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Cloud Of Butterflies
by [?]

Behind Apia, on the edge of the Taufusi swamp, was a small collection of huts, jumbled together in squalor and dirt, with pigs dozing in the ooze and slatternly women beating out siapo in the shade. It was a dunghill of out-islanders, Nieues, Uveans, Tongans, Tapatueans, banded together in a common poverty; landless people of other archipelagoes, despised of the Samoans, and paying tribute to the lord of the soil–a few men in war; a grudging hog in times of peace.

Here lived O’olo, a boy of twenty, whose chief-like face, and fine manly bearing marked him as one apart in that nest of outcasts. He was of Tongan blood, though all he knew of his parents was that they had escaped from Nukualofa at the time of the Persecution, and had died in Samoa when he was a child. Old Siosi, who had adopted him, could tell him no more than that; not that O’olo asked many questions, being content to drift on the ocean of life, and careless of anything save what belonged to the day. He weeded taro, occasionally worked for thirty-five cents a day at the unloading of ships; stole bread-fruit and bananas up the mountain, and slept peacefully at night on the stones of Siosi’s floor.

If ever he envied the Samoans, the mood was brief, and seldom darkened his spirits for long. To him the Samoans were a race above, with splendid houses, and spacious lands, and a haughty contempt for such an eat-bush at O’olo, the Tongan; and O’olo looked up at them mightily, and respected them as a dog does a man, though sometimes he said: “I wish God had made me a Samoan”; and then the swamp appeared very dismal to O’olo, and the huts mean and noisome, and the mallets seemed to be pounding on his heart instead of the suddy bark.

Now it happened that a new clergyman came to the coral church on the other side of the coconut grove, and what was more important to O’olo brought with him a lovely daughter. O’olo did not know how important it was till he first met Evanitalina in the path, and was so suddenly stricken with her beauty that he had hardly the sense to make way for her to pass. Slim and graceful, with her glossy hair gathered at the nape with a ribbon, and her bright lavalava kilted to the knee, she gave O’olo a glance as sparkling as moonlight on a pool, all her young womanhood alive to his confusion, and quick to divine its cause. Though her eyes had scarcely dwelt on him an instant, she had seen enough for her heart to say: ” Panga! What a handsome youth”; and was filled with a strange elation in which there was a dart of pain.

On her return O’olo was still where she had left him, though in his hand was a crimson aute blossom that had not been there before; and when she drew close he held it out, saying: “Oh, lady, here is a little worthless gift!” She took it smiling, and put it behind her ear, and had it been a pig or a fine mat no sweeter could have been her words of gratitude, for Evanitalina had been well brought up, and courtesy was as natural to her as breathing.

“I am named O’olo,” said the young man, “and if you like aute blossoms, every day shall I bring you some.”

“I am Evanitalina, the daughter of Samuelu, the clergyman,” she returned, “and I shall be glad of the blossoms, for as yet thy father has tabooed no lands for our garden.”

Then O’olo realized she had mistaken him for the son of Amatuanai, the chief, and while flattered he was also much cast down.