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How Pango Wango Was Annexed
by [?]

Blithelygo and I were at Levuka, Fiji, languidly waiting for some “trader” or mail-steamer to carry us away anywhere. Just when we were bored beyond endurance and when cigars were running low, a Fijian came to us and said: “That fellow, white fellow, all a-same a-you, long a-shore. Pleni sail. Pleni Melican flag.”

We went to the beach, and there was Jude Van Blaricom, our American. We had left him in New Zealand at the Pink Terraces, bidding him an eternal farewell. We wished it so. But we had met him afterwards at Norfolk Island, and again at Sydney, and we knew now that we should never cease to meet him during our sojourn on this earth.

An hour later we were on board his yacht, Wilderness, being introduced to MacGregor, the captain, to Mr. Dagmar Caramel, C.M.G., his guest, and to some freshly made American cocktails. Then we were shown over the Wilderness. She looked as if she had been in the hands of a Universal Provider. Evidently the American had no intention of roughing it. His toilet requisites were a dream. From the dazzling completeness of the snug saloon we were taken aft to see two coops filled with fowls. “Say,” said the American, “how’s that for fresh meat?” Though a little ashamed of it, we then and there accepted the Chicagonian’s invitation to take a cruise with him in the South Pacific. For days the cruise was pleasant enough, and then things began to drag. Fortunately there came a new interest in the daily routine. One day Van Blaricom was seen standing with the cook before the fowl coops deeply interested; and soon after he had triumphantly arranged what he called “The Coliseum.” This was an enclosure of canvas chiefly, where we had cock-fights daily. The gladiators were always ready for the arena. One was called U. S., after General U. S. Grant, and the other Bob Lee, after General Robert Lee.

“Go it, U. S. Lift your skewers, you bobtail. Give it to him, you’ve got him in Andersonville, U. S.” Thus, day by day, were the warriors encouraged by Van Blaricom.

There is nothing very elegant or interesting in the record so far, but it all has to do with the annexation of Pango Wango, and, as Blithelygo long afterwards remarked, it shows how nations sometimes acquire territory. Yes, this Coliseum of ours had as much to do with the annexation as had the American’s toilet requisites his hair-oil and perfume bottles. In the South Pacific, a thousand miles from land, Van Blaricom was redolent of new-mown hay and heliotrope.

It was tropically hot. We were in the very middle of the hurricane season. The air had no nerve. Even the gladiators were relaxing their ardour; and soon the arena was cleared altogether, for we were in the midst of a hurricane. It was a desperate time, but just when it seemed most desperate the wheel of doom turned backward and we were saved. The hurricane found us fretful with life by reason of the heat, it left us thankful for being let to live at all; though the Wilderness appeared little better than a drifting wreck. Our commissariat was gone, or almost gone, we hadn’t any masts or sails to speak of, and the cook informed us that we had but a few gallons of fresh water left; yet, strange to say, the gladiators remained to us. When the peril was over it surprised me to remember that Van Blaricom had been comparatively cool through it all; for I had still before me a certain scene at the volcano of Kilauea. I was to be still more surprised.

We were by no means out of danger. MacGregor did not know where we were; the fresh water was vanishing rapidly, and our patch of sail was hardly enough to warrant a breeze taking any interest in it. We had been saved from immediate destruction, but it certainly seemed like exchanging Tophet for a slow fire. When the heat was greatest and the spiritual gloom thickest the American threw out the sand-bags, as it were, and hope mounted again.