The islands of the South Seas are places of an interest curiously limited. The ethnological problem presented by the native is interesting only to men of science, commerce is negligible, there is little real agriculture, and no industry at all. There remains the charm of living among people whose outlook upon life is basically different from our own; of living with a simplicity foreign to anything in one's experience, amid surroundings of a beauty unreal both in actuality and in retrospect.
It is impossible to write of the islands as one would write of France or Mexico or Japan—the accepted viewpoint of the traveler is not applicable here. A simple attempt to impart information would prove singularly monotonous, and one is driven to essay a different task; to pry into the life of the mingling races, hoping to catch something of its significance and atmosphere. In making such an attempt it is necessary at times to dig deeper than would be consistent with good taste if names were mentioned, and for this reason—in the case of certain small islands—the ancient Polynesian names have been used instead of those given on the chart. All of the islands described are to be found in the Paumotu, Society, and Hervey groups.
TAHITI, April 10, 1921.