Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/55

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31
LEGEND OF THE CAVE.

with wonder and delight, he lingered a few moments in admiration, then, recollecting how valuable such a hiding-place might prove in days of ceaseless intertribal war, he determined to keep his own counsel. So when he returned to the surface he held his peace, and all his companions were filled with wonder and admiration at the length of time he could remain under water.

Not very long after this, his family incurred the anger of the great chief of Vavau, and one and all were disgraced, and in continual danger of their lives. But the chief had a beautiful daughter, who loved this bold young islesman, and though under any circumstances he was of too lowly birth to dare to claim her openly in marriage, he persuaded her to forsake her father's house and come to that which he had prepared for her in the romantic grotto.

Here she remained hidden for several months, only venturing to swim to the upper world in the starlight, and ever on the alert to dive to her hiding-place on the slightest alarm. Of course her simple bathing dress of cocoa-nut oil and garlands did not suffer much from salt water; or if it did, trails of sea-weed quickly supplied fresh clothing. Her love brought constant supplies of fruit, to add to the fish which she herself provided: and so the happy weeks flew by, till at last the companions of the young man began to wonder why he left them so often, to go away all by himself, and especially they marvelled that he invariably returned with wet hair—(for the Tongans have the same aversion as the Fijians to wetting their hair, and rarely do so without good cause). So at length they tracked him, and saw that when his canoe reached the spot where he had stayed so long under water in pursuit of the turtle, he again plunged into the green depths, and there remained. They waited till he had returned to the land, suspecting no danger. Then they dived beside the great rock-mass, which seemed so solid, though it was but the crust of a huge bubble—and soon they too discovered the opening, through which they swam, and rising to the surface beheld the beautiful daughter of the chief, who had been mourned as one dead. So they carried her back to her indignant father—but what became of her hapless lover history does not