Something about the Kannakippers
A worthy young man, formerly a friend of mine (I speak of Kooloo with all possible courtesy, since after our intimacy there would be an impropriety in doing otherwise) this worthy youth, having some genteel notions of retirement, dwelt in a maroo boro, or bread-fruit shade, a pretty nook in a wood, midway between the Calabooza Beretanee and the church of Cocoa-nuts. Hence, at the latter place, he was one of the most regular worshippers.
Kooloo was a blade. Standing up in the congregation in all the bravery of a striped calico shirt, with the skirts rakishly adjusted over a pair of white sailor trousers, and hair well anointed with cocoa-nut oil, he ogled the ladies with an air of supreme satisfaction. Nor were his glances unreturned.
But such looks as the Tahitian belles cast at each other: frequently turning up their noses at the advent of a new cotton mantle recently imported in the chest of some amorous sailor. Upon one occasion, I observed a group of young girls in tunics of coarse, soiled sheeting, disdainfully pointing at a damsel in a flaming red one. Oee tootai owree! said they with ineffable scorn, itai maitai! (you are a good-for- nothing huzzy, no better than you should be).
Now, Kooloo communed with the church; so did all these censorious young ladies. Yet after eating bread- fruit at the Eucharist, I knew several of them, the same night, to be guilty of some sad derelictions.
Puzzled by these things, I resolved to find out, if possible, what ideas if any, they entertained of religion; but as ones spiritual concerns are rather delicate for a stranger to meddle with, I went to work as adroitly as I could.
Farnow, an old native who had recently retired from active pursuits, having thrown up the business of being a sort of running footman to the queen, had settled down in a snug little retreat, not fifty rods from Captain Bobs. His selecting our vicinity for his residence may have been with some view to the advantages it afforded for introducing his three daughters into polite circles. At any rate, not averse to receiving the attentions of so devoted a gallant as the doctor, the sisters (communicants, be it remembered) kindly extended to him free permission to visit them sociably whenever he pleased.
We dropped in one evening, and found ladies at home. My long friend engaged his favourites, the two younger girls, at the game of Now, or hunting a stone under three piles of tappa. For myself, I lounged on a mat with Ideea the eldest, dallying with her grass fan, and improving my knowledge of Tahitian.
The occasion was well adapted to my purpose, and I began.
Ah, Ideea, mickonaree oee? the same as drawling out By the bye, Miss Ideea, do you belong to the church?
Yes, me mickonaree, was the reply.
But the assertion was at once qualified by certain reservations; so curious that I cannot for bear their relation.
Mickonaree ena (church member here), exclaimed she, laying her hand upon her mouth, and a strong emphasis on the adverb. In the same way, and with similar exclamations, she touched her eyes and hands. This done, her whole air changed in an instant; and she gave me to understand, by unmistakable gestures, that in certain other respects she was not exactly a mickonaree. In short, Ideea was
A very heathen in the carnal part.1
The explanation terminated in a burst of laughter, in which all three sisters joined; and for fear of looking silly, the doctor and myself. As soon as good-breeding would permit, we took leave.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|