by Herman Melville PREFACE MORE than three years have elapsed since the occurrence of the events recorded
in this volume. The interval, with the exception of the last few months, has
been chiefly spent by the author tossing about on the wide ocean. Sailors are
the only class of men who now-a-days see anything like stirring adventure; and
many things which to fire-side people appear strange and romantic, to them seem
as commonplace as a jacket out at elbows. Yet, notwithstanding the familiarity
of sailors with all sorts of curious adventure, the incidents recorded in the
following pages have often served, when "spun as a yarn," not only to
relieve the weariness of many a night-watch at sea, but to excite the warmest
sympathies of the author's shipmates. He has been, therefore, led to think that
his story could scarcely fail to interest those who are less familiar than the
sailor with a life of adventure.
In his account of the singular and interesting people among whom he was thrown,
it will be observed that he chiefly treats of their more obvious peculiarities;
and, in describing their customs, refrains in most cases from entering into
explanations concerning their origin and purposes. As writers of travels among
barbarous communities are generally very diffuse on these subjects, he deems it
right to advert to what may be considered a culpable omission. No one can be
more sensible than the author of his deficiencies in this and many other
respects; but when the very peculiar circumstances in which he was placed are
understood, he feels assured that all these omissions will be excused. In very many published narratives no little degree of attention is bestowed
upon dates; but as the author lost all knowledge of the days of the week,
during the occurrence of the scenes herein related, he hopes that the reader
will charitably pass over his shortcomings in this particular.
In the Polynesian words used in this volume – except in those cases where the
spelling has been previously determined by others – that form of orthography
has been employed which might be supposed most easily to convey their sound to
a stranger. In several works descriptive of the islands in the Pacific, many of
the most beautiful combinations of vocal sounds have been altogether lost to
the ear of the reader by an over-attention to the ordinary rules of spelling. There are some things related in the narrative which will be sure to appear
strange, or perhaps entirely incomprehensible, to the reader; but they cannot
appear more so to him than they did to the author at the time. He has stated
such matters just as they occurred, and leaves every one to form his own
opinion concerning them, trusting that his anxious desire to speak the
unvarnished truth will gain for him the confidence of his readers.
A LAND-SICK SHIP
SIX months at sea! Yes, reader, as I live, six months out of sight of land;
cruising after the sperm whale beneath the scorching sun of the Line, and
tossed on the billows of the wide-rolling Pacific – the sky above, the sea
around, and nothing else! Weeks and weeks ago our fresh provisions were all
exhausted. There is not a sweet potato left; not a sweet potato left; not a
single yam. Those glorious bunches of bananas which once decorated our stern
and quarter-deck, have, alas, disappeared! and the delicious oranges which hung
suspended from our tops and stays – they, too, are gone! Yes, they are all
departed, and there is nothing left us but salt-horse and sea-biscuit.
Oh! for a refreshing glimpse of one blade of grass – for a snuff at the
fragrance of a handful of the loamy earth! Is there nothing fresh around us? Is
there no green thing to be seen? Yes, the inside of our bulwarks is painted
green; but what a vile and sickly hue it is, as if nothing bearing even the
semblance of verdure could flourish this weary way from land. Even the bark
that once clung to the wood we use for fuel has been gnawed off and devoured by
the captain's pig; and so long ago, too, that the pig himself has in turn been
There is but one solitary tenant in the chicken-coop, once a gay and dapper
young cock, bearing him so bravely among the coy hens. But look at him now;
there he stands, moping all the day long on that everlasting one leg of his. He
turns with disgust from the mouldy corn before him, and the brackish water in
his little trough. He mourns no doubt his lost companions, literally snatched
from him one by one, and never seen again. But his days of mourning will be
few; for Mungo, our black cook, told me yesterday that the word had at last
gone forth, and poor Pedro's fate was sealed. His attenuated body will be laid
out upon the captain's table next Sunday, and long before night will be buried,
with all the usual ceremonies, beneath that worthy individual's vest. Who would
believe that there could be any one so cruel as to long for the decapitation of
the luckless Pedro; yet the sailors pray every minute, selfish fellows, that
the miserable fowl may be brought to his end. They say the captain will never
point the ship for the land so long as he has in anticipation a mess of fresh
meat. This unhappy bird can alone furnish it; and when he is once devoured, the
Peter; captain will come to his senses. I wish thee no harm, Peter; but as thou
art doomed, sooner or later, to meet the fate of all thy race; and if putting a
period to thy existence is to be the signal for our deliverance, why – truth to
speak – I wish thy throat cut this very moment; for, oh! how I wish to see the
living earth again! The old ship herself longs to look out upon the land from
her hawseholes once more; and Jack Lewis said right the other day when the
captain found fault with his steering.
"Why, d'ye see, Captain Vangs," says bold Jack, "I'm as good a
helmsman as ever put hand to spoke; but none of us can steer the old lady now.
We can't keep her full and bye, sir: watch her ever so close, she will fall
off; and then, sir, when I put the helm down so gently, and try like to coax
her to the work, she won't take it kindly, but will fall round off again; and
it's all because she knows the land is under the lee, sir, and she won't go any
more to windward." Ay, and why should she, Jack? didn't every one of her
stout timbers grow on shore, and hasn't she sensibilities as well as we?
Poor old ship! Her very looks denote her desires: how deplorable she appears!
The paint on her sides, burnt up by the scorching sun, is puffed out and
cracked. See the weeds she trails along with her, and what an unsightly bunch
of these horrid barnacles has formed about her stern-piece; and every time she
shows her copper torn, away or hanging in jagged strips.
Poor old ship! I say again: for six months she has been rolling and pitching
about, never for one moment at rest. But courage, old lass, I hope to see thee
soon within a biscuit's toss of the merry land, riding snugly at anchor in some
green cove, and sheltered from the boisterous winds.
"Hurrah, my lads! It's a settled thing; next week we shape our course to
the Marquesas!" The Marquesas! What strange visions of outlandish things
does the very name spirit up! Lovely houris – cannibal banquets – groves of
cocoa-nuts – coral reefs – tattooed chiefs – and bamboo temples; sunny valleys
planted with bread-fruit trees – carved canoes dancing on the flashing blue
waters – savage woodlands guarded by horrible idols – heathenish rites and
Such were the strangely jumbled anticipations that haunted me during our
passage from the cruising ground. I felt an irresistible curiosity to see those
islands which the olden voyagers had so glowingly described.
The group for which we were now steering (although among the earliest of
European discoveries in the South Seas, having been first visited in the year
1595) still continues to be tenanted by beings as strange and barbarous as
ever. The missionaries, sent on a heavenly errand, had sailed by their lovely
shores, and had abandoned them to their idols of wood and stone. How
interesting the circumstances under which they were discovered! In the watery
path of Mendanna, cruising in quest of some region of gold, these isles had
sprung up like a scene of enchantment, and for a moment the Spaniard believed
his bright dream was realized. In honour of the Marquess de Mendoza, then
viceroy of Peru – under whose auspices the navigator sailed – he bestowed upon
them the name which denoted the rank of his patron, and gave to the world, on
his return, a vague and magnificent account of their beauty. But these islands,
undisturbed for years, relapsed into their previous obscurity; and it is only
recently that anything has been known concerning them. Once in the course of a
half century, to be sure, some adventurous rover would break in upon their
peaceful repose, and, astonished at the unusual scene, would be almost tempted
to claim the merit of a new discovery.
Of this interesting group, but little account has ever been given, if we except
the slight mention made of them in the sketches of South Sea voyages. Cook, in
his repeated circumnavigations of the globe, barely touched at their shores;
and all that we know about them is from a few general narratives.
Within the last few years, American and English vessels engaged in the
extensive whale fisheries of the Pacific have occasionally, when short of
provisions, put into the commodious harbour which there is in one of the
islands; but a fear of the natives, founded on the recollection of the dreadful
fate which many white men have received at their hands, has deterred their
crews from intermixing with the population sufficiently to gain any insight
into their peculiar customs and manners. Indeed, there is no duster of islands
in the Pacific that has been any length of time discovered, of which so little
has hitherto been known as the Marquesas, and it is a pleasing reflection that
this narrative of mine will do something towards withdrawing the veil from
regions so romantic and beautiful.
THE BAY OF NAKUHEVA
I CAN never forget the eighteen or twenty days during which the light
trade-winds were silently sweeping us towards the islands. In pursuit of the
sperm whale, we had been cruising on the Line some twenty degrees to the
westward of the Gallipagos; and all that we had to do, when our course was
determined on, was to square in the yards and keep the vessel before the breeze,
and then the good ship and the steady gale did the rest between them. The man
at the wheel never vexed the old lady with any superfluous steering, but
comfortably adjusting his limbs at the tiller, would doze away by the hour.
True to her work, the Dolly headed to her course, and like one of those
characters who always do best when let alone, she jogged on her way like a
veteran old sea-pacer as she was.
What a delightful, lazy, languid time we had whilst we were thus gliding along!
There was nothing to be done; a circumstance that happily suited our
disinclination to do anything. We abandoned the fore-peak altogether, and
spreading an awning over the forecastle, slept, ate, and lounged under it the
live-long day. Every one seemed to be under the influence of some narcotic.
Even the officers aft, whose duty required them never to be seated while
keeping a deck watch, vainly endeavoured to keep on their pins; and were
obliged invariably to compromise the matter by leaning up against the bulwarks,
and gazing abstractedly over the side. Reading was out of the question; take a
book in your hand, and you were asleep in an instant.
Although I could not avoid yielding in a great measure to the general languor,
still at times I contrived to shake off the spell, and to appreciate the beauty
of the scene around me. The sky presented a clear expanse of the most delicate
blue, except along the skirts of the horizon, where you might see a thin
drapery of pale clouds which never varied their form or colour. The long, measured,
dirge-like swell of the Pacific came rolling along, with its surface broken by
little tiny waves, sparkling in the sunshine. Every now and then a shoal of
flying fish, scared from the water under the bows, would leap into the air, and
fall the next moment like a shower of silver into the sea. Then you would see
the superb albicore, with his glittering sides, sailing aloft, and after
describing an arc in his descent, disappear on the surface of the water. Far
off, the lofty jet of the whale might be seen, and nearer at hand the prowling
shark, that villanous footpad of the seas, would come skulking along, and, at a
wary distance, regard us with an evil eye. At times, some shapeless monster of
the deep, floating on the surface, would, as we approached, sink slowly into
the blue waters, and fade away from the sight. But the most impressive feature
of the scene was the almost unbroken silence that reigned over sky and water.
Scarcely a sound could be heard but the occasional breathing of the grampus,
and the rippling at the cut-water.
As we drew nearer the land, I hailed with delight the appearance of innumerable
sea-fowl. Screaming and whirling in spiral tracks, they would accompany the
vessel, and at times alight on our yards and stays. That piratical-looking
fellow, appropriately named the man-of-war's-hawk, with his blood-red bill and
raven plumage, would come sweeping round us in gradually diminishing circles,
till you could distinctly mark the strange flashings of his eye; and then, as
if satisfied with his observation, would sail up into the air and disappear
from the view. Soon, other evidences of our vicinity to the land were apparent,
and it was not long before the glad announcement of its being in sight was
heard from aloft, – given with that peculiar prolongation of sound that a
sailor loves – "Land ho!"
The captain, darting on deck from the cabin, bawled lustily for his spy-glass;
the mate in still louder accents hailed the mast-head with a tremendous
"Where-away?" The black cook thrust his woolly head from the galley,
and Boatswain, the dog, leaped up between the knightheads, and barked most
furiously. Land ho! Ay, there it was. A hardly perceptible blue irregular
outline, indicating the bold contour of the lofty heights of Nukuheva.
This island, although generally called one of the Marquesas, is by some
navigators considered as forming one of a distinct cluster, comprising the
islands of Roohka, Ropo, and Nukuheva; upon which three the appellation of the
Washington Group has been bestowed. They form a triangle, and lie within the
parallels of 8 deg. 38' and 9 deg. 32' south latitude, and 139 deg. 20' and 140
deg. 10' west longitude, from Greenwich. With how little propriety they are to
be regarded as forming a separate group will be at once apparent, when it is
considered that they lie in the immediate vicinity of the other islands, that
is to say, less than a degree to the north-west of them; that their inhabitants
speak the Marquesan dialect, and that their laws, religion, and general customs
are identical. The only reason why they were ever thus arbitrarily
distinguished, may be attributed to the singular fact, that their existence was
altogether unknown to the world until the year 1791, when they were discovered
by Captain Ingraham, of Boston, Massachusetts, nearly two centuries after the
discovery of the adjacent islands by the agent of the Spanish Viceroy.
Notwithstanding this, I shall follow the example of most voyagers, and treat of
them as forming part and parcel of the Marquesas.
Nukuheva is the most important of these islands, being the only one at which
ships are much in the habit of touching, and is celebrated as being the place
where the adventurous Captain Porter refitted his ships during the late war
between England and the United States, and whence he sallied out upon the large
whaling fleet then sailing under the enemy's flag in the surrounding seas. This
island is about twenty miles in length, and nearly as many in breadth. It has
three good harbours on its coast, the largest and best of which is called by
the people living in its vicinity, "Tyohee," and by Captain Porter
was denominated Massachusetts Bay. Among the adverse tribes dwelling about the
shores of the other bays, and by all voyagers, it is generally known by the
name bestowed upon the island itself – Nukuheva. Its inhabitants have become
somewhat corrupted, owing to their recent commerce with Europeans; but so far
as regards their peculiar customs, and general mode of life, they retain their
original primitive character, remaining very nearly in the same state of nature
in which they were first beheld by white men. The hostile clans, residing in
the more remote sections of the island, and very seldom holding any
communication with foreigners, are in every respect unchanged from their
earliest known condition.
In the bay of Nukuheva was the anchorage we desired to reach. We had perceived
the loom of the mountains about sunset; so that, after running all night with a
very light breeze, we found ourselves close in with the island the next
morning; but as the bay we sought lay on its farther side, we were obliged to
sail some distance along the shore, catching, as we proceeded, short glimpses
of blooming valleys, deep glens, waterfalls, and waving groves, hidden here and
there by projecting and rocky headlands, every moment opening to the view some
new and startling scene of beauty.
Those who for the first time visit the South Seas, generally are surprised at
the appearance of the islands when beheld from the sea. From the vague accounts
we sometimes have of their beauty, many people are apt to picture to themselves
enamelled and softly swelling plains, shaded over with delicious groves, and
watered by purling brooks, and the entire country but little elevated above the
surrounding ocean. The reality is very different; bold rock-bound coasts, with
the surf beating high against the lofty cliffs, and broken here and there into
deep inlets, which open to the view thickly-wooded valleys, separated by the
spurs of mountains clothed with tufted grass, and sweeping down towards the sea
from an elevated and furrowed interior, form the principal features of these
Towards noon we drew abreast the entrance to the harbour, and at last we slowly
swept by the intervening promontory, and entered the bay of Nukuheva. No
description can do justice to its beauty; but that beauty was lost to me then,
and I saw nothing but the tri-coloured flag of France, trailing over the stern
of six vessels, whose black hulls, and bristling broadsides, proclaimed their
warlike character. There they were, floating in that lovely bay, the green
eminences of the shore looking down so tranquilly upon them, as if rebuking the
sternness of their aspect. To my eye, nothing could be more out of keeping than
the presence of these vessels; but we soon learnt what brought them there. The
whole group of islands had just been taken possession of by Rear-Admiral Du
Petit-Thouars, in the name of the invincible French nation.
This item of information was imparted to us by a most extraordinary individual,
a genuine South Sea vagabond, who came alongside of us in a whale-boat as soon
as we entered the bay, and, by the aid of some benevolent persons at the
gangway, was assisted on board, for our visitor was in that interesting stage
of intoxication when a man is amiable and helpless. Although he was utterly
unable to stand erect, or to navigate his body across the deck, he still
magnanimously proffered his services to pilot the ship to a good and secure
anchorage. Our captain, however, rather distrusted his ability in this respect,
and refused to recognise his claim to the character he assumed; but our
gentleman was determined to play his part, for, by dint of much scrambling, he
succeeded in getting into the weather-quarter boat, where he steadied himself
by holding on to a shroud, and then commenced issuing his commands with amazing
volubility and very peculiar gestures. Of course, no one obeyed his orders; but
as it was impossible to quiet him, we swept by the ships of the squadron with
this strange fellow performing his antics in full view of all the French
We afterwards learned that our eccentric friend had been a lieutenant in the
English navy, but having disgraced his flag by some criminal conduct in one of
the principal ports on the main, he had deserted his ship, and spent many years
wandering among the islands of the Pacific, until accidentally being at
Nukuheva when the French took possession of the place, he had been appointed
pilot of the harbour by the newly constituted authorities.
As we slowly advanced up the bay, numerous canoes pushed off from the
surrounding shores, and we were soon in the midst of quite a flotilla of them,
their savage occupants struggling to get aboard of us, and jostling one another
in their ineffectual attempts. Occasionally the projecting out-riggers of their
slight shallops, running foul of one another, would become entangled beneath
the water, threatening to capsize the canoes, when a scene of confusion would
ensue that baffles description. Such strange outcries and passionate
gesticulations I never certainly heard or saw before. You would have thought
the islanders were on the point of flying at one another's throats, whereas
they were only amicably engaged in disentangling their boats.
Scattered here and there among the canoes might be seen numbers of cocoa-nuts
floating closely together in circular groups, and bobbing up and down with
every wave. By some inexplicable means these cocoa-nuts were all steadily
approaching towards the ship. As I leaned curiously over die side, endeavouring
to solve their mysterious movements, one mass, far in advance of the rest,
attracted my attention. In its centre was something I could take for nothing
else than a cocoa-nut, but which I certainly considered one of the most
extraordinary specimens of the fruit I had ever seen. It kept twirling and
dancing about among the rest in the most singular manner: and as it drew
nearer, I thought it bore a remarkable resemblance to the brown shaven skull of
one of the savages. Presently it betrayed a pair of eyes, and soon I became
aware that what I had supposed to have been one of the fruit was nothing else
than the head of an islander, who had adopted this singular method of bringing
his produce to market. The cocoa-nuts were all attached to one another by
strips of the husk, partly torn from the shell, and rudely fastened together.
Their proprietor, inserting his head into the midst of them, impelled his
necklace of cocoa-nuts through the water by striking out beneath the surface
with his feet.
I was somewhat astonished to perceive that among the number of natives that
surrounded us, not a single female was to be seen. At that time I was ignorant
of the fact that by the operation of the "taboo," the use of canoes
in all parts of the island is rigorously prohibited to the entire sex, for whom
it is death even to be seen entering one when hauled on shore; consequently,
whenever a Marquesan lady voyages by water, she puts in requisition the paddles
of her own fair body.
We had approached within a mile and a half perhaps of the foot of the bay, when
some of the islanders, who by this time had managed to scramble aboard of us at
the risk of swamping their canoes, directed our attention to a singular
commotion in the water ahead of the vessel. At first I imagined it to be
produced by a shoal of fish sporting on the surface, but our savage friends
assured us that it was caused by a shoal of "whinhenies" (young
girls), who in this manner were coming off from the shore to welcome us. As
they drew nearer, and I watched the rising and sinking of their forms, and
beheld the uplifted right arm bearing above the water the girdle of tappa, and
their long dark confiding, they are easily led into every vice, and humanity
weeps over the ruin thus remorselessly inflicted upon them by their European
civilizers. Thrice happy are they who, inhabiting some yet undiscovered island
in the midst of the ocean, have never been brought into contaminating contact
with the white man.
RESOLVE TO ESCAPE
IT was in the summer of 1842, that we arrived at the islands. Our ship had not
been many days in the harbour of Nukuheva before I came to the determination of
leaving her. That my reasons for resolving to take this step were numerous and
weighty, may be inferred from the fact that I chose rather to risk my fortunes
among the savages of the island than to endure another voyage on board the
Dolly. To use the concise, point-blank phrase of the sailors, I had made up my
mind to "run away." Now, as a meaning is generally attached to these
two words no way flattering to the individual to whom they are applied, it
behoves me, for the sake of my own character, to offer some explanation of my
When I entered on board the Dolly, I signed, as a matter of course, the ship's
articles, thereby voluntarily engaging and legally binding myself to serve in a
certain capacity for the period of the voyage; and, special considerations
apart, I was of course bound to fulfil the agreement. But in all contracts, if
one party fail to perform his share of the compact, is not the other virtually
absolved from his liability? Who is there who will not answer in the
Having settled the principle, then, let me apply it to the particular case in
question. In numberless instances had not only the implied but the specified
conditions of the articles been violated on the part of the ship in which I
served. The usage on board of her was tyrannical; the sick had been inhumanly
neglected; the provisions had been doled out in scanty allowance; and her
cruises were unreasonably protracted. The captain was the author of these
abuses; it was in vain to think that he would either remedy them, or alter his
conduct, which was arbitrary and violent in the extreme. His prompt reply to
all complaints and remonstrances was the – butt-end of a hand-spike, so
convincingly administered as effectually to silence the aggrieved party.
To whom could we apply for redress? We had left both law and equity on the
other side of the Cape; and unfortunately, with a very few exceptions, our crew
was composed of a parcel of dastardly and mean-spirited wretches, divided among
themselves, and only united in enduring without resistance the unmitigated
tyranny of the captain. It would have been mere madness for any two or three of
the number, unassisted by the rest, to attempt making a stand against his ill
usage. They would only have called down upon themselves the particular
vengeance of this "Lord of the Plank," and subjected their shipmates
to additional hardships.
But, after all, these things could have been endured awhile, had we entertained
the hope of being speedily delivered from them by the due completion of the
term of our servitude. But what a dismal prospect awaited us in this quarter!
The longevity of Cape Horn whaling voyages is proverbial, frequently extending
over a period of four or five years.
Some long-haired, bare-necked youths, who, forced by the united influences of a
roving spirit and hard times, embark at Nantucket for a pleasure excursion to
the Pacific, and whose anxious mothers provide them with bottled milk for the
occasion, oftentimes return very respectable middleaged gentlemen.
The very preparations made for one of these expeditions are enough to frighten
one. As the vessel carries out no cargo, her hold is filled with provisions for
her own consumption. The owners, who officiate as caterers for the voyage,
supply the larder with an abundance of dainties. Delicate morsels of beef and
pork, cut on scientific principles from every part of the animal, and of all
conceivable shapes and sizes, are carefully packed in salt, and stored away in
barrels; affording a never-ending variety in their different degrees of
toughness, and in the peculiarities of their saline properties. Choice old
water too, decanted into stout six-barrel casks, and two pints of which is
allowed every day to each soul on board; together with ample store of
sea-bread, previously reduced to a state of petrifaction, with a view to preserve
it either from decay or consumption in the ordinary mode, are likewise provided
for the nourishment and gastronomic enjoyment of the crew.
But not to speak of the quality of these articles of sailors' fare, the
abundance in which they are put on board a whaling vessel is almost incredible.
Oftentimes, when we had occasion to break out in the hold, and I beheld the
successive tiers of casks and barrels, whose contents were all destined to be
consumed in due course by the ship's company, my heart has sunk within me.
Although, as a general case, a ship unlucky in falling in with whales continues
to cruise after them until she has barely sufficient provisions remaining to
take her home, turning round then quietly and making the best of her way to her
friends, yet there are instances when even this natural obstacle to the further
prosecution of the voyage is overcome by headstrong captains, who, bartering
the fruits of their hard-earned toils for a new supply of provisions in some of
the ports of Chili or Peru, begin the voyage afresh with unabated zeal and
perseverance. It is in vain that the owners write urgent letters to him to sail
for home, and for their sake to bring back the ship, since it appears he can
put nothing in her. Not he. He has registered a vow: he will fill his vessel
with good sperm oil, or failing to do so, never again strike Yankee soundings.
I heard of one whaler, which after many years' absence was given up for lost.
The last that had been heard of her was a shadowy report of her having touched
at some of those unstable islands in the far Pacific, whose eccentric
wanderings are carefully noted in each new edition of the South Sea charts.
After a long interval, however, the Perseverance – for that was her name – was
spoken somewhere in the ends of the earth, cruising along as leisurely as ever,
her sails all bepatched and bequilted with rope-yarns, her spars fished with
old pipe staves, and her rigging knotted and spliced in every possible
direction. Her crew was composed of some twenty venerable
Greenwich-pensioner-looking old salts, who just managed to hobble about deck.
The ends of all the running ropes, with the exception of the signal halyards
and poop-down-haul, were rove through snatch-blocks, and led to the capstan or
windlass, so that not a yard was braced or a sail set without the assistance of
Her hull was encrusted with barnacles, which completely encased her. Three pet
sharks followed in her wake, and every day came alongside to regale themselves
from the contents of the cook's bucket, which were pitched over to them. A vast
shoal of bonetas and albicores always kept her company.
Such was the account I heard of this vessel, and the remembrance of it always
haunted me; what eventually became of her I never learned; at any rate she
never reached home, and I suppose she is still regularly tacking twice in the
twenty-four hours somewhere off Buggerry Island, or the Devil's-Tail Peak.
Having said thus much touching the usual length of these voyages, when I inform
the reader that ours had as it were just commenced, we being only fifteen
months out, and even at that time hailed as a late arrival, and boarded for
news, he will readily perceive that there was little to encourage one in
looking forward to the future, especially as I had always had a presentiment
that we should make an unfortunate voyage, and our experience so far had
justified the expectation.
I may here state, and on my faith as an honest man, that some time after
arriving home from my adventures, I learned that this vessel was still in the
Pacific, and that she had met with very poor success in the fishery. Very many
of her crew, also, left her; and her voyage lasted about five years.
But to return to my narrative. Placed in these circumstances, then, with no
prospect of matters mending if I remained aboard the Dolly, I at once made up
my mind to leave her; to be sure, it was rather an inglorious thing to steal
away privately from those at whose hands I had received wrongs and outrages
that I could not resent; but how was such a course to be avoided when it was
the only alternative left me? Having made up my mind, I proceeded to acquire
all the information I could obtain relating to the island and its inhabitants,
with a view of shaping my plans of escape accordingly. The result of these
inquiries I will now state, in order that the ensuing narrative may be the
The bay of Nukuheva, in which we were then lying, is an expanse of water not
unlike in figure the space included within the limits of a horse-shoe. It is,
perhaps, nine miles in circumference. You approach it from the sea by a narrow
entrance, flanked on either side by two small twin islets which soar conically
to the height of some five hundred feet. From these the shore recedes on both
hands, and describes a deep semicircle.
From the verge of the water the land rises uniformly on all sides, with green
and sloping acclivities, until from gently rolling hillsides and moderate
elevations it insensibly swells into lofty and majestic heights, whose blue
outlines, ranged all around, close in the view. The beautiful aspect of the
shore is heightened by deep and romantic glens, which come down to it at almost
equal distances, all apparently radiating from a common centre, and the upper
extremities of which are lost to the eye beneath the shadow of the mountains.
Down each of these little valleys flows a clear stream, here and there assuming
the form of a slender cascade, then stealing invisibly along until it bursts
upon the sight again in larger and more noisy waterfalls, and at last demurely
wanders along to the sea.
The houses of the natives, constructed of the yellow bamboo, tastefully twisted
together in a kind of wicker-work, and thatched with the long tapering leaves
of the palmetto, are scattered irregularly along these valleys beneath the
shady branches of the cocoa-nut trees.
Nothing can exceed the imposing scenery of this bay. Viewed from our ship as
she lay at anchor in the middle of the harbour, it presented the appearance of
a vast natural amphitheatre in decay, and overgrown with vines, the deep glens
that furrowed its sides appearing like enormous fissures caused by the ravages
of time. Very often when lost in admiration at its beauty, I have experienced a
pang of regret that a scene so enchanting should be hidden from the world in
these remote seas, and seldom meet the eyes of devoted lovers of nature.
Besides this bay the shores of the island are indented by several other
extensive inlets, into which descend broad and verdant valleys. These are
inhabited by as many distinct tribes of savages, who, although speaking kindred
dialects of a common language, and having the same religion and laws, have from
time immemorial waged hereditary warfare against each other. The intervening
mountains, generally two or three thousand feet above the level of the sea,
geographically define the territories of each of these hostile tribes, who
never cross them, save on some expedition of war or plunder. Immediately
adjacent to Nukuheva, and only separated from it by the mountains seen from the
harbour, lies the lovely valley of Happar, whose inmates cherish the most
friendly relations with the inhabitants of Nukuheva. On the other side of
Happar, and closely adjoining it, is the magnificent valley of the dreaded
Typees, the unappeasable enemies of both these tribes.
These celebrated warriors appear to inspire the other islanders with
unspeakable terrors. Their very name is a frightful one; for the word
"Typee" in the Marquesan dialect signifies a lover of human flesh. It
is rather singular that the tide should have been bestowed upon them
exclusively, inasmuch as the natives of all this group are irreclaimable
cannibals. The name may, perhaps, have been given to denote the peculiar
ferocity of this clan, and to convey a I it. special stigma along with it.
These same Typees enjoy a prodigious notoriety all over the islands. The
natives of Nukuheva would frequently recount in pantomime to our ship's company
their terrible feats, and would show the marks of wounds they had received in
desperate encounters with them. When ashore they would try to frighten us by
pointing to one of their own number, and calling him a Typee, manifesting no
little surprise that we did not take to our heels at so terrible an
announcement. It was quite amusing, too, to see with what earnestness they
disclaimed all cannibal propensities on their own part, while they denounced
their enemies – the Typees – as inveterate gormandizers of human flesh; but
this is a peculiarity to which I shall hereafter have occasion to allude.
Although I was convinced that the inhabitants of our bay were as arrant
cannibals as any of the other tribes on the island, still I could not but feel
a particular and most unqualified repugnance to the aforesaid Typees. Even
before visiting the Marquesas, I had heard from men who had touched at the
group on former voyages some revolting stories in connexion with these savages;
and fresh in my remembrance was the adventure of the master of the Katherine,
who only a few months previous, imprudently venturing into this bay in an armed
boat for the purpose of barter, was seized by the natives, carried back a
little distance into their valley, and was only saved from a cruel death by the
intervention of a young girl, who facilitated his escape by night along the
beach to Nukuheva.
I had heard, too, of an English vessel that many years ago, after a weary
cruise, sought to enter the bay of Nukuheva, and arriving within two or three
miles of the land, was met by a large canoe filled with natives, who offered to
lead the way to the place of their destination. The captain, unacquainted with
the localities of the island, joyfully acceded to the proposition – the canoe
paddled on and the ship followed. She was soon conducted to a beautiful inlet,
and dropped her anchor in its waters beneath the shadows of the lofty shore.
That same night the perfidious Typees, who had thus inveigled her into their
fatal bay, flocked aboard the doomed vessel by hundreds, and at a given signal murdered
every soul on board.
HAVING fully resolved to leave the vessel clandestinely, and having acquired
all the knowledge concerning the bay that I could obtain under the
circumstances in which I was placed, I now deliberately turned over in my mind
every plan of escape that suggested itself, being determined to act with all
possible prudence in an attempt where failure would be attended with so many
disagreeable consequences. The idea of being taken and brought back ignominiously
to the ship was so inexpressibly repulsive to me, that I was determined by no
hasty and imprudent measures to render such an event probable.
I knew that our worthy captain, who felt such a paternal solicitude for the
welfare of his crew, would not willingly consent that one of his best hands
should encounter the perils of a sojourn among the natives of a barbarous
island; and I was certain that in the event of my disappearance, his fatherly
anxiety would prompt him to offer, by way of a reward, yard upon yard of gaily
printed calico for my apprehension. He might even have appreciated my services
at the value of a musket, in which case I felt perfectly certain that the whole
population of the bay would be immediately upon my track, incited by the prospect
of so magnificent a bounty.
Having ascertained the fact before alluded to, that the islanders, from motives
of precaution, dwelt together in the depths of the valleys, and avoided
wandering about the more elevated portions of the shore, unless bound on some
expedition of war or plunder, I concluded that if I could effect unperceived a
passage to the mountains, I might easily remain among them, supporting myself
by such fruits as came in my way until the sailing of the ship, an event of
which I could not fall to be immediately apprized, as from my lofty position I
should command a view of the entire harbour.
The idea pleased me greatly. It seemed to combine a great deal of
practicability with no inconsiderable enjoyment in a quiet way; for how
delightful it would be to look down upon the detested old vessel from the
height of some thousand feet, and contrast the verdant scenery about me with
the recollection of her narrow decks and gloomy forecastle! Why? it was really
refreshing even to think of it; and so I straightway fell to picturing myself
seated beneath a cocoa-nut tree on the brow of the mountain, with a cluster of
plantains within easy reach, criticizing her nautical evolutions as she was
working her way out of the harbour.
To be sure there was one rather unpleasant drawback to these agreeable
anticipations – the possibility of falling in with a foraging party of these
same bloody-minded Typees, whose appetites, edged perhaps by the air of so
elevated a region, might prompt them to devour one. This, I must confess, was a
most disagreeable view of the matter.
Just to think of a party of these unnatural gourmands taking it into their
heads to make a convivial meal of a poor devil, who would have no means of
escape or defence: however, there was no help for it. I was willing to
encounter some risks in order to accomplish my object, and counted much upon my
ability to elude these prowling cannibals amongst the many coverts which the
mountains afforded. Besides, the chances were ten to one in my favour that they
would none of them quit their own fastnesses.
I had determined not to communicate my design of withdrawing from the vessel to
any of my shipmates, and least of all to solicit any one to accompany me in my
flight. But it so happened one night, that being upon deck, revolving I over in
my mind various plans of escape, I perceived one of the ship's company leaning
over the bulwarks, apparently plunged in a profound reverie. He was a young
fellow about my own age, for whom I had all along entertained a great regard;
and Toby, such was the name by which he went among us, for his real name he
would never tell us, was every way worthy of it. He was active, ready, and
obliging, of dauntless courage, and singularly open and fearless in the
expression of his feelings. I had on more than one occasion got him out of
scrapes into which this had led him; and I know not whether it was from this
cause, or a certain congeniality of sentiment between us, that he had always
shown a partiality for my society. We had battled out many a long watch
together, beguiling the weary hours with chat, song, and story, mingled with a
good many imprecations upon the hard destiny it seemed our common fortune to
Toby, like myself, had evidently moved in a different sphere of life, and his
conversation at times betrayed this, although he was anxious to conceal it. He
was one of that class of rovers you sometimes meet at sea, who never reveal
their origin, never allude to home, and go rambling over the world as if pursued
by some mysterious fate they cannot possibly elude.
There was much even in the appearance of Toby calculated to draw me towards
him, for while the greater part of the crew were as coarse in person as in
mind, Toby was endowed with a remarkably prepossessing exterior. Arrayed in his
blue frock and duck trousers, he was as smart a looking sailor as ever stepped
upon a deck; he was singularly small and slightly made, with great flexibility
of limb. His naturally dark complexion had been deepened by exposure to the
tropical sun, and a mass of jetty locks clustered about his temples, and threw
a darker shade into his large black eyes. He was a strange, wayward being,
moody, fitful, and melancholy – at times almost morose. He had a quick and
fiery temper too, which, when thoroughly roused, transported him into a state
bordering on delirium.
It is strange the power that a mind of deep passion has over feebler natures. I
have seen a brawny fellow, with no lack of ordinary courage, fairly quail
before this slender stripling, when in one of his furious fits. But these
paroxysms seldom occurred, and in them my big-hearted shipmate vented the bile
which more calm-tempered individuals get rid of by a continual pettishness at
No one ever saw Toby laugh – I mean in the hearty abandonment of broad-mouthed
mirth. He did smile sometimes, it is true; and there was a good deal of dry,
sarcastic humour about him, which told the more from the imperturbable gravity
of his tone and manner.
Latterly I had observed that Toby's melancholy had greatly increased, and I had
frequently seen him since our arrival at the island gazing wistfully upon the
shore, when the remainder of the crew would be rioting below. I was aware that
he entertained a cordial detestation of the ship, and believed that should a
fair chance of escape present itself, he would embrace it willingly. But the
attempt was so perilous in the place where we then lay, that I supposed myself
the only individual on board the ship who was sufficiently reckless to think of
it. In this, however, I was mistaken.
When I perceived Toby leaning, as I have mentioned, against the bulwarks and
buried in thought, it struck me at once that the subject of his meditations
might be the same as my own. And if it be so, thought I, is he not the very one
of all my shipmates whom I would choose for the partner of my adventure? and
why should I not have some comrade with me to divide its dangers and alleviate
its hardships? Perhaps I might be obliged to lie concealed among the mountains
for weeks. In such an event what a solace would a companion be!
These thoughts passed rapidly through my mind, and I wondered why I had not
before considered the matter in this light. But it was not too late. A tap upon
the shoulder served to rouse Toby from his reverie; I found him ripe for the
enterprise, and a very few words sufficed for a mutual understanding between
us. In an hour's time we had arranged all the preliminaries, and decided upon
our plan of action. We then ratified our engagement with an affectionate
wedding of palms, and to elude suspicion repaired each to his hammock, to spend
the last night on board the Dolly.
The next day the starboard watch, to which we both belonged, was to be sent
ashore on liberty; and, availing ourselves of this opportunity, we determined,
as soon after landing as possible, to separate ourselves from the rest of the
men without exciting their suspicions, and strike back at once for the
mountains. Seen from the ship, the summits appeared inaccessible, but here and
there sloping spurs extended from them almost into the sea, buttressing the
lofty elevations with which they were connected, and forming those radiating
valleys I have before described. One of these ridges, which appeared more
practicable than the rest, we determined to climb, convinced that it would
conduct us to the heights beyond. Accordingly, we carefully observed its
bearings and locality from the ship, so that when ashore we should run no
chance of missing it.
In all this the leading object we had in view was to seclude ourselves from
sight until the departure of the vessel; then to take our chance as to the
reception the Nukuheva natives might give us; and after remaining upon the
island as long as we found our stay agreeable, to leave it the first favourable
opportunity that offered.
ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAINS
EARLY the next morning the starboard watch were mustered upon the quarter-deck,
and our worthy captain, standing in the cabin gangway, harangued us as
"Now, men, as we are just off a six months' cruise, and have got through
most all our work in port here, I suppose you want to go ashore. Well, I mean
to give your watch liberty to-day, so you may get ready as soon as you please,
and go; but understand this, I am going to give you liberty because I suppose
you would growl like so many old quarter gunners I didn't; at the same time, if
you'll take my advice, every mother's son of you will stay aboard, and keep out
of the way of the bloody cannibals altogether. Ten to one, men, if you go
ashore, you will get into some infernal row, and that will be the end of you;
for if these tattooed scoundrels get you a little ways back into their valleys,
they'll nab you – that you may be certain of. Plenty of white men have gone
ashore here and never been seen any more. There was the old Dido, she put in
here about two years ago, and sent one watch off on liberty; they never were
heard of again for a week – the natives swore they didn't know where they were
– and only three of them ever got back to the ship again, and one with his face
damaged for life, for the cursed heathens tattooed a broad patch clean across
his figure-head. But it will be no use talking to you, for go you will, that I
see plainly; so all I have to say is, that you need not blame me if the
islanders make a meal of you. You may stand some chance of escaping them
though, if you keep close about the French encampment, and are back to the ship
again before sunset. Keep that much in your mind, if you forget all the rest
I've been saying to you. There, go forward: bear a hand and rig yourselves, and
stand by for a call. At two bells the boat will be manned to take you off, and
the Lord have mercy on you!"
Various were the emotions depicted upon the countenances of the starboard watch
whilst listening to this address; but on its conclusion there was a general
move towards the forecastle, and we soon were all busily engaged in getting
ready for the holiday so auspiciously announced by the skipper. During these
preparations, his harangue was commented upon in no very measured terms; and
one of the party, after denouncing him as a lying old son of a sea-cook who
begrudged a fellow a few hours' liberty, exclaimed with an oath, "But you
don't bounce me out of my liberty, old chap, for all your yarns; for I would go
ashore if every pebble on the beach was a live coal, and every stick a
gridiron, and the cannibals stood ready to broil me on landing."
The spirit of this sentiment was responded to by all hands, and we resolved
that in spite of the captain's croakings we would make a glorious day of it.
But Toby and I had our own game to play, and we availed ourselves of the
confusion which always reigns among a ship's company preparatory to going
ashore, to confer together and complete our arrangements. As our object was to
effect as rapid a flight as possible to the mountains, we determined not to
encumber ourselves with any superfluous apparel; and accordingly, while the
rest were rigging themselves out with some idea of making a display, we were
content to put on new stout duck trousers, serviceable pumps, and heavy Havre
frocks, which, with a Payta hat, completed our equipment.
When our shipmates wondered at this, Toby exclaimed, in his odd grave way, that
the rest might do as they liked, but that he for one preserved his go-ashore
traps for the Spanish main, where the tie of a sailor's neckerchief might make
some difference; but as for a parcel of unbreeched heathen, he wouldn't go to
the bottom of his chest for any of them, and was half disposed to appear among
them in buff himself. The men laughed at what they thought was one of his
strange conceits, and so we escaped suspicion.
It may appear singular that we should have been thus on our guard with our own
shipmates; but there were some among us who, had they possessed the least
inkling of our project, would, for a paltry hope of reward, have immediately
communicated it to the captain.
As soon as two bells were struck, the word was passed for the liberty-men to
get into the boat. I lingered behind in the forecastle a moment, to take a
parting glance at its familiar features, and just as I was about to ascend to
the deck, my eye happened to light on the bread-barge and beef-kid, which
contained the remnants of our last hasty meal. Although I had never before
thought of providing anything in the way of food for our expedition, as I fully
relied upon the fruits of the island to sustain us wherever we might wander,
yet I could not resist the inclination I felt to a luncheon from the relics
before me. Accordingly I took a double handful of those small, broken, flinty
bits of biscuit which generally go by the name of "midshipmen's
nuts," and thrust them into the bosom of my frock; in which same ample
receptacle I had previously stowed away several pounds of tobacco and a few
yards of cotton cloth, – articles with which I intended to purchase the
goodwill of the natives, as soon as we should appear among them after the
departure of our vessel.
This last addition to my stock caused a considerable protuberance in front,
which I abated in a measure by shaking the bits of bread around my waist, and
distributing the plugs of tobacco among the folds of the garment.
Hardly had I completed these arrangements when my name was sung out by a dozen
voices, and I sprung upon the deck, where I found all the party in the boat,
and impatient to shove off. I dropped over the side, and seated myself, with
the rest of the watch, in the stern sheets, while the poor larboarders shipped
their oars, and commenced pulling us ashore.
This happened to be the rainy season at the islands, and the heavens had nearly
the whole morning betokened one of those heavy showers which, during this
period, so frequently occur. The large drops fell bubbling into the water shortly
after our leaving the ship, and by the time we had effected a landing, it
poured down in torrents. We fled for shelter under cover of an immense
canoe-house, which stood hard by the beach, and waited for the first fury of
the storm to pass.
It continued, however, without cessation; and the monotonous beating of the
rain overhead began to exert a drowsy influence upon the men, who, throwing
themselves here and there upon the large war-canoes, after chatting awhile, all
This was the opportunity we desired, and Toby and I availed ourselves of it at
once, by stealing out of the canoehouse, and plunging into the depths of an
extensive grove that was in its rear. After ten minutes' rapid progress, we
gained an open space, from which we could just descry the ridge we intended to
mount looming dimly through the mists of the tropical shower, and distant from
us as we estimated, something more than a mile. Our direct course towards it
lay through a rather populous part of the bay; but desirous as we were of
evading the natives, and securing an unmolested retreat to the mountains, we
determined, by taking a circuit through some extensive thickets, to avoid their
The heavy rain that still continued to fall without intermission, favoured our
enterprise, as it drove the islanders into their houses, and prevented any
casual meeting with them. Our heavy frocks soon became completely saturated
with water, and by their weight, and that of the articles we had concealed
beneath them, not a little impeded our progress. But it was no time to pause,
when at any moment we might be surprised by a body of the savages, and forced
at the very outset to relinquish our undertaking.
Since leaving the canoe-house we had scarcely exchanged a single syllable with
one another, but when we entered a second narrow opening in the wood, and again
caught sight of the ridge before us, I took Toby by the arm, and pointing along
its sloping outline to the lofty heights of its extremity, said, in a low tone,
"Now, Toby, not a word, nor a glance backward, till we stand on the summit
of yonder mountain; so no more lingering, but let us shove ahead while we can,
and in a few hours' time we may laugh aloud. You are the lightest and the
nimblest, so lead on, and I will follow."
"All right, brother," said Toby, "quick's our play, only let's
keep close together, that's all"; and so saying, with a bound like a young
roe, he cleared a brook which ran across our path, and rushed forward with a
When we arrived within a short distance of the ridge, we were stopped by a mass
of tall yellow reeds, growing together as thickly as they could stand, and as
tough and stubborn as so many rods of steel; and we perceived, to our chagrin,
that they extended midway up the elevation we proposed to ascend.
For a moment we gazed about us in quest of a more practicable route; it was,
however, at once apparent that there was no resource but to pierce this thicket
of canes at all hazards. We now reversed our order of march, I, being the
heaviest, taking the lead, with a view of breaking a path through the
obstruction, while Toby fell into the rear.
Two or three times I endeavoured to insinuate myself between the canes, and, by
dint of coaxing and bending them, to make some progress; but a bull-frog might
as well have tried to work a passage through the teeth of a comb, and I gave up
the attempt in despair.
Half wild with meeting an obstacle we had so little anticipated, I threw myself
desperately against it, crushing to the ground the canes with which I came in
contact, and, rising to my feet again, repeated the action with like effect.
Twenty minutes of this violent exercise almost exhausted me, but it carried us
some way into the thicket; when Toby, who had been reaping the benefit of my
labours by following close at my heels, proposed to become pioneer in turn, and
accordingly passed ahead with a view of affording me a respite from my
exertions. As, however, with his slight frame he made but bad work of it, I was
soon obliged to resume my old place again.
On we toiled, the perspiration starting from our bodies in floods, our limbs
torn and lacerated with the splintered fragments of the broken canes, until we
had proceeded perhaps as far as the middle of the brake, when suddenly it
ceased raining, and the atmosphere around us became close and sultry beyond
expression. The elasticity of the reeds quickly recovering from the temporary
pressure of our bodies, caused them to spring back to their original position,
so that they closed in upon us as we advanced, and prevented the circulation of
the little air which might otherwise have reached us.
Besides this, their great height completely shut us out from the view of
surrounding objects, and we were not certain but that we might have been going
all the time in a wrong direction.
Fatigued with my long-continued efforts, and panting for breath, I felt myself
completely incapacitated for any further exertion. I rolled up the sleeve of my
frock, and squeezed the moisture it contained into my parched mouth. But the
few drops I managed to obtain gave me little relief, and I sank down for a
moment with a sort of dogged apathy, from which I was aroused by Toby, who had
devised a plan to free us from the net in which we had become entangled.
He was laying about him lustily with his sheath-knife, lopping the canes right
and left, like a reaper, and soon made quite a clearing around us. This sight
reanimated me; and seizing my own knife, I hacked and hewed away without mercy.
But, alas! the farther we advanced the thicker and taller, and apparently the
more interminable, the reeds became.
I began to think we were fairly snared, and had almost made up my mind that
without a pair of wings we should never be able to escape from the toils, when
all at once I discerned a peep of daylight through the canes on my right, and,
communicating the joyful tidings to Toby, we both fell to with fresh spirit,
and speedily opening a passage towards it, we found ourselves clear of
perplexities, and in the near vicinity of the ridge.
After resting for a few moments we began the ascent, and after a little
vigorous climbing found ourselves close to its summit. Instead, however, of
walking along its ridge, where we should have been in full view of the natives
in the vales beneath, and at a point where they could easily intercept us, were
they so inclined, we cautiously advanced on one side, crawling on our hands and
knees, and screened from observation by the grass through which we glided, much
in the fashion of a couple of serpents. After an hour employed in this
unpleasant kind of locomotion, we started to our feet again, and pursued our
way boldly along the crest of the ridge.
This salient spur of the lofty elevations that encompassed the bay, rose with a
sharp angle from the valleys at its base, and presented, with the exception of
a few steep acclivities, the appearance of a vast inclined plane, sweeping down
towards the sea from the heights in the distance. We had ascended it near the
place of its termination, and at its lowest point, and now saw our route to the
mountains distinctly defined along its narrow crest, which was covered with a
soft carpet of verdure, and was in many parts only a few feet wide.
Elated with the success which had so far attended our enterprise, and
invigorated by the refreshing atmosphere we now inhaled, Toby and I, in high
spirits, were making our way rapidly along the ridge, when suddenly from the
valleys below, which lay on either side of us, we heard the distant shouts of
the natives, who had just descried us, and to whom our figures, brought in bold
relief against the sky, were plainly revealed.
Glancing our eyes into these valleys, we perceived their savage inhabitants
hurrying to and fro, seemingly under the influence of some sudden alarm, and
appearing to the eye scarcely bigger than so many pigmies, while their white
thatched dwellings, dwarfed by the distance, looked like baby-houses. As we
looked down upon the islanders from our lofty elevation, we experienced a sense
of security; feeling confident that, should they undertake a pursuit, it would,
from the start we now had, prove entirely fruitless, unless they followed us
into the mountains, where we knew they cared not to venture.
However, we thought it as well to make the most of our time; and accordingly,
where the ground would admit of it, we ran swiftly along the summit of the
ridge, until we were brought to a stand by a steep cliff, which at first seemed
to interpose an effectual barrier to our farther advance. By dint of much hard
scrambling, however, and at some risk to our necks, we at last surmounted it,
and continued our flight with unabated celerity.
We had left the beach early in the morning, and after an uninterrupted, though
at times difficult and dangerous ascent, during which we had never once turned
our faces to the sea, we found ourselves, about three hours before sunset,
standing on the top of what seemed to be the highest land on the island, an
immense overhanging cliff composed of basaltic rocks, hung round with
parasitical plants. We must have been more than three thousand feet above the
level of the sea, and the scenery viewed from this height was magnificent.
The lonely bay of Nukuheva, dotted here and there with the black hulls of the
vessels composing the French squadron, lay reposing at the base of a circular
range elevations, whose verdant sides, perforated with deep glens, or
diversified with smiling valleys, formed altogether the loveliest view I ever
beheld, and were I to live a hundred years, I shall never forget the feeling of
admiration which I then experienced.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAINS
MY curiosity had been not a little raised with regard to the description of
country we should meet on the other side of the mountains; and I had supposed,
with Toby, that immediately on gaining the heights we should be enabled to view
the large bays of Happar and Typee reposing at our feet on one side, in the
same way that Nukuheva lay spread out below on the other. But here we were
disappointed. Instead of finding the mountain we had ascended sweeping down in
the opposite direction into broad and capacious valleys, the land appeared to
retain its general elevation, only broken into a series of ridges and
inter-vales, which as far as the eye could reach stretched away from us, with
their precipitous sides covered with the brightest verdure, and waving here and
there with the foliage of clumps of woodland; among which, however, we
perceived none of those trees upon whose fruit we had relied with such
This was a most unlooked-for discovery, and one that promised to defeat our
plans altogether, for we could not think of descending the mountain on the
Nukuheva side in quest of food. Should we for this purpose be induced to
retrace our steps, we should run no small chance of encountering the natives,
who in that case, if they did nothing worse to us, would be certain to convey
us back to the ship for the sake of the reward in calico and trinkets, which we
had no doubt our skipper would hold out to them as an inducement to our
What was to be done? The Dolly would not sail perhaps for ten days, and how
were we to sustain life during this period? I bitterly repented our
improvidence in not providing ourselves, as we easily might have done, with a
supply of biscuit. With a rueful visage I now bethought me of the scanty
handful of bread I had stuffed into the bosom of my frock, and felt somewhat
desirous to ascertain what part of it had weathered the rather rough usage it
had experienced in ascending the mountain. I accordingly proposed to Toby that
we should enter into a joint examination of the various articles we had brought
from the ship. With this intent we seated ourselves upon the grass; and a
little curious to see with what kind of judgment my companion had filled his
frock – which I remarked seemed about as well lined as my own – I requested him
to commence operations by spreading out its contents.
Thrusting his hand, then, into the bosom of this capacious receptacle, he first
brought to light about a pound of tobacco, whose component parts still adhered
together, the whole outside being covered with soft particles of seabread. Wet
and dripping, it had the appearance of having been just recovered from the
bottom of the sea. But I paid slight attention to a substance of so little
value to us in our present situation, as soon as I perceived the indications it
gave of Toby's foresight in laying in a supply of food for the expedition.
I eagerly inquired what quantity he had brought with him, when, rummaging once
more beneath his garment, he produced a small handful of something so soft,
pulpy, and discoloured, that for a few moments he was as much puzzled as myself
to tell by what possible instrumentality such a villanous compound had become
engendered in his bosom. I can only describe it as a hash of soaked bread and
bits of tobacco, brought to a doughy consistency by the united agency of
perspiration and rain. But repulsive as it might otherwise have been, I now
regarded it as an invaluable treasure, and proceeded with great care to
transfer this paste-like mass to a large leaf which I had plucked from a bush
beside me. Toby informed me that in the morning he had placed two whole
biscuits in his bosom, with a view of munching them, should he feel so
inclined, during our flight. These were now reduced to the equivocal substance
which I had just placed on the leaf.
Another dive into the frock brought to view some four or five yards of calico
print, whose tasteful pattern was rather disfigured by the yellow stains of the
tobacco with which it had been brought in contact. In drawing this calico
slowly from his bosom inch by inch, Toby reminded me of a juggler performing
the feat of the endless ribbon. The next cast was a small one, being a sailor's
little "ditty bag," containing needles, thread, and other sewing
utensils; then came a razor-case, followed by two or three separate plugs of
negro-head, which were fished up from the bottom of the now empty receptacle.
These various matters being inspected, I produced a few things which I had
As might have been anticipated from the state of my companion's edible
supplies, I found my own in a deplorable condition, and diminished to a
quantity that would not have formed half a dozen mouthfuls for a hungry man who
was partial enough to tobacco not to mind swallowing it. A few morsels of
bread, with a fathom or two of white cotton cloth, and several pounds of choice
pigtail, composed the extent of my possessions.
Our joint stock of miscellaneous articles were now made up into a compact
bundle, which it was agreed we should carry alternately. But the sorry remains
of the biscuit were not to be disposed of so summarily: the precarious
circumstances in which we were placed made us regard them as something on which
very probably depended the fate of our adventure. After a brief discussion, in
which we both of us expressed our resolution of not descending into the bay
until the ship's departure, I suggested to my companion that little of it as there
was, we should divide the bread into six equal portions, each of which should
be a day's allowance for both of us. This proposition he assented to; so I took
the silk kerchief from my neck, and cutting it with my knife into half a dozen
equal pieces, proceeded to make an exact division.
At first, Toby, with a degree of fastidiousness that seemed to me ill-timed,
was for picking out the minute particles of tobacco with which the spongy mass
was mixed; but against this proceeding I protested, as by such an operation we
must have greatly diminished its quantity.
When the division was accomplished, we found that a day's allowance for the two
was not a great deal more than what a table-spoon might hold. Each separate
portion we immediately rolled up in the bit of silk prepared for it, and
joining them all together into a small package, I committed them, with solemn
injunctions of fidelity, to the custody of Toby. For the remainder of that day
we resolved to fast, as we had been fortified by a breakfast in the morning;
and now starting again to our feet, we looked about us for a shelter during the
night, which, from the appearance of the heavens, promised to be a dark and
There was no place near us which would in any way answer our purpose; so
turning our backs upon Nukuheva, we commenced exploring the unknown regions
which lay upon the other side of the mountain.
In this direction, as far as our vision extended, not a sign of life, nor
anything that denoted even the transient residence of man could be seen. The
whole landscape seemed one unbroken solitude, the interior of the island having
apparently been untenanted since the morning of the creation; and as we
advanced through this wilderness, our voices sounded strangely in our ears, as though
human accents had never before disturbed the fearful silence of the place,
interrupted only by the low murmurings of distant waterfalls.
Our disappointment, however, in not finding the various fruits with which we
had intended to regale ourselves during our stay in these wilds, was a good
deal lessened by the consideration that from this very circumstance we should
be much less exposed to a casual meeting with the savage tribes about us, who
we knew always dwelt beneath the shadows of those trees which supplied them
We wandered along, casting eager glances into every bush we passed, until just
as we had succeeded in mounting one of the many ridges that intersected the
ground, I saw in the grass before me something like an indistinctly traced
footpath, which appeared to lead along the top of the ridge, and to descend
with it into a deep ravine about half a mile in advance of us.
Robinson Crusoe could not have been more startled at the footprint in the sand
than we were at this unwelcome discovery. My first impulse was to make as rapid
a retreat as possible, and bend our steps in some other direction; but our
curiosity to see whither this path might lead, prompted us to pursue it. So on
we went, the track becoming more and more visible the farther we proceeded,
until it conducted us to the verge of the ravine, where it abruptly terminated.
"And so," said Toby, peering down into the chasm, "every one
that travels this path takes a jump here, eh?"
"Not so," said I, "for I think they might manage to descend
without it; what say you, – shall we attempt the feat?"
"And what, in the name of caves and coal-holes, do you expect to find at
the bottom of that gulf but a broken neck – why, it looks blacker than our
ship's hold, and the roar of those waterfalls down there would batter one's
brains to pieces."
"Oh, no, Toby," I exclaimed, laughing; "but there's something to
be seen here, that's plain, or there would have been no path, and I am resolved
to find out what it is."
"I will tell you what, my pleasant fellow," rejoined Toby, quickly,
"if you are going to pry into everything you meet with here that excites
your curiosity, you will marvellously soon get knocked on the head; to a dead
certainty you will come bang upon a party of these savages in the midst of your
discovery-makings, and I doubt whether such an event would particularly delight
you. Just take my advice for once, and let us 'bout ship and steer in some
other direction; besides, it's getting late, and we ought to be mooring
ourselves for the night."
"That is just the thing I have been driving at," replied I; "and
I am thinking that this ravine will exactly answer our purpose, for it is
roomy, secluded, well watered, and may shelter us from the weather."
"Ay, and from sleep too, and by the same token will give us sore throats,
and rheumatisms into the bargain," cried Toby, with evident dislike at the
"Oh, very well then, my lad," said I, "since you will not
accompany me, here I go, alone. You will see me in the morning"; and
advancing to the edge of the cliff upon which we had been standing, I proceeded
to lower myself down by the tangled roots which clustered about all the
crevices of the rock. As I had anticipated, Toby, in spite of his previous
remonstrances, followed my example, and dropping himself with the activity of a
squirrel from point to point, he quickly outstripped me, and effected a landing
at the bottom before I had accomplished two-thirds of the descent.
The sight that now greeted us was one that will ever be vividly impressed upon
my mind. Five foaming streams, rushing through as many gorges, and swelled and
turbid by the recent rains, united together in one mad plunge of nearly eighty
feet, and fell with wild uproar into a deep black pool scooped out of the
gloomy-looking rocks that lay piled around, and thence in one collected body
dashed down a narrow sloping channel which seemed to penetrate into the very
bowels of the earth. Overhead, vast roots of trees hung down from the sides of
the ravine, dripping with moisture, and trembling with the concussions produced
by the fall. It was now sunset, and the feeble uncertain light that found its
way into these caverns and woody depths heightened their strange appearance,
and reminded us that in a short time we should find ourselves in utter
As soon as I had satisfied my curiosity by gazing at this scene, I fell to
wondering how it was that what we had taken for a path should have conducted us
to so singular a place, and began to suspect that after all I might have been
deceived in supposing it to have been a track formed by the islanders. This was
rather an agreeable reflection than otherwise, for it diminished our dread of
accidentally meeting with any of them, and I came to the conclusion that
perhaps we could not have selected a more secure hiding-place than this very
spot we had so accidentally hit upon. Toby agreed with me in this view of the
matter, and we immediately began gathering together the limbs of trees which
lay scattered about, with the view of constructing a temporary hut for the
night. This we were obliged to build close to the foot of the cataract, for the
current of water extended very nearly to the sides of the gorge. The few
moments of light that remained we employed in covering our hut with a species
of broad-bladed grass that grew in every fissure of the ravine. Our hut, if it
deserved to be called one, consisted of six or eight of the straightest
branches we could find laid obliquely against the steep wall of rock, with
their lower ends within a foot of the stream. Into the space thus covered over
we managed to crawl, and dispose our wearied bodies as best we could.
Shall I ever forget that horrid night! As for poor Toby, I could scarcely get a
word out of him. It would have been some consolation to have heard his voice,
but he lay shivering the live-long night like a man afflicted with the palsy,
with his knees drawn up to his head, while his back was supported against the
dripping side of the rock. During this wretched night there seemed nothing
wanting to complete the perfect misery of our condition. The rain descended in
such torrents that our poor shelter proved a mere mockery. In vain did I try to
elude the incessant streams that poured upon me; by protecting one part I only
exposed another, and the water was continually finding some new opening through
which to drench us.
I have had many a ducking in the course of my life, and in general cared little
about it: but the accumulated horrors of that night, the death-like coldness of
the place, the appalling darkness and the dismal sense of our forlorn
condition, almost unmanned me.
It will not be doubted that the next morning we were early risers, and as soon
as I could catch the faintest glimpse of anything like daylight I shook my
companion by the arm, and told him it was sunrise. Poor Toby lifted up his
head, and after a moment's pause said, in a husky voice, "Then, shipmate,
my toplights have gone out, for it appears darker now with my eyes open than it
did when they were shut."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed I; "you are not awake yet."
"Awake!" roared Toby, in a rage; "awake! You mean to insinuate
I've been asleep, do you? It is an insult to a man to suppose he could sleep in
such a place as this."
By the time I had apologized to my friend for having misconstrued his silence,
it had become somewhat more light, and we crawled out of our lair. The rain had
ceased, but everything around us was dripping with moisture. We stripped off
our saturated garments, and wrung them as dry as we could. We contrived to make
the blood circulate in our benumbed limbs by rubbing them vigorously with our
hands; and after performing our ablutions in the stream, and putting on our
still wet clothes, we began to t it advisable to break our long fast, it being
now twenty-four hours since we had tasted food.
Accordingly, our day's ration was brought out, and seating ourselves on a
detached fragment of rock, we proceeded to discuss it. First we divided it into
two equal portions, and carefully rolling one of them up for our evening's
repast, divided the remainder again as equally as possible, and then drew lots
for the first choice. I could have placed the morsel that fell to my share upon
the tip of my finger; but notwithstanding this, I took care that it should be
full ten minutes before I had swallowed the last crumb. What a true saying it
is that "appetite furnishes the best sauce"! There was a flavour and
a relish to this small particle of food that, under other circumstances, it
would have been impossible for the most delicate viands to have imparted. A
copious draught of the pure water which flowed at our feet served to complete
the meal, and after it we rose sensibly refreshed, and prepared for whatever
might befall us.
We now carefully examined the chasm in which we had passed the night. We
crossed the stream, and gaining the farther side of the pool I have mentioned,
discovered proofs that the spot must have been visited by some one but a short
time previous to our arrival. Further observation convinced us that it had been
regularly frequented, and, as we afterwards conjectured from particular
indications, for the purpose of obtaining a certain root, from which the
natives obtained a kind of ointment.
These discoveries immediately determined us to abandon a place which had
presented no inducement for us to remain, except the promise of security; and
as we looked about us for the means of ascending again into the upper regions,
we at last found a practicable part of the rock, and half-an-hour's toil
carried us to the summit of the same cliff from which the preceding evening we
I now proposed to Toby that instead of rambling about the island, exposing
ourselves to discovery at every turn, we should select some place as our fixed
abode for as long a period as our food should hold out, build ourselves a
comfortable hut, and be as prudent and circumspect as possible. To all this my
companion assented, and we at once set about carrying the plan into execution.
With this view, after exploring without success a little glen near us, we
crossed several of the ridges of which I have before spoken; and about noon
found ourselves ascending a long and gradually rising slope, but still without
having discovered any place adapted to our purpose. Low and heavy clouds betokened
an approaching storm, and we hurried on to gain a covert in a clump of thick
which appeared to terminate the long ascent. We threw ourselves under the lee
of these bushes, and pulling up the long grass that grew around, covered
ourselves completely with it, and awaited the shower.
But it did not come as soon as we had expected, and before many minutes my
companion was fast asleep, and I was rapidly falling into the same state of
happy forgetfulness. Just at this juncture, however, down came the rain with a
violence that put all thoughts of slumber to flight. Although in some measure
sheltered, our clothes soon became as wet as ever; this, after all the trouble
we had taken to dry them, was provoking enough: but there was no help for it;
and I recommend all adventurous youths who abandon vessels in romantic islands
during the rainy season, to provide themselves with umbrellas.
After an hour or so the shower passed away. My companion slept through it all,
or least appeared so to do; and now that it was over I had not the heart to
awaken him. As I lay on my back completely shrouded with verdure, the leafy
branches drooping over me, and my limbs buried in grass, I could not avoid
comparing our situation with that of the interesting babes in the wood. Poor
little sufferers! – no wonder their constitutions broke down under the
hardships to which they were exposed.
During the hour or two spent under the shelter of these bushes, I began to feel
symptoms which I at once attributed to the exposure of the preceding night.
Cold shiverings and a burning fever succeeded one another at intervals, while
one of my legs was swelled to such a degree, and pained me so acutely, that I
half suspected I had been bitten by some venomous reptile, the congenial
inhabitant of the chasm from which we had lately emerged. I may here remark by
the way – what I subsequently learned – that all the islands of Polynesia enjoy
the reputation, in common with the Hibernian isle, of being free from the
presence of any vipers; though whether Saint Patrick ever visited them, is a
question I shall not attempt to decide.
As the feverish sensation increased upon me I tossed about, still unwilling to
disturb my slumbering companion, from whose side I removed two or three yards.
I chanced to push aside a branch, and by so doing suddenly disclosed to my view
a scene which even now I can recall with all the vividness of the first
impression. Had a glimpse of the gardens of Paradise been revealed to me, I
could scarcely have been more ravished with the sight.
From the spot where I lay transfixed with surprise and delight, I looked
straight down into the bosom of a valley, which swept away in long wavy
undulations to the blue waters in the distance. Midway towards the sea, and
peering here and there amidst the foliage, might be seen the palmetto-thatched
houses of its inhabitants, glistening in the sun that had bleached them to a
dazzling whiteness. The vale was more than three leagues in length, and about a
mile across at its greatest width.
On either side it appeared hemmed in by steep and green acclivities, which,
uniting near the spot where I lay, formed an abrupt and semicircular
termination of grassy cliffs and precipices hundreds of feet in height, over
which flowed numberless small cascades. But the crowning beauty of the prospect
was its universal verdure; and in this indeed consists, I believe, the peculiar
charm of every Polynesian landscape. Everywhere below me, from the base of the
precipice upon whose very verge I had been unconsciously reposing, the surface
of the vale presented a mass of foliage, spread with such rich profusion that
it was impossible to determine of what description of trees it consisted.
But perhaps there was nothing about the scenery I beheld more impressive than
those silent cascades, whose slender threads of water, after leaping down the
steep cliffs, were lost amidst the rich herbage of the valley.
Over all the landscape there reigned the most hushed repose, which I almost
feared to break, lest, like the enchanting gardens in the fairy tale, a single
syllable might dissolve the spell. For a long time, forgetful alike of my own
situation, and the vicinity of my still slumbering companion, I remained gazing
around me, hardly able to comprehend by what means I had thus suddenly been
made a spectator of such a scene.
JOURNEY TOWARDS THE VALLEY
RECOVERING from my astonishment at the beautiful scene before me, I quickly
awakened Toby, and informed him of the discovery I had made. Together we now
repaired to the border of the precipice, and my companion's admiration was
equal to my own. A little reflection, however, abated our surprise at coming so
unexpectedly upon this valley, since the large vales of Happar and Typee, lying
upon this side of Nukuheva, and extending a considerable distance from the sea
towards the interior, must necessarily terminate somewhere about this point.
The question now was as to which of those two places we were looking down upon.
Toby insisted that it was the abode of the Happars, and I that it was tenanted
by their enemies, the ferocious Typees. To be sure I was not entirely convinced
by my own arguments, but Toby's proposition to descend at once into the valley,
and partake of the hospitality of its inmates, seemed to me to be risking so
much upon the strength of a mere supposition, that I resolved to oppose it
until we had more evidence to proceed upon.
The point was one of vital importance, as the natives of Happar were not only
at peace with Nukuheva, but cultivated with its inhabitants the most friendly
relations, and enjoyed a reputation for gentleness and humanity which led us to
expect from them, if not a cordial reception, at least a shelter during the
short period we should remain in their territory.
On the other hand, the very name of Typee struck a panic into my heart which I
did not attempt to disguise. The thought of voluntarily throwing ourselves into
the hands of these cruel savages, seemed to me an act of mere madness; and
almost equally so the idea of venturing into the valley, uncertain by which of
these two tribes it was inhabited. That the vale at our feet was tenanted by
one of them, was a point that appeared to us past all doubt, since we knew that
they resided in this quarter, although our information did not enlighten us
My companion, however, incapable of resisting the tempting prospect which the
place held out of an abundant supply of food and other means of enjoyment,
still clung to his own inconsiderate view of the subject, nor could all my
reasoning shake it. When I reminded him that it was impossible for either of us
to know anything with certainty, and when I dwelt upon the horrible fate we
should encounter were we rashly to descend into the valley, and discover too
late the error we had committed, he replied by detailing all the evils of our
present condition, and the sufferings we must undergo should we continue to
remain where we then were.
Anxious to draw him away from the subject, if possible – for I saw that it
would be in vain to attempt changing his mind – I directed his attention to a
long bright unwooded tract of land which, sweeping down from the elevations in
the interior, descended into the valley before us. I then suggested to him that
beyond this ridge might lie a capacious and untenanted valley, abounding with
all manner of delicious fruits; for I had heard that there were several such
upon the island, and proposed that we should endeavour to reach it, and if we
found our expectations realized we should at once take refuge in it and remain
there as long as we pleased.
He acquiesced in the suggestion; and we immediately, therefore, began surveying
the country lying before us, with a view of determining upon the best route for
us to pursue; but it presented little choice, the whole interval being broken
into steep ridges, divided by dark ravines, extending in parallel lines at
right angles to our direct course. All these we would be obliged to cross
before we could hope to arrive at our destination.
A weary journey! But we decided to undertake it, though, for my own part, I
felt little prepared to encounter its fatigues, shivering and burning by turns
with the ague and fever; for I know not how else to describe the alternate
sensations I experienced, and suffering not a little from the lameness which
afflicted me. Added to this was the faintness consequent on our meagre diet – a
calamity in which Toby participated to the same extent as myself.
These circumstances, however, only augmented my anxiety to reach a place which
promised us plenty and repose, before I should be reduced to a state which
would render me altogether unable to perform the journey. Accordingly we now
commenced it by descending the almost perpendicular side of a steep and narrow
gorge, bristling with a thick growth of reeds. Here there was but one mode for
us to adopt. We seated ourselves upon the ground, and guided our descent by
catching at the canes in our path. The velocity with which we thus slid down
the side of the ravine soon brought us to a point where we could use our feet,
and in a short time we arrived at the edge of the torrent, which rolled
impetuously along the bed of the chasm.
After taking a refreshing draught from the water of the stream, we addressed
ourselves to a much more difficult undertaking than the last. Every foot of our
late descent had to be regained in ascending the opposite side of the gorge –
an operation rendered the less agreeable from the consideration that in these
perpendicular episodes we did not progress a hundred yards on our journey. But,
ungrateful as the task was, we set about it with exemplary patience, and after
a snail-like progress of an hour or more, had scaled perhaps one half of the
distance, when the fever which had left me for awhile returned with such
violence, and accompanied by so raging a thirst, that it required all the
entreaties of Toby to prevent me from losing all the fruits of my late
exertion, by precipitating myself madly down the cliffs we had just climbed, in
quest of the water which flowed so temptingly at their base. At the moment all
my hopes and fears appeared to be merged in this one desire, careless of the
consequences that might result from its gratification. I am aware of no
feeling, either of pleasure or of pain, that so completely deprives one of all
power to resist its impulses, as this same raging thirst.
Toby earnestly conjured me to continue the ascent, assuring me that a little
more exertion would bring us to the summit, and that then in less than five
minutes we should find ourselves at the brink of the stream, which must
necessarily on the other side of the ridge.
"Do not," he exclaimed, "turn back, now that we have proceeded
thus far; for I tell you that neither of us will have the courage to repeat the
attempt, if once more we find ourselves looking up to where we now are from the
bottom of these rocks!"
I was not yet so perfectly beside myself as to be heedless of these
representations, and therefore toiled on, ineffectually endeavouring to appease
the thirst which consumed me, by thinking that in a short time I should be able
to gratify it to my heart's content.
At last we gained the top of the second elevation, the loftiest of those I have
described as extending in parallel lines between us and the valley we desired
to reach. It commanded a view of the whole intervening distance; and,
discouraged as I was by other circumstances, this prospect plunged me into the
very depths of despair. Nothing but dark and fearful chasms, separated by sharp
crested and perpendicular ridges as far as the eye could reach. Could we have
stepped from summit to summit of these steep but narrow elevations we could
easily have accomplished the distance; but we must penetrate to the bottom of
every yawning gulf, and scale in succession every one of the eminences before
us. Even Toby, although not suffering as I did, was not proof against the
disheartening influences of the sight.
But we did not long stand to contemplate it, impatient as I was to reach the
waters of the torrent which flowed beneath us. With an insensibility to danger
which I cannot call to mind without shuddering, we threw ourselves down the
depths of the ravine, startling its savage solitudes with the echoes produced
by the falling fragments of rock we every moment dislodged from their places,
careless of the insecurity of our footing, and reckless whether the slight
roots and twigs we clutched at sustained us for the while, or treacherously
yielded to our grasp. For my own part, I scarcely knew whether I was helplessly
falling from the heights above, or whether the fearful rapidity with which I
descended was an act of my own volition.
In a few minutes we reached the foot of the gorge, and kneeling upon a small
ledge of dripping rocks, I bent over to the stream. What a delicious sensation
was I now to experience! I paused for a second to concentrate all my
capabilities of enjoyment, and then immerged my lips in the clear element
before me. Had the apples of Sodom turned to ashes in my mouth, I could not
have felt a more startling revulsion. A single drop of the cold fluid seemed to
freeze every drop of blood in my body; the fever that had been burning in my
veins gave place on the instant to deathlike chills, which shook me one after
another like so many shocks of electricity, while the perspiration produced by
my late violent exertions congealed in icy beads upon my forehead. My thirst
was gone, and I fairly loathed the water. Starting to my feet, the sight of
those dank rocks, oozing forth moisture at every crevice, and the dark stream
shooting along its dismal channel, sent fresh chills through my shivering
frame, and I felt as uncontrollable a desire to climb up towards the genial
sunlight as I before had to descend the ravine.
After two hours' perilous exertions we stood upon the summit of another ridge,
and it was with difficulty I could bring myself to believe that we had ever
penetrated the black and yawning chasm which then gaped at our feet. Again we
gazed upon the prospect which the height commanded, but it was just as
depressing as the one which had before met our eyes. I now felt that in our
present situation it was in vain for us to think of ever overcoming the
obstacles in our way, and I gave up all thoughts of reaching the vale which lay
beyond this series of impediments; while at the same time I could not devise
any scheme to extricate ourselves from the difficulties in which we were
The remotest idea of returning to Nukuheva unless assured of our vessel's
departure, never once entered my mind, and indeed it was questionable whether
we could have succeeded in reaching it, divided as we were from the bay by a
distance we could not compute, and perplexed too in our remembrance of
localities by our recent wanderings. Besides, it was unendurable the thought of
retracing our steps and rendering all our painful exertions of no avail.
There is scarcely anything when a man is in difficulties that he is more
disposed to look upon with abhorrence than a right-about retrograde movement –
a systematic going over of the already trodden ground: and especially if he has
a love of adventure, such a course appears indescribably repulsive, so long as
there remains the least hope to be derived from braving untried difficulties.
It was this feeling that prompted us to descend the opposite side of the
elevation we had just scaled, although with what definite object in view it
would have been impossible for either of us to tell.
Without exchanging a syllable upon the subject, Toby and myself simultaneously
renounced the design which had lured us thus far – perceiving in each other's
countenances that desponding expression which speaks more eloquently than
Together we stood towards the close of this weary day in the cavity of the
third gorge we had entered, wholly incapacitated for any further exertion,
until restored to some degree of strength by food and repose.
We seated ourselves upon the least uncomfortable spot we could select, and Toby
produced from the bosom of his frock the sacred package. In silence we partook
of the small morsel of refreshment that had been left from the morning's
repast, and without once proposing to violate the sanctity of our engagement
with respect to the remainder, we rose to our feet, and proceeded to construct
some sort of shelter under which we might obtain the sleep we so greatly
Fortunately the spot was better adapted to our purpose than the one in which we
had passed the last wretched night. We cleared away the tall reeds from a small
but almost level bit of ground, and twisted them into a low basket-like hut,
which we covered with a profusion of long thick leaves, gathered from a tree
near at hand. We disposed them thickly all around, reserving only a slight
opening that barely permitted us to crawl under the shelter we had thus
These deep recesses, though protected from the winds that assail the summits of
their lofty sides, are damp and chill to a degree that one would hardly
anticipate in such a climate; and being unprovided with anything but our
woollen frocks and thin duck trousers to resist the cold of the place, we were
the more solicitous to render our habitation for the night as comfortable as we
could. Accordingly, in addition to what we had already done, we plucked down
all the leaves within our reach and threw them in a heap over our little hut,
into which we now crept, raking after us a reserved supply to form our couch.
That night nothing but the pain I suffered prevented me from sleeping most
refreshingly. As it was, I caught two or three naps, while Toby slept away at
my side as soundly as though he had been sandwiched between two Holland sheets.
Luckily it did not rain, and we were preserved from the misery which a heavy
shower would have occasioned us.
In the morning I was awakened by the sonorous voice of my companion ringing in
my ears and bidding me rise. I crawled out from our heap of leaves, and was
astonished at the change which a good night's rest had wrought in his
appearance. He was as blithe and joyous as a young bird, and was staying the
keenness of his morning's appetite by chewing the soft bark of a delicate
branch he held in his hand, and he recommended the like to me, as an admirable
antidote against the gnawings of hunger.
For my own part, though feeling materially better than I had done the preceding
evening, I could not look at the limb that had pained me so violently at
intervals during the last twenty-four hours, without experiencing a sense of
alarm that I strove in vain to shake off. Unwilling to disturb the flow of my
comrade's spirits, I managed to stifle the complaints to which I might
otherwise have given vent, and calling upon him good-humouredly to speed our
banquet, I prepared myself for it by washing in the stream. This operation
concluded, we swallowed, or rather absorbed, by a peculiar kind of slow sucking
process, our respective morsels of nourishment, and then entered into a
discussion as to the steps it was necessary for us to pursue.
"What's to be done now?" inquired I, rather dolefully.
"Descend into that same valley we descried yesterday," rejoined Toby,
with a rapidity and loudness of utterance that almost led me to suspect he had
been slyly devouring the broadside of an ox in some of the adjoining thickets.
"What else," he continued, "remains for us to do but that, to be
sure? Why, we shall both starve, to a certainty, if we remain here; and as to
your fears of those Typees – depend upon it, it is all nonsense. It is
impossible that the inhabitants of such a lovely place as we saw can be
anything else but good fellows; and if you choose rather to perish with hunger
in one of these soppy caverns, I for one prefer to chance a bold descent into
the valley, and risk the consequences."
"And who is to pilot us thither," I asked, "even if we should
decide upon the measure you propose? Are we to go again up and down those
precipices that we crossed yesterday, until we reach the place we started from,
and then take a flying leap from the cliffs to the valley?"
"'Faith, I didn't think of that," said Toby; "sure enough, both
sides of the valley appeared to be hemmed in by precipices, didn't they?"
"Yes," answered I; "as steep as the sides of a line-of-battle
ship, and about a hundred times as high." My companion sank his head upon
his breast, and remained for awhile in deep thought. Suddenly he sprang to his
feet, while his eyes lighted up with that gleam of intelligence that marks the
presence of some bright idea.
"Yes, yes," he exclaimed; "the streams all run in the same
direction, and must necessarily flow into the valley before they reach the sea;
all we have to do is just to follow this stream, and sooner or later, it will
lead us into the vale."
"You are right, Toby," I exclaimed, "you are right; it conduct
us thither, and quickly, too; for, see with what a steep inclination the water
"It does, indeed," burst forth my companion, overjoyed at my
verification of his theory, "it does, indeed; why, it is as plain as a
pike-staff. Let us proceed at once; come, throw away all those stupid ideas
about the Typees, and hurrah for the lovely valley of the Happars!"
"You will have it to be Happar, I see, my dear fellow; pray Heaven, you
may not find yourself deceived," observed I, with a shake of my head.
"Amen to all that, and much more," shouted Toby, rushing forward;
"but Happar it is, for nothing else than Happar can it be. So glorious a
valley – such forests of bread-fruit trees – such groves of cocoa-nut – such
wildernesses of guava-bushes! Ah, shipmate! don't linger behind: in the name of
all delightful fruits, I am dying to be at them. Come on, come on; shove ahead,
there's a lively lad; never mind the rocks; kick them out of the way, as I do;
and to-morrow, old fellow, take my word for it, we shall be in clover. Come
on"; and so saying, he dashed along the ravine like a madman, forgetting
my inability to keep up with him. In a few minutes, however, the exuberance of
his spirits abated, and, pausing for awhile, he permitted me to overtake him.
FRIGHTFUL DESCENT TO THE RAVINE
THE fearless confidence of Toby was contagious, and I began to adopt the Happar
side of the question. I could not, however, overcome a certain feeling of
trepidation, as we made our way along these gloomy solitudes. Our progress, at
first comparatively easy, became more and more difficult. The bed of the
watercourse was covered with fragments of broken rocks, which had fallen from
above, offering so many obstructions to the course of the rapid stream, which
vexed and fretted about them, – forming at intervals small waterfalls, pouring
over into deep basins, or splashing wildly upon heaps of stones.
From the narrowness of the gorge, and the steepness of its sides, there was no
mode of advancing but by wading through the water; stumbling every moment over
the impediments which lay hidden under its surface, or tripping against the
huge roots of trees. But the most annoying hindrance we encountered was from a
multitude of crooked boughs, which, shooting out almost horizontally from the
sides of the chasm, twisted themselves together in fantastic masses almost to
the surface of the stream, affording us no passage except under the low arches
which they formed. Under these we were obliged to crawl on our hands and feet,
sliding along the oozy surface of the rocks, or slipping into the deep pools,
and with scarce light enough to guide us. Occasionally we would strike our
heads against some projecting limb of a tree; and while imprudently engaged in
rubbing the injured part, would fall sprawling amongst flinty fragments,
cutting and bruising ourselves, whilst the unpitying waters flowed over our
prostrate bodies. Belzoni, worming himself through the subterranean passages of
the Egyptian catacombs, could not have met with greater impediments than those
we here encountered. But we struggled against them manfully, well knowing our
only hope lay in advancing.
Towards sunset we halted at a spot where we made preparations for passing the
night. Here we constructed a hut, in much the same way as before, and crawling
into it, endeavoured to forget our sufferings. My companion, I believe, slept
pretty soundly; but at daybreak, when we rolled out of our dwelling, I felt
nearly disqualified for any further efforts. Toby prescribed as a remedy for my
illness the contents of one of our little silk packages, to be taken at once in
a single dose. To this species of medical treatment, however, I would by no
means accede, much as he insisted upon it; and so we partook of our usual
morsel, and silently resumed our journey. It was now the fourth day since we
left Nukuheva, and the gnawings of hunger became painfully acute. We were fain
to pacify them by chewing the tender bark of roots and twigs, which, if they
did not afford us nourishment, were at least sweet and pleasant to the taste.
Our progress along the steep watercourse was necessarily slow, and by noon we
had not advanced more than a mile. It was somewhere near this part of the day
that the noise of falling waters, which we had faintly caught in the early
morning, became more distinct; and it was not long before we were arrested by a
rocky precipice of nearly a hundred feet in depth, that extended all across the
channel, and over which the wild stream poured in an unbroken leap. On either
hand the walls of the ravine presented their overhanging sides both above and
below the fall, affording no means whatever of avoiding the cataract by taking
a circuit round it.
"What's to be done now, Toby?" said I.
"Why," rejoined he, "as we cannot retreat, I suppose we must
keep shoving along."
"Very true, my dear Toby; but how do you purpose accomplishing that
"By jumping from the top of the fall, if there be no other way,"
unhesitatingly replied my companion; "it will be much the quickest way of
descent; but as you are not quite as active as I am, we will try some other
And so saying, he crept cautiously along and peered over into the abyss, while
I remained wondering by what possible means we could overcome this apparently
insuperable obstruction. As soon as my companion had completed his survey, I
eagerly inquired the result.
"The result of my observations you wish to know, do you?" began Toby,
deliberately, with one of his odd looks: "well, my lad, the result of my
observations is very quickly imparted. It is at present uncertain which of our
two necks will have the honour to be broken first; but about a hundred to one
would be a fair bet in favour of the man who takes the first jump."
"Then it is an impossible thing, is it?" inquired I, gloomily.
"No, shipmate; on the contrary, it is the easiest thing in life: the only
awkward point is the sort of usage which our unhappy limbs may receive when we
arrive at the bottom, and what sort of travelling trim we shall be in
afterwards. But follow me now, and I will show you the only chance we
With this he conducted me to the verge of the cataract, and pointed along the
side of the ravine to a number of curious-looking roots, some three or four
inches in thickness, and several feet long, which, after twisting among the
fissures of the rock, shot perpendicularly from it, and ran tapering to a point
in the air, hanging over the gulf like so many dark icicles. They covered
nearly the entire surface of one side of the gorge, the lowest of them reaching
even to the water. Many were moss-grown and decayed, with their extremities
snapped short off, and those in the immediate vicinity of the fall were
slippery with moisture.
Toby's scheme, and it was a desperate one, was to entrust ourselves to these
treacherous-looking roots, and by slipping down from one to another to gain the
"Are you ready to venture it?" asked Toby, looking at me earnestly,
but without saying a word as to the practicability of the plan.
"I am," was my reply; for I saw it was our only resource if we wished
to advance, and as for retreating, all thoughts of that sort had been long
After I had signified my assent, Toby, without uttering a single word, crawled
along the dripping ledge until he gained a point from whence he could just
reach one of the largest of the pendant roots; he shook it – it quivered in his
grasp, and when he let it go, it twanged in the air like a strong wire sharply
struck. Satisfied by his scrutiny, my light-limbed companion swung himself
nimbly upon it, and twisting his legs round it in sailor fashion, slipped down
eight or ten feet, where his weight gave it a motion not unlike that of a
pendulum. He could not venture to descend any farther; so holding on with one
hand, he with the other shook one by one all the slender roots around him, and
at last, finding one which he thought trustworthy, shifted himself to it and
continued his downward progress.
So far so well; but I could not avoid comparing my heavier frame and disabled
condition with his light figure and remarkable activity: but there was no help
for it, and in less than a minute's time I was swinging directly over his head.
As soon as his upturned eyes caught a glimpse of me, he exclaimed in his usual
dry tone, for the danger did not seem to daunt him in the least, "Mate, do
me the kindness not to fall until I get out of your way"; and then
swinging himself more on one side, he continued his descent. In the meantime, I
cautiously transferred myself from the limb down which I had been slipping to a
couple of others that were near it, deeming two strings to my bow better than
one, and taking care to test their strength before I trusted my weight to them.
On arriving towards the end of the second stage in this vertical journey, and
shaking the long roots which were round me, to my consternation they snapped
off one after another like so many pipe stems, and fell in fragments against
the side of the gulf, splashing at last into the waters beneath.
As one after another the treacherous roots yielded to my grasp, and fell into
the torrent, my heart sunk within me. The branches on which I was suspended
over the yawning chasm swang to and fro in the air, and I expected them every
moment to snap in twain. Appalled at the dreadful fate that menaced me, I
clutched frantically at the only large root which remained near me; but in
vain; I could not reach it, though my fingers were within a few inches of it.
Again and again I tried to reach it, until at length, maddened with the thought
of my situation, I swayed myself violently by striking my foot against the side
of the rock, and at the instant that I approached the large root caught
desperately at it, and transferred myself to it. It vibrated violently under
the sudden weight, but fortunately did not give way.
My brain grew dizzy with the idea of the frightful risk I had just run, and I
involuntarily closed my eyes to shut out the view of the depth beneath me. For
the instant I was safe, and I uttered a devout ejaculation of thanksgiving for
"Pretty well done," shouted Toby underneath me; "you are nimbler
than I thought you to be – hopping about up there from root to root like any
young squirrel. As soon as you have diverted yourself sufficiently, I would
advise you to proceed."
"Ay, ay, Toby, all in good time: two or three more such famous roots as
this, and I shall be with you."
The residue of my downward progress was comparatively easy; the roots were in
greater abundance, and in one or two places jutting out points of rock assisted
me greatly. In a few moments I was standing by the side of my companion.
Substituting a stout stick for the one I had thrown aside at the top of the
precipice, we now continued our course along the bed of the ravine. Soon we
were saluted by a sound in advance, that grew by degrees louder and louder, as
the noise of the cataract we were leaving behind gradually died oh our ears.
"Another precipice for us, Toby."
"Very good; we can descend them, you know – come on."
Nothing indeed appeared to depress or intimidate this intrepid fellow. Typees
or Niagaras, he was as ready to engage one as the other, and I could not avoid
a thousand times congratulating myself upon having such a companion in an
enterprise like the present.
After an hour's painful progress, we reached the verge of another fall, still
loftier than the preceding, and flanked both above and below with the same
steep masses of rock, presenting, however, here and there narrow irregular
ledges, supporting a shallow soil, on which grew a variety of bushes and trees,
whose bright verdure contrasted beautifully with the foamy waters that flowed
Toby, who invariably acted as pioneer, now proceeded to reconnoitre. On his
return, he reported that the shelves of rock on our right would enable us to
gain with little risk the bottom of the cataract. Accordingly, leaving the bed
of the stream at the very point where it thundered down, we began crawling
along one of these sloping ledges until it carried us to within a few feet of
another that inclined downward at a still sharper angle, and upon which, by
assisting each other, we managed to alight in safety. We warily crept along
this, steadying ourselves by the naked roots of the shrubs that clung to every
fissure. As we proceeded, the narrow path became still more contracted,
rendering it difficult for us to maintain our footing, until suddenly, as we
reached an angle of the wall of rock where we had expected it to widen, we
perceived to our consternation, that a yard or two farther on it abruptly
terminated at a place we could not possibly hope to pass.
Toby, as usual, led the van, and in silence I waited to learn from him how he
proposed to extricate us from this new difficulty.
"Well, my boy," I exclaimed, after the expiration of several minutes,
during which time my companion had not uttered a word: "what's to be done
He replied in a tranquil tone that probably the best thing we could do in the
present strait was to get out of it as soon as possible.
"Yes, my dear Toby, but tell me how we are to get out of it."
"Something in this sort of style," he replied; and at the same
moment, to my horror, he slipped sideways off the rock, and, as I then thought,
by good fortune merely, alighted among the spreading branches of a species of
palm tree, that shooting its hardy roots along a ledge below, curved its trunk
upwards into the air, and presented a thick mass of foliage about twenty feet
below the spot where we had thus suddenly been brought to a stand-still. I
involuntarily held my breath, expecting to see the form of my companion, after
being sustained for a moment by the branches of the tree, sink through their
frail support, and fall headlong to the bottom. To my surprise and joy,
however, he recovered himself, and disentangling his limbs from the fractured
branches, he peered out from his leafy bed, and shouted lustily, "Come on,
my hearty, there is no other alternative!" and with this he ducked beneath
the foliage, and slipping down the trunk, stood in a moment at least fifty feet
beneath me, upon the broad shelf of rock from which sprung the tree he had
What would I not have given at that moment to have been by his side? The feat
he had just accomplished seemed little less than miraculous, and I could hardly
credit the evidence of my senses when I saw the wide distance that a single
daring act had so suddenly placed between us.
Toby's animating "come on!" again sounded in my ears, and dreading to
lose all confidence myself if I remained meditating upon the step, I once more
gazed down to assure myself of the relative bearing of the tree and my own
position, and then closing my eyes and uttering one comprehensive ejaculation
of prayer, I inclined myself over towards the abyss, and after one breathless
instant fell with a crash into the tree, the branches snapping and crackling
with my weight, as I sunk lower and lower among them, until I was stopped by
coming in contact with a sturdy limb.
In a few moments I was standing at the foot of the tree, manipulating myself
all over with a view of ascertaining the extent of the injuries had received.
To my surprise the only effects of my feat were a few slight contusions too
trifling to care about. The rest of our descent was easily accomplished, and in
half an hour after regaining the ravine, we had partaken of our evening morsel,
built our hut as usual, and crawled under its shelter.
The next morning, in spite of our debility and the agony of hunger under which
we were now suffering, though neither of us confessed to the fact, we struggled
along our dismal and still difficult and dangerous path, cheered by the hope of
soon catching a glimpse of the valley before us, and towards evening the voice
of a cataract which had for some time sounded like a low deep bass to the music
of the smaller waterfalls, broke upon our ears in still louder tones, and
assured us that we were approaching its vicinity.
That evening we stood on the brink of a precipice, over which the dark stream
bounded in one final leap of full 300 feet. The sheer descent terminated in the
region we so long had sought. On either side of the fall, two lofty and
perpendicular bluffs buttressed the sides of the enormous cliff, and projected
into the sea of verdure with which the valley waved, and a range of similar
projecting eminences stood disposed in a half circle about the head of the
vale. A thick canopy of trees hung over the very verge of the fall, leaving an
arched aperture for the passage of the waters, which imparted a strange
picturesqueness to the scene.
The valley was now before us; but instead of being conducted into its smiling
bosom by the gradual descent of the deep watercourse we had thus far pursued,
all our labours now appeared to have been rendered futile by its abrupt
termination. But, bitterly disappointed, we did not entirely despair.
As it was now near sunset we determined to pass the night where we were, and on
the morrow, refreshed by sleep, and by eating at one meal all our stock of
food, to accomplish a descent into the valley, or perish in the attempt.
We laid ourselves down that night on a spot, the recollection of which still
makes me shudder. A small table of rock which projected over the precipice on
one side of the stream, and was drenched by the spray of the fall, sustained a
huge trunk of a tree which must have been deposited there by some heavy
freshet. It lay obliquely, with one end resting on the rock and the other
supported by the side of the ravine. Against it we placed in a sloping
direction a number of the half-decayed boughs that were strewn about, and
covering the whole with twigs and leaves, awaited the morning's light beneath
such shelter as it afforded.
During the whole of this night the continual roaring of the cataract – the
dismal moaning of the gale through the trees – the pattering of the rain, and
the profound darkness, affected my spirits to a degree which nothing had ever
before produced. Wet, half-famished, and chilled to the heart with the dampness
of the place, and nearly wild with the pain I endured, I fairly cowered down to
the earth under this multiplication of hardships, and abandoned myself to
frightful anticipations of evil; and my companion, whose spirit at last was a
good deal broken, scarcely uttered a word during the whole night.
At length the day dawned upon us, and rising from our miserable pallet, we
stretched our stiffened joints, and after eating all that remained of our
bread, prepared for the last stage of our journey.
I will not recount every hairbreadth escape, and every fearful difficulty that
occurred before we succeeded in reaching the bosom of the valley. As I have
already described similar scenes, it will be sufficient to say that at length,
after great toil and great dangers, we both stood with no limbs broken at the
head of that magnificent vale which five days before had so suddenly burst upon
my sight, and almost beneath the shadow of those very cliffs from whose summits
we had gazed upon the prospect.
TYPEE OR HAPPAR?
HOW to obtain the fruit which we felt convinced must grow near at hand was our
first thought. Typee or Happar? A frightful death at the hands of the fiercest
of cannibals, or a kindly reception from a gentler race of savages? Which? But
it was too late now to discuss a question which would so soon be answered.
The part of the valley in which we found ourselves appeared to be altogether uninhabited.
An almost impenetrable thicket extended from side to side, without presenting a
single plant affording the nourishment we had confidently calculated upon; and
with this object, we followed the course of the stream, casting quick glances
as we proceeded into the thick jungles on either hand.
My companion – to whose solicitations I had yielded in descending into the
valley – now that the step was taken, began to manifest a degree of caution I
had little expected from him. He proposed that in the event of our finding an
adequate supply of fruit, we should remain in this unfrequented portion of the
valley – where we should run little chance of being surprised by its occupants,
whoever they might be – until sufficiently recruited to resume our journey;
when laying in a store of food equal to our wants, we might easily regain the
bay of Nukuheva, after the lapse of a sufficient interval to ensure the
departure of our vessel.
I objected strongly to this proposition, plausible as it was, as the difficulties
of the route would be almost insurmountable, unacquainted as we were with the
general bearings of the country, and I reminded my companion of the hardships
which we had already encountered in our uncertain wanderings; in a word, I said
that since we had deemed it advisable to enter the valley, we ought manfully to
face the consequences, whatever they might be; the more especially as I was
convinced there was no alternative left us but to fall in with the natives at
once, and boldly risk the reception they might give us: and that as to myself,
I felt the necessity of rest and shelter, and that until I had obtained them, I
should be wholly unable to encounter such sufferings as we had lately passed
through. To the justice of these observations Toby somewhat reluctantly
We were surprised that, after moving as far as we had along the valley, we
should still meet with the same impervious thickets; and thinking that although
the borders of the stream might be lined for some distance with them, yet beyond
there might be more open ground, I requested Toby to keep a bright look-out
upon one side, while I did the same on the other, in order to discover some
opening in the bushes, and especially to watch for the slightest appearance of
a path or anything else that might indicate the vicinity of the islanders.
What furtive and anxious glances we cast into those dim-looking shades! With
what apprehensions we proceeded, ignorant at what moment we might be greeted by
the javelin of some ambushed savage! At last my companion paused, and directed
my attention to a narrow opening in the foliage. We struck into it, and it soon
brought us by an indistinctly traced path to a comparatively clear space, at
the farther end of which we descried a number of the trees, the native name of
which is "annuee," and which bear a most delicious fruit.
What a race! I hobbling over the ground like some decrepit wretch, and Toby
leaping forward like a greyhound. He quickly cleared one of the trees on which
there were two or three of the fruit, but to our chagrin they proved to be much
decayed; the rinds partly opened by the birds, and their hearts half devoured.
However, we quickly despatched them, and no ambrosia could have been more
We looked about us uncertain whither to direct our steps, since the path we had
so far followed appeared to be lost in the open space around us. At last we
resolved to enter a grove near at hand, and had advanced a few rods, when, just
upon its skirts, I picked up a slender bread-fruit shoot perfectly green, and
with the tender bark freshly stript from it. It was slippery with moisture, and
appeared as if it had been but that moment thrown aside. I said nothing, but
merely held it up to Toby, who started at this undeniable evidence of the vicinity
of the savages.
The plot was now thickening. – A short distance farther lay a little faggot of
the same shoots bound together with a strip of bark. Could it have been thrown
down by some solitary native, who, alarmed at seeing us, had hurried forward to
carry the tidings of our approach to his countrymen? – Typee or Happar? – But
it was too late to recede, so we moved on slowly, my companion in advance
casting eager glances under the trees on either side, until all at once I saw
him recoil as if stung by an adder. Sinking on his knee, he waved me off with
one hand, while with the other he held aside some intervening leaves, and gazed
intently at some object.
Disregarding his injunction, I quickly approached him and caught a glimpse of
two figures partly hidden by the dense foliage; they were standing close
together, and were perfectly motionless. They must have previously perceived
us, and withdrawn into the depths of the wood to elude our observation.
My mind was at once made up. Dropping my staff, and tearing open the package of
things we had brought from the ship, I unrolled the cotton cloth, and holding
it in one hand, plucked with the other a twig from the bushes beside me, and
telling Toby to follow my example, I broke through the covert and advanced,
waving the branch in token of peace towards the shrinking forms before me.
They were a boy and a girl, slender and graceful, and completely naked, with
the exception of a slight girdle of bark, from which depended at opposite
points two of the russet leaves of the bread-fruit tree. An arm of the boy,
half screened from sight by her wild tresses, was thrown about the neck of the
girl, while with the other he held one of her hands in his; and thus they stood
together, their heads inclined forward, catching the faint noise we made in our
progress, and with one foot in advance, as if half inclined to fly from our
As we drew near, their alarm evidently increased. Apprehensive that they might
fly from us altogether, I stopped short and motioned them to advance and
receive the gift I extended towards them, but they would not; I then uttered a
few words of their language with which I was acquainted, scarcely expecting
that they would understand me, but to show that we had not dropped from the
clouds upon them. This appeared to give them a little confidence, so I
approached nearer, presenting the cloth with one hand, and holding the bough
with the other, while they slowly retreated. At last they suffered us to
approach so near to them that we were enabled to throw the cotton cloth across
their shoulders, giving them to understand that it was theirs, and by a variety
of gestures endeavouring to make them understand that we entertained the
highest possible regard for them.
The frightened pair now stood still, whilst we endeavoured to make them
comprehend the nature of our wants. In doing this Toby went through with a
complete series of pantomimic illustrations – opening his mouth from ear to
ear, and thrusting his fingers down his throat, gnashing his teeth and rolling
his eyes about, till I verily believe the poor creatures took us for a couple
of white cannibals who were about to make a meal of them. When, however, they
understood us, they showed no inclination to relieve our wants. At this juncture
it began to rain violently, and we motioned them to lead us to some place of
shelter. With this request they appeared willing to comply, but nothing could
evince more strongly the apprehension with which they regarded us, than the way
in which, whilst walking before us, they kept their eyes constantly turned back
to watch every movement we made, and even our very looks.
"Typee or Happar, Toby?" asked I, as we walked after them.
"Of course, Happar," he replied, with a show of confidence which was
intended to disguise his doubts.
"We shall soon know," I exclaimed; and at the same moment I stepped
forward towards our guides, and pronouncing the two names interrogatively, and
pointing to the lowest part of the valley, endeavoured to come to the point at
once. They repeated the words after me again and again, but without giving any
peculiar emphasis to either, so that I was completely at a loss to understand
them; for a couple of wilier young things than we afterwards found them to have
been on this particular occasion never probably fell in any traveller's way.
More and more curious to ascertain our fate, I now threw together in the form
of a question the words "Happar" and "Mortarkee," the
latter being equivalent to the word "good." The two natives
interchanged glances of peculiar meaning with one another at this, and
manifested no little surprise; but on the repetition of the question, after
some consultation together, to the great joy of Toby, they answered in the
affirmative. Toby was now in ecstasies, especially as the young savages
continued to reiterate their answer with great energy, as though desirous of
impressing us with the idea that being among the Happars, we ought consider
ourselves perfectly secure.
Although I had some lingering doubts, I feigned great delight with Toby at this
announcement, while my companion broke out into a pantomimic abhorrence of
Typee, and immeasurable love for the particular valley in which we were; our
guides all the while gazing uneasily at one another, as if at a loss to account
for our conduct.
They hurried on, and we followed them; until suddenly they set up a strange
halloo, which was answered from beyond the grove through which we were passing,
and the next moment we entered upon some open ground, at the extremity of which
we descried a long, low hut, and in front of it were several young girls. As
soon as they perceived us they fled with wild screams into the adjoining
thickets, so many startled fawns. A few moments after the whole valley
resounded with savage outcries, and the natives came running towards us from
Had an army of invaders made an irruption into their territory, they could not
have evinced greater excitement. We were soon completely encircled by a dense
throng, and in their eager desire to behold us, they almost arrested our
progress; an equal number surrounding our youthful guides, who, with amazing
volubility, appeared to be detailing the circumstances which had attended their
meeting with us. Every item of intelligence appeared to redouble the
astonishment of the islanders, and they gazed at us with inquiring looks.
At last we reached a large and handsome building of bamboos, and were by signs
told to enter it, the natives opening a lane for us through which to pass; on
entering, without ceremony we threw our exhausted frames upon the mats that
covered the floor. In a moment the slight tenement was completely full of
people, whilst those who were unable to obtain admittance gazed at us through
its open cane-work.
It was now evening, and by the dim light we could just discern the savage
countenances around us, gleaming with wild curiosity and wonder; the naked
forms and tattooed limbs of brawny warriors, with here and there the slighter
figures of young girls, all engaged in a perfect storm of conversation, of
which we were of course the one only theme; whilst our recent guides were fully
occupied in answering the innumerable questions which every one put to them.
Nothing can exceed the fierce gesticulation of these people when animated in
conversation, and on this occasion they gave loose to all their natural
vivacity, shouting and dancing about in a manner that well-nigh intimidated us.
Close to where we lay, squatting upon their haunches, were some eight or ten
noble-looking chiefs – for such they subsequently proved to be – who, more
reserved than the rest, regarded us with a fixed and stern attention, which not
a little discomposed our equanimity. One of them in particular, who appeared to
be the highest in rank, placed himself directly facing me, looking at me with a
rigidity of aspect under which I absolutely quailed. He never once opened his
lips, but maintained his severe expression of countenance, without turning his
face aside for a single moment. Never before had I been subjected to so strange
and steady a glance; it revealed nothing of the mind of the savage, but it
appeared to be reading my own.
After undergoing this scrutiny till I grew absolutely nervous, with a view of
diverting it if possible, and conciliating the good opinion of the warrior, I
took some tobacco from the bosom of my frock, and offered it to him. He quietly
rejected the proffered gift, and, without speaking, motioned me to return it to
In my previous intercourse with the natives of Nukuheva and Tior, I had found
that the present of a small piece of tobacco would have rendered any of them
devoted to my service. Was this act of the chief a token of his enmity? Typee
or Happar? I asked within myself. I started, for at the same moment this
identical question was asked by the strange being before me. I turned to Toby;
the flickering light of a native taper showed me his countenance pale with
trepidation at this fatal question. I paused for a second, and I know not by
what impulse it was that I answered, "Typee." The piece of dusky
statuary nodded in approval, and then murmured, "Mortarkee?"
"Mortarkee," said I, without further hesitation – "Typee
What a transition! The dark figures around us leaped to their feet, clapped
their hands in transport, and shouted again and again the talismanic syllables,
the utterance of which appeared to have settled everything.
When this commotion had a little subsided, the principal chief squatted once
more before me, and throwing himself into a sudden rage, poured forth a string
of philippics, which I was at no loss to understand, from the frequent
recurrence of the word Happar, as being directed against the natives of the
adjoining valley. In all these denunciations my companion and I acquiesced,
while we extolled the character of the warlike Typees. To be sure our
panegyrics were somewhat laconic, consisting in the repetition of that name,
united with the potent adjective, "Mortarkee." But this was
sufficient, and served to conciliate the good-will of the natives, with whom
our congeniality of sentiment on this point did more towards inspiring a
friendly feeling than anything else that could have happened.
At last the wrath of the chief evaporated, and in a few moments he was as
placid as ever. Laying his hand upon his breast, he gave me to understand that
his name was "Mehevi," and that, in return, he wished me to
communicate my appellation. I hesitated for an instant, thinking that it might
be difficult for him to pronounce my real name, and then, with the most
praiseworthy intentions, intimated that I was known as "Tom." But I
could not have made a worse selection; the chief could not master it:
"Tommo," "Tomma," "Tommee," everything but plain
"Tom." As he persisted in garnishing the word with an additional
syllable, I compromised the matter with him at the word "Tommo"; and
by that name I went during the entire period of my stay in the valley. The same
proceeding was gone through with Toby, whose mellifluous appellation was more
An exchange of names is equivalent to a ratification of good-will and amity
among these simple people; and as we were aware of this fact, we were delighted
that it had taken place on the present occasion.
Reclining upon our mats, we now held a kind of levee, giving audience to
successive troops of the natives, who introduced themselves to us by
pronouncing their respective names, and retired in high good humour on
receiving ours in return. During the ceremony the greatest merriment prevailed,
nearly every announcement on the part of the islanders being followed by a
fresh sally of gaiety, which induced me to believe that some of them at least
were innocently diverting the company at our expense, by bestowing upon
themselves a string of absurd titles, of the honour of which we were, of
course, entirely ignorant.
All this occupied about an hour, when the throng having a little diminished, I
turned to Mehevi, and gave him to understand that we were in need of food and
sleep. Immediately the attentive chief addressed a few words to one of the
crowd, who disappeared, and returned in a few moments with a calabash of
"poee-poee," and two or three young cocoa-nuts stripped of their
husks, and with their shells partly broken. We both of us forthwith placed one
of these natural goblets to our lips, and drained it in a moment of the
refreshing draught it contained. The poee-poee was then placed before us, and
even famished as I was, I paused to consider in what manner to convey it to my
This staple article of food among the Marquese islanders is manufactured from
the produce of the bread-fruit tree. It somewhat resembles in its plastic
nature our bookbinders' paste, is of a yellow colour, and somewhat tart to the
Such was the dish, the merits of which I was now eager to discuss. I eyed it
wistfully for a moment, and then, unable any longer to stand on ceremony,
plunged my hand into the yielding mass, and to the boisterous mirth of the
natives drew it forth laden with the poee-poee, which adhered in lengthening
strings to every finger. So stubborn was its consistency, that in conveying my
heavily-freighted hand to my mouth, the connecting links almost raised the
calabash from the mats on which it had been placed. This display of awkwardness
– in which, by the bye, Toby kept me company – convulsed the bystanders with
As soon as their merriment had somewhat subsided, Mehevi, motioning us to be
attentive, dipped the forefinger of his right hand in the dish, and giving it a
rapid and scientific twirl, drew it out coated smoothly with the preparation.
With a second peculiar flourish he prevented the poee-poee from dropping to the
ground as he raised it to his mouth, into which the finger was inserted, and
drawn forth perfectly free from any adhesive matter. This performance was
evidently intended for our instruction; so I again essayed the feat on the
principles inculcated, but with ill success.
A starving man, however, little heeds conventional proprieties, especially on a
South Sea island, and accordingly Toby and I partook of the dish after our own
clumsy fashion, beplastering our faces all over with the glutinous compound,
and daubing our hands nearly to the wrist. This kind of food is by no means
disagreeable to the palate of a European, though at first the mode of eating it
may be. For my own part, after the lapse of a few days I became accustomed to
its singular flavour, and grew remarkably fond of it.
So much for the first course; several other dishes followed it, some of which
were positively delicious. We concluded our banquet by tossing off the contents
of two more young cocoa-nuts, after which we regaled ourselves with the
soothing fumes of tobacco, inhaled from a quaintly carved pipe which passed
round the circle.
During the repast, the natives eyed us with intense curiosity, observing our
minutest motions, and appearing to discover abundant matter for comment in the
most trifling occurrence. Their surprise mounted the highest, when we began to
remove our uncomfortable garments, which were saturated with rain. They scanned
the whiteness of our limbs, and seemed utterly unable to account for the
contrast they presented to the swarthy hue of our faces, embrowned from a six
months' exposure to the scorching sun of the Line. They felt our skin, much in
the same way that a silk mercer would handle a remarkably fine piece of satin;
and some of them went so far in their investigation as to apply the olfactory
Their singular behaviour almost led me to imagine that they never before had
beheld a white man; but a few moments' reflection convinced me that this could
not have been the case; and a more satisfactory reason for their conduct has
since suggested itself to my mind.
Deterred by the frightful stories related of its inhabitants, ships never enter
this bay, while their hostile relations with the tribes in the adjoining
valleys prevent the Typees from visiting that section of the island where
vessels occasionally lie. At long intervals, however, some intrepid captain
will touch on the skirts of the bay, with two or three armed boats' crews, and
accompanied by an interpreter. The natives who live near the sea descry the
strangers long before they reach their waters, and aware of the purpose for
which they come, proclaim loudly the news of their approach. By a species of
vocal telegraph the intelligence reaches the inmost recesses of the vale in an
inconceivably short space of time, drawing nearly its whole population down to
the beach laden with every variety of fruit. The interpreter, who is invariably
a "tabooed Kannaka,"* leaps ashore with the goods intended for
barter, while the boats, with their oars shipped, and every man on his thwart,
lie just outside the surf, heading off from the shore, in readiness at the
first untoward event to escape to the open sea. As soon as the traffic is
concluded, one of the boats pulls in under cover of the muskets of the others,
the fruit is quickly thrown into her, and the transient visitors precipitately
retire from what they justly consider so dangerous a vicinity.
* The word "kannaka" is at the present day universally used in the
South Sea by Europeans to designate the islanders. In the various dialects of
the principal groups it is simply a sexual designation applied to the males;
but it is now used by the natives in their intercourse with foreigners in the
same sense in which the latter employ it.
A "tabooed kannaka" is an islander whose person has been made, to a
certain extent, sacred by the operation of a singular custom hereafter to be
The intercourse occurring with Europeans being so restricted, no wonder that
the inhabitants of the valley manifested so much curiosity with regard to us,
appearing as we did among them under such singular circumstances. I have no
doubt that we were the first white men who ever penetrated thus far back into
their territories, or at least the first who had ever descended from the head
of the vale. What had brought us thither must have appeared a complete mystery
to them, and from our ignorance of the language it was impossible for us to
enlighten them. In answer to inquiries which the eloquence of their gestures
enabled us to comprehend, all that we could reply was, that we had come from
Nukuheva, a place, be it remembered, with which they were at open war. This
intelligence appeared to affect them with the most lively emotions.
"Nukuheva mortarkee?" they asked. Of course we replied most
energetically in the negative.
They then plied us with a thousand questions, of which we could understand
nothing more than that they had reference to the recent movements of the
French, against whom they seemed to cherish the most fierce hatred. So eager
were they to obtain information on this point, that they still continued to
propound their queries long after we had shown that we were utterly unable to
answer them. Occasionally we caught some indistinct idea of their meaning, when
we would endeavour by every method in our power to communicate the desired
intelligence. At such times their gratification was boundless, and they would
redouble their efforts to make us comprehend them more perfectly. But all in
vain; and in the end they looked at us despairingly, as if we were the
receptacles of invaluable information, but how to come at it they knew not.
After awhile the group around us gradually dispersed, and we were left about
midnight (as we conjectured) with those who appeared to be permanent residents
of the house. These individuals now provided us with fresh mats to lie upon,
covered us with several folds of tappa, and then extinguishing the tapers that
had been burning, threw themselves down beside us, and after a little desultory
conversation were soon sound asleep.
VARIOUS and conflicting were the thoughts which oppressed me during the silent
hours that followed the events related in the preceding chapter. Toby, wearied
with the fatigues of the day, slumbered heavily by my side; but the pain under
which I was suffering effectually prevented my sleeping, and I remained
distressingly alive to all the fearful circumstances of our present situation.
Was it possible that, after all our vicissitudes, we were really in the
terrible valley of Typee, and at the mercy of its inmates, a fierce and
unrelenting tribe of savages?
Typee or Happar? I shuddered when I reflected that there was no longer any room
for doubt; and that, beyond all hope of escape, we were now placed in those
very circumstances from the bare thought of which I had recoiled with such
abhorrence but a few days before. What might not be our fearful destiny? To be
sure, as yet, we had been treated with no violence; nay, had been even kindly
and hospitably entertained. But what dependence could be placed upon the fickle
passions which sway the bosom of a savage? His inconstancy and treachery are
proverbial. Might it not be that, beneath these fair appearances, the islanders
covered some perfidious design, and that their friendly reception of us might
only precede some horrible catastrophe? How strongly did these forebodings
spring up in my mind, as I lay restlessly upon a couch of mats, surrounded by
the dimly-revealed forms of those whom I so greatly dreaded.
From the excitement of these fearful thoughts, I sank, towards morning, into an
uneasy slumber; and on awaking, with a start, in the midst of an appalling
dream, looked up into the eager countenances of a number of the natives, who
were bending over me.
It was broad day; and the house was nearly filled with young females,
fancifully decorated with flowers, who gazed upon me as I rose with faces in
which childish delight and curiosity were vividly portrayed. After waking Toby,
they seated themselves round us on the mats, and gave full play to that prying
inquisitiveness which, time out of mind, has been attributed to the adorable sex.
As these unsophisticated young creatures were attended by no jealous duennas,
their proceedings were altogether informal, and void of artificial restraint.
Long and minute was the investigation with which they honoured us, and so
uproarious their mirth, that I felt infinitely sheepish; and Toby was
immeasurably outraged at their familiarity.
These lively young ladies were at the same time wonderfully polite and humane;
fanning aside the insects that occasionally lighted on our brows; presenting us
with food; and compassionately regarding me in the midst of my afflictions. But
in spite of all their blandishments, my feelings of propriety were exceedingly
shocked, for I could not but consider them as having overstepped the due limits
of female decorum.
Having diverted themselves to their hearts' content, our young visitants now
withdrew, and gave place to successive troops of the other sex, who continued
flocking towards the house until near noon; by which time I have no doubt that
the greater part of the inhabitants of the valley had bathed themselves in the
light of our benignant countenances.
At last, when their numbers began to diminish, a superb-looking warrior stooped
the towering plumes of his head-dress beneath the low portal, and entered the
house. I saw at once that he was some distinguished personage, the natives
regarding him with the utmost deference, and making room for him as he
approached. His aspect was imposing. The splendid long drooping tail-feathers
of the tropical bird, thickly interspersed with the gaudy plumage of the cock,
were disposed in an immense upright semicircle upon his head, their lower
extremities being fixed in a crescent of guinea-beads which spanned the
forehead. Around his neck were several enormous necklaces of boar's tusks,
polished like ivory, and disposed in such a manner as that the longest and
largest were upon his capacious chest. Thrust forward through the large
apertures in his ears were two small and finely shaped sperm-whale teeth,
presenting their cavities in front, stuffed with freshly-plucked leaves, and
curiously wrought at the other end into strange little images and devices.
These barbaric trinkets, garnished in this manner at their open extremities,
and tapering and curving round to a point behind the ear, resembled not a
little a pair of cornucopias.
The loins of the warrior were girt about with heavy folds of a dark-coloured
tappa, hanging before and behind in clusters of braided tassels, while anklets
and bracelets of curling human hair completed his unique costume. In his right
hand he grasped a beautifully-carved paddle-spear, nearly fifteen feet in
length, made of the bright koar-wood, one end sharply pointed, and the other
flattened like an oar-blade. Hanging obliquely from his girdle by a loop of
sinnate, was a richly-decorated pipe; the slender reed forming its stem was
coloured with a red pigment, and round it, as well as the idol-bowl, fluttered
little streamers of the thinnest tappa.
But that which was most remarkable in the appearance of this splendid islander,
was the elaborate tattooing displayed on every noble limb. All imaginable lines
and curves and figures were delineated over his whole body, and in their
grotesque variety and infinite profusion, I could only compare them to the
crowded groupings of quaint patterns we sometimes see in costly pieces of
lace-work. The most simple and remarkable of all these ornaments was that which
decorated the countenance of the chief. Two broad stripes of tattooing,
diverging from the centre of his shaven crown, obliquely crossed both eyes –
staining the lids – to a little below either ear, where they united with
another stripe, which swept in a straight line along the lips, and formed the
base of the triangle. The warrior, from the excellence of his physical
proportions, might certainly have been regarded as one of nature's noblemen,
and the lines drawn upon his face may possibly have denoted his exalted rank.
This warlike personage, upon entering the house, seated himself at some
distance from the spot where Toby and myself reposed, while the rest of the
savages looked alternately from us to him, as if in expectation of something
they were disappointed in not perceiving. Regarding the chief attentively, I
thought his lineaments appeared familiar to me. As soon as his full face was
turned upon me, and I again beheld its extraordinary embellishment, and met the
strange gaze to which I had been subjected the preceding night, I immediately,
in spite of the alteration in his appearance, recognised the noble Mehevi. On
addressing him, he advanced at once in the most cordial manner, and greeting me
warmly, seemed to enjoy not a little the effect his barbaric costume had
produced upon me.
I forthwith determined to secure, if possible, the goodwill of this individual,
as I easily perceived he was a man of great authority in his tribe, and one who
might exert a powerful influence upon our subsequent fate. In the endeavour I
was not repulsed; for nothing could surpass the friendliness he manifested
towards both my companion and myself. He extended his sturdy limbs by our side,
and endeavoured to make us comprehend the full extent of the kindly feelings by
which he was actuated. The almost insuperable difficulty in communicating to
one another our ideas, affected the chief with no little mortification. He
evinced a great desire to be enlightened with regard to the customs and
peculiarities of the far-off country we had left behind us, and to which, under
the name of Maneeka, he frequently alluded.
But that which more than any other subject engaged his attention, was the late
proceedings of the "Franee," as he called the French, in the
neighbouring bay of Nukuheva. This seemed a never-ending theme with him, and
one concerning which he was never weary of interrogating us. All the
information we succeeded in imparting to him on this subject was little more
than that we had seen six men-of-war lying in the hostile bay at the time we
had left it. When he received this intelligence, Mehevi, by the aid of his fingers,
went through a long numerical calculation, as if estimating the number of
Frenchmen the squadron might contain.
It was just after employing his faculties in this way that he happened to
notice the swelling in my limb. He immediately examined it with the utmost
attention, and after doing so, despatched a boy, who happened to be standing
by, with some message.
After the lapse of a few moments the stripling re-entered the house with an
aged islander, who might have been taken for old Hippocrates himself. His head
was as bald as the polished surface of a cocoa-nut shell, which article it
precisely resembled in smoothness and colour, while a long silvery beard swept
almost to his girdle of bark. Encircling his temples was a bandeau of the
twisted leaves of the Omoo tree, pressed closely over the brows to shield his
feeble vision from the glare of the sun. His tottering steps were supported by
a long slim staff, resembling the wand with which a theatrical magician appears
on the stage, and in one hand he carried a freshly-plaited fan of the green
leaflets of the cocoa-nut tree. A flowing robe of tappa, knotted over the
shoulder, hung loosely round his stooping form, and heightened the
venerableness of his aspect.
Mehevi, saluting this old gentleman, motioned him to a seat between us, and
then uncovering my limb, desired him to examine it. The leech gazed intently
from me to Toby, and then proceeded to business. After diligently observing the
ailing member, he commenced manipulating it; and on the supposition probably
that the complaint had deprived the leg of all sensation, began to pinch and
hammer it in such a manner that I absolutely roared with the pain. Thinking
that I was as capable of making an application of thumps and pinches to the
part as any one else, I endeavoured to resist this species of medical
treatment. But it was not so easy a matter to get out of the clutches of the
old wizard; he fastened on the unfortunate limb as if it were something for
which he had been long seeking, and muttering some kind of incantation
continued his discipline, pounding it after a fashion that set me well-nigh
crazy; while Mehevi, upon the same principle which prompts an affectionate
mother to hold a struggling child in a dentist's chair, restrained me in his
powerful grasp, and actually encouraged the wretch in this infliction of
Almost frantic with rage and pain, I yelled like a bedlamite; while Toby,
throwing himself into all the attitudes of a posture-master, vainly endeavoured
to expostulate with the natives by signs and gestures. To have looked at my
companion, as, sympathizing with my sufferings, he strove to put an end to
them, one would have thought that he was the deaf and dumb alphabet incarnated.
Whether my tormentor yielded to Toby's entreaties, or paused from sheer
exhaustion, I do not know; but all at once he ceased his operations, and at the
same time the chief relinquishing his hold upon me, I fell back, faint and
breathless with the agony I had endured.
My unfortunate limb was now left much in the same condition as a rump-steak
after undergoing the castigating process which precedes cooking. My physician,
having recovered from the fatigues of his exertions, as if anxious to make
amends for the pain to which he had subjected me, now took some herbs out of a
little wallet that was suspended from his waist, and moistening them in water,
applied them to the inflamed part, stooping over it at the same time, and
either whispering a spell or having a little confidential chat with some
imaginary demon located in the calf of my leg. My limb was now swathed in leafy
bandages, and grateful to Providence for the cessation of hostilities, I was
suffered to rest.
Mehevi shortly after rose to depart; but before he went he spoke
authoritatively to one of the natives, whom he addressed as Kory-Kory; and from
the little I could understand of what took place, pointed him out to me as a
man whose peculiar business thenceforth would be to attend upon my person. I am
not certain that I comprehended as much as this at the time, but the subsequent
conduct of my trusty body-servant fully assured me that such must have been the
I could not but be amused at the manner in which the chief addressed me upon
this occasion, talking to me for at least fifteen or twenty minutes as calmly
as if I could understand every word that he said. I remarked this peculiarity
very often afterwards in many other of the islanders.
Mehevi having now departed, and the family physician having likewise made his
exit, we were left about sunset with the ten or twelve natives, who by this
time I had ascertained composed the household of which Toby and I were members.
As the dwelling to which we had been first introduced was the place of my
permanent abode while I remained in the valley, and as I was necessarily placed
upon the most intimate footing with its occupants, I may as well here enter
into a little description of it and its inhabitants. This description will
apply also to nearly all the other dwelling-places in the vale, and will
furnish some idea of the generality of the natives.
Near one side of the valley, and about midway up the ascent of a rather abrupt
rise of ground waving with the richest verdure, a number of large stones were
laid in successive courses, to the height of nearly eight feet, and disposed in
such a manner that their level surface corresponded in shape with the
habitation which was perched upon it. A narrow space, however, was reserved in
front of the dwelling, upon the summit of this pile of stones (called by the
natives a "pi-pi"), which, being enclosed by a little picket of
canes, gave it somewhat the appearance of a verandah. The frame of the house
was constructed of large bamboos planted uprightly, and secured together at
intervals by transverse stalks of the light wood of the Habiscus, lashed with
thongs of bark. The rear of the tenement – built up with successive ranges of
cocoa-nut boughs bound one upon another, with their leaflets cunningly woven
together – inclined a little from the vertical, and extended from the extreme edge
of the "pi-pi" to about twenty feet from its surface; whence the
shelving roof – thatched with the long tapering leaves of the palmetto – sloped
steeply off to within about five feet of the floor; leaving the eaves drooping
with tassel-like appendages over the front of the habitation. This was
constructed of light and elegant canes, in a kind of open screen-work,
tastefully adorned with bindings of variegated sinnate, which served to hold
together its various parts. The sides of the house were similarly built; thus
presenting three-quarters for the circulation of the air, while the whole was
impervious to the rain.
In length this picturesque building was perhaps twelve yards, while in breadth
it could not have exceeded as many feet. So much for the exterior; which, with
its wire-like reed-twisted sides, not a little reminded me of an immense
Stooping a little, you passed through a narrow aperture in its front; and
facing you, on entering, lay two long, perfectly straight, and well-polished
trunks of the cocoa-nut tree, extending the full length of the dwelling; one of
them placed closely against the rear, and the other lying parallel with it some
two yards distant, the interval between them being spread with a multitude of
gaily-worked mats, nearly all of a different pattern. This space formed the
common couch and lounging-place of the natives, answering the purpose of a
divan in Oriental countries. Here would they slumber through the hours of the
night, and recline luxuriously during the greater part of the day. The
remainder of the floor presented only the cool shining surfaces of the large
stones of which the "pi-pi" was composed.
From the ridge-pole of the house hung suspended a number of large packages
enveloped in coarse tappa; some of which contained festival dresses, and
various other matters of the wardrobe, held in high estimation. These were
easily accessible by means of a line, which, passing over the ridge-pole, had
one end attached to a bundle, while with the other, led to the side of the
dwelling and was there secured, the package could be lowered or elevated at
Against the farther wall of the house were arranged in tasteful figures a
variety of spears and javelins, and other implements of savage warfare. Outside
of the habitation, and built upon the piazza-like area in its front, was a
little shed used as a sort of larder or pantry, and in which were stored
various articles of domestic use and convenience. A few yards from the pi-pi
was a large shed built of cocoa-nut boughs, where the process of preparing the
"poee-poee" was carried on, and all culinary operations attended to.
Thus much for the house, and its appurtenances; and it will be readily
acknowledged that a more commodious and appropriate dwelling for the climate
and the people could not possibly be devised. It was cool, free to admit the
air, scrupulously clean, and elevated above the dampness and impurities of the
But now to sketch the inmates; and here I claim for my tried servitor and
faithful valet Kory-Kory the precedence of a first description. As his
character will be gradually unfolded in the course of my narrative, I shall for
the present content myself with delineating his personal appearance. Kory-Kory,
though the most devoted and best-natured serving-man in the world, was, alas! a
hideous object to look upon. He was some twenty-five years of age, and about
six feet in height, robust and well made, and of the most extraordinary aspect.
His head was carefully shaven, with the exception of two circular spots, about
the size of a dollar, near the top of the cranium, where the hair, permitted to
grow of an amazing length, was twisted up in two prominent knots, that gave him
the appearance of being decorated with a pair of horns. His beard, plucked out
by the root from every other part of his face, was suffered to droop in hairy
pendants, two of which garnished his upper lip, and an equal number hung from
the extremity of his chin.
Kory-Kory, with the view of improving the handiwork of nature, and perhaps
prompted by a desire to add to the engaging expression of his countenance, had
seen fit to embellish his face with three broad longitudinal stripes of
tattooing, which, like those country roads that go straight forward in defiance
of all obstacles, crossed his nasal organ, descended into the hollow of his
eyes, and even skirted the borders of his mouth. Each completely spanned his
physiognomy; one extending in a line with his eyes, another crossing the face
in the vicinity of the nose, and the third sweeping along his lips from ear to
ear. His countenance thus triply hooped, as it were, with tattooing, always
reminded me of those unhappy wretches whom I have sometimes observed gazing out
sentimentally from behind the grated bars of a prison window; whilst the entire
body of my savage valet, covered all over with representations of birds and
fishes, and a variety of most unaccountable-looking creatures, suggested to me
the idea of a pictorial museum of natural history, or an illustrated copy of
Goldsmith's Animated Nature.
But it seems really heartless in me to write thus of the poor islander, when I
owe perhaps to his unremitting attentions the very existence I now enjoy.
Kory-Kory, I mean thee no harm in what I say in regard to thy outward
adornings; but they were a little curious to my unaccustomed sight, and
therefore I dilate upon them. But to underrate or forget thy faithful services
is something I could never be guilty of, even in the giddiest moment of my
The father of my attached follower was a native of gigantic frame, and had once
possessed prodigious physical powers; but the lofty form was now yielding to
the inroads of time, though the hand of disease seemed never to have been laid
upon the aged warrior. Marheyo – for such was his name – appeared to have
retired from all active participation in the affairs of the valley, seldom or
never accompanying the natives in their various expeditions; and employing the
greater part of his time in throwing up a little shed just outside the house,
upon which he was engaged to my certain knowledge for four months, without
appearing to make any sensible advance. I suppose the old gentleman was in his
dotage, for he manifested in various ways the characteristics which mark this
particular stage of life.
I remember in particular his having a choice pair of ear-ornaments, fabricated
from the teeth of some sea-monster. These he would alternately wear and take
off at least fifty times in the course of the day, going and coming from his
little hut on each occasion with all the tranquility imaginable. Sometimes
slipping them through the slits in his ears, he would seize his spear – which
in length and slightness resembled a fishing pole – and go stalking beneath the
shadows of the neighbouring groves, as if about to give a hostile meeting to
some cannibal knight. But he would soon return again, and hiding his weapon
under the projecting eaves of the house, and rolling his clumsy trinkets
carefully in a piece of tappa, would resume his more pacific operations as quietly
as if he had never interrupted them.
But despite his eccentricities, Marheyo was a most paternal and warm-hearted
old fellow, and in this particular not a little resembled his son Kory-Kory.
The mother of the latter was the mistress of the family, and a notable
housewife, and a most industrious old lady she was. If she did not understand
the art of making jellies, jams, custards, tea-cakes, and such like trashy
affairs, she was profoundly skilled in the mysteries of preparing
"amar," "poee-poee," and "kokoo," with other
substantial matters. She was a genuine busy-body; bustling about the house like
a country landlady at an unexpected arrival; for ever giving the young girls
tasks to perform, which the little hussies as often neglected; poking into
every corner, and rummaging over bundles of old tappa, or making a prodigious
clatter among the calabashes. Sometimes she might have been seen squatting upon
her haunches in front of a huge wooden basin, and kneading poee-poee with
terrific vehemence, dashing the stone pestle about as if she would shiver the
vessel into fragments: on other occasions, galloping about the valley in search
of a particular kind of leaf, used in some of her recondite operations, and
returning home, toiling and sweating, with a bundle, under which most women
would have sunk.
To tell the truth, Kory-Kory's mother was the only industrious person in all
the valley of Typee; and she could not have employed herself more actively had
she been left an exceedingly muscular and destitute widow, with an inordinate
supply of young children, in the bleakest part of the civilized world. There
was not the slightest necessity for the greater portion of the labour performed
by the old lady: but she seemed to work from some irresistible impulse; her
limbs continually swaying to and fro, as if there were some indefatigable
engine concealed within her body which kept her in perpetual motion.
Never suppose that she was a termagant or a shrew for all this: she had the
kindliest heart in the world, and acted towards me in particular in a truly
maternal manner, occasionally putting some little morsel of choice food into my
hand, some outlandish kind of savage sweetmeat or pastry, like a doting mother
petting a sickly urchin with tarts and sugar-plums. Warm indeed are my
remembrances of the dear, good, affectionate old Tinor!
Besides the individuals I have mentioned, there belonged to the household three
young men, dissipated, good-for-nothing, roystering blades of savages, who were
either employed in prosecuting love affairs with the maidens of the tribe, or
grew boozy on "arva" and tobacco in the company of congenial spirits,
the scapegraces of the valley.
Among the permanent inmates of the house were likewise several lovely damsels,
who instead of thrumming pianos and reading novels, like more enlightened young
ladies, substituted for these employments the manufacture of fine species of
tappa; but for the greater portion of the time were skipping from house to
house, gadding and gossiping with their acquaintances.
From the rest of these, however, I must except the beauteous nymph Fayaway, who
was my peculiar favourite. Her free pliant figure was the very perfection of
female grace and beauty. Her complexion was a rich and mantling olive, and when
watching the glow upon her cheeks I could almost swear that beneath the
transparent medium there lurked the blushes of a faint vermilion. The face of
this girl was a rounded oval, and each feature as perfectly formed as the heart
or imagination of man could desire. Her full lips, when parted with a smile,
disclosed teeth of a dazzling whiteness; and when her rosy mouth opened with a
burst of merriment, they looked like the milk-white seeds of the
"arta," a fruit of the valley, which, when cleft in twain, shows them
reposing in rows on either side, embedded in the red and juicy pulp. Her hair
of the deepest brown, parted irregularly in the middle, flowed in natural
ringlets over her shoulders, and whenever she chanced to stoop, fell over and
hid from view her lovely bosom. Gazing into the depths of her strange blue
eyes, when she was in a contemplative mood, they seemed most placid yet
unfathomable; but when illuminated by some lively emotion, they beamed upon the
beholder like stars. The hands of Fayaway were as soft and delicate as those of
any countess; for an entire exemption from rude labour marks the girlhood and
even prime of a Typee woman's life. Her feet, though wholly exposed, were as
diminutive and fairly shaped as those which peep from beneath the skirts of a
Lima lady's dress. The skin of this young creature, from continual ablutions
and the use of mollifying ointments, was inconceivably smooth and soft.
I may succeed, perhaps, in particularizing some of the individual features of
Fayaway's beauty, but that general loveliness of appearance which they all
contributed to produce I will not attempt to describe. The easy unstudied
graces of a child of nature like this, breathing from infancy an atmosphere of
perpetual summer, and nurtured by the simple fruits of the earth; enjoying a
perfect freedom from care and anxiety, and removed effectually from all
injurious tendencies, strike the eye in a manner which cannot be portrayed.
This picture is no fancy sketch; it is drawn from the most vivid recollections
of the person delineated.
Were I asked if the beauteous form of Fayaway was altogether free from the
hideous blemish of tattooing, I should be constrained to answer that it was
not. But the practitioners of this barbarous art, so remorseless in their
inflictions upon the brawny limbs of the warriors of the tribe, seem to be
conscious that it needs not the resources of their profession to augment the
charms of the maidens of the vale.
The females are very little embellished in this way, and Fayaway, and all the
other young girls of her age, were even less so than those of their sex more
advanced in years. The reason of this peculiarity will be alluded to hereafter.
All the tattooing that the nymph in question exhibited upon her person may be
easily described. Three minute dots, no bigger than pinheads, decorated either
lip, and at a little distance were not at all discernible. Just upon the fall
of the shoulder were drawn two parallel lines half an inch apart, and perhaps
three inches in length, the interval being filled with delicately executed
figures. These narrow bands of tattooing, thus placed, always reminded me of
those stripes of gold lace worn by officers in undress, and which are in lieu
of epaulettes to denote their rank.
Thus much was Fayaway tattooed. The audacious hand which had gone so far in its
desecrating work stopping short, apparently wanting the heart to proceed.
But I have omitted to describe the dress worn by this nymph of the valley.
Fayaway – I must avow the fact – for the most part clung to the primitive and
summer garb of Eden. But how becoming the costume! It showed her fine figure to
the best possible advantage; and nothing could have been better adapted to her
peculiar style of beauty. On ordinary occasions she was habited precisely as I
have described the two youthful savages whom we had met on first entering the
valley. At other times, when rambling among the groves, or visiting at the
houses of her acquaintances, she wore a tunic of white tappa, reaching from her
waist to a little below the knees; and when exposed for any length of time to
the sun, she invariably protected herself from its rays by a floating mantle of
the same material, loosely gathered about the person. Her gala dress will be
As the beauties of our own land delight in bedecking themselves with fanciful
articles of jewelery, them from their ears, hanging them about their necks, and
clasping them around their wrists; so Fayaway and her companions were in the
habit of ornamenting themselves with similar appendages.
Flora was their jeweller. Sometimes they wore necklaces of small carnation
flowers, strung like rubies upon a fibre of tappa, or displayed in their ears a
single white bud, the stem thrust backward through the aperture, and showing in
front the delicate petals folded together in a beautiful sphere, and looking
like a drop of the purest pearl. Chaplets, too, resembling in their arrangement
the strawberry coronal worn by an English peeress, and composed of intertwined
leaves and blossoms, often crowned their temples; and bracelets and anklets of
the same tasteful pattern were frequently to be seen. Indeed, the maidens of
the island were passionately fond of flowers, and never wearied of decorating
their persons with them; a lovely trait in their character, and one that ere
long will be more fully alluded to.
Though in my eyes, at least, Fayaway was indisputably the loveliest female I
saw in Typee, yet the description I have given of her will in some measure
apply to nearly all the youthful portion of her sex in the valley. Judge ye
then, reader, what beautiful creatures they must have been.
TERRORS IN THE TABOO GROVES
WHEN Mehevi had departed from the house, as related in the preceding chapter,
Kory-Kory commenced the functions of the post assigned him. He brought us
various kinds of food; and, as if I were an infant, insisted upon feeding me
with his own hands. To this procedure I, of course, most earnestly objected,
but in vain; and having laid a calabash of kokoo before me, he washed his
fingers in a vessel of water, and then putting his hand into the dish, and
rolling the food into little balls, put them one after another into my mouth.
All my remonstrances against this measure only provoked so great a clamour on
his part, that I was obliged to acquiesce; and the operation of feeding being
thus facilitated, the meal was quickly despatched. As for Toby, he was allowed
to help himself after his own fashion.
The repast over, my attendant arranged the mats for repose, and, bidding me lie
down, covered me with a large robe of tappa, at the same time looking
approvingly upon me, and exclaiming "Ki-Ki, muee muee, ah! moee moee
mortarkee," (eat plenty, ah! sleep very good.) The philosophy of this
sentiment I did not pretend to question; for deprived of sleep for several
preceding nights, and the pain in my limb having much abated, I now felt
inclined to avail myself of the opportunity afforded me.
The next morning, on waking, I found Kory-Kory stretched out on one side of me,
while my companion lay upon the other. I felt sensibly refreshed after a night
of sound repose, and immediately agreed to the proposition of my valet that I
should repair to the water and wash, although dreading the suffering that the
exertion might produce. From this apprehension, however, I was quickly
relieved; for Kory-Kory, leaping from the pi-pi, and then backing himself up
against it, like a porter in readiness to shoulder a trunk, with loud
vociferations, and a superabundance of gestures, gave me to understand that I
was to mount upon his back, and be thus transported to the stream, which flowed
perhaps two hundred yards from the house.
Our appearance upon the verandah in front of the habitation drew together quite
a crowd, who stood looking on, and conversing with one another in the most
animated manner. They reminded one of a group of idlers gathered about the door
of a village tavern, when the equipage of some distinguished traveller is
brought round previous to his departure. As soon as I clasped my arms about the
neck of the devoted fellow, and he jogged off with me, the crowd – composed
chiefly of young girls and boys – followed after, shouting and capering with
infinite glee, and accompanied us to the banks of the stream.
On gaining it, Kory-Kory, wading up to his hips in the water, carried me
half-way across, and deposited me on a smooth black stone, which rose a few
inches above the surface. The amphibious rabble at our heels plunged in after
us; and, climbing to the summit of the grass-grown rocks, with which the bed of
the brook was here and there broken, waited curiously to witness our morning
ablutions. I felt somewhat embarrassed by the presence of the female portion of
the company, but, nevertheless, removed my frock, and washed myself down to my
waist in the stream. As soon as Kory-Kory comprehended from my motions that
this was to be the extent of my performance, he appeared perfectly aghast with
astonishment, and rushing towards me, poured out a torrent of words in eager
deprecation of so limited an operation, enjoining me by unmistakable signs to
immerse my whole body. To this I was forced to consent; and the honest fellow
regarding me as a froward, inexperienced child, whom it was his duty to serve
at the risk of offending, lifted me from the rock, and tenderly bathed my
limbs. This over, and resuming my seat, I could not avoid bursting into
admiration of the scene around me.
From the verdant surfaces of the large stones that lay scattered about, the
natives were now sliding off into the water, diving and ducking beneath the
surface in all directions; the young girls springing buoyantly into the air,
with their long tresses dancing about their shoulders, their eyes sparkling
like drops of dew in the sun, and their gay laughter pealing forth at every
On the afternoon of the day that I took my first bath in the valley, we
received another visit from Mehevi. The noble savage seemed to be in the same
pleasant mood, and was quite as cordial in his manner as before. After
remaining about an hour, he rose from the mats, and motioning to leave the
house, invited Toby and myself to accompany him. I pointed to my leg; but
Mehevi in his turn pointed to Kory-Kory, and removed that objection; so,
mounting upon the faithful fellow's shoulders again – like the old man of the
sea astride of Sinbad – I followed after the chief.
The nature of the route we now pursued struck me more forcibly than anything I
had yet seen, as illustrating the indolent disposition of the islanders. The
path was obviously the most beaten one in the valley, several others leading
from either side into it, and perhaps for successive generations it had formed
the principal avenue of the place. And yet, until I grew more familiar with its
impediments, it seemed as difficult to travel as the recesses of a wilderness.
Part of it swept around an abrupt rise of ground, the surface of which was
broken by frequent inequalities, and thickly strewn with projecting masses of
rocks, whose summits were often hidden from view by the drooping foliage of the
luxurious vegetation. Sometimes directly over, sometimes evading these
obstacles with a wide circuit, the path wound along – one moment climbing over
a sudden eminence, smooth with continued wear, then descending on the other side,
into a steep glen, and crossing the flinty channel of a brook. Here it pursued
the depths of a glade, occasionally obliging you to stoop beneath vast
horizontal branches; and now you stepped over huge trunks and boughs that lay
rotting across the track.
Such was the grand thoroughfare of Typee. After proceeding a little distance
along it – Kory-Kory panting and blowing with the weight of his burden – I
dismounted from his back, and grasping the long spear of Mehevi in my hand,
assisted my steps over the numerous obstacles of the road; preferring this mode
of advance to one which, from the difficulties of the way, was equally painful
to myself and my wearied servitor.
Our journey was soon at an end; for, scaling a sudden height, we came abruptly
upon the place of our destination. I wish that it were possible to sketch in
words this spot as vividly as I recollect it.
Here were situated the Taboo groves of the valley – the scene of many a
prolonged feast, of many a horrid rite. Beneath die dark shadows of the
consecrated bread-fruit trees there reigned a solemn twilight – a
cathedral-like gloom. The frightful genius of pagan worship seemed to brood in
silence over the place, breathing its spell upon every object around. Here and
there, in the depths of these awful shades, half screened from sight by masses
of overhanging foliage, rose the idolatrous altars of the savages, built of
enormous blocks of black and polished stone, placed one upon another, without
cement, to the height of twelve or fifteen feet, and surmounted by a rustic
open temple, enclosed with a low picket of canes, within which might be seen,
in various stages of decay, offerings of bread-fruit and cocoa-nuts, and the
putrefying relics of some recent sacrifice.
In the midst of the wood was the hallowed "hoolah hoolah" ground –
set apart for the celebration of the fantastical religious ritual of these
people – comprising an extensive oblong pi-pi, terminating at either end in a
lofty terraced altar, guarded by ranks of hideous wooden idols, and with the
two remaining sides flanked by ranges of bamboo sheds, opening towards the
interior of the quadrangle thus formed. Vast trees, standing in the middle of
this space, and throwing over it an umbrageous shade, had their massive trunks
built round with slight stages, elevated a few feet above the ground, and
railed in with canes, forming so many rustic pulpits, from which the priests
harangued their devotees.
This holiest of spots was defended from profanation by the strictest edicts of
the all-pervading "taboo," condemned to instant death the
sacrilegious female who should enter or touch its sacred precincts, or even so
much as press with her feet the ground made holy by the shadows that it cast.
Access was had to the enclosure through an embowered entrance on one side,
facing a number of towering cocoa-nut trees, planted at intervals along a level
area of a hundred yards. At the farther extremity of this space was to be seen
a building of considerable size, reserved for the habitation of the priests and
religious attendants of the grove.
In its vicinity was another remarkable edifice, built as usual upon the summit
of a pi-pi, and at least two hundred feet in length, though not more than
twenty in breadth. The whole front of this latter structure was completely
open, and from one end to the other ran a narrow verandah, fenced in on the
edge of the pi-pi with a picket of canes. Its interior presented the appearance
of an immense lounging-place, the entire floor being strewn with successive
layers of mats, lying between parallel trunks of cocoa-nut trees, selected for
the purpose from the straightest and most symmetrical the vale afforded.
To this building, denominated in the language of the natives, the
"Ti," Mehevi now conducted us. Thus far we had been accompanied by a
troop of the natives of both sexes; but as soon as we approached its vicinity,
the females gradually separated themselves from the crowd, and standing aloof,
permitted us to pass on. The merciless prohibitions of the taboo extended likewise
to this edifice, and were enforced by the same dreadful penalty that secured
the hoolah hoolah ground from the imaginary pollution of a woman's presence.
On entering the house, I was surprised to see six muskets ranged against the
bamboo on one side, from the barrels of which depended as many small canvas
pouches, partly filled with powder. Disposed about these muskets, like the
cutlasses that decorate the bulkhead of a man-of-war's cabin, were a great
variety of rude spears and paddles, javelins, and war-clubs. This then, said I
to Toby, must be the armoury of the tribe.
As we advanced farther along the building, we were struck with the aspect of
four or five hideous old wretches, on whose decrepit forms time and tattooing
seemed to have obliterated every trace of humanity. Owing to the continued
operation of this latter process, which only terminates among the warriors of
the island after all the figures stretched upon their limbs in youth have been
blended together – an effect, however, produced only in cases of extreme
longevity – the bodies of these men were of a uniform dull green colour – the
hue which the tattooing gradually assumes as the individual advances in age.
Their skin had a frightful scaly appearance, which, united with its singular
colour, made their limbs not a little resemble dusty specimens of
verde-antique. Their flesh, in parts, hung upon them in huge folds, like the
overlapping plaits on the flank of a rhinoceros. Their heads were completely
bald, whilst their faces were puckered into a thousand wrinkles, and they
presented no vestige of a beard. But the most remarkable peculiarity about them
was the appearance of their feet; the toes, like the radiating lines of the
mariner's compass, pointed to every quarter of the horizon. This was doubtless
attributable to the fact, that during nearly a hundred years of existence the
said toes never had been subjected to any artificial confinement, and in their
old age, being averse to close neighbourhood, bid one another keep open order.
These repulsive-looking creatures appeared to have lost the use of their lower
limbs altogether; sitting upon the floor cross-legged, in a state of torpor.
They never heeded us in the least, scarcely looking conscious of our presence,
while Mehevi seated us upon the mats, and Kory-Kory gave utterance to some
In a few moments, a boy entered with a wooden trencher of poee-poee; and in
regaling myself with its contents, I was obliged again to submit to the
officious intervention of my indefatigable servitor. Various other dishes
followed, the chief manifesting the most hospitable importunity in pressing us
to partake, and to remove all bashfulness on our part, set us no despicable
example in his own person.
The repast concluded, a pipe was lighted, which passed from mouth to mouth, and
yielding to its soporific influence, the quiet of the place, and the deepening
shadows of approaching night, my companion and I sank into a kind of drowsy
repose, while the chief and Kory-Kory seemed to be slumbering beside us.
I awoke from an uneasy nap, about midnight, as I supposed; and, raising myself
partly from the mat, became sensible that we were enveloped in utter darkness.
Toby lay still asleep, but our late companions had disappeared. The only sound
that interrupted the silence of the place was the asthmatic breathing of the
old men I have mentioned, who reposed at a little distance from us. Besides
them, as well as I could judge, there was no one else in the house.
Apprehensive of some evil, I roused my comrade, and we were engaged in a
whispered conference concerning the unexpected withdrawal of the natives, when
all at once, from the depths of the grove, in full view of us where we lay,
shoots of flame were seen to rise, and in a few moments illuminated the
surrounding trees, casting, by contrast, into still deeper gloom the darkness
While we continued gazing at this sight, dark figures appeared moving to and
fro before the flames; while others, dancing and capering about, looked like so
Regarding this new phenomenon with no small degree of trepidation, I said to my
companion, "What can all this mean, Toby?"
"Oh, nothing," replied he; "getting the fire ready, I
"Fire!" exclaimed I, while my heart took to beating like a
trip-hammer, "what fire?"
"Why, the fire to cook us, to be sure; what else would the cannibals be
kicking up such a row about, if it were not for that?"
"Oh, Toby! have done with your jokes; this is no time for them: something
is about to happen, I feel confident."
"Jokes, indeed!" exclaimed Toby, indignantly. "Did you ever hear
me joke? Why, for what do you suppose the devils have been feeding us up in
this kind of style during the last three days, unless it were for something
that you are too much frightened at to talk about? Look at that Kory-Kory
there! – has he not been stuffing you with his confounded mushes, just in the
way they treat swine before they kill them? Depend upon it, we will be eaten
this blessed night, and there is the fire we shall be roasted by."
This view of the matter was not at all calculated to allay my apprehensions,
and I shuddered when I reflected that we were indeed at the mercy of a tribe of
cannibals, and that the dreadful contingency to which Toby had alluded was by
no means removed beyond the bounds of possibility.
"There! I told you so! they are coming for us!" exclaimed my
companion the next moment, as the forms of four of the islanders were seen in
bold relief against the illuminated background, mounting the pi-pi, and
approaching towards us.
They came on noiselessly, nay, stealthily, and glided along through the gloom
that surrounded us, as if about to spring upon some object they were fearful of
disturbing before they should make sure of it. Gracious Heaven! the horrible
reflections which crowded upon me that moment! A cold sweat stood upon my brow,
and spell-bound with terror, I awaited my fate.
Suddenly the silence was broken by the well-remembered tones of Mehevi, and at
the kindly accents of his voice, my fears were immediately dissipated.
"Tommo, Toby, ki ki!" (eat). He had waited to address us, until he
had assured himself that we were both awake, at which he seemed somewhat
"Ki ki! is it?" said Toby, in his gruff tones; "well, cook us
first, will you – but what's this?" he added, as another savage appeared,
bearing before him a large trencher of wood, containing some kind of steaming
meat, as appeared from the odours it diffused, and which he deposited at the
feet of Mehevi. "A baked baby, I dare say! but I will have none of it,
never mind what it is. A pretty fool I should make of myself, indeed, waked up
here in the middle of the night, stuffing and guzzling, and all to make a fat
meal for a parcel of bloody-minded cannibals one of these mornings! No; I see
what they are at very plainly, so I am resolved to starve myself into a bunch
of bones and gristle, and then, if they serve me up, they are welcome! But, I
say, Tommo, you are not going to eat any of that mess there, in the dark, are you?
Why, how can you tell what it is?"
"By tasting it, to be sure," said I, masticating a morsel that
Kory-Kory had just put in my mouth; "and excellently good it is, too, very
much like veal."
"A baked baby, by the soul of Captain Cook! " burst forth Toby, with
amazing vehemence. "Veal? why, there never was a calf on the island till
you landed. I tell you, you are bolting down mouthfuls from a dead Happar's
carcass, as sure as you live, and no mistake!"
Emetics and lukewarm water! What a sensation in the abdominal regions! Sure
enough, where could the fiends incarnate have obtained meat? But I resolved to
satisfy myself at all hazards; and turning to Mehevi, I soon made the ready
chief understand that I wished a light to be brought. When the taper came, I
gazed eagerly into the vessel, and recognised the mutilated remains of a
juvenile porker! "Puarkee!" exclaimed Kory-Kory, looking complacently
at the dish; and from that day to this I have never forgotten that such is the
designation of a pig in the Typee lingo.
The next morning, after being again abundantly feasted by the hospitable
Mehevi, Toby and myself arose to depart. But the chief requested us to postpone
our intention. "Abo, abo" (Wait, wait), he said, and accordingly we
resumed our seats, while, assisted by the zealous Kory-Kory, he appeared to be
engaged in giving directions to a number of the natives outside, who were
busily employed in making arrangements, the nature of which we could not
comprehend. But we were not left long in our ignorance, for a few moments only
had elapsed, when the chief beckoned us to approach, and we perceived that he
had been marshalling a kind of guard of honour to escort us on our return to
the house of Marheyo.
The procession was led off by two venerable-looking savages, each provided with
a spear, from the end of which streamed a pennon of milk-white tappa. After
them went several youths, bearing aloft calabashes of poee-poee; and followed
in their turn by four stalwart fellows, sustaining long bamboos, from the tops
of which hung suspended, at least twenty feet from the ground, large baskets of
green bread-fruit. Then came a troop of boys, carrying bunches of ripe bananas,
and baskets made of the woven leaflets of cocoa-nut boughs, filled with the
young fruit of the tree, the naked shells, stripped of their husks, peeping
forth from the verdant wicker-work that surrounded them. Last of all came a
burly islander, holding over his head a wooden trencher, in which lay disposed
the remnants of our midnight feast, hidden from view, however, by a covering of
Astonished as I was at this exhibition, I could not avoid smiling at its
grotesque appearance, and the associations it naturally called up. Mehevi, it
seemed, was bent on replenishing old Marheyo's larder, fearful, perhaps, that
without this precaution his guests might not fare as well as they could desire.
As soon as I descended from the pi-pi, the procession formed anew, enclosing us
in its centre; where I remained part of the time, carried by Kory-Kory, and
occasionally relieving him from his burden by limping along with a spear. When
we moved off in this order, the natives struck up a musical recitative, which,
with various alternations, they continued until we arrived at the place of our
As we proceeded on our way, bands of young girls, darting from the surrounding
groves, hung upon our skirts, and accompanied us with shouts of merriment and
delight, which almost drowned the deep notes of the recitative. On approaching
old Marheyo's domicile, its inmates rushed out to receive us; and while the
gifts of Mehevi were being disposed of, the superannuated warrior did the
honours of his mansion with all the warmth of hospitality evinced by an English
squire, when he regales his friends at some fine old patrimonial mansion.
PERILOUS ADVENTURE OF TOBY
AMIDST these novel scenes a week passed away almost imperceptibly. The natives,
actuated by some mysterious impulse, day after day redoubled their attentions
to us. Their manner towards us was unaccountable. Surely, thought I, they would
not act thus if they meant us any harm. But why this excess of deferential
kindness, or what equivalent can they imagine us capable of rendering them for
We were fairly puzzled. But, despite the apprehensions I could not dispel, the
horrible character imputed to these Typees appeared to be wholly undeserved.
"Why, they are cannibals!" said Toby, on one occasion when I
eulogized the tribe. "Granted," I replied, "but a more humane,
gentlemanly, and amiable set of epicures do not probably exist in the
But, notwithstanding the kind treatment we received, I was too familiar with
the fickle disposition of savages not to feel anxious to withdraw from the
valley, and put myself beyond the reach of that fearful death which, under all
these smiling appearances, might yet menace us. But here there was an obstacle
in the way of doing so. It was idle for me to think of moving from the place
until I should have recovered from the severe lameness that afflicted me;
indeed my malady began seriously to alarm me; for, despite the herbal remedies
of the natives, it continued to grow worse and worse. Their mild applications,
though they soothed the pain, did not remove the disorder, and I felt convinced
that, without better aid, I might anticipate long and acute suffering.
But how was this aid to be procured? From the surgeons of the French fleet,
which probably still lay in the bay of Nukuheva, it might easily have been
obtained, could I have made my case known to them. But how could that be
At last, in the exigency to which I was reduced, I proposed to Toby that he
should endeavour to go round to Nukuheva, and if he could not succeed in
returning to the valley by water in one of the boats of the squadron, and
taking me off, he might at least procure me some proper medicines, and effect
his return overland.
My companion listened to me in silence, and at first did not appear to relish
the idea. The truth was, he felt impatient to escape from the place, and wished
to avail himself of our present high favour with the natives to make good our
retreat, before we should experience some sudden alteration in their behaviour.
As he could not think of leaving me in my helpless condition, he implored me to
be of good cheer; assured me that I should soon be better, and enabled in a few
days to return with him to Nukuheva.
Added to this, he could not bear the idea of again returning to this dangerous
place; and as for the expectation of persuading the Frenchmen to detach a
boat's crew for the purpose of rescuing me from the Typees, he looked upon it
as idle; and, with arguments that I could not answer, urged the improbability
of their provoking the hostilities of the clan by any such measure; especially as,
for the purpose of quieting its apprehensions, they had as yet refrained from
making any visit to the bay. "And even should they consent," said
Toby, "they would only produce a commotion in the valley, in which we
might both be sacrificed by these ferocious islanders." This was
unanswerable; but still I clung to the belief that he might succeed in
accomplishing the other part of my plan; and at last I overcame his scruples,
and he agreed to make the attempt.
As soon as we succeeded in making the natives understand our intention, they
broke out into the most vehement opposition to the measure, and, for awhile, I
almost despaired of obtaining their consent. At the bare thought of one of us
leaving them, they manifested the most lively concern. The grief and
consternation of Kory-Kory, in particular, was unbounded; he threw himself into
a perfect paroxysm of gestures, which were intended to convey to us, not only
his abhorrence of Nukuheva and its uncivilized inhabitants, but also his
astonishment that, after becoming acquainted with the enlightened Typees, we
should evince the least desire to withdraw, even for a time, from their
However, I overbore his objections by appealing to my lameness; from which I
assured the natives I should speedily recover, Toby were permitted to obtain
the supplies I recover, if Toby were permitted to obtain the supplies needed.
It was agreed that on the following morning my companion should depart,
accompanied by some one or two of the household, who should point out to him an
easy route, by which the bay might be reached before sunset.
At early dawn of the next day, our habitation was astir. One of the young men
mounted into an adjoining cocoa-nut tree, and threw down a number of young
fruit, which old Marheyo quickly stripped of the green husks, and strung
together upon a short pole. These were intended to refresh Toby on his route.
The preparations being completed, with no little emotion I bade my companion
adieu. He promised to return in three days at farthest; and, bidding me keep up
my spirits in the interval, turned round the corner of the pi-pi, and, under
the guidance of the venerable Marheyo, was soon out of sight. His departure
oppressed me with melancholy, and, re-entering the dwelling, I threw myself
almost in despair upon the matting of the floor.
In two hours' time the old warrior returned, and gave me to understand, that
after accompanying my companion a little distance, and showing him the route,
he had left him journeying on his way.
It was about noon of this same day, a season which these people are wont to
pass in sleep, that I lay in the house, surrounded by its slumbering inmates,
and painfully affected by the strange silence which prevailed. All at once I
thought I heard a faint shout, as if proceeding from some persons in the depth
of the grove which extended in front of our habitation.
The sounds grew louder and nearer, and gradually the whole valley rang with
wild outcries. The sleepers around me started to their feet in alarm, and
hurried outside to discover the cause of the commotion. Kory-Kory, who had been
the first to spring up, soon returned almost breathless, and nearly frantic
with the excitement under which he seemed to be labouring. All that I could
understand from him was, that some accident had happened to Toby. Apprehensive
of some dreadful calamity, I rushed out of the house, and caught sight of a
tumultuous crowd, who, with shrieks and lamentations, were just emerging from
the grove, bearing in their arms some object, the sight of which produced all
this transport of sorrow. As they drew near, the men redoubled their cries,
while the girls, tossing their bare arms in the air, exclaimed plaintively,
"Awha! awha! Toby muckee moee!" – Alas! alas! Toby is killed!
In a moment the crowd opened, and disclosed the apparently lifeless body of my
companion borne between two men, the head hanging heavily against the breast of
the foremost. The whole face, neck, and bosom were covered with blood, which
still trickled slowly from a wound behind the temple. In the midst of the
greatest uproar and confusion, the body was carried into the house and laid on
a mat. Waving the natives off to give room and air, I bent eagerly over Toby,
and, laying my hand upon the breast, ascertained that the heart still beat.
Overjoyed at this, I seized a calabash of water, and dashed its contents upon
his face, then, wiping away the blood, anxiously examined the wound. It was
about three inches long, and, on removing the clotted hair from about it,
showed the skull laid completely bare. Immediately with my knife I cut away the
heavy locks, and bathed the part repeatedly in water.
In a few moments Toby revived, and opening his eyes for a second, closed them
again, without speaking. Kory-Kory, who had been kneeling beside me, now chafed
his limbs gently with the palms of his hands, while a young girl at his head
kept fanning him, and I still continued to moisten his lips and brow. Soon my
poor comrade showed signs of animation, and I succeeded in making him swallow
from a cocoa-nut shell a few mouthfuls of water.
Old Tinor now appeared, holding in her hand some simples she had gathered, the
juice of which she by signs besought me to squeeze into the wound. Having done
so, I thought it best to leave Toby undisturbed until he should have had time
to rally his faculties. Several times he opened his lips, but, fearful for his
safety, I enjoined silence. In the course of two or three hours, however, he
sat up, and was sufficiently recovered to tell me what had occurred.
"After leaving the house with Marheyo," said Toby, "we struck
across the valley, and ascended the opposite heights. Just beyond them, my
guide informed me, lay the valley of Happar, while along their summits, and
skirting the head of the vale, was my route to Nukuheva. After mounting a
little way up the elevation my guide paused, and gave me to understand that he
could not accompany me any farther, and by various signs intimated that he was
afraid to approach any nearer the territories of the enemies of his tribe. He,
however, pointed out my path, which now lay clearly before me, and, bidding me
farewell, hastily descended the mountain.
"Quite elated at being so near the Happars, I pushed up the acclivity, and
soon gained its summit. It tapered up to a sharp ridge, from whence I beheld
both the hostile valleys. Here I sat down and rested for a moment, refreshing
myself with my cocoa-nuts. I was soon again pursuing my way along the height,
when suddenly I saw three of the islanders, who must have just come out of
Happar valley, standing in the path ahead of me. They were each armed with a
heavy spear, and one, from his appearance, be took to be a chief. They sung out
something, I could not understand what, and beckoned me to come on.
"Without the least hesitation I advanced towards them, and had approached
within about a yard of the foremost, when, pointing angrily into the Typee
valley, and uttering some savage exclamation, he wheeled round his weapon like
lightning, and struck me in a moment to the ground. The blow inflicted this
wound, and took away my senses. As soon as I came to myself, I perceived the
three islanders standing a little distance off, and apparently engaged in some
violent altercation respecting me.
"My first impulse was to run for it; but, in endeavouring to rise, I fell
back, and rolled down a little grassy precipice. The shock seemed to rally my
faculties; so, starting to my feet, I fled down the path I had just ascended. I
had no need to look behind me, for, from the yells I heard, I knew that my
enemies were in full pursuit. Urged on by their fearful outcries, and heedless
of the injury I had received – though the blood flowing from the wound trickled
over into my eyes and almost blinded me – I rushed down the mountain side with the
speed of the wind. In a short time I had descended nearly a third of the
distance, and the savages had ceased their cries, when suddenly a terrific howl
burst upon my ear, and at the same moment a heavy javelin darted past me as I
fled, and stuck quivering in a tree close to me. Another yell followed, and a
second spear and a third shot through the air within a few feet of my body,
both of them piercing the ground obliquely in advance of me. The fellows gave a
roar of rage and disappointment; but they were afraid, I suppose, of coming
down farther into the Typee valley, and so abandoned the chase. I saw them
recover their weapons and turn back; and I continued my descent as fast as I
"What could have caused this ferocious attack on the part of these Happars
I could not imagine, unless it were that they had seen me ascending the
mountain with Marheyo, and that the mere fact of coming from the Typee valley
was sufficient to provoke them.
"As long as I was in danger I scarcely felt the wound I had received; but
when the chase was over I began to suffer from it. I had lost my hat in the
flight, and the sun scorched my bare head. I felt faint and giddy; but, fearful
of falling to the ground beyond the reach of assistance, I staggered on as well
as I could, and at last gained the level of the valley, and then down I sunk;
and I knew nothing more until I found myself lying upon these mats, and you
stooping over me with the calabash of water."
Such was Toby's account of this sad affair. I afterwards learned that
fortunately he had fallen close to a spot where the natives go for fuel. A
party of them caught sight of him as he fell, and, sounding the alarm, had
lifted him up; and after ineffectually endeavouring to restore him at the
brook, had hurried forward with him to the house.
This incident threw a dark cloud over our prospects. It reminded us that we
were hemmed in by hostile tribes, whose territories we could not hope to pass,
on our route to Nukuheva, without encountering the effects of their savage resentment.
There appeared to be no avenue opened to our escape but the sea, which washed
the lower extremity of the vale.
Our Typee friends availed themselves of the recent disaster of Toby to exhort
us to a due appreciation of the blessings we enjoyed among them; contrasting
their own generous reception of us with the animosity of their neighbours. They
likewise dwelt upon the cannibal propensities of the Happars, a subject which
they were perfectly aware could not fall to alarm us; while at the same time they
earnestly disclaimed all participation in so horrid a custom. Nor did they omit
to call upon us to admire the natural loveliness of their own abode, and the
lavish abundance with which it produced all manner of luxuriant fruits;
exalting it in this particular above any of the surrounding valleys.
Kory-Kory seemed to experience so heartfelt a desire to infuse into our minds
proper views on these subjects, that, assisted in his endeavours by the little
knowledge of the language we had acquired, he actually made us comprehend a
considerable part of what he said. To facilitate our correct apprehension of
his meaning, he at first condensed his ideas into the smallest possible
"Happar keekeeno nuee," he exclaimed; "nuee, nuee, ki ki
kannaka! – ah! owle mortarkee!" which signifies, "Terrible fellows
those Happars! – devour an amazing quantity of men! – ah, shocking bad!"
Thus far he explained himself by a variety of gestures, during the performance
of which he would dart out of the house, and point abhorrently towards the
Happar valley; running in to us again with a rapidity that showed he was
fearful we would lose one part of his meaning before he could complete the
other; and continuing his illustrations by seizing the fleshy part of my arm in
his teeth, intimating, by the operation, that the people who lived over in that
direction would like nothing better than to treat me in that manner.
Having assured himself that we were fully enlightened on this point, he
proceeded to another branch of his subject. "Ah! Typee mortarkee! – nuee,
nuee mioree – nuee, nuee wai – nuee, nuee poee-poee – nuee, nuee kokoo – ah!
nuee, nuee kiki – ah! nuee, nuee, nuee!" Which, liberally interpreted as
before, would imply, "Ah, Typee! isn't it a fine place though! – no danger
of starving here, I tell you! – plenty of bread-fruit – plenty of water –
plenty of pudding – ah! plenty of everything, ah! heaps, heaps, heaps,
heaps!" All this was accompanied by a running commentary of signs and
gestures which it was impossible not to comprehend.
As he continued his harangue, however, Kory-Kory, in emulation of our more
polished orators, began to launch out rather diffusely into other branches of
his subject, enlarging probably upon the moral reflections it suggested; and
proceeded in such a strain of unintelligible and stunning gibberish, that he
actually gave me the headache for the rest of the day.
SOMETHING BEFALLS TOBY
IN the course of the few days Toby had recovered from the effects of his
adventure with the Happar warriors; the wound on his head rapidly healing under
the vegetable treatment of the good Tinor. Less fortunate than my companion,
however, I still continued to languish under a complaint, the origin and nature
of which were still a mystery. Cut off as I was from all intercourse with the
world, and feeling the inefficacy of anything the natives could do to relieve
me; knowing, too, that so long as I remained in my present condition it would
be impossible for me to leave the valley, whatever opportunity might present
itself; and apprehensive that ere long we might be exposed to some caprice on
the part of the islanders, I now gave up all hopes of recovery, and became a
prey to the most gloomy thoughts. A deep dejection fell upon me, which neither
the friendly remonstrances of my companion, the devoted attentions of
Kory-Kory, nor all the soothing influences of Fayaway, could remove.
One morning, as I lay on the mats in the house plunged in melancholy reverie,
and regardless of everything around me, Toby, who had left me about an hour,
returned in haste, and with great glee told me to cheer up and be of good
heart, for he believed, from what was going on among the natives, that there
were boats approaching the bay.
These tidings operated upon me like magic. The hour of our deliverance was at
hand, and, starting up, I was soon convinced that something unusual was about
to occur. The word "botee! botee!" was vociferated in all directions;
and shouts were heard in the distance, at first feebly and faintly, but growing
louder and nearer at each successive repetition, until they were caught up by a
fellow in a cocoa-nut tree a few yards off, who, sounding them in turn, they
were reiterated from a neighbouring grove, and so died away gradually from
point to point, as the intelligence penetrated into the farthest recesses of
the valley. This was the vocal telegraph of the islanders; by means of which,
condensed items of information could be carried in a very few minutes from the
sea to their remotest habitation, a distance of at least eight or nine miles.
On the present occasion it was in active operation, one piece of information
following another with inconceivable rapidity.
The greatest commotion now appeared to prevail. At every fresh item of
intelligence the natives betrayed the liveliest interest, and redoubled the
energy with which they employed themselves in collecting fruit to sell to the
expected visitors. Some were tearing off the husks from cocoa-nuts; some,
perched in the trees, were throwing down bread-fruit to their companions, who
gathered them into heaps as they fell; while others were plying their fingers
rapidly in weaving leafen baskets in which to carry the fruit.
There were other matters, too, going on at the same time. Here you would see a
stout warrior polishing his spear with a bit of old tappa, or adjusting the
folds of the girdle about his waist; and there you might descry a young damsel
decorating herself with flowers, as if having in her eye some maidenly
conquest; while, as in all cases of hurry and confusion in every part of the
world, a number of individuals kept hurrying to and fro with amazing vigour and
perseverance, doing nothing themselves, and hindering others.
Never before had we seen the islanders in such a state of bustle and
excitement; and the scene furnished abundant evidence of the fact – that it was
only at long intervals any such events occur.
When I thought of the length of time that might intervene before a similar
chance of escape would be presented, I bitterly lamented that I had not the
power of availing myself effectually of the present opportunity.
From all that we could gather, it appeared that the natives were fearful of
arriving too late upon the beach, unless they made extraordinary exertions.
Sick and lame as I was, I would have started with Toby at once, had not
Kory-Kory not only refused to carry me, but manifested the most invincible
repugnance to our leaving the neighbourhood of the house. The rest of the
savages were equally opposed to our wishes, and seemed grieved and astonished
at the earnestness of my solicitations. I clearly perceived that, while my
attendant avoided all appearance of constraining my movements, he was
nevertheless determined to thwart my wishes. He seemed to me on this particular
occasion, as well as often afterwards, to be executing the orders of some other
person with regard to me, though at the same time feeling towards me the most
Toby, who had made up his mind to accompany the islanders if possible as soon
as they were in readiness to depart, and who for that reason had refrained from
showing the same anxiety that I had done, now represented to me that it was
idle for me to entertain the hope of reaching the beach in time to profit by
any opportunity that might then be presented.
"Do you not see," said he, "the savages themselves are fearful
of being too late, and I should hurry forward myself at once, did I not think
that, if I showed too much eagerness, I should destroy all our hopes of reaping
any benefit from this fortunate event. If you will only endeavour to appear
tranquil or unconcerned, you will quiet their suspicions, and I have no doubt
they will then let me go with them to the beach, supposing that I merely go out
of curiosity. Should I succeed in getting down to the boats, I will make known
the condition in which I have left you, and measures may then be taken to
secure our escape."
In the expediency of this I could not but acquiesce; and as the natives had now
completed their preparations, I watched with the liveliest interest the
reception that Toby's application might meet with. As soon as they understood
from my companion that I intended to remain, they appeared to make no objection
to his proposition, and even hailed it with pleasure. Their singular conduct on
this occasion not a little puzzled me at the time, and imparted to subsequent
events an additional mystery.
The islanders were now to be seen hurrying along the path which led to the sea.
I shook Toby warmly by the hand, and gave him my Payta hat to shield his
wounded head from the sun, as he had lost his own. He cordially returned the
pressure of my hand, and, solemnly promising to return as soon as the boats
should leave the shore, sprang from my side, and the next minute disappeared in
a turn of the grove.
In spite of the unpleasant reflections that crowded upon my mind, I could not
but be entertained by the novel and animated sight which now met my view. One
after another, the natives crowded along the narrow path, laden with every
variety of fruit. Here, you might have seen one, who, after ineffectually
endeavouring to persuade a surly porker to be conducted in leading-strings, was
obliged at last to seize the perverse animal in his arms, and carry him
struggling against his naked breast, and squealing without intermission. There
went two, who at a little distance might have been taken for the Hebrew spies,
on their return to Moses with the goodly bunch of grapes. One trotted before
the other at a distance of a couple of yards, while between them, from a pole
resting on their shoulders, was suspended a huge cluster of bananas, which
swayed to and fro with the rocking gait at which they proceeded. Here ran
another, perspiring with his exertions, and bearing before him a quantity of
cocoa-nuts, who, fearful of being too late, heeded not the fruit that dropped
from his basket, and appeared solely intent upon reaching his destination,
careless how many of his cocoa-nuts kept company with him.
In a short time the last straggler was seen hurrying on his way, and the faint
shouts of those in advance died insensibly upon the ear. Our part of the valley
now appeared nearly deserted by its inhabitants, Kory-Kory, his aged father,
and a few decrepit old people, being all that were left.
Towards sunset, the islanders in small parties began to return from the beach,
and among them, as they drew near to the house, I sought to descry the form of
my companion. But one after another they passed the dwelling, and I caught no
glimpse of him. Supposing, however, that he would soon appear with some of the
members of the household, I quieted my apprehensions, and waited patiently to
see him advancing, in company with the beautiful Fayaway. At last I perceived
Tinor coming forward, followed by the girls and young men who usually resided
in the house of Marheyo; but with them came not my comrade, and, filled with a
thousand alarms, I eagerly sought to discover the cause of his delay.
My earnest questions appeared to embarrass the natives greatly. All their
accounts were contradictory: one giving me to understand that Toby would be
with me in a very short time; another, that he did not know where he was; while
a third, violently inveighing against him, assured me .y I that he had stolen
away, and would never come back. It appeared to me, at the time, that in making
these various statements they endeavoured to conceal from me some terrible
disaster, lest the knowledge of it should overpower me.
Fearful lest some fatal calamity had overtaken him, I sought out young Fayaway,
and endeavoured to learn from her, if possible, the truth.
This gentle being had early attracted my regard, not only from her
extraordinary beauty, but from the attractive cast of her countenance,
singularly expressive of intelligence and humanity. Of all the natives, she
alone seemed to appreciate the effect which the peculiarity of the
circumstances in which we were placed had produced upon the minds of my
companion and myself. In addressing me – especially when I lay reclining upon
the mats suffering from pain – there was a tenderness in her manner which it
was impossible to misunderstand or resist. Whenever she entered the house, the
expression of her face indicated the liveliest sympathy for me; and moving
towards the place where I lay, with one arm slightly elevated in a gesture of
pity, and her large glistening eyes gazing intently into mine, she would murmur
plaintively, "Awha! awha! Tommo," and seat herself mournfully beside
Her manner convinced me that she deeply compassionated my situation, as being
removed from my country and friends, and placed beyond the reach of all relief.
Indeed, at times I was almost led to believe that her mind was swayed by gentle
impulses hardly to be anticipated from one in her condition; that she appeared
to be conscious there were ties rudely severed, which had once bound us to our
homes; that there were sisters and brothers anxiously looking forward to our
return, who were perhaps never more to behold us.
In this amiable light did Fayaway appear in my eyes; and, reposing full
confidence in her candour and intelligence, I now had recourse to her, in the
midst of my alarm with regard to my companion.
My questions evidently distressed her. She looked round from one to another of
the bystanders, as if hardly knowing what answer to give me. At last, yielding
to my importunities, she overcame her scruples, and gave me to understand that
Toby had gone away with the boats which had visited the bay, but had promised
to return at the expiration of three days. At first I accused him of
perfidiously deserting me; but as I grew more composed, I upbraided myself for
imputing so cowardly an action to him, and tranquillized myself with the belief
that he had availed himself of the opportunity to go round to Nukuheva, in order
to make some arrangement by which I could be removed from the valley. At any
rate, thought I, he will return with the medicines I require, and then, as soon
as I recover, there will be no difficulty in the way of our departure.
Consoling myself with these reflections, I lay down that night in a happier
frame of mind than I had done for some time. The next day passed without any
allusion to Toby on the part of the natives, who seemed desirous of avoiding
all reference to the subject. This raised some apprehensions in my breast; but,
when night came, I congratulated myself that the second day had now gone by,
and that on the morrow Toby would again be with me. But the morrow came and
went, and my companion did not appear. Ah! thought I, he reckons three days from
the morning of his departure – to-morrow he will arrive. But that weary day
also closed upon me without his return. Even yet I would not despair. I thought
that something detained him – that he was waiting for the sailing of a boat at
Nukuheva, and that in a day or two, at farthest, I should see him again. But
day after day of renewed disappointment passed by; at last hope deserted me,
and I fell a victim to despair.
Yes, thought I, gloomily, he has secured his own escape, and cares not what
calamity may befall his unfortunate comrade. Fool that I was, to suppose that
any one would willingly encounter the perils of this valley, after having once
got beyond its limits! He has gone, and has left me to combat alone all the
dangers by which I am surrounded. Thus would I sometimes seek to derive a
desperate consolation from dwelling upon the perfidy of Toby; whilst, at other
times, I sunk under the bitter remorse which I felt at having, by my own
imprudence, brought upon myself the fate which I was sure awaited me.
At other times I thought that perhaps, after all, these treacherous savages had
made away with him, and thence the confusion into which they were thrown by my
questions, and their contradictory answers; or he might be a captive in some
other part of the valley; or, more dreadful still, might have met with that
fate at which my very soul shuddered. But all these speculations were vain; no
tidings of Toby ever reached me – he had gone never to return.
The conduct of the islanders appeared inexplicable. All reference to my lost
comrade was carefully evaded, and if at any time they were forced to make some
reply to my frequent inquiries on the subject, they would uniformly denounce
him as an ungrateful runaway, who had deserted his friend, and taken himself
off to that vile and detestable place Nukuheva.
But whatever might have been his fate, now that he was gone the natives
multiplied their acts of kindness and attention towards myself, treating me
with a degree of deference which could hardly have been surpassed had I been
some celestial visitant. Kory-Kory never for one moment left my side, unless it
were to execute my wishes. The faithful fellow, twice every day, in the cool of
the morning and in the evening, insisted upon carrying me to the stream, and
bathing me in its refreshing water.
Frequently, in the afternoon, he would carry me to a particular part of the
stream, where the beauty of the scene produced a soothing influence upon my
mind. At this place the waters flowed between grassy banks, planted with
enormous bread-fruit trees, whose vast branches, interlacing overhead, formed a
leafy canopy; near the stream were several smooth black rocks. One of these,
projecting several feet above the surface of the water, had upon its summit a
shallow cavity, which, filled with freshly-gathered leaves, formed a delightful
Here I often lay for hours, covered with a gauze-like veil of tappa, while
Fayaway, seated beside me, and holding in her hand a fan woven from the
leaflets of a young cocoa-nut bough, brushed aside the insects that
occasionally lighted on my face, and Kory-Kory, with a view of chasing away my
melancholy, performed a thousand antics in the water before us.
As my eye wandered along this romantic stream, it would fall upon the
half-immersed figure of a beautiful girl, standing in the transparent water,
and catching in a little net a species of diminutive shell-fish, of which these
people are extravagantly fond. Sometimes a chattering group would be seated
upon the edge of a low rock in the midst of the brook, busily engaged in
thinning and polishing the shells of cocoa-nuts, by rubbing them briskly with a
small stone in the water, an operation which soon converts them into a light
and elegant drinking-vessel, somewhat resembling goblets made of
But the tranquillizing influences of beautiful scenery, and the exhibition of
human life under so novel and charming an aspect, were not my only sources of
Every evening the girls of the house gathered about me on the mats, and, after
chasing away Kory-Kory from my side – who, nevertheless, retired only to a
little distance, and watched their proceedings with the most jealous attention
– would anoint my body with a fragrant oil, squeezed from a yellow root, previously
pounded between a couple of stones, and which in their language is denominated
"aka." I used to hail with delight the daily recurrence of this
luxurious operation, in which I forgot all my troubles, and buried for the time
every feeling of sorrow.
Sometimes, in the cool of the evening, my devoted servitor would lead me out
upon the pi-pi in front of the house, and, seating me near its edge, protect my
occasionally hovered in the air, by wrapping me round with a large roll of
tappa. He then bustled about, and employed himself at least twenty minutes in
adjusting everything to secure my personal comfort.
Having perfected his arrangements, he would get my pipe, and, lighting it,
would hand it to me. Often he was obliged to strike a light for the occasion; and
as the mode he adopted was entirely different from what I had ever seen or
heard of before, I will describe it.
A straight, dry, and partly-decayed stick of the Habiscus, about six feet in
length, and half as many inches in diameter, with a smaller bit of wood, not
more than a foot long, and scarcely an inch wide, is as invariably to be met
with in every house in Typee, as a box of lucifer matches in the corner of a
kitchen-cupboard at home.
The islander, placing the larger stick obliquely against some object, with one
end elevated at an angle of forty-five degrees, mounts astride of it, like an
urchin about to gallop off upon a cane, and then, grasping the smaller one
firmly in both hands, he rubs its pointed end slowly up and down the extent of
a few inches on the principal stick, until at last he makes a narrow groove in
the wood, with an abrupt termination at the point farthest from him, where all
the dusty particles which the friction creates are accumulated in a little
At first Kory-Kory goes to work quite leisurely, but gradually quickens his
pace, and, waxing warm in the employment, edge, drives the stick furiously
along the smoking channel, plying his hands to and fro with amazing rapidity,
the perspiration starting from every pore. As he approaches the climax of his
effort, he pants and gasps for breath, and his eyes almost start from their
sockets with the violence of his exertions. This is the critical stage of the
operation; all his previous labours are vain if he cannot sustain the rapidity
of the movement until the reluctant spark is produced. Suddenly he stops,
becomes perfectly motionless. His hands still retain their hold of the smaller
stick, which is pressed convulsively against the farther end of the channel,
among the fine powder there accumulated, as if he had just pierced through and
through some little viper that was wriggling and struggling to escape from his
clutches. The next moment a delicate wreath of smoke curls spirally into the
air, the heap of dusty particles glows with fire, and Kory-Kory, almost
breathless, dismounts from his steed.
This operation appeared to me to be the most laborious species of work
performed in Typee; and had I possessed a sufficient intimacy with the language
to have conveyed my ideas upon the subject, I should certainly have suggested
to the most influential of the natives the expediency of establishing a college
of vestals, to be centrally located in the valley, for the purpose of keeping
alive the indispensable article of fire, so as to supersede the necessity of
such a vast outlay of strength and good temper as were usually squandered on
these occasions. There might, however, be special difficulties in carrying this
plan into execution.
What a striking evidence does this operation furnish of the wide difference
between the extreme of savage and civilized life! A gentleman of Typee can
bring up a numerous family of children, and give them all a highly respectable
cannibal education, with infinitely less toil and anxiety than he expends in
the simple process of striking a light; whilst a poor European artisan, who
through the instrumentality of a lucifer performs the same operation in one
second, is put to his wit's end to provide for his starving offspring that
food, which the children of a Polynesian father, without troubling their
parents, pluck from the branches of every tree around them.
ALL the inhabitants of the valley treated me with great kindness; but as to the
household of Marheyo, with whom I was now permanently domiciled, nothing could
surpass their efforts to minister to my comfort. To the gratification of my
palate they paid the most unwearied attention. They continually invited me to
partake of food, and when after eating heartily I declined the viands they
continued to offer me, they seemed to think that my appetite stood in need of
some piquant stimulant to excite its activity.
In pursuance of this idea, old Marheyo himself would hie him away to the
sea-shore by the break of day, for the purpose of collecting various species of
rare seaweed; some of which, among these people, are considered a great luxury.
After a whole day spent in this employment, he would return about nightfall
with several cocoa-nut shells filled with different descriptions of kelp. In
preparing these for use, he manifested all the ostentation of a professed cook,
although the chief mystery of the affair appeared to consist in pouring water
in judicious quantities upon the slimy contents of his cocoa-nut shells.
The first time he submitted one of these saline salads to my critical
attention, I naturally thought that anything collected at such pains must
possess peculiar merits; but one mouthful was a complete dose; and great was
the consternation of the old warrior at the rapidity with which I ejected his
How true it is, that the rarity of any particular article enhances its value
amazingly. In some part of the valley – I know not where, but probably in the
neighbourhood of the sea – the girls were sometimes in the habit of procuring
small quantities of salt, a thimble-full or so being the result of the united
labours of a party of five or six employed for the greater part of the day.
This precious commodity they brought to the house, enveloped in multitudinous
folds of leaves; and as a special mark of the esteem in which they held me,
would spread an immense leaf on the ground, and dropping one by one a few
minute particles of the salt upon it, invite me to taste them.
From the extravagant value placed upon the article, I verily believe, that with
a bushel of common Liverpool salt, all the real estate in Typee might have been
purchased. With a small pinch of it in one hand, and a quarter section of a
bread-fruit in the other, the greatest chief in the valley would have laughed
at all the luxuries of a Parisian table.
The celebrity of the bread-fruit tree, and the conspicuous place it occupies in
a Typee bill of fare, induces me to give at some length a general description
of the tree, and the various modes in which the fruit is prepared.
The bread-fruit tree, in its glorious prime, is a grand and towering object,
forming the same feature in a Marquesan landscape that the patriarchal elm does
in New England scenery. The latter tree it not a little resembles in height, in
the wide spread of its stalwart branches, and in its venerable and imposing
The leaves of the bread-fruit are of great size, and their edges are cut and
scolloped as fantastically as those of a lady's lace collar. As they annually
tend towards decay, they almost rival, in the brilliant variety of their
gradually changing hues, the fleeting shades of the expiring dolphin. The
autumnal tints of our American forests, glorious as they are, sink into nothing
in comparison with this tree.
The leaf, in one particular stage, when nearly all the prismatic colours are
blended on its surface, is often converted by the natives into a superb and
striking head-dress. The principal fibre traversing its length being split open
a convenient distance, and the elastic sides of the aperture pressed apart, the
head is inserted between them, the leaf drooping on one side, with its forward
half turned jauntily up on the brows, and the remaining part spreading
laterally behind the ears.
The fruit somewhat resembles in magnitude and general appearance one of our
citron melons of ordinary size; but, unlike the citron, it has no sectional
lines drawn along the outside. Its surface is dotted all over with little
conical prominences, looking not unlike the knobs on an antiquated church door.
The rind is perhaps an eighth of an inch in thickness; and denuded of this, at
the time when it is in the greatest perfection, the fruit presents a beautiful
globe of white pulp, the whole of which may be eaten, with the exception of a
slender core, which is easily removed.
The bread-fruit, however, is never used, and is indeed altogether unfit to be
eaten, until submitted in one form or other to the action of fire.
The most simple manner in which this operation is performed, and, I think, the
best, consists in placing any number of the freshly-plucked fruit, when in a
particular state of greenness, among the embers of a fire, in the same way that
you would roast a potato. After the lapse of ten or fifteen minutes, the green
rind embrowns and cracks, showing through the fissures in its sides the
milk-white interior. As soon as it cools the rind drops off, and you then have
the soft round pulp in its purest and most delicious state. Thus eaten, it has
a mild and pleasing flavour.
Sometimes after having been roasted in the fire, the natives snatch it briskly
from the embers, and permitting it to slip out of the yielding rind into a
vessel of cold water, stir up the mixture, which they call
"bo-a-sho." I never could endure this compound, and indeed the
preparation is not greatly in vogue among the more polite Typees.
There is one form, however, in which the fruit is occasionally served, that
renders it a dish fit for a king. As soon as it is taken from the fire the
exterior is removed, the core extracted, and the remaining part is placed in a
sort of shallow stone mortar, and briskly worked with a pestle of the same
substance. While one person is performing this operation, another takes a ripe
cocoa-nut, and breaking it in half, which they also do very cleverly, proceeds
to grate the juicy meat into fine particles. This is done by means of a piece
of mother-of-pearl shell, lashed firmly to the extreme end of a heavy stick,
with its straight side accurately notched like a saw. The stick is sometimes a
grotesquely-formed limb of a tree, with three or four branches twisting from
its body like so many shapeless legs, and sustaining it two or three feet from
The native, first placing a calabash beneath the nose, as it were, of his
curious-looking log-steed, for the purpose of receiving the grated fragments as
they fall, mounts astride of it as if it were a hobby-horse, and twirling the
inside of one of his hemispheres of cocoa-nut around the sharp teeth of the
mother-of-pearl shell, the pure white meat falls in snowy showers into the
receptacle provided. Having obtained a quantity sufficient for his purpose, he
places it in a bag made of the net-like fibrous substance attached to all
cocoa-nut trees, and compressing it over the bread-fruit, which being now
sufficiently pounded, is put into a wooden bowl – extracts a thick creamy milk.
The delicious liquid soon bubbles round the fruit, and leaves it at last just
peeping above its surface.
This preparation is called "kokoo," and a most luscious preparation
it is. The hobby-horse and the pestle and mortar were in great requisition
during the time I remained in the house of Marheyo, and Kory-Kory had frequent
occasion to show his skill in their use.
But the great staple articles of food into which the bread-fruit is converted
by these natives are known respectively by the names of Amar and Poee-Poee.
At a certain season of the year, when the fruit of the hundred groves of the
valley has reached its maturity, and hangs in golden spheres from every branch,
the islanders assemble in harvest groups, and garner in the abundance which
surrounds them. The trees are stripped of their nodding burdens, which, easily
freed from the rind and core, are gathered together in capacious wooden
vessels, where the pulpy fruit is soon worked by a stone pestle, vigorously
applied, into a blended mass of a doughy consistency, called by the natives
"Tutao." This is then divided into separate parcels, which, after
being made up into stout packages, enveloped in successive folds of leaves, and
bound round with thongs of bark, are stored away in large receptacles hollowed
in the earth, from whence they are drawn as occasion may require.
In this condition the Tutao sometimes remains for years, and even is thought to
improve by age. Before it is fit to be eaten, however, it has to undergo an
additional process. A primitive oven is scooped in the ground, and its bottom
being loosely covered with stones, a large fire is kindled within it. As soon
as the requisite degree of heat is attained, the embers are removed, and the
surface of the stones being covered with thick layers of leaves, one of the
large packages of Tutao is deposited upon them, and overspread with another
layer of leaves. The whole is then quickly heaped up with earth, and forms a
The Tutao thus baked is called "Amar"; the action of the oven having
converted it into an amber-coloured caky substance, a little tart, but not at
all disagreeable to the taste.
By another and final process the "Amar" is changed into
"Poee-Poee." This transition is rapidly effected. The amar is placed
in a vessel, and mixed with water until it gains a proper pudding-like
consistency, when, without further preparation, it is in readiness for use.
This is the form in which the "Tutao" is generally consumed. The
singular mode of eating it I have already described.
Were it not that the bread-fruit is thus capable of being preserved for a
length of time, the natives might be reduced to a state of starvation; for,
owing to some unknown cause, the trees sometimes fail to bear fruit; and on
such occasions the islanders chiefly depend upon the supplies they have been
enabled to store away.
This stately tree, which is rarely met with upon the Sandwich Islands, and then
only of a very inferior quality, and at Tahiti does not abound to a degree that
renders its fruit the principal article of food, attains its greatest
excellence in the genial climate of the Marquesan group, where it grows to an
enormous magnitude, and flourishes in the utmost abundance.
AT THE TI
IN looking back to this period, and calling to remembrance the numberless
proofs of kindness and respect which I received from the natives of the valley,
I can scarcely understand how it was that, in the midst of so many consolatory
circumstances, my mind should still have been consumed by the most dismal
forebodings, and have remained a prey to the profoundest melancholy. It is true
that the suspicious circumstances which had attended the disappearance of Toby
were enough of themselves to excite distrust with regard to the savages, in
whose power I felt myself to be entirely placed, especially when it was
combined with the knowledge that these very men, kind and respectful as they
were to me, were, after all, nothing better than a set of cannibals.
But my chief source of anxiety, and that which poisoned every temporary
enjoyment, was the mysterious disease in my leg, which still remained unabated.
All the herbal applications of Tinor, united with the severer discipline of the
old leech, and the affectionate nursing of Kory-Kory, had failed to relieve me.
I was almost a cripple, and the pain I endured at intervals was agonizing. The
unaccountable malady showed no signs of amendment; on the contrary, its violence
increased day by day, and threatened the most fatal results, unless some
powerful means were employed to counteract it. It seemed as if I were destined
to sink under this grievous affliction, or at least that it would hinder me
from availing myself of any opportunity of escaping from the valley.
An incident which occurred as nearly as I can estimate about three weeks after
the disappearance of Toby, convinced me that the natives, from some reason or
other, would interpose every possible obstacle to my leaving them.
One morning there was no little excitement evinced by the people near my abode,
and which I soon discovered proceeded from a vague report that boats had been
seen at a great distance approaching the bay. Immediately all was bustle and
animation. It so happened that day that the pain I suffered having somewhat
abated, and feeling in much better spirits than usual, I had complied with
Kory-Kory's invitation to visit the chief Mehevi at the place called the
"Ti," which I have before described as being situated within the
precincts of the Taboo groves. These sacred recesses were at no great distance
from Marheyo's habitation, and lay between it and the sea; the path that
conducted to the beach passing directly in front of the Ti, and thence skirting
along the border of the groves.
I was reposing upon the mats, within the sacred building, in company with
Mehevi and several other chiefs, when the announcement was first made. It sent
a thrill of joy through my whole frame; – perhaps Toby was about to return. I
rose at once to my feet, and my instinctive impulse was to hurry down to the
beach, equally regardless of the distance that separated me from it, and of my
disabled condition. As soon as Mehevi noticed the effect the intelligence had
produced upon me, and the impatience I betrayed to reach the sea, his
countenance assumed that inflexible rigidity of expression which had so awed me
on the afternoon of our arrival at the house of Marheyo. As I was proceeding to
leave the Ti, he laid his hand upon my shoulder, and said gravely, "abo,
abo" (wait, wait). Solely intent upon the one thought that occupied my
mind, and heedless of his request, I was brushing past him, when suddenly he
assumed a tone of authority, and told me to "moee" (sit down). Though
struck by the alteration in his demeanour, the excitement under which I
laboured was too strong to permit me to obey the unexpected command, and I was
still limping towards the edge of the pi-pi with Kory-Kory clinging to one arm
in his efforts to restrain me, when the natives around started to their feet,
ranged themselves along the open front of the building, while Mehevi looked at
me scowlingly, and reiterated his commands still more sternly.
It was at this moment, when fifty savage countenances were glaring upon me,
that I first truly experienced I was indeed a captive in the valley. The
conviction rushed upon me with staggering force, and I was overwhelmed by this
confirmation of my worst fears. I saw at once that it was useless for me to
resist, and sick at heart, I reseated myself upon the mats, and for the moment
abandoned myself to despair.
I now perceived the natives one after the other hurrying past the Ti and
pursuing the route that conducted to the sea. These savages, thought I, will
soon be holding communication with some of my own countrymen perhaps, who with
ease could restore me to liberty did they know of the situation I was in. No
language can describe the wretchedness which I felt; and in the bitterness of
my soul I imprecated a thousand curses on the perfidious Toby, who had thus
abandoned me to destruction. It was in vain that Kory-Kory tempted me with
food, or lighted my pipe, or sought to attract my attention by performing the
uncouth antics that had sometimes diverted me. I was fairly knocked down by
this last misfortune, which, much as I had feared it, I had never before had
the courage calmly to contemplate.
Regardless of everything but my own sorrow, I remained in the Ti for several
hours, until shouts proceeding at intervals from the groves beyond the house
proclaimed the return of the natives from the beach.
Whether any boats visited the bay that morning or not, I never could ascertain.
The savages assured me that there had not – but I was inclined to believe that
by deceiving me in this particular they sought to allay the violence of my
grief. However that might be, this incident showed plainly that the Typees
intended to hold me a prisoner. As they still treated me with the same sedulous
attention as before, I was utterly at a loss how to account for their singular
conduct. Had I been in a situation to instruct them in any of the rudiments of
the mechanic arts, or had I manifested a disposition to render myself in any
way useful among them, their conduct might have been attributed to some
adequate motive, but as it was, the matter seemed to me inexplicable.
During my whole stay on the island there occurred but two or three instances
where the natives applied to me with the view of availing themselves of my
superior information; and these now appear so ludicrous that I cannot forbear
The few things we had brought from Nukuheva had been done up into a small
bundle which we had carried with us in our descent to the valley. This bundle,
the of our arrival, I had used as a pillow, but on the succeeding morning,
opening it for the inspection of the natives, they gazed upon the miscellaneous
contents as though I had just revealed to them a casket of diamonds, and they
insisted that so precious a treasure should be properly secured. A line was
accordingly attached to it, and the other end being passed over the ridge-pole
of the house, it was hoisted up to the apex of the roof, where it hung
suspended directly over the mats where I usually reclined. When I desired
anything from it I merely raised my finger to bamboo beside me, and taking hold
of the string which was there fastened, lowered the package. This was
exceedingly handy, and I took care to let the natives understand how much I
applauded the invention. Of this package the chief contents were a razor with
its case, a supply of needles and thread, a pound or two of tobacco, and a few
yards of a bright-coloured calico.
I should have mentioned, that shortly after Toby's disappearance, perceiving
the uncertainty of the time I might be obliged to remain in the valley, – if,
indeed, I ever should escape from it, – and considering that my whole wardrobe
consisted of a shirt and a pair of trousers, I resolved to doff these garments
at once, in order to preserve them in a suitable condition for wear, should I
again appear among civilized beings. I was consequently obliged to assume the
Typee costume, a little altered, however, to suit my own views of propriety,
and in which I have no doubt I appeared to as much advantage as a senator of
Rome enveloped in the folds of his toga. A few folds of yellow tappa, tucked
about my waist, descended to my feet in the style of a lady's petticoat, only I
did not have recourse to those voluminous paddings in the rear with which our
gentle dames are in the habit of augmenting the sublime rotundity of their
figures. This usually comprised my in-door dress: whenever I walked out, I
superadded to it an ample robe of the same material, which completely enveloped
my person, and screened it from the rays of the sun.
One morning I made a rent in this mantle; and to show the islanders with what
facility it could be repaired, I lowered my bundle, and taking from it a needle
and thread, proceeded to stitch up the opening. They regarded this wonderful
application of science with intense admiration; and whilst I was stitching
away, old Marheyo, who was one of the lookers-on, suddenly clapped his hand to
his forehead, and rushing to a corner of the house, drew forth a soiled and
tattered strip of faded calico – which he must procured some time or other in
traffic on the beach – and besought me eagerly to exercise a little of my art
upon it. I willingly complied, though certainly so stumpy a needle as mine
never took such gigantic strides over calico before. The repairs completed, old
Marheyo gave me a paternal hug; and divesting himself of his "maro"
(girdle), swathed the calico about his loins, and slipping the beloved
ornaments into his ears, grasped his spear and sallied out of the house, like a
valiant Templar arrayed in a new and costly suit of armour.
I never used my razor during my stay in the island, but, although a very
subordinate affair, it had been vastly admired by the Typees; and Narmonee, a
great hero among them, who was exceedingly precise in the arrangements of his
toilet and the general adjustment of his person, being the most accurately
tattooed and laboriously horrified individual in all the valley, thought it
would be a great advantage to have it applied to the already shaven crown of
The implement they usually employ is a shark's tooth, which is about as well
adapted to the purpose as a one-pronged fork for pitching hay. No wonder, then,
that the acute Narmonee perceived the advantage my razor possessed over the
usual implement. Accordingly, one day, he requested as a personal favour, that
I would just run over his head with the razor. In reply, I gave him to
understand that it was too dull, and could not be used to any purpose without
being previously sharpened. To assist my meaning, I went through an imaginary
honing process on the palm of my hand. Narmonee took my meaning in an instant,
and running out of the house, returned the next moment with a huge rough mass
of rock as big as a millstone, and indicated to me that that was exactly the
thing I wanted. Of course there was nothing left for me but to proceed to
business, and I began scraping away at a great rate. He writhed and wriggled
under the infliction, but, fully convinced of my skill, endured the pain like a
Though I never saw Narmonee in battle, I will, from what I then observed, stake
my life upon his courage and fortitude. Before commencing operations, his head
had presented a surface of short bristling hairs, and by the time I had
concluded my unskilful operation it resembled not a little a stubble field
after being gone over with a harrow. However, as the chief expressed the
liveliest satisfaction at the result, I was too wise to dissent from his
SKIRMISH WITH THE HAPPARS
DAY after day wore on, and still there was no perceptible change in the conduct
of the islanders towards me. Gradually I lost all knowledge of the regular
recurrence of the days of the week, and sunk insensibly into that kind of
apathy which ensues after some violent outbreak of despair. My limb suddenly
healed, the swelling went down, the pain subsided, and I had every reason to
suppose I should soon completely recover from the affliction that had so long
As soon as I was enabled to ramble about the valley in company with the
natives, troops of whom followed me whenever I sallied out of the house, I
began to experience an elasticity of mind which placed me beyond the reach of
those dismal forebodings to which I had so lately been a prey. Received
wherever I went with the most deferential kindness; regaled perpetually with
the most delightful fruits; ministered to by dark-eyed nymphs; and enjoying
besides all the services of the devoted Kory-Kory, I thought that, for a
sojourn among cannibals, no man could have well made a more agreeable one.
To be sure, there were limits set to my wanderings. Toward the sea, my progress
was barred by an express prohibition of the savages; and after having made two
or three ineffectual attempts to reach it, as much to gratify my curiosity as
anything else, I gave up the idea. It was in vain to think of reaching it by
stealth, since the natives escorted me in numbers wherever I went, and not for
one single moment that I can recall to mind was I ever permitted to be
alone.The green and precipitous
elevations that stood ranged around the head of the vale where Marheyo's
habitation was situated, effectually precluded all hope of escape in that
quarter, even if I could have stolen away from the thousand eyes of the
But these reflections now seldom obtruded upon me; I gave myself up to the
passing hour, and if ever disagreeable thoughts arose in my mind, I drove them
away. When I looked around the verdant recess in which I was buried, and gazed
up to the summits of the lofty eminence that hemmed me in, I was well disposed
to think that I was in the "Happy Valley," and that beyond those
heights there was nought but a world of care and anxiety.
In this frame of mind, every object that presented itself to my notice struck
me in a new light, and the opportunities I now enjoyed of observing the manners
of the natives, tended to strengthen my favourable impressions. One peculiarity
that fixed my admiration was the perpetual hilarity reigning through the whole
extent of the vale. There seemed to be no cares, griefs, troubles, or vexations
in all Typee. The hours tripped along as gaily as the laughing couples down a
There were none of those thousand sources of irritation that the ingenuity of
civilized man has created to mar his own felicity. There were no foreclosures
of mortgages, no protested notes, no bills payable, no debts of honour, in
Typee; no unreasonable tailors and shoemakers, perversely bent on being paid;
no duns of any description; no assault and battery attorneys, to foment
discord, backing their clients up to a quarrel, and then knocking their heads
together; no poor relations everlastingly occupying the spare bed-chamber, and
diminishing the elbow-room at the family table; no destitute widows with their
children starving on the cold charities of the world; no beggars; no debtor's
prisons; no proud and hard-hearted nabobs in Typee; or, to sum up all in one
word – no Money! That "root of all evil" was not to be found in the
In this secluded abode of happiness there were no cross old women, no cruel
step-dames, no withered spinsters, no love-sick maidens, no sour old bachelors,
no inattentive husbands, no melancholy young men, no blubbering youngsters, and
no squalling brats. All was mirth, fun, and high good humour. Blue devils,
hypochondria, and doleful dumps went and hid themselves among the nooks and
crannies of the rocks.
Here you would see a parcel of children frolicking together the live-long day,
and no quarrelling, no contention among them. The same number in our own land
could not have played together for the space of an hour without biting or
scratching one another. There you might have seen a throng of young females,
not filled with envyings of each other's charms, nor displaying the ridiculous
affectations of gentility, nor yet moving in whalebone corsets, like so many
automatons, but free, inartificially happy, and unconstrained.
There were some spots in that sunny vale where they would frequently resort to
decorate themselves with garlands of flowers. To have seen them reclining
beneath the shadows of one of the beautiful groves, the ground about them
strewn with freshly gathered buds and blossoms, employed in weaving chaplets
and necklaces, one would have thought that all the train of Flora had gathered
together to keep a festival in honour of their mistress.
With the young men there seemed almost always some matter of diversion or
business on hand, that afforded a constant variety of enjoyment. But whether
fishing, or carving canoes, or polishing their ornaments, never was there
exhibited the least sign of strife or contention among them.
As for the warriors, they maintained a tranquil dignity of demeanour,
journeying occasionally from house to house, where they were always sure to be
received with the attention bestowed upon distinguished guests. The old men, of
whom there were many in the vale, seldom stirred from their mats, where they
would recline for hours and hours, smoking and talking to one another with all
the garrulity of age.
But the continual happiness which, so far as I was able to judge, appeared to
prevail in the valley, sprung principally from that all-pervading sensation
which Rousseau has told us he at one time experienced, the mere buoyant sense
of a healthful physical existence. And, indeed, in this particular the Typees
had ample reason to felicitate themselves, for sickness was almost unknown.
During the whole period of my stay, I saw but one invalid among them; and on
their smooth clear skins you observed no blemish or mark of disease.
The general repose, however, upon which I have just been descanting, was broken
in upon about this time by an event, which proved that the islanders were not
entirely exempt from those occurrences which disturb the quiet of more
Having now been a considerable time in the valley, I began to feel surprised
that the violent hostility subsisting between its inhabitants and those of the
adjoining bay of Happar, should never have manifested itself in any warlike
encounter. Although the valiant Typees would often, by gesticulations, declare
their undying hatred against their enemies, and the disgust they felt at their
cannibal propensities; although they dilated upon the manifold injuries they
had received at their hands, yet, with a forbearance truly commendable, they
appeared patiently to sit down under their grievances, and to refrain from
making any reprisals. The Happars, entrenched behind their mountains, and never
even showing themselves on their summits, did not appear to me to furnish
adequate cause for that excess of animosity evinced towards them by the heroic
tenants of our vale, and I was inclined to believe that the deeds of blood
attributed to them had been greatly exaggerated.
On the other hand, as the clamours of war had not up to this period disturbed
the serenity of the tribe, I began to distrust the truth of those reports which
ascribed so fierce and belligerent a character to the Typee nation. Surely,
thought I, all these terrible stories I have heard about the inveteracy with
which they carried on the feud, their deadly intensity of hatred, and the
diabolical malice with which they glutted their revenge upon the inanimate
forms of the slain, are nothing more than fables, and I must confess that I
experienced something like a sense of regret at having my hideous anticipations
thus disappointed. I felt in some sort like a 'prentice boy who, going to the
play in the expectation of being delighted with a cut-and-thrust tragedy, is
almost moved to tears of disappointment at the exhibition of a genteel comedy.
I could not avoid thinking that I had fallen in with a greatly traduced people,
and I moralized not a little upon the disadvantage of having a bad name, which
in this instance had given a tribe of savages, who were as pacific as so many
lambkins, the reputation of a confederacy of giant-killers.
But subsequent events proved that I had been a little too premature in coming
to this conclusion. One day, about noon, happening to be at the Ti, I had lain
down on the mats with several of the chiefs, and had gradually sunk into a most
luxurious siesta, when I was awakened by a tremendous outcry, and starting up,
beheld the natives seizing their spears and hurrying out, while the most
puissant of the chiefs, grasping the six muskets which were ranged against the
bamboos, followed after, and soon disappeared in the groves. These movements
were accompanied by wild shouts, in which "Happar, Happar," greatly
predominated. The islanders were now to be seen running past the Ti, and
striking across the valley to the Happar side. Presently I heard the sharp
report of a musket from the adjoining hills, and then a burst of voices in the
same direction. At this the women, who had congregated in the groves, set up
the most violent clamours, as they invariably do here as elsewhere on every
occasion of excitement and alarm, with a view of tranquillizing their own minds
and disturbing other people. On this particular occasion they made such an
outrageous noise, and continued it with such perseverance, that for awhile, had
entire volleys of musketry been fired off in the neighbouring mountains, I
should not have been able to have heard them.
When this female commotion had a little subsided I listened eagerly for further
information. At last bang went another shot, and then a second volley of yells
from the hills. Again all was quiet, and continued so for such a length of time
that I began to think the contending armies had agreed upon a suspension of
hostilities; when pop went a third gun, followed as before with a yell. After
this, for nearly two hours nothing occurred worthy of comment, save some
straggling shouts from the hillside, sounding like the halloos of a parcel of
truant boys who had lost themselves in the woods.
During this interval I had remained standing on the piazza of the
"Ti," which directly fronted the Happar mountain, and with no one
near me but Kory-Kory and the old superannuated savages I have before
described. These latter never stirred from their mats, and seemed altogether
unconscious that anything unusual was going on.
As for Kory-Kory, he appeared to think that we were in the midst of great
events, and sought most zealously to impress me with a due sense of their
importance. Every sound that reached us conveyed some momentous item of
intelligence to him. At such times, as if he were gifted with second sight, he
would go through a variety of pantomimic illustrations, showing me the precise
manner in which the redoubtable Typees were at that very moment chastising the
insolence of the enemy. "Mehevi hanna pippee nuee Happar," he
exclaimed every five minutes, giving me to understand that under that
distinguished captain the warriors of his nation were performing prodigies of
Having heard only four reports from the muskets, I was led to believe that they
were worked by the islanders in the same manner as the Sultan Solyman's
ponderous artillery at the siege of Byzantium, one of them taking an hour or
two to load and train. At last, no sound whatever proceeding from the
mountains, I concluded that the contest had been determined one way or the
other. Such appeared, indeed, to be the case, for in a little while a courier
arrived at the "Ti," almost breathless with his exertions, and
communicated the news of a great victory having been achieved by his
countrymen: "Happar poo arva! – Happar poo arva!" (the cowards had
fled). Kory-Kory was in ecstasies, and commenced a vehement harangue, which, so
far as I understood it, implied that the result exactly agreed with his
expectations, and which, moreover, was intended to convince me that it would be
a perfectly useless undertaking, even for an army of fire-eaters, to offer
battle to the irresistible heroes of our valley. In all this I of course
acquiesced, and looked forward with no little interest to the return of the
conquerors, whose victory I feared might not have been purchased without cost
But here I was again mistaken; for Mehevi, in conducting his warlike
operations, rather inclined to the Fabian than to the Buonapartean tactics,
husbanding his resources and exposing his troops to no unnecessary hazards. The
total loss of the victors in this obstinately contested affair was, – in
killed, wounded, and missing – one forefinger and part of a thumb-nail (which
the late proprietor brought along with him in his hand), a severely contused
arm, and a considerable effusion of blood flowing from the thigh of a chief who
had received an ugly thrust from a Happar spear. What the enemy had suffered I
could not discover, but I presume they had succeeded in taking off with them
the bodies of their slain.
Such was the issue of the battle, as far as its results came under my
observation; and as it appeared to be considered an event of prodigious
importance, I reasonably concluded that the wars of the natives were marked by
no very sanguinary traits. I afterwards learned how the skirmish had
originated. A number of the Happars had been discovered prowling for no good
purpose on the Typee side of the mountain; the alarm sounded, and the invaders,
after a protracted resistance, had been chased over the frontier. But why had
not the intrepid Mehevi carried the war into Happar? Why had not he made a
descent into the hostile vale, and brought away some trophy of his victory –
some materials for the cannibal entertainment which I had heard usually
terminated every engagement? After all, I was much inclined to believe that
these shocking festivals must occur very rarely among the islanders, if,
indeed, they ever take place.
For two or three days the late event was the theme of general comment; after
which the excitement gradually wore away, and the valley resumed its accustomed
RETURNING health and peace of mind gave a new interest to everything around me.
I sought to diversify my time by as many enjoyments as lay within my reach.
Bathing in company with troops of girls, formed one of my chief amusements. We
sometimes enjoyed the recreation in the waters of a miniature lake, into which
the central stream of the valley expanded. This lovely sheet of water was
almost circular in figure, and about three hundred yards across. Its beauty was
indescribable. All around its banks waved luxuriant masses of tropical
folliage, soaring high above which were seen, here and there, the symmetrical
shaft of the cocoa-nut tree, surmounted by its tuft of graceful branches,
drooping in the air like so many waving ostrich plumes.
The ease and grace with which the maidens of the valley propelled themselves
through the water, and their familiarity with the element, were truly
astonishing. Sometimes they might be seen gliding along just under the surface,
without apparently moving hand or foot, then throwing themselves on their
sides, they darted through the water, revealing glimpses of their forms, as, in
the course of their rapid progress, they shot for an instant partly into the
air; at one moment they dived deep down into the water, and the next they rose
bounding to the surface.
I remember upon one occasion plunging in among a parcel of these river-nymphs,
and counting vainly on my superior strength, sought to drag some of them under
the water; but I quickly repented my temerity. The amphibious young creatures
swarmed about me like a shoal of dolphins, and seizing hold of my devoted
limbs, tumbled me about and ducked me under the surface, until from the strange
noises which rang in my ears, and the supernatural visions dancing before my
eyes, I thought I was in the land of spirits. I stood indeed as little chance
among them as a cumbrous whale attacked on all sides by a legion of swordfish.
When at length they relinquished their hold of me, they swam away in every
direction, laughing at my clumsy endeavours to reach them.
There was no boat on the lake; but at my solicitation, and for my special use,
some of the young men attached to Marheyo's household, under the direction of
the indefatigable Kory-Kory, brought up a light and tastefully carved canoe
from the sea. It was launched upon the sheet of water, and floated there as
gracefully as a swan. But, melancholy to relate, it produced an effect I had
not anticipated. The sweet nymphs, who had sported with me before in the lake,
now all fled its vicinity. The prohibited craft, guarded by the edicts of the
"taboo," extended the prohibition to the waters in which it lay.
For a few days, Kory-Kory, with one or two other youths, accompanied me in my
excursions to the lake, and while I paddled about in my light canoe, would swim
after me shouting and gambolling in pursuit. But this was far from contenting
me. Indeed, I soon began to weary of it, and longed more than ever for the
pleasant society of the mermaids, in whose absence the amusement was dull and
insipid. One morning I expressed to my faithful servitor my desire for the
return of the nymphs. The honest fellow looked at me, bewildered for a moment,
and then shook his head solemnly, and murmured "taboo! taboo!" giving
me to understand that unless the canoe was removed, I could not expect to have
the young ladies back again. But to this procedure I was averse; I not only
wanted the canoe to stay where it was, but I wanted the beauteous Fayaway to
get into it, and paddle with me about the lake. This latter proposition
completely horrified Kory-Kory's notions of propriety. He inveighed against it,
as something too monstrous to be thought of. It not only shocked their
established notions of propriety, but was at variance with all their religious
However, although the "taboo" was a ticklish thing to meddle with, I
determined to test its capabilities of resisting an attack. I consulted the
chief Mehevi, who endeavoured to persuade me from my object: but I was not to
be repulsed; and accordingly increased the warmth of my solicitations. At last
he entered into a long, and I have no doubt a very learned and eloquent
exposition of the history and nature of the "taboo" as affecting this
particular case; employing a variety of most extraordinary words, which, from
their amazing length and sonorousness, I have every reason to believe were of a
theological nature. But all that he said failed to convince me: partly perhaps,
because I could not comprehend a word that he uttered; but chiefly, that for
the life of me, I could not understand why a woman should not have as much
right to enter a canoe as a man. At last he became a little more rational, and
intimated that, out of the abundant love he bore me, he would consult with the
priests and see what could be done.
How it was that the priesthood of Typee satisfied the affair with their
consciences, I know not; but so it was, and Fayaway's dispensation from this
portion of the taboo was at length procured. Such an event, I believe, never
before had occurred in the valley; but it was high time the islanders should be
taught a little gallantry, and I trust that the example I set them may produce
beneficial effects. Ridiculous, indeed, that the lovely creatures should be
obliged to paddle about in the water, like so many ducks, while a parcel of
great strapping fellows skimmed over its surface in their canoes.
The first day after Fayaway's emancipation, I had a delightful little party on
the lake – the damsel, Kory-Kory, and myself. My zealous body-servant brought
from the house a calabash of poee-poee, half a dozen young cocoa-nuts –
stripped of their husks – three pipes, as many yams, and me on his back a part
of the way. Something of a load; but Kory-Kory was a very strong man for his
size, and by no means brittle in the spine. We had a very pleasant day; my
trusty valet plied the paddle and swept us gently along the margin of the
water, beneath the shades of the overhanging thickets. Fayaway and I reclined
in the stern of the canoe, the gentle nymph occasionally placing her pipe to
her lip, and exhaling the mild fumes of the tobacco, to which her rosy breath
added a fresh perfume. Strange as it may seem, there is nothing in which a
young and beautiful female appears to more advantage than in the act of
smoking. How captivating is a Peruvian lady, swinging in her gaily-woven
hammock of grass, extended between two orange-trees, and inhaling the fragrance
of a choice cigarro! But Fayaway, holding in her delicately-formed olive hand
the long yellow reed of her pipe, with its quaintly carved bowl, and every few
moments languishingly giving forth light wreaths of vapour from her mouth and
nostrils, looked still more engaging.
We floated about thus for several hours, when I looked up to the warm, glowing,
tropical sky, and then down into the transparent depths below; and when my eye,
wandering from the bewitching scenery around, fell upon the
grotesquely-tattooed form of Kory-Kory, and finally encountered the pensive
gaze of Fayaway, I thought I had been transported to some fairy region, so
unreal did everything appear.
This lovely piece of water was the coolest spot in all the valley, and I now
made it a place of continual resort during the hottest period of the day. One
side of it lay near the termination of a long gradually expanding gorge, which
mounted to the heights that environed the vale. The strong trade-wind, met in
its course by these elevations, circled and eddied about their summits, and was
sometimes driven down the steep ravine and swept across the valley, ruffling in
its passage the otherwise tranquil surface of the lake.
One day, after we had been paddling about for some time, I disembarked
Kory-Kory, and paddled the canoe to the windward side of the lake. As I turned
the canoe, away, who was with me, seemed all at once to be struck with some
happy idea. With a wild exclamation of delight, she disengaged from her person
the ample robe of tappa which was knotted over her shoulder (for the purpose of
shielding her from the sun), and spreading it out like a sail, stood erect with
upraised arms in the head of the canoe. We American sailors pride ourselves
upon our straight clean spars, but a prettier little mast than Fayaway made was
never shipped aboard of any craft.
In a moment the tappa was distended by the breeze – the long brown tresses of
Fayaway streamed in the air – and the canoe glided rapidly through the water,
and shot towards the shore. Seated in the stern, I directed its course with my
paddle until it dashed up the soft sloping bank, and Fayaway, with a light
spring, alighted on the ground; whilst Kory-Kory, who had watched our
manoeuvres with admiration, now clapped his hands in transport, and shouted
like a madman. Many a time afterwards was this feat repeated.
If the reader have not observed ere this that I was the declared admirer of
Miss Fayaway, all I can say is, that he is little conversant with affairs of
the heart, and I certainly shall not trouble myself to enlighten him any
farther. Out of the calico I had brought from the ship a dress was made for
this lovely girl. In it she looked, I must confess, something like an
opera-dancer. The drapery of the latter damsel generally commences a little
above the elbows, but my island beauty's began at the waist, and terminated
sufficiently far above the ground to reveal the most bewitching ankle in the universe.
The day that Fayaway first wore this robe was rendered memorable by a new
acquaintance being introduced to me. In the afternoon I was lying in the house,
when I heard a great uproar outside; but being by this time pretty well
accustomed to the wild halloos which were almost continually ringing through
the valley, I paid little attention to it, until old Marheyo, under the
influence of some strange excitement, rushed into my presence and communicated
the astounding tidings, "Marnoo pemi!" which being interpreted,
implied that an individual by the name of Marnoo was approaching. My worthy old
friend evidently expected that this intelligence would produce a great effect
upon me, and for a time he stood earnestly regarding me, as if curious to see
how I should conduct myself, but as I remained perfectly unmoved, the old
gentleman darted out of the house again, in as great a hurry as he had entered
"Marnoo, Marnoo," cogitated I, "I have never heard that name
before. Some distinguished character, I presume, from the prodigious riot the
natives are making"; the tumultuous noise drawing nearer and nearer every
moment, while "Marnoo!-Marnoo!" was shouted by every tongue.
I made up my mind that some savage warrior of consequence, who had not yet
enjoyed the honour of an audience, was desirous of paying his respects on the
present occasion. So vain had I become by the lavish attention to which I had
been accustomed, that I felt half inclined, as a punishment for such neglect,
to give this Marnoo a cold reception, when the excited throng came within view,
convoying one of the most striking specimens of humanity that I ever beheld.
The stranger could not have been more than twenty-five years of age, and was a
little above the ordinary height; had he been a single hair's breadth taller,
the matchless symmetry of his form would have been destroyed. His unclad limbs
were beautifully formed; whilst the elegant outline of his figure, together
with his beardless cheeks, might have entitled him to the distinction of standing
for the statue of the Polynesian Apollo; and indeed the oval of his countenance
and the regularity of every feature reminded me of an antique bust. But the
marble repose of art was supplied by a warmth and liveliness of expression only
to be seen in the South Sea islander under the most favourable developments of
nature. The hair of Marnoo was a rich curling brown, and twined about his
temples and neck in little close curling ringlets, which danced up and down
continually when he was animated in conversation. His cheek was of a feminine
softness, and his face was free from the least blemish of tattooing, although
the rest of his body was drawn all over with fanciful figures, which – unlike
the unconnected sketching usual among these natives – appeared to have been
executed in conformity with some general design.
The tattooing on his back in particular attracted my attention. The artist
employed must indeed have excelled in his profession. Traced along the course
of the spine was accurately delineated the slender, tapering, and
diamond-checkered shaft of the beautiful "artu" tree. Branching from
the stem on either side, and disposed alternately, were the graceful branches
drooping with leaves all correctly drawn, and elaborately finished. Indeed,
this piece of tattooing was the best specimen of the Fine Arts I had yet seen
in Typee. A rear view of the stranger might have suggested the idea of a
spreading vine tacked against a garden wall. Upon his breast, arms, and legs,
were exhibited an infinite variety of figures; every one of which, however,
appeared to have reference to the general effect sought to be produced. The
tattooing I have described was of the brightest blue, and when contrasted with
the light olive-colour of the skin, produced an unique and even elegant effect.
A slight girdle of white tappa, scarcely two inches in width, but hanging
before and behind in spreading tassels, composed the entire costume of the
He advanced surrounded by the islanders, carrying under one arm a small roll of
the native cloth, and grasping in his other hand a long and richly-decorated
spear. His manner was that of a traveller conscious that he is approaching a
comfortable stage in his journey. Every moment he turned good-humouredly to the
throng around him, and gave some dashing sort of reply to their incessant
queries, which appeared to convulse them with uncontrollable mirth.
Struck by his demeanour, and the peculiarity of his appearance, so unlike that
of the shaven-crowned and face-tattooed natives in general, I involuntarily
rose as he entered the house, and proffered him a seat on the mats beside me.
But without deigning to notice the civility, or even the more incontrovertible
fact of my existence, the stranger passed on, utterly regardless of me, and
flung himself upon the farther end of the long couch that traversed the sole
apartment of Marheyo's habitation.
Had the belle of the season, in the pride of her beauty and power, been cut in
a place of public resort by some supercilious exquisite, she could not have
felt greater indignation than I did at this unexpected slight.
I was thrown into utter astonishment. The conduct of the savages had prepared
me to anticipate from every newcomer the same extravagant expressions of
curiosity and regard. The singularity of his conduct, however, only roused my
desire to discover who this remarkable personage might be, who now engrossed
the attention of every one.
Tinor placed before him a calabash of poee-poee, from which the stranger
regaled himself, alternating every mouthful with some rapid exclamation, which
was eagerly caught up and echoed by the crowd that completely filled the house.
When I observed the striking devotion of the natives to him, and their
temporary withdrawal of all attention from myself, I felt not a little piqued.
The glory of Tommo is departed, thought I, and the sooner he removes from the
valley the better. These were my feelings at the moment, and they were prompted
by that glorious principle inherent in all heroic natures – the strong-rooted
determination to have the biggest share of the pudding or to go without any of
Marnoo, this all-attractive personage, having satisfied his hunger, and inhaled
a few whiffs from a pipe which was handed to him, launched out into an harangue
which completely enchained the attention of his auditors.
Little as I understood of the language, yet from his animated gestures and the
varying expression of his features – reflected as from so many mirrors in the
countenances around him, I could easily discover the nature of those passions
which he sought to arouse. From the frequent recurrence of the words,
"Nukuheva" and "Franee" (French), and some others with the
meaning of which I was acquainted, he appeared to be rehearsing to his auditors
events which had recently occurred in the neighbouring bays. But how he had
gained the knowledge of these matters, I could not understand, unless it were
that he had just come from Nukuheva, – a supposition which his travel-stained
appearance not a little supported. But, if a native of that region, I could not
account for his friendly reception at the hands of the Typees.
Never, certainly, had I beheld so powerful an exhibition of natural eloquence
as Marnoo displayed during the course of his oration. The grace of the
attitudes into which he threw his flexible figure, the striking gestures of his
naked arms, and above all, the fire which shot from his brilliant eyes,
imparted an effect to the continually-changing accents of his voice, of which
the most accomplished orator might have been proud. At one moment reclining
sideways upon the mat, and leaning calmly upon his bended arm, he related
circumstantially the aggressions of the French – their hostile visits to the
surrounding bays, enumerating each one in succession – Happar, Puerka,
Nukuheva, Tior, – and then starting to his feet, and precipitating himself
forward with clenched hands and a countenance distorted with passion, he poured
out a tide of invectives. Falling back into an attitude of lofty command, he exhorted
the Typees to resist these encroachments; reminding them, with a fierce glance
of exultation, that as yet the terror of their name had preserved them from
attack; and with a scornful sneer, he sketched in ironical terms the wondrous
intrepidity of the French, who, with five war-canoes and hundreds of men, had
not dared to assail the naked warriors of their valley.
The effect he produced upon his audience was electric; one and all they stood
regarding him with sparkling eyes and trembling limbs, as though they were
listening to the inspired voice of a prophet.
But it soon appeared that Marnoo's powers were as versatile as they were
extraordinary. As soon as he had finished his vehement harangue, he threw
himself again upon the mats, and, singling out individuals in the crowd,
addressed them by name, in a sort of bantering style, the humour of which,
though nearly hidden from me, filled the whole assembly with uproarious
He had a word for everybody; and, turning rapidly from one to another, gave utterance
to some hasty witticism, which was sure to be followed by peals of laughter. To
the females, as well as to the men, he addressed his discourse. Heaven only
knows what he said to them, but he caused smiles and blushes to mantle their
ingenuous faces. I am, indeed, very much inclined to believe that Marnoo, with
his handsome person and captivating manners, was a sad deceiver among the
simple maidens of the island.
During all this time, he had never for one moment deigned to regard me. He
appeared, indeed, to be altogether unconscious of my presence. I was utterly at
a loss how to account for this extraordinary conduct. I easily perceived that
he was a man of no little consequence among the islanders; that he possessed
uncommon talents; and was gifted with a higher degree of knowledge than the
inmates gi of the valley. For these reasons, I therefore greatly feared lest,
having, from some cause or other, unfriendly feelings towards me, he might
exert his powerful influence to do me mischief.
It seemed evident that he was not a permanent resident of the vale, and yet,
whence could he have come? On all sides the Typees were girt in by hostile
tribes, and how could he possibly, if belonging to any of these, be received
with so much cordiality?
The personal appearance of the enigmatical stranger suggested additional
perplexities. The face, free from tattooing, and the unshaven crown, were
peculiarities I had never before remarked in any part of the island, and I had
always heard that the contrary were considered the indispensable distinctions
of a Marquesan warrior. Altogether the matter was perfectly incomprehensible to
me, and I awaited its solution with no small degree of anxiety.
At length, from certain indications, I suspected that he was making me the
subject of his remarks, although he appeared cautiously to avoid either
pronouncing my name, or looking in the direction where I lay. All at once he
rose from the mats where he had been reclining, and, still conversing, moved
towards me, his eye purposely evading mine, and seated himself within less than
a yard of me. I had hardly recovered from my surprise, when he suddenly turned
round, and, with a most benignant countenance, extended his right hand
gracefully towards me. Of course I accepted the courteous challenge, and, as
soon as our palms met, he bent towards me, and murmured in musical accents, –
"How you do?" "How long have you been in this bay?"
"You like this bay?"
Had I been pierced simultaneously by three Happar spears, I could not have
started more than I did at hearing these simple questions. For a moment I was
overwhelmed with astonishment, and then answered something I know not what; but
as soon as I regained my self-possession, the thought darted through my mind
that from this individual I might obtain that information regarding Toby which
I suspected the natives had purposely withheld from me. Accordingly, I
questioned him concerning the disappearance of my companion, but he denied all
knowledge of the matter. I then inquired from whence he had come? He replied,
from Nukuheva. When I expressed my surprise, he looked at me for a moment, as
if enjoying my perplexity, and then, with his strange vivacity, exclaimed, –
"Ah! me taboo, – me go Nukuheva, – me go Tior, – me go Typee, me go everywhere,
– nobody harm me, – me taboo."
This explanation would have been altogether unintelligible to me, had it not
recalled to my mind something I had previously heard concerning a singular
custom among these islanders. Though the country is possessed by various
tribes, whose mutual hostilities almost wholly preclude any tri intercourse
between them, yet there are instances where a person having ratified friendly
relations with some individual belonging to the valley, whose inmates are at
war with his own, may, under particular restrictions, venture with impunity
into the country of his friend, where, under other circumstances, he would have
been treated as an enemy. In this light are personal friendships regarded among
them, and the individual so protected is said to be "taboo," and his
person, to a certain extent, is held as sacred. Thus the stranger informed me
he had access to all the valleys in the island.
Curious to know how he had acquired his knowledge of English, I questioned him
on the subject. At first, for some reason or other, he evaded the inquiry, but
afterwards told me that, when a boy, he had been carried to sea by the captain
of a trading vessel, with whom he had stayed three years, living part of the
time with him at Sidney, in Australia, and that, at a subsequent visit to the
island, the captain had, at his own request, permitted him to remain among his
countrymen. The natural quickness of the savage had been wonderfully improved
by his intercourse with the white men, and his partial knowledge of a foreign
language gave him a great ascendancy over his less accomplished countrymen.
When I asked the now affable Marnoo why it was that he had not previously
spoken to me, he eagerly inquired what I had been led to think of him from his
conduct in that respect. I replied, that I had supposed him to be some great
chief or warrior, who had seen plenty of white men before, and did not think it
worth while to notice a poor sailor. At this declaration of the exalted opinion
I had formed of him, he appeared vastly gratified, and gave me to understand
that he had purposely behaved in that manner, in order to increase my
astonishment, as soon as he should see proper to address me.
Marnoo now sought to learn my version of the story as to how I came to be an inmate
of the Typee valley. When I related to him the circumstances under which Toby
and I had entered it, he listened with evident interest; but as soon as I
alluded to the absence, yet unaccounted for, of my comrade, he endeavoured to
change the subject, as if it were something he desired not to agitate. It
seemed, indeed, as if everything connected with Toby was destined to beget
distrust and anxiety in my bosom. Notwithstanding Marnoo's denial of any
knowledge of his fate, I could not avoid suspecting that he was deceiving me;
and this suspicion revived those frightful apprehensions with regard to my own
fate, which, for a short time past, had subsided in my breast.
Influenced by these feelings, I now felt a strong desire to avail myself of the
protection, and under his safeguard to return to Nukuheva. But as soon as I
hinted at this, he unhesitatingly pronounced it to be entirely impracticable;
assuring me that the Typees would never consent to my leaving the valley.
Although what he said merely confirmed the impression which I had before
entertained, still it increased my anxiety to escape from a captivity, which,
however endurable, nay, delightful it might be in some respects, involved in
its issues a fate marked by the most frightful contingencies.
I could not conceal from my mind that Toby had been treated in the same
friendly manner as I had been, and yet all their kindness terminated with his
mysterious disappearance. Might not the same fate await me? – a fate too
dreadful to think of. Stimulated by these considerations, I urged anew my
request to Marnoo; but he only set forth in stronger colours the impossibility
of my escape, and repeated his previous declaration, that the Typees would
never be brought to consent to my departure.
When I endeavoured to learn from him the motives which prompted them to hold me
a prisoner, Marnoo again assumed that mysterious tone which had tormented me
with apprehensions when I had questioned him with regard to the fate of my
Thus repulsed, in a manner which only served, by arousing the most dreadful
forebodings, to excite me to renewed attempts, I conjured him to intercede for
me with the natives, and endeavour to procure their consent to my leaving them.
To this he appeared strongly averse; but, yielding at last to my importunities,
he addressed several of the chiefs, who with the rest had been eyeing us
intently during the whole of our conversation. His petition, however, was at
once met with the most violent disapprobation, manifesting itself in angry glances
and gestures, and a perfect torrent of passionate words, directed to both him
and myself. Marnoo, evidently repenting the step he had taken, earnestly
deprecated the resentment of the crowd, and in a few moments succeeded in
pacifying, to some extent, the clamours which had broken out as soon as his
proposition had been understood.
With the most intense interest had I watched the reception his intercession
might receive; and a bitter pang shot through my heart at the additional
evidence, now furnished, of the unchangeable determination of the islanders.
Marnoo told me, with evident alarm in his countenance, that although admitted
into the bay on a friendly footing with its inhabitants, he could not presume
to meddle with their concerns, as such a procedure, if persisted in, would at
once absolve the Typees from the restraints of the "taboo," although
so long as he refrained from any such conduct, it screened him effectually from
the consequences of the enmity they bore his tribe.
At this moment, Mehevi, who was present, angrily interrupted him; and the words
which he uttered, in a commanding tone, evidently meant that he must at once
cease talking to me, and withdraw to the other part of the house. Marnoo
immediately started up, hurriedly enjoining me not to address him again, and,
as I valued my safety, to refrain from all further allusion to the subject of
my departure; and then, in compliance with the order of the determined chief,
but not before it had again been angrily repeated, he withdrew to a distance.
I now perceived, with no small degree of apprehension, the same savage
expression in the countenances of the natives which had startled me during the
scene at the Ti. They glanced their eyes suspiciously from Marnoo to me, as if
distrusting the nature of an intercourse carried on, as it was, in a language
they could not understand, and they seemed to harbour the belief that already
we had concerted measures calculated to elude their vigilance.
The lively countenances of these people are wonderfully indicative of the
emotions of the soul, and the imperfections of their oral language are more
than compensated for by the nervous eloquence of their looks and gestures. I
could plainly trace, in every varying expression of their faces, all those passions
which had been thus unexpectedly aroused in their bosoms.
It required no reflection to convince me, from what was going on, that the
injunction of Marnoo was not to be rashly slighted; and accordingly, great as
was the effort to suppress my feelings, I accosted Mehevi in a good-humoured
tone, with a view of dissipating any ill impression he might have received. But
the ireful, angry chief was not so easily mollified. He rejected my advances
with that peculiarly stern expression I have before described, and took care by
the whole of his behaviour towards me to show the displeasure and resentment
which he felt.
Marnoo, at the other extremity of the house, apparently desirous of making a
diversion in my favour, exerted himself to amuse with his pleasantries the
crowd about him; but his lively attempts were not so successful as they had
previously been, and, foiled in his efforts, he rose gravely to depart. No one
expressed any regret at this movement, so seizing his roll of tappa, and
grasping his spear, he advanced to the front of the pi-pi, and waving his hand
in adieu to the now silent throng, cast upon me a glance of mingled pity and
reproach, and flung himself into the path which led from the house. I watched
his receding figure until it was lost in the obscurity of the grove, and then
gave myself up to the most desponding reflections.
BATTLE OF THE POP-GUNS
THE knowledge I had now obtained as to the intention of the savages deeply
Marnoo, I perceived, was a man who, by reason of his superior acquirements, and
the knowledge he possessed of the events which were taking place in the
different bays of the island, was held in no little estimation by the
inhabitants of the valley. He had been received with the most cordial welcome
and respect. The natives had hung upon the accents of his voice, and had
manifested the highest gratification at being individually noticed by him. And
yet, despite all this, a few words urged in my behalf, with the intent of
obtaining my release from captivity, had sufficed not only to banish all
harmony and good-will, but, if I could believe what he told me, had gone nigh
to endanger his own personal safety.
How strongly rooted, then, must be the determination of the Typees with regard
to me, and how suddenly could they display the strangest passions! The mere
suggestion of my departure had estranged from me, for the time at least,
Mehevi, who was the most influential of all the chiefs, and who had previously
exhibited so many instances of his friendly sentiments. The rest of the natives
had likewise evinced their strong repugnance to my wishes, and even Kory-Kory
himself seemed to share in the general disapprobation bestowed upon me.
In vain I racked my invention to find out some motive for the strange desire
these people manifested to retain me among them; but I could discover none.
But however this might be, the scene which had just occurred admonished me of
the danger of trifling with the wayward and passionate spirits against whom it
was vain to struggle, and might even be fatal to do so. My only hope was to
induce the natives to believe that I was reconciled to my detention in the
valley, and by assuming a tranquil and cheerful demeanour, to allay the
suspicions which I had so unfortunately aroused. Their confidence revived, they
might in a short time remit in some degree their watchfulness over my
movements, and I should then be the better enabled to avail myself of any
opportunity which presented itself for escape. I determined, therefore, to make
the best of a bad bargain, and to bear up manfully against whatever might
betide. In this endeavour I succeeded beyond my own expectations. At the period
of Marnoo's visit, I had been in the valley, as nearly as I could conjecture,
some two months. Although not completely recovered from my strange illness,
which still lingered about me, I was free from pain and able to take exercise.
In short, I had every reason to anticipate a perfect recovery. Freed from
apprehensions on this point, and resolved to regard the future without
flinching-, I flung myself anew into all the social pleasures of the valley,
and sought to bury all regrets, and all remembrances of my previous existence,
in the wild enjoyments it afforded.
In my various wanderings through the vale, and as I became better acquainted
with the character of its inhabitants, I was more and more struck with the
light-hearted joyousness that everywhere prevailed. The minds of these simple
savages, unoccupied by matters of graver moment, were capable of deriving the
utmost delight from circumstances which would have passed unnoticed in more
intelligent communities. All their enjoyment, indeed, seemed to be made up of
the little trifling incidents of the passing hour; but these diminutive items
swelled altogether to an amount of happiness seldom experienced by more
enlightened individuals, whose pleasures are drawn from more elevated but rarer
What community, for instance, of refined and intellectual mortals would derive
the least satisfaction from shooting pop-guns? The mere supposition of such a
thing being possible would excite their indignation, and yet the whole
population of Typee did little else for ten days but occupy themselves with
that childish amusement, fairly screaming, too, with the delight it afforded
One day I was frolicking with a little spirited urchin, some six years old, who
chased me with a piece of bamboo about three feet long, with which he
occasionally belaboured me. Seizing the stick from him, the idea happened to
suggest itself, that I might make for the youngster, out of the slender tube,
one of those nursery muskets with which I had sometimes seen children playing.
Accordingly, with my knife, I made two parallel slits in the cane several
inches in length, and cutting loose at one end the elastic strip between them,
bent it back and slipped the point into a little notch made for the purpose.
Any small substance placed against this would be projected with considerable
force through the tube, by merely springing the bent strip out of the notch.
Had I possessed the remotest idea of the sensation this piece of ordnance was
destined to produce, I should certainly have taken out a patent for the
invention. The boy scampered away with it, half delirious with ecstasy, and in
twenty minutes afterwards I might have been seen surrounded by a noisy crowd –
venerable old greybeards – responsible fathers of families – valiant warriors –
matrons – young men – girls and children, all holding in their hands bits of
bamboo, and each clamouring to be served first.
For three or four hours I was engaged in manufacturing pop-guns, but at last
made over my good-will and interest in the concern to a lad of remarkably quick
parts, whom I soon initiated into the art and mystery.
Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop, now resounded all over the valley. Duels, skirmishes,
pitched battles, and general engagements were to be seen on every side. Here,
as you walked along a path which led through a thicket, you fell into a
cunningly-laid ambush, and became a target for a body of musketeers, whose
tattooed limbs you could just see peeping into view through the foliage. There,
you were assailed by the intrepid garrison of a house, who levelled their
bamboo rifles at you from between the upright canes which composed its sides.
Farther on, you were fired upon by a detachment of sharpshooters, mounted upon
the top of a pi-pi.
Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop! green guavas, seeds, and berries were flying about in every
direction, and during this dangerous state of affairs, I was half afraid that,
like the man and his brazen bull, I should fall a victim to my own ingenuity.
Like everything else, however, the excitement gradually wore away, though ever
after occasionally pop-guns might be heard at all hours of the day.
It was towards the close of the pop-gun war, that I was infinitely diverted
with a strange freak of Marheyo's.
I had worn, when I quitted the ship, a pair of thick pumps, which, from the
rough usage they had received in scaling precipices and sliding down gorges,
were so dilapidated as to be altogether unfit for use – so, at least, would
have thought the generality of people, and so they most certainly were, when
considered in the light of shoes. But things unserviceable in one way, may with
advantage be applied in another – that is, if one have genius enough for the
purpose. This genius Marheyo possessed in a superlative degree, as he
abundantly evinced by the use to which he put these sorely bruised and battered
Every article, however trivial, which belonged to me, the natives appeared to
regard as sacred; and I observed that for several days after becoming an inmate
of the house, my pumps were suffered to remain, untouched, where I had first
happened to throw them. I remembered, however, that after awhile I had missed
them from their accustomed place; but the matter gave me no concern, supposing
that Tinor – like any other tidy housewife, having come across them in some of
her domestic occupations – had pitched the useless things out of the house. But
I was soon undeceived.
One day I observed old Marheyo bustling about me with unusual activity, and to
such a degree as almost to supersede Kory-Kory in the functions of his office.
One moment he volunteered to trot off with me on his back to the stream; and
when I refused, noways daunted by the repulse, he continued to frisk about me
like a superannuated house-dog. I could not for the life of me conjecture what
possessed the old gentleman, until all at once, availing himself of the
temporary absence of the household, he went through a variety of uncouth
gestures, pointing eagerly down to my feet, and then up to a little bundle
which swung from the ridge-pole overhead. At last I caught a faint idea of his
meaning, and motioned him to lower the package. He executed the order in the
twinkling of an eye, and unrolling a piece of tappa, displayed to my astonished
gaze the identical pumps which I thought had been destroyed long before.
I immediately comprehended his desire, and very generously gave him the shoes,
which had become quite mouldy, wondering for what earthly purpose he could want
The same afternoon I descried the venerable warrior approaching the house, with
a slow, stately gait, ear-rings in ears, and spear in hand, with this highly
ornamental pair of shoes suspended from his neck by a strip of bark, and
swinging backwards and forwards on his capacious chest. In the gala costume of
the tasteful Marheyo, these calf-skin pendants ever after formed the most
But to turn to something a little more important. Although the whole existence
of the inhabitants of the valley seemed to pass away exempt from toil, yet
there were some light employments which, although amusing rather than laborious
as occupations, contributed to their comfort and luxury. Among these, the most
important was the manufacture of the native cloth – "tappa" – so well
known, under various modifications, throughout the whole Polynesian
Archipelago. As is generally understood, this useful and sometimes elegant
article is fabricated from the bark of different trees. But, as I believe that
no description of its manufacture has ever been given, I shall state what I
know regarding it.
In the manufacture of the beautiful white tappa generally worn on the Marquesan
Islands, the preliminary operation consists in gathering a certain quantity of
the young branches of the cloth-tree. The exterior green bark being pulled off
as worthless, there remains a slender fibrous substance, which is carefully
stripped from the stick, to which it closely adheres. When a sufficient
quantity of it has been collected, the various strips are enveloped in a
covering of large leaves, which the natives use precisely as we do
wrapping-paper, and which are secured by a few turns of a line passed round
them. The package is then laid in the bed of some running stream, with a heavy
stone placed over it, to prevent its being swept away. After it has remained
for two or three days in this state, it is drawn out, and exposed for a short
time to the action of the air, every distinct piece being attentively
inspected, with a view of ascertaining whether it has yet been sufficiently
affected by the operation. This is repeated again and again, until the desired
result is obtained.
When the substance is in a proper state for the next process, it betrays
evidences of incipient decomposition; the fibres are relaxed and softened, and
rendered perfectly malleable. The different strips are now extended, one by
one, in successive layers, upon some smooth surface – generally the prostrate
trunk of a cocoa-nut tree – and the heap thus formed is subjected, at every new
increase, to a moderate beating, with a sort of wooden mallet, leisurely
applied. The mallet is made of a hard heavy wood resembling ebony, is about
twelve inches in length, and perhaps two in breadth, with a rounded handle at
one end, and in shape is the exact counterpart of one of our four-sided
razor-strops. The flat surfaces of the implement are marked with shallow
parallel indentations, varying in depth on the different sides, so as to be
adapted to the several stages of the operation. These marks produce the
corduroy sort of stripes discernible in the tappa in its finished state. After
being beaten in the manner I have described, the material soon becomes blended
in one mass, which, moistened occasionally with water, is at intervals hammered
out, by a kind of gold-beating process, to any degree of thinness required. In
this way the cloth is easily made to vary in strength and thickness, so as to
suit the numerous purposes to which it is applied.
When the operation last described has been concluded, the new-made tappa is
spread out on the grass to bleach and dry, and soon becomes of a dazzling
whiteness. Sometimes, in the first stages of the manufacture, the substance is impregnated
with a vegetable juice, which gives it a permanent colour. A rich brown and a
bright yellow are occasionally seen, but the simple taste of the Typee people
inclines them to prefer the natural tint.
The notable wife of Kammahammaha, the renowned conqueror and king of the
Sandwich Islands, used to pride herself in the skill she displayed in dyeing
her tappa with contrasting colours disposed in regular figures; and, in the
midst of the innovations of the times, was regarded, towards the decline of her
life, as a lady of the old school, clinging as she did to the national cloth,
in preference to the frippery of the European calicoes. But the art of printing
the tappa is unknown upon the Marquesan Islands.
In passing along the valley, I was often attracted by the noise of the mallet,
which, when employed in the manufacture of the cloth, produces at every stroke
of its hard, heavy wood, a clear, ringing, and musical sound, capable of being
heard at a great distance. When several of these implements happen to be in
operation at the same time, and near one another, the effect upon the ear of a
person, at a little distance, is really charming.
A DAY IN THE VALLEY
NOTHING can be more uniform and undiversified than the life of the Typees; one
tranquil day of ease and happiness follows another in quiet succession; and
with these unsophisticated savages the history of a day is the history of a
life. I will, therefore, as briefly as I can, describe one of our days in the
To begin with the morning. We were not very early risers – the sun would be
shooting his golden spikes above the Happar mountain, ere I threw aside my
tappa robe, and girding my long tunic about my waist, sallied out with Fayaway
and Kory-Kory, and the rest of the household, and bent my steps towards the
stream. Here we found congregated all those who dwelt in our section of the
valley; and here we bathed with them. The fresh morning air and the cool
flowing waters put both soul and body in a glow, and after a half-hour employed
in this recreation, we sauntered back to the house – Tinor and Marheyo
gathering dry sticks by the way for firewood; some of the young men laying the
cocoa-nut trees under contribution as they passed beneath them; while Kory-Kory
played his outlandish pranks for my particular diversion, and Fayaway and I,
not arm in arm to be sure, but sometimes hand in hand, strolled along, with
feelings of perfect charity for all the world, and especial good-will towards
Our morning meal was soon prepared. The islanders are somewhat abstemious at
this repast; reserving the more powerful efforts of their appetite to a later
period of the day. For my own part, with the assistance of my valet, who, as I
have before stated, always officiated as spoon on these occasions, I ate
sparingly from one of Tinor's trenchers of poee-poee; which was devoted
exclusively for my own use, being mixed with the milky meat of ripe cocoa-nut.
A section of a roasted bread-fruit, a small cake of "Amar," or a mess
of "Kokoo," two or three bananas, or a mammee apple; an annuee, or
some other agreeable and nutritious fruit, served from day to day to diversify
the meal, which was finished by tossing off the liquid contents of a young
cocoa-nut or two.
While partaking of this simple repast, the inmates of Marheyo's house, after
the style of the ancient Romans, reclined in sociable groups upon the divan of
mats, and digestion was promoted by cheerful conversation.
After the morning meal was concluded, pipes were lighted; and among them my own
especial pipe, a present from the noble Mehevi. The islanders, who only smoke a
whiff or two at a time, and at long intervals, and who keep their pipes going
from hand to hand continually, regarded my systematic smoking of four or five
pipefuls of tobacco in succession as something quite wonderful. When two or
three pipes had circulated freely, the company gradually broke up. Marheyo went
to the little hut he was for ever building. Tinor began to inspect her rolls of
tappa, or employed her busy fingers in plaiting grass-mats. The girls anointed
themselves with their fragrant oils, dressed their hair, or looked over their
curious finery, and compared together their ivory trinkets, fashioned out of
boar's tusks or whale's teeth. The young men and warriors produced their
spears, paddles, canoe-gear, battle-clubs, and war-conchs, and occupied
themselves in carving all sorts of figures upon them with pointed bits of shell
or flint, and adorning them, especially the war-conchs, with tassels of braided
bark and tufts of human hair. Some, immediately after eating, threw themselves
once more upon the inviting mats, and resumed the employment of the previous
night, sleeping as soundly as they had not closed their eyes for a week. Others
sallied as I out into the groves, for the purpose of gathering fruit or fibres
of bark and leaves; the last two being in constant requisition, and applied to
a hundred uses. A few, perhaps, among the girls, would slip into the woods
after flowers, or repair to the stream with small calabashes and cocoa-nut
shells, in order to polish them by friction with a smooth stone in the water.
In truth these innocent people seemed to be at no loss for something to occupy
their time; and it would be no light task to enumerate all their employments,
or rather pleasures.
My own mornings I spent in a variety of ways. Sometimes I rambled about from
house to house, sure of receiving a cordial welcome wherever I went; or, from
grove to grove, and from one shady place to another, in company with Kory-Kory
and Fayaway, and a rabble rout of merry young idlers. Sometimes I was too
indolent for exercise, and, accepting one of the many invitations I was
continually receiving, stretched myself out on the mats of some hospitable
dwelling, and occupied myself pleasantly either in watching the proceedings of
those around me, or taking part in them myself. Whenever I chose to do the
latter, the delight of the islanders was boundless; and there was always a
throng of competitors for the honour of instructing me in any particular craft.
I soon became quite an accomplished hand at making tappa – could braid a grass
sling as well as the best of them – and once, with my knife, carved the handle
of a javelin so exquisitely, that I have no doubt, to this day, Karnoonoo, its
owner, preserves it as a surprising specimen of my skill. As noon approached,
all those who had wandered forth from our habitation began to return; and when
midday was fairly come, scarcely a sound was to be heard in the valley – a deep
sleep fell upon all. The luxurious siesta was hardly ever omitted, except by
old Marheyo, who was so eccentric a character, that he seemed to be governed by
no fixed principles whatever; but acting just according to the humour of the
moment, slept, eat, or tinkered away at his little hut, without regard to the
proprieties of time or place. Frequently he might have been seen taking a nap
in the sun at noonday, or a bath in the stream at midnight. Once I beheld him
perched eighty feet from the ground, in the tuft of a cocoa-nut tree, smoking;
and often I saw him standing up to the waist in water, engaged in plucking out
the stray hairs of his beard, using a piece of muscle-shell for tweezers.
The noontide slumber lasted generally an hour and a half, very often longer;
and after the sleepers had arisen from their mats they again had recourse to
their pipes, and then made preparations for the most important meal of the day.
I, however, like those gentlemen of leisure who breakfast at home and dine at
their club, almost invariably, during my intervals of health, enjoyed the
afternoon repast with the bachelor chiefs of the Ti, who were always rejoiced
to see me, and lavishly spread before me all the good things which their larder
afforded. Mehevi generally produced, among other dainties, a baked pig, an
article which, I have every reason to suppose, was provided for my sole
The Ti was a right jovial place. It did my heart, as well as my body, good to
visit it. Secure from female intrusion, there was no restraint upon the
hilarity of the warriors, who, like the gentlemen of Europe after the cloth is
drawn, and the ladies retire, freely indulged their mirth.
After spending a considerable portion of the afternoon at the Ti, I usually
found myself, as the cool of the evening came on, either sailing on the little
lake with Fayaway, or bathing in the waters of the stream with a number of the
savages, who, at this hour, always repaired thither. As the shadows of night
approached, Marheyo's household were once more assembled under his roof; tapers
were lit, long and curious chants were raised, interminable stories were told
(for which one present was little the wiser), and all sorts of social
festivities served to while away the time.The young girls very often danced by moonlight in front of their
dwellings. There are a great variety of these dances, in which, however, I
never saw the men take part. They all consist of active, romping, mischievous
evolutions, in which every limb is brought into requisition. Indeed, the Marquesan
girls dance all over, as it were; not only do their feet dance, but their arms,
hands, fingers, ay, their very eyes seem to dance in their heads.
The damsels wear nothing but flowers and their compendious gala tunics; and
when they plume themselves for the dance, one would almost think that they were
about to take wing.
Unless some particular festivity was going forward, the inmates of Marheyo's
house retired to their mats rather early in the evening; but not for the night,
since, after slumbering lightly for awhile, they rose again, relit their
tapers, partook of the third and last meal of the day, at which poee-poee alone
was eaten, and then, after inhaling a narcotic whiff from a pipe of tobacco,
disposed themselves for the great business of the night-sleep. With the
Marquesans it might almost be styled the great business of life, for they pass
a large portion of their time in the arms of Somnus. The native strength of
their constitution is no way shown more emphatically than in the quantity of
sleep they can endure. To many of them, indeed, life is little else than an
often interrupted and luxurious nap.
ALMOST every country has its medicinal springs famed for their healing virtues.
The Cheltenham of Typee is embosomed in the deepest solitude, and but seldom
receives a visitor. It is situated remote from any dwelling, a little way up
the mountain, near the head of the valley; and you approach it by a pathway
shaded by the most beautiful foliage, and adorned with a thousand fragrant
The mineral waters of Arva Wai* oozed forth from the crevices of a rock, and
gliding down its mossy side, fall at last, in many clustering drops, into a
natural basin of stone, fringed round with grass and dewy-looking little
violet-coloured flowers, as fresh and beautiful as the perpetual moisture they
enjoy can make them.
* I presume this might be translated into "Strong Waters." Arva is
the name bestowed upon a root, the properties of which are both inebriating and
medicinal. "Wai" is the Marquesan word for water.
The water is held in high estimation by the islanders, some of whom consider it
an agreeable as well as a medicinal beverage; they bring it from the mountain
in their calabashes, and store it away beneath heaps of leaves in some shady
nook near the house. Old Marheyo had a great love for the waters of the spring.
Every now and then he lugged off to the mountain a great round demijohn of a
calabash, and, panting with his exertions, brought it back filled with his darling
The water tasted like a solution of a dozen disagreeable things, and was
sufficiently nauseous to have made the fortune of the proprietor, had the spa
been situated in the midst of any civilized community.
As I am no chemist, I cannot give a scientific analysis of the water. All I
know about the matter is, that one day Marheyo in my presence poured out the
last drop from his huge calabash, and I observed at the bottom of the vessel a
small quantity of gravelly sediment very much resembling our common sand.
Whether this is always found in the water, and gives it its peculiar flavour
and virtues, or whether its presence was merely incidental, I was not able to
One day in returning from this spring by a circuitous path, I came upon a scene
which reminded me of Stonehenge and the architectural labours of the Druid.
At the base of one of the mountains, and surrounded on all sides by dense
groves, a series of vast terraces of stone rises, step by step, for a
considerable distance up the hillside. These terraces cannot be less than one
hundred yards in length and twenty in width. Their magnitude, however, is less
striking than the immense size of the blocks composing them. Some of the
stones, of an oblong shape, are from ten to fifteen feet in length, and five or
six feet thick. Their sides are quite smooth, but though square, and of pretty
regular formation, they bear no mark of the chisel. They are laid together
without cement, and here and there show gaps between. The topmost terrace and
the lower one are somewhat peculiar in their construction. They have both a
quadrangular depression in the centre, leaving the rest of the terrace elevated
several feet above it. In the intervals of the stones immense trees have taken
root, and their broad boughs stretching far over, and interlacing together,
support a canopy almost impenetrable to the sun. Overgrowing the greater part
of them, and climbing from one to another, is a wilderness of vines, in whose
sinewy embrace many of the stones lie half-hidden, while in some places a thick
growth of bushes entirely covers them. There is a wild pathway which obliquely
crosses two of these terraces; and so profound is the shade, so dense the
vegetation, that a stranger to the place might pass along it without being
aware of their existence.
These structures bear every indication of a very high antiquity, and Kory-Kory,
who was my authority in all matters of scientific research, gave me to
understand that they were coeval with the creation of the world; that the great
gods themselves were the builders; and that they would endure until time shall
be no more. Kory-Kory's prompt explanation, and his attributing the work to a
divine origin, at once convinced me that neither he nor the rest of his
countrymen knew anything about them.
As I gazed upon this monument, doubtless the work of an extinct and forgotten
race, thus buried in the green nook of an island at the end of the earth, the
existence of which was yesterday unknown, a stronger feeling of awe came over me
than if I had stood musing at the mighty base of the Pyramid of Cheops. There
are no inscriptions, no sculpture, no clue, by which to conjecture its history:
nothing but the dumb stones. How many generations of those majestic trees which
overshadowed them have grown and flourished and decayed since first they were
These remains naturally suggest many interesting reflections. They establish
the great age of the island, an opinion which the builders of theories
concerning the creation of the various groups in the South Seas are not always
inclined to admit. For my own part, I think it just as probable that human
beings were living in the valleys of the Marquesas three thousand years ago as
that they were inhabiting the land of Egypt. The origin of the island of
Nukuheva cannot be imputed to the coral insect: for indefatigable as that
wonderful creature is, it would be hardly muscular enough to pile rocks one
upon the other more than three thousand feet above the level of the sea. That
the land may have been thrown up by a submarine volcano is as possible as
anything else. No one can make an affidavit to the contrary, and therefore I
will say nothing against the supposition: indeed, were geologists to assert
that the whole continent of America had in like manner been formed by the
simultaneous explosion of a train of Etnas, laid under the water all the way
from the North Pole to the parallel of Cape Horn, I am the last man in the
world to contradict them.
I have already mentioned that the dwellings of the islanders were almost
invariably built upon massive stone foundations, which they call pi-pis. The
dimensions of these, however, as well as of the stones composing them, are
comparatively small: but there are other and larger erections of a similar
description comprising the "morals," or burying-grounds, and
festival-places, in nearly all the valleys of the island. Some of these piles
are so extensive, and so great a degree of labour and skill must have been
requisite in constructing them, that I can scarcely believe they were built by
the ancestors of the present inhabitants. If indeed they were, the race has
sadly deteriorated in their knowledge of the mechanic arts. To say nothing of
their habitual indolence, by what contrivance within the reach of so simple a
people could such enormous masses have been moved or fixed in their places? and
how could they with their rude implements have chiselled and hammered them into
All of these larger pi-pis – like that of the Hoolah Hoolah ground in the Typee
valley – bore incontestable marks of great age; and I am disposed to believe
that their erection may be ascribed to the same race of men who were the
builders of the still more ancient remains I have just described.
According to Kory-Kory's account, the pi-pi, upon which stands the Hoolah
Hoolah was built a great many moons ago, under the direction of Monoo, a great
chief and warrior, and, as it would appear, master-mason among the Typees. It
was erected for the express purpose to which it is at present devoted, in the
incredibly short period of one sun; and was dedicated to the immortal wooden
idols by a grand festival, which lasted ten days and nights.
Among the smaller pi-pis, upon which stand the dwelling-houses of the natives,
I never observed any which intimated a recent erection. There are in every part
of the valley a great many of these massive stone foundations which have no
houses upon them. This is vastly convenient, for whenever an enterprising
islander chooses to emigrate a few hundred yards from the place where he was
born, all he has to do in order to establish himself in some new locality, is
to select one of the many unappropriated pi-pis, and without further ceremony
pitch his bamboo tent upon it.
PREPARATIONS FOR A FEAST
FROM the time that my lameness had decreased I had made a daily practice of
visiting Mehevi at the Ti, who invariably gave me a most cordial reception. I
was always accompanied in these excursions by Fayaway and the ever-present
Kory-Kory. The former, as soon as we reached the vicinity of the Ti – which was
rigorously tabooed to the whole female sex – withdrew to a neighbouring hut, as
if her feminine delicacy restrained her from approaching a habitation which
might be regarded as a sort of Bachelor's Hall.
And in good truth it might well have been so considered. Although it was the
permanent residence of several distinguished chiefs, and of the noble Mehevi in
particular, it was still at certain seasons the favourite haunt of all the
jolly, talkative, and elderly savages of the vale, who resorted thither in the
same way that similar characters frequent a tavern in civilized countries.
There they would remain hour after hour, chatting, smoking, eating poee-poee,
or busily engaged in sleeping for the good of their constitutions.
This building appeared to be the headquarters of the valley, where all flying
rumours concentrated; and to have seen it filled with a crowd of the natives,
all males, conversing in animated clusters, while multitudes were continually
coming and going, one would have thought it a kind of savage exchange, where
the rise and fall of Polynesian Stock was discussed.
Mehevi acted as supreme lord over the place, spending the greater portion of
his time there: and often when, at particular hours of the day, it was deserted
by nearly every one else except the verd-antique looking centenarians, who were
fixtures in the building, the chief himself was sure to be found enjoying his
"otium cum dignitate" upon the luxurious mats which covered the
floor. Whenever I made my appearance he invariably rose, and, like a gentleman
doing the honours of his mansion, invited me to repose myself wherever I
pleased, and calling out "tammaree!" (boy), a little fellow would
appear, and then retiring for an instant, return with some savoury mess, from
which the chief would press me to regale myself. To tell the truth, Mehevi was
indebted to the excellence of his viands for the honour of my repeated visits,
– a matter which cannot appear singular, when it is borne in mind that
bachelors, all the world over, are famous for serving up unexceptional repasts.
One day, on drawing near to the Ti, I observed that extensive preparations were
going forward, plainly betokening some approaching festival. Some of the
symptoms reminded me of the stir produced among the scullions of a large hotel,
where a grand jubilee dinner is about to be given. The natives were hurrying
about hither and thither, engaged in various duties; some lugging off to the
stream enormous hollow bamboos, for the purpose of filling them with water;
others chasing furious-looking hogs through the bushes, in their endeavours to
capture them; and numbers employed in kneading great mountains of poee-poee
heaped up in huge wooden vessels.
After observing these lively indications for awhile, I was attracted to a
neighbouring grove by a prodigious squeaking which I heard there. On reaching
the spot I found it proceeded from a large hog which a number of natives were
forcibly holding to the earth, while a muscular fellow, armed with a bludgeon,
was ineffectually aiming murderous blows at the skull of the unfortunate
porker. Again and again he missed his writhing and struggling victim, but
though puffing and panting with his exertions, he still continued them; and
after striking a sufficient number of blows to have demolished an entire drove
of oxen, with one crashing stroke he laid him dead at his feet.
Without letting any blood from the body, it was immediately carried to a fire
which had been kindled near at hand, and four savages taking hold of the
carcass by its legs, passed it rapidly to and fro in the flames. In a moment
the smell of burning bristles betrayed the object of this procedure. Having got
thus far in the matter, the body was removed to a little distance; and, being
disembowelled, the entrails were laid aside as choice parts, and the whole
carcass thoroughly washed with water. An ample thick green cloth, composed of
the long thick leaves of a species of palm tree, ingeniously tacked together
with little pins of bamboo, was now was now spread upon the ground, in which
the body being carefully rolled, it was borne to an oven previously prepared to
receive it. Here it was at once laid upon the heated stones at the bottom, and
covered with thick layers of leaves, the whole being quickly hidden from sight
by a mound of earth raised over it.
Such is the summary style in which the Typees convert perverse-minded and
rebellious hogs into the most docile and amiable pork; a morsel of which placed
on the tongue melts like a soft smile from the lips of beauty.
I commend their peculiar mode of proceeding to the consideration of all
butchers, cooks, and housewives. The hapless porker whose fate I have just
rehearsed, was not the only one who suffered on that memorable day. Many a
dismal grunt, many an imploring squeak, proclaimed what was going on throughout
the whole extent of the valley: and I verily believe the first-born of every
litter perished before the setting of that fatal sun.
The scene around the Ti was now most animated. Hogs and poee-poee were baking
in numerous ovens, which, heaped up with fresh earth into slight elevations,
looked like so many ant-hills. Scores of the savages were vigorously plying
their stone pestles in preparing masses of poee-poee, and numbers were
gathering green bread-fruit and young cocoa-nuts in the surrounding groves;
while an exceeding great multitude, with a view of encouraging the rest in
their labours, stood still, and kept shouting most lustily without
It is a peculiarity among these people, that when engaged in any employment
they always make a prodigious fuss about it. So seldom do they ever exert
themselves, that when they do work they seem determined that so meritorious an
action shall not escape the observation of those around. If, for example, they
have occasion to remove a stone to a little distance, which perhaps might be
carried by two ablebodied men, a whole swarm gather about it, and, after a vast
deal of palavering, lift it up among them, every one struggling to get hold of
it, and bear it off yelling and panting as if accomplishing some mighty
achievement. Seeing them on these occasions, one is reminded of an infinity of
black ants clustering about and dragging away to some hole the leg of a deceased
Having for some time attentively observed these demonstrations of good cheer, I
entered the Ti, where Mehevi sat complacently looking out upon the busy scene,
and occasionally issuing his orders. The chief appeared to be in an
extraordinary flow of spirits, and gave me to understand that on the morrow
there would be grand doings in the groves generally, and at the Ti in
particular; and urged me by no means to absent myself. In commemoration of what
event, however, or in honour of what distinguished personage, the feast was to
be given, altogether passed my comprehension. Mehevi sought to enlighten my
ignorance, but he failed as signally as when he had endeavoured to initiate me
into the perplexing arcana of the taboo.
On leaving the Ti, Kory-Kory, who had, as a matter of course, accompanied me,
observing that my curiosity remained unabated, resolved to make everything
plain and satisfactory. With this intent, he escorted me through the Taboo
Groves, pointing out to my notice a variety of objects, and endeavoured to
explain them in such an indescribable jargon of words, that it almost put me in
bodily pain to listen to him. In particular, he led me to a remarkable
pyramidical structure some three yards square at the base, and perhaps ten feet
in height, which had lately been thrown up, and occupied a very conspicuous
position. It was composed principally of large empty calabashes, with a few
polished cocoa-nut shells, and looked not unlike a cenotaph of skulls. My
cicerone perceived the astonishment with which I gazed at this monument of
savage crockery, and immediately addressed himself to the task of enlightening
me: but all in vain; and to this hour the nature of the monument remains a
complete mystery to me. As, however, it formed so prominent a feature in the
approaching revels, I bestowed upon the latter, in my own mind, the title of
the "Feast of Calabashes."
The following morning, awaking rather late, I perceived the whole of Marheyo's
family busily engaged in preparing for the festival. The old warrior himself
was arranging in round balls the two grey locks of hair that were suffered to
grow from the crown of his head; his earrings and spear, both well polished,
lay beside him, while the highly decorative pair of shoes hung suspended from a
projecting cane against the side of the house. The young men were similarly
employed; and the fair damsels, including Fayaway, were anointing themselves
with "aka," arranging their long tresses, and performing other
matters connected with the duties of the toilet.
Having completed their preparations, the girls now exhibited themselves in gala
costume; the most conspicuous feature of which was a necklace of beautiful
white flowers, with the stems removed, and strung closely together upon a
single fibre of tappa. Corresponding ornaments were inserted in their ears, and
woven garlands upon their heads. About their waist they wore a short tunic of
spotless white tappa, and some of them superadded to this a mantle of the same
material, tied in an elaborate bow upon the left shoulder, and falling about
the figure in picturesque folds.
Thus arrayed, I would have matched the charming Fayaway against any beauty in
People may say what they will about the taste evinced by our fashionable ladies
in dress. Their jewels, their feathers, their silks, and their furbelows would
have sunk into utter insignificance beside the exquisite simplicity of attire
adopted by the nymphs of the vale on this festive occasion. I should like to
have seen a gallery of coronation beauties, at Westminster Abbey, confronted
for a moment by this band of Island girls; their stiffness, formality, and
affectation contrasted with the artless vivacity and unconcealed natural graces
of these savage maidens. It would be the Venus de' Medici placed beside a
It was not long before Kory-Kory and myself were left alone in the house, the
rest of its inmates having departed for the Taboo Groves. My valet was all
impatience to follow them; and was as fidgety about my dilatory movements as a
diner out waiting hat in hand at the bottom of the stairs for some lagging
companion. At last, yielding to his importunities, I set out for the Ti. As we
passed the houses peeping out from the groves through which our route lay, I
noticed that they were entirely deserted by their inhabitants.
When we reached the rock that abruptly terminated the path, and concealed from
us the festive scene, wild shouts and a confused blending of voices assured me
that the occasion, whatever it might be, had drawn together a great multitude.
Kory-Kory, previous to mounting the elevation, paused for a moment, like a
dandy at a ball-room door, to put a hasty finish to his toilet. During this
short interval, the thought struck me that I ought myself perhaps to be taking
some little pains with my appearance. But as I had no holiday raiment, I was
not a little puzzled to devise some means of decorating myself. However, as I
felt desirous to create a sensation, I determined to do all that lay in my
power; and knowing that I could not delight the savages more than by conforming
to their style of dress, I removed from my person the large robe of tappa which
I was accustomed to wear over my shoulders whenever I sallied into the open
air, and remained merely girt about with a short tunic descending from my waist
to my knees.
My quick-witted attendant fully appreciated the compliment I was paying to the
costume of his race, and began more sedulously to arrange the folds of the one
only garment which remained to me. Whilst he was doing this, I caught sight of
a knot of young girls, who were sitting near us on the grass surrounded by
heaps of flowers, which they were forming into garlands. I motioned to them to
bring some of their handy-work to me; and in an instant a dozen wreaths were at
my disposal. One of them I put round the apology for a hat which I had been
forced to construct for myself out of palmetto-leaves, and some of the others I
converted into a splendid girdle. These operations finished, with a slow and
dignified step of a full-dressed beau ascended the rock.
THE FEAST OF CALABASHES
THE whole population of the valley seemed to be gathered within the precincts
of the grove. In the distance could be seen the long front of the Ti, its
immense piazza swarming with men, arrayed in every variety of fantastic
costume, and all vociferating with animated gestures; while the whole interval
between it and the place where I stood was enlivened by groups of females
fancifully decorated, dancing, capering, and uttering wild exclamations. As
soon as they descried me they set up a shout of welcome; and a band of them
came dancing towards me, chanting as they approached some wild recitative. The
change in my garb seemed to transport them with delight, and clustering about
me on all sides, they accompanied me towards the Ti. When, however, we drew
near it, these joyous nymphs paused in their career, and parting on either
side, permitted me to pass on to the now densely thronged building.
So soon as I mounted to the pi-pi I saw at a glance that the revels were fairly
What lavish plenty reigned around! – Warwick feasting his retainers with beef
and ale, was a niggard to the noble Mehevi! – All along the piazza of the Ti
were arranged elaborately-carved canoe-shaped vessels, some twenty feet in
length, filled with newly-made poee-poee, and sheltered from the sun by the
broad leaves of the banana. At intervals were heaps of green bread-fruit,
raised in pyramidical stacks, resembling the regular piles of heavy shot to be
seen in the yard of an arsenal. Inserted into the interstices of the huge
stones which formed the pi-pi were large boughs of trees; hanging from the
branches of which, and screened from the sun by their foliage, were innumerable
little packages with leafy coverings, containing the meat of the numerous hogs
which had been slain, done up in this manner to make it more accessible to the
crowd. Leaning against the railing of the piazza were an immense number of
long, heavy bamboos, plugged at the lower end, and with their projecting
muzzles stuffed with a wad of leaves. These were filled with water from the
stream, and each of them might hold from four to five gallons.
The banquet being thus spread, nought remained but for every one to help
himself at his pleasure. Accordingly, not a moment passed but the transplanted
boughs I have mentioned were rifled by the throng of the fruit they certainly
had never borne before. Calabashes of poee-poee were continually being
replenished from the extensive receptacle in which that article was stored, and
multitudes of little fires were kindled about the Ti for the purpose of
roasting the bread-fruit.
Within the building itself was presented a most extraordinary scene. The
immense lounge of mats lying between the parallel rows of the trunks of
cocoa-nut trees, and extending the entire length of the house at least two
hundred feet, was covered by the reclining forms of a host of chiefs and
warriors, who were eating at a great rate, or soothing the cares of Polynesian
life in the sedative fumes of tobacco. The smoke was inhaled from large pipes,
the bowls of which, made out of small cocoa-nut shells, were curiously carved
in strange heathenish devices. These were passed from mouth to mouth by the
recumbent smokers, each of whom, taking two or three prodigious whiffs, handed
the pipe to his neighbour; sometimes for that purpose stretching indolently
across the body of some dozing individual whose exertions at the dinner-table
had already induced sleep.
The tobacco used among the Typees was of a very mild and pleasing flavour, and
as I always saw it in leaves, and the natives appeared pretty well supplied
with it, I was led to believe that it must have been the growth of the valley.
Indeed Kory-Kory gave me to understand that this was the case; but I never saw
a single plant growing on the island. At Nukuheva, and, I believe, in all the
other valleys, the weed is very scarce, being only obtained in small quantities
from foreigners, and smoking is consequently with the inhabitants of these
places a very great luxury. How it was that the Typees were so well furnished
with it I cannot divine. I should think them too indolent to devote any
attention to its culture; and, indeed, as far as my observation extended, not a
single atom of the soil was under any other cultivation than that of shower and
sunshine. The tabacco and sunshine. The tabacco-plant, however, like the
sugar-cane, may grow wild in some remote part of the vale.
There were many in the Ti for whom the tobacco did not furnish a sufficient
stimulus, and who accordingly had recourse to "arva," as a more
powerful agent in producing the desired effect.
"Arva" is a root very generally dispersed over the South Seas, and
from it is extracted a juice, the effects of which upon the system are at first
stimulating in a moderate degree; but it soon relaxes the muscles, and,
exerting a narcotic influence, produces a luxurious sleep. In the valley this
beverage was universally prepared in the following way: – Some half-dozen young
boys seated themselves in a circle around an empty wooden vessel, each one of
them being supplied with a certain quantity of the roots of the
"arva," broken into small bits and laid by his side. A coco-nut
goblet of water was passed around the juvenile company, who rinsing their
mouths with its contents, proceeded to the business before them. This merely
consisted in thoroughly masticating the "arva," and throwing it
mouthful after mouthful into the receptacle provided. When a sufficient
quantity had been thus obtained, water was poured upon the mass, and being
stirred about with the forefinger of the right hand, the preparation was soon
in readiness for use. The "arva" has medicinal qualities.
Upon the Sandwich Islands it has been employed with no small success in the
treatment of scrofulous affections, and in combating the ravages of a disease
which for so many years has been gradually depopulating those fine and
interesting islands. But the tenants of the Typee valley, as yet exempt from
these inflictions, generally employ the "arva" as a minister to
social enjoyment, and a calabash of the liquid circulates among them as the
bottle with us.
Mehevi, who was greatly delighted with the change in my costume, gave me a
cordial welcome. He had reserved for me a most delectable mess of
"cockoo," well knowing my partiality for that dish; and had likewise
selected three or four young cocoa-nuts, several roasted bread-fruit, and a
magnificent bunch of bananas, for my especial comfort and gratification. These
various matters were at once placed before me; but Kory-Kory deemed the banquet
entirely insufficient for my wants until he had supplied me with one of the
leafy packages of pork, which, notwithstanding the somewhat hasty manner in
which it had been prepared, possessed a most excellent flavour, and was
surprisingly sweet and tender.
Pork is not a staple article of food among the people of the Marquesas,
consequently they pay little attention to the breeding of the swine. The hogs
are permitted to roam at large in the groves, where they obtain no small
portion of their nourishment from the cocoa-nuts which continually fall from
the trees. But it is only after infinite labour and difficulty, that the hungry
animal can pierce the husk and shell so as to get at the meat. I have
frequently been amused at seeing one of them, after crunching the obstinate nut
with his teeth for a long time unsuccessfully, get into a violent passion with
it. He would then root furiously under the cocoa-nut, and, with a fling of his
snout, toss it before him on the ground. Following it up, he would crunch at it
again savagely for a moment, and the next knock it on one side, pausing
immediately after, as if wondering how it could so suddenly have disappeared.
In this way the persecuted cocoa-nuts were often chased half across the valley.
The second day of the Feast of Calabashes was ushered in by still more
uproarious noises than the first. The skins of innumerable sheep seemed to be
resounding to the blows of an army of drummers. Startled from my slumbers by
the din, I leaped up, and found the whole household engaged in making
preparations for immediate departure. Curious to discover of what strange
events these novel sounds might be the precursors, and not a little desirous to
catch a sight of the instruments which produced the terrific noise, I
accompanied the natives as soon as they were in readiness to depart for the
The comparatively open space that extended from the Ti towards the rock, to
which I have before alluded as forming the ascent to the place, was, with the
building itself, now altogether deserted by the men; the whole distance being
filled by bands of females, shouting and dancing under the influence of some
I was amused at the appearance of four or five old women, who in a state of
utter nudity, with their arms extended flatly down their sides, and holding
themselves perfectly erect, were leaping stiffly into the air, like so many
sticks bobbing to the surface after being pressed perpendicularly into the
water. They preserved the utmost gravity of countenance, and continued their
extraordinary movements without a single moment's cessation. They did not
appear to attract the observation of the crowd around them, but I must candidly
confess that, for my own part, I stared at them most pertinaciously.
Desirous of being enlightened in regard to the meaning of this peculiar
diversion, I turned inquiringly to Kory-Kory: that learned Typee immediately
proceeded to explain the whole matter thoroughly. But all that I could
comprehend from what he said was, that the leaping figures before me were
bereaved widows, whose partners had been slain in battle many moons previously;
and who, at every festival, gave public evidence in this manner of their
calamities. It was evident that Kory-Kory considered this an all-sufficient
reason for so indecorous a custom; but I must say that it did not satisfy me as
to its propriety.
Leaving these afflicted females, we passed on to the Hoolah Hoolah ground.
Within the spacious quadrangle, the whole population of the valley seemed to be
assembled, and the sight presented was truly remarkable. Beneath the sheds of
bamboo which opened towards the interior of the square, reclined the principal
chiefs and warriors, while a miscellaneous throng lay at their ease under the
enormous trees, which spread a majestic canopy overhead. Upon the terraces of
the gigantic altars, at either end, were deposited green bread-fruit in baskets
of cocoa-nut leaves, large rolls of tappa, bunches of white bananas, clusters
of mammee-apples, the golden-hued fruit of the artu tree, and baked hogs, laid
out in large wooden trenchers, fancifully decorated with freshly-plucked
leaves, whilst a variety of rude implements of war were piled in confused heaps
before the ranks of hideous idols. Fruits of various kinds were likewise
suspended in leafen baskets, from the tops of poles planted uprightly, and at
regular intervals, along the lower terraces of both altars. At their base were
arranged two parallel rows of cumbersome drums, standing at least fifteen feet
in height, and formed from the hollow trunks of large trees. Their heads were
covered with shark skins, and their barrels were elaborately carved with
various quaint figures and devices. At regular intervals, they were bound round
by a species of sinnate of various colours, and strips of native cloth
flattened upon them here and there. Behind these instruments were built slight
platforms, upon which stood a number of young men, who, beating violently with the
palms of their hands upon the drum-heads, produced those outrageous sounds
which had awakened me in the morning. Every few minutes these musical
performers hopped down from their elevation into the crowd below, and their
places were immediately supplied by fresh recruits. Thus an incessant din was
kept up that might have startled Pandemonium.
Precisely in the middle of the quadrangle were placed perpendicularly in the
ground a hundred or more slender, fresh-cut poles, stripped of their bark, and
decorated at the end with a floating pennon of white tappa, the whole being
fenced about with a little picket of canes. For what purpose these singular
ornaments were intended, I in vain endeavoured to discover.
Another most striking feature of the performance was exhibited by a score of
old men who sat cross-legged in the little pulpits, which encircled the trunks
of the immense trees growing in the middle of the enclosure. These venerable
gentlemen, who I presume were the priests, kept up an uninterrupted monotonous
chant, which was nearly drowned in the roar of drums. In the right hand they
held a finely-woven grass fan, with a heavy black wooden handle, curiously
chased: these fans they kept in continual motion.
But no attention whatever seemed to be paid to the drummers or to the old
priests, the individuals who composed the vast crowd present being entirely
taken up in chatting and laughing with one another, smoking, drinking arva, and
eating. For all the observation it attracted, or the good it achieved, the
whole savage orchestra might, with great advantage to its own members and the
company in general, have ceased the prodigious uproar they were making.
In vain I questioned Kory-Kory and others of the natives, as to the meaning of
the strange things that were going on; all their explanations were conveyed in
such a mass of outlandish gibberish and gesticulation that I gave up the
attempt in despair. All that day the drums resounded, the priests chanted, and
the multitude feasted and roared till sunset, when the throng dispersed, and
the Taboo Groves were again abandoned to quiet and repose. The next day the
same scene was repeated until night, when this singular festival terminated.
ALTHOUGH I had been baffled in my attempts to learn the origin of the Feast of
Calabashes, yet it seemed very plain to me that it was principally, if not
wholly, of a religious character.
Yet, notwithstanding all I observed on this occasion, I am free to confess my
almost entire inability to gratify any curiosity that may be felt with regard
to the theology of the valley. I doubt whether the inhabitants themselves could
do so. They are either too lazy or too sensible to worry themselves about
abstract points of religious belief. While I was among them, they never held
any synods or councils to settle the principles of their faith by agitating
them. An unbounded liberty of conscience seemed to prevail. Those who pleased
to do so were allowed to repose implicit faith in an ill-favoured god, with a
large bottle-nose, and fat shapeless arms crossed upon his breast; whilst
others worshipped an image which, having no likeness either in heaven or on
earth, could hardly be called an idol. As the islanders always maintained a
discreet reserve with regard to my own peculiar views on religion, I thought it
would be excessively ill-bred in me to pry into theirs.
But, although my knowledge of the religious faith of the Typees was unavoidably
limited, one of their superstitious observances with which I became acquainted
interested me greatly.
In one of the most secluded portions of the valley, within a stone's cast of
Fayaway's lake – for so I christened the scene of our island yachting – and
hard by a growth of palms, which stood ranged in order along both banks of the
stream, waving their green arms as if to do honour to its passage, was the
mausoleum of a deceased warrior-chief. Like all the other edifices of any note,
it was raised upon a small pi-pi of stones, which, being of unusual height, was
a conspicuous object from a distance. A light thatching of bleached
palmetto-leaves hung over it like a self-supported canopy; for it was not until
you came very near that you saw it was supported by four slender columns of
bamboo, rising at each corner to a little more than the height of a man. A
clear area of a few yards surrounded the pi-pi, and was enclosed by four trunks
of cocoa-nut trees, resting at the angles on massive blocks of stone. The place
was sacred. The sign of the inscrutable Taboo was seen, in the shape of a
mystic roll of white tappa, suspended by a twisted cord of the same material
from the top of a slight pole planted within the enclosure.* The sanctity of
the spot appeared never to have been violated. The stillness of the grave was
there, and the calm solitude around was beautiful and touching. The soft
shadows of those lofty palm trees – I can see them now – hanging over the
little temple, as if to keep out the intrusive sun.
* White appears to be the sacred colour among the Marquesans.
On all sides, as you approached this silent spot, you caught sight of the dead
chief's effigy, seated in the stern of a canoe, which was raised on a light
frame a few inches above the level of the pi-pi. The canoe was about seven feet
in length; of a rich, dark-coloured wood, handsomely carved, and adorned in
many places with variegated bindings of stained sinnate, into which were
ingeniously wrought a number of sparkling sea-shells, and a belt of the same
shells ran all round it. The body of the figure – of whatever material it might
have been made – was effectually concealed in a heavy robe of brown tappa,
revealing only the hands and head; the latter skilfully carved in wood, and
surmounted by a superb arch of plumes. These plumes, in the subdued and gentle
gales which found access to this sequestered spot, were never for one moment at
rest, but kept nodding and waving over the chief's brow. The long leaves of the
palmetto dropped over the eaves, and through them you saw the warrior, holding
his paddle with both hands in the act of rowing, leaning forward and inclining
his head, as if eager to hurry on his voyage. Glaring at him for ever, and face
to face, was a polished human skull, which crowned the prow of the canoe. The
spectral figurehead, reversed in its position, glancing backwards, seemed to
mock the impatient attitude of the warrior.
When I first visited this singular place with Kory-Kory, he told me – or, at
least, I so understood him – that the chief was paddling his way to the realms
of bliss and bread-fruit – the Polynesian heaven – where every moment the
bread-fruit trees dropped their ripened spheres to the ground, and where there
was no end to the cocoa-nuts and bananas; there they reposed through the
live-long eternity upon mats much finer than those of Typee; and every day
bathed their glowing limbs in rivers of cocoa-nut oil. In that happy land there
were plenty of plumes and feathers, and boars'-tusks and sperm-whale teeth, far
preferable to all the shining trinkets and gay tappa of the white men; and,
best of all, women, far lovelier than the daughters of earth were there in
abundance. "A very pleasant place," Kory-Kory said it was; "but,
after all, not much pleasanter, he thought, than Typee." "Did he not,
then," I asked him, wish to accompany the warrior?" "Oh, no; he
was very happy where he was; but supposed that some time or other he would go
in his own canoe."
Thus far, I think, I clearly comprehended Kory-Kory. But there was a singular
expression he made use of at the time, enforced by as singular a gesture, the
meaning of which I would have given much to penetrate. I am inclined to believe
it must have been a proverb he uttered; for I afterwards heard him repeat the
same words several times, and in what appeared to me to be a somewhat similar
sense. Indeed, Kory-Kory had a great variety of short, smart-sounding
sentences, with which he frequently enlivened his discourse; and he introduced
them with an air which plainly intimated, that, in his opinion, they settled
the matter in question, whatever it might be.
Could it have been, then, that when I asked him whether he desired to go to
this heaven of bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and young ladies, which he had been
describing, he answered by saying something equivalent to our old adage "A
bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!" – if he did, Kory-Kory was a
discreet and sensible fellow, and I cannot sufficiently admire his shrewdness.
Whenever, in the course of my rambles through the valley, I happened to be near
the chief's mausoleum, I always turned aside to visit it. The place had a
peculiar charm for me; I hardly know why, but so it was. As I leaned over the
railing and gazed upon the strange effigy, and watched the play of the feathery
head-dress, stirred by the same breeze which in low tones breathed amidst the
lofty palm trees, I loved to yield myself up to the fanciful superstition of
the islanders, and could almost believe that the grim warrior was bound
heavenward. In this mood, when I turned to depart, I bade him, "God speed,
and a pleasant voyage." Ay, paddle away, brave chieftain, to the land of
spirits! To the material eye thou makest but little progress; but, with the eye
of faith, I see thy canoe cleaving the bright waves, which die away on those
dimly looming shores of Paradise.
This strange superstition affords another evidence of the fact, that however
ignorant man may be, he still feels within him his immortal spirit yearning
after the unknown future.
Although the religious theories of the islands were a complete mystery to me,
their practical every-day operation could not be concealed. I frequently passed
the little temples reposing in the shadows of the Taboo Groves, and beheld the
offerings – mouldy fruit spread out upon a rude altar, or hanging in
half-decayed baskets around some uncouth, jolly-looking images. I was present
during the continuance of the festival. I daily beheld the grinning idols
marshalled rank and file in the Hoolah Hoolah ground, and was often in the
habit of meeting those whom I supposed to be the priests. But the temples
seemed to be abandoned to solitude; the festival had been nothing more than a
jovial mingling of the tribe; the idols were quite as harmless as any other
logs of wood; and the priests were the merriest dogs in the valley.
In fact, religious affairs in Typee were at a very low ebb. All such matters
sat very lightly upon the thoughtless inhabitants; and, in the celebration of
many of their strange rites, they appeared merely to seek a sort of childish
A curious evidence of this was given in a remarkable ceremony, in which I
frequently saw Mehevi and several other chiefs and warriors of note take part;
but never a single female.
Among those whom I looked upon as forming the priesthood of the valley, there
was one in particular who often attracted my notice, and whom I could not help
regarding as the head of the order. He was a noble-looking man, in the prime of
his life, and of a most benignant aspect. The authority this man, whose name
was Kolory, seemed to exercise over the rest, the episcopal part he took in the
Feast of Calabashes, his sleek and complacent appearance, the mystic characters
which were tattooed upon his chest, and, above all, the mitre he frequently
wore, in the shape of a towering head-dress, consisting of part of a cocoa-nut
branch, the stalk planted uprightly on his brow, and the leaflets gathered
together and passed round the temples and behind the ears, all these pointed
him out as Lord Primate of Typee. Kolory was a sort of Knight Templar – a
soldier-priest; for he often wore the dress of a Marquesan warrior, and always
carried a long spear, which, instead of terminating in a paddle at the lower
end, after the general fashion of these weapons, was curved into a
heathenish-looking little image. This instrument, however, might perhaps have
been emblematic of his double functions. With one end, in carnal combat he
transfixed the enemies of his tribe; and with the other, as a pastoral crook,
he kept in order his spiritual flock. But this is not all I have to say about
Kolory. His martial grace very often carried about with him what seemed to me
the half of a broken war-club. It was swathed round with ragged bits of white
tappa, and the upper part, which was intended to represent a human head, was
embellished with a strip of scarlet cloth of European manufacture. It required
little observation to discover that this strange object was revered as a god.
By the side of the big and lusty images standing sentinel over the altars of
the Hoolah Hoolah ground, it seemed a mere pigmy in tatters. But appearances
all the world over are deceptive. Little men are sometimes very potent, and
rags sometimes cover very extensive pretensions. In fact, this funny little
image was the "crack" god of the island; lording it over all the
wooden lubbers who looked so grim and dreadful; its name was Moa Artua.* And it
was in honour of Moa Artua, and for the entertainment of those who believe in
him, that the curious ceremony I am about to describe was observed.
* The word "Artua," although having some other significations, is in
nearly all the Polynesian dialects used as the general designation of the gods.
Mehevi and the chieftains of the Ti have just risen from their noontide
slumbers. There are no affairs of state to dispose of; and having eaten two or
three breakfasts in the course of the morning, the magnates of the valley feel
no appetite as yet for dinner. How are their leisure moments to be occupied?
They smoke, they chat, and at last one of their number makes a proposition to
the rest, who joyfully acquiescing, he darts out of the house, leaps from the
pi-pi, and disappears in the grove. Soon you see him returning with Kolory, who
bears the god Moa Artua in his arms, and carries in one hand a small trough,
hollowed out in the likeness of a canoe. The priest comes along dangling his
charge as if it were a lachrymose infant he was endeavouring to put into a good
humour. Presently, entering the Ti, he seats himself on the mats as composedly
as a juggler about to perform his sleight-of-hand tricks; and, with the chiefs
disposed in a circle around him, commences his ceremony.
In the first place he gives Moa Artua an affectionate hug, then caressingly
lays him to his breast, and, finally, whispers something in his ear, the rest
of the company listening eagerly for a reply. But the baby-god is deaf or dumb,
– perhaps both, for never a word does he utter. At last Kolory speaks a little
louder, and soon growing angry, comes boldly out with what he has to say, and
bawls to him. He put me in mind of a choleric fellow, who, after trying in vain
to communicate a secret to a deaf man, all at once flies into a passion and
screams it out so that every one may hear. Still Moa Artua remains as quiet as
ever, and Kolory, seemingly losing his temper, fetches him a box over the head,
strips him of his tappa and red cloth, and, laying him in a state of nudity in
a little trough, covers him from sight. At this proceeding all present loudly
applaud, and signify their approval by uttering the adjective "motarkee"
with violent emphasis. Kolory, however, is so desirous his conduct should meet
with unqualified approbation, that he inquires of each individual separately
whether, under existing circumstances, he has not done perfectly right in shutting
up Moa Artua. The invariable response is "Aa, Aa" (yes, yes),
repeated over again and again in a manner which ought to quiet the scruples of
the most conscientious. After a few moments Kolory brings forth his doll again,
and, while arraying it very carefully in the tappa and red cloth, alternately
fondles and chides it. The toilet being completed, he once more speaks to it
aloud. The whole company hereupon show the greatest interest; while the priest,
holding Moa Artua to his ear, interprets to them what he pretends the god is
confidentially communicating to him. Some items of intelligence appear to
tickle all present amazingly; for one claps his hands in a rapture; another
shouts with merriment; and a third leaps to his feet and capers about like a
What under the sun Moa Artua on these occasions had to say to Kolory I never
could find out; but I could not help thinking that the former showed a sad want
of spirit in being disciplined into making those disclosures, which at first he
seemed bent on withholding. Whether the priest honestly interpreted what he
believed the divinity said to him, or whether he was not all the while guilty
of a vile humbug, I shall not presume to decide. At any rate, whatever, as
coming from the god, was imparted to those present, seemed to be generally of a
complimentary nature – a fact which illustrates the sagacity of Kolory, or else
the time-serving disposition of this hardly-used deity.
Moa Artua having nothing more to say, his bearer goes to nursing him again, in
which occupation, however, he is soon interrupted by a question put by one of
the warriors to the god. Kolory hereupon snatches it up to his ear again, and
after listening attentively, once more officiates as the organ of
communication. A multitude of questions and answers having passed between the
parties, much to the satisfaction of those who propose them, the god is put
tenderly to bed in the trough, and the whole company unite in a long chant, led
off by Kolory. This ended, the ceremony is over; the chiefs rise to their feet
in high good humour, and my Lord Archbishop, after chatting awhile, and
regaling himself with a whiff or two from a pipe of tobacco, tucks the canoe
under his arm and marches off with it.
The whole of these proceedings were like those of a parcel of children playing
with dolls and baby-houses.
For a youngster scarcely ten inches high, and with so few early advantages as
he doubtless had had, Moa Artua was certainly a precocious little fellow, if he
really said all that was imputed to him; but for what reason this poor devil of
a deity, thus cuffed about, cajoled, and shut up in a box, was held in greater
estimation than the full-grown and dignified personages of the Taboo Groves, I
cannot divine. And yet Mehevi, and other chiefs of unquestionable veracity – to
say nothing of the Primate himself – assured me over and over again that Moa
Artua was the tutelary deity of Typee, and was more to be held in honour than a
whole battalion of the clumsy idols in the Hoolah Hoolah grounds. Kory-Kory –
who seemed to have devoted considerable attention to the study of theology, as
he knew the names of all the graven images in the valley, and often repeated
them over to me – likewise entertained some rather enlarged ideas with regard
to the character and pretensions of Moa Artua. He once gave me to understand,
with a gesture there was no misconceiving, that if he (Moa Artua) were so
minded, he could cause a cocoa-nut tree to sprout out of his (Kory-Kory's)
head; and that it would be the easiest thing in life for him (Moa Artua) to
take the whole island of Nukuheva in his mouth, and dive down to the bottom of
the sea with it.
But, in sober seriousness, I hardly knew what to make of the religion of the
valley. There was nothing that so much perplexed the illustrious Cook, in his
intercourse with the South Sea islanders, as their sacred rites. Although this
prince of navigators was in many instances assisted by interpreters in the
prosecution of his researches, he still frankly acknowledges that he was at a
loss to obtain anything like a clear insight into the puzzling arcana of their
faith. A similar admission has been made by other eminent voyagers, – by
Carteret, Byron, Kotzebue, and Vancouver.
For my own part, although hardly a day passed while I remained upon the island
that I did not witness some religious ceremony or other, it was very much like
seeing a parcel of "Freemasons" making secret signs to each other: I
saw everything, but could comprehend nothing.
On the whole, I am inclined to believe that the islanders in the Pacific have
no fixed and definite ideas whatever on the subject of religion. I am persuaded
that Kolory himself would be effectually posed were he called upon to draw up
the articles of his faith, and pronounce the creed by which he hoped to be
saved. In truth, the Typees, so far as their actions evince, submitted to no
laws, human or divine – always excepting the thrice mysterious Taboo. The
"independent electors" of the valley were not to be browbeaten by
chiefs, priests, idols, or devils. As for the luckless idols, they received
more hard knocks than supplications. I do not wonder that some of them looked
so grim, and stood so bold upright, as if fearful of looking to the right or
the left, lest they should give any one offence. The fact is, they had to carry
themselves "pretty straight," or suffer the consequences. Their
worshippers were such a precious set of fickle-minded and irreverent heathens,
that there was no telling when they might topple one of them over, break it to
pieces, and making a fire with it on the very altar itself, fall to roasting
the offerings of bread-fruit, and eat them in spite of its teeth.
In how little reverence these unfortunate deities were held by the natives, was
on one occasion most convincingly proved to me. Walking with Kory-Kory through
the deepest recesses of the groves, I perceived a curious-looking image, about
six feet in height, which originally had been placed upright against a low
pi-pi, surmounted by a ruinous bamboo temple, but having become fatigued and
weak in the knees, was now carelessly leaning against it. The idol was partly
concealed by the foliage of a tree which stood near, and whose leafy boughs
drooped over the pile of stones, as if to protect the rude fane from the decay
to which it was rapidly hastening. The image itself was nothing it was more
than a grotesquely-shaped log, carved in the likeness of a portly naked man,
with the arms clasped over the head, the jaws thrown wide apart, and its thick
shapeless legs bowed into an arch. It was much decayed. The lower part was
overgrown with a bright silky moss. Thin spears of grass sprouted from the
distended mouth, and fringed the outline of the head and arms. His godship had
literally attained a green old age. All its prominent points were bruised and
battered, or entirely rotted away. The nose had taken its departure, and from
the general appearance of the head, it might have been supposed that the wooden
divinity, in despair at the neglect of its worshippers, had been trying to beat
its own brains out against the surrounding trees.
I drew near, to inspect more closely this strange object of idolatry, but
halted reverently at the distance of two or three paces, out of regard to the
religious prejudices of my valet. As soon, however, as Kory-Kory perceived that
I was in one of my inquiring, scientific moods, to my astonishment he sprang to
the side of the idol, and pushing it away from the stones against which it
rested, endeavoured to make it stand upon its legs. But the divinity had lost
the use of them altogether; and while Kory-Kory was trying to prop it up, by
placing a stick between it and the pi-pi, the monster fell clumsily to the
ground, and would infallibly have broken its neck had not Kory-Kory
providentially broken its fall, by receiving its whole weight on his own
half-crushed back. I never saw the honest fellow in such a rage before. He
leaped furiously to his feet, and, seizing the stick, began beating the poor
image, every moment or two pausing and talking to it in the most violent
manner, as if upbraiding it for the accident. When his indignation had subsided
a little, he whirled the idol about most profanely, so as to give me an
opportunity of examining it on all sides. I am quite sure I never should have
presumed to have taken such liberties with the god myself, and I was not a
little shocked at Kory-Kory's impiety.
ALTHOUGH I had been unable during the late festival to obtain information on
many interesting subjects which had much excited my curiosity, still that
important event had not passed by without adding materially to my general
knowledge of the islanders.
I was especially struck by the physical strength and beauty which they
displayed, by their great superiority in these respects over the inhabitants of
the neighbouring bay of Nukuheva, and by the singular contrasts they presented
among themselves in their various shades of complexion.
In beauty of form they surpassed anything I had ever seen. Not a single
instance of natural deformity was observable in all the throng attending the
revels. Occasionally I noticed among the men the scars of wounds they had
received in battle; and sometimes, though very seldom, the loss of a finger, an
eye, or an arm, attributable to the same cause. With these exceptions, every
individual appeared free from those blemishes which sometimes mar the effect of
an otherwise perfect form. But their physical excellence did not merely consist
in an exemption from these evils; nearly every individual of their number might
have been taken for a sculptor's model.
When I remembered that these islanders derived no advantage from dress, but
appeared in all the naked simplicity of nature, I could not avoid comparing
them with the fine gentlemen and dandies who promenade such unexceptional
figures in our frequented thoroughfares. Stripped of the cunning artifices of
the tailor, and standing forth in the garb of Eden, – what a sorry set of
round-shouldered, spindle-shanked, crane-necked varlets would civilized men
appear! Stuffed calves, padded breasts, and scientifically cut pantaloons would
then avail them nothing, and the effect would be truly deplorable.
Nothing in the appearance of the islanders struck me more forcibly than the
whiteness of their teeth. The novelist always compares the masticators of his
heroine to ivory; but I boldly pronounce the teeth of the Typees to be far more
beautiful than ivory itself. The jaws of the oldest grey-beards among them were
much better garnished than those of most of the youths of civilized countries;
while the teeth of the young and middle-aged, in their purity and whiteness,
were actually dazzling to the eye. This marvellous whiteness of the teeth is to
be ascribed to the pure vegetable diet of these people, and the uninterrupted
healthfulness of their natural mode of life.
The men, in almost every instance, are of lofty stature, scarcely ever less
than six feet in height, while the other sex are uncommonly diminutive. The
early period of life at which the human form arrives at maturity in this
generous tropical climate likewise deserves to be mentioned. A little creature,
not more than thirteen years of age, and who in other particulars might be
regarded as a mere child, is often seen nursing her own baby; whilst lads who,
under less ripening skies, would be still at school, are here responsible
fathers of families.
On first entering the Typee valley, I had been struck with the marked contrast
presented by its inhabitants with those of the bay I had previously left. In
the latter place, I had not been favourably impressed with the personal
appearance of the male portion of the population; although with the females,
excepting in some truly melancholy instances, I had been wonderfully pleased.
Apart, however, from these considerations, I am inclined to believe that there
exists a radical difference between the two tribes, if indeed they are not
distinct races of men. To those who have merely touched at Nukuheva Bay,
without visiting other portions of the island, it would hardly appear credible
the diversities presented between the various small clans inhabiting so
diminutive a spot. But the hereditary hostility which has existed between them
for ages fully accounts for this.
Not so easy, however, is it to assign an adequate cause for the endless variety
of complexions to be seen in the Typee valley. During the festival, I had
noticed several young females whose skins were almost as white as any Saxon
damsel's, a slight dash of the mantling brown being all that marked the
difference. This comparative fairness of complexion, though in a great degree
perfectly natural, is partly the result of an artificial process, and of an
entire exclusion from the sun. The juice of the "papa" root, found in
great abundance at the head of the valley, is held in great esteem as a
cosmetic, with which many of the females daily anoint their whole person. The
habitual use of it whitens and beautifies the skin. Those of the young girls
who resort to this method of heightening their charms, never expose themselves
to the rays of the sun; an observance, however, that produces little or no
inconvenience, since there are but few of the inhabited portions of the vale
which are not shaded over with a spreading canopy of boughs, so that one may
journey from house to house, scarcely deviating from the direct course, and yet
never once see his shadow cast upon the ground.
The "papa," when used, is suffered to remain upon the skin for
several hours; being of a light green colour, it consequently imparts for the
time a similar hue to the complexion. Nothing, therefore, can be imagined more
singular than the appearance of these nearly naked damsels immediately after
the application of the cosmetic. To look at one of them you would almost
suppose she was some vegetable in an unripe state; and that, instead of living
in the shade for ever, she ought to be placed out in the sun to ripen.
All the islanders are more or less in the habit of anointing themselves; the
women preferring the "aker" or "papa," and the men using
the oil of the cocoa-nut. Mehevi was remarkably fond of mollifying his entire
cuticle with this ointment. Sometimes he might be seen with his whole body
fairly reeking with the perfumed oil of the nut, looking as if he had just
emerged from a soap-boiler's vat, or had undergone the process of dipping in a
tallow-chandlery. To this cause, perhaps, united to their frequent bathing, and
extreme cleanliness, is ascribable, in a great measure, the marvellous purity
and smoothness of skin exhibited by the natives in general.
The prevailing tint among the women of the valley was a light olive, and of
this style of complexion Fayaway afforded the most beautiful example. Others
were still darker, while not a few were of a genuine golden colour, and some of
a swarthy hue.
As agreeing with much previously mentioned in this narrative, I may here
observe, that Mendanna, their discoverer, in his account of the Marquesas,
described the natives as wondrously beautiful to behold, and as nearly
resembling the people of Southern Europe. The first of these islands seen by
Mendanna was La Madelena, which is not far distant from Nukuheva; and its
inhabitants in every respect resemble those dwelling on that and the other
islands of the group. Figueroa, the chronicler of Mendanna's voyage, says, that
on the morning the land was descried, when the Spaniards drew near the shore,
there sallied forth, in rude procession, about seventy canoes, and at the same
time many of the inhabitants (females, I presume) made towards the ships by
swimming. He adds, that "in complexion they were nearly white, of good
stature, and finely formed; and on their faces and bodies were delineated
representations of fishes and other devices." The old Don then goes on to
say, "There came, among others, two lads paddling their canoe, whose eyes
were fixed on the ship; they had beautiful faces, and the most promising
animation of countenance, and were in all things so becoming, that the
pilot-mayor, Quiros, affirmed, nothing in his life ever caused him so much
regret as the leaving such fine creatures to be lost in that country."
Some of the natives present at the Feast of Calabashes had displayed a few
articles of European dress, disposed, however, about their persons after their
own peculiar fashion. Among these I perceived the two pieces of cotton cloth
which poor Toby and myself had bestowed upon our youthful guides the afternoon
we entered the valley. They were evidently reserved for gala days; and during
those of the festival they rendered the young islanders who wore them very
distinguished characters. The small number who were similarly adorned, and the
great value they appeared to place upon the most common and most trivial
articles, furnished ample evidence of the very restricted intercourse they held
with vessels touching at the island. A few cotton handkerchiefs of a gay
pattern, tied about the neck, and suffered to fall over the shoulders, strips
of fanciful calico, swathed about the loins, were nearly all I saw.
Indeed, throughout the valley, there were few things of any kind to be seen of
European origin. All I ever saw, besides the articles just alluded to, were the
six muskets preserved in the Ti, and three or four similar implements of
warfare hung up in other houses, some small canvas bags, partly filled with bullets
and powder, and half a dozen old hatchet-heads, with the edges blunted and
battered to such a degree as to render them utterly worthless. These last
seemed to be regarded as nearly worthless by the natives; and several times
they held up one of them before me, and throwing it aside with a gesture of
disgust, manifested their contempt for anything that could so soon become
But the muskets, the powder, and the bullets, were held in most extravagant
esteem. The former, from their great age and the peculiarities they exhibited,
were well worthy a place in any antiquarian's armoury. I remember, in
particular, one that hung in the Ti, and which Mehevi – supposing as a matter
of course that I was able to repair it – had put into my hands for that
purpose. It was one of those clumsy, old-fashioned English pieces known
generally as Tower Hill muskets, and, for aught I know, might have been left on
the island by Wallace, Carteret, Cook, or Vancouver. The stock was half-rotten
and worm-eaten; the lock was as rusty and about as well adapted to its
ostensible purpose as an old door-hinge; the threading of the screws about the
trigger was completely worn away; while the barrel shook in the wood. Such was
the weapon the chief desired me to restore to its original condition. As I did
not possess the accomplishments of a gunsmith, and was likewise destitute of
the necessary tools, I was reluctantly obliged to signify my inability to
perform the task. At this unexpected communication Mehevi regarded me, for a
moment, as if he half suspected I was some inferior sort of moment, as if he
half suspected I was some inferior sort of white man, who after all did not
know much more than a Typee. However, after a most laboured explanation of the
matter, I succeeded in making him understand the extreme difficulty of the
task. Scarcely satisfied with my apologies, however, he marched off with the
superannuated musket in something of a huff, as if he would no longer expose it
to the indignity of being manipulated by such unskilful fingers.
During the festival, I had not failed to remark the simplicity of manner, the
freedom from all restraint, and, to a certain degree, the equality of condition
manifested by the natives in general. No one appeared to assume any arrogant pretensions.
There was little more than a slight difference in costume to distinguish the
chiefs from the other natives. All appeared to mix together freely, and without
any reserve; although I noticed that the wishes of a chief, even when delivered
in the mildest tone, received the same immediate obedience which elsewhere
would have been only accorded to a peremptory command. What may be the extent
of the authority of the chiefs over the rest of the tribe, I will not venture
to assert; but from all I saw during my stay in the valley, I was induced to
believe that in matters concerning the general welfare it was very limited. The
required degree of deference towards them, however, was willingly and
cheerfully yielded; and as all authority is transmitted from father to son, I
have no doubt that one of the effects here, as elsewhere, of high birth, is to
induce respect and obedience.
The particular grades of rank existing among the chiefs of Typee, I could not
in all cases determine. Previous to the Feast of Calabashes, I had been puzzled
what particular station to assign to Mehevi. But the important part he took
upon that occasion convinced me that he had no superior among the inhabitants
of the valley. I had invariably noticed a certain degree of deference paid to
him by all with whom I had ever seen him brought in contact; but when I
remembered that my wanderings had been confined to a limited portion of the
valley, and that towards the sea a number of distinguished chiefs resided, some
of whom had separately visited me at Marheyo's house, and whom, until the
festival, I had never seen in the company of Mehevi, I felt disposed to believe
that his rank, after all, might not be particularly elevated.
The revels, however, had brought together all the warriors whom I seen
individually and in groups at different times and places. Among them Mehevi
moved with an easy air of superiority which was not to be mistaken; and he whom
I had only looked at as the hospitable host of the Ti, and one of the military
leaders of the tribe, now assumed in my eyes the dignity of royal station. His
striking costume, no less than his naturally commanding figure, seemed indeed
to give him pre-eminence over the rest. The towering helmet of feathers that he
wore raised him in height above all who surrounded him; and though some others
were similarly adorned, the length and luxuriance of their plumes were far
inferior to his.
Mehevi was in fact the greatest of the chiefs – the head of his clan – the
sovereign of the valley; and the simplicity of the social institutions of the
people could not have been more completely proved than by the fact, that after
having been several weeks in the valley, and almost in daily intercourse with
Mehevi, I should have remained until the time of the festival ignorant of his
regal character. But a new light had now broken in upon me. The Ti was the
palace – and Mehevi the king. Both the one and the other of a most simple and
patriarchal nature it must be allowed, and wholly unattended by the ceremonious
pomp which usually surrounds the purple.
After having made this discovery I could not avoid congratulating myself that
Mehevi had from the first taken me as it were under his royal protection, and
that he still continued to entertain for me the warmest regard, as far at least
as I was enabled to judge from appearances. For the future I determined to pay
most assiduous court to him, hoping that eventually through his kindness I
might obtain my liberty.
KING MEHEVI! – A goodly sounding title! – and why should I not bestow it upon
the foremost man in the valley? All hail, therefore, Mehevi, king over all the
Typees! and long life and prosperity to his tropical majesty! But to be sober
again after this loyal burst.
Previously to seeing the Dancing Widows I had little idea that there were any
matrimonial relations subsisting in Typee, and I should as soon have thought of
a Platonic affection being cultivated between the sexes, as of the solemn
connexion of man and wife. To be sure, there were old Marheyo and Tinor, who
seemed to live together quite sociably; but for all that, I had sometimes
observed a comical-looking old gentleman, dressed in a suit of shabby
tattooing, who appeared to be equally at home. This behaviour, until subsequent
discoveries enlightened me, puzzled me more than anything else I witnessed in
As for Mehevi, I had supposed him a confirmed bachelor, as well as most of the
principal chiefs. At any rate, if they had wives and families, they ought to
have been ashamed of themselves; for sure I am, they never troubled themselves
about any domestic affairs. In truth, Mehevi seemed to be the president of a
club of hearty fellows who kept "Bachelor's Hall" in fine style at
the Ti. I had no doubt but that they regarded children as odious incumbrances;
and their ideas of domestic felicity were sufficiently shown in the fact, that
they allowed no meddlesome housekeepers to turn topsy-turvy those snug little
arrangements they had made in their comfortable dwelling. I strongly suspected,
however, that some of those jolly bachelors were carrying on love intrigues
with the maidens of the tribe, although they did not appear publicly to
acknowledge them. I happened to pop upon Mehevi three or four times when he was
romping – in a most undignified manner for a warrior king – with one of the
prettiest little witches in the valley. She lived with an old woman and a young
man, in a house near Marheyo's; and although in appearance a mere child
herself, had a noble boy about a year old, who bore a marvellous resemblance to
Mehevi, whom I should certainly have believed to have been the father, were it
not that the little fellow had no triangle on his face. Mehevi, however, was
not the only person upon whom the damsel Moonoony smiled – the young fellow of
fifteen, who permanently resided in the house with her, was decidedly in her
good graces. This too was a mystery which, with others of the same kind, was
afterwards satisfactorily explained.
During the second day of the Feast of Calabashes, Kory-Kory – being determined
that I should have some understanding on these matters – had, in the course of
his explanations, directed my attention to a peculiarity I had frequently
marked among many of the females, – principally those of a mature age and
rather matronly appearance. This consisted in having the right hand and the
left foot most elaborately tattooed; while the rest of the body was wholly free
from the operation of the art, with the exception of the minutely dotted lips
and slight marks on the shoulders, to which I have previously referred as
comprising the sole tattooing exhibited by Fayaway, in common with other young
girls of her age. The hand and foot thus embellished were, according to
Kory-Kory, the distinguishing badge of wedlock, so far as that social and
highly commendable institution is known among these people. It answers, indeed,
the same purpose as the plain gold ring worn by our fairer spouses.
After Kory-Kory's explanation of the subject, I was for some time studiously
respectful in the presence of all females thus distinguished, and never
ventured to indulge in the slightest approach to flirtation with any of their
A further insight, however, into the peculiar domestic customs of the inmates
of the valley did away in a measure with the severity of my scruples, and
convinced me that I was deceived in some at least of my conclusions. A regular
system of polygamy exists among the islanders, but of a most extraordinary
nature, – a plurality of husbands, instead of wives; and this solitary fact
speaks volumes for the gentle disposition of the male population.
I was not able to learn what particular ceremony was observed in forming the
marriage contract, but am inclined to think that it must have been of a very
simple nature. Perhaps the mere "popping the question," as it is
termed with us, might have been followed by an immediate nuptial alliance. At
any rate, tedious courtships are unknown in the valley of Typee.
The males considerably outnumber the females. This holds true of many of the
islands of Polynesia, although the reverse of what is the case in most
civilized countries. The girls are first wooed and won, at a very tender age,
by some stripling in the household in which they reside. This, however, is a
mere frolic of the affections, and no formal engagement is contracted. By the
time this first love has a little subsided, a second suitor presents himself,
of graver years, and carries both boy and girl away to his own habitation. This
disinterested and generous-hearted fellow now weds the young couple – marrying
damsel and lover at the same time – and all three thenceforth live together as
harmoniously as so many turtles. I have heard of some men who in civilized
countries rashly marry large families with their wives, but had no idea that
there was any place where people married supplementary husbands with them.
Infidelity on either side is very rare. No man has more than one wife, and no
wife of mature years has less than two husbands, – sometimes she has three, but
such instances are not frequent. The marriage tie, whatever it may be, does not
appear to be indissoluble; for separations occasionally happen. These, however,
when they do take place, produce no unhappiness, and are preceded by no
bickerings: for the simple reason, that an ill-used wife or a hen-pecked
husband is not obliged to file a bill in chancery to obtain a divorce. As
nothing stands in the way of a separation, the matrimonial yoke sits easily and
lightly, and a Typee wife lives on very pleasant and sociable terms with her
husbands. On the whole, wedlock, as known among these Typees, seems to be of a
more distinct and enduring nature than is usually the case with barbarous
But, notwithstanding its existence among them, the scriptural injunction to
increase and multiply seems to be but indifferently attended to. I never saw
any of those large families, in arithmetical or step-ladder progression, which
one often meets with at home. I never knew of more than two youngsters living
together in the same home, and but seldom even that number. As for the women,
it was very plain that the anxieties of the nursery but seldom disturbed the
serenity of their souls; and they were never seen going about the valley with
half a score of little ones tagging at their apron-strings, or rather at the
bread-fruit leaf they usually wore in the rear.
I have before had occasion to remark that I never saw any of the ordinary signs
of a place of sepulture in the valley, a circumstance which I attributed, at
the time, to my living in a particular part of it, and being forbidden to
extend my ramble to any considerable distance towards the sea. I have since
thought it probable, however, that the Typees, either desirous of removing from
their sight the evidences of mortality, or prompted by a taste for rural
beauty, may have some charming cemetery situated in the shadowy recesses along
the base of the mountains. At Nukuheva, two or three large quadrangular
"pi-pis," heavily flagged, enclosed with regular stone walls, and
shaded over and almost hidden from view by the interlacing branches of enormous
trees, were pointed out to me as burial-places. The bodies, I understood, were
deposited in rude vaults beneath the flagging, and were suffered to remain
there without being disinterred. Although nothing could be more strange and
gloomy than the aspect of these places, where the lofty trees threw their dark
shadows over rude blocks of stone, a stranger looking at them would have
discerned none of the ordinary evidences of a place of sepulture.
During my stay in the valley, as none of its inmates were so accommodating as
to die and be buried in order to gratify my curiosity with regard to their
funeral rites, I was reluctantly obliged to remain in ignorance of them. As I
have reason to believe, however, that the observances of the Typees in these
matters are the same with those of all the other tribes on the island, I will
here relate a scene I chanced to witness at Nukuheva.
A young man had died, about daybreak, in a house near the beach. I had been
sent ashore that morning, and saw a good deal of the preparations they were
making for his obsequies. The body, neatly wrapped in new white tappa, was laid
out in an open shed of cocoa-nut boughs, upon a bier constructed of elastic
bamboos ingeniously twisted together. This was supported, about two feet from
the ground, by large canes planted uprightly in the earth. Two females, of a
dejected appearance, watched by its side, plaintively chanting, and beating the
air with large grass fans whitened with pipe-clay. In the dwelling-house
adjoining a numerous company were assembled, and various articles of food were
being prepared for consumption. Two or three individuals, distinguished by
head-dresses of beautiful tappa, and wearing a great number of ornaments,
appeared to officiate as masters of the ceremonies. By noon the entertainment
had fairly begun, and we were told that it would last during the whole of the
two following days. With the exception of those who mourned by the corpse, every
one seemed disposed to drown the sense of the late bereavement in convivial
indulgence. The girls, decked out in their savage finery, danced; the old men
chanted; the warriors smoked and chatted; and the young and lusty, of both
sexes, feasted plentifully, and seemed to enjoy themselves as pleasantly as
they could have done had it been a wedding.
The islanders understand the art of embalming, and practise it with such
success, that the bodies of their great chiefs are frequently preserved for
many years in the very houses where they died. I saw three of these in my visit
to the bay of Tior. One was enveloped in immense folds of tappa, with only the
face exposed, and hung erect against the side of the dwelling. The others were
stretched out upon biers of bamboo, in open, elevated temples, which seemed
consecrated to their memory. The heads of enemies killed in battle are
invariably preserved, and hung up as trophies in the house of the conqueror. I
am not acquainted with the process which is in use, but believe that fumigation
is the principal agency employed. All the remains which I saw presented the
appearance of a ham after being suspended for some time in a smoky chimney.
But to return from the dead to the living. The late festival had drawn
together, as I had every reason to believe, the whole population of the vale,
and consequently I was enabled to make some estimate with regard to its
numbers. I should imagine that there were about two thousand inhabitants in
Typee; and no number could have been better adapted to the extent of the
valley. The valley is some nine miles in length, and may average one in
breadth, the houses being distributed at wide intervals throughout its whole
extent, principally, however, towards the head of the vale. There are no villages.
The houses stand here and there in the shadow of the groves, or are scattered
along the banks of the winding stream; their golden-hued bamboo sides and
gleaming white thatch, forming a beautiful contrast to the perpetual verdure in
which they are embowered. There are no roads of any kind in the valley. Nothing
but a labyrinth of foot-paths, twisting and turning among the thickets without
KINDLINESS OF THE CANNIBALS
THERE seemed to be no rogues of any kind in Typee. In the darkest nights the
natives slept securely, with all their worldly wealth around them, in houses
the doors of which were never fastened. The disquieting ideas of theft or
assassination never disturbed them. Each islander reposed beneath his own
palmetto-thatching, or sat under his own bread-fruit tree, with none to molest
or alarm him. There was not a padlock in the valley, nor anything that answered
the purpose of one: still there was no community of goods. This long spear, so
elegently carved and highly polished, belongs to Warmoonoo – it is far
handsomer than the one which old Marheyo so greatly prizes – it is the most
valuable article belonging to its owner. And yet I have seen it leaning against
a cocoa-nut tree in the grove, and there it was found when sought for. Here is
a sperm-whale tooth, graven all over with cunning devices – it is the property
of Karluna. It is the most precious of the damsel's ornaments. In her
estimation, its price is far above rubies; and yet there hangs the dental
jewel, by its cord of braided bark, in the girl's house, which is far back in
the valley; the door is left open, and all the inmates have gone off to bathe
in the stream.*
* The strict honesty which the inhabitants of nearly all the Polynesian Islands
manifest towards each other, is in striking contrast with the thieving
propensities some of them evince in their intercourse with foreigners. It would
almost seem that, according to their peculiar code of morals, the pilfering of
a hatchet or a wrought nail from a European is looked upon as a praiseworthy
action. Or rather, it may be presumed, that bearing in mind the wholesale
forays made upon them by their nautical visitors, they consider the property of
the latter as a fair object of reprisal. This consideration, while it serves to
reconcile an apparent contradiction in the moral character of the islanders,
should in some measure alter that low opinion of it which the reader of South
Sea voyages is too apt to form.
So much for the respect in which such matters are held in Typee. As to the land
of the valley, whether it was the joint property of its inhabitants, or whether
it was parcelled out among a certain number of landed proprietors, who allowed
everybody to roam over it as much as they pleased, I never could ascertain. At
any rate, musty parchments and tide-deeds there were none in the island; and I
am half inclined to believe that its inhabitants hold their broad valleys in
fee simple from nature herself.
Yesterday I saw Kory-Kory hie him away, armed with a long pole, with which,
standing on the ground, he knocked down the fruit from the topmost boughs of
the trees, and brought them home in his basket of cocoa-nut leaves. To-day I
see an islander, whom I know to reside in a distant part of the valley, doing
the self-same thing. On the sloping bank of the stream were a number of banana
trees. I have often seen a score or two of young people making a merry foray on
the great golden clusters, and bearing them off, one after another, to
different parts of the vale, shouting and tramping as they went. No churlish
old curmudgeon could have been the owner of that grove of bread-fruit trees, or
of these gloriously yellow bunches of bananas.
From what I have said, it will be perceived that there is a vast difference
between "personal property" and "real estate" in the valley
of Typee. Some individuals, of course, are more wealthy than others. For
example: the ridge-pole of Marheyo's house bends under the weight of many a
huge packet of tappa; his long couch is laid with mats placed one upon the
other seven deep. Outside, Tinor has ranged along in her bamboo cupboard – or
whatever the place may be called – a goodly array of calabashes and wooden
trenchers. Now, the house just beyond the grove, and next to Marheyo's,
occupied by Ruaruga, is not quite so well furnished. There are only three
moderate-sized packages swinging overhead; there are only two layers of mats
beneath; and the calabashes and trenchers are not so numerous, nor so
tastefully stained and carved. But then, Ruaruga has a house – not so pretty a
one, to be sure – but just as commodious as Marheyo's; and, I suppose, if he
wished to vie with his neighbour's establishment, he could do so with very
little trouble. These, in short, constitute the chief differences perceivable in
the relative wealth of the people in Typee.
They lived in great harmony with each other. I will give an instance of their
One day, in returning with Kory-Kory from my accustomed visit to the Ti, we
passed by a little opening in the grove; on one side of which, my attendant
informed me, was that afternoon to be built a dwelling of bamboo. At least a
hundred of the natives were bringing materials to the ground, some carrying in
their hands one or two of the canes which were to form the sides, others
slender rods of the Habiscus, strung with palmetto leaves, for the roof. Every
one contributed something to the work; and by the united, but easy, and even
indolent, labours of all, the entire work was completed before sunset. The
islanders, while employed in erecting this tenement, reminded me of a colony of
beavers at work. To be sure, they were hardly as silent and demure as those
wonderful creatures, nor were they by any means as diligent. To tell the truth,
they were somewhat inclined to be lazy, but a perfect tumult of hilarity and
they worked together so unitedly, and seemed actuated by such an instinct of
friendliness, that it was truly beautiful to behold.
Not a single female took part in this employment; and if the degree of
consideration in which the ever-adorable sex is held by the men be – as the
philosophers affirm – a just criterion of the degree of refinement among a
people, then I may truly pronounce the Typees to be as polished a community as
ever the sun shone upon. The religious restrictions of the taboo alone
excepted, the women of the valley were allowed every possible indulgence.
Nowhere are the ladies more assiduously courted; nowhere are they better
appreciated as the contributors to our highest enjoyments; and nowhere are they
more sensible of their power. Far different from their condition among many
rude nations, where the woman are made to perform all the work, while their
ungallant lords and masters lie buried in sloth, the gentle sex in the valley
of Typee were exempt from toil – if toil it might be called – that, even in
that tropical climate, never distilled one drop of perspiration. Their light
household occupations, together with the manufacture of tappa, the platting of
mats, and the polishing of drinking-vessels, were the only employments
pertaining to the women. And even these resembled those pleasant avocations
which fill up the elegant morning leisure of our fashionable ladies at home.
But in these occupations, slight and agreeable though they were, the giddy
young girls very seldom engaged. Indeed, these wilful, care-killing damsels
were averse to all useful employment. Like so many spoiled beauties, they
ranged through the groves – bathed in the stream – danced – flirted – played
all manner of mischievous pranks, and passed their days in one merry round of
During my whole stay on the island I never witnessed a single quarrel, nor
anything that in the slightest degree approached even to a dispute. The natives
appeared to form one household, whose members were bound together by the ties
of strong affection. The love of kindred I did not so much perceive, for it
seemed blended in the general love; and where all were treated as brothers and
sisters, it was hard to tell who were actually related to each other by blood.
Let it not be supposed that I have overdrawn this picture. I have not done so.
Nor let it be urged, that the hostility of this tribe to foreigners, and the
hereditary feuds they carry on against their fellow-islanders beyond the
mountains, are facts which contradict me. Not so; these apparent discrepancies
are easily reconciled. By many a legendary tale of violence and wrong, as well
as by events which have passed before their eyes, these people have been taught
to look upon white men with abhorrence. The cruel invasion of their country by
Porter has alone furnished them with ample provocation; and I can sympathize in
the spirit which prompts the Typee warrior to guard all the passes to his
valley with the point of his levelled spear, and, standing upon the beach, with
his back turned upon his green home, to hold at bay the intruding European.
As to the origin of the enmity of this particular clan towards the neighbouring
tribes, I cannot so confidently speak. I will not say that their foes are the
aggressors, nor will I endeavour to palliate their conduct. But surely, if our
evil passions must find vent, it is far better to expend them on strangers and
aliens, than in the bosom of the community in which we dwell. In many polished
countries civil contentions, as well as domestic enmities, are prevalent, at
the same time that the most atrocious foreign wars are waged. How much less
guilty, then, are our islanders, who of these three sins are only chargeable
with one, and that the least criminal!
The reader will, ere long, have reason to suspect that the Typees are not free
from the guilt of cannibalism; and he will then, perhaps, charge me with
admiring a people against whom so odious a crime is chargeable. But this only
enormity in their character is not half so horrible as it is usually described.
According to the popular fictions, the crews of vessels, shipwrecked on some
barbarous coast, are eaten alive like so many dainty joints by the uncivil
inhabitants; and unfortunate voyagers are lured into smiling and treacherous
bays; knocked on the head with outlandish warclubs; and served up without any
preliminary dressing. In truth, so horrific and improbable are these accounts,
that many sensible and well-informed people will not believe that any cannibals
exist; and place every book of voyages which purports to give any account of
them, on the same shelf with Blue Beard and Jack the Giant-killer. While
others, implicitly crediting the most extravagant fictions, firmly believe that
there are people in the world with tastes so depraved, that they would
infinitely prefer a single mouthful of material humanity to a good dinner of
roast beef and plum pudding. But here, Truth, who loves to be centrally
located, is again found between the two extremes; for cannibalism to a certain
moderate extent is practised among several of the primitive tribes in the
Pacific, but it is upon the bodies of slain enemies alone; and horrible and
fearful as the custom is, immeasurably as it is to be abhorred and condemned,
still I assert that those who indulge in it are in other respects humane and
THERE was no instance in which the social and kindly dispositions of the Typees
were more forcibly evinced than in the manner they conducted their great
fishing parties. Four times during my stay in the valley the young men
assembled near the full of the moon, and went together on these excursions. As
they were generally absent about forty-eight hours, I was led to believe that
they went out towards the open sea, some distance from the bay. The Polynesians
seldom use a hook and line, almost always employing large, well-made nets, most
ingeniously fabricated from the twisted fibres of a certain bark. I examined
several of them which had been spread to dry upon the beach at Nukuheva. They
resemble very much our own seines, and I should think they were very nearly as
All the South Sea islanders are passionately fond of fish; but none of them can
be more so than the inhabitants of Typee. I could not comprehend, therefore,
why they so seldom sought it in their waters; for it was only at stated times
that the fishing parties were formed, and these occasions were always looked
forward to with no small degree of interest.
During their absence, the whole population of the place were in a ferment, and
nothing was talked of but "pehee, pehee" (fish, fish). Towards the
time when they were expected to return, the vocal telegraph was put into
operation – the inhabitants, who were scattered throughout the length of the
valley, leaped upon rocks and into trees, shouting with delight at the thoughts
of the anticipated treat. As soon as the approach of the party was announced,
there was a general rush of the men towards the beach; some of them remaining,
however, about the Ti, in order to get matters in readiness for the reception
of the fish, which were brought to the Taboo Groves in immense packages of
leaves, each one of them being suspended from a pole carried on the shoulders
of two men.
I was present at the Ti on one of these occasions, and the sight was most
interesting. After all the packages had arrived, they were laid in a row under
the verandah of the building, and opened. The fish were all quite small,
generally about the size of a herring, and of every variety of colour. About
one-eighth of the whole being reserved for the use of the Ti itself, the
remainder was divided into numerous smaller packages, which were immediately
despatched in every direction to the remotest part of the valley. Arrived at
their destination, these were in turn portioned out, and equally distributed
among the various houses of each particular district. The fish were under a
strict Taboo, until the distribution was completed, which seemed to be effected
in a most impartial manner. By the operation of this system every man, woman,
and child in the vale, were at one and the same time partaking of this
favourite article of food.
Once, I remember, the party arrived at midnight; but the unseasonableness of
the hour did not repress the impatience of the islanders. The carriers
despatched from the Ti were to be seen hurrying in all directions through the
deep groves; each individual preceded by a boy bearing a flaming torch of dried
cocoa-nut boughs, which from time to time was replenished from the materials
scattered along the path. The wild glare of these enormous flambeaux, lighting
up with a startling brilliancy the innermost recesses of the vale, and seen
moving rapidly along beneath the canopy of leaves, the savage shout of the
excited messengers sounding the news of their approach, which was answered on
all sides, and the strange appearance of their naked bodies, seen against the
gloomy background, produced altogether an effect upon my mind that I shall long
It was on this same occasion that Kory-Kory awakened me at the dead hour of
night, and in a sort of transport communicated the intelligence contained in
the words "pehee perni" (fish come). As I happened to have been in a
remarkably sound and refreshing slumber, I could not imagine why the
information had not been deferred until morning; indeed, I felt very much
inclined to fly into a passion and box my valet's ears; but on second thoughts
I got quietly up, and on going outside the house was not a little interested by
the moving illumination which I beheld.
When old Marheyo received his share of the spoils, immediate preparations were
made for a midnight banquet; calabashes of poee-poee were filled to the brim;
green bread-fruit were roasted; and a huge cake of "amar" was cut up
with a sliver of bamboo, and laid out on an immense banana leaf.
At this supper we were lighted by several of the native tapers, held in the
hands of young girls. These tapers are most ingeniously made. There is a nut
abounding in the valley, called by the Typees "armor," closely
resembling our common horse-chestnut. The shell is broken, and the contents
extracted whole. Any number of these are strung at pleasure upon the long
elastic fibre that traverses the branches of the cocoa-nut tree. Some of these
tapers are eight or ten feet in length; but being perfectly flexible, one end
is held in a coil, while the other is lighted. The nut burns with a fitful
bluish flame, and the oil that it contains is exhausted in about ten minutes.
As one burns down, the next becomes ignited, and the ashes of the former are
knocked into a cocoa-nut shell kept for the purpose. This primitive candle
requires continual attention, and must be constantly held in the hand. The
person so employed marks the lapse of time by the number of nuts consumed,
which is easily learned by counting the bits of tappa distributed at regular
intervals along the string.
I grieve to state so distressing a fact, but the inhabitants of Typee were in
the habit of devouring fish much in the same way that a civilized being would
eat a radish, and without any more previous preparation. They eat it raw;
scales, bones, gills, and all the inside. The fish is held by the tail, and the
head being introduced into the mouth, the animal disappears with a rapidity
that would at first nearly lead one to imagine it had been launched bodily down
Raw fish! Shall I ever forget my sensations when I first saw my island beauty
devour one? Oh, heavens! Fayaway, how could you ever have contracted so vile a
habit? However, after the first shock had subsided, the custom grew less odious
in my eyes, and I soon accustomed myself to the sight. Let no one imagine,
however, that the lovely Fayaway was in the habit of swallowing great vulgar-looking
fishes: oh, no; with her beautiful small hand, she would clasp a delicate,
little, golden-hued love of a fish, and eat it as elegantly and as innocently
as though it were a Naples biscuit. But, alas! it was after all a raw fish; and
all I can say is, that Fayaway ate it in a more ladylike manner than any other
girl of the valley.
When at Rome do as the Romans do, I held to be so good a proverb, that being in
Typee, I made a point of doing as the Typees did. Thus I ate poee-poee as they
did; I walked about in a garb striking for its simplicity; and I reposed on a
community of couches; besides doing many other things in conformity with their
peculiar habits; but the farthest I ever went in the way of conformity, was on
several occasions to regale myself with raw fish. These being remarkably
tender, and quite small, the undertaking was not so disagreeable in the main,
and after a few trials I positively began to relish them: however, I subjected
them to a slight operation with my knife previously to making my repast.
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE VALLEY
THERE were some curious-looking dogs in the valley. Dogs! – big, hairless rats
rather; all with smooth, shining, speckled hides – fat sides, and very
disagreeable faces. Whence could they have come? That they were not the
indigenous production of the region, I am firmly convinced. Indeed, they seemed
aware of their being interlopers, looking fairly ashamed, and always trying to
hide themselves in some dark corner. It was plain enough they did not feel at
home in the vale – that they wished themselves well out of it, and back to the
ugly country from which they must have come.
Scurvy curs! they were my abhorrence; I should have liked nothing better than
to have been the death of every one of them. In fact, on one occasion, I
intimated the propriety of a canine crusade to Mehevi, but the benevolent king
would not consent to it. He heard me very patiently; but when I had finished,
shook his head, and told me in confidence, that they were "taboo."
As for the animal that made the fortune of my lord mayor Whittington, I shall
never forget the day that I was lying in the house about noon, everybody else
being fast asleep; and happening to raise my eyes, met those of a big black
spectral cat, which sat erect in the doorway, looking at me with its frightful
goggling green orbs, like one of those monstrous imps that tormented some of
the olden saints! I am one of those unfortunate persons, to whom the sight of
these animals is at any time an insufferable annoyance.
Thus constitutionally averse to cats in general, the unexpected apparition of
this one in particular utterly confounded me. When I had a little recovered
from the fascination of its glance, I started up; the cat fled, and emboldened
by this, I rushed out of the house in pursuit; but it had disappeared. It was
the only time I ever saw one in the valley, and how it got there I cannot
imagine. It is just possible that it might have escaped from one of the ships
at Nukuheva. It was in vain to seek information on the subject from the
natives, since none of them had seen the animal, the appearance of which
remains a mystery to me to this day.
Among the few animals which are to be met with in Typee, there was none which I
looked upon with more interest than a beautiful golden-hued species of lizard.
It measured perhaps five inches from head to tail, and was most gracefully
proportioned. Numbers of those creatures were to be seen basking in the
sunshine upon the thatching of the houses, and multitudes at all hours of the
day showed their glittering sides as they ran frolicking between the spears of
grass, or raced in troops up and down the tall shafts of the cocoa-nut trees.
But the remarkable beauty of these little animals and their lively ways were not
their only claims upon my admiration. They were perfectly tame and insensible
to fear. Frequently, after seating myself upon the ground in some shady place
during the heat of the day, I would be completely overrun with them. If I
brushed one off my arm, it would leap perhaps into my hair; when I tried to
frighten it away by gently pinching its leg, it would turn for protection to
the very hand that attacked it.
The birds are also remarkably tame. If you happened to see one perched upon a
branch within reach of your arm, and advanced towards it, it did not fly away
immediately, but waited quietly looking at you, until you could almost touch
it, and then took wing slowly, less alarmed at your presence, it would seem,
than desirous of removing itself from your path. Had salt been less scarce in
the valley than it was, this was the very place to have gone birding with it.
I remember that once, on an uninhabited island of the Gallipagos, a bird
alighted on my outstretched arm, while its mate chirped from an adjoining tree.
Its tameness, far from shocking me, as a similar occurrence did Selkirk,
imparted to me the most exquisite thrill of delight I ever experienced; and
with somewhat of the same pleasure did I afterwards behold the birds and
lizards of the valley show their confidence in the kindliness of man.
Among the numerous afflictions which the Europeans have entailed upon some of
the natives of the South Seas, is the accidental introduction among them of
that enemy of all repose and ruffler of even tempers – the mosquito. At the
Sandwich Islands, and at two or three of the Society group, there are now
thriving colonies of these insects, who promise ere long to supplant altogether
the aboriginal sand-flies. They sting, buzz, and torment, from one end of the year
to the other, and by incessantly exasperating the natives, materially obstruct
the benevolent labours of the missionaries.
From this grievous visitation, however, the Typees are as yet wholly exempt;
but its place is unfortunately in some degree supplied by the occasional
presence of a minute species of fly, which, without stinging, is nevertheless
productive of no little annoyance. The tameness of the birds and lizards is as
nothing when compared to the fearless confidence of this insect. He will perch
upon one of your eye-lashes, and go to roost there, if you do not disturb him,
or force his way through your hair, or along the cavity of the nostril, till
you almost fancy he is resolved to explore the very brain itself. On one
occasion I was so inconsiderate as to yawn while a number of them were hovering
around me. I never repeated the act. Some half-dozen darted into the open
apartment, and began walking about its ceiling; the sensation was dreadful. I
involuntarily closed my mouth, and the poor creatures, being enveloped in inner
darkness, must in their consternation have stumbled over my palate, and been
precipitated into the gulf beneath. At any rate, though I afterwards charitably
held my mouth open for at least five minutes, with a view of affording egress
to the stragglers, of them ever availed themselves of the opportunity.
There are no wild animals of any kind on the island, unless it be decided that
the natives themselves are such. The mountains and the interior present to the
eye nothing but silent solitudes, unbroken by the roar of beasts of prey, and
enlivened by few tokens even of minute animated existence. There are no
venomous reptiles, and no snakes of any description to be found in any of the
In a company of Marquesan natives the weather affords no topic of conversation.
It can hardly be said to have any vicissitudes. The rainy season, it is true,
brings frequent showers, but they are intermitting and refreshing. When an
islander, bound on some expedition, rises from his couch in the morning, he is
never solicitous to peep out and see how the sky looks, or ascertain from what
quarter the wind blows. He is always sure of a "fine day," and the
promise of a few genial showers he hails with pleasure. There is never any of
that "remarkable weather" on the islands which from time immemorial
has been experienced in America, and still continues to call forth the
wondering conversational exclamations of its elderly citizens. Nor do there
even occur any of those eccentric meteorological changes which elsewhere
surprise us. In the valley of Typee ice-creams would never be rendered less
acceptable by sudden frosts, nor would picnic parties be deferred on account of
inauspicious snowstorms: for there day follows day in one unvarying round of summer
and sunshine, and the whole year is one long tropical month of June just
melting into July.
It is this genial climate which causes the cocoa-nuts to flourish as they do.
This invaluable fruit, brought to perfection by the rich soil of the Marquesas,
and borne aloft on a stately column more than a hundred feet from the ground,
would seem at first almost inaccessible to the simple Indeed, the slender,
smooth, and soaring shaft, without a single limb or protuberance of any kind to
assist one in mounting it, presents an obstacle only to be overcome by the
surprising agility and ingenuity of the islanders. It might be supposed that
their indolence would lead them patiently to await the period when the ripened
nuts, slowly parting from their stems, fall one by one to the ground. This
certainly would be the case, were it not that the young fruit, encased in a
soft green husk, with the incipient meat adhering in a jelly-like pellicle to
its sides, and containing a bumper of the most delicious nectar, is what they
chiefly prize. They have at least twenty different terms to express as many
progressive stages in the growth of the nut. Many of them reject the fruit
altogether except at a particular period of its growth, which, incredible as it
may appear, they seemed to me to be able to ascertain within an hour or two.
Others are still more capricious in their tastes; and after gathering together
a heap of the nuts of all ages, and ingeniously tapping them, will first sip
from one and then from another, as fastidiously as some delicate wine-bibber
experimenting, glass in hand, among his dusty demijohns of different vintages.
Some of the young men, with more flexible frames than their comrades, and
perhaps with more courageous souls, had a way of walking up the trunk of the
cocoa-nut trees which to me seemed little less than miraculous; and when
looking at them in the act, I experienced that curious perplexity a child feels
when he beholds a fly moving feet uppermost along a ceiling.
I will endeavour to describe the way in which Narnee, a noble young chief,
sometimes performed this feat for my particular gratification; but his
preliminary performances must also be recorded. Upon my signifying my desire
that he should pluck me the young fruit of some particular tree, the handsome
savage, throwing himself into a sudden attitude of surprise, feigns
astonishment at the apparent absurdity of the request. Maintaining this
position for a moment, the strange emotions depicted on his countenance soften
down into one of humorous resignation to my will, and then, looking wistfully
up to the tufted top of the tree, he stands on tip-toe, straining his neck and
elevating his arms, as though endeavouring to reach the fruit from the ground
where he stands. As if defeated in this childish attempt, he now sinks to the
earth despondingly, beating his breast in well-acted despair; and then,
starting to his feet all at once, and throwing back his head, raises both
hands, like a school-boy about to catch a falling ball. After continuing this for
a moment or two, as if in expectation that the fruit was going to be tossed
down to him by some good spirit in the tree-top, he turns wildly round in
another fit of despair, and scampers off to the distance of thirty or forty
yards. Here he remains awhile, eyeing the tree, the very picture of misery; but
the next moment, receiving, as it were, a flash of inspiration, he rushes again
towards it, and clasping both arms about the trunk, with one elevated a little
above the other, he presses the soles of his feet close together against the
tree, extending his legs from it until they are nearly horizontal, and his body
becomes doubled into an arch; then, hand over hand and foot after foot, he
rises from the earth with steady rapidity, and almost before you are aware of
it, has gained the cradled and embowered nest of nuts, and with boisterous glee
flings the fruit to the ground.
This mode of walking the tree is only practicable where the trunk declines
considerably from the perpendicular. This, however, is almost always the case;
some of the perfectly straight shafts of the trees leaning at an angle of
The less active among the men, and many of the children of the valley, have
another method of climbing. They take a broad and stout piece of bark, and
secure either end of it to their ankles: so that when the feet thus confined
are extended apart, a space of little more than twelve inches is left between
them. This contrivance greatly facilitates the act of climbing. The band
pressed against the tree, and closely embracing it, yields a pretty firm
support; while with the arms clasped about the trunk, and at regular intervals
sustaining the body, the feet are drawn up nearly a yard at a time, and a
corresponding elevation of the hands immediately succeeds. In this way I have
seen little children, scarcely five years of age, fearlessly climbing the
slender pole of a young cocoa-nut tree, and while hanging perhaps fifty feet
from the ground, receiving the plaudits of their parents beneath, who clapped their
hands, and encouraged them to mount still higher.
What, thought I, on first witnessing one of these exhibitions would the nervous
mothers of America and England say to a similar display of hardihood in any of
their children? The Lacedemonian nation might have approved of it, but most
modern dames would have gone into hysterics at the sight.
At the top of the cocoa-nut tree the numerous branches, radiating on all sides
from a common centre, form a sort of green and waving basket, between the
leaflets of which you just discern the nuts thickly clustering together, and on
the loftier trees looking no bigger from the ground than bunches of grapes. I
remember one adventurous little fellow – Too-Too was the rascal's name – who
had built himself a sort of aerial baby-house in the picturesque tuft of a tree
adjoining Marheyo's habitation. He used to spend hours there, – rustling among
the branches, and shouting with delight every time the strong gusts of wind,
rushing down from the mountain side, swayed to and fro the tall and flexible
column on which he was perched. Whenever I heard Too-Too's musical voice
sounding strangely to the ear from so great a height, and beheld him peeping
down upon me from out his leafy covert, he always recalled to my mind Dibdin's
lines – There's a sweet little cherub that
sits up aloft, To look out for the life of poor Jack.
Birds – bright and beautiful birds – fly over the valley of Typee. You see them
perched aloft among the immovable boughs of the majestic bread-fruit trees, or
gently swaying on the elastic branches of the Omoo; skimming over the
palmetto-thatching of the bamboo huts; passing like spirits on the wing through
the shadows of the grove, and sometimes descending into the bosom of the valley
in gleaming flights from the mountains. Their plumage is purple and azure,
crimson and white, black and gold; with bills of every tint; – bright
bloody-red, jet black, and ivory white; and their eyes are bright and
sparkling; they go sailing through the air in starry throngs; but, alas! the
spell of dumbness is upon them all – there is not a single warbler in the
I know not why it was, but the sight of these birds, generally the ministers of
gladness, always oppressed me with melancholy. As in their dumb beauty they
hovered by me whilst I was walking, or looked down upon me with steady curious
eyes from out the foliage, I was almost inclined to fancy that they knew they
were gazing upon a stranger, and that they commiserated his fate.
TATTOOING AND TABOOING
IN one of my strolls with Kory-Kory, in passing along the border of a thick
growth of bushes, my attention was arrested by a singular noise. On entering
the thicket, I witnessed for the first time the operation of tattooing as
performed by these islanders.
I beheld a man extended flat upon his back on the ground, and, despite the
forced composure of his countenance, it was evident that he was suffering
agony. His tormentor bent over him, working away for all the world like a
stonecutter with mallet and chisel. In one hand he held a short slender stick,
pointed with a shark's tooth, on the upright end of which he tapped with a
small hammer-like piece of wood, thus puncturing the skin, and charging it with
the colouring matter in which the instrument was dipped. A cocoa-nut shell
containing this fluid was placed upon the ground. It is prepared by mixing with
a vegetable juice the ashes of the "armor," or candle-nut, always
preserved for the purpose. Beside the savage, and spread out upon a piece of soiled
tappa, were a great number of curious black-looking little implements of bone
and wood, used in the various divisions of his art. A few terminated in a
single fine point, and, like very delicate pencils, were employed in giving the
finishing touches, or in operating upon the more sensitive portions of the
body, as was the case in the present instance. Others presented several points
distributed in a line, somewhat resembling the teeth of a saw. These were
employed in the coarser parts of the work, and particularly in pricking in
straight marks. Some presented their points disposed in small figures, and
being placed upon the body, were, by a single blow of the hammer, made to leave
their indelible impression. I observed a few, the handles of which were
mysteriously curved, as if intended to be introduced into the orifice of the
ear, with a view perhaps of beating the tattoo upon the tympanum. Altogether,
the sight of these strange instruments recalled to mind that display of
cruel-looking mother-of-pearl-handled things which one sees in their
velvet-lined cases at the elbow of a dentist.
The artist was not at this time engaged on an original sketch, his subject
being a venerable savage, whose tattooing had become somewhat faded with age
and needed a few repairs, and accordingly he was merely employed in touching up
the works of some of the old masters of the Typee school, as delineated upon
the human canvas before him. The parts operated upon were the eyelids, where a
longitudinal streak, like the one which adorned Kory Kory, crossed the
countenance of the victim.
In spite of all the efforts of the poor old man, sundry twitchings and
screwings of the muscles of the face denoted the exquisite sensibility of these
shutters to the windows of his soul, which he was now having repainted. But the
artist, with a heart as callous as that of an army surgeon, continued his
performance, enlivening his labours with a wild chant, tapping away the while
as merrily as a woodpecker.
So deeply engaged was he in his work, that he had not observed our approach,
until, after having enjoyed an unmolested view of the operation, I chose to
attract his attention. As soon as he perceived me, supposing that I sought him
in his professional capacity, he seized hold of me in a paroxysm of delight,
and was all eagerness to begin the work. When, however, I gave him to
understand that he had altogether mistaken my views, nothing could exceed his
grief and disappointment. But recovering from this, he seemed determined not to
credit my assertion, and grasping his implements, he flourished them about in
fearful vicinity to my face, going through an imaginary performance of his art,
and every moment bursting into some admiring exclamation at the beauty of his
Horrified at the bare thought of being rendered hideous for life if the wretch
were to execute his purpose upon me, I struggled to get away from him, while
Kory-Kory, turning traitor, stood by, and besought me to comply with the
outrageous request. On my reiterated refusals the excited artist got half
beside himself, and was overwhelmed with sorrow at losing so noble an
opportunity of distinguishing himself in his profession.
The idea of engrafting his tattooing upon my white skin filled him with all a
painter's enthusiasm: again and again he gazed into my countenance, and every
fresh glimpse seemed to add to the vehemence of his ambition. Not knowing to
what extremities he might proceed, and shuddering at the ruin he might inflict
upon my figure-head, I now endeavoured to draw off his attention from it, and
holding out my arm in a fit of desperation, signed to him to commence
operations. But he rejected the compromise indignantly, and still continued his
attack on my face, as though nothing short of that would satisfy him. When his
forefinger swept across my features, in laying out the borders of those
parallel bands which were to encircle my countenance, the flesh fairly crawled
upon my bones. At last, half wild with terror and indignation, I succeeded in
breaking away from the three savages, and fled towards old Marheyo's house,
pursued by the indomitable artist, who ran after me, implements in hand.
Kory-Kory, however, at last interfered, and drew him off from the chase.
This incident opened my eyes to a new danger; and I now felt convinced that in
some luckless hour I should be disfigured in such a manner as never more to
have the face to return to my countrymen, even should an opportunity offer.
These apprehensions were greatly increased by the desire which King Mehevi and
several of the inferior chiefs now manifested that I should be tattooed. The
pleasure of the king was first signified to me some three days after my casual
encounter with Karky the artist. Heavens! what imprecations I showered upon
that Karky. Doubtless he had plotted a conspiracy against me and my
countenance, and would never rest until his diabolical purpose was
accomplished. Several times I met him in various parts of the valley, and,
invariably, whenever he descried me, he came running after me with his mallet
and chisel, flourishing them about my face as if he longed to begin. What an
object he would have made of me!
When the king first expressed his wish to me, I made known to him my utter
abhorrence of the measure, and worked myself into such a state of excitement,
that he absolutely stared at me in amazement. It evidently surpassed his
majesty's comprehension how any sober-minded and sensible individual could
entertain the least possible objection to so beautifying an operation.
Soon afterwards he repeated his suggestion, and meeting with a like repulse,
showed some symptoms of displeasure at my obduracy. On his a third time
renewing his request, I plainly perceived that something must be done, or my
visage was ruined for ever; I therefore screwed up my courage to the sticking
point, and declared my willingness to have both arms tattooed from just above
the wrist to the shoulder. His majesty was greatly pleased at the proposition,
and I was congratulating myself with having thus compromised the matter, when
he intimated that as a thing of course my face was first to undergo the
operation. I was fairly driven to despair; nothing but the utter ruin of my
"face divine," as the poets call it, would, I perceived, satisfy the
inexorable Mehevi and his chiefs, or rather that infernal Karky, for he was at
the bottom of it all.
The only consolation afforded me was a choice of patterns: I was at perfect
liberty to have my face spanned by three horizontal bars, after the fashion of
my serving-man's; or to have as many oblique stripes slanting across it: or if,
like a true courtier, I chose to model my style on that of royalty, I might
wear a sort of freemason badge upon my countenance in the shape of a mystic
triangle. However, I would have none of these, though the king most earnestly
impressed upon my mind that my choice was wholly unrestricted. At last, seeing
my unconquerable repugnance, he ceased to importune me.
But not so some other of the savages. Hardly a day passed but I was subjected
to their annoying requests, until at last my existence became a burden to me;
the pleasures I had previously enjoyed no longer afforded me delight, and all
my former desire to escape from the valley now revived with additional force.
A fact which I soon afterwards learned augmented my apprehension. The whole
system of tattooing was, I found, connected with their religion; and it was
evident, therefore, that they were resolved to make a convert of me.
In the decoration of the chiefs, it seems to be necessary to exercise the most
elaborate pencilling; while some of the inferior natives looked as if they had
been daubed over indiscriminately with a house-painter's brush. I remember one
fellow who prided himself hugely upon a great oblong patch, placed high upon
his back, and who always reminded me of a man with a blister of Spanish flies
stuck between his shoulders. Another whom I frequently met had the hollow of
his eyes tattooed in two regular squares, and his visual organs being
remarkably brilliant, they gleamed forth from out this setting like a couple of
diamonds inserted in ebony.
Although convinced that tattooing was a religious observance, still the nature
of the connexion between it and servance, still the nature of the connexion
between it and the superstitious idolatry of the people was a point upon which
I could never obtain any information. Like the still more important system of
the "Taboo," it always appeared inexplicable to me.
There is a marked similarity, almost an identity, between the religious
institutions of most of the Polynesian islands, and in all exists the
mysterious "Taboo," restricted in its uses to a greater or less
extent. So strange and complex in its arrangements is this remarkable system,
that I have in several cases met with individuals who, after residing for years
among the islands in the Pacific, and acquiring a considerable knowledge of the
language, have nevertheless been altogether unable to give any satisfactory
account of its operations. Situated as I was in the Typee valley, I perceived every
hour the effects of this all-controlling power, without in the least
comprehending it. Those effects were, indeed, wide-spread and universal,
pervading the most important as well as the minutest transactions of life. The
savage, in short, lives in the continual observance of its dictates, which
guide and control every action of his being.
For several days after entering the valley I had been saluted at least fifty
times in the twenty-four hours with the talismanic word "Taboo"
shrieked in my ears, at some gross violation of its provisions, of which I had
unconsciously been guilty. The day after our arrival I happened to hand some
tobacco to Toby over the head of a native who sat between us. He started up, as
if stung by an adder; while the whole company, manifesting an equal degree of
horror, simultaneously screamed out "Taboo!" I never again
perpetrated a similar piece of ill-manners, which, indeed, was forbidden by the
canons of good breeding, as well as by the mandates of the taboo. But it was
not always so easy to perceive wherein you had contravened the spirit of this
institution. I was many times called to order, if I may use the phrase, when I
could not for the life of me conjecture what particular offence I had
One day I was strolling through a secluded portion of the valley, and hearing
the musical sound of the clothmallet at a little distance, I turned down a path
that conducted me in a few moments to a house where there were some half-dozen
girls employed in making tappa. This was an operation I had frequently
witnessed, and had handled the bark in all the various stages of its
preparation. On the present occasion the females were intent upon their
occupation, and after looking up and talking gaily to me for a few moments,
they resumed their employment. I regarded them for awhile in silence, and then,
carelessly picking up a handful of the material that lay around, proceeded
unconsciously to pick it apart. While thus engaged, I was suddenly startled by
a scream, like that of a whole boarding-school of young ladies just on the
point of going into hysterics. Leaping up with the idea of seeing a score of
Happar warriors about to perform anew the Sabine atrocity, I found myself
confronted by the company of girls, who, having dropped their work, stood
before me with starting eyes, swelling bosoms, and fingers pointed in horror
Thinking that some venomous reptile must be concealed in the bark which I held
in my hand, I began cautiously to separate and examine it. Whilst I did so the
horrified girls redoubled their shrieks. Their wild cries and frightened
motions actually alarmed me, and throwing down the tappa, I was about to rush
from the house, when in the same instant their clamours ceased, and one of
them, seizing me by the arm, pointed to the broken fibres that had just fallen
from my grasp, and screamed in my ears the fatal word "Taboo!"
I subsequently found out that the fabric they were engaged in making was of a
peculiar kind, destined to be worn on the heads of the females, and through
every stage of its manufacture was guarded by a vigorous taboo, which
interdicted the whole masculine gender from even so much as touching it.
Frequently in walking through the groves I observed bread-fruit and cocoa-nut
trees, with a wreath of leaves twined in a peculiar fashion about their trunks.
This was the mark of the taboo. The trees themselves, their fruit, and even the
shadows they cast upon the ground, were consecrated by its presence. In the
same way a pipe, which the king had bestowed upon me, was rendered sacred in
the eyes of the natives, none of whom could I ever prevail upon to smoke from
it. The bowl was encircled by a woven band of grass, somewhat resembling those
Turks' heads occasionally worked in the handles of our whip-stalks.
A similar badge was once braided about my wrist by the royal hand of Mehevi
himself, who, as soon as he had concluded the operation, pronounced me
"Taboo." This occurred shortly after Toby's disappearance; and were
it not that from the first moment I had entered the valley the natives had
treated me with uniform kindness, I should have supposed that their conduct
afterwards was to be ascribed to the fact that I received this sacred
The capricious operations of the taboo are not its least remarkable feature: to
enumerate them all would be impossible. Black hogs – infants to a certain age –
women in an interesting situation – young men while the operation of tattooing
their faces is going on – and certain parts of the valley during the continuance
of a shower – are alike fenced about by the operation of the taboo.
I witnessed a striking instance of its effects in the bay of Tior, my visit to
which place occurred a few days before leaving the ship. On that occasion our
worthy captain formed one of the party. He was a most insatiable sportsman.
Outward bound, and off the pitch of Cape Horn, he used to sit on the taffrail,
and keep the steward loading three or four old fowling-pieces, with which he
would bring down albatrosses, Cape pigeons, jays, petrels, and divers other
marine fowl, who followed chattering in our wake. The sailors were struck
aghast at his impiety, and one and all attributed our forty days' beating about
that horrid headland to his sacrilegious slaughter of these inoffensive birds.
At Tior, he evinced the same disregard for the religious prejudices of the
islanders as he had previously shown for the superstitions of the sailors.
Having heard that there were a considerable number of fowls in the valley – the
progeny of some cocks and hens accidentally left there by an English vessel,
and which, being strictly tabooed, flew about almost in a wild state – he
determined to break through all restraints, and be the death of them.
Accordingly, he provided himself with a most formidable-looking gun, and
announced his landing on the beach by shooting down a noble cock, that was
crowing what proved to be his own funeral dirge on the limb of an adjoining
tree. "Taboo," shrieked the affrighted savages. "Oh, hang your taboo,"
says the nautical sportsman; "talk taboo to the marines"; and bang
went the piece again, and down came another victim. At this the natives ran
scampering through the groves, horror-struck at the enormity of the act.
All that afternoon the rocky sides of the valley rang with successive reports,
and the superb plumage of many a beautiful fowl was ruffled by the fatal
bullet. Had it not been that the French admiral, with a large party, was then
in the glen, I have no doubt that the natives, although their tribe was small
and dispirited, would have inflicted summary vengeance upon the man who thus
outraged their most sacred institutions; as it was, they contrived to annoy him
not a little.
Thirsting with his exertions, the skipper directed his steps to a stream; but
the savages, who had followed at a little distance, perceiving his object,
rushed towards him and forced him away from its bank – his lips would have
polluted it. Wearied at last, he sought to enter a house that he might rest for
awhile on the mats; its inmates gathered tumultuously about the door and denied
him admittance. He coaxed and blustered by turns, but in vain; the natives were
neither to be intimidated nor appeased, and as a final resort he was obliged to
call together his boat's crew, and pull away from what he termed the most
infernal place he ever stepped upon.
Lucky was it for him and for us that we were not honoured on our departure by a
salute of stones from the hands of the exasperated Tiors. In this way, on the
neighbouring island of Ropo, were killed, but a few weeks previously, and for a
nearly similar offence, the
I cannot determine, with anything approaching to certainty, what power it is
that imposes the taboo. When I consider the slight disparity of condition among
the islanders – the very limited and inconsiderable prerogatives of the king
and chiefs – and the loose and indefinite functions of the priesthood, most of
whom were hardly to be distinguished from the rest of their countrymen, I am
wholly at a loss where to look for the authority which regulates this potent
institution. It is imposed upon something to-day, and withdrawn to-morrow;
while its operations in other cases are perpetual. Sometimes its restrictions
only affect a single individual – sometimes a particular family – sometimes a
whole tribe; and, in a few instances, they extend not merely over the various
clans on a single island, but over all the inhabitants of an entire group. In
illustration of this latter peculiarity, I may cite the law which forbids a
female to enter a canoe – a prohibition which prevails upon all the northern
The word itself (taboo) is used in more than one signification. It is sometimes
used by a parent to his child, when, in the exercise of parental authority, he
forbids it to perform a particular action. Anything opposed to the ordinary
customs of the islanders, although not expressly prohibited, is said to be
The Typee language is one very difficult to be acquired; it bears a close
resemblance to the other Polynesian dialects, all of which show a common
origin. The duplication of words, as "lumee lumee," "poee
poee," "muee muee," is one of their peculiar features. But
another, and a more annoying one, is the different senses in which one and the
same word is employed; its various meanings all have a certain connexion, which
only makes the matter more puzzling. So one brisk, lively little word is
obliged, like a servant in a poor family, to perform all sorts of duties. For
instance – one particular combination of syllables expresses the ideas of
sleep, rest, reclining, sitting, leaning, and all other things anyways
analogous thereto, the particular meaning being shown chiefly by a variety of
gestures, and the eloquent expression of the countenance.
CURIOUS ODDS AND ENDS
SADLY discursive as I had already been, I must still further entreat the
reader's patience, as I am about to string together, without any attempt at
order, a few odds and ends of things not hitherto mentioned, but which are
either curious in themselves, or peculiar to the Typees.
There was one singular custom, observed in old Marheyo's domestic
establishment, which often excited my surprise. Every night, before retiring,
the inmates of the house gathered together on the mats, and squatting upon
their haunches, after the universal practice of these islanders, would commence
a low, dismal, and monotonous chant, accompanying the voice with the
instrumental melody produced by two small half-rotten sticks tapped slowly
together, a pair of which were held in the hands of each person present. Thus
would they employ themselves for an hour or two, sometimes longer. Lying in the
gloom which wrapped the farther end of the house, I could not avoid looking at
them, although the spectacle suggested nothing but unpleasant reflections. The
flickering rays of the , "armor" nut just served to reveal their
savage lineaments, without dispelling the darkness that hovered about them.
Sometimes when, after falling into a kind of doze, and awaking suddenly in the
midst of these doleful chantings, my eye would fall upon the wild-looking group
engaged in their strange occupation, with their naked tattooed limbs, and
shaven heads disposed in a circle, I was almost tempted to believe that I gazed
upon a set of evil beings in the act of working a frightful incantation.
What was the meaning or purpose of this custom, whether it was practised merely
as a diversion, or whether it was a religious exercise, a sort of family
prayers, I never could discover.
The sounds produced by the natives on these occasions were of a most singular
description; and had I not actually been present, I never would have believed
that such curious noises could have been produced by human beings.
To savages, generally, is imputed a guttural articulation. This, however, is
not always the case, especially among the inhabitants of the Polynesian
Archipelago. The labial melody with which the Typee girls carry on an ordinary
conversation, giving a musical prolongation to the final syllable of every
sentence, and chirping out some of the words with a liquid, bird-like accent,
was singularly pleasing.
The men, however, are not quite so harmonious in their utterance; and when
excited upon any subject, would work themselves up into a sort of wordy
paroxysm, during which all descriptions of rough-sided sounds were projected
from their mouths, with a force and rapidity which was absolutely astonishing.
Although these savages are remarkably fond of chanting, still they appear to
have no idea whatever of singing, at least as the art is practised among other
I never shall forget the first time I happened to roar out a stave in the
presence of the noble Mehevi. It was a stanza from the "Bavarian
Broom-seller." His Typean majesty, with all his court, gazed upon me in
amazement, as if I had displayed some preternatural faculty which Heaven had
denied to them. The king was delighted with the verse; but the chorus fairly
transported him. At his solicitation, I sang it again and again, and nothing
could be more ludicrous than his vain attempts to catch the air and the words.
The royal savage seemed to think that by screwing all the features of his face
into the end of his nose, he might possibly succeed in the undertaking, but it
failed to answer the purpose; and in the end he gave it up, and consoled
himself by listening to my repetition of the sounds fifty times over.
Previous to Mehevi's making the discovery, I had never been aware that there
was anything of the nightingale about me; but I was now promoted to the place
of court minstrel, in which capacity I was afterwards perpetually called upon
Besides the sticks and the drums, there are no other musical instruments among
the Typees, except one which might appropriately be denominated a nasal flute.
It is somewhat longer than an ordinary fife, is made of a beautiful
scarlet-coloured reed, and has four or five stops, with a large hole near one
end, which latter is held just beneath the left nostril. The other nostril
being closed by a peculiar movement of the muscles about the nose, the breath
is forced into the tube, and produces a soft dulcet sound, which is varied by
the fingers running at random over the stops. This is a favourite recreation
with the females, and one in which Fayaway greatly excelled. Awkward as such an
instrument may appear, it was, in Fayaway's delicate little hands, one of the
most graceful I have ever seen. A young lady in the act of tormenting a guitar,
strung about her neck by a couple of yards of blue ribbon, is not half so
Singing was not the only means I possessed of diverting the royal Mehevi and
his easy-going subjects. Nothing afforded them more pleasure than to see me go
through the attitudes of a pugilistic encounter. As not one of the natives had
soul enough in him to stand up like a man, and allow me to hammer away at him,
for my own personal gratification and that of the king, I was necessitated to
fight with an imaginary enemy, whom I invariably made to knock under to my
superior prowess. Sometimes, when this sorely battered shadow retreated
precipitately towards a group of the savages, and, following him up, I rushed
among them, dealing my blows right and left, they would disperse in all
directions, much to the enjoyment of Mehevi, the chiefs, and themselves.
The noble art of self-defence appeared to be regarded by them as the peculiar
gift of the white man; and I make little doubt but that they supposed armies of
Europeans were drawn up provided with nothing else but bony fists and stout
hearts, with which they set to in column, and pummelled one another at the word
One day, in company with Kory-Kory, I had repaired to the stream for the
purpose of bathing, when I observed a woman sitting upon a rock in the midst of
the current, and watching with the liveliest interest the gambols of something,
which at first I took to be an uncommonly large species of frog that was
sporting in the water near her. Attracted by the novelty of the sight, I waded
towards the spot where she sat, and could hardly credit the evidence of my
senses when I beheld a little infant, the period of whose birth could not have
extended back many days, paddling about as if it had just risen to the surface,
after being hatched into existence at the bottom. Occasionally the delighted
parent reached out her hand towards it, when the little thing, uttering a faint
cry, and striking out its tiny limbs, would sidle for the rock, and the next
moment be clasped to its mother's bosom. This was repeated again and again, the
baby remaining in the stream about a minute at a time. Once or twice it made
wry faces at swallowing a mouthful of water, and choked and spluttered as if on
the point of strangling. At such times, however, the mother snatched it up, and
by a process scarcely to be mentioned obliged it to eject the fluid. For
several weeks afterwards I observed the woman bringing her child down to the
stream regularly every day, in the cool of the morning and evening, and
treating it to a bath. No wonder that the South Sea islanders are so amphibious
a race, when they are thus launched into the water as soon as they see the
light. I am convinced that it is as natural for a human being to swim as it is
for a duck. And yet, in civilized communities, how many able-bodied individuals
die, like so many drowning kittens, from the occurrence of the most trivial
The long, luxuriant, and glossy tresses of the Typee damsels often attracted my
admiration. A fine head of hair is the pride and joy of every woman's heart!
Whether, against the express will of Providence, it is twisted up on the crown
of the head and there coiled away; whether it be built up in a great tower,
with combs and pins, or is plastered over the head in sleek, shiny folds; or
whether it be permitted to flow over the shoulders in natural ringlets, it is
always the pride of the owner, and the glory of the toilette.
The Typee girls devote much of their time to the dressing of their hair and
redundant locks. After bathing, as they sometimes do five or six times every day,
the hair is carefully dried, and if they have been in the sea, invariably
washed in fresh water, and anointed with a highly-scented oil extracted from
the meat of the cocoa-nut. This oil is obtained in great abundance, by the
following very simple process:-
A large vessel of wood, with holes perforated in the bottom, is filled with the
pounded meat, and exposed to the rays of the sun. As the oleaginous matter
exudes, it falls in drops through the apertures into a wide-mouthed calabash
placed underneath. After a sufficient quantity has thus been collected, the oil
undergoes a purifying process, and is then poured into the small spherical
shells of the nuts of the moo-tree, which are hollowed out to receive it. These
nuts are then hermetically sealed with a resinous gum, and the vegetable
fragrance of their green rind soon imparts to the oil a delightful odour. After
the lapse of a few weeks, the exterior shell of the nuts becomes quite dry and
hard, and assumes a beautiful carnation tint; and when opened they are found to
be about two-thirds full of an ointment of a light yellow colour, and diffusing
the sweetest perfume. This elegant little odorous globe would not be out of
place even upon the toilette of a queen. Its merits as a preparation for the hair
are undeniable, – it imparts to it a superb gloss and a silky fineness.
A FRIGHTFUL DISCOVERY
FROM the time of my casual encounter with Karky the artist, my life was one of
absolute wretchedness. Not a day passed but I was persecuted by the
solicitations of some of the natives to subject myself to the odious operation
of tattooing. Their importunities drove me half wild, for I felt how easily
they might work their will upon me regarding this, or anything else which they
took into their heads. Still, however, the behaviour of the islanders towards
me was as kind as ever. Fayaway was quite as engaging; Kory-Kory as devoted;
and Mehevi the king just as gracious and condescending as before. But I had now
been three months in their valley, as nearly as I could estimate; I had grown
familiar with the narrow limits to which my wanderings had been confined; and I
began bitterly to feel the state of captivity in which I was held. There was no
one with whom I could freely converse; no one to whom I could communicate my
thoughts; no one who could sympathize with my sufferings. A thousand times I
thought how much more endurable would have been my lot had Toby still been with
me. But I was left alone, and the thought was terrible to me. Still, despite my
griefs, I did all in my power to appear composed and cheerful, well knowing
that by manifesting any uneasiness, or any desire to escape, I should only
frustrate my object.
It was during the period I was in this unhappy frame of mind, that the painful
malady under which I had been labouring – after having almost completely
subsided – began again to show itself, and with symptoms as violent as ever.
This added calamity nearly unmanned me; the recurrence of the complaint proved
that, without powerful remedial applications, all hope of cure was futile; and
when I reflected that just beyond the elevations which bound me in, was the
medical relief I needed, and that, although so near, it was impossible for me
to avail myself of it, the thought was misery.
In this wretched situation every circumstance which evinced the savage nature
of the beings at whose mercy I was, augmented the fearful apprehensions that
consumed me. An occurrence which happened about this time affected me most
I have already mentioned, that from the ridge-pole of Marheyo's house were
suspended a number of packages enveloped in tappa. Many of these I had often
seen in the hands of the natives, and their contents had been examined in my
presence. But there were three packages hanging very nearly over the place
where I lay, which from their remarkable appearance had often excited my
curiosity. Several times I had asked Kory-Kory to show me their contents; but
my servitor, who in almost every other particular had acceded to my wishes, always
refused to gratify me in this.
One day, returning unexpectedly from the Ti, my arrival seemed to throw the
inmates of the house into the greatest confusion. They were seated together on
the mats, and by the lines which extended from the roof to the floor I
immediately perceived that the mysterious packages were, for some purpose or
other, under inspection. The evident alarm the savages betrayed filled me with
forebodings of evil, and with an uncontrollable desire to penetrate the secret
so jealously guarded. Despite the efforts of Marheyo and Kory-Kory to restrain
me, I forced my way into the midst of the circle, and just caught a glimpse of
three human heads, which others of the party were hurriedly enveloping in the
coverings from which they had been taken.
One of the three I distinctly saw. It was in a state of perfect preservation,
and from the slight glimpse I had of it, seemed to have been subjected to some
smoking operation which had reduced it to the dry, hard, and mummylike
appearance it presented. The two long scalp-locks were twisted up into balls
upon the crown of the head, in the same way that the individual had worn them
during life. The sunken cheeks were rendered yet more ghastly by the rows of
glistening teeth which protruded from between the lips, while the sockets of
the eyes – filled with oval bits of mother-of-pearl shell, with a black spot in
the centre – heightened the hideousness of its aspect.
Two of the three were heads of the islanders; but the third, to my horror, was
that of a white man. Although it had been quickly removed from my sight, still
the glimpse I had of it was enough to convince me that I could not be mistaken.
Gracious God! what dreadful thoughts entered my mind. In solving this mystery,
perhaps I had solved another, and the fate of my lost companion might be
revealed in the shocking spectacle I had just witnessed. I longed to have tom
off the folds of cloth, and satisfied the awful doubts under which I laboured.
But before I had recovered from the consternation into which I had been thrown,
the fatal packages were hoisted aloft and once more swung over my head. The
natives now gathered round me tumultuously, and laboured to convince me that
what I had just seen were the heads of three Happar warriors, who had been
slain in battle. This glaring falsehood added to my alarm, and it was not until
I reflected that I had observed the packages swinging from their elevation
before Toby's disappearance, that I could at all recover my composure.
But although this horrible apprehension had been dispelled, I had discovered
enough to fill me, in my present state of mind, with the most bitter
reflections. It was plain that I had seen the last relic of some unfortunate
wretch, who must have been massacred on the beach by the savages, in one of
those perilous trading adventures which I have before described.
It was not, however, alone the murder of the stranger that overcame me with
gloom. I shuddered at the idea of the subsequent fate his inanimate body might
have met with. Was the same doom reserved for me? Was I destined to perish like
him – like him, perhaps, to be devoured, and my head to be preserved as a
fearful memento of the event? My imagination ran riot in these horrid
speculations, and I felt certain that the worst possible evils would befall me.
But whatever were my misgivings, I studiously concealed them from the
islanders, as well as the full extent of the discovery I had made.
Although the assurances which the Typees had often given me, that they never
ate human flesh, had not convinced me that such was the case, yet, having been
so long a time in the valley without witnessing anything which indicated the
existence of the practice, I began to hope that it was an event of very rare
occurrence, and that I should be spared the horror of witnessing it during my
stay among them: but, alas! these hopes were soon destroyed.
It is a singular fact, that in all our accounts of cannibal tribes we have
seldom received the testimony of an eyewitness to the revolting practice. The
horrible conclusion has almost always been derived either from the second-hand
evidence of Europeans, or else from the admissions of the savages themselves,
after they have in some degree become civilized. The Polynesians are aware of
the detestation in which Europeans hold this custom, and therefore invariably
deny its existence, and, with the craft peculiar to savages, endeavour to
conceal every trace of it.
But to my story.
About a week after my discovery of the contents of the mysterious packages, I
happened to be at the Ti, when another war-alarm was sounded, and the natives,
rushing to their arms, sallied out to resist a second incursion of the Happar
invaders. The same scene was again repeated, only that on this occasion I heard
at least fifteen reports of muskets from the mountains during the time that the
skirmish lasted. An hour or two after its termination, loud paeans chanted
through the valley announced the approach of the victors. I stood with
Kory-Kory leaning against the railing of the pi-pi, awaiting their advance,
when a tumultuous crowd of islanders emerged with wild clamours from the
neighbouring groves. In the midst of them marched four men, one preceding the
other at regular intervals of eight or ten feet, with poles of a corresponding
length, extending from shoulder to shoulder, to which were lashed with thongs
of bark three long narrow bundles, carefully wrapped in ample coverings of
freshly plucked palm-leaves, tacked together with slivers of bamboo. Here and
there upon these green winding-sheets might be seen the stains of blood, while
the warriors who carried the frightful burdens displayed upon their naked limbs
similar sanguinary marks. The shaven head of the foremost had a deep gash upon
it, and the clotted gore which had flowed from the wound remained in dry
patches around it. The savage seemed to be sinking under the weight he bore.
The bright tattooing upon his body was covered with blood and dust; his
inflamed eyes rolled in their sockets, and his whole appearance denoted extraordinary
suffering and exertion; yet, sustained by some powerful impulse, he continued
to advance, while the throng around him with wild cheers sought to encourage
him. The other three men were marked about the arms and breasts with several
slight wounds, which they somewhat ostentatiously displayed.
These four individuals, having been the most active in the late encounter,
claimed the honour of bearing the bodies of their slain enemies to the Ti. Such
was the conclusion I drew from my own observations, and, as far as I could
understand, from the explanation which Kory-Kory gave me.
The royal Mehevi walked by the side of these heroes. He carried in one hand a
musket, from the barrel of which was suspended a small canvas pouch of powder,
and in the other he grasped a short javelin, which he held before him and
regarded with fierce exultation. This javelin he had wrested from a celebrated
champion of the Happars, who had ignominiously fled, and was pursued by his
foes beyond the summit of the mountain.
When within a short distance of the Ti, the warrior with the wounded head, who
proved to be Narmonee, tottered forward two or three steps, and fell helplessly
to the ground; but not before another had caught the end of the pole from his
shoulder, and placed it upon his own.
The excited throng of islanders, who surrounded the person of the king and the
dead bodies of the enemy, approached the spot where I stood, brandishing their
rude implements of warfare, many of which were bruised and broken, and uttering
continual shouts of triumph. When the crowd drew up opposite the Ti, I set
myself to watch their proceedings most attentively; but scarcely had they
halted when my servitor, who had left my side for an instant, touched my arm,
and proposed our returning to Marheyo's house. To this I objected; but, to my
surprise, Kory-Kory reiterated his request, and with an unusual vehemence of
manner. Still, however, I refused to comply, and was retreating before him, as
in his importunity he pressed upon me, when I felt a heavy hand laid upon my
shoulder, and turning round, encountered the bulky form of Mow-Mow, a one-eyed
chief, who had just detached himself from the crowd below, and had mounted the
rear of the pi-pi upon which we stood. His cheek had been pierced by the point
of a spear, and the wound imparted a still more frightful expression to his
hideously tattooed face, already deformed by the loss of an eye. The warrior,
without uttering a syllable, pointed fiercely in the direction of Marheyo's
house, while Kory-Kory, at the same time presenting his back, desired me to
I declined this offer, but intimated my willingness to withdraw, and moved
slowly along the piazza, wondering what could be the cause of this unusual
treatment. A few minutes' consideration convinced me that the savages were
about to celebrate some hideous rite in connexion with their peculiar customs,
and at which they were determined I should not be present. I descended from the
pi-pi, and attended by Kory-Kory, who on this occasion did not show his usual
commiseration for my lameness, but seemed only anxious to hurry me on, walked
away from the place. As I passed through the noisy throng, which by this time
completely environed the Ti, I looked with fearful curiosity at the three
packages, which now were deposited upon the ground; but although I had no doubt
as to their contents, still their thick coverings prevented my actually
detecting the form of a human body.
The next morning, shortly after sunrise, the same thundering sounds which had
awakened me from sleep on the second day of the Feast of Calabashes, assured me
that the savages were on the eve of celebrating another, and, as I fully
believed, a horrible solemnity.
All the inmates of the house, with the exception of Marheyo, his son, and
Tinor, after assuming their gala dresses, departed in the direction of the
Although I did not anticipate a compliance with my request, still, with a view
of testing the truth of my suspicions, I proposed to Kory-Kory that, according
to our usual custom in the morning, we should take a stroll to the Ti: he
positively refused; and when I renewed the request, he evinced his
determination to prevent my going there; and, to divert my mind from the
subject, he offered to accompany me to the stream. We accordingly went, and
bathed. On our coming back to the house, I was surprised to find that all its
inmates had returned, and were lounging upon the mats as usual, although the
drums still sounded from the groves.
The rest of the day I spent with Kory-Kory and Fayaway, wandering about a part
of the valley situated in an opposite direction from the Ti, and whenever I so
much as looked towards that building, although it was hidden from view by
intervening trees, and at the distance of more than a mile, my attendant would
exclaim, Taboo, taboo!
At the various houses where we stopped, I found many of the inhabitants
reclining at their ease, or pursuing some light occupation, as if nothing
unusual were going forward; but amongst them all I did not perceive a single
chief or warrior. When I asked several of the people why they were not at the
"Hoolah Hoolah" (the feast), they uniformly answered the question in
a manner which implied that it was not intended for them, but for Mehevi,
Narmonee, Mow-Mow, Kolor, Womonoo, Kalow, running over, in their desire to make
me comprehend their meaning, the name of all the principal chiefs.
Everything, in short, strengthened my suspicions with regard to the nature of
the festival they were now celebrating; and which amounted almost to a
certainty. While in Nukuheva I had frequently been informed that the whole
tribe were never present at these cannibal banquets, but the chiefs and priests
only; and everything I now observed agreed with the account.
The sound of the drums continued without intermission the whole day, and
falling continually upon my ear, caused me a sensation of horror which I am
unable to describe. On the following day, hearing none of those noisy
indications of revelry, I concluded that the inhuman feast was terminated, and
feeling a kind of morbid curiosity to discover whether the Ti might furnish any
evidence of what had taken place there, I proposed to Kory-Kory to walk there.
To this proposition he replied by pointing with his finger to the newly-risen
sun, and then up to the zenith, intimating that our visit must be deferred
until noon. Shortly after that hour we accordingly proceeded to the Taboo
Groves, and as soon as we entered their precincts, I looked fearfully round in
quest of some memorial of the scene which had so lately been acted there; but
everything appeared as usual. On reaching the Ti, we found Mehevi and a few
chiefs reclining on the mats, who gave me as friendly a reception as ever. No
allusions of any kind were made by them to the recent events; and I refrained,
for obvious reasons, from referring to them myself.
After staying a short time, I took my leave. In passing along the piazza,
previously to descending from the pi-pi, I observed a curiously carved vessel
of wood, of considerable size, with a cover placed over it, of the same
material, and which resembled in shape a small canoe. It was surrounded by a
low railing of bamboos, the top of which was scarcely a foot from the ground.
As the vessel had been placed in its present position since my last visit, I at
once concluded that it must have some connexion with the recent festival; and,
prompted by a curiosity I could not repress, in passing it I raised one end of
the cover; at the same moment the chiefs, perceiving my design, loudly
ejaculated, "Taboo! taboo!" But the slight glimpse sufficed; my eyes
fell upon the disordered members of a human skeleton, the bones still fresh
with moisture, and with particles of flesh clinging to them here and there!
Kory-Kory, who had been a little in advance of me, attracted by the
exclamations of the chiefs, turned round in time to witness the expression of
horror on my countenance. He now hurried towards me, pointing at the same time
to the canoe, and exclaiming, rapidly, "Puarkee! puarkee!" (Pig,
pig). I pretended to yield to the deception, and repeated the words after him
several times, as though acquiescing in what he said. The other savages, either
deceived by my conduct, or unwilling to manifest their displeasure at what
could not now be remedied, took no further notice of the occurrence, and I
immediately left the Ti.
All that night I lay awake, revolving in my mind the fearful situation in which
I was placed. The last horrid revelation had now been made, and the full sense
of my condition rushed upon my mind with a force I had never before
Where, thought I, desponding, is there the slightest prospect of escape? The
only person who seemed to possess the ability to assist me was the stranger,
Marnoo; but would he ever return to the valley? and if he did, should I be
permitted to hold any communication with him? It seemed as if I were cut off
from every source of hope, and that nothing remained but passively to await
whatever fate was in store for me. A thousand times I endeavoured to account
for the mysterious conduct of the natives. For what conceivable purpose did
they thus retain me a captive? What could be their object in treating me with
such apparent kindness, and did it not cover some treacherous scheme? Or, if
they had no other design than to hold me a prisoner, how should I be able to
pass away my days in this narrow valley, deprived of all intercourse with
civilized beings, and for ever separated from friends and home?
One only hope remained to me. The French could not long defer a visit to the
bay, and if they should permanently locate any of their troops in the valley,
the savages could not for any length of time conceal my existence from them.
But what reason had I to suppose that I should be spared until such an event
occurred – an event which might be postponed by a hundred different
"MARNOO, Marnoo pemi!" Such were the welcome sounds which fell upon
my ear some ten days after the event related in the preceding chapter. Once
more the approach of the stranger was heralded, and the intelligence operated
upon me like magic. Again I should be able to converse with him in my own
language; and I resolved, at all hazards, to concert with him some scheme,
however desperate, to rescue me from a condition that had now become
As he drew near, I remembered with many misgivings the inauspicious termination
of our former interview; and when he entered the house, I watched with intense
anxiety the reception he met with from its inmates. To my joy, his appearance
was hailed with the liveliest pleasure; and accosting me kindly, he seated
himself by my side, and entered into conversation with the natives around him.
It soon appeared, however, that on this occasion he had not any intelligence of
importance to communicate. I inquired of him from whence he had last come? He
replied, from Pueearka, his native valley, and that he intended to return to it
the same day.
At once it struck me that, could I but reach that valley under his protection,
I might easily from thence reach Nukuheva by water; and, animated by the
prospect which this plan held out, I disclosed it in a few brief words to the
stranger, and asked him how it could be best accomplished. My heart sank within
me when, in his broken English, he answered me that it could never be effected.
"Kannaka no let you go nowhere," he said, "you taboo. Why you no
like to stay? Plenty moee-moee (sleep) – plenty ki-ki (eat) – plenty whihenee
(young girls). Oh, very good place, Typee! Suppose you no like this bay, why
you come? You no hear about Typee? All white men afraid Typee, so no white men
These words distressed me beyond belief; and when I again related to him the
circumstances under which I had descended into the valley, and sought to enlist
his sympathies in my behalf, by appealing to the bodily misery I endured, he
listened to me with impatience, and cut me short by exclaiming, passionately,
"Me no hear you talk any more; by Kannaka get mad, kill you and me too.
No, you see he no want you to speak to me at all? – you see – ah! by by you no
mind – you get well, he kill you, eat you, hang your head up there, like Happar
Kannaka. Now you listen – but no talk any more. By by I go; you see way I go.
Ah! then some night Kannaka all moee-moee (sleep) – you run away – you come
Pueearka. I speak Pueearka Kannaka – he no harm you – ah! then I take you my
canoe Nukuheva, and you no run away ship no more." With these words,
enforced by a vehemence of gesture I cannot describe, Marnoo started from my
side, and immediately engaged in conversation with some of the chiefs who had
entered the house.
It would have been idle for me to have attempted resuming the interview so
peremptorily terminated by Marnoo, who was evidently little disposed to
compromise his own safety by any rash endeavours to ensure mine. But the plan
he had suggested struck me as one which might possibly be accomplished, and I
resolved to act upon it as speedily as possible.
Accordingly, when he arose to depart, I accompanied him, with the natives,
outside of the house, with a view of carefully noting the path he would take in
leaving the valley. Just before leaping from the pi-pi, he clasped my hand,
and, looking significantly at me, exclaimed, "Now you see – you do what I
tell you – ah! then you do good; – you no do so – ah! then you die." The
next moment he waved his spear in adieu to the islanders, and, following the
route that conducted to a defile in the mountains lying opposite the Happar
side, was soon out of sight.
A mode of escape was now presented to me; but how was I to avail myself of it?
I was continually surrounded by the savages; I could not stir from one house to
another without being attended by some of them; and even during the hours
devoted to slumber, the slightest movement which I made seemed to attract the
notice of those who shared the mats with me. In spite of these obstacles,
however, I determined forthwith to make the attempt. To do so with any prospect
of success, it was necessary that I should have at least two hours' start
before the islanders should discover my absence; for with such facility was any
alarm spread through the valley, and so familiar, of course, were the
inhabitants with the intricacies of the groves, that I could not hope, lame and
feeble as I was, and ignorant of the route, to secure my escape unless I had
this advantage. It was also by night alone that I could hope to accomplish my
object, and then only by adopting the utmost precaution.
The entrance to Marheyo's habitation was through a low narrow opening in its
wicker-work front. This passage, for no conceivable reason that I could devise,
was always closed after the household had retired to rest, by drawing a heavy
slide across it, composed of a dozen or more bits of wood, ingeniously fastened
together by seizings of sinnate. When any of the inmates chose to go outside,
the noise occasioned by the removing of this rude door awakened everybody else;
and on more than one occasion I had remarked that the islanders were nearly as
irritable as more civilized beings under similar circumstances.
The difficulty thus placed in my way I determined to obviate in the following
manner. I would get up boldly in the course of the night, and, drawing the
slide, issue from the house, and pretend that my object was merely to procure a
drink from the calabash, which always stood without the dwelling on the corner
of the pi-pi. On re-entering I would purposely omit closing the passage after
me, and trusting that the indolence of the savages would prevent them from
repairing my neglect, would return to my mat, and waiting patiently until all
were again asleep, I would then steal forth, and at once take the route to
The very night which followed Marnoo's departure, I proceeded to put this
project into execution. About midnight, as I imagined, I arose and drew the
slide. The natives, just as I had expected, started up, while some of them
asked, "Arware poo awa, Tommo?" (where are you going, Tommo?)
"Wai," (water,) I laconically answered, grasping the calabash. On
hearing my reply they sank back again, and in a minute or two I returned to my
mat, anxiously awaiting the result of the experiment.
One after another the savages, turning restlessly, appeared to resume their
slumbers, and, rejoicing at the stillness which prevailed, I was about to rise
again from my couch, when I heard a slight rustling – a dark form was
intercepted between me and the doorway – the slide was drawn across it, and the
individual, whoever he was, returned to his mat. This was a sad blow to me; but
as it might have aroused the suspicions of the islanders to have made another
attempt that night, I was reluctantly obliged to defer it until the next.
Several times after I repeated the same manoeuvre, but with as little success
as before. As my pretence for withdrawing from the house was to allay my
thirst, Kory-Kory, either suspecting some design on my part, or else prompted
by a desire to please me, regularly every evening placed a calabash of water by
Even under these inauspicious circumstances I again and again renewed the
attempt; but when I did so, my valet always rose with me, as if determined I
should not remove myself from his observation. For the present, therefore, I
was obliged to abandon the attempt; but I endeavoured to console myself with
the idea, that by this mode I might yet effect my escape.
Shortly after Marnoo's visit I was reduced to such a state, that it was with
extreme difficulty I could walk, even with the assistance of a spear, and Kory-Kory,
as formerly, was obliged to carry me daily to the stream.
For hours and hours, during the warmest part of the day, I lay upon my mat, and
while those around me were nearly all dozing away in careless ease, I remained
awake, gloomily pondering over the fate which it appeared now idle for me to
resist. When I thought of the loved friends who were thousands and thousands of
miles from the savage island in which I was held a captive – when I reflected
that my dreadful fate would for ever be concealed from them, and that, with
hope deferred, they might continue to await my return long after my inanimate
form had blended with the dust of the valley, I could not repress a shudder of
How vividly is impressed upon my mind every minute feature of the scene which
met my view during those long days of suffering and sorrow. At my request my
mats were always spread directly facing the door, opposite which, and at a
little distance, was the hut of boughs that Marheyo was building.
Whenever my gentle Fayaway and Kory-Kory, laying themselves down beside me,
would leave me awhile to uninterrupted repose, I took a strange interest in the
slightest movements of the eccentric old warrior. All alone, during the
stillness of the tropical mid-day, he would pursue his quiet work, sitting in
the shade and weaving together the leaflets of his cocoa-nut branches, or
rolling upon his knee the twisted fibres of bark to form the cords with which
he tied together the thatching of his tiny house. Frequently suspending his employment,
and noticing my melancholy eye fixed upon him, he would raise his hand with a
gesture expressive of deep commiseration, and then, moving towards me slowly,
would enter on tip-toes, fearful of disturbing the slumbering natives, and,
taking the fan from my hand, would sit before me, swaying it gently to and fro,
and gazing earnestly into my face.
Just beyond the pi-pi, and disposed in a triangle before the entrance of the
house, were three magnificent bread-fruit trees. At this moment I can recall to
my mind their slender shafts, and the graceful inequalities of their bark, on
which my eyes were accustomed to dwell, day after day, in the midst of my
solitary musings. It is strange how inanimate objects will twine themselves
into our affections, especially in the hour of affliction. Even now, amidst all
the bustle and stir of the proud and busy city in which I am dwelling, the
image of those three trees seems to come as vividly before my eyes as if they
were actually present, and I still feel the soothing quiet pleasure which I
then had in watching, hour after hour, their topmost boughs waving gracefully
in the breeze.
NEARLY three weeks had elapsed since the second visit of Marnoo, and it must
have been more than four months since I entered the valley, when one day, about
noon, and whilst everything was in profound silence, Mow-Mow, the one-eyed
chief, suddenly appeared at the door, and leaning forwards towards me as I lay
directly facing him, said, in a low tone, "Toby pemi ena," (Toby has
arrived here.) Gracious heaven! What a tumult of emotions rushed upon me at
this startling intelligence! Insensible to the pain that had before distracted
me, I leaped to my feet, and called wildly to Kory-Kory, who was reposing by my
side. The startled islanders sprang from their mats; the news was quickly
communicated to them; and the next moment I was making my way to the Ti on the
back of Kory-Kory, and surrounded by the excited savages.
All that I could comprehend of the particulars which Mow-Mow rehearsed to his
auditors as we proceeded, was that my long-lost companion had arrived in a boat
which had just entered the bay. These tidings made me most anxious to be
carried at once to the sea, lest some untoward circumstance should prevent our
meeting; but to this they would not consent, and continued their course towards
the royal abode. As we approached it, Mehevi and several chiefs showed
themselves from the piazza, and called upon us loudly to come to them.
As soon as we had approached, I endeavoured to make them understand that I was
going down to the sea to meet Toby. To this the king objected, and motioned
Kory-Kory to bring me into the house. It was in vain to resist; and in a few
moments I found myself within the Ti, surrounded by a noisy group engaged in
discussing the recent intelligence. Toby's name was frequently repeated,
coupled with violent exclamations of astonishment. It seemed as if they yet
remained in doubt with regard to the fact of his arrival, and at every fresh report
that was brought from the shore they betrayed the liveliest emotions.
Almost frenzied at being held in this state of suspense, I passionately
besought Mehevi to permit me to proceed. Whether my companion had arrived or
not, I felt a presentiment that my own fate was about to be decided. Again and
again I renewed my petition to Mehevi. He regarded me with a fixed and serious
eye, but at length, yielding to my importunity, reluctantly granted my request.
Accompanied by some fifty of the natives, I now rapidly continued my journey,
every few moments being transferred from the back of one to another, and urging
my bearer forward all the while with earnest entreaties. As I thus hurried
forward, no doubt as to the truth of the information I had received ever
crossed my mind. I was alive only to the one overwhelming idea, that a chance
of deliverance was now afforded me, if the jealous opposition of the savages
could be overcome.
Having been prohibited from approaching the sea during the whole of my stay in
the valley, I had always associated with it the idea of escape. Toby, too – if
indeed he had ever voluntarily deserted me – must have effected his flight by
the sea; and now that I was drawing near to it myself, I indulged in hopes
which I had never felt before. It was evident that a boat had entered the bay,
and I saw little reason to doubt the truth of the report that it had brought my
companion. Every time, therefore, that we gained an elevation, I looked eagerly
around, hoping to behold him.
In the midst of an excited throng, who by their violent gestures and wild cries
appeared to be under the influence of some excitement as strong as my own, I
was now borne along at a rapid trot, frequently stooping my head to avoid the
branches which crossed the path, and never ceasing to implore those who carried
me to accelerate their already swift pace.
In this manner we had proceeded about four or five miles, when we were met by a
party of some twenty islanders, between whom and those who accompanied me
ensued an animated conference. Impatient of the delay occasioned by this
interruption, I was beseeching the man who carried me to proceed without his
loitering companions, when Kory-Kory, running to my side, informed me, in three
fatal words, that the news had all proved false – that Toby had not arrived –
"Toby owlee permi." Heaven only knows how, the state of mind and body
then was, I ever sustained the agony which this intelligence caused me; not
that the news was altogether unexpected, but I had trusted that the fact might
not have been made known until we should have arrived upon the beach. As it
was, I at once foresaw the course the savages would pursue. They had only
yielded thus far to my entreaties, that I might give a joyful welcome to my
long-lost comrade; but now that it was known he had not arrived, they would at
once oblige me to turn back.
My anticipations were but too correct. In spite of the resistance I made, they
carried me into a house which was near the spot, and left me upon the mats.
Shortly afterwards, several of those who had accompanied me from the Ti,
detaching themselves from the others, proceeded in the direction of the sea.
Those who remained – among whom were Marheyo, Mow-Mow, Kory-Kory, and Tinor –
gathered about the dwelling, and appeared to be awaiting their return.
This convinced me that strangers – perhaps some of my own countrymen – had for
some cause or other entered the bay. Distracted at the idea of their vicinity,
and reckless of the pain which I suffered, I heeded not the assurance of the
islanders that there were no boats at the beach, but, starting to my feet,
endeavoured to gain the door. Instantly the passage was blocked up by several
men, who commanded me to resume my seat. The fierce looks of the irritated
savages admonished me that I could gain nothing by force, and that it was by
entreaty alone that I could hope to compass my object.
Guided by this consideration, I turned to Mow-Mow, the only chief present, whom
I had been much in the habit of seeing, and, carefully concealing my real
design, tried to make him comprehend that I still believed Toby to have arrived
on the shore, and besought him to allow me to go forward to welcome him. To all
his repeated assertions that my companion had not been seen, I pretended to turn
a deaf ear: while I urged my solicitations with an eloquence of gesture which
the one-eyed chief appeared unable to resist. He seemed, indeed, to regard me
as a froward child, to whose wishes he had not the heart to oppose force, and
whom he must consequently humour. He spoke a few words to the natives, who at
once retreated from the door, and I immediately passed out of the house.
Here I looked earnestly round for Kory-Kory; but that hitherto faithful
servitor was nowhere to be seen. Unwilling to linger even for a single instant
when every moment might be so important, I motioned to a muscular fellow near
me to take me upon his back: to my surprise he angrily refused. I turned to
another, but with a like result. A third attempt was as unsuccessful, and I
immediately perceived what had induced Mow-Mow to grant my request, and why the
other natives conducted themselves in so strange a manner. It was evident that
the chief had only given me liberty to continue my progress towards the sea,
because he supposed that I was deprived of the means of reaching it.
Convinced by this of their determination to retain me a captive, I became
desperate; and almost insensible to the pain which I suffered, I seized a spear
which was leaning against the projecting eaves of the house, and, supporting
myself with it, resumed the path that swept by the dwelling. To my surprise, I
was suffered to proceed alone, all the natives remaining in front of the house,
and engaging in earnest conversation, which every moment became more loud and
vehement; and, to my unspeakable delight, I perceived that some difference of
opinion had arisen between them; that two parties, in short, were formed, and
consequently that, in their divided counsels, there was some chance of my
Before I had proceeded a hundred yards I was again surrounded by the savages,
who were still in all the heat of argument, and appeared every moment as if
they would come to blows. In the midst of this tumult old Marheyo came to my
side, and I shall never forget the benevolent expression of his countenance. He
placed his arm upon my shoulder, and emphatically pronounced one expressive
English word I had taught him – "Home." I at once understood what he
meant, and eagerly expressed my thanks to him. Fayaway and Kory-Kory were by
his side, both weeping violently; and it was not until the old man had twice
repeated the command that his son could bring himself to obey him, and take me
again upon his back. The one-eyed chief opposed his doing so, but he was
overruled, and, as it seemed to me, by some of his own party.
We proceeded onwards, and never shall I forget the ecstasy I felt when I first
heard the roar of the surf breaking upon the beach. Before long, I saw the
flashing billows themselves through the opening between the trees. Oh! glorious
sight and sound of ocean! with what rapture did I hall you as familiar friends.
By this time the shouts of the crowd upon the beach were distinctly audible,
and in the blended confusion of sounds I almost fancied I could distinguish the
voices of my own countrymen.
When we reached the open space which lay between the groves and the sea, the
first object that met my view was an English whale-boat, lying with her bow
pointed from the shore, and only a few fathoms distant from it. It was manned
by five islanders, dressed in short tunics of calico. My first impression was,
that they were in the very act of pulling out from the bay; and that, after all
my exertions, I had come too late. My soul sank within me: but a second glance convinced
me that the boat was only hanging off to keep out of the surf; and the next
moment I heard my own name shouted out by a voice from the midst of the crowd.
Looking in the direction of the sound, I perceived, to my indescribable joy,
the tall figure of Karakoee, an Oahu Kannaka, who had often been aboard the
Dolly while she lay in Nukuheva. He wore the green shooting-jacket, with gilt
buttons, which had been given to him by an officer of the Reine Blanche – the
French flag-ship – and in which I had always seen him dressed. I now remembered
the Kannaka had frequently told me that his person was tabooed in all the
valleys of the island, and the sight of him at such a moment as this filled my
heart with a tumult of delight.
Karakoee stood near the edge of the water with a large roll of cotton-cloth
thrown over one arm, and holding two or three canvas bags of powder, while with
the other hand he grasped a musket, which he appeared to be proffering to
several of the chiefs around him. But they turned with disgust from his offers,
and seemed to be impatient at his presence, with vehement gestures waving him
off to his boat, and commanding him to depart.
The Kannaka, however, still maintained his ground, and I at once perceived that
he was seeking to purchase my freedom. Animated by the idea, I called upon him
loudly to come to me; but he replied, in broken English, that the islanders had
threatened to pierce him with their spears, if he stirred a foot towards me. At
this time I was still advancing, surrounded by a dense throng of the natives,
several of whom had their hands upon me, and more than one javelin was
threateningly pointed at me. Still I perceived clearly that many of those least
friendly towards me looked irresolute and anxious.
I was still some thirty yards from Karakoee, when my further progress was
prevented by the natives, who compelled me to sit down upon the ground, while
they still retained their hold upon my arms. The din and tumult now became
tenfold, and I perceived that several of the priests were on the spot, all of
whom were evidently urging Mow-Mow and the other chiefs to prevent my
departure; and the detestable word – "Roo-ne! Roo-ne!" which I had
heard repeated a thousand times during the day, was now shouted out on every
side of me. Still I saw that the Kannaka continued his exertions in my favour –
that he was boldly debating the matter with the savages, and was striving to
entice them by displaying his cloth and powder, and snapping the lock of his
musket. But all he said or did appeared only to augment the clamours of those
around him, who seemed bent upon driving him into the sea.
When I remembered the extravagant value placed by these people upon the
articles which were offered to them in exchange for me, and which were so indignantly
rejected, I saw a new proof of the same fixed determination of purpose they had
all along manifested with regard to me, and in despair, and reckless of
consequences, I exerted all my strength, and, shaking myself free from the
grasp of those who held me, I sprang upon my feet and rushed towards Karakoee.
The rash attempt nearly decided my fate! for, fearful that I might slip from
them, several of the islanders now raised a simultaneous shout, and pressing
upon Karakoee, they menaced him with furious gestures, and actually forced him
into the sea. Appalled at their violence, the poor fellow, standing nearly to
the waist in the surf, endeavoured to pacify them; but at length, fearful that
they would do to pacify him some fatal violence, he beckoned to his comrades to
pull in at once, and take him into the boat.
It was at this agonizing moment, when I thought all hope was ended, that a new
contest arose between the two parties who had accompanied me to the shore;
blows were struck, wounds were given, and blood flowed. In the interest excited
by the fray, every one had left me except Marheyo, Kory-Kory, and poor dear
Fayaway, who clung to me, sobbing convulsively. I saw that now or never was the
moment. Clasping my hands together, I looked imploringly at Marheyo, and moved
towards the now almost deserted beach. The tears were in the old man's eyes,
but neither he nor Kory-Kory attempted to hold me, and I soon reached the
Kannaka, who had anxiously watched my movements; the rowers pulled in as near
as they dared to the edge of the surf; I gave one parting embrace to Fayaway,
who seemed speechless with sorrow, and the next instant I found myself safe in
the boat, and Karakoee by my side, who told the rowers at once to give way.
Marheyo and Kory-Kory, and a great many of the women, followed me into the
water, and I was determined, as the only mark of gratitude I could show, to
give them the articles which had been brought as my ransom. I handed the musket
to Kory-Kory, in doing which he would fain have taken hold of me, threw the
roll of cotton to old Marheyo, pointing as I did so to poor Fayaway, who had
retired from the edge of the water, and was sitting down disconsolate on the
beach, and tumbled the powder-bags out to the nearest young ladies, all of whom
were vastly willing to take them. This distribution did not occupy ten seconds,
and before it was over the boat was under full way, the Kannaka all the while
exclaiming loudly against what he considered a useless throwing away of
Although it was clear that my movements had been noticed by several of the
natives, still they had not suspended the conflict in which they were engaged,
and it was not the boat was above fifty yards from the shore, that Mow-Mow and
some six or seven other warriors rushed into the sea and hurled their javelins
at us. Some of the weapons passed quite as close to us as was desirable, but no
one was wounded, and the men pulled away gallantly. But although soon out of
the reach of the spears, our progress was extremely slow; it blew strong upon
the shore, and the tide was against us; and I saw Karakoee, who was steering
the boat, give many a look towards a jutting point of the bay round which we
had to pass.
For a minute or two after our departure, the savages, who had formed into
different groups, remained perfectly motionless and silent. All at once the
enraged chief showed by his gestures that he had resolved what course he would
take. Shouting loudly to his companions, and pointing with his tomahawk towards
the headland, he set off at full speed in that direction, and was followed by
about thirty of the natives, among whom were several of the priests, all
yelling out, "Roo-ne! Roo-ne!" at the very top of their voices. Their
intention was evidently to swim off from the headland and intercept us in our
course. The wind was freshening every minute, and was right in our teeth, and
it was one of those chopping, angry seas, in which it is so difficult to row.
Still the chances seemed in our favour, but when we came within a hundred yards
of the point, the active savages were already dashing into the water, and we
all feared that within five minutes' time we should have a score of the
infuriated wretches around us. If so our doom was sealed, for these savages,
unlike the feeble swimmers of civilized countries, are, if anything, more
formidable antagonists in the water than when on the land. It was all a trial
of strength; our natives pulled till their oars bent again, and the crowd of
swimmers shot through the water, despite its roughness, with fearful rapidity.
By the time we had reached the headland, the savages were spread right across
our course. Our rowers got out their knives and held them ready between their
teeth, and I seized the boat-hook. We were all aware that if they succeeded in
intercepting us, they would practise upon us the manoeuvre which has proved so
fatal to many a boat's crew in these seas. They would grapple the oars, and,
seizing hold of the gunwale, capsize the boat, and then we should be entirely
at their mercy.
After a few breathless moments I discerned Mow-Mow. The athletic islander, with
his tomahawk between his teeth, was dashing the water before him till it foamed
again. He was the nearest to us, and in another instant he would have seized
one of the oars. Even at the moment I felt the horror at the act I was about to
commit; but it was no time for pity or compunction, and with a true aim, and
exerting all my strength, I dashed the boat-hook at him. I struck him just
below the throat, and forced him downwards. I had no time to repeat the blow,
but I saw him rise to the surface in the wake of the boat, and never shall I
forget the ferocious expression of his countenance.
Only one other of the savages reached the boat. He seized the gunwale, but the
knives of our rowers so mauled his wrists that he was forced to quit his hold,
and the next minute we were past them all, and in safety. The strong excitement
which had thus far kept me up, now left me, and I fell back fainting into the
arms of Karakoee.
The circumstances connected with my most unexpected escape may be very briefly
stated. The captain of an Australian vessel being in distress for men in these
remote seas, had put into Nukuheva in order to recruit his ship's company, but
not a single man was to be obtained; and the barque was about to get under
weigh, when she was boarded by Karakoee, who informed the disappointed
Englishman that an American sailor was detained by the savages in the
neighbouring bay of Typee; and he offered, if supplied with suitable articles
of traffic, to undertake his release. The Kannaka had gained his intelligence
from Marnoo, to whom, after all, I was indebted for my escape. The proposition
was acceded to; and Karakoee, taking with him five tabooed natives of Nukuheva,
again repaired aboard the barque, which in a few hours sailed to that part of
the island, and threw her maintop-sail aback right off the entrance to the
Typee bay. The whale-boat, manned by the tabooed crew, pulled towards the head
of the inlet, while the ship lay "off and on" awaiting its return.
The events which ensued have already been detailed, and little more remains to
be related. On reaching the Julia, I was lifted over the side, and my strange
appearance, and remarkable adventure, occasioned the liveliest interest. Every
attention was bestowed upon me that humanity could suggest; but to such a state
was I reduced, that three months elapsed before I recovered my health.
The mystery which hung over the fate of my friend and companion, Toby, has never
been cleared up. I still remain ignorant whether he succeeded in leaving the
valley, or perished at the hands of the islanders. SEQUEL SEQUEL
CONTAINING THE STORY OF TOBY NOTE – The Author of "Typee" was more than two years in the South
Seas, after escaping from the valley, as recounted in the last chapter. Some
time after returning home the foregoing narrative was published, though it was
little thought at the time that this would be the means of revealing the
existence of Toby, who had long been given up for lost. But so it proved. The
story of his escape supplies a natural sequel to the adventure, and as such it
is now added to the volume. It was related to the Author by Toby himself.
THE MORNING my comrade left me, as related in the narrative, he was accompanied
by a large party of the natives, some of them carrying fruit and hogs for the
purposes of traffic, as the report had spread that boats had touched at the
As they proceeded through the settled parts of the valley, numbers joined them
from every side, running with animated cries from every pathway. So excited
were the whole party, that, eager as Toby was to gain the beach, it was almost
as much as he could do to keep up with them. Making the valley ring with their
shouts, they hurried along on a swift trot, those in advance pausing now and
then, and flourishing their weapons to urge the rest forward.
Presently they came to a place where the path crossed a bend of the main stream
of the valley. Here a strange sound came through the grove beyond, and the
islanders halted. It was Mow-Mow, the one-eyed chief, who had gone on before;
he was striking his heavy lance against the hollow bough of a tree.
This was a signal of alarm; – for nothing was now heard but shouts of
"Happar! Happar!" – the warriors tilting with their spears and
brandishing them in the air, and the women and boys shouting to each other, and
picking up the stones in the bed of the stream. In a moment or two Mow-Mow and
two or three other chiefs ran out from the grove, and the din increased
Now, thought Toby, for a fray; and being unarmed, he besought one of the young
men domiciled with Marheyo for the loan of his spear. But he was refused; the
youth roguishly telling him, that the weapon was very good for him (the Typee),
but that a white man could fight much better with his fists.
The merry humour of this young wag seemed to be shared by the rest, for in
spite of their warlike cries and gestures, everybody was capering about and
laughing, as if it was one of the funniest things in the world to be awaiting
the flight of a score or two of Happar javelins from an ambush in the thickets.
While my comrade was in vain trying to make out the meaning of all this, a good
number of the natives separated themselves from the rest and ran off into the
grove on one side, the others now keeping perfectly still, as if awaiting the
result. After a little while, however, Mow-Mow, who stood in advance, motioned
them to come on stealthily, which they did, scarcely rustling a leaf. Thus they
crept along for ten or fifteen minutes, every now and then pausing to listen.
Toby by no means relished this sort of skulking; if there was going to be a
fight he wanted it to begin at once. But all in good time, – for just then, as
they went prowling into the thickest of the wood, terrific howls burst upon
them on all sides, and volleys of darts and stones flew across the path. Not an
enemy was to be seen, and what was still more surprising, not a single man
dropped, though the pebbles fell among the leaves like hail.
There was a moment's pause, when the Typees, with wild shrieks, flung
themselves into the covert, spear in hand; nor was Toby behindhand. Coming so
near getting his skull broken by the stones, and animated by an old grudge he
bore the Happars, he was among the first to dash at them. As he broke his way
through the underbrush, trying, as he did so, to wrest a spear from a young
chief, the shouts of battle all of a sudden ceased, and the wood was as still
as death. The next moment, the party who had left them so mysteriously rushed
out from behind every bush and tree, and united with the rest in long and merry
peals of laughter.
It was all a sham, and Toby, who was quite out of breath with excitement, was
much incensed at being made a fool of.
It afterwards turned out that the whole affair had been concerted for his
particular benefit, though with what precise view it would be hard to tell. My
comrade was the more enraged at this boys' play, since it had consumed so much
time, every moment of which might be precious. Perhaps, however, it was partly
intended for this very purpose; and he was led to think so, because, when the
natives started again, he observed that they did not seem to be in so great a
hurry as before. At last, after they had gone some distance, Toby, thinking all
the while that they never would get to the sea, two men came running towards
them, and a regular halt ensued, followed by a noisy discussion, during which
Toby's name was often repeated. All this made him more and more anxious to
learn what was going on at the beach; but it was in vain that he now tried to
push forward; the natives held him back.
In a few moments the conference ended, and many of them ran down the path in
the direction of the water, the rest surrounding Toby, and entreating him to
"Moee," or sit down and rest himself. As an additional inducement,
several calabashes of food, which had been brought along, were now placed on
the ground, and opened, and pipes also were lighted. Toby bridled his impatience
awhile, but at last sprang to his feet and dashed forward again. He was soon
overtaken nevertheless, and again surrounded, but without further detention was
then permitted to go down to the sea.
They came out upon a bright green space between the groves and the water, and
close under the shadow of the Happar mountain, where a path was seen, winding
out of sight through a gorge.
No sign of a boat, however, was beheld; nothing but a tumultuous crowd of men
and women, and some one in their midst, earnestly talking to them. As my
comrade advanced, this person came forward, and proved to be no stranger. He
was an old grizzled sailor, whom Toby and myself had frequently seen in
Nukuheva, where he lived an easy, devil-may-care life, in the household of Mowanna
the king, going by the name of "Jimmy." In fact, he was the royal
favourite, and had a good deal to say in his master's councils. He wore a
Manilla hat, and a sort of tappa morning gown, sufficiently loose and negligent
to show the verse of a song tattooed upon his chest, and a variety of spirited
cuts by native artists in other parts of his body. He sported a fishing-rod in
his hand, and carried a sooty old pipe slung about his neck.
This old rover having retired from active life, had resided in Nukuheva some
time – he could speak the language, and for that reason was frequently employed
by the French as an interpreter. He was an arrant old gossip, too; for ever
coming off in his canoe to the ships in the bay, and regaling their crews with
choice little morsels of court scandal – such, for instance, as a shameful
intrigue of his majesty with a Happar damsel, a public dancer at the feasts –
and otherwise relating some incredible tales about the Marquesas generally. I
remember, in particular, his telling the Dolly's crew what proved to be
literally a cock-and-bull story, about two natural prodigies, which he said
were then on the island. One was an old monster of a hermit, having a
marvellous reputation for sanctity, and reputed a famous sorcerer, who lived away
off in a den among the mountains, where he hid from the world a great pair of
horns that grew out of his temples. Notwithstanding his reputation for piety,
this horrid old fellow was the terror of all the island round, being reported
to come out from his retreat, and go a man-hunting every dark night. Some
anonymous Paul Pry, too, coming down the mountain, once got a peep at his den,
and found it full of bones. In short, he was a most unheard-of monster.
The other prodigy Jimmy told us about, was the younger son of a chief, who,
although but just turned of ten, had entered upon holy orders, because his
superstitious countrymen thought him especially intended for the priesthood,
from the fact of his having a comb on his head like a rooster. But this was not
all: for, still more wonderful to relate, the boy prided himself upon this
strange crest, being actually endowed with a cock's voice, and frequently
crowing over his peculiarity.
But to return to Toby. The moment he saw the old rover on the beach, he ran up
to him, the natives following after, and forming a circle round them.
After welcoming him to the shore, Jimmy went on to tell him how that he knew
all about our having run away from the ship, and being among the Typees;
indeed, he had been urged by Mowanna to come over to the valley, and, after
visiting his friends there, to bring us back with him, his royal master being
exceedingly anxious to share with him the reward which had been held out for
our capture. He, however, assured Toby that he had indignantly spurned the
All this astonished my comrade not a little, as neither of us had entertained
the least idea that any white man ever visited the Typees sociably. But Jimmy
told him that such was the case, nevertheless, although he seldom came into the
bay, and scarcely ever went back from the beach. One of the priests of the
valley, in some way or other connected with an old tattooed divine in Nukuheva,
was a friend of his, and through him he was "taboo."
He said, moreover, that he was sometimes employed to come round to the bay, and
engage fruit for ships lying in Nukuheva. In fact, he was now on that very
errand, according to his own account, having just come across the mountains by
the way of Happar. By noon of the next day, the fruit would be heaped up in
stacks on the beach, in readiness for the boats, which he then intended to
bring into the bay.
Jimmy now asked Toby whether he wished to leave the island – if he did, there
was a ship in want of men, lying in the other harbour, and he would be glad to
take him over, and see him on board that very day.
"No," said Toby; "I cannot leave the island, unless my comrade
goes with me. I left him up the valley because they would not let him come
down. Let us go now and fetch him."
"But how is he to cross the mountain with us," replied Jimmy,
"even if we get him down to the beach? Better let him stay till to-morrow,
and I will bring him round to Nukuheva in the boats."
"That will never do," said Toby; "but come along with me now,
and let us get him down here at any rate"; and yielding to the impulse of
the moment, he started to hurry back into the valley. But hardly was his back
turned, when a dozen hands were laid on him, and he learned that he could not
go a step farther.
It was in vain that he fought with them; they would not hear of his stirring
from the beach. Cut to the heart at this unexpected repulse, Toby now conjured
the sailor to go after me alone. But Jimmy replied, that in the mood the Typees
then were, they would not permit him so to do, though, at the same time, he was
not afraid of their offering him any harm.
Little did Toby then think, as he afterwards had good reason to suspect, that
this very Jimmy was a heartless villain, who, by his arts, had just incited the
natives to restrain him, as he was in the act of going after me. Well must the
old sailor have known, too, that the natives would never consent to our leaving
together; and he therefore wanted to get Toby off alone, for a purpose which he
afterwards made plain. Of all this, however, my comrade now knew nothing.
He was still struggling with the islanders, when Jimmy again came up to him,
and warned him against irritating them, saying that he was only making matters
worse for both of us, and if they became enraged, there was no telling what
might happen. At last he made Toby sit down on a broken canoe, by a pile of
stones, upon which was a ruinous little shrine, supported by four upright
paddles, and in front partly screened by a net. The fishing parties met there,
when they came in from the sea, for their offerings were laid before an image,
upon a smooth black stone within. This spot, Jimmy said, was strictly
"taboo," and no one would molest or come near him while he stayed by
its shadow. The old sailor then went off, and began speaking very earnestly to
Mow-Mow and some other chiefs, while all the rest formed a circle round the
taboo place, looking intently at Toby, and talking to each other without
Now, notwithstanding what Jimmy had just told him, there presently came up to
my comrade an old woman, who seated herself beside him on the canoe.
"Typee Mortarkee?" said she. "Mortarkee muee," said Toby.
She then asked him whether he was going to Nukuheva; he nodded yes; and with a
plaintive wail, and her eyes filling with tears, she rose and left him.
This old woman, the sailor afterwards said, was the wife of an aged king of a
small inland valley, communicating by a deep pass with the country of the
Typees. The inmates of the two valleys were related to each other by blood, and
were known by the same name. The old woman had gone down into the Typee valley
the day before, and was now, with three chiefs, her sons, on a visit to her
As the old king's wife left him, Jimmy again came up to Toby, and told him that
he had just talked the whole matter over with the natives, and there was only
one course for him to follow. They would not allow him to go back into the
valley, and harm would certainly come to both him and me, if he remained much
longer on the beach. "So," said he, "you and I had better go to
Nukuheva now overland, and to-morrow I will bring Tommo, as they call him, by
water; they have promised to carry him down to the sea for me early in the
morning, so that there will be no delay."
"No, no," said Toby desperately, "I will not leave him that way;
we must escape together."
"There is no hope for you," exclaimed the sailor, "for if I
leave you here on the beach, as soon as I am gone you will be carried back into
the valley, and then neither of you will ever look upon the sea again."
And with many oaths he swore that if he would only go to Nukuheva with him that
day, he would be sure to have me there the very next morning.
"But how do you know they will bring him down to the beach to-morrow, when
they will not do so to-day?" said Toby. But the sailor had many reasons,
all of which were so mixed up with the mysterious customs of the islanders,
that he was none the wiser. Indeed, their conduct, especially in preventing him
from returning into the valley, was absolutely unaccountable to him; and added
to everything else was the bitter reflection, that the old sailor, after all,
might possibly be deceiving him. And then again he had to think of me, left
alone with the natives, and by no means well. If he went with Jimmy, he might
at least hope to procure some relief for me. But might not the savages who had
acted so strangely, hurry me off somewhere before his return? Then, even he
remained, perhaps they would not let him go back into the valley where I was.
Thus perplexed was my poor comrade; he knew not what to do, and his courageous
spirit was of no use to him now. There he was, all by himself, seated upon the
broken canoe – the natives grouped around him at a distance, and eyeing him
more and more fixedly.
"It is getting late," said Jimmy, who was standing behind the rest.
"Nukuheva is far off, and I cannot cross the Happar country by night. You
see how it is: – if you come along with me, all will be well; if you do not,
depend upon it neither of you will ever escape."
"There is no help for it," said Toby, at last, with a heavy heart,
"I will have to trust you"; and he came out from the shadow of the
little shrine, and cast a long look up the valley.
"Now keep close to my side," said the sailor, "and let us be
moving quickly." Tinor and Fayaway here appeared; the kind-hearted old
woman embracing Toby's knees, giving way to a flood of tears; while Fayaway,
hardly less moved, spoke some few words of English she had learned, and held up
three fingers before him – in so many days he would return.
At last Jimmy pulled Toby out of the crowd, and after calling to a young Typee
who was standing by with a young pig in his arms, all three started for the
"I have told them that you are coming back again," said the old
fellow, laughing, as they began the ascent, "but they'll have to wait a
long time." Toby turned, and saw the natives all in motion – the girls
waving their tappas in adieu, and the men their spears. As the last figure
entered the grove with one arm raised, and the three fingers spread, his heart
As the natives had at last consented to his going, it might have been, that
some of them, at least, really counted upon his speedy return; probably
supposing, as indeed he had told them when they were coming down the valley,
that his only object in leaving them was to procure the medicines I needed.
This, Jimmy also must have told them. And as they had done before, when my
comrade, to oblige me, started on his perilous journey to Nukuheva, they looked
upon me, in his absence, as one of two inseparable friends who was a sure
guarantee for the other's return. This is only my own supposition, however, for
as to all their strange conduct, it is still a mystery.
"You see what sort of a taboo man I am," said the sailor, after for
some time silently following the path which led up the mountain. "Mow-Mow
made me a present of this pig here, and the man who carries it will go right
through Happar, and down into Nukuheva with us. So long as he stays by me he is
safe, and just so it will be with you, and to-morrow with Tommo. Cheer up,
then, and rely upon me, you will see him in the morning."
The ascent of the mountain was not very difficult, owing to its being near to
the sea, where the island ridges are comparatively low; the path, too, was a
fine one, so that in a short time all three were standing on the summit with
the two valleys at their feet. The white cascades marking the green head of the
Typee valley first caught Toby's eye; Marheyo's house could easily be traced by
As Jimmy led the way along the ridge, Toby observed that the valley of the
Happars did not extend near so far inland as that of the Typees. This accounted
for our mistake in entering the latter valley as we had.
A path leading down from the mountain was soon seen, and following it, the
party were in a short time fairly in the Happar valley.
"Now," said Jimmy, as they hurried on, "we taboo men have wives
in all the bays, and I am going to show you the two I have here."
So, when they came to the house where he said they lived – which was close by
the base of the mountain, in a shady nook among the groves, – he went in, and
was quite furious at finding it empty – the ladies had gone out. However, they
soon made their appearance, and, to tell the truth, welcomed Jimmy quite
cordially, as well as Toby, about whom they were very inquisitive.
Nevertheless, as the report of their arrival spread, and the Happars began to
assemble, it became evident that the appearance of a white stranger among them
was not by any means deemed so wonderful an event as in the neighbouring
The old sailor now bade his wives prepare something to eat, as he must be in
Nukuheva before dark. A meal of fish, bread-fruit, and bananas, was accordingly
served up, the party regaling themselves on the mats, in the midst of a
The Happars put many questions to Jimmy about Toby; and Toby himself looked
sharply at them, anxious to recognise the fellow who gave him the wound from
which he was still suffering. But this fiery gentleman, so handy with his
spear, had the delicacy, it seemed, to keep out of view. Certainly the sight of
him would not have been any added inducement to making a stay in the valley, –
some of the afternoon loungers in Happar having politely urged Toby to spend a
few days with them, – there was a feast coming on. He, however, declined.
All this while the young Typee stuck to Jimmy like his shadow, and though as
lively a dog as any of his tribe, he was now as meek as a lamb, never opening
his mouth except to eat. Although some of the Happars looked queerly at him,
others were more civil, and seemed desirous of taking him abroad and showing
him the valley. But the Typee was not to be cajoled in that way. How many yards
he would have to remove from Jimmy before the taboo would be powerless, it
would be hard to tell, but probably he himself knew to a fraction.
On the promise of a red cotton handkerchief, and something else which he kept
secret, this poor fellow had undertaken a rather ticklish journey, though, as
far as Toby could ascertain, it was something that had never happened before.
The island-punch – arva – was brought in at the conclusion of the repast, and
passed round in a shallow calabash.
Now my comrade, while seated in the Happar house, began to feel more troubled
than ever at leaving me: indeed, so sad did he feel that he talked about going
back to the valley, and wanted Jimmy to escort him as far as the mountains. But
the sailor would not listen to him, and, by way of diverting his thoughts,
pressed him to drink of the arva. Knowing its narcotic nature, he refused; but
Jimmy said he would have something mixed with it, which would convert it into
an innocent beverage that would inspirit them for the rest of their journey. So
at last he was induced to drink of it, and its effects were just as the sailor
had predicted; his spirits rose at once, and all his gloomy thoughts left him.
The old rover now began to reveal his true character, though he was hardly
suspected at the time. "If I get you off to a ship," said he,
"you will surely give a poor fellow something for saving you." In
short, before they left the house, he made Toby promise that he would give him
five Spanish dollars if he succeeded in getting any part of his wages advanced
from the vessel, aboard of which they were going; Toby, moreover, engaging to
reward him still further, as soon as my deliverance was accomplished.
A little while after this they started again, accompanied by many of the
natives, and going up the valley, took a steep path near its head, which led to
Nukuheva. Here the Happars paused, and watched them as they ascended the
mountain, one group of bandit-looking fellows shaking their spears and casting
threatening glances at the poor Typee, whose heart as well as heels seemed much
the lighter when he came to look down upon them.
On gaining the heights once more, their way led for a time along several ridges
covered with enormous ferns. At last they entered upon a wooded tract, and here
they overtook a party of Nukuheva natives, well armed, and carrying bundles of
long poles. Jimmy seemed to know them all very well, and stopped for awhile,
and had a talk about the "Wee-Wees" as the people of Nukuheva call
The party with the poles were King Mowanna's men, and by his orders they had
been gathering them in the ravines for his allies, the French.
Leaving these fellows to trudge on with their loads, Toby and his companions
now pushed forward again, as the sun was already low in the west. They came
upon the valleys of Nukuheva on one side of the bay, where the highlands slope
off into the sea. The men-of-war were still lying in the harbour, and as Toby
looked down upon them, the strange events which had happened so recently seemed
all a dream.
They soon descended towards the beach, and found themselves in Jimmy's house
before it was well dark. Here he received another welcome from his Nukuheva
wives, and after some refreshments in the shape of cocoa-nut milk and
poee-poee, they entered a canoe (the Typee, of course, going along) and paddled
off to a whale-ship which was anchored near the shore. This was the vessel in
want of men. Our own had sailed some time before. The captain professed great
pleasure at seeing Toby, but thought from his exhausted appearance that he must
be unfit for duty. However, he agreed to ship him, as well as his comrade as
soon as he should arrive.
Toby begged hard for an armed boat, in which to go round to Typee and rescue
me, notwithstanding the promises of Jimmy. But this the captain would not hear
of, and told him to have patience, for the sailor would be faithful to his
word. When, too, he demanded the five silver dollars for Jimmy, the captain was
unwilling to give them. But Toby insisted upon it, as he now began to think
that Jimmy might be a mere mercenary, who would be sure to prove faithless if
not well paid. Accordingly he not only gave him the money, but took care to
assure him, over and over again, that as soon as he brought me aboard he would
receive a still larger sum.
Before sunrise the next day, Jimmy and the Typee started in two of the ship's
boats, which were manned by tabooed natives. Toby, of course, was all eagerness
to go along, but the sailor told him that if he did, it would spoil all; so,
hard as it was, he was obliged to remain.
Towards evening he was on the watch, and descried the boats turning the
headland and entering the bay. He strained his eyes, and thought he saw me; but
I was not there. Descending from the mast almost distracted, he grappled Jimmy
as he struck the deck, shouting in a voice that startled him, "Where is
Tommo?" The old fellow faltered, but soon recovering, did all he could to
soothe him, assuring him that it had proved to be impossible to get me down to
the shore that morning; assigning many plausible reasons, and adding that early
on the morrow he was going to visit the bay again in a French boat, when, if he
did not find me on the beach – as this time he certainly expected to – he would
march right back into the valley, and carry me away at all hazards. He,
however, again refused to allow Toby to accompany him.
Now, situated as Toby was, his sole dependence for the present was upon this
Jimmy, and therefore he was fain to comfort himself as well as he could with
what the old sailor told him.
The next morning, however, he had the satisfaction of seeing the French boat
start with Jimmy in it. To-night, then, I will see him, thought Toby; but many
a long day passed before he ever saw Tommo again. Hardly was the boat out of
sight, when the captain came forward and ordered the anchor weighed; he was
going to sea.
Vain were all Toby's ravings, – they were disregarded; and when he came to
himself, the sails were set, and the ship fast leaving the land.
Oh! said he to me at our meeting, what sleepless nights were mine. Often I
started from my hammock, dreaming you were before me, and upbraiding me for
leaving you on the island.
There is little more to be related. Toby left this vessel New Zealand, and
after some further adventures, arrived home in less than two years after
leaving the Marquesas. He always thought of me as dead – and I had every reason
to suppose that he, too, was no more; but a strange meeting was in store for
us, one which made Toby's heart all the lighter. EPILOGUE
THE author of this volume arrived at Tahiti the very day that the iniquitous
designs of the French were consummated by inducing the subordinate chiefs,
during the absence of their queen, to ratify an artfully-drawn treaty, by which
she was virtually deposed. Both menaces and caresses were employed on this
occasion, and the 32-pounders which peeped out of the port-holes of the frigate
were the principal arguments adduced to quiet the scruples of the more
And yet this piratical seizure of Tahiti, with all the woe and desolation which
resulted from it, created not half so great a sensation, at least in America,
as was caused by the proceedings of the English at the Sandwich Islands. No
transaction has ever been more grossly misrepresented than the events which
occurred upon the arrival of Lord George Paulet at Oahu. During a residence of
four months at Honolulu, the metropolis of the group, the author was in the
confidence of an Englishman who was much employed by his lordship; and great
was the author's astonishment on his arrival at Boston, in the autumn of 1844,
to read the distorted accounts and fabrications which had produced in the
United States so violent an outbreak of indignation against the English. He deems
it, therefore, a mere act of justice towards a gallant officer briefly to state
the leading circumstances connected with the event in question.
It is needless to rehearse all the abuse that for some time previous to the
spring of 1843 had been heaped upon the British residents, especially upon
Captain Charlton, Her Britannic Majesty's consul-general, by the native
authorities of the Sandwich Islands. High in the favour of the imbecile king at
this time was one Dr. Judd, a sanctimonious apothecary-adventurer, who, with
other kindred and influential spirits, were animated by an inveterate dislike
to England. The ascendancy of a junta of ignorant and designing Methodist
elders in the councils of a half civilised king, ruling with absolute sway over
a nation just poised between barbarism and civilisation, and exposed by the
peculiarities of its relations with foreign states to unusual difficulties, was
not precisely calculated to impart a healthy tone to the policy of the
At last matters were brought to such an extremity, through the iniquitous
maladministration of affairs, that the endurance of further insults and
injuries on the part of the British consul was no longer to be borne. Captain
Charlton, insultingly forbidden to leave the islands, clandestinely withdrew,
and arriving at Valparaiso, conferred with Rear-Admiral Thomas, the English
commander-in-chief on the Pacific station. In consequence of this
communication, Lord George Paulet was despatched by the admiral in the
Carysfort frigate, to inquire into and correct the alleged abuses. On arriving
at his destination, he sent his first lieutenant ashore with a letter to the
king, couched in terms of the utmost courtesy, and soliciting the honour of an
audience. The messenger was denied access to His Majesty, and Paulet was coolly
referred to Dr. Judd, and informed that the apothecary was invested with
plenary powers to treat with him. Rejecting this insolent proposition, his
lordship again addressed the king by letter, and renewed his previous request;
but he encountered another repulse. Justly indignant at this treatment, he
penned a third epistle, enumerating the grievances to be redressed, and
demanding a compliance with his requisitions, under penalty of immediate
The government was now obliged to act, and an artful stroke of policy was
decided upon by the despicable councillors of the king to entrap the sympathies
and rouse the indignation of Christendom. His Majesty was made to intimate to
the British captain that he could not, as the conscientious ruler of his
beloved people, comply with the arbitrary demands of his lordship, and in
deprecation of the horrors of war, tendered to his acceptance the provisional
cession of the islands, subject to the result of the negotiations then pending
in London. Paulet, a bluff and straightforward sailor, took the king at his
word, and after some preliminary arrangements, entered upon the administration
of Hawaiian affairs, in the same firm and benignant spirit which marked the
discipline of his frigate, and which had rendered him the idol of his ship's
company. He soon endeared himself to nearly all orders of the islanders; but
the king and the chiefs, whose feudal sway over the common people was
laboriously sought to be perpetuated by their missionary advisers, regarded all
his proceedings with the most vigilant animosity. Jealous of his growing
popularity, and unable to counteract it, they endeavoured to assail his
reputation abroad by ostentatiously protesting against his acts, and appealing
in Oriental phrase to the wide universe to witness and compassionate their
Heedless of their idle clamours, Lord George Paulet addressed himself to the
task of reconciling the differences among the foreign residents, remedying
their grievances, promoting their mercantile interests, and ameliorating, as
far as lay in his power, the condition of the degraded natives. The iniquities
he brought to light and instantly suppressed are too numerous to be here
recorded; but one instance may be mentioned that will give some idea of the
lamentable misrule to which these poor islanders are subjected.
It is well known that the laws at the Sandwich Islands are subject to the most
capricious alterations, which, by confounding all ideas of right and wrong in
the minds of the natives, produce the most pernicious effects. In no case is
this mischief more plainly discernible than in the continually shifting
regulations concerning licentiousness. At one time the most innocent freedoms
between the sexes are punished with fine and imprisonment; at another the
revocation of the statute is followed by the most open and undisguised
It so happened that at the period of Paulet's arrival the Connecticut blue laws
had been for at least three weeks steadily enforced. In consequence of this,
the fort at Honolulu was filled with a great number of young girls, who were
confined there doing penance for their slips from virtue. Paulet, although at
first unwilling to interfere with regulations having reference solely to the
natives themselves, was eventually, by the prevalence of certain reports,
induced to institute a strict inquiry into the internal administration of
General Kekuanoa, governor of the island of Oahu, one of the pillars of the
Hawaiian Church, and captain of the fort. He soon ascertained that numbers of
the young females employed during the day at work intended for the benefit of
the king, were at night smuggled over the ramparts of the fort – which on one
side directly overhangs the sea – and were conveyed by stealth on board such
vessels as had contracted with the General to be supplied with them. Before
daybreak they returned to their quarters, and their own silence with regard to
these secret excursions was purchased by a small portion of those wages of
iniquity which were placed in the hands of Kekuanoa.
The vigour with which the laws concerning licentiousness were at that period
enforced, enabled the General to monopolise in a great measure the detestable
trade in which he was engaged, and there consequently flowed into his coffers –
and some say into those of the government also – considerable sums of money. It
is indeed a lamentable fact that the principal revenue of the Hawaiian
government is derived from the fines levied upon, or rather the licences taken
out by Vice, the prosperity of which is linked with that of the government.
Were the people to become virtuous the authorities would become poor; but from
present indications there is little apprehension to be entertained on that score.
Some five months after the date of the cession, the Dublin frigate, carrying
the flag of Rear-Admiral Thomas, entered the harbour of Honolulu. The
excitement that her sudden appearance produced on shore was prodigious. Three
days after her arrival an English sailor hauled down the red cross which had
been flying from the heights of the fort, and the Hawaiian colours were again
displayed upon the same staff. At the same moment the long 42-pounders upon
Punchbowl Hill opened their iron throats in triumphant reply to the thunders of
the five men-of-war in the harbour; and King Kammahammaha III, surrounded by a
splendid group of British and American officers, unfurled the royal standard to
assembled thousands of his subjects, who, attracted by the imposing military
display of the foreigners, had flocked to witness the formal restoration of the
islands to their ancient rulers.
The admiral, after sanctioning the proceeding of his subaltern, had brought the
authorities to terms; and so removed the necessity of acting any longer under
the provisional cession.
The event was made an occasion of riotous rejoicing by the king and the
principal chiefs, who easily secured a display of enthusiasm from the inferior
orders, by remitting for a time the accustomed severity of the laws. Royal
proclamations in English and Hawaiian were placarded in the streets of
Honolulu, and posted up in the more populous villages of the group, in which
His Majesty announced to his loving subjects the re-establishment of his
throne, and called upon them to celebrate it by breaking through all moral,
legal, and religious restraint for ten consecutive days, during which time all
the laws of the land were solemnly declared to be suspended.
Who that happened to be at Honolulu during those ten memorable days will ever
forget them! The spectacle of universal broad-day debauchery, which was then
exhibited, beggars description. The natives of the surrounding islands flocked
to Honolulu by hundreds, and the crews of two frigates, opportunely let loose
like so many demons to swell the heathenish uproar, gave the crowning flourish
to the scene. It was a sort of Polynesian saturnalia. Deeds too atrocious to be
mentioned were done at noon-day in the open street, and some of the islanders,
caught in the very act of stealing from the foreigners, were, on being taken to
the fort by the aggrieved party, suffered immediately to go at large and to
retain the stolen property – Kekuanoa informing the white men, with a sardonic
grin, that the laws were "hannapa" (tied up).
The history of these ten days reveals in their true colours the character of
the Sandwich islanders, and furnishes an eloquent commentary on the results
which have flowed from the labours of the missionaries. Freed from the
restraint of severe penal laws, the natives almost to a man had plunged
voluntarily into every species of wickedness and excess, and by their utter
disregard of all decency plainly showed that, although they had been schooled
into a seeming submission to the new order of things, they were in reality as
depraved and vicious as ever.
Such were the events which produced in America so general an outbreak of
indignation against the spirited and high-minded Paulet. He is not the first
man who, in the fearless discharge of his duty, has awakened the senseless
clamours of those whose narrow-minded suspicions blind them to a proper
appreciation of measures which unusual exigencies may have rendered necessary.
It is almost needless to add that the British cabinet never had any idea of appropriating
the islands; and it furnishes a sufficient vindication of the acts of Lord
George Paulet, that he not only received the unqualified approbation of his own
government, but that to this hour the great body of the Hawaiian people invoke
blessings on his head, and look back with gratitude to the time when his
liberal and paternal sway diffused peace and happiness among them.