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THE BALOLO. 87
ringtonia tree. Turtle abound, both the hawk's-bill, which yields the tortoise-shell of commerce, and the green. Prawns, shrimps, and eels are found in the rivers, while the coral-reefs yield all manner of shell-fish, lobsters, and crabs. I hear that oysters are to be had, but have not seen any.
Speaking of the reef, the natives say that they can foretell a storm, hours before its approach, by noticing the echini1 crawling into snug holes where they' may lie secure, undisturbed by the raging waters. "The sea roars and the echini listen," is the Samoan proverb to describe prudence.
I have just heard with great interest that the balolo (here called inlolo}—those curious sea-worms, concerning whose annual visit to Fiji I wrote to you at the time—also honour the reef of Apia with a call, just in the same mysterious manner, rising to the surface of the sea for a couple of hours before sunrise on one given day, which the natives can always calculate beforehand, so as to be out by midnight, watching for the first glimmer of dawn, when, sure enough, countless myriads of black and green worms, thin as threads, and perhaps a yard long, come to the surface—an easy prey to the joyous crowd of men and girls, who scoop them up in baskets, nets, gourds, anything they can get hold of, each trying who can collect the biggest share of the writhing, wriggling worms which, when baked in a banana-leaf, are esteemed a most delicious dainty, and do taste something like spinach and salt water, with a soupfon of lobster. But the extraordinary thing about them is their only rising once a-year for two hours, and never mistaking their set time, then disappearing totally till the following year. In Samoa, I am told, the day falls in August. In Fiji a few come one morning in October, but their grand day is about 25th Xovember.
This afternoon Captain Aube kindly lent us his whale-boat to take us across the creek to Matautu, which is the further end of the settlement. We went to make some small purchases at the various stores, chiefly to see them. One of these belongs to the celebrated Stewart, whose partner being an American, the firm haa
the advantage of flying either the Union-jack or the Stars and Stripes, as may best suit the tide of affairs. At present this house is divided against itself; and a few days ago the agent of tie American partner declared. the place to be the sole property of lis superior, and having sealed everything with the consular seal, he ran up the Stars and Stripes. Being, however, obliged to go to Fiji on business, Stewart's agent has broken these precious seals, and in the name of his chief, has hoisted the ensign of BritaJL This is a fair sample of the sort of pull-devil, pull-baker way in which business is conducted in this curious community. It leads to endless complications, as each party invariably appeals to lis consul to visit his opponent with all the terrors of the law. At tie present moment Stewart's store is a centre of interest, because the American consul wishes forcibly to remove thence a certain Captain Wright, a citizen of the United States, who defies his authority, and whom we saw sitting peacefully in the store, under the shadow of the Union-jack.
The coin chiefly in circulation here is the Chilian and Bolivian dollar, of very debased silver, commonly known in the Pacific as "iron-money." Its introduction was one of the sharp speculations of Messrs Godeffroy, who obtained an enormous amount at a very cheap rate, and therewith commenced trade with the Samoans, who accept the dollar as the equivalent of 100 cents, or the half-dollar as 50 cents, whereas two half-dollars or one whole, are barely worth 75 cents. So the profit on this little job was considerable—and if it lias added one more straw to poor Samoa's burden of trouble, that is no concern of the traders.
On our homeward way we called on a very friendly lady, who, with her daughters, was engaged in preparing an immense array of excellent pastry, for a great picnic "Fa-Samoa," 1 which is to be given to-morrow in honour of us, the visitors. ' Then we went on to the convent, to invite the good Sisters to join us, and bring all
1 Fa "in the manner of "—
Vaka-Vili, ..... Fiji-wise.
Faka- Tonga. ..... Tonga-wise.
Fa-Samoa, ..... Samoa-wise.
INJUDICIOUS INTERVENTION. 89
their girls. I am sure they will enjoy the chance of a French talk with their countrymen.
It is quite impossible to get at the truth about anything here. Another German vessel went out of harbour this morning. No one knew she was going till she was actually under way. I can only hope that my letter may reach you some day, by some route! Meanwhile, good-night.
THE ISHMAELITE8 OF THE PACIFIC—INJUDICIOUS INTERVENTION—FA-SAMOA PICNIC — A TORCH-LIGHT WALK — TRAINING-COLLEGE AT MALUA — APT ILLUSTRATIONS BY NATIVE PREACHERS—DR TURNER—MISSION TO THE NEW HEBRIDES—ESCAPE TO SAMOA—OF MANY CHANGES ON MANY ISLES.
British Consulate, Thursday Night, 27th September.
I was roused at early dawn by a French sailor appearing at my open door. (All rooms in these countries open on to the verandah.) He brought despatches, which he begged I would immediately translate for the vice-consul. A most senseless row has taken place, and all the inhabitants are in as great a turmoil as wasps whose nest has been disturbed.
It appears that the American consul, though personally mixed up in many questionable transactions here, has contrived effectually to bewilder the mind of the too sympathetic and kind captain of £e Seignelay, with the story of his woes, and of the ill-treatment and insults to which he has been subjected. So last night he went on board to solicit armed assistance to enable him to capture several refractory American subjects, who refused to acknowledge his authority.
Without a thought of possible consequences, and acting on the kind impulse of giving the required help to an unfortunate official, Captain Aube agreed to lend Mr Griffin the necessary force. A considerable body of armed men were accordingly landed at 10 P.m., and were led by tbe U.S. consul to Stewart's store, whence Captain Wright had just departed. Stewart's agents wrote a protest against such proceedings, then walked out of the house, locking it, and pocketing the key, leaving only a sick man inside. They affirmed that Wright was not in the house, but added that if a warrant were obtained from the British consulate, the U.S. consul might search to his heait's content. Ignoring all remonstrance, the searchparty broke open the house, and sought in vain for the bird who had flown.
Meanwhile another boat-load had gone in the opposite direction to search for more delinquents, none of whom were captured. And a third party came to demand the surrender of the house next to this one, which the bishop claims as Church property, though Stewart's agent has thought fit there also to hoist the British flag. This demonstration also proved futile, as the said agent, Mr Hunt, presented a firm front, and refused to quit the premises. The whole thing has been a sort of Don Quixote and the windmills business, resulting in nothing but stirring up much bad blood. Of course immense excitement prevails in consequence of this insult offered to a house flying the Union-jack. (Poor Union-jack! it is made to sanction some very shady doings in these far corners of the earth.) The Franco - Griffin party allege that the house is American property, and that tho unjustifiable proceeding was that of breaking open the U.S. consular seals and hauling down the Stars and Stripes!
At the best, it is a low, contemptible row; and I am dreadfully sorry (as are all the French officers) that their kind captain's Quixotic kindness should have drawn him into it. But it is more difficult to arrive at the truth here than in any other place I know of. It seems as if every one's chief occupation in life was to rake up stories, old and new, against his neighbour; and these are swallowed and made much of, without any allowance for the fact that they are retailed by vicious foes. Some of the poison-mongers in this poor settlement were well-known characters in Fiji, and only left it when, after annexation, it became too warm for their comA "FA-SAMOA" PICNIC. 91
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 (Soeur Marie, Sceur 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, FarSamoa, 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 cpcoa-nut, which, when heated. turns to