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DANGEROUS GAR-FISH.

145

the torrents rush into the ocean. Consequently all cultivation on the lower levels involves artificial irrigation.

The fish-supply here seems good. There are rock-fish in endless variety,—albicore, bonto, and a sort of salmon with white flesh, and a very delicate fish called the gar-fish, with a projecting lower jaw. When this creature grows large and strong, it sometimes unintentionally proves a very dangerous neighbour, as, when startled by the approach of a canoe, it is very apt to spring on board with such force as seriously to injure any person whom it strikes with its sword-like jaw. . I believe that nude natives have actually been killed by those frightened creatures. The fishers here still practise the somewhat unfair method of stupefying fish by throwing into the water the bruised seeds of the hutu, or Barringtonia tree. Turtle abound, both the hawk's-bill, which yields the tortoise-shell of commerce, and the green. Prawns, shrimps, and eels are found in the rivers, while the coralreefs yield all manner of shell-fish, lobsters, and crabs. I hear that oysters are to be had, but have not seen any.

Speaking of the reef, the natives say that they can foretell a storm, hours before its approach, by noticing the echini1 crawling into snug holes where

1 Sea-urchin.

VOL. I. K

they may lie secure, undisturbed by the raging waters. "The sea roars and the echini listen," is the Samoan proverb to describe prudence.

I have just heard with great interest that the balolo (here called palolo)—those curious sea-worms, concerning whose annual visit to Fiji I wrote to you at the time—also honour the reef of Apia with a call, just in the same mysterious manner, rising to the surface of the sea for a couple of hours before sunrise on one given day, which the natives can always calculate beforehand, so as to be out by midnight, watching for the first glimmer of dawn, when, sure enough, countless myriads of black and green worms, thin as threads, and perhaps a yard long, come to the surface — an easy prey to the joyous crowd of men and girls, who scoop them up in baskets, nets, gourds, anything they can get hold of, each trying who can collect the biggest share of the writhing, wriggling worms, which, when baked in a banana-leaf, are esteemed a most delicious dainty, and do taste something like spinach and salt water, with a souppon of lobster. But the extraordinary thing about them is their only rising once a-year for two hours, and never mistaking their set time, then disappearing totally till the following year. In Samoa, I am told, the day falls in August. In Fiji a few come one morning in October, but their grand day is about 25 th November. COMPLICATED NATIONALITIES. 147

This afternoon Captain Aube kindly lent us his whale-boat to take us across the creek to Matautu, which is the further end of the settlement. We went to make some small purchases at the various stores, chiefly to see them. One of these belongs to the celebrated Stewart, whose partner being an American, the firm has the advantage of flying either the Union-jack or the Stars and Stripes, as may best suit the tide of affairs. At present this house is divided against itself; and a few days ago the agent of the American partner declared the place to be the sole property of his superior, and having sealed everything with the consular seal, he ran up the Stars and Stripes. Being, however, obliged to go to Fiji on business, Stewart's agent, has broken these precious seals, and in the name of his chief, has hoisted the ensign of Britain. This is a fair sample of the sort of pull-devil, pull-baker way in which business is conducted in this curious community. It leads to endless complications, as each party invariably appeals to his consul to visit his opponent with all the terrors of the law. At the present moment Stewart's store is a centre of interest, because the American consul wishes forcibly to remove thence a certain Captain Wright, a citizen of the United States, who defies his authority, and whom we saw sitting peacefully in the store, under the shadow of the Union-jack.

The coin chiefly in circulation here is the Chilian and Bolivian dollar, of very debased silver, commonly known in the Pacific as "iron-money." Its introduction was one of the sharp speculations of Messrs Godeffroy, who obtained an enormous amount at a very cheap rate, and therewith commenced trade with the Samoans, who accept the dollar as the equivalent of 100 cents, or the halfdollar as 50 cents, whereas two half-dollars or one whole, are barely worth 75 cents. So the profit on this little job was considerable—and if it has added one more straw to poor Samoa's burden of trouble, that is no concern of the traders.

On our homeward way we called on a very friendly lady, who, with her daughters, was engaged, in preparing an immense array of excellent pastry, for a great picnic "Fa-Samoa,"1 which is to be given to-morrow in honour of us, the visitors. Then we went on to the convent, to invite the good Sisters to join us, and bring all their girls. I am sure they will enjoy the chance of a French talk with their countrymen.

It is quite impossible to get at the truth about

1 Fa " in the manner of "—

Vaka-Viti, Fiji-wise.

Fdka-Tonga, Tonga-wise.

Fa-Samoa, Samoa-wise.

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anything here. Another German vessel went out of harbour this morning. No one knew she was going till she was actually under way. I can only hope that my letter may reach you some day, by some route! Meanwhile, good-night

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