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path lay over the great waters would fail to propitiate so powerful and cruel a foe. Terrible are the stories of canoes which have been disabled and water-logged, and of the hungry sharks that have gathered round in shoals, and picked off the crew one by one, till the canoe, thus lightened, could float again; and perhaps one survivor has escaped to tell of his comrades' fate. When Pomare II. determined to become a Christian, his first decided act was to show the people with what contempt he now regarded the gods of his ancestors, to whom the turtle had ever been held sacred. It was invariably cooked with sacred fire within the precincts of the temple, and a portion was always offered to the idol. A turtle having been presented to the king, his followers were about to carry it to the marae, when he called them back, and bade them prepare an oven and bake it like ordinary food, without regard to the idol. Great was the consternation of the attendants, who tremblingly obeyed, and watched the king himself cut up the turtle and begin to eat. He vainly endeavoured to induce those who were with him to share this impious feast: they looked for some immediate manifestation of divine anger, and expected to see the king stricken before their eyes. Great was their wonder when no harm befell him, either on that day or on the morrow; and thus the first step was taken towards the overthrow of the old superstition. It was a simple but effectual test, and one which required considerable courage on the part of him who first dared to try it. Pomare, on this occasion, did for the people of Tahiti what Queen Kapiolani did for those of Hawaii, when, descending to the brink of the awesome crater, she defied the goddess Pélé by eating the blue berries held sacred to her, and which none dared to taste without first throwing a handful as an offering to Pélé. In like manner did Pomare-Vahine, daughter of the King of Raiatea, teach the same lesson to the chiefs of Eimeo, who had brought her a great fadmuraa, or feeding—i.e., a gift of roasted pigs, fowls, fish, fruit, and vegetables. According to custom, the priests were present to crave the blessing of the gods on the whole feast, by first selecting the portions to be offered on the altars.
BALMY MOONLIGHT NIGHTS. 173
But ere the heathen priests could make their choice, the Christian
extremely orderly good behaviour is, however, undoubtedly an exceptional result of the admiral's iron rule and stringent measures for the general weal. Immediately on his arrival, he gave orders that every damsel whose morals were recognised as lax, should be at once deported from the gay capital. So, without further ado, all such were shipped off to the seclusion of their various country districts, or else to more rigid seclusion, in charge of the police,— only coming forth to sweep the roads, which, consequently, are in a state of exquisite cleanliness and neatness. It is not to be supposed that the present condition of preternatural goodness will very long survive the departure of the admiral, as many of the governors of the Protectorate seem rather to encourage what the more staid residents deem unseemly frolic. Many of these governors are not Frenchmen, merely Creoles, whom the Tahitians dislike exceedingly, and contemptuously describe as Paumuto-Frane (Paumuto-men being Queen Pomare's pig-feeders, and Frane being the equivalent of French). Many gross errors and maladministrations have crept in during their rule; and the admiral is now devoting his whole great energies to rectifying all manner of abuses, greatly to the satisfaction of the Tahitians, with whom he is apparently immensely popular. Moreover, he seems determined to deal even-handed justice between the Protestant and Catholic teachers, which the latter by no means appreciate, having so long been greatly favoured by the Creole authorities. Socially, in his double capacity of admiral and governor, he does all in his power to make things pleasant for every one. For my own part, I am bound to say that, from the very first evening of our arrival, he has been unvaryingly courteous, and in every respect most thoughtful for me. We meet very often, as he and some of his suite invariably join Mrs Miller's party every evening at the band, after which they walk back with us along the beautiful shore to the British consulate, where we generally have a second concert, and much pleasant chat of the most polyglot orderEnglish, French, and Spanish, in about equal parts—with iced lemonade and liqueurs to help the flow of words !
THE MILITARY MASS. 175
The only drawback to my enjoyment of all this is the feeling that my late most kind camarades are so thoroughly out of it all. Like Rachel bemoaning her little ones, they refuse to be comforted, and nothing will induce any of them to come ashore to any place where they might by any accident meet the admiral. Of course this is rather uncomfortable for me; for though they all declare themselves most anxious that I should be lionised in the best possible manner (i.e., officially), I fear it must seem to them as if I had gone over to the enemy.
Still, there is no alternative; and the kindness which is even now arranging my future plans, is such that I can but accept it gratefully,
Having proclaimed Ariaue and Marau, King and Queen of the Isles, the admiral is now making arrangements to escort them on a grand ceremonial round of all the districts on each of the principal isles, that they may personally receive the homage of their people. It will be a very interesting occasion, calling forth whatever still remains of old native customs. To my great delight, the admiral has asked me to join this expedition. At first I treated the suggestion as a mere civil façon de parler, no other lady having been invited; little Vaetua (Moë's daughter, the future queen) being Marau's only companion. However, on the following day an A.D.C. brought me an invitation in due form, and the Millers are delighted, and say it will be the nicest thing possible for me. So of course, now, I have definitely accepted, and am looking forward to the ploy with the greatest possible interest. There are twenty districts in Tahiti, and the intention is to visit two a-day, which will make our picnic expedition a ten days' pleasure; after which we return here to make a fresh start for the beautiful isle of Moorea.
At eight o'clock Madame Fayzeau took me with her to the Roman Catholic cathedral for the military Mass, at which all high officials are expected to be present. Soldiers with fixed bayonets stand on either side of the altar, and others down the aisle, and present arms, kneel, stand up, &c., obedient to a loud word of command, which, indeed, is the only word spoken aloud till the final benediction and short chant. The organ plays the whole time, and the congregation attend to their private devotions, or do not, as the case may be. Apparently the fact of being present is sufficient. Very few Tahitians attend the eight o'clock Mass. The general congregation assemble at nine, when the service is audible, and a sermon is preached, partly in Tahitian, partly in French.
After church we went to see the Sisters, some of whom are engaged in nursing at the hospital, while the others teach in their own school. Returning to the British consulate, we found a pleasant naval breakfast-party; after which we enjoyed a calm peaceful afternoon here, while Mr Green was engaged with some of his teachers and classes. He has the charge of a very large native church here, where he holds forenoon service, but frequently has occasion to visit churches in other parts of the isle; and one of the many irritating French regulations forbids his preaching in any church but his own without a special permit, which has to be applied for, and granted afresh, every week, and is often delayed till the very last moment, so that he has to wait with his horse ready harnessed, and then probably drive much faster than he wishes, to reach his destination in time.
As each member of the mission has his own native work to attend to, and as every one in the island understands Tahitian, the only foreign service is one held on alternate Sunday evenings by Mr Green and the French pasteurs. This evening it was in English, according to the Congregational form, and ended with the Holy Communion.
We had a lovely walk home, but remarked that the Parisian observance of Sunday as a jour de fête has superseded that very sacred reverence for the Lord's Day, which is so striking a feature in most of the Christianised isles. To-night the crowd at the band was larger and noisier than usual, owing to the presence of many French sailors, some of whom were nearly as drunk as an average set of blue-jackets, under similar circumstances, would probably have been.