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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOmoo - PART II - Chapter LXXVII. A PARTY OF ROVERS--LITTLE LOO AND THE DOCTOR
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Omoo - PART II - Chapter LXXVII. A PARTY OF ROVERS--LITTLE LOO AND THE DOCTOR Post by :SLHoffman Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :1819

Click below to download : Omoo - PART II - Chapter LXXVII. A PARTY OF ROVERS--LITTLE LOO AND THE DOCTOR (Format : PDF)

Omoo - PART II - Chapter LXXVII. A PARTY OF ROVERS--LITTLE LOO AND THE DOCTOR

WHILE IN Partoowye, we fell in with a band of six veteran rovers,
prowling about the village and harbour, who had just come overland
from another part of the island.

A few weeks previous, they had been paid off, at Papeetee, from a
whaling vessel, on board of which they had, six months before,
shipped for a single cruise; that is to say, to be discharged at the
next port. Their cruise was a famous one; and each man stepped upon
the beach at Tahiti jingling his dollars in a sock.

Weary at last of the shore, and having some money left, they clubbed,
and purchased a sail-boat; proposing a visit to a certain uninhabited
island, concerning which they had heard strange and golden stories.
Of course, they never could think of going to sea without a
medicine-chest filled with flasks of spirits, and a small cask of the
same in the hold in case the chest should give out.

Away they sailed; hoisted a flag of their own, and gave three times
three, as they staggered out of the bay of Papeetee with a strong
breeze, and under all the "muslin" they could carry.

Evening coming on, and feeling in high spirits and no ways disposed to
sleep, they concluded to make a night of it; which they did; all
hands getting tipsy, and the two masts going over the side about
midnight, to the tune of

"Sailing down, sailing down, On the coast of Barbaree."

Fortunately, one worthy could stand by holding on to the tiller; and
the rest managed to crawl about, and hack away the lanyards of the
rigging, so as to break clear from the fallen spars. While thus
employed, two sailors got tranquilly over the side, and went plumb to
the bottom, under the erroneous impression that they were stepping
upon an imaginary wharf to get at their work better.

After this, it blew quite a gale; and the commodore, at the helm,
instinctively kept the boat before the wind; and by so doing, ran
over for the opposite island of Imeeo. Crossing the channel, by
almost a miracle they went straight through an opening in the reef,
and shot upon a ledge of coral, where the waters were tolerably
smooth. Here they lay until morning, when the natives came off to
them in their canoes. By the help of the islanders, the schooner was
hove over on her beam-ends; when, finding the bottom knocked to
pieces, the adventurers sold the boat for a trifle to the chief of
the district, and went ashore, rolling before them their precious cask
of spirits. Its contents soon evaporated, and they came to Partoowye.

The day after encountering these fellows, we were strolling among the
groves in the neighbourhood, when we came across several parties of
natives armed with clumsy muskets, rusty cutlasses, and outlandish
clubs. They were beating the bushes, shouting aloud, and apparently
trying to scare somebody. They were in pursuit of the strangers, who,
having in a single night set at nought all the laws of the place, had
thought best to decamp.

In the daytime, Po-Po's house was as pleasant a lounge as one could
wish. So, after strolling about, and seeing all there was to be seen,
we spent the greater part of our mornings there; breakfasting late,
and dining about two hours after noon. Sometimes we lounged on the
floor of ferns, smoking, and telling stories; of which the doctor had
as many as a half-pay captain in the army. Sometimes we chatted, as
well as we could, with the natives; and, one day--joy to us!--Po-Po
brought in three volumes of Smollett's novels, which had been found
in the chest of a sailor, who some time previous had died on the
island.

Amelia!--Peregrine!--you hero of rogues, Count Fathom!--what a debt do
we owe you!

I know not whether it was the reading of these romances, or the want
of some sentimental pastime, which led the doctor, about this period,
to lay siege to the heart of the little Loo.

Now, as I have said before, the daughter of Po-Po was most cruelly
reserved, and never deigned to notice us. Frequently I addressed her
with a long face and an air of the profoundest and most distant
respect--but in vain; she wouldn't even turn up her pretty olive
nose. Ah! it's quite plain, thought I; she knows very well what
graceless dogs sailors are, and won't have anything to do with us.

But thus thought not my comrade. Bent he was upon firing the cold
glitter of Loo's passionless eyes.

He opened the campaign with admirable tact: making cautious
approaches, and content, for three days, with ogling the nymph for
about five minutes after every meal. On the fourth day, he asked her
a question; on the fifth, she dropped a nut of ointment, and he
picked it up and gave it to her; on the sixth, he went over and sat
down within three yards of the couch where she lay; and, on the
memorable morn of the seventh, he proceeded to open his batteries in
form.

The damsel was reclining on the ferns; one hand supporting her cheek,
and the other listlessly turning over the leaves of a Tahitian Bible.
The doctor approached.

Now the chief disadvantage under which he laboured was his almost
complete ignorance of the love vocabulary of the island. But French
counts, they say, make love delightfully in broken English; and what
hindered the doctor from doing the same in dulcet Tahitian. So at it
he went.

"Ah!" said he, smiling bewitchingly, "oee mickonaree; oee ready
Biblee?"

No answer; not even a look.

"Ah I matai! very goody ready Biblee mickonaree."

Loo, without stirring, began reading, in a low tone, to herself.

"Mickonaree Biblee ready goody maitai," once more observed the doctor,
ingeniously transposing his words for the third time.

But all to no purpose; Loo gave no sign.

He paused, despairingly; but it would never do to give up; so he threw
himself at full length beside her, and audaciously commenced turning
over the leaves.

Loo gave a start, just one little start, barely perceptible, and then,
fumbling something in her hand, lay perfectly motionless; the doctor
rather frightened at his own temerity, and knowing not what to do
next. At last, he placed one arm cautiously about her waist; almost
in the same instant he bounded to his feet, with a cry; the little
witch had pierced him with a thorn. But there she lay, just as
quietly as ever, turning over the leaves, and reading to herself.

My long friend raised the siege incontinently, and made a disorderly
retreat to the place where I reclined, looking on.

I am pretty sure that Loo must have related this occurrence to her
father, who came in shortly afterward; for he looked queerly at the
doctor. But he said nothing; and, in ten minutes, was quite as
affable as ever. As for Loo, there was not the slightest change in
her; and the doctor, of course, for ever afterwards held his peace.

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