In the summer of 1842, the American whaling ship Dolly, after a six-month voyage, reached the Marquesan Archipelago in Polynesia and anchored in the bay of the island of Nukuhiv. Here one of the sailors (later, before the natives, he calls himself Tom), unwilling to endure captain’s tyranny and cruelty, and believing, moreover, that the voyage may overextend, decides to leave the ship. But the ship agreement, which each sailor signed, hiring a whaler, actually gives it up for the time of sailing to power the captain. Therefore, it’s impossible to just stay on the beach: it is necessary to escape and for a few days then hide from the chase sent for the deserted sailor just like a runaway convict, until the search ends and the ship again does
He collects information about the island and its inhabitants in order to develop an escape plan. According to the natives living in the vicinity of the bay, fertile valleys, separated by mountain ranges, exist in other parts of the island, and they are inhabited by various tribes, waging endless wars with each other. The nearest of these valleys belongs to the peace-loving Happer tribe. Behind it lie the possessions of the formidable tribe of the Taipi, whose soldiers inspire an overwhelming fear to all the other islanders. Their very name is terrible: in the local dialect the word “taipe” means “lover of human flesh”. And the glory, about them going, to such a name is quite consistent. The French do not dare to land in their valley. The natives of the bay show scars from wounds received in collisions with them. There is also a legend about an English ship,
Tom understands that there is nowhere to hide in the bay itself: the captain will be pleased enough to promise seducing gifts to the natives – he will be immediately found and given away. If you go into the interior of the island – there is considerable risk of becoming a prey to cannibals. But finding out that the islanders live only deep in the valleys, because
Going ashore with other sailors, Toby and Tom, using a pouring rain, hide in the thickets. Even before sunset, they reach the highest place in the center of the island. Reality, however, deceives their expectations. Nowhere you can see the descent to the valleys – the mountain landscape, intersected by cliffs and ridges, stretches as far as the eye can see, and among the trees growing there are not those breeds whose fruits could serve as food. The fugitives distribute their meager grain stock and begin to search for a more blessed refuge.
Some days they then descend into the gorge, then climb the cliffs. They spend the night on the rocks, building a deciduous roof, which, however, does not save the rain. Bread is coming to an end. Tom begins a fever, and the swollen foot prevents him from moving further. Before him opens one of the valleys, but, mindful of the taipei, they do not immediately dare to enter it. And only after making sure that further climbing over the rocks is no longer possible for them, they go there, relying on providence and hoping that the valley is uninhabited or populated by friendly happars.
Owners at the valley are still there, and meetings with them do not have to wait long. Soon the fugitives enter the native village, and their crowd is surrounded by its curious inhabitants. The natives, although somewhat wary, are generally quite friendly – especially since Tom in time presents as a gift the pieces of chintz seized from the ship and a pack of tobacco. Tom and Toby no longer doubt that everything turned out well and that they are using the Happar hospitality now. But then, when Tom, with the help of gestures and a few words of the local language known to him, tries to explain himself to the native leader, and it turns out that they are among the cannibals of the Taipi.
The savages, whom Toby and Tom see around them, do not inspire terror at all, and to build a fire to immediately roast the aliens, no one seems to be in a hurry. However, it is difficult for Tom to get rid of the suspicion that, outside the courtesy, the islanders hide some bloodthirsty plan, and a hearty welcome is just a prelude to a brutal reprisal. But the night passes, another day – nothing happens; Aborigines are curious as before, but they are already beginning to get used to the presence of white people in the village. They were settled in the house of the famous warrior Marheyo, a young native Kori-Kori is appointed to serve Tom, the first beauty Faiwei is not ignoring him, and the local medicine man is trying, unsuccessfully, to cure his leg. With the leg already so bad that Tom is almost unable to walk. So he asks Toby to get back into the bay and try to get back from there on the French boat, or at least on land with the right medicines. Taipi expresses grief and direct protest about the fact that one of the guests is going to leave them. However, the deplorable state of Tom convinces them of the need for this. Accompanied by Marheio Toby, he travels to the borders of the Taipi territory, and soon the old warrior returns alone, and in a few hours the natives find Toby wounded and without feelings: the “friendly” Happards attacked him before he could land on their land.
But people from the bay, it turns out, and themselves visit these places. Soon, several boats appear on the coast of the Taipei Valley. Contrary to expectations, the excited natives do not intend to attack their command, but bear the fruits for the exchange. No matter how much Tom asks Cory-Corey to help him get there, he refuses to point blankly. Toby Islanders for some reason do not interfere, and he goes with them to inform the arrived, what a distress his friend is in, and ask for help. But when by the end of the day the natives return to the village, Toby is not among them. To Tom’s agitated inquiries, they explain to him that his friend left with the boats and promised to return in three days. However, neither at the appointed time, nor later, Toby does not appear, and Tom does not know whom to suspect: whether Toby himself is in low treachery or savages,
Many years later, having already returned to America long ago, Tom will meet Toby, who will tell him that he really went to the bay, believing that the next day there would be a boat with armed men behind Tom, but he was deceived by the captain of the ship, which the sailors urgently needed, and was taken to the sea.
Left alone, considering his position hopeless, Tom lapses into apathy. But gradually interest in life returns to him. Observing the life and customs of the natives, based on the taboo system, he comes to the conclusion that the opinion that exists about the islanders is deeply mistaken, but the so-called civilized man, with his devilish art in inventing the tools of murder, everywhere carrying with him misfortunes and ruin – by right can be considered the most bloodthirsty creature on earth. In the village, Tom is already considered to be so much his own that they propose to tattoo a person on the person who is obligatory for the members of the tribe – and he should work hard to give up this proposal. They treat him with great respect. For the sake of that he could ride in a shuttle on the lake beautiful Faiwei, for a time even canceled, by some ritual tricks, the strictest taboos, forbidding women to enter boats. But the thoughts of Toby’s fate still haunt him. And although among the dried human heads, accidentally found in the house of Marhey, Toby’s head is not found, such a finding does not add to Tom’s vivacity – especially since one of the heads, undoubtedly, belonged to the white man. The natives carefully conceal from him everything that may indicate their cannibalism. However, sewing in a sack can not be concealed: after a skirmish with the neighbors-happartsy Tom determines the remnants of the feast that the soldiers of the Taipi ate the bodies of the killed enemies. belonged to a white man. The natives carefully conceal from him everything that may indicate their cannibalism. However, sewing in a sack can not be concealed: after a skirmish with the neighbors-happartsy Tom determines the remnants of the feast that the soldiers of the Taipi ate the bodies of the killed enemies. belonged to a white man. The natives carefully conceal from him everything that may indicate their cannibalism. However, sewing in a sack can not be concealed: after a skirmish with the neighbors-happartsy Tom determines the remnants of the feast that the soldiers of the Taipi ate the bodies of the killed enemies.
Pass month by month. Once in the village there is an unusual native of Marna. The taboo lying on it allows him to freely roam from the valley to the valley, from tribe to tribe. He is able to explain in broken English, as often happens in the bay. Marnu hinted unequivocally to Tom that sooner or later he would certainly be eaten – the Taypi are just waiting for him to recover and become strong. Tom decides to run. Marne agrees to help him: he will wait for him with a boat in the next valley, but Tom must hike there himself at night, for the benefit of his leg has gradually begun to recover. However, Tom and the night do not take their eyes off, and the vigilance of watchmen can not be deceived.
A few weeks later, the village is again agitated by the news that boats are seen on the coast, and Tom begs the leaders to let him go this time, if only ashore. Those of the natives who managed to make friends with Tom and fall in love with him, are inclined to let him return with the boats to the bay, the priests and many others say that in no case can this be done. In the end, he is still allowed to go – but only under the protection of fifty warriors. However, a dispute continues between the natives on the shore; Tom, taking advantage of the case and with the connivance of the old Marheio, manages to get to the boat, sent, as it turned out, from the Australian bark specifically to try to bargain for his freedom: Marnu showed up in the bay and on the ship learned that the Taypi were held captive by an American sailor. The natives are swimming after the boat, but the oarsmen manage to repulse the attack. Bark, ready to immediately go to sea, is already waiting for the cape.