The Cruise of the Snark
Jack London

Part 4 out of 4

compass bearing of Futuna, another of Aniwa, and laid them off on
the chart. Where the two bearings crossed was bound to be the
position of the Snark. Then, with my parallel rulers, I laid down a
course from the Snark's position to Port Resolution. Having
corrected this course for variation and deviation, I went on deck,
and lo, the course directed me towards that unbroken coast-line of
bursting seas. To my Rapa islander's great concern, I held on till
the rocks awash were an eighth of a mile away.

"No harbour this place," he announced, shaking his head ominously.

But I altered the course and ran along parallel with the coast.
Charmian was at the wheel. Martin was at the engine, ready to throw
on the propeller. A narrow silt of an opening showed up suddenly.
Through the glasses I could see the seas breaking clear across.
Henry, the Rapa man, looked with troubled eyes; so did Tehei, the
Tahaa man.

"No passage, there," said Henry. "We go there, we finish quick,

I confess I thought so, too; but I ran on abreast, watching to see
if the line of breakers from one side the entrance did not overlap
the line from the other side. Sure enough, it did. A narrow place
where the sea ran smooth appeared. Charmian put down the wheel and
steadied for the entrance. Martin threw on the engine, while all
hands and the cook sprang to take in sail.

A trader's house showed up in the bight of the bay. A geyser, on
the shore, a hundred yards away; spouted a column of steam. To
port, as we rounded a tiny point, the mission station appeared.

"Three fathoms," cried Wada at the lead-line. "Three fathoms," "two
fathoms," came in quick succession.

Charmian put the wheel down, Martin stopped the engine, and the
Snark rounded to and the anchor rumbled down in three fathoms.
Before we could catch our breaths a swarm of black Tannese was
alongside and aboard--grinning, apelike creatures, with kinky hair
and troubled eyes, wearing safety-pins and clay-pipes in their
slitted ears: and as for the rest, wearing nothing behind and less
than that before. And I don't mind telling that that night, when
everybody was asleep, I sneaked up on deck, looked out over the
quiet scene, and gloated--yes, gloated--over my navigation.


"Why not come along now?" said Captain Jansen to us, at Penduffryn,
on the island of Guadalcanar.

Charmian and I looked at each other and debated silently for half a
minute. Then we nodded our heads simultaneously. It is a way we
have of making up our minds to do things; and a very good way it is
when one has no temperamental tears to shed over the last tin-of
condensed milk when it has capsized. (We are living on tinned goods
these days, and since mind is rumoured to be an emanation of matter,
our similes are naturally of the packing-house variety.)

"You'd better bring your revolvers along, and a couple of rifles,"
said Captain Jansen. "I've got five rifles aboard, though the one
Mauser is without ammunition. Have you a few rounds to spare?"

We brought our rifles on board, several handfuls of Mauser
cartridges, and Wada and Nakata, the Snark's cook and cabin-boy
respectively. Wada and Nakata were in a bit of a funk. To say the
least, they were not enthusiastic, though never did Nakata show the
white feather in the face of danger. The Solomon Islands had not
dealt kindly with them. In the first place, both had suffered from
Solomon sores. So had the rest of us (at the time, I was nursing
two fresh ones on a diet of corrosive sublimate); but the two
Japanese had had more than their share. And the sores are not nice.
They may be described as excessively active ulcers. A mosquito
bite, a cut, or the slightest abrasion, serves for lodgment of the
poison with which the air seems to be filled. Immediately the ulcer
commences to eat. It eats in every direction, consuming skin and
muscle with astounding rapidity. The pin-point ulcer of the first
day is the size of a dime by the second day, and by the end of the
week a silver dollar will not cover it.

Worse than the sores, the two Japanese had been afflicted with
Solomon Island fever. Each had been down repeatedly with it, and in
their weak, convalescent moments they were wont to huddle together
on the portion of the Snark that happened to be nearest to faraway
Japan, and to gaze yearningly in that direction.

But worst of all, they were now brought on board the Minota for a
recruiting cruise along the savage coast of Malaita. Wada, who had
the worse funk, was sure that he would never see Japan again, and
with bleak, lack-lustre eyes he watched our rifles and ammunition
going on board the Minota. He knew about the Minota and her Malaita
cruises. He knew that she had been captured six months before on
the Malaita coast, that her captain had been chopped to pieces with
tomahawks, and that, according to the barbarian sense of equity on
that sweet isle, she owed two more heads. Also, a labourer on
Penduffryn Plantation, a Malaita boy, had just died of dysentery,
and Wada knew that Penduffryn had been put in the debt of Malaita by
one more head. Furthermore, in stowing our luggage away in the
skipper's tiny cabin, he saw the axe gashes on the door where the
triumphant bushmen had cut their way in. And, finally, the galley
stove was without a pipe--said pipe having been part of the loot.

The Minota was a teak-built, Australian yacht, ketch-rigged, long
and lean, with a deep fin-keel, and designed for harbour racing
rather than for recruiting blacks. When Charmian and I came on
board, we found her crowded. Her double boat's crew, including
substitutes, was fifteen, and she had a score and more of "return"
boys, whose time on the plantations was served and who were bound
back to their bush villages. To look at, they were certainly true
head-hunting cannibals. Their perforated nostrils were thrust
through with bone and wooden bodkins the size of lead-pencils.
Numbers of them had punctured the extreme meaty point of the nose,
from which protruded, straight out, spikes of turtle-shell or of
beads strung on stiff wire. A few had further punctured their noses
with rows of holes following the curves of the nostrils from lip to
point. Each ear of every man had from two to a dozen holes in it--
holes large enough to carry wooden plugs three inches in diameter
down to tiny holes in which were carried clay-pipes and similar
trifles. In fact, so many holes did they possess that they lacked
ornaments to fill them; and when, the following day, as we neared
Malaita, we tried out our rifles to see that they were in working
order, there was a general scramble for the empty cartridges, which
were thrust forthwith into the many aching voids in our passengers'

At the time we tried out our rifles we put up our barbed wire
railings. The Minota, crown-decked, without any house, and with a
rail six inches high, was too accessible to boarders. So brass
stanchions were screwed into the rail and a double row of barbed
wire stretched around her from stem to stern and back again. Which
was all very well as a protection from savages, but it was mighty
uncomfortable to those on board when the Minota took to jumping and
plunging in a sea-way. When one dislikes sliding down upon the lee-
rail barbed wire, and when he dares not catch hold of the weather-
rail barbed wire to save himself from sliding, and when, with these
various disinclinations, he finds himself on a smooth flush-deck
that is heeled over at an angle of forty-five degrees, some of the
delights of Solomon Islands cruising may be comprehended. Also, it
must be remembered, the penalty of a fall into the barbed wire is
more than the mere scratches, for each scratch is practically
certain to become a venomous ulcer. That caution will not save one
from the wire was evidenced one fine morning when we were running
along the Malaita coast with the breeze on our quarter. The wind
was fresh, and a tidy sea was making. A black boy was at the wheel.
Captain Jansen, Mr. Jacobsen (the mate), Charmian, and I had just
sat down on deck to breakfast. Three unusually large seas caught
us. The boy at the wheel lost his head. Three times the Minota was
swept. The breakfast was rushed over the lee-rail. The knives and
forks went through the scuppers; a boy aft went clean overboard and
was dragged back; and our doughty skipper lay half inboard and half
out, jammed in the barbed wire. After that, for the rest of the
cruise, our joint use of the several remaining eating utensils was a
splendid example of primitive communism. On the Eugenie, however,
it was even worse, for we had but one teaspoon among four of us--but
the Eugenie is another story.

Our first port was Su'u on the west coast of Malaita. The Solomon
Islands are on the fringe of things. It is difficult enough sailing
on dark nights through reef-spiked channels and across erratic
currents where there are no lights to guide (from northwest to
southeast the Solomons extend across a thousand miles of sea, and on
all the thousands of miles of coasts there is not one lighthouse);
but the difficulty is seriously enhanced by the fact that the land
itself is not correctly charted. Su'u is an example. On the
Admiralty chart of Malaita the coast at this point runs a straight,
unbroken line. Yet across this straight, unbroken line the Minota
sailed in twenty fathoms of water. Where the land was alleged to
be, was a deep indentation. Into this we sailed, the mangroves
closing about us, till we dropped anchor in a mirrored pond.
Captain Jansen did not like the anchorage. It was the first time he
had been there, and Su'u had a bad reputation. There was no wind
with which to get away in case of attack, while the crew could be
bushwhacked to a man if they attempted to tow out in the whale-boat.
It was a pretty trap, if trouble blew up.

"Suppose the Minota went ashore--what would you do?" I asked.

"She's not going ashore," was Captain Jansen's answer.

"But just in case she did?" I insisted. He considered for a moment
and shifted his glance from the mate buckling on a revolver to the
boat's crew climbing into the whale-boat each man with a rifle.

"We'd get into the whale-boat, and get out of here as fast as God'd
let us," came the skipper's delayed reply.

He explained at length that no white man was sure of his Malaita
crew in a tight place; that the bushmen looked upon all wrecks as
their personal property; that the bushmen possessed plenty of Snider
rifles; and that he had on board a dozen "return" boys for Su'u who
were certain to join in with their friends and relatives ashore when
it came to looting the Minota.

The first work of the whale-boat was to take the "return" boys and
their trade-boxes ashore. Thus one danger was removed. While this
was being done, a canoe came alongside manned by three naked
savages. And when I say naked, I mean naked. Not one vestige of
clothing did they have on, unless nose-rings, ear-plugs, and shell
armlets be accounted clothing. The head man in the canoe was an old
chief, one-eyed, reputed to be friendly, and so dirty that a boat-
scraper would have lost its edge on him. His mission was to warn
the skipper against allowing any of his people to go ashore. The
old fellow repeated the warning again that night.

In vain did the whale-boat ply about the shores of the bay in quest
of recruits. The bush was full of armed natives; all willing enough
to talk with the recruiter, but not one would engage to sign on for
three years' plantation labour at six pounds per year. Yet they
were anxious enough to get our people ashore. On the second day
they raised a smoke on the beach at the head of the bay. This being
the customary signal of men desiring to recruit, the boat was sent.
But nothing resulted. No one recruited, nor were any of our men
lured ashore. A little later we caught glimpses of a number of
armed natives moving about on the beach.

Outside of these rare glimpses, there was no telling how many might
be lurking in the bush. There was no penetrating that primeval
jungle with the eye. In the afternoon, Captain Jansen, Charmian,
and I went dynamiting fish. Each one of the boat's crew carried a
Lee-Enfield. "Johnny," the native recruiter, had a Winchester
beside him at the steering sweep. We rowed in close to a portion of
the shore that looked deserted. Here the boat was turned around and
backed in; in case of attack, the boat would be ready to dash away.
In all the time I was on Malaita I never saw a boat land bow on. In
fact, the recruiting vessels use two boats--one to go in on the
beach, armed, of course, and the other to lie off several hundred
feet and "cover" the first boat. The Minota, however, being a small
vessel, did not carry a covering boat.

We were close in to the shore and working in closer, stern-first,
when a school of fish was sighted. The fuse was ignited and the
stick of dynamite thrown. With the explosion, the surface of the
water was broken by the flash of leaping fish. At the same instant
the woods broke into life. A score of naked savages, armed with
bows and arrows, spears, and Sniders, burst out upon the shore. At
the same moment our boat's crew, lifted their rifles. And thus the
opposing parties faced each other, while our extra boys dived over
after the stunned fish.

Three fruitless days were spent at Su'u. The Minota got no recruits
from the bush, and the bushmen got no heads from the Minota. In
fact, the only one who got anything was Wade, and his was a nice
dose of fever. We towed out with the whale-boat, and ran along the
coast to Langa Langa, a large village of salt-water people, built
with prodigious labour on a lagoon sand-bank--literally BUILT up, an
artificial island reared as a refuge from the blood-thirsty bushmen.
Here, also, on the shore side of the lagoon, was Binu, the place
where the Minota was captured half a year previously and her captain
killed by the bushmen. As we sailed in through the narrow entrance,
a canoe came alongside with the news that the man-of-war had just
left that morning after having burned three villages, killed some
thirty pigs, and drowned a baby. This was the Cambrian, Captain
Lewes commanding. He and I had first met in Korea during the
Japanese-Russian War, and we had been crossing each ether's trail
ever since without ever a meeting. The day the Snark sailed into
Suva, in the Fijis, we made out the Cambrian going out. At Vila, in
the New Hebrides, we missed each other by one day. We passed each
other in the night-time off the island of Santo. And the day the
Cambrian arrived at Tulagi, we sailed from Penduffryn, a dozen miles
away. And here at Langa Langa we had missed by several hours.

The Cambrian had come to punish the murderers of the Minota's
captain, but what she had succeeded in doing we did not learn until
later in the day, when a Mr. Abbot, a missionary, came alongside in
his whale-boat. The villages had been burned and the pigs killed.
But the natives had escaped personal harm. The murderers had not
been captured, though the Minota's flag and other of her gear had
been recovered. The drowning of the baby had come about through a
misunderstanding. Chief Johnny, of Binu, had declined to guide the
landing party into the bush, nor could any of his men be induced to
perform that office. Whereupon Captain Lewes, righteously
indignant, had told Chief Johnny that he deserved to have his
village burned. Johnny's beche de mer English did not include the
word "deserve." So his understanding of it was that his village was
to be burned anyway. The immediate stampede of the inhabitants was
so hurried that the baby was dropped into the water. In the
meantime Chief Johnny hastened to Mr. Abbot. Into his hand he put
fourteen sovereigns and requested him to go on board the Cambrian
and buy Captain Lewes off. Johnny's village was not burned. Nor
did Captain Lewes get the fourteen sovereigns, for I saw them later
in Johnny's possession when he boarded the Minota. The excuse
Johnny gave me for not guiding the landing party was a big boil
which he proudly revealed. His real reason, however, and a
perfectly valid one, though he did not state it, was fear of revenge
on the part of the bushmen. Had he, or any of his men, guided the
marines, he could have looked for bloody reprisals as soon as the
Cambrian weighed anchor.

As an illustration of conditions in the Solomons, Johnny's business
on board was to turn over, for a tobacco consideration, the sprit,
mainsail, and jib of a whale-boat. Later in the day, a Chief Billy
came on board and turned over, for a tobacco consideration, the mast
and boom. This gear belonged to a whale-boat which Captain Jansen
had recovered the previous trip of the Minota. The whale-boat
belonged to Meringe Plantation on the island of Ysabel. Eleven
contract labourers, Malaita men and bushmen at that, had decided to
run away. Being bushmen, they knew nothing of salt water nor of the
way of a boat in the sea. So they persuaded two natives of San
Cristoval, salt-water men, to run away with them. It served the San
Cristoval men right. They should have known better. When they had
safely navigated the stolen boat to Malaita, they had their heads
hacked off for their pains. It was this boat and gear that Captain
Jansen had recovered.

Not for nothing have I journeyed all the way to the Solomons. At
last I have seen Charmian's proud spirit humbled and her imperious
queendom of femininity dragged in the dust. It happened at Langa
Langa, ashore, on the manufactured island which one cannot see for
the houses. Here, surrounded by hundreds of unblushing naked men,
women, and children, we wandered about and saw the sights. We had
our revolvers strapped on, and the boat's crew, fully armed, lay at
the oars, stern in; but the lesson of the man-of-war was too recent
for us to apprehend trouble. We walked about everywhere and saw
everything until at last we approached a large tree trunk that
served as a bridge across a shallow estuary. The blacks formed a
wall in front of us and refused to let us pass. We wanted to know
why we were stopped. The blacks said we could go on. We
misunderstood, and started. Explanations became more definite.
Captain Jansen and I, being men, could go on. But no Mary was
allowed to wade around that bridge, much less cross it. "Mary" is
beche de mer for woman. Charmian was a Mary. To her the bridge was
tambo, which is the native for taboo. Ah, how my chest expanded!
At last my manhood was vindicated. In truth I belonged to the
lordly sex. Charmian could trapse along at our heels, but we were
MEN, and we could go right over that bridge while she would have to
go around by whale-boat.

Now I should not care to be misunderstood by what follows; but it is
a matter of common knowledge in the Solomons that attacks of fever
are often brought on by shock. Inside half an hour after Charmian
had been refused the right of way, she was being rushed aboard the
Minota, packed in blankets, and dosed with quinine. I don't know
what kind of shock had happened to Wada and Nakata, but at any rate
they were down with fever as well. The Solomons might be

Also, during the attack of fever, Charmian developed a Solomon sore.
It was the last straw. Every one on the Snark had been afflicted
except her. I had thought that I was going to lose my foot at the
ankle by one exceptionally malignant boring ulcer. Henry and Tehei,
the Tahitian sailors, had had numbers of them. Wada had been able
to count his by the score. Nakata had had single ones three inches
in length. Martin had been quite certain that necrosis of his
shinbone had set in from the roots of the amazing colony he elected
to cultivate in that locality. But Charmian had escaped. Out of
her long immunity had been bred contempt for the rest of us. Her
ego was flattered to such an extent that one day she shyly informed
me that it was all a matter of pureness of blood. Since all the
rest of us cultivated the sores, and since she did not--well,
anyway, hers was the size of a silver dollar, and the pureness of
her blood enabled her to cure it after several weeks of strenuous
nursing. She pins her faith to corrosive sublimate. Martin swears
by iodoform. Henry uses lime-juice undiluted. And I believe that
when corrosive sublimate is slow in taking hold, alternate dressings
of peroxide of hydrogen are just the thing. There are white men in
the Solomons who stake all upon boracic acid, and others who are
prejudiced in favour of lysol. I also have the weakness of a
panacea. It is California. I defy any man to get a Solomon Island
sore in California.

We ran down the lagoon from Langa Langa, between mangrove swamps,
through passages scarcely wider than the Minota, and past the reef
villages of Kaloka and Auki. Like the founders of Venice, these
salt-water men were originally refugees from the mainland. Too weak
to hold their own in the bush, survivors of village massacres, they
fled to the sand-banks of the lagoon. These sand-banks they built
up into islands. They were compelled to seek their provender from
the sea, and in time they became salt-water men. They learned the
ways of the fish and the shellfish, and they invented hooks and
lines, nets and fish-traps. They developed canoe-bodies. Unable to
walk about, spending all their time in the canoes, they became
thick-armed and broad-shouldered, with narrow waists and frail
spindly legs. Controlling the sea-coast, they became wealthy, trade
with the interior passing largely through their hands. But
perpetual enmity exists between them and the bushmen. Practically
their only truces are on market-days, which occur at stated
intervals, usually twice a week. The bushwomen and the salt-water
women do the bartering. Back in the bush, a hundred yards away,
fully armed, lurk the bushmen, while to seaward, in the canoes, are
the salt-water men. There are very rare instances of the market-day
truces being broken. The bushmen like their fish too well, while
the salt-water men have an organic craving for the vegetables they
cannot grow on their crowded islets.

Thirty miles from Langa Langa brought us to the passage between
Bassakanna Island and the mainland. Here, at nightfall, the wind
left us, and all night, with the whale-boat towing ahead and the
crew on board sweating at the sweeps, we strove to win through. But
the tide was against us. At midnight, midway in the passage, we
came up with the Eugenie, a big recruiting schooner, towing with two
whale-boats. Her skipper, Captain Keller, a sturdy young German of
twenty-two, came on board for a "gam," and the latest news of
Malaita was swapped back and forth. He had been in luck, having
gathered in twenty recruits at the village of Fiu. While lying
there, one of the customary courageous killings had taken place.
The murdered boy was what is called a salt-water bushman--that is, a
salt-water man who is half bushman and who lives by the sea but does
not live on an islet. Three bushmen came down to this man where he
was working in his garden. They behaved in friendly fashion, and
after a time suggested kai-kai. Kai-kai means food. He built a
fire and started to boil some taro. While bending over the pot, one
of the bushmen shot him through the head. He fell into the flames,
whereupon they thrust a spear through his stomach, turned it around,
and broke it off.

"My word," said Captain Keller, "I don't want ever to be shot with a
Snider. Spread! You could drive a horse and carriage through that
hole in his head."

Another recent courageous killing I heard of on Malaita was that of
an old man. A bush chief had died a natural death. Now the bushmen
don't believe in natural deaths. No one was ever known to die a
natural death. The only way to die is by bullet, tomahawk, or spear
thrust. When a man dies in any other way, it is a clear case of
having been charmed to death. When the bush chief died naturally,
his tribe placed the guilt on a certain family. Since it did not
matter which one of the family was killed, they selected this old
man who lived by himself. This would make it easy. Furthermore, he
possessed no Snider. Also, he was blind. The old fellow got an
inkling of what was coming and laid in a large supply of arrows.
Three brave warriors, each with a Snider, came down upon him in the
night time. All night they fought valiantly with him. Whenever
they moved in the bush and made a noise or a rustle, he discharged
an arrow in that direction. In the morning, when his last arrow was
gone, the three heroes crept up to him and blew his brains out.

Morning found us still vainly toiling through the passage. At last,
in despair, we turned tail, ran out to sea, and sailed clear round
Bassakanna to our objective, Malu. The anchorage at Malu was very
good, but it lay between the shore and an ugly reef, and while easy
to enter, it was difficult to leave. The direction of the southeast
trade necessitated a beat to windward; the point of the reef was
widespread and shallow; while a current bore down at all times upon
the point.

Mr. Caulfeild, the missionary at Malu, arrived in his whale-boat
from a trip down the coast. A slender, delicate man he was,
enthusiastic in his work, level-headed and practical, a true
twentieth-century soldier of the Lord. When he came down to this
station on Malaita, as he said, he agreed to come for six months.
He further agreed that if he were alive at the end of that time, he
would continue on. Six years had passed and he was still continuing
on. Nevertheless he was justified in his doubt as to living longer
than six months. Three missionaries had preceded him on Malaita,
and in less than that time two had died of fever and the third had
gone home a wreck.

"What murder are you talking about?" he asked suddenly, in the midst
of a confused conversation with Captain Jansen.

Captain Jansen explained.

"Oh, that's not the one I have reference to," quoth Mr. Caulfeild.
"That's old already. It happened two weeks ago."

It was here at Malu that I atoned for all the exulting and gloating
I had been guilty of over the Solomon sore Charmian had collected at
Langa Langa. Mr. Caulfeild was indirectly responsible for my
atonement. He presented us with a chicken, which I pursued into the
bush with a rifle. My intention was to clip off its head. I
succeeded, but in doing so fell over a log and barked my shin.
Result: three Solomon sores. This made five all together that were
adorning my person. Also, Captain Jansen and Nakata had caught
gari-gari. Literally translated, gari-gari is scratch-scratch. But
translation was not necessary for the rest of us. The skipper's and
Nakata's gymnastics served as a translation without words.

(No, the Solomon Islands are not as healthy as they might be. I am
writing this article on the island of Ysabel, where we have taken
the Snark to careen and clean her cooper. I got over my last attack
of fever this morning, and I have had only one free day between
attacks. Charmian's are two weeks apart. Wada is a wreck from
fever. Last night he showed all the symptoms of coming down with
pneumonia. Henry, a strapping giant of a Tahitian, just up from his
last dose of fever, is dragging around the deck like a last year's
crab-apple. Both he and Tehei have accumulated a praiseworthy
display of Solomon sores. Also, they have caught a new form of
gari-gari, a sort of vegetable poisoning like poison oak or poison
ivy. But they are not unique in this. A number of days ago
Charmian, Martin, and I went pigeon-shooting on a small island, and
we have had a foretaste of eternal torment ever since. Also, on
that small island, Martin cut the soles of his feet to ribbons on
the coral whilst chasing a shark--at least, so he says, but from the
glimpse I caught of him I thought it was the other way about. The
coral-cuts have all become Solomon sores. Before my last fever I
knocked the skin off my knuckles while heaving on a line, and I now
have three fresh sores. And poor Nakata! For three weeks he has
been unable to sit down. He sat down yesterday for the first time,
and managed to stay down for fifteen minutes. He says cheerfully
that he expects to be cured of his gari-gari in another month.
Furthermore, his gari-gari, from too enthusiastic scratch-
scratching, has furnished footholds for countless Solomon sores.
Still furthermore, he has just come down with his seventh attack of
fever. If I were king, the worst punishment I could inflict on my
enemies would be to banish them to the Solomons. On second thought,
king or no king, I don't think I'd have the heart to do it.)

Recruiting plantation labourers on a small, narrow yacht, built for
harbour sailing, is not any too nice. The decks swarm with recruits
and their families. The main cabin is packed with them. At night
they sleep there. The only entrance to our tiny cabin is through
the main cabin, and we jam our way through them or walk over them.
Nor is this nice. One and all, they are afflicted with every form
of malignant skin disease. Some have ringworm, others have bukua.
This latter is caused by a vegetable parasite that invades the skin
and eats it away. The itching is intolerable. The afflicted ones
scratch until the air is filled with fine dry flakes. Then there
are yaws and many other skin ulcerations. Men come aboard with
Solomon sores in their feet so large that they can walk only on
their toes, or with holes in their legs so terrible that a fist
could be thrust in to the bone. Blood-poisoning is very frequent,
and Captain Jansen, with sheath-knife and sail needle, operates
lavishly on one and all. No matter how desperate the situation,
after opening and cleansing, he claps on a poultice of sea-biscuit
soaked in water. Whenever we see a particularly horrible case, we
retire to a corner and deluge our own sores with corrosive
sublimate. And so we live and eat and sleep on the Minota, taking
our chance and "pretending it is good."

At Suava, another artificial island, I had a second crow over
Charmian. A big fella marster belong Suava (which means the high
chief of Suava) came on board. But first he sent an emissary to
Captain Jansen for a fathom of calico with which to cover his royal
nakedness. Meanwhile he lingered in the canoe alongside. The regal
dirt on his chest I swear was half an inch thick, while it was a
good wager that the underneath layers were anywhere from ten to
twenty years of age. He sent his emissary on board again, who
explained that the big fella marster belong Suava was
condescendingly willing enough to shake hands with Captain Jansen
and me and cadge a stick or so of trade tobacco, but that
nevertheless his high-born soul was still at so lofty an altitude
that it could not sink itself to such a depth of degradation as to
shake hands with a mere female woman. Poor Charmian! Since her
Malaita experiences she has become a changed woman. Her meekness
and humbleness are appallingly becoming, and I should not be
surprised, when we return to civilization and stroll along a
sidewalk, to see her take her station, with bowed head, a yard in
the rear.

Nothing much happened at Suava. Bichu, the native cook, deserted.
The Minota dragged anchor. It blew heavy squalls of wind and rain.
The mate, Mr. Jacobsen, and Wada were prostrated with fever. Our
Solomon sores increased and multiplied. And the cockroaches on
board held a combined Fourth of July and Coronation Parade. They
selected midnight for the time, and our tiny cabin for the place.
They were from two to three inches long; there were hundreds of
them, and they walked all over us. When we attempted to pursue
them, they left solid footing, rose up in the air, and fluttered
about like humming-birds. They were much larger than ours on the
Snark. But ours are young yet, and haven't had a chance to grow.
Also, the Snark has centipedes, big ones, six inches long. We kill
them occasionally, usually in Charmian's bunk. I've been bitten
twice by them, both times foully, while I was asleep. But poor
Martin had worse luck. After being sick in bed for three weeks, the
first day he sat up he sat down on one. Sometimes I think they are
the wisest who never go to Carcassonne.

Later on we returned to Malu, picked up seven recruits, hove up
anchor, and started to beat out the treacherous entrance. The wind
was chopping about, the current upon the ugly point of reef setting
strong. Just as we were on the verge of clearing it and gaining
open sea, the wind broke off four points. The Minota attempted to
go about, but missed stays. Two of her anchors had been lost at
Tulagi. Her one remaining anchor was let go. Chain was let out to
give it a hold on the coral. Her fin keel struck bottom, and her
main topmast lurched and shivered as if about to come down upon our
heads. She fetched up on the slack of the anchors at the moment a
big comber smashed her shoreward. The chain parted. It was our
only anchor. The Minota swung around on her heel and drove headlong
into the breakers.

Bedlam reigned. All the recruits below, bushmen and afraid of the
sea, dashed panic-stricken on deck and got in everybody's way. At
the same time the boat's crew made a rush for the rifles. They knew
what going ashore on Malaita meant--one hand for the ship and the
other hand to fight off the natives. What they held on with I don't
know, and they needed to hold on as the Minota lifted, rolled, and
pounded on the coral. The bushmen clung in the rigging, too witless
to watch out for the topmast. The whale-boat was run out with a
tow-line endeavouring in a puny way to prevent the Minota from being
flung farther in toward the reef, while Captain Jansen and the mate,
the latter pallid and weak with fever, were resurrecting a scrap-
anchor from out the ballast and rigging up a stock for it. Mr.
Caulfeild, with his mission boys, arrived in his whale-boat to help.

When the Minota first struck, there was not a canoe in sight; but
like vultures circling down out of the blue, canoes began to arrive
from every quarter. The boat's crew, with rifles at the ready, kept
them lined up a hundred feet away with a promise of death if they
ventured nearer. And there they clung, a hundred feet away, black
and ominous, crowded with men, holding their canoes with their
paddles on the perilous edge of the breaking surf. In the meantime
the bushmen were flocking down from the hills armed with spears,
Sniders, arrows, and clubs, until the beach was massed with them.
To complicate matters, at least ten of our recruits had been
enlisted from the very bushmen ashore who were waiting hungrily for
the loot of the tobacco and trade goods and all that we had on

The Minota was honestly built, which is the first essential for any
boat that is pounding on a reef. Some idea of what she endured may
be gained from the fact that in the first twenty-four hours she
parted two anchor-chains and eight hawsers. Our boat's crew was
kept busy diving for the anchors and bending new lines. There were
times when she parted the chains reinforced with hawsers. And yet
she held together. Tree trunks were brought from ashore and worked
under her to save her keel and bilges, but the trunks were gnawed
and splintered and the ropes that held them frayed to fragments, and
still she pounded and held together. But we were luckier than the
Ivanhoe, a big recruiting schooner, which had gone ashore on Malaita
several months previously and been promptly rushed by the natives.
The captain and crew succeeded in getting away in the whale-boats,
and the bushmen and salt-water men looted her clean of everything

Squall after squall, driving wind and blinding rain, smote the
Minota, while a heavier sea was making. The Eugenie lay at anchor
five miles to windward, but she was behind a point of land and could
not know of our mishap. At Captain Jansen's suggestion, I wrote a
note to Captain Keller, asking him to bring extra anchors and gear
to our aid. But not a canoe could be persuaded to carry the letter.
I offered half a case of tobacco, but the blacks grinned and held
their canoes bow-on to the breaking seas. A half a case of tobacco
was worth three pounds. In two hours, even against the strong wind
and sea, a man could have carried the letter and received in payment
what he would have laboured half a year for on a plantation. I
managed to get into a canoe and paddle out to where Mr. Caulfeild
was running an anchor with his whale-boat. My idea was that he
would have more influence over the natives. He called the canoes up
to him, and a score of them clustered around and heard the offer of
half a case of tobacco. No one spoke.

"I know what you think," the missionary called out to them. "You
think plenty tobacco on the schooner and you're going to get it. I
tell you plenty rifles on schooner. You no get tobacco, you get

At last, one man, alone in a small canoe, took the letter and
started. Waiting for relief, work went on steadily on the Minota.
Her water-tanks were emptied, and spars, sails, and ballast started
shoreward. There were lively times on board when the Minota rolled
one bilge down and then the other, a score of men leaping for life
and legs as the trade-boxes, booms, and eighty-pound pigs of iron
ballast rushed across from rail to rail and back again. The poor
pretty harbour yacht! Her decks and running rigging were a raffle.
Down below everything was disrupted. The cabin floor had been torn
up to get at the ballast, and rusty bilge-water swashed and
splashed. A bushel of limes, in a mess of flour and water, charged
about like so many sticky dumplings escaped from a half-cooked stew.
In the inner cabin, Nakata kept guard over our rifles and

Three hours from the time our messenger started, a whale-boat,
pressing along under a huge spread of canvas, broke through the
thick of a shrieking squall to windward. It was Captain Keller, wet
with rain and spray, a revolver in belt, his boat's crew fully
armed, anchors and hawsers heaped high amidships, coming as fast as
wind could drive--the white man, the inevitable white man, coming to
a white man's rescue.

The vulture line of canoes that had waited so long broke and
disappeared as quickly as it had formed. The corpse was not dead
after all. We now had three whale-boats, two plying steadily
between the vessel and shore, the other kept busy running out
anchors, rebending parted hawsers, and recovering the lost anchors.
Later in the afternoon, after a consultation, in which we took into
consideration that a number of our boat's crew, as well as ten of
the recruits, belonged to this place, we disarmed the boat's crew.
This, incidently, gave them both hands free to work for the vessel.
The rifles were put in the charge of five of Mr. Caulfeild's mission
boys. And down below in the wreck of the cabin the missionary and
his converts prayed to God to save the Minota. It was an impressive
scene! the unarmed man of God praying with cloudless faith, his
savage followers leaning on their rifles and mumbling amens. The
cabin walls reeled about them. The vessel lifted and smashed upon
the coral with every sea. From on deck came the shouts of men
heaving and toiling, praying, in another fashion, with purposeful
will and strength of arm.

That night Mr. Caulfeild brought off a warning. One of our recruits
had a price on his head of fifty fathoms of shell-money and forty
pigs. Baffled in their desire to capture the vessel, the bushmen
decided to get the head of the man. When killing begins, there is
no telling where it will end, so Captain Jansen armed a whale-boat
and rowed in to the edge of the beach. Ugi, one of his boat's crew,
stood up and orated for him. Ugi was excited. Captain Jansen's
warning that any canoe sighted that night would be pumped full of
lead, Ugi turned into a bellicose declaration of war, which wound up
with a peroration somewhat to the following effect: "You kill my
captain, I drink his blood and die with him!"

The bushmen contented themselves with burning an unoccupied mission
house, and sneaked back to the bush. The next day the Eugenie
sailed in and dropped anchor. Three days and two nights the Minota
pounded on the reef; but she held together, and the shell of her was
pulled off at last and anchored in smooth water. There we said
good-bye to her and all on board, and sailed away on the Eugenie,
bound for Florida Island. {1}


Given a number of white traders, a wide area of land, and scores of
savage languages and dialects, the result will be that the traders
will manufacture a totally new, unscientific, but perfectly
adequate, language. This the traders did when they invented the
Chinook lingo for use over British Columbia, Alaska, and the
Northwest Territory. So with the lingo of the Kroo-boys of Africa,
the pigeon English of the Far East, and the beche de mer of the
westerly portion of the South Seas. This latter is often called
pigeon English, but pigeon English it certainly is not. To show how
totally different it is, mention need be made only of the fact that
the classic piecee of China has no place in it.

There was once a sea captain who needed a dusky potentate down in
his cabin. The potentate was on deck. The captain's command to the
Chinese steward was "Hey, boy, you go top-side catchee one piecee
king." Had the steward been a New Hibridean or a Solomon islander,
the command would have been: "Hey, you fella boy, go look 'm eye
belong you along deck, bring 'm me fella one big fella marster
belong black man."

It was the first white men who ventured through Melanesia after the
early explorers, who developed beche de mer English--men such as the
beche de mer fishermen, the sandalwood traders, the pearl hunters,
and the labour recruiters. In the Solomons, for instance, scores of
languages and dialects are spoken. Unhappy the trader who tried to
learn them all; for in the next group to which he might wander he
would find scores of additional tongues. A common language was
necessary--a language so simple that a child could learn it, with a
vocabulary as limited as the intelligence of the savages upon whom
it was to be used. The traders did not reason this out. Beche do
mer English was the product of conditions and circumstances.
Function precedes organ; and the need for a universal Melanesian
lingo preceded beche de mer English. Beche de mer was purely
fortuitous, but it was fortuitous in the deterministic way. Also,
from the fact that out of the need the lingo arose, beche de mer
English is a splendid argument for the Esperanto enthusiasts.

A limited vocabulary means that each word shall be overworked.
Thus, fella, in beche de mer, means all that piecee does and quite a
bit more, and is used continually in every possible connection.
Another overworked word is belong. Nothing stands alone.
Everything is related. The thing desired is indicated by its
relationship with other things. A primitive vocabulary means
primitive expression, thus, the continuance of rain is expressed as
rain he stop. SUN HE COME UP cannot possibly be misunderstood,
while the phrase-structure itself can be used without mental
exertion in ten thousand different ways, as, for instance, a native
who desires to tell you that there are fish in the water and who
says FISH HE STOP. It was while trading on Ysabel island that I
learned the excellence of this usage. I wanted two or three pairs
of the large clam-shells (measuring three feet across), but I did
not want the meat inside. Also, I wanted the meat of some of the
smaller clams to make a chowder. My instruction to the natives
finally ripened into the following "You fella bring me fella big
fella clam--kai-kai he no stop, he walk about. You fella bring me
fella small fella clam--kai-kai he stop."

Kai-kai is the Polynesian for food, meat, eating, and to eat: but
it would be hard to say whether it was introduced into Melanesia by
the sandalwood traders or by the Polynesian westward drift. Walk
about is a quaint phrase. Thus, if one orders a Solomon sailor to
put a tackle on a boom, he will suggest, "That fella boom he walk
about too much." And if the said sailor asks for shore liberty, he
will state that it is his desire to walk about. Or if said sailor
be seasick, he will explain his condition by stating, "Belly belong
me walk about too much."

Too much, by the way, does not indicate anything excessive. It is
merely the simple superlative. Thus, if a native is asked the
distance to a certain village, his answer will be one of these four:
"Close-up"; "long way little bit"; "long way big bit"; or "long way
too much." Long way too much does not mean that one cannot walk to
the village; it means that he will have to walk farther than if the
village were a long way big bit.

Gammon is to lie, to exaggerate, to joke. Mary is a woman. Any
woman is a Mary. All women are Marys. Doubtlessly the first dim
white adventurer whimsically called a native woman Mary, and of
similar birth must have been many other words in beche de mer. The
white men were all seamen, and so capsize and sing out were
introduced into the lingo. One would not tell a Melanesian cook to
empty the dish-water, but he would tell him to capsize it. To sing
out is to cry loudly, to call out, or merely to speak. Sing-sing is
a song. The native Christian does not think of God calling for Adam
in the Garden of Eden; in the native's mind, God sings out for Adam.

Savvee or catchee are practically the only words which have been
introduced straight from pigeon English. Of course, pickaninny has
happened along, but some of its uses are delicious. Having bought a
fowl from a native in a canoe, the native asked me if I wanted
"Pickaninny stop along him fella." It was not until he showed me a
handful of hen's eggs that I understood his meaning. My word, as an
exclamation with a thousand significances, could have arrived from
nowhere else than Old England. A paddle, a sweep, or an oar, is
called washee, and washee is also the verb.

Here is a letter, dictated by one Peter, a native trader at Santa
Anna, and addressed to his employer. Harry, the schooner captain,
started to write the letter, but was stopped by Peter at the end of
the second sentence. Thereafter the letter runs in Peter's own
words, for Peter was afraid that Harry gammoned too much, and he
wanted the straight story of his needs to go to headquarters.


"Trader Peter has worked 12 months for your firm and has not
received any pay yet. He hereby wants 12 pounds." (At this point
Peter began dictation). "Harry he gammon along him all the time
too much. I like him 6 tin biscuit, 4 bag rice, 24 tin bullamacow.
Me like him 2 rifle, me savvee look out along boat, some place me go
man he no good, he kai-kai along me.


Bullamacow means tinned beef. This word was corrupted from the
English language by the Samoans, and from them learned by the
traders, who carried it along with them into Melanesia. Captain
Cook and the other early navigators made a practice of introducing
seeds, plants, and domestic animals amongst the natives. It was at
Samoa that one such navigator landed a bull and a cow. "This is a
bull and cow," said he to the Samoans. They thought he was giving
the name of the breed, and from that day to this, beef on the hoof
and beef in the tin is called bullamacow.

A Solomon islander cannot say FENCE, so, in beche de mer, it becomes
fennis; store is sittore, and box is bokkis. Just now the fashion
in chests, which are known as boxes, is to have a bell-arrangement
on the lock so that the box cannot be opened without sounding an
alarm. A box so equipped is not spoken of as a mere box, but as the
bokkis belong bell.

FRIGHT is the beche de mer for fear. If a native appears timid and
one asks him the cause, he is liable to hear in reply: "Me fright
along you too much." Or the native may be fright along storm, or
wild bush, or haunted places. CROSS covers every form of anger. A
man may be cross at one when he is feeling only petulant; or he may
be cross when he is seeking to chop off your head and make a stew
out of you. A recruit, after having toiled three years on a
plantation, was returned to his own village on Malaita. He was clad
in all kinds of gay and sportive garments. On his head was a top-
hat. He possessed a trade-box full of calico, beads, porpoise-
teeth, and tobacco. Hardly was the anchor down, when the villagers
were on board. The recruit looked anxiously for his own relatives,
but none was to be seen. One of the natives took the pipe out of
his mouth. Another confiscated the strings of beads from around his
neck. A third relieved him of his gaudy loin-cloth, and a fourth
tried on the top-hat and omitted to return it. Finally, one of them
took his trade-box, which represented three years' toil, and dropped
it into a canoe alongside. "That fella belong you?" the captain
asked the recruit, referring to the thief. "No belong me," was the
answer. "Then why in Jericho do you let him take the box?" the
captain demanded indignantly. Quoth the recruit, "Me speak along
him, say bokkis he stop, that fella he cross along me"--which was
the recruit's way of saying that the other man would murder him.
God's wrath, when He sent the Flood, was merely a case of being
cross along mankind.

What name? is the great interrogation of beche de mer. It all
depends on how it is uttered. It may mean: What is your business?
What do you mean by this outrageous conduct? What do you want?
What is the thing you are after? You had best watch out; I demand
an explanation; and a few hundred other things. Call a native out
of his house in the middle of the night, and he is likely to demand,
"What name you sing out along me?"

Imagine the predicament of the Germans on the plantations of
Bougainville Island, who are compelled to learn beche de mer English
in order to handle the native labourers. It is to them an
unscientific polyglot, and there are no text-books by which to study
it. It is a source of unholy delight to the other white planters
and traders to hear the German wrestling stolidly with the
circumlocutions and short-cuts of a language that has no grammar and
no dictionary.

Some years ago large numbers of Solomon islanders were recruited to
labour on the sugar plantations of Queensland. A missionary urged
one of the labourers, who was a convert, to get up and preach a
sermon to a shipload of Solomon islanders who had just arrived. He
chose for his subject the Fall of Man, and the address he gave
became a classic in all Australasia. It proceeded somewhat in the
following manner:

"Altogether you boy belong Solomons you no savvee white man. Me
fella me savvee him. Me fella me savvee talk along white man.

"Before long time altogether no place he stop. God big fella
marster belong white man, him fella He make 'm altogether. God big
fella marster belong white man, He make 'm big fella garden. He
good fella too much. Along garden plenty yam he stop, plenty
cocoanut, plenty taro, plenty kumara (sweet potatoes), altogether
good fella kai-kai too much.

"Bimeby God big fella marster belong white man He make 'm one fella
man and put 'm along garden belong Him. He call 'm this fella man
Adam. He name belong him. He put him this fella man Adam along
garden, and He speak, 'This fella garden he belong you.' And He
look 'm this fella Adam he walk about too much. Him fella Adam all
the same sick; he no savvee kai-kai; he walk about all the time.
And God He no savvee. God big fella marster belong white man, He
scratch 'm head belong Him. God say: 'What name? Me no savvee
what name this fella Adam he want.'

"Bimeby God He scratch 'm head belong Him too much, and speak: 'Me
fella me savvee, him fella Adam him want 'm Mary.' So He make Adam
he go asleep, He take one fella bone belong him, and He make 'm one
fella Mary along bone. He call him this fella Mary, Eve. He give
'm this fella Eve along Adam, and He speak along him fella Adam:
'Close up altogether along this fella garden belong you two fella.
One fella tree he tambo (taboo) along you altogether. This fella
tree belong apple.'

"So Adam Eve two fella stop along garden, and they two fella have 'm
good time too much. Bimeby, one day, Eve she come along Adam, and
she speak, 'More good you me two fella we eat 'm this fella apple.'
Adam he speak, 'No,' and Eve she speak, 'What name you no like 'm
me?' And Adam he speak, 'Me like 'm you too much, but me fright
along God.' And Eve she speak, 'Gammon! What name? God He no
savvee look along us two fella all 'm time. God big fella marster,
He gammon along you.' But Adam he speak, 'No.' But Eve she talk,
talk, talk, allee time--allee same Mary she talk along boy along
Queensland and make 'm trouble along boy. And bimeby Adam he tired
too much, and he speak, 'All right.' So these two fella they go eat
'm. When they finish eat 'm, my word, they fright like hell, and
they go hide along scrub.

"And God He come walk about along garden, and He sing out, 'Adam!'
Adam he no speak. He too much fright. My word! And God He sing
out, 'Adam!' And Adam he speak, 'You call 'm me?' God He speak,
'Me call 'm you too much.' Adam he speak, 'Me sleep strong fella
too much.' And God He speak, 'You been eat 'm this fella apple.'
Adam he speak, 'No, me no been eat 'm.' God He speak. 'What name
you gammon along me? You been eat 'm.' And Adam he speak, 'Yes, me
been eat 'm.'

"And God big fella marster He cross along Adam Eve two fella too
much, and He speak, 'You two fella finish along me altogether. You
go catch 'm bokkis (box) belong you, and get to hell along scrub.'

"So Adam Eve these two fella go along scrub. And God He make 'm one
big fennis (fence) all around garden and He put 'm one fella marster
belong God along fennis. And He give this fella marster belong God
one big fella musket, and He speak, 'S'pose you look 'm these two
fella Adam Eve, you shoot 'm plenty too much.'"


When we sailed from San Francisco on the Snark I knew as much about
sickness as the Admiral of the Swiss Navy knows about salt water.
And here, at the start, let me advise any one who meditates going to
out-of-the-way tropic places. Go to a first-class druggist--the
sort that have specialists on their salary list who know everything.
Talk the matter over with such an one. Note carefully all that he
says. Have a list made of all that he recommends. Write out a
cheque for the total cost, and tear it up.

I wish I had done the same. I should have been far wiser, I know
now, if I had bought one of those ready-made, self-acting, fool-
proof medicine chests such as are favoured by fourth-rate ship-
masters. In such a chest each bottle has a number. On the inside
of the lid is placed a simple table of directions: No. 1,
toothache; No. 2, smallpox; No. 3, stomachache; No. 4, cholera; No.
5, rheumatism; and so on, through the list of human ills. And I
might have used it as did a certain venerable skipper, who, when No.
3 was empty, mixed a dose from No. 1 and No. 2, or, when No. 7 was
all gone, dosed his crew with 4 and 3 till 3 gave out, when he used
5 and 2.

So far, with the exception of corrosive sublimate (which was
recommended as an antiseptic in surgical operations, and which I
have not yet used for that purpose), my medicine-chest has been
useless. It has been worse than useless, for it has occupied much
space which I could have used to advantage.

With my surgical instruments it is different. While I have not yet
had serious use for them, I do not regret the space they occupy.
The thought of them makes me feel good. They are so much life
insurance, only, fairer than that last grim game, one is not
supposed to die in order to win. Of course, I don't know how to use
them, and what I don't know about surgery would set up a dozen
quacks in prosperous practice. But needs must when the devil
drives, and we of the Snark have no warning when the devil may take
it into his head to drive, ay, even a thousand miles from land and
twenty days from the nearest port.

I did not know anything about dentistry, but a friend fitted me out
with forceps and similar weapons, and in Honolulu I picked up a book
upon teeth. Also, in that sub-tropical city I managed to get hold
of a skull, from which I extracted the teeth swiftly and painlessly.
Thus equipped, I was ready, though not exactly eager, to tackle any
tooth that get in my way. It was in Nuku-hiva, in the Marquesas,
that my first case presented itself in the shape of a little, old
Chinese. The first thing I did was to got the buck fever, and I
leave it to any fair-minded person if buck fever, with its attendant
heart-palpitations and arm-tremblings, is the right condition for a
man to be in who is endeavouring to pose as an old hand at the
business. I did not fool the aged Chinaman. He was as frightened
as I and a bit more shaky. I almost forgot to be frightened in the
fear that he would bolt. I swear, if he had tried to, that I would
have tripped him up and sat on him until calmness and reason

I wanted that tooth. Also, Martin wanted a snap-shot of me getting
it. Likewise Charmian got her camera. Then the procession started.
We were stopping at what had been the club-house when Stevenson was
in the Marquesas on the Casco. On the veranda, where he had passed
so many pleasant hours, the light was not good--for snapshots, I
mean. I led on into the garden, a chair in one hand, the other hand
filled with forceps of various sorts, my knees knocking together
disgracefully. The poor old Chinaman came second, and he was
shaking, too. Charmian and Martin brought up the rear, armed with
kodaks. We dived under the avocado trees, threaded our way through
the cocoanut palms, and came on a spot that satisfied Martin's
photographic eye.

I looked at the tooth, and then discovered that I could not remember
anything about the teeth I had pulled from the skull five months
previously. Did it have one prong? two prongs? or three prongs?
What was left of the part that showed appeared very crumbly, and I
knew that I should have take hold of the tooth deep down in the gum.
It was very necessary that I should know how many prongs that tooth
had. Back to the house I went for the book on teeth. The poor old
victim looked like photographs I had seen of fellow-countrymen of
his, criminals, on their knees, waiting the stroke of the beheading

"Don't let him get away," I cautioned to Martin. "I want that

"I sure won't," he replied with enthusiasm, from behind his camera.
"I want that photograph."

For the first time I felt sorry for the Chinaman. Though the book
did not tell me anything about pulling teeth, it was all right, for
on one page I found drawings of all the teeth, including their
prongs and how they were set in the jaw. Then came the pursuit of
the forceps. I had seven pairs, but was in doubt as to which pair I
should use. I did not want any mistake. As I turned the hardware
over with rattle and clang, the poor victim began to lose his grip
and to turn a greenish yellow around the gills. He complained about
the sun, but that was necessary for the photograph, and he had to
stand it. I fitted the forceps around the tooth, and the patient
shivered and began to wilt.

"Ready?" I called to Martin.

"All ready," he answered.

I gave a pull. Ye gods! The tooth, was loose! Out it came on the
instant. I was jubilant as I held it aloft in the forceps.

"Put it back, please, oh, put it back," Martin pleaded. "You were
too quick for me."

And the poor old Chinaman sat there while I put the tooth back and
pulled over. Martin snapped the camera. The deed was done.
Elation? Pride? No hunter was ever prouder of his first pronged
buck than I was of that tree-pronged tooth. I did it! I did it!
With my of own hands and a pair of forceps I did it, to say nothing
of the forgotten memories of the dead man's skull.

My next case was a Tahitian sailor. He was a small man, in a state
of collapse from long days and nights of jumping toothache. I
lanced the gums first. I didn't know how to lance them, but I
lanced them just the same. It was a long pull and a strong pull.
The man was a hero. He groaned and moaned, and I thought he was
going to faint. But he kept his mouth open and let me pull. And
then it came.

After that I was ready to meet all comers--just the proper state of
mind for a Waterloo. And it came. Its name was Tomi. He was a
strapping giant of a heathen with a bad reputation. He was addicted
to deeds of violence. Among other things he had beaten two of his
wives to death with his fists. His father and mother had been naked
cannibals. When he sat down and I put the forceps into his mouth,
he was nearly as tall as I was standing up. Big men, prone to
violence, very often have a streak of fat in their make-up, so I was
doubtful of him. Charmian grabbed one arm and Warren grabbed the
other. Then the tug of war began. The instant the forceps closed
down on the tooth, his jaws closed down on the forceps. Also, both
his hands flew up and gripped my pulling hand. I held on, and he
held on. Charmian and Warren held on. We wrestled all about the

It was three against one, and my hold on an aching tooth was
certainly a foul one; but in spite of the handicap he got away with
us. The forceps slipped off, banging and grinding along against his
upper teeth with a nerve-scraping sound. Out of his month flew the
forceps, and he rose up in the air with a blood-curdling yell. The
three of us fell back. We expected to be massacred. But that
howling savage of sanguinary reputation sank back in the chair. He
held his head in both his hands, and groaned and groaned and
groaned. Nor would he listen to reason. I was a quack. My
painless tooth-extraction was a delusion and a snare and a low
advertising dodge. I was so anxious to get that tooth that I was
almost ready to bribe him. But that went against my professional
pride and I let him depart with the tooth still intact, the only
case on record up to date of failure on my part when once I had got
a grip. Since then I have never let a tooth go by me. Only the
other day I volunteered to beat up three days to windward to pull a
woman missionary's tooth. I expect, before the voyage of the Snark
is finished, to be doing bridge work and putting on gold crowns.

I don't know whether they are yaws or not--a physician in Fiji told
me they were, and a missionary in the Solomons told me they were
not; but at any rate I can vouch for the fact that they are most
uncomfortable. It was my luck to ship in Tahiti a French-sailor,
who, when we got to sea, proved to be afflicted with a vile skin
disease. The Snark was too small and too much of a family party to
permit retaining him on board; but perforce, until we could reach
land and discharge him, it was up to me to doctor him. I read up
the books and proceeded to treat him, taking care afterwards always
to use a thorough antiseptic wash. When we reached Tutuila, far
from getting rid of him, the port doctor declared a quarantine
against him and refused to allow him ashore. But at Apia, Samoa, I
managed to ship him off on a steamer to New Zealand. Here at Apia
my ankles were badly bitten by mosquitoes, and I confess to having
scratched the bites--as I had a thousand times before. By the time
I reached the island of Savaii, a small sore had developed on the
hollow of my instep. I thought it was due to chafe and to acid
fumes from the hot lava over which I tramped. An application of
salve would cure it--so I thought. The salve did heal it over,
whereupon an astonishing inflammation set in, the new skin came off,
and a larger sore was exposed. This was repeated many times. Each
time new skin formed, an inflammation followed, and the
circumference of the sore increased. I was puzzled and frightened.
All my life my skin had been famous for its healing powers, yet here
was something that would not heal. Instead, it was daily eating up
more skin, while it had eaten down clear through the skin and was
eating up the muscle itself.

By this time the Snark was at sea on her way to Fiji. I remembered
the French sailor, and for the first time became seriously alarmed.
Four other similar sores had appeared--or ulcers, rather, and the
pain of them kept me awake at night. All my plans were made to lay
up the Snark in Fiji and get away on the first steamer to Australia
and professional M.D.'s. In the meantime, in my amateur M.D. way, I
did my best. I read through all the medical works on board. Not a
line nor a word could I find descriptive of my affliction. I
brought common horse-sense to bear on the problem. Here were
malignant and excessively active ulcers that were eating me up.
There was an organic and corroding poison at work. Two things I
concluded must be done. First, some agent must be found to destroy
the poison. Secondly, the ulcers could not possibly heal from the
outside in; they must heal from the inside out. I decided to fight
the poison with corrosive sublimate. The very name of it struck me
as vicious. Talk of fighting fire with fire! I was being consumed
by a corrosive poison, and it appealed to my fancy to fight it with
another corrosive poison. After several days I alternated dressings
of corrosive sublimate with dressings of peroxide of hydrogen. And
behold, by the time we reached Fiji four of the five ulcers were
healed, while the remaining one was no bigger than a pea.

I now felt fully qualified to treat yaws. Likewise I had a
wholesome respect for them. Not so the rest of the crew of the
Snark. In their case, seeing was not believing. One and all, they
had seen my dreadful predicament; and all of them, I am convinced,
had a subconscious certitude that their own superb constitutions and
glorious personalities would never allow lodgment of so vile a
poison in their carcasses as my anaemic constitution and mediocre
personality had allowed to lodge in mine. At Port Resolution, in
the New Hebrides, Martin elected to walk barefooted in the bush and
returned on board with many cuts and abrasions, especially on his

"You'd better be careful," I warned him. "I'll mix up some
corrosive sublimate for you to wash those cuts with. An ounce of
prevention, you know."

But Martin smiled a superior smile. Though he did not say so. I
nevertheless was given to understand that he was not as other men (I
was the only man he could possibly have had reference to), and that
in a couple of days his cuts would be healed. He also read me a
dissertation upon the peculiar purity of his blood and his
remarkable healing powers. I felt quite humble when he was done
with me. Evidently I was different from other men in so far as
purity of blood was concerned.

Nakata, the cabin-boy, while ironing one day, mistook the calf of
his leg for the ironing-block and accumulated a burn three inches in
length and half an inch wide. He, too, smiled the superior smile
when I offered him corrosive sublimate and reminded him of my own
cruel experience. I was given to understand, with all due suavity
and courtesy, that no matter what was the matter with my blood, his
number-one, Japanese, Port-Arthur blood was all right and scornful
of the festive microbe.

Wada, the cook, took part in a disastrous landing of the launch,
when he had to leap overboard and fend the launch off the beach in a
smashing surf. By means of shells and coral he cut his legs and
feet up beautifully. I offered him the corrosive sublimate bottle.
Once again I suffered the superior smile and was given to understand
that his blood was the same blood that had licked Russia and was
going to lick the United States some day, and that if his blood
wasn't able to cure a few trifling cuts, he'd commit hari-kari in
sheer disgrace.

From all of which I concluded that an amateur M.D. is without honour
on his own vessel, even if he has cured himself. The rest of the
crew had begun to look upon me as a sort of mild mono-maniac on the
question of sores and sublimate. Just because my blood was impure
was no reason that I should think everybody else's was. I made no
more overtures. Time and microbes were with me, and all I had to do
was wait.

"I think there's some dirt in these cuts," Martin said tentatively,
after several days. "I'll wash them out and then they'll be all
right," he added, after I had refused to rise to the bait.

Two more days passed, but the cuts did not pass, and I caught Martin
soaking his feet and legs in a pail of hot water.

"Nothing like hot water," he proclaimed enthusiastically. "It beats
all the dope the doctors ever put up. These sores will be all right
in the morning."

But in the morning he wore a troubled look, and I knew that the hour
of my triumph approached.

"I think I WILL try some of that medicine," he announced later on in
the day. "Not that I think it'll do much good," he qualified, "but
I'll just give it a try anyway."

Next came the proud blood of Japan to beg medicine for its
illustrious sores, while I heaped coals of fire on all their houses
by explaining in minute and sympathetic detail the treatment that
should be given. Nakata followed instructions implicitly, and day
by day his sores grew smaller. Wada was apathetic, and cured less
readily. But Martin still doubted, and because he did not cure
immediately, he developed the theory that while doctor's dope was
all right, it did not follow that the same kind of dope was
efficacious with everybody. As for himself, corrosive sublimate had
no effect. Besides, how did I know that it was the right stuff? I
had had no experience. Just because I happened to get well while
using it was not proof that it had played any part in the cure.
There were such things as coincidences. Without doubt there was a
dope that would cure the sores, and when he ran across a real doctor
he would find what that dope was and get some of it.

About this time we arrived in the Solomon Islands. No physician
would ever recommend the group for invalids or sanitoriums. I spent
but little time there ere I really and for the first time in my life
comprehended how frail and unstable is human tissue. Our first
anchorage was Port Mary, on the island of Santa Anna. The one lone
white man, a trader, came alongside. Tom Butler was his name, and
he was a beautiful example of what the Solomons can do to a strong
man. He lay in his whale-boat with the helplessness of a dying man.
No smile and little intelligence illumined his face. He was a
sombre death's-head, too far gone to grin. He, too, had yaws, big
ones. We were compelled to drag him over the rail of the Snark. He
said that his health was good, that he had not had the fever for
some time, and that with the exception of his arm he was all right
and trim. His arm appeared to be paralysed. Paralysis he rejected
with scorn. He had had it before, and recovered. It was a common
native disease on Santa Anna, he said, as he was helped down the
companion ladder, his dead arm dropping, bump-bump, from step to
step. He was certainly the ghastliest guest we ever entertained,
and we've had not a few lepers and elephantiasis victims on board.

Martin inquired about yaws, for here was a man who ought to know.
He certainly did know, if we could judge by his scarred arms and
legs and by the live ulcers that corroded in the midst of the scars.
Oh, one got used to yaws, quoth Tom Butler. They were never really
serious until they had eaten deep into the flesh. Then they
attacked the walls of the arteries, the arteries burst, and there
was a funeral. Several of the natives had recently died that way
ashore. But what did it matter? If it wasn't yaws, it was
something else in the Solomons.

I noticed that from this moment Martin displayed a swiftly
increasing interest in his own yaws. Dosings with corrosive
sublimate were more frequent, while, in conversation, he began to
revert with growing enthusiasm to the clean climate of Kansas and
all other things Kansan. Charmian and I thought that California was
a little bit of all right. Henry swore by Rapa, and Tehei staked
all on Bora Bora for his own blood's sake; while Wada and Nakata
sang the sanitary paean of Japan.

One evening, as the Snark worked around the southern end of the
island of Ugi, looking for a reputed anchorage, a Church of England
missionary, a Mr. Drew, bound in his whaleboat for the coast of San
Cristoval, came alongside and stopped for dinner. Martin, his legs
swathed in Red Cross bandages till they looked like a mummy's,
turned the conversation upon yaws. Yes, said Mr. Drew, they were
quite common in the Solomons. All white men caught them.

"And have you had them?" Martin demanded, in the soul of him quite
shocked that a Church of England missionary could possess so vulgar
an affliction.

Mr. Drew nodded his head and added that not only had he had them,
but at that moment he was doctoring several.

"What do you use on them?" Martin asked like a flash.

My heart almost stood still waiting the answer. By that answer my
professional medical prestige stood or fell. Martin, I could see,
was quite sure it was going to fall. And then the answer--O blessed

"Corrosive sublimate," said Mr. Drew.

Martin gave in handsomely, I'll admit, and I am confident that at
that moment, if I had asked permission to pull one of his teeth, he
would not have denied me.

All white men in the Solomons catch yaws, and every cut or abrasion
practically means another yaw. Every man I met had had them, and
nine out of ten had active ones. There was but one exception, a
young fellow who had been in the islands five months, who had come
down with fever ten days after he arrived, and who had since then
been down so often with fever that he had had neither time nor
opportunity for yaws.

Every one on the Snark except Charmian came down with yaws. Hers
was the same egotism that Japan and Kansas had displayed. She
ascribed her immunity to the pureness of her blood, and as the days
went by she ascribed it more often and more loudly to the pureness
of her blood. Privately I ascribed her immunity to the fact that,
being a woman, she escaped most of the cuts and abrasions to which
we hard-working men were subject in the course of working the Snark
around the world. I did not tell her so. You see, I did not wish
to bruise her ego with brutal facts. Being an M.D., if only an
amateur one, I knew more about the disease than she, and I knew that
time was my ally. But alas, I abused my ally when it dealt a
charming little yaw on the shin. So quickly did I apply antiseptic
treatment, that the yaw was cured before she was convinced that she
had one. Again, as an M.D., I was without honour on my own vessel;
and, worse than that, I was charged with having tried to mislead her
into the belief that she had had a yaw. The pureness of her blood
was more rampant than ever, and I poked my nose into my navigation
books and kept quiet. And then came the day. We were cruising
along the coast of Malaita at the time.

"What's that abaft your ankle-bone?" said I.

"Nothing," said she.

"All right," said I; "but put some corrosive sublimate on it just
the same. And some two or three weeks from now, when it is well and
you have a scar that you will carry to your grave, just forget about
the purity of your blood and your ancestral history and tell me what
you think about yaws anyway."

It was as large as a silver dollar, that yaw, and it took all of
three weeks to heal. There were times when Charmian could not walk
because of the hurt of it; and there were times upon times when she
explained that abaft the ankle-bone was the most painful place to
have a yaw. I explained, in turn, that, never having experienced a
yaw in that locality, I was driven to conclude the hollow of the
instep was the most painful place for yaw-culture. We left it to
Martin, who disagreed with both of us and proclaimed passionately
that the only truly painful place was the shin. No wonder horse-
racing is so popular.

But yaws lose their novelty after a time. At the present moment of
writing I have five yaws on my hands and three more on my shin.
Charmian has one on each side of her right instep. Tehei is frantic
with his. Martin's latest shin-cultures have eclipsed his earlier
ones. And Nakata has several score casually eating away at his
tissue. But the history of the Snark in the Solomons has been the
history of every ship since the early discoverers. From the
"Sailing Directions" I quote the following:

"The crews of vessels remaining any considerable time in the
Solomons find wounds and sores liable to change into malignant

Nor on the question of fever were the "Sailing Directions" any more
encouraging, for in them I read:

"New arrivals are almost certain sooner or later to suffer from
fever. The natives are also subject to it. The number of deaths
among the whites in the year 1897 amounted to 9 among a population
of 50."

Some of these deaths, however, were accidental.

Nakata was the first to come down with fever. This occurred at
Penduffryn. Wada and Henry followed him. Charmian surrendered
next. I managed to escape for a couple of months; but when I was
bowled over, Martin sympathetically joined me several days later.
Out of the seven of us all told Tehei is the only one who has
escaped; but his sufferings from nostalgia are worse than fever.
Nakata, as usual, followed instructions faithfully, so that by the
end of his third attack he could take a two hours' sweat, consume
thirty or forty grains of quinine, and be weak but all right at the
end of twenty-four hours.

Wada and Henry, however, were tougher patients with which to deal.
In the first place, Wada got in a bad funk. He was of the firm
conviction that his star had set and that the Solomons would receive
his bones. He saw that life about him was cheap. At Penduffryn he
saw the ravages of dysentery, and, unfortunately for him, he saw one
victim carried out on a strip of galvanized sheet-iron and dumped
without coffin or funeral into a hole in the ground. Everybody had
fever, everybody had dysentery, everybody had everything. Death was
common. Here to-day and gone to-morrow--and Wada forgot all about
to-day and made up his mind that to-morrow had come.

He was careless of his ulcers, neglected to sublimate them, and by
uncontrolled scratching spread them all over his body. Nor would he
follow instructions with fever, and, as a result, would be down five
days at a time, when a day would have been sufficient. Henry, who
is a strapping giant of a man, was just as bad. He refused point
blank to take quinine, on the ground that years before he had had
fever and that the pills the doctor gave him were of different size
and colour from the quinine tablets I offered him. So Henry joined

But I fooled the pair of them, and dosed them with their own
medicine, which was faith-cure. They had faith in their funk that
they were going to die. I slammed a lot of quinine down their
throats and took their temperature. It was the first time I had
used my medicine-chest thermometer, and I quickly discovered that it
was worthless, that it had been produced for profit and not for
service. If I had let on to my two patients that the thermometer
did not work, there would have been two funerals in short order.
Their temperature I swear was 105 degrees. I solemnly made one and
then the other smoke the thermometer, allowed an expression of
satisfaction to irradiate my countenance, and joyfully told them
that their temperature was 94 degrees. Then I slammed more quinine
down their throats, told them that any sickness or weakness they
might experience would be due to the quinine, and left them to get
well. And they did get well, Wada in spite of himself. If a man
can die through a misapprehension, is there any immorality in making
him live through a misapprehension?

Commend me the white race when it comes to grit and surviving. One
of our two Japanese and both our Tahitians funked and had to be
slapped on the back and cheered up and dragged along by main
strength toward life. Charmian and Martin took their afflictions
cheerfully, made the least of them, and moved with calm certitude
along the way of life. When Wada and Henry were convinced that they
were going to die, the funeral atmosphere was too much for Tehei,
who prayed dolorously and cried for hours at a time. Martin, on the
other hand, cursed and got well, and Charmian groaned and made plans
for what she was going to do when she got well again.

Charmian had been raised a vegetarian and a sanitarian. Her Aunt
Netta, who brought her up and who lived in a healthful climate, did
not believe in drugs. Neither did Charmian. Besides, drugs
disagreed with her. Their effects were worse than the ills they
were supposed to alleviate. But she listened to the argument in
favour of quinine, accepted it as the lesser evil, and in
consequence had shorter, less painful, and less frequent attacks of
fever. We encountered a Mr. Caulfeild, a missionary, whose two
predecessors had died after less than six months' residence in the
Solomons. Like them he had been a firm believer in homeopathy,
until after his first fever, whereupon, unlike them, he made a grand
slide back to allopathy and quinine, catching fever and carrying on
his Gospel work.

But poor Wada! The straw that broke the cook's back was when
Charmian and I took him along on a cruise to the cannibal island of
Malaita, in a small yacht, on the deck of which the captain had been
murdered half a year before. Kai-kai means to eat, and Wada was
sure he was going to be kai-kai'd. We went about heavily armed, our
vigilance was unremitting, and when we went for a bath in the mouth
of a fresh-water stream, black boys, armed with rifles, did sentry
duty about us. We encountered English war vessels burning and
shelling villages in punishment for murders. Natives with prices on
their heads sought shelter on board of us. Murder stalked abroad in
the land. In out-of-they-way places we received warnings from
friendly savages of impending attacks. Our vessel owed two heads to
Malaita, which were liable to be collected any time. Then to cap it
all, we were wrecked on a reef, and with rifles in one hand warned
the canoes of wreckers off while with the other hand we toiled to
save the ship. All of which was too much for Wada, who went daffy,
and who finally quitted the Snark on the island of Ysabel, going
ashore for good in a driving rain-storm, between two attacks of
fever, while threatened with pneumonia. If he escapes being kai-
kai'd, and if he can survive sores and fever which are riotous
ashore, he can expect, if he is reasonably lucky, to get away from
that place to the adjacent island in anywhere from six to eight
weeks. He never did think much of my medicine, despite the fact
that I successfully and at the first trail pulled two aching teeth
for him.

The Snark has been a hospital for months, and I confess that we are
getting used to it. At Meringe Lagoon, where we careened and
cleaned the Snark's copper, there were times when only one man of us
was able to go into the water, while the three white men on the
plantation ashore were all down with fever. At the moment of
writing this we are lost at sea somewhere northeast of Ysabel and
trying vainly to find Lord Howe Island, which is an atoll that
cannot be sighted unless one is on top of it. The chronometer has
gone wrong. The sun does not shine anyway, nor can I get a star
observation at night, and we have had nothing but squalls and rain
for days and days. The cook is gone. Nakata, who has been trying
to be both cook and cabin boy, is down on his back with fever.
Martin is just up from fever, and going down again. Charmian, whose
fever has become periodical, is looking up in her date book to find
when the next attack will be. Henry has begun to eat quinine in an
expectant mood. And, since my attacks hit me with the suddenness of
bludgeon-blows I do not know from moment to moment when I shall be
brought down. By a mistake we gave our last flour away to some
white men who did not have any flour. We don't know when we'll make
land. Our Solomon sores are worse than ever, and more numerous.
The corrosive sublimate was accidentally left ashore at Penduffryn;
the peroxide of hydrogen is exhausted; and I am experimenting with
boracic acid, lysol, and antiphlogystine. At any rate, if I fail in
becoming a reputable M.D., it won't be from lack of practice.

P.S. It is now two weeks since the foregoing was written, and
Tehei, the only immune on board has been down ten days with far
severer fever than any of us and is still down. His temperature has
been repeatedly as high as 104, and his pulse 115.

P.S. At sea, between Tasman atoll and Manning Straits. Tehei's
attack developed into black water fever--the severest form of
malarial fever, which, the doctor-book assures me, is due to some
outside infection as well. Having pulled him through his fever, I
am now at my wit's end, for he has lost his wits altogether. I am
rather recent in practice to take up the cure of insanity. This
makes the second lunacy case on this short voyage.

P.S. Some day I shall write a book (for the profession), and
entitle it, "Around the World on the Hospital Ship Snark." Even our
pets have not escaped. We sailed from Meringe Lagoon with two, an
Irish terrier and a white cockatoo. The terrier fell down the cabin
companionway and lamed its nigh hind leg, then repeated the
manoeuvre and lamed its off fore leg. At the present moment it has
but two legs to walk on. Fortunately, they are on opposite sides
and ends, so that she can still dot and carry two. The cockatoo was
crushed under the cabin skylight and had to be killed. This was our
first funeral--though for that matter, the several chickens we had,
and which would have made welcome broth for the convalescents, flew
overboard and were drowned. Only the cockroaches flourish. Neither
illness nor accident ever befalls them, and they grow larger and
more carnivorous day by day, gnawing our finger-nails and toe-nails
while we sleep.

P.S. Charmian is having another bout with fever. Martin, in
despair, has taken to horse-doctoring his yaws with bluestone and to
blessing the Solomons. As for me, in addition to navigating,
doctoring, and writing short stories, I am far from well. With the
exception of the insanity cases, I'm the worst off on board. I
shall catch the next steamer to Australia and go on the operating
table. Among my minor afflictions, I may mention a new and
mysterious one. For the past week my hands have been swelling as
with dropsy. It is only by a painful effort that I can close them.
A pull on a rope is excruciating. The sensations are like those
that accompany severe chilblains. Also, the skin is peeling off
both hands at an alarming rate, besides which the new skin
underneath is growing hard and thick. The doctor-book fails to
mention this disease. Nobody knows what it is.

P.S. Well, anyway, I've cured the chronometer. After knocking
about the sea for eight squally, rainy days, most of the time hove
to, I succeeded in catching a partial observation of the sun at
midday. From this I worked up my latitude, then headed by log to
the latitude of Lord Howe, and ran both that latitude and the island
down together. Here I tested the chronometer by longitude sights
and found it something like three minutes out. Since each minute is
equivalent to fifteen miles, the total error can be appreciated. By
repeated observations at Lord Howe I rated the chronometer, finding
it to have a daily losing error of seven-tenths of a second. Now it
happens that a year ago, when we sailed from Hawaii, that selfsame
chronometer had that selfsame losing error of seven-tenths of a
second. Since that error was faithfully added every day, and since
that error, as proved by my observations at Lord Howe, has not
changed, then what under the sun made that chronometer all of a
sudden accelerate and catch up with itself three minutes? Can such
things be? Expert watchmakers say no; but I say that they have
never done any expert watch-making and watch-rating in the Solomons.
That it is the climate is my only diagnosis. At any rate, I have
successfully doctored the chronometer, even if I have failed with
the lunacy cases and with Martin's yaws.

P.S. Martin has just tried burnt alum, and is blessing the Solomons
more fervently than ever.

P.S. Between Manning Straits and Pavuvu Islands.

Henry has developed rheumatism in his back, ten skins have peeled
off my hands and the eleventh is now peeling, while Tehei is more
lunatic than ever and day and night prays God not to kill him.
Also, Nakata and I are slashing away at fever again. And finally up
to date, Nakata last evening had an attack of ptomaine poisoning,
and we spent half the night pulling him through.


The Snark was forty-three feet on the water-line and fifty-five over
all, with fifteen feet beam (tumble-home sides) and seven feet eight
inches draught. She was ketch-rigged, carrying flying-jib, jib,
fore-staysail, main-sail, mizzen, and spinnaker. There were six
feet of head-room below, and she was crown-decked and flush-decked.
There were four alleged WATER-TIGHT compartments. A seventy-horse
power auxiliary gas-engine sporadically furnished locomotion at an
approximate cost of twenty dollars per mile. A five-horse power
engine ran the pumps when it was in order, and on two occasions
proved capable of furnishing juice for the search-light. The
storage batteries worked four or five times in the course of two
years. The fourteen-foot launch was rumoured to work at times, but
it invariably broke down whenever I stepped on board.

But the Snark sailed. It was the only way she could get anywhere.
She sailed for two years, and never touched rock, reef, nor shoal.
She had no inside ballast, her iron keel weighed five tons, but her
deep draught and high freeboard made her very stiff. Caught under
full sail in tropic squalls, she buried her rail and deck many
times, but stubbornly refused to turn turtle. She steered easily,
and she could run day and night, without steering, close-by, full-
and-by, and with the wind abeam. With the wind on her quarter and
the sails properly trimmed, she steered herself within two points,
and with the wind almost astern she required scarcely three points
for self-steering.

The Snark was partly built in San Francisco. The morning her iron
keel was to be cast was the morning of the great earthquake. Then
came anarchy. Six months overdue in the building, I sailed the
shell of her to Hawaii to be finished, the engine lashed to the
bottom, building materials lashed on deck. Had I remained in San
Francisco for completion, I'd still be there. As it was, partly
built, she cost four times what she ought to have cost.

The Snark was born unfortunately. She was libelled in San
Francisco, had her cheques protested as fraudulent in Hawaii, and
was fined for breach of quarantine in the Solomons. To save
themselves, the newspapers could not tell the truth about her. When
I discharged an incompetent captain, they said I had beaten him to a
pulp. When one young man returned home to continue at college, it
was reported that I was a regular Wolf Larsen, and that my whole
crew had deserted because I had beaten it to a pulp. In fact the
only blow struck on the Snark was when the cook was manhandled by a
captain who had shipped with me under false pretences, and whom I
discharged in Fiji. Also, Charmian and I boxed for exercise; but
neither of us was seriously maimed.

The voyage was our idea of a good time. I built the Snark and paid
for it, and for all expenses. I contracted to write thirty-five
thousand words descriptive of the trip for a magazine which was to
pay me the same rate I received for stories written at home.
Promptly the magazine advertised that it was sending me especially
around the world for itself. It was a wealthy magazine. And every
man who had business dealings with the Snark charged three prices
because forsooth the magazine could afford it. Down in the
uttermost South Sea isle this myth obtained, and I paid accordingly.
To this day everybody believes that the magazine paid for everything
and that I made a fortune out of the voyage. It is hard, after such
advertising, to hammer it into the human understanding that the
whole voyage was done for the fun of it.

I went to Australia to go into hospital, where I spent five weeks.
I spent five months miserably sick in hotels. The mysterious malady
that afflicted my hands was too much for the Australian specialists.
It was unknown in the literature of medicine. No case like it had
ever been reported. It extended from my hands to my feet so that at
times I was as helpless as a child. On occasion my hands were twice
their natural size, with seven dead and dying skins peeling off at
the same time. There were times when my toe-nails, in twenty-four
hours, grew as thick as they were long. After filing them off,
inside another twenty-four hours they were as thick as before.

The Australian specialists agreed that the malady was non-parasitic,
and that, therefore, it must be nervous. It did not mend, and it
was impossible for me to continue the voyage. The only way I could
have continued it would have been by being lashed in my bunk, for in
my helpless condition, unable to clutch with my hands, I could not
have moved about on a small rolling boat. Also, I said to myself
that while there were many boats and many voyages, I had but one
pair of hands and one set of toe-nails. Still further, I reasoned
that in my own climate of California I had always maintained a
stable nervous equilibrium. So back I came.

Since my return I have completely recovered. And I have found out
what was the matter with me. I encountered a book by Lieutenant-
Colonel Charles E. Woodruff of the United States Army entitled
"Effects of Tropical Light on White Men." Then I knew. Later, I
met Colonel Woodruff, and learned that he had been similarly
afflicted. Himself an Army surgeon, seventeen Army surgeons sat on
his case in the Philippines, and, like the Australian specialists,
confessed themselves beaten. In brief, I had a strong
predisposition toward the tissue-destructiveness of tropical light.
I was being torn to pieces by the ultra-violet rays just as many
experimenters with the X-ray have been torn to pieces.

In passing, I may mention that among the other afflictions that
jointly compelled the abandonment of the voyage, was one that is
variously called the healthy man's disease, European Leprosy, and
Biblical Leprosy. Unlike True Leprosy, nothing is known of this
mysterious malady. No doctor has ever claimed a cure for a case of
it, though spontaneous cures are recorded. It comes, they know not
how. It is, they know not what. It goes, they know not why.
Without the use of drugs, merely by living in the wholesome
California climate, my silvery skin vanished. The only hope the
doctors had held out to me was a spontaneous cure, and such a cure
was mine.

A last word: the test of the voyage. It is easy enough for me or
any man to say that it was enjoyable. But there is a better
witness, the one woman who made it from beginning to end. In
hospital when I broke the news to Charmian that I must go back to
California, the tears welled into her eyes. For two days she was
wrecked and broken by the knowledge that the happy, happy voyage was


April 7, 1911


{1} To point out that we of the Snark are not a crowd of weaklings,
which might be concluded from our divers afflictions, I quote the
following, which I gleaned verbatim from the Eugenie's log and which
may be considered as a sample of Solomon Islands cruising:

Ulava, Thursday, March 12, 1908.

Boat went ashore in the morning. Got two loads ivory nut, 4000
copra. Skipper down with fever.

Ulava, Friday, March 13, 1908.

Buying nuts from bushmen, 1.5 ton. Mate and skipper down with

Ulava, Saturday, March 14, 1908.

At noon hove up and proceeded with a very light E.N.E. wind for
Ngora-Ngora. Anchored in 5 fathoms--shell and coral. Mate down
with fever.

Ngora-Ngora, Sunday, March 15, 1908.

At daybreak found that the boy Bagua had died during the night, on
dysentery. He was about 14 days sick. At sunset, big N.W. squall.
(Second anchor ready) Lasting one hour and 30 minutes.

At sea, Monday, March 16, 1908.

Set course for Sikiana at 4 P.M. Wind broke off. Heavy squalls
during the night. Skipper down on dysentery, also one man.

At sea, Tuesday, March 17, 1908.

Skipper and 2 crew down on dysentery. Mate fever.

At sea, Wednesday, March 18, 1908.

Big sea. Lee-rail under water all the time. Ship under reefed
mainsail, staysail, and inner jib. Skipper and 3 men dysentery.
Mate fever.

At sea, Thursday, March 19, 1908.

Too thick to see anything. Blowing a gale all the time. Pump
plugged up and bailing with buckets. Skipper and five boys down on

At sea, Friday, March 20, 1908.

During night squalls with hurricane force. Skipper and six men down
on dysentery.

At sea, Saturday, March 21, 1908.

Turned back from Sikiana. Squalls all day with heavy rain and sea.
Skipper and best part of crew on dysentery. Mate fever.

And so, day by day, with the majority of all on board prostrated,
the Eugenie's log goes on. The only variety occurred on March 31,
when the mate came down with dysentery and the skipper was floored
by fever.


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