
whale-ships that called for fresh provisions had great trouble in inducing the
natives to sell them anything."
The Reverend Hosea, however, was not alarmed. Already he could see in the
Society's magazine an account stating how "the Reverend Hosea Parker, the
earnest and intrepid missionary, had planted the Seed at L&ocaron;sap," and,
indeed, the honest man had any amount of a stupid, tactless courage.
"It is my duty, Kate, and, besides that, I have long wished to see these people and
give them the Light. This is the island, too, that that unfortunate girl Nadee
belongs to; perchance she may be here now, and----"
Mrs Parker's mouth hardened suddenly at the mention of the name of Barrington's
native wife, and she interrupted her husband.
"I am determined to go ashore. Both Kate and I would go mad, cooped up on board.
If it is only to put my foot on the beach for a moment, and then be capsized in the
boat coming out, I would go."
"Waal, jest as yew please, ladies. If Mr Parker is willin', I don't object. Oh, is that
you, Mr Barrington? Here's the terbacker and other things. These here ladies are
a-goin' ashore with you an' Parson Parker."
Barrington's face showed annoyance.
"It is a bad landing-place, Mrs Parker," he said. "What the devil did the
women want to come for?" he thought.
"Is it?" she answered coolly. "Well, I'll take all risks. You don't look very pleased,
Mr Barrington, at having our company."
There was a sarcastic ring in the laugh that ended her speech, and Barrington was
nettled, and showed it. He was not pleased at the prospect, for two reasons: the
first was that the women might get drenched going over the reef; the second was
that he did not want them to witness his meeting with his wife.
"Just as you please, Mrs Parker; but in addition to the chances of us getting a
wetting in going ashore, and in coming out loaded up with turtle and pigs, I don't
think you will like the people; they are very reserved and suspicious of strangers,
and the women always retire till they are gone."
"Oh, what a shame!" said Miss Trenton, puckering up her dark eyebrows; "and I so
wanted to see them. I am told that they are very handsome. Are they, Mr
Barrington felt somewhat ashamed. Kate Trenton's innocent eyes, the reflex of
her pure and innocent mind, always did make him feel ashamed when by any chance
the talk turned upon native women. He thought that her sister disliked him
strongly, and had given her a pretty bad account of him; else why did Mrs Parker
so pointedly avoid speaking to him when they met on deck? So, with
something like a woman's blush, he answered----
"Some of them are very handsome, Miss Trenton."
"But few so handsome as Nadee?"
The second mate turned sharply and looked at the missionary's wife. She was
sitting in the captain's chair, leaning her cheek upon one hand. There was a
curious, defiant glitter in her eyes as she met his glance.
"D----n her!" he said, under his breath. "She wants to show me up again before her
sister. Why the ---- can't she leave me alone!" Then a quick feeling of anger came
"As you say, Mrs Parker, few are so handsome as Nadee -- and few or none are
The colour died away on Mrs Parker's face, and then, with a little sneering laugh,
she rose and went into her cabin.
Something made Kate Trenton lift her honest brown eyes to Barrington's, and
then she impulsively held out her hand to him. He took it quickly, pressed it, and
then raising his hat to her, went up on deck.
"Dear little woman," he said to himself. "I do believe she'd meet Nadee and not
think she was such a terribly bad lot after all. By God! if I thought Herrera meant
to harm Kate Trenton, I'd spoil his beauty!"
In the Reverend Hosea's cabin his wife was savagely drying her eyes with
her handkerchief when Kate entered.
"Are you ready, Helen?" she began; and then she stopped, and tears of sympathy
filled her eyes.
"Helen, dear, we will not go. You look quite ill. What is the matter?"
"Nothing," she answered brusquely; "only that I'm a fool, and only knew it
thoroughly just now. Let us go by all means. I don't care a fig about the heathen,
but I do want to go ashore, out of this miserable, stuffy cabin, and get a walk on
The black beard and dark, handsome face of the mate appeared over the skylight.
"The boats are ready, ladies; Mr Parker is getting quite impatient."
"Come, Helen," her sister said in a whisper; "you will feel better soon."
Chapter VII: Nadee
"'Tis a whale-ship, my mother, for when she lifts to the swell of the ocean I can
see her many boats hoisted high up over the side."
Nadee, standing out in front of the russet-thatched high-peaked house in the
native village, leant her lithe young figure against the bole of a coconut
tree, and shading her eyes against the glare of the morning sun with her little
brown hands, looked steadily once more out eastward over the sea towards the
"Come thou inside, child," answered a voice, tremulous with age. "Who but thee, O
one with little thought, would stand out there in the blazing sun to look at a ship?
What hath the ship to do with thee?"
The girl laughed joyously at the question of old Tariva, whom she called mother,
but who was really her grandmother, and the only one of her blood alive; then she
answered, still shading her eyes as she watched the ship:
"It may be, mother, that my husband cometh. Who can tell? And twenty and five
months have come and gone since he left us, and he said that he would come again
"Foolish child! And does it take thee five moons to learn that he is a liar and thou a
The girl's head drooped, her cloud of wavy hair fell around her face, and she
worked one of her bared feet slowly to and fro in the heated sand and broken
coral pebble on which she stood. For a minute or so she made no answer, and then
slowly walked towards the house, passed the opened door of thatch, and
Within, an old woman with wrinkled face and snow-white hair falling in ragged tails
down her brown and naked back, was seated cross-legged before a tiny fire
of charcoal. With one hand she fanned the coals, and with the other stirred some
liquid that bubbled and frothed in a halved coconut shell set in among the embers.
Softly but steadily the old grandam flapped the broad fan she held in her hand, and
peered anxiously into the shell, and as she fanned she muttered and crooned to
"Did I not tell her so . . . Jaki is but as other white men. And the twenty months
have passed and gone, and five more . . . Guk! the girl is a fool. He hath wearied of
her and will return not."
She lifted out the shell and set it beside her, for the heat had now began to crack
and warp it; then taking up another one from a number that lay beside her, she
set it among the coals, and poured back into it the liquid from the charred shell.
"Aye, they be all alike those white men Ah, it boileth again . . . Nadee, come thou
and see to it. Thy eyes are better than mine."
No answer came from the girl, who, though the old dame knew it not, was seated
with her back to the cane-latticed side of the house, not ten feet away, crying
softly to herself.
"Nadee," again called old Tariva querulously, "hast not yet tired of baking thyself
in the fierce sun, looking at the ship. Come, child, and see the oil I have
made, scented with nudu flowers and sandalwood. Dost think 'tis for my old white
locks I make it, thou lazy Nadee?"
A sob answered her. "Nay, mother. But set it aside for a little time; for my eyes
are dimmed with the glare of the sun, and I fear the smoke of thy fire. And here,
in the shade, it is cool for me to sit awhile."
The old woman's lined and wrinkled face softened, and she glanced towards the
side of the house from whence Nadee spoke.
"Thou liest, child. 'Tis not the sun that hath hurt thy eyes; 'tis the foolish tears
for the man who hath cast thee off."
"Say not that, my mother," and the girl's voice, soft and low as it sounded,
trembled as she caught her breath, "for though 'tis so long since, not one ship
have we seen at L&ocaron;sap since he sailed. And it may be this one . . . for why
should he cast me off, as thou sayest?"
"Why?" The old woman laughed scornfully. "Because of the wife of the Christ-man
at Ponape -- the woman with the hair like the yellow of the setting sun. Dost think
thy beauty can compare with that of the Christ-woman?"
The girl sprang to her feet, and in another moment she stood in the doorway with
her hands clenched.
"'Tis a lie, old Tariva! Thou art old and foolish. The wife of the Christ-man was
nought to my white man."
The old woman's thin lips parted in a contemptuous smile, and her white
teeth showed. Still fanning the embers with one hand, she looked keenly at Nadce's
"Why was it, then, that after the Christ-man and his wife came to Ponape, that he
went away from thee?"
The girl's hands unclenched, and a troubled look came into her face.
"He was wearied, he said, of the dull days, and longed to go out upon the ocean
again in one of the ships that seek for whales. For that is the work that he hath
done from his boyhood. And how could he take me with him?"
"Tah! lies, lies, all lies. Are there not many white men in these islands whose wives
voyage to and fro with them in ships? Did not Siria, the daughter of Larik, and Nili,
mine own sister's child -- she who is now dead -- sail with their white husbands to
the far off islands of the South?"
"True, mother," said Nadee steadfastly, "but, see, those were trading ships. But
never a woman goeth away beyond the sea-rim in a whale-ship. And did my husband
ever tell thee lies?"
"Oh, foolish child, to so believe in one of strange blood. If he so cared for thee,
why did he weary of thee so soon? I tell thee it was because of the Christ-woman."
"Not so. It was because that he was poor and had but little goods wherewith to
buy oil and pearl shell and tortoise shell, as did the other white men on
Ponape. And so, because that the days were dull to him he told me he desired to
sail for two years in a whale-ship, so that he would get money in plenty; and then
would he return with all the things he desired, and live with me always. But the
beautiful Christ-woman had naught to do with his going."
The old woman lifted the shell she was tending from off the fire, and brushing off
the dust from the mat on which she sat, motioned to the girl to sit beside her.
"Come hither, little one, and sit by old Tariva -- thy mother's mother, the only one
that is left to thee of all thy people."
Still with the troubled look in her lustrous eyes, Nadee, with another glance
seaward at the white sails of the ship, stepped inside, and sat down beside the old
woman, who, drawing the girlish figure to her wrinkled old bosom, pressed her lips
to her's in a silent, loving embrace.
"Only thou art left to me, little one -- thou of all that were once so many; and
because that I am so old, and will soon be with the silent ones, and thou wilt be
alone, do I wish to tell thee of some things."
The girl's rounded arm encircled the old dame's skinny neck, and her little hand
stroked her white locks, the while she laid her cheek, so young and full and tender,
against her grandam's lined and furrowed brow.
Chapter VIII: One Of The Old Bottles
THERE was none to hear them talk. Save the old woman and the girl, the rest of
the few people in the little village were away at work in their plantations or out
fishing in the lagoon. Outside, the quiet of the palm grove was scarce broken even
by the rustling of the breeze that swayed their branches to and fro. Sometimes,
on the white blaze of shimmering beach that came to within a few fathoms of the
open door of old Tariva's house, a swift black shadow would sweep by as a frigate
bird skimmed past, flying low down over the beach ere he took his mounting flight
seaward to plunge with deadly aim and cruel beak into the blue waters beyond the
So, in silence, and still caressing the aged face, Nadee waited till the time-worn old
Tariva chose to speak; but, even as she waited her eyes wandered out seawards
again and again.
"Turn thy back to the sea, little one. Let not the ship trouble thy mind yet awhile.
When I have said all that which is within me, then, if thou carest to still look
across the sea-rim for him who will never come, so be it, and I will have nought
more to say."
The girl faced round with a strange, wondering look in the depths of her
great soft eyes. What was it old Tariva had to say? Thrice since the day that they
had returned to L&ocaron;sap to await the coming back of her white husband, had
her grandam spoken to her of Railik, the son of the chief of L&ocaron;sap, who
desired her for his wife, and each time had Nadee, covering her face with her
hands, shaken her head and said: "I will wait. The twenty months must first be
passed and gone ere I will talk of such things."
And although old Tariva had given her some bitter words for her folly, yet she had
not sought to force the girl's choice. Railik, fierce and turbulent as he was, dared
not seize her and carry her off; for old Tariva was ejon, a strong witch, and had
power to cause his limbs to wither and perish, so that the skin would cleave to the
bone and make him ugly to look upon in the eyes of all men, if he tried to win the
girl by force against her grandam's wish.
But yet -- and Nadee, the white man's wife, knew it well -- old Tariva favoured his
suit, and though since that third time she spoke not again of the lying, faithless
white men to her, she was for ever talking of the skill and cleverness in all things
of Railik, he whom of all the young men on L&ocaron;sap was worthy by his
father's name to have a wife in whose veins ran blood as good as his own.
A minute had passed, and yet the old woman had not spoken. She had
placed her bony, claw-like hands upon the girl's smooth and rounded shoulders, and
her keen old eyes were bent upon Nadee's in a strange, wild look that filled her
young heart with fear.
Presently there came to them a sound, as of the strong voices of men, made
faint by distance.
"Heed it not, my Nadee," said old Tariva, in a low, mechanical voice, her eyes still
fixed upon the girl's face; "'tis but the men of L&ocaron;sap who only now see the
sails of the ship."
Breathing so that her bared bosom rose and fell in quick, panting strokes, and with
eyes filled with terror, Nadee spoke in a voice like a whisper.
"What is it, O my mother, that maketh thee look so strangely upon me. Thy eyes
are as two moons shining through the blackness of the darkest night, and fill me
with fear. Have I done aught wrong, and art thou about to cast ejon over me?"
As she faintly whispered the last words her eyes grew dim, misty, and
"Nadee!" and the quavering tones of Tariva's voice became strong and harsh as
the call of the frigate-bird, "wake, child! There, see, my beloved -- look now into
old Tariva's eyes; only do I cast ejon on those whom I hate," and she took her
hands from Nadee's trembling shoulders.
"But listen well to me."
"Aye, my mother; but look not again with thy eyes into mine, for then my soul
goeth out into darkness, and though I hear thy voice my heart and tongue
A faint smile crossed the thin, old lips, and patting the girl's knee, she said in soft,
"Fear not, my little bird. Strong am I to cast spells for good and evil over men and
women -- only against the rebelli (white people) am I powerless. And it is because
that my ejon is of no avail against the white man that I now sit here and plead for
thee to lay well to thy mind that which thou must know."
"Mother," and Nadee bent her head low down upon the old dame's lap, "would'st
thou harm my white husband?"
"Nay, child. For though I hate the rebelli, whether they be ship-men or Christ-men,
yet would I bring thy husband back to thee, child of my child, and last of my race,
ere I go out to the spirit land."
"Why hate ye the white men, mother?"
A savage light leapt into the old woman's eyes, and her white, even teeth snapped
together like the jaws of a shark.
"Hate them! Aye, that do I. Would that I could live to see them wither and perish,
and be swept away as we of the sea-girt lands have withered and perished before
them! Long, long ago, when my hair was as black, and my bosom as full and round
as thine, my people were a great people, for, as thou knowest, my father
was a great man on Ponape, and the land he ruled stretched from Jakoits on the
north to Metalanien, near unto the strange stone houses that were built by the
Unknown Men. He it was who sailed in two great canoes to this little island of
L&ocaron;sap, a twenty days' journey, and slew half the men, and would have slain
all; but that his eyes were taken with the beauty of my mother, who, as she fled
along this beach now before us, fell, and would have been thrust through, only that
my father beat back the bloodied hands of those who pursued her. And so,
because she pleased him, he spared the lives of all those men of L&ocaron;sap
who still lived, and took her to wife. Ah! those were the days when we were
"Tell me more, my mother."
"Aye, child," answered Tariva, who was speaking of those olden days with a set
purpose, and noting how eagerly Nadee listened; "those were days when the quick,
hot blood of youth ran lusty and strong in my father's veins, and save for the two
or three white sailors who dwelt under the protection of T'Nanakin, the king of
Jakoits, we of Ponape knew naught of the rebelli. Brave men, though, were those
white men, for sometimes when a ship lay becalmed, they led our people out in the
dead of night and slew all on board, and returned to the shore laden with riches."
The girl shuddered as she caught the fiery gleam and sparkle in old
Tariva'ssunken eyes, but yet listened intently, leaning her chin upon the palm of
"And then the days and months and years went by, till there came to Metalanien
the first of the Christ-men, in a white-painted ship. Well would it have been had my
father and T'Nanakin, the king of Jakoits, done unto this ship as they had done
unto others, but the ejon of the Christ-man was too strong, and he fooled my
father and T'Nanakin both with his cunning words."
"How so, my mother?"
"In this way, child. All men love to hear of that which is strange and new; and this
Christ-man told my father cunning lies of a man-god who was greater than all the
gods of Ponape, and who had sent him, the cunning Christ-man, to Ponape, to tell
my father to forswear the old gods and follow the god of the Christ-man."
"Aye, mother, my husband hath spoken to me of this Christ-God."
"What said he, Nadee?"
"But little, mother. 'Twas long ago, when the beautiful Christ-woman -- the wife of
the Christ-man, whom my husband called a meddling fool -- came to our house
with her husband and talked with mine. Something they said to him of myself and
the wrath of the Christ-God it was that angered him, and though he spoke softly
because of the yellow-haired woman, who sat by me with her hand clasped
around mine, yet he was hot with anger against the mean-looking man who said the
Christ had sent him to save me from perishing.
"'Go,' he said, speaking in the tongue of the white man, 'thou to thy trade, and
leave me to mine. Come not here to me in mine own house and seek to poison the
heart of my wife against me. She is to me my wife by the custom of the land, and
I want no man such as thee to come between us.' And then the woman rose and
bade me farewell, and said to the Christ-man, her husband: 'Leave them. Why
should we seek to make trouble between them?' So, though they came again to my
husband's house, the woman's husband spoke no more to mine of the Christ-God
and the lake of fire into which He casts His enemies."
"Ahe!" resumed the old woman, "'Twas that, the great sea of fire which is in the
bowels of the earth, that made the heart of T'Nanakin turn white, and he became
eaten up with the fear of the Christ-God. And day by day the power of the head
Christ-man on the Christ-ship grew stronger and stronger. One day it came about
that T'Nanakin and my father and other chiefs went to visit the ship, and the next
day two of them were seized with an illness from which many of the ship-men had
died. T'Nanakin, who loved these men, went to the Christ-wizard and besought him
to save his men. And see, my child, how silly are some men and how clever others:
for this wizard soon put terror in the heart of T'Nanakin, and said --
"'If these men die it is the will of the great Christ-God, who hath sent me
to tell thee to cast away thy gods of wood and worship Him. Beware, O chief, and
delay not, lest something terrible befall thee, and the lake of fire swallow up thee
and thy people.'
"The two men died, and then in every house in every village some one was seized
by the strange illness from the Christ-ship, and many hundreds died. And then
T'Nanakin with his chief humbled himself to the Christ-wizard, and said: 'Thy gods
are greater than mine. Let this sickness go away from my people, and I will do as
thou wishest -- I will be a Christ-man.' Then the white wizard and three other
wizards who were with him rejoiced greatly, and made much of T'Nanakin, and gave
him many presents, and clothed him with new black garments, and a high black
covering for his head, such as is worn by these Christ-men in their own country. In
two days all of his people swore faith to the Christ-God; but my father and his
people did not, for they had heard of the sickness, and no one of them would go
near the white men. Then T'Nanakin, who had cast away his father's gods for the
new faith, sent word down saying: 'Come up and be a Christ-man, lest thou and thy
people be seized with a deadly illness and die, and be cast into a lake of red fire,
where they shall yet live again for ever.' But my father would not go.
"So T'Nanakin and my father quarrelled, and one night, when all in our village lay
asleep, the canoes of T'Nanakin crept down and killed all that would not be
slaves to him and the white wizard, and then, we who were conquered knew that
the white man's God was greater than ours.
"For two moons T'Nanakin's men sought out and slew all those opposed to the new
faith, and no smoke arose in our country save that which came from the burning
houses of my father's people; for we fled to the woods -- all that were left of us
-- and lived in hiding. Then came the time when many died of hunger, and Kanka,
my father, and all the men who were with him died under the knives of T'Nanakin's
men, who had found out our refuge. And then my mother, taking me with her, fled
with some few other women and children, to the little island called Pakin, close to
the mainland; and there we lived till I was taken to wife by a man of Pakin, and
there thy mother was born to me. She, too, like myself, was taken to wife by a
man of Pakin. At thy birth she died, and with her last words besought me to take
thee to this land of L&ocaron;sap, where we would be well cared for by those of
our blood. But I lived on at Pakin, till both my husband and thy father were dead,
and thou wert a grown girl. Then came this Jaki of thine, who took us to live with
him at Ponape. And I know he will never come back to thee; so wait no longer, my
child, but take Railik for thy husband. He is a clever man, and hates the white men
as much as I hate them."
The girl covered her eyes with her hands, but said not a word.
"See, child, there is yet another thing. Thou sayest that the fair-faced white
woman, the wife of the dog-faced Christ-man, is nought to thy husband. Now I,
because I am very old, know many things, and I tell thee, foolish one, that if she be
nought to him, he was much to her. And it was because she looked at him with her
eyes like the blue sea, and made him ashamed of thee, that he wearied of thee and
Nadee bent her head still lower, and then wept silently.
"Nay, weep not, little one," went on old Tariva mercilessly; "what does it matter?
Thou hast no child for men to point at and jeer and say: "See the child of the white
man who fooled its mother.' And yet it is hard for one so young and handsome as
thee to be cast aside for another."
"Nay, mother. He may not come back to me; but not because of another woman.
He may be dead."
"Thou fool! Didst thou not see that in less than a year after he had gone, that the
white woman sickened and pined for him, and then followed him to his own country
in the white-painted ship? Is it not true?"
"Mother," said Nadee, in a whisper, "her husband went with her."
Old Tariva laughed contemptuously. "'Twas but a trick. She cares not for her
husband, and I have seen her turn her face from him when he spoke to her.
'Tis thy white man she loves. Now listen, child, to me. I tell thee that by this time
she hath killed the dull-faced Christ-wizard, and is wife to thy white man in her
own land. He did but fool thee when he spoke of coming back."
She ceased and looked at the bowed figure of Nadee, who had buried her face in
the old dame's lap, and was sobbing convulsively.
Tariva, muttering to herself, stroked the black waves of hair tenderly, and waited.
She had won, and Nadee, the child of her heart, would forget this false white man
and marry Railik, and then she, old Tariva, would have given to her all that land on
L&ocaron;sap, which was hers of right, for had it not belonged to her mother in
the olden days? Suddenly the sobs ceased, and Nadee rose to her feet and went to
the door. For a moment or two she looked out over the blue expanse of ocean that
lay before her tear-dimmed eyes; but the ship had gone; she had passed round the
south horn of the reef, and was hidden from view for the time. Then, with a smile
struggling through her tears, Nadee turned and spoke.
"It shall be as thou desirest, my mother. I am indeed a fool. When it pleases thee,
take me to Railik's house."
Then she stepped out, and with a choking sob threw herself down on the grassy
plot at the back of old Tariva's house, and lay there silent with her face in her
Chapter IX: In The Boil Of The Surf
WHEN within a mile or so of the principal village of the main island, the Kellet
Passmore backed her main-yard, and the two boats pushed off from her side, the
lantern-jawed skipper calling out to Herrera to get back as quickly as possible, as
the winds showed signs of dying away, and he was suspicious of an easterly gale
coming down and catching him in such an awkward place.
"There's a darned big swell rollin' in too, naow," he added; "an' I ain't too dreadful
anxious to keep foolin' around here with sich a current settin' us inshore."
In Herrera's boat were the two ladies, the Reverend Hosea, and the usual crew; in
Barrington's, himself and the crew only, and a box containing the trade goods for
barter with the natives.
For some ten or twenty minutes the boats pulled side by side, until they were
within a few hundred yards of the reef, then Barrington's drew ahead. There was
not much of a sea on, but the passage through the break in the reef was very
narrow, and as Barrington knew the place well, his boat was to go first.
"Look, Miss Trenton," said the mate, pointing to the white line of beach in front of
them, "take your first view of a South Sea Island village, and see the
natives swarming down to the beach to meet us."
Kate, with her eyes dancing with excitement, answered him with a bright smile,
and then gave a little scream.
"Oh, Helen, look at Mr Barrington's boat!" The second mate's boat had just swept
over the reef, bow down in front of a roller, and in the midst of a seeth of white
foam and wild cries from the swarm of natives on the beach, she landed right in
their midst. Herrera, with a quick look astern, waited for another sea to come,
determined to go in on top of it, instead of waiting for a lull, and pulling in quietly.
He saw that there was a clean run in once he got over the edge of the reef, and he
wanted to show Kate Trenton that Barrington was not the only man who could
take a boat in over the reef on top of a sea.
At a sign from Herrera the crew shipped the oars and took out broad-bladed
native paddles -- Barrington's boat had gone in with oars apeak -- and waited for
"Give it to her, boys!"
The five paddles struck into the water, and the light boat sprang forward in front
of the advancing sea. In another ten seconds, with the two women and Hosea
holding tightly to each other in terrified silence, and Herrera straining at the
steer-oar, she was darting like an arrow through the water, in front of the boiling,
Suddenly, amidst the wild rush and bubble of the snow-white spume that
frothed past the gun-wales with lightning speed, Herrera uttered a savage oath;
right ahead of him lay a round knob of coral, just showing its pink and blue top
above the surface of the water. With a fierce strain at the steer-oar, he just
shaved past it, but in another moment the boat broached to, rolled over, and
filled. Before a canoe could be launched, Barrington, with a curse upon the mate's
folly, had sprung back into his boat, and was pulling out to save them. Already,
though, the sweeping backwash had carried Herrera's boat and people out towards
the edge of the reef again.
"Pull, you sons of devils, pull!" said Barrington to his crew, as another sea came
hurtling in with curling top; "the women will be drowned!"
But that sea nearly half-filled his boat, and by the time the crew had way on her
again the capsized boat had been swept down by the current right into the
thundering surf that broke on the reef on each side of the narrow passage. Fifty
yards away he saw two of Herrera's crew and the Reverend Hosea, who was
supported by them, swimming down with the current towards shallower water, and
further out in the rollers he saw the black head of Herrera, keeping himself afloat,
and holding up Kate Trenton. Then, almost at the same moment he caught sight of
the white face of the missionary's wife. She was clinging despairingly to a jagged
mass of coral, not five fathoms away; then another roaring sea leapt down
upon his half-filled boat, and fairly smothered her.
"Two of you go to the mate, boys," he called to the Maori crew, "the rest of you
stick to the boat," and then he struck out towards the drowning woman, who, with
the strength of despair, still clung to the coral boulder, which was about two or
three feet out of the water, and so saved her from being smothered by the seas
which rolled by on either side. Just as he reached her a roller, higher and swifter
than the others, tore away her weakening grasp, and holding her in his arms, they
were buried beneath; when they came to the surface he saw that she was still
alive, but nearly unconscious.
For nearly five minutes Barrington, with the blood welling from a fearful cut on his
head, drifted seaward with the woman. He knew the canoes would be along
presently, for already, although strange noises filled his brain from the blow he
had received, and the blood blinded his eyesight, he could hear the cries of the
natives close by.
He had twined his left hand into the woman's hair, and held her in front of him as
he struck out with his right. Then, as he still partly drifted, partly swam seaward,
away out from the sweep of the seas -- for they were now beyond the reef --
with dulled brain and blood-filled eyes, a thought ran through him that smote his
heart with a deadly chill. He knew he was bleeding badly, and that the sharks are
quick to answer to the smell of blood.
"God help us!" he muttered thickly; "what can I do?" Then his senses left
Away out on the Kellet Passmore, Captain Amos Bennett, from the fore-topsail
yard, had seen Herrera's boat broach to and fill, had seen Barrington's meet with a
like fate, and had cursed all missionaries unto the tenth generation.
"Waal, I'll be goldarned! Two boats capsized and ez like ez not stove in," and he
threw his cigar down on to the deck for'ard with another curse after it; "and
perhaps some of my men injoored."
"Hope the women and the parson ain't hurt," said the fourth mate, who had just
come up aloft, and stood beside him.
"Darned ef I care! their passages are paid," was the snorting reply; for the worthy
Bennett -- although he didn't mean what he said -- was in a very bad temper.
And, just then, as he gave orders for another boat to be lowered, the breeze died
away so suddenly and suspiciously that he hurried down below to look at the glass.
He was back on deck in a minute.
"Never mind the boat, Mr Briggs. There's plenty of canoes to pick up the darned
fools, and there's going to be h--l to pay in another five minutes here. Stand by
the braces, and look spry we don't get caught aback. Darn all parsons, I say!"
In another ten minutes the first puffs of the coming easterly struck the
old barque. She heeled over; and then as the first whistle of it passed away, stood
up again on an even keel; but only for a few seconds, for the short, savage puffs
changed into the piping note of a heavy gale.
Two hours later, under close reefed fore and main-topsails, she was running
before the storm, with a sea like mountains chasing her and banging against her
old, square stern and wall-sides.
"Guess we won't heave her to among these reefs between Loosap and D'Urville's
Island, Mr Briggs. Let her go as she is, an' we'll get under the lee of Truk until this
darned easterly blows its guts out. Then I reckon we'll hev to come back and pick
up Mr Herrera an' Mr Barrington and them Gawspil folks."
And so, with the drone of the easterly singing through her cordage, and the swash
of the mountain seas swirling up against her weather-beaten sides, the old whaler
plunges and splashes westward, running dead before it, and is lost to sight, and no
more heard of in this story.
Chapter X: Under The Palms
A SWARM of brown, half-naked men and women rushed to the beach to meet the
rescuing canoes, and as they stood and waited, a savage, roaring gust swept
through the dense palm-grove at their backs, and whipped up great clouds of the
white, clinging sand, and carried it far out seawards. "Haste, haste, my children!"
and Sru, the chief of L&ocaron;sap, a great, broad-shouldered native, naked save
for his thick girdle of banana fibre, sprang into the water and looked anxiously at
the three canoes, as they sped shoreward in face of the rising storm.
A wild cry went up from the assembled people as the first canoe swept in through
the boiling surf and ran her sharp bows upon the beach, and the wet and naked
rowers sprang out; and Herrera, holding Kate Trenton in his arms, was seen
seated amidships with two of Barrington's boat's crew.
Too exhausted to speak, he motioned to the women to take her; and then,
staggering on his feet like a drunken man, he sought to discover something of
Barrington and the others; but a blinding stinging rain-squall had obscured the two
other canoes from view, and then he was half carried away by some natives to the
shelter of the chief's house, where the women had already taken Kate
Trenton, and with kindly hands and pitying words, were bringing her back to life
In the second canoe were two of Herrera's men, for their boat had been hopelessly
stove in, and after them came Barrington's boat, "swum in" by natives and the
rest of his crew; the third canoe was yet out amid the tumbling breakers a
quarter of a mile away, but showing up now and then a black spot amid the white
seeth of swirling foam.
"Ha!" cried Sru, "Railik, my son, hath cause to be last; for, see, there are yet
three more of the rebelli swimming in the shallow water near to his canoe -- the
current hath swept them far down. Even now do I see the three heads above the
And away out in the canoe, Railik, with his long black hair streaming out to the
gale, saw them, too, and urged his men to paddle hard. Ten minutes before he had
picked up Barrington and the missionary's wife; and as a whiff of spray smote him
fiercely in the face, he shook the water from his eyes and glanced down to see if
the woman was yet alive, as she lay in the bottom of the canoe with her head
supported by a native boy. Up for'ard, lying on his back with blood still flowing
from his head, was Barrington. Presently he sought to rise, and placed one hand
on the gun-wale of the canoe.
"Nay, stay thou quiet, Jaki," said the native who paddled on the bow
thwart, and whose feet were placed one on each side of the white man's body;
"try not to rise, for should I miss but one stroke of my paddle, then does the
canoe fill, and thou and the white woman be drowned."
Another sea swept by them with an angry hiss, and the canoe buried her outrigger
deep down, and Railik, with his left hand grasping the steering-paddle, bent down
and scooped out the water with a half-dozen quick strokes of the wooden baler.
Then in another minute the canoe shot alongside the three struggling men -- two
of Barrington's crew and the missionary, and Railik sprang overboard to the aid of
Hosea Parker, who was sinking. The missionary seemed to struggle with his
rescuer, who soon reappeared without the white man. Then the canoe headed for
A swarm of natives -- men, women, and children -- crowded round as Railik,
panting hotly for his breath, stood up, and cast his paddle on the sand.
"How many hast thou saved?" said Sru.
"Four, O father Sru -- three men and one woman. And see, he there who hath the
bloodied face is Jaki -- the woman is his wife!"
A sudden silence fell upon the crowd of natives, and Sru looked fiercely at, the
prostrate figure of Barrington.
Then, muttering something in a savage undertone to his crew, the chiefs son,
without another glance at the people he had saved from death, strode
away towards the village, and his father told those about him to carry Barrington
and the white woman to his house.
"Tend them well," he said, "for when the storm is ceased the ship will come back
for them. So give them all to eat and drink, and then in a little while, when their
strength has come back, will I ask of this dog, Jaki, how it is he bringeth back a
Held in the arms of a tall, slender, native girl, who looked pityingly down upon her
trembling figure, Helen Parker opened her lips and spoke.
"Where is Jaki?" she said.
A woman who stood close by pointed to a number of men who were helping
Barrington up over the brow of the beach.
"Thy husband is there. He is badly hurt and like to die. Who art thou that speaks
"I am the Christ-woman from Ponape. Take me to my husband."
And leading her by the hands, the girl and woman walked with her to the chief's
house, and pointed to the figure of Jack Barrington, who lay upon a mat, with
some native women bandaging his head.
She stood over him for a moment trying to speak, but her voice failed her. At last
"Thank God, Mr Barrington, you are alive! The natives tell me that my
husband is badly hurt. Where is he? And where is my sister and Mr Herrera?"
No answer came, and then looking into the ghastly, pallid face of the man she
loved, she forgot all, and, kneeling beside him, she kissed him again and again.
Railik, speeding along through the groves of coconut and bananas, towards the
dwelling of old Tariva, took no heed of the crash and roar of the storm that now
seemed to shake the island to its foundations. He knew that even if the few people
who lived in the village on the little island with Nadee and the old woman had left it
with the intention of seeing the boats land from the ship, they would have
returned to their houses again in the face of such a wild sea as was now breaking
over the connecting reef that lay between their village and the main island. No
canoe could cross the lagoon now, and to walk round by way of the beach on the
lee side would take them many hours. So on he pushed, through the fast-gathering
darkness and the clashing and tearing of the countless palm tops above him, the
frightened shrieks of the sea birds, and the growling thunder of the mighty seas,
as they dashed against the barrier wall of coral rock to pour like cataracts along
its level top into the shallow waters of the lagoon.
Then, when he came within sight of the tiny village of four houses, he lay down in
the darkness and waited. He wanted to see Tariva alone, and would watch
One by one the fires were lighted in the houses, and then he caught a glimpse of
Nadee as she passed out of Tariva's house to one that stood about fifty yards
Springing to his feet, he glided through the swaying, wind-tossed palms, till he
reached the back of the old woman's house, and looked through the cane
lattice-work of its walls.
"Tariva," he called, "'tis I, Railik. Come thou outside, so that we may talk, for I be
In a few seconds he saw her figure coming towards him, her white hair blowing and
whipping about her face as she peered out into the darkness.
"Here, mother," and he put out his hand.
She took it in silence, and then they walked together till they reached a great
nudu tree, behind the buttressed trunk of which they stood for shelter.
"Now is the time come for thee, Tariva, to prove thy friendship to me, and give
"That would I have done long since, but the girl waited for her white husband; but,
see, here do I show my friendship for thee! Only but a little time since we talked
together, and to-morrow did I mean to bring her to thee, for now she believeth
that her husband will come not back."
Railik laughed. "Mother, he hath come back."
"Then why, O Railik, dost thou come here to fool me? How can I give her to thee if
Jaki hath come? Dost, think thou canst force her now?"
"Mother, listen. But little time have I to talk, even of such a matter as
this, for I must haste back. See, now, and then tell me if I am not wise. Two boats
came from the ship, and both were overpowered by the seas and the people in
them cast out."
"Good!" answered the old dame. "Would they were all eaten by the sharks."
"Then I and four others in my canoe, and Sirra and Tasa in their canoes, went out
to them; and it came about that I saw that two of the rebelli were washed outside
the reef apart from the others, and lo, they were a man and a woman -- and the
man was Jaki. Just was he, and the woman with him, about to sink, when we
dragged them in; for he had a great wound in his head."
"Ahe, and the woman?"
"She was as one dead. And I, mother, when I saw the face of the white man, would
have let him drown, but those with me said: 'Nay, hurt him not. Dost thou not see
'tis the husband of Nadee?' So, though I would have struck my paddle into his
brain, I feared to do so. But, tell me, hath not the Christ-woman I have heard thee
speak of hair like the yellow of the sun?"
"Aye," said the old woman quickly, clutching his wrist; "and was it she who was
"And was not the man -- her husband, the Christ-wizard -- little and dark, with a
face ugly to look upon?"
"Aye, little and dark, with hair black as night."
Railik laughed. "See how I remember these things that thou hast told me.
Now, as Jaki and the woman lay in the canoe I knew she was the Christ-woman thou
hast so often told me of, and then I had no wish to do him harm, for I knew that
she was wife to him, even as thou hast told Nadee she would be."
"Ah," and the old woman ground her teeth, "the lying white man! Why didst thou
not cast them over again?"
"So we turned shoreward," went on Railik, "and as we rose to the sea I saw Sirra
and his men take up another woman and a man from the sea, even as I had done;
and as we crossed over the reef we saw three more white men struggling in the
shallow water between the reef and the shore. And when we came to them I saw
that two were ship-men, and the other a little dark man with a smooth face."
"Aye, the Christ-man. And then I knew that the woman who lay in the canoe was
not wife to Jaki, and while the thought of Nadee was hot within me, and my men
helped in the two ship-men, I sprang into the sea as if to save the Christ-man, and
"Ah!" and the old woman's eyes glistened.
"----And took him by the hair and dived with him, and struck his head against a
rock beneath, so that he died quickly. This did I because I told those with me that
Jaki had now a new wife."
"Thou art both brave and wise, my son. I can see what was in thy mind."
"That to-morrow thou shalt bring Nadee and show her the white woman and Jaki
sitting together in my father's house, and say: 'See, thy white man with his new
wife -- the Christ-woman from Ponape.'"
"Good!" said the old dame, pulling his face down to hers and embracing him. "Now
go, and leave what else is to be done to me."
Chapter XI: A Convert Through Love
THE storm had nearly ceased, and although the wind was yet high and the
branches of a hundred thousand graceful palms thrashed and bent and swayed to
its still whistling note, overhead the blue sky was unspecked by a single cloud.
Kate Trenton awoke as she lay upon her couch of mats in the house of Sru, the
chief, and looking out through the opened window, up into the star-spangled
heavens, thanked God that her life had been spared, and that He had spared Jose's
She rose softly and looked at the three sleeping figures that lay near her. That
which was nearest was her sister, and Kate, taking a rude oil lamp in her
hand, sank on her knees beside her, and with tears welling fast to her eyes
scanned the pale face of the sleeping woman, and then touched lovingly the bright
hair that clustered about her temples.
"Sleep, sleep, dear Helen," she murmured, and then she moved silently away again
to the little window, and gazed out past the wildly tossing plumes of the coconut
grove that encompassed the house, and at the rearing, leaping billows that
thundered with a dull and savage symphony upon the black line of reef half a mile
"Poor Hosea," she said, and then her tears fell fast. "He had so often said that he
would be proud and willing to give his life, if need be, for his work." And she turned
away from the window with a sob, and covered her face with her hands.
For nearly an hour the girl lay upon her couch of mats till the light of the lamp
paled in the silent house, and the grey light of the coming tropic dawn stole
through the serried boles and plumed crowns of the countless coco-palms.
Drawing over her shoulders, with a strange, happy feeling in her heart, a seaman's
heavy pea-jacket, which she had found placed beside her couch, and knew was
Herrera's, she walked noiselessly over to the wicker door, stepped outside, and
sat down upon a great flat slab of coral.
"He loves me! he loves me!" she kept saying to herself, with a whispering, joyous
laugh, "and I love him. How can I help loving him; he is so good and brave."
A step on the gravel made her look up, and the man who was in her heart stood
beside her, with his black passionate eyes looking into hers.
"It is very cold, Mr Herrera," she murmured, "and I have your coat. But I am going
in again now. I only came out because I could not sleep with the dreadful sound of
the surf, and ----"
She stopped, and then as she was about to rise he sank at her feet, and seizing
her hands in his, covered them with kisses.
"Kate, Kate! Do not go just yet. I love you. See, sweet one, there is no one here to
hear us. Do you think that I have been sleeping? No! I have been lying there beside
Barrington watching you, and waiting for the moment when I could come to you and
tell you that I love you. Love you, Kate! Holy Saints forgive me! but yesterday I
cursed the poor padre -- I thought he would come between us. And I, because you
are all the world to me, was ready to run the ship ashore rather than run the risk
of losing you!"
Trembling, partly with joy and partly with fear at his passionate words, Kate
Trenton let him draw her to him, and then he kissed her again and again.
"See, Kate," and the mate's voice shook as he turned her face to him and looked
into her honest eyes, "I, Jose Herrera, swear to you by the soul of my
mother, and my belief in Heaven and Hell, that if you will marry me, I, too, will
become one of your faith -- that would I do if my mother rose from her grave and
"Jose," and there was a happy trill in her voice, "I am so glad . . . because I love
Then, as the sound of footsteps sounded near them on the pebbly path, she glided
away from him inside the house, and the first mate of the Kellet Passmore,
picking up the jacket she had dropped, walked round to the little window, and
tapping softly on the canework side, held it up.
A white hand and arm came out of the gloom of the still darkened room, and Kate
Trenton's fingers touched his bearded face.
"Good night," she whispered.
"Good night," he said in a low voice. "I shall see you again soon, sweet Kate."
Then he walked quickly away to the beach.
Forty-eight hours before Jose Herrera had talked with his boat's crew on board
the barque, and had promised each man a hundred dollars the day they landed him
and Kate Trenton at Guam.
"God is good to me," he said, piously crossing himself. "Two days ago I was ready
to kill the poor padre, and run the lives of five men into danger on a long boat
voyage. And now the poor padre is dead, and there is no need for me to commit a
Then, as he had no tobacco to smoke, he sat down on the cool sand
watching the paling stars, and wondering when the Kellet Passmore would turn up
"Dios!" he said, clasping his small, sinewy brown hands around his knees, "Kate
and I may be married in a month from now if we touch at Guam -- and touch there
we shall, if I do have to run the ship ashore in the night."
Chapter XII: The Native Wife
WITH the first red streaks of sunrise through the palm-grove came the murmur
of voices and the tramp of naked feet about the pebbled path that led to the
chief's house, and Helen Parker awoke to her sister's kiss.
"Kate," and the pale face lightened up as she drew the girl to her bosom, "I have
had such a long sleep, and feel so well and strong," and then her eyes wandered
over to where Barrington lay, with Jose Herrera sitting by his side.
"Do you think he will die?" she whispered.
"How horribly white his face is?"
"Die? Silly Helen! No, dear; but Mr Herrera says that the cut in his head is
something terrible, and that he will be very weak for a long time from loss of
blood," and then Kate laid her cheek to Helen's; "but we will nurse him in
turns, dear. I would be so miserable if he died, Helen, for Jose -- I mean Mr
Herrera -- told me that not only did he save your life, but his and mine, too, for
before swimming out to you, he told two of his men to go to our aid."
Helen pressed her hand, and again she glanced at the pallid features of the
sleeping man, and Jose Herrera nodded and smiled reassuringly.
"Helen," and Kate's arm stole round her waist, "don't weep, dear. It was Hosea's
wish to die at his post. It is such men as he who win the crown of glory for the
cause of Christ."
Helen Parker shuddered, and then a hot flush dyed her face; she had not been
thinking of her dead husband as Kate imagined, but of the man who had all but
given his life for hers.
The tramping sound of naked feet on the paths around the house increased, and
Herrera rose and came over to them.
"The native women are bringing baskets of food and placing them outside," he said
to Kate; "they are very anxious to come inside and talk to you both, but Sru, the
chief, has forbidden them to make any noise. He thinks you are still asleep. Would
you like to come outside for a little? They are getting us something to eat again, I
Moving very quietly so as not to awaken Barrington, Herrera opened the door, and
Helen and Kate followed him outside, and faced the crowd of natives who
sat awaiting them. A little apart from the rest, seated on a mat fringed with
scarlet parrots' feathers, was Sru, the chief; behind him his wife, and Railik his
A murmur of approval broke from the people as Helen stepped across to the
chief, and spoke to him.
"We thank thee, Sru of L&ocaron;sap, that thou and thy people have saved us
"Sit thou there, Christ-woman, thou and the other woman, and the dark-faced
ship-man," and the chief pointed to where, among the rest of the whaling gear
saved from the boats, the four line tubs were placed side by side; "sit thou there,
and while my women get ready food for thee to eat, let us talk."
They sat down and waited for him to speak, and Herrera, who, although he could
not speak the language, knew by the chief's manner that something was wrong,
looked anxiously around for his and Barrington's boats' crews. Not one of the men
was to be seen.
Suddenly, with a fierce scowl at Helen, the chief raised his huge, brawny arm, and
with his open palm struck the mat upon which he sat.
"Christ-woman, why came ye here?"
The rude, rough words, so different from what she expected, startled and
"Why such angry words to those who have been cast upon the beach by the
waves, O Sru."
"'Tis to thee alone I speak, thou stealer of women's husbands. See," and he
sprang to his feet, and pointed to the oars, lances, and harpoons that lay piled
together by the tubs, "there be all the things that were taken from the boats.
Now listen, and make the dark-faced ship-man by thy side understand my words.
Presently, when ye have eaten and drank, shall my people fill the one boat that is
unbroken with food and water, and then shall ye all get to the boat, and go away
from my land, and seek the ship again. But the white man Jaki shall stay."
Utterly at a loss to account for the chief's angry words and inhospitable manner,
Helen answered him -- "Why to me alone, O Sru of L&ocaron;sap, is thy anger
turned? And how am I a stealer of women's husbands?"
"Is not Jaki the husband of Nadee?"
An agony of shame for the moment overcame her. She knew how prone the native
mind was to suspicion, and hastened to explain.
"He is not my husband. My husband is dead but yesterday."
And then, in as few words as possible, she told how it was that she and her
husband came to take a passage in the whaler, and then asked the chief if he did
not know that her husband was dead. He listened to the end, and then answered
"What lies are these? Are we fools? Is not every one that was in the boats alive
and well but Jaki? Thou dost but say this for fear of thy life, thou cunning
Christ-woman. Old Tariva knoweth of thy love for the husband of Nadee, and hath
For a minute she was too dazed to speak, and then a young girl who sat directly in
front of her took up a small piece of broken coral, and tossed it at her feet
"Thou stealer of women's husbands!" she said with a mocking laugh, and then
came a chorus of gibes and jeers.
Herrera, with a red gleam in his eyes, sprang up, and in another moment Helen had
fainted in her sister's arms.
Lifting her up, Herrera carried her back to the house and laid her down.
Kate followed him in, and splashing her face with water, she soon revived.
"What is wrong, Helen? Why is that dreadful-looking man so angry?"
"For God's sake, don't ask me now, Kate! Mr Herrera, we must leave the island at
once; our lives are in peril else. The chief says that as soon as we have eaten
something we must go away, and that he will provision the boat."
"Dios! Is the man mad?"
"No, no," said Helen hurriedly. "I know the cause of it all. A fierce old woman
named Tariva, who was once at Ponape, and hates the missionaries bitterly, has
poisoned his mind against us -- me in particular. We must go, Mr Herrera. I
know our danger. She is a terrible woman, and would have great influence over
these L&ocaron;sap natives." And then she added in calmer tones: "Leave me
here, please. I cannot face those women again, but they will offer no harm to
either Kate or you. Go, Mr Herrera, I beg of you, and see to the boat."
The mate, with a sympathetic grasp of her hand, turned to go. "Do not fear, Mrs
Parker. We will be safe enough in the boat, and even if we miss the ship we can run
down to Truk, with this wind, in thirty hours."
The moment Herrera stood outside, two of his boat's crew met him, and he
learned that the four Maoris had told them that they had been asked by the
natives to remain on the island; but that all the others, except Barrington, were to
go, or they would be killed.
"All right, boys, let the Maoris stay -- we don't want them. Where are Pedro and
Tom, and the boat-steerer?"
"Down at the boat stowing her with baskets of food. She's about a mile farther
down on the beach."
"Very well, go down and lend them a hand. Here, take the oars down to the boat,
and pull up here as quick as you can. I will stay with the ladies."
Picking up the oars the men walked quickly away along the beach, and Herrera saw
with astonishment that there was not a native about. They had all gone
into their houses, and seemed to show the most utter indifference to the
movements of the white people.
He sat down on one of the line tubs, and presently Kate Trenton, her face pale
with excitement, joined him.
"Helen is coming presently," she said, and she sat beside him and placed her
trembling hand in his.
Slowly Barrington opened his eyes and gazed stupidly around him. A raging thirst
and a sound of some one sobbing had roused him from his death-like sleep, and in a
faint voice he called for water.
"Thank God!" murmured Helen, and raising his head on her arm, she placed a young
coconut to his lips.
He drank, and then with a heavy sigh sank back on the rolled up mat that formed
his pillow, and closed his eyes again.
She knelt beside him for a few moments with her hands clasped tightly together,
and then bent down and kissed him -- for the last time.
Then came the sound of the crunching gravel outside, and the doorway of the
house was darkened by two figures, but she heard nor saw them not, as she
sobbed out her heart over the unconscious man.
"See, Nadee, see thy white husband and the Christ-woman for whom he
hath cast thee off!" and then old Tariva slipped a knife into the girl's hand. As
Nadee sprang forward Helen raised her face; and then the knife sank deep down
into her heart, and stilled it for ever.
A wild, shrieking laugh made Kate Trenton and Jose Herrera spring to their feet,
to see a hideous old woman with long, snow-white hair, standing at the door of the
chiefs house, and the next moment a young girl, as fair-skinned almost as Kate
herself, stepped outside.
Again that awful screeching laugh rang out, and the hag took Nadee by the hand
and led her out in full view of the village. Then she spoke:
"See, O men of L&ocaron;sap, see the red hand of Nadee! Hold thou it up, my
grandchild, my wood-dove, and let them see the blood of the Christ-woman who
stole thy lover from thee with her strong witchcraft."
And Nadee, with blazing eyes and panting bosom, held up the bloodied knife.
At sunset the whale-boat, with Kate's head pillowed against her lover's bosom, was
fifty miles away; and Barrington awoke -- to find bending over him the calm face
of his native wife.