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W~KE BY CEARLEF CHAUVE THE TORY OF TIte PICTUE SA I * NAPM I -"qDUTrRIBUTED BY UINIVER(AL PICJIJ -

STRANGEST of the tragedies of the "graveyard of the Pacific," the web of reefs and rocks round Pit cairn is the mystery of Elizabeth Island. There the Pitcairners found the skeletons of a man and of a woman in a cave. Six other skeletons and part of a wreck were fqund on the island, but no one knows anything about their history. CIKAPTER NINE. At Malvern Island, a little dot to the north-west of Easter Island, there are great blocks of coral piled one upon the other, capped with dol mens, and it is said that paved ter races of stone can be seen beneath the waters surrounding this little ocean speck. About Mango Reva, to the north of Pitcairn, revolve some :of the most fascinating and curious stories that I have heard. The most fam ous pearls of the dangeroius Archi pelago have been plucked from the great oysters of its lagoons, In whose opalescent depths have aJo been found the skeletons of* warriors whose dead bodies were thus hidden from the cravings of the worst can nibals in the world. Slaves for Priests. It was to Manga" Reva that the fanatical Jesuit priest Laval fol lowed the stories of great wealth, brought to the Peruvian waterfronts 'by the sailors of that day. Laval ,-shipped for Manga Reva and gained the confidence of King Mapateoa, who gave his people as slaves to the priest. This crazed Jesuit built a palatial palace for the king, and an immense cathedral, the roof and walls of which were set with mother of pearl shell. To this cathedral King M-apateoa gave a great pearl which Laval placed on the high al tar, and an immense necklace of black pearls was placed upon the statue of the Madonna. ,As slaves to Laval the Mangareviais worked and perished, leaving a great church on every atoll. The French authorities,...who had Ibeen out of touch with this lonely outpost, heard of the priest's mad ness and the tragic end of thousands who had been pressed into slavery. Laval was removed from Magna Reova, but the damage had been done. His body lies to-day in a crypt in front of the high altar of his great cathedral, and the famous pearls now have a place among the most valuable jewels of the Pope's collec tion. Shepherd of Rapa. Pitcairn's neighbor to the north west is the strangely-shaped Island of Rapa, which was discovered by Vancouver during the year following the arrival of the mutineers at Pit cairn. This island, which is 20 miles in circumference, is a paradise hidden from the world. Lying in. the gentle sub-tropics, with great fertile valleys and flowing streams, it posessses a fine harbor called Aural, is owned by the French, and peopled by a handful of primitive natives and a lone Englishman, who shepherds a flock of sheep and ex pects a boat when he sees one, and even then is often disappointed.

I met this man on my journey across the Pacific ; he had left Rapa to buy sheep in New Zealand, and hhd spent six months waiting for a likely ocean tramp to take him home. There was a time when ten thous and natives lived on the fruits of that beautiful land. To-day that race has, dwindled to a few hundred, and its fruits lie rotting on the ground. Skeleton Isle. Henderson or Elizabeth Island, as it is sometimes marked, is a closer neighbor to Pitcairn, lying only two hundred.miles to the north-east. It is a low-lying island, of about fifteen miles in circumference, and is undu lating and well timbered. It is solely inhabited by pelicans, rats and skeletons, and the only permanent water to be found there is available at springs which ooze through the sand at low tide. The Pitcairners first noticed this island in 1843, when 11 sons of the mutineers sailed there in a whaler, the America. In 1851, no less than 30 Pitcairners visited the island . in an old shell back, the Sharon of Fairhaven, for the purpose of securing timber to build their homes and boats with, as large timber was scarce on Pitcairn. An exhaustive search was made for water, which, besides the springs on the beach, was found on the north west side of the island, slowly drip ping from the roof of a cave. Upon reaching the foot of the cave, the Pitcairners were amazed ,to find a rope ladder dangling from its en trance, and, upon entering, they were shocked with the sight of two human skeletons, male and female, lying together in the cave. There were no marks or signs to give a clue to the mystery, all that could be found being a few perished scraps of clothing lying about the cave. "Island of Moon." Six other skeletons were also found lying in caves and portions of a wrecked ship were found on the beach. Five years ago Pitcairners visited" Henderson Island again, and saw the remains of the two skeletons in the large cave. What ship was it that left its bones on Henderson Island, and of whom were the two skeletons in the big cave who chose to die together? Man and wife or lovers ? A little to the south-east of Hen derson Island is the treacherous. coral isle of Ducie. Old Polyn.:sian chroniclers say that at one time Ducie was a great island known as Hite-Marama, which means the Is land of the Moon. Pitcairn's near est neighbor, the Oeno atoll, marked on all maps as "low and dangerous," is only 70 miles to the north. It is a thirsty, parched circlet of sand and monotonous solitude-of shattered wrecks and strutting bosun birds. Oeno atoll shares with Christmas Is land the dubious honor of having collected the most wrecks in the Pa cific. Each chapter of Pitcairn's strange history is linked to this cursed coral isle, whose name has been written so indelibly into the hearts of every Pitcairn woman. (To be continued.)

Digitisation generously supported by
State Library of Victoria
Digitisation generously supported by

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