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composition than we civilized mortals faces of lava. Around the margin of retain ? was my sweetheart dangerous ? the watery floor a smooth, broad rim thought I. Certainly she came near of sand extended-sand that might reenough to drowning me just now. tain a human footprint for centuries, so
The acute Polynesian read my thought seldom was the cave visited. The secret as though I had spoken it. “I would of its locality was cherished in the famnever hurt you," she said. “ And I ily of the Lakemban high-priest alone; would not drown Orion unless you chose and it is, I presume, a secret still. to help me.”
“How did you ever hear of this cave ?" “ We will not drown him yet. We demanded I of Waimata, as with arms will watch him."
around each other we strolled around “I will signal to him not to come in the subterranean sand-beach and gazed yet. I want to show you the cave alone.” up into the great vault overhcad. It
“ I will give the order,” returned I, was like gazing into the dome of the " for he can hear my signal farthest.” Pantheon, except that the eye of light
I found two solid fragments of obsi- which looks downward into the Italian dian, weighing four or five pounds; and dome was absent. Our cave had larger holding them under water, sent him this dimensions, and almost the same intemessage by the submarine click: rior shape as the Roman temple; but its E Nono MALIA !
decorations were the fantastic forms of Stay where you are."
the lava. Waimata and I then proceeded to “ One night, long ago, I overheard examine the Sea-Cave.
the secret," said Waimata. “My father It was a gigantic shell of cooled lava. took my elder brother into the thicket The fusion, forced from the volcanic and told him of this cave. I heard them heart of the earth many thousands of near the bure. Once in five years, he years ago, had spent its force in elevat said, he visited the cave to replenish its ing the crust of the island-shore. Ex- stores and to kcep it in proper order as panded by the gigantic power of the a place of refuge." volcanic gases, a bubble had been blown “Do you know where these stores are in the incandescent lava, which, push- kept ? ing upward and outward, had lifted “Not the exact spot; but we can caall the superincumbent strata of coral, sily find them.” detritus, and alluvial soil, making a hill “ Where did you find the torch that where previously the level coast of the you are burning now?" atoll had stretched, as a jewelstands upon " There is a torch-chest at the very the circumference of a ring. It was a entrance to the cave, above high-water vast volcanic bubble, blown in the mol- mark," said Waimata. “I remember ten rock as easily as the soap-bubble ex- that my father explained where it lay pands in the air; but this toy of Na- when I overheard the secret of the ture's force was congealed in the eternal place; and I put my hand upon it the strata, a hidden memento of her freak. moment that I entered the cave." To this day the structure of the island I did not need to ask her how she had of which I speak is unknown to geolo- lighted the torch ; for any Polynesian gists. It is unique, so far as I can learn can make fire by rubbing two sticks tofrom a pretty extensive observation of gether for five minutes; and innumerathe southern Polynesian groups, as a ble fragments of dry driftwood lay coral island in which the volcanic ac- around the shores of the cave. tion has strongly modified the original We continued exploring our dominoutlines," without displaying its haud.” ion. The tide-water boiled strongly be
In the heart of this volcanic bubble fore us as we went; and I noticed that Waimata and I found ourselves alone. it seemed to flow quite through the Its roof shone with countless sparks of cave, and to pour itself out by some reflection from the still undimmed sur- hidden entrance opposite to that by
which we had come in. A subterranean representation of heathen deities can channel leading to the central lagoon now be seen than in any temple of, at of the island evidently existed; and least, the Polynesian pagans. through this the tide entered and de- Waimata and I each selected, howparted. The mystery was explained, ever, a pocket-idol for private devotions; why this atoll was a closed circle of and, stringing them around our necks by coral reef, and maintained no apparent means of bead necklaces which we found communication with the outer sea. In among the other sacred stores, we conall other cases that I have ever observed tinued our explorations. the circle of the coral island is not com- Not far from the principal dépot of plete; a small channel is left for the in the carved gods I noticed, high up in a gress and egress of the tides, as if re- crevice of the volcanic rock, a tag-end spiration were a necessity to it. But of what appeared to be native kapa, here the lavas, bursting up from below, projecting in such a way as to catch the had rent and shattered the foundations torchlight. of the island, and established a subter- Handing my flaming link to Waimata, ranean and submarine channel or breath. I climbed up after the signal. ing-hole, through which the tides found I found a large recess in the rock; ready passage.
In course of time and in this recess stood a chest, apparthe coral insect, applying itself to the ently of foreign manufacture. It bore a task of filling up the original tidal chan- lock; but the rusty key stood in it. nel, completed the circle of the coral Turning the key, I opened it without reef; and this now displayed the unique difficulty. phenomenon of a perfect ring of land It turned out to be a sailor's chest; it surrounding the upruffled mirror of contained a few articles of seamen's water that I have described.
wear, some folds of fine native cloth, a Such was the stronghold of which we quantity of dried bread-fruit and bafound ourselves in possession. We ad- nanas, some fishing apparatus, some dressed ourselves to the task of discov. "hard tack," probably kidnapped from ering what stores might be hidden in a whaling vessel, and several handfuls the cave.
of Spanish doubloons, which were scatThe torch burned low, and I kindled tered around at the bottom of the two more in its place. The tide came to chest. Many of them were pierced with the turn, and the lake presented for a a hole, as if to be worn for ornament. time an absolutely upruffled surface. At that time I had little more notion of We found the silence oppressive, and the value of gold than the natives themwere fain to shout and sing for the sake selves possessed. This money was eviof hearing the echoes that reverberated dently plundered from the crew of some in the arch of our dome.
passing vessel that had been cut off in Strolling around its circumference, previous years by the islanders; and it and peering curiously into every recess was deposited here for sacerdotal purthat would seem to offer a place for poses. I pocketed it at once, as a civilconccalment, we brandished our torches ized man would have done; having inin the gloom that had been undisturbed herited something of his affinity for a
There were many rocky metal of whose value I yet knew nothledges, shelves that offered admirable ing. I have no doubt that the love of hiding-places, but we found nothing money gets to run in the blood like any more valuable than a large assortment other acquired quality of nature; and of idols; and of these we had enough I seized upon the coins by virtue of a already for all reasonable purposes. transmitted instinct. Rummaging still Such a collection as that of the cave further in the chest, I found the belt in could be rivaled at the present day which they had been concealed; and, only at the missionary rooms of London restoring them to their old place, I fasand Beston, where a more satisfactory tened the money around my waist,
where it was but imperfectly hidden by Plunging together into the water, we the flowing robe of kapa that I had found that the tide had already turned, donned upon entering the cave.
and was accelerating our way.
We “Here are provisions and light enough made the dive without bruise or accito last us for a month, if we should need dent, and as I should judge by the resito hide in the cave," said I.
duum of breath left me when we emerged “Why do you speak as if we should into the open sea, we occupied about a need to conceal ourselves ?” returned minute in our transit. I may record
here, by the way, that the popular sto“Many little chances make a large ries respecting feats of diving are quite chance. Here is Orion from the outer as exaggerated as the fabulous accounts world; the Lakemban watchfire burned of the speed of the whaleboat, or the last night; your father is shrewd, he may myths that describe the exploits of simply pretend to think us lost at sea, Kentucky riflemen. Few divers remain or captured ; at any moment we may more than a minute under water; hardsee strangers here."
ly any can exceed two minutes. “Let us call in Orion," said Waimata, Emerging from the water at nearly “and pledge him again to secrecy.” the same instant, we looked toward the
I returned at once to the entrance of landing where we had left Orion with the cave. The great bunch of cocoanuts the two canoes and the cocoanuts. that he had gathered was here, brought The cocoanuts were still there, piled in by the tide. I made the signal upon the beach; but Orion and the " Return.”
canoes were gone. No answer came back.
As suddenly as my strange visitor had I waited a few seconds, and repeated appeared, so suddenly had he vanished ! the signal. I repeated it again and My army and my navy had retained oragain. Still no answer.
ganization from dawning until noon of " What can it mean?” we said in a a single day. breath. We looked steadfastly at each But the loss of my canoes and of my other. If the flaring torchlight reveal. retainer was as nothing to the loss of ed as much of surprise and apprehen- our secret. Wherever Orion might go, sion in my own eyes as it did in those he would pretty surely betray us. The of Waimata, the tableau would have sense of obligation in a savage seldom needed no word of explanation.
endures beyond a night, or passes over "I must go out immediately, and sce the limit of speaking-distance. what has become of my Minister of Whether in malice or in thoughtlessthe Navy,” said I, feigning a lightness ness, Orion would communicate his of manner which I did not feel. “It knowledge of us to the first people he may be that he has already commenced might meet. Happily for us, he did operations in these waters.”'
not know our names, or the island from “I will go with you. Do not leave which we came, not having ventured to me alone in this great dark place," re- question us on account of our superior joined Waimata.
rank. We threw off our outer robes. I de- Waimata and I landed at once, and posited the money-belt in a crevice of made our way to the summit of the hill the rock, and extinguished the torch. that formed the roof of our cave. Far Utter darkness fell upon us, for the in the distance we saw the receding channel of entrance to the cave was too white sail of a canoe. Other eyes would long to admit of any transmission of have hardly noticed it; but Waimata light through the water; and the land- instantly recognized the peculiar cut of ward entrance that connected with the the sail that she had seen approaching central water was yet longer—too long early in the morning. It was Orion's for the swiftest diyer to risk his life in canoe; and we both could see the outattempting its passage.
lines of our own smaller craft in tow.
The convoy was holding a straight These sails were cut after the peculiar course for Lakemba!
fashion of the priests' canoes. The poor girl's firmness was shaken I wakened Waimata. She looked at this sight. Her lovely eyes were upon the prows that sped swiftly to liquid with tears. The desertion of ward us; we could already see that Orion meant, to her, betrayal, discovery, they were filled with warriors. capture, and death. Placed alone upon · Aloha, Tali,” she cried, “it is our the island, and unable to escape, we
last hour!" should fall an easy prey.
A fleet of war-canoes in two lines was There was no time to construct a sweeping down rapidly upon the Encanoe; nor could we bope to escape by chanted Island. Waimata and I sat means of
any such chance as had favor- specchless in the top of the palm-tree, ed our flight hitherward. But might and contemplated the winged enemy we not defend ourselves in the Sea- that sped toward us like gigantic inCave?
sects-moths of the tropics—borne in After a little reflection, the following upon the streaming current of the tradeplan shaped itself in my mind. I de- wind. It seemed to us like the descent termined to barricade the inner en- of a cloud of dragons. Already we trance to the cave.
could see the dark figures of the warWith the ample cordage that I found riors in the foremost canoe. The line in the stores of the cave I formed a net- reached up obliquely from the east, and work across the channel, so constructed would touch the beach at a point bethat when tightened it would keep tween us and our submarine cave of under water the head of any diver who refuge. We had no time to lose ; yet should attempt to force an entrance. we sat as if spell-bound, gazing at the Retreat, of course, would be impossible swift and silent approach of the whiteto an enemy. I laid heavy stones upon winged foe. a ledge of rock immediately over this Suddenly a puff of white smoke leapnet, so that I could easily roll them ed from the leading canoe, and after an down upon the head of any who might interval of three or four seconds the endeavor to break through the net. By sound of a musket broke sharply upon night I had formed a barrier that scem- our ears. I knew the signal well. It cd impenetrable, and yet one that I was the signal of a suspended taboo ; could remove in a moment by unlash- and it mcant that the war-canoes would ing the uppermost rope from the crag land at once upon the island. It was to which I secured it.
clear that we had been betrayed ; that With the second ebb of the tide, the mourvings over our loss had given Waimata and I left the cave, preferring place to armed pursuit; that in a few to watch from the island the possible moments our little Island of the Gods, approach of an enemy. We floated an that since the earliest traditions of this enormous number of cocoanuts and people had been consecrated to lonelibread-fruit, so that they would go in ness and to poetic superstition, would with the turn of the tide.
be trampled upon by a horde of infuriWe then repaired to the higher ated and howling savages, and that the ground, where we had spent the preced- most cruel fate awaited Waimata and ing night. We slept in the summit of myself. the same palm-tree that Waimata had “Fly! Waimata! Another moment, occupied; or rather, Waimata slept; and they will land before we can confor, except the hour from eleven to ceal ourselves!” twelve, I kept watch through the night. And I urged her so briskly to descend
At day-break it was my turn to see a that I nearly dislodged her hold upon sight—a whole fleet of sails that held the branches of the palm. In a motheir course from Lakemba toward our ment, however, we had slid down the island !
cylindrical trunk and were standing upon the sandy soil below. The sails that spectacle; and his heavy necklace of the approaching canoes gleamed of shark's teeth rattled audibly as then. brightly through the green spears of He said not a word; but he primed and the serried pandanus-thicket.
cocked the flint-lock musket, the spoil We ran rapidly along under cover of of some plundered party of sailors, and the trees toward the Sea-Cave, hoping took aim to fire at us a third time. to reach it unobserved. But the quick But before he could draw the trigger eyes of the pursuers caught a glimpse Waimata and I, having reached the enof our figures as we passed an open trance of the cave, dove quickly. I had space. We must have seemed like the not a second to spare; for my heels pair that fled from Paradise; and our were but just leaving the surface of the avenging angel was the warrior that sea when I heard the report of the gun, sent a shot after us into the thicket. It strangely diluted in intensity by its cut a ripe and rosy ohia from a bough passage through the water; and inabove us; and the fruit fell at Wai- stantly the sensation of a smart blow mata's feet. She picked it up as we upon my left thigh. I knew that the ran, and hurled it defiantly at the near- ball had not struck me, but, ricochetest canoe, exclaiming,
ting from the surface, had forced down “So I cast away Prince Kanuha and a column of water upon me with suffihis suit forever."
cient force to produce a severe bruise. In another moment we had reached Sportsmen are familiar with this method the hillock which formed the roof of of killing fish. our secret cave. Our feet splashed in “ It is lucky that I am not an anaugthe warm sea-water; it flew in spark- ku" (bonita, or albicore), meditated I, ling drops into our faces; it deepened at the depth of two fathoms;
or that to our breasts; the canoes, now close at shot would have made me show a white hand, were for an instant concealed by fin." the slope of the sandy promontory; but We had dived, however, too soon to just as we dived, the foremost canoe re- enter immediately into the entrance of appeared, and in it I saw the figure of the cave; and it was necessary to feel Waimata's father. His features, natu- our way for several yards along the rally noble, were distorted with excite- rocky wall of the cliff before finding ment and passion; and he cried out, our way to the place of safety. It was seeing that we were about to dive, a dreadful thought, how easily the mis
" Return, te-i-ti ko-ro-he! (wicked chil- hap of a moment, an accidental blow dren); or you shall be given to the against the jagged lava, the entangleBorers !"
ment of a weed, might detain us under And there I saw, seated upon the fore- water a minute too long for life. We most platform of the canoe, seven of the met, however, no mishap; but we were ulini who had assisted in preparing the quite exhausted when we emerged from cannibal banquet of a few weeks before. the water within the cave, and found One of them I remembered particularly ourselves in our submarine fortalice. well; it was the gigantic“earth-worm” We were safe from pursuit; no enemy who had detained me to witness the could reach us; and here, undisturbed, boiling of the skull upon my leaving we indulged the dream of Love in Fiji.