THE GARDEN OF GOD
H. deVERE STACPOOLE
He was making for the water to leeward of the atoll, where the current would be broken in its force. Here he landed after hours of sw imming and with his left leg gone below the knee. The sea is full of hungry mouths and to leeward of Karolin that night there were many sharks. He had just time to reach his people and tell his story before he died.
A great wind had struck the canoe and capsized it. He and Katafa had been thrown into the water. A shark had taken her. He had struck out for the reef. That was the story he told, and he had told it in all good faith. He had seen Katafa pulled to pieces by sharks, though how he had seen it Heaven and the Kanaka imagination alone could telt.
When Dick struck Sru dead on the beach, Talia, Manua. and Leopa paddling off across the lagoon had with equal imagination seen the island alive with Dicks, potential Dicks stirring amidst the trees. The canoe men had veiled their war cry and. once clear of the lagoon, the potential Dicks became real figures thronging the beaches of^their imaginations.
Nan’s head vvoggling on its stick became the size of a house, full of speech and proclaiming to high heaven that his deityship had taken up forced residence on Palm Tree, that his power and protection had been filched from Karolin, the fecundity of whose women, cocoanut trees, and puraka plants would be now a thing of the past.
BEYOND the reef and heading south the wind changed, blowing gently at first and then steadily and strongly from the north, a favourable wind and a good omen. The paddles dashed the water to spray and the great sail bellied to the breeze. Evening came, the dusk rose and the stars broke out, and southward still they flew, tireless as the wind, taking no heed of the current. All night long they paddled whilst the turning dome of stars rotated above them, the Cross and Canopas and the great streak of the milky way ail moving mysteriously in one piece till, suddenly, in the East, like a dropped rose leaf, came the dawn. Away ahead lay Karolin, and the paddle men, who had taken a spell of rest, leaving all the work to the wind, resumed their paddles.
As they came through the reef opening, the sun was behind them, and broad on the lagoon, lighting the white beach that swept curving away to invisibility, the cocoanut trees, the canoe houses, and the houses of the village, and scarcely had they passed the reef opening than the sands began to swarm, for eager eyes had reported that they had lost a man. and that of the four who had started three only were returning.
Now this canoe was of no importance except for the fact that Sru, the son of the King’s son, was on board of it. Still it was only one of the fishing canoes of which several that had put out in search of floating turtle were due to put in that morning; it flew no signal of disaster, yet instantly the news was known by this little nation of fishers and hunters of the sea to whom sight was life and swift deduction bread. Before beaching, it was known that Sru was the missing man, and Laminai himself was standing to meet them as the keel took the sand.
WHEN the squall took Katafa's canoe that night, sweeping Taiofa overboard, he was not drowned but the sea killed him all the same. The canoe driving north free of its anchor rope and towed by the fish left him far behind, and without a moment’s hesitation he struck due west, swimming for his life.
It was Laminai who had tried to dash Katafa to death on board of the Spanish ship, it was Laminai who had killed her mother with the blow of a coral-headed club. Better for him and his sons had he killed the child as well, for Taiofa had gone with her to his death, and Sru would never have fallen but for the image of Nan which she had erected to bring the big fish to the lagoon.
Laminai was tall and slight and subtle and exceedingly strong, with a forthright and ferocious expression and a permanent hard double wrinkle between the eyes, eyes that seemed always skimming great distances in search of prey.
Talia, Manua, and Leopa, when they saw Laminai standing there with his shark-tooth necklace on his breast, were hit of a sudden by the forgotten fact that this terrible man would most likely visit on them the death of Sru. Visions of being staked out on the reef fot sharks to devour, drove them half crazy with fright, but not crazy enough to forget Nan as a stand-by.
“Nan! Nan! Nan!” they yelled as the keel drove ashore. “He has been taken from us by a new people who have slain thy son, 0 Laminai, for half a day we fought with them but Sru was slain and Nan stands on the reef of
Marua, (Palm Tree) and never will our crops flourish again.”
' I 'HIS news, delivered so con. vincingly, hit the whole beach dumb. Laminai, at a stroke, seemed to have forgotten Sru; the people automatically drew back making a semi-circle, and in this arena the three survivors of the great fight stood facing Laminai and his last son, Ma, a youth of some nineteen years. He questioned them with a word or two and then, turning, led the way to the great house of the village, where, in the shadow of the door, Uta Matu was lying on a mat with his back to the day.
Uta was an old man now, very different from the man who years ago had led the attack on the Spanish ship. He was so fat and indolent that he had to be turned by his women like a feather bed, and there he lay puffing out his cheeks whilst the three canoe men stood before him and one told their tale of the ravishing of Nan, the great fight, and the death of Sru.
Having heard them out, Uta did an astonishing thing—he sat up.
This old gentleman, despite his fat, his indolence, the blood lust that still clung to him amidst the other lusts, and the fact that his only dress was a Gee string, was a statesman of a sort. It .was quite easy to call for revenge, to set the village buzzing like a bee-hive, sharpening spears and rolling the long canoes out of the canoe houses, yet when the murmur that marked the conclusion of the canoe men’s story began to swell and spread and threatened to break into a roar, Uta Matu raised his hand and stopped the outbreak as one cuts off water at the main.
^He had to do two things, consult the priestess of Nanawa to see if the war gods were propitious, and consult Ma, admiral in chief and dockyard superintendent of the Karolin navy. Being what he was, Uta decided not to worry the gods till he was sure of the navy. He called Ma, and the son of Laminai came and stood before the king.
The fleet was ready. That' was the report of Ma. The four great canoes, each capable of holding thirty men, were safe in the canoe houses, seaworthy and only recently caulked; the paddles were in their places and the masts and mat sails in readiness.
Now these canoes were useless for fishing or at least were never used; they were too large and .cumbersome and were kept for war. They had been used for the attack on the Spanish ship and they had been used when the present northern ruling tribe of Karolin had fought the southern tribe living across the lagoon, nearly exterminating it, and chasing the remnants to the beach of Palm Tree.* Long before that the navy of Karolin had resisted an attack from a fleet that broke the waters one pink and pearly dawn, a fleet of dusk sailed canoes from the Paumotus that had vanished for ever, sunk and burnt before the crimson sunset died.
Karolin was a sea power ever ready for eventualities.
Having received the report, Uta, to confirm it, caused himself to be carried to the canoe houses; not content with hearing, he must see, and he saw as he sat facing the open doorways of the houses that Ma was no liar. In the gloomy interiors beneath thatched roofs supported by ridge poles, the great canoes slewed on their rollers ready for the sea. Even here on land they were moored by innumerable shore fasts in case of accident. Twice had hurricanes blown the houses to fragments leaving the canoes unharmed. Uta, having seen that all was right, ordered himself to he carried back to the door of his
*See “Blue Lagoon.”
palace, but the order for war did not come yet. Le Juan had to be consulted.
“Call Le Juan,” commanded Uta.
The Priestess of Nanawa
LE JUAN had seen the canoe J men land and heard their story.
She had been on the outskirts of the crowd and, having got the gist of the matter, retired to her hut waiting for the call she knew would come. Whether Nanawa was a falge god or not, she believed in him just as she believed in Nan.
Never laugh at the gods, nor sneer at them; the form of history has been moulded by them and man’s destiny arranged by them and the meanest African idol is the emblem, of something that, if not real, was at all events powerful.
An interesting thing about these gods of Karolin was their individu• ality; each was a distinct character.
Nan, mild and benevolent, Nanawa ferocious, capricious and always ready to strike. Nan would never have been willing or able to reduce Le Juan to the condition in which she appeared before Uta when they found her and led her to him.
Naturally ugly, her face was now appalling, rigid as a face carved from stone and with only the whites of the eyes showing.
Standing before Uta and supported on either side, she remained dumb for a moment, then her mouth opened and a voice issued from it. The words flowed over out of it, almost adhering together, the very saliva of speech.
“Set forth, strike, destroy!” commanded the voice. “Destroy utterly,
O Uta, and thou, Laminai, his son, and thou, Ma, the son of Laminai.”
The words became thicker, lost meaning, became a shout, a prolonged bray, more terrific than the bellowing of a conch.
Convulsions seized her, foam ran from her mouth and then, collapsing, she was carried off, whilst Ma seized the great Lambrai shell passed to him out of the king’s house by one of the wives, and filled the air with its howling.
The bellowing of the shell echoing over beach and lagoon roused the gulls; their cries came back like the echoes of the cries of the people. Kara, Kara, Kara! War! War! War! Then silence fell and the fighting men, the women and the very children, set to work, marshalled by Laminai on the great business that had suddenly entered their lives like a sword.
It was still early morning. At that moment the cachelot was passing Karolin to find the swordfish, the orcas, and destruction! But it was not till early morning of the next day that the preparations were complete and the four great canoes ready for launching. Each canoe held thirty men, one hundred and twenty men all told, and every man of the tribe was of that expedition except Uta, who was long past war, and three other old men, dwellers on the southern beach, useless for anything but fishing in a small way. In two hours after launching, such was the readiness of response of Karolin to danger or aggression, the provisions were on board, and in another hour the fleet, led by the canoe of Laminai, was paddling towards the break.
The Shadows and the Echoes
’"T'HE wind had changed and was blowing now dead A from the south; and as they passed the break the mat sails went up and the four great canoes shot away to the north urged by wind, current, and paddles, like hawks released on their prey.
An hour after the start the wind failed them, but still the paddles kept on. They passed turtles asleep on the ceaseless swell and great belts of fucus carried by the current, the outriggers tangling and lifting kelp fish and fathom long ribbons of kelp gemmed with sea growths and clung to by crabs. The drinking nuts secured to the outrigger gratings were passed round under the blazing sun of noon and as the fleet drifted for a moment, it was
saluted by the thunder of a school of giant whip rays playing away across the blue. Warriors saluting warriors. The whip rays were a good omen, Karolin being one of their haunts and Ma, seizing the great conch shell, returned the salute.
Then before sunset the paddle men ceased work for a moment to shout and wave their paddles at Palm Tree, far off still, but clearly to be seen on the northern horizon. Half an hour later the landward flying gulls began to take the light of sunset on their wings, and the sun to dip towards a sea blazing with light, and now, as the sun vanished and the dusk brimmed over from the east, a wind rose blowing tow’ards the land and the paddle men at the command of Laminai ceased w"ork.
Silence fell almost complete broken only by the wash of the canoe bow's, the straining of a rope to the tug of a sail and the shifting of a steering paddle, and now" in the pauses of the wind could be heard the surf on the reef like the breathing of the far off island in its sleep.
' I 'HE moon wrould not rise yet but the stars gave them light, light enough to see, as they closed with the land, the breakers on the outer beach and the head of Nan on its post. Keeping awmy to the east, they sought the reef opening where the palm tree stood bow"ed like a sentinel fallen asleep, and as it came in view", Laminai giving an order, the sails w'ere taken in and the paddles flashed into work.
At that moment the brow of the moon broke the sea.
The tide w'as just at the slack after full, and on the long river of light from the moon the canoes came like dark drifting leaves; past the break, the paddles w-orking w’ith scarcely a sound, across the lagoon, moving ever more slowly till again came an order from Laminai and, the stone anchors going over wdthout a splash, the fleet rode at its moorings, silent as the moon that now" stood above the reef.
They w’ere brave with a; courage that nothing could
destroy but defeat or superstition, that nothing could dent but the unknown.
Had they been attacking a known tribe they would have beached the canoes, shouting defiance; as it was they anchored, feeling their courage and their shark-tooth spears, listening, looking, -whilst the moon rose higher lighting mere fully the fairy land they were about to attack whose only defenders were a youth fast asleep and a girl the prisoner of illusion, and the trees.
Then, of a sudden, the lagoon became dotted with heads, the whole army of Karolin had disembarked; swimming like otters, they made for the shore and, leaving the canees with a man apiece for anchor watch, formed on the beach.
Noth'ng opposed them, but their long shadows drawn on the salt, white beach by the moon, shadows that swmng clubs and brandished spears, threatening who knows what in shadow land.
The silent woods stood firm, the reef beyond the lagoon sent the self-same whisper, the wind lifting the foliage failed and died.
Nature before the terrific threat of Karolin seemed to have fallen asleep till Ma, like the knight before the enchanted castle, seizing the great conch blew" the signal for wTar, blew" w'ith one mighty and prolonged breath till the vvhorls of the conch nearly split asunder, till the howling, bubbling echoes came back from strand and hill-top and wood and sea.
Like the response of the shadows came the response of the echoes— nothing more.
ICK, w’hen sleep took him that night, passed straight into dreamland. He rarely dreamed. When he did, his dreams had always one origin, some vexation or irritation experienced during the day; he would be trying to light a fire that w’ould not light, or the dinghy w'ould be sinking under him, or going to cut bananas the banana trees would be gone; those were the sort of dreams that came to Dick. Katafa had never entered them till to-night, w’hen, suddenly, he found himself chasing her over the sands of sleep, chasing her spear in hand till she dashed into the lagoon and became a fish, the most beautiful fish in the w’orld. glimpsed for a moment like a flash of silver.
He had hunted for her till dusk through the trees, beside the lagoon, right to the eastern beach, and nowin dreamland he wras hunting her again. Ye gods and wniters of the old romance, creators of the lovesick swain! Hunting her like an animal, possessed with one over-mastering desire, the desire to seize her.
Suddenly the dream was shattered. Sitting up he saw" the w"orld outside the house clearly in the moonlight as though seen by day; a sound filled his ears; it was the sound of the conch.
He was master of all the sounds in his w’orld, the island was always talking to him, the reef and the sea. Here was something new" and unknown and inimical. It came from the eastern beach, that beach which faced the gateway to the w’orld beyond.
The sound ceased, the: echoes died and the night reserved its silence. Dick, still listening wdthout a movement, heard the reef speaking to the first waves of the ebb, the fall of a leaf on the roof and the furtivesound of a robber crab by the house wTall on the right. Then, rising, he came out into the moonlight, moving silently as his own shadow.
A fish spear wTas standing against the house wrall. He took it and came along by the trees, listening, pausing every now and then, seeming to scent the air like a hound. Nothing. He turned his face towards the lagoon. Nothing. The great mirror lay unruffled to the reef and beyond the reef the sea stars shone paled by the moonlight but steadfast and untroubled.
The island said to him: “There is nothing here at all but the things you have alw’ays known; that voice w"as the voice of some sea beast that came like the big fish and has gone.”
Yet he still listened.
Ah u r ¿u was that'* A branch stirred and, turning, he
-aw itkf a ghost amidst the trees Katafa.
^HE was standing, the moonlight on her face and her ^ arms outstretched. Next moment she had turned, vanished, and he was in pursuit. The woods, one vast green glow under the moon, were lit almost as brilliantly as by day, and as she ran he could see, now a glossy shoulder, now her whole form, now nothing but swaying leaves above which the convolvulus flowers seemed the bugles of aerial huntsmen joining in the chase.
He was not hunting alone, the woods to-night were full of armed men, men who at the sound of the conch had spread and entered the groves like a bunch of shadow's, beating the trees and glades, dumb as hounds when hot on the scent.
The tine Katafa had taken was towards these. Pitcher plants cascaded their water as she ran dashing them aside, and branches foiled him as he pursued, great perfumed flowers hit him in the face. Now he had almost seized her. and now she was gone, saved by a branch or tangle of liana.
The trees broke to a glade carpeted with slippery moss spread like a snare to betray her. Crossing it, she fell. She was h s, he flung himself upon her—and fell on the hard ground. He had not even touched her. By a last miracle, she had saved herself and was gone, doubling back through the trees.
The fall half stunned him for a moment; then, getting on his feet, he seized the spear, all through the chase he had carried it slanted over his shoulder, carried it unconsciously or instinctively, just as he had carried it in dreamland. Baulked and furious, not knowing what he did. he brandished it now as if threatening some enemy, then reason returning, he stood resting on it and listening.
He knew she had escaped; to lose sight of a person for half a minute in that place was to lose them. His only chance was to track her by sound, but he could hear nothing. Not the breaking of a twig or the rustle of a leaf came to tell him of where she might be or what line she was taking. He did not even know whether she had dived into the trees, to right or left or before or behind him; the fall had blotted out everything for a moment, and in that moment she had vanished.
/dTH head uptossed and leaning on the spear, he stood like a statue, more beautiful than any statue ever hewn from marble, the tropical trees, still as the moon above him, the sound of the far-off reef a confused murmur on the windless air. Then his chin sank ever so slightly, a sound had come to him, something that was not the reef.
It was—she. He could hear the leaves moving—a step ■'-louder now, she was coming towards him and coming swiftly, she had lost her direction and was blundering back to the place she had started from. He waited without a movement, the foliage dashed aside and into the glade broke not Katafa, but Ma, the son of Laminai, with the moon full upon him. Ma, club in hand, the shark-tooth necklace shewing white as his eyeballs in the strong light; Ma. lithe and fierce as a tiger and petrified for the moment by the sight before him.
The two faced one another without a word. Then the figure of Ma seemed to shrink slightly, relaxed itself suddenly, sprang, slipped on the treacherous moss and fell with the cruel ish spear bedded in its back and heart. The club shot away across the carpet of moss and Dick was in the act of turning to seize it when out from the trees broke Laminai—Laminai with twenty others behind him. Ma had been the vanguard of these.
Dick turned and ran. Dashing among the leaves he ran, weaponless, defenceless, with sure death on his heels and only one craving—to free himself from the woods, to find an open space, to escape from the branches that checked him, the flowers that hit at him, the veils and veils and veils of leaves; instinctively he made up hill, the pursuit almost touching him, the groves ringing now to the cries of the pursuers and of Talia, Manua, and Leopa. who had recognized him as the slayer of Sru and w-ere shouting the news to Laminai.
The Breaking of the Spell
TT'ATAFA, amidst the trees, pausing half dazed from ^ pursuit, and released for a moment from the spell that had made her fly, stood listening.
She had taken the upward way towards the hill top. The great sward, moon-stricken and surmounted by the rock, gleamed at her through the trees on her right, below and to her left the green gloom of the woods showed in luminous depths marked \-aguely by the outlines of trees and sagging lianas. The glass house atmosphere of the w-oods rose around her like an incense. Cocoa palm, artu, breadfruit and pandamus, vanilla and hoya, husk, bark, foliage and Lower all blended their perfumes undisturbed by any wind. Then, as she stood listening, just at the moment when Ma, bursting from the trees, stood face to face with Dick, she heard a sudden loudening of the
surf on the reef—the sound of a single great tumbling wave heaving up from the glacial sea to burst on the coral in foam. Silence, and then through the heat of the night another sound far away and vague, the chanting of gulls disturbed from their sleep and made uneasy by some voice or sign they alone could interpret.
Then, shattering the silence of the woods, came the yell of Laminai as he sprang after Dick, the voices of Talia, Manua, and Leopa and then the tongue of the whole pack in full cry, the sound of branches broken and leaves cast aside, footfalls, all rising towards her like a' tide, and breaking through the trees so close to her that she could see the parting of the leaves and the forms of the pursuers and pursued.
Dick, reaching the sward, made one last effort. Breaking from the rock he would have reached it and rounded it and dived into the thickness of the woods beyond where the bog land lay and where üe might have found refuge, but the uphill path was treacherous as the moss on the sward. He slipped, fell on one knee, and was surrounded and lost.
A spearman raised his spear to pierce him, but Laminai dashed him aside. Sure now of his vengeance, the son of Uta Matu wished to taste it alone, and waving the others off with a sweep of his arm, and standing with his back to the trees, signed to his enemy to rise.
Dick sprang to his feet and stood facing the other with folded arms. He was lost and he knew it. He had no ideas about death, he only knew that as the speared fish was, so he would be and that at once. He heard without at least heeding the words pouring out of the mouth of. the other, and his gaze never flinched when Laminai, reaching with the spear, touched him on the left breast with the sharp brown point.
On the left breast just below the nipple, Laminai laid the point of the spear. Just there the point would enter, piercing the beating heart. Then, swift as light, the father of Ma flung his arm back for the thrust and fell, struggling, with Katafa about his neck.
/CREEPING close to the wood edge she had watched ^ like a person in a dream whilst Dick rose to his feet and faced the spear man. She had heard the words of Laminai, she had seen him point the spear, and in those few seconds she had seen death and she had known love, the real love that heeds nothing, even death.
In those few seconds self vanished and with it the spell that had bound her since childhood, the spell that passion or hatred could not break, that nothing could have broken in the mind of a Kanaka.
As the arm flung back for the fatal stroke she launched herself, Laminai came crashing to earth, the spear flew from his hand, Dick caught, it. Useless, but for one thing, the shout that went up from Laminai’s men as Dick, seizing the spear, cried “Katafa!” Instantly they recognized her, the girl who was dead, the Taminanite .whom no man dare touch, who dared touch no man. They saw her ghost clinging to Laminai and breaking, they ran like curs, filling the woods with their cries.
But Laminai did not run. Rolling on the ground, fighting and struggling to free himself from the creature that had him in its grip, teeth in his hair and arms round his neck and legs locked in his, screaming like a horse in terror or rage, he tried to rise whilst Dick, the spear held short, not daring to thrust, called on Katafa to release him. • Then, as with a great and mighty effort the brute half rose, Dick, seeing his chance, drove the spear into his gaping mouth, raising the butt with the stroke so that the point emerged from the neck.
Then with Katafa in his arms, Katafa clinging to him almost as tightly as she1 had clung to the other, he made upwards across the sward till he reached the rock. He was making for the southern woods where the bad lands would give them a hiding' place and protection, but as he reached the summit something seized him and wrestled with him and tried to drive him back; it was the wind.
Hot as the breath of a tiger, blowing up from southward through the clear night, it had come, tremendous and sudden like a giant springing on the island; shouting and dashing the trees together, clashing the branches, stripping the leaves and sending the nuts flying like cannon balls.
It took Nan from his post and sent him flying into the lagoon, the post after him; it stripped the mat sails from the anchored fleet and sent them sailing off like dish cloths, it drove the limp, dead body of Laminai up against the trees, the spear still sticking in its throat.
Dick, with Katafa’s hair streaming across his face, half bent, nearly blown from his feet, took shelter to leeward of the rock. Here there was peace, though the whole island beneath them was yelling and tossing under an absolutely cloudless sky and in the strong clear light of the moon. It was the Haya e Matadi, the'great wind without rain that once in a decade swept Karolin and the sea for a hundred miles beyond, coming always at night and always at the full of the moon, lasting only an hour and more dreaded than a hurricane, because more mysterious.
Here, sheltered in the cup of the wind, they lay in the light of the quiet moon, the flight, the killing of Laminai, the still imminent presence of death—all as remote from them as the tossing trees below, the thundering reef, and the infinite moonlit sea. .
v ’ CHAPTER XXXI.
WHEN the fighting men of Karolin began their assault on the woods, they broke into two companies, one under Laminai and Ma, the other under Utali, a son of Makara, once chief of the Southern tribe. When the southern tribe had been destroyed, Utali, a boy of some fourteen years, had been spared—-he and a few old men and several women past child-bearing. He had grown up with the Northern tribe, become one of them, fought in their wars and fished in their waters and forgotten and forgiven. He knew that Makara had been slain by the followers of Uta Matu and slain on Palm Tree beach. That did not matter a bit to him; hç bore no grudge, he had always been well treated by Uta, and his father, as he remembered him, had been a brute—“a mouthrto shout, à foot to kick and a hand to strike.”
He had bravely set off with the others, thinking of nothing but the work in hand; as the finest and most powerful man after Laminai, the command of the second division had been given, to him, and, leading it, he went off through the trees by the bank of the left arm of the lagoon whilst Laminai’s men struck due west.
Now Utali carried no love for his father, but he carried still the fear of him, a much more enduring possession if a parent gives it to his offspring, and it was not till the woods of Palm Tree surrounded him that Utali remembered that Makara was a ghost and that he had been made a ghost here on this island by the chief whom he (Utali) was now serving.
A nice complication!
“Suppose,” thought Utali, “my father were to appear at the head of his men armed as of old and thirsting to kill!”
His mind drew the picture and cast it aside as he drove forward trampling the ground lianas and shouldering the branches aside.
Suddenly he halted. The boom of the great wave that Katafa had heard came through the trees followed by the garrulous chanting of the gulls. He stood listening.1He knew every sound of the sea and the meaning of each. A storm of some sort was approaching and his first thought was of the canoes.
Then he heard Laminai giving tongue and the sound of the chase as it swept to the hill top and turning, leading his men, he began to climb. Laminai had evidently taken no heed of the warning from the sea.
IT HAD been arranged that the two divisions should join up should the elusive enemy give battle to either. Each division considered itself all powerful and ready to meet any contingency, and it was right, for the spears were poisoned with angara, a species of oap, deadly and instantaneous in its effect. So Utali did not hasten his steps unduly, keeping his men fresh for whatever might be to do, and going cautiously with an eye and ear for surprises.
The shouting suddenly ceased as if cut off by a closed door, and Utali, holding up his hand in the green twilight, halted. The cries he had heard had been the sounds of pursuit, not of battle. Why had they ceased so suddenly?
He listened and waited. Not a sound! He stood still, listening, his mind filled with wild conjectures whilst up above, Laminai, spear in hand, stood fronting Dick, touching his breast with the spear-point, flinging back his arm for the thrust.
A yell split the night above as Laminai’s division caught sight of Katafa, and Utali, taking it for the shout of\ battle, charged upwards through the trees followed by his men to the assistance of Laminai.
They had not gone twenty paces when they found that they were being charged. Down through the trees towards them a host was pouring—there was only one instantaneous solution—Laminai’s division had been utterly and silently destroyed and the destroyers were coming, ghosts and evil spirits, no doubt led by the ghostly Makara.
“Makara’s men are coming! Makara’s men are coming. Death! Death!” shrieked Utali, not daring to turn and run as he might have done from a living enemy. Then thrusting with his spear at a dark form that sprang at him out of the gloom ahead, he missed and fell, pierced to death, whilst the form, yelling with fright and rage, pressed over him.
The whole of Laminai’s followers, stampeded by the vision of the ghost of the girl who had been eaten by sharks, charging down through the trees of a place now filled with ghosts, only wanted the cry that Makara’s men were coming to finish them—Makara, that terrible chief who had been slain here by their fathers and brothers.
The yell of the new risen wind from the south, the dashing about of the trees and the great alternating
splashes of moonlight and shadow raised their rage and terror to dementia and as they saw Utali and his warriors and charged them and were charged in turn, imaginary ghosts attacking imaginary ghosts, nothing on earth could be compared to the fight, and nothing in dreamland.
* I 'WENTY men alone escaped from that psychological -*-• battle, twenty of Laminai’s men, spearless, daggerless, torn by brambles, gasping and running for the canoes whilst the trees roared above them and tossed them out to the shouting beach where three of the canoes dragged from their anchorage lay broken and ruined. One canoe alone remained straining at its rope, the fellow in her waving his arm and shouting, screaming as he saw the survivors taking the water. “ Karaka, Karaka, karaka! Sharks! Sharks! Sharks!”
The lagoon was full of sharks driven in by the storm, but the survivors neither heard the cries of the anchor watch nor would they have heeded. Worse things were behind them than sharks. Makara and his ghostly followers were on their heels., They struck out across the tossing water, the moonlight steady on the bobbing head that vanished one by one till ten only were left saved by the number and rapacity of the sharks. Thick as women at a bargain counter, the brutes foiled themselves by getting in each other’s way and the ten survivors scrambling on board, some over the outrigger gratings, some over the side, cut free from the anchor rope, seized the paddles and headed for the break.
No sooner had they cut the rope and struck the water with the paddles than they saw their blunder. The tide had caught them. The full ebb tide rushing from the two arms of the lagoon had them in its grip bearing them to the break beyond which the out-boiling water had set >, up a terrible cross sea.
The heavy canoe was under-manned, they could do nothing but steer and shout as they went, swept as a toboggan on the sheeting foam, stern lifting, bow lifting, shooting through the break into the lumping sea that turned them turtle.
A wave took the canoe and smashed it on the coral, destroying the outrigger, and a great king wave festooned
with foam took the remains and hove it on to the reef high and dry, stern stuck in a cleft and bow in air, a last touch of the fantasy of the sea—that sister of Fate.
So, at a stroke, went the navy of Karolin and all her fighting men, destroyed by their own imaginations and the child of the woman they had slain long years ago.
' CHAPTER XXXII.
THE gulls were crying above the reef, and away in the east, below the sea line a rose-red fire was burning, paling gradually, passing into the starless infinite distances of the true dawn.
Then, as the ripple of light on the horizon waters turned to a ripple of fire, and the birds in the groves chattered out in answer to the gulls, Dick, flinging sleep off suddenly as one flings a blanket, sat up, striking out at the vision of Laminai, Laminai, spear in hand and ready to lunge. For a moment the dead chief stood before him, hard in the imagination as a real figure, then it vanished and his eyes fell on Katafa.
She was lying on her side fast asleep, her face buried in her arms. He watched her, his eyes consuming her in the strengthening light.
He knew nothing of love, he only knew that the something that had revealed itself to him and evaded him was his—his and the whole unearthly world that surrounded it.
The voices of the gulls and the sound of the reef were part of her, and the strengthing light part of her, the rising sun, his own very life were part of her—and she was his.
Had she suddenly been snatched from him the voices of the gulls and the sound of the reef, the rising sun—every bit of the old world she had made new would have fallen in on him and crushed him with despair, and yet only yesterday he had run past her bent on the business of making a sail for the dinghy, run past her heedless as though she had been a tree stump, and, had she been taken from him then, would he have cared?
As the sun struck Katafa full, from her night-black hair to her little feet, she moved, then suddenly casting sleep away, she sat up.
Just as Dick’s waking vision had been the man he had fought with, hers was Dick. She saw him, with widepupilled eyes that saw nothing of this world, and holding out her arms to the vision, cried, “Taori!”
It faded as her arms clasped themselves round the reality.
TpHEY had climbed the sun-warmed rock. The vast lumnar swell was marching across the Pacific smooth as though the Haya e Matadi had never blown, and nothing to tell of the great wind remained but a few broken trees in the groves and the up ended canoe on the reef. Dick could see it as they sat the sun now high above the horizon and the land breeze fanning out across the sea in spaces of violet shadow.
He pointed it out to Katafa and she nodded her head. She knew.
Instinct told her that the men of Karolin had been destroyed, that something had happened, something that came with that wind which she remembered now like a wind that had blown in dreamland. The sense of security was everywhere ringed and completed by the peace of the violet sea.
Here, high above the world as the birds, they could see a thousand square leagues of .the blue Pacific from the limitless North to the far pale sky trace that was Karolin, the world of the sea gulls ever clanging and clanging about the reef, the lagoon, and, rising up tow-ards them from the lagoon, the trees. Not a trunk, not a stem, nothing but the glory of the foliage; the dancing, featherypalm fronds, the still dark spread of the bread fruits, the the piercing green of the new7 leaved artus, and here and there lords of the forest and the groves, the matamatas striking boldly to the sky. Over all the breeze dancing light-footed as a faun and coloured like blossoms blown from the trees.
Some drinking nuts had been blown right from the midzone of trees up to the sward; he had fetched them and they had drunk the contents. Neither of them had eaten since the day before, but Dick, who had not the sure instinct for safety that possessed Katafa, had no idea of Continued on page 45
Continued from page 29
returning to the house till he was sure that the enemy was gone. He wanted to explore and see. The wrecked canoe filled his mind with a thrill, from it came a waft of the battle of the night before bringing up the vision of Ma, the man he had speared like a fish, and with the recollection his nostrils broadened as the sound of pursuit came again to his ears and the feel of the branches he had dashed aside in his escape, he tripped again on the sward and again he faced Laminai and death, again he thrust the spear into the gaping mouth.
He almost forgot Katafa, love and passion were nothing for a moment as the blaze of anger broke up again in his mind—the fury of the man who has been attacked, and who has killed his attacker, the rage of the defenceless man who, being unarmed, has had to run,
TELLING Katafa not to move from the hill-top till his return, he slipped down from the rock and ran towards the groves. Laminai, spear and all, had been blown by the last gust of the great wind in amongst the trees. Dick, coming on the body, disengaged the spear, and carrying it slanted over his shoulder, came along down taking the track that Manua, Leopa, and Talia had taken the night before as they raced howling with terror and driven by imagination to their death.
Nothing could be more peaceful than the woods this morning, the great wind broken by the hill, had left scarcely a trace, the morning breeze left scarcely a sound louder than the rainy patter of leaf on leaf.
Bursting from beneath the great leaves of a bread-fruit, Dick suddenly found his path barred by a brown naked man on all fours. The man seemed crawling on hands and knees. In the merry dancing lights that showered as the breeze footed it in the foliage overhead, he seemed to move, but he was dead and supported in his position by a decaying tree stump across which he had fallen. The rigor mortis setting in instantly from the poison of some spear or dagger had turned his limbs stiff as the legs of a table; on his back the siftings of the forest had already fallen, the white droppings of a bird, a leaf, a single gummy coloured petal of the hootoo.
Beyond this man who crawled yet never moved, stood a man clasping a tree bole tightly with head thrown back and a light wand-like spear through his shoulder. He had caught at the tree before falling and clung; still clinging in the death rigor, his face turned back, with eyes wide open and mouth agape, seemed gazing wildly in search of the man who had struck him, yet there was nothing in his line of sight but an orchid swinging in the perfumed air on a loop of liantasse.
Beyond, men were lying in heaps, singly, in pairs, on their backs with arms outspread,clasped together in a deadly embrace, petrified by the poison that kills like a pole-axe, half-hidden, half revealed by the trees and the brambles and the still green beauty of the ferns.
Makara and his men, slain long ago on the eastern beach, had taken their revenge in full, and as Dick passed swiftly, glancing to left and right, by the mounds of the dead and glades that told their tale, the knowledge came to him that there was nothing more to fear—all the men in the world seemed lying here stricken to nothingness.
As he broke on to the eastern beach he saw the three canoes that had been driven up on the sands. Two lay on their sides, and one bottom up, with outrigger smashed; away on the reef the fourth stuck up just as he had seen it from the hill top.
A CORAL-HEADED club lay near one of the canoes. He cast away the spear he was holding and seized the club. That was a weapon worth carry-
ing; yet, having -handled it and swung it in the face of the quiet lagoon and desolate eastern sea, he lost interest in it and let it drop, and turned to examine the canoes. There was no one here to use a weapon against, no one but the men in the woods, those strange brown men so stiff yet so seemingly alive, so full of anger, rage and terror, so swiftly running, so furiously hitting, yet so still.
As he overhauled the canoes, pictures from the woods came before him; a man who had been stricken running just as he had dashed into a tangle of vines, still erect, upheld and preserved in position by the vines; a green glade where ferns grew, and out of the ferns a brown leg, stiff as the leg of a table, making as if to kick at the sky through the roof of foliage and merry dancing lights and liquid shadows.
But he did not think of those things long. He was too much interested in the canoes &nd their make and their huge size. Nothing born of the sea is more fascinating than a native canoe with its outrigger, outrigger poles and grating, its mast and yard and mat sail, its paddles, the perfume of its wood, the cunning of its cocoanut fibre lashings, the mystery of its whole being. What an antiquity lies behind it and what a history, whilst the galleys and caravels of the Eastern world were in evolution it was as now, a thing never to develop like the boat that carries the seed of the plant on the wind.
Dick saw that the construction was identical with that of the canoe of Katafa. The old smashed canoe had engraved itself upon his memory in every detail, nothing was different but the size and the number of paddles that would be used. He examined the broken mast and the sail of the only one from which the wind had not stripped the said. It was the same as Katafa’s.
Then as he turned away, something that had been washed up on the sand caught his eye. He stooped and picked it up, it was Nan.
NAN’S head, that the wind had blown into the lagoon,'and the lagoon had faithfully delivered to the sands, Nan looking terribly debauched and battered, but still Nan.
How Katafa had created so much personality with a few cuts of a knife must remain a mystery. She had, and the thing was Itself. Every moment was making it more so for its fuzzy head was drying rapidly in the sun and Dick, recognizing this, placed it on the hot sand higher up and started to hunt for the pole.
There was no pole to be seen on the reef and he reckoned that if it had been blown into the lagoon after the head, it would come ashore on the sanje drift. He was right. He found it just where the tree roots on the left of the beach came into the water like great claws, and fetching it, fixed Nan again on its tip.
Then with the pole on his shoulder he came running along the lagoon side by the trees. Canoes, clubs, dead men, even Nan himself, were forgotten. The memory of Katafa had rushed suddenly out at him from the trees and the sudden passionate desire to get to her nearly drove him back along the road he had come, would have done so but for the fact that his main purpose, after scouting, thatmorning, was food.
There was food at the house, a crab he had put by and some baked fish and taro, and the quickest way to the house was by the lagoon bank. Arrived there, he stuck Nan against the house, fetched out the food from where he had hidden it to protect it from the robber crabs and sat down to eat.
Katafa must have been as hungry as | himself, but his hunger made him forget that fact, although all the time he was eating he was thinking of her. When he reached her at last labouring up the hillside with the remains of the food wrapped ;
in a great leaf, she was in the shelter óf the rock, asleep, and placing the leaf on the ground he sat down beside her.
The Call of Karolin
IF THE blue parua birds resting above the house were indeed the birds of long ago, they might have fancied nothing changed since those days when the father of Dick returned from the valley of the idol with Emmeline.
Love never alters, and the forms of the lovers were almost the same, and the incidents of their simple and humble lives made beautiful by love and the absolute innocence which is Nature.
The joyous awakenings to mornings of new life, the sudden and passionate embraces, the sudden and seeming forgetfulness of one another as when the figure of Dick could be seen far away on the reef heedless of everything but the fish he was hunting for, followed by the figure of Katafa faithful as his shadow.
All was the same and yet, touched by the wizard spell of Karolin beyond the southern sea, all was vaguely different. The spell of Karolin had seized Dick through Katafa; though he had never seen the reef and the gulls and the forty mile sweep of lagoon. The great atoll island had begun its work upon him even before Kearney had died/ It had made him talk its language, it had made him forget his past, little by little and strand by strand it had broken him away from all things connecting him with the world, drifting him farther than his parents had ever drifted from civilization, and its fantastic labours, its hopes, dreams, and ambitions.
And this it had done through Katafa. He was no longer Dick but Taori; the language of his early childhood had gone from him like a bird flown; Kearney was the recollection of something that had once been part of a dream, Nan on his pole by the house was far more potent and living.
At nights, sometimes now, Katafa, as they sat under the stars, would talk to him in an extraordinary way. It was as though Karolin were speaking and trying to tell of itself.
Karolin had never released its hold on her, and in some strange manner the coming of love, the breaking of the spell of Taminan, the new meaning of life, all revived in his mind the memory of the the environment of her childhood. She told him of Le Juan, the priestess of Nanawa and of Nanawa and of Uta Matu, the king, so old that his skin was beginning to scale off in white scales like the scales of the alomba. She told him that at Karolin there was nothing but reef, no island, nothing but reef.
Dick laughed at this, a short hard laugh that struck through the starlight like the cough of a stabbing spear. She took his hand as they lay there side by side and as if to lead his imagination.
At Karolin there was nothing but reef, a reef so great that sight could not follow it, on one side the lagoon (the quiet water) and on the other the sea. Were you to follow it on foot you would walk for days before it led you round back to the break. Two days’ journey it was, and you had to sleep at night without a roof under the stars. The lagoon, was so wide that it held all the stars, even the Milky Way (the great smoke), and the moon travelling all night could not cross it.
SHE told of the great fish that came in from the outer sea and made thunder, whip rays tossing themselves into the air and falling back in fountains of foam, the coral ringing to the echo of the concussions.
Then, in a voice more remote and as if telling a secret: “There are no trees
there, only the palms.”
It was Karolin speaking, not Katafa, Karolin the treeless, Karolin that had become part of her through the magic environment. If the great sea spaces, the forty mile reef, the lagoon mirror and the snow of surf had found voices to tell of themselves, could they have spoken more clearly than they spoke through her?
Her antagonism to the trees, felt when she first viewed them in their great masses had become increased by the part they had played in trapping her, yet at base it was the antagonism of Karolin expressed by the human mind.
In all these talks there was no word of herself or the spell that had been put
upon her by Le Juan. She herself scarcely knew the meaning of it, or why for years she had lived in the world as a shadow amongst shadows, or how it was that she had awakened to this new world in the arms of Dick. Yet deep in her heart a light had pierced showing something vague and monstrous, something nameless that named itself Le Juan.
And now as though Karolin had placed its finger upon the very woods themselves and upon the trees it hated because it had no trees, sometimes, when the wind was in a certain quarter the dead men from Karolin would hint of their presence vaguely and dreadfully driving Dick and Katafa to the reef to escape them.
The rigor had long since lost its grip and the fantastic show had collapsed, figures falling apart and in pieces like waxworks melted by heat, in the furious corruption of the tropics. Then, in a month the woods were sweet again but the stain remained in memory.
Dick had never loved the woods, his passion was all for the sea and the reef and the stories of the girl about Karolin whilst only half believed in, had left their mark on his mind. She had never indicated where the island lay, only conveying to him that somewhere there was a place where she had come from where nothing existed but sea and reef and lagoon; it was just a story, yet it dwelt with him and, working in the inner recesses of his mind, it joined itself with vague recollections of what Kearney had said about the place where she had come from. Kearney had shown him one day the stain on the southern horizon telling him that another island lay there and that the girl had come from it in all likelihood.
The thing had passed almost out of recollection.
One morning, a month or so after the woods had regained their sweetness, Dick, who had completed the sail for the dinghy, was standing by the little boat as she lay moored to the bank when suddenly a whole lot of things grouped themselves together in his mind, the dinghy, the mast and sail, the open sea, recollections of Katafa’s stories about the great reef and the lagoon where fish made thunder.
KATAFA was in the boat ready to push off, but instead of joining her, he beckoned her on shore again and saying, “Come,” led the way off towards the trees. She followed him through the woods and up to the hill top, there, on the southernmost side of the great rock he stood and pointed south across the morning sea. She gazed and saw nothing.
“I see nothing, Taori, but the water and the wind on the water, and the sea birds on the wind—Ah! There!”
Her eyes had caught the stain.
Out on the fishing bank long ago she had seen the full blaze of the lagoon-striking upwards to the sky making a vague, pale window in the blue; this was the same though remote.
“Karolin!” said Dick.
She stood, the wind lifting her hair and her eyes fixed on the stain which grew and spread in her imagination till the song of the reef came round her and the freedom of the infinite spaces of sea and sky. All she longed for lay there and all she loved stood beside her. She said nothing. Never once in her talk of her old home had she expressed the wish to go back, the place where she had found Dick was antagonistic to her, yet it was the place where she had found him, and was in some way part of him, and she could not put her dislike of it in speech, nor her desire to leave it. Even now she said nothing.
She did not know that the craving for adventure, for movement, for change, and the desire for newness was stirring in Dick’s heart. He scarcely knew it himself. The thing that had come in his mind was scarcely formed as yet, or being formed, had not yet developed its wings.
They left the hill top and came down through the trees scarcely speaking. One might have thought that they had quarrelled but for the fact that his arm was about her neck.
Before leaving the hill top, had they turned their eyes to the north, they might have seen across the blue morning sea, a vision that seemed cast on the screen of things by the gods in opposition to the far, faint vision of Karolin.
There on the northern horizon, white as the wing of a gull, stood a sail, remote lonely, only visible from this height—the sail of the first copra trader in these waters
The Morning Light
WHEN the Portsoy had turned her stern to the reef long ago, she had done more than fire the shot that smashed the ranoe of Katafa. She had logged the position of Palm Tree and her captain in his drunken brain had logged the fact that it was “full of copra.” He was no trader, but he drank where traders were, and in Pacific bar-rooms in a blue haze of smoke the fact made itself known after a time. That is how islands were discovered in the old days that are not so very old, through chance and schooner captains and the dingy pages of logs; through memoires and conversations and the hàze of bar-rooms the islands unknown came into the world of the known, and not only the islands but their qualities.
For years Nauru in its desolate beauty laughed at the sun till chance betrayed it and the phosphates that lay beneath its surface, and for years the Garden of God might have remained unknown but for what its palm trees had said to the Portsoy and the fact that copra had taken the place of sandalwood in the world of trade.
It was from Papeete that the Morning Light set out, a top-sail schooner of a hundred and fifty tons with enough native labour to work the island if found. Owing to a slight error in the Portsoy’s reckoning she nearly missed it and was about to give up the hunt when one morning, just as the sun broke above the sea line it shewed, far to the south, just a point on the new born blue of the sky.
For an hour and more the favourable wind held strong and the island grew apace, then the wind failed and faded as if in regret at the ruin it was helping on, the ruin of nature by trade.
All day long the Morning Light held south under the play of light and variable winds making the lagoon only at dusk and entering with the first of the stars.
Dick, had put out the cooking fire; it was after supper, and they were talking of the day’s work. Over on the southern bank at certain times of the tide the fishing was better than anywhere else in the lagoon, the water was deep there and you could reach the place either by striking across through the woods or going round the lagoon in the dinghy, this was the longer way but they generally used it for the convenience of the boat in bringing back the fish, they had seen nothing of the Morning Light, nor had they exchanged a word about Karolin.
Night was the time for talking as a rule, unless the business of the day had tired them out, as it had this evening.
Dick, having put out the fire, turned on his side and was just about to speak to Katafa when through the woods, from the direction of the Eastern beach, came a sound, a low long rumble, suddenly beginning and suddenly ceasing, the sound of the anchor chain of the Morning Light running out.
Instantly he was on his feet.
Every sound of the island was known to him, this was something new, new as the voice of the conch that had roused him from sleep to face Laminai and his tribe. “Did you hear?” said Dick.
“Yes,” said Katafa. “I heard.” She was standing close to him, her head thrown back, listening.
The moon in its first quarter had risen above the trees and a wan rosy light fell on Dick, on Katafa, on the house beside which Nan leaned on his pole and within which could be dimly discovered the outline of the little ships.
DICK, as though fearful of listeners, raised his finger and then motioned to Katafa to follow him, leading the way towards the trees on the opposite side. He had not gone a dozen paces when, remembering his spear, he turned back for it and then resuming the lead, plunged amongst the trees keeping along the lagoon bank, the glitter of the water shewing through the branches and the green glow of the forest lighting them as they walked, in single file, and silent as Indians on the war path in a hostile country.
As they drew close to the eastern beach a red spark of light shewed through the leaves ahead. A fire was burning on the beach and as Dick parted the last branches and stood, Katafa beside him, the fire blazed up till the trunks of the cocoa palms took the light.
A boat was beached near the fire around which half a dozen dark, nearly naked men were busy cooking, whilst two white men dressed as Kearney had been dressed, were seated on the sands, knees up, with a bottle before them. Some drinking nuts lay close to the man on the left.
Away out on the lagoon the Morning Light lay at her moorings, the ebb shewing a silver streak where the chain met it and where it passed away astern.
Katafa drew closer and drew her arm round Dick.
The dark, naked men swarming about the cooking fire fascinated her. Never had she seen such faces. The people of Karolin owing to a Milanesian taint were fierce enough and some of them were plain enough, but the ugliest man of Karolin would have been handsome compared with any of these.
Recruited from the New Hebrides and beyond, naked but for a gee string, with slit ear lobes and nose rings all complete, they seemed less like men than apes, less like apes than devils.
Sometimes one of the two men seated would cry out a harsh order or rise to boot one of the ape men, and now, as Katafa watched, something broke the lagoon near the schooner, another boat laden with stores, tent poles, canvas, crawling slowly across the lagoon to beach where the zone of firelight met the ripples of the out-going tide.
Dick drew Katafa away, the branches closed, and, turning, they made their way back through the clear clean night of the woods, the green gloom of the thickets, the glades where the young moon lit the ferns.
What had happened to the island, to the night, to the very trees, to life itself? How and in what way did they sense the fact that what they had seen was bad, they who knew not even the name of evil, and how and in what way did they know that what had come had come to stay? That something had broken in on them, ncomprehensible but loathsome, that the island would never be the same again.
Not a word did they speak the whole way back to the house, Dick leading, Katafa following. The most extraordinary thing in their strange life alone and cut off from the world was the fact that though they spoke little to each other with their tongues, they were always conversing together, a movement, a look, a touch, a change of expression could convey what would have taken a dozen words to convey, and above and beyond that they had a mind relationship perhaps purely psychic. They could think together. Often some wish or want of Dick would be understood by Katafa, and before he could stretch out his hand for something, it would be handed to him. Or a wish of Katafa’s would become known to Dick without a word conveying it.
Arrived at the house, they consulted together for a moment.
“From where have they come?” asked Katafa—as though Dick could know.
HE SHOOK his head, and standing with eyes fixed on the house and his brow wrinkled, he came to a sudden decision. Everything must be hidden, even the dinghy, they must take to the trees—and before he had finished speaking, Katafa who knew his mind, turned to the house whilst he ran down to the lagoon bank where the dinghy was moored, saw that the mast and sail were in her and that the fishing gear was safe in the locker. There were three fish spears in the boat, he let them lie. Then running back to the house he helped in the removal of the things.
The dinghy of the Rarotonga was an outsized boat of her type, carvel built, broad of beam and with plenty of space for their wants. They brought nearly everything down, Nan and the little ships which they placed in the bow, the two mats on which they slept, the axe and saw, a knife, and a huge bunch of bananas that Dick had cut two days before. Everything they treasured they took away leaving everything else, the plates, the cooking utensils and all the stuff in the shack behind the house. Then when they had finished, they got in and Dick, taking the sculls, brought the boat to the cape where the wild cocoanuts and arita bushes spread out over the water, then, taking in the sculls and seizing the branches, he dragged the boat in,far¿n till the branches and bushes covered her entirely and tied
up to a root. Then, avoiding the house, they made their bed amidst the trees where Katafa had slept once.
Neither of them spoke of the thing that had been in the depths of their minds since, standing on the hill top yesterday morning, Dick had pointed to the stain on the Southern sky,
The call that had come to them had remained unspoken of; mysterious as the call of the south to the northern swallow, the call of the great lagoon island would have fetched them at last as the suck of the whirlpool fetches flotsam remote from it and seemingly beyond attraction, but the scene on the Eastern beach to-night had brought them leagues closer to their goal. The instinct to seek Karolin had been joined to the desire for flight; the Morning Light and her crew had acted as the touch of cold that intensifies the swallows’ vision of the palm trees and the south. It was only when, the dinghy loaded and securely hidden, they laid themselves down in the nest of fern that Dick spoke.
“If they stay,” said Dick, “we will go there.”
“Karolin?” said Katafa, “but if the big canoe is not gone, how can we pass it?”
“We will pass it,” said Dick.
HE HAD brought some bananas from the dinghy for their supper, he divided them and as they ate he sketched the plan that had formulated itself in his mind.
If the new people left to-morrow, it
June 1, 1923
would make no difference—they would start for Karolin; if the new people remained it would make no difference, they would start all the same, with the slack to the tide to-morrow night, late, when the newcomers were asleep, they would put down the lagoon and make past the big canoe for the break, the big canoe would not stop them.
He spoke with the assurance of daring and power, but quietly as though he were speaking of some ordinary matter.
They would sail for the south, “Naya.” The wind from the north that had been dying and waking again all day was blowing strong again, it would last like that for days, it was the prevailing wind of the year and the moon was a fair weather moon.
Then he went calmly asleep with Katafa’s arm across him, but she could not sleep.
She was already in her imagination on her way to her old home. The men of Karolin were all dead, their bones were whitening in the trees up there, there was nothing to fear. Only the women and .children were left and Uta Matu the old king, worn out and approaching his end.
With her woman’s imagination, she saw Dick, the man she loved and gloried in; standing -on the beach of Karolin, King and ruler.
Perhaps it was a pre-vision of this and the whitening bones of the men of Karolin that had made Le Juan years ago urge Uta Matu to destroy Katafa, and, failing, made her segregate the girl under the tabu of Tamina. Who knows?
To be concluded in ' the next issue.