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Diary (page 4)


The account of Jules Garnier's travel is organized in serials and episodes specifying places, distances, and geography. It is interrupted, as in the 19th century's journey stories, by sequences amusing or appalling but especially of notes on the history, the botany, agriculture, cyclones, military organization, and navigation from where practical personal suggestions are never missing: "While the executive officer, the doctor and crewmen went swimming or slept in the shadow, I moved inside with my gun. I was rather happy in my walk to see several pigeons that I shoot down… I had already seven game samples, I walked very slowly not to break the dry branches and my eye scrutinized the thickness of the leaves to discover in it some new game when, seemingly, I caught sight on the right and through a bright period a fast shadow crossing.

I stopped undecided. Then the noise, almost imperceptible of a broken branch on the ground came up to me and a white owl, bird who gets up only in the daytime when it is seriously disturbed crossed close to my head by beating the air of his silent wings. There was not any more to doubt, natives were near me. They could not be our people because I had left them by the sea…
All these thought flashed in my head as a lighting at the same time as the horrible picture of Darnaud's massacre went through my eyes. I think I get very pale because the sweat poured cold on my face; however, before resuming my walk, I looked with attention at a moment at the top of trees as if I had still perceived there something; then I recovered on the way, tightening strongly between my hands the butt of my cocked on gun; my eye searched in advance all the clump of bushes and, instead of going on deep into the wood, I headed left so as to join the sea bank as soon as possible looking on my road for bright intervals and avoiding thickets. Eventually, I felt happy when I perceived through the foliage the white line of the sands on the bank.

Up to that stage, I slowed down the step and began following the seaside as if nothing extraordinary had happened, when suddenly, in front of me a kanak popped off the wood then another other one then the other one up to the number of seven who stopped gathering in front of me. Mad men, completely bare, armed with "casse têtes", with assegais and tomahawks. Some of them painted in black on their head and their breast. It was the first time that I was in front of real savages and the rather strange conditions which had preceded this interview made it even more moving for me; so, the sudden aspect of these seven man-eaters armed with a bare trunk and painted in black did not miss to make me feel a deep sensation which I have never felt since in otherwise terrible circumstances that this one.
These children of wood looked at me silently. I moved openly on them well knowing although that, as the wild animals, it is necessary to keep these savages at a one's distance and, stretching out the hand to the oldest, I say to him: "Hello tayo".

These children of wood looked at me silently. I moved openly on them well knowing although that, as the wild animals, it is necessary to keep these savages at a one's distance and, stretching out the hand to the oldest, I say to him: " Hello tayo. " Frankness and "sans gene" of those whites in common circumstances always amaze kanaks. Those ones began so to smile and, one of them, showing me the 'Caledonienne' whose slender hull one could perceived said to me: -" Boat belong you? (It is your Boat?") -"Yes did I answer, want to go aboard?" Those who understood me made a meaningful grin which certainly meant no. Then, showing them the sun which came down quickly on the horizon, I added: "- Right now sun is going burn down in the water, goodbye " Whereupon I took away, happy that this meeting had ended so peacefully. I had made some steps when I heard the loud roars of laughter of these kanaks. They laughed all of good heart; of what? I do not know: of themselves maybe who had let me escape. In the evening I told my adventure the captain who said to me that I had probably run a slight danger because of the presence on the roadstead of the 'Caledonienne' but that however it was always good to be on alert with these savages.

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