Mormon wedding label, who pays for what

Jack London

The Pearl / The House of Mapuhi

Translated from the English by Peter Friedrich

The Pearl

The House of Mapuhi

Despite her clumsy, clumsy lines, the Aorai was easy to maneuver in the gentle breeze, and the captain brought her close under land before turning just outside the pull of the surf. Hikueru Atoll barely protruded from the water, a ring of fine coral sand thirty meters wide, more than thirty kilometers in circumference, between a meter and a half above the high water mark. The bottom of the huge, crystal-clear lagoon was teeming with shells, and from the deck of the schooner you could see the divers at work across the narrow ring of the atoll. But the entrance to the lagoon was too narrow, even for a trading schooner. When the wind was favorable, a cutter might slip through the winding and shallow channel, but the schooners stayed outside and sent their little boats in.Despite the heavy clumsiness of her lines, the Aorai handled easily in the light breeze, and her captain ran her well in before he hove to just outside the suck of the surf. The atoll of Hikueru lay low on the water, a circle of pounded coral sand a hundred yards wide, twenty miles in circumference, and from three to five feet above high-water mark. On the bottom of the huge and glassy lagoon was much pearl shell, and from the deck of the schooner, across the slender ring of the atoll, the divers could be seen at work. But the lagoon had no entrance for even a trading schooner. With a favoring breeze cutters could win in through the tortuous and shallow channel, but the schooners lay off and on outside and sent in their small boats.The Aorai skilfully launched a boat, and half a dozen brown-skinned sailors clad only in bright red loincloths jumped in. They grabbed the oars while a young man stood at the helm on the quarterdeck in the white tropical clothing that identified him as a European. But the legacy of Polynesia was revealed in the golden hue of his fair skin and made golden lights and spots dance in the blue shimmer of his eyes. He was a Raoul, Alexandre Raoul, the youngest son of the wealthy Marie Raoul, who had a quarter of white blood in her veins and who owned and commanded a flotilla of half a dozen merchant schooners like the Aorai. Through a vortex immediately in front of the entrance, then in and over the boiling water of two opposing currents, the boat fought its way forward to the mirror-smooth calm of the lagoon. Young Raoul jumped out onto the white sand and shook hands with a tall native. The man had a mighty chest and enormous shoulders, but the stump of his right arm, from the flesh of which the weathered bone protruded several centimeters, testified to the encounter with a shark that put an end to his days as a diver and made him a drool who had to beg for small favors.The Aorai swung out a boat smartly, into which sprang half a dozen brown-skinned sailors clad only in scarlet loincloths. They took the oars, while in the stern sheets, at the steering sweep, stood a young man garbed in the tropic white that marks the European. The golden strain of Polynesia betrayed itself in the sun-gilt of his fair skin and cast up golden sheens and lights through the glimmering blue of his eyes. Raoul he was, Alexandre Raoul, youngest son of Marie Raoul, the wealthy quarter-caste, who owned and managed half a dozen trading schooners similar to the Aorai. Across an eddy just outside the entrance, and in and through and over a boiling tide-rip, the boat fought its way to the mirrored calm of the lagoon. Young Raoul leaped out upon the white sand and shook hands with a tall native. The man's chest and shoulders were magnificent, but the stump of a right arm, beyond the flesh of which the age-whitened bone projected several inches, attested the encounter with a shark that had put an end to his diving days and made him a fawner and an intriguer for small favors."Have you heard, Alec?" were his first words. "Mapuhi has found a pearl - and what a pearl! One that has never been fished on Hikueru before, not even in the Paumotus, not in the whole world. Buy it from him. He still has it. And remember for telling you about it first. He's a fool and you will get them cheap. Do you have a bit of tobacco left over? ""Have you heard, Alec?" were his first words. "Mapuhi has found a pearl - such a pearl. Never was there one like it ever fished up in Hikueru, nor in all the Paumotus, nor in all the world. Buy it from him. He has it now. And remember that I told you first. He is a fool and you can get it cheap. Have you any tobacco? "Raoul walked across the beach straight to a hut under a pandanus tree. He was his mother's freight master, and his job was to scour all of the paumotus for the wealth of copra, mother-of-pearl, and pearls they made.Straight up the beach to a shack under a pandanus tree Raoul headed. He was his mother's supercargo, and his business was to comb all the Paumotus for the wealth of copra, shell, and pearls that they yielded up.He had only recently been a freight master, this was only his second voyage in this capacity, and he was secretly worried about his lack of experience in judging pearls. But when Mapuhi revealed this pearl in front of his eyes, he managed to hide his amazement and maintain a calm, businesslike expression. Because the sight of the pearl had hit him like a blow. It was the size of a pigeon's egg, flawlessly round, and of a white that seemed to shimmer in opalescent lights of all colors. She was alive. He had never seen anything like it before. When Mapuhi dropped it into his hand, he was surprised by its weight. That showed it was a good pearl. He took a closer look at her through a pocket magnifying glass. It was without blemish or flaw. Her purity seemed to radiate out of his hand into the atmosphere. In the shadow it shone from within, shimmering like a gentle moon. It was so translucent in white that he could hardly see it when he dropped it into a glass of water. He could tell by the way she sank quickly and straight to the floor that she was of excellent weight.He was a young supercargo, it was his second voyage in such capacity, and he suffered much secret worry from his lack of experience in pricing pearls. But when Mapuhi exposed the pearl to his sight he managed to suppress the startle it gave him, and to maintain a careless, commercial expression on his face. For the pearl had struck him a blow. It was large as a pigeon egg, a perfect sphere, of a whiteness that reflected opalescent lights from all colors about it. It was alive. Never had he seen anything like it. When Mapuhi dropped it into his hand he was surprised by the weight of it. That showed that it was a good pearl. He examined it closely, through a pocket magnifying glass. It was without flaw or blemish. The purity of it seemed almost to melt into the atmosphere out of his hand. In the shade it was softly luminous, gleaming like a tender moon. So translucently white was it, that when he dropped it into a glass of water he had difficulty in finding it. So straight and swiftly had it sunk to the bottom that he knew its weight was excellent."Well, what do you want for it?" he asked with well-played nonchalance."Well, what do you want for it?" he asked, with a fine assumption of nonchalance."I want -" began Mapuhi and behind him, framing his own dark face, the dark faces of two women and a girl nodded in agreement with his wishes. Their heads were thrust forward, filled with suppressed impatience, their eyes glittered lustfully."I want--" Mapuhi began, and behind him, framing his own dark face, the dark faces of two women and a girl nodded concurrence in what he wanted. Their heads were bent forward, they were animated by a suppressed eagerness, their eyes flashed avariciously."I want a house," Mapuhi continued. "It must have a roof made of galvanized sheet iron and an octagonal pendulum clock. It must be ten meters long and have a veranda all around. In the middle it must have a large room with a round table in the center and the octagonal pendulum clock on the wall. It must have four bedrooms, two on either side of the great room, and each bedroom must have an iron bed, two chairs, and a vanity, and there must be a kitchen behind the house, a good kitchen with pots and pans and a stove. And you have to build the house on my island, on Fakarava. ""I want a house," Mapuhi went on. "It must have a roof of galvanized iron and an octagon drop clock. It must be six fathoms long with a porch all around. A big room must be in the center, with a round table in the middle of it and the octagon -drop-clock on the wall. There must be four bedrooms, two on each side of the big room, and in each bedroom must be an iron bed, two chairs, and a washstand. And back of the house must be a kitchen, a good kitchen, with pots and pans and a stove. And you must build the house on my island, which is Fakarava. ""Is that all?" Raoul asked incredulously."Is that all?" Raoul asked incredulously."There must also be a sewing machine," said Tefara, Mapuhi's wife."There must be a sewing machine," spoke up Tefara, Mapuhi's wife."Not to forget the octagonal pendulum clock," added Nauri, Mapuhi's mother,"Not forgetting the octagon-drop-clock," added Nauri, Mapuhi's mother."Yes, that's all," said Mapuhi."Yes, that is all," said Mapuhi.The young Raoul laughed. He laughed long and heartily. But while he laughed, he was secretly tossing around arithmetic problems. He hadn't built a house in his life and his ideas about building a house were hazy. As he laughed, he calculated the cost of the drive to Tahiti to get the materials, the cost of the building materials, the return trip to Fakarava, the landing of the cargo, and the house building itself. It came to four thousand French dollars, including a margin of safety - four thousand French dollars Equivalent of twenty thousand francs. Impossible. How should he measure the value of such a pearl? Twenty thousand francs was a lot of money - especially from his mother's money.Young Raoul laughed. He laughed long and heartily. But while he laughed he secretly performed problems in mental arithmetic. He had never built a house in his life, and his notions concerning house building were hazy. While he laughed, he calculated the cost of the voyage to Tahiti for materials, of the materials themselves, of the voyage back again to Fakarava, and the cost of landing the materials and of building the house. It would come to four thousand French dollars, allowing a margin for safety - four thousand French dollars were equivalent to twenty thousad francs. It was impossible. How was he to know the value of such a pearl? Twenty thousand francs was a lot of money - and of his mother's money at that."Mapuhi," he said, "you are a big fool. Name a price in money.""Mapuhi," he said, "you are a big fool. Set a money price."But Mapuhi shook his head and the three heads behind him said no in unison.But Mapuhi shook his head, and the three heads behind him shook with his."I want the house," he said. "It has to be ten meters long with a veranda all around -""I want the house," he said. "It must be six fathoms long with a porch all around--""Yes, yes," interrupted Raoul. "I know about your house, but I can't. I'll give you a thousand Chile dollars.""Yes, yes," Raoul interrupted. "I know all about your house, but it won't do. I'll give you a thousand Chili dollars."The four heads said no in unison.The four heads chorused a silent negative."And one hundred Chile dollars in goods.""And a hundred Chili dollars in trade.""I want the house," Mapuhi began."I want the house," Mapuhi began."What do you get from a house?" Raoul wanted to know. "The first hurricane sweeps it away. You know that."What good will the house do you?" Raoul demanded. "The first hurricane that comes along will wash it away. You ought to know.Captain Raffy says it looks very much like a hurricane right now. "Captain Raffy says it looks like a hurricane right now. ""Not on Fakarava," said Mapuhi. "The land is much higher there. On this island it is. Any hurricane can sweep Hikueru away. I want the house on Fakarava. It has to be ten meters long with a veranda all around -""Not on Fakarava," said Mapuhi. "The land is much higher there. On this island, yes. Any hurricane can sweep Hikueru. I will have the house on Fakarava. It must be six fathoms long with a porch all around--"And Raoul listened to the story of the house again. He spent several hours trying to persuade Mapuhi to get the obsession with the house out of his head; but Mapuhi's mother and wife, and also Ngakura, Mapuhi's daughter, strengthened his resolve. While listening to the detailed description of the desired house for the twentieth time, Raoul saw through the open door as the second boat of his schooner ran onto the beach. The sailors stayed on the oars, which meant that they were about to cast off again. The first mate of the Aorai jumped ashore, exchanged a few words with the one-armed native, then hurried towards Raoul. The day darkened suddenly when a storm cloud pushed itself in front of the face of the sun. Across the lagoon, Raoul could see the ominous line of the gust of wind drawing closer.And Raoul listened again to the tale of the house. Several hours he spent in the endeavor to hammer the house obsession out of Mapuhi's mind; but Mapuhi's mother and wife, and Ngakura, Mapuhi's daughter, bolstered him in his resolve for the house. Through the open doorway, while he listened for the twentieth time to the detailed description of the house that was wanted, Raoul saw his schooner's second boat draw up on the beach. The sailors rested on the oars, advertising haste to be gone. The first mate of the Aorai sprang ashore, exchanged a word with the one-armed native, then hurried toward Raoul. The day suddenly grew dark, as a squall obscured the face of the sun. Across the lagoon Raoul could see approaching the ominous line of the puff of wind."Captain Raffy says to see that you get out of here," was the mate's greeting. "If there's mother-of-pearl here, we'll have to risk picking it up later - at least that's what he thinks. The barometer has dropped to twenty-nine-seventy.""Captain Raffy says you've got to get to hell outa here," was the mate's greeting. "If there's any shell, we've got to run the risk of picking it up later on - so he says. The barometer's dropped to twenty-nine-seventy."The gust of wind hit the pandanus tree above them, drove through the palm trees beyond, and threw half a dozen ripe coconuts to the ground with thuds. Then the rain approached from afar, came with the roar of a storm wind and whipped the water of the lagoon in front of it in long plumes of spray. The sharp crackling of the first drops sounded in the leaves as Raoul jumped to his feet.The gust of wind struck the pandanus tree overhead and gate through the palms beyond, flinging half a dozen ripe cocoanuts with heavy thuds to the ground. Then came the rain out of the distance, advancing with the roar of a gale of wind and causing the water of the lagoon to smoke in driven windrows. The sharp rattle of the first drops was on the leaves when Raoul sprang to his feet."A thousand Chile dollars, Mapuhi, cash in hand," he said. "And two hundred Chile dollars in goods.""A thousand chili dollars, cash down, Mapuhi," he said. "And two hundred Chili dollars in trade.""I want a house," began the other."I want a house--" the other began."Mapuhi!" yelled Raoul to make himself understood. "You are a fool!""Mapuhi!" Raoul yelled, in order to make himself heard. "You are a fool!"He ran out of the house and struggled side by side with the mate towards the boat. You couldn't see it. The tropical rain surrounded them tightly like a curtain, so that they could only see the beach beneath their feet and the angry little waves of the lagoon, snapping at the sand and biting out small pieces. Then a pattern emerged from the torrential cast. It was Huru-Huru, the man with one arm.He flung out of the house, and, side by side with the mate, fought his way down the beach toward the boat. They could not see the boat. The tropic rain sheeted about them so that they could see only the beach under their feet and the spiteful little waves from the lagoon that snapped and bit at the sand. A figure appeared through the deluge. It was Huru-Huru, the man with the one arm."Did you get the pearl?" he shouted in Raoul's ear."Did you get the pearl?" he yelled in Raoul's ear."Mapuhi is a fool!" he yelled back, and in the next instant they were lost in the falling waters."Mapuhi is a fool!" was the answering yell, and the next moment they were lost to each other in the descending water.Half an hour later, Huru-Huru watched from the seaside of the atoll as the two boats were hoisted on board and the Aorai turned the prow out to sea. And near her, carried on the wings of the gust of wind from the open sea, he saw another schooner turning and launching a boat. He knew him. It was the OROHENA, whose owner was called Toriki, the half-blooded trader who was his own freight master and was undoubtedly already standing in the stern of the boat. Huru-Huru laughed to himself.He knew that Mapuhi still owed Toriki something for merchandise that he had advanced to him last year.Half an hour later, Huru-Huru, watching from the seaward side of the atoll, saw the two boats hoisted in and the Aorai pointing her nose out to sea. And near her, just come in from the sea on the wings of the squall, he saw another schooner hove to and dropping a boat into the water. He knew her. It was the OROHENA, owned by Toriki, the half-caste trader, who served as his own supercargo and who doubtlessly was even then in the star sheets of the boat. Huru-Huru chuckled. He knew that Mapuhi owed Toriki for trade goods advanced the year before.The squall had passed. The hot sun blazed down and the lagoon was flat again. But the air was sticky as glue, and its weight seemed to be on the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.The squall had passed. The hot sun was blazing down, and the lagoon was once more a mirror. But the air was sticky like mucilage, and the weight of it seemed to burden the lungs and make breathing difficult."Have you heard the news, Toriki?" asked Huru-Huru. "Mapuhi has found a pearl. A pearl like it has never been fished on Hikueru, not even in the Paumotus, not in the whole world. Mapuhi is a fool. Besides, he owes you money. Remember, I am going to you first talked about it. Do you have a bit of tobacco left over? ""Have you heard the news, Toriki?" Huru-Huru asked. "Mapuhi has found a pearl. Never was there a pearl like it ever fished up in Hikueru, nor anywhere in the Paumotus, nor anywhere in all the world. Mapuhi is a fool. Besides, he owes you money. Remember that I told you first. Have you any tobacco? "And Toriki went to Mapuhi's grass hut. He was a bossy man and quite stupid on top of that. He cast a careless glance at the beautiful pearl - only for a moment; and he carelessly slipped it into his pocket.And to the grass shack of Mapuhi went Toriki. He was a masterful man, withal a fairly stupid one. Carelessly he glanced at the wonderful pearl - glanced for a moment only; and carelessly he dropped it into his pocket."You're in luck," he said. "It's a pretty pearl. I'll give you credit for it.""You are lucky," he said. "It is a nice pearl. I will give you credit on the books.""I want a house," Mapuhi began in consternation. "It must be ten meters -""I want a house," Mapuhi began, in consternation. "It must be six fathoms--""Ten meters, you can tell your grandmother about that," replied the dealer. "You're paying your debts, that's what you want. You owed me twelve hundred chile dollars. All right; you don't owe me anything anymore. We're even. I'll also give you credit for two hundred chile dollars. In case the pearl sells well, when I come to Tahiti I'll give you another hundred credit - that's three hundred. But mind you, only if the pearl sells well. Maybe I'll even make a loss with it. ""Six fathoms your grandmother!" what the trader's retort. "You want to pay up your debts, that's what you want. You owed me twelve hundred dollars Chili. Very well; you owe them no longer. The amount is squared. Besides, I will give you credit for two hundred Chili. If, when I get to Tahiti, the pearl sells well, I will give you credit for another hundred - that will make three hundred. But mind, only if the pearl sells well. I may even lose money on it. "Mapuhi crossed his arms sadly and sat with his head down. It had been robbed of its pearl. Instead of getting a house for it, he had paid off debts. There was nothing left for his pearl.Mapuhi folded his arms in sorrow and sat with bowed head. He had been robbed of his pearl. In place of the house, he had paid a debt. There was nothing to show for the pearl."You are a fool," said Tefara."You are a fool," said Tefara."You are a fool," said Nauri, his mother. "Why did you give the pearl out of your hand?""You are a fool," said Nauri, his mother. "Why did you let the pearl into his hand?""What should I have done?" protested Mapuhi. "I owed him money. He knew I had the pearl. You heard for yourself how he asked me to show it to him. I hadn't told him anything. He knew it. Someone else told him. And I owed it him the money. ""What was I to do?" Mapuhi protested. "I owed him the money. He knew I had the pearl. You heard him yourself ask to see it. I had not told him. He knew. Somebody else told him. And I owed him the money.""Mapuhi is a fool," mimicked Ngakura."Mapuhi is a fool," mimicked Ngakura.She was twelve years old and understood no better. Mapuhi breathed his emotions by jabbing her ear vigorously, causing her to stumble backwards; Tefara and Nauri burst into tears and continued to reproach him about how women are like that.She was twelve years old and did not know any better. Mapuhi relieved his feelings by sending her reeling from a box on the ear; while Tefara and Nauri burst into tears and continued to upbraid him after the manner of women.From the beach, Huru-Huru watched a third schooner he knew turn outside the driveway and launch a boat. It was Hira, a fitting name because it belonged to Levy, the German Jew, the greatest of all pearl buyers. And as everyone knew, Hira was the Tahitian god of fishermen and thieves.Huru-Huru, watching on the beach, saw a third schooner that he knew heave to outside the entrance and drop a boat. It was the Hira, well named, for she was owned by Levy, the German Jew, the greatest pearl buyer of them all, and, as was well known, Hira was the Tahitian god of fishermen and thieves."Have you heard the news?" asked Huru-Huru as Levy, a fat man with massive, asymmetrical features, stepped onto the beach. "Mapuhi has found a pearl. A pearl like it has never been fished on Hikueru, not even in the Paumotus, not in the whole world. Mapuhi is a fool. He sold it to Toriki for fourteen hundred Chile dollars - I have listened outside. Toriki is a fool too. You can buy them cheaply from him. Remember I told you about it first. Do you have a bit of tobacco left over? ""Have you heard the news?" Huru-Huru asked, as Levy, a fat man with massive asymmetrical features, stepped out upon the beach. "Mapuhi has found a pearl. There was never a pearl like it in Hikueru, in all the Paumotus, in all the world. Mapuhi is a fool. He has sold it to Toriki for fourteen hundred Chili - I listened outside and heard. Toriki is likewise a fool. You can buy it from him cheap. Remember that I told you first. Have you any tobacco? ""Where's Toriki?""Where is Toriki?""At Captain Lynch's house, they're drinking absinthe. It's been in for an hour.""In the house of Captain Lynch, drinking absinthe. He has been there an hour."And while Levy and Toriki drank absinthe and haggled over the pearl, Huru-Huru listened and heard them agree on the exorbitant price of twenty-five thousand francs.And while Levy and Toriki drank absinthe and chaffered over the pearl, Huru-Huru listened and heard the stupendous price of twenty-five thousand francs agreed upon.At this point, both the OROHENA and the Hira ran up close to the bank and began to fire shots and signal wildly. The three men stepped outside just in time to see the two schooners hurriedly turning and heading for the open sea. They dropped the main sail and jib while fleeing from the gust of wind, which struck their claws in them and pushed the masts deep into the foaming water. Then they disappeared behind a rain curtain.It was at this time that both the OROHENA and the Hira, running in close to the shore, began firing guns and signaling frantically. The three men stepped outside in time to see the two schooners go hastily about and head off shore, dropping mainsails and flying jibs on the run in the teeth of the squall that heeled them far over on the whitened water. Then the rain blotted them out."They'll come back when it's over," said Toriki. "We should see that we get out of here.""They'll be back after it's over," said Toriki. "We'd better be getting out of here.""I suppose the glass fell some more," said Captain Lynch."I reckon the glass has fallen some more," said Captain Lynch.He was a white-bearded sailor, too old to stand on the bridge, and he had learned that only on Hikueru could he be reasonably comfortable with his asthma. He went in to check the barometer.He was a white-bearded sea-captain, too old for service, who had learned that the only way to live on comfortable terms with his asthma was on Hikueru. He went inside to look at the barometer."Great God!" they heard him exclaim and hurried after him to stare at the dial, which was twenty-nine-twenty."Great God!" they heard him exclaim, and rushed in to join him at staring at a dial, which marked twenty-nine-twenty.They went out again, this time to examine the sea and sky with worried looks. The squall had passed, but the sky remained overcast. They could see the two schooners, joined by a third, fighting their way back under full sail. A change in the wind forced them to raise the sails, and when he suddenly jumped again five minutes later he caught all three schooners from astern and those who remained on the beach saw them quickly loosening or throwing off the main sheets. The thunder of the surf sounded hollow and threatening and a heavy swell set in. A terrifying glow of the weather broke out in front of their eyes and brightened the gloomy day, while wild rumblings of thunder rolled in from all directions.Again they came out, this time anxiously to consult sea and sky. The squall had cleared away, but the sky remained overcast. The two schooners, under all sail and joined by a third, could be seen making back. A veer in the wind induced them to slack off sheets, and five minutes afterward a sudden veer from the opposite quarter caught all three schooners aback, and those on shore could see the boom-tackles being slacked away or cast off on the jump. The sound of the surf was loud, hollow, and menacing, and a heavy swell was setting in. A terrible sheet of lightning burst before their eyes, illuminating the dark day, and the thunder rolled wildly about them.Toriki and Levy made their way to their boats at a run, the latter rocking and stamping like a panicked hippopotamus. As their two boats were being washed out to pass through, they encountered the Aorai boat coming in. Raoul stood on the quarterdeck cheering on the rowers. He couldn't get the image of the pearl out of his head, so he came back to accept Mapuhi's price for a house.Toriki and Levy broke into a run for their boats, the latter ambling along like a panic-stricken hippopotamus. As their two boats swept out the entrance, they passed the boat of the Aorai coming in. In the stern sheets, encouraging the rowers, was Raoul. Unable to shake the vision of the pearl from his mind, he was returning to accept Mapuhi's price of a house.He landed on the beach in the middle of a lashing thunderstorm that was so thick that he collided with Huru-Huru before he could see him.He landed on the beach in the midst of a driving thunder squall that was so dense that he collided with Huru-Huru before he saw him."Too late," yelled Huru-Huru. "Mapuhi sold them to Toriki for fourteen hundred Chile dollars, and Toriki sold them to Levy for twenty-five thousand francs. And Levy will sell them in France for a hundred thousand francs. Do you have a bit of tobacco left?""Too late," yelled Huru-Huru. "Mapuhi sold it to Toriki for fourteen hundred Chili, and Toriki sold it to Levy for twenty-five thousand francs. And Levy will sell it in France for a hundred thousand francs. Have you any tobacco?"Raoul felt relieved. His worries about the pearl were over. He didn't have to worry anymore, even if he didn't have the pearl. But he didn't believe Huru-Huru. Mapuhi might have sold them for fourteen hundred Chile dollars, but it seemed too big a margin that Levy, who knew pearls, should have paid twenty-five thousand. Raoul decided to question Captain Lynch on the subject, but when he got to the old fur seal's house he found him staring at the barometer, his eyes wide.Raoul felt relieved. His troubles about the pearl were over. He need not worry any more, even if he had not got the pearl. But he did not believe Huru-Huru. Mapuhi might well have sold it for fourteen hundred chili, but that Levy, who knew pearls, should have paid twenty-five thousand francs was too wide a stretch. Raoul decided to interview Captain Lynch on the subject, but when he arrived at that ancient mariner's house, he found him looking wide-eyed at the barometer."What do you see there?" Captain Lynch asked worriedly, cleaning his glasses and staring at the instrument again."What do you read it?" Captain Lynch asked anxiously, rubbing his spectables and staring again at the instrument."Twenty-nine-ten," said Raoul. "I've never seen it so low.""Twenty-ninth," said Raoul. "I have never seen it so low before.""I like to think so!" snorted the captain. "Fifty years on all seven seas, from childhood, and I've never seen it fall this deep. Listen!""I should say not!" snorted the captain. "Fifty years boy and man on all the seas, and I've never seen it go down to that. Listen!"They listened for a while as the surf thundered and shook the house. Then they went outside. The shower had passed. They could see the Aorai lying in a doldrums a mile away, pounding and lurching like a cork in the huge waves of waves that rolled in majestic procession from the northeast and threw themselves furiously against the coral beach. One of the sailors from the boat pointed to the mouth of the passage and shook his head. Raouls followed his gesture with his eyes and saw a white chaos of foam and torrential lakes.They stood for a moment, while the surf rumbled and shook the house. Then they went outside. The squall had passed. They could see the Aorai lying becalmed a mile away and pitching and tossing madly in the tremendous seas that rolled in stately procession down out of the northeast and flung themselves furiously upon the coral shore. One of the sailors from the boat pointed at the mouth of the passage and shook his head. Raoul looked and saw a white anarchy of foam and surge."I think I have to stay with you tonight, Captain," he said. Then he instructed the seaman to pull the boat ashore and take shelter for himself and his comrades."I guess I'll stay with you tonight, Captain," he said; then turned to the sailor and told him to haul the boat out and to find shelter for himself and fellows."A straight twenty-nine," reported Captain Lynch as he came out from another look at the barometer, chair in hand."Twenty-nine flat," Captain Lynch reported, coming out from another look at the barometer, a chair in his hand.He sat down and stared at the spectacle that the sea offered them. The sun came out, adding to the sultriness, while the sudden, absolute calm continued. The waves seemed to swell higher and higher.He sat down and stared at the spectacle of the sea. The sun came out, increasing the sultriness of the day, while the dead calm still held. The seas continued to increase in magnitude."I don't understand what is causing this swell," Raoul muttered irritably."What makes that sea is what gets me," Raoul muttered petulantly. "There is absolutely no wind, but just look, look at that fellow!""There is no wind, yet look at it, look at that fellow there!"For miles, carrying tens of thousands of tons of weight, the impact of the crusher shook the filigree atoll like an earthquake. Captain Lynch was taken aback.Miles in length, carrying tens of thousands of tons in weight, its impact shook the frail atoll like an earthquake. Captain Lynch was startled."My goodness!" he shouted, half rising from his chair before sinking back down again."Gracious!" he bellowed, half rising from his chair, then sinking back."But there is no wind." Raoul was persistent. "I could understand if there was a wind blowing at the same time.""But there is no wind," Raoul persisted. "I could understand it if there was wind along with it.""Don't worry, you'll get your wind soon enough," was the grim reply."You'll get the wind soon enough without worryin 'for it," was the grim reply.The two men sat in silence. The sweat stepped on their skin in myriads of tiny droplets and ran together into damp spots, which in turn grew into rivulets and dripped onto the floor. They gasped for air, and especially the old man gasped with the effort. A lake poured over the beach, licking the trunks of the coconut palms and only got lost just before their feet.The two men sat on in silence. The sweat stood out on their skin in myriads of tiny drops that ran together, forming blotches of moisture, which, in turn, coalesced into rivulets that dripped to the ground. They panted for breath, the old man's efforts being especially painful. A sea swept up the beach, licking around the trunks of the cocoanuts and subsiding almost at their feet."Well above the high tide line," remarked Captain Lynch. "I've been living here for eleven years now." He looked at the clock. "It's three.""Way past high water mark," Captain Lynch remarked; "and I've been here eleven years." He looked at his watch. "It's three o'clock."A man and woman with a colorful retinue of brats and mutt passed by with worried expressions. They stopped on the other side of the house, and after much hesitation they sat on the sand. A few minutes later another family appeared from the opposite direction. The men and women carried all kinds of possessions with them. And soon several hundred people of all ages and genders had gathered around the captain's residence. He spoke to one of the newcomers, a woman with a baby in her arms, and was told that her house had just been washed into the lagoon.A man and woman, at their heels a motley following of brats and curs, trailed disconsolately by. They came to a halt beyond the house, and, after much irresolution, sat down in the sand. A few minutes later another family trailed in from the opposite direction, the men and women carrying a heterogeneous assortment of possessions. And soon several hundred persons of all ages and sexes were aggregated about the captain's dwelling. He called to one new arrival, a woman with a nursing babe in her arms, and in answer received the information that her house had just been swept into the lagoon.This was for miles the highest spot on earth, and on both sides the great waves had already made clear breaches in many places in the narrow ring of the atoll and poured into the lagoon. The atoll was over thirty kilometers in circumference, but nowhere was it more than ninety meters wide. It was the high point of the diving season and the natives from all the surrounding islands, even from distant Tahiti, had gathered.This was the highest spot of land in miles, and already, in many places on either hand, the great seas were making a clean breach of the slender ring of the atoll and surging into the lagoon. Twenty miles around stretched the ring of the atoll, and in no place was it more than fifty fathoms wide. It was the height of the diving season, and from all the islands around, even as far as Tahiti, the natives had gathered."Twelve hundred men, women and children live here," said Captain Lynch. "I wonder how many there will be in the morning.""There are twelve hundred men, women, and children here," said Captain Lynch. "I wonder how many will be here tomorrow morning.""But why is there no wind? That's what I want to know." Raoul couldn't be dissuaded."But why don't it blow? - that's what I want to know," Raoul demanded."Don't worry, young man, doom will come soon enough.""Don't worry, young man, don't worry; you'll get your troubles fast enough."Captain Lynch hadn't finished when a massive body of water shook the atoll.Even as Captain Lynch spoke, a great watery mass smote the atoll.The sea water foamed eight centimeters under their chairs. A dull howl of fear rose from the many women. The children stared into the huge breakers with clasped hands and wept pitifully. Chickens and cats waded through the water, disturbed, and then, as if they had agreed, they fled in a wild hunt to the captain's house and sought refuge on the roof. A man from Paumotu climbed a coconut tree with a litter of newborn pups in a basket and fastened the basket a good six meters above the ground. The bitch raged howling and barking in the water below.The sea water churned about them three inches deep under the chairs. A low wail of fear went up from the many women. The children, with clasped hands, stared at the immense rollers and cried piteously. Chickens and cats, wading perturbedly in the water, as by common consent, with flight and scramble took refuge on the roof of the captain's house. A Paumotan, with a litter of new-born puppies in a basket, climbed into a cocoanut tree and twenty feet above the ground made the basket fast. The mother floundered about in the water beneath, whining and yelping.And there was still bright sunshine and the total calm continued. They sat and watched the waves and the mad lurching of the aorai. Captain Lynch stared into the rolling mountains of water until he could no longer bear it. He buried his face in his hands to block out the sight; then he went into the house.And still the sun shone brightly and the dead calm continued. They sat and watched the seas and the insane pitching of the Aorai. Captain Lynch gazed at the huge mountains of water sweeping in until he could gaze no more. He covered his face with his hands to shut out the sight; then went into the house."Twenty-eight-sixty," he said calmly when he returned."Twenty-eight-sixty," he said quietly when he returned.He held a roll of thin rope in his arms. He cut it into four meter long pieces, gave one to Raoul, kept one for himself, and distributed the rest among the women, advising them to choose a tree and climb it.In his arm was a coil of small rope. He cut it into two-fathom lengths, giving one to Raoul and, retaining one for himself, distributed the remainder among the women with the advice to pick out a tree and climb.A light breeze began to blow from the northwest and the coolness on his cheek seemed to cheer Raoul. He could see the Aorai trim her sails and set sail, and he regretted he wasn't on board. She would definitely get away with it, but as far as the atoll was concerned ... A wave broke its way, almost tore him off his feet and he picked a tree. Then he remembered the barometer and ran back to the house. He ran into Captain Lynch, who had the same goal, and they went inside together.A light air began to blow out of the northeast, and the fan of it on his cheek seemed to cheer Raoul up. He could see the Aorai trimming her sheets and heading off shore, and he regretted that he was not on her. She would get away at any rate, but as for the atoll - A sea breached across, almost sweeping him off his feet, and he selected a tree. Then he remembered the barometer and ran back to the house. He encountered Captain Lynch on the same errand and together they went in."Twenty-eight-twenty," said the old fur seal. "It will be hell if - what is it?""Twenty-eight-twenty," said the old mariner. "It's going to be fair hell around here - what was that?"The air suddenly seemed to be filled with a kind of roar. The house shook and shook and they heard a sound like a tremendous vibrating string. The windows rattled. Two panes shattered and a gust of wind blew in that staggered them. The door across the street slammed and smashed the bolt. The white doorknob crumbled to the floor in small pieces. The walls of the room bulged like the envelope of a gas balloon suddenly inflated. Then there was a new sound like the crack of musket shots as the spray of a wave pelted the walls of the house. Captain Lynch checked his watch. It was four. He pulled on a pilot's coat, unhooked the barometer and stowed it in a spacious pocket. Again a sea struck the house with a thud and the light building leaned, turned ninety degrees on its foundation, and came to rest with the ground sloping ten degrees.The air seemed filled with the rush of something. The house quivered and vibrated, and they heard the thrumming of a mighty note of sound. The windows rattled. Two panes crashed; a draft of wind goals in, striking them and making them stagger. The door opposite banged shut, shattering the latch. The white door knob crumbled in fragments to the floor. The room's walls bulged like a gas balloon in the process of sudden inflation. Then came a new sound like the rattle of musketry, as the spray from a sea struck the wall of the house. Captain Lyncyh looked at his watch. It was four o'clock. He put on a coat of pilot cloth, unhooked the barometer, and stowed it away in a capacious pocket. Again a sea struck the house, with a heavy thud, and the light building tilted, twisted, quarter around on its foundation, and sank down, its floor at an angle of ten degrees.Raoul went out first. The wind grabbed him and whirled him around. He found that he had turned to the east. With great effort he threw himself into the sand, made himself small, and clung to it. Captain Lynch was drifting along like a straw, tripped over him, and threw all fours away. Two sailors from the Aorai left the coconut tree they had been clutching to to come to their aid. They had to lean against the wind at an impossible angle and, with their toes clawed in the sand, fight their way forward inch by inch.Raoul went out first. The wind caught him and whirled him away. He noted that it had hauled around to the east. With a great effort he threw himself on the sand, crouching and holding his own. Captain Lynch, driven like a wisp of straw, sprawled over him. Two of the Aorai'S sailors, leaving a cocoanut tree to which they had been clinging, came to their aid, leaning against the wind at impossible angles and fighting and clawing every inch of the way.The old man's joints were too stiff to climb, so the sailors hoisted him up the trunk with short, knotted pieces of rope until they could tie him to the top of the tree, fifteen meters above the ground. Raoul looped the end of the rope around the base of a nearby tree and looked around. The wind was terrifying. He would never have dreamed that it could blow so hard. A lake crashed over the atoll and soaked it to the knees before draining into the lagoon. The sun had gone and a leaden twilight had set in. A few horizontal raindrops hit him. They hit like lead bullets. A splash of salt water hit his face. It was like a man's slap in the face. His cheeks hurt and involuntarily tears of pain came into his burning eyes. Several hundred natives had taken refuge in the trees and he would have laughed at the clusters of human fruits that hung in the tree tops. Then, quite the native Tahitian, he bent his hips, clasped his hands behind the trunk of the tree, braced the soles of his feet against the bark and began to run up the tree. In the crown he found two women, two children and a man. A little girl held a house cat tightly in her arms.The old man's joints were stiff and he could not climb, so the sailors, by means of short ends of rope tied together, hoisted him up the trunk, a few feet at a time, till they could make him fast, at the top of the tree, fifty feet from the ground. Raoul passed his length of rope around the base of an adjacent tree and stood looking on. The wind was frightful. He had never dreamed it could blow so hard. A sea breached across the atoll, wetting him to the knees ere it subsided into the lagoon. The sun had disappeared, and a lead-colored twilight settled down. A few drops of rain, driving horizontally, struck him. The impact was like that of leaden pellets. A splash of salt spray struck his face. It was like the slap of a man's hand. His cheeks stung, and involuntary tears of pain were in his smarting eyes. Several hundred natives had taken to the trees, and he could have laughed at the bunches of human fruit clustering in the tops. Then, being Tahitian-born, he doubled his body at the waist, clasped the trunk of his tree with his hands, pressed the soles of his feet against the near surface of the trunk, and began to walk up the tree. At the top he found two women, two children, and a man. One little girl clasped a housecat in her arms.From an eagle's nest he waved to Captain Lynch and the brave patriarch waved back. Raoul was startled at the sight of the sky. He had moved much closer - in fact he thought he could touch him if he held out his hand; and it had turned from lead gray to black. Many people were still on the ground in groups at the base of the trees they were holding on to. Several of these groups prayed, and in one of them the Mormon missionary preached. A strange sound came to his ear, rhythmic, as soft as the barely audible chirping of a distant cricket. After a moment it fell silent again, but as it lasted Raoul had been thinking vaguely of the heavenly sounds of the spheres. He looked around and saw a large group of people at the foot of another tree, clinging to ropes and each other. He could see it working on their faces and their lips moving in unison. Although no note reached him, he knew that they were singing chorales.From his eyrie he waved his hand to Captain Lynch, and that doughty patriarch waved back. Raoul was appalled at the sky. It had approached much nearer - in fact, it seemed just over his head; and it had turned from lead to black. Many people were still on the ground grouped about the bases of the trees and holding on. Several such clusters were praying, and in one the Mormon missionary was exhorting. A weird sound, rhythmical, faint as the faintest chirp of a far cricket, enduring but for a moment, but in the moment suggesting to him vaguely the thought of heaven and celestial music, came to his ear. He glanced about him and saw, at the base of another tree, a large cluster of people holding on by ropes and by one another. He could see their faces working and their lips moving in unison. No sound came to him, but he knew that they were singing hymns.And the wind was still getting stronger. He had no more measure for it, for this wind exceeded everything he had experienced before; but anyway he knew, somehow, that it was roaring even harder. Not far away a tree was uprooted and hurled its human burden to the ground. A lake flooded over the sandstrip, and then they were gone. Everything happened very quickly. He saw a brown shoulder and a black skull against the foaming white lagoon. In the next instant they were swallowed up too. More trees buckled and fell like a match. The violence of the storm stunned him. His own tree swayed precariously. One woman gave a plaintive cry and clutched the little girl, who in turn held the cat.Still the wind continued to blow harder. By no conscious process he could measure it, for it had long since passed beyond all his experience of wind; but he knew somehow, nevertheless, that it was blowing harder. Not far away a tree was uprooted, flinging its load of human beings to the ground. A sea washed across the strip of sand, and they were gone. Things were happening quickly. He saw a brown shoulder and a black head silhouetted against the churning white of the lagoon. The next instant that, too, had vanished. Other trees were going, falling and criss-crossing like matches. He was amazed at the power of the wind. His own tree was swaying perilously, one woman was wailing and clutching the little girl, who in turn still hung on to the cat.The man holding the other child touched Raoul's arm and pointed. He followed his gaze and saw the Mormon Church lean to one side thirty yards away as if drunk. It had been torn from its foundation and the wind and sea lifted and pushed it towards the lagoon. A fearsome wave grabbed them, overturned them, and threw them against half a dozen coconut trees. The clusters of human fruits fell like ripe coconuts. When the wave retreated, it laid it down like flotsam on the sand, some motionless, others writhing and wriggling. In a strange way they reminded him of ants. He was beyond horror. It was almost a matter of course that he noted how the following wave cleared the sand from the human flotsam. A third wave, even greater than any he had seen before, tore the church into the lagoon, where it drifted, half submerged, with the wind into nothingness like Noah's ark.The man, holding the other child, touched Raoul's arm and pointed. He looked and saw the Mormon church careering drunkenly a hundred feet away. It had been torn from its foundations, and wind and sea were heaving and shoving it toward the lagoon. A frightful wall of water caught it, tilted it, and flung it against half a dozen coconut trees. The bunches of human fruit fell like ripe cocoanuts. The subsiding wave showed them on the ground, some lying motionless, others squirming and writhing. They reminded him strangely of ants. He was not shocked. He had risen above horror. Quite as a matter of course he noted the succeeding wave sweep the sand clean of the human wreckage. A third wave, more colossal than any he had yet seen, hurled the church into the lagoon, where it floated off into the obscurity to leeward, half-submerged, reminding him for all the world of a Noah's ark.He looked at Captain Lynch's house and was surprised to find that it was gone. Events rolled over. He noticed that many people had climbed down from the trees that were still standing. The storm had increased even further. He felt it on the tree he was sitting on. He no longer swayed or leaned from side to side. Instead, it remained practically immobile, tilted away from the wind at a fixed angle, just vibrating. But those vibrations were nauseating. They felt like a huge tuning fork or the tongue of a jew's harp. The worst part was the speed of the vibrations. Even if the roots held up, the tree could no longer withstand the strain. Something had to break.He looked for Captain Lynch's house, and was surprised to find it gone. Things certainly were happening quickly. He noticed that many of the people in the trees that still held had descended to the ground. The wind had yet increased again. His own tree showed that. It no longer swayed or bent over and back. Instead, it remained practically stationary, curved in a rigid angle from the wind and merely vibrating. But the vibration was sickening.It was like that of a tuning fork or the tongue of a jew's harp. It was the rapidity of the vibration that made it so bad. Even though its roots held, it could not stand the strain for long. Something would have to break.Ah, someone had given in. He hadn't seen it break off, but there it was, just a stalk, severed halfway up the trunk. You didn't see what was happening unless you happened to be looking. The falling trees and the pitiful cries of despair were completely drowned out in the tremendous volume of the storm. He happened to be looking in Captain Lynch's direction when it happened. He saw the trunk of the tree silently splinter and break halfway up. The top of the palm tree with three sailors from the Aorai and the old captain sailed away across the lagoon. Instead of falling, it drifted through the air like a handful of chaff. Thirty meters he followed his flight with his eyes until he fell into the water. He screwed up his eyes and was sure he saw Captain Lynch wave goodbye.Ah, there was one that had gone. He had not seen it go, but there it stood, the remnant, broken off half-way up the trunk. One did not know what happened unless he saw it. The mere crashing of trees and wails of human despair occupied no place in that mighty volume of sound. He chanced to be looking in Captain Lynch's direction when it happened. He saw the trunk of the tree, half-way up, splinter and part without noise. The head of the tree, with three sailors of the Aorai and the old captain sailed off over the lagoon. It did not fall to the ground, but drove through the air like a piece of chaff. For a hundred yards he followed its flight when it struck the water. He strained his eyes, and was sure that he saw Captain Lynch wave farewell.Raoul didn't wait any longer. He nudged the native and motioned for him to climb down. The man seemed willing, but his wives were paralyzed with horror and he decided to stay with them. Raoul pulled his rope behind the trunk and let himself slide to the ground. A gush of sea water poured over him, submerging him completely. He held his breath and clung desperately to the rope. The water ran away and he could breathe again under the shelter of the trunk. He knotted the rope tighter and another sea buried him under it. One of the women slid down and joined him, while the native stayed with the other woman, the two children, and the cat.Raoul did not wait for anything more. He touched the native and made signs to descend to the ground. The man was willing, but his women were paralayzed from terror, and he elected to remain with them. Raoul passed his rope around the tree and slid down. A rush of salt water went over his head. He held his breath and clung desperately to the rope. The water subsided, and in the shelter of the trunk he breathed once more. He fastened the rope more securely, and then was put under by another sea. One of the women slid down and joined him, the native remaining by the other woman, the two children, and the cat.The cargo master had noticed how the groups that were clinging to the foot of the trees thinned out more and more. Now he could see firsthand why this was happening. It took all of his strength to hold on. The woman who had come to him grew weaker. Whenever he emerged from a sea, he was surprised that he was still there, and even more surprised that the woman was still there. When he came up again, he found that he was alone. He looked up. The crown of the palm was gone too. Halfway up its original height, its splintered end vibrated. He was safe. The roots still held, and the part of the tree that was exposed to the wind had sheared off. He started climbing up. He was so weak he was making slow progress, and wave upon wave passed over him before he was finally high enough. Then he tied himself to the trunk and prepared himself for the night and whatever else might lie ahead.The supercargo had noticed how the groups clinging at the bases of the other trees continually diminished. Now he saw the process work out alongside him. It required all his strength to hold on, and the woman who had joined him was growing weaker. Each time he emerged from a sea he was surprised to find himself still there, and next, surprised to find the woman still there. At last he emerged to find himself alone. He looked up. The top of the tree had gone as well. At half its original height, a splintered end vibrated. He was safe. The roots still held, while the tree had been shorn of its windage. He began to climb up. He was so weak that he went slowly, and sea after sea caught him before he was above them. Then he tied himself to the trunk and stiffened his soul to face the night and he knew not what.He felt very lonely in the dark. At times it seemed to him that the end of the world had come and that he was the last survivor. The wind was still picking up. He gained weight hour by hour. By the time he estimated it was eleven o'clock, the storm had grown incredibly strong. He was a terrible, monstrous thing, a screeching madness, a massive wall that fell on him over and over again and then disappeared into the darkness - a wall without end. It seemed to him that he had become light and ethereal. As if it was he who was on the move. That he was driven through a massive endlessness with incredible speed. The wind was no longer just moving air. It had become as material as water or mercury. He felt as if he could reach in and tear pieces out like meat from an ox's carcass. That he could grab the wind and hold on to it like a man clinging to the edge of a cliff.He felt very lonely in the darkness. At times it seemed to him that it was the end of the world and that he was the last one left alive. Still the wind increased. Hour after hour it increased. By what he calculated was eleven o'clock, the wind had become unbelievable. It was a horrible, monstrous thing, a screaming fury, a wall that smote and passed on but that continued to smite and pass on - a wall without end. It seemed to him that he had become light and ethereal; that it was he that was in motion; that he was being driven with inconceivable velocity through unending solidness. The wind was no longer air in motion. It had become substantial as water or quick silver. He had a feeling that he could reach into it and tear it out in chunks as one might do with the meat in the carcass of a steer; that he could seize hold of the wind and hang on to it as a man might hang on to the face of a cliff.The wind cut off his air. He couldn't face him and breathe at the same time, for it roared through his mouth and nose and inflated his lungs like a balloon. At such moments he felt as if his body was swollen and stuffed with solid earth. Only when he pressed his lips against the trunk of the tree could he breathe. And the incessant rush of the wind exhausted him. The body and mind grew tired. He was no longer watching, no longer thinking, and only half conscious. His consciousness consisted of a single thought: SO THAT'S A HURRICANE. This one thought came and went at irregular intervals. It was like a weak flame that flickered from time to time. From the state of numbness he returned to him - SO THAT'S A HURRICANE. Then it fell back into twilight.The wind strangled him. He could not face it and breathe, for it rushed in through his mouth and nostrils, distending his lungs like bladders. At such moments it seemed to him that his body was being packed and swollen with solid earth. Only by pressing his lips to the trunk of the tree could he breathe. Also, the ceaseless impact of the wind exhausted him. Body and brain became wearied. He no longer observed, no longer thought, and was but semiconscious. One idea constituted his consciousness: SO THIS WAS A HURRICANE. That one idea persisted irregularly. It was like a feeble flame that flickered occasionally. From a state of stupor he would return to it - SO THIS WAS A HURRICANE. Then he would go off into another stupor.The hurricane peak lasted from eleven o'clock in the morning to three in the morning, and it was just eleven when the tree that Mapuhi and his wives were clinging to broke off. When Mapuhi appeared on the surface of the lagoon, he was still clutching his daughter Ngakura. Only a South Sea islander could survive in such a lashing spray. The pandanus tree to which he was clinging was constantly turning on its own axis in the foaming sea; only by holding on and waiting sometimes, and at other times shuffling around hastily, did he manage to bring his and Ngakura's head above the surface at short enough intervals so that they did not drown. But the air was mostly water, flying spray and impenetrable rain that shot parallel to the surface of the lagoon.The height of the hurricane endured from eleven at night till three in the morning, and it was at eleven that the tree in which clung Mapuhi and his women snapped off. Mapuhi rose to the surface of the lagoon, still clutching his daughter Ngakura. Only a South Sea islander could have lived in such a driving smother. The pandanus tree, to which he attached himself, turned over and over in the froth and churn; and it was only by holding on at times and waiting, and at other times shifting his grips rapidly, that he was able to get his head and Ngakura's to the surface at intervals sufficiently near together to keep the breath in them. But the air was mostly water, what with flying spray and sheeted rain that poured along at right angles to the perpendicular.It was ten miles across the lagoon to the other side of the ring of sand. Here tree trunks, beams, wreckage of cutters and rubble from houses killed nine out of ten of the pathetic figures who had survived the crossing of the lagoon. Half drowned and exhausted, they were tossed into that insane mortar of the elements and crushed into shapeless lumps of meat. But Mapuhi was lucky. His odds were one in ten; by a whim of fate the lucky ticket had fallen to him. He dragged himself to the bank, bleeding from a series of wounds.It was ten miles across the lagoon to the farther ring of sand. Here, tossing tree trunks, timbers, wrecks of cutters, and wreckage of houses, killed nine out of ten of the miserable beings who survived the passage of the lagoon. Half-drowned, exhausted, they were hurled into this mad mortar of the elements and battered into formless flesh. But Mapuhi was fortunate. His chance was the one in ten; it fell to him by the freakage of fate. He emerged upon the sand, bleeding from a score of wounds.Ngakura's left arm was broken. The fingers of her right hand were shattered and the cheek and forehead gaped to the bone. Mapuhi clutched a tree that was still standing, held the girl tightly and gasped for air, sobbing as the waters of the lagoon rushed by knee-deep, sometimes waist-deep.Ngakura's left arm was broken; the fingers of her right hand were crushed; and cheek and forehead were laid open to the bone. He clutched a tree that yet stood, and clung on, holding the girl and sobbing for air, while the waters of the lagoon washed by knee-high and at times waist-high.At three in the morning, the main force of the hurricane broke. At five o'clock there was only a stiff breeze. And at six it was dead quiet and the sun was shining. The swell had subsided. At the still troubled edge of the lagoon, Mapuhi saw the shattered bodies of those who had failed to land. No doubt Tefara and Nauri were among them. He walked along the beach and examined the bodies until he saw his wife, who was half in, half out of the water. He sat down and wept with harsh animal noises, as is the kind of primeval mourning. Then she moved in a daze and groaned. He took a closer look. Not only was she alive, she was unharmed. She just slept. She had also had the luck of the one in ten.At three in the morning the backbone of the hurricane broke. By five no more than a stiff breeze was blowing. And by six it was dead calm and the sun was shining. The sea had gone down. On the yet restless edge of the lagoon, Mapuhi saw the broken bodies of those that had failed in the landing. Undoubtedly Tefara and Nauri were among them. He went along the beach examining them, and came upon his wife, lying half in and half out of the water. He sat down and wept, making harsh animal noises after the manner of primitive grief. Then she stirred uneasily, and groaned. He looked more closely. Not only was she alive, but she was uninjured. She was merely sleeping. Hers also had been the one chance in ten.Of the twelve hundred who had been alive the night before, only three hundred remained. The Mormon missionary and a gendarme took a census. The lagoon was littered with corpses. There was no house or hut left. No two stones remained on top of each other in the whole atoll. Every fiftieth coconut tree was still standing, and these too were wrecks with not a single nut hanging from them.Of the twelve hundred alive the night before but three hundred remained. The mormon missionary and a gendarme made the census. The lagoon was cluttered with corpses. Not a house nor a hut was standing. In the whole atoll not two stones remained one upon another. One in fifty of the cocoanut palms still stood, and they were wrecks, while on not one of them remained a single nut.There was no fresh water. The shallow springs, in which the rainwater seeping through the surface collected, were full of salt. A few soaked sacks of flour were retrieved from the lagoon. The survivors cut the hearts out of the fallen coconut trees and ate them. Here and there they hid in tiny shelters that they dug in the sand and covered with remnants of tin roofs. The missionary made a primitive still, but he couldn't distill enough water for three hundred people. At the end of the second day, while taking a dip in the lagoon, Raoul discovered that it quenched his thirst a little. He shouted the news and soon afterwards three hundred men, women and children could be seen standing up to their necks in the lagoon trying to drink water through their skin. Their dead floated around them and they stepped on those who were still lying on the ground. On the third day, people buried their dead and settled down to wait for the lifeboats.There was no fresh water. The shallow wells that caught the surface seepage of the rain were filled with salt. Out of the lagoon, a few soaked bags of flour were recovered. The survivors cut the hearts out of the fallen cocoanut trees and ate them. Here and there they crawled into tiny hutches, made by hollowing out the sand and covering over with fragments of metal roofing. The missionary made a crude still, but he could not distill water for three hundred persons. By the end of the second day, Raoul, taking a bath in the lagoon, discovered that his thirst was somewhat relieved. He cried out the news, and thereupon three hundred men, women, and children could have been seen, standing up to their necks in the lagoon and trying to drink water in through their skins. Their dead floated about them, or were stepped upon where they still lay upon the bottom. On the third day the people buried their dead and sat down to wait for the rescue steamers.Meanwhile, Nauri, wrenched from her family by the hurricane, had been washed away in her own adventure. She clung to a rough plank that cut and scraped her and pierced her body with splinters, and with that plank she was carried smoothly over the atoll to the open sea. Here, under the unimaginable onslaught of mountains of water, she lost her plank. She was an old woman, about sixty; but she was of the Paumotus and had lived within sight of the ocean all her life. As she swam through the darkness, gagging, half choking and gasping for breath, a coconut slammed hard on her shoulder. At that moment she made up her mind and picked up the nut. She caught seven more in the next hour. Tied together they formed a lifebuoy that kept them alive while threatening to knock them into lumps. She was an obese woman and was easily injured; but she had experience with hurricanes and while she prayed to her shark god to protect her from sharks, she waited for the wind to finally subside. But at three o'clock she had fallen into such a twilight state that she didn't notice it. And even when there was dead silence at six o'clock, she noticed nothing. She was rudely jerked back into the present when a wave threw her onto the beach. She clutched herself with sore, bleeding hands and feet and braced herself against the pullback until she was out of reach of the surf.In the meantime, Nauri, torn from her family by the hurricane, had been swept away on an adventure of her own. Clinging to a rough plank that wounded and bruised her and that filled her body with splinters, she was thrown clear over the atoll and carried away to sea. Here, under the amazing buffets of mountains of water, she lost her plank. She was an old woman nearly sixty; but she was Paumotan-born, and she had never been out of sight of the sea in her life. Swimming in the darkness, strangling, suffocating, fighting for air, she was struck a heavy blow on the shoulder by a cocoanut. On the instant her plan was formed, and she seized the nut. In the next hour she captured seven more. Tied together, they formed a life-buoy that preserved her life while at the same time it threatened to pound her to a jelly.She was a fat woman, and she bruised easily; but she had experience of hurricanes, and while she prayed to her shark god for protection from sharks, she waited for the wind to break. But at three o'clock she was in such a stupor that she did not know. Nor did she know at six o'clock when the dead calm settled down. She was shocked into consciousness when she was thrown upon the sand. She dug in with raw and bleeding hands and feet and clawed against the backwash until she was beyond the reach of the waves.She knew where she was. That piece of land could only be the tiny island of Takokota. It did not have a lagoon. Nobody lived there.She knew where she was. This land could be no other than the tiny islet of Takokota. It had no lagoon. No one lived upon it.Hikueru was fifteen miles away. She couldn't see Hikueru, but she knew it was to the south. The days passed and she lived on the coconuts that kept her afloat. They provided them with drinking water and food. But she neither drank as much as she wanted nor ate as much. Rescue was questionable. She saw the plumes of smoke from the auxiliary steamers on the horizon, but which steamship would come to the lonely, uninhabited Takokota?Hikueru was fifteen miles away. She couldn't see Hikueru, but she knew that it lay to the south. The days went by, and she lived on the cocoanuts that had kept her afloat. They supplied her with drinking water and with food. But she did not drink all she wanted, nor eat all she wanted. Rescue was problematical. She saw the smoke of the rescue steamers on the horizon, but what steamer could be expected to come to lonely, uninhabited Takokota?From the first moment she was followed by the corpses. The sea kept trying stubbornly to throw her onto her piece of sand, and until she lost her strength, she stubbornly kept throwing her back into the sea, where the sharks tore and devoured her. When she could no longer, the corpses began to cover their beach with their gruesome horror and she withdrew as far as possible from them, which was not far.From the first she was tormented by corpses. The sea persisted in flinging them upon her bit of sand, and she persisted, until her strength failed, in thrusting them back into the sea where the sharks tore at them and devoured them. When her strength failed, the bodies festooned her beach with ghastly horror, and she withdrew from them as far as she could, which was not far.On the tenth day, her last coconut was used up and she dried up from thirst. She dragged herself down the beach in search of coconuts. It was strange that so many bodies were floating and not a single nut. There had to be more coconuts swimming around than dead people! Finally she gave up and lay there, exhausted. The end was there. There was nothing left for her to do but wait for death.By the tenth day her last cocoanut was gone, and she was shrivelling from thirst. She dragged herself along the sand, looking for cocoanuts. It was strange that so many bodies floated up, and no nuts. Surely, there were more cocoanuts afloat than dead men! She gave up at last, and lay exhausted. The end had come. Nothing remained but to wait for death.As she emerged from her twilight state, she gradually became aware that she was staring at a tuft of red-blonde hair on the head of a corpse. The sea threw the body towards her, pulled it back again. He rolled over and she saw that he no longer had a face. And yet there was something familiar about that tuft of red-blonde hair. An hour passed. She didn't try too hard to identify the body. She waited to die and didn’t care much which man this horrible thing had once been. Coming out of a stupor, she became slowly aware that she was gazing at a patch of sandy-red hair on the head of a corpse. The sea flung the body toward her, then drew it back. It turned over, and she saw that it had no face. Yet there was something familiar about that patch of sandy-red hair. An hour passed. She did not exert herself to make the identification. She was waiting to die, and it mattered little to her what man that thing of horror once might have been.But after an hour she slowly sat up and stared at the corpse. An unusually high wave had thrown it ashore so far that the smaller ones could no longer reach it. Yes, she was right; this tuft of red-blonde hair could only belong to one person in the paumotus. It was Levy, the German Jew, the man who had bought the pearl and taken it with him on the Hira. Well, one thing was obvious: the Hira had sunk. The god of fishermen and thieves of the pearl buyer had abandoned him.