Project Canterbury

In the Solomon Islands.

From Mission Life, London, 1871, pages 165-174, 208-219.

THE Melanesian party at Norfolk Island last summer numbered 185, a larger party than we have ever had before. In managing and teaching this large number our elder scholars gave great help. It was subdivided into ten cookships (for every head of a department is a kaki with our lads), and the boys in each cookship were taught to look to their cook for guidance and orders. After the general wash, each cook was responsible for the proper distribution of his boys' clothes; and when we all turned out to work, each cook saw that his party went to the right place, and put the new boys into the right way. In school, of course, a different classification was necessary; and we tried to teach our elder scholars the art of teaching, for none are so ludicrously intolerant of ignorance and impatient of dulness as one but just emerging from those shades himself.

The large proportion of women and young girls among our Melanesian party (from the Bank's Islands and Ysabel in the Solomon Group) is another sign of progress, and an augury of the stability of our work; for the islanders can scarcely give any greater proof of their confidence in us than by entrusting their sisters and daughters to our care; and what greater security, humanly speaking, can there be for he steady perseverance of a convert in the right way than the fellowship of a good wife? The progress made in this department is chiefly owing to the motherly care and wise superintendence of the only lady of our little society, whose short stay among us has already been so beneficial in this and many other respects.

On the Sunday before Christmas the Rev. Joseph Atkin and myself were ordained priests. The impressive service was held in the Pitcairn Settlement church, in order that our Pitcairn friends might take part therein. The Bishop was assisted by the Rev. G. H. Nobbs (chaplain of the Pitcairn community) and Rev. R. H. Codrington, of our Mission, who preached the sermon.

Christmas, as usual, was a time of great happiness with us. Our chapel was decorated with palms and other greenery; over the altar were floral devices, and upon it bouquets of white lilies, whose fragrance gratified the bodily sense, while their magnificent simplicity and spotless purity were eloquent of holy teaching.

In February of the new year some of the minor cares and anxieties inseparable from works of this kind fell to my lot. Gaohi, one of my Florida boys, a sickly, unpromising lad, was accidentally struck in the forehead by a hoe-handle when out at work. His head immediately swelled to a great size, and his eyes were completely closed. After [165/166] trying various remedies in vain, and feeling convinced there was water, or blood, or matter, under the distended skin, with the Bishop's approval I lanced his forehead, and the blood streamed forth mixed with water. A boy standing by nearly fainted at the sight. Gaohi soon did so completely; but on being restored felt much relieved. Next day, however, the swelling returned, his head looking like an inflated bladder, and so tender that the poor boy could not lie down, while to sit up was equally painful from the feeling of immense weight which he complained of in his head. I lanced it again, and with complete success. The swelling was now confined to the eyes, which protruded terribly.

The next day being Saturday, a whole holiday, when St. Barnabas is deserted, I devoted it to my patient, and, to my great joy, on Sunday he opened his eyes, and in a day or two--with the exception of a sore throat, which we soon cured with the usual remedies--was apparently quite well. Then he complained of his stomach, and here we were baffled. For a fortnight he grew neither better nor worse, always complaining of this new pain, which nothing would soothe. All food seemed to cause him great agony. At first I thought his refusal of food was obstinacy on his part, for these poor heathen people will sometimes actually starve themselves to death from sheer ill-humoured perversity. At length, however, I was undeceived, and felt grieved that I had been harsh with him. Two or three times a day, and at night again, he would crave to be washed all over, which gave him great relief, and soon he was never easy unless a bucket of water and the bath were constantly at hand.

We had had nearly a month of hot, damp weather, which depressed us all more or less, but my poor patient most of all. On Friday night, February 4, he moaned incessantly all night long, and it rent my heart to be able to give him no relief. Saturday the Bishop thought him better; but all that night again he never ceased moaning; sometimes, indeed, he cried out most bitterly.

On Sunday morning he was evidently much worse. Having to go over to the Pitcairn Settlement to help Mr. Nobbs, it being Communion Sunday, I laid Gaohi on my bed and left him in charge of my adopted son, Charles Sapimbuana, with injunctions to wash him (he had been washed twice already since daybreak), for that was still his cry, and to keep the Bishop informed of his state. I went off in the pouring rain, feeling very anxious about my little patient, who since the day before had become so sweet-tempered and easily pleased that the change greatly surprised us. After a dull wet day at the settlement I returned at dusk, and was met at the gate by Charles, who held up his hand and said: "Don't go quickly into your room!" The look upon his face and the tone of his words supplemented their meaning. I went quickly to my room and found my poor little boy lying on the bed, quite quiet, and at rest. The light of life had not yet died out of his eyes which [166/167] seemed to meet mine with a look of peace and forgiveness! for I reproached myself with having been too harsh with him. After evening prayer I brought in a few of the boys to take a last look at their companion. The light had faded now from his eyes. Death had taken possession of all that he could claim; and next day we laid his portion in its place.

We put carefully away his clothes and little property in the shape of a jew's harp, a knife, and a few beads, together with the bottle he had drunk out of, for his friends at Florida; and were soon distracted from our loss by anxieties of far greater and more general magnitude and importance.

On Sexagesima Sunday, in the afternoon the Bishop invited me to accompany him in a walk over to the Cascades, on the other side of the island, to visit Adeline Christian, who was dying of consumption.

During the walk the Bishop complained of not feeling quite well, but appeared in his usual spirits. We found Adeline very weak; but she lingered on till Saturday, April 2nd, when she breathed her last.

On Monday and Tuesday the Bishop still complained, and on Wednesday was unable to rise from his bed owing to violent internal inflammation. He became rapidly worse, and on Friday we became alarmed, his life appearing to hang in the balance. Mr. Nobbs most kindly came and slept at St. Barnabas (the name of our Mission station) and took the Bishop's case in hand. After many restless nights he was at last reported to be asleep, and then we felt that the crisis had arrived. He awoke comparatively free from pain, but completely prostrated both in mind and body, a state in which he remained with but slight variation for seven weeks. Mr. Nobbs was constant in his attention; and the Auckland medical men, on hearing a detailed account of the treatment he employed, declared that it was most wise and scientific, and that, humanly speaking, he had been the means of saving the Bishop's life.

It was only after an interval of more than seven weeks that the Bishop was able to come into chapel and sit out our daily services.

On Easter Sunday he over-fatigued himself. In the morning he baptized Elizabeth, the first-born of Henry Jagalana, who is now going on steadily and well, besides two adults; and in the evening confirmed nine Melanesians, including a young woman named Charlotte, after the author of the "Heir of Redclyffe," who has been a great friend to this Mission, and Dudley Lankona, the first-fruits of Florida.

Next day the "Southern Cross" arrived to take us down to the islands. But the Bishop was quite unfit to go on a voyage, and was persuaded to go to Auckland in the vessel and obtain medical advice; so our voyage was postponed for a time. The Rev. C. Bice and Mulegona, who had been about the Bishop during his illness, went with him. Four boys of equal height, and sure-footed, carried the Bishop down to the [167/168] pier on a stretcher (a painful sight, though more so of coarse in appearance than reality), and so with anxious hearts we bid him farewell.

All this time poor old Mahi had been slowly sinking from consumption. The Bishop had parted with him for over in this world, and Mahi said he was quite prepared to die, for, as he said, "He knows: we don't know." On Low Sunday he received his first Communion, sitting in a chair. His sister Ong-o, now the last of the family, was very attentive to him, as were Capel Oka and Martin Hundulu, also from Isabel Island. Alfred Mahi died quite quietly on Saturday, May 21st, so quietly that we thought at first that it was the quietness of sleep.

The building of the new church in the Pitcairn Settlement was now nearly finished, and great credit it does to its builders. We used often to stroll down to the settlement and watch the progress of the work, and were as often invited by hospitable Mr. Nobbs to take a cup of tea with him. He would sometimes refer to his past life, so full of adventure and romance. I recollect one evening he told us that he had been introduced to Hardy--Nelson's Hardy--by his (Mr. N.'s) commander, Lord Dundonald, at Valparaiso. What a contrast between the noise and battle of his youth and the peace and retirement of his old age!

We soon began to expect the "Southern Cross" again; for she was not in any case to delay in Auckland. If the Bishop was unable to go he would send his orders and instructions and would not detain the vessel. At the beginning of May we had the severest weather which we have experienced since our stay on the island, and as the "Southern Cross" did not make her appearance we were inclined to adopt the gloomy view propounded by our carpenter, that she was caught in that gale and had to put back; which turned out to be the case.

At last, on May 80th, she came in, and Mr. Bice put the following slip from the Auckland New Zealand Herald into my hands:


"The arrival in harbour last evening of the Melanesian Mission schooner 'Southern Cross' was quite unexpected.

"Misfortunes never come single, and it would really seem as if the Mission was doomed, at present, to loss and disaster. The schooner left our harbour on the morning of the 2nd inst. with a leading wind, with the intention of proceeding to Norfolk Island, and thence, picking up her living freight, to the New Hebrides. Fair wind prevailed along the New Zealand coast until Thursday, 4th inst., when the wind from S.E. began to veer to N.E., rapidly increasing. During the day the wind increased to s whole gale with a heavy cross sea; a couple of reefs were taken in [169/170] the vessel's foretopsail, she running at the rate of eight or ten knots. At 8 p.m. a fearful sea running, and the ship moving fast through the water, a heavy sea struck her and buried her completely; as soon as she had staggered clear of the water it was discovered that the port boat had been carried away with davits and portion of bulwarks. At 4 P.M. vessel hove-to unable to run any longer. At 7, in a furious squall the mainsail was blown out of the gaskets and split into ribbons. At 8, the forestay carried away, and the foremast nearly went by the board. Wind still increasing and sea running mountains high. With great difficulty the foremast was secured with runners. The squalls were fearful, the vessel being covered with a sheet of foam; and the crew blinded with the driving spray. Thunder and lightning accompanied the storm, which was now blowing a perfect hurricane. The wind was now N.E., and at 10 P.M. a tremendous sea struck her, sending the starboard boat in-board with davits and rail, and carrying with it companion, deck tank, spare spars, oars, &c., and, in fact, making a clean sweep of the decks. The entire ship's company had a very narrow escape. One of the crew was, in fact, washed overboard, but fortunately hung on to a rope's-end, and was carried in-board by the backwash. The vessel was now completely crippled. All hands were continually on deck, and the barometer stood at 28.96 at midnight. At 1 p.m. on Friday, wind N. and dangerous cross sea running, Captain Jacob determined to bear up for Auckland as soon as possible. At 4 p.m. the gale again piped up and the barometer sank to 28.65 the minimum during the gale. The N. Cape of New Zealand was made on Sunday morning. The 'Southern Cross' was within 180 miles of Norfolk Island when she lost her first boat. ... The crew behaved admirably, having been for three days without a regular meal or watch below."

The Bishop presented Captain Jacob with a handsome Bible and each of the crew with £2 10s. Thanksgivings were offered in all the Auckland churches for the preservation of the vessel and all hands.

The cost of repairing the vessel has been a little over £1,000.

We learnt also that the Bishop was seriously ill; but that to reduce the internal inflammation and swelling was but a matter of time; so that after having left the boys at their respective homes and the Rev. J. Atkin and myself in the Solomon Islands, the vessel was to return to New Zealand to enable the Bishop to come down on the second trip and pick us up. This plan enabled us at the same time to make a longer stay on the Northern Islands than has been before attempted.

We left Norfolk Island, on June 1st. The Bishop's absence of course we all deeply felt in every way. We had about fifty Melanesians on board, some going home for a holiday, others for good; their presence in our schools being voted a hindrance rather than a help. Our European party consisted of Rev. John Palmer, who (while the vessel went north to the [170/171] Solomon Islands) was to spend a month at Mota with Rev. George Sarawia, Rev. J. Atkin, and myself.

I had only three Florida boys with me--Dudley, Richard, and a little unbaptized boy named Ngelesi. My son Charles remained in Norfolk Island to help Mr. Codrington in the management of nine last year's novices, who expressed a wish to stay in Norfolk Island during the winter and go on with their studies. I am happy to say that there are some very clever, good, boys among them. One of them is already supported by the parishioners of St. George's, Bloomsbury, London. Who among your readers will follow so good an example? Ten pounds a-year is the sum required for the support of a boy or girl, concerning whose progress reports are sent to his or her supporters, and when sufficiently advanced, the protégé writes letters (to which translations are attached) which are naturally interesting, being the free expression of the native mind. The Bishop will gladly answer inquiries on the subject; though he has not time to do so at any length.

But to our voyage. Our live stock included three calves for S. Cristoval, a cat and a she goat for Florida.

We reached Leper's Island (Northern New Hebrides) on June 12th. Here we landed seven lads, none of whom we should care to take away again. In the afternoon we crossed over to Aurora, and landed four boys of the same kind. Here we saw a schooner anchored close in-shore, and the natives told us that she had taken away five of their people.

Next day we reached Mota, anxious to hear how George Sarawia had been getting on in his responsible position as head of a Christian community in a heathen island. Our anxiety was soon at an end. George was quite well. Everything was in order. The house beautifully clean, and unmistakable evidence everywhere of a systematic, orderly, life. George told us he had about forty pupils in his school. His assistants, Chaves Wolig and his wife, and Benjamin Worsal and his wife, were also well, and looked clean and tidy. Little Simon Sarawia, George's son and heir, looked sickly, but was, so his mother Sarah said, better than he had been. The news was, that three strange vessels had been visiting the neighbouring islands; and that three men from Ticopia, an island some 200 miles to the north-west, had paid them a visit.

We landed Mr. Palmer, with nine or ten lads, and then stood over to Santa Maria, where we put on shore one little Christian, Rota Negneg, with prayers that he might be kept from evil.

At mid-day we left for the Solomon Islands, and reached Contrariété on the 18th. Here we landed two boys, and got over to S. Cristoval the same day, where we landed the calves. Stephen Jaroniara, Samuel Raumaran, and Benjamin Jaro also went on shore. Next day we were at the neighbouring island of S. Fugi, where we found a white man, left by a trader to make cocoa-nut oil, &c. He seemed a very respectable man [171/172] and gave the universal testimony concerning the native people: "Behave well to them, and they will behave well to you." He had already four tons of prepared cocoa-nuts, and five tons of biche-de-mer--to be devoured eventually by epicurean Chinamen with their birds'-nest soup.

We now ran for Florida, with a whistling wind and rushing sea sweeping us up the straits between the two noble islands of Malanta on the east and Guadalcanar on the west. At the head of these straits--called Indispensable, and at that point about forty miles wide--is Florida, off which we found ourselves on Monday, June 20th. God save the Queen!

Having landed the contents of the boat (including a small harmonium), I bid farewell to Mr. Atkin and my Mota friends. The vessel made a few tacks and passed out of sight, en route for S. Cristoval, where she would leave Mr. Atkin, and then go on to Norfolk Island, calling for Mr. Palmer at Mota, and finally proceed to New Zealand, a distance of about 1,900 miles.

I was glad to find that Sumlessi had built the house I had previously ordered. The only drawback about it was that I could not get into it; for it was raised on piles seven feet from the ground, and I saw no staircase other than a steep and slippery tree-stem. However, we soon built a better one, and I entered my dwelling. It was twenty feet long, by eight wide, and about ten high under the ridge pole, the roof sloping to within a foot of the floor. The ends were neatly walled with split palm-stems, and the floor, of the same material, was covered with what looked at first sight like a very coarse floor-cloth, but which was made of bamboos beaten flat and interwoven. It was clean and cool. The doorway, which was about three feet high, and a foot and a half wide, just admitted the small harmonium.

I was soon surrounded by old friends, and was glad to hear from them what I had been careful to learn from Manoga in the boat, that all was well on shore, and no fighting.

My first duty was to pay for the house, which I did with two fourshilling hatchets, pipes, tobacco, beads, and calico. My next was to make over to Lai Gaohi's property. There was no great lamentation for the boy (being Malanta by birth), and the only remark was the very philosophic one: "They die all the world over!"

The third day after my arrival, I suddenly found my house tape, and a festoon of priceless native money hung across the path, which remained there exposed to sun and dew for many weeks. This was Takua's doing, lest I should be troubled by a crowd; lest, also, I should be weak enough to give away to plebeian visitors things which he considered his by right of tribute.

The appearance of Florida differs from that of any other island we visit. Its grassy treeless slopes and tufts of vegetation on the hill tops remind one rather of Norfolk Island. There is scarcely a level spot on the [172/173] island. The villages inland are all perched on the top of rocky hills, and the gardens cover their precipitous sides. The soil is wretched and scanty, and food is scarce. Every one has to work very hard to support life. The men do the more muscular work and the women the weeding, burning, and carrying. The women carry on their heads. I used often to see a long file of women returning home at dusk, each with a big basket of yams, and above that a large bundle of firewood balanced on her head, while on each shoulder were three or four native water-pots, namely, bamboos, fall of water, and hanging from one hand some polished cocoa-nut shells, also filled with water. I was laughed at for expressing pity for the poor creatures, who take it as a matter of course, having been accustomed to it from childhood.

Three stormy brothers rule this weather-side of the island, with which we chiefly have to do--Takua, Sauvai, and Ndikea. Takua and Sauvui live at Mboli, within a short distance of each other; Ndikea has lately succeeded to the chiefdom of Rave, where we will pay him a visit presently. All along the beach, going south from my house, there are populous villages, each with its petty chief, all paying allegiance to Takua. Takua has a little domestic village of his own, on a small coral promontory. He has six wives, and each wife has her own house, which is tapu to all the others, and the six houses, with a small coral courtyard seaward, with a tree in the middle, he has surrounded with a low coral wall, on the broad top of which he and I often sat together.

A more barren place is not to be found. But he is a large landed proprietor, and has a handsome country mansion with extensive grounds and gardens farther along the beach to the north, where Takua and I, with his six wives and numerous progeny, used to go and picnic.

As I hope to interest the reader in the future history of this island and its people, I present a likeness of these three potentates. Takua is of middle height, stout, and heavily built; his eyes are very close together, his cheekbones high, brows prominent, and forehead receding. With the exception of a little imperial, and a tuft on the top of his head, he is clean shaven. His temper is sullen and morose, but as far as I can judge, not treacherous. Like all his people he is rapacious. He behaved towards me as a gentleman from first to last of my visit, gave me much sensible advice, and was exceedingly anxious that I should look fat and well when the vessel came back. Never awkward, ever at his ease, polite, and singularly apt in entering into one's thoughts and objects of interest, and turning the conversation in that direction, he is (in common with many other heathen chiefs), a noble by nature as well as by position.

Sauvui, the second brother, is quick and impulsive, insolent, rough, and noisy; as rapacious as a shark, as hysterical as a woman, as merciless as Shylock, and, at times, as polite as a dancing master.

[174] Ndikea, in the first vigour of manhood, is as straight as an arrow, agile, with a fine open countenance, but with a frequent frown upon his brow. His powdered hair is long, and is worn like that of a German professor, combed back off his forehead and falling behind. His eye, quite unlike the dull smear which usually represents that feature in these people, is clear hazel with depth in it. It is large, full, and bright. His face is clean shaven, save two little tufts of hair, one at each corner of his mouth, which are called "crumbs." He is a great warrior, and when he pleases, a perfect gentleman.

Among the malagai, or commons, there is the same variety of feature and character as among Europeans, with apparently almost as great a mixture of blood. Their difference in colour is surprisingly great, some being quite light yellow, others jet black. Some faces have the protruding jaw and thick lips (though there are very few indeed). Others have features as refined as those are coarse. There are the grave, the gay, the silent, the talkative, the licentious, the temperate, the good housewife, and the professional Rembi.

[208] THERE are six tribes among this group of islanders, and inter marriage of members of the same tribe is forbidden, death being the penalty. Descent is regulated by the mother, not by the father.

Marriages are contracted here as they are all the world over, save that the money part of the transaction is not studiously kept in the background as in civilised communities, and that the dowry consists of pigs and strings of beads, instead of dollars, pounds, or consols.

The betrothal often takes place at a very early age, but the young people are supposed to ignore each other's existence until they come together for good--or, as it too often happens, for evil.

As in all heathen countries, woman is the slave aid plaything, not the friend and companion, of man. Polygamy of course exists, and is, under existing circumstances, a necessary evil. Suddenly to suppress it, were this possible, would be most unwise. Every woman in a heathen island must have a protector. There is no such thing as a single woman, in our sense. If a woman has no protector, she becomes the common prey! If Takua were to turn adrift five of his wives to-day, they would be rembi. Children are few, and infanticide frightfully common. The child is often named before birth, there being of course no distinction between names of men and women. Some passing event, or occupation [208/209] of the parents, suggests the child's name. Every child is spoilt, and becomes independent at a very early age. Other peculiarities and characteristics of these people, among whom until now no white man has aver lived, will appear in the course of the brief account which I shall now give of my stay at Mboli.

For the first few days, my companion, with Manoga, Togokale, Rove Ndangivulu, and Sulupia, old scholars, who for one reason or other have fallen out of our school, assembled regularly for prayers in my house. This, however, was too good to last. Having no means of marking time, and living at some distance from one another, we had to give it up. Sauvai forbade Dudley and Richard to come, and sent them off to work from dawn to dusk.

But our Sundays never failed. My little house nestles close under the wing of the large kiala, or canoe-house (whose dimensions are, length, 180 feet; height and breadth, 42 feet.) This was our cathedral. We took the harmonium into it for the day, and placed two small benches near it, where the congregation sat in all the perspiring glory of clothes. I, in my surplice, made of the harmonium both reading and prayer desk, and organ. As we represented the four parts, we were able to chant the Psalms (in Mota) and sing our hymns. The rest of the service I read, in the vulgar tongue, into which it had been translated during the summer at Norfolk Island by Dudley and my son Charles. The heathen audience, which sat, or squatted, or stood, or lounged about among the canoes, averaged between two and three hundred. The largest attendance we had was 378. The conducting a solemn service in the presence of such a concourse, over whom I could exercise only a moral control, was of course an experiment; but it was successful. Only one man ever behaved unseemly, and that was Saavai, who strolled jauntily into the building one Sunday morning after service had commenced, and said, with a comprehensive leer on the assembly, and an indication of myself with his thumb, "`Heavenly Father' again, eh?" (I was telling the people that God was our Father); and then stood up straight before me, leaning against the harmonium, and continued to distract the attention of the people until I told him to hold his tongue, and go and sit down, which he did.

The strange-looking congregation, smoking and chewing betel-nut the while, listened with great attention to my harangues. Sometimes they seemed to feel rather uncomfortable at being thus talked at; and some one, anxious to get rid of his own feeling of responsibility, would urge his neighbours, saying, "Speak to the chief! speak to the chief!" to which they very naturally answered, "What shall we say?" But it was undoubtedly a remarkable sight, such an assembly of wild, lawless people, sitting quietly and orderly throughout a performance of which much (especially, perhaps, my harangues) was unintelligible to them.

[210] The Bishop had told me not to remain always in one district, lest the people should imagine they had a monopoly of me, and other districts should grow jealous. He also warned me against allowing myself to become the property of any one chief, after the fashion of the Maori chief in old days with his tame Pakeha.

On a former stay Sanvai took possession of me, and it was in order to escape from him that I had this house built; but now I was in danger of falling into the hands of Takua, near whose village it stood.

An opportunity for a trip soon presented itself. On Saturday, July 2nd, arrived from Mbelaga (Gaeta) my old scholar, Porotuana, with no less than forty of his people, including seventeen women, and I cannot say how many babies.

Great was the clamour in the kiala, and loud the calls upon my name to come and show myself: a part of my duty which I always felt inclined to shirk.

I appeared, smiling graciously, and was duly inspected, being asked to turn round now and then that the inspection might be more general. To some my personal appearance appeared to afford amusement, to others satisfaction, while to the babies I must have seemed an ogre, or whatever represents that species at Mbelaga, for they yelled and kicked whenever I went near them. I then performed upon the German concertina, which so astonished the babies that they forgot to go on crying.

Upon a subsequent occasion I had the honour of performing in the presence of a gentleman who lives near the "Curacoa's" anchorage, and who declared that it was quite equal to the full band of that vessel.

I determined to carry out the Bishop's wishes by returning with Porotuana. He said that I must get Takua's leave, otherwise he dare not take me. So on Sunday evening, after service, I went and sat with T. on the top of his coral wall. He opened the conversation by asking, "What did the Mbelaga say to you?" "They want me to go back with them, and I'm going," I said. "Don't go," he replied; "they 're bad: they fight-fight, and they charm-charm, and there are many, many evil spirits, and they'll pick up some crumbs of your food; and charm you with them."

But I would not yield, so he was obliged to give me the best advice he could under the circumstances, and he spoke like a father. "Be sure," he said, "you never eat without Porotuana or Halevitu (special calmmaker and reporter he sent with me) is near to pick up the crumbs," adding one or two minor injunctions more adapted to the privacy and. familiarity of the nursery than the publicity of these pages. The reader probably is aware that the charmer charms his victim by means of a crumb of his food, or anything which has been in close relation to him, such as a hair, or a leaf which he has used to wipe the perspiration from his [210/22] body, &c. &c. "And come back the third day; we shall all go to meet you at Sara" (the Mboli side of Scudamore Strait).

Having put up a little quinine, chocolate, and biscuit, I started on Tuesday. Old Kalevitu, a regular heathen prophet, had made a calm, and began to take care of me as well as the weather; but I fear I was the more unmanageable of the two.

When we had walked to Sara the seventeen ladies were transported to the other side of the Strait, and the canoe returned for us. Fortunately, the forty were not all going back that day. We were only fourteen in the canoe (I must describe these beautiful works of art when I get an opportunity), eight paddlers, bailer, &c., and two great potentates sitting amidships under a white umbrella: Kikoa, the chief of Mbelaga (a little man with a bald head), and myself. They were as careful to keep me dry as if I had been a bag of sugar.

The view as we opened up the Strait was lovely. The sea was deep deep blue shot with golden sunlight. The sky was deep deep blue flecked with fleecy clouds and a-blaze with the all-pervading glory of the dazzling sun. Down to the glittering blue fell in ample folds the island's robe' of green, with here and there the pure white sand peeping out like a pretty coy little foot. The sun himself of course we dare not look at; but the heat and light were so intense that it seemed as if he had become molten and was pouring forth his very essence in a mighty flood of light and quivering heat.

We reached Mbelaga about noon, and went into a small boat-house near the beach which was crammed to suffocation. A small raised couch was pointed out to me, of which I took possession, and set Porotuana to boil the kettle while I talked to the people. Kalevitu gave a. running commentary on my remarks, which latter simply amounted to telling my hearers that I was not a Mboli man, but had come to see them, my Mbelaga friends, lest they should be jealous.

When the kettle was ready, I made chocolate and ate biscuit. No sooner did I take the first bite at the latter than old Kalevitu rose and approached, bearing a small basket. With the indefatigable perseverance of an old hen he picked up every charmable crumb (and biscuits are a crumby food), putting them into his portable crop, and when the meal was over, it being low water, he threw them into the sea.

We were to have climbed up to the villages on the hilltops next day, but it turned out wet, so I chose some good-looking boys, two of whom, Manoga (II.) and Riroto, Kikoa's son, were booked for Norfolk Island on the spot. A young girl was after much negotiation promised as a passenger: a plainer young person it would be difficult to find, but she looked strong, good-humoured and healthy, and, above all, she was a girl, the first we have ever been entrusted with from Florida I made friends with a nice old man, named Lima, who was busily making [211/212] large baskets, of which I ordered a few to be delivered on board the vessel. As the day waned my spirits waned also, and I began to notice the filth and dirt of the kiala and the loathsome forms of sickness and disease with which these people are afflicted. At Mboli such cases are very rare.

In the evening I went to a dance at Kikoa's big kiala (nearly as big as the Mboli one). It was called the Silara, and was performed sitting, by all the women, young men, and boys in the neighbourhood. The night was so calm that I lighted a candle and stuck it in the ground in the middle of the semicircle, lighting up all their faces. They sang, and clapped hands, and grunted, and rattled their castanets, swaying themselves in exact time from side to side all the time.

Next day was fine, so we climbed. At last we came to Tloa, Kikoa's village, and I exclaimed, as I had occasion to do a hundred times in my rambles--"Well, this is one of the most curious places I ever saw!" The scanty soil, which has hard work to cling to the steep hill-sides, gives up the attempt on the top and leaves a flat surface of rock, terraced here and there, the terraces serving as steps up to the houses, which are perched about with the irregularity and airiness of birds' nests. I counted over twenty in this village. Porotnana and I climbed to the top of the highest hill but one in the island, where we had a general view of its straits and wave-like succession of hills, its amazing crookedneeses, its bare grass, and its scanty tree-clumps. "Well!" There is nothing like it in any other island we visit. The fine view was bounded by the distant mountains (8,000 feet) of Guadalcanar on one horizon, and those of Malanta on the other. The air was delightfully bracing, and I drank it in as I could have done a draught of pare water.

Having seen all that was to be seen, Porotuana and I made a rapid descent into the valley and emerged on another razor-back which brought us to P.'s village. Here I had to sit for a very long time pillowed upon the cleanest and tamest of pigs, in the dirtiest of houses, taking an involuntary Turkish bath. My ears were rent with the discordant cries of the female portion of the community. One of them I found was the mother of Mbila, one of the boys now at Norfolk Island, who performed a regular tang-i. "Mbu-la-a! Mbu-mbu-mbulaa." At last we went down to the beach again, and found a fire lighted almost under my conch and every exit for the smoke closed.

My walking-ground on the beach was very limited, for there was a Tambu, or tapu, or either side of the boat-house, and only one or two men were allowed to go there.

On Friday we were to return. But to return empty would have been to stain the escutcheon of Mbelaga for ever, and what would have been worse, put Takua out of temper, for he expected some tribute from those who had had the use of his white man for three days.

The noise of the pestle smashing yams for the Tutu we were to take [212/213] back, was incessant. In the midst of this profusion of food I was quite hungry, for the hospitality of my friends, was, I soon found, rather ostentatious, and they preferred bewildering me on public occasions with a mountain of cocoa-nuts and hundredweights of mash, to supplying me regularly with a daily meal. Wait, wait, wait, till the broiling sun would almost have done the cooking himself; wait, wait, wait, till I was tired out before the day's work began. Porotuana had to be everywhere simultaneously.

At last we started. The food, including a live pig, was to go by water. We were to walk along the beach to the Scudamore Strait. Again Kalevitu had made a calm. The sea was like molten glass, and everything seemed at white heat. The glittering whiteness of the coral and the heat from the red rocky cliffs under which we walked, soon completely dazed and dazzled me, and I stumbled along almost mechanically.

The monotony of our walk was relieved by the shout of "A crocodile's track!" and after pressing my eye-balls to rid them of the endless rainbows which framed everything, I saw the rut made by his tail in the sand, and on either side his hand-like footmarks. He had gone inshore. We could not wait then, but on their return my friends killed him. I had bargained for his skin or his skeleton, but in the hurry of coming away forgot it.

We waited at the mouth of the Strait till the transport came to take us over. There was no one to receive us; for it appeared that we were expected last night and the whole population turned out to meet us and had gone away disgusted. The first news I heard was that Richard had been shot and Dudley had gone with Sauvai to Rave.

On arriving at my little house, which Jumbosi had kept in perfect cleanliness and order, I found that I was expected to distribute the heap of food which lay upon the beach, and which consisted of seventeen baskets of mash and two hundred cocoa-nuts. I distributed them as fairly as I could. The pig was tied up to await the return of Dudley, who delights in acting as butcher. The people of the place suffocate their pigs. They first wind a tough creeper as tightly as possible round the creature's snout, and then stop up his nostrils with leaves, until, after a long and cruel interval, death ensues. I could not help calling to mind the apostolic injunction to the Church at Antioch, from which it appears that abstinence from things strangled was one of the few "necessary" burdens which the Apostles thought it well to lay on their new converts (Acts xv. 28). I then went back along the beach as far as Konda, Sanvai's village, where I found Richard lying in a small house, dismal in the extreme. Expecting to see a bloody wound, I was agreeably disappointed. His skin was perfectly whole, and this was his story. He had gone to Sara with the rest of the people to wait for me, and while they were sitting there in the moonlight he was shot with charmed [213/214] stone. His pipe and an armlet were broken. "But where did the stone hit you?" "It didn't hit me, it just shaved my temple." "And when did the pain begin?" "This morning I fell down, and all my body is full of pain." "Who threw the stone?" "A Jindalo." What that means I cannot exactly say, the word is used in so many different senses. "Well," I said, "in our country, if a stone hits us on the head we feel pain; but if it misses us, we don't feel anything at all. The fact is, you caught cold by sitting in the dew on the beach; but," I added, "Satan has strong power in these lands and all sorts of evil powers are at work; our only safeguard is prayer to our Heavenly Father, who is stronger than all the Jindalos put together." Next day he was quite well.

Takua made great professions of having accepted the new religion. As he is very rheumatic, and therefore unable to fight, I was at no loss to understand the motives which mainly influenced him. I undauntedly warned him, as I did the people in the kith- on Sunday, that nothing is easier than to profess the new religion, while nothing is more difficult than to practise it. "Oh," he said, "in the old days I used to fight, but now I have heard the words of God, Misi Chrisi, Bishop, and you, I've tapued fighting in my land." His sincerity was soon tested, but not till after he had had a great opportunity of expressing his virtuous indignation against sinners other than himself.

This opportunity was afforded by Ndikea, who (as his two brothers were, so long as it answered their purpose) is a skull-hunter. There is considerable communication between Etefalna's place over at Malanta and Mboli, and all Ete's enemies are the enemies also of Ndikea. Your Malantans, enemies of Ete, came over to Mboli to buy food. While they were there it was reported that Ndikea had gone over to their place on a skull-hunting expedition. A few days after, while I was inshore bathing, I heard a loud and general shout, and was told that Ndikea had landed at Sara, and was killing the four unfortunate visitors. It was a short business, and he was off with his eight skulls (he had got four over the way) which he hung up in a new Tindalo-house which he was furnishing.

"Ndikea is a bad man, a fool, to mar the good behaviour," said Takua. "He does not hear your words like we do." "I have never spoken to him," I said, "but I shall go to Ravi and speak to him there." (An opening for another little trip.) The bodies of the murdcked men were buried by the Sara people next day. Takua seised their canoe as a kind of compensation for the desecration of his immaculate land by bloodshed. This Mala canoe deserves a word or two. As Ete's people live on small artificial coral islets they have no vegetable production whatever, not even a cocoa-nut. So they make money of the shells which lie at their doors, and buy from the shore-people. They also come over to Mboli, and as the passage is long and often rough and a small [214/215] supply of food would not repay the trouble, they build huge tub-like canoes, with great depth of hold, which they fill and pile up to a great height above the gunwale, insomuch that the Mboli people call the moon's phase, when she is near the fall and her cargo of silver light is heaped up in the middle, so as to swallow up the horns of the crescent, "Lunde ni Mala," a Mali' freight; Mala being their name for Malanta. She was brought round and put in the kiala with ton or twelve Mboli canoes. The largest canoe in the house during my stay was Mbeuko, fifty-six feet long, with stem and stern rising to a height of about twelve feet, with all the symmetry of the "horned moon." "Mbeuko's" greatest beam is six feet and depth about four. She carries between thirty and forty men. They make their canoes thus:-- The bottom plank is first laid down (no keel), in shape like the under part of a fish's belly. In a canoe like "Mbeuko," four foot-planks rise on either side of this, gradually assuming the perpendicular. Holes are bored in the edges of these planks, and they are closely tied together with strips of very tough cane. Then the joints are plastered with native pitch, which is the pulpy inside of a nut called the tita, and allowed to harden, or, as in "Mbeuko," is inlaid with mother-o'-pearl and white shell cut into stars and fish, &c. The stem and stern of this fine canoe are jet-black, profusely inlaid with mother-o'-pearl. The ribs ark thick semicircular pieces of tough wood, each plank having a little bracket with a hole in it, left in the adzing, which meets the rib and is tied tightly to it. The paddlers sometimes sit upon these ribs, but in the better craft seats are added, and two forked uprights for stowing spears. They do not use sails, owing to the extreme crankness of these keelless, outriggerless vessels, which skim the water as lightly as the sea foam. All honour to these self-taught artists, who, with adzes of stone and gimlets of flint, felled forest-trees, adzed planks, fitted piece to piece, and framed an object in which convenience is not sacrificed to ornament nor ornament disregarded as superfluous. Vulgarity and bad taste are stingers to native art.

Takua used to ask some questions occasionally about the new religion and our way of life: not that he was particularly anxious to know about them, but he evidently thought it the polite thing to do. "Is it far to our Father's house above? How shall we get up there? shall we climb or fly?" he asked me one day. Another time he wanted to know if there were two suns, and whether we got to the end of the sky in oar voyage eastward. Was the Bishop my brother? Was I married? How many wives should I marry? Why didn't I have one in Norfolk Island and one at Mboli? It grieved him to see me living all alone. These questions would be asked when he and I were lying on our backs in his last and favourite wife's house. Her name was Salu. I saw a great deal of the domestic life of the people, and am glad to find that they like a cosy [215/216] family life. Every man's house is his castle; and there he lives quietly with his wife or wives and children. Each house has a sliding shutter, with which the little door can be completely closed and the strictest privacy insured.

Among many other houses where I used to go and have a. friendly chat was that of a very pleasant old man named Marevo, and his motherly; nurse-like old wife Hanhan. I never went there but they offered me a yam, or an egg, or a bunch of bananas. The house was always very clean and tidy, with mats and fans neatly spread.

The old couple were very sad because they had no little boy to send to Norfolk Island. Two years ago Hanhan promised me a little grandchild of hers named Alombu. He was to go the following year, but the following year the poor little fellow had gone to a better place. The old woman thought his spirit had gone to Norfolk Island, and would hardly believe me when I said I had not seen him. "I burnt the beads you gave me in the fire and sent them to him," she said; "and I cried, cried, cried! until you came and told me not to cry, and that I should see him again; and now I want only to go to him! Ah! my little son!" And all the time she was saying this she was bustling about, sweeping the house, collecting the oven stones, &c., in a most charmingly domestic manner. Alombu was carried off, with hundreds of other innocents, in an epidemic which visited Florida, at the same time that we were suffering from fever at Norfolk Island. "We buried five in the morning amid five in the evening, and five in the morning and five in the [216/217] evening every day," another woman told me, "till we gave up tangi-ing over them! Why, see; are we not all dead! all dead? Where is the crowd which thronged you two years ago? All dead! all gone! Didn't you see them? Didn't they come to you? No? Are you speaking troth?"

I had not seen Dudley for many days, and on asking where he was, I was told, "At Nambuta," a place about a couple of miles distant on the Rave side, where he was catching fish to help Vetema in sacrificing. This was Wednesday, and on Saturday the sacrifice or feast (I cannot clearly say which) took place. I was determined to be present, although Takua tried to keep me away. A space was cleared close to T.'s place, and heaps of food were brought in. There were nine pestles going in mortars four feet deep and a foot in diameter. Another party were busy strangling and tearing asunder four pigs, and cramming the warm blood and fat into bamboos, which were put on the fire, and resulted in something like black puddings.

Every one was greatly excited, streaming with sweat, and shouting and singing with great zest. Takua and I looked on in state. I could not make out whether the affair was a feast to the living Takua or a sacrifice, to a spirit of that name. I cautioned the boys to have nothing to do with it if it was the latter. Dudley padlocked his lips, and worked away like a tiger. At last, when all the cooking was done, and twenty-seven large kits of tutu were neatly arranged in two rows, and the pigs were roasting in shreds thrown on the fires, up came a boy with a note from Manoga, saying, "Are we to eat or not? There's no sacrifice here to evil spirits." I left it to themselves, for they knew better than I; and they all abstained, being in doubt. When the food was distributed, Takua sat on the top of his wall, and called to one of his wives to bring out a certain basket. When this was done, he then called up Ndangivalu and two other men, and began to pay out fathom after fathom of the choicest red native money from the basket, with as much solemnity as if he was paying out the Atlantic cable. It was not quite so long; but it reached from T.'s wall to the feasting-ground, resting on the shoulders of men, as the telegraph wires do on their posts. The money went to Vetema. Suddenly the whole multitude gave a staccato shout; clapped hands, and then fell to. It was an uncouth way of asking a blessing, certainly. In the evening I sat with Takua again, and saw him distribute his wives' portion of the feast, and thought he did it very impartially. Kemasi (Charles' sister) was rather off-hand in her manner, I noticed; throwing her basket to T., and sending her little daughter, Tangalangulu, to fetch her share, as if she rather despised it. I left T. lying out in his coral court-yard, with a blazing fire on either side of him, and wished them all a very good night.

Next morning, after breakfast (fried bananas, biscuit, and coffee, little [217/218] Tangalangulu came crying to the foot of my ladder, and said, "Come, and save mother!" I followed the crying little girl, and as I drew near Kemasi's house I saw blood on the white coral, and on the threshold of the door. As soon as I got accustomed to the dimness of the interior, I discerned Kemasi lying on her back on a native mat, smeared with blood. Stooping down, I found that her nose was nearly severed from her face, and her upper lip out through, while her right eye was blinded by a stream of blood flowing from a deep hole in the corner near the nose. It appeared that soon after I had left them the night before, Kemasi and Koimbisi had both invited T. to their houses; and when T. was in Kemasi's house, Koimbisi came in, and insulted T., besides infringing the tape. The vengeance which fell upon Charles' sister was meant for Koimbisi, who ran for her life, till she was some miles away. T. took an oven-stone, sharp and pointed, in his fist, knocked Kemasi down, and pounded her face with it; and then fled away to Kambuta. Poor Baku was crying most piteously at Kemasi's door, having escaped with a smart box on the ear.

Having bathed Kemasi's face, and brought it together as well as I could with sticking-plaster, I made her a cup of chocolate, for she could eat nothing solid, and then we had our service in the kiala. Immediately afterwards I went to Kambuta in search of Takua. At last I found him a little way inshore, hacking away at the "bush," as if he had an army of Koimbisis to deal with. His face was disgusting to behold, distorted by passion, farrowed with hard work, and streaming with perspiration. As soon as he saw me he stopped. "What have you been killing my mother for?" I said. All his wives were, familiarly, mothers. "They cheeked me," he answered. "I scratched the palm of my hand," holding up that member, "and put my Tindalo into the scratch--my Tindalo with which I sink canoes, and make bows break and I just tapped her head, and she fell among the stones."

His tone of assertion grew faint as he observed the utterly sceptical expression on my face. "Well," I said, "you've killed her; it's your business to come and mend her." He said, he wouldn't go now, as he hadn't finished his work; but that he would come back in the evening. I asked him to call for me first, and we would go over together. He agreed, and I left him to work out his vengeance. He came in the evening, and we went over together. He said his stomach was cool now, and he sat beside her, and paid her great attention. I took the opportunity of pointing out the evil of polygamy, and drew a charming picture of domestic life at home--which, however, has its storms also. My mothers also assured me afterwards that he very seldom flew into a rage like that. Takua had to send many fathoms of money to Koimbisi before she would consent to come back; and Kemasi he bedecked with his own choicest jewellery.

[219] Lave and a Rave party arrived the same evening, and I arranged to go back with him on Monday. I had no difficulty with Takua this time. But, to my surprise and disgust, next day when I was waiting for Lave, who had promised to come and tell me when to start, in bustled Sauvai, in his dancing-master humour, polite, smiling, and full of antics, his facetiousness taking the form of saying, "Ye-es," with a very foreign accent, to almost everything I said. "Have you seen Lave?" I asked. "Ye-es; he 'a gone." "Gone!" I exclaimed; "why, he promised to come and call me." "Ye-es!" was the rather irritating rejoinder. He then proposed to take me himself, the fact being that he had told Lave to go, and he would take me under his charge, and hence his delight.

There was nothing for it but to submit; and really S. was so pleasant and civil, that I soon thawed towards him. Dudley and Richard were to be-of the party. We walked to Kambuta, where the public bathed. Takua saw us off. Our paddle along the shore and among lovely islets was delightful and exhilarating. S. took care not to paddle, but kept every one else hard at work, and shouting out his orders, "Now then, you there" (meaning all the crew, some eighteen or nineteen), "paddle sway, paddle away, paddle away," to "Let 's get our great man ashore. Gently, you! you 're splashing our great man; paddle away, paddle away," &c. &c.

The northern shores of Mboli are very sterile, bearing nothing but scanty, burnt-up grass and oaks, or Aru: reminding one of Norfolk Island from the sea, and all the more pleasing and picturesque on account of the contrast thus presented to all the other islands we visit.

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