“Some lay in their canoes and ate the eva and died. The stomachs of some became empty of thought, and they threw themselves into the sea. The father of Great Night Moth sent all his children to the hills. There is always more rain there, and there was some food to be found. His wife he kept at the fishing, day and night, till she slept at the paddle, and he himself went to the high plateaus to hunt for pig.
“For many days he came down weak, having found none. But at last she came to find baked meat ready for her, and she wept and ate and thanked him. He had found a certain green spot, he said, where there were more.
“Many times he brought the meat to her, and she said that the children should come back to share the food, but he said, ’No. Eat! They have plenty.’
“She came from the fishing one day with empty baskets. The sea had been rough, and there were no fish. Her husband had become a surly man, and cruel; he beat her. She said, ‘Is there no pig?’
“‘Pig, you fool!’ said her husband. ’You have eaten no pig. You have eaten your children. They are all dead.’
“Great Night Moth had escaped because he had been adopted by the chief of Taaoa, while his father was hunting the children in the forest.”
“That is horrible, horrible!” said Le Brunnec. “Maybe this Great Night Moth could not but be bad with such a father. All these chiefs, the hereditary ones, are rotten. Their children are often insane. They have degenerated. After the whalers came and gave them whiskey, and the traders absinthe and drugs, they learned the vices of the white man, which are worse for them than for us.”
“Do you think the eating of men began by the ave one, the famine?” I put the question to Many Pieces of Tattooing, who was about to leave the store with Great Night Moth.
“Ae, tiatohu! It is so,” he answered. “Our legends say that often in the many centuries we have remembered there have been years when food failed. It was in those times that they began to eat one another, and when food was plenty, they continued for revenge. They learned to like it. Human meat is good.”
“Ask the gentleman if he has himself enjoyed such feasts,” I urged Le Brunnec.
“I will not!” said the Frenchman, hastily. “Tavatini is a good customer. He has money on deposit with me. He eats biscuits and beef. He might be offended and buy of the Germans.”
Many Pieces of Tattooing nudged Great Night Moth, and they advanced to their horses, which were tied to the store building. The madman mounted with the ease of a cowboy, and they rode off at speed.
A visit to the hermit of Taha-Uka valley; the vengeance that made the Scallamera lepers; and the hatred of Mohuto.
Le Verogose, a Breton planter who lived in Taka-Uka Valley, was full of camaraderie, esteeming friendship a genuine tie, and given to many friendly impulses. He had a two-room cabin set high on the slope of the river bank, unadorned, but clean, and though his busy, hardworking days gave him little time for social intercourse, he occasionally invited me there to dinner with him and his wife.