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Captain Elijah Coe
by [?]

Puna Punou lies in 14th South exactly, though the writer keeps back the longitood for reasons that will soon be understood by the gentle reader–if the gentle reader is patient and won’t skip. Not that there is any buried treasure there, or any foolishness of that kind; it’s girls mostly, and pearl shell and cocoanuts, that Puna Punou produces, and you don’t need no chart with red crosses from my dying hands to find any of them. But Mrs. Tweedie is still alive, and likewise Elijah Coe, and I’d be acting like the son of a sea cook if I did a hand’s turn to hurt either. Of course it’s an old story now, going back to the days before the bottom had dropped out of copra, and there was still money to be made in beach-la-mar and fungus. Oh, my, yes! a long time ago, before steam ever got into the Group, before law and order and compulsory vaccination, and an hour and a half of Deputy Commissioner every nine months.

It was always a mighty fine island to look at, rising sheer from the sea to basaltic cliffs, and high needlelike pinnacles, and forested solid from the water’s edge to almost the top; and off the main settlement of Fale a Lupo there was good holding ground in six fathoms. A tidy little island, indeed, and I’d never raise it of a dawn, and all its palms and beaches and little basket-work houses peeping out of the deep shade, but I’d feel glad all over again that it was there, and breathe in the fragrant smell of it like a child happy at getting home from school. I guess the people there helped a lot, too, for they were the handsomest in the Pacific, and it was a regular port of call for the whalers to take in green stuff, girls, fresh water, and firewood.

In the old days it was the Rev. John Geer who ran the missionary mill, and taught the heathen to put their pennies in the plate and wear pants–not that they ever did the last to any alarming extent, except in the annual reports that were sent back to be printed East; while Mrs. Geer she homeopathed the island and inculcurated the principles of female virtoo in the young. But after twenty-one years of it the Geers returned home to Connecticut, and the Tweedies were landed from the Olive Branch barkentine, to take their places in that section of the world’s vineyard.

Tweedie was a hay-colored little man, narrer chested and tallowy, but if ever there was a copper-riveted Christian from Christianville I guess he was it ! Meek! Why he was happy to get slapped, he was that pleased to turn the other cheek; and if you took away his cloak, he was the kind of fellar who wanted you to take his panjammers extra. Had no spirit at all, and the Kanakas walked over him scandalous. But it was his wife I wanted to tell about, Alethea Tweedie; for if ever there was an angel from heaven, with the prettiest blue eyes, and hair like streaming gold, and the cherriest lips you ever saw out of a chromo, and teeth whiter than–than–(it don’t sound right to say a shark’s) it was that peerless creature.

How Tweedie could have captured such a bang-up stunner was hard to understand then, and harder afterwards. A king on his throne might have been glad to win Alethea Tweedie for his queen, and captains and supercargoes would have knifed each other for a single smile, if she had been the kind to lead them on–which, Lord bless me! was the last thought she had in her curly head. I suppose she came from one of them little places back East where it’s all women for miles, and they rate anything a man that can raise a whisker! Thrown away, that’s what the beach called it, and misdoubted whether Tweedie wasn’t a girl, too, only with drill trousers instead of panties.