The Hegira, or Flight
I say, doctor, cried I, a few days after my adventure with the goblin, as, in the absence of our host, we were one morning lounging upon the matting in his dwelling, smoking our reed pipes, Tamais a thriving place; why not settle down?
Faith! said he, not a bad idea, Paul. But do you fancy theyll let us stay, though?
Why, certainly; they would be overjoyed to have a couple of Karhowrees for townsmen.
Gad! youre right, my pleasant fellow. Ha! ha! Ill put up a banana-leaf as a physician from London deliver lectures on Polynesian antiquities teach English in five lessons, of one hour each establish power-looms for the manufacture of tappa lay out a public park in the middle of the village, and found a festival in honour of Captain Cook!
But, surely, not without stopping to take breath, observed I.
The doctors projects, to be sure, were of a rather visionary cast; but we seriously thought, nevertheless, of prolonging our stay in the valley for an indefinite period; and, with this understanding, we were turning over various plans for spending our time pleasantly, when several women came running into the house, and hurriedly besought us to heree! heree! (make our escape), crying out something about the Mickonarees.
Thinking that we were about to be taken up under the act for the suppression of vagrancy, we flew out of the house, sprang into a canoe before the door, and paddled with might and main over to the opposite side of the lake.
Approaching Rartoos dwelling was a great crowd, among which we perceived several natives, who, from their partly European dress, we were certain did not reside in Tamai.
Plunging into the groves, we thanked our stars that we had thus narrowly escaped being apprehended as runaway seamen, and marched off to the beach. This, at least, was what we thought we had escaped.
Having fled the village, we could not think of prowling about its vicinity, and then returning; in doing so we might be risking our liberty again. We therefore determined upon journeying back to Martair; and setting our faces thitherward, we reached the planters house about nightfall. They gave us a cordial reception, and a hearty supper; and we sat up talking until a late hour.
We now prepared to go round to Taloo, a place from which we were not far off when at Tamai; but wishing to see as much of the island as we could, we preferred returning to Martair, and then going round by way of the beach.
Taloo, the only frequented harbour of Imeeo, lies on the western side of the island, almost directly over against Martair. Upon one shore of the bay stands the village of Partoowye, a missionary station. In its vicinity is an extensive sugar plantation the best in the South Seas, perhaps worked by a person from Sydney.
The patrimonial property of the husband of Pomaree, and every way a delightful retreat, Partoowye was one of the occasional residences of the court. But at the time I write of it was permanently fixed there, the queen having fled thither from Tahiti.
Partoowye, they told us, was by no means the place Papeetee was. Ships seldom touched, and very few foreigners were living ashore. A solitary whaler, however, was reported to be lying in the harbour, wooding and watering, and to be in want of men.
All things considered, I could not help looking upon Taloo as offering a splendid opening for us adventurers. To say nothing of the facilities presented for going to sea in the whaler, or hiring ourselves out as day labourers in the sugar plantation, there were hopes to be entertained of being promoted to some office of high trust and emolument about the person of her majesty, the queen.
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