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never stepped on the island, nor any who gave less trouble to the natives. But, for all this, whenever we met a respectably-dressed European, ten to one he shunned us by going over to the other side of the road. This was very unpleasant, at least to myself; though, certes, it did not prey upon the minds of the others.

To give an instance.

Of a fine evening in Tahiti–but they are all fine evenings there–you may see a bevy of silk bonnets and parasols passing along the Broom Road: perhaps a band of pale, little white urchins–sickly exotics–and, oftener still, sedate, elderly gentlemen, with canes; at whose appearance the natives, here and there, slink into their huts. These are the missionaries, their wives, and children, taking a family airing. Sometimes, by the bye, they take horse, and ride down to Point Venus and back; a distance of several miles. At this place is settled the only survivor of the first missionaries that landed–an old, white-headed, saint-like man, by the name of Wilson, the father of our friend, the consul.

The little parties on foot were frequently encountered; and, recalling, as they did, so many pleasant recollections of home and the ladies, I really longed for a dress coat and beaver that I might step up and pay my respects. But, situated as I was, this was out of the question. On one occasion, however, I received a kind, inquisitive glance from a matron in gingham. Sweet lady! I have not forgotten her: her gown was a plaid.

But a glance, like hers, was not always bestowed.

One evening, passing the verandah of a missionary’s dwelling, the dame, his wife, and a pretty, blonde young girl, with ringlets, were sitting there, enjoying the sea-breeze, then coming in, all cool and refreshing, from the spray of the reef. As I approached, the old lady peered hard at me; and her very cap seemed to convey a prim rebuke. The blue, English eyes, by her side, were also bent on me. But, oh Heavens! what a glance to receive from such a beautiful creature! As for the mob cap, not a fig did I care for it; but, to be taken for anything but a cavalier, by the ringleted one, was absolutely unendurable.

I resolved on a courteous salute, to show my good-breeding, if nothing more. But, happening to wear a sort of turban–hereafter to be particularly alluded to–there was no taking it off and putting it on again with anything like dignity. At any rate, then, here goes a how. But, another difficulty presented itself; my loose frock was so voluminous that I doubted whether any spinal curvature would be perceptible.

“Good evening, ladies,” exclaimed I, at last, advancing winningly; “a delightful air from the sea, ladies.”

Hysterics and hartshorn! who would have thought it? The young lady screamed, and the old one came near fainting. As for myself, I retreated in double-quick time; and scarcely drew breath until safely housed in the Calabooza.

CHAPTER XLIV.

CATHEDRAL OF PAPOAR–THE CHURCH OF THE COCOA-NUTS

ON Sundays I always attended the principal native church, on the outskirts of the village of Papeetee, and not far from the Calabooza Beretanee. It was esteemed the best specimen of architecture in Tahiti.

Of late, they have built their places of worship with more reference to durability than formerly. At one time, there were no less than thirty-six on the island–mere barns, tied together with thongs, which went to destruction in a very few years.

One, built many years ago in this style, was a most remarkable structure. It was erected by Pomaree II., who, on this occasion, showed all the zeal of a royal proselyte. The building was over seven hundred feet in length, and of a proportionate width; the vast ridge-pole was at intervals supported by a row of thirty-six cylindrical trunks of the bread-fruit tree; and, all round, the wall-plates rested on shafts of the palm. The roof–steeply inclining to within a man’s height of the ground–was thatched with leaves, and the sides of the edifice were open. Thus spacious was the Royal Mission Chapel of Papoar.

At its dedication, three distinct sermons were, from different pulpits, preached to an immense concourse gathered from all parts of the island.

As the chapel was built by the king’s command, nearly as great a multitude was employed in its construction as swarmed over the scaffolding of the great temple of the Jews. Much less time, however, was expended. In less than three weeks from planting the first post, the last tier of palmetto-leaves drooped from the eaves, and the work was done.

Apportioned to the several chiefs and their dependants, the labour, though immense, was greatly facilitated by everyone’s bringing his post, or his rafter, or his pole strung with thatching, ready for instant use. The materials thus prepared being afterwards secured together by thongs, there was literally “neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building.”

But the most singular circumstance connected with this South Sea cathedral remains to be related. As well for the beauty as the advantages of such a site, the islanders love to dwell near the mountain streams; and so, a considerable brook, after descending from the hills and watering the valley, was bridged over in three places, and swept clean through the chapel.

Flowing waters! what an accompaniment to the songs of the sanctuary; mingling with them the praises and thanksgivings of the green solitudes inland.

But the chapel of the Polynesian Solomon has long since been deserted. Its thousand rafters of habiscus have decayed, and fallen to the ground; and now, the stream murmurs over them in its bed.

The present metropolitan church of Tahiti is very unlike the one just described. It is of moderate dimensions, boarded over, and painted white. It is furnished also with blinds, but no sashes; indeed, were it not for the rustic thatch, it would remind one of a plain chapel at home.

The woodwork was all done by foreign carpenters, of whom there are always several about Papeetee.

Within, its aspect is unique, and cannot fail to interest a stranger. The rafters overhead are bound round with fine matting of variegated dyes; and all along the ridge-pole these trappings hang pendent, in alternate bunches of tassels and deep fringes of stained grass. The floor is composed of rude planks. Regular aisles run between ranges of native settees, bottomed with crossed braids of the cocoa-nut fibre, and furnished with backs.

But the pulpit, made of a dark, lustrous wood, and standing at one end, is by far the most striking object. It is preposterously lofty; indeed, a capital bird’s-eye view of the congregation ought to be had from its summit.

Nor does the church lack a gallery, which runs round on three sides, and is supported by columns of the cocoa-nut tree.

Its facings are here and there daubed over with a tawdry blue; and in other places (without the slightest regard to uniformity), patches of the same colour may be seen. In their ardour to decorate the sanctuary, the converts must have borrowed each a brush full of paint, and zealously daubed away at the first surface that offered.

As hinted, the general impression is extremely curious. Little light being admitted, and everything being of a dark colour, there is an indefinable Indian aspect of duskiness throughout. A strange, woody smell, also–more or less pervading every considerable edifice in Polynesia–is at once perceptible. It suggests the idea of worm-eaten idols packed away in some old lumber-room at hand.

For the most part, the congregation attending this church is composed of the better and wealthier orders–the chiefs and their retainers; in short, the rank and fashion of the island. This class is infinitely superior in personal beauty and general healthfulness to the “marenhoar,” or common people; the latter having been more exposed to the worst and most debasing evils of foreign intercourse. On Sundays, the former are invariably arrayed in their finery; and thus appear to the best advantage. Nor are they driven to the chapel, as some of their inferiors are to other places of worship; on the contrary, capable of maintaining a handsome exterior, and possessing greater intelligence, they go voluntarily.

In respect of the woodland colonnade supporting its galleries, I called this chapel the Church of the Cocoa-nuts.

It was the first place for Christian worship in Polynesia that I had seen; and the impression upon entering during service was all the stronger. Majestic-looking chiefs whose fathers had hurled the battle-club, and old men who had seen sacrifices smoking upon the altars of Oro, were there. And hark! hanging from the bough of a bread-fruit tree without, a bell is being struck with a bar of iron by a native lad. In the same spot, the blast of the war-conch had often resounded. But to the proceedings within.

The place is well filled. Everywhere meets the eye the gay calico draperies worn on great occasions by the higher classes, and forming a strange contrast of patterns and colours. In some instances, these are so fashioned as to resemble as much as possible European garments. This is in excessively bad taste. Coats and pantaloons, too, are here and there seen; but they look awkwardly enough, and take away from the general effect.

But it is the array of countenances that most strikes you. Each is suffused with the peculiar animation of the Polynesians, when thus collected in large numbers. Every robe is rustling, every limb in motion, and an incessant buzzing going on throughout the assembly. The tumult is so great that the voice of the placid old missionary, who now rises, is almost inaudible. Some degree of silence is at length obtained through the exertions of half-a-dozen strapping fellows, in white shirts and no pantaloons. Running in among the settees, they are at great pains to inculcate the impropriety of making a noise by creating a most unnecessary racket themselves. This part of the service was quite comical.

There is a most interesting Sabbath School connected with the church; and the scholars, a vivacious, mischievous set, were in one part of the gallery. I was amused by a party in a corner. The teacher sat at one end of the bench, with a meek little fellow by his side. When the others were disorderly, this young martyr received a rap; intended, probably, as a sample of what the rest might expect, if they didn’t amend.

Standing in the body of the church, and leaning against a pillar, was an old man, in appearance very different from others of his countrymen. He wore nothing but a coarse, scant mantle of faded tappa; and from his staring, bewildered manner, I set him down as an aged bumpkin from the interior, unaccustomed to the strange sights and sounds of the metropolis. This old worthy was sharply reprimanded for standing up, and thus intercepting the view of those behind; but not comprehending exactly what was said to him, one of the white-liveried gentry made no ceremony of grasping him by the shoulders, and fairly crushing him down into a seat.

During all this, the old missionary in the pulpit–as well as his associates beneath, never ventured to interfere–leaving everything to native management. With South Sea islanders, assembled in any numbers, there is no other way of getting along.

CHAPTER XLV.

MISSIONARY’S SERMON; WITH SOME REFLECTIONS

SOME degree of order at length restored, the service was continued, by singing. The choir was composed of twelve or fifteen ladies of the mission, occupying a long bench to the left of the pulpit. Almost the entire congregation joined in.

The first air fairly startled me; it was the brave tune of Old Hundred, adapted to a Tahitian psalm. After the graceless scenes I had recently passed through, this circumstance, with all its accessories, moved me forcibly.

Many voices around were of great sweetness and compass. The singers, also, seemed to enjoy themselves mightily; some of them pausing, now and then, and looking round, as if to realize the scene more fully. In truth, they sang right joyously, despite the solemnity of the tune.

The Tahitians have much natural talent for singing; and, on all occasions, are exceedingly fond of it. I have often heard a stave or two of psalmody, hummed over by rakish young fellows, like a snatch from an opera.

With respect to singing, as in most other matters, the Tahitians widely differ from the people of the Sandwich Islands; where the parochial flocks may be said rather to Heat than sing.

The psalm concluded, a prayer followed. Very considerately, the good old missionary made it short; for the congregation became fidgety and inattentive as soon as it commenced.

A chapter of the Tahitian Bible was now read; a text selected; and the sermon began. It was listened to with more attention than I had anticipated.

Having been informed, from various sources, that the discourses of the missionaries, being calculated to engage the attention of their simple auditors, were, naturally enough, of a rather amusing description to strangers; in short, that they had much to say about steamboats, lord mayor’s coaches, and the way fires are put out in London, I had taken care to provide myself with a good interpreter, in the person of an intelligent Hawaiian sailor, whose acquaintance I had made.

“Now, Jack,” said I, before entering, “hear every word, and tell me what you can as the missionary goes on.”

Jack’s was not, perhaps, a critical version of the discourse; and at the time, I took no notes of what he said. Nevertheless, I will here venture to give what I remember of it; and, as far as possible, in Jack’s phraseology, so as to lose nothing by a double translation.

“Good friends, I glad to see you; and I very well like to have some talk with you to-day. Good friends, very bad times in Tahiti; it make me weep. Pomaree is gone–the island no more yours, but the Wee-wees’ (French). Wicked priests here, too; and wicked idols in woman’s clothes, and brass chains.

“Good friends, no you speak, or look at them–but I know you won’t –they belong to a set of robbers–the wicked Wee-wees. Soon these bad men be made to go very quick. Beretanee ships of thunder come and away they go. But no more ’bout this now. I speak more by by.

“Good friends, many whale-ships here now; and many bad men come in ’em. No good sailors living–that you know very well. They come here, ’cause so bad they no keep ’em home.

“My good little girls, no run after sailors–no go where they go; they harm you. Where they come from, no good people talk to ’em–just like dogs. Here, they talk to Pomaree, and drink arva with great Poofai.

“Good friends, this very small island, but very wicked, and very poor; these two go together. Why Beretanee so great? Because that island good island, and send mickonaree to poor kannaka In Beretanee, every man rich: plenty things to buy; and plenty things to sell. Houses bigger than Pomaree’s, and more grand. Everybody, too, ride about in coaches, bigger than hers; and wear fine tappa every day. (Several luxurious appliances of civilization were here enumerated, and described.)

“Good friends, little to eat left at my house. Schooner from Sydney no bring bag of flour: and kannaka no bring pig and fruit enough. Mickonaree do great deal for kannaka; kannaka do little for mickonaree. So, good friends, weave plenty of cocoa-nut baskets, fill ’em, and bring ’em to-morrow.”

Such was the substance of great part of this discourse; and, whatever may be thought of it, it was specially adapted to the minds of the islanders: who are susceptible to no impressions, except from things palpable, or novel and striking. To them, a dry sermon would be dry indeed.

The Tahitians can hardly ever be said to reflect: they are all impulse; and so, instead of expounding dogmas, the missionaries give them the large type, pleasing cuts, and short and easy lessons of the primer. Hence, anything like a permanent religious impression is seldom or never produced.

In fact, there is, perhaps, no race upon earth, less disposed, by nature, to the monitions of Christianity, than the people of the South Seas. And this assertion is made with full knowledge of what is called the “Great Revival at the Sandwich Islands,” about the year 1836; when several thousands were, in the course of a few weeks, admitted into the bosom of the Church. But this result was brought about by no sober moral convictions; as an almost instantaneous relapse into every kind of licentiousness soon after testified. It was the legitimate effect of a morbid feeling, engendered by the sense of severe physical wants, preying upon minds excessively prone to superstition; and, by fanatical preaching, inflamed into the belief that the gods of the missionaries were taking vengeance upon the wickedness of the land.

It is a noteworthy fact that those very traits in the Tahitians, which induced the London Missionary Society to regard them as the most promising subjects for conversion, and which led, moreover, to the selection of their island as the very first field for missionary labour, eventually proved the most serious obstruction. An air of softness in their manners, great apparent ingenuousness and docility, at first misled; but these were the mere accompaniments of an indolence, bodily and mental; a constitutional voluptuousness; and an aversion to the least restraint; which, however fitted for the luxurious state of nature, in the tropics, are the greatest possible hindrances to the strict moralities of Christianity.

Added to all this is a quality inherent in Polynesians; and more akin to hypocrisy than anything else. It leads them to assume the most passionate interest in matters for which they really feel little or none whatever; but in which, those whose power they dread, or whose favour they court, they believe to be at all affected. Thus, in their heathen state, the Sandwich Islanders actually knocked out their teeth, tore their hair, and mangled their bodies with shells, to testify their inconsolable grief at the demise of a high chief, or member of the royal family. And yet, Vancouver relates that, on such an occasion, upon which he happened to be present, those apparently the most abandoned to their feelings, immediately assumed the utmost light-heartedness on receiving the present of a penny whistle, or a Dutch looking-glass. Similar instances, also, have come under my own observation.

The following is an illustration of the trait alluded to, as occasionally manifested among the converted Polynesians.

At one of the Society Islands–Baiatair, I believe–the natives, for special reasons, desired to commend themselves particularly to the favour of the missionaries. Accordingly, during divine service, many of them behaved in a manner, otherwise unaccountable, and precisely similar to their behaviour as heathens. They pretended to be wrought up to madness by the preaching which they heard. They rolled their eyes; foamed at the mouth; fell down in fits; and so were carried home. Yet, strange to relate, all this was deemed the evidence of the power of the Most High; and, as such, was heralded abroad.

But, to return to the Church of the Cocoa-nuts. The blessing pronounced, the congregation disperse; enlivening the Broom Road with their waving mantles. On either hand, they disappear down the shaded pathways, which lead off from the main route, conducting to hamlets in the groves, or to the little marine villas upon the beach. There is considerable hilarity; and you would suppose them just from an old-fashioned “hevar,” or jolly heathen dance. Those who carry Bibles swing them carelessly from their arms by cords of sinnate.

The Sabbath is no ordinary day with the Tahitians. So far as doing any work is concerned, it is scrupulously observed. The canoes are hauled up on the beach; the nets are spread to dry. Passing by the hen-coop huts on the roadside, you find their occupants idle, as usual; but less disposed to gossip. After service, repose broods over the whole island; the valleys reaching inland look stiller than ever.

In short, it is Sunday–their “Taboo Day”; the very word formerly expressing the sacredness of their pagan observances now proclaiming the sanctity of the Christian Sabbath.

CHAPTER XLVI.

SOMETHING ABOUT THE KANNAKIPPERS

A WORTHY young man, formerly a friend of mine (I speak of Kooloo with all possible courtesy, since after our intimacy there would be an impropriety in doing otherwise)–this worthy youth, having some genteel notions of retirement, dwelt in a “maroo boro,” or bread-fruit shade, a pretty nook in a wood, midway between the Calabooza Beretanee and the Church of Cocoa-nuts. Hence, at the latter place, he was one of the most regular worshippers.

Kooloo was a blade. Standing up in the congregation in all the bravery of a striped calico shirt, with the skirts rakishly adjusted over a pair of white sailor trousers, and hair well anointed with cocoa-nut oil, he ogled the ladies with an air of supreme satisfaction. Nor were his glances unreturned.

But such looks as the Tahitian belles cast at each other: frequently turning up their noses at the advent of a new cotton mantle recently imported in the chest of some amorous sailor. Upon one occasion, I observed a group of young girls, in tunics of course, soiled sheeting, disdainfully pointing at a damsel in a flaming red one. “Oee tootai owree!” said they with ineffable scorn, “itai maitai!” (You are a good-for-nothing huzzy, no better than you should be).

Now, Kooloo communed with the church; so did all these censorious young ladies. Yet after eating bread-fruit at the Eucharist, I knew several of them, the same night, to be guilty of some sad derelictions.

Puzzled by these things, I resolved to find out, if possible, what ideas, if any, they entertained of religion; but as one’s spiritual concerns are rather delicate for a stranger to meddle with, I went to work as adroitly as I could.

Farnow, an old native who had recently retired from active pursuits, having thrown up the business of being a sort of running footman to the queen, had settled down in a snug little retreat, not fifty rods from Captain Bob’s. His selecting our vicinity for his residence may have been with some view to the advantages it afforded for introducing his three daughters into polite circles. At any rate, not averse to receiving the attentions of so devoted a gallant as the doctor, the sisters (communicants, be it remembered) kindly extended to him free permission to visit them sociably whenever he pleased.

We dropped in one evening, and found the ladies at home. My long friend engaged his favourites, the two younger girls, at the game of “Now,” or hunting a stone under three piles of tappa. For myself, I lounged on a mat with Ideea the eldest, dallying with her grass fan, and improving my knowledge of Tahitian.

The occasion was well adapted to my purpose, and I began.

“Ah, Ideea, mickonaree oee?” the same as drawling out–“By the bye, Miss Ideea, do you belong to the church?”

“Yes, me mickonaree,” was the reply.

But the assertion was at once qualified by certain, reservations; so curious that I cannot forbear their relation.

“Mickonaree ena” (church member here), exclaimed she, laying her hand upon her mouth, and a strong emphasis on the adverb. In the same way, and with similar exclamations, she touched her eyes and hands. This done, her whole air changed in an instant; and she gave me to understand, by unmistakable gestures, that in certain other respects she was not exactly a “mickonaree.” In short, Ideea was

“A sad good Christian at the heart–A very heathen in the carnal part.”

The explanation terminated in a burst of laughter, in which all three sisters joined; and for fear of looking silly, the doctor and myself. As soon as good-breeding would permit, we took leave.

The hypocrisy in matters of religion, so apparent in all Polynesian converts, is most injudiciously nourished in Tahiti by a zealous and in many cases, a coercive superintendence over their spiritual well-being. But it is only manifested with respect to the common people, their superiors being exempted.

On Sunday mornings, when the prospect is rather small for a full house in the minor churches, a parcel of fellows are actually sent out with ratans into the highways and byways as whippers-in of the congregation. This is a sober fact.

These worthies constitute a religious police; and you always know them by the great white diapers they wear. On week days they are quite as busy as on Sundays; to the great terror of the inhabitants, going all over the island, and spying out the wickedness thereof.

Moreover, they are the collectors of fines–levied generally in grass mats–for obstinate non-attendance upon divine worship, and other offences amenable to the ecclesiastical judicature of the missionaries.

Old Bob called these fellows “kannakippers” a corruption, I fancy, of our word constable.

He bore them a bitter grudge; and one day, drawing near home, and learning that two of them were just then making a domiciliary visit at his house, he ran behind a bush; and as they came forth, two green bread-fruit from a hand unseen took them each between the shoulders. The sailors in the Calabooza were witnesses to this, as well as several natives; who, when the intruders were out of sight, applauded Captain Bob’s spirit in no measured terms; the ladies present vehemently joining in. Indeed, the kannakippers have no greater enemies than the latter. And no wonder: the impertinent varlets, popping into their houses at all hours, are forever prying into their peccadilloes.

Kooloo, who at times was patriotic and pensive, and mourned the evils under which his country was groaning, frequently inveighed against the statute which thus authorized an utter stranger to interfere with domestic arrangements. He himself–quite a ladies’ man–had often been annoyed thereby. He considered the kannakippers a bore.

Beside their confounded inquisitiveness, they add insult to injury, by making a point of dining out every day at some hut within the limits of their jurisdiction. As for the gentleman of the house, his meek endurance of these things is amazing. But “good easy man,” there is nothing for him but to be as hospitable as possible.

These gentry are indefatigable. At the dead of night prowling round the houses, and in the daytime hunting amorous couples in the groves. Yet in one instance the chase completely baffled them.

It was thus.

Several weeks previous to our arrival at the island, someone’s husband and another person’s wife, having taken a mutual fancy for each other, went out for a walk. The alarm was raised, and with hue and cry they were pursued; but nothing was seen of them again until the lapse of some ninety days; when we were called out from the Calabooza to behold a great mob inclosing the lovers, and escorting them for trial to the village.

Their appearance was most singular. The girdle excepted, they were quite naked; their hair was long, burned yellow at the ends, and entangled with burrs; and their bodies scratched and scarred in all directions. It seems that, acting upon the “love in a cottage” principle, they had gone right into the interior; and throwing up a hut in an uninhabited valley, had lived there, until in an unlucky stroll they were observed and captured.

They were subsequently condemned to make one hundred fathoms of Broom Road–a six months’ work, if not more.

Often, when seated in a house, conversing quietly with its inmates, I have known them betray the greatest confusion at the sudden announcement of a kannakipper’s being in sight. To be reported by one of these officials as a “Tootai Owree” (in general, signifying a bad person or disbeliever in Christianity), is as much dreaded as the forefinger of Titus Gates was, levelled at an alleged papist.

But the islanders take a sly revenge upon them. Upon entering a dwelling, the kannakippers oftentimes volunteer a pharisaical prayer-meeting: hence, they go in secret by the name of “Boora-Artuas,” literally, “Pray-to-Gods.”

CHAPTER XLVII.

HOW THEY DRESS IN TAHITI

EXCEPT where the employment of making “tappa” is inflicted as a punishment, the echoes of the cloth-mallet have long since died away in the listless valleys of Tahiti. Formerly, the girls spent their mornings like ladies at their tambour frames; now, they are lounged away in almost utter indolence. True, most of them make their own garments; but this comprises but a stitch or two; the ladies of the mission, by the bye, being entitled to the credit of teaching them to sew.

The “kihee whihenee,” or petticoat, is a mere breadth of white cotton, or calico; loosely enveloping the person, from the waist to the feet. Fastened simply by a single tuck, or by twisting the upper corners together, this garment frequently becomes disordered; thus affording an opportunity of being coquettishly adjusted. Over the “kihee,” they wear a sort of gown, open in front, very loose, and as negligent as you please. The ladies here never dress for dinner.

But what shall be said of those horrid hats! Fancy a bunch of straw, plaited into the shape of a coal-scuttle, and stuck, bolt upright, on the crown; with a yard or two of red ribbon flying about like kite-strings. Milliners of Paris, what would ye say to them! Though made by the natives, they are said to have been first contrived and recommended by the missionaries’ wives; a report which, I really trust, is nothing but scandal.

Curious to relate, these things for the head are esteemed exceedingly becoming. The braiding of the straw is one of the few employments of the higher classes; all of which but minister to the silliest vanity.

The young girls, however, wholly eschew the hats; leaving those dowdy old souls, their mothers, to make frights of themselves.

As for the men, those who aspire to European garments seem to have no perception of the relation subsisting between the various parts of a gentleman’s costume. To the wearer of a coat, for instance, pantaloons are by no means indispensable; and a bell-crowned hat and a girdle are full dress. The young sailor, for whom Kooloo deserted me, presented him with a shaggy old pea-jacket; and with this buttoned up to his chin, under a tropical sun, he promenaded the Broom Road, quite elated. Doctor Long Ghost, who saw him thus, ran away with the idea that he was under medical treatment at the time–in the act of taking, what the quacks call, a “sweat.”

A bachelor friend of Captain Bob rejoiced in the possession of a full European suit; in which he often stormed the ladies’ hearts. Having a military leaning, he ornamented the coat with a great scarlet patch on the breast; and mounted it also, here and there, with several regimental buttons, slyly cut from the uniform of a parcel of drunken marines sent ashore on a holiday from a man-of-war. But, in spite of the ornaments, the dress was not exactly the thing. From the tightness of the cloth across the shoulders, his elbows projected from his sides, like an ungainly rider’s; and his ponderous legs were jammed so hard into his slim, nether garments that the threads of every seam showed; and, at every step, you looked for a catastrophe.

In general, there seems to be no settled style of dressing among the males; they wear anything they can get; in some cases, awkwardly modifying the fashions of their fathers so as to accord with their own altered views of what is becoming.

But ridiculous as many of them now appear, in foreign habiliments, the Tahitians presented a far different appearance in the original national costume; which was graceful in the extreme, modest to all but the prudish, and peculiarly adapted to the climate. But the short kilts of dyed tappa, the tasselled maroes, and other articles formerly worn, are, at the present day, prohibited by law as indecorous. For what reason necklaces and garlands of flowers, among the women, are also forbidden, I never could learn; but, it is said, that they were associated, in some way, with a forgotten heathen observance.

Many pleasant, and, seemingly, innocent sports and pastimes, are likewise interdicted. In old times, there were several athletic games practised, such as wrestling, foot-racing, throwing the javelin, and archery. In all these they greatly excelled; and, for some, splendid festivals were instituted. Among their everyday amusements were dancing, tossing the football, kite-flying, flute-playing, and singing traditional ballads; now, all punishable offences; though most of them have been so long in disuse that they are nearly forgotten.

In the same way, the “Opio,” or festive harvest-home of the breadfruit, has been suppressed; though, as described to me by Captain Bob, it seemed wholly free from any immoral tendency. Against tattooing, of any kind, there is a severe law.

That this abolition of their national amusements and customs was not willingly acquiesced in, is shown in the frequent violation of many of the statutes inhibiting them; and, especially, in the frequency with which their “hevars,” or dances, are practised in secret.

Doubtless, in thus denationalizing the Tahitians, as it were, the missionaries were prompted by a sincere desire for good; but the effect has been lamentable. Supplied with no amusements in place of those forbidden, the Tahitians, who require more recreation than other people, have sunk into a listlessness, or indulge in sensualities, a hundred times more pernicious than all the games ever celebrated in the Temple of Tanee.

CHAPTER XLVIII.

TAHITI AS IT IS

AS IN the last few chapters, several matters connected with the general condition of the natives have been incidentally touched upon, it may be well not to leave so important a subject in a state calculated to convey erroneous impressions. Let us bestow upon it, therefore, something more than a mere cursory glance.

But in the first place, let it be distinctly understood that, in all I have to say upon this subject, both here and elsewhere, I mean no harm to the missionaries nor their cause; I merely desire to set forth things as they actually exist.

Of the results which have flowed from the intercourse of foreigners with the Polynesians, including the attempts to civilize and Christianize them by the missionaries, Tahiti, on many accounts, is obviously the fairest practical example. Indeed, it may now be asserted that the experiment of Christianizing the Tahitians, and improving their social condition by the introduction of foreign customs, has been fully tried. The present generation have grown up under the auspices of their religious instructors. And although it may be urged that the labours of the latter have at times been more or less obstructed by unprincipled foreigners, still, this in no wise renders Tahiti any the less a fair illustration; for, with obstacles like these, the missionaries in Polynesia must always, and everywhere struggle.

Nearly sixty years have elapsed since the Tahitian mission was started; and, during this period, it has received the unceasing prayers and contributions of its friends abroad. Nor has any enterprise of the kind called forth more devotion on the part of those directly employed in it.

It matters not that the earlier labourers in the work, although strictly conscientious, were, as a class, ignorant, and, in many cases, deplorably bigoted: such traits have, in some degree, characterized the pioneers of all faiths. And although in zeal and disinterestedness the missionaries now on the island are, perhaps, inferior to their predecessors, they have, nevertheless, in their own way at least, laboured hard to make a Christian people of their charge.

Let us now glance at the most obvious changes wrought in their condition.

The entire system of idolatry has been done away; together with several barbarous practices engrafted thereon. But this result is not so much to be ascribed to the missionaries, as to the civilizing effects of a long and constant intercourse with whites of all nations; to whom, for many years, Tahiti has been one of the principal places of resort in the South Seas. At the Sandwich Islands, the potent institution of the Taboo, together with the entire paganism of the land, was utterly abolished by a voluntary act of the natives some time previous to the arrival of the first missionaries among them.

The next most striking change in the Tahitians is this. From the permanent residence among them of influential and respectable foreigners, as well as from the frequent visits of ships-of-war, recognizing the nationality of the island, its inhabitants are no longer deemed fit subjects for the atrocities practised upon mere savages; and hence, secure from retaliation, vessels of all kinds now enter their harbours with perfect safety.

But let us consider what results are directly ascribable to the missionaries alone.

In all cases, they have striven hard to mitigate the evils resulting from the commerce with the whites in general. Such attempts, however, have been rather injudicious, and often ineffectual: in truth, a barrier almost insurmountable is presented in the dispositions of the people themselves. Still, in this respect, the morality of the islanders is, upon the whole, improved by the presence of the missionaries.

But the greatest achievement of the latter, and one which in itself is most hopeful and gratifying, is that they have translated the entire Bible into the language of the island; and I have myself known several who were able to read it with facility. They have also established churches, and schools for both children and adults; the latter, I regret to say, are now much neglected: which must be ascribed, in a great measure, to the disorders growing out of the proceedings of the French.

It were unnecessary here to enter diffusely into matters connected with the internal government of the Tahitian churches and schools. Nor, upon this head, is my information copious enough to warrant me in presenting details. But we do not need them. We are merely considering general results, as made apparent in the moral and religious condition of the island at large.

Upon a subject like this, however, it would be altogether too assuming for a single individual to decide; and so, in place of my own random observations, which may be found elsewhere, I will here present those of several known authors, made under various circumstances, at different periods, and down to a comparative late date. A few very brief extracts will enable the reader to mark for himself what progressive improvement, if any, has taken place.

Nor must it be overlooked that, of these authorities, the two first in order are largely quoted by the Right Reverend M. Kussell, in a work composed for the express purpose of imparting information on the subject of Christian missions in Polynesia. And he frankly acknowledges, moreover, that they are such as “cannot fail to have great weight with the public.”

After alluding to the manifold evils entailed upon the natives by foreigners, and their singularly inert condition; and after somewhat too severely denouncing the undeniable errors of the mission, Kotzebue, the Russian navigator, says, “A religion like this, which forbids every innocent pleasure, and cramps or annihilates every mental power, is a libel on the divine founder of Christianity. It is true that the religion of the missionaries has, with a great deal of evil, effected some good. It has restrained the vices of theft and incontinence; but it has given birth to ignorance, hypocrisy, and a hatred of all other modes of faith, which was once foreign to the open and benevolent character of the Tahitian.”

Captain Beechy says that, while at Tahiti, he saw scenes “which must have convinced the great sceptic of the thoroughly immoral condition of the people, and which would force him to conclude, as Turnbull did, many years previous, that their intercourse with the Europeans had tended to debase, rather than exalt their condition.”

About the year 1834, Daniel Wheeler, an honest-hearted Quaker, prompted by motives of the purest philanthropy, visited, in a vessel of his own, most of the missionary settlements in the South Seas. He remained some time at Tahiti; receiving the hospitalities of the missionaries there, and, from time to time, exhorting the natives.

After bewailing their social condition, he frankly says of their religious state, “Certainly, appearances are unpromising; and however unwilling to adopt such a conclusion, there is reason to apprehend that Christian principle is a great rarity.”

Such, then, is the testimony of good and unbiassed men, who have been upon the spot; but, how comes it to differ so widely from impressions of others at home? Simply thus: instead of estimating the result of missionary labours by the number of heathens who have actually been made to understand and practise (in some measure at least) the precepts of Christianity, this result has been unwarrantably inferred from the number of those who, without any understanding of these things, have in any way been induced to abandon idolatry and conform to certain outward observances.

By authority of some kind or other, exerted upon the natives through their chiefs, and prompted by the hope of some worldly benefit to the latter, and not by appeals to the reason, have conversions in Polynesia been in most cases brought about.

Even in one or two instances–so often held up as wonderful examples of divine power–where the natives have impulsively burned their idols, and rushed to the waters of baptism, the very suddenness of the change has but indicated its unsoundness. Williams, the martyr of Erromanga, relates an instance where the inhabitants of an island professing Christianity voluntarily assembled, and solemnly revived all their heathen customs.

All the world over, facts are more eloquent than words; the following will show in what estimation the missionaries themselves hold the present state of Christianity and morals among the converted Polynesians.

On the island of Imeeo (attached to the Tahitian mission) is a seminary under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Simpson and wife, for the education of the children of the missionaries, exclusively. Sent home–in many cases, at a very early age–to finish their education, the pupils here are taught nothing but the rudiments of knowledge; nothing more than may be learned in the native schools. Notwithstanding this, the two races are kept as far as possible from associating; the avowed reason being to preserve the young whites from moral contamination. The better to insure this end, every effort is made to prevent them from acquiring the native language.

They went even further at the Sandwich Islands; where, a few years ago, a playground for the children of the missionaries was inclosed with a fence many feet high, the more effectually to exclude the wicked little Hawaiians.

And yet, strange as it may seem, the depravity among the Polynesians, which renders precautions like these necessary, was in a measure unknown before their intercourse with the whites. The excellent Captain Wilson, who took the first missionaries out to Tahiti, affirms that the people of that island had, in many things, “more refined ideas of decency than ourselves.” Vancouver, also, has some noteworthy ideas on this subject, respecting the Sandwich Islanders.

That the immorality alluded to is continually increasing is plainly shown in the numerous, severe, and perpetually violated laws against licentiousness of all kinds in both groups of islands.

It is hardly to be expected that the missionaries would send home accounts of this state of things. Hence, Captain Beechy, in alluding to the “Polynesian Researches” of Ellis, says that the author has impressed his readers with a far more elevated idea of the moral condition of the Tahitians, and the degree of civilization to which they have attained, than they deserve; or, at least, than the facts which came under his observation authorized. He then goes on to say that, in his intercourse with the islanders, “they had no fear of him, and consequently acted from the impulse of their natural feeling; so that he was the better enabled to obtain a correct knowledge of their real disposition and habits.”

Prom my own familiar intercourse with the natives, this last reflection still more forcibly applies to myself.

CHAPTER XLIX.

SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

WE have glanced at their moral and religious condition; let us see how it is with them socially, and in other respects.

It has been said that the only way to civilize a people is to form in them habits of industry. Judged by this principle, the Tahitians are less civilized now than formerly. True, their constitutional indolence is excessive; but surely, if the spirit of Christianity is among them, so unchristian a vice ought to be, at least, partially remedied. But the reverse is the fact. Instead of acquiring new occupations, old ones have been discontinued.

As previously remarked, the manufacture of tappa is nearly obsolete in many parts of the island. So, too, with that of the native tools and domestic utensils; very few of which are now fabricated, since the superiority of European wares has been made so evident.

This, however, would be all very well were the natives to apply themselves to such occupations as would enable them to supply the few articles they need. But they are far from doing so; and the majority being unable to obtain European substitutes for many things before made by themselves, the inevitable consequence is seen in the present wretched and destitute mode of life among the common people. To me so recently from a primitive valley of the Marquesas, the aspect of most of the dwellings of the poorer Tahitians, and their general habits, seemed anything but tidy; nor could I avoid a comparison, immeasurably to the disadvantage of these partially civilized islanders.

In Tahiti, the people have nothing to do; and idleness, everywhere, is the parent of vice. “There is scarcely anything,” says the good old Quaker Wheeler, “so striking, or pitiable, as their aimless, nerveless mode of spending life.”

Attempts have repeatedly been made to rouse them from their sluggishness; but in vain. Several years ago, the cultivation of cotton was introduced; and, with their usual love of novelty, they went to work with great alacrity; but the interest excited quickly subsided, and now, not a pound of the article is raised.

About the same time, machinery for weaving was sent out from London; and a factory was started at Afrehitoo, in Imeeo. The whiz of the wheels and spindles brought in volunteers from all quarters, who deemed it a privilege to be admitted to work: yet, in six months, not a boy could be hired; and the machinery was knocked down, and packed off to Sydney.

It was the same way with the cultivation of the sugar-cane, a plant indigenous to the island; peculiarly fitted to the soil and climate, and of so excellent a quality that Bligh took slips of it to the West Indies. All the plantations went on famously for a while; the natives swarming in the fields like ants, and making a prodigious stir. What few plantations now remain are owned and worked by whites; who would rather pay a drunken sailor eighteen or twenty Spanish dollars a month, than hire a sober native for his “fish and tarro.”

It is well worthy remark here, that every evidence of civilization among the South Sea Islands directly pertains to foreigners; though the fact of such evidence existing at all is usually urged as a proof of the elevated condition of the natives. Thus, at Honolulu, the capital of the Sandwich Islands, there are fine dwelling-houses, several hotels, and barber-shops, ay, even billiard-rooms; but all these are owned and used, be it observed, by whites. There are tailors, and blacksmiths, and carpenters also; but not one of them is a native.

The fact is, that the mechanical and agricultural employment of civilized life require a kind of exertion altogether too steady and sustained to agree with an indolent people like the Polynesians. Calculated for a state of nature, in a climate providentially adapted to it, they are unfit for any other. Nay, as a race, they cannot otherwise long exist.

The following statement speaks for itself.

About the year 1777, Captain Cook estimated the population of Tahiti at about two hundred thousand. By a regular census, taken some four or five years ago, it was found to be only nine thousand. This amazing decrease not only shows the malignancy of the evils necessary to produce it; but, from the fact, the inference unavoidably follows that all the wars, child murders, and other depopulating causes, alleged to have existed in former times, were nothing in comparison to them.

These evils, of course, are solely of foreign origin. To say nothing of the effects of drunkenness, the occasional inroads of the small-pox, and other things which might be mentioned, it is sufficient to allude to a virulent disease which now taints the blood of at least two-thirds of the common people of the island; and, in some form or other, is transmitted from father to son.

Their first horror and consternation at the earlier ravages of this scourge were pitiable in the extreme. The very name bestowed upon it is a combination of all that is horrid and unmentionable to a civilized being.

Distracted with their sufferings, they brought forth their sick before the missionaries, when they were preaching, and cried out, “Lies, lies! you tell us of salvation; and, behold, we are dying. We want no other salvation than to live in this world. Where are there any saved through your speech? Pomaree is dead; and we are all dying with your cursed diseases. When will you give over?”

At present, the virulence of the disorder, in individual cases, has somewhat abated; but the poison is only the more widely diffused.

“How dreadful and appalling,” breaks forth old Wheeler, “the consideration that the intercourse of distant nations should have entailed upon these poor, untutored islanders a curse unprecedented, and unheard of, in the annals of history.”

In view of these things, who can remain blind to the fact that, so far as mere temporal felicity is concerned, the Tahitians are far worse off now, than formerly; and although their circumstances, upon the whole, are bettered by the presence of the missionaries, the benefits conferred by the latter become utterly insignificant when confronted with the vast preponderance of evil brought about by other means.

Their prospects are hopeless. Nor can the most devoted efforts now exempt them from furnishing a marked illustration of a principle which history has always exemplified. Years ago brought to a stand, where all that is corrupt in barbarism and civilization unite, to the exclusion of the virtues of either state; like other uncivilized beings, brought into contact with Europeans, they must here remain stationary until utterly extinct.

The islanders themselves are mournfully watching their doom.

Several years since, Pomaree II. said to Tyreman and Bennet, the deputies of the London Missionary Society, “You have come to see me at a very bad time. Your ancestors came in the time of men, when Tahiti was inhabited: you are come to behold just the remnant of my people.”

Of like import was the prediction of Teearmoar, the high-priest of Paree; who lived over a hundred years ago. I have frequently heard it chanted, in a low, sad tone, by aged Tahitiana:–

“A harree ta fow,
A toro ta farraro,
A now ta tararta.”

“The palm-tree shall grow,
The coral shall spread,
But man shall cease.”

CHAPTER L.

SOMETHING HAPPENS TO LONG GHOST

WE will now return to the narrative.

The day before the Julia sailed, Dr. Johnson paid his last call. He was not quite so bland as usual. All he wanted was the men’s names to a paper, certifying to their having received from him sundry medicaments therein mentioned. This voucher, endorsed by Captain Guy, secured his pay. But he would not have obtained for it the sailors’ signs manual, had either the doctor or myself been present at the time.

Now, my long friend wasted no love upon Johnson; but, for reasons of his own, hated him heartily: all the same thing in one sense; for either passion argues an object deserving thereof. And so, to be hated cordially, is only a left-handed compliment; which shows how foolish it is to be bitter against anyone.

For my own part, I merely felt a cool, purely incidental, and passive contempt for Johnson, as a selfish, mercenary apothecary, and hence, I often remonstrated with Long Ghost when he flew out against him, and heaped upon him all manner of scurrilous epithets. In his professional brother’s presence, however, he never acted thus; maintaining an amiable exterior, to help along the jokes which were played.

I am now going to tell another story in which my long friend figures with the physician: I do not wish to bring one or the other of them too often upon the stage; but as the thing actually happened, I must relate it.

A few days after Johnson presented his bill, as above mentioned, the doctor expressed to me his regret that, although he (Johnson) ‘had apparently been played off for our entertainment, yet, nevertheless, he had made money out of the transaction. And I wonder, added the doctor, if that now he cannot expect to receive any further pay, he could be induced to call again.

By a curious coincidence, not five minutes after making this observation, Doctor Long Ghost himself fell down in an unaccountable fit; and without asking anybody’s leave, Captain Bob, who was by, at once dispatched a boy, hot foot, for Johnson.

Meanwhile, we carried him into the Calabooza; and the natives, who assembled in numbers, suggested various modes of treatment. One rather energetic practitioner was for holding the patient by the shoulders, while somebody tugged at his feet. This resuscitatory operation was called the “Potata”; but thinking our long comrade sufficiently lengthy without additional stretching, we declined potataing him.

Presently the physician was spied coming along the Broom Road at a great rate, and so absorbed in the business of locomotion, that he heeded not the imprudence of being in a hurry in a tropical climate. He was in a profuse perspiration; which must have been owing to the warmth of his feelings, notwithstanding we had supposed him a man of no heart. But his benevolent haste upon this occasion was subsequently accounted for: it merely arose from professional curiosity to behold a case most unusual in his Polynesian practice. Now, under certain circumstances, sailors, generally so frolicsome, are exceedingly particular in having everything conducted with the strictest propriety. Accordingly, they deputed me, as his intimate friend, to sit at Long Ghost’s head, so as to be ready to officiate as “spokesman” and answer all questions propounded, the rest to keep silent.

“What’s the matter?” exclaimed Johnson, out of breath, and bursting into the Calabooza: “how did it happen?–speak quick!” and he looked at Long Ghost.

I told him how the fit came on.

“Singular”–he observed–“very: good enough pulse;” and he let go of it, and placed his hand upon the heart.

“But what’s all that frothing at the mouth?” he continued; “and bless me! look at the abdomen!”

The region thus denominated exhibited the most unaccountable symptoms. A low, rumbling sound was heard; and a sort of undulation was discernible beneath the thin cotton frock.

“Colic, sir?” suggested a bystander.

“Colic be hanged!” shouted the physician; “who ever heard of anybody in a trance of the colic?”

During this, the patient lay upon his back, stark and straight, giving no signs of life except those above mentioned.

“I’ll bleed him!” cried Johnson at last–“run for a calabash, one of you!”

“Life ho!” here sung out Navy Bob, as if he had just spied a sail.

“What under the sun’s the matter with him!” cried the physician, starting at the appearance of the mouth, which had jerked to one side, and there remained fixed.

“Pr’aps it’s St. Witus’s hornpipe,” suggested Bob.

“Hold the calabash!”–and the lancet was out in a moment.

But before the deed could be done, the face became natural;–a sigh was heaved;–the eyelids quivered, opened, closed; and Long Ghost, twitching all over, rolled on his side, and breathed audibly. By degrees, he became sufficiently recovered to speak.

After trying to get something coherent out of him, Johnson withdrew; evidently disappointed in the scientific interest of the case. Soon after his departure, the doctor sat up; and upon being asked what upon earth ailed him, shook his head mysteriously. He then deplored the hardship of being an invalid in such a place, where there was not the slightest provision for his comfort. This awakened the compassion of our good old keeper, who offered to send him to a place where he would be better cared for. Long Ghost acquiesced; and being at once mounted upon the shoulders of four of Captain Bob’s men, was marched off in state, like the Grand Lama of Thibet.

Now, I do not pretend to account for his remarkable swoon; but his reason for suffering himself to be thus removed from the Calabooza was strongly suspected to be nothing more than a desire to insure more regularity in his dinner-hour; hoping that the benevolent native to whom he was going would set a good table.

The next morning, we were all envying his fortune; when, of a sudden, he bolted in upon us, looking decidedly out of humour.

“Hang it!” he cried; “I’m worse off than ever; let me have some breakfast!” We lowered our slender bag of ship-stores from a rafter, and handed him a biscuit. While this was being munched, he went on and told us his story.

“After leaving here, they trotted me back into a valley, and left me in a hut, where an old woman lived by herself. This must be the nurse, thought I; and so I asked her to kill a pig, and bake it; for I felt my appetite returning. ‘Ha! Hal–oee mattee–mattee nuee’–(no, no; you too sick). ‘The devil mattee ye,’ said I–‘give me something to eat!’ But nothing could be had. Night coming on, I had to stay. Creeping into a corner, I tried to sleep; but it was to no purpose;–the old crone must have had the quinsy, or something else; and she kept up such a wheezing and choking that at last I sprang up, and groped after her; but she hobbled away like a goblin; and that was the last of her. As soon as the sun rose, I made the best of my way back; and here I am.” He never left us more, nor ever had a second fit.

CHAPTER LI.

WILSON GIVES US THE CUT–DEPARTURE FOR IMEEO

ABOUT three weeks after the Julia’s sailing, our conditions began to be a little precarious. We were without any regular supply of food; the arrival of ships was growing less frequent; and, what was worse yet, all the natives but good old Captain Bob began to tire of us. Nor was this to be wondered at; we were obliged to live upon their benevolence, when they had little enough for themselves. Besides, we were sometimes driven to acts of marauding; such as kidnapping pigs, and cooking them in the groves; at which their proprietors were by no means pleased.

In this state of affairs, we determined to march off to the consul in a body; and, as he had brought us to these straits, demand an adequate maintenance.

On the point of starting, Captain Bob’s men raised the most outrageous cries, and tried to prevent us. Though hitherto we had strolled about wherever we pleased, this grand conjunction of our whole force, upon one particular expedition, seemed to alarm them. But we assured them that we were not going to assault the village; and so, after a good deal of gibberish, they permitted us to leave.

We went straight to the Pritchard residence, where the consul dwelt. This house–to which I have before referred–is quite commodious. It has a wide verandah, glazed windows, and other appurtenances of a civilized mansion. Upon the lawn in front are palm-trees standing erect here and there, like sentinels. The Consular Office, a small building by itself, is inclosed by the same picket which fences in the lawn.

We found the office closed; but, in the verandah of the dwelling-house, was a lady performing a tonsorial operation on the head of a prim-looking, elderly European, in a low, white cravat;–the most domestic little scene I had witnessed since leaving home. Bent upon an interview with Wilson, the sailors now deputed the doctor to step forward as a polite inquirer after his health.

The pair stared very hard as he advanced; but no ways disconcerted, he saluted them gravely, and inquired for the consul.

Upon being informed that he had gone down to the beach, we proceeded in that direction; and soon met a native, who told us that, apprised of our vicinity, Wilson was keeping out of the way. We resolved to meet him; and passing through the village, he suddenly came walking toward us; having apparently made up his mind that any attempt to elude us would be useless.

“What do you want of me, you rascals?” he cried–a greeting which provoked a retort in no measured terms. At this juncture, the natives began to crowd round, and several foreigners strolled along. Caught in the very act of speaking to such disreputable acquaintances, Wilson now fidgeted, and moved rapidly toward his office; the men following. Turning upon them incensed, he bade them be off–he would have nothing more to say to us; and then, hurriedly addressing Captain Bob in Tahitian, he hastened on, and never stopped till the postern of Pritchard’s wicket was closed behind him.

Our good old keeper was now highly excited, bustling about in his huge petticoats, and conjuring us to return to the Calabooza. After a little debate, we acquiesced.

This interview was decisive. Sensible that none of the charges brought against us would stand, yet unwilling formally to withdraw them, the consul now wished to get rid of us altogether; but without being suspected of encouraging our escape. Thus only could we account for his conduct.

Some of the party, however, with a devotion to principle truly heroic, swore they would never leave him, happen what might. For my own part, I began to long for a change; and as there seemed to be no getting away in a ship, I resolved to hit upon some other expedient. But first, I cast about for a comrade; and of course the long doctor was chosen. We at once laid our heads together; and for the present, resolved to disclose nothing to the rest.

A few days previous, I had fallen in with a couple of Yankee lads, twins, who, originally deserting their ship at Tanning’s Island (an uninhabited spot, but exceedingly prolific in fruit of all kinds), had, after a long residence there, roved about among the Society group. They were last from Imeeo–the island immediately adjoining–where they had been in the employ of two foreigners who had recently started a plantation there. These persons, they said, had charged them to send over from Papeetee, if they could, two white men for field-labourers.

Now, all but the prospect of digging and delving suited us exactly; but the opportunity for leaving the island was not to be slighted; and so we held ourselves in readiness to return with the planters; who, in a day or two, were expected to visit Papeetee in their boat.

At the interview which ensued, we were introduced to them as Peter and Paul; and they agreed to give Peter and Paul fifteen silver dollars a month, promising something more should we remain with them permanently. What they wanted was men who would stay. To elude the natives–many of whom, not exactly understanding our relations with the consul, might arrest us, were they to see us departing–the coming midnight was appointed for that purpose.

When the hour drew nigh, we disclosed our intention to the rest. Some upbraided us for deserting them; others applauded, and said that, on the first opportunity, they would follow our example. At last, we bade them farewell. And there would now be a serene sadness in thinking over the scene–since we never saw them again–had not all been dashed by M’Gee’s picking the doctor’s pocket of a jack-knife, in the very act of embracing him.

We stole down to the beach, where, under the shadow of a grove, the boat was waiting. After some delay, we shipped the oars, and pulling outside of the reef, set the sail; and with a fair wind, glided away for Imeeo.

It was a pleasant trip. The moon was up–the air, warm–the waves, musical–and all above was the tropical night, one purple vault hung round with soft, trembling stars.

The channel is some five leagues wide. On one hand, you have the three great peaks of Tahiti lording it over ranges of mountains and valleys; and on the other, the equally romantic elevations of Imeeo, high above which a lone peak, called by our companions, “the Marling-pike,” shot up its verdant spire.

The planters were quite sociable. They had been sea-faring men, and this, of course, was a bond between us. To strengthen it, a flask of wine was produced, one of several which had been procured in person from the French admiral’s steward; for whom the planters, when on a former visit to Papeetee, had done a good turn, by introducing the amorous Frenchman to the ladies ashore. Besides this, they had a calabash filled with wild boar’s meat, baked yams, bread-fruit, and Tombez potatoes. Pipes and tobacco also were produced; and while regaling ourselves, plenty of stories were told about the neighbouring islands.

At last we heard the roar of the Imeeo reef; and gliding through a break, floated over the expanse within, which was smooth as a young girl’s brow, and beached the boat.

CHAPTER LII.

THE VALLEY OF MARTAIR

WE went up through groves to an open space, where we heard voices, and a light was seen glimmering from out a bamboo dwelling. It was the planters’ retreat; and in their absence, several girls were keeping house, assisted by an old native, who, wrapped up in tappa, lay in the corner, smoking.

A hasty meal was prepared, and after it we essayed a nap; but, alas! a plague, little anticipated, prevented. Unknown in Tahiti, the mosquitoes here fairly eddied round us. But more of them anon.

We were up betimes, and strolled out to view the country. We were in the valley of Martair; shut in, on both sides, by lofty hills. Here and there were steep cliffs, gay with flowering shrubs, or hung with pendulous vines, swinging blossoms in the air. Of considerable width at the sea, the vale contracts as it runs inland; terminating, at the distance of several miles, in a range of the most grotesque elevations, which seem embattled with turrets and towers, grown over with verdure, and waving with trees. The valley itself is a wilderness of woodland; with links of streams flashing through, and narrow pathways fairly tunnelled through masses of foliage.

All alone, in this wild place, was the abode of the planters; the only one back from the beach–their sole neighbours, the few fishermen and their families, dwelling in a small grove of cocoa-nut trees whose roots were washed by the sea.

The cleared tract which they occupied comprised some thirty acres, level as a prairie, part of which was under cultivation; the whole being fenced in by a stout palisade of trunks and boughs of trees staked firmly in the ground. This was necessary as a defence against the wild cattle and hogs overrunning the island.

Thus far, Tombez potatoes were the principal crop raised; a ready sale for them being obtained among the shipping touching at Papeetee. There was a small patch of the taro, or Indian turnip, also; another of yams; and in one corner, a thrifty growth of the sugar-cane, just ripening.

On the side of the inclosure next the sea was the house; newly built of bamboos, in the native style. The furniture consisted of a couple of sea-chests, an old box, a few cooking utensils, and agricultural tools; together with three fowling-pieces, hanging from a rafter; and two enormous hammocks swinging in opposite corners, and composed of dried bullocks’ hides, stretched out with poles.

The whole plantation was shut in by a dense forest; and, close by the house, a dwarfed “Aoa,” or species of banian-tree, had purposely been left twisting over the palisade, in the most grotesque manner, and thus made a pleasant shade. The branches of this curious tree afforded low perches, upon which the natives frequently squatted, after the fashion of their race, and smoked and gossiped by the hour.

We had a good breakfast of fish–speared by the natives, before sunrise, on the reef–pudding of Indian turnip, fried bananas, and roasted bread-fruit.

During the repast, our new friends were quite sociable and communicative. It seems that, like nearly all uneducated foreigners, residing in Polynesia, they had, some time previous, deserted from a ship; and, having heard a good deal about the money to be made by raising supplies for whaling-vessels, they determined upon embarking in the business. Strolling about, with this intention, they, at last, came to Martair; and, thinking the soil would suit, set themselves to work. They began by finding out the owner of the particular spot coveted, and then making a “tayo” of him.

He turned out to be Tonoi, the chief of the fishermen: who, one day, when exhilarated with brandy, tore his meagre tappa from his loins, and gave me to know that he was allied by blood with Pomaree herself; and that his mother came from the illustrious race of pontiffs, who, in old times, swayed their bamboo crosier over all the pagans of Imeeo. A regal, and right reverend lineage! But, at the time I speak of, the dusky noble was in decayed circumstances, and, therefore, by no means unwilling to alienate a few useless acres. As an equivalent, he received from the strangers two or three rheumatic old muskets, several red woollen shirts, and a promise to be provided for in his old age: he was always to find a home with the planters.

Desirous of living on the cosy footing of a father-in-law, he frankly offered his two daughters for wives; but as such, they were politely declined; the adventurers, though not averse to courting, being unwilling to entangle themselves in a matrimonial alliance, however splendid in point of family.

Tonoi’s men, the fishermen of the grove, were a sad set. Secluded, in a great measure, from the ministrations of the missionaries, they gave themselves up to all manner of lazy wickedness. Strolling among the trees of a morning, you came upon them napping on the shady side of a canoe hauled up among the bushes; lying on a tree smoking; or, more frequently still, gambling with pebbles; though, a little tobacco excepted, what they gambled for at their outlandish games, it would be hard to tell. Other idle diversions they had also, in which they seemed to take great delight. As for fishing, it employed but a small part of their time. Upon the whole, they were a merry, indigent, godless race.

Tonoi, the old sinner, leaning against the fallen trunk of a cocoa-nut tree, invariably squandered his mornings at pebbles; a gray-headed rook of a native regularly plucking him of every other stick of tobacco obtained from his friends, the planters. Toward afternoon, he strolled back to their abode; where he tarried till the next morning, smoking and snoozing, and, at times, prating about the hapless fortunes of the House of Tonoi. But like any other easy-going old dotard, he seemed for the most part perfectly content with cheerful board and lodging.

On the whole, the valley of Martair was the quietest place imaginable. Could the mosquitoes be induced to emigrate, one might spend the month of August there quite pleasantly. But this was not the case with the luckless Long Ghost and myself; as will presently be seen.

CHAPTER LIII.

FARMING IN POLYNESIA

THE planters were both whole-souled fellows; but, in other respects, as unlike as possible.

One was a tall, robust Yankee, hern in the backwoods of Maine, sallow, and with a long face;–the other was a short little Cockney, who had first clapped his eyes on the Monument.

The voice of Zeke, the Yankee, had a twang like a cracked viol; and Shorty (as his comrade called him), clipped the aspirate from every word beginning with one. The latter, though not the tallest man in the world, was a good-looking young fellow of twenty-five. His cheeks were dyed with the fine Saxon red, burned deeper from his roving life: his blue eye opened well, and a profusion of fair hair curled over a well-shaped head.

But Zeke was no beauty. A strong, ugly man, he was well adapted for manual labour; and that was all. His eyes were made to see with, and not for ogling. Compared with the Cockney, he was grave, and rather taciturn; but there was a deal of good old humour bottled up in him, after all. For the rest, he was frank, good-hearted, shrewd, and resolute; and like Shorty, quite illiterate.

Though a curious conjunction, the pair got along together famously. But, as no two men were ever united in any enterprise without one getting the upper hand of the other, so in most matters Zeke had his own way. Shorty, too, had imbibed from him a spirit of invincible industry; and Heaven only knows what ideas of making a fortune on their plantation.

We were much concerned at this; for the prospect of their setting us, in their own persons, an example of downright hard labour, was anything but agreeable. But it was now too late to repent what we had done.

The first day–thank fortune–we did nothing. Having treated us as guests thus far, they no doubt thought it would be wanting in delicacy to set us to work before the compliments of the occasion were well over. The next morning, however, they both looked business-like, and we were put to.

“Wall, b’ys” (boys), said Zeke, knocking the ashes out of his pipe, after breakfast–“we must get at it. Shorty, give Peter there (the doctor), the big hoe, and Paul the other, and let’s be off.” Going to a corner, Shorty brought forth three of the implements; and distributing them impartially, trudged on after his partner, who took the lead with something in the shape of an axe.

For a moment left alone in the house, we looked at each other, quaking. We were each equipped with a great, clumsy piece of a tree, armed at one end with a heavy, flat mass of iron.

The cutlery part–especially adapted to a primitive soil–was an importation from Sydney; the handles must have been of domestic manufacture. “Hoes”–so called–we had heard of, and seen; but they were harmless in comparison with the tools in our hands.

“What’s to be done with them?” inquired I of Peter.

“Lift them up and down,” he replied; “or put them in motion some way or other. Paul, we are in a scrape–but hark! they are calling;” and shouldering the hoes, off we marched.’

Our destination was the farther side of the plantation, where the ground, cleared in part, had not yet been broken up; but they were now setting about it. Upon halting, I asked why a plough was not used; some of the young wild steers might be caught and trained for draught.

Zeke replied that, for such a purpose, no cattle, to his knowledge, had ever been used in any part of Polynesia. As for the soil of Martair, so obstructed was it with roots, crossing and recrossing each other at all points, that no kind of a plough could be used to advantage. The heavy Sydney hoes were the only thing for such land.

Our work was now before us; but, previous to commencing operations, I endeavoured to engage the Yankee in a little further friendly chat concerning the nature of virgin soils in general, and that of the valley of Martair in particular. So masterly a stratagem made Long Ghost brighten up; and he stood by ready to join in. But what our friend had to say about agriculture all referred to the particular part of his plantation upon which we stood; and having communicated enough on this head to enable us to set to work to the best advantage, he fell to, himself; and Shorty, who had been looking on, followed suit.

The surface, here and there, presented closely amputated branches of what had once been a dense thicket. They seemed purposely left projecting, as if to furnish a handle whereby to drag out the roots beneath. After loosening the hard soil, by dint of much thumping and pounding, the Yankee jerked one of the roots this way and that, twisting it round and round, and then tugging at it horizontally.

“Come! lend us a hand!” he cried, at last; and running up, we all four strained away in concert. The tough obstacle convulsed the surface with throes and spasms; but stuck fast, notwithstanding.

“Dumn it!” cried Zeke, “we’ll have to get a rope; run to the house, Shorty, and fetch one.”

The end of this being attached, we took plenty of room, and strained away once more.

“Give us a song, Shorty,” said the doctor; who was rather sociable, on a short acquaintance. Where the work to be accomplished is any way difficult, this mode of enlivening toil is quite efficacious among sailors. So willing to make everything as cheerful as possible, Shorty struck up, “Were you ever in Dumbarton?” a marvellously inspiring, but somewhat indecorous windlass chorus.

At last, the Yankee cast a damper on his enthusiasm by exclaiming, in a pet, “Oh! dumn your singing! keep quiet, and pull away!” This we now did, in the most uninteresting silence; until, with a jerk that made every elbow hum, the root dragged out; and most inelegantly, we all landed upon the ground. The doctor, quite exhausted, stayed there; and, deluded into believing that, after so doughty a performance, we would be allowed a cessation of toil, took off his hat, and fanned himself.

“Rayther a hard customer, that, Peter,” observed the Yankee, going up to him: “but it’s no use for any on ’em to hang back; for I’m dumned if they hain’t got to come out, whether or no. Hurrah! let’s get at it agin!”

“Mercy!” ejaculated the doctor, rising slowly, and turning round. “He’ll be the death of us!”

Falling to with our hoes again, we worked singly, or together, as occasion required, until “Nooning Time” came.

The period, so called by the planters, embraced about three hours in the middle of the day; during which it was so excessively hot, in this still, brooding valley, shut out from the Trades, and only open toward the leeward side of the island, that labour in the sun was out of the question. To use a hyperbolical phrase of Shorty’s, “It was ‘ot enough to melt the nose h’off a brass monkey.”

Returning to the house, Shorty, assisted by old Tonoi, cooked the dinner; and, after we had all partaken thereof, both the Cockney and Zeke threw themselves into one of the hammocks, inviting us to occupy the other. Thinking it no bad idea, we did so; and, after skirmishing with the mosquitoes, managed to fall into a doze. As for the planters, more accustomed to “Nooning,” they, at once, presented a nuptial back to each other; and were soon snoring away at a great rate. Tonoi snoozed on a mat, in one corner.

At last, we were roused by Zeke’s crying out, “Up b’ys; up! rise, and shine; time to get at it agin!”

Looking at the doctor, I perceived, very plainly, that he had decided upon something.

In a languid voice, he told Zeke that he was not very well: indeed, that he had not been himself for some time past; though a little rest, no doubt, would recruit him. The Yankee thinking, from this, that our valuable services might be lost to him altogether, were he too hard upon us at the outset, at once begged us both to consult our own feelings, and not exert ourselves for the present, unless we felt like it. Then–without recognizing the fact that my comrade claimed to be actually unwell–he simply suggested that, since he was so tired, he had better, perhaps, swing in his hammock for the rest of the day. If agreeable, however, I myself might accompany him upon a little bullock-hunting excursion in the neighbouring hills. In this proposition, I gladly acquiesced; though Peter, who was a great sportsman, put on a long face. The muskets and ammunition were forthwith got from overhead; and, everything being then ready, Zeke cried out, “Tonoi! come; aramai! (get up) we want you for pilot. Shorty, my lad, look arter things, you know; and if you likes, why, there’s them roots in the field yonder.”

Having thus arranged his domestic affairs to please himself, though little to Shorty’s satisfaction, I thought, he slung his powder-horn over his shoulder, and we started. Tonoi was, at once, sent on in advance; and leaving the plantation, he struck into a path which led toward the mountains.

After hurrying through the thickets for some time, we came out into the sunlight, in an open glade, just under the shadow of the hills. Here, Zeke pointed aloft to a beetling crag far distant, where a bullock, with horns thrown back, stood like a statue.

CHAPTER LIV.

SOME ACCOUNT OF THE WILD CATTLE IN POLYNESIA

BEFORE we proceed further, a word or two concerning these wild cattle, and the way they came on the island.

Some fifty years ago, Vancouver left several bullocks, sheep and goats, at various places in the Society group. He instructed the natives to look after the animals carefully; and by no means to slaughter any until a considerable stock had accumulated.

The sheep must have died off: for I never saw a solitary fleece in any part of Polynesia. The pair left were an ill-assorted couple, perhaps; separated in disgust, and died without issue.

As for the goats, occasionally you come across a black, misanthropic ram, nibbling the scant herbage of some height inaccessible to man, in preference to the sweet grasses of the valley below. The goats are not very numerous.

The bullocks, coming of a prolific ancestry, are a hearty set, racing over the island of Imeeo in considerable numbers, though in Tahiti but few of them are seen. At the former place, the original pair must have scampered off to the interior since it is now so thickly populated by their wild progeny. The herds are the private property of Queen Pomaree; from whom the planters had obtained permission to shoot for their own use as many as they pleased.

The natives stand in great awe of these cattle; and for this reason are excessively timid in crossing the island, preferring rather to sail round to an opposite village in their canoes.

Tonoi abounded in bullock stories; most of which, by the bye, had a spice of the marvellous. The following is one of these.

Once upon a time, he was going over the hills with a brother–now no more–when a great bull came bellowing out of a wood, and both took to their heels. The old chief sprang into a tree; his companion, flying in an opposite direction, was pursued, and, in the very act of reaching up to a bough, trampled underfoot. The unhappy man was then gored–tossed in the air–and finally run away with on the bull’s horns. More dead than alive, Tonoi waited till all was over, and then made the best of his way home. The neighbours, armed with two or three muskets, at once started to recover, if possible, his unfortunate brother’s remains. At nightfall, they returned without discovering any trace of him; but the next morning, Tonoi himself caught a glimpse of the bullock, marching across the mountain’s brow, with a long dark object borne aloft on his horns.

Having referred to Vancouver’s attempts to colonize the islands with useful quadrupeds, we may as well say something concerning his success upon Hawaii, one of the largest islands in the whole Polynesian Archipelago; and which gives the native name to the well-known cluster named by Cook in honour of Lord Sandwich.

Hawaii is some one hundred leagues in circuit, and covers an area of over four thousand miles. Until within a few years past, its interior was almost unknown, even to the inhabitants themselves, who, for ages, had been prevented from wandering thither by certain strange superstitions. Pelee, the terrific goddess of the volcanoes Mount Eoa and Mount Kea, was supposed to guard all the passes to the extensive valleys lying round their base. There are legends of her having chased with streams of fire several impious adventurers. Near Hilo, a jet-black cliff is shown, with the vitreous torrent apparently pouring over into the sea: just as it cooled after one of these supernatural eruptions.

To these inland valleys, and the adjoining hillsides, which are clothed in the most luxuriant vegetation, Vancouver’s bullocks soon wandered; and unmolested for a long period, multiplied in vast herds.

Some twelve or fifteen years ago, the natives lost sight of their superstitions, and learning the value of the hides in commerce, began hunting the creatures that wore them; but being very fearful and awkward in a business so novel, their success was small; and it was not until the arrival of a party of Spanish hunters, men regularly trained to their calling upon the plains of California, that the work of slaughter was fairly begun.

The Spaniards were showy fellows, tricked out in gay blankets, leggings worked with porcupine quills, and jingling spurs. Mounted upon trained Indian mares, these heroes pursued their prey up to the very base of the burning mountains; making the profoundest solitudes ring with their shouts, and flinging the lasso under the very nose of the vixen goddess Pelee. Hilo, a village upon the coast, was their place of resort; and thither flocked roving whites from all the islands of the group. As pupils of the dashing Spaniards, many of these dissipated fellows, quaffing too freely of the stirrup-cup, and riding headlong after the herds, when they reeled in the saddle, were unhorsed and killed.

This was about the year 1835, when the present king, Tammahamaha III., was a lad. With royal impudence laying claim to the sole property of the cattle, he was delighted with the idea of receiving one of every two silver dollars paid down for their hides; so, with no thought for the future, the work of extermination went madly on. In three years’ time, eighteen thousand bullocks were slain, almost entirely upon the single island of Hawaii.

The herds being thus nearly destroyed, the sagacious young prince imposed a rigorous “taboo” upon the few surviving cattle, which was to remain in force for ten years. During this period–not yet expired –all hunting is forbidden, unless directly authorized by the king.

The massacre of the cattle extended to the hapless goats. In one year, three thousand of their skins were sold to the merchants of Honolulu, fetching a quartila, or a shilling sterling apiece.

After this digression, it is time to run on after Tonoi and the Yankee.

CHAPTER LV.

A HUNTING RAMBLE WITH ZEKE

AT THE foot of the mountain, a steep path went up among rocks and clefts mantled with verdure. Here and there were green gulfs, down which it made one giddy to peep. At last we gained an overhanging, wooded shelf of land which crowned the heights; and along this, the path, well shaded, ran like a gallery.

In every direction the scenery was enchanting. There was a low, rustling breeze; and below, in the vale, the leaves were quivering; the sea lay, blue and serene, in the distance; and inland the surface swelled up, ridge after ridge, and peak upon peak, all bathed in the Indian haze of the Tropics, and dreamy to look upon. Still valleys, leagues away, reposed in the deep shadows of the mountains; and here and there, waterfalls lifted up their voices in the solitude. High above all, and central, the “Marling-spike” lifted its finger. Upon the hillsides, small groups of bullocks were seen; some quietly browsing; others slowly winding into the valleys.

We went on, directing our course for a slope of these hills, a mile or two further, where the nearest bullocks were seen.

We were cautious in keeping to the windward of them; their sense of smell and hearing being, like those of all wild creatures, exceedingly acute.

As there was no knowing that we might not surprise some other kind of game in the coverts through which we were passing, we crept along warily.

The wild hogs of the island are uncommonly fierce; and as they often attack the natives, I could not help following Tonoi’s example of once in a while peeping in under the foliage. Frequent retrospective glances also served to assure me that our retreat was not cut off.

As we rounded a clump of bushes, a noise behind them, like the crackling of dry branches, broke the stillness. In an instant, Tonoi’s hand was on a bough, ready for a spring, and Zeke’s finger touched the trigger of his piece. Again the stillness was broken; and thinking it high time to get ready, I brought my musket to my shoulder.

“Look sharp!” cried the Yankee; and dropping on one knee, he brushed the twigs aside. Presently, off went his piece; and with a wild snort, a black, bristling boar–his cherry red lip curled up by two glittering tusks–dashed, unharmed, across the path, and crashed through the opposite thicket. I saluted him with a charge as he disappeared; but not the slightest notice was taken of the civility.

By this time, Tonoi, the illustrious descendant of the Bishops of Imeeo, was twenty feet from the ground. “Aramai! come down, you old fool!” cried the Yankee; “the pesky critter’s on t’other side of the island afore this.”

“I rayther guess,” he continued, as we began reloading, “that we’ve spoiled sport by firing at that ‘ere tarnal hog. Them bullocks heard the racket, and are flinging their tails about now on the keen jump. Quick, Paul, and let’s climb that rock yonder, and see if so be there’s any in sight.”

But none were to be seen, except at such a distance that they looked like ants.

As evening was now at hand, my companion proposed our returning home forthwith; and then, after a sound night’s rest, starting in the morning upon a good day’s hunt with the whole force of the plantation.

Following another pass in descending into the valley, we passed through some nobly wooded land on the face of the mountain.

One variety of tree particularly attracted my attention. The dark mossy stem, over seventy feet high, was perfectly branchless for many feet above the ground, when it shot out in broad boughs laden with lustrous leaves of the deepest green. And all round the lower part of the trunk, thin, slab-like buttresses of bark, perfectly smooth, and radiating from a common centre, projected along the ground for at least two yards. From below, these natural props tapered upward until gradually blended with the trunk itself. There were signs of the wild cattle having sheltered themselves behind them. Zeke called this the canoe tree; as in old times it supplied the navies of the Kings of Tahiti. For canoe building, the woods is still used. Being extremely dense, and impervious to worms, it is very durable.

Emerging from the forest, when half-way down the hillside, we came upon an open space, covered with ferns and grass, over which a few lonely trees were casting long shadows in the setting sun. Here, a piece of ground some hundred feet square, covered with weeds and brambles, and sounding hollow to the tread, was inclosed by a ruinous wall of stones. Tonoi said it was an almost forgotten burial-place, of great antiquity, where no one had been interred since the islanders had been Christians. Sealed up in dry, deep vaults, many a dead heathen was lying here.

Curious to prove the old man’s statement, I was anxious to get a peep at the catacombs; but hermetically overgrown with vegetation as they were, no aperture was visible.

Before gaining the level of the valley, we passed by the site of a village, near a watercourse, long since deserted. There was nothing but stone walls, and rude dismantled foundations of houses, constructed of the same material. Large trees and brushwood were growing rankly among them.

I asked Tonoi how long it was since anyone had lived here. “Me, tammaree (boy)–plenty kannaker (men) Martair,” he replied. “Now, only poor pehe kannaka (fishermen) left–me born here.”

Going down the valley, vegetation of every kind presented a different aspect from that of the high land.

Chief among the trees of the plain on this island is the “Ati,” large and lofty, with a massive trunk, and broad, laurel-shaped leaves. The wood is splendid. In Tahiti, I was shown a narrow, polished plank fit to make a cabinet for a king. Taken from the heart of the tree, it was of a deep, rich scarlet, traced with yellow veins, and in some places clouded with hazel.

In the same grove with the regal “AH” you may see the beautiful flowering “Hotoo”; its pyramid of shining leaves diversified with numberless small, white blossoms.

Planted with trees as the valley is almost throughout its entire length, I was astonished to observe so very few which were useful to the natives: not one in a hundred was a cocoa-nut or bread-fruit tree.

But here Tonoi again enlightened me. In the sanguinary religious hostilities which ensued upon the conversion of Christianity of the first Pomaree, a war-party from Tahiti destroyed (by “girdling” the bark) entire groves of these invaluable trees. For some time afterwards they stood stark and leafless in the sun; sad monuments of the fate which befell the inhabitants of the valley.

CHAPTER LVI.

MOSQUITOES

THE NIGHT following the hunting trip, Long Ghost and myself, after a valiant defence, had to fly the house on account of the mosquitoes.

And here I cannot avoid relating a story, rife among the natives, concerning the manner in which these insects were introduced upon the island.

Some years previous, a whaling captain, touching at an adjoining bay, got into difficulty with its inhabitants, and at last carried his complaint before one of the native tribunals; but receiving no satisfaction, and deeming himself aggrieved, he resolved upon taking signal revenge. One night, he towed a rotten old water-cask ashore, and left it in a neglected Taro patch where the ground was warm and moist. Hence the mosquitoes.

I tried my best to learn the name of this man; and hereby do what I can to hand it down to posterity. It was Coleman–Nathan Cole-man. The ship belonged to Nantucket.

When tormented by the mosquitoes, I found much relief in coupling the word “Coleman” with another of one syllable, and pronouncing them together energetically.

The doctor suggested a walk to the beach, where there was a long, low shed tumbling to pieces, but open lengthwise to a current of air which he thought might keep off the mosquitoes. So thither we went.

The ruin partially sheltered a relic of times gone by, which, a few days after, we examined with much curiosity. It was an old war-canoe, crumbling to dust. Being supported by the same rude blocks upon which, apparently, it had years before been hollowed out, in all probability it had never been afloat.

Outside, it seemed originally stained of a green colour, which, here and there, was now changed into a dingy purple. The prow terminated in a high, blunt beak; both sides were covered with carving; and upon the stern, was something which Long Ghost maintained to be the arms of the royal House of Pomaree. The device had an heraldic look, certainly–being two sharks with the talons of hawks clawing a knot left projecting from the wood.

The canoe was at least forty feet long, about two wide, and four deep. The upper part–consisting of narrow planks laced together with cords of sinnate–had in many places fallen off, and lay decaying upon the ground. Still, there were ample accommodations left for sleeping; and in we sprang–the doctor into the bow, and I into the stern. I soon fell asleep; but waking suddenly, cramped in every joint from my constrained posture, I thought, for an instant, that I must have been prematurely screwed down in my coffin.

Presenting my compliments to Long Ghost, I asked how it fared with him.

“Bad enough,” he replied, as he tossed about in the outlandish rubbish lying in the bottom of our couch. “Pah! how these old mats smell!”

As he continued talking in this exciting strain for some time, I at last made no reply, having resumed certain mathematical reveries to induce repose. But finding the multiplication table of no avail, I summoned up a grayish image of chaos in a sort of sliding fluidity, and was just falling into a nap on the strength of it, when I heard a solitary and distinct buzz. The hour of my calamity was at hand. One blended hum, the creature darted into the canoe like a small swordfish; and I out of it.

Upon getting into the open air, to my surprise, there was Long Ghost, fanning himself wildly with an old paddle. He had just made a noiseless escape from a swarm which had attacked his own end of the canoe.

It was now proposed to try the water; so a small fishing canoe, hauled up near by, was quickly launched; and paddling a good distance off, we dropped overboard the native contrivance for an anchor–a heavy stone, attached to a cable of braided bark. At this part of the island the encircling reef was close to the shore, leaving the water within smooth, and extremely shallow.

It was a blessed thought! We knew nothing till sunrise, when the motion of our aquatic cot awakened us. I looked up, and beheld Zeke wading toward the shore, and towing us after him by the bark cable. Pointing to the reef, he told us we had had a narrow escape.

It was true enough; the water-sprites had rolled our stone out of its noose, and we had floated away.

CHAPTER LVII.

THE SECOND HUNT IN THE MOUNTAINS

FAIR dawned, over the hills of Martair, the jocund morning of our hunt.

Everything had been prepared for it overnight; and, when we arrived at the house, a good breakfast was spread by Shorty: and old Tonoi was bustling about like an innkeeper. Several of his men, also, were in attendance to accompany us with calabashes of food; and, in case we met with any success, to officiate as bearers of burdens on our return.

Apprised, the evening previous, of the meditated sport, the doctor had announced his willingness to take part therein.

Now, subsequent events made us regard this expedition as a shrewd device of the Yankee’s. Once get us off on a pleasure trip, and with what face could we afterward refuse to work? Beside, he enjoyed all the credit of giving us a holiday. Nor did he omit assuring us that, work or play, our wages were all the while running on.

A dilapidated old musket of Tonoi’s was borrowed for the doctor. It was exceedingly short and heavy, with a clumsy lock, which required a strong finger to pull the trigger. On trying the piece by firing at a mark, Long Ghost was satisfied that it could not fail of doing execution: the charge went one way, and he the other.

Upon this, he endeavoured to negotiate an exchange of muskets with Shorty; but the Cockney was proof against his blandishments; at last, he intrusted his weapon to one of the natives to carry for him.