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Title:      Pacific Tales (1897)
Author:     Louis Becke
eBook No.:  0500671.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Title:      Pacific Tales (1897)
Author:     Louis Becke





TO

MY TRUE FRIEND AND GOOD COMRADE,

TOM DE WOLF,

I DEDICATE THESE TALES.

IN MEMORY OF THOSE OLDEN DAYS

WHEN UNDER STRANGE SKIES WE SAILED TOGETHER

IN WEATHER FOUL AND FAIR.


Savage Club,
London, April 15, 1896.



CONTENTS

AN ISLAND MEMORY: ENGLISH BOB

IN THE OLD, BEACHCOMBING DAYS

MRS. MALLESON'S RIVAL

PRESCOTT OF NAURA

CHESTER'S "CROSS"

HOLLIS'S DEBT: A TALE OF THE NORTH-WEST PACIFIC

THE ARM OF LUNO CAPÁL

IN A SAMOAN VILLAGE

COLLIER: THE "BLACKBIRDER"

IN THE EVENING

THE GREAT CRUSHING AT MOUNT SUGAR-BAG

THE SHADOWS OF THE DEAD

"FOR WE WERE FRIENDS ALWAYS"

NIKOA

THE STRANGE WHITE WOMAN OF MADURO

THE OBSTINACY OF MRS. TATTON

DR. LUDWIG SCHWALBE, SOUTH SEA SAVANT

THE TREASURE OF DON BRUNO







AN ISLAND MEMORY: ENGLISH BOB


There was once a South Sea Island supercargo named Denison who had
a Kanaka father and mother.  This was when Denison was a young man.
His father's name was Kusis; his mother's Tulpé.  Also, he had
several brown-skinned, lithe-limbed, and big-eyed brothers and
sisters, who made much of their new white brother, and petted and
caressed and wept over him as if he were an ailing child of six
instead of a tough young fellow of two-and-twenty who had nothing
wrong with him but a stove-in rib and a heart that ached for home,
which made him cross and fretful.

But Denison hasn't got much to do with this story, so all I need
say of him is that he had been the supercargo of a brig called the
Leonora; and the Leonora had been wrecked on Strong's Island in the
North Pacific; and Denison had quarrelled with the captain, whose
name was "Bully" Hayes; and so one day he said goodbye to the
roystering Bully and the rest of his shipmates, and travelled
across the lagoon till he came to a sweet little village named
Leassé, and asked for Kusis, who was the head man thereof.

"Give me, O Kusis, to eat and drink, and a mat whereon to sleep;
for I have broken apart from the rest of the white men who were
cast away with me in the ship, and there is no more friendship
between us.  And I desire to live here in peace."

Then Kusis, who was but a stalwart savage, nude to his loins, and
tattooed from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, lifted
Denison up in his brawny arms, and carried him into his house, and
set him down on a fine mat; and Tulpé, his wife, and Kinia, his
daughter, put food before him on platters of twisted cane, and bade
him eat.

Then, when the white man slept, Kusis called around him the people
of Leassé and told them that that very day a messenger had come to
him from the King and said that the white man who was coming to
Leassé was to be as a son to him, "for," said the King, "my stomach
is filled with friendship for this man, because when he was rich
and a supercargo he had a generous hand to us of Strong's Island.
But now he is poor, and hath been sick for many months, so thou,
Kusis, must be father to him and give him all that he may want."

So that is how Denison came to stay at Leassé, and lived on the fat
of the land in the quiet little village nestling under the shadows
of Mont Buáche, while up at Utwe Harbour on the south side of the
island, Bully Hayes and his crew of swarthy ruffians drank and
robbed and fought and cut each others' throats, and stole women
from the villages round about, and turned an island paradise into a
hell of base and wicked passions.  But though Leassé was but ten
miles from Utwe, none of the shipwrecked sailors ever came there,
partly because Captain Hayes had promised Denison that his men
should not interfere with Leassé, and partly because the men
themselves all liked Denison, and did NOT like the Winchester rifle
he owned.

And as he grew stronger and joined the villagers in their huntings
and fishings, they made more and more of him, but yet watched his
movements with a jealous eye, lest he should grow tired of them and
go back to the other white men.

Leassé, as I have said, was but a little village--not quite thirty
houses--and stood on gently undulating ground at the foot of a
mountain, whose sides were clothed with verdure and whose summit at
dawn and eve was always veiled in misty clouds.  And so dense was
the foliage of the mountain forest of "tamanu" and "masa'oi" that
only here and there could the bright sunlight pierce through the
leafy canopy and streak with lines of gold the thick brown carpet
of leaves covering the warm red soil beneath.  Sometimes, when the
trade wind had died away and the swish and rustle of the tree-tops
overhead had ceased, one might hear the faint murmur of voices in
the village far below, or the sharp screaming note of the mountain
cock calling to his mate, and now and then the muffled roar of the
surf beating upon its coral barrier miles and miles away.

But down from the gloomy silence of the mountain there led a narrow
path that followed the winding course of a little stream, which in
places leapt from shelves of hard black rock into deep pools
perhaps fifty feet below, and then swirled and danced over its
pebbly bed till it sprang out joyously from its darkened course
above into the bright light and life of the shining beach and the
tumbling surf and sunlit, cloudless sky of blue that ever lay
before and above the dwellers in Leassé village.

Right in front of the village ran a sweeping curve of yellow beach,
with here and there a clump of rocks, whose black, jagged outlines
were covered with mantles of creepers and vines green and yellow,
in which at night-time the snow-white tropic birds came to roost
with clamorous note.  Back from the beach stood groves of pandanus
and breadfruit and coconuts, whose branches sang merrily all day
long to the sweep of the whistling trade wind, but drooped
languidly at sunset when it died away.

Straight before the door of Denison's house of thatch there lay a
wide expanse of placid, reef-bound sea, pale-greenish in its
shallower portions near the shore, but deepening into blue as it
increased in depth toward the line of foaming surf that ever roared
and thundered upon the jagged coral wall which flung the sweeping
billows back in clouds of misty spume.  Half a mile away, and
shining like emeralds in the bright rays of the tropic sun, lay two
tiny islets of palms that seemed to float and quiver on the glassy
surface in the glory of their surpassing green.

At dusk, when the shadows of the great mountain fell upon the
yellow curve of beach, and the coming night enwrapped the silent
aisles of the forest, the men of Leassé would sit outside their
houses and smoke and talk, whilst the women and girls would sing
the songs of the old bygone days when they were a strong people
with spear and club in hand, and the mountain-sides and now
deserted bays of Strong's Island were thick with the houses of
their forefathers.

                          * * * * *

One evening, as Kusis, with Tulpé, his wife, and Kinia, his
daughter, sat with Denison on a wide mat outspread before the
doorway of their house, listening to the beat of the distant surf
upon the reef, and watching the return of a fleet of fishing
canoes, they were joined by a half-caste boy and girl who lived in
a village some few miles further along the coast.  The boy was
about twelve years of age, the girl two or three years older.
Denison had one day met them, and they had taken him with them to
their mother's house.  She was a woman of not much past thirty, and
the moment the white man entered had greeted him warmly, and
pointing to some muskets, cutlasses, and many other articles of
European manufacture that hung from the beams overhead, said:
"See, those were my husband's guns and swords."

"Ahé, and was he a white man?"

"Aye," the woman answered proudly, as she brought Denison a mat to
sit upon, "a white man, and, like thee, an Englishman.  But it is
two years now since he died under the spears of the men of Yap,
when he led other white men to the attack on the great fort in the
bay there.  Ah, he was a brave man!  And then I, who saw him die,
came back here with my children to Leassé to live, for here in this
very house was I born, and this land that encompasseth it is mine
by inheritance."

From that day Denison and the two half-caste children became sworn
friends, and twice or thrice a week the boy and girl would walk
over to see him, and stay the night so as to accompany him fishing
or shooting on the following day.  The boy was a sturdy, well-built
youngster, with a skin that, from constant exposure to the sun, was
almost as dark as that of a full-blooded native; but the girl was
very light in complexion, with those strangely deep, lustrous eyes
common to women of the Micronesian and Polynesian people--eyes in
whose liquid depths one may read the coming fate of all their race,
doomed to utter extinction before the inroads of civilisation with
all its deadly terrors of insidious and unknown disease.  Unlike
her brother, who either could not or pretended he could not,
understand English, Tasia both understood and spoke it with some
fluency, for, with her mother and brother, she had always
accompanied her father in his wanderings about the Pacific, and had
mixed much with white men of a certain class--traders, pearl-
shellers, and deserters from whaleships and men-of-war.

For some minutes Kusis and his white friend smoked their pipes in
silence, whilst Tulpé and the two girls sat a little apart from
them, talking in the soft, almost whispered tones peculiar to the
Malayan-blooded women of the Caroline Islands, and looking at some
boys who were boxing with the half-caste lad near by.

"Ha!" said Tasia to the two men, with a laugh, "see those foolish
boys trying to fight like English people."

"What know you of how English people fight, Tasia?" asked Denison.

The girl arched her pretty black brows.  "Much.  I have seen my
father fight--and he was the greatest fighter in the world."

"Truly?"

"Truly.  Is it not so, Kusis?"

"Aye," said Kusis, turning to Denison, "he was a great fighter with
his hands as well as with musket and sword.  Tell him, Tasia, of
how thy father fought at Ebon."

                          * * * * *

"When I was but ten years old there came to Lela Harbour on this
island a great English fighting ship, and my father, who had run
away from just such another ship long years before in a country
called Kali-fo-nia, became troubled in his mind, and hid himself in
the forest till she had gone.  When he returned to his house, he
said--pointing to many letters and tattoo marks on his breast and
arms--'Only because of these names written on my skin have I lived
like a wild boar in the woods for three days; for see, this name
across my breast, were it seen by the people of the man-of-war,
would bring me to chains and a prison, and I should see thee no
more.'  And so, because he feared that another man-of-war might
come here, he had the whole of his breast, back, and arms tattooed
very deeply, after the fashion of Strong's Island, so that the old
marks were quite hidden.  Yet even then he was still moody, and at
last he took us away with him in a whaleship to an island called
Ebon, ten days' sail from here.  And here for a year we lived,
although the people were strange to us, and their language and
customs very different to ours.  As time went on, the Ebon people
began to think much of my father, because of his great bodily
strength and courage in battle, for they were at war among
themselves, and he was ever foremost in fighting for Labayan, the
chief under whose protection we lived.

"One day a great American warship came into the lagoon of Ebon, and
many of the sailors came ashore and got drunk, and as they
staggered about the village, frightening the women and children,
one of them, hearing that my father was a white man, came to him as
he sat quietly in his house, gave him foul words, and then said--

"'Come out and fight, thou tattooed beast, who calleth thyself a
white man.'

"There were many sailors gathered outside the house, and these,
because my father took no heed of the drunken man's words, but bade
him go away, called out that he was but a beach-combing coward and
had no white blood in him, else would he take up the challenge.

"Then Bob--for that was my father's name--put a loaded musket in my
mother's hand, and said:  'I must fight this man; but stand thou at
the door, and if any one of the others seeks to enter the house,
fear not to shoot him dead.'  Then he stepped out to the sailors,
and said--

"'Why must I fight this man?  What quarrel hath he with me, or I
with him?  And I shall not fight with a man when he is "tamtrunk"
and cannot stand straight on his feet.'

"'Fight him,' they answered, 'else shall we pull thy house down and
beat thee for an English cur.'

"And then I heard the sound of blows, and could see that Bob and
the man who challenged him were fighting.  Presently I heard the
sound of a man falling, and the blue-coated sailors gave a great
cry, and I saw my father standing alone in the ring.  At a little
distance lay the American, whose body was supported by two of his
friends.  His head had sunk forward on his chest, and those about
him said to my father, 'His jaw is broken.'

"My father laughed--'Whose fault is that?  Ye forced me to fight,
and I struck him but once.  Is there no one man among ye who can do
better than he?  'Tis a poor victory for an Englishman to break the
jaw of a man who thought he could fight, but could not.'  Then he
mocked them, and said they were 'skitas' (boasters) like all the
'Yankeese'; for now he was angry, and his eyes were like glowing
coals.

"But they were not all 'skitas,' for two or three stepped out and
wanted to fight him, but the others stayed them, and said to my
father:  'Nay, no more now; go back to thy wife; but to-morrow
night we shall bring a man from the other watch on board the ship
whom we will match against thee.'  Then they lifted up the man with
the broken jaw, and carried him away.

"In the morning there came to our house two sailors bearing a
letter, which my father read.  It said that there would come ashore
that night the best fighting man of the ship, who would fight him
for one hundred dollars in silver money.

"Now thirteen silver dollars was all the money my father had, so he
went to Labayan the chief, who had a strong friendship for him, and
read him the letter.  'Lend me,' said he, 'seven-and-thirty dollars,
and I will fight this man; and if I be beaten and the fifty dollars
are lost, then shall I give thee a musket and five fat hogs for the
money lent me.'

"Now, Labayan could not refuse my father, so without a word he
brought him the money and placed it in his hands, and said:  'Take
it, O Papu the Strong, and if it be that thou art beaten in the
fight, then I forgive thee the debt--it is God's will if this man
prove the stronger of the two.'

                          * * * * *

"At sunset two boats filled with men came ashore.  Four score and
six were they altogether, for my mother and I counted them as they
walked up from the beach to the great open square in front of the
chief's house.  All round the sides of the square were placed mats
for them to sit upon, and presently baked fish and fowls to eat and
young coconuts to drink were put before them by the people, who
were gathered together in great numbers, for the news of the fight
had gone to every village on the island, and they all came to see.
As darkness came on, hundreds of torches were lit, and held up by
the women and boys.

"By and by, when the sailors had finished eating, Labayan and his
two wives came out and sat down at one end of the square, and my
mother and I sat with them.  And then, as fresh torches were lit,
so that the great square became as light as day, a man rose up from
among the white men and stepped into the centre.

"'Where is the man?' he said.

"'Here,' answered my father, pushing his way through the swarm of
people who stood tightly packed together behind the sitting white
men, 'and here is my money'; and he held out a small bag.

"'And here is ours,' said some of the sailors, coming forward, and
the money was placed in Labayan's hands.  Then one of them opened a
bottle of grog, and my father and the other man each drank some.
Then they stripped to their waists.  My father was thought to be a
very big and strong man; but when Labayan and his people saw the
other man take off his jumper and shirt, and beheld his great hairy
chest and muscles that stood out like the roots of a tree when they
protrude from the ground, they murmured.  'He will kill Papu,' they
said.

"So Labayan cried, 'Stop!' and standing up and speaking very
quickly, said:  'O Papu, there must be no fight!  But tell all
these white men that the man they have brought to fight thee shall
have the money that is in my hands.  And tell them also--so that
they shall not be vexed--that the women and girls shall dance for
them here in the square till sunrise.'

"My father laughed and shook his head, but told the white men
Labayan's words, and they too laughed.

"'Nay, Labayan,' said my father, 'fight I must, or else be shamed.
But have no fear; this will be a long fight, but I am the better of
the two.  I know this man; he is an Englishman like myself, and a
great fighter.  But he does not know me now; for it is many years
since he saw me last.'  And then he and the sailor shook each other
by the hand; and then began the fight.

"Ah! it was terrible to look at, and soon I began to tremble, and I
hid my face on my mother's bosom.  Once I heard a loud cry from the
assembled people, and looking up saw my father stagger backwards
and fall.  But only for a moment, and as he rose again the white
men clapped their hands and shouted loudly; and again I hid my face
as the two met again, and the sounds of their blows and their
fierce breathing seemed like thunder in my ears.

"Presently they rested awhile, and now the torches blazed up again,
and, as the women saw that the face of the big man was reddened
with blood which ran down his body, their hearts were filled with
pity, a great wailing cry broke from them, and they ran up to
Labayan and besought him to bid the fight to cease.  But the white
men said it must go on.

"As the two men rested, sitting on the knees of two of the sailors,
they each drank a little grog--just a mouthful.  Then they stood up
again, staggering about like drunken men; and my mother and I, with
many other women, ran into Labayan's house and wept together--for
we could no longer look.  Suddenly we heard a great cry of triumph
from the assembled people, but the white men were silent.  Then
Labayan called to us to come and see.  So we ran out into the
square again.

"The big white man lay upon a mat, but he was horrible to look at,
and we turned our faces away.  My father sat near him, held up by
Labayan and one of the white sailors, and lying beside his open
hand were the two bags of money.  But his eyes were closed, and he
breathed heavily.

"As the people--white and brown--thronged around the big man to see
if he were dead, we heard the tramp of marching men, and a score of
sailors carrying muskets, with swords fastened to their muzzles,
came across the square.  They were led by two officers, who held
drawn swords in their hands.

"'What is this?' said he who was leader, sternly, looking first at
one and then at another of the white sailors.  Then they told him,
and said it had been a fair fight.

"'Back to the boats, every man,' he said, 'but first carry this
dying man into a house, where he must lie till the doctor comes to
him.'  And then, when this was done, the armed men drove the others
down to the boats, and the square became dark and deserted.

"My father was but little hurt, and all that night he sat beside
the man he had fought, who lay sick for many days in Labayan's
house.  Every morning the doctor from the ship came to see him, and
other white men came as well.  At last he got better, and then he
and my father had a long talk together, and shook each other's
hands, and became as brothers.  Then the boat came for him, and the
beaten man bid us all farewell and went away.

"That night my father told us that this man, who was named Harry,
had once been a friend of his, and they had served the Queen of
England together in the same man-of-war, and, like him, had run
away from the ship.  And as soon as my father met him face to face
in the square he knew him, 'and,' said he, 'it came hard to me to
fight a man who was once my friend, and was still my countryman,
but yet it had to be done to shame those boasting "Yankeese," who
are but "skitas."'"

                          * * * * *

And now, as I think of Tasia's story, there springs upon my memory
the tale of the fight told of in "The Man from Snowy River," where
an Australian station manager, fresh from England, fought a
terrible fight with an intruding drover.  So, only changing four
words of "Saltbush Bill," and with all apologies--


Now the sailor fought for a money prize with a scowl on his bearded
  face,
But the trader fought for his honour's sake and the pride of the
  English race.




IN THE OLD, BEACH-COMBING DAYS


A white, misty rain-squall swept down the mountain pass at the head
of Lêla Harbour, plashed noisily across the deep waters of the land-
locked bay and whirled away seaward.

Standing upon jutting ledges of the inner or harbour reef, a number
of brown-skinned women and children were fishing.  The tide was low
and the water smooth, and as the fishers shook the raindrops from
off their black tresses and shining skins of bronze they laughed
and sang and called out to one another across the deep reef-pools.

"Ai-e-eh!" cried a tall, slender girl, naked to her hips, around
which she wore, like her older and younger companions, a broad,
woven sash of gaily-coloured banana fibre--"ai-e-eh! 'tis a cold
rain, but now will the fish bite fast, and I shall take me home a
heavier basket than any of ye here;" and then she deftly swung her
long bamboo rod over the pool on whose rugged brink she stood.

"Tah!  Listen to her!" called out a round-faced, merry-eyed little
woman who fished on the other aide.  "Listen to Niya the Wisehead!
She hath not yet caught a fish, and now boasteth of the great
basketful she will take home!  Get thee home for thy father's seine
net, for thou canst not catch anything with thy rod;" and the
speaker, with a good-humoured laugh, took a small fish out of the
basket that hung at her side and threw it at the girl.

Niya, too, laughed merrily as she ducked her head and twisted her
lithe young body sideways, and the fish, flying past her face,
struck a boy who stood near to her in the back.

He swung round, and with mock ferocity hurled the fish back at she
who threw it.

"That for thee, fat-faced Tulpé; and would that it had gone into
thy big mouth and down thy throat and choked thee!  Then would thy
husband call me friend, and seek out another wife; for, look thou,
Tulpé, thou art getting old and ugly now."

A loud shriek of laughter from Niya, a merry, mocking echo from
those about her, joined in with Tulpé's own good-natured chuckle,
and then, flinging down their rods and baskets, they sprang into
the water one after another and played and laughed and gambolled
like the children they were all in heart if not in years.

By and by the sun came out, hot and fierce, and the women and
children, rods in hand and baskets on backs, made homewards to
their village across the broken surface of the reef.  Right before
them it lay, a cluster of some two or three score of grey-thatched,
saddle-backed houses, with slender sharp-pointed gables at either
end.

Nearest to the beach and distinguishable from the others by its
great size was the dwelling of Togusa, the chief of Lêla Harbour.
At a distance of fifty feet or so from its canework sides a low
wall of coral slabs surrounded it on four sides, with gateways at
back and front.  Within, the walled-in space was covered with snow-
white pebbles of broken coral, save where a narrow pathway led from
the front gateway to the open doorway of the house.

On came the fishers, the older of the women walking first in twos
and threes, the young girls and boys following in a noisy, laughing
crowd.  But as they drew nearer to the low stone wall their
babbling laughter died away, and they spoke to each other in
lowered tones.  For it had ever been the custom of Kusaie* to speak
in a whisper in the presence of a chief, and Togusa, chief of Lêla,
was master of the lives of four thousand of the people.  Other
chiefs were there on Kusaie who lived at Utwe and Mout and Leassé,
and whose people exceeded in numbers those of the chief of Lêla,
but none were there whose name was so old and whose fame in battle
would compare with his.


* Strong's Island, the eastern outlier of the Caroline Archipelago.


So, with softened steps and bodies bent, the women entered through
the narrow gateway one by one and knelt down in front of the door
in the manner peculiar to the women of the Caroline Islands,
bringing their thighs together and turning their feet outward and
backward.  Apart from them, and clustering together, were the boys,
each sitting cross-legged with outspread hands upon the pebbled
ground.  And then all, women, girls, and boys, bent their eyes to
the ground and waited.

Presently there came to the open doorway of the chief's house an
old, white-haired woman, who supported her feeble steps with a
stick of ebony wood.  For a moment or two she looked at the people
assembled before her, and then a girl who followed her placed upon
the canework verandah of the house a broad, white mat, and spread
it out for her to sit upon.  Slowly the old woman stooped her time-
worn frame and sat, and then the slave-girl crouched behind her,
and, with full, luminous eyes, looked over her mistress's shoulder.

Suddenly the dame raised her stick and tapped it twice on the cane
work floor, and then, with a quick, soundless motion, the fishers
rose, and with bent heads and stooping bodies crept up near to her
and laid their baskets of fish silently at her feet.

But though they spoke not themselves, each one as she or he placed
a basket down looked at Sipi, the slave, and made a slight movement
of the lips, and Sipi, in a low voice and looking straight before
her, murmured the giver's name to the old woman.

"'Tis the gift of Kinio, the wife of Nara, to Seaa, the mother of
Togusa the King."

"'Tis the gift of Leja, the daughter of Naril, to Seaa, the mother
of the King."

And so, one by one, they laid down their tribute till the offering
was finished and they had crept back again to the place where they
had first awaited old Seaa's coming, and now they sat and waited
for the King's mother to speak.

"Come hither, Niya."

At the sound of the old woman's voice the girl Niya came quickly
out from amongst her companions and sat down beside the piled-up
baskets of fish.

"Count thee out ten fish for Togusa the King, ten each for his
wives, and two for Sipi, the slave."

With deft hands the girl did the old dame's bidding and placed the
fish side by side upon narrow leaf platters brought to her by the
young slave-girl.

"Good," said old Seaa, smiling at the girl, for Niya was niece to
Sikra, and Sikra was one of the King's most trusted warriors and
nephew to old Seaa.

"Good child.  And now, tell the people that Togusa the King is
sick, and so comes not out to-day to see their offerings of
goodwill to him and his house.  So let them away to their homes,
taking with them all the fish they have brought save these fifty
and two here before me."

Again the women crept up, and each taking up her basket again
walked slowly away through the gateway and disappeared among the
various houses.  But Niya, at a sign from the King's mother,
remained, and sat down beside Sipi, the slave.

By and by, with much stamping of feet and singing a loud chorus,
came a party of men, tall, stalwart fellows, stripped to their
waists, with their long black hair tied up in a knob at the back of
their heads.  As they reached the gate their song ceased, and each
man placed the basket of taro or yams he carried at the feet of the
old dame.  From each basket the girl Niya, at old Seaa's command,
took one taro and a small yam for the King's household; then the
men, picking up the baskets again, followed the women into the
village.

So for another hour came parties of men and women and children,
brown, healthy, strong and vigorous, carrying their daily offerings
to the King of fish and fowl and wild pigeons, and baked pigs and
young coconuts, and bananas and other fruits of the rich and
fertile Kusaie.

Then, when the last of them had come and gone, the slave-girl Sipi
put a small conch shell to her lips and blew a note, and men and
women--slaves like herself--appeared from the rear of the house and
carried the baskets away to the King's cook-houses.

                          * * * * *

This was the daily life of Lêla.  At the very break of dawn, when
the trees and grass were heavy with the dews of the night, and the
flocks of mountain parrots screamed shrilly at the rising sun and
the wild boar scurried away to his forest lair, the people were up
and at work among their plantations or out upon the blue expanse of
Lêla Harbour in their canoes.  For though there was no need for
them to do but the merest semblance of toil, yet it was and always
had been the custom of the land for each family to bring a daily
gift of food to the King.  Sometimes if a whaleship lay outside the
harbour the King would take all they brought, to sell to the ship
in exchange for guns and powder, and bright Turkey red cloth; but
beyond this he took but little of all that they gave him day after
day.  They were a happy, contented race, and their land was a land
of wondrous fertility and smiling plenty.

                          * * * * *

Sometimes, even in those far-off days, a whale-ship cruising north-
westwards to the Moluccas, or the coast of Japan, would sail close
in, back her mainyard and send her boats ashore and wait till they
returned laden to the gunwales with turtle, yams and fruit.  Dearly
would the crew--as they gazed upon the bright beaches and the
thickly-clustered groves of palms amid which nestled the gray roofs
of thatch--have liked the ship to have sailed in, and heard the
cable rattle through the hawse-pipes as her anchor plunged through
the glassy depths of Lêla Harbour.  But Lêla was seldom entered by
a ship of any size.  Her boats might come in if the captain so
choose, and the rough, reckless seamen might wander to and fro
among the handsome, brown-skinned people and make sailors' love to
the laughing Kusaie maidens till the ship fired a gun for them to
return; but the ship herself dared not enter.  Not that there was
danger of treachery from the people, but because of the narrow,
tortuous passage and the fierce, swift current that ever eddied and
swirled through its reef-bound sides.  Once, indeed, in those olden
days the captain of an English whaleship, that lay-to outside, had
seen a small schooner lying snugly moored abreast of the King's
house, and had boldly sailed his own ship in and anchored beside
the little trading vessel.  In a week a dozen of his crew had
deserted, lured away from the toils of a sailor's life by the
smiles of the Kusaie girls.  Then he tried to get away before he
lost any more men.  Three times he tried to tow his ship out with
her five boats, and thrice, to the secret joy of the Kusaie people
and his crew, had he to return and anchor again; at the fourth
attempt the ship struck and went to pieces on the reef.

In those wild days, and for long years afterwards, there were some
five or six white men living on Kusaie.  They were of that class of
wanderers who are to be met with even now among the little known
Caroline and Pelew Groups and on some of the isolated islands of
the North Pacific.  Of those that lived on Kusaie, however, our
story has to do with but one, an old and almost decrepid sailor
named Charles Westall, who then lived at Lêla under the protection
of Togusa, as he had lived under the protection of that chief's
father thirty years before.  With those white men who lived in the
three other districts of the island he had had no communication for
nearly ten years, although he was separated from them but half a
day's journey by boat or canoe; not that he did not desire to see
them, but simply because the intense jealousy that prevailed
between the various native chiefs who ruled over these districts
made visiting a matter of danger and possible bloodshed.  Each
chief was extremely jealous of his white protégé, who, although he
was exceedingly well treated and lived on the fat of the land, was
yet kept under a friendly but rigid surveillance lest he should be
tempted to leave his own district and settle in another.

Westall, therefore, as his years and infirmities increased,
resigned himself to the knowledge that except when a ship might
call at Lêla, he would not be likely to ever converse again in his
mother tongue with men of his own colour.  He was, although an
uneducated man, one of singular energy and discernment, and had
during his forty years' residence on the island acquired a
considerable influence over the chief Togusa and the leading native
families.  He was by trade a ship's carpenter, and, attracted by
the intelligence of the natives and the professions of friendship
made to him by Togusa's father, had deserted from his ship to live
among them.  Unlike many of his class, he was neither a drunkard
nor a ruffian; and eventually marrying a daughter of one of the
minor chiefs of Lêla, he had settled down on the island for a
lifelong residence.  As the years went by and his family increased,
so did his status and influence with the natives, and at the time
of our story he lived in semi-European style in Lêla village, about
a stone's throw from the house of Togusa.  He had now some twenty
or thirty children by his five wives--for in accordance with native
custom he had to increase the number of his wives as his wealth and
influence grew--and these had mostly intermarried with natives of
pure blood, so that in course of years the old English sailor's
household resembled that of some Scriptural patriarch who was
honoured in the land.

Early in the morning on the day following the scene described at
the King's house, old Westall was sitting outside his boatshed
smoking his pipe and watching some of his white-brown grand-
children at play, when a young native girl came quickly along the
groves of breadfruit and coconut and called out that she had news
for him--a ship, she said, was in sight.

"Come thou inside, little one," said the old sailor, kindly,
speaking in the Kusaie tongue.  (Indeed he had but seldom occasion
to speak English.)

The girl was Niya, the niece of Sikra, and was betrothed to Ted,
one of old Westall's younger sons.  She was about fifteen or so,
and was possessed of that graceful carriage and those faultlessly
straight features common to women of the Micronesian Islands.

Seating herself on the ground beside the old man, and, in
accordance with native fashion, not deigning to notice her lover,
who was that moment at work in his father's boatshed, the girl told
Westall that she and some other girls had seen a small white-
painted ship about four miles off, making towards Lêla.

The old sailor's face instantly became troubled and he called to
his son to come to him.

"Ted," said the old man, speaking in English, "that mission ship
has come at last, and now there's goin' to be a bit of trouble.
You see if there won't."

Edward Westall, a short, thick-set youth of twenty, with a darker
complexion than that of the girl who sat at his father's feet,
leant upon the adze he carried and said in his curious broken
English:  "How you know she's mission'ry?  Has you ever seen
mission'ry ship?"

"No," replied the old man, shortly; "an' I don't want to see one.
But I know it's a mission'ry ship.  She's painted white, an' I
heard from Captain Deaver of the Hattie K. Deaver that there was a
mission ship at Honolulu two years ago, an' she was painted white,
an' was comin' here right through this group, blarst her!"

"Well, an' what you goin' to do?  You think Togusa goin' to let a
mission'ry come ashore an' live?"

"That's just what I don't know, boy.  Togusa likes the white men,
an' maybe he may take to these Yankee psalm-singers.  An' if he
does, it just means that you an' me an' all the rest of us will
have to clear out of here and seek for a livin' elsewheres.  They
is hungry beggars, these mission'ries, and drives every other white
man away from wherever they settles down.  An' I'm gettin' too old
now to be badgered about by people like them."

"W'y don' you go and tell Togusa to keep 'em from comin' ashore?"

The old man shook his head.  "No good, boy.  I managed to block one
mission'ry from landing here--that feller that came here in the
Shawnee whaler when you was a babby--an' I've always been telling
Togusa that it will be a bad day for him when he lets one of them
come here, but," and he shook his head again, "he's a weak man, and
just like a child.  His father was another sort, an' had a head
chock full o' sense."

For a moment the old seaman seemed sunk in thought, and then
suddenly aroused himself.

"Ted," he said, "just you go along with Niya to her uncle Sikra and
tell him an' Jorani an' the other big chiefs to come here an' have
a talk with me.  Togusa is sick, an' so I can't get in to see him."

Throwing down his adze, the young half-caste beckoned to the girl
to rise and come with him.  With that passive obedience common
among women of her race when spoken to by a man, the girl instantly
rose and followed her betrothed husband, who, from the broad blue
stripes of tattooing that covered his naked arms and thighs, would
never have been taken for anything else but a pure-blooded native.

Then old Westall, still wearing a troubled look upon his brown and
wrinkled face, walked slowly back to his thatched dwelling and sat
down to wait for the native chiefs to talk with them over the
danger that--from his point of view--menaced them all.

                          * * * * *

Four miles away the mission brig--for such indeed was the strange
ship--was sailing slowly along the precipitous northern coast of
the island.  On the poop deck were four clerical gentlemen clothed
in heavy black, and each bore in his face an expression of great
interest as the various points of the beautiful island opened to
their view.

Seated a little apart from the others, as befitted his position and
dignity as their leader, was the Reverend Gilead Bawl.  He was a
man of nearly six feet in height, with shaven upper lip and white
beard, and his eyes, keen, cold and gray, had for the past ten
minutes been bent over a copy of the Scriptures, outspread upon his
huge knees.

Of his four colleagues all that need be said is that in manner of
speech, dress, and appearance generally they were minor editions of
the Reverend Bawl.  They were but strangers in the Islands, having
only arrived at Honolulu from Boston six months previously and had
been selected by their principal--the Reverend Gilead--to accompany
him on his present mission.

Presently Mr. Bawl closed the book and rising from his seat walked
up to the captain, who was anxiously scrutinising the line of reef
along which the mission brig was sailing.

"Friend," said he, placing his hand with condescending familiarity
on the captain's shoulder, and speaking in soft, gentle tones, "it
hath pleased Gawd to bless us with a prosperous v'yage to this, the
first cawner of the Vineyard, and ere we sail into the haven before
us and ventoor our lives among the ragin' heathen, it would be well
for us to stay the ship awhile while the brethren and myself,
together with the mariners of this chosen bark, render up our
offerins' of praise and thanksgivin' for the manifold mercies
vouchsafed to us upon the stormy ocean."

A subdued murmur of approval came from one of the younger
missionaries, who, clasping his hands together, gazed with a rapt
expression at Mr. Bawl.

The captain of the brig looked and felt uncomfortable.  "Jest as
you please, sir, but I would like to get the ship to an anchor as
quickly as possible.  I've never been here before and this Strong's
Islander we have brought with us seems kinder stupid, and I really
believe the creature doesn't know enough for me to take the ship in
by his directions.  I guess he's a fool--"

The missionary's face assumed a loftily severe expression.

"Captain Branden, you surprise me--nay, more, you pain me.  This
young man"--and he placed his large, coarse hand on the head of an
undersized native, clothed like himself, in a long black coat and
wearing a stovepipe hat with a wide, battered rim--"you do, indeed,
pain me when you speak of this pious young man--one of Gawd's
ministers--as a fool."

The native he indicated, who, twelve months before, had been one of
the crew of an American whaleship, but was now the Reverend Purity
Lakolalai, turned a dull, stupid face upon the captain, and,
encouraged by the protecting glance of his white leader, muttered
something under his breath.

"Well, I meant no offence, Mr. Bawl; but I feel somewhat anxious
about getting to an anchor as soon as possible."

"Captain Branden," said the missionary, pompously, "it is my wish
and the wish of the brethren with me that we offer up supplication
for the success of our cause.  Will you kindly call the mariners to
the stern of the ship, so that they may join with us in devotional
exercises befittin' the occasion?"

The master of the brig nodded; and muttering the words "darned rot"
under his breath gave the order for the crew to lay aft.

It is necessary to explain that the presence of the Reverend Mr.
Bawl and his brethren was largely due to the fact that twelve
months previously the Reverend Purity Lakolalai--then a native
sailor--had run away from his ship at Honolulu.  He was a low-caste
Strong's Islander, and spoke whaleship English fluently.  By some
means he came under the notice of the Reverend Gilead, who,
learning that he was a native of Kusaie, immediately set about his
conversion, with the result that Lakolalai, being in a certain
sense a man of the world and deeply sensible of the material
advantages to be derived from his new friends, expressed the
deepest grief at his own and his countrymen's ignorance of the
truths of the gospel.  In the course of a week or two reports were
sent home to Boston that, by a marvellous dispensation of
Providence, an intelligent young "chief" had been rescued from the
degrading life of a whaler's foc's'cle, and had "greatly moved" the
American brethren at Honolulu by his pictures of the hopeless
savagery and sinful customs of his people.  Furthermore, he had
become "concerned" for his soul's welfare, and was now at that time
"eagerly imbibing the Truth with tears of thankfulness."  As a
natural corollary to this intelligence subscriptions were asked for
to send out a band of brethren to plant the Word on the heathen
field of Kusaie.  In due course the subscriptions and brethren
came, and then followed the imposing function of ordaining
Lakolalai, formerly a slave and a "burning brand," a minister of
the American Board of Missions.  Then came the departure of the
mission brig from Honolulu with the missionary party just
described.

An hour afterward, the devotions concluded, the brig sailed into
Lêla Harbour and dropped anchor off the King's house.

                          * * * * *

At eight o'clock next morning nearly a thousand natives were
assembled on the gravelled space in front of the King's house, all
waiting to see the white strangers land.  Already a rumour had gone
forth that they were the bearers of a message from a great king to
their own chief Togusa, but who the white king was and what the
message was about none knew.

In a few minutes a boat left the ship and rowed to the beach, and
four white men, wearing stovepipe hats and carrying white
umbrellas, stepped out and walked up to the King's gateway; at
their heels followed Mr. Lakolalai, dressed in exactly the same
manner, and carrying, in addition to his umbrella, a large, heavy
volume.

At the entrance to the King's grounds the party halted, and then
some discussion took place between them and Brother Lakolalai, who
seemed inclined to fall back.

"'Tis but the weakness of the flesh," said Mr. Bawl to his
brethren; "our brother is somewhat afraid of venturing into the
presence of this pore heathen king."

"Yes," said Brother Lakolalai, with emphasis, and, in his
excitement, reverting to his whaleship English.  "Me 'fraid.  You
see, I no belong to Lêla; I belong to Utwe--on other side of this
island.  By ---- I afraid to go inside King's house here.  He d----
big king and break my head."

A pained look came into the brethren's eyes, but the Reverend
Gilead at any rate was not wanting in courage, and seizing the
Reverend Purity Lakolalai by the arm he drew him along with him.
Followed by the brethren, they ascended the steps that led up to
the King's house, and in another moment were inside.

The room was a very large one, capable of holding half the
population of the village.  At the further end, seated upon mats,
were the leading chiefs.  Above them, lying upon a slightly raised
couch, was Togusa, the sick chief.  He was a man of about thirty,
with a thick jet-black beard and pale features, and his countenance
showed traces of recent illness.

The moment the missionaries entered, the natives, who were gathered
outside, followed them in, the men sitting on one side of the room,
the women on the other.  As soon as Mr. Bawl and his brethren had
approached within a few feet of the King, the missionary motioned
to his companions to stop, and advanced alone with hand
outstretched.

"You are King Togusa; I am the Reverend Gilead Bawl, and I bring
you peace beyond price an' a message from the King ev Kings."

The sick chief shook his head feebly in return, and failing to
understand Mr. Bawl's remark, inquired in broken English if he had
"come to buy pigs and yams."

"Not pigs, my dear brother, nor yet yams; but souls;" and the
Reverend Gilead smiled benignantly, and then with the rest of the
brethren sat down upon the rude stool to which the King motioned
them.  The Reverend Purity Lakolalai, however, sat quite apart from
them, on the floor, with a very uneasy expression on his face.

For a moment or so Togusa spoke in an undertone to his chiefs.  He
was anxious to learn the motive of the white men's visit, and felt
that his limited knowledge of English was not equal to the task of
carrying on a conversation with them.  Presently, however, his eye
lighted up when he saw, coming through the doorway, the old white
man, Westall, who was attended by four or five of his half-caste
sons.

"Tell Challi* to come and talk to these men in their own tongue,"
he said to one of those of his chiefs who sat about him.


* Charlie.


Dressed in his seamen's suit of blue dungaree, and holding his
broad palm-leaf hat in his hand, the old seaman advanced through
the crowded room, and first greeting the King and chiefs in the
native language, he turned to the missionaries.

"Good-day, gentlemen.  My name is Charlie Westall.  I live here.
The King wishes me to ask you what is your business and in what way
he can serve you.  You see, gentlemen, he doesn't speak but little
English, and so he wishes me to talk for him."

Then the Reverend Gilead Bawl, rising to his feet, extended his
right hand, and pointing a large forefinger at the old white man,
spoke.

"Old man, I hev' heerd of you.  You are one of those unfor'nit
persons who are out of the Lord's fold, and whose dangerous and
pernicious example to these pore heathens has done sich harm.  You
may tell the King from me that I cannot talk to him through such a
wicked man as you air."

Old Westall laughed a soft, sarcastic laugh.  "Thank ye, sir, I'll
tell him that," and then, turning to the King, he said--

"The white men have come here to give thee and thy people a new
religion; but he will not talk of it to thee, O Togusa, by my
lips."

"Why is that?" said the King, mildly, his dark eyes moving
alternately from the face of the missionary to that of the old
white man.

"Because, he sayeth, I am a bad and wicked man, and have taught
thee and thy people evil."

The King's eyes flashed angrily, and he made a movement as if he
would spring from his couch, but in an instant he was calm again.

"That is well, Challi.  Let him, then, if he mistrusts thee, find
some one else to tell me of his business here in Kusaie."

"The King, sir," said old Westall, again addressing himself to the
missionary, "says that he is willing to hear what you have to say--
if not through me, then through any one of you or your ship's
company who can speak his language."

The calm, quiet tones of the old seaman, covering, as it did the
rage and contempt he felt for the person addressed, deceived not
only the Reverend Mr. Bawl and his colleagues, but their coloured
brother, the Reverend Purity Lakolalai as well.  He now stepped
forward, Bible in one hand, stovepipe hat in the other.  An
encouraging smile on Mr. Bawl's face gave him courage to proceed.

Then, in the midst of a dead and ominous silence, the native
minister addressed the King.  His speech was a curious one, and not
at all one that even Mr. Bawl, with all his ministerial pedantry
and silly pomposity, would have approved of had he known its gist.
First, he warned the King and his people of the wrath to come if
they continued in heathenism; secondly, that old Westall and all
other white men but missionaries would be taken away by a man-of-
war, and cast into a lake of burning fire called Hell; thirdly,
that the good and chosen people lived at Honolulu only, and the
Reverend Gilead Bawl was a very rich man, and the friend of the
President of the United States and God; fourthly, that if Togusa
would cast away his idols, and keep but one wife, and take the
missionaries to his bosom, that he would not be taken away to the
lake of fire with the bad white men, but when he died his soul
would be taken in a man-of-war to Honolulu first, and then to
Boston, to live with God and President Andrew Jackson; fifthly,
that he, Lakolalai, had been a very bad man, but now he had been
"washed" and was filled with a powerful "ejon" (witchcraft) which
would make him live for ever.

With his chin supported on his right hand the King of Lêla listened
with unmoved countenance to the native minister's speech.  Then,
when he had finished, he turned to Sikra, his favourite chief.

"Who is this man?" he asked, and at the savage energy of his tones
the native minister quailed.

"He is Lakolalai, a pig (a slave) from Utwe.  He went away from
here two years ago."

"Good," and a grim smile stole over the King's features.  "Thou
hast heard what he has said, and the lies he has told me.  Does he
and these foolish white men think that I, Togusa, who ever since my
birth have known white men, have not heard of these wizards they
call missionaries, who would steal the hearts of my people from
their gods, and make slaves of them to the god who rules over the
lake of fire--bah!" and he spat fiercely on the ground, and then
shook his hand threateningly at the missionaries.  "Away from here
I tell thee.  I have heard of thee and know of thy wizardry.  Shall
I, Togusa, be a like fool to Kamehameha of Hawaii* and yield up my
country and my wives and my slaves to such dogs as thee?  Go, get
thee away to some other land while thy lives are yet safe.  But
yet"--and here he shot a quick glance at old Westall--"shalt thou
stay here awhile and see how Togusa shall do justice upon this dog
of Utwe, this Lakolalai, who comes into the presence of the King of
Lêla and threatens him with the vengeance of the Christ God, and
the Lake of Boiling Fire.  Take him, men of Lêla, and bind him like
as a hog is bound for the slaughter."


* The King of the Hawaiian Islands.


But with a wild, despairing cry the native minister had thrown
himself at the King's feet, and was pleading for mercy, while from
the assembled crowd of people there came a low, savage murmur--the
desire for vengeance upon a slave who had insulted their King.

"Gentlemen"--and old Westall advanced to the now alarmed
missionaries--"you had better get aboard again.  I bear you no ill-
will for the hard words you have spoken, but you have come upon a
fool's errand.  The King will have no missionaries here."

"Shameless and wicked old man," said one of the younger
missionaries, "would you incite these raging heathens to deeds of
bloodshed?  Think you that we, the ministers of God, are to be
lightly turned away by threats?  No!" and with a firm hand he
grasped Gilead Bawl by the arm.  "I for one shall not desert my
Master, but cheerfully give up my life for the Cause."

With a contemptuous smile old Westall turned away from him and
walked over to and stood beside the King.  Then he raised his hand.

"Gentlemen, you have had your say.  Now let me have mine.  There is
no danger to any of you--at least to any of you who are white.  But
listen; for forty years I have lived here among these people, and
as long as I do live here no mission'ry shall ever set foot again
on this island.  These natives may all go to hell as you say, but
that is none of your business--they've been goin' there cheerful
enough for the last five hundred years.  Now, don't be afraid, no
one is going to hurt you, but the King wants to ask you a question
or two before you go."

With a pale face, but a certain amount of resolution in his cold
gray eyes, the Reverend Gilead Bawl stepped out from the others and
spoke again to the King.

"Beware, O Togusa, of this old man.  He is a bad man," and then he
suddenly ceased as the King raised himself upon his tattooed and
naked arm.

"Christ-man, answer me this.  This dog here"--and he pointed
scornfully at the grovelling figure of the native minister--"this
dog sayeth that he will live for ever by reason of the new faith he
hath gotten from thee."

"Man," said the missionary, springing forward, after old Westall
had interpreted the King's words, "I implore you, nay, command you,
on peril of the loss of your immortal soul, to give this unhappy
heathen my true answer.  Tell him that Lakolalai, God's minister,
will have eternal life hereafter, even if these godless heathens
now take his life."

Then Westall turned to the King.

"The Christ-man sayeth, O Togusa, that this man, Lakolalai, will
have life for ever."

"Ha," said Togusa, "now shall we see if this be true."

Two men advanced, and seizing the native minister, stood him upon
his trembling feet.

"Stand aside, gentlemen, if you please," said old Westall quietly
to the missionaries.  They moved aside, and then Togusa, calling to
Sikra, the chief, pointed to the wretched Lakolalai.

"Take thou thy spear, Sikra, and thrust it through this man's body.
And if he live, then shall I believe that he will live for ever."

And Sikra, with a fierce smile, seized his heavy, ebony wood spear,
and as he raised his right hand and poised the weapon, the men who
held Lakolalai's arms suddenly stretched them widely apart.

The spear sped from Sikra's hand, and spinning through the
convert's body, fell near the feet of the Reverend Gilead Bawl and
his brethren at the other end of the room.

                          * * * * *

In another hour the mission ship was under weigh again, and old
Westall was seated at home smoking his pipe and playing with his
grandchildren, and smiling inwardly as he glanced seaward and saw
the white sails of the brig far away to the westward.

But, after all, the visit of the mission ship was long remembered
by the people of Kusaie, and for their wickedness were they sorely
afflicted; for the garments of the late Reverend Purity Lakolalai
were given by Togusa to one of his favourite slaves, who soon
afterwards died of measles, and in less than a month seven hundred
other godless heathens followed him, and old Charlie Westall, with
Ted and Niya his wife, and his maid-servants and man-servants and
all that was his cleared away from the disease-stricken island, and
sailed in search of a new land called Ponape, which lieth far to
the westward.




MRS. MALLESON'S RIVAL


Jim Malleson lived on Tarawa, one of the Gilbert Islands, in
Equatorial Polynesia.  He was a tall, thin, melancholy looking man,
with pale blue eyes and a straggling sandy beard that grew upon his
long chin in a half-hearted, indefinite sort of way.  His trading
station was situated at the most northerly point of the whole atoll--
a place where the thin strip of low-lying sandy soil that belted
the blue waters of Tarawa Lagoon was narrowed down to a few hundred
yards in width--barely sufficient, one would imagine, to prevent
the thundering breakers that flung themselves against the weather
side of the island from hurtling through the thinly-growing coconut
and pandanus groves, and pouring over into the calm waters of the
inland sea, carrying everything, including Malleson's ramshackle
house, before them.  Denison, the supercargo of the Indiana, had,
indeed, mentioned the possibility of such an occurrence to Malleson
one day, and offered to shift him further down the lagoon, but his
offer was declined--he was quite satisfied, he said, to stay where
he was and take his chance.

For some unknown reason Malleson, although on perfectly friendly
terms with the four or five other white men who lived on Apiang,
the nearest island in the Gilbert Group to Tarawa, yet seldom
associated with them.  He was the only white man on Tarawa, and,
although the two islands are not a day's sail apart, he had never
raised energy enough to sail his boat over to Apiang and return the
many visits he had had from the traders there.  But, in spite of
his owl-like solemnity, he was not by any means unsociable, and
would occasionally unbend to a certain extent.  One curious thing
about him was that, although he had now been living alone on Tarawa
for two years, he had never been married.  Now, for a trader to
remain single was, in native eyes, extremely undignified, and not
calculated to raise him in public estimation; any white man who
could show such a disregard of the conventionalities of native life
and custom, necessarily became an object of suspicion to the native
mind.  However, as he was a quiet, non-interfering man, who
quarrelled with no one, conducted himself with the strictest
propriety, and refrained from cheating in the pursuit of his
business, he gradually begat confidence and respect among the
fierce, warlike Tarawans; so much so that at the end of two years
he had become the most prosperous trader in the Gilbert Group, and
his huge, ill-built storehouse was generally filled to bursting
with copra (dried coconut) and sharks' fins whenever a trading ship
entered the lagoon and dropped anchor off his station.  So steadily
did his business and his reputation for fair dealing increase with
the natives, that, after a time, fleets of canoes would visit
Tarawa, coming, some from Marakei, fifty miles to the north, and
some from the great lagoon island of Apamama, a hundred miles to
the south-east, bringing with them their produce of dried coconut
to be exchanged with the white man for coloured prints, calicoes,
arms, tobacco, and liquor.

The white men living on Apiang and the other atolls in the group
could not but experience a feeling of vexation that Malleson, who,
as they said, was the laziest man in the South Seas, should divert
so much custom and so many dollars from their islands to his.  Day
after day they would see large sailing canoes filled with dried
coconut and other native produce sailing past their very doors
bound to Malleson's place; but being on the whole a decent lot of
men, they bore their successful rival no ill-will, accepted matters
(after a time) philosophically, and lived in the hopes of Malleson
being found cheating by the natives, and either getting himself
tabooed from further trading, or being warned off the island by the
chiefs.

So one day, after business jealousies had quite subsided, they
again manned their boats and visited him, and, knowing that many
months had passed since a ship had called at Tarawa, they bore with
them the gift of friendship peculiar to the country--some half a
dozen or so of Hollands gin--in order to cheer up his lonely
existence by endeavouring to make him drunk.  But in this they had
always failed on previous occasions, for the more liquor he
consumed the more melancholy and owl-like of visage he became.
They had all also, individually and severally, endeavoured to
induce Malleson to give up his single life and permit them or one
of the chiefs of Tarawa to find him a suitable wife from among the
many hundreds of young marriageable girls on the island.  But their
kindly intentions proved unavailing, for Malleson distinctly
declared his intention of remaining as he was, and put some little
warmth into his manner of declaring that rather than have a native
wife forced upon him, he would barricade his house.

"I don't want any native wife, boys," he would say, solemnly.  "I
dessay you chaps mean well, an' wouldn't see me marry a girl as
wasn't no good, an' means to try and make me feel more comfortable;
but I ain't agoin' to do it."

But a plot against his further celibacy had been formed, not, it
must be mentioned, without ulterior views by one of the
participants therein, Mr. Andy O'Rourke, a genial, rollicking
trader on the island of Apiang.  He was agent for a firm trading in
opposition to Malleson's employers, had a large half-caste family,
and a very extensive native connection generally, both socially and
in business, and for a long time past had cogitated upon the
possibility of joining his fortunes with those of his successful
rival, to his own particular advantage financially, and that of
Malleson from a domestic point of view.  In short, he intended to
get Malleson married, and had already made up his mind that Tera,
his wife's sister, was eminently calculated to fill the position of
Mrs. Jimmy Malleson.  But to avoid any suspicion of underhand work
he determined to so arrange matters that no one of his fellow-
traders should ever suspect that he had any preconceived idea of
making Malleson his brother-in-law, and set about his plans in a
thoroughly open, genial Irish manner.

He had, therefore, proposed that on the present trip to Malleson's
they should as a matter of conjugal and family duty take their
wives, children, and relatives with them.

"We ought to give the women a run over to Malleson's, boys," he
said, when the trip was first proposed.  "It's the gogo (mutton-
bird) season over at Tarawa just now, and the women and children
would enjoy themselves fine getting the eggs and birds.  You'll
bring your wife, Davy, won't you?  Tom French's missus is coming,
and a couple of his daughters; and my wife wants to bring her
sister with her.  What d'ye say, boys?"

So over they came, each trader sailing his own boat, and carrying
with him his native wife and half-caste family, all bent upon
having a thoroughly good time at Tarawa, for the people of the two
islands were now at peace.  Seated aft in Andy's boat, between his
wife and himself, was the pretty Tera, who had been well tutored by
her sister Lebonnai in the part she was to play in captivating the
heart of Malleson.  And although Tera had frankly admitted that she
had looked to get a handsomer and younger husband than the one her
brother-in-law designed for her, she was a dutiful girl, and
consented to sacrifice herself upon the altar of family affection
with resigned and unobtrusive cheerfulness.

As the boats, with their snow-white sails bellying out to the trade-
wind, sped along over the long ocean swell, Davy Walsh, whose boat
was nearest, called out to Andy (they were all sailing close
together)--

"I wonder how old Malleson's piggy-wiggy is getting on?"

A general laugh followed, for Malleson's affection for his pig was
a source of continual amusement to his fellow-traders.

                          * * * * *

About a year after he had landed on Tarawa, a passing Puget Sound
lumber ship, bound to the Australian colonies, had hove-to off
Malleson's place for an hour or two.  He had boarded her, and in
exchange for some young coconuts and bananas, the American skipper
had presented him with a pig of the male sex, informing him that
the animal was of a high lineage in the porcine line.  Malleson had
been much struck with the promising proportions and haughty but
reserved demeanour of the creature as it poked about the deck, and
at once conceived the idea of improving the breed of pigs on the
island--not, of course, from disinterested motives, but as a means
of adding to his income.

As time went on the pig grew and throve amazingly, and the fame of
the beast spread throughout the Gilbert Group; and Malleson's
anticipations with regard to his own profit in possessing such an
animal were amply verified.  Natives from outlying villages, and
finally from islands a hundred miles distant, came to look at his
pig, and a deputation of leading old men (i.e., the village
councillors) from Apiang visited Malleson with the object of
conveying the pig, as a friendly loan, to their august master, the
King.  But to this he would not consent, pointing out politely, but
firmly withal, the risks attendant upon carrying such a valuable
animal in an open canoe a distance of forty miles; besides that, he
had become attached to the creature, he said, and would be lonely
without him.  The deputation thanked the trader, and withdrew.

                          * * * * *

As the visitors' boats sailed across the lagoon, and brought-to in
front of Malleson's dilapidated dwelling, the trader came out of
his house, and walked down the beach to meet them; and Andy
O'Rourke noted with envy that Malleson's storehouses, the doors of
which were wide open, were full to bursting of copra.

"Come up to the house," said the melancholy-looking man, shaking
hands with them all in a limp sort of manner.  "My boys (servants)
will bring your traps up out o' the boats; but"--and here he
glanced dejectedly at the women--"I'm afraid that my house is too
small to hold you all.  Perhaps the women and children wouldn't
mind sleepin' in my boathouse just for to-night.  To-morrow I can
get a house run up for 'em."

"That's all right, old chap," said Andy, slapping his solemn-
visaged host on the back; "but, if you don't mind, Lebonnai and her
sister will stay with me in your house.  You see, Tera--that's her
coming up now--was a bit seasick coming over, and my wife got a
touch of the sun; they are both complaining a bit.  However, they
won't trouble you much.  Just let 'em have a corner to themselves."

"'Tain't much of a place for women," said Malleson, disconsolately,
as he looked at his dirty, untidy sitting-room, with its floor
covered with ragged, worn-out mats, and then at Lebonnai and Tera,
tall, stately, and graceful in their white muslin gowns and broad
Panama hats.  "You see, I does my own cookin', and on'y straightens
up onst a week or so.  But I'll get some o' the village women to
come in and clean up the place a bit."

"No, you won't, old man," said Andy cheerfully; "my wife has
brought plenty of sleeping-mats, and she and Tera--a smart girl is
Tera--will soon fix up a place."  Andy now had an opening to let
Malleson see what a handy girl Tera was, and what an excellent
housewife she would make.

So, while the wily Andy and Tom French, Dave Walsh, and Pedro
Calice sat outside with Malleson, and smoked and drank lager beer
and gin, pretty Tera, whose mind was full of the possibilities of
becoming Mrs. Malleson and pleasing her sister and brother-in-law,
hustled her sister about, and set to work.  First of all, though,
she took off her starched muslin gown, and hung it up carefully,
revealing her shapely figure (clothed in but a short skirt of pink
print) in the most innocent and natural manner possible.  Then for
the next ten minutes she and Lebonnai were busily engaged in
dragging out the dirty old mats, and replacing them with clean ones
brought from the boats, clearing off the awful collection of empty
salmon and sardine tins from the soiled table, and touching up the
room here and there and everywhere.

"He's very old-looking, and hath weak, watery eyes," whispered Tera
to her sister, who was carrying out a basket full of débris to
throw away on the beach.

"Speak low, thou little fool; he may hear thee.  And what if he is
old and watery-eyed?  Is he not a white man and rich, and with a
good character?"

Tera shrugged her smooth, rounded shoulders, and went on sweeping,
glancing now and then at the long, awkward figure of her
prospective husband.

"Well, old man," said Davy, addressing his host, "how's business,
and how's the pig?"

"Come an' see him," answered Malleson with unusual promptitude;
"he's lookin' fine."

The traders exchanged sly, amused glances, but at once rose and
followed him to a little compactly built pig-pen of thick coconut
logs, which was sheltered from sun and rain by a wide roof of
pandanus thatch.  Inside, on a bed of clean grass, lay an enormous
black and white boar pig, asleep.

This was "Brian."

"He don't like bein' disturbed too soon after his breakfast," said
Malleson, as the four men bent over the fence and gazed at the
recumbent animal; "he gets mad sometimes, an' don't eat."

"Is that so?" said French, with an appearance of deep interest.

"Yes.  You see he's got very reg'lar habits, an' don't like bein'
worried after a meal.  But any way, as you chaps don't see him
often, I'll wake him."

Hoisting one of his long legs over the low coconut fence, the
trader got into the pen, and slapping the huge beast gently on the
rump, called, "Brian, Brian, get up, old man; it's on'y me an'
Andy, an' Tom French an' Davy Walsh."

Brian wouldn't move, but his thick, hideous lip gave a slight
quiver.

"He wants a lot o' coaxin', don't he?" said Malleson, with a faint
blink of amusement, and then he began to scratch the monster's back
with his forefinger.  This partially roused the object of his
solicitude, who gave vent to a grunt of enjoyment, and lifting one
hind leg slightly, pushed it out astern; then with another and
fainter grunt he lay quiet again.

"Won't he stand up?" queried Andy.

"No, not now.  But we'll come back when it gets a bit cooler.  He
enjoys the wind when it's a bit westerly, like it is now, and
generally stands up in the corner there to get a sniff--there, d'ye
see that little port-hole I've cut?  Well, he likes looking through
that sometimes, watching the village pigs cruisin' about on the
beach.  I've been givin' him cooked fish lately.  Don't believe in
raw fish for him--heats his blood too much an' gives him a kind o'
nightmare."

"Just so," said Davy, sympathetically; "makes him cry out in his
sleep I suppose.  Well, he's looking all right, anyway."

                          * * * * *

"Come along the beach for a bit of a stroll," said Andy O'Rourke to
Malleson that night.  The other two men had turned in, and Andy had
been waiting for a chance to have a quiet talk to his host.  As
they went out Andy pointed to the recumbent figures of Mrs. Andy
and her sister, who were apparently sound asleep at the end of the
sitting-room, and said--

"They look all right and comfy, don't they?"

They did look all right, and even the owl-like, watery-eyed
Malleson smiled approvingly.  One of Tera's soft, rounded arms
supported her sister's head, and her face rested against her bosom.
As the men's footsteps disturbed the coral gravel that was spread
over the path outside the house, the younger woman pretended to
awake, rose, and followed them.

"Anti," she called in the native language, "tell the white man that
if he will give me a piece of soap, Lebonnai and I shall wash his
clothes in the morning."  (Result of prompting from Lebonnai
aforesaid during the night.)

Of course, Malleson understood the native tongue, and as he walked
away with Andy he said that Tera "was a good-hearted girl to
trouble about his dirty clothes."

"She is that.  Look here, old man, she's a regular star of a girl.
Now, I ain't going to beat about the bush.  I brought her here
thinking you might take a likin' to her, and marry her.  She'll be
a fine wife for you, and make you comfortable.  What do you say?
She's willin' enough, and there ain't a better-mannered girl
anywhere in the Gilbert Group; an' what's more, there isn't any
scandal about her."

Malleson made no reply for a minute or two.  Then he began filling
his pipe.  After he had lighted it he spoke.

"Look here, Andy, I'll just tell you the whole thing.  I'd be
willin' enough, but the fact is I'm a married man.  My old woman is
livin' in Auckland.  She's got a rotten temper, an' to make things
worse, she took up with some o' these here wimmen suffrage wimmen,
and used to jaw the head off herself tellin' me what a degradin'
beast I was to live with.  Well, things went on from bad to worse,
until one day I seed in the paper as Mrs. James Malleson had said
at a meetin' that she too had an unthinkin' husband as hadn't got
no intelligence.  That just finished me.  I cleared out from her,
and came down here with Captain Peate to start tradin'.  That was
two year ago.  I send her money every six months by the schooner,
but, although I won't ever go back to her again, I ain't a-goin' to
marry no native women.  It's bigamy."

"No, it ain't.  Not down in the islands anyway.  Why, it ain't
respectable for a man to be livin' by himself, as you are.  You can
marry Tera right enough.  Who's agoin' to know that you've a wife
in New Zealand."

"I would, and Peate would.  And besides that I ain't a-goin' to do
anything like that.  My wife's a holy terror, but, at the same
time, I know she's an honest woman, and I won't wrong her that
way."

Andy gave a long whistle of astonishment.  "Well, just as you like,
old man; but you beat anything I ever saw as a trader.  You ought
to get a billet as a missionary.  And do you mean to keep on livin'
like this, all alone?"

"Yes.  Why not?  I'm all right.  I'm doin' pretty well, and Brian
takes up a lot of my time when business is dull.  How do you think
he's lookin'?"

                          * * * * *

A week later pretty, black-browed Tera went away with her sister--
still single.  As the boats sailed from the white beach Malleson
stood in his doorway and waved his hand in farewell.

"She's a pretty little creatur'," he said as he watched the boats
heeling over to the breeze, "an' as merry as a lark.  I wonder if
Brian would ha' took to her?"

                          * * * * *

Sometimes the village children would come near to Brian's sty, and
ask Malleson to let them give the creature a young coconut, knowing
full well that the pleased trader would reward them individually by
a present of a ship biscuit in return.  At dusk Malleson, carrying
a huge wooden bowl full of tender coconut pulp and milk, would give
the pig his last meal for the day, and then stand and lean over the
fence and gaze admiringly down, as Brian thrust his round, pink
snout into the repast.

Sometimes also Malleson, although naturally a modest man, could not
but feel a proud swell of bosom, when, in the bright moonlight
nights, he would look and see perhaps thirty or forty natives from
the far end of the island, standing around the pig pen, rifles in
hand, discussing the magnificent proportions and money value of its
slumbering tenant.

                          * * * * *

A year went by, and then one day the Indiana sailed into the
lagoon.  The captain and Denison the supercargo soon came ashore
and met Malleson standing on the beach.

"How are you, Malleson?  Got much for me this trip?"

"About ninety tons of copra, Captain Peate.  Did you bring me those
two bags of maize for the pig?"

"D---- your old pig, man!  But of course I've brought it.  And I'm
going to take you back with me this trip."

"Why?" asked Malleson, wonderingly.

"Because I've seen Mrs. Malleson, and had a long yarn with her.
Here's a letter to you from her.  The fact is, Malleson, she's
fretting about you, and wants you to come back.  She told me it was
all her fault, but that if you come back she'll be a different
woman, and leave politics and woman suffrage alone."

Malleson opened and read his wife's letter, and then looked with a
troubled expression into the captain's face.

"Well," he sighed, "I s'pose I must go.  I can't stay away from my
lawful wife now she's goin' to turn over a new leaf, and quit
jawin' and naggin'.  Can you put Brian somewhere below?  I wouldn't
let him make the voyage on deck!  We might get bad weather on the
trip--it's just comin' on for the hurricane season now."

The skipper gazed at Malleson in wrathful astonishment.

"Curse your infernal beast of a pig!  I'm not going to have the
brute aboard my ship.  I'll buy him from you, if you like, and give
him to my Kanaka crew to eat."

Malleson laughed uneasily.  "You're fond of your joke, Captain.
However, we can arrange about him by and by, after the copra is
bagged and shipped."

"Arrange be hanged!  D'ye think I'm going to carry a confounded pig
as a passenger?  Perhaps you'd like to bring him in the cabin?  It
might be 'arranged,' though," he continued with bitter sarcasm.
"Denison and the mate and myself could sleep in the hold--that is,
if the pig wouldn't find the cabin too close for him when we lose
the south-east trades."

Malleson turned away indignantly.  He did not see anything to make
fun of in his anxiety for Brian.  Yet he went off, feeling that
Peate would relent before the day was out.  But his face fell when,
later on in the day, Captain Peate told him plainly that he could
not possibly take the pig, not even on deck.

"Sell him to the natives," suggested Denison, who was standing
near.

Malleson gave an indignant reply.  He never used bad language, but
it was very evident that he was greatly angered at the captain's
refusal to even have a deck house built for the pig's accommodation.
However, in the course of the day he had an interview with the local
chief; then he went back to Peate.

"I've arranged with the chief about Brian.  He's promised me that
when I come back next trip I'll find Brian all right, and well
cared for."

"When you come back!  What in the name of Heaven are you coming
back to this wretched place for?  The 'missus' won't hear of it."

"She'll have to hear of it; and what's more, if she doesn't like to
come back with me, she can stay behind.  I mean to come back, and
live here.  I'm doin' pretty well, and don't see why I should give
up my business to please her.  I might have got married native
fashion, an' been more comfortable, but wouldn't do it--it was
against my conscience.  At the same time, if you'll change your
mind, an' will take the pig away with me in the Indiana, I might
settle down again in New Zealand, an' try pig-farmin'."

"Oh, all right; please yourself," said the skipper, shortly.  "I'd
take the pig, if I could, but I can't.  We've none too much room
aboard now, and I can't build a deck house for such a hulking beast
as your cursed old pig."

Shortly after dawn next morning Malleson was ready.  He had spent
an hour or so in meditation over the pig pen, fed Brian for the
last time, and taken a tender farewell of him.  And, as he now
stepped out of his house for the last time, he gave the chief a
parting injunction.

"See that he eateth nothing but that which is given him by thine
own hand, my friend; and that his bed be made with very little,
smooth pebbles, covered over with much soft, fine grass; a big
stone among them doth both hurt and anger him when he lieth down to
sleep."

Then as Malleson and the captain walked down to the beach, the
people stood around, and called out in their guttural tongue:  Tíak
ápo, Tími (Good-bye, Jimmy); and the trader, with a last look
towards the pigsty, stepped into the boat.

Suddenly a hideous sound--a combination of a snort of rage and a
squeal of terror--smote upon his ear, and in an instant he had
jumped out, and made toward the pig pen.  Just as he came in view
of the lowly structure he saw a number of native children
disappearing round the back of his storehouses, and Teban, the
chief, in swift pursuit, shouting out threats of vengeance.

In a few minutes the chief returned and explained matters to the
agitated Malleson, who was now in the pen, rubbing the pig's
cheeks, and asking him what was the matter.  It seemed that the
moment Malleson had got into the boat a rude little boy had thrust
a sharpened fish-spear into Brian's snout to make Brian squeal.

Teban swore by the shades of his father and two uncles to find the
culprit and beat him.

Malleson didn't answer him for awhile.  His feelings overpowered
him.  Presently he got out of the pen and walked down the beach to
the boat.

"Come on, man, come on," called the captain, impatiently, "we'll
never get away at this rate."

"Look here, captain, I've changed my mind about goin'.  Sling my
traps out again, will you?  You can tell the old woman that I was
glad to hear from her, an' if she likes to come down here to me
with you next trip, I'll try and make her comfortable, an' be a
good husban' to her. . . .  But it's no use, I can see, trusting
Brian with these natives.  He's trembling now like a asping leaf.
Some d----d boy has just been proddin' the poor fellow in the nose
out o' pure devilment."

And then shaking hands with the disgusted skipper, the grief-
stricken man hurried back to solace and soothe the angry feelings
of his beloved pig.

                          * * * * *

Malleson is now living in a swell weather-board house at Tarawa,
with his lawful wife; and Brian has "took" to Mrs. Malleson.




PRESCOTT OF NAURA


I


About three or four hundred miles to the westward of the Kingsmill
Group, and situated twenty-five miles south of the equator, is an
isolated island, with a teeming population of noisy, intractable
savages.  It is called by the people Naura, and to the white
traders and seamen who frequent that little-visited part of the
South Pacific, is known as Pleasant Island.  At the present time it
is under the jurisdiction of the Imperial German Commissioner of
the Marshall Islands, having been included in the German-protected
area in the Pacific in 1884.  Since that time the social conditions
and habits of the people have changed but little, save for one
important particular--their German masters try to keep a tight rein
upon their blood-letting proclivities, and the seven clans with
which the island is peopled are no longer allowed to slaughter each
other with a free hand; and everything they buy is made in Germany.

But even under the government of a civilised nation, life to-day
among the wild denizens of Naura is full of exciting incident, for
there is but one German official on the island, and sometimes the
old fighting leaven becomes too strong and the seven clans shoot
merrily away at each other over their stone boundary walls.  Then a
report goes to the Commissioner at Jaluit, and by and by a German
man-of-war comes down and her captain chides the people, who
promise, like the children they are, not to be wicked any more, but
to lay aside their rifles--and make copra for the German trading
firm--else they won't get any more English tinned beef and American
tobacco made in Germany.

But thirty or forty years ago Pleasant Island was a wild place
indeed.  The ships of the American whaling fleet that in those days
sailed from one end of the Pacific to the other, called there often
enough, but every man on board, save those working the ship, held a
musket or a cutlass in his hand as long as the vessel lay off and
on at the island.  For bad enough as the natives were, the white
men who lived with them were worse.  Among them were men who would
have thought no more of cutting off a ship and murdering all hands
than they would of shooting a native of the island.  And it was on
Pleasant Island that Robert Prescott had cast his lot when he ran
away from the brig Clarkston, of Sydney.  This vessel when cruising
through the New Hebrides Group had found him at Vaté, where he was
living with the natives.

In those times captains of whalers and sandal-wooding ships picked
up many such wandering white men as this man among the islands and
asked no questions from whence they came.  And although the captain
of the Clarkston had a good idea that Prescott was one of a gang of
escaped Tasmanian convicts, he cheerfully accepted his statement
that he had run away from the Rifleman, a London whaler, and
acceded to his wish to give him a passage to Pleasant Island.

Three months after, Prescott, then an immensely powerful young man,
and notorious for his violent temper, landed on the island, and was
greeted with much enthusiasm by some eight or ten white
beachcombers, most of whom had known him when, as their associate,
he was engaged in the laborious occupation of hauling timber at
Port Arthur under the supervision of the unappreciative prison
officials who "bossed" the chain gang.

Among the hardened criminals who escorted their newly-found comrade
to the village in which four or five of them lived in rude, drunken
luxury, was an old New South Wales convict named Jasper Dale, whose
brute strength and pre-eminence in every imaginable kind of
villainy had led to his tacit installation as leader, not only of
the majority of the white renegades of Naura, but of one of the
most powerful of the natives clans.

With such a man as this for his friend, Prescott--himself a man of
the most ferocious courage and cruel nature--soon became a person
of influence among the natives, and ere long he and Dale came to
open enmity with the other beach-combers, who one by one withdrew
themselves to the protection of the chiefs other clans.

                          * * * * *

A year or two previous to the arrival of Prescott on the island,
Dale had taught the natives how to make an ardent spirit from the
sap of the inflorescence of the coconut palm; and it was no unusual
sight to see the whole male population of one village, maddened by
drinking this "toddy," as it was called, sally forth from their
houses of thatch, and, led by their particular white man, engage in
bloody combat with the people of the next village.  In these
encounters Dale had always taken the leadership of the fighting-men
of his clan, and his prowess in war led him to be treated with the
greatest consideration by his native friends.  Before Prescott's
arrival he had already given further distinction to his name by
shooting dead a fellow beach-comber named Lawson, and carrying off
his wife to his already ample harem.  The savage spirit in which
Prescott emulated him in deeds of bloodshed proved his eminent
fitness as a lieutenant, and it was this partiality that Dale
evinced for him that led to the rupture with the other white men.

For some time neither Prescott nor Dale came into actual collision
with their former associates till one day an ex-convict named
Cassidy, with three other whites and two hundred natives at his
back, maddened, like himself, with drinking sour toddy, burst upon
the village in which Dale and Prescott lived and began firing into
and burning the houses right and left.  Seizing his musket at the
first alarm Prescott had taken his stand in front of his house, and
the first shot he fired struck Cassidy, and killed him on the spot.
The loss of their leader made the attacking party retreat, and the
two friends, flushed with their victory, that night held high revel
with their native friends in the maniapa, or council-house, of
their village, and planned the utter destruction of their former
colleagues.

Their native allies entered eagerly into the scheme, and it was
finally agreed upon that if they and their two white men succeeded
in exterminating the others, that the island should be divided into
two districts--one for Dale, the other for Prescott; and after long
discussion it was decided to make an attack in two days' time upon
a village in which six of the white men lived.

But their plans were thrown suddenly out of gear by an unlooked-for
event--next morning at daylight they saw lying-to, close in shore,
a large ship, which, by the number of boats and men she carried, it
was easy to see was a whaler.

Dale and Prescott, calling loudly to their native friends to come
with them in force and board the ship before they were anticipated
by the other white men on the island, were just preparing to start,
when, to their disgust, they saw that a whaleboat, in which were
their former companions, had already reached the ship.

"Curse them!" said Dale, with a fearful oath, to his crime-stained
partner, "Klinermann, Ashton, and Cow-faced Bob and the others have
got to windward of us this time.  They'll buy all the spare arms
and ammunition they can get, and then sail in and wipe us two out."

"Never!" said Prescott, passionately, as his hand gripped a pistol
savagely.  "I tell you, Dale, that if you stand by me we will yet
be masters here."

"What is the use of it?" said Dale.  "Even if we do wipe 'em out,
we can't expect to live here for ever.  I tell you, man, that
there's bound to be a man-o'-war here before long--and you know
what that means"; and with a hideous grimace he pointed to his
throat.  "The System* ain't agoin' to let us chaps live in clover
down here."


* The Convict System of New South Wales.


Sitting down on an upturned canoe the man Prescott gazed moodily
out upon the placid ocean towards the whaleship as she slowly stood
out seawards with the shore boat in tow.  Suddenly he sprang up,
and with clenched hands and working features strode to and fro
under the waving plumes of the palm trees.

"Dale," he said, suddenly, and his voice was husky and hoarse with
emotion, "you know me.  I tell you that if you will stand by me we
will see Europe or America in another twelve months.  O God, man!
O God!  I must get somewhere away from these cursed men-o'-war, or
I'll go mad."

"Spit it out, then," said Dale, with a savage light in his eye.  "I
ain't the cove to go back on a man.  Wot d'ye want to do?"

"Come here," said Prescott, clutching his arm and drawing him into
the deserted native council-house.

For nearly half an hour the two men talked, and then separated as
they saw the whaleship shorten her canvas and heave to, and the
boat, crowded with white men, pull for the shore.

                          * * * * *

In the boat there were seven white men belonging to the island and
four others from the ship.  These four useless, dissolute creatures
had been told by the captain of the whaleship that as he no longer
wanted them on board they might go on shore and stay there.  Fired
with the desire of leading a lazy, sensuous life among the wild
people of Pleasant Island, they had eagerly accepted the invitation
of the seven beach-combers to "come ashore and live like fighting-
cocks."

As the boat drew in to the beach the man who steered, a tall,
slender young fellow named Beverley, suddenly uttered an expression
of alarm, and pointed to the figures of their two former comrades
who were seated on the shore, apparently awaiting their arrival.
Behind them were some three or four hundred natives belonging to
the village in which the seven beach-combers lived.

"By God, boys," said young Beverley, "there's Prescott and Dale
right among our people, sitting down on the beach as if they
belonged here--and as if Prescott hadn't shot poor Cassidy less
than twelve hours ago."

"What does it matter, Bev.?" hiccupped a crime-hardened ruffian
named Greenhaugh; "they're in our village, and if they meant
mischief our natives would have made short work of 'em.  Tell you
what it is, boys.  Dale ain't a bad cove, neither is Prescott--
they've come round to make it up with us.  An' I votes we makes it
up an' has a howlin' drunk all round, and treats each other like
gentlemen."

The hospitable sentiments of Mr. Greenhaugh were well received by
his companions, and as soon as the boat touched the beach the
eleven white men left her to be hauled up by the natives and
advanced in drunken, rollicking good-humour to the two men who
awaited them.

"Hallo, Beverley," said Prescott, advancing, "you chaps got to
windward of me and Dale this time in getting aboard the ship first.
Well, never mind, we aren't going to quarrel over it, are we, Dale?
But what we do want to say is this: we ain't going to bear no
malice for what happened yesterday.  Cassidy got wiped out.  We
ain't going to deny it.  I wiped him out, an' if you other chaps,"
pointing to the other three men who had followed Cassidy in the
previous day's encounter, "hadn't cleared mighty smart, you'd have
all been wiped out too by our crowd.  And so what I say is this,
let us make friends again and live quiet and peaceablelike.  You,
Beverley, are married to a sister of my wife; so here's my hand,
and let bygones be bygones."

"Right you are, Prescott.  I don't want no fighting, and I wouldn't
join in the row yesterday.  I have no grudge against you," and so
saying young Beverley held out his hand.  In a few moments the
others followed his example.

"Well, look here, boys," said Dale, meditatively, "our house at the
other village is a bigger one than yours.  We've got plenty of
grog, and why can't you chaps all come up to our village, and we'll
have a blazin' spree, and drink repose to poor Cassidy's foolish
soul?"

"Yes, come on, lads," said Prescott; "we'll make it up to-night,
and besides that, we can talk business"; and he looked meaningly at
Beverley, who, though so young, he knew possessed great influence
over the other men.

Half an hour's walk brought them to Prescott and Dale's village,
and then, surrounded by a tumultuous and excited crowd of
Prescott's native friends, the thirteen white men entered his
house, and were made welcome by his and Dale's wives.  A case of
gin was passed out to the natives, and, to show that no treachery
was intended towards their guests, Prescott commanded the people to
bring all their arms--muskets, clubs and spears--into his house,
and lay them down on the matted floor.

Less cruel and treacherous than their white associates, the natives
instantly complied, and in a few minutes the floor of the beach-
combers' house was covered with weapons.  As soon as the natives
had withdrawn to their huts, which were within a few hundred yards
of Dale and Prescott's house, the latter opened a couple of bottles
of liquor, and pouring the fiery contents into coconut shells
handed it round to the company.

Throwing off all disguise, Prescott strode into the middle of the
room, and drinking off his liquor spoke.

"Boys," he said, and his bright blue eyes glittered and sparkled
with cruel lustre, "Dale and I didn't ask you here just to get
drunk.  Did we, Dale?"

"No," said Dale, with a fierce laugh as he drained off his liquor
and dashed the empty coconut shell to the ground.  "We asked you
coves here to see if you had any grit in yer, an' was game for a
bold stroke."

"What d'ye want us for, then, d--n yer?" said Greenhaugh, the most
reckless of the lot.  "D'ye want us to sing a hymn for poor Ted
Cassidy?"

"This is what we want," said Prescott, and advancing to the table
he spread out both hands upon it.  "Here we are, thirteen men, all
got arms, and plenty of niggers to back us up--and there's a ship
to be had for very little trouble.  Now do you understand?"

For a moment no one answered him, and then Beverley with his brown
arms folded across his brawny chest, advanced to Prescott.

"What do you mean, Prescott--cutting off?"

The ex-convict nodded, and then gazed with keen anxiety into the
young man's face.  The rest of the men looked from one to the
other, but no words escaped their lips.

Dashing his hand upon the table the young beach-comber looked into
the dark and lowering face of Prescott.

"Look here, Bob Prescott, if you brought us here to try and work
this dodge you've made a mistake.  I may be a d----d scoundrel, but
I'm not going to murder a ship's crew for the sake of what is
aboard the ship," and turning fiercely to the other men who sat
silent at the table.  "And if any man among you chaps listens to
such a thing, by God, I'll go to the ship and tell the skipper!"

Five or six of the men sprang to their feet, and in eager tones
assured the speaker that they would not entertain the idea.  And
then Prescott, with simulated drunken hilarity, clapped Beverley on
the back, and swore that his suggestion was only a joke.

"Get another bottle of grog, Terátiko," he said to his native wife,
at the same time shooting a glance of terrible meaning towards
Dale.

"I'll get it, Bob," said Dale, going to a partitioned-off part of
the house, where the liquor was kept.  As he stepped past Prescott
he muttered--

"Come in with me;" and then in a loud voice he asked him to come
and show him where the grog was.

The moment they entered the partitioned room the man Dale whispered--

"What are you going to do?"

"Look," said Prescott, with an oath, as he pointed out through the
window seaward, "do you see that ship?  Well, only for these
chicken-hearted dogs that ship would be ours to-night.  But they
won't do it.  And I say that if we can't get away in that ship
those eleven chaps in there will wipe us out like we wiped out
Cassidy."

"Well," said Dale, in a hoarse whisper, "I SAY, WHAT ARE YOU
A'GOIN' TO DO?"

With a swift glance at his companion, Prescott took a bottle of
liquor from a case and handed it to Dale.

"Quick--take this out and open it for them.  But mind, don't drink
anything yourself from the next bottle when I bring it in."

In a moment or two the white men heard Prescott calling to his
wives to bring in some food, and Greenhaugh, with a drunken laugh,
staggered to his feet, and said he would assist the ladies to bring
in the dinner.

"Sit down, you fool," said Beverley, the youngest and least
ruffianly of the seven beach-combers, "haven't you got enough sense
to keep quiet in this place?" and he pointed to the muskets,
cutlasses, and knives that were lying upon the floor.  "Do you
think that because we have got all these muskets here that we are
safe?  Bah, you drunken fool!"

Steadying himself at the doorway, Greenhaugh boastingly asserted
that he for one was afraid of neither their hosts nor the natives,
and then, meeting an answering look in some of his comrades' faces,
he let his caution vanish.

"What's to keep us from shootin' 'em both now?" he said, lurching
up to Beverley again, and speaking in a husky whisper.

At that moment Prescott entered the room, and his quick ear caught
Beverley's answer--

"Shoot him yourself if you want to; but you're not going to do it
now.  I like fair play.  He's acting fair and square now to us, and
I ain't going in for any underhand shooting."

"Here, boys," said Prescott, advancing to the table, followed by a
number of women carrying leaf platters of baked fish and pork;
"here's some 'chuck.'  But let's have another drink first;" and
going to the latticed-in store room he took out a bottle of liquor
from the case and set it upon the table.

Little did the unfortunate victims of his dreadful treachery know
that the food which this monster had placed before them had been
impregnated with a deadly poison.  Possibly Prescott might have
relented at the last moment but for the conversation he had
overheard between Beverley and Greenhaugh, which steeled him in his
murderous resolution.

Presently a native woman, instructed by Prescott, came to the door
and called to Dale.

"What is it?" said the ex-convict, going outside to where the woman
stood.

"Pápu (Bob) says you are not to eat any food, and to watch him."

Dale nodded and returned inside, and then the coconut shells of
liquor were passed round again.  Without the slightest hesitation
Prescott poured some out for himself and drank it off, and then,
looking steadily at his colleague, passed the shell to his
neighbour.  Instantly Dale surmised that he had changed his mind
about administering the poison in the liquor, and he too drank
some.

Then, waited upon by their two murderers, the wretched men began to
eat.

Suddenly, as if inspired with a happy idea, Dale remarked, "Why
didn't Davy Terris come with you chaps?"

Beverley laughed.  "He had a hand in that job of Cassidy's."

"Why, that's nothing," said Dale, with rough good-humour; "d----d
if I don't walk down to his place and bring him here."

"By hell, yes," assented Prescott, "and I'll go with you.  We'll
all be friends now, boys;" and picking up his hat he strode out
with Dale, and took the path that led towards the village in which
the man Terris lived.  As they went off he called back to his
guests not to spare the "chuck," as there were plenty more fish and
fowls being cooked, and that Terris, Dale, and himself would eat
together.

                          * * * * *

The awful scene that followed within a few minutes after these two
friends had left the house may be imagined, but not described.  On
seven of them the poison soon took deadly effect, and within half
an hour their writhing figures had stiffened cold in death.  Of the
four others, Beverley and a seaman from the whaler were least
affected, and, although unable to walk, managed to crawl to
different portions of the room, where they lay in agony so terrible
that the listening and wondering natives, hundreds of yards away,
were moved to pity, and besought the two white men to go and put an
end to their misery.

With terrible imprecations the beach-combers held the natives back,
and waited for another half an hour, till all was silent.  Then
together they entered the house, and presently the natives, who
were still forbidden to enter, heard three shots--the death knell
of the poor wretches who were still alive.

                          * * * * *

Two or three years passed.

Of the fate of Dale nothing was ever known, but the subsequent
career of the wretch Prescott was well known to many an island
trader.  Filled with horror at the deed the white men had
perpetrated, the natives of the island withdrew their countenance
entirely from them, and, some months afterwards, Prescott was
forced by them to go on board the American whaler Gideon Hauling.
The captain refused to take him further than Ocean Island, a small
spot a few hours' sail from Pleasant Island.  Eight months
afterwards he again returned to Pleasant Island in the London
whaler Eleanor (all these latter particulars I take from the log of
an old Sydney shipmaster, Captain Beckford Simpson, of the barque
Giraffe, in a report to the Nautical Magazine of 1840), but with
cries of horror and disgust the natives repulsed him from landing.
Where he went to after this was not known, but in 1843 Captain
Stokes, of the whaler Bermondsey, reported having seen him in
chains at San Juan d'Apra, in Guam; and this was subsequently
confirmed by Captain Bunker, of the Elizabeth.  Whether he had
committed some fresh crime, or had merely been given up to the
Spanish authorities by some ship as a runaway convict from New
South Wales, does not appear.  How he escaped from Guam is not
known.

For twenty years this tiger in human form lived a wandering life
among the islands of the North-West Pacific, and then disappeared
from that part of the South Seas, to re-appear among the French
islands of the Society and Paumotu groups.  But the tale of his
great crime followed him.  Only a man of his utterly callous nature
could have survived many years of such an existence.  There was
hardly an island in the Pacific which he had not sought out in the
vain hope of finding refuge from the story of his black past.


                             II


Five years ago a trader named Watson was staying at the Waitemata
Hotel, in Auckland, slowly recovering from the terrible malarial
fever of New Guinea, contracted eighteen months previously in
Orangerie Bay.  He did not know one single person in the city of
Auckland that he could call a friend, and time hung heavily upon
him.  Only that it was a matter of physical impossibility for him
to get about, he would have returned to the islands weeks before.
Knowing no one, and taking no interest in local matters, he eagerly
read the shipping news in the morning papers, to see if any vessels
had arrived from the South Sea Islands; for the best part of his
life had been spent in the various groups of the South and North
Pacific, and the name of not only every vessel and captain engaged
in the island trade from Tonga to New Guinea was familiar to him as
his own, but the personality of every trader as well.

One morning he saw notified the arrival of a schooner from the
island of Aitutaki, in the Cook's Group.  The name of her captain
at once recalled to memory his cheery face and rude good-nature
when Watson and he were shipmates in the Queensland labour trade
eight years before.

He wrote a note and sent it on board, and in the evening the
skipper came up to the hotel.  They had much to say to each other,
and for nearly an hour talked of old times and friends in the
Solomons and New Hebrides Group, of which part of the Pacific the
skipper declared he had had enough.  "A murderous low-down crowd of
niggers," he said, with a cheerful smile, drawing up the coat-
sleeve of his right arm and showing Watson a most extraordinary
thing in the way of inartistic butchery of the human form.  "Look
at that, my son.  Don't it look like as if the flesh had been
parcelled round the bone in strips?  The niggers did that for me at
Bougainville two years ago.  I was rushed on the beach, and my boat
backed out before I could get down to her; my boat's crew had gone
back on me--planned with the natives that I should be killed!
Three of them jumped overboard when they saw that I was wading off,
and made for the shore, leaving only a sooty black devil of a Buka
Buka boy in the boat.  He stood his ground, although he was only a
slip of a lad.  He was too frightened to try and shoot me, but the
moment I got my hand on the gunwale of the boat he commenced
slicing the flesh off my arm, from the wrist down, with his sheath-
knife.  He didn't want to kill me, only stop me getting into the
boat.  Only that my mate saw the row from the schooner I'd have
been killed in the end, sure enough.  She was about a couple of
hundred fathoms away, and he and the crew commenced firing over
towards the boat, so as to scare the boy away.  It did scare him,
too, for as the first ball hummed by him he jumped over on the
other side and dived ashore, leaving me just able to crawl aboard
and fall unconscious in the bottom of the boat.  And I don't tackle
the Solomon Islands any more, my son."

"Well," said Watson, "you're in a nice quiet trade now, among the
Christianised and 'saved' kanakas of the Cook Group, where the once
shocking heathen goes about clothed and in his right mind."

"Aye," grinned the old skipper, "they do, the dirty beggars.  Once
a kanaka gets 'saved,' and wears European clothing, he gets very
filthy in his habits, and won't wash himself, and puts on such a
look of greasy saintliness that there's no living on the same
island with them--unless you chew off the same plug as the white
missionary.  So it's no wonder that so many of these old white
traders among the eastern islands are shoving out to the westward,
where they can at least live without interference from the white-
chokered gentry.  I've got an old fellow aboard now, passenger with
me.  He's come up here to get away to New Ireland, or the Admiralty
Group, via Samoa."

"What is his name?"

"Collier--Mike Collier.  He's a tough old warrior, nearly seventy,
I think.  He's been trading for the Tahiti people in the Gambiers,
he tells me, but says the French missionaries and he didn't hit it,
so he's going west again.  He's a nice, pleasant old fellow,
doesn't drink, but is a bit queer in his ways."

"Old age," suggested Watson.

"Not exactly; but he won't come ashore and live.  He says he'll
wait till he gets a passage to Samoa.  Says he likes the smell of
the copra in the hold, and doesn't like mixing with shore people.
So I've agreed to let him stay aboard till we're ready for sea
again; then he'll have to shift and go to a pub."

The trader saw Captain Ross several times after this, and on each
occasion he mentioned that old Mike still remained on board, and
had not yet put foot ashore.  "However," added Ross, "he'll have to
clear out tomorrow, as I'm bound to get away in the forenoon."

"Send him here," said Watson; "he'll be a good mate for me, and the
place is quiet enough."

"Right," said Ross, "I'll bring him up to-night."

Sitting in his bedroom after dinner, smoking his pipe, Watson heard
Captain Ross's gruff, good-humoured voice on the stairs.  He was
speaking to some one whom Watson at once surmised was the eccentric
old trader from the Gambiers.  Presently, in answer to something
the skipper had said, he heard the stranger speak.

"Yes, there are a good many stairs, Captain."

The sound of the man's voice--querulous from age--struck the trader
like a shot.  He remembered when and where he had heard it last.
In a few seconds more they entered.  Watson had not yet lit the
gas, and the room was in comparative darkness.

"Are you in, Watson?" said Captain Ross.  "Here's old Mr. Collier
come to see you.  Can you get him a room?"

"Come in, Captain," replied the trader, striking a match and
lighting the gas.  "How are you, sir?" and he nodded to the old
trader, who had quietly seated himself at the further end of the
room.  He had his own reasons for not shaking hands with him.  "Oh,
yes, you'll get a room here.  Sit down, Ross, and I'll send for
something to drink."

But the skipper was in a hurry and would not stay, and shaking
hands with the old man and Watson he bade them goodbye, and hurried
away downstairs.

Until now the sick trader had not had an opportunity of looking at
his visitor.  Turning towards him after bidding the captain
goodbye, he caught the stranger's eye fixed upon him.

He was a short but broad-shouldered and muscular man, with a mass
of wavy white hair overhanging his temples, which, with the rest of
his face and neck, were burnt by long, long years of wandering
under the torrid sun of Polynesia to the deepest bronze.  His face
was cleanly shaven, and were it not for the whiteness of his hair
would have seemed absolutely youthful, so free was it from the
lines and indentations of advanced age.  And--a fitting
accompaniment to the broad, square jaw and firm, determined mouth--
his eyes were of a bright steely blue, and met the trader's in a
calm, assured, but yet irritating and aggressive manner.

For a moment or two they looked at each other steadily, and then,
leaning back in his chair, the old man placed his dark, sunburnt
hands on his knees and laughed.

"Well, young fellow, you'll know me next time, I hope."

The cold, sneering inflexion of his tones irritated the trader.  It
was a direct challenge.

"I know you as it is," he answered.  "You are Prescott of Naura."

In an instant the stranger leapt up, stood beside Watson, and
seized his hands in a vice-like grip, and the trader heard his
teeth grind savagely, and felt his hot, panting breath upon his
cheek.

"Yes," he said, in a low, savage voice, "I am Prescott, from
Pleasant Island, and I'll strangle you like a dog if you tell it to
any one else."

Suddenly he let go Watson's hands.

"Look here, you're a sick man, and I'm not going to take advantage
of it.  Now listen to me.  I am an old man, and life isn't worth
much to me.  But, look here--what harm have I ever done you?"

"None," said Watson, "nor have I any evil intentions towards you.
Whatever you have done does not concern me personally."

The old man sat down again, and bent his fierce blue eyes upon the
ground.  For a minute or so he remained silent, then he sprang to
his feet and paced the room rapidly.

"Where did you see me before?" he asked.

"At Callie Harbour, in the Admiralty Group," replied Watson.  "You
came on board the Dancing Wave to see Captain Leeman about buying
some tobacco from him.  I was the supercargo."

"Ha!  I remember you.  And where is Leeman now?"

"Dead," answered Watson.  "He died in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and
was buried on Adolphus Island."

The old man nodded.  Then he stopped short in his walk.

"Are you a poor man?"

"What the devil does that matter to you?" answered Watson, shortly.

He turned away and picked up a small portmanteau that he had
brought with him, opened it and took out a small canvas bag and
threw it contemptuously on the table.

"Those are sovereigns--good English sovereigns.  Will they buy your
silence, and let an old and hunted man escape to some unknown spot
where he may die in peace?"

"You may go," said Watson, "and take your sovereigns with you.
Murderer and fiend as you are, I cannot give you up to justice.
The witnesses of your horrible crime are all dead.  But I would
like to see you hanged."

He looked at the trader intently for half a minute, and then taking
up the bag of sovereigns dropped it back into the portmanteau,
closed, locked, and strapped it.  Then again he paced to and fro
like a tiger in a cage.

"Do you know ALL about me?" he said, suddenly, in a strangely harsh
voice.

"A good deal," replied the younger man.

Again he laughed savagely.  "And yet you won't give me away to the
white men!"

"Don't you call yourself a white man?" said Watson.

"No," he growled back, "I am not a white man.  The cat took all of
the white man out of me at Port Arthur; and for fifty years I have
lived with kanakas, and I am a kanaka now--backbone and soul."

Without a word of farewell he picked up his portmanteau, passed
through the door, and went downstairs.

Watson, looking out through the window into the street, presently
saw his short, square-set figure appear upon the footpath.  For a
moment or two he stood under the glare of a gas-lamp, then, with a
quick, active step, he strode across the street and was lost to
view.




CHESTER'S "CROSS"


The Montiara, trading schooner, had finished taking in her stores,
and hauled out to an anchorage in Honolulu Harbour, ready to start
on one of her usual trading cruises to the Caroline Group.  The
captain, accompanied by his supercargo, had gone ashore again to
the British Consulate for his papers, letters, &c, leaving the two
mates in charge to amuse themselves till his return by playing cut-
throat euchre with some of the brown-skinned kanaka crew--for they
were a sociable lot aboard the Montiara, and, when he first joined
the ship, had given young Denison, the supercargo, much cause for
reflection.  This, however, was his second voyage; and he now knew
that "Tarawa Bob" and "Rotumah Tom," two huge, soft-hearted, hard-
fisted able seamen, whose light brown skins were largely
illustrated by fantastic devices in blue and vermilion, were the
respective brothers-in-law of the gentlemen who officiated as first
and second mates of the schooner--Messrs. Joe Freeman and Pedro do
Ray.  And if, occasionally, their superior position made these
officers in times of emergency address their tattooed brethren-in-
law in vigorous and uncomplimentary language, emphasised by a knock-
down blow, no ill-will was either felt on one side nor engendered
on the other.  Therefore, in moments of relaxation, when the ship
lay at anchor and there was nothing to do, the two white men seated
on one side of the skylight and the two brown on the other, with a
large bottle of Hollands gin between them, would endeavour to rook
each other at cards.  Sometimes, too, Denison had witnessed further
proof of the camararderie existing between all the hands for'ar'd
and the two mates, when the latter, overflowing with generosity and
strong drink, would invite their coloured shipmates to come ashore
and paint the town red.  All these things surprised Denison--for he
was very young then, and came from a religious family.  But he
gained experience later on, when he sailed with Packenham in the
brig Indiana, as you will see in another story.

So with a parting admonition to his officers to let no one go
ashore, and to heave short at four o'clock, as soon as they saw him
coming down the wharf, old Hunter, the grizzled skipper and owner
of the little schooner, had shoved off and pulled in to the pretty
palm-embowered town nestling under the shadows of Diamond Head.

"How are you, Hunter?" said the Consul, as soon as the captain and
Denison entered his office.  "I'm glad you've come in just now.
I've had a visitor--a lady from San Francisco.  She arrived here
yesterday by the Moses Taylor; wants to know if I can get her a
passage down to the Caroline Group."

"The deuce!" said Hunter.  "_I_ can't take her in the Montiara.
And what on earth does she want to go down there for?  Is she a she-
mission'ry?"

The Consul laughed at the sour expression on the old seaman's face;
then he became grave.

"No, she's not a missionary, Hunter, and I really do wish you could
see your way clear to take her--she seems terribly anxious."

"But, man, I can't.  My cabin is only a small one, and there's my
two mates and Mr. Denison here, besides myself, to occupy all the
room, which is very little.  But if she's not a she-mission'ry,
what in thunder does she want down in the Carolines?"

The Consul shrugged his shoulders.  "I can only tell you that she's
a lady--mind, Hunter, a LADY--a widow, I suppose, as she has a
little boy with her--and she is now staying at the hotel.  She told
me her name--here it is," and he took up a card--"Mrs. Hilda Weston--
and that she hurried down here from San Francisco in the mail-boat
to catch the Morning Star, missionary brig.  But, as you know, the
Morning Star sailed for the Carolines a week ago."

"And I hope she may get piled up there," growled old Hunter, who
did not love missionaries, "and the snufflebusting crowd of thieves
on board of her go to the bottom with her."

"Well," resumed the Consul, "that seemed to upset her greatly.  It
seems that she had been promised, and counted upon, a passage in
the missionary brig.  What was she to do? she asked, when I told
her that the Morning Star would not be back here and sail again for
the Carolines for another six months.  Then I thought of you.  It
struck me that you might manage to fix her and the little boy a
berth somehow.  She has plenty of money--that I can vouch for; said
she would pay as much as five hundred dollars for a passage, and
not complain of any discomfort."

Hunter looked first at the Consul and then at Denison doubtfully,
and then shook his head.  A hundred pounds was a nice little sum
for a passage that would only take fourteen or fifteen days, and
yet it could not be done.  The one small deck-house of the schooner
was occupied by his officers' wives, and it wouldn't be fair to
turn them out of it to sleep on deck.  Joe and Pedro wouldn't mind,
provided a financial reason were adduced for THEIR benefit, but the
women would, and so would the ladies' brothers, who would sulk over
the indignity--kanaka sailors have some blessed privileges over
those of the ordinary British sailor-man.

"Here, take her card," said the Consul, "and go and see her
yourself.  You may, perhaps, be able to make arrangements in some
way.  Anyway, she seems very anxious to meet you, and I gave her my
promise that you would call."

"Oh, did you?" grumbled Hunter.  "Well, here you are, Denison, YOU
go and see her--you look so nice and pretty in that white duck suit
of yours, that I wouldn't think of going myself.  And look here,
sonny, tell her that I can't possibly give her a passage down this
trip, but will the next, in about four months from now.  That will
be two months sooner than the Morning Star.  But, wait a minute--
find out what island she wants to go to, and if it is anywhere this
side of Ponape I'll land her there for £50--that's about a fair
thing."

                          * * * * *

Denison had waited five minutes in a sitting-room of the hotel when
she came in--a pretty, fair-haired woman, with deep, wistful hazel
eyes.  Her face was deathly pale, and Denison's heart somehow went
out to her in quick sympathy--there was such an underlying sadness
in her looks.

"I am Mrs. Weston," she said in a voice that quivered with
trembling excitement, as she motioned the young man to resume his
seat, "but surely you are not the captain of the Montiara?" as the
hazel eyes took in his youthful appearance.

"No, madam.  My name is Denison.  I am the supercargo."  And then
he gave her the skipper's message.

A quick mist came into the dark eyes, and she pressed her hand to
her throat.  Then she found her voice.

"Four months is a long time to wait; but it cannot be helped, I
suppose," and she turned her face away from him and seemed to look
out over the blue waters of the harbour, but Denison saw heavy
tears falling upon a native fan that she held in her hand.

Presently she rose, went to the window and stood there in silence
for a few minutes, gazing seaward.  Then, with the traces of tears
still upon her face, she came back to her seat and said with a
brave smile--

"You must think me very childish to show my disappointment so much;
but I AM oh, so very, very disappointed.  When I left California I
was told that I should be in plenty of time for the Morning Star;
but unfortunately the Moses Taylor broke down when half-way, and we
arrived eight days late, to find the missionary ship had gone.  But
when I heard that there was a trading schooner to sail in a few
days I thought--"  Again her eyes filled, and Denison bent his head
and pretended not to notice.  He felt deeply sorry, but could not
venture to tell her so.  Then he rose to go, but she begged him to
remain a little while.

"Please don't go for a few minutes," she murmured, and then smiled.
"I am sure you are English, are you not?  Ah, I thought so.  I am
an Englishwoman, but have lived so long in America that I like to
meet an Englishman.  Every one in Honolulu is American, I think,
and I have felt very lonely here."  Then her courage seemed to
rise, and bending forward she asked--

"Mr. Denison, is there ANY use at all in my appealing to your
captain to give me a passage in his vessel.  I told Mr. Roche, the
Consul, that I would willingly pay £100; but I shall gladly pay
more.  I will give £200--more--if that amount is not enough."

Denison shook his head.  "I am indeed very sorry to say so, Mrs.
Weston, but it is impossible for us to take you down this trip.  In
the first place we are already short of room, and in the second we
call at the Marshall Group for thirty or forty deck passengers--
native divers we are taking down to the Carolines.  No white woman
could possibly live on board the same ship with such a noisy lot."

She sighed deeply.  "I MUST be content to wait then.  Now, Mr.
Denison, may I ask you if you will tell me something about the
Caroline Islands?"

"With pleasure--that is, all I CAN tell you.  I have only made one
voyage there--in fact, the present will be only my second voyage in
this part of the Pacific."

She looked at him for an instant, and then with a violent rush of
colour suffusing her face from temple to throat asked--

"Do you know Mr. Tom Chester--one of the traders living down
there?"

"Where does he live--I mean at what particular island.  There are
many hundreds of islands in the Eastern and Western Carolines."

"On Las Matelotas--that is, he did so three or four years ago.  He
is very dark--and fond of singing."

Now Denison did know the man she spoke of--knew him well, and
hardly knew what to say.  Most supercargoes do not care about
giving information concerning traders to utter strangers--so many
of them have reasons for burying themselves in the Pacific Islands.
And he knew that old Hunter thought much of the man, and would not
like his supercargo giving even this beautiful young creature any
information about him, so he hesitated ere he answered.

"I may know him.  I cannot say for certain."

"This is Mr. Chester," she said, quickly, and before he knew it he
was holding a photograph in his hand.  The woman watched him
keenly.

Denison recognised it immediately as the man he knew as Tom Chester--
mata uli, the dark-faced, as the Las Matelotas people called him.

He was about to lie, and say, "I don't know him," but, looking up,
he met her deep, earnest eyes--and failed.

"Yes, I know him," he said; "he is one of our traders.  He is well
known down there, and liked.  Is he a friend of yours?"

"Yes"; and again the red flush leapt to her face, "a very dear
friend," and then with a curious, shaking intonation, "I am very
anxious to see him.  He is my cousin.  I have not seen him for four
or five years.  My husband died six months ago in America, and
there are family matters which Mr. Chester must be consulted about,
and--and a great many things demand his attention.  I--that is, my
late husband and my relatives have written to him several times
during the past three years, but the letters no doubt never reached
him.  We only knew that he was somewhere in the South Sea Islands,
and the letters were directed to the care of the Consuls at the
various ports.  From one of these we eventually heard that a Mr.
Chester had a trading station at Las Matelotas, in the Western
Carolines.  And so, in despair of communicating with him by letter,
I--that is, his and my relatives, consented to my coming out here
to him."

Denison bowed, but said nothing, and she went on hurriedly:  "I had
not the faintest idea of what a task I was undertaking.  I really
imagined that any part of the South Sea Islands could be reached in
a few days from San Francisco."

"It is indeed a difficult undertaking for a lady.  I do not want to
dishearten you, but could you not send some one else--is there no
male relative who--"

"No," she said quickly with a nervous movement of her hands; "I
have no brothers nor any one I would care to ask.  I prefer to go
myself."

She was silent awhile, and just then a little boy, about five years
of age, came into the room and nestled beside her, smiling shyly at
Denison.  She drew the child to her and then, as she stroked his
head, said in a voice that she strove to steady--

"Oh, is--is--he, is Mr. Chester married?"

That question, as Denison told old Hunter later on, took him flat
aback.  (And yet he might have expected it.)  Anyway it was a hard
question to answer, especially when the inquirer was a young and
pretty woman with perhaps no idea of the unconventionalities
obtaining in island life.  To say that Chester was married in the
orthodox, English sense of the word would not have been correct; to
say that he was not was equally misleading, inasmuch as Nirani, the
young Bonin Island quadroon girl who controlled his domestic
arrangements and looked after his trading business during his
absence, was known and spoken of all over the group as "Tom
Chester's wife."  And so he hesitated before answering.  He was
young, but yet old enough to know from the look in the woman's eyes
that much depended to her upon his answer.

"I don't know," he said, very slowly, lifting his eyes to hers
calmly in a manner that said plainly enough, "You should not have
asked such a question."

Mrs. Weston rose and extended her hand to him.  "You must pardon
me, Mr. Denison, if I have seemed unduly inquisitive; but I know
perfectly what you mean.  I am no silly girl, but a woman of twenty-
six . . . and I am told that white people living in the islands
think but little of--of--making temporary alliances with the
natives.  But there, I shall ask you no more.  I am much older than
you, so you must forgive me if I have annoyed you.  Of course you
will take a letter for me?"

"With pleasure, I assure you, but you will not have much time--we
shall certainly be under weigh in an hour."

"Thank you.  I shall write it at once, and myself bring it down to
your boat.  Good bye, and give my sincere thanks to your captain
should I not see him."

Half an hour later as Hunter and his supercargo turned down towards
the wharf she met them, gave them the letter, and wished them a
prosperous voyage, and, she added with a smile, "a VERY quick
return."

                          * * * * *

"I've seen that handwriting before now," said the skipper to
Denison as the latter put Mrs. Weston's letter in a rack above his
berth; "seen it a good many times."

"Where?" said Denison in surprise.

"Here, aboard the Montiara, and aboard the old Talaloo when I was
sailing out o' Samoa to the Gilbert and Marshall Group.  Why, I've
carried at least half a dozen letters in that same writing, and all
directed to Tom Chester; but I never knew until now who wrote 'em.
Look here, sonny, Chester has got a cross, like most of us men has,
an' that cross is going to follow him up.  You see if she don't."

"She's a cousin of his she tells me."

Hunter grinned.  "O' course, only a cousin or a sister would write
to a man so frequent.  I can guess the reason now why Chester is
living down in the Carolines.  I suppose this is the woman that
threw him over and married another man with money.  Well, it isn't
any of our business; but Chester doesn't like getting those letters--
in fact, I believe he'd like to tell me to drop 'em overboard."

                          * * * * *

The Montiara made a quick run down to the Marshall Islands, ran
into Milli Lagoon, took aboard forty wild-eyed, long-haired, half-
naked, vociferous native passengers, and then spun away westward
before the stiff north-east trades towards the Carolines.  Ten days
later she worked through the tortuous passage leading into
Matelotas Lagoon, and dropped anchor abreast of the native village
and half a mile away from the trader's house.

A wild clamour of welcome from some hundreds of handsome light-
skinned natives greeted Hunter and Denison, and in a few minutes
the decks were thronged with the warm-hearted, simple-minded
people--men, women, and children--who all seemed animated by an
overpowering desire to embrace and caress the rough, grizzled old
skipper of the schooner--a man whom they trusted and idolised.  And
the girls swarmed into the little cabin without fear.

Presently a whaleboat, manned by five stalwart natives, and steered
by a slightly-built but muscular-looking white man, swept
alongside, and Chester stepped on the schooner's deck.

"How are you?" he said, shaking hands warmly with Hunter, Denison,
and the two mates--the only white men on board.  "Ah, I see you've
brought down those fellows from Milli.  Well, to-morrow we'll pick
out the best divers among them and try the deep part of the lagoon,
over Ngoli side.  I am quite confident, Hunter, that if the water
isn't too deep there is a little fortune waiting for us at the
bottom."

"Well, I hope so, Chester, but I'm rather doubtful about it--all
the pearl-shell I've seen taken out of these lagoons at any depth
was big enough, but badly worm-eaten.  However, I've brought you
down these fellows from Milli, and if the water is too deep for
them, why, we must do the other thing--get a couple of suits and
two good divers down from Sydney."

A few minutes later, as the three men were sitting together in the
cabin over a glass of grog and talking about their forthcoming
attempt on the deep water "patches" of pearl-shell in Ngoli lagoon,
Denison said--

"Oh, I've a letter for you, Chester," and stepping into his cabin
he returned with it and handed it to the trader.

Chester took the letter, looked at the superscription, and, with an
unmoved face, put it in the pocket of his duck jumper.  Then he
asked the others if they were coming ashore with him.

"Not now," answered the captain; "at least, I'm not.  But Denison
can go with you and lend you a hand with the Gilbert Islanders--a
noisy, intractable lot of devils they are.  Have you got a house
ready for 'em?"

"Oh, yes," answered Chester in his slow, quiet way; "I've had a
place fixed up for them for a month past.  Nirani will see to them
as soon as they get ashore."

The trader's house stood a little over a quarter of a mile away
from the native village, and was a comfortable one-storied place,
built entirely of wood and cane wickerwork in semi-European
fashion.  On the ground floor was Chester's store, the upper
portion of the house being merely a huge combined sitting, dining,
and sleeping-room.  As he and Denison entered a pretty, dark-eyed
young native woman met them and shook hands with the latter.

"How ar' you, Mr. Denison?" she said, her red lips parting in a
smile that showed her pretty teeth.  "An' so you an' Cap'en Hunter
have brought the divers down this-a-time.  W'y, Tom, here, he have
been fret like a little child ev'ry day because the Montiara so
long time comin'.  Now, he satisfy, I suppose"; and then with a
merry laugh she led the way to the big room upstairs, and a minute
later was bustling about scolding and occasionally administering a
smart but jocose slap on the shoulders to two half-nude young
native girls who were setting the table for Hunter, Denison, and
the two mates.  Clad in a loose blouse and skirt of thinnest
texture, her every movement revealed the outlines of her lithe,
graceful form, and Denison watched her as one watches the movements
of a beautiful bird fluttering from bough to bough, with a pleased
fascination.

A merry time was spent in the trader's house that night, for
Chester sang well, and Nirani, who was of Portuguese blood, and
Pedro do Ray, the second mate, sang duets and love songs to their
own guitar accompaniments, while the forty Gilbert Islanders,
overjoyed at getting ashore, gathered beneath, inside Chester's
fence, and danced their own wild island dance, and then took to
wrestling, till the loud clang of eight bells from the schooner
broke up the gathering and sent every one, white and brown, to
their couches of soft mats.

Soon after daylight the schooner's two boats, manned by about
twenty of the Gilbert Island natives, with Chester and Hunter in
charge, set out to test the deeper water of the lagoon for pearl-
shell, while Denison remained on board to see to getting Chester's
stores and trade goods ashore.

At noon the boats returned, and Denison at once saw by the
captain's face that he was pleasurably excited.  His news was soon
told--Chester's surmise was correct: there was plenty of splendid
pearl-shell in the deep water, but at a depth that it was
impossible to work successfully without proper diving gear.  Every
one of the Gilbert Islanders had gone down; but only four or five
had succeeded in bringing up shell, and were then so exhausted that
they could not possibly be sent down again.  But, they said, the
shell lay very thick amid clusters of young coral.

That afternoon after dinner on board it was decided that the
schooner should proceed with all haste to Manila, instead of
Sydney, where Hunter was to buy two diving dresses, pumps, and
gear, and engage two Manila men as divers.  Denison was to remain
with Chester and enjoy himself as he best could.  And then Chester
went ashore to tell Nirani.

As soon as the two mates had left the table Hunter, leaning his
grizzled chin on his huge hand, addressed his supercargo.

"Ha' ye told Chester about your meeting wi' the young woman at
Honolulu?"

"No, why should I?  If he mentions her to me I might do so, but
although I told him yesterday that the letter was given to me
personally, he only nodded and said, 'Yes, I know; thank you.'"

"Well, I'm thinking that he seems very down in the mouth, and if
she isn't the cause of it, I don't know what is.  And, mind ye, had
I known who the woman was I would never ha' made her that promise
to bring her down here.  Ye see, I never thought of it at the time.
And then there's Nirani."

Denison nodded.  "I see what you mean.  It's an unpleasant
position.  What are you going to do about it?"

"Just nothing; but as soon as I leave for Manila you can tell him
that I didn't know--and that now as we are on this pearling racket,
there's not much chance of the Montiara going back to Honolulu this
year at all."

"Very well; but you've forgotten the Morning Star.  The lady will
come down by her if our schooner doesn't turn up."

Hunter gave an angry exclamation.  "Devil take the woman!  Here
we've dropped on to as fine a patch of shell as lies in the
Pacific; it will take us twelve months to work it out, and if this
woman comes down here I can see trouble ahead for us all, and
Chester in particular.  And Nirani's been a good girl to him, d'ye
see.  D---- all women as proves crosses to a man, I say!"

"I don't see what we can do, Hunter.  Of course if Chester gives me
a chance this evening, I'll tell him of the promise you've made.
At the same time I don't think it necessary.  No doubt the letter
he got told him all this.  But you're a mean old dog to put
everything on to me."

Early on the following morning Hunter came ashore and wished
Denison, Chester, and Nirani goodbye, and an hour later the white
sails of the Montiara swept round the low, palm-clad southern point
of Las Matelotas and were lost to sight from those who watched on
shore.

That night Chester and Denison were walking slowly to and fro on
the white, moonlit path at the side of the house, smoking and
talking.  Above them in the big sitting-room a light shone dimly
through the latticed sides and they could see the shadow of Nirani
sitting at the table with her two girls, looking at some finery
that old Hunter had brought her from Honolulu.

Chester was speaking.  "I am glad you have mentioned it anyway,
Denison.  Yes, Mrs. Weston did tell me that she had seen you and
that she means to come down here.  Now, I don't mind telling you
that five years ago she was my promised wife.  I had a civil
appointment in South Australia at that time.  From Adelaide I was
sent up to a God-forsaken place called Port Darwin in the Northern
Territory.  I was away a year.  When I came back she was gone--had
married some wealthy old American three months before, and left the
colony."

"She wrote to me, blaming her mother, and said all the usual penny
novelette things about being 'forced' and a 'broken heart' and all
that.  Well, God knows if it was true.  I know her mother was a
match-making, money-loving old devil, who looked upon me with
aversion--in fact, hated me.  Well, that's the whole yarn.  I went
back to Port Darwin, where I knew some pearl-shellers, and went on
a cruise with them to New Guinea, liked the life, and finally made
my way down here five years ago.  And I'd be happy enough if I
could only think that I am free of blame.  You see I've never
answered one of her letters--I swore I would never forgive her.
And yet I may have misjudged her cruelly."

For some minutes neither of the two men spoke, and then Denison
said--

"It is a hard position to be in, I must admit."

Chester laughed bitterly.  "And made worse by my own folly.  Of
course it's no use my pretending that I have forgotten her.  But
then Nirani has been with me for three years and loves me in her
childish, jealous way.  And by G--! I'm not going to desert her
now!"

                          * * * * *

Before the month was out the Montiara was back in the lagoon and
Chester and Denison went aboard.

"Well, boys, I've got everything, two good divers included," said
Hunter, gleefully, as he shook hands with them.  "Come below an'
I'll tell ye all about my doings"; and in a few moments the three
men were seated around the little cabin table listening to Hunter's
account of his voyage, and discussing their future operations in
the lagoon.

"Seen any ships?" asked Denison casually of Hunter.

"Yes, the Mattie, of New Bedford; spoke her yesterday just in sight
of the land.  She's bound up to Honolulu, lost four of her boats,
and is leaking like a sieve."

"Where do you think she is now?" asked Chester, slowly.

"Can't be more than ten miles away from the weather side of the
lagoon," replied Hunter.  "She's beating to windward, or else we
could see her from here now.  Why, do you want to see Burton?" (the
captain of the Mattie.)

"No, not particularly, but," and Chester shot a quick glance at
Denison, "I would like to send some letters by him.  I think I'll
go ashore at once and send my boat out to him.  If he's anywhere in
sight the boat can soon board him--there's no wind to speak of";
and then arranging to meet Denison and Hunter at his house later
on, he went ashore.

Late that evening as Chester and Denison walked down to the beach
to see Hunter off to the ship, the former's whaleboat came pulling
in through the darkness, and cleaving the phosphorescent water like
an arrow, dashed up on the sandy shore."

"Find the ship, Baril?" called out Chester.

"Yes, sir," answered the native coxswain, "she no got wind.  I give
captain letter.  He say all right."

"Good boy!  Now you and the other men go up to the house and get
some supper and a bottle of grog."

As soon as Hunter had left Chester said to Denison, "Thank Heaven
that is off my mind.  I've written to her and told her exactly how
matters are.  She'll get that letter within a month . . . I've
studied the thing out . . . there's a right and a wrong way in
everything.  To let her come here if I could stop her would be mean
and cruel.  Nirani isn't a native girl; she has some white blood in
her veins, and I'm not going to let her know that I wished I had
never met her."

                          * * * * *

For nearly four months the white men worked assiduously at the
isolated but rich beds of pearl-shell in the deeper parts of the
lagoon, and were well rewarded for their toil.  Already over four
thousand pounds worth of shell lay in the Montiara's hold, and,
provided the weather kept fine, they expected to go on working till
the rainy season and westerly gales set in.

One evening, however, as the boats were returning to the schooner
from the farther end of the lagoon, the breeze, which had been
steady all the day, suddenly dropped, the air became close and
oppressive, and Hunter and Chester, who were in the same boat,
looked at each other in some alarm.  At the same time numbers of
natives who were either fishing or walking about on the inner beach
of the lagoon, uttered loud cries and ran quickly along the shore
to the village.

"Down sails!" roared Hunter to the boats that were following, "and
pull hard for the ship!"

The native crews, knowing well the danger that menaced them, bent
to their oars with a will and sent the boats flying through the
water.  Already they could tell from the changing sound of the surf
beating upon the outer reef that there was but little time left ere
the hurricane would be sweeping across the now glassy waters of the
lagoon and sending roaring billows of foam high up among the dense
groves of coco-palms.

In another ten minutes the three boats were alongside, and Hunter
and his crew were striking the schooner's topmasts and getting
awnings down, while the cutter with the pumping gear was sent
ashore to be hauled up out of danger.

"Go ashore, Chester, and look after your house, and take all these
natives with you," said Hunter.  "I don't want to be cumbered up
with a lot of extra men on deck to-night.  I tell you we're going
to get it hot."

"My house is all right, Hunter," replied Chester.  "I can see some
of my people on the ridge of it already, passing rope lashings over
it--trust Nirani for that.  She has seen this sort of thing before,
and knows what has to be done.  But I'll go presently, as I can't
be of any--"

Before he could finish a hot blast of wind struck the Montiara with
mighty force, spun her half round like a top, and then shot her
astern till her cable brought her up with a jerk; and then with a
savage, droning sound, the hurricane burst upon her.

"We're all right here!" yelled Hunter a few minutes later in
Chester's ear, trying to make himself heard through the now
appalling clamour of wind and whistling spray--"unless we get the
sweep of the sea coming in the passage--and which way it'll run we
can't tell yet."  And then through the fast-gathering and premature
darkness that was enveloping even the white, seething sea around
them he looked forward to where Freeman, the mate, stood, holding
on to the forestay and standing by the second anchor.

                          * * * * *

At dawn next morning, when those natives who lived on the western
and sheltered side of Las Matelotas looked across the lagoon, they
saw that nothing remained of the eastern chain of islets on which
the principal village had stood but a line of isolated sandbanks
and jagged patches of coral reef--every living being had perished
in the awful night.  And whether the end had come upon them
suddenly or they had been swept away when endeavouring to cross the
narrow channels that separated the palm-clad islets, was never
known.

Six miles away, lying high and dry amid fallen palms and the
wreckage of native houses, lay the once trim little Montiara,
broken-backed and dismasted, and about her were gathered those of
her crew who were uninjured.  She had ridden out the storm till
nearly midnight, when she parted both cables one after the other.
In vain had Hunter and his crew tried to get enough sail on her to
work up under the western beach of the lagoon and run her ashore in
smoother water--sea after sea swept her decks and drove her right
before them.

"Well, it's a bad job," said Hunter, philosophically to Denison, as
he surveyed the wreck; "and yet it might ha' been worse.  Anyway,
we've got the pearl-shell--and know where we can get more.  How's
Chester?"

"Bad, very bad.  I'm afraid he won't pull through, Hunter.  That
hole in the back of his head is enough to settle him, let alone a
broken arm and broken ribs.  I've left Pedro with him for a bit.  I
wish to God we had a doctor here, Hunter.  I say, I wonder why
Nirani hasn't turned up before now.  She must have seen that the
schooner was missing at daylight."

"Come with me, my lad, and I'll show you why Nirani isn't here";
and the old captain, clambering over the wreckage that lay about
them, led the way down to a point of the beach that commanded a
view of the whole lagoon.

"Look over there!" he said.

"Good God!" said Denison, "the three islands are gone!"

"Aye, swept away in the night.  And not a soul has escaped, for
some of our natives have been down to see.  Chester's house was
farthest out too.  Poor little woman!  Don't tell him, though--at
least not yet."

                          * * * * *

Chester didn't die.  He was "too tough to go under very easy,"
Hunter said, but for a week he lay between life and death, nursed
with rough tenderness by his white and brown comrades, and then he
slowly mended.  And until he began to improve he never knew that
Nirani was gone, Hunter and Denison, in reply to his constant
inquiries, telling him that she was sick and could not come to him,
and instructing the natives who occasionally attended him to bear
out their story.  But at last Denison told him.

"I thought she was dead, Denison," he said, quietly.  "Poor girl,
poor girl!"

Then he "worried" and went back again; Denison said on account of
Nirani, Hunter said on account of his ribs not being yet "setted."

                          * * * * *

Another month or six weeks had passed by.  Hunter and his people
were busy building a cutter out of the timbers of the Montiara, and
the islands of Las Matelotas lay shining white and green in the
yellow sunshine, when a lumbering old barque, with many boats
hanging from her davits, ran along the weather reef of the lagoon
and then hove-to off the passage.

"Hurrah!" cried old Hunter, flinging down his adze; "it's the Amity
Parsons, an' Turner is sending a boat ashore.  We're in luck,
Denison.  He'll give us a passage to Ponape, and there's a doctor
there who'll soon put poor Chester to rights."  For Chester had
"gone back," as Hunter called his relapse, with a vengeance, and
although he heard the loud cries of his excited friends when the
ship came in sight, he took no heed of them as he lay in his little
thatched house near by.

"Wal, this is er surprise," said Captain Turner as he jumped out of
his boat and shook hands with Hunter; "I cert'nly didn't reckon to
find the Montiara piled up here.  Say, whar's Chester?"

Hunter told him as quickly as possible the story of their
misfortunes.

"Wal, this IS real vexin', I thought I done a foolish bit of
business in doin' what I hev done--now I'm certain of it.  Why,
I've got a lady passenger and small child on my hands now.  Now
what on airth am I to do?"

"_I_ know," said Hunter, cheerfully; "just come up to my hut and
I'll tell you what you're going to do--and a d---- lucky man you
are to come along with your greasy old blubber-hunter.  Look here,
Turner, you're going to take me and all the Montiara's crew to
Ponape, and Chester as well.  And I'm going to give ye a thousand
dollars for it."

"It's a deal," said Turner, laconically, as he followed Hunter up
the beach.

At sunset that evening the whaleship's boats took off the
Montiara's crew and the bags of pearl-shell; in the last boat were
Hunter, Denison, and Chester.

Scarcely able to walk, the sick man was led below and put into
Turner's own cabin by the ever-watchful Denison and the whaleship's
black steward.

"Thanks, old fellow," muttered Chester, extending his hand to his
friend; "you are as good a nurse as a woman."

"Am I?" laughed Denison.  "I think you'll change your mind about
that when you DO get a woman nurse;" and then he slipped out of the
cabin.

For some minutes Chester lay listening to the sound of the boats
being hauled up to the davits.  The cabin was very quiet and he
seemed to be all alone.

Then he felt a soft hand upon his arm, and in the dim light saw the
face of Alice Weston close to his own.

"Alice!" and he half rose from the bunk.  "Didn't you get my letter
by the Mattie?"

"No, darling.  Did you write me one at last?" she said as she
kissed him.

                          * * * * *

But long after they were married, Burton, the skipper of the
Mattie, told Denison that "the lady's yarn" was all bunkum--he gave
the letter to her himself.




HOLLIS'S DEBT: A TALE OF THE NORTH-WEST PACIFIC


One day a small Sydney-owned brigantine named the Maid of Judah,
loaded with coconut oil and sandal-wood and bound for China,
appeared off the little island of Pingelap, in the Caroline Group.
In those wild days--from 1820 to the end of the "'fifties"--the
sandal-wood trade was carried on by ships whose crews were
assemblages of the most utter ruffians in the Pacific Ocean, and
the hands that manned this brigantine were no exception.  There may
have been grades of villainy among them; perhaps if any one of them
was more blood-stained and criminal than the others, it was her
captain.

There being no anchorage at Pingelap, the captain sailed in as
close as he dared, and then hove-to under the lee of the land,
waiting for the natives to come aboard with some turtle.  Presently
a canoe put off from the long curve of yellow beach.  She was
manned by some eight or ten natives.  As she pulled up alongside,
the captain glanced at the white man who was steering and his face
paled.  He turned quickly away and went below.

                          * * * * *

The mate of the sandal-wooder shook hands with the white man and
looked curiously at him.  Only by his speech could he be recognised
as an Englishman.  His hair, long, rough and dull brown, fell on
his naked shoulders like that of a native.  A broad-brimmed hat,
made from the plaited leaf of the pandanus palm, was his only
article of European clothing; round his loins was a native girdle
of beaten coconut leaves.  And his skin was as dark as that of his
savage native crew; he looked, and was, a true Micronesian
beachcomber.

"You're under mighty short canvas, my friend," said the mate of the
vessel by way of pleasantry.

The man with the brown skin turned on him savagely.

"What the hell is that to you?  I don't dress to please a pack of
---- convicts and cut-throats!  Do you want to buy any turtle?
that's the question.  And where's the captain?"

"Captain Matson has gone below sick, sir," said the steward, coming
up and speaking to the mate.  "He says not to wait for the turtle
but to fill away again."

"Can't," said the mate, sharply.  "Tell him there isn't enough
wind.  Didn't he see that for himself ten minutes ago?  What's the
matter with him?"

"Don't know, sir.  Only said he was took bad sudden."

With an oath expressive of disgust the mate turned to the
beachcomber.  "You've had your trouble for nothing, you see.  The
old man don't want any turtle it seems--Why, what the hell is wrong
with YOU?"

The bearded, savage-looking beachcomber was leaning against a
backstay, his hands tightly clenched, and his eyes fixed in a wild,
insane stare.

He straightened himself up and spoke with an effort.

"Nothing.  I'm all right now.  'Tis a fearful hot day, and the sun
has giddied me a bit.  I daresay your skipper has got a touch of
the same thing.  But gettin' the turtle won't delay you.  I want
tobacco badly.  You can have as many turtle as you want for a
couple of pounds o' tobacco."

"Right," said the mate--"that's dirt-cheap.  Get 'em aboard as
quick as you can.  Let's have twenty."

The beachcomber laughed.  "You don't know much about Pingelap
turtle if you think a canoe would hold more than two together.
We've got 'em here five hundredweight.  You'll have to send a boat
if you want that many.  They're too heavy to bring off in canoes.
But I'll go on ahead and tell the people to get 'em ready for you."

He got over the side into the canoe, and was paddled quickly
ashore.

The mate went below to tell the skipper.  He found him sitting at
the cabin table with white face and shaking limbs, drinking Sydney
rum.

"That beachcombing cove has gone ashore; but he says if you send a
boat he'll give us twenty turtle for some tobacco.  We want some
fresh meat badly.  Shall I lower the boat?"

An instantaneous change came over the skipper's features, and he
sighed as if a heavy load was off his mind.

"Has he gone, Willis? . . .  Oh, yes, we must have the turtle.  Put
a small twelve-pound case of tobacco in the whaleboat, and send
half a dozen Sandwich Island natives with the second mate.  Tell
Barton to hurry back.  We're in too close, and I must tow out a bit
when the boat comes back--and I say, Willis, keep that beachcombing
fellow on the main-deck if he comes aboard again.  I don't like his
looks, and don't want him down in the cabin on any account."

                          * * * * *

The second mate and his crew followed the white man and a crowd of
natives to the pond where the turtle were kept.  It was merely a
huge pool in the reef, with a rough wall of coral slabs built round
it to prevent the turtle escaping when the tides rose higher than
usual.

"A real good idea--" began the second mate, when there was a
lightning rush of the brown-skinned men upon him and his crew.  At
knocking a man down and tying him up securely your Caroline
Islander is unmatched, he does it so artistically.  I know this
from experience.

                          * * * * *

"This is rather sudden, isn't it, Barton?"  The beachcomber was
speaking to him, looking into his eyes as he lay upon the ground.
"You don't remember my face, do you?  Perhaps my back would improve
your memory.  Ah, you brute, I can pay both you and that murderous
dog of a Matson back now.  I knew I should meet you both again some
day."

Across the sullen features of the seaman there flashed a quick
light--the gleam of a memory.  But his time was brief.  The
beachcomber whispered to a native.  A heavy stone was lashed to the
second mate's chest.  Then they dropped him over the wall into the
pond.  The native sailors they left where they lay.

And now ensued a hurried, whispered colloquy.  The story of that
day's work is not yet forgotten among the old hands of Ponape and
Yap.  Suffice it to say that by a cunningly contrived device the
captain was led to believe that the second mate and his men had
deserted, and sent the chief mate and six more of his crew to aid
the natives in recapturing them.  The presence of numbers of women
and children walking unconcernedly about the beach made him assured
that no treachery was intended.  The mate and his men were captured
in one of the houses, where they had been taken by the beachcomber
for a drink.  They were seized from behind and at once bound, but
without any unnecessary rough usage.

"What's all this for?" said the mate unconcernedly to the white
man.  He was an old hand, and thought it meant a heavy ransom--or
death.

The beachcomber was standing outside in the blazing sun, looking at
the ship.  There were a number of natives on board selling fish and
young coconuts.  The women and children still sauntered to and fro
on the beach.  He entered the house and answered the query.

"It means this; no harm to you and these six men here if you lie
quiet and wait till I send for you to come aboard again.  The other
six Sandwich Islanders are alive but tied up.  Barton is dead, I
have settled my score with HIM."

"Ah," said the mate, after a brief outburst of blasphemy, "I see,
you mean to cut off the ship."

"No, I don't.  But I have an old debt to settle with the skipper.
Keep quiet, or you'll follow Mister Barton.  And I don't want to
kill you.  I've got nothing against YOU."

Then the beachcomber, with some twenty natives, went to where the
first six men were lying, and carried them down into the mate's
boat.

                          * * * * *

"Here's the second mate's chaps, sir," said the carpenter to
Matson; "the natives has 'em tied hand and foot, like pigs.  But I
don't see Barton among 'em."

"No," said the captain, "they wouldn't tie up a white man.  He'll
come off with Willis and the turtle.  I never thought Barton would
bolt."

The ruse succeeded admirably.  The boat-load of natives had hardly
been ten seconds on deck ere the brigantine was captured.  Matson,
lashed in a sitting position to the quarter railing, saw the last
man of the cutting-out party step on board, and a deadly fear
seized him.  For that last man was the beachcomber.

He walked aft and stood over him.  "Come on board, Captain Thomas
Matson," he said, mockingly saluting him.  Then he stepped back and
surveyed his prisoner.

"You look well, Matson.  You know me now, don't you?"

The red, bloated face of the skipper patched and mottled, and his
breath came in quick, short gasps of rage and terror.

"Ah, of course you do!  It's only three years ago since that Sunday
at Vaté in the New Hebrides, when you had me triced up and Barton
peeled the hide off me in strips.  You said I'd never forget it--
AND I'VE COME TO TELL YOU THAT YOU WERE RIGHT.  I haven't.  It's
been meat and drink to me to think that we might meet again."

He stopped.  His white teeth glistened beneath the black-bearded
lips in a low laugh--a laugh that chilled the soul of his listener.

A light air rippled the water and filled the sails, and the
brigantine moved.  The man went to the wheel and gave it a turn to
port.

"Yes," he resumed, casting his eye aloft, "I'm delighted to have a
talk with you, Matson.  You will see that your crew are working the
ship for me.  You don't mind, do you, eh?  And we can talk a bit,
can't we?"

No answer came.

"None of the old hands left, I see, Matson--except Barton.  Do you
know where he is now?  No?  He's dead.  I hadn't any particular
grudge against him.  He was only your flogger.  But I killed him,
and I'm going to kill you."  He crossed his bare, sinewy arms on
the wheel, and smiled again at the bound and terrified wretch.

"You've had new bulwarks and spars since, I see.  Making money fast
now, I suppose.  I hope your mate is a good navigator, Matson.
HE'S going to take this ship to Honolulu."

Then the fear-stricken man found his tongue, and a wild, gasping
appeal for mercy broke from him.

"Don't murder me, Hollis.  I've been a bad man all my life.  For
God's sake, let me off!  I was a brute to you.  I've got a wife and
children.  For Christ's sake--!"

The man sprang from the wheel and kicked him savagely in the mouth
with his bare foot.

"Ha! you've done it now.  'For Christ's sake.  For Christ's sake!'
Don't you remember when _I_ used those words:  'For Christ's sake,
sir, hear me!  I did not run away.  I got lost coming from the
place where we were cutting the sandal-wood.'"  A flicker of foam
fell on his tawny hand.  "You dog, you bloody-minded fiend!  For
three years I have waited . . . and I have you now."

A choking groan of terror came from Matson.

"Hollis!  Spare me! . . . my children."

The man had gone back to the wheel, calm again.  A brisk puff was
rippling over the water from the westward.  His seaman's eye
glanced aloft, and the wheel again spun round.  "Ready, about!" he
called.  The brigantine went and stood in again--to meet the mate's
boat.

                          * * * * *

"Come this way, Mr. Willis.  Captain Matson and I have been having
a chat about old times.  You don't know me, do you?  Captain Matson
is a little upset just now, so I'll tell you who I am.  My name is
Hollis.  I was one of the hands of this ship.  I am owner now.
Funny, isn't it?  Now, now; don't get excited, Mr. Willis, and look
about you in that way.  There isn't a ghost of a chance; I can tell
you that.  If you make one step towards me, you and every man Jack
will get his throat cut.  And as soon as I have finished my
business with our friend here you'll be captain--and owner, too, if
you like.  By the by, what's the cargo worth?"

The mate told him.

"Ah, quite a nice little sum--two thousand pounds.  Now, Mr.
Willis, that will be practically yours.  With only one other white
man on board, you can take the vessel to Honolulu and sell both her
and the cargo, and no questions asked.  Hard on our friend here,
though; isn't it?"

"Good God, man, what are you going to do to the captain--murder
him?"

"For God's sake, Willis, help me!"  The mute agony in the skipper's
face, more than the spoken words, moved even the rough and brutal
nature of the mate, and he opened his lips to speak.

"No!" said the man at the wheel; "you shall not help him.  Look at
this!"

He tossed aside the mantle of tangled hair that fell down his
shoulders, and presented his scarred and hideous back to the mate.

"Now, listen to me, Mr. Willis.  Go below and pass up as much
tobacco and trade as will fill the small boat.  _I_ don't want
plunder.  But these natives of mine do."

In a few minutes the goods were hoisted up and lowered into the
boat.  Then the two six-pounders on the main deck were run
overboard, and all the small arms taken from the cabin by the
natives.

"Call your men aft," the white man said to Willis.  They came along
the deck and stood behind him.

"Carry that man on to the main hatch."

Two of the strongest of the native sailors picked up the burly
figure of the captain and laid him on the spot the beachcomber
indicated and cut his bonds.

                          * * * * *

A dead silence.  The tall, sun-baked figure of the muscular
beachcomber, naked save for his grass girdle, seemed, as he stood
at the wheel, the only animate thing on board.  He raised his
finger and beckoned to a sailor to come and steer.  Then with quick
strides he reached the hatch and stood in front of his prey.

"Captain Tom Matson.  Look at me well; and see what you have made
me.  Your time . . . and MINE . . . at last."

He extended his hand.  A native placed in it the hilt of a knife,
short, broad-bladed, heavy and keen-edged.

"Ha!  Can't you speak?  Can't YOU say 'for Christ's sake'?  Don't
the words stick in your throat?"

The sinewy left hand darted out and seized the fated man by the
hair, and then with a savage backward jerk bent back his head, and
drew taut the skin of the coarse, thick throat.  Then he raised the
knife . . .

                          * * * * *

He wiped the knife on his girdle, and looked in silence at the
bubbling arterial stream that poured down over the hatch-coamings.

"You won't forget my name, will you?" he said to the mate.
"Hollis; Hollis, of Sydney; they know me there; the man that was
flogged at Vaté by him, THERE--and left ashore to die at Santo."

He glanced down at the limp, huddled-up mass at his feet, got into
the boat, and with his naked associates, paddled ashore.

The breeze had freshened up, and as the brigantine slowly sailed
past the crowded huts of the native village a hundred yards
distant, the mate saw the beachcomber standing by his thatched
house.  He was watching the ship.

A young native girl came up to him with a wooden water-bowl, and
stood waiting.  With his eyes still fixed on the ship he thrust his
reddened hands into the water, moved them slowly to and fro, then
dried them on his girdle of grass.




THE ARM OF LUNO CAPÁL


When Kermody, the new trainer from the Marshall Group, came to
Matupi, in New Britain, and said he was willing to take Colin
Murray's trading station at Mutávat, away down the coast, every one
said he was mad.

"Don't you do it, young fellow," said Billy Rodman, the greatest
fighter and oldest trader from the Solomon's to the Admiralty
Group.  "Take my advice and don't do it.  Look here, there's plenty
of places nearer here than Mutávat, where you can do just as well,
and get just as much copra as you can in that cut-throat cannibal
shop."

"I daresay," said Kermody, a young, fair-featured Irishman of about
five-and-twenty, "but the fact is, I want to go there.  I mean to
have a slap at that patch of black-edged shell about ten miles on
the other side of Mutávat.  I've got six Yap natives with me--
brought them from the Caroline Islands--all good divers, and all
d----d good fighting-men as well.  And I think I can stick it out
there.  Levison, of the brig Adolphe, told me two years ago, when I
met him up in the Pelews, that the shell is there, right enough,
and in shallow water, too--whips of it."

"Of course it's there, all of us here knows that," said Rattray,
the trader from Ralune; "but there is no one of us fool enough to
go and live there.  Why, man, Murray was only there three weeks
when they speared him, and his three native boys, and ate them."

"But Murray's station was at Mutávat," said Kermody.  "He was
killed there, wasn't he?  And when I say I'm going to Mutávat--I
mean that I only intend using Murray's house as a living station
during bad weather.  My idea is to sail right down to the place
where the shell is, and live on that little island between the reef
and the mainland."

"Look here, young fellow.  Me and these chaps here"--and old Rodman
indicated by a nod of his shaggy gray head the five other white men
present--"ain't none too pleased to see you come to New Britain.
Not that we doesn't like you--it's not that.  But there's quite
enough of us trading about here from Blanche Bay to Kabira--the
only parts where a man's life is pretty safe.  We chaps came here
before the missionaries and before the Dutchmen,* and used to do
pretty well.  Then what with the missionaries and the big Dutch
firm coming in and sticking traders all over the coast, and
underselling all us old hands, with their cheap and rotten German
rubbish, times ain't what they used to be; and we don't want to see
any more new men coming in and making it harder for us to earn a
living.  Ain't I right, chaps?"


* All Germans, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, &c, are "Dutchmen," to
the English trader.


"In course yer are, Billy," said Cockney Smith, a bleary-eyed, gin-
drinking little man, dressed in a suit of dirty duck.  "By and by,
if many more coves come here on the trading racket, we'll bloomin'
well have to go 'awkin' our stuff round to the natives in baskets
like bloomin' pedlars."

"Well, wait a minute," resumed Rodman, continuing his remarks to
young Kermody; "as I was saying, we don't want any more traders
about here.  But at the same time, we don't want to see any white
man go down to the place you want to go to, and get his throat cut
before he's been there a week.  When the German firm opened that
station at Mutávat two years ago, they asked me to take charge of
it.  I wouldn't.  I knew what the natives down there are.  Two of
the firm's own men went down with a lot of New Ireland niggers as a
sort of bodyguard.  A month afterwards, when the Iserbrook brig
went down to get their copra, they found that the two Dutchmen and
every man Jack of the New Ireland niggers had been killed and
eaten, and the station looted.  Did the German manager tell you
that, when he told you what a fine house and station it was?"

"No," said Kermody; "he didn't."

"And he didn't tell poor Murray, either.  We did, but it was too
late then.  He had signed his agreement, and said he wouldn't back
out, but take his chance.  Like yourself, he was a new hand here.
He'd just come from Fiji way somewheres and thought that as he knew
all about psalm-singing Fiji niggers, that he'd get along all right
with these New Britain beggars.  And in three weeks he and his
three native boys went down their d----d gullets."

For a minute Kermody hesitated.  He was a courageous man, but not,
in his own opinion, a foolhardy one.  Levison, a wandering trading
skipper, had given him a glowing account of the rich patches of
black-edged pearl-shell he had seen along the coast about Mutávat.
And these men confirmed it.  And somehow Kermody didn't altogether
believe that concern for him personally was at the bottom of their
anxiety lest he should go.  Perhaps they meant to have a slap at it
themselves.  That's what it was!  So he made up his mind to go.  He
had left the Carolines to come to New Britain for the purpose of
getting that shell and he meant to have it.

"Well, I'm very much obliged to you all, gentlemen.  But I won't
settle down here to buy copra.  I've got a good cutter and six good
men, and plenty of arms.  At the same time, I'll tell the German
manager that he can keep his blasted station.  I won't go near it--
thanks to you--I'll take the cutter in over the reef and anchor her
off the little island.  Levison told me there are no natives living
on it, and that they seldom land on it."

"They'll land on it when you don't expect 'em," said Rodman,
grimly.  "You don't know these niggers.  They ain't the sort of
people you have been used to in the Marshalls and Carolines.  They
are the lowest-down, most treacherous, bloodthirsty cannibals in
the Pacific, and no one but a madman would go so far down the coast
as you are going, even with six men well armed.  They are bound to
get you in time.  If they see that you suspect them, they'll get
d----d sociable with you, and cut your throat when you're asleep.
However, I've had my say, young fellow, and I'm very sorry you
won't take my advice.  When are you going?"

"To-morrow."

"Going to take your wife?"

Kermody smiled.  "Rather.  She's as good as a man.  Not a bit
scared.  Comes from a good fighting stock.  She's a Pelew Island
girl."

"Well, then, I suppose it's no use talking.  But I don't think you
should take her.  Let her stay here with my old woman; or, better
still, with Pedro's wife.  She's a young thing, and will be glad of
her company.  Besides that, Pedro's wife comes from somewhere near
the Pelews, don't she, Pedro?"

"Yes," answered the man addressed, a small, slender-built
Portuguese.  "She coma from Las Matelotas; speaka sama languaga as
Pelew."

"No, thanks.  You're very kind, but she wouldn't stay behind," said
Kermody (and, indeed, what Pelew girl would leave her white husband
through fear or death or danger?), and with a kindly nod to the
five traders he went out, walked down to the beach, got into his
boat, and went off to the cutter, which lay at anchor just off old
Billy Rodman's station.

                          * * * * *

At daylight next morning Pedro Unzaga and his Matelotas wife,
standing at the door of their house, saw the cutter get under way,
and with the first breath of the trade wind bellying out her
mainsail, sail slowly past the curving palm-lined beach that
fringed the shore for a long ten miles.

"Pedro," said his wife, laying her hand on her husband's arm, and
looking wistfully at the little vessel as she passed, "she speaketh
my tongue. . . .  And it is long since I last heard it. . . .  And
it may be that she will never come back. . . .  And she is but a
child."

                          * * * * *

For two days the cutter sailed westward, and Kermody--as he steered
her past the long, long stretches of white, sandy beach, and saw
the groves of stately palms and rich verdure of the hills in the
background, and the flash and gleam of many a mountain torrent far
inland--called to his young wife to come and sit beside him.

"'Tis a fair green land," said he, as she came to his call, and
sitting beside him leant her cheek upon his shoulder, and looked
dreamily across to the shore.

"Aye, Kermotee," she answered, in her native tongue.  "A fair green
land; but yet not so green to my eyes as Uruloong, the land of my
father.  And Seta, the wife of Pedro, sayeth that the men who dwell
here are eaters of men's flesh.  And they are black and ugly to
look upon.  Kermotee," and she lifted her eyes, soft, black, and
lustrous, to his face, "let us not live here in this evil land
always."

"But for six months, my bird," said Kermody, stroking her glossy
hair--"only for six months, till we have filled the cutter with
this pearl-shell, and I have a string of pearls for that white
throat of thine.  Then will we be rich, and sail to Singapore.
There will I sell the pearl-shell, and then shall we return to
Uruloong and live."

A soft, tender smile flitted across her pale face, and Kermody,
taking her hand in his, pulled up the loose sleeve of her blouse to
the shoulders and looked at the thin spiral lines of blue tattoo
that ran in graceful curves from her shoulder down to her slender
wrist.

"Thou art for ever looking at my arm," she laughed, in her sweet,
low voice; "is not the marking to thy liking, my husband?"

"Nay, not that, Luno-Capál.  But I wonder that thou, child of a
white father, should so follow the fashion of thy country."

"I was but a little child when my white father died.  And my
mother's people desired me to be as any other girl of Uruloong.  So
I was tattooed as thou seest, but only on mine arms."

Kermody smiled.  She was but a child even now; and as he looked at
her fair young face and graceful, delicate figure, and thought of
the rough life he was bringing her to on this shelling trip, his
conscience smote him for not having left her with the wife of Pedro
the Portuguese till he returned.

"Kermotee," she said, presently, toying with his hand, "would it
please thee better if my arms were as the arms of a woman of thy
own land?"

"No," he answered, pinching her chin playfully.  "Thy arms are to
my liking.  Yet us white men like not the fashion of tattooing.
Still to me it matters nothing."

"And thou would'st know my arm from that of any other, even were
the tattoo marks like these?" she said, with childish vanity--"even
if my face were hidden from thee?"

"Even as I would know thy eyes among the eyes of ten thousand,
though the rest of thy face were hidden from me," he answered,
drawing her to him.

                          * * * * *

A month had passed, and then one day, when the trade wind blew
strong, and the lines of palms along the beaches swayed and bent
their plumèd crowns, and the sea was white-horsed away to the
horizon, the cutter came in sight again, and dropped her anchor
within a mile of Pedro's house.

"How are you?" said Kermody, as, half an hour later, he jumped out
of his boat, and met the Portuguese on the beach.  "I've had grand
luck; got two tons of shell in the first week, and am getting more
every day.  But Luno Capál is a bit sick."

"Gotta th' fev'?" suggested Pedro.

"No, I don't think it's fever, Pedro.  I think she's fretting a bit
ever since she saw your wife.  You see I'm away in the boat all
day, and she's left on the little island by herself.  And I've come
up to ask you to let your wife come with me, and keep her company
for a week or two.  Will you?"

"Yes," said Pedro, who was a good-natured fellow, and who felt
reassured now that Kermody had returned safely, "I'll let her go
wis you.  She what you call 'fretta' too for your wife.  All daya
long she talk about her, and aska question about when she come
back."

Then Kermody asked Pedro to come as well, and after some little
hesitation he consented.  He did not like leaving his station
without any one to take care of it, but at the same time was
anxious to see Kermody's pearling ground.  In a few minutes they
were at his house, and his pretty little Matelotas wife clapped her
hands with joy when she heard the reason of Kermody's visit.  In
two hours they were all on board, and the cutter was lying over to
the breeze, with the water swirling and slopping over her lee rail.
Only two of Kermody's crew were on board, the other four having
been left with his wife on the island, with strict instructions to
keep a good watch for any native canoes.

"But I don't think there's the slightest danger," said Kermody to
Pedro, as they sat smoking in the cabin, and listening to the rush
and seeth of the water as the little cutter swept through the
night.  "We haven't seen a native yet, although we've seen any
amount of fires on the mainland; and Levison told me there was a
big town of two thousand natives about ten miles away from the
little island."

Yes; Pedro knew that the town was inhabited by a branch of the
Mutávat tribe--the Narra.  When the Mutávat people killed the two
Dutchmen and Murray, they had sent portions of their bodies over to
the big town mentioned by Levison.  And when the Narra people had a
cannibal feast they "always sent a limb over to the Mutávat crowd."

"What infernal brutes!" said Kermody.  "I wouldn't live in such a
cursed country for a fortune.  However, I'm pretty safe where I am
now, and mean to stay on the island till I fill the cutter with
pearl shell.  I may come back again, Pedro, with a bigger crowd of
men next year--that is if my little woman doesn't buck.  I promised
her a month ago that I would not stay here over six months.  But,
by Jove, Pedro, there's a dozen fortunes lying around here.
And . . . well, to tell you the truth, I'm only telling her a lie.
I do mean to come back here, and I know she won't let me come
alone."

Pedro nodded, and wishing Kermody good-night, he turned in.

                          * * * * *

The breeze fell during the night, and at daylight the cutter was
slipping along over a smooth sea, with a clear blue sky overhead.
The little island was still ten miles away, and just as the sun
rose, Kermody could see the faint, dim outlines of its palm-covered
shore pencilled against the horizon.

"Hallo," said Pedro, "I see a canoe right ahead."

"I see that canoe just a couple of minutes ago," said Harry, a
native of Yap, who acted as Kermody's mate.  "She was coming this
way, then she slewed round and made back."

"We'll soon overhaul them, anyway," said Kermody to Pedro.  "But,
by the Lord, they ARE paddling!"

Pedro had his dark, deep-set eyes fixed steadily on the canoe,
which contained four men.  Then he turned to Kermody with an uneasy
look upon his face.

"What's the matter?" asked Kermody.

Pedro shook his head solemnly, and said he thought it was very
curious that they should meet this canoe.  She seemed to have been
coming from the island towards Mutávat, which was now astern of
them.  But now she had turned back, and was making for the
mainland.

"We'll soon see what the devil they're in such a hurry about," said
Kermody, and he altered the cutter's course a point or two, so as
to intercept the canoe.  At the same moment Pedro came up from
below with his rifle, which he laid down on the deck.

In twenty minutes more the cutter was within three hundred yards of
the canoe, and Pedro taking up his rifle, sent a shot through her.
The four natives, who had been paddling as if for their lives, at
once jumped overboard and dived towards the shore.

"What did you do that for?" said Kermody, angrily, to Pedro.

"Look at that," answered the Portuguese, pointing to the canoe.

Kermody could see nothing but the empty canoe floating about.
Amidships, and suspended between two slender upright sticks, was a
basket of coconut leaf, which swayed to and fro with the motion of
the sea.

"What is it?" asked Kermody, impatiently.  He was angry at Pedro's
wanton shot.

The Portuguese took the tiller from him, and let the cutter run up
alongside the rocking canoe.  As she swept by he let go the tiller,
and reaching out his hand caught the basket from between the sticks
and dropped it down upon the deck.

Kermody picked it up, and cutting the lashing of cinnet that
secured the sides, turned it upside down upon the skylight.

"It's not very heavy, Pedro, anyway. . . .  Oh, my God! . . ."

It was the arm of Luno Capál.




IN A SAMOAN VILLAGE


Sixty years ago, when not a score of white men lived in Samoa, and
when, as now, the greatest chief in the country bore the name of
Malietoa, there ruled over the district of Lefanga, in the western
end of Upolu, a chief of singular courage and most undaunted
resolution.  His name was Tuisila; and although scarcely past his
youth, he had already distinguished himself in battle on many
occasions.  Like the valorous but ferocious Finau of Tonga, with
whom he was contemporary, and whose name first became known to
English people by his cutting off of the London privateer, Port-au-
Prince, in 1805, the young Samoan chief had associated with him in
his warlike enterprises some few white men, whom misfortune or
their own crimes had led to their abandonment of all civilised ties
and associations.  In the case of Finau, a young English seaman
named William Mariner, who was one of the survivors of the Port-au-
Prince massacre, preserved in his journal of his four years'
residence in Tonga, a record of the names of many of the white
mercenaries who aided Finau to subjugate his enemies.  Most of
these men, like Mariner himself, had been spared from the general
slaughter of the privateer's crew by the astute Finau in order that
they might instruct his people how to use the cannon which belonged
to the armament of the captured ship.  And so readily did the
adventurous privateersmen enter into his wishes that in a very
short time Finau was able to subdue all those who contested his
authority, for his white artillerymen soon destroyed forts hitherto
considered impregnable to attacks conducted in the ordinary Tongan
method.  While, however, there were in the service of the chief
Finau about sixteen Englishmen, the Samoan chief Tuisila had but
three, and at the time of this story he was lamenting the death of
one of these, who, a few days before, had been mortally wounded in
an encounter with a foray party from another district, and whose
body had just been buried by his two comrades, assisted by the
natives.

                          * * * * *

One evening, a few days after this man's death, Tuisila, to show
the respect in which he held his white friends, assembled the
people in front of his house and ordered a "lagisolo," or funeral
dirge, to be sung in honour of the memory of the dead white man,
and sent a message to his surviving comrades to honour the ceremony
by their presence.

Living somewhat apart from the other houses of the village, some
little time passed ere they presented themselves to Tuisila, who,
receiving them with that dignified courtesy which is innate in all
Samoans of whatever rank, bade them be seated beside him in the
place of honour.  Then, at a signal from the chief, the opening
solo was begun by an aged woman, and the two white men, rough and
stern as were their natures, could not be but affected somewhat as
the plaintive, wailing notes that recounted their comrade's
achievements resounded through the quiet evening air.  The scene of
the ceremony was a small fortified village situated at the foot of
Mount Tofua, and looking seaward over the wide, blue expanse of
Falelatai Bay.

The trade wind was slowly fading away, and the dense fringe of
cocos that studded the beach of the verdant littoral between the
mountain village and the shores of the bay scarce moved their
drooping leaves to its dying breaths.  Far up, towards the summit
of Tofua, the purpling shades of the setting sun were giving way to
the night mantle of soft, white cloud that crept up and around its
deeply-verdured sides and bold, outspreading spurs.

For some minutes the men sat smoking in silence and gazing at the
foaming curves of the barrier reef encompassing the bay of
Falelatai, and apparently taking but little heed of what was going
on around them.  Presently, however, at the conclusion of the
dirge, they heard the full, manly tones of the young chief
directing some young women to prepare a bowl of kava.  The sound of
his voice aroused them from their thoughts, and brought them back
to their wild surroundings.

"Bill," said the elder, a grey-bearded, muscular man of fifty, "I
wonder if you an' me is going to get finished off like poor Tommy
Lane?  Or is you an' me goin' to spend all our lives here among a
race o' savages, livin' like 'em, thinkin' like 'em, and dyin' like
'em?"

The younger man, who was known to the natives as Tuifau ("the
blacksmith," or "ironworker") for some minutes made no answer.
Unlike his companion--who was evidently but a rude, uncultured
seaman--his countenance, tanned and roughened as it was by his wild
and adventurous life, showed not only intelligence but a degree of
refinement that would not be looked for in one whose conditions of
existence were so degrading.  Both men were dressed like natives,
naked to the waist, and save where their girdles of ti leaves
protected their skins, their tattooed bodies and limbs were
darkened as deeply by the rays of a tropic sun as were those of
their native associates.  At last "Bill" spoke, but with such a
strange bitterness in his voice that his comrade stared at him in
wonder.

"Aye, Dick, as you say; are we indeed to end our days here among
these people, or meet the fate of poor Tom?  Think of it, man.  Let
us look things in the face.  What are we in our own minds?  What
would any of your or my countrymen think of us but that we are a
pair of shameless, degraded beings, unfit to associate with; sunk
too low to even think of returning to civilisation again?"

The elder man moved uneasily, and then glanced somewhat curiously
at the other.

"That's comin' it rather strong, Bill.  We ain't no worse than any
other papalagi tafea* in Samoa.  I don't mean to say as I'd like to
go aboard ship like this"--and he touched his naked body and
pointed to his tattooed legs--"but, at the same time, it ain't my
fault, and it ain't yourn.  I runned away from my ship twenty years
ago, because she was a floatin' hell.  Perhaps, if I could ha' got
away again from here in a year or so, I would ha' gone.  But I took
to the native live, and the life took to me.  An' I says I've had a
better time among these here people than I would ha' had at sea.
What's the use o' gettin' hell knocked out o' you all your life at
sea and dyin' in the poor-house in the end?  O' course, wi' you
it's different.  You is on'y a young man, an' has a eddication.
I'm on'y a old shell-back as doesn't care a dam' 'bout anything.
But now as you've started talkin' 'bout these things, I does own
I've sometimes had a kind of a wision like of bein' in London
again, and sittin' down in front o' a frothin' mug o' stout.  God
alive, just think of it!"


* Beachcombers.


A slight smile flickered across the younger man's lips.  Then he
asked, "Isn't there anybody you'd like to see again in the old
country, Dick?"

The grizzled old beachcomber shook his head.  "No--leastways, not
as I knows of.  I s'pose every one thinks I'm dead.  I say, Bill,
what made you take to this kind of life?"

"Bill," otherwise William Trenchard, once a petty officer on the
American frigate Huron, clenched his browned hands and stared
moodily before him.  Then he said slowly, "Because, like yourself,
I was tired of a life at sea.  And because one day three years ago
I was taken by the pretty face of a native girl--I deserted from
the Huron at the Sandwich Islands, and came here in an American
whaler."

"Well, ain't you satisfied?  Doesn't you and me live like fightin'-
cocks?  Tell yer what it is, Bill--this here cove, Tuisila, thinks
a hell of a lot o' us.  An' jest you remember this--he's going to
be king o' Samoa before long.  You see, you've on'y been here two
years.  I've been here twenty, an' I knows what's goin' on.
Malietoa would like to see Tuisila dead--he's afeerd he's gettin'
too powerful."

"Well, even so, what good will that do us?"

"Lots!  Why, you an' me will be two of the biggest men in the
country.  Your wife is a sort o' adopted sister to Tuisila, an' if
he wipes out Malietoa, you'll be the second man in the country."

Trenchard rose to his feet and laughed bitterly.  "Yes, and even
then only a disgrace to my own."

He was about to walk away when he remembered that he would be
expected to remain and drink a bowl of kava with his native master,
and so resumed his seat upon his mat again in sullen silence.

                          * * * * *

Among the many hundreds of women and girls who were seated around
were his wife Malama and her infant child.  Scarcely out of her
girlhood, she possessed to a very great degree all that beauty of
face and figure and vivacity of expression that are met with in the
Malayo-Polynesian races of the Pacific Islands, and a smile lit up
her features as she heard her husband's name called out next to
that of her adopted brother, the chief, as the bowl of kava was
presented to him to drink.

Hitherto the name of the older of the two men had, by reason of his
long services and valorous conduct, been held in such esteem by
Tuisila--and his father before him--that at all ceremonious kava-
drinkings it had always been called out immediately after that of
the chief himself.

So as the stalwart young native who officiated as cup-bearer
presented the bowl to Trenchard with a respectful obeisance, the
younger white man waived it aside, and nodded his head towards old
Richard Mayne.

"That's all right, Bill," said the old beachcomber, without the
slightest trace of bitterness in his voice, and, of course,
speaking in English, "I ain't put out a bit.  You're goin' to be
the big man here now, an' I ain't fool enough to get mad over
what's werry natural.  You has a eddication, an' these natives
knows it.  Drink it, man, an' good luck to us both."

Trenchard, however, turning to the chief, who sat looking at him
with a smile on his face, still declined the honour, and it was not
until the chief's orator, or "talking man," who sat behind him,
rose, and leaning on his staff, said that it was not only the wish
of Tuisila, but of the older white man himself, that Trenchard
yielded and drank.

For some minutes or so the ceremony continued, the kava bowl being
passed round to the various sub-chiefs in order of rank, and then
Tuisila whispered to his orator, who, again rising, addressed the
assemblage.  His speech was brief, but the excited looks and
expressions of pleasure that immediately followed showed its
importance--a messenger had that morning arrived from Apia with the
news that an American man-of-war had dropped anchor in the harbour,
and that her captain, desiring to meet Tuisila and the chiefs of
his district, wished them to visit his ship.  His reason for making
the request was that, learning of the disturbed state of the
island, and the bloody encounters that had occurred between
Malietoa and his tributary chiefs, he wished to effect a
reconciliation.

For a moment or two no one spoke, and then Tuisila asked the white
men to tell the assembled people their opinion of the naval
officer's request; would it be safe for him to accede, or did they
think that the captain was acting in collusion with Malietoa and
intended to make him (Tuisila) a prisoner?

Trenchard at once expressed the opinion that the man-of-war
captain's request concealed no evil intention, and urged the chief
to comply.  He pointed out to him the probability of Malietoa
having already seen the captain, and, through his white
interpreters, sought to gain his armed aid in bringing his
rebellious chiefs to submission; and that the naval officer no
doubt wished to hear both sides, and then endeavour to reconcile
them to one another.

Placing as he did the greatest faith in his two white men, the
chief at once announced his intention of setting out on the
following day, and preparations were at once begun to make the
journey in three or four large taumualua, or native boats.

                          * * * * *

It now became necessary for Trenchard to tell the chief that he
could not accompany him.  He gave his excuse that he had no desire
to ever again come in contact with white men while in his present
condition.  The mere absence of clothing, he said, would subject
him to insult and place him in an ignominious position.  The only
garments he had were in such a ragged state that he could not
possibly venture to clothe himself in them; therefore he begged the
chief to permit him and his comrade, who was in precisely the same
situation, to remain behind, or at least to only accompany the
expedition to within a certain distance of Apia Harbour.  To this
suggestion Tuisila reluctantly assented.

Unaware of the real reason of Trenchard's objections to visit the
man-of-war (for the chief did not know that he was a deserter),
Tuisila expressed the most lively sympathy, and stated that he
would endeavour to get them some clothing from the two or three
white men who lived under the protection of Malietoa, so that the
next time that a ship touched at the island they should not be
debarred from visiting her and hearing the sound of their country's
tongue again.

At dawn the boats left the village, and Mayne and Trenchard, who
were in the same boat as the valorous young chief, could not but
see that he was visibly depressed at their not being able to
accompany him on board the man-of-war and assist in any
negotiations that might take place.  Trenchard was accompanied by
his wife, and his comrade Mayne by one daughter.  Malama, as was
natural enough, looked forward with pleasure to the prospect of
visiting a man-of-war, for in those days whole years passed without
a ship touching at the group, which was but little known to
navigators, and the sight of white strangers was a rare event.

Early in the afternoon the chief's flotilla ran into Vaitele Bay,
on the western side of the point of Mulinu'u, some three miles from
Apia Harbour, and Trenchard could see through the serried lines of
cocos the lofty spars of a large frigate that lay at anchor off
Matautu Point.  At the place where they landed Tuisila was met by
messengers from King Malietoa.  They brought him the customary
presents from their master, and expressed the king's hope that
their meeting would result in bringing their disastrous quarrel to
an end.  A bowl of kava was at once prepared in one of the houses
and partaken of by Tuisila's party and the messengers from
Malietoa, and then the two white men saw him, accompanied by Malama
and Mayne's daughter, step into the boats again and paddle away
towards the ship.

For nearly two hours Trenchard and his companion lay in the house
awaiting Tuisila's return, and then, becoming wearied, they set out
for a walk towards a village a mile or so away, where lived people
who were related to Mayne's wife.  Both men were possessed of
muskets, but, feeling perfectly sure of the good intentions of
Malietoa's people, they had had no hesitation in leaving their arms
in the care of the people of the house they had just left.

                          * * * * *

As soon as Tuisila reached the ship he at once, without the
slightest hesitation, ascended to the deck, where he was met by the
captain and his officers, who received him most hospitably, for
they were struck with his dignified and imposing bearing.  On the
other side of the deck were a group of natives, and among them the
young chief recognised the stately figure of his foe, the King
Malietoa, who quickly advanced towards him and greeted him in a
friendly manner.

With the king was a white man named Collis, who acted as
interpreter, and who was now desired by the American captain to ask
the two chiefs to come below into his cabin and have a friendly
conference.  To this both Malietoa and Tuisila immediately
consented, and they were about to follow the interpreter when the
latter caught sight of the figure of the graceful Malama, who was
standing on the main deck with old Mayne's half-caste daughter.
Both the young women seemed lost in timid wonder at the strangeness
of their surroundings, and Collis, knowing them both by repute,
called to them to go on to the quarter-deck, where they would feel
more private.

Holding each other by the hand like two children, they walked shyly
along the deck, till Tuisila, just as he was about to descend to
the cabin, addressing Malama and her friend, told them not to be
frightened--there was no one on the ship who would seek to do them
harm.

"Nay," answered Malama, with a smile, "we are not now afraid; but
yet did I desire to stay a little while on the lower deck among the
auva'a (the common sailors), and then would I have liked thee,
Kolli (Collis), to ask some of them to sell me some clothes for my
husband.  See," and she pointed to a bundle that lay upon the deck,
"behold this roll of fine mats and new tappa cloth.  These have I
brought to exchange with the sailors for some of their clothing, so
that my husband, who hath none, can sometimes dress himself as
becomes a white man."

The eager, earnest manner in which the young woman spoke and her
engaging and modest appearance at once attracted Captain Wilkes,
who, with some of the officers of the Vincennes, was standing near,
and he asked Collis pleasantly what it was that she wanted.

Collis, a good-natured but careless and thoughtless man, laughed as
he answered--

"She wants to barter some native mats, sir, for clothes for her
husband, who is a white man."

"Indeed; where is he; is he on board?"

"No, sir.  He's like a good many of us here--he's got no clothes.
He lives with this chief Tuisila, and this girl, who is Tuisila's
half-sister, tells me that her husband and another white man are
ashore here at a village quite close to.  They are waiting there
till these young women come back and bring them some clothes, I
expect."

"Ha," said Captain Wilkes, quickly, "are these two of the men that
Malietoa tells me are allies of his enemies?"

"Yes, sir; old Mayne and Trenchard are both fighting for the
Lafanga people."

"I understand.  Now, Collis, I would like to see these men, and
mean to see them.  Tell the young woman that I will give her some
clothing to take ashore to her husband.  Mr. Wallis, pass the word
for my steward to come to me, and then will you please get ready to
go ashore with these young women.  They will take you to a village
where two white men are staying.  Give these men the clothes that
my steward will give you, and then bring them back with you to the
ship.  They may not want to come; but if they object, bring them by
force.  One, I am told, is an Englishman, the other an American.  I
wish to see them both, and especially the latter, as I have no
doubt he is a man of whom I have a written description.  But, any
way, they are a pair of scoundrels, so don't be too delicate with
them.  I shall endeavour to keep the chief here till you return."

                          * * * * *

Trenchard and Mayne, after walking about a mile, reached the
village where the friends of the latter's wife lived.  They had
been made very welcome in true Samoan fashion, and, after spending
an hour or two with the natives, set out on their return, for they
were feeling somewhat anxious at the length of time that Tuisila
had been absent.  Malietoa was recognised by naval officers as
king, and it was not very unlikely that Tuisila had been delayed by
some action of the commander of the war-ship who was anxious to
restore peace between the king and the chiefs who contested his
sway.

Night had fallen by the time they returned, and as they drew near
the little village they heard the sound of Malama's voice calling
for her husband.  She was about two hundred yards away from the
house, standing in the path, and the moment she heard her husband's
voice she gave a glad cry and came towards him.

"Billee," she said, "the white chief of the ship hath sent thee
some clothes.  Come, see, they are here in the house.  And there
have come with us an alii (officer) and six men to bring thee and
Dikki to the captain of the fighting ship; he desireth to talk with
thee both."

"Good God, Dick!" and the young man clutched his comrade by the
shoulder, "they know who I am."

For a moment or two he spoke hurriedly to the wondering Malama, who
saw that his whole form was quivering with excitement, and then he
turned to Mayne.

"You go on, Dick.  You have nothing to fear.  You are an
Englishman; they cannot harm you.  I will get back into the
mountains, and return home through the bush," and then, grasping
his comrade's hand, he turned to go.

"Bill," said Mayne, earnestly, "you're making a mistake.  They
doesn't know who you are--that I'm sure of.  They're all sitting
down there in front of the house talkin' and smokin'.  Come along
and face 'em."

"Yes, you might as well," exclaimed a strange voice, and an
officer, closely followed by two seamen, sprang upon and seized
him.

Then began a deadly struggle between the two half-naked
beachcombers and the officer and his men.  Old as he was, Mayne
possessed such strength and suppleness of body that he not only
succeeded in freeing himself, but soon stretched the officer out
senseless by a terrific blow.  Trenchard, too, fought with savage
desperation, and, although the men-of-warsmen had now drawn their
cutlasses, they could not use them on account of the darkness and
for fear of injuring each other.  Mayne, after knocking the officer
down, seized his pistol, and, springing to Trenchard's aid,
whispered, "Make for the beach."

Then, before the excited seamen could realise what had happened,
the naked figures of the two beachcombers vanished into the night,
but not so quickly but that Malama and Mayne's young daughter fled
with them.

The darkness rendered pursuit hopeless, and the officer, as soon as
he came to, ordered his crew into the boat and returned to the
ship.

An hour or so afterward Tuisila and his party, who had been
delayed, returned, and search was made for his white friends.  Half
a mile away they discovered a place on the beach from where a canoe
had been run down into the water.

"Ha!" said the chief, "it is well.  See, they have gotten away
safely, and are now returning home before us."

                          * * * * *

But Trenchard and Mayne were never seen in the village that nestled
under the shadow of Mount Tofua.  But long, long years afterwards,
when the chief Tuisila had become a middle-aged man and the infant
half-caste child of Malama had grown to be a woman, a ship one day
touched at a lonely little island called Motu-iti, a thousand miles
or more to the westward of Samoa.  As the captain of the ship
landed he was met on the beach by an old, grey-headed white man,
whose bronze-hued skin told of a lifetime spent in the South Seas.
With feeble steps he conducted the captain to his house, and
offered him such hospitality as lay within his means, but his
tongue could scarcely frame the forgotten English words that came
to his lips.

The seaman looked at him curiously, and then in an off-hand manner
asked him if he was the only white man on the island.

"Yes," he answered, "I am the only white man on the island. . . .
Twenty-one years ago I came here.  I drifted here. . . .  I had a
companion with me, but he died . . . seven years ago."

He bent his head upon his chest awhile.  "And Malama died long
before that.  The hardships, sir, oh, God! the awful hardships of
that long, long time upon the sea--poor girl, poor girl--" and then
he ceased to speak.

For some little time he remained silent, and then, rising from his
seat, extended his hand to his visitor, and in tremulous tones bade
him farewell.




COLLIER: "THE BLACKBIRDER"

A Tale of the South Pacific Labour Trade


The trading brig Airola, belonging to Sydney, dropped her anchor at
noon in Papiete Harbour, at Tahiti, after a smart run up from
Fakarava, in the Paumotu Group.  The skipper had then immediately
gone ashore to report, and owing to various causes--the principal
of which was his careless and indiscriminate manner of mixing his
drinks--had not yet returned, although the lights had begun to
glimmer from the shore.  The second mate and Allan, the half-caste
boatswain, professing an ardent anxiety for their superior
officer's welfare, had been allowed to go in search of him, with a
parting warning from the mate that if they were found drunk in the
streets after gunfire, the "Johnny darms" would run them in till
the British Consul took them out again.  And so, just before eight
bells struck, Jack Collier, the first mate, and Denison, the
supercargo, found themselves the only persons in the after part of
the ship, the mulatto steward having gone for'ard to pursue his
nightly pastime of swindling the copper-coloured Polynesian crew
out of sundry pounds of tobacco by means of the cheerful game of
poker.  Then Collier, speaking in his usual quiet tones, said to
Denison, as they sat down on the skylight to smoke--

"I am rather glad the captain isn't likely to turn up a while, as
I'm expecting a visitor, and I want you to see him--he's likely to
be my father-in-law.  If all goes well, and the brig isn't collared
by the Frenchmen for trading in the Paumotus without a license, or
some other such charge, I mean to leave next voyage, and settle
down in Vavitao, in the Austral Group.  For'ard there! strike eight
bells!"

                          * * * * *

The sound of the bell had scarce died away when the tweep, tweep!
of a canoe paddle was heard, and then the little craft ran
alongside, and an old man and two girls stepped quietly on deck.

Collier, from the gangway, greeted them in Tahitian, and then the
three figures followed him below.  As they came in under the full
light of the cabin lamp, Denison saw that the man was a native,
old, but erect and muscular, and with the keen, hawk-like features
peculiar to many of the people of Eastern Polynesia.  The girls
were both young, with pure, olive-tinted skins, and big, dreamy
eyes.  The old man, straw hat in hand, motioned them to a lounge
that ran along the transoms, where they seated themselves demurely,
and then turning silently to Collier, almost sprang at him, and
with a soft, pleased laugh, embraced him again and again.  Then the
girls greeted him in low, almost whispered tones.

                          * * * * *

But after their first shyness had worn off at the presence of a
stranger, they too, came to the cabin table, and the five people
all sat and laughed and made merry over the few bottles of wine
that were the last shots in the brig's lockers, the girls
sweetening theirs with sugar, and smiling at Denison's laboured
attempts to follow them in their soft Tahitian tongue.

Melanie--so was Collier's flame called--was the older; and as
Denison looked into her dark, melting eyes, glowing with excitement
at her lover's return, he inwardly called his shipmate a lucky
fellow, and thought this dark-faced daughter of the blue Pacific to
be the most witching little creature he had ever seen in all his
ocean wanderings.

                          * * * * *

They are all gone now, all but Denison.  Gone is the tall, erect
figure of old Marama, with the sinewy, muscular frame, and keen,
eager face.  Gone the honest smile and deep tones of Collier; and
gone, too, the soft voice and dreamy, love-lit eyes of Melanie and
her sister.  And to all of them the end came suddenly, when--a year
after that night they spent in the cabin of the old brig--Collier's
schooner, the Leonie, turned turtle in a squall off Vavitao, and
went to the bottom with every soul on board.

                          * * * * *

After the old man and girls had gone ashore again, Collier told his
story to Denison, who then wondered no longer at the strong
affection existing between the wandering, taciturn seaman and the
old Aitutaki native, and why Collier had given his rough affection
to his daughter, and intended to marry her, "straight, fair, and
square in ship-shape fashion."  And this was the story he told.

                          * * * * *

"Seven years ago I was dead broke in Sydney.  I had come out second
mate in one of Green's ships.  We were over three months in port
waiting to fill up with wool, and one day I got too much liquor
aboard, and the skipper, a drunken, hasty-tempered bully, used
words to me that sobered me in two minutes.  The skippers of the
Ascalon and Woolloomooloo, two ships lying near ours, were looking
on, and I turned away to go below, when my captain called me a
'soldier.'

"Then, before I knew what I had done, I knocked out two of his
teeth and stove in a rib--and got put in gaol for three months.
When I came out I had nine shillings in my pocket and a heart
bursting with shame.  I knew that as far as my prospects in the old
company went I was a ruined man.  But I was only twenty-two, and
knew I could always get a berth on the coast; so I turned to and
spent my nine shillings--mostly in whisky.

                          * * * * *

"Three months afterwards I landed in Tahiti from the barque Ethan
Allen, from Sydney to 'Frisco.  We put in for repairs, and I took
the liberty of remaining on shore until the barque had left.  Most
of her foremast hands were dead-beat Sydney men, and as the skipper
knew I was about the only seaman on board except himself and his
officers, I was afraid he would have search made for me, but he
didn't.  He was too anxious to beat the barque James Hannell, also
from Sydney, that had sailed the same day.

"There was plenty doing in the blackbirding trade then (God's curse
rest on those who first started it in Polynesia, I say), and I soon
got a berth in a barque bound to the Gilbert Islands as first mate.
The skipper was a Frenchman.  Most of the others aft were of mixed
nationalities, and a ruffianly crowd they were, too; and the barque
was armed like a privateer of fifty years ago.  We were to bring
back labourers for Stewart's swell plantation at Atimaono, in
Tahiti.

                          * * * * *

"We sailed first for Aitutaki, in Cook's Group, to get some natives
for boats' crews; and when in about latitude 17 deg. 50 min. S. and
longitude 158 deg. W., we sighted a disabled vessel.  I boarded
her, and found her to be a native-owned schooner from Mangaia (one
of Cook's Group) to Aitutaki.  She had lost seven of her people
overboard by a heavy sea, which made a wreck of her, and the rest--
ten men and two female children--were almost dead from starvation.

"The two children were old Marama's daughters.  Marama himself we
had found lying on the deck with a broken arm.  The little girls
soon picked up, and their father and the rest of his people--
Aitutaki and Mauke natives--agreed to do the cruise in the barque
and work the boats--white sailors are no good for working boats
where there is much surf--and our captain was very pleased to get
them.  So we headed N.W. for the Gilberts, and in another two weeks
we had made Arorai Island and begun our work of getting in a cargo
of copper-coloured Line Islanders.

                          * * * * *

"Villacroix, our French skipper, was new to the trade, and had not
had time to become brutalised.  He gave Melanie and her little
sister a cabin to themselves, and told me to see to their welfare.
After Marama's arm had got all right again he was put into my
watch, and from that time began our friendship.  He was a good
sailorman, always had a willing heart for his work, and, if for
nothing else, thought much of me because I was an Englishman.

"Things went very well at first.  So far we had got thirty or forty
natives without using violent means to bring them on board; then
one day we made Peru, or Francis Island, one of the Gilbert Group.
Villacroix and the second mate went ashore and did the 'recruiting,'
and in two days we had nearly two hundred fierce, wild-eyed, black-
haired natives on board.

"Marama--who was in charge of one of the boats--told me on the
second evening that many of these people had been driven down to
the beach by the chiefs and forced into the three boats.  Those of
them that didn't hustle and get in quick were cut at and slashed
about with sharks' teeth swords and spears.  And when the boats
came alongside the barque I saw that they were splashed with blood
from stem to stem.

                          * * * * *

"At nightfall we had them all under hatches, and made sail on our
long beat back to Tahiti; and when I turned in that night I swore
to God that once I got out of that barque I would never ship in
such a bloody trade again.  All that night we made no headway, as
the wind had fallen light.  At eight bells in the morning the
skipper let a batch of fifty natives come up on deck to get
something to eat and wash their bruised and blood-stained bodies.
They seemed quiet and docile enough now, but none were hungry, and
all turned away from the food offered them.  Most of them crowded
together on the deck, talked in low tones, or looked blankly at one
another.  And the skipper--who, to do him justice, showed
compassion for their condition--let the whole lot up from below
during the day in batches of fifty.

"Night came, and again the breeze died away.  From aloft I could
see the glimmer of the natives' fires on the island beach, by which
I knew that the strong westerly current had set the ship very fast
towards the land.  The night was close and muggy, and on account of
this the captain did not send all the natives below as he would
otherwise have done, but allowed about a hundred of them to bring
up their sleeping-mats and lie on deck.

"When my watch below came, after seeing that the guard were all
posted with loaded rifles, some for'ard, some at the break of the
poop, and some on top of the deck house, I laid down in one of the
quarter boats and soon fell asleep, for I was tired out for want of
rest.  I had slept about an hour when I was awakened by loud cries
and groans and rifle shots, and looking over the side of the boat I
saw that the whole of the main deck was in possession of the
natives, and that the crew were being savagely slaughtered.

                          * * * * *

"As I jumped out of the boat, Marama and two of the native crew
rushed on deck from the cabin, all carrying Vetterli rifles, and,
standing at the break of the poop, they began firing into the blood-
maddened crowd on the main deck.  But it was too late to save any
of the watch on deck or those of the crew who had turned in.  The
captain, second mate, and third mate and carpenter were already
killed, as well as thirteen of the crew; and then the natives
attempted to carry the poop and finish those of us who were left.
Marama handed me a seaman's cutlass, and for a space of five
minutes or so we tried to beat them back, shooting, slashing, and
thrusting at them as they tried to ascend the poop ladders.
Presently the two native sailors ran out of cartridges, and made a
bolt down into the cabin.  Marama and I followed; but the boys had
shut the doors in their flight, and shot the bolts inside.  We just
had time to fling ourselves bodily through the open skylight into
the cabin and make it fast from below, when the blood-stained mob
got entire possession of the poop.

"We lay there awhile, utterly done up, beside the two native
sailors, one of whom had a great, gaping wound in his chest, from
which the blood poured and ran along the cabin floor.  His mate
seemed to be all right, and getting his courage up again, he went
to the captain's cabin and brought out more rifles and commenced to
load them.  Melanie and her sister then crept out of their cabin,
and at a few quick words from their father brought us water to
drink and then fled again to their retreat to be away from the
sound of the firing, the thick smoke, and the yells and groans of
the bloody pandemonium that followed.

                          * * * * *

"That was the first time in my life I had ever shed blood.  But we
were all mad by this time--mad with the scent of blood and the hot
lust of slaying.  The natives had taken about twenty cutlasses from
the sail-maker's room, and others, with axes, were hacking and
hewing at the skylight and companion doors to get at us.  And we
loaded and fired as quick as we could through the glass sides of
the skylight, until both sides of it were smashed, and all the
brass bars cut away with bullets.  And scarcely a bullet went
astray.

"At last they drew off and left us, and we got together in the
steward's pantry.  Marama pulled a wicker bottle of brandy out of a
locker and served us out a drink each; all except the boy with the
wound in his chest, who didn't want any kind of drink--his wound
had stopped bleeding and his heart beating.

"If I live to be a hundred, the horrors of that night will never
fade from my memory--only when I get drunk and try to drown them--
as I did do pretty often for a long time afterwards.

                          * * * * *

"They were now again all crowded together on the main deck.  Marama
had crawled up and opened the companion-door, listened, and then
looked out.  The land was not more than six miles distant, and some
of the natives had tried to alter the ship's course by hauling the
yards about, but had only succeeded in putting the ship in irons.

"Then Marama, drawing me aside, whispered something to me, and I,
God forgive me, consented to do what he proposed.

"In the lazarette were ten kegs of powder, belonging to the four
six-pounders the barque carried.  We lifted off the hatch under the
cabin-table, got up one of the kegs, and then hurriedly bored a
hole through the head and put in a very short fuse.

"Then, covered by the Aitutaki boy, who carried three loaded rifles
in readiness, in case we were blocked at the companion, we quietly
crept up and unshipped the door bolt.  In my hand I carried a
lighted piece of twisted rag; Marama had the keg.

"For a minute or so we listened anxiously, and then, throwing open
the door, we sprang out and gained the break of the poop on the
port side.  The moment we were seen there was a wild yell of rage,
and half a dozen shots were fired at us--they had evidently got
some cartridges from the pouches of the murdered crew, and knew how
to use them.  Then they made a rush, but quick as lightning the
Aitutaki sailor unshipped the heavy poop ladder and turned it over
on top of them; we had, during the first attack, hauled up and hove
the ladder on the starboard side overboard.  Before they could get
together for another rush I lit the fuse, and Marama, with blazing
eyes and a fierce oath, hurled the keg right among them, and we
rushed back towards the companion.

"But as we gained the door the shock came, and the crazy old bark
trembled from truck to keelson.  I did expect to see a bit of a
burst-up, but I never, as Heaven is my witness, thought that the
thing would cause such awful slaughter among the poor wretches, who
were so closely packed together that the explosion took full effect
on them.  There was a great hole torn in the deck; from the after-
coamings of the main hatch right up to the poop deck there was
nothing left but a wreck of timbers.

"And then, after that bursting roar had pealed over the quiet,
starlit ocean, there came silence, and then the moans of poor,
mutilated humanity.  All those who were not much injured sprang
overboard and made for the shore--six miles off; and I was told by
Frank Voliero, the trader who lived on Peru Island afterwards that
thirty-seven of them did get ashore safely, but twice as many
perished in the long swim from exhaustion--and the sharks."

                          * * * * *

Collier paced the deck awhile in silence, and then knocked the
ashes of his pipe out against the rail.

"Well, that's all, Denison.  As for us three men and the two girls,
we managed somehow to get the ship before the wind at daylight,
and then I let her run steadily to the westward for a couple of
days. . . .  I daresay you've heard of how we did eventually get her
back to Tahiti again.  I left her there, sick at heart, and as long
as I can go aloft with a slush-pot in an honest trading ship, I'll
never ship in another blackbirder.

"Two days after we had hauled up to try and make a south-east
course, I looked down through the shattered skylight and saw the
two girls kneeling on the cabin floor, clasping each other's hands.
They were crying.  I went below quietly to ask what was the matter.
The younger one raised her face and said--

"Nay, we are well.  But Melanie and I have been praying to God to
forgive my father and thee for the shedding of blood."




IN THE EVENING


The brave south-east trades had carried our schooner well down into
the straits dividing Upolu from misty, cloud-capped Savaii, and
then left us at sunset to drift about, hoping for the land breeze
to set in.  Two miles off, on our port hand, lay the little verdant
island of Manono, the gem of all Samoa, and the stronghold of
Mataafa.  From the schooner's deck we could see the evening fires
in the village of Saleaula sending out streaks and patches of
intermittent light through the palm-trunks upon the white sandy
beach, and revealing at intervals the huge, ill-built native church
of white coral in all its ghastliness.

I think the captain of our schooner was the prince of all island-
trading shippers.  No one had ever known him to be angry for more
than ten minutes, even under the most aggravating circumstances;
and on this particular evening, the fact that the wind dying away
probably meant the loss of a day to us, seemed to him the veriest
trifle.  Other captains would have sworn at the wind, at the calm,
at the crew, and, lastly, at the supercargo.

I was leaning over the rail looking shorewards, when the skipper
lounged up on deck, cigar in mouth, and joined me.  These were the
days of the troubles between Mataafa--the loyal lieutenant of his
exiled king--and the Germans.  Thrice had the valiant old warrior,
with his naked fighting-men, faced the deadly Mausers of the
Teuton, and thrice had they proved victorious.  Then came the great
gale of March, 1889, when, in one wild smother of surf and foam,
the six foreign warships in Apia harbour went down at their
anchors, and the Calliope alone escaped.

We were speaking of that awful day, and of the gallant manner in
which Mataafa and his warriors, dashing into the boiling surf, and
fierce, sweeping back-wash, had rescued many of the foes they so
bitterly hated--the German bluejackets of the Adler, the Olga, and
the Eber.

Presently Packenham said, in his slow, lazy way--

"Say, sonny, what do you say if we lower the boat and take a run
ashore, have a drink of kava and come off again?"

"And find the schooner drifted clean out of the straits and out of
sight."

"That's all right, my lad, don't you worry.  Here, one of you
fellows, pass that lead line aft."

Packenham sounded and got eighteen fathoms, and then, to the mate's
disgust, we dropped our anchor.  In a few minutes, with a crew of
four Savage Island boys, we had left the schooner for the white
beach of Saleaula, the principal village of Manono.  As we pulled
in the sound of the rowlocks brought a crowd of people to the
beach.  Among them we saw the gleam of many a rifle barrel, and our
crew began to get funky.  Now, although there were no Germans in
the boat, we took good care to keep bawling out in Samoan, "Don't
fire, good friends, we are English!"

Suddenly a huge blaze burst out.  A great pile of au lama (coconut
torches) had been lit, and by its light every one in the boat
became clearly visible.

A deep voice challenged us from the sea face of the olo (fort), "O
ai ea outou?" ("Who are you?") and then added, "Answer quickly."

We did answer quickly, and then came a loud chorus of welcome.  As
we pulled in the boat bumped heavily on a knob of coral.  Both
Packenham and myself were standing at the time.  I tried to save
myself by making a grab at the skipper's sleeve, missed, and went
overboard.

Yells and shrieks of laughter followed.  The manaia--the flash
young warriors--leaping down from the olo and from out their
various places of ambush, rifle and knife in hand, danced with
delight, and the soft, merry tones of the women's and girls'
laughter mingled with theirs as they looked at me wading ashore.

Now, I happened to know Manono and the Manono people pretty well,
although ten years had passed since I was last there.  Saying
nothing, and taking no notice of the continuous merriment, I went
in for a little by-play.

Said I, in as solemn and dignified tone as I could command, "Ye be
ill-mannered people here."

"Aue!" they cried.  "Who is this?  He speaketh our tongue."

"I am not a German," I said.

"Sorry am I, then," said a fat-faced, clean-shaved, young fellow
stepping up to me, and balancing in his hand a huge nifa oti (the
"death knife") used for decapitation.  "The soul of my knife
hungereth for the head of a German."

A young chief, whose name I had for the moment forgotten, but whose
face was familiar, gave the saucy fellow a cuff, and said, "Shame,
shame, fool!"

Here Packenham joined me.  "Talofa all you good people," said he in
very good Samoan; "and so you were going to fire into the boat?
And I am an American and my friend an Englishman.  Oh, shame!"

"Bah!" said a fat old woman, "Americans are good.  Steinberger, the
friend of Grant, was one, and he was a good man, and taught us how
to fight; but English--pah! they fear the Germans, and won't help
us to fight the pigs."

Applause and dissent.  Packingham looked meaningly at me.  I could
see that we were not likely to have an extra cordial welcome on the
strength of my being an Englishman, so I changed my tactics.

"Listen," I said; "I am a perofeta ma tagata poto (a wise man and
one who prophesies).  I can tell you of some things that you have
forgotten.  If I lie, then give us no kava to-night."

They all crowded round us; the men with wild, bushy heads, grasping
their rifles in their hands; the women, long-haired and bare-
bosomed, some with smiling faces, others dark and lowering.

Said I:  "There lived here in Manono once--this Manono, which all
the world knows is the place where the people get as fat as pigs by
eating foli" (shell-fish)--they laughed--"a missionary, not a white
missionary, but one of yourselves.  His name was Leutelu, that of
his wife Salomê, that of his daughter Elinê, that of his son
Taisami, that of the Englishman that dwelt with him--" I paused a
minute; the fat old woman put her face close and peered into mine,
then dropped the torch she was carrying and swooped down upon and
hugged me, and then they all recognised me, and I shook hands with
the men and rubbed noses with the women until I was fairly
exhausted.  Packenham came in for his share too.  He kissed all the
young girls--much to their anger--a Samoan girl looks upon kissing
with disgust.

However, we were all right now.  They carried us off to the
village, and brought us to the chief's house.  Mataafa was then
away at Apia, deep in politics, and we were not sorry; for the
girls promised us a dance after our kava.  Mataafa is a Catholic,
and somewhat rigid in his ideas, and did not permit the poula, or
native dance, in his lines.  We had no sooner seated ourselves in
the big house than a whole bundle of garments was placed before me--
shirts, coats, pyjamas, trousers, &c.  Among them were German and
American sailors' uniforms--sad mementoes of the Trenton, Vandalia,
and Nipsic, and the three German ships.

Taking a suit of pyjamas, I retired outside and changed my wet
clothing.  When I entered again the preparations for kava-making
had commenced.  Meantime Packenham had sent to the boat, and our
crew brought up half a dozen of beer and a bottle of brandy.  The
women made short work of the beer, and the chiefs each pledged us
in a stiff tot of brandy.

Beside Packenham there sat a very pretty girl called Maema.  She
flirted with him most outrageously.  The young lady who sat by my
side had the appropriate name of Manuia (Happiness), for she was as
bright as a fairy.  Ten years before she was a little thing of
eight, and used to bring me every Sunday morning in that very
village a roasted fowl and a basket of cooked taro from her father,
who was a particular crony of mine.  She was now a splendidly
formed young woman, with perfectly oval features and a wealth of
long silken hair.  Her father, she told me, was fighting then on
the side of Tamasese, the German puppet king and the usurper of
Malietoa's kingdom.  Yet her brother and her husband (she was now a
widow, at eighteen) were both killed fighting against the Germans
in their attack on Saluafata a month previously.  Such instances as
this were common enough in distracted Samoa, and showed the
fratricidal nature of the struggle.

Said I, in a whisper, "Manuia, would you marry again, a white man,
for instance, an American say," and then I added, "my friend in
particular?"

She nodded nonchalantly.  "Faatalia ia (if it please him), and my
people consent.  I would rather have an American--THEY ARE NOT
AFRAID OF THE GERMANS."

Then at the chiefs command Manuia, Maema, and five or six other
young girls, rose up and sat themselves down again beside the kava
bowl, and the utmost decorum and silence prevailed during the
important ceremony.  After the kava drinking was over the poula
commenced, and we were treated to some high-kicking, beside which
the fin-de-siècle ballet is but a hollow mockery.

We remained in the village till dawn, and the genial and hospitable
people treated us like long-lost brothers.  Our boat was loaded to
the gunwales with fruit and vegetables, and Packenham was the
recipient of innumerable fans, tortoise-shell rings, and native
combs.  My quondam acquaintance, the sweet-faced young widow with
the star-like eyes, embraced both Packenham and myself tenderly,
and candidly confessed her inability to decide whom she liked best.
She was a merry-hearted creature, and I honestly believe that
handsome Packenham had inspired her with false hopes.

As the boat pushed off the whole village gathered on the beach and
called out their farewells--"To fa oulua, to fa!  Manuia oulua i le
alofa lo tatou Atua!  (Farewell you two--farewell!  May you both be
happy in the love of God!)"




THE GREAT CRUSHING AT MOUNT SUGAR-BAG

A Queensland Mining Tale


"Let's sling it, boys.  There's no fun in our bullocking here day
after day and not making tucker!  I'm sick to death of the infernal
hole, and mean to get out of it."

"So am I, Ned.  I was sick of it a month ago," said Harry Durham,
filling his pipe and flinging himself down at full length upon his
luxurious couch--a corn-sack suspended between four posts driven
into the earthen floor of the hut.  "I'm ready to chuck it up to-
morrow and drive a mob of nanny-goats to the Palmer, like young
Preston did the other day."*


* In the early days of the rush to the Palmer River Goldfield nanny-
goats brought £2 10s. each.


"How much do we owe that old divil Ikey now?" said Rody Minogue,
the third man of the party, who sat at the open doorway looking out
upon the disreputable collection of bark humpies that constituted
the played-out mining township of Mount Sugar-bag.

"About £70 now," said Durham; "but against that he's got our five
horses.  The old beast means to shut down on us, I can see that
plainly enough.  When I went to him on Saturday for the tucker he
had a face on him as long as a child's coffin."

"Look here, boys," said Buller, the pessimist, "let the infernal
old vampire keep our three saddle-horses--they are worth more than
seventy quid--and be hanged to him.  We'll have the two pack-horses
left.  Let us sell one, and with the other to carry our swags,
we'll foot it to Cleveland Bay, or Bowen, I don't care which."

"An' what are we goin' to do whin we get there?" asked Rody.

Buller shrugged his shoulders.  "Dashed if I know, Rody; walk up
and down Bowen jetty and watch the steamers come in."

"And live on pack-horse meat," said Durham.

"Now, look here," and Rody got up from the doorway and sat upon the
rough table in the middle of the room, "I want you fellows to
listen to me.  First of all, tell me this:  Isn't it through me
entirely that we've managed to get tick from old Ikey Cohen at
all?"

"Right," said Durham; "no one but you, Rody, would have had courage
enough to make love to greasy-faced Mrs. Ikey."

"Don't be ungrateful.  Every time I've been to the place I've
sympathised with her hard lot in being tied to an uncongenial mate
like Ikey Cohen, and for every half a dozen times I've squeezed her
hand you fellows have to thank me for a sixpenny plug of sheep-wash
tobacco."

"By Heavens! how you must have suffered for that tin of baking-
powder that we got last week, and which didn't go down in the
bill!"

Rody laughed good-naturedly.

"Well, perhaps I did.  But never mind poking fun at me, I'm talking
seriously now.  Here we are, stone-broke, and divil a chance can I
see of our getting on to anything good at Sugar-bag.  We've got
about forty tons of stone at grass, haven't we?  What do you think
it'll go?"

"About fifteen pennyweights," said Durham.

"I say ten," said Buller.

"And I say it's going to be the biggest crushing on Sugar-bag since
the old days," said Rody.

"Rot!" said Durham.

"Now just you wait and listen to what I've got to say.  We've got
forty tons at grass now.  Now, we won't get a show to crush for
some weeks, because there's Tom Doyle's lot and then Patterson's to
go through first.  It's no use asking old Fryer to put our stuff
through before theirs.  Besides, we don't want him to."

"Don't we?  I think we want to get out of this God-forsaken hole as
quick as we can."

"So we do.  But getting our stuff through first won't help us away.
Reckon it up, my boys!  Forty tons, even if it goes an ounce, means
only about £140.  Out of that old Cohen gets £70--just half, that
would leave us £70; out of this we shall have to give Fryer £40 for
crushing.  That leaves us £30."

"That'll take us to Townsville or Cooktown, anyway," said Durham.

"Yes," said Rody, "if we get it.  But we won't.  That stone isn't
going to crush for more than ten pennyweights to the ton."

A dead silence followed.  Rody was the oldest and most experienced
miner of them all, and knew what he was talking about.  Then Buller
groaned.

"That means, then, that after we've paid Fryer £40 for his crushing
we'll have £30 for old Cohen and nothing for ourselves."

"That's it, Ned."

No one spoke for a moment, until Durham, who had good Scriptural
knowledge, began cursing King Pharaoh for not crossing the Red Sea
first in boats and blocking Moses and his crowd from landing on the
other side.

"Well, wait a minute," resumed Rody, "I haven't finished yet.  We
gave our mokes to old Cohen, didn't we, as a guarantee?  He said
he'd send them to Dotswood Station, because there was no feed here.
What do you think the old beast did?"

"Sold 'em," said Buller.

"No, he'd hardly be game to do that.  But instead of sending them
to Dotswood, he's got the two pack-horses running the mail coach
between the Broughton and Charters Towers, and the three saddle-
horses are getting their hides ridden off them carrying the mail
between Cleveland Bay (Townsville) and Bowen."

"The infernal old sweep!" said Durham, springing up from his bunk.
"Who told you this, Rody?  Greasy-face?"

"My informant, Mr. Durham, was Mrs. Isaac Cohen, or, as you so
vulgarly but truly call her, 'Greasy-face.'"

Presently, after taking due notice of his mates' wrathful visages,
Rody began again--

"So this is how the matter stands.  We three fellows, who are
working like thundering idiots to pay off old Ikey's store account,
are actually running a coach for him, and conveying her Majesty's
mails for him, and he gets the money!  Now, I don't want to do
anything wrong, but I'm hanged if I'm going to let him bilk us, and
if you two will do what I want we will get even with him.  But
you'll have to promise me to do just exactly what I tell you.  Are
you willing?"

"Right you are, Rody.  Go ahead."

"I'm not going into details just at present, but I can promise you
that we'll leave Sugar-bag in a month, or less, from to-night, with
£50 each.  And old Ikey is going to give it to us; and what is
more, he won't dare to ask us to give it back again."

"How are you going to do it?"

"You'll know when the proper time comes.  But from to-morrow
fortnight we don't raise a bit more stone from our duffing old
claim.  We're going to start on those big mullocky leaders in
Mason's and Crow's old shafts, and raise about ten tons before we
crush the stone.  We must have it ready at the battery as soon as
the stone is through.  Now, there you are again, making objections.
I know that it didn't go six pennyweights, but it's going to be
powerful rich this time."

                          * * * * *

Mr. Isaac Cohen was the sole business man at Mount Sugar-bag, and
although the majority of the miners working the claims on the field
were not doing well, Mr. Cohen was.  In addition to being the only
storekeeper and publican within a radius of fifty miles, he was
also the butcher, baker, and saddler, this last vocation having
been his original means of livelihood for many years in Sydney.  A
small investment, however, in some Northern Queensland mining
shares led him on the road to fortune, and although never entirely
forsaking his old trade, by steady industry and a rigid avoidance
of such luxuries as soap and a change of clothing, he gradually
accumulated enough money to add several other businesses to that of
saddlery.  He had arrived at Sugar-bag when that ephemeral township
was in the zenith of its glory, and now, although it was on the eve
of the days that lead to abandoned shafts and grass-grown, silent
crushing mills, wherein wandering goats camp on the water tables,
and death adders and carpet snakes crawl up the nozzle of the
bellows in the blacksmith's forge to hibernate, he still remained.
No doubt he would have left long before had it not been for the
fact that the remaining ninety or a hundred miners in the place
were all in his debt.  Then, besides this, he had bought a mob of
travelling cattle and stocked a block of country with them.  The
drover in charge, a fatuous young Scotchman, with large, watery-
blue eyes and red hair, had succumbed to Ikey's alleged whisky and
the news that there was no water ahead of him for another sixty
miles.  Ikey buried him decently (sending the bill home to the
young man's relations, including the cost of the liquor so freely
consumed on the mournful occasion) and took charge of the cattle,
at the same time writing to the owners and informing them that
their cattle were dying by hundreds, and advising them to place
them in the hands of an agent for sale.  And to show Mr. Cohen's
integrity, it may be mentioned that he named Mr. Andrew M'Tavish,
the local auctioneer, as a suitable person, but neglected to state
that Mr. M'Tavish had died in Bowen hospital a month previously,
and that Ikey Cohen had bought his business.  Consequently the
cattle went cheap, and Ikey bought them himself.  Thus by honest
industry he prospered, while every one else in Sugar-bag went to
the wall--i.e., the bar of Ikey Cohen's Royal Hotel.  And at the
bar they were always welcome, for even if--as sometimes did occur--
a disheartened, stone-broke customer drank too much of Mr. Cohen's
irregular whisky and died in his back yard, leaving a few shillings
recorded against his name on the bar-room slate, Ikey forgave the
corpse the debt and buried him (he was the Mount Sugar-bag
undertaker) for the trifling sum of £10--paid by sending round the
hat on the day of the funeral.  In due course Ikey was made a J.P.,
and then began to think of Parliament.

About two years after his arrival at Sugar-bag, Ikey had occasion
to visit Townsville on business, and on his return was accompanied
by his newly-wedded wife, a Brisbane-dressed lady of thirty or so.
Somewhat to his surprise, a number of the miners at Sugar-bag who
had, during their travels, visited the southern capitals, greeted
her as an old friend, and congratulated him on securing such an
excellent life-partner; and, as he had married the lady after only
a few days' acquaintance, he naturally enough accepted her
explanation of having presided over various bars in Melbourne and
Sydney, where she had met a great number of Queenslanders.  Of
course there were not wanting, even at Sugar-bag, evil-minded
beings to openly assert that Mr. Cohen's expression of surprise at
the wide circle of his wife's friends was all bunkum, and that
"Greasy-face," as the lady was nicknamed, was only another of his
cute financial investments.

If this was correct it certainly showed his sound judgment, for her
presence in the bar of the Royal proved highly lucrative to him;
and showed as well that he was above any feelings of unworthy
jealousy.  For although the title of "Greasy-face" was not
altogether an inappropriate one, the bride was by no means bad-
looking, and possessed to a very great degree that peculiar charm
of manner and freedom from stiff conventionality so noticeable
among the fair sex on new rushes to goldfields.  Perhaps, however,
Mr. Cohen did think that her preference for Rody Minogue was a
little too openly shown to the neglect of his other customers and
her admirers; but, being a business man, and devoid of sentiment,
he said nothing, but charged Rody and his mates stiffer prices for
the rations he sold them, and was quite satisfied.

                          * * * * *

On the morning after the three mates had discussed their precarious
condition, Rody, instead of going up to the claim with Durham and
Buller, remained in camp to write a letter.  It was addressed to
"Mr. James Kettle, c/o Postmaster, Adelong, N.S. Wales," and
contained an earnest request, for old friendship's sake, to send
Mr. Harry Durham a telegram, as per copy enclosed, as quickly as
possible.

Then, lighting his pipe, Rody left the hut, and walked up towards
the Royal.  When about half-way he sat down on a log and waited for
the mailman, who he knew would be passing along presently on his
way down to Cleveland Bay.  He had intended to go up to Cohen's the
previous evening and write and post his letters there, but Ikey
being the postmaster, and Rody a particularly cute individual, the
latter changed his mind.  The mailman usually slept at Cohen's on
his way down to the Bay, and being a good-natured and convivial
soul, and a fellow-countryman of Rody, the two were on very good
terms.

Presently Rody saw him ride out of Cohen's yards, leading a pack-
horse, and turn down the track which led past the place where he
was waiting.

"How are you, Dick?" said Rody; "pull up a minute, will you?  I've
got a letter here I want you to post for me in Townville.  It's not
good enough leaving a letter in old Ikey's over night."

"Right," said the mailman, taking the letter; "want anything else
done, Rody?"

"Yes; would you mind bringing me out as much lead as you can carry
when you come back, 40 or 50 lb.  Don't bring it to the humpy; just
dump it down here behind this log, where I can get it.  I'll pay
you for it in a week or two; and buy me a horse-shoer's rasp as
well."

"O.K., old man.  I can get it easily enough, and drop it here for
you when I come back on Thursday.  So long;" and Dick the mailman
jogged off.

                          * * * * *

Ten minutes later Rody sauntered up to Mr. Ikey Cohen's store.
Mrs. Isaac was there, opening a box of mixed groceries.

"Hallo, Rody! how are you?  Here, quick; stick this in your shirt
before the little beast comes in;" and "Greasy-face" pushed a
bottle of pickles into his hand, just as Ikey entered--in time to
see the pickles.

"Not at work this morning, Mr. Minogue?"

"No; I've come up to have a bit of a chat with you.  How much are
the pickles, Mrs. Cohen?"

"Two shillings, Mr. Minogue," she answered, with a world of sorrow
expressed in the quick glance she gave him, knowing that Ikey had
detected her.

"How vas the claim shaping?" asked Ikey, presently.

Rody shook his head.  "Just the same.  We don't like the look of
the stone at all.  Of course the gold is as fine as flour, and you
can't tell what it's going to turn out till you get it under the
stampers.  We are thinking of raising some of that mullocky stuff
out of Mason's and Crow's old claims.  We got some good prospects
lately."

"Vell, you'd better do somedings pretty qvick.  I can't go on
subblying you and your mates vid rations for noding," said Mr.
Cohen, with an unpleasant look on his face.  He was not in a
pleasant temper, for he disliked Rody and his mates--the former in
particular--and would have shut down on them long before only for
the fact that all three men were such favourites on the field that
an action like this would have meant a big hole in his bar profits.

"That's true enough," said Rody, with apparent humility, but with a
look in his eye that had Ikey noticed it would have made him step
back out of his reach, "and I've come to have a talk with you on
the matter.  Will you mind just showing us how we stand?"

"Here you are; here's your ackound up to the tay pefore yestertay--
the last of the month," and the storekeeper handed him the bill.

Rody looked at it--£70 10s. 6d.

"You charge us pretty stiff, Mr. Cohen, for some of the tucker and
powder and fuse."

"Vell, ven you can't bay gash!" and the little man humped his
shoulders and spread his ten dirty fingers wide out.

Rody continued to scrutinise the items on the bill.  "We're paying
pretty stiff for keeping those mokes at Dotswood--eight quid is a
lot of money when we get no use out of 'em."

"Vy, you vas full of grumbles.  Vat haf you to comblain of?  Thirty-
two veeks' grass and vater for five horses at a shilling a veek
each.  My friend, if dose horses had not gone to Dotswood dey would
haf died here."

"All right," said Rody, putting the bill in his pocket and turning
to go, "as soon as Doyle and Patterson's stuff goes through, our
crushing follows.  They start to-day."

"Vell, I hopes ve do some good," snorted Cohen, as he sat down to
his accounts.

                          * * * * *

"What the blazes is that for?" said Buller, as late on Thursday
night Rody came into the hut and dumped a small but extremely heavy
parcel, tied up in a piece of bagging, down on the table.

Rody cut the string that tied it, and the mates saw that it
contained a compact roll of sheet lead and a farrier's rasp.

"Never you mind; I know what I'm doing.  Now, boys, we're got to
slog into that mullocky stuff at Mason's all next week, and look
jolly mysterious if any of the chaps tell us we're only bullocking
for nothing."

A light began to dawn on Durham as he looked at the rasp and lead;
a few days before he had seen Rody bringing home an old worn-out
blacksmith's vice that he had picked up somewhere, and stow it
under his bunk.

Taking up the articles again, Rody stowed them away, and then drew
a letter out of his pocket.

"Read that," he said.

Durham took it up and read aloud--


                                 "DOTSWOOD STATION, BURDEKIN RIVER,
                                                     "June 7, 188-.

"DEAR SIR--In reply to your note, I beg to state that no horses
with the brands described by you have ever been received on this
station from Mr. Isaac Cohen, nor any other person.

                                                        "Yours, &c,
                                                  "WALTER D. JOYCE,
                                                          "Manager.
"MR. RODY MINOGUE,
"Sugar-bag."


"The thundering old sweep!  Why, we could jail him for this," said
Durham.  "Are you quite sure about his using them ever since he
took delivery of them?"

"Quite; I can bring a dozen people to prove that the two pack-
horses have been running in the Charters Towers coach for the past
six months, and the three saddle-horses have been carrying the
Bowen mail from Townsville for five months."

Durham thumped his fist on the table.  "I wish we could get him to
tell us before a witness that the horses were at Dotswood."

"We needn't bother; this is better," and Rody, taking out Cohen's
account, read--

"To 32 weeks' agistment for 5 horses at Dotswood Station, at 1s.
per week--£8."

"That's lovely, Rody.  We've got him now."

                          * * * * *

For the next week or so the three mates worked hard at Mason's and
Crow's old shafts, to the wonder of the rest of the diggers at
Sugar-bag.  And they would have been still more surprised had they
gone one Sunday into a thick scrub about a mile from the camp, and
seen Rody Minogue fix an old vice on a stump, and spreading a bag
beneath it, produce a rasp, and begin to vigorously file a thick
roll of lead into fine shavings, that fell like a shower of silver
spray upon the bag beneath.

Rody spent the best part of the day in the scrub.  He had brought
his dinner, and enjoyed his laborious task.  As soon as it was
finished he carefully poured the bright filings into a canvas bag,
and threw the vice and rasp far into the scrub.  Then, just at
dusk, he carried the heavy bag home unobserved.

That night, as they turned in, he said to his mates--

"We must all be up at old Ikey's to-morrow night, boys, to see the
mailman come in.  I think we are pretty sure to get Jim Kettle's
wire to-night.  I asked him to send it at once."

It may be mentioned here that although there was no telegraph
station at Sugar-bag, there was at Big Boulder, a small but
thriving mining township five miles away, and telegrams sent to any
one at Sugar-bag were sent on by the postmaster at Big Boulder by
Dick the mailman.

                          * * * * *

"Here's Dick the mailman coming!" and the crowd of diggers that sat
in Ikey Cohen's bar lounged outside to see him dismount.

In a few minutes he came inside, and first handing the small bag
that contained the Sugar-bag mail to Mr. Cohen, who at once, by
virtue of his office, proceeded to open it and sort out the few
letters, he went to the bar at Buller's invitation for a drink.

"How are you, boys?  How goes it, Rody?  I'll take a rum, please
Missis.  How's the claim shapin', Durham?"

"Here's a delegram for you," said Ikey, handing the missive to
Durham, and wishing that he could have kept it back till the
morning, so as to have made himself acquainted with its contents.

"Thank you," said Durham.  "I wonder who it's from?"

"No bad news, Harry, is there?" said Mrs. Ikey, sympathetically;
"you look very serious."

"Oh, no; it's from Jimmy Kettle; he and I and Tom Gurner--who went
to South Africa--used to be mates on the Etheridge;" and without
further explanation he walked away, accompanied by Rody and Buller.

                          * * * * *

Early next morning, as Mr. Cohen opened his store and pub, Durham
walked in.

"Look here, Cohen, I want to sell out and get away.  Will you give
me something for my horse, and ten pounds for my share in the
crushing?  Rody can't do it, of course; neither can Buller."

"No, I von't," said Mr. Cohen; "I ain't going to throw away any
more money.  Vere do you want to go to?"

Durham, with a gloomy face, handed him the telegram he had
received.  It ran as follows:--


                                       "From JAMES KETTLE, Adelong.

                                  "To HENRY DURHAM, Sugar-bag, N.Z.

"Tom Gurner returned.  Has done well.  Wants you and me to go back
South Africa with him.  Will stand the racket for passage money.
Steamer leaves Sydney in four weeks.  Hurry up and join us."


"Can't you give me a lift at all?" said Durham, after Cohen had
read the telegram.

"No, I can't."

"Then blarst you, don't!  I'll foot it to Townsville, you infernal
old skunk."

Sure enough that day he did leave, but not on foot, for some one
lent him a horse, to be returned by the mailman.  Rody accompanied
him part of the way and gave him some final instructions.

                          * * * * *

On the day that Durham reached Townsville Rody and Buller began
crushing their stone at the mill.  The forty tons of stone were to
go through first, and were to be followed by the stuff from Mason's
and Crow's old claims, which had been carted down to the mill.  As
Rody surmised, the stone showed for about ten pennyweights, and the
second day, about dusk, they "cleaned up," squeezed the amalgam
into balls, and placed it in an enamelled dish, ready for
retorting.

"Four of these will do us," said Rody, taking out that number of
balls of amalgam, pressing them into a flat shape, and thrusting
them into his trousers pockets; "here's that old swine Ikey coming
now to see if we are robbing him."

"Vell, how does she look?" inquired Cohen.

Rody, with a face of gloom, pointed to the amalgam in the dish.
"It'll go about ten pennyweights," he said, "but we're going to
start on that other stuff to-morrow.  It's patchy, but I believe
there's more in it than there was in the quartz."

"Vell, vat are you going to do with this amalgam?  Von't you redord
(retort) it now?"

"No," answered Rody, "it's not worth while having two retortings.
Take it away with you--you have the best right to it--and lock it
up.  Then, as soon as we have put this mullocky stuff through, we
will retort the lot together.  It won't take long running that
stuff through the battery--it's soft as butter."

Then, after carefully weighing the amalgam, Rody handed it over to
Mr. Cohen for safe keeping, and he and Buller went up to their
humpy for the night.  But before they bade Mr. Cohen good-night,
Rody wrote out a few words on a slip of paper, and handed it to
Ikey, with a two-shilling piece.

"Send that along to Big Boulder by any one passing, will you?  I
told Durham I'd send him a wire.  He won't leave Townsville until
to-morrow.  The steamer goes at four in the afternoon to-morrow."

When Mr. Cohen got home he read Rody's message, which was brief,
but explicit--

"Crushing going badly; not ten weights.  Mullock may go as much or
more."

                          * * * * *

At eight o'clock next morning Rody and Buller were ready to feed
their second lot of stone into the boxes.  At Rody's suggestion the
mill manager, who was also the engine driver (and who employed but
two Chinamen to feed and empty the sludge pits in connection with
the wretched old machine), put on very old coarse screens; and
whilst he was engaged in doing this, Rody stowed a certain small
but heavy canvas bag in a conveniently accessible spot near the
battery boxes.

As soon as the screens were fixed, old Joe Fryer came round and
started the engine, whilst Rody "fed" and Buller attended to the
tables and blankets.

"We'll feed her, Fryer," said Rody.  "These Chinkies are right
enough with hard stone, but they're no good with mucky stuff like
this.  They'd have the boxes choked in no time."

Fryer was quite agreeable, and as soon as he turned away to attend
to the furnace Rody seized the canvas bag and poured about a quart
of the lead filings into the box.  At the same time, Buller came
round from the tables with a cupful of quicksilver, and poured that
in.  This was done at frequent intervals.

In a quarter of an hour Buller came round to Rody and said, in
Fryer's hearing, that the amalgam was showing pretty thick on the
plates.

Fryer went to look at it, naturally feeling pleased at such good
news.  In a minute he was back again, and seizing Rody by the hand,
his dirty old face beaming with excitement.

"By Jingo!  You fellows have struck it this time.  I haven't seen
anything like it since the time Billy Mason and George Boys put ten
loads of stuff like this through and got four hundred ounces.  And
look here, this stuff of yours is going to be as good."

"Well, look here, Fryer," said Rody, modestly, "I may as well tell
you that I somehow thought it was pretty right.  And I believe
we've just dropped on such another patch as Mason and Boys did in
'72."

Buller by this time was apparently as much excited as old Fryer,
and was now sweeping the amalgam off the plates with a rubber, like
a street scraper sweeps up mud--in great stiff ridges--and dropping
it into an enamelled bucket.  And every time that Fryer was out of
sight shoving a log of wood into the furnace, Rody would pour
another quart of lead filings in the feed-box, and Buller would
follow with a pint of quicksilver.

"Lucky we got him to put on those old worn screens," muttered Rody
to Buller, "the cursed stuff is beginning to clog the boxes as it
is."

At last, there being no more lead left and but little quicksilver,
the stampers worked with more freedom, and in another hour Rody
flung down his shovel--the final shovelful of mullock had gone into
the box.

"I'll help you clean up as soon as I draw my fire," said old Fryer.
"By thunder, boys, what'll the chaps say when they see this?  What
about old Sugar-bag being played out, eh?"

Fortunately for Rody and his partner the mill was a good two miles
away from the main camp, there being no nearer water available, and
no one had troubled to come down to see how the crushing was going,
except one Micky Foran, who had carted their stone down from the
claim.  But when Micky saw Fryer and Rody go round to the back of
the boxes, lift the apron, and take off the screens, he gave a yell
that could have been heard a mile:

"Holy Saints, it looks like a grotto filled wid silver!"

And so it did, for the whole of the sides of the box, the stampers,
and dies were covered with a coating of amalgam some inches thick
and as hard as cement.

In five minutes Micky was galloping up to the camp with the
glorious news of Sugar-bag's resurrection, leaving Fryer, Buller
and Rody hard at work digging out the amalgam with cold chisels and
butcher knives.

By the time the boxes had been cleaned, and the quicksilver--or
rather amalgam--scooped up from the wells, and the whole lot placed
in various dishes and buckets, the excited population of Sugar-bag
began to appear upon the scene.  Among them was Mr. Cohen, who
advanced to Rody with a smile.

"Vell, my boy, you've struck id and no misdake.  I knew you vas a
good--"

"Oh, to blazes out o' this!" said Mr. Minogue, roughly.  "I don't
want any of your dashed blarney.  Ten days ago you wouldn't give
poor Harry Durham a fiver to take him to the bay, and here you come
crawling round me, now that our luck has changed.  Go to the devil
with you!  I can pay you your dirty seventy quid now and be hanged
to you!"

And with this he pushed his way over to where Fryer and Buller
were, keeping guard over the white gleaming masses of precious
amalgam.

"Going to retort it now, Rody?" said a digger.

"No; we can't.  There isn't a retort big enough to hold a quarter
of the hard stuff, let alone the quicksilver, which is as lumpy as
porridge, as you can see," and he lifted some in the palm of his
hand out of a bucket.  We'll have to send over to Big Boulder for
Jones' two big retorts."

"Boys," said a digger, solemnly, "so help me, I believe there's a
thousand ounces of gold going to come out of that there amalgam.
What do you think, Rody?"

"About eight hundred," he answered, modestly; and Ikey Cohen
metaphorically smote his breast and wished he had lent Durham all
he asked for.

Placing the amalgam in the big box Fryer kept for the purpose, Rody
was about to lock it, when some one made a remark--just the very
remark he wanted to hear and be heard by Isaac Cohen, who was still
hanging about him.

"Sometimes there's a lot of silver in these mullocky leaders.  I
heard that at the Canton Reef, near Ravenswood, there was a
terrible lot of it."

"Oh, shut up!  What y'r gassin' about?  There ain't no silver about
this field, I bet," called out two or three miners in a chorus.

Rody's face fell.  "By jingo, boys, I don't know.  Perhaps Joe is
right.  I've seen Canton Reef gold, it's only worth about twenty-
five bob an ounce owing to the silver in it."

"Try a bit of amalgam on a shovel," suggested some one.

Rody lifted the cover of the box and took out a small enamelled cup
half full of hard amalgam--the contents of his trousers pockets
surreptitiously placed with the rest while cleaning up.

In a few minutes a fire was lit and a shovel with an ounce of
amalgam on it was held over the flame.  As the shovel grew red hot
and the quicksilver passed away in vapour there lay on the heated
iron about eight pennyweights of bright yellow, frosted gold.

"Right as rain!" was the unanimous opinion, and then every one went
away to get drunk at Cohen's pub in honour of the occasion.

                          * * * * *

"Vere are you going to, Mr. Minogue?" said Cohen, oilily, to Rody.

"To Big Boulder, to send another wire to Durham and tell him to
come back."

"My friend, you will be foolish.  Now you and me vill talk pizness.
I vant to buy Mr. Durham out.  If you vill help me to ged his
inderest in the crushing sheap I will call my ackound square and
give you--vell, I will give you £200 for yourself."

Rody appeared to hesitate.  At last he said, "Well, I'll do it.
I'll wire him that the stuff is going about two ounces, and that
you want to buy him out.  I'll tell him to take what you offer.
But at the same time I won't see him done too bad.  Give him £200
as well."

"No, I vill give him £150."

"All right.  I'll wire to him at once.  The steamer goes to-
morrow."

"And I rides in with you to Big Boulder and sends him a delegram,
too," said Ikey joyfully.

                          * * * * *

In another hour the two messages were in Harry Durham's hand.  He
read them and smiled.

"Rody's managed it all right."

At five in the afternoon Mr. Cohen received an answer--

"Will sell you my interest in the Claribel crushing, now going
through, for £150 if money is wired to Bank New South Wales before
noon to-morrow."

Mr. Cohen wired it, grinning to himself the while as he thought of
the rich mass of amalgam lying in Fryer's box.  Nothing much under
£350 would be his share, even after paying Rody £200, in addition
to Durham's £150.

                          * * * * *

There was a great attendance to see the retorts opened two days
afterwards, and Mr. Cohen went into a series of fits when the
opening of the largest cylinder revealed nothing but a black mass
of charred nastiness (the result of the lead filings), and the
other (which contained the amalgam from the first crushing) showed
only a little gold--less than twenty ounces.

Of course he wanted to do something desperate, but Rody took him
aside, and showing him certain documents concerning horses, said--

"Now, look here; you had better let things alone.  It's better for
you to lose £350 than go to gaol.  This crushing is a great
disappointment to me as well as you.  We've both been had badly
over it."

                          * * * * *

It was not many weeks before the three mates met again in Sydney,
Durham having wired them half of the £150 sent him by Ikey Cohen
before he left Townsville, not knowing that they had got £200 out
of Ikey themselves.  And about a year later Rody sent Mrs. Cohen a
letter enclosing the amount of old Fryer's bill for crushing, and
£80 from himself and mates for Ikey.  "Tell him, Polly, that he can
keep the horses for the £70 against us.  The money he sent to Harry
Durham--to swindle him out of that rich crushing, and what he gave
Buller and me--set us on our legs.  We have been doing very well at
the Thames here, in New Zealand, since we left Sugar-bag.  Of
course you can please yourself as to whether you give him the £80
or keep it yourself.  And if you send us a receipt signed by
yourself, it will do us just as well as his, and please in
particular your old friend, RODY MINOGUE."




THE SHADOWS OF THE DEAD


I


"It is bad to speak of the ghosts of the dead when their shadows
may be near," said Tulpé, the professed Christian, but pure,
unsophisticated heathen at heart; "no one but a fool--or a careless
white man such as thee, Tenisoni--would do that."

Denison laughed, but Kusis, the stalwart husband of black-browed
Tulpé, looked at him with grave reproval, and said in English, as
he struck his paddle into the water--

"Tulpé speak true, Mr. Denison.  This place is a bad place at night-
time, suppose you no make fire before you sleep.  Plenty men--white
men--been die here, and now us native people only come here when
plenty of us come together.  Then we not feel much afraid.  Oh,
yes, these two little island very bad places; long time ago many
white men die here in the night.  And sometimes, if any man come
here and sleep by himself, he hear the dead white men walk about
and cry out."

                          * * * * *

They--Denison, the supercargo of the Leonora, Kusis, the head man
of the village near by and Tulpé, his wife, and little Kinia, their
daughter--had been out fishing on the reef, but had met with but
scant success; for in the deep coral pools that lay between the
inner and outer reefs of the main island were hundreds of huge blue
and gold striped leather-jackets, which broke their hooks and bit
their lines.  So they had ceased awhile, that they might rest till
nightfall upon one of two little islets of palms, that like
floating gardens raised their verdured heights from the deep waters
of the slumbering lagoon.

Slowly they paddled over the glassy surface, and as the little
craft cut her way noiselessly through the water, the dying sun
turned the slopes of vivid green on Mont Buache to changing shades
on gold and purple light, and the dark blue of the water of the
reef-bound lagoon paled and shallowed and turned to bright
transparent green with a bottom of shining snow-white sand--over
which swift black shadows swept as startled fish fled seaward in
affright beneath the slender hull of the light canoe.  Then as the
last booming notes of the great grey-plumaged mountain-pigeons
echoed through the forest aisles, the sun touched the western sea-
rim in a flood of misty golden haze, and plunging their paddles
together in a last stroke they grounded upon the beach of a lovely
little bay, scarce a hundred feet in curve from point to point; and
whilst Kusis and Tulpé lit a fire to cook some fish for the white
man, Denison clambered to the summit of the island and looked
shoreward upon the purpling outline of the mainland a league away.

Half a mile distant he could see the sharp peaks of the grey-
thatched houses in Leassé village still standing out plainly in the
clear atmosphere, and from every house a slender streak of pale
blue smoke rose straight up skywards, for the land-breeze had not
yet risen, and the smoky haze of the rollers thundering westward
hung like a filmy mantle of white over long, long lines of curving
reef.  Far inland, the great southern spur of the mountain that the
Frenchman Duperrey had named Buache, had cloaked its sides in the
shadows of the night, though its summit yet blazed with the last
red shafts of gold from the sunken sun.  And over the tops of the
drooping palms of the little isle, Denison heard the low cries and
homeward flight of ocean-roving birds as they sped shoreward to
their rookeries among the dense mangrove shrubs behind Leassé.
Some pure white, red-footed boatswain birds, whose home was among
the foliage of the two islets, fluttered softly about as they sank
like flakes of falling snow among the branches of the palms and
breadfruit trees around him.  All day long had they hovered high in
air above the sweeping roll of the wide Pacific, and one by one
they were coming back to rest, and Denison could see their white
forms settling down on the drooping palm-branches, to rise with
flapping wing and sharp, fretful croak as some belated wanderer
fluttered noiselessly down and pushed his way to a perch amidst his
companions, to nestle together till the bright rays of sunlight lit
up the ocean blue once more.

At a little distance from the beach stood a tiny thatched roofed
house with sides open to welcome the cooling breath of the land-
breeze that, as the myriad stars came out, stole down from the
mountains to the islet trees and then rippled the waters of the
shining lagoon.

The house had been built by the people of Leassé, who used it as a
rest-house when engaged in fishing in the vicinity of the village.
Rolled up and placed over the cross-beams were a number of soft
mats, and as Denison returned Kusis took these down and placed them
upon the ground, which was covered with a thick layer of pebbles.
Throwing himself down on the mats, Denison filled his pipe and
smoked, while Tulpé and the child made an oven of heated stones to
cook the fish they had caught.  Kusis had already plucked some
young drinking coconuts, and Denison heard their heavy fall as he
threw them to the ground.  And only that Kusis had brave blood in
his veins, they had had nothing to drink that night, for no
Strong's Islander would ascend a coconut tree there after dark, for
devils, fiends, goblins, the ghosts of men long dead, and evil
spirits flitted to and fro amid the boscage of the islet once night
had fallen.  And even Kusis, despite the long years he had spent
among white men in his cruises in American whaleships in his
younger days, chid his wife and child sharply for not hastening to
him and carrying the nuts away as they fell.

Then, as Denison and Kusis waited for the oven to be opened, Tulpé
and Kinia came inside the hut and sat down beside them, and
listened to Kusis telling the white man of a deep, sandy-bottomed
pool, near to the islets, which, when the tide came in over the
reef at night-time, became filled with big fish, which preyed upon
the swarms of minnows that made the pool their home.

"'Tis there, Tenisoni, that we shall go when we have eaten," he
said, and he dropped his voice to a whisper, "and there shall we
tell thee the story of the dead white men."

So, when the fish was cooked, Tulpé and Kinia hurriedly took it
from the oven and carried it to the canoe, in which they all sat
and ate, and then pushing out into the lagoon again they paddled
slowly along in shallow water till Denison saw the white sandy
sides of a deep, dark pool glimmering under the starlight of the
island night.  Softly the girl Kinia lowered the stone anchor down
till it touched bottom two fathoms below, on the very edge; and
then payed out the kellick line whilst her father backed the canoe
out from the quickly shelving sides into the centre, where she lay
head-on to the gentle current.

For many hours they fished, and soon the canoe was half-filled with
great pink and pearly-hued groper and blue-backed, silver-sided sea
salmon, and then Denison, wearying of the sport, stretched himself
upon the outrigger and smoked whilst Tulpé told him of the tale of
the white men who had once lived and died on the little islets.

"'Twas long before the time that the two French fighting-ships came
here and anchored in this harbour of Leassé.  Other ships had come
to Kusaie,* and white men had come ashore at Lêla and spoken with
the king and chiefs, and made presents of friendship to them, and
been given turtle and hogs in return.  This was long before my
mother was married, and then this place of Leassé, which is now so
poor, and hath but so few people in it, was a great town, the
houses of which covered all the flat land between the two points of
the bay.  She, too, was named as I am--Tulpé--and came from a
family that lived under the strong arm of the king at Lêla, where
they had houses and many plantations.  In those days there were
three great chiefs on Kusaie, one at Lêla, from where my mother
came, one at Utwé, and one here at Leassé.  Peace had been between
them all for nearly two years, so, when the news came here that
there were two ships at anchor in the king's harbour, many of the
people of Leassé went thither in their canoes to see the strangers,
for these ships were the first the people had seen for, it may have
been, twenty years.  Among those that went from Leassé was a young
man named Kasi-lak--Kasi the big or strong, for he was the tallest
and strongest man on this side of the island, and a great wrestler.
There were in all nearly two hundred men and women went from
Leassé, and when they reached the narrow passage to Lêla, they saw
that the harbour was covered with canoes full of the people from
the great town there.  These clustered about the ships so thickly
that those that came from Leassé could not draw near enough to them
to look at the white men, so they rested on their paddles and
waited awhile.  Presently there came out upon a high part of the
ship a chief whose name was Malik.  He was the king's foster-
brother, and a great fighting-man, and was hated by the people of
Leassé for having ravaged all the low-lying country from the
mountains to the shore ten years before, slaying women and children
as well as men, and casting their bodies into the flames of their
burning houses.


* Strong's Island.


"But now, because of the peace that was between Leassé and Lêla, he
showed his white teeth in a smile of welcome, and, standing upon
the high stern part of the ship, he called out, 'Welcome, O
friends!' and bade them paddle their canoes to the shore, to the
great houses of the king, his brother, where they would be made
welcome, and where food would be prepared for them to eat.

"So, much as they desired to go on board the ships, they durst not
offend such a man as Malik, and paddled to the shore, where they
were met by the king's slaves, who drew their canoes high up on the
beach, and covered them with mats to protect them from the sun, and
then the king himself came to meet them with fair words and smiles
of friendship.

"'Welcome, O men of Leassé,' he said.  'See, my people have covered
thy canoes with mats from the sun, for now that there is no hate
between us, ye shall remain here at Lêla with me for many days.
And so that there shall be no more blood-letting between my people
and thine, shall I give every young man among ye that is yet
unmarried a wife from these people of mine.  Come, now, and eat and
drink.'

"So all the two hundred sat down in one of the king's houses, and
while they ate and drank there came boats from the ships, and the
white men, whom Malik led ashore, came into the house where they
sat, and spoke to them.  In those days there were but three or four
of the Kusaie men who understood English, and these Malik kept by
him, so that he could put words into their mouths when he desired
to speak to the white strangers.  These white men, so my mother
said, wore short, broad-bladed swords in sheaths made of thick
black skins, and pistols were thrust through belts of skin around
their waists.  Their hair, too, was dressed like that of the men of
Kusaie--it hung down in a short, thick roll, and was tied at the
end.*


* Several English and French privateers cruised through the
Caroline Islands between 1804 and 1819.  Fifteen men belonging to
one of them were cut off by the Strong's Islanders.


"Kasi, who was the father of this my husband, Kusis, sat a little
apart from the rest of the Leassé people.  Beside him was a young
girl named Nehi, his cousin.  She had never before left her home,
and the strange faces of the men of Lêla made her so frightened
that she clung to Kasi's arm in fear, and when the white men came
into the house she flung her arms around her cousin's neck and laid
her face against his naked chest.  Presently, as the white men
walked to and fro among the people, they stopped in front of Kasi
and Nehi, and one of them, who was the captain of the largest of
the two ships, desired Kasi to stand up so that he might see his
great stature the better.  So he stood up, and Nehi the girl, still
clinging to his arm, stood up with him.

"'He is a brave-looking man,' said the white officer to Malik.
'Such men as he are few and far between.  Only this man here,' and
he touched a young white man who stood beside him on the arm, 'is
his equal in strength and fine looks.'  And with that the young
white man, who was an officer of the smaller of the two ships,
laughed, and held out his hand to Kasi, and then his eyes, blue,
like the deep sea, fell upon the face of Nehi, whose dark ones
looked wonderingly into his.

"'Who is this girl?  Is she the big man's sister?' he asked of
Malik.  Then Malik told him, through the mouth of one of the three
Kusaie men, who spoke English, that the girl's name was Nehi, and
that with many of her people she had come from Leassé to see the
fighting-ships.

"By and by the white men with Malik went away to talk and eat, and
drank kava in the house of the king, his brother; but presently the
younger white man came back with Rijon, a native who spoke English,
and sat down beside Kasi and his cousin Nehi, and talked with them
for a long time.  And this he told them of himself.  That he was
the second chief of the little ship, that with but two masts; and
because of the long months they had spent upon the sea, and of the
bad blood between the common sailor men and the captain, he was
wearied of the ship, and desired to leave it.  Ten others were
there on his own ship of a like mind, and more than a score on the
larger ship, which had twenty-and-two great cannons on her deck.
And then he and Rijon and Kasi talked earnestly together, and Kasi
promised to aid him; and so that Rijon should not betray them to
Malik or the two captains, the young white man promised to give him
that night a musket and a pistol as an earnest of greater gifts,
when he and others with him had escaped from the ships, and were
under the roofs of the men of Leassé.  So then he pressed the hand
of Kasi, and again his eyes sought those of Nehi, the girl, as he
turned away.

"Then Rijon, who stayed, drew near to Kasi, and said--

"'What shall be mine if I tell thee of a plan that is in the mind
of a great man here to put thee and all those of Leassé with thee
to death?'

"'Who is the man?  Is it Malik?'

"'It is Malik.'

"'Then,' said Kasi, 'help me to escape from this trap, and thou
shalt be to me as mine own brother; of all that I possess half
shall be thine.'

"And then Rijon, who was a man who hated bloodshed, and thought it
hard and cruel that Malik should slay so many unarmed people who
came to him in peace-time, swore to help Kasi in his need.  And the
girl Nehi took his hand and kissed it, and wept.

"By and by, when Rijon had gone, there came into the big house
where the people of Leassé were assembled a young girl named Tulpé--
she who afterwards became my mother.  And coming over to where
Kasi and his cousin sat, she told them she brought a message from
the king.  That night, she said, there was to be a great feast, so
that the white men from the ships might see the dancing and
wrestling that were to follow; and the king had sent her to say
that he much desired the people from Leassé to join in the feasting
and dancing; and with the message he sent further gifts of baked
fish and turtle meat and many baskets of fruit.

"Kasi, though he knew well that the king and Malik, his brother,
meant to murder him and all his people, smiled at the girl, and
said, 'It is good; we shall come, and I shall wrestle with the best
man ye have here.'

"Then he struck the palm of his hand on the mat upon which he sat,
and said to the girl Tulpé, 'Sit thou here, and eat with us,' for
he was taken with her looks, and wanted speech with her.

"'Nay,' she said, with a smile, though her voice trembled
strangely, and her eyes filled with tears as she spoke.  'Why ask
me to sit with thee when thou hast so handsome a wife?'  And she
pointed to Nehi, whose hand lay upon her cousin's arm.

"''Tis but my sister Nehi, my father's brother's child,' he
answered.  'No wife have I, and none do I want but thee.  What is
thy name?'

"'I am Tulpé, the daughter of Malik.'

"Then Kasi was troubled in his mind; for now he hated Malik, but
yet was he determined to make Tulpé his wife, first because he
desired her for her soft voice and gentle ways, and then because
she might be a shield for the people of Leassé against her father's
vengeance.  So drawing her down beside him, he and Nehi made much
of her; and Tulpé's heart went out to him; for he was a man whose
deeds as a wrestler were known in every village on the island.  But
still as she tried to eat and drink and to smile at his words of
love, the tears fell one by one, and she became very silent and
sad; and presently, putting aside her food, she leant her face on
Nehi's shoulder and sobbed.

"'Why dost thou weep, little one?' said Kasi, tenderly.

"She made no answer awhile, but then turned her face to him.

"'Because, O Kasi the Wrestler, of an evil dream which came to me
in the night as I lay in my father's house.'

"'Tell me thy dream,' said Kasi.

"First looking around her to see that none but themselves could
hear her, she took his hand in hers, and whispered--

"'Aye, Kasi, I will tell thee.  This, then, was my dream:  I saw
the bodies of men and women and children, whose waists were girt
about with red and yellow girdles of oap, floating upon a pool of
blood.  Strange faces were they all to me in my dream, but now two
of them are not.  And it is for this I weep; for those two faces
were thine own and that of this girl by my side.'

"Then Kasi knew that she meant to warn him of her father's cruel
plot, for only the people of Leassé wore girdles of the bark of the
plant called oap.  So then he told her of that which Rijon had
spoken, and Tulpé wept again.

"'It is true,' she said, 'and I did but seek to warn thee, for no
dream came to me in the night; yet do I know that even now my
father is planning with his brother the king how that they may
slaughter thee all to-night when ye sleep after the dance.  What
can I do to help thee?'

"They talked together again, and planned what should be done; and
then Tulpé went quietly away lest Malik should grow suspicious of
her.  And Kasi went quickly about among his people telling them of
the treachery of Malik, and bade them do what he should bid them
when the time came.  And then Rijon went to and fro between Kasi
and the big white man, carrying messages and settling what was to
be done.

"When darkness came great fires were lit in the dance-house and the
town square, and the great feast began.  And the king and Malik
made much of Kasi and his people, and placed more food before them
than even was given to their own people.  Then when the feast was
finished the two ship captains came on shore, and sat on a mat
beside the king, and the women danced and the men wrestled.  And
Kasi, whose heart was bursting with rage though his lips smiled,
was praised by Malik and the king for his great strength and skill,
for he overcame all who stood up to wrestle with him.

"When the night was far gone, Kasi told Malik that he and his
people were weary, and asked that they might sleep.  And Malik, who
only waited till they slept, said, 'Go, and sleep in peace.'

"But as soon as Kasi and those with him were away out of sight from
the great swarm of people who still danced and wrestled in the open
square, they ran quickly to the beach where their canoes were
lying, and Kasi lit a torch and waved it thrice in the air towards
the black shadows of the two ships.  Then he waited.

"Suddenly on the ships there arose a great commotion and loud
cries, and in a little time there came the sound of boats rowing
quickly to the shore.  And then came a great flash of light from
the side of one of the ships and the thunder of a cannon's voice.

"'Quick,' cried Kasi; 'launch the canoes, lest we be slain here on
the beach!'  And ere the echoes of the cannon-shot had died away in
the mountain caves of Lêla, the men of Leassé had launched their
canoes and paddled swiftly out to meet the boats.

"As the boats and canoes drew near, Rijon stood up in the bows of
the foremost boat, and the white sailors ceased rowing so that he
and Kasi might talk.  But there was but little time, for already
the sound of the cannon and the cries and struggling on board the
ships had brought a great many of the Lêla people to the beach;
fires were lit, and conch shells were blown, and Malik and his men
began to fire their muskets at the escaping canoes.  Presently,
too, the white men in the boats began to handle their muskets and
fire back in return, when their leader bade them cease, telling
them that it was but Malik's men firing at Kasi's people.

"'Now,' said he to Rijon, 'tell this man Kasi to lead the way with
his canoes to the passage, and we in the boats shall follow
closely, so that if Malik's canoes pursue and overtake us, we white
men shall beat them back with our musket-fire.'

"So then Kasi turned his canoes seaward, and the boats followed;
and as they rowed and paddled, all keeping closely together, the
great cannons of the two ships flashed and thundered and the shot
roared above them in the darkness.  But yet was no one hurt, for
the night was very dark; and soon they reached the deep waters of
the passage, and rose and fell to the ocean swell, and still the
iron cannon-shot hummed about them, and now and again struck the
water near; and on the left-hand shore ran Malik's men with cries
of rage, and firing as they ran, till at last they came to the
point and could pursue no farther, and soon their cries grew
fainter and fainter as the canoes and boats reached the open ocean.
Then it happened that one of the white sailors, vexed that a last
bullet had whistled near his head, raised his musket and fired into
the dark shore whence it came.

"'Thou fool!' cried his leader, and he struck the man senseless
with the boat's tiller, and then told Rijon to call out to Kasi and
his people to pull to the left for their lives, for the flash of
the musket would be seen from the ships.  Ah, he was a clever white
man, for scarce had the canoes and boats turned to the left more
than fifty fathoms, when there came a burst of flame from all the
cannons on the ships, and a great storm of great iron shot and
small leaden bullets lashed the black water into white foam just
behind them.  After that the firing ceased, and Rijon called out
that there was no more danger; for the cunning white man had told
him that they could not be pursued--he had broken holes in all the
boats that remained on the ships.

"When daylight came, the boats and canoes were far down the coast
towards Leassé.  Then, as the sun rose from the sea, the men in the
boats ceased rowing, and the big white man stood up and beckoned to
Kasi to bring his canoe alongside.  And when the canoe lay beside
the boat, the white man laughed and held out his hand to Kasi and
asked for Nehi; and as Nehi rose from the bottom of Kasi's canoe,
where she had been sleeping, and stood up beside her cousin, so did
Tulpé, the daughter of Malik, stand up beside the white man in his
boat, and the two girls threw their arms around each other's necks
and wept glad tears.  Then as the canoes and boats hoisted their
sails to the wind of sunrise, the people saw that Tulpé sat beside
Kasi in his canoe, and Nehi, his cousin, sat beside the white man
in his boat, with her face covered with her hands so that no one
should see her eyes.

"As they sailed along the coast Tulpé told Kasi how she and Rijon
had gone on board the smaller of the two ships, and seen the tall
young white man whispering to some of the sailors.  Then, when they
saw the flash of Kasi's torch, how these sailors sprang upon the
others and bound them hand and foot while a boat was lowered, and
muskets and food and water put in.  Then she and Rijon and the
young white leader and some of the sailors got in, and Rijon stood
in the bows and guided them to the shore to where Kasi and his
people awaited them on the beach.


II


"For nearly three months these white men lived at Leassé, and the
father of Kasi, who was chief of the town, made much of them,
because they had muskets, and bullets, and powder in plenty, and
this made him strong against Malik and the people of Lêla.  The
ships had sailed away soon after the night of the dance, but the
two captains had given the king and Malik many muskets and much
powder, and a small cannon, and urged him to pursue and kill all
the white men who had deserted the ships.

"'By and by, I will kill them,' said Malik.

"The young white man took Nehi to wife, and was given a tract of
land near Leassé, and Kasi became husband to Tulpé, and there grew
a great friendship between the two men.  Then came warfare with
Lêla again, and of the twenty and two white men ten were killed in
a great fight at Utwé with Malik's people, who surprised them as
they were building a vessel, for some of them were already weary of
Kusaie, and wished to sail away to other lands.

"Soon those that were left began to quarrel among themselves and
kill each other, till only seven, beside the husband of Nehi, were
left.  These, who lived in a village at the south point, seldom
came to Leassé, for the big white man would have none of them, and
naught but bitter words had passed between them for many months,
for he hated their wild, dissolute ways, and their foul manners.
Then, too, they had learnt to make grog from coconut toddy, and
sometimes, when they were drunken with it, would stagger about from
house to house, musket or sword in hand, and frighten the women and
children.

"One day it came about that a girl named Luan, who was a blood
relation of Nehi, and wife to one of these white men, was walking
along a mountain-path, carrying her infant child, when her foot
slipped, and she and the infant fell a great distance.  When she
came to she found that the child had a great wound in its forehead,
and was cold and stiff in death.  She lifted it up, and when she
came to her husband's house she found him lying asleep, drunken
with toddy, and when she roused him with her grief he did but curse
her.

"Then Luan, with bitter scorn, pointed to the body of the babe and
said, 'Oh, thou wicked and drunken father, dost thou not see that
thy child is dead?'

"Then in his passion he seized his pistol and struck her on the
head, so that she was stunned and fell as if dead.

"That night the people of Leassé saw the seven white men, with
their wives and children, paddling over towards the two little
islands, carrying all their goods with them, for the people had
risen against them by reason of the cruelty of the husband of Luan,
and driven them away.

"So there they lived for many weeks, making grog from the coconut
trees, and drinking and fighting among themselves all day, and
sleeping the sleep of the drunken at night.  Their wives toiled for
them all day, fishing on the reef, and bringing them taro, yams,
and fruit from the mainland.  But Luan alone could not work, for
she grew weaker and weaker, and one day she died.  Then her white
husband went to the village from whence they were driven, and
seizing the wife of a young man, bore her away to the two islets.

"The next day he whose wife had been stolen came to the husband of
Nehi, and said, 'O white man, help me to get back my wife; help me
for the sake of Luan, whom this dog slew, and whose blood cries out
to thee for vengeance, for was she not a blood relation to Nehi,
thy wife?'

"But though the husband of Nehi shook his head and denied the man
the musket he asked for, he said naught when at night-time a
hundred men, carrying knives and clubs in their hands, gathered
together in the council-house, and talked of the evil lives of the
seven white men, and agreed that the time had come for them to die.

"So in silence they rose up from the mats in the council-house and
walked down to the beach, and launching their canoes, paddled
across to the islands under cover of the darkness.  It so happened
that one woman was awake, but all the rest with the white men and
their children slept.  This woman belonged to Leassé, and had come
to the beach to bathe, for the night was hot and windless.
Suddenly the canoes surrounded her, and, fearing danger to her
white husband, she sought to escape, but a strong hand caught her
by the hair, and a voice bade her be silent.

"Now, the man who held her by the hair was her own sister's
husband, and he desired to save her life, so he and two others
seized and bound her, and quickly tied a waist-girdle over her
mouth so that she could not cry out.  But she was strong, and
struggled so that the girdle slipped off, and she gave a loud cry.
And then her sister's husband, lest his chief might say he had
failed in his duty, and the white men escape, seized her throat in
his hands and pressed it so that she all but died.

"Then the avengers of the blood of Luan sprang out upon the beach,
and ran through the palm grove to where the white men's house
stood.  It was a big house, for they all lived together, and in the
middle of the floor a lamp of coconut oil burned, and showed where
the seven white men lay.

"And there as they slept were they speared and stabbed to death,
although their wives threw their arms around the slayers and
besought them to spare their husbands' lives.  And long before dawn
the canoes returned to Leassé with the wives and children of the
slain men, and only the big white man, the husband of Nehi, was
left alive out of the twenty and two who came from the ships at
Lêla.  So that is the story of the two islets, and of the evil men
who dwelt there."

                          * * * * *

Denison rose and stretched himself.  "And what of the big white man--
the husband of Nehi?" he asked; "doth his spirit, too, wander
about at night?"

"Nay," said Tulpé, "why should it?  There was no innocent blood
upon his hand.  Both he and Nehi lived and died among us; and to-
morrow it may be that Kinia shalt show thee the place whereon their
house stood in the far-back years.  And true are the words in the
Book of Life--'He that sheddeth blood, by man shall his blood be
shed.'"




"FOR WE WERE FRIENDS ALWAYS"


Langley, the white trader of Uhomotu,* came to his door and looked
seawards at the smoky haze which almost hid the ocean swell
sweeping westward from Beveridge Reef, three hundred miles away, to
crash against the grey coral cliffs that lined the weather side of
the island from Uhomotu to Liku.  In the village street, sweltering
even under the rows of coconut and breadfruit trees, not a sign of
life was visible.  For your true Polynesian dreads heat as much as
cold.


* A village on the northern shore of Savage Island, in the South
Pacific.


                          * * * * *

"What an infernal day, and what a horrible-looking coast!" muttered
the trader, as he looked at the line of dark grey rocks rising a
sheer hundred feet from the boiling surf at their base.  Now and
then a heavy roller would hurl itself against the wall of rock and
leap high in the air, drenching with spray the stunted, tangled
scrub that covered the jagged summits of the cliffs to their very
edge, and pouring down the face in a seething white avalanche of
humming foam.

The tide was falling, and here and there at the foot of the wall of
rock, the trader could see the protruding mounds and knobs of the
black reef of coral which, at low tide, formed a border of relief
to the lighter hue of the cliffs above it.  For twenty feet or so
the reef stood out, presenting a perpendicular weed-clad face to
the rolling Pacific.

                          * * * * *

The hot, depressing calm irritated the trader.  He was not a
drinking man, or he might have drunk till the land-breeze set in
and cooled the air.

"I'll shut up the store and camp under the teacher's orange-trees;
it's cool there.  Hallo! what do YOU want?"

A native boy was standing in the room, holding out a piece of
paper.  Langley took it from him.  It was written upon in the usual
sprawling manner of natives, and was a request to hand the bearer
the articles mentioned.

"In the name of the evil spirits, who be these that write--Mahekê,
Kitia, and Minea?" he asked, crossly.

"Mahekê, Kitia, ma Minea."

"O wood-head! am I any wiser now?"

The boy stared solemnly, and then by a sudden inspiration showed
him a roll of money tied up in the dangling end of his dirty waist-
cloth.

"Ha!" said the trader, "now do I see.  Stolen money, eh?  And these
women have sent thee to spend it.  Now will I call for the fakafili
(judge) and have thee beaten with twenty stripes."

"Nay, nay," whined the boy, "I be honest."

"Then why come to this door, which is tabu;--for in here do I eat
and sleep.  Do I buy or sell in this room?  Have I not a store?"

"True, O white man, but I was forbidden to go there, lest I be
seen."

"Ha, 'tis stolen money then, else why fear to be seen?"

"Mahekê forbade me."

"And who is Mahekê?'

"The friend of Kitia?"

"And who is Kitia?"

"The friend of Minea."

"O dolt!  O half-awakened hog!  How do I know these names?  Who, in
God's name, then, is Minea?"

"She be friend to Kitia and Mahekê--they be friends to one
another."

"So.  I see.  These three, then, have stolen the money between them--
the fakafili--"

The boy began to blubber.

"Nay, it is not so, my master.  I do not lie to thee.  It be honest
money.  And these three gave it me with the tuhi (letter) for thee,
and bade me tell no one.  And when I come safely to them with those
things for which they ask, I am to have one piece of silver money
for myself--and that Mahekê hath now in her hand to give me when I
return."

                          * * * * *

Langley was puzzled.  It was so unusual for native women to send
any one to buy goods for them.  The rule with the natives of Savage
Island was to make their purchases ostentatiously, and show every
one that they HAD money.  He read the note again.


"Send us, O good white man, three white handkerchiefs, three white
poll combs, a bottle of musk, three pili alo (chemises), one fathom
of blue gossamer to shade our faces from the sun, and a little
tobacco and one box of matches."


                          * * * * *

"What the deuce can it be?" he thought, as he went into the
adjoining store.  He got the articles named, and tied them into a
parcel.  Then he looked again at the rude, scrawling signatures--


             "For us, Mahekê, Minea, ma Kitia."


"Here, boy, take these.  Stay, what is thy name?"

"Vetsi, the son of Soseni."

"So.  And who are these women that send thee to buy?  Hast thou
three wives?  Who is Mahekê?"

The boy laughed at the white man's pleasantry, and began--

"Mahekê is the friend--"

The trader darted out his hand, caught him by the shoulder, and
shook him.

"Now, tell me where does Mahekê live?"

"In Uhomotu, with her mother.  She it is whose lover died in the
Pokula (Guano Islands) last year."

"Good.  And Minea?"

The parrot-like repetition of "She is--" was again issuing from his
lips, when another shake brought the boy to his senses.

"Minea is the thin girl with the foot that wasteth away."

"Ha!" said the trader, and he asked no further questions; while the
boy, glad to be released, went cautiously away with the parcel,
looking fearfully about him lest he should be seen by any of the
villagers.

                          * * * * *

Although not yet six months on Savage Island, and unfamiliar with
the names of many of the natives in his own locality, the trader
now remembered these three girls.  Sometimes they would bring fruit
or a little cotton for sale, and, unlike the generality of the
people, who would hang about and bandy words with him, they would
take payment in cash and go quietly away.  One of them, Minea,
walked with a stick.  She was the youngest of the three, and her
two companions seemed tenderly anxious for her.  Some terrible bone-
disease had crippled her foot, which was slowly wasting away.
Mahekê, a sombre-faced, black-browed creature, had one day been
pointed out to him as the girl who refused to marry a man of her
parents' choice, for which contumacy she had received many
thrashings.  Of Kitia he knew nothing, except that she was the
pretty and inseparable companion of the other two.

                          * * * * *

"Ani," said he an hour or so afterwards to the teacher's daughter,
a fat, sullen-faced girl, as he lay smoking beneath an orange-tree
in her father's garden, "who be the three girls, Kitia, Minea, and
Mahekê?"

The sullen features lighted up vindictively.  Ah! they were a bad,
lazy lot.  Mahekê! the shameless creature that would not marry a
good man like Paturei, who was a deacon.  And why?  Because she had
a dead lover in Pokula.  She wanted more beatings.  Kitia, an idle
little beast that the white men favoured because she dressed her
head with flowers and sang heathen Samoan songs, and walked with
bare bosom to the bathing-place, which the fakafili had forbidden,
because it was not modest.  Minea, she who was once so saucy and
was now smitten by God for her sins--

"Oh, shut up, you putty-faced devil!" said the trader, disgustedly,
in English.

"Thou art but as a stranger here," the teacher's daughter began
again, oilily, "and these are girls whose names have been called
aloud in the church by my father for their bad ways.  They are
three friends--a fourth there is, who is the Devil."

"Ah!" said the white man, mockingly, "then have they a strong
friend.  Perhaps 'tis he that giveth them so much money to spend in
my store."

"What money?" said she, quickly.

The trader, for amusement, magnified the purchases of the Three
Friends.  The teacher's daughter he knew to be a greedy, malicious
creature, and it pleased him to torment her.

Suddenly there came to them from the beach a loud clamour of
voices, and with a cry of alarm the fat Ani tore past the
astonished trader into the village, calling out something about the
Three Friends and the cliffs of Matasuafa.

Before the white man could get to the village to learn the cause of
alarm every soul had left it, their brown bodies dashing aside the
shrubs and cotton bushes that lay in their way as they hastened
with excited cries to the cliffs.  Wondering if they had all gone
mad, he followed.

                          * * * * *

At a point called Matasuafa, where the perpendicular face of the
cliffs was highest, the natives--men, women, and children--
clustered like bees.  Those in front, holding with one hand the
branches of the tough scrub that grew on the summit, gazed down at
the black ledge of reef that stood abruptly out from the foot of
the cliff.  There, directly beneath, lay the motionless figures of
three girls.  Descent at this spot was impossible, and the eyes of
the watchers on top moved alternately from the huddled-up forms
beneath to those of four or five men who were running along the
narrow table of reef a few hundred yards away.

The tide was dead low, yet, as the half-naked men sprang across the
pools and air-holes that broke up the crust of the reef, the ocean
swell broke savagely against its face and smothered them in misty
spray.  And now and again a roller heavier than the rest would send
a thin sheet of water hissing along the ledge of rock to sway to
and fro the long black hair and ensanguined garments of the Three
Friends.  It came up clear as crystal; it poured back again through
the coral gutters and air-holes to the sea tinged with a bloody
stain.

                          * * * * *

The men dashed on and lifted them up, and then fought their way
back through the sweeping seas along the ledge of cruel, black
rock, to a place where a narrow path had been cut away in a break
of the cliffs.

For some time the trader tried to get near them to see if by any
chance they yet lived.  Whilst waiting on the cliffs he had learnt
the meaning of the mysterious purchase of the morning.  After
meeting the boy in a lonely sugar-cane patch, the girls had dressed
themselves in their best, carefully oiling and combing their long,
glossy hair.  Then, after making and smoking some cigarettes and
sprinkling one another with scent, they bade him come with them a
part of the way.  They travelled an old, unused path of former
days, unknown even to the boy Vetsi, who now began to get
frightened, and wept.

Then they stopped, and Mahekê, taking the boy's hand, placed in it
the half-dollar she had promised him and bade him go back; but the
lame girl, Minea, who seemed moved somewhat, took him to her bosom
and kissed and fondled him.  Then she pushed him away, and, with
the other two supporting her weakly frame, they struck into the
undergrowth that quivered to the shock of the breakers dashing
against the face of Matasuafa.

                          * * * * *

The trader pushed silently through the people and looked.  Two,
Mahekê and Minea, were dead.  Their agony had been brief.  The
third, the round-faced, laughing-voiced Kitia, who was but budding
into womanhood, still lived, but that it was not for long could
easily be seen.  Both legs and her back were broken.

A woman, with shaking hands and streaming eyes, bent over her and
spoke.

The girl's eyes opened, big, soft, black, and tender.

"Ekê, where art thou, Mahekê? . . . and thou, my Minea? . . .
Shall I fail thee, O my friends . . . my friends?"

The woman laid her lips to the dying mouth.

"My child, my Kitia, 'tis I, thy old mother!"

The bruised and bleeding fingers twitched feebly, and then Ani, the
Bitter-Tongued, knelt, and raising the girl's arms, placed the
maimed hands against her mother's cheek, and kept them there.

The woman sobbed a question, and in a faint whisper the answer
came.

"We had sworn it . . . long, long ago.  'Twas when Mahekê's lover
died we planned it.  'I will die ere I become wife to Paturei,' she
said. . . .  We were friends . . . friends.  And Minea said, 'Then
shall I die with thee, for I suffer pain always--always.'  And then
I, I who was strong and well, I jumped too, for we were friends,
and I had sworn to them . . . to be with them . . . always . . .
for ever.  My mother . . . so old art thou . . ."

                          * * * * *

The trader, with a sudden mist dimming his eyes and holding his hat
in his hand, stood back and turned his face to the sea.  Then he
walked slowly home to the village.

As he emerged from the narrow path into the open, the chill of the
dewy night-breeze struck upon his face.

He stopped a moment on the hill, listening.

'Twas but the muffled boom of the rollers on Matasuafa, sounding in
long, solemn symphony the requiem of the Three Friends of Uhomotu.




NIKOA


A white man, thin, brown-skinned, and ragged, was walking along the
reef at Henuake, one of the Low Archipelago.  In his hand he
carried a turtle spear, and every now and then he would examine the
deep pools that at intervals broke the hollow crust of the reef.
Behind him, carrying a basket, came his native wife.

The tide was very low, and the outer edge of the black wall of
reef, covered on the top with patches and clumps of round yellow
and pink coral knobs, had dried, and under the fierce sun-rays a
sickening odour arose from the countless marine-growths and
organisms.

Presently the white man sat down upon a weed-covered boulder on the
brink of a pool, and waited for the woman to come up.

                          * * * * *

The man's name was Falkiner, and he was about the poorest
beachcomber in the group.  Not many years before he had been a
different man, but he had made money fast in those days, and as
fast as he made it he had spent it in drunken orgies at Auckland,
Papiete, and Honolulu.  Then his luck turned, and from being a man
of might and substance and the owner of two pearling-schooners he
had sunk to living on Henuake, planting coconuts for an American
firm.  Fifteen months before they had landed him and his wife and
four native labourers, and about twenty thousand seed-coconuts.
Telling him to be careful of his provisions, and that the schooner
would be back again in six months, the captain had sailed away.

                          * * * * *

The woman came up, and, taking the basket off her shoulders, sat
down beside him.  For a while neither spoke.  The man was tired and
savage, and the woman knew his mood too well to speak until she was
spoken to.  Away on either hand stretched the black waste of reef;
in front the oily, glassy ocean, with here and there a flock of
snow-white sea-birds meandering on the wing or floating on its
smooth surface; and shorewards the long low line of verdure fringed
by the dazzling white beach.

"Show me," said Falkiner, pointing to the basket.

Nikoa opened the basket and showed him a young turtle of about
20lb. weight.

"That will do us, Nikoa, for a day or two.  Perhaps the kau puaka
will see now that I want nothing from them."

Now by kau puaka (crew of pigs) the white man meant his native
labourers, with whom he had quarrelled.  When his provisions ran
out--and especially his liquor--and they all had to live upon
native food, his morose temper soon caused a breach, and it had
gradually widened day by day till at last the white man and his
wife had to seek their own food.

                          * * * * *

"Harry," said the woman, "why use such bitter words?  These men of
Raroia are quick-blooded, and who is to know of it should thy hot
tongue bring death upon us two suddenly in the night?"

"What do you know, what have you heard?" he asked, suspiciously.

"This," she answered, quickly: "but two days ago two of them came
to me and asked would I go with them in the boat and seek some
other island, for they are wearied of living here and getting
naught but foul words from the white man."

The ragged man looked savagely at her for a moment, then snarled:
"Well, you sad-faced devil, you can go.  I don't want you any more,
curse you!"

The woman's eyes flashed fire:  "That is the devil in thee that
speaks because it calleth for more grog.  Now, listen.  It will be
well for thee to be friendly with these men, for they are four to
us two, and they have the boat, and they have money--much money."

"Money," said Falkiner; "where could they get money on Henuake?"
and he laughed incredulously.

Then she told him.

                          * * * * *

Two days before the four natives had been searching for robber-
crabs in a dense puka scrub, when they had found, lying on the
ground, a boat's water-breaker.  One of them had taken hold of it
to lift it up, and found it to be too heavy.  As he placed his
hands under each end the bilge gave way, and a great mass of silver
coin poured out in a heap.  They each set to work and made four
strong baskets.  Into these they divided the money, and hid it
away.  Then they consulted.

"Let us tell the white man," said one, "and when he sees all this
money he will wait here on Henuake no longer, but take it and us
away with him to Raroia."

"No," said the others, "let us hide it until the schooner comes
back for us.  We can steal it on board at night-time.  Why tell the
white man?  He will keep it and perhaps kill us."

But they had told Nikoa, and she had urged them to let her tell the
white man--the money was his, she argued.  Were they not his men?
Was he not a good man to them until all his liquor was gone?--only
then had he become sour and moody.  And so they let it rest with
her.  And now she told him.

"You're a good girl, Nikoa," said the white man, pleasantly.
"We'll take the boat and go back to Raroia, and let Henuake take
care of itself.  Tell the men we will divide the money evenly--and
let us be friends again."

Nikoa smiled.  Loyalty to her husband was always her first thought,
and she thought with delight of her home at Garumaoa on Raroia--the
village of her childhood, where she was as happy as the day was
long.  A year and a half ago Falkiner had bought her from the
chief, and with unquestioning obedience she had followed him to
lonely Henuake.  He was occasionally a great brute to her; yet,
although she was sickening to return to her people, she had no
thought of doing so without the white man.

They rose and walked back to the line of palms on the beach--the
woman laughing and talking joyously, and the man planning black
treachery.

In another hour the four brown men had come back to his house, each
carrying his basket-load of silver dollars.  They were emptied on a
mat and counted out in piles of hundreds.  There were over four
thousand dollars.  Falkiner divided it into six shares--one for
each of the men, and one for Nikoa.

Then each brown man tied his share up in a piece of cloth and
handed it to the white man--to mind till they got back to Raroia.

"Whose money was it before?" they asked him that night, as they sat
in his house smoking.

He shook his head.  It was mostly in American dollars and half-
dollars and Chilian half-dollars.  He had heard of some human
remains being found in Henuake long years ago, and that a whaleship
had been lost there some time about 1850.  Perhaps the money had
come from her--whaleships in those days often carried as much as
five thousand dollars to buy pearl-shell and tortoise-shell.

Then the men went away to their own hut to sleep, and Nikoa, the
woman, slept too.

When he was sure she slumbered soundly, Falkiner carefully examined
and loaded his Colt's revolver, and placed it in the chest with the
dollars.

                          * * * * *

At daybreak they pulled out of the quiet lagoon and headed for
Raroia.  It was calm, and the day became hot, yet the four men
pulled unwearingly all day, with but short intervals of rest.  At
dusk a faint air sprang up, and they hoisted the sail.

"Sleep, strong men, sleep," said the white man, "Nikoa and I will
steer by turns till it be dawn."

The four natives lay down.  The one who was pulling the bow-oar was
a lad named Te Rangi, a cousin of Nikoa.  As he coiled his body
into the confined space where he lay Nikoa threw him a mat to keep
off the chilly night air.  Then she slept also till dawn.

                          * * * * *

Suddenly the sound of two shots pealed out over the ocean, and, as
the woman sprang up terrified, a third.  There, under the first
flush of the rising sun, she saw three of her countrymen lying
either dead or dying, and Falkiner pointing his pistol at the mat-
covered figure in the bows.

She seized his arm.  "Harry, 'tis Te Rangi, my brother.  Let him
live?"  He shook her off with a savage curse, and fired.  The
bullet broke the arm of the sleeping lad, who sat up and gazed in
terror at the savage face of the white man.

Again the woman caught his hand and begged for the boy's life.  He
was but a lad, she urged; he was, too, of her own blood--how then
could he betray?  There was land not far distant.  Let him have his
life now and he could be landed there.

But Falkiner again thrust her aside, and, this time, sent a bullet
through Te Rangi's heart.

                          * * * * *

The dead men had been thrown overboard, and Falkiner had changed
the boat's course to W. by N.  He would get to Samoa, he thought.
Once there, he need have no fear.  He had spared the woman's life
simply because he thought that she would never betray him.  As soon
as she got over losing Te Rangi she would be all right again and
find her tongue.

A few miles ahead of the boat was a cluster of low islands,
uninhabited all but one.  Falkiner knew them well, and presently he
said to the woman--

"Nikoa, we will sleep on Napuka to-night, and in the morning get as
many young coconuts as we can for the boat, and perhaps we may find
a turtle on the beach.  Then we go to Samoa."

She nodded her head.  The wild hatred of the man that now filled
her heart kept her from speaking.

                          * * * * *

The current in Napuka Passage was running out fiercely, and the
boat could scarcely make headway against it, even with the strong
S.E. trade filling her big sail.

"Let us make fast to the edge of the coral till the tide turns,"
said the white man, and he let the boat's head fall off a little,
at the same time standing up to get a better view.

But a sudden whirling eddy brought the boat up against a great knob
of coral, and Falkiner lost his balance with the shock and fell
over the side.

When he rose to the surface he was a hundred feet away from the
boat, which had swung round head-to the current, but was hard and
fast on the coral knob.

"Push her off, Nikoa," he called out, "else I am taken out to sea!"

Nikoa stood up and laughed.  "Even so, killer of my brother!  The
heavy baskets of money, for which thou sheddest the blood of four
men, keeps the boat firm on the rock.  It is a judgment on thee."

Above the roaring, hissing, and swirling of the water her voice
reached him, and, still struggling madly to gain the sides of the
passage, he was borne out into the blue depths beyond.

Then Nikoa, shielding her eyes from the sun with one hand, saw a
splash in the water, and heard a faint cry of agony, and knew that
a shark had taken the murderer.

                          * * * * *

The boat soon lay high and dry on the coral knob, and Nikoa,
lighting a cigarette, sat and smoked awhile.  Then she took out the
baskets of coin, and cut them open and poured the blood-stained
money into the wildly sweeping waters.  When the last one was
emptied, she lay down and slept till the tide turned.

When she awoke the boat was drifting in quietly to the land, and a
canoe full of light-skinned men with strong, wiry beards and
moustaches was alongside.

"Who art thou?" said one.

"Nikoa of Raroia," she answered.  "My man fell out of the boat, and
was eaten by a shark.  What men are ye?"

"We be of Tetopoto," they replied, pointing to the farthest island;
"had there been men with you we had killed them.  But we will not
hurt a woman."

                          * * * * *

And for years afterwards the children of Napuka and Tetopoto found
silver money in the holes and pools of the reef.




THE STRANGE WHITE WOMAN OF MADURO


A group of four men were seated upon a trader's verandah at Maduro,
one of the Marshall Islands.  They were smoking and talking about
old times.  The night was brilliantly moonlight, and the hull and
spars of a little white-painted brig that lay anchored in the
lagoon about a mile distant from the trader's house stood out as
clearly and distinct as if she were but fifty yards away from where
they sat.  Three of the men present were visitors--Ned Packenham
the captain, Harvey the mate, and Denison the supercargo of the
Indiana; the fourth was the trader himself--a grizzled old wanderer
of past sixty, with a skin like unto dark leather, and a frame
that, old as he was, showed he was still as active and vigorous as
when he had first landed on Maduro atoll thirty years before.

It was long past midnight, and the old trader's numerous half-caste
family had turned-in to sleep some hours before.  The strange,
wondrous beauty of the night, and the pleasure of listening to old
Charlie Waller's talk of the early days in the Marshalls when every
white man lived like a prince, and died in his boots from a bullet
or a spear, had tempted the visitors to send their boat back to the
ship and accept Charlie's invitation to remain till breakfast next
morning.  It so happened that the old man had just been talking
about a stalwart son of his who had died a few months previously,
and Packenham and Denison, to whom the lad had been well known,
asked his father where the boy had been buried.

"In there," replied the old man, pointing to a small white-walled
enclosure, about a stone's throw from where they were sitting.
"There's a good many graves there now.  Let me see.  There is
Dawnay, the skipper of the Maid of Samoa, and three of his crew;
Petersen, the Dutchman, that got a bullet into him for fooling
around too much with a pistol in his hand and challenging natives
to fight when he was drunk; two or three of my wife's relatives,
who wanted to be buried in my boneyard, because they thought to
make me some return for keeping their families after they were
dead; my boy Tom; and the white woman."

"White woman!" said the mate of the brig.  "Was there a white woman
died here?"

"Yes," answered the trader; "but it's so long ago that I've almost
forgotten the matter myself.  Why, let me see--I came here in '40
or '41.  Well, I think it was some time about '48 or '49."

"Who was she?"

Old Waller shrugged his shoulders.  "That I can't tell.  I only
know that she died here, and that I buried her."

"Where did she come from?" asked Denison.

"That I can't tell you either, gentlemen.  But I'll tell you all I
do know, and a mighty queer yarn it is, too.  In those days I was
the only white man here.  I had come here about six years before
from Ebon, about four hundred miles from here, and, as I had learnt
the language, I got on very well with the natives, and was doing a
big business.  There were not many whaleships here then, but every
ten months or so a vessel came here from Sydney, and, as I had the
sole run of the whole of this lagoon, I generally filled her up
with coconut oil, and was making money hand over fist.

"The house in which I then lived was, like this one, built of coral
lime, but stood further away towards the point, in rather a clearer
spot than this, for the coconut trees were not growing thickly
together around it.  You can see the place from here, and also see
that a house standing in such a position would be visible, not only
from all parts of the inside beaches of the lagoon, but from the
sea as well.  It used to be a regular landing mark for all the
canoes sailing over here from Arhnu (a low-lying coral atoll,
densely populated, twenty miles distant) for, being whitewashed, it
stood out very clearly, even at night-time.

"Well, it was a pretty lonely life in those days, only seeing a
ship once a year; but I was making money, as I said, hand over
fist, and didn't worry much.  My wife--not the present one, you
know--was a Bonin Island half-bred Portugee woman, and as she
generally talked to me in English, and had no native ways to speak
of, we used to sit outside in the evenings pretty often and watch
our kids and the village people dancing and otherwise amusing
themselves on the beach.  Rotau, the head chief of this lagoon, was
very chummy with me, and sometimes he and his wives would come up
of an evening and join us.

"One night he told us that a canoe had come from Milli [an island
about three days' sail to the leeward of Waller's place], and
reported that a ship had passed quite close to their island about a
week before.  At first I thought it was my vessel coming up from
Sydney, but Rotau said it was not a brig, but a three-masted ship
with yards on all her masts.  Well, at first I thought it was a
whaler, but then remembered that it was fully four months too late
in the year for a blubber-hunter to be around.  Then it occurred to
me that it might be some English ship going to China or the East
Indies from the colonies; but I wondered why she was beating to the
eastward if that were the case.

"Well, after we had sat talking for awhile, my wife called the
children in and put them to sleep, and Rotau and I and his wives
sat outside a bit longer, smoking.  All the rest of the natives had
gone away, and the beach was deserted.  It was a moonlight night,
almost as bright as it is to-night, and the sea was as smooth as a
millpond; so smooth, in fact, that there was not even a break upon
the reef, and the trade wind having died away, there was not the
sound of a leaf stirring in the palm grove, and only just the 'lip-
lap, lip-lap' of the water in the lagoon as it swished up the sandy
beach.

"We had been sitting like this for about half an hour, when Nera,
my wife, just as she was coming out of the door to join us, gave a
cry.

"'Te Kaibuke!  Look at the ship!'

"I jumped up and looked, and there, sure enough, was a big ship
just showing round the point and close in--at least, not more than
a mile away from the reef.  She showed up so plainly on the surface
of the water that I could see that she was under all canvas--except
her royals and such.

"For a moment I was a bit scared, remembering that there was not a
breath of wind, and yet seeing her moving; then I remembered the
current, and knew that she must have run up to the land from the
westward, before dark, perhaps, and that as soon as the breeze had
died away the current, which runs about four knots off the weather
side of the island, had caught her and was now moving her along.
Even by the moonlight I could see that she was a fine-looking ship;
and by her sheer, high bows, white-painted deck-houses, and cut of
her sails, I took her to be either a Yankee or British North-
American.

"I always kept my whaleboat ready in those days, and, after looking
at her for a bit and seeing she was steadily drifting along to the
north-east and would be out of sight by the morning, I made up my
mind to board her.  But just as I had asked Rotau to get one of his
women to hunt up a boat's crew, he sang out--

"'Listen; I hear a boat!'

"In another moment or two I heard it, plain enough--click, clack;
click, clack--and at the same time saw that the ship was heading
away from the land.

"'That's queer,' I thought.  And then Rotau, who, like all natives,
had better eyes than most white men, said that she had three boats
out towing.

"'Ah,' I thought, 'the captain has got frightened at the current,
and, as he can't anchor where he is, he's sending in a boat to try
and find a place where he can let go till morning and is towing off
the land meanwhile.'

"I knew the ship was right enough, and could not get into any
danger, as the current would take her clear of the land in another
hour or so; so we all went down to the point to see where the boat
was coming.

"As I said, there wasn't even so much as a bit of froth on the
reef, and, being high water, no one a stranger to a coral reef
would know it was there till he was going over it in a boat and
looked over the side.  We had just got down to the point when we
saw the boat close to.  She was being pulled very quickly by four
hands, and made a devil of a row coming through the water.  The man
who was steering was standing up, and I saw that his cap was off,
and his face showed white and ghastly in the moonlight.

"As soon as she was within a hundred yards of the beach I hailed
them to keep a bit to starboard, as there was a big coral boulder
right in front of the spot they were steering for.

"'Aye, aye,' answered the man steering, and he did as I told him.
In another minute or two the boat shot up on the beach, and we
crowded round them.

"'Stand back, please,' says the officer, speaking in a curious,
hurried kind of way, and then I saw that he had a pistol in his
left hand, and that the men with him looked white and scared, and
seemed to take no notice of us.

"But they didn't give us much time to wonder at their looks.  Two
of the men jumped out, and then we saw that there was another
person in the boat--a woman.  She was sitting on the bottom boards,
lying against the stern-sheets, and seemed to be either asleep or
dead.  The officer helping them, they lifted her up out of the boat
and carried her ashore.  Then the officer turns to me, and I saw
that though he tried to speak quietly, he was in a devil of a
flurry over something.

"'What's all this?' I said; 'what's the matter?  What have you got
this pistol in your hand for, and what is the matter with this
woman?'

"He put the pistol out of sight pretty quick, and then, speaking so
rapidly that I could hardly follow him, said that the lady was the
captain's wife.  She had been taken ill very suddenly, and her
husband, seeing my house so close to, had determined to send her
ashore, and see if anything could be done for her.

"'That's mighty queer,' I said.  'Why didn't he come with her
himself?  Look here, I don't believe all this.  How the devil did
he know that even though the house is here that a white man lives
in it?  And I want to have a look at the woman's face.  She might
be dead for all I know.'

"By this time my wife and one of Rotau's wives had gone up to the
woman, and I saw that although she wasn't dead she looked very like
it, for her eyes were closed, and she seemed quite unconscious of
all that was going on.  She was young--about twenty-five or so--and
was rather pretty.

"'Please take her to your house,' says the officer, 'and as soon as
we have towed the ship out of danger the captain will come ashore
and see you.'

"'Hold on,' says I, and I grabbed him by the arm.  'Do you mean to
say you're going off in this fashion, without telling me anything
further?  Who are you, anyway?  What is the ship's name?'

"He hesitated just a second, and then said, 'The Inca Prince--
Captain Broughton; but I can't stay to talk now.  The captain
himself will tell you about it in the morning.  As you see, his
wife is very ill.  You will at least not refuse to help in the
matter?'

"And then, before I could stop him, he jumped back out of my reach
into the boat, and the four sailors, two of whom were niggers of
some sort, shoved off, and away they went again.

"'You'd better tell the captain to come ashore at once,' I called
out after them; but although he heard me plainly enough he took no
notice of me beyond waving his hand.

"Well, we carried the woman up to the house and placed her in a
chair, and the moment that my wife took off the woollen wrapper
that covered her head and shoulders she cried out that there was
blood running down her neck.  And it didn't take me long to
discover that the woman was dying from a bullet wound in the back
of her head.

"We did all that we possibly could for the poor thing, but she
never regained consciousness, and towards sunrise she died quietly.
There was nothing about her clothing to show who she was, but she
wore rings such as would belong to a woman of some position.  She
appeared to be twenty-six years of age, as I said; and when she was
being prepared for her grave I took particular notice of her
personal appearance.  That she had been murdered I could not doubt,
and perhaps some day, even after all these years, the crime may
come to light."

"But what became of the ship?" asked the mate of the Indiana.

"Out of sight by eight o'clock in the morning.  As soon as I saw
what was the matter with the woman I knew that we need not expect
to see any one from the ship back again.  The boats towed her, I
suppose, all night, and just before daylight a breeze sprang up,
which soon took her away from the land."

"I wonder what the true story of that woman's death was?" said
Packenham, thoughtfully, as he looked towards the place where she
was buried.

"Heaven only knows," answered the old trader.  "Whether it was a
mutiny, and her husband was murdered, or whether the officer who
came ashore with her was the captain himself and her husband as
well, I cannot tell.  My own idea is that there was a mutiny, and
that she had been shot, perhaps accidentally, in the struggle, and
that knowing that she might possibly recover, the mutineers had
decided to send her ashore, rather than have to keep her a prisoner
on board, and then perhaps kill her to prevent the discovery of
their crime.  Any way, I have since learnt that there never was a
ship named the Inca Prince.  I've told the story to every
shipmaster I've met since that night, and it was written about a
good deal in the English and American newspapers.  Then the affair
was forgotten, and, like many another such thing, the secret may
never come out."

                          * * * * *

Presently, following the old man, Denison and Packenham went with
him in the bright moonlight, and looking over the low white wall of
the little cemetery, saw the unknown woman's grave.  A faint breath
of air swayed the pendulous leaves of the surrounding coco-palms
which for a moment rustled softly together, and then drooped into
the silence of the night.




THE OBSTINACY OF MRS. TATTON


The Indiana of Sydney, Tom de Wolf's trading brig, lay at anchor
off the native town of Niafu, one of the Friendly Group, south from
Samoa, when Tatton came on board.  He was a short, thick-set, dark-
faced man, slow of speech but quick with his hand, and master of
the Lunalilo, a small trading ketch of a hundred tons or so.
Denison had made his acquaintance at Wallis Island about a year
previously, and because he found that Tatton hated the intrusion of
"the Dutchmen," i.e., the Germans, into the South Seas as much as
he did himself, he made friends with him, and they drank and smoked
together whenever the two ships happened to meet.  And on the same
day that the Indiana ran into Vavau from Fiji the Lunalilo hove in
sight from the northward, towed into Niafu Harbour by her boats,
for the trade wind had died away at sunset.  As Tatton's vessel
passed the Indiana her skipper, who was standing aft, waved his
hand to Denison and called out to him and the captain of the brig
to come on board after supper.

An hour later, when their supper was over and Denison and the
captain of the brig were about getting ready to go aboard the
schooner, the steward came below.

"Here's Captain Tatton, gentlemen."

They opened their cabin doors and shook hands with him.  The
captain of the Indiana, a rough, hard-shell old Connecticut Yankee
with a heavy hand and a soft heart, looked at Tatton for a moment,
and then asked:--

"What in thunder is the matter with yew, Tatton?  Hev yew got
yaller fever or the cholery morbus aboard thet old hooker ef yours?
Any one been and run away with your little missus, or what?"

Tatton attempted to smile at old Barron's joke, but failed.  He
lifted the glass of liquor that the steward had poured out for him
to his lips, then set it down again on the table with shaking hand.

"No one has run away with poor Luisa, Barron, but"--he turned and
stared up at the skylight, and then bent his head upon his hand--
"but she's leaving me all the same.  The poor girl is dying,
Barron.  I was bound to the eastward when I left Samoa, but came in
here thinking that I might find that Yankee man-of-war, the
Narrangansett, here.  She left Samoa a couple of days after me and
passed me the night before last, steaming very fast.  Luisa was
very, very bad then, and so I burnt the one blue light I had on the
schooner, and my crew kept firing their rifles every few minutes;
but she was too far off, I suppose, to see us, or was in too much
of a hurry to bother"; and the sturdy, bronze-faced seaman passed
his hand wearily over his face.

In an instant Barron, the grizzled old veteran of thirty years'
hardship and adventure in the two Pacifics, reached out his hand to
Tatton.

"That's bad news.  Is there anything we can do for you, Tatton?  I
guess you reckoned on the Narrangansett's doctor?  Is your wife
very bad?  Denison here is a bit of a doctor.  Perhaps he can help
you.  Is she very bad?"

Tatton nodded.  "Dying.  I can see that.  I think she knows it too,
poor girl.  Still, what can I do?  I wonder if the Yankee cruiser
has gone on to Tongatabu" (about a hundred miles further
southward).  "If I thought so I would heave up again and try and
get there in time."

"Wait till to-morrow, Tatton," said the captain of the brig, "the
Narrangansett will most likely turn up by then.  She's bound to
come in here first before going on to Tongatabu--there's coal
waiting for her here, I know."

Tatton cheered up a bit at this; then, after drinking his grog,
asked Denison to go back to the Lunalilo with him.  "She'd like to
see you, I think, Denison," he said, in a hesitating sort of way.
"Anyway you knew her and her family, didn't you?"

"I'll come with pleasure"; and Denison, picking up his cap, was
following Tatton on deck when old Barron called him back.

"Got any champagne left in the trade room, Denison?"

"About half a dozen."

"Well, look here now, I reckon champagne is jest about the right
thing to take.  I don't know what's wrong with the gal, but
whatever it is yew kin rely that champagne is good fur it.  Yew
take the lot, and charge it tew me."

When the steward handed Denison five bottles of champagne, tied up
in a basket, the supercargo remembered that only a year or so
before, when the Indiana and Lunalilo were together at Futuna
Island, Tatton, Barron, and himself had had an angry dispute over a
matter of business, and that Tatton, with blazing eyes, had told
the grizzled old skipper of the brig that he was "too blarsted mean
to live, like all Down-East Yanks."

                          * * * * *

Tatton's ketch lay closer in to the shore than the brig, but the
distance between them was short.  As the native crew sent the boat
over the stilled, starlit water Denison looked at Tatton, who kept
silent.  He could see that, rude and rough as was the man's nature,
he was suffering.  Only a few months before their first meeting at
Wallis Island, Tatton had married the youngest daughter of an old
trader living on one of the Navigators Islands--a delicate-looking,
child-like creature, who, were she in civilisation, would hardly
have left the nursery.  And since then Tatton, the hard-drinking,
quarrelsome skipper whose chief argument in any dispute was his
fist--and he had many arguments on a variety of subjects--had
undergone a wonderful change and acquired an extraordinary renown;
in brief, he became that rare fish in Polynesian seas, a moral
trading captain.

                          * * * * *

Luisa, born of a Manhikian mother by a white father, was lying on a
bed of soft mats spread on the cabin floor.  By her side was a
native sailor fanning her, for the cabin was close and stuffy.
Seated on the transoms a few feet further off was another seaman, a
big, sallow-faced native of Manhiki.  He was nursing a baby.  He
looked stolidly at Denison and Tatton for a moment, then bent his
face over that of the sleeping child.

"She is asleep," said the man beside her in a whisper.  Tatton
silently motioned Denison to a seat, and then spoke in a whisper.

"Born just as we passed Beveridge Reef four days ago," and he
pointed over to where the big Manhiki man sat solemnly swaying the
infant to and fro.  "I brought her away from Aitutake because she
wanted to get back to Samoa to her mother and her people.  So I
closed up the station at Aitutake and brought her aboard.  Such
rotten luck you never saw.  Head winds and calms, calms and head
winds, for nearly a month; and then just off Beveridge--"

Here the girl moved and awoke.

"Lu," said Tatton, bending over her, "here is an old friend of your
father's."

The girl looked at Denison, then put out her slender hand and said
in her mother's tongue, in a voice scarce above a whisper, "Ah,
yes, I remember you.  Have you forgotten the day when you and my
father and brothers went to Apia to the fa'atau tui (auction) and
Alvord, the big American who rapped on the table with a hammer,
gave me a dressed-up doll?"--and she smiled faintly.

                          * * * * *

That was nearly eight years ago.  How it all came back to him!
Fat, jolly old Alvord, selling a miscellaneous lot of goods in an
Apian resident's house, and the strange, motley crowd that
surrounded him; among them this girl's father, his sons and Denison
himself.  And he remembered, too, a little girl of about ten coming
in at the door, dressed in European style and smiling at him; and
old Ned, her father, bringing her over to him and telling him it
was his little girl, "runned down from the Sisters where she was a-
schoolin' to see her brothers"; then when the fa'atau tui was over
how the old dried-up trader, his stalwart sons, the little girl and
he, all walked up to the French Mission and gave the runaway back
to the good Sisters.  And here she was now, a mother, and dying.

The big sailor came over beside her and squatted cross-legged on
the mats.  Tatton placed his arm around her and raised her up to
look at the hideous little bundle of mortality in his arms.

"What an ugly little aitu (devil) it is!" she said to Tatton in
Samoan, as the Manihiki man placed it on the mat within touch.

Tatton turned to Denison with something like a smile.  "By God,
she's pulling herself together again!  If that cruiser would only
show up I'd give the ship and cargo."  Then he opened the wine and
gave her a glass.

Denison stayed another hour or so, and then left them, bearing in
his mind the picture of the slight figure of the girl, who had
again fallen asleep under the effects of the wine, lying motionless
on the couch of mats; the big man-nurse, and Puniola, the Savage
Island sailor, softly waving his fan over the wan features; and
Tatton, with his sun-browned face, resting on his hand, gazing
intently down upon the sleeper.

                          * * * * *

The morning mists had just begun to shift from the hills of Niafu
when Barron and his supercargo saw the long, black hull of the
Narrangansett steaming up the harbour.  She was one of the famed
"ninety-day ships," and made a brave show as she cut aside the calm
waters and brought up a couple of hundred yards astern of the
Indiana.  Her anchor had barely touched the ground when they saw
Tatton's boat pull alongside, and in another five minutes leave
again with another man seated beside Tatton, and pull hard for the
Lunalilo.

"Waal, now, look at that," said the Grizzled One to Denison, as
they sat sipping their coffee on the skylight; "there's a man that,
for the past ten years, has been up tew all kinds of red-hot
cussedness, plain AND decorated, nigger-catchin', women-buyin', and
sich like Island fixin's; and, as sure as I ain't one of the saved,
but he's jest a turned man, all over that slip of a yaller girl.
Land alive!  But he must think a lot of her--to hev the front tew
pull the doctor outer of his bunk before coffee in the morning!"

                          * * * * *

They had finished their coffee and were watching the movements of
those on board the steamer when the Lunalilo's boat again left her
side and pulled over to the brig, with only two men in her.  They
bumped up alongside, and one jumped on deck and gave Denison a note
from Tatton.

"Come on board as quick as you can.  Bring Allan with you."

Allan was the boatswain, a Manaiki half-caste.  Wondering what was
wrong, Denison called him and got in the boat and went aboard.  The
moment they gained the deck Tatton met them looking pale and
excited.  The doctor of the man-of-war was sitting on deck, smoking
a cigar.

"How is she?" he asked Tatton.

"Bad, my lad; and the doctor says that unless he can attend to her
at once she cannot possibly live more than a few days."

"Well," Denison asked wonderingly, "why doesn't he?"

"Because she won't let him.  Says she'd rather die ten times over
first.  You know what a curious sort of modesty native women have
about SOME things.  Well, as soon as ever the doctor came on board--
of course I'd told him as far as my knowledge went what was wrong--
I told her he would soon put her right.  She sat up and commenced
to cry, and said she wouldn't have him; and the moment I went on
deck to call the doctor down that big Manihiki buck lifted her up
and carried her into my cabin, put the youngster in with her, and
then locked the door.  Now, he's standing guard outside.  The fool
says he'll kill any one that tries to open it.  You see he's a kind
of a far-away cousin of the family on the mother's side.  That's
why I asked you to bring Allan.  Perhaps he can talk Rivi over
into--"

Allan shook his head.  "It's no use, Captain Tatton," he said in
English.  "If you like I'll go down and scruff Rivi and sling him
on deck; but I'll take his place if your wife wants me to keep out
the doctor."

"Curse you for a wooden-headed kanaka!" said Tatton.  "Don't I tell
you she's got to die if she won't see the doctor?"

"Look here, Captain Tatton," said the big half-caste again, "you
ought to known enough of native ways by this time to know that no
MAN can aid your wife.  Take her ashore here to some of the old
Tongan women and see what they can do for her.  She'd be disgraced
for life if you force a doctor on her, and she knows it."

                          * * * * *

Poor Tatton was half mad.  With Denison he went to the doctor and
explained.  He was a good-natured man and listened quietly.

"I will wait here another hour--two hours," he said, "if you think
she will change her mind.  If she won't I think you can't do better
than take this man's advice," pointing to Allan, "and let her be
attended by some native women.  They MAY save her life, but I doubt
it.  It's a surgical case."

Then he sat down again and went on smoking.

                          * * * * *

Allan went down below, and his huge countryman and he talked.  Then
Allan called to the white men to come down, except the doctor, and
the big man opened the door and let them in.  Luisa was lying in
Tatton's bunk, clasping his hideous little effigy to her bosom.

"Lu," said Tatton, placing her hand on his arm, and speaking in
English, "do you understand that if you will not let the American
fo'mai attend to you that you will die?  Is it not so?" turning to
Allan and Denison.

The girl's big frightened eyes sought theirs to read the answer,
and then slowly closed.  She lay quiet a moment or so while the
tears welled out and coursed down her cheeks.

"E pule le Atua," she said at last.  ("It is God's will if I die.")

"Mrs. Tatton," said Denison, "don't you want to see your brothers
and sisters again?  Why are you ashamed?  In papalagi (the white
man's land), when a child is born and a woman is sick to death, it
is the custom of all women to have with them a fo'mai to save them
from death."

She shook her head.  "I know.  Tatton hath told me that many times.
But what woman but a shameless one would suffer such a thing?"

                          * * * * *

The doctor's step sounded overhead.  Rivi, the "faraway cousin,"
with a dangerous look in his eye, shoved past the white men and
stood at the head of the bunk.  Allan, speaking in Manhikian to
him, said, "Have no fear," and he went out again.  Poor devil, a
perfect slave to Tatton at any other time, he was ready to lay his
life down in defence of this ever-so-distant cousin before she
should be "made ashamed."

Tatton and Denison went on deck again, defeated.  The doctor said
he would send some medicine--all he could do.  As he stood in the
gangway lighting another cigar he said, in answer to Tatton:  "Oh,
yes; give her a glass of champagne now and then; it'll keep her
alive a little longer, and do no harm."

Denison went away with the doctor, leaving Allan to help Tatton
take his wife ashore to the native women doctors of Niafu village.

                          * * * * *

Two days afterwards Luisa died.  After the burial Tatton went off
to the Narrangansett, and the doctor improvised a cunningly
contrived feeding bottle with a thick rubber tube for the little
Tatton, and gave him a couple of dozen tins of condensed milk "to
tucker the kid," as Tatton expressed it, "till he could leave it
with its mother's folks."

And just as the shrill whistles of the boatswain's mates piped
hands to supper on the war-ship, the Lunalilo hove up anchor, and
with Tatton at the wheel, payed off before the first puffs of the
land-breeze.  Seated between the up-ended flaps of the skylight was
the big, sallow-faced native sailor with Luisa's legacy in his lap.




DR. LUDWIG SCHWALBE, SOUTH SEA SAVANT


The Palestine, of Sydney, island trading brig, was beating
northward along the eastern shore of New Ireland, or as the great
island is now called by its German possessors, Neu Mecklenburg,
when, going about in a stiff squall, the jib-sheet block carried
away and disorganised the internal economy of Thomas Rogers, able
seaman, to such an extent that his sorrowing shipmates thought him
like to die.  Later on, however, Denison, the supercargo--who, by
virtue of having amputated a sailor-man's leg in Samoa, was held by
the crew of the Palestine and the general run of island traders to
be a mighty smart doctor--made a careful examination of the damaged
seaman, said that only three ribs were broken, and that if Rogers
only kept up his normal appetite he would get better.

But that evening it fell a dead calm, and a heavy mountainous swell
came in from the eastward, and the Palestine "nearly rolled her
poor old soul out," as Packenham, the skipper, expressed it.  And
for three days never a breath of air rippled the hot, steamy
surface of the ocean, and Rogers, A.B., took a bad turn and
couldn't eat.

"We'll have to put him ashore somewhere, Packenham," said the
supercargo; "he'll die if we keep him on board, especially if this
calm keeps up."

"Can't put him ashore anywhere about here.  There's no white man
living anywhere on the east coast of New Ireland, and the niggers
are a bad lot.  If we were on the west side we could soon run down
to Mioko, on the Duke of York Island, and leave him there with the
missionaries.  If we get a breeze we can get there in a day or so."

But luck was against them, for although a faint breeze did spring
up in the middle watch, it came from the south-east--dead ahead as
far as Duke of York Island was concerned; and poor Rogers was
getting worse.

Denison was lying propped up against the after-flap of the skylight
smoking his pipe, and looking at the misty outlines of the
mountainous shore that lay ten miles away on the port hand, when he
heard the captain's cheery voice:

"Come here, Den, as quick as you like."  And then, "Tell Ransom to
square away for that camel-backed island right abeam of us."

"Here we are!  Just the very thing," said the skipper, as soon as
Denison entered the cabin, pointing to the chart spread out on the
table.  "See?  Gerrit Deny's Island, only twenty miles to leeward.
There's a German doctor living there.  I wonder I never thought of
him before.  That's our dart.  We can put Rogers ashore there and
pick him up when we come back from the Carolines."

"A German doctor!  What the deuce is he doing on Gerrit Deny's?  No
trading ships go there.  There's no copra there, no pearl-shell--
nothing but a pack of woolly-haired Papuan niggers who are always
fighting, and ready to eat a man without salt.  We couldn't leave
Rogers there!"

"That's all right, Den, don't you worry," said Packenham, serenely.
"I know all about Gerrit Deny's--Nebarra the niggers call it, and
I've heard of this Dutch doctor pretty often.  He's a bug-hunter--
catches insects and things, and wears specs.  He'll look after
Rogers right enough."

"All right," said Denison, dubiously; "I suppose he'll stand a
better chance there than by staying aboard."

                          * * * * *

When daylight came the Palestine brought-to under a high, wooded
bluff on the lee-side of the island, and dropped her anchor, and
the mate got ready to take Rogers ashore in the whaleboat.  The
island was a wild but picturesque-looking spot, rugged and uneven
in its outlines, but clad in a dense mass of verdant forest,
stretching from the narrow strip of palm-covered littoral that
fringed its snow-white beach, away up to the very summits of its
mist-enwrapped mountains, three thousand feet above.  Just abreast
of the Palestine the thickly-clustering grey-thatched huts of a
native village showed their saddle-backed gables from out a dense
grove of banana trees, and five minutes after the brig's anchor had
plunged to its coral bed, a swarm of black-skinned, woolly-haired
savages rushed to and fro about the beach launching their canoes,
with that silent activity peculiar to some of the Melanesian
tribes.  Inland, some distance from the grey-thatched houses, a
mountain torrent showed here and there a silver line amid the
green.  Farther away to the northern point, and apart from the
village, stood a large house enclosed by a high stockade of coconut
logs.  This was the white man's dwelling, and soon the people on
the brig saw the figure of a man dressed in European clothes issue
from the door, walk out to a tall flag-pole that stood in the
centre of the great stockade, and bend on a flag to the halliards;
then presently the banner of Germany was run aloft.

"That's him," said Packenham, who was looking through his glasses,
"and, hallo, easy with that boat.  I think he's coming off to us.
I can see some natives hauling his own boat down to the beach.
That's bully.  We can send Rogers ashore with him straight away and
then clear out."

Ten minutes afterward the "bug-hunter," as Packenham called him,
came on board, and shook hands with them.  He was not at all a
professional-looking man.  First of all, he wore no boots, and his
pants and jumper of coarse dungaree were exceedingly and
marvellously ill-fitting and dirty.  A battered Panama hat of great
age flopped about and almost concealed his red-bearded face, in a
disheartened sort of manner, as if trying to apologise for the rest
of his apparel; the thin gold-rimmed spectacles he wore made a
curious and protestingly civilised contrast to his bare and dirty
feet.  His manner, however, was that of a man perfectly at ease
with himself, and his clear, steely blue eyes, showed courage and
determination.

He listened with much gravity to the tale of the disaster that had
befallen the ribs of Rogers, A.B.; but objected in a thick, woolly
kind of voice to the task of undertaking to cure him on shore.  He
had not the time, he said.  But he would see what he could do there
and then.

Then the captain and the supercargo sought by much hospitality to
make him change his mind, and said it would be a hard thing for
poor Rogers to die on board, when his life could be so easily
saved.  And he had a mother and nine young brothers and sisters to
keep.  (This was a harmless but kindly-meant fiction.)

The cold blue eyes looked at them searchingly for a few moments--
"Vell, I vill dry vat I gan do.  But if he dies you must nod blame
me mit.  I vas vonce a dogtor; but I haf nod bractised vor a long
dimes now.  I vas ein naduraliz now."

Then whilst Denison got ready a few acceptable gifts from his trade-
room, such as a couple of cases of beer, and some tinned meats to
put in the boat, the German conversed pleasantly with the skipper.
He had been, so he told Packenham, one of the medical staff of the
ill-fated Nouvelle France expedition, organised by the Marquis de
Ray to colonise the island of New Ireland.  The disastrous collapse
of that venture under the combined influences of too much drunken
hilarity and jungle fever, however, and the dispersal of the
survivors, decided him to remain in the islands, and follow his
entomological and ethnographical pursuits, to which, he added, he
was now entirely devoted.

"Does it pay you, doctor?" asked Packenham, with some interest.

He shrugged his shoulders--"Vell, id vill bay me by und by--ven I
ged mine moneys from dose zientific zocieties in Germany und oder
Continental goundries.  I haf got me no assistant, und derefore id
dakes me a long dimes mine specimens to brebare."

"What is your particular work just now, doctor?" said the captain,
filling his guest's glass again.

"At bresend I am studying der habids of der gommon green durdles."

"Green turtle?  Oh, indeed."

"Yes; der is mooch zientific droubles mid green durdles.  A grade
many beobles say dot dose green durdles are like zeals--dot they
fights und quarrels mit one anoder in der incubading season--dot is
dose male durdles.  Und dere is a grade English naturalizd who haf
wrote somedings aboud having seen two male durdles fight mit each
oder viles der female durdle stood by drembling in her shell mit
fear.  Und I vant do prove dot dot man is ein dam fool.  Der male
green durdle never fights vor der bossession of der female--So!
Dey haf nod god der amatory insdincks of der zeal, vich leads der
male zeals to engage in ploody combats vor de bossession of der
female zeal.  I haf mineself seen ein female zeal lying down on a
rock mit, und vatching der males shoost fighting vor her undil der
veakest one dropped dead; und den off she vent mid der besd man.
Ach! id is only anoder examples of brude sdrength condending for
der bossession of female beaudy."

"Perfectly true, Dr. Schwalbe.  I have very often seen the fierce
combats of which you speak," said Packenham, and then, being much
interested, he said he should like to go ashore and see the
doctor's collection; but the German, with a quick glance at him
through his spectacles, said--

"Blease do not drouble.  I moosd now ged on shore, so blease put
dot zailormans in my boat, und I vill dry and gure him."

A few minutes afterward the "bug-hunter" and student of the moral
habits of green turtle had gone ashore, taking Rogers, A.B., with
him; and the Palestine was heeling over to the now freshening trade
wind as she stretched away northward to the Carolines.

                          * * * * *

The German doctor was very kind to Rogers in a quiet, solemn kind
of a way.  The natives, too, seemed pleased to have another white
man among them, and crowded about the German's door when he and his
patient (who was carried up from the boat) entered the house.  But
after a while they were sent away, and Tom Rogers had a chance to
study his surroundings and his host, and the interior of the house,
which presented a curious appearance.

Instead of boxes of trade goods, such as gin, axes, muskets,
powder, and tobacco, taking up most of the space, there were a
number of casks of various sizes ranged in a line, and at one end
of the room a long table, on which lay surgical instruments,
bottles of chemicals, cotton-wool, and other articles.  On a shelf
above were a number of large bottles, bearing the inscription,
"Pyroligneous Acid.  Burroughs, Wellcome & Co."

"What the deuce can he want all that bottled smoke for, I wonder?"
said Rogers to himself, who knew that many traders in the Solomon
Islands used pyroligneous acid for curing pork.  "Perhaps," he
thought, "he's curing bacon; but what the devil does he do with it?
He can't eat it all himself."

At the back of the big room was a smaller sleeping apartment, and
when evening came the young seaman was carried there by his host's
servants.  Then the door was shut, and Rogers heard the clink of
bottles and sound of water splashing long into the night.

At one end of the spacious area enclosed within the stockade, and
almost adjoining the doctor's dwelling-house, was a long, rambling,
hog-backed native house, quite fifty feet in length, and bearing a
great resemblance to the big canoe houses which Rogers had seen in
the Gilbert Islands.  This house, he learned later on, contained
some of the most interesting of the doctor's ethnological and
ethnographical specimens.

Although, as he had told Packenham, he had no assistant, he had
living with him three or four Manilla-men helpers, short built,
taciturn fellows, who lived in a house of their own within the
stockade, and never associated with the natives of the island.
These men, so the savant told Rogers, had been sent to him from the
East Indies by a brother ethnologist, but their want of
intelligence rendered them, he said, quite useless, except in the
mere matter of collecting specimens.

For some days Rogers remained in bed, carefully waited upon by his
spectacled host, who said he would soon recover.

"Und den," he said, "ven you are quide sdrong again mit, you shall
help me in mine business."

Rogers was grateful, and said he would do so gladly, and as the
days went by he became really anxious to show his gratitude.
During conversation with the German he had learnt that the natives
of Gerrit Deny's were then engaged in a sanguinary civil war, and
that almost every day several men were killed and decapitated.

So far the seaman had visited neither the doctor's "vorkshop"--the
business-like apartment which adjoined the sleeping-rooms--nor the
big outhouse, but in another week or so he had so far recovered
that he was able to leave his bed and walk about.  On the evening
of the first day after this he sat down to supper with his host,
who conversed very affably with him, and told him that though at
first he was very much averse to having another white man on the
island, perhaps it was best after all.  It was very lonely, he
said, and he often wanted some one to talk to when business was
dull.  And perhaps, he added, Rogers would be glad of a little
money which he would give him for his assistance.

Amongst other things Rogers learnt that his host had been
exceedingly exasperated by a native teacher from New Britain
landing on the island some twelve months previously.  The man
himself, he said, was nothing but an ignorant savage, and his wife,
who was a native of Gerrit Deny's Island, no better.  The white
missionaries at New Britain had, it appeared, eagerly seized the
opportunity of sending to the island a teacher whose wife could
converse with the people in her own tongue.

"But," said Rogers, "I should think you would be rather glad of at
least having two people on the island who call themselves
Christians.  I know that the missionaries have done a lot of good
on New Britain.  I lived there and know it."

The doctor assented to that; but said there was no use in sending a
teacher to Gerrit Deny's; then he added--

"Und dis fellow vas alvays inderfering mit mine business."

This interference Rogers subsequently learned was that the native
teacher had been telling the islanders that they should not sell
the doctor such simple objects of interest as skulls.  But as he
had not yet made one single convert, no one took any heed of him,
and, indeed, his wife, whose conversion from heathenism was by no
means solid, had at once reverted to the customs of her people as
soon as she returned to them, and casting aside the straw hat, blue
blouse, and red petticoat of Christianity, promptly bartered them
to an admiring relative for a stick of the doctor's tobacco, a
liking for which was her ruling passion, and which could only be
gratified by selling vegetables, fruit, or specimens to the white
man.

One morning as Rogers was strolling about the grassy sward inside
the stockade he heard some one call out "Good morning" to him, and
looking up he saw a native, partly clad in European costume,
smiling and beckoning to him from the other side.  Walking over,
Rogers was at once proffered a brown hand, which the owner thrust
through a chink in the coconut posts.

"Good morning," said Rogers.  "Who are you?"

"Me missionary.  What for you no come see me my house?  What for
you stop here with German man?  He bad man; yes, very bad man."

"Why?" asked Rogers, with a good-natured laugh.

"Oh, yes," the native repeated with emphatic earnestness, "he no
good.  You come my house some day, then I tell you--" and then
catching sight of the doctor coming over to Rogers he took to his
heels and disappeared in the surrounding coconut grove.

The doctor seemed annoyed when Rogers told him who had been talking
to him, and again said that the teacher was a meddlesome fellow,
and then, with a sly twinkle of fun in his eyes, added--

"Look over dere, mein friend, dot lady standing mit her back
against der coconut tree is der vife of der kanaka glergyman on
Gerrit Deny's Island.  She haf come to zell me yams and preadfruits
for tobacco.  Ach! she is a grade gustomer of mine, is dot voman."

Rogers looked with some interest at the lady--a huge, half-nude,
woolly-headed creature, with lips reddened by chewing betel-nut and
a curved piece of human bone thrust through the cartilage of her
wide, flat nose.

Taking no notice of the strange white man, she addressed herself
volubly to the doctor, who seemed to understand her perfectly, and
then giving her a stick of tobacco for the vegetables that lay at
her feet, he told her to go, and then with Rogers went inside to
take a cup of coffee.

Directly in front of the doctor's house, but on the opposite side
of the bay, was a small village, and as the two men sat smoking
after drinking their coffee, Rogers noticed a canoe crossing and
pointed it out to his host, who at once got his glasses and took a
long look at the approaching craft.  Then he turned to his
companion with a pleased expression, and said that the "glergyman's
vife," as he persistently called the horror he had shown Rogers,
had not lied to him after all.  She had, he said, told him that a
party of her relatives, living across the bay, were that day
bringing him over a "specimen," for which he had previously treated
with them but failed to obtain, owing to the outbreak of
hostilities and the diverse claims of various members of the family
who owned the specimen in question.

Half an hour later the canoe drew up on the beach, and whilst two
of the crew carried the "specimen," which, if not heavy, was bulky,
up to the doctor's house, the remainder sat in the canoe, took
whiffs from the huge bamboo pipe, which was common property, and
stared at the new white man standing beside Dr. Schwalbe.

Presently the doctor left Rogers to meet the natives who carried
the burden, which in a few minutes more was carefully brought into
the house, and the seaman watched the process of untying the bundle
with interest--then he drew back in horror as a grinning mummy was
revealed with its knees drawn nearly up to its chin and kept in
position there by a thin piece of coir cinnet.

Schwalbe bent down and examined the thing with keen interest, and
then, apparently satisfied with his inspection, began to bargain
with the specimen's father, who sat close beside it.  He was a
pleasant-looking old fellow, with a merry twinkle in his eye, but
was determined to sell his family relic at a good figure.

A price, however, was soon agreed upon, and with a smiling face the
vendor took his departure, and the doctor, lifting his prize
carefully in his arms, took it over to his Golgotha--the big house
at the other end of the stockade.

That afternoon the savant was fairly brimming over with good
spirits.  A cheerful, child-like simplicity underlay his outwardly
grave bearing, and Rogers now began to take a liking to him.  In
the evening he played dominoes with his guest, and spoke hopefully
of returning to Europe with his collection, instead of sending it
on in advance.  Smoking a long, highly-ornamented pipe the while,
he gave Rogers many interesting particulars of his experiences on
the island.  His collection of skulls, he thought, was about the
best ever secured in Oceania, but he deplored the fact of his
having had to reject two out of every four offered to him, the
crude and inartistic manner in which they had been damaged by heavy
iron-wood clubs when their original owners were in the flesh
seriously depreciating their value, if not rendering them utterly
useless as specimens.

Long before breakfast on the following morning the spectacled
scientist was bustling about the house, and as soon as Rogers
appeared he greeted him briskly, and asked him to come with him to
his Golgotha--a party of his "gustomers" were awaiting him.

As they drew near the big house Rogers saw that the party consisted
of but two persons--a man and a woman.  Arranged in a row before
them were five skulls.  Though quite black-skinned and woolly-
haired, like most Papuan-blooded people, both man and woman seemed
a quiet, gentle-voiced pair, and were, the doctor said, a betrothed
couple.  They smiled pleasantly at him as he examined their wares,
and sat patiently awaiting him to make an offer.  The man, whose
mop of fuzzy hair could never be approached by the Paderewski heads
of this world, let his eyes wander alternately from the doctor to
the object of his affections sitting beside him.  To him the price
he obtained meant much, for the father of his fiancée was a hard-
hearted old fellow, who insisted upon one hundred sticks of tobacco
over and above the usual dowry of ten hogs.  The woman, too,
watched the scientist with timid, anxious eyes.  Two of the skulls
belonged to defunct female members of her family; of the other
three, two had belonged to men who had fallen to her lover's spear
a year before, and the third was that of a despised nephew.

At last the scientist made a bargain for the two biggest of the
relics for eighty sticks of tobacco and two butcher knives; and
with joy irradiating their dusky faces the lovers followed him to
his house and received payment.  And Rogers, as he watched them
walk smiling away, carrying the rejected relics with him, saw the
woman give the man a sly hug as they went through the gate--the
happy day for her was not far off now.

A few evenings later Rogers, who was tired of idleness, asked his
host to give him something to do.  They were sitting playing
dominoes at the time.

"Very well," he answered, "but you haf berhaps nodiced," and he
looked at the young man through his gold-rimmed spectacles, "dot I
alvays keeps der door of mine vork-room glosed.  Dot vas pecause I
did not vant you to zee me at mine business undil you vas sdrong.
Und dere is nod a goot smell from dose gemmicals.  But to-morrow
you shall zee me at my vork, und if you vill help me I vill be glad
mit.  Bud you moost nod dell any beobles vat my businees is.  So?"

Rogers promised he would not.

At breakfast next morning he was disturbed by loud, triumphant
shouts outside.  It was not the first time that he had heard
similar outcries, and he now asked his friend, who was placidly
drinking his coffee, what was the cause.

"Dot is some gustomer," he replied, briefly; "ven ve haf finished
preakfast you shall zee, und den you und me vill do some vork at
mine business."

But before the meal was over, the clamour became so great that
Rogers followed his host to the door, which the latter threw open,
revealing a number of natives who were gathered outside.

Some two or three of these now entered, and the sailor saw that one
of them carried a gore-stained basket of coconut leaf.  This his
German friend opened, and took out a freshly-severed human head!

Grasping it by the reddish-brown woolly hair, the investigator of
turtles' morality took it to the door to obtain a better light, and
examined the thing carefully.  His scrutiny seemed to be
satisfactory, for, placing it in a large enamelled dish on the long
table, he opened a trade-box and gave the vendor some tobacco,
powder, musket-balls, and fish-hooks.

"What in God's name are you going to do with it?" asked Rogers, in
horror-stricken tones.

The German looked at him in placid surprise without answering; then
he abruptly told the natives to go away.

"Come back to our preakfast," he said, motioning to Rogers to go
first; "ven ve haf finished den I vill show you vat I do mit dis
thing--dot is pard of my business here in Gerrit Deny's Island."

And then, to the young man's horror and disgust, he learned that
the man he had looked upon as a mere skull collector, also bought
and cured human heads.  That was one of the departments of his
business.

"Vy," he said quietly, "vot harm is there?  Dese black beobles do
kill each oder and eat de podies of dose who are slain.  I buy der
heads--dot is if der skulls are not broken mit bullets or clubs.
Und I vork very hart to make dose heads look nice and goot, und I
sell dem to the museums in France und Russia, und Englandt und
Germany.  I dell you, my friendt, it is a goot business.  Ach! you
may spit on der groundt as mooch as you like, my friendt, but I
dell you dot is so.  Und I dell you some more--it vas at von dime a
grade business in New Zealandt, und a goot many of your English
officer beobles make blenty of money buying dose schmoked Maori
heads und selling dem to der Gontinental scientists.  But by and by
der British Governments put it down, and now der business in Maori
heads is finished."

"I'd hang every one connected--" began Rogers, when the blue-eyed
German stopped him.

"So! but der heads are DEAD!  Und dey are vorth money.  Blenty of
beoble vant to study such dings as dese.  Und dese heads from
Gerrit Deny's Island are prim full of inderest to savants, for they
presend a remarkable illusdradion of the arporeal descend of man.
Und I don'd care a tarn apout durdles--dot vos a lie I dold to your
captain; durdles haf no inderesd vor me.  Now, better you trink
your coffee und come und see my gollection, before some more
gustomers gome in."

Feeling as if he had eaten too much breakfast, Rogers followed his
host back to the big room; and then lifting off the head of one of
the casks, the German showed him eight or ten of the nightmares in
a pickle of alum and saltpetre.

"Dot is der first brocess," he explained, briefly.

In the next cask--the second process--were others, and more in the
third.  These latter were all ready to be put into the "smoke-box,"
a contrivance so designed that after being thoroughly dried by the
smoke of a wood fire they were ready for a final bath in
pyroligneous acid.  That was the last process.

"Come und zee mein schmoke-box."

Rogers followed him to the corner of the stockade where the smoke-
box was erected.  A withered old Manilla man, with a face like an
anthropoid ape, was attending to the fire, and moved away to let
him look inside.  One look was enough--a dozen or so of the horrors
hung suspended from the cross-beams, and seemed to grin at him
through the faint blue smoke, their nostrils distended with pieces
of stick and eyelids sewn together over the cotton-wool-stuffed
sockets.

                          * * * * *

When the Palestine arrived six weeks later, Rogers bade his host a
hurried but fervent goodbye, and said he'd like to see him give up
such a beastly business.

"Ach!  I cannot help mineselfs.  I musd stay here mit my gollection
for some dimes yet.  But I am quide satisfied--my gollection is a
goot one.  My friendt, if you could at somedime see dose heads in
Europe you vill see that Ludwig Schwalbe gan preserve heads more
better den dose Maoris did.  Ven dey are exhibited in a glass case
mit, dey vill look mosd beautiful."

A year or so afterwards Denison read in a colonial paper that the
distinguished German naturalist, Dr. Ludwig Schwalbe, had left the
Bismarck Islands for Singapore in a small schooner, on May 2nd,
18--.  About ten days later she was found floating, bottom upward,
off the Admiralty Group, near New Guinea.  "The unfortunate
gentleman had with him an interesting and valuable ethnographical
collection, the labour of ten years."




THE TREASURE OF DON BRUNO


Many hundreds of tales have been written about the discovery of
buried treasure, and the wise people of to-day laugh and shake
their heads when some boy, pondering over an exciting treasure
story in which doubloons, and pieces of eight, and pirates, and
buccaneers inflame his imagination, asks some one "if any part of
it at all is true."  Yet, although ninety-nine out of a hundred of
such tales may be, and probably are, the purest fiction, treasure
HAS been found, not only in the haunts of the old-time pirates of
the Caribbean Sea and the Spanish Main, but in both the North and
South Pacific Oceans; and the story of the finding of the treasure
of Bruno do Bustamente on an island in the North Pacific is true--
true in every detail as here narrated, save that the name of one of
those who found it has been changed.  He was an Englishman, and
less than thirty years ago was well known in the Southern Colonies
as the chief officer of a steamer trading between Sydney, Hobart,
and Melbourne.  At that time he was a young man of twenty-six.

                          * * * * *

In those days there was a line of mail steamers running between
Sydney and Panama.  They were rivalled in size and speed only by
the Peninsula and Oriental Company's steamers, and were named the
Rakaia, Mataura, Ruahine, and Kaikoura.  To be appointed to one of
these liners was considered a distinction, and therefore young
Forrest--for so I will call him--naturally felt elated when he was
offered the berth of first officer on one of the new liners.  He
therefore was not long in making up his mind; and bidding goodbye
to the captain and officers of the City of Hobart, he went on board
the mail steamer, and immediately tackled the duties of his new
position.

                          * * * * *

Two months had elapsed, and the steamer was in Panama Harbour
coaling for the return trip to Sydney, when Forrest was sent for by
the agent on some business that required his presence at the
office.  A number of passengers for the Sydney steamer had just
arrived by train from Aspinall, or Colon, as the Americans call it,
on the Atlantic side of the isthmus, and the agent's offices were
thronged.

Forrest was anxious to return as quickly as possible, and, sending
in his name by a clerk, waited for five minutes or so with a fair
amount of patience.  After taking in his name to the agent, the
clerk had returned and said that Mr. Macpherson would see Mr.
Forrest presently.  At the end of ten minutes Forrest, pacing
angrily to and fro on the pavement outside, strode in again, and in
sharp tones asked the clerk to tell Mr. Macpherson that he could
not possibly remain another five minutes.

The clerk disappeared into the inner office, and Mr. Macpherson
himself came out.

Now this Macpherson was a man to whom Forrest had an intense
dislike.  He had been sent out from England to take charge of the
Panama office, and during the passage over from Sydney his
offensive and haughty manner to his fellow-passengers and the
ship's officers had caused him to be heartily detested.  He was a
measly-looking, insignificant little creature, with very weak eyes,
but a hideously strong Scotch dialect.  And yet his wife--who had
come over with him in the Rakaia--was the prettiest and sweetest
little Scotswoman imaginable.

The moment Forrest saw him he endeavoured to get through the crowd
of people in the front office, who, seeing by his uniform he was an
officer of the Rakaia, made way for him.

                          * * * * *

"What is it, Mr. Macpherson?" said Forrest, shortly.

"I'll no' hae ye addreesin' me in such a disrespectfu' way, young
man.  An' I'll no hae ye stormin' and fumin' and sendin' in
messages for me to come oot tae ye when ye ken I've varra important
beesnis ta attend to."

Forrest was not a bad-tempered man, but the audible titter that ran
round the office angered him almost beyond endurance.  Gulping down
his wrath, he said--

"You sent for me--on an important matter, you said.  We have, as
you know, only twelve hours to finish coaling in.  Tell me what it
is.  I have no time to waste here."

"Hoo daur ye talk to me like that," and the little man's watery
eyes shone green with rage.  "Weel, it's just this.  Ma wife tells
me that there is a watter-colour peecture belonging ta ME hanging
up in your cabin.  Ye'll just understand I'll hae no nonsense aboot
it, and sae I sent for ye ta tell ye so mysel'; ye'll please send
it ta me directly."

"You infernal little sweep!"

The passengers fell back hastily on either side, and Mr. Macpherson
tried to get back into his office, but he was too late--Forrest had
got him by the collar.  His temper had quite mastered him now, and
his face was black with passion.

"You d----d miserable little beast!  So you only sent for me to
insult me?  Well, you've done it.  And now I'm going to take it out
of you.  Will any one lend me a cane?"

There was a quick response of "Si, señor," and a short, nuggety-
looking man, who looked like a Spaniard, handed Forrest a light
Malacca cane.

Quick as lightning Forrest pulled the little agent over his knees,
and then for a minute or so he belaboured him savagely.  Then he
stood him up on his trembling legs again, and, dragging him through
the crowded front office to the street door, he gave him a kick and
sent him flying head first out on to the pavement.

"By Jove, sir!" said a big fat man to Forrest, as he stood glaring
contemptuously at the prostrate figure, "you'd better get aboard
again.  Served the cheeky little beast rightly, I SAY.  Gad, he
won't be able to sit down for a month; but I think he's stunned.
Hallo, here's a couple of aguazils.  Look sharp, sir, and get
away."

Muttering his thanks, Forrest proceeded on his way to the railway
wharf, where a launch awaited to take him over to Flamenco, where
the Rakaia was coaling.

Just as he had reached the wharf he heard hurried footsteps behind
him, and turning, he saw four policemen, who at once arrested him,
and in half an hour he was in prison--the result of hanging pretty
little Mrs. Macpherson's gift, the "watter-colour peecture," in his
cabin instead of stowing it away in his chest, as she had desired
him.  At dinner-time his captain came, and Forrest learned he was
in for more serious trouble than he had apprehended.  The little
agent, so the captain said, was stated to be dying from a cracked
skull, and Forrest would have to stay in prison till he was tried
on a charge of attempted murder.

Two days afterwards the Rakaia was gone, and Forrest lay in prison
cursing his luck, hoping that it wasn't true about the fractured
skull, and wondering, if it were, if he should propose to the widow
after he came out of prison.

On the third day his gaolers told him that a gentleman wanted to
see him.  He had had plenty of visitors, principally Englishmen,
from the Consul down to merchant's clerks.  They all tried to cheer
him up, but said that little Macpherson, who was still very bad,
meant to press the charge of attempted murder, and that the Consul
could do nothing for him.  However, he was glad to have another
visitor.

The moment he entered Forrest recognised him.  He was the little,
square-built Spanish gentleman who had lent him the cane.

"Good-day, señor," he said, extending his hand; and then, in a low
voice, he added in English, "What is this fellow's name?" pointing
to the gaoler who stood in the corridor.

"Manuel."

Calling him over to him, the Spaniard put in his hand a ten-dollar
gold piece, and said--

"Friend Manuel, I want to have half an hour's talk with my friend
here.  I am interested in him.  Every time I come here I will beg
of you to accept a ten-dollar piece from me."

Señor Manuel discreetly withdrew, and the Spaniard, taking a little
stool, placed it in front of Forrest, who sat on a bench, and
commenced to talk to him in English.

                          * * * * *

"Señor Forrest," he said, "I desire to assist you, and in two days,
if you will accept my assistance, you will be a free man.  In the
State of Colombia a little money goes a long way with those in
power.  Do you understand?"

The Englishman was about to thank him, when he stopped him with a
smile.

"Be patient, please, and listen, and I will tell you why I desire
to see you free.  First of all, though, answer me one question.
Will you, when free, enter into my service for one year, at a
salary to be named by you?"

"What is the nature of the employment?"

"I wish you to take the command of a vessel."

"Ah!" and Forrest instantly jumped to the conclusion that his
visitor was connected with some revolutionary project.  "I am not a
naval officer; I am in the merchant's service."

"Precisely; I know that.  But the service upon which you will be
employed is one that, while you--and I--may be exposed to a certain
amount of danger and run risks, does not need the training of a
naval officer, and it is a perfectly honourable and legitimate
adventure.  Does that satisfy you?"

"Perfectly."

"I was informed, Mr. Forrest, that you are a skilful navigator."

He was silent for a while, and the Englishman took a good look at
him.  Not a sailor, thought Forrest, looking at his small, well-
kept hands.  Perhaps he was a soldier.  He certainly had the
bearing of one.  Presently he looked up and caught the young
seaman's eye.  He smiled pleasantly, and stroked his pointed beard
and iron-grey moustache.

"You are wondering who I am.  I should have been more courteous.
My name is Pedro do Bustamente.  Until six months ago I was a
captain of infantry in the Spanish army in garrison at Malaga.  My
father then died--in Cuenca.  At his death certain property and
documents came into my possession.  I read the documents, and,
placing faith in what I read, I sold the property, threw up my
commission, took passage to Colon, and, had it not been for my
witnessing your beating of the little man, would now be on my way
to San Francisco or some American seaport, where I could buy a
small vessel for the purpose I have in view.  But, señor, I like
your face.  I believe you to be an honourable man, and that a good
Fate designed our meeting.  Goodbye for the present; in less than
forty-eight hours you will be out of Panama."

"Well, that's queer!" muttered Forrest, as he watched the
obsequious Manuel bow his visitor out.  "What the deuce does he
want me for?  Any way, I'll go--that is if I don't get stabbed or
garotted here.  I wonder if that poor little beggar is really
dying?"

                          * * * * *

But although Mr. Macpherson was a long way off dying, both the
English and American Consuls knew that Forrest was in for a long
imprisonment, and so did Captain Pedro do Bustamente.  And
Bustamente also knew that by judicious expenditure he could be
quickly got out.  So he lost no time.

At midnight as Forrest lay asleep, Manuel came to his cell, awoke
him, and handed him a note.  It read--

"Put on the cloak and follow Manuel."

The gaoler handed him a heavy woollen poncho, and motioned him to
follow.  In another minute they were out of the prison and walking
quietly down the street.  For half an hour they continued on in the
same direction, till they came to where a man was waiting, holding
three mules.  It was Bustamente.  Without a word they mounted and
jogged quietly along, following the coast-line northwards.  At
daylight they drew up beside a small roadside fonda, and, to
Forrest's surprise, Bustamente said, "Let us halt and get some
breakfast; these people here are expecting us.  There is no fear of
any pursuit--that is, if money has any virtue."  As they ate,
Bustamente told Forrest that he had learnt English in England,
having been for many years on the suite of the Spanish Minister in
London.

All that day they rode northwards, and at nightfall entered a
little seaport town on the shore of Parita Bay.  Here Manuel left
them, and Bustamente and Forrest in another ten hours were on board
an American steamer bound to San Francisco.  Bustamente had
arranged with the captain of the steamer to call for them on her
way down the coast.

                          * * * * *

As the clumsy old side-wheeler Nebraska steamed along the coast of
Costa Rica, the Spaniard and Forrest sat in their deck cabin, and
Bustamente put his hand in his bosom and pulled out a bundle of
papers.

"Now, my friend, I can talk.  I think you will find my story
interesting."

And it was interesting.  Briefly told, it was this:  In 1850 his
father, Bruno do Bustamente, a Spaniard by birth, was the richest
merchant at Mazatlan, on the coast of Mexico, and traded largely
with the East.  The Governor of the province of Durango, whose
hostility he had incurred, had him imprisoned on a trumped-up
charge, and from that day he was the prey of the Mexican
authorities, who sought to subject him to a continuous process of
extortion and blackmail.  His wife was a Mexican lady of San Blas.
By her he had two children, a son and daughter.  The son, Pedro, he
had sent to Spain to enter the army.  Upon regaining his freedom
and paying a fine of 5,000 dollars to the Governor of Durango, he
determined to leave Mexico and return to Spain.  About this time
his wife died.  Quickly but cautiously, he realised upon his
various estates, and sold his vessels as well--all but one, a brig
of 120 tons, named the Bueno Esperanza.  The captain of this vessel
was an American named Devine, a man in whom he had the most
implicit confidence.  At that time there was but little gold coin
in use in that part of Mexico, and he had in many cases to take
payment for the properties he had sold in silver Mexican dollars.
Of these he received something like ninety thousand, and about
twenty-five thousand dollars in gold coin.  The money was secured
in bags made of green hide, and conveyed from time to time on board
the Bueno Esperanza.  Fearing every moment that he would be
detained, and his money seized by the Mexican authorities, he gave
out that he was despatching the brig on one of her usual voyages to
San Blas, and that his daughter, Engracia, was going there also to
visit her mother's relatives.  Accompanied by her nurse, the little
girl went on board, and Don Bruno had the satisfaction of seeing
the brig get safely away without suspicion arising as to the
treasure she carried.  But instead of San Blas, the Bueno Esperanza
was bound to Manilla, in the Philippine Islands, where Devine was
to await the arrival of his master.

A month later, Don Bruno, having disposed of the remainder of the
property, followed them in an American trading schooner he had
chartered for the purpose, and after a quick passage arrived safely
at Manilla, and, to his dismay and grief, learned that nothing had
been seen of the Bueno Esperanza, which should have reached Manilla
a month before him.

Month after month passed by, and then the distracted merchant,
broken in health and fortune, returned to end his days in his
native town of Cuenca.  His death was very sudden, and his son
Pedro learnt from the old housekeeper that it occurred on the same
day on which he had received a letter, bearing a foreign postmark.
Upon reading this letter he became terribly agitated.  Telling his
housekeeper that he desired to write to his son in Malaga, she left
him, and upon returning a quarter of an hour afterwards she found
him with his head upon the table, quite dead.  Under his cold hand
was a sheet of paper, on which were scrawled a few words to his
son.  Death had smitten him too quickly to write more, and beside
it lay the letter bearing the foreign postmark.

These were given to Captain Bustamente as soon as he reached the
house a few days later.

                          * * * * *

"Here are my father's last words," said the Spaniard, and taking up
a paper he read--


"The money will be there.  Seek for it.  I command you in the name
of the Holy Virgin to give Christian burial to the bones of your
sister.  I pray--"


The remaining two or three lines were undecipherable.

"And now," continued Bustamente, "read this--the letter he received
an hour before his death.  It is in English, and is dated just one
year and two months ago.  The enclosure is in Spanish."


                                           "SHIP 'SADIE WILMOT,'
                                           "New Bedford, U.S.A.,
                                               "6th March, 1861.

"MR. BRUNO DO BUSTAMENTE,
"Cuenca, Spain.

"DEAR SIR,--The ship Sadie Wilmot, of which I am master, while
cruising for sperm whales between Mindanao (Philippine Islands) and
the Pelews, on the 14th August, 1860, picked up a ship's boat
containing the dead bodies of five persons, who had evidently died
from thirst and starvation.  In a tin box found in the boat was the
enclosed letter to you, and the sum of one thousand dollars in
Mexican gold coin.  If you can establish a claim to this I am
prepared to forward same, less charges.  My second mate, who is a
native of the Azores, read the letter addressed to you.  I believe
that the island mentioned is uninhabited.  I was too far to the
westward when the boat was found to go back and see if any of the
crew had remained there.  Please reply to A. Wilmot, New Bedford.

                                                      "Yours truly,

                                                     "AMOS WILMOT."


Forrest handed him back the letter, and then Bustamente slowly
unfolded a single sheet of paper, written upon in pencil.  On the
top of the sheet was written in English--


"In case of my death I ask that this may be sent to Don Bruno do
Bustamente, Cuenca, Spain, or to his son Pedro, at Malaga."


Then in Spanish--


'Wrecked on an uninhabited island in lat. 7° 29' N. long. 160°42'
E.  Six of the crew drowned, also owner's child, Engracia
Bustamente, and her nurse.  The body of the former was buried at a
spot above high-water mark, about 300 yards from a large round knob
of rock, covered with vines on the eastern point, and bearing E. by
N. from the grave.  No provisions were saved except some jerked
beef, packed in hide bags.  Were four months on the island.  Left
there July 3rd, in open boat, to try and reach Manilla.

                                                       "DEVINE."


With flashing eyes the Spaniard sprang to his feet and placed his
hands on Forrest's shoulders.

"Ah, that brave man, that Devine!  Cannot you understand?  These
words of his were written so that my father, if ever they came to
his hand, would know that the treasure had been saved and hidden.
'The jerked beef in hide bags.'  The money was in hide bags!  And I
think that instead of my poor sister being buried on the spot he
speaks of, there we will find it."

He walked up and down the cabin quickly, and then resumed.

"And then, see how careful he has been to avoid telling the name of
the brigantine, where she was from and where bound to.  He knew
that my father would return to Spain after he had given up all hope
of the Bueno Esperanza; that in Cuenca, his birthplace, he would
spend the rest of his days; he feared to say more.  My good friend,
I am certain that unless my father spoke of those bags of bullock-
hide to people in Manilla, not a living soul but you and I know
that the brig carried a hundred and fifteen thousand dollars in
gold and silver.  And we will go to this island and get them."

Their course of action was soon decided upon.  By the sale of the
little property he had inherited from old Don Bruno his son had
realised nearly a thousand pounds.  Out of this he had paid nearly
two hundred pounds, the greater part of which had gone to effect
Forrest's escape, and with something like seven hundred pounds
($3,500) he and Forrest landed in San Francisco.

A week afterward they had chartered a small fore-and-aft vessel of
fifty tons, the Marion Price, for five hundred dollars a month,
provisioned her for six months, and with three Hawaiian natives for
a crew, sailed out of the Golden Gate for the island.

                          * * * * *

On the twenty-seventh day out the little Marion Price passed the
first of the Caroline Group, a chain of low, sandy atolls, covered
densely with coconuts.  That night Forrest hove-to, for if the
position of the island they sought was given correctly in Devine's
account of the wreck they were not more than forty miles to the
eastward of it.

At daylight Forrest stood away to the westward, and sent one of the
Hawaiians up aloft; and whilst he and Bustamente were at breakfast
they heard the cry of "Land, ho!"

The breeze was steady and of good heart, and at eleven o'clock the
Price was within a mile, and the two white men were scanning the
strange island with interest.

                          * * * * *

It was, for its smallness--being barely two miles in circumference--
of considerable height.  On three sides gray coral cliffs rose
steep-to from the surf that lashed and foamed unceasingly at their
base; for only on the lee-side was the island protected by a
fringing reef.  In some places the summits of the wall of cliff
sunk to perhaps fifty or sixty feet, in others it rose to nearly
two hundred or more, but preserved the same grim and savage
monotony of appearance throughout.  Right to the very verge the
broken, jagged pinnacles of coral were concealed by a dense,
impenetrable growth of short, stunted scrub and masses of vine and
creepers.  Here and there these creepers had grown over the face of
the cliff itself and hung down over the boiling surf below like
monstrous carpets of green and yellow, in other places they
clambered up and wrapt around sharp pinnacles of rock, so that from
the deck of the Marion Price these pinnacles looked like densely-
verdured and neatly-trimmed pine-trees.

"Small hope for a man did a ship strike here," said Forrest, with
an involuntary shudder, looking at the wild seeth of the breakers
as they dashed in quick succession against the beetling heights,
and fell back in frothy, streaming clouds and whirling flakes of
foam.  "Ah, we're opening up the south point now, and there's a
long reef running out there.  Get aloft, one of you fellows, and
see if there is a break in it anywhere."

As the schooner stood out again they got a better view of the
island, and could see that although on the weather side it was clad
in short, impenetrable scrub, it sloped gradually to the westward,
and presently the man aloft called out that he could see the tops
of coconut trees showing up over the other vegetation, and then:
"There is smooth water, sir; I see beach and passage, too."

Rounding the point of the long stretch of reef, Forrest hauled up
and ran close in again, and then his arm was seized by the
Spaniard.

"Look!" and he pointed to the shore.

                          * * * * *

On the eastern point of the island, which they had now opened well
out, there stood out in bold relief from the points and knobs of
vine-covered rock, a huge, round boulder, flattened at the apex,
but perfected in the symmetry of its outlines by a closely-fitting
mantle of vivid green.

The two men grasped each other's hands in silence.  It was the rock
spoken of by Devine.

Another half-hour and Forrest had let go his anchor in five
fathoms, on a bottom of white sand, and taking one native, he and
his friend lowered the boat and pulled ashore.

                          * * * * *

The Bueno Esperanza had evidently struck on the long, fringing reef
before mentioned, as the first objects they saw were some spars, a
lower-mast and a broken topsail yard, the ends of which were
protruding from a heaped-up pile of loose coral slabs that the
action of the surf had backed up above high-water mark.  Further
along they could see a part of her decking and other wreckage.

The Spaniard leading, they clambered over the bank of stones and
sand, and directly in front of them they saw a grove of coconuts,
beneath which were the ruins of a deck-house and a quantity of
planking, barrels, ironwork and other material saved from the
brigantine.  There for two years the wreckage had lain undisturbed,
blistering and cracking under the rays of a tropical sun, ever
since the hapless men that had tenanted the deck-house had left its
shelter to die of the horrors of thirst in a small open boat.

                          * * * * *

Fifty feet or so from the rotting, tumbledown deckhouse was that
which they sought, the grave of the little Spanish child; a rude,
square structure of coral slab, over which the kindly creepers had
crept and bound lovingly together.

Pedro do Bustamente, baring his head, knelt for a moment and prayed
for the soul of the little sister he had never seen since they had
played together in the days of his childhood.

Then, by a motion of his hand, he directed the Hawaiian sailor to
cut away the binding creepers from the stones.

In a few minutes this was done, and the three men rapidly removed
the small slabs of loose coral, and then the sandy nature of the
soil rendered the rest of their task easy.

The coffin of the little girl had been constructed very solidly,
and as a protection from decay had been covered with copper taken
from the wreck.

After carefully lifting it out and placing it aside, Forrest, at
the Spaniard's request, made an examination of the bottom of the
grave.  He was soon satisfied that it had contained nothing else
but that which they had taken from it.

To his surprise Pedro showed no disappointment, and asked him in
quiet tones if he would help him to carry the coffin to the boat.

This was done, and they returned to the schooner.  Placing the
coffin on the cabin table and covering it with a flag, the two men
came on deck again.

"My friend," said the Spaniard, "now that that duty is done, let us
get the treasure."

"Where shall we look for it?"

"There," said Bustamente, pointing to the great round green mass
outlined clearly before them, "three hundred yards east by north
from the grave!"

Taking with them the three Hawaiians, who were provided with long,
heavy knives to cut through the scrub, they returned to the shore.

It took them some time to clear a way, but at last they stood at
the foot of the great round boulder.  A thorough examination
revealed nothing in the way of any cave or hollow anywhere about
the foot or sides.

With great difficulty the two white men, by clinging to the vines,
succeeded in gaining the top, and immediately discovered that the
flattened summit of the rock was in reality a large depression in
the centre, over which the luxuriant creepers had grown and formed
a thick network.

Standing in the centre they found that, although the bed of vines
sank under their feet, there was still a hollow space between them
and the bottom.  Then the Hawaiians were called up and set to work
slashing the vines all round the edge of the miniature crater with
their knives.

Then the five men, hauling on the heavy mass, dragged it to the
edge and tumbled it over the side, and Bustamente, with an excited
face, jumped down into the hollow, and sank up to his knees in the
accumulation of dead leaves and débris from the vines.

In a moment he plunged his hands amongst this and groped about.
Then he looked up.

"It is here!"

Forrest and a native sprang down after him.

The moment Forrest's feet touched the bottom Pedro's calmness gave
way, and in his wild excitement he threw his arms around his
comrade and embraced him.  Releasing him, he turned to the native
sailor--

"Clear away these dead leaves."

There was barely standing room for them to work in; and as they had
neither bags nor baskets, the sailors took off their shirts and
threw them down to Pedro and Forrest, who quickly filled them with
débris and then passed it up to the men above, and as they worked
they could feel under their feet the rotted hide bags giving way
and bursting under their weight; and as the last shirtful of
rubbish was collected the native sailor dragged up a piece of hide
bagging, clinging to the inside of which were some Mexican sun
dollars, stained and discoloured.

And then, tearing away the uppermost side of the rotting bags of
hide, there lay at their feet the lost treasure of Bruno do
Bustamente, just as his faithful captain had placed it in the
hollow rock two years before.  So rotten and decayed were the
topmost layer of bags, that the contents, under the pressure of
their feet, had spread out and formed a thick and even surface of
silver coins, which hid from view the bags beneath.

For an hour the two white men and one native sailor worked
collecting the loose Mexican dollars together; and then, whilst two
of the sailors were sent back to the schooner for some canvas
needles, palms and twine, Forrest, clambering to the top again, was
passed up handful after handful of money, which he poured out on
the rock beside him.

As soon as the sailors returned, the five men set to work at the
canvas, cutting it up and sewing it into rough bags, into which the
loose coin was placed and sewn up.  Then they descended again.

The rest of the bags, with careful handling, were taken safely out,
and then they came to eight smaller packages, which proved to be
wooden boxes covered with hide.  Taking a hatchet, Bustamente
knocked the outside covering off one, and then prized open the lid.
It contained gold.

Securing it firmly again, the eight boxes were lifted out and
placed on the rock beside the bags.

Then, satisfying themselves that all the treasure was secured, they
had a hurried meal, and each man picking up a box or bag, they all
made their way in single file back to the beach, and returned again
and again till the last load had been brought down and put in the
boat.

It was dark before their work was finished, and then the two white
men went below to the cabin again.  Around them lay the bags and
boxes of gold and silver, and the light from the lamp fell upon the
flag-covered coffin of the little Spanish girl.

"Poor little one," murmured Pedro do Bustamente, placing his hand
tenderly on the flag, "thou shalt rest beside our father in Spain."

                          * * * * *

That night they opened the boxes of gold and counted the money.
Each box contained three thousand dollars, and in one, a little
larger than the rest, they found a paper written by Devine, which
gave a detailed account of the wreck of the Bueno Esperanza, and
concluded by saying that he had opened the largest of the boxes,
which contained £4,000 and had taken from it a thousand dollars,
for it was his intention to leave the island and endeavour to reach
Manilla, where he expected to find Don Bruno awaiting him.  They
could then charter a vessel and return to the island for the
treasure.

As Forrest surmised, the Bueno Esperanza had run ashore at night on
the long horn of reef stretching out from the south point.  The sea
was fairly smooth at the time, but the ship ground heavily on the
coral; and seeing no hope of floating her, Devine and his crew
proceeded to save all they could.  The treasure was safely landed
at daylight, and then the sea rose, and the ship commenced to break
up.  In returning to the shore both boats were capsized by a huge
sea, and six men drowned from the mate's boat, and the Mexican
nurse and the little Engracia, who were in the captain's boat,
were, although rescued from drowning, so badly injured by the
coral, that they died from exhaustion the next day.  The nurse was
buried on the beach, and the little girl, who lingered longest, in
the grove of palms.

                          * * * * *

After reading this sorrowful record the two men proceeded to open
and count the bags of silver.  In all it amounted to ninety-three
thousand Mexican and Spanish dollars.

The next morning Bustamente called the three Hawaiians aft, and
told them that on the arrival of the schooner at Manilla he would
give them five hundred dollars each over and above their wages; but
he asked them to swear secrecy.

Kahola, a huge broad-shouldered native from the island of Oahu,
looked intently into the Spaniard's face, and then, bidding his
fellow-countrymen stand back, he said, gravely--

"What I swear, those two men he swear too.  If you please, sir, you
wait till I get something."

He walked for'ard and disappeared below, returning in a minute or
two with a book, whose size was only surpassed by its dirty
appearance.

Standing before Bustamente, the Hawaiian saluted, beckoned to the
two others to stand beside him, and held out the book to the
Spaniard.

"All right, sir, now.  You go ahead and swear me and this two man
here on book."

Taking the volume from him, the white man opened it.  It was in a
language utterly unknown to him.  He called to Forrest, who was
steering, and asked him what it was.

Forrest shook his head.  "What book is that, Kahola?"

The seaman looked at him in mild surprise.

"That Bible in my country language, sir."

Forrest grasped the situation at once, and rapidly explained the
man's wishes to Bustamente.

The Spaniard nodded gravely, and took off his cap; the Hawaiians
already held their battered old fala hats under their arms, which
were crossed over their broad and naked chests.  With their dark
eyes fixed upon his face, they waited.  He raised the book.

"Will you, Kahola, and you, Liho, and you, Bob, swear to me, Pedro
do Bustamente, to speak to no man about the money on board this
ship till you return to your own country, or till such time as I
and Captain Forrest shall fix upon?"

Kahola conversed rapidly with his countrymen for a brief space.
Then, with gravely respectful demeanour, but intense earnestness,
he said--

"I think, sir, all us man here swear.  But, sir, it you please, me
and my countrymen like you swear something too, first."

"What would you have me swear, Kahola?" said Bustamente.

"Me and my countrymen like you swear, sir, on this, good book, that
this money belong to you.  Suppose you no swear, me and this two
man here no swear.  We 'fraid you steal money."

The Spaniard raised the book to his lips.  "On this book, which is
the Word of God, and by the body of my dead sister, who lies in her
coffin beneath us, I swear to you Kahola, and you, Liho, and you,
Bob, that the money we have taken is mine.  It was once my
father's.  He is dead; but before he died he told me where to seek
for it."

"Good," said Kahola, and he reached out his brawny hand for the
book, and then added, in Hawaiian, "What is the father's shall be
the son's, for that is the law of God and the law of man."

So in his simple, earnest manner the big native sailor swore the
oath--

"I, Kahola, will no tell no man one word about the money.  Suppose
I tell something, I hope God kill me dead, and give me dam bad
luck."

Liho and Bob repeated the same words, and then with smiling faces
they shook hands with Bustamente and Forrest, and turned to again
to their duty.

At noon the island had sunk to a purple speck on the horizon, and
Pedro and Forrest, with joy bubbling in their hearts, were sitting
on the deck talking.

                          * * * * *

"My dear comrade," said Pedro, placing his hand affectionately on
Forrest's shoulder, "you must--you SHALL do as I wish.  Both you
and I are alone in the world.  Let us be comrades always.  See now,
it was so intended by God for us to meet, and therefore fifty
thousand dollars of the money is thine; that will leave me sixty-
four thousand."

Forrest began to remonstrate, but Pedro placed his hand on his
mouth.  "But that I had found such a true man, I may have never
succeeded in finding it."

And this is the story of the finding of the lost treasure of Don
Bruno do Bustamente.



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