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LEGEND OF THE CAVE.
with wonder and delight, ho lingered a few moments in admiration, then, recollecting how valuable such a hiding-place might prove in days of ceaseless intertribal war, he determined to keep his own counsel. So when he returned to the surface he held his peace, and all his companions were filled with wonder and admiration at the length of time he could remain under water.
Xot very long after this, his family incurred the anger of the great chief of Vavau, and one and all were disgraced, and in continual danger of their lives. But the chief had a beautiful daughter, who loved this bold young islesman, and though under any circumstances he was of too lowly birth to dare to claim her openly in marriage, he persuaded her to forsake her father's house and come to that which he had prepared for her in the romantic grotto.
Here she remained hidden for several months, only venturing to swim to the upper world in the starlight, and ever on the alert to dive to her hiding-place on the slightest alarm. Of course her simple bathing dress of cocoa-nut oil and garlands did not suffer much from salt water; or if it did, trails of sea-weed quickly supplied fresh clothing. Her love brought constant supplies of fruit, to add to the fish which she herself provided: and so the happy weeks flew by, till at last the companions of the young man began to wonder why he left them so often, to go away all by himself, and especially they marvelled that he invariably returned with wet hair—(for the Tongans have the same aversion as the Fijians to wetting their hair, and rarely do so without good cause). So at length they tracked him, and saw that when his canoe reached the spot where he had stayed so long under water in pursuit of the turtle, he again plunged into the green depths, and there remained. They waited till he had returned to the land, suspecting no danger. Then they dived beside the great rock-mass, which seemed so solid, though it was but the crust of a huge bubble—and soon they too discovered the opening, through which they swam, and rising to the surface beheld the beautiful daughter of the chief, who had been mourned as one dead. So they carried her back to her indignant father — but what became of her hapless lover history does not record. Doubtless he was offered in sacrifice to the gods of Vavau.
We peered down through the crystal waters to see whether we could discern the entrance to the lover's cave, but failed to do so. Except at very low tide, it is difficult for average swimmers to dive so low. We only heard of two Englishmen who had succeeded. One was the early traveller, Mariner, who was present at a kavadrinking party of the chiefs in this cool grot; the other was the captain of an English man-of-war, who, in passing through the low rock archway, injured his back so seriously, that the people of 'Vavau believed him to have died in consequence.1 It appears that the passage into the cave bristles with sharp projecting points, and it is exceedingly difficult to avoid striking against them. A native having dived to the entrance then turns on his back, and uses his hands as buffers to keep himself off the rocky roof.
Our row back to Neiafu was most lovely—sea, isles, and sky, vegetation and cliffs, all glorified in the light of the setting sun. As we were returning to shore, to land Mr Fox, Captain Aubo hailed us, and bade us invite him to dinner with him I thought this very courteous, as of course, on such an essentially Roman Catholic mission as this, there is just a little natural feeling that it may not be discreet to show too much honour to the Protestant minister, who, however, met with a most cordial reception, and we had a very pleasant evening.
This morning I was invited to accompany a party who started at daybreak to shoot wild duck on a pretty lake at some distance; but as I had the option of returning to the grotto, I chose the latter. So the captain again lent me the ten-oared boat, and we made another pleasant party to the beautiful cave: but it lost much of its beauty by being seen in the cold shadow of early morning, instead of being illumined by the level rays of the evening sun. We repeated the palm-leaf bonfires, but felt that we were not exhibiting our discovery to the best advantage. However, I got a sketch, which has the one merit of being totally unlike anything else I ever attempted.
We returned too late for breakfast in the captain's cabin, so had 1 Since my return to England, I have heard the statemeut corroborated.
a cheery littl3 party in the ward-room, then went ashore to say good-bye to our friends, and carry away last impressions of the fragrant orange-groves of Vavau. Then the bishop and the Fathers returned on board, and we sailed away from the Friendly Isles.
LIFE ON BOARD SHIP—THE WALLI8 ISLES—FOTUNA—SUNDAY ISLE—CYCLO-
From Iit Sofa In The Gun-carriage,
My Dear Nell,—I have asked Lady Gordon to send you a long letter to her, which I hope to post at Apia, so that I need not repeat what I have already written. We are having a most delightful cruise, with everything in our favour, and the kindness of every one on board is not to be told.
To begin with, Monseigneur Elloi, Eveque de Tipara, is a host in himself, so genial and pleasant, and so devoted to his brown flock. He is terribly unhappy about all the fighting in Samoa; and I think the incessant wear and tear of mind and body he has undergone, in going from isle to isle, perpetually striving for peace, has greatly tended to break down his own health, for he is now very far from well, and every day that we touch land, and he has to officiate at a long church service, he is utterly exhausted. It is high time he returned to France, as he hopes to do, at the end of this cruise.
His title puzzled us much when he arrived in Fiji, as we supposed him to be Bishop of Samoa. But it seems that a Roman Catholic bishop cannot bear the title of a country supposed to be semi-heathen, so they adopt that of one of the ancient African churches, which are now virtually extinct.
To-<lay, being Sunday, the bishop called together as many of the
sailors as wished to attend, and held "a conference "—which meant that he sat on deck, and they sat or stood all round, quite at their ease, no officers being present, while he gave them a very nice winning little talk, ending with a few words of prayer. There was no regular service. There is always a tiny form of morning and evening prayer, said on parade by one of the youngest sailors, which is very nice theoretically, but is practically nil. At the word of command, Priere, a young lad, rapidly repeats the Ave Maria and N6tre Pere qui etes aux cieux; he gabbles it over at railroad speed in less than a minute; then, as an amen, comes the next thing, Punitions, followed by a list of the various little trespasses of the day, and the penalties awarded.
At each point where the vessel has touched, she has taken or left some of the French priests, many of whom have been working in these isles for so many years, that they know every detail concerning them, and are consequently very pleasant companions. One of my especial friends is a dear old Pere Padel, a cheery Brdton, who has been working in the Wallis group for many years, with the happy result of seeing its savages converted to most devout Catholics. He is now going to Samoa.
Much of the charm of this voyage is due to the kindly, pleasant relations existing between the captain and all his officers, from the least to the greatest—all are so perfectly at ease, while so thoroughly respectful. They are all counting the hours for their return to la belle France, where several have left wife and family; and their two years' absence apparently seems longer to them than the four years of our English ships would seem to be to less demonstrative Britons.
Nothing astonishes me more than the freedom of religious discussion on every side. Of course to the bishop and the numerous peres, personally, every one is most friendly and respectful, as well they may be; but as a matter of individual faith, c'est toute autre chose.
The evening tea-parties in the captain's cabin are particularly pleasant. Very often the conversation turns on some literary question, and then, from the ample library, are produced books
from which M. le Commandant reads illustrations of prose or poetry. He is himself literary, and writes very well, in the 'Revue des deux Mondes' and other papers. Monseigneur Elloi says that Captain Aube is a very distinguished man in the French navy, and one who is certain of rapid promotion.
He has another guest on board, M. Pinart, a scientific traveller. He belongs to a French Protestant family, but is such a thorough cosmopolite, that when we go about together in the native villages, and the people ask our nationalities, I always answer for him "American." He is most industrious in his various lines of work, and is at present busy copying out vocabularies of all manner of dialects. He is greatly interested in all ethnological questions, and has a collection of skulls, enough to supply a resurrection army. I do not think the sailors like it very much, and they are always afraid that some trouble will arise with the natives of various isles on the vexed subject of Us cranes, which our savant scents out from old hiding-places in caves and clefts of the mountains, with all the instinct of a schoolboy hunting for bird's nests. He has just shown me some beautiful illustrations in colours, for the book he is bringing out on American Indians; also many good photographs, done by himself, of objects of interest in many lands.
I am so sorry that the Seignelay paid her visits to Fotuna (in the Southern New Hebrides), and to the Wallis Isles, on the way to Fiji. If only these had been reserved for the return journey, I should have had the rare luck of seeing them also. My kind friends are for ever regretting this, and give me tantalising descriptions of both isles and people.
Apparently Us isles Wallis, or Uvea, must be the true earthly paradise—so green, so fertile, with people so industrious, so contented, and so hospitable. It is a group of four or five high volcanic isles, all richly wooded, and protected from the ocean, not only by the great barrier-reef, but by an intricate labyrinth of lesser belts and patches, which make navigation a matter of extreme danger, even after the difficult entrance, by a very narrow passage, has been accomplished. The approach to the anchorage