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Joseph M. Carey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 188 pages of information about Tales of Unrest.
or death, with the same serenity of attitude and voice.  He understood irrigation and the art of war—­the qualities of weapons and the craft of boat-building.  He could conceal his heart; had more endurance; he could swim longer, and steer a canoe better than any of his people; he could shoot straighter, and negotiate more tortuously than any man of his race I knew.  He was an adventurer of the sea, an outcast, a ruler—­and my very good friend.  I wish him a quick death in a stand-up fight, a death in sunshine; for he had known remorse and power, and no man can demand more from life.  Day after day he appeared before us, incomparably faithful to the illusions of the stage, and at sunset the night descended upon him quickly, like a falling curtain.  The seamed hills became black shadows towering high upon a clear sky; above them the glittering confusion of stars resembled a mad turmoil stilled by a gesture; sounds ceased, men slept, forms vanished—­and the reality of the universe alone remained—­a marvellous thing of darkness and glimmers.

II

But it was at night that he talked openly, forgetting the exactions of his stage.  In the daytime there were affairs to be discussed in state.  There were at first between him and me his own splendour, my shabby suspicions, and the scenic landscape that intruded upon the reality of our lives by its motionless fantasy of outline and colour.  His followers thronged round him; above his head the broad blades of their spears made a spiked halo of iron points, and they hedged him from humanity by the shimmer of silks, the gleam of weapons, the excited and respectful hum of eager voices.  Before sunset he would take leave with ceremony, and go off sitting under a red umbrella, and escorted by a score of boats.  All the paddles flashed and struck together with a mighty splash that reverberated loudly in the monumental amphitheatre of hills.  A broad stream of dazzling foam trailed behind the flotilla.  The canoes appeared very black on the white hiss of water; turbaned heads swayed back and forth; a multitude of arms in crimson and yellow rose and fell with one movement; the spearmen upright in the bows of canoes had variegated sarongs and gleaming shoulders like bronze statues; the muttered strophes of the paddlers’ song ended periodically in a plaintive shout.  They diminished in the distance; the song ceased; they swarmed on the beach in the long shadows of the western hills.  The sunlight lingered on the purple crests, and we could see him leading the way to his stockade, a burly bareheaded figure walking far in advance of a straggling cortege, and swinging regularly an ebony staff taller than himself.  The darkness deepened fast; torches gleamed fitfully, passing behind bushes; a long hail or two trailed in the silence of the evening; and at last the night stretched its smooth veil over the shore, the lights, and the voices.

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