THE STRANGER AGAIN ARRIVES IN THE VALLEY--SINGULAR INTERVIEW WITHHIM--ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE--FAILURE--MELANCHOLY SITUATION--SYMPATHYOF MARHEYO
'MARNOO, Marnoo pemi!' Such were the welcome sounds which fellupon my ear some ten days after the events related in thepreceding chapter. Once more the approach of the stranger washeralded, and the intelligence operated upon me like magic. Again I should be able to converse with him in my own language;and I resolve at all hazards to concert with him some scheme,however desperate, to rescue me from a condition that had nowbecome insupportable.
As he drew near, I remembered with many misgivings theinauspicious termination of our former interview, and when heentered the house, I watched with intense anxiety the receptionhe met with from its inmates. To my joy, his appearance washailed with the liveliest pleasure; and accosting me kindly, heseated himself by my, side, and entered into conversation withthe natives around him. It soon appeared however, that on thisoccasion he had not any intelligence of importance tocommunicate. I inquired of him from whence he had just come? Hereplied from Pueearka, his native valley, and that he intended toreturn to it the same day.
At once it struck me that, could I but reach that valley underhis protection, I might easily from thence reach Nukuheva bywater; and animated by the prospect which this plan held, out Idisclosed it in a few brief words to the stranger, and asked himhow it could be best accomplished. My heart sunk within me, whenin his broken English he answered me that it could never beeffected. 'Kanaka no let you go nowhere,' he said; 'you taboo.Why you no like to stay? Plenty moee-moee (sleep)--plenty ki-ki(eat)--plenty wahenee (young girls)--Oh, very good place Typee! Suppose you no like this bay, why you come? You no hear aboutTypee? All white men afraid Typee, so no white men come.'
These words distressed me beyond belief; and when I had againrelated to him the circumstances under which I had descended intothe valley, and sought to enlist his sympathies in my behalf byappealing to the bodily misery I had endure, he listened withimpatience, and cut me short by exclaiming passionately, 'Me nohear you talk any more; by by Kanaka get mad, kill you and metoo. No you see he no want you to speak at all?--you see--ah! by by you no mind--you get well, he kill you, eat you, hang youhead up there, like Happar Kanaka.--Now you listen--but no talkany more. By by I go;--you see way I go--Ah! then some nightKanaka all moee-moee (sleep)--you run away, you come Pueearka. Ispeak Pueearka Kanaka--he no harm you--ah! then I take you mycanoe Nukuheva--and you run away ship no more.' With thesewords, enforced by a vehemence of gesture I cannot describe,Marnoo started from my side, and immediately engaged inconversation with some of the chiefs who had entered the house.
It would have been idle for me to have attempted resuming theinterview so peremptorily terminated by Marnoo, who was evidentlylittle disposed to compromise his own safety by any rashendeavour to ensure mine. But the plan he had suggested struckme as one which might possibly be accomplished, and I resolved toact upon it as speedily as possible.
Accordingly, when he arose to depart, I accompanied him with thenatives outside of the house, with a view of carefully noting thepath he would take in leaving the valley. Just before leapingfrom the pi-pi he clasped my hand, and looking significantly atme, exclaimed, 'Now you see--you do what I tell you--ah! thenyou do good;--you no do so--ah! then you die.' The next momenthe waved his spear to the islanders, and following the route thatconducted to a defile in the mountains lying opposite the Happarside, was soon out of sight.
A mode of escape was now presented to me, but how was I to availmyself of it? I was continually surrounded by the savages; Icould not stir from one house to another without being attendedby some of them; and even during the hours devoted to slumber,the slightest movement which I made seemed to attract the noticeof those who shared the mats with me. In spite of theseobstacles, however, I determined forthwith to make the attempt. To do so with any prospect of success, it was necessary that Ishould have at least two hours start before the islanders shoulddiscover my absence; for with such facility was any alarm spreadthrough the valley, and so familiar, of course, were theinhabitants with the intricacies of the groves, that I could nothope, lame and feeble as I was, and ignorant of the route, tosecure my escape unless I had this advantage. It was also bynight alone that I could hope to accomplish my object, and thenonly by adopting the utmost precaution.
The entrance to Marheyo's habitation was through a low narrowopening in its wicker-work front. This passage, for noconceivable reason that I could devise, was always closed afterthe household had retired to rest, by drawing a heavy slideacross it, composed of a dozen or more bits of wood, ingeniouslyfastened together by seizings of sinnate. When any of theinmates chose to go outside, the noise occasioned by the removingof this rude door awakened every body else; and on more than oneoccasion I had remarked that the islanders were nearly asirritable as more civilized beings under similar circumstances.
The difficulty thus placed in my way I, determined to obviate inthe following manner. I would get up boldly in the course of thenight, and drawing the slide, issue from the house, and pretendthat my object was merely to procure a drink from the calabash,which always stood without the dwelling on the corner of thepi-pi. On re-entering I would purposely omit closing the passageafter me, and trusting that the indolence of the savages wouldprevent them from repairing my neglect, would return to my mat,and waiting patiently until all were again asleep, I would thensteal forth, and at once take the route to Pueearka.
The very night which followed Marnoo's departure, I proceeded toput this project into execution. About midnight, as I imagined,I arose and drew the slide. The natives, just as I had expected,started up, while some of them asked, 'Arware poo awa, Tommo?'(where are you going, Tommo?) 'Wai' (water) I laconicallyanswered, grasping the calabash. On hearing my reply they sankback again, and in a minute or two I returned to my mat,anxiously awaiting the result of the experiment.
One after another the savages, turning restlessly, appeared toresume their slumbers, and rejoicing at the stillness whichprevailed, I was about to rise again from my couch, when I hearda slight rustling--a dark form was intercepted between me and thedoorway--the slide was drawn across it, and the individual,whoever he was, returned to his mat. This was a sad blow to me;but as it might have aroused the suspicions of the islanders tohave made another attempt that night, I was reluctantly obligedto defer it until the next. Several times after I repeated thesame manoeuvre, but with as little success as before. As mypretence for withdrawing from the house was to allay my thirst,Kory-Kory either suspecting some design on my part, or elseprompted by a desire to please me, regularly every evening placeda calabash of water by my side.
Even, under these inauspicious circumstances I again and againrenewed the attempt, but when I did so, my valet always rose withme, as if determined I should not remove myself from hisobservation. For the present, therefore, I was obliged toabandon the attempt; but I endeavoured to console myself with theidea that by this mode I might yet effect my escape.
Shortly after Marnoo's visit I was reduced to such a state thatit was with extreme difficulty I could walk, even with theassistance of a spear, and Kory-Kory, as formerly, was obliged tocarry me daily to the stream.
For hours and hours during the warmest part of the day I lay uponmy mat, and while those around me were nearly all dozing away incareless ease, I remained awake, gloomily pondering over the fatewhich it appeared now idle for me to resist, when I thought ofthe loved friends who were thousands and thousands of miles fromthe savage island in which I was held a captive, when I reflectedthat my dreadful fate would for ever be concealed from them, andthat with hope deferred they might continue to await my returnlong after my inanimate form had blended with the dust of thevalley--I could not repress a shudder of anguish.
How vividly is impressed upon my mind every minute feature of thescene which met my view during those long days of suffering andsorrow. At my request my mats were always spread directly facingthe door, opposite which, and at a little distance, was the hutof boughs that Marheyo was building.
Whenever my gentle Fayaway and Kory-Kory, laying themselves downbeside me, would leave me awhile to uninterrupted repose, I tooka strange interest in the slightest movements of the eccentricold warrior. All alone during the stillness of the tropicalmid-day, he would pursue his quiet work, sitting in the shade andweaving together the leaflets of his cocoanut branches, orrolling upon his knee the twisted fibres of bark to form thecords with which he tied together the thatching of his tinyhouse. Frequently suspending his employment, and noticing mymelancholy eye fixed upon him, he would raise his hand with agesture expressive of deep commiseration, and then moving towardsme slowly, would enter on tip-toes, fearful of disturbing theslumbering natives, and, taking the fan from my hand, would sitbefore me, swaying it gently to and fro, and gazing earnestlyinto my face.
Just beyond the pi-pi, and disposed in a triangle before theentrance of the house, were three magnificent bread-fruit trees. At this moment I can recap to my mind their slender shafts, andthe graceful inequalities of their bark, on which my eye wasaccustomed to dwell day after day in the midst of my solitarymusings. It is strange how inanimate objects will twinethemselves into our affections, especially in the hour ofaffliction. Even now, amidst all the bustle and stir of theproud and busy city in which I am dwelling, the image of thosethree trees seems to come as vividly before my eyes as if theywere actually present, and I still feel the soothing quietpleasure which I then had in watching hour after hour theirtopmost boughs waving gracefully in the breeze.