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  • 1847
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At the time, I was quite amazed to hear of press-gangs in a day of comparative peace; but the anomaly is accounted for by the fact that, of late, the French have been building up a great military marine, to take the place of that which Nelson gave to the waves of the sea at Trafalgar. But it is to be hoped that they are not building their ships for the people across the channel to take. In case of a war, what a fluttering of French ensigns there would be!

Though I say the French are no sailors, I am far from seeking to underrate them as a people. They are an ingenious and right gallant nation. And, as an American, I take pride in asserting it.

CHAPTER XXX.

THEY TAKE US ASHORE–WHAT HAPPENED THERE

FIVE days and nights, if I remember right, we were aboard the frigate. On the afternoon of the fifth, we were told that the next morning she sailed for Valparaiso. Rejoiced at this, we prayed for a speedy passage. But, as it turned out, the consul had no idea of letting us off so easily. To our no small surprise, an officer came along toward night, and ordered us out of irons. Being then mustered in the gangway, we were escorted into a cutter alongside, and pulled ashore.

Accosted by Wilson as we struck the beach, he delivered us up to a numerous guard of natives, who at once conducted us to a house near by. Here we were made to sit down under a shade without; and the consul and two elderly European residents passed by us, and entered.

After some delay, during which we were much diverted by the hilarious good-nature of our guard–one of our number was called out for, followed by an order for him to enter the house alone.

On returning a moment after, he told us we had little to encounter. It had simply been asked whether he still continued of the same mind; on replying yes, something was put down upon a piece of paper, and he was waved outside. All being summoned in rotation, my own turn came at last.

Within, Wilson and his two friends were seated magisterially at a table–an inkstand, a pen, and a sheet of paper lending quite a business-like air to the apartment. These three gentlemen, being arrayed in coats and pantaloons, looked respectable, at least in a country where complete suits of garments are so seldom met with. One present essayed a solemn aspect; but having a short neck and full face, only made out to look stupid.

It was this individual who condescended to take a paternal interest in myself. After declaring my resolution with respect to the ship unalterable, I was proceeding to withdraw, in compliance with a sign from the consul, when the stranger turned round to him, saying, “Wait a minute, if you please, Mr. Wilson; let me talk to that youth. Come here, my young friend: I’m extremely sorry to see you associated with these bad men; do you know what it will end in?”

“Oh, that’s the lad that wrote the Round Robin,” interposed the consul. “He and that rascally doctor are at the bottom of the whole affair–go outside, sir.”

I retired as from the presence of royalty; backing out with many bows.

The evident prejudice of Wilson against both the doctor and myself was by no means inexplicable. A man of any education before the mast is always looked upon with dislike by his captain; and, never mind how peaceable he may be, should any disturbance arise, from his intellectual superiority, he is deemed to exert an underhand influence against the officers.

Little as I had seen of Captain Guy, the few glances cast upon me after being on board a week or so were sufficient to reveal his enmity–a feeling quickened by my undisguised companionship with Long Ghost, whom he both feared and cordially hated. Guy’s relations with the consul readily explains the latter’s hostility.

The examination over, Wilson and his friends advanced to the doorway; when the former, assuming a severe expression, pronounced our perverseness infatuation in the extreme. Nor was there any hope left: our last chance for pardon was gone. Even were we to become contrite and crave permission to return to duty, it would not now be permitted.

“Oh! get along with your gammon, counsellor,” exclaimed Black Dan, absolutely indignant that his understanding should be thus insulted.

Quite enraged, Wilson bade him hold his peace; and then, summoning a fat old native to his side, addressed him in Tahitian, giving directions for leading us away to a place of safe keeping.

Hereupon, being marshalled in order, with the old man at our head, we were put in motion, with loud shouts, along a fine pathway, running far on through wide groves of the cocoa-nut and bread-fruit.

The rest of our escort trotted on beside us in high good-humour; jabbering broken English, and in a hundred ways giving us to understand that Wilson was no favourite of theirs, and that we were prime, good fellows for holding out as we did. They seemed to know our whole history.

The scenery around was delightful. The tropical day was fast drawing to a close; and from where we were, the sun looked like a vast red fire burning in the woodlands–its rays falling aslant through the endless ranks of trees, and every leaf fringed with flame. Escaped from the confined decks of the frigate, the air breathed spices to us; streams were heard flowing; green boughs were rocking; and far inland, all sunset flushed, rose the still, steep peaks of the island.

As we proceeded, I was more and more struck by the picturesqueness of the wide, shaded road. In several places, durable bridges of wood were thrown over large water-courses; others were spanned by a single arch of stone. In any part of the road, three horsemen might have ridden abreast.

This beautiful avenue–by far the best thing which civilization has done for the island–is called by foreigners “the Broom Road,” though for what reason I do not know. Originally planned for the convenience of the missionaries journeying from one station to another, it almost completely encompasses the larger peninsula; skirting for a distance of at least sixty miles along the low, fertile lands bordering the sea. But on the side next Taiarboo, or the lesser peninsula, it sweeps through a narrow, secluded valley, and thus crosses the island in that direction.

The uninhabited interior, being almost impenetrable from the densely-wooded glens, frightful precipices, and sharp mountain ridges absolutely inaccessible, is but little known, even to the natives themselves; and so, instead of striking directly across from one village to another, they follow the Broom Road round and round.

It is by no means, however, altogether travelled on foot; horses being now quite plentiful. They were introduced from Chili; and possessing all the gaiety, fleetness, and docility of the Spanish breed, are admirably adapted to the tastes of the higher classes, who as equestrians have become very expert. The missionaries and chiefs never think of journeying except in the saddle; and at all hours of the day you see the latter galloping along at full speed. Like the Sandwich Islanders, they ride like Pawnee-Loups.

For miles and miles I have travelled the Broom Road, and never wearied of the continual change of scenery. But wherever it leads you–whether through level woods, across grassy glens, or over hills waving with palms–the bright blue sea on one side, and the green mountain pinnacles on the other, are always in sight.

CHAPTER XXXI.

THE CALABOOZA BERETANEE

ABOUT a mile from the village we came to a halt.

It was a beautiful spot. A mountain stream here flowed at the foot of a verdant slope; on one hand, it murmured along until the waters, spreading themselves upon a beach of small, sparkling shells, trickled into the sea; on the other was a long defile, where the eye pursued a gleaming, sinuous thread, lost in shade and verdure.

The ground next the road was walled in by a low, rude parapet of stones; and, upon the summit of the slope beyond, was a large, native house, the thatch dazzling white, and in shape an oval.

“Calabooza! Calabooza Beretanee!” (the English Jail), cried our conductor, pointing to the building.

For a few months past, having been used by the consul as a house of confinement for his refractory sailors, it was thus styled to distinguish it from similar places in and about Papeetee.

Though extremely romantic in appearance, on a near approach it proved hut ill adapted to domestic comfort. In short, it was a mere shell, recently built, and still unfinished. It was open all round, and tufts of grass were growing here and there under the very roof. The only piece of furniture was the “stocks,” a clumsy machine for keeping people in one place, which, I believe, is pretty much out of date in most countries. It is still in use, however, among the Spaniards in South America; from whom, it seems, the Tahitians have borrowed the contrivance, as well as the name by which all places of confinement are known among them.

The stocks were nothing more than two stout timbers, about twenty feet in length, and precisely alike. One was placed edgeways on the ground, and the other, resting on top, left, at regular intervals along the seam, several round holes, the object of which was evident at a glance.

By this time, our guide had informed us that he went by the name of “Capin Bob” (Captain Bob); and a hearty old Bob he proved. It was just the name for him. From the first, so pleased were we with the old man that we cheerfully acquiesced in his authority.

Entering the building, he set us about fetching heaps of dry leaves to spread behind the stocks for a couch. A trunk of a small cocoa-nut tree was then placed for a bolster–rather a hard one, but the natives are used to it. For a pillow, they use a little billet of wood, scooped out, and standing on four short legs–a sort of head-stool.

These arrangements completed, Captain Bob proceeded to “hanna-par,” or secure us, for the night. The upper timber of the machine being lifted at one end, and our ankles placed in the semicircular spaces of the lower one, the other beam was then, dropped; both being finally secured together by an old iron hoop at either extremity. This initiation was performed to the boisterous mirth of the natives, and diverted ourselves not a little.

Captain Bob now bustled about, like an old woman seeing the children to bed. A basket of baked “taro,” or Indian turnip, was brought in, and we were given a piece all round. Then a great counterpane of coarse, brown “tappa,” was stretched over the whole party; and, after sundry injunctions to “moee-moee,” and be “maitai”–in other words, to go to sleep, and be good boys–we were left to ourselves, fairly put to bed and tucked in.

Much talk was now had concerning our prospects in life; but the doctor and I, who lay side by side, thinking the occasion better adapted to meditation, kept pretty silent; and, before long, the rest ceased conversing, and, wearied with loss of rest on board the frigate, were soon sound asleep.

After sliding from one reverie into another, I started, and gave the doctor a pinch. He was dreaming, however; and, resolved to follow his example, I troubled him no more.

How the rest managed, I know not; but for my own part, I found it very hard to get to sleep. The consciousness of having one’s foot pinned; and the impossibility of getting it anywhere else than just where it was, was most distressing.

But this was not all: there was no way of lying but straight on your back; unless, to be sure, one’s limb went round and round in the ankle, like a swivel. Upon getting into a sort of doze, it was no wonder this uneasy posture gave me the nightmare. Under the delusion that I was about some gymnastics or other, I gave my unfortunate member such a twitch that I started up with the idea that someone was dragging the stocks away.

Captain Bob and his friends lived in a little hamlet hard by; and when morning showed in the East, the old gentleman came forth from that direction likewise, emerging from a grove, and saluting us loudly as he approached.

Finding everybody awake, he set us at liberty; and, leading us down to the stream, ordered every man to strip and bathe.

“All han’s, my boy, hanna-hanna, wash!” he cried. Bob was a linguist, and had been to sea in his day, as he many a time afterwards told us.

At this moment, we were all alone with him; and it would have been the easiest thing in the world to have given him the slip; but he seemed to have no idea of such a thing; treating us so frankly and cordially, indeed, that even had we thought of running, we should have been ashamed of attempting it. He very well knew, nevertheless (as we ourselves were not slow in finding out), that, for various reasons, any attempt of the kind, without some previously arranged plan for leaving the island, would be certain to fail.

As Bob was a rare one every way, I must give some account of him. There was a good deal of “personal appearance” about him; in short, he was a corpulent giant, over six feet in height, and literally as big round as a hogshead. The enormous bulk of some of the Tahitians has been frequently spoken of by voyagers.

Beside being the English consul’s jailer, as it were, he carried on a little Tahitian farming; that is to say, he owned several groves of the bread-fruit and palm, and never hindered their growing. Close by was a “taro” patch of his which he occasionally visited.

Bob seldom disposed of the produce of his lands; it was all needed for domestic consumption. Indeed, for gormandizing, I would have matched him against any three common-council men at a civic feast.

A friend of Bob’s told me that, owing to his voraciousness, his visits to other parts of the island were much dreaded; for, according to Tahitian customs, hospitality without charge is enjoined upon everyone; and though it is reciprocal in most cases, in Bob’s it was almost out of the question. The damage done to a native larder in one of his morning calls was more than could be made good by his entertainer’s spending the holidays with them.

The old man, as I have hinted, had, once upon a time, been a cruise or two in a whaling-vessel; and, therefore, he prided himself upon his English. Having acquired what he knew of it in the forecastle, he talked little else than sailor phrases, which sounded whimsically enough.

I asked him one day how old he was. “Olee?” he exclaimed, looking very profound in consequence of thoroughly understanding so subtile a question–“Oh! very olee–‘tousand ‘ear–more–big man when Capin Tootee (Captain Cook) heavey in sight.” (In sea parlance, came into view.)

This was a thing impossible; but adapting my discourse to the man, I rejoined–“Ah! you see Capin Tootee–well, how you like him?”

“Oh! he maitai: (good) friend of me, and know my wife.”

On my assuring him strongly that he could not have been born at the time, he explained himself by saying that he was speaking of his father, all the while. This, indeed, might very well have been.

It is a curious fact that all these people, young and old, will tell you that they have enjoyed the honour of a personal acquaintance with the great navigator; and if you listen to them, they will go on and tell anecdotes without end. This springs from nothing but their great desire to please; well knowing that a more agreeable topic for a white man could not be selected. As for the anachronism of the thing, they seem to have no idea of it: days and years are all the same to them.

After our sunrise bath, Bob once more placed us in the stocks, almost moved to tears at subjecting us to so great a hardship; but he could not treat us otherwise, he said, on pain of the consul’s displeasure. How long we were to be confined, he did not know; nor what was to be done with us in the end.

As noon advanced, and no signs of a meal were visible, someone inquired whether we were to be boarded, as well as lodged, at the Hotel de Calabooza?

“Vast heavey” (avast heaving, or wait a bit)–said Bob–“kow-kow” (food) “come ship by by.”

And, sure enough, along comes Rope Tarn with a wooden bucket of the Julia’s villainous biscuit. With a grin, he said it was a present from Wilson: it was all we were to get that day. A great cry was now raised; and well was it for the land-lubber that lie had a pair of legs, and the men could not use theirs. One and all, we resolved not to touch the bread, come what come might; and so we told the natives.

Being extravagantly fond of ship-biscuit–the harder the better–they were quite overjoyed; and offered to give us, every day, a small quantity of baked bread-fruit and Indian turnip in exchange for the bread. This we agreed to; and every morning afterward, when the bucket came, its contents were at once handed over to Bob and his friends, who never ceased munching until nightfall.

Our exceedingly frugal meal of bread-fruit over, Captain Bob waddled up to us with a couple of long poles hooked at one end, and several large baskets of woven cocoa-nut branches.

Not far off was an extensive grove of orange-trees in full bearing; and myself and another were selected to go with him, and gather a supply for the party. When we went in among the trees, the sumptuousness of the orchard was unlike anything I had ever seen; while the fragrance shaken from the gently waving boughs regaled our senses most delightfully.

In many places the trees formed a dense shade, spreading overhead a dark, rustling vault, groined with boughs, and studded here and there with the ripened spheres, like gilded balls. In several places, the overladen branches were borne to the earth, hiding the trunk in a tent of foliage. Once fairly in the grove, we could see nothing else; it was oranges all round.

To preserve the fruit from bruising, Bob, hooking the twigs with his pole, let them fall into his basket. But this would not do for us. Seizing hold of a bough, we brought such a shower to the ground that our old friend was fain to run from under. Heedless of remonstrance, we then reclined in the shade, and feasted to our heart’s content. Heaping up the baskets afterwards, we returned to our comrades, by whom our arrival was hailed with loud plaudits; and in a marvellously short time, nothing was left of the oranges we brought but the rinds.

While inmates of the Calabooza, we had as much of the fruit as we wanted; and to this cause, and others that might be mentioned, may be ascribed the speedy restoration of our sick to comparative health.

The orange of Tahiti is delicious–small and sweet, with a thin, dry rind. Though now abounding, it was unknown before Cook’s time, to whom the natives are indebted for so great a blessing. He likewise introduced several other kinds of fruit; among these were the fig, pineapple, and lemon, now seldom met with. The lime still grows, and some of the poorer natives express the juice to sell to the shipping. It is highly valued as an anti-scorbutic. Nor was the variety of foreign fruits and vegetables which were introduced the only benefit conferred by the first visitors to the Society group. Cattle and sheep were left at various places. More of them anon.

Thus, after all that of late years has been done for these islanders, Cook and Vancouver may, in one sense at least, be considered their greatest benefactors.

CHAPTER XXXII.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE FRENCH AT TAHITI

AS I happened to arrive at the island at a very interesting period in its political affairs, it may be well to give some little account here of the proceedings of the French, by way of episode to the narrative. My information was obtained at the time from the general reports then rife among the natives, as well as from what I learned upon a subsequent visit, and reliable accounts which I have seen since reaching home.

It seems that for some time back the French had been making repeated ineffectual attempts to plant a Roman Catholic mission here. But, invariably treated with contumely, they sometimes met with open violence; and, in every case, those directly concerned in the enterprise were ultimately forced to depart. In one instance, two priests, Laval and Caset, after enduring a series of persecutions, were set upon by the natives, maltreated, and finally carried aboard a small trading schooner, which eventually put them ashore at Wallis’ island–a savage place–some two thousand miles to the westward.

Now, that the resident English missionaries authorized the banishment of these priests is a fact undenied by themselves. I was also repeatedly informed that by their inflammatory harangues they instigated the riots which preceded the sailing of the schooner. At all events, it is certain that their unbounded influence with the natives would easily have enabled them to prevent everything that took place on this occasion, had they felt so inclined.

Melancholy as such an example of intolerance on the part of Protestant missionaries must appear, it is not the only one, and by no means the most flagrant, which might be presented. But I forbear to mention any others; since they have been more than hinted at by recent voyagers, and their repetition here would perhaps be attended with no good effect. Besides, the conduct of the Sandwich Island missionaries in particular has latterly much amended in this respect.

The treatment of the two priests formed the principal ground (and the only justifiable one) upon which Du Petit Thouars demanded satisfaction; and which subsequently led to his seizure of the island. In addition to other things, he also charged that the flag of Merenhout, the consul, had been repeatedly insulted, and the property of a certain French resident violently appropriated by the government. In the latter instance, the natives were perfectly in the right. At that time, the law against the traffic in ardent spirits (every now and then suspended and revived) happened to be in force; and finding a large quantity on the premises of Victor, a low, knavish adventurer from Marseilles, the Tahitians pronounced it forfeit.

For these, and similar alleged outrages, a large pecuniary restitution was demanded (10,000 dollars), which there being no exchequer to supply, the island was forthwith seized, under cover of a mock treaty, dictated to the chiefs on the gun-deck of Du Petit Thouars’ frigate.

But, notwithstanding this formality, there seems now little doubt that the downfall of the Pomarees was decided upon at the Tuilleries.

After establishing the Protectorate, so called, the rear-admiral sailed; leaving M. Bruat governor, assisted by Reine and Carpegne, civilians, named members of the Council of Government, and Merenhout, the consul, now made Commissioner Royal. No soldiers, however, were landed until several months afterward. As men, Reine and Carpegne were not disliked by the natives; but Bruat and Merenhout they bitterly detested. In several interviews with the poor queen, the unfeeling governor sought to terrify her into compliance with his demands; clapping his hand upon his sword, shaking his fist in her face, and swearing violently. “Oh, king of a great nation,” said Pomaree, in her letter to Louis Philippe, “fetch away this man; I and my people cannot endure his evil doings. He is a shameless man.”

Although the excitement among the natives did not wholly subside upon the rear-admiral’s departure, no overt act of violence immediately followed. The queen had fled to Imeeo; and the dissensions among the chiefs, together with the ill-advised conduct of the missionaries, prevented a union upon some common plan of resistance. But the great body of the people, as well as their queen, confidently relied upon the speedy interposition of England–a nation bound to them by many ties, and which, more than once, had solemnly guaranteed their independence.

As for the missionaries, they openly defied the French governor, childishly predicting fleets and armies from Britain. But what is the welfare of a spot like Tahiti to the mighty interests of France and England! There was a remonstrance on one side, and a reply on the other; and there the matter rested. For once in their brawling lives, St. George and St. Denis were hand and glove; and they were not going to cross sabres about Tahiti.

During my stay upon the island, so far as I could see, there was little to denote that any change had taken place in the government.

Such laws as they had were administered the same as ever; the missionaries went about unmolested, and comparative tranquillity everywhere prevailed. Nevertheless, I sometimes heard the natives inveighing against the French (no favourites, by the bye, throughout Polynesia), and bitterly regretting that the queen had not, at the outset, made a stand.

In the house of the chief Adeea, frequent discussions took place concerning the ability of the island to cope with the French: the number of fighting men and muskets among the natives were talked of, as well as the propriety of fortifying several heights overlooking Papeetee. Imputing these symptoms to the mere resentment of a recent outrage, and not to any determined spirit of resistance, I little anticipated the gallant, though useless warfare, so soon to follow my departure.

At a period subsequent to my first visit, the island, which before was divided into nineteen districts, with a native chief over each, in capacity of governor and judge, was, by Bruat, divided into four. Over these he set as many recreant chiefs, Kitoti, Tati, Utamai, and Paraita; to whom he paid 1000 dollars each, to secure their assistance in carrying out his evil designs.

The first blood shed, in any regular conflict, was at Mahanar, upon the peninsula of Taraiboo. The fight originated in the seizure of a number of women from the shore by men belonging to one of the French vessels of war. In this affair, the islanders fought desperately, killing about fifty of the enemy, and losing ninety of their own number. The French sailors and marines, who, at the time, were reported to be infuriated with liquor, gave no quarter; and the survivors only saved themselves by fleeing to the mountains. Subsequently, the battles of Hararparpi and Fararar were fought, in which the invaders met with indifferent success.

Shortly after the engagement at Hararparpi, three Frenchmen were waylaid in a pass of the valleys, and murdered by the incensed natives. One was Lefevre, a notorious scoundrel, and a spy, whom Bruat had sent to conduct a certain Major Fergus (said to be a Pole) to the hiding-place of four chiefs, whom the governor wished to seize and execute. This circumstance violently inflamed the hostility of both parties.

About this time, Kitoti, a depraved chief, and the pliant tool of Bruat, was induced by him to give a great feast in the Vale of Paree, to which all his countrymen were invited. The governor’s object was to gain over all he could to his interests; he supplied an abundance of wine and brandy, and a scene of bestial intoxication was the natural consequence. Before it came to this, however, several speeches were made by the islanders. One of these, delivered by an aged warrior, who had formerly been at the head of the celebrated Aeorai Society, was characteristic. “This is a very good feast,” said the reeling old man, “and the wine also is very good; but you evil-minded Wee-Wees (French), and you false-hearted men of Tahiti, are all very bad.”

By the latest accounts, most of the islanders still refuse to submit to the French; and what turn events may hereafter take, it is hard to predict. At any rate, these disorders must accelerate the final extinction of their race.

Along with the few officers left by Du Petit Thouars were several French priests, for whose unobstructed exertions in the dissemination of their faith, the strongest guarantees were provided by an article of the treaty. But no one was bound to offer them facilities; much less a luncheon, the first day they went ashore. True, they had plenty of gold; but to the natives it was anathema–taboo–and, for several hours and some odd minutes, they would not touch it. Emissaries of the Pope and the devil, as the strangers were considered–the smell of sulphur hardly yet shaken out of their canonicals–what islander would venture to jeopardize his soul, and call down a blight on his breadfruit, by holding any intercourse with them! That morning the priests actually picknicked in grove of cocoa-nut trees; but, before night, Christian hospitality–in exchange for a commercial equivalent of hard dollars–was given them in an adjoining house.

Wanting in civility, as the conduct of the English missionaries may be thought, in withholding a decent reception to these persons, the latter were certainly to blame in needlessly placing themselves in so unpleasant a predicament. Under far better auspices, they might have settled upon some one of the thousand unconverted isles of the Pacific, rather than have forced themselves thus upon a people already professedly Christians.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

WE RECEIVE CALLS AT THE HOTEL DE CALABOOZA

OUR place of confinement being open all round, and so near the Broom Road, of course we were in plain sight of everybody passing; and, therefore, we had no lack of visitors among such an idle, inquisitive set as the Tahitians. For a few days, they were coming and going continually; while, thus ignobly fast by the foot, we were fain to give passive audience.

During this period, we were the lions of the neighbourhood; and, no doubt, strangers from the distant villages were taken to see the “Karhowrees” (white men), in the same way that countrymen, in a city, are gallanted to the Zoological Gardens.

All this gave us a fine opportunity of making observations. I was painfully struck by the considerable number of sickly or deformed persons; undoubtedly made so by a virulent complaint, which, under native treatment, almost invariably affects, in the end, the muscles and bones of the body. In particular, there is a distortion of the back, most unsightly to behold, originating in a horrible form of the malady.

Although this, and other bodily afflictions, were unknown before the discovery of the islands by the whites, there are several cases found of the Pa-Fa, or Elephantiasis–a native disease, which seems to have prevailed among them from the earliest antiquity. Affecting the legs and feet alone, it swells them, in some instances, to the girth of a man’s body, covering the skin with scales. It might be supposed that one, thus afflicted, would be incapable of walking; but, to all appearance, they seem to be nearly as active as anybody; apparently suffering no pain, and bearing the calamity with a degree of cheerfulness truly marvellous.

The Fa-Fa is very gradual in its approaches, and years elapse before the limb is fully swollen. Its origin is ascribed by the natives to various causes; but the general impression seems to be that it arises, in most cases, from the eating of unripe bread-fruit and Indian turnip. So far as I could find out, it is not hereditary. In no stage do they attempt a cure; the complaint being held incurable.

Speaking of the Fa-Fa reminds me of a poor fellow, a sailor, whom I afterward saw at Roorootoo, a lone island, some two days’ sail from Tahiti.

The island is very small, and its inhabitants nearly extinct. We sent a boat off to see whether any yams were to be had, as, formerly, the yams of Roorootoo were as famous among the islands round about, as Sicily oranges in the Mediterranean. Going ashore, to my surprise, I was accosted, near a little shanty of a church, by a white man, who limped forth from a wretched hut. His hair and beard were unshorn, his face deadly pale and haggard, and one limb swelled with the Fa-Fa to an incredible bigness. This was the first instance of a foreigner suffering from it that I had ever seen, or heard of; and the spectacle shocked me accordingly.

He had been there for years. From the first symptoms, he could not believe his complaint to be what it really was, and trusted it would soon disappear. But when it became plain that his only chance for recovery was a speedy change of climate, no ship would receive him as a sailor: to think of being taken as a passenger was idle. This speaks little for the humanity of sea captains; but the truth is that those in the Pacific have little enough of the virtue; and, nowadays, when so many charitable appeals are made to them, they have become callous.

I pitied the poor fellow from the bottom of my heart; but nothing could I do, as our captain was inexorable. “Why,” said he, “here we are–started on a six months’ cruise–I can’t put back; and he is better off on the island than at sea. So on Roorootoo he must die.” And probably he did.

I afterwards heard of this melancholy object, from two seamen. His attempts to leave were still unavailing, and his hard fate was fast closing in.

Notwithstanding the physical degeneracy of the Tahitians as a people, among the chiefs, individuals of personable figures are still frequently met with; and, occasionally, majestic-looking men, and diminutive women as lovely as the nymphs who, nearly a century ago, swam round the ships of Wallis. In these instances, Tahitian beauty is quite as seducing as it proved to the crew of the Bounty; the young girls being just such creatures as a poet would picture in the tropics–soft, plump, and dreamy-eyed.

The natural complexion of both sexes is quite light; but the males appear much darker, from their exposure to the sun. A dark complexion, however, in a man, is highly esteemed, as indicating strength of both body and soul. Hence there is a saying, of great antiquity among them,

“If dark the cheek of the mother, The son will sound the war-conch; If strong her frame, he will give laws.”

With this idea of manliness, no wonder the Tahitians regarded all pale and tepid-looking Europeans as weak and feminine; whereas, a sailor, with a cheek like the breast of a roast turkey, is held a lad of brawn: to use their own phrase, a “taata tona,” or man of bones.

Speaking of bones recalls an ugly custom of theirs, now obsolete–that of making fish-hooks and gimlets out of those of their enemies. This beats the Scandinavians turning people’s skulls into cups and saucers.

But to return to the Calabooza Beretanee. Immense was the interest we excited among the throngs that called there; they would stand talking about us by the hour, growing most unnecessarily excited too, and dancing up and down with all the vivacity of their race. They invariably sided with us; flying out against the consul, and denouncing him as “Ita maitai nuee,” or very bad exceedingly. They must have borne him some grudge or other.

Nor were the women, sweet souls, at all backward in visiting. Indeed, they manifested even more interest than the men; gazing at us with eyes full of a thousand meanings, and conversing with marvellous rapidity. But, alas! inquisitive though they were, and, doubtless, taking some passing compassion on us, there was little real feeling in them after all, and still less sentimental sympathy. Many of them laughed outright at us, noting only what was ridiculous in our plight.

I think it was the second day of our confinement that a wild, beautiful girl burst into the Calabooza, and, throwing herself into an arch attitude, stood afar off, and gazed at us. She was a heartless one:–tickled to death with Black Dan’s nursing his chafed ankle, and indulging in certain moral reflections on the consul and Captain Guy. After laughing her fill at him, she condescended to notice the rest; glancing from one to another in the most methodical and provoking manner imaginable. Whenever anything struck her comically, you saw it like a flash–her finger levelled instantaneously, and, flinging herself back, she gave loose to strange, hollow little notes of laughter, that sounded like the bass of a music-box, playing a lively air with the lid down.

Now, I knew not that there was anything in my own appearance calculated to disarm ridicule; and indeed, to have looked at all heroic, under the circumstances, would have been rather difficult. Still, I could not but feel exceedingly annoyed at the prospect of being screamed at, in turn, by this mischievous young witch, even though she were but an islander. And, to tell a secret, her beauty had something to do with this sort of feeling; and, pinioned as I was to a log, and clad most unbecomingly, I began to grow sentimental.

Ere her glance fell upon me, I had, unconsciously, thrown myself into the most graceful attitude I could assume, leaned my head upon my hand, and summoned up as abstracted an expression as possible. Though my face was averted, I soon felt it flush, and knew that the glance was on me; deeper and deeper grew the flush, and not a sound of laughter.

Delicious thought! she was moved at the sight of me. I could stand it no longer, but started up. Lo! there she was; her great hazel eyes rounding and rounding in her head, like two stars, her whole frame in a merry quiver, and an expression about the mouth that was sudden and violent death to anything like sentiment.

The next moment she spun round, and, bursting from peal to peal of laughter, went racing out of the Calabooza; and, in mercy to me, never returned.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

LIFE AT THE CALABOOZA

A FEW days passed; and, at last, our docility was rewarded by some indulgence on the part of Captain Bob.

He allowed the entire party to be at large during the day; only enjoining upon us always to keep within hail. This, to be sure, was in positive disobedience to Wilson’s orders; and so, care had to be taken that he should not hear of it. There was little fear of the natives telling him; but strangers travelling the Broom Road might. By way of precaution, boys were stationed as scouts along the road. At sight of a white man, they sounded the alarm! when we all made for our respective holes (the stocks being purposely left open): the beam then descended, and we were prisoners. As soon as the traveller was out of sight, of course, we were liberated.

Notwithstanding the regular supply of food which we obtained from Captain Bob and his friends, it was so small that we often felt most intolerably hungry. We could not blame them for not bringing us more, for we soon became aware that they had to pinch themselves in order to give us what they did; besides, they received nothing for their kindness but the daily bucket of bread.

Among a people like the Tahitians, what we call “hard times” can only be experienced in the scarcity of edibles; yet, so destitute are many of the common people that this most distressing consequence of civilization may be said, with them, to be ever present. To be sure, the natives about the Calabooza had abundance of limes and oranges; but what were these good for, except to impart a still keener edge to appetites which there was so little else to gratify? During the height of the bread-fruit season, they fare better; but, at other times, the demands of the shipping exhaust the uncultivated resources of the island; and the lands being mostly owned by the chiefs, the inferior orders have to suffer for their cupidity. Deprived of their nets, many of them would starve.

As Captain Bob insensibly remitted his watchfulness, and we began to stroll farther and farther from the Calabooza, we managed, by a systematic foraging upon the country round about, to make up some of our deficiencies. And fortunate it was that the houses of the wealthier natives were just as open to us as those of the most destitute; we were treated as kindly in one as the other.

Once in a while, we came in at the death of a chiefs pig; the noise of whose slaughtering was generally to be heard at a great distance. An occasion like this gathers the neighbours together, and they have a bit of a feast, where a stranger is always welcome. A good loud squeal, therefore, was music in our ears. It showed something going on in that direction.

Breaking in upon the party tumultuously, as we did, we always created a sensation. Sometimes, we found the animal still alive and struggling; in which case, it was generally dropped at our approach.

To provide for these emergencies, Flash Jack generally repaired to the scene of operations with a sheath-knife between his teeth, and a club in his hand. Others were exceedingly officious in singeing off the bristles, and disembowelling. Doctor Long Ghost and myself, however, never meddled with these preliminaries, but came to the feast itself with unimpaired energies.

Like all lank men, my long friend had an appetite of his own. Others occasionally went about seeking what they might devour, but he was always on the alert.

He had an ingenious way of obviating an inconvenience which we all experienced at times. The islanders seldom use salt with their food; so he begged Rope Yarn to bring him some from the ship; also a little pepper, if he could; which, accordingly, was done. This he placed in a small leather wallet–a “monkey bag” (so called by sailors) –usually worn as a purse about the neck.

“In my opinion,” said Long Ghost, as he tucked the wallet out of sight, “it behooves a stranger, in Tahiti, to have his knife in readiness, and his castor slung.”

CHAPTER XXXV.

VISIT FROM AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE

WE had not been many days ashore, when Doctor Johnson was espied coming along the Broom Road.

We had heard that he meditated a visit, and suspected what he was after. Being upon the consul’s hands, all our expenses were of course payable by him in his official capacity; and, therefore, as a friend of Wilson, and sure of good pay, the shore doctor had some idea of allowing us to run up a bill with him. True, it was rather awkward to ask us to take medicines which, on board the ship, he told us were not needed. However, he resolved to put a bold face on the matter, and give us a call.

His approach was announced by one of the scouts, upon which someone suggested that we should let him enter, and then put him in the stocks. But Long Ghost proposed better sport. What it was, we shall presently see.

Very bland and amiable, Doctor Johnson advanced, and, resting his cane on the stocks, glanced to right and left, as we lay before him. “Well, my lads”–he began–“how do you find yourselves to-day?”

Looking very demure, the men made some rejoinder; and he went on.

“Those poor fellows I saw the other day–the sick, I mean–how are they?” and he scrutinized the company. At last, he singled out one who was assuming a most unearthly appearance, and remarked that he looked as if he were extremely ill. “Yes,” said the sailor dolefully, “I’m afeard, doctor, I’ll soon be losing the number of my mess!” (a sea phrase, for departing this life) and he closed his eyes, and moaned.

“What does he say?” said Johnson, turning round eagerly.

“Why,” exclaimed Flash Jack, who volunteered as interpreter, “he means he’s going to croak” (die).

“Croak! and what does that mean, applied to a patient?”

“Oh! I understand,” said he, when the word was explained; and he stepped over the stocks, and felt the man’s pulse.

“What’s his name?” he asked, turning this time to old Navy Bob.

“We calls him Jingling Joe,” replied that worthy.

“Well then, men, you must take good care of poor Joseph; and I will send him a powder, which must be taken according to the directions. Some of you know how to read, I presume?”

“That ere young cove does,” replied Bob, pointing toward the place where I lay, as if he were directing attention to a sail at sea.

After examining the rest–some of whom were really invalids, but convalescent, and others only pretending to be labouring under divers maladies, Johnson turned round, and addressed the party.

“Men,” said he, “if any more of you are ailing, speak up, and let me know. By order of the consul, I’m to call every day; so if any of you are at all sick, it’s my duty to prescribe for you. This sudden change from ship fare to shore living plays the deuce with you sailors, so be cautious about eating fruit. Good-day! I’ll send you the medicines the first thing in the morning.”

Now, I am inclined to suspect that with all his want of understanding, Johnson must have had some idea that we were quizzing him. Still, that was nothing, so long as it answered his purpose; and therefore, if he did see through us, he never showed it.

Sure enough, at the time appointed, along came a native lad with a small basket of cocoa-nut stalks, filled with powders, pill-boxes, and-vials, each with names and directions written in a large, round hand. The sailors, one and all, made a snatch at the collection, under the strange impression that some of the vials were seasoned with spirits. But, asserting his privilege as physician to the first reading of the labels, Doctor Long Ghost was at last permitted to take possession of the basket.

The first thing lighted upon was a large vial, labelled–“For William –rub well in.”

This vial certainly had a spirituous smell; and upon handing it to the patient, he made a summary internal application of its contents. The doctor looked aghast.

There was now a mighty commotion. Powders and pills were voted mere drugs in the market, and the holders of vials were pronounced lucky dogs. Johnson must have known enough of sailors to make some of his medicines palatable–this, at least, Long Ghost suspected. Certain it was, everyone took to the vials; if at all spicy, directions were unheeded, their contents all going one road.

The largest one of all, quite a bottle indeed, and having a sort of burnt brandy odour, was labelled–“For Daniel, drink freely, and until relieved.” This Black Dan proceeded to do; and would have made an end of it at once, had not the bottle, after a hard struggle, been snatched from his hands, and passed round, like a jovial decanter. The old tar had complained of the effects of an immoderate eating of fruit.

Upon calling the following morning, our physician found his precious row of patients reclining behind the stocks, and doing “as well as could be expected.”

But the pills and powders were found to have been perfectly inactive: probably because none had been taken. To make them efficacious, it was suggested that, for the future, a bottle of Pisco should be sent along with them. According to Flash Jack’s notions, unmitigated medical compounds were but dry stuff at the best, and needed something good to wash them down.

Thus far, our own M.D., Doctor Long Ghost, after starting the frolic, had taken no further part in it; but on the physician’s third visit, he took him to one side, and had a private confabulation. What it was, exactly, we could not tell; but from certain illustrative signs and gestures, I fancied that he was describing the symptoms of some mysterious disorganization of the vitals, which must have come on within the hour. Assisted by his familiarity with medical terms, he seemed to produce a marked impression. At last, Johnson went his way, promising aloud that he would send Long Ghost what he desired.

When the medicine boy came along the following morning, the doctor was the first to accost him, walking off with a small purple vial. This time, there was little else in the basket but a case-bottle of the burnt brandy cordial, which, after much debate, was finally disposed of by someone pouring the contents, little by little, into the half of a cocoa-nut shell, and so giving all who desired a glass. No further medicinal cheer remaining, the men dispersed.

An hour or two passed, when Flash Jack directed attention to my long friend, who, since the medicine boy left, had not been noticed till now. With eyes closed, he was lying behind the stocks, and Jack was lifting his arm and letting it fall as if life were extinct. On running up with the rest, I at once connected the phenomenon with the mysterious vial. Searching his pocket, I found it, and holding it up, it proved to be laudanum. Flash Jack, snatching it from my hand in a rapture, quickly informed all present what it was; and with much glee, proposed a nap for the company. Some of them not comprehending him exactly, the apparently defunct Long Ghost–who lay so still that I a little suspected the genuineness of his sleep–was rolled about as an illustration of the virtues of the vial’s contents. The idea tickled everybody mightily; and throwing themselves down, the magic draught was passed from hand to hand. Thinking that, as a matter of course, they must at once become insensible, each man, upon taking his sip, fell back, and closed his eyes.

There was little fear of the result, since the narcotic was equally distributed. But, curious to see how it would operate, I raised myself gently after a while, and looked around. It was about noon, and perfectly still; and as we all daily took the siesta, I was not much surprised to find everyone quiet. Still, in one or two instances, I thought I detected a little peeping.

Presently, I heard a footstep, and saw Doctor Johnson approaching.

And perplexed enough did he look at the sight of his prostrate file of patients, plunged, apparently, in such unaccountable slumbers.

“Daniel,” he cried, at last, punching in the side with his cane the individual thus designated–“Daniel, my good fellow, get up! do you hear?”

But Black Dan was immovable; and he poked the next sleeper.

“Joseph, Joseph! come, wake up! it’s me, Doctor Johnson.”

But Jingling Joe, with mouth open, and eyes shut, was not to be started.

“Bless my soul!” he exclaimed, with uplifted hands and cane, “what’s got into ’em? I say, men”–he shouted, running up and down–“come to life, men! what under the sun’s the matter with you?” and he struck the stocks, and bawled with increased vigour.

At last he paused, folded his hands over the head of his cane, and steadfastly gazed upon us. The notes of the nasal orchestra were rising and falling upon his ear, and a new idea suggested itself.

“Yes, yes; the rascals must have been getting boozy. Well, it’s none of my business–I’ll be off;” and off he went.

No sooner was he out of sight, than nearly all started to their feet, and a hearty laugh ensued.

Like myself, most of them had been watching the event from under a sly eyelid. By this time, too, Doctor Long Ghost was as wide awake as anybody. What were his reasons for taking laudanum,–if, indeed, he took any whatever,–is best known to himself; and, as it is neither mine nor the reader’s business, we will say no more about it.

CHAPTER XXXVI.

WE ARE CARRIED BEFORE THE CONSUL AND CAPTAIN

WE HAD been inmates of the Calabooza Beretanee about two weeks, when, one morning, Captain Bob, coming from the bath, in a state of utter nudity, brought into the building an armful of old tappa, and began to dress to go out.

The operation was quite simple. The tappa–of the coarsest kind–was in one long, heavy piece; and, fastening one end to a column of Habiscus wood supporting the Calabooza, he went off a few paces, and putting the other about his waist, wound himself right up to the post. This unique costume, in rotundity something like a farthingale, added immensely to his large hulk; so much so that he fairly waddled in his gait. But he was only adhering to the fashion of his fathers; for, in the olden time, the “Kihee,” or big girdle, was quite the mode for both sexes. Bob, despising recent innovations, still clung to it. He was a gentleman of the old school–one of the last of the Kihees.

He now told us that he had orders to take us before the consul. Nothing loth, we formed in procession; and, with the old man at our head, sighing and labouring like an engine, and flanked by a guard of some twenty natives, we started for the village.

Arrived at the consular office, we found Wilson there, and four or five Europeans, seated in a row facing us; probably with the view of presenting as judicial an appearance as possible.

On one side was a couch, where Captain Guy reclined. He looked convalescent; and, as we found out, intended soon to go aboard his ship. He said nothing, but left everything to the consul.

The latter now rose, and, drawing forth a paper from a large roll tied with red tape, commenced reading aloud.

It purported to be, “the affidavit of John Jennin, first officer of the British Colonial Barque Julia; Guy, Master;” and proved to be a long statement of matters, from the time of leaving Sydney, down to our arrival in the harbour. Though artfully drawn up so as to bear hard against every one of us, it was pretty correct in the de-. tails; excepting that it was wholly silent as to the manifold derelictions of the mate himself–a fact which imparted unusual significance to the concluding sentence, “And furthermore, this deponent sayeth not.”

No comments were made, although we all looked round for the mate to see whether it was possible that he could have authorized this use of his name. But he was not present.

The next document produced was the deposition of the captain himself. As on all other occasions, however, he had very little to say for himself, and it was soon set aside.

The third affidavit was that of the seamen remaining aboard the vessel, including the traitor Bungs, who, it seemed, had turned ship’s evidence. It was an atrocious piece of exaggeration, from beginning to end; and those who signed it could not have known what they were about. Certainly Wymontoo did not, though his mark was there. In vain the consul commanded silence during the reading of this paper; comments were shouted out upon every paragraph.

The affidavits read, Wilson, who, all the while, looked as stiff as a poker, solemnly drew forth the ship’s articles from their tin case. This document was a discoloured, musty, bilious-looking affair, and hard to read. When finished, the consul held it up; and, pointing to the marks of the ship’s company, at the bottom, asked us, one by one, whether we acknowledged the same for our own.

“What’s the use of asking that?” said Black Dan; “Captain Guy there knows as well as we they are.”

“Silence, sir!” said Wilson, who, intending to produce a suitable impression by this ridiculous parade, was not a little mortified by the old sailor’s bluntness.

A pause of a few moments now ensued; during which the bench of judges communed with Captain Guy, in a low tone, and the sailors canvassed the motives of the consul in having the affidavits taken.

The general idea seemed to be that it was done with a view of “bouncing,” or frightening us into submission. Such proved to be the case; for Wilson, rising to his feet again, addressed us as follows:–

“You see, men, that every preparation has been made to send you to Sydney for trial. The Rosa (a small Australian schooner, lying in the harbour) will sail for that place in the course of ten days, at farthest. The Julia sails on a cruise this day week. Do you still refuse duty?”

We did.

Hereupon the consul and captain exchanged glances; and the latter looked bitterly disappointed.

Presently I noticed Guy’s eye upon me; and, for the first time, he spoke, and told me to come near. I stepped forward.

“Was it not you that was taken off the island?”

“It was.”

“It was you then who owe your life to my humanity. Yet this is the gratitude of a sailor, Mr. Wilson!”

“Not so, sir.” And I at once gave him to understand that I was perfectly acquainted with his motives in sending a boat into the bay; his crew was reduced, and he merely wished to procure the sailor whom he expected to find there. The ship was the means of my deliverance, and no thanks to the benevolence of its captain.

Doctor Long Ghost also had a word to say. In two masterly sentences he summed up Captain Guy’s character, to the complete satisfaction of every seaman present.

Matters were now growing serious; especially as the sailors became riotous, and talked about taking the consul and the captain back to the Calabooza with them.

The other judges fidgeted, and loudly commanded silence. It was at length restored; when Wilson, for the last time addressing us, said something more about the Rose and Sydney, and concluded by reminding us that a week would elapse ere the Julia sailed.

Leaving these hints to operate for themselves, he dismissed the party, ordering Captain Bob and his friends to escort us back whence we came.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE FRENCH PRIESTS PAY THEIR RESPECTS

A DAY or two after the events just related, we were lounging in the Calabooza Beretanee, when we were honoured by a visit from three of the French Priests; and as about the only notice ever taken of us by the English missionaries was their leaving their cards for us, in the shape of a package of tracts, we could not help thinking that the Frenchmen, in making a personal call, were at least much better bred.

By this time they had settled themselves down quite near our habitation. A pleasant little stroll down the Broom Road, and a rustic cross peeped through the trees; and soon you came to as charming a place as one would wish to see: a soft knoll, planted with old breadfruit trees; in front, a savannah, sloping to a grove of palms, and, between these, glimpses of blue, sunny waves.

On the summit of the knoll was a rude chapel, of bamboos; quite small, and surmounted by the cross. Between the canes, at nightfall, the natives stole peeps at a small portable altar; a crucifix to correspond, and gilded candlesticks and censers. Their curiosity carried them no further; nothing could induce them to worship there. Such queer ideas as they entertained of the hated strangers. Masses and chants were nothing more than evil spells. As for the priests themselves, they were no better than diabolical sorcerers; like those who, in old times, terrified their fathers.

Close by the chapel was a range of native houses; rented from a chief, and handsomely furnished. Here lived the priests; and very comfortably, too. They looked sanctimonious enough abroad; but that went for nothing; since, at home, in their retreat, they were a club of Friar Tucks; holding priestly wassail over many a good cup of red brandy, and rising late in the morning.

Pity it was they couldn’t marry–pity for the ladies of the island, I mean, and the cause of morality; for what business had the ecclesiastical old bachelors with such a set of trim little native handmaidens? These damsels were their first converts; and devoted ones they were.

The priests, as I have said before, were accounted necromancers: the appearance of two of our three visitors might have justified the conceit.

They were little, dried-up Frenchmen, in long, straight gowns of black cloth, and unsightly three-cornered hats–so preposterously big that, in putting them on, the reverend fathers seemed to extinguish themselves.

Their companion was dressed differently. He wore a sort of yellow, flannel morning gown, and a broad-brimmed Manilla hat. Large and portly, he was also hale and fifty; with a complexion like an autumnal leaf–handsome blue eyes–fine teeth, and a racy Milesian brogue. In short, he was an Irishman; Father Murphy, by name; and, as such, pretty well known, and very thoroughly disliked, throughout all the Protestant missionary settlements in Polynesia. In early youth, he had been sent to a religious seminary in France; and, taking orders there, had but once or twice afterwards revisited his native land.

Father Murphy marched up to us briskly; and the first words he uttered were, to ask whether there were any of his countrymen among us. There were two of them; one, a lad of sixteen–a bright, curly-headed rascal–and, being a young Irishman, of course, his name was Pat. The other was an ugly, and rather melancholy-looking scamp; one M’Gee, whose prospects in life had been blasted by a premature transportation to Sydney. This was the report, at least, though it might have been scandal.

In most of my shipmates were some redeeming qualities; but about M’Gee, there was nothing of the kind; and forced to consort with him, I could not help regretting, a thousand times, that the gallows had been so tardy. As if impelled, against her will, to send him into the world, Nature had done all she could to insure his being taken for what he was. About the eyes there was no mistaking him; with a villainous cast in one, they seemed suspicious of each other.

Glancing away from him at once, the bluff priest rested his gaze on the good-humoured face of Pat, who, with a pleasant roguishness, was “twigging” the enormous hats (or “Hytee Belteezers,” as land beavers are called by sailors), from under which, like a couple of snails, peeped the two little Frenchmen.

Pat and the priest were both from the same town in Meath; and, when this was found out, there was no end to the questions of the latter. To him, Pat seemed a letter from home, and said a hundred times as much.

After a long talk between these two, and a little broken English from the Frenchmen, our visitors took leave; but Father Murphy had hardly gone a dozen rods when back he came, inquiring whether we were in want of anything.

“Yes,” cried one, “something to eat.” Upon this he promised to send us some fresh wheat bread, of his own baking; a great luxury in Tahiti.

We all felicitated Pat upon picking up such a friend, and told him his fortune was made.

The next morning, a French servant of the priest’s made his appearance with a small bundle of clothing for our young Hibernian; and the promised bread for the party. Pat being out at the knees and elbows, and, like the rest of us, not full inside, the present was acceptable all round.

In the afternoon, Father Murphy himself came along; and, in addition to his previous gifts, gave Pat a good deal of advice: said he was sorry to see him in limbo, and that he would have a talk with the consul about having him set free.

We saw nothing more of him for two or three days; at the end of which time he paid us another call, telling Pat that Wilson was inexorable, having refused to set him at liberty, unless to go aboard the ship. This, the priest now besought him to do forthwith; and so escape the punishment which, it seems, Wilson had been hinting at to his intercessor. Pat, however, was staunch against entreaties; and, with all the ardour of a sophomorean sailor, protested his intention to hold out to the last. With none of the meekness of a good little boy about him, the blunt youngster stormed away at such a rate that it was hard to pacify him; and the priest said no more.

How it came to pass–whether from Murphy’s speaking to the consul, or otherwise, we could not tell–but the next day, Pat was sent for by Wilson, and being escorted to the village by our good old keeper, three days elapsed before he returned.

Bent upon reclaiming him, they had taken him on board the ship; feasted him in the cabin; and, finding that of no avail, down they thrust him into the hold, in double irons, and on bread and water. All would not do; and so he was sent back to the Calabooza. Boy that he was, they must have counted upon his being more susceptible to discipline than the rest.

The interest felt in Pat’s welfare, by his benevolent countryman, was very serviceable to the rest of us; especially as we all turned Catholics, and went to mass every morning, much to Captain Bob’s consternation. Upon finding it out, he threatened to keep us in the stocks if we did not desist. He went no farther than this, though; and so, every few days, we strolled down to the priest’s residence, and had a mouthful to eat, and something generous to drink. In particular, Dr. Long Ghost and myself became huge favourites with Pat’s friend; and many a time he regaled us from a quaint-looking travelling case for spirits, stowed away in one corner of his dwelling. It held four square flasks, which, somehow or other, always contained just enough to need emptying. In truth, the fine old Irishman was a rosy fellow in canonicals. His countenance and his soul were always in a glow. It may be ungenerous to reveal his failings, but he often talked thick, and sometimes was perceptibly eccentric in his gait.

I never drink French brandy but I pledge Father Murphy. His health again! And many jolly proselytes may he make in Polynesia!

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

LITTLE JULIA SAILS WITHOUT US

TO MAKE good the hint thrown out by the consul upon the conclusion of the Farce of the Affidavits, we were again brought before him within the time specified.

It was the same thing over again: he got nothing out of us, and we were remanded; our resolute behaviour annoying him prodigiously.

What we observed led us to form the idea that, on first learning the state of affairs on board the Julia, Wilson must have addressed his invalid friend, the captain, something in the following style:

“Guy, my poor fellow, don’t worry yourself now about those rascally sailors of yours. I’ll dress them out for you–just leave it all to me, and set your mind at rest.”

But handcuffs and stocks, big looks, threats, dark hints, and depositions, had all gone for nought.

Conscious that, as matters now stood, nothing serious could grow out of what had happened; and never dreaming that our being sent home for trial had ever been really thought of, we thoroughly understood Wilson, and laughed at him accordingly.

Since leaving the Julia, we had caught no glimpse of the mate; but we often heard of him.

It seemed that he remained on board, keeping house in the cabin for himself and Viner; who, going to see him according to promise, was induced to remain a guest. These two cronies now had fine times; tapping the captain’s quarter-casks, playing cards on the transom, and giving balls of an evening to the ladies ashore. In short, they cut up so many queer capers that the missionaries complained of them to the consul; and Jermin received a sharp reprimand.

This so affected him that he still drank more freely than before; and one afternoon, when mellow as a grape, he took umbrage at a canoe full of natives, who, on being hailed from the deck to come aboard and show their papers, got frightened, and paddled for the shore.

Lowering a boat instantly, he equipped Wymontoo and the Dane with a cutlass apiece, and seizing another himself, off they started in pursuit, the ship’s ensign flying in the boat’s stern. The alarmed islanders, beaching their canoe, with loud cries fled through the village, the mate after them, slashing his naked weapon to right and left. A crowd soon collected; and the “Karhowree toonee,” or crazy stranger, was quickly taken before Wilson.

Now, it so chanced that, in a native house hard by, the consul and Captain Guy were having a quiet game at cribbage by themselves, a decanter on the table standing sentry. The obstreperous Jermin was brought in; and finding the two thus pleasantly occupied, it had a soothing effect upon him; and he insisted upon taking a hand at the cards, and a drink of the brandy. As the consul was nearly as tipsy as himself, and the captain dared not object for fear of giving offence, at it they went–all three of them–and made a night of it; the mate’s delinquencies being summarily passed over, and his captors sent away.

An incident worth relating grew out of this freak.

There wandered about Papeetee, at this time, a shrivelled little fright of an Englishwoman, known among sailors as “Old Mother Tot.” From New Zealand to the Sandwich Islands, she had been all over the South Seas; keeping a rude hut of entertainment for mariners, and supplying them with rum and dice. Upon the missionary islands, of course, such conduct was severely punishable; and at various places, Mother Tot’s establishment had been shut up, and its proprietor made to quit in the first vessel that could be hired to land her elsewhere. But, with a perseverance invincible, wherever she went she always started afresh; and so became notorious everywhere.

By some wicked spell of hers, a patient, one-eyed little cobbler followed her about, mending shoes for white men, doing the old woman’s cooking, and bearing all her abuse without grumbling. Strange to relate, a battered Bible was seldom out of his sight; and whenever he had leisure, and his mistress’ back was turned, he was forever poring over it. This pious propensity used to enrage the old crone past belief; and oftentimes she boxed his ears with the book, and tried to burn it. Mother Tot and her man Josy were, indeed, a curious pair.

But to my story.

A week or so after our arrival in the harbour, the old lady had once again been hunted down, and forced for the time to abandon her nefarious calling. This was brought about chiefly by Wilson, who, for some reason unknown, had contracted the most violent hatred for her; which, on her part, was more than reciprocated.

Well: passing, in the evening, where the consul and his party were making merry, she peeped through the bamboos of the house; and straightway resolved to gratify her spite.

The night was very dark; and providing herself with a huge ship’s lantern, which usually swung in her hut, she waited till they came forth. This happened about midnight; Wilson making his appearance, supported by two natives, holding him up by the arms. These three went first; and just as they got under a deep shade, a bright light was thrust within an inch of Wilson’s nose. The old hag was kneeling before him, holding the lantern with uplifted hands.

“Ha, ha! my fine counsellor,” she shrieked; “ye persecute a lone old body like me for selling rum–do ye? And here ye are, carried home drunk–Hoot! ye villain, I scorn ye!” And she spat upon him.

Terrified at the apparition, the poor natives–arrant believers in ghosts–dropped the trembling consul, and fled in all directions. After giving full vent to her rage, Mother Tot hobbled away, and left the three revellers to stagger home the best way they could.

The day following our last interview with Wilson, we learned that Captain Guy had gone on board his vessel for the purpose of shipping a new crew. There was a round bounty offered; and a heavy bag of Spanish dollars, with the Julia’s articles ready for signing, were laid on the capstan-head.

Now, there was no lack of idle sailors ashore, mostly “Beachcombers,” who had formed themselves into an organized gang, headed by one Mack, a Scotchman, whom they styled the Commodore. By the laws of the fraternity, no member was allowed to ship on board a vessel unless granted permission by the rest. In this way the gang controlled the port, all discharged seamen being forced to join them.

To Mack and his men our story was well known; indeed, they had several times called to see us; and of course, as sailors and congenial spirits, they were hard against Captain Guy.

Deeming the matter important, they came in a body to the Calabooza, and wished to know whether, all things considered, we thought it best for any of them to join the Julia.

Anxious to pack the ship off as soon as possible, we answered, by all means. Some went so far as to laud the Julia to the skies as the best and fastest of ships. Jermin too, as a good fellow, and a sailor every inch, came in for his share of praise; and as for the captain–quiet man, he would never trouble anyone. In short, every inducement we could think of was presented; and Plash Jack ended by assuring the beachcombers solemnly that, now we were all well and hearty, nothing but a regard to principle prevented us from returning on board ourselves.

The result was that a new crew was finally obtained, together with a steady New Englander for second mate, and three good whalemen for harpooners. In part, what was wanting for the ship’s larder was also supplied; and as far as could be done in a place like Tahiti, the damages the vessel had sustained were repaired. As for the Mowree, the authorities refusing to let him be put ashore, he was carried to sea in irons, down in the hold. What eventually became of him we never heard.

Ropey, poor poor Ropey, who a few days previous had fallen sick, was left ashore at the sailor hospital at Townor, a small place upon the beach between Papeetee and Matavai. Here, some time after, he breathed his last. No one knew his complaint: he must have died of hard times. Several of us saw him interred in the sand, and I planted a rude post to mark his resting-place.

The cooper, and the rest who had remained aboard from the first, of course, composed part of the Julia’s new crew.

To account for the conduct, all along, of the consul and captain, in trying so hard to alter our purpose with respect to the ship, the following statement is all that is requisite. Beside an advance of from fifteen to twenty-five dollars demanded by every sailor shipping at Tahiti, an additional sum for each man so shipped has to be paid into the hands of the government, as a charge of the port. Beside this, the men–with here and there an exception–will only ship for one cruise, thus becoming entitled to a discharge before the vessel reaches home; which, in time, creates the necessity of obtaining other men, at a similar cost. Now, the Julia’s exchequer was at low-water mark, or rather, it was quite empty; and to meet these expenses, a good part of what little oil there was aboard had to be sold for a song to a merchant of Papeetee.

It was Sunday in Tahiti and a glorious morning, when Captain Bob, waddling into the Calabooza, startled us by announcing “Ah–my boy–shippy you, harre–maky sail!” In other words, the Julia was off.

The beach was quite near, and in this quarter altogether uninhabited; so down we ran, and, at cable’s length, saw little Jule gliding past–top-gallant-sails hoisting, and a boy aloft with one leg thrown over the yard, loosing the fore-royal. The decks were all life and commotion; the sailors on the forecastle singing “Ho, cheerly men!” as they catted the anchor; and the gallant Jennin, bare-headed as his wont, standing up on the bowsprit, and issuing his orders. By the man at the helm stood Captain Guy, very quiet and gentlemanly, and smoking a cigar.

Soon the ship drew near the reef, and, altering her course, glided out through the break, and went on her way.

Thus disappeared little Jule, about three weeks after entering the harbour: and nothing more have I ever heard of her.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

JERMIN SERVES US A GOOD TURN–FRIENDSHIPS IN POLYNESIA

THE ship out of the way, we were quite anxious to know what was going to be done with us. On this head, Captain Bob could tell us nothing; no further, at least, than that he still considered himself responsible for our safe-keeping. However, he never put us to bed any more; and we had everything our own way.

The day after the Julia left, the old man came up to us in great tribulation, saying that the bucket of bread was no longer forthcoming, and that Wilson had refused to send anything in its place. One and all, we took this for a hint to disperse quietly, and go about our business. Nevertheless, we were not to be shaken off so easily; and taking a malicious pleasure in annoying our old enemy, we resolved, for the present, to stay where we were. For the part he had been acting, we learned that the consul was the laughing-stock of all the foreigners ashore, who frequently twitted him upon his hopeful proteges of the Calabooza Beretanee.

As we were wholly without resources, so long as we remained on the island no better place than Captain Bob’s could be selected for an abiding-place. Beside, we heartily loved the old gentleman, and could not think of leaving him; so, telling him to give no thought as to wherewithal we should be clothed and fed, we resolved, by extending and systematizing our foraging operations, to provide for ourselves.

We were greatly assisted by a parting legacy of Jermin’s. To him we were indebted for having all our chests sent ashore, and everything left therein. They were placed in the custody of a petty chief living near by, who was instructed by the consul not to allow them to be taken away; but we might call and make our toilets whenever we pleased.

We went to see Mahinee, the old chief; Captain Bob going along, and stoutly insisting upon having the chattels delivered up. At last this was done; and in solemn procession the chests were borne by the natives to the Calabooza. Here, we disposed them about quite tastefully; and made such a figure that, in the eyes of old Bob and his friends, the Calabooza Beretanee was by far the most sumptuously furnished saloon in Tahiti.

Indeed, so long as it remained thus furnished, the native courts of the district were held there; the judge, Mahinee, and his associates, sitting upon one of the chests, and the culprits and spectators thrown at full length upon the ground, both inside of the building and under the shade of the trees without; while, leaning over the stocks as from a gallery, the worshipful crew of the Julia looked on, and canvassed the proceedings.

I should have mentioned before that, previous to the vessel’s departure, the men had bartered away all the clothing they could possibly spare; but now, it was resolved to be more provident.

The contents of the chests were of the most miscellaneous description:–sewing utensils, marling-spikes, strips of calico, bits of rope, jack-knives; nearly everything, in short, that a seaman could think of. But of wearing apparel, there was little but old frocks, remnants of jackets, and legs of trousers, with now and then the foot of a stocking.

These, however, were far from being valueless; for, among the poorer Tahitians, everything European is highly esteemed. They come from “Beretanee, Fenooa Pararee” (Britain, Land of Wonders), and that is enough.

The chests themselves were deemed exceedingly precious, especially those with unfractured looks, which would absolutely click, and enable the owner to walk off with the key. Scars, however, and bruises, were considered great blemishes. One old fellow, smitten with the doctor’s large mahogany chest (a well-filled one, by the bye), and finding infinite satisfaction in merely sitting thereon, was detected in the act of applying a healing ointment to a shocking scratch which impaired the beauty of the lid.

There is no telling the love of a Tahitian for a sailor’s trunk. So ornamental is it held as an article of furniture in the hut, that the women are incessantly tormenting their husbands to bestir themselves and make them a present of one. When obtained, no pier-table just placed in a drawing-room is regarded with half the delight. For these reasons, then, our coming into possession of our estate at this time was an important event.

The islanders are much like the rest of the world; and the news of our good fortune brought us troops of “tayos,” or friends, eager to form an alliance after the national custom, and do our slightest bidding.

The really curious way in which all the Polynesians are in the habit of making bosom friends at the shortest possible notice is deserving of remark. Although, among a people like the Tahitians, vitiated as they are by sophisticating influences, this custom has in most cases degenerated into a mere mercenary relation, it nevertheless had its origin in a fine, and in some instances, heroic sentiment, formerly entertained by their fathers.

In the annals of the island are examples of extravagant friendships, unsurpassed by the story of Damon and Pythias: in truth, much more wonderful; for, notwithstanding the devotion–even of life in some cases–to which they led, they were frequently entertained at first sight for some stranger from another island.

Filled with love and admiration for the first whites who came among them, the Polynesians could not testify the warmth of their emotions more strongly than by instantaneously making their abrupt proffer of friendship. Hence, in old voyages we read of chiefs coming off from the shore in their canoes, and going through with strange antics, expressive of the desire. In the same way, their inferiors accosted the seamen; and thus the practice has continued in some islands down to the present day.

There is a small place, not many days’ sail from Tahiti, and seldom visited by shipping, where the vessel touched to which I then happened to belong.

Of course, among the simple-hearted natives, We had a friend all round. Mine was Poky, a handsome youth, who never could do enough for me. Every morning at sunrise, his canoe came alongside loaded with fruits of all kinds; upon being emptied, it was secured by a line to the bowsprit, under which it lay all day long, ready at any time to carry its owner ashore on an errand.

Seeing him so indefatigable, I told Poky one day that I was a virtuoso in shells and curiosities of all kinds. That was enough; away he paddled for the head of the bay, and I never saw him again for twenty-four hours. The next morning, his canoe came gliding slowly along the shore with the full-leaved bough of a tree for a sail. For the purpose of keeping the things dry, he had also built a sort of platform just behind the prow, railed in with green wicker-work; and here was a heap of yellow bananas and cowree shells; young cocoa-nuts and antlers of red coral; two or three pieces of carved wood; a little pocket-idol, black as jet, and rolls of printed tappa.

We were given a holiday; and upon going ashore, Poky, of course, was my companion and guide. For this, no mortal could be better qualified; his native country was not large, and he knew every inch of it. Gallanting me about, everyone was stopped and ceremoniously introduced to Poty’s “tayo karhowree nuee” or his particular white friend.

He showed me all the lions; but more than all, he took me to see a charming lioness–a young damsel–the daughter of a chief–the reputation of whose charms had spread to the neighbouring islands, and even brought suitors therefrom. Among these was Tooboi, the heir of Tamatory, King of Eaiatair, one of the Society Isles. The girl was certainly fair to look upon. Many heavens were in her sunny eyes; and the outline of that arm of hers, peeping forth from a capricious tappa robe, was the very curve of beauty.

Though there was no end to Poky’s attentions, not a syllable did he ever breathe of reward; but sometimes he looked very knowing. At last the day came for sailing, and with it, also, his canoe, loaded down to the gunwale with a sea stock of fruits. Giving him all I could spare from my chest, I went on deck to take my place at the windlass; for the anchor was weighing. Poky followed, and heaved with me at the same handspike.

The anchor was soon up; and away we went out of the bay with more than twenty shallops towing astern. At last they left us; but long as I could see him at all, there was Poky, standing alone and motionless in the bow of his canoe.

PART II

CHAPTER XL.

WE TAKE UNTO OURSELVES FRIENDS

THE arrival of the chests made my friend, the doctor, by far the wealthiest man of the party. So much the better for me, seeing that I had little or nothing myself; though, from our intimacy, the natives courted my favour almost as much as his.

Among others, Kooloo was a candidate for my friendship; and being a comely youth, quite a buck in his way, I accepted his overtures. By this, I escaped the importunities of the rest; for be it known that, though little inclined to jealousy in love matters, the Tahitian will hear of no rivals in his friendship.

Kooloo, running over his qualifications as a friend, first of all informed me that he was a “Mickonaree,” thus declaring his communion with the church.

The way this “tayo” of mine expressed his regard was by assuring me over and over again that the love he bore me was “nuee, nuee, nuee,” or infinitesimally extensive. All over these seas, the word “nuee” is significant of quantity. Its repetition is like placing ciphers at the right hand of a numeral; the more places you carry it out to, the greater the sum. Judge, then, of Kooloo’s esteem. Nor is the allusion to the ciphers at all inappropriate, seeing that, in themselves, Kooloo’s profession turned out to be worthless. He was, alas! as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; one of those who make no music unless the clapper be silver.

In the course of a few days, the sailors, like the doctor and myself, were cajoled out of everything, and our “tayos,” all round, began to cool off quite sensibly. So remiss did they become in their attentions that we could no longer rely upon their bringing us the daily supply of food, which all of them had faithfully promised.

As for Kooloo, after sponging me well, he one morning played the part of a retrograde lover; informing me that his affections had undergone a change; he had fallen in love at first sight with a smart sailor, who had just stepped ashore quite flush from a lucky whaling-cruise.

It was a touching interview, and with it, our connection dissolved. But the sadness which ensued would soon have been dissipated, had not my sensibilities been wounded by his indelicately sporting some of my gifts very soon after this transfer of his affections. Hardly a day passed that I did not meet him on the Broom Road, airing himself in a regatta shirt which I had given him in happier hours.

He went by with such an easy saunter too, looking me pleasantly in the eye, and merely exchanging the cold salute of the road:–“Yar onor, boyoee,” a mere sidewalk how d’ye do. After several experiences like this, I began to entertain a sort of respect for Kooloo, as quite a man of the world. In good sooth, he turned out to be one; in one week’s time giving me the cut direct, and lounging by without even nodding. He must have taken me for part of the landscape.

Before the chests were quite empty, we had a grand washing in the stream of our best raiment, for the purpose of looking tidy, and visiting the European chapel in the village. Every Sunday morning it is open for divine service, some member of the mission officiating. This was the first time we ever entered Papeetee unattended by an escort.

In the chapel there were about forty people present, including the officers of several ships in harbour. It was an energetic discourse, and the pulpit cushion was well pounded. Occupying a high seat in the synagogue, and stiff as a flagstaff, was our beloved guardian, Wilson. I shall never forget his look of wonder when his interesting wards filed in at the doorway, and took up a seat directly facing him.

Service over, we waited outside in hopes of seeing more of him; but sorely annoyed at the sight of us, he reconnoitred from the window, and never came forth until we had started for home.

CHAPTER XLI.

WE LEVY CONTRIBUTIONS ON THE SHIPPING

SCARCELY a week went by after the Julia’s sailing, when, with the proverbial restlessness of sailors, some of the men began to grow weary of the Calabooza Beretanee, and resolved to go boldly among the vessels in the bay, and offer to ship.

The thing was tried; but though strongly recommended by the commodore of the beachcombers, in the end they were invariably told by the captains to whom they applied that they bore an equivocal character ashore, and would not answer. So often were they repulsed that we pretty nearly gave up all thoughts of leaving the island in this way; and growing domestic again, settled down quietly at Captain Bob’s.

It was about this time that the whaling-ships, which have their regular seasons for cruising, began to arrive at Papeetee; and of course their crews frequently visited us. This is customary all over the Pacific. No sailor steps ashore, but he straightway goes to the “Calabooza,” where he is almost sure to find some poor fellow or other in confinement for desertion, or alleged mutiny, or something of that sort. Sympathy is proffered, and if need be, tobacco. The latter, however, is most in request; as a solace to the captive, it is invaluable.

Having fairly carried the day against both consul and captain, we were objects of even more than ordinary interest to these philanthropists; and they always cordially applauded our conduct. Besides, they invariably brought along something in the way of refreshments; occasionally smuggling in a little Pisco. Upon one occasion, when there was quite a number present, a calabash was passed round, and a pecuniary collection taken up for our benefit.

One day a newcomer proposed that two or three of us should pay him a sly, nocturnal visit aboard his ship; engaging to send us away well freighted with provisions. This was not a bad idea; nor were we at all backward in acting upon it. Right after night every vessel in the harbour was visited in rotation, the foragers borrowing Captain Bob’s canoe for the purpose. As we all took turns at this–two by two –in due course it came to Long Ghost and myself, for the sailors invariably linked us together. In such an enterprise, I somewhat distrusted the doctor, for he was no sailor, and very tall; and a canoe is the most ticklish of navigable things. However, it could not be helped; and so we went.

But a word about the canoes before we go any further. Among the Society Islands, the art of building them, like all native accomplishments, has greatly deteriorated; and they are now the most inelegant, as well as the most insecure of any in the South Seas. In Cook’s time, according to his account, there was at Tahiti a royal fleet of seventeen hundred and twenty large war canoes, handsomely carved, and otherwise adorned. At present, those used are quite small; nothing more than logs hollowed out, sharpened at one end, and then launched into the water.

To obviate a certain rolling propensity, the Tahitians, like all Polynesians, attach to them what sailors call an “outrigger.” It consists of a pole floating alongside, parrallel to the canoe, and connected with it by a couple of cross sticks, a yard or more in length. Thus equipped, the canoe cannot be overturned, unless you overcome the buoyancy of the pole, or lift it entirely out of the water.

Now, Captain Bob’s “gig” was exceedingly small; so small, and of such a grotesque shape, that the sailors christened it the Pill Box; and by this appellation it always went. In fact, it was a sort of “sulky,” meant for a solitary paddler, but, on an emergency, capable of floating two or three. The outrigger was a mere switch, alternately rising in air, and then depressed in the water.

Assuming the command of the expedition, upon the strength of my being a sailor, I packed the Long Doctor with a paddle in the bow, and then shoving off, leaped into the stern; thus leaving him to do all the work, and reserving to myself the dignified sinecure of steering. All would have gone on well, were it not that my paddler made such clumsy work that the water spattered, and showered down upon us without ceasing. Continuing to ply his tool, however, quite energetically, I thought he would improve after a while, and so let him alone. But by and bye, getting wet through with this little storm we were raising, and seeing no signs of its clearing off, I conjured him, in mercy’s name, to stop short, and let me wring myself out. Upon this, he suddenly turned round, when the canoe gave a roll, the outrigger flew overhead, and the next moment came rap on the doctor’s skull, and we were both in the water.

Fortunately, we were just over a ledge of coral, not half-a-fathom under the surface. Depressing one end of the filled canoe, and letting go of it quickly, it bounced up, and discharged a great part of its contents; so that we easily baled out the remainder, and again embarked. This time, my comrade coiled himself away in a very small space; and enjoining upon him not to draw a single unnecessary breath, I proceeded to urge the canoe along by myself. I was astonished at his docility, never speaking a word, and stirring neither hand nor foot; but the secret was, he was unable to swim, and in case we met with a second mishap, there were no more ledges beneath to stand upon. “Crowning’s but a shabby way of going out of the world,” he exclaimed, upon my rallying him; “and I’m not going to be guilty of it.”

At last, the ship was at hand, and we approached with much caution, wishing to avoid being hailed by anyone from the quarter-deck. Dropping silently under her bows, we heard a low whistle–the signal agreed upon–and presently a goodly-sized bag was lowered over to us.

We cut the line, and then paddled away as fast as we could, and made the best of our way home. Here, we found the rest waiting impatiently.

The bag turned out to be well filled with sweet potatoes boiled, cubes of salt beef and pork, and a famous sailors’ pudding, what they call “duff,” made of flour and water, and of about the consistence of an underdone brick. With these delicacies, and keen appetites, we went out into the moonlight, and had a nocturnal picnic.

CHAPTER XLII.

MOTOO-OTOO A TAHITIAN CASUIST

THE Pill Box was sometimes employed for other purposes than that described in the last chapter. We sometimes went a-pleasuring in it.

Right in the middle of Papeetee harbour is a bright, green island, one circular grove of waving palms, and scarcely a hundred yards across. It is of coral formation; and all round, for many rods out, the bay is so shallow that you might wade anywhere. Down in these waters, as transparent as air, you see coral plants of every hue and shape imaginable :–antlers, tufts of azure, waving reeds like stalks of grain, and pale green buds and mosses. In some places, you look through prickly branches down to a snow-white floor of sand, sprouting with flinty bulbs; and crawling among these are strange shapes:–some bristling with spikes, others clad in shining coats of mail, and here and there, round forms all spangled with eyes.

The island is called Hotoo-Otoo; and around Hotoo-Otoo have I often paddled of a white moonlight night, pausing now and then to admire the marine gardens beneath.

The place is the private property of the queen, who has a residence there–a melancholy-looking range of bamboo houses–neglected and falling to decay among the trees.

Commanding the harbour as it does, her majesty has done all she could to make a fortress of the island. The margin has been raised and levelled, and built up with a low parapet of hewn Hocks of coral. Behind the parapet are ranged, at wide intervals, a number of rusty old cannon, of all fashions and calibres. They are mounted upon lame, decrepit-looking carriages, ready to sink under the useless burden of bearing them up. Indeed, two or three have given up the ghost altogether, and the pieces they sustained lie half buried among their bleaching bones. Several of the cannon are spiked; probably with a view of making them more formidable; as they certainly must be to anyone undertaking to fire them off.

Presented to Pomaree at various times by captains of British armed ships, these poor old “dogs of war,” thus toothless and turned out to die, formerly bayed in full pack as the battle-hounds of Old England.

There was something about Hotoo-Otoo that struck my fancy; and I registered a vow to plant my foot upon its soil, notwithstanding an old bareheaded sentry menaced me in the moonlight with an unsightly musket. As my canoe drew scarcely three inches of water, I could paddle close up to the parapet without grounding; but every time I came near, the old man ran toward me, pushing his piece forward, but never clapping it to his shoulder. Thinking he only meant to frighten me, I at last dashed the canoe right Up to the wall, purposing a leap. It was the rashest act of my life; for never did cocoa-nut come nearer getting demolished than mine did then. With the stock of his gun, the old warder fetched a tremendous blow, which I managed to dodge; and then falling back, succeeded in paddling out of harm’s reach.

He must have been dumb; for never a word did he utter; but grinning from ear to ear, and with his white cotton robe streaming in the moonlight, he looked more like the spook of the island than anything mortal.

I tried to effect my object by attacking him in the rear–but he was all front; running about the place as I paddled, and presenting his confounded musket wherever I went. At last I was obliged to retreat; and to this day my vow remains unfulfilled.

It was a few days after my repulse from before the walls of Hotoo-Otoo that I heard a curious case of casuistry argued between one of the most clever and intelligent natives I ever saw in Tahiti, a man by the name of Arheetoo, and our learned Theban of a doctor.

It was this:–whether it was right and lawful for anyone, being a native, to keep the European Sabbath, in preference to the day set apart as such by the missionaries, and so considered by the islanders in general.

It must be known that the missionaries of the good ship Duff, who more than half-a-century ago established the Tahitian reckoning, came hither by the way of the Cape of Good Hope; and by thus sailing to the eastward, lost one precious day of their lives all round, getting about that much in advance of Greenwich time. For this reason, vessels coming round Cape Horn–as they most all do nowadays–find it Sunday in Tahiti, when, according to their own view of the matter, it ought to be Saturday. But as it won’t do to alter the log, the sailors keep their Sabbath, and the islanders theirs.

This confusion perplexes the poor natives mightily; and it is to no purpose that you endeavour to explain so incomprehensible a phenomenon. I once saw a worthy old missionary essay to shed some light on the subject; and though I understood but a few of the words employed, I could easily get at the meaning of his illustrations. They were something like the following:

“Here,” says he, “you see this circle” (describing a large one on the ground with a stick); “very good; now you see this spot here” (marking a point in the perimeter): “well; this is Beretanee (England), and I’m going to sail round to Tahiti. Here I go, then (following the circle round), and there goes the sun (snatching up another stick, and commissioning a bandy-legged native to travel round with it in a contrary direction). Now then, we are both off, and both going away from each other; and here you see I have arrived at Tahiti (making a sudden stop); and look now where Bandy Legs is!”

But the crowd strenuously maintained that Bandy Legs ought to be somewhere above them in the atmosphere; for it was a traditionary fact that the people from the Duff came ashore when the sun was high overhead. And here the old gentleman, being a very good sort of man, doubtless, but no astronomer, was obliged to give up.

Arheetoo, the casuist alluded to, though a member of the church, and extremely conscientious about what Sabbath he kept, was more liberal in other matters. Learning that I was something of a “mick-onaree” (in this sense, a man able to read, and cunning in the use of the pen), he desired the slight favour of my forging for him a set of papers; for which, he said, he would be much obliged, and give me a good dinner of roast pig and Indian turnip in the bargain.

Now, Arheetoo was one of those who board the shipping for their washing; and the competition being very great (the proudest chiefs not disdaining to solicit custom in person, though the work is done by their dependants), he had decided upon a course suggested by a knowing sailor, a friend of his. He wished to have manufactured a set of certificates, purporting to come from certain man-of-war and merchant captains, known to have visited the island; recommending him as one of the best getters up of fine linen in all Polynesia.

At this time, Arheetoo had known me but two hours; and, as he made the proposition very coolly, I thought it rather presumptuous, and told him so. But as it was quite impossible to convey a hint, and there was a slight impropriety in the thing, I did not resent the insult, but simply declined.

CHAPTER XLIII.

ONE IS JUDGED BY THE COMPANY HE KEEPS

ALTHOUGH, from its novelty, life at Captain Bob’s was pleasant enough, for the time; there were some few annoyances connected with it anything but agreeable to a “soul of sensibility.”

Prejudiced against us by the malevolent representations of the consul and others, many worthy foreigners ashore regarded us as a set of lawless vagabonds; though, truth to speak, better behaved sailors