White Shadows in the South Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 365 pages of information about White Shadows in the South Seas.

Harbor sports

Tahaiupehe, Daughter of the Pigeon, of Taaoa

Nataro Puelleray and wife

Author’s Note.  Foreign words in a book are like rocks in a path.  There are two ways of meeting the difficulty; the reader may leap over them, or use them as stepping stones.  I have written this book so that they may easily be leaped over by the hasty, but he will lose much enjoyment by doing so; I would urge him to pronounce them as he goes.  Marquesan words have a flavor all their own; much of the simple poetry of the islands is in them.  The rules for pronouncing them are simple; consonants have the sounds usual in English, vowels have the Latin value, that is, a is ah, e is ay, i is ee, o is oh, and u is oo.  Every letter is pronounced, and there are no accents.  The Marquesans had no written language, and their spoken tongue was reproduced as simply as possible by the missionaries.

WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS

CHAPTER I

Farewell to Papeite beach; at sea in the Morning Star; Darwin’s theory of the continent that sank beneath the waters of the South Seas.

By the white coral wall of Papeite beach the schooner Fetia Taiao (Morning Star) lay ready to put to sea.  Beneath the skyward-sweeping green heights of Tahiti the narrow shore was a mass of colored gowns, dark faces, slender waving arms.  All Papeite, flower-crowned and weeping, was gathered beside the blue lagoon.

Lamentation and wailing followed the brown sailors as they came over the side and slowly began to cast the moorings that held the Morning Star.  Few are the ships that sail many seasons among the Dangerous Islands.  They lay their bones on rock or reef or sink in the deep, and the lovers, sons and husbands of the women who weep on the beach return no more to the huts in the cocoanut groves.  So, at each sailing on the “long course” the anguish is keen.

Ia ora na i te Atua! Farewell and God keep you!” the women cried as they stood beside the half-buried cannon that serve to make fast the ships by the coral bank.  From the deck of the nearby Hinano came the music of an accordeon and a chorus of familiar words: 

  “I teie nie mahana
  Ne tere no oe e Hati
    Na te Moana!”

  “Let us sing and make merry,
   For we journey over the sea!”

It was the Himene Tatou Arearea.  Kelly, the wandering I.W.W., self-acclaimed delegate of the mythical Union of Beach-combers and Stowaways, was at the valves of the accordeon, and about him squatted a ring of joyous natives. “Wela ka hao! Hot stuff!” they shouted.

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Project Gutenberg
White Shadows in the South Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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