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Chapter Thirty-three


CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

THE STRANGER AGAIN ARRIVES IN THE VALLEY--SINGULAR INTERVIEW WITH
HIM--ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE--FAILURE--MELANCHOLY SITUATION--SYMPATHY
OF MARHEYO

'MARNOO, Marnoo pemi!'  Such were the welcome sounds which fell
upon my ear some ten days after the events related in the
preceding chapter.  Once more the approach of the stranger was
heralded, and the intelligence operated upon me like magic.  
Again I should be able to converse with him in my own language;
and I resolve at all hazards to concert with him some scheme,
however desperate, to rescue me from a condition that had now
become insupportable.

As he drew near, I remembered with many misgivings the
inauspicious termination of our former interview, and when he
entered the house, I watched with intense anxiety the reception
he met with from its inmates.  To my joy, his appearance was
hailed with the liveliest pleasure; and accosting me kindly, he
seated himself by my, side, and entered into conversation with
the natives around him.  It soon appeared however, that on this
occasion he had not any intelligence of importance to
communicate.  I inquired of him from whence he had just come?  He
replied from Pueearka, his native valley, and that he intended to
return to it the same day.

At once it struck me that, could I but reach that valley under
his protection, I might easily from thence reach Nukuheva by
water; and animated by the prospect which this plan held, out I
disclosed it in a few brief words to the stranger, and asked him
how it could be best accomplished.  My heart sunk within me, when
in his broken English he answered me that it could never be
effected.  'Kanaka no let you go nowhere,' he said; 'you taboo.
Why you no like to stay?  Plenty moee-moee (sleep)--plenty ki-ki
(eat)--plenty wahenee (young girls)--Oh, very good place Typee!  
Suppose you no like this bay, why you come?  You no hear about
Typee?  All white men afraid Typee, so no white men come.'

These words distressed me beyond belief; and when I had again
related to him the circumstances under which I had descended into
the valley, and sought to enlist his sympathies in my behalf by
appealing to the bodily misery I had endure, he listened with
impatience, and cut me short by exclaiming passionately, 'Me no
hear you talk any more; by by Kanaka get mad, kill you and me
too.  No you see he no want you to speak at all?--you see--ah!
by by you no mind--you get well, he kill you, eat you, hang you
head up there, like Happar Kanaka.--Now you listen--but no talk
any more.  By by I go;--you see way I go--Ah!  then some night
Kanaka all moee-moee (sleep)--you run away, you come Pueearka.  I
speak Pueearka Kanaka--he no harm you--ah!  then I take you my
canoe Nukuheva--and you run away ship no more.'  With these
words, enforced by a vehemence of gesture I cannot describe,
Marnoo started from my side, and immediately engaged in
conversation with some of the chiefs who had entered the house.

It would have been idle for me to have attempted resuming the
interview so peremptorily terminated by Marnoo, who was evidently
little disposed to compromise his own safety by any rash
endeavour to ensure mine.  But the plan he had suggested struck
me as one which might possibly be accomplished, and I resolved to
act upon it as speedily as possible.

Accordingly, when he arose to depart, I accompanied him with the
natives outside of the house, with a view of carefully noting the
path he would take in leaving the valley.  Just before leaping
from the pi-pi he clasped my hand, and looking significantly at
me, exclaimed, 'Now you see--you do what I tell you--ah!  then
you do good;--you no do so--ah!  then you die.'  The next moment
he waved his spear to the islanders, and following the route that
conducted to a defile in the mountains lying opposite the Happar
side, was soon out of sight.

A mode of escape was now presented to me, but how was I to avail
myself of it?  I was continually surrounded by the savages; I
could not stir from one house to another without being attended
by some of them; and even during the hours devoted to slumber,
the slightest movement which I made seemed to attract the notice
of those who shared the mats with me.  In spite of these
obstacles, however, I determined forthwith to make the attempt.  
To do so with any prospect of success, it was necessary that I
should have at least two hours start before the islanders should
discover my absence; for with such facility was any alarm spread
through the valley, and so familiar, of course, were the
inhabitants with the intricacies of the groves, that I could not
hope, lame and feeble as I was, and ignorant of the route, to
secure my escape unless I had this advantage.  It was also by
night alone that I could hope to accomplish my object, and then
only by adopting the utmost precaution.

The entrance to Marheyo's habitation was through a low narrow
opening in its wicker-work front.  This passage, for no
conceivable reason that I could devise, was always closed after
the household had retired to rest, by drawing a heavy slide
across it, composed of a dozen or more bits of wood, ingeniously
fastened together by seizings of sinnate.  When any of the
inmates chose to go outside, the noise occasioned by the removing
of this rude door awakened every body else; and on more than one
occasion I had remarked that the islanders were nearly as
irritable as more civilized beings under similar circumstances.

The difficulty thus placed in my way I, determined to obviate in
the following manner.  I would get up boldly in the course of the
night, and drawing the slide, issue from the house, and pretend
that my object was merely to procure a drink from the calabash,
which always stood without the dwelling on the corner of the
pi-pi.  On re-entering I would purposely omit closing the passage
after me, and trusting that the indolence of the savages would
prevent them from repairing my neglect, would return to my mat,
and waiting patiently until all were again asleep, I would then
steal forth, and at once take the route to Pueearka.

The very night which followed Marnoo's departure, I proceeded to
put this project into execution.  About midnight, as I imagined,
I arose and drew the slide.  The natives, just as I had expected,
started up, while some of them asked, 'Arware poo awa, Tommo?'
(where are you going, Tommo?)  'Wai' (water) I laconically
answered, grasping the calabash.  On hearing my reply they sank
back again, and in a minute or two I returned to my mat,
anxiously awaiting the result of the experiment.

One after another the savages, turning restlessly, appeared to
resume their slumbers, and rejoicing at the stillness which
prevailed, I was about to rise again from my couch, when I heard
a slight rustling--a dark form was intercepted between me and the
doorway--the slide was drawn across it, and the individual,
whoever he was, returned to his mat.  This was a sad blow to me;
but as it might have aroused the suspicions of the islanders to
have made another attempt that night, I was reluctantly obliged
to defer it until the next.  Several times after I repeated the
same manoeuvre, but with as little success as before.  As my
pretence for withdrawing from the house was to allay my thirst,
Kory-Kory either suspecting some design on my part, or else
prompted by a desire to please me, regularly every evening placed
a calabash of water by my side.

Even, under these inauspicious circumstances I again and again
renewed the attempt, but when I did so, my valet always rose with
me, as if determined I should not remove myself from his
observation.  For the present, therefore, I was obliged to
abandon the attempt; but I endeavoured to console myself with the
idea that by this mode I might yet effect my escape.

Shortly after Marnoo's visit I was reduced to such a state that
it was with extreme difficulty I could walk, even with the
assistance of a spear, and Kory-Kory, as formerly, was obliged to
carry me daily to the stream.

For hours and hours during the warmest part of the day I lay upon
my mat, and while those around me were nearly all dozing away in
careless ease, I remained awake, gloomily pondering over the fate
which it appeared now idle for me to resist, when I thought of
the loved friends who were thousands and thousands of miles from
the savage island in which I was held a captive, when I reflected
that my dreadful fate would for ever be concealed from them, and
that with hope deferred they might continue to await my return
long after my inanimate form had blended with the dust of the
valley--I could not repress a shudder of anguish.

How vividly is impressed upon my mind every minute feature of the
scene which met my view during those long days of suffering and
sorrow.  At my request my mats were always spread directly facing
the door, opposite which, and at a little distance, was the hut
of boughs that Marheyo was building.

Whenever my gentle Fayaway and Kory-Kory, laying themselves down
beside me, would leave me awhile to uninterrupted repose, I took
a strange interest in the slightest movements of the eccentric
old warrior.  All alone during the stillness of the tropical
mid-day, he would pursue his quiet work, sitting in the shade and
weaving together the leaflets of his cocoanut branches, or
rolling upon his knee the twisted fibres of bark to form the
cords with which he tied together the thatching of his tiny
house.  Frequently suspending his employment, and noticing my
melancholy eye fixed upon him, he would raise his hand with a
gesture expressive of deep commiseration, and then moving towards
me slowly, would enter on tip-toes, fearful of disturbing the
slumbering natives, and, taking the fan from my hand, would sit
before me, swaying it gently to and fro, and gazing earnestly
into my face.

Just beyond the pi-pi, and disposed in a triangle before the
entrance of the house, were three magnificent bread-fruit trees.  
At this moment I can recap to my mind their slender shafts, and
the graceful inequalities of their bark, on which my eye was
accustomed to dwell day after day in the midst of my solitary
musings.  It is strange how inanimate objects will twine
themselves into our affections, especially in the hour of
affliction.  Even now, amidst all the bustle and stir of the
proud and busy city in which I am dwelling, the image of those
three trees seems to come as vividly before my eyes as if they
were actually present, and I still feel the soothing quiet
pleasure which I then had in watching hour after hour their
topmost boughs waving gracefully in the breeze.


Herman Melville