« AnkstesnisTęsti »
IN THE SHADOW OF FANEUHI
BY CHARLES BERNARD NORDHOFF
TOWARD evening the wind died away marked; 'I've collected in a good to a little breeze from the southeast; many parts of the world, but I never barely enough to fill the sails of the had to deal with such people as these schooner and ruffle gently the calm Kanakas. They're liars and thieves, surface of the sea. Banks of cloud, every one of them, and that overgrown gold-rimmed and flushing in the sunset, rascal Teriiaro is the worst of the lot. were piled above the horizon, and be. He took me in for a while — I was neath them loomed a purplish blur of quite warmed up over his yarns of a land — the skyline of Huahine, first burial-cave at Opoa. of the Leeward Islands.
'I was sent here to get together a lot I was stretched on the after-deck, of weapons and bowls and ornaments listening to the faint lap and gurgle of - genuine old stuff. Nowadays it is water under the counter. The sound of all stowed away in the burial-caves; subdued laughter came from the fore, there must be hundreds of them scatcastle, breaking a murmur of voices tered through the islands, but if you speaking softly in the native tongue. think it is easy to find one, try it some The ship's bell sounded twice, seemed day! I don't want to carry away bones to hesitate, and rang twice again. A the French government won't allow sailor in dungarees and a ragged straw that; all I want is the ethnological stuff hat came aft to replace the helmsman, and measurements of a series of old who yawned as he stepped aside from skulls. Living specimens don't prove the wheel, stretching huge bare arms much, because the modern native is in a gesture of relief. I noticed for saturated with white blood. Even the first time that he was of a type rare- among the natives the secrets of the ly seen in the islands to-day: a hand's- burial-caves are closely guarded; I disbreadth taller than what we count a tall covered that after I'd wasted three man; superbly proportioned on a giant months without getting on the track of scale, and light-skinned as a Sicilian or one. By that time everyone on the Catalan.
beach knew what I was after, and that The white man beside me looked up I was offering a thousand francs to the with a scowl. He was a lean and man who would show me what I wantbilious gentleman, with eyebrows that ed to see. Then one morning Teriiaro twitched unpleasantly when he spoke, knocked at my door, shaky and blearand the air of perpetual discontent eyed at the end of a seven-day spree. that goes with a dyspeptic mouth. I He speaks a little English. used to wonder why the directors had ‘His proposition was simple: for a selected him for his task — the collec- thousand francs down and another tion of Polynesian material for the thousand when the job was finished to cases of an American museum.
my satisfaction, he would show me the ‘Have a look at that boy,' he re- burial-cave at Opoa — the biggest of
them all, he claimed. We were to run beside me, settling his back against the down to Raiatea by different boats, and rail, the collector rose to go below. The
, while I waited at Uturoa, he would go trader smiled behind his moustache. ahead to see that the coast was clear, 'Still croaking about his thousand bring out and hide all the stuff he could francs, eh?' he said, when the other carry, and return to take me around was gone."Teriiaro paid that long ago the island by night in his canoe. I - I lent him the money myself. I had to swear not to give him away. fancy he's been telling you what a lot
‘Jackson gave me a line on the boy. of thieves and liars the natives are I said I was considering him for a guide a conclusion based on a single expeto help me explore the interior of rience. No doubt he's right — the naRaiatea. Yes - he knew the island
tive does n't differ very much from well; people lived near Opoa; chiefs the rest of us. But Teriiaro, though since heathen times. Well, I took a he does drink a bit, is not a bad boy; chance. I waited at Uturoa and finally I've known his grandfather for twenty. Teriiaro came to tell me that he had years, and you won't come across a failed; years before, he had known the finer old chap. The men of the family cave, but now he could n't find it were hereditary high priests at Opoa perhaps a landslide had blocked it up. for centuries, and the missionaries still I was put out; he had taken my money suspect the old man of dabbling in and made a fool of me; but I raised heathenism. The boy was probably such a row about my thousand francs lying when he told this collector person that, when we got back to Tahiti, he he could n't find the cave; he admitted persuaded old Jackson — Ah, here's as much to me when he asked me to Jackson now.'
lend him the money to make good his A thin old man in pajamas was com- advance. I'll give you his side of the ing aft. His eyes of faded blue regarded story as he told it to me that day; you the world with a glance at once kindly can believe what
like the native and cynical; a short curved pipe – so yarn, at any rate, is the more enterpermanently affixed that it seemed as taining of the two. much a part of him as his nose pro- 'From the time of his birth, Teriiaro truded through the curtain of a white lived at the mouth of the valley of moustache. The manager of the Atoll Opoa, — at the foot of Faneuhi, the Trading Company was known to re- sacred mountain, - in the house of his move his pipe, now and then, in order grandfather, Matatua. There is not a to knock out the ashes and fill it; and drop of white blood in the family, which presumably it did not remain in his is of the highest aristocracy, as natives mouth when he slept; but at other go; you've seen the boy times it was to be seen in place, trailing bigger man, and lighter-colored, than a blue wisp of smoke, and lending to the run of them. Before the missionhis utterances pronounced between aries came, Opoa, on the island of teeth forever held apart by a quarter- Raiatea, was the holiest place in the inch of hard rubber -- an individual Eastern Pacific: Oro, the war-god, was quality. Old Jackson is a person of born there, and human sacrifices were considerable education, and probably brought from distant islands to be slain the most successful trader in eastern before the platform of rock in the grove Polynesia; and he knows more of the of ironwood trees. When a high chief native life than is considered good for died, his body, embalmed by rubbing a white man. As he sat down carefully with cocoanut oil and the juices of
herbs, was laid on the marae for the out into the darkness; sometimes the ceremonies which would admit his boy fell asleep, and awoke at daybreak spirit to Rohutu Noanoa — the Sweet- to find them gone and Matatua sleepScented Heaven. After that, the corpse ing heavily in his corner. Once, when was borne, secretly and by night, far the moon was in its last quarter and into the recesses of the valley, to a cave he could see dimly, he rose as they known only to the few who were its went out and followed secretly until he guardians. Nowadays the forest has saw them disappear in the forest where grown thick about the neglected marae, the skulls lie by the marae; but fear and the natives fear the place as the overcame him then, and he turned haunt of evil spirits, saying that the back. On those nights, fishermen on hunter of a wild pig or gatherer of fire- the barrier reef saw awesome things: wood who sets foot on that ground will glowing masses of flame, like pale be afflicted with a palsy, or break out comets, rushing down the mountainside; with loathsome sores like those of a fitful glares on the tree-tops, as of fires leper.
suddenly fed and as suddenly extin‘Matatua, the grandfather of Terii- guished; and sometimes, if the night aro, is a wizard of great repute among breeze blew strongly from the land, they the people. They believe that he can heard the faint deep throb of drums. foretell the future, invoke the spirits 'As Teriiaro grew older, his grandof the dead, and lay spells which cause father began to tell him stories of the those who incur his displeasure to old days: of forays against distant sicken and die. He alone on the island islands; of heroes, chiefs, and magic can subdue the fury of the fire in the
short club-like spears, fashUmuti, and by the power of his incan- ioned by wizards and hardened in tations pass unharmed — with those to fires kindled at the ever-burning oven whom he gives leave over the white- of Miru. The names of these omore, hot stones. The missionary at Uturoa, together with legends of the warriors to whom Matatua is a thorn in the who bore them, have lived from generflesh, came once to view this fire-walk- ation to generation in the islands ing; but he could make nothing of handed down in traditions like those it and said that it was devil's work - of Excalibur, or the magic sword of that Matatua was an unholy man, to Roland. be avoided like the devil himself. ‘Once the old man took the boy with Nevertheless, the people still come from him, far up into the valley, to gather great distances to consult Matatua - herbs. At a place where three great though secretly, for fear the missionary miro trees grew apart from the rest of might hear of it.
the forest, Matatua led the way to the ‘During the boyhood of Teriiaro, base of a cliff. Directing his grandson there were times of year when strange to bind dry cocoanut fronds for a torch, visitors came to the old man's house he moved aside a thin slab of stone, gray-haired men of stately carriage and disclosing a passage into the bowels slow speech. No one could say whence of the mountain. Presently they stood they came, and the boy — dozing on in a lofty cavern, its ceiling lost in his mat could hear them until far shadows that advanced and retreated into the night, speaking with his grand- in the flickering torchlight. From father in an old language he could not niches about the rocky walls looked understand. Sometimes, when the talk- out the skulls of men long dead; on the ing was finished, they passed quietly dry sandy floor, in ordered rows, lay
the gigantic figures of chiefs, bound ‘Had such a proposal been made to with wrappings of delicately plaited him when he first arrived in Tahiti, he cinnet; and beside each dead warrior would have dismissed the idea with was his polished omore of ironwood. horror. But he had been a long time in And Matatua led the way from one Papeete and had heard white men, to another, telling the names of men whose wisdom he had no reason to and of the clubs they had borne, and doubt, ridicule the old beliefs callreciting their deeds in the poetic words ing them heathen nonsense, fit only of other days.
to deceive the ignorant. The offer of 'In this way, Teriiaro came to know money in advance was an irresistible of the Sacred Cave of Opoa. On ac- temptation; he spent the thousand count of a woman, he left the house of francs on drink and dresses for Tetua, his grandfather and came to Tahiti. before his departure for the Leeward Tetua was her name she lived in the Group. district of Opoa and her pretty face *The collector stopped in Uturoa, caught the fancy of Terijaro. Her as they had agreed, while Teriiaro went family was of the lowest class of society on to the house of his grandfather.
the Manahune, whom some believe The old man received him gravely, sayto be the descendants of an aboriginal ing that he had done well to come home, race, smaller and darker-skinned than for reports of his bad habits in Tahiti the Polynesian immigrants. Matatua had reached Raiatea. If he suspected sternly forbade the match — the gulf the object of Teriiaro's visit, he gave between the families was too great. no sign, and the boy began to fancy, But Teriiaro was no longer a child, and with a faint new-born contempt, one night he and the girl stole away to even here, in the shadow of Faneuhi, Uturoa by canoe, and took passage on
the sacred mountain, - that, after all, a schooner to Papeete.
white men were right. But he pre'I heard their story when he came tended interest when Matatua spoke to my office asking for work. As it of a desire to initiate him in the wisdom chanced, I needed an extra hand to of the ancients, and suggested that he unload copra, and for a time he and
leave home no more. Tetua got on happily enough. Then 'On the third morning the old man the boy began to run wild, wandering launched his canoe, telling his grandson about at night with drunken com- that he was obliged to make a trip to panions and sleeping wherever the rum Tevaitoa, on the far side of the island, overcame him. The girl used to stop where he owned land. There was copra me on the streets, her eyes swollen to be weighed and sold — he might be
with tears, and ask if I could n't do gone a week. Terijaro stood on the something to keep her husband beach until the canoe had rounded a straight.
distant wooded point. His chance had 'I got tired of it, finally, and put him aboard a schooner trading through 'It was still early when he started the Paumotu. Hard work and clean on his journey inland. The grass was living soon made a man of him; but still damp with dew; the air was cool, when he returned to Papeete, the story and fragrant with the scent of pua bloswas always the same. It was at the soms. He was thinking of the things end of one of these sprees that he he would buy with the second thousand heard of the collector and made
his francs: a new guitar, bright with pearl mind to rifle the Opoa burial-cave. inlay, which would mark him as a man
of substance among his friends; the midst one knelt by the Ofai Tuturu — long-coveted watch with a luminous the Praying-Stone-intoning a solemn dial; a pair of shoes for Tetua, the kind chant. It seemed to Teriiaro that the with high heels, such as the half-caste priest was offering up something that girls in Papeete wear. His feet were as lay before him. At times he paused in nimble as his thoughts; he glanced up, his chanting, and held up both hands and the three great miro trees, stately toward the image on the marae. Then and sombre as in the days of his boy- the drums thundered and the flame of hood, stood before him. The rest of the the burning trees seemed to leap up story I can tell you only as he told it with redoubled brightness. Moving his to me.
head a little, the boy saw that the offer“When he had bound torches of dried ing was the dead body of a man; and at cocoanut frond, he walked toward the that moment the priest plucked out an base of the cliff, where years before his eye and held it above his head, while grandfather had shown him the en- the drums throbbed louder and deeper trance of the cavern. As he drew near than before, and the huge torches, the place, he saw a thing that made which seemed never to be consumed, him pause. There, on a great rock, sent flames leaping to the tops of the glaring at him and seeming to oppose ironwood trees. his passage, — was a lizard far larger As full consciousness returned to than any known in the islands to-day. him, Teriiaro realized with a sudden “Ah,” thought the boy, in half-terrified pang
of terror that his hands and feet bravado, “does my grandfather leave were bound, and that two silent men, the king of all the lizards to guard with axes of dolerite in their hands, his dry bones when he is away?” But stood over him. Was he destined to lie when he cast a stone at the lizard, it where the body of that other man lay vanished, and in its place stood an old now an offering to the feathered and man with hair as white as coral long shapeless god? He nearly swooned at bleached in the sun. His eyes were ter- the thought; and when he felt himself rible to see; they held the eyes of seized and lifted by many hands, his Terijaro with a strange power, causing senses left him for the second time. his courage to melt away, and the 'A blinding light awakened him strength to flow from his limbs. Then the morning sun, shining through a the life went out of him, and he knew familiar doorway, was full on his face. no more until he became aware of a Filled with wonder and relief, he beating in his brain — a sound which glanced about. There in the old corner, changed to the throbbing of a great sleeping peacefully on a mat, lay Matadrum.
tua, his grandfather. Teriiaro began *When his eyes opened he saw what to hope that he had only dreamed a chilled his blood. There was the marae strangely vivid and terrifying dream; with its row of skulls, lighted from but presently he noticed on his arm a either side by torches which seemed loop of cinnet, tied in a curious manner; trees aflame. On the platform of rock and as he puzzled over this, a disquietlay a shapeless thing, like an unhewn ing memory came back to him-a saylog, wound about with fine cinnet and ing of his grandfather that in heathen decked with tufts of red feathers. At days a victim destined for sacrifice the foot of the marae was gathered a was thus distinguished. company of tall old men, dressed in the 'Stealthily and in haste he launched fashion of the ancient days, and in their his canoe and paddled away from the