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Vanquished Chiefs Op The Puletoa Faction Under ProtecTion Of The Union-jack—Convent-school—" Bully" Hayes —Postal Difficulties—House Of Godeffroy—Village Of Malikunu Vegetables And Fish Advantages Of AngloAmerican Companies.
We arrived here yesterday morning, and I confess that, having heard so much of the beauty of this place, I am rather disappointed. It is not to be compared with Levuka1 from a picturesque point of view. A very long village, scattered round a horse-shoe bay, with cocoa palms ad libitum, and background of rather shapeless rich green wooded hills, part of which are under cultivation. Certainly the hills do gradually ascend to a height of fully 4000 feet, so they are not be despised; but our eyes are satiated with the beauty of volcanic peaks and crags, rising from an ocean of
1 Capital of Fiji.
foliage wellnigh as rich as this. Doubtless if we have time to explore the interior, we shall find no lack of loveliness; indeed even from the harbour we could distinguish one grand waterfall, like a line of flashing quicksilver on the dark-green mountain. But to reach it, would involve a long day of hard walking, such as I could not attempt, even were the sun less powerful than it is to-day. This town, which is the capital of Samoa, consists of about two hundred houses and stores—German, English, and American consulates, a Roman Catholic college and cathedral, a Congregational chapel, and two newspaper offices, representing the stormy politics of the isles—namely, the 'Samoan Times' and.the 'South Sea Gazette.'
The strong point of Apia is the excellence of its harbour—a point which the German traders have made good use of, in securing their own right to a large part of it.
As soon as we anchored, M. Pinart escorted me, first to call on Dr and Mrs G. A. Turner of the London Medical Mission, and then to H.B.M. Consulate, which was my destination—the wife of the consul, Mrs Liardet, and her mother, Mrs Bell, having been our friends in Fiji, before they were sent to this place. We found that Mr L. had just sailed for Fiji to consult Sir Arthur Gordon on the best course to follow in the present critical state of affairs,
when every man's hand is seemingly against his neighbour, and each trying to induce the natives to espouse his individual quarrels as well as their own. So the whole community are at loggerheads. The whites are mostly riff-raff of a very low order; and in short, the Samoa of to-day is simply a reproduction of what Fiji was before annexation. Many of the scamps who are now working its strings are the identical men who, finding Fiji no longer a happy land of misrule, have just moved on to the next group, there to repeat the intrigues of their previous life.
As I have explained to you, the Samoans are divided into two great factions, betwixt whom there is war to the death; and, unfortunately, this ill feeling is kept up by the utterly unprincipled whites—German, English, and American — who have their own interests to serve, and are quite unscrupulous as to the means they employ. So, thanks to their machinations, there was a sharp skirmish about three months ago actually in the town, close to this house, and to the convent, where the French Sisters have a large and excellent school for girls. There appears no doubt that it began by a treacherous onset unawares, instigated by a scoundrelly American. The fight lasted all night, just behind this house. Sixty men of the Puletoa faction were slain, and their heads were cut off and sent to friendly chiefs as delicate offerings.
You can imagine the horror of that night to the ladies here, hearing the noise of battle, the firing of muskets, and the shouts of the warriors, but unable to distinguish through the darkness what was going on. In the first glimmer of dawn they looked out, and saw a great crowd of poor terrified refugees of the Puletoa party crouching round the flag-staff here (at the consulate), claiming British protection. The Union-jack that was run up that morning has never since been lowered day or night, as the conquerors have as yet given no definite promise to spare the lives of the vanquished. Others, who had hidden in the scrub, have since crept in, under cover of night; and from that day to the present, the fifty men (great chiefs and their followers), besides wives and children, are living within the very confined grounds of the consulate.
The men never dare to venture outside these bounds, knowing that for long the place was surrounded by guards of the enemy, watching to shoot any of the refugees who might venture to step over the enclosure, which at the time of the fight was only partially fenced in. The women and children are, however, allowed to go out and forage. The principal chiefs sleep in the diningroom and passages, and wherever they can find
room to lie down; and when I come to my room at night, I have to pick my way in and out among the sleepers. But the majority of the followers have built a large native house in the garden, where they sleep; and as they dare not go out even to bathe, they have dug a deep well for their own use; and Mrs Liardet has given them her tinlined piano-case, which they have converted into a very good comfortable bath. They have sunk it near the well, and fenced it round, so it answers capitally, and has the merit of being quite a novel use for a piano-case!
All their arrangements are very tidy; and they are a fine, dignified lot—especially the chiefs; and all are so very nice and respectful, that their presence in and about the house is not half such an inconvenience as you might imagine. Indeed Mrs Liardet and Mrs Bell have grown quite fond of them; and they in their turn delight to play with Mrs L.'s baby, who is a bright little laughing pet. Indeed they act as a splendid guard, and are always quiet and well - behaved. But some of the poor fellows have terrible coughs, which keep themselves and us awake half the night; and being awake, they do talk a good deal, which diminishes the chance of our falling asleep again.
They are a handsome race, pleasant to the eye, and happily do not, like so many of the Tongan
Vol. i. I