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COAST OF SAMOA. - 51
French sailors. The sea was very rough, and we shipped so much water that two men were told off to bale incessantly. Of course Our things got very wet. On these occasions the bishop is seen in perfection; he is so cheery and pleasant to every one, sailors and passengers, and makes the best of everything, though himself suffering greatly. This sort of boating is very different from travelling on our lovely Fijian lagoons, within the shelter of the encircling reef. Here the huge breakers dash madly on the shore, where they spout like geysers through a thousand perforated rocks, and we had to remain fully half a mile from land to avoid their rush. Oh for the calm mirror-like sea-lakes over which we have glided for the last two years, till I, for one, had wellnigh forgotten what boating in rough water means ! To-day our ten stout rowers could with difficulty make any way, and our progress was slow. We saw enough of the island (Tutuila) to agree in the general praise of its green loveliness. Its high volcanic hills are densely wooded, and look more tropical than those of Ovalau (Fiji). But our powers of appreciation were considerably damped by the invading spray, and we watched the rugged coast, chiefly with a view to knowing whether there was one spot where a boat could land in case of need; but in the whole run of twelve miles, there was not a single place where it would have been possible. Even here, at this large native town, there is only a narrow break in the rocks, where landing is tolerably safe in fine weather. As we drew near we saw a large body of Samoan warriors exercising on the shore, and hear that the people have assembled from far and near to take measures for immediately crushing the rebels at Pango-Pango (our friends of this morning). The chiefs here belong to the Faipule faction. The good Fathers invited me to tea at their house, and then handed me over to the care of Dorothea, the excellent wife of their catechist, who had prepared the tidy inner room of her house for my reception. Here I am most cosily established. My hostess, with about twenty of her scholars, nice-looking girls, have hung up great screens of tappa to act as mosquito-nets; and under these they are sleeping peacefully in the outer room. Of course I brought my own net and pillow, being too old a traveller ever to risk a night without them; and my bed is a layer of fine mats, beautifully clean and temptingly cool. To these I must now betake me, so good-night.
IN THE TEACHER's House, Thursday Night.
I started in the early morning for a long walk, taking as my guide a graceful half-caste girl with flowing black hair. She wore a fine mat round her waist, and a pretty patchwork pinafore, of the simple form generally adopted here—that is, a fathom of cloth, with a hole cut out of the centre to admit the head and neck. It is trimmed with some sort of fringe, either of fibre or grass. Occasionally two bright-coloured handkerchiefs, stitched together at the upper corners, supply the simple garment, which, however, is not an indigenous product of Samoa, but was the tiputa introduced by the early Tahitian teachers. It is practically the same as a Spanish poncho. All the shore here is edged with black volcanic rock; the lava seems to have formed huge bubbles as it cooled, and many of these have been water-worn till they are connected one with another by innumerable channels. So the waves rush tumultuously into these subterranean caves, and thence through hidden passages, till they reach openings like deep wells which lie at intervals along the shore, at some distance from the sea. Through these chimneys the rushing waters spout in great foam-fountains, and the effect produced is that of intermittent geysers, all along the coast. I think some of the jets must have been fully 100 feet high—and how the great breakers do surge and roar! No peaceful silent shore here !
We passed a very large deserted European house, built by Mr Scott of the Presbyterian Mission. How so large a house came to be required, or why it was abandoned, are mysteries of which I have heard no solution.
I returned to breakfast with the Fathers, to whose house I go for all meals. Happily the kind forethought of Captain Aube has
A SAMOAN COUNCIL. 53
provided me with a private teapot and a good supply of tea and
The bishop's words, however, were not without effect. The council assembled again to-night, and is still sitting, and I hear that after much talk the chiefs have written a letter to the chief of Pango-Pango, again inviting him to submit, and so avert war.
Just now I mentioned the bowls of kava with which ministering damsels refreshed the thirsty speakers. Perhaps I should explain that it is the identical drink which I so fully described, in writing to you from Fiji, where it was known as yangona—namely, a dry root masticated, till there remains only a fine white fibre, as free as possible from saliva. This is placed in a large wooden bowl, and water is poured over it. It is then strained through a fine piece of hybiscus fibre till all the particles of root have been removed, when there remains only a turbid yellow fluid, tasting like ginger and soap-suds, which is gently stimulating, like weak sal-volatile, and has the advantage of rarely resulting in intoxication, which, in any case, is a very different affair from that produced by drinking spirits. A man must drink a good deal of this nasty kava before he can get drunk; and when he does, his head remains quite clear, he merely loses the use of his limbs, and has to appeal to the compassionate bystanders to lift him to a place of safety. If his companions were white men, they might obligingly empty his pockets while he looked on helplessly; but South Sea Islanders would scorn to take so base an advantage of a man in his cups. On the contrary, they will obligingly bring him some mountain bananas, nicely roasted in their skins, which are considered a corrective, and will then leave him to sleep himself sober.
Different groups have trifling differences in their method of preparing this national beverage, and the ceremonies to be observed. In Fiji it is considered very incorrect for a woman to touch the bowl, chewing, straining, and handing it round in cocoa-nut shells, should all be done by young men, whose comrades sing wild melodies during the manufacture, and keep up a peculiar measured hand-clapping while the chiefs are drinking. Here, in Samoa, the girls are all Hebes. They do the brewing, and carry round the cups, but there are no songs (yangona-méké), and the only hand-clapping is done by the drinker himself as he hands
A DRILL DANCE. 55
back the cup. In Fiji, the correct thing is to send the empty cup skimming across the mat to the great central bowl.
This afternoon a corps of sixty warriors favoured us with a very odd sort of drill dance. Their dress consisted of kilts of black calico, trimmed with cut-out white calico, to look like tappa, on their heads a turban of Turkey red; their mouth and chin hideously blackened, which on these very fair people produces a monstrously ugly effect. They all had muskets, and were called soldiers; but we thought their drill was more funny than warlike, and concluded that they would be quite as dangerous to their friends as their foes. They have a sort of American flag, invented by Colonel Steinberger.
The dance was a very miserable travesty of a true native méké, such as we have so often seen in the isles further west; but here the vulgarising influence of white men is painfully evident, and One of the prominent figures at the chief's council was a high chiefess in a huge crinoline, a gorgeous red dress, and a hideously unbecoming hat. trimmed with scarlet and green ribbon and feathers:
Could that proud woman but have known with what different eyes we, the great strangers representing all Europe, looked on her fine foreign clothes, and on the pretty becoming attire of her handmaidens, with their finely plaited and fringed mats, necklaces of scarlet berries on their clear olive skin, and bright blossoms in their hair! Philosophers tell us there is always good in things evil; and so far as outward appearance goes, the tendency to war is in favour of artistic beauty, as these people (like the Samoans and Tongans) connect the idea of good behaviour with pretty closely cropped heads; but when the war-spirit revives they become defiant, and let their hair grow like a lion's mane, and adorn themselves with gay wreaths and garlands from the neck and waist. When a man has allowed his hair to grow long, he twists it up in a knot on the