National Geographic : 1939 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE IF WALLS COULD SPEAK, WOULD THESE DISCLOSE THE MYSTERY OF "THE BARONESS OF THE GALAPAGOS?" The author (right) chats with Mrs. Wittmer who, with her husband and two boys, settled on Santa Maria, or Charles Island, in 1931; they are now its sole residents. They were preceded by the German Dr. Friedrich Ritter and Frau Dore Koerwin, seekers of an idyllic tropical existence. Quiet of the island was disturbed later with the coming of the Baroness Eloise de Wagner Wehrborn and two men companions. Constant scenes of turbulence came to a climax in March, 1934, when the Baroness and one of her friends suddenly vanished. Alfred Lorenz, the other companion, said they sailed away in a boat. They have not been seen since. Lorenz perished later of thirst and hunger on an island to the north. Dr. Ritter died and Frau Koerwin returned to Germany. so all the children in the village started following the hens, waiting for them to lay. As soon as they had collected four eggs, they brought them out, still warm, to get their fishhook. WHITE "CANNIBALS" INSPIRE FEAR Instead of the admonition that "the po liceman will get you," the Marquesans vary it for their children by telling them that "the white man will get you." At Haka Hetau we took the big camera ashore to make pictures of the pinnacles which grace this lovely island, and, while we were wait ing for the clouds to lift, the older boys started teasing their younger brothers by telling them that we would cut them up, pack them in the camera case, and take them back to America. This started the children crying and off they ran. I tried to quiet a little girl one day by giv ing her a doughnut. Curiosity overcame her fear for a while, but when I tried to explain by signs that the doughnut was good to eat, the child thought I was going to eat her, and so became more frightened than before! Throughout the islands we had heard through the coconut telegraph that the "man who knew the war business fine" wished us to stop and visit with him. The natives' description aroused our curiosity. Stopping at Hikeu Bay, we found living there an American ex-Navy enlisted man who welcomed fellow countrymen and ap preciated news of home. Sailing on, we reached Manihi in the Tuamotus, which I shall always remember for the politeness of its citizens. The na tives had asked to come aboard to see the boat. While they were on board, my bread had risen and was ready for the oven, so I started the fire. Instantly everyone, even the children, left. To them the fire meant cooking and if they stayed I would have to offer them some of the food to be polite. To stay, they believed, would be begging.