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Chapter Eighteen



RETURNING health and peace of mind gave a new interest to
everything around me.  I sought to diversify my time by as many
enjoyments as lay within my reach.  Bathing in company with
troops of girls formed one of my chief amusements.  We sometimes
enjoyed the recreation in the waters of a miniature lake, to
which the central stream of the valley expanded.  This lovely
sheet of water was almost circular in figure, and about three
hundred yards across.  Its beauty was indescribable.  All around
its banks waved luxuriant masses of tropical foliage, soaring
high above which were seen, here and there, the symmetrical shaft
of the cocoanut tree, surmounted by its tufts of graceful
branches, drooping in the air like so many waving ostrich plumes.

The ease and grace with which the maidens of the valley propelled
themselves through the water, and their familiarity with the
element, were truly astonishing.  Sometimes the might be seen
gliding along just under the surface, without apparently moving
hand or foot--then throwing themselves on their sides, they
darted through the water, revealing glimpses of their forms, as,
in the course of their rapid progress, they shot for an instant
partly into the air--at one moment they dived deep down into the
water, and the next they rose bounding to the surface.

I remember upon one occasion plunging in among a parcel of these
river-nymphs, and counting vainly on my superior strength, sought
to drag some of them under the water, but I quickly repented my
temerity.  The amphibious young creatures swarmed about me like a
shoal of dolphins, and seizing hold of my devoted limbs, tumbled
me about and ducked me under the surface, until from the strange
noises which rang in my ears, and the supernatural visions
dancing before my eyes, I thought I was in the land of the
spirits.  I stood indeed as little chance among them as a
cumbrous whale attacked on all sides by a legion of swordfish.  
When at length they relinquished their hold of me, they swam away
in every direction, laughing at my clumsy endeavours to to reach

There was no boat on the lake; but at my solicitation and for my
special use, some of the,young men attached to Marheyo's
household, under the direction of the indefatigable Kory-Kory,
brought up a light and tastefully carved canoe from the sea.  It
was launched upon the sheet of water, and floated there as
gracefully as a swan.  But, melancholy to relate, it produced an
effect I had not anticipated.  The sweet nymphs, who had sported
with me before on the lake, now all fled its vicinity.  The
prohibited craft, guarded by the edicts of the 'taboo,' extended
the prohibition to the waters in which it lay.

For a few days, Kory-Kory, with one or two other youths,
accompanied me in my excursions to the lake, and while I paddled
about in my light canoe, would swim after me shouting and
gambolling in pursuit.  But I as ever partial to what is termed
in the 'Young Men's Own Book'--'the society of virtuous and
intelligent young ladies;' and in the absence of the mermaids,
the amusement became dull and insipid.  One morning I expressed
to my faithful servitor my desire for the return of the nymphs.  
The honest fellow looked at me bewildered for a moment,, and then
shook his head solemnly, and murmured 'taboo!  taboo!' giving me
to understand that unless the canoe was removed I could not
expect to have the young ladies back again.  But to this
procedure I was averse; I not only wanted the canoe to stay where
it was, but I wanted the beauteous Fayaway to get into it, and
paddle with me about the lake.  This latter proposition
completely horrified Kory-Kory's notions of propriety.  He
inveighed against it, as something too monstrous to be thought
of.  It not only shocked their established notions of propriety,
but was at variance with all their religious ordinances.

However, although the 'taboo' was a ticklish thing to meddle
with, I determined to test its capabilities of resisting an
attack.  I consulted the chief Mehevi, who endeavoured to
dissuade me from my object; but I was not to be repulsed; and
accordingly increased the warmth of my solicitations.  At last he
entered into a long, and I have no doubt a very learned and
eloquent exposition of the history and nature of the 'taboo' as
affecting this particular case; employing a variety of most
extraordinary words, which, from their amazing length and
sonorousness, I have every reason to believe were of a
theological nature.  But all that he said failed to convince me:
partly, perhaps, because I could not comprehend a word that he
uttered; but chiefly, that for the life of me I could not
understand why a woman would not have as much right to enter a
canoe as a man.  At last he became a little more rational, and
intimated that, out of the abundant love he bore me, he would
consult with the priests and see what could be done.

How it was that the priesthood of Typee satisfied the affair with
their consciences, I know not; but so it was, and Fayaway
dispensation from this portion of the taboo was at length
procured.  Such an event I believe never before had occurred in
the valley; but it was high time the islanders should be taught a
little gallantry, and I trust that the example I set them may
produce beneficial effects.  Ridiculous, indeed, that the lovely
creatures should be obliged to paddle about in the water, like so
many ducks, while a parcel of great strapping fellows skimmed
over its surface in their canoes.

The first day after Fayaway's emancipation, I had a delightful
little party on the lake--the damsels' Kory-Kory, and myself.  My
zealous body-servant brought from the house a calabash of
poee-poee, half a dozen young cocoanuts--stripped of their
husks--three pipes, as many yams, and me on his back a part of
the way.  Something of a load; but Kory-Kory was a very strong
man for his size, and by no means brittle in the spine.  We had a
very pleasant day; my trusty valet plied the paddle and swept us
gently along the margin of the water, beneath the shades of the
overhanging thickets.  Fayaway and I reclined in the stern of the
canoe, on the very best terms possible with one another; the
gentle nymph occasionally placing her pipe to her lip, and
exhaling the mild fumes of the tobacco, to which her rosy breath
added a fresh perfume.  Strange as it may seem, there is nothing
in which a young and beautiful female appears to more advantage
than in the act of smoking.  How captivating is a Peruvian lady,
swinging in her gaily-woven hammock of grass, extended between
two orange-trees, and inhaling the fragrance of a choice cigarro!

But Fayaway, holding in her delicately formed olive hand the long
yellow reed of her pipe, with its quaintly carved bowl, and every
few moments languishingly giving forth light wreaths of vapour
from her mouth and nostrils, looked still more engaging.

We floated about thus for several hours, when I looked up to the
warm, glowing, tropical sky, and then down into the transparent
depths below; and when my eye, wandering from the bewitching
scenery around, fell upon the grotesquely-tattooed form of
Kory-Kory, and finally, encountered the pensive gaze of Fayaway,
I thought I had been transported to some fairy region, so unreal
did everything appear.

This lovely piece of water was the coolest spot in all the
valley, and I now made it a place of continual resort during the
hottest period of the day.  One side of it lay near the
termination of a long gradually expanding gorge, which mounted to
the heights that environed the vale.  The strong trade wind, met
in its course by these elevations, circled and eddied about their
summits, and was sometimes driven down the steep ravine and swept
across the valley, ruffling in its passage the otherwise tranquil
surface of the lake.

One day, after we had been paddling about for some time, I
disembarked Kory-Kory, and paddled the canoe to the windward side
of the lake.  As I turned the canoe, Fayaway, who was with me,
seemed all at once to be struck with some happy idea.  With a
wild exclamation of delight, she disengaged from her person the
ample robe of tappa which was knotted over her shoulder (for the
purpose of shielding her from the sun), and spreading it out like
a sail, stood erect with upraised arms in the head of the canoe.  
We American sailors pride ourselves upon our straight, clean
spars, but a prettier little mast than Fayaway made was never
shipped aboard of any craft.

In a moment the tappa was distended by the breeze--the long brown
tresses of Fayaway streamed in the air--and the canoe glided
rapidly through the water, and shot towards the shore.  Seated in
the stem, I directed its course with my paddle until it dashed up
the soft sloping bank, and Fayaway, with a light spring alighted
on the ground; whilst Kory-Kory, who had watched our manoeuvres
with admiration, now clapped his hands in transport, and shouted
like a madman.  Many a time afterwards was this feat repeated.

If the reader has not observed ere this that I was the declared
admirer of Miss Fayaway, all I can say is that he is little
conversant with affairs of the heart, and I certainly shall not
trouble myself to enlighten him any farther.  Out of the calico I
had brought from the ship I made a dress for this lovely girl.  
In it she looked, I must confess, something like an opera-dancer.

The drapery of the latter damsel generally commences a little
above the elbows, but my island beauty's began at the waist, and
terminated sufficiently far above the ground to reveal the most
bewitching ankle in the universe.

The day that Fayaway first wore this robe was rendered memorable
by a new acquaintance being introduced to me.  In the afternoon I
was lying in the house when I heard a great uproar outside; but
being by this time pretty well accustomed to the wild halloos
which were almost continually ringing through the valley, I paid
little attention to it, until old Marheyo, under the influence of
some strange excitement, rushed into my presence and communicated
the astounding tidings, 'Marnoo pemi!' which being interpreted,
implied that an individual by the name of Marnoo was approaching.

My worthy old friend evidently expected that this intelligence
would produce a great effect upon me, and for a time he stood
earnestly regarding me, as if curious to see how I should conduct
myself, but as I remained perfectly unmoved, the old gentleman
darted out of the house again, in as great a hurry as he had
entered it.

'Marnoo, Marnoo,' cogitated I, 'I have never heard that name
before.  Some distinguished character, I presume, from the
prodigious riot the natives are making;' the tumultuous noise
drawing nearer and nearer every moment, while 'Marnoo!--Marnoo!'
was shouted by every tongue.

I made up my mind that some savage warrior of consequence, who
had not yet enjoyed the honour of an audience, was desirous of
paying his respects on the present occasion.  So vain had I
become by the lavish attention to which I had been accustomed,
that I felt half inclined, as a punishment for such neglect, to
give this Marnoo a cold reception, when the excited throng came
within view, convoying one of the most striking specimens of
humanity that I ever beheld.

The stranger could not have been more than twenty-five years of
age, and was a little above the ordinary height; had he a single
hair's breadth taller, the matchless symmetry of his form would
have been destroyed.  His unclad limbs were beautifully formed;
whilst the elegant outline of his figure, together with his
beardless cheeks, might have entitled him to the distinction of
standing for the statue of the Polynesian Apollo; and indeed the
oval of his countenance and the regularity of every feature
reminded one of an antique bust.  But the marble repose of art
was supplied by a warmth and liveliness of expression only to be
seen in the South Sea Islander under the most favourable
developments of nature.  The hair of Marnoo was a rich curling
brown, and twined about his temples and neck in little close
curling ringlets, which danced up and down continually, when he
was animated in conversation.  His cheek was of a feminine
softness, and his face was free from the least blemish of
tattooing, although the rest of his body was drawn all over with
fanciful figures, which--unlike the unconnected sketching usual
among these natives--appeared to have been executed in conformity
with some general design.

The tattooing on his back in particular attracted my attention.  
The artist employed must indeed have excelled in his profession.  
Traced along the course of the spine was accurately delineated
the slender, tapering and diamond checkered shaft of the
beautiful 'artu' tree.  Branching from the stem on each side, and
disposed alternately, were the graceful branches drooping with
leaves all correctly drawn and elaborately finished.  Indeed the
best specimen of the Fine Arts I had yet seen in Typee.  A rear
view of the stranger might have suggested the idea of a spreading
vine tacked against a garden wall.  Upon his breast, arms and
legs, were exhibited an infinite variety of figures; every one of
which, however, appeared to have reference to the general effect
sought to be produced.  The tattooing I have described was of the
brightest blue, and when contrasted with the light olive-colour
of the skin, produced an unique and even elegant effect.  A
slight girdle of white tappa, scarcely two inches in width, but
hanging before and behind in spreading tassels, composed the
entire costume of the stranger.

He advanced surrounded by the islanders, carrying under one arm a
small roll of native cloth, and grasping in his other hand a long
and richly decorated spear.  His manner was that of a traveller
conscious that he is approaching a comfortable stage in his
journey.  Every moment he turned good-humouredly on the throng
around him, and gave some dashing sort of reply to their
incessant queries, which appeared to convulse them with
uncontrollable mirth.

Struck by his demeanour, and the peculiarity of his appearance,
so unlike that of the shaven-crowned and face-tattooed natives in
general, I involuntarily rose as he entered the house, and
proffered him a seat on the mats beside me.  But without deigning
to notice the civility, or even the more incontrovertible fact of
my existence, the stranger passed on, utterly regardless of me,
and flung himself upon the further end of the long couch that
traversed the sole apartment of Marheyo's habitation.

Had the belle of the season, in the pride of her beauty and
power, been cut in a place of public resort by some supercilious
exquisite, she could not have felt greater indignation than I did
at this unexpected slight.

I was thrown into utter astonishment.  The conduct of the savages
had prepared me to anticipate from every newcomer the same
extravagant expressions of curiosity and regard.  The singularity
of his conduct, however, only roused my desire to discover who
this remarkable personage might be, who now engrossed the
attention of every one.

Tinor placed before him a calabash of poee-poee, from which the
stranger regaled himself, alternating every mouthful with some
rapid exclamation, which was eagerly caught up and echoed by the
crowd that completely filled the house.  When I observed the
striking devotion of the natives to him, and their temporary
withdrawal of all attention from myself, I felt not a little
piqued.  The glory of Tommo is departed, thought I, and the
sooner he removes from the valley the better.  These were my
feelings at the moment, and they were prompted by that glorious
principle inherent in all heroic natures--the strong-rooted
determination to have the biggest share of the pudding or to go
without any of it.

Marnoo, that all-attractive personage, having satisfied his
hunger and inhaled a few whiffs from a pipe which was handed to
him, launched out into an harangue which completely enchained the
attention of his auditors.

Little as I understood of the language, yet from his animated
gestures and the varying expression of his features--reflected as
from so many mirrors in the countenances around him, I could
easily discover the nature of those passions which he sought to
arouse.  From the frequent recurrence of the words 'Nukuheva' and
'Frannee' (French), and some others with the meaning of which I
was acquainted, he appeared to be rehearsing to his auditors
events which had recently occurred in the neighbouring bays.  But
how he had gained the knowledge of these matters I could not
understand, unless it were that he had just come from Nukuheva--a
supposition which his travel-stained appearance not a little
supported.  But, if a native of that region, I could not account
for his friendly reception at the hands of the Typees.

Never, certainly, had I beheld so powerful an exhibition of
natural eloquence as Marnoo displayed during the course of his
oration.  The grace of the attitudes into which he threw his
flexible figure, the striking gestures of his naked arms, and
above all, the fire which shot from his brilliant eyes, imparted
an effect to the continually changing accents of his voice, of
which the most accomplished orator might have been proud.  At one
moment reclining sideways upon the mat, and leaning calmly upon
his bended arm, he related circumstantially the aggressions of
the French--their hostile visits to the surrounding bays,
enumerating each one in succession--Happar, Puerka, Nukuheva,
Tior,--and then starting to his feet and precipitating himself
forward with clenched hands and a countenance distorted with
passion, he poured out a tide of invectives.  Falling back into
an attitude of lofty command, he exhorted the Typees to resist
these encroachments; reminding them, with a fierce glance of
exultation, that as yet the terror of their name had preserved
them from attack, and with a scornful sneer he sketched in
ironical terms the wondrous intrepidity of the French, who, with
five war-canoes and hundreds of men, had not dared to assail the
naked warriors of their valley.

The effect he produced upon his audience was electric; one and
all they stood regarding him with sparkling eyes and trembling
limbs, as though they were listening to the inspired voice of a

But it soon appeared that Marnoo's powers were as versatile as
they were extraordinary.  As soon as he had finished his vehement
harangue, he threw himself again upon the mats, and, singling out
individuals in the crowd, addressed them by name, in a sort of
bantering style, the humour of which, though nearly hidden from
me filled the whole assembly with uproarious delight.

He had a word for everybody; and, turning rapidly from one to
another, gave utterance to some hasty witticism, which was sure
to be followed by peals of laughter.  To the females as well as
to the men, he addressed his discourse.  Heaven only knows what
he said to them, but he caused smiles and blushes to mantle their
ingenuous faces.  I am, indeed, very much inclined to believe
that Marnoo, with his handsome person and captivating manners,
was a sad deceiver among the simple maidens of the island.

During all this time he had never, for one moment, deigned to
regard me.  He appeared, indeed, to be altogether unconscious of
my presence.  I was utterly at a loss how to account for this
extraordinary conduct.  I easily perceived that he was a man of
no little consequence among the islanders; that he possessed
uncommon talents; and was gifted with a higher degree of
knowledge than the inmates of the valley.  For these reasons, I
therefore greatly feared lest having, from some cause or other,
unfriendly feelings towards me, he might exert his powerful
influence to do me mischief.

It seemed evident that he was not a permanent resident of the
vale, and yet, whence could he have come?  On all sides the
Typees were girt in by hostile tribes, and how could he possibly,
if belonging to any of these, be received with so much

The person appearance of the enigmatical stranger suggested
additional perplexities.  The face, free from tattooing, and the
unshaven crown, were peculiarities I had never before remarked in
any part of the island, end I had always heard that the contrary
were considered the indispensable distinction of a Marquesan
warrior.  Altogether the matter was perfectly incomprehensible to
me, and I awaited its solution with no small degree of anxiety.

At length, from certain indications, I suspected that he was
making me the subject of his remarks, although he appeared
cautiously to avoid either pronouncing my name, or looking in the
direction where I lay.  All at once he rose from the mats where
he had been reclining, and, still conversing, moved towards me,
his eye purposely evading mine, and seated himself within less
than a yard of me.  I had hardly recovered from my surprise, when
he suddenly turned round, and, with a most benignant countenance
extended his right hand gracefully towards me.  Of course I
accepted the courteous challenge, and, as soon as our palms met,
he bent towards me, and murmured in musical accents--'How you
do?'  'How long you been in this bay?'  'You like this bay?'

Had I been pierced simultaneously by three Happar spears, I could
not have started more than I did at hearing these simple
questions.  For a moment I was overwhelmed with astonishment, and
then answered something I know not what; but as soon as I
regained my self-possession, the thought darted through my mind
that from this individual I might obtain that information
regarding Toby which I suspected the natives had purposely
withheld from me.  Accordingly I questioned him concerning the
disappearance of my companion, but he denied all knowledge of the
matter.  I then inquired from whence he had come?  He replied,
from Nukuheva.  When I expressed my surprise, he looked at me for
a moment, as if enjoying my perplexity, and then with his strange
vivacity, exclaimed,--'Ah!  me taboo,--me go Nukuheva,--me go
Tior,--me go Typee,--me go everywhere,--nobody harm me,--me

This explanation would have been altogether unintelligible to me,
had it not recalled to my mind something I had previously heard
concerning a singular custom among these islanders.  Though the
country is possessed by various tribes, whose mutual hostilities
almost wholly prelude any intercourse between them; yet there are
instances where a person having ratified friendly relations with
some individual belonging longing to the valley, whose inmates
are at war with his own, may, under particular restrictions,
venture with impunity into the country of his friend, where,
under other circumstances, he would have been treated as an
enemy.  In this light are personal friendships regarded among
them, and the individual so protected is said to be 'taboo', and
his person, to a certain extent, is held as sacred.  Thus the
stranger informed me he had access to all the valleys in the

Curious to know how he had acquired his knowledge of English, I
questioned him on the subject.  At first, for some reason or
other, he evaded the inquiry, but afterwards told me that, when a
boy, he had been carried to sea by the captain of a trading
vessel, with whom he had stayed three years, living part of the
time with him at Sidney in Australia, and that at a subsequent
visit to the island, the captain had, at his own request,
permitted him to remain among his countrymen.  The natural
quickness of the savage had been wonderfully improved by his
intercourse with the white men, and his partial knowledge of a
foreign language gave him a great ascendancy over his less
accomplished countrymen.

When I asked the now affable Marnoo why it was that he had not
previously spoken to me, he eagerly inquired what I had been led
to think of him from his conduct in that respect.  I replied,
that I had supposed him to be some great chief or warrior, who
had seen plenty of white men before, and did not think it worth
while to notice a poor sailor.  At this declaration of the
exalted opinion I had formed of him, he appeared vastly
gratified, and gave me to understand that he had purposely
behaved in that manner, in order to increase my astonishment, as
soon as he should see proper to address me.

Marnoo now sought to learn my version of the story as to how I
came to be an inmate of the Typee valley.  When I related to him
the circumstances under which Toby and I had entered it, he
listened with evident interest; but as soon as I alluded to the
absence, yet unaccounted for, of my comrade, he endeavoured to
change the subject, as if it were something he desired not to
agitate.  It seemed, indeed, as if everything connected with Toby
was destined to beget distrust and anxiety in my bosom.  
Notwithstanding Marnoo's denial of any knowledge of his fate, I
could not avoid suspecting that he was deceiving me; and this
suspicion revived those frightful apprehensions with regard to my
own fate, which, for a short time past, had subsided in my

Influenced by these feelings, I now felt a strong desire to avail
myself of the stranger's protection, and under his safeguard to
return to Nukuheva.  But as soon as I hinted at this, he
unhesitatingly pronounced it to be entirely impracticable;
assuring me that the Typees would never consent to my leaving the
valley.  Although what he said merely confirmed the impression
which I had before entertained, still it increased my anxiety to
escape from a captivity which, however endurable, nay, delightful
it might be in some respects, involved in its issues a fate
marked by the most frightful contingencies.

I could not conceal from my mind that Toby had been treated in
the same friendly manner as I had been, and yet all their
kindness terminated with his mysterious disappearance.  Might not
the same fate await me?--a fate too dreadful to think of.  
Stimulated by these considerations, I urged anew my request to
Marnoo; but he only set forth in stronger colours the
impossibility of my escape, and repeated his previous declaration
that the Typees would never be brought to consent to my

When I endeavoured to learn from him the motives which prompted
them to hold me a prisoner, Marnoo again presumed that mysterious
tone which had tormented me with apprehension when I had
questioned him with regard to the fate of my companion.

Thus repulsed, in a manner which only served, by arousing the
most dreadful forebodings, to excite me to renewed attempts, I
conjured him to intercede for me with the natives, and endeavour
to procure their consent to my leaving them.  To this he appeared
strongly averse; but, yielding at last to my importunities, he
addressed several of the chiefs, who with the rest had been
eyeing us intently during the whole of our conversation.  His
petition, however, was at once met with the most violent
disapprobation, manifesting itself in angry glances and gestures,
and a perfect torrent of passionate words, directed to both him
and myself.  Marnoo, evidently repenting the step he had taken,
earnestly deprecated the resentment of the crowd, and, in a few
moments succeeded in pacifying to some extent the clamours which
had broken out as soon as his proposition had been understood.

With the most intense interest had I watched the reception his
intercession might receive; and a bitter pang shot through my
heart at the additional evidence, now furnished, of the
unchangeable determination of the islanders.  Marnoo told me with
evident alarm in his countenance, that although admitted into the
bay on a friendly footing with its inhabitants, he could not
presume to meddle with their concerns, as such procedure, if
persisted in, would at once absolve the Typees from the
restraints of the 'taboo', although so long as he refrained from
such conduct, it screened him effectually from the consequences
of the enmity they bore his tribe.  At this moment, Mehevi, who
was present, angrily interrupted him; and the words which he
uttered in a commanding tone, evidently meant that he must at
once cease talking to me and withdraw to the other part of the
house.  Marnoo immediately started up, hurriedly enjoining me not
to address him again, and as I valued my safety, to refrain from
all further allusion to the subject of my departure; and then, in
compliance with the order of the determined chief, but not before
it had again been angrily repeated, he withdrew to a distance.

I now perceived, with no small degree of apprehension, the same
savage expression in the countenances of the natives, which had
startled me during the scene at the Ti.  They glanced their eyes
suspiciously from Marnoo to me, as if distrusting the nature of
an intercourse carried on, as it was, in a language they could
not understand, and they seemed to harbour the belief that
already we had concerted measures calculated to elude their

The lively countenances of these people are wonderfully
indicative of the emotions of the soul, and the imperfections of
their oral language are more than compensated for by the nervous
eloquence of their looks and gestures.  I could plainly trace, in
every varying expression of their faces, all those passions which
had been thus unexpectedly aroused in their bosoms.

It required no reflection to convince me, from what was going on,
that the injunction of Marnoo was not to be rashly lighted ,and
accordingly, great as was the effort to suppress my feelings, I
accosted Mehevi in a good-humoured tone, with a view of
dissipating any ill impression he might have received.  But the
ireful, angry chief was not so easily mollified.  He rejected my
advances with that peculiarly stern expression I have before
described, and took care by the whole of his behaviour towards me
to show the displeasure and resentment which he felt.

Marnoo, at the other extremity of the house, apparently desirous
of making a diversion in my favour, exerted himself to amuse with
his pleasantries the crowd about him; but his lively attempts
were not so successful as they had previously been, and, foiled
in his efforts, he rose gravely to depart.  No one expressed any
regret at this movement, so seizing his roll of tappa, and
grasping his spear, he advanced to the front of the pi-pi, and
waving his hand in adieu to the now silent throng, cast upon me a
glance of mingled pity and reproach, and flung himself into the
path which led from the house.  I watched his receding figure
until it was lost in the obscurity of the grove, and then gave
myself up to the most desponding reflections.

Herman Melville