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"MASSACRE BAY." 47
We are passing through a great shoal of jelly-fish—I suppose I ought to say medusas—filmy, transparent creatures of very varied form. Some are liko 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 detour 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 Perouse 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.
Panuo-panoo Hasbour, Tuaday 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, Pere 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 passerdle 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 OP SAMOAN HISTORY—NIGHT DANOES.
In The House Op The Native Catechist,
Wo 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 for sale. Some of the canoes had ornamental prows with carved birds, &c.
After breakfast I went ashore with M. Pinart to see all we could of the village. We were invited to enter several houses, which are much more open and less like homes than those in Tonga or Fiji. But the people are all in a ferment, for, as usual in poor Samoa, this is only a lull in the course of incessant tribal war, and the people of Pango-Pango belong to the Puletoa, who were severely beaten in a recent battle . They are, however, keen to return to the fray, and this morning all the warriors assembled in full conclave, holding a council of war. They arrived in large canoes (some of their canoes carry upwards of 200 people, but those we saw had not room for above 50). They are noble-looking men, the fairest race in Polynesia, and truly dignified in their bearing. Some wore crowns of green leaves, and many had blossoms of scarlet hybiscus coquettishly stuck in their hair, which is cut short, dyed with corallime, and frizzled and stiffened with a sort of bandoline made of the sticky juice of the bread-fruit tree, mixed with scented oil; so that, instead of being straight and black, it stands round the head in a stiff halo of tawny yellow, like that of the Fijians and Tongans.
Is it not strange that the same curious rage for converting black hair into gold should prevail on this side of the world, just as it has in London in various epochs of fashion's folly, as when the attendants of "The Virgin Queen" dyed their raven locks with a lee of wood-ashes, especially those of "ivy-tree bark," or a decoction of the flowers of broom, either of which was warranted to "cause the hair grow yellow " t Of the various alkaline washes in use at the present day, and the good champagne converted to a hairwash, I need not speak. Besides, these are mysteries which I have not yet solved.
Her* there is no deception at all in the process. It is all carried on in open day, for the simple and cleanly purpose of exterminating wee beasties. The head, whether male or female, that has just been whitewashed, presents exactly the appearance of a barrister's wig stuck on to a bronze statue. But such work is all done on un
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—Pere Soret and Pere Vidal, two chiefs, two other natives, one officer, and twelve 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) t'o 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 Faiptde 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