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Wild Justice: Stories of the South Seas   By: (1868-1947)

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WILD JUSTICE

[Illustration: "'Jack,' she said suddenly, 'you come along with us.'"]

WILD JUSTICE

STORIES OF THE SOUTH SEAS

BY

LLOYD OSBOURNE

AUTHOR OF "BABY BULLET"

[Illustration]

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY NEW YORK :: MCMXXI

COPYRIGHT, 1906, 1921, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

PREFACE

Deep in every heart there seems to be a longing for a more primitive existence; and though in practice it is often an illusion, the South Seas lend themselves better to such dreams than any other part of the world. There are fewer races more attractive than the Polynesians. Frank, winning, gay and extraordinarily well mannered, the higher types are often remarkably good looking, and scarcely darker than Southern Europeans. Some aspects of their life are truly poetic. Half naked, with flowers in their hair, and just sufficient work to keep them in superb physical condition, they have an almost unlimited leisure to share with the wayfarer in their midst. And dirt, that greatest of all human barriers, is nonexistent. No people are cleaner; none have so intense a personal self respect. One wonders sometimes whether it is not the white man who is the savage, and these in some ways his superiors.

I went to the Pacific when I was a boy of twenty, remaining there till I was twenty eight. For two years I sailed in various ships, visiting not only all the principal groups, but stopping at many a lost little paradise like Manihiki, Nieue or Gente Hermosa, which lie so lonely and apart that the rare stranger is greeted with open arms. Then, settled in Samoa, I learned the language as only the very young can learn it, and incidentally had a small part in the civil wars of that period. I was brought into intimate contact with many powerful chiefs, and became so wholly a Samoan that I once barely escaped assassination. I certainly have some claim to know South Sea life from the inside from the native's side and this must be my excuse for the present volume.

That my stories should deal so often with the loves of white men and brown women is inevitable. The white man and the brown girl that is the oldest story in the South Seas and the newest. The children of the sun are very easy going; their standards are not our standards; they live for the moment, and love as lightly. It is often the white man who suffers, and not the maid with the sparkling eyes and radiant smile. He may take regrets away with him; perhaps one of those inner wounds that never heal, while she marries a native missionary and lives happily ever afterwards. Polynesians always live happily ever afterwards, no matter what happens.

Yet do not think I am disparaging them. They probably have as much to teach us as we them. Courtesy, kindliness, good humor, a charming acceptance of life, and if the need comes for it an intrepid courage, all these, and more, are theirs. As I see the faces of my old friends through the mist I feel an undying affection for them. I shared their lives, their secrets, their happy days and their tragic days "in the diamond morning of long ago." I was the confidant in many a runaway match; was the writer of war epistles that the bearer was directed to eat if pursuit grew too hot; I had a little domain of my own where my word was law an "out island" village, living in a perpetual feud with its neighbors. Was this really myself this tall youth in the whale tooth necklace and girded tappa marching with his brother chiefs in stately procession? Incredible yet it was. Was it I whose hand was kissed by this stalwart warrior whom I see flinging himself from his horse and running towards me with the sun glinting on his cartridge belt? Incredible yet it was. Was it really I, at the helm of that boat, the leader of twenty young men who were to play cricket by day and dance by night, halfway round Upolu? Incredible yet it was... Continue reading book >>




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