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face, and stood aghast at the mystery of their disappearance with
door locked, until looking from my lofty window I beheld them moving
rapidly down an _estero_ in a _banca_. I have given over my watch to
a gendarme in Cairo to forfend arrest for having beaten an Arab who
tripped me to pick my pocket, and I have surrendered to the rapacity
of a major-general-uniformed official in Italy, who would
incarcerate me for not having a tail-light lit. In San Francisco,
when robbed upon the public street, I have listened while the police
suggested that I offer a fee to the "king of the dips" and a reward
to certain saloonkeepers to intercede with the unknown-to-me
highwaymen for the return of an heirloom.

Yet through the darkest nights in Vait-hua I slept serenely,
surrounded by all the possessions so desirable in the eyes of my
neighbors, in a house the doors of which were never fastened. There
was not a lock in all the village, or anything that answered the
purpose of one. The people of this isolated valley, forgetting their
brief encounter with the European idea of money and of the
accumulation of property, had reverted to the ways of their fathers.

Before interference with their natural customs the Marquesans were
communists to a large degree. Their only private property consisted
of houses, weapons, ornaments, and clothing, for the personal use of
the owner himself. All large works, such as the erection of houses,
the building of large canoes, and, in ancient days, the raising of
_paepaes_ and temples, were done by mutual cooperation; though
each family provided its own food and made provision for the future
by storing breadfruit in the _popoi_ pits. Neo, like the long line
of chiefs before him, had gathered a little more of the good things
of life than had the majority, but he was in no sense a dictator,
except as personality won obedience. In the old days a chief was
often relegated to the ranks for failure in war, and always for an
overbearing attitude toward the commoners. Such arrogant fellows
were kicked out of the seat of power unceremoniously.

"Our pure republican policy approaches so near their own," said the
American naval captain, Porter, a hundred years ago.

Men were honored for their artistry, highest place being given to
the tattooers, the carvers, the designers, and builders of canoes,
the architects, doctors, and warriors. Men and women rose to
influence and chiefly rank only by deeds that won popular admiration.
These people were hero-worshippers, and in the bloodiest of the old
days those of fine soul who had a message of entertainment or
instruction were _tapu_ to all tribes, so that they could travel
anywhere in safety and were welcome guests in all homes.

It is true that in Hawaii and Tonga conquerors made themselves kings,
but not there or in Samoa, Tahiti, or the Marquesas were kings
supreme rulers until the whites established them for their own trade
purposes and sold them firearms by which to maintain their power.

That day of the whites had passed in Vait-hua. The chief now
maintained his authority by the fondness of his people alone.
Generous he was, and gentle, yet I minded that he had bitten off the
nose of Severin, the French gendarme, when the _namu_ had made him
mad. Now whether guided by pride in his discipline or by memory of
evil-doing repented, he was strict in his enforcement of the
prohibition of cocoanut toddy, and sobriety made the days and nights

Early in the mornings I called "Kaoha!" from my _paepae_ to
Mrs. Seventh Man, who came each day from her bath in the _via
puna_ attired in her earrings only.

Sauntering along the bank of the brook still dripping from the spring,
her wet black hair clinging to her shapely back and her tawny skin
glistening in flickering light and shade, she was for all the world
my conception of Mother Eve before even leaves were modesty. Her
nudity was a custom only at this time, for when she reappeared to
aid Exploding Eggs in preparing my breakfast she always wore a
scarlet _pareu_ and her hair was done like Bernhardt's.

Vanquished Often appeared with her aunt, carefully dressed in
spotless, diaphanous tunic, fresh flowers in her hair, a treasured
pink silk garter clasping her rounded arm. "Big White Brother," she
called me with pride, though often I saw a sad wonder in her great
eyes as she squatted near, silently watching me. Her possessive ways
were pretty to see as she walked close by my side on the trail from
my cabin to the beach, while Exploding Eggs regarded her jealously,
insisting on his prerogative as _Tueni Oki Kiki_, Keeper of the
Golden Bed, the glittering magnificence of which he described
minutely to her.

We arrived at a merry scene upon the beach. Women and children were
in the surf, or on rocks under the cliffs, fishing for _popo_, the
young of _uua_. With bamboo poles twenty feet long and lines of even
greater length, we stood up to our necks in the sea and threw out
the hook baited with a morsel of shrimp. The breakers tumbled us
about, the lines became tangled, amid gales of laughter and a medley
of joyous shouts. Tiring of fishing, Vanquished Often and I would
breast the creaming waves side by side, to turn far out and dash in
on the breakers, overturning all but the wary. Or a group of us,
climbing high on the cliffs, would fling ourselves again and again
into the sea, turning in mid-air, life and delight quickening every

Wearying of this sport, we embarked in canoes, fishing or sailing,
and many small adventures we had, for the younger and more daring
spirits delighted in scaring me into expostulation or the silence of
the condemned and then saving my life by a hair's-breadth.

We had gone one morning about the southern cape, and were harpooning
swordfish and the gigantic sunfish when a commotion a thousand feet
away brought shouts of warning from my companions. We saw two whales,
one with a baby at her breast. The other we took to be the father
whale. Huge black beasts they were. Upon this mated pair a band of
sharks had flung themselves to seize the infant.

There were at least twenty-five sharks in the mad mob, great white
monsters thirty feet in length, man-eaters by blood-taste, tigers in
disposition. Though they could not compare with their prey in size
or power, they had heads as large as barrels, and mouths that would
drag a man through their terrible gaps. That their hunger was past
all bounds was evident, for the whale is not often attacked by such
inferior-sized fish. Storms had raged on the sea for days, and maybe
had cheated the sharks of their usual food.

They swam around and around the mountainous pair, darting in and out,
evidently with some plan of drawing off the male. Both the whales
struck out incessantly with their mammoth flukes; their great tails,
crashing upon the sea-surface, lashed it to mountains of foam. Our
boats tossed as in a gale.

Carried away by the pity and terror of the scene, we shouted threats
and curses at the monsters, calling down on them in Marquesan the
wrath of the sea-gods. Frenziedly handling tiller and sails, we
circled the battle, impotent to aid the poor woman-beast and her baby.
The sharks harried them as hounds a fox. Desperately the parents
fought, more than one shark sank wounded to the depths and one,
turning its white belly to the sun, floated dead upon the waves.
Another was flung high in air by a blow of the mother's tail. But it
was an uneven contest. At last we saw the nursling drawn from her
breast, and the mother herself sank, still struggling. She may have
risen, of course, far away, but she seemed disabled.

We did not wait about that bloody spot when the sharks had fallen
upon their prey, for our canoe was low in the water, and with such a
sight to warn us, we did not doubt that the loathly monsters would
attack us.

From such a sight it was a relief to turn to the mountains. Along
the steep trails I roamed far with Vanquished Often and Exploding
Eggs. We played at being alone with nature, foregoing in living all
that the white man had brought. I left the house of the chief naked
save for a loin-cloth of native make, and I wore no shoes or hat.
Vanquished Often and my valet were attired as I, and thus we shouted
"Kaoha!" to the chieftess and started toward adventure.

Seventh Man was dubious about my setting off without some prepared
food, _popoi_ or canned fish or biscuits, and without sleeping-mats.
"You ketchee hungery by an' soon," he protested. "No got Gold Bed in

Vanquished Often laughed merrily, and the chief looked like a father
whose child has thrown a stone at the bogie-man. I rubbed his nose
with mine in farewell, and we began our journey, barehanded as Crusoe,
yet more fortunate than he since we were in the best of company and
I had the comforting knowledge that Marquesan youth would not go
hungry or permit me to do so.

Our way led up heights of marvelous beauty, along the edges of deep
defiles that opened below our feet like valleys of Paradise. The
candlenut, the _ama_, with its lilac bloom, the hibiscus and pandanus,
green and glossy, the _petavii_, a kind of banana the curving fronds
of which spread high in air, the snake-plant, _makomako_, a
yellow-flowered shrub, and many others none of us could name,
carpeted the farther mountain-sides with brilliant colors.
Everywhere were cocoanuts, guavas, and mangos. In the tree-tops over
our heads the bindweed shook its feathery seed-pods, the parasite
_kouna_ dripped its deeply serrated leaves and crimson umbels, and
thousands of orchids hung like butterflies.

"It is beautiful in your islands, is it not?" Vanquished Often said
wistfully. "Tell us more of the marvels there! Are the girls of your
valleys very lovely, and do they all sleep in golden beds?"

All daughters of chiefs slept in golden beds, I told her. Often they
wore golden slippers on their feet. When they wished to go over the
mountains they did not walk, or ride on donkeys, but went in seats
covered with velvet, a kind of cloth more soft than the silk ribbon
of her pink garter-armlet, and these seats were drawn at incredible
speed by a snorting thing made of iron, not living, but stronger
than a hundred donkeys.

"How do they make that cloth?" said Vanquished Often, eagerly. They
did not make it, I explained. It was made for them by girls who were
not daughters of chiefs, and therefore had no golden beds.

Her eyes clouded with bewilderment, but Exploding Eggs listened
breathlessly, and demanded more tales. I told them of wireless
telegraphy. This they believed as they believed the tales of magic
told by old sorcerers, but they scoffed at my description of an
elevator, perceiving that I was loosing the reins of my fancy and
soaring to impossibilities.

"The girls in your island must always be happy," said Vanquished
Often, sighing. All daughters of chiefs were happy, I said.
"What is the manner of their fishing?" asked Exploding Eggs.

In such conversation we proceeded, walking for miles through a
fairyland in which we were the only living creatures, save for the
small scurrying things that slipped across the trail, and the
bright-colored birds that fluttered through the tree-tops.

At noon we paused for luncheon. Vanquished Often disappeared in the
forest, to return shortly with her gathered-up tunic filled with
mangos and guavas, four cocoanuts slung in a neatly plaited basket
of leaves on her bare shoulders. Exploding Eggs, cutting two sticks
of dry wood from the underbrush, whirled them upon each other with
such speed and dexterity that soon a small fire, fed by shreds of
cocoanut fiber, blazed on a rock, with plantains heaped about it to

While we rested after the feast Vanquished Often, squatted by my side,
made for my comfort a wide-brimmed hat of thick leaves pinned
together with thorns, a shelter from the sun's rays that was grateful
to my tender scalp. Resuming our way, we met upon the trail a
handsome small wild donkey, fearful of our kind, yet longing for

"_Pureekee!_" said Exploding Eggs, meaning _bourrique_, the French
for donkey. And Vanquished Often related that once hundreds of these
beasts roamed through the jungle, descendants of a pair of asses
escaped from a ship decades before, but that most of them had
starved to death in dry periods, or been eaten by hungry natives.

Farther on we passed acres of the sensitive plant, called by the
Marquesans _teita hakaina_, the Modest Herb. A wide glade in a curve
of the mountains was filled with a sea of it, and my companions
delighted in dashing through its curiously nervous leafage, that
shuddered and folded its feathery sprays together at their touch. If
shocked further it opened its leaflets as if to say, "What's the use?
I'm shy, but I can't stay under cover forever."

In such artless amusements the day passed, a day that remains
forever an idyl of simple loveliness to me, such as any man is the
richer for having known. When darkness overtook us, we made for
ourselves the softest of ferny beds, and slept serenely, untroubled
by anything, under the light of the stars.

As we returned next day to the village in the valley, we found upon
a hill far from the beach the tombs of the sailors who first raised
the standard of France in these islands. The eternal jungle had so
housed in their monuments that we had hot work to break through the
jealous lantana and pandanus to see the stones. Neither Vanquished
Often nor Exploding Eggs had ever cast eyes on them, and neither had
but a legendary memory of how these men of the conquering race had
met their death.

A great slab of native basalt eroded by seventy years of sun and
rain bore the barely discernible epitaph:

"Ci Git
Edouard Michel Halley
Capitaine de Corvette
Officier de la Légion d'honneur
Fondateur de la colonie de Vait-hua
Mort au champ d'honneur
Le 17 - - bre, 1842"

I read it to my friends. They pressed their hands to their brows to
conjure up a vision of this dead man whom their grandfathers had
fought and slain, as I told them the story of his death in the
jungle at our feet.

It was at Vait-hua that the French first took possession of the
Marquesas. Here already were missionaries and beach-combers of many
nationalities, ardent spirits all, fighting each other for the souls
of the natives; gin and the commandments at odds, ritual and
exploitation contending. Unable to subdue the forces that threatened
the peace of his people, Iotete, Vait-hua's chief, sent a message
asking the help of the French admiral. It came at once; a garrison
was established on the beach, and the tricolor rose.

Whatever the cause, it had been upraised barely two months when
chief and people in a body deserted their homes and fled to the hills.
Commander Halley, having vainly exhorted and commanded them to return,
declared war on them in punishment for their disobedience, and
marshaling his forces in three columns set out to seek them.

Ladebat led the van, armed with a fowling-piece. Halley himself
walked at the head of the middle column, a youthful, debonair
Frenchman, carrying only a cane, which he swung jauntily as he
followed the jungle trail. When the soldiers arrived at a few feet
from the main body of the natives, Iotete advanced and cried out,

Ladebat instantly fired his shot-gun at the chief, and instantly two
balls from native guns pierced his brain.

"Halley," runs the old chronicle, "advanced from the shelter of a
cocoanut-tree to give orders to his men, but fell on his knees as if
in prayer, embracing the tree, three paces from the corpse of Ladebat.
Five of his men dropped mortally wounded beside him. Third Officer
Laferriere had the retreat sounded."

Here, but a few feet from the spot where the gay young Frenchman fell,
the jungle had covered his tomb. Fifty thousand Marquesans have died
to bring peace to the soul of that _corvette_ commander who so
jauntily flourished his cane in the faces of the wondering savages.
Iotete would better have endured the pranks of brutal sea-adventurers,
perhaps. This mausoleum was the seal of French occupancy.

Farther down the hill we came upon the first church built in the
Marquesas. It was a small wooden edifice bearing a weatherbeaten
sign in French, "The Church of the Mother of God." Above the
shattered doors were two carven hearts, a red dagger through one and
a red flame issuing from the other. A black cross was fixed above
these symbols, which Vanquished Often and Exploding Eggs regarded
with respect. To the Marquesan these are all _tiki_, or charms,
which have superseded their own.

Beside the decaying church stood a refectory far gone in ruin, that
once had housed a dozen friars. Breadfruit-, mango- and orange-trees
grew in the tangled tall grass, and the garden where the priests had
read their breviaries was a wilderness of tiger-lilies. Among them
we found empty bottles of a "Medical Discovery," a patent medicine
dispensed from Boston, favored in these islands where liquor is
tabooed by government.

Seventh Man, coming up the trail to meet us, found us looking at them.
He lifted one and sniffed it regretfully.

"Prenty strong," he said. "Make drunkee. Call him Kennedee. He cost
much. Drinkee two piece you sick three day." He smiled reminiscently,
and once more I thought of that day when the unfortunate gendarme
had surprised the orgiasts in the forest and lost his nose. The
chief accompanied us down the trail.

"My brother of grandfather have first gun in Marquesas," he said
with meaning when I spoke of the days of Halley. "One chief Iotete
have prenty trouble _Menike_ whaleman. He send for French admiral
help him. Captiane Halley come with sailor. Frenchman he never go
'way." Again his teeth gleamed in a smile. "My brother of
grandfather have gun long time in hills," he added cryptically.

Too soon the time came when I must return to my own _paepae_ in
Atuona. Vanquished Often wept at my decision, and Mrs. Seventh Man
rubbed my nose long with hers as she entreated me to remain in the
home she had given over to me. The chief, finding remonstrance
useless, volunteered to accompany me on my return, and one midnight
woke me to be ready when the wind was right.

We went down the trail through wind and darkness, the chief blowing
a conch-shell for the crew. In the straw shanty where my hosts had
spread their mats that I might have the full occupancy of their
comfortable home, we found Mrs. Seventh Man making tea for me.
Vanquished Often sat apart in the shadow, her face averted, but when
my cocoanut-shell was filled with the streaming brew she sprang
forward passionately and would let no hand but hers present it to me.

All day it had been raining, and the downpour rushed from the eaves
with a melancholy sound as we sat in the lantern-lighted dimness
drinking from the shells. The crew came in one by one, their naked
bodies running water, their eyes eager for a draught of the tea, into
which I put a little rum, the last of the two litres. Squall
followed squall, shaking the hut. At half-past two, in a little lull
which Neo guessed might last, we went out to the rain-soaked beach,
launched the canoe, and paddled away.

My last sight of Vait-hua was the dim line of surf on the sand, and
beyond it the slender figure of Vanquished Often holding aloft a
lantern whose rays faintly illumined against the darkness her
windblown white tunic and blurred face.

The storm had lured us by, a brief cessation. We had hardly left the
beach before the heavens opened and deluged us with rain. Water
sluiced our bare backs and ran in streams down the brawny arms
bending to the oars. We paddled an hour before the wind was favorable,
and a dreary hour it was. The canoe had an out-rigger, but was so
narrow that none could sit except on the sharp side. I fell asleep
even upon it, and woke in the sea, with the chief, who had flung
himself to my rescue, clutching my hair.

Morning found our canoe close to the rocky coast of Hiva-oa. As is
their custom, instead of making a beeline for our destination or
sailing to it close-hauled as the winds permitted, the Marquesans
had steered for the nearest shore, following along it to port. This
method is attended with danger, for off the threatening cliffs a
heavy sea was running, great waves dashing on the rocks, and we were
perforce in the trough as we skirted the land.

[Illustration: Catholic Church at Atuona
Described by Stevenson in _The South Seas_]

[Illustration: A native spearing fish from a rock]

We quit the sail for oars, and it took every ounce of strength and
skill on the part of the rowers and Seventh Man to avoid shipwreck.
Each breaker as it passed tossed the frail craft skyward, and we fell
into the abysses as a rock into a bottomless pit. Every instant it
seemed that we must capsize. While we fought thus, in a frenzied
effort to keep off the rocks, the sun rose, and every curl of water
turned to clearest emerald, while the hollows of the leaping waves
were purple as dark amethysts.

Suddenly, as we slid breathlessly downward, a great wall of water
rose beside us, higher and higher until it seemed to touch the sky,
clear and solid-looking as a sheet of green glass, a sight so
stupendous that amazement took the place of fear. For an instant it
remained poised above us, then crashed down with the shock of an

Stunned, I emerged from a smother of water to find our canoe
completely under the waves, kept afloat solely by grace of the
outrigger. All hands were overside, clinging to the edge of the
submerged craft, while Exploding Eggs and I bailed for our lives.
Strong swimmers, they held us off-shore until we had so lowered the
water that they could resume the oars.

For two hours we tossed about, while the chief held the steering-oar
and his men paddled through a welter of jeweled color that
threatened momentarily to toss us on the rocks. If we smashed on
them we were dead men, for even had we been able to climb them the
high tide would have drowned us against the wall of the cliffs. No
man showed the slightest fear, though they pulled like giants and
obeyed instantly each order of the chief.

Battling in this fashion, we rounded at last Point Teaehoa and won
the protection of the Bay of Traitors. I, at least, felt
immeasurable relief, that quickly turned to exhilaration as we
hoisted sail and drove at a glorious speed straight through the
breakers to the welcoming beach of Atuona.


The Marquesans at ten o'clock mass; a remarkable conversation about
religions and Joan of Arc in which Great Fern gives his idea of the

I was surprised to note that the few natives within view when we
landed were dressed in the stiff and awkward clothes of the European;
some fête must have been arranged during my absence, I thought. Then
with a shock I realized that the day was Sunday. In the lovely,
timeless valley of Vait-hua the calendar had dropped below the
horizon of memory as my native land had dropped below the rim of the
sea. Here in Atuona, whose life was colored by the presence of whites,
the days must take up their constricted regular march again.

Already through the crystal air of a morning after rain the mission
bells were ringing clear, and Chief Neo, forgetting the night of
toil and danger past, was eager to accompany me to church. It would
be an honor befitting his chiefly rank to sit with the distinguished
white man in the house of worship, and I, remembering his perfect
hospitality, was glad to do him honor in my own valley.

We hastened to my cabin, Exploding Eggs running before us up the
trail with my luggage balanced on his shoulders. Cocoanuts and
_popoi_, coffee and tinned biscuits, were waiting when we arrived.
We ate hastily and then donned proper garments, Exploding Eggs
rejoicing in a stiff collar and a worn sailor-hat once mine. They
sat oddly upon him, being several sizes too large, but he bore
himself with pride as we set out toward the church.

In the avenue of bananas leading to the mission I lingered to
observe the beauty of the flakes upon the ground. They are the
outside layers of the pendulum of that graceful plant, the purple
flower-cone that hangs at the end of the fruit cluster with its
volute and royal-hued stem. The banana-plants, which we call trees,
lined the road and stood twenty feet high, their long slender leaves
blowing in the light wind like banners from a castle wall.

The flakes that had dropped upon the ground were lovely. Large as a

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