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HTHIS Edition de Luxe of SAMOA 

'UMA is limited to five hundred 

copies, numbered and signed, of which 

this is No. ...19.6 

a i/UA-eji 



Where Life is Different 

Llewella Pierce Churchill 


Sampson Low. Marston & Co.. Ltd. 

New York 
Forest and Stream Publishing Company 



JAN 2 1968 










The words of the title, "Samoa 'Uma," may mean 
much or little, as they are used. The Samoans them- 
selves are glib enough with them. They constantly 
recur in speech and song. They mean "All Samoa." 

I have by no means intended to include all Samoa 
other than to present characteristic views of the real 
way of life of the islanders themselves and of the small 
colony of white people set down among a savage, 
though Christianized, community. My opportunities 
were ample to become familiar with the stream of na- 
tive and foreign life as it passed through the current of 
my daily life on the domestic side of the American 
Consulate at Apia. My intention has been to draw 
upon that familiarity in presenting a picture of the 
realities of life in this remote South Sea archipelago. 

Grateful acknowledgment is made of the courtesy 
and skill of T. Andrew, Esq., of Apia, and of J. Davis, 
Esq., of Apia — for nearly every picture used in illus- 
tration of the text. Their assiduity has overcome the 
great mechanical difficulties of photography in the 


tropics ; their zeal has made it possible to present in 
picture the real Samoa wjth more fidelity than can 
be hoped for in mere words. 

Criticism as to the spelling of Samoan names will 
discover a variation from the standard of the mission- 
aries who reduced the language to writing. For their 
uses the letter "g" served sufficiently to reproduce 
our soft "ng" ; in this work the "n" has been restored 
to avoid error in pronunciation. Exception has been 
made in the case of Pago Pago, which has been 
adopted into chart English with that spelling. 

Ll. P. C. 



I. The Real Samoa 13 

II. The Samoan Family 24 

III. The Samoan Housewife 34 

IV. Courtesy and Ceremonies 45 

V. Kava — the Ceremonial Drink 57 

VI. Music and the Siva 68 

VII. Handicraft and Art 77 

VIII. Fishers and Sailors 88 

IX. Shooting the Apolima Passage 99 

X. The Weed that Catches Fish 112 

XI. Torches on the Reef. ." 127 

XII. The Palolo Anniversary 142 

XIII. The Chase of Rats 155 

XIV. Things that Creep and Crawl 166 

XV. Wreck of the Schooner Lupe 178 

XVI. Samoan Fickle Brides 189 

XVII. The Vampires of the Tuasivi 199 

XVIII. The Beachcomber and the Missionary 213 

XIX. Copra and Trade 227 



XX. The Tale of Laulu's Hunt 236 

XXI. The Great Vaiala Steeplechase 246 

XXII. The Sliding Rock of Papase'ea 258 

XXIII. Some South Sea Hoodoos 272 

XXIV. Papalangi Life 284 



Portrait of the Author Frontispiece. 

His Pronunciamento — the Orator 12 

The Land-Locked Waters of Pago-Pago 20 

Samoan Child 28 

Baked Pig Becomes a Triumph 36 

The Village Taupou and her Attendants 44 

A Taupou and her Tuinga 52 

Manaia with Heading-Knife 56 

Everything that Makes the Kava 60 

The Taupou's Duty is to Prepare the Kava 68 

The Siva is Danced Sitting 76 

The Brush is a Pandanus Nutlet 80 

Painted Siapos, Far the More Striking 84 

Apia, the Little Town Strung Along the Beach 92 

Village Boats with Many Oars 140 

Samoan House 172 

Every Man is Tattooed 188 

Ailolo, a Luali'i Belle igQ 

They Live Amidst a Wealth of Vegetation 212 


Home and Store of a Petty Trader 228 

Tonga and Laulu 236 

A Solomon Island Black Boy 260 

Wharf of the German Firm, Apia 268 

Oceanic Hotel, Pago- Pago , 284 

His Pionunciamento the Orator 

Fa c afogafoga 
o bamoa • uma 
se<:i cou fai atu 
o Io<-u fatatusa 

Give attention 

All ve Samoans 
While I declare 
My parable 



It has been the luck of Samoa to occupy a most 
inordinate position in the annals of modern times. 
The archipelago has been the theme of a mountain 
of public documents and of private impressions o : . the 
globe trotter, and of the two it would be difficult to 
say which conveys the more erroneous impression. 
Great nations have more than once been brought to 
the edge of war over this little nation ; and the actual 
hostilities were prevented by no less a force than the 
powers of the air, which filled the Apia harbor vith 
a marine disaster so deadly that few of the historic 
sea fights can show such a roll of the dead. 

Samoa never was worth it, never was worth the 
anxiety it was always causing, never was worth the 
price it always exacted from every one who sovght 
to do some good for the petty island kingdom. On 
any map of the world the space it occupies is scar:ely 
more than the dotting of an "i." The whole archbel- 
ago might be taken just as it is and set down in Lake 
Ontario and not become a serious obstacle to irri- 

Samoa has been made to seem large for the nost 
part through the distance at which it has been vieved. 



From the first, the Pacific has been regarded as the 
home of such romantic ideas as should cast a rosy 
glow over the deeds of those who, in other seas, would 
have been justly punished as beachcombers, pirates, 
mutineers. The "Kingdom of Samoa" made a very 
respectable figure among the list of the countries of 
the world, and His Majesty Malietoa looked quite 
royal on the postage stamps. It was only on nearer 
view that it was found that king and kingdom were 
in a very shabby state, that the king was often hard- 
up on his regal wages of $48.60 a month, that the queen 
took in washing to help out, and that all would have 
been better off if it had been possible to set the king- 
dom at some such productive work. From the dis- 
tant view-point the Samoans have been made to 
appear as a noble race of men, filled with high aspira- 
tion}, generous, capable of governing themselves if 
only they are protected from the rapacity of the white 
man It is only on the nearer view that it is seen 
that with more truth it might be said of them that 
they are greedy and grasping, puffed up with a sense 
of tieir own importance, untruthful and never to be 
relid upon, for no obligation has been found which 
has proved sufficiently solemn to bind them. 

THs work is essentially based on the nearer view, 
and for this closer inspection the opportunities were 
excellent. One of the briskest of Samoan villages 
surrfmnded on three sides the house which for the 
last decade has been occupied by the representatives 
of tie United States ; in fact, the Consulate was set 
dowji on the seaward aspect of the village green, and 



was thus of necessity included in all the ceremonies 
of island life, some dignified and stately, others rude 
and revolting. Through that house there passed day 
after day all of the business of the kingdom for inspec- 
tion, approval or rejection. At the same time there 
was an undercurrent which included more than half 
the political schemings of the Samoan people, to 
whom political intrigue is as the breath of life. At 
our doors was the complexity of the Samoan life, 
which is least understood by those who profess to 
know it the most ; in front was the quiet and safe 
water-way within the reef where with music of not 
unmelodious voices passed and repassed the pleasure 
parties of the loyal Samoans, and further out was the 
open sea, where the boats of the rebels were often 
seen with derisive dressing of mocking flags. Around 
the next corner of the shore was the reek and petti- 
ness of Apia, beginning at one horn of the bay with 
"Mary Hamilton's husband," the evidence of the 
failure of the attempt to make Samoans the same as 
white people, and ending at the other horn with the 
no more deplorable evidence of the wreck that comes 
to the higher race in its effort to meet the conditions 
of the lower, the poor, miserable wretch of a box- 
maker, John Rohde, stark, staring, raving, chatter- 
ing mad. But at the back of it all, behind the beach 
and its worries, behind the rebel and the loyalist, the 
white man and the brown, the tricks of trade and the 
policies of diplomacy, behind all was the restful soli- 
tude of trackless jungle, "the wilderness of birds, the 
wilderness of God," as the Samoans learned to call it 



even in their heathen days, the only refuge in all 
Samoa where one could find the blessing of silence. 

The reason for the presence at all of the United 
States in Samoa, of which we now own the more 
valuable portion as a result of the late partition, is to 
be found in the annals of the whale fishery. In the 
days when the fleets out of New Bedford and Nan- 
tucket were straining every gallon of sea in their 
ruthless war of extermination against the bowhead, 
the right whale and the cachalot, the most distant 
Pacific was none too far for these most adventurous 
of mariners. Through the island-spotted belt of the 
torrid Pacific swept the great herds of sperm whale. 
At the northern boundary of the stream Honolulu 
built itself up as a port of call and of outfitting for 
the dash through Behring Straits into the shallow 
Arctic seas. In like manner the position of Samoa 
just within the southern edge of the sperm current 
made it important to the whalers of the southern fleet 
before battling down in search of their richer prey, 
where they sported in the tumult of the sea and the 
Antarctic icefields. Following the whale fleet came 
Consuls to arrange their disputes, and thus without 
prevision of difficulty the United States found them- 
selves committed to a position in Samoa which has 
been a source of unmitigated trouble. 

How it happened that the English had interests in 
Samoa is one of those things that scarcely need ex- 
planation. It is quite the usual thing to find the British 
Empire, "morning drum-beat" and all, fractioned off 
all over the world, protecting this spot, annexing that, 



and generally with a managing director's concern in 
the affairs of weaker people. The position of Samoa 
in relation to the lines of South Pacific navigation 
before the universal employment of steam, and in par- 
ticular its position in reference to Australia and New 
Zealand, is sufficient in itself to account for the inter- 
ested presence of the English. 

What brought the Germans to Samoa, what gave 
them that absolute trade supremacy which they were 
perfectly right to seek to defend at all cost and at 
every hazard (and it did cost dear, and much was 
indeed hazarded), was not the adventure of deep-sea 
cruising, was not the instinct of annexing new lands, 
but plain ordinary commerce, the selling dear and 
buying cheap, extending credit to a people who never 
yet have learned that between a bill and a receipt 
there is any difference worthy of consideration, and 
who would mortgage anything for the future to obtain 
the object of present desire. Let the credit fall to 
the memory of the man to whom it was due, a genius 
in his way, to Theodor Weber, that "Misi Ueba," 
who is probably the only man whose superiority the 
Samoans were compelled to confess. It was not 
Germany that went out into the South Sea and carved 
out an empire. At that time there was no Germany, 
there w T ere no more than Germanic kingdoms, and 
duchies and principalities, so petty that in any case 
if you didn't like it you could go around it without 
the loss of much time. Above all were the free cities, 
those Hanseatic republics, and of these it was Ham- 
burg that stood foremost. Out of Hamburg came 



Theodor Weber, what the Germans call "commis," 
but in his way a genius in discovery. He found 
Samoa and annexed it to the Firma Godeffroy, whose 
servant he was, John and Csesar Godeffroy, merchant 
princes preeminent in a city full of such. The free 
town did not lose sight of such a man merely because 
he was at the back of the world, selling in a market 
that he was creating where no wants at all existed, 
but above all buying, buying cheap, minting money 
for the Firma Godeffroy. Hamburg made him Con- 
sul. Later he was made Consul of the North Ger- 
man Confederation. After Versailles his title was 
changed to that of Consul for the German Empire. 
All the titles and the decorations which came in later 
years were very pleasant to have, nobody more keenly 
than a commercial German enjoys these frills of life. 
But Weber knew what he was about, he bought and 
he sold, above all he made himself that "Misi Ueba" 
who dominated Samoa. In the course of time the 
Firma Godeffroy was caught in the magnitude of its 
operations by a coalition of rivals and was forced into 
bankruptcy. In the examination it was found that 
some of its world-embracing transactions had been 
failures and money had been sunk in them, but 
Weber's part, the South Sea trade, was found to be 
a paying business and was at once taken up by a stock 
company, Die Deutsche Handels und Plantagens 
Gesellschaft der Siid-See Inseln zu Hamburg, but 
considering the limitations on human time it is found 
more economical to refer to this as merely the Ger- 
man firm. Weber laid the foundations so well that 



the firm has never made a mistake when following 
along his lines. Weber did a great deal more than 
the establishment of a business house. He could not 
annex land to himself or to Hamburg, but he accom- 
plished the same result in another way. He filled the 
unoccupied islands of the Pacific so full of his own 
trading establishments that any annexation by any 
other country than Germany would be so manifestly 
futile as not to be thought of. Then, when Germany 
awoke to a colonial policy, the first thing was to 
annex from Theodor Weber all the embryo colonies 
which he had been arranging for. 

The center of all this system it was impossible to 
annex. There were older influences at work in 
Samoa than those of "Misi Ueba." He had won all 
the trade, rivals existed only through his good-natured 
toleration until he was ready to use them or to crush 
them, but there were treaties in existence with the 
United States and Great Britain, and these were be- 
yond the reach of the resident manager for the Godef- 
froys. But there are always means of winning by 
indirection when more open, means would be doomed 
to failure. Germany, that is Weber, had a practical 
ownership of Samoa, but could not assume the con- 
duct of affairs because of the presence of the two 
other treaty powers. Then began the campaign of 
making Samoa quite too hot for anybody but Ger- 
many to hold. It would be idle to give dates of the 
rise and of the downfall of this Samoan aspirant to 
the throne, or of that; of the days on which were 
fought singularly bloodless battles, yet with much 



combustion of very expensive powder in very cheap 
muskets. A Samoan battle with five dead in three 
days' fighting would be a marvel. There is but one 
date that it behooves us to recall, for it is the date of 
termination of the epoch. 

This date is March 16, 1889, the day of the hurri- 
cane in Apia Harbor. The Samoan figureheads of 
that particular chapter of trouble were Tamasese, 
King of Samoa, with German backing openly 
avowed, and Mata'afa also and rival King of Samoa 
(with a strong probability of German backing, but 
this was not suspected at the time and is not yet 
acknowledged). The war of the puppets was a little 
thing ; the great thing was that this war had brought 
together seven warships of the United States, Ger- 
many and Great Britain, and from moment to moment 
it was a tremendous strain to keep the old Trenton 
and the Vandalia and the Nipsic from measuring 
their wooden walls and obsolete armament against 
the steel walls of the German squadron. But a blast 
from the skies fell upon the situation and cleared it 
up. It was on that day that the hurricane did its 
greatest destruction and made the petty harbor of 
Apia famous. Seven ships were there when the bar- 
ometer gave abundant and timely warning of the 
storm about to come, three American, three German 
and one British. Had the warning been taken, there 
need have been no disaster, for there was abundant 
time to run to Tutuila, where Pago Pago harbor 
defies every gale that blows. But fighting blood was 
up and no commander would be the first to run. 














When the gale was over the German Olga was on 
the beach, and later was floated off, the Eber lay at 
the bottom of the harbor, the Adler was high and dry 
beam-end on the reef, where she is likely to remain a 
grim monument so long as rivets and German steel 
can hold out against the unrelenting war of time and 
rust. The British Calliope as by a miracle won her 
way to safey by the narrowest margin in the very 
teeth of the gale. Of the American fleet the Trenton 
and the Vandalia were wrecks beyond repair, while 
the Nipsic was high up on the beach. She was floated 
out and was just able to hobble back to Honolulu, and 
is now at Puget Sound Navy Yard. 

This, shocked the world into a sense of what was 
being done in this distant part of the world, and saner 
thought felt that all Samoa was not worth this loss of 
life. The result was the agreement of the three 
powers upon the Berlin Act. Almost before the act 
was enacted it proved itself but a feeble piece of paper, 
a commodity of which Samoan politics had already 
a sufficiency. Yet in 1890 the act went into effect 
and it was announced that there was to be no more 
Samoan question. Still there was a Samoan ques- 
tion, as there ever would be so long as the point at 
issue was unsettled, that being who should own 
Samoa. That point has been met at last and settled 
in the partition of Samoa. After the war of 1899. 
with its revolting barbarity to officers and men of the 
United States Navy, there was no longer any pre- 
tense of a method, such as the Berlin Act was devised 
to provide, whereby Samoans could govern them- 



selves and be brought to keep the peace in doing it. 
At last the absurd fiction of Samoan independence 
was laid aside, the three powers looked fairly upon 
the archipelago as something to be divided, divided 
into three parts because there were three of them. 
This accordingly was done. To Germany was al- 
lotted Upolu because of the preponderance of Ger- 
man interests in trade and plantations. To Great 
Britain was assigned Savaii with the statement that 
it was given to the British because it was the largest ; 
no one ventured to dispute the suggestion that of a 
thing which has no value it better profits to have a 
large parcel than a small one. To the United States 
was assigned Manu'a and Tutuila. There can be no 
doubt that the ownership of Pago Pago harbor is the 
really solid value of the whole archipelago. As soon 
as this partition had been ratified, another agreement 
was filed whereby Great Britain conveyed Savaii to 
Germany in return for similarly transferred territory 
in the Solomon Islands and the extinction of German 
rights in the adjacent kingdom of Tonga, which there- 
upon became a British protectorate. Thus the settle- 
ment of the Samoan question availed to wipe out the 
last two independent native kingdoms on the face of 
the globe — Samoa and Tonga. 

It was at Pago Pago that the United States made 
their first treaty with any Samoans. This was nego- 
tiated by Wilkes of the Exploring Expedition in 
1839. It was designed to secure the right to enter 
the harbor to all American vessels and to buy stores 
and to refit in general. At that time navies had not 



begun to see the necessity for coaling stations. In 
the treaty executed in Washington between Mr. 
Evarts and Le Mamea in 1871 is found the first pro- 
vision that this country should have exclusive rights 
to a coaling station in Pago Pago. This right lay 
dormant until the time of the Tamasese war of 1889, 
when a stock of coal was dumped on the beach in 
hastily constructed sheds. The Berlin Act confirmed 
our exclusive right to the coaling station in Pago 
Pago, Tutuila, in the same way as it confirmed similar 
rights of the British in Fangaloa Bay and of the Ger- 
mans in Saluafata Bay, both on the island of Upolu. 
Since the partition the coaling station has been re- 
established at Pago Pago and is now on a permanent 
basis. American Samoa (Tutuila and the Manu'a 
group) is administered as a naval station under exec- 
utive command of the commandant of the station 
and through the employment of the Samoan chiefs in 
the duties of their chiefly position as governors of 




The Samoan has no domestic life ; no other man 
is so strongly tied to his family. This is but one 
more of the apparent contradictions of the life of 
these islanders. He may put his wife aside at pleas- 
ure, he never objects to allow the adoption of his 
child by another, the permanent relations of the 
household as they are known to other culture are 
fleeting associations with the Samoan. Yet with all 
the looseness there is a certain rigidity which rules 
every man and woman. That is the Samoan family 
or ainga, the collective households of common ances- 
try. Nor is that an accurate description of what 
constitutes a Samoan family. The common ancestry 
may be the result of birth ; it may be as firmly estab- 
lished by adoption. 

The Samoan has always shown a disposition toward 
monogamy, even though an impermanent one. It is 
only in the oldest tales, and mostly in the mythical 
period before history may be said to have begun, 
that simultaneous plurality of wives appears. Even 
then such a state is almost always marked by special 
circumstances which, in the Samoan way of thinking, 
probably amounted to valid reasons therefor. Mar- 
riage was consensual, its essential was that it should 



be published to the knowledge of the people, this 
essential leading to the rude and revolting ceremo- 
nies of the nunu, the form of marriage for chiefs. 
Samoan marriages were during mutual pleasure, they 
were broken by the simple leaving of the dissatisfied 
party. Secrecy in marriage relations was an offense 
against ideas of good taste, not against morals, it did 
not load the woman with a burden of shame. At any 
time after the voluntary dissolution of one of these 
consensual marriages, each party might contract 
another. Irregularity of life among unmarried women 
was so little comprehended that there was no name 
for it in the language. Breach of faith in wedlock 
was visited with rude punishment; the injured wife 
was permitted to punish her rival by slitting the nose. 
Marriage, being only temporary, did not make the 
wife a member of the family of her husband ; she was 
under the power of his family and of her own as well. 
Her children were born members of her husband's 
family. If born after the dissolution of her marriage 
they were counted as members of her family, and 
without any opprobrium attaching to them by reason 
of this or any other irregularity of their position. 
Neither man nor woman might marry a member of 
the family of either parent, for they were all brothers 
and sisters. 

In these circumstances and under these conditions 
consider the case of a male child born to parents who 
yet live in the same house together, that is, the mar- 
riage relation has all the permanency with which it is 
possible to endow it under this system. 



Certain formalities at birth, ceremonies which may 
be traced elsewhere in Polynesia, point to a dim re- 
membrance of an earlier stage of society, to polyan- 
dry, in which the child was held to be of the mother's 
family and might be employed to mulct the paternal 
family of some of its property. This child of sav- 
ages is born to the best of good treatment within the 
knowledge of the parents, and is encouraged to feel 
that father and mother are to be his willing servants. 
It is no uncommon sight to see a small child impos- 
ing infantile commands on obedient parents ; admo- 
nition, correction and punishment of the young are 
extremely rare. Infant mortality is very large, the 
people having only a few drugs and very strong ones, 
which are employed solely on the guidance of external 
symptoms, the knowledge of functional anatomy 
being very slight and extremely inaccurate. During 
the nursing period, which may extend two or three 
years, the child is called by various terms of affection 
or endearment, but has as yet no individual name. 

When the child leaves his mother the first or child- 
hood name is given. At this period also he begins to 
be eligible for adoption into another family. The cer- 
emony is simple in the extreme, the blood parents 
readily consent, the adoptive parents take the child 
to their home and give him a name which makes him 
in all respects as much a member of his new family 
as though he had acquired membership by birth. 
Just as completely he ceases to be a member of his 
blood family, except that it is closed to him in mar- 
riage. This adoption is very common ; probably a 



third of all Samoans, men and women, are thus mem- 
bers of families other than those to which they were 
born. That the rights of the adopted member are as 
good as those of the member by birth appears in the 
fact that the heads of many families have been thus 
adopted. The history of the senior royal line, the 
Tupua, expressly states the fact ; Tupua himself was 
the child of Fuimaono and Oilau and received the 
name of Fuiavailili — he was adopted by Fenunuivao, 
and when she was married by Muangututia the lad was 
taken into the sacred family and received the name 
of Tupua, which he has transmitted to his descend- 
ants. When the child has reached the age of eight 
or ten years he chooses for himself a name, either 
that by which he has been known in early childhood, 
or any which may suit his fancy; this name he may 
change at pleasure, it is often given up in exchange 
for that of some friend. At fourteen or fifteen years 
of age he is tattooed and thereby signalizes his entry 
into manhood. He now assumes his full share of 
his duties to his family ; he may marry, he has a voice 
in the conduct of family affairs. Up to that period 
his family has supported him as one of its unpro- 
ductive members, now he enters upon his right to 
labor for his family. 

Here lies the social condition of his life. He may 
not toil for himself, he must toil for a family which 
supports all alike. He has become a full member of 
a system in which each works for all and each draws 
benefit from the other. 

The central point of this system is the name of the 



tulafale or head of the family. The name is in own- 
ership of the whole family, it carries with it all title 
to property and all authority. The idea is charac- 
teristically Samoan, this making out of a name a 
solid reality; it is not easy to grasp the idea and to 
comprehend this seemingly inverted way of looking at 
a fact. It is very difficult, indeed, to find in civilized 
life any condition of affairs which can be made to serve 
as an illustration even of the differences between the 
two customs, so radically dissimilar are they. It is 
known that all property of the Salvation Army is 
vested in General Booth, in trust for the organiza- 
tion of which he is the head. In case of his retire- 
ment by death or resignation a new commander-in- 
chief would be chosen to succeed him in this trust, 
and all the titles to property would pass to the new 
incumbent. Now the Samoan custom would be to 
decide upon some eligible person, a member of the 
Booth family by birth, or with equal validity by adop- 
tion, and to elect him, not commander-in-chief, but 
William Booth, and as such seized of all property and 
rights belonging to the organization. The tulafale 
name, therefore, means all that the family has, and its 
possession carries with it all the dignity and authority 
of the family, the relation being that of father and 
children. The name is vested in the family, it is con- 
ferred upon a chosen member of the family only after 
deliberation and by the unanimous consent of all the 
members, it may be resigned back to the family by 
its holder at will, and is vacated by anything which 
removes him from the scene of his duties for any in- 



A Samoan child in her finery of beads, a fine mat, 
and the hibiscus blossom tucked over one ear 


convenient period ; it may be revoked by the family 
council in case of wrong or unsatisfactory adminis- 
tration. In the last analysis the tnlafalc is seen to be 
a president elected for an uncertain term, and to hold 
his authority by virtue of a democracy exercising the 
fullest right of suffrage. Such is the head of the 
family; after all, a very simple president directly re- 
sponsible to his constituents, and prevented from act- 
ing except by their unanimous consent. 

The family property vested in him falls naturally 
under the two great heads of real and personal. 

The real estate is owned by the family without any 
division of interests, and comprises certain pieces of 
land in proximity to the town green where their 
houses are built, and larger blocks in the interior, 
where they may establish plantations of food stuffs 
and other products useful in their domestic economy. 
Other real property consists in rights to enter on the 
land of others for certain purposes, to draw water or 
to pluck cocoanuts. 

Personal property consists of canoes and fishing 
gear, of mats and pieces of cloth, of the generally 
scanty furnishings of the house. For the most part 
they are retained in individual possession ; that they 
are really held in common stock appears in several 
ways. If the family must make a present or contrib- 
ute to some extraordinary expense of the town, such, 
for instance, as the wedding of its official maid, then 
the tulafale calls upon the several members of the 
family for the goods which are in their possession. 
In like manner, if a member of the family fancies any- 



thing in the possession of another member of the 
same family, he has simply to take it for his own use. 

Into a society thus organized the young man enters 
when his tattooing is complete. He is familiar with 
every detail, he has seen the performance of all its 
ceremonies, he has learned the formulas of courtesy 
with which others must honor his family, he has 
learned from his elders the tales of his ancestry and 
the ramifications of his family in other towns, he has 
enjoyed the care of his family in his young days, now 
he is to assume his share of the duties. With those 
duties he is familiar. He knows to the last item the 
possessions of the family. Some little tasks have 
been imposed upon him, tasks proportioned to his 
strength, now he is to perform all of a man's duty 
according to his skill. When his tula f ale bids him, 
he must form one of a party to go upon the family 
lands in the bush and care for the plantations or open 
new ones. He must fetch wood for the family oven. 
He must take the gear and bring in fish for the fam- 
ily food. He must bear club and spear in the wars 
of his town. He must exert his skill in building 
canoes and houses. He must make speeches and 
keep the knowledge of the history of his race. 

These are the occupations of man. One of the old 
stories tells of the death-bed of an ancient hero. 
About his mat sat his sons, and to each the dying 
man distributed some article of the equipment which 
had served him well in life. To one he gave the dig- 
ging stick and the tops of taro ready for planting, his 
was to be the duty of tilling the soil. To the next 



he gave the bamboo pole, the pearl shell fly-hook and 
the nets, his duty was to get the food with which the 
sea is teeming. Yet another fell heir to the richly 
carved club of ironwood, and his was to be the duty 
of war. To another was given the stone axe and the 
shell gouge, he was to be skilled in making things 
and in tattooing men, the artificer of the community. 
The last received the staff and the fly-flapper, he was 
to be the orator, the maker of speeches, the living 
record of the history of the race. 

This was the first and the last specialization of 
industry, it continues to the present day. Yet it is 
not allowed to be rigid and cramping to the needs of 
the family. Each does most often that for which he 
has special talent, yet he employs his strength always 
where it will do the most good. If there are no 
houses to build, the carpenter will be found in the 
plantation or at the fishery. Such work as is needed 
by the family is apportioned to all the members in 
proportion to their ability. In the tropical islands a 
very little labor suffices to assure all the necessities 
of food and shelter ; the social burden does not, can- 
not indeed, press heavily on any individual. 

People developing in such a scheme of life can 
never fit in any system of family such as is known 
to the more advanced races. An exemplification of 
this came to light in the course of some judicial inves- 
tigations. Capt. Elisha Hamilton, an American and 
at one time United States Vice-Consul at Apia, married 
a Samoan woman, who then or previously took the 
name of Mary and became to all people, white and 



brown, Mele Samisoni. In time Capt. Hamilton died. 
His widow did not long remain disconsolate, but 
married Te'o, a young Vaiala chief of subordinate 
rank. From that time forth he was known among 
the natives and the white people alike only as Mary 
Hamilton's husband. But the loss of his identity was 
not the only thing which happened. He successfully 
pleaded with the Samoan government that he had 
passed out of their jurisdiction. He was cited to 
appear in some native case before the Samoan Chief 
Justice, Folau Papali'i. Lounging into court (it 
should be carefully understood that the Chief Justice 
of Samoa is a foreign and a dignified official, and that 
the Samoan Chief Justice is quite different and has to 
do only with petty native cases), Mary Hamilton's 
husband argued the point that he was American. 
Mary had been a Samoan, but by marrying the Amer- 
ican Hamilton she had become American. So he, 
Samoan by birth, acquired the American citizenship 
of his predecessor through his marriage with the 
American Mary. Chief Justice Folau accepted this 
as good in law, and it was only by accident and long 
afterward that it came to knowledge of those who 
could set the matter straight. 

This Folau once employed his family after a fash- 
ion not at all likely to suggest itself to other Chief 
Justices. A certain fixed allowance was made at one 
period for the maintenance of native offenders, and 
Folau had the spending of it. Being very apprecia- 
tive of a good thing, Chief Justice Folau sentenced his 
household and others of his family to his jail, and 



drew the prison funds for them as prisoners, thus 
keeping it all in the family. So long as this combina- 
tion remained undiscovered it was impossible for any 
ordinary offender to get into jail. 




The position of woman among the Samoans is, 
when all things are considered, not only satisfactory 
but enviable. She has her share of the duties which 
fall upon the communal family to perform, she enjoys 
an equal share of the privileges and benefits which 
fall to its lot. Knowing nothing better, she lives 
under the conditions of a rude and barbarous life 
without appreciation of its inconveniences, and seeing 
no cause to wish for anything better. She is by no 
means the drudge and beast of burden which women 
in other rude communities are ; she has a voice in 
affairs. In matters concerning the family well-being 
she is consulted ; she has the right to advise and to 
vote on terms as free as those allowed to her brother. 
She may rise to a position of dignity and authority in 
the community. She may be chosen its taupou and 
as such is entitled to a train of girls, her 'aualuma; 
she is as much a part of the system of government as 
is the chief; honors are her official portion. She is 
sought in marriage by the great, her nuptials cement 
alliances. When she goes in formal state to call upon 
the taupou of some other town the procession is 
headed by the inevitable orator shouting her name 



and rank and titles ; she personifies the family dignity 
and its power. The first of Samoans to attain su- 
preme authority, to become possessed of all four royal 
names, was Salamasina, a woman. 

These sketch the chances of the woman in public 
life. Her domestic cares are summed in the duty to 
be the housewife. Hers is the task to wade the 
lagoon for the smaller fish, to weave the mats, to beat 
the tutuga bark into the siapo cloth, to cook, to manage 
the affairs of the home. In the simplicity of the state 
which she inherits as a birthright, these tasks are not 
burdensome. There is no idea of menial occupation ; 
there cannot be such an idea among a people who 
know not the institution of domestic service as a spe- 
cialized occupation. The nearest the Samoan can 
come to the idea of a servant is 'au'auna, which means 
only one sent on an errand. With all her dignities 
and honors the taupou may be seen on her knees pull- 
ing up the weeds which struggle to grow between the 
pebbles of the pavement about the guest house in 
which she exercises the rites of hospitality. The wife 
of the chief of highest rank may be found side by side 
with the wife of the meanest commoner hunting for 
sea urchins in the sprigs of coral, and, when found, 
cooking them in the same pit oven. 

Housekeeping is no great toil in the Samoan com- 
munity. With the break of day the family and the 
guests, who have been sleeping on no more extensive 
bed than the floor mat laid over the pebble pavement 
and with the head supported by a joint of bamboo, 
yawn out of the night's sleep and arise for the bath. 



When that is done the bamboo pillows are stacked 
along the beams overhead, the mosquito screens and 
all the large mats are rolled in convenient bundles 
and sent to the same convenient closets. There is no 
furniture to arrange, the floor mats are turned over 
and shaken and freshly spread upon the pavement. 

The posts, which uphold the arching height of the 
roof of the house, arise from the center of the floor, 
three trunks of trees as straight as may be found. 
They have more purpose in the house than merely to 
support the roof, they carry the dignity of the lady 
who rules the house ; at their base is her proper seat 
on which no other woman may venture to intrude. 
When she takes her place there she has no need to 
draw the corner of the mat over her feet, as she does 
elsewhere when chiefs are present, the sign of being 
in the house on sufferance. In her own place she 
claims and receives the language of courtesy, that 
oddity of speech which the Samoans and the Malays 
alone know ; she may not be spoken of or addressed 
as faHne, merely a woman, but as tamaita'i, or madam ; 
her house ceases to be fale, but becomes maota, a 
mansion ; many other words are supplanted by terms 
of dignity, which it is the worst of ill breeding to 
omit. The posts mark another distinction. The 
three stand close together in a line. Produce that 
line to the edges of the house at either end, it forms 
the major axis of the oval floor. In front of this line 
is the place for guests, behind is the place for domes- 
tic cares; in a space altogether open and with not a 
single partition, the imaginary line has marked out 



parlor and scullery. If you have the rank you enter 
the parlor, if you are of no rank you go around and 
enter at the back, where you seat yourself and do 
without a formal greeting. Sitting in the parlor front 
you must remain unconscious of what is doing beyond 
the posts ; etiquette has run up a partition which you 
do not see through. Not to the manner born you 
break a thousand niceties of good manners, and the 
Samoans, even after years of acquaintance with white 
people, have not ceased to wonder at a people who 
know none of the amenities of life. You see the sav- 
age has his ideas and is quick to criticise the prevail- 
ing bad manners of the civilized. 

There is but one change needed to restore the house 
from its night to its day aspect. At night the stout 
and narrow floor mats are stretched as beds from the 
posts to the front of the house, by day they must run 
the other way or the house is considered in disorder. 
When this alteration has been made the housewife 
visits her cupboard for the morning meal. Her pan- 
try for food consists of a pair of small beams cut to 
a pattern, which, like everything in Samoa, never 
varies ; they are lashed across the three center posts 
just high enough to clear the head of any one walking 
beneath. From these beams she reaches down the 
cocoanut leaf baskets in which the food is kept ready 
cooked, for breakfast is always a cold meal. With 
the basketed larder she brings out a supply of strong 
mats a foot wide and two or three feet long to serve 
c.s individual tables. Samoan life is lower than ours, 
lower by thirty inches, which is the height of a table 



from the floor ; what we do on the top of a table the 
Samoan does quite as comfortably on the floor itself. 
On each of these food mats or lanlau, the lady of the 
house spreads a freshly plucked leaf, either of the 
bread-fruit or of the banana, as may be nearest at 
hand, and lays upon it a portion of such food as she 
may have saved over from the meal of the evening 
before. She will surely have big pieces of baked 
taro, dirty-looking baked bananas, perhaps a fish in 
the lacing of leaves in which it was baked, sea urch- 
ins, perhaps a red junk of pork. On every tray are 
placed two kinds of food, for the islander will go 
long hungry rather than eat of a single article of diet. 
When every person has his tray before him the head 
of the house says grace ; they actually had a grace 
before meat before the missionaries came to convert 
them from heathendom. In unbroken silence they 
attack the meal and eat rapidly, but with precision. 
When the last morsel is eaten, each drains the fluid 
of a freshly opened cocoanut and washes his hands 
in a shell full of water, which is passed around to 
those who have finished the meal. 

Breakfast over, the family scatter to their various 
occupations, and with the men out of the way, house- 
keeping may proceed. The mats on the floor are 
to be swept or shaken off and tucked away aloft, 
where they may be reached as needed. Then every 
day the floor has a good sweeping, just as if it were 
carpeted, instead of being paved with black pebbles 
of volcanic rock, or chips of yellow coral. To clean 
such a floor they have evolved a durable and effective 



broom of the midribs of cocoanut leaflets tied at the 
end of a stick. This enters all the crannies of the 
pavement and removes all the dirt as no other kind 
of a broom would do. With this weapon of domestic 
sovereignty the good lady of the house sweeps out 
her home and the strip of pebble pavement which 
extends around it, in which a spear of grass or other 
weed would be an offense. She has to look after the 
green turf of the village plaza or malae on which her 
house faces, the grass must not be allowed to grow 
too high, the unsightly traces must be concealed of 
the rooting of the pigs; she has to be careful that 
not a single leaf is left in sight, a single leaf will vastly 
disorder the tidiness of even a large malae if that leaf 
happens to have fallen from a cocoanut tree during 
the night and lies sprawled over six or eight yards of 

Sweeping over, the housewife turns to other occu- 
pations of her craft. If she is going to be away from 
home she takes care that no mat or any other thing 
is left on the pebbled floor, for in the absence of 
human residents the pigs and chickens of the village 
will stalk in and out of the house as the hunt for food 
may carry them. Her duties away from home are 
mostly to be performed in company with other women 
of the village. When the tide is out by daylight they 
search the lagoon and the reef for the shell fish and 
sea-slugs, which are a favorite article of their food; 
there are molluscs in the chinks of the coral which 
are good for food, and they have to be pried out for 
the family larder. Luck may guide some woman to 



the snaky arms of an octopus, than which the sea 
holds for them no greater delicacy. Or it may be 
that the time has come for the women to cultivate 
the orchard of the tutuga, of which they use up many 
hundreds of trees a year in making siapo. 

Perhaps her duties lie not abroad but at home. 
She spreads out her mats upon the floor and goes to 
work as cross-legged as any tailor, with an extra cross 
that no tailor could ever accomplish. She paints the 
siapo, on which she has already spent hard blows up 
to her waist in water when beating out the bark into 
paper tissues ; she weaves mats for a variety of house- 
hold uses, for each use a different mat with its own 
different name and different material ; she shows deft 
fingers tricked with skill as she ornaments a fan or a 
hat made of island stuffs ; the fan she will sell to the 
tourist if she can get to Apia when the monthly steam- 
ers come in ; the hat she will wear with the gaudy 
humility of the converted soul when next she goes 
to church. That is the conventional sign of the 
woman who is fa'asa, who has got religion and has 
joined the church, she wears a bark bonnet rich in 
dyes ; likewise the man similarly circumstanced, he 
wears a white lavalava waistcloth surmounted by a 
white shirt, and he wears the shirt like a surplice, 
every inch of it in sight. If she has foreign made 
cloth, the housewife may occupy herself with dress- 
making, a simple art with three branches. The least 
complicated is the making of a lavalava. She sews 
together two pieces of calico each two yards long 
and hems up the edges, and the universal article of 



apparel is then ready to wear. It may be a chemisette 
which engages her attention ; she may even have the 
goods for a "faloka" frock (Mother Hubbard). At 
such work as this she uses a hand-power sewing 
machine, resting it on the cover of its box ; it is suited 
to her needs and with such an instrument she can 
turn out plain work good enough for her own use. 

In the afternoon there is the family dinner to cook, 
for there is no midday meal. The cooking is done 
for the whole village together in pits dug well behind 
the houses. It is a general operation of the whole 
community, in which everybody has some sort of a 
share. The men have attended the tilth and have 
brought in the yield of their plantations, or their take 
in the sea; they have fetched the firewood and have 
heated the cobblestones which cook the food in the 
pit oven ; they stand ready to handle the hot cobbles 
and to cover in the oven when the time comes. The 
women have prepared the food to be cooked, have 
plaited up the fish in mats of green leaves, have 
mixed the made dishes of taro and bread-fruit and 
all sorts of things, which are made of the consistency 
of a custard with cocoanut water. The children 
bring the heaps of banana leaves with which the hot 
pit is to be lined and covered over. The men pull out 
the cracking stones from the heap of fire blazing in 
the pit, put in the viands on their bed of leaves, toss 
back the stones over the things to be baked and bury 
the mass in hot earth. Such cooking needs no one 
to attend it, and there is time to sleep half the after- 
noon away. A long nap during the day is looked 



upon as a necessity by everybody, and all make a 
point of taking it when and where they may. 

When the sun is far down in the west and night is 
near, comes the time for calling. Mats are spread all 
over the floor of the house and the women stroll in 
for a gossip over their cigarettes. Then may be 
heard the call of cheery salutations from every house 
to passers along the beach or on the green ; the chil- 
dren are at play close to home ; under all the sounds 
of life is the hum of some story teller and the sharp 
exclamation m&i, with which her hearers greet the 
tale of wonders. This social hour lasts until the night 
falls in and it is time for all good folk to be at home. 

With the dark comes the firelighting, a duty of the 
house mistress. Once this firelighting was an act of 
pagan worship addressed to the aitu, or tutelary 
spirit, which looked out for every family. The old 
meaning gone out of it, the ceremony lives on, and 
every night a brief blaze is kindled in one of the fire 
pots which flank the center posts of every Samoan 
house. As soon as the fat flames have fairly caught 
the dry cocoanut leaflets with which the fire is fed, 
the head of the household recites the invitation, "Now 
let us make our worship." One starts a hymn, all 
join in, more noise than melody ; but the feat is not 
to be criticised, for the islander will not relish disre- 
spect to any feature of his worship. The hymn fin- 
ished, the head of the house prays for his household 
and his visitor, prays at length for everything he 
thinks worth praying for, and is nothing if not fervent 
in his supplications. Then the housewife promptly 



sets forth the dinner, the important meal of the day, 
the only one at which hot viands are regularly served. 
When dinner is over and the fragments have been put 
in baskets and hung up to furnish forth the morning 
board, the lady of the house may join the game of 
suipu, casino, with a grimy deck of broken cards as a 
basis of much agility in cheating; she may take her 
share in the talk of the house, she may even stretch 
out on the mats for a nap. But one more duty will 
round out the day, bed time comes early, she must 
order the house for the night. The mats are spread 
once more as they were when this day began, the 
bamboo pillows are brought down from the rafters 
and with them the mosquito nets or sleeping tents. 
These slight preparations are all that a Samoan needs 
to make in order to pass the night — between his body 
and the pebbles of the pavement is but a single thick- 
ness of a mat, under his head is no softer support than 
a smooth joint of bamboo, but as he has never become 
used to mattress and pillow, he sleeps cool and com- 

One last care remains for the lady of the house. 
When all have settled themselves for the night she 
lifts the lamp out of the wire frame in which it has 
been swinging, turns down the wick until the flame 
is very dim, then sets it on the floor that it may keep 
watch while all are sleeping. 


As a good Christian woman she is sure that there 
are no wandering demons of the night such as her 
people used to believe in when they were heathen, 



and knew no better and had to keep the fire burning 
all night long to scare away the evil spirits. Of this 
she is sure in the broad light of day. But in the 
evening, when it is dark and still, she will tell you 
there is no such reason now to keep the lamp on a 
glimmer, but after all it does no harm, she says, and 
it would be convenient if any one should awake 
and want to smoke, for then he could toast his 
tobacco leaf and light his cigarette at the flame. 
This night and every night there is not a Samoan 
house in which men are asleep which does not give 
out the faint glow of a lamp turned low. And the 
demons of the old time never enter a house which 
shows this protection. 


The village taupou and her attendants 



An inordinately large part of island life is taken 
up with rude formalities. The Samoan is never so 
content as when he is enjoying the opportunity to 
swagger through some complexity of arrangements, 
long speeches shouted across the expanse of the vil- 
lage green, incessant repetitions of set phrases of 
formal honor, processions in gaudy adjustments of 
his normally scanty attire led by grotesque dances of 
official beaus and belles of the towns. If a speech is 
to be made — and life consists mainly of making 
speeches — the tulafalc takes his place remote from the 
house in which sits the chief addressed, fifty yards or 
more away across the ma\ae y and the neighborhood 
resounds with what he says. If a formal present is to 
be made, the givers throw their gifts on the grass of 
the meeting place. If a pig is baked for guests it be- 
comes a triumph as it is borne from the oven on the 
shoulders of men. 

Every contingency of customary Samoan life finds 
the Samoan fully prepared with the time-honored 
phrase of compliment or of sympathy, with the fitting 
term of address. If one would hail a man at such 



a distance that a loud call is necessary, the shout is 
prefaced by the word Sole, sir. To a woman one calls 
Fiina c, woman. Even to a child is an appropriate 
hailing sign, Ta e. To a lady of rank Tamaita'i e, 
or Tansala e ; to a chief Ali'i e. One passing is con- 
stantly greeeted with the salutation, A 'e alu ifea? 
"whither goest thou?" not yet quite degenerated into 
the meaningless form of the English question "how 
do you do?" For the Samoan greeting still demands 
an answer to its interrogation ; it may be no more 
than Id, "down yonder," and that carries by im- 
plication a willingness to stop for a wayside chat ; or 
it may take the form se fe'au, "an errand," and then it 
is known that the present is not a fit time for the in- 
terchange of the new stories which spread almost 
electrically among the Samoan towns, half believed, 
half distrusted, but always discussed down to the last 
detail. Every parting, whether of chance wayfarers 
or when one leaves a house at which he has been 
visiting, has its set phrase, the same whether one be 
going but across the village green to the next house 
or about to set forth upon the sea. 

Oka 'ou alu," says the parting guest, "I am 

"Ua lelei" his host replies, "It is good." 

"To fa lava, soifua," and the guest at once arises 
to go, "May you indeed sleep as nobles sleep, and 
may your life be as the life of a chief." The use of 
the court dialect crowds this three-word phrase with 
all this courtesy. 

"Tofaina," is the last word of the host as the guest 



steps backward under the eaves of the house and out 
upon its surrounding pebble pavement, "may you 
sleep like a noble." 

Death is ceremonially viewed as a departure. The 
dying man has about him his family and his friends. 
To them he commits in the fullest form of ceremony 
his last wishes, mavaenga, to be a law unto them. 
Except when death comes by the sudden chance of 
war, the family would be held inestimably bereaved 
whose head set forth on the westward voyage of the 
spirit without the opportunity to perform the cere- 
mony of the mavaenga. Tradition would hand it 
down for many a generation to the family disgrace, 
nay, the spirit itself might be barred from setting 
forth for that yawning chasm in westward Savaii 
which receives all peaceful souls, and it might remain 
in unrest as an aitu, a ghost, to plague its family and 
friends, and, if not set at rest, to become a malevolent 
demon imperiling the woods and every dark and 
lonely spot. 

The highest pitch of form and ceremony is reached 
in Samoan visits. Enter a Samoan house, the guest 
house of the town when the people are gathered to 
welcome the arriving guests, such hospitality being a 
duty. Rigid custom fixes the place of every one 
within the house, so does it prescribe the exact form 
of words in the dialogue of greeting. As every de- 
tail of the situation has its bearing on the ceremony 
of reception, it is first necessary to explain the 
situation and the surroundings of both the guests and 
the receiving party, and that must be prefaced by 



some view of the official guest house and its situation 
relative to the activities of the town. 

Without entering upon the niceties of the several 
orders of Samoan architecture, it will suffice to say 
that the guest house (a literal translation of its name 
faletalimalo) belongs to the highest order, the fale 
tele or "great house." Its general motive, like that 
of all Samoan houses, is a strong roof well thatched, 
covering a pavement of smooth pebbles or coral chips 
which extends a yard or more beyond the eave line, 
that line being marked by a compact row of larger 
rocks. The fale tele, of which order are all the houses 
of chiefs, has a ground section of a well drawn ellipse, 
the longer dimension commonly fifty or sixty feet, the 
shorter about two-thirds as long. The roof, the one 
important thing in these houses, consists of three 
parts securely united after they have been separately 
built, the two end pieces are each a quarter of a 
sphere ; between these curved ends is a plane strip ex- 
tending from the ridge-pole to the eaves in back and 
in front, its width being carefully proportioned to the 
size of the house and ranging from one to three arm 
spans or natural fathoms. The supporting posts of 
this roof are variously assigned in rank by Samoan 
custom, for the house is nothing but a roof on posts, 
the spaces at the sides between the eave posts being 
filled only with sectional curtains of cocoanut leaf mats, 
kept hauled up under all ordinary circumstances and 
lowered only when needed to screen out the sun or 
the rain. At the center of the house the ridge-pole is 
supported by a group of stout posts up to the number 



of three, according to the size of the structure. The 
eaves are supported by lesser posts some five feet 
high and spaced about six feet apart. When the 
pebbled pavement has been spread with coarse mats 
two yards long and two feet wide, and when over 
these at the two places of honor have been laid much 
finer and far larger mats, the house is in readiness for 
the purpose for which it is designed, to receive visit- 
ing parties. It is always placed on the malae, where 
every official ceremony takes place, and whenever the 
exigencies of the town plan permit, this house shows 
its front to the sea. The only difference beyond that 
of position between the front and the back of the 
house, is that the back in the interior has two poles 
tied between the center posts and the beams of the 
plane portion of the roof, which serve for the storing 
conveniently above the floor of spare mats and 
bamboo head rests, which are the furniture of every 
house. At the four points at which the plane strip at 
the eaves meets the rounded ends are posts in pairs, 
one supporting the rounded end, the other the cen- 
tral roof, and the space between the posts of a pair 
never exceeds six inches. These four points and the 
posts at them are called the pepe. The points at each 
end of the longer axis, and therefore under the center 
of the eaves of the rounded ends, are the tala. The 
two pepe in the front of the house and the two tala 
are the posts of honor. In each case the superior 
dignity attaches to the tala (specifically named 
matuatala) and the pepe at the left hand of one coming 
toward the house from the malae. Foreigners on 



going into a Samoan house will preserve their dignity 
in Samoan eyes if they are scrupulous to enter and 
take their seats at this left hand pepe. 

Having now set the stage, it comes next in order to 
introduce the players. The simplest way of present- 
ing the case with accuracy of detail is to assume the 
visit of a real visiting party or maid, on its char- 
acteristically Samoan trip of pleasure and feasting or 
malanga, and just arrived at the real town which is the 
object of its journey. There is good feeling between 
the two towns and the visitors are arriving with their 
canoe loads of gifts of food and other property. The 
town of Luatuanu'u is calling on Falefa, and its fleet 
has been seen making its way to the landing within 
the reef. 

Word is passed that a visiting party is making for 
the town, and all preparations are promptly made for 
its reception. The house of the Falefa chief Leutele 
is spread with its carpeting of mats, and thither gather 
the chiefs who are to take part in the ceremonies. 
Leutele himself sits cross-legged at the post in the 
matuatala, for that is the place of honor for the hosts. 
At the post next to him at the left and therefore just 
within the back of the house, sits his tulafale named 
Iuli. This house of Leutele has a name, as they all 
have ; it is Vai'ili'ili, and the green on which it faces 
is named Moamoa. The chief Salanoa, second in 
rank, sits in the opposite tala, flanked by the tulafale 
Moeono. Alaiasa, Luafalemana, and Suluvave, other 
chiefs of the town, sit at posts in the front of the house, 
leaving the two pepe vacant for the visitors, and gen- 



erally leaving a post vacant next each of the superior 
chiefs in the house ends. In front of the center posts 
sits the official maid of the village, the taupou, one 
of whose chief functions is to be the hostess of visitors. 
She has been chosen from the young girls of the 
family of Salanoa, and her name is Fenunuivao, but 
she has also the pet name of Le Pepe or the butterfly, 
by which she is equally well known. At her side sits 
the official beau, the manaia, of Falefa whose name is 
Fonoti. His duties are to make a marriage which 
shall bring wealth and influence to the town, hers 
are to attract courting parties of the beaus of other 
towns with their many presents. The names cited 
are the names of chiefs and others in Falefa at any 
time, there have always been these names since 
Samoan society crystallized, and they will continue 
to the end. The chiefs have always these names and 
no others, or rather they become chiefs and their re- 
lative rank is fixed because their families respectively 
have chosen them to bear the names which carry the 
power. At the back of the house, the place of no 
dignity, are such common men and women as are 
needed to serve their betters. 

Meanwhile the party from Luatuanu'u has drawn 
its canoes up on the beach and is advancing across the 
malae to the house in which the reception is prepared. 
First walks the chief Luafalealo, accompanied a half 
pace to the left and rear by his tula f ale Pufangaoti 
bearing his emblems of office, the slim staff and the 
fly-flapper. Next comes the beau Leota with the belle 
Poto of Luafalealo's family. Then follow the com- 



mon men who have paddled the canoe and now bear 
the burdens, passing around the right hand end of 
the house, entering it quietly at the rear, leaving their 
burdens outside, and sitting down without ceremony. 
Those of the party who have rank enter the front of 
the house at the same time, long experience teaching 
them to find their proper places without confusion. 
Luafalealo sits at the pcpc on the left, that being the 
honorable post for the visitor at his reception ; and as 
he sits he slightly draws into his lap a corner of the 
mat, a token of his being present on some sort of 
sufferance. Close at his left sits his tulafale. At the 
other pcpc sits Leota, and beyond him the taupou 
Poto. As they sit the party of hosts call out : "Ua 
afifio mai, ua susii mai, ua maliliu mail" 

Luafalealo makes his reply, speaking for himself : 
"Ua afifioina lava, a outou afifionga, le Afionga a 
Leutele, ma Lau Afionga a Salanoa, ma Lau Afionga 
a Luafalemana, ma Lau Afionga a Fonoti, ma Lau 
Afionga a Fenunuivao, ma Lau Tofa Iuli, ma Lau 
Fetalainga a Moeono." As he slowly and with care 
repeats this formula in the undertone which etiquette 
prescribes that he shall use, he looks with intentness 
along the circle of chiefs as if in recognition of the 
names and relative rank of the persons in whose 
presence he finds himself. What the dialogue means 
it is next to impossible to express in English, be- 
cause the English has none of the dialect of courtesy 
which plays so large a part in Samoan society. It 
may be said that the hosts have said, "You have 
come" in three several ways, and the guests have re- 




A taupou would scarcely feel clad without her 
tuinga or head-dress 

The fine mat, the full dress of the taupou 


plied, "We have come," and have tacked on to that 
statement a list of the titles and names of the persons 
whom they see at the different posts of the house. 

This may be made clearer by a brief consideration 
of the system of Samoan titles of rank. For the most 
part they are derived from verbs meaning to come, 
the difficulty in finding literal English equivalents is 
due to the fact that the verb of coming changes in 
Samoan with the rank of the individual. Somewhat 
of this idea may be obscurely found in English, as 
for instance where we speak of "a killing" of 
desperadoes, a "murder" of a reputable citizen, the 
"assassination" of a sovereign. In the use of these 
Samoan titles the literal meaning is simply "Thy 
Coming," the terms used are an attempt to present 
the Samoan idea of the greater dignity of him who 

Of a person of no rank the Samoan uses the verb 
sou (plural o) to devote the idea of coming, no title 
under the circumstances being formed therefrom. 
Advancing now to the lowest grade of rank, that of 
the tulafalc, the verb of coming becomes maliu 
(plural maliliu) ; again from this no title is formed, 
but when a tulafale enters the house he is entitled to 
the salutation "Ua maliu mai," "thou art come." 
Chiefs of the secondary rank have a new verb of com- 
ing, susu, are saluted "Ua susu mai," and receive the 
derivative title Lau Susunga, Thy Approach. For 
chiefs of the primary rank the verb of coming is 
afio (plural afifio), they are saluted "Ua ailo max," and 
receive the derivative title Lau Afionga, Thy Advent. 



Still higher are the kings, more properly the chiefs 
who hold any of the four royal names ; they are 
saluted with "Ua talaao mai," "thou hast parted the 
clouds," but no title is derived from that. The titles 
of tula f ale are interchangeably Lau Tofa, Thy Sleep, 
and Lau Fetalainga, Thy Pronunciamento. Apply- 
ing these principles to the opening dialogue of the 
chiefs at the reception of the visitors, it will be seen 
that the hosts in general terms saluted all ranks of 
the visitors, and that Luafalealo made specific 
acknowledgment to each by name and title. 

Now has arrived the proper time for the 
fa'alupenga, or the showing of courtesy to the whole 
town. Every community in Samoa has a set of stock 
phrases which must be used over and over again to do 
it honor, phrases handed down from a remote 
antiquity and on no account to be altered from their 
ancient form. Some towns can command but three 
or four such phrases, others have two or three score ; 
but be they few or many, they must never be omitted 
in any address to the chiefs of the town by any 
stranger. At every change of topic in the address the 
compliments should be repeated in whole or in part, 
and a very safe rule of Samoan oratory is that they 
cannot be rehearsed too often. 

Luafalealo sees that Falefa will receive him kindly, 
and now he turns back the corner of the mat which 
has covered his lap, that being also a signal to his 
attendants to bring in their bundles and stow them at 
the back of the house. The tulafale Pufangaoti now 
makes his chief's speech announcing the purpose of 



the visit, and incidentally reciting the town compli- 
ments of Falefa, each chief as his name is mentioned 
murmuring "la fo'i," "that also," or "Malie," it is 
well." These are the set compliments of Falefa : 

"Glory be to the town of Fonotl." 

"Glory be to the Four Houses." 

"Glory be to you two elders, Iuli and Moeno." 

"Glory be to the gathering of the men of the king of Atua." 

"Glory be to the race of Tunga." 

"Glory be to thee, Leutele, the mother stock of Tupua." 

"Glory be to thee, Salanoa, the younger brother of Tupua." 

"Glory be to thee, Alaiasa, who wast brave in victory." 

"Glory be to thee, Luafalemana, the son of chiefs." 

"Glory be to thee, Suluvave, the son of the king of Avii." 

Similarly Iuli makes the reply of his chief Leutele 
and the town. With equal repetition and circum- 
locution he expresses the pleasure felt at the visit and 
manages to work into his remarks as many repeti- 
tions of the Luatuanu'u compliments as the former 
speaker has done with those of Falefa. These are the 
complimentary phrases of the visitors : 

"Glory be to thee, the forward "end of the carrying-pike of 
the king of Atua." 

"Glory be to thee, Lafa'aua." 

"Glory be too thee, Fetch much, Fetch little." 

"Glory be to thee, Pufangaoti." 

"Glory be to Lauofo and the feet of his orator's staff, Fulu, 
and IfopO and Ta'uaifainga." 

"Glory be to the race of Taulapapa, namely Seiuli and 

"Glory be to the abiding place of orators." 

"Glory be to the dividing waters of the two inland regions." 

"Glory be to the parting of the road." 



There may not seem very much to these com- 
pliments, but in the Samoan mind they are all im- 
portant. Bitter wars have been caused by omitting 
or altering any of them. The whole orator class 
exists solely to know these phrases, and to be able to 
recite them in their proper places. In the instance 
under review the ceremonies of the reception may 
have consumed hours, but nothing may be abated 
of its slow formalities. When the last speech has 
been made the Falefa chiefs promptly retire, only the 
tanpou Fenunuivao and the manaia Fonoti remaining 
to look after the comfort and entertainment of the 
visiting party. When the chiefs return later they take 
the place of guests in their own house, for the visitors 
thereafter occupy the end of the house. 

These are the official formalities of courtesy as be- 
tween town and town. Of the individual courtesies 
as between man and man there is an enormous 
volume. Some become familiar through frequent 
hearing, such as the vacane with which a Samoan in- 
terrupts one speaking, or the titlon with which he 
crosses your path, both corresponding to the English 
"pardon me," such as the wish for health, soifua, 
which greets a sneeze or a yawn. This mass of 
formalism is a tax on the mind to remember, its cere- 
monies are long drawn out and intricate. It is strange 
to reflect that it is the ceremony of bare savages. 


A manaia with headine-knite 



The very core and center of Samoan life is a clump 
of dried roots, the renowned kava, or, as the Samoans 
themselves name it, 'ava. It is a necessary part of 
every ceremony, a part as great indeed as the whole 
in the estimation of the islanders. Tradition has been 
as busy with it as with everything which the Samoans 
prize. Poets have sung its praises until now there 
has come down from antiquity a stock of kava verse 
of no mean proportions and some considerable in- 
terest. Custom and ritual have grown up about its 
use until it has become encrusted with a mass of cere- 
mony difficult to master and practise. No festival is 
complete without its kava, no war may be fought or 
even determined on if the kava has not been rightly 
served, and the beginnings of peace as well are in the 
kava bowl. With the earliest dawn the loud clapping 
of hands sounding over the malac signifies the morning 
draught of kava served to the chiefs, the last thing at 
night the firelight falls on the ring of chiefs, each with 
his back against his appointed post in the house, wait- 
ing for his name to be called for his kava. A visitor 
must always carry his three pieces of kava for presen- 



tation to his host, the host must present his kava as 
well, and with it a formal offering of specified food. 
Town has fallen out with town, chief been set at odds 
with chief, all over a blunder in the serving of the 

The grape, barley and rye offer their own excuses 
for the place they have taken among men from the 
dawn of culture. But the social or other value of the 
kava resists analysis. Its medicinal properties — 
chemists have found a scant teaspoonful to a bushel of 
dry root — are singularly inert. It is the base of a 
simple cold infusion, it forms neither a malt nor a fer- 
mented nor a distilled liquor. Devoid of the least 
trace of alcohol, it has no power to stimulate the im- 
aginative side of the senses. Equally lacking in se- 
dative powers, it produces no such wealth of visions 
as the juice of the hemp or the poppy. It slightly 
checks the desire to eat, a piece of the dry root kept 
in the mouth will enable a Samoan to work all day 
long without food, yet the custom of the use of the 
beverage prescribes that it shall be followed by a 
formal offering of food. It is not an intoxicant, ex- 
cept that large quantities of fresh kava infused before 
the sap has dried are credited with producing a partial 
paralysis of the lower limbs. Those who use it habit- 
ually are able to leave it off without feeling any re- 
action or craving for it. Its use does not appear to 
produce any functional derangement of the system ; 
it was long credited with producing the common ele- 
phantiasis of the islands, but the use of the micro- 
scope has shown the true cause of that unpleasant 



disease ; the Samoans themselves cast on their kava 
responsibility for a peculiar scurfy skin which fre- 
quently is seen on those past middle age. 

Kava is the root of a large pepper bush, the Macro- 
piper mcthysticum of botanical classification. If it 
were not for legends of its introduction by super- 
natural power in the ages when the land was in dark- 
ness, it would seem to be an indigenous plant, for it 
grows everywhere throughout the bush. It is com- 
monly cultivated in the alleys between the rows of 
houses in every Samoan town, for the duty of present- 
ing it to visitors is so pressing, that it is no uncommon 
occurrence to see hosts taken by surprise hurry to the 
nearest bush and wrench it from the soil, in order to 
trim its cluster of roots and prepare it for immediate 
presentation. It is easily recognized. The bush 
grows in a somewhat straggling cluster of long stems 
as much as two or three inches in diameter, swollen 
into knots at every few inches of the length. The 
leaves are dark green and heart-shaped, as large as 
the two hands. It takes three years for the roots 
to grow to such a size as will make them useful ; after 
the fifth year it is said that the root is too fibrous and 
woody to be good. When sufficiently grown the roots 
are dug up and cleaned. For the most part they are 
cut into lengths of three or four inches and split down 
the middle, to secure even drying when they are laid 
out in the sun. But if a root is found especially 
large it is cured whole, to serve as a present on some 
occasion of great formality; there is more show to 
such a root, but the quality is never so good. 



In Fitiuta of Manu'a they tell of the discovery of 
kava. One of the heroic impersonations of Tangaloa 
lived in that village, and had a son, Lefanonga. Every 
day at earliest dawn the boy saw his father leave the 
house, and could get from his mother no satisfaction 
of his curiosity as to where the father went. One 
morning he trailed his father and followed him to the 
malae of heroes in heaven, and surprised the circle of 
the gods drinking kava. They were at first going to 
kill him, but they gave him a chance to save his life 
by conquering the kava bush, which was a famous 
wrestler. Lefanonga tamed the wild plant and 
brought the first kava to men, together with the 
knowledge of how to use it. In other parts of the 
archipelago the story runs that a son of the King of 
Fiji gave his dying commands that they should bury 
his body, and should care for what might grow at his 
head and at his feet. At the head sprouted the kava, 
at the feet the sugar cane. A rat came along and 
nibbled at the kava and was reeling, he nibbled at the 
sugar cane and recovered. Thus men learned the use 
of kava. From the lad's grave it was carried in two 
expeditions to Samoa, the first landing at Manu'a, the 
second establishing the cultivation of both plants on 

One of the first things to be done by a Samoan on 
visiting another is to present some pieces of dry kava, 
three being the usual quantity. The giver belittles 
his gift and describes it as of no value, the receiver 
praises the fragrance of the kava and gives orders that 
a bowl of the beverage be prepared. For every stage 


A picture of everything that makes the kava, 
except the water and the taupou 


of the transaction there are set forms of speech, which 
it is incumbent on all to follow. The kava passes 
from hand to hand until it reaches the chief to whom 
it is offered. His orator makes the set proclamation in 
a loud voice, so that it may serve notice to all within 
hearing to share in the drinking. The root then is 
passed to the maid of the village, one part of her duties 
being the preparation of the kava. Formerly it was 
the universal practice in all Samoa to prepare kava 
by chewing the root, the taupou and several of the 
girls of her train officiating at that duty in the sight 
of the guests. The missionaries have set a strong 
prohibition against the unwholesome custom, and 
have succeeded in banishing it from the neighborhood 
of Apia. But in the towns of remoter districts, where 
there are fewer white people to exert a restraining 
influence, the old custom remains unchanged, and the 
Samoans profess to find the kava better when thus 
prepared. But when kava is prepared for white people 
in their presence, the pieces of root are pounded in a 
hollowed stone with a smooth piece of rock, pieces of 
domestic furniture which may be noted in the house 
of any chief. 

When by either method the root has been reduced 
to a coarse powder and mass of fibre, it is placed in 
a large mixing bowl known as the tanoa. These 
bowls, which are sometimes of very large size, are 
carved in a single piece from the trunk of a hard tim- 
ber deep red in color, fine in grain and susceptible of 
a high polish. The number of legs may vary in dif- 
ferent bowls, but ten is considered the proper number 



for a bowl which chiefs should use. The genuine an- 
tique bowls with a deep enamel derived from long 
use, are held at fabulous figures, and are practically 
no longer to be obtained. These are invariably se- 
verely plain and devoid of ornamentation, bowls sur- 
rounded by a beaded ornament are made for sale to 

When the powdered kava is in the tanoa, the maid 
of the village proceeds to mix the beverage. She sits 
in her appointed place in front of the line of central 
posts, cross-legged on a mat, the big bowl before her, 
a supply of cocoanut shells filled with water close at 
hand, at least one of her girls sitting beside her and 
another standing at the edge of the house in the rear. 
Near her at a spot in the house fully fixed by old cus- 
tom, sits the manaia or beau of the town, or else one of 
the tulafale, whose duty it is to supervise the operation 
and to rule the service of the drink. One of the at- 
tendants first pours water on the hands of the taupou, 
who then takes the bunch of fibres of the fan or 
hibiscus bast with which the fluid is mixed and 
strained. Water is poured, a little at a time, on the 
powdered root, and the mixer carefully stirs the con- 
tents of the bowl. As soon as there is sufficient water 
both hands go into the bowl, and the particles of the 
root are squeezed over and over to make sure that 
all the strength shall pass into the water. The first 
operation, the squeezing in the hands, continues until 
the floating particles of fibre show that there is no 
more value left in them. The next operation is the 
straining, which is accomplished by the use of the 



bunch of fibre, a loose mop of vegetable strings three 
or four feet long when fresh, but retained in vise as 
long as enough is left to make a handful. The ma- 
nipulation of the fibre is complicated ; properly han- 
dled it serves very effectually the purpose of a strainer. 
The fibres are swept around the surface of the liquid 
in the bowl and brought down from all sides at once 
into a bunch in the hand at the deepest point ; this is 
wrapped over itself in such a way as to collect and 
hold as much of the fibre of the root as possible. The 
dripping bunch of fibre is wrung with a peculiar twist 
over the bowl, and when squeezed as dry as possible 
is passed by the officiating taupou to her girl attendant 
who sits beside her. She tosses it to the girl at the 
back of the house, who shakes the fibre out upon the 
pavement outside, or else on a mat, from which it 
may be collected to be used over again with a fresh 
supply of root. Four or five such shakings suffice to 
remove all the coarse fibre from the bowl, and the fan 
is sent no more to the back of the house. All the 
shaking out of the finer portions is done by the of- 
ficiating taupou, who whirls the bundle of wet fibre 
about her head and prides herself upon the grace with 
which she goes through all the motions. At last she 
thinks the mixture properly made, and holds the fan 
dripping above the bowl and squeezes it with a splash 
into the remainder of the contents below. It is for 
the chief of the house to say whether the mixture is 
right or to order its dilution in case of need, and this 
he may do as the result of a careful glance at the color 
of the liquor as it falls, or if he pretends to a finely- 



educated taste in such matters he will not look up, but 
depend entirely for his judgment on the sound of the 
splash. If the mixture is satisfactory to the chief, the 
supervisor of the ceremony shouts a formal speech an- 
nouncing the straining, to which every person present 
replies with a formal wish for good luck to the drink- 
ing and a general clapping of hands. This was used 
to drive away the malevolent demons of heathen times, 
at the same time it served as an announcement that 
the house was under a taboo, and no one might enter 
or leave it until the completion of the drinking. 

Now that the beverage is ready for the drinkers, the 
supervisor of the kava begins the ceremony in which a 
single mistake as to the rank of the chiefs and others 
in the circle would never be forgiven to him, and 
might possibly lead to grave troubles. He has to 
call the cup of kava for the one who is to receive it, he 
must call him in the proper order of his rank 
and by his proper title, or the cup will be re- 
fused. In general the order of drinking is made 
to alternate between guest and host, the cup of 
honor going to the guest of highest rank, the 
second cup to the host of highest rank, then the cup 
goes to the guest of the second rank, who is followed 
by the host of second rank. The supervisor of the 
kava must know the relative rank of all the chiefs of 
every town in the archipelago — that is a part of the 
accomplishments of the tulafale. In many cases it is 
not sufficient to call the name of a chief and send the 
cup traveling in his direction. Most chiefs have a 
distinct name by which they are known in the kava 



ceremony, sometimes a name, more often a phrase of 
boasting or a threat to hereditary enemies. A Malietoa 
drinks his kava under this call, "Taumasina, fetch here 
Seufangafanga," in which Taumasina is the name of 
the two servants whose duty it is to sit awake by the 
fire when a Malietoa sleeps, and the last word is the 
name of the cup. If the chief happens not to have a 
cup name, the supervisor of the kava calls "the cup of" 
whatever his name may be. For orators and those of 
no rank the call is "thy kava," followed by the name. 

When the name of a drinker is called it is in order 
for him to clap his hands ; it not only serves to direct 
the attendant who serves the cup, it has also some ef- 
fect on the demons which the Samoans do not believe 
in, but which they think it just as well to treat with 
some respect. The cup is a highly-polished piece of 
cocoanut shell, the taupou fills it by dipping the bunch 
of fan into the fluid and then squeezing it into the 
cup which her attendant holds. When the attendant 
is carrying the cup she holds it as high as her head ; 
standing in front of the recipient, she brings it down 
with a long, even sweep toward him so low that she 
almost grazes the mats with it, and continues the 
sweep upward to the level of his hands. As soon as 
he has taken the cup she steps backward toward the 
center posts of the house, or in Manu'a goes alto- 
gether outside the house. 

As the bearer is carrying the cup to him the drinker 
is expected to voice his thanks in the words "ngase- 
ngase," or "malic lau pule" which are polite expressions 
of gratitude. When he has the cup in hand, the old 



custom prescribes that he shall spill a few drops by 
way of libation on the pebbles beside or behind him, 
and accompany the operation with the formula, "Let 
the god drink kava, this recognition is agreeable." 
Then he maydrink or mayreturn the cup to the bearer. 
In the ceremony it is essential that a person who is 
disinclined to drink must touch the cup, either by tak- 
ing it into his own hands or by touching his finger to 
the point at the bottom of it while it still remains in the 
bearer's hand. A very elegant declination performed by 
ladies is to touch with the tip of the little finger the 
fluid in the cup and fillip a drop over the shoulder for 
fortune. The cup refused by any one is not served 
immediately to the next in order, nor is it poured back 
into the tanoa; but when the cup is called for the next 
user, the taupou dips her bunch of fan once more and 
wrings a few drops more into the cup. 

The drinker is expected to drain his cup at a single 
draught, no matter what its size, the few drops which 
remain he is to toss behind him and out of the house, 
and what remains upon his lips he blows off with a 
shout, while the others in the circle murmur a phrase 
of compliment on his drinking prowess. The empty 
cup may be handed back to the bearer, a common 
custom is to toss it along the mats and to set it spin- 
ning like a top with such precision that it shall come 
to a stop directly in front of the bowl. The last cup 
in the bowl is reserved for the supervisor of the kava 
himself. When it is reached he pronounces the final 
formula, and the house is again free for all to enter 
and leave. 



Kava is not an attractive drink. To see it made, 
even with the modern refinement of pounding the 
root, is not a good preface to liking it ; seen in the 
bowl it is yellow and dirty, the odor which spreads as 
it is being mixed is dull and earthy, although the 
Samoans profess to find it particularly agreeable. The 
taste is perhaps not exactly that of stale dishwater — 
with which it has been compared — but it is at the same 
time not exactly anything else. After drinking, the 
mouth, tongue and palate seem as though lightly 
dusted with plaster. Yet most white people use the 
kava as regularly as their native neighbors, a cus- 
tom the reason for which is obscure, as obscure as the 
reasonwhy white people should live at all in the islands, 
among a series of dreadful realities, instead of the 
dream tissue which has been woven out of South Sea 




An early impression, in fact one of the very earliest, 
which one gets of Samoa is that it is a land of music. 
Before the steamer which brings him has cast anchor, 
the air is ringing with the songs of the boatmen as 
they row or paddle to meet the newcomers. As the 
visitors wander among the strange surroundings of 
native life with intent to see as much as the brief stay 
allows, the impression is confirmed by the sound of 
many voices swelling in chorus from this house and 
that. It is natural for the Samoan to burst into song 
on any occasion. The canoe melodies are as old 
as the life of the people. Women at work about their 
houses are always singing, men delving in their lonely 
plantations lighten toil with a song. At the great 
games of cricket or stick-throwing, in which village 
contends against village, there is always a chorus of 
singers. When the frequent processions move across 
the malae on any of their many errands, the presenta- 
tion of a gift of food, the exhibition of ancient fine 
mats, there is always the music of singing. Every 
night at the lighting of the fire as the signal, itself a 
heathen survival, but now the signal for evening 
prayer, there is the singing of a hymn. On Sundays, 


The taupou's duty is to prepare the kava 


and often taring the v the same sound of melody 

:iis from the village churches, When th- • . . is 

served :: merry gatherings in the evenings there -is 

a game : forfeit after tl ing of the cup t. re- 

cipient most either recite a legend or sir.^ a srng. 
.no drink. Almost aD me knowlec.. 
the past is preserved in chants and songs to be 
handed down with urns 

AD :' - ac is vocal, the human voice is the : 
instrument. TheSamoan-nz-rr _::tined to the slig ltest 

ginning of the idea of fixity" of musical valv. s ::t 

has culminated in the orchestra. They had a form : 
:h the bamboo growing in all the forests it 
would have been wonderful if there had been no re cog- 
nition of its s:und-producing value. But the island 
Ante as in instrument :: small compiss. it as 
pierced with three holes, but the s: :r - follow no regu- 
lar system and there::-: are of no service in develop- 
ing a musical scale. And th - Bote as blown at t 
nostril, not at the lips. Its sound is a faint and feel 
note, too small of volume to accompany the voice, and 
• :th too little flexibility to reproduce the tones : : the 
common songs. They are not whistlers ; many : 
them do not know how to make the sound through 
puckered lips, a whistle is not used even to call a 
dog. The only development of the instrumental idea 
as an ass stant to the voice has been along the line 
: the drum. They have drums of varying sizes, but 
of one general type, a log of wood somewhat like 
their canoes in shape and hollowed out through a 

: on the upper surface. Some of these reach the 



length of ten or twelve feet and give a note corres- 
pondingly deep. From this size they grade down to 
those of less than a foot, which may be carried in the 
hand. The drum-sticks vary in proportion, from the 
single club which is used on the largest, to the two 
wands employed on the hand drums. The sharp 
tones of these excavated drums are employed only 
for signal purposes, to call the people to meeting, to 
sound the curfew, which sends the children scurrying 
off to bed. The drum used in music, a mere meas- 
urer of the time, is hastily made by rolling any mat 
off the floor to surround a bundle of a few sticks ; it 
is beaten by a stick in each hand ; in choruses it is 
usually supplemented by clapping of the hands. 

Rarely in these days does one hear the chanting of 
the old legends ; the older people are becoming very 
jealous that the knowledge of them shall not spread 
among the Papalangi foreigners, the younger people 
are scantily familiar with the old forms of intoning. 
The reciter droned a large part of the poetry of these 
tales on a low note ; from this he passed suddenly to a 
higher pitch and chanted a short passage, and then 
the hearers broke out into a lyric chorus of certain 
parts, after which the reciter returned to the droning 
recitative. From those lyric choruses, at first subor- 
dinate to the chants, has developed the music of the 

As with other people who have developed remote 
from contact with the beginnings of European civili- 
zation, their musical scale is widely at variance with 
the uniformity of written music. They have chosen 


tones other than those included between do and do, 
their ears are suited by intervals and assonances which 
are out of harmony and unmelodious to ears attuned 
to the diatonic scale. They have in their superb phy- 
sical development and perfect lungs the raw material 
of the voice ; some manifest through all the rudeness 
a mellow sweetness, particularly in the minor chords 
which so largely constitute their music. But the ma- 
terial is altogether raw and untrained, they have never 
attained any idea of the rational use of the voice, their 
one idea seems compassed in volume, and to attain 
this they have sacrificed everything to the upper reg- 
ister, to the head tones, to an exaggerated falsetto 
which in no long time rasps out the vocal chords. As 
is frequently the case with savage music, the words 
and the tune are so fitted together as to bring the 
lyrical ictus upon a verbal accent at the very end of 
each measure with a redundant syllable. This results 
in giving to the music an abrupt finish in full volume 
with a final slur which is not pleasant. 

The Samoan dance, the siva, is a natural accompan- 
iment of the music. The dance is a calisthenic exhi- 
bition with the aid of song, it is only in rare cases 
pantomimic. It is entirely an exhibition and designed 
for the entertainment of spectators, without whom 
there could be no dance. It is devoid of the element 
of mutuality which marks the waltz and some other 
great national dances, it is devoid of other meaning 
than the display of grace, agility, or the grotesque. 

As it has been necessary to note in so many in- 
stances, the siva also is among the duties of the taupou 



of every village. She is trained in all the poses of the 
dance by her duenna, her scanty wardrobe is largely 
made up of material which shall adorn her for the 
dance, her train of attendant girls is carefully re- 
hearsed to accompany her in the siva. She is not a 
soloist in these performances, for there is no distribu- 
tion of parts, but she is the central figure of the group 
and the leader of the concerted movements of the 
party. Her dancing is one of the things about which 
her town boasts in order to attract suitors, the poets 
of her community write verses about it and sing them 
as they travel by boat in front of other villages. 

The siva is a dance of the upper body, it is danced 
sitting, and the feet and legs move only slightly and 
to keep time. The number of possible motions of the 
body and the arms is limited only by the flexibility 
of the muscles of the dancers and their ideas of what 
is graceful. The motions are in no sense symbolic, 
there is no interpretation to be put upon any pose or 
change of poses, they are calisthenic and no more. 

Like everything else Samoan, a siva is formal, never 
spontaneous. It is known that on a certain night the 
taupou and the 'aualuma, which is her girlish court 
with the duenna, will dance. The house will surely 
be crowded with all the people of the town who are 
entitled to enter, the lesser people with the women 
and the children will form a fringe on the grass out- 
side, for the islanders richly enjoy this form of amuse- 
ment and take a genuine pride in the skill of their 
own official maid. One end of the house is set aside 
for the dancers, the first line extends from the front 



of the house to the back, a second row of principals 
may extend immediately in the rear, and behind the 
actual dancers is a crowd of drummers of rolled-up 
mats, singers and rhythmical clappers of the hands 
which extends indefinitely out upon the green. In 
the center of the front row of principals is the place for 
the taupon as leader of the dance, a position which 
brings her close to one of the fire pots, in which dry 
cocoanut leaflets are kept steadily burning to cast a 
bright light over the shifting scene of glistening skins 
and leaf trimmings and crude colors and writhing 
arms of girls. When all is in readiness for the dance, 
the 'aualuma files into the house, the girls adrip with 
scented oil of cocoanut and decked in girdles of bright- 
ly-stained fibre with many wreaths of odoriferous 
leaves and gay flowers hung over their shoulders and 
about their necks, some carrying out the eighteenth 
century idea of the patch by smearing the cheeks with 
the bright red of the stamens of the hibiscus. In a 
formal way all the young men in the house shout their 
compliments at the 'aualuma, praise their beauty and 
their grace. A Samoan compliment goes right to 
particular items, it is not a shy and modest hint of 
charms, but an oratorical statement which there is no 
mistaking. The 'aualuma seats itself in the one or 
two lines of the principal dancers, according to the 
size of the house and the number of girls present, the 
seat of the taupou is left vacant. 

There is good reason for the delay. The Samoans 
do not wear many clothes at best, the taupou about 
to dance is lightly clad, but her toilette is a long and 



a trying one, it takes as much as three hours to make. 
The 'aualuma are mainly clad in a coat of fragrant oil, 
the taupou is oilier than they and diffuses a sharper 
odor of sandalwood and ylang-ylang and a dozen 
crude essences of trees as yet unknown outside the 
Samoan forests — her attire is only more ornate than 
that of her fellow dancers, except in one particular. 
She wears the tuinga, they do not. The taupou's head- 
dress is a composite affair, part wig, part frontlet of 
nautilus shell, part bright plumage and part scaffold 
of three sticks. It is not an easy thing to put on, for 
its component parts must be assembled piece by piece 
every time of using ; it is productive of constant pain 
while it is worn, and is taken off with a feeling of re- 
lief, yet the sway of custom is so rigid that a taupou 
would scarcely feel herself clad without her tuinga. 
As this mass of hair and sticks and feathers is exposed 
to somewhat rough treatment and violent motions, 
it must be firmly attached to the head. The founda- 
tion is a strip of cloth which is wound around the head 
at the roots of the hair and which serves to draw all 
the hair into a bunch at the crown, where it is allowed 
to stand up to its full length of three inches, which is 
the usual length. Upon this one lock is tied the wig 
of natural hair set in a frame of cloth or fibre netting. 
When that is attached so securely as not to be dis- 
lodged, the scaffolding of three twigs and a cross 
piece is tied in front and made fast to the cloth cover- 
ing just above the forehead. This framework may be 
left without ornamentation, or it may support a com- 
mon decoration of discs of looking glass. Tresses of 



the green and red feathers of the tiny parrakeet are 
attached to the wig and to the framework. The 
tuinga is completed by tying across the forehead a 
band of several rows of the partition plates of the 
nautilus. With this decoration goes a necklace, 
either of bright shells or of whales' teeth ground fine 
and sharp, this being probably the more character- 
istic and representing the greatest value in the eyes of 
all the Pacific islanders. 

There is a burst of applause when the taupou, led 
by her duenna, comes into the house and takes her 
place in the vacant seat in the middle of the front row. 
The compliments are shouted thick and fast, and the 
highest chiefs are loudest in praise of the maid of their 
town. Without loss of time she starts the singing, 
and the dance opens. It does not matter what the 
words are, they have no reference to the posturings 
of the dance — a love song, a battle song, a dirge for 
the dead have all been heard with exactly the same 
movements of the dancers. Generally the songs are 
filled with the praises of the taupou herself, and con- 
tain boastful pronouncements of her great superiority 
over this or that rival in neighboring villages. Every 
dance, with its song accompaniment, is done twice, for 
the first time in common time, the repetition as fast as 
is possible. There seem to be some sixty distinct 
dances, and most taupou are acquainted with about 
half the number ; ten is the common limit displayed 
at any given siva. 

The siva itself is uncouth and inelegant, it mav in- 
terest as a specimen of savage customs, yet it is a 



clean performance. The same is scarcely to be said 
of the second part of the entertainment which follows 
the innocent siva. This the Samoans call the tau- 
alunga, or roof-tree, and it is danced by the taupou 
as a soloist, or with the assistance of a few of her girls. 
This is danced erect and employs the whole body, it 
varies from a mere march to a rudely dramatic per- 
formance. For this style of dance there is no sing- 
ing, but there is abundance of drumming and the clap- 
ping of hands, or possibly a short sentence may be 
monotonously repeated over and over. There is in 
these exhibitions the germ of the theatrical idea ; the 
taupou, often assisted by the manaia, who also wears 
the high headdress, aims to present a review of things 
familiar to her audience. Beginning as a burlesque 
and piece of grotesque horseplay, it soon passes all 
bounds which would be set by a good taste, which it 
is idle to expect from savages. 

A favorite theme of these night dances of the tau- 
alunga class is a representation of the visit of a naval 
officer to a native village on social diversion intent. 
The taupou assumes the part of the officer, and her 
train of girls at first represent his party of sailors. 
This gives a chance for a mock drill, in which it is 
hard to say which is more grotesque, the imitation of 
the manual of arms performed with cocoanut leaf 
stalks in place of muskets, or the attempt of the tau- 
pou to give orders in some sort of gibberish which 
she thinks reproduces the sound of English words. 
After the mock drill the girls cease to be sailors and 
resume the more natural character of village girls. 






Samoans have but a scanty development of the art 
sense. They are attracted by bright colors as they 
are by crude scents of the strongest odor. They seem 
to find pleasure in the flaming scarlet of the hibiscus 
blossoms as large as a tea cup, which they wear in 
the hair or tucked over one ear. The rich red 
nutlets of the pandanus fruit when fully ripe are com- 
monly threaded on fibre for the necklets which are 
worn a great part of the time. The ti plant offers 
brightly colored leaves for frontlets, and its inner 
bark is dyed in gay pigments for the making of gir- 
dles. The fine mats in use as apparel on occasions 
of ceremony are edged with the red feathers of the 
parrakeet; the common clothing of tapa, called by 
the Samoans siapo, is painted in a wide range of 
designs. Whatever there is of the art idea in the life 
of these islanders is essentially geometrical and dec- 
orative. The pictorial is entirely absent. There is 
not the slightest trace of any attempt to reproduce in 
any material a single one of the objects with which 
they are most familiar. Races much lower in the 
scale of development make rude pictures of men and 
animals ; the Samoans not only are utterly unable 



to draw even a suggestion of an object set before 
them, but they seem at a loss to recognize even the 
most faithful reproduction of an object. Thus only 
is it possible to explain how it comes that most Samo- 
ans, when looking at a photograph, turn it a quarter 
of the way around instead of holding it with the bot- 
tom of the picture horizontal. It may be that in this 
lack of accuracy in pictorial appreciation is the reason 
why the Samoan, whose name is tattooed on his fore- 
arm, is just as likely to have it done wrong end to, as 
though seen in a mirror. 

There is clay in Samoa, but no potter. The only 
use to which the clay has been applied in native life 
is in finishing off the two small fire pits which are 
found in every house. The fire bakes the clay into 
coarse brick, the Samoan sees the product, but has 
not learned from it the benefit of fictile work. 

They have not the rudiment of stone working, for 
they are devoid of metals which might serve as tools. 
The highest attainment in the use of stone which 
they have reached is in the building of dry walls — 
heaps of rock without mortar. There are tales of a 
house built of stone on the model of the common 
thatched house. Its ruins may still be seen in a 
mountain gorge at the back of Apia in one of the 
valleys of the Vaisingano, very difficult of access. 
Within quite recent years a chief in an access of relig- 
ious zeal not otherwise manifested, destroyed as far 
as possible this Fale o Ic Fe'e, the House of the Cut- 
tle Fish god of war. The ruins which are pointed out 
as having once been stone posts, show no mark of 



dressing or cutting. Some treasured stones appear 
to have been shaped by art into smooth spheres ; they 
were local gods in the old days, but there is no reason 
to suppose that they are other than the balls of rock 
yet to be found excavating pot-holes in rivers the 
world around. The only suggestion in all Samoa of 
a structural use of stone is to be noted in the name, 
Fale fatu, or House of Stone, which is used in refer- 
ence to the malae of the village of Matafangatele 
when the rulers of the Tuamasanga are there assem- 
bled for the declaration of war ; yet neither there nor 
elsewhere is there a single house into the construction 
of which stone enters. 

The tools for cutting — flakes of rock and sharpened 
edges of shell and serrated teeth of sharks, which 
would prove too feeble to be used in working stone — 
are sufficient with much patience for the shaping of 
such articles of wood as they needed. In house archi- 
tecture there has been no advance beyond simple util- 
ity. The posts are never anything but tree trunks, 
from which the bark has been removed. The only 
example of carpenters' skill with cutting tools is seen 
in the beams of the rounded parts of the roof, which 
are not only cut truly to curve, but are composite of 
many small billets cut, scarfed and fitted with com- 
mendable accuracy and skill. The canoes are almost 
equally devoid of ornament, but they show far more 
of the carpenters' skill. One common type is carved 
from a solid block of wood, others are more ingen- 
iously constructed of planks in irregular shapes, but 
all provided with an inner border of lugs and shoul- 



ders by which the pieces of wood may be sewed to- 
gether, nails and similar devices for fastening being 
quite unknown. In either type the sum of the orna- 
mentation is a row of square blocks on the slight sug- 
gestion of a deck, which are sometimes further set off 
by white cowrie shells tied on. Other wooden ware 
which is susceptible of ornament and any skill of 
carving, consists of clubs and fans and combs. The 
old clubs are most elaborate specimens of work along 
a very few fixed patterns. For the most part carved 
of a wood as dense as iron and almost as refractory 
to work, each club stood for the labor of a lifetime or 
more. The clubs which were really cut for desper- 
ate use in war, are commonly carved in dentelles and 
shallow relief. Other clubs to be used in the siva and 
in triumphal processions are of more complicated 
design and deeper relief, which the ability to employ 
a softer timber made possible. A large part of all 
the wood carving is done in Savaii, and that seems to 
have been always the case, for no reason that is at all 
manifest. For the wooden fans and back combs a 
wood is used which is easily split into thin plates. 
These plates are worked in the flat and are orna- 
mented by cut out patterns like a coarse fret work. 
Back combs a foot in length are common ornament 
and are employed solely for personal decoration. 

Textile industry has not only not attained to the 
loom ; it has not even reached the point of spinning 
or even adding strength to raw fibres by a simple 
twist in the fingers. The only weaving that is done is 
done laboriously by hand. Its sole product is the 


Painting the siapo, the brush is a pandanus nutlet 


mat, of which there are a score of different types, each 
adapted to some special use of the household or the 
community. The material used varies from the coarse 
but common leaflet of the cocoanut to the long and 
fine leaf skins used in the fine mats. The mats grade 
from the coarseness of the material of which they are 
woven. At one end is the floor mat, so stiff and 
heavy that it has given its name papa to planks of 
timber. At the other is the fine mat, as closely woven 
as a stout damask and quite as durable, the full dress 
of the taupou. 

It is a long task to weave a fine mat, nine feet 
square and every inch woven by hand. The materials 
must be sought with discriminating care, the cortex 
must be carefully peeled off the leaf and freed of every 
speck of leaf tissue, it must be diligently examined 
for minute faults, it must be slit with a thorn into 
threads of the same gauge of fineness. When all the 
material is ready, a house must be built for the work, 
for the growing mat must not be exposed to the ordi- 
nary domestic chances of an ordinary house. It is not 
on every day that a weaver may work, the day must 
be fine and fair or the weaving is a blemish. A woman 
works for years before she completes such a mat. By 
that time she has grown to prize it highly. Each fine 
mat has its name, each has its history, which recounts 
how it has passed along with the dowry of some 
famous taupou, or has been offered in the making of 
peace between rival war parties on the road of war. 
On occasions when the fine mat is brought out upon 
the green, it is saluted with the respect which would 



be paid to a chief, even the highest in rank stoop that 
it may be touched to their heads, which are a part of 
the body little short of sacred in Polynesian habits. 
Bystanders shout the praises of the fine mat; it is as 
fertile a theme for the poets as the kava ; they put no 
limit to the note of admiration : "Take it away," 
sings one, "it dazzles my eyes;" "it is brighter than 
the sunrise shining on the sea," sings another. A 
Samoan will make any sacrifice to keep the fine mats 
of his family ; it is the only safe pledge for money bor- 
rowed ; he will always come to redeem it. Held in 
such veneration as they are they rarely come on sale, 
when they do they frequently bring large sums, $50 
for a good specimen is a fair value on which to reckon. 

Other small wares are made of leaves and bark and 
small twigs. There is a large variety in the shapes 
and decoration of fans which are made for sale, as they 
have slight utility. The Samoan labors under the 
impression that the Papalangi civilization of all Euro- 
peans is based on a free use of the fan, which on the 
other hand they seldom employ. Enter a house, and 
its mistress rummages through her chest to find a 
gaudy fan. It is supposed to be the one thing which 
tourists really must buy ; the village of Laulii, a little 
way up the coast from Apia, has practically no other 
occupation than making fans for the steamer trade. 
The same materials are put to much more valuable 
uses when made up into baskets, of which there is a 
multitude of different patterns adapted to varying 
needs, all serviceable and many ornamental. 

The widest scope for decoration and color is af- 



forded by the siapo, which elsewhere in the Pacific is 
known as tapa, and which foreigners call native cloth. 
It is not a cloth in the strict sense, for it is not a 
product of the loom or the spinning wheel. In its 
fabrication it somewhat resembles papyrus ; the mate- 
rials are coarser. The material is the bast or inner 
bark of the tutuga, the Bronssonetia papyrifera of the 
botanists, a rapidly growing tree. While the saplings 
are yet slender they are cut and the bark peeled. 
These strips of bark are weighted down in a running 
stream and retted until the bast readily separates from 
the outer bark. The bast, while still wet, is laid out 
on a beating board, a trunk of a tree with its upper 
surface made smooth. On this table the bast is 
beaten with a special paddle or beater, square in sec- 
tion, each face marked with ridges graded from very 
coarse on the first face to correspondingly fine on the 
fourth. This beating spreads the fibrous material into 
a broad sheet as thin as tissue paper and about as 
strong. These sheets are spread on the grass to dry 
and at the same time to bleach in the sunlight. These 
tissues are the raw material out of which the cloth is 
made. The woman who does the work surrounds 
herself with a pile of the tissues, a forming board with 
a slightly curved surface, her shells full of pigment, 
and a piece of pasty arrowroot. Some siapos have 
the color rubbed in, this work is done when the tis- 
sues are being put together. Others are wholly com- 
pacted in the natural white and painted last of all, 
some combine both methods. If color is to be rubbed 
in as the siapo is making, there is a stencil employed, 



a mat on which the patterns are outlined with the 
wire-like midribs of cocoanut leaflets. This is tied on 
the forming board, a tissue is laid over it and rubbed 
with a lump of red earth in the same manner as a 
tracing is taken from a coin ; over this tissue the 
woman rubs the ball of arrowroot and then lays an- 
other tissue, which in turn is rubbed first with the 
color and then with the paste. Most siapos consist of 
five thicknesses of tissue ; for special purposes, where 
greater stiffness is a desideratum, many more tissues 
are employed. 

Painted siapos, far the more striking, are the prod- 
uct of correspondingly increased labor. For the com- 
mon marking of the siapos a lump of mineral color 
suffices, but for painting, it is necessary to prepare 
colors in oil, and they must be fast colors, for the cloth 
is likely to be caught out in torrential rains which test 
its color and construction. The principal color is a 
lustrous black. This is the soot of the burning nut of 
the candlenut, an ancient illuminant. The soot is 
mixed with cocoanut oil, and the fresh sap of the pani 
tree serves both as a mordant and dryer, beside im- 
parting to the black lustre a slight tint of red, which 
may be distinctly seen in a side light. The same 
mineral pigment, powdered and mixed with cocoanut 
oil and the mordant, provides the red shades, the 
leaves and young twigs of a species of fig provide 
a dull yellow. These are the three colors of the 
Samoan palette and serve for all uses. At the pres- 
ent day the general spread of cheap and fleeting dyes 
has enabled them to place on the steamer day market 


Painted siapos, far the more striking 


an assortment of siapos which copy with much accu- 
racy the prints from Manchester looms and in gay 
colors. In painting siapo the idea appears to have 
generally obtained of dividing the surface into squares, 
and of treating each square by itself as a block to be 
combined with other such blocks, like the squares on 
a checker board. The work was entirely freehand, 
the patterns geometrical and conventional. The artist 
is the woman who has beaten the bark and made the 
cloth, the brush is a pandanus nutlet shredded at the 
point to get at its fibre, the color is mixed in the uni- 
versal South Sea cup, the half of a cocoanut shell. 

The Samoan intelligence does not take kindly to 
innovations of any sort, a thing which can be done 
just as the fancy moves seems to them scarcely worth 
doing, the real things of life are governed by set rules 
and forms and ceremonies. There is much of this 
idea in all Samoan affairs ; it enters into art by con- 
ventionalizing design at all its stages, by defining for 
the highest form of art a single pattern which must 
not be varied from by so much as a line, and in which 
artistic success is won only by fidelity of the copyist. 
The highest point which art reaches in Samoa is to 
tattoo on every man a vestment from his waist to his 
knees, which he may never take off. 

The tattoo pattern is rigidly conventional, for every 
line there is a name and a legend. Those are things 
which the young man learns when he is undergoing 
the operation. When the artist is working on a line 
he teaches its name and what it stands for, esoteric 
information which qualifies a man for his position in 



society. One part of the pattern is called the ship, 
another the vampire, another the butterfly ; but if they 
had ever any resemblance to the objects from which 
they are named the conventionalizing has gone so far 
as to destroy every character which might lead to 
recognition. Some people have made themselves so 
proficient in tattooing that they can draw in the skin 
quite pretty pictures; the Samoans who practise the 
art are satisfied to be able to turn out each subject 
tattooed just like everybody else in a pattern which 
has nothing to recommend it but its antiquity. When 
one considers the number of square inches of skin 
embraced in the tattoo pattern, many of which are 
filled with solid blocks of pigment, and looks at the 
rude implements of the art, it is easy to recognize 
that here is an operation not without pain. In such a 
climate and with a people who have a disposition 
toward skin ailments, it is remarkable that blood 
poison does not follow the tattooing needle ; yet such 
is not the case, the only sequel is a shedding of the 
skin wherever the instrument has pricked the design. 
The implements are a set of finely pointed and sharp 
combs of bone affixed to a light wooden handle in the 
position of the blade and handle of a hoe. They range 
from a single sharp point, which is employed in turn- 
ing fine corners of the design, to sets of fifteen or 
twenty points in a row, which serve for the large 
masses of block work. Whatever be the instrument 
in use, the operator holds it by the handle in such a 
way that the points are a short distance above the 
skin of the patient. He strikes it lightly with a stick 



held in the right hand, and employs the fingers which 
grasp the handle to serve the purposes of a spring. 
The bone teeth are frequently dipped in the pigment, 
cocoanut oil and candlenut soot, and the accumula- 
tions of paint are wiped away as often as the artist 
needs to study out the pattern, which is never traced 
beforehand. An assistant keeps the skin stretched 
wherever the artist is working. At least two weeks 
are required for the completion of the operation, and 
none but very resolute men would have the hardihood 
to bear such large daily instalments of pain as that 
would involve. Women are often tattooed, with 
bracelets and stars and other light decorative designs, 
with the names of themselves and their children on the 
arm, but there is no conventional design which all 
must have. 

Jewelry is replaced by strings of shells and bright 
berries easily strung together when needed. Arm- 
lets are made of the tusks of the wild boar, and rings, 
pretty but fragile, are cut from plates of the large tur- 
tle of the sea. 




Although the Samoans are singular among the 
peoples of the Polynesian race in not being fairly 
entitled to the name of Navigators, which their French 
discoverer mistakenly conferred upon them, yet it 
must not be inferred that they are not seafarers. They 
are almost to be classed as amphibious, so much at 
home are they in and on the sea. They swim before 
they walk, they have to learn locomotion on land, 
swimming seems to come by instinct. In their small 
canoes they voyage from island to island across the 
wide straits of the archipelago, no wind is too tem- 
pestuous for them to venture out in it, no sea so high 
as to block the way of their canoes. With fewer 
exceptions than can be told off on the fingers of one 
hand, their villages are built on the beaches ; part of 
the furnishing of every house is its store of paddles 
for propelling the canoe, which is drawn above the 
tide upon the beach ready for instant launching. 
Every community has its village boat, a large craft 
with benches for twenty, thirty, forty oars, and many 
masts for sails to use in running with the wind. Much 
of the common food comes from the sea, fish, mol- 
luscs, cuttlefishes, urchins, even one glorious gorge 



in the whole year, the palolo worm. All Samoans>are 
swimmers, are fishers, are sailors ; they fall short of 
being the navigators which Bougainville thought 
them only in that their voyages are confined to their 
own archipelago. 

Yet in a sense they have gone abroad and visited 
other archipelagoes of the South Sea. Where their 
congeners have legends of adventurous voyages in 
large canoes over leagues of empty ocean, the Samoan 
has tales of long distance swimmers. They tell of 
twin girls, united back to back, who swam the whole 
south coast of Upolu and across the straits, and came 
to land near Pago Pago in Tutuila, from there to Fiji, 
and from Fiji back home to Manono. There are no 
such swimmers in these degenerate days, yet within 
more reasonable limits than the swimming of a tract of 
ocean over which the inter-island steamers take three 
days, within the ordinary limits of a man's endurance 
they are tireless swimmers. It is well attested that 
they have swum a dozen or fifteen miles in a day, 
taking for support on the journey no more than a 
single cocoanut, which holds" a supply both of food 
and drink. They do not swim after the methods 
taught in schools. Theirs is a natural stroke, such as 
is used by all quadrupeds whose bodies balance in 
water much as the human body floats. It may be 
called a dog paddle by those who look upon swimming 
as an art to be acquired, and have never had the 
chance to see that the motions with which an infant 
creeps before it walks are the motions of natural 
swimming. It is by creeping that South Sea babies 



learn to swim unaided. They creep down warm sand 
beaches to the line which parts the shore from the 
warm sea. An adventurous push forward, the wash 
of some tiny wavelet, and the small human thing is at 
home in its ocean element. Practising only this in- 
stinctive paddle stroke, they are brave and fearless 
swimmers. Had it not been so, there would have 
been a longer roll of drowned sailors in the great 
Apia gale, for it was Samoan watercraft which pitted 
itself against the fury of the tempest and seized the 
drowning from the clutch of the raging sea. 

The most venerable antiquity attaches to the model 
and the lines of the Samoan canoe, single or double, 
which is also the type of every Polynesian vessel. 
Between one and another archipelago there may be 
slight variations in unimportant particulars not af- 
fecting the sailing qualities of the vessel, but in gen- 
eral, the Samoan canoes show the sum of all naval 
architecture of the Pacific islands. All varieties fall 
within two main divisions, the double-hulled canoe or 
catamaran type, and the outrigger type of single 
canoe. In the Samoa of to-day the massive double 
canoe has all but vanished, a solitary specimen hauled 
on a Savaii beach, to go into decay and never more be 
used, is all that is left of the alia or great catamaran 
of the war fleet. Its two hulls were built up of planks 
without ribs, they were braced apart with struts and 
beams lashed and sewed together ; the absence of the 
nail or spike, which characterizes all Samoan carpen- 
try, gave them the flexibility in every part which a 
catamaran needs in a sea way. But the alia was not 



easy to build, its bulk was too great for many pass- 
ages in the reefs, its draft was disproportionately 
great, and it could not stand comparison with foreign 
boats of an equal passenger capacity. That doomed 
the catamaran ; white men were employed to build 
boats for one Samoan community after another ; now 
the half-castes are the boat builders of the commun- 
ity, and find themselves occupied with abundance of 

Of the outrigger canoes which now form the navy 
of the land, and which must always have largely out- 
numbered the catamarans, there are again two classes. 
The larger and more seaworthy of the canoes is a 
composite vessel, the great majority of the canoes are 
of the periagua type. These are the canoes which 
are most often seen, in the neighborhood of Apia 
there is none other. 

But when these small vessels are spoken of as dug- 
outs, the expression is used in the sense in which it is 
employed in naval architecture, and with no deroga- 
tory suggestion. Though the hull is indeed dug out 
of a single log of wood, it is none the less molded on 
lines of quite as much grace as utility. The bow is 
perpendicular, sharp as a blade, tipped with an orna- 
mental horn like a rudimentary bowsprit. From the 
sharp bow the lines flow with very clever appreciation 
of fluid resistances and merge in the general width of 
the hull ; from this the lines fine sharply back and 
upward to the stern. This hull is the product of long 
experience ; the designer has had to consider the need 
of a sharp and fine bow entrance, but at the stern he 



has had a double problem, which has been success- 
fully met. One point has been the usual one of avoid- 
ing the drag of dead water in the run. The other 
arises from a peculiarity of island navigation. In 
many cases it is necessary to depend for propulsion 
on the send of a following sea, in cases where it would 
be impossible to use the paddle ; this is a frequent 
contingency in many narrow and tortuous passages 
in the sea reefs, and is frequent also when it is obliga- 
tory on the sailor, in the absence of any pass, to jump 
a boiling reef in the very spray of the breakers. This 
frequent requirement has had much to do with mold- 
ing the stern of the Samoan canoe and fitting it to the 
conditions of its use. Although the hull is always 
associated with an outrigger, there is no flattening of 
the lines on the outrigger side, in every Samoan 
canoe or catamaran the hulls are symmetrical with 
reference to their lengthwise axis. 

The outrigger of the Samoan canoe consists of 
three distinct parts, therein differing from that of 
Hawaii and other archipelagoes which have but two. 
Two outboard braces are lashed over the gunwales of 
the hull, straight pieces of wood instead of the curved 
beams elsewhere employed. The beam of the out- 
rigger in the water is a log sharpened to a point at 
one end, the bow. This is adjusted to be on the 
level of the keel of the boat, its bow is opposite the 
bow of the hull, its after end stops just behind the rear 
brace, which is at the point where the sharp tapering 
of the stern begins. Between the braces and the out- 
rigger trunk are inserted small rods, which take the 








strain of the lashing of plaited cocoanut fibre, which 
hold the larger parts together. This outrigger is 
always on the left hand side of the canoe, and the 
space between is commonly four feet. The braces 
where they cross the hull serve as thwarts for the 
paddlers, who sit facing forward, and paddle first on 
one side and then the other. The outrigger always 
causes a drag to one side, which must be corrected. 
This is partly accomplished by varying the angle of 
the paddle blade with the hull of the vessel when pad- 
dling on the right hand side, and when it becomes too 
great to be thus remedied, the paddle is changed for 
a few strokes to the outrigger side. When two pad- 
dlers are engaged together, the one in the rear is 
charged with the duty of steering; when there is but 
a solitary paddler, he sits on the rear thwart. These 
canoes are very crank despite the outrigger ; they hold 
up well enough so long as the inclination is toward 
the right, but it does not take much to capsize them 
when the outrigger once gets under water; when 
they do go over there is a great chance that the occu- 
pants will be sharply hit by the outrigger coming up 
on the other side. They are righted without diffi- 
culty, and cleared of water by a very simple maneuver. 
The crew swim alongside the righted canoe and move 
it rapidly backward and forward, with a short stop at 
the end of each motion ; the water contained in the 
hollowed hull hits the end of the excavation with a 
rush, and by a peculiarity of the internal shape is sent 
in a considerable stream overboard ; it requires but 
a r ew moments to get rid of the water by this process. 



The size of these dug-out canoes, which are known 
as paopao, is limited only by the size of the original 
log and the convenience with which it may be handled 
in the construction, they are seldom seen large 
enough to accommodate more than two paddlers. 
When a vessel of a larger size is needed, recourse is 
had to the tafanga, a canoe of the same outrigger 
type, but of which the hull is built up of planks 
stitched together with cocoanut fibre in a plaited cord, 
and having the seams paid with the gum of the bread- 
fruit tree. The planks are pieces of wood of irregular 
shapes, varying for different parts of the hull ; they 
are uniformly hewn out of the solid block of timber, 
and have all around the edge on the inner side a rim 
or shoulder rising at least an inch above the general 
surface, which serves both as a brace and as a frame 
for the stitching. Such canoes are often of consider- 
able size and accommodate many paddlers and pas- 

The fishing industry is conditioned by the nature 
of the immediate sea. If a town lies on the beach 
of a lagoon, where a reef at a distance from shore 
holds back the heavy swells of the ocean and pro- 
vides an expanse of still and shallow water, the de- 
vices for fishing are many and varied. At low tide 
the women and girls may be seen wading across the 
shallows and hunting in the tangled beds of flowering 
coral for the prickly sea urchins, the trepang, and 
other sea cucumbers, and a great leathery naked mol- 
lusc, which are favorite articles of food. When the 
tide is low at night, they conduct the search with 



torches of dry cocoanut leaflets and the hard spathes 
of the blossoms of the same useful tree ; the fish, which 
are attracted by the light, are then easily speared or 
netted. On still, dark nights the scene is most pic- 
turesque, with the waving lines of torches seemingly 
far out in the ocean, and the light quivering in long 
lines upon the wave surface. 

At high tide the men take canoes and follow the 
feeding schools of fish, watchful to see the leaping of 
the prized mullet or the still more toothsome malauli, 
pressing in upon them with a large net mounted on a 
forking stick and so heavy that only men of strength 
can direct the cast. Others follow the high tide wave 
along the beach and kill fish of the same sorts by dart- 
ing the spear at them as they come close along the 
beach, an operation which calls for much skill. 
Women with small hand nets form a ring about some 
well-known feeding ground and contract their line 
about the leaping fish, some are caught as they try 
to jump over the shouting crowd, others remain and 
are meshed in the nets. Longer and larger nets are 
set in narrow passages between the hedges of the 
coral, and the fish are driven into the snare ; men and 
boys crowd the water, beating stones beneath the sur- 
face or slapping the waves with long poles. Set lines 
are common, traps like huge demijohns without the 
glass are placed in the crannies of the reef. Fish are 
abundant and form a large portion of the diet. In 
fact island custom, which refuses to eat only one kind 
of r ood at a time and demands variety, requires some- 
thing from the sea with every meal. A song of feast- 



ing describes the good viands, the bread-fruit plucked 
from the highest branches and bedewed with the 
drops of its gum, the bundles of taro pounded into 
a custard with cocoanut water ; yet the Samoan poet 
is not content, he grumbles that there are only things 
from the shore and nothing from the sea, he is not 
content until they cut open a trepang and lay it on 
the leaf before him, which is his plate. 

Where there is no reef, and therefore no lagoon, 
there is no opportunity for all this variety in fish tak- 
ing. Then it is necessary to rely on the hook. The 
Samoan hook is effective. It is always made of shell, 
and differs slightly according as it is intended for 
large or for small fish. For the small fish the shell 
is cut an inch square and is drilled with a hole near 
the bottom, through which an unbarbed thorn is 
passed and firmly lashed in place. Theoretically, a 
hook without a barb should meet with fishermen's 
scorn ; practically, it holds most of the fish which 
take it. The finest fishing of all in the Samoan idea, 
and it is amply borne out by the experience, is the 
chase of the bonito in the deep waters. To be suc- 
cessful in this angling means that one must begin far 
back and be right in every step which leads up to the 
result. Ill luck, fisherman's luck, is a thing fully com- 
prehended in the heart of the South Sea, the worst of 
ill luck may be injected into a canoe when its planks 
are being hewn out far up in the jungle. One tree is 
good, another tree is fatal to all fishing, some planks 
must be cut when the moon is waxing, others will 
drive away the fish unless the axe enters the log on 



the waning moon. There are a dozen ways of as- 
suring bad luck in the making of the hook. The 
hook is a handsome thing. Its shank is a heavy strip 
of pearl shell, which is dull black on the outside and 
shades into brilliant pearly lustre on the inner curve. 
The barb is carefully carved out of bright pearl shell 
and is stoutly lashed to the shank with fibre of cocoa- 
nut husks, which will stand any amount of wetting 
with salt water, yet take no harm. It is tricked out 
with a tassel of gay colored fibre and leaves to at- 
tract the great fish. In Samoan eyes the bonito is a 
gentleman ; he has a language of courtesy even as 
chiefs have, none but gentlemen might fish for him, 
his flesh was forbidden to the common man. 

In connection with Samoan canoecraft may be men- 
tioned the surf riding. In this archipelago there are 
none of the surf boards which the Hawaiians employ 
in their sport of hccnaht, but the Samoan does quite 
as well with his canoe, which he manages to place 
just in front of the combing crest of some great roller 
and comes dashing shoreward with tremendous speed 
and loud shouts of "U-hu-hu," which is the only in- 
stance of the use of the aspirate in the language. 
Here also may be mentioned the chance of accident 
in their trips across the straits, accidents which may 
have had somewhat to do with the peopling of the 
Pacific with a homogeneous race. In 1897 a foreign- 
built Samoan boat carrying some thirty men, women 
and children, started from Tutuila to go to Manu'a. 
The wind varied from its usual direction, they had no 
compass, they failed to sight their destination. Pro- 



visioned only for a trip of sixty miles, they were blown 
out on the broad Pacific with no means of directing 
their course. They were adrift for three weeks be- 
fore the wind brought them to a distant land far to 
the north. The details are too ghastly to dwell on, 
they were eight when they came to shore, two more 
died after landing at Apia, to which they were brought 
by the London Mission yacht John Williams, which 
had encountered the castaways in its regular round of 
the islands. 




If you can picture in imagination the spectacle of 
the camel threading the eye of the needle with the 
speed of the swiftest of all express trains, you may 
get some idea of what it looks like to pass from the 
ocean into the still lagoon of Apolima, the most beau- 
tiful island in Samoa, and by long odds the most pic- 
turesque of all spots chosen for human habitation any- 
where in the wide world. If you can imagine the 
feelings of the same camel as he finds himself shot at 
the needle's eye at the rate of a mile a minute, and 
suddenly makes the discovery that the eye has in it 
a cast on which he is in deadly danger of being hurled, 
you may then know how it feels to shoot the narrow 
and tortuous pass through bristling coral jaws which 
is the only access to Apolima. 

Apolima is worth the seeing. To have missed it is 
to be blind to one of the natural wonders of the world. 
It stands alone in a class alone. Apolima is a case 
of false pretenses. About midway between the two 
larger islands it rises from abysmal depths in the 
strait which parts Upolu and Savaii. Its nearest 
neighbor, the level island of Manono, lies within a 
guarding ring of coral, its beach is a continuous 
strip of glistening sand inviting the voyager to land 
ar d stroll at will through the vistas of forest and plan- 



tation. But about the island of Apolima the diminu- 
tive industry of the coral has reared no massive break- 
water, the ocean rolls in an unbroken sweep against 
smooth and shining cliffs. At the bottom is the 
wild tumult of the sea, thence rises the precipice unre- 
lieved by even so much as a clinging fern, then over 
the summit of the cliffs high in air a glimpse of wav- 
ing tops of trees as a sign that this island of the straits 
is not the desolate crag it appears from sea. One 
may make the circuit, the diameter of the whole island 
is scarcely more than a mile, and nowhere is there 
anything to be seen but the frowning wall of volcanic 
rock, black and red, everywhere beaten by thundering 
waves. There is but one exception, there is a single 
opening in the outer wall, one peep-hole frames a 
most charming picture of tropical luxuriance, one nar- 
row gap entices the voyager to risk the jagged perils 
which beset the path, and to enter in to enjoy the 
wonderful scene which meets his gaze. 

The island clearly began its existence as a volcanic 
cone thrust up through the sea in some great com- 
motion of the mighty powers under the rind of the 
earth. When it was an active vent of the internal 
fires cannot now be estimated, but in the obscurity 
of a Samoan legend there is a statement that it was 
not always in these straits. So far as it is possible to 
read its history in the exposed rock faces, the volcano 
could not have been at work very long before its final 
catastrophe, wdiich quite spoiled it as a volcano, but 
transformed it into a marvelous home, such as no- 
where else houses man. From the rock walls can 



be seen what happened. The small volcano, newly 
extruded from the sea, was probably resting after its 
first activity, a cone containing a lake of fire not much 
above sea level. Through some seam, which opened 
as the walls of the crater cracked in cooling, the ocean 
found its way inward. A sudden puff of steam, the 
flight of a mass of rock through the air, boundless 
hissing and explosion, and the water had put out the 
fire forever, and left the cooling island like a bowl 
with a piece broken out of one side. That seems to 
be the explanation of the events which produced the 
island, for after the first wonder of the novel place 
passes off the question is sure to arise as to what did 
it all. 

The gateway to Apolima is broken out of its north- 
ern wall. A dangerous cluster of rocks about 200 
feet seaward shows where the lava flowed out from 
the riven crater and the shattered fragments of the 
wall found an off-shore lodgment. Between the cliffs, 
as measured at the sea level, the whole gap is not 
300 feet wide, the slope upward to the summit level 
of the broken wall is very steep, and at that high level 
the gap is probably not more than twice as wide as 
at tide level. When one passes inshore of the outlying 
ledge of rocks, the beauty of Apolima springs sud- 
denly on the sight, so suddenly as to seem almost an 
illusion. Then one recognizes the fitness of the name 
which the Samoans have given to the island, for Apo- 
lima means "the hollow of the hand," and carries with 
it the idea of protection, a place of refuge. 

The promise extended by the treetops peering over 



the bare outer walls of rock is fulfilled in the richest 
measure as soon as the view of the interior breaks 
upon the sight. The inner face of the crater wall is 
almost as steep and bluff as the seaward aspect, but 
it would never be suspected under the mantle of living 
green with which ferns, bushes and even trees have 
clothed it, clinging to every spot in which the disin- 
tegrating lava has made a pocket of fertile soil. 
Walled in by this amphitheater, the bottom of the 
crater is a tiny plain, covered with vegetation, stretch- 
ing down to the waters of a wee lagoon just within 
the dangerous gateway to the island. Beneath the 
waving leaves of the cocoanuts is seen a small ham- 
let of a dozen or fifteen houses for the accommoda- 
tion of as many families, for the restricted territory 
will afford support for no more. Outside their gate- 
way the ocean is forever in turmoil, yet there is never 
a ripple on the placid surface of their little lagoon. 
The fury of the gale may beat on their outer walls, 
they do not even know that there is a tempest, for 
the wind can neither enter nor dip down into their 
calm atmosphere. They live in unbroken peace, 
while the baffled gale passes harmlessly overhead, 500 
feet away. In centuries of constant bickerings, the 
fleets of war canoes have swept across their straits 
and past their very doors, yet Apolima is still a maiden 
fortress. The dozen spears they muster have proved 
enough to hold off every enemy who has attempted 
entrance in the brief and uncertain periods when 
entrance is possible, for at other times the sea locks 
the place against all comers and against all goers. 



To visit Apolima one must employ the usual vehicle 
of Samoan travel, an open row boat. In these small 
and open craft the trader and the tourist alike put 
out upon the very ocean itself for trips from place to 
place on each island, and for the more venturesome 
voyage across the straits to other islands of the archi- 
pelago. Exposed to the sun and the frequent down- 
pours of the rain, thrown about by the heaving of 
the sea, and not infrequently deluged with the crest 
of some lopping wave, such voyaging can never be 
comfortable. It is safe enough, however, for the Sa- 
moans are good boatmen even though they do have 
the terrifying custom of steering as close as possible 
to the combing edge of the huge breakers which 
sweep like resistless cavalry charges upon the reefs 
or crags of the shore. When you go to windward 
your reliance is on the strength of the boatmen, who 
tug at the oars for incessant hours without wearying. 
To leeward you have the swifter and more comfort- 
able voyage with a scrap of sail. That's all of the 
sense of direction you need in the islands. For all 
practical purposes the compass is not needed. The 
four cardinal points are windward and leeward, sea- 
ward and inland ; this simple equivalent of boxing the 
compass is contained in the Samoan jingle, which 
your boatmen will insist on your learning, 


Still, if you have your boat and a good crew, and 



keep the little verse steadily in mind, not even then 
are you at all sure of seeing Apolima when you set 
out to see it. The first part of the voyage is all plain 
sailing. From Apia you run down to west and lee- 
ward in the still lagoon of shallow water inside the 
barrier reef. You must make your start when it is close 
to high water, for the lagoon is shallow. Just back of 
Mulinu'u Point, where formerly the Samoan Govern- 
ment sat all day and wondered what it was there for, 
there is a broad sand bank. A few miles further along 
is a sad tangle of rocks, and to get past these difficul- 
ties the tide must be high. But once past the rocks of 
Faleula, the lagoon is a fairway, and there is nothing 
to check the swift run before the wind down to Muli- 
fanua, the end of the island of Upolu. In every small 
bay which opens on the sight as you go whizzing 
from one headland to the next, a Samoan town is to 
be seen under the groves of cocoanuts which fringe 
the glittering beach. Almost at the end of the island 
are the clustered structures of the largest of the Ger- 
man plantations. Just past this station the channel 
setting close in shore gives opportunity to see the 
ruins of some mammoth erections of stone and earth, 
of which the history has been lost in the mists of Sa- 
moan tradition. Here the lagoon widens out to in- 
clude the island of Manono, for which the boat mast 
head on its way out. Here one must halt to ask of 
the people as to the chance of entering the sister in- 
let, which lies a few miles outside the still waters of 
the lagoon. Generally they can tell in Manono by 
the look of the sea breaking on a certain portion of 



their reef whether the Apolima pass is practicable. 
If their judgment is adverse you halt at Manono and 
wait for a better opportunity. They can always tell 
you surely if the pass is impracticable. They are by 
no means so certain when it may be run. As to that 
you have to take your chances. 

After leaving Manono you are quite at sea ; there 
is no reef to still the stretch of water, the angle at 
which Savaii and Upolu lie with respect to one an- 
other creates a sort of funnel to direct the sea into the 
ten-mile strait and to magnify the waves. Here you 
must take your chances on adjusting the physical 
system to the peculiar combination of squirm and 
wriggle, which is the motion of a small boat perched 
on the crest of the high sea waves, varied only by 
dizzy slides down water-sloped and painful climbing 
up shifting hills. After some two miles of this sort 
of sailing you draw close alongside the rocky outer 
walls of Apolima, and the boat boys feel happy to be 
able to skirt the sea-beaten cliffs right in the highest 
swell of the outer line of breakers. Their choice in 
this matter is responsible for. the intimate acquaint- 
ance you gain of the rock conformation of the outer 
face of the island. In a dull sort of despair you try 
to pick out the one particular spot on which you are 
about to be dashed in water-torn pieces. While you 
are making this round you are sorry you came, it 
really seems scarcely worth the while to undergo the 
discomfort of coming so far only to be broken and 
drowned on a face of rock which nowhere offers even 
a crack in which the fingers might take a last hold on 



life. A little more of the circuit and you see the out- 
lying barrier of the gate of the island and a slim 
path of watery tumult between the surf ashore and 
the surf just a little way out in the sea. Into this 
tumult you steer in a state of mental desperation as to 
which you are very honest in the confession that you 
really wish you had been content to trust to the pic- 
tures of the place. All at once the gateway opens in 
plain sight before you ; you can feast your eyes on the 
marvelous beauty of such a landscape as is to be found 
nowhere else in the world, you pluck up courage and 
are now as anxious to get in and see more, as but a 
moment ago you were wishing you were well out of it. 
Despite your access of courage, the most difficult 
part lies before you. Up to this you have been in 
discomfort, now you will have to take your chances 
of a very real danger. There is plenty of time to 
consider all the details of the peril, and the more those 
details are looked upon the more distinct do they 
become in every item of frowning rock and gnashing 
tusk of coral. The first thing is to find the one spot in 
the world between the open gateway of the passage 
and the smother of surf on the reef outside, in which 
the boat can be kept still. There you must wait the 
leisurely movements of the villagers of the island, who 
will make signals as to whether it is possible to come 
in, a matter which it is almost impossible to determine 
from the outside aspect of the passage. If their sig- 
nals are favorable, they will launch their canoes and 
cross their own duck pond of a lagoon to take posi- 
tions on the rocky jaws of their island's gateway, to 



be in a position to give help, for there is always a 
bright prospect that help will be needed. There is 
presented a sharp contrast. Outside the gate your 
crew are rowing with long, steady strokes, merely to 
keep the boat in one place, in a smooth eddy of foam 
and whirling suds within a wild jabble of waves ; as 
you are lifted from the depths high into the air you 
look down upon the canoes on the lagoon within 
moving as smoothly as paper boats of children in a 
tub of water. 

Between the tumult and the peace is a narrow and 
a crooked passage between the rocks, through which 
you must make your way. It can be done only on 
the last two hours of the flood tide ; even then it is 
always dangerous, from outside it seems an impossi- 
bility. As each wave recedes it lays bare the whole 
stretch of the rocky barrier, and discloses the twists 
of the narrow passage between lagoon and raging sea. 
This barrier is only fifty feet across, that is, from the 
sea to the still waters beyond. When the wave re- 
cedes the channel is seen to be no more than eight or 
ten feet wide, and partially blocked in places by coral 
formations. Through this lane, where there is not 
room for oars, it is necessary to run with the utmost 
precision of fine steering, and the crew will seldom 
intrust that part of the operation to any white man 
unless they have learned that he is skilled in the quick 
handling of small boats. Only a few white women 
have ventured to shoot the passage, and certainly 
none has been allowed to handle the rudder at the 
critical moment, for the lives of all depend on the 



man at the helm. As the pass is far too narrow for 
cars, and as they would anyway be useless in the mag- 
nificent velocity of the wave stream, the sea is relied 
on to furnish the motive power. The boat is kept 
in the smother of the eddy under the off shore ledge 
of rock while the crew and helmsman watch intently 
the way in which the sea breaks on and over that 
barrier. Sea after sea passes by and tumbles into 
banks of fine spray on the threshold of the island gate. 
Not one of those seas has promised to carry the boat 
through in safety. At last a higher roller is seen to 
rear itself far out beyond the outer barrier, and to 
come rolling shoreward with a magnificent stretch 
of perpendicular face. All are intent upon its prog- 
ress as it sweeps grandly inward with ever accelerat- 
ing velocity, for it may prove the wave so long waited 
for. If it is seen to pass unbroken over a pinnacle 
outlying in front of the main ledge by a small inter- 
val, it is known that that is indeed the wave to use. 
As its wall face sweeps on the boat is rowed shore- 
ward out of the eddy, the oarsmen put then their 
every pound of muscle and courage into the oars as 
they back water into the very cliff of water which is 
swooping down upon the boat. There is the thump 
of wood and water as the wave hits the stern of the 
boat and begins to heave it in the air. The crew pull 
now like men possessed, for the few boat lengths 
which intervene they must keep the boat on the ad- 
vancing face of the giant wave. The speed is some- 
thing terrific, the prospect is something appalling to 
view from the lifting stern of the boat, coasting with 



tremendous velocity down the steep slope of a hill of 
water, which is itself careering onward with far more 
than the speed of a railroad train. Just in front lies 
the wall of the gateway, dripping yet with the foam 
of the last wave, tense figures of the islanders clinging 
to the rocks in readiness to reach out into the com- 
motion and snatch the shipwrecked from drowning 
in case of disaster. With a last struggling effort the 
crew bend to the oars and draw them inboard and out 
of the way of the rocks between which the boat must 
pass without a check, for even the slightest check 
would mean prompt destruction. The ears are deaf- 
ened with the roar of the breaking of the tons of water 
on the rock, the eyes are all but blinded with the salt 
cloud of mist into which the water is hammered by 
the impact. The boat must be just one single instant 
ahead of that thunder and that breaking of the water, 
it must be headed exactly into the narrow rift in the 
rock just a foot before the crest of the propelling 
wave shatters over upon the immovable obstacle. 
Then as the water boils into the constricted channel 
it seizes on the boat and hurls it onward until it seems 
that the might of giants would not avail to direct it 
away from the fangs of rock and coral which beset 
the way. But answering the steering oar the boat is 
directed through those fifty dangerous feet, avoiding 
a danger on the right only to be confronted by an- 
other on the left, sliding past rocky perils with so 
close a margin that it looks as if a sheet of paper 
would be torn to rags between the boat and the rock. 
With every minute fraction of an instant the still 



lagoon is nearer. Still the peril is not yet past. Just 
as the boat clears the walls of rock and is on the very 
instant of passing in and floating peacefully on quiet 
waters, the boys throw out the oars and pull as hard 
as ever. With all their strength they can do no more 
than keep the stern of the boat just barely clear of 
the channel out of which on its inner side it has just 
escaped, into which the outward rush of the waters 
is seeking to drag it. There by dint of hard rowing 
the boat just succeeds in standing still until the efflux 
is past, and the turn of the waters with the startling 
advance of the next incoming breaker allows of escape 
into the lagoon. Then, as the crew, exhausted by the 
excitement, takes leisurely strokes across the smooth 
water, and to the landing place, the Apolima people 
set up a shout of welcome to those who have ad- 
ventured so much to see the island. 

They gather around and proffer that hospitality for 
which they expect so generous a reward ; they ask 
the crew whether the lady was frightened when the 
boat came through the pass, and when they get the 
answer that she was courageous they turn to congratu- 
lations and say how very few ladies have ever vent- 
ured on that trip, and how it often happens with white 
men who have come through the gap that they were 
too weak to take a step for a long time afterward. 

Such is the getting into Apolima. The getting 
out is even harder, for, as the boat is sucked out 
through the narrow channel, it meets just outside an 
incoming wave, up which the crew must row hard in 
order to get on the seaward face in time and slide 



down hill before it begins to break. It can be done 
only on the first two hours of the ebb tide, seldom is 
it possible to go in and to come out on the same day ; 
often visitors are held for a week at a time waiting 
the chance to get out. 




In the Vaiala reef there is in particular one pool 
that attracted me from its first discovery. It is easy to 
find, for the bearings are plain. Stand on the beach 
in front of the American Consulate, set your back 
against the tall flagstaff and wait until the one clear 
spot in the outer fringe of breakers shows the false 
passage which has more than once been mistaken for 
the entrance to Apia harbor, a mistake which even a 
rowboat cannot afford to make. Then wade out in 
the warm water of the lagoon along that line, and 
about two-thirds of the way to the barrier reef the 
pool will be found ; in fact it is the first really deep 

My first experience with it was accidental. Wading 
at first, and then swimming when the coral would 
permit, I suddenly found myself floating where the 
water was thirty feet deep. It was as clear as crystal, 
blue as the cornflower, and my downward gaze saw 
every detail on the white sandy bottom and on the 
coral walls. 

I swam across the pool and took a position where 
I could study its details. 

Experience alone can yield any faintest conception 
of the marvelous beauties of these pools in South 



Sea reefs ; mere words of description would seem 
turgid, and no one would venture to put on canvas 
the brilliant colors which alone could do justice to the 
oceanic garden. The corals are covered with vivid 
colors such as the rainbow alone can match, the tip 
of every stony spray and twig in this submarine shrub- 
bery is as gay as the brightest flowers in longshore 
gardens, and the gentle flow of the water gives them 
a semblance of motion such as they would possess if 
they were really plants instead of stalks of solid lime- 
stone that cut and tear whatever is dashed upon them. 
In and out among the trunks and branches, the water 
seeming almost a sort of atmosphere, fly schools of 
painted fish, which in their thousand hues rival the 
brightest birds and butterflies of the upper air. 

It was the fish that most attracted me in this pool. 
I had become familiar with the bright colors and odd 
shapes of these denizens of the tropical sea, but never 
before had I seen fish exactly like these, which seemed 
to have a monopoly of this basin, and I seldom saw 
them elsewhere in the same waters, and then only 
singly and not in schools as they were here. The 
pool was about sixty feet in diameter and roughly 
circular in its outline. Of just how many of these 
fish were in it I should hesitate to express an opinion, 
but there were at least half a dozen distinct schools, 
and in each school were many individuals. They 
were shaped like the mackerel, almost uniformly less 
than a foot in length, in color a brilliant violet, with a 
quieter shade down the backbone and on the fins 
and tail, which were a dull drab ; gill covers, bright 



scarlet, the same color appearing on the rays of the 
fins and in a series of smoothly circular spots along 
the median line of each side, graded from one as large 
as a cent just behind the gills to a mere pin head at 
the tail. 

The name of the fish I never learned. We have 
no museums or works of ichthyological reference in 
Samoa to help me out. I described the fish with 
painstaking accuracy of detail to Tanoa when I re- 
turned to shore, but his only reply was that he did not 
know it. Then I made him wade out with me to the 
pool, and gave him an exhibition of the living ani- 
mals. He looked with much care at them, then he 
soused his head into the pool to get a better view 
under the surface. When he came dripping to the 
surface he gravely pronounced that they were "i'a sa," 
which meant no more than that they were fish tabooed 
for the benefit of the chiefs, and that he was not 
high enough in rank to know anything about them. 
I fear that this was a vain delusion, for the density 
of the ordinary Samoan ignorance on the most com- 
mon questions of natural history is seldom illumined 
by a single ray of comprehension. 

Not satisfied with Tanoa's general ignorance or 
content with the mere looking at this living picture 
of one of tropical nature's own aquaria, I could not 
rest until I had caught some of the fish themselves. 
The first day was confined to observation. I waited 
until the alarm of the school at my sudden and terri- 
fying appearance in their zenith had subsided, then 
worked around to a stem of coral on which I could 



rest without casting a shadow into the pool. From 
this inconvenient perch I watched them feeding with 
an eye to learning what bait would most attract them. 
In waters so crowded with animal life of the lower 
orders, it was by no means easy to see just what these 
gaudy violet and scarlet fish were feeding on. Clearly 
they were not bottom feeders, for each of the schools 
was hovering in the middle depth, never sinking to 
the sands, and only rarely making rapid dashes to 
the surface; it was equally clear that they did not 
feed on the corals, and in general it seems that the 
coral pulp is displeasing to all the South Sea fish, al- 
though the crustaceans find much of their sustenance 
in the living tissue of the reef-forming corals. So 
far as I could observe the food of these fish, it seemed 
to be the small jelly fish and the zoea stage of the 
crustaceans. It was observed that all the feeding 
was done from below upward ; no amount of food be- 
low the school attracted any attention, but anything 
above the school was followed upward to the surface 
or until the animals dodged below their finny pur- 
suers and there found immediate safety. Later on I 
found that there was an anatomical reason for this 
upward feeding. Under each eye was a ridge or 
shelf of hard bone or cartilage which served as a 
blinder to cut off all the view downward — in fact, the 
fish could not look over their lower eyelids, and were 
necessarily blind to all that was going on in depths 
below them. In addition to the purely marine food 
supply any small bright insect that floated on the 
surface caused a wild rush of all the fish, and in most 



cases the insect, unless it was one of the hard-shelled 
beetles, was snapped up. 

This seemed to give me all the necessary informa- 
tion as to the taking of violet fish with scarlet trim- 
mings, even though they were held under a taboo for 
the high chiefs, for I had my own opinions as to the 
relative rank of coffee-colored magnificences and the 
American woman — in fact, the best was not a whit 
too good for me if only I could catch it. This may 
not be altogether in harmony with the general official 
instructions that my husband had received to pay 
strict attention to native ideas of rank and the pomp 
of circumstance so long as they did not affect our for- 
eign relations, but the diplomacy does not exist which 
shall interfere with the rights and privileges of the 
American woman who would go fishing. Tanoa had 
instructions to collect a bait can full of young jelly 
fish and another of the zoea stage of the crustaceans. 
My own task was to whip up a few flies that 
should suggest the gorgeous brilliancy of the 
native butterflies. It was not difficult to get the 
materials — a stone thrown with the skilled aim of 
any Samoan boy would bring out of the leafy coronet 
of the nearest cocoanut palm a native parrot, gay 
with all the shades of red and blue and green that one 
could desire. My supply of crewels furnished all the 
rest of the chromatic scale, and a good long dip in 
cocoanut oil would fix the silks so that the contact 
of the salt water would not change their colors or 
soak them into a soggy tangle. Furthermore, Sa- 
moan experience argues that the cocoanut oil is a 



good lure in itself for the fish of the islands. My 
lightest rod and strong silk line completed the equip- 
ment. For the rest I needed no more than my 
bathing suit, for in the neighborhood of the reef bar- 
rier there was no telling when some larger wave might 
leap over the coral wall and set me afloat. To my 
preparations I added a much worn camp stool, for 
the coral is not a comfortable seat, and I preferred to 
take no chances. 

I must record that all these preparations were in 
vain. I tried the rainbow fish with jelly fish and with 
young crustaceans. The bait was attractive enough 
to the rainbow fish. As soon as it reached the water, 
they rushed for it immediately, but they were wise 
enough to see the hook, and with a derisive whisk 
of their tails they shoved the lure away and returned 
to something less dangerous. When I found that 
this was useless, I tried chumming. The fish gobbled 
up the bait as it sank through the water, and the little 
that did reach the sands was without effect, for chum- 
ming can never be of any good with fish that have 
brackets under their eyes which cut off the view down- 

Next I tried my gorgeous flies. It is not a little 
hard to cast under the steady blast of the trade wind, 
but I felt that I was sifting my confections of crewels 
and parrot feather on the surface of the water in much 
the same style as a fluttering insect would swamp 
itself in the foreign element. The fish seemed to 
think the same, for they came rushing to the surface 
in what seemed eagerness to snap up the pleasant 



food. But again the little glint of Kirby blue showed 
the falseness of the pretense, and the rainbows flashed 
away. Probably when the schools were in safer 
depths some wise old fish quoted to them sage finny 
proverbs such as "All's not fly that flutters," and 
"Beware the good meal that has a string tied to it." 
I do not know that Samoan fish have such proverbs, 
but from my experience I suspect it. At any rate, 
bait and fly proved absolutely useless. 

By this time I was not alone. All children are curi- 
ous, and the Samoan youngsters are no exception. 
One can hardly blame them for wanting to see what 
was going on. It does excite attention that cannot 
be avoided if the marine landscape presents such a 
prominent picture as that of a woman in a bathing 
suit sitting three-quarters of a mile out in the Pacific 
Ocean on a camp stool with a green-lined white sun 
umbrella over her head. Without being a savage, 
almost anybody would wonder what such a spectacle 
might mean. Accordingly I found half a hundred of 
the little children of Vaiala wading out to me, con- 
tent to sit quietly on the coral blocks and watch what 
might happen. In a general way I had come to rec- 
ognize long since that my movements provided these 
small and laughing savages with their closest approxi- 
mation to the juvenile delights of the circus. 

Having all these spectators, I put them to use. I 
recognized that rod and line would serve me not at 
all in this tide pool so provokingly crowded with 
these gay fish that scorned the hook, no matter how 
cunningly concealed. But I had some hope that a 



net would prove effective. Therefore, I dispatched 
some of the children to shore to borrow nets for me. 
They brought back a magnificent assortment, for I 
had not followed all the niceties of the language in 
describing just what sort of net I needed. There is 
a single word for all this sort of fishing gear, and that 
was the word I used, not remembering that each va- 
riety of net has its own name, and that no Samoan 
ever knows enough to use the slightest particle of 
common sense in aid of one who is not adept in the 
niceties of their language. 

I had asked for fishing gear, and it was fishing 
gear they brought me — gear of every sort that they 
knew. Here came a youngster packing out a length 
of rope covered with tassels of cocoanut leaves, a 
thing that could be of no imaginable use in my deep 
pool. Next was a quartet struggling with a wooden 
hand barrow heaped high with a hundred-fathom 
seine, of which the meshes were so large that it would 
hold nothing smaller than a codfish. Others carried 
small dip nets, which could be used only in the shal- 
lowest pools. I had asked for nets and it was nets 
that they had brought me, according to the best of 
their lights. Some had even brought out a stock of 
fish traps of basket work, but they were of no more 
service than the nets. Yet from the mass of material 
placed at my service, and for which I knew I should 
have to reward each youthful bearer. I did manage 
to put together a purse net that would fit within the 
pool. With the assistance of the children I succeeded 
in setting this in the pool, but, of course, all the fish 



had been frightened into the safe seclusion of the 
coral forest. After the net was set I waited for the 
fish to come back. It was altogether useless. The 
fish swam up to the outside of the net and looked at 
the meshes, then they swam back under the coral 
and told the others that there was something wrong. 
At every twig of coral I could see a fish gazing curi- 
ously at the pool and its treacherous contents, but 
not one would venture out where I might gather it in. 

The stir on the reef and the errand of the children 
on the shore had interested Talolo. He did not know 
what I was doing, but that I was doing something 
was enough to bring him to me. I explained that I 
had been trying to catch these rainbow fish with bait 
and with the fly. His first comment was that fish of 
this sort were forbidden to all but chiefs. That was 
a thing I knew already, for Tanoa had told me, and 
anyway, I explained that it made no difference to me 
in the least, for I was entitled to the best there was 
going. Then he explained that they would not take 
the hook under any circumstances. I thought I 
knew this already by dint of experience. Next I 
showed him my purse net, only to be told that it was 
impossible to net these fish, a truth of which I was 
rapidly becoming convinced. 

"What shall I do, Talolo?" I asked. "If you and 
the rest of the chiefs eat these fish there must be some 
way of taking them, and you must show me how." 

There were few things that Talolo liked better than 
bossing a job, and particularly when by so doing he 
could give me a new demonstration of his theory that 



I had no business to tackle the natural history of 
Somoa without his guidance. To the crew of small 
children he delivered a set of positive orders, which 
set them at work collecting the nets, including the 
purse that I had set in the pool. With surprisingly- 
little delay they lugged their gear back to shore, and 
to one of the more trustworthy youngsters my rod 
and appurtenances were intrusted, with directions that 
he wake Tanoa up from his afternoon nap and tell 
him to dry it carefully, because, while it was no good 
in Samoa, I might want to use it some time in my 
own home. 

Then Talolo found a seat in the water alongside of 
my camp stool and proceeded to tell me stories. He 
told me how much he loved me, but by this time that 
was a well-worn fiction and was understood to be no 
more than a preliminary step to the request for the 
satisfaction of his manifold wants in the way of 
hardtack and salmon. From this he branched 
off to the solemnity of the taboo that existed 
over these fish, and the dreadful happenings that were 
bound to make themselves felt in the insides of any 
man or woman who should venture to eat them with- 
out being to the manner born. Even the one method 
which would catch them was forbidden to those of low 
estate under most unpleasant penalties. After all, he 
was of the opinion that my rank and station was suffi- 
ciently high to admit me to share in these fish, and 
my goodness of heart toward him was so great that 
he was sure that I would bestow on him some slight 
gift in recognition of his services in my assistance. 



By the time this harangue was finished and Talolo 
had received assurances that he would not go unre- 
warded, the children came wading back, and each one 
bore a back load of green vines with large round 
leaves. The plant was in a general way familiar to me. 
That is to say, I had often noticed it growing on the 
beaches just above high-water mark. But I never had 
seen it in flower, nor did I know of any reason why it 
should be held above any beach weed. It was not at 
all ornamental, and I was unaware of the fact that it 
was useful. 

The children built up a platform of coral blocks on 
the reef and carried it above the level of the water. 
On this platform the back loads of vines were de- 
posited and each carrier set at work making them up 
into tight bundles a yard or so in length and about a 
foot thick, tied around carefully every few inches. 
When the bundles were all made up, one of the chil- 
dren gave Talolo a stout stick, with which he beat 
each bundle several smart blows. Then tying to one 
of the bundles a few sinkers of coral rock, he cast it 
into the pool as near the center as possible. The 
same was done with the others, and a considerable 
area of the sandy bottom was covered with these 
green fagots. 

Of course, the very first bundle frightened all the 
fish away to their hiding places in the coral thickets, 
but as soon as the last bundle had made its splash 
the schools of fish returned to their feeding ground. 
We sat on the brink of the pool to await develop- 
ments. For fully five minutes nothing happened. 



The vines were anchored at the bottom, the fish swam 
above, and I was ready to vote Talolo's efforts as 
great a failure as my own. But then a change began 
to make itself manifest in the deepest school. Instead 
of swimming lazily the fish began to dart hither and 
thither on irregular courses and then to swim hur- 
riedly to the surface, where they clustered nearly 
straight up and down, with their mouths out of water 
and gulping air. The surface current and the breeze 
drifted these fish to the edge of the basin, where the 
children picked them up and put them in my creel. 
In a few moments another school floating a trifle 
higher was similarly affected, and came stupefied to 
the surface, and was caught. 

It was clearly one of the vegetable fish poisons of 
which I had heard as being extensively in use in the 
South Sea islands. The clubbing which the bundles 
of weeds received set free the active sap, and it gra- 
dually mixed with the water at the bottom and thence 
extended upward in the still basin. This could well 
be the case, for at the bottom the coral walls were 
practically solid, and whatever current of the moving 
tide there might be was confined to the upper levels. 
The stupefying influence of the weed seemed to ex- 
tend actively upward for ten feet — at least above that 
depth the fish were not sufficiently affected to bring 
them to the surface. I noticed also that in the case 
of fish which were brought to the surface the effect 
of the poison seemed to wear off in about five minutes, 
and after their recovery they seemed to suffer no ill 
effects, but swam placidly in search of food. 



Talolo convinced me by actual test upon himself 
that the weed is harmless to the human system. I 
nibbled one of the stems and found nothing but a 
slightly sweet sap, which reminded me more of the 
juice of a watermelon than anything else. But on 
taking some salt water into my mouth with the sap 
I found the taste changed to a sharp and pungent 
acid. It is probably that sea change that acts upon 
the fish. 

By the time my creel was filled to overflowing, and 
the last few fish had been strung on a stem of the 
weed that caught them, the seat of my camp stool was 
awash. I gave the word for the return to shore, for 
I never could feel at ease with my brown kindergar- 
ten in deep water, even though I knew full well that 
every smallest baby of the lot could swim before it 
had learned to walk on dry ground. Accordingly, 
I gave the word for the long wade back to the 
glistening beach. But Talolo would not have it so 
at all. Even if I were forgetful, he knew that there 
were several things yet to do. With a national facil- 
ity at speech-making, he harangued the small tribe, 
and laid down the law to them with all the authority 
that a chief's son could exercise. Immediately every 
one of the children took a prompt header into the 
pool and swam to the bottom, from which they col- 
lected all the poison vines, and did not rest until they 
had dragged them into a tide channel, where they 
might float away. I should hardly have thought of 
that last detail, but it argues in Talolo a recognition 
of the principles of game preservation. When that 



had been accomplished Talolo told off the detach- 
ments of youngsters who were to carry ashore my 
various belongings, reserving for himself the fish, 
and then I noticed that the taboo on the fish had 
proved so strong that not one of meaner rank had 
so much as touched them. 

On the beach he and I conducted the important 
operation of counting the catch. As he laid them out 
in order on broad banana leaves, I reckoned twenty- 
eight, but Talolo positively announced seven. When 
I first encountered that proposition I had found it 
hard to understand, but in time I became reconciled 
to the mysteries of Samoan counting, even though I 
never really acquired the art in all its niceties. The 
"tasi, lua, tolu, fa" became as familiar to me as my 
"one, two, three," but I was always forgetting when 
two were one and when one was one, and when three 
were one. Cocoanuts are an example ; two drinking 
nuts count one ; palusami, if I remember correctly, 
it takes three to be counted as one. Evidently with 
these tabooed fish the unit was four. After the count 
Talolo claimed two, meaning eight according to my 
count, for his father Le Patu, inasmuch as he was 
chief of the village, and therefore entitled to his rake- 
off in accordance with the principles which are found 
universally applicable to rank and station. 

As to my own "five" of the gayly painted fish 
(really twenty according to my arithmetic), I lost no 
time in putting them to the pan test. Like all the 
smaller fish of the coral waters, they were good eat- 
ing, yet not so conspicuously good as to account for 



the chiefly taboo that has been placed upon them. But 
I had an amusing experience with Tanoa when it 
came to cooking the dinner. He had a shadow of 
title to rank as a talking man in some distant village, 
and indeed he had no greater delight than to bawl 
ceremonial speeches on my behalf, but a talking man 
is far removed from a chief, and he explained that he 
was not high enough to touch these fish. After a 
long argument, I did succeed in convincing him that 
he could do for me what he could by no means do on 
his own account. So he dressed the fish and put 
them on the pan, but I could see that he was by no 
means at his customary ease. We had some for din- 
ner and some for breakfast, and still there were sev- 
eral left over, since not one of my domestics would 
dare touch the fish for their own food. After break- 
fast I heard Tanoa shouting a speech on the village 
green outside of our compound, and the burden of 
his address was that out of the goodness of my heart 
I was presenting to the chiefs of Vaiala "three" of the 
tabooed fish, which, of course, meant a dozen. This 
was as good as any way of disposing of them, for 
there was no way of keeping them for the next dinner. 
The talking man of Vaiala made a long speech in 
acknowledgment, and then the highest chief there 
present stalked out from the great house of the vil- 
lage, picked up the leaf on which the fish lay, raised 
them formally to his head and carried them from 
view. As it was not long before the smoke began 
to curl up from the village pit ovens, I have reason 
to believe that my fish fed the chiefs. 




If any one were to ask me if I would consent to 
go jacking for chromo fish with the assistance of a 
piece of an umbrella rib rubbed sharp on a stone, I 
should, of course, deny that I could ever be guilty of 
such a breach of the laws of true and honest sport. 
Yet that I have done just this thing will be set forth 
in this narrative of one night's experience in the 
purple night of the South Sea within the spray of 
the foaming breakers of the restless ocean. The only 
excuse that can be offered is to plead the custom of 
the country, and Samoa must be taken as a fair ex- 
cuse for all sorts of moral derelictions. 

Just why all moral sense vanishes in Samoa must 
be the study of the practical and dogmatic moralist. 
The country and the climate do seem to rip the 
Decalogue into shreds, and the common decencies of 
sport are a sealed book. Nowhere else in the wide 
world would one so much as dream of killing fish 
with a flaming torch and a barbed spear, but in Sa- 
moa it is the regular thing for all the women of the 
native villages in the dark of the moon. 

It has its picturesque side at any rate. To see the 
glare of the torches out at sea, the long alleys of light 



reflected on the still waters of the lagoon, to hear in 
the pause of the thunder of the breakers on the reef 
the shrill cry of women, all this is a scene to attract 
the attention. Add to this the unbroken calm of the 
windless evening when the feathery plumes of the 
cocoanuts are stilled at last, the ebb tide smell of the 
orange scum which rises from the exposed coral, and 
you have a scene which cannot be matched away from 
the islands of the tropical Pacific. 

The reef lay a good long mile seaward from my 
beach in Vaiala, and the beach was only a few feet 
from the front gate of my compound. Out on the 
reef the torches glared like the lights of some city 
seen from the deck of a vessel becalmed in the offing. 
From time to time a torch expires here and there, 
and the night is so still that it takes an act of reason 
to overcome the imagination which makes one think 
the sound of the hiss is heard as the fat leaves fall 
into the water. In a slow progress the groups of 
torches move eastward along the reef until the fishers 
reach the Vailoa sands, a mile or so up the coast, 
where the reef pools cease and there is no fishing 

My first source of information was, as usual, young 
Talolo. The young girls of the village had been giv- 
ing me a concert on the veranda — Lise and Fuatino 
and Manima, who was a grotesque young imp of not 
quite ten years. Talolo had engineered the concert 
and had distributed the reward in the shape of hand- 
fuls of sugar candy lozenges, which some enterprising 
trader had had manufactured in the Colonies with 



Samoan mottoes in brilliant red, such as "Talofa" 
(love) and "Lau Pcle" (my darling). In addition to 
his duties as impresario, Talolo had used his horse- 
hair fly-flapper to keep me free from the poisonous 
attacks of the mosquitoes, which make the dark a 
torment in the islands. When Fa'agaoi, the boy 
whose name carried an unsolved romance of kidnap- 
ping, had paraded the beach with the rattle of the 
wooden drum which serves for curfew, the other chil- 
dren had scattered to their homes. But Talolo re- 
mained, for he seemed to hold himself superior to all 
the laws of the elders and the village schoolmaster, 
perhaps because he was the son of the village chief. 
Meanwhile, he waged war on the mosquitoes and idly 
steered his conversation in the direction of showing 
how much he was entitled to a sixpence or a tin of 
salmon or a pen and a sheet of letter paper, or some 
other of the means whereby the lad made his devotion 
to me profitable to himself. 

Such talks with Talolo called for little close atten- 
tion. I knew that if he kept up his liquid flattery 
long enough I would yield to his blandishments, for 
after all, a tin of beef or salmon more or less amounted 
to little at the time. Idly listening to the lad and 
idly looking out upon the lonely sea beyond which 
lay home and the land where life was less dependent 
on the can-opener, sparks of light began to flash out 
upon the night from the sea itself and to attract my 

''What are the lights, Talolo?" I asked. 

"Oi! Oi! Oi! Se mea fa'atanva'a. Nothing 



much," he lazily replied. "Only the women on the 
reef, that's all. Samalia and Fa'afili and Salatemu — 
that's my mother now, you know ; they are catching 
fish, good for eat for me for you to-morrow. I'll 
bring you some. If they bother you I'll make them 
stop until you go sleep." 

Really, there never seemed any limit to the things 
which young Talolo could do when he set about it, 
and if I had only given him permission he would 
surely have stopped the fishing even if it did bring a 
morning famine on Vaiala. But it is not in my nature 
to put a stop to anything that has to do with fish. I 
forbade the boy to interfere with the torches on the 
reef, and asked him only to tell me how the women 
with the lights caught the fish. 

"Tailo, tama'ita'i, ou te le iloa" he replied. "I don't 
know, lady; I know not at all. That is the women's 
fishery, and I am a man. How should I know what 
they do?" The little wretch was only a boy, after 
all. He had not even advanced to the stage of being 
tattooed, but he had all the masculine scorn of female 

"But I am a woman, Talolo," I said, "and as such 
I am entitled to know. Won't you tell me how 
Samalia and Fa'afili and your mother Salatemu and 
the other women catch the fish for you and all the 
rest of the men to eat in the morning after you have 
sung your hymn and said the prayer?" 

"Moni lava," replied the boy. "That is true indeed. 
The Papalangi men are such fools. I have been won- 
dering whether the Fa'amasino Sili would always give 



you salmon and pisupo to eat in the morning when 
other women here have to go out and get the fish 
for their men to eat. I will tell Salatemu to take you 
out on the reef to-morrow night and teach you how 
to get the fish as women ought to do. But you must 
get ready. Have you a spear? Do you know how 
to make your torches?" 

I had to confess my ignorance and lack of prepara- 
tion. But Talolo saw to it that the error should be 

"Tanoa e," he called to my servant, who was 
stretched on a mat around the corner of the veranda 
waiting to shut up the house when I should feel 
sleepy. "Tanoa, the tama'ita'i goes to-morrow night 
upon the reef to catch the fish for the Fa'amasino Sili 
to eat in the morning, for he has grown weary of giv- 
ing her things to eat, and now she must feed him. In 
the morning you must teach her how to make the 
torches and you must make her the spear to take the 
fish with. Now you can bring me a tin of sardines, 
which will be her loving gift to me for telling her what 
she shall do, and then I will tell Salatemu to teach her 
how the fish are caught at night when they come to 
the torch." 

The first thing in the morning I found the sunny 
side of my compound strewn with leaflets of dead 
cocoanut leaves. Long before I had aroused for my 
morning swim the faithful Tanoa had begun the 
preparation of the torches for the coming night. In 
case of any need, the South Sea islander falls back 
upon the cocoanut with a reliance upon its qualities 



which the experience of ages has shown to be well 
grounded. A single leaf of the cocoanut may range 
from ten to thirty feet in length. On the tree when the 
trade wind blows it seems as light as a feather; in the 
still night when it falls to the ground a massive weight, 
which could knock a man senseless if it should hit him 
in the descent. It is only in the evening calm that 
these leaves fall, and the prudent when they are abroad 
at night keep away from the cocoanut shade lest they 
be struck by falling leaves or ripe nuts. Each leaf has 
about a hundred lance-like leaflets, each four or five 
feet long and some two inches broad. These leaflets 
are full of oil, and when dried in the sun burn with a 
bright flame and a dense cloud of aromatic smoke. It 
was these leaflets that Tanoa had spread out in the sun 
to give them a thorough drying before making the 
torches which I was to carry for my fishing. Each 
torch consists of ten leaflets laid together in a neat 
bundle with ends alternating, half of the tips and half 
of the butts brought together. Every few inches the 
leaflets are tied with a strip of dry hibiscus fibre which 
in the islands is nature's substitute for the ball of 
twine of civilization. But here enters the comical di- 
vision of labor between the sexes in Samoa. Tanoa 
could gather the leaves and strew them in the sun to 
dry, but when it came to collecting them in bunches 
and putting the cords about them, he was forbidden 
to help, for that was women's work, and I had to wait 
for Salatemu to come under the guidance of Talolo. 
The making of the spear, however, was entirely 
man's work, and Tanoa set about it. The sole requi- 



sites were a ten-foot pole and an old umbrella rib. The 
latter was easily supplied in a land where there are 
four months of unintermitting downpour of rain, and 
where every day in the sunny season a shower may be 
expected. And the gales of the hurricane season turn 
so many umbrellas inside out that in every house there 
is a stock of gamps which have served their useful- 

Having selected the rib from one of the broken um- 
brellas, Tanoa cut it across about an inch above the 
spreader and half an inch below it. The spreader it- 
self he cut off at a distance of half a foot from the rib, 
thus leaving a wire shaft with a toggle an inch and a 
half long. The two ends of this toggle he reduced to 
sharp points by dint of much rubbing on a lapstone of 
smooth basalt. When his hours of industry had ac- 
complished the proper degree of sharpening, he set 
the toggle in relation to the shaft so that its shorter 
end formed a sharp angle with the spreader, and then 
hammered the joint so that the two parts would retain 
that relative position under ordinary circumstances, 
yet not so tight as to prevent the toggle from pulling 
out to a right angle when drawn upon by the struggles 
of a fish impaled upon the sharp instrument. When 
this had been completed to his satisfaction, he lashed 
the device with cocoanut husk sennit on the end of the 
stick. The remainder of the equipment was a basket 
of cocoanut leaf with a braided cord to sling about 
my neck to carry the catch. 

By this time Talolo brought Salatemu to inspect 
the preparations, both hungry, of course. After they 



had been fed a light repast of a couple of bread-fruit 
and a pound of tinned corned beef apiece, Salatemu 
assured me that all the requisites had been provided 
and that she would tie up my torches. Before that 
task had been completed, mother and son needed the 
slight refreshment of a tin of salmon and a hunk of 
cold boiled taro for each, it being understood that 
Tanoa assisted at each of these snacks just to show 
that there was no hard feeling, even though I could 
not join in the meal. I have never been able to go 
the limit of what Samoans will take in the way of food ; 
no matter how much I have given them by way of ex- 
periment, they have always seemed capable of taking 

After Salatemu had eaten all that I was prepared to 
place before her, and had declared my outfit all that 
could be required, I asked about the clothing I should 

"Well, you walk some and you swim some on the 
reef," was her answer, "so you wear what you swim 
in." This made it plain that my bathing dress was the 
proper garb for the reef fishing. But there had to be 
an addition. These Samoans go barefoot all their 
lives, and it is nothing to them to parade upon the 
reef in their natural feet. But unlike them no civ- 
ilized woman used to going shod could ever venture 
en the reef with its jagged sprigs of coral. In prepa- 
ration for the emergency, I took an old pair of canvas 
pumps or Oxford ties belonging to a larger-footed 
member of the family, and had Tanoa stitch an arma- 
ment of Manila rope all over the soles. Experience 



has shown that for wading in the coral waters there 
is nothing like Manila hemp ; even leather is cut to 
tatters in a few moments. This will serve to show the 
texture of the soles of these Samoan women who walk 
on the reefs barefoot and suiter no harm. 

In the early evening when the tide was ebbing, 
Salatemu came back to see if I was ready. As soon 
as the shore patches of coral began to appear above 
the receding tide, I took my spear and slung the 
bundle of torches and the creel upon my back, firmly 
fastened my rope-soled shoes upon my feet, and set 
forth seaward. The water was pleasantly warm, and 
for the first part of the way the going was easy, for we 
took advantage of a slant of sand which extended out 
in front of the house. I could see little to help my 
steps, for the torches were not to be kindled until we 
reached the reef. But I could just discern Salatemu 
in the darkness as my guide, and on the right hand 
and the left I could hear the chatter of the other 
women of the village. 

All at once the bottom seemed to drop out of the 
sea. There was nothing to step-on, and I found myself 
soused over head and all into the warm water. My 
spear lost itself instantly, and I had to swim out. 
When I came again to the surface, I found that I had 
dropped into a tide pool, while my guide had kept on 
the rim, only a few feet away from me. With her 
aid I recovered the spear and found footing once more. 
My torches were wet, of course, but that made no dif- 
ference, for the water does not stick to the cocoanut 
leaflets. It was not the last time I had such a duck- 



ing, for the reef is full of these deep pools, and it is 
impossible to see them in advance. While our torches 
were yet unlighted, the only light was the will-o'-the- 
wisp glow of the coral and the sharp phosphorescence 
of the fish darting from pool to pool as our advance 
scared them out of cover. 

At last Salatemu and I reached the dry footing of 
the barrier reef. It is about fifty feet in width, broken 
chips of coral for a footing, here and there a pool, and 
seaward the majestic wall of the breakers thundering 
in from sea as high as a house and combing over in 
flame-specked foam, and at intervals broken by deep 
passages where the waves coursed shoreward. It is 
close to the reef that we catch the fish with jack and 
spear, the small fish on the shoreward face of the bar- 
rier coral, and the large fish such as mullet and bonito 
in the passes. 

When we had reached the reef it was time to kindle 
the torches. Every woman had brought her store of 
matches, and had kept them dry in a manner that they 
alone could have thought of. The matches had been 
tucked into their hair, and no matter how often the 
women had been forced to swim, the matches re- 
mained dry, because their hair was so soaked with co- 
coanut oil that the water could not reach the matches. 
All along the reef for a mile the torches began to 
gleam, and by their light we could make out the drip- 
ping forms of brown women holding torches aloft in 
the left hand and poising the spear in the right as 
they skirted the reef pools. 

Salatemu had stationed me at the edge of a ten-foot 



pool with a clear, sandy bottom. At first I could 
scarcely see a thing until I learned the knack of hold- 
ing my torch both above and behind me, and of keep- 
ing my own shadow off the strip of water which I 
was watching. There were fish there, fish in plenty, 
for I could see them darkly flash across the line of 
light. As soon as I spotted a dark body slowly mov- 
ing over the illuminated sand, I cast my spear. It 
struck in the sand two feet beyond the mark, which 
continued its slow progress. Then I recalled my 
knowledge of refraction and remembered how the 
water lifts any object and makes it necessary to aim 
below. The second time I struck the object at which 
I aimed and brought it to the surface. But Salatemu's 
laugh of scorn soon convinced me that it was not 
worth the taking — one of the leathery sea cucumbers 
a foot in length, neither ornamental nor edible, al- 
though a close relative of the trepang, which is also 
found, though rarely now, and is worth its weight in 
silver when smoked and dried for the Chinese mar- 
ket. By the time I had cleared my spear, the pool 
was filled with a school of fish, and I cast at random. 

Beginners luck! I drove my spear quite through 
one fish and into a second, and landed both. Sala- 
temu began to think that she had nothing to teach me, 
and I was canny enough to take all the credit that was 
coming to me for the chance shot. The fish were 
misshapen cobbler fish, each as large as a saucer and 
decorated with long frills, but for all their picturesque 
appearance I knew them to be good in the pan. 

The next few casts were blank, until I discovered 



the not unnatural mistake I was making. The light 
of my torch was so sharp, the water so clear, and the 
bed of sand so devoid of dull shade, that I was aiming 
not at the fish, but at their shadows on the sand, and, 
of course, overshooting every time. But this pool was 
now exhausted, and Salatemu and I moved along to 
another. After bringing up two or three small fish, 
I made a cast and lost my spear. I could see the shaft 
sticking up a little below the surface, but that was all- — 
the point had stuck in the coral at the bottom. I was 
helpless, for the tricks of jacking on the reef were new 
to me. But Salatemu came to my rescue, for she was 
familiar with such incidents. Like a fish herself she 
took a header into the pool, and I stood by and 
watched her descend. At the bottom she gave a tug 
on the spear and disengaged it from the coral branch 
into which I had driven it. But that plunge scared 
all the fish away from that pool, and we moved on. 

Next we came to a deep passage in the reef which 
we had to swim across. While Salatemu was show- 
ing me how to arrange a raft of my spare torches on 
which to float my lighted one while swimming, I heard 
a rhythmical splashing inshore of us. All at once 
there flashed into sight a gleam of light leaping from 
the water. I did not know just what it was, but in- 
stinctively I cast my spear at the spot where I thought 
it would next emerge. More good luck! The spear 
pierced a leaping fish in its flight through the air. In- 
voluntarily I followed the spear, for I toppled over 
into the channel and came up within reach of the 
shaft before the fish had had time to recover its motion. 



Seeing what was up, Salatemu followed me, and with 
united efforts we brought to the solid reef a brilliant 
mullet, which I found afterward weighed all of eight 

That ended my fishing for the night. I had con- 
vinced all the Samoan women that I was capable of 
doing better than they, that I could land two fish on a 
single drive, and that it was nothing at all to me to kill 
a fish in the midst of its leap. I was afraid that any 
further attempts would spoil the record, and wisely I 
desisted. Just about the same time Salatemu came to 
grief by stepping on a sea urchin. Quoting the old 
proverb, "folaualamea," which is nearly the equivalent 
of our proverb about "a hair of the dog that bit you," 
Salatemu lifted up her foot and picked off the offend- 
ing urchin with a body about the size of a tennis ball, 
and armed on its upper hemisphere with spines all of 
two inches long. These spines can inflict a very ugly 
wound, and one that is likely to suppurate and prove 
very obstinate in healing. Following her native medi- 
cine, she turned the urchin flat side up and applied its 
jaws to the wound until it caught hold of the skin. 
Then she stood like a wading bird on one leg until the 
urchin had, as she explained the operation, sucked 
out all the poison and dropped off. When this had 
been accomplished, she picked up a slab of coral and 
smashed the urchin and ended by eating its meat, all 
being necessary to the treatment. After this accident 
she could fish no more, and we slowly waded back 
to shore. For her kindness in showing me the mys- 
teries of torching fish on the reef, I opened my creel 



and gave her all my catch except the big mullet. That 
I felt I was fairly entitled to. 

The only thing in this fishery which shows the least 
influence of the foreigner is the use of the umbrella 
rib in the spear. Before the foreigners came to Sa- 
moa with their umbrellas to displace the aboriginal 
rain shield of a banana leaf, the fish spears were tipped 
with the barbed thorn of one of the indigenous shrubs 
found everywhere at the edge of the bush. The thorn 
was just as good for piercing the fish, and the barb 
held them as well as the wire toggle, but the thorns 
soon broke if they hit the coral. 

On the return to shore, Tanoa was awakened to 
clean the mullet and to salt it to secure its keeping 
over night. While he was at his task he kept up a 
running commentary of flattering congratulations on 
my skill with the spear, as shown by my wing shot 
at the fish in air. But the next morning when we had 
the fish for breakfast, my graceless Talolo came 
around and sat on the floor of our dining-room in the 
shady corner of the veranda and developed a long 
chain of logical demonstration in proof that, as usual, 
he should have a tin of something. The gist of his 
argument was that inasmuch as I had shown that I 
could go out on the reef to catch the family meals 
like any other woman, there was less need for hoard- 
ing our supply of provisions in tin cans, and on that 
account we could all the more readily spare him some 
salmon or corned beef or even sardines, and perhaps 
throw in a can of jam. 

And this was the sentiment of Talolo, without whose 






aid I should never have shouldered my bundle of 
torches and tried the night fishing on the reef. It is 
only one of the many reasons I had for feeling that 
Talolo was not altogether disinterested in his atten- 
tions to me. 




In late October the ardent sportsman will be 
reckoning up the days and the stars and the blossoms 
of the trees according to a legendary schedule in order 
to determine the coming of the palolo — that is, if he 
is a South Pacific sportsman. There is a close sea- 
son on palolo. The open season lasts less than three 
hours in the year, and no one ever took palolo out 
of season. It is not that the primitive islanders of the 
South Sea have any game laws, nor if they had any 
would they be at all likely to observe them. Nature 
herself regulates the preservation of this game. When 
the close season is on, the palolo is shut up in the reef 
as tight as a drum, and the very keenest search fails 
to disclose a single specimen in the reef pools, which 
at the appointed time will writhe with them. Some- 
thing like a game law that is, for it is automatic and 
self-administering, with no need of game wardens and 

Worms are intimately associated with fishing; in 
many cases a necessary preliminary. But to go fish- 
ing for worms is a novelty in the line of sport, and 
one for which it is absolutely necessary to go to the 
uttermost parts of the earth and to be there promptly 



on time. That is all that the palolo is — a wriggling 
worm of the sea. But the South Sea people know 
no greater delicacy. Its coming marks for them the 
beginning of the year. They travel long distances to 
reach the reefs where the palolo is known to come, 
and more than one savage battle has arisen because 
access to a favorite reef has been forbidden by earlier 

The habitat of the palolo is restricted to the South 
Pacific and to a circumscribed area within the torrid 
zone. It is unknown outside of certain coral reefs in 
the three central archipelagoes of Samoa, Fiji and 
Tonga. Even within its area the worm is by no 
means widely distributed, for it is only certain narrow 
strips of coral reef which afford a home for the ani- 
mal. Thus on the whole of the north coast of Upolu 
there is only one strip of the fringing reef, less than 
half a mile in length, where the worm is ever found. 
The line of separation is drawn as sharply as though 
by a wall ; but the most careful examination of the 
reef corals reveals no apparent distinctive difference 
which might account for this phenomenon on the 
score of difference of surroundings. Furthermore, 
the coral beds in which palolo are known to thrive 
present the most wide differences among themselves 
in the matter of the genera of corallines and corals 
that form the reef. It is a mystery, but where all 
connected with the life history of the animal is 
so mysterious, one additional puzzle makes little 

This South Sea worm has taken its place in syste- 



matic zoology, and may be found in the larger cabi- 
nets, with its double Latin name attached. Gray, the 
English zoologist, identified the worm from preserved 
specimens, placed it among the annelids, and erected 
for it a special class, Corallicolce, in which it is repre- 
sented by the unique genus and species Palolo viridis. 
That does all very well for systematic purposes of 
science. When it comes to the life history of the 
worm the primitive savages of the islands may be in 
dense ignorance of its scientific name and place in 
the scale of nature, but they know the really essential 
point of when and where and how to get the worm, 
and biology as yet knows no more, if so much. This 
account of the palolo is derived from personal obser- 
vation and from careful talk with the oldest Samoans, 
who yet retain the knowledge that belonged to their 
race before the white people came upsetting things in 

The most striking of the mysteries of the palolo is 
its period. Other animals know no calendar; the 
palolo keeps account of time, and makes its appear- 
ance with strict attention to schedule. For a small part 
of just one day in the whole year it comes within sight 
of men and then goes into retirement for another year. 
There is a mystery that will call for much study, how a 
marine worm can reckon the days and months and 
never fail to appear at its appointed season. 

White people with their calendars compute that the 
palolo is due at dead low water in the night of the 
third quarter of the moon nearest the first of Novem- 
ber. But as that reckoning involves both the solar and 



the lunar months it is apparent that it will be bring- 
ing the palolo earlier and earlier each year. But the 
palolo does not do any such thing; it follows its own 
schedule and adjusts lunations to the sun and to the 
sidereal year with the utmost precision. The white 
men have never yet been able to predict when the 
palolo will apply the correction for the difference be- 
tween the lunar calendar and the sun's year, and for 
that reason the calendar computation finds itself some- 
times a full lunation ahead of the worm. 

The Pacific islanders are wiser. They are very wise 
indeed in regard to anything to eat, and their com- 
putation of the palolo is never known to fail. A very 
wise old Samoan gives this method of forecasting 
the single day of this strange fishing: When the 
aloalo comes into flower with its gorgeous cardinal 
spikes of bloom on bare branches overhanging the 
sea ; when three other shrubs, which it would be hard 
to identify for any foreigners but the botanists, are 
covered with blossoms ; when the trees are putting 
forth their new shoots, then you may know that the 
palolo moon is near. Then you scan the heavens 
for further signs. When the "carrying pole," which 
is the Belt of Orion, has set ; when you can no longer 
see the constellations known to native astronomy as 
the Man and the Duck — then you may be sure that 
the palolo fishing is close at hand. Now you watch 
for the moon. When you have had the right signs 
on the trees and in the sky, the moon enables you to 
fix the exact day of the fishing ; the new moon, which 
follows these signs, is the one on which to reckon, and 



its third quarter is the time for the mysterious worms 
to come to the surface. 

It is only the very sage Samoans who can forecast 
from these elements. It is an art now rapidly pass- 
ing away. The modern islanders who have lost much 
of the wisdom of the sky and the forest, keep a careful 
count of the days since the last palolo. That is a duty 
of the principal talking man of each village. For his 
fishing calendar he has a small basket, which is hung 
out of the way on one of the rafters of his house. For 
his further provision he has nine black pebbles, nine 
red and green feathers of the island parrakeet, and 
three leaves. Each day after the palolo he drops into 
the basket one of the black pebbles. On the ninth 
day the last pebble goes into the basket, and on the 
tenth day all the pebbles are turned out and a feather 
put in their place. Thus a feather is put into the 
basket every tenth day, as reckoned in the interval 
by the pebbles. On the hundredth day he turns out 
nine feathers and nine black pebbles and puts a leaf 
in their place to denote a hundred. When the basket 
holds three leaves, five feathers and four pebbles the 
palolo is due next morning. This interval of 354 days 
is good for two years. On the third it is necessary 
to reckon 384 since the last palolo fishing. 

These are the methods by which white and savage 
men keep the reckoning. How the worm itself down 
deep in the coral knows when its one day has come 
around, what force of nature brings it up to spawn on 
that day, and no other, is a mystery all unsolved. 

The worm is of about the girth of a thick twine. 



Its length is much dependent on circumstances, for 
it is very fragile, and drops asunder at the joints when 
caught, so that it is difficult to estimate what the 
original length was. Specimens which have been care- 
fully floated out have measured more than thirty 
inches. Whether long or short, the girth of the ani- 
mal seems constant. Museum specimens are invari- 
ably in fragments, and therefore are of no assistance 
in determining this point. 

The head of the palolo is involved in considerable 
doubt. Gray, who established the place of the ani- 
mal in zoology, pictures its head as marked with three 
spines, of which the central one is a little the longest, 
the three being arranged like a trident projecting for- 
ward from the top of the head ; eyes are represented at 
the base of the spines ; behind the spines is an oval 
depression, into which projects backward a short spine. 
This seems to be a mistake of some sort, for careful 
observation has failed to show a living palolo with a 
head corresponding with that description. Really the 
head of the worm is a blunt termination and distin- 
guished from the other segments only by its greater 
length and the absence of the lateral bristles. The 
rings of the body are flattened out into a slight keel at 
each side, and on these keels each segment has a bunch 
of bristles at each side, apparently for use in swim- 
ming. There is a breathing hole in the middle of each 
segment, the series showing as a line of dark dots 
along the worm from tip to tail. The last six seg- 
ments taper down to the tail, which is ornamented 
with two long and two short spines. The males are 



white or reddish ; the females range from dark green 
to black. 

If this were all there is to the palolo it would amount 
to no more than a curiosity of zoology. The South 
Sea islanders, however, have neither knowledge nor 
care for these details and problems. To them the sea 
worm is the raw material for such a gorge as is dear 
to the savage nature. 

When the white men's calendar and the count of 
leaves and red feathers and black pebbles and the 
wisdom of the stars and the blossoms all agree that 
palolo day is at hand, the Samoans who live on beaches 
where the worm does not rise paddle off to visit more 
highly favored communities. Very few come to Apia, 
for its fishery is but small, and there is not room for 
a hundred canoes in the pools of its scanty half-mile 
of productive reef. In Savaii there is an abundance 
of the delicacy, and on the south coast of Upolu there 
are famous fisheries. 

The night before palolo it is just as well to go to 
bed early, for it is going to be an early start in the 
morning. The Samoans go promptly to sleep, with 
the exception of one detailed to keep the watch. At 
3 o'clock his shout rings out as he calls the rapidly 
falling tide and the rising into view of the coral 
patches, for the moon at its last quarter has little 
power to illuminate, and does no more than make 
ghosts and phantoms of things seen. The signal is 
passed from house to house, until the village is fairly 
ringing with glad acclamation. Each Samoan brings 
his paddle from the house with him, the canoes are 



drawn up in line beneath the cocoanut trees at the edge 
of the beach, and the launching is simple. Little time 
is lost in getting under way, and the fleet heads out 
directly for the well-known fishing ground. Samoan 
canoes draw little, and if only there is as much as six 
inches of water it will serve as a channel. Thus the 
fishers edge themselves into pools within the reef, 
where they hope to find a bounteous supply. And still 
the tide goes out as if it were never to come back, 
and more and more of the reef appears on every side. 
Some have made a miscalculation. Instead of being 
in a pool they find themselves high and dry on the 
coral, with the tide still falling. Then they must carry 
the canoe from pool to pool in search of water to float 
it, and all the while their friends are jeering them. 
It is a noisy gathering. If they are not poking fun 
at the unfortunate or scolding those who trespass on 
some favored pool they are at least singing. And still 
the tide goes out. 

Only a few feet away are the seaward breakers. 
Steadily the great waves sweep in relentlessly from 
the sea. They comb over and beat in thunder and 
tumult on the coral wall. The air is filled with their 
salt spume ; yet not a ripple passes the barrier to dis- 
turb the fishing fleet under the protection of the great 
wall of the barrier reef. The thin edge of the moon 
is riding higher, but the pallid light, which makes even 
the brown faces seem green, is not from the moon ; 
it is the blanching eastern sky that goes before the 
dawn. The pools grow smaller and smaller, and the 
struggle grows greater to get within some pool and 



not be left behind on the coral- as the tide goes out. 
But now the older men shout for silence, and the 
command of the aged has weight with these skylark- 
ing savages. The old men are scanning the surface 
of the pools, and now and then they sweep with their 
nets. The tide goes out no more — no more of the 
reef darkens the surface ; it is slack water. It is now 
but a question of moments until the worms come 

There is only one sort of net that is any good for 
palolo — a piece of mosquito netting drawn over a 
forked twig or a looped bamboo and of about the size 
of a pocket handkerchief. With this the surface is 
skimmed, and the water can flow off sufficiently rapidly 
to preserve the worm in large pieces if not entire. 

It is dead low water. The tide must surely turn 
this very minute. There is no wind at that time of 
day. The dawn calm broods over the sea. Not a 
ripple shimmers the water. There is not a sign any- 
where of living thing in that water. You can feel 
the tension of the scene, and though it is your first 
palolo fishing, there is a contagion in the enthusiasm 
of those about you. You strain your eyes at the sur- 
face of your pool and sweep it with your net. Lucky 
if you are not cheated by some dark twig of coral, to 
the destruction of your net. There is not a living 
thing in that water, and you feel the chill of the sum- 
mer morning and wish that you had not come. All 
at once, and at once from every side of you, you hear 
the shout, "Ta palolo! U-U-U! Ta palolo!" ("Struck 
palolo! Oh, ho! Struck palolo!") 



You feel like paddling to see the find, forgetful that 
the tide has locked you in your own pool and that you 
have not Samoan feet to run unhurt over the jagged 
coral. All of a sudden you bethink yourself to look 
at your own pool, bare as you knew it to be. Bare? 
did you say? Why, it's fairly alive with masses float- 
ing up from the coral grove over which you are poised. 
You sweep your net and find that you have a bunch 
of wrigglers in it. Details are impossible in the ob- 
scurity, but you are moved to raise the Samoan cry, 
and on your own account you shout "Ta palolo!" 
Better rest content at that, for it is only long years 
in the South Sea can teach the way to give the rest 
of the call. Now, never mind the shouting — scoop! 
Palolo comes but once a year — scoop! Don't dis- 
course to anybody about the zoological mysteries, but 
scoop. Fill your bucket with the worms and let them 
writhe and wriggle while you scoop more to bear them 
company. Scoop as fast as you may, the same spot 
yields just as many worms, no matter how quickly you 
can get your nets cleared. This lasts for about half 
an hour ; certainly not longer." That is, it takes the 
worms that length of time to get clear of their coral 
nests. After that time you can scoop your pool quite 
clear and no more will come to view. If left to them- 
selves in the pool the worms remain on the surface 
between one and two hours in a living scum. Then 
they sink to the bottom and are lost to sight in the 
tangle of the coral before the sun rises, all the islanders 
being convinced that the first ray of sunlight kills any 
belated worm. 



While you are scooping you will make your first 
essay at tasting the savage delicacy. It may well be 
said that the eating of worms is an acquired taste, and 
it is just as well to make the first experiments under 
the cover of darkness. At any rate, you have care- 
fully picked out one of the least of these worms, and 
have tasted it. To your surprise — and most likely to 
your disappointment — everything seems just as it was 
before. You taste nothing but a little salt water, and 
there is no fierce lashing about of the worm in your 
mouth and midst, as you have forebodingly imagined. 
But that's not the way to eat palolo. It should be 
served raw, of course. Sunlight is fatal to pal©lo, and 
for that reason the islanders cook only so much of the 
catch as they find themselves unable to consume be- 
fore the sun rises. But cooked in leaves, it is coarse, 
and not at all to be considered. It is like the oyster, 
and cannot bide the fire. Take a handful of the worms 
freshly caught, and let the sea drain off ; now "scoop" 
them up and leave the rest to nature. After they have 
passed the palate, the tongue begins to smack of the 
flavor that in our knowledge is associated with the 
sweet scallop, and that's what the palolo tastes of. 

Any one can acquire the taste for palolo. But it 
is not to be recommended, for it's a long and weary 
way to the South Sea, and it is hardly worth while 
cultivating a taste that can be appeased only once a 
year, and that in the gray of the dawn 10,000 miles 



Since the time when I went palolo-fishing, as set 
forth in the preceding chapter, one of the mysteries 
of this remarkable animal has been cleared up. The 
palolo, that is to say that part which is found in the 
water on its one appointed day, is not an independent 
animal. The determination of species made by Gray, 
therefore, must fall to the ground for the simple fact 
that he never had in his possession a complete speci- 
men. The discovery of the animal which supplies 
the palolo was made recently by Dr. W. McM. Wood- 
worth, of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at 
Harvard, at which museum are now the only com- 
plete specimens of the worm. His researches were 
conducted at Falelatai, Upolu, where the reefs have 
been famous from immemorial antiquity for rich 
yield of the annual delicacy. This investigator broke 
out from the reef a large block of coral, and with 
much ingenuity established it under its natural con- 
ditions in a place where he could give it careful study. 
Dr. Woodworth was thus enabled to make the dis- 
covery that the palolo that is fished for and is eaten 
with so much avidity is not -itself the worm at all, 
but some sort of growth thrown off. That which is 
found floating in the sea has been described in the 
foregoing account. The real worm is quite a different 
thing, as has now become known through these in- 
vestigations, and which has been identified with one 
of similar habit in the China Seas. Instead of being 
slender and thread-like, as is the floating palolo, the 
worm is short and thick. It lives all the year round in 
the crannies of certain reef corals at no great depth 



below low water level. The floating palolo are parts 
of the larger worm in the reef coral which, under some 
mysterious influence, are thrown off on one day of the 
year. That the floating palolo disappear at sunrise 
from the waters, which in the gray of the dawn were 
filled with them, is no longer a mystery. As soon 
as the light of day becomes sufficiently strong, the 
floating palolo dissolve in the sea water, and thus in 
a few minutes every trace of them vanishes, thus lead- 
ing to the belief that they went back to the reef. It 
should be mentioned that the palolo appears on the 
island of Savaii just twenty-eight days before it ap- 
pears on the Upolu reefs, yet on the Savaii palolo 
morning a few worms are found in the Upolu palolo 
pools. Sufficient mystery yet remains about the life 
of this wonderful marine worm to occupy the atten- 
tion of naturalists for years to come ; this note is made 
because the opportunity was too good to neglect to 
give credit to Dr. Woodworth for a discovery which 
reflects credit on American biological scholarship. 
Dr. Woodworth has not yet published the details of 
his study of palolo, but when his paper does appear 
it will surely be found of great interest. 




Talolo said rats. 

Now, that may seem in one aspect trite, and in an- 
other it may seem slangy. The slang is easily re- 
moved, for my gentle companion of forest and moun- 
tain side made his remark in Samoan, and in that most 
courteous speech there is no such thing as slang, and 
even if there had been, Talolo, ranking as the son of a 
chief, would never have so derogated from his natural 
grace as to use it. As to its being trite that Talolo 
should say anything, that is another matter. Many of 
my memories of that faraway kingdom in the South 
Sea, which has just become half American, are really 
based on what Talolo said in his shattered English, 
which was the best I could. teach him, or in his own 
more liquid speech. He was always keen to accom- 
pany the "shootgun" into the bush, even if it did in- 
volve my company, for he had learned that we were 
inseparable, and must be taken together. Yet had 
it not been for Talolo there are few mysteries of the 
Samoan slopes which I should have encompassed. 
Therefore, it is only fair to give passing credit to the 
living faun in bronze who taught me the haunts of 
the crayfish in the mountain streams, and the pigeon 



in the topmost boughs, and the snake that vocalizes 
like a hen, and the aitu demons to be afraid of, and 
the way of the fish in the sea, of the bonito that charges 
the fisherman in the canoe, and the mullet that ripples 
the quiet lagoon in the miracle of the dawn twilight, 
and all the other birds and beasts of Samoan nature, 
to which Talolo applied the epithet "good for eat for 
you for me." That was his one fault ; he was always 
thinking of something "good for eat." If the things 
he ate had only been commensurate with his antici- 
pation of them, my Talolo would have been at least 
seventeen feet tall, and then he must have been fully 
tattooed after the manner of Samoan men, and I 
should have had to take a chaperon on my trips with 
him afield. Sport for sport's sake was beyond Ta- 
lolo's comprehension, but the result of sport he could 
well appreciate, particularly when baked with a stone 
in their insides. 

But, to start fair, we must return to Talolo's re- 
mark of rats and what led up to it. 

Samoa was sunk in ignoble peace. King Malietoa 
Laupepa had just drawri his monthly wages of $48.60, 
and there could be no vestige of political trouble until 
he had gone broke again. It took him eleven days to 
spend his civil list, and the next revolution was not 
due until the thirteenth of the month, and even then 
it might be postponed if we could be wheedled into 
lending him $5 or $10 to the next pay day, when long 
experience had been sufficient proof that he would for- 
get it. Even the rebels, who were not in receipt of 
any "kupe" or money whatsoever, were now quiescent, 



the last great war feast that they had conducted had 
used up all their pigs and taro, and they could make 
no new demonstration until they had grown more 
taro in the ground and more pork on top, and as to 
the latter item my still small gun was doing daily exe- 
cution on all the Vaiala shoats that crept through the 
Robinson Crusoe hedge and uprooted my Cineraria 
maritima and frangipanni. I never did know what 
Cineraria maritima really looked like, the pigs and the 
climate were against it ; but I remember the name from 
the seed package as one of the Samoan mysteries. 

After breakfast Talolo was discovered sitting in an 
attitude of placid hunger on the fragment of the 
wrecked mast of the Trenton, which lay at the foot 
of our flagstaff as a reminder of how the weather not 
so long ago took a hand in the Samoan question and 
gave it such a settlement as years of prosy diplomacy 
had not availed to accomplish. Instinct told me that 
Talolo was hungry, that and experience. In fact, so 
far as I was able to judge, Talolo was always hungry. 
In some occult way he seemed to know when there 
was likely to be something to eat in my cook house 
at the back of the compound. It was against all my 
rules and regulations for the government of what the 
diplomatic officers would insist on calling Samoan rela- 
tions, but when there was the wan aspect of an empty 
stomach on Talolo's plump face, all rules and regu- 
lations went overboard, and Talolo was ordered to 
go to the cook house and seek such consolation as 
Tanoa might administer. That procedure accounted 
for the general smear of content and tinned beef which 



Talolo wore when he rejoined me on the veranda and 
borrowed (and, as usual, eventually annexed) a box of 
those matches of which only a half will strike on the 
box. This was for the purpose of lighting the banana 
leaf cigarette, which he had bullied Tanoa into giving 
him. Tanoa, as good a soul as ever lived, was help- 
less in such a case, for Talolo ranked about one-eighth 
of an inch above him in the intricacies of island pre- 
cedence, and for that reason he had to yield to all of 
Talolo's demands. 

Having incorporated into himself one whole tin of 
beef and another of mess salmon, plus whatever was 
going in my cook house in the way of baked bread- 
fruit and taro, and not having any clear idea where he 
was likely to acquire another similar light luncheon for 
an hour or so, Talolo was quite willing to squat at 
my feet and continue his education in English, a lan- 
guage which at heart he despised because it drew so 
few distinctions between the chief and the common 

Talolo, like other boys the world over, was perfectly 
willing to give up his grammar and turn to natural 
history or some other really interesting topic. For 
about the one thousandth time he suggested how nice 
it must be to live in my island of Niu Ioka (New 
York), and to be able to go out after having break- 
fasted on two or three tins of things and back in the 
bush to employ the shootgun in bringing down an 
elephant or a tiger. He knew there were such things 
on the island I came from, for Tonga had seen them 
there, and as Tonga had been in the circus, she knew. 



Now, when any inquirer pulls the Barnum & Bailey 
show on me, I have to yield as gracefully as may be. 

Thus started, it was only a natural transition to the 
shootgun, which Talolo knew was hanging on the 
wall of my own room, with a leather bandoleer of cart- 
ridges. Here is where he was disappointed. Every 
shell was empty, and what was worse, there was not 
a drachm of nitro in the whole kingdom, and there 
would be none until the next mail boat renewed my 
personal supply. The Consuls held unpleasant 
opinions about powder — one can hardly blame them, 
when it is recalled that they were a feeble trio amid 
turbulent savages — and it was more than difficult to 
have powder on hand. Of course there was a scanty 
supply of black powder, but after the nitro, one does 
not much care to use the smoky stuff. 

At once all of Talolo's plans fell to the ground. 
There was no chance of going after pigeons. The 
sky was overcast, and under Samoan clouds the fish 
will not bite. It was proclaimed as a great disap- 
pointment to the lad, for he said that he knew just 
where we could count on finding a wild bull in the 
bush. That was one of Talolo's perennial promises. 
He was always on the point of bringing me within 
shooting distance of that or some other one of the 
wild cattle, but I never did get a shot at anything 
with horns in all my days under the dripping boughs. 

It was then that Talolo said rats. Now, I had a 
personal grievance against the Samoan rats. At night 
they invaded the house. They scampered over the 
floor mats, which magnified the scratching of their 



claws. They ran hurdle races over me as I slept, 
and if by any quick chance my fingers closed on their 
soft fur they squeaked. Worst of all, they got on the 
tin roof and held festive dances with complicated and 
noisy steps. That drove the sleep from the most 
drowsy. Really there was only one good thing to say 
in their favor, and that was that they were indefatig- 
able hunters of cockroaches, also a nocturnal bird and 
a very annoying one. 

When Talolo in Samoan, which I wish to repeat is 
not slangy, said rats, he used the word "imoa." 

"Isutnuf" I questioned in reply. 

"Iole fo'i," was his response. "Same rat, three 
names : imoa and isumu and iole, all the same bird." 
One has soon to recognize in the islands that every- 
thing that is not a fish or a worm or some such minor 
creation is a bird, even a horse ip a bird. 

"But, Talolo," I said, "the rats are asleep in the 
day time. The only time we can get them is at night, 
and anyway my shotgun is dead — no powder." 

"Much cloud to-day, Tamaita'i," he promptly re- 
plied. "Night and day same thing. Day better, for 
no aitu. Rats wake up and walk about in the bush 
and we catch them. Gun no good. Gun big. Rats 
small. Kill them with throwing stick. Good for eat 
for you for me." 

The last item was really unnecessary. I never did 
get to the limit of the fish, flesh and fowl, and "birds" 
that were not in some way "good for eat for you for 
me," principally for him. 

That is how I came to go on the hunt for rats with 

1 60 


Talolo. Our only weapons were throwing sticks, 
mere dried wands of the lightest kind of wood, each 
about as thick as my little finger and rather more 
than a yard in length. The chief use of these sticks 
is in a game over which the islanders spend many 
days at a time in the effort to see which can throw the 
greatest distance with one ricochet on the worn turf 
of the throwing green, which may be found in every 
village. Fierce contests are waged with these wands, 
to the accompaniment of barbaric feasts and dances. 
The experience taught me one thing, and that is 
that it is no easy thing for a white woman to throw 
a six-ounce stick with any hope of stunning or even 
hitting a field rat at the distance of ioo yards, and 
on the wing, as one may say. Total result : I con- 
fess ignominious failure. I did not kill a single 
rat, except one that doesn't count, for I squashed him 
by a backward step, not having the remotest idea 
that he was there. Talolo was more than disgusted, 
for he had given me the very straightest wand that 
he had in his collection. Therefore, if anybody wants 
to know how it seems to hit a rat with a stick at long 
range he is going to be disappointed, so far as my per- 
sonal experience goes ; but I did see how Talolo did 
it. Between us we brought home a fair string of 
game, including my squashed victim, and there can 
be no doubt that Talolo by himself would have done 
much better if it had not been for my company. A 
boy can't kill as many rats as he otherwise would if 
he has to spend a very considerable part of his time 
in hunting for a woman's throwing stick, and never 



feeling quite certain whether it is in the deep lantana 
brush or up in the summit of some high tree. I really 
could not help it. After the stick left my hands I never 
could tell which way it was going. That it would not 
annoy the rat was certain ; its ultimate destination was 

Talolo was right about the effect of the heavy 
clouds ; but then Talolo was always right about his 
woodcraft except for some of his views about the aitu 
and the snakes that cackle like a hen, and even as to 
those I am not entirely sure that he was lying. It 
was only in other matters that he gave full swing to 
his Samoan mendacity, questions as to who was his 
mother and such like unimportant trifles. The Sa- 
moan bush is always gloomy, even when the sun is 
at its torrid brightest above the leaves. On this day 
of lowering clouds, it was as dark as in the twilight 
which northern nations know. Between the trunks 
of great trees and under the cordage of pendent lianas 
were long vistas through the undergrowth, where the 
long slabs of banana leaves arched overhead, and near 
the ground the flat expanse of taro leaves simu- 
lated a green platform, and all tied together with the 
sturdy convolvulus out of which the Samoans believe 
the first women were created and then bore the first 
men and peopled the world — the whole world of the 
five islands. Every such vista was closely scanned by 
Talolo, as we made our dripping way over the soggy 
soil, where it has never ceased to rain since the world 
was young. Some were barren of guidance to him. In 
others he tried to show me the track of the scampering 



rats. Here and there he professed to find the course of 
the blue lizards, which flashed now and then on our 
sight, sharp-eyed creatures that sprang from under 
foot and gave a glimpse of their foot-long agility, 
dreadful things to have drop on you from overhead, 
according to Samoan belief, for then your neck swells 
up and you die, and I always believed whatever Ta- 
lolo told me in the bush, since that was his own coun- 
try. At last the lad found a runway of the rats. I 
must confess that I could see little spoor, but to his 
eyes it was clear that he had found one of the paths 
which the woodland rats use. 

We walked along this thin trail until we came upon 
a straightaway stretch of very nearly 200 yards, and 
there we took our stand in silence. Yet, still as we 
were, the jungle seemed filled with sound. There was 
the distant and melancholy cooing of the wood dove, 
the manutangi; the lizards scuttering through the 
grass gave vent to little squeaks ; the vagrant hermit 
crabs fell in clumsy slumps, as their top-heavy bor- 
rowed shells overbalanced them. In our waiting we 
felt a sudden chill, and Talolo insisted that we should 
tie the fragrant leaves of ginger about our heads in 
precaution, for those sudden chills mean the passage 
of some aitu on its hunt, and ginger may keep 
them off. 

Suddenly there was a little beast on the runway 
ahead of us, a lump of blue fur sitting in its tracks 
erect upon its haunches and washing its face with its 
forepaws. That was the first rat. It seemed too 
pretty to kill, but Talolo had no scruples whatever. 



He signed to me with a wave of his hand, and we 
threw at once. My stick landed in an orchid half- 
way up the trunk of a tamanu — that strange tree of the 
South Sea forests that grows boards. But Talolo di- 
rected his stick with a more acquainted aim, and rat 
the first fell to our bag. At least the rat was stunned, 
and Talolo gleefully running up broke the little ani- 
mal's neck and brought it to me that I might see what 
dignified sport we were pursuing. 

What I saw was a little animal no bigger than the 
chipmunks of our fences, gracefully shaped, covered 
with a thick fur of light slaty blue which might be or- 
namental when dressed and made up. Its eyes were 
quite as large and fine as those of our roadside squir- 
rels, and entirely different from the sharp beads which 
we associate with our household rats. In fact, this rat 
is entirely indigenous to the islands, and drives out the 
foreign rats which escape from the ships in the harbor. 
As was this first rat, so were the others that came 
to the runway on which we had taken our stand. In- 
variably I missed, except for the one that I inadvert- 
ently stepped on, and with very few exceptions Talolo 
was able to land his game at very considerable 

Talolo had assured me that the rats were "good for 
eat for you for me." I took home a few of the spoil 
and put them in Tanoa's hands for cooking. They had 
first to be skinned and wrapped in leaves, and then 
buried in the ground over night to season. In the 
morning Tanoa presented them fried for breakfast. 
Somehow or other I did not seem to hanker after 



fried rat. A junior member of the family vowed posi- 
tively that so long as there remained a tin of beef 
in the kingdom of Samoa, and a can-opener was avail- 
able, he was going to draw the line at rats. Another 
member of the family, with past years of experience 
with savage eating, welcomed the fried rats, and said 
that he was ready to eat the mess himself with no 
assistance. ''What's a rat," he announced, "after 
you've had to feed on 'wums' and bugs?" With this 
encouragement, I nibbled gingerly at my first fried 
rat. Come to think of it, it is somewhat of a new 
sensation to an unaccustomed palate. But it was so 
fine and tasty a morsel that I insisted that as between 
myself and the other member of the household who 
had a liking for rat, there should be an equitable dis- 
tribution of the game. 




"Then strange creepy creatures crawled out of their holes." 

That's the domestic side of Samoan life — that's 
housekeeping in the islands, a never-ending war 
against the creepers and the crawlers. 

"My word!" Dosie Gurr used to say in the Colonial 
dialect, for she was a New Zealander, "it's like tiking 
a blooming course in zoology to live here." That's 
English as she is spoke by our Colonial cousins. 
"Ask the lidy if she'll tike a piece of cike" is Austral- 
ian English, hard to understand until you get used to 
it. Dosie Gurr was right in this. I never knew 
whether I was living in what was really the best house 
in Samoa or was an inmate of a zoological garden. 

To appreciate the situation it is needful to know 
something of the house in Vaiala — "the maota in the 
malae of Lelepa," as I had to describe it in all Sa- 
moan letters. There were inner arrangements for 
sleeping and for the transaction of the Consul-Gen- 
eral's official business, which seemed to consist mainly 
in smoking vast quantities of native tobacco in banana 
leaf cheroots and in ceremonious drinking of the 
harmless but soapsuddy-looking kava in the effort to 
match one set of native intrigue against the other. 



All told, these needs used up less than half of the 
space under roof. The better two-thirds was veranda, 
on which the daily and synodic travel of the sun left 
drifting areas of charming shade. A section of ve- 
randa, impermanently latticed off like the Hawaiian 
lanais made the dining-room, and most of the zoolog- 
ical research was conducted in that segment of the 
domestic economy, for natural history and meals to- 
gether are bound to make an impression. 

From the beginning I was told not to walk on certain 
portions of the veranda because of the ants. Tonga 
used to call out after me, "Ta fefe i loi ma loata!" 
I don't like ants in my sugar bowl, but I never was 
afraid of them, as my maid's words would seem to im- 
ply in warning. Because it was the country custom, 
I had the legs of the dining-table and the meat safe 
set in empty beef tins of corrosive sublimate, which 
it was the cook boy's duty to replenish every Monday 
morning. That offered some prospect of keeping the 
ants out of the butter until they had triangulated the 
range of the table with an insect wisdom in surveying, 
after which it was easy for them to climb on the ceil- 
ing to the exact spot which would allow them to 
tumble in the half-melted butter with which one must 
oil the food in an iceless tropical habitation. Wise 
birds, these ants, when it comes to getting in the way 
of dining humanity. But Tonga's warning meant 
more than that. Tonga was not at all fastidious as 
to this or any other combination of dinner and 
zoology. She had in mind to warn me against a more 
serious inroad. What that was I soon found out. 



She had shouted to me to look out for ants in a cer- 
tain spot of the flooring, and I had disregarded the 
warning, because I had not yet learned to fear the 
tiny ant. All of a sudden the flooring vanished be- 
neath my step, and instead of finding a place to walk 
on, there was a yawning gap in the planking. Then 
I knew what was meant. The ants are not only after 
butter and such things to eat — they go for house tim- 
bers and riddle the planks. It is often the case that 
they will cut out a board from end to end and leave 
no outward sign, for they never touch paint. When 
you are least expecting it the solid plank is really but 
a hollow sham, which the least pressure will break 
through. In any boarded house in Samoa that is over 
five years old, it is just as easy to walk out through 
the wall anywhere as it is at the door, and that the 
ants have done. Tonga's caution meant : "I'm 
afraid of the hi and the loata." Except for the slight 
and graduated difference in size, it was not possible 
to distinguish between the loi and loata, both being 
common house ants. Both were red and both were 
minute, and one was as destructive as the other, 
neither being as large as the common red ant of Amer- 
ica. Although they eat your house out from under 
you, they render good service as scavengers. I have 
seen cases where a dead rat was reduced to shining 
and harmless bones in less than an hour by the well- 
directed efforts of these inconspicuous cleaners. 

After a long residence in New York, I felt on terms 
of intimate acquaintance with cockroaches, as I 
erroneously named the common water bug. The 

1 68 


stories of South Sea travelers that they had been forced 
to sink their vessels to rid them of the pest I viewed 
with complacent appreciation of their skill in menda- 
city. But after I came to know the real cockroach, 
the Blatta orient alis, I was convinced that these stories 
were mild — if they had mentioned a ton of dynamite 
I should have believed it too mild a remedy to be 
effectual. One day I was called on to open the locker 
in which the tinned provisions were kept, for I never 
had a Samoan visitor who could not dispose of a 
pound can of corned beef or salmon while waiting for 
the cook boy to prepare him something to eat. On 
the inner side of the door was the sic ugh of a cock- 
roach about an inch and a half long, and alongside of 
it was a cream-colored monster all of three inches in 
length. It looked buggy, but it was a new thing in 
my experience, and I called for some one to explain 
the mystery. The cook boy came running up, 
and as soon as he saw what was the trouble 
he looked on me with scorn, after the manner of 
each of our native servants, who refused to con- 
sider other than their specific duties. Tanoa's duty 
was to cook, and as cockroaches were not cookable 
he felt that he had unnecessarily been called from his 
proper duties. However, he explained : "0 le monga- 
monga mate lenei, ua ola lea" "This is a dead cock- 
roach," he said, pointing to the slough, "and that is a 
live one." It was a marvel to see how big the bug 
was in comparison with the shell which it had just 
discarded as it lay torpid and waiting for the new skin 
to harden. In time I became better acquainted with 



the brutes and learned to recognize their nocturnal in- 
roads on my finger nails. After I had lost a few pairs 
of shoes through their nibbling at the seams, I soon 
recognized that they were more of a pest than I had 
considered possible. 

Twice a year we had flies in abundance. For 
months they vanished from human sight ; but as soon 
as the bread-fruit came into blossom we were pestered 
with them. They flocked in such crowds that I appre- 
ciated why the outward mark of all Samoan digni- 
taries is a fly-flapper of horse hair or fibre. The Sa- 
moan habit exposes so much skin that it is easy to 
see that life would be a torment without a sharp brush 
to get rid of the pests. The junior member of my 
family hated flies. If his hatred only extends to the 
Prince of Flies in the same measure his hereafter is 
sure. He brushed them away and still they came 
and kept a-coming. But he was not to be downed. 
At one of the stores he found a wire trap, which was 
to be baited with sugar and vinegar. To this he 
pinned his faith and set it on the dining table in the 
lanai. Of course, as the place was open to the air in 
every direction, he might just as well have set it on a 
post in the village green for all the good it did. When 
this fact was called to his attention and it was argued 
to his satisfaction and disgust that he had undertaken 
a contract to kill all the flies in Samoa, he grew wildly 
angry and kicked the trap into the sea, whence it was 
washed up on the next tide chock-a-block with long- 
armed fighting crabs, so that he had the satisfaction 
of catching something, any way. But this annoyance 



visited us only for two months in the year — once in 
what should have been the spring and once in what 
should have been the autumn if the torrid zone had 
been equipped with those seasons, but always when 
the bread-fruit was flowering. 

From flies to mosquitoes is an easy transition. The 
old Samoan legend runs somewhat after the fashion of 
Pandora's box and tells how a Samoan girl was im- 
pelled through curiosity to split open two bamboo 
tubes, of which one discharged a cargo of flies and 
the other let loose the first mosquitoes on the islands. 
They are fierce birds, these mosquitoes. By day they 
are hidden from the sight of man ; at night they are 
a consuming pest. Yet there is one good feature 
about them — they will not come near a light, a habit 
which they do not share with the Jersey brand. Even 
the moonlight is sufficient to keep them off, so that 
for at least a part of the month it was possible to en- 
joy the delights of the cool night air on the broad 
veranda. Within doors they kept away from the light 
of the lamp, yet there was no way of sitting at a table 
in comfort, except by putting a lighted candle on the 
floor to drive them off. 

Still, if the lamplight kept off the mosquitoes it at- 
tracted swarms of other bugs. There were soft and 
pudgy moths which buzzed about in a bewildering 
fashion and attracted flocks of vampires which hov- 
ered in the shafts of light outdoors seeking their prey. 
The most common of these evening flyers were black 
coleoptera about a quarter of an inch long, which 
came by the million. Drawn by the rays from the 



lamps, they seemed possessed of an insane desire to 
fly down the lamp chimneys. Every now and then 
the room would be filled with nauseating fumes of 
cooking beetles, and the flame would be choked out 
by the mixed mass of carcasses, which would have 
to be cleaned out in the dark amid the deadly assaults 
of the mosquitoes, which had been waiting for just 
such an opportunity. 

A rare and always interesting insect novelty were 
the phasmidae. It sometimes happened that one 
would watch the flight of a long and heavy fly headed 
directly at the climbing stephanotis or the shrubs of 
frangipanni. The eye might have noted the place of 
coming to rest, but as soon as the flight was ended 
the insect seemed to vanish, for the most careful search 
was unable to disclose anything but dead twigs. It 
was one of the stick insects and a fine example of pro- 
tective mimicry. An even better example was the 
less rarely seen leaf insect. I have been able to see 
but few of these at rest. It has happened that I have 
watched them in flight and have waited eagerly to 
note the place in which they would land in order to get 
a better view of the mimicry. At distances of from 
fifteen to twentv feet the insects have taken alarm, the 
leaflike wings have ceased to beat and have remained 
outstretched. Stopping in its flight, the insect has 
slowly fluttered to the ground, and it has been im- 
possible to recognize it in the grass, so deceptive was 
its resemblance to the tender twigs of the ylang-ylang. 

In the chronic revolutions of Samoan politics I 
knew a man who had no hesitation in going unarmed 











among the troops of the Samoan rebels, and the 
Malietoa forces who were just as bad. He was able to 
send budding rebellion back home again, and never 
seemed to think that he had been in any personal 
danger. But he shuddered at the Samoan spiders, al- 
though they are all as innocent as so many guinea 
pigs. One spider that ran over the houses at all 
times and everywhere was as good as a circus. It 
was a light-colored beast, about a quarter of an inch 
long. It built no nest or web, but was a hunter pure 
and simple. Its mode of capture was to stalk the 
flies when they came to rest on the walls. It would 
begin its hunting on a fly a yard or more away, and 
would slowly creep up on its victim with a nervous 
quiver that showed plainly the delight which the ani- 
mal took in its game. At the distance of rather less 
than a foot the spider would collect itself for the final 
rush and remain all in a tremble of excitement. When 
the fly turned its head away the spider would leap 
through the air, and seldom failed to catch the fly. 
It would puzzle any student to know how it was done, 
but I have seen these hunting spiders in a leap of a 
foot directly upward clear with ease an obstacle more 
than two inches high, and in the last of the flight 
swerve as much as three inches to one side to allow 
for movement of the fly after the spring had begun. 
Theoretically, the thing violates every known rule of 
mechanics, but so did the curve in pitching a base- 
ball when the college professors first began to study 
that paradox. The largest spider, and it is a very 
common one in Samoa, is a .gangling-legged monster 



that can hardly be covered by an ordinary saucer. It 
is smooth all over, the accident of having it fall on 
my hands having shown me that it is as smooth as 
velvet ; the eyes are closely grouped together, and in 
the sunlight blaze like gems, and in the dark there is 
a glitter from them that seems to show a phosphor- 
escent action of some sort. This spider looks bad, but 
it is perfectly harmless for all its grim appearance — 
in fact, the Samoan children play with them. It also 
spins no web. There are web spiders, all nocturnal, 
but I have never seen them. Their cords are often 
found stretched across the paths, and are tough 
enough to pull off the hat of the passer. 

Popular ideas credit all the tropics with the scor- 
pion. There are plenty in Samoa — little fellows about 
an inch long, and they may be found by rolling over 
any log or stone. They seldom sting, and when they 
do the wound is not so bad as the sting of the mos- 
quito. They abound in all boarded houses, but owing 
to their shy habits and nocturnal disposition they are 
seldom seen, and their only trace is the discovery of 
their slough, with the sting curled up in a menacing 

The centipede is very common — a dreaded neigh- 
bor. Charles Warren Stoddard has written of it as 
a disconnected chain of unpleasant circumstances. 
They are so numerous that it is never safe to thrust 
one's hand into the thatch of a Samoan house at any 
time. It is not uncommon for them to drop from the 
roofs of these houses to the floor in the midst of some 
of the evening deliberations of the native politicians. 



They hold the "atualoa" — the "long god" — in great 
fear, and such deliberations invariably adjourn until 
sure that the centipede has been destroyed. The sting 
is painful at the time and for days afterward ; but it 
is in no sense dangerous. These centipedes frequently 
exceed a foot in length, and each of the twenty-one 
segments is as large as a nickel. 

No house is ever free from the "unga" or hermit 
crabs, which make a fearsome racket at night as they 
carry their topheavy borrowed shells into all sorts of 
places where it was not meant that they should go. 
There seemed to be two distinct classes of them. For 
one class the limit of size seems to be the small uni- 
valve shell not bigger around than a quarter. In 
these the two claws are very nearly of the same size. 
The large hermits are a dozen times as big; the claws 
are disproportionate, and the larger can give a very 
sharp nip — one that the incautious meddler will not 
be likely to forget so long as the finger remains black 
and blue. They serve a useful end in domestic affairs, 
for they seek out and destroy the eggs of countless 
insect pests. 

Concerning the rats, known indifferently as "imoa," 
"isumu" and "iole" which Talolo introduced to me as 
a game bird, I may mention that the imoa gave me 
my first chance to be real funny in Samoan. 

I said to Tonga as she sat sewing by my side one 
day while I was studying out sentences in the lan- 
guage of the country, "Ua 'ai Samoa moa ma imoa." 

"Moi!" replied my maid, stopping to light her sev- 
enty-second cigarette for that day ; "that's so. I think 



so Samoa people she eat hen and eat rat. Samoa peo- 
ple fool people — never been circus and Chicago, ex- 
cept me." 

It had struck me as funny, that collocation of Sa- 
moans and moa hens and imoa rats. But I learned 
in time that Samoan is a tongue you cannot joke in. 
When you say a thing it is either the truth, which is 
contrary to the custom of the country, or else it is a 
lie and therefore a work of art ; but a jest is impossible. 

The bush is full of blue lizards — the pili. Every 
house is fairly alive with a smaller lizard — the mo'o — 
which is one of the geckoes with leaflike toes. They 
are little fellows about two inches long, prettily col- 
ored in a light and a dark shade of brown. They can 
run up a glass window pane quite as safely as the 
flies, on which they feed. They are very tame, and 
will run up the hand when stretched out toward them, 
and a sharp ear can catch their little cheeping cry 
when they are content with their surroundings. But 
when alarmed they are off like a flash of light, and 
will take the most reckless leaps. I have seen them 
land safely at the end of a twenty-foot jump. Yet 
when cornered they have no hesitation about snap- 
ping off the most of their tails. That was a mad- 
dening puzzle to my small cat. The sight of a mo'o 
anywhere was an immediate challenge to the kitten. 
She would immediately start on the hunt, for the most 
part a fruitless chase, for the little lizards could scuttle 
off faster than two cats. Yet when the kitten did suc- 
ceed in landing on the lizard there followed a scene of 
bewilderment. The mo'o invariably snapped off its 



tail, which was left wriggling in one part of the ve- 
randa, while the lizard ran off to a short distance and 
awaited developments. The kitten never failed to be 
puzzled by the remarkable circumstance — she never 
knew whether to catch the lizard or the tail. If the 
mo'o moved the kitten went for it ; but she always 
stopped short to keep an eye on the wriggles of the 
tail. As soon as she turned back to take care of the 
tail, the mo'o got in motion and had to be looked after. 
Hundreds of times I have watched the dilemma, and 
the ending was always the same — the lizard got away 
and the kitten had to be content with the bony tail. 
But there were lots of lizards about my house sprout- 
ing new tails. 




"Madam," said Captain Wilson most politely, "mad- 
am, I have come dripping wet from the sea to pro- 
test the schooner Lupe as she lies on the Matafanga- 
tele reef and her tackle and appurtenances. Likewise 
four Savages, which Cap'n Harry Smith said you could 
depend upon, and which you can't. Likewise and 
also, I protest Cap'n Harry Smith who said you could 
depend on them Savages and you can't do it, or else 
I wouldn't be here protesting them three things, the 
schooner and the Savages and Cap'n Harry Smith." 

Now all this sort of thing was manifestly consular 
business, and as such belonged to the masculine and 
official member of the household. It is not for a 
woman sitting on the veranda of the unofficial side of 
the Consulate at Apia to deal with protests of mariners, 
even though they do come dripping wet from the sea. 
All this was explained to Captain Wilson, who was 
leaving a pool of salt water on the veranda where he 
stood in a respectful attitude. He was told that he 
would have to await the return of the proper official, 
who just then was off in the boat in pursuit of some 
one of those wild nightmares of war which are the 
sum and substance of Samoan politics. But none of 



these considerations had any weight with the drenched 
mariner, he had come right out of the sea to protest, 
and nothing short of a protest would satisfy him. 
The only way to content him was to rummage through 
the rack of official blank forms to find a dusty and 
mildewed copy of Form No. 58, which is provided 
for mariners to protest on. Then by laying down 
a string of mats on the floor from the pool in which 
he stood on the veranda, a way was made by which 
he could come inside the office and sign his name, 
a laborious operation, but as satisfactory to himself 
as though the thing had been done in proper form. 
One may have cherished ideas of keeping floors neat 
and tidy, but it is impossible to prepare in advance 
for official calls of shipwrecked mariners just out of 
the sea in which they have been shipwrecked. That 
is one of the unusual states of affairs which would 
worry almost any housekeeper. Still it was in a sense 
flattering to see that the shipwrecked mariner was 
content to have his protest taken down by a woman 
not authorized to the performance of such duties of 
the consular service of the United States. 

When Captain Wilson had dissolved- himself out 
of the office, and the chain of mats had been thrown 
out on the grass to dry, he insisted on recounting his 
tale of marine disaster and the shattering of confidence 
recklessly placed in Cap'n Harry Smith. 

"Yes'm," continued Captain Wilson, "if you'll get 
your umbrella to keep the sun off and just step down 
on the beach here you can see the Lupe where she 
lies and where I protest her and her tackle and her 



appurtenances. You better fetch along that spyglass 
that was bought at Strutt's auction for three dollars, 
there may be three dollars' worth of seeing in it." 

Sure enough, when one stood just at the very verge 
of the sands it was possible to see a two-masted 
schooner high and dry on the reef a mile or so up the 
coast, and with the spyglass it was possible to make 
out more details of her shipwrecked condition. The 
glass was all right if only one had learned the knack 
of keeping it from coming apart at the joint ; so long 
as the big tube did not drop off from the little tube 
you could see several dollars' worth, even though the 
captain was doubtful about it. With a comprehensive 
sweep of his arm in that direction he repeated "There's 
the schooner Lupe and I protest her and her tackle 
and her appurtenances." Captain Wilson is not the 
only one who has found a sort of satisfaction in some 
complicated official formula. 

Then turning to a group of four natives who were 
sitting wet and impassive on the broken mast of the 
Trenton at the foot of the flagstaff, he repeated his 
statement that he protested "them Savages." That 
was one unfortunate feature of treasuring that broken 
piece of timber which is all that is left of the flag- 
ship wrecked in the great Apia hurricane. It was very 
nice to have a memento of the historic event, but the 
mast was a nuisance in that it provided a perch for 
all the idle Samoans to come and roost on, and a fair 
half the time was spent shooing them off. When 
Captain Wilson had protested Savages it created the 
impression that some dreadful deed had been done by 



the islanders. But the four on the mast were unmis- 
takably boys from Niue, or Savage Islanders. In 
the varied mixture of islanders about Apia it is al- 
ways possible to identify the Savage Islanders through 
their fondness for clothes ; others may be content 
with a lavalava, but the Niue boys rig themselves 
out in shirts and overalls with the very first wages 
they earn. Therefore, when the shipwrecked mariner 
protested four Savages he meant only his crew of 
Savage Islanders, whom he had set down there on 
the mast where he could keep them under his eye un- 
til he finished his business. 

Captain Wilson, who had just been wrecked, was 
some sort of a Finn, but at some time he had been 
naturalized in some American port and on that score 
felt himself authorized to do all his nautical busi- 
ness with the American Consulate. It turned out on 
further investigation that this assumption was inac- 
curate, for his wrecked schooner was not entitled to 
sail under the American flag. But the mysteries of 
the navigation laws of the United States are not in- 
cluded in any curriculum of feminine education, and 
mistakes are therefore pardonable. When Captain 
Wilson was not sailing he was the general mender of 
clocks for all Apia, a community habitually careless 
of time and inclined to be content if they find their 
clocks are keeping the same day when Captain 
O'Ryan fires a cannon at the pilot station at noon 
on Saturday so that the beach may know once a 
week what time it is. 

Despite the filling out of Form No. 58, there was 



nothing to show how the schooner was wrecked and 
where the responsibility of Cap'n Harry Smith en- 
tered into the disaster. That was a part of the narra- 
tive which the shipwrecked captain was only too 
anxious to disclose, for by it he expected to show that 
the responsibility for the loss did not lie on his 

He began by telling how he had been chartered by 
the German firm to go to windward for a cargo of 
copra which was ready to be brought down to Apia. If 
any keen intelligence discerns any slip in the nautical 
terms the blame is not to be laid on Captain Wilson, 
who was probably as accurate in the use of his marine 
dialect as a sailor is expected to be, it is rather due 
to the narrator's inability to keep a clear idea of di- 
rections at sea which chase around after the wind. 
In this case the impression was clear that the schooner 
was to go to the eastward islands of the archipelago, 
to Tutuila or to Manu'a, for in Samoa windward al- 
ways has that meaning. He went on to explain that 
because the wind blew against the course all day long 
it was necessary to make a start at night, when some- 
times there was a wind outside that would help him 
along several miles to the east before the tradewind 
began in the morning. There were other details about 
the need of making a quick trip of it and the bother 
he had in getting the Savages to sail the schooner 
for him. 

After all these details had been set out in full, for 
wet as he was, he would not omit a single item which 
had even the most remote bearing on his cruise which 



came so promptly to disaster, he then got to the point 
which introduced Cap'n Harry Smith and the cause 
of his difficulty hand in hand. 

"Along in the early part of the evening, madam," 
he continued the narrative of wreck, "me and Cap'n 
Harry Smith was discussing some points of sailing 
in these here waters and he was telling me about 
some of them harbors up to windward. Now I know 
a great deal more about them harbors than Cap'n 
Harry Smith does, but I didn't tell him so, wanting 
to be sociable, and it being my last night ashore with 
him. From time to time he would get up and have 
a look at the harbor and come back and say it was 
dead calm. Then that being so, him and me would 
have another one, and go on talking about points 
of sailing, for you've got to be mighty knowing when 
you're sailing up to windward in these islands. 
Along after 10 o'clock I began to look for the wind 
to get out of the harbor on, but there wasn't any wind 
and Cap'n Harry he says there never is any wind be- 
fore midnight, but I know better than that, and I 
know that 10 o'clock is the time to begin looking for 
the land breeze. Well the land breeze hadn't begun 
to blow just then, so me and Cap'n Harry took some 
more just to keep from dry waiting and then we be- 
gan to argue about it, me knowing all the time that 
he was wrong and him trying to make out that I 
never sailed about these islands as long as he had, 
and on that account wasn't entitled to know anything 
about the land breeze at night. We was perfectly 
sociable in our talk, for Cap'n Harry is a good fellow 



for all that there's lots of things he don't know about 
sailoring. When it got to be n o'clock, or maybe 
the least bit short of it, I went out looking for the 
land breeze, and Cap'n Harry Smith he sat back in 
his chair and told me it was a waste of time looking 
for it to set in until midnight. But I felt it a little 
fresh, not exactly a breeze, but a good sign it was 
going to come. So I told him to wet his finger and 
hold it up and then he'd see whether the land breeze 
always waited till midnight. That fixed him and he 
said that maybe it was a little bit earlier for just that 
once, and that any way a cool feeling on a finger 
wasn't enough to sail out of harbor on. So I sat 
down with him just to finish it up, for I was for going 
off to the schooner and beginning to get the 
anchor up. 

"Yes'm. Where was me and Cap'n Harry Smith 
all this time? Oh, part of the time at one place and 
part of the time at another along the beach. But 
when it came n o'clock they shut up for the night 
and so we finished off at my house, where I had to 
go for some of my things. As I was saying, for 
when there's been a wreck you've got to tell every- 
thing just as it was, I was for going off to the 
schooner. But Cap'n Harry kept on saying the wind 
was too light yet, and really it didn't amount to much, 
only to prove that land breezes do come before mid- 
night. So we sat down with what I happened to 
have in the house and Cap'n Harry he told me some 
more about the harbors to windward. By and by I 
was getting a little bit uneasy about getting off at 



all, for there was precious little wind, but Cap'n Harry 
he said that it was all right to leave it all to the Sav- 
ages, they'd know best of all and they knew where to 
find me when it was time to go. He said Savages 
was the sort you could depend on, for they make the 
best sailors of all these natives. Samoans are no good 
at all, they're too lazy, and they go to sleep on watch 
and you can't get them to do more than just so much. 
But he said he always took Savages for his crew and 
glad to get them, because you could depend on them 

"But how did the Lupe come to be wrecked on the 
Matafangatele reef? Why, that's what I'm telling 
you, ma'am. I've got to explain why I protest Cap'n 
Harry Smith and them Savages, for he said you could 
depend on them and I've proved that you can't. So 
when he was telling me how the Savages was the 
most reliable natives and you could always depend 
on them — which you can't — the head one of them 
came along to the house. That's him, the biggest of 
the lot, him that's leaning up against the flagpole fast 
asleep. He said that the wind would come pretty 
soon and he had come for me. 

"Then Cap'n Harry Smith, what does he say? He 
says 'them Savages is the best natives in the South 
Sea, you can always depend on them.' Well, it did 
look that way. So I owned up like a man, for I don't 
mind saying so when another man happens to know 
more than me, though as a general thing I know as 
much about these islands as Cap'n Harry Smith, for 
all he's been here so long. So we had another just 



to say good-bye on, and I got into the boat and the 
Savage rowed me out to the schooner. 

"That land breeze was light, just enough to get the 
schooner out of the passage and out far enough away 
from the reef so's she would be safe. I was going to 
make an all-night job of it, and keep the helm while 
it was dark, but the breeze was so very light and I 
was sleepy. Then I thought of what Cap'n Harry 
Smith was saying about them Savages that you could 
always depend on them. And I began to think that 
perhaps he was right, for he had been cruising about 
the islands so much longer than I had that perhaps 
he knew best, for I'm not one of those men who stick 
to their own opinion just because it's theirs ; no, 
ma'am, I stick to my own way of thinking because I 
know I'm right. Anyway, I had been hard at work 
all day and that made me sleepy, and then I got some 
more sleepy discussing them points of sailing with 
Cap'n Harry Smith, so I made up my mind I'd de- 
pend on them four Savages for just the one night so 
as to try them. So I called the head man of the Sav- 
ages and I told him we was bound to windward and 
I was going to turn in and I depended on him to see 
that the schooner went to windward all night long. 
I did not say a word to him about Cap'n Harry 
Smith's saying that they could be depended on, for it 
might have made them too set up to do any work if 
they knew that Cap'n Harry gave them the best name 
in the South Seas after he'd been cruising about the 
islands so many years. But I just told him I de- 
pended on all four of them and then I went to sleep. 



"The next thing I knew was this morning when 

a raft of Samoans came piling down the companion 

and into the cabin. I was some surprised, for I 

thought they was Savages when I shipped them, but 

I see I must have been mistaken along of all the 

other things I had to do so that I could get off as 

soon as the firm wanted me to go. While I was 

puzzling out how I could come to make a mistake 

like that, signing Samoans on articles for Savages, 

then it came over me that Cap'n Harry Smith thought 

they was Savages, too, and I knew I had a good joke 

on him and- his telling me that Savages was the only 

natives you can depend upon. Pretty soon I noticed 

that the schooner was lying pretty still. Then I went 

on deck mighty quick, and I see we had gone clean 

right atop of the reef, and the tide going out we was 

high and dry on the coral. Of course, being so tired 

I couldn't be expected to wake up when we struck; 

you see I was depending on them Savages the way 

Cap'n Harry Smith said you could. But come to 

look for them they was all fast asleep on deck, and 

they didn't know we was wrecked until I went around 

and kicked each one in turn. You see they got hold 

of some gin I had aboard in case of cramps or any 

kind of sickness you're likely to get when you're out 

at sea. They got hold of it and then they got drunk 

and let the schooner jump the reef, and they didn't 

even call me, but just slept through it all like logs. 

And before the Samoans thought to wake us up and 

let us know we were wrecked somebody stole all the 

sails and rigging and everything else, and then they 



left us to wade ashore. But I don't mind that so 
much as I do them Savages, Cap'n Harry Smith was 
so sure you could depend on them. Because you 
can't depend on them and I've proved it; that's why 
I want to protest them Savages ; likewise and also, 
Cap'n Harry Smith which said so." 

Now there is all the narrative there ever was in con- 
nection with the wreck of the schooner Lupe, which 
climbed over a Samoan reef and stuck there until suc- 
cessive gales tore her timbers apart. For a ship- 
wreck it may, perhaps, lack the thrill of dashing waves 
and drowning mariners and things going by the board, 
if that be the correct way of putting it. There are a 
plenty of other shipwrecks which have all that sort 
of thing, this is only a nice, cosy little shipwreck de- 
signed to illustrate the great truth that Savages can't 
be depended on, even if Cap'n Harry Smith does 
say so. 









The peculiar conditions of the South Seas, where 
a mere handful of white men form an islet in a sea 
of brown-skinned savagery, and the Caucasians are 
forced to depend upon the resident functionaries of 
their nations for every relation in life, operated in 
Samoa as they would be able to do nowhere else, to 
bring each of the several items in this record of matri- 
monial complication in turn before the Consul by 
whom the tangle was first ensnarled, and later taken 
apart, at least as far as it was possible to separate 
the several threads. 

Johnny Milco was as meek and mild a beachcomber 
as could be found in Apia from the pilot station on 
Matautu Point to the three-roomed palace of King 
Malietoa on Mulinu'u. He had his trade as a car- 
penter, and he worked at it when the rare chance 
offered. Like everybody else, he growled at the hard 
times on the beach and drew regretful comparisons 
with what things used to be. Like everybody else, 
for all his growling he stopped in Apia and was to 
all seeming content with the hard times and the in- 
frequency of the jobs which called for exercise of 



saw, hammer and plane. And unlike many of the 
others, he was not to be found about the public houses, 
and was never heard in the noisy brawls with which 
the many pothouse statesmen solved the great diffi- 
culties of the consular administration of Samoa under 
the tripartite control. Apart from his laziness, which 
might after all have been climatic, he was a fairly good 
but unassuming citizen of Apia, and had brought no 
discredit upon the United States, from which he 
hailed. On the beach he was known as Johnny Milco 
of America, but on the records of the American Con- 
sulate he was registered as John Milcovich, a native 
of Ragusa, and naturalized some years before in Chi- 
cago, in testimony whereof he had deposited his citi- 
zen papers for safekeeping in the Consulate. The sim- 
ple alias was manifestly a mere matter of yielding to 
the convenience of others who would not take the 
trouble to enunciate the longer Dalmatian name, 
and might well pass unnoticed in comparison with 
ether known aliases where the motive was neither 
so simple nor so lacking in discredit. In brief, Johnny 
Milco was a simple, easy-going and poorly educated 
citizen, and there was no reason at all why he should 
not command the best offices of his Consul in the 
events which it was his ill luck to crowd into a few 
weeks of tropical life. 

He called one morning at the Consulate and asked 
if there were any American papers in. For almost 
an hour he read the latest of the files. Then he 
touched upon the ever-vital question in Apia as to 
whether the United States were thinking of sending 



to Apia that ship of war always so longed for and 
always so long in coming. At last and by devious 
traverses he approached the business on which he 
had come, that being no less than his marriage, which 
in the state of the law in the islands could be per- 
formed by no one but his Consul. His own papers 
were all right, he gave satisfactory answers to the 
questions which in an affair of so much gravity it 
was proper to put, and it was determined that there 
was no obstacle on his part to entering the holy 

When asked as to the party of the second part, the 
necessary lady, in fact, he displayed a certain degree 
of hesitation and finally asked if it were really neces- 
sary to bring a lady's name into the case. It took 
no little argument to convince him that while it 
argued a chivalrous disposition to try to avoid bring- 
ing a lady into legal matters by name, still in the case 
of matrimony it was absolutely unavoidable and was 
strictly provided for in the Constitution. As though 
dragging the information from the innermost recesses 
of his bashfulness, he acknowledged that he was to 
marry Miss Annie Dace, who lived on the next island 
in the kingdom, but, for the purposes of the union, 
was now in Apia with her father. Being examined 
as to her civil status, which was necessary for the 
record in the office, he seemed much at a loss and 
wound up by saying that her father would have to 
settle those points. Stepping out on the veranda he 
called out and Dace was seen to extricate himself 
from the shade of a cocoanut tree beneath which he 



had been dozing throughout Milco's leisurely prose- 
cution of his business. 

Dace was just the opposite of his prospective son- 
in-law, keen and energetic in answering. He spoke 
up quickly in his statement of consent to the pro- 
jected union, but as to his daughter's civil status he 
was clearly in a fog. She was his daughter by a 
Samoan whom he had married, therefore she was of 
his nationality, but what that was he would like to 
find out. He had been born in New Brunswick, down 
among the Blue Noses. No, he wasn't British, and 
he would tell why. When he was no more than a 
year old his folks had moved to Cape Ann and set- 
tled there, and when he became 21 he took out his 
papers in Boston. 

There it was again. He could not produce his 
papers. Because why? Because he had lost every- 
thing down to his shirt in a wreck off the capes of 
the Delaware. But he had served in the United States 
Navy in these waters, where he could easily prove it 
by almost any of the old hands on the beach. He did 
not have what you might call his discharge papers, 
because he had not stopped to get them ; in fact, he 
had slipped over the side and swum ashore. He sup- 
posed you would call him a deserter. Still, he did 
not want to be put down as a Samoan. Even if the 
law did make him one, he wasn't no nigger. But 
when endless repetition of the law showed him that 
a deserter must lose his American citizenship and that 
he had renounced his British citizenship in Boston, 
and must perforce now be a citizen of the country 



in which he had lived for years, he consented to 
withdraw his objections so long as the marriage went 
on, even if his girl was put down as a Samoan, which 
she wasn't, no more than any American half-caste. 

That evening the bridal couple appeared at the 
Consulate and were duly joined in the holy estate 
of matrimony, with the promise solemnly made that 
death alone should them part. They asked the con- 
sular family to attend the supper, Dace assuring 
everybody that it was going to be a bang-up spread, 
and that Johnny Milco had given orders to Ah Sue 
to spare nothing to eat and drink. But if the Con- 
sul restricted his connection with the affair simply to 
making the couple one, there was no lack of guests 
at the supper, and it was generally commended as 
being just about one of the best things of the sort in 
the memory of the beach. 

A fortnight or three weeks later Milco again drifted 
into the Consulate in his aimless way. In answer to 
the natural question, he said his wife was pretty well, 
he guessed ; there never was anything much the mat- 
ter with her. She was down in Tutuila now. 

"Down in Tutuila, man," the Consul asked. "When 
did she go?" 

"Oh, about two or three weeks ago, she went along 
down in the schooner with Cap'n Grant." 

"But Grant sailed the night you were married, 
didn't he?" again asked the Consul. 

"Yes, sir, that's the time she sailed, and she got a 
good land breeze after midnight, which must have set 
her well eastward." 



Little by little and piecemeal Milco told his story. 
After the spread Annie went into the back room on 
some errand. Milco stood at the door saying good- 
by to the guests, and the last one to leave was Grant, 
who stopped to take a last drink with the happy hus- 
band. When Milco went into the back room he did 
not see the girl he had just married. He leaned out of 
the window looking out over the harbor and heard 
the clank of windlass and pawl as the sailors were 
getting the anchor on board the schooner whose sails 
he could discern in dusky outline. The click of oars 
sounding through the stillness of the night served to 
track Grant's way from shore to deck. The head 
sails were spread to the land breeze, and the schooner 
stood out through the pass in the reef and so to sea. 
While Milco was still looking from the window and 
idly wondering what had become of his wife, a Sa- 
moan girl beached her canoe just beneath him on the 
beach. She told him that she had just returned from 
putting Annie on the schooner, and that Annie had 
run away from him with Cap'n Grant. Now, what 
he wanted to know was whether there wasn't some 
law for him. The Consul assured him that the statutes 
were fairly bristling with points of law which could 
be stuck into the recreant ones, and appointed a con- 
ference when Grant should return to the harbor. 

In a few days the schooner, a regular trader be- 
tween the islands, returned, and Grant and Milco 
were summoned to meet that evening at the Consu- 
late for the purpose of seeing what was to be done. 
It was one of those situations which might lead to 



shooting, and there was the chance of some drama- 
tic outcome. Each of the men came promptly at the 
time appointed, and each brought with him a friend 
to see fair play. After laying down the law in all its 
bearings, the Consul, cautioning them against any 
violent act, left them in consultation, to see if they 
could not make some settlement without the ex- 
pense of litigation. After a half hour the sound of 
high voices showed that harmony was not resting on 
their councils. The Consul hastily rejoined them, 
only to find that Milco had announced his ultimatum, 
and Grant had refused to treat with him on that 
proposition at all. 

"See, Mr. Consul," said Milco, "this man, Cap'n 
Grant of the schooner, he comes up here to my wed- 
ding, and he sees you marry me and Annie, so he 
knows we're sure enough married. Then he goes 
down with us all to my house and he eats my cake 
that the Chinaman baked, and he eats all the other 
good things and he drinks the wine and the gin and 
the Scotch, and he stops and takes another drink 
with me because he is just going to sail and I'm just 
married, and then he runs off with my wife out of the 
back window in a native canoe and sails away with 
her to Tutuila, and she doesn't come at all back to 
me. Am I a fool? Do I marry my wives for other 
men? No, sir, I do not. And now when I ask him 
to play fair he won't do it. I tell him all about the 
things he had to eat and to drink, and I tell him that 
it is fair he should pay the Chinaman half the money 
for that spread, and he won't. Isn't that fair? Must 



I pay all the money for suppers for other men to 
run away with my wives? I pay half, he pay half, 
that's fair." 

Eventually it had to come to a divorce suit, and 
that was held in the Consulate. In the course of the 
procedure it developed that the gentle Annie had a 
husband already whose claims were prior to any pro- 
posed by Milco or surreptitiously established by 
Grant. Poor Milco was plunged into the depths of 
a quandary when it became necessary to dismiss his 
suit for divorce and sue for the annulment of a mar- 
riage initially void. He was lost in the mazes of the 
law ; between his debt to the Chinaman for the sup- 
per and his wish for a divorce he could not see where 
he was going to land. It was proved that Annie had 
married a year before in the jurisdiction of the Con- 
sul of another nation, and her husband was trading 
in a group near by. That sufficed to set Milco free 
from his first plunge into matrimony. 

But he was not yet content. He had evidently set 
out to get married and married he was clearly deter- 
mined to be. 

The next attempt was directed at the daughter of a 
half-caste and was apparently a promising venture. 
This girl, too, had once been married, but the death 
of her husband and her widowhood were matters 
about which there could be no dispute and no mis- 
understanding. The arrangements for the wedding 
progressed as well as could be expected when the girl 
was on a distant island several hundred miles away. 
But her father was on the spot and he was satisfied 




Ailolo, a Lauli c i belle 


with the offer, and came up to the Consulate to as- 
sure himself beyond a doubt that Milco was now free 
to marry. Word was sent to the girl at her distant 
home to come down and be married, and the cutter 
which carried the message was now due on its re- 
turn with the precious cargo. Milco came to the 
Consul to secure his services for the second time 
within three months, and with evident satisfac- 
tion announced that not he, but the girl's family, were 
now to provide the supper. 

On the day set for the wedding the cutter came 
bowling into port with a fresh trade breeze along to- 
ward sunset, but no wedding party came to the Con- 
sulate that night. 

The next day a native policeman brought before the 
Consul a most dishevelled and disreputable Milco. 
That he had been drinking hard was clear; that his 
soul was bursting with a distress too great for his 
maudlin utterance was no less plain. A few hours 
of confinement put him into condition to recount his 

The cutter had left Manua with' the girl aboard, in 
obedience to her father's command to come down 
to Apia and be married. But on the way it had 
stopped at Tutuila for cargo. Tutuila seemed to have 
an irresistible attraction for the Milco brides, and so 
it proved in this case. A young man trading on that 
island was in need of a wife, and chanced just in the 
nick of time to be at the port where the cutter called 
in. It did not take the widow long to marry there at 
her own pleasure and without considering Milco, who 



was awaiting her coming in distant Apia. When the 
skipper of the cutter brought this news into Apia, Milco 
fairly broke loose, and from the meekest of men be- 
came violent. In the first place he deliberately got 
himself just as drunk as he could possibly be ; then 
he started out to hold the skipper of the cutter per- 
sonally responsible for the wrong. Arming himself 
with six bottles of brandy and a six-shooter, he 
boarded the cutter with the announced purpose of 
killing her master, but with which of his deadly 
weapons was not made clear. When he found the 
master had gone ashore he settled down to wait for 
him and passed his time with the liquor. Arrived at 
a point of stupefaction when it was possible to ap- 
proach him with safety, he was arrested, disarmed, 
and brought before the authorities. In this last vent- 
ure he had but made the mistake of courting, instead 
of the girl, her father. 

The jeers of the beachcombers were too much for 
him to bear up under. He took an early opportunity 
of sailing away from the group, left the South Seas, 
where matrimony proved such an uncertainty, and no 
one knows whether he has on a third attempt suc- 
ceeded in marrying or has given it up as a bad job. 




While this is a story of good hunting on the moun- 
tain peaks of Samoa, it is only proper that it should 
begin where the event itself really did begin — with the 
pigs of Vaiala on the ocean beach of Upolu. If the 
village swine had not put the idea into Talolo's active 
brain I might never have had the moonlight shooting 
at Suatele's clearing, on the very top of the moun- 
tain over which I had often watched the frigate birds 
disappearing every evening as the sun went down. 

The Samoan pigs, native to the soil and in several 
particulars different from the civilized hog, were a 
great nuisance. Even a six-wire fence was of no kind 
of use in keeping them out of the compound which 
surrounded the Consulate ; in fact, the closeness of the 
lower wires seemed only to attract them to the more 
earnest effort to scrape through the barrier. As an 
abatement of the nuisance, I took a leaf from Robin- 
son Crusoe's book and planted a hedge. My hedge 
was planted just as the great exile's was; five-foot 
stakes were driven into the ground. Within a week 
they were all growing in the most equatorial luxur- 
iance, and before the month was over the hedge was 
a wall of green already crowded with flowers. It 
was an interesting feat in horticulture ; it availed to 



restrain the mature and elderly porkers, but the little 
pigs scraped through and laughed at me. It is really 
exasperating to be laughed at by a young hog. I 
found by actual measurement that a pig two feet 
long could scramble between two stakes in my hedge 
four inches apart. Just how this happened I must 
leave to anatomists to explain. 

Whenever official life and Samoan affairs seemed 
out of kilter, I called in Salatemu, because she seemed 
to be the most permanent and abiding of those whom 
I learned to recognize as the wives of Patu, the portly 
chief of Vaiala village, which lay about all sides of 
my compound, except the seaward aspect. She 
looked the situation over and referred the subject to 
her lord and master. Patu put his administrative 
brain to work upon the problem, and finally settled 
it. The tabu which he had set for all Samoans on 
the premises should be extended to all pigs as well. 
The owners of pigs should be notified that my prem- 
ises were sacred, and any pigs found trespassing were 
to be killed ruthlessly. I have often wondered if Patu 
meant that I was entitled to shoot his trespassing Sa- 
moans as well as their pigs. At any rate, I never 
tried it, for it was so dreadfully easy to stir up an inter- 
national complication in that worrisome kingdom. 
The only stipulation that Patu made was the provision 
that I was to allow one of the villagers to enter the 
compound for the purpose of removing any pig which 
I might shoot. Thereupon Vaiala dined with great 
glee on the assassinated pork. I have some reason 
to suspect that the boys in Vaiala organized a system 



of stampeding the young- pigs of the Matautu village, 
a quarter-mile along the beach, driving them into 
my compound for me to shoot and then holding 
their own feasts over the delicacy. To'omalatai, the 
one-handed chief of that neighboring community, 
made complaint that such a reprehensible game was 
being played. The only answer he got was that any 
pig in the garden was a pig shootable, and therefore 
shot, for close watching had convinced the Samoans 
that I never missed a shoat among my struggling 

One morning while we were at breakfast, my own 
particular boy, Tanoa, came to me breathless with 
the whispered warning, "Tam'aita'i e, manuvaefa e toln 
i le lotoa" conveying the information that three 
"four-legged animals" were in the garden, for Sa- 
moan courtesy will not admit of using "pua'o," the 
name of so vile an animal as the pig, in speaking to a 
superior. Tanoa had brought my single-barreled 
Winchester shotgun, already loaded, and two extra 
shells. The first pig was easy, for he stood and 
snouted at me. The other two were better shots, for 
the fate of the first pig sent them careering around in 
wild commotion, and it was quick work to break down 
the gun and reload. The last pig was killed just as 
he was struggling in the hedge, and another minute 
would have taken him beyond my right to slaughter. 
The usual shout arose in the village at the prospect 
of baked pork for dinner, and little Fuatino promptly 
appeared for the purpose of dragging out the slain, 
a considerable task for so small a girl. 



After the commotion was over and I had settled 
down in my shady corner on the veranda, I was sur- 
prised by a warlike figure with a long gun sitting on 
the wrecked mast of the old warship Trenton, which 
lay at the foot of the flagstaff. It was my young friend 
Talolo, making a front after his own fashion. When 
he felt that he had produced the impression he sought 
to make, he came through the gate and took his seat 
on the floor of the veranda with his customary polite 
salutations. The gun he carefully stood under the 
consular coat of arms. Somehow, in his mind, that 
seemed to make it official and proper. 

"What are you going to do with the gun, Talolo?" 
i asked. "Tau le tauaf Are you going to fight the 

"Please, no." The lad seemed hurt that his inten- 
tions were misunderstood. "This the good season ; no 
war in good season ; bimeby the bad season come, then 
fight the war. That my shootgun. When I fight the 
war I have head-chopping knife and big rifle-gun and 
kill rebels. Mebbe Patu he rebel perhaps, then I kill 
the government. Always fight in rainy season, the 
Vaipalolo. You want go shotting for me for you to- 
night ; go shotting pe'a?" 

Any one who has passed a sleepless night listening 
to the vampires or flying foxes quarreling in the 
mango trees when the fruit was ripening would be 
glad to go on an expedition of revenge and extermina- 
tion, or, as Talolo worded it, "To go shotting pe'a." 

But lately there had been few vampires about the 
beach. The manager of one of the large German 



olantations had drawn on the resources of science and 
had inoculated them with the germs of mice typhoid, 
and they had died off very completely. But Talolo 
said the sickness had not extended back into the bush, 
and there were just as many as ever on the moun- 
tains where the berries were now ripening - . 

"Fa'amolemole, Tama'ita'i," continued Talolo, 
"smooth out the wrinkles of your heart, lady, I give 
for you for me my shootgun in love." 

I had to spend a great part of my time in turning 
down Talolo's loving gifts, for he was an adept in the 
Samoan art of making presents in order to receive ten- 
fold in return. The gift of his "shootgun" would mean 
only that I should give him my own light Winches- 
ter. There were several reasons why I shouldn't do 
that. One was that I should be helpless with a muz- 
zle-loader "made in Germany" and with the bore of 
a lead pencil. The other was that the Consuls visited 
heavily any traffic with the natives in firearms, and 
as one of the few white women in this outpost of 
civilization among the savages, I had no wish to add 
to the dangers of life. What these might become, I 
had already had a taste of in the last rainy season, 
when I was left alone in the house with a hundred 
stand of rifles, and Muliufi and his crowd of rebels 
had surrounded the place from midnight to dawn, hop- 
ing to get the weapons, yet afraid to face my rifle, 
as I patroled the veranda against them. 

But savage etiquette prescribed that I should look 
the odd gun all over and appear to return it reluctantly 
as too rich a gift for me to receive. After careful in- 



spection, I gave the "shootgun" back to Talolo and 
made him happy by the announcement that I would 
give him a tin of powder, a box of caps and a supply 
of shot for his use on our trip after vampires that 
night, "as my servant shooting food for me," which 
is a way of getting around the law which even Consuls 
have been known to wink at. Thus for about the 
thousandth time Talolo got not only more than he 
deserved, but twice as much as he expected. I knew, 
and he knew that I knew, that all of this provision 
he could save out would be used for the making of 
Mauser cartridges for the next war. But that is 

As our expedition was a hard one, I needed more 
assistance than Talolo could give, for I knew that I 
should be out all night after the vampires, which in 
other lands would be regarded rather as carrion than 
as game. Our shooting ground was eight miles away, 
nearly 4,000 feet nearer the sky and accessible only 
by a difficult trail. Accordingly, I must have Tanoa, 
whose affectionate middle-aged heart would be broken 
if I should count him out of any of my adventures. 
He was willingness personified, and could be of as- 
sistance if only he understood what was wanted. My 
maid, Tonga, was also to be of my party. Between 
them a sufficiency of supplies could be taken to meet 
my needs, and also to have some presents for the 
chief Suatele, at whose mountain-top home we should 
pass the night. 

Talolo and Tanoa were sent on ahead with orders 
to await us at the end of the road, some three miles 



inland, with a boy to bring back my horse and cart. 
At noon Tonga and I, with the provisions, set out in 
the cart. 

At the end of the road there was no gradual cessa- 
tion of the means of travel. The road cut itself off 
square at the edge of unbroken jungle, and all that 
was left was the narrowest kind of a trail, where the 
bare feet of Samoans kept down the weeds which 
otherwise would soon obliterate the stony path long 
ago marked out as the Ala Sopo, the "cross-over 
road." It is little more than a foot in width, nothing 
but jagged lumps of lava, which may be easy enough 
for the tough bare feet of Samoans, but difficult for 
any shod foot. As usual in the islands, it follows 
the highest crest of the ridges. And it is hot — how 
hot can only be appreciated by one who is familiar 
with the cool shade of the American woods. Over- 
head and all around the monster trees interlace their 
obscuring leaves, and branch is tied to branch with 
long lianas. High overhead is a thick green ceiling 
which cuts off the light of the sun and lets all the 
heat sift through into green sweltering arcades, where 
no breeze ever penetrates. From the leaves above 
the moisture patters down on the leaves beneath, and 
as one mounts toward the summit the sudden after- 
noon showers come pelting down. Not a bird is ever 
seen in these solitudes. The mournful cooing of the 
vianutangi dove faintly echoes along the tangle of 
trunks, but the bird itself is on the upper surface of 
the canopy, which the eye cannot pierce; the lupe 
pigeon sometimes sounds his long roll and Talolo 



fruitlessly points his empty "shootgun," but he knows 
that at this time of day he can see no game. In the 
path the muffled rustling of soggy leaves gives token 
of the presence of the blue pili lizards scuttering out 
from underfoot. Talolo does not mind the pili when 
they are underfoot, but he takes all a boy's delight in 
telling how his mother's brother was walking on this 
very Ala Sopo and a pili dropped on him from a tree 
and he died and then turned blue, for that is the super- 
stition. And Tanoa tells weird tales of the aitu, 
ghost devils, that are known to haunt this spot. There 
is the lady devil who lies in wait for handsome young 
men to rub noses with them and then they die. There 
is So'oalo, who nets men and women from his tia or 
stone hunting platform which we must pass, just as 
a century ago he netted lupe. His body is buried on 
the very summit of Mount Vaea, but his soul has 
never found rest. Some of the tales pass my com- 
prehension of the Samoan, but Tonga is ready to 
translate for me. "Fool man," she says, by way of 
comment on the wild tales of the woodland demons ; 
because she has traveled, because she has been to 
America with Barnum's circus and the Midway 
Plaisance, she would have me think that these old tales 
have no terrors for her. "Fool man," she says of 
Tanoa, but her lips are blue and her teeth are chat- 
tering, and she keeps close to me. The circus and 
the Midway cannot altogether destroy the faith of a 

We pass the tia of So'oalo in safety without be- 
ing netted, we hear the roar of the Holy Cataract of 



the Vaisingano and escape the black-boy cannibals 
who have run away from the German plantations and 
have made their wild abode near that waterfall. We 
reach the bank of one of the confluent brooks of that 
stream and sit down to rest in a little open space, 
where my Samoans recover their spirits sufficiently 
to eat a tin of salmon apiece and to point out to me 
the path of the crowing snake, and speculate on the 
length of time since he last passed that way. Then 
on again up the steep mountain, until we reach the 
flat mile of summit of the pass. It rained yesterday ; 
it is raining now; it will rain to-morrow; it always 
rains by daylight here, and the mountain top is a 
sour morass feeding the rivers that run north into 
Apia harbor, and those that run south on the other 
slope to meet the sea in Safata Bay and at Siumu. 
The last stretch is the worst ; the going is something 
frightful, now striding from one slippery root to an- 
other, and now missing the footing and plunging 
waist deep into yellow mud. There is just a mile of 
this, the Palapala Tele, which means the big muds. 
Every step is a burden of mire or the risk of a sprained 
ankle; it is just as hard for the Samoans as for me. 
At the further side of the morass we can look down 
for one brief glimpse on the long slope of jungle to 
the Southern Sea, the first view of the whole trip. 
Just here a dry trail picks itself out of the mud and 
makes off toward the east. A few minutes bring us 
to a clearing at the head of a picturesque valley with 
a waterfall dashing spray over the scene. At the end 
of the path is a ten-foot trunk of timber, half that 



in diameter, a thatched shed roofing it over to keep 
the rain out of its hollowed-out interior. All fatigue 
forgot, Talolo rushes onward and beats on the log 
with a stick, evidently trimmed for that purpose. The 
soft, yet distinct, notes of this wooden drum ring out 
over miles of mountainside to advise Suatele that vis- 
itors have arrived whose rank entitles them to smite 
his drum. 

The house lies just beyond, the only native house 
in all Samoa which has its sides closed in. Here lives 
Suatele on the Tuasivi, the backbone of the mountain. 
It is right that his house should be closed in, for it is 
cold at this altitude, and when one comes from the 
sea it is hard to bear the lower temperature. But 
Talolo finds some dry wood and Tanoa gets out dry 
matches from my rubber-cased traveling bag, and 
soon we have a hot fire crackling in the open fire- 
box in the middle of the floor. It seems odd to write 
of the comforts of a bright fire in the tropics, but the 
chill of the Tuasivi is too great to bear in soggy cloth- 
ing. Tonga lets fall a screen, behind which I may 
change into dry garb, and then, as I lie on the only 
raised bed that can be found in any Samoan house, 
she kneads me from head to foot after the ancient Sa- 
moan fashion of "lomilomi," which is the most per- 
fect of all massages, and the tired feeling leaves me 
altogether. Soon after this is completed, Suatele 
comes back from his work in answer to the summons 
of the drum, and extends the courtesy of his moun- 
tain home. Savage though he is, it would be hard to 
find any man more polite in every little one of the 



oftentimes wearisome details of Samoan etiquette to a 
guest. There is none in all Samoa who can compare 
with him in this punctilio except Mata'afa and 
Tupuola of Amaile. From the mystery of Samoan 
housekeeping he sets food before us, cold yams and 
taro, a fish toasted in its leaf wrapper and a piece of 
pork cut straight across the back behind the shoul- 
ders, which is the proper dainty for those of rank. 
Tanoa, already trained in foreign cooking, has warmed 
a tin of beans and beef and salmon for the people, to- 
gether with a pot of chocolate, which all appreciate. 
The first duty of the occasion is complete when I 
have overborne all of Suatele's polite objections and 
have induced the chief to share my meal. When we 
have finished and the water for the washing of our 
hands has been passed, his people and mine cluster 
about the abundant supply and make their meal with 
Tonga as hostess of the feast. 

It rains steadily till the moonrise, but at 8 o'clock 
the clouds suddenly vanish, not breaking away, but 
sinking down the slope to the lower levels and to the 
coast. The moon, just past the full, makes the scene 
as light almost as the day. It is time for our vampire 
hunting. Talolo has his remarkable German "shoot- 
gun" with its thread-like bore. I am armed with the 
only weapon I ever cared to use in that trying cli- 
mate, a light, single-barreled Winchester. Tanoa has 
brought another of my breechloaders, which at my or- 
der he exchanges for Suatele's muzzle-loader, so that 
the chief may have better sport. Tonga takes charge 
of all the ammunition except the shells. I think she 



intends to keep strict watch over its use in the hope 
of saving as much as possible wherewith to make 
cartridges for her warrior husband to use in the 
next war. 

We have not far to go, only to the clearing outside 
the house. There is fruit growing there, and where 
fruit grows the flying foxes gather. They are there 
ahead of us, the night is filled with their squealing. 
Suddenly Suatele gently touches my arm to direct me 
toward the moon. The vampire was out of range, but 
for the moment the scene lasted it was a marvelous 
picture. The great bat was soaring somewhere be- 
tween me and the moon, and for a second or more 
was outlined fairly within the bright disk of radiance. 
Every detail was in perfect silhouette, even to the 
eager head and snapping jaws, and the claws at the 
last joint of the wings seemed tc catch on the very 
edge of the moon. It was only a glimpse, but while 
it lasted it was a perfect picture. 

When the shooting began it was evident that Talolo 
had, through some mischance, told the truth as to 
the number of vampires on the Tuasivi. Really, I 
do the lad an injustice ; he could not avoid lying about 
the ordinary affairs of life on the beach, but his bush 
information was always accurate. Talolo and Tanoa 
stalked their game and took none but pot-shots at the 
bats when feeding. Suatele tried to imitate me and 
shoot them on the wing, but without much success, 
and it was hard to say which caused him the more 
chagrin, the missing the vampire or the waste of so 
precious a commodity as powder is to the Samoans. 



In a little more than an hour's shooting we killed 
three-score bats to four guns, and it was all done 
without leaving our stands. In size they averaged 
from three to four feet of wing spread, only one fall- 
ing as low as thirty inches, and several spreading over 
fifty inches. The bodies of these large ones were 
about the size of black and tan terriers. They take 
close shooting, for a charge of shot merely through 
the wing does little damage. 

When our game was brought back to Suatele's 
house it was at once cleaned and skinned. As fast as 
each bat was dressed it was stuffed with leaves, tightly 
wrapped in leaves of another plant and buried. This, 
it was explained, was necessary to prepare them for 
food, as otherwise the taste would be too rank to be 
borne. As the rats abound on the mountain and 
have a lively appetite for meat of all sorts, it was nec- 
essary to set a watch over this temporary cold stor- 
age of the vampires we had shot. As Talolo em- 
phatically declared they were "Good for eat for me for 
you," it was quite essential that they should not be 
stolen by the rodent marauders. 

My tramp had been such a hard one, and the cool 
night was so unusual a luxury, that I was fast asleep 
long before our game had been disposed of, and I 
slept soundly even without the steady roar of the 
surf breaking on the reef, to which I had become ac- 
customed at my seaside home. It hardly seemed that 
I had slept at all when Tonga roused me in the gray 
of the dawn to come out and listen to the song of 
the ma'oma'o, which is silent except at that hour. 



There is no bird note that can compare with the 
beauty of this mountain bird's morning song. It fills 
the jungle valleys with trills and roulades of melody 
for five minutes at a time, of a plaintive composition 
that carries every fine shade of music. When one 
bird sings, all others listen, and not until one has 
finished its effort does another tune up. While we 
were listening to the dawn concert we heard the dis- 
tant sound of shots, and Tonga told me that Suatele, 
fearing that I would not care to eat vampires, had 
taken a boy and had gone off to shoot me some 
pigeons. While waiting for him to return, we went 
part way down the southern slope to the waterfall of 
Papapapa, and had our morning plunge in a pool that 
was almost icy. 

Suatele's fears were without ground. The vampires 
when baked in wrappings of fresh leaves after the 
night's interment were as succulent as our squirrels, 
and as dainty a viand as could be desired, being both 
tender and juicy. What with the pigeons and the 
vampires, there was enough to take back with me a 
good supply for my dinner at the end of the long 
homeward tramp down the mountain. 


They live amid a wealth of vegetation 



It may seem incongruous to group the degraded 
wanderer of the South Sea, the salt-water vagrant, 
with the self-sacrificing men who brought the mes- 
sage of the gospel to savage and heathen islanders. 
Yet to the Samoan they represented only varying 
manifestations of one force, equally at first they stood 
together for the initial impact of the civilization which 
the white men had, the Papalangi, the "Breakers 
through the sky," as the common name means. It 
was only after fuller acquaintance that the unwitting 
islanders were brought to see that one class of their 
earliest visitors was harmful and destructive even of 
their savage state, that the other represented reforma- 
tion, education, construction. 

The day of the beachcomber of the South Seas has 
passed. He was what chemists would denominate a 
by-product of the sperm-whale fishery, and with the 
passing of that leviathan so has he passed. Yet, as 
once in a while the voyager in Pacific seas encounters 
some cachalot, solitary and morose, so in lonely nooks 
and corners of the islands he meets a few surviving 
specimens of the beachcomber, just enough to make 
it more plainly clear that the race is about extinct. 

Every volume in which is set down the history of 



discovery and adventure in the South Sea has its 
chapter of the runaways. There must have been rea- 
son for it. Some natures are so constituted that there 
is to them a charm in free savagery as shown among 
the islanders of Polynesia. It may be hard to see 
in what this charm consists, but it is certain that it 
has existed even for men to whom the best of culture 
was open. Instances readily occur to mind which go 
to show that it was not only Fo'c's'le Jack who suc- 
cumbed to island madness. Then, too, if the islands 
drew their victims the ships shoved them. A mer- 
chantman is not a heaven in these days of legisla- 
tion for sailors ; in the old days it must have been 
much closer to the orthodox abyss. When a whaler 
stopped at an island it was expected that there would 
be runaways, and this was just as much the case 
among the arrant cannibals of Fiji and the Marquesas 
as in Samoa and Hawaii, where the practice of man- 
eating was remembered only as a dreadful custom of 
remote savages from whom the people sprang. When 
a Pacific whaler came back to the port it had left 
three years before, the log was overhauled to show 
how it had dotted the remote archipelagoes with evas- 
ive sailors, here one and there another, until it often 
happened that there were left scarcely enough to bring 
the ship home. Sometimes it was a wholesale move 
of the crew T . That was what happened to Captain 
Bligh and the man-of-war Bounty. 

One of the oldest white residents in Samoa is one 
of the few surviving beachcombers, he lives as he 
has done for many years, in a native village some 



miles away from Apia. His whole unkempt history 
is comprised in the single entry : "Ran away from a 
New Bedford whaler." That was more than fifty 
years ago, and he has seen all the changes which half 
a century has brought to the islands. He has seen 
the coming of the missionaries and the coming of 
some sort of law and order. He has watched the 
spread of new arts among the people. In all this he 
has been content to be a looker-on. Fifty years and 
more ago when he swam ashore, the chief of the town 
welcomed his coming and smuggled him up into the 
hills until the whaler sailed away and the coast was 
clear. The runaway was an acquisition to the savage 
state. He knew how to load and fire the one piece 
of ordnance which was the pride of the community. 
He could do all sorts of wonderful things, and could 
help his patron and master to a high position among 
the rulers of towns which had no white man. For 
him then were wives, was food, were all things just 
as if he were a chief. Fifty years have brought their 
changes for him, too. Now he toils in his own yam 
patch for the food to keep him alive. News of home 
touches not a single responsive chord. He has act- 
ually sunk into content with the thatched huts of the 
village in which he has passed almost the allotted 
span of man's life. Fifty years have advanced the 
savage, he has been content to see even his wild neigh- 
bors advance beyond him. 

From the beachcombers and other white men who 
have established domestic relations with the Samoans 
has sprung a class of half-castes, as yet no consider- 



able element in the population, either in numbers or 
in influence. Many are indistinguishable from the 
native population of full blood, whose customs they 
follow. Others are carefully trained in the habits and 
manners of the white father. What any half-caste 
shall be depends entirely on the father ; the child may 
most easily become like the mother's race, that needs 
no training, it results in a debasement of the native 
blood with no elevation from the foreign strain, the 
result is only a poor sort of Samoan. On the other 
hand, the father may strive to lift the child above the 
native level, incessant care and drilling may result in 
an inferior sort of European. As is common with 
most instances of mixed blood, the worst traits of 
each stock seem most to thrive, although there are 
exceptions to confirm the rule. 

The first of the missionaries to attempt the conver- 
sion of the Samoans were sent out by the London Mis- 
sion Society, practically an undenominational organi- 
zation of a Congregational form. The Society (it 
is is generally known by that general term, as may 
be seen from the title the "Society Islands," which 
the Tahitian archipelago so long bore) long since 
entered into an agreement with the large American 
foreign missionary society known as the American 
Board, and effected a division of the territory in the 
Pacific by which the Americans confined themselves 
to the islands north of the equator. Having the field 
free to themselves, the pioneers of the London Mis- 
sion laid out a broad plan for their work in Samoa, 
which has scarcely undergone a change up to the 



present time. Being first in the field and having- the 
largest resources on which to draw, they number in 
their communion three-fourths of the Samoan 

The aboriginal paganism of the Samoans was found 
by the mission pioneers to be a negative system. 
There was a belief in a creator who was so essen- 
tially supreme that having created the world he could 
not be bothered with the petty details of what took 
place upon it. Supernatural power was manifested 
to men by lesser gods attached to each family, each 
town, each district. They were to be placated rather 
than worshipped, they were expected to ward off sim- 
ilar gods of rival families which might work harm. 
These minor gods were regarded as populating com- 
mon animals, which were treated with respect be- 
cause of this association. Thus it was forbidden to 
the people of Vaiala to eat the turtle because it was 
the dwelling place of the village god, and the same 
animal was regarded in the same fashion at Siumu, 
on the other side of the island of Upolu. Certain 
spots of ground were held in regard as the special 
seat of the influence of the god, and in many cases 
called for ceremonies on passing. The ground now 
occupied by the British Consulate at Apia was a very 
sacred spot, it was obligatory on passers to drop a 
stone at the base of a certain tree — the place was 
named Matautu Sa, the Holy Cape. There was noth- 
ing of the cruel complexity of the tabu system such 
as ruled in Hawaii, there were no sacrifices of men 
or of animals. Each person as he ate offered inform- 



ally a small portion of the food to the house god or 
aitu as to a member of the family ; the custom still 
lingers in the libation of kava. At night the head of 
the house offered prayer to the gods most concerned 
in order to ward off their destructive power. Such 
priestly power as was exercised existed only as a 
phase of the general power of the head of the family 
or of the town. 

Upon this the missionaries built. There was little 
in the way of theological structure to clear away, 
some portions of the existing form were susceptible 
of transformation into a Christian usage. Pass over 
the successive steps of progress and examine the re- 
sults. But first glance at other missionary bodies 
occupying the same field, teachers who came after the 
London Mission had opened the paths. In Samoan 
speech the system of the London Mission is known as 
the "Lotu Tahiti," the "Tahiti religion," because the 
first teachers came from that first seat of missionary 
endeavor in the Pacific. There is also another Protes- 
tant sect, the "Lotu Tonga," because it spread from 
those islands to Samoa. This is the system of the 
Australian Wesleyan Methodists. In addition to vil- 
lage churches they have a training school for native 
elders in Savaii, and a general boarding school at 
Lufilufi, on the north shore of Upolu. There is also 
the "Lotu Pope," the mission of the Roman Catholic 
Church in charge of the Marist order of French 
priests. There are nineteen priests with a bishop sta- 
tioned at Apia, where the cathedral occupies a com- 
manding position in the center of the town beach. 



There is a school conducted by the lay brothers of the 
order for boys, and a convent and school for girls in 
charge of the nuns. The Mormon Church of Utah 
maintains a mission of some thirty elders in the archi- 
pelago. While their labors are general, they have 
made a special effort for the alleviation of the condi- 
tion of the half-castes who have been allowed to drop 
back into native systems of life, and they are the only 
teaching body which presents the continuous use of 
English as an essential. 

There is not a Samoan to-day who is not by name, 
at least, a Christian ; there remain but few who were 
originally converted from paganism. Every town has 
its church, every town its native pastor, who is also 
schoolmaster for the village school. Sunday is ob- 
served with religious exercises ; frequently the 
churches are opened during the week; every house- 
hold has its service of evening prayer. The land is 
to be classed as a Christian community, and this has 
been accomplished in but a few years. There are 
Christians of various denominations, but there is little 
of dogmatic controversy. The London Mission has 
practically ceded certain territory to the Wesleyan 
Mission for its work ; the Catholics, while paralleling 
in proportion to their means the establishments of the 
Protestant missions, are yet governed by principles of 
comradeship in the work; the Mormons may draw 
their converts from all denominations, but without 

Because the London Mission numbers three-quar- 
ters of the native Christians and conducts the largest 



establishment for their education, it amounts in prac- 
tice to being the church of the archipelago, and as such 
may be studied without any intention of slighting the 
equally earnest work of the others which have been 

Not only are the Samoans all Christians by name, 
they are a literate people and make a showing far 
ahead of communities much older and much more 
cultured. Excluding those who are so old that they 
had passed the learning age when school facilities 
were offered, it is safe to say that the Samoan who 
is unable to read, to write and to cipher is singular 
in his ignorance. In addition to these acquirements 
of the primary grade every person has a knowledge 
of the very text of the Bible which would astonish 
a person unacquainted with the marvels of savage 
memory. The infant is taken at the earliest feasible 
age into a system of compulsory education which is 
a part of the community life. Each morning and 
again at evening the children of the village are re- 
quired to attend upon the native pastor, the faife'au, at 
his home. Here they are taught in classes in the ordi- 
nary studies of primary education. How far the sys- 
tem pursued educates them is a problem in peda- 
gogics ; they certainly learn to recite excellently well. 
Probably in this they are carried through by the dis- 
proportionate development of the memory. Yet that 
it amounts to more than mere learning by rote is 
shown by their quickness at figures. The primary 
education of these schools of the village pastors is 
not only compulsory, it continues until the pupil is 



able to pass an examination satisfactorily to a su- 
perior authority. 

This introduces a competition which stimulates the 
young Samoan as much as scholars elsewhere. The 
village school is for boys and girls together. The 
pupils most successful in these final examinations are 
recommended for entrance to the boarding schools, of 
which one is conducted in each district for each sex. 
There is a second examination to select from those 
recommended the brightest pupils to fill such vacan- 
cies as may exist. Here the boy or the girl enters 
on a new educational phase. To reduce it to a com- 
parison with American common schools, these district 
boarding schools may be classed as of the grammar 
grade. Here begins the education in English, not 
only the language but manners as well. The pupils 
not only have to learn to speak English, but they 
have to serve a considerable portion of their time in 
the domestic employ of the English missionaries in 
charge of the schools in order that they may acquire 
familiarity with the routine of foreign customs. Every 
means is employed to instil the lesson on which the 
whole future of the Samoan seems to hang, the les- 
son that he resolutely will not learn, that is the im- 
portance of systematic and well-directed industry. 
The mission teachers struggle with the inertia of the 
native communistic custom, they still hope for a re- 
sult which is long in coming. 

Competent examinations of the scholars of the dis- 
trict institutions supply competitors for the advan- 
tages of the highest educational facilities of the 



group, the college for young men at Malua and the 
boarding school for young women at Papauta, on the 
hills behind Apia. Here the course attains to the 
general standard of our high schools and minor col- 
leges. The instruction in English, both language 
and manners, is continued to the end, in many 
branches the instruction is given entirely in the for- 
eign language. In this matter of the use of Eng- 
lish a certain peculiarity is noteworthy. English is, 
of course, a speech of extreme difficulty and harsh- 
ness to Polynesian vocal organs, its grammar renders 
it very difficult to acquire ; but no matter how well a 
Samoan may learn to use the English, and no matter 
how much daily practice he has, it is remarkable that 
the language steadily recedes from him as he grows 
older. This can be proved most easily. There are 
several men in and about Apia who not so many years 
ago were steadily employed as interpreters and gave 
satisfaction, yet now they understand little English 
and are barely able to make themselves understood 
in it. It is a peculiarity for which no explanation has 
been advanced. 

The plan of the Malua institution is collegiate. At 
present it is developed along but a single line of the 
higher branches, that of theology. Most of the stu- 
dents in attendance see that in the present constitution 
of their society the ministry is the only opening for 
men of such education as they have been receiving 
for a number of years. That sends them flocking into 
the ranks of the faife'an, who administer the village 
parishes, and'when no vacancies offer in this service, 



employs the surplus in the missions, which the Sa- 
moan church supports in the Tokelau or Union 
group and in New Guinea. No Malua graduate, be 
he pastor or king, has been able to instil into the 
communities under his charge the lessons of Euro- 
pean methods which have been instilled into his mind ; 
no Malua graduate is known to have had the moral 
hardihood to practise in his own life the lessons he 
has learned. This the Mission authorities confess. 
They hope to extend the scope of Malua and with it 
the chances for trained Samoans, who might in time 
leaven the community. They recognize that there is 
room for almost a hundred native physicians, to be 
in residence in the native communities, and to take 
the place now filled by old women with harsh vege- 
table preparations and no knowledge of nursing. 
They recognize that a few lawyers might find busi- 
ness with advantage to their people and themselves. 
All this is in the plan at Malua, it is not fair to find 
fault, because it is not yet in working order; rather 
should one admire the magnitude of the results of a 
system which was first applied to a race of benighted 
savages little more than half a century ago. 

Samoa is not only a Christian and a literate com- 
munity, it is independent in these particulars. The 
native contributions support the village pastors and 
the church expenses and relieve the Mission chest 
of these charges. The district schools and the higher 
institutions are practically supported by the fees for 
tuition paid in cash and kind and by the periodic 
food presentations. The missionaries are sent out 



from England as teachers and ministers on long terms 
of service, they work and supervise with the utmost 
diligence, they are in turn supervised by the visita- 
tion committee of the main society, coming at inter- 
vals on tours of inspection. 

The danger of the little education crops out in 
Samoa as in other places. Tonga, a very intelligent 
Samoan woman who had spent nearly two years in 
the United States, was regarded by her race as a 
phenomenal liar, yet she had done no more than 
tell the truth as to what she had been seeing. Among 
other novelties she described the cable car, and that 
account was believed because she argued it out and 
made it seem reasonable. 

'Tn the towns of America," she said, "are chariots 
on which you may go from place to place faster than 
a horse can carry you. There is a double road of 
iron, such as the priests made when they were carry- 
ing the stone from Mount Vaea to build the big 
church of the 'Lotu Pope' in Mulivai. Between the 
irons there is a thin hole in the ground just wide 
enough to stick an iron pole into it. They are a very 
wise people in America, and they use iron in many 
ways, because their land is so cold that they have to 
save the wood to build fires to keep warm. Then 
their chariots are on these iron roads, and they stop 
when you hold up your hand and you have the Amer- 
ican money, which is larger than a sixpence and is 
worth less. When you get on the chariot the man 
in front takes hold of his iron stick and pushes it 
down into the hole in the ground, the chariot starts 



so suddenly that you can hardly sit in your place, and 
then it goes over the iron road with great speed." 

"That is a lie," commented the chief, for whose in- 
formation the matter was being recounted. "If there 
are no horses the chariot does not move, for how 
could a man with a stick, even an iron stick, cause 
the chariot to move with speed?" 

"Because you are a chief," the woman rejoined, 
"and because you have been at the great school at 
Malua, shame is in my face to hear you say a thing 
like that. The chariot moves because of the hole in 
the earth into which the man puts the stick." 

"But, woman," said another in the listening throng, 
"I am no more than a house-chief and I have not 
been to the great school at Malua, therefore think 
no shame to tell me why the chariot moves in Amer- 

"You have been to school enough," replied the nar- 
rator, "to know that the earth goes round all the time. 
Well, there is the hole between the iron ways, the 
man has an iron stick, he pushes it down into the 
hole until it catches hold of the earth as it goes, there- 
fore the chariot goes, too, for it is made to go by 
the motion of the earth. They are very wise people 
in America, poto teleT 

The practitioner of the healing art among such 
islanders as these is essentially a missionary, no mat- 
ter what may be the terms of his residence. The 
health officer of Apia is Dr. Bernhard Funk, who has 
resided in Samoa for more than twenty years and has 
acquired great familiarity with the islanders' ailments. 



He was for a long time the only medical man in the 
kingdom, and though a private practitioner, never 
restrained his hand from healing because the sick 
was but a savage who. would never pay the fee. Lately 
the Seventh-Day Adventist church has stationed a 
medical missionary at Apia, Dr. Frederick E. Braucht, 
of Battle Creek, Mich. Beginning in a disused ware- 
house, from which it was impossible to remove the 
fragrance of ancient copra. Dr. Braucht established 
a hospital and sanitarium. From this he has advanced 
to a new hospital especially built in a favorable sit- 
uation and properly equipped. Here, with trained 
nurses, Dr. Braucht enjoys a general practice, and 
in addition treats the many cases arising in native 
life. This is not a charity, a small fee is required, for 
in such a state as that of Samoa there is always a 
family of many members which is chargeable for the 
sick or decrepit. The Samoans try by every means 
to secure something for nothing in this as in every 
other relation of life ; when they are obliged to pay 
they value the service at a higher rate. 




In a commercial sense Apia puts its best business 
foot foremost. It looks like an emporium, it is really 
huckstering. But there are shops, shops everywhere. 
From the great factory of the German firm at Savalalo, 
to the last small cottage out on Matautu Point at the 
other end of the beach, everybody has something to 
sell, mostly something in tins. A shop is next to 
every place. Here is the Foreign Church, next it a 
shop. Here the undignified building of the Supreme 
Court of Samoa, the shop next door overshadows the 
majesty of the law. Under the eaves of the palace of 
Monsignor the Lord Bishop of Polemonium, is a place 
for the sale of things. Journalism, as exemplified by 
the single weekly paper, sells corned beef as well as 
news. The next neighbor of the postoffice is a shop, the 
custom house is scarcely to be distinguished from the 
places of retail trade which flank it. So it goes all 
down the beach, everybody sells something; it is not 
until one observes that three people in a shop are 
a crowd, that it is seen how small the trade of Apia 
really is. And as Apia, so the whole archipelago ; what- 
ever business is done anywhere is done on this stretch 
of beach. There are traders outside, a voyage about 
the islands discloses little establishments for the sale 



of provisions, of calicoes, of notions, of everything 
but the guns and ammunition which are justly under 
the ban of a law which is really obeyed. But these 
traders on the stations, leading the most lonely lives 
amid purely native surroundings and seeing the 
worst traits of the native character, are not indepen- 
dent merchants ; they are all the scantily paid agents 
of the traders in Apia, who are themselves not mak- 
ing such profits on their transactions as to be able 
to spare much for the poor chaps outside. 

In native trade the sale of liquor finds no place. In 
the earliest days of settlement there was no hind- 
rance to the limitless barter of the gin which has 
been such general currency in the South Seas. But 
the Samoans are not a people given to drink. Under 
recent systems of government the traffic has been 
under a strict prohibition. Even when they could 
have all the liquor they might want, they did not 
want any. Now they want still less. Kava is enough 
for them, and it is just as well so. Under no circum- 
stances of Samoan affairs does one have to guard 
against the spread of the drink habit. The Samoan 
does not drink. Neither the greed of the early traders 
nor the misguidance of less commercial and, there- 
fore, more insidious foes, has served to introduce 
this habit among the natives in the islands of Samoa. 

One store is exactly like the next. Count them 
along the beach of Apia, almost forty dealers in pre- 
cisely the same goods, a market more than a little 
overstocked. What one sells the next sells, there is 
but one thing for them all to buy. The stock ac- 







— o 

•a E 

O id 

H e 
o « 


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i a 


count is that of a general country store, everything 
from a paper of tacks to the very latest abomination 
of crude colors for some native belle to carry as a 
decorative parasol, a strong business reliance placed 
on such substantial as canned salmon and corned 
beef (round tins only will catch the native trade, and 
that closes the market to the American packers and 
gives it to those of Queensland and New Zealand). 
Business is based most largely on the native with his 
rare sixpence ; he must have the quantity for his 
money, quality is a secondary consideration. To see 
the business done read the signs hung out for the 
buying Samoan to read. Talasini, that's kerosene. 
I'a masima, salted salmon from the Columbia River. 
Poclo pulumakau, kegs of corned beef, a standard pres- 
ent to make to a Samoan village, a regular unit of 
wagers on their cricket games. Falaoa, loaves of 
bread ; 'apa masi, tins of crackers ; pisupo, tins of salt 
beef. Competition cuts these down to the low r est 
rates, profit can be made only by the inferiority of the 

So much for the signs which show one side of the 
business. On the other there is but one, fa'atan popo, 
copra bought. 

Every beach is lined with crooked cocoanuts, their 
roots in salt water. They yield the one thing which 
Samoa can raise and which the great greedy world 
beyond can use. Other things have been tried. There 
was cotton. War closed down on the American sup- 
ply of Sea Island cotton, and in Samoa, as elsewhere, 
the planters endeavored to produce the article. It 



failed elsewhere, the staple was not of the proper qual- 
ity, it failed in Samoa. Then they tried coffee. Much 
money was expended to establish a plantation at 
Utumapu on the high hills at the back of Apia. That 
was a failure and was abandoned. Cacao has been 
experimented with, the vanilla, various fibres ; none 
has met with the slightest success. There is but one 
thing which has lasted and that is the cocoanut ; even 
that has had nearly all the profit shaved out of trans- 
actions in it by over-production and by the discovery 
of the machinery to extract the oil from the cotton 
seed of American plantations. The cocoanut yields 
the copra, all that is needed is to cut the ripe nut 
open, slice out the hard meat, dry it in the sun or by 
artificial heat and ship it abroad. 

The cocoanut needs little cultivation. The nuts 
fall to the ground as they ripen, they sprout where 
they fall and an orchard may be started by making a 
hole in which to put the sprouted nut at a sufficient 
distance from the next, say thirty feet. It then takes 
care of itself, bears a crop when it is six years old, 
and continues to bear for almost a century unless 
gale or the rough custom of Samoan warfare cuts off 
its head. The nuts which drop into the sea drift off 
to other beaches and there take root, none the worse 
for their voyage. In every month of the year the tree 
is in flower, on the end of a long stalk yellow blooms 
in a stout scabbard. Thus there are always nuts in all 
stages on the same tree, for every stage a fresh name, 
until the confused memory begins to wonder how the 
Samoans can recognize so many differences with so 



little distinction. Whatever the stage and the name 
may be, the cocoanut requires no care from the time 
it is planted until the cutting of the nut. A tree is an 
investment, it is uncertain at what it should be cap- 
italized, some say it pays a shilling a year, some say 
more, some say less, but that may be taken as a fair 
statement of its value. 

Much depends on the curing of the meat. It is of 
that hard and indigestible texture at which nobody fa- 
miliar with cocoanuts would think of using it for food, 
the stage in which it appears in northern markets. 
From the time that the meat is cut out of the shell it 
begins to shrink in weight, it continues shrinking at 
every stage in its handling. The rule of copra buy- 
ing is that the meat must be dried in the sun on clean 
mats for three whole days before it can be called 
copra. As soon as that stage has been reached the 
natives strive to get it off their hands at whatever 
weight it may then have, artificially augmented if pos- 
sible by adding a few stones. The trader is eager in 
the same proportion to keep it shrinking on native 
hands until the last moment. If unconsidered rocks 
are weighed as copra for the advantage of the pro- 
ducer, it has sometimes happened that weights and 
scales have been fixed to afford an advantage to the 
buyer. It is noticeable that a native boat loaded with 
copra is more apt to capsize than when it has other 
cargo, sea water can thus be made to add to weight 
for the benefit of the poor producer. This is in trade 
between native and foreigner, a game of barter in 
which wits are sharp and advantages are not neglected. 



This trade is uncertain, because the Samoan is a par- 
ticularly uncertain individual in the performance of 
contract. The bulk of the copra shipped to Europe, 
only a slight amount going to San Francisco, is the 
product of the three great plantations of the German 
firm. From both sources the supply is by no means 
equal to the demand, every pound of copra is shipped 
away that can be bought, but the factors would buy as 
much again if it were to be had. 

The reason why the copra output represents only 
a part of the possible supply in Samoa is due to the 
lack of labor. It is not that there is need of special 
skill, that is not the cause of the deficiency ; all that is 
needed is the power to use a knife and to bear burdens, 
absolutely unskilled labor. There is an abundance of 
Samoan men and boys, they are utterly idle and with- 
out occupation. But the Samoan will not engage him- 
self to labor. He is unwearied in the ceremonies of 
his village life, he will make speeches all day long and 
half the night, but he will not work. His system of 
social existence is such that no matter how much he 
might labor, no matter how well paid he might be, 
despite a disposition toward thrift, he would be worse 
off for his employment than in his idleness. To his 
family would go all the results of his efforts, the fam- 
ily would spend it with the utmost promptitude, and 
that would be the end. There are times when the in- 
dividual Samoan will work a little. His town may be 
building a church or a boat, and an assessment may 
have been levied in payment ; a fine may have been im- 
posed on him which must be paid in coin ; there may 



be some other and pressing emergency which may be 
tided over only by currency. Then he will work, one 
dollar for as much of a fair day's work as he is pre- 
vented from shirking. That is the standard rate, a 
dollar a day, which must never exceed ten hours, and 
will be shortened by as much as his ingenuity may 
prove facile enough to accomplish. Such a rate is 
prohibitory in plantation labor for field hands. Even 
if there were not that obstacle, there is another equally 
valid in the habits of the Samoan viewed as a labor- 
ing man, which view is in itself an absurdity. He 
grows very tired of his job, whatever it may be ; he 
knocks off when he is tired of it, and no considera- 
tions will cause him to resume, he lacks the essential 
of steadiness. 

To meet this great difficulty, it has been necessary 
to import field labor. At one time this was a disgrace 
to humanity ; the labor traffic, or blackbirding, as it 
was called by its apologists and its enemies respec- 
tively, rivalled the cruelties of the Middle Passage 
of the African slave trade. Since then it has been 
regulated and is supervised by men-of-war on the re- 
cruiting grounds and officials at the port of delivery. 
This has done much to remove the greater evils of a 
traffic, which can never in the nature of things be 
wholly respectable. The labor is recruited from the 
unsettled islands of the Western Pacific, from the 
Solomons and other groups down about New Guinea. 
Ships are sent recruiting, a formal contract is entered 
into with each man to labor for three years at a fixed 
rate, probably a dollar a month and his rations and 



clothing, payment to be made at the end of his term 
of service in goods and a box to put them in, the la- 
borer to be returned to the exact place from which 
he was taken. Only a house with large resources and 
extensive need for labor can engage profitably in this 
traffic, therefore all the field labor, the "black boys," 
have been handled in Samoa through one house, which 
is under direct governmental supervision. These are 
the men who do the actual work, who cut the copra 
and dry it, who do not ask more than a dollar a month 
as wages for an unlimited amount of work, and who 
never shirk their jobs. The black boy is not a pretty 
fellow to look at, one knows that he is a cannibal who 
has laid aside his special proclivities only for a season, 
there is nothing attractive about him, he does not have 
half a fair show in life, but he must be admired as a 
dogged worker and the mainspring of whatever in- 
dustry there is in Samoa. 

For purposes of communication with the black boys, 
there has grown up a jargon based on English, but 
with trimmings drawn from almost every island in the 
Pacific. It has a limited vocabulary, it is devoid of 
all rules of grammar, it is rude and most uncouth, but 
it has the merit of being effective for the purpose of 
conveying all the information which it is necessary 
for a black boy to have or to communicate. "Kaikai" 
in the jargon is food, "bimeby" is to be understood by 
its sound, "bully" makes a superlative of any adjec- 
tive. It calls for no high degree of scholarship to com- 
prehend what is meant when a grinning black boy re- 
marks, "Soon bimeby you bully good kaikai," and it 



is all the more grisly when it is recalled that these 
laborers have been known to practise their cannibal- 
ism in Samoa. 

A black boy sent on an errand with a note came 
back without the memorandum of receipt, which is 
customary in such cases. It was important to make 
sure that the note had reached the person to whom 
it had been addressed, and the boy was questioned. 
He said that he had given it to the right man, but 
as the black boys never know any white men by name, 
there was need of some further determination. The 
black boy was ordered to tell what the man looked 
like to whom he had given the note. The prompt re- 
sponse, "Cocoanut b'long-a him grass no stop," was 
immediately convincing, for the letter had been sent 
to one who was completely bald. 

Another black boy struggled to explain that a cer- 
tain article was on the piano. It was difficult to con- 
vey the impression, but he succeeded by the use of 
this description, "Big bokus, you fight him he cry." 

This jargon is commonly known as beche-la-mar. 




To some readers the suspicion may arise that this 
narrative lacks directness and continuity. But, bless 
you, this is the most simple, straight and plain sail- 
ing, compared with some of the tangles in which Sa- 
moan stories involve themselves. You just ought to 
try to follow out the thin and fragile thread of truth 
in a narrative which it is to the interest of a Samoan 
to make tortuous. This tale of Laulu's hunt is really 
very direct and straightforward. Its action is com- 
prised entirely within one night at the full of the 
moon. It is like a well-written piece of music, for it 
ends on the very note with which it began, namely, 
a shirt. It was really hunting, for I was called out by 
the hunting shout in the early dawn to receive a 
bonito presented on a gleaming paddle. That it in- 
volves more than a slight suspicion of political ambi- 
tion and jealousy is unavoidable and inherent in 
human nature. 

Therenvas one luxury in Samoa which we could in- 
sist upon as no more than a necessity, and that was 
to keep-clean and to look clean. This involved several 
changes a <day, and in the same proportion required 
a wardrobe of considerable magnitude, though of ex- 
treme 'simplicity. Having two adult male persons to 



Tonga and Laulu 


look after — and no mere man knows how helpless he 
appears when he puts up the cry, "Where's a clean 
shirt for me?" — I had my sufficient task set out 
in keeping track of the shirt supply of the house- 
hold. Samoan laundry methods of cleaning clothes 
in a stream by throwing jagged rocks at them as they 
lay spread out on one another and a flat stone were 
sufficiently mangling in their tendency to account for 
a certain large decrease in the shirt stock of the house- 
hold. But the deficit was larger than could be ac- 
counted for on any principle of laundry mutilation. 
Then I discovered that the official head of the house- 
hold was by way of providing shirts for a considerable 
group of Samoan chiefs. He solemnly declared that 
each shirt so expended would produce a tenfold crop 
of friendly alliances among the island politicians. Not 
being myself official, I made up a firm mind that it 
must stop. If the interests of the United States in 
that shabby kingdom demanded the exercise of brib- 
ery and corruption to the extent of one shirt for each 
proceeding of political infamy, there surely must be 
a shirt fund in the United States Treasury against 
which to draw. It certainly was not my intention to 
allow public services to be paid for out of a purely pri- 
vate and personal collection of shirts. Just above the 
lower front hem on each and every shirt I wrote the 
name of the owner in nitrate of silver ink, in letters 
an inch high, and in Samoan, so that there might be 
no failure to comprehend the ownership of the gar- 
ments thus marked. This indelible record of title did 
not interfere with the comfort of the real owners of 



the apparel, for it was out of sight when worn. But 
it put an effectual stop to the shirt as a corrupting 
agent and secret service fund for the payment of the 
price for small diplomatic secrets. No Samoan, chief 
or other, was supplied with the nerve to walk across 
his village green on Sunday mornings on his way to 
his "religion" clad in the spotless white of a wholly 
pure character with the incriminating legend plain 
for all to see that he was wearing a shirt that he did 
not come by honestly. It could not be concealed, for 
the Samoans, you see, dress differently, in fact the 
shirt goes outside and quite over all, with every inch 
in sight. 

Therefore, I was all the more surprised when Laulu 
came in one evening all dripping with a fresh dub- 
bing of cocoanut oil and told me that his new boat 
was on the beach, and that he was going up the coast 
and would bring me something back. He was, I 
think, the tallest man I had ever seen ; at least the 
tallest with whom I was acquainted. As he sat cross- 
legged on the floor, he seemed almost to look down 
on me, who was sitting on a chair. This is the Laulu 
who made an American tour some years ago with 
Barnum's Circus. The surprising thing was that he 
wanted to borrow a shirt. The request was a specious 
one, for he knew very well that a request for a gift 
would be flatly denied, and he had more than a sus- 
picion that a shirt received as a loan would not be 
reclaimed. And after sufficient of time Tonga could 
cut out the name and run up a new hem. 

Laulu had many reasons why that shirt should 



be loaned him. For one thing, he was poor, too 
poor to buy shirts for himself. How well I remem- 
ber the proud formula of these pleas, "We are an in- 
significant people on puny islands, set far away in the 
middle of the flat sea, and great is our poverty." 
Even with this form of humility on his lips, the Sa- 
moan makes you feel that he regards himself as the 
best there is, and that you are asked only for polite- 
ness, when he had the right to demand or to take 
without demand. It was merely a form of words, this 
poverty plea, in this instance, for I paid Tonga well 
for her work for me, and I was well aware that she 
would not see her big husband lacking anything that 
would show her pride in him. His better reason was 
that runners had come stealing in by night from the 
district in rebellion to tell him that in Faleapuna they 
were deliberating about calling him to be their ruling 
chief. There was nothing unusual in that circum- 
stance, even when the rebellion was in far more acute 
stages there was never any difficulty about surrepti- 
tious correspondence back and- forth. I knew that 
both Laulu and Tonga were rebels at heart, and that 
their continuance so near the court of Malietoa was 
really that they might serve as hostages, and was 
tantamount to a mild imprisonment. I rather wel- 
comed the chance to dabble in political intrigue, and 
I knew that the official member of the household, 
who was just then in the rebel country in the effort 
to prevent a threatened breach of the peace, would be 
sure to hear of Laulu's arrival at Faleapuna in time 
to stop any action if he were so minded. Accord- 



ingly, I lent Laulu the shirt, and bade him go off 
bravely in his hunt for the rank and titles of a ruling 
chief, the town itself being one of the most important 
in Samoan political relations. It would take too long 
now to remember just what his title would be, but it 
would most certainly be something of the most mag- 
nificent description, and would entitle him to a large 
amount of rich and ripe flattery when speeches were 
made at him. 

And all seemed to depend on the loan of a shirt. 
He was careful to say that he had shirts of his own, 
but he wanted one of these shirts with the name in 
front. That would show all the rebels that he was a 
man who had a pull with the administration, and poli- 
tics is politics, whether it is played on a great con- 
tinent or in a bunch of little islands. 

Laulu had been gone so short a time that I seemed 
yet to hear the thump of the loom of his oar in the 
rowlocks up the lagoon about the big shoal of the 
Vailoa. Then came Tonga with her maid. Be- 
ing of an observing disposition and imitative in 
her way, my good Tonga had come to the con- 
clusion that what was good enough for me was 
quite as good for her, and as she was my maid 
she had taken a maid for herself in the person 
of a sturdy young girl of the name of Evai. It 
being after Tonga's hours for work, she called so- 
cially as one lady upon another, and her maid sat 
dutifully in the background and made cigarettes for 
her mistress, and when Tonga interrupted her con- 
versation with the interjected command, "Knsi mai 



lc a/S," the girl promptly "kusied," that being the 
Samoan equivalent for strike a match. It took sev- 
eral cigarettes to bring Tonga around to the point 
which had brought her. She wanted really to know 
if Laulu had been seen that evening. 

Tonga and Laulu had been married in about all 
the ways possible in a community of so much divided 
jurisdiction, and there was not the slightest doubt 
that she was Mrs. Laulu with a firmness and fixity 
that would stand all the tests of the most rigidly civi- 
lized country. Therefore, I felt no little satisfaction 
in relating to her my assistance in furthering Laulu's 
ambition to become so important a chief. 

"Matapua'a ma le tufamia, she is pig-faced and she 
stands upon the ground," was Tonga's sole comment. 

Thereupon I saw a great light and promptly sub- 
sided, for after that it was clear that this being a big 
chief was not altogether politics. 

Tonga was not at all the sort of woman to sit down 
when she had a crisis to deal with and idly wait for it 
to crash. She was in the habit of dealing with an ad- 
mirably prompt decision with all matters in which 
she was interested, and this case was no exception. 
She lost no time in going to the house of her nearest 
relation in our village and in taking a pair of paddles 
from their usual position in the rafters of the house. 
A canoe was soon chosen from the collection drawn 
up on the beach and carried down into the water. 
In this frail craft Tonga and her maid set out upon a 
trip that might extend to some sixteen miles. After 
the first few miles of still water in the lagoon there 



came a long stretch of open sea, where the shore 
reef was broken in but two places that would admit 
of the safe passage of even a canoe. As Laulu had 
had nearly an hour's start, and had two men to row 
his boat, it was altogether unlikely that Tonga could 
overtake him within the lagoon unless he should stop 
by the way to talk and drink kava. There was not 
much chance of this. Laulu was by birth entitled to 
be the chief of the next village, Matafangatele, and 
to bear the name of Asi. But the place had been 
usurped by another, and the present Asi spent a large 
amount of time in detailing just what he would do to 
Laulu should he ever catch him. It was, you will see, 
by no means likely that Laulu would stop for mere 
sociability anywhere in Asi's territory. I was in a 
state of tremor about Tonga and her canoe when it 
should come to that long stretch of ocean voyage, 
which was bad enough in itself, and was made even 
worse by the sudden dangers of the hidden reef off 
the Solosolo shore, the Fale Aitu or "House of 
Devils." But I consoled myself with the thought that 
Tonga invariably knew what she was about. Indeed, 
I felt the same sort of fear when I passed out from the 
lagoon to the open ocean, even in our gig, with its four 
rowers and twenty-two feet of length. In time I grew 
accustomed to breasting the ocean seas in all weath- 
ers, and came to look upon such sport as steeple- 
chase jumps over reefs and through the breakers on 
shores of absolute rock as nothing more than a half- 
dime ride on a swan-boat in Central Park. Tonga was 
safe enough in her little canoe. I watched the gleam 



of her paddles in the shimmering - lagoon under the 
moonlight. I watched her course as she skirted the 
Vailoa sands and then vanished on her way around 
the point at Moota. I was now interested in two 
parties headed east over the moonlit ocean. In the 
lead was Laulu, with his two rowers, in a boat 
freighted with one shirt and a bundle of political am- 
bition. Nearly an hour behind him came Tonga and 
her maid in a light canoe, both paddling like all-pos- 
sessed, and determined to wipe out that handicap. 
The freight of the canoe was frankly a clever wife's 
determination that her husband should not make a 
fool of himself. I fancy that so efficient a woman as 
Tonga always showed herself to be, was not alto- 
gether a peaceful citizen at home ; but she never let 
that appear in public, and never failed to make it ap- 
pear that she thought her big Laulu was everything 
that was right. 

Having thus dabbled to the extent of one shirt, as 
a loan, in what might be high Samoan political in- 
trigue or again might not be that sort, and having for- 
warded Tonga in pursuit, there was no more to be 
done but to await developments, wishing Tonga more 
power to her elbow. 

Samoans are proverbially unable to keep a secret, 
and that is true without an exception as to the secrets 
of others ; but in matters concerning which they do 
not wish to speak, there is no power can wring or 
cajole or buy the truth from them. The bare fact that 
Tonga in her canoe overhauled Laulu in his boat 
well this side of the Fale Aitu, and that he did not 



go on to Faleapuna, to be made a ruling chief, but 
went fishing instead, was about the sum of all I ever 
did learn of the domestico-politico-marine drama that 
was played out in the moonlight on the open sea. If 
Tonga's suspicion was truly founded, and if indeed 
under the political pretense there was a woman, as 
Tonga more than implied by her ejaculation of "pig- 
faced and standing on the ground," which is about 
the limit of Samoan abuse, in such a case, if I had 
been Laulu I should have recognized that if I went 
further I should have been certain to fare much 
worse, and I think he showed himself a prudent man 
in that he went fishing instead. 

Perhaps my opinion is not entirely unbiased, for I 
had a steak from that bonito for my breakfast. It 
appears that when the sea is just right and the tide is 
making a certain stream around the Fale Aitu, and 
when it is full moon in a certain quarter of the 
heavens, and the dawn is breaking with a rare green 
color at the horizon and fading out to a dainty fawn 
color toward the zenith, and if your boat is right, and 
if your fly-hook is tied rightly for luck, and if you 
are a fit person and will choicely troll in the last gasps 
of the night breeze ofif-^hore and carry your lure 
through the very center of the Fale Aitu, you will 
surely get a bonito. What a lot of conditions there 
always are before you can catch fish! At any rate, 
they seemed to be all fulfilled that morning in Laulu's 
case, for he caught a young bonito with all the marks 
that go to show that it is just at its best for eating. 

Tonga returned the borrowed shirt, still in its 



wrapping of waterproof tapa cloth, and explained that 
it was all a misunderstanding, that Laulu did not need 
to borrow shirts, for he had plenty of his own, and 
silk ones, too. Furthermore, he had no wish to be 
chief at a small place like Faleapuna. In fact, he had 
tried to communicate to me his purpose of going out 
on the bonito fishing, but as the bonito is himself a 
chief, and must only be mentioned in a special lan- 
guage of courtesy, I had failed to comprehend the 
exact purport of his remarks. Laulu sat by, looking 
as good as gold, while his loyal little wife put all the 
blame on me, and his only comment was to say yes 
and no, "Ioe" and "Leai," at the proper intervals, 
and in the meanwhile to keep up a soft clucking as 
though calling chickens, which is a compliment of 
the higher Samoan courtesy, in which duties of the 
gentleman he was thoroughly posted. 

Then Tonga's own maid rolled her mistress a ciga- 
rette, Tonga puffed it bright and passed it to Laulu. 
In the language of diplomacy, the incident was closed. 
But I'd give six bits to know what was taking Laulu 
toward the rebel country that night. 




The Earl of Hardwicke won all the money fast 
enough. That seems appropriate to any one who has 
given attention to the peerage. Dukes may be noble, 
Marquises probably have some special designation 
which slips the memory just now, but in all literature 
Earls are either belted or wicked. This one was 
wicked, with a wickedness that would qualify him for 
the biggest belting that ever earl got on an outlaw 

There never had been any real sport in Apia. Wars 
there had been, but they were far too slow and con- 
versational to become a good betting proposition. 
Samoan communities frequently engaged in stick- 
throwing competitions for a keg of salt beef, but these 
occupied anywhere from a week to a month, and no 
Papalangi ever yet had been lazy enough to watch 
a game all through and find out how it was counted. 
Something better than this had to be done for the 
amusement of several young men who found them- 
selves cast together in Apia after having reached the 
South Sea metropolis from remote quarters of the 
earth. They were tourists. They had filled them- 
selves up on all the poetry of Polynesian life and had 
come down to see the reality. They had found that 



the romance made no mention of the discomforts of 
sleeping on coarse gravel, of eating dirty foods of 
uncouth taste, of walking wearily over jagged rocks 
or perspiringly under the dense canopies of the trees 
of unbroken forest. After the first enthusiastic days 
of leading the native life they all trailed back to Apia 
and found no higher occupation than tepid beer or 
conducting interesting problems of the art of gaug- 
ing the liquid capacity of certain seasoned vessels on 
the Apia beach, who were willing to be experimented 
on in that line so long as it would benefit science. 
Their idleness led to the first horse race ever held in 
Samoa, the one which is now being helped along into 

The Earl of Hardwicke deserves the credit of pro- 
posing the affair. Therefore it may be a trifle less 
discreditable that he got all the money. He was a 
very modest young person. There was not the least 
bit of "side" about him. He traveled about just like 
any fellow. His card read simply "Charles Philip 
Yorke," and on the steamer they called him Mr. 
Yorke until it popped out by accident. In conversa- 
tion on deck he chanced to quote some little thing 
that his man had said. It was not so much what his. 
man had said as it was the way he said it. When 
quoted it began with "M'Lud" and it wound up with 
"Yer Ludship." With very becoming evidences of 
confusion, Mr. Yorke appeared disconcerted and 
rapidly changed the subject. But in the steamship's 
library there was a copy of some almanac or other 
giving details of the peerage, and it took no very long 



search to discover that Charles Philip Yorke bore the 
title of Earl of Hardwicke. After that there were 
many who felt it wrong to call him Mr. Yorke, The 
young man was most affable, considering his status, 
and explained that he was sorry that it had leaked 
out, for it was his desire to travel incognito, or as he 
phrased it, in the dialect of the House of Lords, "with- 
out any of this bally fuss." His modesty was re- 
spected as much as was possible, but less on account 
of his wishes than because the passengers were di- 
vided into two hostile camps as to the proper form 
of address. One party clamored for "Your Grice," 
and the other for "Noble Sir." Out in the middle of 
the Pacific the dispute could not be settled. In fact, 
it lasted over into his Samoan sojourn and was only 
settled by Carr, a beachcomber, who always made a 
stagger after accuracy and declared that an Earl 
should always be addressed as "Your Earldom." 
Which went. 

This modest and vagrant Earl was responsible for 
the great Vaiala steeplechase, the very first race in the 
history of the islands. The most that could be said 
of the horses was that they were better than nothing. 
Even at that they weren't much. They were distinctly 
of the mutt class. It is very doubtful if they would 
be admitted to the District of Columbia tracks, al- 
though it is well known that the capital of this country 
does get some of the queerest racing propositions, 
especially in the winter. The only Samoan horses 
are little ponies from Tonga, no pedigree to say any- 
thing about, full of mischief and tricks, no particular 



staying power, but a magnificent capacity to stand 
punishment of whip and spur. There never yet was 
one that couldn't be bought for a sovereign, and as 
the freight from Tonga is sixteen shillings, it is clear 
that the real value of the horse is four shillings, or 
throw in the odd tuppence and generously say one 
dollar. But in the dullness of Samoa a horse is a 
horse when time hangs heavily on the hands of sporty 

The Earl started it. He proposed that they should 
get up a scratch race for native horses owned by na- 
tives, ridden by native jockeys, and that the white 
men should make up a purse for the winners and find 
their own sport in betting. It was agreed that, as 
there were nine of them, each should nominate a horse 
and subscribe a sovereign, and the purse should be 
divided among the winner, second and third. The 
horses must be nominated that evening, which gave 
each of the gentlemen plungers all day in which to 
pick their mounts, and the race was to be run off 
the next morning at high tide, all horses with their 
jockeys to be at post one hour before high water. 
In the absence of bookmakers and the talent in gen- 
eral, it was mutually agreed that each gentleman sub- 
scriber was to back his own nomination against all 
comers at the best odds he could get during the hour 
when the horses were on view. 

There is, of course, no track at Apia. In fact, in 
the steep municipal district there is no space suffi- 
ciently level to lay off any conveniences of the sort. 
But there are stretches of hard beach of coral sand 



that will serve the purpose, and ought to prove good 
going for unshod hoofs. Because of the existing fea- 
tures of the nearest stretch of beach the race was 
made a steeplechase with natural obstacles. Begin- 
ning on Matautu Point, a short distance beyond the 
pilot station, the course extended along the beach to 
windward for a little more than two miles. The ob- 
stacles were two cocoanut trees to be leaped, one 
river to swim, another to ford, a patch of rocks, a 
mangrove swamp, a straight run home and a stone 
wall to jump at the finish. The summary: 


The Great Vaiala Steeplechase Handicap; for three-year- 
olds and upward, or downward ; by subscription of one sov- 
ereign each of nine nominators, of which £4 to the winner, £3 
to second and £2 to third; about two miles and two or three 
Mr. Tofaeono's ch. g. Solofanua, no pedigree, 125 

(Fa'agaoi), nominated by the Earl of Hardwicke I 

Mr. Tangaloa's br. h. Televave, no pedigree, 75 (Talolo), 

nominated by Mr. Page 2 

Mr. Patu's b. g. Manu, no pedigree, 250 (owner up), 

nominated by Mr. Dibbs 3 

Tasi, Lua, Tolu, Fa, Lima and Ono also ran. 

Time, 18:30. 

Betting — Fifteen to 1 Solofanua, even money Televave, 
8 to 1 Manu, 5 to 2 Tasi, 3 to 1 Lua, 6 to 5 Tolu, 7 to 3 Fa, 
3 to 1 Lima, 4 to 1 Ono. 

But this is not the sort of horse race that can be 
fobbed off with a mere summary and nothing else. 
Everybody had a run for his money, and the noble 



Earl got it all in the end, for it turned out that he 
needed it in his business, that and a great deal more. 
When the horses were brought together at the ap- 
pointed limit of one hour before high tide in their 
run to windward — this is not a yacht race, but there 
seems no other way to describe a horse race on the 
beach — there was not very much to brag about in 
speed or form. Each of the gentlemen nominators 
had done his best to pick out an animal to carry his 
colors to victory in this epoch-making race, and it is 
fair to presume that each had found something either 
in action or staying power of his nomination to de- 
termine him in the choice. However that may be, 
the hot favorite in the paddock was Televave, Mr. 
Page's nomination, and that was on the general ap- 
pearance of the pony as well as the fact that he car- 
ried the lowest weight in the person of the cheekiest 
jockey. If any horse struck the majority of the sports- 
men as a weed and a rank outsider and the full cata- 
logue of the things that no horse should be for com- 
mercial purposes on the track, it, was the nomination 
of the Earl of Hardwicke, Solofanua. In fact, the 
others almost began to believe that His Earldom 
could scarcely be a real peer, he showed so unaristo- 
cratic an ignorance of horses. The Earl was 
making no apologies, he was offering no ex- 
planations, but the man who expressed a scoffing 
opinion of his nomination, and was prepared to back 
his opinion with money, the one thing that in all 
places and at all times talks, the Earl was prepared to 
accommodate for as much as he chose to take. In 



the same way the Earl backed every other mount to 
lose for as much as each nominator would venture in 
support of his nomination. Now when a man, and 
an Earl at that, wants to waste his feudal revenues 
on the veriest old skate that ever lowered a record 
at Guttenburg — well, it's just human nature to touch 
him for a few in order that next time he may have a 
fuller comprehension of the science of the horses. 

After all the bets had been written down and there 
was no more money left to take a parcel on the Earl's 
monstrosity, the bugle was sounded and the bunch 
was rounded up on the beach. There was an excellent 
starting place in the shape of an old punt of the Tren- 
ton and Vandalia Wrecking Company drawn high on 
the beach at the very top of the Point. The start was 
tame, that must be forgiven the jockeys. This was 
the very first race in Samoa and they knew none of 
the ornamental work. The nine horses were backed 
against the starboard beam of this old punt and the 
Earl himself saw to it that the hind hoofs of each 
horse were beating a tattoo on the weatherworn tim- 
bers. When each nag was found fairly on the mark, 
the Samoan master of ceremonies gave the signal 
to start, and with his word, "Alu" each jockey plied 
whip and heels in the effort for speed. Although they 
got away in a bunch, the horses were sorting them- 
selves out in the first furlong, and by the end of the 
second furlong there began to be some show of rea- 
son for the betting which had been laid. All except 
the Earl's nomination. That remained as absurd a 
proposition as before. By the time the cavalcade had 



come abreast of the American Consulate, which is ap- 
proximately two furlongs, it was seen that my Talolo 
was showing some skill for a savage jockey, who never 
had had any training. He had Televave well in hand 
and just beyond the leaders, but in position where he 
could bring out whatever there was in the nag 
to do. The Earl's nomination was last of all. 
Fa'agaoi was flogging him unmercifully in the effort 
to get up more speed. The sportsmen followed on 
other horses at the rear of the racers in order that 
they might keep the race in view, which it was easy 
to do by taking short cuts here and there. 

Just beyond the American flagpole the first horse 
stopped and the jockey dismounted and led his horse 
for a distance of at least one hundred feet. Each 
jockey, as he dashed up to the same point, did the 
same. But the Earl's horse kept right on and went 
ahead of all the others, while they were being walked. 
The subscribers to the race were dumfounded. They 
said they had been thrown, that every horse but one 
had been pulled, and they said it in every way known 
to the turf. That did no harm, neither did it do any 
good, for it was said in English and the jockeys were 
ignorant of that language. George Scanlan, the half- 
caste policeman, assured the sportsmen that it was all 
right. The riders were passing in front of the house 
of a high chief and the Samoan custom forced them 
to dismount and walk their horses. It had to be done, 
he assured them. 

"But why doesn't that mule of the Earl's have to 
walk, too. See, he's going by on a gallop like a car 



horse. Isn't there any Samoan custom for that sort 
of moke?" the eight other nominators asked. 

"Him b'long that high chief itself. Samoa custom 
all same Engliss custom. You don't take off your 
hat to yourself? S'pose not. So Samoa chief horse 
he ride in the fronts of Samoa chief house himself." 

By this time all the jockeys had remounted and 
were speeding after Solofanua. But the chestnut was 
in difficulties at the first obstacle, a cocoanut tree that 
had been blown down on the beach a little further 
along. This reduced him to the ruck once more and 
by the time he had negotiated the jump, the other 
horses were ahead. But there was another chief's 
house and there was the same dismounting and lead- 
ing of horses as before except that Manu kept going 
just as did Solofanua. The interpreter explained that 
this also was all right. Manu did not have to be led 
past because this house was the house of his owner, 
Mr. Patu, who was the chief over that part of Vaiala, 
and Solofanua could go by, because as a chief Mr. 
Tofaeono was higher in rank than Mr. Patu. 

The next obstacle was a river to swim. Mr. Patu's 
horse was rather fractious at the water and would not 
go in. That brought Solofanua to the front and 
through Fa'agaoi's luck rather than management he 
had his mount in the river and breasting the slug- 
gish current of the Fue-sa. This gave him the lead on 
the other side, where there was first a stretch of good- 
going beach. Before the others were able to catch up 
the next obstacle was reached, the stretch of man- 
groves. This was a narrow streak of tangled growth 



too small for a grove, too thick for a hedge, not more 
than twenty feet thick, but a regular teaser. It was 
like going through a labyrinth of knot holes with 
sharp edges and abundant splinters. Solofanua was 
first out of this obstacle, but Televave was not long 
after. Immediately after the mangroves came about 
a hundred yards of black rocks, each dornick having 
so many sharp juts, spurs and angles that it could al- 
ways keep one uppermost. These were neither safe 
nor speedy going, and the leaders came out little bet- 
ter than horses that had already been distanced. Solo- 
fanua lost ground in this obstacle. 

From the rocks there was another good speedway 
to the next obstacle, which was the River Vailoa, too 
broad to leap, too shallow to swim, with nothing but 
a splashing ford which takes it out of speed most 
wofully. At the Vailoa the race was just about half 
over. Televave was first over the ford, and ready 
for the next barrier, the last one on the course until 
the finish jump, but this was a hard one to negotiate, 
and it strained the pack out into single file. The bar- 
rier was neither a leap nor a swim. It was a tree 
which must be climbed, a difficult task for horses. 
It had been made as easy as possible, but none the less 
it was necessary for every horse or other person that 
used that ford to climb to the bank beyond on a 
cocoanut tree that had been felled to serve as a lad- 
der. Only one horse could climb at a time, and the 
Earl's winner was the last of all. 

When this obstacle was surmounted there was a 
good stretch of turf for the run home. Although 



Solofanua was pounding along at the very end of the 
line, there were two important advantages waiting for 
him. The first was the home of his owner in the ham- 
let of Moota. When the same dismounting was done 
here which enabled the laggard horse to get once 
more to the front, the interpreter was good enough 
to explain that this was the residence of the chief who 
owned the rear horse. When he was taken to task 
on the score that the first get down and walk had 
been done before the residence of this same chief, 
the interpreter was ready with his answer: 

"High Chief Tofaeono, him live here, too ; him 
live there, too. Other wife live here, other wife live 
there, too." This proof of bigamy among the ruling 
classes was shocking to the moral sense ; but the 
double establishment was an advantage in horse rac- 
ing complicated with Samoan customs. 

Here the Earl's nomination got a good lead and 
he held it for a while, only in the end to be over- 
hauled by Manu and Televave. Scarcely a hundred 
yards from the finish was the house of yet another 
chief, inferior to Tofaeono, but higher in rank than 
Tangaloa and Patu. This chief, Asi, was beyond the 
stone wall at which the race was to finish. In the 
zest of the race the jockeys on the horses of the two 
inferior chiefs raced past Asi's house without dis- 
mounting. As soon as he saw this disrespect Asi 
jumped over the wall and started in to remonstrate. 
Then the neglectful jockeys had in good earnest to 
come down off their high horses, and while they were 
crawling by the angered chief, Solofanua leaped the 



wall, won the four sovereigns for his owner, and for 
the nominator, the Earl of Hardwicke, all the money 
there was in the game. Asi won his rake-off. 

There was no jockey club to take this matter up, 
and at the time it was considered a safe enough race 
barring the complications of Samoan custom. Later 
it was learned that after the noble Earl had left Sa- 
moa and continued his travels as far as Australia he 
was soon detected in Sydney as no Earl but a com- 
mon swindler, and as such sent to Woolloomooloo 
jail for ten years hard. Then a few began to wonder. 
Then it was found that the Earl had discovered the 
trick of this native custom from Asi and had planned 
the whole scheme for the purpose of transferring 
funds from his fellow travelers' pockets to his own. 

This, then, is the story of the first race in Samoa, 
the great Vaiala steeplechase. The moral seems to 
be — mind, it is not definitely stated that it is — that 
there are several other things beside the legs of a 
horse that it's business to put trust in. 




"Oh, I say now I" exclaimed the Captain of the 
British gunboat Royalist then on guard duty in Apia 
Harbor, "you can't expect a man to believe that sort of 
thing, you know. Of course, whatever you say about 
the political affairs of this beach I must believe, for 
that's your line of country and I'm here to do your 
shooting for you whenever it becomes necessary. But 
it is pretty stiff to ask me to believe that you sit in 
the wet and go sliding down a face of rock without 
hurting yourself." 

"Still, it is a fact, none the less, and a very exhilarat- 
ing fact, indeed, as you will confess if only you will 
try it for yourself." 

"Now, madam, that is rather too much. You have 
entered into a conspiracy with my wardroom officers 
to make this tour of guard duty memorable to me. 
First you got me bragging as to putting up heavy 
weights, and it is true I can put up more pounds 
than any one of the ship's company, and then you 
whistled up the bow oar in your boat and had him 
beat me at my own game. Next you led me on to 
make the remark that it would be easy to include that 
waterfall of yours in some morning stroll ; it took me 
all of fifteen hours of breakneck work to get there and 



back in one day, and I was in such a state that I could 
not go to the German Consul's 'Bierabend.' Now you 
are trying to get me to give an exhibition of coasting 
down a hard rock for the amusement of your fellow 
conspirators in the wardroom country. At my time 
of life, and having attained command rank, I must 
decline to assist in the undertaking." 

"But, Captain, will you accompany us if I promise 
3 r ou solemnly that the First Luff shall do all the ex- 
perimental sliding, or the Engineer or even the Pay- 

"Why, it's positively absurd. You know that the 
human body will sink in water. And this water you 
say is only two inches deep. Now, in the name of all 
hydraulics, how are you going to slide like a bubble 
on the surface of the water and not touch the rock 
below? But on your solemn assurance that I can in- 
spect all the conditions before venturing on any such 
exhibition, and that you will interpose no objection 
to my sacrificing all of the junior officers in turn, I 
am willing to join your outing party." 

It was because the Captain of this particular British 
gunboat was just as good as gold and as strong as 
an ox, to say nothing of his being as green as grass 
about Samoa, that the preceding conversation was 
due. He had been induced to make a few trips into 
the bush, and after the hard experience he was be- 
gininng to be a trifle suspicious. But as to the Sliding 
Rock at Papase'ea there was no reason for such sus- 
picion, as will be made clear in this story of the trip. 

Fortunately for Captain Rason's peace, the trail to 



Papase'ea is so regularly traveled by the residents of 
Apia and the few tourists who have the time that it is 
open to equestrians all the way from the beach to 
within ioo yards of the bathing place. That in itself 
was a great thing, for foot travel in Samoan bush is 
anything but easy, and one learns to welcome any 
spot for the terminus of an excursion which will 
obviate the wearisome footsteps in the steaming at- 
mosphere under the thick shade of the tropical forest. 
Here comes in the advantage of having a practically 
amphibious boat's crew. The first of their duties was 
to row the boat and sing, but on shore excursions it 
was their duty to attend on horseback, and the op- 
portunity was offered them to carry on little specu- 
lations on their own behalf by renting ponies when 
such an opportunity arose, as in this case, when it be- 
came necessary to mount the greater number of the 
officers of the H. B. M. S. Royalist. 

A trip to Papase'ea is always a picnic and a merry- 
making, for there is something invigorating about the 
water of the mountain stream, which is so much 
cooler than any water on the beach as almost to seem 
cold, that it is impossible to avoid growing rapidly 
hungry. And there is something so unusual about 
the sport on the rock as to set even the morose in 
good humor. At the same time it must be remem- 
bered that the Samoans regard it a solemn duty to eat 
on all occasions when there is anything edible. But 
in the islands it is just as easy to extend dinner hos- 
pitality in the bush as it is in the best domestic ap- 
pointments. It resolves itself down to an enumera- 


A Solomon Island black boy imported to work on the plantations 


tion of the number of cans that must be opened and 
the number of corks that must be drawn, and those 
are operations that can be done just as well in the 
woods and by the streams as under the roof of a 

The boat's crew were sent out ahead, each armed 
with the necessary provision for the picnic. But even 
with them out of the way, it was an imposing cavalcade 
that set out from the American Consulate on the road 
to the woods. With the British officers and the Sa- 
moan girls and the interpreters and the inevitable Ta- 
lolo, the party amounted to more than twenty, and 
that is a large number in Apia except on steamer days. 
It made a long and sedate cavalcade down the beach 
road in strict obedience to the municipal ordinance 
against riding faster than a walk. The Royalist con- 
tingent had come so freshly from a long cruise that 
none of them felt like galloping, and probably all were 
just as well satisfied to know of the state of the law. 
This was made quite manifest when the party turned 
back from the beach and into a long stretch of good 
road exempt from any restriction on speed. Here 
the Samoan girls started their half-broken Tongan 
ponies into a speedy gallop and laughingly challenged 
their respective officers to catch them. To attempt 
to chaperon the next two miles of horse race was 
about as futile as it would be to play propriety to a 
three-ring circus. By wise use of a seemingly im- 
practicable short cut (this was due to the wisdom of 
Talolo) along a soppy trail through a taro swamp and 
then a clump of sugar cane with a few water jumps 



and a pig fence of stone to clear, it was possible to 
get ahead of the race and to capture the First Luff 
and the girl who had taken the lead. As the other 
galloping pairs came up they too were stopped, and 
last of all came the Captain, pounding steadily on in 
the rear with a much winded little rat of a pony that 
had never carried the weight before. All were then 
content to settle down to a more sober and decorous 
pace, for the naval contingent were beginning to feel 
that no matter how experienced they might be in rid- 
ing the waves, it called for a different seat when it 
came to a flat race in Samoa. 

Since turning inland from the beach the road had 
been a straight causeway in the swamp, known as 
Tiger Bay, and the only thing to see was the taro, the 
cane and the banana — no shade for this whole stretch 
of race course, and no breeze, for the trade wind has 
never the force to make itself felt behind the coastal 
fringe of cocoanuts. But when the higher ground 
was reached, the character of the scene underwent a 
change — the swamp was left behind, the road now lay 
under the grateful shade of tall trees and between 
clumps of bushes loaded down with gorgeous blos- 
soms. Samoan houses began to appear under the 
shade of the bread-fruit trees, with their great and 
jagged leaves, and around a bend in the road we came 
upon the town green of Vaimoso, with its chief's ora- 
tor standing in the shade to hail us with the never 
omitted question, "Whither go ye?" and to propose 
that we alight and drink kava. But Talolo, whose de- 
light it is to do all sorts of mannish things, replies in 



form that America and Britannia are out upon im- 
portant affairs of state and cannot delay, but that 
some day we will return to see this lovely town of 
Vaimoso, and will talk wise politics with its chief. 
In studying Samoan it is not so much a question of 
grammar as of learning to lie gracefully. Talolo was 
born that wav. 

Beyond the village we began to breast the hill, and 
climbed and climbed over a broad road half over- 
grown with weeds, until we came upon the few houses 
which make the little settlement of Lotopa, where a 
few settlers have cleared the bush and set out planta- 
tions of coffee. Here the government road stops short 
in a clump of bushes. Here, also, were the boat's 
crew in waiting with the supply of refreshments. 
There was the beginning of a mutiny when Tanoa 
and his outfit discovered that this was not to be an 
eating station, although he had gone to the trouble 
of gathering nuts and bananas and leaves for plates. 
But as it was only an hour from the Consulate, and 
as, in addition to whatever breakfast they may have 
had with their own families, each of the crew had con- 
sumed a pound-tin of corned beef, half a tin of sal- 
mon, unlimited cabin biscuits, and all the sugar soup 
or tea wanted, it was felt that they could manage to 
bear up for a little while longer. It was not so much 
that they were individually hungry as that they were 
disposed to yield to the Samoan national hunger, 
which is invariably excited by the presence of food. 

At this end of the road a broken-down stone wall 
gave an opportunity to squeeze through the close 



clump of bushes, and then it was seen that there was a 
narrow trail behind. Here there was no tendency to 
gallop or scamper, for the trail is too narrow and too 
crowded with stones to permit of any relaxation of 
the attention. The path was cut up with the roots 
of the high trees, and every root in the soaking mold 
was a trap for the feet of the unwary, for with the 
closest care one or other of the ponies would slip on 
such a root and then would follow a series of wild 
gymnastics which were the reverse of steadying to the 
rider, no matter how much they might tend to restore 
the equilibrium of the pony. Another forest danger 
was from the low-hanging branches and from the 
lianas pendent from tree to tree. These frequently 
hung so low as to sweep a rider from the pony's back. 
I had long since trained my boys when going ahead 
and encountering any such obstruction to give warn- 
ing and to use the cry, "Low bridge." That seems 
plain enough for most people to know what to ex- 
pect. But it bothered at least one of these young Eng- 

About five minutes after Tanoa had set up that 
shout for the first time, and it had passed back all 
along the line, we had stopped in a fairly smooth and 
open place for the duller members of the party to 
overtake us. One of the junior officers then said : 
"Do you know, I just made a most stupid error. All 
the Samoans shouted something that sounded almost 
exactly like 'low bridge,' and ever since I have been 
looking out for a bridge. But, of course, there 
wouldn't be any real bridges in this jungle, and, of 



course, I was misled by the similarity of words in the 
two languages. But it was a droll blunder, now, 
wasn't it?" 

Then followed an attempt to explain the use of the 
American language to the British officer. 

"Yes, yes ; I understand," my navy boy replied. 
"When you say 'low bridge/ that's only a figure of 
speech. But, don't you know, it's rather misleading. 
You see, you are looking out for a bridge that would 
be underfoot, and so you have no warning about the 
low branch overhead, don't you know ; and then you 
are swept off the pony's back. Of course, it's only 
one of your ways, but you have so many odd_ways, 
you Americans. The idea of calling a branch a 
bridge, it's most extraordinary." 

At last the trail through the damp depths of the 
forest led our party to the sound of dashing water, 
and we found ourselves in an open space which af- 
forded grazing for the ponies. The sound of the fall- 
ing water was plain, but no water was in sight. Strug- 
gling through the high grass of this small meadow — 
grass that measured more than six feet — we came to 
a jumping-off place, where a steep and wooded slope 
led down to a small mountain stream, which was 
making noise enough for a river. Here we scrambled 
down the bank with the assistance of roots and pro- 
jecting rocks and hanging vines, and at every step 
regretted that we were not monkeys for the time. 
Once safely at the foot of the descent we were at the 
summit of the waterfall. 

So far as goes the geography of the unusual, there 



are but two such sliding rocks in the world — one in 
the Negri Sembilan region of the Malay Peninsula, 
the other in the bush at the back of Apia. They de- 
pend for their interest on the feature in common that 
a deep pool is overhung by a slant of rock, over which 
trickles a stream, and that by sitting in the stream at 
the top of the rock the swimmer may be plunged with 
high speed over the rocky surface and forced deep 
into the pool below. It is said in behalf of the Sa- 
moan Papase'ea that the slide is longer and steeper, 
the plunge more rapid, and the submersion in the 
pool deeper than in the Malayan example. 

This waterfall in the Samoan bush is, in fact, triple. 
The lower cascade has only about five or six feet of 
fall, and the basin at the foot is shallow. The middle 
one of the series has a fall of no more than a dozen 
feet, and the basin is only slightly deeper than the 
one below. The upper cascade falls thirty feet, and 
the basin is so deep that the swimmer coming over the 
fall does not touch bottom at the end of the plunge, 
although his velocity is excessive. The Samoans call 
these falls respectively the swimming places for chil- 
dren, for women and for men. It is to the latter fall 
only that the name of Papase'ea properly applies ; and 
very few travelers ever think of looking at the lower 
cascades of the series. 

The breakneck trail down the hill slope lands us in 
a leafy amphitheater, where stepping stones enable 
us to cross and recross the stream, while overhead 
the branches mix and meet to form a grateful shade. 
The lower side of this bowl in the valley is marked 



by a dike of volcanic rocks, worn smooth by the cours- 
ing waters, which pour along in an ungovernable tor- 
rent when there are storms in the hills. The upper 
ring is filled with a pool some six feet in depth and 
bounded by the smooth rocks and the trunks of tall 
trees. Into this pool flow several rills, which trickle 
at ordinary stages of the water from several slopes 
of the hillside. It is probable that these rills are all 
parts of the same stream which has been split up by 
obstacles above. Nothing at all is known about the 
stream higher up in the mountains, for its bed is quite 
impracticable for travel, with the rocks in one place 
and the fathomless bogs in another, and always 
the dense tangle of low-lying branches and interlacing 
lianas. And if the explorer comes upon a stream 
higher up in some clear place, it is impossible to 
identify it as the Papase'ea stream, for there are so 
many brooks on the Samoan mountains that one can- 
not be safely distinguished from another. It is prob- 
able that the stream is one of those which drain the 
central morass on the Tuasivi, for its waters are so 
cold as to point to a source at a high altitude. Where- 
ever these waters come from, they all collect in the 

This reservoir serves as a pressure regulator for the 
falls. After the heavy rains the stream is a raging 
mountain torrent, into which it would be suicide to 
plunge, as any one can see who will watch the force 
with which it tears out trees and great blocks of rock 
from the banks. But at ordinary stages, when there 
has been no storm in the higher altitudes, the water 



scarcely trickles over the portion of the volcanic dike 
which constitutes the sliding rock. 

The first three or four feet of this dike are nearly 
level, and owing to the wearing of the frequent floods 
as smooth as so much glass. The water trickles in a 
narrow channel worn but a few inches below the com- 
mon level. The next forty feet pitch downward at a 
sharp angle of the same glassy smoothness. Then 
the rock breaks off abruptly about ten feet above the 
surface of the water in the lower basin. This lower 
pool has been excavated by the floods to a depth of 
more than thirty feet, and has nearly vertical sides, 
so that there is only one small area of shallow water 
near the lower outlet. A geologist would probably 
class it as a large pot hole with a diameter of about 
forty feet. Into this pool the length of the slide is 
about fifty feet, the last ten of which are in the air, 
the slide along the rock being some forty feet of 
length, with a vertical descent before reaching the 
final plunge. 

When the water in the stream is low — that is, in 
general, when it is safe to essay the slide — there is 
not enough water going over the dike at the right 
spot to make it advisable to slide, for much escapes 
over other channels, and those channels are so filled 
with rugged rocks as to discourage any travel which 
involves the principles of sliding friction. But by 
damming the other outlets the water held in reserve 
in the upper pool can be concentrated until its whole 
volume passes over the smooth channel in the dike, 
where it can make the sheerest plunge to the basin 



below. When thus gathered the stream is about three 
feet wide at the brink of the fall and two inches deep. 

Captain Rason was still more than ever disinclined 
to engage in such sport after he had looked the 
ground over and had measured the depth with his 
finger. He took refuge in the science of hydraulics 
and proved to his own satisfaction that the slide could 
not be made in two inches of water without damage 

Meanwhile the others of the party were going to 
see the thing through without regard for mathematics 
at all. One of the Samoan girls undertook to carry 
one of the young Lieutenants over the rock just to 
show how. Down in the stream she sat and instructed 
him to sit behind her. The attitude was just the same 
as in coasting on a double-runner sled in the lands 
where there is snow. The principal point to be ob- 
served is that the Lieutenant shall look steadfastly 
over the girl's left shoulder while she wears her head 
to the right, for if the two heads should come together 
when they strike the water in the basin it might do 
damage. Having received all the necessary instruc- 
tions, the pair inched along the rock until the full 
force of the stream caught them. Then they went at 
breathless speed on the surface of the falling cascade 
down to the final flight through the air, and were sub- 
merged in the basin at the foot. 

The Captain, being in no restricted sense respon- 
sible to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty 
for the well-being of the officers committed to his 
care, watched the flight with anxiety, which was not 



relieved until he saw his officer climb out of the basin 
in good order and start to clamber up the face cf the 
rock. Then, convinced that the impossible was the 
easiest sort of thing if only you saw how it was done, 
the good Captain hastened to be the next to go over. 
Declining all aid, he sat in the stream, but he was too 
eager in hitching himself forward to the place where 
the current overcomes gravity. The force of the water 
took him broadside, and before he could correct his 
position he was sent rolling as well as sliding. Thus 
he came to the final flight head downward and made 
a magnificent dive into the basin. Thenceforward 
for an hour or more there was a steady succession of 
dripping humanity, Samoan and European, each 
awaiting the turn to go over the rock. Only one 
anxiety tended to mar the enjoyment — an anxiety 
voiced by my young Talolo between plunges when 
he asked, "Bimeby I think so we eat for you for 
me?" Reassured on that point, Talolo subsided, and 
the fun went on. 

The last plunge was the most daring of all. The 
engineer officer undertook to walk down the slope in 
the water. He explained that he was sure it was not 
as dangerous as we might think it, for the whole of 
his weight would tend to keep him on the rock, and 
the only purchase the water would have on him would 
be his ankles. He did walk steadily down the slope 
in the swirling water for at least twenty out of the 
forty feet of the slide. Then, as the current was carry- 
ing his feet out from under him, he gave a jump for- 
ward and apparently into the basin. But he said — 



and it is more probable — that he landed on his feet 
lower down the slope and took a second jump thence 
into the basin. Such a thing had never been heard 
of before at the sliding rock, and the Samoan wit- 
nesses may be counted on to put this record slide into 
their traditions. 

But sunset was fast approaching, and no Samoan 
is really comfortable in the bush after dark. As soon 
as we reached the Lotopa road again the sun went 
down and then the ride home was made in brilliant 




In these random narratives of fin and feather in 
the South Sea, under tropical skies, in the evening 
calm and the steady daytime blast of the trade-wind, 
in sun and torrents of the furious rain, it is only fair 
to anticipate one comment of the friendly critic. It 
may be thought that the game comes to bag too 
easily; that the percentage of kills is too high to be 
altogether real ; that if the fish refuse the bait they al- 
ways get into creel by some other device of net or 
trap. In the course of the tales various Samoan as- 
sociates in the free life of the sea and jungle have been 
introduced ; the ever faithful Tanoa has been aroused 
from his naps to render some needed service, the 
vivacious young Talolo has led the way to mountain 
nooks, and has been content with the opportunity to 
use the "shootgun," and has made his plaintive ap- 
peals for something to stay his appetite ; Tonga 
and Laulu, chiefs and common folk have con- 
tributed to the sport. They are all real person- 
ages, their characteristics are drawn from the life 
just as I learned to know them and to use their 
several talents. So, too, with the hunting; it is 
all the record of real experience, the few bright 
spots in an official position which was after all but an 
exile. The fish were indeed taken, the birds were in- 



deed killed, it is all fact. But to meet this criticism 
that all was too easy to be true I must devote this 
chapter to the adverse influences that all of us recog- 
nize as conditioning the sport of rod and gun. By 
this I do not mean the bird that is cleanly missed, the 
fish that breaks the tackle, the gang of hooks that 
get snarled in the coral. These are but accidents of 
sport that might happen to anybody and anywhere. 
Those which I mean are the hoodoos that spoil all the 
sport of a day. We can reason them aside as absurd 
superstitions in our country, but we must acknowl- 
edge their power ; but among the simple savages there 
is no chance to reason them away — they are very 
present realities, and when we meet them in South 
Sea waters, and on the island mountains, none of our 
acquired wisdom can expunge their power. 

In the islands the old gods are still very close to 
present life, despite the vigorous profession of the 
newer faith which the missionaries have introduced. 
On village greens the stone churches rise into prom- 
inence ; the people are unremitting in their attend- 
ance upon the services, wearing clean white shirts and 
gaudy bonnets, according to the sex of the worship- 
pers, and carrying their Bibles and hymn books 
wrapped in spotless handkerchiefs. But in the jungle 
and on the waters no Samoan quite forgets his an- 
cestral gods, the powers of nature, and in the do- 
main of the hunter and the fisher these old gods reign 
supreme. Moralists may not assume to blame them 
as untutored savages practising absurd superstitions 
of an inferior race, for if any moralist will only go 



a fishing with people of the infinitely superior Cau- 
casian race, he cannot avoid seeing a few practices 
which may not be superstitions, but which are cer- 
tainly believed necessary to luck. What the boy does 
to the worm after it is on the hook and before it goes 
into the stream is proof that there is kinship in prac- 
tice between the savage and the cultured sportsman. 

These, then, are a few of the conditions which make 
or mar the success of the hunter and the fisher in 

There is good luck in the tiny island parrot that 
nests in the coronal of the cocoanut trees. It is a 
bird no larger than the English sparrow, and quite as 
companionable. It is an impertinent bunch of brilliant 
plumage, green and red and blue ; it chatters all the 
day in the trees, and it flies fearlessly down about the 
houses and has no fear of people. Common as it 'is, 
it is credited with any amount of mana or super- 
natural power, and its movements are carefully 
watched. There is a long and tiresome song in 
Manu'a, which is now part of the United States, that 
arouses the anger of all the bickering Samoans in 
the westward islands of Tutuila and Upolu and Savaii, 
where the people think their kings amount to some- 
thing, yet have to confess the superiority of the king 
of Manu'a. It rehearses the distant flight of the par- 
rot from the mountain of Tau, how it passed over each 
island but did not alight, and therefore left none of 
its magic power. Then the song finishes with the ques- 
tion, "Malietoa, is that thy parrot? Why not catch 
it as it flies and then the magic power will be thine? 



But the parrot wings homeward to Mann'a without 
alighting, and seeks its nest on the mountain of Tau." 
This is enough to start a fight when sung in the hear- 
ing of one of the Malietoa clan. But even outside of 
Manu'a the parrot brings luck, particularly to such 
as go to the bush or out upon the reef in search of 
game. If when a party is setting out, a parrot should 
, fly down among them or should alight upon any of 
their tackle, success is assured. For this reason 
prudent sportsmen sit in the shade and wait for the 
parrot to bring them luck. 

Good luck is brought also by the little gecko lizard, 
the mo'o, that runs about the houses in search of its 
food, the eggs and larvae of insects. No one ever 
harms them, and they chase in and out among all 
one's belongings. They are timorous little animals, 
only two or three inches long; and a finger suddenly 
pointed at one will cause it to scuttle away like a flash 
of light and probably shed its tail to facilitate its 
escape from the threatened danger. Still, if a mo'o is 
found in the creel or game bag when it is taken 
down for use, it is a sure sign of success. They are 
pretty little beasts to look upon when they are poised 
for instant flight on the rim of the creel, head in air 
as if to scent the danger, their eyes mere vertical slits 
of deep purple in bands of orange, their little throats 
quivering with the beat of the excited little hearts. 

Quite the opposite is the effect of the other lizard, 
the blue pili, six or eight inches long. Fortunately 
it is rare about the homes of men, although common 
in the woodland ways. If it is found in any of the 



gear of hunting or of fishing, one might as well give 
up the trip. The least that can happen is failure ; it is 
more than likely that some distressing accident will 
follow the disregard of this warning. It is not only in 
sport that the malign influence is felt. If a blue lizard 
should drop upon the head or shoulders of a man 
under any circumstances, it is his death warrant, and 
it is very easy for these Samoans to lie down and die 
from such a cause as this. Luckily, the mere meet- 
ing of the pili on the path is innocuous, for within 
the limits of the jungle, even to the summits of the 
highest mountains I have scaled — and they are nearly 
a mile up above the sea — it is impossible to avoid the 
lizard that scampers across the path. The pili plays 
a most important part in the legends of Samoa. His 
original was the child of the high gods of the ninth 
heaven, and that is as high as one can go in the island 
succession of heavens. He had the power of trans- 
forming his shape and of living in the sea and in the 
rivers and in the springs and in various parts of the 
land. From each transformation various high native 
families trace their descent. But for the fisher and the 
hunter he is always bad medicine. 

The majestic frigate bird is another that brings 
blessing and curse according to circumstances. When 
fishing the frigate bird is all that could be desired. 
If he is seen winging his untiring flight over a fleet of 
canoes, and the fishers pray him to grant them fair 
wind, they feel that they are sure to have the wind 
and to come home with their canoes laden with the 
fish of the deep sea. But ashore it is different ; the 



frigate bird brings a baleful influence on the sport of 
pigeon netting. Every night and morning the frigate 
birds are seen high in air crossing the mountain ridges 
of each of the islands. It is a straight passage, for 
these are birds of the sea and are never known to 
alight on any Samoan island. They come in from 
sea at such an altitude that it is hard to discern their 
clear whiteness, but that altitude brings them close 
to the tree tops over the central ridges of the islands. 
These are the spots which, before firearms were in- 
troduced, were most affected by the netters of the 
island pigeon. That hunting was a very solemn cere- 
monial. It engaged for days at a time the whole 
population of the seaside villages, and was conducted 
in strict accordance with ancestral rules. If a pigeon 
party which had taken post on the stone platforms in 
the earliest dawn found a frigate bird swooping close 
to their nets as the day dawned, it was obligatory to 
relinquish the sport for that day. Not a pigeon could 
be caught, for the will of the mountain gods was dis- 
tinctly adverse. Against such a calamity it was neces- 
sary to pray hard and long in the last hours of the 
darkness, and to take scrupulous pains that the stone 
platforms should be free of all persons or things that 
were suspected of being out of luck. 

The same idea of good luck afloat and bad luck 
ashore attaches to the albinoes. There are not many 
of them in Samoa, and they are ghastly sights, with 
their flaxen hair and pink eyes, and white skins that 
the sun can never tan. It is hard to understand why 
these few sports of nature should be considered lucky 



on the sea, for in the brilliant glare of the sun they 
are almost blind, while in the depths of the jungle 
their vision improves in proportion to the obscuration 
of the light. That this commonly recognized feature 
of albinism has not passed the recognition of the Sa- 
moans is brought out clearly in one of the legendary 
tales that Tanoa once recited to me. In ancient times 
a village only a little way up the coast had a large 
number of albinoes, who seem to have carried things 
with a high hand, and to have made a nuisance of 
themselves by ruling the people of the ordinary coffee 
color. There was no respite until the legendary hero 
Polu came that way in the course of his self-appointed 
tour to wipe out the various demons which then in- 
fested Upolu, a sort of South Sea Jack the Giant- 
Killer. He told the people of this hag-ridden village 
to call a fono or town meeting for sunrise the next 
morning, and in the great house of the town to make 
a show of yielding to their blanched and pink-eyed 
disturbers of the peace by yielding them the post of 
honor at the west end of the house. As it was can- 
nily ordered by the hero, so was it done. The al- 
binoes came to the fono, and were duly gratified to 
find that the place of dignity was yielded to them with- 
out demur. But Polu asked that the screens about 
the house be drawn up. Then the east was lit with 
the glory of the dawn, as the deliberations began. At 
first the albinoes directed affairs with their usual high 
hand, but then the sun itself arose out of the morn- 
ing twilight, and its level beams entered at the eastern 
end where the screens were tied up, and fell sharply 



in the pink eyes of the albinoes and blinded them. 
While they were thus helpless by reason of this clever 
play upon their infirmity, the hero and the people fell 
upon them and slew them. Ever since that time the 
few albinoes have been lucky to have along when 
fishing, but unlucky companions on a hunting trip. 
Just why this should be so no one knows. Tanoa's 
only explanation is that it is an ancient legend. 

There is nothing in all the five islands that can bring 
better luck than the spider; not the small hunting 
spider that scurries over the walls of houses in pur- 
suit of flies, but the large one, as big as the palm of 
one's hand, that never builds a nest, but clings head 
downward on uprights, and watches the course of 
events with eyes that gleam mildly blue. What this 
spider does for a living I never have been able to dis- 
cover. It moves but slowly, it is never seen to bother 
a fly even at its very jaws, and it most certainly is 
harmless, even though terrifying by reason of its size. 
But it is lucky to have this ugly monster about one's 
hunting gear. It seems fortunate that it is lucky, for 
the spiders seemed to have a great liking for the bar- 
rels of my shotgun. I became so used to it that I 
never handled the gun without breaking it down and 
first blowing through the barrels to dislodge the 
lodgers which I knew I should find within. 

Other devices which bring luck are the free use of 
cocoanut oil on hooks and lines, and the careful ob- 
servance of old rites in connection with every canoe 
and line and paddle that is used in the bonito fishery. 
That is a very complicated sort of thing indeed, and 



as the bonito are by no means easy to catch, it is 
just as well to have some such excuse to fall back on. 

Now for the things which bring ill-luck and queer 
one's sport afloat or afield. They are well nigh in- 
finite. One must be forever on guard against the 
chance of meeting with a hoodoo of the most endur- 
ing consequences. 

The night before you must keep a watchful eye for 
shooting stars. They are a distinctly bad omen in 
general. They signify death of some chief indefinite- 
ly in the direction of their travel, and the death of 
one of the mighty is a bad thing. It forbids all fish- 
ing in that direction toward which the meteor flies, it 
forbids all hunting in the direction from which it 
comes. Even if one accords strict observance to these 
rules it is just as well when hunting along the course 
of the shooting star or fishing against it to take the 
precaution to knot into a corner of one's garb a 
black pebble and a white one just to ward off pos- 
sible mishaps. 

The foot-long centipede is an unpleasant companion 
at any time. His effect upon the skin gives a general 
impression of a tug of war team of angry wasps. 
When such a beast drops from the rafters of the house 
upon a party about to set out for the seaward fishing, 
or touches any of the gear, it is just as well to post- 
pone the trip, for lines will break, hooks will catch in 
the coral and be lost, nets will surely be torn and the 
fish escape. But if the trip is planned inland, whether 
for fish or birds, the hoodoo of such a mishap may be 
wiped out by crossing a patch of growing taro. What 



with the mud underfoot and the wetness of the great 
leaves of this plant, it is easy to see that the walk 
across an acre of such plantation really should have 
some good effect to counterbalance its discomfort. 

Fishermen must observe one precaution as to the 
tide. If they set out on the young flood they will 
have no luck. Slack water ebb is all right. Even the 
half flood has no bad effect. But when the tide just 
begins to make, no canoe must ever start out. It 
spoils a fishing trip also to launch a canoe bow fore- 
most. That is true of all water trips, whether after 
fish or on other business. I have watched the crew 
of our own boat take it from its storage beneath the 
house and set it in the water hundreds of times, and 
never once did I see them launch it otherwise than 
by the stern. To cough in a boat afloat is a danger 
that must be averted by prompt action. If under oars 
or paddles the crew immediately break stroke ; if un- 
der sail the man at the tiller makes it a point to 
spill the sail. Yet a sneeze is absolutely harmless. To 
expectorate from the boat into the sea is another 
dangerous thing to do. A fishing trip when this hap- 
pens might just as well be given up, for there is no 
hope of any catch. It is not permitted to bail a boat 
in white water, except it be on or within a reef. 

With the superstitious in this country it is lucky to 
meet a hunchback, particularly if one touches the 
hump. In Samoa it is the worst of luck and no one 
would ever dream of fishing or hunting in such com- 
pany. After such a chance encounter, the only way 
of obviating the evil influence is to turn backward 



to the house last passed, enter and sit down and take 
some refreshment, even if it be only a draft from a 
fresh cocoanut. This is all the more strange for the 
reason that there are very few such cripples, and they 
are treated with invariable kindness, being commonly 
used as jesters in the train of chiefs and village maids. 
It spoils fishing to encounter a rat in the water, 
and the same is true on the reefs when the devilfish 
throws one of its tentacles about the shin. As the 
common devilfish of the Samoan reefs has tentacles 
two and three feet long closely beset with suckers 
from the size of a two-bit piece down and a consider- 
able power to cut the flesh, the latter incident is not 
only a hoodoo but a distinctly unpleasant event. Just 
why the rat and the devilfish spoil sport was explained 
to me by Tanoa in another of his tales. Very long ago 
it happened that the bat and the devilfish and the rat 
met on a dry portion of the reef. They fell to a dis- 
cussion of their relative speed and challenged one an- 
other to a race to the beach. The bat took wing and 
easily beat the others, but in the contest for place the 
rat did not play fair. While it was swimming shore- 
ward it looked down in the water and saw the devil- 
fish swimming backward. The rat being well tired 
out, dove down to the devilfish, and seizing hold 
of it brought it to the surface. Thus the rat was 
ferried to shore, and when the devilfish grounded in 
the shallow water the rat leaped ashore and claimed 
second place. Just why this account should explain 
the hoodoo which these two animals put on the fisher- 
men is more than I could understand, but it seems 



to be quite plain to the Samoans. At any rate, when 
I expressed my doubts, Tanoa clinched matters by get- 
ting a devilfish for my inspection and pointing con- 
clusively to the marks upon its pouch, which were 
left by the ancestral rat which played this trick. 

Of all malign influences the worst is the aitu, the 
old Samoan god of place or family. Many times in 
these stories of lagoon and mountain jungle I have 
reported the dangers of aitu and the harm that they 
are capable of inflicting on the timorous islanders. 
All signs may be favorable for good sport, yet all of 
a sudden some busybody aitu interferes and queers 
the whole business. The white person never learns 
just how to recognize the coming of the aitu, but to 
the Samoan it is painfully clear. There was only one 
of the simplest signs of all that I ever learned to 
recognize, and that was the knotting of the grass 
across the pathway. I have no idea what could knot 
grass in this way, though there must be some simple 
explanation ; but to the Samoan intelligence it is 
proof positive of the passage of a malevolent demon 
of their old mythology. But whether it is a knotting 
of the grass or some of the more obscure signs, as 
soon as the Samoans have recognized the presence 
of an aitu the trip might just as well be abandoned, 
for the obstacles will multiply beyond all power of 

Some one or other of these signs made the suc- 
cess or failure of all my trips with rod and gun in the 
paths of the Samoan forests and streams and out upon 
the open sea. 




The natives of San Salvador, when they beheld the 
caravels of Columbus, hailed the newcomers as gods 
from heaven, so the Samoans greeted the first white 
men as Papalangi — "breaking through the sky." The 
term is now applied to the white residents there. 

The requirements of administration and of business 
impose on some few families the necessity of living 
in Apia amid discomfort, which would not elsewhere 
be tolerated. One is appalled at the list of things 
which may not be had in Apia, things without which 
housekeeping seems an impossibility. It ranges from 
a servant through the whole gamut of needs back to 
the servant again ; and if the servant were possible 
there is nothing for him to serve. 

Beyond the inevitable tin of something there is 
practically nothing. And how weary one grows of 
the tin. It is all alike, if the tin does not hold soup 
it holds meat, and if not meat then fish. The palate 
grows educated to a fine discernment of the shades 
of the tinny flavor ; some are so expert that they can 
distinguish infallibly between the corned beef packed 
in New Zealand and that packed in Queensland simply 





by the smack of the tin, but it is dreadful to contem- 
plate becoming so much of an epicure in flavors, 
which are nothing but metal after all. It sim- 
plifies such hospitality as may be exercised, the 
mistress of the house need never be taken aback by 
unexpected guests, she but orders that more tins be 

Attempts are made to alleviate the distress. A 
philanthropist of the beach had given up the sea to 
become the local butcher, but when the beef or the 
mutton, which was steer or sheep at sunrise, must for 
climatic reasons be cooked and eaten before sunset, 
no power on earth can help its toughness, no art of 
cookery can make it palatable. Even that old stand- 
by, the egg, is uncertain in supply, uncertain in every 
other way, and it is not appetizing to discover the de- 
tails of that uncertainty at the very table. Milk is 
creamless, scarce, often strongly flavored. It may be 
had from one overworked dairy if the supply is suffi- 
cient to go around, but there are no means of keeping 
it sound from meal to meal. Some Samoan capitalist 
may have a milch cow, then milk is peddled in gin 
bottles from house to house. Sometimes it has the 
flavor of the original gin, sometimes it tastes of bottles 
never known to be washed; it is always diluted with 
an eye to covering a longer list of customers, and the 
dilution is effected with water of the cocoanut, which 
adds a strong flavor of its own. Even such a staple 
as the potato comes with not only the added cost 
of freight from San Francisco or Auckland, accord- 
ing to the season, but a week or a fortnight in the 


SAMOA '13 MA. 

warmth of a steamship's hold has not improved the 
condition of the necessary tuber. Once there came a 
fisherman who undertook to supply fish, the waters 
being full of them. He exercised his gentle calling for 
just one calendar month, then he packed up his nets 
and moved on to a place where he met with a pros- 
pect of making a living. Samoans are irregular pro- 
viders of the fruits of the earth, for high prices they 
peddle spasmodically when pressed by need of coin. 
Sometimes it is possible to get tomatoes the size of 
a moderately large marble, sometimes string beans a 
yard long, sometimes cucumbers for stewing. Bread- 
fruit and taro are accepted under protest as a substi- 
tute for the potato, the yam is rarely to be had, the 
umala is a soggy and red sweet potato and seldom ob- 
tainable. In their proper seasons mangoes are abun- 
dant, bananas are common most months of the year, 
the pineapple is delicious, the avogado pear is some- 
times seen. Lemons are unknown, limes abundantly 
replace them. Oranges are to be had only once a 
month, after the arrival of the inter-island steamer 
from Tonga, for the scale was some years ago ad- 
mitted into Samoa and has destroyed its groves of 
oranges, of which the green-skinned variety was con- 
sidered the superior of all citrus fruits. 

These are the limitations of the domestic side of 
Apia, the material limitations. They are still more 
restricted by the service problem. The Samoan works 
with difficulty, with a mental reservation. He con- 
fers a favor by assuming charge of the house, and 
makes you feel the debt of obligation. It might be 



possible to train him, the Mission establishments are 
always dealing with that problem ; but it would be 
useless, for as soon as he was well trained he would 
leave. Not that he would strike for higher wages or 
would be tempted off to give some neighbor the bene- 
fit of the training, he would just naturally arrive at 
the conclusion that he had toiled enough to last him 
for a few years or for the rest of his natural and lazy 
life. In a community so crammed with fixed ideas, 
the question of wages admits of no argument. When 
the rate is to be settled he announces that he must 
have seven shillings a week or twenty-five dollars a 
month. Of course he is hired on the cheaper terms 
of the weekly employment, and he is quite as con- 
tent. He sleeps off the premises, in fact, he inclines 
to be off the premises just as much as he can manage. 
Between meals he may be found curled up on the 
floor of the cook house fast asleep, a boy who will 
do that even to the neglect of his work, is considered 
a treasure of reliability. More likely he must be 
hunted for in the village, where he is cutting a large 
figure in some noisy game of cricket or stick-throw- 
ing, or possibly at a kava drinking and not to be in- 
terrupted. He must have the greater part of his after- 
noon to himself for his swim. On Sundays the meals 
have to be sandwiched hastily in between the rapid 
recurrence of the services in the native church. At 
no time will he consent to do anything which was not 
expressly stipulated at the time of his hiring. Some- 
times he fails to appear at all, he is sick, or what is 
worse, he is suffering from an attack of some malevo- 



lent aitu or demon of the woods and darkness. In 
such a case, if he is an honest boy (such honesty is 
rare), he will send a substitute, some boy who does 
not know even how to boil water; credit may be 
given for his good intentions, the work none the less 
falls on the housewife. His brother often comes to 
dinner — on such occasions it is always a brother — if 
the matter is not taken in a strong hand, the whole 
family will follow. As it is, the Samoans in the next 
houses fare better than their wont, if they keep on 
friendly terms with the cook boy. 

A dinner table was a lesson in geography. The 
things set out to eat might come from the most dis- 
tant regions, in fact, they usually did. In nothing did 
this oddity more clearly appear than in the visit of the 
lone circumnavigator, Captain Joshua Slocum of the 
Spray. His last port of call had been Robinson Cru- 
soe's Island of Juan Fernandez, where he had taken 
in a supply of the mammoth onions, which must ever 
prove a strong reminder of that distant spot. It hap- 
pened that just then we had a sack of New Zealand 
potatoes when the Captain came to make his official 
call. Onions as well as potatoes were a luxury in the 
tropics, and a satisfactory exchange was speedily ef- 
fected to general satisfaction. It was in Samoa that 
this lonely seafaring man disposed of the remnant of 
his dinghey, which became a washtub for the laundry 
of such finer wear as I could not find it prudent to 
confide to the mercies of the ordinary Samoan washer- 

The insect life is but one more item in the sum 



total of domestic despair. Fortunately flies are rare 
except when the bread-fruit is in bloom, and that hap- 
pens only twice a year. But the mosquito is a tor- 
ment, he will not come out into the open, even the 
light of a lamp will keep him off at night, but in 
every dark place he lies in wait and bites most fiercely, 
for every bite a stinging blister. Ants are a necessary 
article of diet, it is impossible to keep them out of 
food ; all tables and cupboards may be set in pans of 
solution of corrosive sublimate, yet the ant seems 
proof against such corrosion. Cockroach monsters 
creep in dark corners, as long as a finger ; they will 
eat anything, but have a special fondness for eating 
out the stitches of shoes and other leather goods. 
Leather turns pale blue with mildew over night, 
one's clothing molds unless aired at short intervals ; 
and even that gives no protection against the 
insects, which seem to live only in dress goods when 
made up. 

These are but some of the conditions under which 
the white people live in Apia. Society is limited in 
other ways. The officials may bring with them some 
of the larger thoughts of the larger world from which 
they come, but the deadness of the petty cares of the 
archipelago over which they must spend their time 
reduces every idea to the level sameness. The tiny 
community is rent with jealousies, which have come 
down from the bitter days before the partition, when 
each nation faced the other in enmity, which fell little 
short of the clash of arms. Public spirit there is none 
of any sort, social amusements are an impossibility in 



a community of such startling mixture, a dance is 
only for the more enterprising among the half-castes 
and others, who are not over sensitive as to the con- 
dition of their partner so long as he can manage to 
keep his legs. Upon the good ladies at the Mission 
compound has fallen the herculean task of provid- 
ing some sort of social life in Apia; they are yet at 
the very initial step in trying to create the demand. 
They have a reading room and coffee house in the 
hope that it will attract the men from the worse places. 
But there is only one coffee house, there are twelve 
bars. It is only once in a long while that one sees 
some one in the reading room looking at the foreign 
papers, the rest of the population is in the twelve bar- 
rooms, as may be seen from the road and may be 
heard, too. The ladies have tried to awaken an inter- 
est in tennis, and have opened the neat lawns of the 
compound for that end. Seldom are more than two 
players seen. It is discouraging, no wonder the Mis- 
sion ladies break down. 

It used to be that Apia was called the hell of the 
Pacific. They claim that it has undergone a great 
improvement. Well, those who profess to know say 
that it was a great deal worse before the hurricane. 

One very hot day, and while Tonga was busily en- 
gaged with her sewing machine out on the veranda 
of the Consulate, a war canoe appeared near the reef. 
She quit her work and gazed steadily out over the 
glassy waters of the lagoon and toward the native 
canoe with its burden of savages. "Barnum's circus 
good place," she muttered, as she lighted a cigarette. 



"Oh, I think so, hell near to this place, I sure. Hell 
near to ground here make so hot, make Samoa people 
fool people. I like go back Meleke, Barnum's circus, 
plenty fun, not much fight, plenty ice cream. I like 
ice cream, I like eat plenty good things. Fool 
Samoa people fight, cut down cocoannt trees, 
bimeby no more anything to eat in all Samoa." Hell 
still exists thereabouts, at least in Tonga's way of 

Once a month, more correctly once in every fourth 
week, in the time when through mail steamers did 
call at Apia, the world loomed up on the horizon, 
something came briefly into sight which was not Apia, 
which was not Samoa. Then the Papalangi rejoiced, 
for it was steamer day. 

Some one once not inaptly described the journalistic 
policy of the sole weekly paper. Counting from the 
mail period he said : "The first Saturday the editor 
finds fault with the American Consul ; the second Sat- 
urday he finds fault with the German Consul ; the 
third Saturday, being English, he does not find fault 
with the British Consul, but, he makes up for it by 
coming out strong in disapproval of things in gen- 
eral ; the fourth Saturday after the mail steamer he 
has the news of the world, and is too busy and too 
well satisfied to find any fault at all." 

It portrays the situation even slightly at the ex- 
pense of the Samoan editor than whom no one knows 
better how sad a task it is to make a newspaper and 
remain on speaking terms with a difficult subscription 
list. For dreary weeks of uneventful days the white 



people are cut off from the earth as much as if they 
were camped in the mountains of the moon ; more so, 
even, for in the moon there would be a chance to 
see the earth, in Apia there is nothing to see but the 
empty rim of the Pacific Ocean. Under such con- 
ditions men and women reckoned ahead to steamer 
day as the youngsters check off the days before Christ- 
mas. At last the fourth Thursday came, the day 
when the steamer should come into sight on the 
northern horizon, if there had been no delay. It is 
safe to say that little was done on that day but watch 
for the tinge of blue far to the vacant north. People 
did not stray far out of range of the flagpole on the 
end of Matautu Point, where the pilot hoists the sig- 
nal of a vessel in sight. From the first sighting of 
the smoke far away it was about two hours until the 
ship came in from San Francisco. Once the mail 
was five days late, such suspense cannot be imagined, 
one must experience the trial to comprehend it. 

As the steamer rounded into the mouth of the pas- 
sage in the coral reef and dropped her anchor ju.t 
within the mouth where the Trenton struggled with 
the courage of giants against the despair of defective 
boilers to win out from the destruction which the 
Calliope only barely succeeded in escaping, a mile 
an hour out through this narrow gap, the harbor 
seemed alive with boats of all sorts, from the huge 
cargo punts of the German firm with their crews of 
cannibal black boys to the boats of official life. In 
the first flight were the gigs of the three Consuls fly- 
ing their national colors and with their stout crews 



in distinctive uniforms. They had reason to be first 
on the scene, for their mail bags were waiting for them 
on the steamer deck, and they were keen to get the 
instructions from their superior authorities in settle- 
ment of this or that question of the native state over 
which a decision might have been for many months 
awaited, while the matter must remain in abeyance 
pending the decision of Washington, London and 
Berlin. About the gangway clustered the wherries 
of the watermen, whose services were needed by the 
passengers if they would go ashore. Waiting for the 
traffic to clear away and to give them a chance to 
board, were canoes of Samoans ready to occupy the 
decks with their small wares for sale, themselves as 
interesting to the tourist as their goods. 

Ashore the beach was crowded with the sightseers 
keen to make the most of their short stay; rarely 
did the steamer bring a passenger who intended to 
stay ashore, to most of them it was an agreeable break 
in the monotony of the days at sea upon an ocean 
where a sail may not be sighted from the steamer 
for year after year. Samoan peddlers crowded about 
them with goods for sale, men with saddled horses 
proposed to take them to this or that point supposed 
to combine interest with sufficient nearness to be ac- 
complished while the steamer lay at anchor, six hours 
as a rule. For once the beach road was a whirl of life 
and activity. All the white residents of the town, 
except those who were quite as diligent as the Sa- 
moans in the attempt to extract the tourist coin, were 
busy opening letters and papers, dipping into the 



confused jumble of the news of a whole month in 
a bunch, and that, at least, a fortnight old. In time 
the whistle sounded its warning, the anchor left the 
coral bed, the trip was resumed. Two days later there 
was another arrival, the inter-island boat from Auck- 
land by way of Tongan ports. As it went out on 
Sunday to Fiji and on to Sydney, it was replaced by 
the sister ship making the same trip in the reverse 
order. This, too, sailed away, and on the following 
Wednesday the northbound mail came into port. The 
bustle and rush was repeated, this was the steamer 
which carried the letters home, carried home those 
who were able to get away from the place. 

Then might often be seen some of the great boats 
of the Samoans, decorated with awnings, flags and 
wreaths of flowers. When some one is going away 
whom they regard or for whom they wish to show 
honor, these boats are employed, with the music of 
farewell songs and cheerings to put their friend 
aboard the steamship for his voyage. It is a fre- 
quent sight and not at all an unusual one to the resi- 
dents, although the tourist passengers are undoubt- 
edly duly impressed. On such occasions one always 
hears the favorite parting song of the Samoans to 
their friends, it was written by a native poet in honor 
of Admiral Kimberly when he sailed home after the 
hurricane which wrecked his flotilla. The chorus is 
the most noteworthy part of the music ; while the 
verses are frequently altered to suit other occasions, 
the chorus remains the same. It is given in the 
native text as a fair specimen of native versification 



and accompanied with a literal translation. The 
first line is intentionally in imitation of the Eng- 
lish of it. 

Tutu-pai, viai feleni! 
'0 le a 'ou te'a, 
A folau le va'a 

le ali'i-pule Mcleke. 
Ne'i galo mai Apia 
Si 'ou ta 'cle'ele, 

A e manatua mai pea 
'0 le 'aupasese. 

Good-bye, my friend, 

1 am about to lose thee, 
And the ship is sailing 

Of the American ruling chief. 

Forget not thou Apia 

My own dear soil, 

But may remembrance endure 

Among the passengers. 




i Pierce 



MA/ 2 5 1959 

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