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21. CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE
THE SPRING OF ARVA WAI--REMARKABLE MONUMENTAL REMAINS--SOME IDEAS WITH REGARD TO THE HISTORY OF THE PI-PIS FOUND IN THE VALLEY
ALMOST every country has its medicinal springs famed for their healing virtues. The Cheltenham of Typee is embosomed in the deepest solitude, and but seldom receives a visitor. It is situated remote from any dwelling, a little way up the mountain, near the head of the valley; and you approach it by a pathway shaded by the most beautiful foliage, and adorned with a thousand fragrant plants. The mineral waters of Arva Wai* ooze forth from the crevices of a rock, and gliding down its mossy side, fall at last, in many clustering drops, into a natural basin of stone fringed round with grass and dewy-looking little violet-coloured flowers, as fresh and beautiful as the perpetual moisture they enjoy can make them.
*I presume this might be translated into 'Strong Waters'. Arva is the name bestowed upon a root the properties of which are both inebriating and medicinal. 'Wai' is the Marquesan word for water.
The water is held in high estimation by the islanders, some of whom consider it an agreeable as well as a medicinal beverage; they bring it from the mountain in their calabashes, and store it away beneath heaps of leaves in some shady nook near the house. Old Marheyo had a great love for the waters of the spring. Every now and then he lugged off to the mountain a great round demijohn of a calabash, and, panting with his exertions, brought it back filled with his darling fluid.
The water tasted like a solution of a dozen disagreeable things, and was sufficiently nauseous to have made the fortune of the proprietor, had the spa been situated in the midst of any civilized community.
As I am no chemist, I cannot give a scientific analysis of the water. All I know about the matter is, that one day Marheyo in my presence poured out the last drop from his huge calabash, and I observed at the bottom of the vessel a small quantity of gravelly sediment very much resembling our common sand. Whether this is always found in the water, and gives it its peculiar flavour and virtues, or whether its presence was merely incidental, I was not able to ascertain.
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