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fort. I have vainly tried to impress some of my friends with a due estimate of these men's antecedents, but to no purpose; and I hear their words quoted as gospel.
So great was the hubbub and perturbation from one end of "the beach " to the other, that our proposed picnic was very near being given up. However, wiser counsels prevailed, and angry feelings were smoothed over the more readily, as none of the principals were present. The party consisted of about a dozen ladies, and half as many French officers. Three of the sisters (Scaur Marie, Soeur St Hilaire, and Soeur Sept Martyrs) brought their little family of about sixty Samoan girls, who executed dances for our amusement as we sat on the pleasant turf at the spot selected for luncheon —a grassy lawn embowered in golden alamanders and scarlet hybiscus, and other bright blossoms, which soon adorned the tawny heads of the scholars. The dances were monotonous and ungraceful, as usual here, degenerating into hideous grimaces. They have none of the attraction of the beautiful Fijian dances. Nor have these damsels such pretty manners as the maidens in the Fijian schools. The little Doctor was considerably astonished (though he bore the shock philosophically) when a forward young woman danced up to him, and snatching off his hat, transferred it to her own well cocoa-nut-oiled head, while another patted his face with both hands, amid applausive laughter from her companions. But these were, happily, exceptional; and many of the girls appeared gentle and modest, and several were very pretty, with lithe figures and splendid eyes. But they all have beautiful dark-brown eyes.
A great feed, Fa-Samoa, was next spread on the grass, on layers of fresh green banana-leaves. There were roast sucking-pigs, and pigeons stewed in taro leaves, or else baked on hot stones in earth ovens; cray-fish, and prawns, and divers kinds of fish; pine-apples, bananas, and oranges; salad of cocoa-palm, like most delicious celery; bread-fruit prepared in various ways—boiled, baked, and roast in wood-ashes; wonderful native puddings, made of ripe plantains, taro, bread-fruit, and other materials, each beat up fine, and baked separately, then all worked together with the creamy juice extracted from ripe cocoa-nut, which, when heated, turns to oil, and is so exceedingly rich that few people can eat much of it. However, it is really very good—at least some preparations are. The puddings are so very oily that each portion is tied up separately in a strip of silky young banana-leaf, heated over the fire to make it oil-proof.
In addition to these Samoan dainties, every lady had sent a contribution of pastry, salad, or other good things; and the excellent chef of the Seignelay had done his part admirably, as usual. Nor had that hospitable vessel neglected to send ample remembrance from the vineyards of France, though the correct drink in the South Seas is the inevitable cocoa-nut water,—and an excellent one it is, cool and refreshing, provided the nut has just been gathered. No matter how burning the sun in which it hangs, it is always cool when newly severed from beneath the crown of shady leaves; but after a while it becomes slightly warm and mawkish in taste, so a true connoisseur requires his nuts to be plucked at the last moment . Then some ingenious native splits the thick outer husk by striking it on a sharp upright stick, and tears it all off, except a small green stand like an inverted bowl, which supports the nut, so that you need not empty it till you feel inclined. Then he cuts off the top of the nut, which is lined with the thinnest coating of white jelly. This is the pulp just beginning to form, and in this ivory-lined cup you find about two pints of clear sweetish water. When a row of nuts thus prepared are placed for every guest at such a banquet as this, they suggest a row of brownish-yellow ostrich-eggs, mounted in pale-green enamel!
An excellent dish, which I would introduce at home were it possible, consists of young taro leaves, stewed in the rich oily cream of cocoa-nut kernel, mixed with salt water, which is the only substitute for salt . Hence cocoa-nut shells containing sea-water are placed beside each guest, that he may therein dip his food to give it a relish. To havo done quite the correct thing, our roast sucking-pigs should have been carved with a piece of split bamboo; but I fear that in this matter we were guilty of innovation, though we quite decided that bits of green banana-leaf were the nicest possible plates.
'We were happily not expected to partake of the national cakes, made of putrid bread-fruit. I told you how, in Fiji, vast stores of bananas are buried in pits, and there left for months to ferment, after which the pits are opened, and the pestilential odour that nearly poisons the unaccustomed nose, announces a great feast of mandrai — i.e., bread. In Samoa, bananas abound all the year round, so there is no need to store them. But bread-fruit is only in season for about six months, so the surplus crop is stored in pits lined with banana-leaves; of course it soon ferments, but in that condition is preserved, perhaps, for years, as the older it is', the more highly it is prized. You can perhaps imagine how fearful is the smell of this dainty. But it is all a matter of taste—the ripe Stilton cheese, dear to the fine old English gentleman, is, to a Samoan, infinitely more revolting than his unfragrant cakes are to us.
Our surroundings were beautiful. Far below us lay the blue Pacific with its white breakers and many tinted coral-reefs, and on every side the spurs and ravines of great green hills, all densely clothed with richest tropical vegetation,—huge eevie trees, with roots like coils of twisted snakes, and branches all bearded with long grey lichen, falling in streamers and entangled by the twining vines; while all manner of parasitic plants, orchids, and bird's-nest ferns, nestle in every crevice. We had come by a lovely path through groves of bread-fruit and bananas, oranges, and other flowering trees, with here and there patches of cultivation—tall sugar-canes and maize—then tree-ferns, matted with purple convolvulus, and 'with an undergrowth of soft green grass. The gleaming sunlight found its way through that leafy canopy, and its dancing rays checkered the cool dark shadows with flecks of golden green. It was all soft, and lovely, and peaceful.
Ere the fragments of the feast, and the coffee-pots, and the crockery, were repacked, the brief tropical day was done, and the setting sun changed the broad blue waters into molten gold. Then we retraced our way through the forest, no longer sunlit, but sombre and very still, save for the sound of our own voices. But due provision had been made for the darkness; and many friends and relations of the Samoan girls had come out to meet us, carrying long torches of cocoa-palm leaves, which blazed with a clear bright light, throwing a ruddy glow on all around, on semi-nude dusky figures, glossy foliage, tall white palm-stems, and the great buttressed roots of the chestnuts, and on the brown-thatched cottages, whence groups of pleasant olive-coloured people looked out and cried Alofa! to which kind greeting we responded, Ola ulofa ! 1
And so the Fa-Samoa picnic has gone off very pleasantly, and we returned here to find all quiet, and to exchange the usual kindly courtesies with the refugees, who now have settled down for the night, as I must also do, that I may be ready to start at daybreak to get a sketch of the town and bay.
II.B.M. Consulate, Saturday NigU.
We returned this morning from a most interesting expedition to Malua, the great college of the London Mission, of which Dr Turner, senior, is the head. It is about twelve miles from here, and Dr G. A. Turner, of the Medical Mission, most kindly volunteered to take M. Pinart and myself in his boat. So he called for us yesterday morning, after an early breakfast. We had a very beautiful row along the coast, and received the most cordial of welcomes from the Doctor, who is a fine old Scot, with a pretty, pleasant, Highland wife. You home people can perhaps scarcely realise what a very great pleasure it is, in a far land like this, to find one's self suddenly dropped into the very heart of a real Scotch nest of the best type, and at once to be treated like a friend. I have found such a welcome from many of my countrymen in many lands, but nowhere more pleasantly than in the peaceful home at Malua.
The present Mrs Turner was the widow of Mr M'Nair, one of the missionaries of Erromango, whose little daughter Ella, a pretty child eight years of age, is the pet of the family.
You must not infer from my speaking of a college, that Malua 1 Great love to you.
bears the slightest resemblance to any collegiate institution in Europe. It is essentially South Sea, which means that it is suitable to the climate and the people, and it consists of a large village of about sixty neat thatched cottages, laid out in a square, at one side of which stands the large class-room. Each cottage is the home of a student with his wife and family, preference in the f1lling up of vacancies being given to married men, both as a means of educating the women and children, and also because the people, in applying for teachers, generally ask for one whose wife can teach their wives and daughters.1
Each cottage home is embowered in pleasant greenery and bright flowers, for each student is required to cultivate a garden sufficient for the requirements of his family, and to raise a surplus supply, which he may sell to provide them with clothing.
Dr Turner himself founded this college in the year 1844, when the mission began to realise the extreme difficulty of keeping up a supply of trained teachers, not only for two districts in the group itself, but for the numerous other isles to which Samoan teachers had gone forth as pioneers.
Besides, those early days had passed when the foreigners had been received as heaven-sent messengers, and hailed as the Papalangi—i'.e., those who have rent the heavens (the name still applied to all foreigners throughout Polynesia). At first it was enough that a teacher had learnt the leading doctrines of Christianity as opposed to idolatry; but now these were generally accepted by all the people, many of whom took careful notes of every sermon they heard, and were as keen as any old wife in Scotland, in detecting any error in the teaching of their minister.
Small mercy would these Samoan critics have shown to such a preacher as that young curate who, in his anxiety to improve the story of the Prodigal Son, expatiated at such length on the peculiar sacrifice made in the selection of the fatted calf, which
1 Apparently women are held in higher estimation by the Samoans than by some folk in the British Isles. I have just heard of a Highlander driving a very fierce bull along a highroad. To him, quoth a friend, '' That is a dangerouslooking brute!" "Ou na!" replies the owner; "he is just as ceevil as a sheep. He wadna hurt onybody, unless, maybe, weemen and bairns and suchlike I"