“The Men of the Moving Land”

From that time on the Indians’ treatment of us was very different. We were invited to their village for a feast to celebrate the recovery of the lost families. And after we had made a litter from saplings to carry the sick woman in, we all started off down the mountain.

On the way the Indians told Long Arrow something which appeared to be sad news, for on hearing it, his face grew very grave. The Doctor asked him what was wrong. And Long Arrow said he had just been informed that the chief of the tribe, an old man of eighty, had died early that morning.

“That,” Polynesia whispered in my ear, “must have been what they went back to the village for, when the messenger fetched them from the beach.—Remember?”

“What did he die of?” asked the Doctor.

“He died of cold,” said Long Arrow.

Indeed, now that the sun was setting, we were all shivering ourselves.

“This is a serious thing,” said the Doctor to me. “The island is still in the grip of that wretched current flowing southward. We will have to look into this to-morrow. If nothing can be done about it, the Indians had better take to canoes and leave the island. The chance of being wrecked will be better than getting frozen to death in the ice-floes of the Antarctic.”

Presently we came over a saddle in the hills, and looking downward on the far side of the island, we saw the village—a large cluster of grass huts and gaily colored totem-poles close by the edge of the sea.

“How artistic!” said the Doctor—“Delightfully situated. What is the name of the village?”

“Popsipetel,” said Long Arrow. “That is the name also of the tribe. The word signifies in Indian tongue, The Men of The Moving Land. There are two tribes of Indians on the island: the Popsipetels at this end and the Bag-jagderags at the other.”