Island Nights’ Entertainments – Robert Louis Stevenson.
The Beach of Falesa
A south sea bridal
Night in the bush
The Bottle Imp
The Isle of voices
THE BEACH OF FALESA.
CHAPTER I. A SOUTH SEA BRIDAL.
I SAW that island first when it was neither night nor morning. The
Moon was to the west, setting, but still broad and bright. To the
East, and right amidships of the dawn, which was all pink, the
Daystar sparkled like a diamond. The land breeze blew in our
Faces, and smelt strong of wild lime and vanilla: other things
Besides, but these were the most plain; and the chill of it set me
Sneezing. I should say I had been for years on a low island near
The line, living for the most part solitary among natives. Here
Was a fresh experience: even the tongue would be quite strange to
Me; and the look of these woods and mountains, and the rare smell
Of them, renewed my blood.
The captain blew out the binnacle lamp.
“There!” said he, “there goes a bit of smoke, Mr. Wiltshire, behind
The break of the reef. That’s Falesa, where your station is, the
Last village to the east; nobody lives to windward – I don’t know
Why. Take my glass, and you can make the houses out.”
I took the glass; and the shores leaped nearer, and I saw the
Tangle of the woods and the breach of the surf, and the brown roofs
And the black insides of houses peeped among the trees.
“Do you catch a bit of white there to the east’ard?” the captain
Continued. “That’s your house. Coral built, stands high, verandah
You could walk on three abreast; best station in the South Pacific.
When old Adams saw it, he took and shook me by the hand. ‘I’ve
into a soft thing here,’ says he. – ‘So you have,’ says I,
‘and time too!’ Poor Johnny! I never saw him again but the once,
And then he had changed his tune – couldn’t get on with the
Natives, or the whites, or something; and the next time we came
Round there he was dead and buried. I took and put up a bit of a
Stick to him: ‘John Adams, OBIT eighteen and sixty-eight. Go thou
And do likewise.’ I missed that man. I never could see much harm
“What did he die of?” I inquired.
“Some kind of sickness,” says the captain. “It appears it took him
Sudden. Seems he got up in the night, and filled up on Pain-Killer
And Kennedy’s Discovery. No go: he was booked beyond Kennedy.
Then he had tried to open a case of gin. No go again: not strong
Enough. Then he must have turned to and run out on the verandah,
And capsized over the rail. When they found him, the next day, he
Was clean crazy – carried on all the time about somebody watering
His copra. Poor John!”
“Was it thought to be the island?” I asked.
“Well, it was thought to be the island, or the trouble, or
Something,” he replied. “I never could hear but what it was a
Healthy place. Our last man, Vigours, never turned a hair. He
Left because of the beach – said he was afraid of Black Jack and
Case and Whistling Jimmie, who was still alive at the time, but got
Drowned soon afterward when drunk. As for old Captain Randall,
He’s been here any time since eighteen-forty, forty-five. I never
Could see much harm in Billy, nor much change. Seems as if he
Might live to be Old Kafoozleum. No, I guess it’s healthy.”
“There’s a boat coming now,” said I. “She’s right in the pass;
Looks to be a sixteen-foot whale; two white men in the stern