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between Christian culture and the last their deep jungles filled with aromatic atrocities of cannibalism itself, I am ferns and riotous luxuriance of all deinduced to record some of the circum- licious green, their dewy glades, their stances in which I was involved by their wonderful starlight over all in the tropiantagonism, and to confess experiences cal nights,--all of these beckoned me so wild, strange, and sometimes crimi- “into the breathing wood," and drew nal, as to make their memory a mixture me away from the little domestic circle of horror with a poetic dream.
and the kind influences of home. My Looking back over a subsequent peri- father, who is still remembered in Wesod of college-training, of English and leyan circles as one of the most active of American life, I sometimes doubt and zealous missionaries that ever left whether I was not, during my boyhood, English ground, was constantly called more truly a savage at heart than a by arduous duties away from home; youth of tender culture. The adven- while my mother was equally busied in tures of my early life, though I have the care of native schools. The consesince learned to regard them as in large quence was that I found a continual part a necessary result of fated circum- opportunity to indulge my love of wild stances, and on that account admitting sports and of out-of-door life, and beof a certain palliation, were yet often came intimate with field, water, wood, of a character so dark and terrible that and mountain, to a degrec almost unI have avoided, heretofore, to give them known in countries of a higher civilizaany publicity, and have even refrained tion and a bleaker climate. I knew from speaking of them in the presence every plant upon the island-hills, every of any but a few intimate friends. The fastness of its cliffs, every secret of its last person, however, upon whom the valleys, every passage in its reefs or recital of the following facts would be subterranean cave in its wave-lashed likely to inflict pain, has now passed shores. away. Since her death, in the early But this knowledge involved an equal part of the present year, I have no intimacy with the savage natives of longer felt that any one survived who Tonga. With them I indulged to the would gladly forget the occurrences I utmost,-but not always, as may be am' about to relate - fragments of an supposed, with my parents' knowledge, experience that in all probability has -my naturally adventurous tastes. I had no fellow in any time or country. went on long expeditions with the chief
Persons whose memory extends to a ish lads and young men among the retime a few years earlier than the com- moter hills, which they and I believed mencement of the present generation to be enchanted, in search of flowers will remember the first establishment and of sweet-smelling nuts to decorate of an English mission upon the Fiji the grass temples of their gods; I knew Islands. My parents were members of their language, at that time, even better that mission, which was an offshoot than the English, though the latter was from one already established in the the only tongue allowed to be spoken Tonga Islands. In this neighboring in my father's family, and I was equalgroup they had been living for sixteen ly familiar with all the traditions, suyears; and there, under the shadow of perstitions, and religious observances of the cocoanut-trees, I was born, soon after the Tongans. I well remember secretly their arrival upon missionary ground. worshipping, on more than one occa
I think that something of the wild- sion, one of their idols,-an ugly image ness of savage life was instilled into my of wicker-work, plaited around a groveins by the very scenery and atmo- tesquely-carved block of thevua, or bassphere of these islands, Their wild tard sandal-work, that bore such a rebeauty, their incessant splendor of surf semblance to humanity as a gargoyle of that foamed like sunny fire upon the Salisbury Cathedral may be supposed to coral reef in front of my father's house, bear to an authentic demon.
In this misdemeanor I was more than cutting its way straight toward us withonce detected by my parents, and suf- out a ripple. fered punishment for sacrilege; yet, It was the white shark,-the most though a mere child at the time this voracious and terrible variety of his occurred, I remember feeling a certain species. injured sensation, as of religious mar- I screamed at the top of my voice, tyrdom, while under castigation; and Auwe! te mano ! Auwe! te mano ! punishment only tended to confirm me, (“ Alas! the shark! the shark ! ”) and as it were, in the heathen church. struck out vigorously for the shore, Thenceforward I led a double life, out- kicking my heels upon the surface of wardly conforming to the civilized pre- the water as I swam. The rest of the cepts of home, while at heart I was large company followed my example; for the ly in sympathy with the savages; and shark is essentially a coward, and will in spite of my parents' precautions I not attack a swimmer as long as he found frequent opportunities to slip splashes the water actively. away and join in the games, festivities, But one of our company, a girl of and ceremonials of the natives. But I about my own age, my favorite playmust not pause to describe more than a mate, had not received any warning of single incident of the Tongan days. the enemy's approach. She dove, the
On one of these occasions, I had gone instant before I gave the alarm, to esvut “surf-playing " with a company of cape the ardent pursuit of one of the twelve or fifteen Tongan youths of the native youths; for the aquatic sports higher rank. The young men and girls of the Islanders involved a degree of of the chiefish families are exclusive in license which will not bear too minute their fellowships, and seldom indulge in a description. She went under like a sports or games except in the compan- water-fowl, and disappeared from him ionship of their own caste. I enjoyed at the instant that she was about to bethe questionable privilege of that fel- come his captive; but she escaped for lowship, however, on account of my the moment, only to be singled out as foreign blood; for the Tongans hold the object of a more terrible chase. the whites in much esteem as nganga
The shark turned his course toward atamai, skilled or dexterous foreigners; Melelina—this was the name of the upreverencing their mechanical skill
, it happy girl and pursued her, as, all must be confessed, much more than unconscious, she was still swimming their civilization, their philosophy, or rapidly under water toward the shore. their religion. Our party was gambol- I saw the shark's fin disappear from the ling, as if natives of the element, in the surface, and knew that she was ignotumbling surf which breaks upon the rant of his approach. I dove instantly, reefs of Vavau; all was going merrily, hoping to see her under water, to touch and the shouts of our company rang her lithe body, and warn her of the danout loudly above the noise of the break- ger before it was too late. ers, as we indulged in contests of speed I knew that she must be within a few in swimming, or of endurance in div- yards of me; but I could not see her, ing, or, poised upon the glittering crest the agitation of the water at the moof the billow, rushed shoreward at race- ment being such as to disperse the light, horse speed upon the surf-board. and render it impossible for the sight
Suddenly I saw a sight that made my to penetrate more than two fathoms in fiushed limbs turn cold with a sudden
any direction. chill,-a glistening fin, cutting through In spite of the terrible excitement of the smooth, undulating surface of the bil- the moment, I did not lose presence of low a few yards seaward, and approach- mind. Instantly I dove a fathom deeping our party swiftly and silently—a er, and reached the jagged surface of slate-colored sharp fin, rounded like the the coral reef; I broke from it, lacerhead of a razor-blade, the edge of it ating my hands in the powerful effort,
two dense fragments of the mushroom as death. The danger flashed upon her cora!, which abounds in these waters, at once, and something of its terror was and struck them sharply together, gir- reflected in hers, as I gasped out: ing the signal by which the Tongan “The shark !--the shark is after you! divers communicate with each other Swim for your life !" while under water. I knew that the All this passed in an instant; and, sound, though entirely inaudible above in the same second, we saw the blue water, would be conveyed with great dorsal fin of the shark at Melelina's side. intensity to a considerable distance be- Quick as lightning, before we could cry neath the surface. In far less time than out, he turned and seized her. it takes to read the account of it, I had I shall never forget that dreadful momade the signal, with two rapid clicks ment. Her face, just now so smiling, (like the telegraphic signal for the letter was instantly drawn with sharp pain. A A)," Come to the surface of the water!” shriek of agony rent the air. She threw
As I repeated this signal, employing her hands wildly toward me, and immeall the strength of a muscular pair of diately the water around her turned a arms, a shadow passed over me, dark- frightful crimson. The poor girl moaned ening the broad, fan-like beams of sun- a few times in my arms, and died, inurlight that now poured down into the sea. muring a few words of the prayer that I glanced upward.
the missionaries had taught her (“E tou It was the shark !
matou Atua!"_"Our Father !") He dashed over me like a flying spear, I bore the body part of the way to apparently intimidated by the sharp the shore ; & broad track of crimson clicking of the coral in my hands-& marked our path as I swam. Those of sound that he had never heard before, the company who had first reached the But I knew that he was in swift pursuit shore, hastily pushed off a canoe and of my beautiful playmate.
came out to us, beating the water with I dropped the corals, and rose for their paddles to scare away the shark. my breath was now almost spent—to But he, apparently sated with a single the surface of the water,
life, did not follow us farther. They My companions were by this time met us near the landing, for we were making rapid way toward the land, not more than half a mile from the kicking and splashing furiously. But shore when the shark attacked us; and, Melelina had not yet appeared. Had upon arriving with the still warm body she already fallen a prey to this mon- of Melelina, the whole village came ster, this ravening devil of the sea ? down to the seaside, with branches of
I gasped for breath. But, in a few the mourning-tree (dilo, a variety of seconds, the glossy black head of the Calophyllum), and uttered those loud young girl sprang above the surface of and doleful wails with which all of the the water, hardly farther from me than South Sea Islanders are accustomed to her arm's length.
mourn the dead. She shook the brine from her curls. It is not my purpose to dwell further Her eyes sparkled. She drew a long upon the adventures, varied and excitbreath, and cried,
ing as they were, which filled up my “ Va lilo ia !"_“I have escaped him! boyish years. It is sufficient to say I swam seaward after diving, and put that, at the age of fifteen, I had become him off the track!”
quite identified in feeling with these She was speaking of the savage, not natives, and was accustomed to spend of that more terrible enemy, of which, as at least a half of my time in their comyet, she knew nothing.
pany. As the Tongans were a kindly, Then, glancing shoreward, she saw indolent race, they displayed no traits the whole company in flight, and beat- that alarmed me, or caused me to shrink ing the brine with their feet. She turn- from their society; but the habits of ed toward me: my face was as ghastly intimacy with savage life which I then
acquired were to lead me, in another tender age, as delicate appetizers at group, into the darker scenes which I some great religious or state festival ; am about to describe. Would that the and, on one occasion, said my informmemories of my early years included ant, they had even kidnapped the child nothing but the record of those com- of a foreign resident, much upon my paratively innocent days spent upon the own years, and served him up as a sideTonga Islands !
dish. Few persons, except those who arc I had not then heard the pleasantries familiar with the missionary enterprises of Sydney Smith about “cold-baked of the South Pacific, are aware that the missionary upon the side-board,” or Fiji Islanders are the most ferocious and of his parting wish, expressed to a bloodthirsty, and the most open and controversial young minister who was undisguised in their ferocity, of all setting out for some cannibal country, Polynesian tribes. It was among this “I hope that you will not disagree with sanguinary people, with whom canni- the man who eats you.” My early imbalism was a public and frequent cus- pressions of cannibalism, derived from tom, a settled national institution, that savages, were pot, in consequence, temmy lot was now to be cast.
pered by the grotesque or humorous; In the year 18–, my parents were they were impressions of unmitigated detached from the Tongan mission, and horror. Yet, I should confess that an sent as pioneers to the Fiji Islands. uneasy curiosity mingled with my dread,
I need not detail the breaking up of and that I was not without a certain our household, the parting from Tonga, anxiety to see, with my own eyes, somethe long and comfortless sea-voyage. thing of the sanguinary practices against Suffice it to say, that we reached our which I was so earnestly warned. Civnew home in safety, and took up our ilization, in the person of my parents, abode upon the lovely island of Lakem- pointed in one direction; paganism drew ba, one of the most eastward of the seven- me in another. ty-four inhabited islands which compose It was in October that our litthe Fiji group. Many and earnest were tle company landed upon the white the injunctions of my parents to avoid, sand-beach of Lakemba. This island in future, the society of the savages. contained a population of about 5,000, They painted in vivid terms the fatal composed in part of immigrant Tonconsequences that might result, not only gans, who had three settlements upon to my character, but even to my life, it. Though not more than thirty miles should I continue such habits of inti- in circumference, it presented one of the macy as I had formed with the gen- most perfect specimens of the tropical tle Tongan Islanders—a wholly differ- scenery of the South Seas. Conical ent people-with a race so wild and hills, clothed with a drapery of the sanguinary as the Fijis.
most luxuriant verdure, and fringed I heard them with mingled incredu. with heavy forests, in which birds of lity and apprehension. The latter feel- Paradise and innumerable parroquets of ing was considerably heightened, when the most brilliant plumage were conan old retainer of my father's family, a stantly flashing to and fro-fantastic Tongan, who had been shipwrecked turrets of volcanic rock-vast crags that many years before upon Vulanga, one stood sentinels over smiling valleysof the Fiji islands, and who had barely mountain-peaks carved and rent by geoescaped with his life from a cruel cap- logic forces into the most fantastic outtivity, assured me that the Fijian can- lines-native villages perched upon cliffs nibals were especially fond of the flesh which seemed even more inaccessible of young lads. They had been known, than the mountain-built cities and moncontinued he, to devour, even after the asteries of the Apennines-deep and larder had been amply provided with rocky ravines through which the mounmaturer victims slain in war, boys of tain-streams brawled and spattered, glittering down their precipitous channels, ly finished a couple of pretty theiched or plunging headlong over the steep cottages, their frames constructed of the wall of the cliffs, to fall in foamy cata- buabua, or Fijian box-wood, with low racts—these are but a few of the fea- walls and a high steep roof. To the tures which lent their charm to these timbers were fastened, with tough cinet, islands. How can I describe their ex- a lattice-work of bamboo-canes; and quisite and romantic beauty! Nor were the whole buildings were then thatched the softer features of tropical landscape with grass, and lined with reeds diswanting ; here were broad belts of co- posed in a pretty reticulated pattern. coanut-trees, with their feathery plumes The dwellings were floored with mats. fringing the shore; the terraced plan- We made partitions after the Fijian tations of the broad-leaved taro-plant fashion, by hanging up screens of the rose one above another upon the hill- native cloth or tapa; and, as we had sides; and masses of stately palms ap- brought furniture and household utenpeared among thickets of the quaint sils from our recent home, we soon found pandanus-tree, which sent down its stout ourselves living almost as comfortably aerial roots in such profusion from its in our grass-houses as we had dwelt in trunk and limbs, that they sometimes the more substantial stone cottages of usurped the office of the original root, Tonga. Our native builders felt amply and the tree derived its entire support rerounerated for their labor by the presfrom these props or shores, while its ent of a few adzes, knives, whales' teeth, yellow flowers filled the air with a and patterns of calico-articles which musky fragrance; or the bread-fruit even now form the staple of currency tree showed darkly among the more in many of the South Sea Islands. brilliant greens of the island flora, pro- For a few days all went well in our jecting upward its large-leaved and
new home; we conversed fluently with massy tower of foliage, as a dense cumu. the natives, whose language was not lus cloud seems to pour itself into the greatly different from that of the Tonsummer air. The forests were draped gans; and, though they did not deny with climbing vines; and one variety their own habits of cannibalism, yet of these, a gigantic woody creeper, we were led to think that the ill-fame wound itself, like a boa-constrictor, which they bore in this respect had around the sturdiest trunks, finally been much exaggerated; for their mandestroying their life in its embrace ners, under ordinary circumstances, are a symbol of arrested national growth affable, lively, and even kind. in the too ardent grasp of nature. But The disproof of our hopes was not, I little thought, as I gazed upon this however, far distant. strange conflict of vegetable life, how But a few days after our oecupation emblematic it was of the moral death
of the grass-houses, a violent storm of of the savage.
wind and rain set in from the northThe establishment of our new home west-an unusual occurrence in this cliwas not a matter of delay or difficulty. mate, and especially in the warm days The king of Lakemba, to whom my of November.* father sent greetings immediately upon
“For here great Spring greens all the year, our arrival, was disposed to be friendly
And fruits and blossoms blush in social sweetness to foreigners; and he detailed a large On the self-same bough." company of natives to construct the houses that our families required. The
The only suggestion of winter, indeed, workmen laid hold of the task with all
was found in the appellation for June the spirit and alacrity that is manifest
and July, which the natives call the vulai lilima, or
" cold moons,
" their ed in a New England house-raising or husking-bee, chattering like macaws,
minimum temperature being 12° centiand gesticulating like monkeys as they grade (63° Fah.). Upon this occasion, worked. In threc days they had entire
* Lakernba lies in lat. 18° 20 S.