“When he spoke, the spirit with whom the tahu was familiar let down a cloud and from it fell a fringe of varied hues. Pipiri Ma seized the threads that looked the most seducing, threads of gold and rose, and upon these they climbed to the skies. Their parents who saw them as they ascended, begged them, ’Pipiri Ma, come back! Oh, come back to us!’ but the babes were already high in the heavens, higher than Orohena, the loftiest mountain, and their voices came almost from under the sun: ’No, we will never return. The fishing with the torches might be bad again. It might not be good for the children.’
“Taua and Rehua went back to their hut in tears. Whenever the torchlight fishing was bountiful, and the fish were glowing on the hot stones of the umu, Rehua lifted sorrowful eyes toward the skies, and vainly supplicated, ‘Pipiri Ma, return to us!’ and Taua answered, shaking his head with a doleful and unbelieving nod, ’Alas! it is over. Pipiri Ma will not come back, for one day the torchlight fishing was bad for the children.’”
Tiura finished with a finger pointing to Antares, of the Scorpion constellation.
“That,” he concluded, “is the cloud which was itself transformed.”
The doctor shook out his pipe as we entered the flimsy hut.
“Sounds like it was written by a child who wanted a continuous supply of sweets, but these people are so crazy on children that their legends point a moral to parents and never to the kiddies. They reverse ‘Honor thy father and mother.’”
In the morning the Valley of Vaihiria unrolled under the rays of the sun like a spreading green carpet, and the sea in the distance, a mirror, sent back the darts of the beams. After breakfast we built a raft of banana-trunks, which we tied with lianas, and on it we floated about to observe the big-eared eels. Except by the shore the natives warned us against swimming for fear of these monsters, but we were not disturbed. We looked into the dismal pit, Apo Taria, and tumbled rocks down it.
“It has no bottom,” said Tiura. “We have sounded it with our longest ropes.”
The sun was now climbing high, and we began the descent, moving at a fast pace, leaping, slipping and sliding, with the use of the rope, and arriving at the Chefferie a little after noon.
The long draft of a cocoanut, a full quart of delicious, cooling refreshment, and we were ready for the oysters and the fish and taro.
The Arioi, minstrels of the tropics—Lovaina tells of the infanticide—Theories of depopulation—Methods of the Arioi—Destroyed by missionaries.
Lovaina came out to Mataiea with the news and gossip of the capital. A wretched tragedy had shocked the community. Pepe, the woman of Tuatini, had buried her new-born infant alive in the garden of the house opposite the Tiare Hotel. Lovaina was full of the horror of it, but with a just appreciation of the crime as a happening worth telling. The chefferie was filled with aues.