Project Canterbury

John Steward's Memories

Papers Written by the Late Bishop Steward of Melanesia

Edited with an Introduction by M. R. Newbolt

Chester: Phillipson and Golder Ltd., 1939.



When I first joined the Mission the headquarters were at Norfolk Island, and all newcomers went there first of all. We came out from England by the Ophir P. & O., which had just been used as a Royal Yacht for the visit of the Duke of York to India, and on arriving at Adelaide we heard that we could catch the B.P. ship from Sydney to Norfolk Island by going overland. Adelaide, our first stopping place in Australia, is so arranged that we had no trouble in finding our way about, but Sydney was different. We had only a few hours before the ship sailed in which to do some necessary shopping, and our first need, after securing our berths, was for lunch; but all the hotels in Sydney seemed to consist of a bar and nothing else. Accordingly, after the English custom, I "asked a policeman." "Sure," he replied, when I asked where there was a good hotel. "Sure, all the hotels in Sydney are good." Amusing, but not very helpful. Somewhere near the Circular Quay we found an eating house. I have not to-day the slightest notion where it was, or what sort of people were its usual customers; I should say they did not cater for the clergy, indeed, our appearance seemed to create a little sensation among the diners, but we got our meal good and cheap, so all was well. We rushed round and hastily bought things that neither of us had ever dreamed of purchasing before, such as beds and bedding, and reached the ship in time to get settled into our cabin before we sailed. The weather was fine, but a heavy swell was running and, as the deck was loaded up with timber, getting across to the bathroom in the morning was something of an adventure and my companion, who had the upper berth, had to [23/24] be made secure from rolling out by an eight-inch plank wedged along the side of his bunk. In the middle of the night this plank came down like a. guillotine half an inch from my head, and was not replaced.

We reached Norfolk Island all right four or five days later. It goes without saying that we were very hospitably received, but I must confess that the sight of the first representative of the Mission whom I met remains in my memory to this day. He had been whaling, so he was dressed in whaling clothes, he had not shaved for some days, and introduced himself at once as the Mission printer. Ultimately, when washed and shaved, he turned out to be a man with an unending stock of yarns and a very good friend to the newcomer, but as I saw him first he would have been a disgrace to the crew of the worst type of pirate ship that ever floated.

In those days it was the custom for one of the latest recruits to be put in charge of the kitchen, and I had not been long at Norfolk Island before it fell to my lot to make my debut in this, to me, quite novel sphere of activity. It was a wonderful custom, and a source of endless jests at the expense of new chums; if it had any other advantages, I do not know what they were. We certainly got unusual joints at times, and the attempts of those who tried to turn out fancy dishes were full of interest. It was summer time when I became Cook and, as the meat "turned" without any warning overnight, I became famous for strongly-flavoured curries. I did not seem to care for them very much myself! Among the duties of the Cook in those days was the distribution of the natives' food. Two or three times a week they were given meat for their chief meal. This was mainly salt-meat, kept in a large tub of brine into which the Cook plunged his arm and drew out huge chunks of salt-beef, which were weighed and handed over to the native Cooks. For some reason, [24/25] which my ignorance does not allow me to explain, the meat was often very slightly cured, and when one fished out a piece obviously unfit for human consumption one remarked "Puna veta," which means "It stinks," and it was bundled into a wheelbarrow and taken away for the pigs. I was unlucky in my stock of salted meat and there arose a legend that, not having yet learned the language properly, I was under the impression that "It stinks" was the Melanesian for "meat." At my first Christmas in Norfolk Island I was caricatured in a dative dance as smoking a pipe of gigantic proportions and feverishly digging up lumps of meat to a chorus of "Puna veta."

The motto of Norfolk Island seemed to be "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do," and in consequence no-one was allowed to have idle hands. After weeding the same paddock three times over and observing that nothing had ever been planted in it, one realised this fact. Another principle seemed to have been "Always give a job to the person least qualified to perform it." To set a town-bred clergyman to clean out the calf-yard certainly taught him that he did not know how to wield a pitchfork without plentifully besprinkling himself with its burden, and it may have been good for his soul.

In spite of all this, the life at Norfolk Island was very enjoyable, at least for the temporary inmate; it was never my fortune to be on the permanent staff, so I cannot speak of that. I fancy one of the greatest trials for the permanents was finding occupations for the temporaries and seeing that they did them. If the Englishman is never happy except when he is grumbling, how happy we must have been. The evenings were to me the jolliest times, one had done as much of one's work as could not be shirked, and had an hour or two for talk. I remember one night when two of us sat up telling ghost stories till we had to see each other home because we were afraid to go alone.

[26] I was only at Norfolk Island for some five months when I was put in charge of the islands of Guadalcanar and Savo in the Solomons. Our Southern Cross* [Footnote: * The first Mission ship of this name was a schooner of 70 tons, built in England in 1855. She carried Bishop Selwyn and Patteson as far as Guadalcanar on her maiden voyage, and was partly paid for by the profits of Miss Yonge's book, "The Daisy Chain." Seven successive ships of this name have followed her. This would be the fifth.] was just launched, so that I went to the Islands for the first time on the last voyage of the old Southern Cross. The present vessel is supposed to roll, but she was worse and I was helpless long before the old ship weighed anchor at the Cascades, where she lay wallowing in the heavy swell. The great event of the voyage was landing on Nukapu, the scene of Bishop Patteson's death. This can only be accomplished at high tide, and it was not till twenty years later that I landed there for the second time. My first clear recollection of the Islands is connected with Mala. At that time the Mala folk had the very worst reputation of all the islanders; they were probably so misguided that they failed to appreciate the blessings of civilisation which the coming of the white men introduced, and, unfortunately, they failed to distinguish one European from another; in consequence, the innocent often suffered for the guilty. Whatever excuse they may have had, their reputation was distinctly bad.

The missionary who lived among these reputed cannibals and undoubted head-hunters was a man with the body of a child, but, as we soon found out, the stamina and heart of a hero. I remember being impressed by his smallness and the fact that he was living alone here among the fiercest of the ill-famed Solomon Islanders. His house, of native materials, was very tiny, perched on high piles and, owing, I was told, to a recent blow, well out of the plumb. This, however, he seemed to take quite as a matter of course, and I did not dwell on the matter as it seemed to him as of [26/27] not the slightest importance or even interest--a thing that might happen to anybody's house in these parts.

Passing his house (I did not think it wise to try and climb up into it--the weight of anyone larger than its owner would be enough, I fancied, to complete its wreck), we looked up the village street. It was empty at the time as most of the people were down at the beach getting the stores ashore, but after a moment I saw two natives coming along. The sight roused the missionary to enthusiasm. "Come on," he said, "this is a most interesting man. He's the professional murderer."

I learnt afterwards that a professional murderer is the sort of thing that is to be found in every well-appointed village. A chief may have a disrespectful female among his many wives. She may refuse to work in his garden, or even go so far as to tell him exactly what she thinks of him. This is fatal to his self-respect and nothing but a "head" will restore it. He is not to be worried by looking for the head himself, but here the professional murderer comes in; he supplies the desired article at quite a reasonable price.

Perhaps some villager has taken a dislike to another, or he may have disregarded a Tabu, or got hold of a scrap of the peel of a banana which some-one else has eaten and been bewitched by that means. Anyhow, things will be more comfortable if someone is removed. The professional murderer is at hand, he will see that the affair is managed in accordance with due respect for native customs. A bargain is struck and the matter is settled. Sometimes the intended victim offers a better price to be left alive. Then, as far as I can ascertain, the professional pockets both fees and no one is a penny the worse. At that time I had not even heard of the profession, and though one felt it would be best to keep out of the gentleman's way as a matter of habit, still it sounded an interesting side of native life.

[28] As we drew nearer to the man, my host waxed more and more enthusiastic. "He's already killed fourteen people," he urged. He seemed to feel that here was some-one I must meet. He spoke rather as if the man were a personal friend; indeed, I am not at all sure that he was not, for before very long I found that the cannibal and head-hunter is generally a pleasant and courteous person out of business hours; he is always ready to make allowances for your strange ideas of what it is right and fitting for a man to do, and he expects you to treat him with the same consideration. At any rate, here was my murderer, and with him a youth whom I took to be his apprentice. They were neither of them prepossessing, and the expression of the senior practitioner was quite appropriate to his peculiar calling. Attired in a coating of ashes and dirt, and nothing else, with his head shaved clean except for a long tuft of hair in the middle of his scalp, the murderer himself carried a business-like rifle and his companion was armed with a long, wicked-looking spear.

We shook hands; my companion, no doubt, told them all about me, but in my ignorance of the language I could only guess at what was going on. After a time my two new-found friends went on their way and my host asked if I would like a bathe.

Being cautious by nature, I asked him where the river was and, hearing that it was "about twenty minutes' walk and all down hill," I rapidly worked out that it would involve at least a thirty minutes' walk, all up-hill, afterwards, and decided that I should keep cooler if I stayed where I was. He shewed me a large, empty house, shady and inviting, so I went in and sat down to rest while he went off on his own concerns, leaving me all alone. Very little time elapsed before the murderer and his friend looked in at the door and, seeing I was by myself, elected to keep me company. Conversation was impossible, for I could not speak a word of their language, but they seemed to have plenty [28/29] to say and I did my best to look friendly, wondering a little whether they were discussing me from a business point of view. I seemed to be marked in plain figures with a large Number 15, and it seemed to me that the apprentice was begging to be allowed just to try his hand on so particularly easy a victim. Before they seemed to have settled the matter my host returned He again greeted his friends with great cordiality and took me back to the ship convinced in my own mind that, whatever might be said against a missionary's life, it could not be called a dull one.

Guadalcanar, my destination and my future home, had a reputation nearly as bad as that of Mala. My predecessor had already told me what had befallen him, and what I gathered he expected would happen to me. I had a companion, but he was as new to the work as myself and, being a Priest, I was, nominally at any rate, in charge. Neither of us knew a word of the language of our people, though he had a smattering of Mota,* [Footnote: see next paragraph] the lingua franca of the Islands. Our headquarters were in a village formed by natives who had accepted Christianity, so we were among friends, though our numbers were very few.

[Footnote from above: * In the middle of the nineteenth century Bishop Patteson had to cope with forty different languages. The language of Mota spoken in the Banks Group, being the fullest and easiest of them, was chosen as the language of the Mission. It contains fewer of the peculiar consonantal sounds which abound in the majority of Island tongues, and are as great a difficulty to the native to whom they are foreign as they are to the European. The native Brotherhood advocated the use of Mota in the Solomons on the ground that "Everyone can pronounce it." English is now sometimes used as the language for schools and as the medium of communication between natives of different islands.]

Somewhere in the neighbourhood lived a notorious chief, Sulukavo by name; he was the leader of the anti-Christian party and was reputed to have a large number of adherents ready to obey his every word, so our life promised to be eventful.

[30] It is very difficult to say at this distance of time whether we were really in danger. After a considerable experience of the natives of these islands, I am inclined to say "Probably not to any serious extent."

It is certain that those who saw in the extension of the new teaching the prospect of a serious decrease in their power, influence or personal possessions were vehemently opposed to us and desired our removal by any possible means. They tried witchcraft, they tried slander, they tried intimidation. Certainly, our lives were threatened often enough, but were the threats ever really meant to be put into effect? Personally, now, I do not think so. I am of the opinion that something of this kind happened: The chiefs uttered threats about what they would do to us and all our followers. For the time being this was enough; but after a while the young braves began to taunt the older chiefs, so, to save their reputation, the older men worked themselves into a fury, declaring their determination to descend upon us and wipe us out at a fixed date and took care to publish their warning broadcast. But when the time came . . . the native is in some ways forgetful, words generally satisfy him and it takes a great deal to move him to action. Obviously they were very doubtful as to the result of any attempt against us. There was an indefinite something called "Government"--to most this would be a mere name, but the unknown is always dreaded. There was another very real reason for their reluctance to proceed to extremes. They had always tried to get rid of us by charms and witchcraft; in all their previous experience no-one had ever been able to withstand this treatment. Night after night their most expert professors had crept into our village headquarters and had done their worst, but the only result had been the sending of insulting messages, ridiculing their efforts and telling them of the undignified treatment any one of them might expect if he were caught.

[31] This was something quite beyond their experience. It made them think. "What must be the magical powers of these people," they wondered, "when our strongest charms and our most powerful charm-owners are of no avail against them?" The natives feared the "Government" because they hardly knew what it was, but they feared witchcraft far more because they knew only too well what it was and what it could do. It would have taken a very brave man to make any overt attack on people who seemed to have a secret protecting power greater than any they themselves possessed. I believe that this dread of our magic shielded us more than any visible protector, though the ministry of Angels soon becomes to the missionary a fundamental fact of his faith and of his knowledge.

But we new-comers had no experience of native ways to guide us. All the data we had to go upon was the reputation of the heathen, the fact that our own natives undoubtedly believed that we were all in very acute danger, that we were frequently threatened and that the date of our extermination was fixed. As for our own people, one had only to see what happened when a strange canoe appeared round the headland. Almost at once the village, which had been full of women going about their duties and children helping them or playing about, was emptied. In less than five minutes there was not a woman or child to be seen. They were taking no risks.

Those were the days when head-hunting had not died out or been forcibly suppressed. Learned scholars have expressed their regret at the extinction of this practice. It made the people virile; it gave them an interest in life. These gentlemen should study a book by Andrew Lang, now, I fear, out of print, called "In the Wrong Paradise."

Pictures have been painted, in print as well as in very vivid colours, of the head-hunters; but I do not [31/32] think that the artist is often so eager to describe the hunted, nor does he seem to be aware that the head-hunter was in no sense of the word a "sportsman," but simply a murderer who took the most careful precautions to avoid any risk to his own skin, let alone to his own head.

A peaceful village where the inhabitants, under missionary influence, had given up the use of arms, offered a tempting bait at all hours of the day. But, ordinarily speaking, except in the very early morning when a raiding party could hope to find everybody asleep and escape with their booty before the survivors woke, the head-hunter avoided a village; he contented himself with securing his trophy from some foolish woman or child who had strayed out of earshot of their natural protectors.

The casual observer used to cry shame on the native man because "he made his women-folk do all the hard work while he just loafed around and watched them." But a little observation would have shewn him or her (it was often "her") that the loafing man had a rifle close at hand. He was not a loafer only, but a sentry, and twenty years ago he was needed as such. Old customs die hard, and if the modern missionary still thinks the men lazy and the women down-trodden slaves, let him remember what native life was like less than a generation ago; or, better still, let him interfere with anything connected with the women and then ask someone who knows the language to tell him what the down-trodden women are saying about him.

The natives were certainly rather alarming. In those days, as not so long ago in Europe, everybody who was anybody went armed and no chief would dream of paying a courtesy visit unless accompanied by an armed retinue, the size of which varied with his importance. They certainly looked like savages, they spoke like savages, and among themselves, out of reach [32/33] of "Government" and the Missionary, they behaved like savages. Head-hunting, cannibalism, witchcraft and murder were realities of life, not only romantic things to read about.

It was not to be wondered at if we were sometimes frightened, though we had to pretend that we were not.

It is a test of the reality of a man's faith to have to tell his people time after time not to be afraid because they were in God's hands and in the care of His Holy Angels, when feeling all the time as scared as any of them.


Although we saw nothing, or very little, of our enemies, we were never left long without a reminder of their existence. The leader had come in state to call on me soon after my arrival. I had heard so much of him that when one of our people came to me, in no little excitement, to say that Sulukavo had come and wished to see me, I was every bit as keen to see what he was like as he, no doubt, was anxious to take my measure. I told the boy to bring him on to my verandah, where I prepared to receive him as impressively as possible.

I had pictured to myself the savage chief, the terror of the neighbourhood; the reality was very different from my expectations. First of all his retainers entered, some of whom looked as though they might "fit the bill," but at the end, in the place of dignity, came the man himself. Small, elderly, shifty-looking, reserved and silent, he looked like some dishonest lawyer out of Dickens, not in the least like the cannibal chief of fiction. Through an interpreter we exchanged formal courtesies; I gave him a present, which he received with an unmoved countenance and handed to a retainer without a word. I was to learn later that this was the height of Island good manners. The unmoved countenance expressed the idea "A man as great [33/34] and wealthy as you cannot feel the loss even of so magnificent a gift." The European may express his gratification on receiving a present because he knows no better, but between natives gifts are exchanged with very little fuss of any kind.

I must admit that I was disappointed with my first interview with this redoubtable warrior, but my interpreter told me that everything had gone off very well and that he thought that Sulukavo was pleased with his reception.

I saw him depart with a feeling that we should not have must trouble from a little man like that, but I was not making allowance for native ideas. He might look insignificant, it was true that he was generally hated, it was very likely true that he never slept in the same place two nights running for fear of being murdered in his sleep, but . . . he was powerful. We had not long to wait before he shewed himself in his true light. A message arrived, how or whence I know not, saying that we were to be removed. I was to be killed, my house and the church burnt down and any of my people who might be at hand were to be included in the general massacre. Our people had no doubt that this was, at any rate, a correct description of what the old man would like to do, and that he would do it if he could. The only question was: Could he? Did he dare? All we could do was to wait and see. I gathered that it was a possibility and that I should do well to be prepared.

Pride bad me pooh-pooh the idea, cowardice bad me be careful. Cowardice made me put a shot-gun near the head of my bed every night; pride made me get up early, before my house-boy brought in a cup of tea, and put the gun back in the corner of the room.

A certain amount of ill-health and the great heat kept me awake a good deal, and one night as I lay, turning from side to side, trying to find a cool corner [34/35] of the bed and get a rest for an hour or two, I heard in the distance a sound like the crowing of a cock. In a second or two it was answered by a similar sound close to my house. I lit a match and looked at my watch. It was just two in the morning. Surely no cock would ever crow at such a time? Just then I heard it again, closer still. I lay still, listening, the sweat pouring off me in the damp, still heat. My mind went back to Rider Haggard's "Alan Quartermain," which I had devoured as a boy at home and I remembered the attack of the Masai on the Mission Station. I remembered that the savages had signalled to each other by imitating the cry of a bird. There it was again. Surely no cocks ever crew at two in the morning. Surely no cocks crew quite like that.

It was not quite dark; there was a bit of a moon. I got up, took my shot-gun and went out on to the verandah, but I could see nothing but stretches of moonlight and black patches of shadow where half a hundred natives might be hidden. Everyone had told me that it was in the early hours of the morning that, "they always made their attack."

There was that "crow" again. I went down off the verandah, walked round and round the house, gun in hand, ready for the shout and rush that would come as soon as they were near enough. Again a crow, this time quite near. It would not be long now . . .

Another crow, this time right above my head. The rustle of sleepy wings. I looked up to see my fowls moving as their lord and master answered, half awake, the challenge of the bush fowls who, as I afterwards learned, regularly wake and crow at two, at four and at sunrise at six.

Not long after this I got my first real bout of fever when on tour. A day or two of feeling generally out of sorts was all I had known up till now of this fever [35/36] which I had heard so much about, and I was inclined to think that people made rather a fuss about what was not so very terrible. Very unpleasant whilst it lasted, but "nothing to make a song about." But I was soon to know better. The worst of tropical diseases, and tropical pests as well, is that they will not obey rules. Learned men tell you the symptoms of malaria and then the malaria utterly disregards the directions and attacks you in quite an unorthodox manner. It was so in my case.

I thought I knew all about malaria. First the cold stage, then the hot stage, then the perspiration drenching everything, and then recovery. But I was not cold, nor particularly hot, nor did I perspire more than usual. Only I could not eat anything, or drink anything either, without sickness. This went on for five or six weeks, varied with delirium in which every one of my natives would flee from me, with the exception of one, Harry Bourke (he had named himself after his employer in Queensland). Night after night he stayed with me; time after time, as I woke from some ghastly fever-dream and tossed the clothes off, he crept up and replaced them; he was always there when I asked for the drink that the continual thirst of fever made me call for so often, and as regularly vomit up again. The only thing that never occurred to him was to change my pillow-case drenched over and over again with the sour sweat of fever. How I loathed the smell. How I hated the monotonous beat of the surf on the reef just outside. Even when a party of my people came quietly in and sat down to watch me, I could take no interest in them, although I knew that, native fashion, they had come "to see me die." I did not mind; nothing whatever mattered, only that dull beat, beat of the surf and that sour, sickly smell. I could not even raise my voice to tell Harry to change the cases, only lie and wait.

[37] After a while, the natives decided that they must send for the Doctor. He was a Missionary Priest on an island sixty miles away, but they were not going to let me die if they could get him to me. He might or might not be at his head-quarters, but at any rate they would go and look for him. Needless to say, as soon as they had gone, the fever thought it might as well go too.

Harry once more was ready for the emergency. Chicken after chicken went into the pot to make me chicken broth as soon as he saw that I could swallow food. He nursed me devotedly and I have no hesitation in saying that he saved my life. As a result of his care, when the Doctor did arrive he found me beginning to sit up and take notice. Of course, when I asked him what had been the matter with me he told me that it was just malaria, and that had I taken quinine at the beginning I should not have been half so bad.

Moral: Whenever you are ill in the tropics take quinine.* [Footnote: * Modern Schools of Tropical Medicine advise quinine daily as a prophylactic, and not to wait till illness begins, before taking it.] It may not be fever, but most probably it is, and anyhow quinine cannot do you much harm. It may be, most probably will be, the very thing you need. Now, what I needed was a change. Accordingly, as soon as I was well enough to move, which was very soon, for malaria seems to leave you as suddenly as it attacks you, Harry got a bed rigged up in his boat, had me put on it and set out on his way home with me.

No sooner had we gone about five miles than it began to pour with rain. I was soon wet through, in spite of the awning that had been fixed over me, and the Doctor decided to put in for the night at an island.

We spent the night there, and in the morning, in spite of or because of the rain-bath in the day, I felt [37/38] so much better that I declared that I was well enough to go on, as Easter was close at hand and I wanted to be home.

I am afraid he thought me very ungrateful, and I fear I was ungracious in refusing to stay with him, but it seemed absurd to go sick when I knew that I was wanted by my people.

I suppose he thought that the best way to teach me common sense was to let me have my wilful way; he knew enough about fever to be certain that it could not do me any real harm. So, the next morning he set off home while my faithful Harry got a canoe and went to fetch my boat to bring me back, while I stayed in a Mission Village till he should return.

It was Holy Week. On Good Friday I lay in bed, for I was not up to much, and a woman whose house was a few yards away died.

For the first time in my life I heard a heathen "lament" for the dead. As the wailing rose and fell, it conveyed such a sense of utter despair that one realised in a wonderful way what the Death of our Lord, on that Friday so many years ago, has saved us from. No one could say that the task of bringing the Christian message of Hope was not worth while who had lain, weak and ill, listening to that hopeless wailing. From time to time the voice of the daughter rose above the rest as she called upon "Mother, mother" to return; it was the most impressive Good Friday address I ever heard. That evening my boat arrived and on Easter Eve I was home again and was able to give my people their Easter Communion, with the help of a native Deacon.

I was very glad that I had managed to get back, for a few days later the wife of my Deacon died. Isabella was a wonderful woman. Several young girls had taken refuge in the village from what heathendom meant to them and she had been a mother to them all. [38/39] Her husband, Hugo Goravaka,* [Footnote: *Hugo had been one of the pioneers of the Church on Guadalcanar, see page 61.] was prostrate with the shock. They had been, for Melanesians, an unusually devoted couple, and for a time he was quite at a loss without her. As a consequence, I had to take the funeral, which resulted in a relapse and another attack of fever, from which I did not recover till I had had a change and rest.

After my return I happened to be on board one of Messrs. Burns Philp's steamers, and, in the course of conversation, the Captain said: "By the way, who was that missionary of yours the Roman missionaries told me about--the fellow who died on Savo a month or two ago?" He was quite surprised when I replied "Oh, that was me." (1908).

Not many months after we had landed, my companion and myself divided forces. I remained at headquarters and he established himself at a village about fifteen miles off. There he had his adventures. Continual threats of a raid kept him and his people always on qui vive. These people are deeply tainted with fatalism and soon get tired of keeping watch night after night, so it devolved on my companion to do so, as the man responsible for them all, and it was not very long before his body broke down under the strain and he came back ill, to be nursed by me. I had no medical training whatever, and a very sensible Doctor at home had said to me, when I asked him to recommend a useful medical book to take with me, "I would not dream of doing so; you would only read up all the symptoms, decide you had every disease, and either go mad in consequence or kill yourself by trying to treat them yourself; but what I will give you is the best book on Nursing that I know." I have often blessed that man's memory. The innumerable pains common to dwellers in the Tropics continually suggest the [39/40] approach of some ghastly and incurable disease, and if one has no book in which to discover their import, one does without, and suddenly finds that they have disappeared.

So, by the light of my Nursing Book, I did my best for my first white patient and, in spite of or thanks to my complete ignorance of medical science, he recovered sufficiently to go home and is to this day well and active in a better climate.

Not very long after I lost my first helper, another was forthcoming and this time, being a Priest, he was of the greatest value to me. I am afraid he had rather a bad time at first, for no-one is so severe a critic as he who has himself just emerged from the status of a "new chum."

On one occasion, as I was walking towards my house, I was amazed to hear the water splashing out of my tank. We had only one between the two of us, and not a very large one at that, so that water was a very valuable thing.

"What on earth is the fellow at," I wondered; and in most indignant tones I called out: "What are you doing with the tank?"

A voice, combining injured innocence with misery, replied: "It's not me, it's an earthquake." On the soft sand I had felt nothing, but the house on its high and rather unsubstantial piles was rocking under my unlucky companion and spilling our precious water. It was his first experience of an earthquake--an experience that no-one who has been through it will ever forget. However slight the shock may be, there is a sense of utter helplessness in the face of an uncontrollable force that nothing but an earthquake can produce. They are comparatively frequent in the Islands, but one can never get used to them.

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