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The White Waterfall   By:

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An Adventure Story


TO L.G.D. and G.M.D.



It is perhaps inadvisable to mix fact with fiction, but, it appears, some reference to certain portions of "The White Waterfall" that might strain the belief of the average reader will not be out of place. In the wonderful islands of the Pacific many things happen that seem improbable to the minds of those who dwell close to the heart of civilization. The mysterious Isle of Tears is not altogether a dream. There are several islands in Polynesia that have been looked upon from time immemorial as islands of the dead. These places are shunned by the islanders, and the centuries have invested them with the same atmosphere of brooding mystery that Professor Herndon and his party felt when they landed upon the silent isle where the Wizards of the Centipede performed their weird rites without interference from the outside world.

Nor is the Vermilion Pit created out of thin air. The savage has used many startling methods to separate the born warrior from the coward, and the author has seen a place just as wonderful as the pit, where the young men of the tribe were tested in the same manner as that related in this story. The cunning savage has always thought it inadvisable to pick his fighting men till their courage had been thoroughly tested, and in dull days of peace the headmen of the tribes racked their brains to discover nerve shaking ordeals to try the daring of the growing youth. The safety of the tribe depended upon the valour of the fighting line, and it would have been an inexcusable blunder to put the nervous ones in the front rank.

The strange stone structures similar to the one upon which Holman and Verslun narrowly escaped being offered up as sacrifices to the Centipede are to be found in many islands of the Pacific at the present day. In the Tongan, Caroline, and Cook groups these peculiar stone ruins remain as evidence of the existence of an ancient people of superior intelligence to the islanders of to day. As to the meaning or use of these structures we are entirely in the dark. The natives of these groups know nothing concerning them, and the Polynesian builder in that dark past was too busy clubbing and eating his neighbour to write histories. Scientists are in doubt, as in the case of the great ruins at Metalanim, whether they were built as sacrificial altars or as monuments to ambitious chiefs, and there are no records to enlighten us. But these relics are convincing proofs that the islands have been inhabited for many hundreds of years, and we are left to conjecture regarding the origin and history of the people.

The Dance of the Centipede, which Holman and Verslun witnessed in the Long Gallery, can be seen to day by any tourist who leaves the beaten paths. Every missionary to the islands can tell of "devil dances" that take place in secluded groves, and in which, to his great disgust, his converts often take part. It takes time to turn the savage from his old beliefs. Although the South Seas constitute the last fortress of romance, and a mention of the coral atolls immediately conjures up a vision of palms and rice white beaches, the sensitive person senses the dark and bloody past when the wizard men were the rulers, and death stalked in the palm groves.

J.F.D. New York, March, 1912.




I. The Song of the Maori II. The Professor's Daughters III. A Knife From the Dark IV. The Storm V. I Make a Promise VI. The Isle of Tears VII. The Pit VIII. The Ledge of Death IX. Into the Valley of Echoes X. A Midnight Alarm XI. Kaipi Performs a Service XII. The Devil Dancers XIII. Tombs of Silence XIV. Back to the Camp XV. A Day of Skirmishing XVI. The Stone Table XVII. Beneath the Centipede XVIII... Continue reading book >>

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