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the trunk. It is so adjudged."

"_La mujer es una diabola, pero me gusto mucho_," said Santos to me,
and sighed deeply. "The woman is a devil, but I like her very much."

[Illustration: Tahaiupehe, Daughter of the Pigeon, of Taaoa]

[Illustration: Nataro Puelleray and wife
He is the most learned Marquesan and the only one who knows the language
and legends thoroughly]

The unfortunate Malay got upon his horse and, his soul deep in the
swamp of jealousy, departed to resume his copra-making.

Court adjourned. The judge, the clerk, and the interpreter, Daughter
of the Pigeon, and I toasted the blind goddess in rum, the sun being
very hot on the iron roof. Bauda and I stayed to breakfast at eleven
o'clock, and the governor permitted me to look through the _dossier_
of Daughter of the Pigeon. This record is kept of all Marquesans or
others resident in the islands; each governor adds his facts and
prejudices and each newcoming official finds the history and
reputation of each of his charges set down for his perusal. In this
record of Daughter of the Pigeon I found the reason for the
malevolent character depicted by her face.

The men of the hills have a terrible custom of capturing any woman
of another valley who goes alone in their district. Grelet's first
companion was caught one night by forty, who for punishment built
the ten kilometres of road between Haniapa and Atuona. Many Daughters,
the beautiful little leper, when thirteen years old was a victim of
seventeen men, some of whom were imprisoned. Daughter of the Pigeon
had had a fearful experience of this kind. It had seared her soul,
and Santos was paying for his sex.

In feud times this custom was a form of retaliation, as the slaying
of men and eating them. It has survived as a sport. Lest horror
should spend itself upon these natives of the islands, I mention
that in every state in our union similar records blacken our history.
War's pages from the first glimmerings to the last foul moment reek
with this deviltry. British and French at Badajoz and Tarragona, in
Spain, left fearful memories. Occident and Orient alike are guilty.
This crime smutches the chronicle of every invasion. It is part of
the degradation of slums in all our cities, a sport of hoodlum gangs
everywhere. In the Marquesas it is a recognized, though forbidden,
game, and has its retaliatory side. Time was when troops of women
have revenged it in strange, savage ways.

This unsubmissive and aggressive attitude of Marquesan women was
brought home to me this very afternoon after the trial, when
Daughter of the Pigeon came galloping up to my cabin. She reined in
her horse like a cowboy who had lassoed a steer and, throwing the
bridle over the branch of an orange-tree, tripped into my living-room,
where I was writing.

Without a word she put her arms around me, and in a moment I was
enacting the part of Joseph when he fled from Potiphar's wife. With
some muscular exertion I got her out of the house at the cost of my
shirt. Puafaufe (Drink of Beer), a chief of Taaoa, appeared at this
moment, while I was still struggling with her upon my _paepae_.

"_Makimaki okioki i te!_ An ungovernable creature!" he commented,
shaking his head, and looking on with interest as she again attacked
me vigorously, to the danger of my remaining shreds of garments.
Chivalry is not a primitive emotion, but it dies hard in the
civilized brain, and I was attempting the impossible. Fending her
off as best I could, I conjured the chief by the red stripe on the
sleeve of his white jacket, his badge of office, to rescue me, for
Madame Bapp was now on her _paepae_, craning her fat neck, and I had
no mind to be laughed at by my own tint.

The chief, however, maintained the impartial attitude of the
bystander at a street fight. Smothered in the embraces of Daughter
of the Pigeon, covered with embarrassment, I struggled and cursed,
and had desperately decided to fling her bodily over the eight-foot
wall of the _paepae_ into the jungle, when another arrival dashed up
the trail. This was the brother of Daughter of the Pigeon.

It was evident that my cabin had been appointed as a rendezvous,
though I had no acquaintance with any of my three visitors. A
suspicion was born in my dull brain. To make it surety, I grasped my
feminine wooer by wrists and throat and thrust her into the arms of
the chief with a stern injunction to hold her. Then, without hint of
my intention, I hastened into the house and brought forth the
demijohn and cocoanut-shells.

The amorous fury of Daughter of the Pigeon melted into gratitude,
and after two drinks apiece the company galloped away, leaving me to
repair tattered garments and thank my stars for my supply of _namu_.

But the end of court-day was not yet. I had barely fallen into my
first slumber that night when I was awakened by the disconsolate
Shan-Shan man, who came humbly to present me with a half-pound
doughnut of his own making, and to beg my intercession with the
governor for the return of his gun. He reiterated tearfully that he
had not meant to shoot _kukus_ with it, that he had not done so,
that he desired it only in order to be able to take a pot-shot at
the offending countryman in the village. He urged desperately that
the other Chinese still possessed a gun well oiled and loaded. He
asserted even with tears that he had all respect and admiration for
the white man's law. But he wanted his gun, and he wanted it quickly.

I calmed him with the twice-convenient _namu_, and after promising
to explain the situation to the governor, I sat for some time on my
_paepae_ in the moonlight, talking with the unhappy convict.
Without prompting he divulged to me that my suspicions had been
correct; Drink of Beer had himself instigated the raid of the bold
Daughter of the Pigeon upon my rum. Drink of Beer, it appeared, was
known in the islands for many feats of successful duplicity. One had
nearly cost the life of Jean Richard, a young Frenchman who worked
for the German trader in Taka-Uka.

"Earth Worm was a man of Taaoa," said my guest, sitting cross-legged
on my mats, his long-nailed, yellow fingers folded in his lap.
"He was nephew of Pohue-toa, eater of many men. Earth Worm was
arrested by Drink of Beer and brought before the former governor,
Lailheugue, known as Little Pig.

"Drink of Beer said that Earth Worm had made _namu enata_, the juice
of the flower of the palm that makes men mad. Earth Worm swore that
he had done no wrong. He swore that Drink of Beer had allowed him,
for a price, to make the _namu enata_, and that Drink of Beer had
said this was according to the law. But when he failed to pay again,
Drink of Beer had arrested him.

"Drink of Beer said this not true. He wore the red stripe on his
sleeve; therefore the governor Little Pig said that Earth Worm lied,
and sent him to prison for a year.

"Now Earth Worm was an informed man, a son of many chiefs, and
himself resolved in his ways. He said that he would speak before the
courts of Tahiti, and he would not go in shame to the prison. At
this time that governor was finished with his work here and was
departing on a ship to Tahiti, and Earth Worm with hate in his heart,
embarked on that ship, saying nothing, but thinking much.

"He lived forward with the crew, and said nothing, but thought.
Others spoke to him, saying that he would not profit by the journey
to Tahiti where the word of the governor was powerful, but he did
not reply. The men of the crew wished Earth Worm to kill the governor,
for every Marquesan hated him, and he had done a terrible thing for
which he deserved death.

"There had been an aged gendarme who fell ill because of a curse
laid on him by a _tahuna_. He was dying. This governor took from his
box in the house of medicines a sharp small knife, and with it he
cut the veins of a Marquesan who had done some small wrong against
the law and lay in jail. He bound this man by the arm to the
gendarme who was dying, and through the cut the blood ran into the
gendarme's veins. His heart sucked the blood from the body of the
Marquesan like a vampire bat of the forest, and he lay bound, feeling
the blood go from him. The village knew that this was being done,
and could do nothing but hate and fear, for it was the governor who
had done it.

"The gendarme died, and you may yet see on the beach sometimes that
man who was a strong and brave Marquesan. He trembles now like
_hotu_ leaves in the wind, for he never forgets the terrible magic
done upon him by that governor. He remembers the hours when he lay
bound to that man who was dying, and the dying man sucked his blood
from him.

"Now this governor was on the ship going away, and he had not been
killed. This made all Marquesans sad, and those in the crew talked
to Earth Worm, who had also been wronged, and urged him to rise and
strike. But he said nothing.

"The ship came to the Paumotas, and the governor sat all day long on
a stool on the deck, watching the islands as they passed. Earth Worm
sat in his place, watching the governor. One night at dark he rose,
and taking an iron rod laid beside him by one of the crew he crept
along the deck and stood behind the man on the stool. He raised the
iron rod and brought it down with fury upon the head of that man,
who fell covered with blood. Then he leaped into the sea.

"But the governor had gone below, and it was Jean Richard who sat on
the stool in the darkness. He was found bleeding upon the deck, and
the bones of his head were cut and lifted and patched, so that
to-day he lives, as well as ever. Earth Worm was never found. A boat
with a lantern was lowered, but it found nothing but the fins of

"That was the work of Drink of Beer, who had hated Earth Worm
because he was a brave and strong man of Taaoa. When this was told
to Drink of Beer, he smiled and said, 'Earth Worm is safer where he

"I have talked too much. Your rum is very good. I thank you for your
kindness. You will not forget to deign to speak to the governor
concerning the matter of the gun?"

I promised that I would not forget, and after a prolonged
leavetaking the Shan-Shan man slipped silently down the trail and
vanished in the moon-lit forest.


The madman Great Moth of the Night; story of the famine and the one
family that ate pig.

Le Brunnec, the trader, was opening a roll of Tahiti tobacco five
feet long, five inches in diameter at the center, and tapering
toward the ends. It was bound, as is all Tahiti tobacco, in a
_purau_ rope, which had to be unwound and which weighed two pounds.
The eleven pounds of tobacco were hard as wood, the leaves cemented
by moisture. Le Brunnec hacked it with an axe into suitable portions
to sell for three francs a pound, the profit on which is a franc.

The immediate customer was Tavatini (Many Pieces of Tattooing), a
rich man of Taaoa, in his fifties. His face was grilled with _ama_
ink. One streak of the natural skin alone remained. Beside him on
the counter sat a commanding-looking man, whose eyes, shining from a
blue background of tattooing, were signals to make one step aside
did one meet him on the trail. They had madness in them, but they
were a revelation of wickedness.

Some men, without a word or gesture, make you think intently. There
is that in their appearance which starts a train of ideas, of wonder,
of guesses at their past, of horror at what is written upon their
faces. This man's visage was seamed and wrinkled in a network of
lines that said more plainly than words that he was a monster whose
villainies would chill imagination. The brain was a spoiled machine,
but it had been all for evil.

"That man," said Le Brunnec, "is the worst devil in the Marquesas."
Between blows of the axe, the trader told me something of his history:

The madman was Mohuho, whose name means Great Moth of the Night. He
is the chief whom Lying Bill saw shoot three men in Tahuata for
sheer wantonness. He was then chief of Tahuata, and the power in that
island, in Hiva-oa and Fatu-hiva. He slew every one who opposed him.
He was the scourge of the islands. He harried valley after valley
for lust of blood and the terrible pride of the destroyer. It was
his boast that he had killed sixty people by his own hand, otherwise
than in battle.

He was a man of ceaseless energy, a builder of roads, of houses, and
canoes. At Hapatone he had constructed several miles of excellent
road with the enforced labor of every man in the valley for a year.
It is all lined with _temanu_ trees, is almost solid stone, and
endures. Its blocks are cemented with blood, for Great Moth of the
Night drove men to the work with bullets.

His arsenal was stocked by the French, whose ally he was, and to
whom he was very useful in furnishing men for work and in upholding
French supremacy. In Hapatone he was virtually a king, and the fear
of him extended throughout the southern Marquesas.

One day he came as a guest to a feast in Taaoa. There was a blind man,
a poor, harmless fellow, who was eating the pig and _popoi_ and
saying nothing. Great Night Moth had a new gun, which he laid beside
him while he drank plentifully of the _namu enata_, until he became
quite drunk.

At last the blind man, scared by his threats, started to walk away
in the slow, halting way of the sightless, and attracted Great Night
Moth's attention. He picked up his new gun and while all were
petrified with fear of being the target, he shot the blind man so
that his body fell into the oven in which the pig had been baked. The
people could only laugh loudly, if not heartily, as if pleased by
the joke.

In Hana-teio a man in a cocoanut-tree gathering nuts was ordered to
come down by Great Night Moth who was passing on a boar hunt. The
man became confused. His limbs did not cling to the tree as usual.
He was fearful and could make no motion.

"_Poponohoo! Ve mai! A haa tata!_ Come down quickly!" yelled the

The poor wretch could not obey. He saw the gun and knew the chief.
Great Night Moth brought him down a corpse.

There was no punishment for him. The French held him accountable
only for deeds against their sovereignty. A superstition that he was
protected by the gods, combined with his strength and desperate
courage, made him immune from vengeance by the islanders.

These were incidents Le Brunnec knew from witnesses, but it was Many
Pieces of Tattooing who told the ancestry of Great Night Moth.

"Pohue-toa (Male Package) uncle of Earth Worm, was prince of Taaoa
and father of this man," said Many Pieces. "He was one of the
biggest men of these islands, and the strongest in Taaoa. He lived
for a while in Hana-menu.

"There was no war then between the valley of Atuona and that of
Hana-menu; the people of both crossed the mountains and visited one
another. But it was discovered in Atuona that a number of the people
were missing. Some had gone to Hana-menu and never reached there,
others had disappeared on their way home. The chief of Atuona sent a
messenger who was _tapu_ in all valleys, to count the people of this
valley who were in Hana-menu and to warn them to return in a band,
armed with spears. Meanwhile the priest went to the High Place and
spoke to the gods, and after two days and nights he returned and
said that the danger was at the pass between the valleys; that a
demon had seized the people there.

"The demon was Male Package. You know the precipice there is near
the sky, and at the very height is a _puta faiti_, a narrow place.
There Male Package lay in wait, armed with his spear and club, and
hidden in the grass. He was hungry for meat, for Long Pig, and when
he saw some one he fancied, he threw his spear or struck them down
with the _u'u_. He took the corpse on his back and carried it to his
hut in the upper valley of Hana-menu as I would carry a sack of copra.
There he ate what he would, alone.

"Oh, there were those who knew, but they were afraid to tell. After
it became known to the people of Atuona, to the kin of those who had
been eaten, they did nothing. Male Package was like Great Night Moth
later - a man whom the gods fought for."

Great Night Moth sat smoking, listening to what was said in the
listless way that lunatics listen, unable to focus his attention,
but gathering in his addled brain that he was being discussed. I
watched him as one does a caged tiger, guessing at the beast's
thoughts and thankful that it can prey no more.

Many Pieces of Tattooing had no tone of horror or regret in his
voice while he recounted the bloody deeds of Mohuho and Pohue-toa,
but smiled, as if he would say that they had occurred under a
different dispensation and were not blameful.

"Was Great Night Moth the real son of Male Package?" I asked.

"Ah, that is to be told," said Many Pieces. "He was his son, yes.
Shall I tell you the tale of how he escaped death at the hands of
his father? _Ea!_ I remember the time well. Menike, you have seen
the rivers big and the cocoanut-trees felled by the flood, but you
have not seen the _ave one_, the time of no food, when the ground is
as dry as the center of a dead tree, and hunger is in the valleys
like the ghost-women that move as mist. There have been many such
periods for the island peoples.

"That two years it did not rain. The breadfruit would not yield. The
grass and plants died. There were no nuts on the palms. The pigs had
no food, and fell in the forest. The banana-trees withered. The
people ate the _popoi_ from the deepest pits, and day and night they
fished. Soon the pits were empty and the people ate roots, bark,
anything. There were fish, but it is hard to live on fish alone.

"Some lay in their canoes and ate the _eva_ and died. The stomachs
of some became empty of thought, and they threw themselves into the
sea. The father of Great Night Moth sent all his children to the
hills. There is always more rain there, and there was some food to be
found. His wife he kept at the fishing, day and night, till she
slept at the paddle, and he himself went to the high plateaus to
hunt for pig.

"For many days he came down weak, having found none. But at last she
came to find baked meat ready for her, and she wept and ate and
thanked him. He had found a certain green spot, he said, where there
were more.

"Many times he brought the meat to her, and she said that the
children should come back to share the food, but he said, 'No. Eat!
They have plenty.'

"She came from the fishing one day with empty baskets. The sea had
been rough, and there were no fish. Her husband had become a surly
man, and cruel; he beat her. She said, 'Is there no pig?'

"'Pig, you fool!' said her husband. 'You have eaten no pig. You have
eaten your children. They are all dead.'

"Great Night Moth had escaped because he had been adopted by the
chief of Taaoa, while his father was hunting the children in the

"That is horrible, horrible!" said Le Brunnec. "Maybe this Great
Night Moth could not but be bad with such a father. All these chiefs,
the hereditary ones, are rotten. Their children are often insane.
They have degenerated. After the whalers came and gave them whiskey,
and the traders absinthe and drugs, they learned the vices of the
white man, which are worse for them than for us."

"Do you think the eating of men began by the _ave one_, the famine?"
I put the question to Many Pieces of Tattooing, who was about to
leave the store with Great Night Moth.

"_Ae, tiatohu!_ It is so," he answered. "Our legends say that often
in the many centuries we have remembered there have been years when
food failed. It was in those times that they began to eat one another,
and when food was plenty, they continued for revenge. They learned
to like it. Human meat is good."

"Ask the gentleman if he has himself enjoyed such feasts," I urged
Le Brunnec.

"I will not!" said the Frenchman, hastily. "Tavatini is a good
customer. He has money on deposit with me. He eats biscuits and beef.
He might be offended and buy of the Germans."

Many Pieces of Tattooing nudged Great Night Moth, and they advanced
to their horses, which were tied to the store building. The madman
mounted with the ease of a cowboy, and they rode off at speed.


A visit to the hermit of Taha-Uka valley; the vengeance that made the
Scallamera lepers; and the hatred of Mohuto.

Le Verogose, a Breton planter who lived in Taka-Uka Valley, was full
of _camaraderie_, esteeming friendship a genuine tie, and given to
many friendly impulses. He had a two-room cabin set high on the
slope of the river bank, unadorned, but clean, and though his busy,
hardworking days gave him little time for social intercourse, he
occasionally invited me there to dinner with him and his wife.

One Sunday he dined me handsomely on eels stewed in white wine, tame
duck, and codfish balls, and after the dance, in which his wife,
Ghost Girl, Malicious Gossip, Water, and the host joined, we sat for
some time singing "Malbrouck se va t'en guerre," "La Carmagnole,"
and other songs of France. Stirred by the memories of home, these
melodies awakened, Le Vergose remembered a countryman who lived

"There is a hermit who lives a thousand feet up the valley," said he.
"We might take him half a litre of rum. He is a Breton of Brest who
has been here many years. He eats nothing but bananas, for he lives
in a banana grove, and he is able only to totter to the river for
water. He never moves from his little hut except to pick a few
bananas. He lives alone. Hardly any one sees him from year to year.
I think he would be glad to have a visitor."

A wet and slippery trail through the forest along the river bank led
toward the hermit's grove. Toiling up it, sliding and clutching the
boughs that overhung and almost obliterated it, we passed a small
native house of straw, almost hidden by the trees, and were hailed
by the voice of a woman.

"_I hea?_ Where do you go?" The words were sharp, with a tone almost
of anxiety, of fear.

"We go to see Hemeury Francois," replied Le Vergose.

The woman who had spoken came half-way down the worn and dirty steps
of her _paepae_. She was old, but with an age more of bitter and
devastating emotion than of years. Her haggard face, drawn and
seamed with cruel lines, showed still the traces of a beauty that had
been hard and handsome rather than lovely. She said nothing more,
but stood watching our progress, her tall figure absolutely
motionless in its dark tunic, her eyes curiously intent upon us. I
felt relief when the thick curtains of leaves shut us from her view.

"That is Mohuto," said Le Vergose. "She is a solitary, too. All her
people have died, and she has become hard and bitter. That is a
strange thing, for an islander. But she was beautiful once. Perhaps
she broods upon that."

We entered the banana-grove, an acre or two of huge plants, thirty
feet high, so close together that the sun could not touch the soil.
The earth was dank and dark, almost a swamp, and the trees were like
yellowish-green ghosts in the gloom. Their great soft leaves shut out
the sky, and from their limp edges there was a ceaseless drip of
moisture. A horde of mosquitos, black and small, emerged from the
shadows, thousands upon thousands, and smote us upon every exposed
part. In a few minutes our faces were smeared with blood from their
killing. Curses in Breton, in Marquesan, and American rent the

In this dismal, noisome spot was a wretched hut built of _purau_
saplings, as crude a dwelling as the shelter a trapper builds for a
few days' habitation. It was ten feet long and four wide, shaky and
rotten. Inside it was like the lair of a wild beast, a bed of moldy
leaves. A line stretched just below the thatched roof held a few
discolored newspapers.

On the heap of leaves sat the remnant of a man, a crooked skeleton
in dirty rags, his face a parchment of wrinkles framed by a mass of
whitening hair. He looked ages old, his eyes small holes, red rimmed,
his hands, in which he held a shaking piece of paper, foul claws.
His flesh, through his rags, was the deadly white of the morgue. He
looked a Thing no soul should animate.

"Ah! Hemeury Francois," said Le Vergose in the Breton dialect that
recalled their childhood home, "I have brought an American to see you.
You can talk your English to him."

"By damn, yes," croaked the hermit, in the voice of a raven loosed
from a deserted house. But he made no movement until Le Vergose held
before his bone-like nose a pint of strong Tahiti rum. Far back in
his eyes, away beyond the visible organs, there came a gleam of

Online LibraryFrederick O'BrienWhite Shadows in the South Seas → online text (page 27 of 29)