Reason for Writing
The Preparation (Home, School, Varsity, Curacies)
Voyage to Norfolk Island
To the Islands
Visit to New Zealand
Return to Mala
Village School Life
Some Sea Adventures
A Blind Reef
Landing on One's Head
Just in Time
Visits to Artificial Islets
Again at Gnore Fou
Visit to Mala
The Returned Kanaks
A Visit to Fiu
A False Alarm
Detection of Guilt
Why No Boats Crew
The Returned Kanaka
Attempt on My Life
A Boat Voyage
Miss Young's Mission
Visit of the Pylades
The "S.X." to the Rescue and Its Sequel
A Witchcraft Case
Visit to Gela (Charlie Turu & Kava Drinking)
A Welcome Gift
A Sad Errand (Death Of Ako See?)
Arrival of Jack Talafuila
Meeting White People
Trouble at Maaneere
A Laden Boat
Round Mala with Bishop Wilson
A Fight at Qarea
A Record Boat Trip
Troublesome Friends Again
A Problem Happily Solved
Christmas At Gnore Fou--Breaking A Tabu
The New Year at Fiu
The Story of Micah's Pig
My Visit to Queensland
Re Murder of James Ivo
Return from Furlough
John Daomai Gets His Money Back
Incidents from Diary
A Cruel Deed
A Lively Interview
Charlie Sage (Death)
Jack Talafuita Ill
Joe Sili's Murder
Iroqata's Next Visit
A Brave Lady
A Narrow Escape
More Peaceful Times
More Peaceful Days
The War and the Islands
Ordination Days at Siota and Synod
Work at Home
This book is being written at the request and prompting of many friends. That is a bad excuse, I know, but it is a good reason. The writing of it is also an attempt to help the Melanesian Mission. For I owe more than I can tell of to my connection with that Society which ministers to the South Sea Islands. It has meant to me opportunities of service beyond expectation, warm friendships, and world wide links with many to whom it has made possible the privilege of knowing in far off Dominions and Colonies. So grateful to the past, for these are the personal reminiscences of an old fogey retired from active life, I look forward. I know there are many whose thoughts turn often to possibilities of serving God, Church and Country in far off lands. But they are perhaps doubtful of their capabilities, uncertain of their actual call. This book may encourage such men and women to test the reality of their vocation. It is an assurance that the most ordinary individual if called, that must be clear, may be used to do better and happier work than he, or she, even seemed likely to man's ordinary judgement, to do--I would say "follow the gleam". Impossible results will follow. Good work beyond anticipation will open out. Your weaknesses and failings will check all too often the fulfilling of those great possibilities, but there will still remain solid and lasting gains that would never be yours if you had refused to "follow the gleam". Melanesia, for example, is a fascinating country for those who ought to be there. Are you one of that number? This record may perhaps help you to decide.
Home, School, Varsity, Curacies
So now for a little personal history. I was brought up in an Evangelical home of the best type, child of the Parsonage, one of a large family. That home would seem perhaps today severe and narrow in its training. But all of us seven, six boys and one girl were happy under it, and those that still are living are today grateful for it. The Evangelical Protestant training was most happily linked to loyal Churchmanship, thorough Prayer Book teaching and a most valuable infusion of Keble and C. M. Yonge that was unconsciously welcome and fitted in most naturally. Our Sunday pabulum was Peep of Day, Granny's Chapters, the Catechism and later on the Articles! Keble's Christian Year was often read to me by my Mother, and I was early introduced to Charlotte Yonge's tales. Her life of Bishop Patteson was put in my way. The narrative part was eagerly read, the letters were long and skipped. There remained vividly the living figure of a great Saint, Missionary and hero, and it never faded. Sub-consciously the call to Melanesia was whispered and received, and remained unexpressed.
I was a very delicate boy, small, and permanently weakened by an accident from about six years of age. So I could not be sent like my brothers to a boarding school. But happily York was my parents' home, and S. Peter's School, one of England's oldest foundations, available. I thereby gained at home much that was special to myself, though losing in other ways. I was often laid by and lost a good many whole terms. But it was cheering to hear my Father's joyful telling of an interview on one occasion with the somewhat grim and sardonic head. My Father happened to remark to explain my breakdown that they had had a great difficulty in rearing me. The answer came in that sarcastic voice, "Well, perhaps he was worth rearing." So I stayed on and managed to keep my place in school, scored for the eleven, and attended vociferously every football match, and left to go to Cambridge. Already Ordination was the accepted prospect. Never once was it urged, but never did I think of anything else. So the Theological Tripos was, I am afraid with very medium energy, read for, and coxing the boat was my main recreation. S. Catherine's was then a very small College. Men of every year knew each other and any member of the College was a possible pal. J. N. Figgis, afterwards of wide fame as preacher and writer, though a fourth year man, was one of the set I was chiefly with. Even in those his agnostic days he was a good influence and most scrupulous not to insinuate doubts into minds that they would hurt. C. L. Carr, now Bishop of Hereford, was stroke for the boat and a daily associate. Wilton, son of a poet and himself one too, was a close pal. I didn't belong to any religious societies though definitely preparing for ordination. I missed countless opportunities that contacts with those ready to help might have afforded, but I gained perhaps in independence. I remember Westcott's lectures, I owed much, too, to Professor Lumby's kind voluntary coaching. The coaching itself went over my head, but the hour a week so freely given had much value. I got through Tripos with a third, my Hebrew was, alas, a very weak point. Then a year of very serious illness followed and a very dangerous operation marvellously successful and Ryle's reverent though modernist O. T. teaching was a revelation. That deprived me incidentally of a fourth year reading for the History Tripos with Figgis as coach. But it brought other and different gains, the lesson of being brought face to face with death.
It was shortly before this that my Mother died after a long illness. That was a terrible loss. But it left ineffaceably the uplifting memory of one of a naturally saintly character. She taught us by living, as though she could do no other, with perfect simplicity, a life of patience, gentleness and wisdom, and of unwearying duty. The daily trivial round of home and parish was adorned with quiet beauty in all its multifarious details. She didn't preach, or urge, she led the way. She never even said "How I shall rejoice if you are a missionary," but I never doubted that so it was.
In all these happenings I see looking back again and again the shadow of the finger of a guiding hand. Why Cambridge, for example. My Father, an old rowing blue, was an Oxford man and wanted to see me there; I only just missed a Hastings scholarship to Queen's, Oxford. Then my Father applied for an exhibition at S. Catherine's, Cambridge, meant for the sons of S. Catherine's men. He got one for me by pointing out that both my grandfathers had happened to be S. Catherine's men, and asked if mathematical Cambridge did not reckon 2 grandfathers = 1 father. So Cambridge it was with its Westcott and Figgis and Ryle influences. Then restored after my operation to better health than I had ever yet enjoyed, I was ordained Deacon in York Cathedral. Archbishop Maclagan was truly a Father-in-God to his Ordinands and I was fortunate to be one of them. Bishop Smithies was at Bishop Thorpe, a grand wreck of a wonderfully fine physique, and one to listen to with reverence. He preached the Ordination sermon. There were seven of us Deacons only ordained and I was Gospeller.
Cottingham, between Hull and Beverley, was my first curacy. My Rector, Mr. Ramsden, was an unconventional Parish Priest, formerly an inspector of Church Schools in Chester Diocese. He was a good Pastor to those who understood him and a very kind friend to me, sharing very freely in easy talks with me all his Parish concerns. He had a keen sense of humour and many idiosyncrasies very much his own. Cottingham was about four miles from Hull, and was the home of some of the Wilson family, the great shipping firm, and other Hull merchants. It had a very fine old Church, which under my Rector was restored. The Church was re-roofed and the new floor lowered to its original level. I saw a good deal of the Hull clergy. They were at that time in two very fixed groups who saw very little of each other. I managed to profit to get a foot in both camps. A little illustration of the rigidity of "High" and "Low" I will give here. Mr Ramsden, not a party man, though mainly Evangelical, was accounted "High" because he took the Eastward position. I vividly remember the surprised gratitude of Canon McCormick, Vicar of Holy Trinity Hull and leader of the Evangelicals when he came to Cottingham and was asked to Celebrate at Matins. He found this was made possible for him by specially placed hassock at the North end of the Altar, so that he could take the Northward position, to him essential. I am sure it was a lesson good for us all.
After three and a half years at Cottingham, though happy there, I felt the need of a change and fresh experience. I went as Curate to a friend of my Father's, N. F. McNeile, son of the famous Dean McNeile, Vicar of Braffterton between York and Ripon. It was a blessed experience for me of close contact with a saint. Mr McNeile was blind, and had been so from childhood. He was the first blind man to be ordained in the Church of England. He was a good Latin, Greek and Hebrew scholar, a musician, and a hymn writer, a well known mission preacher, unflaggingly cheery, with a great sense of humour and a very diligent Pastor. He was strongly Evangelical by conviction and also a staunch Churchman, a somewhat rare combination. He walked daily and hourly naturally with God. His laugh rang true and challenged response. His interest in those around him, and in the events of the day was unflagging. In his wife, he found the truest and loyalest of helpers, she was eyes to him without interfering with his marvellous independence. For he lived as nearly as possible as though he had his sight. If I remember right Mr McNeile had been known to walk to Brafferton station alone, he often did that, across a field, and down a lane, and then take a ticket for Ireland making the journey by himself. Anyway, he was very well known on the N.E.R. owing to his mission work, and could, if necessary, go anyway alone with ready help of guards and porters. His work and influence was of immense value to all who were capable of receiving it. Verily out of his blindness he brought light to many. His spiritual vision was clear and unclouded and he told that which he saw and realized.
At Brafferton, my latest wish of Missionary work was fostered. C.M.S. was in possession there. But somehow failed to grip me, nor did S.P.S., though I had belonged to both younger clergy unions at Hull. Nor did U.M.C.A. In fact, to offer to any one Society to me seemed too much like choosing for oneself. Just then was formed the Missionary Council for Service Abroad. The Bishops overseas were to tell the Council of their needs and of the kind of men wanted for work to be done. Men at home were to volunteer for Service to the Council and leave the when and where to go to its discretion if accepted. This seemed to me to meet all difficulties, it was a real "here I am, send me" offer without conditions. I vividly recall one night, when these things were much on my mind, walking out late at night, restless an uncertain, as far as a bridge. Then and there came conscious contact with God and a definite call. My Vicar was all encouragement though we felt parting. My Father was willing though I was about the last of his sons at home. So I offered to the Council. An interview followed in London. Both the present Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London were on the board. The actual interview was short. I was accepted for Service and then--what a thrill!--came the immediate question: Will you go to--I wondered--India? China? Africa?--no, Melanesia? "Why," I said startled, "that is the one place I should choose, if I had been choosing." "Then," said the Bishop of Stepney, "we may feel sure of the Hand of God with us. The Bishop of Melanesia has just sent to the Council an urgent appeal for men for the Diocese." Hence the immediate offer to me. I soon completed my plans for going there. A remarkable man, the Rev. L.P. Robin, an ex-missionary of Melanesia, was at the time Organizing Secretary. He took immense pains to help me in every possible way to go out well equipped both in body and mind. I was soon introduced into a very warm circle of friends. Mrs John Selwyn, widow of the second Bishop, was as it were our Queen Bee. Bishop Jacob was our wise Chairman, and the Rev. A. E. Corner was just beginning his long service for the Melanesian Mission in England that still continues after thirty-five years of singular devotion and energy. Curiously enough, I had met him and applied to be his curate in Yorkshire, but was turned down. We became life-long friends once linked to Melanesia.
I sailed by the Orient Line via Suez and Colombo for Sydney. It was my first of many subsequent experiences of travel on a big liner, though the "Omrah" on which I sailed would not seem a big ship today, she was then in 1900 the crack ship of the Orient Fleet. I travelled second class and found that my fellow passengers all out to share together in the pleasure of the voyage. I was S.P.C.K. Chaplain on board. That meant special responsibilities to the third class passengers and access to the first class. Most of the steerage were emigrants to Australia, men with their wives and children. These were, indeed, a mixed company. The Purser reckoned that seventeen different languages were spoken among them, mainly European. I found a friend and volunteer helper in Hewgill, now Canon Hewgill of Adelaide in all the Chaplain's various tasks. We rain daily children's school in the mornings which was highly popular, and, as a rule, fully attended. It occupied for them a goodly section of the long mornings and their parents knew that they were out of mischief and could rest. It gave us ready contact with their parents before handing them on to the notice of the Priest of the Parish where they were going to settle in Australia, though sometimes they did not know that themselves. For many had no definite place to go to. They were a very orderly, decent crowd on the whole, though there was one rather ugly attempted knifing incident between Italians very soon suppressed. I remember being surprised to find Afghan camel drivers on board. They were wanted for useful camel teams on the wide waterless lands of W. Australia. The first contact with Egypt, once clear of Suez and Port Said, is unforgettable. One seemed to walk among living Bible pictures that had once been between the vast pages of some illustrated Bible of childhood days. Going through the Red Sea in August was very, very hot, but worth it for the refreshment of gulping down fresh air as we rounded Cape Guardafui just before sunset. The ship was turned and backed to make a breeze and mattresses laid on the decks at night. Mount Sinai gave some of us a thrill as we passed it on Sunday. It provided a topical subject for the evening sermon. I think that some of our unsophisticated passengers were very much mentally like some of the Norfolk Islanders I got to know later, whose relations were in Egypt in the war, who fancied vaguely that Jerusalem and Canaan and all Bible places were in some inexplicable way unearthly, and geographically in Heaven. So Mount Sinai seen made the Israelites real to some perhaps for the first time. Colombo was a very attractive port of call for me, as I had a brother in Ceylon who met me and showed me round. Then the long three weeks on the boundless ocean till we sighted, and then reached, Fremantle and set foot in Australia.
There was time for a visit to Perth. I can't say that I found that part of the vast continent attractive, though the Australian strength and vim struck one. Adelaide was more to my liking, with its gardens and more English atmosphere. Already time was beginning to idealize and mellow the early rawness. Then an American-like Melbourne with its wide rectangular streets and cable trams and air of business and political bustle. And so to Sydney. We passed through the narrow gateway into that vast and lovely harbour and so to our anchorage. I happened to know no one in Sydney, though I had introductions, so went to a hotel. It was Saturday.
Hardly was I settled in than the telephone called me. It was the well known Rector of St. James speaking to welcome me to Sydney and invited me to his house and--could I just go to Botany Bay! on Sunday and take services? There was no one else available in a sudden emergency. Well, I thought, I'm not the first to be sent to Botany Bay immediately on arriving in Australian so I'll go as a volunteer.
Shortly after reaching Sydney the Melanesian mission ship "The Southern Cross" arrived from Norfolk Island. The Bishop, Bishop Wilson and Archdeacon Callwick were on board, also twenty Melanesian scholars from Norfolk Island school come for a month in Sydney. It was in connection with a great series of Missionary Demonstrations and an exhibition organized with most wonderful enthusiasm and success by Bishop Montgomery, then Bishop of Tasmania. The twenty boys were picked scholars from the Mission Central School at Norfolk Island. So I first saw Melanesians in a very strange environment. They needed extra clothes first; coats, boots and socks were unaccustomed wear, the coat not wholly so. They were hatless and attracted a lot of casual attention in Sydney especially in trams and buses, with their strange, stiff, up-growing, well-combed up hair. I was at once put on to help to look after them. Adams was their other guardian and the Bishop was constantly at hand. We attended innumerable meetings in halls, visited many schools, boys and girls, and various private houses for garden meetings. None of them had ever been in the white man's land before, and the experience dazed them somewhat. I had on the way out picked up a little "Mota"--the language used in the school, and learnt by everybody and the whole staff. A Mota Bible and Dictionary were my aids. Only two boys of the twenty were Mota boys, to all the others it was an acquired language, akin to, though very different from their own particular one. But I could not talk it. I recall a somewhat ludicrous experience in that connection. On, I think, the first evening after they were settled in the boys were to have a lantern lecture given them. Adams was to take it, translating the lecturer's explanations into "Mota". At the last moment he 'phoned me, "Sorry, engaged for the evening, will you do the lecture interpreting?" then he rang off and left me fixed. So when the hour came this was the sort of thing that happened. There would be thrown on to the screen, say, an African picture, showing a lion, etc. The lecturer would dilate on forest, lions, etc. then I would gasp out something like this in Mota words: "See--man--woman--black--tree big--lion--live Africa--very big--strong--fierce--eat man," and so on. I hope they got some faint idea of something from each picture. And my friends there were complimenting me on being able to talk "the language" so quickly!
I am glad that I first met Melanesians in Sydney. They looked strange and out of their environment. So much was this the case that they were to some little more than an amusing troop of performing monkeys aping white people. I wish some of these folks could have heard what Melanesians thought of them and their foolish questions and fussings. They saw soon enough the genuinely kind, thoughtful interest of many friends and appreciated it, but the merely curious simply bored them though stimulating interest. I began to realize the vital truth for all missionaries that "natives" are just ordinary human beings, with ever varying shares of our vices, virtues, feelings and appetites, and reactions to the unexpected, or to sympathy just like ours, The differences that look so tremendous are really superficial and due to their so different environment mental and spiritual and physical. To treat them as fellow human beings not a separate caste is the great secret of real approach. It is so easy to think "Melanesians" do this, "Melanesians" think that and so to segregate them as separate; it is so difficult to get over the outward appearance and find men just like ourselves, doing and feeling as we should have done and thought if in their environment and of their inheritance. That is why Christianity is for all men everywhere and receivable by them. It meets our common humanity. The sophism civilize first and Christianize afterwards is a shallow unintelligent attitude. It reveals total lack of understanding and is rooted in self-satisfied contempt. As an example--the head of the twenty "boys" in Sydney was one Worow--a man of perhaps forty. To me he seemed a child to be guarded and bidden and his respectful behaviour and ready obedience seemed to justify that. I thought as in part in charge of the "boys" I was managing them, I did not for a long time realize that Worow's lightest word was of far more influence than any of mine, and how the welfare and behaviour of the "boys" was dependent on a sound good native leader and his, to the new chum, invisible authority veiled by his visible deference.
We looked odd to Sydney eyes, the twenty natives with stiff black bushes carefully trimmed on their heads, very awkward in full suits of clothes, travelling hither and thither chiefly by 'bus, escorted by two or three white men in clerical collars. We would arrive for a meeting and find very often the platform arranged with two or three and twenty chairs all in a semi-circle. Adams would be placed at one end and I at the other, if the Bishop or some dignitary took part his chair would be in the middle. It looked uncommonly like a Christie Minstrel entertainment. And to some of the audience that was pretty much what they came for. The white men said their say, the "boys" sang hymns and canticles in Mota at intervals. There was a special Magnificat, I remember that they sang extremely well.
I remember one meeting opening somewhat unexpectedly by Adams leaning forward and saying across the platform to me "Now brother Bones"
What, I was often asked after a rain of queries as to who they were and whence, most astonishes these boys in civilized Sydney. Trains? Size of houses? Crowds? Telephones? (Well, they were a bit moved when they heard the Bishop's voice over the telephone.) But to all these inexplicable just white-manish ways and doings were phlegmatic. But I did see them really keenly stirred once, nudging each other, pointing and chattering. That was when we had an afternoon at the Zoo. Oh, the monkeys perhaps--no. Though they were found amusing. (There none in Melanesia.) Lions? Tigers? No, merely big not exciting beasts--the elephant? Simply "Gate goe we poa," what a big pig! No, it was something at once novel and yet intelligible, and that was--a stork standing on one leg. That they did enjoy. Later, no doubt, after time for absorption other wonders were talked of for years.
On the whole question of taking such primitive people for a visit to civilization, I think experience is against it. It fails to rouse the best kind of interest; that is already ours. It does not do the "boys" any good morally or physically, for they see much that is amazingly un-Christian and the strange climate, food, etc, may easily upset them. Of the twenty boys one died of pneumonia, another was never strong again and I doubt if any were benefited on the whole by the experience.
VOYAGE TO NORFOLK ISLAND
When the month of celebrations was over we all boarded the "Southern Cross" IV for the voyage to Norfolk Island. That meant six hundred miles in a tiny vessel, a singularly active pitcher, roller and jumper. For most of us a sickly experience, but I was luckily a very good sailor. Picture the little vessel, a very graceful yacht to look at, but a very cramped home for all who used her on voyages from Auckland to Norfolk Island and then through the New Hebrides, Santa Cruz and Solomon Island groups. The saloon had six berths round it, for the missionaries, under each berth a shallow drawer for his wardrobe. Under the saloon were stored in the hold all the boxes and stores, on the boxes slept and lived in bad weather the Melanesians. To keep the hold clean was a big job as it meant so much box shifting and could never be really thoroughly done while at sea. Off the saloon, entered by a hatch, was a curiously shaped hold where Melanesian woman and children had to live while en route to and from their island homes to Norfolk Island. But after all it was "akuninu" i.e. our ship and something to be proud of and quite indispensable. Already a bigger and better "Southern Cross" was being planned, which did thirty years noble service in the Mission. We had an engine, capable in calm weather of doing five knots, and to take the yacht in and out of harbour, but useless against a breeze.
We had a pretty good trip to Norfolk Island. That little island stands out of the ocean in isolated beauty about half way between Australia and the New Hebrides, six hundred miles from either. It had been used as a final inescapable convict station, for the worst convicts, some three thousand of them. To them in a place of torture its beauty and fruitfulness must have seemed bitterly out of place. Escape was impossible, except by death natural or often self-sought. The discipline of fear was brutal and debasing to official and convict alike. Then, when the convict days were over, came a change indeed. The island in all its beauty, roaded and cultivated everywhere was given as they were told, by Queen Victoria their own Queen, to the descendants of the mutineers of The Bounty in place of Pitcairn Island, a far inferior place. Later eleven hundred acres of the island was bought by the Melanesian Mission for a farm and school for the Melanesians who had previously been taken to Auckland, New Zealand, for training. It was for a time an ideal arrangement, though later on the growth of the Mission and possibility for white folk of homes on the islands made it advisable to have the training schools in Melanesia too instead of outside it. The Norfolk Islanders then numbered about 600. They were simple folk showing clear signs in language and ways of their mixed Anglo-Tahitian descent. They were religious in mind, strong in body, simple and intelligent, very hospitable and of a most kindly temper, full of emotion, easy going and good natured, somewhat lax in morals, with a not too rigid code as to truth, marriage, honesty and so forth, but a very high one of kindliness and neighbourliness. They had their land to cultivate and houses to repair or build, and plenty of food and a beautiful climate. Not much cash was needed, just enough to buy a few simple clothes. That they got chiefly by whaling. They were magnificent boatmen, and did a certain amount of work, especially cargo carting for the Mission when the "Southern Cross" was in. At that time the Governor was appointed by the Colonial Office and the people were very proud of their direct connection with the Crown. Now Norfolk Island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the romance of their island as Queen Victoria's gift to them, and of themselves as it were her personal tenants has passed away.
The Mission bought 1,000 acres of this island and 100 more were given about 1865. Bishop Selwyn's plan was to place here a school for the practical and spiritual training of his Melanesians as teachers. Its position half way between New Zealand and the islands made it more climatically suitable for the Melanesians than New Zealand, and a suitable place for the white women, and men too for at least part of the year. For living in the islands was then impossible for women and very uncontinuous for men.
The school and farm grew and prospered and did fine work for many years, and was of great benefit to the Island itself. When I arrived a good deal of the old Spartan regime still obtained though it was beginning to pass away. One of the Mission principles in dealing with a new chum was to thrown him into the water until he learned to swim. Supervision and guidance were not made too obtrusive, though always readily given. The newcomer felt that he was trusted and expected to do his loyal best.
I recall my first day at Norfolk Island. The day's programme was landing cargo, the principle was white and brown to co-operate in this, as in the farm and other manual work. So I spent the day as one of a line receiving and passing on bricks from the "Southern Cross" to carts to be taken up to the Mission. There was, I remember, quite a lot of skin off my hands added to the bricks, and next day what was still left was added. However, it was novel and good fun in good company, and I felt zealous. Very soon, being junior, I was told off as was the custom to the charge of the kitchen. I had to start from the profoundest ignorance of the veriest elements of cooking with one morning's coaching. While the others were on the farm from 10 to 1 I was in the kitchen. A squad, changing each week, of about a dozen boys were under me. They did all the cooking for the 230 boys and girls under my superintendence, which was slight, and I had to cook for the whites daily mid-day one meal. That meal was a two course affair of mutton, or beef, or fowls, and daily rice pudding. The married folks' houses provided in turn tea and cakes after the 15 minutes meal. Well, it was good for me but hard on the staff. They grinned at and bore magnificently some very queer doings.
My reputation was that of the worst cook on record, till my successor, later on our Bishop, surpassed my misdeeds. After that very sensibly a professional cook was appointed, much to the benefit of our digestions and of all the kitchen arrangements. Perhaps my greatest feat was plum pudding on Christmas Day. That was the one non-rice pudding day of the whole year. One of the senior ladies undertook as was her custom to make the puddings up; the whole mass has been previously, with much ceremony, mixed. The staff puddings came duly along wrapped in nice white cloths to be boiled. These I unwrapped and put into saucepans to boil. I had been told all you have to do is boil the puddings. I never thought of boiling the cloths. The result was weird, a sort of thick sweet soup emerged from the saucepans and looked odd on the table. I remember in this connection a happy though of mine for fast days, not feast days, i.e. to provide curried eggs on Fridays. On the first Friday the whole staff were for the novel dish, on the second Friday only a few, on the third, no one. The cause I found out was that I had liberally scattered the curry powder on the eggs without mixing it first in gravy. My chicken too, that was Thursday's feast, came to the table with an undue amount of contents better removed when being prepared. Well, one learns and lives. I was glad, and so were the others, when I was taken off the kitchen job to go on the ordinary farm work from ten to one. It was a full day at Norfolk Island for us all, on duty from six to ten. Services, schools, farm work, games, nursing sick boys, and house master's duties, each had their appointed hours. Holidays were short except for ten days at Christmas. That ten days meant for the staff a somewhat extra strenuous time. We were very busy for the boys were all on hand, providing amusements and keeping them as peaceful as possible. In holiday time rows were apt to break out, which if not sternly checked would have had serious consequences. Freed from the regular routine the boys easily lost their heads and the old inter-island hostilities would flare up in ugly fashion. Generally well mixed as they were in school dormitory and work and play, they lived very happily together and their innate fighting instincts and mutual hostilities were kept under. I began to see that the main act of government was to trust and use the senior boys. Twelve or thirteen of these were "captains", each with his "mate" and about twelve sailor-men under him. The system of sets worked very well.
TO THE ISLANDS
For about eighteen months I remained at Norfolk Island awaiting my time to be sent down to the islands for missionary work there. But amongst all those islands where was to be my post. It was not for me to choose of course. Torres, a little group of four islands, two really Christian, was first thought of. Mr Robin, their first resident missionary had had to resign and there was no successor; next Christian Gala in the Solomons also vacant was planned. Then came a request from Mr Woodford, the newly appointed first Resident Commissioner for the Solomons. He had been asked for a missionary by some native Christians just released from work on sugar plantations in Queensland and Fiji and returned to the great heathen island of Mala. Mr Woodford passed on the request top the Bishop, for the Melanesian Mission was at that time the only one at work in the Solomons. As I was the only free member of the staff not already appointed to island work, Bishop Wilson offered me the new district hitherto untouched. Mala was the largest, most virile, most heathen, most populated of all the islands of the group. There was a much smaller southern end where work had been going on for many years, but it was divided by a sea water channel from north Mala, which was untouched. Of course I gladly accepted the offer though I felt terribly unequal to tackling the job. What could a very small, peaceable individual do with 50,000 heathen, most of them naked and many of them cannibals. As one of the staff put it, it was like sending David to slay Goliath. But as I felt sure that it was God's Finger pointing the way, for there were so many indications of this, I was very glad to be sent, though wondering much. So when the "Southern Cross" sailed in September 1902 I was on board.
In about a month we reached Mala. Mr Ivens was to be put down with me for three weeks to put me wise as to island life, before returning when "Southern Cross" returned to his own district of south Mala and Ulawa. The place we were to be landed at was Gnore Fou on the east coast about 20 miles from the north end of the hundred mile long island. Gnore Fou (anglice a Rocky Nose) is a little promontory about 120 foot high with a lagoon at its foot. The lagoon is about 20 miles long and about an average of 100 yards in width. It is dotted with about 23 artificially built islets. On these live closely packed the sea folk of Mala, a virile and healthy lot. Their occupation is fishing at low tides on the reef. Their pre-occupation is fear, in hostility to and in defiance of the bush people who inhabit the woods on the main island. They had a little garden land shore opposite their islet, but no secure possession of it. They went out in parties the men carrying guns or clubs, for the daily work, done by women, in their gardens, except in truce times, liable to be broken at any moment. The women had daily, generally, though not always, under armed guard, to get the water and wood needed for the islet hits. The water was carried in bundles of bamboos, the wood piled in bundles on their backs, plus the latest baby and the latest but one toddler. They went about until married quite naked. After marriage the slightest aprons, leaf or calico sufficed. The men wore nothing except belt and ornaments, except the growing numbers who had adopted the calico loin cloth.
Mala with its dense population was the main recruiting ground of the Solomons for plantation work in Queensland and Fiji. Now these men were returning in increasing numbers to their homes, some after many years of plantation life and the use of civilized amenities. Some of them were Christians, taught in Queensland by devoted workers on their behalf. Of these Christians some were Church "boys". It was these and other Wesleyan and undenominational Christians who had appealed to Mr Woodford for a missionary. One little band of ten had settled or tried to settle at Gnore Fou, on vacant land there to which some had tribal claims. The attempt to start a Christian village and spread the Faith was a fine and difficult one. First they were harassed by Qaisulea, a big sea chief near by, who wanted them close to himself under his protection and not at Gnore Fou where the islet of Fera-si-boa a few hundred yards away had the main say. So Quaisulea raided them, took their goods, calico, axes etc. etc., brought in boxes from Queensland, threw their Bibles and Prayer Books into the sea. That was as far as he dare go, for he or his islet always get-at-able by the Government, and a Governor was now in the Solomons, 70 miles away, with power unknown and only guessed at. The raided men with Amasia their leader, a devout Wesleyan and an ardent preacher, hung on at Gnore Fou. They cleared a bit of land on the top of the hill and built on tall, fifteen feet high piles, a long hut to camp in. The islet folk of Fera-si-boa were their friends and as far as their limited sway went, protectors. The bush people around were nearly all hostile. Friends of Fera-si-boa were ipso facto enemies, and these men too brought strange ways and customs offensive to the tribal spirits. Therefore they must be attacked and driven out.
Just before the "Southern Cross" came, Gnore Fou had lost its leader Amasia. He had been enticed down the hill by two men to buy food and then in the presence of his little boy, shot. But even then Gnore Fou held on and clung to its one hit and little clearing. Those left were there to eagerly welcome us. And their Fera-si-boa and other friends were clamorous in their reception and vociferous in their assurances and in high excitement at the prospect of a white man come to live among them. The white man meant to some great vague hopes of money, trade, of Government support, of prestige that would make their foes look small. So the "Southern Cross" had a warm welcome when she entered the little harbour of Gnore Fou. Flocks of canoes surrounded her laden with excited noisy natives. The men clambered on board. The women stayed in the canoes laden with things they hoped to sell, bananas, yams, etc. The men carried with them for sale all sorts of things, clubs, old spears, and new badly made ones, shell ornaments, porpoise teeth, turtle shell. What they wanted was tobacco, "tabac". A stick of tobacco, a flattened piece about six inches long and half an inch wide cost them halfpence per stick (today three pence) was the chief medium of exchange. But the prime excitement after all was receiving the white men ashore. So off we went in the ship's boat, the Bishop and a few other missionaries for a look round, and Ivens and I for a stay.
Ivens was to be three weeks with me. He had had much experience of south Mala and could make himself understood in the Lau language which the sea people all talked both in south and north Mala. So up the hill, ready hands carrying our boxes, we went. The boxes were a one man load of strong make and a size fitted to go under the thwarts of a boat. After a look round the Bishop and the others left to go back to the ship, which as usual had no time to waste. Then three farewell whistles were blown and off she went.
Then Ivens and I turned to settle in. The aforesaid hut was the only available dwelling place. So up the ladder and in at the low door we scrambled. We took one end of it and drew our boxes in a line across the floor as our portion. The rest was crowded with excited men, talking, smoking and spitting, bidding us in their own way welcome. The handful of Christians were for the moment in the background. They were clothed, over clothed in fact, quiet decent fellows, very anxious to be able to live good Christian lives with their wives and families in peace.
The first few hours gave me revelation of the state of things around me. We took my boat--every missionary has to have a boat, a whale boat, about 30-foot long, with sails, only one for choice, a lug sail, and five oars; the rudder was a longer and heavier oar, the steer oar. This gave command over the boat necessary in a surf, which an ordinary rudder cannot give. We went in the boat on the lagoon southwards to have a look round and took shot guns with us for pigeons or better still ducks for our supper. A cartridge cost one and halfpence, a tin of meat seven pence; both are about equal in meat provision, but a duck or pigeon is fresh and economical; even if you cook it luxuriously in a tin of soup it does not waste money and makes it a very stimulating meal. We soon found some duck, for there were many, as our eager friends told us, close at hand. Ivens fired and got, I think, a couple almost at once. The shot reverberated. We picked up the ducks. In an incredibly short space of time came tearing ahead of a string of followers, a lithe, active fellow: "Ahei e maena?" he cried out. "Who has been killed?" It was locally then taken for granted that every cartridge fired meant a man killed. I remembered a little later a request from the bush, 'Would I, when I went pigeon shooting, send up word', it was trying to have the flurry and excitement of rushing down to see who had been killed in the fight, as they had always done on hearing a shot.
Our new friend, so he turned out to be, was one La-in-ao, so nicknamed, i.e. the arriver in front. He was a local bush chief, remarkably quick and active in movement, a friend of our Fera-si-boan friends, a ruthless fighting man, always available for hire on an "omea" or fighting expedition, or to do a killing; a sincere friend and champion of Gnore Fou, though a staunch heathen, genial and kindly, a devoted parent, and an ally but sometimes rather a compromising one, as the sequel will show. We all got back to my hut and gathered the Christians for a short Evensong. While this was being said outside on the beach was very nearly a tragedy. One of our visitors was an islet chief Ramfola. A friend and ally of Fera-si-boa and so of Gnore-Four, a humorous fellow, noisy, boastful, cruel and cunning. He found on the beach one of his wives in her canoe, who had come in curiosity against his orders. In his rage he was proceeding to attack and kill her, but a young chief from Ivens' district who was with him pro tem held him fast, until he came to his senses and his fury cooled, much, no doubt, to Ramfola's relief. But it looked very ugly for some time. Well slowly the crowd began to melt away and we were left with our Christians in the hut.
The next thing was supper, duck in soup, ship's biscuit and jam and butter from our tins, and tea. My canteen provided all we needed, the cups, saucers, knives, spoons, forks, etc. The case made a bucket and the lid a basin. We had cork mattresses and blankets for a comfortable night, a four foot by 18 inch table and a form to match it for furniture, also camp chairs for luxury. Our boxes held our clothes--ordinary costume was khaki trousers, flannel shirt and shoes. In cases were out stores from Auckland, tinned meat and fruit, tea, sugar, butter, etc., calico, knives, belts, etc., for barter.
After supper we had a long talk with our friends, partly in "pidgin" English, partly in "Lan". We set before them what we had come for. Their part was to build a village, with a "holy house" for school and church, and a good hut for the missionary, and to gather round them those willing to settle and learn the Christian way of life. Their heathen friends were to help as protectors against attack, and in building, garden making, etc. They set to work at one eagerly and gladly. In about a week Ivens and I collected a boat's crew and started for a visit to another little Christian settlement we heard of at a place called Mala about 25 miles away at the north end of the island. That meant about eight hours rowing mainly on the long reef, and then along the open coast unguarded by reefs. We under rated the time, for as I was to learn by many experiences reef travelling is very uncertain work. At low tide when much of the reef is dry you have to twist and wind your way through tortuous narrow passages, dragging the boat in many places, or help up altogether till the tide turns. The tide is very uncertain, sometimes the reef is nearly completely dry, sometimes you can row or sail even at low tide. The natives themselves cannot tell beforehand. On this occasion we did not get to Mala till after sunset, and a very few minutes after sunset it is night. Loud shouts proclaimed our presence and called the Mala people up above to come down and show us the way. Down they came, to make sure it really was "white fellow missionary" in great delight headed by their leader, one Peter. They were originally a party of six Christians from Queensland, but already numbered a good many more and had a village of their own. Up the steep rocks we scrambled lit by bamboo torches, (how fast these blaze away). Peter himself was a fine fellow, kindly, calm, fearless, an earnest Christian and keen evangelist. He had been taught by an undenominational mission in Queensland, but was glad indeed to accept us and to welcome the native teacher from us. Already Mala was getting established and after many troubles beginning to be respected and to grow. Our visit was a very pleasant one, the first of many. Then we returned to Gnore Fou to await the "Southern Cross" on her return call on the way back to Auckland. She came and a very great disappointment followed. She brought orders from Mr Woodford the Commissioner that I was not to be allowed, until things were quieter, to stay in north Mala. That was a blow, but the Government was responsible and had the power. The best course, we settled, was that I should collect a few young boys and go pro tem. to Siota on the adjacent Christian Island of Gela. At Siota were the buildings still left of a boys' school that a dysentery epidemic had brought to an end. It would provide shelter and work for me and the boys and I was to have general supervision of Gela till the white Priest arrived to take charge. There was an interregnum just then. Archdeacon Comins who arranged this was an ardent Siota founder and worker, and hoped that this might help to its revival. (Siota is now the main MM station in the Islands, with its Cathedral and College.)
So off I went on the "Southern Cross" with six small boys, and established myself in Siota. There was a good house there, a fine well, a garden, a good winding road up hill to the house and chapel, and a fine harbour to look down on. For staff I had Harry Burke, a Queensland plantation hand, then a Sydney dweller, with a variety of ploys, in a barber's shop, as cook, etc. etc., than at Norfolk Island. Harry was a big, able, fluent fellow, absurdly conceited but not offensively so, really an able and useful major domo. I found it very difficult to mention anything that Harry had not done, or at any rate could not easily do, better than anyone else. But he had a hearty laugh, a good temper, was honest and clean and had, too, a good influence with the boys. It was at Siota that I had my first and probably my most violent attack of fever. Harry quite rose to the occasion and proved an excellent nurse. He cheered my convalescence by bringing me, wreathed in smiles, a pudding of his own invention, which he called "Siota Pudding". As far as I remember it was a boiling together of various compounds of native growth, of a bright yellow colour and quite palatable.
I did a good deal of visiting round the Island, ministering to the Christians. Alfred Lombu, the veteran native Priest, was my guide and mentor. His courtesy and deference recalled the Selwyn-Patterson days, and first contacts with the natives and Gela's welcome to them. My six months there were soon ended, but gave me an insight into the great gulf between a Christian and a heathen island before "civilisation" has affected either. It is not the contrast between absolute white and black, but rather between upwards and downwards, some moral self control or none whatever, or if I may so put it, a morality Christian however imperfect and amorality.
VISIT TO NEW ZEALAND
The return of the "Southern Cross" brought a new development, I was not to go back to Mala immediately, but first to make a tour through New Zealand on behalf of the Mission, depositing my six boys en route at Norfolk Island for a six years training there if they turned out worth it, so that they could become teachers of heathen Mala in its own tongues.
The tour through New Zealand was strenuous and delightful. I visited both islands from south to north. I found that warm welcome and gracious hospitality of which a Melanesian Missionary was ever sure in New Zealand. Some lifelong friends were made. The workings of an unestablished Church as organised under the great Bishop Selwyn's guiding hand was a very interesting study to a Church of England person fresh from England. Everywhere was a welcome and a ready hearing. I never felt I was just "the deputation" so familiar in an English parish, but someone they wanted to see and hear from of that which was their concern.
RETURN TO MALA
At last came the time to return to Mala and start again there. I was to be landed again at Gnore Fou. With me were four Melanesians, missionary volunteers. The senior was Johnson Telegsom of Motalava, an experienced teacher. He had met and married at Norfolk Island a Mala girl, which was a rather unusual mating. So instead of taking her back to Christian Motalava, he was to go with her to Mala with me. Brian Meneteli was another volunteer, he came from Santa Cruz, a well meaning friendly soul but unstable, a typically Santa Cruzian character. My third ally was James Ivo of Gela, the adjacent island to Mala. He was a fine character. From childhood a Christian, schooled at Norfolk Island, where for eight he lived blamelessly, a cherry fellow, and now happily married to a Gela girl. But instead of settling in Gela in a good position both as one of a chief's family and a teacher, he volunteered for Mala, the old enemy of Gela, whose need was so great. We had a warm welcome from the little party still hanging on a Gnore Fou, and a vociferous one from their heathen friends and allies. A big hut had been build as a school house and a temporary church, it had also to serve as my first home till they soon built a hut for me and my belongings. We began schooling at once and daily prayers, collecting what children we could for an hour every morning after Matins and in the evenings teaching the adults. The first job set to with tremendous energy by the Gnore Fou handful and a big squad from Fera-si-boa was the building of a very solid stockade of tree trunks placed upright all round the village, leaving only the sea face open. That was to guard against invaders from the bush, on the sea side there was little risk with the adjacent islets all friendly. The bush folk were very threatening, hostile and suspicious. My coming, too, had stirred their hopes of having a good opportunity to take a white man's head. That meant to the takers much native money, pigs, shell money, porpoise teeth and so on, and big prestige. Money was on offer from various places who wanted a revenge for "boys" who had died in Queensland. That could be got by killing the senior of the party with whom he had recruited. But the said senior was usually wary enough to remain in Queensland and could not be got at. Or better still, any white man's head would be a very ample satisfaction for a life lost in the white man's service and country. Then the spirit of the dead would be at peace and torment no more his relatives who had failed to avenge his death. For the purpose of "getting square" any white man's head would do, for were they not one tribe. This was why recruiting labour in Mala was always a risky piece of work for the recruiter. His job was to land and engage the labour offered, and he was too often a target for lurkers in the bush as he stood on the beach. And now here a white man on the island to be got at, surely an easy prey. It was not long before a serious attempt was made. The stockade was a great protection, but not impregnable. Any armed party marching up to the narrow, heavily timbered entrance before it was closed for the night, with an ostensible en route errand to allege could walk in. But in the daytime, some people were sure to be about, enough to check any actual attempt. However, one evening soon after my arrival, shortly before sunset, an armed party of ten marched in. They were obviously an "omea", i.e. a fighting expedition on the warpath. They asked to see the missionary. The programme was a well known one. The "omea" speaking few words and pretending an errand further on, would linger till sunset, then one of the ten would fire his rifle right into his victim at close quarters, preferably with the barrel pressed into him. Then all would rush helter-skelter for the bush and so back to their village and later on claim their reward. They always, if possible, killed from behind or when the victim's attention was distracted to look round for a moment. So that evening in marched the ten which make a complete "omea". They set about by two's, covering the whole village and cowing it. All I could do was to sit at the door of my hut and keep talking as calmly and unconcernedly as possible, I took care not to turn my back and be drawn aside and distracted to look elsewhere, but kept face to face. There must have been only a few minutes to go, as the sun was setting, before they fired, when I heard a deep voice behind me "What are fellows doing here?" Kailafa, chief of Fera-si-boa, warned by a woman who stole off by canoe unseen to his islet only a few hundred yards away, had crept up with about fifty men all armed and suddenly broken in on the "omea". The tables were turned. Their panic was evident, shown by shaking hands and trembling legs, their excuses voluble and quite obviously absurd. At last the flow of words ceased, I could not at that time follow them, and Kailafa turned to me. "It's all right now, I know one of these men, and they won't do any mischief while I'm here". The man he knew was the famous Iroqata, chief of all the "omea" leaders in Mala--a ruthless, bold killer, but honest and faithful to his word. To him the trade was partly sport, partly earning money as an executioner doing justice on behalf of wronged parties. Next the "omea" begged to be allowed to wait till the moon came up, about midnight, that they might have light on their way home to their distant village in the bush. That was agreed to. Then, after supper, Kailafa said to me "Now aria (= sir) go to bed. I'll keep watch and call you before they go". He entered my hut and laid himself across the door. "Now they can't get at you", he said. So I turned in. He duly woke me up and we marched the "omea" out of the village, some of Kailafa's people following them for some distance. The attempt had failed. I felt very thankful and very grateful to Kailafa and his men. The fact it had been made and failed would be a great help to us at Gnore Fou and give us prestige. The same people would never make the attempt again. I could have gone quite safely to their village the next day if the journey there had then been practicable.
After this excitement I tried to settle down and get on with my work, at first mainly making friends and acquaintances as widely as possible and visiting all places open to me, chiefly by boat. My friend, Lainao, or to use his "big" name, Keso, was on the alert and watched the tracks to Gnore Fou across which his village lay. Often he sent down word to be on the look-out; and finding Gnore Fou on the look-out, no actual attack was made. But it was harassing and bad for the people to be kept always on the qui vive. Steady old Johnson Telegsom kept his head and sagely told me "When rumours and noise are at their height you need fear nothing, it's only demonstration to frighten. When they really mean mischief it will all be very quiet outwardly and the attack sudden". Spies were continually visiting villages and calling on me under very thinly disguised pretences. We knew they were spies and they knew that we knew, but the village was perfectly free to anyone, though, this was hard to get the people to enforce they must deposit weapons outside the stockade, guns, clubs, bows, arrows (these were very rare) must be left at the entrance. A truculent visitor simply defied this rule, unless I personally tackled him. Then he would perhaps sulkily comply, or go off in a rage to try and make mischief. A watchman rifle on shoulder kept on guard night and day. That, too, was hard to make systematic, though it was really valuable. When prowlers saw a watchman on guard they simply evaporated into the bush, or quickly left guns at the entrance if coming in. When there was excitement and rumours of "omea" at hand all wanted to keep watch, but when the rumours died low and it was "taro" i.e. a calm, no one did. They would all sit about on guard in stormy times till about 4 to 5 a.m. Then they gradually returned to the men's hut on their own, for a nap before dawn (and long after). Each left it to the other fellow to keep on guard till no one was left. This was such an inveterate habit that it was the regular custom in their fights to attack just before dawn, when everybody would be asleep; and so very, very often everyone was and that heavily and the attack succeeded. In the school villages we did better on the whole in keeping at least one man on guard.
However, in spite of this alarmist atmosphere, the school began to grow. My day's routine when at Gnore Fou was roughly thus: At dawn morning prayer in the church for all, as a rule the majority in those days of the villagers were there and the sentry on view at the front. Then the men and women in a big party went off to the gardens, the women to work the men to guard, some of the men, if low tide, would go fishing. The children remained for an hour or so at school. I was always there if possible, and with the native teachers took alternate classes. The children learnt their Catechism and had it expounded; selected portions of the O.T., and the Gospel story and something from the Acts were read. They also were taught to read and write and a little very elementary arithmetic. Figures to the native mind are strangely abstract, e.g. 9+2 has no meaning whatever, may be anything the white man fancies, 9 pigs and 2 pigs can be got at by counting on fingers or toes, the result is one lot of ten pigs and one over. It makes additions etc. rather laborious. Then came breakfast, tea with tinned milk, some tinned fish or something out of tin of the evening before, biscuits, tinned butter, marmalade, banana, pineapple and five grains of quinine gave a varied menu, with possibilities of fresh fish or pigeon or duck. Then would follow a medical round, both at my hut door and in the village. I had no medical training, not even Livingstone College Course, so could not venture far in treatment. Still I found very useful work could be done with the aid of salts, quinine and the American patent medicine called pain-killer. This could be used internally. Very warming and comforting, a few drops in a glass of water were found to be for internal aches and pains; or externally it could be used as a liniment. But most of all was the need of my disinfectants and bandages for the sores that were so appallingly prevalent. Then perhaps some translating work with a teacher's aid would follow. I had first to put a simple prayer book together and then began on portions of the Bible. Gradually a full prayer book was drawn up and later on thanks to Dr Ivens' linguistic talent we had in use the four Gospels and a Prayer Book revised in good "Lau" which is the sea folk's language. My first book of the Bible was Genesis, printed and given by the British and Foreign Bible Society, the translators unfailing ally and friend all the world over. In the afternoon I would visit nearby places on a vast variety of errands and very likely visitors would come in on other vast varieties of errands. These callers friendly, curious, hostile, came from all quarters, a good many for "quinine" i.e. medicine. "Medicine" to them was a sort of magic potion, what had been good for one man's rheumatism would be equally good for the broken limb of his friend. They came all day, every day, till they learned that Sunday was "abu" tabooed as far as possible. By sunset they had departed for their homes and we had Evensong before dark. It would not have been safe after sunset. Then supper from tins, or fresh food if obtainable. Then a spell sitting at my hut door (or later on my verandah when I had a house) of reading or writing; or there would be village politics to discuss and its intricate questions to settle. At nine p.m. the drum was beaten for silence and bed, except for fishers on the reef when the tide was low at night. A very welcome silence it was and as a rule very well kept. Sometimes I had to yell out "keep quiet" or "be silent" but not often. At Gnore Fou and in all our schools there was a mixture of coast men from the islets with a certain number of bushmen. Their common profession as seekers after Christianity united them, but sometimes it was a strain. At Fiu, for example, when the village there grew very large for a Melanesian village (some 300 people in all) there were about five different communities in groups of huts. These found it difficult to merge their old tribal dwelling apart and mutual hostilities into a common life. Persecution from without was a great help towards fusing them into one body. The bushmen lived by agriculture with gardens to tend. The sea folk mainly by fishing, exchanging their surplus fish for vegetables and fruit. As far as they could the latter also had gardens. But these were on a limited scale and they were often driven off them by the bush people.
But I never was long at Gnore Fou at any one time. Most of my time was spent in travelling by boat to an ever-increasing number of places, where new schools were springing up. I easily collected a boat's crew of six to eight "boys" for these journeys varying between there and back in the day and an absence of six weeks, or possibly two months. I had to take everything with me on these journeys for I kept my things at Gnore Fou. So into the boat would go my canteen, my food and rice etc, for the boat's crew, tea, sugar, etc., tobacco, my own and "trade" tobacco for cash, a couple of boxes that could be stowed under the seats of the boat held my clothes and all clerical requirements. In a bundle was packed my blankets and cork mattress and a large waterproof sheet. I carried also a loose bundle i.e. a "poncho" for rainy weather and a towel to wear round the neck, kept wet by dipping in the sea for sunny hours. Two felt hats on my head I found better than the expensive sun helmet, which is useless after the first soaking and a great nuisance in the bush. I used to travel by boat about two thousand miles a year. A good deal of this was done by night. This was delightfully cool and on a calm moonlight night most attractive; on a windy squally night it was a very different story. If there was no breeze and the crew had to row they made better progress than by day. I could also take spells off from holding the steer oar and have a sleep. At first I always took the steer oar myself. It was the white man's job and made one feel in command. But later on I left it to one of the crew very often. He enjoyed it and could wield the long heavy oar better than I could. In a surf a strong big man must be at the oar to hold firmly the boat from getting broad side on and capsizing. Now and again trying to alter or steady the boat's course I would get lifted by the heavy oar right off my seat into the air and out into the sea, an irritating and comic experience. Boat journeys were slow and tedious travelling, only tolerable when with a breeze behind the boat really moves. In rowing little or no progress may be made hour after hour toiling against a contrary wind.
Let me recall here one or two experiences of a boating life. Picture a boat's crew at their worst. Oh, the tedium of urging on tired and lazy men, most trying when the boat got what they called "close up" to our destination. The last thing they thought of doing was making a spurt and finish the day's labour and get in before sunset. To them it was the occasion to take things easily. To nearly finish a thing and dally over the ending of it is part of their makeup, visible in all their undertakings. As good as finished too often e.g. in building a canoe, making a garden, may mean left unfinished. So on a boat journey an hour or two longer on the way and a later landing suits the boat's crew quite well. On landing with the help of the villagers from the place visited they had only to get my stuff ashore, anchor the boat and then get their rations for the evening and have a long yarn and smoke with their friends. I had all the news to hear, each item with its own problems, what the enemy were doing, how the village was prospering, its record of births, deaths, marriages and scandal; there was the teacher to be helped with advice, praise, blame; there were individuals to interview, services to hold and arrange for, nothing too tiny for the poor missionary to tackle and deal with. If I was just, as I often was, on a passing visit and off at daybreak all this had to be got through that evening. If the visit was longer I would get off with a few greetings and news items and then turn in. Night travelling meant an early morning landing and the day in front of me for these duties.
But to recall some boating experiences comic and otherwise. I had some involuntary immersions. Once I remember being caught by the breaking of the sea over a blind reef. These blind reefs are very dangerous. All looks perfectly calm and still, but suddenly there will come a breaking of the surf and that at uncertain intervals. One caught me once just as I was crossing it, not conscious that it was a reef at all. Result, self in the sea, steer oar loose, and a great and instantaneous splash behind me. A teacher, old Johnson Telegsom, had leapt after me to pick me up out of the surf. There was no harm done whatever, but it was a comical interlude on the voyage, it was fine and sunny so I was soon dry again.
Here is an example of a more annoying character. I was coming through a bit of a surf to land on the beach at Fiu. The boat broached to suddenly and I was jerked out of it trying to master the rebellious steer oar. I fell head downward and legs waving in the air, hardly a dignified way of paying a pastoral visit. Worse than that, the surf washed all over the boat and sugar, rice, etc. was hopelessly spoilt and the clothes in my boxes soaked. It was a laughing but sympathetic crowd that welcomed their missionary upside down. Most of them very quickly contrived to do it as though it was quite the usual and expected thing to happen.
Here is another memory. It is a still quiet night. We are on the reef. I am steering for a distant point ahead. But somehow I get off course and am really making straight for the reef and the edge of the lagoon, with its formidable surf which would have meant a complete smash. Suddenly the man rowing stroke, hearing the surf, leapt at me, wrenched the steer oar out of my hand and wheeled the head of the boat round off the surf, just in time. I thought for an unpleasant moment that stroke had gone daft and was making an attack. As it was a matter of a second or two, it was well that he had the promptitude to act without waiting to explain.
Another scene comes to mind. It is again a night voyage and the weather rather bad. A strong current is dragging the boat on to a reef towards the surf, loudly thundering, a long line of whiteness is visible through the darkness and the rain. Hour after hour the crew pull and lug and lug and pull to keep the boat off the surf. No progress is made, but we just manage to keep clear. Dawn comes at last and lights one to find a way ashore onto a little deserted islet. Then as often the sail makes a tent, the steer oar a roof pole, and a fire is lit and there is tea, biscuits and a sleep under the tent for us all.
There were, I think, about 40 artificially built islets on four lagoons round Mala, all of which I visited, some constantly. In the early days progress was slow and the welcome warmed by visions of white man's things and gifts. From each islet canoes would shoot out to gather round the boat and the islets themselves were fringed with brown, chiefly feminine, folk. From their united voices arose a shrill cry of "Si firi, si firi" i.e. a bit of tobacco. The male counter-bass from the canoes around would be "tabac, tabac". There were so many islets that it took them quite a while to learn that my boat was not a free automatic tobacco discharging machine. When they discovered that finally, visits would be quicker and the welcome less effusive but more real. These sea folk had been spoilt by the schooners, who flung about trade-tobacco to help them in their work of recruiting. Each recruit actually signed-on meant a big present of boxes of tobacco, perhaps two or three pounds worth. Sometimes, especially on a first visit, as a token of friendship I would give the chief three or four sticks and some of his chief men one each, otherwise if they wanted "tabac" they had to earn it. This brings up the question of the cadging nigger as some depict primitive natives. Now in a general way when you come across Melanesians on a first visit, on some special occasion e.g. a goodbye visit, they take the absence of the offer of any gift, however small, as a proof of lukewarmness, or even of hostility. It is so in their inter-tribal life. A gift is a sign of friendship, the withholding of one is a hostile act. The gift is remembered and in turn an equivalent gift is expected from the recipients. This of course leads to possible abuses. The white trader gives large (in native eyes) presents to get recruits for ship or plantation and pays lavishly for each recruit gained. In turn the native especially the semi-civilized one, turns cadger and tried it on with every white man he meets. They themselves are often generous givers, though loving a good bargain. I remember once reproaching the people at Fiu owing to complaints I had heard of their exceptional charges for yams, bananas, etc. supplied to schooners from their good and large gardens. "Well" said the leader, "this is how it is. We know that the white man in selling to us gets out of us all he can and we try to do just the same." The wider vision of receiving a sure trade by fair prices was beyond them. Allowance, too, must be made for their ignorance of values. A "pound" will be casually asked for a curio say, worth perhaps 2/6. A "pound" is a vague term for a big sum and a half-crown will be gladly accepted, or ten sticks of tobacco, value 8d. then, would be welcomed as quite handsome. I think some of my colleagues thought I was a bit too easy in giving and paying. But personally I found that the spirit in which the gift was made, not the amount of it, was what mattered. And I found, too, that on occasions when I needed say, or even thought I needed, native food and had nothing to offer in exchange, I got it more than amply. Anyhow, the cries from the islets soon died down and I went up and down the reefs in peace.
Bathing of course is a daily necessity in the tropics. A dip in the sea followed by a fresh water bath is the most pleasant. But sometimes in the early days I found difficulties about the latter. At Gnore Fou there was a good fresh water stream with a pool near my house ready for the sundown dip. But when I collected towel and soap and sallied forth, two villagers at least armed would follow me to keep guard against possible and sometimes probable prowlers. I felt rather like a prisoner under escort, but soon got used to it. It was some years before the ceremony was dispensed with. One interrupted bathe I remember well. We stopped off en route on a boat voyage for a dip in a tempting river. Suddenly strangers were spied at a distance. Enemies! Of course! So with more haste than dignity we rushed back to the boat to push away and then finish dressing at a safe distance. It was a bit comic, but an escape. For all that, from real danger. For the enemy was a gang of bush people who happened to be passing and would have resented our presence in that place and stream. Captain Sinker, our "Southern Cross" skipper recalls a somewhat similar incident on a bathe in the river at Fiu. He and others strolled of for the usual bathe ashore when the ship called in anywhere. They were puzzled a bit at being followed by an armed escort. They were glad of it though when as they were in the river a band of armed bushmen turned up. They had to assume a friendship, modified by doubt as to the sudden gift of an unfriendly bullet. But the escort was sufficient to prevent any such attack. But it revealed something of daily life in Mala at that time. There was one very lovely bathing pool halfway between Gnore Fou and Mala. The pool was sheltered and fed by a splendidly cool waterfall. It was for long a difficulty to get my boat's crew to put in there even for a very brief dip and an extra-special guard was sent on preliminary scouting before the coast was declared clear. For it was an enemy territory where intrusion would have been resented. Fortunately it was a place seldom visited by the bush folk.
AGAIN AT GNORE FOU
It was in May 1903 that I returned at last to Gnore Fou. I was landed with my possessions and the native missionary teachers who had volunteered their help. The senior was Johnson Telegsom of Motalava, 1000 miles away from Mala and in atmosphere a contrast indeed. Johnson had met at Norfolk Island and married Lizzie a N. Mala girl, but sent to Norfolk Island from S. Mala. That was the link with Gnore Fou that made Johnson offer for work in N. Mala with Lizzie a sea coast native as introducer. He was by nature a lover of quiet and peace, so much so that he wished to being it to his wife's wild folk. Lizzie was though, a sincere Christian, typically a Mala woman, rough, honest and masterful. Brian Meneteli of Santa Cruz also volunteered his help and was accepted by the Bishop, though Santa Cruz was still mainly heathen. He was Polynesian, full of good feeling, amiable and kindly, but unstable and not of strong influence and with the hazy Polynesian morality as to meum and tuum. Alas, I had to part with him, for I liked him, for in my absences, distributing presents from my stores, tins of meat, in a sort of benevolent swagger spirit. He was sent back to Santa Cruz and after a long probation did better there and restored to a teacher's post. My third native colleague in pioneer missionary work I shall hold an honoured remembrance. He was a Gela boy. Gela was the Christian island over against its big heathen neighbour Mala. Their old contacts were war ones, the present ones chiefly pig dealing. Gela provided pig and Mala came in large canoes and bought them. Gela men were keen traders, the merchants of the Solomons. James was a delightful fellow. He was simple, able, cheery and from his earliest days revealed an "anima naturalitur Christiana". So his offer to the Bishop to come to Mala, leaving safety and comfort, for Mala who needed help so much, and unlike Gela, had not teachers for everybody, came perfectly simply and without any self-esteem. He was married, happily married, but content to wait awhile for her till he could give her a home in Mala. So our party landed and was joyfully escorted up the hill, for Gnore Fou still existed in a state of suspended animation, waiting for us. There were two huts now. The old hut on piles had got very shaky. But that was righted most ingeniously. Another set of piles was driven in alongside a foot or so lower than the original. Then the hut was roped and pulled over on to the new piles and tied to them. I went into the other hut, a good sized school house put up ready for us. I had for a time to use it as Vicarage, school house, Church and store room. We began daily prayers and school at once. A band of boys soon gathered round us, a few married folk with relations joined us and a new village began on a Christian basis. Fifty miles away to the North at Fiu, a layman, Thomas Arnold Williams had been gallantly holding the fort. He was an ex-marine and a most zealous missionary. But he was a very sick man, for he took no care of himself and had to be taken away on the "Southern Cross" and leave the Mission. He found work to his liking amongst the Aborigines of Australia under Government employ.
A small event that befell soon after my second arrival did a lot to consolidate our welcome by the sea folk. A man, one of six brothers of a family prominent among the sea folk, in cleaning his rifle omitted to take out the cartridge. He was reminded with painful suddenness of his omission when the bullet suddenly passed through his hand held over the rifle barrel, shattering it, of course, badly. His people put him in a canoe and brought him to me for "quinine", i.e., any medicine, happily at once. Frequent washing with disinfectants cleaned the wound and it healed up wonderfully, though there was no hope of restoring it to full use. Without this constant cleaning it would have gone hopelessly septic. The patient was much tormented by fears of evil spirits, to whom this accident was due, and whom he felt around him. Talks, washings and prayers were accepted gratefully, at night attacks of terror would come over him, but subsided when I got to him. He made a very good recovery much to the public amazement and got back quite a lot of use for his hand. He never became a Christian, though some of his brothers did, but was always a firm ally and glad to get recruits for Gnore Fou from his family and friends. This was reckoned a cure beyond with-doctor's power and helped me quite a lot.
The implacable hostility of coast and bush made bush work extremely difficult. The only practicable way seemed to be to get what bush people one could, down to one of our three villages, Gnore Fou, Mala, Fiu. Also I visited such places as I could get to. It was not too easy to find guides. Either no one was willing, or too many wanted to go, on the safety in numbers in principle. They might not be afraid of the particular village, perhaps had a friend or a friend's friend there, but it was always the possible stranger who might or might not be met on the track that they feared, unless a large party. The vast woods and mountain heights and valleys behind each coast village were full of these bush villages. They were mostly tiny places with very low and frailly built huts, very dirty, and the people, each naked were of low calibre and physique, habitual cannibals. Their sores were horrible. There was no continual sea bathing to keep them clean and very little contact with the outside world. Each place had a sort of right of access, when there was not actually fighting on hand, to some beach on the coast, and there they would meet for market days, truce days, and also when a recruiting ship called in to get and put back labour. Quite a number of bushmen recruited. But even after many years in Queensland they on return very soon relapsed into their primitive state and generally soon died. If I tried a little quiet pioneering this was the sort of thing that happened. I remember one of my first attempts. I got away quietly from Gnore Fou with a small boy as guide to a bush village known as non-hostile. We saw no-one en route. How many saw us is a different matter. We had a friendly reception and were given food so felt quite comfortable. It took some time for the women and children to get used to seeing a white man for the first time. They began by scuttling with shrieks into the narrow, low doors of their huts. Then they would peer out attracted by perhaps a fish hook; then children would emerge and the women follow. But our talk after making friends was suddenly interrupted by the arrival panting and puffing, angry and fussed, of good old Maeau, senior chief of Fera-si-boa followed by a band of armed men. He had been told of my visit and followed in hot pursuit and gave me quite a scolding for going unarmed into the bush. It was just the same if I tried to get inland from Mala and Fiu unless I made elaborate preparations. I came across some odd sights in these villages. One of the oddest was finding a large bamboo cage erected with a hut like a dog kennel in one corner. In it lived a lunatic. He could have broken the fence with one finger, but as long as it was there he remained quiet and passive. Outside he was a danger to himself and others. They fed him and looked after him after a fashion, which was rather good, judged by their own standards. My redoubtable and anxiety-giving ally Lainao had a village in the bush near Gnore Fou. He took it upon himself the charge of the track leading down to Gnore Fou. None could get by unseen. Word would come down to be on guard for an "omea" was on its way probably in our direction, others came in twos or threes, suspected spies and on the look out for a chance of surprising someone alone in their garden, he would turn back. This man was in constant request as a fighting man. His chief work was to kill people accused of witchcraft. It meant to him money and excitement and morally he was in the position of an executioner. He wouldn't betray a friend and was in his own mind convinced that his victim was guilty of black magic. That is the one thing that breaks the strong tribal tie. A tribe will allow a magic practitioner to be killed though they would not do it themselves. Personally Lainao or Keso his "big" name, was of a very humorous kindly disposition, with a pleasant smile, honest and true to his word, a very affectionate parent with good manners. Brains he had none, but an active alert body and goodwill to his allies. He was intensely superstitious and a useful though very disquieting ally. While I was about he behaved well; but once when I was on leave he broke out and once later on he failed me, though not personally. The time when I was away he was hired for an attack upon supposed witchcraft practitioners. Keso was always ready to attack magic-practicers, both for money and as a public duty. So he came to Gnore Fou and "borrowed" or rather commandeered a tin of kerosene from my stock. This he took with him, crept up right to the hut where the wanted man, with others, they said eight others, was crouching but that no doubt was an exaggeration, poured the kerosene on the bamboo dry leaf hut, fired it, and killed the occupants as they came out. Of course, I reported this on hearing of it on my return, Keso knew that he was not wanted at Gnore Fou, he had to my surprise not been there to welcome my return. But in the then state of affairs as it was only an inter-tribal native matter nothing was done by the authorities. There was not then any local authority at all in Mala. Of his other default I will tell later. If Keso is still alive he will be an old man, probably quiet and highly respectable, with his true kindly personality able to function. He never showed any signs of becoming a convert and was too honest to pretend that he ever would. In this he was unlike many others, ever ready to hold out hopes of "bye and bye" or "when I have fulfilled my vow" and "when my father dies" then I will come down to school.
VISIT TO MALA
One of my first visits to the nearest little Christian outpost Mala, over twenty miles away, was typical. Qaisulea the big sea chief heard that I was going. So he appeared dramatically at Gnore Fou and made a set oration to all and sundry gathered there which I suppose to them was impressive. The gist of many words was that Gnore Fou was under his protection (though he was really very annoyed that I was not right under his wing near to him). If any bushmen dared to attack me or mine with me en route to or at Mala, then twenty-four men of war would come at once and take a terrible revenge by blowing to pieces all concerned. He the king of all Mala (really chief of one islet) had spoken. So greatly encouraged and amused we set forth. Twenty miles inside the reef was the first stage. The tide was low so it was foolish to start at all unless we went outside the reef in the open sea. But no-one told me. In those early days the white man was assumed to know everything and in local affairs have a knowledge of his own superior to the native. So I was left to find out much for myself about tides, reefs, currents and so forth. Perhaps it was a good way of learning, but it was certainly a tedious one. At low tide, and the trouble was to guess how low that day the variable tide might be, the reef was bare in most places, with narrow channels of water in between. So when rowing was impossible the only way was to get out and drag the boat out of its channel into the next, perhaps a little deeper and then row till stuck again. It meant a zigzag course at the best from channel to channel. At last we did get clear of the reef and out to sea with five miles to go. It was after dark when we reached the little harbour of Mala. Two of the boat's crew groped their way up the rocky ascent to the village above and brought back the whole population with torches lit to escort me and my belongings up to their home. It was a weird and picturesque clambering up the rocky and slippery ascent. In the village a good hut was soon made ready for me and a good meal and sleep followed. There was already about a hundred people at Mala under the sturdy guidance of Peter, the faithful Peter had been at Queensland and there was caught and taught by the Queensland Kanaka Mission. His religion was crude but earnest. He was doing a wonderful work all alone there. And already Malu was a very, very different place to the bush villages round. It was cleaner--it needed to be--tried to be at peace, and be friends to all, kept Sunday rigorously and attended services diligently. As Peter's praying and reading was in English of the "pidgin" variety the word could have conveyed nothing. But his life and preaching did carry a vital message and a welcome one to those wild bush folk. I remember, I think it was on this first visit, asking Peter to translate for me into Mala my English sermon. I began with my text "I am the Good Shepherd". Peter's face lit up as he heard. "Oh yes", he interjected, "me savvy all about the Good Shepherd" and without waiting for anything to interfere, off he went into a torrent of words, earnest and fluent that evidently hit the mark. Peter had been I found some years at Mala, but his effort had only just begun to bear fruit. Two white men from the mission in Queensland had tried to begin work in Mala and started at Mala, but one had died and the other gone home. So Mala fell to me to shepherd. How very, very pleased they were to see "white fellow missionary". There was with Peter a Church-taught boy Timothy so I established him as teacher to run the daily school for children and left to Peter the headship of the village an the preaching and evangelistic work.
Next day I started off with a largish party to visit an isolated bush village on the crest of N. Mala, a longish climb up from Mala. Two men from Queensland were trying to start a Christian village there on their own. About eight of us set off. It was a ten mile walk and a climb of about 2,000 feet by a bad bush track and took about four hours. We got there about midday. Even the keen eyes of my companions only spotted one harmless party of bush folk en route; though something more formidable might turn up at any moment. Though Mala folk were much less excitable than our Gnore Fou friends and carried no weapons nor had armed allies, they had to be ever on the watch too. This continuous alarmist state was a bit fraying to nerves and temper. I had continuously during those early years to try and keep the balance between exaggerated apprehension and sensible precautions and harder still to get my people to do so. They were always for the former and no wonder. For they had much to suffer and never knew from day to day what might happen, tragedies were all too common. When we got to the village the people were all in their gardens. That was always a good sign. They took us to their retreat. It was an amazing place. Built round the large men's hut, none too clean, dark and low, was a massive stockade. There was a first barrier of upright tree trunks some eight to ten feet high; then about two feet apart was a second barrier of tree trunks and the space in between was filled in with earth and soft stuff fastening the two together the whole structure making an immensely strong stockade. In the hut at night forty people gathered, by day they gardened en masse. They had been some months there and were at the time of my visit having a fairly peaceful time. We had prayers together and a talk. Then as we sat and talked later on there was a tremendous squealing outside and in came some of the men with a pig young and tender that they had just caught in the bush. The highest welcome they could give me. Piggy was rapidly dismembered and the dismembered limbs packed in packets of leaves and vegetables. Then the packet was placed in the earth oven on red hot stones and the oven closed up with masses of leaves. They knew to a nicety when it was cooked, unpacked the oven, let loose the steam, opened the packets and produced a really good and toothsome feast. It was "bush" pork, exactly cooked and the best I ever tasted. Generally it is far too fat to be eaten by a white man. For the night they gave me a bamboo bed close to the door of the hut. On this I spread my mackintosh sheet and cork matting and was thoroughly comfortable. I soon got used to these sort of nights. It was impossible to sleep much as the natives after their fashion only slept by fits and starts and never all at once. There were always some awake, talking, smoking, cooking, making up the fire, entering and then leaving the hut. By about four or five o'clock all would be heavily asleep till wakened by the dawn about six o'clock. Even in this village when they sang all night long to let prowlers know that they were on the watch the chant would die down before dawn. Then the waiting enemy would launch the attack. They seemed to have no idea of setting a watch and relieving guard, it was all or none. I never visited this mighty fort again. The people were planning and soon carried out their plan of coming down and settling close to Mala.
I may as well tell here a little incident, one of many like it, that throws light on their daily life even in "School" villages. A Mala man Lalainau had been caught wrecking the garden of his brother Stephen to warn Stephen not to be a follower of Peter. Stephen demanded what are you doing and why? Lalainau's reply was "clear out" enforced by a shot. The gun misfired. Stephen fired back and wounded Lalainau. Both bolted. Lalainau's friends gathered and burnt Stephen's hut. The affair put the whole district in a state of great excitement. I believe my suggested solution, when referred to, was finally accepted, i.e. Lalainau to put up with his smashed arm and Stephen his burnt house and ravaged garden and call it quits. For that was what both really wanted but could not do the reckoning. Stephen was normally a peaceful, quiet fellow and by no means aggressive. These quarrels between brothers when any blood, even a few drops, is shed are very hard to settle.
A typical pioneer week at Mala followed. On Sunday I preached to about 150 people in the Church and Peter took the Service in his accustomed way. Then I set Timothy in charge of the daily school, dividing it as far as possible into classes. Visits to neighbouring bush villages followed. Mala is the centre of a very thick population. Then I tackled the question of Mala village. A big clean up was set going, rubbish was burnt in heaps, spaces round the huts were grassed over, scraped and clean. It looked a very different place. To Timothy was given the looking after the weekly Friday "wurvag vanua" or general clean up which is the custom, or should be of all our Mission villages.
THE RETURNED "KANAKAS"
Already I was beginning to learn what a tremendous effect on Mala the rapidly increasing numbers of returned Kanakas was having. It meant commotion for good or ill. Each man was expected by his own village; he and still more his full "bokus" from Queensland were very welcome. But many of these men had broken loose from blind allegiance to their tribe. They wanted to be independent, to keep their own earnings and goods, quite a number to live in peace in Christian villages formed by little groups of friends. Some were men semi-civilized and vice stained by contact with Chinese and low white folk. Such men simply wanted to brag and swagger and to defy all authority tribal, governmental and Christian. Others were "wanted" on their return for real or imaginary crimes and were afraid to go near their own village, but sought a place of refuge by joining some other tribe with a gun as their sponsor. Many returned to their villages and lapsed straight back into naked savagery. Here is a typical case. A man had just been landed at Mala and sought refuge there, afraid to return to his tribe from which he had fled years ago to Queensland, probably under a charge of witchcraft or merely as a runaway against his chief's prohibition. An apparently friendly deputation from his village came to Mala and enticed him away with them. Then they sent for his father to come and meet him. Both father and son were seized and chopped to pieces with axes. The principal murderer then fled. It was the father really that they wanted, the son was simply enticed away to act as bait. The murderer got off on a labour ship to Queensland. All I could do was to give names and details to the Commissioner at Gela, so that the man might be dealt with in Queensland. I don't remember ever hearing what actually did happen. It was quite impossible in the then state of affairs to deal with each individual case. They could be found in every village.
A VISIT TO FIU
Though it was the wet season and self and goods were continually "in soak" I managed to get on to Fiu (June 1903 this is) and has as usual a warm reception and on leaving a boat heavily laden with vegetables, yams, bananas, of which they had an ample store. Fiu is on swampy, but very fertile land. They were then living about three quarters of a mile inland, a very unhealthy site for their village. I fixed my "parsonage"--a good sized one roomed hut with a long table in the middle--on the shore. There, as I hoped would happen, they eventually followed me. But for the present it meant daily walks through the swamp to the Church and school. The services as I found them were certainly curious. Prayers, till I had some printed in Fiu, were in English. The lesson was read in Fijian, as half a dozen had lived there and had the Bible with them, I preached in English or Mota as suited my interpreter best. Some of the prayers were led by Arthur Ako, their chief, were extemporary in pidgin English. It did not take long to provide them with a preliminary Prayer Book. The teacher knew "Mota" and could easily read off "Mota" prayers and portions of the Bible into Fiu from his "Mota" books, or from his Fijian books, that served for a time. Before my arrival, followed by that of Charlie Turu who had been a teacher Fiji and was good at it, the services were very strange. Arthur Ako, the chief man of the settlement, was a devout Wesleyan, but quite untrained. But he did gather his folks together for prayer and instruction. He apparently could not imagine Prayers or the Bible except in English. So he prayed extempore in "pidgin" English and when he opened the Bible to read gave his flock the first syllable of any long words e.g. Gen. 1 "In the beg. God He creat Hvn an ert," etc. His praying was in "pidgin" English too and a prayer would end "through our sinful friend", meaning of course, the sinner's friend. Still I am sure it did in some way bring these people before God for their good. Moreover he could exhort vigorously in Fiu and rule the daily lives of that little hidden community. It was good indeed when Charles Turu arrived as teacher. He was gentle and courteous and peaceable, a good teacher, knew Mota and quite a lot of English, so we could talk freely from the first. He and Ako worked well together and Fiu began to grow apace.
The end of July 1903 was marked by my first baptism at Gnore Fou. It was that of two little children whose baptised parents lived there. I made a big ceremony of it with decorated Church and Festival Service. It was a great teaching opportunity for those who were Catechumens and something visible for the native teacher to build on. The bulk of the Community I could have baptised any day as far as they were concerned. Why they must wait for two years at least would gradually dawn on them. They were quite ready to think till better taught, that learning the Catechism by rote was the necessary charm to enable them to get magical benefit from baptism. It was just after this baptism that Kailafa of Fera-si-boa manifested his real friendship in rather a striking way. I had heard of and coveted an "agalo" sacred image, which was stored in his hut at Fera-si-boa. Its day of power was waning but it was still of a considerable repute. Anyway the older men were very apprehensive about its proper treatment. I suggested that they should give it to me to hang in my hut as a visible proof of their friendship. Rather a big request. On a certain Tuesday early in July I returned in triumph with it in my possession. Kailafa the chief and its protector in handing it over to me said "It's a most sacred object, but I can't refuse you anything". The Gnore Fou people's attitude and that of numerous bush visitors was "Has he really given you that!" This sacred object "doo abu" was a heavy block of red wood carved into the shape of bird with a fish above and much inlaid with mother of pearl. It was black with smoke as its shrine was the roof of Kailafa's hut. For a week at least there was a procession of visits to see it in its new abode, cleaned up, in my hut. I suppose they speculated as to how it would settle there, would it be peaceable, or would it be wrath with Gnore Fou or Fera-si-boa? The white man himself they would imagine would get off scoot free, but what of its "adherents", what of its present harbourers? Some of the disgruntled old folks at Fera-si-boa were very alarmed and expected calamities. There were mutterings "school no good".
A FALSE ALARM
On Friday, July 11 1903, occurred a characteristic alarm, happily a false one. We saw from our cliff all the men of Fera-si-boa rushing out onto the reef, armed and yelling. They had sighted a canoe coming to visit me from a place called Binabina and not trusting them as friends assumed a hostile purpose and turned them back. The din over it was terrific. The atmosphere just then was very sultry and suspicious due to the recent death of an islet chief near Fera-si-boa and the exciting problem of finding out who was responsible. They fixed the blame on a village near Mala and one of their men was shot. Then to finish the quarrel the people who shot the man offered to hand over a boy, valuable to nobody, to be killed. Then they would call it quits and exchange gifts equal in value. This handing over of boys to be killed to patch up a peace was a horribly regular custom. Qaisulea was very active in it. His work was to carry on the negotiations between the two places concerned and then send his canoes to fetch the victim to his slayers. The bay handed over would be an orphan, or a lame boy, one little wanted in his village if possible. Occasionally he might be bought by someone of his captors as a sort of slave, but generally after perhaps a considerable interval he was killed as suddenly and unexpectedly as possible. Often while climbing a coconut tree or on some errand like that, he would be struck from behind by an axe and instantly killed, hardly ever face to face, or forewarned, though I did hear of a few such cases. They were remembered as exceptional, the other was normal. Chief Ramfola, for instance, was always remembered for setting the boys of his village on to shoot to death with arrows the captive he had made; trampling to death was not unknown. I had the pleasure soon after this incident of rescuing one of these boys. One morning there was an outbreak of the usual shouting and gesticulating, this time quite a mild one. All I could see was a big canoe passing. But my people knew it was Qaisulea. They knew too what was in it, i.e. one of the boy victims tied up like a pig and thrown into the bottom of the canoe. He was being taken to Qaisulea's islet Adegege, to be handed over to a bush village. Then Qaisulea would rub his hands together, after taking money from both sides and say "See, what a peacemaker I am". I got together at once a very reluctant boat's crew to go to Qaisulea about this to try and save the boy. Was he not the big sea chief was their point of view and not to be interfered with. His vengeance if crossed would be sure, however long deferred and secretly arranged. But he was also publicly a friend to the white men, traders, government, and missionaries and made much money by getting labour recruits for the schooners. So though apprehensive they ventured to take me. Qaisulea was outwardly affable and of course flatly denied any share in any such transaction. I had to tell him plainly that I had good evidence to take to the Governor and that if the boy was killed I should charge him with it. He knew that on his islet he could easily be got at and certainly had no wish to be a fugitive in the bush. So he promised at last not to hand over the boy, but to keep him safely in Adegege, where he would be a sort of semi-slave for a time and then a recruit for Queensland. That on the whole seemed the best solution. If put back in his village he would soon be handed over again. Whenever I asked after him later he was still in Adegege and may be there to this day as far as I know. How the affair was actually patched up I never knew, probably just lapsed. Anyhow there would soon be something more exciting to make this one forgotten. But years after it might revive again.
I always tried to keep Sundays quiet and free from heathen visitors, friends and foes. Parties coming in to buy or sell vegetables or fish were "tapu" on that day. Our friends soon learnt to respect this and keep away on "maidani abu" the prohibited day. But, of course, some from distances did not know and had to be turned back and take the by-pass north of Gnore Fou, to travel by. In this connection I had a good laugh once over a party of women from Fera-si-boa who, just to try it on, came laden to Gnore Fou. Seeing them coming up the hill I ran towards them waving them away intending to send them round by the by-pass. Apparently my demonstration was a bit of a shock for dropping three laden baskets on the hill they fled back shrieking to their canoes. I rather wondered how the men of Fera-si-boa would take it. As a matter of fact they backed me up and gave the women a good scolding for breaking the Gnore Fou "tapu". Sunday keeping gave rise to some quaint problems. My people were taught the Mission rules as to Sunday keeping. For example as to fishing, they were not to go on joint fishing for business. An individual who wanted to get fish e.g. for a sick friend, was free to do so. One Sunday, I was not there on the spot, a school of porpoises entered the little harbour at Gnore Fou. It was a golden opportunity. Each porpoise meant about two hundred teeth worth 1d. a tooth and the flesh could be sold to the bush folk. It's food for strong stomachs only. But it was Sunday! The problem was solved by sending to their heathen friends at Fera-si-boa to catch the porpoises. They were then to share the proceeds equally. Personally I thought when the problem was referred to me on my return that it was a pretty good solution though not perhaps ideal. Bishop John Selwyn I believe ruled as to catching a certain sea worm the "un" which only appear in vast swarms once a year for three nights, that they might accept it as God's gift and collect the much loved delicacy on Sunday. That reminds me of another quaint Sunday problem. I was the owner of a very small, shy and timid bulldog. Men returned from Queensland who always among their friends posed as knowing everything told the stream of visitors, who came miles to see the strange looking missionary's dog, that all bulldogs were fierce and vicious. Mine, while being looked at with many oh-oh-oh-ings, crouched shivering under the table in a corner. However, her reputation held good. When I was appealed to "will she bite?" by some stalwart armed fearsome looking bush man, I would solemnly reply "Well she belongs to the kind of dog that when it does bite never lets go". I lost her in this way. She was my companion, as usual, on a boat journey, one evening in a strange village wandering out at sunset to the stream hard by she was snapped up by a crocodile. The people guessed that was her fate and were much concerned. It might be an omen! And a bad one! On my return to the village I was proudly informed "We have shot the crocodile that ate your dog". "How do you know that?" "Oh, we found the bones inside so we are sure it was the guilty party. But we shot it on Sunday, was that right? As it was the missionary's dog we thought it was justifiable!" I forget my answer, but there was not much rebuke in it.
DETECTION OF GUILT
Well the guilty crocodile was easily convicted. But as to a guilty person their detective ideas were strange indeed. Just about this time a boy died at Fera-si-boa. He had been more or less a "school" boy, but was often ailing. Who was responsible for the death? Someone must have been practising magic. It was only by dint of much talking--oh how they talk round and round a subject for hours!--that I could persuade the chief Kailufa to lead his people to be content with giving up the idea of killing someone and to be content when the witch doctor had found the guilty party with demanding a fine. There are many ways of finding out the guilty. The last visitor, or some new arrival, are objects of suspicion, then follows "they say" it was so and so and all too often "they say" is considered a verdict of guilty. Or something perhaps is hidden on the track and the first to pass over it is suspect. On great occasions they "put the light" against a suspected village. This I will tell of more fully later on. A firefly entering a hut is watched and if it lights on someone there is the guilty party. Or this may be a signal of death against the person apart from any suspicion of witch-craft. In this case a man happened to turn up at Gnore Fou to fetch his boat and box of which I had pro term charge. As he was a stranger just returned from Queensland, wanting to live in a "school" village he seemed fair game. There, said Fera-si-boa, is the man we want. We won't kill him, but will confiscate his boat and cry quits for the boy. A long and tedious row follows as I stood by the man. The two chiefs of Fera-si-boa kept their heads and their authority and I was very glad to see the man depart with his boat and box. He had brought a few friends to sail the boat to his place. It was hard to disentangle in this affair how much was genuine suspicion and real desire to do the right thing by the spirit of the dead boy and how much sheer greed to grab a boat, a great prize, free gratis. Probably both motives were at work in the minds of the majority. Another trifling row occurred at this time in which Lainao the fighting man was concerned. One of my Gnore Fou people had taken nuts off a tree that both he and Lainao claimed as theirs. Lainao threatened dire results by a messenger he sent to Gnore Fou. I sent him back to tell Lainao he must come himself to talk it over. To my relief he turned up next day and I got him and the nut eater together on my verandah. All was settled. The man acknowledged--justly?--Lainao's claim and paid ten sticks of tobacco for his trespass. This is an instance of how a threatened big row will peter out if only both sides can be got together, otherwise there may be shooting and a long train of sequelae.
WHY NO BOAT'S CREW?
I found it strangely difficult to get a boat's crew to go to Mala. Generally the trouble was to keep the number down to the five or six needed. The reason was that several of the boat's crew had been ill after my last visit to Mala, caught a cold probably, but to them it suggested evil spirits at Mala. I got at last two from Gnore Fou and two from Fera-si-boa on conditions that they came straight back in a canoe, returning for me and my boat in a month's time. This suited me excellently, as it saved me their keep and I could get a boat's crew at Mala, when I wanted to move on to Fiu. The pay of a boat's crew was 2/6 a week and their food was mainly given by the place stayed at, but I had to take rice and biscuits and tea and a little meat for extra fare after long day's work. There had been, I found, two sudden deaths at Mala. Again the eternal why? And who? Even staunch old Peter was shaken and wondering whether the cause was accepting our church teacher Timothy as their leader as they had so gladly done. It was dysentery, so terribly common and so liable to become an epidemic. Poor old Peter was in great distress. He said "My way been good for me, me saved by it, no savvy church way properly, might be the punishment for trying new way". On this particular visit to Mala I seem to have come in for a great variety of jobs. One was a visit to a large village on an islet in the bay of Suaba close to Mala. It would have made a very good centre to work from if could get an opening there. The islet in question had not long ago, perhaps three or four years, been fired on by a man of war. There had been several murders round about for which the chief was probably rightly held top be responsible. Anyhow the punishment had quieted the district. The old chief, chastened by his punishment, received me most hospitably. He fed me with yams, coconuts and a bottle of ginger beer! The last was quite a surprise luxury. We had a long talk and he was full of promises of friendship for Mala, sealed by a gift of tobacco. So we parted on very good terms and so remained, though I never got any hold there.
Another job was a visit to the opposite island, natural not an artificial one, of Basikana. There I first came in contact with what I was to know only too frequently later on. They were a very friendly but a very dirty and degraded set of folk there. The women and children as usual, ran shrieking into their huts, for that was their usual reception of a white man when they first met one. Unknown to me, the boat's crew learned it but never told men, lay in the bush a woman who had just given birth to a child that died. No birth was ever allowed in a village. That was a very, very strong "tapu". The mother must go out into the bush like some wild animal. There she must remain for forty days. No-one, for the child had died, dare go near. Food and fire from the village is tapu. It must be got in the bush. Women may, and will for money, help the mother, but the husband can't go near. In this case the husband had not hired anyone. Peter hearing of this on my return told me. We set off with food and tins of milk for Basikana. Then we found that the mother had swam across the strong channel running between Basikana and the main island. There she was no longer "tapu" and could get both food and shelter till able to return after forty days to her village. I told the Basikana people in very strong plain language what I thought of it all. They were not moved or even angry, only wondering what the fuss was about. They rather pitied me, I think, for not understanding why they, however much disposed, could not help the mother in her need. Subsequently, I quite frequently came in contact with such cases, for this particular "tapu" was common in my district. I remember in the early days at Gnore Fou a case. The mother died in the bush, the baby was left alone living. Both were untouchable. Two men from Gnore Fou, of their own initiative, took spades and defying "tapu" set out to bury the mother and bring back the baby. This was indeed practical Christianity. They found both dead and buried them where they lay. On returning they met on the track a brother of Kailafa, a bit of a bully and a fighting men. He, native fashion, presses them to tell their errand. They of course did not tell him. But he soon found out, for in Melanesia no one can light his pipe without someone knowing. Next day he comes fuming and blustering into Gnore Fou. "These two men must be killed", "Why?" I naturally asked, "for doing a deed of mercy?" "Because" was the reply, "they passed me on the track polluted by their breach of tapu, I and all Fera-si-boa will suffer for it if atonement is not made." That gave me a clue. "How do you know that you will suffer some judgement?" "Well, I certainly shall unless the spirits are appeased." He began to cool down a bit, for he was after all a friend. Then I suggested "Well anyhow why not wait a bit and see if any trouble befalls." "As I am your friend I will if you press it." He kept his word and Fera-si-boa had quite a good time, plenty of fish and no fighting and no deaths. This so impressed them with the idea that anyhow Christians were exempt themselves and the spirits powerless against them, that about a month later I got a message from Kailufa that a woman had just died on the other side of the islet. If George and Simon would like to go and bury her they might go past his islet Fera-si-boa, for "I see that it is not a bad thing after all, but quite good". Their natural knowledge had free play once the terror of the tapu was removed. It still held for them but they were glad to think we were exempt. At times, told by the teacher's wife Lizzie, I could arrange to send out food and get women to go and light a fire and do some cooking. Tinned milk was of great value. One woman was reached, I remember, just as she was about to fling her baby away into the bush and make for her people's village outside the tapu area. It was a problem ingeniously solved when Lizzie's own time came soon after arrival at Gnore Fou. Could she and Johnson so very early defy the tapu, Lizzie herself was a Mala woman and instinctively afraid of it. This was the solution. Johnson's hut was right up against the palisade round the village. He made a hole in the palisade and built an extra room for Lizzie outside the village! There she could be well looked after. Further they ventured to reduce the 40 days of segregation outside to a week. And so all were happy and the tapu began to go on a natural way to destruction. In our Christian villages it was very soon acknowledged as being for them at least breakable and doing no harm to others.
THE RETURNED KANAKA
The question of the returned Kanaka i.e. the South Sea Island labourers in the Queensland sugar plantations was becoming of increasing importance. So I will deal generally here with it. Mala had always provided the greatest number of these men, they were generally found to be the best labour material of any in the islands. Now for political reasons it had been decided by the Australian authorities to repatriate them all. Sugar plantations were to be worked by white labour in the future. It was a burning political question. White labour of course meant higher wages and necessitated at any rate for a time a subsidy to the planters. The Church was deeply concerned in the discussions. On principle the cessation of the labour traffic to Queensland and also to Fiji was welcome. The traffic itself had been freed from the old scandals and was on the whole well regulated. But there was still a great deal of smuggling of cartridges and rifles done. And in those days each cartridge meant a human life, white or brown. There must have been nearly as many rifles of all sorts from the most ancient and dilapidated down to new modern Winchesters, as cartridges. But the unloaded rifle was itself a threat and protection of great value to its holder. Each Kanaka returning was a centre of effervescing excitement. Would he land with rifle? Cartridges? What of his box and its contents? These his tribe claimed to share. But if his tribe was not down on the beach to receive him he would be lucky to get away with his life back to his village. The previous slow trickle back of individuals was already becoming an anticipatory stream and increased the turmoil. What would happen when all, as the proposed bill provided, were returned. There were many cases of men married with families who had been many years in Queensland. Their families had been taught at the public school and had always lived a civilized life. Many of them were Christians, had smallholdings of their own, no longer plantation workers and had no desire whatever to return to the villages of native cannibals from which they came. A large number had recruited by way of escape from attack on charges of magic and were still being "waited for". Some had forgotten their home language and talked pidgin English, many had regular jobs in Sydney and elsewhere. So there were many protests against the law in its proposed first form. Meantime, picture a "sitima" (steamer) arriving with bigger and bigger numbers of men. Each man wanted and had the right to be landed on that beach from which he had been recruited. It was his passage to which his tribe, if bush people, had access. So "sitimas" when getting near must fire a resounding gun echoing up to the hills news of his arrival and then allow time for the tribes concerned to get down to the beach. The expectant Kanaka's hour of glory arrives. He dons all his best raiment, white drill suit, sun helmet, shirt, gay socks, boots, much too narrow for his broad feet, perhaps shining in patent leather, an umbrella maybe, even sometimes a bicycle!--an utterly useless thing in Melanesia. Then there is his "bokus", a large wooden chest made for him by Chinamen and stocked by them gradually to be ready for the day. If rival crowds are much in the majority, the "bokus" will be opened on the beach and propitiatory gifts distributed to secure its safe carrying by his eager friends up to his village. Then the rest of the contents are shared out. Years of work has earned these goods, but they all are given (?) away. In a good many cases the man returns at once to his old state and waits for the next return to get a share again of Queensland goods. As a man he is welcome back to his small village community where each individual counts. But still more desirable was rifle and cartridges if he has them. And a very large number had. Illegal? Yes, but the search before the schooner left was perhaps not too drastic always. A box with a false bottom was very common and the search had only been in among the goods above. Rifles were handed over the side at night after the search by native friends swimming to the schooner. Many were simply carried ashore at Mala wrapped in blankets. Some of the less scrupulous captains, mates and sailors made a very good thing out of selling cartridges. One well known method I was told of. A Kanaka who wanted cartridges would ask to see the captain or mate in his cabin. An errand was feigned and silently a sovereign was put on the table. The Kanaka would say goodbye and go out. The white man would soon leave the cabin, the Kanaka would slip in and pick up the cartridges in lieu of the vanished sovereign. The wrong of it all was that the cartridge might mean a recruiter's life, as he stood on the beach belonging to some schooner that did not touch this smuggling traffic. This recruiting was always, in Mala, a dangerous job. Two boats, this was by law, put off from the ship. The first with the boys if any to be put back, the covering boat, armed, to protect the landing. Both were backed in to the beach so as to get away at a moment's notice. The recruiter's job was to land and engage labour for the schooner to return with. Some expected boy is not there. He is, his friends tell the crowd ashore, dead, an attack might follow. Or more often there has been a long waiting to avenge the death of a boy who has died long ago. Generally the covering boat was a sufficient protection, but there were quite a number of recruiters killed from time to time. That meant a visit from a man-of-war, perhaps a punitive bombardment of the village concerned and the death it might be of a woman or child from the shells thrown. This frightened the district for quite a long time. But that was the best effect that would be hoped for. It was a most unwelcome duty. And now the returns are to be wholesale, each one a potential centre of trouble locally, especially in the cases of men returned unwillingly or going to some school centre instead of their native village. The increase in numbers returning preliminary to the compulsory return of all was causing widespread disturbance in all local and many districts. Murder was a daily item of news and threats of reprisals followed fast. At Gnore Fou the unrest worked itself off in the fervent erection of the stockade. It was a massive piece of work. Up to forty men would carry from the bush the massive tree trunks shouting as they neared the village and loudly grunting. Then thud would go the trunks on the ground slide from the shining brown shoulders of the carriers and be speedily erected in the deep hole dug for it. Women and children helped to scrape out these holes with coconut shells and failing that with their hands. I had a crowbar and another was available to open and soften the holes to be excavated. Looking back I consider that the stockade was a very real value to Gnore Fou. It made it a city of refuge. Though at times carelessly guarded and open to any bold armed intruder it could always be closed by the heavy door and all of us safe within. They took a lot of trouble to fill it up thoroughly so that rifles could not be poked through between the trunks at night. As things calmed down the stockade was left to fall to pieces of itself. Large parties on "omea" bent [missing text?], were camped round at times. They could quite easily have taken the village by storm, but that was not in their tactics at all. They kept sending threatening messages of what they would do within so many days. They prevented, though not always (if it was an "omea" against men only), the women going to their work, unless well guarded and on an open piece of ground. They crept up at night, the bolder ones, in hopes of getting in a shot. They after a time, the time set, melted away. The village relaxed precautions and then the real time of danger began. Any one going out in the calm times might be caught by a lurker in the thick bush and unwelcome visitors would walk in for a look round taking notice of the huts, where so and so slept and useful things like that for an enemy to know. Then would come a party of returneds with perhaps a man for Gnore Fou and a lot of fresh rows would break out. It was a thrilling day in a man's life when he landed. Etiquette and vanity demanded his making the most of it so he landed in all his glory in laundered shirt and trousers, as I have described him. The glory was very evanescent. His raiment was divided waistcoat to one, coat to another, hat to a third, his tobacco distributed and soon smoked. No wonder that the picked ones among them who had led years of civilized life and become Christians, wanted a refuge. At first they would form a little group round a leader and try to set up a village of their own, later they would tell, they were great letter writers, any friend in Queensland to make for the school place. The Christians from Fiji were mainly Church taught, those from Queensland had been most of them taught by Miss Deck's very active mission there, but there were also many Church of England boys. The undesirables were those whom civilization had contaminated and gave powers for mischief. A loud voice and swaggering manner and a rifle made them very formidable among their fellows. If a white man was on the spot he could perhaps get a laugh against them and prick the bladder of their pretensions and demands.
Between Mala and Fiu was a large bay known by the name of the river as Qarea, on the charts marked as Coleridge Bay. It was a densely populated part of Mala. I was very keen to get a school there and made many attempts before succeeding. A Kanaka from Fiji known as Billy, a big fair haired man, was a good pioneer. He made no pretension to be a teacher, but was a good leader. He started by building himself a hut to start a settlement from. But the bush people caught and killed a friend of his in the hut. He fled to a village near where a relative of his was chief. This chief was an enormous brawny fellow with little or no clothing to cover his big frame. He listened to Billy and I was invited to come and see him. He came down to the beach to receive me. I stepped ashore, up rushed the chief. The next moment my bewildered small person had disappeared, clasped to his brawny chest. It was quite a new kind of reception to me, but I found out later that is was a mark of honour and welcome. We became very good friends and eventually he was quite a useful ally and in the end he became a staunch Christian. After starting the school I went on to Fiu. There I found as usual the pot boiling. A baptized man there took to wife a bush woman. He then claimed as a Christian to take her free of the usual payment. Our people were not thus taught, but others were and found it a convenient excuse for what their fellows called woman stealing. Of course, the usual threats of "omea" followed. The Fiu people alarmed agreed to pay a heavy pig fine to settle the matter. After all the man was as it were being at Fiu one of the Christian tribe. The pigs were to be ready and fetched on a Friday morning. I arrived late on Thursday and knew nothing of this. We gathered at Church for Matins as usual. Suddenly a terrific uproar broke out just outside the Church. I hastily ended prayers and followed the rush out. There at the door were two parties of bushmen about to attack one another. The two parties belonged to two brothers who had come for the pigs and fallen out over the division of the spoil. Both sides were armed with rifles, each was challenging vociferously the other. The Fiu men ran between and held on to the bushmen's rifles, swaying to and from. They did not attempt to seize them but simply meant to hold on, till the storm abated. Seeing one big bushman without anyone to check him I laid hands on his rifle. He was one of the two brothers though I did not know that. That was why he had not been tackled. When he suddenly found a white man face to face with him he ceased to struggle and let me, though quite at his mercy, hold on gently to the rifle as he gradually quietened down. The rest after much swaying to and fro began to follow his example and the storm blew over. The two brothers fixed up an agreement and went off peacefully with the pigs. The bushwoman remained accepted as properly the wife and property of the man who had caused the trouble. Every returned man was a centre of excitement, warmly welcomed by some, a centre of rows. For example: About this time two Kanakas with their boxes landed in my boat from the schooner on their request to be put down at Gnore Fou of which they had heard from friends in Queensland. One of these Simon Ome was from a friendly islet a mile away. His chief Ramfola was there to meet and claim him. I was up in my hut on the hills waiting to receive them as I had sent my boat for them. There broke out a furious shouting and yelling. Women rushed up the hill screaming "They are fighting and stealing boxes, come down quick". So I did and there found a clamorous tug-of-war going on over Simon's box. Ramfola's party had one end dragging seaward to his canoe, the Gnore Fou people had the other end dragging it landwards to carry uphill. Ramfola was leading the seaward party, so I joined the other. When Ramfola saw me he called a truce and the box was triumphantly carried up the hill followed by Simon. Then Ramfola followed and I argued with him Simon's right to come to school if he would and reminded Ramfola of his support of the school. Ramfola's point was that Simon was his man. He gave in fairly good humouredly after a time and Simon and box remained after he left. No doubt, Simon had to pay for his immunity, in cash probably. His goods were chiefly useful things, carpenter's tools and the like, for he had done quite a lot of handyman's work in Queensland. All next day Gnore Fou was packed with Simon's people, connections, acquaintances and friends, old and young men and women. They got all they could off him, but he remained with his tools and built a hut to settle down. The other man, Peter, came in quietly enough and no one was down to meet him. But alas Peter turned out to be a member of a tribe that had recently killed a coast man. Here was a chance indeed to make square. All the adjacent islets were keen on it and sat up all night discussing it. But Kailafa stood up to them finely. He saw Peter was my man and a schoolman and he Kailafa was my ally so he must not be touched. So Peter was safe inside Gnore Fou, but dared not go outside. He was said, and this proved to be true, to be a leper too, so at Gnore Fou we isolated him in a hut of his own. He lived there very peaceably till his death. The doctor of a visiting man-of-war verified the fact of his leprosy and advised me in the precautions necessary if he was to be a member of the community. One of Simon's friends in compensation for taking care of his box stole eight pounds, a watch and a few other things. He apparently thought it very hard lines when I made his disgorge his plunder. I was only too pleased that he did return it all and let the matter rest there.
ATTEMPT ON MY LIFE
A few days after this a pretty determined attempt was made to kill me and so claim big money for a white man's head. I came out of church after Evensong just before sunset, (we had in those days to pray by daylight as a precaution against surprise) to find ten very evil looking fellows all armed squatting in pairs about the open space in front of the church. They were obviously an "omea" but no one knew from whence they came. I walked to my hut and sat back to the door facing them and talking to the leader who squatted opposite me.
"What have you come for?"
"To see missionary, perhaps he wants some men for boat's crew."
This was really too feeble a pretext for bushmen. It meant that they had not even bothered to invent a pretext for coming, which was an ominous sign. Then they said that they wanted to stay till the moon rose, about midnight, and then go on their way when there was light enough. This was more plausible as there was nothing to prove what the "omea's" real objective was. So we talked on a while. I think my feelings must have been something like those of a mouse parleying with a cat, or a lamb talking to a wolf. However, I knew the only thing to do was to keep calm and face them. The rest was in God's hands. I knew the probably programme. Soon it would be dusk. And then one of the rifles would be pressed into me and fired, the ten would dart off into the bush. But while any daylight remained and we were face to face there was still hope. So we talked on.
Suddenly from behind me came a stern voice
"What are you fellows doing here?"
And then emerged Kailafa and about fifty men from Fera-si-boa, all armed. A woman, unseen by anyone, had slipped down the hill, got into her canoe and informed Fera-si-boa of the "omea" at Gnore Fou of unknown men. The rescue party certainly lost no time, as they crept up silently to Gnore Fou. The tables were indeed turned. The "omea" sat visibly quaking, visioning extermination. But Kailafa had his men well in hand and kept them from attacking. A long parley followed which I could not follow. Then Kailafa turned to me and said
"It's all right now. I know one of these men."
That seemed a great relief to both sides. Finally, we agreed to let them stay till midnight, moonrise, then they were to find their way back to the hills to their far distant village. This arranged, I went into my hut leaving them to talk and watch. After a bit Kailafa followed in and silently stretched himself across two of my boxes by the door telling me by action, if not in words too, now you may go to sleep, they will have to get at you over my body. About midnight they were marched out of the village followed till well on their way by the men of Fera-si-boa. They looked very like dogs with their tails between their legs as they marched off. There was no animosity on either side. They had made their effort and the spirits had decided against them, that was all. I could have gone quite safely to their village next day. An attempt that has failed is not renewed. "There" as a teacher once remarked to me "you white people differ from us. Even," he said, "if someone is killed in trying to do a new thing, you go on till it is done. We give it up as hopeless". These "omeas" were at that time a main feature of Mala life. They are very various in object. Their main object is to take a life by surprise. They no more expose them to a fair fight or pity their victim than a pig hunter does a pig. From one point of view that appealed to the bolder and more active spirits, it is a remunerative sport. From another it is a police errand for the public good, from another a mere attempt to bully for money. Sometimes the "omea" is just an aimless expedition to see if anything turns up, they hope to surprise a stranger, a member of a hostile tribe somewhere. The police omeas are generally arranged long beforehand to capture and kill for witchcraft. They had a decided liking for the number ten as the complement of an "omea".
A BOAT VOYAGE
About Easter 1903 a canoe from Saa, a school in Dr Ivens' district in South Mala seventy miles away, called in. Dr Ivens was on furlough and they wanted me to go there because their native leader and deacon Joe Wate, an old disciple of Bishop Patteson's, had just died. It meant about three days boat journey. I got a boat's crew of six together, packed my stores, waterproof sheet, cork mattress, canteen, rice, tinned meat, tea and biscuits etc. and we set off in rather doubtful weather, about six p.m. after evensong. There was no wind, so it was a case of rowing the boat till midnight, four oars, so there were two to change every two hours. Then there was a wind and that a squall too, and against us. We were driven out of our course a bit, but found an islet and anchored under its lee. It was too dark to grope our way ashore. So we just sat huddled in the boat in soaking wet rain, protecting ourselves and stores as far as possible under native mats. I had a mackintosh poncho, but that soon soaked through at the shoulders. Then a fresh squall from a different direction drove us out of our anchorage. It was only by sheer hard pulling that we managed to keep away from the surf which would have meant capsize. The darkness was intense and the gleam of the white surf and its roar, very ominous. But we did just keep clear of it though making no headway. We could not even see the coast line which is generally clear at night by its blackness against the sky. At last we found an anchorage till dawn began to break. But there was no landing available in that part, so we went on again till about three p.m. Then we reached an islet called Aio where a hut promised shelter. It was deserted. So we camped off there, lit a fire and fed, intending then to sleep awhile. But clouds of mosquitoes, thicker and denser than any I have seen before or since, attacked us from the hut. The fire, however, heaped up and smoking had no effect on them except when the smoke was too dense for us to breathe in. They were apparently desperately hungry. So after a long battle we were driven away. However, the weather had become fine and we found towards evening a canoe hut up a creek and fed and rested there. Next morning we reached Port Adam which was a school village about five miles from Saa. I spent a few days here at Dr Ivens schools in S Mala and found it most refreshing to be in a region free of wars and rumours of wars and to mix with people moving about freely, unarmed and neither preparing for or expecting attacks. I was anxious to get back to Gnore Fou to keep Good Friday, as I had promised them. So we started at midnight on Sunday. There was a formidable promontory to work our way round and the sea was rough and the wind against us. If we passed the promontory there would be shelter and easier going. But pass it we could not and had at last to put back. We waited till Tuesday and then started again, but it was still squally, the sea roughish, so we again put back to find shelter on a heathen and friendly islet. Our night there I shall always remember. They gave us a hut to ourselves, but there had been a death in the village, of a child. All night long we were kept awake by the bitter heathen wailings of the women, so utterly hopeless and abandoned. The men sat by scowling and brooding. This wailing is paid for often, but even then they gave themselves up to it. So morning was welcome when it came and it broke calm, but it was Wednesday! How was I to be at Gnore Fou by Good Friday? I appealed to the boat's crew to make every effort. Their response was fine with seventy miles in front of them. All Wednesday in terrific heat they pulled and pulled, five men at a time and one resting, I at the steer oar. A lovely night followed and a light though fitful following wind helped us much to sail for intervals, at one p.m. we stopped off for an hour's rest and then on again to Gnore Fou, reached on Maundy Thursday evening, after thirty six hours in my boat, one of them ashore. So we kept our Good Friday very thankfully and very quietly and solemnly. All our neighbours had been warned that it was a big "tapu" day and no visitors could be allowed. So the usual crowds that turned up after each return to Gnore Fou kept away. To show how one could trust these people, I may mention that in my absence a large "omea" had camped close to Gnore Fou, it was supposed to be meant for us. Up came the ever faithful Kailafa with his men and took charge of Gnore Fou pro tem. The sequel showed that the "omea" was not aimed at us. It was in pursuit of a bush man whom they caught at last miles down the coast. They killed him, cut him up and ate him. This seemed to make the Good Friday message very vivid, the Christ and the Cross against the black background of unreasoning violence. An important for us preliminary to Easter was the reconciling of the excellent head teacher, Johnson, and his wife Lizzie. Their rows and quarrels and Lizzie's sharp tongue had become a bit of a scandal. But their dissensions certainly had a comic side. Johnson was normally long suffering, Lizzie aggressive. One night, over some very small trifle, a row broke out. The first I knew was being wakened by a fearful row, the noise of a big smash-up of things, crash and bang and Lizzie's shrieks made a weird chorus. I rushed down to Johnson's hut, very near mine, and found him engaged with great energy in chopping to pieces and breaking everything in his hut. "What on earth are you doing?" I asked in Mota, seizing hold of him. "Oh" he said, "I am a Christian, so I can't attack and strike her, but I must show who is master". He had been nagged by Lizzie, unreasoning jealousy, beyond endurance. I think the demonstration did good. The Good Friday reconciliation lasted for they were really fond of one another though ill matched in temperament.
I have written of Mala and Peter. In 1904 Miss Young from Queensland, head of the mission to which Peter was attached, arrived on a visit. She came with some followers to start mission work in Mala with her Queensland boys as foundation material. The first party arrived at Mala, but very soon returned. They had not realized the vast difference between the clothed and smiling Kanaka in Queensland and the same man in Mala, nor was the island life known to them. However, Miss Young was not one to be daunted by first difficulties. There gradually arrived in Mala in various capacities quite a number of very zealous men and women, bent on evangelising the island. Unhappily they did not understand or appreciate our Church methods. Today I believe their converts now number several thousand. What they have done is admirable and a blessing to Mala. But to them sensible emotional conversion is everything. The sacraments are little valued, preaching and extempore prayer are the means of grace, they have no recognized denomination to carry on the work, which rests on Miss Young and her family. I think their best converts excel ours in evangelising zeal, but are less well trained and stable. Anyhow, one longs for co-operation not competition, that desirable goal seems far off.
The middle of this year, 1904, was marked by a visit I shall always remember from HMS "Pylades", Captain da Costa in command. It was fine to see her arrive. She came straight in to our tiny harbour with its winding entrance at what seemed a great speed, then one splash the anchor fell to an inch in the one right place. The entrance had been conned by a lookout man from a mast and the water was clear. Discipline and drill did the rest. As it happened her visit was most opportune. That very morning excited messengers had brought news of the camping of a very big "omea" just outside Gnore Fou of hundreds of bush people. An ex-police boy had gathered them and been drilling them. An eye witness of the drilling reported 3000 men in ranks! I took off the last 0 anyway on my acceptance of the news. I was soon on board the "Pylades" to report myself and give my account on Mala in general, Gnore Fou in particular. When he heard of the "omea" Captain da Costa said he could stay at the utmost for two days which he would put in surveying and charting our little harbour. He sent off a message to the "omea" to disband at once or they would be punished. In spite of the tremendous prestige of a man-o'-war present and visible, I had some difficulty in finding anyone who would risk taking the message. The immediate danger was small probably, but it might be remembered against them long afterwards.
It was a very pleasant two days. I dined on board each evening and I am afraid I broke into a treasured store by accepting an offered bottle of Bass. The doctor and some of the officers came ashore to shoot pigeons. I took the opportunity of the doctor's presence to get him to look at the man suspected of leprosy. Leprosy it was soon pronounced to be and I was told what precautions to take to eliminate risk of infection, he was already sufficiently isolated. The man affected very willingly and hopefully submitted himself to examination. He was serenely unconscious of various probings of suspected spots while his attention was drawn elsewhere. He lived on very quietly and placidly for some years in his own hut, with his own special seat in church. His fellow villagers looked after him and fed him when he got past doing any work. In the afternoon the doctor and I went pigeon shooting. It was, alas, a fiasco. We took the elder chief of Fera-si-boa as a guide, hoping to do a little exploring as well. But all too soon before we had even sighted a pigeon, the old fellow stopped. Nothing would persuade him to take us further. We had, it appeared, reached the tribal boundary and beyond that he dared not take the responsibility of leading us. As we both carried a shotgun we were perfectly safe. It was just a vivid illustration of the daily life in the bush in those days and the thick atmosphere of fear and mutual suspicion they lived in habitually. So after looking round a bit in vain for pigeons, we returned to the Pylades. There our senior teacher made himself useful by explaining with the aid of a map shown him, the geography of Mala and its harbours etc. They seemed surprised that a native should be able to understand a map at all. The next afternoon they will never forget at Gnore Fou. The captain's steward died rather suddenly, though for some time a sick man. They asked me to bury him ashore in full man-o'-war fashion. The captain and officers attended in full uniform with a firing escort of thirty blue-jackets. We began in the native church and then walked to the grave-side in the cemetery not far away. The village was full of onlookers. The ordered march and above all the triple volley of the thirty rifles over the grave, as the final salute, made a tremendous impression. It was a revelation to them of the might of controlled discipline. The Pylades promised to bring or send next year a grave stone to put up and that promise was duly fulfilled. That, too, had an impressive effect for good. After the funeral I asked the captain and doctor into my hut for a cup of tea, as I had then only three tin pannikins I could not invite others. I remember well the captain's face as he stooped to enter my one roomed hut. This is not the place for a white man to live in was his obvious impression. I hope he was relieved to learn that it was a temporary abode and not a settled home. Meantime the surveying of the little harbour went on and that too was enormously interesting to the sea folk as they watched it from their canoes. On the last evening Captain di Costa asked if he could do anything for me before leaving to make things quieter around, that would be of real service. The omea of course had dispersed but might return later.
A searchlight show seemed a bright idea and the row of exploding rockets was added. So suddenly when darkness had set it there was a whiz and roar as the rocket exploded in bright flashes. And up and down the coast and inland as far as possible flashed the rapidly moving search lights over the dark bush on to the islets close to. We could hear the yells of people on the nearest islet and the brown bare figures dancing in wild excitement. Our friends took it as a grand show for their benefit from powerful patrons. The effect as far as the Gnore Fou district was concerned was tremendous and lasting. It gave us a calm breathing space and opportunities to consolidate and to spread our message of good will to those who hated us they knew not why. A message from the bush came to us seeking peace. It added that previously they had thought themselves secure at night anyhow hidden safely in the bush from anything the white man could do. Now they learned that he could see and find them even in the bush if he wished. So the Pylades departed, leaving nothing but pleasant memories behind and best of all no punitive work had to be done, always so uncertain in its incidence and necessarily involving the innocent even if it brightens or finds the guilty.
In April 1905 arrived the first white women to live in Mala. They were established at Mala by Miss Young. The little band I think was two men and two women. Personally, we were always glad to meet, hospitality was a strong element in them and co-operation as far as possible, but that was not much unfortunately. At any rate, we were fellow Christians engaged in missionary work, though on very different lines. What these differences were was naturally a puzzle to our respective followers. The mission was called the South Sea Evangelical Mission. Unlike organised bodies like the Wesleyans and Presbyterians, they refused to recognize any comity of missions, but like their antithesis, the Roman Catholics, worked wherever they could get regardless of other claims to possess the land. As a rule their first opening points were close to our school villages. I found it impossible not to genuinely admire their zeal and enterprise so often outstripping mine and also much personal friendship for them individually. But it made me feel very keenly the wrongness of our un-Christian divisions which so divide and weaken the main work. The women especially one felt were the most courageous of pioneers to settle themselves in Mala to work among the women there. For the women were indeed intractable and unintelligent material, far behind the men and even more deeply sunk in superstition. Later on came Roman Catholic attempts in Mala, but they came to very little in my time. The island of Guadalcanar was their Solomon Island stronghold. To the natives the three bodies were known as English, Scotch and Roman ways and they naturally began to want to know what the differences were since all taught one church, one Christ. I found the most intelligible way to explain was something on these lines--"You have been taught one way, hold to it. The Scotch way teaches you Christ but lacks what we teach you, the Roman way teaches you of Christ but adds what we do not hold to be necessary." It was a very rough statement, but I think was intelligible as marking us all as Christians and also teaching loyalty to "our way" as they called it.
On her return from her first voyage on her way to Auckland, the Southern Cross picked me up at Fiu, intending to drop me at Gnore Fou. But halfway to Gnore Fou, when just opposite Mala we suddenly, turning a corner, sighted the Ysabel, off her route and evidently in trouble. She had lost her propeller and in ten days had drifted 1300 miles from the Gilbert Group and now lay helpless tied up to a tree on the beach of an island called Basikana. They were wondering what chance there was of being picked up and what would happen meantime, possibly an attack from the Mala savages. So when the Southern Cross hove in sight we were very welcome. The Southern Cross took her in tow and tugged her to Gavatu, the chief harbour on Gela island, about a fifty mile journey. Then it was arranged that the Southern Cross should make as fast as possible to Norfolk Island, doing only what was absolutely necessary en route. There she could cable the owners that the missing ship was safe at Gavatu. Then the large steamer of the firm that called at the Solomons could tow her the 2000 miles back to Sydney. At Gavatu we found my old friend H.M.S. Pylades, also Miss Young's party with their little mission boat. All were down with fever but on their boat was a fine mosquito proof house to be put up somewhere as yet not settled. So Gavatu harbour was very much alive with shipping, for besides these there was quite a crowd of small schooners from various islands. We left Gavatu on Monday for Gnore Fou. But owing to a strong contrary wind and heavy sea, we failed to make it by daylight. It was impossible in that sea to land me in the dark. That meant hanging off all night and then landing me, or going on to drop me and my boat to find my way back from Roasi, seventy miles South. Under the circumstances, I elected for the latter. At Roasi, a dinghy was added to my boat for I had to carry six months stores and we worked our way back to Gnore Fou; it was a most unpleasant voyage but it saved the Southern Cross at least twelve hours and probably more as it would have been difficult to fit in the rest of the voyage to schedule.
Outside all was quiet at Gnore Fou after the Pylades demonstration. But relations with our heathen friends were subject to violent strain. A boy from Fera-si-boa who had joined the school at Gnore Fou, died at Fera-si-boa and that suddenly, which made it much worse. Who had killed him? The school was not accused for they felt we really were friends. But there were great debates and excitement ran high. A man from another district had talked to the boy shortly before. So he was fixed upon and the witch doctor called his name out as the guilty party when in a trance. The people of Qai six miles away were hired to kill him and did so. Their chief actually came to tell me what he had done deeming it a friendly act to the school and a just execution. He was much astonished when I did not thank him and listened crestfallen and sad at my ingratitude to some very plain talking. I'm afraid he still remained of the same opinion at heart. But who had paid him? Of course Fera-si-boa had. The two chiefs admitted when taxed with it that it had, but strenuously denied that it was with their permission, though of course it must have been tacitly at any rate. I had the very disagreeable task of telling them that we could be friends no longer and that I should report the case to the Government when I went next month to Gela. They must give me some guarantee that they would cease the witchcraft hunt business as far as we were concerned. I never had any renewal of this trouble as far as boa-si-boa was concerned. The faith of the Christians and the doubts of the semi-civilized returned Queenslanders and the dawning of Government control were beginning to undermine the bold certainty and the infallibility of the witch doctor. The Government itself was not prepared at the moment to take the matter up, but it was reserved for future dealings. As there was no more of it the matter lapsed.
My boat voyage to Gela was marked by first a day of pouring rain, always so troublesome in an open boat, a stay at Mala, visits to a new school just starting near there, a stay at Fiu and then across to Gela. At Fiu I found the excellent Charlie Turu somewhat under a cloud. Charlie had learned in Fiji to drink kava in moderation. Boys from Fiji on returning brought the kava root with them and planted it at Fiu. It was a most unfortunate enterprise. Kava drinking to excess is very destructive of morals and health and it is very closely entwined with heathen customs and superstitions. It needs a very strong man to enjoy it in moderation divorced from all heathen practices. So Charlie was liable to suspicion for even the least indulgence. Rumours accused him of secretly drinking kava with heathen rites and of sacrificing to a wooden carved stick in his house. The enquiry was long and complicated, as all such investigations are. Finally, the evidence narrowed down to what one small boy thought he saw and then blazoned abroad, much embroidered. The prayer to the image turned out to be saying grace in Fijian. Verdict not guilty and a warning of the advisability of keeping clear even of the most moderate kava drinking. Later on my successor found that the practice was a great nuisance and weakness to the church. Kava is not, except by Fijian importation, known in the Solomons. Betel nut chewing takes its place. To have both in one area opens up a gloomy prospect though as far as I know few, if any, practice both habits.
Then I went on to Gela. There good news awaited me. Hitherto I had had to get about in an old boat and one that was none too safe in an open sea in rough weather. At Gavatu I met a trader whom I had come across on his visits to Mala, Captain Svenson. He was open handed and generous, popular with the natives and he built up from nothing a big Solomon Island business before retiring. We met on the wharf. "Look here," he said "that boat of yours is not fit to cross to Gela in, I happen to have a new boat coming down on the next steamer, let me make a present of it." This was extraordinarily generous, as he had just had a new boat which he meant to give smashed up in transport. It never rains but it pours; for an opening my mail I got news that a kind friend of Melanesia, Mrs Seddon, was collecting money in New Zealand for a new boat, which was to be allotted to me. It will be equally valuable and needed elsewhere in the mission. Captain Svenson's boat when it arrived turned out to be a beauty. It was stout, roomy, well built, good under sail and fully equipped with all necessary tackle. It did many years of good service. The old one I had only kept running by diligent patching and stuffing up cracks with oakum etc. The Pylades gave me a good supply of copper, lead, paint and oakum. One of my boat's crew was quite a handy carpenter so we managed to make her as little unseaworthy as possible. That last voyage to Gavatu was a test of our handiwork. We had a fine breeze but a roughish sea and got well soaked and the boat was leaking again before we made harbour.
I was waiting at Gnore Fou for the autumn visit (October 1904) of the Southern Cross with the Bishop on board. Suddenly, breathless and excited, a messenger arrived at Gnore Fou gasping out "Come quick, Arthur Ako has been killed and the school is in danger." I started off at once, but as there was a fifty miles boat journey could not hope to be in time to bury Fiu's founder and leader. I was glad to find the school intact and its number unbroken, not one had fled away. One of the messengers told me the story as he saw the murder. He was with Arthur in his garden when they were surprised by a bush party and shot at. Arthur was killed instantly, but his companion escaped. The attackers, as usual after firing, tore off into the bush to escape and report their triumph. They did not want the other man particularly, but thought by killing Arthur to bring Fiu to an end. Harry Samu fled back to Fiu and a party from there came and took up the body. Fortunately in Charlie Turu and James Ivo, Fiu had two excellent teachers who kept the terrified villagers together and prevented them scattering to various heathen villages where they had friends. So Arthur was reverently buried and the excitement of Fiu turned on to raising a huge pile of big stones over his grave as a sign that there lay an honoured chief and that Fiu was not to be driven out by his death. Fiu had several times paid monies to various enemies and James Ivo from Gela was a marked man and had had some narrow escapes. Charlie Turu had friends and connections everywhere, in fact it was a regular joke that everyone coming to Fiu he claimed kin with as "cousin", so he was reasonably safe and very popular.
The arrival of the Southern Cross after failing to find me at Gnore Fou was a great help in this crisis. It steadied and held them together and gave them a fresh start. Bishop Wilson was delighted with the new Church just finished. It was spacious with magnificent posts and adorned with a beautiful bamboo screen at the west front in black and white patters. The Bishop's diary records "I confirmed five persons this morning and there were twenty communicants at the service which followed. Matins was most reverent in tone: the praying of a people that may at any time be called to die for their faith. Evensong was said at four, and afterwards we passed in a long procession up the beach to a broad river, quarter of a mile away, in which I baptized 26 adults. I stood with Hopkins in the boat and the people came into the water alongside, where I baptized them with a nautilus shell. One does not often see such a service. It took place at the very spot where the first white man was killed eight years ago." A confirmation at Gnore Fou followed, the first there, "good, earnest fellows" is the Bishop's comment. He also notes evidently with amusement my coming out to the Southern Cross with eight canoes following.
ARRIVAL OF JACK TALAFUILA
At Gnore Fou had been put down one to whom this part of Mala owed much. He was a native of Qaisulea's tribe and islet, who had recruited to Queensland as a youth. There he became a Christian, he was very responsive and under the influence of a Mrs Goodwin-Robinson who did many years of devoted work among the kanakas. She got a peculiar hold over the Mala boys and had a specially successful hold on those she had visited in prison. Mala boys were the most lively and riotous, as well as the best workers in Queensland. Jack Talofuila became her best boy and a leader in her school. When the time for the general return came he felt his duty to leave and to go back to his Mala home and teach his people. He was offered a safer and much better paid berth as teacher in New Guinea but refused that. A year at Norfolk Island showed him willing and capable, though not much good at books. His influence was good, especially in the farm work. So when the time came he was sent on to me. He established himself at once on the mainland just opposite Qaisulea's islet. Jack's attitude to Qaisulea, who did not want a school, was "here is my land and that of my tribe, I have the right to be here that you can't deny." A little company of twelve began the new village there of Fouia. Qaisulea could do nothing openly against his kinsman, but no one knew what crafty opposition he might make. He was far famed for craft and for getting his way by roundabout methods. But jack had courage and cheerfulness and soon the school began to grow and prosper. Qaisulea first said, "I shall go if you persist in staying at Fouia". Jack's reply was "We want you to stay, so if you do go, don't say we drove you out." The heathen fears of bad luck from the school were strong still. However, Qaisulea stayed on though he had plenty of places to go to.
Round Fiu schools were beginning to spring up. But always there was trouble at first. At Fiu itself they were still very frightened over Arthur Ako's murder, but were much easier in mind when the Bishop brought them a promise of a visit from Mr Woodford the Commissioner. They had had the grace to decline the offer of a friendly local chief to kill some of these enemies for them (a typically vague and exaggerated native offer) as a warning to let Fiu alone. As I was run down and had had a good lot of fever and some sunstroke, the Bishop ordered me away for a spell, which I was to put in on a visit to Australia with special references to the question raised by the return of the kanakas. Of that visit I will tell later.
I got back to Fiu just five months later. The news was good. The man who betrayed Arthur Ako, for it was through treachery that they found him as they did, had surrendered himself at Fiu, He was in danger from Arthur's heathen friends. The Fiu people took him over to the Government station in Tulagi. There he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment. The bush people were, of course, still threatening further reprisals, very surprised that Arthur's murder had not brought Fiu to an end. Strict guard was still kept. Mr Woodford had installed an ex-police boy to keep guard and report, and given him a rifle to hold for the Government. He was a fine stalwart sensible fellow and imposing under Government auspices. I could not stay long at Fiu as I wanted to get to Gnore Fou, so left at 4.00 a.m. to get in an early call at Coleridge Bay en route. We found a new school flourishing there with Konai as chief and Billy as teacher and forty five people. The latter was quite unable to take school lessons, but was a useful standby pro tem. Then on to Mala. There we found the S.S.E.M. established with a fine house and staff of four. After all they had resolved to start from Mala as their centre. Peter had always belonged to them and Bishop Wilson eventually accepted their claim to Mala. But it was our Mission who had nursed it for them from an original six to about 300 souls. One of their men in talking the matter over with Bishop Wilson drew from the remark "You talk as though you hardly considered us of the Church of English Christians at all", the answer was "Well, I don't know that I do". Presumably he meant unless you can affirm individual sensible conversion. Then we went on our way to Gnore Fou. There we landed my timber and stores. As usual there was trouble there. A schoolman, son of Kailafa, had a wife who nagged him continually. Women in Melanesia though outwardly in a state of subjection have very free tongues. The husband was a very quiet sort of man who loved peace and whose character was excellent. It seemed hard that he could not find it in a Christian village. He had been dunned too, to complete the payment due for his wife. He found a sad way out of his trouble. He caught in his ordinary fishing some poisonous fish, deliberately ate some and was dead in a few hours. Gnore Fou was terribly upset and Fera-si-boa also. The death of a leading man was always a shock. That it was sudden made it a great shock. That it was death by suicide made that shock terrible. Some fled from Gnore Four, they came back later on. The main trouble was the presence of his wife. She determined to stay on. She did not seem to fear what was terrifying her heathen relations and frightening several of our people as well, the prospect of the return of her husband's spirit to plague her and the place. To protect her, her father Maeau, senior chief of Fera-si-boa, left his islet and built a hut just outside the fence of Gnore Fou. The people were very dubious as to his real intention and suspected the old man of plotting an attack on them from the bush. The event showed that the old man was still quite friendly to the school, but anxious lest they should turn on his daughter as responsible for her husband's death and get her expelled or even killed. My return was in good time to calm them down and I made old Maeau quite welcome. He even intended to join us altogether. Though that promise was never actually fulfilled. He was willing and desirous, but the drag against was too strong for him. I soon started off again in the Fiu direction for a proper visit by boat. Konai was doing well. His two braves or fighting men, each chief has some, had retired from business. But they had begun to come to school. Returning there from Fiu, we passed a cannibal village, Foate, and saw a war canoe shoot in and heard her received with drumming, dancing and shrieks of joy. The warriors had returned from war. The war consisted in taking a shot at a woman from Bina and missing her. The woman was a connection of Konai's. So down he came to Foate demanding a fine, as he had given up fighting. He appealed to me to help him. So I paid a visit to Foate a most filthy degraded village. They gave me a friendly reception though they knew I was Konai's friend and an ambassador of peace. They had, I found, sent the fine before I got there, but it must have been on seeing my boat, for Konai knew nothing of its sending. So we made friends and soon a new school arose at Foate II, close to Foate I, which the majority of the people joined.
MEETING WHITE PEOPLE
Meeting with and visits to White people were rare and welcome. So it was pleasant to enjoy the hospitality of Captain Burrell and his wife on the recruiting ship "Eugenie". It was pleasanter still to get him readily to return to his village a boy whom he had recruited under age. Most recruiters would have held on fast to any boy they had recruited. He and his wife paid me a return visit ashore. Would that all recruiters were equally fair and reasonable! And then Captain Svenson turned up at Gnore Fou in his schooner with my new boat on board, his gift to me. I went on with him about six miles and then returned in a fine breeze behind in my boat to test her sailing powers, which proved excellent ones. "It never rains but it pours". Loud cries of "ship ahoy" were shouted on my return. A schooner came in with four boys from Queensland who wanted to join us at Gnore Fou, a very welcome addition to our growing numbers.
TROUBLE AT MAANEERE
Immediately after these refreshing contacts with the outside world, there rushed in, furiously paddled, a canoe of Konai's with a note from Billy Lumane, "Come at once the bush people are fighting and have killed three men." I got to Konai's village that night and investigated the tangled tale. A chief, Abunai, a friend of Billy's had killed another village chief in Coleridge Bay. A revenge expedition during some confused fighting had killed, carried off and eaten two men. One of them was from Konai's village, which had nothing whatever to do with the affair. The eaters promised after the feast to come and wipe out Billy's village as he was friendly with Abunai and had given up fighting. A school village too, seemed a soft option. So Billy's little handful wanted help to move to Konai's place for shelter.
So next morning we packed all that we could of their possessions, including piglets, and a few women and babies into my boat and deposited them in Konai's charge. The men free of impediments could scuttle off to Konai at any moment. I left a party from Fiu with their canoes to help these over the abandonment of their defenceless village. Then on Friday I returned to find that the bush party had departed without making any attack. They found Billy had more support than they reckoned for. Now they want to go back again, It was only after much persuasion that I persuaded them to settle in Konai's place and make one fairly strong school instead of two weak ones. This was just a sample of such happenings everywhere in N. Mala just then. Each returned Kanaka of any force of character wanted to set up on his own as a chieflet, very often with one henchman to start with.
A LADEN BOAT
A very pleasant week in Gela followed. I had to meet on the steamer Alan Christian, a Norfolk Islander, and a carpenter, whom the mission was sending to build houses. He was allotted a month for mine at Gnore Fou. I met the Bishop's Steward, later on to follow Bishop Wilson in charge of the Mission in Gela and much enjoyed the week with them. Then I left. The new boat was laden indeed. There were my goods, Alan Christian's boxes and tool chest and a SSEM man Caulfield with his gear. The boat's crew had to fit in somewhere and perched some on the top of boxes and cases, with just space for four to row with difficulty if the wind failed. We started at four a.m. with a breeze and a bit of a sea running. I asked Alan as an expert boatman and whaler if he would be responsible for getting us across so laden, the 26 miles between Gela and Mala. "Well we can try," he said. "I think it is possible." We got halfway across fairly well, though a bit sloppily as the sea was roughish but calming. We had had to wait a long while at Siota to get started at all. Then down came mist and rain and we got about six miles to windward of our proper course. We then had to take to the oars. It was, of course, terribly heavy and cramped rowing but the crew were lusty fellows and we crept Mala wise and got to Fiu about four p.m. the twenty-six miles in twelve hours, about as good as we could have expected. Then followed a quiet Sunday at Fiu. At three a.m. on Monday we all started for Mala to Leave Caulfield and his goods there. We got on well till we got to the north corner of the island. Try and try as they might the boat's crew could not drag the laden boat against the heavy current running against us. So though tantalizingly near, we got off and camped till the tide turned, we reached Mala about midnight and put Caulfield and his goods ashore and rested there. On Tuesday we started off again minus Caulfield and his gear and plus a boat which he lent us with a boat's crew to help with our baggage. This part of the journey, Mala to Gnore Fou, was almost all within the reef. An extraordinarily low tide caught us and we had to drag the boat zigzag fashion through the various shallow narrow channels that the tide left us in the otherwise dry reef. It took us twenty-four hours of this slow work before we got to Gnore Fou. The lent boat arrived a few hours later. So at last though it was rather a mad procedure, our object was safely achieved.
The next month was given up to house building at Gnore Fou. I acted as a raw apprentice to Alan Buffett and his two native helpers, for at any rate a portion of every day. "You are a carpenter now, not a missionary" was a teacher's comment. I found in Alan a much-appreciated friend and companion. He was op the best type of Norfolk Islander capable of any sort of handwork on sea or land and a cheerful, simple-minded Christian. His memory was still retentive of the great influence of Bishop Patteson. The month allowed just enough for the job, or was made to be so. The house, when finished, was a 12-foot square room with a high ten-foot wide verandah round two sides. Fellow missionaries called it my box on a verandah, but it was a veritable boon after native huts. In my 12-foot square "box" was my camp bed and a bookcase. The broad verandah served for dining room, drawing room and study. A small corrugated iron building lined with shelves alongside held my boxes and stores. It stood near the edge of the cliff overlooking the lagoon and sea and the track up hill from beach and village. Close to were the church and schoolroom and the native huts within the stockade open on the sea frontage only. Outside lay the bush ranges of two or three thousand feet high with its many tracks threading from village to village, but leading first to some open garden land where the people worked daily. A good fresh water stream was near, good for the daily sunset dip. It was odd to be escorted by an armed sentry, but for quite a long time the precaution was by no means unnecessary. I was never allowed to slip away alone. I am sure the sentry enjoyed that part of his office. The gardens could only be worked under the same conditions and big parties. Anyone alone in his or her garden was taking a very big risk.
ROUND MALA WITH BISHOP WILSON
In October I went to meet Bishop Wilson. He was characteristically in charge of the district of south Mala and Ulawa while its priest Dr Ivens was on furlough. For the Solomon Islands were terribly understaffed. We were to meet at Saa in south Mala and then go round the island to be picked up by the Southern Cross at Gnore Fou. The journey in all was about 200 miles all by whaleboat. So at seven a.m. on a Monday I started for Saa, 75 miles south. Six Gnore Fou men and three men whom I was taking back to Port Adam, their home near Saa, were my boat's crew. We started out to sea outside the reef because the tide was out, but the wind and sea were rough. So we had to turn back and get again inside the reef and wait for the rising tide there. Then followed a row from eleven a.m. to four p.m. with terrific rain, so we found shelter in an opportune native canoe house and dried and warmed and fed. Then on to a new school reached at ten a.m. I spent the rest of the day there settling in the new school and making friends with some local chiefs. At sunset we left for Aio an island off the main coast, natural not artificial. I got there at nine a.m. on Wednesday and spent the night there as wind and rain held us up. Luckily there was a good canoe house there but sleep was out of the question. The man, native fashion, kept coming in an out all night, blowing up the fire, lighting pipes, talking vigorously. Some were always thus employed, others slept soundly at intervals. This is the normal native way of spending the night. We got off at dawn, but had to put back for the weather was impossible. It cleared up about ten a.m., a promising time of day for a clear up. A long row followed to an islet Anuta reached at three p.m. There once more drying, warming and feeding. As we had nine boat's crew, each man was only on duty half the time, doing two-hour spells. They personally preferred much less regular ways, which meant in practice, flogging the willing horses while the lazy one sat by. We got off at sunset and it was again a weary row, row, row all the night till noon on Friday. The wind had dropped but we could not sail. At noon we entered Port Adam, a fine harbour, where was a school and a warm welcome. Then on Saturday a short journey to Saa where I was to meet the Bishop. We met curiously enough in our respective boats just outside Saa. He was returning from a boat journey and week's travel in the district further south. Sunday and Monday we spent at Saa and much enjoyed it. Then on Tuesday began our trip together round my district. The Bishop came in my boat and his followed. We had a lee coast at last and a breeze so we planned to make Onepusu, forty miles on, where there was a SSEM school, our first call. The wind fell light so five miles short of Onepusu we camped off. Sails make excellent tents with steer oars for ridgepoles. A mackintosh sheet spread on the sand and a cork matting are hard to beat for a comfortable bed. We found ourselves close to a new village started by the Christian Queensland men for whom the Bishop was in search. At four a.m. we started off again hoping for breakfast at Onepusu where the SSEM people had built a large house and were making a big station. We had a welcome and a breakfast but could not stay. There was a long thirty miles ahead to Fiu. So we were afloat again at four a.m. Travelling was slow, tantalizing light winds just carried us on. But it was very pleasant to sit with the Bishop in the stern of the boat and talk over things innumerable. I think we both enjoyed it, for Bishop Wilson is at his best in the islands, ever cheerful and nothing a hardship to him. We got to the large Langa-langa lagoon, ten or twelve miles from Fiu and stopped off for tea. There are 2,000 people living round and on the lagoon, all of them heathen, but being sea folk, very friendly. So light were the winds that we did not get to Fiu till two a.m. We spent Thursday there. The Bishop examined the excellent big school, the work of Thomas Williams and Charlie Turu and preached to the folk and made friends with them all. Then on Friday yet another four a.m. start to make Mala which we got to at three p.m., not bad going. There Caulfield of the SSEM entertained us for the night. Saturday four a.m. yet once more to make Gnore Fou, for the Southern Cross was almost due. That meant twelve hours rowing all in the lagoon, with one stop off. It often takes longer. The Bishop's boat following though the crew were younger and stronger than mine, left to their own devices, took several hours longer. So ends my round of Mala. The Bishop and I had nine days altogether at Gnore Fou. We could not go far away as the Southern Cross smoke might appear any time on the horizon. But we visited schools near and islets and bush villages close to us. On October, just when we were making for a visit to Atta Cove, five miles south, her smoke was seen and we hastily put back. She took us on board and I began a ten days holiday on "our ship", going with her to Bugotu, her terminus. But there were a few places to call at in Mala that we had had to pass. One was Qarea in Coleridge Bay.
A FIGHT AT QAREA
Then we visited Konai's school. They were in trouble. This was at that time a fortress. It was on high rocks perched over the sea and enclosed by a wall were two huts in which they all crowded at night. A large omea said to number 150 attacked them from the sea. They brought ladders and swarmed up the precipitous cliff. Then they demanded that the school should be abandoned and burnt. Konai refused. The bushmen then fired into one of the huts killing a schoolman. Unknown to them there was staying with Konai an old heathen friend a "mwane ramo" (fighting man) of repute. He had his rifle with him. He rushed out onto the attackers and hurled them back into the sea and shot three of them in the water. The rest fled vowing vengeance. This meant of course a report to the Commissioner of the facts, as the best way of helping the school. Anyway it was left alone after that for a long time. One very big help was the offer of two returned kanakas who had been taught for years in a Church school in Queensland to settle down with Konai and come on our teaching staff.
A RECORD BOAT TRIP
I got back to Gnore Fou to find it "taru" i.e. quiet, and over sixty people there, and went on thirty miles south to Uuru to establish a new school in that harbour. We left at ten a.m. hoping for the regular trade wind to blow us back with both sails set. Punctually to its time it did suddenly spring up strongly and in five hours we were back at Gnore Fou, we averaged about seven miles an hour, very exhilarating going.
TROUBLESOME FRIENDS AGAIN
Our sea folk were still uneasy allies. Two islets, Funafou and Soua, joined in a vengeance hunt for a man accused of causing the death of a boy by witchcraft. The man got away but the people of his village gave up his son to be killed and then they called it square. The trouble was that a man and three boys from Jack's school at Fouia joined in the omea expedition and Jack came to tell me. The man I expelled from Fouia, that in native eyes is severe, the boys I suspended pro term. They only went to help paddle the war canoe and for the excitement of the hunt and in the hope of proving their manhood. One cheering thing emerged out of this affair. The Fera-si-boa people had been pressed to join in the hunt and longed to do so. But Kailafa, staunch heathen and believer in witchcraft though he be. Held them back because of his friendship for me and not one went. Apart from his religious terrors Kailafa is firmly on the side of peace and quietness and is always a courteous gentleman.
In December, 1905, I started Fiu-wards and there got some very good news, i.e. of the offer of Charlie Sage, now that his charge of the school at Mackay, Queensland, had come to an end, to come to Fiu with as many boys as he could gather and settle there. This opened out very dazzling hopes of a strong centre being formed at Fiu for the evangelising of Mala. In the event Charles Sage could only bring very few with him, if he had been able to come at once he could have brought a very fine force to form a strong Christian community. But it was too late, the kanakas had got scattered and some if his best boys gone to New Guinea, much to the advantage of that mission, so we could not grudge them to Papua.
A PROBLEM HAPPILY SOLVED
I returned via Maane-ere and slept in Konai's fort. Konai had just had a testing. His brother had died. As chief and of repute as a former fighter it was his duty to kill someone to appease the spirit of his brother. As a catechumen he knew he ought not. As a Melanesian it seemed obvious to hire someone else for the job. He went to Joseph the teacher to consult him. Joseph's solution was a happy one. "Take your brother's money and pigs and make a great feast in his honour, calling all around to eat the pigs, share the monies." This was done. All were satisfied and it was counted as a great success.
CHRISTMAS AT GNORE FOU--BREAKING A TABU
Christmas 1905 at Gnore Fou marked an advance. There were three Services and some very good singing. The heathens trooped in in crowds and were all on their best behaviour. We had dances, a sing-song, cricket and football. To save an all night jollification I wound up the proceedings with an oration chiefly of welcome to our heathen friends and upholding peace and good will. That was proper form for visitors to a feast and was appreciated. Possibly some glimpse of the Christmas message got across. Men from Queensland have brought back the work "Kisimas" with them and even in distant bush villages it is used of any feast, even if a war proclaiming feast: one often heard that so and so was going to make a "big fellow Kisimias". On Boxing Day I entertained the teachers and their wives to tea on my verandah, well before the eyes of the whole village. The "tabu" still clung to my house as a man's house in which no woman could set foot and I wanted to break it and give the Christians courage to come up naturally on the verandah, man, woman and child, if they had any business with me, trivial or serious. They were not afraid themselves by this time, but feared the reproaches of heathen relations. So the more heathen that were present the better for my purpose.
THE NEW YEAR AT FIU
Then I went away to keep the New Year at Fiu. It was a terrifically hot journey. They, too, had had a great time and vast crowds of heathens and all were friendly. Fiu was then exceedingly well off for food, on the swamps soil was very fruitful and they worked their gardens well. Unfortunately that caused a good deal of trouble as there were nightly raids on their gardens from their idle neighbours, who did not fear reprisals. Later they grew only what they needed and there was no surplus over to sell or be robbed of. That did not encourage industry.
They had brought from Fiji and established at Fiu a watch night service; midnight was guessed at of course, generally about ten p.m. They were very keen on it and very reverent, but it is not a Melanesian custom so I let it drop. Still less welcome to a bed loving missionary was a request when I was at Gnore Fou, I think the year before this, that the drum for sleep and silence should be suspended and that they, following Queensland custom, might at twelve o'clock make "the big noise". I said all right for once. From about 9.30 they kept coming to know when it was midnight, then when I proclaimed it was ten p.m. the "big noise" startled the neighbourhood. It was a mixture of firing cartridges off (these were from Fera-si-boa), beating of drums, smacking empty kerosene tins, shrieking and yelling. It certainly was a big noise and a big joy, they kept it up a terrible time and I don't think many went to bed at all. So does civilization spread. As there was no priest in Gela at that time I went over there from Fiu and spent a fortnight on a round of the chief villages to give them their Christmas Communion. Three other priests of the Mission from the islands of Guadalcanar, Saa and Bugotu came over to Gela after their Christmas was over. We four met at Honggo in Gela and had a very good time.
The hurricane season is from October to April when the trade winds are NW. The mid period is the worst. Every year there will be a big blow, perhaps several. These blows are very destructive and wearisome though not so violent in the Solomons as they are in the New Hebrides or Fiji. I have often been asked what a hurricane is like, so I will recollect memories of some that impressed me. We had a big one at Gnore Fou in March, 1906. I got to harbour from Fiu at just in time before it reached full violence. Hurricanes generally begin with heavy gales, the sky and sea proclaim one on the way. The bad ones work up to bigger and more continuous winds. Then after perhaps forty hours of ceaseless howling the wind gradually gets fitful and dies down. The howling is very trying, the slightest cessation is a most wonderful relief. Trees, especially coconut trees, crash down, gardens are ravaged and destroyed, huts quiver and shake and roofs are swept off and posts break. But native built huts have a wonderful amount of give in them and many survive though terribly rocked about. The white man's house with its stiff timber walls and corrugated iron roof stands stiffly up against the wind's onset. But if there is the slightest crevice to get under the sheets of iron, or in windows or doors get forced open, there is a tremendous destruction. In the particular blow referred to at Gnore Fou, one side of my house was nearly ripped off, but all hands turned to and weighted and tied it down so that it held together. That done it was all hands to the Church which was coming down. It was very shaky at the morning service but still intact. Temporary timber props were hastily gathered and wedged it together. When the blow was over, I found thirty men to set to and do repairs. Every post but one was smashed. They first fetched light new ones, cut in the bush, shorter than the old ones. They fixed in holes by the side of the old ones. Then the whole roof was lowered intact onto the new posts, dragged into its position by long lines of rope from the bush. So there was our Church again in practically "in situ", though a little lower. Then followed the inevitable feast of reward, well earned too. I contributed rice, tea, sugar and a stick of tobacco apiece. The bush around us and the gardens were a scene of desolation. That meant short commons for six months or so of garden stuff and bananas and more fishing needed to buy food with from the bush. The women suffered most as they had to do the work of replanting while the men fished and got their share of food less certainly.
Another big blow I remember at Fiu. There they were bad for there was no protective lagoon. I sometimes was held up for days, a fortnight it might be. To launch the boat was quite impossible. Far out to sea line after line of breakers were tumbling their way on to the beach, to land there with a crash. I remember counting fourteen lines once of these white headed chargers. But at Fiu the huts were more sheltered and suffered less than in the exposed cliff at Gnore Fou. My own hut was comparatively only a short way back from the beach on the sea level. I knew that, when once the sea came in two feet deep at night, I had to hastily pile all my possessions onto a long table that I fortunately had in the hut and then climb up on the table and wait events. Happily the hut held out all night and was soon put right while the sea retreated, the wind ceased threatening to blow it away. But actually the most violent blow I remember was at Gungana, a small boys school under the charge of RP Wilson and his sister, two famous names in MM annals. I was on a visit there when a hurricane worked up. Bungana lay right in its course and got the full blast. The guest house, native built, where I slept was shaking all night and kept me wondering if it would hold out till the morning. It just did that, coming down with a crash as I emerged. I found refuge in the main house with Mr and Miss Wilson. That was stoutly built of timber with a big corrugated iron roof. But we had an anxious time. One nail worked loose in the roof and the wind hour after hour worked hard to get in that way and lift the whole roof off. It just didn't. At the first possible moment when the full violence of the wind was lessening, RP Wilson got up on to the roof and triumphantly nailed it down again. But what a scene of desolation met our eyes when we got out at last. Around us lay wrecked gardens, bananas utterly done for, boys houses down flat or rickety and just around us 23 coconut trees laid flat and mess and wreckage everywhere. But beware of the blow that catches anyone in schooner or boat on the sea. Happily there is generally time to make a harbour otherwise there would be little or no chance of escape. Every blow takes some toll of the local shipping. Native canoes stand it wonderfully, but they are so light, and if capsized, can be held on to and eventually righted by their crews. But there were many cases of canoes lost between islands, crew and canoe vanished from sight.
THE STORY OF MICAH'S PIG
This happening was just about this time. I have often told it for it strikes me, though it gave me a very tiresome time, both comic and illuminatory as to Melanesian mentality. Micah was middle aged, highly respectable, an ex-Queensland boy and a sincere Christian. Micah owned a pig, so was a substantial citizen. The pig died mysteriously. Why? Micah settled down heavy in face and heart to puzzle this out. He had nothing to deserve this punishment. He was as sure as Job about his righteousness. Then it must be a punishment on the school for some offence. First Johnson the teacher, a most unlikely guess was suspect, though of what ill doing Micah did not pretend to know. But then Johnson's pig and Micah's pig had often fed together. Johnson hotly defended himself, lest a claim for recompense should be set up. Then came the discovery that the cause of the pig's death was the irrational swallowing whole of a snake which had disagreed violently. Micah retired again to think this out. After a day or two he came to me with a much brighter face. "I have found out who killed my pig". "Why the snake of course", I said. "No, it was Ifangai, a girl lately come to the village school." "Surely not, Micah," I said. "I'm certain she would never do such a thing." He patiently enlightened my ignorance. "Ifangai was out the other night after the drum for turning in at nine o'clock had sounded. That was very wrong in a school village and so you see it made God angry and He sent the snake to kill my pig as a lesson to us all. Please punish Ifangai." I doubt if he was ever happy in his mind that Ifangai, though talked to about the nine o'clock rule, was not expelled. However, he accepted it with a good grace. What a strange mingling here of faith and superstition. It takes us into an Old Testament atmosphere. There was faith in God, there was the casting out of fear of evil spirits, there was the holding of God as a moral ruler, not capricious or tribal, and yet mingled with it all the old ever recurring who has this, hr or she must be punished or pay.
Plantations were beginning in various islands and internal Government control was being taken in hand. Both affected Mala especially. The greatest number of labourers and of prisoners were from that island. This at the outset led to a kind of epidemic of escape back to Mala. Boys on a plantation, tired of regular work or disliking their employer, would run away. That meant stealing a canoe or a boat and getting back to Mala with swelled heads and often with things stolen from the master's store. Prisoners on a Government station occasionally got away and made off with rifles in a big canoe or boat. There was a great stir at Gnore Fou this April (1906) at news that came from Farere, only four miles away. The two men who murdered Amasia (founder of Gnore Fou) and the murderer of Arthur Ako (founder of Fiu) had been eventually caught and imprisoned in Rubiana in the north Solomons where was a new Government station. They with other Mala men had stolen a boat and two Winchester repeating rifles (treasures indeed!) and making their way from island to island got to Farere. We were all wondering what the next move would be, attack on us perhaps to revenge their imprisonment before hiding in the bush. It was a bit startling when one of these men turned up at Gnore Fou, rifle in hand and asked quite politely to see me. So we met on my verandah. His errand was this. Would I write for him a letter to the Governor. "Well what do you want me to say?" "Tell him if he pays me twenty pounds that he owes me for work for the Government (i.e. his prisoner's jobs, training as a possible police boy), I will return the two Winchester rifles that I hold in lieu of payment." I told him that he was very silly to have run away at all and sillier still to have stolen the rifles and I enlarged on the Governor's power and perseverance and what would happen when he was recaptured. Of that he thought there was very little chance. "The best thing you can do," I said, "is to take back the rifles and ask for pardon and see if you will be accepted again to train for the police service. If the Governor takes the trouble he can fetch you out of the bush whenever he likes, then it will be very bad for you." That shook him a bit and he went off quietly and crestfallen, all the swagger gone out of him. As far as I remember that was the last I saw or heard of him. "Me been working along Governor" was Pidgin English for "I am a gaol bird". On the whole this was a quiet time for Gnore Fou and we went ahead. I tried for a time when there, an informal English class on my verandah in the evening. It was very popular while it lasted. The basis was the reading of the simpler portions of St John's Gospel. The words are easy, the narrative simple. Then a free and easy talk on anything followed. Just as the Southern Cross was due news came from a new school at Taba, near Mala, that a small boy in a hut had been "killed" by two men. The school, a very small one, had broken up and fled to Mala. I told them, as they were safe there, to wait till the Southern Cross brought me their way. We duly called at Mala to enquire. There we found the small boy! "Oh yes," they said, "Two men kill him all right, but they no kill him finish." He had been wounded but not very badly. The school took courage to restart at Taba. Very welcome was the arrival of a new colleague, Cotton, son of a very warm MM friend, whom I settled in at Fiu. Also I got a long letter from Charlie Sage detailing his plans and hopes of arriving with a really strong party from Queensland. He came, but alas it was too late to form the large settlement projected. The kanakas were practically all gone and dispersed in tiny parties. I look back on it as a great opportunity missed. Two years, or even one, earlier, it could have been done on a really large scale.
MY VISIT TO QUEENSLAND
Though the repatriation had been decided on, the law was not yet passed by legislation. There was still time for amendment of weak points in its original form. So Bishop Wilson sent me to Queensland as a sort of Commissioner for the Mission to bring our points of view before the authorities. Our chief points were these: (1) The law as proposed was for the return of all Melanesians. That hit hardly men who had been many years in Queensland: learnt civilized ways, were married, had children taught in the primary schools and were quite useful orderly members of the community. As to this eventually it was settled, that all who had been twenty years in Queensland with their families were not to be returned against their wills. (2) The second main point concerned the actual return. It needed very careful doing lest it should, as the present state of things showed it was probable, lead to great confusion and many murders. Regulations to meet this were made, for example no one was to be landed except on the beach of his choice, nor was any one to be landed until a party of friends was there to receive him. Officials were appointed on each ship carrying back boys to see the regulations enforced. Of course, rifles and cartridges were absolutely prohibited and the prohibitions enforced. The Church in Australia took up the whole question warmly on behalf of the many Christian boys in her schools. I had a splendid and most interesting visit to Australia. Australian hospitality is proverbial; any member of the Melanesian Mission was made warmly welcome for his own sake and the Mission's.
From Sydney I went to Melbourne for the Quinquennial Church Congress and met all the leading Church men. They were keenly interested in the kanaka question. I stayed with Archbishop Clarke in Melbourne. He was an old schoolmaster of mine and a friend of my father's. I was called on to tell the state of things in Mala, as a bringer of news from the centre. It was somewhat embarrassing to be introduced to the big gathering thus by the Archbishop: "I remember Arthur Hopkins as a diligent little boy at school, as my pupil in mathematics." I made my statement a very short one. Its main point was to press the need of care in putting back the kanakas. "I recall," I said, "Fourteen murders in six days quite close to Gnore Fou of men just returned." "Do you know," said one auditor, "That you are putting your fingers into a burning political question." Next day a leading daily paper had my remarks in big type as their leading feature. With the political side, labour v. capital, I had no concern whatever. I was invited to private interviews with the Premier, Mr Deakin, the Governor General, Lord Northcote and with the Admiral on his flag ship. They were all most cordial and were out for facts, which I gave without, of course, my opinions. All this stir ended in the passing of a much improved bill in which I may have helped a little. All who had been 20 years or longer in Queensland were not to be put back against their wishes. As to those returned very strict regulations were made. The ship returning them was to put each man and family on the place he chose, not necessarily the place he had recruited from. The ship's official was to see him safely in the hands of friends with his possessions. There were other strict rules made, making impossible the smuggling of rifles and cartridges. So the mass deportations were eventually made far more peacefully than the earlier ones when the rush back began. From Melbourne I went to Brisbane and then on to Queensland through the sugar plantations. Alas it was a case of too late. Every plantation was practically bereft of kanakas, who were either old hands settled on bits of land of their own, or at Brisbane, waiting for a ship to take them to their islands. Hope of organising on going back a strong band to form a big centre in Mala was found to be now impossible of fulfilment. I visited Mackay, met Charlie Sage there, winding up his work at the school before coming to Mala. Mrs Goodwin-Robinson's school had done grand work and Mala owes today much to her boys. The Bishop of New Guinea had preceded me and recruited 16 of the best for work as teachers in New Guinea (now Papua). To these boys that splendid mission owes an enormous debt for their evangelising zeal and energy. A few like Jack Talafuila had chosen Mala as the place of duty, amid their own folk, though there was more danger and much less pay there.
I spent Christmas in Queensland and found everywhere the most wonderful hospitality. I returned to Mala on one of the ships engaged in putting back boys. It was rather pitiful to meet these boys loafing about Brisbane and spending their earnings till their ship was due. There were about five hundred of them on my ship for Mala. There was quite a strong Christian nucleus, they were strong enough to set the tone of the ship. The Captain told me that he had never had such an orderly and easily managed lot to do with. We had services daily on board. They revelled in hymn singing, Moody and Sankey tunes were roared out lustily and also drank vast quantities of aerated waters. I think the ship's ample supply was exhausted quite soon. There were no rows and quarrels, the heathens were quite friendly and the atmosphere something like that of school boys going home for the holidays. The landings were interesting. I generally went ashore to see them. The ship's gun proclaimed her arrival, canoes swarmed out, the two boats put out heavily laden, each boy was handed over to friends, or taken on elsewhere if he wanted to be. The various schools were open to those afraid to land at their village or those who came back Christians. I remember at one place, a boy who hung back a bit but then decided to land. Going ashore I noticed him put his hand in his pocket and just show for a moment a fist full of sovereigns. That was, of course, to assure his welcome home, of which he was obviously doubtful. Another case I remember of a boy who landed at a new school with 400 sovereigns in his possession. I did not actually see the sovereigns, but that was the sum all told me of. He certainly had a very large sum for a kanaka. The majority of Christians were SSEM boys and their work grew rapidly, but ours prospered too.
THE MURDER OF JAMES IVO
Very soon after my return from Australia there happened that war canoe incident of which I have already told. In August a far worse thing befell. I had brought from Fiu to Gnore Fou, James Ivo, as he was more needed there and he had been in considerable danger at Fiu, simply because though personally liked by all, he was a Gela boy, therefore a suggestive prey. There would be no reprisals and Gela and Mala had far back feuds still unsettled. James was of Christian parentage and from childhood showed "anima naturalitur Christiana". He was a gentle, cheery, loyal soul and of a quiet well balanced unfailing missionary spirit. He has no striking gift of leadership, but in following himself consistently in Christ's footsteps he preached the faith. I have told how he volunteered for Mala instead of ease and repute in Gela where the life would have suited him sell. He was happily married to a Gela woman. A man named George Gwaliasi, once a Christian in Queensland, but one of the few who deliberately apostatised was often in Gnore Fou, apparently a carefree, good natured fellow and quite friendly with James. One morning he came in and entered James' hut and they sat and talked for quite a time. I was on my verandah, perhaps fifty yards away, but did not happen to see him. Gwaliasi's ostensible errand was to buy a belt. James had charge of about three pounds worth of "trade" put down with him by a trader to sell for him. George paid his shilling and left the hut carrying his rifle. Suddenly a shot rang out and I heard cries from the village, "James e maena, James a maena". "It's James who has been killed". The man had slipped round to the back of James' hut and fired through the back door, just as James was stooping over his box to put the one shilling in after entering it in his little account book. I rushed down to the hut, to find James already dead. Gwaliasi had disappeared into the bush. The blow was of course very heavy in its suddenness, but I felt that it was an honour to accept this martyrdom. We wrapped the body up in a white calico shroud with a red turkey twill calico cross on his breast and buried him with all honour that evening by the side of Amasia, the murdered founder of Gnore Fou. Lizzie, his wife, was happily on holiday in her Gela home at the time. Two after comments on this tragedy struck me. One was the remark of the trader when I returned James' box and its contents to him. He said that the money and the goods still in hand were correct to a penny and added that that was the first time he had ever known it so as they always reckoned to lose 16 p.c. and fixed their prices on that basis. The other comment was that of Gnore Fou, very illuminating as to their daily life. They said what a pity it was that James built his hut Gela fashion i.e. with two doors that could be entered upright, instead of Mala fashion, i.e. with one door that had to be entered on hands and knees. And now round those two graves are quite a number of graves of men, women and children who died in the hope Amasia and James gave lives to bring to them and not in the terrors and stoicism of the heathen dying. And they left no craving for blind revenge behind them and the miserable animist chain of life for life. But why was James killed? Gwaliasi had that morning been cursed by his wife, a terrible degradation for a man. To take the curse off, it was necessary to go out and kill and return once more a man. So Gwaliasi selected James as his victim, for he was a Gela boy and Gela was Christian and would not strike back. Of Gwaliasi I heard and saw no more. The Government was not yet in a position to take up such cases and he got safely away into the bush, then far away. Strangely enough, James had had a very similar experience at Fiu. He was once going with a friend into the bush. Suddenly the friend called out, catching sight of a rifle barrel pointed at James, "Don't fire, he is my friend." A man who had been cursed by his wife was lurking there to get a victim, but the warning shout was sufficient on that occasion. Gnore Fou very soon pulled itself together and was steadied and sobered by the event. It seemed to illustrate the verse in the Te Deum, "The noble army of martyrs praise Thee, O God." Lizzie soon married again, as was best for her, in Gela and lived on there in peace.
RETURN FROM FURLOUGH
I was about due for a year's furlough and a visit to England and was naturally anxious to leave things in as orderly a state as possible. On the Fiu side, Charles Sage was holding fort and all was well there and he could come round occasionally and if specially needed, to the Gnore Fou side. Schools were still growing. I had a wonderful time in England October 1908 to June 1909. It was the year of the great Pan-Anglican missionary conference, which was a wonderful experience. I was one of the six delegates from Melanesia. We were in all about one thousand in number from about 250 Diocese. We received unbounded hospitalities from Royalty downwards and the meetings were most stimulating. Papers of lasting value were read and valuable discussions followed. England got a glimpse of the complete vastness of her missionary work, its needs and methods, its calls for men and women. At any rate we delegates returned refreshed to our work. I had a cheering return when I arrived in the Southern Cross. One most memorable time was in Maane-ere. There we found ready for Baptism, thirty-five people, there were now over 100 in the school. They all gathered at the FINE Church they had built. Then led by Konai the chief and his wife the catechumens marched two by two to the river bank, about a mile's distance away. All from the Southern Cross, white and brown, were gathered there. The catechumens stood on the opposite bank where we gathered a big crowd of heathen friends and spectators. Then they came to mid-stream where the Bishop baptized them, beginning with Noah Konai and his wife Mary and ending with a very decrepit dame who by dint of much help from some of our women missionaries had managed to struggle down to the river, resolute to be baptized with the others and not by herself in the Church. When baptized all crossed to the other bank where the Christians were grouped to receive them. Their demeanour was most impressive and the spectacle a real vivid drama of passing through the water of baptism to a new and better life. At Evensong the baptized all sat with us in front of the Font instead of behind, now and onwards their proper place.
JOHN DAOMAI GETS HIS MONEY BACK
We got to Gnore Fou for Whitsunday and found a very warm welcome there. There was a new road up the hill to my village, dry and well made, a good sign that they had been at peace. Then on the Southern Cross we visited other schools before I was put down again at Gnore Fou. En route we called on Miss deck, sister of Dr Deck and niece of Miss young of the SSEM. She, with a half-caste woman as companion, was alone on the islet of Qai. I shall have a story to tell of her later on. Charles Sage stayed awhile with me at Gnore Fou, his expert help was most valuable in some Church building that was going on then. Crowds of visitors thronged us all day to greet my return and left us little peace for a time. One man who welcomed me was a certain ex-Queenslander, John Daomai, of whom I must tell you a yarn. Just before I went on furlough John, from Fera-si-boa, came in often to Gnore Fou, of course rifle on shoulder. In a friend's hut he found an inoffensive bushman sitting and talking. But that made John see red. He from outside fired through the hut. Happily he missed the bushman and still more happily the bullet whizzed just over the head of John's own brother, who chanced to be sitting just outside the hut. John did not stop to enquire but tore back to Fera-si-boa. I soon followed in my boat and had a solemn conclave with the two chiefs and people seated in front of the men's hut. I told them that such conduct was intolerable from friends. If no atonement was made, I should at once send, here I solemnly produced a piece of paper, a letter to the Governor. He would come at any time to their islet as they well knew and would deal with them severely. All looked very solemn and Kailafa was profuse in apologies, but said nothing definite except promises of "never again". Suddenly there was a great shout and out from the men's house dashed in an apparent fit of fury John Daomai. I wondered if he was going to attack me there and then. Instead of that with tremendous shouting he flung at my feet ten strings of native shells, worth about five pounds, as he smacked his thighs and registered rage. I picked it up and said, as he calmed down, I take these as fine for your offence. I am going to England and will take them with me there. Now, if on my return I find you have behaved in all ways quietly and peaceably I will return it to you again. My boat's crew reckoned this a great triumph for us. John was very soon at Gnore Fou on my return. He hung around with an amiable grin saying nothing, but looking queries, till I called him. I had had first a very good report of his conduct during my absence. His own report was "Me quiet fellow now, father belong me he dead finish, me chief now (there were two already!) no more fight but look after places belong me." Then insinuatingly "You got some fellow pipe? Me like him smoke too much." I never had any more trouble with John.
INCIDENTS FROM DIARY
On June 15th Sage and I kept our respective birthdays, the dates happened to coincide and the Southern Cross came in. She took us southwards to Uuru to restart a school there. This school the reader will see has had a very chequered, fitful and feeble career; now 1934 I hear of a great opportunity for establishing a strong school as a centre among 15,000 people of that district. It has always been a very heathen and violent part of Mala. We went to Fiu and left Charlie Sage in charge there. At Gnore Fou on my return then there was as usual more trouble. Three bushmen had crept in at night and tried to get into my store with visions of tobacco and tinned meat as their reward. The corrugated iron creaked so that they roused attention and were seen but not identified in flight. Then there was a rumour, all too true, as the sequel showed, that there was a witchcraft charge out against Joe Sili of Gnore Fou and that Fera-si-boa had been squared to be neutral and not interfere to protect him. This was according to native custom, in such cases, i.e. not to themselves give up and kill, but even if the man accused is of their own tribe to allow others to kill him. Next two men evidently bent on mischief came in, but finding a good number about walked off again. One of them was the man who had stolen a rifle left by Mr Woodford in charge of a quasi-policeman as a sign of authority. He was quite brazen about it and defiant of my threats of telling the Governor, etc. next Ramfola always a stormy petrel burst in rampageous. He wanted to know who had been accusing him of being one of those squared on the witchcraft charge. He denied it strenuously, though as the event showed falsely. It's a mistake to break a rule. One of mine was to go unarmed, except for my shot-gun for pigeons. That they understood. But this August I broke it. I was most anxious to get in touch with a boy teaching on his own, Alek Toke, in the Uuru direction. His message was that he wanted me to come and start a school. But I could get no boat's crew. They feared that it was all a plot, the locality was suspect, to get a white man's head. Then the Fera-si-boa people sent three men with rifles who offered to come as boat's crew and make the journey safe. This I reluctantly accepted as the only way of getting at Alek. The result was that when we arrived near the place, no one knew where Alek was or was likely to be. He was really quite near. But seeing we had rifles his friends were frightened, it must be a hostile approach. So I returned vowing never again. Later on I got at Alek and he and his school did quite well. As to that school, I remember when it was in the hands of a very solemn old fellow, quite a good fellow too. I got a note from him quite seriously asking me to send for a man o' war to stop the heathen women from insisting on Sunday trading and work round his village, though he had tried to stop it, they refused to obey, they were such wicked women. I made a successful attack at this time on the "tapu" which forbad birth in a village as a horror which only bloodshed could wipe out. All at Gnore Fou except two agreed that the "tapu" should not apply there, other schools soon followed the example. This month I reckoned that I travelled over 250 miles by boat, the average rate a boat travels is roughly three miles per hour, and that is, of course, tedious. The Government at this time made a new and important move. Mr Edge Partington was sent to Mala, near Fiu was the selected place, with about 25 native police and put in charge of the island. He was young and energetic, the son of a warm Melanesian Mission friend and famous anthropologist. Partington's job was to try and make some sort of order in the chaos of Mala. This at first entailed a series of dashes with some of his police into the bush to offending villages who refused to be warned. Try as he might he never could catch the wary villagers at home, news of his coming, when elaborate night attacks were planned from unlikely directions always preceded. Then usually the empty village was burnt as a warning. It was not much trouble to build a new village, that the wary bushman was quite used to doing, but it was alarming and an effective caution to know that your village could be got at any time. It began some rapid changes in Mala. This changing of the old was being hastened too by the SSEM. They brought a large staff scattered in twos and threes and also began copra plantations. They intended these as means of giving their people work under Christian conditions, not only as a commercial enterprise. But Mala has never become a plantation island. Mala labour goes to other islands where there is more suitable land. I visited south Mala to meet the new priest in charge there, Walter Sage, brother of my colleague, who had just joined the Mission and was put in charge of Dr Ivens' former district. Boat journeys were becoming noticeably easier. I could almost go round Mala with a stop off at school, either MM or SSEM every night. But the bush still remained to be pierced. South Mala had had schools for many many years and recalled Bishop Patteson's days and ways. For example, Sage and I called at a school after due notice to the old teacher there. We found the whole village on fete to welcome their new "Mama" (Father). The teacher's house had been cleared out. On the table was spread some white calico and a vase of flowers set on that and a dish of tomatoes, the whole hut was decorated with greenery. We sat down and presently was brought in a fowl well cooked and a dish of native pudding made with mashed yam and coconut milk, at another place afternoon tea was brought us in tin pannikins, at four o'clock. I wondered why the teacher was so anxious to know the hour, he had 4 o'clock and afternoon tea quite pat on his lips. The Southern cross picked Charlie Sage and me up at Saa and left Walter Sage to carry on in his new district. We called at Fiu. The first job there was to bandage a broken head gashed by an axe. It happened this way, one of our best women was on the beach when a half crazy man, subject to homicidal fits, came up. He sat down quietly, but suddenly sprang up, struck the woman a fearful blow with his axe, making a terrible gash but not piercing the brain. The people on the beach were for killing him off hand, but the teacher stood by him and he was taken over to Mr Partington's Government station only a short distance away and there taken in charge.
It was while I was at Fiu that news came of Qaisulea's death from the explosion of a cartridge in his hand. I knew that the death of this crafty, powerful sea-chief in any case and especially as it was sudden, would cause great disturbance. The old man had gone out in his boat fishing. He took with him some dynamite cartridges, smuggled, to throw when lit at a shoal. Then the crew jump into the sea and gather, perhaps by hundreds, the stunned fish. The sharks swarm round and gobble up what the men don't get. Men and sharks are too intent on the fish to mind each other. In this case Qaisulea had lit the cartridge and then not sure it was lit, held it to his ear to listen to the fizzing. He held it a second too long. It exploded and of course killed him. There were quite a lot of such accidents till this wasteful way of fishing was stopped, even for white men, and the supply of smuggled cartridges ceased. The last of Qaisulea was a redeeming of much evil he had done. He lived just long enough to tell the people, so I was told, that there was to be no fighting over his death. It was his own doing and not witchcraft. This showed the old man at his best, it was a sort of sunset gleam on his stormy, clouded career. He always had preferred peace as a policy when he could get his ends that way and to keep on the right side of the white people, of all sorts, was always his aim. I may as well go on with the sequel. His son and successor was Johnson Kaifiji, an ex-labourer in Fiji, a lapsed Christian, a much feebler character than his father, or his younger brother who really ruled him. Johnson was still a Christian by conviction, he sent his son to me for schooling, but too weak to stand out against caste influence. I took up my abode at Fouia overlooking Adegege, Qaisulea's islet, to watch events. Johnson began by promising tremendous death feasts, up to one hundred pigs, to his father's memory. Then began the demand to know who had killed Qaisulea. It was no use ignoring his dying request, or pointing out that in his boat, his hand lighted and held the cartridge. The answer was that some spirit made him deaf, so that he did not hear the live cartridge fizz. And so it was imperative to find out who had set that evil spirit to work. The witch doctor got to work and fixed on a very humble old man, one of the chiefs of the adjacent islet of Sulafou. At root it was jealousy of Sulafou being bigger and now more important than Adegege. I had expected that a bush man or a Christian from Fouia would have been fixed upon. His surrender to be killed was demanded. Daily at low-tide the men of Adegege marched across the reef to Sulafou shouting their demands and threats. Sulafou just sat quiet, but refused to give the man up. I watched this with Jack Talafuila from his hut. Then we would go over to Adegege to interview Johnson. He was in a mixed state of mind at one time all for killing, then his face would clear as we talked to him and he would promise to carry on war no further. Daily emissaries from both islets were in the bush negotiating for allies to make a big fight. They also pillaged and destroyed each others gardens. When it got a bit quieter we got the old man to Fouia to live there till he could be got over for his own safety to a government station. Once Jack started off in a canoe to take him, but was seen and followed. Being night, he got into a bay unseen, saw the pursuing canoes shoot past and then doubled back to Fouia. Eventually he was got off safely onto a schooner and put in Government charge, ostensibly on a charge of witchcraft, till it was safe for him to return. The whole thing gave me a close up view of native life, of its superstition and uncertainties.
Towards the end of this year (1909) there was a great deal of dysentery about which caused me considerable anxiety. There were no deaths at Gnore Fou, thanks to isolations precautions and making the village "tapu" to casual visitors. This latter was a very troublesome job and led to several minor rows with the people. "Not at home" when you are visible is not understood in Melanesia. It is taken as hostile and resented not as a rule silently. Ramfola, that stormy petrel, arrived with two small beloved children in the last stages of dysentery. I took them, isolating them down on the beach. Both died despite every effort to save them which Ramfola saw and noted. The village was much perturbed as to what would happen. A great sigh of relief went up when Ramfola asked me to bury one of the children in our cemetery. That was a welcome gesture of confidence. It meant I'm not accusing Gnore Fou of the deaths. The other small skeleton-like body he took away to bury near his own islet. There the grave stood marked with a sign of vengeance; a kind of oath that he was looking for some bush village to fasten the blame upon. He promised me, though I rightly never trusted his promise, to forego any vengeance and to found and live in a school village. He probably meant to do so after his next killing, which event as far as I know never took place directly. He gave us a pig for our Christmas as a token of thanks.
We had quite a lively Christmas, with good and hearty services. Dances followed. They were much of the nature of pantomimes in several acts. At the end of each part a man came out and ran round and round the dancers shouting out his sentiments. One pranced round with an old knife in his hand shouting "You bush people"--there were crowds of these watching the performance--"If you want to come here bring knives for garden work and not guns, we want to be friends and live at peace." A teacher from Fouia pranced round, an unloaded gun in one hand a Bible in the other. Shaking the gun aloft he sang out "Once we thought this everything, now", holding up the Bible, "We only want this as our weapon, to learn from The Book and teach you." A third one had once demonstrated thus "You see by our growing coconut and betel nut trees that we have been here a long time and mean to stay, we don't want to hurt you, only to live quietly in our own place, but you can't drive us out." One foolish fellow of no account began to dance round with a gun yelling "See, I know, some of you want to kill me, but see what I have if you try," before I could stop him his words were drowned in roars of laughter and he retired abashed. Well all this meant at any rate that the schools were gaining confidence and felt that they were on the winning side in the long run. Most of January 1910 I was kept busy over the Qaisulea affair. When free I went round to Fiu and the schools en route.
A CRUEL DEED
At Fiu they were upset by a particularly cruel business. Bush people, after watching and waiting all night, had caught and triumphantly killed a little girl, just as she came out of her hut alone in the morning. Partington came at once with a few of the new police force, but there was not enough to go up to the village concerned as he intended. That followed later and meant a burnt village as a warning to all around.
In June two men came in to spy first. They carried a yam or two to sell to me, a ridiculous pretext from men and those armed. Then they returned to their fellows in camp nearby to report. However Lainao heard of the business and hurried to their village threatening his vengeance if they did not give up their "omea" and so peace once more. But the rifle lent by the Government, in charge of a quasi-policeman, had disappeared and there was great uneasiness about it. I was afraid that someone had been squared or scared into handing it over, so as to leave the quasi-police boy open to attack.
A LIVELY INTERVIEW
On a visit round the Fiu side with Sage I found a lot of trouble going on over pig stealing from the schools. They guessed who the thieves were but had no proof. At last they got a proof. A man, pig stealing, dropped a spear and ran when the pig squealed. The Fiu people at once identified the spear. (Is there a single possession of anybody's in Melanesia that his neighbours don't know?) So Sage and I went up to the village to straighten things out. The old chief had his yarn ready, yes, that was his spear but someone had stolen it from him some time ago. This tale was running quite smoothly when suddenly a man burst in waving a spear and yelling at the top of his voice, "I killed the pig and I am not going to pay." Sage, good man, was on him in a twinkling and spear and knife and brave, all the gas escaped, were on the ground. A sum to be paid for the pig was then soon arranged and all were satisfied. Our Christians are especially subject to this kind of bullying, as they are known to have given up fighting. They are taunted at being only women. That, of course, is hard on the more spirited ones, who long to show the contrary. Meaner ones are tempted to try and get their own back by devious methods, through heathen allies. Most of them honestly follow the path of peace and after a while are left free of any systematic bullying.
This autumn I lost Sage for two years. He went to Australia to a Theological College to be trained for Ordination and then returned to his work. He had got a fine school at Fiu round him with a first class of remarkably clever and keen boys and girls. Teaching will vary in islands and districts tremendously. Fiu was exceptionally teachable. He did splendid work as Deacon and Priest on his return. The accident of his death was a great blow. He came over from his brother's district in a launch to board the Southern Cross in roughish weather. Somehow his mast caught the ship and the launch capsized. Sage, a good swimmer, was in a heavy raincoat and sank at once. The body was never recovered. But his work remains. A very fine Church at Fiu given by his parents is a memorial to him of his all too brief missionary, whole-hearted, kindly and strong work.
JACK TALAFUILA ILL
On my return to Gnore Fou Jack Talafuila was brought to me in a canoe by his Fouia people, very ill indeed with double pneumonia. A long and doubtful fight for his life followed. I turned my kitchen into a sick ward and nursed him there. His people journeyed by canoe daily to enquire after him with evident anxiety and affection. He, in turn, even in delirium, was thinking only of them, wondering how they were getting on and would get on without him. He was an excellent patient and made eventually a good recovery. He is now (the natives age so soon) quite an old man. Now he goes in peace everywhere by canoe as the Priest of the district, on a round of visits, always carefully recorded in letters to me, with the numbers of catechumens, confirmation candidates, communicants, etc. at each place. The heathen are still in the majority, greatly so, but our schools and the SSEM ones are continually gaining ground and breaking new ground. Only the other day, 1933, a white woman walked across Mala alone in safety, received and fed in each village en route by the natives! Government roads i.e. widened bush tracks, are opening up the once inaccessible villages in the bush and tribal isolations are breaking down. This brings, of course, new and harder problems in its train, as to the healthy preservation of the people before the tremendous destructive forces of too swift civilization cause their destruction. That is essentially the missionaries' work today. A native Christianity growing naturally, spread by native Christians is its only solution.
JOE SILI'S MURDER
But it was no means smooth water yet. One of the worst tragedies has now to be told. At Gnore Fou was a man from Queensland, Joe Sili. He had recruited some twenty or more years before his return. The cause of his recruiting was to escape a charge of witchcraft. He returned a Christian and lived an exemplary life. But he was always under a cloud of suspicion. A baby died soon after his arrival. At once rumour surmised that Joe was at the old tricks again. Soon after another baby died nearby, that was practically proof positive. As Joe rarely left Gnore Fou except as boat's crew man, lived in his hut by day and kept watch by night with his rifle lent by the Government, they could not get at him with a witch doctor. So he was condemned without one. I knew only a little of all that was going on. For years they plotted to get at him. Probably it was he whom they were seeking, not me, when the war canoes chased my boat. He was one of Ramfola's tribe, but Ramfola was squared to keep neutral, also Lainao in the bush and the Fera-si-boa people too at last. I knew something was wrong, but no one would tell me anything. One time Joe fell ill, so ill that he was declared dead and I could find neither pulse or heart beat. But he came to out of the trance telling of visions he had seen when the spirit left the body, though not finally. That increased suspicions of something uncanny and fearsome about him. Joe being of a rather timid nature tried to carry things off by brave words. Finally, the famous fighter Iroqata took the job of killing him, biding his time to strike. One morning I was at breakfast on my verandah. Joe came up and went to the far end from my corner. I supposed he was waiting for me to finish to tell me what he came up for. Then in walked a fully armed "omea" headed by Iroqata, who occasionally came to Gnore Fou. He and a companion came quietly, after leaving their guns behind, up the steps and began talking. I asked them what they were about. "Oh", they said, "Just on our way from a big dance Ramfola has been giving, we called in on our way back." This was quite a likely story as they go in war-paint to dances. This dance was really one to settle Joe's fate. As we were talking, two men, I did not see as my back was turned facing Iroqata, got up on the verandah right up against Joe. They placed their rifles at his head and fired. The terrific report so close to me was the first I knew of what was happening. Joe lay dead on the verandah. The "omea" had vanished like a streak of lightening. One plucky fellow tried to collar Iroqata as he rushed by and actually brought him down, but he was up and off again in a moment. I remember seizing my unleaded shotgun and pointing it at the last flying figure. That was futile, of course, but there was no time to stop to think. So it only remained to bury poor Joe Sili in our cemetery that evening. Of course I reported the murder to the Government as soon as possible. Partington soon arrived with some police boys. Against Ramfola and Fera-si-boa there was no evidence they had simply been passive, that death-dance could not be proved to be one. Lainao was adjudged a culprit for letting the "omea" through the village and did not deny it. His village was burnt, of course found empty. Soon he turned up at Gnore Fou asking to see me. He said he knew he deserved punishment and quite accepted the burning of his village, but he did think he had been hardly dealt with as the venerable skull of his grandfather had disappeared in the flames, he pleaded that he had himself refused to act as executioner to a friend of ours. Finally I agreed to make peace. For Gnore Fou's sake I gave him two bush knives to cut wood to rebuild his village. I saw little of him after that, but he always turned up smiling when the Southern Cross came to Gnore Fou and gave us no more trouble and gave up all fighting.
IROQATA'S NEXT VISIT
Partington made several attempts to catch Iroqata, but the man was ever on the move among various bush villages, he and his bravoes had no fixed address. Once, after a vain hunt, Partington with his police, about ten in number, called in at Gnore Fou to stay the night there. He left his police boys on the beach and we sat chatting on my verandah, in deck chairs. I put him in the place I usually had and my chair was between him and fringe of bush near the house on the sea side of it. That as it turned out was very fortunate. Unknown to anyone Iroqata was crouching in the bush, though the cover was scanty, hoping to get a shot at Partington. I was directly in the line of fire from his hiding hole. He waited, as he did not want to hurt me, till I moved, but before I did so, he heard the police boys beginning to come up the hill for supper and bed, so crawled away in the dusk. He himself told this story later on to the Gnore Fou folk, as a joke against them chiefly for never spotting his presence within a few yards of my house on the open side towards the sea. Later on, Iroqata, finding the Government more and more in evidence, got a personal interview with the chief Commissioner in his office in Gela and pledged his word, he had a reputation for truthfulness, to give up his fighting career. I believe the pledge was a sovereign which Mr Woodford fixed to his desk as a token and reminder. Then he retired from business and settled down to a respectable life. Mr Bell, Partington's successor, had known and liked the man in his recruiting days round Mala and that facilitated the settling down.
A BRAVE LADY
Mala in general was quieter, but there were still stormy districts. One notable one was the district round the bay of Uuru, thirty miles south of Gnore Fou. Both MM and SSEM had small schools in the bay that lived precariously. On one of my southern trips I was on my way to Uuru. We were passing the islet where Miss Deck, with a half-caste woman, represented the SSEM. I was vigorously signalled to call in and was hailed as a Providential arrival. For there was great trouble on at the moment. That morning the chief's daughter had gone to market in his canoe, these markets are usually truce times, but this was an exception for the girl was treacherously shot while in her canoe. To complete the tragedy in the confusion the body which fell into the sea was never recovered, the prey of sharks probably. When her companions fled back with the news there happened to be at the moment in Miss Deck's house a woman of the tribe that had done this deed. She seemed a victim for vengeance ready provided on the spot. The chief came on to the verandah and claimed her. Miss Deck had just got her into her bedroom and stood at the door defying them to enter. A noisy clamour of rage and threats followed on the verandah. It was one woman against the whole village. The chief himself though very bitter kept his people from forcing their way in and tried to get Miss Deck to allow them in. Somehow in the confusion, which the sight of my boat added to, the woman was got by other women out of the bedroom by the window and slipped away in a canoe to the main island, her own district. It was just then my boat appeared. I got hold of the chief and after a long talk he calmed down a bit. So I and my boat's crew settled down for a couple of days on the islet to see the storm blow over. Against Miss Deck there was no personal enmity but as they grew calmer, admiration, the Christian nucleus gained the upper hand. So I went on my way exhorting the chief to leave it to "Goviment" to deal with. He himself took a most binding oath that he never eat taro his favourite staple food, till a death avenged his daughter. This oath he kept for many years. It was only recently I heard that the old man had managed to get a life and was eating taro again. The disappearance of the body was what troubled them most of all.
A NARROW ESCAPE
While writing of the Uuru district I will tell of a very narrow escape I had there. On a visit to our little school there I found, as was right and proper, it was about midday, no-one at home, they were in their gardens. I entered the missionaries' hut and sent off my boat's crew to get firewood and water and sat there alone waiting. In walked two armed men looking very hostile and fidgeting about and peering round. They were waiting for me to turn my back and wondering where my boys were. I kept them in talk a bit and the boat's crew turned up while they were hesitating, so they took themselves off, though I was actually at their mercy. To them I suppose subsequent escape was a bit doubtful with the boat's crew around. In a day or two I returned to Gnore Fou and had just arrived when a canoe arrived from Uuru with the body of Mr Daniels, a SSEM missionary. He had been on a visit to his school in the same bay. After dark he got out his magic lantern and held an open-air service. The same two men who had tried for my head were still on the prowl and from the bush shot him. His boys at once fled to Gnore Fou taking his body with them. I hastened on with them to Mala his main station and we buried him there. The two men, we were told, went to claim the blood money. But only got in return "Yes, I wanted a white man's life, but not a missionary's, so won't pay you." The murder of a white man was, of course, a serious government concern and a man-o'-war was sent for from Fiji to punish the guilty parties. It arrived in the Solomons in due time. And then elaborate plans were made to make its action effective. The Government's little schooner the Lahloo was to go openly to Uuru harbour as though for a police action. Then after visiting the islet in the harbour which was partly concerned in Daniel's murder, the Lahloo was to depart. Next at dusk, the man-o'-war was to suddenly steam in when the natives would think all was over and send up a party of blue-jackets to the village in the bush where the two murderers were. I was asked to go on the man-o'-war as interpreter if needed, to be useful if called upon in treating with the natives. I accepted not very willingly this duty as I might be of use though it put me in a position that native friends might misinterpret. Both friends and foes were not unlikely to do so. The Lahloo duly arrived and that was enough to scare the islet, they all fled helter-skelter across the shallow reef to the main land and left the islet empty. In the confused flight unhappily a woman with her children was drowned. The Lahloo then departed. After leaving time for the people to think that was all that was to be done, the man-o'-war slipped in. A party of blue-jackets was landed and led by a guide made their way up to the bush village and actually did surprise it. Some opposition was offered and two natives were killed in the return fire. One of these strangely enough was one of the actual killers of Daniels. The blue-jackets were sniped at on their way back to the bush and one man was slightly wounded. A party then fired the empty islet as its share of the punishment, not a severe penalty for they had cleared out with all their possessions. So my services were not wanted. Perhaps I might have pressed them further, though that would not have been of much use. I got myself put ashore in the morning to visit our school village. It was absolutely empty but I was told that the teacher was a little way in the bush. So I tried to find him, reached a village quite near done and found that too empty. I knew it was not risky, though I think the sailors waiting on the beach for my return were very doubtful of it. This expedition certainly scared the district for quite a long time. The islet remained uninhabited for some years. This unfortunate drowning disaster no doubt was the main cause of its long remaining empty. Missionary work certainly had a set back. Uuru though scared remained wild as ever. It was in this district that Mr Bell, District Officer, and his white cadet assistant were killed when gathering a recently imposed head tax of 10/- per head on all males between 16 and 60 years of age. Now (1934) there are brighter prospects. A little band of the Melanesian native brothers is there opening up the district computed to have a population of about 15,000. The present Bishop is hopeful of making a strong centre there. I believe SSEM work is also active in the bush. I think with great thankfulness that the days of man-o'war visits are now over. It is always a very unsatisfactory pro tem system. Those who have to do it hate the duty. It scares for a time, but is too haphazard to deal justice. If the ship is large the navigation is dangerous and their arm is only at best the length of the range of their guns. Their visits are very costly and necessarily very hasty ones.
MORE PEACEFUL TIMES
After this on the whole Mala was much quieter. The shocking murder of Mr Bell and Mr Lucas was a great exception and that was after I had left Melanesia. There were many reasons for this. The Government was now in personal contact with the people. The returned kanaka excitements were dying down; missions were making headway: plantation work on neighbouring islands were an outlet for the more restless, the island was being opened up and the people no longer shut up in their little tribal districts were not necessarily enemies whenever out of them; widened bush paths helped and the many things once "tapu" could now be done harmlessly as experience proved. The thick atmosphere of mutual distrust began to lift and Christian ways were found not to bring disaster either on themselves or others, but rather peace and friendship. Then again the ferment caused by the mass return of kanakas began to abate. They were beginning to be absorbed in their village, or in schools, or on island plantations. Even to primitive intelligence the Christian village with all its imperfection, was a far better place than his own so small and so fearful; to those who had gained by civilization it was the obvious place of refuge and hope. Against all this there was still opposed an immense mass of conservatism and superstition and suspicion and instinctive wish to be independent and masters in their own place however small, free of the white man and his increasing hold on the island and regulating of it. When taxation was imposed this feeling grew strong. The argument that the tax was little enough to pay for roads and order, justice and peace, did not appeal to the men who had to make the roads to be kept in order at first. The white man's cake, wages and the means to buy his good things told heavily with many. The orderly eating of it was the problem. And it will take time before they can distinguish between wholesome and unwholesome cake, a task that western civilization still finds it impossible to do.
As Mala became quieter and open to progress and I had a younger man in Mason at Fiu to take over the district and I was in need of easier physical work, I decided most reluctantly to leave Mala. But, before I tell of after-Mala days, I will take this opportunity of telling something of the real work, normal missionary procedure. After all these disturbances and troubles were extraneous and passing. As one thinks of the missionary with all his weaknesses attempting to lead others to the knowledge of the one true God, it becomes increasingly clear that he is only a very imperfect channel for establishing contact with the Divine grace for those who were in such blind bewildered ways feeling after God. He, the missionary and his helpers, are as it were like very imperfect broken, but still working, wireless instruments through which the Divine are breathes. All that is good, true beautiful, is there for all to share, only the instruments mingle with it by their imperfection much that is bad, false or ugly. And the hearer's imperfections add to that. And there are rival wirelesses at work each claiming to be the best. So a vision comes of the marvels of God's grace in men, women and children and catching something of God's irresistible grace. All the means used contribute. First comes, I suppose, personal influence, the life of love, and then its use of teaching, preaching, services, classes, medical work, and all the daily round in house, school, Church, village, journeyings, among the heathens, with the teachers, the boat's crew, or the playground, at feasts, dances. Each missionary has his or her gifts, however humble, that grace transforms and uses. The strong man swiftly secures obedience, order and discipline and a striking visible result. But his influence is apt to depend upon his personal presence; the able teacher produces apt pupils, but these may be weaklings away from him or her. The ordinary men or women see perhaps little visible effect, but leave people struggling less swiftly but more independently in their own way towards the light. All in their own way bring contact with the one true God; their service is in proportion to their own personal devotion. St Paul was often amazed at the use God made of him must his inferiors. For it is the daily miracle of the Spirit blowing where it listeth. This means, of course, "presume not, despair not". Presume not, for you yourself may fall, despair not if the most trusted convert does so. Go on with your daily work and leave the result, not in apathy or exultation, but in trust and wonder.
MORE PEACEFUL DAYS
At last the "Pax Britannica" really began to obtain though of course not yet everywhere. The great sign of it was much more going about unarmed and that to new places. The schools were all open and opened up these districts. Another significant sign was that the common retort to a quarrel, to a disputed claim, was "You no pay along me? Very well, me summons you along Governor." "Summons" became quite a current word with a hazy legal connection. I began to feel that I could and ought to give up my Mala work mainly for physical reasons and the fact that now I could leave the work to two good men, Mason, still at Fiu, now a MM veteran, and Simmons, who after all was obliged to leave before long. There was also a good band of teachers with Jack Talafuila and Charles Fiu, both Priests ere long, to carry on. So reluctantly I asked for and obtained a new job. Mr and Miss Wilson were leaving for a year's furlough so I took charge in their absence of the small boy's school on the islet of Bungana, Gela. I had a very delightful year there. Bungana was an ideal place for a boys, or as it is now, a girls school. The islet was mission property. It had a hill with a glorious view of the Solomon Islands, garden land to grown native food and coconuts to make copra to sell to help the expenses. We had it all to ourselves as it was an islet, which was a great advantage. Tulagi, the Government centre, and Gavatu, the trading centre, were close to. Though only 26 miles across the sea to Mala, the atmosphere and surroundings were almost those of a different hemisphere. The school was in magnificent order thanks to the devoted able work of RP Wilson and his sister, and in John Bulamel of Opa I had a very capable native assistant. So all I had to do was to carry on, turning as it were the wheel of the machine till the Wilsons return. I am afraid I did not succeed in keeping it up to their standard of teaching and discipline. That could hardly be expected, but I hope no harm that they could not soon restore was done. It was a happy time with the little boys as a rule very amenable and very jolly and living a happy, healthy, active life. Each day passed very quickly with its routine of chapel, school and games. The school was limited to forty boys and they cost about five pounds per head per annum for board, lodging and clothes. The lodging was in native built huts, dormitories, the school was in the white man's house with its five good rooms and broad verandah, the food was mainly native grown on Bungana, with supplements of tea, rice and occasionally meat; the clothes were for each boy three "malos", short calico skirts, one for school, one for work and play, one for Sundays, a white one. Constant sea bathing and regular washing kept their brown skin clear and shining and regular food and hours kept them rapidly growing and healthy. Most of them were already baptized, for the majority came from Christian islands, but some came from heathen surroundings and had to be prepared for baptism and learn to read and write. Most were confirmed before leaving to go to a senior school. There were daily two gatherings in Chapel, three short schools, three meals, one spell of garden work, the games were cricket, football, bathing, play on the beach, with a special moonlight leave for this once a month, wandering about the islet, fishing and that vast variety of "ploys" which small boys all over the world invent for themselves. Saturday, "more Melanesio", after clean up roads and houses, was a free day, chiefly employed in fishing, as was the custom on "catch-fish" day (Saturday), a custom brought to every island from Norfolk Island. I was sorry when my "locum tenens" year at Bungana ended, though glad to hand back to their care the school of which Wilson and his sister were the father and mother.
My next job was at Maravovo to help the Warden, Steward, later on Bishop of Melanesia. He was in charge of the training college for native teachers and ordinands. Marivovo was on the island of Guadalcanar and was quite, even then, a big station. There was a large native Christian village founded in troubled days by P. W. Williams, also a college and a hospital and a coconut plantation. The white staff men and women numbered about half a dozen, a doctor, two nurses, a plantation manager, the Warden, his assistant. It was peaceful and quiet work and lay right at the root of the building up of a native Church. To have daily white companionship meant much, and the freedom from being "boss" was delightful and the work of teaching congenial, especially as that teaching was of some of our best people. I had also a spell of work at Norfolk Island and when that was closed down, again to Maravovo in charge of the college. Simmons and his wife were with me on the staff and Mr Warren and his wife in charge of the big boys school, also the Mission printing press was transferred there after the hospital was closed owing to our one doctor going to take his part in the war.
When the war broke out I was pro tem at Norfolk Island but for a very short time. There we got by cable daily news of all and more than all that happened. For at first some strange news got through from Fiji. On the first day we heard that the Belgians had heavily defeated the Germans and was soon that the German fleet was at the bottom of the sea. But the official daily bulletin soon gave us the news correctly. At Maravovo news was infrequent. There was a wireless from Sydney to Tulagi, but that was out of our reach. Mails were few and brought the news in great and indigestible lumps. It was curious to watch the effects of the war on Melanesia. All were fervently pro-British. German rule was not popular as known in the German Solomons. Those islands were at once taken over. The only German ship known round Maravovo was a little schooner called the Germania. She was at once taken over from her owner and flew the British flag. The natives thought that ended the war! At first they were very keen for all news and eager to see any illustrated newspaper. After a time they got bored. The feeling was why ever do the English go on and on killing the Germans month after month. I was again at Norfolk Island when the peace was proclaimed. The joy of our boys was marvellous. The news reached us by cable about 9.30 at night, just before bed time. Every Norfolk Islander got on his horse and galloped, cheering wildly, over the little island. Many of them in parties passed the Mission station. The boys all joined frantically in the cheers and then rushed on to the hall verandah and did a wild joy dance there. Then, contrary to all rules and precedents, a rush was made out on to the road to join in the Norfolk Islanders demonstration. Drummond, the Warden, and I followed. It took us till nearly midnight to get them all herded back into the fold. However we felt that it really was a night for something exceptional to happen on. Norfolk Island, by the way, during the war, was awaiting a possible German raid on the cable station there. But our Japanese allies made that too risky to attempt. The Norfolkers relieved their feeling by digging trenches to man if an attack came, though it could not of course have been the slightest use except perhaps checking the first boat-load that landed. I remember one afternoon walking out to the cable-station. Then I happened to meet the Governor and the head of the cable as they were looking out seawards. The weather was foggy, but they had just seen a strange ship through the haze. A German raider? Shall we notify Sydney? Wait a bit. What's that? We heard a booming sound and apparently a splash of surf. Are they bombarding us? Just before they decided to cable Sydney the fog cleared a little and we saw the Fiji steamer passing, nearer than usual to the island. The booming and the splash of surf were simply due to a rough sea not to gun-fire and looked exactly like and sounded like shells bursting and throwing up a cloud of steam like surf. The war had queer influences on individuals. Our printer at Norfolk Island, Menges, was a German, an American German, one of his grandfathers was a Frenchman, but his sympathies were German. He didn't want Germany to be beaten by France, still less, as now an ardent Britisher, did he want Germany to beat England. Through unfounded suspicion he lost his place on the NI Council and was deprived of his vote. He felt it deeply. A trader in Uura Island was a German and popular with the natives, whom he dealt with fairly. A deputation came to the missionary in charge to ask hopefully, if it was not their duty to do their bit by killing him!
After Norfolk Island was given up the centre of the mission was at Siota, on Gela, right in the centre instead of on the far circumference. So it was determined to move the college there. I had the great joy of welcoming as colleagues there RP Wilson and his sister. He had volunteered to come there as Chaplain. The strain of his former work was telling o them both. At Siota they found an invaluable sphere of work and influence. Miss Wilson had charge of the wives and children of the teachers and the women's work generally. There were also two nurses there at work also in the villages near Siota. The teachers came up for one term only for refresher course, the ordinands stayed for a longer training. The problem was how to make the best of so short a course. It was to refresh primarily i.e. to send them back re-inspired, some after years of hard work. Spiritually our daily Eucharist was the great means. It was useless to attempt to add much to their little stock of learning, but I aimed at stimulating their intelligence and getting their minds to work not by pouring knowledge in, but by giving them visions. So they filled notebooks joyfully with all sorts of outlines of various subjects sacred and secular, little bits of geography, astronomy, Church history, doctrine, a good deal on the lines of Bible Helps. Their notebooks were their only library for future reference. They certainly enjoyed fully the notebooks and copying weird diagrams. I wondered how many of them ever opened them again in their villages. Some I know did. One youth for instance I was told of who after I left, brought his tattered notebooks to Miss Wilson with the insinuating request that she should re-copy them for him. It was a busy and quiet life and the antitheses of the Mala pioneer days. The daily garden work was a difficulty. The teachers, often elderly, were apt to consider themselves as by right exempt from manual work and very good of them to consent to put in the daily period on some very easy leisurely job. For the Mission had to have paid workers for the plantation and gardens. So weeding paths and that kind of job was about all they did. There were occasionally reminiscences of what I might call the Mala manner. I remember well one teacher who had a good disposition but a very violent temper. He fell out with another teacher while bathing. He, in a murderous rage, was seen by Mr Wilson, doing his utmost to hold down and drown the other teacher. Wilson separated them just in time. The aggrieved man took it very quietly and the aggressor was very ashamed of his fit of passion. I had them both in my room and they shook hands with the customary formal "me paso" i.e. that is over. To show that I trusted them, the bad tempered one specially, I went across the harbour to a neighbouring village for a few hours, at the risk of seeming shirking as too casual. The teacher was excluded from services for a short time, then allowed back, then after another short spell allowed his turn to read the lessons and before long restored to full Communion. It seemed with a man of his type best to err on the side of rapidity. He went back to Ulawa in a zealous frame of mind and did some good work there, though always I'm afraid erratic.
ORDINATION DAYS AT SIOTA AND SYNOD
The great days of life at Siota were the Ordination days; by twos and threes men were being added to a growing native ministry that they might be the background of a really native Church. Those services were very real and solemn to all concerned. Other red letter days were when Synod met, that was every five years and all the scattered staff met as far as possible at Siota and discussed the Mission policy. The native clergy attended and had also separate session conducted in "Mota" that they might talk freely at and feel that they had some real share in the whole work. We talked much and lengthily on a great variety of subjects in the full programme. Our recreations were running a daily little newspaper, full of skits and chaff and playing lawn tennis. Bishop Steward had given Siota a coral-cement court, a great boon at Synod times.
As at Bungana and Maravovo, Rogation Days were eventful. They were marked by long processions from point to point, starting from the Chapel and returning there. We visited in turn with pauses for prayer, houses, cemetery, climbed up the hill and overlooked the Solomons, both Christian and heathen regions and the gardens. At Siota on the Festal Eve of Ascension Day the return to the decorated Chapel at twilight, blazing with many candles, was a most effective and thrilling bit of ritual.
One farewell scene remains fixed in my memory i.e. the first starts of the native brotherhood. In some of my Church history lessons I dwelt upon the topic of those early monks to whom Germany, for example, owe the founding of Christianity, especially those who came from England to the wild tribes in the bush in Germany. I explained the threefold vow of poverty, chastity and obedience under which they worked. One boy, a remarkably able one sensitive to any new things and keen to try it listened eagerly. He went to Bishop Steward and asked him if it would not be possible for him and some of his fellows to do the same in heathen Melanesia, to go under the threefold vow and open up villages and districts for teachers to follow and settle in. Bishop Steward saw great possibilities in the offer. As to the vow, that he said must be for one year renewable and dispensable, for you many not be equal to more. Ini Kopuria offered as a starting point to get together a little band to build a hut on his land, which he offered to the Mission near Maravovo. So there on that spot the start was made. Bishop Steward with the assistant Bishop and myself, went ashore and received Ini's dedication of himself and his all on his, as yet, unopened bit of land. So the Brotherhood started. It has since grown and has done pioneering work in many islands. They go in little groups, each household under an elder brother wherever they are sent. There is an annual gathering if possible on St Simon and St Jude's Day at the starting point, where there are always some brothers resident for a short time. They are directly under the Bishop and the year's programme in which they have a great say, is settled at the annual gathering. The work is living and congenial to the Melanesia temperament, gives scope for individual enterprise and independence. It has, of course, its dangers, one is the opening up of more than can be occupied and the appeal to novelty rather than the steady routine work. But there is room and place for its energies. The follow up is the problem.
After twenty-five years in Melanesia I felt that the time to leave was imperative. My health was bad and increasing deafness was a very great impediment. So I faces the situation and resigned. The kindness of all to me I shall never forget, it made the leaving harder but sweetened it too. The goodbyes from Mala, as the Southern Cross called, and at some of the villages there on my way back to Auckland, were overwhelming. The whole population lined up on each side of the path from village to beach and each as I passed, even babies in arms, had some gift to offer, however small, from a tiny shell ring, a porpoise tooth, up to clubs, spear and other native treasures. It all left a very pleasant memory to carry to England and to retain there as I do today after nine years away from the Solomon Islands.
After a good rest I gladly accepted the Mission's offer first to go on the Committee and secondly to work at the London office as London Secretary and do deputation work in the home counties. So I came in close contact with yet another side of the Mission's work i.e. the operations at the home bases. It was a most interesting job and I carried it on as long as I could, but had to give it up and go into dock, a somewhat battered old hulk into the Tropical Hospital, Endsleigh Gardens. Then after two applications of blood transfusions I came to life again and after a while took Parish work in Sussex, till I had another break down. Now I am on the shelf and write this as a final bit of MM work. I ought to know what missionary work is, from the office desk, the deputation, then among the primitives, in school and college. To me the amazing thing is the use God makes of those who venture on it. Our faults and failings, our frailties and fumblings, are obvious. The task is humanly speaking impossible. And yet though broken lanterns we are light carriers, not of this dazzling swift electric light that civilization carries, which too often is fatal as lightning, but rather like the native flickering torch which guides through the dim bush, through stumblings and haltings and shadows that deceive to the wide open ocean of the love of God, that cleanses and strengthens. So I want to say to every one who reads these words, if the call comes to you follow the gleam and leave the rest to Him who called you, because He could use even you. But that particular call to be a missionary may never come to you. Wishing for it won't bring it, self-calling will end in bitter disillusions. If you desire it pray for it and wait for it and then be ready to find your Christian life cast elsewhere. But it does come, it will come with certainty and with a strength that will make life worth while.
What is the appeal of Melanesia and its call to us? We will put aside as auxiliary the romance that hazes the words ships, south seas island, cannibals, crocodiles, sharks, porpoises, earthquakes, tropical flowers and fruits, or the appeal to endure tropical heat, rain, insects e.g. mosquitoes, sand flies, ants and all their tribes. The real appeal is that great one of the claim on us of the childlike races of the world. We are among them, overwhelming them. By our intrusion we have made ourselves responsible. One can certainly say of Melanesia, happy are those islands where the first white intruders were missionaries. They at any rate whatever their failings and errors came benevolently. They come as friends in Christ's name and cause. Others come as traders or in Government employ. All the more credit to them when they live as benefactors among the natives and show practical Christian lives in daily contacts over ruling or trading or planting or whatever their work is. All alike are in danger of going too fast, the Missionary wants quick converts and numbers, the official a well ruled, obedient district at once, the trader or planter a thriving business and demands for goods the faster the better. But by the patience of Christ our Master, let us be content to go more slowly. The Church can here do immense service. Her agents of necessity are in closer touch with the men, women and children around them than others. Between the aggression of a too quick civilization and the perishing of the old culture, the Church is called to the task of building up a native Christian Church than can by natural assimilation reject the evil and choose the good in ways and by methods suited to its nature and stage of development. There is the romance of Melanesia and that lasts. Some find the natives repellent, some see them through a rosy haze, to see them simply as those who need wise help, folk just as stupid, just as clever, just as selfish, just as considerate, just as emotional, just as heartless, just as straight, just as tricky, just as devil-possessed, just as Christ filled as those around us in England, is to get in touch with them on a human footing. The one remedy for their ills as for yours and mine is just the Gospel of the Incarnation. To tell them that by living it, though so imperfectly, among them, is spiritual romance, the most romantic of all. All that is true in us to that message carries it home to their lives. So if the call comes obey it in faith and hope and love.