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grooves from having constantly been used for this purpose; and of course they must exist in all countries in which stone celts have been in use, which, I suppose, means all corners of the round world, Britain included. I greatly doubt, however, whether the ancient Britons ever produced such artistic carved bowls and spears with their stone implements as these Pacific Islanders have done.
The men who worked with these tools needed wellnigh as much patience as those who manufactured them. Imagine a squad of men taking from fifteen to thirty days to fell a tree Saith the old proverb, “Little strokes fell great oaks,” and these were little strokes indeed! Of course a more rapid process was to make a slow fire all round the base of the tree, and so burn it down; but the fire so often ran up the heart of the tree, destroying it altogether, that the slower process proved best in the long-run. However, as a good-sized tree could thus be felled in three or four days, the rafters of houses were often thus prepared, and the branches burnt off. Once down, fire could be better used to divide the tree into useful lengths; and if a canoe were required, a long narrow line of fire was allowed to burn the whole length, its progress being regulated by the slow dripping of water. Thus the work left for the stone axe was considerably lessened, though it would still have puzzled a British carpenter to work with such tools.
We are enjoying the most perfect weather—a calm sea and a faint sweet breeze. The vessel glides on her way so smoothly that we scarcely perceive any motion, and all yesterday I was able to work up my sketch of the grotto, sitting in a delightful improvised studio on the tiny bridge (la passerelle). We are not making much way, as we are sailing to economise fuel; but the days pass pleasantly, and there is always some ship-life going on, which to me has all the interest of novelty — either parade, or firestations, or fighting-stations, or cannon practice (mercifully done in dumb show )
“MASSACRE BAY.” 47
We are passing through a great shoal of jelly-fish—I suppose I ought to say medusae—filmy, transparent creatures of very varied form. Some are like mushrooms, some like great bells, with delicately marked patterns of pale green or pink, and long fringe of feelers. They are beautiful by day, and at night gleam like balls of white fire. They are here in myriads, and are of all sizes, from a teacup to a cart-wheel. There are also a great number of flyingfish skimming on the surface of the glassy sea.
I am told that we are now 630 miles from Levuka in a direct line; but our détour in the Friendly Isles has made our voyage thence amount to about 1100 miles.
We have just sighted Mount Matafae, the highest point in the isle Tutuila. It is a conical mountain 2300 feet high, and lies just above Pango-Pango, the most perfect land-locked harbour in all the Samoan group, with water six or eight fathoms deep close in shore, and surrounded by luxuriantly wooded hills. At present we are steering straight for Leone, where the bishop has work awaiting him. The place had an evil name in old days, as that where M. de Langle, who accompanied La Pérouse on his expedition in 1787, was barbarously murdered, with eleven men of his boat's crew, hence the name of “Massacre Bay,” and the character of treacherous and bloodthirsty savages which for so many years clung to the people, till Messrs Williams and Barff arrived here in 1830 with their trained Tahitian teachers, and made friends with them. Then they learnt the native version of the fray, and heard the invariable story of innocence suffering for guilt, namely, that a poor fellow who had gone off to the ship to trade had been detected in some trifling act of pilfering, when he was immediately shot and carried ashore mortally wounded. Of course his friends determined to avenge his death, and so assembled on the beach, armed with stones and clubs, ready to attack the invaders the moment they attempted to land. They were only carrying out the example given to them, and combined revenge for evil done, with prevention of further assault.
PANGo-PANgo HARBour, Tuesday Night. After all, we did come here, for the anchorage at Leone is simply an open roadstead, and is not safe in a strong southerly gale. Captain Aube feared the wind might shift, so the vessel merely lay to, to allow a young priest, Père Vidal, to leap on board from his canoe, and then we ran right to this lovely spot, where we anchored at sunset. It is indeed a perfect harbour. We are lying close to the shore, in water twenty-one fathoms deep, clear as crystal, and calm as any inland lake. Steep, richly wooded hills rise round us on every side to a height of about 1000 feet, and you can discern no entrance from the sea. It seems like living in a vast cup. The hills all round are covered with bread-fruit trees, oranges, limes, pine-apples, bananas, and all the usual wealth of tropical greenery. This has been a calm, peaceful evening of soft moonlight. We sat on the passerelle while one of the officers, who is an excellent violinist, played one lovely romance after another, sometimes soaring to classical music. The others lay round him listening in rapt delight. The air is fragrant with the breath of many blossoms, and indeed all the afternoon we have had delicious whiffs of true “spicy breezes,” such as I remember vividly off Cape Comorin, but which I have not very often experienced at any distance from the land.
BOAT TRANSIT TO LEONE–SPOUTING CAVES-COUNCIL OF WAR– SKETCH OF SAMOAN HISTORY-NIGHT DANCES.
IN the House of The NAtive CATECHIST,
We have had a long delightful day, and I am tolerably tired; but before taking to my mat, I must give you some notion of what we have seen. All the early morning the ship was surrounded by
SAMOAN HAIRDRESSING. 49
canoes full of natives, offering clubs, native cloth, and baskets
dress days; and of course to-day every one was got up in full suits of mats and foliage, with a good coating of fresh cocoa-nut oil, the effect of which, on a brown skin, is admirable. The Psalmist knew what it was, when he spoke of “oil to make him a cheerful countenance.” The man who neglects it looks dull and lack-lustre; while he who, having anointed his flaxen locks, has then given his face and shoulders a good polish, seems altogether radiant. Of course we found our way to the House of Debate. The spokesmen were apparently eloquent orators, very fluent, making use of much gesticulation and very graceful action. Each carries a fly-flap, which is his badge of office, and consists of a long bunch of fine brown fibre, very like a horse's tail, sometimes plaited into a multitude of the finest braids, and all attached to a carved handle about a foot in length. With this, when not engaged in speechifying, he disperses the flies which presume to annoy his chief. But while talking, the fly-flap is thrown carelessly over the right shoulder. Dainty little flaps of the same sort are carried by many persons in preference to the fibre-fans in common use. I observe, however, that there are fewer fans here than in Fiji, where you are always offered one the moment you enter the poorest hut. I was struck by the rapt attention with which the audience favoured each successive speaker. The bishop was present, accompanied by the captain. They wished to remonstrate with the big chief on the subject of certain persecutions of Catholics, and also to urge him and his party to submission. They are but a handful compared with the others, and the strife seems so hopeless, and has already cost so many good lives; but I fear the good bishop's efforts are all in vain. Like the Hebrew peacemaker, he “labours for peace; but when he speaks unto them thereof, they make them ready to battle.” And now, in every village and in every house, all the men are busy rubbing up their old guns, and preparing ammunition, making cartridges, and so forth. We returned on board at noon; and after luncheon, the bishop had to return in a ship's boat to Leone. He most kindly invited me to accompany him. We were a full boat-load—Père Soret and Père Vidal, two chiefs, two other natives, one officer, and twelve