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Typee - The Story of Toby

THE morning my comrade left me, as related in the narrative, he was accompanied by a large party of the natives, some of them carrying fruit and hogs for the purposes of traffic, as the report had spread that boats had touched at the bay.

As they proceeded through the settled parts of the valley, numbers joined them from every side, running with animated cries from every pathway. So excited were the whole party, that eager as Toby was to gain the beach, it was almost as much as he could do to keep up with them. Making the valley ring with their shouts, they hurried along on a swift trot, those in advance pausing now and then, and flourishing their weapons to urge the rest forward.

Presently they came to a place where the paths crossed a bend of the main stream of the valley. Here a strange sound came through the grove beyond, and the Islanders halted. It was Mow-Mow, the one-eyed chief, who had gone on before; he was striking his heavy lance against the hollow bough of a tree.

This was a signal of alarm;—for nothing was now heard but shouts of 'Happar! Happar!'—the warriors tilting with their spears and brandishing them in the air, and the women and boys shouting to each other, and picking up the stones in the bed of the stream. In a moment or two Mow-Mow and two or three other chiefs ran out from the grove, and the din increased ten fold.

Now, thought Toby, for a fray; and being unarmed, he besought one of the young men domiciled with Marheyo for the loan of his spear. But he was refused; the youth roguishly telling him that the weapon was very good for him (the Typee), but that a white man could fight much better with his fists.

The merry humour of this young wag seemed to be shared by the rest, for in spite of their warlike cries and gestures, everybody was capering and laughing, as if it was one of the funniest things in the world to be awaiting the flight of a score or two of Happar javelins from an ambush in the thickets.

While my comrade was in vain trying to make out the meaning of all this, a good number of the natives separated themselves from the rest and ran off into the grove on one side, the others now keeping perfectly still, as if awaiting the result. After a little while, however, Mow-Mow, who stood in advance, motioned them to come on stealthily, which they did, scarcely rustling a leaf. Thus they crept along for ten or fifteen minutes, every now and then pausing to listen.

Toby by no means relished this sort of skulking; if there was going to be a fight, he wanted it to begin at once. But all in good time,—for just then, as they went prowling into the thickest of the wood, terrific howls burst upon them on all sides, and volleys of darts and stones flew across the path. Not an enemy was to be seen, and what was still more surprising, not a single man dropped, though the pebbles fell among the leaves like hail.

There was a moment's pause, when the Typees, with wild shrieks, flung themselves into the covert, spear in hand; nor was Toby behindhand. Coming so near getting his skull broken by the stones, and animated by an old grudge he bore the Happars, he was among the first to dash at them. As he broke his way through the underbush, trying, as he did so, to wrest a spear from a young chief, the shouts of battle all of a sudden ceased, and the wood was as still as death. The next moment, the party who had left them so mysteriously rushed out from behind every bush and tree, and united with the rest in long and merry peals of laughter.

It was all a sham, and Toby, who was quite out of breath with excitement, was much incensed at being made a fool of.

It afterwards turned out that the whole affair had been concerted for his particular benefit, though with what precise view it would be hard to tell. My comrade was the more enraged at this boys' play, since it had consumed so much time, every moment of which might be precious. Perhaps, however, it was partly intended for this very purpose; and he was led to think so, because when the natives started again, he observed that they did not seem to be in so great a hurry as before. At last, after they had gone some distance, Toby, thinking all the while that they never would get to the sea, two men came running towards them, and a regular halt ensued, followed by a noisy discussion, during which Toby's name was often repeated. All this made him more and more anxious to learn what was going on at the beach; but it was in vain that he now tried to push forward; the natives held him back.

In a few moments the conference ended, and many of them ran down the path in the direction of the water, the rest surrounding Toby, and entreating him to 'Moee', or sit down and rest himself. As an additional inducement, several calabashes of food, which had been brought along, were now placed on the ground, and opened, and pipes also were lighted. Toby bridled his impatience a while, but at last sprang to his feet and dashed forward again. He was soon overtaken nevertheless, and again surrounded, but without further detention was then permitted to go down to the sea.

They came out upon a bright green space between the groves and the water, and close under the shadow of the Happar mountain, where a path was seen winding out of sight through a gorge.

No sign of a boat, however, was beheld, nothing but a tumultuous crowd of men and women, and some one in their midst, earnestly talking to them. As my comrade advanced, this person came forward and proved to be no stranger. He was an old grizzled sailor, whom Toby and myself had frequently seen in Nukuheva, where he lived an easy devil-may-care life in the household of Mowanna the king, going by the name of 'Jimmy'. In fact he was the royal favourite, and had a good deal to say in his master's councils. He wore a Manilla hat and a sort of tappa morning gown, sufficiently loose and negligent to show the verse of a song tattooed upon his chest, and a variety of spirited cuts by native artists in other parts of his body. He sported a fishing rod in his hand, and carried a sooty old pipe slung about his neck.

This old rover having retired from active life, had resided in Nukuheva some time—could speak the language, and for that reason was frequently employed by the French as an interpreter. He was an arrant old gossip too; for ever coming off in his canoe to the ships in the bay, and regaling their crews with choice little morsels of court scandal—such, for instance, as a shameful intrigue of his majesty with a Happar damsel, a public dancer at the feasts—and otherwise relating some incredible tales about the Marquesas generally. I remember in particular his telling the Dolly's crew what proved to be literally a cock-and-bull story, about two natural prodigies which he said were then on the island. One was an old monster of a hermit, having a marvellous reputation for sanctity, and reputed a famous sorcerer, who lived away off in a den among the mountains, where he hid from the world a great pair of horns that grew out of his temples. Notwithstanding his reputation for piety, this horrid old fellow was the terror of all the island round, being reported to come out from his retreat, and go a man-hunting every dark night. Some anonymous Paul Pry, too, coming down the mountain, once got a peep at his den, and found it full of bones. In short, he was a most unheard-of monster.

The other prodigy Jimmy told us about was the younger son of a chief, who, although but just turned of ten, had entered upon holy orders, because his superstitious countrymen thought him especially intended for the priesthood from the fact of his having a comb on his head like a rooster. But this was not all; for still more wonderful to relate, the boy prided himself upon his strange crest, being actually endowed with a cock's voice, and frequently crowing over his peculiarity.

But to return to Toby. The moment he saw the old rover on the beach, he ran up to him, the natives following after, and forming a circle round them.

After welcoming him to the shore, Jimmy went on to tell him how that he knew all about our having run away from the ship, and being among the Typees. Indeed, he had been urged by Mowanna to come over to the valley, and after visiting his friends there, to bring us back with him, his royal master being exceedingly anxious to share with him the reward which had been held out for our capture. He, however, assured Toby that he had indignantly spurned the offer.

All this astonished my comrade not a little, as neither of us had entertained the least idea that any white man ever visited the Typees sociably. But Jimmy told him that such was the case nevertheless, although he seldom came into the bay, and scarcely ever went back from the beach. One of the priests of the valley, in some way or other connected with an old tattooed divine in Nukuheva, was a friend of his, and through him he was 'taboo'.

He said, moreover, that he was sometimes employed to come round to the bay, and engage fruit for ships lying in Nukuheva. In fact, he was now on that very errand, according to his own account, having just come across the mountains by the way of Happar. By noon of the next day the fruit would be heaped up in stacks on the beach, in readiness for the boats which he then intended to bring into the bay.

Jimmy now asked Toby whether he wished to leave the island—if he did, there was a ship in want of men lying in the other harbour, and he would be glad to take him over, and see him on board that very day.

'No,' said Toby, 'I cannot leave the island unless my comrade goes with me. I left him up the valley because they would not let him come down. Let us go now and fetch him.'

'But how is he to cross the mountain with us,' replied Jimmy, 'even if we get him down to the beach? Better let him stay till tomorrow, and I will bring him round to Nukuheva in the boats.'

'That will never do,' said Toby, 'but come along with me now, and let us get him down here at any rate,' and yielding to the impulse of the moment, he started to hurry back into the valley. But hardly was his back turned, when a dozen hands were laid on him, and he learned that he could not go a step further.

It was in vain that he fought with them; they would not hear of his stirring from the beach. Cut to the heart at this unexpected repulse, Toby now conjured the sailor to go after me alone. But Jimmy replied, that in the mood the Typees then were they would not permit him so to do, though at the same time he was not afraid of their offering him any harm.

Little did Toby then think, as he afterwards had good reason to suspect, that this very Jimmy was a heartless villain, who, by his arts, had just incited the natives to restrain him as he was in the act of going after me. Well must the old sailor have known, too, that the natives would never consent to our leaving together, and he therefore wanted to get Toby off alone, for a purpose which he afterwards made plain. Of all this, however, my comrade now knew nothing.

He was still struggling with the islanders when Jimmy again came up to him, and warned him against irritating them, saying that he was only making matters worse for both of us, and if they became enraged, there was no telling what might happen. At last he made Toby sit down on a broken canoe by a pile of stones, upon which was a ruinous little shrine supported by four upright poles, and in front partly screened by a net. The fishing parties met there, when they came in from the sea, for their offerings were laid before an image, upon a smooth black stone within. This spot Jimmy said was strictly 'taboo', and no one would molest or come near him while he stayed by its shadow. The old sailor then went off, and began speaking very earnestly to Mow-Mow and some other chiefs, while all the rest formed a circle round the taboo place, looking intently at Toby, and talking to each other without ceasing.

Now, notwithstanding what Jimmy had just told him, there presently came up to my comrade an old woman, who seated herself beside him on the canoe.

'Typee motarkee?' said she. 'Motarkee nuee,' said Toby.

She then asked him whether he was going to Nukuheva; he nodded yes; and with a plaintive wail and her eyes filling with tears she rose and left him.

This old woman, the sailor afterwards said, was the wife of an aged king of a small island valley, communicating by a deep pass with the country of the Typees. The inmates of the two valleys were related to each other by blood, and were known by the same name. The old woman had gone down into the Typee valley the day before, and was now with three chiefs, her sons, on a visit to her kinsmen.

As the old king's wife left him, Jimmy again came up to Toby, and told him that he had just talked the whole matter over with the natives, and there was only one course for him to follow. They would not allow him to go back into the valley, and harm would certainly come to both him and me, if he remained much longer on the beach. 'So,' said he, 'you and I had better go to Nukuheva now overland, and tomorrow I will bring Tommo, as they call him, by water; they have promised to carry him down to the sea for me early in the morning, so that there will be no delay.'

'No, no,' said Toby desperately, 'I will not leave him that way; we must escape together.'

'Then there is no hope for you,' exclaimed the sailor, 'for if I leave you here on the beach, as soon as I am gone you will be carried back into the valley, and then neither of you will ever look upon the sea again.' And with many oaths he swore that if he would only go to Nukuheva with him that day, he would be sure to have me there the very next morning.

'But how do you know they will bring him down to the beach tomorrow, when they will not do so today?' said Toby. But the sailor had many reasons, all of which were so mixed up with the mysterious customs of the islanders, that he was none the wiser. Indeed, their conduct, especially in preventing him from returning into the valley, was absolutely unaccountable to him; and added to everything else, was the bitter reflection, that the old sailor, after all, might possibly be deceiving him. And then again he had to think of me, left alone with the natives, and by no means well. If he went with Jimmy, he might at least hope to procure some relief for me. But might not the savages who had acted so strangely, hurry me off somewhere before his return? Then, even if he remained, perhaps they would not let him go back into the valley where I was.

Thus perplexed was my poor comrade; he knew not what to do, and his courageous spirit was of no use to him now. There he was, all by himself, seated upon the broken canoe—the natives grouped around him at a distance, and eyeing him more and more fixedly. 'It is getting late: said Jimmy, who was standing behind the rest. 'Nukuheva is far off, and I cannot cross the Happar country by night. You see how it is;—if you come along with me, all will be well; if you do not, depend upon it, neither of you will ever escape.'

'There is no help for it,' said Toby, at last, with a heavy heart, 'I will have to trust you,' and he came out from the shadow of the little shrine, and cast a long look up the valley.

'Now keep close to my side,' said the sailor, 'and let us be moving quickly.' Tinor and Fayaway here appeared; the kindhearted old woman embracing Toby's knees, and giving way to a flood of tears; while Fayaway, hardly less moved, spoke some few words of English she had learned, and held up three fingers before him—in so many days he would return.

At last Jimmy pulled Toby out of the crowd, and after calling to a young Typee who was standing by with a young pig in his arms, all three started for the mountains.

'I have told them that you are coming back again,' said the old fellow, laughing, as they began the ascent, 'but they'll have to wait a long time.' Toby turned, and saw the natives all in motion—the girls waving their tappas in adieu, and the men their spears. As the last figure entered the grove with one arm raised, and the three fingers spread, his heart smote him.

As the natives had at last consented to his going, it might have been, that some of them, at least, really counted upon his speedy return; probably supposing, as indeed he had told them when they were coming down the valley, that his only object in leaving them was to procure the medicines I needed. This, Jimmy also must have told them. And as they had done before, when my comrade, to oblige me, started on his perilous journey to Nukuheva, they looked upon me, in his absence, as one of two inseparable friends who was a sure guaranty for the other's return. This is only my own supposition, however, for as to all their strange conduct, it is still a mystery.

'You see what sort of a taboo man I am,' said the sailor, after for some time silently following the path which led up the mountain. 'Mow-Mow made me a present of this pig here, and the man who carries it will go right through Happar, and down into Nukuheva with us. So long as he stays by me he is safe, and just so it will be with you, and tomorrow with Tommo. Cheer up, then, and rely upon me, you will see him in the morning.'

The ascent of the mountain was not very difficult, owing to its being near to the sea, where the island ridges are comparatively low; the path, too, was a fine one, so that in a short time all three were standing on the summit with the two valleys at their feet. The white cascade marking the green head of the Typee valley first caught Toby's eye; Marheyo's house could easily be traced by them.

As Jimmy led the way along the ridge, Toby observed that the valley of the Happars did not extend near so far inland as that of the Typees. This accounted for our mistake in entering the latter valley as we had.

A path leading down from the mountain was soon seen, and, following it, the party were in a short time fairly in the Happar valley.

'Now,' said Jimmy, as they hurried on, 'we taboo men have wives in all the bays, and I am going to show you the two I have here.'

So, when they came to the house where he said they lived,—which was close by the base of the mountain in a shady nook among the groves—he went in, and was quite furious at finding it empty—the ladies, had gone out. However, they soon made their appearance, and to tell the truth, welcomed Jimmy quite cordially, as well as Toby, about whom they were very inquisitive. Nevertheless, as the report of their arrival spread, and the Happars began to assemble, it became evident that the appearance of a white stranger among them was not by any means deemed so wonderful an event as in the neighbouring valley.

The old sailor now bade his wives prepare something to eat, as he must be in Nukuheva before dark. A meal of fish, bread-fruit, and bananas, was accordingly served up, the party regaling themselves on the mats, in the midst of a numerous company.

The Happars put many questions to Jimmy about Toby; and Toby himself looked sharply at them, anxious to recognize the fellow who gave him the wound from which he was still suffering. But this fiery gentleman, so handy with his spear, had the delicacy, it seemed, to keep out of view. Certainly the sight of him would not have been any added inducement to making a stay in the valley,—some of the afternoon loungers in Happar having politely urged Toby to spend a few days with them,—there was a feast coming on. He, however, declined.

All this while the young Typee stuck to Jimmy like his shadow, and though as lively a dog as any of his tribe, he was now as meek as a lamb, never opening his mouth except to eat. Although some of the Happars looked queerly at him, others were more civil, and seemed desirous of taking him abroad and showing him the valley. But the Typee was not to be cajoled in that way. How many yards he would have to remove from Jimmy before the taboo would be powerless, it would be hard to tell, but probably he himself knew to a fraction.

On the promise of a red cotton handkerchief, and something else which he kept secret, this poor fellow had undertaken a rather ticklish journey, though, as far as Toby could ascertain, it was something that had never happened before.

The island-punch—arva—was brought in at the conclusion of the repast, and passed round in a shallow calabash.

Now my comrade, while seated in the Happar house, began to feel more troubled than ever at leaving me; indeed, so sad did he feel that he talked about going back to the valley, and wanted Jimmy to escort him as far as the mountains. But the sailor would not listen to him, and, by way of diverting his thoughts, pressed him to drink of the arva. Knowing its narcotic nature, he refused; but Jimmy said he would have something mixed with it, which would convert it into an innocent beverage that would inspirit them for the rest of their journey. So at last he was induced to drink of it, and its effects were just as the sailor had predicted; his spirits rose at once, and all his gloomy thoughts left him.

The old rover now began to reveal his true character, though he was hardly suspected at the time. 'If I get you off to a ship,' said he, 'you will surely give a poor fellow something for saving you.' In short, before they left the house, he made Toby promise that he would give him five Spanish dollars if he succeeded in getting any part of his wages advanced from the vessel, aboard of which they were going; Toby, moreover, engaging to reward him still further, as soon as my deliverance was accomplished.

A little while after this they started again, accompanied by many of the natives, and going up the valley, took a steep path near its head, which led to Nukuheva. Here the Happars paused and watched them as they ascended the mountain, one group of bandit-looking fellows, shaking their spears and casting threatening glances at the poor Typee, whose heart as well as heels seemed much the lighter when he came to look down upon them.

On gaining the heights once more, their way led for a time along several ridges covered with enormous ferns. At last they entered upon a wooded tract, and here they overtook a party of Nukuheva natives, well armed, and carrying bundles of long poles. Jimmy seemed to know them all very well, and stopped for a while, and had a talk about the 'Wee-Wees', as the people of Nukuheva call the Monsieurs.

The party with the poles were King Mowanna's men, and by his orders they had been gathering them in the ravines for his allies the French.

Leaving these fellows to trudge on with their loads, Toby and his companions now pushed forward again, as the sun was already low in the west. They came upon the valleys of Nukuheva on one side of the bay, where the highlands slope off into the sea. The men-of-war were still lying in the harbour, and as Toby looked down upon them, the strange events which had happened so recently, seemed all a dream.

They soon descended towards the beach, and found themselves in Jimmy's house before it was well dark. Here he received another welcome from his Nukuheva wives, and after some refreshments in the shape of cocoanut milk and poee-poee, they entered a canoe (the Typee of course going along) and paddled off to a whaleship which was anchored near the shore. This was the vessel in want of men. Our own had sailed some time before. The captain professed great pleasure at seeing Toby, but thought from his exhausted appearance that he must be unfit for duty. However, he agreed to ship him, as well as his comrade, as soon as he should arrive. Toby begged hard for an armed boat, in which to go round to Typee and rescue me, notwithstanding the promises of Jimmy. But this the captain would not hear of, and told him to have patience, for the sailor would be faithful to his word. When, too, he demanded the five silver dollars for Jimmy, the captain was unwilling to give them. But Toby insisted upon it, as he now began to think that Jimmy might be a mere mercenary, who would be sure to prove faithless if not well paid. Accordingly he not only gave him the money, but took care to assure him, over and over again, that as soon as he brought me aboard he would receive a still larger sum.

Before sun-rise the next day, Jimmy and the Typee started in two of the ship's boats, which were manned by tabooed natives. Toby, of course, was all eagerness to go along, but the sailor told him that if he did, it would spoil all; so, hard as it was, he was obliged to remain.

Towards evening he was on the watch, and descried the boats turning the headland and entering the bay. He strained his eyes, and thought he saw me; but I was not there. Descending from the mast almost distracted, he grappled Jimmy as he struck the deck, shouting in a voice that startled him, 'Where is Tommo?' The old fellow faltered, but soon recovering, did all he could to soothe him, assuring him that it had proved to be impossible to get me down to the shore that morning; assigning many plausible reasons, and adding that early on the morrow he was going to visit the bay again in a French boat, when, if he did not find me on the beach—as this time he certainly expected to—he would march right back into the valley, and carry me away at all hazards. He, however, again refused to allow Toby to accompany him. Now, situated as Toby was, his sole dependence for the present was upon this Jimmy, and therefore he was fain to comfort himself as well as he could with what the old sailor told him. The next morning, however, he had the satisfaction of seeing the French boat start with Jimmy in it. Tonight, then, I will see him, thought Toby; but many a long day passed before he ever saw Tommo again. Hardly was the boat out of sight, when the captain came forward and ordered the anchor weighed; he was going to sea.

Vain were all Toby's ravings—they were disregarded; and when he came to himself, the sails were set, and the ship fast leaving the land.

… 'Oh!' said he to me at our meeting, 'what sleepless nights were mine. Often I started from my hammock, dreaming you were before me, and upbraiding me for leaving you on the island.'

There is little more to be related. Toby left this vessel at New Zealand, and after some further adventures, arrived home in less than two years after leaving the Marquesas. He always thought of me as dead—and I had every reason to suppose that he too was no more; but a strange meeting was in store for us, one which made Toby's heart all the lighter.