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fortunately, this ill feeling is kept up by the utterly unprincipled whites—German, English, and American—who have their own interests to serve, and are quite unscrupulous as to the means they employ. So, thanks to their machinations, there was a sharp skirmish about three months ago actually in the town, close to this house, and to the convent, where the. French Sisters have a large and excellent school for girls. There appears no doubt that it began by a treacherous onset unawares, instigated by a scoundrelly American. The fight lasted all night, just behind this house. Sixty men of the Puletoa faction were slain, and their heads were cut off and sent to friendly chiefs as delicate offerings.
You can imagine the horror of that night to the ladies here, hearing the noise of battle, the firing of muskets, and the shouts of the warriors, but unable to distinguish through the darkness what was going on. In the first glimmer of dawn they looked out, and saw a great crowd of poor terrified refugees of the Puletoa party crouching round the flag-staff here (at the consulate), claiming British protection. The Union-jack that was run up that morning has never since been lowered day or night, as the conquerors have as yet given no definite promise to spare the lives of the vanquished. Others, who had hidden in the scrub, have since crept in, under cover of night; and from that day to the present, the fifty men (great chiefs and their followers), besides wives and children, are living within the very confined grounds of the consulate.
The men never dare to venture outside these bounds, knowing that for long the place was surrounded by guards of the enemy, watching to shoot any of the refugees who might venture to step over the enclosure, which at the time of the fight was only partially fenced in. The women and children are, however, allowed to go out and forage. The principal chiefs sleep in the dining-room and passages, and wherever they can find room to lie down; and when I come to my room at night, I have to pick my way in and out among the sleepers. But the majority of the followers have built a large native house in the garden, where they sleep; and as they dare not go out even to bathe, they have dug a deep well for
their own use; and Mrs Liardet Las given them her tin-lined piano-case, which they have converted into a very good comfortable bath. They have sunk it near the well, and fenced it round, so it answers capitally, and has the merit of being quite a novel use for a piano-case!
All their arrangements are very tidy; and they are a fine, dignified lot—especially the chiefs; and all are so very-nice and respectful, that their presence in and about the house is not half such an inconvenience as you might imagine. Indeed Mrs Liardet and Mrs Bell have grown quite fond of them; and they in their turn delight to play with Mrs L.'s baby, who is a bright little laughing pet . Indeed they act as a splendid guard, and are always quiet and well-behaved. But some of the poor fellows have terrible coughs, which keep themselves and us awake half the night; and being awake, they do talk a good deal, which diminishes the chance of our falling asleep again.
They are a handsome race, pleasant to the eye, and happily do not, like so many of the Tongan chiefs, affect foreign dress. They either wear fine mats, or else very thick handsome native cloth of bread-fruit or paper-mulberry fibre. Very few wear any covering on the shoulders, so the fine bronzed figures are seen to full advantage; and as I look down from this verandah I see on every side of me such groups as an artist would love to paint. Picturesque men, women, and children, bright sunlight and gay blossoms, rich foliage, and palm-leaves flashing like quicksilver as they wave in the breeze, framing the blue waters of the harbour, where the foreign ships lie anchored.
But all these poor people do look so sad, and no wonder; for even if their lives are saved, all their property is lost, and many of these were the wealthy nobles of the land. Some people here say that they might now safely return to their usual life; but others, equally old inhabitants, and equally well informed, say they are in as great danger as ever. It seems just touch-and-go whether a few days will see the renewal of a very bloody war, or whether all will agree to an unconditional cession to England. There is a strong impression that if Sir Arthur Gordon were to arrive hero now, the latter would be certain; and that it is the only possible panacea for poor Samoa's wounds.
Within a stone's-throw of this house lie the grounds of the French convent, where four nice ladylike French Sisters, and two Samoan Sisters, devote themselves to the care of about sixty native girls—bright, pleasant-looking lassies. The native Sisters appear to be thoughtful and devout women. There is an atmosphere of peace and calm within the convent grounds strangely in contrast with all the disquiet which prevails outside. Life here is quite Dr Watts's ideal—
"In books, and work, and healthful play,
I can answer for the joyousness of the merry games that were played beneath the cool green shade of banana and bread-fruit trees, and also for the excellent work done in graver moments. Very pleasant, too, are the sweet young voices, trained in their singing by one of the Sisters, who is herself an admirable musician and a good vocalist. They were all greatly interested in hearing news of the Sisters at Tonga, which I was happily able to give them. Great is the delight of every one here at the return of the bishop, to whom all who desire peace seem to look with trust.
Do you remember my telling you, when the Samoan chiefs came to Fiji to consult Sir A. Gordon, that they brought with them two pretty, high-caste girls, Faioo and Umoo, with whom we made great friends 1 I found them both here, and they seemed overjoyed on recognising me. They are both girls of good (Samoan) character, and daughters of high chiefs. Their fathers, who are in the victorious government party, likewise recognised and cordially welcomed me.
A considerable number of the bright merry girls at the good Sisters' school are half-castes—the children of Samoan mothers by French, English, or German fathers. Amongst these, two gentle, modest-looking lassies were pointed out to me as the daughters of the notorious "Bully " Hayes, of whose piratical exploits I have heard many a highly seasoned yarn from the older residents in
Fiji, where he occasionally appeared, as he did in all the other groups, as a very erratic comet, coming, and especially vanishing, when least expected, each time in a different ship, of which by some means he had contrived to get possession; always engaged in successful trade with stolen goods; ever bland and winning in manner, dressed like a gentleman, decidedly handsome, with long silky brown beard; with a temper rarely ruffled, but with an iron will, for a more thoroughgoing scoundrel never sailed the seas. The friend who trusted to his courteous promises was his certain victim. If he was in the way, he was as likely as not to have his throat cut, or to be turned adrift on a desert isle. If owner of the vessel, he was probably landed to make arrangements for the sale of his cargo, while Bully Hayes was already on his way to some distant port to sell the said cargo for his own benefit, and then trade with the ship, till it became inconvenient to hold her, when she was deliberately scuttled.
It is about twenty years since this notorious pirate first made his appearance in the Pacific, when for some reason he was landed on the Sandwich Isles, apparently against his will . He was then accompanied by Mrs Hayes, the mother of these two girls, who now lives at Apia in respected solitude. For many years her lord has cheered his voyages with companions from all manner of isles, whom he has contrived to dispose of so soon as metal more attractive presented itself.
At last this inhuman miscreant has met his doom. Only a few days ago a vessel came into port bringing the news of his death. As he was entering his cabin he was knocked on the head with a marline-spike by his mate, who had suffered brutal ill-treatment at his hands, and so, determined on revenge. I doubt if even one woman was found to mourn him. It was a meet ending to such a career.
A messenger has just run here in hot haste to tell me that a ship is in the act of sailing, and will take this letter. This morning we asked in vain if there were any chance of a mail, and were assured that there was none. I can barely catch this—so good-bye.
Truly those whites of Samoa are aggravating Ishmaelites—all striving to outwit one another, without one thought for the common weal . Ever since we anchored here we have been trying to learn whether any vessels were about to leave the harbour, and this very day we sent an express to the German consul, who replied that he believed it would be three weeks before a vessel sailed. But it seems that he represents Godeffroy's house, whereas this ship belongs to Hedeman & Rouget; and all these firms are so jealous of one another, and so afraid of being asked to carry letters that their ships all try to sneak out of harbour without giving notice to the postal authorities.
Dr Turner heard of this chance by the merest accident, through a grateful patient, and sent me word immediately, but being at the other end of a long beach, the information reached me just too late. Now weeks may elapse before there is another chance.
Just now I mentioned the house of Godeffroy of Hamburg.1 This place is the headquarters of that great firm, which absorbs the principal trade of the Pacific There is "neither speech nor language " where the name of this omnivorous firm is not heard. At Cochin-China in the north-west, Valparaiso in the south-east, and Samoa midway, they have established centres, from which their emissaries radiate in every direction, and their- vast fleet of trading vessels are for ever on the alert to enlarge the field of their operations. They are the Graballs of this side of the world. Hearing of the profitable trade carried on here by Messrs Brander & Hort of Tahiti, they decided to follow in their footsteps, and ere long succeeded in effectually supplanting them.
This was partly effected by artfully fostering the intertribal disputes, which were ever smouldering among the Samoans, and then liberally supplying the combatants with arms and ammunition from their own arsenal at Liege (Belgium). For these useful imports they accepted payment in broad tracts of the most fertile
1 Shortly after the above was written, the Pacific was electrified by the sudden collapse of this huge mercantile house, which failed for the modest sum of one million sterling.