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White Shadows in the South Seas   By: (1869-1932)

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With Many Illustrations from Photographs

T. Werner Laurie, Ltd.


[Illustration: Village of Atuona, showing peak of Temetiu The author's house is the small white speck in the center]


There is in the nature of every man, I firmly believe, a longing to see and know the strange places of the world. Life imprisons us all in its coil of circumstance, and the dreams of romance that color boyhood are forgotten, but they do not die. They stir at the sight of a white sailed ship beating out to the wide sea; the smell of tarred rope on a blackened wharf, or the touch of the cool little breeze that rises when the stars come out will waken them again. Somewhere over the rim of the world lies romance, and every heart yearns to go and find it.

It is not given to every man to start on the quest of the rainbow's end. Such fantastic pursuit is not for him who is bound by ties of home and duty and fortune to make. He has other adventure at his own door, sterner fights to wage, and, perhaps, higher rewards to gain. Still, the ledgers close sometimes on a sigh, and by the cosiest fireside one will see in the coals pictures that have nothing to do with wedding rings or balances at the bank.

It is for those who stay at home yet dream of foreign places that I have written this book, a record of one happy year spent among the simple, friendly cannibals of Atuona valley, on the island of Hiva oa in the Marquesas. In its pages there is little of profound research, nothing, I fear, to startle the anthropologist or to revise encyclopedias; such expectation was far from my thoughts when I sailed from Papeite on the Morning Star . I went to see what I should see, and to learn whatever should be taught me by the days as they came. What I saw and what I learned the reader will see and learn, and no more.

Days, like people, give more when they are approached in not too stern a spirit. So I traveled lightly, without the heavy baggage of the ponderous minded scholar, and the reader who embarks with me on the "long cruise" need bring with him only an open mind and a love for the strange and picturesque. He will come back, I hope, as I did, with some glimpses into the primitive customs of the long forgotten ancestors of the white race, a deeper wonder at the mysteries of the world, and a memory of sun steeped days on white beaches, of palms and orchids and the childlike savage peoples who live in the bread fruit groves of "Bloody Hiva oa."

The author desires to express here his thanks to Rose Wilder Lane, to whose editorial assistance the publication of this book is very largely due.



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


The trade room of the Morning Star ; Lying Bill Pincher; M. L'Hermier des Plantes, future governor of the Marquesas; story of McHenry and the little native boy, His Dog


Thirty seven days at sea; life of the sea birds; strange phosphorescence; first sight of Fatu hiva; history of the islands; chant of the Raiateans


Anchorage of Taha Uka; Exploding Eggs, and his engagement as valet; inauguration of the new governor; dance on the palace lawn


First night in Atuona valley; sensational arrival of the Golden Bed; Titihuti's tattooed legs


Visit of Chief Seventh Man Who is So Angry He Wallows in the Mire; journey to Vait hua on Tahuata island; fight with the devil fish; story of a cannibal feast and the two who escaped


Idyllic valley of Vait hua; the beauty of Vanquished Often; bathing on the beach; an unexpected proposal of marriage


Communal life; sport in the waves; fight of the sharks and the mother whale; a day in the mountains; death of... Continue reading book >>

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