The old man had slowly followed me down the trail, and he stood within the doorway of a rude hut, blinking in the sun as he watched my movements. In the houses were altogether fewer than a dozen people. They sat by cocoanut-husk fires, the acrid smoke of which daunted the nonos.
The reason any human beings endure such tortures to remain in this gloomy, deserted spot can only be the affection the Marquesan has for his home. Not until epidemics have carried off all but one or two inhabitants in a valley can those remaining be persuaded to leave it.
This dozen of the Taipi clan are the remainder of the twenty Ramqe saw with the heartbroken American. They have clung to their lonely paepaes despite their poverty of numbers and the ferocity of the nonos. They had clearings with cocoanuts and breadfruit, but they cared no longer to cultivate them, preferring rather to sit sadly in the curling fumes and dream of the past. One old man read aloud the “Gospel of St. John” in Marquesan, and the others listlessly listened, seeming to drink in little comfort from the verses, which he recited in the chanting monotone of their uta.
Nine miles in length is Typee, from a glorious cataract that leaps over the dark buttress wall where the mountain bounds the valley, to the blazing beach. And in all this extent of marvelously rich land, the one-time fondly cherished abode of the most valiant clan of the Marquesas, of thousands of men and women whose bodies were as beautiful as the models for the statues the Greeks made, whose hearts were generous, and whose minds were eager to learn all good things, there are now this wretched dozen too old or listless to gather their own food. In the ruins of a broken and abandoned paepae, in the shadow of an acre-covering banian, I smoked and asked myself what a Christ would think of the havoc wrought by men calling themselves Christians.
Journey on the Roberta; the winged cockroaches; arrival at a Swiss paradise in the valley of Oomoa.
I sailed from Tai-o-hae for an unknown port, carried by the schooner Roberta, which had brought the white mare from Atuona and whose skipper had bore so well the white banner of Joan in the procession that did her honor. The Roberta was the only vessel in those waters and, sailing as she did at the whim of her captain and the necessities of trade, none knew when she might return to Nuka-hiva, so I could but accept the opportunity she offered of reaching the southern group of islands again, and trust to fortune or favor to return me to my own island of Hiva-oa.