by Herman Melville

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Chapter Thirteen



AMIDST these novel scenes a week passed away almostimperceptibly. The natives, actuated by some mysterious impulse,day after day redoubled their attentions to us. Their mannertowards us was unaccountable. Surely, thought I, they would notact thus if they meant us any harm. But why this excess ofdeferential kindness, or what equivalent can they imagine uscapable of rendering them for it?

We were fairly puzzled. But despite the apprehensions I couldnot dispel, the horrible character imputed to these Typeesappeared to be wholly undeserved.

'Why, they are cannibals!' said Toby on one occasion when Ieulogized the tribe. 'Granted,' I replied, 'but a more humane,gentlemanly and amiable set of epicures do not probably exist inthe Pacific.'

But, notwithstanding the kind treatment we received, I was toofamiliar with the fickle disposition of savages not to feelanxious to withdraw from the valley, and put myself beyond thereach of that fearful death which, under all these smilingappearances, might yet menace us. But here there was an obstaclein the way of doing so. It was idle for me to think of movingfrom the place until I should have recovered from the severelameness that afflicted me; indeed my malady began seriously toalarm me; for, despite the herbal remedies of the natives, itcontinued to grow worse and worse. Their mild applications,though they soothed the pain, did not remove the disorder, and Ifelt convinced that without better aid I might anticipate longand acute suffering.

But how was this aid to be procured? From the surgeons of theFrench fleet, which probably still lay in the bay of Nukuheva, itmight easily have been obtained, could I have made my case knownto them. But how could that be effected?

At last, in the exigency to which I was reduced, I proposed toToby that he should endeavour to go round to Nukuheva, and if hecould not succeed in returning to the valley by water, in one ofthe boats of the squadron, and taking me off, he might at leastprocure me some proper medicines, and effect his return overland.

My companion listened to me in silence, and at first did notappear to relish the idea. The truth was, he felt impatient toescape from the place, and wished to avail himself of our presenthigh favour with the natives to make good our retreat, before weshould experience some sudden alteration in their behaviour. Ashe could not think of leaving me in my helpless condition, heimplored me to be of good cheer; assured me that I should soon bebetter, and enabled in a few days to return with him to Nukuheva.

Added to this, he could not bear the idea of again returning tothis dangerous place; and as for the expectation of persuadingthe Frenchmen to detach a boat's crew for the purpose of rescuingme from the Typees, he looked upon it as idle; and with argumentsthat I could not answer, urged the improbability of theirprovoking the hostilities of the clan by any such measure;especially, as for the purpose of quieting its apprehensions,they had as yet refrained from making any visit to the bay. 'Andeven should they consent,' said Toby, 'they would only produce acommotion in the valley, in which we might both be sacrificed bythese ferocious islanders.' This was unanswerable; but still Iclung to the belief that he might succeed in accomplishing theother part of my plan; and at last I overcame his scruples, andhe agreed to make the attempt.

As soon as we succeeded in making the natives understand ourintention, they broke out into the most vehement opposition tothe measure, and for a while I almost despaired of obtainingtheir consent. At the bare thought of one of us leaving them,they manifested the most lively concern. The grief andconsternation of Kory-Kory, in particular, was unbounded; hethrew himself into a perfect paroxysm of gestures which wereintended to convey to us not only his abhorrence of Nukuheva andits uncivilized inhabitants, but also his astonishment that afterbecoming acquainted with the enlightened Typees, we should evincethe least desire to withdraw, even for a time, from theiragreeable society.

However, I overbore his objections by appealing to my lameness;from which I assured the natives I should speedily recover ifToby were permitted to obtain the supplies I needed.

It was agreed that on the following morning my companion shoulddepart, accompanied by some one or two of the household, whoshould point out to him an easy route, by which the bay might bereached before sunset.

At early dawn of the next day, our habitation was astir. One ofthe young men mounted into an adjoining cocoanut tree, and threwdown a number of the young fruit, which old Marheyo quicklystripped of the green husks, and strung together upon a shortpole. These were intended to refresh Toby on his route.

The preparations being completed, with no little emotion I bademy companion adieu. He promised to return in three days atfarthest; and, bidding me keep up my spirits in the interval,turned round the corner of the pi-pi, and, under the guidance ofthe venerable Marheyo, was soon out of sight. His departureoppressed me with melancholy, and, re-entering the dwelling, Ithrew myself almost in despair upon the matting of the floor.

In two hours' time the old warrior returned, and gave me tounderstand that after accompanying my companion a littledistance, and showing him the route, he had left him journeyingon his way.

It was about noon of this same day, a season which these peopleare wont to pass in sleep, that I lay in the house, surrounded byits slumbering inmates, and painfully affected by the strangesilence which prevailed. All at once I thought I heard a faintshout, as if proceeding from some persons in the depth of thegrove which extended in front of our habitation.

The sounds grew louder and nearer, and gradually the whole valleyrang with wild outcries. The sleepers around me started to theirfeet in alarm, and hurried outside to discover the cause of thecommotion. Kory-Kory, who had been the first to spring up, soonreturned almost breathless, and nearly frantic with theexcitement under which he seemed to be labouring. All that Icould understand from him was that some accident had happened toToby. Apprehensive of some dreadful calamity, I rushed out ofthe house, and caught sight of a tumultuous crowd, who, withshrieks and lamentations, were just emerging from the grovebearing in their arms some object, the sight of which producedall this transport of sorrow. As they drew near, the menredoubled their cries, while the girls, tossing their bare armsin the air, exclaimed plaintively, 'Awha! awha! Toby mukeemoee!'--Alas! alas! Toby is killed!

In a moment the crowd opened, and disclosed the apparentlylifeless body of my companion home between two men, the headhanging heavily against the breast of the foremost. The wholeface, neck, back, and bosom were covered with blood, which stilltrickled slowly from a wound behind the temple. In the midst ofthe greatest uproar and confusion the body was carried into thehouse and laid on a mat. Waving the natives off to give room andair, I bent eagerly over Toby, and, laying my hand upon thebreast, ascertained that the heart still beat. Overjoyed atthis, I seized a calabash of water, and dashed its contents uponhis face, then wiping away the blood, anxiously examined thewound. It was about three inches long, and on removing theclotted hair from about it, showed the skull laid completelybare. Immediately with my knife I cut away the heavy locks, andbathed the part repeatedly in water.

In a few moments Toby revived, and opening his eyes for asecond--closed them again without speaking. Kory-Kory, who hadbeen kneeling beside me, now chafed his limbs gently with thepalms of his hands, while a young girl at his head kept fanninghim, and I still continued to moisten his lips and brow. Soon mypoor comrade showed signs of animation, and I succeeded in makinghim swallow from a cocoanut shell a few mouthfuls of water.

Old Tinor now appeared, holding in her hand some simples she hadgathered, the juice of which she by signs besought me to squeezeinto the wound. Having done so, I thought it best to leave Tobyundisturbed until he should have had time to rally his faculties.Several times he opened his lips, but fearful for his safety Ienjoined silence. In the course of two or three hours, however,he sat up, and was sufficiently recovered to tell me what hadoccurred.

'After leaving the house with Marheyo,' said Toby, 'we struckacross the valley, and ascended the opposite heights. Justbeyond them, my guide informed me, lay the valley of Happar,while along their summits, and skirting the head of the vale, wasmy route to Nukuheva. After mounting a little way up theelevation my guide paused, and gave me to understand that hecould not accompany me any farther, and by various signsintimated that he was afraid to approach any nearer theterritories of the enemies of his tribe. He however pointed outmy path, which now lay clearly before me, and bidding mefarewell, hastily descended the mountain.

'Quite elated at being so near the Happars, I pushed up theacclivity, and soon gained its summit. It tapered to a sharpridge, from whence I beheld both the hostile valleys. Here I satdown and rested for a moment, refreshing myself with mycocoanuts. I was soon again pursuing my way along the height,when suddenly I saw three of the islanders, who must have justcome out of Happar valley, standing in the path ahead of me. They were each armed with a heavy spear, and one from hisappearance I took to be a chief. They sung out something, Icould not understand what, and beckoned me to come on.

'Without the least hesitation I advanced towards them, and hadapproached within about a yard of the foremost, when, pointingangrily into the Typee valley, and uttering some savageexclamation, he wheeled round his weapon like lightning, andstruck me in a moment to the ground. The blow inflicted thiswound, and took away my senses. As soon as I came to myself, Iperceived the three islanders standing a little distance off, andapparently engaged in some violent altercation respecting me.

'My first impulse was to run for it; but, in endeavouring torise, I fell back, and rolled down a little grassy precipice. The shock seemed to rally my faculties; so, starting to my feet,I fled down the path I had just ascended. I had no need to lookbehind me, for, from the yells I heard, I knew that my enemieswere in full pursuit. Urged on by their fearful outcries, andheedless of the injury I had received--though the blood flowingfrom the wound trickled over into my eyes and almost blindedme--I rushed down the mountain side with the speed of the wind. In a short time I had descended nearly a third of the distance,and the savages had ceased their cries, when suddenly a terrifichowl burst upon my ear, and at the same moment a heavy javelindarted past me as I fled, and stuck quivering in a tree close tome. Another yell followed, and a second spear and a third shotthrough the air within a few feet of my body, both of thempiercing the ground obliquely in advance of me. The fellows gavea roar of rage and disappointment; but they were afraid, Isuppose, of coming down further into the Typee valley, and soabandoned the chase. I saw them recover their weapons and turnback; and I continued my descent as fast as I could.

'What could have caused this ferocious attack on the part ofthese Happars I could not imagine, unless it were that they hadseen me ascending the mountain with Marheyo, and that the merefact of coming from the Typee valley was sufficient to provokethem.

'As long as I was in danger I scarcely felt the wound I hadreceived; but when the chase was over I began to suffer from it. I had lost my hat in the flight, and the run scorched my barehead. I felt faint and giddy; but, fearful of falling to theground beyond the reach of assistance, I staggered on as well asI could, and at last gained the level of the valley, and thendown I sank; and I knew nothing more until I found myself lyingupon these mats, and you stooping over me with the calabash ofwater.'

Such was Toby's account of this sad affair. I afterwards learnedthat, fortunately, he had fallen close to a spot where thenatives go for fuel. A party of them caught sight of him as hefell, and sounding the alarm, had lifted him up; and afterineffectually endeavouring to restore him at the brook, hadhurried forward with him to the house.

This incident threw a dark cloud over our prospects. It remindedus that we were hemmed in by hostile tribes, whose territories wecould not hope to pass, on our route to Nukuheva, withoutencountering the effects of their savage resentment. Thereappeared to be no avenue opened to our escape but the sea, whichwashed the lower extremities of the vale.

Our Typee friends availed themselves of the recent disaster ofToby to exhort us to a due appreciation of the blessings weenjoyed among them, contrasting their own generous reception ofus with the animosity of their neighbours. They likewise dweltupon the cannibal propensities of the Happars, a subject whichthey were perfectly aware could not fail to alarm us; while atthe same time they earnestly disclaimed all participation in sohorrid a custom. Nor did they omit to call upon us to admire thenatural loveliness of their own abode, and the lavish abundancewith which it produced all manner of luxuriant fruits; exaltingit in this particular above any of the surrounding valleys.

Kory-Kory seemed to experience so heartfelt a desire to infuseinto our minds proper views on these subjects, that, assisted inhis endeavours by the little knowledge of the language we hadacquired, he actually made us comprehend a considerable part ofwhat he said. To facilitate our correct apprehension of hismeaning, he at first condensed his ideas into the smallestpossible compass.

'Happar keekeeno nuee,' he exclaimed, 'nuee, nuee, ki kikannaka!--ah! owle motarkee!' which signifies, 'Terrible fellowsthose Happars!--devour an amazing quantity of men!--ah, shockingbad!' Thus far he explained himself by a variety of gestures,during the performance of which he would dart out of the house,and point abhorrently towards the Happar valley; running in to usagain with a rapidity that showed he was fearful he would loseone part of his meaning before he could complete the other; andcontinuing his illustrations by seizing the fleshy part of my armin his teeth, intimating by the operation that the people wholived over in that direction would like nothing better than totreat me in that manner.

Having assured himself that we were fully enlightened on thispoint, he proceeded to another branch of his subject. 'Ah! Typee mortakee!--nuee, nuee mioree--nuee, nuee wai--nuee, nueepoee-poee--nuee, nuee kokoo--ah! nuee, nuee kiki--ah! nuee,nuee, nuee!' Which literally interpreted as before, would imply,'Ah, Typee! isn't it a fine place though!--no danger of starvinghere, I tell you!--plenty of bread-fruit--plenty of water--plentyof pudding--ah! plenty of everything! ah! heaps, heaps heaps!' All this was accompanied by a running commentary of signs andgestures which it was impossible not to comprehend.

As he continued his harangue, however, Kory-Kory, in emulation ofour more polished orators, began to launch out rather diffuselyinto other branches of his subject, enlarging probably upon themoral reflections it suggested; and proceeded in such a strain ofunintelligible and stunning gibberish, that he actually gave methe headache for the rest of the day.

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It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.