His eyes were full of hate.
“You don’t like her,” I said. “Why?”
“Why? Why?” he screamed. “Because her father was an accursed villian. He was always kissing the dirty hands of the priests. He used to give his workmen opium to make them work faster, and then he would go to church. He made his money, yes. He was damn hypocrite. And now his daughter, with all that rotten money, is a leper. I tell everybody what I saw. Everybody here knows it but you. Everybody will know it in Tahiti if she goes there.”
The man was like a snake to me. I threw away the glass he had drunk from. And yet—was it idle curiosity, or was it fear of being shut away in the valley outside Papeite by the quarantine officers, that made her ask me that question about the segregation of lepers?
Liha-Liha had spent thirty years making money. He had coined the sweat and blood and lives of a thousand Marquesans into a golden fortune, and he had left behind him that fortune, a marble tomb, and Mlle. N——.
A journey to Nuka-hiva; story of the celebration of the fete of Joan of Arc, and the miracles of the white horse and the girl.
Pere Victorien said that I must not leave the Marquesas before I visited the island of Nuka-hiva seventy miles to the northward and saw there in Tai-o-hae, the capital of the northern group of islands, a real saint.
“A wonderful servant of Christ,” he said, “Pere Simeon Delmas. He is very old, and has been there since the days of strife. He has not been away from the islands for fifty years, but God preserves him for His honor and service. Pere Simeon would be one of the first in our order were he in Europe, but he is a martyr and wishes to earn his crown in these islands and die among his charges. He is a saint, as truly as the blessed ones of old.
“It was he who planned the magnificent celebration of the feast of Joan of Arc some years ago, and as to miracles, I truly believe that the keeping safe of the white horse during the terrible storm and perhaps even the preservation of a maiden worthy to appear in the armor of the Maid, are miracles as veritable as the apparition at Lourdes. Pour moi, I am convinced that Joan is one of the most glorious saints in heaven, and that Pere Simeon himself is of the band of blessed martyrs.”
“Ah, Pere Victorien, I would like nothing better than to meet that good man,” I said, “but I am at a loss to get to Tai-o-hae. The Roberta, Capriata’s steamer, will not be here for many weeks, and there is no other in the archipelago just now.”
“You shall return with me in the Jeanne d’Arc,” he replied quickly. “It may be an arduous voyage for you, but you will be well repaid.”
A fortnight later his steersman came running to my cabin to tell me to be ready at one o’clock in the morning.