Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The opening sentences of The Beach of Falesá are the observations of Wiltshire as he first catches a glimpse of the island that he is voyaging to. The story is written from the point of view of Wiltshire, the protagonist and main character. There isn't much explanation of why Wiltshire is coming to the island or where he has been.
I saw that island first when it was neither night nor morning. The moon was to the west, setting, but still broad and bright. To the east, and right amidships of the dawn, which was all pink, the daystar sparkled like a diamond.
The author, Robert Louis Stevenson, writes a beautiful description of the new land and the horizon through the eyes of Wiltshire. Wiltshire is in awe and excited, as he knows he will be in new territory. This new territory is refreshing for him. We don't get much description of where he has been before or how long he has been on his journey to this new land. However, we get a sense of the main character's emotions upon arrival.
Here was a fresh experience: even the tongue would be quite strange to me; and the look of these woods and mountains, and the rare smell of them, renewed my blood.
The reader gets the first scent of strangeness and mysterious circumstances from some of the previous traders, who had died on the island, in the following quotes.
It appears it took him sudden. Seems he got up in the night, and filled up on Pain-Killer and Kennedy's Discovery. . . . Then he tried to open a case of gin . . . When they found him, the next day, he was clean crazy carried on all the time about somebody wearing his copra.
The captain explains that Johnny, or John Adams, is believed to have gone mad and died in his sickness. The house that Johnny lived in will be the same house that Wiltshire is to live in while on the island. The dialogue between Wiltshire and the captain is more matter of fact than surprising information for Wiltshire. Though Wiltshire questions whether Johnny's insanity resulted from the beach, he does not show much alarm or emotion as he is told these disturbing facts.
Our last man, Vigours, never turned a hair. He left because of the beach said he was afraid of Black Jack and Case and Whistling Jimmie, who was still alive at the time, but got drowned soon afterward when drunk.
The captain in charge of the vessel that Wiltshire is on explains the cases of three previous traders on the island. He also introduces traders Case (antagonist) and Black Jack (comrade) as still alive and as people who had some involvement in scaring Vigours.