“’Make ready with dancing. Polish spears and gather stones for the slings. Koe, who is my man, will be obeyed while I am gone. I have spoken,’ said Tomefitu. That night Tomefitu and I, with four others, went silently to Otoputo, the dividing rock that looks down on the right into the valley of Taaoa and on the left into Atuona. There we lay among rocks and bushes and spied upon the feet of the enemy. That man who separated himself from others and came our way to seek food, or to visit at the house of a friend, him we secretly fell upon, and slew.
“Thus we did to the six named by Tomefitu, and as we killed them, we sent them back by others to the High Place. There the warriors feasted upon them and gained strength for battle.
“Then, missing so many of their clan, the head men of Atuona came to Otoputo, and shouted to us to give word of the absent. We shouted back, saying that those men had been roasted upon the fire and eaten, and that thus we would do to all men of Atuona. And we laughed at them.”
Kahuiti emitted a hearty guffaw at thought of the trick played upon those devoured enemies.
“But Tufetu, the grandfather of my friend Mouth of God?” I persisted.
“Epo! There was war. The men of Atuona gathered at Otupoto, and rushed down upon us. We met them at the Stinking Springs, and there I killed Tufetu, uncle of Sliced and Distributed and Man Whose Entrails Were Roasted On A Stick. I pierced him through with my spear at a cocoanut-tree’s length away. I was the best spear-thrower of Taaoa. We drove the Atuonans through the gorge of the Stinking Springs and over the divide, and I ate the right arm of Tufetu that had wielded the war-club. That gives a man the strength of his enemy.”
He turned again to plaiting the rope of faufee.
“O ia aneihe, I have finished,” he said. “Will you drink kava?”
“No, I will not drink kava,” I said sternly. “Kahuiti, is it not good that the eating of men is stopped?”
The majestic chief looked at me, his deep brown eyes looking child-like in their band of blue ink. For ten seconds he stared at me fixedly, and then smiled uncertainly, as may have Peter the fisherman when he was chided for cutting off the ear of one of Judas’ soldiers. He was of the old order, and the new had left him unchanged. He did not reply to my question, but sipped his bowl of kava.
The crime of Huahine for love of Weaver of Mats; story of Tahia’s white man who was eaten; the disaster that befell Honi, the white man who used his harpoon against his friends.
During my absence in Taaoa there had been crime and scandal in my own valley. Andre Bauda met me on the beach road as I returned and told me the tale. The giant Tahitian sailor of the schooner Papeite, Huahine, was in the local jail, charged with desertion; a serious offense, to which his plea was love of a woman, and that woman Weaver of Mats, who had her four names tattooed on her right arm.