Page images
PDF
EPUB

I grieve to have to record that in leading the procession round the foundations of the new church, he made the turn widdershiiu.1 I believe that this is contrary to ecclesiastical custom — and of course to my Scottish mind it suggested grievous misfortunes in store.

An immense crowd of people had assembled, and the influence of European bad taste was too apparent in several cases; as for instance, in the uniform selected by a large college of young men, and provided by themselves — namely, white trousers, magenta blouse, and sky-blue waist-band! The girls wore white calico gnlus 2 and pale-green pinafores, which, with their hair dyed yellow, were becoming. But they looked a thousand times better when, at a school-festival held later, they exchanged the white skirts for very fine cream-coloured mats embroidered round the edge with scarlet wool, necklaces of largo scarlet berries and green leaves, and scarlet hybiscus and green leaves in their hair. They went through some very pretty school exercises, illustrated by much graceful action.

Then some very fine women came up, wearing handsome new mats of hybiscus fibre, which, when newly prepared, is pure white, and after a while becomes creamy in hue. They presented us all with very pretty fans of woven grass.

Then came a presentation of much food, including about thirty pigs, which were, ere long, devoured by the assembled multitude.

The bishop was terribly exhausted by all this prolonged exertion and much talking; but as an instance of his never-failing kindness to everybody, I may tell you, that when the school-feast was over, I came to this, my special nest, remarking to some one that I was

1 Or more correctly, in old Celtic parlance, tuaphol— that is to say, a turn contrary to the course of the sun, keeping the left hand towards the centre. It was only used when invoking a curse, as opposed to the turn deisul, which invoked a Messing on the object round which the turn was made. The superstition is common to all lands in whose early mythology sun-worship held a place. See ' From the Hebrides to the Himalayas,' vol. i. p. 203.

1 The sulu of the Friendly and Fijian Isles, the pareo of Tahiti, the sarong of the Malays, or the comboy of the Singalese, is simply a fathom of cloth wrapped round the lower limbs, and reaching to the knee or the ankle, according to the width of the material.

A NATURAL FORTRESS. 73

fatvjuie, forgetting that the word may be interpreted as "not well." So when the kind bishop came home to his much needed rest, he heard this, and, tired as he was, at once came to this house, which is at some distance, bringing a great roll of native cloth to soften my mat couch, and chocolate and other little delicacies, which he thought I might fancy. I was so sorry,—but it illustrates the beautiful unselfishness of that genial nature.

To-morrow we are to leave this lovely isle Tutuila and cross to the great isle of Upolu, on which is situated Apia, the capital.

This group, which in our schoolroom days we were taught to call the Navigators Isles, but which its inhabitants know as Samoa, fonsists of eight principal isles and several small islets. By far the largest are Savaii and Upolu—the former being 250 miles in circumference, the latter 200. Both are very beautiful, having high mountain-ranges, visible at a distance of 70 miles, and richly wooded. They are separated by a strait about 12 miles wide, the mouth of which is, as it were, guarded by two small islands, Manono and Aborima.

The former lies close to Upolu, and one reef encircles both. It is the home of some of the high chiefs, and is an exceedingly fertile little island, clothed with the richest verdure. It is about five miles in circumference.

Aborima, as seen from the sea, appears to be only a huge precipitous mass of rock, rising to a height of 200 or 300 feet. It is about two miles in circumference, and is probably the crater of an extinct volcano, for it is shaped like the hollow of a hand, whence it derives its name. It is inaccessible, except at one small opening between the steep cliffs; but passing between these you enter an amphitheatre, which, from the base to the summit, presents an unbroken mass of tropical vegetation—a most marvellous transformation scene from the desolate crags of the seaboard. A charming little village nestles beneath the fruit-bearing trees in the basin.

This natural stronghold belongs to the chiefs of Manono, who use it in time of war as a safe refuge for their families and storehouse for their property. All they need do, is to guard the narrow entrance, which they can either defend by dropping rocks on the invaders, or by so placing ropes across it that they can overturn their canoes. So, although the warlike men of Manono have occasionally been driven from their own isle, they have always found a secure retreat in this lovely rock-girt fortress, where they take good care always to have abundant stores of food ready for emergencies. That they need such a place of refuge, you may infer from the fact that when they were first visited by white men, about fifty years ago, a basket was suspended from the ridge-pole of a sort of war-temple, and in it were preserved 197 stones, which were tho record of the number of battles which the men of Manono had fought up to that date!

I do not know how many of these isles we are to visit. Tho more the better, since all are beautiful. But whenever I admire anything, tho invariable reply is, "You like this? Ah, wait till you see Tahiti!" Evidently it is the ideal isle. No one will believe that I am not going on. Indeed I am beginning scarcely to believe it myself. Well, we'll see when we reach Apia.

CHAPTER VII.

VANQUISHED CHIEFS OF THE PUI.ETOA FACTION UNDER PROTECTION OF THE
UNION-JACK—CONVENT-SCHOgL—"BULLY" HAYES—POSTAL DIFFICUL-
tIES—BOUSE OF GODEFFROY— VILLAGE OF MALINUNU— VEGETABLES
AND FISH—ADVANTAGES OP ANGLO-AMERICAN COMPANIES.

British Consulate,
Apia, Isle Upolu, Monday, 24IA.

We arrived here yesterday morning, and I confess that, having heard so much of the beauty of this place, I am rather disappointed. It is not to be compared with Levuka1 from a picturesque point of view. A very long village, scattered round a horse-shoe bay, with cocoa palms ad libitum, and background of rather shapeless rich green wooded hills, part of which are under cultivation. i Capital of Fiji.

CIVIL WAR. 75

Certainly the hills do gradually ascend to a height of fully 4000 feet, so they are not to be despised; but our eyes are satiated with the beauty of volcanic peaks and crags, rising from an ocean of foliage wellnigh as rich as this. Doubtless if we have time to explore the interior, we shall find no lack of loveliness; indeed even from the harbour we could distinguish one grand waterfall, like a line of flashing quicksilver on the dark-green mountain. But to reach it, would involve a long day of hard walking, such as I could not attempt, even were the sun less powerful than it is to-day. This town, which is the capital of Samoa, consists of about two hundred houses and stores—German, English, and American consulates, a Roman Catholic college and cathedral, a Congregational chapel, and two newspaper offices, representing the stormy politics of the isles—namely the ' Samoan Times' and the 'South Sea Gazette.'

The strong point of Apia is the excellence of its harbour—a point which the German traders have made good use of, in securing their own right to a large part of it.

As soon as we anchored, M. Pinart escorted me, first to call on Dr and Mrs G. A. Turner of the London Medical Mission, and then to H.B.M. Consulate, which was my destination—the wife of the consul, Mrs Liardet, and her mother, Mrs Bell, having been our friends in Fiji, before they were sent to this place. We found that Mr L. had just sailed for Fiji to consult Sir Arthur Gordon on the best course to follow in the present critical state of affairs, when every man's hand is seemingly against his neighbour, and each trying to induce the natives to espouse his individual quarrels as well as their own. So the whole community are at loggerheads. The whites are mostly riff-raff of a very low order; and in short, the Samoa of to-day is simply a reproduction of what Fiji was before annexation. Many of the scamps who are now working its strings are the identical men who, finding Fiji no longer a happy land of misrule, have just moved on to the next group, there to repeat the intrigues of their previous life.

As I have explained to you, the Samoans are divided into two great factions, betwixt whom there is war to the death; and, unfortunately, 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

« PreviousContinue »