“Well sir, that kid threw himself down on the floor, and he said, ‘McHenry, I knowed you was goin’ away and I had to come to see you.’ That’s what he said in his Kanaka lingo.
“He was cryin’, and he looked pretty bad. He said he couldn’t stand the settlement. He said, ’I don’t never see you there. Can’t I live here an’ be Your Dog again?’
“I said, ‘You got to go to the settlement.’ I wasn’t goin’ to get into trouble on account of no Kanaka kid.
“Now, that kid had swum about five miles in the night, with sharks all around him—the very place where his father had gone into a shark. That kid thought a lot of me. Well, I made him go back. ’If you don’t go, the doctor will come, an’ then you got to go,’ I said. ’You better get out. I’m goin’ away, anyhow,’ I said. I was figuring on my accounts, an’ I didn’t want to be bothered with no fool kid.
“Well, he hung around awhile, makin’ a fuss, till I opened the door an’ told him to git. Then he went quiet enough. He went right down the beach into the water an’ swum away, back to the settlement. Now look here, that kid liked me. He knowed me well, too—he was around my store pretty near all the time I was in Penryn. He was a fool kid. My Dog, that was the name he give himself. An’ while I was in T’yti, here, I get a letter from the trader that took over my store, and he sent me a letter from that kid. It was wrote in Kanaka. He couldn’t write much, but a little. Here, I’ll show you the letter. You’ll see what that kid thought of me.”
In the light from the open cabin window I read the letter, painfully written on cheap, blue-lined paper.
“Greetings to you, McHenry, in Tahiti, from Your Dog. It is hard to live without you. It is long since I have seen you. It is hard. I go to join my father. I give myself to the mako. To you, McHenry, from Your Dog, greetings and farewell.”
Across the bottom of the letter was written in English: “The kid disappeared from the leper settlement. They think he drowned himself.”
Thirty-seven days at sea; life of the sea-birds; strange phosphorescence; first sight of Fatu-hiva; history of the islands; chant of the Raiateans.
Thirty-seven days at sea brought us to the eve of our landing in Hiva-oa in the Marquesas. Thirty-seven monotonous days, varied only by rain-squalls and sun, by calm or threatening seas, by the changing sky. Rarely a passing schooner lifted its sail above the far circle of the horizon. It was as though we journeyed through space to another world.
Yet all around us there was life—life in a thousand varying forms, filling the sea and the air. On calm mornings the swelling waves were splashed by myriads of leaping fish, the sky was the playground of innumerable birds, soaring, diving, following their accustomed ways through their own strange world oblivious of the human creatures imprisoned on a bit of wood below them. Surrounded by a universe filled with pulsing, sentient life clothed in such multitudinous forms, man learns humility. He shrinks to a speck on an illimitable ocean.