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It was huge, like a gigantic yam, and after we had torn it from the
stubborn soil it taxed the strength and agility of two of us to
carry it to the _paepae_ of Broken Plate, where the feast was to be.
A dozen older women, skilled in grating the breadfruit for _popoi_
making, awaited us there, squatting in a ring on the low platform.
The root, well washed in the river, was laid on the stones, and the
women attacked it with cowry-shells, scraping it into particles like
slaw. It was of the hardness of ginger, and filled a large _tanoa_,
or wooden trough of ironwood.

The scraping had hardly well begun, while Broken Plate and I rested
from our labors, smoking pandanus-leaf cigarettes in the shade, when
up the road came half a dozen of the most beautiful young girls of
the village, clothed in all their finery.

Teata, with all the arrogance of the acclaimed beauty, walked first,
wearing a tight-fitting gown with insertions of fishnet, evidently
copied from some stray fashion-book. She wore it as her only garment,
and through the wide meshes of the novel lace appeared her skin, of
the tint of the fresh-cooked breadfruit. She passed us with a
coquettish toss of her shapely head and took her place among her
envious companions.

They sat on mats around the iron-wood trough and chewed the grated
root, which, after thorough mastication, they spat out into
banana-leaf cups. This chewing of the Aram-root is the very being of
_kava_ as a beverage, for it is a ferment in the saliva that
separates alkaloid and sugar and liberates the narcotic principle.
Only the healthiest and loveliest of the girls are chosen to munch
the root, that delectable and honored privilege being refused to
those whose teeth are not perfect and upon whose cheeks the roses do
not bloom.

Nevertheless, as I smoked at ease in my _pareu_ upon the _paepae_ of
my simple hosts I felt some misgivings rise in me. Yet why cavil at
the vehicle by which one arrives at Nirvana? Had I not tasted the
_chicha_ beer of the Andes, and found it good? And vague analogies
and surmises floated before me in the curls of smoke that rose in
the clear evening light.

What hidden clue to the remotest beginnings of the human race lies
in the fact that two peoples, so far apart as the Marquesans and the
South American Indians, use the same method of making their native
beverage? In the Andes corn takes the place of the _kava_ root, and
young girls, descendants of the ancient Incas, chew the grains,
sitting in a circle and with a certain ceremoniousness, as among
these Marquesans. The Marquesas Islands are on the same parallel of
latitude as Peru. Were these two peoples once one race, living on
that long-sunken continent in which Darwin believed?

Dusk fell slowly while I pondered on the mysteries in which our life
is rooted, and on the unknown beginnings and forgotten significances
of all human customs. The iron-wood trough was filled with the
masticated root, and in groups and in couples the girls slipped away
to bathe in the river. There they were met by arriving guests, and
the sound of laughter and splashing came up to us as darkness closed
upon the _paepae_ and the torches were lit.

Lights were coming out like stars up the dark valley as each
household made its vesper fire to roast breadfruit or broil fish,
and lanterns were hung upon the bamboo palisades that marked the
limits of property or confined favorite pigs. A cool breeze rose and
rustled the fronds of cocoanut and bamboo, bringing from forest
depths a clean, earthy odor.

The last bather came from the brook, refreshed by the cooling waters
and adorned with flowers. All were in a merry mood for food and fun.
Half a dozen flaring torches illuminated their happy, tattooed faces
and dusky bodies, and caught color from the vivid blossoms in their
hair. The ring of light made blacker the rustling cocoanut grove,
the lofty trees of which closed in upon us on every side.

Under the gaze of many sparkling eyes Kivi pierced green cocoanuts
brought him fresh from the climbing, and poured the cool wine of
them over the masticated _kava_. He mixed it thoroughly and then
with his hands formed balls of the oozy mass, from which he squeezed
the juice into another _tanoa_ glazed a deep, rich blue by its
frequent saturation in _kava_. When this trough was quite full of a
muddy liquid, he deftly clarified it by sweeping through it a net of
cocoanut fiber. All the while he chanted in a deep resonant voice
the ancient song of the ceremony.

"_U haanoho ia te kai, a tapapa ia te kai!_" he called with
solemnity when the last rite was performed. "Come to supper; all is

"_Menike_," he said to me, "You know that to drink _kava_ you must
be of empty stomach. After eating, _kava_ will make you sick. If you
do not eat as soon as you have drunk it, you will not enjoy it. Take
it now, and then eat, quickly."

He dipped a shell in the trough, tossed a few drops over his
shoulder to propitiate the god of the _kava_-drinking, and placed
the shell in my hands.

Ugh! The liquor tasted like earth and water, sweetish for a moment
and then acrid and pungent. It was hard to get down, but all the men
took theirs at a gulp, and when Kivi gave me another shellful, I
followed their pattern.

"_Kai! Kai._ Eat! Eat!" Kivi shouted then. The women hurried forward
with the food, and we fell to with a will. Pig and _popoi_, shark
sweetbreads, roasted breadfruit and sweet potatoes, fruits and
cocoanut-milk leaped from the broad leaf platters to wide-open mouths.
Hardly a word was spoken. The business of eating proceeded rapidly,
in silence, save for the night-rustling of the palms and the soft
sound of the women's hastening bare feet.

Only, as he saw any slackening, Kivi repeated vigorously, "_Kai! Kai!_"

I sat with my back against the wall of the house of Broken Plate, as
I ate quickly at the mandate of my host, and soon I felt the need of
this support. The feast finished, the guests reclined upon the mats.
Women and children were devouring the remnants left upon the leaf
platters. The torches had been extinguished, all but one. Its
flickering gleam fell upon the aged face of Kivi, and the whites of
his eyes caught and reflected the light. The tattooing that framed
them appeared like black holes from which the sparks glinted
uncannily, and the _kava_ mounting to his brain or to mine gave those
sparks a ghastliness that fascinated me in my keen, somnolent state.

From the shadows where the women crouched the face of Teata rose
like an eerie flower. She had adorned the two long black plaits of
her hair with the brilliant phosphorescence of Ear of the Ghost Woman,
the strange fungus found on old trees, a favored evening adornment
of the island belles. The handsome flowers glowed about her bodiless
head like giant butterflies, congruous jewels for such a temptress
of such a frolic. The mysterious light added a gleam to her velvet
cheek and neck that made her seem like the ghost-woman of old legend,
created to lead the unwary to intoxicated death.

The palaver came to me out of the darkness, like voices from a
phonograph-horn, thin and far away. One told the tale of Tahiapepae,
the Girl Who Lost Her Strength.

Famine had come upon Atuona Valley. Children died of hunger on the
_paepaes_, and the breasts of mothers shrunk so that they gave
forth no milk. Therefore the warriors set forth in the great canoes
for Motopu. Meat was the cry, and there was no other meat than
_puaa oa_, the "long pig."

Then in the darkness the hungry fighting men of Atuona silently
beached their canoes and crept upon the sleeping village of Motopu.
Seven were killed before they could fly to the hills, and one was
captured alive, a slender, beautiful girl of ten years, whom they
tied hands and feet and threw into the canoe with the slain ones.

Back they came from their triumph, and landed on the shore here,
within spear's-throw from the _paepae_ of Broken Plate. Their people
met them with drum-beating and with chanting, bringing rose-wood
poles for carrying the meat. The living girl was slung over the
shoulder of the leader, still bound and weeping, and in single file
heroes and their people marched up the trail past the Catholic
mission. Tohoaa, Great Sea Slug, chief of Atuona and grandfather of
Flag, the gendarme, was foremost, and over his massive shoulder hung
the Girl Who Had Lost Her Strength.

Then from the mission came Père Orens, crucifix in hand. Tall he
stood in his garment of black, facing the Great Sea Slug, and
lifting on high his hand with the crucifix in it. Père Orens had
been made _tapu_ by Great Sea Slug, to whom he had explained the
wonders of the world, and given many presents. To touch him was death,
for Great Sea Slug had given him a feast and put upon him the white
_tapa_, emblem of sacredness.

Powerful was the god of Père Orens, and could work magic. In his
pocket he carried always a small god, that day and night said
"_Mika! Mika!_" and moved tiny arms around and around a plate of
white metal. This man stood now before the Great Sea Slug, and the
chief paused, while his hungry people came closer that they might
hear what befell.

"Where are you going?" said Père Orens.

"To Pekia, the High Place, to cook and eat," said Great Sea Slug.
Then for a space Père Orens remained silent, holding high the
crucifix, and the chief heard from his pocket the voice of the small
god speaking.

"Give to me that small piece of living meat," said Père Orens then.

"_Me mamai oe_. If it is your pleasure, take it," said Great Sea Slug.
"It is a trifle. We have enough, and there is more in Motopu."

With these words he placed his burden upon the shoulder of the priest,
and heading his band again led them past the mission, over the river
and to the High Place, where all night long the drums beat at the

But The Girl Who Lost Her Strength remained in the house of Père
Orens, who cut her bonds, fed her, and nursed her to strength again.
Baptized and instructed in the religion of her savior, she was
secretly returned to her surviving relatives. There she lived to a
good age, and died four years ago, grateful always to the God that
had preserved her from the oven.

He who spoke was her son, and here at the _kava_ bowl together were
the men of Motopu and the men of Atuona, enemies no longer.

The voice of the Motopu man died away. A ringing came in my ears as
when one puts a seashell to them and hears the drowsy murmur of the
tides. My cigarette fell from my fingers. A sirocco blew upon me, hot,
stifling. Kivi laughed, and dimly I heard his inquiry:

"_Veavea?_ Is it hot?"

"_E, mahanahana_. I am very warm," I struggled to reply.

My voice sounded as that of another. I leaned harder against the
wall and closed my eyes.

"He goes fast," said Broken Plate, gladly.

A peace passing the understanding of the _kava_-ignorant was upon me.
Life was a slumbrous calm; not dull inertia, but a separated activity,
as if the spirit roamed in a garden of beauty, and the body, all
suffering, all feeling past, resigned itself to quietude.

I heard faintly the chants of the men as they began improvising the
after-feasting entertainment. I was perfectly aware of being lifted
by several women to within the house, and of being laid upon mats
that were as soft to my body as the waters of a quiet sea. It was as
if angels bore me on a cloud. All toil, all effort was over; I
should never return to care and duty. Dimly I saw a peri waving a fan,
making a breeze scented with ineffable fragrance.

I was then a giant, prone in an endless ease, who stretched from the
waterfall at the topmost point of the valley to the shore of the sea,
and about me ran in many futile excitements the natives of Atuona,
small creatures whose concerns were naught to me.

That vision melted after eons, and I was in the Oti dance in the
Paumotas, where those old women who pose and move by the music of
the drums, in the light of the burning cocoanut husks, leap into the
air and remain so long that the white man thinks he sees the law of
gravitation overcome, remaining fixed in space three or four feet
from the ground while one's heart beats madly and one's brain throbs
in bewilderment. I was among these aged women; I surpassed them all,
and floated at will upon the ether in an eternal witches' dance of
more than human delight.

The orchestra of nature began a symphony of celestial sounds. The
rustling of the palm-leaves, the purling of the brook, and the song
of the _komoko_, nightingale of the Marquesas, mingled in music
sweeter to my _kava_-ravished ears than ever the harp of Apollo upon
Mount Olympus. The chants of the natives were a choir of voices
melodious beyond human imaginings. Life was good to its innermost
core; there was no struggle, no pain, only an eternal harmony of joy.

* * * * *

I slept eight hours, and when I awoke I saw, in the bright oblong of
sunlight outside the open door, Kivi squeezing some of the root of
evil for a hair of the hound that had bitten him.

[Illustration: The Pekia, or Place of Sacrifice, at Atuona]

[Illustration: Marquesan cannibals, wearing dress of human hair]


A journey to Taaoa; Kahuiti, the cannibal chief, and his story of an
old war caused by an unfaithful woman.

It was a chance remark from Mouth of God that led me to take a
journey over the hills to the valley of Taaoa, south of Atuona.
Malicious Gossip and her husband, squatting one evening on my mats in
the light of the stars, spoke of the Marquesan custom in naming

"When a babe is born," said Mouth of God, "all the intimates of his
parents, their relatives and friends, bestow a name upon the infant.
All these names refer to experiences of the child's ancestors, or of
the namers, or of their ancestors. My wife's names - a few of
them - are Tavahi Teikimoetetua Tehaupiimouna. These words are
separate, having no relation one to another, and they mean Malicious
Gossip, She Sleeps with God, The Golden Dews of the Mountain.

"My first three names are Vahatetua Heeafia Timeteo. Vahatetua is
Mouth of God; Heeafia, One Who Looks About, and Timeteo is Marquesan
for Timothee, the Bible writer.

"My uncle, the Catechist, is Tioakoekoe, Man Whose Entrails Were
Roasted on a Stick, and his brother is called Pootuhatuha, meaning
Sliced and Distributed. That is because their father, Tufetu, was
killed at the Stinking Springs in Taaoa, and was cooked and sent all
over that valley. You should see that man who killed him, Kahuiti!
He is a great man, and strong still, though old. He likes the 'long
pig' still, also. It is not long since he dug up the corpse of one
buried, and ate it in the forest."

When I said that I should indeed like to see that man, Mouth of God
said that he would send a word of introduction that should insure
for me the friendliness of the chief who had devoured his grandfather.
Mouth of God bore the diner no ill-will. The eating was a thing
accomplished in the past; the teachings of that stern Calvinist, his
mother, forbade that he should eat Kahuiti in retaliation, therefore
their relations were amicable.

The following morning, attended by the faithful Exploding Eggs, I
set out toward Taaoa Valley. The way was all up and down, five miles,
wading through marshy places and streams, parting the jungle, caught
by the thorns and dripping with sweat. Miles of it was through
cocoanut forests owned by the mission.

The road followed the sea and climbed over a lofty little cape,
Otupoto, from which the coast of Hiva-oa, as it curves eastward, was
unrolled, the valleys mysterious caverns in the torn, convulsed
panorama, gloomy gullies suggestive of the old bloody days. Above
them the mountains caught the light and shone green or black under
the cloudless blue sky. Seven valleys we counted, the distant ones
mere faint shadows in the expanse of varied green, divided by the
rocky headlands. To the right, as we faced the sea, was the point of
Teaehoa jutting out into the great blue plain of the ocean, and
landward we looked down on the Valley of Taaoa.

This was the middle place, the scene of Tufetu's violent end. A
great splotch of red gleamed as a blot of blood on the green floor
of the hollow.

"_Vai piau!_" said Exploding Eggs. He made a sign of lifting water
in his hands, of tasting and spitting it out. The Stinking Springs
where Tufetu was slain!

They were in a fantastic gorge, through which ran a road blasted
from solid rock, stained brown and blue by the minerals in the water
that bubbled there and had carved the stone in eccentric patterns.
Bicarbonate of soda and sulphur thickened the heavy air and encrusted
the edges of the spring with yellow scum. A fitting scene for a
deadly battle, amid smells of sulphur and brimstone! But it was no
place in which to linger on a tropic day.

Taaoa Valley was narrow and deep, buried in perpetual gloom by the
shadows of the mountains. Perhaps thirty houses lined the banks of a
swift and rocky torrent. As we approached them we were met by a
sturdy Taaoan, bare save for the _pareu_ and handsomely tattooed.
His name, he said, was Strong in Battle, and I, a stranger, must see
first of all a tree of wonder that lay in the forest nearby.

Through brush and swamp we searched for it, past scores of ruined
_paepaes_, homes of the long-dead thousands. We found it at length,
a mighty tree felled to the earth and lying half-buried in vine and

"This tree is older than our people," said Strong in Battle,
mournfully regarding its prostrate length. "No man ever remembered
its beginning. It was like a house upon a hill, so high and big. Our
forefathers worshipped their gods under it. The white men cut it to
make planks. That was fifty years ago, but the wood never dies.
There is no wood like it in the Marquesas. The wise men say that it
will endure till the last of our race is gone."

I felt the end of the great trunk, where the marks of the axe and
saw still showed, and struck it with my fist. The wood did indeed
seem hard as iron, though it seemed not to be petrified. So far as I
could ascertain from the fallen trunk, it was of a species I had
never seen.

"Twenty years ago I brought a man of Peretane (England) here to see
this tree, and he cut off a piece to take away. No white man has
looked on it since that time," said Strong in Battle. He brought an
axe from a man who was dubbing out a canoe from a breadfruit log,
and hacked away a chip for me.

We returned to the village and entered an enclosure in which a group
of women were squatting around a _popoi_ bowl.

"What does the _Menike_ seek?" they asked.

"He wants to see the footprint of Hoouiti," said my guide.

On one of the stones of the _paepae_ was a footprint, perfect from
heel to toe, and evidently not artificially made.

"Hoouiti stood here when he hurled his spear across the island,"
said Strong in Battle. "He was not a big man, as you see by his
foot's mark."

"Fifteen kilometers! A long hurling of a spear," said I.

"_Aue!_ he was very strong. He lived on this _paepae_. These whom
you see are his children's children. Would you like to meet my
wife's father-in-law, Kahuiti? He has eaten many people. He talks

_Eo!_ Would I! I vowed that I would be honored by the acquaintance
of any of the relatives of my host, and specially I desired to
converse with old, wise men of good taste.

"That man, Kahauiti, has seen life," said Strong in Battle.
"I am married to the sister of Great Night Moth, who was a very
brave and active man, but now foolish. But Kahauiti! O! O! O! Ai! Ai!
Ai! There he is."

I never solved the puzzle of my informant's relation to the man who
was his wife's father-in-law, for suddenly I saw the man himself,
and knew that I was meeting a personage. Kahauiti was on the veranda
of a small hut, sitting Turk fashion, and chatting with another old
man. Both of them were striking-looking, but, all in all, I thought
Kahauiti the most distinguished man in appearance that I had seen,
be it in New York or Cairo, London or Pekin.

He had that indefinable, yet certain, air of superiority, of assured
position and knowledge, that stamps a few men in the world - a Yuan
Shih Kai, Rabindranath Tagore, Sitting Bull, and Porfirio Diaz. He
wore only a _pareu_, and was tattooed from toenails to hair-roots. A
solid mass of coloring extended from his neck to the hip on the left
side, as though he wore half of a blue shirt. The _tahuna_ who had
done the work seemed to have drawn outlines and then blocked in the
half of his torso. But remembering that every pin-point of color had
meant the thrust of a bone needle propelled by the blow of a mallet,
I realized that Kahauiti had endured much for his decorations. No
iron or Victoria Cross could cost more suffering.

The bare half of his bosom, cooperish-red, contrasted with this
cobalt, and his face was striped alternately with this natural color
and with blue. Two inches of the _ama_ ink ran across the eyes from
ear to ear, covering every inch of lid and eyebrow, and from this
seeming bandage his eyes gleamed with quick and alert intelligence.
Other stripes crossed the face from temple to chin, the lowest
joining the field of blue that stretched to his waist.

His beard, long, heavy, and snow-white, swept downward over the
indigo flesh and was gathered into a knot on his massive chest. It
was the beard of a prophet or a seer, and when Kahauiti rose to his
full height, six feet and a half, he was as majestic as a man in
diadem and royal robes. He had a giant form, like one of
Buonarroti's ancients, muscular and supple, graceful and erect.

When I was presented as a _Menike_ who loved the Marquesans and who,
having heard of Kahauiti, would drink of his fountain of
recollections, the old man looked at me intently. His eyes twinkled
and he opened his mouth in a broad smile, showing all his teeth,
sound and white. His smile was kindly, disarming, of a real
sweetness that conquered me immediately, so that, foolishly perhaps,
I would have trusted him if he had suggested a stroll in the jungle.

He took my extended hand, but did not shake it. So new is
handshaking and so foreign to their ideas of greeting, that they
merely touch fingers, with the pressure a rich man gives a poor
relation, or a king, a commoner. His affability was that of a
monarch to a courtier, but when he began to talk he soon became
simple and merry.

Motioning me to a seat on the mat before him, he squatted again in a
dignified manner, and resumed his task of plaiting a rope of _faufee_
bark, a rope an inch thick and perfectly made.

"Mouth of God, of the family of Sliced and Distributed and Man Whose
Entrails Were Roasted On A Stick, has told me of the slaying of
Tufetu, their ancestor," I ventured, to steer our bark of
conversation into the channel I sought.

At the names of the first three, Kahauiti smiled, but when Tufetu
was mentioned, he broke into a roar. I had evidently recalled proud
memories. On his haunches, he slid nearer to me.

"_Afu! Afu! Afu!_" he said, the sound that in his tongue means the
groan of the dying. "You came by the _Fatueki?_".

"I tasted the water and smelled the smell," I answered.

"It was there that Tufetu died," he observed. "I struck the blow,
and I ate his arm, his right arm, for he was brave and strong. That
was a war!"

"What caused that war?" I asked the merry cannibal.

"A woman, _haa teketeka_, an unfaithful woman, as always," replied
Kahauiti. "Do you have trouble over women in your island? Yes. It is
the same the world over. There was peace between Atuona and Taaoa
before this trouble. When I was a boy we were good friends. We
visited across the hills. Many children were adopted, and Taaoa men
took women from Atuona, and Atuona men from here. Some of these
women had two or three or five men. One husband was the father of
her children in title and pride, though he might be no father at all.
The others shared the mat with her at her will, but had no
possession or happiness in the offspring.

[Illustration: Tepu, a Marquesan girl of the hills, and her sister
Her ancestry is tattooed on her arms]

[Illustration: A tattooed Marquesan with carved canoe paddle]

"Now Pepehi (Beaten to Death) was of Taaoa, but lived in Atuona with
a woman. He had followed her over the hills and lived in her house.
He was father to her children. There was a man of Atuona, Kaheutahi,
who was husband to her, but of lower rank. He was not father to her
children. Therefore one night he swung his war-club upon the head of

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