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the benefit of M. L'Hermier des Plantes. That young governor of the
Marquesas was not given to saying much, his chief interest in life
appearing to be an ample black whisker, to which he devoted incessant
tender care. After a few words of broken English he had turned a
negligent attention to the pages of a Marquesan dictionary, in
preparation for his future labors among the natives. Gedge, however,
continued to talk in the language of courts.

It was obvious that McHenry's twenty-five years in French
possessions had not taught him the white man's language. He demanded
brusquely, "What are you _oui-oui_-ing for?" and occasionally
interjected a few words of bastard French in an attempt to be jovial.
To this Gedge paid little attention.

Gedge was chief of the commercial part of the expedition, and his
manner proclaimed it. Thin-lipped, cunning-eyed, but strong and
self-reliant, he was absorbed in the chances of trade. He had been
twenty years in the Marquesas islands. A shrewd man among kanakas,
unscrupulous by his own account, he had prospered. Now, after
selling his business, he was paying a last visit to his long-time
home to settle accounts.

"'Is old woman is a barefoot girl among the cannibals," Lying Bill
said to me later. "'E 'as given a 'ole army of ostriches to fortune,
'e 'as."

One of Captain Pincher's own sons was assistant to the engineer,
Ducat, and helped in the cargo work. The lad lived forward with the
crew, so that we saw nothing of him socially, and his father never
spoke to him save to give an order or a reprimand. Native mothers
mourn often the lack of fatherly affection in their white mates.
Illegitimate children are held cheap by the whites.

[Illustration: Lieutenant L'Hermier des Plantes, Governor of the
Marquesas Islands]

[Illustration: Entrance to a Marquesan bay]

For two days at sea after leaving Papeite we did not see the sun.
This was the rainy and hot season, a time of calms and hurricanes,
of sudden squalls and maddening quietudes, when all signs fail and
the sailor must stand by for the whims of the wind if he would save
himself and his ship. For hours we raced along at seven or eight
knots, with a strong breeze on the quarter and the seas ruffling
about our prow. For still longer hours we pushed through a windless
calm by motor power. Showers fell incessantly.

We lived in pajamas, barefooted, unshaven and unwashed. Fresh water
was limited, as it would be impossible to replenish our casks for
many weeks. McHenry said it was not difficult to accustom one's self
to lack of water, both externally and internally.

There was a demijohn of strong Tahitian rum always on tap in the
cabin. Here we sat to eat and remained to drink and read and smoke.
There was Bordeaux wine at luncheon and dinner, Martinique and
Tahitian rum and absinthe between meals. The ship's bell was struck
by the steersman every half hour, and McHenry made it the knell of
an ounce.

Captain Pincher took a jorum every hour or two and retired to his
berth and novels, leaving the navigation of the _Morning Star_ to
the under-officers. Ducat, the third officer, a Breton, joined us at
meals. He was a decent, clever fellow in his late twenties,
ambitious and clear-headed, but youthfully impressed by McHenry's
self-proclaimed wickedness.

One night after dinner he and McHenry were bantering each other
after a few drinks of rum. McHenry said, "Say, how's your kanaka

Ducat's fingers tightened on his glass. Then, speaking English and
very precisely, he asked, "Do you mean my wife?"

"I mean your old woman. What's this wife business?"

"She is my wife, and we have two children."

McHenry grinned. "I know all that. Didn't I know her before you? She
was mine first."

Ducat got up. We all got up. The air became tense, and in the
silence there seemed no motion of ship or wave. I said to myself,
"This is murder."

Ducat, very pale, an inscrutable look on his face, his black eyes
narrowed, said quietly, "Monsieur, do you mean that?"

"Why, sure I do? Why shouldn't I mean it? It's true."

None of us moved, but it was as if each of us stepped back, leaving
the two men facing each other. In this circle no one would interfere.
It was not our affair. Our detachment isolated the two - McHenry quite
drunk, in full command of his senses but with no controlling
intelligence; Ducat not at all drunk, studying the situation,
considering in his rage and humiliation what would best revenge him
on this man.

Ducat spoke, "McHenry, come out of this cabin with me."

"What for?"

"Come with me."

"Oh, all right, all right," McHenry said.

We stepped back as they passed us. They went up the steps to the deck.
Ducat paused at the break of the poop and stood there, speaking to
McHenry. We could not hear his words. The schooner tossed idly, a
faint creaking of the rigging came down to us in the cabin. The same
question was in every eye. Then Ducat turned on his heel, and
McHenry was left alone.

Our question was destined to remain unanswered. Whatever Ducat had
said, it was something that hushed McHenry forever. He never
mentioned the subject again, nor did any of us. But McHenry's
attitude had subtly changed. Ducat's words had destroyed that last
secret refuge of the soul in which every man keeps the vestiges of
self-justification and self-respect.

McHenry sought me out that night while I sat on the cabin-house
gazing at the great stars of the Southern Cross, and began to talk.

"Now take me," he said, "I'm not so bad. I'm as good as most people.
As a matter of fact, I ain't done anything more in my life than
anybody'd've done, if they had the chance. Look at me - I had a
singlet an' a pair of dungarees when I landed on the beach in T'yti,
an' look at me now! I ain't done so bad!"

He must have felt the unconvincing ring of his tone, lacking the
full and complacent self-assurance usual to it, for as if groping
for something to make good the lack he sought backward through his
memories and unfolded bit by bit the tale of his experiences. Scotch
born of drunken parents, he had been reared in the slums of American
cities and the forecastles of American ships. A waif, newsboy, loafer,
gang-fighter and water-front pirate, he had come into the South Seas
twenty-five years earlier, shanghaied when drunk in San Francisco.
He looked back proudly on a quarter of a century of trading, thieving,
selling contraband rum and opium, pearl-buying and gambling.

But this pride on which he had so long depended failed him now.
Successful fights that he had waged, profitable crimes committed,
grew pale upon his tongue. Listening in the darkness while the
engine drove us through a black sea and the canvas awning flapped
overhead, I felt the baffled groping behind his words.

"So I don't take nothing from no man!" he boasted, and fell into
uneasy silence. "The folks in these islands know me, all right!" he
asserted, and again was dumb.

"Now there was a kid, a little Penryn boy," he said suddenly.
"When I was a trader on Penryn he was there, and he used to come
around my store. That kid liked me. Why, that kid, he was crazy
about me! It's a fact, he was crazy about me, that kid was."

His voice was fumbling back toward its old assurance, but there was
wonder in it, as though he was incredulous of this foothold he had
stumbled upon. He repeated, "That kid was crazy about me!

"He used to hang around, and help me with the canned goods, and he'd
go fishing with me, and shooting. He was a regular - what do you call
'em? These dogs that go after things for you? He'd go under the
water and bring in the big fish for me. And he liked to do it. You
never saw anything like the way that kid was.

"I used to let him come into the store and hang around, you know.
Not that I cared anything for the kid myself; I ain't that kind. But
I'd just give him some tinned biscuits now and then, the way you'd do.
He didn't have no father or mother. His father had been eaten by a
shark, and his mother was dead. The kid didn't have any name because
his mother had died so young he hadn't got any name, and his father
hadn't called him anything but boy. He give himself a name to me,
and that was 'Your Dog.'

"He called himself my dog, you see. But his name for it was Your Dog,
and that was because he fetched and carried for me, like as if he
was one. He was that kind of kid. Not that I paid much attention to

"You know there's a leper settlement on Penryn, off across the lagoon.
I ain't afraid of leprosy y'understand, because I've dealt with 'em
for years, ate with 'em an' slept with 'em, an' all that, like
everybody down here. But all the same I don't want to have 'em right
around me all the time. So one day the doctor come to look over the
natives, and he come an' told me the little kid, My Dog, was a leper.

"Now I wasn't attached to the kid. I ain't attached to nobody. I
ain't that kind of a man. But the kid was sort of used to me, and I
was used to havin' him around. He used to come in through the window.
He'd just come in, nights, and sit there an' never say a word. When
I was goin' to bed he'd say, 'McHenry, Your Dog is goin' now, but
can't Your Dog sleep here?' Well, I used to let him sleep on the
floor, no harm in that. But if he was a leper he'd got to go to the
settlement, so I told him so.

"He made such a fuss, cryin' around - By God, I had to boot him out
of the place. I said: 'Get out. I don't want you snivelin' around me.'
So he went.

"It's a rotten, God-forsaken place, I guess. I don't know. The
government takes care of 'em. It ain't my affair. I guess for a
leper colony it ain't so bad.

"Anyway, I was goin' to sell out an' leave Penryn. The diving season
was over. One night I had the door locked an' was goin' over my
accounts to see if I couldn't collect some more dough from the
natives. I heard a noise, and By God! there comin' through the
window was My Dog. He come up to me, and I said: 'Stand away, there!'
I ain't afraid of leprosy, but there's no use takin' chances. You
never know.

"Well sir, that kid threw himself down on the floor, and he said,
'McHenry, I knowed you was goin' away and I had to come to see you.'
That's what he said in his Kanaka lingo.

"He was cryin', and he looked pretty bad. He said he couldn't stand
the settlement. He said, 'I don't never see you there. Can't I live
here an' be Your Dog again?'

"I said, 'You got to go to the settlement.' I wasn't goin' to get
into trouble on account of no Kanaka kid.

"Now, that kid had swum about five miles in the night, with sharks
all around him - the very place where his father had gone into a shark.
That kid thought a lot of me. Well, I made him go back. 'If you don't
go, the doctor will come, an' then you got to go,' I said. 'You
better get out. I'm goin' away, anyhow,' I said. I was figuring on
my accounts, an' I didn't want to be bothered with no fool kid.

"Well, he hung around awhile, makin' a fuss, till I opened the door
an' told him to git. Then he went quiet enough. He went right down
the beach into the water an' swum away, back to the settlement. Now
look here, that kid liked me. He knowed me well, too - he was around
my store pretty near all the time I was in Penryn. He was a fool kid.
My Dog, that was the name he give himself. An' while I was in T'yti,
here, I get a letter from the trader that took over my store, and he
sent me a letter from that kid. It was wrote in Kanaka. He couldn't
write much, but a little. Here, I'll show you the letter. You'll see
what that kid thought of me."

In the light from the open cabin window I read the letter, painfully
written on cheap, blue-lined paper.

"Greetings to you, McHenry, in Tahiti, from Your Dog. It is hard to
live without you. It is long since I have seen you. It is hard. I go
to join my father. I give myself to the _mako_. To you, McHenry, from
Your Dog, greetings and farewell."

Across the bottom of the letter was written in English: "The kid
disappeared from the leper settlement. They think he drowned himself."


Thirty-seven days at sea; life of the sea-birds; strange
phosphorescence; first sight of Fatu-hiva; history of the islands;
chant of the Raiateans.

Thirty-seven days at sea brought us to the eve of our landing in
Hiva-oa in the Marquesas. Thirty-seven monotonous days, varied only
by rain-squalls and sun, by calm or threatening seas, by the
changing sky. Rarely a passing schooner lifted its sail above the
far circle of the horizon. It was as though we journeyed through
space to another world.

Yet all around us there was life - life in a thousand varying forms,
filling the sea and the air. On calm mornings the swelling waves
were splashed by myriads of leaping fish, the sky was the playground
of innumerable birds, soaring, diving, following their accustomed
ways through their own strange world oblivious of the human
creatures imprisoned on a bit of wood below them. Surrounded by a
universe filled with pulsing, sentient life clothed in such
multitudinous forms, man learns humility. He shrinks to a speck on
an illimitable ocean.

I spent long afternoons lying on the cabin-house, watching the
frigates, the tropics, gulls, boobys, and other sea-birds that
sported through the sky in great numbers. The frigate-birds were
called by the sailors the man-of-war bird, and also the sea-hawk.
They are marvelous flyers, owing to the size of the pectoral muscles,
which compared with those of other birds are extraordinarily large.
They cannot rest on the water, but must sustain their flights from
land to land, yet here they were in mid-ocean.

[Illustration: The ironbound coast of the Marquesas]

[Illustration: A road in Nuka-Hiva]

My eyes would follow one higher and higher till he became a mere dot
in the blue, though but a few minutes earlier he had risen from his
pursuit of fish in the water. He spread his wings fully and did not
move them as he climbed from air-level to air-level, but his long
forked tail expanded and closed continuously.

Sighting a school of flying-fish, which had been driven to frantic
leaps from the sea by pursuing bonito, he begins to descend. First
his coming down is like that of an aeroplane, in spirals, but a
thousand feet from his prey he volplanes; he falls like a rocket,
and seizing a fish in the air, he wings his way again to the clouds.

If he cannot find flying-fish, he stops gannets and terns in mid-air
and makes them disgorge their catch, which he seizes as it falls.
Refusal to give up the food is punished by blows on the head, but
the gannets and terns so fear the frigate that they seldom have the
courage to disobey. I think a better name for the frigate would be
pirate, for he is a veritable pirate of the air. Yet no law
restrains him.

I observed that the male frigate has a red pouch under the throat
which he puffs up with air when he flies far. It must have some
other purpose, for the female lacks it, and she needs wind-power
more than the male. It is she who seeks the food when, having laid
her one egg on the sand, she goes abroad, leaving her husband to
keep the egg warm.

The tropic-bird, often called the boatswain, or phaëton, also climbs
to great heights, and is seldom found out of these latitudes. He is
a beautiful bird, white, or rose-colored with long carmine
tail-feathers. In the sun these roseate birds are brilliant objects
as they fly jerkily against the bright blue sky, or skim over the sea,
rising and falling in their search for fish. I have seen them many
times with the frigates, with whom they are great friends. It would
appear that there is a bond between them; I have never seen the
frigate rob his beautiful companion.

In such idle observations and the vague wonders that arose from them,
the days passed. An interminable game of cards progressed in the
cabin, in which I occasionally took a hand. Gedge and Lying Bill
exchanged reminiscences. McHenry drank steadily. The future governor
of the Marquesas added a _galon_ to his sleeves, marking his advance
to a first lieutenancy in the French colonial army. He was a very
soft, sleek man, a little worn already, his black hair a trifle thin,
but he was plump, his skin white as milk, and his jetty beard and
mustache elaborately cared for. He was much before the mirror,
combing and brushing and plucking. Compared to us unkempt wretches,
he was as a dandy to a tramp.

The ice, which was packed in boxes of sawdust on deck, afforded one
cold drink in which to toast the gallant future governor, and that
was the last of it. At night the Tahitian sailors helped themselves,
and we bade farewell to ice until once more we saw Papeite.

It was no refreshment to reflect that had we dredging apparatus long
enough we could procure from the sea-bottom buckets of ooze that
would have cooled our drinks almost to the freezing point.
Scientists have done this. Lying Bill was loth to believe the story
and the explanation, that an icy stream flows from the Antarctic
through a deep valley in the sea-depths.

"It's contrar-iry to nature," he affirmed. "The depper you go the
'otter it is. In mines the 'eat is worse the farther down. And 'ow
about 'ell?"

I slept on the deck. It was sickeningly hot below. The squalls had
passed, and as we neared Hiva-oa the sea became glassy smooth, but
the leagues-long, lazy roll of it rocked the schooner like a cradle.

The night before the islands were to come into view the sea was lit
by phosphorescence so magnificently that even my shipmates, absorbed
in écarté below, called to one another to view it. The engine took
us along at about six knots, and every gentle wave that broke was a
lamp of loveliness. The wake of the _Morning Star_ was a milky path
lit with trembling fragments of brilliancy, and below the surface,
beside the rudder, was a strip of green light from which a billion
sparks of fire shot to the air. Far behind, until the horizon closed
upon the ocean, our wake was curiously remindful of the boulevard of
a great city seen through a mist, the lights fading in the dim
distance, but sparkling still.

I went forward and stood by the cathead. The blue water stirred
by the bow was wonderfully bright, a mass of coruscating
phosphorescence that lighted the prow like a lamp. It was as if
lightning played beneath the waves, so luminous, so scintillating
the water and its reflection upon the ship.

The living organisms of the sea were _en fete_ that night, as though
to celebrate my coming to the islands of which I had so long dreamed.
I smiled at the fancy, well knowing that the minute _pyrocistis_,
having come to the surface during the calm that followed the storms,
were showing in that glorious fire the panic caused among them by
the cataclysm of our passing. But the individual is ever an egoist.
It seems to man that the universe is a circle about him and his
affairs. It may as well seem the same to the _pyrocistis_.

Far about the ship the waves twinkled in green fire, disturbed even
by the ruffling breeze. I drew up a bucketful of the water. In the
darkness of the cabin it gave no light until I passed my hand
through it. That was like opening a door into a room flooded by
electricity; the table, the edges of the bunks, the uninterested
faces of my shipmates, leaped from the shadows. Marvels do not seem
marvelous to men to live among them.

I lay long awake on deck, watching the eerily lighted sea and the
great stars that hung low in the sky, and to my fancy it seemed that
the air had changed, that some breath from the isles before us had
softened the salty tang of the sea-breeze.

Land loomed at daybreak, dark, gloomy, and inhospitable. Rain fell
drearily as we passed Fatu-hiva, the first of the Marquesas Islands
sighted from the south. We had climbed from Tahiti, seventeen degrees
south of the equator, to between eleven and ten degrees south, and
we had made a westward of ten degrees. The Marquesas Islands lay
before us, dull spots of dark rock upon the gray water.

They are not large, any of these islands; sixty or seventy miles is
the greatest circumference. Some of the eleven are quite small, and
have no people now. On the map of the world they are the tiniest
pin-pricks. Few dwellers in Europe or America know anything about
them. Most travelers have never heard of them. No liners touch them;
no wire or wireless connects them with the world. No tourists visit
them. Their people perish. Their trade languishes. In Tahiti, whence
they draw almost all their sustenance, where their laws are made,
and to which they look at the capital of the world, only a few men,
who traded here, could tell me anything about the Marquesas. These
men had only the vague, exaggerated ideas of the sailor, who goes
ashore once or twice a year and knows nothing of the native life.

Seven hundred and fifty miles as the frigate flies separates these
islands from Tahiti, but no distance can measure the difference
between the happiness of Tahiti, the sparkling, brilliant loveliness
of that flower-decked island, and the stern, forbidding aspect of the
Marquesas lifting from the sea as we neared them. Gone were the
laughing vales, the pale-green hills, the luring, feminine guise of
nature, the soft-lapping waves upon a peaceful, shining shore. The
spirit that rides the thunder had claimed these bleak and desolate
islands for his own.

While the schooner made her way cautiously past the grim and rocky
headlands of Fatu-hiva I was overwhelmed with a feeling of solemnity,
of sadness; such a feeling as I have known to sweep over an army the
night before a battle, when letters are written to loved ones and
comrades entrusted with messages.

That gaunt, dark shore itself recalls that the history of the
Marquesas is written in blood, a black spot on the white race. It is
a history of evil wrought by civilization, of curses heaped on a
strange, simple people by men who sought to exploit them or to mold
them to another pattern, who destroyed their customs and their
happiness and left them to die, apathetic, wretched, hardly knowing
their own miserable plight.

The French have had their flag over the Marquesas since 1842. In
1521 Magellan must have passed between the Marquesas and Paumotas,
but he does not mention them. Seventy-three years later a Spanish
flotilla sent from Callao by Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, viceroy
of Peru, found this island of Fatu-hiva, and its commander, Mendaña,
named the group for the viceroy's lady, Las Islas Marquesas de

One hundred and eighty years passed, and Captain Cook again
discovered the islands, and a Frenchman, Etienne Marchand,
discovered the northern group. The fires of liberty were blazing
high in his home land, and Marchand named his group the Isles of the
Revolution, in celebration of the victories of the French people. A
year earlier an American, Ingraham, had sighted this same group and
given it the name of his own beloved hero, Washington.

Had not Captain Porter failed to establish American rule in 1813 in
the island of Nuka-hiva, which he called Madison, the Marquesas
might have been American. Porter's name, like that of Mendaña, is
linked with deeds of cruelty. The Spaniard was without pity; the
American may plead that his killings were reprisals or measures of
safety for himself. Murder of Polynesians was little thought of.
Schooners trained their guns on islands for pleasure or practice,
and destroyed villages with all their inhabitants.

"To put the fear of God in the nigger's hearts," were the words of
many a sanguinary captain and crew. They did not, of course, mean
that literally. They meant the fear of themselves, and of all whites.
They used the name of God in vain, for after a century and more of
such intermittent effort the Polynesians have small fear or faith
for the God of Christians, despite continuous labors of missionaries.
God seems to have forgotten them.

The French made the islands their political possessions with little
difficulty. The Marquesans had no king or single chief. There were
many tribes and clans, and it was easy to persuade or compel petty
chiefs to sign declarations and treaties. But it was not easy to
kill the independence of the people, and France virtually abandoned
and retook the islands several times, her rule fluctuating with
political conditions at home.

There were wars, horrible, bloody scenes, when the clansmen slew the
whites and ate them, and the bones of many a gallant French officer
and sea-captain have moldered where they were heaped after the orgy
following victory. But, as always, the white slew his hundreds to

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