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Omoo, a novel by Herman Melville


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_ FIVE days and nights, if I remember right, we were aboard the frigate.
On the afternoon of the fifth, we were told that the next morning she
sailed for Valparaiso. Rejoiced at this, we prayed for a speedy
passage. But, as it turned out, the consul had no idea of letting us
off so easily. To our no small surprise, an officer came along toward
night, and ordered us out of irons. Being then mustered in the
gangway, we were escorted into a cutter alongside, and pulled ashore.

Accosted by Wilson as we struck the beach, he delivered us up to a
numerous guard of natives, who at once conducted us to a house near
by. Here we were made to sit down under a shade without; and the
consul and two elderly European residents passed by us, and entered.

After some delay, during which we were much diverted by the hilarious
good-nature of our guard--one of our number was called out for,
followed by an order for him to enter the house alone.

On returning a moment after, he told us we had little to encounter. It
had simply been asked whether he still continued of the same mind; on
replying yes, something was put down upon a piece of paper, and he
was waved outside. All being summoned in rotation, my own turn came
at last.

Within, Wilson and his two friends were seated magisterially at a
table--an inkstand, a pen, and a sheet of paper lending quite a
business-like air to the apartment. These three gentlemen, being
arrayed in coats and pantaloons, looked respectable, at least in a
country where complete suits of garments are so seldom met with. One
present essayed a solemn aspect; but having a short neck and full
face, only made out to look stupid.

It was this individual who condescended to take a paternal interest in
myself. After declaring my resolution with respect to the ship
unalterable, I was proceeding to withdraw, in compliance with a sign
from the consul, when the stranger turned round to him, saying, "Wait
a minute, if you please, Mr. Wilson; let me talk to that youth. Come
here, my young friend: I'm extremely sorry to see you associated with
these bad men; do you know what it will end in?"

"Oh, that's the lad that wrote the Round Robin," interposed the
consul. "He and that rascally doctor are at the bottom of the whole
affair--go outside, sir."

I retired as from the presence of royalty; backing out with many

The evident prejudice of Wilson against both the doctor and myself was
by no means inexplicable. A man of any education before the mast is
always looked upon with dislike by his captain; and, never mind how
peaceable he may be, should any disturbance arise, from his
intellectual superiority, he is deemed to exert an underhand
influence against the officers.

Little as I had seen of Captain Guy, the few glances cast upon me
after being on board a week or so were sufficient to reveal his
enmity--a feeling quickened by my undisguised companionship with Long
Ghost, whom he both feared and cordially hated. Guy's relations with
the consul readily explains the latter's hostility.

The examination over, Wilson and his friends advanced to the doorway;
when the former, assuming a severe expression, pronounced our
perverseness infatuation in the extreme. Nor was there any hope left:
our last chance for pardon was gone. Even were we to become contrite
and crave permission to return to duty, it would not now be

"Oh! get along with your gammon, counsellor," exclaimed Black Dan,
absolutely indignant that his understanding should be thus insulted.

Quite enraged, Wilson bade him hold his peace; and then, summoning a
fat old native to his side, addressed him in Tahitian, giving
directions for leading us away to a place of safe keeping.

Hereupon, being marshalled in order, with the old man at our head, we
were put in motion, with loud shouts, along a fine pathway, running
far on through wide groves of the cocoa-nut and bread-fruit.

The rest of our escort trotted on beside us in high good-humour;
jabbering broken English, and in a hundred ways giving us to
understand that Wilson was no favourite of theirs, and that we were
prime, good fellows for holding out as we did. They seemed to know
our whole history.

The scenery around was delightful. The tropical day was fast drawing
to a close; and from where we were, the sun looked like a vast red
fire burning in the woodlands--its rays falling aslant through the
endless ranks of trees, and every leaf fringed with flame. Escaped
from the confined decks of the frigate, the air breathed spices to
us; streams were heard flowing; green boughs were rocking; and far
inland, all sunset flushed, rose the still, steep peaks of the

As we proceeded, I was more and more struck by the picturesqueness of
the wide, shaded road. In several places, durable bridges of wood
were thrown over large water-courses; others were spanned by a single
arch of stone. In any part of the road, three horsemen might have
ridden abreast.

This beautiful avenue--by far the best thing which civilization has
done for the island--is called by foreigners "the Broom Road," though
for what reason I do not know. Originally planned for the convenience
of the missionaries journeying from one station to another, it almost
completely encompasses the larger peninsula; skirting for a distance
of at least sixty miles along the low, fertile lands bordering the
sea. But on the side next Taiarboo, or the lesser peninsula, it
sweeps through a narrow, secluded valley, and thus crosses the island
in that direction.

The uninhabited interior, being almost impenetrable from the
densely-wooded glens, frightful precipices, and sharp mountain ridges
absolutely inaccessible, is but little known, even to the natives
themselves; and so, instead of striking directly across from one
village to another, they follow the Broom Road round and round.

It is by no means, however, altogether travelled on foot; horses being
now quite plentiful. They were introduced from Chili; and possessing
all the gaiety, fleetness, and docility of the Spanish breed, are
admirably adapted to the tastes of the higher classes, who as
equestrians have become very expert. The missionaries and chiefs
never think of journeying except in the saddle; and at all hours of
the day you see the latter galloping along at full speed. Like the
Sandwich Islanders, they ride like Pawnee-Loups.

For miles and miles I have travelled the Broom Road, and never wearied
of the continual change of scenery. But wherever it leads
you--whether through level woods, across grassy glens, or over hills
waving with palms--the bright blue sea on one side, and the green
mountain pinnacles on the other, are always in sight. _



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