National Geographic : 1962 Jul
lent Roquefort, fresh crusty bread (long French loaves baked by Chinese), and two wines, a rose from Provence and a red Pommard. The coast on the northeast side of Big Tahiti drops sharply into the sea, and there is barely room for the narrow road. It winds within reach of spray from the crashing surf that pounds a shore of coral rock or coarse black shingle. An occasional fare-native house-breaks the splendid solitude of reef, sea, and rocky headland. Almost at the middle of the north coast, the Papenoo, the biggest river in Tahiti, flows to the sea in two wide arms, and not far beyond, the long finger of Mahina-Cook's Point Venus-thrusts out to sea to form the eastern arm of Matavai Bay. Visitors Besiege Writer's Widow Matavai itself lies in the present District of Arue. Here lived James Norman Hall, who with his collaborator Charles Nordhoff wrote a trilogy on the Bounty mutiny, the books which really brought the Bligh story to the attention of the world. In their cool book lined house, surrounded by flowers and bread fruit trees, lives Sarah Hall, the vivacious gray-eyed widow of the writer. Mrs. Hall's cross is the fame of her hus band. Not a traveler comes to Tahiti who does not want to see her. Lala-as her friends call her-has implored the taxi drivers of Pa peete to leave her in peace, but still they come. "They drive up and point to my house, then the tourists walk right in. Once an American publisher and his wife drove in. I was hot, tired, and doing housework. I said, 'I'm get ting enough of this, people dropping in with out warning and without invitation. I know why you came; you simply wanted to see what kind of a woman Jimmie Hall married. Well, what do you think? Not bad, eh?' Replied the publisher, 'Mrs. Hall, you are charming.' " Hall had two children, Conrad Lafcadio Hall, who is a motion-picture cameraman in California, and Nancy, now married to Nich olas Rutgers, Jr. The Rutgerses live in a mag nificent house, high on a hill behind the old Hall homestead, overlooking Matavai Bay and Moorea. I call it "the most beautiful house, in the most beautiful situation, on the finest island in the world." The roof is pandanus thatch, and the house rambles along a ridge on several levels. Cool breezes sweep through from the sea during the day and down from the mountains at night. From a terrace on the seaward side I looked down a slope planted with pink and 34 "It is a mad vegetation," said Gauguin. Buttress roots of mape, the Tahitian chest nut, hold the banks of a mountain stream in a gnarled embrace. Bromeliads and or chids cling to the branches. Bamboo, hibis cus, and wild banana thrive in the luxuriant forest. A fly-fisherman casts an Olive Quill for nato, a perchlike fish.