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Nicholas Senn.

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more perfect than any other in the world for the
display of one of nature's grandest exhibitions.
The soft light of the rising moon and the myriads
of tiny, flickering stars furnished the illumina-

15



226 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

tion ; the mountains, forests, harbor and ocean, the
stage. We were roused from our reverie by
distant peals of thunder. Looking in the direc-
tion whence these reports came, we saw black,
angry clouds hovering about the mountain-peaks
to the south and east of Papeete. The clouds
were too heavy for the rarified mountain air and
soon began to descend slowly but steadily until
they wrapped the towering summits in a cloak
of sombre black. The mountain-peaks, which
but a short time before were caressed by the
gentle, silvery light of the moon, were now com-
pletely obscured. Where did these clouds come
from? No one could tell. No one could mis-
take their movements. They appeared to. have
had only one object in view, and that was to em-
brace the mountain-range well below the tree-
line. Smaller clouds, fragments from the main
mass, moving more swiftly in the evening air,
impelled by the land-breeze, floated away from
the dark wall enveloping the mountainsides,
which seemed to possess some subtle, magnetic
power buried in the Immense piles of volcanic
rocks. At short intervals, great zigzag chains of
lightning shot through these dark clouds, mo-
mentarily lighting up the dark, unbroken, prime-
val forest. These dazzling, blinding flashes of
lightning were in strong contrast with the soft,
tropic moonshine that remained outside of the
limits of the aerial sea of clouds, which had com-




PICKING COCOANUTS



AN EVENING IN TAHITI 227

menced to discharge a drenching rain. Fleecy
little wandering clouds now flecked the horizon,
strangely and variously painted by the moon-
light, shortly before the midnight hour. Through
fissures in these fleeting, snowy clouds, the moon
and stars often peeped at the grand spectacle
which was being enacted on the stage below.
Lightning and thunder came nearer and nearer
with the approach of the weeping mass of clouds.
The bolts of lightning must have found their
marks with unerring precision in the crags and
forest underneath the roof of dense clouds, as
from there came at short intervals deafening
peals of thunder reverberating through the calm
evening air far out over the surface of the
sleeping ocean, where the reverberations died out
in a faint rumbling.

This majestic but awesome sight was of short
duration. The pouring rain relieved the clouds
of their abnormal weight, and, balloon-like, they
rose, clearing the mountain-range, which then
again made its appearance in the soft, bewitching
moonlight of the tropics. Lightning and thunder
retreated with the disappearance of the clouds.
The atmosphere was cool and refreshing, purified
by the pouring rain and the furious electric storm.
At this stage of the nightly display in our imme-
diate vicinity, in front of the veranda of the little
hotel, in full view of the now deserted stage,
from the jclear, cloudless sky, gigantic drops of



228 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

rain fell, sparkling in the magic moonlight Kke
diamonds that had become loosened and had
fallen from the jeweled crown of the Queen of
Night, whose throne had then reached the zenith
of the horizon.

Instead of wishing for an encore after such a
brilliant act given by nature's artists, we took
one more and last look at the serene, smiling, full
face of the moon, and were then prepared to
acknowledge reverently : '

What else is nature but God, and divine reason,
residing in the whole world and its parts.

Seneca.



lORANA!

The South Sea Islanders have beautiful words
of welcome with which they meet the stranger.
The Samoan greets you with talofa; the Hawa-
iian, with a clear, musical voice, welcomes you
with aloha nui; and the Tahitian, with an open,
friendly face and a smile, when he meets you,
addresses you with that beautiful greeting,
iorana. These euphonious words mean more
than the words of our language intended for the
same purpose ; they come from the heart and are
addressed to the heart much more so than our
''Welcome," "How do you do ?" "How are you ?"
or "I am glad to see you." These Polynesian
words are not only words of welcome, but carry
with them the best wishes of the natives for the
stranger; they signify not only a formality, but
also express a sincerity which is so often lacking
in our conventional meetings with friends and
strangers. The visitor who remains long enough
in Tahiti to become acquainted with the natives
will find that their greeting, iorana, is verified
by their actions. The natives, educated and
ignorant, young and old, are polite, friendly and
hospitable to a fault. They are fond of making
little gifts to strangers, and if these are recip-
rocated, they are really and honestly grateful.
The people are charming, the island beautiful,

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230 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

and nature's storehouse never empty of the
choicest that the sea can supply and the soil
can produce. Any one who has seen Tahiti, the
Island Paradise, on leaving it, and ever after,
in recalling his experiences and observations in
this island of peace, rest, charms and pleasures,
will give expression to his feelings by repeating
to himself.

Isle of Beauty!
Absence makes the heart grow fonder:
Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!

Bayly.



THE END



ADDENDA



TAHITI



The waves that touch thy pebbly beach

With soft, caressing hand;
The scented breezes winging past

Above thy favored land;
The brilliant flowers, the glowing fruits,

Close to thy bosom pressed,
All, all are singing one sweet song,

Whose soft refrain is, Rest!

The sunset brush that tints thy skies

With wondrous, varied rays;
The birds that fill thy woodland haunts

With music's roundelays;
The sparkling streams meandering through

Thy valleys ever blest.
All, all are breathing one sweet song.

Whose soft refrain is. Rest!

The twilight hour that floods the soul

With waves of perfect calm.
Then gives us to the Queen of Night,

Who pours her soothing balm;
The still lagoon with coral reefs

Where beauty makes its nest.
All, all are breathing one sweet song.

Whose soft refram is, Rest !



231



232 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

O Isle of Beauty! poets may

Dip pens in wells of light,
Or soar aloft on Fancy's wings

In wild, aerial flight;
But they can never voice thy charms,

O Island of the Blest!
Whose very air is perfumed with

The fragrance rare of Rest!

O Isle of Beauty! artists may

Coax every varied hue,
To lay upon the canvas wide

A portrait true of you;
But till they borrow heaven's power

To paint thee. Island Blest,
The task is vain, O Land of Peace,

'Whose every breeze sings Rest!

Where man knows all the blissful charm

Of care-free, deep content;
Where life seems one long holiday

In childish gladness spent;
Where earth and air and sea and sky

So close to God seem pressed;
Ah, loath am I to turn from thee.

Dear Land of Perfect Rest!

Mary E. Griffin.




ALLIGATOR REAR TREE



)R REAR TREE



THE STORY OF
ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI*



I wish peace, and any terms prefer
Before the last extremities of war.

Dryden.

In one of the far-off isles of the South Seas,
in the garden-spot of the Pacific, in golden
Tahiti, about the year 1848, when Victoria was
a young queen and mother, when France was in
the throes of a second revolution, when the
United States, a young republic, was still on trial
before the old world, there was enacted one of
the most touching dramas history has ever
recorded, and this among a people considered
savages by the so-called civilized world, and
almost unknown until discovered through the
missionary fervor of a few priests. The place,
a small island, only a speck on the map; the
dramatis personcs, France, England and Amer-
ica, the hereditary chiefs of a people who for
forty generations had known no other rulers,
a weak, vacillating native queen, and a noble-
hearted native woman who knew how to be at
the same time a loyal subject, a skilled diplomat,
and that rarer and more beautiful thing, a faith-
ful friend. If you would hear a story of friend-

*This chapter is the product of the fertile pen of Dr. Lucy Waite.
Surgeon-in-Chief of the Mary Thompson Hospital, Chicago.
233



234 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

ship pure and undefiled, listen to the story of
Ariitaimai of Papara, a Tahitian of noble birth,
a child of Nature in its wildest and grandest
aspect, rocked in a gigantic cradle of sea, sky
and towering mountains, in a land of palm
forests, where Nature has provided everything
necessary to the life of her children, and where
the pearls are the purest. If Cicero had known
the story of Ariitaimai he would not have writ-
ten in ''De Amicitia :" ''But where will you find
one who will not prefer to friendship, public
honors and power, one who will prefer the
advancement of his friend in public office to
his own? For human nature is too weak to
despise power." But to understand this thrill-
ing and eventful drama, we must listen first to
the chorus reciting something of the history of
this strange people, and of the position of
woman in a land where suffrage societies are
unknown, and where the story of the inequality
of the sexes had never been told by book or
priest. Tahiti, Matea and Moorea are known
as the Windward Islands of the Society Group
in the South Seas. The Leeward Islands com-
prise the four kingdoms, Huahine, Borabora,
Raiatea and Tahaa, together with some smaller
islands, and are about one hundred and twenty
miles from Tahiti. But it has always been in
Tahiti, the gem of the Pacific, that the interest
has been centered, and it was here that the



THE STORY OF ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI 235

Struggle took place between the English and
the French for supremacy in the South Seas.

It was in 1769 that Captain Cook entered
Matavai Bay on his first voyage to observe the
transit of Venus. This spot is marked by a
stone monument and has been known ever since
as Point Venus. At this time Cook estimated
the number of inhabitants at two hundred thou-
sand. To-day, after the long contention between
the French and English for supremacy, after
the brave struggle of the natives against both
for independence, after all the ravages made by
the diseases introduced by foreigners, and
after years of a fearful mortality caused by the
enervating effect of civilization upon a people
suited only to be children of Nature, this goodly
number has been reduced to a pitiful eleven
thousand. In fact, our so-called nineteenth
century civilization has succeeded in practically
exterminating a people who could produce a
pearl among womankind, a rare and tender
soul, such an one as English history does not
give us, and France has produced but one, her
own Jeanne D'Arc.

The government of the island has always been
by chiefs and chiefesses, no distinction of sex
being made in laws of inheritance, the eldest
born inheriting the rank and estates and all the
authority which the title of chief conveys.
Many of the chiefesses appear to have been



236 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

exceedingly warlike, true Amazons, contending
with neighboring chiefs for more authority and
extensive possessions. Even as wives of the
chiefs, women went to war to help fight the
battles of their husbands and clans. It is
reported of one of the Pomares who was of a
peaceful disposition that in one hotly contested
encounter he fled to a neighboring island, leav-
ing his wife Iddeah to face the storm. History
says that she was a great warrior and carried
the contest to a successful issue for her husband
and their possessions. It is recorded of another
chief that he was not a warrior and left the
active campaigning to his wife. So it will be
seen that in the political life of Tahiti sex was
not considered. Accident of birth settled the
title, and the warlike spirit miade the warrior,
whether it resided in chief or chiefess. England
took a hand in the island politics at a time when
one of the weakest and most unpopular chiefs
was warring for the supremacy, and by assisting
and upholding his authority prolonged one of
the most disastrous wars in the history of Tahiti.
The Tahitians detested tyranny and the inso-
lence of a single ruler, and in their tribal system
of chiefs had a protection against despotism
which the foreigners, by their advocacy of the
cause of a special chief, afterwards Pomare I.,
destroyed.

Before the invasion of the English, the hered-



THE STORY OF ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI 237

itary chief of each district held absolute sway
in his own province. Questions of common
interest were settled in the island councils by
majority vote, and it was in these deliberations
that the chiefs of Papara had for generations
held the balance of political power. Politically,
the change was disastrous. In olden times when-
ever a single chief became arrogant and threat-
ened to destroy the rest, all the others united to
overthrow him and thus re-established the polit-
ical equilibrium.

Ariitaimai belonged to the Clan of Tevas, of
the chiefery of Papara, and the family of Tati.
She belonged to the clan which was ruled by
Opuhara, the last of the heathen chiefs who
went down in the conflict with Pomare II.,
who with the help of English guns was made
absolute monarch of the island. This conflict
between Opuhara and the English, because
Pomare was only an instrument in their hands
to accomplish the conquest of the island, is
responsible for the bitter hatred of the genuine
natives for the foreigners and the missionaries.

Opuhara was considered the greatest warrior
and hero of the Tevas, and his death, the result
of a stratagem on the part of Pomare and the
English missionaries, is considered by his people
a veritable assassination. He fell by a shot fired
by a native missionary convert. Tati, one of the
under-chiefs of Papara, had been persuaded by



238 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

the Eng-lish to approach Opuhara to negotiate
with him for submission. But Opuhara turned
on him with scorn. "Go, traitor," he said ;
"shame on you ! you, whom I knew as my eldest
brother, I know no more ; and to-day I call this
my spear, 'Ourihere,' brotherless. Beware of it,
for if it meet you hereafter, it meets you as a foe.
I, Opuhara, have stood as Arii in Mona Temaiti,
bowing to no other Gods but those of my fathers.
There I shall stand to the end; and never shall
I bow to Pomara or to the Gods forced on us
by the white-faced man." With Opuhara per-
ished the last hope of the native patriots to
preserve a government of chiefs. His dying
words v/ere all that was left to his clan of the
glory and power of Papara. "My children,
fight to the last! It is noon, and I, Opuhara,
the // of Mona Temaiti, am broken asunder!"
He fell a martyr to his belief in the heathen
gods, and in the ancient inherited rights of his
people: a tribal government. His followers
have always firmly believed that Opuhara would
have won the contest had not the missionaries
brought their guns along with their Bibles.

It was this belief that Ariitaimai inherited
with the beautiful lands of Papara. She says in
her memoirs: "I am told that Opuhara's spear,
'Brotherless Ourihere,' is now in the Museum
of the Louvre. Even in those days there were
among all his warriors only two who could



THE STORY OF ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI 239

wield it. If the missionaries have sometimes
doubted whether the natives rightly understood
the truths and blessings of Christianity, perhaps
one reason may be that the Tevas remember how
the missionaries fought for Pomare and killed
Opuhara."

Marama, the mother of Ariitaimai, was a
celebrated chief ess in her own right, the sole
heir of Marama, the head chief of Moorea, the
nearest island to Tahiti. She was a great heiress,
and the last representative of the sacred families
of these two islands. She was given in mar-
riage, as a political compromise and at the spe-
cial request of King Pomare, to Tati's son, the
head chief of Tahiti. It was also agreed that
all issue of the marriage should become the
adopted children of Pomare, according to an
ancient Tahitian custom. The family is a great
institution in Tahiti and any one whose parents
both by birth and adoption had been carried to
the family Marae with offerings to the gods,
enjoyed a rare social distinction. This Arii-
taimai could claim, so from her birth she was
looked upon by the islanders as an especially
favored and much-to-be-treasured maiden. It
may be that this great respect shown towards
her by the entire people did much to mold her
character. The Tahitian mother has little to say
in regard to the training of her first-born, as
this one is considered to belong to the family



240 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

as a whole, and all questions of general interest
are settled in family council. And so it was
with Ariitaimai. She saw little of her mother,
but was in constant touch with the family chiefs
from whom, no doubt, she learned lessons in
diplomacy, and from listening to their councils
she acquired that rare good judgment which
fitted her later to be the accepted advisor of her
teachers. She mastered both the French and
the English languages, and her memoirs show
a wonderful knowledge of the literature of both
countries, as well as a wide and comprehensive
reading of classical authors. While Ariitaimai
was growing to womanhood, the pride and spe-
cial care of the chiefs of Papara, another maiden
was receiving equal care and attention on a
neighboring island. Aimata of Raiatea, the
daughter of Pomare II., was only nine years
old when her father died and she was given into
the care of the head chief Uata, who was a good
and learned man.

These two young girls who were destined to
play such an important role in the history of
their country, grew up under much the same
influences and developed characters as widely
different as the antipodes. They saw each other
only occasionally until Aimata's mother sent one
day for Ariitaimai to make a long visit at the
royal castle, as was the custom among the
islanders, as Pomare had claimed her as his



THE STORY OF ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI 341

adopted daughter according to the ante-natal
contract. Here blossomed and grew the friend-
ship which was destined later to save to Pomare
IV. her throne, and to deliver Tahiti from a war
which could only have resulted in the extermina-
tion of the native population and the destruction
of the island as an independent government. The
real struggle between France and England for
the possession of the island began in 1836, when
two French priests landed at Tahiti to convert
not the pagans to Christianity but Protestant
Christians to the Roman faith. Aimata now
become Pomare IV., promptly ordered their
arrest and expulsion. The French priests made
a protest to their government and Louis Philippe
sent a frigate to Papeete, the harbor city, with
an ultimatum, and the Queen was obliged to
yield. The English consul and the missionaries
contested the occupation of the French, and
another frigate was sent to Tahiti. Queen
Pomare now appealed to Queen Victoria and
offered to submit to a British protectorate. She
also sent a protest to the government of the
United States, against allowing the French to
forcibly occupy Tahiti. But the English Queen
was busy with more important home affairs, and
neglected the appeal from the little island so far
away, and the protest to the United States was
apparently ignored. By a lack of appreciation
of the Queen's communication, the United States

16



242 TAHITI — THE ISLAND PARADISE

lost the control of the gem of all the Pacific
isles, and lost also a rare opportunity to aid
and protect a brave people in their struggle for
independence. This attitude of England and the
United States left the contest to be settled
between the natives and the French. After a
desultory war lasting over four long, miserable
years, with the advantage first on one side and
then on the other, the French government decided
to end the matter and sent two frigates to the
island. The government had offered previously
to this to place Pomare permanently on the
throne under a French protectorate, but she
would not consent to this, looking constantly for
help from the English who had done so much
for her father. So she left Tahiti, the scene of
the contest, and fled to Raiatea to her own
family for protection, while waiting for the help
which never came.

Ariitaimai,in her own beautiful home at Papara,
pondered over the wretched state of her beloved
country and her heart was sore both for her
idolized friend and poor bleeding Tahiti. Was
there no way out of this Slough of Despond into
which the foreigners had plunged her unhappy
country? She knew the temper of the island
chiefs and that they had sworn to die fighting
for the independence of their country. She
remembered the fate of Tati, who had been
branded a traitor with Opuhara's last breath



THE STORY OF ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI 343

because he counseled submission to the English,
and she dared not propose to them any compro-
mising measures. She looked out despairingly
over the trackless sea, and appealingly up at the
towering mountains which had been her com-
panions during prosperity and adversity, but no
answer came to her anxious questionings. Then
suddenly, one day, word was brought to her by an
old woman of her clan that two French frigates
had landed in the harbor of Tahiti. She knew
this meant the end, unless Queen Pomare could
be persuaded to return to Tahiti and accept the
offer of the French. The old crone who had
brought her the news said to her: "Don't you
know that you are the first in the Island, and
that it remains in your hands to save all this
and your land?" Then Ariitaimai hesitated no
longer, but hastened to the governor and told
him what she had heard. He replied : "You have
heard the truth. The colonel commanding the
troops has heard of so many instances of insult
given to the French that we have decided at last
to go out and finish up the affair." This brusque
answer aroused in Ariitaimai all the stored-up
energy of years. She became immediately the
diplomatic representative of her people, and
begged the governor to give her a few days that
she might see the chiefs and make at least an
effort to avert the terrible havoc to lives and
property which this would cause. Ariitaimai was



244 TAHITI THE ISLAND PARADISE

well known to the governor, and although evi-
dently amused that a young woman should take
upon herself this difficult task, readily consented.
Like two generals they sat down and talked over
all the terms of the peace ; the governor agreeing
to restore Pomare to her throne if she would
return immediately, and to leave the chiefs in
possession of their estates and control each of
his own chiefery, all to be under the protection
of the French flag. This, he said, they were will-
ing to do, although the Queen had broken her
written agreement with them, and by deserting
her country and throne had absolved them from
all obligations to her. Before the conclusion of
the interview Ariitaimai had won the respect and
admiration of the governor, and from that time
on they worked together to bring about a peace-
able settlement of the long and disastrous war.
The journey which she was obliged to make in
order to meet the chiefs in council was a long
one, and while she was making her preparations
the governor's own aid-de-camp arrived ready
to accompany her, bringing the governor's
horses and all necessary passports. She says in
her memoirs : 'T knew that my influence with
the natives would be sufficient to save us from
any trouble with them." Arrived at last at the
principal native fort where the chiefs were assem-
bled, her first act showed her the accomplished
diplomat. She sent a trusty messenger for



THE STORY OF ARIITAIMAI OF TAHITI 245

Nuutere, the one whose influence against peace
she most feared, and who with the other chief,
Teaatoro, practically controlled the situation.
When he came out to see her she took him by
the hand and said: "My object in coming here
is to bring peace, and I have counted on you
for the sake of old friendship to be my speaker
in this trying instance." She quaintly adds:
"He was very much perplexed at this," evidently
not understanding why she could not speak for
herself as she had often done before. But to
her surprise Ariitaimai found the old chief very


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Online LibraryNicholas SennTahiti; the island paradise → online text (page 13 of 14)