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19th Century American Whaling

Bonin Islands

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W. H. Macy

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. XXX, No. 2 (Aug 1869)
pp. 143-149

Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story. 143

. . . .



I Have often been told, compassionately, that I am an outcast – an exile – a homeless adventurer. Not a week ago, I was told so by an old schoolmate on board a British man-of-war that touched here. He said he didn't see how I could so cast myself away, and bury my talents and energies beyond the pale of civilization to live and die a semi-savage. Because he had the cross of St. George flying over his head, he said it with an air of patronage, too; he who was enlisted while half-stupid with liquor, and came to his sober senses to find himself incarcerated within "the wooden walls of Old England," and now daily listens to the inspiring strains of the band of her majesty's ship Driver, and joins in the ironical chorus that "Britons never, never, never, never shall be slaves," to any tyranny that is not essentially British in its nature.

      My ancestors have always cherished a special admiration and veneration for this patriotic sentiment. My grandfather wore the scarlet uniform, and wore out his life in the ranks under Clive and Cornwallis, sinking a victim to the East India climate, prematurely, with the rank of corporal. Had his constitution endured ten years more of similar service his grateful country would, perhaps, have made him a sergeant. My father, who was a prime seaman, as I have learned from those who knew much more of him than I ever did, was "seduced" by a press-gang, during the interminable wars with Bonaparte. He never, never, never set his foot on shore afterwards, but lived and died with a ship for his prison. He, who had been promised the command of a vessel on his next voyage by his employers, was cut in two by a round shot at Trafalgar, serving on the forecastle of the Temeraire – all for the glory of old England. My mother – God bless her! if still alive – her memory, if not.

      The gallant captain of the Driver would have detained me on board without asking my consent, and torn me away from my adopted country, had he considered me, physically, fit to serve in one of her majesty's ships. "Once a subject, always a subject," said he, showing his white teeth. "That settles my right in the case; but I don't want a man with the 'fay-fay.' My surgeon thinks it is incurable, so you are not suitable 'food for powder.'" My left arm, though I suffer no pain from it, is four times the size of my right; a phenomenon by no means uncommon here among my people. And this was my only exemption from compulsory service and a glorious death like those of my immediate ancestors, for, be it known, that "Britannia rules the waves."

      My old schoolmate knows all this, and yet he pities me. I most heartily reciprocate his feelings. I pity him; why should I not? My expatriation is, at least, voluntary; and though unfit to serve in the royal navy, I can still cry, God save the King, Kanka-retah, and his sea-girt-kingdom of Bo-nah-tay, whereof I am a citizen. Citizen, did I say? a peer of the realm – a son-in-law of royalty – chancellor of the exchequer, for the national treasury department is enclosed within my time-worn sea-chest, and all drafts pass through my hands – lieutenant-general of the naval and military forces – and sole minister of foreign affairs. I am also Prince-Consort-apparent, and my children, like Banquo's shall be kings, though I be none. My person is sacred; for am I not "hedged in," and protected by the invisible taboo of my sovereign and father-in-law, Kanka-retah? My name – no matter what it was once – is simply Roger.

      I came ashore here from the English whaler Cambrian, some fifteen years ago, (or thereabouts, for I keep no calendar, not even a notched stick like Crusoe; but I occasionally get the date from some passing ship, and take a fresh departure, generally losing it again before another arrives). I had some high words with the captain, and demanded my

144 Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story.

discharge; he assented, supposing I would back down; when he found I was really determined to leave him, and take my chance among these barbarians, he said I could do so, as he had pledged his word; but that he should return in a week, by which time he thought I would petition to be received on board again. He has not returned yet; though I think he intended to do so, but got currented off to leeward, and found it impossible, or at least, impracticable, to make the island again.

      I saw, at the outset, the importance of ingratiating myself into the favor of the king. I was the first white man who had come ashore to reside here, and was at once, heartily welcomed by all, from the novelty of the thing, as it seemed. As I had brought as many tools as I could collect, and was naturally skillful in the use of them, I soon found means to make myself useful, almost indispensable, to Kanka-retah. A still greater source of power and influence was my possession of that wonder of wonders, a musket, and my being, of course, the only one who knew anything about using it.

      The first use I made of my growing influence was to persuade the king to administer the sacrament, of taboo in the highest degree. This was done with the most imposing ceremonies in the presence of the whole tribe. I felt, after this, that my person was safe. Heretofore I had been in constant fear, lest some impulsive savage might, in some capricious or eccentric moment, run me through with a spear, or knock me on the head with a fragment of rock. But, from this moment, such is the power of this singular institution, and the sanctity of the consecrated person or thing, no one dare assault me; not even the king himself, without another tedious ceremony of repealing or lifting the taboo.

      I had always cherished a romantic idea or whim of settling among some savage people, of acquiring power among them, and of becoming – what I now am. I set myself to work assiduously to acquire the language. I found this no easy task, for, although the number of words is necessarily small, from the limited range of ideas and subjects of discourse among such people, yet many nice shades of meaning are indicated by slight changes of inflection or intonation of the same word. But I became in time so perfect a master of it, that it is now much more familiar to me than my own tongue. And I cannot better express my meaning than by saying that I now think in the idiom of Bonah-tay, and then translate my thought into the vernacular.

      I had not been long domiciled here, when a formidable rival appeared in the field. An American ship sent in a boat at another village on the opposite side of the island, and landed one of the crew, a gigantic negro, intending to return for him in a few days. He had shown symptoms of scurvy, and for this reason was put on shore, that contact with the land might restore him to health. But his ship, like the Cambrian, never made her appearance again, and after a few weeks we ceased to look for her. Jerry, as the black called himself, had become a resident of E-wah-lua, as that bay and village were termed, the tribe being governed by a chief or viceroy, who was, however, subject to the general sway of Kanka-retah.

      Months passed on, and it became evident that Jerry had no intention of leaving the island. His captain had supplied him liberally with tobacco and cloth, and he had also brought a gun and ammunition ashore with him. Two or three ships had touched during the time, but the negro, so far from seeking a passage in one of them, did not even go on board, but devoted all his time and energies to strengthening his power among the natives. He had received the rites of taboo from the viceroy, Tuckanooa, which made him safe among that tribe, but its power did not extend to ours, as that ruler had no jurisdiction on our side of the island. Only the king himself could make the sacrament binding upon the whole people.

      I perceived that the negro was making rapid strides in power, and that his ambition would never be content with holding a confidential position with Tuckanooa; but that nothing short of the elevation at which I was myself aiming would satisfy him. He spent much of his time at E-ree-moa, as our settlement was called, and had frequent audiences with the king. His mastery of the language in so short a time was miraculous; for he had the fine ear which is so common with his race, many of whom are known to acquire foreign languages, orally, with surprising facility and correctness. He was doubtless, aiming at the same mark as myself, a marriage with tho Princess Sai-see-wah, only daughter of the sovereign. I had from the first set my mind upon this matrimonial alliance. I do not say my heart, for, although the Princess Royal was a comely young

Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story. 145

woman, there were many girls of humbler rank who far exceeded her in personal charms, and whom I might have had for the asking. But policy dictated a union with Sai-see-wah, and I knew that similar motives would influence the king in disposing of her. He would care little whether his son-in-law was white, black or copper-colored; still less would he care about his daughter's inclinations, but would make such a match for her as he thought would be best for his own interest. I had never yet dared to mention my wishes to the king himself. But jealousy of my rival precipitated matters, and, on making application for the hand of Sai-see-wah, I was met by evasive answers. I saw that the king was disposed to give my rival at least an equal chance with myself, and to play fast and loose with both of us for the present. The black and myself became bitter enemies from that hour.

      In the case of men situated as we were, where a deadly feud arises, there is but one course for each to pursue; to take the law into his own hands, and protect himself. In this case, I had thus far the advantage of Jerry, in being tabooed by the highest authority of the land. He dared not attack me, as his own life would be at once forfeited for breaking the taboo law. I could have shot him at that time with impunity, as he was unprotected, except from the tribe of E-wah-lua, but I hesitated to do it. I had never yet shed the blood of a fellow-being, and could not make up my mind deliberately to take human life except as a last resort in self-defence. So we were both safe for the present. Though he was using his influence whenever he could get the king's ear, to persuade him to bring us on an equal footing, either by giving him the higher degree of personal protection that I possessed, or else by partially revoking mine. In either case he would have been at liberty to fight out the feud with me; for a tabooed man may always be attacked by another who is under the same or a higher degree of sanctity.

      While the king still held himself undecided, and I hesitated to avail myself of the advantage I possessed, an event occurred which made me a party in a wholesale murder, compared with which the killing of Jerry would have been but a trifling affair.

      An American whaleship called the Minorca touched here, and being in want of water and wood, the captain was persuaded to come to anchor. Jerry acted as pilot in taking her into the bay at E-wah-lua, which was the best and safest anchorage to be found at Bonah-tay. All was now bustle and holiday, for the Minorca was the first ship that had anchored, and the people all gathered to the common centre of attraction, and spent the greater part of their time near the ship. The captain was much on shore, and, as might be supposed, was pleased with all he saw, and thought he should visit us again next season. I had all the time a vague suspicion that the ship would not be suffered to go to sea; that treachery was at work, and that the negro was at the bottom of it. I know not why I had this belief. I had seen nothing that could be called tangible evidence, nothing that would justify me in giving a word of warning to the captain, even had I dared to do so. But to have warned him would have been as good as signing my own death warrant, as, if it were seen that he was on his guard and was taking any new precautions, there was no one to suspect but myself, and I should be hunted to death both by Jerry and the king. The captain had been lulled into a feeling of perfect security by the apparent friendliness of all with whom he came in contact, and with culpable negligence he now carried on the duty of the ship, and scattered his men here and there with the same reckless confidence that he would have shown in the harbor of the most civilized commercial port.

      One night, we had come ashore from the ship, where we had been spending the evening in mirth and jollity, and I was about to retire to my own house, when Kanka-retah touched me on the shoulder, and pointed to the council-house with a nod. I looked round for the negro; he was already going in that direction as if by previous appointment. I followed him with a feeling that mischief was afoot. As I stooped to pass in at the low door, I saw by the dim light of a small fire that smouldered on the ground in the centre of the building, that all the inferior chiefs, or nobles, were assembled to the number of ten. They saluted me gravely as I entered and took a seat in silence among them. One of the chiefs now stirred up the fire, and forced it into a blaze, throwing a lurid light upon the naked forms of the assembled councillors, and bringing out in bold relief the sinister-looking head and immense chest and limbs of the African Hercules, who sat opposite me in the full glare of the fire. We took no great pains to conceal our hatred and distrust of each

146 Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story.

other, as evinced by looks, but no word was spoken by any one.

      The king, accompanied by the viceroy Tuckanooa, now entered at the upper end of the house, by the only door which was high enough to admit a man walking erect, and which might be used only by the sovereign, and those to whom he granted permission. He signed to Jerry and myself to take seats on either side of himself and Tuckanooa, on a raised platform of bamboo which ran across this end of the building like a quarter-deck. Several women entered with small calabashes filled with the infusion of kava-root, one of which was placed in front of each man. The women retired, and all the doors were closed.

      Kanka-retah then broke the long silence by informing us that the captain had told him he should finish his business at E-wah-lua the next day, and should leave us the day after.

      "Shall he be allowed to go?" he asked. "We have power enough to stop him, to take his ship, and to make ourselves rich, for she has much cloth, much tobacco, much iron. When his men are scattered, some on shore getting wood, some in the boat with the captain, and only five or six on board with the mate, we can overpower them all without any danger to ourselves. Shall we do it?"

      The king raised the kava to his lips and drank. We all did the same. Tuckanooa was the next to speak.

      "We must take the ship," said the viceroy. "She is the first ship that has anchored at E-wah-lua, she must not go out again. We must have the tobacco, the cloth and the iron."

      "Good," said Kanka-retah. "She has many muskets too, and one big gun. We must have them, and Jerry and Roger must teach us how to use them. Speak, Roger, our people are ready at my signal; shall we take the ship?"

      I saw what answer was expected from me; I saw the gleaming eyes of the black fixed upon me, as if to read my thoughts; I thought of his triumph if I showed the white feather and the soft heart; I thought of our rivalry as suitors for the hand of Sai-see-wah; and answered firmly:

      "We must take the ship. But what is to be done with the men?"

      "Speak, Jerry," said the king. "What is to be done with the men?"

      I did not fail to observe that Jerry was not asked for his opinion as to the expediency of taking the ship. That was, already known to the king; and the other question was put as if it was known what the reply would be. This satisfied me that the negro was the master spirit and instigator of the whole business.

      "Kill them," answered Jerry, coolly.

      "All? I asked, speaking this one word in English.

      "All," repeated the black, in the same manner.

      I shuddered at the thought of performing my part in this wholesale massacre of innocent men. But my destiny was leading me on, and no faint-heartedness must be allowed to stand in the way if I would reach the goal to which I aspired. I had gone so far, that for the safety of my own life I must still go forward. There was no retreat, with any chance of safety. I must be – what I now am, or I must die like a dog, for the unanimous voice would demand the revocation of my taboo, if I was suspected of treachery. I should then be at the mercy of any one who might choose to take my life.

      The opinions of the inferior councillors were not asked in detail; it seemed to be taken for granted that they would follow the lead of their superiors. The plot was soon arranged, and the part each division was to perform assigned them. The negro, with the largest force, was to fall upon the men who would be engaged on shore in wooding. Tuckanooa and his gang were to take care of the captain and his boat's crew, after having enticed them ashore at the village of E-wah-lua; while I was to accompany the king in the attack upon the ship, which would require but few men, and could be managed without suspicion, as the men on board would think nothing of having two or three canoes alongside, or even half a dozen. The signal was to be given by Jerry, at the moment of leaving his ambush to attack the woodmen.

      The remainder of the kava was drank in silence, and the king was rising to dismiss the council, when Jerry also rose.

      "King Kanka-retah," said he, "may I ask you again for the taboo from your hands? It may be done now while all the chiefs of the council are present."

      This was true; for, although it was usual to perform the ceremonies in the presence of the whole tribe, only that of the chiefs of rank was really necessary to make it binding.

      "Not to-night," answered the king, evasively, "I must attend to other matters. This

Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story. 147

business of the ship must be finished before we make any more taboo. You have all that Tuckanooa can give you, and I will give my royal command that no one at E-ree-moa shall injure you." He glanced at me as he spoke.

      "I shall not attack Jerry," said I. "I do not wish to avail myself of the advantage which I hold."

      Even if I did I was now bound by the king's command, which I valued as much, as I did the superstitious obligation, as nothing worse than death could follow the infraction of either. Not so in the opinion of the savages of Bo-nah-tay. These people do not attach much value to life; they would brave death with alacrity to gratify a revengeful impulse; but not the subsequent tortures and the eternal stigma to themselves and their posterity which they believe to be consequent upon violation of taboo. It is this recklessness of life among savage tribes that renders necessary an institution like the Polynesian taboo, or the fetish of the African negro. The ordinary code of capital punishment has not sufficient terrors.

      The king understood very well the position in which the negro and I stood to each other; and it did not suit his purpose to have us fight out our feud yet, as he needed the services of both of us. Jerry, he knew, would be restrained by no such magnanimous feeling as I had shown. If we were placed on terms of equality, he would doubtless attack me at once. Each of us, as we now stood, would have been glad to provoke an attack from the other, could he have been certain that the first assault would not prove fatal. If I failed to kill him at the first shot or blow, he had then the right to defend himself, regardless of the taboo; and if the first assault came from him, whether successful or not, he would fall a victim to any man who could succeed in killing him. I now rose to make another request, thinking the whole difficulty might as well be understood by the council as at any time.

      "King Kanka-retah," said I, "may I ask you to give me your daughter Sai-see-wah in marriage?" I kept my eye on the negro, who was anxiously waiting the answer of the king, his face seeming to turn white with suppressed rage.

      "Not to-night," answered the king. "Sai-see-wah is not to be betrothed until after the great business of to-morrow is disposed of."

      The king again pursued a temporizing policy, for much the same reason as before. Neither of us would become entirely desperate, so long as this matter of the royal alliance was kept in uncertainty. While he held out hopes to both, we both had something to live and strive for.

      I bowed my head to this decision of the sovereign. We all rose and the council was declared adjourned.

      The circumstances of our attack on the ill-fated Minorca and the massacre of all her crew, are too horrible and revolting to dwell upon. The surprise was so complete and sudden that scarcely any resistance was met with. The laconic advice of the black was acted upon, and all were butchered without mercy. The bodies were all collected together and burned to ashes, the clothing remaining on them, in order that every trace of the dreadful tragedy might be destroyed. Three days were spent in stripping the ship of everything that was considered of value among a people like this, and the ship was then burned. During all this time we were in constant fear that another vessel might heave in sight before all the evidences of our crime could be obliterated. But all was at length finished, and the plunder distributed so as to satisfy the principal actors in the bloody and piratical deed.

      We met again in the hall of council, not darkly and secretly as before, but in broad daylight with the whole tribe assembled. Here feasting and congratulations at our victory prevailed; the warriors talked over their exploits, and boasted of their prowess in the slaughter of innocent and defenceless seamen, while the black giant, Jerry, was foremost of all in heroic deeds, it being generally understood and admitted that he had struck down four of the wooding party with his own hand. But though I confess I tried to harden myself and smother all feelings that were inconsistent with the general sentiment of the festive occasion, I could not drive from before my eyes the freezing apparition of those murdered men. I had assisted the king according to the programme in taking the ship. There were only five men on board besides the mate, and these being scattered and having no presentiment of danger, were easily struck down, all at the same time, when the shrill whistle was given by the negro on shore. I saw the mate killed by Kanka-retah himself, and his blow was so effectual that there was no need to repeat it. I had not, with my own hands, earned any

148 Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story.

title to distinction at this festival, for I had shed no blood.

      It had been intimated that before the festivities closed the final decision would be made as to the disposition of the hand of the Princess Sai-see-wah; and I could see that the negro was much elated with his prospects of success. I could not help feeling myself that all chances were in his favor, as I knew the king admired his prowess, and would feel a sense of obligation towards him for the leading part he had taken in the capture of the ship. I had no idea that the young woman would, herself, have any voice in the matter, and even if she had, I feared that like a true savage woman, she would most admire the man who had been conspicuous for bloody deeds.

      It was apparent that my life would not be safe an hour after Sai-see-wah was affianced to the negro, as the gift of the princess in marriage would be followed up by conferring upon him the highest degree of taboo; and that either he or I must die. I resolved now, as soon as the decree was pronounced that was to make him the king's son-in-law, to avail myself of the advantage I possessed to get the first shot at him, before he should receive the degree that would give him the right to shoot at me.

      The king now made a signal for silence; and the whole assembly came to order, and disposed themselves to listen, to his words. He rose with an air of dignity, and looked gravely round upon his subjects.

      "I have promised," said Kanka-retah, "that I would to-day choose one of the two strangers who have come to dwell among us, as my son-in-law. They are both here in council with us, and my people are all assembled. Both of them were with us and aided us in the great business, and both of them I think, look for a favorable answer. But that, of course, cannot be. According to our customs, it is for me to choose a husband for Sai-see-wah, and for her, like a dutiful daughter, to take the one who is chosen. But I shall, in this case, depart from our usual custom. Sai-see-wah shall choose for herself."

      A murmur of applause ran through the tribe.

      "Let my daughter come forward," said Kanka-retah.

      The Princess Royal advanced from her place among the women in the background of the picture, and stood by the side of her father. She seemed embarrassed by the position in which she was placed; for it was a rare occurrence for any woman in Bo-nah-tay, still less for the daughter of any person of rank, to be called upon to express any opinion of her own in matrimonial arrangements.

      "My daughter," said the king, "you will choose one of the two strangers for your husband. I trust you will choose wisely, and as becomes the daughter of Kanka-retah. But your choice shall be free, and wherever it may fall, he whom you choose shall be my son-in-law. I give my royal word upon this in the presence of the whole tribe."

      The princess hesitated a moment, glancing at the impassible faces upturned to her from all sides of the assembly, then stepped lightly from the platform and advanced towards me. She crouched by my side, hiding her face, and laid one hand on my shoulder. I thought I could see a slight shade of disappointment on the iron face of her father, in spite of his efforts to hide it. But the negro rose to his feet, blinded by rage and disappointment. With the quickness of thought, a pistol, which he had carried concealed, was levelled at my head. I seized my musket, and brought it up to my shoulder; his pistol snapped, and with a deep curse the black cleared the door and bounded down the hill, followed by my bullet, and by the whole assembly of warriors in full chase. I saw him clap one hand to his leg for an instant, indicating that he was hit, but the injury appeared to be trifling. His strength and agility exceeded all belief as he drove straight for his own house, distant some two hundred yards. Several spears were hurled after him in his flight, but he eluded them all, and safely reached cover. He closed and barred the door, and we all came to a stand to consult together upon a plan of attack. His life was forfeited by the most inexorable law of the tribe. His frantic rage at the unexpected choice of Sai-see-wah had got the better of his discretion, and he had violated the obligation of taboo. I knew that be would be put to death, if it cost the lives of half the tribe to do it; nay, that even if disposed to save his life, I should be powerless to accomplish it. He knew it, too, as well as I; and, being now a thoroughly desperate man, would, of course, sell his life dearly. It occurred to me that all the muskets taken from the Minorca had been carried to his house, as he was to clean and put them all in order before they should be disturbed among the chiefs. He had, therefore, some twelve or fourteen guns in his house, which

Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story. 149

comprised all the firearms on the island, except the gun in my hand, and another of mine which was left at E-ree-moa.

      The natives, in their impatience to take his life pressed up around the house, and one rash warrior threw himself heavily against the door to try its strength, but was instantly shot dead through a chink or loophole. At this, they all fell back to a safe distance, but not before a second bullet, intended for my heart, had broken two of my fingers, and rendered me nearly helpless to return his fire, if I should get a sight at him. I gave up the musket to the king, who had acquired some little skill in using it.

      Attempts were now made to fire the house by attaching bunches of flaming grass to spears and darting them into the sides of the house, but this made it necessary to approach quite near, and while it proved ineffectual, cost us the life of another warrior, who fell before the unerring bullet of the desperado. I now made a circuit to reconnoitre in rear of the house; for I was not familiar with the ground here at E-wah-lua, as I was at the other village.

      The house in which Jerry had entrenched himself stood close against the foot of a hill but little higher than the house itself, which rose quite precipitously at the back of it. A person on the hill was effectually concealed from observation at any of his loopholes by reason of the bushes that skirted the side of the hill and formed a low screen along the ridge above. I called to the natives who were nearest me to try the experiment of firing the roof by throwing brands from the hill. The idea was eagerly caught at, and several were soon approaching, when Tuckanooa, the viceroy, seizing my arm, pointed significantly to a cocoanut tree within a few feet of us, and then to an axe which he held in his hand. I gave him a glance of intelligence in return, at the same time inwardly cursing my own stupidity that I had not thought of this tree before. It stood ten feet back from the screen of bushes, and was high enough and heavy enough to strike the house, if cut down, and crush it like an egg shell. I countermanded the order for the firebrands, and sent to the viceroy's house for another axe. I directed the natives to assemble in force on the front of the house at a safe distance and make feint attacks to divert the negro's attention from the viceroy and myself on the hill. This was effectually done, and the internal din and confusion of sounds, as they shouted war-chants and beat tom-toms all over the plain below, completely drowned the slight noises made by our two axes as we swung them smartly into the trunk of the tree, which grew with a slight inclination towards the house, making our task the easier. Now the yelling crowd, becoming emboldened, again press forward a little too near; the report of another musket rings among the deafening clamor, and then a yell of pain from a young fellow with a broken arm. A few more blows of the axe and the victory is won – again the negro fires and his bullet just grazes the ear of Kanka-retah, who rushes frantically towards the house, bent on revenge – a wild yell, louder than any before, warns him back, for the top of the tree is seen to waver – another, and the last blow falls – the massive trunk sweeps through the air with a rushing sound, crashing through the frail roof and bringing the whole structure' to the ground, a confused heap of bamboo, thatch and lumber. You may cease your yells now, for the wrath of the insulted deity of taboo is appeased – the most timid among you may press forward to the front without fear; for, directly under the ponderous trunk of the tree lies the colossal form of the lion-hearted black, half-buried in the soil, crushed out of all human semblance.

      This was my first, last, and only rival in my road to influence and power among the people of Bo-nah-tay. Years have rolled by since; many a ship has dropped her anchor at E-wah-lua, and taken it again in safety; for my accession to the post of prime minister has led to a change in the foreign policy of Kanka-retah. My wife, Sai-see-wah, has had no small share in the good influence exerted upon her father, and is nearer to my heart now, as the mother of my two stout sons, than on the day she both risked and saved my life by laying her hand on my shoulder. I am still called by white visitors to the island, a "rascally beach-comber," but all my deeds deserving the name I have chronicled in these pages, and honestly confessed the part I bore in them. I have heard many conjectures among whalemen as to the fate of the Minorca; but here, for the first and only time, have I ventured to refer to that episode in my life, which I would rejoice to have blotted out from memory. My gentle-hearted wife never refers to it without a shudder: though, in most respects, Sai-see-wah is still a savage, and an unshaken believer in the efficacy and sanctity of taboo.


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Taboo: A Beach-Comber's Story.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol. 30, No. 2 (Aug 1869)
Pages: 143-149