“It was for that that Tu-Kila-Kila sent me here,” the Shadow answered, with profound conviction. “He is jealous, the great god. He is bad. He is cruel. He wanted to get rid of me. So he sent me away to the King of the Rain that I might not see you.”
Ula pouted, and held up her wounded finger before his eyes coquettishly. “See what he did to me,” she said, with a mute appeal for sympathy—though in that particular matter the truth was not in her. “Your god was angry with me to-day because I hurt his hand, and he clutched me by the throat, and almost choked me. He has a bad heart. See how he bit me and drew blood. Some of these days, I believe, he will kill me and eat me.”
The Shadow glanced around him suspiciously with an uneasy air. Then he whispered low, in a voice half grudge, half terror, “If he does, he is a great god—he can search all the world—I fear him much, but Toko’s heart is warm. Let Tu-Kila-Kila look out for vengeance.”
The woman glanced across at him open-eyed, with her enticing look. “If the King of the Rain, who is Korong, knew all the secret,” she murmured, slowly, “he would soon be Tu-Kila-Kila himself; and you and I could then meet together freely.”
The Shadow started. It was a terrible suggestion. “You mean to say—” he cried; then fear overcame him, and, crouching down where he sat, he gazed around him, terrified. Who could say that the wind would not report his words to Tu-Kila-Kila?
Ula laughed at his fears. “Pooh,” she answered, smiling. “You are a man; and yet you are afraid of a little taboo. I am a woman; and yet if I knew the secret as you do, I would break taboo as easily as I would break an egg-shell. I would tell the white-faced stranger all—if only it would bring you and me together forever.”
“It is a great risk, a very great risk,” the Shadow answered, trembling. “Tu-Kila-Kila is a mighty god. He may be listening this moment, and may pinch us to death by his spirits for our words, or burn us to ashes with a flash of his anger.”
The woman smiled an incredulous smile. “If you had lived as near Tu-Kila-Kila as I have,” she answered, boldly, “you would think as little, perhaps, of his divinity as I do.”
For even in Polynesia, superstitious as it is, no hero is a god to his wives or his valets.
METHUSELAH GIVES SIGN.
All the hopes of the three Europeans were concentrated now on the bare off-chance of a passing steamer. M. Peyron in particular was fully convinced that, if the Australasian had found the inner channel practicable, other ships in future would follow her example. With this idea firmly fixed in his head, he arranged with Felix that one or other of them should keep watch alternately by night as far as possible; and he also undertook that a canoe should constantly be in readiness to carry them away to the supposititious ship, if