Howls moving castle full English submarine

World travel and exploratory adventures

Ferdinand Emmerich

New Zealand

My travel destination was the large double island of New Zealand. While I was talking to quickly made friends in Valparaiso about the route to be taken, a strange howling siren sounded from the harbor.

"What kind of person is that?" Asked Oldehaver, the young brewer from Santiago. “We've never heard the sound here before. It howls like a war steamer. "

"Let him howl," said Kohler. “As long as it's not a cosmos steamer kidnapping our explorer northwards, he's not interested in us. - Cheers!"

"It is strange that there is not a single direct connection from here to Australia, where the two countries, Chile and New Zealand, are at the same latitude and both have a brisk trade."

"But not with each other," replied the agent of the cosmos line. At most, coal ships choose the direct route. Anyone who, like you, wants to cross the Pacific Ocean - and that doesn't happen often - has to go north up to San Francisco and then drive back the same sixty-five degrees of latitude to reach Australia or New Zealand. That is still a sore point in our traffic conditions. "

"I would take a sailing ship," said the captain of the Denderah, which was just in port and was destined for "homeward." “There's a fine three-masted Blankeneser out there heading for Sidney. Have a word with the captain. Perhaps he will take passengers who are used to the sea. "

"Well, I don't know ..." said the agent, but was interrupted in his speech by a young man from Hamburg who rushed breathlessly into the beer hall and shouted:

“There's an American pleasure boat out there! The Yankees imitate everything. Our big shipping companies have barely started doing this when the American comes and also runs luxury steamers like this. Just that it's a little windy with the presentation. - I was just on board ... "

"Where is the pleasure trip going?" I interrupted the torrent of words.

"To the South Sea Islands, Australia, what do I know!"

I shouted, jumping up. “That would be something for me. Who do I have to turn to? What's the agent's name? "

'Hm - do you think you can take it? Living four to five weeks with the Yankees of both sexes on the boring Pacific? - By the way, they ask the American consul. He's just standing at the bar, taking his whiskey with soda ... "

The young compatriot continued to speak when I was already negotiating with the gentleman whom I referred to.

"Are you going to Australia with the Washington?" Asked the consul, eyeing me critically. “That will cost a lot of money, because of course we have to charge foreigners the fare that our steamers take from here to Frisko and on to Auckland. - It's because of the competition. The pleasure boats are not allowed to take passengers away from our other lines. Fair play, you know

“I understand all that, dear sir. But I'm on a research trip on behalf of an excellent scientific institute in the glorious United States. And since there are also English people on their way to New Zealand, I would like to overtake them and secure the first reports for Galveston ... you understand ... «

“Aoh, if that is the case, then the captain will let himself be spoken to. - You have papers from the university, don't you? "

"Here they are, Consul!"

“Well! Come to me tonight. I will give you a message. - Hm, so the English want the changes in the area of ​​... what did they call that thing? ... «

"Of the Rotomahana lake ..."

“Well, the captain will know that! So they want to research that too and are already on their way? "

“You are about to leave. If Washington takes me along, we'll get the first reports to the United States. "

When we returned to our table, the questions started. Not directly, but in a roundabout way, the cosmos agent wanted to know whether he was in danger of losing his passenger.

“The American won't take passengers from here, is it? I read the rejection on his face. "

"Oh no! I hope to get on board tomorrow. There are only formalities left to do. "

“Yes, yes, the local authorities are strict. Not every steamer can easily take passengers here. "

"Would like to know who is going to forbid me from doing this?" Asked the captain.

"Let's take a look at the steamer nearby, gentlemen," suggested Kohler. "As a Chilean officer, I will not be refused to inspect the facilities on board."

Except for me, none of those present followed the request. On the way my companion asked me about the paper I had given the consul.

I had to laugh.

“If you don't betray me, I'll tell you. I charred the good man a little. I am traveling to New Zealand on behalf of the University of Galveston to determine the geological changes that occurred in the famous Taupo zone during the recent earthquake. - Now I have given as the reason for my hurry that scholars are also setting out from England to investigate the same thing. If America comes first, then this country will have the first reports ... I was speculating on the national pride of the Yankees. "

"When did the English leave?"

"What do I know! I have no idea if anyone is going there at all. It is an English island, this New Zealand, and there will be no shortage of men in Auckland who will notice. - For me it is a matter of getting away from here, and I hope to achieve that. "

"They did well," laughed Koehler. "If you play the English against the Americans, you win the game."

The next day I was ceremoniously received on board the steamer Washington. I say solemnly, because contrary to the rule on such steamers, the consul, the captain, a few officers, the doctor and a number of gentlemen and ladies stood at the top of the stairs and greeted the "famous" explorer in their midst. I got a very good cabin and enjoyed the best service and the greatest courtesy of all fellow travelers, especially the older women, throughout the trip. I had to relate everything that I wrote down in the first six volumes of these "Experiences". - Every evening a circle of thirst for knowledge surrounded me, to which the ship's officers joined after the old ladies had disappeared. Then, however, the subject changed and people immersed themselves in conversations that go better with "whiskey with soda".

Juan Fernandez, Robinson Island, or, as it is officially called on the Chilean maps, "Mas a tierra" was our first stop. Already the day before, almost every passenger had Defoe's famous book Robinson Crusoe in hand and eagerly read the poor sailor's adventures so that afterwards one could get to know all the places where this and that incident took place. I hardly need to mention that I was bombarded with questions from all sides. All the protests that I would never visit the island were negligible. I just had to know everything. - "Why are you an explorer?" With great difficulty I was able to evade the invitation to serve as guides for the various groups. Fortunately, there were enterprising natives who liked to make a few bucks. Under their guidance, the inquisitive passengers spread out on the island.

Although almost every student in Germany has devoured his Robinson, there is general ignorance about the island itself, its inhabitants and even its location. A few words about it are therefore appropriate here.

The group, which consists of several islands, is located about four hundred nautical miles from the Chilean mainland in the Pacific Ocean. It consists of the two larger islands Mas a tierra (more on the mainland) and Mas a fuera (more outside), as well as some smaller islands. Only Mas a tierra, whose port city is called Juan Fernandez, is inhabited. For us Germans, the archipelago is more interested because here in the bay the little cruiser 'Dresden' was shot to the ground by the British against all international law during the World War, and because the majority of the island's inhabitants are Germans. In 1867 sixty Saxon colonists settled on the island of Mas a tierra. They created a true paradise out of the wildly overgrown country at that time. Unfortunately, they too fell victim to the old German mistake. They quickly mingled with the Chileans present and those who followed. Although in the majority, our compatriots soon renounced their mother tongue and instead adopted Spanish. Twenty years later, when I visited the island with the 'Washington', only the older people, the first settlers, spoke German, or, more correctly, a Spanish-sounding Saxon. Our old national disaster! Because of our addiction to foreign language, we forget our own language and our German peculiarities - as unfortunately we can perceive it every day in our own fatherland!

The most interesting thing for the tour company on the Washington was, of course, the cave in which that shipwrecked sailor Selkirk lived for four years. I visited her too. The way there leads across lush meadows, on which cows and small horses grazed under the care of blue-eyed, little shepherds, who replied in Spanish to German addresses. Gently ascending from the valley you come to a dense, subtropical forest in which ferns, myrtles and large-leaf tropical plants often form impenetrable thickets under huge, evergreen trees. Large pigeon birds roam the treetops. Rustling in the bushes indicated the presence of quadrupeds.

If you have climbed the height, the eye is presented with a pleasing panoramic view of the island and the sea. Extensive forests rise from north to northeast. In the opposite direction, on the other hand, bare rocks that plunge steeply into the sea offer nesting opportunities for millions of seabirds. - From the ridge down, a barely noticeable path runs into a ravine that is connected to the sea. The cave is located sixty meters from the beach, the indentation of which is still called "El Puerto del Ingles" today. A high, arched, rock hole only two meters deep that offers nothing to see. On the contrary. It seemed to me more than a dump for all sorts of rubbish. - The Americans, however, marveled at this opening and carefully walked with the hand of the book to the point where the ship is said to have sunk and where the young sailor later hewn his first beams. - After several hours of admiration even the smallest stone had rolled past the eyes thirsty for knowledge, everyone intervened

Piece of wood, a shell, a stone - in memory of Robinson Island!

As the sun set, the Washington left the island. The weather had changed and the sea began to adorn itself with "cat paws". This is the name given to the small heads of foam that form on the waves of the ocean when the winds freshen up. As we steamed past the cliffs that plunged into the sea, everyone came on deck and admired the wonderful spectacle of the waves breaking on the cliffs. The sea was very phosphorescent. The rushing wave rolled towards the land as a shimmering dark green mass. Where the beach was shallow, the water was lost as a broad band of gold foam in the darkness. But if it hit the rigid rocks, then a sheaf of sparks shot in the golden-green scattering rain up high into the gray spikes of the island and elicited enthusiastic calls of astonishment and admiration from the audience. The magnificent spectacle made most of the passengers overlook the fact that the crew of the ship was busy in a somewhat hasty manner with the objects lying around on the deck and their salvage. This unusual bustle caused me to snuggle up to the navigation room and take a look at the weather glass. The second officer on duty on the bridge noticed this too late. He recommended secrecy to me.

"Why should we let the passengers know what to expect in advance?" He asked.

“Very right. They notice it soon enough anyway, when the storm blows its morning song for them, When do you expect the weather? "

“The sea is already running up. In two to three hours we will lock the cabin doors from the outside. You know how uncomfortable it is when passengers are allowed to walk around freely in bad weather. And first ours ... well, I don't want to go further! "

“Know that, dear friend. But as a professional, I am excluded from being locked up, am I not ...? "

"Sorry, but you are a passenger and we are not allowed to make any exceptions here."

"Not even if there are urgent reasons to do so?"

"What kind of reasons would that be?"

"Well, if, for example, I had a bottle of the best whiskey, real Monongahela, that I had just opened that I would only like to drink in your company, that is, in your cabin ..."

"Then you can place yourself under my protection," laughed the officer sympathetically. “I'll be relieved at twelve o'clock. You know my room? "

we had just toasted a good trip when a short, sharp whistle went through the rigging. The sea was black as ink now and rustled hollow. The sluggishly rolling waves broke lazily on the hull of the ship. There was a frightening silence in the air.

"He'll be there in a moment," I said, as I stepped back into the chamber from a corridor to the railing. "Don't you want to screw the iron plates in front of the porthole?"

"Oh, the lakes won't run as far as here," said the officer, who was on duty on such a large steamer for the first time and was not yet familiar with the waves of the South Pacific.

"Wait and see, man," I replied. “I have experience in the raging storms down here. Have everything shut down, because I'm afraid that the large glass windows in the "winter garden" on the upper deck are also endangered. "

The last words had been heard by the first officer, who, attracted by the smell, stuck his nose into the cabin.

"I just gave the order," he said. "I think we won't get much to eat or drink in the next twenty-four hours ... And even now I feel very dry in my throat ..."

"I understand your grief, mate," I replied with a laugh, and handed him a full glass. "When you are off duty, report what happened on your watch."

"Hm, does it last that long?" He asked, holding the bottle up to the light.

"Nah, but if you send the steward over here with a new bottle before the deck is under water, you'll be sure there's something else."

The storm set in with tremendous force. He threw the big steamer on its side and held it so tightly in its inclined position that one could have believed that it would never straighten up again. But of course there is no such thing. It cannot be pushed beyond a certain point. But the pleasure travelers, who were suddenly rudely thrown out of their beds, did not know that. You could hear isolated calls. Gentlemen tried to get to the upper deck. But since they found only locked doors everywhere, they began to lose their cold-bloodedness and the calls turned into curses, mixed with knocking and rumbling. That made the ladies nervous, of course. And while the howling wind swept across the sea outside, there was a noise in the cabin corridors that drowned out even the storm.

"Lord of Heaven, is that a company!" I exclaimed and poured the officer a full glass. "Go in and calm down, otherwise a disaster will happen!"

“It's the stewards' business! If I go in - and that can only happen through the bulkhead door that closes the lower cabin passage from the intermediate deck - then I am forced to give them this exit ... no, then it is better, they scream themselves hoarse, then they hear open by itself! "" But fear can have disastrous consequences ... "

"That's what the doctor is for," replied the officer in cold blood.

There was nothing to reply to. But when the storm increased in strength and the ship was tossed around like a cork in the boiling sea, I decided to go to the cabin saloon and encourage the frightened travelers.I let myself be shown to the door known only to the crew. After I was promised to let me out again at four o'clock, I slipped into the, fortunately, rather gloomy cabin corridor and a few minutes later stood in the midst of the travelers gathered in the large dining room.

The sight of those faces contorted with fear, all of these people in clothes whose inadequacy could only be excused with fear of death, elicited a loud laugh from me. I couldn't help it, I really had to laugh out loud. This tone, however, worked wonders. The cries of fear fell silent. Everyone looked at me and my face, shining with joy. A lady who particularly distinguished me hurried up to me and shouted in reproachful, tearful words:

"Oh, Mister Emmerich, how can you still laugh in the face of an imminent death?"

“You are wrong, Miss Price, I have no thoughts of suicide at all. I am extremely comfortable in this world. Especially since a few days when a kind fate brought such a lovable lady in my way. "

At the same time, contrary to all American rules, I kissed her hand lightly.

"Don't do that, sir," she replied sternly, "who knows how close we are to doom!"

"Do you mean this ship, Miss Price?"

"Of course, what else?"

"That will not go under, dear lady!" I exclaimed with a certainty that did not fail to impress her. “Our 'Washington' will still be able to take that little storm. Do you have so little confidence in the shipbuilding skills of your compatriots? "

“But look how he lies on his side. One day he'll have to fall over! ”An old lady wailed.

Again I laughed inappropriately loudly.

“Thinking to one side prevents capsizing. The ships are built in such a way that they can only be pushed to one side to a certain extent. Then they have to straighten up again ... "

"But we do know about capsized steamers!" Interjected a gentleman.

“Freight steamer - yes. If the grain or coal load hits them and shoots to one side, then it may happen. But our Washington, with its beautiful cargo, cannot capsize. Just calm down. The storm rushes by and afterwards you will be happy that you once got to know the unpleasant side of the sea. "

“But don't let us go on deck! If something happens, we can't even save ourselves! "

“That is why we are included. The captain knows as well as I and every seaman that the ship is in no danger. To protect us travelers from harm, he locks us up ... Only I think it is wrong not to serve tea to the ladies. I'll go straight to find the steward ... Have a seat and talk in the meantime. "

This conversation had really calmed the less anxious. Some women noticed that their nightgowns weren't quite socially acceptable after all and hurried to their cubicles to return to the hall in more suitable clothing. Others asked if you could lie down on the bed, if you were quite sure ...

I found the door in the bulkhead opened again at the specified hour and reported to the first, who had meanwhile arrived, about my mission in the hall.

"I should be grateful if you went over again," he said gravely. “The weather glass is still falling, and it is not out of the question that we will have to turn around. It can crash and if someone is there who has a calming effect at the right time, then a lot is gained. Especially on this first voyage, which we make as a "pleasure boat", there must be no panic, otherwise no one will come along with us. "

“Why are they attacking the sea? It doesn't matter where they land first in the South Seas. If they go with the wind, the ship doesn't work that hard. "

“That I suppose. But our captain has a head to himself ... "

“Well! But then I get it. - By the way, I'll do my best. Just make sure you have a hearty breakfast, because you can speak more convincingly while eating. "

"I don't think so," he replied with a laugh.

“Then why are all important business and negotiations, which are supposed to have a decisive effect, interrupted by a particularly rich meal? But only in order, consciously or unconsciously, to influence the mood and judgment of those invited through the stomach! "

A thundering sea interrupted our conversation. It came roaring over the forecastle from the front, flooded the fore ship with a foam and cracked itself against the high deck structure, where an unprotected pane gave way to the pressure and fell inward, where it splintered. A piercing scream from numerous throats followed the accident.

"Hurry up, please," urged the officer. “It might get better. Do your best ... "

"First of all, they send breakfast ... and the doctor to my company."

“He's seasick. But breakfast will be taken care of. "

In the dining room everything was again in a state of excitement. No sooner did Miss Price see me than she rushed towards me:

"Oh God, where were you just now in the accident ...?"

"What happened?" I asked, frightened. "I don't know anything about an accident."

“Didn't you hear the noise ... and the clang? There must have been a big hole in the ship's wall. "

"In a sense you are right," I replied. “However, the hole was already there, and it was glazed. When I carelessly, and against the regulations, opened my cabin window, the sea broke my window and - as you can see - I caught a little sea water. "

“Oh yes, you're all wet! And was it really just a disc? ... No leak ...? "

My laughter brought some reassurance back. The appearance of the attendant steered the conversation into different channels and ten minutes later most of the passengers were busy eating breakfast.

In the middle of this preoccupation, a sound tore me from my calm that the others had missed. A signal was given to the engine from the navigating bridge. There is always something unsettling about this ringing of the bell while sailing on the high seas. Most of the time it is a matter of maneuvers to prevent a collision or of fog suddenly falling in, which makes it necessary for the machine to go slowly. In all such cases the specialist is happy to be on deck. So I got up and went into the lower cabin path to get to the officers in the manner mentioned above. The exit, however, was locked. But I managed to get through the kitchen into the stokers' living room and there I saw a thick white wall that had been built up into a wildly swirling mass by the waning storm, and pushed itself heavily in front of us. Since I didn't hear a siren, I asked a machinist how long the steamer had been sitting in the fog.

"Oh, only a quarter of an hour," replied the latter carelessly.

"And you're not giving a signal with the siren?" I asked, puzzled.

"That is not necessary here," replied the first engineer who came up. “We're all alone in this area. We don't have to worry about anything. The passengers are nervous enough because of the storm. They don't need to get any more excited. "

“But there are sailors on the way. How easy it could be to drill a poor devil into the ground. The passengers just have to put up with it. "

“Our captain thinks differently. - He will arrange the right one, "replied the machine man, going to his room with a gentle greeting. I was just about to go to the officer to wish him good morning, when a strange sound came through the fog wall, which was lighter from the dawn. Startled, I stopped and looked up at the navigating bridge, where the captain was standing next to the second and fourth and had a lively conversation with them. I wanted to use signs to draw the officers' attention to the sound, and then the sound rang out again. This time it was unmistakably the sound of a human-blown foghorn. It was so close to us that I literally sensed what was about to come in advance and with a loud "caution" I jumped up the stairs to the bridge.

Those on the bridge were also terrified. The captain yanked the line to sound the siren, but it was so full of water that precious seconds passed before the howling sound came through - and by then it was too late! A jolt went through the whole ship. A crash and splinter, mixed with human calls for help. On both sides of our steamer, masts and sails appeared in a flash. The steamer reared as if it were gliding over undulating terrain. The screw rattled ... then the white wall pityingly concealed the terrible catastrophe that had befallen good sailors through the fault of an unscrupulous skipper.

Of course, the first shock was followed by the signal to stop the machine.

"Launch boats!" I said involuntarily and almost unconsciously I jumped to the next davit to loosen the ropes. But the expected command from above did not materialize. Even the few sailors who watched the collision that took place in a flash did not move a hand. - I rushed to the bridge again. Then the second officer met me. My astonished face must have met his conscience. He hurried back and spoke a few words with his superior. Then came an order:

“Boat No. 4 on the water. Quickly - call the team! "

The command was given inappropriately because it was bound to cause confusion. On large passenger steamers, every boat has its predetermined crew in the event of a disaster. If an accident hits the ship so that the lifeboats have to be abandoned, everyone who belongs to the crew goes to the number given to him without worrying about his comrades. The passengers will also find a small board in their cabins that says: "In the event of an alarm, go to boat no. ..." In this case the deck watch ran around headless and almost ten minutes passed before the First officer who brought together people who knew how to sail and row. The third officer was entrusted with the command of the rescue team and made every effort to bring the boat overboard and into the water. On this occasion it became clear how nonsensical it is to paint the boat ropes and blocks thickly with white paint. Before it was possible to loosen the stiff ropes at all and then to pull them through the blocks immobilized by the ten-fold layer of paint that was applied in ten layers, another quarter of an hour passed ...

"You can save yourself the trouble," I shouted, inwardly indignant, to the young ship's officer. "What has not drowned while sailing has long been devoured by the sea."

He didn't answer me, but his look told me he shared my point of view. The second also shook his head regretfully when he saw his colleague and the untrained team disappear into the fog. I'm afraid we won't see the boat again either, ”I said, turning to the officer. "People don't even know how to row, how are they going to hold the boat against the sea?"

“Yes, that's the bad thing about the modern steamers, that they no longer have any sailors. Seven eighths of our team come from all kinds of rural professions. We have very few real seafarers on board. - If an accident happened to us, which may God forbid, most of the boats would be lost through the fault of their crew, who can neither sail nor steer nor read the compass. - By the way, I am not telling you anything new. You know that from your own experience. "

"Unfortunately yes. But what I saw here today, I would not have thought possible. I mean that in thick weather you drive without giving fog signals. Not even the lookout was staffed twice ... That costs your company a lot of money and the captain the patent. "

“The sailor gave no warning, otherwise the collision would certainly not have occurred. That reduces our guilt. "

“You are wrong, dearest fellow. The sailor gave fog signals. I heard them clearly myself. But our steamer didn’t say anything ... "

“The captain didn't mean to scare the passengers. Nor was it to be assumed that there were sailing ships here at the moment. Besides, I was on watch. You will not pass on your perceptions, will you? "

“How about you educating the passengers a little about our lying still. See how to press the noses against the discs. You could unlock the doors. The weather is over. "

With that distraction, I was unable to answer the officer's question. I wanted to make my behavior dependent on the outcome of the rescue expedition. But under no circumstances did I want to offer my hand to cover up our captain's breach of duty. Much less will deprive the owner of the sailor of his right to compensation. - I said the same thing to the first officer, who later joined me and repeated the questions. It was obvious that I was forfeiting the friendship of the skippers, although they did not express it in their behavior; during the whole day I still enjoyed the "honor" of being drawn into conversation by them when it came to pass nautical matters, because the lifeboat could not be seen, despite repeated signals from the siren.

"I hope your prediction won't come true," remarked the second, as he emphasized his astonishment at the lack of the boat with increasing urgency.

“I want to know how your comrade is supposed to do it to find the steamer in the fog. He doesn't even know where to look for it. "

“We'll show him our situation with the siren. He'll hear that. "

"maybe. But you also know how wrong the direction of sound is in fog, if you at least gave the prescribed signals for steamers not moving - I mean the ringing of the ship's bell - then he would have more clues. "

“Of course - yes - you are right. The first one forgot to order it and the "old man" went to sleep. - I will order it immediately. "

The doctor pushed himself up to the railing next to me with the chief engineer. He seemed very pleased that seasickness had finally released him from its clutches.

"Why is our captain anchored here?" He asked with a smile. "Is he afraid of running onto the beach with the rebel?"

I looked at the questioner in amazement. Was it possible that now, five hours after the collision, someone was still on board who had no knowledge of the accident? I left the chief machinist to answer the question. But he gave such screwy explanations that even the doctor became suspicious.

"Has something happened?" He asked, and you could tell that a sudden shock went through his limbs. "The first officer told us we had to stay here because of the fog."

The machinist did not seem inclined to pour pure wine for his comrade. He probably wanted to make the misfortune known as little as possible. But the sailor was more important to me and the more witnesses testified for him afterwards, the better it was for the assertion of his claims. So I dropped the words:

"Why don't you give the doctor an explanation, Chief?"

An unwilling look hit me and, embarrassed, he moved on the cap.

“What should I tell the doctor about? I know as much as he does. "

"Is that really true? Then I would advise you to try the screw and have a look at the shaft. How easily can something be broken? Or did they not feel the shock? "

"What do you say?" Called the doctor. “Did we hit the bottom? Are we stranded? ”His face went almost white.

"I am not aware of having said anything about stranding or rubbish," I replied.

"Oh, that's not worth mentioning," said the engineer. “We came across a wreck and walked over it. - We did not suffer any further damage. "

"Are you sure you know that?" I asked.

"Well, I would notice right away," he replied venomously.

"Even if we lie still and the machine is not working?"

"Even then!" Was the short answer, whereupon he left.

"Another enemy!" I said. The doctor picked up the word.

"Why do you say that? The question couldn't offend him. "

"How you take it. If he was convinced of what he was saying, then not. Otherwise, however, he can perceive my doubts as a blow. "

“What actually happened? they seem to know more than you admit and - um - that gentleman would like.

'Do you notice that too? Well, I presume that you have no interest in harming your bosses, which would be the case if the pleasure-seekers learned what I saw with their own eyes. - Our Washington overran a sailing ship. Boat no. 4 has gone to save the seamen who might still be floating in the sea - if it finds them. - Now this one does not return either. That's why we're here. "

"And do you ring the bell so that the boat knows where we are?"

“No, because it's a requirement. At the same time, the rescue team should also be given a hint. "

“But why this secrecy. Something like that can happen to any ship if the other is not careful ... "

“Something like that shouldn't happen! Especially when you have a few hundred passengers on board. What would they say if they found out the truth? I think the captain would have to go back to Valparaiso and disembark them there. "

“But what are you thinking of! What can the captain do if an unscrupulous skipper neglects to give the prescribed warning signals and thus runs into misery? "

“But what if the other gave the signals? Did you hear our siren that night? "

»Thunderstorm - no! So it's not the sailor's fault? "

“Let the courts decide that. I heard the foghorn of the sailing ship and know that no answer was given on our part. "

“But then I understand that the officers are trying to find a cause that deviates from the truth. - So I came across a recommendable steamer. From now on I will no longer sleep peacefully. "

“You don't have to take it that bad. We will soon leave the fog behind and then there will be no more danger. You haven't been at sea long? "" This is my first voyage. I am a ›seaman‹ «for exactly three weeks.

“Then just keep your calm and don't talk about what you know until someone asks you at the Maritime Administration. It may be that I am not at hand when the sailor makes his claims. You will then tell the court what I told you. "

From then on the doctor was my constant companion on deck. The more the skippers withdrew from me, the more closely he attached himself to me - to his disadvantage.

Night fell. The fog had been absorbed by the sun during the day and the sea had calmed down. The Washington had to resume its voyage. They thought it necessary to tell me that they would stay nearby and drive around the scene of the accident in a large circle. On the occasion it was hoped to find the missing boat.

“The passengers don't know anything about the incident,” said the second to me, “they shouldn't find out anything about the boat either. - You, as the only seafarer among the passengers, will do me a favor and will not mention any of it. During the night we search the sea and launch missiles. They can't be far. "

“If the boat has provisions and there are especially water barrels in it, then your colleague can also reach Juan Fernandez if necessary. We're barely sixty miles away. "No, no!" He replied quickly, with an undertone of horror, "we have to find the boat this night, otherwise ..."

"Poor people die of thirst," I added. “The old story on passenger steamers! For fear that the passengers might be reminded of the actual purpose of the boats, the law prescribes that the provisions for forty to fifty people are not renewed every four weeks and the drinking water every eight days. - That doesn't happen on German steamers! - Hopefully this will serve as a warning to you when you go first and as captain later. - I can tell you some gruesome stories from my own experience. "

I couldn't stand it in my cabin. Unrest over the fate of the poor sailors drove me on deck. All the officers were gathered there and looked with their night glasses searchingly over the wide expanse of water. Fortunately, the water did not phosphoresce, so that any flash of light that appeared could be recognized as such immediately. I was allowed to lie down in the bow and take part in the search. - The further the night went, the less there was talk. None of the officers on watch thought of going to their room after they had finished their duties. The feeling of the terrible responsibility that weighed on the guides drove away sleep.

The imposing steamer furrowed the calm sea with half its strength. All the lamps in the drawing rooms had been re-lit in order to offer the missing persons as rich an abundance of light as possible. From time to time rockets rose into the starry sky. - Nothing! You could read the hopelessness on all faces ...

Then - it was already getting dark in the east - the lookout in the mast basket announced:

»Light ahead! Two lines to starboard! "

The reputation electrified us all. Ten binoculars focused on the point indicated. The first chased up the shrouds. After a few minutes the confirmation came:

“It must be you! It's a flickering fire. Flame up and go out! - Matches!"

The wheel was already in the direction indicated. The screw whipped the sea with full force. The white outline stepped ever more clearly out of the receding darkness ... At last the telegraph clinked in the engine room:

"Stop!" Then the boat rubbed the hull. The stairs rattled down - but none of the occupants made an appearance to come on deck.

"Hello, why don't you hurry up?" Called the captain.

"Help us - we're dying of thirst," stammered the man behind the wheel in Spanish. "

I translate. Then I pushed past the first one and was in the boat in a few jumps. There they lay, the brave men, with glazed eyes, torn, bloody lips, their tongues swollen unformally ... Ten men from Washington and three strangers.

The victims were carefully brought into the smoking room and happily left to the care of me and the doctor. The tight window locks protected us from prying eyes. Nevertheless, a murmur went through the room.

"We fished up three shipwrecked people," they said, and America, who was happy to give, was not lacking in rich donations.

Fortunately, no one spoke Spanish except me. So the secret was kept.

The ship's command tried to elicit a description of the accident from the rescued foreign seamen, which would absolve the "Washington" of any guilt as far as possible. But since the negotiations were conducted in English on the one hand and in Spanish on the other, nothing came of course. At last they resorted to the only possible way out, which they would have preferred to avoid, and asked me for my interpreting services. The captain resisted for a long time. He only gave in when his first told him that I had talked to the strange sailors after all, and that their account of the catastrophe would certainly be spread on land.

The rescued were the only survivors of a crew of ten from the schooner Carmencita from Valparaiso. The ship was headed for its home port with a cargo of wheat from Juan Fernandez and had been driven west by the storm. The steamer had already been noticed on board the schooner before the fog came in and therefore gave a loud fog signal in shorter breaks than the prescribed intervals. The entire crew stood on deck to listen to the siren of the Washington. But you heard the hammering of the screw rather than the warning whistle. When this sounded, the collision had become inevitable. With the correct knowledge of the sure sinking, the captain of the schooner gave the order to clear the boat. The rescued sailors could not say how far this was carried out; they were standing on the foredeck and were thrown overboard with the jib and bowsprit when the steamer struck. The three men owed their lives to the fortunate coincidence that the staysails were still standing and protecting them from sinking. They complained bitterly that the lifeboat had neither water nor bread nor a compass and that none of the rowers knew how to steer. - The first officer did not want to include the latter in the protocol. However, one of the sailors, an intelligent Chilean, declared that he would not give his signature if the sentence was not recorded. I had to translate for him word for word, while he looked suspiciously into the logbook in which the protocol was being written down. The hope of the three rescued clung to the boat made clear by the schooner. They admitted the possibility that it had strayed from the ship before the collision. The steamer should return to its course and look for it. The sailors in Juan Fernandez could be put back ashore on the occasion.

When the captain was informed of this request, he became very angry. He resolutely refused to comply with this request. He searched the scene of the accident long enough. He would surely have found a boat if one had been around. I also had to agree with him on this, and with all my conviction I tried to make this understandable to the Chilean spokesman. For free! He too got angry and soon two hardheads faced each other like gamecocks.

Of course, the noise of the exchange going on below deck penetrated the steamer's crew quarters. Between them there were also men who were not "green" to their own superiors and who, without really knowing what it was all about, sided with the Chileans and began to grumble. They approached me with a request to tell them why their Spanish comrade was so upset with the captain. - Since in the further course of things I could easily provoke a mutiny if I said what I knew, I went on deck with a shrug and locked myself in my cabin.

Ten minutes could have passed before there was a knock. I didn't answer. Only when I recognized the doctor's voice did I open the door and let him in. But behind him stood the second officer, who did not let himself be turned away.

"Now at last leave me alone with your ship's affairs!" I cried angrily and threw myself lengthways on my bed. "I'm here as a passenger and I regret it with all my heart."

“We are also very grateful to you for lending us your assistance. The captain will show his appreciation in any desired way. They just help us now so that we can calm our people down. Otherwise the greatest misfortune will happen. "

The second officer put his hand on my arm imploringly and there was something of mute despair in his gaze. The doctor, too, resigned when I delayed my answer.

"What else should I do?" I asked, jumping up. "The boat crew can tell better than me how the strangers were fished up."

"If they explained to the people that our steamer was to blame for the collision ... that is, if they translated a Chilean speech in a similar way ... then ours calm down ..."

“No, gentlemen, I will not do that! You and your captain will still have so much authority that your men will believe your words and obey your orders ... "

“But the Chileans curse and rant that the passengers are also paying attention. And when they find out, then the good agreement will be over, "lamented the doctor.

“Then bring the Chileans back to Juan Fernandez as soon as possible. You'll be rid of them in two days! "" And what should we give the passengers as the reason? No, the captain doesn't do that under any condition. "

We talked back and forth like this for half an hour. The noise in the intermediate deck increased. So I decided to bring the Chilean over to me and teach him reason in private.

“Whatever the cost,” assured the officer, “the captain makes every sacrifice. Only the calm has to return to the ship. "

It was not easy to bring the angry Chilean, whose bloodshot eyes glared at us, to the upper deck with me. I took him to my cabin and tried to calm him down above all else. I succeeded when I was able to convince him that I had nothing to do with the ship's command and that I had only acted as a mediator out of philanthropy.

"Where is the ship going?" He asked when the ground was leveled for a quiet discussion.

"First to the Cooks Islands," I replied.

"Where is that. I don't know them, are the islands near Valparaiso?"

“Hmm, not that. But the captain will pay you to stay there until you find a ship to take you home. "

"How long will it take?"

The question embarrassed me. It is my belief that years could pass before a ship destined for Chile called at the Cooks Islands. He had to make the long detour via San Francisco if he wanted to set foot on home soil after a few months. - My hesitation suggested a similar answer. He therefore repeated the question in a sharper tone:

"I'm not sure," I replied. "Let the steward ask the captain."

While the attendant was doing my job, I described to the man the joys of the good life that he was allowed to live on the skipper's rustling. Until his return to Valparaiso, the steamer would reimburse him for all costs, including lost earnings. This prospect made no impression on the Chilean. He didn't want to know anything about easy earning. One should see to it that he gets to Valparaiso as soon as possible. There in front of the maritime court his share of the ship and cargo of the sunk "Carmencita" would have to be paid out to him.

When the steward brought back the news that the Washington intended to be the next port of call in the Fiji Islands, I dared not translate it. The man could not have been delayed for twelve to fourteen days. I chose the middle ground. I said the captain wanted to go to the next larger island and put him and his comrades on land there. I hoped to appoint the ship's command to do this. - For the time being, the Chilean was satisfied with this information. The need for rest was also very great for him and when he had only slept for ten hours he had calmed down.

Now I got behind the passengers. Since it had been noticed that I had played a part in the rescue affair, I was overwhelmed with the request to tell. In fulfilling these wishes to the greatest possible extent, a thought suddenly occurred to me, the execution of which could help me to fulfill a long-cherished wish. - I tried to influence the passengers to induce the captain to change the program. Instead of going straight to Viti Levu, you should ask him to call at the Society Islands beforehand. I described the charm of these islands, which I had never seen, in the most glowing colors. Raved about the idyll of the expelled queen, who was grateful for every visit and described precisely that group of islands as something that every educated American should have seen.

The spark ignited. At the lunch table Miss Gould made the request. She did not fail to underline my colorful descriptions, which earned me an angry look from the commanding officer. It was precisely this lady, who seemed to have a great influence on the directors of the steamship company, that the captain could not easily refuse. He apparently accepted, but came up with so many "ifs" and "buts" that everyone could clearly feel the refusal. I let go of the remark that a German pleasure steamer would certainly not show its passengers the archipelagos of the South Seas from a great distance:

“The most wonderful thing about natural beauty there is in the world has to be seen. And then, Captain, "I added," Papeete is the best place for you to get rid of those who have been rescued. Sailing ships destined for the east often stop there, and the poor fellows can easily return home from there, where women and poor children are probably already anxiously looking for their caring father at this hour. Consider the suffering that must fall upon the unfortunate people when the wreckage of the schooner is found and news of the ship's sinking reaches Valparaiso before the rescued have returned to their families. "

That worked more than the most enthusiastic description of nature. The subject was so exploited by the ladies and discussed with a thoroughness that only American women are capable of. In the end, the captain had no choice but to give his consent to the deviation.

"At least I'll get rid of the three most unpleasant people there," he said as he left to his first man, who was standing next to me.

"Just tell the four of them, Captain!" I replied with a laugh. "I'll leave you in Papeete too."

What he chewed between his teeth in response didn't sound like regret ...

Eight days later, the "Washington" steamed through the countless islets that are collectively named Paumotu Islands on world maps. Here the until then lonely sea came to life with numerous dugout canoes, some of which were provided with the lateral outrigger to protect against overturning in rough seas, but some of them were built as keel boats. Most of them were fishing. The brown sons of the South Seas attacked the big fish with spears, bows and arrows and almost every arrow hit its target. Immediately after the arrow snapped off the string, the fisherman jumped into the sea and threw his wriggling prey into the canoe. Then he brushed the water out of his long hair and probably cast a mocking, disdainful look at the shark that was just shooting up.

Between the islands of Pukaruha and Reao, the steamer slid into the not harmless fairway. A festival was held on the former island. Numerous native boats adorned with flowers, each of which carried about twenty people, headed for the beach in a long stretch. A deafening music, which the wind carried on board in short gusts, called all of our passengers to the railing. Incomprehensibly, the islanders seemed to take no notice of the approaching steamer, so that the guard on the bridge had to reach for the steam siren. The howling sound had not yet died away when the whole flotilla dissolved the previous order and drove around like a swarm of ants, many rowers threw the poles into the sea and tried to swim to the beach. Other canoes turned away from the previous course and tried to approach the nearest island. The vehicles that drove us at first, probably realizing that it was no longer possible to escape, picked up their weapons and seemed determined to sell their lives dearly.

The unfamiliar excitement at our appearance was inexplicable to all of us. I knew the South Seas from before, had heard a lot about this group of islands, but nothing that could explain this obvious fear of the steamer. Of course, the passengers also asked why.

"Probably the French who presume to rule these islands are not in good memory among the natives," I replied. “You seldom see large ships here, and you might think our Washington is a French warship. I would like to teach the poor people a different opinion about us. We disturbed them in the middle of a great festival and thereby brought great suffering to the islands. "

"But if it was to be honored to one of her idols, it was a good work that we did," interjected a bigoted lady with a hypocritical look.

“Not at all,” I replied, “when people feel the need to pray to their God and thank him for something, we shouldn't disturb them. On the contrary ..."

"But, sir, they are idolaters, pagans, who should be exterminated ..."

“Most of the time, there are more well-behaved people under brown skin than under some white ones. I got to know natives whose way of life many white sailors could have taken as an example ... «

"But they are ogre-eaters who worship wooden idols," lamented the lady, who was quite indignant that someone took the side of the natives against her, "when they heard what our missionaries have to say about it!"

I happen to be well informed about this chapter and it was probably more than a coincidence that the first officer had me called and asked me to come to him just now.

"We're going close to the three canoes over there," he said. "If you tried to talk to the natives ..."

“I can try, but I have no idea of ​​their language. Maybe someone speaks French or English. In any case, they know the liquor bottles. If you want to use the means of communication, then we are immediately good friends. "

"I have absolutely no doubt about that," he replied with a laugh. “For my part, I would be approachable to a good White Horse. At least I'll tell the "old man". The ladies tormented him to the point of blood. They want the brownskins on deck under all circumstances. "

"Stop!" I have to protest against that. For God's sake don't let the natives on deck, at least not in numbers, you wouldn't get rid of them without brutal violence. "

“Oh, I'm not afraid! If we really wanted to visit us more than I would like, then I'll let the stairs open. You can then complain. "

“Do you think, you innocent angels, that the brown skins even use the stairs to come up? They are up before they have even tied the stairs ... And finally I want to prevent people from being violent! ... But there are the canoes. Just look at the malicious look that humans give us. I will greet him with the only two phrases I have ever caught from the Cooks Islander language. - Do you have the bottle? "

“Try it this way first. It would be a shame about the good material! "

“Oh, you ...! The captain is donating it after all. So bring it on! "

I leaned over the railing as far as possible, lifted the bottle and called out to the canoe occupants:

»Hare mai, otu! Joranna! "

I accompanied the words with my most winning smile. The men listened to the sound of this speech. One replied the greeting "Joranna", while the others looked astonished at the strange people crowding six meters above their heads and probably couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the rarely seen female beings in all possible disguises (according to their terms) saw the rail swing.

One of the natives, the very one who greeted me, now called out a few words to me. I didn't understand her, but I concluded from the gesture that he wanted the bottle. He understood my nod correctly. He also seemed to understand my looks, searching for a sound. In short, he relieved me of the trouble, let his canoe run on the steamer, which was slowly gliding through the water, and in a few seconds was in the midst of the frightened ladies who diverged. The mild horror was easy to explain. The man stood before them in the robe with which he was born, without any other thread than the cord looped around his navel. - With a quick glance he found out that he was not threatened by a hostile attack from our side. That made him safe, and he approached me freely and openly and gave me a short speech, which he concluded with a gesture that I took as a request. I took the bottle, pulled out the cork, and put it to my lips. The brown one carefully followed every movement and since my beard prevented him from observing the swallowing movement, he hesitated for a minute. The first officer made clever use of this break. He took the bottle from my hand, showed the wild one his beardless chin, and then took a long drag from it.

"You see how it runs down, Braunfell!" He exclaimed while I tried to save the contents for the savage. The situation was so comical that it caused roaring laughter among the bystanders, to which the savage joined in heartily.

Whether the boat occupants had interpreted the salmon volley as an invitation or whether it drove curiosity, in short, in the next instant about forty men were sitting in the bulwarks of our steamer. From their astonished expressions I deduced that they had never seen a ship like this before, and still less had they met with beings who enveloped themselves in the manner of the ladies.

The appearance of so many natives seemed to be pleasant neither to the captain nor to the savage who had just arrived. The officer had conveyed my warning to the former, and although he had broken into his mocking laugh at that too, he probably thought differently about the visit now. But the savage feared for his "fire water" which he had to share with the others. Both now turned to me, and since the captain knew as little as the savage that my language skills had long since come to an end, both spoke to me. I understood so much that the captain forbade any further visits. Since I thought an address to Braunfell would be hopeless from the start, I asked the captain to activate the steam siren. I had high hopes for the release of steam and the howl that followed.

I was not disappointed. The conversation between the visibly angry captain and me had of course not escaped the attention of the natives, who were still shyly crouching on the railing. They saw that the captain ran up the stairs to the navigating bridge and pulled a line there. As soon as the steam hissed, some of the more fearful slid down the hull. The first howling sound, however, made the others disappear in a flash. - while everyone rushed to the railing to watch the behavior of the savages, I ran to the bridge.

"Stop the machine, for God's sake, Captain!" I shouted and started the telegraph on my own. "The canoes drift backwards and get caught in the screw ..."

In fact, a dreadful misfortune was only avoided by a hair's breadth. The last turn of the decommissioned propeller hit the boom of a boat and splintered it. The natives, however, rowed out of the realm of the monster as if their lives were at stake.

The Washington continued its voyage through the islands with the greatest caution. Shortly before nightfall, the volcano on Wahitahi was seen, which was covered with a dark red glowing cap of smoke as it grew dark. Hundreds of flickering lights dancing on the sea surrounded the islands of the Haogroup. Here natives were busy catching the stairs. The approach of our brightly lit colossus aroused superstitious horror even among these savages. The numerous boats drifted apart in a wild flight and saved themselves on the many small islands.

At sunrise we saw a small steamer emerging from a group of atolls. He ran alongside us for a while and then raised the French customs flag. When the Washington let out the stars and stripes, it came within shouting distance. He asked where we were going and from where and when we were informed that we were going to call at the main port of the Society Islands, Papeete, he asked whether we had the latest nautical charts. For half a year now, the depths between the atolls of the Moroccan group have changed and navigation there is dangerous. After this kind advice, he turned away and disappeared where he had come from. Our captain cursed.

"If the damned guy couldn't tell us where we're going to get a pilot here who knows the fairway, we can't go back."

"If we go around the group south, there is no danger," replied the first. "Here on the map there are depths of more than four thousand yards all over the place, and so the bottom doesn't rise and we shouldn't keep a few feet of water under the keel."

“Still, it remains an unpleasant story. I shouldn't have let myself be tempted to leave the old route. But there comes a person like that and God knows something in the head of the passengers and I have to deal with something like that! Oh, it's for ... "

He swallowed the rest of the sentence because the lady who had caused the captain to make the detour was just stepping onto the upper deck. I decided to take revenge. "You have probably heard, Miss Gould, that you were mentioned at that very moment," I said after the polite greeting.

“Oh, this is new to me! Who was bothering me? "

“The gentlemen on the bridge. After having thought of me lovingly, they also spoke of the passenger who led the captain to steer through these magnificent islands. It was you, if I remember correctly. "

“Yes, and I'm glad I saw the savages so close yesterday. That's a very rare thing on pleasure boats. The captain must have been pleased about it, too? "

“From what I have just heard, unfortunately I have to believe the opposite. He regretted allowing himself to be tempted to steer this course. "

"What? Did the captain say that? Is that possible? Didn't you misunderstand him? "

“I was standing here and the two gentlemen were talking on the bridge above me. A misunderstanding is impossible. It seemed to me as if they were not very comfortable in this almost unknown fairway ... "

My speech was interrupted by the captain. He had heard my every word as well as I had heard his utterance before. A bright anger was painted on his face as he stepped up to the lady and offered her his morning greeting. But she interrupted him, without returning his greeting, with the words: “I just heard that you regret showing us these islands? May I know why? "

Since I made no move to leave him, he couldn't very well deny the fact. He cited the information provided by the French steamer and the inadequate maps that he had:

"If we should really get stuck on a shoal, we are helpless at the mercy of the savages, and unfortunately I cannot take the responsibility," he concluded.

But the lady seemed to be looking at the matter from a different point of view. She replied coolly:

“Oh, I didn't know you were afraid of the poor brown people. Just don't take my wishes into consideration, sir. I will return here on another ship on another voyage. - will you come with me, Mr. Emmerich? "

With that she left the stunned captain and continued the walk on deck by my side.

We steered a southwest course and, with the setting sun, sighted the small Nengonengo Islands, on whose reefs trepang fishermen were again active. Yesterday evening some passengers had already expressed the wish to take a closer look at this work of the natives. Today the captain would not have been averse to sacrificing half an hour near the fishermen, but when the question was asked at table, there was no longer any interest in it. - The captain thought it was good to use hidden allusions to portray myself as the author of the obstruction, and since all eyes were on me, I did not remain silent either.

"I don't know why the captain honors me in bringing my person into connection with the tour of the holothuria fishery," I said, turning to the general public. “I know this way of extracting trepang very well and if I gave exhaustive information on the questions that were put to me, it should encourage inspection. However, I did not hide the fact that I had doubts about the holothuria catches operated here, since I have never heard that the natives of these islands use the sea cucumbers as food. But for that very reason it would be very pleasant for me personally if I could be certain about it. "

"You will understand," replied the captain quickly, that I cannot keep the ladies waiting because of a single passenger ... "

"Absolutely, sir," I interrupted. "I also attach less importance to it as I leave this hospitable ship in Papeete and want to spend a few weeks visiting the most beautiful of these islands and staying there."

With that the matter was settled, to the captain's quiet satisfaction, and he was able to get his way until the bright day gave him the courage to set the ship west-northwest again with a three-man lookout. That brought us close to a small island Hereheretue, in the reefs of which a sailing ship was anchored. Numerous canoes enlivened the inland water, some of which emerged from the coral belt as we approached and obviously intended to enter into communication with us. The canoes were full of glorious fruits that gave us a tempting smile. But our ship's command did not seem to be in the mood to do barter deals with the natives, although the officer on the bridge could not avoid the ladies' demanding exclamations.

Then it was Miss Gould again who spoke up and called to the first to the bridge:

“Don't want to slow them down. We would like to buy some fresh fruit from the natives after the long journey. There is no danger of an attack here, for a sailing ship is anchored over there which certainly has fewer crews than our steamer. However, it is an English ship ... "

The clank of the engine telegraph, which transmitted the slow speed signal to the engine, interrupted the lady's speech, the order came from the bridge to lower the stairs and the boatswain's whistle ordered a few sailors to watch and regulate the traffic on the landing stage.

A few minutes later beautiful natives were dragging masses of the most wonderful fruits onto deck, which the passengers had bought in the blink of an eye. However, it had its difficulties with the payment. The natives did not know money. As payment for the coconuts, which they delivered to the sailing ships once a year in the form of copra, they only received barter items, mainly flour and rice. I myself kept all the little things with me that are very popular with all natives who live far away from world traffic and I therefore started to pay my share with red and green glass beads. The jubilation that this triggered in the brown beauties also caused our ladies to look around in their suitcases and now a vast number of objects came to light, which in a short time turned our deck into a large general store. In the exchange deal, friendships quickly developed between whites and browns, and although neither understood the other, there was soon general fraternization and jubilation and happiness.

It was only natural that during this fraternization the wish was expressed to visit the natives on their island. A few very young women at first hesitantly came forward with the suggestion. It quickly caught on, and soon afterwards the captain was surrounded by supplicants of all ages and genders. Since this time it was not just the ladies who came forward with the desire to go ashore, he gave in after a brief consultation with his officers. A large boat was lowered into the water and the number of those pressing was so great that it suddenly could not carry them. A number of gentlemen were therefore first sent over - I was one of them - so that the ladies would have the necessary protection by their side! Oh my god! The harmless folk did not even think of offending the strange visitors!

Our strong sailors rowed us to the island in half an hour, which actually consisted of three parts that had formed on the back of a circular coral bank. Inside the reef was still water, clear and transparent, so that it allowed a look deep down on the terraced walls rising from the sea, and showed us the wonder animals of the South Seas in shades of green and deep blue. The inland water was animated by numerous native kanoes, who drove fully loaded from the beach to the sailor in order to hand over their goods there for barter items. Each individual canoe team immediately had the equivalent value for the delivered goods handed over, which of course took a long time and led to eternal disputes. How the poor islanders must have been betrayed before such suspicions could take root in them! A strong current drove us quickly through the narrow driveway into the calm water of the circular cauldron and now even I, the traveler used to tropical splendor, escaped an exclamation of admiration. A true paradise lay before us. Sky-high palm trees broke their way through a blossom-strewn jungle of huge deciduous trees, magnificent orchids and other beautifully blooming epiphytes stretched their sweet-smelling cups towards the sun and golden fruits shone in abundance from the undergrowth. - Hidden under coconut trees, an elongated village of huts erected on low stilts stretched along the larger of the islands. In order to be able to enjoy the sight of the paradisiacal flora for a longer time, I suggested first heading for one of the apparently uninhabited islands and driving along its beach to the village. As we approached the bank, flocks of seabirds rose from the bushes at the edge. Numerous turtles of the splendid species that the tortoiseshell gives us ( Testudo imbricata), hurried towards the protective water, while a couple of black pigs curiously rushed over to greet the strange newcomers.

In front of the village our appearance called the whole population to the beach. One looked at the unseen ladies with undisguised astonishment, but the women showed no fear, instead approached us frankly and even helped our female companions to leave the boat. As a thank you for this and to introduce us well, I distributed a few handfuls of glass beads, which also caused great joy.

As soon as we had stepped on the beach, the boat pushed off again to bring the next load of curious people. This apparently aroused the suspicion of the villagers, who probably believed that the strangers were trying to drive them out of their homes.We tried in vain to prove the opposite to the people; they shyly backed away from us men and sought protection on their lower platforms Huts. (One of the women took a large tritone clam and elicited loud noises from it. That was a signal for the men who were busy with the schooner. We saw that two canoes were detached from the sailor and rowed back in a hurry. They did not steer, however towards the village, but went ashore a few hundred meters below. In a hurry they disappeared into the forest. There they met the woman who informed them of the presumed intention of the white people and asked them to protect their property. - The four men showed Real courage, armed with bows and arrows, they came within fifty meters of us and the elder of them asked us in his Pijin English why we were attacking their village.

At least Run was given the possibility of an understanding. One of our fellow passengers spoke this mangled English fluently. After the villagers had been made aware of our peaceful intention and the desire to get to know them in their way of life, the joy knew no bounds. As on board, a close friendship between the races was formed in no time at all. When the boat moored again, this time bringing the majority of women, the chief believed it owed his guests to interrupt work on the schooner. The shell called back all the canoes and soon the beach was teeming with bare islanders and Americans of both sexes dressed in airy fabrics. There were well over forty brown men and almost as many women there, who gave the sixty steamer guests a real native festival. The men dragged in what they thought was worthy of the high visitors. Large, beautifully drawn fish, pigeon-like birds and even a piglet adorned the quickly improvised feast. With marvelous speed the natives kindled a huge fire on the beach, put the fish on the tips of their arrows and let them roast over a bright fire. With the sea creatures prepared in this way, they approached the ladies and offered them what they thought was a delicious delicacy. Since I had already made the passengers aware on the outward journey that the natives saw a deadly insult in the refusal to eat, everyone took the gift given with a desperate glance at the neighbor, for no one had cutlery and without this cultural prop probably only very few enjoyed a meal. So I started by grabbing both ends of my fish and taking a hearty bite. I didn't notice that it was only half cooked.

Now some ladies followed my example. It was delightful to see how awkward they were doing. However, I encouraged her to take a bite by calling out to my table lady:

“Don't mind your white dress, Miss Price. Before you enter the Washington, it glows in all colors. The fish is still harmless to the pigeons. And when the roast pork is served, we literally swim in fat. "

“Stop it,” cried the lady, horrified, “we shouldn't eat everything that's lying around here. You can fill our whole team with that for a few days. "

“That's not all, dear lady. You hear that a young bristle animal is being pulled to the fire by the ears. That is the highlight. While it is roasting, we are given the birds that lie here to pass the time. If I may advise, pick a young pigeon because if you catch a cockatoo, they'll chew on it in the morning. See, here is a little pigeon. "

I looked for one from the pile and drew my pocket knife to eviscerate it. I also offered my services to my lady.

"You have to pluck the pigeons first," she cried with a comical gesture when she noticed that I was stepping towards the opening of the body.

"Oh no, my dearest, that is a point of view that the savages have long since overcome," I replied, amused. “There are customs here that we don't know much about. Do you see the yellow pile there? This is clay. The gutted bird is wrapped in these - that is, the savages also consider gutting superfluous - and form a hermetically sealed lump out of it. You throw it into the hot ashes and you will be amazed how good the animal tastes. "

"How do you know this type of preparation?" Asked Miss Price, amazed at the description.

“Um, I met her in New Guinea more than ten years ago. I almost became a part of the suffering at such a meal. "

"God, how interesting!"

“Well, it wasn't at all for me, because I was sitting pretty close to the savage skewer. I didn't find the critical moment all that interesting. - But there comes the gem, the piglet ... Look to the side, Miss, because you are just moving the poor cattle from life to death. "

"God, how cruel!" Cried the lady when she heard that the animal's skull had been beaten in with a club. But she looked over at the group anyway. Suddenly she called out anxiously:

“Who is the grave being thrown for there? You see, you're digging a deep hole. Nobody is killed, is it? "

“Except for the pig, and it survived that. Incidentally, this is the pit for this dead man. It is fried in it. "

"Oh no, you're making fun of my ignorance!"

“I would never dare! As I say, if you pay close attention you will see that I am right. - By the way, our pigeons are ready. The wild ladies are already distributing the food. You will be delighted when you see that we take their customs into account. "

I took the two lumps of clay that were very cracked and knocked them apart with a stone.

“Here, my lady! As you can see, skin and feathers sit in the clay that has been burned to stone, while the meat is cooked appetizingly. The feathered roasts are not prepared that neatly here. "

"If only I had a knife ..."

“It's not common in this country. Follow my example. Do you need your delicate fingers ... "

"But the grease stains me!"

“I have already had the honor of drawing your attention to the fact that your clothes are returning on board in a rather colorful play of colors. Do not pay any further attention to it. We are not all better off. - Take heart! Tear off the wing first ... Look that way! "

Reluctantly, as if it were an operation, Miss Price tugged on the piano. But it wasn't that easy. It was only when she pulled hard on it that the bone gave way. At the same time, however, a jet of liquid grease poured over her blouse, which elicited a cry of horror.

"Now you don't have to worry about your dress any more," I consoled. “Be glad it's time. You will like the food better. - By the way, the pig is prepared there. Are you also interested in getting to know how it is prepared? "

We climbed over a couple of brown sprouts lying in the sand next to us and, with the remains of the pigeon in our hands, went to the pit around which the natives gathered in close rows; they looked forward to the feast in advance. - In the depression lay the gutted pig, bedded on green banana leaves. A woman was just filling the inside of the animal with pliers-like, split bamboo sticks that had been heated to red embers in the ashes of the fire. Then she put a layer of smaller glowing pebbles on the outside of it and covered it with a layer of green leaves. The whole thing was thrown with a thick layer of earth. As the natives turned back to the fire, we too returned to our place. Miss Price had meanwhile found an opportunity to "lose" her pigeon. She was just expressing her satisfaction when a handsome brown fellow approached her and brought her a brown roller on the arrow.

"For God's sake, what is that?" She asked, horrified.

"Take it. Otherwise the young man is offended. Bite off a piece of it and he'll go again. "

“Can you eat that? I'm so full! "

"This is the transition to the roast pork," I said. “The guests need to be kept busy. - Please, bite into it ... the brown one is already wrinkling his forehead. "

"If I only knew what that is!"

"I'll tell you then ... well, it tastes pretty good, doesn't it?"

“Yes, not bad, like an oyster.” - “These are holothurias. The animals we talked about on board last night. When dried, they are called Trepang, they live on algae that they graze on the coral islands. All South Sea islanders love the food. You will admit it doesn't taste bad. "

"Indeed. I am beginning to understand that the islanders are gourmets. The dishes that were offered to us are also part of our finer cuisine. Fish, pigeons, sea animals, roast pork ... «

"And what follows: I see eggs, lobsters, turtles ..."

'But we don't want to eat all of that, do we? No, no, I am not bringing anything down. "

“I'm just hearing some of the ladies over there say the same thing. But there will be nothing else left. "

"Then I'll let myself be rowed on board!"

'Do you think the sailors are missing out on a good roast pork opportunity? You would call for them in vain. "

"Then row me over!"

“The boat is too heavy for that. Outside the wind is right towards the land and I cannot row against the wind and current alone. "

“Oh, some of our masters will help you. I'll ask in a moment. "

Miss Price returned after a while, rather meekly.

“The gentlemen show no desire to return on board now. The ladies also want to stay.

After dinner there would be a dance and you don't want to miss it. "

The prospect of the dance seemed to have given my companion back her appetite. She only fought weakly against the greasy roast pork, which was brought back to her by the handsome fellow who served the holothuria. The fact that the dress came off very badly at meal no longer mattered. Miss Price accepted the seagull eggs and the roasted lobster from the hand of the same native just as readily.

In the meantime, a few men and women had got up and looked around the huts. Little by little the others followed, and in order not to sit alone by the fire with my lady, I got up too. At that moment the gallant young islander offered his canoe for a trip to the reefs. I refused, but my companion thought she should accept.

"Oh, we'll be right back!" She shouted. “The cool breeze will do me good. Expect me here at this point. "

“Then I'll wander through the woods, we can't miss each other. The boat returns to Washington at six o'clock. - enjoy yourself, Miss Price. "

The island did not offer anything particularly valuable to the explorer. There were many ironwood trees between the palm trees ( Cordia), which are already rare on the South Sea Islands today. As the name suggests, your wood is very durable and therefore in great demand. Since no one tries to stop the overexploitation, the time is not far off when the last tree will have disappeared.- There were very numerous spiders and ants that were probably transplanted here by ships, because every trading ship in the tropics has its ant fauna and brings all kinds of these insects from one area to another. Most of all I was wondering about the occurrence of the great atlas moth ( Attacus atlas), which is native to the Sunda Islands and India. - A siren sound from the steamer warned to return. When I got to the beach, I found a beautiful young Carett turtle, which I later adored to a nature lover in Papeete.

Only a few passengers answered the call. I was the third to show up. Little by little, a few older men and women appeared. Since the boatswain declared that he had to return on board in response to the signal, he raised the anchor and sailed homeward, not without often turning his searching gaze backwards. Just as we were passing through we saw Miss Price climbing around on the coral reef with the native; we steered close to her and invited her to jump into our boat, as night would fall in a few minutes. She shrugged off with a laugh and replied that she would come with the next boat. She wanted to swim a little beforehand. The captain was extremely angry with the sluggishness of his passengers. He took out his anger on the boatswain, who of course was not to blame. From the harsh words addressed to this poor devil, it was easy to see who was meant by the apostrophe. - At the end of his speech he let the siren roar for a long time and then dispatched the boat again. He urged the boatswain to bring all the passengers back this time as quickly as possible. He did not consider, however, that the boat could only hold forty heads at the most and that at least fifty passengers were still on the island. At first I wanted to draw his attention to the disproportion, but then preferred to let things take their course. I want you to see how you finished!