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Mr Williams had the satisfaction of launching a seaworthy vessel of about 80 tons burden, 60 feet in length, and 18 in breadth. To test her sailing powers, she was to make a preliminary trip to Aitutaki, distant about 170 miles. Before they had gone six miles, the natives let slip the foresail, which, straining in the wind, broke the foremast, and with some difficulty they returned to land. Having repaired the damage, they started again, reached Aitutaki, and returned thence to Rarotonga with a cargo of pigs, cats, and cocoa-nuts. The two first, but especially the pigs, were invaluable in ridding the island of rats; but a cargo of cocoa-nuts suggests coals to Newcastle, till we learn that in native warfare the cocoa-palms and bread-fruit trees were invariably destroyed, so that the fruitful isles were utterly ravaged.
The Messenger of Peace being now proven seaworthy, sailed for Tahiti, whence she was despatched to the Marquesas, and on several other mission expeditions, ere starting on that for which she had been designed. It was not till the year 1830, that Mr Williams, taking Mr Barff as his colleague, and seven Tahitian teachers with their wives and children, actually sailed in search of the almost unknown Navigator's Isles. They touched at the Hervey Isles on their way, and these likewise contributed several teachers, eager to carry to Samoa the Word of peace, which had so recently gladdened themselves.
Passing on thence to Tonga they received warm welcome from King George, who had long been a zealous Christian, and whose energetic nature had thrown itself heart and soul into the work of converting his people. Never did finer material exist. The Tongans have ever been noted for their strong, self-reliant, earnest character; and the same determination which in old days made them dreaded as the most daring pirates of the South Seas, was now called into play in quite a new manner, and the pushing ambitious men who were ever coming to the front in deeds of aggression, were henceforth the champions of the Christian faith and its most zealous pioneers.
At Tonga Mr Williams was the guest of Messrs Nathaniel Turner and Cross, whose names are so familiar to us as the founders of the Wesleyan Mission in Fiji. From them they heard with joy that Taufaahau, the chief of the Happai group,—a man of indomitable courage and determination,—had recently visited King George at Tongatabu, in order to judge for himself of the new religion. He then returned to his own dominions accompanied by Tongan native teachers, and proceeded to destroy all the idols and altars, exhorting the chiefs to follow his example. Many were naturally indigTEMPLE DESECRATION.
nant at this proceeding, and determined to celebrate a great festival in honour of the gods. Turtle and other sacred fish had to be caught for the offerings; so the high - handed chief, Taufaahau, profited by the delay to desecrate the temple by driving a herd of pigs into the sacred enclosure, and converting the temple itself into a sleeping-room for his women-servants—the presence of a woman being considered pollution to a rnarae.
So utterly obnoxious to the gods was the female sex, that it was certain death for any woman to set foot in a temple—and when victims were about to be seized for sacrifice, the greatest care was taken to prevent the approach of any female relation, lest she should touch the corpse, and so render it unfit to be offered at the marae. When the worshippers arrived with their offerings of turtle, they found the poor gods all disrobed, hanging by the neck from the rafters; and knowing the stern resolution of their chief, they retired, discomfited. Having given this proof of his sincerity, Taufaahau next sent his best canoe to Tonga, to bring Mr Thomas, the missionary whose teaching had so impressed him; and who, in answer to this summons, started with his wife to make the journey of 200 miles in this open canoe, in order to follow up the work thus begun on Happai.
At Vavau, the third group, the work seemed to have little prospect of success, so virulent was the oppositiou of Finau the high chief, who threatened death to any of his people who listened to the teachers. Yet within two years he was himself a zealous convert, and upwards of 2000 of his followers were in the habit of assembling for the Sunday services.
The teachers of the Tonga lotu—i. e., the Wesleyans—continued steadily working, and their influence spread as a leaven of good from isle to isle. At Tonga the Samoan party received an unlookedfor reinforcement in the person of Fauea, a Samoan chief, who had for some time been living in Tonga, and had there become a Christian. He requested Mr Williams to give him a passage in his ship, and proved an invaluable helper, directing him to steer for Savaii, the principal isle, of which he himself proved to be a high chief, and related to Malietoa, the greatest chief of all.
Fauea was a man of sound judgment and of most persuasive eloquence. But he was greatly troubled lest they should meet with violent opposition from Tamafainga, whom the people obeyed with trembling, believing that in him dwelt the spirit of the gods. It was therefore with unmixed relief that he heard, on his arrival, that this dreaded opponent had been killed a few days previously, and that there had not yet been time for the chiefs of all WILLIAMS ARRIVES AT SAMOA. 219
the isles to meet and elect his successor in the office of spiritual ruler.
So the Messenger of Peace was found to have arrived iu the very nick of time, and all the people received Fauea and his papalangi1 friends with open arms. Malietoa, indeed, declared that he was engaged in a war of vengeance, in which he could not stay his hand, but that it should be the last; and that when peace was restored he would himself lotu—that is, become a Christian—and encourage all his people to do likewise. He and his brother Tamalelangi, or "Son of the Sky," each promised to protect the native teachers and their wives, and gave them a hearty welcome as they landed ; nevertheless, the old order passed away in names and bloodshed, all to avenge the murder of the rapacious tyrant, who had actually been worshipped as a god, till the people could no longer endure his outrages and oppressions, and so waylaid and slew him.
Even at the moment when the teachers were landing on the island of Savaii, the mountains of Upolu, on the other side of the straits, were enveloped in flames and smoke, which told that a battle had been fought that very morning, and that not only were the plantations being destroyed, but that the women, children, and infirm people were all being murdered, and their bodies burnt in their